Posts Tagged   2nd Massachusetts

July 13, 1863

A (fragment) of a letter from Shaw to his wife Annie:

July 13,1863 [BCF]

My Dearest Annie,

I sent the family letter to Father, to this date, and you will get it very soon after this. You will see from it what we have been doing lately.

I should have been Major of the Second now if I had remained there, and lived through the battles. As regards my own pleasure, I had rather have that place than any other in the army. It would have been fine to go home, a field-officer in that regiment. Poor fellows, how they have been slaughtered! Our mail came to-night, but was taken away by mistake.

My warmest love to Mamma and Clem. . . . That country place of ours is often before my eyes in the dim future. .. .

[fragment printed]

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July 3, 1863

A letter from Shaw to his friend and former fellow office from the 2nd Massachusetts, Charles Fessneden Morse. On this day, Morse was fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg with the 2nd Massachusetts. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on the day following. Today was the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

St. Helena’s Island, S. C. [BCF]

July 3,1863

My dear Charley,

Before I proceed to any other subject, let me ask you, if I ever sent you the $5.00 which you paid Brangle for me, & if you know of any other debts of mine in the Second. I don’t remember when I last wrote to you, but think it was just after I took dinner at your Father’s.

Since then I have seen your letters to your Brother describing the Chancellorsville fights, which I read with a great deal of interest.  Harry and I couldn’t help feeling blue, when we heard the 2d was at work again, and we away from our old posts. I was very glad to hear that you liked Slocum so much, & had such confidence in him. It will, no doubt, be one of the Division or Corps Generals who will be the great man of the war.

I wish I knew where you were now; we have had no late news from the North, and what we have had, has served mostly to confuse my mind very decidedly, as to the whereabouts of the two armies.

So the 1st Mass. Cavalry has had a regular shindy at last. I was glad to hear that Henry Hig’s wounds were not dangerous.  What a bloody-looking boy he must be, with a scar across his face.

Remember me to Curtis, if you see or write to him.

You may have heard that the passage of the 54th Mass through Boston was a great success. I never saw such a heavy turn-out there before. We came down to Hilton Head in a very nice Steamer, though a slow one, for we were six days en route.

We landed at Beaufort, and went into camp there. Hearing that Col. Montgomery the Kansas man, was going farther South, I asked permission to join him. So we remained only two days at Beaufort, and then sailed for St. Simon’s Island, on the coast of Georgia. The day after we arrived there, Montgomery started us off, up the Altamaha River, and after capturing a little schooner full of cotton & burning the town of Darien, we returned to the Island, having been absent two days.

The destruction of Darien disgusted me very much, and as soon as Montgomery told me he was going to burn it, I said I didn’t want to have anything to do with [it] and he was glad to take the responsibility. It was done by Genl Huntet’s order, however. We remained at St. Simon’s for about ten days after this.

I had a large plantation to myself & lived very comfortably in the former owner’s house—the regt being encamped in an adjacent field.

The island is very beautiful, and [is] traversed in all directions by excellent roads. We had splendid rides every day & explored the place from one end to the other. It has been uninhabited for so long, that it is completely full of birds of all kinds, and on the neighbouring Islands, there is good deer-shooting. There were a great many fine plantations & country seats there, and the people must have had a very jolly time. We found the records of a Yacht Race Club — and other signs of fun. Fanny Kemble’s husband, Pierce Butler, has a very large place, six or seven miles long, there, and another near Darien. We left St. Simon’s on the 25th & ret’d here by order of General Gillmore.

Montgomery is a strange sort of man. At first sight one would think him a parson or a school-master. He is a very quiet gentlemanlike sort of person — very careful to speak grammatically & not in the least like a Western man. He is religious, & never drinks, smokes, chews or swears. He shoots his men with perfect looseness, for a slight disobedience of orders, but is very kind & indulgent to those who behave themselves properly. The other night on board the steamer, he shot at and wounded a man for talking after taps, when he had twice ordered him to be quiet. He told me that he had intended to kill him & throw him overboard, & was much astonished at having missed his aim.

