Monday, April 28, 2014

A farmer goes to war, his family bears the brunt

Sarah D. Hobbs was desperate. Her 43-year-old husband Carey had joined the 12th New Hampshire Volunteers in August 1862 and left her on their small Dorchester, N.H., farm with their three children, 8-year-old Mira Ellen, 7-year-old Elmon Allen and 5-month-old Carrie Etta.

Other than the hay, the crops were still in the field. Carey had allotted $3.25, a quarter of his $13 monthly private’s pay, to his family, but at least some of this went for the mortgage on the farm.  He counted on the town to help Sarah and the three little ones with their daily needs.

Sarah was new to Dorchester, a town of about 700 people in the western part of the state, but shortly after the 12th New Hampshire left for the front, she went to the selectmen to request aid. They turned her down flat.

Gov. Nathaniel Berry 
When a state Supreme Court grand jury convened in November in Plymouth, 18 miles away, Sarah took her case there. The grand jury indicted the selectmen. It found that town aid was “imperatively demanded by the circumstances of the case.” Hobbs and her children were “indigent, and unable to support themselves.” The indictment charged the three original selectmen, Thomas J. Fitts, Benjamin Davis and Hiram Reed, with “contriving and fraudulently intending to withhold” the money.

Ordered to pay Sarah, the selectman paid her two-thirds of a normal allotment for four months. Then a new board of selectmen, elected in March, stopped the payments.

Fitts, Davis and Reed had appealed their indictment. Dorchester had not appropriated money for aid to soldiers’ families at town meeting, they argued, and they had no power or duty to do so. On this technicality, the indictment was quashed.

Sarah fought on. She was a literate woman, and she wrote to Republican Gov. Nathaniel Berry to plead her case. Her letter is preserved in the correspondence file of Berry and his Executive Council at the New Hampshire State Archives.

Here it is in full: 

                                                                               May 26, 1863

To his excellency Gov. Berry.

Sir, I trust that you will pardon the liberty that I have taken in addressing you, when you have learned my object for writing as I have. The subject to which I wish to lay before you for your consideration is concerning the treatment of many soldiers families whose husbands are now in the service of their country. I will take but one case as a sample of many that have occured during the past year, and that one shall be my own.

My husband enlisted in the 12. N.H. Regt., leaving property to the amount of perhaps $350. and that was in a small farm. The crops were in the field unharvested excepting the hay. I had no money to pay for the harvesting, or to provide other things that are needed in a family.

I am living about eight miles from a mill, nearly five miles from a store. When my husband left home, my oldest child was 8 years of age, my second was about 7, and the youngest about 5 months. Soon after the 12. Regt. left Concord, I called on the Selectmen of our town to get the aid that N.H. has granted to the families of soldiers that are left in my situation. But was met with a prompt refusal. They treated me with the utmost disdain, told me that I would not get it &c.

When the court sat at Plymouth last Nov., I laid my case before the grand jury. There was an enditement found against the selectmen, and they were compelled to pay me about two-thirds of what the law allows me, they paid me up to Feb. 21.

Now we have another board of selectmen of the same stamp who refuse to pay me one cent. As I am situated I hardly know how I am to meet necessary expenses.

My husband has made an allotment but he left home with an understanding that a part of his wages would go to secure our home that he might find his family together should they live, and he be permitted to return from the war. I realize the awful woe and misery to which this cruel war subjects us all. They who are in public, and in private life, feel the blast of its withering power.

And we see there is a party among us who turn everything in their power to a political account. They seem to take every advantage of a law made by Union men, and turn it if possible to some disadvantage to the Union. I realize that it is so with the State aid. Wherever a town is Loyal to their country, I am told that they treat the soldiers families with respect and grant them their just claims.

The final words of Sarah D. Hobbs's plea for the governor's help.
I have not lived in the town where I now reside quite two years. Nearly all the people were strangers to me when my husband went from home. I hardly knew where to go for advice, but I can assure you that I never have yet worried the soldier about the discomforts to which I am sometimes subject.

I wish to know if there cannot be an amendment in this law, when our State’s Legislature meets next month? If so, if there is anything I can do to help the cause, I will do it readily. I have done all that I possible could thus far, not only to help myself but to aid other who must have suffered the past winter had they not been able to get any State aid.

I will leave the subject for your consideration, beging you to excuse this poor composition for other business has pressed my time so I have not had time to write as I should.

                                                                   Yours respectfully
                                                                   Sarah D. Hobbs

The Berry file at the State Archives does not include his response to Sarah Hobbs. Nor do I know whether the Legislature, which met in June 1863, took up her suggestion that the law governing aid to families be liberalized. This was a time when towns and states had begun to put up large bounties for volunteers, and perhaps these reduced the need for state aid.

Sarah Hobbs’s letter is a reminder of how difficult life was for a woman in the man’s world of the 1860s. With her husband gone to war, she was publicly identified as indigent. To get food for her children, she had to appeal to the selectmen, a grand jury and the governor, all men. She was a political neuter – couldn’t vote at town meeting or in elections.

But consider the firm, rational approach Sarah Hobbs took in her letter. She knew that being a newcomer to a small town, especially one with Democratic leanings, worked against her. She was not shy about laying out her case but broadened her plea to include other deprived soldiers’ wives. She assured the governor she was not troubling her husband in the field about home difficulties. And she wrote a succinct assessment of the war’s costs:  “I realize the awful woe and misery to which this cruel war subjects us all. They who are in public, and in private life, feel the blast of its withering power.”

For Hobbs and her children, that blast would soon strike close to home. At Chancellorsville 3½ weeks before she wrote to Berry, the 12th New Hampshire had suffered enormous losses – more than any other Union regiment on the field – but Pvt. Carey Hobbs had survived. Two months later, after Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles moved his corps into harm’s way at Gettysburg, a rebel attack killed 26 men in the 12th. Among them was Carey Hobbs.

In lieu of her husband, Sarah D. Hobbs probably received a small federal pension.

At Gettysburg, the 12th New Hampshire formed for battle facing the Emmitsburg Road, which runs to the right of the
barn and shed in this photo of the Klingle farm. The regiment fell victim to simultaneous attacks from its front and left (beyond the trees). The back of the regiment's monument is visible just to the right of the shed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

So what became of Henry S. Hamilton?

I have spent hours reading Pvt. Henry S. Hamilton’s Reminiscences of a Veteran and boiling it down to what I hope are three interesting stories. The first recounted Hamilton’s immigration and antebellum U.S. Army service, the second his early days with the 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers, the third his regiment’s dispiriting defeat on James Island.

Before I let Hamilton go, I want to share a few thoughts about him and let you know what became of him after James Island.

