The Eighteenth Regiment

 


            The Eighteenth Regiment gathered at Camp Brigham in Dedham, but left the state before its organization was complete.  Five companies reached the rendezvous early in July, 1861, by direction of the governor, and up to the 20th August  three others had followed.  Most of the line officers were mustered on that day, and the enlisted men in camp were sworn in four days later.  Orders to report with the command at Washington were then received, and the journey began on the 26th.  About a month later Company A joined the regiment, but Company C did not report for duty till the last of November, being sworn into the United States service January 14, 1862.  The completed roster of officers was as follows:

 

Colonel, James Barnes of Springfield

Lieutenant colonel, Timothy Ingraham of New Bedford

Major, Joseph Hayes of Boston

Surgeon, David P. Smith of Springfield

Assistant surgeon, Orlando Brown of Wrentham

Chaplain, Benjamin F. DeCosta of Charlestown

Adjutant, George F. Hodges of Roxbury

Quartermaster, Sanford Almy of New Bedford

Sergeant major, Edward M. Onion of Dedham

Quartermaster sergeant,  John D. Isbell of Springfield

Commissary sergeant, William M. Ingraham of New Bedford

Hospital steward, Virtulan R. Stone of Dana

Principal musician, Cyrus C. Vaughn of New Bedford

Leader of the band, Albert R. Davis of Somerset

 

Company A – Captain, Lewis N. Tucker of Milton

First Lieutenant, Joseph C. Ayer of Newtonville

Second Lieutenant, James D. Orne of Springfield

 

Company B – Captain, George Charles Ruby of Taunton

First Lieutenant, Cyrus M. Wheaton of Somerset

Second Lieutenant, Warren Dutton Russell of Brighton

 

Company C – Captain, William S. McFarlin of Carver

First Lieutenant, George M. Barnard, Jr. of Boston

Second Lieutenant, William Vincent Smith of Boston

 

Company D – Captain, Stephen Thomas of Middleboro

First Lieutenant, Woodbridge R. Howes of Mattapoisett

Second Lieutenant, Charles F. Edson of Middleboro

 

Company E – Captain, Thomas Weston of Middleboro

First Lieutenant, William Henry Winsor of Plymouth

Second Lieutenant, John E. Bird of Boston

 

Company F – Captain, Henry Onion of Dedham

First Lieutenant, Charles W. Carroll of Dedham

Second Lieutenant, Fisher A. Baker of Dedham

 

Company G – Captain, William B. White of East Abington

First Lieutenant, James N. Sparrell of South Scituate

Second Lieutenant, William G. Hewins of Dorchester

 

Company H – Captain, Joseph W. Collingwood of Plymouth

First Lieutenant, Charles Henry Drew of Plymouth

Second Lieutenant, Horatio Nelson Dallas of Boston

 

Company I – Captain, Frederic D. Forrest of Wrentham

First Lieutenant, Alvin E. Hall of Foxboro

Second Lieutenant, Samuel H. Bugbee of Wrentham

 

Company K – Captain, John L. Spalding of Boston

First Lieutenant, Benjamin f. Messervy of Quincy

Second Lieutenant, Pardon Almy, Jr. of Cambridge

 

            Going by way of New York, Baltimore and Harrisburg, the Eighteenth reached Washington August 30, and next day reported to Colonel E.D. Baker, going into camp about a mile to the west of the Capitol, the location being called Camp Massachusetts.  The regiment was ordered on the 3d of September  to cross the river and report to General Fitz John Porter, commanding a division, by whom it was assigned to General Martindale’s Brigade, its fellow regiments being the Second Maine, Thirteenth and Forty-first New York.  The regimental camp was located near Fort Corcoran, on ground recently occupied by the Sixty-ninth New York, and the Eighteenth began to see actual service in fatigue duty and on picket.  The division was moved to the front on the 26th and went into camp near Hall’s Hill, then the outpost of the Union army.  This position was occupied during the winter, the regiment giving much attention to drill and discipline, so that at a review held at Bailey’s Cross Roads it was especially complimented for excellence by the commander in chief, and as a mark of appreciation received new uniform and camp equipage imported from France and modeled on that of the French chasseurs a pied.  Before the opening of the spring campaign some changes were made in Martindale’s Brigade, the Forty-first New York giving place to the Twenty-second Massachusetts and Twenty-fifth New York Regiments, while the Second Company of Massachusetts Sharpshooters was attached to the brigade, which was known as the First Brigade, Porter’s Dvision, Third (Heintelman’s) Corps.

