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THE 22nd GOES HOME - 1864


The 22nd was formed by Senator (later Vice-president) Henry Wilson and became known throughout the Union as "Henry Wilson's Regiment". Republican Senator Wilson had been a Major General in the Massachusetts State Militia and had turned down a commission from President Lincoln to become a Brigadier General. He did, however, accept a commission from Governor John Andrew to become the regiment's first Colonel. Wilson held that position from September 2 until October 26, 1861. Once he was confident that the regiment was fully trained, he resigned his commission to enable him to return to the Senate.

Originally, Senator Wilson had set out to form an entire brigade but, due to the urgent need for regiments in the Union army, shipped out a regiment instead. This is why the Twenty-second Regiment had attached to it a sharpshooter company (the Second Andrew Sharpshooters) and an artillery unit (the Third Light Artillery). It was extremely unusual for a regiment to have companies as these attached to it.

The companies were formed as follows:
Company A, the Washington Light Guard, was formed in Boston with Company K of the 6th M.V.M. as its base. Including recruits who joined throughout the War, there were 129 men and officers.

Company B, Wardwell's Company, was formed in Boston with its core from Company F of the 5th M.V.M. They fielded 137 men and officers.

Company C, the Gordon Guard, was formed in Taunton with men mainly from the 4th M.V.M. It totaled 147 men and officers.

Company D, the Everett Guard, was also formed in Boston. At its core were 6 men from Company K of the 6th M.V.M. A total of 133 men and officers served.

Company E, the Brewer Guard, was formed in Roxbury. The total strength of the company was 133 men and officers.

Company F, the Woburn Union Guard, was formed in woburn. It had originally been formed for the 19th but had not been up to strength so had been left behind. The 139 men and officers were reassigned to the 22nd.

Company G, the Wellington Guard, was formed in Cambridge. Gordon McKay of Melrose had recruited 20 men and joined with Company G's recruits. There were a total of 140 men and officers.

Company H, the Thompson Guard, was formed from the original Company G (later Company D) of the 5th M.V.M. from Haverhill. A total of 146 men and officers served.

Company I, Paine's Company, started as two companies from Boston. Neither company had enough men so they were combined. By the end of its existence, 140 men and officers had served.

Company K, the McClellan Guard, was recruited in Boston. There were 134 men and officers who served.

The Andrew Sharpshooters were formed with a nucleus of recruits who had not shipped out with the First Company. They were "marksmen" and attracted men from all over the state although nearly one-half came from Lynn and Saugus. They totaled 149.

The old Westborough Band was the base for the Twenty-second Regimental Band. There were a total of 29 who served until August 11,1862 when an order of the War Department discharged all Regimental Bands.

The Third Light Battery was originally authorized to be raised and attached to Wilson's Brigade. A recruiting office was opened in Boston on September 1 and on September 6, 130 men reported to camp. A total of 289 men and officers served with the battery. They had 2 riffled 6 pounders, 2 smoothbore 6 pounders and 2, 12 pound Howitzers.

Company A reported to Camp Schouler in Lynnfielf, Mass. on September 2, 1861 with the rest of the companies reporting during that month. On October 1, the Company Officers were mustered into service followed by the Band on October 5. October 8, basic training completed, the 22nd left for Boston and then to there wartime assignments. They reached Washington D.C. on October 11. By order on October 15, the Army of the Potomac was formed by division. The 22nd was attached to General Fitz John Porter's division. The division consisted of three brigades with the 22nd being in General Martindale's. General Porter's division was assigned to the Third Corps under the command of General S. P. Heintzelman. Colonel Wilson resigned on October 29, 1861 and was replaced by Colonel Jesse A. Grove.

Around Christmas of 1861, the 22nd received sort of a "present" from the government. As it is written in the 22nd's history by John L. Parker and Robert G. Carter and published in 1887: "The Enfield rifles with which the regiment was armed never gave full satisfaction, and it was good news to the rank and file when Springfield rifles appeared in camp, and the order was given to box up the Enfields. The order was obeyed with alacrity, and every enlisted man soon had the rifle of his choice, which he took pride in keeping in good shape, ready for the active service for which he was preparing."



