E S S A Y,























Signal Hill, Va., March 10, 1865




                        Dear Sir:


            We have been appointed as a publishing committee in accordance with the action of the Debating Society, by which a vote of thanks was tendered you for the Essay read March 6th, 1865, and a copy requested for publication.


Warren C. STONE,

                                                                        Allen D. HEVENOR,

                                                                        William T. FILER.




Signal Hill, Va., March 10, 1865

Gentleman of the Committee:


            A copy of the Essay is at your service.


                                                                                    Harlan Page HURD







                When ?  how ?  why ?  where,  what,  who,  how it came to pass;  what we became;  where we have been;  the songs we have sung,  &c.,  ad libitum  ad infinitum, et cetera  viz,  together with an address to our friends.


            5866 years after Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden:  4211 years after the Deluge:  2218 years since the birth of Alexander the Great:  1962 years after Julius Caesar appeared on this terraqueous ball;  47 years after Napoleon Bonaparte was sent to the Island of St Helena;  1969 years after Cicero's eloquent tongue was unloosed;  17 years after the admission of Texas into the Union;  341 years after Cortez entered the Capitol of the Montezuma;  nearly two years after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the Presidency for the first term,  and two years before Mr. McClellan failed to be elected to said office;  81 years after the surrender of Yorktown by Lord Cornwallis;  1845 years after the death of Ovid;  86 years after the Declaration of Independence of the United States,  which Independence was acknowledged about seven (7) years after by Great Britain,  which country is comprised of Scotland,  Ireland,  and "Whales,"  together with an additional piece of land called "England,"  290 years after the massacre of St. Bartholomew;  3353 years after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea,  and 81 cycles of the seasons after the "Battle of the Cowpens," [1]  the 17th N.Y.I.V. Battery was organized.  "All this at or near"  Medina, Orleans Co., State of New York,  where they have, since the organization of said Battery,  paid large bounties. [2]


            Having been collected together for the first time,  we went to Lockport where we were received by Capt. Bowen's Sharpshooters [3] with three hearty cheers,  which we as heartily returned.


            We passed a sanguinary [4] night in the "shed," [5] all were mustered into the U. S. service one night except such as were  "down town taking care of Booth." [6] We stayed "some time" [7] at that Camp Church at Lockport.  We were patriotic then,  had big hats and wore white gloves.  T'was there we sang:


The Orleans Battery's going South,

In a few days, a few days,

To try their hands at the cannon's mouth,

Fare you well my boys.


O' we'll have a victory in a few days, a few days,

We'll have a victory on old Virginia's shore.


            When we left that place the brass band accompanied us.  There were two brass bands in Medina,  but the brass band that came with us was the brass band to which Gain Skinner did not belong.  This brass band  "discoursed"  sweet music as we marched through the streets of Canandaigua. [8]  We patronized the people and store-keepers of that handsome town to an unknown extent.  The inhabitants of Pennsylvania have also reasons to congratulate themselves that we traveled through their State at railroad speed.  If any one is to blame it is they,  for if their trains had not been so slow,  our rations would have held out to the end and we should not have been compelled to seek sustenance in their country.  It was necessary for us to have something to eat,  or we would have died;  in which case our bodies would have been flung by the wayside,  and too many such unburied carcasses would have bread a pestilence,  besides frightening many a high mettled [9] steed,  who running away would thrown his rider and dashed out his brains,  thus bringing him to an untimely end.


            We reached Baltimore [10].  We marched through the streets singing,

                        "John Brown's body lies moldering in the grave,"  &c.

And it came to pass,  that after many grevious (sic) delays we reached that great city Washington,  and bent our steps toward Capitol Hill,  which being interpreted is Camp Barry. [11] Each one of us being weighted down even to the earth by a burden as large as Bunyan's Pilgrim [12] had,  were exceedingly rejoiced when we reached that place.  There "being in an enemy's country"  we were armed to the teeth;  at that place we learned much of the military art and became acquainted with  "John Minard." [13]  We  "planted sods," [14] we  "threshed," [15] we  "stood to horse."  [16] And we did several times leave our Camp Barry and go out even into Virginia,  where the chivalrous First Families are went to dwell.  On our return from one of those venturesome expeditions, certain of our mighty men of war submitted to the ceremony and rite of sprinkling, [17] and that without the profession of faith in any thing or the expression of any desire except to return to camp.  At Camp Barry we sang,


"Many and bright are the stars that appear

In the flag by our country unfurled,

And the stripes that are swelling in majesty there

Like a rainbow adorning the world."


