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Primary Sources for the 71st New York State Militia

Brooklyn Times Union, May 2, 1861

Our War Correspondence. HEAD QUARTERS, 71ST REGIMENT,
Washington Navy Yard, D.C., April 29 '61.


SIR:—A copy of your paper having been sent to a volunteer of Company H, 71st regiment, containing a list of the volunteers, and thinking you are doing an injustice to some of the older members by omitting their names, I herewith hand you a true roll.

First on the list, are George W. Smith and Mancelia F. Rall, who signed the roll of company H. on the 10th of March 1857, and were on duty during the “Dead Rabbit Riot.” George H. Van Pelt, Olney Van Valkenburgh, and Edward E. Sweet, next on the roll, all who have seen services in the Sepoy war at Quarantine. Richard P. Strong, William H. Leayeratt, George O. Smith Jr, Samuel S. Sweet, Theodore C. Wallace, Alexander Grocer, Nelson Giles, J. F. Johnston, John Meserole, J. W. Vanderoff, Charles M. Wemmer, John Merkel, Wallace Gott, Robert Welch, Edward Hunt, and James Warner. Drummer Richard H. Hinson, of company D, same regiment; Horace Rugg, company E, Milton Hewens and George H. Porter, formerly orderly, now acting lieutenant of recruits; ensign Searles. Not wishing to trespass too much on your valuable paper I will give you a condensed report of the trip to Washington. The regiment embarked on board the steamship R. R. Cuyler Sunday afternoon, and headed for sea. We numbered one thousand men and accommodations for 200. Those that were not fortunate in getting a berth in the stateroom, or a bunk in the steerage, were obliged to sleep on the floor or on deck. The majority of the men were sea sick for two days, provision scarce, men on short allowances. Our rations were two biscuits and salt meat, occasionally […] coffee, twice a day. Arrived at Annapolis Thursday. a. m. Men very weak for the want of good wholesome food, particularly those that were sick. Friday, 3 1/2 o'clock, a. m., regimental line formed, blankets rolled on knapsacks for a forced march. Very warm day. Rest-step, without music. After marching 10 miles in sand, ankle deep, we came to a halt for rations, which consisted of two biscuits. After resting an hour, we took up our line of march for Annapolis Junction. On the march till 6 o'clock; halted for rations — Two biscuits and salt junk. There is a battalion of Secessionists drilling half a mile from us; and from all reports, anticipate an attack. The regiment prepared, formed square, and remained in his position for an hour. In good spirit, and anxious for a fight, particularly the volunteers, who are continually growling for a brush with somebody. At o'clock, p.m., slung knapsacks. On the march—2 out step. One of the companies detailed as skirmishers a quarter mile in advance of the regiment, with a bugle. Exciting march. The regiment advances, and halt by the sound of the bugle, Twelve o'clock p.m., still on the march. Men fatigued, marching through swamps, water ankle deep, and and six inches deep, and as heavy as lead. Two o'clock, a. m., still on the march, six miles to the Junction. In want of water, none to be obtained. Very long miles, particularly the three last. Arrived at Annapolis Junction 5 o'clock a. m. Men worn out but unwilling to acknowledge it. On the march one night and day with packed knapsacks and blankets rolled. Distance 35 miles and four biscuits, 2 at each ration, Company H quartered in a railroad car, half filled with rail irons. Unslung knapsack, (which weighed on an average 20 pounds when left home, now about two tons.) spread blankets and made the best of the morning, part of the Regiment sleeping on the grass. The secessionists have torn up part of the track from here to Washington, and a detail with Captain Miller started early to protect the road. Two o'clock Saturday a. m., started for Washington in the cars, without a sick or disabled man. The writer of this has given you the facts without exaggeration, and the Regiment to a man are willing to endure the fatigue and march to-morrow if necessary.

Your paper created quite a sensation when received here. The Williamsburghers are anxious for you to transmit a few of your papers to be read by the members. An old resident of Williamsburgh, Horatio Lord Nelson Ellison is with the 'Burghers to look after them, in case they are wounded or disabled. Yours respectfully,

Co. H, 71st Regiment.


The Sun, May 2, 1861

Letter from a Sun Volunteer.

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD, April 28th, 1861.

To the Editor of the New York Sun.—I will endeavor to give you some account of our doings since we left New York on Sunday evening. We embarked on board the steamer R. R. Cuyler, and sailed about 6 P. M., in company with the Columbia and the Harriet Lane, Nothing of note occured during the passage, tho weather was very mild and pleasant, causing little sea sickness, I escaping almost entirely. On Tuesday we arrived at the mouth of the Chesepeake, and sailed on to Annapolis in company with the Baltic which met us here. We arrived within a short distance of the city and cast anchor.

