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Hitchcock, Joseph William

MILITARY SERVICE

Age: 21, credited to Bakersfield, VT
Unit(s): 13th VT INF
Service: enl 9/11/62, m/i10/10/62, CPL, Co. G, 13th VT INF, wdd, Gettysburg, 7/3/63, dis/wds, 11/3/63

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS

Birth: 07/23/1841, Bakersfield, VT
Death: 04/21/1916

Burial: West Serena Cemetery, Serena, IL
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Heidi McColgan
Findagrave Memorial #: 97645751

MORE INFORMATION

Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 2/18/1864
Portrait?: 13th History
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: 1890 - Living in Pittsfield, VT - 13th Vt. History off-site

DESCENDANTS

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BURIAL:

Copyright notice

Tombstone

Tombstone

West Serena Cemetery, Serena, IL

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Photo Photo

(Sturtevant's Pictorial History, Thirteenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865)

Biography

CORPORAL JOSEPH W. HITCHCOCK. I am embarrassed in attempting to write of myself. The task seems more fitting for another. There is no lack of incident, although much is of minor importance. Some of the details are given by special request. I was born in Bakersfield, Vt., July 23rd, 1841, and named Joseph Williams Hitchcock, after my uncle, Joseph Williams. My lather was William Bingham Hitchcock, son of Julius Hitchcock and Huldah Powers, his wife, of Westminster, Vt. My mother was Lovina (Clark) Williams, married to William B. Hitchcock September. 1840. She was a daughter of Ebenezer Williams, the first practicing physician in Bakersfield. He traced his ancestry through Joseph Williams of Sharon, Vt., to Thomas Williams of Rhode Island A. D. 1667. His wife, my mother's mother, was Keziah Perham. Her ancestors were from Groton and Pepperel, Mass., and Royalton, Vt. Her mother was a Shattuck, and my grandmother was first cousin to the father of the late Lysander Shattuck of Bakersfield, Vt. At the age of nine years I removed with my father and mother to Enosburg, Vt., and thence to the State of Wisconsin, returning to Bakersfield, Vt., in October, 18.59. Responding to President Lincoln's call for nine months' soldiers in August, 1862, I volunteered, at the age of 21 years, and became a member of Company G, loth Regiment Vermont Volunteers, and was intimately associated with it until July 3rd,. 1863, when I received a severe wound on the battlefield of Gettysburg, after which I was under hospital treatment and detached from my company. Having elsewhere written for this work sketches and incidents in our army life I will now give attention to the battle of Gettysburg and what followed, a glimpse of it, and nothing more. I remember being profoundly impressed, the second day of the battle, with its magnitude and importance while both armies were concentrating their forces from every side for a terrible conflict. The Confederates were the attacking force, the Union army the defensive. There was no fighting of importance until well along in the afternoon. While we were in reserve back of Cemetery Hill a vigorous attack was made in front. What a ghostly sight as wounded men and horses trooped over the ridge seeking shelter; men with arms or legs disabled, pierced in the head, the face, the bodies or extremities stained with blood, hobbling along supported by comrades, or alone. Horses covered with blood, wounds and gashes on head, body or legs; limping, some of them on three feet, the fourth gone or dangling in the air. A little later the 13th Regiment was ordered forward to retake Battery C, 5th United States Artillery, captured by the Confederates, an account of which I have given elsewhere. July 3rd, the last day of the battle, we formed a part of the main line on the Union center. There was fighting to the right and the left of us early in the day. Rebel sharp-shooters kept up a merciless fire. The thunder of artillery on both sides shook the earth. A tornado of shells swept over us while we laid flat on the ground a little below and back of a ridge that afforded protection. Most of the shells swept over us with a frightful prolonged "swish,'' some so closely we felt their breath. A few exploded near, doing damage. An ammunition supply wagon for a battery, not far away, exploded with a shock like an earthquake. For a time there came a lull, the silence of a sabbath reigned. After noon the rebel batteries opened again on the Union center. Not less than 150 cannon were heard in assault and reply. It was more terrific to the imagination than in destructive effect since the greater part of the shells exploded at too long range. It ceased. Picket's divisions advanced from the Confederate main line, in a last desperate attempt to break the Union