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Primary Sources for the 5th New York State Militia

NY Evening Post, May 3, 1861


Colonel Ellsworth’s Regiment of Fire Zouaves, from this city, arrived safely at Annapolis yesterday, and proceeded to Washington by railroad. The Fifth (German) Regiment of this city also landed at Annapolis yesterday, and relieved the Sixty-ninth (Irish) Regiment from duty on the north side of Annapolis Junction. The Sixty-ninth is now stationed along the railroad track from the Junction to Washington, the squads being within hailing distance of each other. It will protect the line from further outrage.


Middletown Whig Press, May 7, 1861

Army Life—the 5th Regiment.

We are favored with the following letter for publication, from Asst. Surgeon D, B. St. JOHN ROOSA, of the 5th Regiment of New York Volunteers. It will be found interesting as giving an insight into Camp Life:

20 miles from Annapolis
Saturday, May 4th, 1861

Dean Father:—We came Here from Annapolis on Friday a. m., at about ten o'clock, having staid in Annapolis all day. Some of us getting some oysters to eat, some getting nothing. Annapolis is somewhat depopulated: those people who remain are, if I may except the merchants, sullen and quiet. Not an American flag is to be seen in the town, although it floats proudly from the Navy Yard, where are stationed about 5,000 troops from New York and Pennsylvania. Order is beginning to come from chaos; but never have I witnessed such disorder as was seen in the arrangements at Annapolis; no one in command, and every one assuming to be. The troops, however, are in good condition, with plenty to eat, though not all of them clad in the best manner. The Engineers are at work laying out fortifications, and soon they hope to have the town secure from attack.

This Junction has two houses, and here and there a farm house. We have possession of one, which the inhabitants gutted of furniture and left. Our Regiment is in good order, very little sickness, though men are camping in the open air, with rain for last thirty-six hours. No breaches of peace are committed. Everything obtained from the people is paid for; though not always the prices they ask, which are exhorbitant. Depend upon it, the people whom we see here are Secessionists at heart, but we see mostly the low class, and they are the most degraded, shiftless class I ever saw. The men of position and means are Government men, Our men are detained on the road to watch it, between here and Annapolis. The Surgeon goes down to-night to look over the men. I shall be detailed next. We have enough to do to keep us busy. How long we shall stay here we don't know; until relieved by an advancing Regiment.

The Zouaves of N. Y. committed some excesses while here and at Annapolis, and are acting still worse at Washington, The 5th Regiment is as quiet a body of men as I ever saw; we have had no drunkenness, no drollery of any kind, I met some friends at Annapolis, and continue to here, as communication is now fully established between here and Washington. I am well, and in good spirits, though I must confess to very little idea of a soldier's life. It is duty I am doing, and that consciousness sustains me, Your affectionate son, D. B. ST. JOHN ROOSA.


New York Daily Herald, May 7, 1861



The Trip of the Fifth Regiment New York Troops from New York to Annapolis—the Regiment at Sea—Hail a Pilot, but Fear Prevailed Upon Him—Little Steamers Suspicions of Great Craft— Fortress Monroe All Right—the Fifth at Annapolis—The Star Spangled Banner in the Ascendant— A Cold Night, but the Enthusiasm Nome the Less, &c.

