Sunday, January 18, 2015

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 8.

This is the eigth entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps.


Camp on Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md.
Saturday, 20th September 1862.

My dear Father.

I wrote to you a pencil note yesterday just to tell you of my safety &c. We have had a really terrific battle. Our Division was formed in three lines, the first line Gorman's Brigade,⁠1 the second ours,⁠2 the third Burn's.⁠3 The principal musketry firing was done of course by the first line. We were under a heavy fire, however, and suffered from Artillery while advancing.⁠4 We drove the enemy before us with tremendous loss on both sides. The slaughter was horrible, especially close to the Hagerstown turnpike where the
Detail of photograph of the west side of Hagerstown Pike.
Alexander Gardner, September 20, 1862. Library of Congress.
enemy made a stand by the fences.
⁠5 We finally advanced down a slope, beyond which the enemy held a cornfield and farmhouse with barn and outbuildings, all on an opposite slope.⁠6 The enemy had Cannon planted on the top and constantly swept us down with grape and Shrapnell shell.⁠7 Our line was advanced close to the first, exposing us to an equal fire, while we could not fire at all because of our first line. ⁠8The third line was finally advanced close to the second; all this time we stood up and were shot down without being able to reply. Sedgwick⁠9 and Dana⁠10 were shot, and we had no one to command the Division.⁠11 The enemy in the meantime came round on our left and rear, and poured in a terrible crossfire. Sumner⁠12 came up in time to save the Division and ordered us to march off by the right flank. We did so, but the left Regiments gave way in confusion, the enemy poured in upon our rear, and now the
Edwin Vose Sumner  (1797-1863)
Library of Congress.
slaughter was worse than anything I have ever seen before. Sumner walked his horse quietly along waving his hand and keeping all steady near him. Although the Regiments in rear of us were rushing by us and through our ranks in the greatest confusion, we kept our Company perfectly steady, did not take a single step faster than the regular marching order, and brought off every man except those killed and wounded, who of course were left.
 Rickett's regular Battery⁠14 and some Regiments drawn up at angles to us stayed the enemy, and the broken Regiments reformed in the rear. Our Brigade suffered awfully, the 7th Michigan has only four Officers left.⁠15 The 42nd and 59th New York Regiments broke and gave way most disgracefully⁠16, our Regiment fell into perfect order as soon as we halted, and was immediately advanced to the front, and our Company and Company I sent out on picket. We staid on picket till yesterday morning when, we were advanced as skirmishers and found the enemy had evacuated. We had heard them moving all night and had given constant information of it, and were sure they were retreating.⁠17 Now we are camped on a part of the battlefield. I hear that McClellan is pursuing the enemy ⁠18and that Sumner's Corps is left behind here. We are all quiet and are burying the dead &c.


Dr. Edward Hutchinson Robbins Revere
A Pioneer of our Regiment, by name Bean,⁠19 wishes me to send word of his safety and good health to a Miss Hill who is at the same water cure that Louisa is at.⁠20 Will you please ask Louisa to do so?

Of our Regiment Dr. Revere was shot dead on the field while dressing a wounded man's leg.⁠21 His body was immediately rifled of everything of the least value. Col. Palfrey badly wounded in the shoulder, taken prisoner and released, or rather left behind.⁠22 Capt. Holmes shot through the neck,⁠23 and Capt. Hallowell in the arm;⁠24 Milton slightly in three places;⁠25 Lt. Col. Revere in the arm.⁠26 The losses of other Regiments of the Division are enormous.⁠27 

Shall try to write again soon.

Love to Mother.

Your affectionate son

Henry.



Source Note

The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. The original transcription can be found at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library.

Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the center piece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.



