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War between the States
5th New Hampshire Volunteers


The History

      The Fifth Regiment was formed in Concord and commissioned my Gov. Berry on August 27, 1861.  The men were a representation of every member of pro-profession; farmers, mechanics, teachers, policemen and shopkeepers who came from the length and breadth of the state, Clarksville to Nashua and Keene to Portsmouth.  It's commander, Col. Edward E. Cross was adventurous and dynamic.  Born in Lancaster, April 22, 1832, he became apprentice at age 15 in the printing shop of the Coos County Democrat eventually becoming a reporter for the Atlas newspaper in Cincinnati and later local editor for the Daily Times.  In 1858, as a business venture, he brought the first printing press into the territory of Arizona and began publishing it's first newspaper, The Weekly Arizonian in Tubec.  There are several accounts of duels between Cross and individuals who took issue with Cross's editorial opinions.   Apparently, no one was seriously injured in these altercations. Cross eventually left the newspaper business and accepted a commission in the Mexican Army .  When news of Ft. Sumpter reached him, he resigned and returned to New Hampshire where Gov. Berry appointed him Col. of the Fifth. On October 28, 1861, the regiment was sworn into the service of the United States and departed for Washington on the 29th with 1200 members.  One of Cross's first acts was to establish a school for his officers and NCO's in which they were taught the principals of drill and military tactics.  This was highly unusual for a volunteer regiment and credits Cross with the foresight that would reap high benefits.  The unit as a whole was subjected to hours of drill all closely supervised by Cross.  Four hours a day of close order drill had helped to make soldiers out of civilians and an extra three nights a week for his officers and sergeants on practical and theoretical problems in military tactics and organization had prepared them for effective leadership.

      Cross set the tone as a strict disciplinarian from the start and expected the best from his men.   Though sometimes harsh and impetuous, the men respected him and felt that he treated them fairly.  One incident that illustrates Cross's philosophy is that of a soldier who went up to Cross in battle in the greatest distress said, "Oh Colonel, I am wounded."  The Colonel looked down on him and gravely but quickly said. "It is the fortune of war my young man, it is the fortune of war."

      The first encounter with the enemy was on March 13, 1862 at Rappahanock Station.   Men of the Fifth got no more opportunity then to fire a few parting shots at the withdrawing Rebel forces and suffered no casualties.  This would be the first and only time in it's history that the regiment sustained no losses in combat and it's ironic that they would become known as the "Bloodless Fifth".

      The regiment was relatively inactive until McClellan's Peninsula campaign during May and June of 1862.   The culmination of McClellan's inept efforts, required him to extricate his army from a Confederate entrapment. One avenue of escape was across the Chickihominy River now swollen by several days of rain.  Existing bridges had been swept away. Orders came down from headquarters to have two bridges rebuilt. Col. Cross's regiment was selected to build one of them.  So at dawn on May 28, the Fifth stacked arms, took up axes and began.  They labored throughout the entire day felling trees and dragging them throughout the swamp, that was, in places, three feet deep.  On the morning of the 29th they were joined by a contingent from the 64th N.Y.  As a final step they lashed timbers together by grapevines that flourished in the area.  This detail was to prove important.  The main section of the span was 40 yards long but included approaches making the total length one eighth of a mile.  It was completed in two days by more than 1000 men working at Cross's direction. Soon after completion, it began to rain again, eventually washing away all bridges except for the "Grapevine Bridge".  It was thus the only bridge available to a major portion of the army to effect a safe withdrawal.
The "Grapevine Bridge" is often called Sumner's lower bridge in some Civil War books and is often incorrectly attributed to the army engineers.

      The first major engagement for the Fifth was the battle of Fair Oaks, June 1, 1862.  Losses were 30 killed, 170 wounded, including Cross, who was struck in the thigh by a minnie ball and in the left side of the face by three buckshot.  In all, seven balls struck his person or clothing. Additional engagements at Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill, completed their involvement in the Peninsula Campaign.

      Following the Peninsular disaster, McClellen settled the army into camp at Falmouth.  Some interesting, if not mundane, aspects of soldier life were recorded by Thomas L. Livermore who was then 1st Sgt. of Co. K.  "Some of the men would keep dirty until I obviated it by details to scrub dirty faces with soap and sand, and once taking three men down to the brooks in front of the camp and requiring them to strip and go in, doing the same myself to show them that it was not cruel."  In the tradition of soldiers to create their own amusement Livermore admits, "When I was among the first squad, I used to lie after "taps" and tell wondrous stories to amuse my comrades, and then finish by announcing the fabrication.

