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Primary Sources for the 69th New York State Militia

New York Daily Herald, May 1, 1861


ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION, Md., April 28, 1861.

The Troops on their Way to Washington—The Sixty-Ninth Guarding the Road—Casualties on The Route—Arrest of a Secessionist Spy—Public Feeling in Maryland—The People Devoted to the Union, but Attached to the South— The Communication with the Capital, &c.

My last letter gave a brief account of the trip of the steamer which conveyed the Eighth, Thirteenth and Sixty-ninth regiments from New York to Annapolis.

The Sixty-ninth regiment was the first to land, which it did early on the morning of the 26th, and before the Twelfth, which had arrived a day or two previously. It was followed by a regiment of Massachusetts infantry, and by the Twelfth and Eighth of New York, and Thirteenth of Brooklyn. The Twelfth immediately proceeded to Washington, whither the Seventy-first had proceeded the day before. The Sixty-ninth, Eighth and Thirteenth Were ordered to remain at Annapolis till orders should arrive from headquarters. The Sixth New York regiment had landed the day before, and was quartered partly at the barracks and partly at a fort in the bay.

Amongst the casualties of the route, the most melancholy are the drowning of two members of the Sixty ninth regiment and one of the Eighth. Insanity is supposed to have been the cause. I shall send you the names as soon as I can ascertain them. The health of the troops is generally good.

An officer of the Sixty-ninth regiment today arrested a spy who was, under false pretences, engaged in procuring government despatches, and conveying them to the secessionists. This regiment also arrested yesterday some members of an independent military company of this State that attempted pass their pickets; but on being assured that they were on no unfriendly or disloyal mission, the Colonel release them.

It is not easy to express a correct opinion of the feeling of the inhabitants of this State. They seem to have some regard for the Union, but a strong attachment for the of the South. I have talked with them a good deal. They do not generally justify the attack on Sumter but they denounce more bitterly the course of the abolitionists within the last ten years. I think it improbable that Maryland will leave the Union. Her interest will be too strong for her sympathies.

The communication with Washington through Baltimore is expected to be open to-morrow. This will greatly expedite the transmission of news to New York, and you may expect to ear from me very soon. Tell the people of New York city that her soldiers are the flower of the militia, for good order, discipline and efficiency.


New York Daily Herald, May 3, 1861


We have the following from an informant who has recently returned from Annapolis:—

On Sunday afternoon, April 21, the Sixty-ninth regiment were ordered out to guard the railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction, and by nine P. M. they were posted in parties of eighteen, six and two. The officers had their quarters at the Junction, and a number of the residents of the surrounding country showed them the streams, roads, houses and farms throughout the entire line for twenty miles. By midnight they had built their guard houses, of fence rails and bushes.

During the night they saw one man attempting to draw the spikes from one of the rails, when, in accordance with previous orders, he was immediately shot.

Later in the night a pistol was stolen by a man who crawled up through the bushes, who soon being discovered disappeared from sight. A party of eighteen were immediately sent out in search of the thief, and in a short time they returned with him. Upon him was found the stolen pistol and several letters showing his connection with the rebel troops.

Still later in the night a suspicious character was observed prowling around; whereupon he was immediately arrested, and upon searching him letters containing valuable information was found respecting the movements of secessionists in that quarter.

The Sixty-ninth, in common with other regiments, have borne the hardships of the march and camp duty without a single murmur of expression of dissatisfaction, but have seemed determined to outdo their brethren in arms in their strict obedience to orders and their readiness to serve their country in whatever duty they may be called upon to perform.

On Monday afternoon two trains from Baltimore arrived at Annapolis Junction, but were detained by Lieutenant Colonel Nugent, of the Sixty-ninth regiment, until he could telegraph to General Scott for orders respecting them, upon the receipt of General Scott's reply they were immediately sent back to Baltimore.


The (NY) Sun, May 3, 1861

News of the 69th Regiment.


We have the following from an actual observer, and can vouch for the correctness of the news contained therein:
Sunday afternoon, April 28th, the 69th regiment were ordered out to guard the railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction, and by 9 P. M. they were posted in companies of 18, 6 and 2. The officers had their quarters at the junction, having with them a map of the surrounding country, showing the streams, roads houses and farms throughout the entire line for 20 miles, and by midnight they had built their guard-houses of fence rails and bushes. During the night they saw a man attempting to draw the spikes from one of the rails, when, in accordance with previous orders, he was immediately shot. Later in the night a pistol was stolen by a man who crawled up through the bushes, and when discovered he disappeared from sight. A party of 18 were immediately sent out in search of the thief, and in a short time they returned with him in their charge; upon whom they found the stolen pistol, and several letters, showing his connection with the rebel troops.

