Tri-Counties Genealogy & History
by Joyce M. Tice
|Memories of the War by General
Robert C. Cox
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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from 1861 letters
Wellsboro Agitator, 22 January 1862, p3
From the Buck-tails
Buck-Tail City, Va., Jan. 13, 1862
Friend Agitator – ‘Tis midnight, and a bright moon is shedding her silver
light down upon these Southern battle fields, as I take my pen to write
the first page in the history of a new year. The campaign of 1861 has ended,
and it will form a page in the world’s history that will be read with interest
by those belonging to future generations; but the year which has just commenced
its rounds, will form one still more interesting, and it will either be
the darkest and bloodiest, that the nineteenth century ever saw, or it
will again restore peace and prosperity to the land. The two mighty armies,
which now stand face to face upon the banks of the Potomac, must soon meet,
and when that meeting comes, it will leave these valleys stained with blood,
and these hilltops, white with bleaching bones. Philosophers and politicians
can prophesy and speculate, but that will never do the work, it can only
be done at the cannon’s mouth, and with the bullet, and cold steel. There
is a grand movement now on foot, and when this army is once put in motion
it will not stop this side of Richmond. I believe if foreign nations will
stand neutral, this rebellion will be wiped out, forever, before another
cold winter rolls around. But the signs of the times now indicate that
they will not; for already we hear the low growl of the British lion from
beyond the sea, like the roll of distant thunder, before a storm. But in
that case, as in this, let us forbear until forbearance ceases to be a
virtue, and then let us again sound the war-trumpet, and call forth another
half million of men into the field, and once more show that despotic power
that beyond the sea, there is a free spirit that lives, yes, and will live
when the very name of old England is forgotten.
One night last week, the snow fell about an inch deep, and the next
morning after it fell, one of the most comical sights took place, that
has transpired in this camp, for some time. – Some of the boys started
up a rabbit – in a minute, more than 200 young buck-tails were out for
a chase. They formed in line of battle – threw out their flankers and skirmishers,
and then made an advance; in a moment, out popped the little fellow from
a pile of brush, then the noise commenced, and of all the sounds I ever
heard, this was the beater, and hundred hounds couldn’t strike the first
note. The little fellow finding himself surrounded on all sides, soon give
up the chase. Another, and another shared the same fate. The boys then
took them into a large, open field, threw out their flankers, and then
let them go, for the fun of taking them again. This was kept up until the
rabbits were to tired to run, and if any of you ever saw a drove of boys
after a greased pig, you can form an idea what kind of fun we had.
New years was a fine and pleasant day, but a lonely one to the most
of us, for our minds went back to other and happier new years, when we
were surrounded by loved ones at home, or sliding over the frozen snow,
listening to merry voices, and the gingling of bells, or eating pies and
turkeys. But here, our music was of a different nature: bum, bum, bum goes
the old base drum, then that old familiar sound “fall in for battalion
drill.” Snow, or no snow, mud, or no mud, we must come to it.
Dr. Humphrey is again with the regiment, his health is good. His presence
brought new life into the boys.
There was a grand flag presentation here last Saturday afternoon; and
although the mud was ankle deep, yet the whole reserve corps was not. We
were all formed in order, for a review; then the booming of cannons announced
the coming of the speaker, G.A. Grow. One company from each of the regiments
that were in the battle of Dranesville, then went forth to receive, their
flags, with this inscription [“Dranesville, Dec. 20th, 1861,”] inscribed
with letters of gold upon one of the white stripes. The companies were
the only ones that could hear the speaker, which was a great disappointment
to all, for we well knew that the occasion was one that would call forth
the greatest energies of that eloquent defender of the rights of man; and
as I could see him make his easy gestures, and swing his old “stove pipe,”
I could almost see his dark eyes flash, as he looked out upon that unconquered
legion, and told them of the noble deeds they had done, and that he trusted
in Heaven that the forests would not again put on their robes of green,
until every stripe contained a victory that would be an honor, not only
to the proud old Commonwealth that had sent us forth to wrestle with this
great evil, but victories that would form a bright page in the history
of America, to be read with interest, when we had passed away.
