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They were added to the 2d Regiment, and thereafter were a.s.sociated with the Tigers.
During the war with England the light infantry companies rendered service at the harbor forts similar to that of the artillery. By request of the commandant of the Charlestown Navy Yard, the New England Guards were stationed at the Chelsea bridge for eleven days from June 13, 1814, in order to prevent an expected raid by a hostile landing party. The entire membership of the Fusiliers was on duty from Sept. 12 until Oct. 10, under Capt. Gerry Fairbanks (a hatter in civil life); and detachments continued doing garrison duty several weeks longer. The Tigers helped to build Ft. Strong on Jeffries Point, East Boston; similar activity characterized the other companies. Ma.s.sachusetts' crest is a sword borne by the arm of a civilian: Ma.s.sachusetts citizens in 1814 bore the sword effectively and well.
The light infantry companies partic.i.p.ated in the same parades and public festal occasions as did the artillery companies. These events are elsewhere described in sufficient detail. In the sterner task of maintaining public order the New England Guards were on duty twice--July 7, 1824, and Feb. 11, 1825,--in connection with conflagrations. In both instances personal property had been saved from the fire and temporarily deposited in a place of safety; and the troops mounted guard against pillagers. The Tigers subscribed the first $100 toward the cost of Bunker Hill monument.
From the disbandment of Maj. Messinger's battalion in 1810 until the organization of the regiment of light infantry in 1834, the companies of light infantry were a.s.sociated only in the larger unit of the 3d Brigade. While the Coast Artillery includes all the surviving units of that Brigade, and altho the 3d Brigade was the most solid and efficient part of the old militia, still it does not seem wise to treat Brigade history in particular detail. Suffice it to say that four strong companies of light infantry continued active in the infantry regiments of the brigade--the Fusiliers in the 1st Regiment, the Tigers and the New England Guards in the 2d, and the Winslow Blues in the 3d. Lists of company commanders are recorded elsewhere. A new branch of the service came into existence, the "Rifles," and were accorded precedence over others--were given the right of the line in parades. In appearance they differed from other troops, as they wore jaunty green uniforms, and carried short flint-lock rifles without bayonets. These riflemen aimed to reproduce the famous corps under Daniel Morgan and others in the Revolutionary war, the frontiersmen and rangers clad in buckskin hunting-shirts who were so terrifying to America's enemies. It has always seemed strange to the writer that the frontiersman's costume, the only distinctively American garb ever devised, should not continue in use. Not even these new riflemen, however, succeeded in remaining true to type. While they were fond of picturing themselves in the hunting-shirt, the uniforms which they actually wore followed German models. One valuable contribution the new rifles did make to militia life, they were pioneers in setting up target practice as part of the soldier's training.
Light infantry and rifles were distinguished from other infantry by the fact that they were trained in the skirmish drill, and were alone qualified to perform outpost duty. In line, they formed on the flanks of other companies. From time to time additional commands aspired to become light infantry, and some realized their aspirations. By 1834 there were eight companies altogether in the infantry regiments who felt dissatisfied with their regimental connection, and resented the waning interest which regimental neighbors displayed in things military. Their plan was to separate from the infantry, and revive the old battalion of light infantry, whose members should all be volunteers and uniformed, the battalion which had been broken up in 1810--in short, to organize a Light Infantry Regiment in the 3d Brigade. From the 1st Regiment came the Fusiliers, the Washington Lt. Infantry and the Mechanic Rifles; from the 2d the Tigers and the New England Guards; and from the 3d the Winslow Blues, the City Guards (organized Sept. 21, 1821), and the Rifle Rangers (organized 1820). In 1835 a new company was added, the Lafayette Gds.
The new regiment was organized in Aug., 1834, with eight companies, and Col. Amasa G. Smith of the 2d Regiment was elected to command. A succession of field officers, which had begun in 1806 with Major Messinger and had been interrupted from 1810 until 1834, was thereafter to be continuous. Col. Smith's commission was dated July 29, 1834; he continued in command until Feb. 23, 1838.
Judged by the standards of the day, Col. Smith's regiment was a very fine one, indeed was a "crack" command. No less an authority than President Andrew Jackson is reported to have testified, "I have never seen its equal." Most of the companies wore blue swallow-tail coats and white duck trousers--the latter quite regardless of weather; gradually blue nether garments were added for use on stormy days. The two rifle companies wore green, the Rangers having frock coats and uhlan hats; while extant engravings of the City Guards in 1844, the year of their famous march to Baltimore, show them clad in gray suits of a pattern precisely the same as those worn by the New York 7th. The City Guards were the first corps to wear gray in Boston; and the Fusiliers were equally distinguished by reason of their scarlet coats. While there was lack of regimental uniformity, there must have been a striking ensemble when the companies formed battalion line.
To the Fusiliers, in June, 1835, fell the honor of introducing an important tradition into the regiment. For at that time, after a year's preparation, they undertook an excursion to Washington, as a compliment to President Andrew Jackson, who was soon to give place to Martin Van Buren. The start was made after partaking of a collation at Gov. John Davis' house; progress was made by march, stage, steamboat and rail; they camped on Capitol Hill; and dined with Gen. Jackson at the White House. This was not exactly a trip to "the inauguration," but it proved to be the commencement of a custom which today takes the command to Washington once every four years.
In 1837 a company came into existence which was destined to prove the temporary undoing of the Light Infantry Regiment, and was also to subject Boston's spirit of fairness and right to its most searching test. The "Montgomery Guards," they were called. Altho named after the same heroic Richard Montgomery who was to give t.i.tle to another and more famous company of Montgomery Guards fifteen years later, they must not be confused with the latter body. The critical point was that the members were all of Irish birth; and Boston, for the first time in sixty years, found a company of foreign soldiery in her midst. At least that was the view of the matter taken by old-timers. The race prejudice which later issued in the Know Nothing movement, at once flamed up. On the other hand, these guardsmen had all declared their intention of becoming American citizens, and were ent.i.tled to bear arms. The guards were attached to Col. Smith's regiment. On Sept. 12, 1837, the date of the fall field-day and the first a.s.sembly of the regiment since the organization of the Montgomerys, the other nine companies took post on the regimental line,--the Montgomerys arriving last of all. No sooner had the latter swung into position than the enlisted men of the City Guards, breaking away from their officers, marched off the Common.
The enlisted men of the Fusiliers, the Blues, the Mechanics, the Washingtons and the Lafayettes followed this example of insubordination and broke ranks. It was sheer mutiny--mutiny with which many of the public sympathized, but mutiny nevertheless.
[Ill.u.s.tration: THE GRAY UNIFORM--THE CITY GUARDS AT BALTIMORE, 1844]
Courts martial resulted, followed by prolonged public discussion.
Presently it became evident that the Boston sense of fairness and right was strong enough even to meet this test; and on Feb. 23, 1838, the offending companies were punished by disbandment. Col. Smith went out of office at this time. The Montgomery Guards were themselves disbanded April 6, 1838. As a consequence the Regiment was reduced to a battalion and placed under the command of Maj. Charles C. Paine. The Tigers, the New England Guards, and the Rifle Rangers alone survived the disbandment.
June 1, 1839, found the organization a regiment once more, made up of the following companies: Tigers, New England Guards, Pulaski Guards, who now transferred from the 3d Reg., 3d Bri. (and who seem to have been temporarily called Mechanic Greys in 1849), Columbian Greys, Hanc.o.c.k Light Infantry, Rifle Rangers, Highland Guards and Suffolk Light Guard.
As the disbandment had been intended for punitive purposes merely, encouragement was held out for the companies to reorganize. The device of reorganizing and "continuing the record" was not then thought of. Had it been, it would doubtless have been ordered; four companies took advantage of the opportunity. The Columbian Greys were merely the old City Guards under a new name; in 1844 they appeared on the records as the City Greys, and by 1851 were known once more as City Guards.