Notes


1 Willis Gorman (1816-1876), led the first line of Sedgwick’s Division. The 1st Minnesota anchored the right, and moving to the left, the 82nd New York, 15th Massachusetts. The 34th New York had followed the Smoketown Road during the advance and were situated further south at the Dunker Church. For more on the advance of Sedgwick’s Division, see, Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), pp. 202-215.
2 Brig. Gen. Napoleon Dana (1822-1905), West Point (1842), situated part of the second line close behind Gorman’s Brigade. The 19th Massachusetts, 20th Massachusetts, and the 59th New York were brought up behind  Dana’s Brigade. At the same time, and on the left of the line, Dana attempted to get the 42nd New York and the 7th Michigan to change front in order to meet the advance of the brigades of Jubal Early, William Barksdale, and G.T. Anderson moving in from the south part of the West Woods.
3 Col. William Wallace Burns (1825-1892), West Point (1847), led the Philadelphia Brigade until a wound received at Savage Station on June 29 forced him to take sick leave from July 10 to October 8. Brigadier Gen. Oliver O. Howard (1830-1909), West Point (1854), commanded the brigade at Antietam and formed the 71st Pennsylvania on the right, then the 106th and 69th Pennsylvania, and the 72nd on the left. While the 71st, 69th, and 106th maintained a fairly contiguous front, the 72nd Pennsylvania had drifted further south and were to the left of the 7th Michigan from Dana’s brigade. The 72nd’s  left came in a few yards north of the Dunker Church and closer to the 34th New York of Gorman’s Brigade. See Cullum’s Register for biographies of Burns and Howard. For more on the Philadelphia Brigade in the West Woods see Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), pp. 202-215.
4 Brigade and divisional reports from diaries and letters mention taking artillery fire while advancing across open fields from the East to the West Woods. Some recent research suggests that Hardaway’s, Carter’s and Boyce’s batteries operating at that time in the vicinity of the Sunken Road may have been responsible.
5 Ropes is referring to the post and rail fences along either side of the Hagerstown Pike. See illustration 1. 
6 This was the Alfred Poffenberger farmstead.
7 While in the West Woods, Confederate artillery situated on Hauser’s Ridge 600 yards from the regiment’s front threw grape and case shot at the division.
8 The 59th New York volleyed into the rear of the 15th Massachusetts. Carman wrote about this incident: “By this fire many of the Massachusetts men were killed and wounded, and the most strenuous exertions were of no avail either in stopping this murderous fire, or in causing the second line to advance to the front.” The 15th Massachusetts entered the West Woods 606 in the ranks; their losses there tallied 65 killed and 255 wounded, or, 52.8%.  Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), p. 615.
9 Major General John Sedgwick (1813-1864), West Point (1837), commanded the Second Division of the II Corps (Sumner). Shot in the wrist, leg, and shoulder in the West Woods on September 17, he survived, but lost his life at Spotsylvania Court House on May 9, 1864. See further, biographical entry in Cullum’s Register.
10 Dana was seriously wounded in the leg. See further, biographical entry in Cullum’s Register.
11 Howard took command of the division vice the wounded John Sedgwick. Cullum’s Register.
12 Edwin Vose Sumner (1797-1863) commanded II Corps, Army of the Potomac.

14 The Noon to 12:15 Cope/Carman map shows Howard’s and Dana’s brigades 40 yards due east of the Joseph Poffenberger farmstead. Rickett’s two batteries, Thompson and Matthews were to their right and left respectively. Gorman’s brigade is deployed on the Poffenberger farmstead with Dunbar Ransom’s artillery to their left rear. Map of the Battlefield of Antietam Prepared Under the Direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, … Surveyed by Lieut. Col. E.B. Cope…Position of Troops by E.A. Carman, (Washington, D.C., 1904).
15 Of the 402 men of the 7th Michigan in the West Woods, 39 were killed, 178 wounded, and 3 went missing. Twenty of the twenty-three regimental officers were either killed or wounded. For an excellent account of the 7th Michigan in the West Woods, see Tom Nank’s blog entry titled “The Seventh Michigan Infantry at Antietam” posted at Antietam Journal. See also a list of 7th Michigan casualties at Brian Downey’s encyclopedic website Antietam on the Web.
16 The 42nd New York lost 181 officers and men or 52% casualties. The 59th New York suffered nearly 53% casualties in the West Woods. Carman, pp. 204-206; 615.
17 The Army of Northern Virginia left the field for Virginia during the night of September 18.
18 This is a reference to the Battle of Shepherdstown fought on September 20, 1862.
19 This was either Private Ansel Bean or Private Albert C. Bean. Both served in Company I, 20th Massachusetts. NARA, RG 94, Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Civil War, compiled 1899 - 1927, documenting the period 1861 - 1866, Roll 0003; George A. Bruce, The Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1906), p. 500.
20 This is probably a water cure spa at Lenox, Massachusetts mentioned in Ropes’ correspondence to his brother on September 3, 1862 (see post here).
21 Dr. Edward Hutchinson Robbins Revere, was the older brother of Major Paul Revere. A graduate of Harvard Medical School (1849), maintained a practice in Greenfield, Massachusetts at the outbreak of the war. He was "performing field surgery when he suddenly found himself in front. He remained and calmly finished the operation before he was shot and killed." Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts (Lebanon, N.H., University Press of New England, 2005), pp. 25-26, 177.
22 Col. Francis Winthrop Palfrey (1831-1889), Harvard College, 1851, Harvard Law School, 1853, was hit with grapeshot in his shoulder in the West Woods.
23 Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). For more on Holmes in the West Woods, see blog posts here of July 21, August 13, August 29, and October 29, and November 11, 2010.
24 Capt. Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914), Harvard College, 1861 was severely wounded in the arm.
25 Lt. William F. Milton, Harvard (1858). Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts (Lebanon, N.H., University Press of New England, 2005), p. 54.
26 Lt. Col. Paul Joseph Revere, grandson of Paul Revere and Harvard graduate (1862). He will be killed at Gettysburg.

