September 1864's entries in the Union and Advertiser concerning the 54th Regiment.
Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 2, 1864, p. 2
The Rochester Democrat says of the old copperheads woman's letter, that appeared in the Rochester Union, purporting to have been written in Elmira:
"Hereabout it is not believed that the letter was written by a woman at all, or that it came from Elmira."
So the Advertiser said in another paragraph in the same issue, in which the one quoted by the Democrat occurred.—[Elmira Advertiser]
The above is all the answer we get from the Elmira Advertiser to a proposition we made to wager $100 that the lady who wrote the letter to this paper resides in Rochester and has a husband and son in the Federal army. The Democrat does not reply at all. It dare not. We propose now to offer the sneaks more tempting terms. We will wager $100 that what we state in respect to the lady is true, we will take the burthen for proof and the $200 shall be appropriated to the benefit of sick and wounded Union soldiers as the winner may dictate.
The only answer the Elmira paper will give to this proposition will be to repeat the falsehood.
The Democrat will probably remain silent. It too may repeat the lie it has uttered.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 3, 1864, p. 1
Under the column "All Sorts of Paragraphs"
—There are eighteen acres of rebels in the encampment at Elmira, New York.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 3, 1864, p. 2
PERSONAL—Col. Clark of the 54th arrived here from Elmira this morning to remain a day or two attending to regimental affairs. He reports all quiet at Elmira and the men of the 54th feeling very well.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 5, 1864, p. 2
ILLNESS OF OFFICERS AT ELMIRA—Major Lewis of the Grays is lying quite ill of typhoid fever at Elmira. Capt. Hobbie of the Dragoons has been ill, but is recovering.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 6, 1864, p. 2
Base Ball in the 54th
Camp Chemung, Elmira, N.Y.
September 4, 1864
EDS. UNION AND ADVERTISER: Among the various pastimes indulged in by the members of the different regiments here when not on duty, is the game of base ball. A week or so ago the players in the 54th received a challenge to play a match game from the 56th (Brooklyn) Regiment. This regiment contains some of the best players of the city of Brooklyn; but the boys of the 54th nevertheless accepted the challenge.
Yesterday was the time designated for the match to take place, and a goodly number of the officers and men of both regiments assembled on the ground to witness the playing. The Brooklynites went on the ground confident of success, offering bets of two to one; but as the score will show, they were doomed to disappointment, the 54th nine defeating them by one run. The game was well contested throughout, eliciting the hearty applause of the outsiders of both regiments. The Brooklyn nine took their defeat in good humor. A return match will shortly be played, when the 56th expect to retrieve their lost laurels.
[The box score was in a graphic and too much trouble to include it. As noted the 54th won the game - 13 to 12.]
Scorers: James Nellis and W. H. Welling
Umpire: Capt. C. R. Barton
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 8, 1864, p. 2
PROMOTED AND GLAD TO HEAR IT—Says the Rochester Union:—"Among the elections which recently took place in camp, in the 54th Regiment, was one in Company H. Lieut. Alfred R. Hoyt was elected Captain in place of W. T. Kennedy, Jr., resigned. James Hason was chosen Second Lieutenant to fill a vacancy."
Boys of Company H. we're glad to hear it.—"Al" and "Jim" will do you credit. "Charley" and the "old Cap" would be glad to drop down on you for a day or two, but as we are working for our tried friend, "Little Mac," you'll excuse us. Meantime Cap. Luff. and the "Boys," all the good luck in the world.
The above is from the Bay City (Mich.) Signal conducted by Capt. Kennedy who formerly commanded Co. H of the 54th N.Y.N.G.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 10, 1864, p. 3
FIFTY FOURTH REGIMENT—COMPANY L—The headquarters of Company L, Rochester City Dragoons, will be open every evening (Sundays excepted) to receive applicants from first-class young men to join the Company. It is expected that the regiment will be ordered into service of the United States at Elmira. The members of the Regiment thus ordered will not be liable for the draft. By order,
I. S. Hobbie, Capt.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 12, 1864, p. 2
ESCAPE OF SUBSTITUTES—It is reported that 21 men sent from this district to Elmira as substitutes and deserters, escaped from the Barracks on Saturday night. Among the number was the noted "Paddy" Loughlin, who has been arrested thirteen times and who has never yet seen any service at the front.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 13, 1864, p. 2
Notes of a Day in Elmira
Sunday spent at Elmira afforded a few notes of interest, perhaps, to the readers of this paper. The presence of the 54th National Guard and Grays' Battery at Elmira makes the place attractive to our citizens, and many are frequently here.
