Ledar Arsenal
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    AAR: Rise of the First Volunteers journal

    I mainly stick to the 18th century, so I have never participated in a Civil War event, but I live 5 minutes from Fort Snelling and was able to borrow an 1860s citizen suit from Terry Sorchy. This was possibly the best First Person immersion event I have ever experienced. I knew very few of the people, so I still know them as the first-person personas assigned to them-- I don't know many of their real names.

    Here is the first entry of an AAR in the form of a first person journal. I was Pvt. Henry W. Lindergreen, who worked as a printer for newspapers in St. Paul and St. Anthony (now part of Minneapolis).

    April 14

    Arrived at Fort Snelling about 8 o'clock in the evening as the sun was setting. I had some familiarity with the place as I had attended the 1860 Minnesota State Fair held there last summer. There is a guard house just inside the gate where my name was checked off the list and I was pointed to the barracks across the parade to find a bed. There were still a few bunks available so I got an upper bunk. The one below had been staked out by my friend Henry Hoover from Hastings. Fellows arriving later had to make do with setting up their bedtick on the floor.

    There was a prodigious large pile of straw under the eaves of the magazine across from the Round Tower, and I was able to fill my bed tick. It was terrible cold for April, though, and the chimneys are in such poor repair that we were unable to have a fire in the barracks rooms. I had a quilt and two wool blankets, so was tolerably comfortable. With this unseasonable cold I have been wearing linen drawers and woolen drawers under my trousers, two shirts and two waistcoats under my sack coat and overcoat. When the wind is bad I wear a knit woolen cap instead of my hat, and I have a knit muffler and gloves.

    The long stone barracks building consists of a number of squad rooms connected by doors, each room with six bunks (three each of top and bottom) and a useless fireplace. The foot of each bunk has a shelf for our carpet bags and the lower ones make for a bench to sit on. The place is pretty dusty and in bad need of a spring cleaning.

    We pulled some benches in from outdoors and a couple rooms away some of the boys commenced to playing music so we crowded in to listen. There are a number of excellent players in the company, among them Ed Agnew playing banjo, David Abbott on bones, Henry Hoover the jaw harp and Glaser on fiddle. We had a grand time until Morpheus beckoned

    The only sinks that we are officially permitted to use are around the back of the barracks on the other side of the parade, and so a couple minutes walk. I must admit that when nature called in the cold of night I ran around to the rear of my own barracks and eased myself against the wall there thus saving a good deal of time out in the cold.

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    Further entries will be posted separately

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 2

    Part 2 of a journal of Henry Lindergreen's experiences at Fort Snelling

    April 15, MORNING

    A drummer and fifer played reveille in front of the barracks at six o'clock in the morning, somewhat before sunrise at this time of year. We had to throw our coats on and line up on the parade for roll call.

    A bit before seven o'clock we formed up again with plates and cups and were marched over to the bakehouse, where a contractor has been engaged to cook for us. The breakfast was nothing to write home about and there was quite a bit of grumbling among the boys. There was an utterly flavorless oatmeal porridge with hard bits of black wild rice and some pretty bad coffee. Not a lick of molasses or sugar was to be had, and if I had known we would be so poorly provided for I would have brought some sugar to the fort with me. I said, only half in jest, that I thought the army would provide us with sausages every morning. This began a general obsession with sausages repeated throughout the day by many of the boys.

    As it was too cold to stand around outside eating, some of us took our sad breakfasts to the guard house, where they have a large table. The Company A boys there as part of the guard did not seem too thrilled to have their room invaded.

    After breakfast, the company gathered to elect officers. We pretty much knew that William Colvill and Charles Powell Adams would end up as officers, being lawyers, politicians and newspaper publishers--men of substance and leaders in the community. They each spoke briefly and we made Colvill the captain and Adams lieutenant by ballot. We then elected 2 sergeants and 4 corporals in the same manner. Among them, Jefferson Benner was made the First Sergeant.

    We then got to work on drill, starting with standing and facing. The officers had copies of Scott's Infantry Tactics and they were learning it as they taught, stopping to consult each other frequently. One fellow in the company seems extremely awkward, but I think the rest of us will pick it up.

