New Hampshire in the Civil War

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New Hampshire in the American Civil War

New Hampshire and the Civil War (1861-1865)

New Hampshire (1861-1865)

The attitude of New Hampshire throughout the continuance
of the Civil war was one of unswerving loyalty to the general
government. When the news reached the state of the assault
upon Fort Sumter the feeling of indignation was intense
throughout the length and breadth of the commonwealth. Men
forgot party affiliations, and there was a prompt and patriotic
response to the proclamation of President Lincoln calling on the
states for assistance. It was sufficient that many of the South-
ern States claimed the right to secede from the Union, that the
insurgents of one of them, South Carolina, had fired upon the
national flag, and that the capital of the nation was in danger of
capture. Every patriotic instinct was aroused, and New Hamp-
shire proceeded at once to perform her share of the work to be

The state was without an organized militia that could be
readily called into service, and the enrolment required under the
law was so imperfect that it was impossible to make a fair and
even draft upon her citizens liable to be called upon to repel in-
surrection at home or invasion from abroad. Consequently, the
governor called for volunteers to fill the state's quota of one regi-
ment of 780 men, under the first call for 75,000 troops for three
months' service. Ichabod Goodwin, then governor, issued the
following proclamation: "Concord, April 16, 1861. Sir: The
president of the United States having, in pursuance of the act
of Congress approved. Feb. 28, 1795, called upon the State of
New Hampshire for a regiment of militia, consisting of ten
companies of infantry, to be held in readiness to be mustered into
the service of the United States for the purpose of quelling an
insurrection and supporting the government, I, Ichabod Good-
win, governor of New Hampshire, command you to make procla-
mation, calling for volunteers from the enrolled militia of the
state to the number required, and to issue from time to time all
necessary orders and instructions for enrolling and holding in
readiness to be mustered into service said volunteer corps, agree-
able to the aforesaid requisition." This was addressed to the
adjutant-general of the state, and in compliance therewith Adjt.-
Gen. Joseph C. Abbott issued an order calling for volunteers to
fill one regiment of infantry. In order that the work of raising
the regiment might be expedited as much as possible, twenty-
eight recruiting stations were established in different parts of
the state, and Henry O. Kent, Lancaster; Frank S. Fiske, Keene,
and Jeremiah C. Tilton, Sanbornton, were appointed special
aides in the recruiting service. The greatest enthusiasm in the
work of enlistment prevailed throughout the state, and nearly
every farm, workshop and business establishment contributed a

Nor were the women lacking in patriotic zeal; they organized
sanitary aid societies in nearly every considerable town and
busied themselves in the work of making shirts, drawers, and
other necessary comforts for the soldiers in the field, and pro-
viding linen and bandages for the hospitals. Every citizen was
impressed by the gravity of the situation which confronted the
country. Innumerable public meetings were held in the larger
towns and cities, attended by both men and women, where pa-
triotic speeches were made and measures concerted to encourage
enlistments. Both towns and individuals pledged funds for the
support of families of those who entered the service of the gov-

During the two weeks following April 17, the names of 2,004
men were enrolled, many more than enough to fill the regiment
called for. On April 24, the enlisted men were ordered into
camp upon the fair grounds of the Merrimack county agricultu-
ral society, about a mile east of the state house at Concord. Col.
John H. Gage of Nashua was in command of the camp, which
was called "Camp Union," until May 17. The first regiment
was ready by May 8, and left Concord for the seat of war on the
25th. As so many men had responded to the call for volunteers,
the state authorities determined to organize two regiments. On
April 27, Gov. Goodwin was authorized by Brig.-Gen. John E.
Wool, U. S. Army, commanding the Department of the East, to
place Portsmouth harbor in a defensive condition. The 1st regi-
ment had been partially organized, when the surplus men assem-
bled at Concord were sent to Portsmouth early in May, with the
view of placing them in Fort Constitution, at New Castle. By
May 4, 400 men had assembled at Portsmouth, and Brig.-Gen.
George Stark of Nashua assumed command. Henry O. Kent
of Lancaster was appointed colonel and assistant adjutant-gen-
eral on April 30, and proceeded to Portsmouth the same day to
assist in organizing the troops. As new companies arrived,
some were placed in Fort Constitution, where Capt. Ichabod
Pearl was given command May 7. When President Lincoln
issued his call on May 3 for additional troops, to serve for three
years, New Hampshire was required to furnish one regiment.
Enlistment papers were distributed among the troops assembled
at Portsmouth and Fort Constitution and the men were given
the choice of enlisting in the 2nd regiment, or serving out their
time of three months as garrison. The result was that 496 of the
three months' men immediately reenlisted for three years, or dur-
ing the war, and by the end of May 525 more three years' men
had reported. The regiment was completely organized on June
10, and left the state for the front on the 20th.

