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Back to 21st Massachusetts Infantry

Annapolas Junction
Aug 30th, 1861

Dear Berdille

Since I last wrote we have pitched our moving tents one days march - farther from home. Rather unexpectedly we recd orders to move to the seat of war. It is understood the the Col. went down to Gen Dixs quarters at Ft McHenry and represented to him that we were hardly in condition yet for active service and so wee were sent to take the place of a Penn. Reg. That was quartered partly here and party at the Naval Academy at Annapolis The Ashburnham Spring field expenses & our Company are here under command

of Capt Walker of Ashburnham our duty is to keep watch of the Railroad and all the roads that crow it within ten miles toward Washington and three the other way. Those corp- orals and 33 men were detailed From our Co and I presume the other Cos as the same. The people have a holy honor of the Massachusetts men. The men that were here report that the people with whom they have come in contact expressed to them their respect that they were to leave as they were afraid that Mass. Men would be substituted the proportion of secessionist in many secesh to one union. If the men like the business and do it to the satisfaction of all concerned I don't know when we shall see them again. The men that were here had

Not seen some of those first sent out though they had been here four weeks. The Sergeant goes out everyday with the rations and if any one wishes to change he has the privelege of doing so and some one is sent in his place. I didn't happen to be detailed for which I don't know whether I am glad or sorry. They stop every body that passes an search till they are satisfied even to unrolling the stocking in his valise. The Company that left today got goods of the value of $800. in one hand, and have got near $2000 worth since they have been here. There is a rumor about the camp this P. M that we are to move again soon. Whether true or not I can't tell. If we move

I shall give you earliest information of the same. I don't know and better way than to direct letters to the last place you know of our being and they will follow. It seems to me that it is about time for one for me to catch me. Of course I look to you among you to write often.

Saturday morn. I didn't get time to finish this last evening so take an hour before breakfast. We had an alarm in the night. Some one of the guard round the encampment saw or dreamed something suspicious and fired on it and those near him instead of passing along the watchword as they should, they discharged their pieces. The word of alarm is Boston and in case of trouble the guard should shout that and every soldier should repeat the word and rush for his quarters. The Companies all came on a line at the alarm but it proved that these was nothing at all the matter and we went back to bed. This is decidedly the most shake ground that we have been on secession without and Irish within

I presume I shall be on guard today & tonight and will have to look out for more things than I have even had to. I only wish we had one do the better disciplined Companies instead of one that is here which is of that sort of material that can't learn anything and can't be relied on for what they know. Most of our Co. can be relied on as can the Ashburnham. The other two are of another sort. Sereno has been appointed an Corporal in place of Bryant who goes as waggoner. He has just come in to the tent with some braid with which to put on the stripes as is going to sew it on himself. So you know that Lydia Ann Gates did that job for us at Worcester? I write to Lenny to send with this and think I will direct

It to him. I think I am getting toughened by the knocking round we get. I can sleep on the ground or on bare boards and don't see but I rest as well as in a bed. Not but that I would rather if I could creep into the old nest after the days […] here with all the inconveniences and hardships hasnt affect me a bit. We are in a very pleasant situation so far as a good ground is concerned.

I have no time for more this morn. God bless and keep you all is the prayer of yours


Letter of E. Wyman Stone
Gilder-Lehrman Collection, 2182.

The Daily Exchange, August 30, 1861

The Twenty-first Massachusetts regiment, which has been in camp at Patterson’s Park since Sunday last, yesterday received orders to repair to Annapolis Junction. The First Pennsylvania reserve, hitherto stationed there, has gone to Washington. These were the only movements yesterday, with the exception of the passage of a few straggling recruits.


Boston Evening Transcript, September 4, 1861

ANNAPOLIS, MD., Sept. 1, 1861.

FROM THE 21ST MASS. REGIMENT. My last letter was written at Patterson Park, Baltimore, where we were then encamped. On Wednesday evening, orders reached our Colonel to move the following morning for Annapolis, to guard the railroad from the junction to the port. At eleven o’clock we took up the line of march to the tune of Yankee Doodle, through the streets of Baltimore, to the Washington Depot, receiving from many warm tokens of applause, and from all, respect. But one accident occurred to mar our passage. A member of Co. F, Worcester Zouaves, fell from the car as we were leaving the depot, breaking his arm, rendering amputation necessary on our reaching this place.