The 22nd finally left Hall's Hill, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, to go on campaign on March 10, 1862 (the Peninsula Campaign) and moved to Fairfax, Virginia. Lieut. William H. White of Company D had an American flag in his baggage. On the morning after the regiment had arrived, the men erected a pole and the Twenty-second Massachusetts had the honor of floating the first American flag that had been put out since the town's occupation by the Union.

The regiment saw its first engagement on April 5, 1862 while on picket. This occurred as the brigade was moving toward Yorktown, Virginia. This was not a major battle but ended with nine men being wounded, one of which proved to be fatal. The Third Artillery lost 2 men and had 3 wounded.

The first major battle for the 22nd was on May 27, 1862. It had rained heavily on the night of May 26 and when the 22nd fell in at 4:00AM on the 27th, the conditions were not good; everything was mud. After eight hours of hard marching, the regiment had reached the intersection of the Richmond and Hanover road. The forces to the front and to the right were already engaged with the enemy. The railroad station on the Richmond and Ashland road was in control of enemy forces. The 22nd was told to take control of the station. A battle ensued where the Union forces lost 62 men, 233 were wounded, and 70 were missing; the 22nd had only one wounded and eight were missing, probably prisoners. Of the enemy, our men buried about 200 and 730 had been taken prisoner. So ended the 27th of May.

Being now battle seasoned soldiers, the 22nd entered into the Seven Days' Battle, which proved to be their worst casualties of the war. The Battle of Mechanicsville occurred on June 26, 1862 with six companies of the 22nd in the fight. A cease fire finally occurred about 9:00PM with the 22nd loosing three men that day.

The 27th of June proved to be a different story. The brigade was diployed with the 22nd in reserve. Being in reserve, they were diployed along the edge of a small woods which was in front of an open field. They were instructed to fell trees and form a breastwork. The battle commenced around 2:30PM in the wheatfield in front of the 22nd's position. The battle progressed until around five when there was a lull in the storm. About 5:30PM the attack was renewed, with redoubled effort. The rebels were now within plain sight of the 22nd and the regiment's marksmen were firing on the line at long range. As the engagement continued and intensified, the woods filled with smoke. The 22nd was taken by surprise when the 13th New York came streaming over the breastwork with the cry "Get up, boys, and give them some!" The 22nd commenced firing with the enemy advancing like an inverted "V". The rebels soon flanked and enfiladed the 22nd after the regiment on the left was forced to retreat. This resulted in the 22nd being forced back out of the woods onto a crest of an open field. With the help of the artillery, the enemy was finally driven back but they had taken their toll on the 22nd. On Friday morning, June 26, the 22nd entered the battle with 750 guns. Saturday night, by actual count, they had only 259 left. The killed numbered 71 men, including Colonel Grove. There were also 55 wounded and taken prisoner with a additional 122 taken prisoner, and 31 wounded. Losses were so great that after the war, Company D formed an organization with their annual meeting on June 27 to commemorate the battle.

On the 28th of June, Captain Sampson, of Company A, took command of the regiment but was soon taken sick and command was turned over to Captain Wardwell of Company B. Sergeant-major Benson acted as the adjutant where Major Tilton had been wounded and captured by the enemy.

Tuesday, July 1, the regiment was at Mulvern Farm. A battle line had been and, even though the men were lying down, artillery fire had caused several casualties. The 22nd was ordered forward to protect the battery. They were once again moved forward more to support the first line of battle and engaged the enemy. They remained on line, holding the position and firing around 60 rounds per man, until finally relieved. They had captured 32 prisoners by then. By the end of the day, casualties numbered 9 killed, 35 wounded, 6 wounded and taken prisoners, and an additional 8 captured.

After the final end of the Seven Days Battle, the 22nd earned a well deserved rest. They were marched back to Hall's Hill, their original starting point, to set up camp until September, when they once again set out on the road to Alexandria. This time, the destination was Tanleytown to replace troops that had been moved out. During their time at camp, many captains of companies had left and Col. Griswold resumed command of the regiment.