The legislature convened at Concord in annual session June 5,
1861. On the second Tuesday of March preceding, Nathaniel
S. Berry, the Republican candidate, had been elected governor
to succeed Gov. Goodwin. On June 6, Gov. Goodwin delivered
a valedictory address, wherein he eloquently portrayed the stir-
ring events of the closing months of his term, and detailed the
energetic measures he had taken to meet the grave emergency
which had arisen. Most of the state legislatures had been called
in extra session, but Gov. Goodwin deemed he could best facili-
tate the organization of troops by calling for volunteers, and was
more readily induced to take this course by the nearness of the
approaching session of the legislature. After referring to Presi-
dent Lincoln's first call for troops, he said: "This requisition
was followed by an intimation that another regiment might soon
be required. The state of our militia organization was such that
I could not, by a military order, fulfill the constitutional obliga-
tions of the state. Upon reflection, I came to the conclusion that
I could meet this call with less delay and less expense by a vol-
untary enlistment, than by any other method, and this course was
adopted. The prompt and energetic manner in which our banks
and citizens placed a large amount of money at my disposal, re-
moved the necessity of convening a special session of the legis-
lature. So unanimous was our whole population in resisting
this attempt to overthrow the constitution and liberties of the
people, that the second regiment was filled as readily as the
first." When Gov. Goodwin had concluded his address Gov.
Berry was sworn in, and delivered his annual message. After
reference to the action of the Southern States and a brilliant
analysis of the principles on which the Union was founded, he
urged upon the legislature the necessity of prompt action,
saying: "The legislature being now assembled, there is a pressing
necessity for immediate attention to those measures that shall aid
the general government in resisting the rebellion now waged against
our institutions. No northern state has placed less than $1,000,000
at the command of the general government, in view of the
present emergency of the country, and I trust New Hampshire
will not be behind her sister states in this respect, and that what-
ever we may do may be done with perfect unanimity." He also
recommended the organization of at least one regiment in every
county in the state, to be thoroughly drilled and equipped and
subject to the call of the legislature.

The legislature responded most cordially to these recommen-
dations during a session which lasted for 30 days. Among the
laws enacted was one entitled "An act to aid in defense of the
country," which was finally passed after much discussion and
strenuous opposition and provided in substance: That all pay-
ments and expenditures made by the governor and council, or by
their authority, in the work of raising and equipping troops for
the national defense, were ratified and confirmed; that the gov-
ernor and council be authorized to enlist and equip needed troops
to satisfy any present or future calls by the national government,
provided that not more than two regiments in addition to those
already raised, be enlisted at any one time; and finally that the
treasurer be authorized to issue bonds or certificates of debt, in
the name of the state, to an amount not exceeding $1,000,000, to
meet expenses already incurred or that might be incurred under
this act to provide for the defense of the country, or for main-
taining the military force of the state, while engaged therein.
It also passed an act authorizing cities and towns to aid the fami-
lies of volunteers, and providing means whereby said cities and
towns should be reimbursed from the treasury of the state for
any moneys so expended. Finally, resolutions were unanimously
passed, declaring the war now in progress to be solely for the
maintenance of the government and the suppression of rebellion ;
asserting that neither the president nor Congress can constitu-
tionally entertain any proposition which had for its object the
dismemberment of the government or the dissolution of the
Union; and pledged the resources of the state for the integrity
of the Union, the support of the constitution, and the enforce-
ment of the laws of the general government. The sons of New
Hampshire in New York and Boston were given a vote of thanks
for their attentions to the 1st and 2nd N. H. regiments.