Our fare of chip biscuit and salt junk, with fresh beef occasionally, was not relished exceedingly by the men, nor were the feather beds of dead plank calculated to increase their satisfaction but taking things in a jolly way, they concluded that they were necessities of the case.

We landed on Wednesday morning at 12 M., at the Annapolis Naval Academy; my Company (D) was quartered in a small battery used by the Cadets for gun practice. Daring the day troops from Pennsylvania and Gov. SPRAGUE'S Rhode Island Regiment landed. I had a good view of Gov. SPRAGUE. He is a young man of twenty six or so, small size, dark complexion and wears glasses. The Regiment is commanded by Col. BURNSIDE, a Mexican hero, and inventor of the Carbine—that bears his name. A few men in each of the companies of his regiment are armed with these rifles.

We commenced our march for the Junction at 5 P. M. on Thursday, the car being used by some other regiment.

The men carried their knapsacks and marched, with two or three rests for refreshments, till 1 A. M., on Friday; this was an exceedingly tiresome march, but the men bore up right manfully, with very little complaining, On arriving at the Junction, we threw ourselves upon the railroad platforms and slept till 6 A. M. Some of our baggage had been left behind; the Colonel, with a squad of men, started back on a train to get it, but the railroad men had pulled out some spikes, which caused the cars to run off the track. This happily did no further mischief than cause considerably delay.

On the road between the junction and Washington we stationed guards of men to watch the track, yet with all our vigilance they placed a pile of stones on the road on one side of a bridge, and an iron rail on the other: the man who placed the last obstacle was seen and fired upon, but made good his escape.

We at last took train for Washington, but were forced to proceed at a very slow rate for safety. It took two hours to reach the city.

On arriving we were quartered in a part of the inauguration ball room, but were soon moved to the Navy Yard, a very important post. The yard, like all others is kept very neat; We have a part of the pattern loft (that is to say Co, D has) for quarters.

Everything is quiet, no rumors of battles, but a greater feeling of security among the citizens than has been for some time.

We have arrested some spies, and a secessionist was shot dead yesterday morning. This shooting occurred in this way: A man who professed violent secession sentiments was ordered to be arrested by a Sergeant and a squad of men; he barricaded his door and fired through it, hitting the Sergeant, who ordered his men to fire through the door, the man received two balls and died instantly. I shall try to keep you informed of the march of events in this quarter, Yours,

LOUIS W. FROELICH, 71st Reg't N. Y. S. M.


Sun, May 18, 1861

[Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun.]

New Battery at the Relay House—Military Movements and Encampments Around Washington— Promotions in the Army—Offers of Aid to the Government—Gov. Hick's Regiments Not to be Accepted, &c.

The construction to-day of an additional battery at the Relay House, accounts for the departure, last evening, by rail, of a detachment of the engineer corps of the 71st New York Regiment The thing looks as if an attack from Harper's Ferry is anticipated rather than one upon it.

The Michigan Regiment, which arrived last night, is dressed in close-fitting uniforms, like those of the 7th and 71st New York corps.— This is after the style of the regular army, whose experience is that reasonably close-fitting clothes, padded in front with cotton, serve to ward of bullets, while very loose garments do not.

The last of the New Jersey regiments went into camp to-day, at Meridian Hill, They are four in number, and near them is the Philadelphia Artillery regiment, acting as infantry; also, the New York Seventh.

The agent of Mr, Vanderwerken's stages contemplates extending the Seventh street line to the Park, where are same squadrons of cavalry. A half mile east of them are the camps of the Connecticut brigade, upon very sightly elevations. About a mile further to the right, skirting the foot of the rise to Glenwood Cemetery,is the encampment of the Rhode Island Brigade, who seem rejoiced in a change of position, though their quarters in the second story of the Patent Office were equally commodious and well ventilated. They take With them the conveniences for sleeping after the style of berths in steamboats, which they got up directly after reaching this city.

The vacancies that have been made in the army by resignations give opportunities for promotion to those officers who remain. Our citizens are particularly glad to hear of the advancement of Capt. Meigs to the rank of Colonel. Nor is it supposed, that because his duties Hike those of Gen. Mansfield, Colonel Franklin and others, have not latterly been closely continued to service in the field, therefore they may not exhibit superior abilities When called into actual service. Other things being equal, an officer of engineers and artillery is best fitted for a general,and therefore we may anticipate that the promotions in the regular army at this time look to commands of divisions or of corps d‘armies! When a general volunteering for wars takes place in this country, great numbers of persons who have received a military education at once rush to arms both at the North and the South. The experience of such men, as well that of those who have served in armies abroad, is invaluable, They are certain to be placed in responsible commands, while a crashing campaign or two will advance other who seek the bubble reputation even at the cannon's mouth.“

General Scott has consented to receive a Maine regiment here, being assured that they will be effective, from the word go. The idea is significant of what is expected of those now here and are to come.

