from The Worcester Aegis and Gazette, June 12, 1886 , (Volume 85 # 74), 


                                           Washington and Its Nearer Battlefields

                                                               Home Again

                                                   A Collision On the Sound

[Correspondence of the Gazette]

Leesburg , Va. , June 6, 1886 -The 15th Regiment battlefield excursionists were at Washington yesterday.  The greatest part of the day was occupied in seeing the city.  Almost all visited the Capital and were fortunate in seeing the Congress of the Nation in session.  Senator Hoar and Congressman Rice were very kind in their attention; also Congressman Whiting of Holyoke whose district includes many of the towns in the north part of the county, and ex-Governor Long. Many had not seen the capitol building since the war, and such a change!  It is a place of great distances from one extreme to another.  It is located on Capital Hill 890 feet above the Potomac in a park of over 51 acres.  The building is 751 by 324 feet and covers three and one half acres.  The Dome-----feet in diameter.  The distance to the top of the lantern on top of the Dome is 288 feet, while above there is the statue of Freedom 20 feet high.  The cost of the building up to the present time is $15,000,000.  This does not include the marble terrace which is being built on the north, west and south sides, neither does it include the statues about the grounds.

 An interesting point was the Navy Yard, and it was visited by many.  At the dock was the U. S. Ship Albatros, which is being renovated.  This ship is used in sounding for the purpose of making a chart of the bottom of the sea, also for dredging the bottom and getting for the United States Fish Commission for scientific purpose the products of the sea.  They had but few specimens on board, the most of their findings being at the Smithsonian Institution; They are very curious as well as interesting.  At one of the shops in the Navy Yard many stopped to look at the making of steel guns, the first of the kind in this country.  There were two eight inch and one ten inch gun in the lathes.  The ten inch gun when completed will weigh 55,000 pounds and be about 25 feet long.  They start with the steel in the rough, and from it comes the polished barrel.  The putting of it together is called “assembling” and is very interesting.

 The steel tubes for the foundation are first made, they are oil temperd; then pieces or “jackets” as they are called when ready to be put together are put in a fire made of pine wood and heated sufficiently to expand to about three one-hundreths larger than the outside diameter of the tube on which it is placed; adjust the right time it is slipped on and clamped and is first cooled at the point nearest the muzzle by means of a gentle stream of water. As it cools it clasps the tube welding itself there.

 Another point of much interest was the Washington Obelisk or National Monument, the loftiest human construction in the world.  It was open to the excursionists, their badge being a pass to the top, which was so far heavenward for many to desire to climb without something more than human aid.  Of course all wanted to look at the White House or Executive Mansion , as it is called in Washington .  Then there was the several department buildings, the Washington Barracks, Botanical Garden, the Government Printing office, the Corcoran Art Gallery , and many other points.  But far too soon to see all, came the time for the advance on Virginia .

 The impressions respecting Washington of today is that it is one of the cleanest of clean cities, that no pain has been spared to make it pleasant and attractive.  Then the marked contrast since we were there during the war..  The we noticed the swine wallowing in the mud in the streets about the Capital as well as on Pennsylvania Avenue , now we see smooth concrete road beds. then the increase of massive and costly buildings is very noticeable.  We left Washington for Leesburg from the station where President Garfield was shot, and passed out of the district of Columbia via  Long Bridge, which many of us had crossed in full as cheerful spirits 22 to 25 years ago, but how changed all is since then.  Many of us saw the place where we first had a taste of war, and an experience with Virginia mud.  Upon our arrival here the people were but as one man to receive us.    On every hand was a cordial Southern welcome, and every moment since they have been evidently trying to make our stay as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.  Until the midnight hour they were around the Reamer House, our headquarters, and the air has been constantly filled with army songs and plantation melodies.  Of course the battle was the great subject of talk and comment.  Many relics of Union men were shown us.  It was the privilege of the writer to see a picture found on the battlefield, which was evidently of a man, his wife and child.  This was in a case made by his father in the city of Worcester in the fifties.  It is hoped too, before we leave, that we shall find who it is a picture of.  The writer also had a talk with a lieutenant of Moseby’s Cavalry, who captured the train in which he was on his way to Fredericksburg after he was wounded.