Ex-Gov. Anthony Colby of New London was appointed adju-
tant and inspector-general in June, 1861, after the resignation of
Joseph C. Abbott. During the year 1861, the following organiza- 
tions were raised and sent to the front: The 1st, 2nd, 3d, 4th,
5th, 6th, 7th and 8th regiments of infantry; Companies I, K, L
and M of the 1st New England volunteer cavalry; 1st N. H.
volunteer light battery; Co. E, 1st U. S. volunteer sharpshoot-
ers, and Cos. F and G, 2nd U. S. volunteer sharpshooters. All
told 9,197 men had been enlisted since the first call for troops;
the state had paid out $893,333.26 for equipping and recruiting
the several regiments and companies.

In March, 1862, Gov. Berry was reelected, receiving 32,150
votes out of a total of 62,425, on a platform which ignored past
political topics, and simply avowed the unreserved purpose of
supporting the government, and advocated the vigorous prose-
cution of the war. During the two years of Gov. Berry's admin-
istration practically all the regiments and other organizations of
New Hampshire were organized and put into the field, and it is
only fair to state that no one of the states sent forth troops bet-
ter armed, equipped and supplied with all the necessities for ac-
tive military service than those of New Hampshire. Under the
call in July, 1862, for three years' troops 5,053 men were re-
quired from New Hampshire and she raised six regiments of
volunteer infantry; under the call for troops for nine months'
service, Aug. 4, 1862, three regiments entered the service. By
the close of the year 1862, the state had furnished to the general
government 18,261 men, and up to June 1, 1862, she had ex-
pended for war purposes $953,649. Joseph A. Gilmore received
29,035 votes out of a total of 66,240, in the election for governor
in March, 1863. Failing of a majority, he was subsequently
chosen by the legislature, June 3, which had a Republican ma-
jority of 53 on joint ballot. His first and all succeeding mes-
sages to the legislature were replete with patriotic suggestions;
during his two years as governor he promptly supplied the war
department with all the troops demanded, and was untiring in
his efforts to supply the necessities of New Hampshire men in
the field, and in military hospitals. During the year 1863, addi-
tional loans for military purposes to the amount of $482,300
were negotiated. Up to June 1, 1863, the state had paid out on
account of the war, $1,305,835, part of which had been paid back
by the Federal government.

Some resistance in the state was offered this year against the
enforcement of the draft. A number of towns had already fur-
nished an excess of men above their quota, and considered the
draft upon them as peculiarly burdensome. A mob burned the
Forest Vale house, half way between the Crawford and Glen
houses, and stoned the agents of the provost-marshal engaged
in notifying the drafted men. Altogether $8,000 worth of prop-
erty was destroyed. Again, at Portsmouth, there was some
trouble on the day of the draft. An excited throng of men,
women and children gathered about the provost-marshal's office,
which was in charge of volunteers from Fort Constitution and
U. S. marines from the navy yard. A large force of police were
also present to assist in dispersing the crowd. Two men who
resisted were arrested and when a mob of 100 attacked the sta-
tion house later in the evening, two of the police and four of the
rioters were wounded, but none were killed. The mob was then
dispersed by a squad of soldiers from the provost-marshal's office
and the trouble at Portsmouth ended.

Gov. Gilmore was reelected in March, 1864, by a majority of
5,666 over Edward W. Harrington, the Democratic candidate.
In his annual message to the legislature, which assembled on
June 1, he stated that the state debt, including $600,000 paid to
the families of volunteers, amounted to $1,900,000, an increase
of $600,000 within the fiscal year, and recommended the funding
of this debt by the issue of six per cent, bonds, payable in 15 or
20 years. The action of the legislature on financial and military
matters at this session was not satisfactory to the governor, and
he summoned an extra session to meet on Aug. 9. In his mes-
sage he recommended a forced loan from the banks to meet the
immediate necessities of the state, and to preserve its credit in-
tact; he also took exception to the military bill passed at the
previous session, which had aimed to provide means to fill the
New Hampshire quotas under the various calls for troops. Hav-
ing shown that the state lacked 5,000 men to fill its quota and
that only 23 working days remained to raise that number by vol-
untary enlistments, he asked that the legislature authorize larger
bounties and put a stop to the extravagant competition between
cities and towns, some of which were offering $1,000 for a single
one-year recruit. The legislature failed to meet the views of
the executive on financial matters, and adopted a report that un-
der existing laws, a necessary temporary loan could be secured
at a reasonable rate of interest. However, it passed a new mili-
tary bill, fixing bounties for recruits enlisted in insurgent states,
and providing state bounties, ranging from $100 to $300, accord-
ing to the term of the enlistment of the recruit. Town bounties
were similarly limited, except where enrolled citizens enlisted
and were credited to the localities where they resided, in which
case no limit was placed on town bounties. This measure gave
a great impulse to volunteering from among enrolled citizens,
and the governor was requested to ask a few more days grace 
from the war department, as the state's quota could probably be
filled without resort to the draft. A bill was also passed, and
became a law, in spite of the governor's veto, entitled the "Sol-
dier's Voting Bill," under which New Hampshire soldiers in the
field and absent from the state, voted at the ensuing election. A
decision of the supreme court in favor of the constitutionality of
the act was also obtained.

