Volume XVII · Autumn 1961 · Number 1
The University and the Civil War
The outbreak of hostilities in the South in the spring of 1861 presented many problems to the president and faculty of the University of Rochester, then just entering the second decade of its existence. At the end of eight years under the guidance of Dr. Martin Brewer Anderson, the University had begun to show very real evidence of solid foundations. It was planning to enter its own new building in the fall of 1861 on the new campus on the outskirts of the city at the corner of University Avenue and Prince Street. The excitement which accompanied every phase of the national election of 1860, the secession movement, and the inauguration of President Lincoln, was manifest in both the student body and the faculty, and the University was to enter this new phase of its development with some doubts of its ability to survive what was indeed to be "a testing time."
President Anderson had been a conservative and a Republican, but as events progressed during those months preceding the outbreak of war, he foresaw and foretold the coming crisis, and his intense patriotism caused him to become, in his own words, "a professional agitator-- in the pulpit--on the platform--in the street and wherever I could get anybody's ear." In a speech in March, 1861, he said:
Terrible as is the calamity of war, the blotting out of a nation's life is more terrible; better that a million lives should be sacrificed than that this nation should perish; to avert such a catastrophe, I would lead the young men before me to the field of conflict as readily as to the recitation room.
In spite of this feverish activity on his own part, Dr. Anderson was able to restrain a number of the students from rushing headlong into the military service, and to persuade them to continue their college course, until, as he said in addressing the graduating class of 1861:
"You go forth to your appointed places among men. Your education, your capacity, your all, belong to the service of God and your country."
It was during this period that closer relations developed between the city and the University than had heretofore existed, for Dr. Anderson became a leader at many community meetings by virtue of his imposing presence, his ringing voice, and his powers of thought and speech. Other members of the faculty followed his lead in assuming their share of civic duties. The Reverend Samuel S. Cutting, Professor of Rhetoric and History, spoke frequently from the pulpit and at public gatherings. Like many other members of the Rochester clergy, he stressed the moral aspects of the struggle as a crusade to eliminate slavery. And like others, he advocated a less belligerent attitude toward the South than many Rochesterians thought entirely proper.
Without a doubt, the most stirring development at the University in the spring of 1861 centered around the figure of Isaac Ferdinand Quinby. Professor Quinby had joined the faculty of the University in the fall of 1851 as the college was entering its second year. He was a graduate of West Point Military Academy in the class of 1843, and had taught in that institution for a few years, leaving to take part in the military campaigns of the Mexican War. He resigned at the close of the war, and, wishing to return to teaching, accepted the appointment of Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Rochester. He was a brilliant mathematician, admired and respected by his pupils in spite of the rigid discipline and methods of teaching which he had learned at West Point and the informality of his classroom manners. Professor Quinby, following the fall of Fort Sumter, immediately set about to recruit a regiment. On May 3, eight local companies and one recruited in Brockport left Rochester for camp at Elmira. There, together with another company from Dansville, they were mustered into the service of the United States for three months as the 13th Regiment of Infantry, New York State Volunteers, with Colonel Isaac Quinby commanding. Before Colonel Quinby departed from Rochester, a gathering was held before the University building on Main Street, and the students presented him with a sword, with appropriate speechmaking, flag-raising, songs, and cheers. The sword was the regulation sword of a colonel of infantry, with a brown steel scabbard ornamented with gold and engraved with the inscription: "Ne quid detrimenti Republicacapiat," and, "Presented to Col. Isaac F. Quinby by the Students of the University of Rochester, May, 1861." Some three weeks later six crowded railway coaches took the Mayor and Common
Council and a representative group of Rochester's leading citizens to Elmira. Here, following a dress parade, the regiment was presented with a stand of colors prepared by the ladies of Rochester, and bearing the inscription: "Rochester Regiment." Dr. Anderson made the presentation address, and Colonel Quinby, mounted upon a fine horse, received the flag with a "neat and appropriate speech."
Colonel Quinby's connection with the 13th New York Infantry ceased on the fourth of August, and he returned to the University at the opening of college in September. Early the following spring he returned to the field, this time as brigadier-general of volunteers, assigned to command the District of the Mississippi, later the 7th Division, Army of the Tennessee. Severe illness in the summer of 1863 forced his retirement from field service. He returned to the North and resumed his teaching position at the University, but continued to serve the government until the fall of 1865 as provost-marshal of the 28th Congressional District of New York.
Professor Quinby was the only member of the faculty to become actively engaged in the military service, but from the small body of alumni and undergraduates there was a number of volunteers. Professor Kendrick estimated that one in eight of the undergraduates enlisted. The Interpres of June, 1865, listed sixty-four names in its roll of honor, eight of them men who died in the service. This list is not complete, nor is the list of casualties accurate. A marble memorial tablet, dedicated at the commencement exercises in 1866 and later erected in the chapel in Anderson Hall, contained the names of ten who lost their lives in the service. This tablet, incidentally, was replaced by a bronze plaque which now hangs on the wall of the west room in Todd Union. On this, besides the names of the ten casualties, is inscribed the statement: "In defense of the Union during the Civil War 1861-1865, about one hundred students and alumni of the University of Rochester served as volunteers in the army and navy."