Hamilton’s ability to tell a story was impressive. He wrote clean, unaffected narrative in an age of florid prose. His powers of observation were keen. He knew how to show, not tell, using concrete details to bring the past to life. His sense of humor and generous spirit lived on the printed page.

What makes this noteworthy is that Hamilton started life as the third of eleven children of a bricklayer and his wife in a walled town in England. His formal education ended at 13, and his father, not knowing what to do with him, apprenticed him out to learn a trade.

Two factors from his early years hint at where his prose style originated. He lived in a literate country and often read for pleasure. And the trade his father chose for him – printing – was often a ticket into the writing life, or at least a life in which good writing became a passion.

Setting type and getting it to press were labor-intensive work during the mid-19th century. The seven-year apprenticeship that Hamilton’s father committed him to at 13 speaks to the difficulty of becoming proficient.

Edward E. Sturtevant of Concord, 1st N.H. & 5th N.H.
Hamilton ran away before completing his apprenticeship, but it wasn’t printing he ran from, it was a cruel boss. When he found himself penniless shortly after the boat dropped him off in New York City, he began walking to Albany and beyond seeking a printing job. Finding none and having to eat, he joined the U.S. Army.

I have found printers galore in my Civil War research. To name two prominent examples, Col. Edward E. Cross of the 5th New Hampshire and Edward E. Sturtevant, New Hamspshire’s first volunteer and later Cross’s major, were both printers – and used their association with newspapers to become superb writers.

Cross’s first newspaper work consisted of somewhat fanciful and heroic stories about the military exploits of men from his state. At the age of 25, he began one of them with a prose ode to the printer’s trade. It went like this:

Col. Cross at Antietam by Charlotte Thibault,
on the cover of a history of his regiment. 
“There is no class of men who have the passion for adventure, the love of excitement, so largely developed, as printers. They are continually wandering from city to city, from land to land – restless, unsettled, and ready to engage in any exercise that promises honor and profit, or affords them an opportunity to ‘see the world.’. . . A printer is well versed in human nature – there is no place like a printing office to sharpen a man’s ideas, and give him a knowledge of the real motives, intents, and actions of humanity. Thus a printer grows wise, as it were, has an inexhaustible store of miscellaneous information, and no one can say that they do not do their part in moving the world.”

Despite the early trials of Henry S. Hamilton’s printing career, he found a place as a printer when he returned home from the war. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The battle of James Island was not the end of Hamilton’s military adventure. After the “wretched failure” of the 3rd New Hampshire’s campaign against Charleston, the regiment’s ranks were “decimated, and our courage was at low ebb,” he wrote. In July 1862 the line of sick men in front of the hospital tent grew longer each day.

Companies of the 3rd camped on different plantations, costing the regiment its cohesion. Hamilton and the band lived in a cotton house on Graham’s plantation. They obtained watermelons, green corn and other food from ex-slaves. It was hot – over 100 degrees some days – and branches and fronds were stuck in the ground to provide shade at the posts of sentinels.

Company H of the 3rd, reduced to about 40 men, camped on Pinckney Island. Early on the foggy morning of Aug. 21, a Confederate force attacked the company, killing its commander, Lt. Joseph E. Wiggin of Sandwich, N.H., and four privates, wounding others and capturing all the rest but six men. (See a fuller account of that story here.)

Thirteen days later, the band started for home. In July Congress had ordered an end to regimental bands. On Sept 2, Hamilton and the other musicians boarded the Star of the South, bound for home. “Although a pang was felt at leaving our comrades with whom we had shared so many hardships, and who, we were assured, were pained at the separation, still, most of the members were glad to return to their homes and friends in the old Granite State,” Hamilton wrote.

Nathan Gove of Concord, N.H., was 12 years old when
he went south with the 3rd New Hampshire band. His
father, also Nathan, was also in the band.
During the Star’s previous voyage horses had fouled the hold in which the men now slept. The food was expensive and wretched. The little drummer boy, Nathan Gove, fell ill on the way home, and the adults cared for him.

Hamilton reached Concord on Sept. 11. He tried to get a commission to return to military service but got no encouragement.

He had written to Nancy Chase Stark, the youngest sister of his old friend Joe, while in South Carolina. Not long after hitting town, he went to the Stark farm and asked her to marry him. She said yes. The native Englishman and the great-grandniece of Gen. John Stark married on Oct. 14. They lived on the farm for 20 years and had four children.

For work, Hamilton “picked up the stick and rule” and landed a printing job with McFarland and Jenks, a prominent and prosperous Concord firm, and later its successor, the Republican Press Association.

Evenings he played in an orchestra and became leader of the 3rd New Hampshire National Guard band. He moved happily in three circles – musicians, printers and war veterans.

In 1872 Hamilton traveled to England to visit his family. He looked up his brother William, who had been just 10 when Henry left for America. William had been an officer for the East India Co. for 12 years. Now he lived near Norfolk with his wife and three children. When the men’s mother heard that Henry had come to visit, she took the first train to Norfolk.

“Poor old Mother!” Hamilton wrote. “As she entered the room where I was, she fell into my arms, and had I not supported her would surely have fallen. She could not speak for several minutes, while the tears coursed down her wrinkled cheeks.”

The next day, Henry visited his boyhood home, where “a young lady of twenty-two threw her arms about me and kissed me. I could not realize that this was my four-year-old, rosy-cheeked little sister, who was at home when I left so suddenly.” His 18-year-old brother, whom he had never seen, stood nearby.

In King’s Lynn, “changes met me at every turn,” he wrote. “New railroads, new docks, new streets, and even the famous ‘Wash,’ where, in 1216, King John and his train of followers were rescued from drowning by the people of Lynn, sent its waters into the harbor through another channel. The ‘Banks,’ where, as a boy, I used to bathe and fish, was now partially under cultivation.” With a raised eyebrow he noted the changes in the schools and church he had attended. He met childhood chums, recognizing none and finding them all “middle-aged men with families growing up around them.”

He sounded like an old-timer in his opinion of all this. “All this progress and improvement must have been a source of great satisfaction and pride to the people of King's Lynn, but for me the old town had lost many of its charms, and, although sad at parting with my relatives, I came away with less regret than I did on a former occasion.”

In 1882, Hamilton and his family moved to Manchester from the Stark farm in Concord. Four years later, he went back to Lynn after receiving “the startling news that both my parents were dead. As I approached the house, a feeling of deep sadness came over me, for no father or mother were there to greet me; the curtains were gone from the windows, the door-plate had been removed, and the old homestead looked desolate and forlorn.”

By law and against their father's wishes, Henry’s oldest brother had taken possession of the house. He had sold off the contents for a pittance.