"Then up with the flag, that good old flag,

That all the world may know

 That millions of freemen are ready to fall,

 E're the stars and the stripes shall trail low."


            During one of our times of absence from Camp Barry, we pitched our tents at Miner's Hill. [18]  There we first fired solid shot [19], stood picket [20],  drank Croton Oil [21],  rescued a Sutler's goods from devouring flames [22],  saw Moseby [23],  and borned  "our dog." [24]  There we learned to sing


"Dearest love do you remember,

When we last did meet,

How you told me that you loved me,

Kneeling at my feet?

O, how proud you stood before me,

In your suit of blue,

When you vowed to me and country,

Ever to be true."


"Weeping,  sad and lonely,

Hopes and fears how vain,

When this cruel war is over,

Praying that we meet again.


            At Fairfax Seminary [25] a  "responsible" [26] man and also the valorous men for whom he was  "responsible,"  were caged in a mule wagon.


            At Centreville [27] we had  "Shooting matches" [28] and  "raffled," [29] got in the habit of "taking all you got," [30]  drank lemonade and ate peaches,  learned that  "the Shelby boys were a leetle ahead," [31] and we were able to harness,  hitch and be ready to  "take the offensive," [32] in eight minutes.  We became  "lively." [33]


            At Fairfax Court House [34] we  "searched the records," [35]  had  "knapsack drill," [36]  "skou skou"  baked beans, [37]  chickens;  the 5th Corps reinforced us and we drilled for the General and the ladies,  at which time  "the Brigadier was pleased;  the Maj. General did not think a Volunteer Battery could do so well,  and the ladies were highly delighted."


            There we played  "muggins" [38] and did  "the way they do in the army." [39] There also we had our pictures taken [40] made brick walks and a bath house.  We "escorted to Chantilly"  via the  "Corduroy." [41] We received a number of  "recruits," [42] some short, others of abominable length.  We sang over our old songs, and learned more of the military art. 

We returned to Camp Barry.  We were sent to Fort Lyon. [43]  There we did not sing. [44]

We returned to Camp Barry again, and in time to fire the salute at a place called "Meridian." [45]


Then each with care did in his knapsack pack

His soldier clothes, and filled his haversack [46]

With what had been supplied by way of food,

Taking a second look to see 'twas good.

On board the boat [47] we made ourselves at ease,

As if familiar with the rolling seas;

Devoured our pork, and took our  "hard tack" [48] in,

As used to  "rations" [49] and a lack of  "tin." [50]

Potomac's waters bore us bravely on,

Potomac's storms had all been [wooed] and won,

Potomac's banks ne'er saw a braver sight,

Potomac's Genius said,  "God speed the right."

Thus safely down its peaceful waves we ran,

All pleased with the ride,  and every man

On deck,  to easier catch the coming breeze

That sped on wings from o'er the eastern seas,

And where Potomac widened out doth seek

The silvery shores of old Chesapeake,

To watch the sea-gull in his daring flight,

And schools of porpoise that from morn till night

Their merry gambols 'mong the waves do take

And we,  when 'mong them,  we with speed do make,

How quickly they plunge 'neath our gallant craft

And continue their gambols away - aft.

Rounding grandly out in the sea-like bay,

We sped adown it 'till the close of day;

Drawing 'round him the curtains of the west

The gorgeous Day-god laid himself to rest,

Leaving his royal vestments on the hills,

Which filled with rainbows all the mountains rills

And tinged the rushing waves that come and go

Along the warlike shores of Fort Monroe. [51]

We rode at anchor through the drowsy night,

We weighed the anchor in the early light,

And e'er the morning dried her dewy brow,

We sought again the now familiar bow

To watch the shores,  and learn,  perchance,  the names

Of crazy landings,  rotting in the James. [52]

O'er fields where once the waving harvest bent,

O'er meads where once the peaceful cattle went,

O'er vales once wakeful to the mellow horn

That roused to labor at the blush of morn,

O'er hills with stumps now bristling,  where did stand

Primeval forests,  tall and dark and grand,

O'er waters where the angler passed the day,

And where the wild duck taught her brood to play,

O'er all where once were smiles and peace and joy

For gray-haired age and for the prattling boy,

Now stand,  a terror to rebellious man,

The deadly cannon at Fort Powhattan. [53]

Unmindful of winds,  unconscious of tide,

We steamed o'er the murmuring waters wide;

Our trusty pilot,  an elderly man.