    After the first morning drill session, we went off to be examined by a surgeon and then mustered in to Federal service. A Dr. Potts and his assistants were installed in the officer of the guard's office and we were called in one by one to be examined and certified as fit for active duty. When it was my turn I found that it was not a very thorough examination. He looked me over cursorily asked a few questions and had me march back and forth across the room. It seemed more of a formality and, to tell the truth, the doctor seemed a bit in his cups. At any rate, I did not hear of any in my company being rejected.

    As each man left the surgeon, we lined up outside the stone building being utilized as regimental headquarters. When it was my turn to go in, I doffed my hat (having heard from some previous men that there'd be trouble if I did not) and stood in front of Captain Anderson Nelson, an officer in the regular army who was in charge of mustering us volunteers in. He had me raise my right and and repeat the oath after him phrase by phrase. A clerk then filled out the enlistment paperwork and had me sign it. I was now officially a soldier in service of the United States, albeit still without uniform or musket.

    After the entire company was mustered in, we drilled some more, working on marching. Then we lined up for dinner and once again marched down to the cook house. As bad as breakfast had been, dinner was worse. It appeared that the leftover burnt oatmeal from the bottom of the kettle had been resurrected as the basis of a thin stew with a few paltry vegetables. There was no salt or flavor whatsoever except for the strong burnt taste. The coffee was also worse than at breakfast.

    As we were forbidden to use the guardhouse to dine in again and it was slightly warmer we stood about next to the bakery picking at the miserable grub. A man came by carrying a heaping platter of ham and other delectables to the officers in the headquarters, which cased even more grumbling at the inequitable state of affairs. We could not find a morsel of meat (let alone sausages!) in our vile pottage, at least until we heard Corporal Abbott yell out a curse and turned to see him holding up a dead mouse he had found in his bowl. He then pulled the cook out of the bake house and started beating on him, with several other lads joining in. The remaining "stew" in the kettle was upset onto the ground and several bowls of the stuff joined it there. The sergeant then came running with the guard and Abbott was hauled off to the little jail in the guard house.

    The boys were truly frustrated with the state of the cuisine and we resolved to have words with the sergeant. I think that he realized that if there was no improvement there would be a full scale mutiny that would make this afternoon's Stew Riot of '61 pale in comparison. Thankfully he promised to take our plight before the regimental brass.


    To be continued...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 3

    Part 3 of my experiences at Rise of the First Volunteers:

    April 15, AFTERNOON

    Captain Colvill came to visit us and told us all that he had taken up the issue of the poor food with Colonel Gorman, and tried to assure us that we'd see improvement soon, and that he'd put in a good word for Abbott and hoped he'd soon be released from jail. After he left some of the boys wondered if we should go try to have "words" with the colonel ourselves, but others advised we take the captain at his word and give it a chance to see how things went at suppertime.

    Then it was back for another hour of company drill, and it was beginning to look like our daily schedule would consist of drill, then drill, drill, and drill, followed by drill and then more drill, with drill afterward. As there was a strong more or less southerly wind, instead of drilling on the parade ground we formed up on the north side of our barracks in the small area between it and the old post sutler building. Practicing turning by file, we circled the sutler many times.


    After this drill session, it appeared that there would be no improved dinner forthcoming and that we'd have to wait until supper, so I gathered all the fellows in my squad room and held up a gold dollar and told them "It's pickles for all my brothers!" We marched over to the merchant establishment of Eckart Brothers & J. van Boerum, which had set up a tent next to the Round Tower to cater to the regiment and all the folks who had come to the fort. They had a good sized barrel of large pickles, and we had one which raised our spirits considerably.

    Then, since it had been a few days since I had had a shave, I had Mr van Boerum shave my whiskers. He seemed and experienced barber, and I would have even had him cut my hair, but the second sergeant called a half dozen fellows including myself to a fatigue detail gathering wood and distributing it to the various fires.

