THE FOURTH REGIMENT
By LIEUT. JAMES A. LEYDEN, ADJUTANT 4TH U. S. INFANTRY.
The Legion of the United States, by which title the regular army was known from 1792 to 1796, was a theoretically well balanced military organization of four divisions, each division or sub-legion containing Dragoons, Rifles, Artillery and Infantry. Whatever merit this, organization might have had against a civilized enemy in an open or civilized country, it was found to be poorly adapted to the various requirements of Indian warfare or ordinary frontier duties in a wooded country. That the important battle at Miami Rapids was fought and won under this organization was due, not to any particular merit in the organization, but to the admirable discipline instilled into the command by the Commander-in-Chief, General Anthony Wayne. "Train and discipline them for the service they are meant for," wrote Washington. These instructions were so faithfully complied with that it was common remark that the "mad commander" had become a most thorough and painstaking disciplinarian.
The cessation of active Indian warfare, and the occupation of many remote stations, called for a simpler administrative organization, and, pursuant to Act of Congress May 30, 1796, the Legion was disbanded in November 1796, the President arranging and completing out, of the infantry of the sub-legions, four regiments of infantry. The Fourth Infantry was in consequence organized from the infantry of the 4th sub-legion, with Thomas Butler, of distinguished lineage and revolutionary service, as lieutenant-colonel, commandant.
The evacuation, in 1796, of the British military posts in the Northwest, under Jay's treaty, and the occupation of the territory ceded by Spain to the United States, by the treaty of October 27, 1795, necessitated the dispersion of the newly organized regiments to many widely separated stations, the Fourth Infantry going, in June, 1797, to Tennessee and Georgia. In the interval between 1796 and 1802 there were many changes in the regimental organizations, the personnel varying from 30 commissioned officers and 502 enlisted men, in 1796, to 49 officers and 1036 enlisted men in 1799.
Spain having become allied with France, and as strained relations existed between France and the United States, it was for a time doubtful whether peaceable occupation of the lately ceded territory of Louisiana would occur. Emissaries and spies had been sent out from Louisiana to ascertain the temper of the people of the Mississippi Valley upon the subject of separation from the Union and the formation of an independent government under foreign protection. The reports of these agents is interesting
reading. One of them, reporting upon the army, says; "There is a strict discipline observed in the army. The soldiers are almost all youths from 16 to 26 years of age. They go through some military evolutions with sufficient precision. With respect to the officers from the lowest to the highest (excepting very few) they are deficient of those qualities that adorn a good soldier, excepting fierceness, and are overwhelmed in ignorance and in the most base vices." In view of the fact that this very spy had been taken in hand by the military and escorted by an officer outside of the United States territory, his judgment may have been somewhat warped.
Occupation of the newly acquired territory was not resisted, and Congress concluded in 1802 to reduce the military establishment. The new law provided for but two regiments of infantry and the Fourth Infantry was, June 1st of that year, disbanded. Some of the officers were retained in other organizations, some resigned and the remainder were honorably discharged.
International affairs in 1808 were in such a condition that the President asked Congress to increase the military strength of the regular army; and by the unparalleled vote, on military matters, of 98 to 16, the House passed a bill providing for an increase of seven regiments of infantry. The Fourth Infantry under this Act was reorganized in the months of May and June, 1808. It was recruited in the Eastern States, and John P. Boyd, of East India fame, was named its first colonel. In the spring of 1809 the organization was completed and the companies were stationed at Boston and various other points in the New England States. No important changes of station occurred until the spring of 1811, when the regiment was ordered to concentrate at Philadelphia, Pa. The companies having arrived at the Lazaretto, a short distance from the city of Philadelphia, orders were then received to proceed to Pittsburgh. In compliance with these orders the regiment started, June 3d, on the march across the State of Pennsylvania, arriving in Pittsburgh on the 28th of the same month. Four weeks had been pleasantly passed in the city when orders directed the regiment to proceed by river to Cincinnati. Arriving at Cincinnati camp was established on the present site of Newport Barracks until August 31st. War Department orders then directed that the regiment proceed to Vincennes, in the Indian Territory. The journey down the Ohio was resumed. The regiment having made the portage at the falls, continued down the river to the mouth of the Wabash, and thence up that stream to Vincennes, experiencing many hardships and difficulties owing to the size of the boats and the difficult current of the stream. At Vincennes the regiment was joined by a force of militia and volunteers, and August 27th the entire command left the trading post and marched up the river to a point near the present town of Terre Haute, where a post called Fort Harrison was built. The Prophet,—brother of Tecumseh and leader of the Indians then causing trouble,—refused all overtures, and November 6th found the command within three miles of his village.