They arrived at Fort Corcoran on September 9. There were Confederate troops in the area and the Union was poised for a battle which they felt was inevitable. On September 10, now Lieut. Col. Tilton rejoined the regiment having been released by rebel forces during a prisoner exchange. The hope of remaining in this camp was distroyed by the order to again take to marching, this time down the Rockville road. It was September 12 when they finally went to bivouac near the town of Rockville. At the time they made camp, the 22nd had been reduced to only 86 guns.

The morning of September 13 at 4:00AM, reveille was sounded and the regiment was off again. Leaving their knapsacks and extra clothing, they made their way to a hi ll at Seneca Mills, where they spent the night. The next day found them in Monocacy Junction, Maryland. The whole journey they could hear the sounds of cannon fire. A well needed rest was enjoyed by the 22nd not moving out again until about 10:00AM. They marched threw Frederick where they learned of the Union victory at Stone Mountain, to Middletown. The next morning they were off again. By that afternoon, September 16, about 5:00PM they entered Keedysville where the 22nd, exhausted, attempted to settle in for a much needed rest. This was not to happen as an artillery duel started around dusk and continued until late that night. Knowing they would probably see action in the morning, the 22nd did not rest easy that night. The next day was what is known today as the Battle of Antietam.

Early on the morning of September 17, 1862, the battle started. Cannons were bellowing and at 8:00AM, the command "Fall in" was given. The 22nd took its position on the East side of Antietam Creek on the main turnpike leading to Sharpsburg - directly opposite the center of the Confederate line. This was an ominous position as there were no back-ups and if the line was breached, passage to the rear of the Union lines would be met with little resistance. They remained in this position, watching the battle from their hill top. The 22nd was being moved out to help reinforce Hooker and Sumner when nightfall arrived and the days fighting ended. The next morning, the regiment moved out, across that God forsaken bridge, to set up pickets where the Confederate forces had stood the day before. They continued to follow lee's forces toward the Potomic.

The morning of September 20, General McClellan directed Porter to send a large force across the Potomic for reconnaissance, understanding being that he was to avoid a general engagement. A small brigade, including the 22nd, crossed at Blackford's Ford and formed a line of battle, moving up a narrow road past Boteler's mill, where they were told to lie down. A volley from the ar tillery across the river was fired, knocking branches down which proved to be a great danger to the brigade. Soon, however, the artillery's range was adjusted and the brigade started to rest a little easier. This peace was broken when a Confederate brigade line of battle came out of the woods. The right of the small Union brigade was held by the new 118th Pennsylvania Regiment, who was between the river and a sheer bluff with rock face. The only retreat path was the narrow road the regiment had come in on. The 118th was struck obliquely, crushing them. This same blow had just glanced by the 22nd. They had retreated and were crossing the river when the fate of the 118th became known. The 22nd was further up river when they crossed this time. While they struggled to get across this deeper part of the river, the enemy appeared on the bluff and commenced firing. The Union forces on the opposite side of the river returned fire, pinning the Confederates down and allowing the remainder of the Union brigade to complete its crossing. The brigade had lost about 30 killed, wounded, or missing. The 118th alone had about 66 killed and another 120 wounded out of around 180 men effectually inilating the regiment. The 22nd had lost 2 killed and 1 wounded. An order had been sent for the brigade to withdraw across the river. The 118th either never received the order, had already been met by the enemy, or attempted to withdraw too late. The 22nd had successfully withdrawn so a rift had occurred between the 22nd and the remainder of the 118th over the incident which would never be mended.

The 22nd then put into camp and except for a small move on September 24, remained until October 31 without any new equipment or clothing coming through dispite requisitions for shoes, socks, blouses, blankets, shelter-tents, etc. They had left all extra clothing plus their knapsacks back at Gaines' Mills and a wordy war between the quartermaster-general and McClellan was not helping matters. It was starting to get cold during the night and that, combined with the highly impregnated water from a nearby limestone spring, caused disease to run rampart within the camp. Out of a total of 915 men, 327 were reported as present and 588 as absent sick; and of 16 company officers, 6 were present and 3 of those on sick-list. The brigade had left Hall's Hill with 4111 men, had two new regiments join them, yet numbered only a little over fifteen hundred. The war was taking its toll.

