Vermont Riflemen in the War for the Union
Early on the morning of the fourteenth the regiment crossed the James by means of a steam ferry boat and spent the day near the south bank. There was trouble somewhere in the quartermaster's department, and no rations could be procured on that day. On the next day orders were issued for an immediate advance; still no rations, and the hungry men started out on the hot and dusty march of some twenty miles breakfastless and with183
empty haversacks. But a hungry soldier is greatly given to reconnoissance on private account, he had an interrogation point in each eye as well as one in his empty stomach. Every hill and ravine is explored, the productions of the country, animal and vegetable, are inventoried, and poor indeed must be the section that fails to yield something to the hungry searcher. Chickens, most carefully concealed in the darkest cellars by the anxious owners, are unearthed by these patient seekers, pigs and cows driven far away to the most sequestered valleys are brought to light; bacon and hams turn up in the most unexpected places, and on the whole, the soldier on a march fares not badly when left to his own devices for a day or so. Thus our sharp shooters managed to sustain life, and at dark went into bivouac in front of the rebel defense of Petersburgh.
The Eighteenth Corps, under Gen. Smith, had preceded the Second, and had had heavy fighting on the afternoon of this day; they had captured and now held important works in the line of rebel defenses. Darkness and an inadequate force had prevented them from following up their advantages, and thus the first of the series of terrible battles about Petersburgh had ended.
At daylight on the morning of the sixteenth the Union artillery opened a brisk cannonade on the now reenforced enemy. During the forenoon the sharp shooters lay quietly behind the crest of a slight elevation in support of a battery thus engaged. At about noon they were deployed and184
advanced against the rebel pickets with orders to drive them into their main line and also to remove certain fences and other obstructions so as to leave the way clear for an assault by the entire corps at a later hour. The advance was spirited, and after a determined resistance the rebels were driven from their advanced rifle pits, the skirmishers following them closely, while the reserve companies leveled the fence in the rear.
At six o'clock P. M. the Second corps, supported by two brigades of the Eighteenth on the right, and two of the Ninth on the left, advanced to the attack, and after severe fighting, in which the corps suffered a heavy loss in officers and men, they succeeded in capturing three redans in the rebel line of works, together with the connecting breastworks, and in driving the enemy back along their whole front.
Darkness put an end to the advance, but several times during the night the rebels attempted to regain their lost works, and were each time repulsed with loss. In this charge Caspar B. Kent of Co. F was killed in the field. Co. f moved during the night to a position further to the left, and further to the front than any point reached by the Union troops during the day, and were made happy by an issue of rations, the first they had received since leaving the lines of Cold Harbor. A fresh supply of ammunition was also received by them, of which they stood in great need, they having very nearly exhausted the supply with which they went into the fight. The rebels in185
their front were active during the night and a good deal of random firing took place, but of course with little results so far as execution went. Morning, however, showed a new line of rifle pits thrown up during the night, no over fifty yards in front of the sharp shooters, who had by no means spent the night in sleep themselves, but in making such preparations for defense as they could with such poor tools as bayonets, tin plates and cups. They had been sufficient, however, and daylight found them fairly well covered from the fire of the enemy's infantry, and with a zigzag, or covered way, by means of which a careful man could pass to the rear with comparatively little danger. Co. F held this advanced line alone, and the day which dawned on them lying in this position was destined to be one of the most active and arduous, and the one to be best remembered by the men present, of any during their entire term of service. No sooner did the light appear than sharp shooting began on both sides, and was steadily kept up during the day. The lines were so close that the utmost care was required to obtain a satisfactory shot without an exposure which was almost certainly fatal. Nevertheless, the gallant men of the Vermont company managed to use up the one hundred rounds of cartridges with which they were supplied long before the day was over. Capt. Merriman, foreseeing this, had directed Sergt. Cassius Peck to procure a fresh supply.
It was a service of grave danger, but taking two haversacks the sergeant succeeded in safely passing186
twice over the dangerous ground and thus enabled the company to hold its threatened lines. Many men in the company fired as many as two hundred rounds on this day, and at its close the rifles were so choked with dirt and dust, and so heated with the rapid and continuous firing, as to be almost unserviceable.
The company suffered a severe loss at this place by the death of Corporal Charles B. Mead, who was shot through the head and instantly killed. Corporal Mead was one of the recruits who joined in the autumn of 1862, and had been constantly with the company and constantly on duty ever since, except while recovering from a former wound received at Gettysburgh. He was one of two brothers who enlisted at the same time, the other, Carlos E. Mead, having been himself wounded. He was a young man of rare promise, and his early death brought sadness, not only to his comrades in the field, but to a large circle of friends at home. He had kept a daily record of events in the form of a diary during his entire period of service, to which the writer of these lines has had access, and from which he had obtained valuable information and assistance in his work.