Still later in the night a suspicious character was observed prowling around, whereupon he was immediately arrested and upon searching him, letters containing valuable information were found upon his person, respecting the movements of secessionists in that quarter. The 69th in concert with other regiments have borne the hardships of the march and camp duty, without a single rumor or expression of dissatisfaction but have seemed determined to […] their brethren in arms, in their strict obedience to orders and their readiness to serve their adopted country in whatever duty they may be called upon to perform. On Monday afternoon two trains from Baltimore arrived at Annapolis Junction, but were detained by Lieut. Col. NUGENT of the 69th Regiment, until he could telegraph to General SCOTT for orders respecting them, and upon receiving Gen. SCOTT's reply they were immediately sent back to Baltimore.


The Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1861

ALLEGED SPIES.—The Northern press have a dispatch, purporting to be from Annapolis, to this effect:

A captain of the Sixty-ninth arrested a spy the night before last at Annapolis Junction, just from Montgomery, with important papers. He gave his name as Henry deGranval, a brother of the de Granval, of Hoboken, N. J., killed by a Cuban some time ago. I am informed at headquarters that he will probably be hung. A son of an influential family here is also under arrest as a spy. He opened dispatches delivered him at Washington.


The Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1861

Letter from Annapolis Junction.
[Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.]
The Sixty-Ninth Regiment of New York—Colonel
Corcoran—Entertainment of Baltimoreans—

Address of the Rev. Mr. Mooney—Interesting Pastimes, &c.

On my return from Washington yesterday, I was unexpectedly detained at the Annapolis Junction, and spent several hours there very pleasantly. Soldiers and civilians were curiously grouped together, and all apparently on the most friendly terms. The chief amusements observable were drilling, dancing and singing, varied by religious services.

I found here the 69th regiment of New York, under the Command of Major Corcoran, who is a gentleman of fine feeling and accomplished manners. His men were in excellent health and good spirits. They are a fine looking body of men. mostly young, and of great physical strength.

There were five or six Baltimoreans in company with your correspondent, detained here in consequence of the irregularity of the run nines of the trains, and as the government has entire possession of the buildings, track and ears, there is no chance of obtaining refreshments, except through the hospitality of the soldiers. As soon as Col. Corcoran, however, heard of our detention, he ordered supper for the entire party, and gave them a soldier’s cordial welcome to all he had, including good coffee, bread and butter, besides a bottle of Scotch ale apiece.

The Baltimoreans were also kindly received by the Rev. T. J. Mooney, pastor of St. Bridget's Church in New York, who is the chaplain of the regiment, numbering about 1,400 men, all Irishmen, well disciplined. Rev. Mr. M. is exceedingly popular with the men, and pays constant attention to their spiritual welfare.

During our visit he made an eloquent and very feeling address to the men, during which he called their attention to the fact that they were now on the soil of Maryland—a State noted for her devotion to civil and religious liberty, distinguished for her hospitality, and held in grateful remembrance by every son and daughter of the Emerald Isle, for the reason that her citizens promptly dispatched provisions and other necessaries to the starving people of Ireland during the famine of 181s. His remarks in this connection were strikingly beautiful, and elicited the profound attention of the whole regiment. The eloquent speaker closed his remarks by citing a song which he wrote on his passage from Ireland to the United States, in 1848, during the famine, intended to show the gratitude of the Irish heart towards the American people for their contributions to relieve the sufferers by the famine. As the song was recited all the soldiers and the band joined in the chorus. The scene was truly inspiring, and elicited the greatest enthusiasm.

The closing scenes of the evening during our stay consisted of cotillons and jig dances around blazing bon-fires, in which the whole regiment participated. A more whole-souled, joyous party has not been seen for a long time. Ont of the whole 1,400 men, not more than five voted for Lincoln, but they believe it is their duty to defend the capital of the nation. Towards the people of Maryland and the South generally, they entertain the most kindly feeling. They proceeded on to Washington last night, and the Baltimoreans parted with them on the best terms, all expressing the hope that civil war may be avoided, and peace and fraternity speedily restored throughout the entire country. R.


