Saturday, July 17, 2010

Paul Joseph Revere

Major 20th Mass. Vols. (Infantry), July I, 1861 ; Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Inspector-General U. S. Vols., September 4, 1862 ; Colonel 20th Mass. Vols., April 14, 1863 ; died at Westminster, Md., July 4, 1863, of a wound received at Gettysburg, July 2.

PAUL JOSEPH REVERE was born in Boston, September 10, 1832, the son of Joseph W. and Mary (Robbins) Revere. His paternal grandfather was Paul Revere, of Revolutionary fame, and his maternal grandfather was Judge Edward Hutchinson Robbins of Milton. He was educated in the schools in Boston, with occasional periods of country life at school, making friends in every place, and forming warm attachments for life with many of his associates. An intimate friend writes: —

"When a boy, in that truest of all republics, the playground, his companions instinctively recognized in him a leader. There that keen sense of justice which seemed to be part and parcel of him was so conspicuous, that he was the well-known umpire in the boyish disputes of his companions, and we fondly recall the often-used expression, 'I’ll leave it to Paul.'"

In the winter of 1849 he entered Harvard University in the second term of the Freshman year, and he graduated with that class in 1852. While a Sophomore, he passed six months in the family of Rev. William Parsons Lunt, D. D., and there secured the regard of that intelligent and cultivated gentleman, with whose family Revere became connected after Dr. Lunt's death.

He left college without any taste for professional life; and in view of the necessity of following a calling, he decided on mercantile pursuits. In the summer of 1853 he went to Moosehead Lake on a hunting expedition, and travelled with an Indian guide to the source of the Saco River. He went several times to the Adirondacks, for his strong taste for active life was mingled with great love of nature and the spirit of adventure.

In 1854, at the wish of his father, he went to Lake Superior to inform himself in regard to the copper region. He had passed a month in pursuing this object, when all his mental and physical powers were taxed by an accident of no ordinary peril. He had crossed Lake Superior with two gentlemen interested in mines; and on their return, upon arriving at the lake, they found that there was a high wind, and the lake was like a disturbed sea. They were to take two boatmen to manage the boat during several hours' sail. Revere said, " This is against my judgment; let us wait." They said, "You have no experience here; we will go, and you may do as you like." Deciding to go, he took off his boots and his thick clothes, apprehending danger.

After rounding a point, the boat capsized, and all were thrown out. One of the gentlemen, Mr. Kershon, was asleep in the bottom of the boat, and was lost, as was one of the boatmen. The other, Dr. Pratt, was urged by Revere to cling with him to the bottom of the boat; but thinking that he could swim to the shore, made the attempt, and sank almost immediately. Revere diving after him, brought him to the surface, but found him dead. The others, after clinging several hours to the boat, reached the shore. Rohiscault, the old boatman, repeatedly gave up hope, and was only compelled by authority to maintain his hold; he says he owes his life to the persuasions of Mr. Revere, and relates that he held one end of the canoe, while Mr. Revere grasped the other, and, throwing himself on his back, guided the frail bark with rapid and undeviating course to land, and finally dragged his companion, half unconscious, on the beach. Revere, then discovering his overcoat still attached to the boat, took from the pocket his flask of brandy, and, having administered it, rolled the boatman on the warm sand until he was recovered sufficiently to show the way to a logger's hut.

The following year he undertook the care of an extensive wharf in Boston, and there exerted himself for the benefit of laborers and exposed women and children, until the neighboring police continually came to him as a friend to aid and protect the unfortunate about him.

In 1859 he married Lucretia Watson Lunt, daughter of Rev. W. P. Lunt, D. D., who, with two children, survives him. He had made a home near his aged father, thinking his comfort the highest duty; but the country's call was still higher, and that father's patriotic spirit aided him to engage in the cause. To the representations of a near and dear friend, who placed before him some family objections to a separation from home, he replied, "I have weighed it all, and there is something higher still. The institutions of this country — indeed free institutions throughout the world — hang on this moment."

To his mother he said, "I shall feel humbled to stay at home." The reply was, "Do as you think right."