Henry E. Barnum was also mortally wounded, and died on the fourteenth of the following month, while John Quinlan received a severe wound. Quinlan, however, recovered and served his enlistment to the close of the war. Sergt.-Major Jacobs, formerly of Co. G, who served with Co. F on this day, was also mortally wounded.187
The company was relieved at night and retired to the rear for a well earned rest, to be engaged the next day in the sharp engagement around the Hare house. Their position here, however, was less exposed and their service less arduous. The Hare house had but lately been vacated by its former occupants, a wealthy and influential Virginia family, who had left so suddenly as to have abandoned nearly everything that the house contained. The windows of the basement opened full on the rebel works and rifle pits, the latter within point blank range, and here the sharp shooters, seated at ease in the fine mahogany chairs of the late owner, took careful aim at his friends in his own garden. They boiled their coffee, and cooked their rashers of pork, on his cooking range, over fires started and fed with articles taken from his elegant apartments, not, it is to be feared, originally intended for duel, and ate them on his dining table. There was, however, no vandalism, no wanton destruction of property for the mere sake of destruction in all this. The home and its contents were doomed in any event, and the slight havoc worked by the sharp shooters only anticipated by a few hours what must come in a more complete form later. The shooing here was at very short range, and correspondingly accurate. As an Alabama rifleman, who was taken prisoner, remarked, "It was only necessary to hold up your hands to get a furlough, and you were lucky if you could get to the rear without an extension."
Silas Giddings was wounded here. Giddings188
had been a friend and schoolmate of the Meads, and had enlisted at the same time. Thus of the three friends two were severely wounded and one was dead. During the day Birney's Division had made an assault on the main rebel line to the left of the Hare house which had been repulsed with severe loss. The wounded were left on the field, some of them close under the enemy's works. They lay in plain sight during the hours of daylight, but it was impossible to help them. When darkness came on, however, Capt. Merriman, slinging half a dozen canteens over his shoulder, crept out onto the field, and spent half the night in caring for the poor fellows whose sufferings during the day had so touched his sympathies. The 19th, 20th and 21st of June were spent at this place, sharp shooting constantly going on. On the twentieth Corporal Edward Lyman received a wound of which he died on the twenty-fifth. Corporal Lyman was one of the original members of the company; was promoted to corporal on the 15th of August, 1863, and had long been a member of the color guard of the regiment, having been selected for that position for his distinguished courage and coolness on many fields. Some times during these days a temporary truce would be agreed upon between the opposing pickets, generally for the purpose of boiling coffee or preparing food. Half an hour perhaps would be the limit of time agreed upon; but whatever it was, the truce was scrupulously observed. When some one called "time," however, it behooved every man to take cover instantly.189
Upon one occasion a rebel rifleman was slow to respond to the warning - in fact he appeared to think himself out of sight; while all others hurried to their posts he alone sat quietly blowing his hot coffee and munching his hard-tack. It so happened, however, that he was in plain sight of a sharp shooter less bloodthirsty than some others, who thought it only fair to give him one more warning, therefore he called out, "I say, Johnny, time is up, get into your hole." "All right," responded the cool rebel still blowing away at his hot cup. "Just hold that cup still," said the sharp shooter, "and I will show you whether it is all right or not." But this time the fellow began to suspect that he was indeed visible, and holding his cup still for an instant while he looked up, he afforded the Union marksman the opportunity he was waiting for. A rapid sight and the sharp's bullet knocked the coffee cup far out of its owner's reach and left it in such a condition that it could never serve a useful purpose again. They surprised rebel made haste to get under cover, pursued by the laughter and jeers of his own comrades as well as those of the sharp shooters. Thus men played practical jokes on each other at one moment, and the next were seeking to do each other moral harm.
