being among the foremost sufferers, while the strength of the Grand Army was from these causes constantly diminishing; and, at the outset, not a few of the members of the organization doubted the necessity for, or feared the failure of, the project. But there was contagion in the fiery enthusiasm and terrible earnestness of Commander Sargent, and, slowly at first, but surely, the plan won its way. Breaking their hitherto and since invariable rule of "one term" elections of department commander, the comrades in Massachusetts a second and a third time re-elected Commander Sargent, and, before the close of the latter term, he saw the beginning of the end in the establishment of a Soldiers Home on Powder Horn Hill, Chelsea.
The work had been of slow growth; the posts were appealed to, public meetings were held, and at camp-fires and other gatherings the necessity for the procurement of a Home was strongly urged; but during the earlier months there were only a few tangible evidences of prospective success, here and there a small contributor, so that many who had been enthusiastic became downcast and discouraged. But there was one comrade whose faith failed not, and when the workers wearied, Comrade Sargent became only the more resolute and determined. During his second term, he was able to announce the receipt of a small bequest in the will of a generous lady, and this afforded the basis for yet more persistent appeals to the public. An act of incorporation was procured from the legislature, by which the control of the institution was placed in the hands of the Grand Army, by the selection of a majority of the trustees from this organization. With the small amount of money secured, a beginning was made by the purchase of the property now used as a Home, and on the eighth day of June, 1881, the dedicatory exercises were held, and the Home opened July 25 of the following year. Already, however, a movement had been inaugurated for a grand bazaar in December, at the Mechanics' Building in Boston. Gen. Sargent, who had been chosen President of the Board of Trustees, which position he filled until his removal from the state, succeeded in interesting a large number of the leading citizens of the state, and was fortunate in calling to his aid as chief marshal, Col. A. A. Rand, to whose admirable organizing powers much of the success of the bazaar was due. The women, always loyal to the veterans, went enthusiastically into the work, the posts joined heartily, and the general public responded liberally, and at the end nearly fifty thousand dollars was turned over to the Treasurer of the Home, which, with the addition of $10,000, the munificent gift of Capt. J. B. Thomas, enabled the managers to pay the balance of the purchase money upon the property, and largely increase the number of inmates. For more than five years past, the deserving applicants have been in excess of the capacity of the Home, and there was also an imperative necessity for enlarged hospital accommodations.
In 1884, therefore, steps were initiated for the Carnival, held in Boston in February, 1885. By another bit of good fortune, Col. A. C. Wellington was secured as chief marshal, and again success crowned the effort, over sixty thousand dollars being realized as the net result. The legislature makes an annual appropriation of $15,000 towards the support of the Home, which now contains one hundred and ten inmates, to be increased about thirty upon the completion of the new hospital building.
Since the institution of the Grand Army in Massachusetts, its commanders have been as follows:—
1866, provisional, Chas. Devens, A. S. Cushman; 1867, A. S. Cushman; 1868, A. B. R. Sprague; 1869, Francis A. Osborne; 1870, James L. Bates; 1871, William Cogswell; 1872, Henry R. Sibley; 1873, A. B. Underwood; 1874, J. W. Kimball; 1875, Geo. S. Merrill; 1876-77-78, Horace Binney Sargent; 1879, J. G. B. Adams; 1880, John A. Hawes; 1881, Geo. W. Creasey; 1882, Geo. H. Patch; 1883, Geo. S. Evans; 1884, John D. Billings; 1885, John W. Hersey; 1886, Richard F. Tobin.
The Assistant Adjutant-Generals, to whose systematic work this department has been so greatly indebted for its efficiency, have been Thomas Sherwin, Henry B. Peirce, James F. Meech, and Alfred C. Munroe.
Having for eight years led in members and excellency all the departments of the country, with its record of over $600,000, expended in its relief work, with $120,000 now held for that purpose, with a membership of nearly eighteen thousand, and possessing the only Soldiers Home in the nation, established solely through its own efforts and still maintained in its hands, the Grand Army of Massachusetts has a right to be proud of its exemplification of the virtues of "Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty."
ON DETACHED SERVICE.
AN EPISODE OF THE CIVIL WAR.
BY CHARLES A. PATCH, MASS. VOLS.
Most sketches of battle-scenes, in their voluminous details of movements and vivid descriptions of action, so completely hide the actual feelings of the men engaged that the inexperienced may be pardoned the thought, that, having donned the insignia of a soldier, a man instantly becomes filled with martial ardor, and eager to face the most withering fire of musketry or artillery. But the reality is far different; very few men are so constituted, or are so reckless of their lives, that they can listen to the unearthly screech of the shell or the crash of solid shot, mingled with the sickening thud of grape and bullets, without a shiver of weakness creeping through their systems, and a helpless knocking of their knees together. It is a military fact that lines of combatants as they go into position are not made up of heroes, and regiments which won renown in such scenes of carnage as Fredericksburg, or Gettysburg, or the Wilderness, were composed of plain, quiet men, who were faint-hearted and homesick when forming in front of flashing batteries or heavy bodies of opposing troops. It was only when completely involved in the struggle, after the madness of excitement had overcome the real man, that they proved themselves to be, what we now know them, heroes. But it very often happened that troops were placed in positions where neither glory nor honor could redound to them, however brave they might be, and where the results of such movements were not at all in keeping with the loss of life incurred. This little sketch covers somewhat such an occasion, where troops comparatively new in the service were ordered to perform work which seemed uncalled-for and extra hazardous, and of so little consequence that no record will ever be made of it, although lives were lost in its accomplishment. An inside view is simply given of the true feelings and actions of men at such times, and necessarily lacks the glow of enthusiasm which is thrown around the picture of the historic battle. But to the story.
If there was one feature in the South which annoyed the Federal commanders more than another it was the railroad system. Through its medium they were enabled to supply their armies from the great plantation centres where war was unknown. With a railroad at the back of each army, they were enabled to move with small wagon trains, and could utilize troops that would otherwise have been detached as guards. By its potent power, also, the troops were hurried from point to point of the Confederacy, thus keeping the Federal armies so long outside the charmed circle of the seceded States. With worn-out rails, scant supply of carriage-material, and wheezy engines, they performed herculean labor throughout the war. Consequently it became the favorite pastime and the almost sole business of Union cavalry to destroy or attempt destruction of railroad communication. Thousands upon thousands of valuable lives were sacrificed in such