COLONEL WILLIAM B. HATCH was born to William and Catherine Browning Hatch around 1838 in Camden NJ, which was then still a part of Gloucester County. His father was a farmer, and resided in Camden's North Ward.
William Hatch had spent time in Europe as a soldier of fortune, and served in the cavalry of the Russian Imperial Army in 1859 and 1860. Back in New Jersey at the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as Lieutenant 1st Class on April 27, 1861, and was promoted to Full Lieutenant 1st Class on 27 April 1861 (1st Lieutenant & Adjutant) with the 4th Infantry Regiment New Jersey. This unit had signed up for three months, and mustered out on 31 July 1861 in Trenton, NJ. The regiment was reauthorized for a three years term, and William Hatch enlisted as a Major on August 17, 1861. He was promoted to Full Lieutenant Colonel on September 7, 1861. Lieutenant Colonel hatch saw action on October 28, 1861 at Mason's Hill, VA.
After a period of inactivity during the winter months, the Fourth New Jersey fought on June 27, 1862 at Gaines Farm, VA, a battle also referred to as Gaines' Mill. On August 27, 1862 the regiment fought again at Manassas, VA.
Also serving with the Fourth New Jersey was his cousin, First Lieutenant Charles Hollingshead Hatch. Lieutenant Hatch was wounded at the Gaines' Mill fight, and both cousins were taken prisoner. They were transported to Richmond for imprisonment in the infamous Libby prison. While imprisoned, Colonel Hatch, along with some other officers at Libby Prison (a converted warehouse) tunneled out quite a distance and escaped. They were on the loose for about three days but were recaptured. This time their captors took no chances. By night, they were put into dungeons beneath Libby and brought back up to the main prison during daylight hours.
Eventually, the cousins were exchanged for confederate prisoners and returned to their regiment. Charles's wound disabled him and he was eventually honorably discharged to a doctor's care in Camden.
William Hatch was promoted to Full Colonel on August 18, 1862. The promotion took effect on August 28, 1862, after the Manassas battle, which is also known as the Second Battle of Bull Run. He replaced James H. Simpson as commander of the regiment.
Colonel Hatch led his troops into battle on 14 September 1862 at Crampton's Gap, MD. After this fight, the regiment prepared for another offensive action. This occurred on 13 December 1862 at Fredericksburg, VA. Colonel Hatch was mortally wounded while attacking the Confederate works at Marye's heights, above Fredericksburg. He died of his wounds on December 15, 1862. He was brought home to Camden, and rests in Evergreen Cemetery.
On November 25, 1879, a Grand Army of the Republic Post was organized in Camden NJ. At the first meeting of the new post, it was unanimously decided to honor Colonel Hatch by adopting the name William B. Hatch Post.
The William B. Hatch Post No. 37, Grand Army of the Republic had among its members several prominent Camden residents, including merchant Isaac C. Toone, builder Mahlon E. Harden, journalist Benjamin Braker, and Lewis Derousse, who served at one time as Camden's postmaster.
Another Hatch cousin, Joseph Champion, also fought in the Union Army during the Civil War.
following is derived from
Colonel William B. Hatch was the son of the late William B. Hatch, of Camden. As a youth he developed a fondness for military life. After his father's death he visited Europe, and spent several months in observation of the military systems of the Continent. Upon the breaking out of the late war he was appointed adjutant of the Fourth Regiment New Jersey Militia, under Colonel Miller, and served with that regiment in the three months' service. Upon the organization of the Fourth New Jersey Volunteer Regiment for the three years service he was offered and accepted the commission of major of the regiment, and very soon after was commissioned lieutenant-colonel. With the Fourth Regiment he served under Generals Kearny and Taylor, and as a part of General Franklin/s division, Sedgewick's Sixth Army Corps. He took an active part in the Peninsula campaign under General McClellan. At the battle of Gaines' Mill the Fourth Regiment fought bravely for hours, but were finally surrounded and captured by the enemy, with his fellow officers and companions. Colonel Hatch was carried a prisoner to Richmond, where for many weeks he sustained the horrors of the rebel prison. After being exchanged he rejoined his regiment, and soon after was commissioned its colonel. His commissions date as follows : Major of the Fourth Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, August 17, 1861 ; lieutenant-colonel, September 7, 1861; and colonel, August 28, 1862. He participated with his regiment in the following engagements:
West Point, VA, May 7, 1862
Gaines' Mill, VA, June 27, 1862
Manassas, VA, August 27, 1862
Chantilly, VA, September 1, 1862
Crampton's Pass, MD, September 14, 1862
Antietam, MD, September 17, 1862
Fredericksburg, VA, December 13, 1862
In this last battle he fell mortally wounded at the head of his regiment, while leading them to the attack upon the enemy's works. He was conveyed to the field hospital near Falmouth VA, where his leg was amputated. He died two days later, on December 15, 1862, and his remains were returned to Camden and interred in the cemetery. To such an extent had he gained the love and appreciation of his command that they collected in the field six hundred dollars, and purchased and presented to him a beautiful dapple gray horse called the Grey Warrior, which afterwards became the property of General A. T. A. Torbert. This famous horse died at General Torbert's home in Delaware in 1882.