 Today we have been to the battlefield and again crossed and recrossed the Potomac, and climbed the steep and rugged Bluff, and this too, with the people of Virginia, for they were as much interested as we were today, with a plan for a battle, a brink as hard to climb as much of the borders of  Mt. Wachusett at home, and with nothing but water at our feet.  At the place where the first stand of the 15th was made, is the National Cemetery, 53 unknown and one known grave, that of James Allen of Northbridge and of Co. H, 15th Regiment.  All their graves were today decorated by the ladies of the party, under the direction of the wife of their much beloved Colonel Ward.  Others of the party went to Poolesville and Conrad’s Ferry.  During our stay here we have met many that we--- of and some that we met during the war.  One member of the party is stopping with the man who was placed as guard over him after he was captured at the battle; then they met as enemies, now as friends.

 Home, June 8.-We left Leesburg yesterday morning at 6;30 o’clock, on the start for Washington , where the grand rounds of the veterans? and their guests ended.  It was a novel sight as the visitors to the number of about 80 gathered around the little station.  The people of the town were there and all had a kind word at parting.  It was very interesting to see the colored men, many of them boys who came into the camp of the 15th in 1861, and remained as servants.  We left Leesburg loaded down with---- of war.  nearly every man had one of the canes he cut the day before on----  some of us had other relics, such as swords, canteens and, one man, a Confederate----, in one instance the gun which is---- Heart of the Commonwealth, was----as one carried by the 15th, and from-----it is hoped that the man who carried it can be ascertained.

 On return trip a card of thanks to the  ---- was prepared and signed by every one there? and then presented to the committee Chair?  Mr. A. J. Bartholomew.  It was as follows, “Members? and guests of the 15th Regiment party hereby extend to the committee arranged for same, and especially to Capt. David M. Earle and General John W. Kimball, who have in person attended and directed it, their most cordial congratulations for the success that has attended it, and their sincere thanks  for their uniform courtesy and personal attention to all details of the wants of members of the party.  We assure them we have appreciated all this, and that we feel that the excursion has been both interesting and instructive to all, and afforded much pleasure from beginning to end.”

 At Washington came the general breaking up. Some took the train just starting for home, some are to remain at Washington until today, while others have gone back to visit the battlegrounds from the Wilderness down to Petersburg and Richmond .  The trip has been a delightful one from first to last, and one that will long be remembered.  Said an official of Leesburg to the writer: “This place has never been visited by  so many Northern men before, except in 1861.  Then we saw you in one light, today you come here with your wives and children, you greet us with a cordial grip of the hand and a pleasant kind word.  Your visit will be of untold benefit to this town and we hope it will be of great good to you.”

Those of the party who came directly home arrived in Worcester this morning.  On the trip from New York on the steamer City of New York they had a state of excitement which will be remembered for many a day.  We were in the East River , and had just passed the Navy Yard, when we noticed a lighter of about 50 tons ahead.  The lighter had  just tacked and was passing on the left of the course the City of New York was taking.  The Captain of the New York at once slowed down and bore of to his right, when for some unknown cause the lighter made another turn or tack, caused, it appeared to us, not used to the water, by the man on the lighter deserting the helm.  As a result the lighter swung about and its bow came around just in time to be struck by the bow of the New York

In the meantime the engines of the New York had been reversed, and all that was possible to be done , has been done to prevent the collision.  The lighter was cut half in two, filled with water and was settling when the three men took to the single mast.  They had ascended but a few feet when it careened over and the men went into the water and for an instant out of sight.  They soon were seen on the mast which lay on the water.  The captain ordered the lifeboat lowered and soon the men were put ashore and after the New York had been carefully examined a second start for New London was made.

 The man at the helm of the lighter was evidently frightened, as his boat made a course like an inverted S directly in front of us.  An old sea captain who has been afloat for 25 years said that the captain of the New York could not have done any different; that he did all he could to prevent the accident, and that the lighter would have been all right if it had kept on the course it took after passing the stem (stern) of the steamer ahead.



15th Massachusetts VI