The Fighting Parson's Regiment
CHAPTER XII.Back to the regiment. Off for St. Augustine. The duties of provostmarshal. The quaint old city. Its pleasant people. Two months of rest. Lieutenant Ingraham. Back to Hilton Head. The regiment reunited. Visit to Morris Island. Captain Eaton. Fort Wagner and its reminders. Lieutenant-Colonel Green.
[August, 1863]JULY 30, at my own request, I was relieved from the command of the Billinghurst and Regua battery, and returned to the regiment. While an independent position, it was one in which there was no promise of important service, and I have never heard that the batteries were ever successfully used. They lacked the strength of the ordinary battery, and the mobility of columns of troops. I joined the regiment at Hilton Head just in season. to superintend its embarkation for St. Augustine, Major Strickland and Captain Coan being ill.
Arrived at St. Augustine August 2, and remained until October 3. Our duties were light, and opportunity was afforded for recovery from the effects of the Morris Island campaign. As provost-marshal, I had the complete supervision of the city, the receiving of flags of truce, and the regulation and examination of the correspondence between the inhabitants and their friends within the Confederate Jines. All nre-arms had been taken from the citizens by my predecessor; but the owners were permitted to use them occasionally for hunting, under certain restrictions. People were allowed to come in and go out of the city, when it was apparent that no harm could result, and the planters outside were encouraged to bring in produce and other supplies under the scrutiny of men detailed for the purpose. The materials of the theatre were brought from Fort Pulaski, and the performances afforded much amusement, and helped to make the regiment popular during our stay. We found many pleasant people, some of whom had never sympathized with the rebellion, and were glad of the protection of United States troops. Others, while bitter and hostile, were incapable of any harm. The quaint old town was in itself a never-ending fund of enjoyment and interest. The men were comfortably quartered, and the officers indulged in unusual luxuries. Among those whom I recall of the good people who resided there were Mrs. Anderson and her son, the doctor, whose delightful home in the suburbs, in its surroundings and furnishing, but more especially in its charming atmosphere of culture and refinement, so often helped us to throw off the hardening and brutalizing effects of army life and associations. The Misses Mather and Perritt, with whom a number of our officers boarded, natives of the North, driven to this softer climate by delicate health, were in the fullest sympathy and accord with us, and were not only exceedingly kind, but afforded much assistance, by reason of their familiar acquaintance with the city, its affairs, and its people.
The two months spent in St. Augustine passed quickly and pleasantly. Occasionally, the pickets were fired upon, but no regular attack was made. Communication was undoubtedly kept up between the citizens and the enemy, outside the city, in spite of the great precautions taken to prevent it. Applicants for admission to the city were reported waiting at the picket stations almost daily, some of whom were received and others turned away. Visitors came to the city by almost every steamer, and the abundant leisure of most of the officers allowed of their generous entertainment. From my office I looked across the square, past the old building with open front, formerly used as a slave mart but now converted into a general market, to the office of the commissary - Lieutenant Ingraham; and frequently, when the duties of the forenoon were well over, we signalled to each other to drop work, and engaged in some form of recreation together. During our stay at St. Augustine we were thrown much together, and the pleasant feelings which I had always entertained towards him ripened into a strong attachment. I think of him now with feelings of peculiar sadness. Some time before the battle of Cold Harbor, his promotion rendered it necessary that he should take his place as an officer of the company to which he was attached. Previous to this he had always been