On Sunday, April 28, the Fifth regiment, New York State forces, breaking up their camp on the Battery, embarked on two tugboats, and were transferred to the Cunard steamer Kedar, Captain Little—Captain Cavendy, of the United States Navy, having charge of the expedition, The officers commanding the regiment were Col. Schwarzwaelder, Lieutenant Colonel Burger and Major Von Amsberg. Staff—Adjutant Franck; Captain Engineers, Dodge; Paymaster, Steinway; Quartermaster, Fearing; Surgeon, Haase; Assistant Surgeon, Roosa. The whole number of men is 730, in good health and spirits. Almost every man composing the command was born in Germany, many of whom had seen service in the wars of their fatherland. The rain poured dismally down as we embarked, but the cheerful song of the troops, rising in glad chorus, showed how little it affected their spirits. The men were all armed and equipped, without a single exception, and had provisions and ammunition in abundance on board the Kedar. At six o'clock P.M the final order was received, and we steamed away from loved ones behind. Our boat was intended as a freight boat exclusively, and the accommodations were not as luxurious as might have been in the Baltic; yet we managed to stow ourselves away. The officers of the Seventy-first were on board, with their chaplain, going on to join their regiment; also, one of the heroes of Fort Sumter—Lyman. The officers were assembled on the quarter deck, a brief address was made by our Colonel, and the Fifth, in response to his words, pledged themselves to stand by him and each other under all circumstances. Captain Gerdes was the officer of the day. We were soon on the broad Atlantic; the waves rolled high, and a few became seasick. The morning of the 20th broke upon us bright and beautiful. About three miles astern we saw the steamship Quaker City. The day passed away without incident. In the afternoon, as we neared Hampton Roads, or were in, we hailed a pilot, and requested him to pilot us to Fort Monroe. He responded that he was a Baltimore pilot, and that Governor Letcher would hang him if he piloted a boat into Virginia waters. We then concluded to dispense with his services for the time, and soon the walls of Fort Monroe began to faintly show themselves. In the bow we had seen during the afternoon little steamer, showing the United States colors, but she seemed very anxious to get away from us. A shot was fired to make her heave to, but she made no response, and kept a good distance ahead of us. A boat containing some of our officers and a crew from the Steamer was sent ashore. A rocket was sent up from our stern, and soon the fort sent out a shot of defiance, as it afterwards proved. The harbor was in a state of blockade. All vessels are compelled to pass beneath the guns of the fort, and be examined. Our boat returned in a few hours, with the report that the little steamer had been afraid of us; hence her anxiety to get away. The boat first went to the Cumberland, and was obliged to lay under the leveled muskets of the marines until the commanding officer could be called, and the identity of the crew established; then to the fort, with an officer from the frigate, he meanwhile giving our officers the consoling news that one or the garrison's own troops had been shot by a vigilant sentry; and vigilant they proved to be—so suspicious that our Assistant Quartermaster Cary, the best natured man in the regiment, assured me that he stood in mortal danger of being shot, the sentry levelling his piece at him particularly. However, at last all were in the fort, and delighted the Colonel of the fort with the announcement that some oxen were to be landed for the benefit of the garrison. This was done during the morning of Tuesday, the 30th, and, leaving the fort well provisioned, well garrisoned, with the Stars and Stripes proudly waving over its noble walls, we started for Annapolis, and at seven P. M. we were in the harbor, and about five miles from the town. A boat's crew with Lieutenant Colonel Burger and Captain Gerdes, Captain Caverdy, and Quartermaster Fearing, were sent to the town, the sentry, not as vigilant as he at Fort Monroe, ran at the approach of the boat. Here I might tell you how we innocently frightened both the Fort Monroe and Annapolis garrisons, and this will explain the despatch to your paper stating that cannonading had been heard at Fort Monroe, and rockets seen of Annapolis, On seeing the rocket at the fort the whole garrison was beat to arms, and the shot sent to tell the supposed enemy that they were ready: and at Annapolis the same scene was repeated. The crew returned from Annapolis, but brought no order for as to go ashore, because no boat could be procured, and confusion seemed to reign supreme in the garrison. There were said to be five thousand troops in the garrison. Some of them presented a funny spectacle. They were clad in garments as antiquated as the days of '76, certainly, and some were not clad at all, but they were cheerful and anxious to do service for their flag. Gen. B. F. Butler, in command of the Sixth and Eighth New York, Thirteenth Brooklyn, and the Pennsylvanians, was here. May first dawned upon us on board the steamer. All day long we waited for orders to go ashore, but none came; but our drum corps and the songs of our troops beguiled the hours, and we patiently awaited the command to move. Night came, and our boat—but we must wait. when one knew. The stars shone beautifully, and on the quarter deck, with story and song, and friendly converse, the evening passed away; and in the cabin cards varied the monotony of shipboard life. Men in excellent spirits, very few sick, and those promptly attended to.