            The winter camp was vacated March 10, 1862, and the regiment marched to Fairfax, stopping there till the 16th, when it was ordered to Alexandria to embark for the Peninsula.  Transports were taken on the 21st, and two days later the command debarked at Old Point Comfort, encamping at Hampton for two days and then at Newmarket Bridge, where it remained till the Federal army was ready for the forward movement.  This began on the 4th of April, and early on the afternoon of the following day the defenses of Yorktown were reached, before which the Army of the Potomac came to a halt and remained for a month.  The Eighteenth took active part in the earlier operations by which the enemy’s line was located, and three of its companies were at once placed on the skirmish line, while the remainder of the regiment formed a portion of the main line of battle, but no casualties were suffered.  Later the command went into camp near by and daily furnished heavy details for outpost and fatigue duty till the evacuation of Yorktown.  Immediately on that event Porter’s Division took transports and landed on the 8th of May at West Point, near the junction of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers.  Up the south side of the latter the division marched, setting out on the 13th, going first to Cumberland, thence to White House, moving on the 19th toward Richmond as far as Tunstall’s Station, and on the 26th to Gaines Mills.

            During this time the Fifth (Provisional) Army Corps had been formed, of which General Porter was given command.  It was composed of his own division, the command of which was taken by General Morrell, and another under General Sykes.  The brigade to which the Eighteenth belonged was strengthened by the addition of the First Michigan Regiment, and was known as the First Brigade, First Division.  About the same time the regiment exchanged the smooth-bore muskets with which it had thus far been armed for the Springfield rifled pattern.  Early in the morning of the 27th the division set out for Hanover Court House, but as the Eighteenth had been on picket during a heavy storm it was not in condition to march at once; and though it followed a few hours later it was not in time to take part in the brilliant action by which General Porter defeated the Confederate force under General Branch.  It assisted in burying the dead left upon the field by the enemy and on the 29th returned to its camp at Gaines Mills.  There it remained till the 26th of June, when with the Seventeenth New York of Butterfield’s Brigade it was detached from the division to accompany a force of cavalry and artillery under General Stoneman for the protection of the army supplies at White House.  The operations which followed were arduous, and demanded many of the best qualities of soldiership, but all were performed in a manner to win praise.  The stores there having been destroyed in conformity with McClellan’s purpose to change base to the James river, the regiment embarked on transports, dropped down the river and finally by way of Fortress Monroe arrived at Harrison’s Landing, where it debarked for one day before the arrival of the rest of the brigade, which meantime had been fighting its way across the Peninsula.

            With the rest of the army, the Eighteenth encamped at Harrison’s Landing till the 15th of August, the only movement of note during that time so far as they were concerned being a reconnaissance to the Chickahominy the last of July, returning to camp the same day.  Before the transfer to the vicinity of Washington, however, various changes occurred among the officers.  Colonel Barnes took command of the brigade, succeeding General Martindale, who was made military governor of Washington; Lieutenant Colonel Ingraham had been made colonel of a new Massachusetts regiment, then being recruited; Major Hayes having been prostrated by sickness was necessarily away from the regiment, and the command devolved upon Captain Thomas, under whom the march was made on the 15th to the Chickahominy, thence by way of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Hampton to Newport News, where on the 20th transports were taken for Acquia Creek.  Going from there by rail to Falmouth, the regiment marched to Rappahannock Station, where it arrived on the 23d.  The next few days were devoted to maneuvering and marchings to and fro, falling back on the 27th to Warrenton, next day to Catlett’s, and on the 29th to Manassas Gap.  From this point it marched to the battle of Manassas, or the Second Bull Run, in which it was destined to take an important part.