27 Sedgwick went into the West Woods with 5,437 infantry. Of these 369 were killed and 1,572 wounded producing an aggregate of 1,941 or 35% casualties. Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), p. 351

Sunday, January 11, 2015

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 7

This is the seventh entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps.

Camp on Battlefield near Sharpsburg
Md. September 20, 1862.

My dear John.

I have written to Father giving an account of the late battle. I have received 2 letters from you of the 12th one from Mother of the 8th and one from Mary Ann, and one from Father of the 9th inst. Which I have not yet acknowledged.

Yesterday I went over the field, and it was really a most awful sight. The dead were really piled up and lay in rows. The slaughter was more awful than anything I ever read of, for it is not a small field on which the dead lay thickly scattered as if there was a separate fight at that one place, but a vast extent of country several times as large as the Commons⁠[1] where there is no place which you can stand and not see the field black with dead bodies as far [as] the eye can reach. Then the wounded gathered into barns &c. are an awful sight. The Rebels let them lay for 2 days without care, and would not allow our men to either take them off, or dress their wounds, as they lay, although their own men robbed them of everything and often stripped their clothes from their bodies. No description I ever
Location of the 20th Massachusetts in the West Woods.
Detail from Cope/Carman Map, 1904. Library of Congress.
read begins to give one an idea of the slaughter and the horrible sights of this battle-field. We drove them for about 1/2 miles, and they then repulsed us from the ravine into which we were too hastily advanced.⁠
[2] The Artillery was by far the heaviest we have ever yet heard.

The 20th has lost about 150 about of about 400, and it never acted better or better supported its reputation for perfect steadiness. The advance of our Division was a splendid sight. I had 2 very narrow escapes. The spent ball made a hole in my coat and only scraped up the shirt a little and made me lame for a day. The Cannon ball I saw distinctly. It first hit the branch of a tree, glanced, passed between my legs slightly burning my knee and leaving a black mark on my pants. It struck the ground behind me and again glanced up and smashed the shoulder of Corporal Campion⁠[3] of my Company. A great many of our men were killed by the grape shot they piled into us from the top of the hill⁠[4] about as far off as from our house to Charles St.⁠[5] 

Well, it is over, and we may not see another such battle for many months.

Much obliged to you for your attention to my things. Your recruit has not yet come. James is doing better of late and [seems] capable of improvement. I should not take an enlisted man for a servant. Col. Lee⁠[6] is well and in command of the Brigade, Genl. Howard⁠[7] of the Division; Capt. Dreher⁠[8] of the Regiment. Herbert⁠[9] is all right and unhurt. So are all other friends except those I mentioned as wounded. We have beaten the enemy badly and they acknowledge it. I should not wonder if the war was now brought to a speedy end.

I have heard that our left was unprotected in consequence of Genl. French taking a wrong road. He should have been there.

I have received the pistol &c. And have determined to keep John Bradlee⁠[10] and send home the heavy one. Have not seen Lieut. Morse⁠[11] of the 2d. They were out near us for 2 days. Saw Caspar⁠[12] and Forbes⁠[13] of the Cavalry the other day. Murphy⁠[14] and Abbot⁠[15] were left sick at Frederick and were not in the battle.

Your affectionate brother,

Henry


Source NoteThe source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. The original transcription can be found at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library.

Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the center piece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.


Notes

1 The Boston Commons.

2 The location of the 20th Massachusetts in the West Woods placed them in a broad depression between two limestone ridges. See, illustration.

