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  • 10th Rhode Island Veterans Association Medal

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    10th Rhode Island Veterans Association Medal - Inventory Number: VET 101

    Volens Et Paratus

    "Ready and Willing" 

    It's form, a spade, is suggestive of the shoveling done by the regiment on Battery Vermont, with the mercury at 100 degrees in the shade!  The badge also bears the date of enlistment, May, 1862, with the State anchor of hope.  In the lower left hand corner is an infantry emblem, crossed muskets on a field of blue, and in the opposite corner an artillery emblem with crossed cannon on a field of red.  The badge is supported by a gold bar with a military cap in the center, marked "10, R.I. Vols," and "Battery".


    Rhode Island Tenth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers. (Three Months)

         On the 25th of May, 1862, at midnight, a dispatch was received by Governor Sprague, announcing that the enemy in great force were marching on Washington, and calling for every available man to rally to its defense.  Just an hour later the Governor issued an order for two regiments of infantry, and a battery of artillery for immediate service. The response was prompt and the ranks quickly filled; marching orders were given, and the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers reported for duty at the-Capital, on the 29th.

        In order to understand the military situation in Virginia, at that time, it will be necessary to go back a little.

        The whole campaign of 1861, beginning with Bull Run, had been discouraging, and the winter passed away without further active service except picket duty.  But in March 1862, the Confederates having been defeated at Winchester, and, having fallen back from Manassas to a new line of defense on the Rappahannock, the Army of the Potomac was in motion.  It was conveyed by water from Alexandria to Fortress Monroe and marched up the Peninsula to attack the rebel Capital. Although resisted at Yorktown and Williamsburg. it pressed steadily forward, till on the 21st of May it was within a few miles of Richmond.  Meanwhile, McClellan had sent repeated calls for reinforcements from McDowell's corps, which had been withheld for the defense of Washington, and, on the 17th of May, President Lincoln telegraphed, " At your urgent call for reinforcements McDowell is sent forward but is not in any event to uncover Washington."

        Unfortunately for the delay, a disturbing element now appeared, which not only prevented the junction of McDowell with McClellan, but which totally disarranged all the well-laid Union plans in Virginia.  Early in May, Stonewall Jackson (whose daring activity was worth an army to the Confederates), left his position before Richmond with a force of twenty thousand men, and made one of his brilliant raids up the Valley of the Shenandoah.  Falling like a hammer upon General Banks' little army at Winchester, on the 24th, he sent it whirling before him across the Potomac, and threatened the City of Washington.  Great was the alarm- and consternation.  McDowell was ordered back when within a day's march of McClellan.  The President took military possession of the railroads, and on Sunday, the 25th, Secretary Stanton issued orders calling upon the militia of the loyal States to defend the Capital.

        The following is the dispatch sent to the Governor of Rhode Island: 

                                      WASHINGTON, May 25, 1862.

        To the Governor of Rhode Island:

         Intelligence from various quarters, leaves no doubt that the enemy, in great force is advancing on Washington.  You will please organize and forward immediately all the militia and volunteer force in your State.

                                            EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

        At midnight a second dispatch was received by Governor Sprague, as follows:

         " Send all the troops forward that you can immediately.  Banks is completely routed.  Enemy are in large forge advancing upon Harper's Ferry.

                                           EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

        Just an hour later the Governor issued the following order:

                                      PROVIDENCE, May 25, 1862.

         Citizens of the State capable of bearing arms will at once report themselves to the nearest military organization.  The commandants of the chartered and volunteer military companies will at once organize their companies and the men so reporting, into companies of eighty-three men, rank and file, and report to their headquarters, where they will be armed, equipped and moved under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, to Washington, to protect the National Capital from the advance of the rebels, who are now rapidly approaching.

         General Robbins is directed to organize and command the first regiment, and will order his brigade under arms, and form it into a regiment.

         The second regiment will be under command of captain Bliss, of the United States Army.

         The Providence Marine Corps of Artillery will be placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel E. C. Gallup, as Captain, and he is directed to organize the same.

         Colonel Shaw is ordered to assemble the National Guard for organization. Rhode Island troops will move through Baltimore, and if their progress is impeded by the rebel mob of that city, they will mete out to it the punishment which it has long merited.

         Our regiments will move to Washington to defend the Capital, in common with thousands of our patriotic countrymen who will rush to arms to ward off the danger which is imminent.

                                                                    WM. SPRAGUE, Governor.

                                                                    AUG. HOPPIN,  Asst. Adj. General.

         The alarm thus indicated, aroused every loyal citizen and the excitement was almost as tumultuous as when Sumter was fired on a year before.  The response was equally prompt and worthy of the State.  Within an incredibly short space of time, the Ninth and Tenth Regiments, and the Tenth Light Battery were organized and started for Washington.

         The Tenth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers was principally recruited from an organization of the citizens of Providence, banded together for State defense, and known as the First Regiment Rhode Island National Guards, which had offered its services to the Governor, May 23d, for any emergency.  At one o'clock, A. M., May 26th, the order came to Colonel Shaw, commanding the Regiment, to organize it immediately for active service; at nine o'clock A. M. the companies met at their respective armories; at seven o'clock P. M. of the same day, 613 men were reported to the Governor, as ready to march.  It was the general desire and expectation that Col. James Shaw, Jr., would be the Colonel of the Regiment, but he chose to be content with deserving the position and declined the honor in favor of a worthy officer who had seen service, Captain Zenas R. Bliss, U. S. Army.

         "We left Providence," wrote a member of the Regiment, "on the 27th, at 5.20 P. M., and were received everywhere on the route with great enthusiasm.  At Philadelphia, they feasted us and filled our knapsacks at the rooms of the Cooper Volunteer Relief Association.  There was no trouble at Baltimore.  The southern sympathizers had disappeared from the streets, and the stars and stripes were flying from the public buildings; arriving at Washington at six o'clock P. M., of the 29th, we were quartered for the night in the barracks pear the depot, and the next day, marched to Tennallytown, about six miles northwest of the city.  As we passed along Pennsylvania avenue, by the White House, the Regiment was received with loud plaudits.  Lieutenant-Colonel Shaw was in command."

        When the Regiment reached its destination, the rain was pouring in torrents, but tents were pitched in a wood, on a gentle slope, and it was christened "Camp Frieze," in honor of the Quartermaster-General of the State.  May 29th, a second detachment for the Regiment was sent forward, which arrived at camp Saturday evening, June 1st.  The Regiment was assigned to the brigade of General Samuel P. Sturgis and was mustered into the service of the United States, by Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas.

         Meanwhile the alarm for the safety of the Capital had slowly subsided.  Stonewall Jackson, after accomplishing his mission of alarming Washington, and saving Richmond, by preventing the junction of McDowell and McClellan, rapidly retreated down the Valley, burning the bridges after him, and successfully eluding the pursuit of Fremont, Banks and McDowell.

        Taking advantage of the confusion which had been created, the Confederate army defending Richmond under General Joseph E. Johnston, made a furious attack upon the left wing of General McClellan's army May 31st, at Fair Oaks, a few miles east of Richmond, while it was divided into two parts by the Chickahominy river.  It commenced with every prospect of success, but the day following, June 1st, turned into disaster and rout, which sent them back to Richmond in a panic.  General Johnston was severely wounded, and General Lee assumed the chief command.

        After Fair Oaks, there was a pause of several weeks in active operations in front of Richmond.  Rain storms of great severity, and Virginia mud, rendered further advance almost impossible. All was quiet also on the Potomac, among the troops around the Capital, and the regular routine of camp-life continued at Camp Frieze, in the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers, with its daily drills and details for guard and picket duty.

         On June 17th, Company B, Captain Elisha Dyer, enjoyed a little diversion, in the way of a secret expedition (about two miles from camp), capturing a rebel field-howitzer, which was concealed on the premises of a well-known southern sympathizer. It is now in the museum of the Rhode Island Historical Society.

         On June 12th, General McDowell advised McClellan, " For the third time I am ordered to join you, and hope this time to get through ... McCall's division goes in advance by water.  I will be with you in ten days, with the remainder, by Fredericksburg."