An occasional visit to Elmira does not make the place much more pleasing. It is an overgrown village, spread upon a stony flat in the valley of the Chemung, and, with the help that military expenditure has given, it has taken on a city charter among its burthens.
The Depot of the Erie Railway is in one place—the business part of the town and the hotels in another, and the camps in still other places far and wide apart. The hotels are overrun with people, and as a consequence they are not the most inviting. The Brainard House is the largest, and is spoken of as the hotel of the place. It lacks many things which belong to a first-class house. It reminds one of a farm leased and the tenant on the last year of his term. There is a lack of everything that looks like making the place luxurious and inviting, and the furniture is barely sufficient to make one feel that he is in an occupied house. The fare at the table is pretty good, though scarcely up to what it should be for a first-class hotel.
The camp to which the Rochester man will naturally turn is that at the Rebel Prison, situated on the Chemung, in the south part of the village. There is the pen of forty acres, enclosed by a high fence upon which the sentry measures the hours with steady pace. No one must approach this fence from without or within under penalty of a shot. The prisoners number about 9,400 and are quartered in barracks and tents.
They can only be seen by visitors from an observatory across the street, from which there is a fine view of the camp and rebel quarters. Mr. Nichols, the proprietor hit upon a happy expedient for making a pile and serving the public at the same time. It costs a dime to spend an hour or two on this large observatory, and no one who goes to Elmira fails to take the view it affords.
The Rebels are under the control of Major Colt of Geneseo, who has positive instructions which are very stringent against the admission of visitors. The most important functionaries are nor admitted to the pen unless special business. The prisoners have a rough appearance, wearing, as they do, clothing of as many hues as the rainbow but none so brilliant. The men are generally of good size, and what would be called fair specimens of the race, if they were not Rebels. They are suffering from the climate and other causes, and it is not strange that many are ill and deaths are frequent. Scurvy is quite common. Fevers are also prevalent. There are about 1500 sick, and the deaths are from seven to ten per day. The confinement of this prison must be very wearisome to the men, and tends to aggravate their illness if attacked. But for this we presume they would prefer to remain than be exchanged and take the chance of going again into the field. There is no danger of an outbreak or any movement for an escape. The guard is so strong that any such attempt would prove futile and disastrous in the extreme to those who engage in it. The signal of a movement by night or day, would bring in a moment a cordon of bristling bayonets about the entire enclosure.
The State Regiments doing guard duty are encamped upon three sides of the prison, and the Chemung river flows on the fourth, with a heavy guard between the fence and the water.
On the south side in a field laid out by nature for a camp, lies in comfortable quarters our own Regiment, the 54th, with the Grays Battery and the 56th N.Y.—the latter regiment from New York city. Everything in camp is in perfect order, and everything moves with the precision of a nicely adjusted machine.
Col. Clark, with his associate field officers, Lieut. Col. Sellinger and Major Westcott, occupy tents on the ridge along the street overlooking the camp. Surgeon Briggs and others of the staff are also quartered on the line.
On the flat below, back of the parade ground, in full view of the streets of the camp, along with the tents of the several companies are arranged in even rows. Further back, on another elevation, are the tents of the company officers, and near by the baking and cook houses of the regiment. The food is well prepared, as we know from inspection. The bread is as good as we ever saw or care to find, under any circumstances. There is nothing wanting for the comfort and health of the men here encamped that can be supplied, unless it is shelter for those on guard duty from the heavy dews of the night, which fall upon them like a shower, saturating their clothing. This exposure causes fever, and a few are ill. They have the best medical care, and a few cases are obstinate.
A party of eight or ten from this city, including the Mayor, spent some hours in camp with the 54th and were hospitably entertained by the officers who vied with each other in making all feel welcome.
While the party were at the Captain's quarters of Co. L (the Dragoons) Capt. Newman's fine band appeared and played some pretty airs which Lieut. Rosenthal (in command of the company) said was a compliment to His Honor and the old commander of the Dragoons and late Colonel of the Regiment. The Mayor responded handsomely and Cols. Angle and Amsden followed.
At the Grays' quarters were Capt. Quinn and Lieut. Darrow to do the hospitable, and make their Rochester friends fell at home. The Battery is well situated and doing its share of duty, while its howitzers stand on the field with grape and canister to exercise a moral influence upon any element which is liable to be disturbed.
The evening parade of the 54th and 56th was a fine show. The 54th went through their evolutions with the precision of veteran soldiers and elicited the warmest commendations of the spectators. The men of this regiment form a contrast so pleasing to the mass of those of the New York regiments that it is the subject of remark everywhere. The Elmirans are loud in praise of the Rochester regiment.
The incidents of camp which might be related are many. Among them is one worthy of notice. When the 54th went to Elmira, they found some three or four hundred of the 16th Veteran Corps doing guard duty. The two organizations soon became friendly, and the Adjutant of the 16th, Lieut. H. C. Brandt, took a special interest in the 54th, partly because it was the Fifty-fourth Volunteer Regiment in which he did hi fighting, but chiefly, as he says, because he found the officers and men gentlemen. Himself a splendid soldier, he could do many kind things for our officers, and they did not forget him. On Thursday night, as he was preparing to follow his Regiment, which had been ordered to Washington, he was presented, by the officers of the 54th, with a splendid field glass suitably inscribed. The presentation was made by Surgeon Briggs in a becoming manner, and accepted in the kind spirit that it was offered.
Col. Clark is quite indisposed, and returned home for rest yesterday.
Capt. Hobbie, of Co. L, is ill of fever at the residence of a relative in Elmira. He is now improving slowly but surely, no doubt.
Major Lewis, of the Grays, has a turn of fever but rallied so far as to return home on Saturday, to recuperate here.
Newman's Band, so popular with the people of Elmira, came to Rochester yesterday on five days furlough, to fulfil some engagements and to enable the members to attend to private affairs neglected in consequence of their abrupt departure for camp.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 13, 1864, p. 2
"ONE LIES AND THE OTHER SWEARS TO IT"—It has been stated that the Democrats of Elmira took the lead in celebrating the fall of Atlanta. The Elmira Advertiser says that the statement is not true and the Rochester Democrat copies the denial and assumes that its case is made. That will not do. The witnesses are not competent to testify, as they are virtually impeached in a past transaction. These papers declared that a communication written to this paper was from an old copperhead woman or was not written by a woman at all. We offered to put up $100 for soldiers' relief, that we would prove that these journals made false statements in regard to the matter and belied the wife and mother of soldiers. They could not back up their positions and had not the manliness to back down. Till they put themselves right in this matter, they had not better unite in making any other statement before the public.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 13, 1864, p. 2
Letter from in Elmira
Elmira, Sept. 11, 1864
Since my last letter we have met with a severe loss here in Camp. The 10th Veteran Reserve Corps, (our teachers as it were), have left camp and gone to Harrisburg, much to the regret of the 54th and Battalion, for they were indeed gentlemen from privates up, and extended to us, the Military of Rochester civilities, we shall long remember. The scurrilous attack made upon the officers and members of the 16th through the Democrat, some time since, was a mean and contemptible as it was uncalled for and false. The officers have proved themselves gentlemen in every particular, and the article in question was worthy the source from which it emanated and the paper in which it was published. The officers of the 54th united in the presentation of a splendid field glass to Adj't H. C. Brandt of the 16th and the 4th inst. The Adjutant said, in his reply to Col. Clark, who made the presentation in behalf of the officers, "that he went to the field with the 54th [sic] Brooklyn and this beautiful gift from the 54th Rochester was the first present he had ever received and that he should appreciate it the more highly as it came from the 54th unexpected, unsought, and in fact undeserved."