New York Daily Herald, May 5, 1861




The Sixth-ninth is Guarding the Road and Wires from Annapolis to Point Branch Bridge - the Attack on the Twelfth Regiment, &c., &c.


I perceive, by your paper of the 29th inst., that in stating that the government has taken possession of the railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction, and that every rail was guarded by a musket, you have neglected or have not received information as to what regiment was assigned that duty by Lieut. General Scott; and as the matter has cost myself and my command more that a little toil, which only those who have done it or who can understand the military labor, necessary, and which must be performed to accomplish the duty, can ever appreciate. I am therefore desirous, for the sake of the one thousand and sixty brave fellows who constitute my command, that we may be justice done.

I marched from Annapolis on last Saturday at half past ten o'clock A. M., in obedience to orders from General Scott, and halted at Crownsville for the night, and at one o'clock A. M., sent forward my Engineer Corps for the purpose of guarding and assisting the workmen in repairing the wires along the road, in which they were successful. Since then my men have performed the arduous duty of guarding day and night, the road and wires from Annapolis to Paint Branch, a space of some twenty-seven miles.

I would also contradict a report which I hear was published in your issue of last Saturday, to the effect that the Twelfth regiment had been attacked, and that a detachment of two hundred and fifty men from my regiment had been sent to their assistance, who had been repulsed with loss. The facts are as follows: - A baggage train of the Twelfth had been cut off by some farmers along the route, and a detail from each company, in all some one hundred and twenty-five men, with Captain Haggerty, were sent out to retake it. When they arrived at the spot they found the train safe, and consequently returned to camp.

Colonel, Sixty-ninth Regiment.


I do wish I had seen the HERALD of last Wednesday, to read the graphic account in must have contained of the crush and throng of the crowds who turned out to greet the Sixty-ninth, and the enthusiastic cheers and blessings which accompanied and followed us through the streets, on board the James Adger and down the harbor. I assure you the ovation was deeply felt by our gallant fellows, and though many a heart heaved at the thought of the aged parent, the loving wife and the helpless little ones left at home, yet, when cheer after cheer came wafted by the breeze as the vessel glided on her way the heart of the Sixty ninth throbbed with but one pulsation, was animated with but one resolve - that the glorious Stars and Stripes and the green flag would be ever in their hands the ensigns of victory or of death, and that they never would fall into the rebels hands unless over the dead body of the last man. “Another Fontenoy” was the cry, and “let our conduct be such that the outburst we received when we left will be but a shadow of that we shall get when we return.”

After we passed the narrows we sighted the Marion and Alabama, having respectively the Eighth and Thirteenth regiments on board. We also had the United States brig, Perry, twelve guns, in tow, and with this fleet we presented quite an imposing appearance. Occasionally the steamers containing the other regiments would come up abreast of us, and then three times three would rise from each deck, the three bands at the same time playing the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Hail Columbia,” and other patriotic airs.

On board the James Adger there was accommodation for only about one fourth the troops; consequently three-fourths of our men were obliged to take up their quarters, day and night, on deck, in the passage ways, and, in fact, wherever they could find a resting place, and during the night it was almost impossible to pass through the ship without treading on some of our comrades.

There were plenty of raw provisions on board, but a very inefficient way for cooking them, so that, though in the midst of plenty, we were in danger of starvation. Neither were there any medicines or surgical instruments provided, and the ship's medicine chest, very meagrely provided indeed, was the only resource in that way we had. Yet, in all our privations and sufferings, not a murmur was heard. Our boys had come to rough it and fight, and rough it they certainly did. Many raw recruits having joined our regiment, we kept up almost a constant drilling on board during the day. On Thursday, while steaming up the Chesapeake, we met many sailing craft, all of which displayed the Stars and Stripes. One schooner was inclined to keep “mum,” but the gallant little brig promptly sent a ball across her bows, and the immediate running up of “our flag” showed that the eloquent argument of Uncle Sam's man was effectual. The day was beautiful; and as we glided along the bay, the cool, piercing breezes from the southwest and all the attending scenes and circumstances causes every heart to beat happily, and the men went through their evolutions in excellent spirits. At six P. M. we arrived within about half-a mile of Annapolis, and there we ran foul of the buoy and got “stuck in the mud.” There we remained till next day at noon, the troops being meantime almost constantly drilled, and were then taken off by small steamers and landed at Annapolis.