Hamilton returned home thinking that “in choosing a home in New England I had made no mistake; for I liked its laws, loved its people, and had adopted its customs.”
Postcard from shortly after the turn of the 20th century shows some of the New Hampshire Grand Army of the Republic
buildings at the Weirs on Lake Winnepsaukee in Laconia. In 1924, a fire destroyed the 40-year-old 3rd N.H. building.  
When he wrote his memoirs in 1897, at the age of 63, attendance at 3rd New Hampshire reunions at The Weirs in Laconia had dwindled. He called the site a Mecca – a place where “old comrades meet and talk of the scenes and trials of the march and the camp.” But only nine other members of the band had responded to the roll call at that year’s Grand Army of the Republic encampment.

“The war veterans, one by one, are slowly but surely passing away,” he wrote. “Their familiar forms will soon be seen no more. The sound of the last tattoo and ‘Lights out’ is not far in the distance; and the soldiers of the Civil War will be but memories of the past.”

[Thanks to Dave Morin, my friend and a proud owner of an original copy of Hamilton's memoir, for calling my attention to it.] 

Friday, April 25, 2014

An immigrant bandsman in the face of battle (3)

[Here are links of part one and part two of Henry S. Hamilton's story.]

Despite the warmth of late spring and the fear of illness, the 3rd New Hampshire had settled into camp at Port Royal, S.C., by the beginning of June 1862. The men heard rumors of battle, and soon enough one came.

In his memoir, Reminiscences of a Soldier, Henry S. Hamilton, the cornet player from King’s Lynn, England, described the camp during this quiet interlude. 

Col. John H. Jackson (right) in front of his tent. (Henry P. Moore photo)
The men now placed their bedding on floors or trunks they had installed in their tents. This kept sand fleas from stealing their sleep while netting blocked out the mosquitoes that feasted on them by day. Men walked the abandoned cotton fields to fill their tin cups with blackberries. They ate a fish called “periwinkle” from nearby creeks. And no hardtack for them: they had enough sugar and flour to make pancakes every night.

Sometimes they harvested mushrooms, Hamilton wrote, “but our New England boys had never acquired a taste for a fungus of that nature, and believed that they were poisonous, ‘nothing but toadstools.’ ” Some ate them anyway, and when these men didn’t drop dead, some naysayers changed their minds.

This life of peaceful plenty ended at 3 o’clock on the sultry morning of June 2, when the regiment turned out in full gear for a march. After ten miles the men reached the wharf, where they boarded the steamer Planter to John’s Island. There they marched nine miles inland in sweltering heat. Most jettisoned overcoats and other gear, some ran out of water, and many dropped beside the road. They made camp at 5 p.m., but stragglers wandered in till midnight.

The next morning at 2:30 a.m., the regiment was off again, to James Island. By then Hamilton had been assigned as bugler for Lt. Col. John H. Jackson of Portsmouth. Jackson had assumed command of the regiment and was soon to be promoted to full colonel. The regiment’s original commander, Col. Enoch Q. Fellows was heading home to Sandwich. Two months later, he would be appointed colonel of the new 9th New Hampshire.

The men camped on James Island within artillery range of the Confederate fort at Secessionville, and shells fell in their midst. They were close to a fight now. The campaign’s mission, commanded by Brig. Gen. Henry Benham, was to destroy rebel defenses on the island, opening the way to the capture of Charleston.

For a week batteries and gunboats fired day and night. One morning Hamilton walked through a field of rebels killed by the shelling. Band members served on the details that carried in the wounded from the field, staffed the field hospital and loaded wounded men onto a steamer bound for the hospital at Hilton Head.

The men of the 3rd New Hampshire slept in the open, where the moans and cries of the wounded disturbed their sleep. Constant rain had drenched their clothing, which stuck to the skin. By the time their tents finally arrived, most of them had “the scratch.”

On June 15, each man was issued 60 rounds of ammunition and orders to rise at 2 the next morning. The objective, Fort Lamar at Secessionville, an earthwork defended by four infantry regiments and a six-gun artillery battery.

The battle of James Island (Secessionville). The 3rd N.H. led Brig. Gen. Horation Wright's column on the far left of the
map. Follow the arrows to its position near the fort. The mud around Simpson Creek kept the 3rd from entering the fort.
Col. Jackson marched six companies toward the fort, pausing only to pick up the other four companies, which had been on picket duty. The full regiment, more than 600 officers and men, approached the fort’s northwest wall, which stood beyond a wood and a creek. The 3rd had been ordered to act in support, but Jackson realized the units it was supposed to assist were not yet present. He advanced his regiment to within 40 yards of the enemy works, with a tall observation tower looming above them. Expecting more Union troops at any moment but seeing none, Jackson  ordered his men to fire.

Henry W. Benham, a general from
Connecticut., commanded the 6.000-
man force that attacked Fort Lamar.  
At first it looked like a brilliant move. The fire from the 3rd chased off the rebels manning a battery. But the marsh and creek between the regiment and the fort kept Jackson’s men from exploiting their success. In his after-battle report, he wrote of this moment: “It would have been very easy for me to have gone into the fort, provided I could have crossed a stream between me and the earthworks, about twenty yards in width, with apparently four or five feet of water, and the mud very soft; the men, therefore, could not cross.”

The rebels rallied. A battery in the rear opened on the 3rd with grape shot. Infantry fire soon followed before another battery kicked in with shot and shell.

Confederate infantry reinforcements headed for the earthworks along the 3rd’s left flank. The men shot volleys into them, but many of the rebels made it into the earthworks and, under the cover of the fort’s walls, returned the favor, opening a severe fire on the 3rd.

“Their number was so large we could not cope with them to any advantage, and, by this time, the other batteries, both in our rear and the one at the north of us, opened afresh on us, with more effect than ever,” Jackson wrote. Some of his men had by now fired 50 rounds. Their weapons were so dirty some had to shoot away rammers that stuck in the barrels.

Still in advance of the other troops of their division, the 3rd had no choice, in its colonel’s view, but to escape its perilous position. The men disengaged “in good order,” Jackson wrote, eventually moving to the rear.

Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens led the
main attack on the fort. A native of
Massachusetts and a Democrat, he
had  been appointed by Franklin
Pierce before the war as the first
governor of the Washington
The 3rd’s assault had been a flanking attack while the main federal force under Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens pushed toward Fort Lamar’s southwest ramparts. These troops had no creek to cross, but their attack failed. The New Hampshire men had indeed silenced a battery in the fort by chasing off its crew, and it stayed silent until an officer taught a new crew to fire the cannons.

As a band member, Hamilton’s role was to remove the wounded from the field after the shooting stopped. Over the din of battle he heard the cheers as his comrades attacked the works again and again. Afterward, he and the other band members crept out amid the groans of shattered men calling for help. They kept their eyes on the ground, “picking out the wounded from the dead, and, as tenderly as possible, placing them in the ambulances to be carried to the hospital, and administering water to the parched throats of the suffering fallen, torn by shot or shell, or encouraging them as best we could with words of comfort.”