3 This was Irish-born Corporal Edward J. Campion. He and his brother, Sgt. Patrick J. Campion, served in Company K, 20th Massachusetts. The medical history of Corporal Campion follows: “Campion, Edward J., Corporal, Co. K, 20th Massachusetts, aged 31 years. Antietam, September 17th 1862. Shell fracture of right temporal bone. Baltimore hospitals. Removal of spicular of bone. Discharged March 10, 1863. Examiner David Choate, M.D., reports, November 27th, 1863, that the patient is subject to vertigo, palpitation, and morbid wakefulness. He was admitted to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Togus, Maine on September 20, 1887 where he lived until his death on December 26, 1910. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870), p. 238; 62d Congress, 2d Session (December 4, 1911-August 26, 1912) House Documents, Vol. 121 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1912), p. 287; National Archives, Record Group 94, (M544, Roll 0006). Alphabetical card index to the compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers belonging to units from the State of Massachusetts.

4 This would be Hauser’s Ridge.

5 The 9:00 to 9:30 location of the 20th Massachusetts is marked on the Antietam Battlefield Board Atlas a little less than 600 yards from Brockenbrough’s and D’Aquin batteries located on Hauser Ridge. The distance from the family residence on 92 Beacon Street and Charles Street is 500 feet. Cope/Carman Map 1904; Boston Directory… for the Year Commencing, July 1, 1862 (Boston: Adams, Sampson, & Co., 1862); Mitchell’s New General Atlas, Plan of Boston (Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, 1866).

6 Colonel William Raymond Lee (1807-1891), attended West Point but dropped out in 1829. John C. Ropes, “William Raymond Lee,” Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 28 (May, 1892-May, 1893), pp. 346-348.

7 General Oliver O. Howard (1830-1909), took command of the division vice the wounded John Sedgwick. Cullum’s Register.

8 Captain Ferdinand Dreher (1822-1863) commissioned as Major on September 5, 1862 will be wounded at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862 and die in Boston on April 30, 1863. Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with reports from the Quartermaster-General, Surgeon-General, and Master of Ordnance for the Year Ending December 31, 1862 (Boston: Wright & Potter, 1863), pp. 676-77; NARA, RG 15, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Veterans of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War With Spain, compiled 1861 - 1934, Application Number WC8673.

9 Lt. Herbert Cowpland Mason (1840-1884), Harvard College, 1862, will be severely wounded in the West Woods.

10 Unknown reference.

11 Lt. Charles Fessenden Morse (1839-1926), Harvard (1858) served as Captain of Company B, 2nd Massachusetts.

12 Caspar Crowinshield (1837-1897), Harvard (1860), originally with the 20th Massachusetts, was a captain in the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry. The regiment, deployed across the Middle Bridge and finding some refuge in the hollows and banks adjacent to Antietam Creek as the “air was full of shot and shell.” Ezra A. Carman, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Vol. II: Antietam. Thomas G. Clemens, ed. (California: Savas Beatie, 2012), p. 363.

13 William Hathaway Forbes (1840-1897), Harvard (1861), served in the First Regiment of Massachusetts Cavalry. Obituary, The Harvard Crimson, October 31, 1897.

14 Lt. James Murphy would resign his commission on August 28, 1863 due to wounds received at Chancellorsville. He will serve as one of Henry Ropes’ pallbearers.

15 Lt. Henry Livermore Abbott (1842-1864), Harvard College, 1860 will be killed at the Battle of the Wilderness.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 6

This is the sixth entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps. 

Field near Sharpsburg, Va.⁠ [1]

Friday, September 19th 1862.
My dear Father.

We have had a tremendous battle and again I have been mercifully preserved from all harm. It began at 6 a.m. On Wednesday, day before yesterday, and we have been on picket ever since the fight⁠.[2] Last night the enemy left and have probably crossed the river. We are drawn back, our forces in pursuit. Col: Palfrey⁠ [3] is wounded in shoulder, and I believe missing; Capt. Holmes⁠ [4] in neck; Capt. Hallowell⁠ [5] in arm; Lt. Milton⁠ [6] slightly in three places; Lt. Col: Revere⁠ [7] in arm; Col: Lee⁠ [8] safe and well; Genl. Richardson⁠ [9] mortally; Genl. Sedgwick⁠ [10] badly; Genl. Dana⁠ [11] in leg; Col: Hinks⁠ [12] killed. Our Division suffered awfully. I was bruised slightly twice, once by a spent ball in the shoulder, and once by a cannon shot which passed between my legs, just grazing my Knee. Herbert⁠ [13] and all the rest safe. Abbott⁠ [14] and Macy⁠ [15] not there.

Most affectionate son

Henry

P.S. Have just heard that Dr. Revere⁠ [16] is killed, may not be true.

Source Note
The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. The original transcription can be found at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library.

Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the center piece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.

Notes

1 Maryland. This is probably an error in transcription.
2 Cope Carman Map location of the 20th Massachusetts.
3 Col. Francis Winthrop Palfrey (1831-1889), Harvard College, 1851, Harvard Law School, 1853. He would be hit with grapeshot in his shoulder in the West Woods on September 17.
4 Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935). For more on Holmes in the West Woods, see posts on this blog entered on July 21, August 13, August 29, and October 29, November 11, 2010.
5 Capt. Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914), Harvard College, 1861 was severely wounded in the arm in the West Woods
6 Lt. William F. Milton, Harvard (1858). Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts (Lebanon, N.H., University Press of New England, 2005), p. 54.
7 Lt. Col. Paul Joseph Revere, grandson of Paul Revere and Harvard graduate (1862). He will be killed at Gettysburg.
8 Colonel William Raymond Lee (1807-1891), attended West Point but dropped out in 1829. John C. Ropes, “William Raymond Lee,” Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 28 (May, 1892-May, 1893), pp. 346-348.
9 Maj. Gen. Israel Richardson (1815-1862), West Point (1841), commanded the First Division, II Corps. He would die of his wound at Pry House on November 3. See further, biographical entry in Cullum’s Register.
10 Major General John Sedgwick (1813-1864), West Point (1837), commanded the Second Division of the II Corps (Sumner). Shot in the wrist, leg, and shoulder in the West Woods on September 17, he survived, but lost his life at Spotsylvania Court House on May 9, 1864. See further, biographical entry in Cullum’s Register.
11 Brig. Gen. Napoleon J.T. Dana (1822-1905), West Point (1842), commanded the Third Brigade of John Sedgwick’s Second Division, II Corps. He was seriously wounded in the leg. See further, biographical entry in Cullum’s Register.
12 Colonel Edward Winslow Hinks (Hincks) (1830-1894) commanded the 19th Massachusetts, Third Brigade (Dana’s), Second Division (Sedgwick), II Corps. He was seriously wounded, but not killed, in the West Woods.
13 Lt. Herbert Cowpland Mason (1840-1884), Harvard College, 1862, was severely wounded in the West Woods.
14 Lt. Henry Livermore Abbott (1842-1864), Harvard (1860).
15 Lt. George Nelson Macy (1837-1875) from one of Nantucket’s oldest families would rise to General by war’s end.
16 Dr. Edward Hutchinson Robbins Revere, was the older brother of Major Paul Revere. A graduate of Harvard Medical School (1849), maintained a practice in Greenfield, Massachusetts at the outbreak of the war. He was "performing field surgery when he suddenly found himself in front. He remained and calmly finished the operation before he was shot and killed." Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts (Lebanon, N.H., University Press of New England, 2005), pp. 25-26, 177.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 5

This is the fifth entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps. 

Camp 20th Regiment near 
Middletown, Md.  Monday September 15th 1862
6 A.M.

My dear Father.

We came here late last night, having marched very far to the North during the day. We marched from Rockville to Frederick City via Clarksburg and Middlebrook⁠1, and camped day before yesterday close to Frederick. The people show every sign of joy at our arrival. There was a severe battle⁠2 here yesterday before we came up, about which I have not yet heard much, but we drove the Rebels at last. All quiet as yet this morning, so I suppose they have retreated in the night. I hear the 35th Mass.⁠3 was
Major General Jesse Reno (1823-1862)
Tenleytown Historical Society, Washington, D.C.
engaged. Genl. Reno
⁠4 is killed_ his body was carried by us. The houses were filled with wounded when we passed up. We are about 2 miles from the position the Rebels occupied last night. My foot is well. All the Regiment safe and well, except Lieutenants Abbott⁠5, Murphy⁠6 and Beckwith⁠7 who are ill and left at Frederick. I do not think Abbott is much ill, but it would have hurt him to march and we persuaded him to stay behind for a day or two. 


Received letter from mother of the 8th. No other letters. Please do not send on the pistol if there is no fixed Ammunition to fill it. Love to Mother and all. Shall try to write soon. Our force here is very large and we are in reserve and in all probability shall not be engaged in case another battle takes place in a few days.

In great haste

Your affectionate Son
Henry.

Source.

The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. The original transcription can be found at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library. 

Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the center piece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. 

For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.