    We took a tumbril over to where wood was stacked against the fort wall near the sinks and filled it up, then wheeled it over to the bake house, where the rascal cook seemed no worse for his beating. After dropping wood there, we proceeded to the officer's headquarters, where we filled the wood bin next to the fireplace, which seemed to be in fine working condition, unlike ours in the enlisted barracks! The room was full of activity, with clerks and adjutants busily filling out various forms. It made me glad to be a private in the ranks, thus avoiding the all that paperwork, but I wouldn't mind sitting indoors instead of hauling wood. I had seen that even the sergeants had company rosters and reports to fill out in a little office they had set up back in the barracks.

    The remainder of the wood went to the guard house, and it was boys from our company who were the guard detail by this time and had missed most of the drill that day. The detail of four privates with a corporal was covering the west gate of the fort, as well as the entrance to the regimental headquarters house we'd just been in. There were a few stands of arms in the guard house, so the guards were given muskets and cartridge pouches and bayonet belts, so they presented a somewhat martial air even though they had no soldier's uniform and we had not yet been taught how to hold a musket. They had them relieved at one hour intervals, but it seemed dreary duty, especially with the cold and the wind, and all in all I think that drill was probably preferable.

    Then it was back to drill, of course, and by this point the company was marching in a single rank formation, wheeling, and flanking. Afterward, one of the boys brought around a parcel filled with the best shortbread I have ever tasted. One of his relations had sent it to him and there was plenty so he shared generously. Martin Maginnis made some good tea, which got that taste of that bad coffee out of my mouth.

    At suppertime the fifer and drummer played "Peas on a Trencher" and once again we lined up for roll call and were marched down to the bakehouse. Hope and dread filled our hearts in equal amounts. Then we filed in, plates in hand and beheld, glory be, SAUSAGES! It appeared to the boys that I might have some influence with The Almighty, or at least the regimental brass, and some of them suggested that I ask for beefsteaks tomorrow. There was also decent sauerkraut and potatoes, and good white bread. The black coffee may have even been improved and there was a bit of sugar for it.

    I am learning that the military has a grapevine all its own, and rumors were flying around the regiment. One that had currency today was that the government would call on us to reenlist for a three YEAR term instead of the ninety days we had signed up for. Some of the boys were saying that wasn't what they'd signed up for, and besides, we'd most likely whup the secesh in less than ninety days anyway. I could tell that people were thinking "what if everyone else goes for the three years and I refuse? How will I look to the others?"

    As with the previous night, several of the boys set to playing music in the barracks, and we sang along with those songs that we knew. Officially, the fort was a place of temperance, but unofficially there just may have been a warming elixir passed about. We had a grand time, and as we began to wind down, Charlie Leathers and Martin Maginnis poked their heads in from the room next door and announced that they had a play to perform. They had set up a makeshift stage at one end of the room, with all the available lanterns lined up on the floor in the manner of footlights.
    We crowded in, filling the bunks and the rest of the room. They performed for our enjoyment, "Bobby Goes a' Fishing and Catches a Horse," which is the first chapter of The Adventures of Bobby Bright, a volume of upright, moral yarns for young people published a few years back. Leathers read the story aloud out of the book, while a few of the other lads pantomimed the actions and mouthed the lines. '"By jolly! I've got a bite!" exclaimed Tom Spicer, a rough, hard-looking boy, who sat on a rock by the river's side...' Probably not a story any of would have taken the time to read, but the resulting performance was filled with hilarity and a cracking good time was had by all.

    Sergeant Benner had the notion that our company should put on a little show for all the people who had come to the fort, and that we should do it after the Lyceum tomorrow night. As he had noticed that I am a natural born ham, he asked me to be the master of ceremonies, so I set my mind to thinking about the pieces we could do and in what order. Then as we made for our bunks, we looked through the windows and saw the snow falling outside. I surely felt sorry for the poor fellows who had drawn the nine o'clock at night to nine in the morning guard detail.


    To be continued...

    The text of the literary treasure used for the play is available online:
    Now or Never, or The Adventures of Bobby Bright, 1856
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19473...-h/19473-h.htm

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 3

    AAR part 3

    April 15, AFTERNOON

    Captain Colvill came to visit us and told us all that he had taken up the issue of the poor food with Colonel Gorman, and tried to assure us that we'd see improvement soon, and that he'd put in a good word for Abbott and hoped he'd soon be released from jail. After he left some of the boys wondered if we should go try to have "words" with the colonel ourselves, but others advised we take the captain at his word and give it a chance to see how things went at suppertime.