On the following morning, before dawn, the Indians made a furious attack upon all sides of the camp, and the desperate contest continued until daylight enabled the troops to discover their enemies; vigorous bayonet charges
then drove the Indians from the field. The coolness and discipline of the regiment undoubtedly saved the command from annihilation. Out of 300 present the regiment lost 77 in killed and wounded, including four officers, one of whom was mortally wounded by tomahawk.
Owing to want of supplies and proper accommodation for the large number of wounded, the little army returned to Fort Harrison, (where Captain Snelling's company was left as a garrison) and thence to Vincennes for the winter.
In the spring Of 1812 the Indians to the north were causing much trouble and there were strong probabilities of a war with Great Britain, whose agents were identified with the Indian difficulties. General Hull, on account of his knowledge of the Indians and his former good record, had been given command of all the forces in the Northwest, and the regiment was accordingly ordered to join other troops under his immediate command.
In obedience to these orders the regiment walked from Vincennes to Cincinnati and thence to Urbana, arriving at the latter place July 3d, the day before the receipt of the declaration of war against England. General Hull's command arrived at Detroit on July 6th, after a most arduous and trying march through the forests of Ohio. On the 12th it crossed the river for "an invasion and conquest of Upper Canada." Camp was established at Sandwich, on the Canadian side of the river, and the troops remained there for nearly a month without making hostile demonstration, although the Canadians and Indians were known to be concentrating at Malden, but thirteen miles down the river. A mutinous spirit began to manifest itself on account of this inactivity.
Governor Meigs had forwarded a considerable supply of provisions and clothing for the use of the army, and a small detachment of volunteers, sent to escort the supplies to Sandwich, was surprised and routed by a considerable force of Canadians and Indians. General Hull was prevailed upon later to send an additional force to bring the supplies into camp, and the Fourth Infantry, under the command of the youthful and gallant Lieutenant-Colonel James Miller, was reluctantly ordered upon the duty. Colonel Miller, before starting, briefly harangued his troops, saying: "And now, if there is any man in the ranks of this detachment who fears to meet the enemy, let him fall out and stay behind." None fell out. About 4 o'clock P. M., August 9th, the command reached the vicinity of Maguago, fourteen miles below Detroit. The advance guard, under the command of Captain Snelling, suddenly received from ambush a fierce volley from a mixed force of British, Canadians and Indians, under command of Major Muir of the English army and Tecumseh, the Indian chief. Snelling held his ground with what remained of his little force until the main body formed for the attack. The line moved forward with fixed bayonets and, although receiving a terrific fire from behind breastworks of fallen trees, charged the British and Canadians. Before they had time to reload, the first work was carried and the white men broke and fled, closely pursued by the American troops; the enemy was unable to form behind his second line of breastworks, and, completely routed, made the best of his way to the river and crossed to the other side. The Indians, thus deserted by their white allies, soon broke and
fled in their turn, disappearing in the forest. Colonel Miller determined to march at once on Malden, but at sundown he was met with a peremptory order from General Hull to return to Detroit. The loss to the Fourth Infantry was 58 killed and wounded.
On August 16, 1812, one week from the battle of Maguago, and with troops flushed and enthused with the success of that battle, General Hull basely surrendered his entire command, without a show of resistance, to less than its own numbers of British, Canadians and Indians. As one of the results of this base surrender, the regiment lost a beautiful stand of colors, presented to it by the ladies of Boston when it was stationed in the Eastern States.
The court-martial which tried General Hull found him guilty of "cowardice and neglect of duty," and sentenced him "to be shot dead and to have his name stricken from the rolls of the army." Clemency was recommended, and the President, mitigating the sentence, ordered that "the rolls of the army are no longer to be debased by having upon them the name of Brigadier-General Hull."