On November 25, 1879, a Grand Army of the Republic Post was organized in Camden NJ. At the first meeting of the new post, it was unanimously decided to honor Colonel Hatch by adopting the name William B. Hatch Post.
The William B. Hatch Post No. 37, Grand Army of the Republic had among its members several prominent Camden residents, including merchant Isaac C. Toone, builder Mahlon E. Harden, journalist Benjamin. M. Braker, and Lewis Derousse, who served at one time as Camden's postmaster.
THE FIRST WAR MEETING IN CAMDEN
On the 16th of April, 1861, three days after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, at the entrance of Charleston Harbor, a large number of loyal and patriotic citizens of Camden City and County issued the following vigorous and spirited response to the President's proclamation:
To the President Of the
unparalleled events of the last week have revealed to the citizens of
the United States, beyond question or the possibility of a doubt, that
peaceful reconciliation upon the form of our Constitution is repelled
and scorned, and secession means, in the hearts of its supporters, both
Treason and war against our Country and Nation.
" We, therefore, the undersigned Loyal Citizens of the United States, and inhabitants of the city of Camden, in the State of New Jersey, responding to the proclamation of the President of the United States, hereby declare our unalterable determination to sustain the government in its efforts to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National Union and the perpetuity of the popular Government, and to redress the wrongs already long enough endured; no differences of political opinion; no badge of diversity upon points of party distinction, shall restrain or withhold us in the devotion of all we have or can command to the vindication of the Constitution, the maintenance of the laws and the defense of the Flag Of our Country."
In response to a call, on the 18th of April an enthusiastic meeting was held in the county court-house, which was formed of a large collection of prominent citizens. The court-room was decorated with flags and mottoes. John W. Mickle was chosen president and Samuel C. Harbert and Thomas G. Rowand secretaries. The president addressed the meeting first and Rev. Mr. Monroe offered a prayer. Hon. Thomas P. Carpenter, Thomas B. Atkinson (mayor) and Joseph Painter were appointed a committee on resolutions. Judge Philip J. Grey addressed the meeting, after which the committee adopted a long series of patriotic resolutions. The Washington Grays, Stockton Cadets and the Zouaves marched into the room and were received with cheers, Samuel Hufty read a resolution which was signed by many persons, who immediately formed the Home Brigade. David M. Chambers, Captain Stafford, Benjamin M. Braker, John H. Jones and E. A. Acton each addressed the meeting. James M. Scovel was then called upon and responded in eloquent terms and with patriotic energy. S. H. Grey offered a resolution, which was adopted, that the City Council and the Freeholders of the county be requested to appropriate money for the equipment of persons who may volunteer in defense of the country, and S. H. Grey, James M. Cassady and Joseph Painter were appointed a committee to look after the interests of the resolution. The meeting continued in session until eleven p.m.
On the 22d of April Samuel H. Grey made an address before the Board of Freeholders in a patriotic appeal, soliciting the board to make appropriations for the relief of families of volunteer soldiers. John S. Read offered a resolution favoring the appropriation of five thousand dollars, which was unanimously adopted. On the evening of the 25th the City Council voted four hundred dollars for the same purpose. On the same evening the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Camden collected one hundred and fifty dollars and purchased five hundred Bibles for the volunteer soldiers of Camden County.
The State Bank of Camden loaned twenty-five thousand dollars and the Farmers and Mechanics Bank ten thousand dollars to the Governor of New Jersey to aid in the prosecution of the war. In July, 1861, the County Bible Society sent large installments of Bibles to the Camden County soldiers at Trenton.
