Dear Eagle:
The Civil War Correspondence of Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr.

Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr.

Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr.

On April 18, 1861, six days after the firing on Ft. Sumter,  the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, located in Dutchess  County, New York, issued a call for all local patriots to attend a rally that evening at City Hall. Following speeches by local politicians and militia officers, 49 men stepped forward and signed a pledge to volunteer their services to the state. The fifth man to sign the pledge was  Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr., a 22 year old clerk in his father's harness shop.

Young Bogardus, anxious to serve his country, and unwilling to await   the formation of a local regiment, enlisted as a corporal in Co. C of the famed 5th New York  Duryee Zouaves on April 25, 1861. On October 8, 1861, Bogardus wrote a letter to his hometown newspaper. This was the beginning of a regular correspondence between the articulate young soldier and the feisty Republican newspaper whose motto, Neutral In Nothing, matched its editorial content. Bogardus continued to report his experiences to the Eagle throughout the war. His detailed accounts provided hometown readers with a first-hand account of the of the war through the eyes of one of their own.

Promoted to Sergeant on October 19, 1861, he left the 5th New York on December 16 to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in Co. H of Purnell's Maryland Legion. During the Battle of Antietam, Md., Bogardus was severely wounded in the mouth and jaw by a musket ball. Returning to Purnell's Legion he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in December, 1862. Lt. Bogardus was again wounded on August 24, 1864 during the battles for the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, Va. In early 1865, Bogardus received a promotion to Captain in Co. E, 192nd New York, a regiment in which he served till August of that year, attaining the brevet rank of Major.

Following the war, Bogardus served as a Lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry until January, 1871. Reentering civilian life, he led a nomadic life, working for the railroad in Arkansas, Texas and New Mexico. Stephen H. Bogardus, Jr. died on January 1, 1907 and was buried with military honors in Santa Fe National Cemetery, New Mexico.

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Camp Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md., Oct. 8, 1861 
"we are mounting the guns daily, and we expect soon to have 64 guns mounted, all of them 42 lbs Columbiads. They will command the whole city of Baltimore and the adjacent territory."

Camp Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md., Oct. 16, 1861 
"In fact we can disperse any crowd of disputants in the city, by having some one start the cry of 'the Zouaves are coming.'"

Camp Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md.,  Oct. 27, 1861
"It was indeed consecrated ground, and I thought if those who had shed their blood in defense of their country’s flag were looking down upon us, they would bless us."

Camp Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md.,  Nov. 10, 1861
 "It was a magnificent sight to stand away from the fire to see the fiery stream through the branches of the trees, while the dark forms of the men as they seemed to flit to and fro around the blaze, appeared like spectres."

Near Newtown, Md., Nov. 16, 1861
 "As we passed Federal Hill we beheld the remainder of the regiment upon the ramparts ready to salute us, cheer upon cheer rang in the air from our party, which was answered by those left behind"

Near Oakhill, Va., Accomac Co., Nov. 21, 1861
 "the last rites are being paid to all that is left of one who was as gay and light hearted as any of us. The mournful strains of the fife and drum, playing a dirge, fall sadly upon my ear"

 9 miles from Drummondtown, Va., Nov. 22, 1861
 "A pistol presented at his head by one of our officers soon changed his mind, and he volunteered to show us another road"

Camp Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md, Dec. 8, 1861
 "We entered the city with colors flying. When we reached the Fort the whole garrison, with Major Hull at their head, issued out of the sally port to greet us"

Near Eastville, Northampton Co., Dec. 14, 1861
 "Had we known this affair in time, not one house would have remained standing to tell the passerby where the place once stood"

Camp Hamilton, Va., Dec. 31, 1861
 "What recollections crowd my mind as I gaze upon the spot where Duryea’s Zouaves marched so gallantly last May, and think of the changes that took place so soon after on the memorable 10th of June when 8 of their number laid down their lives"

Eastville, Northampton Co., Va., Jan. 15, 1862
 "One thing however is missed very, very much - that is good female society, for we have nothing here to take the place of the fair and frail sex."

Camp Bay View, Townfield, Va., Feb. 10, 1862
 "Were I an author, what a romance could I weave out of that log of wood with its luring companion. But I am no writer - nothing but a soldier fighting for his country’s honor"

Camp Bayview, Va., Mar. 8, 1862
 "Just imagine a woman weighing three hundred pounds, with a countenance built on the same scale of liberality, and wearing No. 13 brogans, to which she made constant references, and you have her. But if her body was large so was her heart, and a better souled person I never met"

Camp Van Buren, Baltimore, Md.,May 20, 1862
 "A more wretched, squalid looking set of men I never laid eyes upon. You might search Five Points through most minutely and you could not find any to surpass these samples of the boasted chivalry of the South."