Frederick Smyth was chosen governor in March, 1865, by a
majority of 6,071 over Edward W. Harrington, his Democratic
opponent. He was elected on a platform which expressed confi-
dence in the administration of President Lincoln, and favored a
vigorous prosecution of the war. The Democrats adopted as a
platform of principles, "the Constitution and the Union." The
inaugural address of Gov. Smyth to the legislature which con-
vened on June 7, was an exceptionally able state paper, and
awakened renewed confidence in the credit and resources of the
state. After giving the number of troops sent to the field from
New Hampshire, he paid a noble tribute to her soldier sons, say-
ing: "Our state will never be unmindful of the heroic deeds of
her sons in the great struggle for national life. They sprang to
arms at the first call, and no considerable battle has been fought
in which they have not participated. In the early days of the
rebellion, they were at times cast down by temporary defeat, but
in every instance only to rally with renewed vigor. * * * It
will not be easy to pay our debt of gratitude to these brave men."
The legislature adopted all the practical suggestions embodied
in the message, and in less than three months loans to the
amount of $1,200,000 were effected in such a manner as to im-
prove rather than depreciate the credit of the state. On July 1,
1865, the finance committee of the house of representatives re-
ported the actual debt of New Hampshire to be $3,793,625.82.
To the proper funding and payment of this debt Gov. Smyth
brought such rare ability that it was successfully funded and the
credit of the state placed on a firm basis. Speaking of the two
years' administration of Gov. Smyth, Maj. Otis F. R. Waite says
in his work on New Hampshire in the Rebellion: "During the
two years of his administration Gov. Smyth brought to the dis-
charge of the duties of his office great energy, industry and
financial skill. During the last year the state debt had been re-
duced $254,313.18. When he retired from office all the claims
of the state against the general government had been satisfacto-
rily adjusted; the state debt had been funded on advantageous
terms, the credit of the state stood at least equal to that of any
other, and in his valedictory address — which like all his state
papers was a model for its directness and practical common
sense suggestions — he congratulated his successor that he would
be relieved from any labor or anxiety relating to financial matters."

After the surrender of Lee's army at Appomattox Court
House, the New Hampshire men in the field were anxious to
return to their home as speedily as possible. Influence was
brought to bear on the war department by Gov. Smyth and many
of the regiments from this state were among the first to be mus-
tered out. All through the months of June and July, the streets
of Concord were thronged with returning soldiers, who were
most cordially welcomed by the state officials and citizens. They
were promptly paid and discharged from the service and every
effort was made to relieve individual cases of need. Gen. Natt
Head, the state's efficient and patriotic adjutant-general, will be
especially remembered by all the "boys in blue" for the careful
solicitude he displayed in rendering individual assistance to the
needy, and in giving good counsel. It was, moreover, due to
his patriotic initiative that a memorial certificate, handsomely
engraved on steel with appropriate devices, was prepared. Each
surviving officer and soldier from the state, who could show a
record of honorable service in the war, or his widow or nearest
relative, in case of death, was entitled to receive a certificate,
and have it filled up with the name, rank, regiment and company,
and the nature and length of service of the recipient. He was
indeed the "Soldiers' Friend."