         To support this proposed movement to the Peninsula, a general advance was ordered, on the 20th instant, of the forces around Washington.  On the 22d, the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers and Battery were ordered by General Sturgis to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning, and on the 25th, transportation having been furnished, regimental orders were issued by Colonel Bliss to move the next morning. Reveille was sounded at two o'clock A. M., on the 26th, and the Regiment broke up its camp and marched to Washington.  It passed over the Long Bridge about ten o'clock A. M., making the old wooden structure shake with its measured tramp.  A toilsome march of several hours followed under the fierce rays of the Virginia sun, when the Regiment encamped for the night under the guns of Fort Ward near Fairfax Seminary, a few miles west of Alexandria.  Various were the theories advanced that night as to the final destination.  One of the knowing ones declared "that at last we were on the way to the Peninsula, to help make an end of the Confederacy!"  Not much was said about fighting, doubtless a good deal of thinking was done on that tender subject.  But on that very day, the 26th, the crisis of the Peninsula campaign had been reached.  With Richmond but five miles away, McClellan on the 25th, still further advanced his left, under Hooker, till he was in sight of the Richmond steeples, when suddenly the old disturbing element, Stonewall Jackson and his foot cavalry appeared on the exposed right, which had been extended northward for the junction with McDowell, who never came.  Jackson's movements in the valley of Virginia had been so skillfully made and concealed, that for fear of another raid on Washington, McDowell was withheld at the critical moment, and on the 25th, the Secretary of War telegraphed McClellan, " Neither Banks, Fremont or McDowell, have any accurate knowledge of Jackson's whereabouts."

         Jackson was already at Richmond.  He joined Lee on the 26th, and on the 27th went into the battle of Gaines' Mills, which threw McClellan on the defensive, and threatened his communications with the White House.  Hooker's advance on the left before Richmond was quickly withdrawn, and after seven days of terrible fighting and retreating, the Army of the Potomac arrived at Harrison's Landing on the James, and McClellan's advance upon Richmond had ended in failure,

         On the twenty-sixth day of June, the same day on which the Tenth Rhode Island took up its line of march into Virginia, the troops about Washington, with the forces of Fremont, Banks and McDowell were consolidated into one army, called the Army of Virginia, and Major-General John Pope, whose energy and success in the West had given him reputation, was put in command by the President.  There was no enemy confronting him, Jackson having disappeared from Northern Virginia, and being that day in the fight at Gaines' Mills, which forced McClellan's retreat to the James river.  Jackson's rapid and masterly movements had accomplished the desired effect of alarming Washington and withholding the armies of Northern Virginia from rendering the Army of the Potomac any substantial aid.

         The month of July was spent, both by Generals Pope and McClellan, in reorganization and discipline.  On June 30th, in obedience to orders the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers left its camp near Fairfax Seminary and marched to Alexandria. It was carried by water to Washington and the same night marched back to Tennallytown and bivouacked for the night in an open field, without fonts or blankets.  On the next day, July 1st, it was assigned to the following forts: Company B, Capt. Elisha Dyer, and Company K, Capt. G. Frank Low, Fort Pennsylvania, which was regimental headquarters. Company D, Capt. Wm. S. Smith, Fort DeRussey; Company A, Capt. Wm. E. Taber, Jr., Fort Franklin; Company E, Capt. Hopkins B. Cady, and Company I, Capt. Wm. M. Halo, Fort Alexander; Company H, Capt. Christopher Duckworth,, Battery Vermont and Martin Scott; Company C, Capt. Jeremiah Vose, Fort Cameron; Company G, Capt. A. Crawford Greene, Fort Gaines.  This chain of forts extended over a space of six or eight miles, commanding the Potomac at Chain Bridge, and the roads leading to Rockville and Harper's Ferry.  Their occupancy devolved upon the Regiment weighty responsibilities. Commendable progress was soon made in heavy artillery drill, beside which a daily detail of forty men were vent by order to work on Battery Vermont.  On the same day, July 1st, by special orders No. 14, William A. Spicer, of Company B, and Charles H. Wildman, of Company D, were detailed for service at the headquarters of General Pope, in Washington, in July, and in the field during the month of August.  The anniversary of National Independence was made a marked occasion at Fort Franklin, by a presentation of colors to Company A, Captain Taber, from the ladies of the fifth ward in Providence.  July 28th, Company G, Captain Greene, raised the first flag over Fort Gaines.  August 6th, Colonel Z. R. Bliss issued a farewell order to the Regiment, to take command of the Seventh Regiment then organizing.  Major Babbitt, with upwards of seventy-five members of the Tenth, afterwards joined the Seventh.  He was killed in battle at Fredericksburg the following November. Lieutenant-Colonel Shaw now assumed command of the Tenth, and was commissioned Colonel, August 6th.  He was a most valuable officer and excellent disciplinarian, ever watchful for the rights and comfort of his command, now distributed among the various forts and batteries west and northwest of the Capital.