On April 16th the Washington Grays, of Camden, held a meeting and resolved to open the armory for recruits. By Saturday, April 20th, these two companies, the Camden Zouaves and the Union Guards were reported ready for service and the Camden Light Artillery organizing. On the 25th the same correspondent wrote that the following companies had taken their departure from Camden for Trenton :
Grays, Captain E. Price Hunt. Camden Light Artillery, Captain I. W.
Mickle. Stockton Cadets,
Captain E. G. Jackson. Camden Zouaves, Captain John R. Cunningham.
And the following from Gloucester City:
Guards, Captain Joseph B. Strafford. Anderson Guards, Captain John P.
It was the boast of the Gloucester people that Union township, which had but four hundred voters, sent at this time one hundred and ninety-eight good men to do duty for the cause.
Foster's history asserts that on April 18th, Captain John R. Cunningham tendered the Camden Zouaves, a well-drilled and uniformed company, to the Governor.1 This organization had been formed under the militia law in the preceding year, when the tour of the principal cities made by Ellsworth's Chicago Zouaves inspired thousands of young men to join companies patterned upon that famous model. It was mustered into the Fourth Regiment, on April 25th, as Company G, under command of Captain Cunningham, First Lieutenant Louis M. Morris and Ensign Joseph L. De La Cour.
The other five companies from Camden County were placed in the same regiment. Captain Hunt's company became Company F ; Captain Van Leer's, Company H; Captain Jackson's, Company C; Captain Strafford's, Company D; and Captain Mickle's, Company E. The two first were mustered on April 25th and the three last on April 27th.
Among the individual offers was that of William B. Hatch, of Camden, who had served in 1859 and 1860 in the cavalry of the Russian army; he was commissioned as adjutant of the Fourth Regiment in the ninety days' service, and subsequently made major of the Fourth (three years') Regiment. Mrs. Hettie K. Painter, of Camden, volunteered as a nurse, and became known to thousands of sick and wounded men for her gentle and efficient ministrations in the hospitals of the Army of the Potomac.
On the last day of April the quota of the State was complete, and it was mustered at Trenton as a brigade of four regiments, under command of General Theodore Runyon, the present chancellor of New Jersey. The next day the Governor sent a special messenger to General B. F. Butler, commanding at Annapolis, Md., requesting him to prepare to receive the brigade, which was to be sent through the canal route in consequence of the destruction of the railroad bridges near Baltimore by the Secessionists of Maryland. The men were embarked at Trenton on May 3d, on a fleet of fourteen propellers, and proceeded down the Delaware River and through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal to Annapolis, which they reached on the night of the 4th.2 General Butler ordered its advance to Washington, and on the 5th the First Regiment, with six companies of the Second and nine companies of the Third, started forward in two trains of cars. The first of these trains reached Washington about midnight, and the second at eight o'clock the following m0rning. The same evening the Fourth Regiment and the remaining company of the Third arrived at the capital. The four companies of the Second left at Annapolis, were detailed to guard the telegraph and railroad between Annapolis Junction, and were left without tents and almost without a commissariat for a month.
On May 6th the arrival of the brigade was reported to General Scott, and no camps being provided, the troops went into such quarters as were available in Washington.
On all sides," says Foster, "their arrival was hailed with pleasure. Men felt that now the capital was safe. These three thousand Jerseymen, thoroughly armed and equipped, as no regiments previously arrived, had been and could be relied upon to repel all assaults. New Jersey never stood higher in the estimation of the loyal people of the country than at that juncture, when she sent to the nation's defense the first full brigade of troops that reached the field." On May 7th the command marched past the White House, where it was reviewed by President Lincoln and General Scott. On the 9th the Fourth Regiment moved out to Camp Monmouth, on Meridian Hill, where it was soon joined by the other regiments, and on the 12th the camp was visited by the President and Secretaries Chase and Seward, Mr. Lincoln complimenting the troops on their soldierly appearance. They remained at Camp Monmouth, perfecting their drill and discipline, until the 23d, when the Second, Third and Fourth Regiments (the First following the next day) crossed the Potomac into Virginia, and on the Washington and Alexandria road, at a most important strategic point, constructed a mounted with heavy guns a strong defensive work, which, in honor of their brigadier, they named Fort Runyon. It !vas the first regular fortification built by the national troops. The brigade remained in this vicinity until July 16th, when it was moved forward a few miles, and placed in the First Reserve Division, to which had also been assigned the First, Second and Third New Jersey (three years') Regiments, which had reached the field a few days previous to the movement. The First (three months') Regiment was ordered to a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, three miles beyond Springfield, to guard the track repairs. On the same day four hundred and twenty-five men of the Third Regiment were detailed to escort a provision train, and a portion of the Fourth was charged with guarding another section of the railroad. One company of the latter regiment was then guarding the Long Bridge, and still another was on duty at Arlington Mills, while the remainder was ordered to Alexandria with the Second (three months') Regiment. Colonel Taylor, commanding the Third (three years') Regiment, was at the same time instructed to march to a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and during the night following, the First and Second (three years') Regiments were moved forward to Vienna. On the 17th orders were issued to all. the regiments in the command to provide themselves with two days' cooked rations, and on the 8th, General Runyon assumed command of all the troops not on the march to the front.