Our wounded prisoners are all doing well. – Capt. Niles is now able
to walk around the house; he will soon be ready for another fight.
One of our Buck-tails [Magraff] is now a prisoner in Richmond. We supposed
that he was shot, but have since learned that he is in Richmond. He was
one day taken out before the great Southern tribunal, and questioned in
regard to our army, and what kind of things the Buck-tails were, and what
they could do, but he told them that he had only been with us three days,
and knew but little about them. Bully for the Buck-tail! We intend to go
down and take him out in a few days.
One afternoon last week, a little circumstance took place in our camp,
which pleased the boys, and created quite an excitement. The first thing
that attracted my attention was a hundred voices crying, Pies! Pies! Pies!
Of course, I thought if there was anything in camp, in the line of pies,
I’d have a hand in. So I jumped and followed the crowd that was making
its way for the Sutler’s stand. When I turned the corner around my huge
mason, I saw a crowd around the guard, taking down cranberry pies like
a hungry dog would hot cakes. The Provost Martial camp up with a guard,
the make an examination of all the Sutler’s stands in the reserve corps,
and as pies are an article that they have no right to sell, they handed
them out “without money, of without price.” Our Sutler lost about two hundred
of the eatables.
We are to be paid off tomorrow.
I should not be surprised, if before your readers get this, you hear
tell of thunder, for we expect to move this week.
It any of the rich old farmers in Tioga County, wish to serve their
country, and have a lame back, or the phthisis too bad to come to war,
they can do so, by sending the Buck-tails a nice firkin of butter, a cheese,
or a few dried apples.
Wellsboro Agitator, 22 January 1862, p3
Camp Pierpont, Va., Jan. 16, 1862
Friend Agitator – Permit me through the columns of your paper, in behalf
of the Westfield soldiers, to return to the ladies of that place, belonging
to the “Soldier’s Aid Society,” a thousand thanks for their kindness and
generosity, in sending us a box of goods, containing eight bed quilts,
nineteen pairs of socks, towels, drawers, shirts, cakes, cheese, dried
fruit, etc., etc. Ladies of Westfield, your benevolent acts, will, forever
be remembered by those who have bid you a long adieu, and gone forth from
your social circles to fight for a principle that will withstand the wreck
of matter, and the crash of worlds. It there is any one thing on earth,
that will gladden and stimulate the soldiers’ hearts, it is to know that
the loved ones we have left behind, are banded together to supply our wants,
and to shield us from the winter’s storm. Your noble deed are worthy of
imitation, and when the war cry is hushed, and “Old Crocket” takes his
pen to chronicle the events of the past, and the heroic acts of those who
have played a part in this great drama, he will write upon the brightest
page, the name of the “Westfield Soldiers’ Aid Society.”
---- Col. Crocket.
Wellsboro Agitator, 22 January 1862, p3
[From another Correspondent]
Buck-Tail City, Va., Jan. 12, 1862
Mid winter is upon us, and the grand army of the Potomac still rest
quietly, almost within cannon shot distance of the enemy. When will there
be an advance is the question asked hundreds of times in a day. Echo, answers
when! Meanwhile, the press teems with conjectures, and rumors possible,
and impossible, as to the movements and plans of Gen. McClellan; how near
they are to the truth, time, alone, will determine. I, for one, give him
more credit, then to suppose he will allow them to become common property,
however much the people are interested in them. Let the friends of the
Union have patience, for the work before out young Chief is one of great
magnitude, and he should receive the hearty co-operation of every loyal
heart. Rome was not built in a day, nor can an army composed of over half
a million of men, be raised and placed upon a footing, to enable it to
fight a campaign, to a successful close, without sufficient time be allowed.