Hamilton heard the jeers of the Confederate defenders on the ramparts of Fort Lamar. “Damned Yankees!” they called out, and “Bull Run!” Despite his intense anger, he dared not respond, as only the rebels’ “tolerance in not firing us” allowed the band members to do their work.

Back at camp, Hamilton recognized the great contrast between the mood now and the mood that morning. His comrades had “left with full ranks, good courage, and great enthusiasm, but sorrow was now depicted on every face. . . . There was scarcely a tent but had one or more vacant places.”

In this period drawing. Gen. Benham's right wing, under Gen. Stevens, attacks Fort Lamar. The frontal assault failed, and
the two generals argued publicly afterward over who was at fault for the failure. Benham won the argument. Note the
75-foot observation and signal tower on the southwest edge of the fort.
Hamilton and the other musicians worked all day and into the night attending to the wounded at the field hospital. “We washed them, changed their clothing, and gave them food and stimulants, and also assisted the surgeons. We obtained but a few hours’ sleep, and again the next day, went through the same ordeal.”

Brig. Gen. Horatio G. Wright of Connecticut led
the division on the left of Benham's force,
including the 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers. 
The assault on Fort Lamar was a stinging defeat. Union forces lost 685 killed and wounded, the Confederates 204. The 3rd New Hampshire had entered the fight with 623 officers and men. It lost 104. Its 27 dead and mortally wounded were a quarter of the loss of the entire 6,000-man federal force.

The band had two more duties shortly after the battle, and both required them to pick up the horns and drums they had left behind in camp to go to battle as nurses, stretcher-bearers and care-givers.

Four of the regiment’s wounded died and had to be buried the next day. “It was a solemn scene as they were borne to their graves, on the shoulders of their sorrowing comrades; the band, with slow, noiseless step, with muffled drums, playing the ‘Dead March in Saul,’ followed by the regiment.” Many men cried.

The band’s last act of the Battle of James Island or the Battle of Secessionville (it was called by both names) was to ease the regiment back to life. “A battle, even to the victorious side, is depressing,” wrote Hamilton, “but to the defeated it is heart-rending. The men walk about in silence, and a gloom seems to pervade the entire camp. On this evening we were called out and played a few inspiring airs, which, for the time being, seemed to dispel the gloom.”

Next: So what became of Henry S. Hamilton?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The terror of reading the casualty list

Originally from Danbury, N.H., twins Selwin and Samuel Reed were 18 when they joined the 7th New Hampshire
Volunteers from Fisherville (modern-day Penacook) in 1861. Samuel was wounded during the initial assault on Fort
Wagner and later killed in the 7th's fight at Olustee, Fla. Selwin made corporal in 1863 but died of disease soon after.

Anyone who reads newspapers from the Civil War years can sense the terror with which loved ones at home regarded them. In northern towns and small cities most papers were weeklies, but in New Hampshire, for example, the big Boston dailies were delivered by train. People at home knew where their soldiers were and pored over reports of any battle that might involve them.

Casualty lists might appear soon after a battle, but experience taught readers to distrust them. Occasionally a happy story circulated after a soldier was reported killed that in fact he had survived. These stories cheered people because they were the exception, not the rule.

Then 7th's Pvt.  Dexter E. Prichard, 24, of
Boscawen, N.H. was killed at Fort Wagner.
The vast majority of mistakes in casualty lists ran the other way. A dead man had been left off the list or the somewhat hopeful notation that a man was only “slightly wounded” turned out to be false. Thousands of wounded men died slow deaths from dirty medical tools or wrongheaded procedures. The “missing” sometimes disappeared, buried by the enemy in common graves. Some withered away in military prisons.

Particularly in certain climates – Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana – lethal fevers became epidemic. To follow the deaths from these in the newspapers required careful reading. A death from disease might warrant a line or two, but the papers ran no long lists of men killed by sickness. When trains carried a regiment home, especially from Louisiana, wives, mothers and fathers often learned only after searching through train-car windows at the station that their loved ones were dead.

These thoughts occurred to me a couple of days ago when I came across a letter written in 1862 by Harvey H. Martin, a 22-year-old private in the 7th New Hampshire regiment. Wanting to know more about Martin, I Googled him and looked him up in Augustus Ayling’s invaluable register of New Hampshire Civil War soldiers.

I learned that Martin was from Weare, N.H., and had been killed in the 7th New Hampshire’s assault on Fort Wagner, S.C., on July 18, 1863 In Our War I tell the story of this battle through the eyes of a sergeant in the 7th. In near-darkness the men marched across a narrow strip of sand and attacked a fort that had survived a day-long artillery barrage with little human loss. Like the 54th Massachusetts before it, the 7th New Hampshire was slaughtered.

It was hard even to count the casualties, as many were left in the fort and initially reported missing. Wartime reports put the numbers at 41 killed, 119 and 55 missing, but Ayling’s register, published much later, lists 77 dead. The death of many of the missing probably accounts for the discrepancy.

Pvt. Warren E. Kimball of Salem was badly
wounded at Fort Wagner and taken prisoner. He
died in Charleston the day after the battle.
Eleven officers, including the regiment’s colonel, Haldimand S. Putnam, were killed. One has to be careful about accepting such claims, but after the war it was said that the 7th’s loss of officers was the greatest for any Union regiment in a single battle.

My search also turned up a contemporary casualty list for the battle. It ran in the New York Times on July 28, 10 days after the battle. The Times listed dead, wounded and missing from New York and New England regiments. The editor who prepared the list noted optimistically: “It must be remembered, however, that very many are included whose wounds will not incapacitate them for active duty for more than a few days.”

In the event, although some of the wounded did indeed recover, the true casualty list was far grimmer than the one in the Times. I compared the newspaper’s list for two companies – Harvey Martin’s Co. D and one chosen at random, Co. H – with the Ayling register.

In Co. D, only one wounded man died – 19-year-old Pvt. George W.F. Stevens of Somersworth, N.H., who was taken to Charleston by the rebels and died five days after the battle. At least six of the missing, including Martin, were already dead or soon would be. The other five were Gilbert F. Dustin, 27, the first sergeant from Hopkinton, and Pvts. Alonzo A. Busher, 20, of Chester, Jesse F. Cleaves, 22, and Benjamin W. Colby, 43, both of Somersworth, and Michael McKone, 23, of Dover. McKone died in a Richmond prison five months after the battle. Another missing man, 19-year-old Samuel A. Wood of Stoddard, was never heard from again.

Co. H fared even worse. Six of its wounded and seven of its missing died.

As you scan the list of 7th New Hampshire casualties, think what it must have been like for the families, friends and neighbors of soldiers from this regiment to read the list. The worry and dread these readers experienced spread across both North and South after every big battle.     

