Tag Archives: John Haley

Going Home: “ragged and dust laden” they marched into Richmond

When Robert E. Lee affixed his signature to the Appomattox Court House surrender document on April 9, 1865, he effectively flipped the Civil War switch to “off.” The shooting suddenly stopped, except in specific regions of the Deep South and Trans-Mississippi where Confederate and Union troops would not learn about the surrender for days. Gunfire […]

Appomattox Road: “We had all loved Abraham Lincoln so much” — assassination

  Victorious Union troops saw elation shift to melancholy on the Ides of April 1865. The mood shift began with growling stomachs. After stacking their arms and receiving their paroles on Wednesday, April 12, Confederate troops had “rapidly departed to their homes,” commented Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of the 20th Maine Infantry. By Thursday “there was […]

Appomattox Road: “We at once charged him with lying” — disbelief on April 9, 1865

  John Haley, the scrappy private from Saco, disbelieved the news that “an inveterate newsmonger” delivered to the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment around 10:30 a.m., Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865. Heading ever westward, Haley and his Co. I comrades had tramped, tramped, tramped their weary way west across southern Virginia the previous day. Up and […]

Appomattox Road: “We will fight our way back to the regiment!” — Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Five Forks

  Withdrawn from its White Oak Road earthworks after dark on Friday, March 31, 1865, the weary soldiers of the 5th Corps “about-faced” and went after Five Forks on April Fool’s Day … … and, in a master stroke attributable to sloppy reconnaissance, emerged onto the road leading to Appomattox Court House. Saturday’s clear, cold, […]

Appomattox Road: The solemn-faced nincompoop soon returned

  Winter 1865 found John Haley of Saco serving with the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment in the Union lines southwest of Petersburg. He and his Co. I comrades alternated their duty between the monotony and military regimen of camp life and dangerous duty at picket posts much nearer Confederate lines. “A new year dawns, the […]

Spotsylvania Part VII: The dying groaned beneath the dead

As some 20,000 Union troops charged out of the fog and burst into the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania Court House, Va. on May 12, 1864, Confederate resistance collapsed beneath the onslaught. Union soldiers swept up 3,000 prisoners, including the cane-wielding Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson and Brig. Gen. George Steuart, who led a mixed North […]

Spotsylvania Part VI: A rooster’s crow unleashed the slaughter

Wandering amidst hell on earth after sunrise on Friday, May 13, 1864, Pvt. John Haley and other survivors of the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment gazed upon “more dead than we had ever seen,” he later told his journal. Raised in summer 1862, the 17th Maine belonged that spring to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, part […]

A dwindling color guard protected the 17th Maine’s flags

Protecting the flags of the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment took guts at Gettysburg. Commanded by Lt. Col. Charles Benjamin Merrill, the 17th Maine belonged to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps — the same corps that Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles deployed to its evisceration west of Cemetery Ridge on Thursday, July 2, 1863. He […]