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"THEN LET THE HURRICANES ROAR"

Chapter I

 “THE LEAVE TAKING”

  It was hot mid July the summer of 1862. In the peaceful farming village of Centerville, New Jersey, the talk among the townspeople was the latest news regarding the War Between the States. There were rumors the Confederates were planning a second attempt to capture the City of Washington. Everyone was alarmed at the prospects if these rumors proved to be true. 

The seriousness of the Civil War intensified. President Lincoln made his third call for troops. The young men of the north and south joined their respective armies and went off to fight. The war would affect every small town in the country and Centerville, New Jersey was to be no exception.

On July l9, 1862 there appeared in the Newark Daily Advertiser, a leading newspaper in the city of Newark, New Jersey, the following advertisement:

 

"Rally ‑ Rally ‑ Rally

Company D 13th Regiment

New Jersey Volunteers ‑ Col. Carman

 

The subscriber, having received authority to raise Company D, of the 13th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers is now enlisting good men between the ages of 18 and 45 years at 305 Broad Street, and No. 1 Ferry Street. It is desired that this company shall be composed, as nearly as can be, of men of the character, which will make the society in camp as pleasant as that of our home circles. Let good men, who love their country, rally to the support of our glorious flag which traitors are seeking to trample in the dust."

 

George A. Beardsley

Recruiting Officer


Among those men who were to answer this call to raise Company D of the 13th Regiment was a young man named George R. Harrison.

George R. Harrison was born in Centerville, New Jersey, on the Fourth of July 1844. He was the second eldest of four children born to Rufus F. and Harriet Harrison. George Harrison had an older brother by two years, William Henry Harrison, named after the former popular President, and two younger brothers, Amos; aged 16, and Frederick; aged 8. There was also a sister named Clara; aged 10.

George and his brother William Henry often discussed the war with their father Rufus. George was determined to join the Union Army, whereas William Henry wanted to remain in Centerville working as a farmer and country merchant. After several weeks of consideration George told his father and family of his plans and asked their approval. He knew his father would not refuse his request to defend his country. George's great grandfather, Joseph Harrison, had fought against the British in the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey. The request made by George was clearly understood by his father. He would let his son go off to serve the country; it was in his blood.

On the morning of Thursday, August l4th, George Harrison left Centerville and rode off towards the city of Newark to enlist in Company D 13th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteers.

The following day, August 15th, after 107 men had been enlisted into the Company, recruiting ceased.

One week earlier (August 8th) George Harrison's cousin, Henry F. Harrison, had enlisted into Company D. Perhaps Henry was the incentive for George to also join that Company. George and Henry had grown up on neighboring farms and had been friends since boyhood.

After the new recruits enrolled they were instructed to report to Camp Frelinghuysen, which was located about 2 miles from the Broad Street recruiting office, on the northwestern edge of the city of Newark. (2) Camp Frelinghuysen was then situated along Roseville Avenue and bounded by Bloomfield Avenue on the north and Orange Street on the south. In the rear of the camp proper, ran the Newark section of the Morris Canal. This canal flowed from Phillipsburg, New Jersey on the Delaware River, to Jersey City (opposite New York) and prior to the coming of the railroads, was an important barge link between northeastern Pennsylvania and the New York markets. This canal formed the easterly boundary of Camp Frelinghuysen.  Camp Frelinghuysen camp location marker: HERE

In the early morning hours the men were permitted to use the canal for bathing and laundry purposes. Near the canal were a large field and the canal towpath. In this field the new recruits were drilled and practiced their field movements. At this time the new recruits had not been equipped with accoutrements or arms.

On Monday, August 25th, Lieutenant Louis D. Watkins of the 5th U. S. Cavalry officially mustered the 13th Regiment into the service of the United States Government.

On Thursday, August 28th, the new Regiment was commanded to "move without unnecessary delay" to the defenses around Washington, D. C. On this same day the Regiment was issued new uniforms, blankets, knapsacks, and haversacks. This was their third day of military service and they had little time to practice the art of soldiering.

On Thursday afternoon the Regiment was issued orders forbidding the granting of passes and the camp was closed to the public. The men were angered that they would not be permitted to bid their families and friends good‑bye before their unexpected and sudden departure.

That Thursday night, almost every man in camp, including the camp guards, left the campsite against orders and journeyed home to make their partings.

In the early morning of Friday, August 29th, the camp appeared deserted, but the recruits began returning during the afternoon.  Though the men had deserted against orders they were not charged as such. Friday afternoon arms were distributed and by evening most of the recruits had returned and the camp resumed its usual activity.

At 6 p.m. Friday evening, the Regiment was ordered out for dress parade and after the usual evolutions was formed into a hollow square. The Reverend Mr. Levy of the South Baptist church, accompanied by a number of ladies of Newark advanced to the center of the square and presented to Colonel Carman, their Commander, an elegant Regimental Flag. Reverend Levy said in part: "In behalf of Miss Landell, it is my agreeable duty to present to your Regiment this flag. It is not made for holiday uses, nor to float in the quiet breezes of home. It is intended for the smoke of battle, the rallying object in the hour when you and the enemy shall meet face to face".