We have seen something of the feeling manifested at the reception of the news of Presidential nominations in years past and gone, be we never heard or saw anything to compare to the news of the nomination of "Little Mac," every one seemed to be crazy with excitement. The first we heard of the news was the cheers from the Camp of the 56th Brooklyn regiment, then it was taken up by the 99th, 77th, 54th, the Batteries and a large portion of the "Vets," who claim that wherever they may be the privates will vote 5 to 1 for Little Mac. In the city of Elmira the excitement was, if anything, still greater—men, women and children through the streets sending up cheer upon cheer for the Soldier Candidate. In the evening at least 6,000 people congregated in the streets to hear and see what they could see. Cannons fired until after midnight. Captain Newman's Band and the 56th Drum Corps enlivened the scene with music. Such a time was never before in Elmira "by the oldest inhabitant." The people seemed not contented with this demonstration but on Monday evening following (5th) amid a drenching rain-storm, a ratification meeting was held, processions paraded the streets, with banners and music, cannons were fired and bon-fires were lit in the principal streets and the people both old and young turned out en masse as if for a gala day. I am informed that many solid men of the city, who were formerly "Union Leaguers," have come out in favor of McClellan, and proclaim the fact universally in public places. Addresses were made at these meetings by several prominent men of Elmira, among the number was E. P. Hart, Esq., former District Attorney of Chemung Co. I learn that he is a brother of R. Hart of your city, if so, as a politician he far outstrips his brother, not only as a speaker but as being on the "right side" and having enlisted with his whole heart in the "right Cause." Two to one are the odds on a "Little Mac" here, with no takers. The Republicans look and feel chop-fallen enough since the nomination.
There seems to be considerable sickness in the camp at present principally dysentery, of a mild type, however, which yields readily to proper remedies. Drs. Briggs and Rider are doing all men can for the welfare of those who come under their charge. Friends at home need not worry about those who are here, for they receive the best of care. Major Lewis has been quite sick but was able to be removed home yesterday and hope to see him again at his post in a short time. Col. Clark is feeling quite unwell but manages to be about. Adj. Brackett has also been sent home.
Major A. S. Diven has been promoted to a Brigadier Generalship by Uncle Abe. This is a good appointment, for General D. has proved himself a good and efficient officer and in fact the "right man in the right place." No better appointment could be made and one that gives better satisfaction "all round."
I regret to learn in this connection that Capt. Lowe, A. Q. M.,—the right hand man in Gen. Diven's office—is to be removed and sent to New Orleans, because, I learn, for no other reason than he thinks, (though he does not speak it,) that A. Lincoln is not the man for the Presidency the next term. The Republican wolves are after him with their howls and I should not be surprised if he had to leave, though his home is Elmira and he is every way qualified for the position he now holds, having lost his health in the field and sent home to die. It makes no difference, he has no business even to think Lincoln is not the man. Wherever the Captain may be ordered, or wherever he goes he will carry the best wishes of every officer and member of the N. G. from Rochester. A more genial or warm hearted friend of ours never breathed the breath of life than Capt. L. But thus is politics and thus the strait to which Republicans are driven.
A salute of one hundred guns were fired by the "Grays" on the receipt of the news here of the fall of Atlanta, which made the rebs fell anything but uncomfortable. I understand the initiatory steps for the salute was taken by the "democrats" who were looked upon by a few as disloyal.
The "Grays" were mustered into the United States service, for one hundred days on the 30th ult., to date from the 2nd. Every man present mustered. We now number, including officers, one hundred strong. The boys are all well and have had issued to them overcoats &c., so that they are comfortable. By the way, I observe in the Battery and 54th, some typos from the Union office who have laid aside the stick and the rule and taken to the shooting-stick. I see no typos from the Democrat here. Are they all wanted at home to help squelch the "Irish trash" this fall?
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 14, 1864, p. 2
"Rascally Conduct—Gov. Seymour's Militiamen Plundering Volunteers"
The above is the caption to an article in the Democrat which for audacity and boldness is misrepresentation eclipses all that has appeared in that sheet, noted for its audacity in that respect. Having been present in Elmira on Sunday, when the editor who wrote the article, obtained the information upon which it is based, we are the more surprised at what is written. The writer of that article knows that the guilt of the matter rests entirely with the Federal authorities—that the outrages referred to are perpetrated under their direction, and that Gov. Seymour has no more to do with the Federal army than the man in the moon.
The editor of the Democrat knew that an exposition of this robbing of volunteers would be made, to the disgrace of the Lincoln party, and he saw no other way to meet it, than by crying out "stop thief" and diverting attention from the guilty.
What the Democrat states of the atrocious robbery of volunteers and substitutes is mainly true, and a great deal more has not been told. The following is the statement of the Democrat the caption being at the head of this article:
Some most scandalous stories are told at Elmira of the treatment to which volunteer soldiers en route for the front are subjected by the guards detailed from New York regiments of the National Guard. The volunteers are actually in some cases stripped of every cent of money on their persons. A pretence is made that there is danger of their deserting and as night comes on they are placed in irons. As soon as it is dark enough for their purpose the guards blow out the lights in the car and commence rifling the pockets of the manacled and helpless recruits. The thing appears to be well understood by certain New York officers. They wink at it, and it is believed that some of their number do not hesitate to share in the plunder. On one occasion an officer of the 54th overheard the Adjutant who was engaged in making the detail, ask his men if they had any money. "No," responded one fellow, "but we'll have plenty when we come back!" There was a general laugh, in which the officer joined heartily.
Lieut. Weitzel of the 54th, went down to Washington with one detail, and endeavored to maintain some discipline and show of decency among the New Yorkers, but was openly defied, and a sergeant even threatened his life with a drawn bayonet. The recruits were robbed of everything they had, during the trip, and Lieut. Weitzel was offered two hundred dollars as his share. He refused to take anything, at first, but finally, through the fear of the lawless crew, accepted twenty-five dollars, which he delivered up to the proper officer on his return to Elmira, at the same time reporting the facts. We hear that an investigation is to be made, but whether it will amount to anything is a matter of some doubt. The insubordinate sergeant has disappeared, and the officers of his regiment profess to know nothing about him. They keep no record of the names of men detailed to guard detachments. Lieut. Weitzel is ill, and as the surgeon thinks, is suffering from the effects of drugs administered to him during his trip to Washington.
Taking this statement of our cotemporary, which is substantially true, and he makes his case against the Federal and not the State authorities. Gov. Seymour has no soldiers at Elmira. All the men there are sworn into the Federal service and are as much Federal soldiers as any other. The Governor can give no command which the President and his subordinates are bound to obey. When they are ordered to do guard duty it is as Federal soldiers. If they rob fellow soldiers it is because they are permitted to do so by Federal officers who are bound to protect soldiers.
But we need not go into an argument to show this. It is an insult to the intelligence of readers to do so. But what has the Democrat omitted in this statement? At the very time and place when the above facts were stated to the editor who wrote the article, it was further stated that when the Federal officers at Elmira wanted a guard from the New York militia regiments, they did not call upon Col. Clark or other commandants, but went and took the men from camp, selecting such as would serve their purpose. The first the Colonels know of the proceedings is when the Sergeants report the men absent on detached duty. By this it appears that the men connected with the Provost Marshal's office are concerned in the villainy. If they desired to have a guard of good men, they would have called upon the Colonels to send such, and held them responsible. The thieves were selected from certain regiments, and they divide the money taken by force from the soldiers, with the officers who select them. The Democrat says truly that an investigation will not amount to anything. It would amount to something if made by Federal officials, and Gov. Seymour and his men were the parties at fault. The doubt our contemporary expresses of the result of an investigation, is a confession that the guilt is in quarters too high to be reached.
Now we feel it our duty to caution volunteers and substitutes who are entering the army, against the horde of robbers who are detailed at Elmira to plunder them. They should not take a dollar in their pockets by way of Elmira. It will be taken from them by force ere they get over the mountains of Pennsylvania. And there is no redress. When they get to the army they can obtain no hearing and if they do, the gang sent as a guard would beat them in swearing and give large odds. Volunteers and substitutes leave your money in banks or with friends before you go to Elmira. You will probably be robbed of all, if you take it with you!
It is shame that this should be so, but it can not be otherwise till the Federal officials whose duty it is to forward troops see to it that good men are sent out as guards for recruits. Such can be obtained without difficulty by calling upon the Colonels of Regiments who know their men.
Will our exchanges call attention to this systematic robbery of soldiers and advise them to take care of their money before going to Elmira.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 15, 1864, p. 2
The 58th New York at Elmira—Flight of Substitutes—The Soldiers for McClellan—Electioneering in the Pulpit, &c.
HEADQUARTERS, 58TH Reg., N.G.
Elmira, Sept. 14, 1864
DEAR UNION:—The 58th Regiment National Guard came to Elmira on the 10th ult., performing duty at Barracks No. 1 until the 11th inst. You know the substitutes and recruits are brought first to Barracks No. 1, put into squads and sent to the front. The 58th has no less than four details at and on the way to the front now. The recruits brought to Elmira are very respectable looking young men. The substitutes are right the contrary. Such another set of rowdies cannot be picked up this side of the infernal regions. The officers of the 58th were frequently called upon by the commandant of the post to patrol the camp during the night. More or less of the substitutes escape every night. Some times whole squads break through the guard and run for dear life. How the government can cope with the rebel army with such a class of broken down, prison birds is a mystery to me. The rebel prisoners are very quiet, but the most casual observer can detect a settled determination to adhere to the fortunes of the Confederacy, though evil as well as good report.
Your friend, the Democrat, is either ignorant or false. His one idea, announced every morning, that the Democratic party is breaking up, is a subject of laughter, even among the Republicans. McClennan's name is music to the ears of a very large proportion of those in the service at Elmira.
The one hundred day men, I fear, will lose their votes this fall. If so, the boys at home must work the harder. That the whole "shoddy" party will be routed this fall, horse, foot and dragoons, there can be but little doubt.
The clergy in certain localities have commenced upon the duty this fall. Let missionaries be sent into every school district, if the people are so ignorant about the right of suffrage as these political hypocrites pretend. How low the standard of clerical instruction. Political ranters and stump orators fill the sacred desk, with a few worthy exceptions. Thomas K. Beecher commenced a series of lectures on Sabbath evening to instruct, as he stated, his congregation how to vote. He must be proud of such a body of men; they prouder still of their teacher. There is no language in the vocabulary sufficiently strong to express proper indignation at the conduct of that class of the clergy. Strange than men of intelligence and experience will submit to have any man, high or low, assume such priority in political affairs. The mass of the people will repudiate all such instruction from the clergy. I have great respect for the clergy while in their appropriate sphere, but out upon such hypocritical assumptions.
As far as the Union is circulated in camp it is well received, and the boys are anxious of having it more abundantly. One word in reference to the 58th. It numbers a few less than three hundred effective, working men. The officers are gentlemanly and stand by their Colonel to a man; no shrinking from duty; every man at the proper post. The rank and file are being drilled in the use of arms, and have made good progress; their dress parade is done in fine style. The regiment has acquired a capital reputation for order and neatness. But no man has been in the guard house. This, with other National Guard regiments located at Elmira, are called by some of the government officials Governor Seymour's pets; and yet I hear of no complaints from any of the commandants of posts that the duties assigned them are not well and willingly performed. The idea of being sent to the front is abandoned even at home. The Guard is needed at this post as much as at the front. More anon.
A WAR DEMOCRAT
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 19, 1864, p. 2
THE ROBBERY OF SOLDIERS BY THE GUARD DETAILED AT ELMIRA—The Democrat is badly beaten in the controversy about the responsibility of the Federal officers at Elmira for the plunder of soldiers sent to the front under a guard of thieves from Elmira. The Elmira Advertiser, a black a Lincoln paper as the Democrat, gives considerable space to the matter, copying from both the Democrat and the Union. It says that if the reports are true the practice of plundering soldiers is pernicious and the guilty should be severely punished. It concludes that if the facts as stated our advice to the soldiers to take no money to Elmira is good, and it comments as follows:
But we mistrust that the above is rather fancy drawn, and implies a hit at the Federal authorities having the whole thing in charge in whose supervision the Union is never apt to see anything commendable. But, at least, officials now understand what is being said of them and they can meet the charges as they deem best.
Thus is will be seen that the Advertiser, a Lincoln paper published at Elmira, concedes all that we claimed as to the responsibility of the Federal authorities who have the whole thing in charge, and thus denies the allegation of the Democrat that Governor Seymour was responsible. The Advertiser hates the Governor most heartily and would not hesitate to out the responsibility upon him if it could. It is compelled to admit that the Federal authorities have the whole thing in charge, and it thinks the will investigate the matter.