After the surrender the officers and men of the regiment were taken as prisoners of war to Montreal, Canada, suffering great hardships on the way from excessive ill-treatment and the want of even the plainest food. Arriving at Montreal on the evening of September 27, 1812, the regiment was met by crowds of people who had collected, as they said, "to have a peep at General Hull's exterminating Yankees." A band of music joined the escort and struck up the much admired ditty, "Yankee Doodle," in which it was joined by all the men who could whistle the tune. When they ceased to play, "Yankee Doodle" was loudly called for by the regiment. At last, mortified at their conduct, the band began "Rule Britannia," which was cheered by the multitude, but the men continued their favorite song, some singing and others whistling, till the barracks were reached.
From Montreal the regiment was sent to Quebec, and the men confined on board transports in the river. Many men died during their imprisonment from the ill-usage they had received. Finally the regiment was exchanged and sent from Quebec on October 29th on an old schooner bound for Boston. On the Gulf of St. Lawrence a furious storm was encountered, and the old schooner became the prey of the waves for several days. Land was finally made at Shelburne, on the east side of the Bay of Fundy. On the voyage thus far no less than fifteen men died and were buried at sea. Two more died at Shelburne, and before Boston was reached, on November 28th, thirty in all had been thrown overboard. Upon arriving in Boston General Boyd, the former colonel of the regiment, did everything in his power to make the men who had served under him at Tippecanoe comfortable.
Early in 1813 recruiting for the regiment began. The recruits were collected and the regiment assembled and organized, under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Darrington, at Greenbush, opposite Albany, New York. During the continuance of the war, the regiment served in the district including northern New York and Vermont. Such of the companies as had been organized participated in the battle of Chateaugay River. Lower
Canada, on October 26, 1813. In the following year detachments were present at the battles of La Cole Mill and at the siege of Plattsburg.
Upon the reduction of the army in 1815 many regiments were consolidated to give a smaller number of regimental organizations, and the Fourth Infantry was, with five other regiments, consolidated to form the Fifth Infantry. In the same way three regiments, the Twelfth, Fourteenth and Twentieth, were consolidated and called the Fourth Infantry. The official army register has for many years announced other regiments as forming the Fourth Infantry, but careful investigation shows that the Army Register is partially in error in this respect.
The War Department has ruled that by these consolidations, the distinguished services of the regiment prior to May 15, 1815, are to be credited to the Fifth Infantry, and that the Fourth Infantry, in a similar way, inherited the records of the regiments consolidated into its organization. The names Fort Niagara, Fort George, Beaver Dams, Chrystler's Fields, Chippeway and Cook's Mill are therefore borne upon the regimental colors, although in none of these battles did the regiment or any portion of it participate.
After the reorganization of the regiment it was ordered South, owing to difficulties with the Creek and Seminole Indians in Florida and Alabama. For several years its history was one of continual marching and countermarching, building cantonments and opening military roads through the wilderness, the policy of the general government then being that the Infantry arm of the service should build its own barracks and open roads through the Indian country.
In the spring of 1817 the regiment marched from South Carolina and Georgia to Alabama, and proceeded thence to Florida to operate under the command of Major-General Jackson, against the Spanish forces in Pensacola harbor.
It would be tedious and uninteresting to detail the many changes of station that occurred in the southern country during the distressing Seminole wars. Troops were changing and moving about continually, and when not moving were occupied in building quarters for their protection.
In 1831, the regimental headquarters were at Baton Rouge, La., and there seemed to be an intention to withdraw the regiment from its intermittent service in Florida.
The Black Hawk War began in 1832 and two companies were sent up the Mississippi to reinforce General Atkinson's command at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Wis. From Fort Crawford these companies returned to Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, Ill., and while at the latter place the cholera made its appearance among the troops. General Scott's characteristic order on the subject is still preserved among the records of the regiment, an extract from it reading as follows: "that every soldier or ranger who shall be found drunk or sensibly intoxicated, after the publication of this order, be compelled as soon as his strength will permit, to dig a grave at a suitable burying place, large enough for his own reception, as such graves cannot fail soon to be wanted, for the drunken man himself or some drunken companion. This order is given as well to serve as a punishment for drunk-
enness, as to spare good and temperate men the labor of digging graves for their worthless companions."
Desertion from the army, as in more recent times, was not infrequent. Two years in the Leavenworth Military Prison, learning some useful trade, contrasts peculiarly with the following, not an isolated case: "The Court found him guilty as Charged and Sentences him to be tied to a stack of arms and to receive ten lashes for Five Successive Mornings with a Cat o' Nine Tails on his bare Back in presence of the command, to have his head and Eye Brows Shaved, to forfeit all pay and travelling expenses and to be Drumd out of Service."
The regiment made several changes of station to and from Florida, and finally returned to take part in the Seminole War of 1836. Rarely, if ever, have troops been called upon for service under such trying circumstances as in this war. The region in which the troops were compelled to operate consisted of swamps, overflowed thickets, and dense tropical forests of unknown extent. Poisonous insects and serpents under foot and an atmosphere reeking with fevers and disease overhead. The enemy to be subdued was cunning and active as he was cruel and treacherous. For days at a time the troops waded in the swamps or patrolled the streams in search of an enemy who only showed himself when in sufficient numbers to massacre isolated detachments. Treachery and deceit resulted from every conference with the Indians. The war was only temporarily brought to a close by the questionable seizure of Osceola under a flag of truce.
In all this war, which lasted about seven years and cost the Government hundreds of lives and millions of treasure, the Fourth Infantry bore an honorable part. It participated in nearly all of the engagements and lost severely in killed ' and wounded, and, what in that region was worse, in missing, the totals for the regiment being: Officers killed in action or died of disease, 6; men killed in action or died of disease, 128. December 20, 1835, Captain and Brevet Major Dade volunteered to command a detachment, consisting of two companies of artillery and eleven of the men of his own company, that had been ordered to proceed from Fort Brooke to Fort King, the Seminole agency. When about 55 miles on its way the detachment was attacked by a large force of Indians in ambush. The fight lasted from eight o'clock in the morning until the middle of the afternoon, December 28th. Three privates only escaped, and, though badly wounded, made their way back to Fort Brooke with the news of the massacre. On February 22, 1836, General Gaines, with a force including seven companies of the Fourth Infantry, arrived on the battle ground and buried the remains of Major Dade and his command.
General Scott's campaign which followed was not decisive and the next year there were great preparations for a campaign under General Thomas G. Jesup, Quartermaster General of the Army. Troops and supplies were gathered, and marching and countermarching began. The Fourth Infantry most of the time operated as an independent command. The movements during the winter resulted in bringing in the king, Micanopy, with a considerable number of his warriors. Campaigning then for a time ceased.
In 1837 there was "marching up and down, to and fro, hither and yon," and very little accomplished. On Christmas Day, however, one of the severest engagements in the war took place on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, Colonel Zachary Taylor, First Infantry, commanding. The six companies of the Fourth Infantry engaged lost an aggregate of 22 killed and wounded.
In May, 1838, the regiment was en route to the Cherokee Nation in Tennessee, in connection with the removal of the Cherokee Indians by General Scott. Then followed several years of peace, marked principally by severe labor and sickness incident to building roads, through a region so unhealthy that civilians could not be engaged to perform the work. In 1841 the fourth return to Florida took place, and a portion of the regiment took part in the final campaign of the Seminole War. But little skirmishing and few casualties from fighting occurred. The clothing and food supplies of the Indians were captured, and finally the chief, Halleck Tustenuggee, was, taken prisoner by an artifice justified only by necessity. Soon after his capture the last of the warrior bands was removed from Florida.
In September, 1842, the regiment was ordered to take station at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., where it remained until the proposed annexation of Texas, in 1844, led to rumblings of war with Mexico. As a part of the "Army of Observation" the regiment was moved to Grand Ecore, La., where it remained until July, 1845, being moved thence to Corpus Christi, Texas, as a part of the "Army of Occupation." The first act of war on the part of Mexico was the murder, on April 10th, of Colonel Cross, assistant quartermaster-general, a few miles from camp, by a roving party of banditti. Lieutenant Porter, Fourth Infantry, with a small party, was sent out to search for the body of Colonel Cross, and on the return of the party it was ambuscaded, Lieutenant Porter and one man being killed. Soon after the Government recognized a state of war existing between the United States and Mexico, and preparations were made for an invasion of the territory of the latter.
When General Taylor's army reached the Rio Grande from Corpus Christi, General Mejia issued a pronunciamento: "The water of the Rio Grande is deep, and it shall be the sepulchre of these degenerate sons of Washington." Operations did not cease on account of this proclamation. The Army of Occupation, about noon of May 8th, met and engaged the Mexican army under General Ampudia at Palo Alto.
