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John Hartwell

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As April 1864 drew towards it end, the winter camp of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, near Warrenton, Va. was a hive of activity, as the troopers prepared to move across the Rapidan, and into the Wilderness.

Stanton P. Allen, at barely 15 years of age the youngest member of Company I -- of the whole regiment, in fact ... tells the story:

The rumors of a general advance came thicker and faster the last week in April, and May the third the long roll was sounded by the brigade buglers. The breaking up of winter quarters was always attended with scenes that were excruciatingly funny. What a lot of worthless old plunder the soldiers would accumulate! It always required sorting over a dozen times before the boys could really determine just what to leave behind. And then it invariably happened that after the very last thing that they could spare or think of abandoning had been cast out the inspecting officers would poke around and order us to throw out the articles we prized most highly.
Railroad communication with Washington and the North had made it comparatively easy for us to get creature comforts, and many delicacies for the of the boys in blue reached our camp. Waterman received a large-sized packing box full of good things to eat, from his parents. The goodies were shared among “our four" — Waterman, Taylor, Horn and myself.
The first feed we had after the cover of Waterman's box was taken off brought tears to our eyes — tears of joy, of course — but somehow the taste of the home-made pies and cake produced a longing for home and mother which was made all the more intense as the contents of the box disappeared and we came face to face with the stern reality that a return to "mule beef and hard-tack" was inevitable.
Waterman's parents resided only a short distance from where my father and mother lived in Berlin, and when his box was sent my family helped to fill and pack the box. Then when the dear people at home thought our food must be getting low another box was packed by my parents, and Waterman's family contributed some of the good things. It was sent by express, but owing to the increased demand upon the railroads and trains to forward munitions of war to the Army of the Potomac, my box did not reach Warrenton until the morning that we started for the Wilderness. The company was drawn up in line waiting to move forward when a Government wagon arrived loaded with boxes and packages for the troopers. My long-expected box was thrown out of the wagon, and I obtained permission to interview it.
I pried off the cover, and as I caught a glimpse of the good things from home, I felt like annihilating the quartermaster's department that had held back my box while extra supplies of ammunition and commissary stores had been dispatched to the front. Just then the bugler at brigade headquarters sounded "forward." There was no time to waste. I did the best I could under the circumstances — filled my haversack, and invited the boys in the company to help themselves, after "our four" had stowed away all we could. The second platoon swept down on that box, and in less than a minute the boys were eating home-made pies and cookies all along the line. A picture or two, a pair of knit socks and a few souvenirs were secured by Waterman and myself.
"Attention, company!"
"Prepare to mount!"
"Mount!"
"Form ranks!"
"By fours, march!" and we were en route to the Rapidan. It was the last taste of home-made grub that we enjoyed till the campaign was over. We secured the makings of a square meal now and then while raiding around Richmond, but the territory had been foraged so often that it was considered mighty poor picking the last two years of the war.
As we rode forward, we found that everybody was on the march or getting ready to leave. Lines of tents were disappearing on all sides as the long roll sounded through the camps. Supply trains were moving out, and everything was headed about due south. As we rode by the bivouacs of the infantry, the foot soldiers, imitating the Johnnies, would sing out:
"Hay, there! where be you all goin'?"
"Bound for Richmond."
"But we all are not ready to move out yet."
"Then we'll drive you out."
"You all can't whip we all. Bob Lee will drive you all back as he has done before."
Then there would be a general laugh all along the line at the expression in this semi-serious way of an idea that had gained a strong lodgment in the minds of many "peace patriots" at the North. The soldiers at the front who were doing their best to crush out rebellion did not share in the feeling that the Jeff Davis government would carry the day. The veterans of Gettysburg and of Antietam knew that the Union army was in no respect inferior to the chivalry of the South — man to man. All the Army of the Potomac needed to enable it to fight Lee's army to the finish, and win, was a commander that knew what fighting to a finish meant. Would the new commander fill the bill?
[S. P. Allen, A Boy Trooper with Sheridan, 1898, p.106f]
 
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John Hartwell

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John that was great, Thanks for posting it. Berlin, my first thought was of Berlin Md,a few miles north of here the name has been changed to Brunswick
Sorry. It's Berlin, New York. He wound up in the 1st Mass. Cav. because he was under age, and ran away to someplace he hoped his father couldn't find him. He lied about his age, but then gave them his real name and home town (sure, he was determined, but not really sneaky enough to think about that). Word got out, but his father, who had already dragged him home after enlisting in a NY regiment at the age of 12, decided to let the 14-year-old have his way, and hope for the best.
 
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John Hartwell

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What are the titles of the things Allen wrote? I really enjoy first hand accounts of soldiers. I would like to read more by him.
Just the ACW memoirs:
Down in Dixie; life in a cavalry regiment in the war days, from the Wilderness to Appomattox by Stanton P Allen (1892) (c.550 pp)
A boy trooper with Sheridan by Stanton P Allen, (1898) (c.230 pp) A version of Down in Dixie written for a younger audience. Less than half the length, though it does include some accounts not in the longer book (the one in this thread, for instance)

He also wrote A summer revival and what brought it about by Stanton P Allen, about a Methodist Camp Meeting in Lyon Mountain, NY.
 
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