The four years of the war proved to be a severe strain upon Dr. Anderson, who was forced to assume a multiplicity of duties in order to keep the University alive. The student body shrank from 165 in 1861, to 101 in 1865. Financial problems were acute. Faculty leaves granted for reasons of health, travel, or to secure financial support, put additional teaching burdens upon the president. Discipline problems were serious. Small wonder it is that in his annual report to the Trustees in July, 1865, he sounded weary and disheartened:
During the war now happily closed we have been under constant difficulties. My confident expectation at the beginning was that should the war continue three years our instruction must of necessity close. As it is and with great care and trouble we have kept up our classes with possibly less percentage of actual loss than has occurred in most colleges in our country. But the difficulties of discipline and administration have been indefinitely increased. Students and classes have been constantly unsteady and uneasy, some from patriotism, some from high bounties, some from fear of what they thought the disgrace of being drafted. The Academies in our neighborhood from which we naturally get our supplies of students have been each year since the war almost entirely swept of those who were of military age and strength. The number of men in the army has made an unnatural demand for young men in all departments of labor. These reasons have taken from us the older and soberer class of students and left us to a great extent with a college full of boys. It has been very difficult to keep up the standard of study and discipline. For any undue severity in requisitions almost always was sufficient to take a man off to the army. The constant excitement consequent upon volunteering and great operations in the field have kept the minds of young men preoccupied and rendered the teacher's work more difficult.
In the same report, although he decried the depleted finances of the University and the lukewarm response to appeals for increased endowment, he was moved to say:
For the future of the University I have never had more confidence than today. We have 333 graduates, vigorous and growing young men. We have property which could hardly be replaced for 300,000 dollars. We have a good reputation all over the Union. The University will not die. It cannot.
The lean years of the Civil War were followed by a period in which the struggle for survival continued, but the remainder of Dr. Anderson's administration was characterized by a gradual increase in the University's strength and resources, and a continued good record. His perseverance and determination were to a large degree responsible for the solid foundation on which the present University of Rochester rests.
In the various collections of manuscripts in the university archives there are numerous items which give a realistic, constructive, sometimes pathetic, sometimes amusing picture of the conditions in Rochester, the University, and on the battlefield during the Civil War. There are diaries, letters from students and alumni, letters from General Quinby, speeches, and reminiscences. Most of these are unpublished; few, if any, were written for publication, and the errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar which creep into the letters written under stress by men scarcely out of their teens must be overlooked. In the following pages we have edited a very small selection of these manuscripts which we hope will be of interest to our readers.
GENERAL ISAAC FERDINAND QUINBY
[Professor Isaac Ferdinand Quinby was graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843, and was a classmate and lifelong friend of Ulysses S. Grant. In the fall of 1851, when the University was scarcely a year old, he joined the faculty as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.
When the war broke out in April, 1861, General Quinby raised a volunteer regiment which was engaged in activities in the Baltimore area and at the first battle of Bull Run. He resigned from the service in August, but reentered the following March as brigadier-general of volunteers, assigned to command the District of the Mississippi, later the 7th Division, Army of the Tennessee. Severe illness in the summer of 1863 forced his retirement from field service.
During his months of service in the west, General Quinby addressed a number of letters to President Martin Brewer Anderson which give a graphic description of conditions in the Mississippi area.]
Columbus Ky May 14th 1862
M. B. Anderson L.L.D.
My very dear friend
It was refreshing to recognize your handwriting on one of the letters brought me by Captain Barton. It was like you to overlook cold formality and not wait for the first from me. Without doubt you appreciated to some extent my situation and felt that my duties did not give much time for private correspondence; and, indeed, even now, with my staff about me becoming familiar with their work I find more than enough to occupy the 10 legal hours. My command is the "District of the Mississippi" which beginning here extends down the river to include the land forces in Commodore Foote's (now Davis') Flotilla, and to an undefined extent on either side of the river. My general instructions are to carry out the plan of river defenses which General Cullum in consultation with me had approved and directed and to use my discretion in sending out expeditions to break up rebel bands and organizations within the limits of my district. My troops (about seven thousand) are nearly all raw and should of course be put under a thorough course of discipline; but work on the new batteries, the mounting and dismounting of heavy guns compel me to keep one half of the men at work constantly at this post and at Island No. 10. These are the two points at which it is proposed to contend the passage up the river of the rebel gun boats should they succeed in destroying our flotilla. The attempt to do this last week proved a disastrous failure if the imperfect accounts we get here can be relied on. The Cincinatti, ( Mound City, a mistake), one of our boats which had the encounter with the rebel rams passed up yesterday morning for repairs. Her head was well bandaged up with canvass showing that she had received some pretty hard knocks, though her officers represented her injuries as slight and easily repaired. The other boat engaged with the rams was more seriously injured and is expected up today. It will be found, I apprehend, that the reduction of the forts above Memphis will, as in the case of No. 10, require the cooperation of land forces. It is simply impossible for our northern boats on the river to drive a determined enemy out of well constructed works; they may run by them it is true with their heads downstream; but when it is remembered that some of them cannot make headway against the current and have to be taken in tow it will be seen that running the blockade would not be altogether prudent unless we have possession of the river banks below and are able to reduce the works above. I am disposed to give all credit to the gun boats on the western waters and to them the entire credit of the capture of Fort Henry is due. That may be called the beginning of our successes in this Department and it certainly did give the rebels a wholesome terror of our floating batteries, which they have not yet entirely recovered from. At Fort Donaldson but little damage was done by them while at Island No. 10 I know from personal observation that during the two or three weeks bombardment that they disabled but one gun. Our mortars though they did not inflict any immediate physical injury, one white man, seven negroes only being killed by them must have worn terribly on the rebels by the incessant watching which the shells rendered necessary. Still I think that no unprejudiced observer can help admitting that our fleet made virtually no impression on the defenses. The capture of No. 10 may be said to be due to the maneuver of Genl Pope in throwing troops over the river in the rear of the enemy. They were taken completely by surprise and panic struck. The boatmen on the lake in the rear of No. 10 on the Tennessee shore are daily finding bodies of the rebels who were drowned in their efforts to escape through the swamps, which by becoming overflowed during the high water floated the bodies. It is estimated that as many as three hundred dead bodies have been already found, and it is likely that many more are entangled in the thickets. When we first came here we took possession of the house owned by the State Bank of Kentucky, a branch of which was established in this town some years since. It is a fine house provided with many conveniences water works &c, but it was in an awful condition having been occupied first by the rebels and afterwards by our own volunteers. The consequence was that the floors were well mahoganied with tobacco juice and the walls decorated with pictures done in pencil by those taking their first lessons in the fine arts.
May 17th. At this point I was interrupted in this stupid letter by business which together with physical and mental prostration has prevented my resuming it sooner. I returned this morning from my first visit down to our flotilla. My object was to have a consultation with Commodore Davis about the reduction of Forts Pillow and Randolph. Our plans are agreed upon but what they are I cannot at this time divulge. I hope Memphis will be in our possession within a week. This is of course subject to all the contingencies of human calculations. Refugees without number are flocking within our lines to avoid the conscription. They are not by any means confined to naturalized citizens but many of them are native born and all seem animated by one desire, to escape from a country governed by a reign of terror as despotic and cruel as that of France in the worst days of her revolution. Were it that the sickley season is so close at hand as to render prompt action necessary I really believe this rebellion would die out in a few months by the violent and unnatural efforts made by its leaders to sustain it. For this purpose we would only have to hold what we already possess in sufficient force to resist their attacks. But our troops are already suffering from the climate and the warm season has just begun. No doubt their men suffer nearly if not quite as much as ours; but they are mostly near their homes, while ours being far removed from their friends and families have to be treated in hospitals. Heretofore they have lost by disease more, far more, than we. The former Mayor of this place who was here and in the rebel service last Winter tells me that the Confederates lost 6000 men at this place while in their possession, which is a very high percentage of all the force they had here.
The refugees brought in to Tiptonville some late copies of Memphis papers. I will send them to Mrs. Quinby and if you would like to look over them call upon her for them. One of them gloats over the prospect of the yellow fever making its advent in New Orleans earlier this season than usual. I trust our authorities will not hesitate as to the proper course to pursue should these hellish anticipations be realized. Were we compelled to abandon New Orleans from such a cause we should leave it as Babylon now is. I am told that the foreign consuls at New Orleans served a notice on our Commodore when our fleet approached the City that they should require of him a delay of 60 days before he commenced the bombardment. I have seen nothing of this myself, but am assured that it was so published. Can it be possible that we have so fallen from our former dignity and grandeur as a Nation that we must receive and submit to such indignities? The thought makes my blood boil and I hope it is not true. This river must be opened this summer, and Providence so far seems to have ordered events so as to enable us to bring it about very soon. I have scarcely had a well day since I came here, but hope soon to become acclimated and accustomed to the water. The young gentlemen Barton & Erickson are doing very well indeed. They are industrious and anxious to make themselves useful. I do not understand what possible difficulty can be placed in the way of Mr. Rochester joining me. Barton's appointment ought not to interfere with it in the least. I have written Senator Harris on the subject and trust that he will be able to clear the subject up.
I do most heartily pray that the conclusion of this war will permit me to resume my duties in the University at the commencement of the fall term. It is impossible now to know how this may be. It grieves me to learn that the Sophomores are making the position of Prof. Stewart unpleasant but I doubt not that with your influence he will soon get the control of the class. With the warmest regards for Mrs. Anderson and thanks for her kind messages and also my respectful remembrance to your father, believe me as ever your very sincere friend
I. F. QUINBY
June 17th 1862
My dear friend
Capt. Rochester has just arrived and handed me your kind favor of the 9th inst. Let me at the same time thank you for that of the 30th ult. I would like to have the time to sit down and have a free long talk with you about your trials and perplexities at the University and about those of my own position, but that is not possible for I do not get a chance to sleep until I lie down from sheer exhaustion. The rush of troops upon me began on the 2nd inst before even the telegraphic despatch informing me that they would be sent was received. And there was such confusion as beggars discription In some Regiments the men here, the arms, ammunition and transportation up the Tennessee and some regiments though they had been in service and under pay for six months never had the means of taking field. It was expected by them that by legerdemain I could supply their wants out of nothing and remedy defects before I knew what they were. The rail Road was to be guarded and rebuilt. There were here neither tools or material. Locomotives Cars & implements of all kinds had been either destroyed or run down South. Requisitions for indespensable articles upon the Qr Masters at Cairo & Saint Louis were tardily filled. In fact it was not until Sunday last that tools for bridge building arrived and locomotives and Cars are not yet received. But enough of this. I will only say that my most positive orders & instructions to Genl Mitchell to throw forward this Cavalry and guard the bridges have not been obeyed and in consequence a large bridge near Trenton Tenn has just been burnt by the rebels I shall take a handcar and push forward over the road as far as Humboldt if possible I expect to leave at 2 P. M. and if not killed or taken prisoner, hope to get back day after tomorrow I went out as far as the bridge over the "Big Obion" 7 miles beyond Union City last Thursday, and all so far was going on well; but finding the Cavalry had not been pushed out gave instructions to have it done at once.
Oh! with what joy will I return so soon as I honorably can to my friends and pleasant quiet duties in Rochester. Do come out here and remain with me during a part at least of your summer vacation I do long for your advice and assistance. Heaven only knows what is in store for me but whatever befalls me I have the consciousness of having tried to do the work appointed me to the best of my ability.
The kindness which you and your gentle wife have ever shown me shall be treasured among my most agreeable recollections.
To her and to your father present my warmest regards.
I am deeply pained to hear of the trouble which the freshman & Sophmore Classes are giving you. It was my hope that the appeal which was made them when I took leave of the University would not be without effect. You may say to them if you deem it advisable, [that it] adds greatly to the load of anxiety which now whelms me.
I am very sincerely
December 10th 1862
M. B. Anderson L.L.D
My dear friend
Though neither of us has written to the other since I left home in October last I have frequently heard from you thro' Mrs Quinby & Mrs Gardner and their report of your suffering from rheumatism has caused me much sorrow. As a friend let me second the entreaties of Mrs Anderson that you give up work for a short time and put yourself in the hands of some skillfull physician, otherwise you may become an invalid for life to the great regret of your friends, to say nothing of the detriment of a much larger circle of humanity Please do so.