With these convictions of personal and public duty, soon after the insurgent attack on Fort Sumter he offered his military services to the Chief Magistrate and Commander-in-chief of Massachusetts; and immediately entered as a pupil in the Military Club of Monsieur Salignac in Boston. On the 1st of July, 1861, Revere was commissioned Major of the Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers (Infantry), and soon after joined his regiment, then in camp at Readville. His devotion to his new duties was consistent with the high moral principle which had made him a soldier of the Republic. The regiment to which he was attached had in it elements which required strong and judicious government; the personal material which constituted its nucleus having been principally drawn from a disbanded and mutinous organization, and being thus demoralized. To bring these men to military subordination required the exercise of high moral power, and a strong will, which fortunately was found in Major Revere and most of his brother officers. Their efforts to establish and maintain order and good discipline were rewarded with success, the fruits of which were exhibited in the annals of the regiment from Ball's Bluff to the surrender of the insurgent army under General Lee.

Early in September the regiment was ordered to Washington, and from thence, after a few days' halt, to Poolesville, Maryland, where it reported to Brigadier-General C. P. Stone, in command of the corps of observation. Until October 20th the regiment was in the performance of picket and outpost duty, along the Potomac River, Major Revere taking his proper share of the service. On Sunday, October 20th, a battalion of the regiment was ordered to the river-bank, from which, during the night of that day, it crossed to Harrison's Island. This was preliminary to the battle of Ball's Bluff. On the morning of the 21st, at an early hour, two companies were sent into Virginia as the covering force of a reconnoitring party which had preceded them. Major Revere, who had accompanied the battalion from camp in Maryland, was left on the island in command of the force held there in reserve, and rendered a most important service in dragging round, from its east side to that opposite the Virginia bank, a scow, which added materially to the means of transportation, and was of great value in subsequent operations.

Colonel Baker, having been ordered to the command of the troops which had crossed into Virginia, and the supporting force which lay on the island and the adjacent Maryland shore, had, on assuming command, ordered the reserve of the Twentieth Regiment, among other troops, to reinforce the battalions in Virginia. Accordingly, about noon, Major Revere crossed the river. The battle of Ball's Bluff followed. The aggregate Union force present during the battle — not including the Nineteenth Massachusetts Infantry, which remained on the island and was not engaged — was, exclusive of officers, sixteen hundred and three men. Major Revere bore an honorable part in this bloody and disastrous conflict, earning a high character for cool and disciplined courage. He was slightly wounded in the leg, while endeavoring to run into the river two mountain-howitzers which had become disabled, the cannoneers having been all killed or wounded; and he was among the last to leave the field when it was irretrievably lost. The means of transportation were very limited, and escape by the boats, in the rush and confusion which prevailed, appeared very uncertain. He therefore, with some brother officers and a few men, among them his brother, Surgeon Revere, passed up the river to seek other means of crossing to the Maryland side. A boat was found and secured, but coming under the observation of the enemy, the fugitives were compelled to abandon it, and pursue their way up the river. After it became dark, an attempt was made to construct a raft of fence-rails, but the rails were water-soaked, and the raft would not float. Revere was a practised [sic] swimmer, and could easily have reached the opposite bank; he, however, with that generous self-sacrifice which entered so largely into his character, refused to leave his commander, who was somewhat advanced in years and unskilled in swimming. About half past eight at night, a scouting party of the enemy's cavalry discovered the fugitives, who had no alternative but to surrender.

The prisoners were taken to Leesburg, where the Rebel commander received them and tendered them a parole, which was declined, its terms being ambiguous. On the following morning, at two o'clock, the column of prisoners, five hundred and twenty-nine men, including fifteen officers, commenced its long and weary march to Richmond. It rained in torrents, the mud was ankle deep, and the men had been long without food; while one small wagon, without cover or seats, was the only transportation provided for the sick and wounded.