On the 2d our Colonel went ashore, and about eleven A. M. the Cataline, which had just come from New York, came alongside. The Baltic, with the Zouaves of Colonel Ellsworth, came into the arbor yesterday afternoon, and we saluted each other with hearty cheers, and dipping our flags. In a short time the first load of troops was landed at the dock in Annapolis, and the men reviewed, the roll called, and, awaiting the baggage and provisions, we halted on shore. Negroes and forlorn looking white men came down with oysters, cakes, eggs, &c., to sell, for which they asked awful prices, but which they got. A lager bier shop was discovered near by in Annapolis, and not all the guards could keep our soldiers from the Teutonic beverage. Annapolis is a peculiar town, beautiful in scenery and situation, streets narrow, houses low and ancient. A great many of the people have left, and those who remain, except the shop keepers, who are fawning and cringing—as mean a looking set of men as I ever looked on—are sullen in the extreme–seccesionists at heart, depend upon it, though fear now keeps them quiet. -Not an American flag raised in the whole town, not a cheer for our troops, not a word of encouragement for our efforts to uphold the Star Spangled Banner, which one of their own sons has made immortal in song. At about six o'clock P. M. the line of march was made, and we were reviewed in the grounds of the Naval School, and then proceeded to the railroad depot. The sidewalks of the town were filled with the population looking on our noble men, fully uniformed, armed and equipped, but the same sullen look on all. Peering through the window panes out into the darkness, on the bayonets flashing and glittering in the dim light, mothers held their children by their sides, and pointed at us as if they forgot we were defenders of their soil, and not invaders. Cheers greeted us once, and a glad smile went over the staff as the single manifestation came forth. At the railroad depot we had four hours of weary waiting; and then, with the advance guard of three companies and the engineer corps, we came on, and in about two hours we arrived at this point. The camp fires of the Sixty ninth were to be seen all along the twenty miles, and we were to take their places. The night was bitter cold; but with the aid of the United States Commissary, Lieutenant Bell, our men were soon in the best order possible. They had no covering but the sky, but the fire was at their feet, and warm coffee comforted them. The officers were quartered in the Annapolis Junction Hotel, a whitewashed, two story house. It had been hastily vacated by the owners, and now was regimental headquarters. The beds had been stripped, ail the furniture possible removed; but we had blankets, and soon were asleep, except those on guard. Major Von Amsberg, a hero of the Hungarian struggle for independence, was left behind with the troops, to leave them the next day at the stations, to guard the road, which rebels are so ready to tear up. Rain, rain in the morning—cold, cheerless rain; but not a murmur from the troops. Board shanties were erected for some of them, tents sent for, and we are prepared to stay until released by an advancing regiment. Colonel John U. McCun has charge of the railroad—now a military one, This morning the rain continues. The Major came in, wet, tired, sleepy and hungry from his labors. Our troops are posted; very few sick—none dangerously. We had the prospect of a fight off Fort Monroe. Men were ready to lead; volunteer captains and lieutenants chosen, but the rebels had erected no batteries, and we had no work. Awaiting orders, the Fifth regiment are here. ONE OF THE OFFICERS.


Valley Spirit, May 8, 1861

From Annapolis.


One company of Rhode Island artillery and the Fifth New York regiment have arrived, but are not yet landed


Evening Star, May 13, 1861


AFFAIRS AT THE RELAY HOUSE ALONG THE ROAD. The Encampments– The Centrifugal Gun-— Other Trophies — Flag Presentation— Accidents and Incidents.—-Going out on a trip to the House yesterday we found four companies of the Second New Jersey regiment at Beltsville, where they have been stationed for the last week, killing time the best way they can, and quite unmolested by the redoubtable “Vansville Rangers.” At Annapolis Junction was the advance guard, 400 strong, of the Twentieth (Ulster county) New York regiment, which, on last night, relieved the Fifth New York regiment from duty on the Annapolis road. They were licking their chops over an arrival of fresh beef to vary their salt junk fare, and as they had not then (noon) breakfasted were posing to save time by throwing breakfast and dinner into one. The Twentieth had a novel coffee-mill in operation—i. e., a sackfull of burnt coffee horsed upon a log and mauled with clubs until adequately pulverized. The Twentieth regiment left Annapolis at 2 o'clock on Saturday. The regiment numbers some 830 men under Col. Geo. W. Pratt. The regiment is made up of solid men, and what is quite as much to the purpose, has more than an average number of good marksmen in its membership. They left the Thirteenth New York regiment and the New York artillery at Annapolis.

Nearing the Relay House the white tents(116 in number) of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment encampment stick out quite prominently against the sky, perched as they are upon the apex of the commanding bluff at this (western) end of the viaduct. From the eastern face of this bluff two brass barkers (6-pounders) show their teeth from the openings of an earthwork, and are placed so as to rake the bridge and the railroad beyond, in the direction of Baltimore, for perhaps a mile. In throwing up this work the Massachusetts boys had another capital opportunity of showing their many-sided capabilities, as the task required not only some hard digging, but a big Job of tree-felling to get range for the guns. The whole work was effected, however, in a few hours' time. Upon the summit of the hill are two 6-pounders, to be used where emergency may require.