Reverend Levy continued his oration and after his speech Colonel Carman received the flag and made a brief acceptance speech. The Regiment responded with "loud and repeated cheers".

The new Regimental standard was made of bunting, "handsomely trimmed" and had for its field the New Jersey State Arms. (3) That evening, Friday, August 29th, a patrol was sent into the city of Newark to gather up those of the Regiment who had not returned to camp after the stampede of the previous night. Many of the men were found roaming the streets or in the local saloons.

On Saturday, August 30th, there were about 100 men still absent from the Regiment, but most of these men straggled in to the camp during the day and they too were issued arms.

The announcement that the Regiment was to move out on Sunday or early Monday morning was printed in the Newark papers and brought large crowds of visitors to the camp. Mostly these were ladies and friends of those who had enlisted.

Early Sunday morning the Regiment struck their new Sibley tents in preparation for their move. Soon the order to "fall in" was given. At 11 a.m. the Regiment marched out of Camp Frelinghuysen and onto Orange Street followed by a throng of relatives, friends and well wishes. The Regiment marched down Orange Street in platoons four abreast, headed by a drum corps and then made a right onto Broad Street, Newark. They raised great clouds of dust from the unpaved roads. Company A, Captain Van Rennsalaer, brought up the rear in "company front".

As the column approached Washington Park on Broad Street they halted for a short time while their officers perfected their alignment and formed them into "Company Fronts". The new men were not experienced in military movements and their marching was far from perfect. They were having considerable difficulty in keeping their distance and maintaining it. Colonel Carman wanted to perfect the Regiments appearance before it moved down Broad Street and through the heart of the city.

The men were now occupied with other thoughts, “for this was not a holiday parade full of unmeaning ceremony, but was in fact a movement off to face an enemy who were then actively trying to capture the nations capital.” Even then as they were marching, a great battle near the city of Washington was in progress. General Pope, the commander of the Union Armies had suffered a serious defeat at the second battle of Manassas the day before (August 30th) and the Confederates were pursuing the retreating Union Army towards Washington.

Affairs in Washington seemed critical. The knowledge of this situation caused the air in Newark to be filled with a dismal foreboding and caused almost the entire population of Newark to witness the departure of the Regiment as a sign of support for the cause. Bells tolled throughout the city, friends and relatives lined the streets shouting and cheering, ladies waved their handkerchiefs and flags were flying everywhere. The city firemen had drawn their engines to the street corners as a gesture of honor. As the Regiment continued down Broad Street and the crowds became denser, it was clearly a proud day for the Regiment and one the men would always remember with a sense of pride.

As the Regiment marched down Broad Street they wheeled left as they approached Chestnut Street. They marched down Chestnut to the depot of the New Jersey railroad where a train was waiting. The neighborhood around the depot was crowded with the friends and relatives of those about to depart. The train was delayed about half an hour as some 800 troops boarded, filling over 20 cars. Some men had been left behind as a rear guard to collect the stragglers. About 1:30 p.m. the whistle shrilled as the train steamed away from the depot in Newark "amid the cheers and plaudits of the throng", carrying the Regiment off for three years of military service. The excitement among the new troops soon began to dissipate the sad thoughts passing through the minds of some of the men. Soon everyone joined in the singing, joking and frolic as the train sped swiftly southward.

As the train slowed to pass through Rahway, New Jersey, four of the new recruits jumped off, deserting. At Princeton one other did the same, making a total of five deserters. The first stop on the run was at Camden, N. J. where they arrived about dusk. Here they disembarked and took passage on waiting ferryboats, which conveyed the Regiment across the Delaware River to Philadelphia.

The Regiment arrived in Philadelphia in the early evening. Their arrival was as enthusiastic as that which they had received in Newark. The Regiment marched past crowds of cheering Philadelphians and was received at the "Soldiers Rest" with great cordiality and a bountiful supply of food. (4)

After leaving Philadelphia the Regiment's next stop was Harve De Grace, Maryland, where there was a three-hour delay before the train was ferried across the Susquehanna River. From Havre De Grace they went to Baltimore where the men left the cars. They passed several hours in the city before transferring to a second train to Washington. This last part of their journey, the ride from Baltimore to Washington, was to be a trial of the patience of the men.

On leaving Baltimore, the men were crammed into baggage cars, which had been fitted up with seats made of rough boards. The cars were poorly ventilated and were stifling hot. The men soon provided their own ventilation by smashing holes through the sides of the cars with their rifle butts.

The train ride itself was erratic. First slow, then fast, often stopping suddenly throwing the men off their seats or against the sides of the cars. The recruits were hot and tired and anxious to be off the crowded train and breathing fresh air once again. In what space they could find, many slept while they sat up in the crowded baggage cars, others dozed listening to the sounds of the wheels on the tracks.

 

The "Soldiers Rest" or "Volunteer Refreshment Saloon" where the 13th NJ stopped on their arrival in Philadelphia.

 

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