SOPO Editor’s Note: Noah Andrew Trudeau found and transcribed several letters for the 15th New York Engineers page at the excellent New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs web site. I did further research and found this and other letters written by “D. C. P.” at the also excellent Old Fulton NY Postcards site. I transcribed this and other letters in the collection myself.
CITY POINT, Va., Feb. 13, 1865
To the Editor of the Roman Citizen:
If my memory of past promises has not utterly failed me, upon recollection, I believe that in my last letter to the CITIZEN I stated that I had made all necessary preparations for a visit to the front, and that when I returned I would give a description of what I saw. Well, Mr. Editor, I have visited the front, but in a widely different capacity from that in which I expected to go when last I wrote you. Last Sabbath afternoon, (the 5th inst.) [February 5, 1865] I was busily engaged in my tent in the very agreeable occupation of writing, when I was somewhat startled to hear the order, “fall in, Co. L,” in heavy marching order; taken completely by surprise, I was for a moment utterly at a loss what to do, but the summons was peremptory and must be obeyed; consequently I packed my knapsack, and in a comparatively short space of time Co. L was drawn up in line, and soon the order was given “forward march!” We marched to the railroad track, about two miles from City Point Depot, stacked our arms and awaited the arrival of the remainder of the brigade.1 By the way I should mention that the 1st Maine sharpshooters, 61st Massachusetts, and 18th New Hampshire regiments, are brigaded with us2, and as a matter of course they accompanied us upon our march. At 4:30 the column was ready for the march, and so soon as Acting Brigadier General BRAINARD [sic, BRAINERD] arrived, (which was in a short time,) the column moved forward. Only five companies of our regiment reported for the march, the others being off upon detached service. Our regiment formed the right of the column, and our company was the second in the advance. We reached Meade Station (upon GRANT’S army railroad)3 about 7 o’clock, and after halting for a sufficient length of time to allow our men needed rest, we marched nearly a mile further, and encamped for the night upon the side of a hill. The weather was intensely cold, and the hill itself was as cold and hard as an iceberg. Sergeants EDWARDS and PARKE and myself placed our rubber blankets upon the sacred soil, and soon our weary limbs reposed upon them. For a protection from the elements we had the starry firmament, and three woolen blankets marked N. D.—But our endeavors to woo the goddess of sleep, owing to the severe cold, were entirely in vain, and long before midnight we arose, replenished the fires, and resolved to make ourselves as comfortable as possible until the grey light of dawn should appear. We then set about making preparations to boil some coffee, and the army process of making coffee being extremely simple, we soon had the satisfaction of refreshing our inner man with this wholesome beverage.—Somewhat later in the night, between the hours of two and three o’clock, your humble correspondent might have been seen sitting by the side of Lieut. BLISS, each engaged in the laudable occupation of roasting a piece of pork upon the end of a sharp stick, and each vieing with the other to see who should roast his piece the best. I am extremely sorry, however, to be compelled to state that the Lieutenant carried off the palm. Thus the night passed away.
In the morning [February 6, 1865], with several others, I walked not quite one-fourth of a mile to Fort Emery, and could plainly discern the spires of the churches in Petersburg, about one mile distant. We could also with equal distinctness see the Johnnies walking upon the[i]r works, apparently eyeing us as closely as possible. At 11 o’clock we received orders to resume our march, and were soon upon our way to the front. We had a very toilsome march indeed, until we halted about five o’clock at Park[e]s’ Station. We remained here, however, but a short time, and then marched between one and two miles farther, where we encamped near a line of breastworks. Here we ascertained that nearly all of our available forces at this and other points, had recently been ordered off to the extreme left of our lines, and that we were to remain there until we could be relieved. We arrived there Monday evening, and Tuesday morning [February 7, 1865] at four o’clock we were drawn up in line of battle behind the intrenchments to repel a probable rebel attack, which, however, was not made. We guarded the breastworks until eight o’clock A. M., when we were ordered to take possession of the quarters lately vacated by the 95th Pennsylvania, which were located about five rods from the works. So soon as we had thrown our rubber blankets over the tops of our huts, a severe storm of rain began, which lasted nearly all day, and rendered t[r]aveling (especially upon foot) anything but pleasant. We remained at this place doing picket and guard duty until Saturday [February 11, 1865], when we were relieved by a detachment from the 9th corps, and started upon our return march, and after a very fatiguing march of seven hours, we reached our old encampment.
Herewith I have concluded to transmit a roster of the officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, of gallant Co. L, who are as follows:
Capt. Amos P. Pond
1st Lieut. Wm. B. Bliss,
2nd Lieut. Walter G. Scott,
Sergeants, 1st or Orderly Sergeant, Wm. M. O[?];
2d, Wm. H. Warrington;
3d, Geo. L. Godfrey;
4th, James A. Baker;
5th, John Q. Parke;
6th, Edward B. Downing;
7th, Joseph Scovil;
8th, Ransom Jilson, Jr.;
9th, Wm. B. Van Buskirk;
10th, Jerome S. Edwards.—
Corporals—Squire Reeder, Frank L. Abbott, Reuben C. Wellman, John N. Sheer, Wesley N. Pierson, Frank Howd, Thomas H. Foster, James Lingley, Ashbel Burnham, and Jenkins R. La France.
I notice that my statement in a former number of the CITIZEN that SELDEN H. TALCOTT had been appointed Orderly by the Colonel, has been misinterpreted by a few Romans, so as to read that he had been appointed Orderly Sergeant of Co. L, thus superseding Sergeant COOK, who is one of the finest men in the Company, a thorough-bred gentleman, and well qualified for the position which he now holds. I am happy to state that Mr. TALCOTT has been appointed Colonel’s Orderly, and not Orderly Sergeant. I deem this explanation but just to a capable and efficient officer.
Hoping that the peace negotiations now pending between the North and South will not prove a total failure, through the agency of such commissioners as GRANT and SHERMAN, I would beg leave to remain,
Your, &c., D. C. P.
[SOPO Editor’s Note: Noah Andre Trudeau believes this soldier is probably Darwin C. Pavey of the 15th New York Engineers.]4
- SOPO Editor’s Note: As happened several times during the Siege of Petersburg, during active operations rear element units like the Engineers and other units guarding places rather than the front lines were called forward to fill trenches. In this particular case, Pavey, the 15th New York Engineers, and the rest of his brigade were being asked to guard a portion of the front line trenches near Petersburg while the Fifth Corps and Second Corps moved to and past Hatcher’s Run. In the ensuing three day Battle of Hatcher’s Run, February 5-7, 1865, the Federals managed to gain a bridgehead on the Confederate side of Hatcher’s Run. It would be used as a jumping off point for the final offensive in March-April 1865. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: On January 31, 1865, the 15th New York Engineers was part of the “Engineer Brigade & Defenses of City Point” which, in addition to the 15th New York Engineers and the regiments Pavey mentioned, also included the 50th New York Engineers and Hall’s Independent Bn (Michigan) Sharpshooters. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: By February 1865, the United States Military Railroad stretched all the way from the Union supply depot at City Point to Hatcher’s Run, far to the southwest, which was the far left flank of the Union armies besieging Petersburg. ↩
- “Army Correspondence.” The Roman Citizen (Rome, NY). February 24, 1865, p. 2, col. 3 ↩