|from The |
| The Fifteenth Regiment
Camp near Harrison’s Landing, Va.,
July 21, 1862
A few days ago we sent to the Spy a statement, concerning the number of officers on duty in our regiment. To this statement was appended the name of every company or line officer on duty, ten in all, at that time we had only one field officer, the lieutenant colonel, on duty, the colonel not having recovered from his wound and the major being on his back with fever contracted after the battle of Fair Oaks. The next day appeared an editorial finding much fault with our statement, and beginning with this sentence ”We printed , yesterday morning , a document signed by sundry line officers ect.,”---apparently intended to convey the impression that a part only, and not all of the officers had signed.
Then again in your article a great deal of stress is laid on the continued efforts of the different paroled officers and of Captain Bowman in particular to effect their exchange. The note sent you does not in word or spirit convey the idea that we thought that they had not used every effort possible to be set free. On the contrary we know they had done everything in their power, and it was because their most strenuous efforts has failed that the communication had been sent to the Spy
If today there sere any signs of an exchange more apparent than those which have deceived them for the last four months, no one of us would have thought of printing the document. After the repeated assurances of the officials in Washington that an exchange was to take place each succeeding week or fortnight, it seemed to us that the officers in question would have made up their minds that the government either lacked the power or else lacked the disposition to effect an exchange.
Perhaps, Mr. Editor, you have some private source of information regarding this matter, that are not known to us here; but judging of the future by the experience of the past, we can see no clearer indication that there will be an exchange of prisoners within the next two months than those which have continually disappointed us during the last half year. nor do we think there is any particular reason to infer that the paroled officers of the 15th will be exchanged before some of those still remaining in the confederate prisons.
But if they were exchanged to-morrow what will the regiment gain? One of them, Capt. Bowman, who was so anxious to join his regiment, is already spoken of, and so far as our information from Worcester county---gained partly from the columns of the Spy---goes, is already regarded as the major of the 34th regiment. So that probably as soon as he is set free he will receive his commission in that regiment. Will not his resignation then , although it is for a higher position, be just as “disastrous” to the 15th as now.(? )
We think the regiment would suffer less to have the benefit of an officer on duty than merely to have his name borne on a roster of the regiment for a month or two longer. Are the others in a different relation? You also speak of them as among the best officers in the regiment, and allude to the officers who signed the document ---as lieutenants, and two or three captains, all of them
“their inferiors in rank, or the juniors in office of several of the paroled officers.” We grant that when they left the regiment they were among he best officers in it, but the officers here but with one exception, seen all the service that they saw during the three months prior to the battle of Ball’s Bluff, and have had more real military experience since the first day of March than the paroled officers can dream of. We have had a campaign in the field with all the hardships appertaining thereto, and have been present in battles compared with which Ball’s Bluff was a mere skirmish. There are four captains instead of two or three, and it is certainly not the fault of the lieutenants that they are obliged to command their companies.
You say, too, Mr. Editor, that we “too hastily conclude there is no prospect of this (their return.)” If waiting five months for their exchange, and doing work from which we ought at some time to be relieved, is being to hasty, then we admit we have erred.
You say, too, that their resignations would be disastrous to the regiment, and “unsatisfactory to their official superiors.” The regiment has survived their absence for nine months, and its efficiency has not yet been questioned. Whatever may be your means of judging, we know that their superiors here with the regiment heartily concur in the spirit of the former article and approve this; and that they would not consider it a misfortune to the regiment in its present reduced condition to have their places filled by officers who can perform the duties.
As to it being necessary to fill their places with “new and untried” men, a regiment which has been in service for a year, with the varied experience of ours, has material within itself for all vacancies, without depending on the outside world. But there is no way that acting officers can be appointed unless there are actual vacancies, and it is a fact proved by experience that the non commissioned officers in the volunteer service, when in command, never receive the same respect nor enforce the same discipline as do commissioned officers.
We regret that the paper has reached so great a length. it was not our intention to enter into a newspaper controversy, but there were a few points in your article that conveyed to the casual reader such erroneous ideas that we cannot forbear asking you to print this explanation, lest we might be thought to have misrepresented the state of affairs in the regiment.
H. p. Jorgensen, lieut. commanding Co. A.
C. S. Simonds, captain, commanding Co. B
Walter Gale, commanding, Co. C.
J. M. Studley, captain, commanding, Co. D
Albert Brisser [Prince] 2d lieut. commanding Co. E.
Lyman H, Ellingwood, 1st lieut. com’g Co. F.
Thomas J. Spurr, 1st lieut. com’g Co.G.
Amos Bartlett, 1st lieut. commanding, Co H.
George C. Joslin, commanding, Co. I.
Leonard Wood, captain, commanding Co. K.
Headquarters 15th Reg. Mass. Vols.
We desire to state that we fully endorse the communications of the 4th inst., from the line officers of this regiment, and sent to the Spy for publication; and will add, that the roster bears the names of twenty seven officers.
Of that number only ten are on duty in the line, one to each company, and some of them are transferred from their own commands to other companies, where all the officers are absent. One is present, off duty, and sick; two are acting on the colonel’s staff, and the other fourteen are absent from various causes. thus ten officers are performing the duty of thirty.
J. W.. Kimball Lieut. Col. commanding
Chase. Philbrick, Major.