Notes.
1 Middlebrook Post Office was located along the Frederick Road just west of Great Seneca Creek. 
2 The Battle of South Mountain, September 14, 1862.
3 The 35th Massachusetts was organized at Worcester, Massachusetts on August 1, 1862. They joined the 2nd Brigade (Ferrero), 2nd Division (Sturgis), of the IX Corps for the advance into Maryland. They participated at the Battle of South Mountain on September 14th. Ropes’ interest in the regiment probably is his family relationship with Major Sidney Willard (1831-1863) who served as a Major in the 35th Massachusetts. See previous post, December 29, 2014. Bartol, A Nation’s Hour: A Tribute to Major Sidney Willard (Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company, 1862), pp. 14, 30-31; The Civil War in the East website; Union Order of Battle, Official Records.
4 Major General Jesse Reno (1823-1862), a Virginian by birth, headed the Union IX Corps. He was mortally wounded at Fox Gap, South Mountain while directing troop positions toward the end of the battle. See further, John Hoptak, The Battle of South Mountain, (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011), pp. 82-85.
5 Lt. Henry Livermore Abbott (1842-1864), Harvard College, (1860), will be killed at the Battle of the Wilderness.
6 Lt. James Murphy will resign his commission on August 28, 1863 due to wounds received at Chancellorsville, Murphy will serve as one of Henry Ropes’ pallbearers.
7 Sgt. Robert Beckwith (1840-1862) a Scottish-born ironworker will be commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant following Antietam. He will be killed on the assault on Mayre’s Heights, Fredericksburg on December 13th.  Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005), pp. 183, 212.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 4

This is the fourth entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps. 

Camp Defiance⁠1 near Rockville
Md. Monday September 8th 1862.

My dear Father.

We marched from Tenallytown⁠2 on Saturday last and drew up here in line of battle in support of batteries and sent out pickets. We had heard of the invasion of the Rebels, and we quite expected a battle, as their pickets occupied Darnestown⁠3 a few miles before us. However, they have not molested us, and now we have an immense force here. Banks⁠4 is on our left, and the 2d. Mass.⁠5 is close to us in the 2d line. I was really very much astonished to hear that the Rebels had crossed, but I think it will be their ruin, that is if they are here in force. I do not think they will attack us here, for we are in a very strong position, and they seem to me making to the North. Perhaps after all they will retire after supplying themselves with what food and clothing they can get.
Mr. John Gray⁠6 has just been here and is getting a good idea of military matters. We are in a most beautiful and healthy Camp, and as Genl. Sumner⁠7 has to_day given it a name “Defiance” and as our baggage had just come up, I think we may be some time here. My feet is much better. I enclose 2 bills of $2. Each of N.E. Banks.⁠8 I understand both are good but they will not often take N.E. bills here. If they are good, will you please send me back the $4 in U.S. $1, or better still, postage stamps and small change?
Bank note issued by the White Mountain Bank,
New Hampshire, 1862. See further, note 8 below.
I received yesterday yours of the 4th and Mother’s of August 28th enclosing a letter from Frank at Berlin⁠9 and Lizzy at Lewisham.⁠10 Please thank all and say I hope to answer soon. I am delighted you gave such a handsome present to Mr. Willard.⁠11 I know he will value it exceedingly. All friends here well. The Colonel ⁠12 as brisk and active as ever. He already looks much better than when he came, for he is sunburnt and ruddy. Very much obliged to you for attending to my little matters, and for sending to their owners the contents of the trunk.
Letter for Mary Ann⁠13 enclosed.

Your affectionate Son

Henry.

Source Note.
The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence that constitutes this and the following items in this series is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the centerpiece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three hand-written transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.


Notes.

1 Camp Defiance was two miles north of Rockville, Maryland. Henry P. Goddard, The Good Fight that Didn’t End: Henry P. Goddard’s Accounts of Civil War and Peace Calvin Goddard Zon, ed. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008), p. 51.
2 Tennallytown, District of Columbia.
3 Darnestown, Maryland.
4 Bank’s Corps, II Corps of the Army of Virginia. Banks would be relieved from command on September 7 and five days later General Order 129 would change its designation to the XII Corps, Army of the Potomac, under command of Major General Joseph F. Mansfield.
5 Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Third Brigade, XII Corps.
6 This was probably John Chipman Gray (1839-1915). A graduate of Harvard Law School and friend of the Ropes family, he  would enlist in the 41st Massachusetts on October 7, 1862. After the war, Gray would form with John C. Ropes the law firm of Ropes & Gray. Roland Gray, John Chipman Gray (Boston: privately printed, 1907),  p. 8.
7 Edward Vose Sumner, headed II Corps, Army of the Potomac.
8 During this time, private banks issued bank notes in various denominations. The image here is of a two dollar note issued by the White Mountain Bank in New Hampshire. Image from auction.archivesinternational.com.
9 This is probably Frank Ropes (b. 1838), Henry’s brother, from Berlin, Germany.
10 This is probably Elizabeth Ropes (b. 1825), Henry’s sister, at Lewisham, London, England.
11 This is probably Major Sidney Willard (1831-1863) a Harvard graduate (1852) and Boston lawyer who served as a Major in the 35th Massachusetts, IX Corps. The “handsome present” may have been “a military sash and a handsome silver platter” presented to him by the Washington Home Guard, Cambridge on his departure “for the seat of war on Friday, August 22.” On September 3 he would be appointed to Major of the regiment. He would be killed at Fredericksburg on December 13. C.A. Bartol, A Nation’s Hour: A Tribute to Major Sidney Willard (Boston: Walker, Wise, and Company, 1862), pp. 14, 30-31.
12 Colonel William Raymond Lee (1807-1891) commanded the 20th Massachusetts.