On our way we stopped for an hour at the Relay House, when those of our regiment who had been posted at this point in the early part of the war, met with a most cordial reception. This point is now guarded by a Wisconsin regiment. Nine miles below this place, at the junction of the Annapolis and Washington Railroad, where our guardianship commenced, we left four of our companies, and with the balance continued on to this locality, a distance of about twenty miles.

The entire line of the road is now guarded by the Massachusetts 21st. The 1st Pennsylvania regiment, Colonel Roberts, who has been in command for the last six weeks, left for Washington as we arrived. We are quartered in the buildings belonging to the United States Naval School which was established here in 1815, under the secretaryship of George Bancroft. The grounds enclose about twenty acres, well provided with elegant buildings~bath houses, gardens, and so arranged to make it one of the most delightful spots I have ever seen. This institution has been a great source of encouragement to the city of Annapolis, as it contained in 1815 about 2500 inhabitants, but now has increased to 6000. They feel the loss of the school much. This is the spot taken possession of by General Butler, when our transit through Baltimore was for a time obstructed. He took boats at Havre de Grace, and landing at this place, opened communication with Washington via the railroad, which we are now guarding. This is one of the oldest built towns in Maryland, most of the buildings being fashioned after the then English style, and give evidence of great durability.

Here stands the State House, built more than one hundred years ago. In it is the Senate Chamber, where Washington surrendered up his commission as commander-in-chief of the forces of the republic. The house of Gov. Hicks, the staunch Union governor of Maryland, faces our quarters, and it is refreshing to glance at it occasionally to strengthen (if it were needed) our Union principles. This place is also used by the government as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and there are now here a large number of those who were wounded in the battle of Bull Run. About the grounds we find many monuments erected by the naval officers to the memory of those who have fallen in battle or died on foreign posts. The monument to the lamented Herndon stands conspicuous.

How long we shall be posted here I know not. It may be for weeks, or tomorrow’s mail may bring us the order to march. The more I become acquainted with this regiment the more my respect for it increases. It is composed almost entirely of Worcester County men—men who I believe fully realize the importance of the issue in which we are now engaged; and who I believe will win a name if occasion presents itself,—such men as I believe would respond to the call of our Senator, which I have just read, and I am proud to think such as he will find in numbers on the soil of the brave old State—our home. Boston.


Boston Evening Transcript, September 9, 1861


21ST MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT. My last letter from Annapolis informed the friends of the 2ist Massachusetts regiment of our whereabouts; in which position we still continue, stretched along the railroad for its entire length of twenty miles, guarding every cross road, so as to render the passage of our Southern friends quite difficult. That portion of Virginia situated across the Chesapeake Bay, termed the Eastern shore, has long been and still continues to be the home of a body of men, there drilling and organizing for some purpose of assistance to those in rebellion, while their numbers are daily increasing by additions from Maryland and even further north. To assist in putting a stop to those who endeavor to form there is part of our business of guard here. No man, foot or horseback, is allowed to pass without inspection, our lines, and any article contraband, which he may have in his possession, is of course forfeit. To break up this nest below will no doubt soon be, or ought to be, an object of our government. Vessels clearing from Northern ports for Baltimore have been known to put in there, and thus render important aid to the rebels.

The spirited articles in your paper in regard to the prosecution of the war with a determined hand, are read with great pleasure by the members of this regiment, and we all agree that a regiment of editors, if they could fight as well as they write, would be a great addition to our force.

A melancholy accident to a young man from Spencer by the name of Gibbs, of Company C, Capt. Richardson, occurred on Tuesday night, he being killed by standing too near the train of cars as they passed him—his body was terribly cut up, and his death must have been instantaneous. He was indeed among strangers, no one about being willing that his body should be placed in their land; but thanks to a good hearted son of Massachusetts residing near to the place, who offered his own burial ground, and the attentions of the officers and men of his company, he was placed in his long home, with the usual military ceremonies over his grave, while the service for the burial of the dead was read by Lieut. Harlow.