Since my arrival at Corinth I have had a lively time in marching hither and thither to out maneuvre the enemy and so far Grant's operations have been eminently successful. He does not wait for supplies of clothing camp equipage &c, but moves without much reference to them when there is a chance to strike a blow. The abandonment of the Tallahatchie by the rebels, which was purely the result of Grant's Strategy has done more to dishearten the traiters in the South-west than any one thing except the capture of Fort Donaldson The operation by which this was brought about was a master stroke in its bold conception and successful execution. If the Govt will but give Grant a carte blanche the Mississippi River will be open within a month and the State itself virtually under federal rule. It is contraband to tell you of the plans but I am satisfied that unless thwarted by such men as McClernand and other political tricksters they will lead to the results I have predicted and ultimately to others still greater. It is to be hoped that the President will now assume independence enough to be no longer influenced by the clamors and criticisms of ultra and partizan newspapers, but will select men for high commands in the Army who have achieved positive and important results. The newspapers through their correspondents have heretofore made most of our generals and the disasters which have befallen our Arms should open the eyes of all who wish to have them open and have the success of our Cause at heart to the mischievous effects that these agencies have produced. I[t] was in this manner that Rosecrans made his great reputation and already rumors have reached us of serious reverses in Tennessee which are I fear the harbingers of still greater. It is with the deepest pain that I am compelled to confess my utter disappointment in Rosecrans. A man of fine mental powers, as all who know him must acknowledge he is nevertheless devoid of that practicable good sense upon which the successful management of Armies so greatly depends. A theoriser when I knew him so well years ago he has since become an intriguing unscrupulous Jesuit. While at Corinth he had about him a correspondent of one of the Cincinatti papers who ate at his table; had access to his office at all times, and came in possession even of the confidential telegraphic despatches which passed between Grant and himself; at least all of them which were calculated to bolster him up with the public. This correspondent was permitted in his letters to give Rosecrans all the credit for planning and fighting the battles of Iuka and Corinth, and so represented these affairs as to create the impression in the public mind that Grant was acting as a subordinate, to whose blunders and failures to obey orders was to be attributed the escape of the rebel army from utter destruction in both cases; whereas the facts were the very opposite and had Rosecrans obeyed Grant's orders, those victories, brilliant as they were, would have been ten fold more fruitful in results. Copies of the papers in which these letters so laudatory of Rosecrans and so injurious to Grant and others were received at Corinth weeks before the former left for Kentucky, but no effort was made by him to correct the errors and the correspondent was still retained at Head Quarters. But I change my subject lest you say as does Mrs. Q. that I am always condemning and never praising.
You would be astonished at the amount of cotton in this section of the country into which we came so suddenly that the Gueirellas had not time to apply the torch except in a few localities. In the last two days my teams have brought in 195 bales most of which is marked C.S.A. which implies that it is the property of the Confederate Govt taken either for taxes or purchased for shipment to foreign parts to be exchanged for Army supplies of all kinds. Were we to remain here for a week at least 1000 bales could be collected for the benefit of the Govt. . . . With kindest regards to Mrs. Anderson your father, my colleagues and all friends, believe me yours sincerely
I F QUINBY
THE DIARY OF WILLIAM CAREY MOREY, '68
[William Carey Morey, '68, Professor of History and Political Science at the University from 1872 until his retirement in 1920, entered the University as a freshman in 1861. In August, 1862, at the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the 130th New York Volunteer Infantry (later the 1st New York Dragoons) and remained in the service until the cessation of hostilities in 1865. During his military career, Professor Morey kept a diary in which he recorded the campaigns and battles in which he participated. The original notes were made in pencil in pocket memorandum books which became considerably blurred through the years, and in the summer of 1910 he copied them into a notebook, adding to his original diary a series of ten manuscript maps with accompanying explanations to give a more graphic description of the campaigns in which he participated. The part of the diary which covers the last three weeks of the war follows.]
Sunday, March 26, 1865
Marched through McClellan's fortifications at Harrison's Landing. Moved up the river by Malvern Hill, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom and went into camp. President Lincoln and wife are at City Point on a visit to General Grant. [Marginal note: Hancock Station]
Monday, March 27, 1865
Marched to the rear of our lines in front of Petersburg. The rebels try to shell our column, but without any damage. Visited our line of fortifications--Forts Wright and Haskell: also Fort Stedman which was captured last Saturday by the rebels, but was retaken by our forces-- Our loss about 800; the rebel loss, 2700 prisoners, and 3000 killed and wounded.
Tuesday, March 28, 1865
Remained in camp all day. The army of the James, consisting of the 24th and 25th corps, moving to the left. Orders for the cavalry to move tomorrow morning at 6 o clock with five days rations and 30 lbs of forage.
Wednesday, March 29, 1865
Marched to Reams Station; turned to the right, crossed Hatcher's Run and camped near Dinwiddie, C.H. Passed over bad roads and through a very poor country.
Thursday, March 30, 1865
March through Dinwiddie C.H. Took a road to the right leading towards the South side R.R. Gen. Gibbs brigade in advance. Met the enemy's cavalry and drove them back, until in the afternoon the enemy was reinforced by Picketts division of infantry and stopped our further progress. The Reserve Brigade lost considerably. Are now within four miles of the Southside R.R. Remained in position until dark when we left our picket line posted, and went into camp. The weather very rainy and the roads muddy.
Friday, March 31, 1865
Rained considerably during the night. Our division dismounted and put on the skirmish line. Fought the rebels but made no very great progress. In the afternoon the rebels got around our flank and in our rear and drove us back. Fell back upon the Boydton Plank Road and retreated to Dinwiddie C.H. Affairs looking rather dubious.