            As the brigade, temporarily under the command of Colonel Charles W. Roberts of the Second Maine, came upon the field during the forenoon of the 30th it was formed in double line of battle with supports in echelon, the Eighteenth forming the first line in rear of the skirmishers, tow of its companies being deployed to extend the skirmish line so as to form connection on the right.  An attempt was then made to advance across a field and through a piece of woods, by which it was hoped to flank a Confederate battery; but the failure of troops to the right and left to advance rendered the attempt futile; the brigade was soon obliged to half and answer the fire which was poured in from front and both flanks, and after half an hour of this unequal contest the decimated regiments fell back to a less exposed position, Syke’s Division (Second) of the same corps covering their withdrawal.  That night the regiment, which had won high praise for its gallantry during the day, retired with its corps to Centerville.  It had lost in the engagement 40 killed, 101 wounded and 28 missing[1], - more than half the number taken into action.  Of the dead were Captain Charles W. Carroll, First Lieutenant Warren D. Russell and Second Lieutenant Pardon Almy, Jr.  Previous to this two officers of the regiment had died from disease – First Lieutenant George F. Hodges on the 31st of January and Second Lieutenant John D. Isbell on the 16th of July.

            Major Hayes returned to the command of the Eighteenth on the 1st of September.  He was soon promoted to the vacant lieutenant colonelcy, Captain Thomas being made major; the commissions dated from the 25th of August, but it was some time later that the recipients were mustered to the new rank.  During the night of the 1st and the following day the regiment marched to Chain Bridge, going on the 3d to Hall’s Hill, where it rested till evening of the 6th.  It then moved by night to Alexandria and staid till the 9th, thence to Fort Corcoran, opposite Georgetown, making another three-day’s halt.  Then began the march to the Antietam, where the Fifth Corps arrived on the 16th, but beyond supporting batteries on the east side of the creek the Eighteenth took no active part in the engagement.  After the fighting was over the regiment was detailed for picket near the Burnside bridge, at the left, where it passed the 18th and the succeeding night, advancing the next day to the Potomac.  It crossed that river on the 20th, leading its brigade, and opened the action of Shepherdstown, in which the two brigades commanded by Barnes and Sykes encountered four times their number of Confederates, and being unsupported were obliged to fall back.  The Eighteenth retired in good order, having lost three killed, 11 wounded and one missing.  Following this unsatisfactory experience, the regiment remained in camp near Sharpsburg for about six weeks.

            The movement southward began on the 30th of October, when the column marched toward Harper’s Ferry, crossed the Potomac there the following day and advanced by easy stages to Warrenton, where it went into camp on the 9th.  During this time the brigade, still commanded by Colonel Barnes, had been enlarged by the addition of the One Hundred and Eighteenth Pennsylvania Regiment; the division was at that time under General Charles Griffin and the corps was commanded by General Butterfield.  Camp was broken on the 17th, the regiment moving by way of Elktown to Hartwood Church, encamping there from the 19th to the 23d and then advancing to a position on the railroad near the village of Falmouth.  It remained there, with the exception of a reconnaissance back to Hartwood Church on the 1st of December, till the 11th of that month, when it took position further down the river, opposite Fredericksburg, and remained in waiting there till the afternoon of the 13th before it was called on to join in that battle.

            The call to action came at 1 o’clock, when the regiment led its division across the river, being the first of the Fifth Corps to cross.  The brigade at once went to the front and relieved a brigade of the Ninth Corps which had suffered severely in an attempt to reach the enemy’s line of works.  A charge was made soon after by the Eighteenth, but it was not successful and cost the command heavily in killed and wounded.  After falling back it was reformed and again took its place in the front of the Union line where it remained during the rest of the afternoon and in that vicinity till the evening of the next day, when it retired to the town and early the next morning as part of the rear guard covered the withdrawal of the troops from that side of the river.  The loss of the regiment in this battle was 13 killed and 121 wounded[2]; among the former being Captain George C. Ruby and Second Lieutenant James B. Hancock of Cambridge, and of the nine officers wounded Captain Joseph W. Collingwood would died on the 24th.  Every member of the color guard was wounded, so severe was the fire upon the colors; but it is worthy of note that not a member of the regiment was missing from his place saved the killed and wounded when the ordeal was over.

