The Correction

I will be halting my coverage of ET for a while. I have come to this decision for two reasons.

First, I have a major correction to make to a previous installment. In the ET on Chesapeake Bay post I had referred to Chaplain Junkin and to his being on the Maryland on the trip that the 8th MVM took down the Chesapeake.  It was a mystery that cropped up when I first recorded the events in my research. Certain accounts written by the midshipmen at the academy seemed to have placed Junkin aboard the Maryland at this time. I went with this understanding when I wrote that segment. But I had forgotten that not everything about the accounts lined up.  It was only through further research that I found accounts about Junkin that placed him on another vessel two days after the events I was recording. So back then I had solved this problem, but when it came to write about it recently, I had forgotten this fact, mostly because I have these events chronicled further down the timeline of my notes. So please consider it as corrected. I need to be more deliberate in my writings on this topic, so it may be better served to go with my original plan, writing a book about this historic time.

Second, I need to cut back my posts to once a week instead of twice, for I need the time to concentrate my writing efforts on a series of goals that I have set for myself for this next year. I plan to push to completion a play that I have been working on for some time, and ditto for a musical.  All of this and a spec screenplay to boot.

I may include a few status posts for these projects, and I may post my fourth screenplay in serial form, (a good portion of which came out of my research into these early events of the Civil War).

So stay tuned and Watch This Space.

ET on the Chesapeake

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So the Maryland and the 8th regiment MVM had cast off into the night and the unknown. An hour into their trip, they ate from their rations that had been issued in Philadelphia.  But before that the captains ordered their soldiers to discharge their weapons over the side into the water, a wise precaution to guard against any tragic accidents.

All except two of the weapons. There were civilians that had talked their way aboard the vessel, and General Butler had decided that it would be best to mount a two man guard over the one boat that the Maryland carried, to prevent a traitor from stealing it and reporting their whereabouts to any hostile forces ashore.

In my research I have run across accounts that claim that Andrew Carnegie also was aboard the Maryland on this trip. I am not fully convinced that he was. The future steel magnate and philanthropist, did travel via the Maryland when called to Washington to help form the Telegraph Corps. But communications signed by him seem to indicate that he was in Altoona, PA at this date. (I hope to be able to clarify everything in a future history).

One individual that I have identified with certainty who was on the Maryland at this time was David X Junkin, the then current chaplain at the Naval Academy.  He was returning from a trip north. His presence would prove fortunate for all of them.

With more than 800 members of the regiment, plus scads of other people, it all came down to one’s awareness, and it was pretty much limited by each groups’ familiarity within their own unit. With their supper eaten and weapons discharged, they settled in for the night. They bedded down on both the upper and lower decks to get much needed sleep before their arrival at Annapolis.

When they arrived off Annapolis at 2am, the officers let the men sleep on, and ordered the ship hove to, and awaited the dawn. Though with the coming of the light, the fog of war settled in with a vengeance, obscuring the true nature of the two forces opposing one another.

ET in the City of Brotherly Love

ET in the City of Brotherly Love

From Jersey City, the 8th MVM boarded the cars of the Camden and Amboy railroad. The officers passed through the cars, inspecting the men and their weapons. And admonished them to be prepared.  Along the route, people took impromptu holidays from their work to throng the stations to greet them and see them on their way.
At 5 pm they arrived in Camden and there boarded the ferry to Philadelphia.
When the ferry docked the crowd was so heavy that even the police could not clear a path for the regiment.  The crowd overflowed onto the tops of the buildings lining the streets. The soldiers could only make their way single file through the welcoming crush.
The people of Philadelphia were particularly glad to see the boys from Massachusetts because the news out of Baltimore was very scary. The Sixth regiment MVM had passed through Philadelphia the day before (one day in advance of the 8th).  So at the time that the 8th was in New York and New Jersey, the Sixth was attempting to pass through Baltimore from one station on the east side to the B & O RR on the west.  In the midst of their advance some street toughs with Southern sympathies assaulted them with rocks  and brickbats. When the dust cleared four soldiers of the Sixth lay dead.
And the mayor of Baltimore consequently ordered that the city be closed to the further passage of troops.  Zealots from Baltimore taking that cue went out and burned the railroad bridges leading to the city.
What was General Butler and the 8th going to do?

ET was an Orphan

ET may have left home, but Salem was a recent residence and it had not been “home” for all that long.  Danvers was his most recent abode as mentioned before, according to the 1860 federal census, but it is difficult to know how long he had lived there, though I do have a clue.  I just recently discovered that he was an orphan, and would have been since his mother died in 1853 when he was just thirteen. At the time of the 1850 census he was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his mother and her second husband Calvin Gilson.  His step-father re-married in 1858, so I am guessing that he was apprenticed to the cordwainer in Danvers sometime soon after that.  His mother had married Mr Gilson in 1848, three years after his father had passed away (I’m going to save the topic of his father for another day).
So arriving in Boston, he was not only returning to the place of his birth, but he was also nearby to Roxbury, the place of his formative years.  Though I am sure, those days to him belonged to the past; he had the excitement of the future before him.
Most of the 8th regiment had already reported, all of its companies so far were from Essex County. The SLI marched to the State House and there received overcoats and knapsacks. (ET and the rest of the recruits did not have uniforms. The only thing “uniform” about them would be these items).
While here in Boston the company performed various drills for the curious public.  As a result, the newspapers from this time forward would celebrate them as “The Salem Zouaves.”
They took their noon meal with the rest of the regiment and later received their standard from the Governor.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, after a light supper they “took the cars” to Washington DC with Brigadier General B F Butler in command.  It was April 18, 1861.

E T and Company J

ET and Company J

 I used the roster from the history of the 23rd MVI to create a database covering all its members. I did the data entry for it during my lunch breaks at work.

As I was involved in this task I considered how to go about digging up the same info for the 8th MVM.
Somehow I stumbled across a list of Civil War regiments online referenced with names and e-mails of their researchers. I contacted the individual, Carol Botteron, who managed the list and happened to have an interest in the 8th MVM.  She replied to me with a list of books written about various aspects of the regiment. She also asked if my ancestor was a recipient of the Minuteman of 1861 medal issued by the State of Massachusetts years after the war. It was awarded to all of the soldiers that answered Lincoln’s call out of the state militias after Fort Sumter was fired upon. I replied that I did not know and that perhaps it was in the hands of other family members.
She said that I could find a photo of one in the volume History of the Minutemen of 1861.  So a check with the library led to another order with ILL.
The volume had an entire chapter devoted to Company J. It laid out in sketch form the history of the unit, relating some highly interesting and startling revelations.
As an aside, about a decade later I had a round of e-mail exchanges with a researcher in New Hampshire who adamantly insisted that there was no such designation as Company J in the US Army. He explained that this was to obviate any confusion between the letters “I” and “J,” and had the further pariah status of being a “jinx.” Looking at this assertion and his cited authorities (all of a later date than mine), I chalked it up to a bureaucratic standardization after the fact, or a state versus federal understanding.  Whenever the members themselves wrote about the unit later it was always called Company J, and even the Massachusetts Adjutant General’s official report for the year 1861 called the unit by the designation “J.”
So E T was proud member of an historic unit. He was also that rarity in the Civil War, a Zouave.