Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Hammonasset State Park Report
Hammonasset State Park
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May 5-6, 2001
December 6, 1864
near Tidwater, N.C.
I sit here with a pen in hand hoping to post you some words that you will find acceptable. The old Eighth is once more on the move across the tidal flats and coastal lands of North Carolina. The brigade is slowly moving about the peninsula here pushing the resolve of the remaining plantation owners int o submission to the Union. What remaining land owners there are have been or will be subject to raids and examinations, as the command here demands signed oaths of allegiance or their arrest. The main challenge to our activities here are the few rebel rables left in the area to consolidate their claims .The few companies that they have here are enough to keep us from sustained holdings of the domain, but certainly not enough to keep us in check, nor to push us out of the area.
With that as the back drop, I can tell you that we went into camp on an extremely sublime meadow about a half a mile in land from the beach here. The weather was very pleasant and warm, considering the season, and all here are quite content with the rations, the camp, and all the provisions we have been gathering from the country around us.
At dawn on Saturday, the boys of Co.A were all ordered from their bed rolls and into line with full gear. The morning roll was taken and an hours platoon drill was executed prior to returning to camp for breakfast. No grumbling was heard, and the boys got up their good meals whilst the Sergeants and the Officers alternately attended the mandatory morning meetings with the Sgt.Major and the Colonel, respectively. After our breakfast, Lt. Boucher inspected the camps and found everything to us satisfaction. This was followed by posting the colors, and a drill conducted by the Lt. himself. This included the normal left and right flank and proper firing positions for direct and oblique firing. Once again all were returned to camp, and a light dinner was had. All seemed to be in order for a relatively quiet afternoon in the gathering clouds and sprinkles of a late Carolina fall afternoon. After a morning dress parade, the Corporal was allowed to conduct the company in a platoon drill himself, and performed quite admirably in all respects. These events are all part of the requirements of the army to provide proper training and leadership for the officers and NCOs of the company.
In no time, the orders were sent to form the battalion and get ready for movements in our area. We are first company, the 19th are second, the 27th the third and color company of the brigade. The fourth company is the 10th, 22d & 25th Mass and the fifth is the 119th and 150th NY, 3 Maine I believe, and others I have not recollected. There were two batteries attached to the battalion, as well as a compliment of sailors here as a ships company. All of these troops are under the command of the finest Colonel Mark Adler of the 119th NY. We marched off to the east inland where we skirted the perimeter of a large plantation and mansion in the center of a large clearing. The batteries opened on a rebel breastworks on the far side of the mansion, and their guns replied. The battalion was brought up in column of companies. After a short time, the ships company was sent in as skirmishers, and the old 8th as the first company. The skirmishers engaged and held the rebels in check shortly, and we advanced in line of battle and met the rebels advancing from their works. The firing was hot and concentrated, as the other companies were deployed front and to our left. The rebels pulled some flanking maneuvers, and were successful in confusing the staff. The left wing was in confusion, and was trying to refuse the line, when another company of rebels appeared in our rear. At that point, it was difficult to determine which of the enemy to fight, so we were withdrawn in order, but the cross fire and the artillery laid waste to our lines, and few of any one company were at the rallying point. Seeing the fiasco appearing, the colonel elected to retreat back to the safety of our camps rather than continue the engagement. We marched back from the plantation, and reassembled on our parade grounds where the colonel gave his apologies.
In the meantime, the baggage trains had brought up much equipments from the shore, and we pitched right in to unloading the stores. Cookie prepared a great Wow of a feast for the boys for our dinners, and all were well satisfied. After the meal, we set out the stakes and employed ourselfs pitching shoes for a while of distraction, and had a good match. The Captain arrived from extended duty about this time with gifts for all the men. He was greeted, escorted into camp, and made to home hard by to the street.The evening was spent as most are after a battle, with the men sitting in little circles around their fires, contemplating the events of the day, and the losses it brought to us and the mens families. Most turned in at an early hour, knowing full well that the whole affair would be attempted again on the morrow, and prayed for a better outcome. It was a more December like night, and many a man was awoken by his cold feet urging him to get warm.
In the morning, the revielle was sounded at the usual hour, and all were turned out for the obligatory roll call and morning drill. The 1st.Sgt. conducted a short drill, and the Captain had his way with the men until they were once more sharp and crisp in every movement. This being accomplished, the morning dress parade was conducted by the Colonel, and all went well. The parade was followed once more by more drill, and then a short respite for a small dinner. Cookie had prepared a nice Pork soup for the men, and it disappeared with relish. The Captain was ordered to a saber instruction session by the Colonel, and a few of the boys wandered over to observe. It was quite a lesson, each of them flailing away at each other and the instructors with vigor. Back in camp, the Captain offered a small token to the 1st.Sgt. he had purchased from a local lady citizen. It was a fresh bar of soap, with a witness, and instructions to put it to good use for the benefit of all.
At about 1:00 in the afternoon, the long roll once again pulled the battalion into line, same as yester day, and we marched off in search of a success at the same endeavors at the plantation house. This time, the rebels were fewer, and certainly unable to halt the combined forces of the whole right wing which was put in. The 8th was in as a single company and had no trouble chasing in the skirmishers and pickets to the works. The rest of the wing came up and combined fire and advancing were the orders of the day, and the rebels did not put up the resistance of yesterday, although they neither did retreat willingly. Our command had anticipated the rebel flanking today, and it was squelched as soon as it started. It also seemed that the rebel guns were low on ammunition, since they were not brought to bear as they were before. The sum result was that the sailors were able to get on the rebel left flank and capture one of the guns, where a triumphant sailor could be seen on the gun with his rebel prisoners that could not make good their escape. The rebel band was also captured, and the rest of their forces scattered into the woods north of the mansion, not to be seen in these parts to date. The battle went quite well, and the Colonel posted a picket and outposts in the area to sustain his grip on the property so that it could not be used to support the confederate cause. The remainder of the forces were marched back to the camps, and the dismantling of the camp was ordered. All the equipment were rolled up and put on our backs or in the waggons, and we departed to the north in pursuit of the rebels. The march will be longer than a day, I presume, since all the rations were issued to us. We do not know when or where our next stop will be, but the rebel grip on this part of North Carolina is weakening day by day. Their reinforcements are not coming, since they are needed elsewhere, but the few left here still have a might strong will to fight yet.
All the boys have come through the past few days fairly well, with little but minor casualties. Cor. Bingham pulled a winner while on duty as the adjutants messenger. It seems that the adjutant sent him with an urgent message for the colonel, and so he turned and started to run, but his head collided with a low hanging tree branch. It seems that he was out for a bit, as he recounts that the first thing he noticed after that is that there were a host of pine cones on the ground next to him after his little nap. He seems to have come through well, but he is not quite right as yet. We will look after him closely for a spell. Some have been sent on to the regimental hospital, but are reported to be doing well.
Please pray that this war will soon be over, and that our Union will be restored. So many brave men have worked so long and hard for that victory. God grant us the strength to see it to its final completion, and be allowed to return to our homes once more.
Your humble servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.