Bad Rifles at Olustee

MARCH 4, 1864.


The Seventh New Hampshire Regiment at Olustee. A Jacksonville (Fla.) Correspondent of the Manchester Mirror gives the following account of the condition of the 7th New Hampshire Regiment at the battle of Olustee on the 20th ult:

"Some two months ago our regiment was furnished with Spencer Carbine with the expectation of being mounted. The horses had not been furnished at the time we left St. Helena for this expedition. The 40th Massachusetts were mounted and supplied with Springfield rifles. A few days before this engagement by order of the officer in command ( Gen. Seymour), half of our men were obliged to exchange their favorite pieces for the old guns of that regiment, many of which were so damaged as to be perfectly useless. I counted more than twenty in our company that were entirely useless. Many of them had no ramrods and others no locks. By this our entire regiment was disheartened. To be drawn up in line of battle to be shot down by the enemy and no effective weapon in their hands was truly discouraging. It should be stated that they had no bayonets, that most important part of the weapon having been thrown away by the mounted men as useless and cumbersome. It addition to this it should be remembered that we have over three hundred recruits, many of whom were never before under fire, and had not been sufficiently drilled for that position. Many of our recruits cannot understand or speak a word of the English language, having come from the Canada French settlements and Germany but a short time ago to be caught up by sharpers and thrown upon our hands as substitutes. In this condition our regiment went into the fight bad did all they could. It is very easy to imagine how any men must feel when ordered up in front of the enemy with no weapon in his hand. It would be very natural for him to feel that he was useless in the struggle, and self-preservation would occur to him very soon. His reasoning would be, I am of no use, and why should I stand here for the sole purpose of being shot?

It has been stated that the 7th new Hampshire did not do all that was expected of them, and if they did not, the above important reasons should be taken into the account. The conduct of our field officers is spoken of in the highest terms by all officers and men who were on the field. Col. Abbott was in the hottest part of the engagement, laboring with all his energies to keep the regiment in its place and make it most effective, without a thought of his own personal danger, while the missiles of death were flying like hail around him; and so of the others."

Unidentified correspondent.

Article printed in the Boston Journal, March 4, 1864; pg. 2, col. 3.
It is made available here through the courtesy of Thomas Hayes,

Hayes is currently working on a historical reference work, "Letters of the Civil War," from the newspapers of the cities and towns of Massachusetts. He has researched the Boston Herald, Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer, Dedham Gazette, Roxbury Gazette, Randolph Transcript, Worcester Transcript and the Malden Messenger. He says, "I have filed, by date, a little over 3,300 letters. These are from the Soldiers, Sailors, Nurses, Correspondents and Politicans. This project started out as a simple endeavor to find that one letter from my Grandfather, Walter A. Hewes, who served in the 1st Mass. Infantry and 4th Mass. Cavalry. To date, no luck, but I have about 30 more papers to research."

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