The various assaults having failed to force the enemy from any considerable portion of the defenses of Petersburgh, it was determined by the federal commanders to extend again to the left, with the intent to cutoff, one by one, the avenues190
by which supplies might be brought to the enemy from the South; and on the twenty-first the Second Corps, now under Gen. Birney (Gen. Hancock being disabled by the reopening of an old wound), in company with the Fifth and Sixth Corps, moved to the left and took up a position with its right on the Jerusalem plank road. The Sixth Corps, which was to have prolonged the line to the left, not arriving in position as early as was expected, the enemy took instant advantage of the opportunity and, penetrating to the rear of the exposed left of the Second Corps, commenced a furious attack. Thus surprised, the entire left division gave way in disorder and retreated towards the right, thus uncovering the left of Mott's Division, which was next in line, which in its turn was thrown into confusion. The sharp shooters, who had been skirmishing in advance of the left, had, of course, no option; they were compelled to retire with their supports or submit to capture. They fell back slowly and in good order, however, gradually working themselves into a position to partially check the advancing rebels and afford a scanty space of time in which the disordered mass might rally and reform. In this movement they were gallantly supported by the Fifth Michigan volunteers by whose assistance they were, at last, enabled to bring the rebels to a halt; not, however, until they had captured some seventeen hundred men and four guns from the corps. The company again suffered heavy loss in this affair.
Barney Leddy and Peter Lafflin were killed on191
the field; Watson P. Morgan was wounded and taken prisoner; Sergt. Grover was badly wounded by a rifle ball through the thigh, and David Clark received a severe wound. Morgan was a young but able and gallant soldier; he had previously been wounded at Kelly's ford, but returned to his company to be again wounded, and to experience the additional misfortune of being made a prisoner. He was exchanged soon after, but subsequently died from the effect of his wound. Sergt. Grover had also previously been wounded at Gettysburgh, where he had been promoted for gallantry and good conduct. Clark recovered to reenlist upon the expiration of his term of service, and served to the close of the war. Of the forty-seven men who had been with the company since it crossed the Rapidan only ten were left for duty - thirty-five had been killed or wounded, and two had been captured unwounded. From this time to the 26th of July the company was employed, with short intervals for rest, on the picket line, here and there as occasion demanded their services, but without important incident. Active operations having now continued so long in this particular quarter as to afford room for hope that the rebels might be caught napping on the north bank of the James, Gen. Grant determined to send a large force in that direction to co-operate with the Army o the James, hoping to take the enemy by surprise and, by a sudden dash, perhaps to capture the capitol of the Confederacy before its real defenders could get information of the danger. With this view he192
detached the Second Corps and two divisions of cavalry to attempt it.
The troops marched at one o'clock on the afternoon of the twenty-sixth, and at two o'clock on the morning of the twenty-seventh the corps crossed the James by a ponton bridge at Jones' Landing. Passing rapidly to the north, in rear of the lines held by the Tenth Corps (belonging to the Army of the James), the troops faced to the west and were soon confronting the enemy in position. The sharp shooters were deployed and advanced in skirmishing order across an open and level tract of land known locally as "Strawberry Plains."
The advancing line was heavily supported and drove the enemy steadily until they were forced back into their works, when, with a grand dash, sharp shooters, supports and all in one rushing mass, swept up to and over the rebel works, capturing in the charge four guns and some seven hundred prisoners. Notwithstanding this success, the enemy were found to have been so heavily reenforced by troops from the Petersburgh lines - who could be transferred by railroad, while the Union forces were compelled to march - that the full object of the movement could not be attained. The captured works were held, however, while the cavalry, moving still further north, destroyed the railroads and bridges north of the city, and returned to the vicinity of Deep Bottom, where the corps returned by a night march to their former position in front of Petersburgh, resting for a few hours by the way on the field of their battle of193
the 18th of July. The regiment lay in camp until the 12th of August, engaged in the usual routine of picket duty and sharp shooting, but without unusually hard service. Indeed, what would once have been called by them active employment was now enjoyed as a season of grateful repose, so constantly had they been engaged in bloody battle since crossing the Rapidan. On the 12th of August the bugle sounded the general once more, and with knapsacks packed, blankets strapped, haversacks and cartridge boxes filled, the one hundred and sixty men who now represented what had once been the First Regiment of United States Sharp Shooters, marched with their division towards City Point.
Rumors were rife as to their destination - some said Washington; some said a southern seaport, while some maintained that the objective point was Chicago, where they were wanted to maintain order during the coming democratic convention. At City Point they were embarked on steam transports and headed down the river. The wisest guessers were now really puzzled, as the prophet who foretold Chicago has as many chances in his favor as any of his fellows. A few miles down the river, and the fleet of laden steamers came to an anchor, and lay quiet for some hours. The rest, cleanliness, and cool, refreshing breezes from the river, were very grateful to the tired soldiers so long accustomed to the dirt and dust of the rifle pits.