The Times headline on the list read:


Partial Lists of Killed and Wounded in the New-York and New-England Regiments

Under “SEVENTH NEW-HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT,” here’s the list:

Field and Staff.

Col. H.S. Putnam -- killed.
Adjt. H.G. Webber -- contusion.
Sergt.-Maj. G.F. McCabe -- wounded.



Sergt. B. Cummings.
Corp. L. Miller.
Corp. A.H. Fess.
Corp. C.P. Aldneson.
Corp. A. Bell.
C.F. Grinnell.
R. Greenwood.
O.P. Hanscomb.
T. Haren.
J. Hobin.
E. Poor.
Corp. A.L. Foss.
W.P. Henry.
-- Ingerson.
J. Stone.
J.W. White.



1st Lieut. Ezra Davis.


2d Lieut. George Taylor -- severely.
Corp. Hunt -- severely.
Thomas Morse -- slightly.
B.R. Pratt -- slightly.
Sergt. Lawrence -- slightly.
Sergt. Lymington -- slightly.
Corp. Dodge.
Henry Davis.
D. Nichols.
G.W. Page.


D. Towle.
J.A. Stevens.
Charles Newell.
J.D. Meserve.
J. Hays.
J.B. Hall.
L. Gould.
D.A. Davis.
C.E. Bailey.
L.H. Cummings.
George Vincent.



Capt J.B. House, severely.
Corp. J.H. Harris.
Corp. M. Rowes.
S. Applebee.
J.L. Currier.
C. Hall.
D. Pettengill.
A.A. Smith.
F.W. Sleeper.


1st Lieut. A.H. Cate, supposed dead
2d Lieut. A.J. Lane, supposed dead.
Sergt. C.E. Chase.
Sergt. E.A. Bruce.
Sergt. D.F. Hinksens.
C.A. Brown.
-- Clark.
H.J. Gile.
H.A. Healey.
S.D. Smith.
C. Nevins.
C.F. Lee.
J. Luoey.
J.L. Corliss.
S.D. Smith.
E.H. Stark.



2d Lieut. A.N. Bennett.


1st Lieut. W.C. Knowlton, slightly.
Corp. J.H. Caldwell.
Corp. L. Emery.
Corp. Geo. W. Berry.
Corp. O G. Burtt.
C.L. Farmer.
P. Griffin.
H.D. Harris.
J.M. Kenneston.
J.G. Sargent.
George W.F. Stevens.
Jos. Stone.


1st Sergt. J.F. Dustin.
Corp. Harvey W. Martin.
A.M. Hind.
A.A. Busher.
J. Cleavis.
B.W Colby.
C. Grant.
M. McKone.
S.A. Wood.



Corp. R. O. Farrand.
O.B. Abbott.
Geo. W. Elliott.
Charles Stevens.

Private Bradford H. Holmes, 20, of Concord, was listed as missing, but
he had been killed in the battle. 

2d Lieut. H.W. Baker
Sergt. A.G. Stearns.
Sergt. Geo. W. Haven.
Sergt. Jos. W. Teal.
L.F. Conner.
E. Daggett.
Geo. Gilman.
John Glancy.
W.E. Kimball.
B.H. Holmes.
Samuel McElery.
R. Nolan.
D. Pritohard.
L.G. Raymond.



Corp. M.V.B. Perkins.
Corp. J.C. Bickford.
Corp. M. Hanson.
A.L. Litchfield.
Robert Alsop.
G. Dudley.
W. Wentworth.
A. Wentworth.
J. Welch.
F. Dunn.
G.W. Ripley.
G.E. Barrett.
P. Hangley.
J.A. Rand.
Samuel Downias
J. Perkins.
D.C. Brown.
J.A. Welch.
G.F. Smith.
P. Maguire.


Sergt. F.F. Meeder.
Corp. J.M. Durgin.
F.J. Bradford.
A.H. Blake.
J.N Patterson.
E. Perking.
O. Peirson.
J.L. Sinclair.



Capt. H.B. Leavitt.


1st Lt. P.C. Ham -- severely.
Sergt. J.W. West.
Sergt. J.A. Jacobs.
Corp. G.A. Bridger.
Corp. M.H. Tash.
J.T. Colbath.
J. Gooley.
J. White.


W. Campbell.
J. Cotar.
L.E. Edgerly.
M. Riley.
L. Whidden.
H.W. Nilley.
T.C. Young.



Capt. W.W. Ames -- slightly.
1st Lieut. J.H. Worcester -- missing.
Sergts. W.F. Spaulding.
Sergt. F. Lovejoy.
Corp. W.J. Spaulding.
Corp. D.W. Hayden.
Corp. O. Robinson.
C.E. Arlin.
J.P. Bills.
A.E. Burrell.
M.H. Brown.
D.E. Caverley.
J.H. Chase.
W.B. Dow.
B.F. French.
J.L. Garland.
C.A. Hale.
Warren Lewis.
J.M. Ladd.
G.E. Marshal
C.H. Ordway.
Wm. Stevens.
Rufus Ward.


Corp. J.N. Perkins.
O. Abbott.
A.J. Berry.
J.C. Howard.
F.P. Head.
F.K. Hoyt.
W.W. Mayo.
J.C. Morrell.
E.M. Nelson.
F.B. Robinson.
J.C Relation.



1st Lieut Charles Cain -- severely.


Sergt. C.E. McPherson.
Corp. M. Mulligan.
W.P. Elliot.
W.H. Farmer.
J.H. Gregg.
E.B. Hodgman.
M.H. Hawkins.
J.H. Smith.
Samuel Thompson.
Albert W. Worcester.
Sergt. Bachder.
Sergt. Brown.
Corp. C.A. Rowell.
W.R. Bixby.
Pat Brown.



Capt. W.E.F. Brown.


1st Lieut. L.W. Fogg slightly.
Sergt. Hadley.
Geo. Rainy.
Josiah Gage.
Albert Gammett.
Paul Whipple.
James York.
Levi Pitman.
Hugh McDoyle.
Charles Clark.

Lorenzo Rodgers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

An immigrant's first taste of camp life in South Carolina (2)

Part one of Henry S. Hamilton's story is here.

The 3rd New Hampshire band. Henry Hamilton is the third cornet player from the right in front row. The picture is one
of many shot by Concord photographer Henry P. Moore at Port Royal, S.C. A chapter  in Our War tells Moore's story. 
 In the late spring of 1861, when Henry S. Hamilton arrived in Concord, N.H., war was all the talk. Southern secessionists had fired on Fort Sumter in April, and the young men of Concord were rushing to arms.

Closeup of Hamilton from
the photo above.
Hamilton was an immigrant from England and a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 10th Infantry Regiment. After duty in Minnesota and Utah, he came to Concord at the invitation of Joe Stark, an army buddy and a descendant of John Stark, New Hampshire’s Revolutionary War hero.

Stark had no desire to serve further in the military or to run the family farm. In 1860, a prospector named Elias Pierce had found gold in Idaho, then part of Washington Territory. With his new wife, Stark joined the rush for the gold fields on Nez Perce tribal land.

Had Stark not left, he might have faced the scorn of his fellow citizens. Hamilton described the atmosphere in New Hampshire’s war-obsessed capital in his memoir, Reminiscences of a Veteran: “As the stay-at-homes remarked, it required less courage to go than it did to remain at home.”

Hamilton had no home to stay in. A former bugler, he had joined a Concord band shortly after arriving to town. When he heard that the band-master, Gustavus W. Ingalls, was recruiting a 24-musician band for the 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers, he signed up. Like most of the 24, he played the back-firing cornet.

In August 1861, the regiment camped for training on a flat patch of the intervale just east of the Merrimack River in Concord. They did not have time to learn much, but camp life was eventful. A private from Laconia cut his throat with a razor for want of liquor, and another from Manchester nearly drowned bathing in the river. The men were issued gray uniforms and muskets with a promise of receiving Enfield rifles, which, as Hamilton noted, cost $23.50 each plus a shipping charge.

Col. Enoch Q. Fellows
Their colonel was Enoch Q. Fellows, a 36-year-old from Sandwich, N.H. He had gone to West Point (Class of 1848) but not graduated. Before the war he had served as doorkeeper of the state Senate and inspector at the Boston Customs House.

On Sept. 1, the regiment turned out for the first time in uniform and full gear. The sun was so hot that several men fainted and a few suffered sunstroke. Two days later, the regiment marched across the bridge and to the Concord train station to the music of its own band and the Concord Serenade Band.
Hamilton wrote of the regiment’s departure with bittersweet feelings:

“It was inspiring to witness the thousands of people, from all parts of the state, who had congregated in the streets and at the station – parents, wives, sisters, and sweethearts – crowding for a last kiss, a shake of the hand, and, with tears dimming many eyes, a last fond look at loved ones, whom they might never, (and in many cases did not) see again.

“I was much depressed at seeing such expressions of affection, for I knew that in that vast throng, not a pang and scarcely a thought was for me. Still, I was comforted by the assurance that across the ocean, in a little ivy-covered cottage by the sea, a fond mother daily prayed for the safety of her wandering boy.”

Just before the train pulled out, the Concord band played “Auld Lang Syne,” and well-wishers gave the regiment one more cheer. Hamilton was impressed with the flags waving in every city along the way until the 3rd reached Maryland. There “the American flag was conspicuous by its absence, and it was evident that disloyalty was rampant among most of the inhabitants.”

The regiment took a steamer to Port Royal, S.C., arriving on Nov. 7 after a voyage of 3½ weeks. Hamilton liked the look of the place. “It was only an island, but fertile and picturesque,” he wrote, “with its beautiful groves of Southern pine, magnificent live oaks, festooned with light green trailing moss, which is one of the pleasing features of a Southern forest, palmetto trees, more noted than beautiful, the stately magnolia, with its gorgeous and fragrant blossoms, groves of oleanders, orange and lemon trees, sea island cotton, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, peanuts, melons, and every kind of vegetable.” Amid all this lushness alligators, wood-ticks, fleas and mosquitoes also throve.

With a contraband cleaning boots to their right, three honchos of the 3rd New Hampshire band pose before the band-master's tent. The three are Gustavas W. Ingalls, the band-master, Samuel F. Brown, treasurer, and D. Arthur Brown, deputy band-master. The photo is by Henry P. Moore of Concord.
The men were marched to a 200-acre cotton field where the bolls were ready for picking. They destroyed the crop and pitched their tents. After making camp many men went out and foraged peanuts. The next morning they harvested oysters for breakfast from a nearby creek.

Hamilton and a few others took an excursion to investigate local plantations. The first three they visited had been looted, but they persisted. Six miles from camp, they found an abandoned plantation house still furnished. They took oranges from the trees in the yard. They dressed a sheep and lugged half of it back to camp. Hamilton carried off a few books and pictures.

This plantation house on Edisto Island served as Col. Enoch Q. Fellows's headquarters. (Henry P. Moore photo)
A short time later he went on a six-day reconnaissance mission headed by Lt. Col. John H. Jackson, a 46-year-old Mexican War veteran from Portsmouth, N.H. Hamilton acted as the party’s bugler.

The men went to several islands and to Bluffton, S.C., but encountered few enemy soldiers. They did bring back the usual haul of booty – a silk umbrella, a baby carriage filled with bedding and choice walking sticks. Henry Hill, the chaplain from Manchester, rode back to camp with a bag of curled hair. Hamilton, who took an ornament from the pulpit of a church, presumed Hill would use the hair to stuff a pillow.

In camp the men dug wells and hauled in palm fronts and branches for shade, but they could not ward off the diseases of a warm climate. Ingalls’s band played at many a funeral.

A back-firing cornet hanging from the tent pole, three members of Gus
Ingalls's band pose for Concord photographer Henry P. Moore.  
On some spring evenings the band played at the wharf on Edisto Island, where former slaves, now considered contrabands of war, were still working the plantations. The black workers gathered round, and on a signal from Col. Fellows, the band struck up “Dixie,” their favorite dance tune. It made “the contrabands fairly wild," Hamilton wrote. "For half an hour they would give vent to their feelings by the liveliest plantation breakdowns, contortions, and grimaces, to the delight of both officers and men.”

Hamilton knew the men in the ranks whispered about the musicians. “Sneering remarks are sometimes heard respecting regimental bands – how lazy and what a useless appendage they are – but let a regiment be deprived of music, if only for a short time, and their services are appreciated.”

Neither the infantrymen nor the horn-players knew that the ennui of camp life, looting raids and pleasant evenings of music were about to end for the 3rd New Hampshire. In mid-June of 1862, orders came for a major reconnaissance of James Island, near Charleston. The regiment’s war was about to begin.

Next: The battle of James Island and the end of Henry S. Hamilton’s war.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The hit parade and scenes from the war

Print of New Hampshire's coastal port, where the 2nd New Hampshire mustered in 1861.  
Part two of Henry Hamilton’s story is coming soon, but first . . .

March was a record month for traffic on the Our War blog, with more than 3,200 hits. The total has surpassed 31,000. Thank you.

To illustrate this post I thought I’d put up a few recent New Hampshire items that have appeared on eBay. 

And, as I did last month, I’ll start by recommending a few posts that I like which are not on the most popular lists.


‘Oh this pen cannot describe my feelings’: A mother laments that her only son has gone off to war. 