Who knew those waters e'er the war began,

Maintained the channel through the devious way,

Not windings him,  nor shoals,  could lead astray.

Heading now east,  now north,  now west we sailed,

Not once was he in doubt,  not once he failed.

Past coves and creeks and tributary rills;

Past quiet glens, where in the friendly shade

The long-legged herons in waters wade,

Past placid shallows where the lilies shed

Their choicest perfumes,  and the mirror bed

Reflects alike the splendors of the sky,

And the beautiful lilies closer by.

Thus heaven within this earthly mirror crowds,

And fairy lilies blush among the clouds,

As round the sudden bend we heave in sight,

The wary eagle takes his cautious flight,

While worthless crows rang'd on the crowded oak,

Deride our engine's true and steady stroke;

As mean and vile is their outrageous "caw"

As the grave robbed filth of each reeking maw.

On,  on,  we sped past many a wide estate,

Where vacant fields still for the plowman wait,

Past once fair homes where many a matron weeps,

Where still the wondering dog his watching keeps.


We landed at Broadway. [54] Reached camp near Petersburg. [55] Dodged shells in camp, and went to the  "trenches." [56] Participated in the daily fights and became veterans.  Had experience with the 18th,  with the 9th and with the 2nd Corps.


At last we reached Deep Bottom [57] where we had  "experience" in platform making, magazine building, &c. [58] Soon after a part of the Battery came to Signal Hill, [59] expecting a fight, which did not occur.  We were not long separated, but re-united near Head-Quarters, when the warriors went to the trenches near Fort Burnham, [60] and the cooks, drivers and camp followers remained at  "Camp Cod."  That camp is redolent of fish,

There we appropriately sang



Just before this codfish,  mother,

I am thinking most of you,

While upon my stool I'm sitting,

With this horrid fish in view.

Comrades brave are round me mouthing,

Filled with thoughts of  "cod"  and  "tack,"

For these they know will on the morrow,

Both their jaws and feeling rack.


 Farewell codfish I shall never,

I shall never codfish,

Grind you with my teeth again,

But O,  I'll not forget you,  codfish,

I will not forget you,

 Till I'm numbered with the slain, &c. [61]


After five weeks all returned to Signal Hill.  Our experiences here have been pleasant ones.  Our  "situation"  is at least as favorable as we could expect as soldiers.  We now see the bright side.  The prospect is good for a speedy close of the war.  At least for us it is only  "five and a few." [62] We are thinking of home.  So sing


"'Mid pleasures and palaces,"  &c.


To   Our   Friends


Would you rouse a soldier's spirit ?

Would you nerve his stalwart arm ?

Shall he stop the coming foeman ?

Shall he shield your homes from harm ?

Tell him that, if slain in battle,

If he torn and mangled be,

You'll befriend his darling loved ones,

They nor want nor woe shall see,

Oh, call them not the  "indigent,"

Call them not  "the needy poor,"

Tell him that  "the nation's children"

Shall not want nor shall be  "poor,"

Then will his duties lighter be,

Then the flag new beauty wear,

Then will he tread the battle field

Braver none, nor truer there.

Horses dead are better far,  than

Cowards who are still in sight,

And he who fights the wrong,  than he

Who dare only plead for right.

Show us, ye who still are happy

In your homes of cheer and light,

That your hearts are with us ever,

Patriots, though not in the fight.

Show us, too,  you're ever wakeful,

That you'll rouse at Freedom's call,

Freedom's fires shall e'er be burning,

All's not lost though we should fall.

And we'll love our land the better,

And we'll think of Freedom more,

We'll stand by the starry-banner,

'Till this "cruel war" is o'er.


                Signal Hill, Va., March 6th, 1865








1.              This was the usual beginning of essays at the time, a number of irrelevant facts to indicate to the audience that the speaker was a learned man.   

In this case it was used to poke fun at the "pompous" beginnings.  Also where indicated the audience would sing along the songs, that they all knew.

Richard Callard


2.              The 17th was organized in August 1862. Later much larger bounties began being offered for enlistments.               

Tom Taber


3.            Captain Bowen's Sharpshooters,  Correction:  Colonel Hiram Berdan's, First  Regiment United States Sharpshooters, New York State Volunteers, their uniforms were green.

