Private Edward Kavanagh Gazet by HC121105032844


									Private Edward Kavanagh Gazet
By Arlene Cole
     Private Edward Kavanagh Gazet had fought in the battle of Bull Run. Back in
his camp he relives the battle in a letter to his Mother. He felt stiff and lame but
was cheered by getting a letter from a friend.
      Food was dull. To supplement rations the members of the Regiment shot
pigs and sheep to eat. He also mentions a stealing expedition when they brought
back a goose and two ducks.
      Personal care was difficult. The first part of this letter is missing but was
probably written in the summer of 1861. He wrote, “You would laugh to see me
the other day, standing up to my knees in the brook, stripped to the waist,
washing my stockings and handkerchiefs. I had to watch [wash] my stockings
and go barefoot until they dried, but the sun soon dries things in the country. It is
the same with my shirt as I have only one, and I stole that, the others was stolen
from me at various times, the stockings I wear I found in the havesack I picked
up at Bull Run. I found a knife and spoon, a paper of sugar, a towl, and a cap
       The date is missing, but probably the end of July or the first of August 1861,
Edward writes they started from camp about two o’clock in the morning and
marched to the battlefield a distance of 15 miles. They fought until four p.m. and
then retreated all night until 11 the next morning. As he was retreating he came
upon some of his “townies” who belonged to the fourth Maine regiment.
       In September, he writes from Bladensburg, MD that he has had a touch of
fever and ague but is then in splendid health. He wrote he had enough money to
buy paper envelopes. Paper is expensive, “twenty five cents a square of writing
paper that I could get in Boston for 12 and a better quality.” He comments on the
ink. “This is queer looking ink, it is the juice of a berry called pigeon berry.” On his
letters to them, “Our letters go free and that is one good thing, I wish they would
let them come free.” He received his pay of 20 dollars and 67 cents and sent it
home to his sister.
      In a moment of nostalgia he writes his sister on Sept. 15, Oh! How it recalls
to my mind the pleasant summer hours that I have spent on the oyster bank
beneath the shade of its grand old trees. Who can help drawing a long sigh as
the thought rises that we may never see it again, but love, ever dying love for my
country moves me on to do duty bravely, and if it be my fate to fall. Gods will be
     The Regiment moved on to Camp Baker in Maryland. He wrote he had been
unwell so the march was difficult. He took shelter under a piazza to get out of the
sun. He passed a home with the door open and the supper spread on the table.
The man invited him in and gave him a good supper of beefsteak, bread and
coffee. They offered him lodging for the night and he slept on a mattress for the
first time in a long time. He had slept with nothing softer than a cartridge box
under his head and the ground for his bed, for two months.
       He arrived at the campground at noon. He got biscuits off one of the other
regiments and some tomatoes from a passing farmer, for breakfast. “The boys”
had stuck their muskets into the ground with the bayonets down and covered
them with blankets to make shelters from the hot sun. He cleaned up at the river
and found a small boat, which he took out and sent “the boat skimming over the
water.” This reminded him of home and the Damariscotta River.
     On Nov. 23, they were living in tents. The weather was stormy and cold but
no snow, yet. The tents were floored with sound logs and then covered with fine
boughs of cedar and they were quite warm but “some of the nights are passed in
a comfortless way.”
     For winter, Edward writes, they moved into a log house. He sketched it, but
the sketch was damaged. It appears to be a wood lean-to. In January 1862, they
saw their first snow. In February, he writes home that he now had a uniform
authorized by “Uncle Sam.” It consists of a dark blue frock coast and sky blue
pants. He was having a bad case of poison ivy. He hopes the doctors will cure it
for him, “But I haven’t a great opinion of army doctors they give a man quinine for
everything from a sore toe to a head ache.” In March he saw his first robin.
     By April 23, his regiment was before Yorktown. He was writing home using a
lead pencil, as he could get no ink. Also, apparently he needed stamps now for
he asks his sister to send him about 50 cents worth of stamps.
     On May 5, 1862 at the battle of Williamsburg, Va., Edward was wounded. He
was struck three times. One ball struck the back of his left shoulder. The second
ball entered his spine. The third ball passed through his capbox and into his right
hip. This, the doctors determined was the fatal wound. He was transported to the
U.S. General Hospital at Fortress Monroe, Va. There he lingered until May 15,
when he died at 9:30 a.m. This was three days after his 23rd birthday. He was
interred at the National Cemetery in Hampton, Va. His grave No. 4747 is directly
to the left of the flagpole.
     Edward Gazet’s father Joseph had died April 8, 1853. His mother Mary died
Sept. 16, 1874. They are buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. She shares her stone
with Edward. It reads: “Mary, wife of Joseph Gazet, Died Sept. 16, 1874, AE 82
yrs.” Immediately below it reads: “In memory of Edward Kavanagh of the 11th
Mass. Reg. Co. A. Died May 16, 1862 AE 23 yrs. Buried at Fortress Monroe, son
of Joseph and Mary Gazet.” To the right of their stone, his flag holder reads,
“Post 59, G.A.R.”
     It was two of his sisters, Mary and Sarah, who carefully preserved these
letters and journals. Mary married Joseph Wharff and lived on Glidden St. She
died in South Portland on April 9, 1901. Her sister, Sarah, was a nurse who
never married. She lived with Mary and drowned on April 10, 1892, in the
Damariscotta River, “just above the bridge,” according to Christine Dodge’s
records. Vol. 131 - No. 31

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