I regret to record three casualties, two of which were fatal, two find young fellows fell overboard, and although every exertion was made to save them, yet they both were lost. Then an athletic young man, named Murphy, fell through two hatchways, and was seriously injured in the head and back. He was well taken care of, and removed to the hospital at Annapolis, where, I am informed, he is now doing well.

On arriving at our quarters we soon discovered that the accommodations were not of a convenient character; in fact, we had nothing to eat and were compelled to rest beneath the broad canopy of heaven. Yet notwithstanding those inadequate commissariat arrangements, the ardor of the Sixth-ninth was on that Friday evening brought to a successful test. Word was brought that the baggage of the Twelfth was seized about two miles from Annapolis and the question ran - “Who will volunteer?” The answer of the Sixth-ninth was instantaneous, “We will” A body composed of one hundred and fifty men, composed of Captain Haggerty's company A, and some volunteers, were chosen from the regiment, which offered itself to a man, and away they went with a roaring cheer at double quick pace for the scene of action. Although a great crowd was gathered, made no demonstration, and the baggage was allowed to depart in peace. On Saturday morning we were ordered to proceed and guard the rail track from Annapolis to Washington. Our energetic Quartermaster procured some provisions from the James Adger, and in an hour we were ordered on our way with our drums beating and colors flying. Although every man knew the partious nature of the expedition, and that the regiment was wretchedly provisioned and equipped, yet no hesitation was shown not a grumble was heard. On Saturday evening we erected for the night at Crownsville, a village of five houses. Your correspondent was awakened at dawn by the pattering of heavy rain drops on his face, and philosophically drawing his blanket over his phiz, again resigned himself to the “gentle influence,” but his thoughts were just merging into oblivion, when the reveille, with its continuous rattle, threw all the camp into a scene of life and bustle.

The Rev. Mr. Mooney, our chaplain, from the moment the James Adger left her dock, has worked incessantly for our benefit.

On last Sunday our camp presented a solemn scene, full of picturesque beauty and impressiveness. Our camping ground was on the side of a hill, rising from the railroad track. On the top was a farmer's house. In front of the fence which ran around this house a temporary tent, with a canopy made from our blankets, was erected and there, with the regiment kneeling in front, accompanied by many curious spectators from the neighboring farmhouses, our chaplain conducted religious services. The roll of the drum announced the commencement the elevation and the end of the mass, and the band played sacred music. During the services a heavy thunder storm broke out in all its fury, and then the roll of the drum, the music of the band, the flash of the lightning as it blazed over hill and valley, the deep muttering of the thunder, all rendered the scene truly grand and sublime. When the religious services were over the order to march was given and as we went we left detachments every little distance, as we had done at the beginning of the route the day before, and now, the regiment having gone two days' march further, the sentinels of the Sixty-ninth can see each other from Annapolis to Washington. No other regiment guards this road, nor have done so since we came on.

The people along the route, as far as I can hear, are very peacefully inclined, and say the reprehend the action of the Baltimoreans. I suspect, however, that what they say is through fear of us, and does not truly indicate their feelings, for the rails have been torn up and the bridges cut down, but were repaired by the engineers of one of the Massachusetts regiments. As this has now been made a military road, it is a hanging matter to disturb or obstruct it. I am told that we will proceed to Washington in a day or two. Full communication exists now between there and Annapolis, and trains pass both ways several times a day. Two regiments have passed on the cars going from Annapolis to Washington since we guarded the road. We scarcely apprehend any attack now, as the community in the vicinity of the road seem overawed; but if they do make an attack, they may rest assured of a warm reception.

J. L. K.


The New York Times, May 6, 1861


The following letter from Col. M. CORCORAN, of the Sixty-Ninth Regiment, received on Saturday by a gentleman of this city, will show the duties on which that Regiment was employed up to the day previous to its march for Washington:

ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION, Md., Wednesday, May 1, '61.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Pardon me for not writing sooner, but really, I have not had time to sit to my meals; and as for sleep, I assure you I have not had twelve hours since I left the steamship James Adgar, and these few hours were hurried moments on the roadside, with a wood block for a pillow.

The Regiment has had its share of duty to perform, and never have men done it more cheerfully, some brief notes may not be uninteresting to you, and particularly as I see by last Monday's Herald that the road from Annapolis to Washington was guarded by troops, and omits to say what Regiment.

