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Ta meeting of the regimental association of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, Dec. 13, 1892, the writer was, by a unanimous vote, appointed historian of the regiment. However unequal to the performance of such a task one might feel nearly thirty years after the war, he could not disregard an honor so flatteringly expressed.
In the preparation of this work I have attempted to give an accurate statement of the regiment's whereabouts on each day of its three years' service, with such details of its daily experience as would convey a truthful picture of army life as it appeared to the rank and file.
The opinions and judgments expressed are believed to be those shared by a majority of the regiment during its service. As we were no wiser than the rest of mankind at eighteen to twenty years of age, some of the statements may seem very crude in the light of present information. What we thought at the time, about events in which we took part, is of more value to the future historian than what we may now think about the same events or persons.
Elaborate accounts of campaigns have been omitted as not coming within the sphere of a regimental history. In those instances where an explanation seemed necessary for a proper understanding of our movements, I have quoted from books
which are generally accepted as authority, in preference to statements of my own.
The material placed at my disposal is as follows: The diaries of Lieut. William R. Warner, Samuel D. Webster, Lieut. Edward F. Rollins, Lieut. Robert B. Henderson, and Sergeant William M. Coombs. None of the diaries covered all the time, but those of Messrs. Warner, Webster, and Rollins were the most complete; those of Messrs. Henderson and Coombs included the Mine Run and Wilderness campaigns. Col. Charles H. Hovey made copies of such parts of all his letters as related to our movements during his presence with the regiment. The regimental books, papers, and maps were turned over to me by Col. Samuel H. Leonard. The "War Records" which are in progress of publication by the government have been of great service in settling disputed points. I have derived information from other comrades, whom I have met from time to time, chief among whom is Sergeant Jeremiah P. Blake. In addition to the material furnished me by Lieutenant Rollins, I cheerfully acknowledge the valuable assistance I have received from him in other ways.
At the adjutant-general's office I have received every courtesy and privilege I could wish. I have personally compared the name of every man in the regiment with the record in possession of the State. Where the difference was trivial I have adhered to the regimental book; in cases where there has been a considerable difference I have made careful inquiries before accepting either statement. As an additional safeguard against error I have submitted the record of each company to one or more members thereof for examination before
sending the list to the printer. In spite of all these precautions, inaccuracies, no doubt, will appear. About three hundred and seventy-five comrades have furnished me with a statement of their service, and that I have accepted in all cases as being correct.
It was thought that a series of maps showing the route of march of the regiment, the direction being indicated by arrows, and the relative position of towns mentioned in the text, might aid the reader. They were plotted by the writer and submitted to Sergeant Coombs, who put them into their present shape. While they reflect credit on his skill as a draughtsman, he is not responsible for any errors they may contain. It should be borne in mind that the maps are not drawn to scale, as such a labor was deemed unnecessary for our purpose.
In sincerely thanking all those comrades who have aided me in my labor, I ought not to forget the kindly services of Dr. Samuel A. Green, surgeon of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, who has taken a great interest in the progress of the work, and whose advice and assistance have been of great value.
BOSTON, November 1, 1893.
CHARLES E. DAVIS, JR.
NOTE. The design on the front cover is a fac-simile of our monument at Gettysburg.
THE present generation has no conception of the consternation that prevailed among the people of the North when the startling news was received that Fort Sumter had been fired upon. It aroused the patriotic indignation of the community to the highest pitch of excitement.
Up to this time most people were sceptical about the possibilities of a war. Threats of secession had often been made before, by politicians of the South, without being carried into effect. The feeling of hatred that existed toward the North was not fully appreciated except by a comparatively small number of persons. Although the air was filled with rumors of war, they were generally believed to be nothing more than the irrepressible mutterings of disgruntled politicians. Therefore, when the announcement was made that Fort Sumter had been fired upon, it awoke the public mind to a realization that rebellion and secession were at hand. Public meetings were held in every town and city. Resolves were passed condemning the outrage, coupled with an expression of determination to avenge the insult to the national flag.
Such a display of bunting in Boston was never seen before. Across every street, at the mastheads of vessels lying in the harbor, in the horse-cars and on express-wagons, and upon private houses could be seen the American flag floating in the breeze; and, indeed, every opportunity was taken to give expression to the prevailing sentiment by displaying the national emblem.
On the 14th of April Fort Sumter surrendered. On the 15th a telegram was received by Governor Andrew to forward two regiments, and on the same day the following communication was sent to the Secretary of War: