For the Rockland County Messenger. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Description

From the Rockland County Messenger in reference to this letter: The following interesting letter is from a member of the Seventh Regiment, whose mother and sister live in this village, and who has spent many pleasant evenings with them prior to his embarkation to Washington with his Regiment.

Date

1861-04-26

Date Created

1861-05-09
(Publication date)

Text

For the Rockland County Messenger.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Washington City, D. C. April 26, 1861.

I sit down the first opportunity in our splendid quarters, the "marble halls" of the ' House of Representatives' to give you some details of the doings of the National Guards, Seventh Regiment, N. Y. S. M. After our friends left me at the Armory on Friday, I I felt about as "blue as indigo." When we "fell into ranks," and balls, cartridges were served out to the men, it did seem like WAR for the first time. After the first feeling of depression left us however, we all began to feel like ourselves again, and when we left the Armory, formed regiment, and marched down Broadway, amid the splendid ovation which surprised and amazed even our corps, so often honored by our fellow citizens, we felt ready for anything. People rushed forward from each side, to grasp our hands, giving us handkerchiefs, bouquets, and many ladies took off their jewelry and gave it to us. One beautiful girl in Jersey City came forward herself, and gave me a very pretty tricolor decoration.

The ovation continued in Jersey City, and many ladies came to us and spoke to us blessing us, and shaking hands with us. It was the same at every station on the route of the New Jersey Rail Road. Many persons run very great risk of breaking their arms, to put their hands into the car windows to grasp our hands which they cordially shook. When we arrived at Philadelphia, at 2 1/2 o'clock in the morning, crowds assembled to meet us, although we stopped at the lower depot after crossing the ferry, mile and a half from the thickly settled part of the city. We staid in the cars until daylight, when seeing no prospect of proceeding, "the boys" as only the Seventh Regimenters can, to enjoy themselves, and have fun. One party commanded bv a little scamp of an engineer, run up in front of a small house, where an unfortunate old fellow was looking out of the window. The engineer flourishing his sword, demanded coffee for the party, which so frightened the old chap, that he slammed the window down and pulled the curtain over it in short order. At length after some hunting about we found a restaurant, made them open it, and rushed into the kitchen, and furnished ourselves with breakfast, coffee, a splendid beef steak, bread and butter. We paid the man liberally for it. It was then nearly six o'clock, and word was brought that we were dismissed, to re-assemble at 7 o'clock precisely, a lot of us chartered an omnibus and drove about to call on some friends.

I then bought a revolver in anticipation of the expected fight through Baltimore. While taking a drive with our friends, we met some members of the Regiment coming into the city from the depot, who said that we were ordered to provide ourselves with three days rations. We drove to a grocer's, and I supplied myself with lots of things. After being in suspense for hours, our officers necessarily keeping us in ignorance of our movements, we were dismissed for a short time, and charged not to go far away.

At about 4 o'clock we marched to the Navy Yard, where we took the steamer Boston, for we did not know where.

The crowd cheered lustily, the vessels of war manned the yards and sainted us as we - steamed off. The boys stowed themselves away, and we were soon fixed as comfortably as we could be in so small a ship. At 7 o'clock we had some coffee, a potato, beef steak and crackers served out to us, beside what we had bought in Philadelphia. I repaired at once to my "downy couch" which was a small straw camp mattress laid on the deck, and a knapsack for my pillow, I was so very tired that I slept soundly. We had coffee, beef steak and crackers for breakfast at about sunrise on Sunday morning. At 11 o'clock a. m. we had full service and a sermon, by Dr. Weston, of Trinity Church, New-York, our Chaplain, a very good sermon. We sung two hymns to "Duke Street" and "Dedham," and the music sounded very well, as there are some fine voices with us. We passed several vessels all raiding their flags and cheering us, as they passed, except one, which at the distance of a mile had her colors flying, ours were not yet hoisted, and as soon as she made us out, she hauled down, the American flag, taking us for a privateer, I suppose, but as soon as we shewed our colors, up went her flag again. We spoke her as we passed, and were informed that the Virginians were seizing all the vessels in their harbors. At four o'clock we had (by I way of change,) beef steak and crackers. We sung hymns and smoked pipes all the evening then sung the "Star Spangled Banner." I tumbled in on the floor with my uniform, as we expected to land and march on at any moment. It was sad to see the Virginia shore when we were in the Chesapeake bay, and think that it was an enemy's country.