Richard Callard


4.              "sanguinary" - A polite cussword, (bloody) used in the British sense of the word.

Richard Callard


  5.              shed - barn.  Probably  the only large building capable of housing the large number of men.

Richard Callard


6.             Private James Booth became ill with Typhoid Fever while at Camp Church, Lockport, Niagara Co., NY and died there 7 October 1862.

Tom Taber


7.              They remained at Camp Church until 23 October 1862.

Tom Taber


8.              They were in Canandaigua, Ontario Co., New York, on the 24 October 1862.  

Tom Taber


9.              mettled -  spirited.  Many of the army mounts (horses) were not broken and it was up to the riders to break them.

Richard Callard


10.              Baltimore, (Maryland) -  Was a railroad hub that had two stations.  One on the north of the city and it would required passing through the city to get to the other station. 

Maryland was a divided state, the most influential newspaper, "The Baltimore Sun was pro Southern. There were many southern sympathizers in Baltimore and early during the war there were Pro-Confederate riots.

Richard Callard


11.              Camp Barry was one and a half miles east of the Capitol buildings.                

Tom Taber

            Camp Berry was the Light Artillery Camp, named for Brigadier General W.F. Barry, the

            Chief of Artillery in the department of Washington. A number of volunteer batteries were

            camped and outfitted there before being sent to the field.  The camp was part of the military

            district and defenses of Washington.   

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


12.              Bunyan's Pilgrim - Main character in John Bunyan's book "Pilgrim's Progress."

Richard Callard


13.       John Minard  -  This could be an Army or Artillery slang 

Any knowledge backed by an authority appreciated.


14.               planted sods - firing solid shot, which would turn up divots as the sod by a plow.

Anna Howland


15.              threshed - firing of canister. The Canister was a shell made with about 96 iron balls held together by a tin cover.  If you fired canister at a field of grass or crops, it would carve out a significant swath in the plants.

The effect further amplified by the fact that gunners trained to aim low, thus  'bouncing the canister off the ground in front of a target, so that more of the rounds would be concentrated in the killing zone. (Think of the field of fire of canister as a large cone.  A horizontal band across the middle of that cone is the killing zone. By aiming low, you can flatten that cone pattern into a more deadly swath concentrated in that middle band.)

Anna Howland


16.              stood to horse - The order for a cavalryman or artillery driver to go to stand at attention by their horse or horses.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


17.            rite of sprinkling - the dumping of chamber pots on the Union Solders by the  Confederate civilians. Also, standing guard on rainy days.                     

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


18.               The 17th arrived at Miner's Hill near the end of January 1863.

Tom Taber

            Miner's Hill - Miner's (or Minor's) Hill was part of the defenses of Washington, located two

             miles northeast of Falls Church, Virginia.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


19.               solid shot  -  a solid cannon ball,  3.57" diameter, 6lb. 5oz. or  4.5" diameter,  12 lb. 5 oz. These would be the solid shot used by the 17th New York Battery. They also used other type of projectiles. The round shot was aimed in front of the attacking troops so that it would skip along the ground, causing a number of casualties. (something like skimming a stone across water).  

 Richard Callard


20.        stood picket  -  A picket was the term for a guard or lookout. The most unpopular duty in the Civil War, Soldier on picket duty, would be the first to fall upon enemy advance.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


21.       drank Croton Oil  -  Croton Oil was an acrid, yellow oil obtained from the crushed and cooked seeds of an Asiatic croton (Croton tiglium) and sold as an elixir. It had a cathartic effect and tended to act as a rapid laxative.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


22.             rescued a Sutler's goods from devouring flames  -  Civilian businessmen, were  appointed by the Army to be camp vendors. They often inflated prices and extended credit making each wealthy. Sometimes soldiers would raid their tents and clean them out for such practices.

R. L. Curry, Jackson, Tennessee


23.              saw Moseby  -  John S. Mosby. Confederate Colonel Mosby was known as "The Gray Ghost."  Mosby led his Partisan Rangers in guerilla warfare operations that continually confounded Union commanders in the Piedmont region of Virginia.

