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13th Vermont Infantry

Biographical and Historical of Co. A
Thirteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers
Civil War 1861-1865

Dedicated to the loving memory of our brave Lieut. John T. Sinnott,
slain in battle at Gettysburg, July 3rd, 1863.

The Condensed History of Company A.

The Emmett Guards of Burlington was one of the Thirteen Companies of Uniformed Militia who first responded to order No. 12 viz: The Emmett Guards of Burlington and the Lafayette Artillery of Calais, with eight of the Companies of Volunteer Militia named in general order No. 13.

On the 24th of October the Company Officers met at Montpelier and elected the Field Officers of the 13th Regiment.

The Emmett Guards became Company A by virtue of its Captain, John Lonergan, holding the oldest Commission. The Company was recruited at Burlington, Rutland and Westford and while it was regarded as an Irish Company there were some twenty-five Americans and French Canadians among their numbers; most of these were from the town of Westford in Chittenden County. About forty Irishmen were recruited in Rutland and West Rutland. Men of strong physique, quiet enough when not aroused and were ready on a slight pretext to defend their honor and yet were good soldiers and good comrades.

Captain Lonergan's speech at Gettysburgh before the hottest part of the battle was to this effect. "Boys you have been quite anxious for a fight ever since you enlisted, now you have got a chance to fight and show what kind of stuff you are made of."

Company A was never accused of shirking duty except in the matter of attending religious services; a large majority being Roman Catholics, they naturally did no take kindly to the chaplain's services.

The Company's rendezvous was at Burlington while it was being recruited. The Westford men were quartered at the old Howard Hotel where the Van Ness House now stands. The proprietor, the late Daniel C. Barber was most kind and considerate, and he appeared at Brattleboro to bid the boys good-bye when they were leaving for the South. In remembrance of his kindness and as a token of friendship a handsome silver water service was presented to him which he treasured highly. The other recruits were fed and quartered as far as possible at the old Murphy hotel on Water Street.

The days were passed in drilling on the Battery or the old Fair Ground, and the nights in telling stories and reading war news from the front.

The elections of Officers was held in a hall in Baxter Block on College Street. John Lonergan was unanimously elected Captain and John T. Sinnott, first Lieutenant. There were three Candidates for second Lieutenant, Alvin H. Henry of Westford, James B. Scully of Burlington and David McDeavitt of Rutland. McDeavitt finally won the prize much to the disappointment of a respectable minority.

The wisdom of withdrawing by the Westford contingency and joining one of the other Companies in the County was seriously considered, but finally in the distribution of non-commissioned appointments, harmony was to some extent assured.

I shall not attempt to give details regarding the sojourn at Brattleboro, the difficulty of getting trousers long enough for Corporal John Patten or short enough for Paul Segar which required shears, needle and thread. the unusual orders we were given while the Company was drilling were like "Cover your file leader behind" or "Fall in yees." (Some of the non-commissioned officers were as ignorant and awkward as any of the privates.)

The boys from Rutland were promised a bounty of $100.00 each which was not promptly forthcoming. this fact with a little whiskey, caused what at one time promised to be a small sized riot and established the reputation of Company A, in one sense, as fighters even before they left Vermont, a reputation which subsequent conduct at Gettysburg did not tend to diminish. Captain Lonergan's remarks spoken of previously when about to have some real fighting were, no doubt, an incentive to many to show themselves true men.

While the Regiment was encamped at Wolf Run Shoals, Company A was located on a side Hill in support of a Battery of Artillery from Connecticut to defend the ford, an eighth of a mile or more in front of the location of the regiment. Here, aside from strict guard duty, we had little part in the work of building forts, etc. with the rest of the regiment. We succeeded during the rather cold weather in making ourselves very comfortable doing some foraging as we were not strictly under the surveillance of the Regimental Officers. Some of us thought the reason for our detail might be that Camp was not less quiet and peaceable with the "Irish Regulars" away. Our soldering with the exception of this detail was like that of the other Companies, except possibly being wakened occasionally in the night to witness a ruff and tumble scrap in the company street.

The part which Company A had in the battle of Gettysburg was one of which the survivors are justly proud. Captain Lonergan received a medal of honor for distinguished bravery in the recapturing of cannon belonging to a regular U. S. Battery from the enemy, the only one given to any member of the Regiment.

The advance to the Rogers House and the capture of prisoners was valorous and creditable; in fact their conduct as brave and loyal soldiers from muster in and especially from the time they reached Gettysburg until the end of the battle, was most worthy.

I do not claim that Company A did all the fighting, but I do claim that we did our full share. It is expected that quite a number of individual sketches will appear as part of our company history by those better equipped than myself. Much indeed might be said in praise of the boys of Company A, officers and privates alike. Their conspicuous deeds of prowess and daring courage during the battle secured a fame more lasting and honorable than possible in any other walk of life.

No sacrifice so great, no deed so noble and sublime as dying in defence of home and country. Lieutenant John T.. Sinnott, Sergeant Thomas Blake, Patrick M. Corey and Michael McInerny freely offered there (sic) young lives on the field of battle that the country they loved and honored might be saved.

Our historian has asked me to prepare a short sketch of Company A and trace as far as possible the members. I shall not attempt the latter but refer the reader to the individual sketches and the Revised Roster on the last pages of this book.


Source: Sturtevant, Ralph Orson. "Pictorial History: Thirteenth Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865." Privately published, 1910.