Early on the following morning the enemy retreated, and, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, took up a position at Resaca de la Palma. The Fourth Infantry was deployed on the right of the road leading to his position, and at various points became briskly engaged, and finally, keeping as good order as the close chapparal would permit, charged and captured the camp where the headquarters of the Mexican general-in-chief were established. All his official correspondence was captured at this place, together with a large amount of ammunition, some 400 mules, saddles and every variety of army equipage.
At Monterey, the regiment consisted of but six reduced companies, four of which participated in the assault of the works in the lower part of the city
the first day of the battle. The regiment charged through a cross fire from the Black Fort and the batteries. A mistake in orders led to the charge, somebody had blundered, and about one-third of the men engaged in the charge were killed and wounded in the space of a few minutes. The regiment halted in a place of safety—what there was left of it. In a short time the advance began again and the troops reached the suburbs. A little battery covering the approaches to the lower end of the city was captured and turned upon another work of the enemy. An entrance into the east end of the city was now secured. An advance was made to within a square of the plaza, not without heavy loss, when the ammunition began to give out. Lieutenant Grant made a dashing and perilous ride back to ask that ammunition be forwarded. Before it could be collected the remnants of the two regiments, the Third and Fourth Infantry, returned. The following day the city capitulated.
Early in 1847 the regiment was ordered, as a part of the force sent from General Taylor's army, to proceed to Vera Cruz and join the army under General Scott. It arrived at Vera Cruz in March and participated in the siege of that place. By April 16th it had arrived at Plan del Rio, near Cerro Gordo, the battle of the latter place taking place on the 17th-18th. Previous to this battle General Santa Anna stated to his army: " I am resolved to go out and encounter the enemy. * * * My duty is to sacrifice myself, and I will know how to fulfil it! Perhaps the American hosts may proudly tread the imperial capital of Azteca. I will never witness such an opprobrium, for I am decided first to die fighting." The general encountered the American army at Cerro Gordo, and lost a leg in the retreat from that battle. Perhaps it may not be improper to state that it was the general's wooden leg that was lost in his hasty retreat.
After Cerro Gordo, the march into the interior was resumed and on May 14th the regiment arrived at Amasoque, 12 miles from Puebla. General Worth here ordered his command to clean up, to make a good appearance upon entering the city the next day. While the muskets were taken apart, and while the pipe-clay was drying upon the white belts, the long roll beat to arms. An immense column of Mexican cavalry was seen to be rapidly approaching. Duncan's battery was run out to meet it, and the regiment was hurried to support the battery. A few rounds of shell emptied many saddles and caused the column to diverge from the road. After the column had passed, the Fourth Infantry was posted as a picket guard several miles beyond Amasoque, in the direction of Puebla. A terrific tropical storm came up during the night and in a short time the corn field where the regiment was lying became a sea of mud. The nice uniforms, the white belts and the men who wore them were covered with Mexican mud, and probably the shabbiest looking regiment ever seen in the regular army was the Fourth Infantry when it entered Puebla on May 15, 1847. The azoteas, the windows and the streets were filled with men and women to look upon these "degenerate sons of Washington."
After Cherubusco, where the regiment pursued the fleeing Mexican troops to within a mile and a half of the City of Mexico, came an armistice of two weeks, then operations were actively resumed; Molino del Rey and
Chapultepec followed in quick successon [sic]. At Molino a storming party was organized, the regiment furnishing two officers and 100 men. The mill was carried at the point of the bayonet, but not without the loss of 11 out of the 14 officers who were in the storming party. The remnant of the detachment belonging to the Fourth Infantry joined the regiment in the final assault made in support of the storming party. A fierce and bloody hand-to-hand fight took place before the enemy was finally driven from his chosen position. The regiment lost during the day 67 in killed and wounded, including three officers. At Chapultepec, as at Molino, a storming party began the assault, to which the regiment furnished 50 men and 2 officers. Under a terrific storm of shot and shell the party reached the ditch and main wall of the great fortress, scaling ladders were brought up and amid hand-to-hand fighting a lodgment was secured, then, "long continued shouts and cheers carried dismay into the capital." Vigorous resistance was made by the enemy to the rapid pursuit after the fall of the castle; along the line of the great aqueduct and at the several garitás of the city the greatest resistance was encountered. Nothing could withstand the impetuosity of the troops, and by nightfall organized resistance ceased. A detachment of the Fourth Infantry had penetrated half a mile into the city and captured the adjutant-general of the Mexican army.
