Thursday, April 3, 2008

Getting to the Peninsula, Part 3

In the last installment of this series, we see the regiment safely ashore and Captain Kautz still in the hospital.

“March 31. -- … Everything is in great confusion here and there are more vessels here than there is means to land….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

Returns for the Army of the Potomac dated March 31, 1862 show the strength of the four regular cavalry regiments present for duty as 99 officers and 2,502 enlisted men. The 6th, with nearly 1,000 men, would have comprised nearly half of this number. This did not include the two companies of the 4th US Cavalry assigned as the army’s headquarters cavalry escort. Companies A and E consisted of 4 officers and 104 enlisted men present for duty under Captain McIntyre. (OR, Ser I, Vol 11, pt III, pg 53)

“April 1. – I felt much worse to-day and finally went into the hospital of the Hygeia Hotel, no longer able to get about. A portion of the regiment got ashore to-day. The balance are still in the steamers….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

The Hygeia Hotel, built in 1822, was located adjacent to Fortress Monroe on Old Point Comfort near the town of Hampton. During the campaign, most of the hotel was used as a hospital and offices for the army's Provost Marshall and Medical Director, while part of the building remained a hotel. It was ordered to be destroyed in September, 1862. A copy of the Harper's Weekly article on the order, with a very nice sketch of the hotel, is available on the Son of the South blog here. No reason is provided for the order.

“April 2. -- … The company was landed and I obtained such of my personal effects as I needed and Birgner, one of my men, to attend on me, as the attendance in the hospital is very limited. Savage and Doctor Pooley came to see me to-day….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

Kautz’ attendant was Private Louis F. Bergner of Company B. On the regimental muster rolls for the month, he’s listed as “on detached service at Fortress Monroe.” Captain Savage commanded Company H, and John Pooley was the regiment’s assistant surgeon at this time.

“April 4. -- …Gelbreath brought in my horse and the intelligence that the regiment had received orders to march at once. I am still on my back and utterly unable to travel and for the first time in my life am left behind on the march. They will be compelled to abandon quite a lot of property for want of transportation. I sent Birgner to look after what was left behind from my company.” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 114)

Kautz is referring to Corporal Joseph S. Gilbreath of Company B. The regiment moved to Ship Point, at the mouth of the Poquoson River, and established their first camp in enemy territory.