Major Revere had said nothing about his wound, and now marched on uncomplainingly, refusing to take his turn in the wagon. It was six, P. M., when the column reached the stone house historically connected with the Bull Run battle-field, — its halting-place for the night . A ration of half-cooked corn bread and bacon was here served at ten, P. M. The next morning early the column was again in motion, and at ten o'clock arrived at Manassas, where it rested till six, P. M., when the prisoners were transferred to the cars for Richmond. While at Manassas, the officers were confined in a barn, closely guarded; they had many visitors of both sexes, some of whom indulged in remarks and reflections little in keeping with their claims of chivalrous breeding. A scanty ration was furnished in the afternoon to the now almost famished prisoners, who were also drenched to the skin by the heavy rain of the previous day, so that their condition was miserable indeed. But the demeanor of Major Revere, under these trials of temper and body, was most dignified and patient; he expressed to the officer of the guard a hope that the men would be properly cared for, but asked nothing for himself.

On the morning of the 24th the train arrived in Richmond ; and the prisoners, amid the jeers, taunts, and sometimes threats of a dense crowd, were marched to the tobacco warehouse assigned as their prison. The kind hospitality of fellow-prisoners, whom they found there, supplied their immediate wants; but days elapsed before they were established in any reasonable degree of comfort. Two ladies, true to their womanly instincts, — one of them, Miss E. A. Van Lew, moved also by her loyal attachment to the Union, — sought out and relieved the new-comers. Mrs. Randolph, wife of the Confederate General Randolph, and Miss Van Lew, were the ministering angels of this unlooked-for and grateful kindness, which is here recorded as a tribute to their generous and timely beneficence. Prison life in the Richmond warehouse was one of annoying discomforts: the petty tyranny of officials, — Wirz, of Andersonville notoriety, being first-sergeant of the prison guard, — the vulgar obtrusiveness of civilian visitors, and a densely crowded apartment, constituted a condition of existence which taxed its subjects almost beyond endurance. Major Revere bore these trials with manly fortitude. His deportment was dignified, but affable, in his intercourse with fellow-prisoners. The kindly traits of his disposition seemed warmed into a more lively exercise ; and while he did not join in the amusements most common in a community of such varied sympathies and habits, yet he had a cheerful word and look for all. Mindful of his religious duties, he daily sought counsel of The Father, in prayer and in the Scriptures.

We now pass to a period in the prison life at Richmond which was full of gloomy anxieties.

On the 10th of November, General I. H. Winder published an order of the insurgent Secretary of War, directing him to select hostages, to be confined in the cells allotted to persons charged with infamous crimes, to answer with their lives for the safety of the Rebel privateersmen, held by the United States government, under a charge of piracy on the high seas. In closing his order Secretary Benjamin said: —

"As these measures are intended to repress the infamous attempt now made by the enemy to commit judicial murder on prisoners of war, you will execute them strictly, as the mode best calculated to prevent the commission of so heinous a crime."

Major Revere was one of the hostages selected under this order, and he entered upon the ordeal with the equanimity of a brave soldier, who stood for his country, with its honor in his keeping. On the following Thursday, the hostages, seven in number, were transferred to Henrico County Prison, and placed in charge of its warden. The cell in which they were confined, and in which, for a considerable period of time, they were required to perform every function of life, was of most contracted dimensions, — eleven feet by seventeen in area, — faintly lighted and filthy with tormenting vermin. The situation was one almost too horrible and disgusting to contemplate. The hostages did not utter one word of complaint or remonstrance, although they felt that life could not long sustain itself in an atmosphere so foul. After a while General Winder modified this barbarous treatment, allowing a half-hour each day to prisoners for a visit to the prison yard; this half-hour being often extended into an hour by the commiserating turnkey, Thomas.

In this experience, dreadful as it was, Revere evinced the same patient manliness which had always distinguished his conduct. In a single instance only did he permit his indignation to master the habitual control which he exercised over his feelings. The circumstances of this were as follows. The prison in which the hostages were confined was surrounded by a high wall, which hid from their sight every outward object except the sky and distant house-tops. On the second Saturday of their confinement, while engaged in the simple pursuits of prison life, the hostages were suddenly startled by the sharp sound of a lash and an accompanying shriek of agony. It was "whipping-day," and the negroes were receiving their allotted lashes for violations of law and decorum. The cry of agony and the pitiful moans which followed, as blow after blow in quick succession gradually reduced the sufferer to a condition of comparative insensibility, came from a woman. Revere absolutely started to his feet, the hot blood coursing its quick way through every vein. It seemed to him a personal affront, a contrived indignity to Northern "prejudice"; he learned afterward, however, that Saturday was "whipping-day," and the court-house yard the place of punishment . A brother officer, who lay by his side, has said, that, during the night which followed the incident just described, Revere trembled with rage when alluding to it . He never forgot that "whipping-day," with its cry of agony. That moaning woman was to his heart the representative of an oppressed race. He did not turn a deaf ear to the appeal for mercy and protection.