13 This is probably Ropes’ sister Mary Ann Ropes (b 1842). 1850 U.S. Census Record for Massachusetts.

Friday, December 26, 2014

To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 3

This is the third entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps. 


Camp 20th Regiment
Tennallytown near Washington, D.C.

September 5th 1862.

My dear Father.

Battery Martin Scott in the District
of Columbia overlooking Chain Bridge.
Harper's Weekly, August 24, 1861.
I wrote to you last from Alexandria, day before yesterday, telling you of our heavy marches to and [1] I was unable to march yesterday and came in an ambulance with Col. Hinks⁠ [2] of the 19th Regiment, a very pleasant man. He told me that we marched 30 miles on Sunday, from 2 A.M. till 12 P.M., and that taking the 3 days together we marched 65 miles in 64 consecutive hours. This march quite used up my foot, and I found yesterday that I was quite unable to march, but to-day it is much better and I have no doubt a few day’s rest will quite restore it.
from Fairfax Court House. Yesterday the Brigade (under Col. Lee) marched to this place crossing at Chain Bridge. Our Corps, and Banks’ is here, and I understand Banks is to-day to move up the river to Poolesville.

We are now on very high land and shall probably be very comfortable.[3] I have written to Poolesville ⁠2and ordered my two boxes there to be sent home to you by Adams’ Express. I enclose the keys. They are filled with Camp equipage which, I could not carry with me from Poolesville. Please open the boxes and make any use of the contents. Some of the things I may need and if so will send for them.

[Notation in pencil: “For close see close of letter 26 September /62_” The “close” from September 26th is amended below. Someone has added a notation in pencil to this amendment that “This is probably the close of a letter dated Sept. 5, 1862 “].

From all I hear, McDowell [4] made a bad job of his retreat and our loss was heavy, and a great deal of valuable Stores and many wagons fell into the enemy’s hands. I can see no excuse for this. A good firm rear guard can stop almost any pursuit. We have now twice covered a retreat, and both times with success.

Jackson seems to strike terror everywhere. I hope Sumner [5] will meet him some day and turn the tables. We expect to be here several weeks. I am perfectly well as usual. Herbert [6] is quite strong and well, and stood the hard marching perfectly. I have written to John [7] to get me a number of things, and I have no doubt it will take up much of his time to see to them, be he is very kind in attending to everything, and I think I have now found out exactly what I need.

Best love to Mother and all. I shall write soon and answer all letters when I can get a tent up.

Ever your affectionate Son

Henry.


Sources
The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence that constitutes this and the following items in this series is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the centerpiece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three hand-written transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.


Notes

[1] Poolesville, Montgomery County, Maryland.

[2] Colonel Edward Winslow Hinks (Hincks) (1830-1894) commanded the 19th Massachusetts. He would be seriously wounded in the West Woods.

[3] Tennallytown, District of Columbia, at 500 feet elevation, is on one of the highest points of the District.

[4] Gen. Irwin McDowell led the III Corps of the Army of Virginia under John Pope.

[5] Edwin Vose Sumner commanded the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

[6] Lt. Herbert Cowpland Mason (1840-1884), Harvard College, 1862, would be severely wounded in the West Woods.

[7] John C. Ropes, his brother.


To the West Woods: The Correspondence of Henry Ropes, 20th Massachusetts, Entry 2

This is the second entry in the correspondence of Lieutenant Henry Ropes to his family between September 3 and October 5, 1862. Ropes was a Second Lieutenant in Company K of the 20th Massachusetts, Dana’s Brigade, Sedgwick’s Division, II Corps.

Camp 20th Regiment, Mass.
Near Alexandria, Va. September 3rd 1862.

My dear Father.