A large number of Bostonians have arrived, upon substantially the same errand as that of New Yorkers recently here—namely, to strengthen the government by assurances of abundant supply of material aid.

There is getting to be a great number of strangers, not of the military,in the city; accordingly the prevost guard is enlarged so as to embrace whole companies of dragoons and infantry, who thread the city through the entire night.

I hear that Gen. Cameron has declined to receive the four regiments proffered by Gov. Hicks for the defence simply of Maryland and this District. Volunteers will only be received from the States for general service.

Gere Butler says that Mr. Winans was liberated by giving the usual parole of honor, &c.

Yours, &c, AGA.


Scientific American, May 18, 1861

The Seventy-first Regiment.


We glean the following account of the journey of the Seventy-first Regiment from Annapolis to the capital from the columns of the Washington Star of Saturday, April 27th:-

Yesterday afternoon, through the courtesy of Colonel Stone, the efficient commander in charge of the Washington Branch railroad, we were permitted to make a trip out to the Annapolis Junction, on the special train sent out for the New York Seventy-first Regiment. The train consisted of sixteen large cars, and carried out the Northern mail, a number of iron rails for replacing any that might have been torn up, and several barrels of bread, crackers, sugar, &c., together with a large amount of salt meat for the troops now daily arriving at the Junction. Leaving the depot about 4 1/2 p. m., with a rifleman upon the locomotive, we steamed out toward the secession region at a rapid rate. Everything was all right along the whole route, and there was nothing to betoken any hostile designs either upon the railroad or the troops. Just beyond Bladensburg we passed the first guard stationed to protect the road, and from there to the junction we were but little of the time out of sight of the gleaming bayonets of Uncle Sam's protectors. The guards seemed to be enjoying themselves hugely, and had fixed up neat little booths to protect them from the sun and the dew ; while as we darted over the streams we caught glimpses of some of the chaps who had gone down to bathe, and were having a jolly time paddling in the clear water. Having watered our steam horse at Beltsville, and given a cheer for a couple of loyal sprigs of Young America who lustily waved diminutive gridirons from the fence as we darted by, we soon fetched up at the Junction, where were awaiting the Seventy-first Regiment of Now York, a Pennsylvania regiment, and five companies of the Massachusetts Fifth Regiment.

The Seventy-first, with their regimental band, filed up to the train, and in a twinkling deposited themselves and their baggage therein. Nothing could be more interesting than the scene toward midnight. About the train all was quiet and still, save the measured tread of the sentries ; the camp fires of the other regiments flared fitfully up in the gloom of the forest; the plaintive notes of the whippowil rang out sweet and clear, mingling with the subdued laugh around the fires ; while now and then a 'signal rocket from the enemy would stream up into the sky from the adjacent hills, and falling in a glittering shower, vanish in the darkness. About 2 o'clock there was a sudden concussion, then a tremor along the train, and with a jerk that threw everybody endways, the boys woke to the pleasurable consciousness of feeling the train in. motion. This, however, proved to be nothing more than backing on to the switch ; and all hands settled down to Bleep until, just no the first purple blush of day dawned over the tree tops, the remainder of the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment fined in, and away we steamed for Washington. As we came down the track, the guards were relieved, filling up the platforms and the tops of some of the ears, and all reported right except in one place, where the guard had found, a few moments before, a heavy rail and a large pile of stones placed upon the track. As we neared the city, hate and handkerchiefs were raised by early risers.

The Seventy-first expected to have to cut their way through Maryland to the capital, and the first night took every precaution to guard against surprise. The front, middle and rear ranks each carried with them a bugle, with which to sound an alarm, and scouts were kept out in front, at the sides and in rear. Nothing occurred to interfere with their march, and their felt night was spent perfectly at ease. They express great pleasure at the friendly treatment received from

the people of Maryland, and believe if their motives in coming to Washington were fully understood, they could march through Baltimore unmolested.

The men are fine-looking specimens of the American soldier, their uniforms neat and clean, their deportment unexceptionable, and their powers of endurance admirable. They marched all the way from Annapolis to the Junction on two biscuits apiece, and only had two more for their supper yesterday when they got there ; and yet there was not, a murmur heard in the ranks, and when the halt was ordered, and the roll called, not a man was found to be missing. No stragglers or sick had to be waited for. This is an almost unprecedented exploit.


The Baltimore Sun, May 20, 1861


The Locust Point Encampment on Sunday— Arrival and Passage of the Fourteenth New York Regiment The Relay Camp—Return of the Eighth New York Regiment to Washington—Other Military Movements. The past two days have not been marked by any military movement of importance hereabouts, though each day had its rumor of bodies of troops en route for the capital, via this city. The routine of incidents at the Locust Point Camp of the three Philadelphia Regiments have not varied enough from those already published to recount them. The encampment was visited on Saturday by a larger number of persons than many previous day. Not less than 5,000 passed over the Locust Point ferry, while a fleet of small boats was continually passing to and fro between the ferry and the city wharves. Yesterday the rush of visitors was greater than ever, and in addition to the ferry and small boats, the barge Delaware, towed by the tug Tigress, ran from Bowly’s wharf every hour during the day, commencing at nine o’clock a.m. Even with this extra accommodation, the facilities for reaching the encampment were hardly sufficient to convey the visitors as speedily as they wished. At the camp in the morning the soldiers were employed in the tents washing and brushing up themselves, and no visitors were admitted within the line of soldiers, though there were some exceptions to the rule. Religious services were conducted in the quarters of the several regiments. By noon not less than 10,000 persons had visited the encampment.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon a special train from Philadelphia brought to Canton the Fourteenth regiment, Col. Wood, of Brooklyn, N. Y. The regiment left Jersey City at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, and arriving at Philadelphia, took the train at 6 o’clock yesterday morning, and arriving at Canton, Baltimore, on the northern shore of the basin, at the ship yards, were transferred to the steamer Georgia, Captain Pierson, lying there already fired up and waiting for them. As the Georgia steamed across the basin to Locust Point, where the cars of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were waiting to convey the regiment to Washington, the crowd of visitors at the encampment crowded down to the landing to witness the debarkation. This was effected in good order. The regiment numbered 1,000 in round numbers. Only part carried the improved Minnie muskets, but all carried side arms. The uniform is a blue frock coat, scarlet pants, and hat, with knapsack, haversack, and every equipment necessary, including a blue overcoat lined with scarlet. The personel of the regiment is good, but the men are mostly of medium size, and young. No demonstration attended their movements here. Their occupation of the train of cars was superintended in person by W. P.Smith, Esq., master of transportation, and the train departed at 5 o’clock, in charge of conductors Shutt and Armstrong.

Immediately after the departure of the regiment, a shower of rain commenced falling from threatening clouds, and a hasty scampering of visitors from the camp took place, each running his neighbor a race to the ferry wharf. The Delaware then lay at the wharf, and the rush to get aboard was so great that those in charge were compelled to back her off to prevent imposition, some persons, in their eagerness to obtain a passage, avoiding the gangway and money taker altogether, and climbing up some other way The ferry boat was also speedily crowded, as well as the small boats, and several of the latter were in danger of swamping, calling forth shrieks from the females and children. No accidents, fortunately, occurred. The rain did not continue long, however, and many returned to the encampment, where they remained until evening.

The rain that fell last evening no doubt rendered the encampment very disagreeable, as the ground on which the tents are located is low and full of ruts in some places. The tents are protected by trenches to carry off the water around them, and unless the storm should continue, things can be kept comfortable within.

The intercourse between the citizens and soldiers has so far been of a pleasant character.

On Saturday morning, at 10 o'clock, agreeably to orders from the War Department, the eighth regiment of New York evacuated their encampment near the Relay House, and were transferred back to Washington a train sent out from the Camden station, in charge of Messrs. Shutt and Armstrong, the military conductors of the road. The regiment numbered 850 men, and carried away with them their tents and other camp equipments. A part of the Seventy-first New York regiment relieved the eighth at the Relay camp, with the sixth Massachusetts regiment, Col. Jones, and the Boston Light Artillery, both of which bodies have occupied the camp from its organization, except during the interval of their occupation of the Federal Hill camp, Baltimore.

At one o’clock on Saturday, a message was received from the Relay House at the Camden station, by A. Diffy, Esq., supervisor of the trains, ordering a special train to be dispatched to that point, for the conveyance to this city of two companies of recruits, then on their march from Ellicott’s Mills to the Relay House. In less than ten minutes from the time of the reception of the message, the engine was fired up, and the train ready to depart. In thirty minutes more the train was at the Relay House, in charge of Conductors J. B. Thompson and Richard Armstrong, arriving only about five minutes in advance of the recruits, 105 in number, who marched up to the music of a fife and drum, and with a flag flying. Captain Reynolds was in command of the recruits, who are nearly all from the vicinity of Ellicott’s Mills and Frederick. They are to be enrolled into the regiment forming under the command of Ex-Senator James Cooper. Their term of service is for three years.— The recruits, upon reaching the city, were quartered at the National Hotel, the headquarters of the recruiting service in the city. The whole time consumed between the reception of the notice for the train and the accomplishment of its object was less than one hour and a half, a fair illustration of the expedition and dispatch which governs the transportation department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.


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