Throughout the war. New Hampshire was most fortunate in
the character and ability displayed by her chief executives, as
well as in the personnel of her adjutant-generals. The needs of
her soldiers both in field and hospital were well attended to.
Col. Frank E. Howe of New York city and Robert R. Corson
of Philadelphia, were efficient state agents in each of those cities,
charged with the duty of caring for sick and wounded soldiers
there in hospital, or passing through those cities. They made
monthly reports of names, disability and deaths in the various
hospitals, together with any other important facts which might
come under their observation. Many other agents were sent to
army hospitals and battle-fields to care for the sick and bury
the dead. The patriotic women of the state were especially active
in the formation of sanitary aid societies, which were maintained
with efficiency and system, and without interruption, throughout
the war. They furnished comforts not supplied by the govern-
ment to enlisted men; sent clothing, delicacies, bandages and
medicines to army hospitals, and cared for the families of soldiers
during their absence in the field. At Washington the New
Hampshire soldier's relief rooms became a practical agency for
the distribution of substantial aid and comfort to the soldiers, sent
by the good people of the state. Among the names of many
noble men and women who labored zealously for the welfare of
the state's soldier's that of Miss Harriet P. Dame of Concord is
worthy of especial mention. Her services, both in hospital and
on the bloody battle-field, will never be forgotten. Said one who
knew her well: "She was more than the Florence Nightingale
of America, because she had not the secure protection of hospital,
but stood with our soldiers beneath the rain and fire of bullets,
undaunted. She knew no fear, and thought not for a moment
of her personal safety, for God had called her, and she felt that
His divine protection was over all."

The total expenditures of New Hampshire for war purposes
amounted to $6,852,678. Of this amount, $2,389,025 were paid
for bounties, and $1,835,985 went to reimburse towns for aid
furnished families of soldiers. At the end of the fiscal year
1867, the Federal government had reimbursed to the state for
war expenses, the sum of $897,122.

In 1895 there was prepared and published by authority of the
legislature a revised register of the soldiers and sailors of New
Hampshire in the War of the Rebellion, compiled by Adjt.-Gen.
Augustus D. Ayling, in which it is shown that the state fur-
nished the following troops during the war: Eighteen regiments
of infantry, embracing 705 officers and 26,581 enlisted men, or a
total of 27,286; a New Hampshire battalion, 1st regiment New
England volunteer cavalry; one regiment of cavalry; one battery of
light artillery; three companies of garrison artillery; one regiment of
heavy artillery; three companies of U. S. sharpshooters, inclu-
ding the field and staff of Co. F, 2d U. S. sharpshooters; some
unattached companies, and the 2nd brigade band. This gives
a total of 836 officers, 31,650 enlisted
men, or 32,486 men alto-
gether. In addition to the above, there were 19 officers and 394
enlisted men enrolled in the veteran reserve corps; 124 officers
and 2,272 men in the U. S. colored troops; 66 officers and 90
men in the regular army; 71 officers in the U. S. volunteers; 1
officer and 11 men in the U. S. veteran volunteers; 309 officers
and 2,851 men in the U. S. navy; 3 officers and 363 men in the
U. S. marine corps; and 87 officers and 1,796 men who were
citizens, or residents of New Hampshire, and served in the or-
ganizations of other states. This gives a grand total of 1,516
officers and 37,427 enlisted men furnished by the state.

The number of officers killed, or died of wounds, 131; enlisted
men, 1,803; total, 1,934. Three regiments, the 1st, 16th and 17th,
lost no men killed in battle. The 5th, 3d and 12th regiments, in
the order named, suffered the heaviest losses on the field in killed
and wounded. At the head of all the infantry regiments in the
army stands the 5th N. H., with a loss of 295 in killed alone.
The number who died of disease was: Officers, 36; enlisted
men, 2,371; total, 2,407. The number who died from other
causes, or causes unknown, officers, 1; enlisted men, 498; total,
499. Only 102 officers and men were dishonorably discharged.
Twelve New Hampshire men were awarded medals of honor,
under the resolution of Congress, No. 43, approved July 12,
1862, and section 6 of the act approved March 3, 1863. Twenty
of the 3d regiment, 20 of the 4th, and 18 of the 7th were awarded
"Gillmore Medals" by Maj.-Gen. Q. A. Gillmore for gallantry
and meritorious conduct during operations before Charleston,
S. C.

With no thought of disparagement to the other loyal states, it
may be truly said that the commonwealth of New Hampshire
made an imperishable record for herself throughout the Civil
war. The number of troops furnished in proportion to her popu-
lation was exceeded by few if any of the other states, and by
none in point of efficiency, equipment and bravery. The blood
of the soldier sons of the Granite State crimsoned every battle-
field of note throughout the great struggle. At home, her people
in every walk of life made willing sacrifice that the Union of
the Fathers might be preserved, and free institutions perpetuated.

See also
Source: The Union Army, vol. 1


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