Has the Democrat any comment to make on the remarks of its Elmira contemporary? Will it even publish as much of its comments as we have done? Guess not.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 221864, p. 2
POLITICS OF THE SOLDIERS—A Correspondent of the Democrat purporting to be of the 54th Regiment at Elmira, has taken up the question of politics among the soldiers there and declares that very few will go for McClellan. The writer of the communication, if in the 54th, does not believe what he says. He must know that the receipt of the intelligence of the nomination of Little Mac created great sensation in Camp Moore where the 54th and 58th are located—Cheer after cheer was sent up on the receipt of the news. We were told this in the camp in presence of Republican officers who did not deny it. Now unless we are misinformed by those who ought to know, the soldiers in Camp Moore at Elmira are decidedly for McClennan. If the correspondent of the Democrat is there and doubts it, let him invite a McClennan man to make a canvas within the companies and report the results. We are willing to abide by the decision.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 13, 1864, p. 2
A Trip to Elmira
Two companies of the 50th Regiment N.G.S.N.Y., having been ordered to report for detached duty at Elmira, companies "A" and "B" of that regiment, commanded respectively by Captains Blood and Clough, left the village of Ithaca on the 2nd of September and after a tedious ride, a portion of the distance upon open cars and rough board seats, arrived at Elmira.
Leaving their baggage at the depot, they marched up to barracks number one, where after considerable delay, the two companies were mustered into United States service for one hundred days.
On their arrival at the Camp they were surrounded by the soldiers who had been previously stationed there, who, supposing them to be substitutes, made the air resound with cries of "fresh air," "fresh fish," that being their usual salutation for the conscripts and bounty men.
The soldiers quartered there appear to have a special dislike for substitutes, and well they may, for the most arduous part of their duty is to prevent these drafted men and bounty jumpers from escaping the camp. At night no less than three lines of guards and pickets, besides patrols, are necessary to guard against the escape of these unwilling soldiers.
On their first arrival in camp it appeared probable that these companies would be assigned to quarters in the old barracks which were built in 1861 and which presented anything but an uninviting appearance, but through the exertions of their officers and by the kind assistance of the 58th regiment, they were finally ordered to occupy new barracks which were clean, neat and otherwise as convenient as could be expected.
The same evening the men received their clothing, blankets and a portion of their equipments, and after chosing their bunks, rolled in, tired out by their days of travel and excitement and prepared to enjoy even the repose afforded by a bed of boards and a knapsack pillow. The next day our militiamen began to be initiated into the mysteries of soldier and camp life, and soon some of them were put on guard duty on the camp ground, and others were sent off to Baltimore and Washington with detachments of volunteers and substitutes. "Subs," as the soldiers call them, were then coming in and being sent off by the hundred daily, The guard kept over them is very strict, they while on their way from one camp to another not being allowed to communicate with any person without permission. With all this care it is impossible to prevent some from making their escape, and it is said that one of these men poisoned two of his guards, that he might elude their vigilance.
I must not forget to describe the eating house where the private soldiers take their meals. It is a long, low, illy ventilated building, and its condition is a disgrace upon the authorities who have it in charge. The tables are always wet, greasy, and dirty, as are also the benches, and you can imagine that anything but a sweet smelling savor would arise from the sloppy, dirty tables, and this damp and unwholesome eating house. In going out of the single door you must remember not to look downward, for here are placed two swill barrels, into which the men must empty the refuse from their tin cups and plates as they file out of the building. The rations allotted would not be unpalatable if a suitable place was provided in which to eat them. The bread is excellent, and the coffee very good; but strange to relate, no vegetables are provided for men who need them at this time and place more than at almost any other. Once or twice the men have had tainted meat served out to them, but it has always disappeared a very short time after being placed upon the table.
Lieut. Esty, of the Ithaca Company, sent out one dish of this sort on the double quick, ordering waiters to set such meat before his men again at their peril.
But I have not time to give further particulars concerning our Tompkins County Militia—men which would be of general interest. They are still at Elmira and will fulfill faithfully every duty committed to their charge.