Last Sunday he caught a deserter — and had him executed without trial by Court Martial, or referring the case to any one (Strange to say the General has not taken any notice of it). Montgomery says he doesn’t like the red-tape way of doing things.

He is a very attractive man, and it is very interesting to sit & hear him relate his experiences.

Everything here indicates that there is to be another attack on Charleston. I trust we shall have a share in it — and indeed, we have been given to understand, that we should go with the army, wherever it went.

I want to hear from you, very much, Charley. Tell me as much as you can of your movements since you left Stafford C. H. this last time — and how the old regt is. I have been expecting to hear of your promotion. Good-bye, my dear fellow, for the present. I often long to be with you fellows. When you & Harry & I bunked together, from Sharpsburg to Fairfax, we hardly expected to be so far separated as we are now. I wonder where the deuce you are.

Give my love to Tom R, Jim Francis, Brown, the Foxes & Mudge.

Always your affectionate friend,

Robert G. Shaw

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June 20, 1863

A letter from Shaw to his brother-in-law Charles Russell Lowell, Jr (married to Shaw’s sister Effie) who was a colonel in the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry and was killed at the Battle of Cedar Creek in October, 1864:

St. Simon’s Island, Ga. [BCF]
June 20,1863

My dear Charley,

I received your kind letter before I left Readville—and beg you will excuse my long delay in answering you. Besides other matters to occupy my attention, you will appreciate the fact of my having a more voluminous private correspondence than ever before. You may have heard from Effie of our doings, since we left Boston‚ — though, to be sure, I don’t know how many of my letters have reached home. We have only heard from there once.

I am totally in the dark as to what has been going on in other parts of the country for two weeks past. The last paper I saw, was of June 6. I should like to ask your opinion on a subject, which has troubled me a little lately. On a late expedition we made with Montgomery—he burnt the town of Darien about 20 miles from here. We had met with no resistance there & the only men to be seen were some horsemen at a great distance. There were a few women & darkeys in the place and a great many more had gone off in vehicles on our approach. It was never known to be a refuge for guerillas, and our gunboats have been in the habit of running by it at will & without opposition. Don’t you think that unless it is a settled policy of the Government to destroy all the property in rebeldom, the desttuction of a defenceless town, containing only a few non-combatants, is unjustifiable, and contrary to all rules of warfare?

Harry writes me that you have been transferred to Heintzelman, so I suppose there is a good chance of your remaining for some time, near Washington. Good, for Effie.

Now you are so near Headquarters, can’t you do something towards getting Barlow for us? I have just heard from him under date of May 21. He says he had just received yours of March 20 & regrets very much not having got it before. He still wishes to command a colored Brigade & I have no doubt we should do something under him.

Montgomery who seems the only active man in this Department, is enormously energetic, and devoted to the cause, but he is a bush-whacker—in his fighting, and a perfect fanatic in other respects. He never drinks, smokes or swears, & considers that praying, shooting, burning & hanging are the true means to put down the Rebellion. If he had been educated as a military man in rather a different school, I think he would accomplish a great deal, & he may yet in a certain way. He is very prompt & active, never lying idle, if he can help it, for more than three days at a time. When delayed and disappointed, he is wonderfully patient & calm, never letting a word escape him & putting through what he undertakes in spite of everything. I never met a man who impressed me as being more conscientious.

Isn’t it strange, being back at the old work again under such different circumstances. I shan’t realize until about two years after the war is over, that I am married.

I have often thought since I left, of our meetings at Harper’s Ferry, and how little I supposed then that we should be so intimately connected.  I hope this war will not finish one or both of us, and that we shall live to know each other well. I had a note from Effie a week ago. I remember, at Susie’s, just after you were engaged you said to me: “Am not I a lucky fellow?” And I must say, I think you are. There are not many girls like Effie; though she is my sister, I may say it.

Hoping to hear from you occasionally, believe me, dear Charley.