center. The Union army arose to attention. Just then one of General Stannard's aides rode in front of us and said, in a ringing tone, "Men, you know what this means! Wei must whip them." Our line advanced to the top of the ridge. Union batteries rapidly shifted position to accommodate the new order of things and take most effective positions, horses galloping with the guns to their places. We opened musket fire at long range on the advancing Confederate lines. They passed on close up to us before they replied, continually closing up the gaps we made in their columns. It was a terrible sight to behold two armies stubbornly standing at short range and pouring their volleys into each other's faces, pushing nearer and nearer. It would be idle to say that the Confederates were not valiant and we were not hard pressed. Our lines in places, were broken, annihilated, but, providentially, reserves were at hand to fill up the gap. The Confederate force and endurance were not equal to the task they had set for themselves. Taking advantage of some confusion in their ranks a Union force, in which the 2nd Vermont Brigade acted an important part, at an opportune moment charged their flank with telling effect. The Confederate attack was a failure all along the line and they fell back with great loss. It was a little before this charge that I received a bullet in my left thigh which was not extracted until three years, nine months and seven days afterward, although diligent search by experienced surgeons was made for it. I have the bullet still, a treasured relic of the war. A comrade supported me from the ranks to a tree nearby n the rear, where 1 sat upon the ground partially shielded from flying bullets A little later, leaning on my gun tor support, risking danger from flying missiles above and all around, I forced myself, limping, farther to the rear on lower ground to a place of less danger near a small stone dwelling house then occupied for a Second Corps hospital. There 1 could receive no attention, as I belonged to the First Corps and laid on the ground with a multitude of wounded as helpless as myself A light rain fell some time in the night. Spreading my rubber blanket over me folded over my shoulder during the battle, I "let it rain." It rained again before noon the next day. I asked help to reach the barn nearby, for I could not walk, and took the only vacant place, by the open door, beside a wounded rebel soldier. A bullet had entered his mouth. He could not articulate a word plainly. His mouth, chin and flowing beard were covered with clotted blood. Wounded, blood-stained men, filled the barn floor and covered the ground outside. I saw a young man walking about the ground. 1 called him and requested that he would find my regiment and company on the field and inform them where I was. This he faithfully performed, God bless him. Comrades Charles Ovitt, Oakley Brigham and Henry Wells from Company G came to see me. They looked sleepy and haggard, having guarded rebel prisoners all night after the battle. Helping me into an adjoining shed, where straw was stored, where I had a good shelter, a soft bed and plenty of room, they went to seek needed rest for themselves. Sergeant George H. Scott came twice to see me, bringing Assistant Surgeon Crandall who bathed and bandaged the wound, then sent an ambulance with Sergeant George Ladd in charge, that evening, removing me to a First Corps hospital in a straw-thatched barn, four miles away. The wounded limb had become very sore and the ride was exceedingly painful. There were many wounded there, all strangers except one from my company, John Teague from Bakersfield. A bullet passed entirely through both his thighs, back of the bones, making four ugly looking wounds to outward appearance. Notwithstanding his sore and helpless condition he was irrepressibly mirthful, contributing much to the cheer of others. We sat and lodged on the ground in an empty bay; a bed of chaff, hayseed and thistles under us, which was more comfortable outside our clothing than it was after working its way inside. July 10th we were all taken to Gettysburg and then the next day to Baltimore by rail. Sitting all night on the floor of a freight car with just a little hay spread under us, jolting and bumping along, for men whose wounds had reached a stage of extreme sensitiveness, was mild torture. What could not be helped must be endured and so we made the best of it. Little wonder it was when morning came and we were carried out on stretchers placed in a row along the street that many a poor fellow was too much exhausted to sit up. For myself, all I cared for was rest. Every attention and kindness possible for our comfort was freely given by the ladies and citizens of Baltimore. Let it be recorded to their credit. After a good bath and a clean shirt graciously supplied, for my knapsack was left on the battlefield, I was borne on the shoulders of four men to West's Hospital, in the city of Baltimore. It was a large two story brick warehouse near a wharf on Chesapeake Bay, capable of accommodating one thousand wounded men, temporarily used for a hospital. I must hasten to close this narrative. Good beds, good food and nurses with competent medical and surgical service were provided. The missile that wounded me was somewhere deep in the flesh of my left thigh; it baffled surgical skill to locate it. The wound suppurated profusely, sometimes amazingly. I was confined to my bed unable to walk. In October malarial chills and fever attacked me, seriously affecting my appetite and digestion. Advising with my attendants, I decided to go home to Vermont while I was able to make the journey and wrote my father to come or send some one for me. As he was confined at home caring for my invalid mother. Comrade Oakley Brigham engaged to go. If the reader is interested to follow our journey home, I refer to his narrative. To the best of my remembrance, we left Baltimore evening of October 29th, arriving at home afternoon of December 4th. Strong and willing arms in every place lifted and carried me. From Brattleboro I laid on a mattress. I desire to express appreciation of and gratitude for Comrade Oakley Brigham's kind and constant attention to my every need. Home again, delightful! yet exhausted by the journey, obliged for a time to seek complete relaxation and rest. Dr. George D. Stevens attended me. The wound continued constantly discharging more than two years. In the winter following my return an abscess formed beside the original wound which, when lanced, discharged a pint. A little later, in February, Dr. Hiram F. Stevens of St. Albans operated to extract the ball but without success. A year and a half on crutches followed, with very feeble health. February and March. 1865, I was confined to my bed with bilious fever and threatened inflammation of the bowels, the following summer prostrated some weeks with inflammation of the liver. Before winter (1865) the wound healed without extracting the ball. Nine months later another abscess, which did not heal until the bullet was extracted six or seven months later. These abscesses were a severe experience, confining me some weeks to the house, for a time to my bed, and placing me under medical treatment. The winter of 1865-6 I taught a school at Stoneville successfully although with feeble health, following which I entered upon a course of study in bookkeeping, business methods and telegraphy at Bryant & Stratton Commercial College, Burlington, Vt. Obtaining appointment as Inspector of Customs with headquarters at East Franklin, I went thither in December. lS6fi. The tenth of April. 1867, the bullet in my leg had worked itself so near the surface that I located it and with my pocket knife cut it out myself, no thanks to professional skill. Within ten days it had healed. At the end of one year resigned as Inspector of Customs and engaged in teaching the school at West Berkshire. In January, near the middle of the term, was again completely prostrated with another abscess and under care of a physician, unable to finish the school, a cause of great disappointment to myself and I believe to the pupils also. On recovery studied and practiced photography at Franklin, St. Albans and Bakersfield, spending a number of weeks in the city of Philadelphia under instruction of a professional photographer. October 6th, 1869, I was married to Miss Cornelia Higgins of Logansport, Ind., a niece of Judge John K. Whitney of Franklin, Vt., who, until her death, February 16th, 1905, was my beloved companion nobly sharing and helping in my work and affectionately ministering to me in my sickness. In 1873, yielding to the call of the church of which I was a member, I engaged in the work of the ministry and the pastorate, serving at North Hero, Eden, North Hyde Park, Fairfax, Pittsfield and Stockbridge Common. From overwork, the summer of 1884 came near being my last on earth. Slowly rallying, we removed late in the fall to Pittsfield, Vt., residing there in feeble health until my wife's death when I went to live in Serena, III., with my sister, Mrs. A. E. Dean, also bereft of her companion, Erasmus P. Dean, son of the late Deacon Asa Dean of Bakersfield, Vt. A daily record of events made at the time in Pittman's phonetic shorthand, preserved through all the vicissitude of war. has aided in writing these sketches. A stiff knee, permanently impaired health and a government pension are constant reminders of my former military service and of my debt of gratitude to those who ministered to me in time of need. J. W. H.

Source: Sturtevant's Pictorial History, Thirteenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, p. 608