It is a huge machine, which requires a mastermind to construct, and put
it in operation. Let the people wait with patience, and say to those who
are clamoring for our advance, and raising the cry of “on to Richmond,”
“peace, be still.” Let them wait the development of plans, which, if we
can believe the rebels themselves, are already beginning to be felt. The
Richmond Examiner, tells its readers, that their large army in front of
Washington, is becoming thoroughly demoralized, in consequence of McClellan’s
inaction, and that it soon will be no better than an armed mob. It complains,
bitterly, of the incompetency of their rulers, and leaders, and much more
in the same strain. All this comes before the campaign is fairly opened.
– Let them tremble, for each succeeding blow shall be heard, and the folds
of the great Union Boa Con-strictor, shall gradually tighten, until the
monster, secession, is but a crushed, shapeless and harmless mass. The
fights, when they come, will be desperate; but I have no doubt the issue
will be in our favor.
Our armies are in a good condition, and the men are eager for the time
to come when the leash shall be slipped, and the word given to go. They
all say they wish they could have been with us at Dranesville. By the way,
we have gained quite an enviable notoriety by our connection with that
affair; it is regarded here as being decidedly the best thing of the war,
so far, and to be a Buck-tail is to be a ----. The boys are proud of the
confidence placed in them, and will do their best to maintain the position
The reserve corps was reviewed on the 5th, by Gov. Curtin, Gen. McCall
and staff; after whence the regiments that participated in the fight at
Dranesville, were drawn up and addressed by Governor, in a short speech,
in which he thanked them in the name of Pennsylvania, for their good conduct
in that battle, and said that the word, Dranesville, should be inscribed
on their banners. Accordingly, on yesterday, we had another review, which
was the occasion of out flags being returned to us. The whole division
was drawn up in line, and the banners were presented by the Hon. G.A. Grow,
who made a few appropriate remarks. – The flags of the regiments of the
third brigade, under command of Gen. Ord – the buck-tails, Col. Kane –
and the first artillery, Col. Campbell – now bear the inscription, “Dranesville,
Dec. 20th, 1861.” Long may they wave, and may victory always crown the
efforts of those who fear them, is the wish of all.
---- Soger Boy
Wellsboro Agitator 1862 February 05
From the Bucktails
Camp Pierpont, Jan. 26, 1862
Friend Agitator – ‘Tis a cold winter night, the north wind is playing
“Hail Columbia” with the top of my little domicile, as I fasten the door,
build on a fire, and seat myself to record the events of the past two weeks.
My only reason for not writing last week, is this: Sunday is my regular
day for writing, and last Sunday morning our company went out on picket.
I will give you a little sketch of that day, as it will serve to illustrate
the dark side of camp life.
We left our camp about 7 o’clock in the morning, with a drenching rain
pouring down upon us, and with the mud more than shoe deep to go to the
picket line, about two miles from camp, in the Dranesville road. A little
circumstance took place on the way worth mentioning. We had to cross a
little brook where the water was eight or ten inches deep, and as many
of the boys wore shoes, one of them thinking to cross in a better spot,
went to a pile of brush out of the road a few rods; but when about half
way over, his foot slipped, and away went a Bucktail into a hole of muddy
water four feet deep; he paddled around a moment to find his gun, but the
gun was not forth coming. If any of you were ever four or five miles from
home fishing in a drenching rain, and fell in all over – broke your line
– lost your hook and fish, you can partly judge the feelings of Mr. --------
when he waded to the shore amid the shouts of a hundred soldiers.
It rained nearly all day and night, and as we had no tents, or houses,
[except for those who wore straps upon their shoulder,] there we must stand,
or wade in the “sacred soil” of old Virginia, nearly knee deep, for twenty-four
long hours. The day passed off very well, but the night was long and lonely;
hour after hour was shortened by the yarns and stories which went their
rounds, but at last, when all were too sleepy and tired to either talk
or listen – the stillness of the night was only broken by “Corporal of
the guard, no 1st, 3rd or 4th relief,” as the case happened to be. Once
in the night, while standing around the fire, I spoke to “Uncle Johnny”
who was standing near me smoking his pipe – said I: “Pretty tough, Uncle
Johnny?” “Rather hard, yes,” said he, “but be G—d I can stand it if the
d—d sceesh can.”