Writing from Fortress Monroe the day of his arrival there, a paroled prisoner from Richmond, after speaking of the ill-treatment of the hostages by the Rebel government, he continues : —

"However, it does not matter much now, and they never for a moment, with all their outrages, made us forget our position as gentlemen."

It is certain that he never did forget what was due to his position as a gentleman, if manly fortitude and Christian bearing be typical of that character. A prison companion, writing to a member of his family after the fatal day of Gettysburg, spoke of his deportment, while confined as a hostage, in terms which will be understood and appreciated by all who were familiar with his characteristics : —

"In the cell of Henrico County Prison, with its horrible experiences and painful suspense, there was a moral grandeur in his conduct of which I can give no idea. All were strangers except Revere and myself. How much depended, how much of ordinary comfort even rested, upon decorum and self-respect in act and speech; how strongly yet delicately Revere restrained undue license in each!"

But Revere was reserved for future services to his country, and for a more glorious death than that of a constructive criminal. The government of the United States released the privateersmen as pirates, changing their status to that of prisoners of war; and on February 22, 1862, after four months' confinement, Major Revere returned on parole to the home from which he had been separated under such painful circumstances.

Observation and reflection, while a prisoner, had confirmed his original conviction, that the war of the Rebellion was a war for the supremacy or extermination of human slavery. He clearly saw that the institution of slavery was the salient point of the Rebellion, and that the success of the Union arms, even if it demanded "the last man and the last dollar," was an imperative duty. To a friend and brother officer who largely enjoyed his confidence, and shared with him the hardships of Richmond and accommodations of camp life, he often and earnestly spoke of this obligation, as due both to God and country. It was a conviction which had its birth in his soul.

With recruited health and strength came the desire for active service, but he was still under the military restraints of his parole, and the policy of the United States government did not seem, at that time, to encourage hope of speedy exchange. It was determined, however, to make an effort to obtain one, by personal application to Secretary Stanton. Accordingly, having selected Major McAlexander of Alabama, a prisoner of war confined at Fort Warren, and having arranged with him a plan of proceeding, Major Revere applied to the War Department at Washington for a leave of absence for Major McAlexander, permitting him to visit Richmond, on condition that he should return to Fort Warren within fifteen days, or should transmit to General Wool, commanding at Fortress Monroe, an order of the Confederate authorities, exchanging him for Revere. Secretary Stanton granted the application, expressing, however, strong doubts whether the Rebel officer or the exchange would ever be heard of again. But Major McAlexander was a gentleman of personal honor; and he successfully accomplished his mission. On May 1st Major Revere was en route to rejoin his regiment, then in the lines before Yorktown, Virginia. He reported for duty on May 2d, in season to move with the general advance of the army which followed the Rebel evacuation of Yorktown.

On May 7th he was present with his regiment at West Point, when the Rebel General W. H. C. Whiting made his unsuccessful attempt to force the position occupied by Franklin's division and Dana's brigade. The army was greatly hindered in its advance by the condition of the roads; and it was not till towards the last of May that General McClellan found himself within striking distance of Richmond, the objective point of the campaign. On the march up the Peninsula, Major Revere had greatly distinguished himself while in command of the skirmish line of a brigade, and intrusted with the duty of scouring the north bank of the Chickahominy, — thereby winning honorable mention from his corps commander, General Sumner.