With the capture of the city active operations ceased. The remnant of the regiment remained for a time as part of the garrison of the city, removing on the gradual withdrawal of the troops to points on the Camino Real until in June, 1848, it was assembled at Jalapa for the return to the United States. Leaving Vera Cruz, the voyage home was short. Camp "Jeff Davis," Pascagoula, Miss., was reached July 23, 1848.
Thus ended the Mexican War for the Fourth Infantry, there having been but one important battle from the Rio Grande to the City of Mexico in which it did not participate.
It lost 8 officers and 59 men killed or mortally wounded; 10 officers and 140 men more or less severely wounded; 4 officers in addition lost their lives by steamboat explosions. In the language of General Grant, "the regiment lost more officers during the war than it ever had present in any one engagement," for during the greater part of the war the regiment had present but six reduced companies.
From Mississippi the regiment was ordered to proceed by sea to New York and there to take station at seven different points on the lakes, between Mackinac and Plattsburg.
Ordinary garrison duties were performed at the stations indicated until June, 1852, when the regiment was concentrated at Fort Columbus, N. Y. H., prior to a journey to the Pacific Coast. Between June 23d and July 4th, 393 recruits were received and assigned to companies. A telegraphic order on July 2d directed the regiment to embark on the Steamship Ohio, a vessel already bearing a full passenger list. In compliance with the order eight companies, with headquarters and band, sailed on July 5th from New York for Aspinwall. The Ohio was commanded by Captain Schenck, afterwards Admiral Schenck, U. S. Navy, and had all told on this voyage 1100 people on board. Aspinwall was reached on July 16th without
incident, save the extreme discomfort of an overcrowded ship. The rainy season was at that time at its height on the Isthmus, and, what was infinitely worse, the cholera was raging.
The railroad across the Isthmus was completed only to Barbacoas, on the Chagres River. The troops proceeded by rail to that point and by boat to Gorgona, the families and baggage, with one company as a guard, proceeding to Cruces, the distance from the latter point to Panama being shorter than that to be followed by the troops. The roads were almost without bottom, and the contractor had failed to provide pack trains for tents and provisions, as well as for the heavy baggage from Cruces. The main body left Gorgona on July 18th at 1 P. M., struggling along through mud and rain until dark, when it halted and men and officers lay down on the water-soaked ground for the night. Many stragglers there were, and as the vilest of liquor dens existed all along the route, the officers were kept busy in trying to prevent drunkenness and in gathering up stragglers.
The first case of cholera occurred on that first day's march. The second day was like the first, but it brought the column within eight miles of Panama, and early on the third day the men were safely on board the P. S. S. Co.'s steamer Golden Gate, Captain C. P. Patterson, U. S. N., subsequently Superintendent of Coast Survey, commander. The ladies had arrived earlier, but Brevet Captain Grant, R. Q. M., experienced the greatest difficulties in procuring the necessary transportation for the baggage and company remaining as the guard. Finally, after five days' waiting, he resolved to hire in open market, whatever the cost might be. Cholera appeared in the company acting as guard, men dying in six hours from the first symptom. Eight died before the company reached Panama. The disease appeared in an aggravated form among the troops on the Golden Gate. An old hulk was improvised as a hospital and the sick transferred to it. On Tuesday, the 27th, the disease began to subside. Upon the arrival of a small steamer in the evening of that day a dozen knapsacks, that had been left lying and moulding on the Isthmus, were received on board, and the men to whom they belonged seized and opened them to get a change of clothing. Some of these men were taken sick in the act; all were several hours thereafter taken violently with the cholera, and with only a few exceptions died. It was now determined to land all the troops, and accordingly both the well and sick were put ashore on Flamingo Island, the sick being in huts and the well in a few tents and shelters made from sails. The Golden Gate sailed on August 4th, but would only take 450 well people. One company (Auger's), the sick, and most of the women and children were left behind to be forwarded on the next steamer. The Chagres fever became epidemic on board the Golden Gate so that when the command arrived at Benicia, on August 17th, it was almost decimated. August 8th the Steamer Northerner took on board all but four men of Augur's company, who were left in the hospital, and sailed for San Francisco. The company arrived at Benicia August 26th. The total deaths from cholera, fever and allied diseases, from the time the regiment arrived on the Isthmus up to a few weeks after the arrival at Benicia, amounted to one officer and 106 enlisted men.
