During early March 1865, the 6th New York Heavy Artillery — my ancestor Pvt. Arthur Bull’s regiment — formed part of the defenses of Bermuda Hundred, Va.
Battles raged further south as Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman — having completed their march to the sea — advanced north through the Carolinas toward Richmond, Va., to meet up with the Union Army of the Potomac.
In Washington, D.C., on 4 March, President Abraham Lincoln was sworn in for his second term — delivering a second inaugural address calling for post-war reconciliation, “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Yet the lines where my great, great grandfather Arthur was stationed, about halfway between Richmond and Petersburg, Va., remained relatively quiet — and Union soldiers on duty with him were hopeful.
“Should Sherman be successful, I am confident the war will soon be at an end,” wrote my ancestor’s fellow artillerist Pvt. Orson L. Reynolds in a 1 March letter to his wife.
Then, on 26 March he wrote that “a movement is anticipated soon should the weather continue favorable.”
However, my great, great grandfather would not be part of that 6th NYHA movement — for in mid-March, his health flagging, he was transferred back to hospital.
According to a 27 Jan. 1884 report in Arthur’s pension file from the U.S. War Dept., Surgeon General’s Office, Record and Pension Division:
Priv. Arthur T. Bull, Col. L, 6′ N.Y.H.A was admitted to G.H. Fort Monroe, Va. March 15, ’65 with functional disease of the heart…
My ancestor had been troubled by heart and lung complaints since he “gave out” on the march during the spring 1864 Overland Campaign.
Then, he was sent away from the front to De Camp Hospital in New Rochelle, Westchester Co, N.Y., for treatment during the summer — rejoining his 6th NYHA regiment in the fall for the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
This time — after being in and out of hospital in January 1865 — Arthur was sufficiently ill to again be removed from duty and transferred on 15 March to a hospital away from the front lines.
My great, great grandfather would remain in the 1,800-bed Union Army General Hospital at Fort Monroe — for treatment of what now sounds like a chronic heart condition — until being returned to duty on 2 May 1865.
More on this in future posts.
© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.