Saturday, April 1, 1865
Moved out and advanced again on the rebels. Our division sent out on the same road that we were on yesterday. The 5th Corps under Warren on our right. Came upon the enemy's first line of works. Engaged them for about half an hour and charged them out, capturing many prisoners. Moved on again to their next line at Five Forks' and engaged them there for two or three hours. When the sun was about half an hour high we pierced the rebel works. Gen. Sheridan seized his own battle flag and the troops gathered around him and charged up the fortification, the rebels giving themselves up by thousands. Night closed the scene, drawing a curtain upon one of the most brilliant victories of the war. The Southside R.R. about two miles distant.
Sunday, April 2, 1865.
Began our march at 9 A. M. towards the Southside R.R. Struck the road between Sutherland and Ford Station. Shelled out the rebels and tore up the track for some distance. News reached us of the capture of Petersburg. Moved on towards the Appomattox river, and chased the rebels to within three miles of the river when they made a heavy stand. Fought them for a time in their breastworks; but darkness coming on we ceased firing when they charged us but were handsomely repulsed. We failed to drive them out on account of the non-arrival of a division of the 5th Corps which had been ordered up. (Deep Creek)
Monday, April 3, 1865
The rebels "dug out" last night under cover of darkness. Followed them up today. Custers division in advance. Received the news of the evacuation of Richmond. Moved on the Amelia C.H. road to within 12 miles of the C.H. Custer followed them closely smashing up their rear.
Tuesday, April 4, 1865
Moved on to within one mile of the rail road (Richmond and Danville R R) on a reconnoissance. Found three divisions of Lee's army. Had some skirmishing. Went into camp about 12 o'clock.
Wednesday, April 5, 1865
"Boots and Saddles" sounded at 1 o' clock A.M. Marched back to the main column and moved to Jetersville on the Richmond and Danville R. R. where the infantry are in position. Took up our position on the left. Remained until about 5½ o'clock and then went into camp.
Thursday, April 6, 1865.
Army again in motion. Our whole army engaged Lee's army and whipped them completely capturing from 12,000 to 15,000 prisoners, and a large amount of artillery. Battle of Sailor's Creek. Lee turned from his march toward Danville and is now retreating towards Lynchburg. Our victory today most complete. Regiment on picket on the road to Prince Edward C.H.
Friday, April 7, 1865
The rebels "skedaddled" last night. We followed them up. Passed through Prince Edward C.H. We are now on the south side of the rebel column. Camped about 5 miles from Prince Edward C.H.
Saturday, April 8, 1865
The rebels retreating. Sheridan moving on their left flank. Crossed the Lynchburg railroad at Prospect Station. Marched about 20 miles when Custer struck the rebels and captured five trains of cars at Appomattox Station. He drove away the guard and captured 40 pieces of artillery and a large number of wagons. We followed the rebels to Appomattox C.H. The cavalry corps was then formed to the west across the road on which the trains were captured, thus cutting off Lee's line of retreat. Darkness prevented further operations and we lay upon our arms all night.
Sunday, April 9, 1865.
At early day light again placed on the skirmish line. At about 6 o clock the rebels attempted to charge through our lines, supposing that the whole force that had intercepted them was cavalry. They succeeded in driving back the line a little. The infantry was already forming in line to support us. When formed they moved forward to engage the enemy, allowing the cavalry to withdraw and operate on the flanks. The cavalry were forming for a charge when a flag of truce came to our lines from Gen Lee proposing to surrender. The firing ceased and was succeeded by the most enthusiastic cheering. The troops remained in position most of the day. When the result was known to be "unconditional surrender," went into camp. Went to the house when the conference was held; saw Gen Lee, as he left the house, mount his horse and ride back to his dilapidated army.
Monday, April 10, 1865
Moved back today to Prospect Station.
Tuesday, April 11, 1865.
Moved through Prince Edward C.H. to within 12 miles of Burke's Station (Burkesville Junction) and went into camp.
Wednesday, April 12, 1865
Moved to Burkesville and camped.
Thursday, April 13, 1865
Rained last night. Moved to Nottoway C.H. and camped.
Friday, April 14, 1865
Remained in camp. A very splendid day. A salute of 200 guns fired in honor of our national victories and the raising of the identical flag over Fort Sumter that was lowered four years ago.
Saturday, April 15, 1865
Detailed to take charge of a detachment of 60 men to escort an ambulance train to Taylor's farm, a distance of 24 miles, after some of our wounded arrived and found the wounded removed. Went into camp. Very rainy day.
Sunday, April 16, 1865
Pleasant day. Returned to camp at Nottoway C.H. about 2 o clock P.M. Received the sad intelligence of the death of President Lincoln.
CAPTAIN CHARLES HOWARD SAVAGE, '61
[Captain Charles Howard Savage, of Rochester, enlisted in Company F, 13th Regiment of New York State Volunteers, on April 30th, 1861. He was killed in action at the Battle of Manassas Junction on August 30, 1862, at the age of twenty-three. The following letter is one of many written to President Anderson by students in the service.]
Camp l3″ Regt. N.Y.V. June 14 ″. 1862
Near New Bridge Va.
Dr. M. B. Anderson.
Upon landing at Yorktown and being informed that Porters Division was in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, I placed my carpet bag in charge of a baggage man of the 18″ N Y Vols. It was but a few days ago that I met with this baggage man and then to find that the valise had been stolen and with it, I regret to say, your letter to Col. E. G. Marshall. I trust you will have experienced no great inconvenience in not hearing from said letter. I have informed Col. Marshall of the loss of the letter so that in case he has been looking for a communication from you he understands why it has not been received.
We are now temporarily encamped in a small clover field which is almost wholly surrounded by woods. There is an opening on one side-- the side towards the rebels. Here, directly under the eyes of the enemy the 13″ drills daily. So they can see--(what Ex. Gov. Brown says he sees, "That the rebellion is played out,") that in future they must meet and contend with troops more disciplined than ever and with poorer success than ever.