            The remainder of the winter and early spring brought few events of importance to the Eighteenth Regiment, and on but two occasions did it quit camp for any extended operations.  Marching up the river to Richards Ford with its brigade on the 30th of December, it forded the Rappahannock next day, the water being waist deep, drove back the Confederate videttes on the southern bank, ascended the stream to the next ford, recrossed to the northern shore and made its way back to camp on the 1st of January, 1863.  It took part also in the “Mud March,” three weeks later, and when that failed returned to the abandoned camp, remaining there till the spring suns had brought the roads into reliable condition and General Hooker, who had succeeded to the command of the Army of the Potomac, had perfected his plans for the Chancellorsbille campaign.  The Fifth Corps had now passed under the command of General Meade;  Colonel Barnes had been commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers dating from the 29th of November previous, in consequence of which Lieutenant Colonel Hayes and Major Thomas had been advanced each one grade, dating from that time, and Captain William B. White was commissioned major from the 1st of March following.

            The movement for the crossing of the river began on the 27th of April when the regiment marched to Hartwood Church, advancing the next day to Kelly’s Ford.  On the 29th it crossed both the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, marching next day to Chancellorsville and on the 1st of May with its corps taking position at the left of the Union line near Banks Ford.  The part taken in the battle by the Fifth Corps was not important, and the service of the Eighteenth was not exceptional.  It was frequently under fire as demonstrations were made on that part of the line, and was drawn farther to the right during the course of the battle, its loss being Captain William G. Hewins killed on the 3d of May and 13 men wounded.  When the conflict was over, the Fifth Corps formed the rear guard of the Army of the Potomac in its retreat across the river, the Eighteenth Regiment assisting in taking up the pontoon bridges when the troops had crossed.  Then it returned once more to the camp near Falmouth, where it remained till the 29th, moved to Hartwood Church, Morrisville and Grove Church, and again halted for two weeks.

            The movement northward which was to end with the battle of Gettysburg began for the Eighteenth on the 14th of June, when the regiment marched to Catlett’s Stations.  It reached Aldie on the 19th and two days later moved to Ashby’s Gap in support of the cavalry engagement at Upperville, returning to Aldie the next day and on the 26th advancing to Edward’s Ferry; thence by way of Frederick, Liberty, Unionville and Hanover to Gettysburg, Pa., which it reached on the morning of the 2d of July.  During this time much change had occurred in the make-up of the Fifth Corps, now commanded by General Sykes.  General Barnes had been promoted to the command of the First Division, Colonel Tilton of the Twenty-second Massachusetts commanded the brigade, which had been reduced to the two Massachusetts regiments, the One Hundred and Eighteenth Pennsylvania and the First Michigan.  The part taken in the battle of Gettysburg by the Eighteenth was like that at Chancellorsville, not important, and by a coincidence the loss on the two fields was the same – one killed and 13 wounded.  This loss occurred when two brigades of the First Division attempted the assistance of De Trobriand’s Brigade, which had been flanked from its position near the “wheat-field.”  Tilton’s Brigade was itself speedily flanked and obliged to fall back, General Barnes, the division commander, being severely wounded at that time.  Position was then taken by the brigade near Little Round Top, where it remained during the following day, and till the army moved from the field.

            From this time till the close of the year the history of the regiment is similar to that of many other organizations in the Army of the Potomac, which shared in the various movements of that body.  It left Gettysburg on the 5th of July, crossed the Antietam the 10th, and during the three days following was in line of battle before Williamsburg; thence after the retreat of the Confederate army into Virginia it marched down the river to Berlin, where it crossed the Potomac on the 17th and ten days later went into camp at Warrenton.  The locations was changed to Beverly Ford on the 8th of August and on the 16th the column marched to Culpepper Court House, where the regiment under command of Major White (Colonel Hayes being in command of the brigade) was detailed as provost guard of the town, and remained on that duty till the 11th of October.  Lieutenant Colonel Thomas resigned from the 3d of September, and the vacancy thus created was filled by the promotion of Major White, Captain Thomas Weston being made major – the commissions dating from October 15.

            On rejoining its brigade at Beverly Ford the regiment found the Army of the Potomac on the alert to meet the movements of the enemy.  Some demonstrations across the Rappahannock followed, and then came the rapid movement of both armies back toward Washington, ending with another period of hostile array on the well-worn fields about Manassas, Fairfax Court house and Centreville, but without engagement.  Before the close of the month the command was again back near Warrenton.  It joined in the brilliant capture of Rappahannock Station on the 7th of November, where it suffered the loss of two killed and 14 wounded – Second Lieutenant George F. Weston of Lincoln dying of his injuries January 5, 1864.  The regiment remained in the vicinity of the Rappahannock till the 26th of November, when it advanced to the Rapidan with the corps, crossed that stream at Culpepper Ford and took part in the Mine Run campaign which followed, having two men wounded while confronting the enemy’s position.  On the 3d of December it once more reached Beverly Ford and encamped for the winter.

