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Primary Sources for the 12th New Jersey Infantry

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West-Jersey Pioneer, September 13, 1862

The Twelfth N J. at the Post of Danger.

The Baltimore American, of yesterday, says that on the previous afternoon the Twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, commanded by Col. Johnson, and mustering one thousand men, left the Camden Station, Baltimore, in a special train, for the Relay House, in the vicinity of which they will be stationed. Colonel William D. Whipple, chief of Gen. Wool’s staff, accompanied the command for the purpose of selecting a good place of defence for them. This position is very near the scene of the impending battle, and within fifteen miles of the rebel pickets.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 15, 1862


Evacuation of Frederick by the Rebels
Burnside in Possession—A Skirmish
Near Mount Airy.

Special Correspondence of the Inquirer.
ELLICOTT'S MILLS, September 13th.

I am compelled to write from this point, being the nearest place from which I can have mail communication with Philadelphia. Two days tramping through the country has given me some information with regard to the movements of our forces, and other matters of interest.

I left Baltimore for this place on Thursday morning, it being the farthest point on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to which passenger trains ran. All Quiet.

All is quiet here and no one is apprehensive of any advance of the Rebels upon this point, although two days ago their pickets were said to be only fifteen miles distant.

The Garrison.

The Twelfth New Jersey Regiment, under the command of Col. ROBERT C. JOHNSON, is doing garrison and picket duty at this point, and finds great favor In the sight of the citizens. They have a fine band, and almost every evening eloquent and patriotic music is discoursed, while the residents assemble and listen.

But the goal lay beyond, and it must be reached There was only one way of attaining it, and that was by a march which your correspondent forthwith commenced, and in due time reached Eleysville, a small station on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Here the Fourteenth New Jersey, under the command of Col. Wm.S. TRACY, were stationed, and a detachment from the First Maryland for picket and guard duty.


After passing the Union pickets—which was done with some risk—the only difficulty now to be feared was the danger of being picked up by one of the scouts of either armies,in which case it might go hard with a civilian caught beyond the lines,as he might be tried and executed as as spy. But, happily, none of these saw me, although from behind a tree I saw a couple of blue-jacketed troopers spurring rapidly toward the Union lines.

The People Excited.

The inhabitants in this part of the country are in a wild state of excitement, fearing every moment that a descent would be made upon them by the Rebels, and that they would be carried off and forced to Join the ranks of the Rebel army. Much of the information was very contradictory, and not to be relied upon, but I learned pretty conclusively that the Rebels scouts had been seen at Marriotteville, twenty-eight miles from Baltimore and thirteen from Ellicott’s Mills, on Wednesday night. The pickets were then at New Market, and the great body of the Rebel army on the march towards Hagerstown, leaving but a small number In Frederick.

Mount Airy.

The next morning, after stopping for the night at a farm house owned and occupied by a good Union Man, your correspondent again set out on his journey. This is a pleasant little place, situated among the hills, and owes its growth entirely to the railroad. What the People Say.

As general rule, the inhabitants were quite communicative, and readily gave whatever information they could as to the whereabouts of the forces. There I learned that BURNSIDE’s division was at Ridgeville, two miles south of Mount Airy, and advancing towards Frederick, and that the Union pickets had been extended beyond New Market.

A Skirmish.

Quite a severe skirmish took place in the neighbor hood of Mount Airy, on Thursday morning, in which a body of Rebels, fifteen hundred strong, with cavalry and artillery, met and drove back an equal force of Union soldiers. The Rebels did not retain possession of the ground very long, but retreated, having learned, no doubt, that it would be unsafe to remain any longer. I could not ascertain the name of the commanders, It is reported that about ten Union soldiers were killed and a number wounded.

Confidence in Our Generals.

The people have all the utmost confidence in the Generals commanding the Union forces here. No one doubts the ability of the hero of North Carolina and the veteran soldiers of the army, to bag and destroy the whole Rebel force.

How the Rebels Behaved.

Every one agrees in saying that the Rebel soldiers behaved remarkably well. When any one of them would meet a lady, she was saluted with a “present arms,” or the cap was doffed with a “good morning, madam.” At one place a Rebel brigade encamped between a peach orchard and a corn-field, and such was the rigid discipline enforced by their officers, that not a peach or a single ear of corn was taken.

Ridiculous Reports.

Some of the Secession inhabitants have been making themselves very busy in circulating the report that the Union army was pressing all the ablebodied men that it met into the service, This caused great alarm among the loyal residents, as they scarcely knew whether to believe it or not.

Arrest of a Supposed Spy.