Your afftc brother,

R. G. S.

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March 25, 1863

Picture of Lewis Douglass

Lewis Henry Douglass, the oldest son of Frederick Douglass, joined Company F of the regiment on this day. He became Sergeant-Major of the regiment on April 23, 1863.
A letter from Shaw to his mother:

Readville [BCF]
March 25 1863

Dear Mother,

I have received two notes from you, one about our course of conduct at Aunt Mary’s, and the other about shirts. I agree with you entirely about what you said in the first, and shall do as you suggest. I burned the note, as you requested, and will not say anything to Aunt Mary about it. I have bought the shirts but will pay the bill myself, as I shall be happy to make Howard a present of the others.

If the success of the 54 Mass. gives you so much pleasure, I shall have no difficulty in giving you good news of it, whenever I write. Everything goes on prosperously. The intelligence of the men is a great surprise, to me. They learn all the details of guard duty and Camp service, infinitely more readily than the Irish I have had under my command. There is not the least doubt, that we shall leave the state, with as good a regiment, as any that has marched. One trouble, which I anticipated, has begun-viz: complaints from outsiders of undue severity. But I shall continue to do, what I know is right in that particular, and you may be perfectly certain, that any reports of cruelty, are entirely untrue. I have treated them much more mildly, than we did the men of the 2d.

Tell Father I received his note, and would like very much to have him send me the horse he speaks of, if he is satisfied with him. I want as handsome a horse as I can get & need it as soon as possible.

I am going up to Lenox tonight, to come down with Annie tomorrow. I found I should have to be away just as long, if I only went to Springfield.

Love George, Anna & Susie.

Your loving son

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March 12, 1863

A letter from Shaw to his friend Charles Fessenden Morse:

Boston [BCF]
March 12,1863

My dear Charley,

I received your note enclosing Brangle’s bill & send you now (8) Eight dolls.

We are getting on swimmingly, having near 250 men in camp. My Officers too are pretty good, some of them excellent.

I came down from Lenox last night, where I have been having rather a comfortable time for a few days. On the train I met Sergt. Griswold, looking a little peaked still, but intending to rejoin the regt soon.I think of you very often and I wish we could be together again. Perhaps some day it may be our luck to fall in with each other somewhere. I find my feeling for old class-mates is weak compared with friendships formed in the 2d—like yours & mine. I have not seen Harry for a week — as I have been away 4 days.

I read Hooker’s order with exultation when I found the name of our sturdy old regt among the favoured ones. The order will do more, I should think, towards creating a spirit of emulation in the army than any that has been issued since we entered the service. Indeed no other General ever attempted anything of the sort.

My third sister (Effie) is engaged to Charley Lowell. It is a very satisfactory affair for us all & especially for me — as I like him very much, and she and I have always been together, more than any other two of the family. I telegraphed to John Fox today, to know whether they had been notified of the extension of my leave‚ — as I am in continual dread of seeing my name among the Absent without Authority.

There seem to be shoals of men from the 2d in Boston. I suppose in a month or six weeks from this you will all be at work again. It is the luckiest thing in the wotld that Slocum has taken a fancy to our regiment.

I have not seen any of your family since I wrote last. Hoping to hear from you soon, and regularly, I am always

Your sincerely attached friend,
Robert G. Shaw

If you hear of anything going wrong regarding my leave, I wish you would
let me know — as soon as possible.

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January 31-February 2, 1863

Emilio provided ([BBR] p.5) this description of Shaw:

Francis G. Shaw himself took the formal proffer to his son, then in Virginia. After due deliberation, Captain Shaw, on February 6, telegraphed his acceptance.

Robert Gould Shaw …was born Oct. 10, 1837, in Boston, was carefully educated at home and abroad in his earlier years, and admitted to Harvard College in August, 1856, but discontinued his course there in his third year. After a short business career, on April 19, 1861, he marched with his regiment, the Seventh New York National Guard, to the relief of Washington. He applied for and received a commission as second lieutenant in the Second Massachusetts Infantry; and after serving with his company and on the staff of Gen. George H. Gordon, he was promoted to a captaincy.

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