‘The whole face of nature smiled at harvest time’: The 14th New Hampshire in battle at Winchester.

Remembering Lincoln: The thoughts of a New Hampshire U.S. senator who knew him well.

‘It would be a pleasure to linger here’: A New Hampshire reporter writes from Gettysburg.

Captain Gordon’s war: From the letters of a 2nd New Hampshire officer.

From Fredericksburg to war’s end: A pious private’s life at the front. 

A Confederate captain at Gettysburg: An articulate rebel tells the other side of the story

Making the Civil War relevant: A teacher’s thoughts about the Civil War and young people. 

Ambrotype of an unidentified 7th New Hampshire soldier. 
Busiest posts since Feb. 15

Recent posts about the circus impresario Yankee Robinson and Col. Edward E. Cross’s ride to Gettysburg shot quickly to the top in readership of posts from the last two months.

Leaf of a 1982 book purporting to show uniforms of original 7th New Hampshire Volunteers 
All-time Top 25

“A Gettysburg veteran who knew the battlefield by heart,” the story of Charles Hale’s postwar work as a guide at the battlefield, continues to climb on the list. Two relatively early posts have also moved into the rankings. Hits on the top 25 posts range from 174 to 548. The number in parentheses is last month’s ranking.

18. History’s touch (16)

21. My friend Chester (20)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coming to America: An immigrant horn player takes the grand tour, courtesy of Uncle Sam (part one)

Had there been such a concept in the mid-19th century, Henry S. Hamilton would almost certainly have been declared an illegal alien. After all, he ran away from a 14-year commitment to the British Army, sneaked onto a steamer to Liverpool and boarded a ship for America.

From there Hamilton’s story took a hard turn, followed by an ironic turn. Much later, as a productive and esteemed private citizen, he married a descendent of New Hampshire’s preeminent Revolutionary War hero, John Stark.

An 1835 map of Lynn, the walled port town where Hamilton was born. 
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hamilton left us his life story in an 1897 memoir called Reminiscences of a Veteran. Let’s start at the beginning.      

Hamilton was the third of 11 children born to a bricklayer and his wife in Lynn, also known as King’s Lynn, a walled borough town in Norfolk County on the east coast of England. After he finished the local academy at the age of 13, his father apprenticed him to a printer for seven years.

Hamilton hated the printer. The pay was meager (the equivalent of a quarter a week to start), but worse, the printer abused him. One day, when Hamilton was 19, the printer kicked him for taking a dinner hour that the printer considered too long. Hamilton lashed back.

He ran away from the apprenticeship on May 1, 1854. In Cambridge he enlisted in the 11th Hussars with the promise of going to the Crimean war. He traveled to London, where with a contingent of 50 recruits, he was lowered onto the straw-covered floor of a steamer’s hold. The men made their beds of the straw.

The South Gate of Lynn, a walled town (see map above).
Writing about his comrades, Hamilton expressed a feeling common to new soldiers. “Here were wealth and poverty, intelligence and ignorance side by side, but all were animated by the same purpose: all willing to share alike the dangers and privations of war.”

The lure of camaraderie faded during cavalry training in Ireland. “I began to think that the wearing of a gaudy regimental suit, with clanking sword and jingling spurs, was not all pleasure,” Hamilton wrote, “and that the printing office was not the hardest place after all.”

Sheepishly he asked his father for money to buy his discharge. His father sent 25 pounds, but Henry had trouble converting the note to cash. He went AWOL, came back and was sent to the guardhouse. When he finally got his cash, he ran again and took a boat across the Irish Sea from Dublin to Liverpool. There he boarded the Isaac Wright, one of 413 passengers setting sail for America.

“It would be impossible to describe my feelings at that instant,” he wrote. “I felt sad, and at the same time glad. My sadness was caused by the thought of leaving home and friends, without even the privilege of bidding them good-by – friends whom, in all probability, I would never see again, and going to a foreign land, among entire strangers. While I was glad to think I was escaping from cruel hardship, and going to a country whose government recognized no titles, where rich and poor, high and low, all shared alike.”
He added a couplet from a schoolboy song called “Cheer, Boys, Cheer”: 

Here we had toil and little to reward us,
But there shall plenty shine upon our pains.

The voyage took six weeks. Food was scarce, quarters cramped, and the ship hit a three-day storm in the mid-Atlantic. The tedium of the journey soon overtook Hamilton’s sense of adventure. By the time the storm hit, “all the romance of a sea voyage, which had been conjured up in my youth by a perusal of Robinson Crusoe and similar books, had well-nigh died out.” He rejoiced at the sight of tugboats heading out to guide the Isaac Wright into New York harbor.

A boarding-house shyster and others relieved Hamilton of all his money his first day ashore. Together with a shipboard friend, he walked to Albany, then Troy, and started for Buffalo, nearly 300 miles away, looking for work. Nowhere could Hamilton find a printing job. He gave up, trudged back to Albany and, on Oct. 14, 1854, enlisted for five years in the U.S. Army.

Jesse Gove of Concord, N.H., Hamilton's commanding officer.
He trained in the Northeast and made sergeant in the 10th U.S. Regulars. His company commander was Capt. Jesse Gove* of Concord, N.H., whom he saw as “a brilliant officer and a perfect gentleman” but also a tough disciplinarian. While some Southern officers treated their men as slaves, Hamilton wrote, Gove considered them human beings.

Gove’s wife, “one of Concord’s fair daughters, accompanied her husband in all his early campaigns, and proved herself in this, as in all other things, the captain’s brave and noble helpmeet.” At Fort Ridgely in Minnesota, the Goves had a daughter, whom they named Jessie Ridgely Gove. She became “the daughter of the regiment,” Hamilton wrote.

He never forgot an order early in his service to flog a man who had been caught running away. Of course, he himself had fled the British army twice. Reluctantly, and as quickly as he could, he delivered 50 lashes with a knotted rope. “Throughout this punishment my sufferings, mentally, were equal to those of the culprit,” Hamilton wrote. “It was a great shock to me, and I felt ashamed, disgusted and sad at the spectacle before me.”

The man was drummed out of service. When Hamilton saw him downtown, the man thanked him for his speedy lashes. “I never felt so mean in the presence of anyone before,” Hamilton wrote.

A later stereoscopic view of Old Bets, a woman who comforted Sioux prisoners at Fort Ridgely  in 1862.
A bugler early in his service, he accepted the bandmaster’s invitation to join the band. In October 1855, he discarded books, clothing and other possessions for the trip to Fort Snelling, Minn. Out of that fort and Fort Ridgely, 150 miles north, the regiment’s mission was to keep the Sioux in check. When the 10th relieved the garrison at Ridgely, the Sioux came in to meet them. Hamilton described the encounter:

“They formed in one mass, old and young, and with droning voices, in unison, with orchestral accompaniment – the latter consisting of two small kegs with a skin drawn tightly over one end, which was pounded with sticks – commenced a dance, which was nothing more than clumsy springs about two inches from the ground. At intervals of a few minutes they would stop and give a war-whoop, consisting of ear-splitting shrieks and yells; then one of the chiefs would step into the centre and deliver a short oration, which must have been quite interesting, from the applause given, which, by the way, was not by clapping of hands or stamping of feet, but by grunts, as ‘ough, ough’; then another war whoop, when dancing was again resumed.

