"The killed & wounded Rebels in front of our Regmt, lay pretty thick, they all fell into our hands"[Battle of Gettysburg]. Union Sergeant Major Hoadly George Hosford Civil War Archive, consisting of diary transcriptions from 1862 recording the Second Battle of Bull Run; an 1863 leather-bound pocket diary with riveting entries on the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg; an 1864 leather-bound diary with entries regarding the Overland Campaign (particularly the Battle of Cold Harbor) and the Battle of Globe Tavern; letters; tintypes; cartes de visite; brass buttons from Hosford's Zouave military uniform; a G.A.R. membership badge; military manuals; and more. Hosford's diary entries are particularly fascinating because of the large number of significant battles in which he and his regiment, the 44th New York Infantry Regiment, participated. This collection is organized and has been well cared for; expect the usual wear and stains.
Hoadly Hosford (1841-1903), a twenty-two-year-old farmer from Ashland, New York, enlisted at Albany, New York, on September 17, 1861, as a corporal in the 44th New York Infantry Regiment, Company "I". The regiment, part of the Army of the Potomac, was also known as Ellsworth's Regiment, after Elmer Ellsworth, the first officer to die in the Civil War. Hosford was a sharpshooter in the regiment, which wore zouave uniforms. He transferred into the 146th New York Infantry regiment, Co. "G" on October 10, 1864, as a 2nd lieutenant and was discharged on July 16, 1865.
Hosford's daily entries from March 1862 through December 1864 are particularly noteworthy because of the number of engagements in which Hosford fought. He also recorded almost exclusively military details, including troop movements, activities, and battles. Only occasionally did he not make an entry on a date. His daily diary entries from 1862 are his transcriptions on bifolium sheets (8" x 12.25") from his original 1862 diary, possibly transcribed during the war. These transcriptions consist of twenty pages, the first headed with "Sheet No. 1. / H. G. Hosford / Diary / Commensing / March 9th 1862, when the 44th left Hall's Hill, Va." The entries begin March 9 and end on December 17 of 1862, recorded as the Union army moved northwest into the Virginia Peninsula to begin the Peninsula Campaign, which lasted from March through July 1862. Hosford records troops movements, his participation in battles and skirmishes, and being under frequent Confederate artillery fire. In his entry dated April 21, Hosford records the Union army's use of aeronauts and their tethered observation balloon, which General McClellan used to observe Confederate locations: "Little Mac is watching every movement of the Rebels closely. I suppose they would like to get our balloon." On May 12, he notes that "most of our fun consists in hearing the darkies tell about the Rebels; they get it off in such a queer way."
Throughout 1862, his regiment was often near the front. During the Second Battle of Bull Run, Hosford records on August 29 that he was wounded: "We left the Junction this morning, joined our Regt and marched some four miles when we come across the Rebels, formed line of battle, lay under fire of their guns about one hour, when they were silenced by our batteries. Afterwards they took leave. [August 30] We are having some fun with the Rebs this morning on the Bull Run battle ground. Our brigade is in front. The batteries are shelling over us. 4 o'clock. We charged, got badly cut up. I am wounded." Hosford was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia to recover (his wounds were to his side). Within a month he had returned to his regiment. In early November, Hosford laments, as did many other Union soldiers, that General McClellan had been replaced: "We don't like the removal of Little Mack and we mourn the loss of our leader."
In the 1863 diary, Hosford details his participation in the battles of Chancellorsville (April 30 to May 6) and Gettysburg (Juy 1-3). At Chancellorsville, the Union lost to General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, mostly because of Lee's risky decision to divide his army. Hosford's regiment had to march hard to get to the battle, but once they arrived, they fought gallantly: "We started out at an early hour. Marched about 15 miles, crossed the Rappahannock river about 10 a.m. crossed the - Rappahannock in the afternoon and chased the Rebs off at a great rote" (April 29); "We did not march far today. Found the enemy in force to day. . . ." (April 30); "We left our positions about 4 am. fell back about 1 mile and built rifle pits, and we now defy the rebels to come and fight us. The fighting has been on the right of the line today and has been very hard. We hope to whip the enemies of our country this time" (May 2); "We were awoke at 3 this morning and went up on the right of the line, formed line of battle and built rifle pits, and we are now prepared to fight the Rebs any time they see fit to attack us. The battle raged for five hours. This . . . [illegible] without any cessation we intend to carry out our intentions, to defeat the Rebels" (May 3); "We were busy strengthening our works. There has not been much fighting on the right of the line today. We are now in the vacinity of Chancellorsville, I have been very fortunate since the battle has been going on, we have had 8 wounded in our Regt." (May 4); "The boys have been very busy cleaning the sacred soil of Va. [Virginia] off their pants and shoes and we expect to be looking good as ever in a day or two. The roads are in very bad condition as we have had a very heavy rain storm" (May 6). After several days of fighting, the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Joseph Hooker, recognized that they had been defeated and withdrew back across the Rappahannock River.