Late at night, as I passed the window of a warm and well lighted room,
where a few officers sat smoking cigars, singing songs, and occasionally
taking a little “o-be-joyful.” I could not but contrast their condition
with those who were standing in the ice and mud on that dark stormy night,
to guard the “rock of liberty.”
The weather for the past ten days has been disagreeable, beyond description;
more than bad enough to make up for the fair weather of December. The snow
has not been over two inches deep, but the mud is about as deep as the
snow in Potter County.
A few morning since, our honest old Chaplain while distributing some
religious “tracks” among the soldiers, called at a tent on 3d street, and
said, “good morning boys, good morning; shan’t I leave a few ‘tracks’ at
your tent?” “Yes,” says Ned, “ but leave as few as possible, and be sure
and leave the heels towards the tent.”
One election for Colonel took place last Wednesday; the candidates
were, Lieut. Col. Thomas L. Kane, and Capt. Hugh W. McNeil of Co. D. The
day was an exciting one, but passed off much more quietly than was anticipated.
Superhuman efforts were made on both sides to win. On the one hand was
a man who could boast of his birth and relations, one who had gold and
could buy friends in every department of life and control the press; and
on the other hand a band of freemen, or a regiment of men, who have left
all that makes life dear, to fight for the land of their birth, a regiment
whose lives as American citizens, and their reputation as soldiers depended
upon the vote they cast. The polls were opened at nine o’clock, and in
order not to have any disturbance at the polls, and in order to detect
all fraud, we voted by companies. Co. A, voted first, the names being called
from the muster roll. Co. B, next, and so on in succession. As soon as
the voting began the betting commenced. At nine, bets were offered and
taken two to one on the fighting Col. Kane. At twelve, all bets were taken
evenhanded, and piles were put up. The McNeil men worked with determination
to win, and at three o’clock the scale had turned, two to one on the gallant
Captain. At five o’clock ten to one, and hundreds offered that no one seemed
willing to cover. At five the polls were closed, and at seven the news
ran like wild fire through every street, 223 majority for McNeil! The camp
then echoes with cheers which continued long and loud. Again we have a
Colonel! And with such a man as Hugh W. McNeil at our head, we have no
fears that we shall lose one iota of our former name, that we have worked
for nine long months of toil and danger to gain. Col. McNeil is about 35
years of age, six feet in height, dark eyes and hair, long black beard
and mustache, and in fact a noble looking man. He is a graduate of Yale
College, and is a good lawyer, and was at the time when this rebellion
broke out, Cashier of the Warren County Bank. And in the dark days of April
last, when a deepening gloom hung over every true American heart, and every
rail road car was filled with freemen flying to defend the Capital
of the Nation, a hundred men might have been seen, armed with their own
trusty pieces, floating down the Alleghany in scows built by their own
hands, with their heart beating high with the hope that they might soon
serve their country with Hugh W. McNeil for their First Lieut. From Pittsburgh
they came to Camp Curtin, where he was promoted to Captain of his Company,
then known as the Raftsman’s Guard, and since that time he has commanded
his company in a manner which does honor to himself and men. And today
he is commander of a Regiment second to none that ever trod the American
soil, and with him at the helm, we will fight as long as there is a Bucktail
heart that beats, or a drop of blood winding through our veins for the
Union that will stand united and be honored by every nation for ages yet
to come! ----- Col. Crocket
Wellsboro Agitator, 26 February 1862, p4
From the Buck-Tails
Camp Pierpont, Va., Feb. 16, 1862
Friend Agitator – The past week has been one that will form a bright
page in the history of the rebellion. It has brought new life into the
longing hearts of this great army of “mortar mixers,” on the banks of the
Potomac – deafening cheers through every camp – a thrill of joy through
every tent, and food for the anxious millions of the North, whose only
cry is onward, irrespective of the circumstances which surround us. Our
camps had scarcely quieted down over the victories at Fort Henry, when
the glad tidings reached us from the Burnside expedition, which made these
old hills once more tremble with the shouts of joy, and the cannons thunder.