Soon after dark the anchors were got up and the heads of the steamers turned again up stream.194
Now all was plain, another secret movement was planned, and at daylight on the morning of the fourteenth the troops landed at the scene of their crossing on the 26th of July at Deep Bottom.
Moving out toward the enemy severe skirmishing took place, but not engagement of a general character occurred on that day. On the fifteenth they were detached from the Second, and ordered to the Tenth Corps, now commanded by their former division commander, Gen. Birney, and at his especial request. Moving out at the head of the column they found themselves in the early afternoon the extreme right of the army, and in front of the enemy at a little stream known as Deep Run, or Four Mile creek. Deploying under the personal direction of Gen. Birney they advanced toward a wooded ridge on which they found the rebel skirmishers in force, and evidently determined to stay. In the language of Capt. Merriman, who must be accepted as authority, "It was the hardest skirmish line to start that Co. F ever struck." But Co. F was rarely refused when it demanded a right of way and was opposed by nothing but a skirmish line; and on this occasion, as on many former ones, their steady pressure and cool firing prevailed at last, and after more than an hour the rebels yielded the ground. On the sixteenth more severe fighting took place with serious loss to the regiment, but Co. F escaped without loss - in fact there was hardly enough let o the company to lose. Col. Craig, commanding the brigade to which they were attached, was killed, and Capt. Andrews of co. E, Capt. Aschmann195
of Co. A, and Lieut. Tyler of Co. I were wounded. Thus this movement ended, as had the former one, with no decisive result so far as the participants could see. A few guns had been captured, a few rebels killed, and a corresponding loss had been suffered by the federals; but who could tell what important effect on the great field of action, extending from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, this apparently abortive movement was intended to have?
The men were beginning to understand that marches and battles were not always for immediate effect at the point of contact; and so they marched and fought as they were ordered; winning if they could, and accepting defeat if they must, but with a growing confidence that the end was near.
On the seventeenth they rejoined their proper corps and marched again toward the James, leaving Lieut. Kinsman in charge of a party who, under a flag of truce, was caring for the wounded.
The corps recrossed the James on the night o the nineteenth and resumed a place in the lines of Petersburgh, relieving the Fifth Corps who moved to the left to try to seize and hold the Weldon railroad, the attempt on which had been abandoned since the battle on the Jerusalem plank road on the 22d of July. On the twentieth, companies c and A, whose term of service had expired, were discharged. In Co. C only five, and in Co. A only eleven of the original members were left to be mustered out. The terrible exposures of three years of fighting had done their perfect work on196
them, and the little and who answered to the roll call on that day had little resemblance to the sturdy line that had raised their hands as they took the oath only three years before. The regimen was on the even of dissolution, since other companies were soon to reach the end of their enlistment and might soon be expected to leave the service. Indeed, the company whose history we have followed so long, would be entitled to its discharge on the 12th of September, now only twenty-three days off.
The departure of Co. A was made more sad from the fact that they took with them their wounded captain, who had lost a leg in the battle at Deep Run on the fifteenth. Capt. Aschmann had been with the company from its organization, and had participated with distinguished gallantry in all the battles in which it had been engaged, escaping without a wound, only to lose his leg in the last fight, and only five days before he would be entitled to his honorable discharge. It seems a hard fate. In Co. F great excitement existed in consequence of the near approach of the time when they, also, might honorably doff the green uniforms which had so long been worn as a distinctive mark of their organization, and turn their faces homeward, once more to become sober citizens in the peaceful and prosperous North - that North which they had fought so long and so hard to preserve in its peach and prosperity. Many and frequent were the discussions around the camp fire as to whether it was better to leave the service or to reenlist. It was now plain that the days of the rebellion were num-197
bered, and that the end was at hand. It was evident to these veterans, however, that a few more desperate battles must be fought before the end was finally reached. They ardently desired to be present at the final surrender and share the triumph they had suffered so much to assure. On the other hand they as ardently longed to resume their places in those home circles which they had left to take up arms, only that the country and the flag, which they so honored and loved, might be preserved to their children, and their children's children, forever. They felt that they had done all that duty required of them, that they had honorably served their term, and that they might safely leave it to those who had entered the service later to finish the work which they had so far completed. They felt, also, that they should leave behind them an honorable record, on which no stain rested, and second to that of no body of men in the army.