The last days of May found the army massed on both sides of the Chickahominy, the communications between its wings being mostly maintained by temporary bridges, constructed by the troops. A sudden and violent rain, during the day and night of May 30th, had swollen the river to an unprecedented height, and greatly endangered the bridges. The Rebel general, acting upon the belief that the bridges would be swept away and the Union army divided, resolved to make a sudden and overwhelming attack upon Keyes's division, which lay at Fair Oaks, on the south side of the river, somewhat in advance of the supporting corps. In execution of this design, General Johnston concentrated, on the morning of May 31st, a heavy column under Hill, Longstreet, Smith, and Huger, intending to fall upon Keyes by early dawn; but the rain had proved unfriendly to his movements, as well as to those of the Union army. Smith and Huger were long behind the designated time in reaching their respective positions. At noon they had not appeared, and Hill and Longstreet moved to the attack of Keyes, without waiting for their expected diversion. The attack was sudden, vigorous, and overwhelming. Keyes was forced to retire, abandoning his camp, and losing many guns. The enemy pressed forward, encountering and overcoming a brigade of Couch's division, which sought to arrest the Rebel advance. Affairs looked very discouraging; a fresh column of the enemy was now moving against the right; and along the railroad, a heavy force, which had been held in reserve, was directing its march upon Fair Oaks.

In this critical condition of affairs, General Sumner was ordered to march rapidly to the scene of conflict; his corps lay on the opposite or north side of the Chickahominy, there being two hastily-constructed bridges for communication between the two portions of the army. The swift and swollen stream had swept away one of these bridges, that opposite the First Division; and the other, opposite the Second (Sedgwick's), was trembling and vibrating in its struggle for life. The division succeeded, however, in crossing, and pressed onward, for the unceasing cannonade in front still told of sharply-contested battle. The deep and miry morass, which formed the intervale of the river, had swamped all the artillery of the division, except five guns, beyond extrication ; and two infantry regiments — the Nineteenth Massachusetts and Forty-second New York — were detached to protect them and guard the river. As the column approached the field of battle, it was halted to load. "We are in luck to-day," said Major Revere; "we are not left in the rear to guard the river." This was not said thoughtlessly, or with levity, for no man felt more profoundly the solemnity of battle.

The division, weakened by the causes above mentioned, hastened forward, and late in the afternoon arrived upon the field near Fair Oaks. The column of the enemy which had advanced along the railroad was deployed in front of Sedgwick's division, when the latter came into line of battle. The safety of the army depended in a measure upon its ability to stem the tide of Rebel victory, to restore the lost battle. That it did so, after a sanguinary conflict, which terminated in the repulse and disorderly flight of the Rebel troops, is historical. To Major Revere the victory had an unusual charm; he had suffered, as a consequence of defeat on a previous occasion, cruel hardships, and while in Richmond as a prisoner had been often offended by the Virginia boasts of superior courage. He had now seen the backs of this vaunting chivalry, who, throwing away their arms and leaving their wounded behind, sought safety in flight. During the night, these wounded, who lay in great numbers on the field, in the vicinity of the position occupied by the division, (for the charge which broke the Rebel line and completed the victory had carried it forward some distance,) were carefully collected, and made as comfortable as circumstances permitted. Officers and men cheerfully surrendered overcoats and blankets to protect the poor sufferers from the cold night-air, and water-carriers were detailed to supply the ever-craving cry of "Water! water!"

Major Revere was most active in this work of mercy. The maimed and dying men, whose moans and cries so painfully rose upon the ear, were no longer public enemies, they were his suffering fellow-creatures. Many times during the night he visited that long line of recumbent wounded, to be sure that no faint cry for water should be uttered unheard or unheeded; and at earliest dawn he personally went in search of a surgeon, — for the medical officers of the Twentieth had been left in the rear to care for their own wounded.

The enemy having drawn heavy reinforcements from Richmond during the night, sought, on the morning of June 1st, to retrieve their fortunes in renewed attack; but failing to penetrate the Union line, after a fierce and long struggle, they returned discomfited to their defensive works. The month of June was passed in the usual manner, of an investing army, watching and waiting for the moment of assault. Major Revere shared with his regiment during this period the arduous labors of an advanced line, — being half the time within range of the enemy's sharpshooters, who inflicted some loss on the regiment.