The 58th N.G.S.N.Y., to which the two companies of the 50th are attached, is under the command of Col. Wisner of Mount Morris, who enjoys the reputation of a most excellent and efficient officer.
During my stay in Elmira I visited the encampment of rebel prisoners and Barracks number Three, where the 54th Rochester regiment is stationed.
The 54th makes the best appearance on parade of any regiment now at Elmira, and has a very high reputation for order and efficiency. Col. Clark, its universally popular commander, may well be proud of his Excelsior regiment, the gallant 54th.
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 27, 1864, p. 2
The Rebel Prisoners at Elmira
It will appear by the communication below, from a reliable source, that our government is imitating the example of the Jeff. Davis government in cruelty to prisoners. It is evidently the purpose of the fanatics who control the two governments to wreak their vengeance and hatred upon the sick and wounded prisoners who fall into their hands. We are told by the Democrat that the rebel government has removed the men from the command of the prisons who perpetrated the acts of cruelty to the Union prisoners, and that they are all doing well down there at Richmond, Andersonville and other places. If our cotemporary believes this to be the case, had he not better urge some reform in the management of the rebel prisoners held by the federal government? If he has any feeling of magnanimity he will do it, and thus further mitigate the horrors of war:
MR. EDITOR:—Will you give a place in your paper to the following extracts from private letters concerning the prisoners at Elmira?
"We looked down from the observatory into the pen the poor prisoners have at Elmira. God help them! We have a cousin among them, who has lung disease and scurvy. We tried to get permission to speak to him, but Stanton's orders are so fiendish that we could not. As a great favor we were permitted to send him a few vegetables, and L. got him an overcoat, as he was sick, through a friend, who prepared him for our appearance on the observatory. We recognized the poor boy, and he touched his hat when the guards were not looking. I begged the officer to have him stand out by himself, that we might distinguish him. He sent me a ring through one of them. When we turned to leave the poor fellow was completely overcome. The officers are humane, and but for Stanton and the Loyal League, would do well by them. Many of the prisoners had little, if any, clothing on—some in their drawers. Please send a cheap prayer book to poor J. to cheer him, if possible. He cannot live long as he is. They will not permit the well ones to receive anything. Can't you get Mr. B., or some one, to open the eyes of the people to this great crime committed at our very doors.
"Do try to send up some one to intercede with Stanton, or somebody who can put a stop to this outrage. Only think of those poor fellows dying from cold and starvation in this christian land of plenty. Their rations are now sut down to one quarter, not enough to sustain life. They must die or become insane. To think poor Mrs. ________ could not speak to her cousin. I sent him a prayer book and cross book mark. They will not contraband; but anything which helps them to live is. Are we living in such a land? Do tell Mr. N. about it. Perhaps he will be able to do something for these poor fellows."
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Rochester, NY Union & Advertiser: September 29, 1864, p. 2
A NEW DODGE–THE 54TH REGIMENT AND GRAYS' BATTERY TO BE RETAINED AT ELMIRA—It is now proposed that the Government retain the 54th Regt. And Grays' Battery at Elmira for one hundred days after the expiration of their present term on the 4th of November.
The City Committee for recruiting have fallen in and adopted the suggestion. They have voted the men $200 bounty each, provided government can be induced to credit the city, half a man for each of these commands who enlists for another hundred days.
Mayor Brackett and Gen. Williams go to Elmira to-night to present the proposition to the officers of the Regiment and Battery, and to see what they can do with the Federal authorities in the way of obtaining the credit suggested as a condition for their re-enlistment.
This scheme, if carried into effect, will keep the Regiment and Battery at Elmira during the Election and every man will be deprived of the privilege of voting. The law to permit soldiers to vote in the camp and field only gives the privilege to those out of the State. None of the men at Elmira can vote. That is settled beyond all question.
The soldiers should fully understand this and act with a knowledge of the facts. It has been given out that the men of the 54th and Grays would not be permitted to come home to vote any way though their time expires before election. It is understood that a majority of them will vote for McClellan and so they will probably be prevented from voting at all.
As to filling the quota of the city there will be no difficulty in this respect. The committee understand that they can get the men as fast as they can get the money. There is no occasion to sell the local militia to fill the quota. We hope to see our soldiers home at the end of their first hundred days.
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