For the Rockland County Messenger
Continuation of a letter from a member of the Seventh Regiment N.Y.S.M.

Text

For the Rockland County Messenger

Continuation of a letter from a member of the Seventh Regiment of the N.Y.S.M.

Now if vou are not bored, and I flatter mvself vou are not I will go on from where I left off in my last, at noon on Tuesday April 23d, and give you further accounts of our doings. That evening we observed rockets out at sea and a report was brought that the Secessionists were about to attack the Naval Academy. The "long roll" was sounded, and tbe National Guards Seventh
Regiment, the splendid little ''middies" of the Naval Academy, and the gallant Massachusetts 8th Regiment were almost immediately on the green. I never saw anything done more quickly. Tho Seventh was ready in just seven minutes, with howitzers loaded; for any attack which might be made. The middies were about as quickly in readiness, and we soon had 2000 men under arms, with five cannons, ready for three times that number of Secessionists, who might present themselves, but none appeared, and the "retreat" was sounded. "The boys" including middies, all returning much disappointed to their floors as beds. The next morning we prepared ourselves for our march! Coffee !! think of it, we had seen none for two days and a half, was served out to us for breakfast. hat and some kind of meat and crackers made our repast. We filled our canteens with vinegar and water, and commenced our march at 7 1/2 o'clock a. m. The 2d and 6th companies had already been sent forward a mile in advance as scouts, and skirmishers. They went each side of the road ahead, we marched to the Railroad track, and waited for the cars, which were but three, and a truck or two on car wheels. The Secessionists had tore up the track for five or six miles, and the Massachusetts men had mended it; so far. The Secessionists had sent all the cars and locomotives to Baltimore, except a locomotive and two cars. They had taken the locomotive to pieces, and distributed them over two or three fields, but the persevering Massachusetts men hunted up all the parts, and piled them together, and set one of their number, a machinist, to put it together. He had not been long engaged on it, when he recognized it as a locomotive which he himself had constructed in Massachusetts! and soon had it put together, and soon had it in running order again. If this be not Providence, I am mistaken. That this man should have been prevented from going through Baltimore and should go to Annapolis to perform such an important work. A good yankee trick.

We were obliged to lie off for an hour or more, on the track, until the baggage could be attended to. Then commenced our march in the broiling sun, hotter than July in our latitude, and marched slowly along, until we were actually unable to proceed further. We were halted, and a simultaneous rush was made in search of a spring, which when found presented somewhat the appearance, probably, as the rock which Moses opened for the Israelites, when they journeyed. It seemed as if "the boys" could not drink enough, and such rushing, crowding and tumbling is seldom seen. I will say though, that those who reached the spring first, were always ready to hand their comrades a drink, before drinking any themselves.

After this delightful refreshment and a cracker, (we decided to change the rations and have crackers.) I laid down with nearly all the others on the grass, and slept an hour and a half. A thunder storm coming up and a complete change of atmosphere, we recommenced our march, fortunately reaching a sl??, a store and other small buildings just in time to escape a drenching. You may imagine how we were crowded, we were 800 men in such "close quarters." The storm soon passed off, however, and we resumed our march, finally arriving at the place where the baggage was detained, on account of the track having been broken up, and not yet repaired. Here we discarded everything. ' knapsacks and all, except one blanket, and after loading our pieces with ball, and filling our canteens, we commenced the last part of our journey on foot, (of thirty-two miles,) over eleven miles yet to march. It was then about seven o'clock, p. m. the air delightful, consequently, we enjoyed the first part of this march verv much, and it was rather a novel sight. The long line of men marching "route step," that is every man choosing his own step, but "keeping in line," the bright muskets glancing in the splendid moonlight (the moon was about full,) the Regiment halting often for our engineers, who were ahead to repair the road, relay the track, &c. Those who could not walk, (and there were several,) and some important baggage, such as medical stores, rails, spikes, spades, &c. for repairing the roads, placed in two baggage trucks, and pulled along by the engineers, besides there were two howitzers loaded with grape shot on the trucks, so if they stopped, the whole time we were compelled to wait, for we would not leave them unprotected.

It was sad to think that there, in Maryland, we were surrounded by persons who wished to cut us off. After 10 o'clock the march become dreadfully tedious, and after 12 o'clock it was almost impracticable. We were obliged to stop for half an hour, on the track, in the thick woods, expecting an attack, and yet so wearied, that we really fell asleep searching and standing still. The men threw themselves upon the sides of the track, wrapped in thin blankets, and were instantly asleep. Sometimes we stopped on the track with a marsh on either side, the cold night air damp and chilling us to the very marrow. However, when day began to break we had accomplished nearly the entire distance, and : the Colonel gave the word to halt, and bivouac just where we were. The boys at once went to work, pulled down fences, built large fires and tried to warm themselves thereby. Others roamed the country around, for there was nothing eatable left, not even the luxury of a cracker. I went with five or six others about a mile, and in a nice looking house found a family about to sit down to breakfast. They were alarmed at first, but we showed them some silver and gold, and they willingly took it, and allowed us to take their places. They gave as hoecake, boiled ham, fresh milk, pancakes, &c. You can scarcely imagine how much we enjoyed it. Soon after the courier we had sent forward returned, saying that a train was waiting for us, two miles further on, which would take us to Washington.

We lost no time in getting to the cars, nearly every man fell asleep as soon as we were seated in the cars, and did not awake until, we arrived at the Capitol. We immediately marched to the President's house, and passed in review before him. The National Hotel was our quarters pro tempore. We marched to the Capitol building about 7 o'clock, and I soon found comfortable quarters in the rooms of the Clerk of the House, except that we must still lie on the floor, but we have nothing to complain of; on the contrary, we have the conveniences of gas, and plenty of water in the rooms, which are gorgeously furnished. Several companies are quartered in the Hall of Representatives itself and have much fun, calling upon the "member from Coney Island" and also on members from the most
outlandish places ever heard to express their views on different important public matters. I never saw anything so splendid as this building. I discover new beauties at every turn, every thing about it is perfection. For instance I took a bath, a delicious one, in this building is a bathing tub. cut from a solid piece of white marble, with a flight of marble steps leading to it, a most beautiful floor of encaustic tiles, indeed the floor of every room is of tessellated pavements.

We take our meals at the different hotels three times a day at 75 cents per day each man, which is vary cheap, for we have good meals. We have had some splendid presents from New York friends, from Mr. Aspinwall. $6000 worth of woollen shirts and jackets, and other important articles and stores. Mr. Hecker. (the celebrated ferina man), sent us a four horse power steam engine, and a cooking range large enough to cook for 1000 men, with all the paraphernalia, even to teacups and plates for the men. The New York Chamber of Commerce has equipped a steamer which arrived yesterday with $15000 worth of stores, for the Regiment, among which are cigars and whiskey. So you see our friends at home study our comfort. The Psalter for the dav is read every day, sometimes by "the boys" who are singularly reverent, so full of fun in general, and who read in their testaments and prayer books much, I read aloud in our room this morning, the Psalter for the day, and all remarked how peculiarly appropriate the Psalms were for ourselves, the patriot, and this city, (comparing it to Jerusalem.)

Do not believe the reports you read, especially about Anticipated attacks on this city. None are apprehended at present, although scouts, visitors, mounted guards, and spies are continually on the alert, and if the slightest demonstration were made we should know it at once, and are fully prepared.

* Day 27 (April) Book of Common Prayer.

A.

Citation

“For the Rockland County Messenger
Continuation of a letter from a member of the Seventh Regiment N.Y.S.M.,” accessed January 24, 2022, https://rocklandroom.omeka.net/items/show/20.