On June 25th, the Rebel general moved in force against the Union right, which he succeeded in turning. A result of his success was to cut off McClellan's base of supplies at the White House, forcing him to fall back on James River. On the 29th, at an early hour, the Second Corps, which, with the Third and a division of the Sixth, constituted the rear-guard in this memorable movement, silently marched out of their intrenched camp at or near Fair Oaks. Major Revere had been detached during the night of the 27th, in command of a small battalion of the Twentieth, on special duty connected with the Ordnance Department, and was absent from his regiment when the retrograde movement of the Second Corps commenced. Sedgwick's division was halted, and fronted the enemy in line of battle at Peach Orchard, a mile or more from Fair Oaks, where it had a sharp skirmish, checking the Rebel advance.

Again in the afternoon at Savage Station, where Major Revere rejoined his regiment, the division was sent into action to arrest the enemy's advance, which had now become serious and threatening. It was late in the evening before the regiments were withdrawn from the ground they had held against the Rebel troops. About nine, P. M., the Second Corps entered upon its march through White-Oak Swamp. The night was dark and wet, and the narrow road, lighted only by the glare of a few lanterns, was most dismal and gloomy ; but the morale of the troops was wonderfully good. Encouraged by the example and voice of their officers, the men trudged along cheerfully and steadily, preserving excellent order and discipline.

Early in the morning of June 30th the column debouched from the swamp on the high ground which borders its southern side, and halted to get a few hours of repose. Major Revere, during this severe and trying night-march, exhibited the true and solid qualities of a soldier. His admonitions to "close up," and his cheerful words of encouragement, were judiciously bestowed from time to time, avoiding the unprofitable annoyance of what the men significantly call worrying.

The troops, after two or three hours of such rest as could be obtained in wet clothes on the wet ground, without shelter, were summoned to continue their march. An hour or two brought them to Nelson's farm, where they were halted to cover the Quaker road, the main line of communication with James River. Franklin's division had been left at White-Oak Swamp to protect the rear, and about noon had become engaged with the enemy. Two brigades, Dana's and Gorman's of Sedgwick's division, were hastily marched to Franklin's support, but upon a fierce and successful attack of the enemy made in the afternoon upon McCall's division of Pennsylvania Reserves, which occupied the position of Glendale, in front of the Quaker road, were sent back at double-quick to aid in recovering the position. It was an oppressively hot day, and the leading brigade, Dana's, was immediately hurried into action on its arrival from the swamp, for the exigency was most imminent. The men were panting with exhaustion; many of them had fallen out of the ranks, some senseless from sunstroke, and the regiments coming up separately went forward into the copse of wood known as Glendale, without much concert of movement. Major Revere exerted himself actively as an extemporized staff officer to remedy the last-named difficulty, and by his personal efforts partially succeeded in bringing the regiments as a united brigade in front of the enemy. Reinforcements were soon sent forward, and the ground was held by the Union troops; the loss in killed and wounded, however, had been very heavy. Major Revere, in the course of the operations in and around Glendale, had his horse killed under him, and was thrown violently to the ground, fortunately without injury. It will be undoubtedly in accordance with the general opinion of his brother officers to award to him, for his conduct on this occasion, a high degree of honor.

With night came the order to march again; and the morning of July 1st found the army occupying Malvern Hill, to make its last stand against the now desperate foe. The conflict was long and obstinate, but in the end successful, and the Army of the Potomac on the next day made its way unmolested to the new base of operations on James River. The new position of the army was not free from causes of anxiety; the enemy clustered around it on both sides of the river, keeping up a constant and annoying fire of artillery, and the poisonous malaria of the bottom-land began to develop its debilitating influence upon the health of the troops. The robust constitution of Revere seemed for a time proof against this insidious enemy, but about the middle of July disease began to manifest itself in painful neuralgic affections; he did not, however, report himself sick until the early part of August, when, being utterly prostrated and unfit for duty, he was compelled to seek restored health in the more salubrious air of his Northern home.

With the last days of August came the discouraging intelligence of Pope's disastrous campaign in front of Washington ; and Revere, scarcely recovered from sickness, hastened to his post of duty. He had, during his absence from the army, been appointed Inspector-General of the Second Corps, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and now reported at the headquarters of General Sumner in his new position. The Maryland campaign followed within the next two weeks, terminating with the battle of Antietam and the consequent retreat of the insurgent army into Virginia.