The country through which we are passing is highly cultivated: vast fields of wheat, corn and clover stretch out on every side. The style of architecture indicates a considerable degree of refinement. The inhabitants stay at home more generally in this neighborhood than in some others. Many, however, have abandoned their homes: some through fear, others out of sympathy for the Rebel cause. As a general rule, the Aristocrats--those who own and rule the South, know too much to be afraid of our army. The chiefs of such households left them at the beginning of the contest out of sympathy and also inspired by ambition. Among them may be enumerated Gen. Lee, John A Washington, Dr Brown Mayo and many others all of whom abandoned magnificent homes for a house without foundation down in Confederal Land.
A bullet met John A. in a recent battle. "Hail fellows well met." But it makes one sad to contemplate these homes once scenes of happiness and filled with happy hearts--now hollow skeletons and in their gloomy hollowness emblematic of the gloom and sorrow which must attend their fugitive inmates. It is really gratifying to notice the change in sentiment which begins to display itself in various portions of the South. Our soldiers are cheerful in view of the approaching end. The speech of Ex. Gov. Brown of Tenn. is doubtless but one of the many which will very soon be delivered in favor of Peace and the Union.
The Rebels, as they retreated towards Richmond, endeavored to persuade the inhabitants to flee with them. So I am told by a widow lady, a Mrs. Jones, at whose house I stationed a guard several days since. The arguments employed by the Rebels were that "The Northern Vandals would ravish the women, burn the houses," and commit nameless and numberless other depradations. She was almost persuaded to go but finally concluded to remain be the consequences what they might. She is glad she remained for she says "Our Soldiers are perfect gentlemen and the army of the South can not be compared with the army of the North." This incident sets forth the opinion which is entertained by a majority of the Southern people in reference to the men of the North. And furthermore, it indicates that the simple march of our orderly thoroughly disciplined army through the South may prove more instructive to its people than many years of peace.
There will forever hereafter be a better understanding and consequently a better feeling between the two great sections of the country.
The widow Jones is proud of our army: doubtless every man and woman of the South will be and in this will consist the eternity of final victory. For whatever admiration or love the army wins for itself is won for the North which nurtured it, for the Government of the North-- its Institutions and its Christianity.
This letter was here interrupted by the command "Fall in in light marching order": so I hurried this sheet back into Portfolio, clasped on sword and ordered my contraband to shoulder haversack and canteen for his and my mutual subsistence. In a moment Martindales and Butterfields Brigades were in line and marched a mile to the rear. This movement I have since learned was occasioned by an attack of a foraging party of the Rebels on our waggon train. The 13″ and 25″ next day went out three miles farther on pickett and returned this morning; saw no enemy.
Under Col. Marshall the 13″ has recovered what was lost under Pickell. Or, a more correct statement would be, the Regt. in a strictly military point of view, has gained under Col. Marshall what was lost under Pickell.
For, morally, the Regt. is losing immensely under Marshall. He himself is profane and countenances profanity among his men.
He also countenances gambling. I do not think he himself gambles but permits it among the men--even encourages it by saying "privates can gamble among themselves, officers among themselves."
Many of the men, I am pained to notice, take advantage of the above example and swear without restraint. Again, gambling had hitherto been forbidden and very little was seen among the men. Now cards may be seen in every tent.
Colonel Marshall is a thorough disciplinarian and did he not so entirely ignore the moral nature of his men he might be called a whole soldier.
He is very attentive to the physical health and comfort of his men and is gaining their respect for his many soldierly qualities.
He is cool and cares nothing about danger The 13″ arrived late at the battle field of Hanover Court House. As we approached, Capt Griffin asked Col. M. if "the 13″ would go with him to the front and defend his battery"?--"Yes--go on, I'll follow your G-d-d-d gigs to h-." was Marshall's reply. He will distinguish himself if opportunity is offered. I am not in the habit of personal allusions. But I know of your acquaintance with Col. M. and thought you might be interrested to know how he is succeeding. So what I have written is for you alone.
I was pained to notice the name of Capt. W. B. Moore among the "Reported Killed." I trust it is a false report or that at most he is only wounded.
I am Very Respectfully
Your Obdt. Servt
Capt. Charles H. Savage
My highest regards to Mrs Anderson--and to the Faculty.
FRANKLIN BENJAMIN HUTCHINSON, '62
[Franklin B. Hutchinson, a native of Penfield, enlisted in August, 1862, with the rank of second lieutenant, Company H, 108th Regiment of New York State Volunteers. He was later promoted to first lieutenant and quartermaster, and served until the close of the war. After returning to civilian life, Mr. Hutchinson began the practice of law in Rochester and continued to be active in that field until his death in 1919.
The following letter, from the Martin B. Anderson papers, describes the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, during which General Burnside's forces suffered heavy losses.]