But the wave of success did not stop here, it rolled onward, and is still
continuing to roll, and it will only stop when the last traitor has paid
his debt upon the hemp. – It is impossible to describe the intense excitement
of these camps, when the wires brought the news that at Fort Donelson,
the arch traitor Floyd, and 15,000 of his satellites, were prisoners of
war, and the proud old flag of our fathers waved in the place of the black
flag of despotism. Notwithstanding the snow which was fast falling when
the news reached us, cheer after cheer went up – bands played, and cannons
thundered, until old Virginia seemed inhabited by a race of freemen, whose
very yells had put to flight the minions of slavery.
As I read the proceedings of the past week, I can not but draw a contrast
between the present and the past. A few short months ago, Gen. Wish was
one of the heroes of the South – he was a lion – he had all the pluck of
a country bulldog. He dare stand up for Southern fights, and when surrounded
by an army of soldiers, and protected by the strong arm of the law – hanged
one poor, lone, solitary, broken hearted old man, whose head was -----
over with age, and troubled – for attempting to liberate the groaning millions
of America. But where do we find him today? I fancy I can see him on the
shores of the ocean, dressed in the garb of a Rebel General, surrounded
by an army of soldiers, and protected by the embattlements of war, with
a troubled mind and a faltering step, pacing his room as a sentinel walks,
well known but pausing every few moments to listen or with his glass, look
out upon the agitated waves, trembling like a midnight assassin, when about
to be brought to justice. But hark! A low rumbling sound booms over the
deep and far away upon the ocean, a strange flag looms up, it comes nearer
and near, until he recognized the same old Stars and Stripes that he had
long years before sworn to protect, a cold chill passes through his veins
– but again that sound falls upon his ear, nearer and more deadly than
before, it speaks in language too plain to be misunderstood, and tells
him that his race is run, the hour of his death draws near – the spirits
of the injured departed, cluster around him – his hair stands erect – his
eyes roll in their sockets – his knees grow weak – he turns pale – calls
for his physician, he is sick – sends for his Aide - tells him to fight
as long as there are any hopes, and then run, and as he is unwell, he will
start on ahead. And thus we see that he ---- times of peace, fleeing from
his army when the storm of battle rages around him.
Last Wednesday evening, a band from one of the Vermont regiments [the
best in the service] came over and serenaded Col. McNeil. ‘Twas a calm
and lovely moonlight night, and every one seemed inspired with new life.
After playing “Hail Columbia,” “Yankee Doodle,” the “Star Spangled Banner,”
and all the rest of the good old tunes, they closed by playing “Home, Sweet
Home.” Nothing could be more lovely. It took one back to the happy scenes
of the past, when all was peace.
The roads are yet almost impossible, but much better than they were
when I last wrote.
The weather for the past few days has been quite pleasant. The wind
began to dry up the mud, and our old drill ground began to present a busy
aspect, but yesterday [Saturday] the snow fell about two inches deep which
will again thin up the mud.
This morning the fog was so thick that is was impossible to see a tent
across our street. [25 feet] The sun is now shining bright, and the snow
is fast vanishing away.
One of the hardest parts of a soldier’s duty at the present time, is
to get wood enough to keep from freezing. The amount furnished us by Uncle
Sam, is not half-sufficient, if we had good winter houses, it might do,
but with our little tents stretched over a pen of poles, it is not enough.