These dispositions were in view of the battle of Bull Run, which was fought and lost by the Union army on July 21st. The nearest that any of the Jersey troops came to participation in it, was that the First and Second (three years) Regiments and the First (three months) Regiment were marched toward Centreville during the day, and that the two first-named reached the town in season to arrest with fixed bayonets the rush of thousands of panic-stricken fugitives toward Washington, and rally them into something like order. They performed this duty most faithfully and the value of their services was. fully recognized by General McDowell.
On July 24th the Third and Fourth Regiments, their term of enlistment having expired, were ordered to report to General Mansfield to be mustered out. The First and Second received the same orders on the following day; and after being formally discharged the brigade returned home to New Jersey, where it was accorded an enthusiastic reception. A majority of the men re-enlisted in the long-term regiments and were bank in the field before they had time to forget a movement of the manual of arms.
It has been estimated that in the early months of the war fully five thousand citizens of New Jersey enlisted in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere in the regiments of other States. They were bent upon entering the army, and as the three months' quota of New Jersey was already filled, they sought service outside. Whole companies were thus transferred to neighboring States and their identity as Jersey commands thus lost. They cannot now be traced, but it may be mentioned that the renowned Excelsior Brigade of New York embraced many Jersey soldiers in its ranks, An unknown number of Camden County men crossed the river, and in Philadelphia enrolled themselves in commands of the Keystone State.
1. This was the first official tender of a company made in the State. Foster says that the first regimental offer was made on the same day, when Lieutenant-Colonel V. R. Matthews, commanding the First Regiment, Hunterdon Brigade, wrote to the Governor proffering their services. The first individual offer, according to Governor Olden's records, was that of General Joseph W. Revere, of the Morris Brigade, who, in January, 1861, tendered his services in any capacity in which they might be required. This offer was renewed and accepted on April 17th.
2. They left Trenton without a round of ammunition. Captain Charles P. Smith was sent to New York that day to procure it, but was unsuccessful, until a Mr. Blunt, a dealer on Broadway, agreed to let him have a certain quantity of cartridges and percussion caps on his personal security. He reached Jersey City with a dray-load, notwithstanding the New York authorities had prohibited any ammunition from being taken from the city. There he had a controversy with the railroad officials, who refused to take such freight on a passenger train, but compromised by allowing it to be packed in an iron crate, which was towed a long way astern of the train. At 10.30 that night Captain Smith reached Camden, where a tug was in waiting for him. The flotilla with the brigade was intercepted as it was passing the city; he transferred the crate to the various vessels, and its contents were served out to the men as they went on down the Delaware.
FIRST BRIGADE THREE YEARS' TROOPS
President Lincoln and his advisors did not long entertain the notion, so prevalent up to, and even after the firing upon of Sumter, that the war would be ended and the Southern Confederacy subdued before the summer was well advanced. April had not indeed run out its course before the President was made, by the logic of events, to comprehend that a long and desperate civil conflict must be prepared for and that it would require a tremendous draft upon the men and money of the nation to save it from total wreck. The day for temporizing and half-way military measures had flown by, and on May 3, 1861, the President called for thirty-nine regiments of infantry and one of cavalry to serve for three years or during the war. Although the number of men thus summoned was so small in comparison with the hosts of later years, the length of the term of enlistment is evidence that the government at last appreciated the magnitude of its task. Governor Olden did not receive the requisition upon New Jersey, which was for three regiments of infantry, until the 17th, More than enough companies were organized and awaiting the mustering officer, and the Governor, in announcing this fact to the War Department, added that "If the occasion required their services, this State would willingly furnish twice as many regiments to serve during the war."
From these companies were formed the First, Second and Third Regiments of the three years' service. They were furnished with camp and garrison equipage by the State, but were armed by the United States. Company E, Captain Charles N. Pelouze, of the First Regiment, Colonel William R. Montgomery, and Company B, Captain Henry C. Gibson, of the Third, Colonel George W. McLean, were Camden County volunteers. The three regiments left Trenton on June 28th, and reported to General Scott at Washington on the following day. Their movements up to and on the day of the battle of Bull Run have been recorded in the history of the three months' men. After that engagement the First and Second went into camp near Alexandria, and thither the Third was ordered from Fairfax, where it. had been posted during the battle.
On July 24th Governor Olden was notified that the government would accept five additional regiments, " to be taken, as far as convenient, from the three months' men and officers just discharged; and to be organized, equipped and sent forward as fast as single regiments are ready, on the same terms as were those already in service." The Fourth Regiment, Colonel James H. Simpson, with which William B. Hatch, of Camden, went out as major and was promoted to colonel, was mustered on August 20th, and, with Captain William Hexamer's battery, was forwarded to the front on the 21st. It comprised in part four full companies raised in Camden County as follows: A, Captain Charles Meves; F, Captain Napoleon B. Aaronson ;G, Captain Henry M. Jewett; and H, Captain John Reynolds. The regiment camped with the First, Second and Third near Alexandria, and the four were early in August combined as the First New Jersey Brigade and placed under the command of that illustrious and dauntless soldier, General Philip Kearny, who had already distinguished himself as a fighter in Mexico, Algeria and Italy, and against the Indians on the frontier, and whose death at the battle of Chantilly, August 30, 1862, was to deprive the army of a commander in whom military skill and personal courage combined to form the ideal brigadier. In recalling the grand reputation which this brigade achieved under Kearny and other chiefs, it is a most proper cause for local pride that Camden County contributed to its ranks six full companies that shared in its perils, its victories and its honors. They were among the men who had so endeared themselves to his lion heart, that when he was offered the command of Sumner's division he refuscl1 to accept it because he would not be permitted to take his Jersey regiments with him.
The Third Regiment received its baptism of fire in an ambuscade in which it fell at Cloud's Mills on August 29th, and on September 29th, Kearny had the whole brigade out for a reconnaissance of the enemy's lines at. Mason's Hill. On October 14th a detachment of the First emptied several saddles of a Confederate cavalry force which it encountered, and lost three or four killed. After spending the winter inactively the brigade, which was attached to General William B. Franklin's division, was, on March 7, 1862, pushed towards Manassas, the First Regiment, which had been the last to leave Centreville on the retreat of July 21, 1861, having the honor of being the first. to occupy the place on the second advance.
On the 10th the brigade colors were unfurled over the abandoned Confederate works at Manassas, eight companies of the Third leading the advance. On McClellan's preparations to transfer the army to the Virginia Peninsula the Jersey regiments, which had been placed in the First Division of the First Army Corps, moved to Catlett's Station, where they remained from April 7th to the 11th, when they retraced their steps to Alexandria and embarked for York Point, York River, on the 17t.h. May 5th they advanced to West Point under command of Colonel Taylor, Kearny having been promoted to the command of the division, and on the night of that day the First Regiment captured at. a charge and held a position which two New York regiments had proved unable to maintain. Its gallantry was testified to by a correspondent. of the New York Times, who wrote that "The line was as firm as a division in a column at. review. Colonel McAllister, when the enemy broke, bravely pursued them some distance. This firm and determined movement decided the result, and the rebels made good their retreat."
These minor plays on the great chess-board of the campaign had fitted Taylor and his men for the first of the important battles in which they were destined to enter. On June 27th they left camp on the south side of the Chickahominy River, and crossing that dank and sluggish stream at Woodbury's bridge, plunged into the thick of the fight at Gaines' Mills, where Fitz-John Porter's and McCall's lines were giving way under the impact of the enemy's pressure. Swinging full into the face of the Confederate musketry and artillery fire, the brigade fought the rebels at a distance of four hundred yards and was badly hurt, until Taylor ordered a charge that drove them out of the woods into an open field, where he met their reserves and was compelled to fall back. The Fourth Regiment, four companies of which were Camden men, was sent into the woods by order of one of McClellan's aids, and there sustained the brunt of a fight at close quarters. Five hundred of its number were taken' prisoners. Colonel Simpson was one of the unfortunates, and in letters dated from prison in Richmond he thus described the action and sequel,
regiment was posted in the wood to sustain the center in the battle near
Gaines' Mill, and nobly did it hold its ground until about an hour after
the right and left wings of the army had fallen back. Mine and the
Eleventh Connecticut were the last to leave the front, and only did so
when we found that the rest of the army had given way and we were
literally surrounded by the infantry and batteries of the Confederate
forces. Being in the woods, and. trusting to our superior officers to
inform us when to retreat, and not being able to see, on account of the
woods, what was going on towards our right and left- we continued
fighting an hour, probably, after every other regiment had left the
ground. The consequence was inevitable. We were surrounded by ten times
our number, and though we could have fought until every man of us was
slain, yet humanity, and, as I think, wisdom, dictated that we should at
In a subsequent letter to his wife, Colonel Simpson stated that fifty-three enlisted men were. killed and one hundred and twenty-one wounded, out of the six hundred whom he took into action. Captain Meves of Company A, was killed, and Lieutenant Charles Meyer, of the sallie company, wounded. The brigade had gone into the fight with twentyeight hundred in its ranks, and but nine hundred and sixty-five answered to their names when the roll was called in camp at midnight. 'The First Regiment lost twentyone killed, including Major David Hatfield, seventy-eight wounded and sixty missing. The Third had thirty-four killed, one hundred and thirty-six wounded and thirty-five missing. Lieutenant-Colonel McAllister, in his report of the participation of the former command in the battle, spoke of Captain Pelouze, of the Camden company, as one of whom "too much cannot be said in praise."
In 1894, John Beech, a sergeant with Company B, gave the following account of the events at Gaines Mill to the NATIONAL TRIBUNE:
On the 27th of June, 1862, at 3 o'clock p.m., my regiment - the 4th New Jersey - was sent into the fight at Gaines' Mills to relieve a Pennsylvania regiment. We remained until near dark, when we were relieved by the 11th Pennsylvania, and then retired out of the woods, where we had been fighting, into an open field, and formed line of battle. It was nearly dark, and on emerging from the woods, we faced by the rear rank, which made the left of the regiment the right (as we stood), my company (B) being nearest to the troops standing in line of battle in our front. "What troops are those?" suddenly enquired our colonel (Simpson). "Don't know; but we will find out," replied Lieutenant Shaw, and he started off towards them on a dog trot. He had gone about fifty yards, when one of them put up his rifle and blazed away at him, cutting his sword belt. "Now you know who they are," he sang out, as he rejoined the company. "Left face! forward, by file right!" sang out our colonel, his intention being to take a new position under cover of a bush camp, but before we could exe cute the movement the enemy had opened. "Lie down 4th battalion!" sang out our colonel, just as the 11th Pennsylvania was driven out pell-mell on top of us, followed by the exultant enemy. It seemed almost impossible for anything to live in such a fire, and the Johnnies must have killed a good many of their own men as they followed up the 11th Pennsylvania.
They ordered us to lay down or arms, and it was folly to do otherwise, as we were entirely surrounded by Longstreet's division, and no Union troops were anywhere near, all having retreated. Just then a rebel captain came up to Lieutenant-Colonel Hatch, (since dead of wounds received at Fredericksburg), and demanded his sword. "I surrender to no inferior," he replied, as he defiantly broke the blade across his knee and flung away the scabbard. They allowed our colonel, I think, to retain his sword on account of the gallant defense he had made.
We slept at Longstreet's headquarters that night, and the next day they marched us into Richmond, amid the taunts and jeers of the populace, and up Main street to Libby, where we were searched. They took my diary from me and a letter containing money for a birthday present for a sister, which I had failed to mail, which was very fortunate for me, as I afterwards found out, for, after looking at them, to my surprise, they handed them back - no doubt thinking them worthless. After washing, they took our names and we passed upstairs. The next day, Sunday, the rebs paraded with our colors and those of the 11th Pennsylvania. As they passed Libby we gathered at the windows and defiantly sang "Hail Columbia" and the "Star Spangled Banner." On Monday, the 30th, we moved out of Libby to another prison, a little further up the street, where we remained until the 15th of July, when we were marched over to Belle Isle. This was over a year before Comrade Meadville was captured, according to the statement reprinted by The TRIBUNE, from the Pittsburg Leader, and there were some prisoners there (though not many) when we got there.
Much has been written about prison-life and its sufferings, yet none but those who experienced it can realize what it cost us to remain true to our country through it all. I kept a diary of daily occurrences, as also our bill of fare, but will not intrude upon your valuable space by going into details. Three thousand five hundred of us were exchanged on the 5th of August, 1862. Who will ever forget that terrible march from Belle Island to Aitkens' [Aiken's] landing, or the contrast between us and the rebels who were exchanged for us, and whom we passed on the way? No doubt some of your readers were there.