Camp 108 NYV
Near Fredericksburg Va
The many acts of kindness that I rec'd at your hands when in Coll and afterwards, has ever caused me to remember you with the most pleasant recollections, And will take this opportunity to acknowledge my many obligations to you--Our Reg is encamped about two miles from Falmouth and four from F'd'ks'b'g-- I presume you are well acquainted with the details of our visit to Fredericksburg, the battle &c much better than I can narrate them. Couches corps and more particularly Frenches division was selected to commence the fight, and take the enemies advance fortification by a desperate charge. We were ordered up at fixed bayonets and one brigade at a time. Ours was the second to advance, forth we marched, came to our advanced line of battle--advanced on a double quick had passed them but a short distance when the vacancies in the line, caused a shudder and we retired a short distance to the brow of a hill and maintained our position. Soon Hancocks division came up and attempted the charge, but with no better success. Brigade after Brig were ordered up once in about twenty minutes during the day and were almost annihilated. And at night our line of battle did not advance one inch from where we left it, at the brow of the hill. Our loss was great-- the enemy had complete control of the field and city, and could drop a shell or a discharge of grape and canister, just where they wished. Our loss has been estimated by some to be not less than twenty thousand, in killed wounded and missing. The 108th only took about 175 into the battle and lost about 50 in killed wounded and missing. True we remained in the city until Monday night, but by special grace, the only wonder is that they did not shell the town when the streets were thronged with our troops-- Our troops recrossed the river under the cover of night and feeling very much humiliated, as some of the older troops landed on this side of the river they halted and gave three rousing cheers--for Gen McClellan. There is a strong feeling among the soldiers in favor of McClellan and against the President, a few more such Reverses and our army will be completely demoralized--Our Reg is fast being used up, it now reports only about 250 men for duty--There have been three or four resignations this week amongst the line officers. A great dissatisfaction has been created by the system of promotions, that has been introduced into our reg--I am well and have been ever since I joined the army--And have been able to perform every duty to which I have been assigned-- Still I dont know what estimation is placed upon my services by Col Palmer. Qr Master Harris has been promoted to Brig Commissary. Have you heard from Gen Quinby since I came away from R--. Having heard the students speak of him so favorably --I think--I should like to be in his department very much--We are fortunate in having two as nice men as there are in the service, for Col and Lt Col The weather here has been very favorable for a Winters campaign but is rather cold for our cloth houses at present--During the engagement at Fredericksburg a piece of shell came carelessly by, fractured my pants, and gave me quite a scratch. And clothing is a hard article to procure here--Give my respects to Mrs Anderson Also to Drs Ward and Cutting--Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain Your Most Obt Servt
FRANKLIN B HUTCHINSON
Lt Co H 108 NYV
JOHN HALL DEANE, '66
[John Hall Deane entered the University from Brockport Collegiate Institute with advanced standing. In 1862, at the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the 140th New York State Volunteers and served for about one year. He later enlisted in the navy, serving aboard the U.S. Schooner Dan Smith which was engaged in the blockade off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. His letters home indicate that he continued his studies on shipboard. He was later awarded the A.B. degree as of the Class of 1866, and in 1870 was awarded an honorary A.M. degree. In 1879 he was elected to the Board of Trustees, continuing in that capacity until his death in 1923. As a young man he removed to New York City where he became a successful lawyer and real-estate operator. He was a generous friend of the University, contributing many thousands of dollars for its various endowments and scholarships. Chief of these is the fund establishing the Deane Professorship of Rhetoric and Poetry, now held by Professor Hyam Plutzik.
The University Library has recently acquired a small collection of the personal papers of Mr. Deane, including some eighteen letters which he wrote to his family and friends during the months he served in the navy. Two of them have been chosen for inclusion in this issue of the Bulletin.]
U.S. Gunboat Dan Smith
Altamaha Sound. Ga.
Jan. 7th 1864.
My dear Nellis,
I suppose you have been surprised at not receiving your usual letter from me but we have been kept very busy the last few weeks looking out for blockade runners so that I have had no time to indulge in the luxury of letter writing. I will try however in the future to make up for the deficiencies of the past. In the 3d week of December 1863 we, the Gunboat Huron and our own vessel captured a valuable steamer and cargoe worth between 150 & 175000 dollars. She was bound out for Nassau when we captured her loaded with 304 bales of cotton, rosin and tobacco. On the 2nd of this month another blockade runner, a schooner, tried to run in and we "nabbed" her by putting a 11 inch shell through her when her crew to save their own lives run her high and dry on the beach and there she lies a monument to good gunnery. Her cargoe consisted of ham, bacon, salt, whiskey, needles and dry goods of every description. Her cargoe will not be worth much for at high water the sea breaks right over her and thus spoils everything except the whiskey. I dont think she and her cargoe will amount to over 5000 dollars. I hope the next time we fire at a blockade runner the shell will strike a little higher up. The morning after she was sunk a boats crew from our vessel went aboard of her at low tide and we took just what we wanted for ourselves. There were raisins, oranges and nuts lying around the deck in plenty and we filled our boat with ham, fish and the like and each man crammed his pockets full of handkerchiefs, pens, combs and fancy goods of every description. I got one package of needles about 6 inches square and one of the rebel crew told me it would bring nearly 200 dollars at Charleston. I am going to send you a paper of them, just as a relic, you know, of blockade running, for your mother. This paper that I am now writing on came from her, also the envelope both of which were destined for a Savannah firm. It is too bad to see such a destruction of property but blockade runners must take the heavy penalty that is forced on them once-in-awhile. The night before last a large steamer, in fact a monster looking vessel, steamed out suddenly from behind Egg with the intent, no doubt, of trying to run in, it was just sunset but we cleared for action, beat to quarters and trained our guns on her but she "smelt the rat" too quick and started back again out on the open sea leaving a long trailing gown of black smoke behind her. Our Captain thinks she will try to run in some of these dark nights and then for the fun! If I were to stay in the navy till the war is ended I will have quite a little pile of prize money. Well, here, I have filled up nearly all my paper about blockade running!. . . . . .
Your Dear Friend
N.B. Enclosed you will find a short love letter that I found in our last prize. I send it to you for a relic.
Stono Inlet S.C.
Oct. 25. 1864.
My dear Boy,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I want to give you a short extract from my Journal of the events that transpired, (only a part) on Saturday the 22nd.
"Oct. 22nd. Schr. at anchor in Stono Inlet S.C.
