Headquarters Second Mass. Infantry,
Washington, D. C, July 12, 1865.
General Orders, No. 26.
To The Officers And Men Of The Second Massachusetts InFantry :—
The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding takes this, his last, opportunity to tender to you his congratulations, that, after more than four years of hard service, you are enabled again to go to your homes, and resume your peaceful avocations.
A brief review of your history in this regiment cannot fail now to interest you.
At the very outbreak of the late rebellion, the Second Massachusetts Infantry was organized. Its first year of service was not an eventful one, and it became famous only for its good discipline and appearance.
In the campaign of 1862 it had a more distinguished part to act. On the night of May 24, your regiment, by its steadiness and bravery, beat back greatly superior forces of the enemy, and saved Banks' little army from total destruction. All of honor that can be associated with the disastrous retreat of the next day certainly belongs to you. Next came Cedar Mountain; there, with the same determined bravery, this regiment faced and fought three times its numbers ; and, in twenty minutes, lost more than one-third of its enlisted men, and more than one-half its officers. Antietam, Chancellorsville, Beverly Ford, Gettysburg, and the great campaigns of the West, with their numerous battles and skirmishes, followed in quick succession; and the war ended, leaving with you a most brilliant and satisfactory record, — a record of courage, gallantry, and tenacity in battle, of unflinching steadiness in defeat, of good discipline in camp, and of respect and prompt obedience to all superiors; this is the record which you can take to your homes, and it is known and acknowledged throughout the length and breadth of your State.
The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding does most sincerely congratulate you who are now left in this command, on having passed safely through this great struggle, which has terminated so gloriously. He feels sure that no one of you will ever regret your part in this war. As long as you live, and whatever your future in life may be, you will think of your soldier's career with the greatest pride and satisfaction; its hardships and sufferings, its dangers and glories, have made you all nobler, better, and more self-reliant men.
It will not be with pleasure alone, that you recall the events of the past four years. With sadness you will bring to mind the appearance of this regiment as it marched out of Camp Andrew, July 8, 1861; and will think how many of the noblest and best officers and men then comprising it now fill soldiers' graves. You will cherish the memories of these gallant men; and though you lament their loss, you will remember that they died in battle, bravely doing their duty, fighting for their country and right; and you will thank God, when you look about you, and see peace restored to this entire country, that the sacrifice of their lives has not been in vain.
The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding thanks you for your adherance to your duties, and your fidelity to him, since he has had the honor to command you. He assures you, that, in taking leave of this old organization, he feels more pain than pleasure; he has been with it since its first existence, has shared its dangers, privations, and glories; and now that it has devolved upon him to write these words of farewell he does so with unfeigned regret.
In conclusion, he hopes that the lessons taught by this war will exert a beneficial influence on your future lives, and that you may become good citizens and worthy members of society.
C. F. MORSE,
Lieut.-Col., Commanding Second Mass. Infantry.
SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 221-2