Richard Callard


24.               borned  "our dog." -  The soldier in the company who was usually assigned to the dirty jobs, extra guard duties, etc.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


25.               Posted at Fairfax Seminary late April 1863.

Tom Taber

            Fairfax Seminary was a school located at Fairfax Court House, Virginia.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


26.              "responsible"  man  - Officer or person in charge of the fellow Prisoners Of War.

Richard Callard

The term "responsible" refer to any one trusted to handle the job at hand. Also, a soldier

 who was either very devout, always did his duty, and /or sent his pay home to his family.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


27.               Posted at Centreville around mid July 1863.

Tom Taber

            Centreville, Virginia  is located on the Manassas Pike between Fairfax Court House and

            Manassas, Virginia.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


28.              Shooting matches  - cannon fire between opposing artillery, that were within range of each other and the winner would be the artillery unit, which were the better shots or had heaver artillery.

Richard Callard

Also, a term for live-fire practice and competitions.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


29.               raffled - Held raffles to raise money for the company fund. The company fund was used to get better food and other necessary items.

Richard Callard


30.              got in the habit of "taking all you got," - Scavenging, a soldier's term for foraging and for being cleaned out in a card game or other game of chance.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


31.             "the Shelby boys were a leetle ahead," - Soldiers who hailed from the town of Shelby, Orleans County, New York, serving in another unit.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP

               Soldiers from Shelby served in both the Infantry: 90th Regiment, Company I and in  the Cavalry: 2nd Mounted Rifles, Company L.

Richard Callard


32.              "take the offensive" - Ready to move to another location and engage the enemy.

Richard Callard


33.              "lively" -  Able to move quickly, this was very important as a Light Artillery unit could be called to move to another part of the battlefield to support other units at anytime.

Richard Callard


34.              Posted at Fairfax Court House beginning mid October 1863.

Tom Taber

            It was the practice to call the town that was the county seat by the County name and add

            Court House.  Therefore, "Fairfax Court House" was the official name of the town.

Richard Callard


35.              "searched the records" - The Court House records had been ransacked; some soldiers sent home papers signed by George Washington.

Tom Taber


36.             "knapsack drill"  - Inspection of a soldier's equipment. The knapsack was set at the soldier's feet with everything laid out to be certain that government property was being cared for and that no contraband was being carried.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP

            Canvas container strapped to a soldiers back, carrying personal belongings.  Knapsack, aka, Patent Bureau, Beehive.

National Park Service


37.              "skou skou"  baked beans - As with many other foods, baked beans of the 1860's were not as sweet as they are today. Civil War soldiers on both sides had baked beans for breakfast when the opportunity arose. They were cooked over or in the campfire all night. It was not often, except during winter, that an army unit could plan to be in the same camp long enough to cook beans fresh during the day, nor would they have been likely to have the saleratus (baking soda) to soften the beans while on the march.

1860's Foods -Union & Confederate,  North Collins Historical Society


38.              "Muggins" - a game played with dominos.

Tom Taber


39.              "the way they do in the army" - An old soldier's gripe that there was only one way to do things in the army, and that was by the book whether it made sense or not.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


40.              Most of the surviving photos of members of the 17th were taken by "Wm. Conly, Photographer, Fairfax  C. H. Va."

Tom Taber


41.              We "escorted to Chantilly"  via the  "Corduroy." Chantilly is a small town in   northern Virginia about 10 miles north of Manassas. The battery marched to Chantilly with a cavalry or infantry escort over a road where logs or split rails were laid across the road to keep loaded wagons from sinking into the mud.  This was a called a "corduroy road", a common practice employed by Union engineers to make for solid transportation for wagons and artillery on the poor Virginia roads.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


42.              "recruits" - replacements.  Raw recruits were known as "fresh fish".

Richard Callard


43.              Posted at Fort Lyon at the end of May 1864.

Tom Taber

           Fort Lyon was located in Virginia approximately one mile southwest of Alexandria,  covering

            the Telegraph Road. It was flanked by Fort Weed on the south and Fort Farnsworth on the

           southeast side.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


44.              "There we did not sing" - they did not fire the guns while at the fort.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


45.              "Meridian" - The name of a plantation near Camp Berry.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


46.              haversack - small canvas sack used by soldiers to carry their foodstuff.  aka, Bread Bag.