Similarly the Hanc.o.c.k Light Infantry continued the Fusiliers, the ancient corps being saved by the loyalty of two former captains. Noah Lincoln, Jr., a prominent Boston shipwright, was in command of the company when disbanded in 1838. On a May date in 1839 the Hanc.o.c.k Light Infantry elected the same Capt. Lincoln to be their commander; but he did not deem it best to accept. On May 17, 1839, the company proceeded to elect Louis Dennis, a former Captain of Fusiliers who had risen to field rank; and Maj. Dennis proved his loyalty to the old corps by accepting a commission as Captain. Maj. Dennis was a builder in civil life, and felt that the present emergency called for constructive work along military lines; Capt. Lincoln thereupon agreed to become 1st Lieutenant of the company. After four or five years we cease to find reference to the Hanc.o.c.k Light Infantry--the records again deal with the Fusiliers. The Mechanic Rifles similarly reorganized in 1843, and the Washington Light Infantry a few years subsequently. Col. Charles R.
Lowell, formerly Captain of the Rifle Rangers, commanded the reorganized regiment from June 1, 1839, until March 20, 1840.
On April 24, 1840, in connection with the general state-wide reorganization of the militia and the discontinuance of the train-band, the Light Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, received a number--it became the 1st Lt. Inf., 1st Brigade. The following colonels commanded: George W. Phillips, Aug. 27, 1840--May 18, 1841; Charles A. Macomber (formerly captain of the disbanded City Guards), June 15, 1841--Aug. 24, 1841; George T. Bigelow, formerly captain of the New England Guards, Sept. 11, 1841--Jan. 23, 1844; William H. Spooner, April 15, 1844--Jan. 19, 1847, the same Col. Spooner who had commanded the train-band regiment, the 1st of the 1st Brigade, to which the Roxbury Artillery was temporarily attached in 1832; Benjamin F. Edmands, March 15, 1847--July 11, 1848 (then elected Brig. Gen.); Col. Samuel Andrews, a former captain of the Tigers, July 28, 1848--May 13, 1850, when he became Brig. Gen.
When the New York 7th visited Boston in June, 1843, they were guests of the Fusiliers (yet called Hanc.o.c.k Light Infantry). After church services on Sunday, June 18, the visitors were shown around to the chief points of interest. How fashions do change! The princ.i.p.al shrine to which pilgrimage was made was--Mt. Auburn Cemetery.
Veterans of the Mexican War organized a company in the 1st Regiment on June 18, 1849, to which they gave the t.i.tle, National Guards; and were the recognized representatives of the 1st Ma.s.s. Mexican War Regiment.
Ben Perley Poore, a prominent newspaper correspondent, was elected Captain. As it became difficult to secure a sufficient number of Mexican veterans in Boston, admission was granted to all militia veterans, after a few years. Capt. Poore presently removed from Boston for business reasons, and made his residence in Newburyport. There he became famous as Major of an independent battalion of infantry; and altho absent from his Boston comrades, continued to retain a warm place in their hearts.
In Nov., 1856, he had made an election bet with Col. J. J. Burbank, proprietor of the Tremont House, Boston, to the effect that Millard Fillmore would get the Ma.s.sachusetts electoral vote for President; and lost. So on Sat.u.r.day, Nov. 8, he paid the forfeit--by wheeling a barrel of apples, on a wheelbarrow, all the way, thirty-six miles, from Newburyport to Boston. Maj. Poore's popularity caused a wide-spread interest to develop in this feat; especially in Boston were the streets thronged with friendly spectators. When the Fusiliers learned of the plan, they determined to have a part in it; so the doughty Major, himself in citizen's dress, was met in Charlestown by a company of thirty-four red-coated soldiers, and solemnly escorted across the bridge into Boston. Then, as a slight recompense for all the fun which had been provided, when the procession arrived at the Tremont House, the apples were sold at $1.00 apiece, for the benefit of the man who had transported them. Maj. Poore's portrait, as well as two pictures of the event, are today in the A. & H. Art. Company museum.
When on April 25, 1842, the companies received distinguishing letters, the Tigers became Co. A, the New England Guards B, the Pulaski Guards C, the Highland Guards D, the City Guards E, the Fusiliers F, the Suffolk Lt. Gds. G, the Washington Phalanx H, the Rifle Rangers I, and a company of rifles K.
Charles L. Holbrook became Colonel on Aug. 31, 1850, and continued in command until Aug. 15, 1854; William Schouler, destined to be the great Civil War Adjutant General of Ma.s.sachusetts, was Lieutenant Colonel. To Col. Holbrook fell the painful duty of marshalling his regiment against the mob on June 2, 1854, at the time of the Burns riot. In that year the organization consisted of eight companies. To him also fell the more congenial privilege, in Oct., 1862, of leading his command, the same regiment but then known as the 43d Ma.s.s. Vols., during its campaign in North Carolina. Col. Holbrook was, in civil life, a bookkeeper, first in the Suffolk National Bank, and subsequently in the Custom House; as a soldier he jumped from the Adjutant's office to the Colonelcy.
Owing to the formation of new companies it became desirable to organize an additional battalion of infantry in 1853, to which the number 3d was given. This included Capt. Poore's National Guards as Co. A, the Union Guards of East Boston, organized in 1852, as Co. B, and the Sarsfield Guards as Co. C, all under command of Maj. Robert I. Burbank.
Col. Thomas E. Chickering commanded the 1st Regiment from Oct. 25, 1854, until Jan. 29, 1856; and during his administration the name of the organization was changed from Light Infantry to "Infantry." Col.
Chickering commanded the 41st Ma.s.s. Inf., which became the 3d Cavalry, 1862-1865, and served in the department of the Gulf, transferring to Gen. P. H. Sheridan in Virginia during 1864. In 1855 the 3d Battalion of Infantry disbanded, the National and Union Guards going into the 2d Regiment as 9th and 6th Cos. respectively, while the Sarsfield Guards pa.s.sed out of existence. The transfer of two strong companies to the 2d was a sign that the latter regiment was increasing while the 1st decreased. Six years later the 2d was to receive the much-desired number which had thitherto belonged to the "1st." Maj. Joseph Bradley had become commander of the 3d Battalion at the time of its disbanding.
Col. Robert I. Burbank, formerly of the 3d Battalion, was the last commander of the old 1st Regiment, serving from March 25, 1856, until March 2, 1859. The regiment had several strong companies and might have been the leading military body in Boston; but it suffered from an excess of company loyalty and an utter absence of regimental spirit. Moreover there was a tendency to elect men of political prominence to the chief command, with slight regard for their military talents. Colonels were changed too frequently. The 2d Regiment under Cols. Bullock and Cowdin presented a striking contrast to the 1st in these particulars. The military authorities, since they recognized the inevitable tendency of the times, disbanded the 1st Regiment, and transferred four of the seven companies to the 2d, on March 1, 1859. The companies to enter the 2d Regiment were: C, the Pulaski Guards; D, the Washington Light Guard; F, the Fusiliers; and H, the Mechanic Rifles; these became the 4th, 2d, 3d, and 5th Companies in Col. Cowdin's regiment. The three companies remaining of the old 1st--the Tigers, the New England Guards, and the City Guards--were reorganized as the 2d Battalion of Infantry, under command of Maj. Charles O. Rogers, former captain of the Tigers. The latter command were highly prosperous at this time; in 1858 we find them giving the first grand ball ever held in the Music Hall, and a year later enlarging the scope of their social activities by moving the function into the Boston Theater, the first such event ever held in that celebrated amus.e.m.e.nt center.
Sentiment a.s.sumed striking forms in the military life of Boston during the years preceding the Civil War. Two visiting military bodies, the New York 7th in 1857 and the Ellsworth Zouaves from Chicago in July, 1860, presented such examples of military efficiency that a desire grew up--was encouraged by the Adjutant General--for the formation of a "crack" regiment in Boston. At the same time, the designation, "4th Battalion," came to be coveted and sought after. The reason for the latter sentiment is obscure; there never had been a 4th Battalion in Boston, never any of prominence in Ma.s.sachusetts. But the old sub-legion of Lt. Infantry in the 3d Brigade, standing as it did beside three infantry sub-legions, and brilliantly outcla.s.sing them, had been a "4th battalion" of which all Boston was proud. From 1859 on, many organizations were attempting to secure the designation, "4th Battalion."
The 2d Battalion, organized March 1, 1859, under Maj. Rogers, included three strong companies, and might have been the nucleus of the desired "crack" organization; however the units did not cohere, and the battalion speedily flew to pieces. Maj. Harrison Ritchie of the New England Gds. became commander July 21, 1860.
Gen. Samuel H. Leonard had removed from Worcester to Boston for business reasons, and had thereby lost his brigade in the former county. Becoming a.s.sociated with Boston military men who were ambitious for a new and highly efficient regiment, he placed himself at the head of the movement. Ex-Gen. Leonard presently succeeded Capt. Clark B. Baldwin in command of the Boston Artillery, and proceeded to transfer that company from Col. Cowdin's 2d Regiment to a new battalion. The City Guards had disbanded Dec. 26, 1859, and most of the members went into the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company; now former members of the City Guards were reenlisted and consolidated with the Boston Artillery. Indeed these City Guardsmen were the instigators of the movement. Capt. Augustine Harlow (a printer in civil life), formerly in command of the National Guards, the 9th Company of the 2d Reg., joined in the movement and organized a new company. On Dec. 15, 1860, Capt. Leonard's as Co. A, Capt. Harlow's as Co. D, and two new companies designated B and C were a.s.sociated as the 4th Battalion. At length the much desired numeral was in use,--and by men of large military ability and soaring ambition.
Since "rifles" took precedence over other branches, the new battalion became "Rifles"; and wore gray Zouave or cha.s.seur uniforms. We have seen elsewhere how this movement became deflected by the call for volunteers, and ultimately issued in the splendid 13th Ma.s.s. Inf. If the 4th Battalion of Rifles did not become a "crack" regiment--it achieved a n.o.bler destiny.
On March 11, 1861, the New England Guards became independent of Maj.
Ritchie's 2d Battalion; and expanded their organization into a two-company battalion, for which they claimed the coveted numeral, becoming the 4th Battalion of Infantry; Capt. Thomas G. Stevenson of the New Englanders became Major, and was in fact the leader of the movement.
The ensuing month brought war and put an end to the militia dreams. On April 25 Maj. Stevenson's battalion entered upon a one-month tour of volunteer garrison duty at Ft. Independence, the men serving without pay. It was at this time that they achieved the distinction of "bringing out" the most famous band-leader of the generation, Patrick S. Gilmore.
Gilmore's music and the fine marching of the New England Guards battalion immediately brought Maj. Stevenson's command a high degree of popularity.
More three-year regiments were needed in the autumn of 1861, and members of the New England Guards battalion decided to enlist. Upon further thought it seemed wiser to use their proved skill in military matters in a higher capacity--they would organize a new regiment of recruits, and themselves go as officers. With the approval of the War Department, accordingly, the 24th Ma.s.s. Reg. came into existence, having Thomas G.
Stevenson as Colonel and Gilmore as band-leader. No prophet then foresaw the future; but a bronze bas-relief in the State House (erected in 1905) today reminds us of the record of heroic service in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida; the transfer to Virginia May 1, 1864, and partic.i.p.ation with the Army of the James in the operations around Petersburg and Richmond. Their commander, now Gen. Stevenson, was killed in battle at Spotsylvania. Gilmore continued with his regiment as long as the Government permitted regimental bands--during the entire first year of the service.
Members of the New England Guards who were unable, for business or family reasons, to go for three years, were quick to respond, in the autumn of 1862, to the call for nine-months men. Part of the 4th Battalion had organized and officered the 24th Regiment (there was already a 4th Reg.)--clinging to the coveted numeral others now raised the 44th Reg. and followed their comrades--to the coast of North Carolina. So very few New England Guardsmen were left at home in Boston that the battalion pa.s.sed out of existence--died of patriotism.
Maj. Ralph W. Newton, former captain of the Tigers, succeeded Maj.
Ritchie in command of the 2d Battalion on Apr. 17, 1861, and continued in office until May 22, 1862. Nothing remained of the old 1st Reg., or of the 2d Bat., except the Tiger company. In order to retain the battalion organization, the Tigers sub-divided into three companies.
From this point on it will be literally correct to designate the battalion organization, the sole surviving remnant of the old 1st, as the Tigers.
On April 29, twelve days after a.s.suming command, Maj. Newton moved his Tiger battalion to Fort Warren, and remained there a full month rendering unpaid volunteer service. Owing to the extreme shortage of trained soldiers, the Government was glad to have the services of the battalion at Boston's most important fort. Old Andrew Fletcher has claimed that the song-writer of a nation is more influential even than the law-maker. So far as this is true, the 2d Company, the Tigers, have exerted a huge national influence. For while at Warren, it fell to the lot of their glee-club to originate one of America's greatest war-songs, one which until "Marching thru Georgia" was composed, stood supreme, the song, "John Brown's Body." Both words and tune trace back to the 2d Company. The tune is an adaptation of a southern revival hymn familiar before the war; but is so complete a revision as to be practically an original composition. The words were written as a joke on Private John Brown of the Tigers, who always seemed a shining mark for the wit of his comrades, and whose name of course suggested the hero of Osawatomie and Harper's Ferry. Fletcher Webster's regiment, the 12th, was in process of recruiting at Fort Warren that month. This song, at first intended humorously, was taken up in serious earnest by Webster's men, was sung a little later by them as they marched to Bull Run; and within a year hundreds of thousands in blue were firing their enthusiasm for battle with the great refrain, "His soul is marching on."
Ex-Col. Charles L. Holbrook proved his loyalty to his old command by accepting the lower office of Major on June 23, 1862. This responsibility he did not lay down until Oct. 13, 1862, when he led the 43d Reg. to war.
To the Tigers, as to others of Boston's best citizens, the call for nine-months men came as a personal summons to service. Maj. Holbrook's 2d Battalion at once began enlisting recruits, until it had expanded to a complete ten-company regiment. Practically all the officers were chosen from the Tiger battalion; and the new regiment, the 43d, was known as the "Tiger Regiment." The ancient t.i.tle, "Boston Light Infantry," had remained attached to Co. A of the 2d Battalion;--now the "Lt. Inf." Co. transferred itself bodily to the new regiment, and became Co. A of the 43d. Company commanders were: A, Henry J. Hallgreen; B, Edward G. Quincy; C, William B. Fowle, Jr.; D, Thomas G. Whytal (Capt.
Whytal later became a Lt. Col. of U. S. Vols.); E, Henry Doane (of Orleans); F, Charles W. Soule; G, Everett Lane (of Abington, who was elected Major Oct. 20, 1862); H, George B. Hanover (of Chelsea); I, George O. Tyler (of Cambridge); K, J. Emery Round. Maj. Holbrook, as we have already seen, became colonel. John C. Whiton, who later was Colonel of the 58th Ma.s.s., was Lt. Col., and Everett Lane, Major. Co. D was from Dedham, E from Orleans, G from Abington, H from Chelsea and I from Cambridge. The other companies were recruited at large--that is, from Boston. The regiment was mustered in Sept. 20, 1862.
Co. H of the 43d had an origin prophetic of the regimental consolidation which was to give us the present Coast Artillery. Springing as it did from the membership, and commanded as it was by the 1st Lieutenant of the Chelsea Rifles, and they in turn being the "depot" or reserve company of the Chelsea Volunteers (the 5th Co. in the three-year 1st Regiment), Co. H was in direct relationship with both of these commands.
After the war, veterans of all three companies joined forces, transformed the Rifles into the "Chelsea Veterans," and thus created our present 5th Company, M. C. A. For three years it was actually made up exclusively of veterans.
Tiger veterans and friends joined in giving the 43d a notable "send-off." Once more the motto was "Death or an honorable life." The historic banquet of Oct. 18, 1798, was repeated on Nov. 5, 1862, and the famous toast was again drunk, "The United States of America; as they have drawn the sword of justice with reason, may they never sheathe it with disgrace." Hon. R. C. Winthrop, standing on Boston Common, presented the regiment a handsome stand of colors, a gift from the Boston Light Infantry.
A few weeks later the 43d found themselves under Gen. John T. Foster in North Carolina, far indeed from Boston and their friends, but side by side with the 3d and 44th Regs., which also enter into our history. The old Tiger spirit had accompanied them. In Dec, 1862, came their great march thru the swamps and sand barrens, when they were face to face with the enemy during eleven continuous days. They were able to claim as their list of battles, Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro.
The loss of the North Carolina coast was a great blow to the Confederacy, opening as it did the way for Sherman's march northward.
Foster's army was really an outpost of the greater force threatening Richmond.
In July, 1863, their service was completed and they were homeward bound once more. Travelling by boat to Baltimore, stopping for a visit at Fort Monroe, thence by train to New York, and having a square meal en route at Philadelphia, by boat to New Haven and train to Boston, they were given a hearty welcome home at old Boylston Hall, the Tiger armory, on July 21. The Boston Light Infantry at once became the 24th Unattached Company, M. V. M.