      In September of 18862, Lee initiated his Maryland invasion which resulted in the battle of Antietam on September 17th.  Here, the Fifth was involved in the heavy fighting of "the sunken road" or "bloody lane". In the words of Livermore, "On looking about me I found that we were in an old sunken road and that the bed of it lay from one to three feet below the surface of the crest along which it ran.  In this road there lay so many dead rebels that there formed a line which one might have walked on as far as I could see, many of whom had been killed by the most horrible wounds of shot and shell and they lay just as they had been killed apparently amid the blood which was soaking the earth.   It was on this ghastly flooring that we kneeled for the last struggle...As the Rebel advance became apparent we plied the line with musketry with all our power and with no doubt with terrible effect but they still advanced.  A color bearer came forward within fifteen yards of our line and with the utmost desperation waved the
flag in front of him.  Our men fairly roared "shoot the man with the flag!"   and he went down in the twinkling and the flag was not raised in sight again. As the fight grew furious the Colonel cried out "Put on the war paint!" and looking around I saw the glorious man standing erect with a red handkerchief, a conspicuous mark, tied around his bare head..Taking the cue somehow we rubbed the torn ends of cartridges over our faces, streaking them with powder like a pack of Indians and Col. to complete the similarity cried out, "Give 'em the war whoop" and all of us joined him in the Indian war whoop until it must have rung out amid the thunder of the ordinance."

      The losses for this day were seven killed and one hundred and twenty wounded out of three hundred and nineteen present for duty.  Among the wounded were Cross and Pvt. Leonard Howard from Lancaster who was struck my a musket ball that penetrated his right lung.  His story is typical of the plight of many wounded.  " I lay on the battlefield right in that ditch {Bloody Lane} for more than twenty-four hours.  The stretcher bearers passed me by.  No doubt they thought that I couldn't live, so they didn't bother to pick me up. My chum, Bill Corson, hunted all over trying to find me.  At long last he did and gave me a drink from his canteen.  He tried to get the stretcher bearers to help lug me off the field, but they refused.  They said twas no use, I'd die anyway.   So finally Bill told a couple of stretchermen that he'd report them to Col. Cross if they didn't take me off the field.  They picked me up and carried me to a set of farm buildings.  The yard was filled with wounded, as close together as they could lay.  The house and barn were filled with wounded officers and men.  The strechermen couldn't find any other place to leave me, so they dumped me in a hogpen.   The hogs had been slaughtered by
the soldiers, of course, but the pen was a mess and swarm'in with flies. (Howard survived the wound and lived to be ninety).

      Following Antietam, the Fifth with the rest of the army was involved in McClellan's ponderous pursuit of Lee.  Corp. Gove wrote in his diary, "October 29, 1862, The Fifth N.H. left Concord one year ago today.  We then had more than one hundred thousand men.  Now we can but muster two hundred.

      On Wednesday, Nov. 12, 1862, McClellan was removed from command of the army.  Gove recorded, "The boys feel badly about it, I do not care, have lost confidence in Mac.  Hope Burnside will do things up brown."  On the same subject, Cross recorded in his journal, "Here we have heard the removal of McClellan from command of the army at this time an ill-advised operation. We were going on well, and two days would have brought us to the enemy... He carried the hearts of the army with him."

      On the morning of Dec. 13, 1862 the Fifth New Hampshire formed with the remainder of the Second Corps on the streets of Fredericksburg as part of Burnside's disastrous assault on the Confederate lines entrenched on the height above the town.  Col. Cross recorded "I went to my regiment, counted my files, and found that I had two-hundred and forty nine rifles and nineteen officers - line, field and staff.  I passed along the line and spoke to the officers and men; told them it twas to be a bloody strife, to stand firm, and fire low; to close on their colors and be steady.  I told the officers, I said that they were expected to do their duty. Then I placed myself at the head of my men and we started, following the Irish Brigade.

      Fate had placed the assault for the Fifth and the Irish Brigade directly facing the infamous "stone wall" on the Marye's Height's where Confederate infantry was massed four ranks deep.   Along the six hundred yard path of advance the men suffered dreadful casualties to the effect that by the time the regiment reached the "brick house" a prominent landmark on the battlefield one hundred yards from the "stone wall" on the Marye's Heights where Confederate infantry was massed four ranks deep.  Along the six hundred yard path of advance the men suffered dreadful casualties that to the effect that by the time the regiment reached the "brick house", a prominent landmark on the battlefield one hundred yards from the "stone wall", all the officers had been killed or wounded; Cross himself having been wounded by shrapnel in the chest and face.   Knocked to the ground he was agin struck, "I tried to get to my feet but could not stand...I concluded to lie still, and lay there for more than an hour in expectation of instant death or a mortal wound.

      For the rest of the men who continued on, the accounts of survivors echo similar records.  Corp. John McCrillis, "The line has now reached the "brick house".  Every man belonging to the color guard of the Fifth is dead or wounded. Col. Cross is severely wounded, no man dares leave the ranks to  assist him.  Major Sturdevant, Captains Perry, Murray and Moore and Lieutenants Ballou, Netteton, and Little are killed.   Beyond the "brick house" extends a close board fence parallel to the "stone wall".  We have now reached the fence, the point beyond which no previous line had been able to go.  The dead and dying lay in a wide row along this fence.  With the butts of our muskets we knocked the boards off in several places.   Sgt. Gove of Co. K with the company colors dashed off toward the Rebel line Gove halted.  I was the first man on his left, next to my left was Foss of Co. E.   Gove and Foss were the only two men standing.  All the other men that were not shot down, fell down on their own accord.  I asked them to lay down.  Gove made no reply while Foss said that he would stand up until he was hit.  Hardly had Foss said this before he was shot throughout the hip.  At the same instant I heard Gove call my name.  I looked as he was going down.  I started to go to him when I was struck by a piece of shell in my left arm above the elbow, cutting a piece out of my overcoat, blouse and shirt, rendering my arm useless.  I managed to get to Gove.   He told me that he was shot through, and that I
must save the colors and not mind any thing about him. I rolled him over as carefully as I could, and gathered the tattered folds about the staff.  At this time there was no one to my right or left except the dead or wounded. Fixing my eye on an opening in the fence I made a break for the rear, out to the "brick house" where there were hundreds of men huddled...I decided to go to the rear.  Arriving at the place where we came into line at the canal I found a few of our own regiment and one officer." On the morning of Dec. 14, 1862, seventy men answered the roll.

      In his history of the Second Army Corps Gen. Francis Walker writes "The dead of Fredericksburg were buried on the following Saturday by a detachment under the command of Col. John R. Brook who was accompanied by Captain Morgan, Inspector General of the Second Corps.  Both these men have testified, in the most precise manner, that the bodies found nearest the "stone wall" were those of the Sixty-ninth New York, Fifth New Hampshire, and Fifty-third Pennsylvania."

      Following Fredericksburg the regiment went into winter quarters at Falmouth. It and the entire Second Corps were spared the misery of Burnside's "mud march". Here at Falmouth they slowly renewed their numbers through returned convalescents and recruits.   Journals and accounts reveal a monotonous routine of drill and mundane camp life activities from January well into April.  It was during this time that Cross was promoted to Brigade commander and the Fifth came under the command of Lt. Col. Charles Hapgood.

      At the battle of Chancellorsville the Fifth was held in reserve through most of the engagement and was given, along with the Eighty-first and Eigthy-eigth New York, the task of digging in to stop the Confederate troops who had routed the Eleventh Corps.

      After Hooker's defeat at Chancellorsville the army withdrew back to it's camp at Falmouth.  In June Lee began his campaign into Pennsylvania and the army of the Potomac moved in response that led to the battle of Gettysburg. The Fifth New Hampshire arrived on that field late in the evening of July 1 and was held in reserve throughout most of July 2 until about 4:30 in the afternoon when the brigade commanded my Cross, was ordered into the "wheatfield" to turn back the aggressive Confederate attack on the Federal left.   In three hours of desperate fighting the regiment lost eighty-six officers and men of one hundred seventy-seven men present for duty.  Col Cross was mortally wounded by a musket ball that struck him in the navel and exited near the spine.  He was carried to a field hospital behind Culp's Hill where the regimental surgeons did their best for him and many members of the regiment came to speak to him. Cross, conscious throughout this final struggle, died shortly after midnight July 3.  His final words "I wished that I would live to see the rebellion suppressed and peace restored...I think the boys will miss me." Thomas Livermore left these reflections  "With Col. Cross's death the glory of our regiment came to a halt.  It is true that the regiment maintained a good reputation to the end of the war and did some splendid fighting, but it was not the old regiment.  He was a brave man and clear headed in a fight; he took the most excellent care of his men in a sanitary way and was a good disciplinarian.   He taught us by rough measures, to be sure, that the implicit  obedience to orders was one of the cardinal virtues in a soldier.  He taught  us to ignore the idea of retreating.  Beside this he clothed and fed us well, taught us to build good quarters and camped us on good ground and in short did everything well to keep us well drilled and always ready to meet the enemy."

      With less than one hundred men present for duty after Gettysburg, the army command detached the Fifth from the Second Corps and returned it to New Hampshire for recruits to rebuild their decimated ranks.  The men were understandably pleased to return to New Hampshire and they did, arriving in Concord on Aug. 3, where the soldiers were granted leaves to visit their homes throughout the state.

      From August 3rd through October, the regiment remained in the state receiving conscripts.  On November 9th, they arrived by steamer at Point Lookout, Maryland where they, along with the Second and Twelfth New Hampshire, were assigned the duty of guarding Confederate prisoners.  Here they remained until May of 1864 when they were recalled to the Army of the Potomac, then engaged in the Wilderness at Spotsylvania.

      It is ironic that Col. Hapgood should report his regiment present for duty, literally on the eve of the deadly assualt at Cold Harbor.  According to Hapgood's official report, "At 4:30am June 3, the regiment with the brigade, charged the enemy's works and carried them, capturing two guns and one hundred and twenty five prisoners which were sent to the rear... Ascertained that the other regiments of the other brigades of the regiment had not carried the works...and that the Fifth regiment was between the enemy's lines with no connection to either flank and immediately...gave orders to retire."  The casualties were 202 killed out of 577 present for duty.  It was the most costly single day in the regiments history.

      In the continuing campaign that developed into the siege of Petersburg, a series of engagements occurred between June 15 and June 19th at Baylor's Farm, Withal, and Wier Bottom Church that continued to erode the regiments rolls.  On June 17th Hapgood was severely wounded and command of the regiment passed to Major Larkin.

      From June till the battle of Deep Bottom, VA on August 14th the journals from the members of the regiment show a series of marches and countermarches or simply being prepared to move at a moments notice.  The Fifth was not engaged at Deep Bottom but two days later engaged the enemy at Charles City Crossroads.  It was during this battle that skirmishes from the Fifth shot and killed Confederate General John R. Chambliss.

      In October 1864, the enlistment's of the original men were completed and many were mustered out and went home.  Surgeon Child recorded that: "The Fifth having been reduced below the minimum number for a regiment by the discharge of the original three year's men whose time had expired was now designated the Fifth New Hampshire Battalion.  Captain Welcome A. Crafts was promoted to Lt. Col. and Captain Thomas L. Livermore to Major.  The character and condition of the organization was in no matter changed and it was still the same hard working, reliable, fighting organization."

      The Fifth continued to perform reliable service for the rest of the war but it should be noted that during it's recruiting duties the ranks were rebuilt to a to a strength of 800 with more than 400 recruits only 80 of which were volunteers.  The balance were the nemesis of the Civil War army, the bounty man, a fate which many other regiments suffered.   Scores of these bounty men deserted before the regiment reached the field and so many deserted from the Petersburg trenches that the Confederates opposite the regiment put up a sign reading Recruits Wanted.

      One significant event that occurred during the Fall was the replacement of General Hancock by General Humphreys as Second Corps commander.  It is also about this time that the famous Berdan Sharpshooters unit was broken up and the two New Hampshire companies reassigned to Fifth.

      The long siege of Petersburg was at last broken on April 1st, 1865 when Phil Sheridan's Cavalry and the Fifth Corps took the strategic crossroads of Five Forks, Lee's last line of supply.   Grant followed this with a general assault along his entire front and on the night of April 2nd, Lee's army pulled out of the Petersburg trenches. Lee's plan was to head west in an effort to unite Johnston's Army in North Carolina.  There thus began a race between both armies.  If the Federal forces could win the race and place itself across Lee's path, he would be effectively surrounded.  All of the Federal army commanders, therefore, pushed their soldiers like they had never been pressed before.

      On April 7th, the Second Corps was in pursuit of General John B. Gordon's Corps, which turned to oppose them in the small town of Cumberland Church, near Farmville Va.  The Second Corps deployed for assault with the first brigade, first division opposite Mahone's Division which outnumbered the assaulting party several times. The units comprising this brigade were the 26th Michigan, 140th Pennsylvania, 81st Pennsylvania, 2nd New York Heavy Artillery and six companies of the Fifth New Hampshire.  The remaining companies of the Fifth were with Col. Crafts as skirmishers.

      The line moved forward and almost immediately came under a direct crossfire.  The six companies of the Fifth were commanded by John S. Ricker who had two horses shot from under him and then was finally wounded in the leg and then in the groin.  Two companies had to make a charge without ammunition and without bayonets. When the colors advanced to the enemy works the Confederates threw a force on either flank of the regiment, capturing the colors along with fifty-two men and five officers.  The colors and men were recaptured on April 8th by the 91st Pennsylvania.  In this rather inglorious but still   honorable fashion, this was the Fifth's last battle of the war.

      On April 9th, 1865, Lee surrendered his army  and on May 23rd the Fifth participated in the Grand Review in Washington.  By June they were back in New Hampshire. On the 28th, they turned over their shot-torn colors to the state and passed into history.


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