    Then it was back for another hour of company drill, and it was beginning to look like our daily schedule would consist of drill, then drill, drill, and drill, followed by drill and then more drill, with drill afterward. As there was a strong more or less southerly wind, instead of drilling on the parade ground we formed up on the north side of our barracks in the small area between it and the old post sutler building. Practicing turning by file, we circled the sutler building many times.

    After this drill session, it appeared that there would be no improved dinner forthcoming and that we'd have to wait until supper, so I gathered all the fellows in my squad room and held up a gold dollar and told them "It's pickles for all my brothers!" We marched over to the merchant establishment of Eckart Brothers & J. van Boerum, which had set up a tent next to the Round Tower to cater to the regiment and all the folks who had come to the fort. They had a good sized barrel of large pickles, and we had one which raised our spirits considerably.

    Then, since it had been a few days since I had had a shave, I had Mr van Boerum shave my whiskers. He seemed and experienced barber, and I would have even had him cut my hair, but the second sergeant called a half dozen fellows including myself to a fatigue detail gathering wood and distributing it to the various fires.

    We took a tumbril over to where wood was stacked against the fort wall near the sinks and filled it up, then wheeled it over to the bake house, where the rascal cook seemed no worse for his beating. After dropping wood there, we proceeded to the officer's headquarters, where we filled the wood bin next to the fireplace, which seemed to be in fine working condition, unlike ours in the enlisted barracks! The room was full of activity, with clerks and adjutants busily filling out various forms. It made me glad to be a private in the ranks, thus avoiding the all that paperwork, but I wouldn't mind sitting indoors instead of hauling wood. I had seen that even the sergeants had company rosters and reports to fill out in a little office they had set up back in the barracks.

    The remainder of the wood went to the guard house, and it was boys from our company who were the guard detail by this time and had missed most of the drill that day. The detail of four privates with a corporal was covering the west gate of the fort, as well as the entrance to the regimental headquarters house we'd just been in. There were a few stands of arms in the guard house, so the guards were given muskets and cartridge pouches and bayonet belts, so they presented a somewhat martial air even though they had no soldier's uniform and we had not yet been taught how to hold a musket. They had them relieved at one hour intervals, but it seemed dreary duty, especially with the cold and the wind, and all in all I think that drill was probably preferable.

    Then it was back to drill, of course, and by this point the company was marching in a single rank formation, wheeling, and flanking. Afterward, one of the boys brought around a parcel filled with the best shortbread I have ever tasted. One of his relations had sent it to him and there was plenty so he shared generously. Martin Maginnis made some good tea, which got that taste of that bad coffee out of my mouth.

    At suppertime the fifer and drummer played "Peas on a Trencher" and once again we lined up for roll call and were marched down to the bakehouse. Hope and dread filled our hearts in equal amounts. Then we filed in, plates in hand and beheld, glory be, SAUSAGES! It appeared to the boys that I might have some influence with The Almighty, or at least the regimental brass, and some of them suggested that I ask for beefsteaks tomorrow. There was also decent sauerkraut and potatoes, and good white bread. The black coffee may have even been improved and there was a bit of sugar for it.

    I am learning that the military has a grapevine all its own, and rumors were flying around the regiment. One that had currency today was that the government would call on us to reenlist for a three YEAR term instead of the ninety days we had signed up for. Some of the boys were saying that wasn't what they'd signed up for, and besides, we'd most likely whup the secesh in less than ninety days anyway. I could tell that people were thinbking "what if everyone else goes for the three years and I refuse? How will I look to the others?"

    As with the previous night, several of the boys set to playing music in the barracks, and we sang along with those songs that we knew. Officially, the fort was a place of temperance, but unofficially there just may have been a warming elixir passed about. We had a grand time, and as we began to wind down, Charlie Leathers and Martin Maginnis poked their heads in from the room next door and announced that they had a play to perform. They had set up a makeshift stage at one end of the room, with all the available lanterns lined up on the floor in the manner of footlights.