The two companies—A (Lieutenant D. A. Russell) and I (Haller's)—that had been left in New York, sailed November 18th on a naval vessel for San Francisco, via Cape Horn. After touching at Montevideo and Robinson Crusoe Island for fresh fruits and vegetables to avoid scurvy, the companies arrived at San Francisco June 7, 1853, seven months from the date of sailing.
After its arrival on the Pacific Coast the regiment was rapidly dispersed to many and widely distant stations, the headquarters going to Columbia Barracks, afterward Fort Vancouver, and now Vancouver Barracks, in September, 1852, where they with short absences remained until 1861. The following posts—Forts Vancouver, Reading, Humboldt, Dalles, Steilacoom, Jones, Boise, Lane, Yamhill, Orford, Townshend, Hoskins, Walla Walla, Crook, Terwaw, Cascade, Simcoe, Gaston, Chehalis, Yuma and Mojave,—extending from British Columbia on the north to Mexico on the south,—were all garrisoned, and the majority of them built, by companies of the Fourth Infantry, in the interval between 1852 and 1861. Three only of these posts are now occupied by United States troops; the others are abandoned.
Besides the numerous changes which the occupancy of so many posts necessitated, Indian campaigns were not infrequent. The most important campaign was that in Eastern Washington and Oregon in 1855-56 against Indians from many tribes under the able leadership of Chief Kamiarkin, a name now as unknown as the names Spotted Tail, Joseph and Geronimo will be a generation hence.
The vigorous campaign of Colonel Wright, and the summary punishments meted out by the military to all Indian offenders, brought about a peace that has remained unbroken by the greater part of the Indians in the Pacific Northwest to the present day. Humanitarian temporizing and treaty making had little to do with the opening and settlement of the vast region between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast. The only power that an Indian recognizes—uncompromising and unyielding force—was brought home to those of this region in such a way that it is not forgotten to this day, and the result has not been a detriment of the Indians.
In 1859, the movements of troops under the special and unusual instructions of General Harney, the Department commander, gave rise to the San Juan imbroglio. Three companies of the regiment were sent to San Juan Island to reinforce Captain Pickett's command and to secure exclusive jurisdiction over the island by force if necessary. There were five British men-of-war, carrying 167 guns and manned by 2140 sailors and marines, in the harbor. So great a preponderance of force in favor of the British, considered in connection with Captain Pickett's most positive assertions concerning his position, no doubt determined the British commander to await the coming of General Scott and the investigation he was ordered to make, as well as to wait for positive information from England upon the matter at issue. After General Scott's arrival, the question at issue, in this early forerunner of the Civil War, so far as the military were concerned, was speedily determined, and the companies of the Fourth Infantry were quietly withdrawn. During the stay of the troops the most pleasant relations ex-
isted between the officers of the English fleet and the American officers on shore.
In the interval from 1852 to 1861 the Fourth Infantry contained as many distinguished and prominent officers as were ever associated together in one regiment. "The regiment was a home and all were proud of it." There is no need to comment on such names as Buchanan, Augur, Alden, Bliss, Grant, Sheridan, Judah, R. N. Scott, Hunt, Hodges, Wallen, D. A. Russell, Prince, Alvord, Kautz, Macfeeley, Crook and many others.
All were tried in the balance and not found wanting in the patriotism, wisdom and valor reposed in them. The names of many Fourth Infantry officers are indelibly woven in the web of our country's history, and so long as valor, honor and patriotism exist in our land, they will be among the names men most delight to honor.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the regiment was stationed at ten different posts on the Pacific slope from Puget Sound to the Gulf of California. Remote as these stations were from the stirring events occurring in the east they were not without grave consideration of the results likely to follow the secession of the States. Many of the officers were of southern birth or family connection and as the clouds darkened all recognized that the time had come when each must determine for himself the path of duty and honor. It anything was wanting to emphasize the necessity for decision it was the order concentrating most of the companies at Camp Sumner, San Francisco, and the subsequent departure of the regiment for service in the east.
Of those officers on duty with the regiment or of recent service with it, five of junior rank resigned. They subsequently entered the Confederate service but none achieved distinction. The remainder of the officers, although some were of close southern affiliations and consequently under a considerable measure of suspicion, served faithfully and well, true to the flag and true to the regiment. If any served more honorably or more faithfully than the officers of the Fourth Infantry, all honor to them.