[October, 1863]detailed in the quartermaster's or commissary departments. At that battle, while we occupied the Confederate line of works which we had just captured, we were subjected to a merciless enfilading fire, which we could neither avoid nor return effectively. Lieutenant Ingraham, in command of his company, had pressed to the very front, and, while encouraging his men by word and example, he suddenly dropped from my side, and I never saw him more. With a great rush, the enemy was upon us both in front and flank, and we were pushed through the woods, and our wounded and dead were left to their care. Ingraham was a good soldier, a good friend, and a good man. October 3, a steamer, containing the 24th Massachussetts regiment arrived at the dock, and we were ordered to prepare for our departure. October 6, we bade good-by to the old city, to the many good people who had done so much to make our stay among them contented and restful, and to the peculiar comforts and pleasures, which, to so many, were the only suggestion of home that came into their lives during their long term of service. On the 7th we reached Beaufort, S. C., and reported to General Saxton. The next day the writer was ordered by the colonel to proceed with four companies to Seabrook Landing, to guard the shipping. This point was rather an important one at the time, being used as a coaling station and for naval repairs. November 9, one hundred and fiftysix conscripts arrived from New York and were distributed to the various companies of the regiment. November 13, companies G and I, so long detached as garrison of Fort Pulaski, joined us at Hilton Head, where regimental headquarters were then established. November 20, the subject of re-enlistment as veterans began to be agitated, and the promise of thirty days furlough and a bounty were strong inducements. November 25, having business at Morris Island, I took occasion to visit Fort Wagner, which had been rebuilt under the supervision of Captain Eaton of the New York Engineer regiment, a most excellent officer, who seemed almost to belong to us, having had charge of the repairing of Fort Pulaski while we were there as garrison. With him I wandered about
[November, 1863]the fort, and around the localities marked by special events connected with the siege and assault. But memory was too busy with painful scenes to permit of much satisfaction. As we talked together of old times, and recalled the names of those with whom we had been intimate at Pulaski, it seemed impossible to realize that the clean white sand on which we were then treading had drank in the life-blood of so many, and the clear, bright, sparkling water, that idly played upon the beach, had reached out its eager tongue to lick up the cruel stains. The air was mild, not a cloud obscured the sun's rays, and the silence that reigned about us was profound, almost oppressive, but, as we recalled the past,.. the din of battle rang our ears; the flash of musketry pierced through the darkness of night and lighted up a scene of carnage; the groans and cries of the wounded and dying mingled with the shouts and yells and fierce oaths of combatants. The spirit of peace rested upon the landscape which lay spread out before us, and upon the face of the quiet waters which, with gentle embrace, pressed lightly against the shore; but the past came back to us like a mighty surging torrent; a tempest raged; darkness and horror enveloped us, and we turned away. We could not endure it, and were glad to get back to camp, to lose the thought of the past in the performance of present duty.
During this visit, as we talked together of the friends who had fallen, one name
more than any other occupied our thoughts and conversation. It was that of
Lieutenant-Colonel Green, whom Captain Eaton had known quite intimately when he
was quartered with us at Fort Pulaski. Like those of us who had known him
longer, he had not only formed a strong personal attachment for him, but, from
the peculiar and somewhat opposite traits of character which he exhibited, had
become specially interested in watching his career. It was not singular, for no
one could be associated with him, for any length of time, without being
attracted towards him and becoming.
interested in him. Possessed of a frank and generous disposition, he was not
only beloved by those under him, because of his thoughtful
consideration of them, but equally by his fellow-officers, because of his
sprightly, sunny temperament. He was welcome everywhere, and, on all social
occasions, his quick and susceptible nature caught and communicated the spirit
of humor that prevailed, until no one could withstand its influence. He, bubbled
over with mirth whenever the occasion or sarroundings stirred the humorous vein
within him, and was the frequent instigator of the harmless practical jokes with
which the officers sometimes sought to enliven the dulness of garrison life. I
can see him now, as, after a period of duty, he starts out from his quarters in
search of recreation, the very personification of mischief. He nher needed to
go far, for every latch-string was out for him, and none but the hardest and
most obdurate could withstand the appeal of his merry eyes and bright, cheery
countenance. He was a good soldier, always ready for duty, and in its dis-
charge both earnest and exact. From "grave to gay" was sometimes a rapid
transition with him; but he saw every duty to its ending, and, especially when
hardship and danger were in-
volved, every fibre of his mental and physical nature was absorbed in its
performance. Few will be remembered longer by his comrades than he, and none
with more general warmth of affection.