Quite an excitement was created in the quiet village of Eleysville, and among the soldiers there, by the arrest of a suspicious person, supposed to be a spy, said “spy” being no other than your special correspondent, who was taken to the Colonel under guard and the case fully investigated, but he was soon satisfied that all was right, and the correspondent was, therefore, sent on his way.

Ellicott’s Mills Again.

This place we reached again, last night, after an absence of some thirty-six hours, and from here I send my letter.

Train for Frederick.

A train with supplies,for General BURNSIDE’S army, went up to Frederick at an early hour, this morning. Passenger trains will commence running in a few days. The Latest.

I just hear from a trusty source, that a number of the Rebels are marching for the Potomac with the intention of re-crossing and that SIGEL in in pursuit.


Ira C. Hall. The dateline is Camp Johnson, Ellicotts mills, Sept the 15 / 62.

Some abstracts: “Dear sister Ida, you must not think hard of me for not riting soon for i have benn very busy … had to go out on pickett and did not git back untill last night and i was to tird to rite then …”

“I was out on pickyet and i liked it first rate i had all the milk and peaches and roasted chicken that we could eat.” “thir was 2 of us at or post and we tooked 5 prizners thir is plenty of Slaves hear out where i was on pickyet is a man ho has 75 slaves he ses that he rais 5000 bus of wheat last yar and that he has got 600 acers this year redy to sow i seen his corn and it looks nice the country around hear looks about as hilly as it does in luzern.” “Thir has benn a big fite at fredickburg that is about 20 miles fro hear i was out on pickyet about 5 miels and we cood fiel the ground shake quite hard and the cannons roar as plain as i wanted to bee.” “I got a letter from on of Ellas baughs [i.e. beaus] and he said that thay was all well.” “tell Clark that i will rite to him soon and tell Edwin Hall that i will rite to him as soon as i can but …” “Thir is sum new york Regments around hear and the next time that you rite to me tell boath the regment thay ar in [???] it may bee that i may see them no more …”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1862


Correspondence of the Inquirer. ELLICOTT'S MILLS, Md., Sept. 11, 1862.

Our regiment, Twelfth New Jersey, has been here Nearly a week, and since that time it has had some active service. On Monday the “boys” scouted through the village, properly known as Ellicott's Mills, deriving its name from the large number of cloth mills, flour mills, &c., owned by the family of the above name. It is a pretty village, of the ancient order, comprising some five thousand inhabitants. While scouting around, some Union men pointed out a rebellious F, F. M., in the shape of a decrepid, miserable form of humanity. Naturally a break was made for said Secesh's house, and the “old flag” soon floated, fanned by the mountain breeze, over his domicile.

On Wednesday our boys captured from a Secessionist sixty bags of salt, besides some horses and wagons. Secesh looked downcast, and saluted us soldiers with the popular epithet used by refined Southern chivalry, “—— Yankees.”

Our regiment is now on detached service, some companies being on picket six miles from camp; others are guarding bridges, railroads, &c. This kind of service does not appear agreeable to us, for we expected to go into more active service, but, “there is a time for all things.”


The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 1862


Seventeen Hundred Rebel Prisoners sent to Baltimore—Reception of our Paroled Soldiers - Animated Appearance of Frederick.

Special Correspondence of the Inquirer. FREDERICK, MD., Sept. 17, 1862.

Frederick, this morning, presented such a sight as has probably not been witnessed by any place since the breaking out of this infernal Rebellion. Seven- teen hundred Rebel prisoners, under charge of four companies of the Twelfth New Jersey, commanded by Lieut.-Col. J. HOWARD WILLETS, were collected from their different places of confinement in the town, and were started for Baltimore.

Their Insolence and Abuse of the Yankees.

As they passed through the streets, I think I never witnessed a more forlorn or dirtier-looking set of humanity. Boldly and defiantly, however, they marched on, whistling 'Dixie' and making use of some of the vilest and most abusive epithets against the Yankees.


The Baltimore Sun, September 19, 1862

Departure of Confederate Prisoners —About 6 o'clock yesterday morning the Confederate prisoners, whose arrival at Camden street depot the night previous was mentioned in yesterday’s edition of The Sun, were trans- erred from the depot to the Boston steamship wharf, and there placed upon two of the Ericsson line of steamboats. The four companies of the Twelfth New Jersey Volunteers, under command of Lieut, Col. Welles, accompanied them. The boats left about 7 o'clock, and it was understood that their destination was Fort Delaware, where the prisoners are to be kept until paroled.


West Jersey Pioneer, October 4, 1862

For the West Jersey Pioneer.

Company K, 12th Regiment, N. J. V.