The first duty we were called on to perform was on the evening of our arrival in Annapolis, when Gen. BUTLER ordered me to put one of my Companies under arms immediately and proceed to the railroad depot, to the assistance of the baggage-guard of the Twelfth Regiment, which he was informed had been attacked. I took a detail from each Company, making in all one hundred and twenty five, rank and file, and sent them off in double quick time. The rumor was unfounded, and they returned to camp quite disappointed, as they had confidently expected a handsome brush.

I marched from Annapolis next morning, by orders of Lieut-Gen. SCOTT, to take possession then of the railroad and defend it from attack and on Sunday evening, we were in possession thereof, and extending our lines twenty-seven miles, with sentinels all along at convenient distances, and having an officer and from ten to twenty-five men as a reserve on which the men on guard could rely. The sentinels are placed in groups of three men. We have the telegraph in charge here at this point.

With love to all friends I must close, as I cannot keep the train longer. I am yours very truly,


New York Phoenix, May 18, 1861

Letter from a Member of the Sixty-Ninth.

WASHINGTON, May 5th, 1861.

DEAR FENIAN—I would have written sooner than this but that we were nearly all the while on the march, and, until now, have not had settled quarters, When we left Now York, on that Tuesday, we did not reach Annapolis till the following Thursday, and had rather a rough time of it, sleeping on deck all the way, I got very seasick and, as a matter of course, had but little inclination to eat, which was very fortunate, for we had nothing but biscuit, and sometimes a little poor coffee; however, I was satisfied and got over it like a soldier, I will give a synopsis of our journey to Washington, but it will be but a weak attempt at the facts. When we arrived at Annapolis, on the 25th of April, we were landed before the regiments who left New York on the Sunday before us, and were then reviewed by tho government authorities and got some bad meat and cracker to appease our appetites. It was a scorching day, and we had to stand exposed to the sun for about four hours. We were then quartered in a few empty houses, which was a relief, but, eventually, it was thought too good for the Irish, and we were again ordered under arms to change our quarters; we were marched—(where?)—to a musty old stable outside the town to remain for the night. Being, shortly after, ordered out for inspection we preferred to sleep in tho open air, “with our martial cloaks around us,” the ones we received In Prince street (blankets). Next morning we formed in line, and marched eight miles under a scorching sum to a place called Brownsville, where we lay on the ground all night, with our muskets loaded, waiting for an attack, but, unfortunately, none occurred. Next day, Sunday, “we were again under orders for a march, to open communication on the railroad, which the insurgents had broken up. The regiment was stretched, one man dropping out every 100 paces to keep guard on the track and telegraph wire, till the regiment extended fourteen miles. This was a hard duty; the men of my section, under the command of Lieutenant Fay, kept guard for twenty-four hours without eating a bit or sleeping a wink—we having no relieve guard—in a wild, woody, marshy waste of land, not knowing the moment we would be pounced upon (Indian-like) by the enemy. Here we were for three days, when we were ordered for a place called the Junction, the head quarters of the regiment, and had to camp here, in the open air, under rain and storm, plenty of which we had one night, The Now York Zouaves, Fire Department, passed by on the cars, and many a lusty cheer Passed between us. That night we received the happy intelligence that we were to march to Washington. The Colonel—accompanied by Father Mooney, the Chaplain of the regiment, who is a regular brick—telling us that no man should lay a razor on his face, under pain of punishment, until We returned to New York, it ever we do.

While waiting for the cars in the village we had a great time of it. It was a regular Donnybrook, and were each served with large bottles of prime ale, bonfires were lit in all directions, the band playing jigs and reels. Dancing went on in all directions, in which the Colonel joined with all his heart. In the course of the amusement Father Mooney sang a song, composed by himself, something about the “Flag,” which was certainly par excellence; and, his hilarity increasing, he gave us the old ditty, “Come Landlord Fill a Flowing Bowl,” chorussed by close on 2,000 voices. Other groups were at different amusements, and everything was carrying on in the old country style, when the whistle announced the approach of the cars on board of which we all went, and, being tired, I fell asleep and awoke in the long-looked for city of Washington, at about two o'clock in thy morning, where we were quartered in empty houses, and remained so till yesterday, when we were sent to where we are now–the Roman Catholic College of Georgetown, a regular palace—where no regiment would be allowed to be quartered but ourselves.

The drum rolls for me to Divine Service, and I must away, we are put through the same as regular soldiers.

We do not know how soon we will be ordered to Virginia, which State I am now looking at from my window, with only about three hundred yards of water between us. Write soon, and believe me, yours truly,

E. J. O'D.


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