Harper’s Ferry, Va.,  June 1, 1862
 "You men sit around your firesides, and think patriotism is a fine thing, and that the approval of your own conscience is reward enough, ought to stand out under the peltings of a merciless rain, with a wary and vigilant enemy around you, night after night, and live on government rations, viz; salt pork and hard crackers, and only one meal a day"

Winchester, Va., June 8, 1862
 "What punishment should be meted out to those who have revolutionized the best and happiest government in the world, caused the best blood of America to flow like water, and make the finest places in the Union mere deserts."

Camp Goodrich, Near Strasburg, Va., June 25, 1862
 "But examine him closely; watch that eye and compressed lip with its occasional twitching, and you have a slight index to that brain which, working night and day, controls our movements."

Near Warrenton, Va., July 13, 1862
 "Who he is I do not know, but still he is a brother soldier and I think perhaps I may be the next victim. There is nothing so sublimely beautiful as a soldier’s funeral. The sweet, though mournful strains, and the sad, slow march of the soldiers, make one feel there is something in Death. "

In Camp [?]ton, Va., July 31, 1862
 "We can whip Jackson, but while we are waiting here another enemy is decimating our ranks faster than all the guerillas between here and Richmond. Disease fell, insidious disease is eating the vitals of the army and counting its victims by the thousands"

Keedysville, Md., Sept. 19, 1862
 "A live rebel soldier is a disgusting sight, but a dead one surpasses description. And that field was full of them, lying in all positions. Here, one shot through the heart; there, one with his leg torn off; and still farther on, a trunk without a head"

Bolivar Heights, Va., Nov. 9, 1862
 "I hope neither you nor my friends thought I was dead, for if so, you and they will be sadly disappointed to find I am still here" 

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Frederick City, Jan. 31, 1863
"The bandaged head, the empty sleeve, and the stump of a leg, told a tale louder than words could speak. Those who spoke flippantly of patriotism as a mere word, should have seen some of the men I have met. I have seen men, now in this army, who are hardly able to carry a gun or bestride a horse."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Frederick City, Md., Feb. 16, 1863
"After a battle, none so good as woman can be found; but must they endure all the privations and hardships simply to nurse us? Camp is not a place for woman, as my little experience teaches me."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Frederick City, Md., Mar. 7, 1863
"People stared at us as we rode through the streets as though we were visitors from the other world. And I assure you either of us would have made a good picture to illustrate the month of February. Our hair and whiskers were lumps of ice, while our faces were coated with the same article."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Camp Monocacacy, Md., June 5, 1863
"The ground is well culled over for relics, and a few bullets and pieces of shell were all I could find. My companion, however, found in the woods the lower jaw of a rebel soldier which he has in his possession."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion Md. Vols., Fort Delaware, Sept. 17,1863
"This place is very healthy, with the exception of the portion occupied by the rebels - and that is their own fault. They are filthy in the extreme, it being as much as the Provost Guard can do to keep them anyways decent in consequence of their disgusting habits, we bury from 18 to 20 every day."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Md.Vols. Fort Delaware, October 24, 1863
"Today the papers are full of rumors about Gen. Meade; but we have become so accustomed to change in the commandership of the Army of the Potomac, that we do not speculate about it."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Md. Vols.,Chapel Point, near Port Tobacco, Md.,November 27,1863
"Think of the people of this age, living in the midst of a fine agricultural country (for this is one), sending to Baltimore (two days travel) for their butter and eggs. This shows how that 'peculiar institution' of slavery develops a country. Had it been abolished years ago, this would have been one of the most promising sections of the state. "

Headquarters, Purnell Legion, Md. Vols.,Chapel Point,Md., December 18,1863
"The principal crop is tobacco, which is raised in great abundance and of good quality. The livestock raised is generally horses and negroes, the number of both determining the wealth of the inhabitants."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion Md. Vols., Chapel Point, Md., Jan. 24,1864
"We have had considerable trouble with squads of cavalry from Glasboro Point who visit this section. They are mounted patrols who are sent out to scour the country, and although under the charge of commissioned officers, think they have a license to pillage and destroy property, both public and private. I am ashamed to say that they are New York regiments; such men hurt the cause in which they are engaged by laying a foundation for the reports set in circulation by the copperheads."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion Md. Vols., Chapel Point, Md., Apr. 12,1864
"It was quite amusing to see the party on their journey; as they marched through the country they sang in concert, led by the officer who had them in charge, "John Brown’s body lies mouldering in the grave." I thought if the old man’s spirit was looking upon the scene, he must have felt that his martyrdom was useful and glorious."

Headquarters, Purnell Legion Md. Vols., Chapel Point, Md., June 6,1864
"On the 3d of this month the Regiment was put out on the skirmish line with orders to drive the rebels out of their rifle pits, which we did, capturing from 20 to 25 Johnnies, but losing in the affair eight men killed and twenty-one wounded."

Kirkwood House,Washington, D.C., January 10, 1865
"The ladies of this city are as gay and showy as ever, but I must be so ungallant to them as to say they are not as beautiful as I had a reason to expect. Like every city there are beauties and belles; but I think Main Street on a fine summer’s eve can show as fine a procession of handsome ladies."


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