We are indeed in the home of many secessionists, and therefore do not receive many attentions from our neighbors, and are depending entirely upon ourselves for social enjoyment. Melons, peaches and fruit of all kinds, are brought in in great abundance, which are exchanged for the hard money which we brought from Massachusetts, while the trains from Baltimore and Washington, continually passing, supply us liberally with newspapers, ever sought for with great earnestness. I was fortunate enough to obtain from Gov. Seward yesterday, a few New York papers, which he threw from the window. One of them, with a despatch from Washington of the day before, chronicles his safe return to the Seat of Government. Regiment after regiment passes here daily, exchanging greetings with ours here stationed, with the usual inquiry on both sides of “What regiment is this?” I hope in a few days to be able to inform you of matters of more stirring importance. Till then, I remain, yours, truly, BOSTON.


Boston Evening Transcript, September 16, 1861


THE TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS. Since my last communication no change has taken place in the 21st Regiment. We are still inactive, unless guarding a railroad might be deemed important, as no doubt it is, at this unsettled period of our history. Maryland has many Union men in her borders, staunch and true, who, when protected, speak out strongly and boldly for Government, They say that they feel a new life now that the administration has ungloved its hand, while all feel the effect of our new victory. Butler and Stringham have balanced the Bull Run account, having taken about the same number of men and cannon as the rebels took at the Stone Bridge, while the bombardment of Sumter has been answered by the bombardment of slavery, by Fremont. Would it not be singular, should North Carolina—the last to go out—be the first to return, Regiment after regiment continues to pass on its way to the seat of war, I am told that letters directed to 181 different regiments are received at the Washington post office. A largo portion of these troops have passed over this railroad. This gives some idea of the amount of business over this branch of the Baltimore and Ohio road, while the main branch of it is doing nothing, having lost most of its bridges, engines and business—a loss it will take years to recover. Secession has been to the owners of the main branch dear business.

In after years this war will be termed by some the war of ignorance, and I am surprised daily to hear expressions so wide of the mark, as to the truth of its origin. Maryland wants more of our Northern churches and schoolhouses to educate the bulk of her population; for in comparison with our working classes she is woefully behind in cultivation, In a cotton factory near here are employed 170 hands, and I am told that only about 30 of them can write. In conversation with one of my neighbors as to the prospects of the election of Bradford, the unconditional Union nominee, to succeed Gov. Hicks, all that is wanted, he said, to make his election certain, is a Federal victory. Give us that, and we will elect him triumphantly. Here wealth, more than at the North, influences elections, as is seen in the vote of Baltimore. The fields around us are now loaded down with heavy crops of corn and tobacco, the last of which will be a valuable one, should the blockade continue.

This road from Baltimore to Washington seems to be the dividing lino between the tobacco and grain growing regions—the southern side being more exclusively devoted to the fragrant weed, and the northern, which is mountainous, to grain, Today—“the anniversary of the battle of North Point,” near Baltimore, when the British General Ross was killed has been celebrated at Annapolis by a military parade, ball, and other festivities. The Governor’s Guard of that city turned out, and escorted our regiment from its quarters to the city, passing through the principal streets, and altogether making a grand Union demonstration. Our Col Morse, with Lieut. Col. Baggs, (who has just arrived here, and Major Clark, mounted, led off our regiment in fine style, making quite a gala day for the Twenty-first. Boston.


The Baltimore Sun, October 2, 1861

A Lieutenant Shot and Killed.—On Monday night, a lieutenant of the 21st Massachusetts regiment, named Stoddard, stationed at the Annapolis Junction, was shot and killed. It is alleged that he attempted to pass one of the pickets, in disguise, and that haying been ordered several time to halt, and paying no attention thereto, he was fired upon, and shot through the body. He lived about three hours after receiving the wound. No blame is attached to the picket, as he was acting in discharge of his duty.