National Park Service


47.       On board the steamship "Winonah" early July 1864.

Tom Taber


48.               "hard tack" - Hardtack, pilot bread, and hardbread-all the same product issued by the army in the North or South as a staple for men on the march. It was square or sometimes rectangular in shape with small holes baked into it, and similar to a large soda cracker. When freshly baked, they were quite tasty and satisfying. Baked in northern factories, they usually did not get to the soldiers until months after they had been made. They were very hard by that time.

                         It was often accompanied by beef jerky. (Did you know cattle rustling by

                         armies during the Civil War was one of the biggest hazards to trail herds?)

Alternately known as "tooth-dullers," "sheet iron," and "crown-breakers," hardtack was more something to be sucked on than chewed. Eaten straight, it was often broken on the top of a fence post or corner of a box to make smaller pieces. Dipped in hot coffee, it was more edible. Soaked well in water and fried in salt pork fat, it was almost tasty.

            The men of both Union and Confederate regiments sometimes referred to hardtack as worm castles. After being carried in hot, humid weather, it not only absorbed moisture from humidity but also from the sweat of the men carrying it. It sometimes became just plain wet when carried in a rainstorm or camping in a swamp. Cloth, even tarred cloth, did little to protect the hardtack from moisture and humidity. When the hardtack became inhabited, men often boiled it in their coffee so as to make the worms rise to the surface where they could be skimmed off the liquid.

1860's Foods -Union & Confederate,  North Collins Historical Society


49.             "rations"  - By definition, a ration is the amount of food authorized for one soldier (or animal) for one day.    According to army regulations for camp rations, a Union soldier was entitled to receive daily  12 oz of pork or bacon or  1 lb. 4 oz of fresh or salt beef;  1 lb. 6 oz of soft bread or flour,  1 lb. of hard bread, or  1 lb. 4 oz of cornmeal. Per every  100 rations there was issued  1 peck of beans or peas;  10 lb. of rice or hominy;  10 lb. of green coffee,  8 lb. of roasted and ground coffee, or   1 lb. 8 oz of tea; 15 lb.  Of sugar;  1 lb. 4 oz of candles,  4 lb. of soap;  1 qt of molasses.  In addition to or as substitutes for other items, desiccated vegetables, dried fruit, pickles, or pickled cabbage might be issued.

The marching ration consisted of  1 lb. of hard bread,  3/4 lb. of salt pork or 1 lb. of fresh meat, plus the sugar, coffee, and salt.  The ration lacked variety but in general the complaints about starvation by the older soldiers was largely exaggerated.

The Confederate government adopted the official US Army ration at the start of the war, although by the spring of 1862 they had the reduce it.  Generally the Confederate ration,  though smaller in quantity after the spring of 1862 and tending to substitute cornmeal for wheat flour,  was little different.  But the Confederate commissary system had problems keeping rations flowing to the troops at a steady rate,  thus alternating between abundance and scarcity in its issuances.

Soldiers of both armies relied to a great extent on food sent from home and on the ubiquitous Sutler.

U.S. Civil War Center, Louisiana State University


50.              "tin"  - The tin can, had been invented and a patent granted in 1825, well before the Civil War.  "Tin goods" were bought from the Sutler, they consisted of canned meat, vegetables and fruit. (Sometimes they were produced by war profiteers and were uneatable.)

Richard Callard


51.              Fort Monroe - On Old Point Comfort, North Shore of Hampton Road's entrance, between the Chesapeake Bay and the James River. It is still an active army post.

Richard Callard


52.        James - James River in Virginia. Rivers were of major importance in the Civil War, they were natural barriers and could be more easily defended.

Richard Callard


53.               Fort Powhattan - This fort was located on the south side of the James River about 10 miles east of Petersburg, and six miles down river from City Point, VA. The fort stood on a cliff in a southern bend of the river, west of Ward's Creek. It was originally a Confederate fort, abandoned in 1864 and occupied by Union troops.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


54.               Broadway - About 8 miles north of Petersburg on the Appomattox River.

Richard Callard


55.             Petersburg  - Petersburg, Virginia, became the setting for the longest siege in American history when General Ulysses S. Grant failed to capture Richmond in the spring of 1864. Grant settled in to subdue the Confederacy by surrounding Petersburg and cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines into Petersburg and Richmond. On April 2, 1865, nine-and-one-half months after the siege began, Lee evacuated Petersburg.

Located twenty-five miles south of Richmond in Petersburg, Virginia, the battlefield contains 2,460 acres and is made up of six major units. These units contain battlefields, earthen forts, trenches and Poplar Grove National Cemetery.

Collectively, they reveal the story of the longest siege in American warfare and the experiences of the nearly 150,000 soldiers from both sides of the trenches.

Petersburg National Battlefield


56.           "trenches" - Fortifications, usually 5 feet deep, 2 - 4  foot wide, often muddy after a rainstorm, some that were in long use had a raised wooden floor.

Richard Callard


57.               Posted at Deep Bottom, Virginia. at the end of September 1864.

Tom Taber

Located 14 miles North North East of Richmond on a bend of the James River, second line of defense on the right flank of the Union line.

Richard Callard


58.               "experience"  in platform making, magazine building, &c. - Building Fortifications.

Platform  -  a raised earthwork for cannon.

Magazine - a rounded structure of heavy timbers heaped with 10 or more feet of rammed earth formed the magazine for storing ammunition and kegs of gunpowder.

Richard Callard


59.               Signal Hill -  Unable to conform the exact site, may be one of two sites. (1) A hill near

            Chaffin's Bluff, Virginia. Or (2) there was a signal station on a hill in rear of Fort Burnham

            on the Varina Road. I am inclined to think (2) is the correct one.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


60.             Fort Burnham - Located on the north side of the James River northeast of Chaffin's Bluff, this fort was part of the siege lines overlooking Confederate positions at Chaffin's Buff and Drewry's Bluff on the south side of the James.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP


61.               A satire of the Civil War ballad "Just Before the Battle, Mother",

                        written by Lewis J. Chase of the 17th.  The other verses were:  

O! I long to see you, mother

And the loving ones at home.

And I wish I had some butter.

Soon I hope my but will come.

Tell the neighbors all around you

That they love us, well we know.

Tell them send us pie and doughnuts -

That's the way their love to show.


Hark! I hear the bugle sounding -

'Tis the signal for detail.

I am hungry, dearest mother -

Could not eat that Codfish tail.

Hear the call "Fall for detail"

How it swells upon the air.

O yes! We'll rally to the stable

And we'll rive the shingles there.

Tom Taber


62.               "five and a few" -  Most of the men had been mustered into the 17th Battery in August 1862, their three-year enlistment would be up in August.  Five months and a few days after the Essay was presented.

Tom Taber

Soldier's slang that could mean several things, but usually meant a cheat at cards. Poker was the most common card game and five cards were drawn per player - a few meant that someone had extra cards or someway to cheat the others in the game. Here it may have meant they had cheated death.

John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg NMP





17th New York Independent Volunteer Battery, Light Artillery


Organized at Lockport, N. Y., and mustered in August 26, 1862.

Left New York State for Washington, D. C., 23 October 1862.

Attached to Military District of Washington to October 1862.

Abercrombie's Division, Defenses of Washington, to February 1863.

Abercrombie's Division, 22nd Army Corps, Dept. of Washington, to April 1863.

Camp Barry, 22nd Army Corps, to July 1863.

Artillery, King's Division, 22nd Army Corps, to March 1864.

Camp Barry, 22nd Army Corps, to May 1864.

2nd Brigade, DeRussy's Division, 22nd Army Corps, to July 1864.

Artillery Brigade, 18th Army Corps, Army of the James, to December 1864.

Artillery Brigade, 24th Army Corps, to June 1865.



Duty at Artillery Camp of Instruction and in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., September, 1862, to July, 1864.

Ordered to join Army of the James in the field at Petersburg, Va. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond 06 July 1864, to 02 April 1865.

Battle of Chaffin's Farm / New Market Heights, 28-30 September 1864.

Duty on north side of the James River before Richmond till March 1865.

Appomattox Campaign 28 March - 09 April.

Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9.

Rice's Station April 6.

Appomattox Court House April 9, Surrender of Lee and his army.

Duty in the Dept. of Virginia till June.

Mustered out June 12, 1865.


Battery lost during service 1 Enlisted man killed and 16 Enlisted men by disease. Total 17.