But I must not forget to relate a little incident that happened on the Island, as showing that the boys, notwithstanding their surroundings, were fond of a joke. Of course we had no trouble to eat all the rations they gave us, so I took the money spoken of and went into business; that is, I bought flour and made flapjacks out of flour and water, and then sold enough to pay for the flour and divided the rest among my tent mates. One day one of my company, named Sam Farrell, who put up in another tent, came to me and wanted to trade a drawing of tea for some cakes. The very thought of tea made my mouth water, so the exchange was soon made and the drawing of tea put over the fire. Bending over the old tin cup, I waited until my patience was exhausted. "What is the matter with the tea, anyhow; there is no strength in it," I exclaimed. Over in another tent, Farrell and the other boys were grinning from ear to ear at the sell. The fact was, they had stewed it three times and as often dried it, and then sold it to me, and when we met they wanted to know how I liked my tea. But I forgive them!
Two years later, on May 5, 1864 Sergeant Beech was at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. For his gallant actions that day he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 5, 1894.
During the night after the battle the shattered brigade recrossed to the right bank of the Chickahominy, and at midnight of the 28th took up the line of retreat by way of Savage Station and White Oak Swamp to James River. A sharp fight occurred at White Oak Creek, where the Jerseymen occupied a position of peril between the opposing lines, and were lucky to escape damage by hugging the ground as the shells flew over them, They passed Malvern Hill on July 1st without being called into the battle then raging, and reached Harrison's Landing, on the James River, on the morning of the 2d.
Col. Hatch was exchanged and returned to the 4th New Jersey on August 5, of 1862.
On August 24th the brigade landed at Alexandria, McClellan having abandoned the Peninsula and transferred his army by water to the Potomac. Three days afterward it was pushed forward to Bull Run Bridge and the old battlefield. The First Regiment had three hundred men fit for duty; the Second, two hundred and fifty; the Third, three hundred and seventy-five; and the Fourth, seventy-five. On this day, the 27th, the opening of Pope's battle of Bull Run, it fought for several hours a more superior force of Stonewall Jackson's corps, losing nine killed and three hundred and ten wounded, missing and prisoners. Colonel Taylor was severely wounded, and died on September 1st. Compelled to relinquish the field, the brigade retired to Cloud's Mills, but in a week was on the march again with McClellan's pursuit of Lee into Maryland, Colonel A. T. A. Torbert having succeeded Taylor in command. On September 14th it won the battle of Crampton's Gap by a splendid charge up the side of a steep acclivity, capturing enough Springfield rifles to arm the Fourth Regiment, which had been equipped with smooth bores. This regiment, which had lost its colors at Gaines' Mill, captured two stands of rebel colors at Crampton's Gap.
Colonel Hatch wrote the following report after the battle:
Report of Col. William B. Hatch, Fourth New Jersey Infantry,
CRAMPTON'S PASS, MD.,
Lieut. H.P. COOKE,
I have the honor to report that, in compliance with orders received on the 16th instant from Col. A.T.A. Torbert, then in command of the brigade, I took position with the Fourth Regiment New Jersey Volunteers in rear of the Second Regiment, forming part of the second line of battle. The Second Regiment had engaged the enemy, who held a strong position behind a stone wall at the foot of the mountain with a large force of infantry. I then received orders to charge the enemy. I advanced across a plowed field of 400 yards in extent under a heavy cross-fire from the enemy's artillery, which was planted on the mountain slope, driving him from every point in front of us. We leaped the walls, and continued, in pursuing over the mountain into the gorge and up the next ascent to its summit, the enemy retreating in disorder into the valley below. We took many prisoners, including a large number of officers, among whom was Col. Lamar, wounded, and is adjutant; also two stand of colors. In the eagerness of pursuit we ran over two other rebel flags, which were picked up by a New York regiment. Among the spoils of the engagement obtained by us were a sufficient number of Springfield rifled muskets to equip my whole command, who were previously armed with an imperfect smooth-bore musket.