Headquarters 21st Reg't. Co. J. Moss. Vol. Camp Annapolis Oct 26, 1861

Dear Brother

I now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and well we are stationed on the railroad 10 miles from Annapolis to guard the railroad track to keep it from bing torn up I site here and hear the canons roar and it makes me feel bad becaus I cannot be a helping them but we may have a chance to before long we hope to at least have sent you 2 or 3 papers and shall send you some more along I wish you would send me a few papers for I should like to hear the news at north write and let me know how the old folks get along give my to Jane and the children and keep a share for yourself. This is from your Brother. J. P. Whiple



Boston Evening Transcript, October 12, 1861


FROM THE TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT. Troops for the rent of war continue to pass this point in large numbers daily, with trains of horses, cattle, and quartermaster’s stores for the army of the Potomac. Within the last four days some 12,000 soldiers have been transported from Washington through this place for the port of Annapolis, whore a large expedition is now fitting out for service down the coast, said to be part of the force of Gen. Sherman, It is useless to inquire its destination. No one knows—at least no one connected with the division—at present. Some say it is destined for New Orleans, and some for Charleston, but if I might presume to guess, I should say Fortress Monroe. With the division I notice regiments from Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Michigan and Connecticut, all equally in the dark as to the place of their departure Yesterday a large number of officers parsed on to join the expedition, among whom I noticed many belonging to the force detailed for signal duty.

So we may be prepared for some now demonstration against the stronghold of the enemy, I under- stand some 400 more will pass to day and tomorrow. Often the trains bound South hold up at the depot to allow the Annapolis trains to pass, and it occasionally happens that regiments from the same state thus meet, bound in opposite directions, without either being able to give the de[..]d information as to their destination, though each one has a theory of his own, At any rate, Government so for has kept its own secret.

Our regiment has lost one more from own number by accidental death. Lieut. Stoddard of Co. F, from Upton, was shot by one of his own guard on Monday night of lust week. It is said he failed to give the countersign, when halted by the sentinel three times, and oven attempted to push by without informing the sentry who he was, The night was dark, and the soldier, by the name of H. C. Wester, discharged his gun, as was his duty, causing the death of the other in the course of two hours. A court of Inquiry was called, which resulted in his acquittal or honorable discharge. the suffering Lieutenant received every attention from the members of his command, with whom he was very popular, and from Doctor Warren, our regimental Surgeon, but he was past medical aid, and he died, retaining to the last his senses, forgiving and exonerating him by whose hand he fell.

This was another instance of trifling with the stern duty of a sentinel. His body was sent to his home in Massachusetts, receiving from us a soldier’s funeral. It was placed in the cars, while three rounds from those whom ho had lately commended formed the last testimony of regret that could be paid.

Our men, fresh from the farms and workshops of Worcester county, are fast becoming soldiers, under the instruction of Lieutenant Colonel Maggi, who commands at this post. BOSTON.


Boston Evening Transcript, October 22, 1861

Saturday P. M., Oct. 19.

LETTER FROM THE 21ST REGIMENT. Mr. Editor The busy notes of preparation for the departure of the Annapolis fleet are now sounding, and before this reaches you the expedition will probably be nearly ready to sail. To stand upon the shore and cast your eye down the Severn river, even into the Chesapeake, and see the fleet of vessels at anchor, furnishes sufficient testimony as to the great strength of this new “Coast Survey” enterprise. One fact was as gratifying as it was surprising to a Massachusetts man, namely, “the Importance of old Cape Cod In this war;” for on each of the vessels about to take part in this great enterprise, they have had to draw on that portion of our State for a pilot Each from the flag ship down, is, or will be, when they sail, directed by one of those hardy navigators from the ocean arm of Massachusetts, where long acquaintance with our Southern Coast fits them for the responsible position.

The “Ben Deford,” our Boston steamer, made her appearance in the harbor yesterday morning, announcing herself in readiness to take her place in the expedition Paymaster Pangborn is booked for duty on board, and I also noticed a well known Journalist from a Boston paper; so you will receive information from “on board” one of these days.

The 79th New York regiment Joined them today, thus ending the last hope which the 21st Massachusetts has entertained of being “counted in.”