There were left o the original one hundred and three men who had been mustered into the United States service only twenty-five present and absent. Of these, six, namely, David Clark, Jas. H. Guthrie, Sam'l J. Williams, Stephen B. Flanders, John Kanaan and Lewis J. Allen, had reenlisted. The remainder, nineteen in number, as follows, elected to take their honorable discharge:
C. D. Merriman, Fitz Green Halleck, Spafford A. Wright, H. E. Kinsman, Curtiss P. Kimberly, Edwin E. Robinson, W. C. Kent, Wm. McKeever, Eugene Payne, Almon D. Griffin, Cassius Peck, E. F. Stevens,198
Watson N. Sprague, W. W. Cutting, Jas. M. Thompson, David O. Daggett, Thos. H. Turnbull, Geo. H. Ellis, H. B. Wilder.
Of these, nine only were present with the company to be mustered out. The remaining six were absent, sick or wounded, or on detached service.
The few remaining days were destined, however, to be full of excitement and danger. It seemed to the men that their division commander, aware of the fact that he was soon to lose them, was determined to use them to the best advantage while he had them. They were kept constantly engaged during the hours of daylight, skirmishing and engaged in the rifle pits. On the 21st of August they drove the rebels from a rifle pit in their front, capturing forty prisoners, just four times as many as there were men in their own ranks. From this date until September 10th they were engaged every day on the picket line. On that day, with other companies, they were ordered to occupy what had been, by consent, neutral ground surrounding a well from which both parties had drawn water, and where rebel and Unionist often met unarmed and exchanged gossip. It seemed a pity to spoil so friendly an arrangement, but orders must be obeyed, and soon after daylight the sharp shooters dashed out of their lines and occupied the ground which they proceeded to fortify, capturing eighty-five surprised, but not on the whole displeased, rebels.
The enemy did not relish being deprived of the opportunity of getting water from this place, and199
on that day and the next made repeated effort to repossess it, but without avail. Carlos E. Mead received his second wound in repulsing one of these attempts. AT last the day arrived when they might claim to have fulfilled on their part the engagement which they had entered into with Uncle Sam three years before, and on the thirteenth the men present took their final discharge and bade farewell to all the "Pomp and circumstance of glorious war." They were destined, however, to have one more opportunity to show their skill even on this last day of their service, for even while they were preparing for their leave taking a sharp exchange of shots took place, in which the departing Vermonters paid their last compliments to the enemy whom they had so often fought, and during which a. W. Bemis, a recruit of 1862, was wounded. At last all was over; reluctantly turning in their trusty rifles, to which they had become attached by long companionship in many scenes of danger and death, they answered to the last roll call and, bidding an affectionate adieu to their comrades who were to remain, they turned their faces toward City Point and home.
The small remnant of the company kept up an organization under Sergt. Cunningham, and was heavily engaged on the 27th of October in the battle of Burgess Mill, which resulted from Grant's attempt on the South Side railroad. The few men left fought with their accustomed gallantry, losing Daniel E. Bessie and Charles Danforth, killed in action, and Volney W. Jencks and Jay S. Percy, wounded and left on the field.200
The little squad, now reduced to almost nothing, were again engaged on the 1st of November, when they suffered the loss of still another comrade, Friend Weeks, who was mortally wounded and died on the seventeenth of the same month. On the 23d of December the few men left of the once strong and gallant company were transferred to Co. E of the Second Sharp Shooters, and Co. F ceased to exist as an organization. With Co. E the men so transferred participated in the affair at Hatcher's Run on the 15th of December, and at other points along the line. On the 25th of February, 1865, the consolidated battalion of sharp shooters being reduced to a mere skeleton, was broken up and its members transferred to other regiments, the Vermonters being assigned to Co. G, Fourth Vermont Volunteers, with which company they served until the close of the war.
On the 16th of February, the division commander, Gen. De Trobriand, under whom they had served for nearly two years, and who knew them better, probably, than any general officer of the army, issued the following complimentary order:
HEADQUARTERS 3D DIV. 2D ARMY CORPS,
General Order No. 12.
The United State Sharp Shooters, including the first and second consolidated battalions, being about to be broken up as a distinct organization in compliance with orders from the War Department, the brigadier-general commanding the division will not take leave of them without acknowledging their good an efficient service during about three years in the field. The United States Sharp Shooters leave behind them a glorious record in the Army of the Potomac since the first operations against Yorktown in 1862 up to Hatcher's Run, and a few are the battles or engagement where they did no make their mark. The brigadier-201
general commanding, who had them under his command during most of the campaigns of 1863 and 1864, would be the last to forget their brave deeds during that period, and he feels assured that in the different organizations to which they may belong severally, officers and men will show themselves worthy of their old reputation; with them the past will answer for the future.