Where officer and men fought with such determination it is impossible for me to make an exception for brave and gallant conduct during the engagement. My officers bravely cheered on their men, who advanced with unflinching steadiness, and maintained their alignment with almost the precision of a battalion drill. On the list of casualties of the day the most to be regretted is Adjt. Josiah S. Studdeford, who was instantly killed after we had reached the gorge between the mountain cliffs. He had borne himself gallantly, everywhere cheering the men to victory. Ten killed 27 wounded; total, 37.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. B. HATCH,
At the battle of Antietam, on the 11th, the Regiment relieved Sumner's corps at midnight and was not actually engaged, although it was for six hours exposed to a hot artillery fire.
After Antietam, replacements were furnished to the regiment, including Captain William R. Maxwell of Camden, New Jersey, who was transferred in from the Tenth New Jersey Volunteers. Both men had been present at the first meeting in Camden after the Fort Sumter attack in 1861.
At Fredericksburg, December 13th and 14th, it saw hard fighting on the left of the line, and Colonel William B. Hatch was fatally wounded in leading the Fourth Regiment to an assault. Previous to this the Fifteenth and Twenty-fourth Regiments had been added to the brigade and it had been placed in the Sixth Corps. At Chancellorsville, on May 3, 1863, it was for two hours and a half engaged with Longstreet's veterans near Salem Church, and the casualties footed up five hundred and eleven men killed, wounded and missing.
In the battle of Gettysburg it embraced the First, Second, Third and Fifteenth Regiments and Hexamer's battery, the Fourth Regiment being on provost duty at Washington. It was on the picket line during the decisive fighting of July 3d, and on the 4th joined in the pursuit of Lee.
While Grant was marshaling the army for the grand advance, the Tenth New Jersey Regiment was assigned to the brigade. Company A, Captain Isaac W. Mickle; Company E, Captain George W. Scott; Company H, Captain John R. Cunningham, and Company I, Captain John Coates were recruited in Camden. The brigade had three-days of fighting in the Wilderness during the first week of May, 1864, and on the 10th took part in the celebrated charge on the Conferate works near Spottsylvania, in which a thousand prisoners and several guns were captured. On the 12th it was in the furious assault of that day and the subsequent struggle over the rebel entrenchments, "the intense fury, heroism and horror of which," Edward A. Pollard wrote, "it is impossible to describe." This was the awful and stubborn contest in "the bloody angle," and no command suffered a heavier loss than did the five Jersey regiments. They were driven from and retook the Galt House on the 14th, and until the 18th were participants in skirmishes along the North Anna and Tolopotomy Rivers. At Cold Harbor, June 1st to 3d, they were constantly under fire. The terms of service of the First and Third Regiments had expired on May 23d, but they remained at the front to take part in the battle of Cold Harbor. They reached Trenton on June 7th, and were mustered out on June 23d. Of the two thousand and sixty-eight officers and enlisted men who had left the State capital on June 28, 1861, only three hundred and forty returned for muster out, of whom one hundred and thirty-nine belonged to the First and two hundred and one to the Third Regiment. The Fourth, with the exception of the men who had re-enlisted, returned from the front August 19, 1864, and was mustered out on the next day; it came back with four hundred and twentyfour privates and officers, while it had taken one thousand and thirty-four to the field three years before. The re-enlisted men of the First and Third, which ceased to exist as organizations, were at first transferred to the Fourth and Fifteenth, but were subsequently consolidated into the First, Second and Third Battalions, and, with the Fourth, Tenth and Fifteenth Regiments from that time until February, 1865, constituted the First Brigade. The Fourth thus kept up its organization through its re-enlisted men, and thus has an unbroken history until the termination of the war.
In July, 1864, the brigade was sent with the Sixth Corps to check Early in the Shenandoah Valley, and on August 17th delayed his advance for six hours at Winchester. On September 19th it was in the direct assault upon the rebel front at Opequan, and was gallantly instrumental in sending the enemy "whirling up the valley." On the 22d, at Fisher's Hill, it repeated its achievement, and at the battle of Cedar Creek, on October 19th, it formed on the left of the line and fought steadily to maintain its ground, but was finally overwhelmed and forced to retire. When Sheridan, however, arrived upon the scene and turned defeat into victory it reformed and did its duty in the charge that repulsed Early and ended the war in the valley. On December 1st it rejoined the Army of the Potomac; April 2, 1865, it helped to take the Confederate entrenchments on the Boydton Plank Road, in front of Petersburg, and it was close to Appomattox when Lee's surrender was made. Thence it was ordered to Danville, Va., and not until May 24th did it march through Richmond on its way northward. On June 2d it encamped five miles from Washington, where the regiments were mustered out. At Trenton they were dissolved, and this scarred and storied command ceased to exist.
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