Regiments continue to come from the North and West this P. M. we are looking for the regulars who have come from the Rocky Mountains, on their way to Washington. All who come through Baltimore speak loud in praise of the entertainment provided for them by the “Union Relief Association.” The first Vice President, Mr. William Robinson, who has charge, has won lots of friends by his devotion to his post. The soldiers who have recently entered Baltimore in fear, leave it in admiration, and for one, I have thus far received nothing to censure from the people of Maryland.

Yesterday we had a brief visit from Gov. Andrew, who at the same moment met Gov. Hicks, as each was entering the car. One was from the capital— the other was on his way to Washington.

The railroad from Baltimore to Washington has once more been enabled to run its trains on time, and I must say that in the hands of the Government it did not do its business “up to thine,” as it does now in the hands of the corporation; and I now receive my Transcript in 22 hours from _ BOSTON.


National Aegis, November 2, 1861

THE TWENTY-FIRST MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT —I met at Annapolis Junction an old friend—one whose acquaintance I had made when he was a non-commissioned officer in Col. Wardrop’s regiment, but who now worthily fills the place of Lieut. Colonel of the Massachusetts Twenty-First—Albert C. Maggi, late Sergeant Major of the Third. He has four companies stationed at the Junction, and guarding the railway. The strict discipline and the large experience of the commanding officer of the battalion have been of great advantage to the men, and nothing could be more pleasing to a Massachusetts man than the sight of such good soldiers. The men are somewhat disgusted with their new police duty, and clamor for active service. In the yard of the Naval School the balance of the regiment is stationed. Yesterday afternoon I saw the regiment on parade, and for one I felt particularly proud. There was a degree of neatness about the appearance of the men which spoke much in praise of the officers, for it is in the appearance of the men as to dress, which is the most prominent characteristic distinguishing the regular from the volunteer service. The respectability in outward appearance of the Twenty-first proves the officers of the corps excel where volunteer officers almost always fail—in frequent and thorough inspections. Yesterday afternoon the regiment was reviewed by Gen. Sherman, who expressed himself as highly gratified at its appearance. An exhibition of proficiency in skirmish drill was particularly pleasing.—Cor. of Boston Journal.


The Baltimore Sun, November 5, 1861

Two companies of the Twenty-first Massachusetts Regiment are at Annapolis Junction. There is much sickness in the camp, 18 of one company and 20 of the other being on the sick list.


Boston Evening Transcript, November 5, 1861

Saturday noon, Nov 2. 1861.

Editor of the Transcript Your paper (as well as many others) has reported that our regiment was with the naval expedition, which report has caused much uneasiness among the anxious ones at home, and many letters from those who have loved ones in our ranks. Such is not the case. Our Col. Morse commanded the post at the naval school, from which the expedition started, and had much to do with its preparation, but for some reason we were not allowed to join in its departure.

For the last twenty-four hours a violent storm, with very high wind from the southeast, has raged and will continues to, and much I fear it may retard, if not more seriously interfere, with the landing of our forces on the southern coast.

An extra train passed here this morning from Washington, with Gen Scott on board, bound for Baltimore and the North It is said that many from the Southern army have returned to Baltimore to take part in the election, which takes place next Wednesday, and it is the determination of the Union men to arrest them Two of our companies have been sent down into one of the Southern counties of this State, to keep order there until after election. Another portion of one of our companies, under Capt Richardson, has charge at the depot in Baltimore, and it seems to be the determination of the Government as well as the Corporation, to retain him there. Captain R being an old railroad man, his services are indispensible to both. The balance of our regiment is stationed at Annapolis, at this junction, and along the twenty miles of this railroad. I am indeed glad to see by your paper that efforts are being made by patriotic men in Boston in behalf of Capt Putnam, who so nobly sustained himself in the battle of Ball's Bluff. It is indeed a noble object for a noble man — for he almost unaided and alone commenced raising his company, when volunteer enlistment was very dull in our city. At that time the writer of this, in company with Captain P, visited a number of merchants on Contral wharf, who liberally supplied him, and he was thus enabled to complete his command Nobly indeed has friend Putnam repaid their generosity with his blood, and I little thought that morning when I parted with him, he so elated with his success, that although I was the first on the field, ho would be the first to suffer.