    We crowded in, filling the bunks and the rest of the room. They performed for our enjoyment, "Bobby Goes a' Fishing and Catches a Horse," which is the first chapter of The Adventures of Bobby Bright, a volume of upright, moral yarns for young people published a few years back. Leathers read the story aloud out of the book, while a few of the other lads pantomimed the actions and mouthed the lines. '"By jolly! I've got a bite!" exclaimed Tom Spicer, a rough, hard-looking boy, who sat on a rock by the river's side...' Probably not a story any of would have taken the time to read, but the resulting performance was filled with hilarity and a cracking good time was had by all.

    Sergeant Benner had the notion that our company should put on a little show for all the people who had come to the fort, and that we should do it after the Lyceum tomorrow night. As he had noticed that I am a natural born ham, he asked me to be the master of ceremonies, so I set my mind to thinking about the pieces we could do and in what order. Then as we made for our bunks, we looked through the windows and saw the snow falling outside. I surely felt sorry for the poor fellows who had drawn the nine o'clock at night to nine in the morning guard detail.


    To be continued...

    The book is online here:
    Now or Never, or The Adventures of Bobby Bright, 1856: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19473...-h/19473-h.htm

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    AAR: Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 4

    AAR PART 4

    April 16
    I left footprints in the slushy snow during my nocturnal Call of Nature, and when the reveille played at six o'clock the sergeant was kind enough to form us on the porch of the barracks building for roll call. Once again we marched off armed with eating utensils and found a much improved breakfast compared to yesterday's. There were raisins and sugar for the oatmeal, as well as more bread and some hard boiled eggs. No beefsteaks, though, so the boys jibed that I didn't seem good for much anymore. I did not bring any sugar to the fort but I did bring a little salt, so that was nice on the egg.

    The current rumor circulating among the boys is that instead of traveling east to the "seat of war" in Washington, the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment will instead be sent piecemeal to the three frontier forts (Ripley, Ridgely, and Abercrombie) in western Minnesota, relieving the regular Army regiment currently stationed there. The cry is "That's not what I signed up for!" However, we have taken an oath and signed the papers, so we realize that "they" can order us wherever it is thought most expedient. Abercrombie is judged the worst possible posting, being over 200 miles northwest on the remote prairie lands next to the Red River.

    Back in the barracks, Martin Maginnis was shaving some of the boys, a couple of whom, although they had been mustered as soldiers, did not look to have developed beards yet. I fetched some hot water from the cook's fire in exchange for a shave. Water was not as hot as it should have been but did the job. If I was to be Interlocutor at tonight's follies, I wanted to look spiffing.

    Then, as one may guess, it was time for more drill. Captain Colvill and Lieutenant Adams were now appeared before us, not in their citizen suits that they had been wearing before, but instead were resplendent in blue frock army uniform coats, which they had privately purchased.

    Said officers drilled us in the method of sizing the company (and themselves practiced the method of ordering the operation). After some repetitions we were tolerably smooth about it, going from a single rank formed at random, to a two ranked company formation perfectly sized to deliver cracking volleys.

    Still no rifle muskets to deliver said volleys, though, and our next hour of drill introduced us to our first arms: "Quaker muskets," turned wooden poles of about an inch and a half diameter and the length of a real musket with its bayonet fixed, nearly as tall as some of our shorter fellows. Each had pencil marks to represent the locations of the trigger, the first and second barrel bands, and the muzzle, where the bayonet begins. We set about learning the Manual of Arms, practicing going from "shoulder arms" to "order arms" and "present arms."

    "Roast Beef" was beat and we marched off for our mid-day meal. This dinner was a vast improvement over yesterday's miserable excuse, with a savory beef stew, bread and cheese. We brought it back to our barracks to eat it instead of staying outside in the wind.

    Then it was more drill, with the formed company maneuvering in two ranks. The officers had us wheeling in full circles, which made interesting patterns of footprints in the slush on the parade ground. The snow was melting away, but a stiff wind blew several of our hats clean off, and clouds raced over us with occasional flashes of blue sky.

    We got a good look at Company K across the parade performing similar evolutions under their officers. Said company is made up of Winona boys and the ladies of that town put together gray uniforms for them. We are already calling them "the Winona Grays," and I must say our boys are a bit envious of those smart uniforms and not a few are wondering out loud when we shall receive ours.