“As it was so warm, their clothing was rather scant, consisting only of breech cloth, and their faces and bodies were painted in every conceivable color, no two being alike. The dance continued for about two hours, in a very hot sun, causing the perspiration to run in streams down their bodies, and badly mixing the colors.” 

Fort Ridgely. This drawing was made after the Sioux Uprising of 1862.
The post’s colonel gave the visitors an old ox. They killed the animal and cooked it by throwing chunks on the embers just long enough to singe off hair and scorch the meat. Then they “ravenously devoured it as might be expected from a pack of wolves.”

The soldiers often saw the Sioux hanging around army cookhouses. “I never saw an Indian, no matter how much he had eaten, who could not always eat as much more as you chose to give him,” wrote Hamilton. “It has been said, and I believe with some truth, that they can eat enough at one meal to last them an entire week.”

He saw Sioux women as “drudges” who did nothing but work. “How wonderfully the Indian woman differs from the white, in regard to dress! Her whole thought is in the appearance of her husband, while with her pale-faced sisters the idea is reversed.” 

Brigham Young, leader of the Mormons.
In May 1857, the regiment left Sioux country for Fort Leavenworth, Kans., to prepare for the long march to Salt Lake City. They were to escort newly appointed judges and Alfred Cumming, the Georgian whom President James Buchanan had chosen as governor of the Utah Territory. Cumming was to replace Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, who did not wish to be replaced. The government sent along 2,500 troops under Col. Albert Sydney Johnston because, based on recent history, it expected trouble from the Mormons.

The troops started west on July 18. On the trail Hamilton befriend Josephus Stark, a descendant of John Stark, the Revolutionary War general who won the battle of Bennington and gave New Hampshire its motto, “Live Free or Die.” Young Stark was a big man – 6 feet, 200-plus pounds – who played the drum and constantly bragged about Concord, his hometown. Whatever scene of pleasure the army encountered, Stark insisted that Concord had something newer, better or more beautiful. His friends nicknamed him “Concord, New Hampshire.”

It took months for the six-mile train to come near Utah. When it did, Young was ready. Mormons harassed the expedition, burning the grass to rob the livestock of food. They rode into camp and drove off horses and mules. They attacked corrals, destroyed 75 wagons and sent threatening letters to the caravan’s leaders.

As winter approached, the weather became the Mormons’ ally. Five hundred animals died in the cold. At Fort Bridger, the soldiers went hungry. Mormons hung around outside so that whenever men went to search for supplies, they had to go in large groups. Young taunted the garrison, sending a party to say he had heard it was out of salt and to offer some. Johnston refused, but a few soldiers followed the Mormons out of the fort and brought back salt.

Cumming, meanwhile, had been making nice with Young. Escorted by Mormons, he left his military entourage behind and went to Salt Lake City on June 1, 1858. Young had finagled a way to retain power while Cumming served as the territory’s nominal governor.

Hamilton and his fellow soldiers followed these events from outside the city and pondered the bellicose and even apocalyptic rhetoric of Mormon leaders.

Harper's Weekly cartoon depicts Young and other men arming their many wives for battle with the U.S. Army.
The Deseret News, the Mormon newspaper, wrote of “the cord that bound the Saints to the World,” suggesting: “When a military force was sent to Utah to kill (Young) and his people, then would be the time to cut it.” Brother Heber Kimball’s benediction to his flock went like this: “Send 2,500 troops here, my brethren, to make a desolation of this people! God Almighty helping me, I will fight until there is not a drop of blood left in my veins. Good God! I have wives enough to whip out the United States! Amen!”

On June 26, nearly a year after leaving Fort Leavenworth, Gen. Johnston’s 2,500 men finally marched into Salt Lake City. They found the houses deserted, windows boarded up. The silence was eerie.Hamilton wrote of an incident that sealed the troops’ distrust of Gov. Cumming. It began on Aug. 10, after Johnston’s men had left Salt Lake City and settled into Camp Floyd in the Rush Valley. Howard Spencer, the son of a Mormon Bishop, argued with Sgt. Ralph Pike, of Hebron, N.H., a man in Hamilton’s company. Pike later said Spencer threatened him with a pitchfork. Pike swung his rifle and struck Spencer in the head with the butt.

The Mormons immediately arrested Pike and charged him with assault with intent to kill. He appeared court, pleaded not guilty and headed for the Salt Lake House, the leading hotel in Salt Lake City. Spencer approached him from behind, asked if he was Pike and shot him in the side with a pistol. He rode away with several well-known “Danites,” members of a Mormon fraternal group.

Pike died after two days in pain. The Deseret News praised Spencer for his courage. But what angered Pike’s comrades most was that Spencer escaped justice, and Cumming did not protest. The soldiers of Co. I nearly mutinied, Hamilton wrote, and threatened to destroy Salt Lake City. Spencer arrested – and acquitted – in 1889, 31 years after the killing.

Hamilton, who had fled the English army to seek a new life in America, had now seen the country the hard way. He had lived among the Sioux in Minnesota, trekked to the Far West, survived the cold and hunger of a winter in hostile territory and seen the Mormons defy federal efforts to control them.

He left the army and traveled east to the Plains with Stark, his friend from Concord. Stark eventually went home, but he wrote regularly to Hamilton. When the secession crisis broke out, he invited Hamilton to New Hampshire.

“I was advised by friends in Nebraska not to go there,’ Hamilton wrote, for they said the state was all rocks: but the glowing accounts Stark gave of it, and the way he had always spoken of the old Granite States, had considerable weight with me.”

In May 1861, Hamilton hopped a train in Missouri and began the three-day trip to Concord. It was raining when he reached the station. He met a man who knew the Stark family and started for the Stark farmhouse two miles away.

Joe Stark welcomed him with open arms. Hamilton noted that as much as Stark loved his violin, he had little interest in farming his 70 acres. But Concord would soon become the staging ground for Hamilton’s next adventure – more soldiering – and in time the Stark household would provide him with a wife.

Next: Making music in the Civil War.

(Go directly to part two of Henry S. Hamilton's story.)

*Gove, a native of Dunbarton, N.H., was later colonel of the 22nd Massachusetts. He was killed on June 27, 1862, leading the regiment at Gaines’ Mills, Va.