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In May, '62, we were withdrawn from the forts in New York Harbor.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

thought.



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

name.



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

battles.



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.





Mrs Key Howard A Lineal Descendant Of The Author Of The Star Spangled Banner Ordered To Execute Gordon By Shooting facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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