    A crew loaded and fired (without shot) a cannon on the parade ground. We are pleased to hear it as it just seems right that there should be a gun firing morning and night, but I think Captain Nelson is none too pleased about possible damage to some of the window glass on the post, which is in perilous condition already. We still want for a garrison flag to fly from the tall staff near the Round Tower--seems only proper that a military garrison should have such.

    Leathers and Maginnis spent their time between drills composing a new opus, and were asking the boys in the barracks for some adjectives to fancy up the scene. The Lyceum is to be held at eight o'clock in the evening tonight in a long room in the old officers' barracks across the parade, and it sounds as if every civilian at the Fort, of which there are quite a few, plans to attend, as well as those soldiers who will fit.

    Sergeant Benner says that The Powers That Be will not permit us to hold our show in the same room as the Lyceum, which I think would be preferable. Word is already spreading throughout the fort, and I hear that there is considerable interest and curiosity among the civilians. We have selected one of the rooms in our barracks which has no bunks, moving to the next room the bed ticks which some of our boys have set there, then moved in as many benches as we can fit. However, there will not be much room for ladies in hoops.

    More drill, practicing marching in a "lock step," where the ideal is to step directly into the place vacated by the foot of the fellow in front of you. We had practiced this the previous day and it's not easy, the natural inclination being to leave more space, making a column of men will tend to extend out too far from their correct spacing. The officers devised a trick to ameliorate this which we put into practice. Each man was to put his right hand on the right shoulder of the man in front of him as we marched and, by jolly, it seemed to do the trick after some repetition. I do believe that in this attitude we looked like a crew of convicts chained together, though!

    The whole company was marched over to stand in front of the Round Tower where we could have a group portrait struck by Mr. D.C. Rambow. We stood in our two ranks and a bench was placed front and center for the captain and lieutenant, and Colonel Gorman and Captain Nelson sat with them as well. I do believe it was the first time many of the boys had posed for an ambrotype. We stood for some time after Mr. Rambow set up the camera and then went to prepare the plate. After he came back and struck the picture, we were marched off for more drill, but the word came back that when Mr. Rambow developed the image he found that he had spoiled the plate by scratching the emulsion when he was applying it, so back we marched to try the whole process again. Nobody complained because, I think, everyone wanted the occasion preserved for posterity.



    To be continued...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    AAR: Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 5

    PART 5

    April 16, EVENING
    Once again we formed for roll-call and to march off for supper, a beef, bean, and tomato stew over rice. Not too much to complain about, but the boys in my barracks room and I did benefit from the remainder of my salt supply.

    At half past six we formed up with our practice muskets and marched over to the old commandants' house, perhaps the grandest structure at the old fort. After some waiting in the ranks, we were ordered to attention while a party of dignitaries came forth to present a regimental flag. As we presented our "arms," Mrs. Ramsey, the state governor's wife, presented the flag to Colonel Gorman and gave a fine speech, which is worth recording here:
    "To you is reserved a proud destiny. When the time comes that, from the source of the Father of Waters, you shall descend to where the fate of the nation is being decided, the solicitude and the love of the entire state will follow you. From this Capitol to the most remote frontier cottage, no heart but shall send up a prayer for your safety and success; no eye but shall follow with affection the flutterings of your banner as you cover it with glory. In your hands we feel the honor of our young state is safe. To you—and with firm faith—we commit its virgin and unsullied fame. When the troubles that now agitate the nation are past, when the Rebellion is suppressed, and when once more peace folds her white wings among us, you will return to receive that praise and gratitude which you have nobly earned; and, in after years, amid the avocations of your peaceful lives, men will point to you and say: “There is one who, when his country’s liberty was in danger, abandoned everything and rushed to her rescue. There is a soldier of the great army of freedom.”

    Colonel Gorman accepted the colors and replied:
    We accept this flag as the emblem of the cause in which we have unsheathed our swords, and, with the help of the God of Battles, we will never allow them to return to their scabbards until treason shall be punished, and this flag, the union, and the Constitution be vindicated and made perpetual. I now accept it in the name of the gallant officers and men of the First Minnesota Regiment, and most solemnly make the pledge to our noble young state, and to her people, and to our fathers mothers sisters, brothers, wives, and children—in this presence—never to surrender it to a foe until its folds have been baptized in our blood. We shall carry it wherever duty calls until it shall please a kind Providence to restore peace to our country and us to the bosom of our homes.

