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Contemporary Historical Sketch – by a soldier of Co. A 1st N. H. Heavy

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Item Number: 4273
 

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Beat up with loose and missing pages but complete in so far as the ten pages presenting Corporal Hevekiah E. Hadlock’s fascinating A Sketch of Co. A 1st N. H. H. A.. The historic period brown ink sketch begins in the spring of 1863 with the authorization of Charles H. Lang (earlier Lt. Col 17th N. H. Vols.) to raise an independent company of Heavy Artillery for the garrisoning of Fort Constitution, Portsmouth Harbor. Hadlock offers an interesting inside account of life and military duty at Ft. Constitution from the earliest days of the outfit when it consisted of merely forty enlisted men and the time in July when the draft was ordered resulting in the Company quickly filling its manning to the required one-hundred-forty enlisted. The author states as most everyone supposed that our company would not leave the state and fearing the draft the recruits then came in in droves. Corporal Hadlock describes early life at Ft. Constitution as passing pleasantly along and the boys had a very easy time, fishing, catching lobsters &c was the general amusement while not on duty. When winter came though such leisure was replaced with the unloading of coal, wood and commissary stores from schooners. As the snow came on parties were detailed for shoveling snow and keeping the Fort and yard clear. . In the last days of April 1864 things would change for the New Hampshire natives relegated to the protection of Portsmouth Harbor. Relieved of duty here by State Militia the Co. was ordered to Washington. Corp. Hadlock leaves us with details of Battery assignments at Ft. Slocum then movement up the Potomac for assignment about three quarters of a mile from Georgetown overlooking the City. Despite his description of this place as pleasantly situated Hadlock tells the reader that the weather at this time was extremely hot and large details were made out each day for cutting trees and brush which caused a general growling throughout the camp. It was about July 8th, that Hadlock’s group was moved to Fort Bauard, a timber and earthwork fort constructed northwest of Tenleytown in the District of Columbia. It was at this place that the New Hampshire Corporal pens the meat of his record as he offers the reader a common soldiers view of the Union defeat of Confederate forces in their July 1864 assault on the Capital City . Here we will offer Corporal Handcock’s own words as he writes: about this time they was expecting the Johnies up to make them a call and they was not disappointed on the 10th of July in the afternoon Gen Early made his appearance on the Rockville Turnpike with about thirty thousand men, this caused great excitement for we had a mere handful of men and the most of those were green militia being one hundred days men from Ohio and the prospect of saving Washington was rather slim but they made no attack that night but the next morning the 11th they began quite a smart skirmish in front , our Fort Bayard and the Rebels gained a quite a commanding piece of ground in front of our Fort and placed a light Battery but they did not have any effect on the fort and for some reason unknown to us did not seem anxious to approach any nearer but held their grounds against our line all that day and night. The morning of the 12 commenced with a very smart skirmish the whole length of the line but about noon the Rebels fell back some distance and as our army was small and fearing that they was up to some trap we did not follow them and it was well that we did not for the next day about noon they were seen returning with reinforcements the Rebel Gen Breckenridge had come up with 40,000 more men making 70,000 in all. Washington was then seemingly in their hands and the long coveted prize was then secured. It is here that our writer offers a bit of political insight as he comments on feelings toward the former Vice President of the United States turned Confederate General. Breckenridge was again to have the chance to press the hands of his Copperhead friends that had wished so much to see him and that has elected him Vice President. On came this gallant band eager to clasp their serpent like fangs into and destroy that starry banner that had protected them in their infancy and just as they were ready to send up their shouts of victory they met with a banner that struck a panic to their whole army. Here Corporal Hadlock sets down his personal exuberance for the turning of the Confederate onslaught the roll of his Corps in accomplishing that. For the sixth corps was there,says he! The most dreaded by Breckenridge of any corps in the Union army but the engagement was a hard one for they had much the larger numbers but nevertheless at ten o'clock they were driven back from the lines with a great loss of men, on the morning of the 14th not a living rebel was to be seen and the sixth corps was on their track for Rockville. After this action Hadlock continues to record the movements of his unit to include promotion of its officers until their return to Fort Constitution and the defense of Portsmouth Harbor on the 30th day of November 1864. A nice item for the New Hampshire collector, this all original and complete soldiers folio will come with a 1987 letter on the letterhead and in the hand of Francis Lord as he responds to a research inquiry on Corporal Hadlock account to include Dr. Lord’s notations on the Corporal’s military record. Thanks for visiting Gunsight Antiques!!





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