            The months which followed were not a season of inaction, though regimental head-quarters remained at Beverly Ford; there were heavy daily details for duty along the railroad, in addition to the natural demands for guard and outpost.  Yet the spirit of the organization remained admirable, and of its few remaining original members 139 re-enlisted for another term of three years, if their services should thus long be required for the redemption of their country.  As spring approached the Army of the Potomac was reorganized into three corps, the Fifth being one of those retained, though largely changed in its make-up.  By this change the Eighteen Regiment found itself a part of the Third Brigade, First Division, the regiments which composed the brigade being in addition the Twentieth Maine, Forty-fourth New York, Eighty-third and One Hundred and Eighteenth Pennsylvania, First and Sixteenth Michigan.  General Joseph J. Bartlett was the brigade commander, General Griffin was returned to the division and General Warren took the corps.  By this arrangement Colonel Hayes resumed command of his regiment.

            The Eighteenth began their part in the campaign on the 1st of May, when they crossed the Rappahannock and took position near Brandy Station, waiting for the moving of the army.  This began on the 3d, when an advance was made to Culpeper, the Rapdian was crossed next day at Germania Ford, and that night the command bivouacked near the Wilderness Tavern.  Next morning intelligence came that the enemy were advancing, and the Eighteenth with the Eighty-third Pennsylvania were sent out to investigate.  Reaching the picket line, Colonel Hayes sent out two companies of his regiment under Captain Bent as skirmishers.  They advanced, driving back the Confederate skirmish line till it was ascertained that the rebel army was in force, when they returned, having lost one man killed, who was believed to be the first infantryman to fall in the campaign.[3]  Taking position in the front line of battle, the regiment joined in the advance which immediately followed and was successful in breaking and forcing back the opposing line till the failure of troops in co-operation to maintain the advance exposed the flank of Bartlett’s Brigade and necessitated its withdrawal for some distance.  During this charge Colonel Hayes was badly wounded in the head, and after the return Major Weston was severely sun-struck, which necessitated his absence for some weeks.  The regiment was not again actively engaged till the morning of the 7th, when it was placed on the skirmish line, and fought sharply during the morning.  Soon after noon it led forward a line of battle to feel the Confederate position; finding them strongly posted the Union troops retired and the Eighteenth were relieved, having lost in the various operations during the battle seven killed and 19 wounded[4].

            All of the night which followed was consumed in the slow movement to the left, morning finding the corps near Laurel Hill.  Griffin’s Division took the right hand road at the fork near Alsop’s, Bartlett’s Brigade leading in double line of battle, the Eighteenth holding the right of the second line.  The enemy’s works were soon reached and attacked, but the defenders were in force and the assault failed, the division being reformed and holding a position near the farthest pont of advance.  The loss of the regiment in this engagement was one killed and nine wounded.  While on picket during the night of the 10th the command suffered a further loss of three wounded.  These experiences ended the actual fighting of the regiment in the battles before Spottsylvania, though it took part in all the movements of its division and had a full share in the incessant hardships of the occasion.  After the tedious night march to the left, and spending some days there in the vain effort to find an unguarded spot in the line of intrenchments, the field was evacuated, as that in the Wilderness had been, and the army moved by the left flank once more.  The 23d of May brought the command to the North Anna, where in the early part of the afternoon it waded the river at Jericho Ford, the Eighteenth being placed in an important position near the Fountain homestead, to prevent its occupation by the enemy.  There was a lively engagement between the skirmishers at this point before the main attack on the hastily established Union lines which followed, but the only loss of the regiment – and that a serious one – came from the wounding of Lieutenant Colonel White, Captain Messervy succeeding him as regiment regimental commander.