    Then he handed the flag to the Color Sergeant, saying “Sir, To your hands I entrust this flag. It will remain in your keeping. Bear it aloft; and, should you fall in defense of it, let your last words be: ‘Save the colors of the First Regiment.’”

    Marching back to our barracks, the captain halted us as he spied the colonel pursuing us at full speed. We'd seen that he was capable of some impressive curses and we wondered if we were about to catch his wrath for some error of commission or omission. As he came before us he drew his sword and saluted us, saying that we marched as well as regulars. Our "lock-step" practice had paid off!

    It was then time for last minute preparation for the Lyceum and our subsequent entertainment revue. A last minute appeal to Mr. May, in whose care the building had been entrusted, allowed us to change our venue to the Lyceum's hall, for which we were thankful. It seems he was obliged to lock up the building at the conclusion of the Lyceum, but he allowed as how we could be the "second half" of the Lyceum, and thus all were satisfied.

    The place filled up with ladies and gentlemen as well as most of our company who were not on guard detail. The Lyceum speakers were excellent. Former Governor Sibley giving an entertaining and informative tale from his days in the fur trade. Afterward, Mr. H.H. Taunt gave a moving and edifying abolitionist discourse. The boys all talk about whipping the secesh, but I think that many had not given much thought to the plight of the slaves, so this added another dimension to our sense of mission.

    When the Lyceum program drew to a close I invited everyone to stand and stretch for a few minutes while we set up. Mr. Rambow had lent us one of his photographic backdrops depicting a pastoral scene with a stream, perfect for "Bobby Goes A'fishing." When everyone was in place the sergeant greeted all the dignitaries and introduced me and so we were off.

    We started with President Lincoln's favorite tune, "Dixie," except that considering current events we took liberties with the lyrics and sang of how we'd fix the traitors way down south. The audience picked up the chorus right quick and along with the fine playing of "The Sheep Farm Orchestra" it sounded grand.

    Then it was "Bobby," this time performed with one of the boys wearing a horse-hide to play the run-away nag, and another in makeshift shawl and petticoat to portray the damsel in distress. The audience was laughing uproariously throughout. Then came a rousing rendition of "Oh Susannah" from the band, after which I introduced the next olio: "Now these boys are not only schooled in the classics such as "Bobby goes a fishing!" This next scene is an original work, composed this very day."

    Leathers then narrated a hilarious story of Davy Crockett, acted out by some of the boys and with a fine accompaniment of incidental music and sound effects from our orchestra. Davy pulled a raspberry pie from his pack and acted a very tender love scene with it, then a grizzly bear, our actor wrapped in Hoover's buffalo robe, appeared from his cave and wrassled Davy, until Davy finally tamed the bear by rubbing its tummy like a pet hound. Three times during the scene after a particularly exciting passage, the audience yelled out "encore," obliging the players to repeat that portion of the action again, to uproarious laughter and applause.

    We then finished with a new song, "John Brown's Body," for which I had recently received a lyrics sheet published in Massachusetts. The tune is from the camp meeting song "Say Brothers will You Meet Us" and is very rousing, and if I am not mistaken, will lend itself very well to further patriotic lyrics. The verses are simple, consisting of a line repeated twice and ending with "His soul is marching on," while the chorus is "Glory, Glory hallelujah" 3 times and "his soul is marching on," so the audience picked it up quickly sang it out along with the band and there was a great fervor in the room. We ended with three hurrahs and I could tell that the evening's proceeding had been a great success.

    Now it was my turn for guard detail until nine in the morning...