By command of Brig.-Gen. R.. DeTrobriand,
W. R. DRIVER, A. A. G.
It was a handsome compliment on the part of the commander, well deserved and heartily bestowed. The history of co. F would not be complete, or do justice to the memories of the brave men who died in its ranks, or to the gallant few yet living, without a record of the names of those who so freely shed their blood in the conflict for the Union.
In all thirty-two of its members died of wounds received in action, of whom twenty-one were killed on the field while eleven died in the hospital from the effects of their wounds. Their names are as follows:
A. H. Cooper, Volney W. Jencks, Jay S. Percy. Pat'k Murray, E. M. Hosmer, David W. French, W. J. Domag, Edw'd Trask, Jacob Lacoy, E A. Giddings, Joseph Hagan, Henry Mattocks, Thos. H. Brown Jos. Bickford, Caspar B. Kent, Chas. B. Mead, Barney Leddy, Peter Lafflin, Dan'l E. Bessie, Chas. Danforth, W. F. Dawson, B. W. Jordan, Jas. A. Read, A. C. Cross, M. W. Wilson, Jno. Bowen, Alvin Babcock, Henry E. Barnum, Edw'd Lyman, Friend Weeks, Watson P. Morgan, William Wells.202
The wounded who recovered and again reported for duty number forty-five. The names are given here as second in honorable recollection only to those who died on the field. The list will be found to contain the names of several who were subsequently killed, or died of wounds received on other fields:
C. M. Jordan, Jno. C. Page, Wm. McKeever, M. Cunningham (twice), Spafford A. Wright, H. E. Kinsmen, Dustin R. Bareau, Henry Mattocks, Edward Lyman, Amos A. Smith, J. E. Chase, Almon D. Griffin (twice), John Quinlan, Silas Giddings, L. D. Grover (twice), David Clark, A. W. Bemis, Carlos E. Mead (twice), Sam'l Williams, Geo. Wooley, C. W. Peck, Lewis J. Allen, Benjamin Billings, E. H. Himes, C. W. Seaton, Jacob S. Bailey (twice), W. C. Kent, H. J. Peck, Brigham Buswell, Ai Brown, W. H. Blake, S. M. Butler, Barney Leddy, Edward Trask, E. M. Hosmer, Martin C. Laffie, Jno. Monahan, W. H. Leach, Chas. B. Mead, Edw'd Jackson, Watson P. Morgan Fitz Green Halleck, A. J. Cross, Eugene, Payne, Sherod Brown.
Thus out of a total of one hundred and seventy-seven men, including all recruits actually mustered into the United States service (for it must be remembered that thirteen of the one hundred and sixteen men who were mustered by the state mustering officer at Randolph, and charged against203
the company on the rolls, were discharged at Washington to reduce the number to the legal requirement of one hundred and three officers and men), thirty-two, or more than eighteen percent, died of wounds; while the killed and wounded taken together number seventy-seven, or forty-three and one-half percent of the whole.
The record shows the severe and dangerous nature of the service performed by these men, and on it they may safely rest, certain that a grateful country will honor their memories, even as it does those of their comrades who fought in the ranks of other and larger organizations.
"You can have ten descriptions of a battle, or plans for a campaign, sooner than one glimpse at the unthought of details of a soldier's life."
The history of Co. F is finished, and is far from satisfactory to the writer. Originally undertaken for the purpose of supplying the Hon. G. G. Benedict, State Military historian, with material for such a brief record as he could afford room for in his history of the Vermont troops in the war of the rebellion, it has grown far beyond what was intended at the outset, and far beyond what would be proper for him to publish in such a work as he is charged with. It should have been undertaken by some other person than myself; by someone more intimately and longer acquainted with the company in the field; by some one whose personal204
recollection of the detail of its daily doings is more exact than mine can possibly be; for the history of so small a portion of a great army as a company is, should be a personal history of the men who composed it. The record of a company is mainly made up of the every day scenes and every day gossip about its company kitchen and its company street. With these matters the writer does not profess to be, or to have been, familiar.
The work has, therefore, become more of a description of campaigns and of battles, and more a history of the regiment to which it was attached, I fear, than of the company. Such as it is, however, its preparation has been a labor of love, and it is published with the earnest hope that it may serve at least to keep warm in the hearts of the survivors the memories of those who marched with them in 1861, and whose graves mark every battle field whereon the Army of the Potomac fought.
Wm. Y. W. R.