         Meanwhile an important order had been issued by the President which produced an entire change in the military situation.  He had lost confidence in McClellan's ability to overmatch such Generals as Lee and Jackson.  There was also a serious conflict of opinion between Generals Pope and McClellan.  On July 11th, therefore, the President appointed General H. W. Halleck, general-in chief of all the armies of the Union.  He assumed command July 29th, and one of his first official acts was the order for the removal of the Army of the Potomac from the James to Aquia Creek, and reinforce the army of General Pope. McClellan remonstrated in vain.  General Halleck replied, "I find the two armies hopelessly separated, with the enemy between them, and I propose to reunite them."  On the same day, the 29th, General Pope took the field and concentrated his army in the direction of Gordonsville, with orders to prevent any concentration of Lee's army on McClellan's during the confusion of removal from the Peninsula.  On August 7th, Pope's cavalry watched the line of the Rapidan river from the base of the Blue Ridge to its junction with the Rappahannock, near Fredericksburg.  Meantime, as soon as General Lee became aware of the movement of the Army of the Potomac to evacuate the Peninsula, Richmond being now safe from that direction, he assumed the offensive, and pushed his army rapidly northward in the endeavor to crush General Pope and capture Washington before the Army of the Potomac could reinforce him.  His advance was first resisted by General Pope, August 9th, at Cedar Mountain, near the Rapidan, after which the Union Army fell back slowly from one position to another towards Washington, Pope successfully delaying his assailants, but unable to hold them in check.  Daring and successful raids were made on his train and supplies on the night of August 23d, by the rebel General Stuart, at Catlett's Station, in the rear of his army, thirty-eight miles from Washington, and by Stonewall Jackson, August 24th, at Manassas, twenty-seven miles from Washington which caused him to fall back more rapidly.  The Federal Army fought bravely and suffered severely a second time at Bull Run, on the 30th of August, but by stubbornly disputing the way, General Pope had gained time for McClellan's army to reach the scene of action, and thus Washington was saved.

         Meanwhile, the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers had been holding the forts which defended the western approaches to the Capital; its term of service having expired, it was relieved by the One Hundred and Thirteenth New York Volunteers, and started

    for home August 25th, accompanied by the Tenth Rhode Island Light Battery.  It proceeded through Baltimore, Harrisburg and Easton to Elizabethport, N. J., where it embarked on the steamer Bay State, for Providence, arriving on the morning of the 28th.  It was received with a national salute, and escortedby the Marine Artillery and the First Ward Light Guards, to Exchange Place, where it was dismissed to the several armories to partake of a bountiful collation.

         During its term of service two men died, and three were left behind in hospitals sick.

         The Regiment was particularly fortunate in its chaplain, Rev. A. Huntington Clapp, the honored pastor of the Beneficent Congregational Church in Providence.  He was singularly qualified for the duties of his office, and devoted himself with unremitting fidelity to the temporal and spiritual welfare of the men.  Indeed, most of the officers were well known to the rank and file, and good order and discipline prevailed.

    Some of the best citizens of Providence were members of this Regiment from almost every rank and profession.  There was the merchant, the lawyer and the banker; the mechanic and tradesman, with the clerk from behind his counter.  There were the students, from the college and high school, led by Captain Elisha Dyer, formerly Governor of the State, whose former position gave increased value to the service now rendered.

         Our distinguished senior Senator, Hon. Nelson W. Aldrich, was then, at the age of twenty-two, a Private soldier in Company D, and Ex-Mayor Henry R. Barker was a Sergeant in Company I. Rev. F. F. Emerson was a Private in Company B, and Joseph Ward, President of Yankton College, was a Private in Company D. Captain William M. Hale, of Company I, was promoted, August 11th, to Lieutenant-Colonel, and Lieutenant Samuel H. Thomas, of Company B, became Captain of Company I.

         The Regiment was mustered out of service September Ist. During its term of service it held an exposed position, in a chain of forts and batteries, protecting the Capital on the west and north, relieving older troops for active service in the field.  Certainly no regiment ever left the State more promptly in response to the Governor's call, and no regiment hastened to the rescue of the Capital under a more solemn sense of duty.

         In his report to the Governor, in October, Colonel Shaw says, "Of the character and conduct of the Regiment I cannot speak in too high terms of praise. It was all that could be asked.  The guard-house was almost a useless institution.  We were permitted to perform but an humble part in the great struggle for all that we hold most dear, but I hope that this part was well done, and that it will meet your approval, and the approval of the citizens of our honored State."


    Inventory Number: VET 101