    To be continued

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    9

    AAR: Rise of the First Volunteers journal PART 6

    The final installment of my AAR:

    APRIL 16, NIGHT
    I moved my bedtick and carpet bag to the guardhouse and set up on the inclined rack running the entire length of the room. This long bed could probably accommodate ten men, but we had only four privates on duty, along with Corporal Abbott, who was acting as Corporal of the Guard. He chose to set his bed up on the floor against the back of the chimney for the fireplace in the next room. I was told to put on a cartridge pouch and belt with bayonet and to take one of the muskets from the rack in the room. They are old ones without rifling, unlike the latest and greatest rifle muskets that we hope to be issued.

    The corporal lined me and another fellow up and we marched out to be posted. The other fellow was placed by the door to the officer's headquarters (wherein we could hear some merrymaking) and I was posted at the large west gate of the fort. All was quiet and a bright full moon appeared between the clouds at times. Captain Nelson was giving a tour of the fort to a group of about twenty civilians and I could see their lanterns off in the distance. There wasn't much to do. I tried fixing the bayonet onto the musket, but it was the wrong size. For that matter, I don't think the musket was even loaded. I certainly didn't load it, and had not yet even been instructed how to do so.

    After an hour the corporal came along with Leathers, who was to relieve me. I could see it was them, but I made a great show of challenging them and wished we had set a parole and countersign, just like in a novel. Perhaps: "Bobby goes a'fishing" for the parole and "and catches a horse" for the countersign.

    APRIL 17, MORNING

    I caught a bit of sleep despite the thunderous steam engine of snoring emitted by the sergeant of the guard in the next room, and despite the colonel coming in and "borrowing" the corporal's tobacco. About one in the morning the second sergeant came in saying that there seemed to be a disturbance down by the commandant's house at the other end of the fort, so Maginnis and I were detailed to patrol. We buckled on our arms and walked around the inside of the walls. I noticed that Maginnis had his cartridge pouch hanginging on his left hip, with the crossbelt's round eagle plate in the center of his back rather than his front. Nobody had shown him how to wear the thing. By this time the sky was completely clear and the full moon was very bright. I went up on the half-moon battery and looked down to the river below, seeing that it was still very high, with water well up into the trees. I did encounter Sproat and Agnew leaving the sinks--the former supporting the latter, who looked quite pale. After making sure they went back to the barracks, I did my second stint. We were now manning only the front gate. The cold kept me awake all right, but all was quiet.

    Even back in the guard house after my stint, I was unable to sleep much due to the infernal racket of the champion snorer. At four in the morning one of the boys was sent out to start a fire for the cook so that breakfast would not be delayed and then stand by the fire making sure the wind did not blow any embers until the cook arrived. After a while I was sent to relieve him and the sky was becoming light by the time the cook arrived. At five-thirty one of the night guard was sent to awaken Sergeant Benner so that he could awaken the musicians in time to play reveille, so I began to see how the daily cycle of the army operated.

    I was again posted by the gate and could see the company across the ground forming up and taking the roll. They marched down past me to the cook and received their allotment of oatmeal. Then I was called in and got some of my own. Afterward I was posted by the officer's building door and watched the company go through their drill.

    Upon our guard detail being relieved at nine o'clock I heard the news that our company was ordered to make make way to Fort Abercrombie, and that we were to leave today! So the rumors were true, and we had drawn the most unenviable posting! I must admit that mine may have been one of the louder voices among the grumblers, but Fort Abercrombie might as well be Egypt as far as the war is concerned, and playing nanny to a herd of bison was not what I signed up for! Nonetheless, bedticks were emptied and blankets rolled up, the barracks swept out, and we formed up.

    A delegation of ladies came to present us with bundles containing many wonderful things which should be useful in out days ahead, including a nicely crafted housewife, patriotic stationery and postage stamps, handkerchief, and tooth powder. We also received encouraging letters written to each of us by members of the Ladies' Aid Society, and cookies were handed out. With this plunder in hand we marched out the gates, the colonel saluting us on our way out.

    All I can hope is that The Powers That Be change their mind and send us east, hopefully before we get too far...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Posts
    83

    Re: AAR: Rise of the First Volunteers journal

    Amazing!

    If you know the history, having read Moe, and Wright, and Lochren, and others, well, this modern-day recollection of our event - wow - read like the Real McCoy!

    So glad you had fun at our 19th Century gig..... And thanks for the personnel memoir - so different from mine in a totaly differeernt role..

    Jim Moffet

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