Got up quite early this morning (7.A.M.) and after bathing sat down and studied Greek until breakfast. It was a very cool morning but I lit several candles in my stateroom & I was soon warm and comfortable. . . . Passed the day reading Milton and "A Tale of Two Cities." In the evening we gave a supper to 4 of the Merchant Captains in the harbor, in the Ward Room, and we congratulate ourselves that it was a grand success. After the table was cleared away the music was brought out and we had a regular old-fashioned dance. We cleared out all the furniture and then set Ensign Creig & Dr Swain on the table the former as floor manager and the latter presiding at the violin but unfortunately the vessel gave a sudden lurch as a heavy sea struck her and away went Swain, violin, oil-lamps and Creig into a heap on the floor... . Creig commenced to "call off" "Ladies Change" "First four right & left" and then blue uniforms swung around the Ward Room to the enlivening music at great speed, The handsomest looking fellows were picked out to represent girls and of course I wasn't a girl! Capt B. C. Dean of our vessel sat in one of the staterooms laughing as if he would split his jolly old sides at the sport. I had Capt. Robinson, a Jersey gentleman, for my lady, and he made about the best girl I ever saw. The fun was at its height when all of a sudden the floor gave away and head over heels we were all tumbled into the big shell lockers every one getting sundry bumps from the sudden contact with the hardshell. This stopped the dancing. . . . At 11.30 while sleeping soundly the drums beat "to quarters" and the rattle sounded for the "1st Boarders and Battle-Axe men to man the boats," and I was up, dressed and had my arms on in a jiffy and at my station in the Magazine (Note, John I have command of the Powder Division) There was an unusual stir up the river in the direction of Charleston and Capt Dean thought that the rams were coming down or that torpedo boats were cruising in the Inlet. At 12.15 all being quiet, piped down, secured the battery and after closing the magazine turned in again."
Such John is our life at this place, enjoyment one hour and the next standing at the post of honor ready to strike for the old flag. Some nights I have to go on picket in the 1st Cutter, in charge of 10 men. I go up to within ½ a mile of Battery Cringle, a Rebel work mounting 8 eleven inch guns and commanding the Southern approaches to Charleston, and here I lie all night watching the movements of the Rebel fleet above the Fort. They dont know yet as we have a picket boat there for we always pull up after dark. The only objection I have to go there is the enormous size of the mosquitoes--why John they are so big that you can almost shoot them with a 12 lb howitzer. Last Sunday night our batteries on Morris Island set fire to some large foundries and destroyed them and yesterday morning a large blockade runner was destroyed right opposite to Fort Moultrie by the same guns. When the heavy fighting commences here I will write for some Rochester Paper. We are expecting troops now from the North to begin the ball with and how I wish some of the old 5th Corps, with the 140th would be sent. That would be splendid.
Well, Nellis, I am thinking of home most all the time and oh, how I do wish to see my loved ones. It is now going on the 3d year since I left you but the same old love for the Union, for our rights & our Flag remains unchanged. Rather than see peace on the basis of the Chicago Platform I would fight in the ranks or in the Navy till my hair would become grey. Union and Liberty--Liberty to all in our land should now be the basis on which to found our National existence. This is what I fight for, what I shall continue to fight for and if it is God's will to take my life for my countrys sake I give it freely knowing that in serving country I am obeying God. I keep pretty straight, do nothing that I am ashamed to let my old chum know of. Now write soon and send me all the news. Give my regards to your worthy mother and remember me to the girls.
Your old friend
Paymaster's Steward U.S.N.
SAMUEL PORTER, '64
[Samuel Porter, son of Samuel D. Porter and Susan Farley of Rochester, entered the University as a freshman just before attaining the age of sixteen. Three years later, on August 9, 1862, he enlisted as second lieutenant, Company F, 108th Regiment of New York State Volunteers. He served throughout the remainder of the war, was promoted to the rank of captain, and brevetted a major in April, 1865. He was wounded in battle four times, and was subjected to such severe exposure that he suffered from failing health after his return to civilian life. After a prolonged illness, he died at the age of thirty-seven, in March, 1881.
In the large collection of papers of the Porter family which forms part of our historical manuscripts collection there are many letters written by Samuel Porter to his family during the war. From among these, we have chosen the following, written just as the war came to a close.]
Hd Qrs 2 d Division
April 10th 65
I have so much to write about that I can scarcely tell where to begin. From 12 M until 2 P M yesterday, we lay in the road doubtful as to whether the finishing touch to the rebellion had yet to be laid on, or whether Lee would surrender the troops still under his command without further bloodshed. When it was announced that the papers had been signed & that the army of Northern Virginia had surrendered, the troops became perfectly wild. Hats, haversacks, canteens, everything that the men could lay hands on were thrown into the air, and such a shout was raised as was never heard in this army before. We now lay quiet, with the captured army immediately in our front. Stragglers from both sides visit the lines of the others & the best of feeling prevails. The terms are not precisely known, & but little thought is wasted upon them, we all feeling perfect confidence in Grants good judgment. The work of the last fortnight has been very hard and men & animals have at times been nearly exhausted. Now however all feel fresh & strong. I was never better in my life. Have not had a bad feeling the whole campaign. My horses both stood me remarkably. My man refused $350 for my mare & says that he must get $600 before he sells her. Seward is all right. He has had some narrow escapes & has behaved as I always knew he would. Crombie went to Petersburg in charge of prisoners. Parsons is well. Poor Genl. Smyth was killed three days ago. I will write more particularly about the circumstances.
Genl. Barlow formerly of our First Division commands the Division. My occupation is nearly gone & now that I see no speedy chance of being killed I really feel like making an effort at reform & becoming a good active member of the Rochester community. I can think of no one in whom you are particularly interested who has been hurt. Col. Judd commissioner of exchange went down to the rebels last night and we hear that they are already exchanged. How true it is we cannot tell. I picked up a fine piece of horseflesh this noon. Whether I can hold on to it or not remains to be seen.
Love to all & believe me affect.
I send you a little scrip
- The register of the Porter Family Papers
- The register of the John Deane Hall Papers
- The register of the William Carey Morey Papers
- The UR Veterans page page of the Rochester's Hope online exhibit
- The University of Rochester and the Civil War: Three Heroes at Gettysburg, an essay by Bob Marcotte