Chaffin's Farm/New Market Heights (29-30 September 1864) - aka, Combats at New Market Heights, Forts Harrison, Johnson, and Gilmer; Laurel Hill.   Located in Henrico County, Virginia.  Part of the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign (June 1864-March 1865)

Commanders:             Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler [Union]

Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell [Confederate]

During the night of 29-30 September, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler's Army of the James crossed James River to assault the Richmond defenses north of the river. The columns attacked at dawn. After initial Union successes at New Market Heights and Fort Harrison, the Confederates rallied and contained the breakthrough. Lee reinforced his lines north of the James and, on September 30, he counterattacked unsuccessfully. The Federals entrenched, and the Confederates erected a new line of works cutting off the captured forts.  Union general Burnham was killed. As Grant anticipated, Lee shifted troops to meet the threat against Richmond, weakening his lines at Petersburg.

Estimated Casualties: 4,430 total


Fall of Petersburg (02 April 1865)  Location of battle - City of Petersburg, Virginia.  Part of the Appomattox Campaign (March-April 1865) 

Commanders:            Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant [Union]

Gen. Robert E. Lee [Confederate]

With Confederate defeat at Five Forks on 01 April, Grant and Meade ordered a general assault against the Petersburg lines by II, IX, VI and XXIV Corps on 02 April. A heroic defense of Fort Gregg by a handful of Confederates prevented the Federals from entering the city that night. Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was killed trying to reach his troops in the confusion. After dark, Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. Grant had achieved one of the major military objectives of the war: the capture of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond, the Capitol of the Confederacy.

            Estimated Casualties: 7,750 total (Union 3,500; Confederate 4,250)


Appomattox Court House (09 April 1865).  Location of battle - Appomattox County, Virginia.

Part of the Appomattox Campaign (March-April 1865)

Commanders:            Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant [Union]

Gen. Robert E. Lee [Confederate]

Early on 09 April, the remnants of John Broun Gordon's corps and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry formed line of battle at Appomattox Court House. Gen. Robert E. Lee determined to make one last attempt to escape the closing Union pincers and reach his supplies at Lynchburg. At dawn the Confederates advanced, initially gaining ground against Sheridan's cavalry. The arrival of Union infantry, however, stopped the advance in its tracks. Lee's army was now surrounded on three sides. Lee surrendered to Grant on 09 April.  This was the final engagement of the war in Virginia.

            Estimated Casualties: 700 total (27,805 Confederate soldiers paroled)

National Park Service



Thank you, ROGER BUSCH, great great grandson of Harlan Page HURD, for having the original "HURD ESSAY" and allowing the Orleans County GenWeb Site to publish it.


Thanks all those persons who by contributing their knowledge have added to the understanding of the "HURD ESSAY."                            

                                    R. L. CURRY, Jackson, TN.

            Anna HOWLAND, Orange County, California

            National Park Service

            North Collins Historical Society, 1860's Foods -Union & Confederate,

            Petersburg National Battlefield

            Tom TABER

                                    U.S. Civil War Center, Louisiana State University


            And a VERY SPECIAL THANKS to JOHN HEISER, Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park, for checking the Notes for authenticity and adding his phenomenal knowledge to them.

            As for myself, it has been a pleasure working on the research and having been able to meet on the Net a group of knowledgeable people who so willingly shared that knowledge.


Richard CALLARD, Diamond Bar, California, 10 Jun 2002



You are invited to see other MILITARY PAGES on Orleans County GenWeb Site.




HISTORY of the 17th New York Independent Volunteer Battery, Light Artillery


Roster of the 17th New York Independent Volunteer Battery, Light Artillery


Units in Which Orleans County Citizens Served in the Civil War


Biography of  Harlan Page HURD


The HURD ESSAY, History of the 17th from a Soldiers Viewpoint



First  Regiment United States Sharpshooters



Armaments of the 17th New York Battery, Light Artillery,



            Maps of the American Civil War, West Point Military Academy, New York



U.S. Civil War Regimental Histories in the Library of Congress. Union Troops: New York  

NOTE; Not all Histories are in the Library of Congress, some are in books covering the County history.

 Listed:              INFANTRY;    21ST, 27TH28th, 104th, 154th, 164th.

   CAVALRY;       6th,   8th.

   ARTILLERY:    8th


THE ENCYCLOPEDIA of Civil War Artillery

            This is the most complete and interesting site devoted to Civil War Artillery.


NOTE;  be sure to go to "Organization & Drill" 



National Park Service

            Battlefields and locations administered by the NPS.


            Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System


          Petersburg National Battlefield


            Appomattox Court House National Historical Park


Submitted by Roger BUSCH
Edit, Research, Compiled & HTML by Richard CALLARD
June 2002