Only weeks later, General George Meade, who had replaced General Hooker, involved the Army of the Potomac in the Battle of Gettysburg, which is considered the turning point in the war and produced the most casualties of all Civil War battles. Hosford and the 44th Regiment were stationed on the left of the Union line, defending Little Round Top, where they suffered very heavy losses-112 killed, wounded, and missing. Hosford records the following entries about his participation, beginning on June 29 as his regiment marched toward the quiet Pennsylvania town: "We were on the march at 7 a.m. Passed through Frederick city about 10 a.m. it is a very fine place. We passed through Mt. Pleasant and Liberty. We encamped for the night near Liberty. We marched 18 miles today. I am very tiard" (June 29); "We went on the march at 4 a.m. Passed through the following places. Johnstown, Middletown, Uniontown, Fritzelburgh, and Union Mills. We are encamped at the last place quite a body of Rebel Cavelry, left this place at 11 a.m. today. We marched 22 miles today and are very tiard" (June 30); "We left Union Mills at 11 a.m. Our Cavalry engaged quite a force of Rebs at Hanover (Pa) and drove them from the place. Our column arived at that place about 3 p.m. We halted and got our supper. About dark we went on in the direction of Gettysburg" (July 1); "We marched 9 miles from Hanover last night. This morning we started for the front. Took our position at 3 p.m. at which there the battle opened. The Rebs advancing The carnage was dreadful. The battle raged untill dark, we held the field, The loss in our Regt is 112 killed and wounded. I did not get injured at all" (July 2); "Our company went on picket last night, the killed & wounded Rebels in front of our Regmt, lay pretty thick, they all fell into our hands. We fought this morning unitll about 9 a.m. when we were relieved and fell back, We built rifle pits in our front after we fell back. There is not much fighting going on today" (July 3); "We have lain in the pits all day. Not much fighting going on. We have driven the Rebels at every point and now hold the field, nearly all nearly all their killed and some of their wounded fell into our hands. We think the Rebs have left" (July 4); "Received orders this morning to advance. We went about one mile. found no Rebels to oppose us. we shortly got orders to march and accordingly started, We marched till about 1 at night when we encamped. it is very muddy and bad marching, I am very tiard" (July 5). For the next three weeks, the army half-heartedly pursued the fleeing Confederate army, at times lining up for battle while the enemy was nowhere near.
In the 1864 diary, Hosford records his participation in the Overland Campaign, which pitted U. S. Grant against Robert E. Lee. During that campaign, which lasted through May and June, Hosford noted building many breastworks and participating in hard marches and heavy fighting: "marched about one mile formed line of battle. . . . The skirmishers opened a brisk fire the Rebs falling back" (May 22). During the thirteen-day battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12), the only battle that General U. S. Grant regretted, Hosford writes that "we . . . established our line in a pine woods and throwed up heavy breast works. The Rebels moved upon us in two Lines of battle, we opened fire on them and after an hour or to fighting we fell back with considerable loss. We lost in our Regt. 5 men wounded and 1 killed" (June 1); " left our earthworks about 4 P.M. fell back against the swamp the Rebels came down on us in a short time after and we had a heavy battle with them which lasted untill dark we held our ground. . . . I think the Rebels have lost heavily" (June 2); "We have lain in our trenches all day with out being shelled but an occasional bullet would fly over our heads reminding us that the Rebels were still in our front, very heavy fireing has been going on today" (June 5). Hosford recorded more of his regiment's movements and skirmishes with the enemy, which continued for the next few weeks. Although the Army of the Potomac suffered severe losses, they were victorious.
On August 17, 1864, Hosford noted that he had "joined the 1st Div. Sharpshooters to day and was appointed Sergt. Major of the Battalion." The next day, he notes the beginning of the Battle of Globe Tavern: "[our regiment] moved on the Jerusalem Plank road in the direction of the Weldon railroad. Took possession of the road. . . . At about 3 P.M. we were attacked by a large force of Rebels both parties losing heavily." On the final day of the battle, August 21, "The Rebels made an attack on the 1st Div 5th Corps of which I am a member and were repulsed with heavy loss in killed wounded and prisoners. About 500 were taken in this engagement with three or four Battle flags. I think we have won quite a victory to day. Our Sharp Shooters were out popping at the Johnnies to day." On September 30, the young soldier and his regiment "broke camp on the Weldon R.R. at a early hour and moved to the front. Attacked the Rebels about 10 a.m. and drove them from two line of works capturing 1 cannan and several prisoners."
This archive also includes the following: three cartes de visite (two featuring Hosford [both post-Civil War] and one featuring the battle-worn 44th New York regiment flag); three tintypes (two 1/9 plate featuring Hosford as a soldier in Union uniform [each is loosely placed in one half of a worn hard case] and one showing an unidentified man); one ambrotype (1/9 plate) featuring an unidentified woman; Brigadier General Joseph J. Bartlett Commendation Signed commending the "Soldierly conduct and bearing of Sergeant Hoford", dated December 3, 1864; 44th NY Infantry Regiment document signed by Colonel James Rice dated January 5, 1863, promoting Hosford to sergeant; handwritten special orders regarding sharpshooters dated November 2, 1864; Hosford's discharge document dated February 18, 1864 (he reenlisted the next day); Hosford's appointment as a sergeant in the 44th New York Infantry Volunteers Regiment, Company "I", dated February 19, 1864; Hoadley Hosford ALS dated April 22, 1865, applying to Colonel Moon[?] of the 118th U.S.C. Infantry for the vacant position of 2nd lieutenant; final discharge papers dated July 16, 1865; Edward Bennett (a fellow soldier) ALS June 13, 1886, regarding an article he had written about the 144th's participation at the Battle of Gettysburg; three post-war pension documents/letters; a letter of commendation; a G.A.R. membership badge (the ribbon exhibits many tears); eleven brass uniform buttons from Hosford's Union Zouave uniform coat and held together by string; a Manual of Arms for the Use of the Rifled Musket Adopted by the 44th Regiment N.Y.S.V. (1863, 50 pages) inscribed to Hosford from Lieutenant Johnson of the 44th on December 12, 1863 (some dampstaining and wear); Rudyard Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads (Little Leather Library edition, 93 pages); Executive Committee, Forty-Fourth New York Volunteers, Gettysburg Monument Fund imprint (October 1887, 6 pages); one tuning fork; and newspaper clippings reporting on the 44th Regiment. All items are housed in a wooden box with a hinged top door (13" x 7.5" x 3.5").
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