William C. Holbrook,
Colonel Seventh Regiment
The Seventh Regiment, numbering 943 officers and men, was mustered into the service of the United States at Rutland, Vt., February 12, 1862, under the command of Col. George T. Roberts. The act under which the regiment was formed authorized the Governor to "recruit, organize, army and equip, an additional regiment" * * * to serve in the army of the United States. By a previous act, the Governor had been authorized to recruit, etc., a regiment to be attached to a New England division then being raised by Gen. B. F. Butler, under the authority of the Secretary of War, to operate against the City of New Orleans, which regiment was to be armed and equipped at the expense of the United States. Under this latter act, the Eighth regiment was formed. It was clearly the intention of the legislature, by the act under which the Seventh was formed, as it was the avowed purpose of the State officials, that the Seventh should not form a part of General Butler's division. It was the unanimous wish of the officers and men that the regiment might be sent to the Army of the Potomac, and they were greatly disappointed and disgusted when they learned that they had been designated by the War Department, for service under General Butler.
On the 10th of March, 1862, the Seventh left Rutland for New York City, where it embarked on two old-fashioned sailing ships, ill adapted for the transportation of troops, with sealed orders to proceed to sea. Upon opening the orders, it was learned that the destination of the regiment was Ship Island, Miss. The voyage occupied upwards of three weeks, and was very uncomfortable and trying, owing to the heavy March gales which prevailed throughout the passage. On the fall of New Orleans, a portion of the Seventh for a short time, occupied Fort Pike, one of the important outlying fortifications of the city, commanding the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain. The balance of the regiment shortly thereafter proceeded to Carrolton, an environ of New Orleans; thence, in a few days, it proceeded to Baton Rouge, where it reported to Brig.-Gen. Thomas Williams. On the 19th of June, 1862, eight companies of the Seventh, with three other regiments and a light battery, comprising altogether about 3,500 men, embarked on transports to take part in a foolhardy expedition against Vicksburg, conceived by General Butler. Although supported by Admiral Farragut's entire squadron of war ships, the expedition was a failure. After besieging the place for twenty-eight days, and after the loss, unnecessarily, of many valuable lives, principally from exposure and sickness, the command returned to Baton Rouge. On the 5th of August, 1862, the regiment took a conspicuous and highly meritorious part in the battle which occurred at that place on that day. In addition to other losses, it had the great misfortune to lose its beloved and heroic Colonel, George T. Roberts, who died two days later from wounds received while gallantly discharging his duties at the most critical stage of the action. Later, the regiment performed duty in and around the City of New Orleans. At this time, owing to the hardships endured on the Vicksburg campaign, the mortality in the regiment reached its highest percentage. In November following, the regiment was ordered to Pensacola, FL. Here the record of its first year's service closed with the sad loss of over 300 by death, and upwards of 100 discharged for disability, most of whome left the service with constitutions permanently shattered.
The regiment remained in Florida until August 10, 1864, when, in consequence of the re-enlistment of all but 58 of the remaining members thereof, it became entitled to a veteran furlough in Vermont, of thirty days. While in Florida, the Seventh rendered important service as artillerists in holding the important fortifications erected for the protection of Pensacola Harbor, then the headquarters of Farragut's West Gulf Squadron, where vast naval stores and appliances had been accumulated for the use of his fleet, and which afforded a standing bait for the enemy. Besides this, the regiment performed heavy outpost and scouting duties, both as mounted and dismounted infantry. It passed through two seasons of yellow fever, one of which was a very malignant type. Several severe combats were had with the enemy, in all of which the members of the Seventh acquitted themselves with marked credit, as was attested in general orders by the General commanding the District.
Upon the expiration of its veteran furlough in Vermont, the regiment was ordered back to New Orleans, where it was stationed until February, 1865, when it was ordered to Mobile Point, to take part in the siege of Mobile. The Seventh was attached to the Thirteenth Corps, commanded by Gen. Gordon Granger. This Corps, with the Sixteenth and Steele's Division, and a Cavalry force, comprised the army of General Canby in his attack upon Mobile. Had the war lasted, this army would have been called upon for very important service, akin to that performed by General Sherman in his operations in Alabama and Georgia. The Seventh took a prominent part in the siege of Spanish Fort, which was the main and strongest outlying fortification in the approach to Mobile on its eastern side. The siege lasted 13 continuous days. The regiment held important and dangerous positions, and was highly commended for its efficiency and courage. Several of its officers and men were specially mentioned for gallantry, performing, as they did, some of the red letter achievements of the siege. The regiment participated in all the subsequent operations and skirmishes of the campaign in and around Mobile, and received, among other notices, very favorable mention for its part in an affair at Whistler, which resulted, after a sharp fight, in saving from destruction the repair and machine shops of the Mobile and Ohio railway at that point. On the surrender of Gen. Richard Taylor's army, the Seventh was ordered to Clarksville, and subsequently to Brownsville, Texas, where it composed a part of the "Army of Observation," on the Rio Grande, maintained by our Government, under Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, to observe and wait the development of the operations of Maximilian and his French allies, then in Mexico.
On the 14th of March, 1866, the regiment was mustered out of the service of the United States at Brownsville, Texas, but proceeded in a body to Brattleboro, Vt., where it was formally disbanded April 6, 1866.
The Seventh, although serving in the main alone, or with detached organizations, or in detached parts, was a different times connected with the Thirteenth and Nineteenth Army Corps. The regiment served longer, lost more men from disease, and more of its members re-enlisted "for the war" than was the case with any other single Vermont organization.
The following is a list of the sieges and battles in which the regiment, as a body, was mentioned by General Sheridan in general orders, as having borne a "meritorious part," and which were ordered inscribed upon its colors: Siege of Vicksburg, Miss.; Baton Rouge, La., Gonzales Stations, Fla; Siege of Spanish Fort, Ala., and Whistler, Ala.
The following is a list of the skirmishes and combats, not inscribed upon its colors, in which detached portions of the regiment bore honorable part, and in most of which, members thereof were killed or wounded: Pearlington, Miss., June 28, 1862; Grand Gulf, Miss., July 7, 1862; Attack on Mortar Boats, Vicksburg, Miss., July 8, 1862; Attack on Transport Cars, Warrington, Miss., Jul 22, 1862; Oakfield, Fla., Feb. 17, 1863; Donaldsonville, La., June 27-28, 1863; Jackson's Bridge, Fla., Jan. 25, 1864; Point Washington, Fla., Feb. 1, 1864; Nix's Clearing, Fla., April 2, 1864; Marianna, Fla., Sept. 27, 1864; Fish River, Ala., March 22, 1865, and Blakely, Ala., April 9, 1865.
Source: Theodore S. Peck, compiler, Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers and lists of Vermonters Who Served inthe Army an dNavy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Montpelier, Vt.: Press of the Watchman Publishing Co., 1892, pp. 267-268.