After 4 days of tiresome marching and picket duty, we are brought to the same place which we left on Saturday last. I wrote you from Chain Bridge that we were to occupy some forts permanently.[1] Then orders were changed and we crossed the Chain Bridge and went to some hills N.W. of Washington. Here we heard all day Saturday the heavy Canonading, and we knew a great battle was going on.
Map showing detail of Washington defenses.
The regiment moved across Chain Bridge to Tennallytown
and Ft. Pennsylvania (later renamed Fort Reno).

We marched again at 3 a.m. On Sunday; passed through Georgetown, crossed the river and marched through a heavy rain to Fairfax Court House, Va. Where we arrived at 12 m. after a march of 22 hours. We had several long halts however, and the march was well conducted and not very trying.

As we expected fully to go to the front and be engaged with the enemy very soon, I kept with the Regiment although my foot was very lame. 

We lay down for a few hours at Fairfax my Company[2] and Co. I being advanced and pickets thrown out, for a body of Rebel Cavalry &c. had appeared in rear of our main Army. Monday morning we advanced about 5 miles and occupied a road and rested all day. Our pickets were thrown out, and met a few of the enemy, and we had one man of Company C wounded. 

We found a large body of Cavalry had got in between us and the main body of the Army at Centreville. In the afternoon Hooker advanced, and attacked them, and we formed part of the 2d line, behind a hastily built breast work. I hear he drove them off. A rain storm made the night very uncomfortable, but Tuesday was a very fine day, and very cool.

Our Army now fell back, leaving us as the extreme Infantry advance. Casey[3] & Slocum[4] formed line of battle behind us and the Cavalry were a little in front of us. At about 5 P.M. We fell back, and afterwards halted and let all the other troops go by, and our Brigade covered the retreat. We were still detached from our Division and were now under Hooker. The enemy pressed us, but a section of horse Artillery was ordered to the rear and kept them back. I at first rode with the Regiment on the Adjutant’s horse, but before long got a chance to ride on a Caisson of a Regiment of Artillery in Bank’s Corps,[5] and thus reached Alexandria soon after midnight. The Artillery went much farther than the Regiment without my knowledge, and I could not find the Regiment in the darkness and therefor got in at a house and slept till this morning when I found the Regiment. I am now with it here. I rode because my foot was very lame after my long march. 

This morning I have seen Col. Lee and Major Revere,[6] and they both look very well, and we are delighted to see them again here. We shall no doubt have a season of rest here. The Army needs a month to recruit and refit, and then I hope we shall make our last advance. 

I am in perfect health, and have, no doubt a few days rest will restore my foot. 

I have received from Col. Lee’s servant the shoulder straps, pail &c. And thus I see you must have got my trunk and keys. I hope to write again very soon. Excuse this letter written under great difficulties.

All well in the Regiment.

Your affectionate Son

Henry.


Source.

The source for Henry Ropes’ correspondence is the three volume transcription of Ropes outbound correspondence to his father, mother, and his brother, John C. Ropes. The original transcription can be found at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library. 

Henry Ropes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3 and from that point on, John C. Ropes undertook a life-long pursuit to memorialize his brother’s life and the regiment’s history. The transcription volumes are the center piece of John C. Ropes work and his legacy. Each of the three transcribed volumes are organized chronologically: Volume 1 is Henry Ropes’ correspondence to his father and mother, and Volume 2 and 3 to his brother, John C. Ropes. 

For more on the Ropes correspondence, see Richard F. Miller’s excellent essay on historical bibliography at pages 495-499 in his superlative study on the 20th Massachusetts in Richard F. Miller, Harvard’s Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2005). Any errors in transcribing and annotating the selected correspondence are mine.

Notes

[1] Probably Fort Ethan Allen or Fort Marcy (see map above), that guarded the western approach to the Chain Bridge. 
[2] Company K.
[3] So far, I am unsure what this reference is to. Brigadier General Silas Casey’s Division had been detached from the Army of the Potomac after Seven Pines and sent to operations at Suffolk,Virginia and later the coast of North Carolina.
[4] Major General Henry W. Slocum, commanded the 1st Division of the VI Corps. See further, David A. Welker's Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2002).
[5] Bank’s Corps was the II Corps of the Army of Virginia. Banks would be relieved from command on September 7 and five days later General Order 129 would change its designation to the XII Corps, Army of the Potomac, under command of Major General Joseph F. Mansfield. 
[6] Colonel William Raymond Lee (1807-1891), attended West Point but dropped out in 1829Major Paul Joseph Revere, grandson of Paul Revere and Harvard graduate (1862).