Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

A NEW REGIMENT.

HE term of service of the regiment expired July 23, 1861, but before that time it was evident to the most casual observer that the rebellion was not a holiday excursion. The Government had called for men to enlist for three years, and the question of re-enlistment was discussed over the campfires. Colonel Dare could make no engagements for the future. He was then in a decline, and, soon after his return home, consumption did its work and buried him in an early grave. Lieutenant-colonel Birney had every inducement to return home after the termination of his first campaign. His private interests were suffering from neglect, his business needed his attention, and his family urged him to return to the comforts of home. But none of these temptations could deter him from remaining in the service. Many of the men of his regiment offered to re-enlist if he would take command. This he soon promised to do, and made an effort to get the Secretary of War to permit their re-enlistment in Maryland, thus saving the Government the expense of their transportation both ways. This, however, was not allowed. As soon as it was known that the regiment must return home, he wrote to

his partner in Philadelphia, stating his intention of remain

ing in the service, and requesting him at once to make arrangements for recruiting a recruiting a new regiment. This was done without delay. The Girard House, which for years had been the leading hotel in Philadelphia, but which was at that time closed, was taken for the purposes of recruiting, and it is doubtful whether a larger or more expensive recruiting office was ever opened in the country. citizens of Philadelphia laughed when they saw their largest hotel used for such a purpose, but the result soon justified the means.

The

The new regiment met with great success, and in a week four companies were mustered in and sent to camp. The old Twenty-third returned to Philadelphia, August 17, 1861, and were escorted to the Arsenal, their old quarters, by their new comrades. The next day the men were mustered out. Colonel Birney went at once to work to organize the new regiment, and obtained permission from Governor Curtin to retain the old designation. In two more days about three hundred men of the old regiment re-enlisted for three years and were formed into three companies. These, with the four new companies, were encamped at the junction of Nicetown Lane and Lamb Tavern Road, in Philadelphia, and Colonel Birney went to work to lay out his camp for at least a month's residence, having received authority to raise a regiment of fifteen companies. On August 20th, an order was issued by the Secretary of War for all the companies mustered in, to report immediately at Washington. Birney went down the next day with his seven hundred men, and was in Washington the evening of the 21st.

The following notice of their march through Baltimore is from the Baltimore American of August 22, 1861:

"The Twenty-third regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, under the command of Colonel David B. Birney, numbering about seven hundred men, passed through Baltimore en route for Washington. A large proportion of the men were under Colonel Dare, in the same regiment, which has already served three months under General Patterson. They are uniformed similar to regulars. Several of the companies are well drilled in the Zouave exercise, and also uniformed.”

After the departure of the seven companies, recruiting was continued in Philadelphia with such success that before the 10th of September, 1861, there were fifteen hundred men in camp near Washington, completely organized. It composed part of General (Pike) Graham's brigade, which was in the division commanded by General Buell, as the army was organized in October, 1861, before it was divided into corps.

During the time the regiment was under instruction, and while General McClellan was organizing the army of the Potomac, the officers were greatly commended for their efficiency, and their camp was a favorite place of resort for visitors and general officers. The drills were without cessation, and every attention was paid to those duties which alone can make good soldiers out of volunteers.

i

PROMOTION.

URING the winter, Colonel Birney formed the acquaintance of General Cameron, then Secretary of War, whose attention had been attracted by the fine appearance and superior condition of the regiment. Many of Birney's friends, at first without his knowledge, urged upon the Secretary his claims for promotion. The effort was successful, and the letter of appointment was issued February 17, 1862. His name was sent to the Senate the same week, and the appointment confirmed without hesitation.

On the day he received his appointment General Stone had been relieved from the command of the forces near Ball's Bluff, and General John Sedgwick ordered to take his place. The new general applied for the command of General Sedgwick, and it was given him. The brigade, consisting of the Third Maine, (Col. H. G. Berry, afterwards Majorgeneral, and killed at Chancellorsville,) the Fourth Maine, (Col. Staples,) the Thirty-eighth New York, (Col. J. H. Ward, since Brigadier-general,) and the Fortieth New York (Mozart, Col. Riley) regiments, was encamped near Alexandria, and General Birney went to his new command the same day without returning to his regiment.

A CABAL.

OR some time there had been jealousies existing in the Twenty-third, and a cabal was formed in opposition to the Colonel among some of the officers, resulting from some discipline to which they had been subjected. Birney scarcely knew of its existence. After his promotion, Captain Thomas H. Neill, of the regular army, (now General Neill,) was made colonel. This gave rise to some additional dissatisfaction, because the officers thought the Colonel should have been chosen from their own number. As Colonel Neill had been a friend of Birney for several years, it was alleged by the grumblers that the selection was at the instance of Birney. Shortly after Colonel Neill assumed command an order was issued, by which five of the companies were detached from the regiment and put into another. This was not a peculiar instance, for all the large regiments then existing were divided in a similar manner, but this fact was also used by the malcontents to prejudice the men against Birney, by the allegation that the division had been made in pursuance of a bargain by which Colonel Birney had been made a Brigadier. In addition to these charges, he was accused of caring little for the men, and as proof of

« AnteriorContinuar »