Those vessels blockaded by the rebel guns from ascending the Potomac, have since passed round to Baltimore, where they have been discharged and their contents transported to Washington General Van Vliet, of the Quartermaster's Department, having visited Baltimore, and inspected the accommodations of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, pronounced their facilities for the speedy trans-shipment of freight sufficient to answer the demands of the War Department At the railroad wharf they can discharge at the same time the some ten or twelve vessels, while the rail is enabled to transport two hundred cars per day. So that the loss of the navigation of the Potomac will be by this means much lessened, and the opening of the main branch of the Baltimore and Ohio road (which we hope soon to be enabled to report) will more than compensate for that water transit Of this great road to the West—“the home of plenty to the city of Baltimore”—I understand that about twenty miles of the road are to be rebuilt, with ten or twelve very costly bridges, which the hand of rebellion has destroyed, and the Company have now on hand more than one hundred locomotives and two thousand freight cant, Yours, truly,


Rutland Herald, November 21, 1861


Annapolis Junction, Nov. 11,

Editor Herald:-—Since writing you last, have been moved from Annapolis city to this place, which is about twenty miles from the Naval Academy,—but this morning we have orders to return to the city, the 10th Maine regiment taking our place, and the 60th N. Y. regiment taking their place at the Relay House.

There are now several thousand troops at Annapolis preparing to go in the expedition, now forming under the command of Gen. Burnside, and it is whispered among the men that the 21st Massachusetts regiment goes with them, but I think rather doubtful, as our Col. has accepted the command of the Naval Academy until Spring. The men are rather fast to go, but I for one had rather not go until we have different guns, the guns we now use being the Springfield muskets, such as the 15th Mass. regiment, had at the battle of Ball's Bluff. Our, Lieutenant Col. Maggie, is doing the best he can to get them, but if we are to stay here we shall probably keep these muskets.

We have been kept up two nights with our guns loaded expecting an attack from the rebels who went to Baltimore to the election, and now want to get back to the other side of the Potomac to go into their companies. They were allowed to come over to vote and are not allowed to go back, but the Union troops were allowed to come and vote and they returned to their stations the next day. The Union men have caged several of them and they are now in durance vile.

This county (Anna Arandel) has gone Union by a large majority. Considerable money changed hands here on election day. There was also a great deal of whiskey drank by the voters, consequently some swearing and bullying by the Peace Party men. Long trains of cars pass here daily. I saw one train of 45 cars all loaded with oats. Nine passenerger trains pass daily with from ten to fifteen passenger cars on each train, and nearly every train heavily loaded.

I find, that in about every regiment passing here there are some of the Vermont boys, no matter where the regiments are from. VERMONT.


Rutland Herald, November 21, 1861


Annapolis, Md., Nov. 14th.

Editor of the Rutland Herald:
the news received last night was of the most cheering kind. The report made to Col. Agustus Morse, commander at this post, was to the effect that the fleet had succeeded in all their undertakings, and there was a general rejoicing among the inhabitants and soldiers in this section. Our Band played Yankee Doodle, the Star Spangled Banner, and other pieces of a similar kind.

The statement in the Northern papers that our regiment (the Mass. 21sth.) had gone with the expedition, is not correct. We have been here at Annapolis for nearly three months, and I think we shall stay here until the first of April, at least that is the talk now among the officers of our regiment. We have had some guard guard duty to do since we came here.

There is considerable responsibility resting on the commander of this post. If the rebels could get possession of this place and the Junction, they would cut off all communication between the North and South, for the reasons that the Potomac is blockaded. Many of our men are sick on account of having such severe and laborious work to do when we were at the Junction (company A,) we were up night and day for a long time but now they have relieved us and the Michigan first regiment are there, and we only guard from this place to the Junction.

The expedition now forming at this place bids fair to be as large as the one sent before it. There are several thousand troops at this place ready to start as soon as the government get the vessels here. I should judge that they had forty thousand boxes of hard bread here now.

Our sick in the hospital are improving.
Yours truly, E. R. R.


Figure 1: History of the Twenty-first Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, Charles F. Walcott
Figure 2: private_henry_w_brown_letters
units/21st_massachusetts_primary_sources.txt · Last modified: 2019/07/02 12:47 by admin