A few months of quiescence succeeded the Tigers' nine months of duty in the 43d. Not until Aug., 1864, is there record of further activity. The war was drawing to a close, the nine-months regiments had been mustered out and the three-year commands were returning. Once more the ambition to have a "crack" regiment was stirring in Boston. Veteran and exempt members of the Tigers had formed the "Boston Lt. Inf. a.s.sn.," Nov. 1, 1862, during the absence of the active company. On this August date in 1864 the Light Infantry reorganized themselves as the "7th Infantry."
Maj. Charles O. Rogers, first commander of the 2d Battalion, was offered the colonelcy but declined; Daniel G. Handy was then elected, and received his commission on Nov. 6, 1865. (Col. Handy had been Maj. of the 12th Ma.s.s. in 1861 and 1862--indeed had been with the recruits in Ft. Warren when "John Brown's Body" originated.) A vigorous attempt was made to form new companies and maintain the 7th at regimental standard.
The 7th Ma.s.s. Inf., a Taunton command, had made a n.o.ble name for itself during three years of hard service; and had been mustered out just before the Tiger 7th came into existence. The traditions connected with the number were certain to prove stimulating. But the choice of a number had further significance; it was a deliberate attempt to reproduce the New York 7th. Gilmore became band-leader, and it was hoped that his famous musicians would lend brilliancy to the new regiment. It was in his capacity as leader of the 7th Regiment band that Gilmore arranged and conducted his first "Peace Jubilee Festival" in 1869, with ten thousand singers and eight hundred instrumentalists in a "coliseum"
seating fifty thousand, and not exceeded in size even by Billy Sunday's tabernacle of 1916. Music by wholesale, this, and very different from the original cla.s.sical "Peace Jubilee" in King's Chapel, Feb. 22, 1815, from which Gilmore obtained the suggestion. New England liked it; and derived benefit from the popularization of good music. And the 7th received no little advertising.
Nine new companies came into existence within two years, mostly by the process of subdividing older commands, while the Tigers continued their organization as Co. A. Charles F. Harrington, former Captain of the Tigers, became colonel in 1869. Distinguished soldiers were willing to serve as company commanders in the 7th. B had for a Captain, Walter Scott Sampson, who had led the 7th Co. of Col. Cowdin's regiment, the Washington Light Guard, into the 6th, and had commanded it (Co. K of the 6th) during its famous march thru Baltimore. Capt. Sampson had meanwhile been in command of a company in the 22d Ma.s.s. He was, in civil life, a successful Boston builder. E was commanded by no less a personage than Henry J. Hallgreen, war Captain of A or the Tiger Company in the 43d. A had for its Captain, David W. Wardrop, war Colonel of the 3d Reg. The entire regiment was quartered in a single armory, at Pine and Washington Sts. Co. B had developed by fission from Co. A in 1864 and was first called the Handy Guard or 32d Unattached Co. In 1869 so many veterans of the old Washington Light Guard joined Co. B that the Handy Guard became known as the Washington Light Guard. In 1873 the company transferred its headquarters from Boston to Cambridge, and, as part of the process, the name was again changed, becoming the Ma.s.sachusetts Guards. Claim has been made that Co. B perpetuates the old original Washington Light Guard, and it also claims to be the Tigers, as truly as the 2d Company;--it exists today as the 6th Company, Ma.s.s. C. A. Gen. W. E.
Lombard holds its older record books. The 7th Company, Ma.s.s. C. A., the Pierce Light Guard, came into existence as Co. E of the 7th; Henry L.
Pierce after whom it was named donated $1,000 to the company treasury.
Young men, however, are more successful than veterans in maintaining the interest of an active regiment; and apathy concerning military matters characterized the public thinking during the years immediately following the war. By 1870 the 7th had only four live companies remaining; on July 20 of that year the regiment was reduced to a battalion. The Tigers now recovered their old regimental number--they became the "1st" Battalion, and Maj. Dougla.s.s Frazer commanded. The 1st Battalion was on duty in 1872 at the great Boston fire, and protected the most important section of all, the financial district along State Street.