We were all up at the dawn of day, and found ourselves off Annapolis, we steemed into the harbor, not approaching very near for we were not sure that the American flag was flying, a couple of balls in our hull would have sunk us in no time. We were soon rejoiced to see the different vessels raise our flag, and to see the frigate Constitution do the same thing. A boat soon came from her with her commander. While they were conversing in the ship's cabin I amused myself by a dialogue with the men on tho ship's boat, who said they were all for the Union, and that the frigate was to be towed away out of reach of the Secessionists, which was done soon after. A large Susquehanna steamer having 800 troops on board, which had left Philadelphia before us, lay aground there, so we had plenty going on all around us. Finally, after waiting until weary, all of us so long aboard ship, we steamed up the wharf of the Naval school, landed, and marched to the green in front of the academy buildings, where we stacked arms, and all laid our tired frames down to rest "in line." It was a gay scene, the splendid buildings, 180 midshipmen in their handsome blue uniform, gold lace and anchors. The ladies of the officers families and our fine band playing a variety of airs for their benefit. All this in the sunset of a Maryland April day. It was so great a contrast to the close confinement of the horrid ship, that we boys enjoyed it thoroughly.

At length we were all dismissed, and after a strong guard of 110 men had been detailed. The Regiment went into the recitation and other rooms and quartered themselves there. I was detailed on guard, and having a few moments to rest while the first relief went on guard. I and a few others, went to the Academys kitchen in search of provender. The "niggers" were ready to stand on their heads for us if necessary, one of the cooks devoted herself to me, and through her kind offers, I had a slight supper of bread and butter, splendid "hoecake," ginger bread, hot coffee and milk, which after the luxurious fare (over the left) which we had on shipboard was superb. We were reduced to half rations on the Boston, on a very small piece of meat, a cracker and a gill of water. I went on guard that night a new man, and would have been pleased to have challenged and shot at the least, 50 Secessionists, especially as I had my musket loaded with very healthy minnie balls these balls are pointed, the point is to make them go into the enemy easily. I had no molestation however, and walked mv two hours undisturbed;as we relieved the Academy guard almost entirely we had a large piece of ground to take care of, we were in numbers 108 men, besides 3 sergeants, 3 lieutenants and the officer of the guard.

It was divide into "three reliefs" of 18 files, 36 men each, a sergeant of the guard and corporal, at 9 1/2 o'clock the first relief goes on, thev march through the grounds, and pass the sentinels at different places; at 11 1/2 o'clock the second relief is formed, and march around to each guard, relieving him as the sergeant and the relief approach the sentinel, he plants himself immediately in their path, and charges bayonet calling out "who goes there," the sergeant answers "relief." The sentinel sings out "halt relief," relief then halts and the sentinel says "advance relief" and give the countersign, the sergeant walks as far as the point of the bayonet and whispers the password, which that night was "Scott." The new sentinel advances, the old one gives him the word, and tells him what to do, and then "falls in" behind the relief, and marches on with them until they reach the guard house and guards. Thev are then dismissed to stay about and hold themselves in readiness for an alarm.

I went on at 11 1/2 o'clock, and staid until 1 1/2 o'clock, and again in the morning, when mv turn came round again, we were then dismissed. The last part of the time I was at the gate of the Academy, and had a draught of warm milk, fresh from the cow, which a "nigger" brought to me, (the milk, not the cow.) I also purchased some cake and raw ovsters, which I had cooked in the kitchen of the Academy. Our "boys" had found out the kitchen, and going in with such a rush, which annoyed the cooks and a guard had been placed over tho kitchen, so that no one would go in. However, my oysters were stewed for me, in my tin plate, and make quite a respectable breakfast, with crackers, and coffee, which I begged from the kitchen. Having been on guard all night I was permitted to "lay off," and excused from the parade, which took place at eleven, I enjoyed it very much as a spectator. At 3 o'clock we had a sumptuous dinner of salt junk, potatoes and for a variety, some crackers and water, sitting on the green while we ate it from tin plates, and with our own tin cups and knives and forks. I stop here as the drums are calling us to dinner. No chance of a fight at present.

A.

Citation

“For the Rockland County Messenger. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.,” accessed August 19, 2022, https://rocklandroom.omeka.net/items/show/19.