FRIEND FERGUSON:—A solemn awe pervades the camp. As I write, the body of one of our comrades in arms is being conveyed through the camp to the cars at Elicott’s Mills, to be conveyed home. The procession consisting of the company to which the dec. was attached with Reversed Arms, headed by the Regiment Band playing a Funeral Dirge. It is strange that even amidst the tumult confusion and realities of war, to see what sympathy and feeling is aroused in those whom you would least look for it.

On the coffin is a large wreath of flowers together with the gun and dress coat of the deceased. As the procession passed through the lines, the boys covered their faces with their caps, at the same time bowing their heads until the body had passed

“Peace be to his Ashes.”

The boys are on top of the hill, taking a final look, as we can see right on the cars. There goes the whistle at which the boys turn away with a solem look, indicating their inward feelings better than by any speech. There still lays one in the Hospital down with the same ailment, Typhoid Fever. As Gen. McClellan's right wing has succeeded in getting between us and the Rebels we feel very safe from any rebel invasions.

Last week in company with companies A and I. we were detailed to move to Frederick to take in charge the prisoners captured in the late Battles, We took the cars, consisting of 22, and two Locomotives at Ellicott's Mills at 2 o'clock on Wednesday, arriving at Mononcy Brige about daylight. After being formed in line, we took up the line of march for Frederick. Owing to the Rebels blowing up the bridge we were forced to walk some 4 miles from the Railroad station the Rebels made sure work on the bridge as parts of it laid around in every direction, giving a good idea of the effects of gunpowder. The bridge was a large iron column, some 200 feet long. Build of large stone piers, some of the piers were scattered in all directions. A large brick house in the immediate vicinity was tumbled about to perfection.

We arrived in Frederick about 10 o'clock, having a leave of absence for a little while I improved the town, which I found to be a very pretty place, of some 8,000 inhabitants quite city like and solid Union, which I guess Stone Fence Jackson (who is called by that name altogether by the boys) found to be so to his satisfaction. From a lady with whom I had conversation, they evidently came into Maryland for to get something to eat, their teams, as well as their men, prisoners then at Frederick, showed to be a fact. This same Lady kindly invited me into breakfast, which invitation I can assure you I accepted of in the fullest sense in which a soldier could, during which time we had a very interesting talk. I wish there was more like this lady in Maryland, a very pretty daughter who graced the table came in for a share of the conversation as well as for an occasional glance from your correspondent I would have lingered much longer but the roll of the drum beat my retreat. In returning our leader led us a wild-cat chase which delayed us as well as made us very tired.

However we reached the cars all right. All the commissioned officers were detailed for the last car the others being divided between the 1st and last car. Two of our men being in each car with a loaded gun, and six on top of each car, with guns loaded. While loading the last car some four of them rebels made a rush for the woods, but the balls came so close to them (they being fired at) that they beat as nice a retreat for the cars as they did for the bushes.

We arrived in safety with them at Baltimore about 9 o'clock at night, when they where handed over to the Baltimore Police forces, who escorted them to the steamer and were taken to Fort Delaware, We expected as much as could be to accompany them to the Fort, but in the morning me were disappointed by being ordered home. As roll is calling, I must close.

In haste. 12th N. J. V.


Letter of Sgt. James S. Stratton

October 16, 1862

War-date Union soldier's letter written by Sgt. James S. Stratton, 12th New Jersey Infantry, KIA at Ream's Station on August 25, 1864, 4p. quarto, Ellicott's Mills, October 16, 1862, and reads in part: “…The 'Commissary' of a company is not required to perform guard duty in camp, as other sergeants are, he has to be in camp to draw rations…you may infer from the above that I am always ready to avoid drilling and take advantage of any liberty which my position may afford me…Our company is detailed for picket today…After Co. F had started out this morning the remaining companies fell in with arms and formed a hollow square in front of camp to listen to orders of Col. Johnson…Private Thomas J. Gordon Co. E (formerly of Mullica Hill) was sentenced 'to wear a ball and chain' during four weeks - to be released from solitary confinement during six hours each day then being employed at some labor in camp. This man, perhaps you remember, is a very rough character and is now sentenced so heavily, because of an attempt to shoot a comrade. He was for a time in the 1st N.J. Cav….Co. F. is doing first rate, nobody in the guard house, and but one in the hospital…What think you of the 'Proclamation?' What do you think will be the result of our state election? How do the candidates Parker and Ward compare?…The weeklies that come to Co. F are for the most part from the office of the 'Constitution' to Lieut. P_ and consequently of a republican stamp. Please send Camden and Trenton papers. [Pvt. John H.] Schreiner, a classmate of mine at Bridgeton, …is in the 24th N. J. and has the position of 1st Sergt. Co. H. Rob Potter [2nd Lt. Robert B. Potter] of the Chronicle is a Lieut. in the same regt….” VG.