Across the Patapsco, and in a position to command the Baltimore and Ohio road in the direction of Ellicott's Mills, are the other two guns of the six belonging to the Boston Light Artillery. They are protected by a sort of sand battery—a superstructure of railroad sleepers, banked with sand and topped with sand bags. This artillery company is of well trained material, having been in existence since 1851, numbers 106 men, and has along 83 serviceable horses brought from Boston.

The New York Eighth Regiment are encamped on the west side of the Patapsco, not far distant from the encampment of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment.

On Saturday night the troops at the Relay slept with one eye open in consequence of rumors of an attack, and during the night some gun firing in the direction of the Eighth Regiment encampment brought the Massachusetts Sixth swarming from their tents like so many bees. The affair proved to be nothing more serious than a little random firing at a troublesome dog.

The steam gun captured at Ellicott's Mills, on its way to Harper's Ferry, is one of the lions of the Massachusetts camp. It is an odd-looking concern, bearing not a single indication to the unpracticed eye of its murderous purpose. Through the intelligent aid of Capt. Pickering, who seems to know what's what about most sorts of machinery, we obtained some sort of a notion how the thing was worked. The whole concern, which weighs perhaps five tons, is mounted on wheels. Externally, it has the appearance of a small two horse power engine at one end, and at the other runs off into a sharp nose, not unlike an end of the Winan's cigar steamer. This nose, however, which is merely the sheath to protect the machine and its operatives, is constructed of 1 1/2 inch iron; and the expectation of the inventor was, apparently, that balls aimed at it would glance off harmlessly. In the opinion of those conversant with such matters, a Minie ball would penetrate this sheath, while a 6-pound ball would of course knock the whole thing into a cocked hat. This pointed sheath or covering 1s divided nearly its whole length by a slit three inches in width, affording an opening for the discharges of the gun. With this mouthlike slit dividing the sheath into ponderous jaws, and stretching from ear to ear, the affair has the look of some devilish shark-nosed sea monster. Peering in at this opening not much is to be seen beyond a few cog-wheels and a bit of mild looking cylinder, which, however, is the mouthpiece of the centrifugal wheel, which, revolving at the tremendous rate of 350 times per minute, flings out a three-ounce ball at each revolution.

The Massachusetts folks think the machine does not amount to much, its unwieldiness being a fatal objection. If placed to command a narrow passage. it might, however, do good service. Capt. Pickering says they will give it a trial to-day, anyhow, to test its merits. The report that the machine was boxed up or disguised in any way when seized is untrue. The scouts of the U. S. forces having ascertained that it was on its way to Ellicott's Mills, a detachment was sent up from the relay House to intercept it; and Captain Hear, of Gen. Butler's staff, who was in advance of the detachment, found the gun in charge of two drivers of the mule team and two persons in a buggy. Capt Hear, drawing his pistols, demanded the surrender of the gun, which was acceded to by the drivers. One of the persons in the buggy, however, leaped down and demanded by what authority the arrest was made. Capt H. responded, “By the same authority by which I now arrest you,” and seized his man, who turned out to be a Mr Bradford, of Baltimore. The other party in the buggy made good his escape. Bradford admitted that the purpose was to send the gun to Harper's Ferry. He and the mule drivers were sent to Annapolis as prisoners, but the latter have since been released.

The Massachusett's camp has some other trophies. Yesterday morning a detachment of the Sixth Regiment, under Capt Sawtelle, intercepted a quantity of military cloth, &c.,at Elysville, above Ellicott's Mills, which had been sent by turnpike from Baltimore, on its way to the Virginia army. In this lot were about 5,000 yards of the style of cloth called Virginia homespun, and accompanying it was a specimen military overcoat of the same material, the buttons of which bore the Virginia coat of arms. The motto Sic Semper Tyrannis, &c. A quantity of military blankets were also seized in this lot. In the same tent where this secession overcoat is suspended we noticed the blood-stained and bullet-pierced coat worn by young Whitney, of this Regiment, who was killed in Baltimore.

By the way, there was a flag presentation at this camp on Saturday, the donors being the Ranter's American Club, of the Eighth Ward, Baltimore, who came to the camp in omnibuses. Lieutenant Dunning, of Company K, of Boston introduced them, in a neat little speech. to Maj Watson, who replied in telling style in behalf of the regiment saying, amongst other things, that Baltimore presented her rough and her smooth side to the Sixth Regiment, and this was the pleasant side.

He hoped this more agreeable style of acquaintanceship might be extended.


units/5th_new_york_state_militia_sources.txt · Last modified: 2019/06/05 18:12 by admin