            During the time the armies confronted each other the Eighteenth occupied various positions, now in reserve, then assisting in destroying the railroad and again on the picket line, but without further casualty.  After dark on the night of the 26th the entire picket line fell back cautiously and finally crossed the river, the movement to the left being resumed.  Next day the regiment guarded the ammunition train, crossed the Pamunkey river on the 28th and rejoined its brigade, advancing on the 30th by the Shady Grove road and in the skirmishing of the day having three men wounded.  The position being intrenched next day, another advance occurred on the 1st of June, when the line moved forward some distance, the Eighteenth on the right and in front, being separated from the Ninth Corps by a ravine.  Work on intrenchments was at once begun, but had not progressed far when the enemy suddenly emerged from the ravine, drove the pickets in and attempted to route the Eighteenth; but the regiment received the assailants with so bitter a fire they hugged the earth till dusk and then withdrew.  The Eighteenth, having exhausted their ammunition, held the line for some time before being relieved, with no reliance in case of a renewal of the attack but their bayonets.  Their loss in the encounter was six killed and nine wounded.  Some adjustment of the corps was made during the next two days, and the withdrawal and advancement of the lines elicited prompt attention from the watchful Confederates.  In the attendant fighting the regiment lost two men wounded on the 2d, and the next day had six killed and seven wounded – among the slain being Captain Charles F. Pray of Quincy.

            In pursuance of General Grant’s plan to move his army beyond the James river, the Fifth Corps was withdrawn from its position on the right and moved to the left of the line at Cold Harbor, where it took position in the rear of the Second Corps on the morning of the 6yh.  Very early on the 7th Griffin’s Division moved still further to the left, the Eighteenth in advance, to Sumner’s Bridge on the Chickahominy.  The hostile pickets being found on the hither side of the stream were driven across by skirmishers from the regiment, after which a picket line was established covering the bridge, the rest of the command in reserve.  This was done at a cost of three wounded – two mortally.  The command remained in that vicinity till the 12th, when it moved down the Chickahominy to Jones’s Bridge, crossed the next day by the pontoon bridge, was ferried across the James on the 16th, and marched at once toward Petersburg.  In the fighting of the first few days before that city the Eighteenth were not engaged, their division forming a part of the reserve.

            Major Weston returned and resumed command on the 20th, the corps being next day moved further to the left where in intrenched and remained till the 20th of July, when those whose terms of enlistment were about to expire were ordered to Washington for muster out.  The recruits and re-enlisted men were temporarily formed into a battalion, the officers being Captain Luther S. Bent of Quincy, commanding, with the following first lieutenants as line officers: George W. Smith of Cambridge, John A. Walch (Walsh) of Warehma, Amasa Guild, James M. Pond and William C. Coburn, all of Dedham.  This battalion, during the time that it maintained its oganization, well upheld the reputation of the regiment whose name it inherited.  In addition to the duties of the siege, of which it bore its full share, it had part in two important actions at the left of the lines of investment.  The first of these was on the 21st August, when it assisted in repelling the attack of the Confederates at the Weldon railroad, the battalion capturing 50 prisoners and a flag of the Twenty-seventh South Carolina.  On the 30th of September, at Peebles Farm, the detachment won additional credit, Captain Bent commanding the skirmish line on that occasion and winning the brevet of major for “gallant and distinguished services.”  During October the battalion was consolidated with the Thirty-second Massachusetts Regiment, most of the officers being discharged, and the Eighteenth ceased to be an organization, the original members having been mustered out on the 2d of September.[5]

 

 


[1] The actual numbers for the regiment were 44 killed and 103 wounded.

[2] The actual numbers for the regiment were 17 killed and 119 wounded.  Of the wounded, 12 would succumb to their wounds.

[3] Private Charles H. Wilson, Co. I, an 18 year old farmer from Franklin, MA

[4] The regiment suffered 7 killed, 29 wounded, and 48 men taken as prisoners

[5]  Of the 1,045 men mustered into the 10 companies of Regiment to January 14, 1862, only 240 were still active with the regiment. 153 were mustered out at the expiration of their three-year enlistment on September 2, 1864, while 87, who had reenlisted for three years service between January and March 1864, were transferred to the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry on October 21, 1864.

 

Source -

Massachusetts in the War

1861-1865

by James L. Bowen

With an introduction by Hon. Henry L. Dawes, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts

Springfield, Mass: Clark W. Bryan & Co., 1889