Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 48th/150th: Hatteras~Part Two

Union Soldiers Drill at Camp Winfield~Hatteras, North Carolina

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"Our first impressions of Hatteras were not favorable," wrote regimental historian Joseph Gould. "When we relieved the 20th Indiana Regiment, which had previously occupied the post, and saw their deplorable condition, heard their tales of woe and had some experience with the troops--of bugs and things they left to our care--we certainly felt despondent, and 'many a time and oft' wondered 'why we came for a soldier.' However, after spending some weeks on the sandy shores, the soldiers of the 48th, spending their first Christmas and New Year's Day in uniform, far from Schuylkill County, they grew to love Hatteras. Said Gould fondly, "we learned to love the old place in time, and often in our after experience we wished we were back. . . ."

While Company B, commanded by Captain James Wren, remained at Hatteras Inlet to garrison Forts Hatteras and Clark, the remaining nine companies enjoyed more comfortable wooden barracks quarters at Camp Winfield, a few miles further up the island, which was constructed by the men of the 48th shortly after their arrival. "A large earthwork had been erected by the regiment," said Gould, "and it was a very formidable looking structure. We never had any occassions to use it, and our idea at the time of its construction was that it was done to keep us employed."

Drills became more frequent as the days continued to pass on Hatteras. In charge of the area was General Thomas Williams, a career soldier, afterwards killed at the battles for Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Williams was a tough, no-nonsense officer. He "came upon the scene," remembered Gould, "to make our lives miserable. . .by inaugurating five drills per day." But his work in transforming the volunteers into soldiers paid off. "Later we thought better of him as we grew older," admitted the regimental historian, "and as we learned that the extra drills and discipline he enforced upon us did us a great amount of good when we were called upon to assume the heavy work attending the life we had chosen." When the soldiers of the 48th learned of his death, there were "many expressions of sorrow."

Brigadier General Thomas Williams

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