On October 31, they were once more on the march. on November 7, the Army of the Potomic had its popular General McClellan relieved of command and replaced by Major-general Burnside. This distressed the men and the 5th Corps were even more stressed when one of the most popular generals in the army, Fitz John Porter, was replaced by "Fighting Joe" Hooker on the 12th. The Army was reorganized into three divisions with the 3rd and 5th Corps combined under General Hooker. The 22nd finally set up camp in the vacinity of Stoveman's Station on the Aquia Creek and Frede ricsburg Railroad. It was November 23, 1862, and the regiment remained at "Smoky Camp" until December 11, when it was off to the Battle of Fredericksburg.



Rumor had it that on Dec. 10 the 22nd was about to move our again. They were awakened the next morning by the heavy booming of guns. They were told to pack up and soon found themselves marching towards the enemy guns. They arrived on the plains of Stafford where they rested until nightfall, when they were moved back a mile or so, nearer the woods, where they stayed the night. The morning of the 13th, the 22nd was readied and finally, about 3:00PM, moved toward Fredericksburg. They came under heavy cannon fire in the streets of Fredericksburg. Moving forward, towards the guns, they faced a wall of iron being thrown by the Confederate cannons. They finally stopped and opened fire on the rebel forces who, by this time were covered by intrenchments and stone walls. They had also moved into some houses which overlooked the Union line. There the 22nd stayed, firing back as fast as they could load. When their ammunition was almost exhausted, the 12th Maine took over their position and the 22nd, on all fours , crawled away from the line.

As darkness fell, the gunfire finally stopped. It was very cold that night and the 22nd was forced to sleep among the wounded and dead of the battlefield - not a very restful night. In the morning, more cartridges were issued and the 22nd took its place again on the front line. To the front was the Confederate line; to the rear was the city, every lane, street, and avenue under the controlling fire of the enemy. It was sure annihilation, they thought. They could not go back except under cover of darkness, nor could they go forward. Back ups could not reach them either as there were open fields on either side. The buildings around them were filled with sharpshooters who were sniping at the Union line whenever a head raised. Where they could, the 22nd built a breastwork with the dead which scattered the field. Around nightfall, relief came in the form of the Ninth Corps and the 22nd made their way back into the city. The fighting had ended and the 22nd spent a few days re sting before going back over the river to their winter camp. Casualties had been 4 killed, 8 died of wounds, and an additional 42 were wounded. The division had lost 818 men killed or wounded. Senator Wilson was present during the inspection of December 18. Only about one-third of the regiment that he once commanded was still alive. The 22nd had moved into camp near Brooks Station. They named this camp "Camp Gove" after their fallen commander. They were to remain here until May of 1863.

During the winter at Camp Gove, morale was at an all time low. There were many force marches over the frozen ground and through the snow for what seemed to be no purpose. Rumor had it that the upper command was making bets on how long a given march would take. On January 26 a much needed change took place. General Burnside relinquished command of the army and was replaced by General Hooker. The army had not only become dissatisfied with Burnside, they had lost all confidence in him. Disertions were numbering in t he thousands and rations, although not insufficient in quantity, were poor quality and irregular in coming. Under Hooker, conditions improved, rations became regular, and the quality was greatly improved. Fresh vegetables, while scarce, started to appear. Disertions had dropped to almost 0 and furloughs were finally being given out. Lieut. Col. Tilton, upon returning from one, brought his wife back, which had a very positive affect on the men. War was somehow, once again, tolerable. About this time, the army was also reorganized. General George Meade was assigned to command the 5th Corps, the 22nd's corps. Morale was excellent. This is when the red Maltese cross was adopted as the corps badge. Men wore it on the top of their caps and officers wore it on the side of their hats.



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