Lieutenant-Colonel Revere was wounded at Antietam, while endeavoring to rally and re-form some broken and flying regiments; but he nevertheless kept the field, aiding materially in bringing up and guiding into action the rear divisions of the corps. His wound forced him again to seek the repose and care of home, leaving, without knowing it, his brother dead on the field. There he remained till the following spring, a confirmed and suffering invalid.

In the mean time General Sumner had died, and as a consequence Lieutenant-Colonel Revere was mustered out of the service as Inspector-General of the Second Corps. He was now appointed Colonel of his old regiment, the Twentieth Massachusetts, and in May, 1863, reported at Falmouth, Virginia, on the north bank of the Rappahannock, as commander of the regiment. In June following, Lee led his army down the Valley of the Shenandoah, to repeat his exploit of the previous year, — an invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Army of the Potomac therefore broke camp, and moved north also, keeping the Blue Ridge between it and the enemy. Lee, by rapid marches, had reached the Upper Potomac, and crossed that river into Maryland, almost before General Hooker had penetrated his design, or felt safe to uncover the gaps, through which the Rebel troops could advance upon Washington. As soon as all doubts on this point were removed by the appearance of Lee's main army in Maryland, the Union columns were pressed rapidly forward. The Twentieth Massachusetts crossed the river near the old field of Ball's Bluff, its first battle experience. By June 30th the whole army was in Maryland, moving upon Lee, who had a week before occupied Hagerstown in force, with his advanced parties in front of York in Pennsylvania, threatening both Baltimore and Philadelphia. Major-General George G. Meade had only within a day or two relieved General Hooker, in the command of the army, and on July 1st had not arrived at the front. At this time the advanced corps (First and Eleventh) of the Union army were in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and while on the march were attacked and driven back, through that town, to a strong position on its south side, where they waited for the main body of the army to come up. During the night General Meade arrived at the front, and before morning, on July 2d, the whole army was once more in the presence of its old foe, the Army of Northern Virginia. Preparations for battle were at once made. Quietly and quickly the artillery and infantry took up their assigned positions; the men lying down in that solemn silence which precedes expected battle. Colonel Revere was here again, and for the last time, to renew his covenant with Union and Freedom. The offering of his life was to consummate the sacrifice.

The day of July 2d was passing away. The artillery on both sides had unceasingly hurled a destructive fire of solid shell and canister shot into opposing ranks, and the intermitting, rattling fire of musketry, which ever and anon reached the ear from the right, told rather of watchful observation than general battle. On the left, however, Sickles, who held a somewhat advanced position, had been fiercely attacked by Longstreet and forced to fall back more within supporting distance of the main line, after sustaining a heavy loss. But the Union army made no aggressive movement; for it was the design of General Meade to act defensively, to receive an attack from the Rebel commander in the strong position occupied by his troops.

About six, P. M., a canister shot burst a short distance above Colonel Revere, a bullet from which struck him, penetrating the vital parts, and inflicting a mortal injury, of which he died on the 4th of July following. He lived long enough to know that the Union arms were triumphant, that the enemy, after obstinate and vain efforts to force Meade's lines, had been repulsed.

In contemplating the character of Colonel Revere, we are at once and strongly impressed with the harmony of its moral proportions. The religious sentiment was marked and prominent; he habitually referred every question of personal conduct to the tribunal of conscience, able to abide the decision with unwavering trust. He believed that conscience was the light of God. Deliberate in his method of reasoning, and gifted with unusual powers of discernment, his conclusions did not suffer in comparison with the lessons of experience. A resolute will, too, enforced his convictions of duty against all obstacles of self-interest. What he thought to be right, he did. With all the sterner and rigid attributes of human nature, so necessary to overcome the rough places in the path of life, his heart was a deep and ever-welling spring of warm affection. Distress never called to him in vain for needed relief. Amid the din of battle he would kneel by a dying comrade to receive his whispered and choking accents of parting love to dear ones at home.

The remains of Colonel Revere were removed to Massachusetts and interred at Mount Auburn, amidst the verdant beauties of that Nature whose loveliness he never failed, even amid the stern scenes of war, to notice and enjoy.

SOURCE: Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Harvard Memorial Biographies, Vol. I, p. 204-20

No comments: