ET Storms Perryville

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After the regiment had gathered at the station at 11, it was still another four hours before the train set out. The fog of war was in full swing by the time they left.  Caution was the watchword, so they stopped frequently to collect intelligence.  But they encountered only rumors at every stop.  While in Philadelphia, Colonel Lefferts of the 7th NY had heard that the railroad ferryboat Maryland was seized and destroyed.  Butler had heard the same thing but didn’t give it credence.  And thousands were feared to be gathering in Perryville to oppose them.

Butler carried with him permission to seize the ferryboat if necessary, or destroy it if he deemed it more prudent.  Butler toured the cars and saw to it personally that the soldiers loaded their weapons.  He let it be known that they may very well suffer many casualties.  He encouraged letters be written home and left with the conductor to be forwarded.

At one point, Butler ordered the train to proceed at top speed (30 mph).  And soon after came the cry of “Man Overboard.”  One of the men had become so frightened that he leapt from the speeding train.  He had stripped off his coat and shirt, and fled only in his trousers and shoes.  Not wanting to delay after an attempt to retrieve him, Butler posted a reward, and pushed on.  By this, the men learned for the first time their destination – Annapolis, for it was there that the reward would be collected.

An half mile out of Perryville, they stopped and detrained.  The zouaves deployed first, the sappers and miners behind them, and Company K to provide cover. Captain Devereux ordered his men at the double quick not waiting for the rest of the regiment.

What crowd there was in the sleepy town dispersed  at the sight of the armed men.  There was no opposition as they stormed aboard the Maryland. Nothing was prepared for them, the ferryboat was out of fuel and water and had no engine crew.  The regiment pushed four coal cars aboard, added water to nearby empty whiskey barrels and fielded a crew of twenty from their members.  It took two hours to accomplish these tasks and to load their baggage.

By 6pm they were ready to depart, and cast off for Annapolis.  The boat’s captain and pilot were the only employees of the railroad aboard.  Neither of them seemed friendly or helpful. So their loyalty was suspect.

It was fine night for April, but soon got very dark.

E T Hits the Big Apple

E T hits the Big Apple

A note about railroads of the period – they were wide-spread, especially east of the Mississippi, and the war would develop them further when their strategic uses were realized. But they were usually just lines between two cities, you would come in on one line to a terminal, cross the city on foot or some other conveyance to another station and then take another line to your next destination. It is this distinction that when grasped will go a long way in understanding how the events unfolded as they did.
E T and the Eighth regiment MVM left Boston from the Worcester station. They passed through Worcester, then on to Springfield. There one more company met up with the regiment – the Allen Guard of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They had come in on another train. The Allen Guard became Company K, assigned to lead the left flank of the regiment.
It was after 10 o’clock at night when the now completed regiment departed Springfield for New York City.   They travelled the entire night; a long sleepless night.
They arrived around 7am at the New York and New Haven depot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 26th Street. It was another whirlwind, with no time to take in the sights. The local hotels feted them with breakfast, (the Zouaves were the guests of the famous Astor Hotel). By 11am the regiment had reassembled in City Hall Park and marched from there through crowds of well-wishers to Courtlandt Street. At the river they caught the ferry to Jersey City.
The rumors about what lay ahead were growing.

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.