Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
    Home - Military Training Articles - Categories - Manuals - Secret Service - Sea Operations

New York Harbor Fort Schuyler Fort Marshal And Aunt Mag

During the first year of the war ('61) I remained at home, but I was
really ashamed to be found there when service called. Burdette was
already in the Army, and A. P., though equally patriotic, was compelled
to remain home to "fight for bread" for the family. I started to go but
mother restrained me; finally, however, Olive persuaded mother to
consent, and on January 10th, 1862, I began my service as 2d Lieutenant
in the 5th N. Y. Heavy Artillery. In the early part of '62 our Regiment
garrisoned the forts of New York Harbor. I was stationed first at Fort
Wood (Bedloe's Island), and afterwards at Fort Schuyler, where I was
Post Adjutant.

Fort Schuyler is a very extensive fortification guarding the entrance to
New York from the east, situated on a peninsula called Throggs Neck,
where there is an abrupt turn from the waters of the East River as it
enters Long Island Sound; the channel is quite narrow at that point. The
fortification comprises two tiers of casemates surmounted by a parapet,
and on the landward side barbette batteries. A first-class formidable
defence for the arms of those days. The interior of Fort Schuyler was
large enough to enable a battalion to form in line. At that time there
was under construction on the opposite, or Long Island, shore, on
Willet's Point, a fortification which has since been completed and is
called Fort Totten.

In May, '62, we were withdrawn from the forts in New York Harbor. We
were ordered to the front, to join the army at Fortress Monroe,
Virginia. We were assembled, taken by steamers to Amboy, thence by the
old Camden and Amboy Railroad to Camden and Philadelphia, thence by the
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad to Baltimore. We were
handsomely treated to a meal in the "Soldiers' Rest" in Philadelphia, by
the patriotic ladies. God bless them! We were transported in box freight
cars, rough board benches for seats. No drawing-room cars in those days.

On arriving in Baltimore we were loaded upon a steamer for Fortress
Monroe. At this point our orders were changed. Being a heavy artillery
regiment, we were ordered to garrison Fort Marshal (near Baltimore),
relieving the 3d Delaware, an infantry regiment. We were marched through
the city to Fort Marshal. Later we learned that the Baltimoreans dubbed
us the "toughest" they had seen. Our appearance was misleading, we

Fort Marshal was an earth work, a parapet with bastions, erected on an
eminence just east of Baltimore, commanding the harbor and the city. It
has since been demolished, crowded out by commerce and residences.

When we arrived at the fort our men were hungry, having had but "one
square meal" in forty-eight hours--the one the Philadelphia ladies had
given us, plus what was picked up from pie peddlers on the way. We
learned the lesson all green troops must learn, when inefficiency of the
commissary is shown. I volunteered to get feed for the men; the Colonel
accepted my tender. I went down to the city limits, pressed three wagons
(those deep box-wagons in use in Baltimore) into service, drove to the
Quartermaster's Department in South Gay Street, represented myself as
Acting Quartermaster (which was a little out of "plumb" but excusable by
the emergency) and drew three wagon loads of aerated bread and coffee,
drove back to camp, turned the kettles up and had the men banqueting
inside of two hours. Inefficiency was surely our Commissary's right

At this point I want to tell something about Aunt Mag, my "Star in the
East," who has ever since guided me.

Union people and the Star Spangled Banner were not so plenty in
Maryland. Not far from Fort Marshal I espied a cheerful looking house.
In its yard from a flagstaff was unfurled our glorious emblem. That was
the house of Aunt Mag. I fell in love with the premises, and very soon
with its occupant. Later on I was stricken down with that dreadful army
plague, typhoid fever, and I was very near to death. That house was my
hospital, and Aunt Mag was my nurse. I lived, and so here we are after
fifty years. Many friends have remarked, how romantic! but we say it is
just love. If the "Over-ruling Hand" was not in it, it certainly has
proven a fortunate "happen so" for our lives have so nicely matched in
the "pinions" as to have needed no other lubrication than love for all
these years.

The house referred to was the home of Thomas Booz (the father of Graham
and Curtis). He was a real "19th of April" Union man; and on that
eventful day he defended his premises with a gun. He was of the firm of
Thos. Booz & Brother, shipbuilders; also he was a member of the
Legislature, and was talked of for Governor. Their firm built the
pontoons that McClellan used to recross the Potomac at Harper's Ferry in
1862, after Antietam; they also built one of the first turreted monitors
(the Waxsaw), patterned after Ericsson's Monitor which fought the battle
with the Merrimac.

What do I mean by an "April 19th" Union man? Well, I will tell you: On
that day was shed the first blood of the war. A mob attacked the 6th
Massachusetts Regiment in Pratt Street, as it was proceeding to
Washington (April 19th, 1861). Like magic all Marylanders took sides,
one part for the Union, the other for Rebellion. Ever after the prime
question or test of loyalty was, how did you stand on April 19th? A
Union man on that day was ever after one. Families were divided. It cost
a deal to be a Union man there or in any of the border States. I have
often thought they deserved as much consideration as those who fought

In August, 1862, two companies, A and F, of our Regiment were detailed
to go to Harper's Ferry to man batteries there. There being a vacancy in
the line (in Co. A) I requested to be detailed to it, but my superior
objected, claiming I was necessary with my own company. I was not
permitted to go. Had I gone I would have been in that fight and would
have been in the Colonel Miles surrender, along with Joe Barker and the
rest. Joe's story of spiking the guns of The Naval Battery on Maryland
Heights, preparatory to surrender was always interesting. His story of
the four days' fighting, sustained as it is by Confederate documents,
makes new history. He makes it quite plain that the detention of the
enemy there saved us Antietam and perhaps Washington.

Next: Dramatic Incident At Fort Mchenry

Previous: The Harry Gilmor Sword And General Wallace's Comments

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network