West-Jersey Pioneer, October 18, 1862

Company K, 12th Regiment, N. J. V.
MARYLAND, Oct. 5th, 1862

FRIEND FERGUSON:—We, Co. K, having been detailed for picket duty, and being comfortably quartered at our post, I thought I could not employ the time better than by having a few words with you. As we are not supposed to be so vigillant in the daytime as at night, and having but one post to guard, it leaves us plenty time to look around. We are posted some two miles from camp, at a place called Helltown, (nice name that,) consisting of a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, and two dwelling houses, with several farm houses in sight; one of the farm houses belonging to Mason, one of the commissioners to Europe for the Southern Confederacy. After his leaving here for the South, his slaves burned down the house. The ruins indicating it to have been a very fine residence, the gasometer still standing showing it to have been fitted up in first style for convenience and comfort. The dairy farm adjoining, is occupied by an Englishman, who gave us all our information concerning the estate, &c. All the wealthy people around here are the strongest kind of secesh. A mistake in our commissary department being made, we were furnished with grub foe only nine men when it should have been enough for ten, consequently we had to forage, or in other words do a little of soldier stealing. One of the boys succeeded in driving a good big chicken into the dinner pot, while others went in another direction and procured some ham, and our vegetables being in to low a state to correspond with our appetites, two was appointed to see to procuring some—they started forth, but soon returning and reporting that nary potato could be found in any of the fields; we were at a loss to know how to get some, but our pockets not being entirely dried up we raised a half of a peck. Some we fried with ham, which we made a supper off of. Having rigged a shelter by placing some rails up against the fence, and covering the top, sides and one end with cornstalks, we made right comfortable quarters. The pickets, three in number, having been posted the ballance of us, having built a good fire in the road, spent the rest of the evening in spinning yarns, smoking, &. The fire having burnt out the next move was under the cornstalks. It having become so cold towards morning we were compelled to turn out; but, however, our old friend fire was resorted to for the ballance of the long cold night. About daylight we were again in motion, the chicken and potatoes being converted into a stew, and served up hot, with coffee and bread, we had as nice a breakfast as anybody could ask for. During the evening one of the party had gone to a farm house and bought some pies as a desert for breakfast. Having washed up the dishes and packed up our traps, we waited the arrival of the Company that was to release us. During the time we captured a hard looking subject, (no doubt one of Jackson’s men,) who tried to play crazy on us, but the boys couldn’t see it. Upon our arrival at camp we handed him over to our worthy Captain Thompson. More anon, 12TH REG., N. J. V.


The Methodist, October 25, 1862

ELLICOTT'S MILLS, the capital town of Howard county, Md., is situated about ten miles from Baltimore, on the main road to Frederick City, which is crossed at this point by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. During the first rebel raid into Maryland it was supposed that a movement would be made on Baltimore by that route. The surroundings of the town are admirable for defence against any advancing foe, and the everlasting hills, commanding the turnpike and railroad bridges over the Patapsco River at. this point, are fully garrisoned. The 12th New-Jersey Regiment, Col. Robert C. Johnson, are encamped near Ellicott’s Mills on an elevated and healthy position, and the men are enjoying admirable health. The moral character of the regiment is highly creditable to our citizen soldiery. Many of the men are decidedly pious, and conduct religious services in camp, and visit places for divine service in the adjacent neighborhood.

On Sabbath, September 28th, the Rev. J. P. Cook visited Ellicott’s Mills and preached in the large village church, Emory Chapel. The house was crowded by the inhabitants and the soldiers from the encampments. The chaplain of the regiment being absent, and some of the Jerseymen having knowledge of Brother Cook, obtained the consent of Col. Johnson to hold divine worship in camp. In the afternoon there was a large assembly; the soldiers were well provided with camp-hymn-books, and conducted the singing admirably, the voice of melody. breaking over the surrounding hills. After sermon.a minister from New-Jersey on a visit of Christian kindness to the regiments from his State, concluded the services with some appropriate remarks, The exercises were of a highly interesting and impressive character.


The Baltimore Sun, November 4, 1862

Arrest of Deserters —Yesterday afternoon a squad of the 12th New Jersey Infantry, stationed at Ellicott’s Mills, captured ten deserters from the army of the Potomac. They were members of various regiments, and had in their possession a four-horse army wagon, marked company E, First Maryland Regiment. The wagon was filled with arms, clothing, knapsacks, &c. At the time they were arrested they were on the Frederick road, making their way to Baltimore. They were placed on board the cars and brought to this city, under charge of Lieut. Ed. J. Parker, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and were delivered to Deputy Marshal Lyons, who had them conveyed to Fort McHenry. The wagon and its contents were also brought to this city, and delivered to the custody of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry.



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