The newly formed Third Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, comprised of more than 1,000 men, left Concord on the morning of Sept. 3, 1861 to great fanfare. Their commander was Colonel Enoch Q. Fellows of Sandwich, New Hampshire. He had studied at West Point and had served in the state militia and as the Adjutant of the First N.H. Regiment. The Third N.H. Regiment was fortunate to have its own brass band, organized by Second Lt. Gustavus W. Ingalls of Concord. Ingalls was in charge of 22 musicians, most of whom had played with the town bands in Concord and Fisherville (now Penacook).
That evening, the regiment arrived in Ledyard, Conn., where the men embarked on a steamer ship which took them to Hunter’s Point, Long Island. They were transported by train to Mineola and ordered to set up camp on Hempstead Plains south of town. Within a few days the regiment was joined by the Eighth Maine Volunteer Regiment. These two units (and eventually others) were organized into a brigade under the command of Brigadier General Egbert L. Viele.
He named the campground Camp Winfield Scott in honor of the Army’s 75-year-old Commanding General, known affectionately as “Old Fuss and Feathers.”
The Third N.H. Regiment made a good impression. An item in the New York Herald on September 15, 1861 read, “The personnel of the regiment is composed of the very best men in the old Granite State…The officers are a very fine and intellectual set of gentlemen.”
The newspaper described how the soldiers had gathered around the regiment’s new flagpole, with the officers in the center. The chaplain had led a solemn prayer service, and everyone had sung as the band played a hymn, Then, the American flag had been raised to thunderous cheers By the time this article was published, the regiment had already left Long Island.
On the evening of Sept. 14, the men had returned to Hunters’s Point where they had embarked on a steamer which took them to Jersey City, N.J. They were carried by train to Philadelphia and then to Baltimore, Md. The regiment arrived in Washington, D.C. at about 1:00 a.m. on Sept. 16. In the coming days Viele’s brigade and two others were formed into an expeditionary force led by Brigadier General Thomas “Tim” W. Sherman (who was not related to the more famous Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman.) On Sept. 25, 1861, the Third N.H. Regiment was presented with a silk battle flag donated by the ladies of Methodist Episcopal Church at Hempstead, N.Y., a town near Camp Winfield Scott. A delegation of local gentlemen traveled to Washington to present the flag to the regiment. Former officer Daniel Eldredge wrote in his 1893 regimental history, “As the ceremonies were being performed, how our hearts thrilled with emotion! That every man vowed the flag should never be disgraced or captured, need not here be said.”
On Oct. 4 the regiment moved to the state’s capital and port city of Annapolis, Md. On Oct. 7 the band performed for Maryland Gov. Thomas H. Hicks at his residence. On Oct. 21 the regiment left Annapolis aboard the steamer Atlantic, which was part of a fleet of vessels bound for Port Royal Sound in South Carolina. Three days later the fleet suffered terrible losses when it encountered a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C. This situation caused General Sherman to decide against landing the army in the planned assault on the two Confederate forts that guarded the sound. On Nov. 7 the Union was able to capture the forts at Hilton Head Island and Phillips Island through naval bombardment and landing parties.
For the next several months the Third N.H. Regiment was encamped at Port Royal. This was certainly an exotic locale for the New Hampshire men. As band member Henry S. Hamilton recalled in his memoir, “It was only an island, but fertile and picturesque, with its beautiful groves of Southern pine, magnificent live oaks, festooned with light green trailing moss…the stately magnolia, with its gorgeous and fragrant blossoms, groves of oleanders, orange and lemon trees, sea island cotton, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, peanuts, melons, and every kind of vegetable.”
Next week: The Third N.H. Regiment band at Port Royal.