During August 1861 an open stretch of lowland along the east bank of the Merrimack River at Concord, known as the “Intervale,” served as a makeshift military camp. The site was dubbed “Camp Berry” in honor of the state’s new governor, Nathaniel S. Berry. Here recruits for the Third Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry (Third N.H.Regiment) gathered, were outfitted, and drilled in preparation for joining the war in the South.
Between Aug. 22 and 26, 1861, 10 companies were recruited from all regions of the state, with one made up primarily of Irish immigrants. Daniel Eldredge, a former captain of the regiment, described the “mustering-in” process in his 1893 history of the unit, “This was done at the State House by a Regular Army officer, Maj. Seth Eastman, Fifth U S. Infantry. We were marched over by companies (say two or more companies in one day); and there we solemnly and severally swore, etc., and marched back to camp, feeling that we had outgrown the little state of New Hampshire, and nothing short of the United States as a whole would fit us. At the muster each was obliged to successively take a step to the front, rapidly move about his legs and arms (to show he was not crippled), and then hold up his right hand to take the oath.”
Approximately 1,050 officers and men were sworn in for a three-year term. Among them was 37-year-old Gustavus W. Ingalls. He had started his musical career at the age of 16 as a bugler in the first brass band organized in his home town of Bristol. He later moved to Concord and became a successful manufacturer of seraphines (small pump organs) and for several years led the Concord Brass Band. Ingalls moved to Augusta, Ga., in 1859, but found life in the South unbearable, so he returned to Concord in January 1861.
Ingalls was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was assigned to organize the regimental brass band. He could recruit up to 23 men as non-combatant musicians (to form a total ensemble of 24 when counting himself as bandmaster). He was able to sign up 22 experienced bandsmen. Six were members of the Fisherville Brass Band (based in the village of Fisherville, now Penacook): John C. Mitchell, George E. Flanders, John C. Linehan, Carl Krebs, D. Arthur Brown, and Henry F. Brown. The two Browns were brothers, and joining them was their uncle, Samuel F. Brown.
Samuel had played with the Fisherville Brass Band (the predecessor to the Fisherville Cornet Band). D. Arthur was assigned as the band’s “second leader,” to assist Ingalls. The Brown family operated a cotton textile mill in Fisherville.
In addition to Ingalls, the band included seven other Concord men who likely played with the Concord band. This group included the oldest and youngest enlistees in the regimental band, Nathan W. Gove, age 44, and his 12-year-old son Nathan M. Gove, who would serve as drummer boy. Also recruited was Cyrus E. Burnham, of the Littleton Town Band, and Lewis H. Stark of the Goffstown Cornet Band. One musician came from Holderness, one from Windham, and three from Massachusetts.
Another recruit, English immigrant Henry S. Hamilton, resided in Bow and occasionally played with the Concord band. He had previously served in the U.S. Army where he had become a proficient bugle and cornet player. On the morning of Sept. 3, 1861, the men of the Third N.H. Regiment crossed the bridge over the Merrimack and marched to the railroad station in downtown Concord. In his 1897 memoir, Hamilton wrote of the regiment’s departure, “It was inspiring to witness the thousands of people, from all parts of the state, who had congregated in the streets and at the station — parents, wives, sisters, and sweethearts — crowding for a last kiss, a shake of the hand, and, with tears dimming many eyes, a last fond look at loved ones, whom they might never (and in many cases did not) see again.” As the train pulled away from the station, the regimental band on board played “Home Sweet Home” while the Concord band answered with a mournful rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”
Next week: The story of the Third N.H. Regiment and its brass band continues.