But what the Government don’s and us we get ourselves, and this we do by
taking the straps from our guns and knapsacks, and go to the woods – full
one half mile – and gather dry loads, strap them together and sling them
on our backs, like a knapsack, and then wallow through the mire, back to
camp. This may seem rather hard to those unaccustomed to the privations
and hardships of a soldier’s life, but then ‘tis nothing for a Soldier.
There is one thing more, but it is one that I hoped that I should never
have occasion to speak of. There are a number of cases of the small pox
in this camp, and even two or three cases in our regiment, but all precaution
is taken to keep it from spreading, The whole regiment has been -------,
and as soon as one shows any symptoms, he is immediately removed from camp,
and his tent torn down. There are no cases in camp at the present time.
Wellsboro Agitator, 26 February 1862, p4
[From another correspondent]
Buck-tail City, Feb. 18th, 1862
Friend Agitator – For the last few days, the most intense excitement
reigned through the camp. The news of the many victories gained by our
troops, keeps them in a high state of excitement. For three days, the camps
have resounded with the shouts of soldiers, the firing of cannon, and strains
of martial music played from a hundred different bands. – The press just
gives the account of the capture of Fort Donaldson with fifteen thousand
prisoners, twenty thousand stands of arms, and three thousand horses. This
is glorious news for us. But now must the rebels feel with this sad news
ringing in their ears. We can now plainly see through the mist, that has
obscured our pathway for the last few months, and how bright does the future
appear, like some dark cloud that has covered the sky for a few short hours
is passing away and we can see the clear blue sky once more. And soon like
the sun that would appear, the star spangled banner will wave in triumph
throughout our land. – The rebellion now lies weltering in its own blood,
like some gigantic elephant that has received the deadly bullet of some
experienced hunters it falls to the earth with a mighty crash, makes but
a few strangles, and then expires. – A few more such victories as Roanoke
Island, Fort Henry, and Donelson, and the Southern Confederacy will be
known no more forever. – How gloomy must the leaders of this rebellion
feel. But before the setting of many suns, they will have more to feel
gloomy about. The head of the monster is already broken, and ere long the
disens will reach the vitals, and then death will soon take place. I suppose
that as soon as the roads get so we can drag our artillery over them, we
shall have to rout them from their boasted strong hold, at Centreville
and Manasses. But until then, all we can do is to stand guard, stamp around
in the mud, and cheer for the glorious achievement of others. – But,
when we do move, we hope you may hear something good from the boys of the
old Keystone State.
August 23, 1865
The following is a List of Battles participated in by the 45th Regiment
Pa. Vet. Vols., in the war of 1861-2-3-4-5:
James Island, S.C., June 10th to 16th, 1862.
South Mountain, Md., Sept. 14th, 1862.
Antietam, Md., Sept. 17th 1862.
Fredericksburg, Va. Dec. 11th to 14th, 1862.
Jamestown, Ky., May 30th 1863.
Vicksburg, Miss., July 4th, 1863.
Jackson, Miss., July 10th to 17th, 1863.
Blue Springs, Tenn., Sept. 11th, 1863.
Louden, Tenn., Nov. 14th, 1863.
Campbell Station, Tenn., Nov 17th, 1863.
Siege of Knoxville, Tenn., Nov. 17 to Dec.6, ’63.
Wilderness, Va., May 6th and 7th, 1864.
Spottsylvania Court House, Va., May 12 to 18, ’64.
North Anna River, Va. May 24th to 27th, 1864.
Telopotomy Creek, Va., June 1st , 1864.
Bethsaida Church, Va., June 2d to 3d, 1864.
Cold Harbor, Va., June 7th, 1864.
Before Petersburg, Va., June 16 to July 29, 1864.
Mine Explosion, Petersburg, Va., July 30th, 1864
Weldon Railroad, Va., August 18th to 21st, 1864
Peebles’ Farm, Sept. 30th 1864
Storming of the works in front of Petersburg, April 24, 1864
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 28 February 2011
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice
Page typed and submitted by Pat NEWELL Smith