To a greater extent than other regiments, the Fourth Infantry suffered from the large number of officers detached for service with the Volunteers or duty in the staff departments. The enlisted strength also, due to the large bounties offered and the somewhat more agreeable service in the Volunteers, soon became reduced by the ordinary attrition of the service. It was only partially renewed at irregular intervals, and from the ten strong companies that crossed the Long Bridge on March 10, 1862, but five companies with 173 enlisted men were present at Gettysburg the next year.
The limits of this paper preclude more than the briefest chronicle of the service of the regiment during the Civil War. The history of the Regular brigade of the Army of the Potomac is the history of the Fourth Infantry, except for a brief time in 1864 when the regiment was attached to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps.
From the trenches before Yorktown to Camp Lovell near Gaines' Mill, thence upon a reconnoissance to find Stonewall Jackson's corps and through the Seven Days' battle which followed his discovery. In the movement across the Chickahominy the regiment was the last to cross the already
partly destroyed "Grapevine Bridge." At Savage Station the train conveying the regimental records, baggage and supplies, was burned to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy; and for nearly a week, officers and men had to eat and shelter themselves what they could forage. Arriving at Malvern the regiment was placed in the line of battle and sustained its position throughout the day and night. From Harrison's Landing to Acquia Creek, thence to Warrenton and through the second Bull Run battle and retreat to Arlington Heights. Then to Antietam, through the battle and return to Falmouth; then the Fredericksburg battle; followed later by the famous "Mud March" and return to Falmouth. This in turn was followed by the Chancellorsville campaign, where a hasty cup of coffee after severe duty on the skirmish line was interrupted by the 11th Corps in its hasty and unorganized retreat; then a return again to Falmouth and, after a brief time, on the march which terminated July 2d at Gettysburg. The remnant of the regiment participated in the battle about Round Top and shared in the losses of 50 officers and 920 men killed and wounded in the brigade having only 2500 men at the opening of the battle. After Gettysburg the retreating enemy was followed until, July 17th, the regiment reached Fayetteville, Va.; from thence it returned to the Rappahannock and Alexandria, thence to be ordered August 15th to New York to assist in suppressing the Draft Riots. A pleasant camp of three weeks in Washington Square was appreciated; as also the subsequent station at Forts Tompkins and Wood until April 25, 1864. Then ordered to the front, the regiment joined the 9th Corps near Alexandria and participated in the battle of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Tolopotomy Creek and their connecting skirmishes. In one of these latter when a skirmish line was falling back, the brigade commander gave the command, "Rally on the Fourth Infantry," a command not strictly according to the drill book but it answered its purpose. June 22, 1864, the regiment, now numbering but 134 men for duty, was ordered to City Point as guard to General Grant's headquarters. This duty it performed until the surrender of Appomatox. Then followed a tour of provost duty in Richmond and, July 15, 1865, a return to New York harbor. While stationed here a detachment with a number of officers was sent to West Point conveying the colors of the regiment, including some that had been carried in the Mexican War. The Corps of Cadets was paraded and joined the escort of the tattered and shot ripped flags to the Post Chapel where they were finally deposited.
From the harbor stations the regiment was ordered to occupy the Lake posts from Plattsburg to Detroit. In 1866 several companies participated in suppressing the Fenian Raid, capturing several car loads of warlike munitions. From the Lakes in March, 1867, the regiment was ordered for service on the plains in the Department of the Platte. Then followed a period of long marches, building of posts and cantonments, furnishing guards for constructing the Pacific railroad, and minor Indian troubles. The consolidation with the 30th Infantry came in 1869 with the companies widely separated at remote stations.
In 1871 orders directed the regiment to stations in Kentucky and the next year a change to Arkansas. A year and a half of civilization was fol-
lowed by a return to frontier service in the Department of the Platte. Most of the posts from Omaha to Old Camp Brown were occupied at intervals until 1886. Every variety of service including the larger Indian campaigns of 1876 and 1879 was interspersed between the not always quiet and secure duties of garrison life.
In July, 1886, the regiment after 17 years service in the Platte valley, was ordered to Idaho and Washington where it has since remained occupying Fort Sherman, Fort Spokane and Boise Barracks.
Thus ends the chronicle. Let him who may point to more honorable and distinguished service faithfully performed.
Return to Table of Contents