JONES, COMMANDING Colonel of Famous 6th Regt Recalls The Start From Boston.
It is as colonel of the famous old 6th Mass. regt that Edward F. Jones- “Jones of Binghamton,” “Jones, He Pays the Freight”- is best known, although since that period he has been lieutenant governor of New York form 1886 to 1891 and is a prominent scales manufacturer in the Empire state. Gen Jones-he was breveted brigadier general during the latter part of the civil war after having recruited the 26th Mass regt- still lives in Binghamton and is in his 83d year.
He recalls vividly the start of the old 6th from Boston and its historic and exciting march through Baltimore April 19. In the days before the war he was in business in Boston and resided in Pepperell. “I joined the regiment when a young man,” he says, “and some time before the war broke out was its colonel. I recall that Gen Butler called on me in Boston and asked me to go with him to see Gov Andrew. Butler said he was positive that the south meant to fight and thought we should be getting ready to resist. I went with him to Gov Andrew and the result of our interview was that I was authorized to put my regiment on a war footing.”
April 15 Col Jones was ordered to muster the regiment in uniform on Boston Common, notice being given that the troops were to go to Washington.
“The members of the Groton and Acton companies were isolated,” says Col Jones, “and on the receipt of the order the telegraph wires were used to the fullest possible extent, ordering the commanders of the various companies to assemble their commands in Huntington hall, Lowell, the morning of the 16th.
“The scene at Huntington hall that morning was one impossible to describe. Before the order to ‘fall in’ was given it was a motley assemblage of children, sisters, sweethearts and a general public, massed to the extend of the entire space, all with anxious faces and many tearful eyes. It was touching to see the mingled pride and sorrow in so many sweet faces.
“ ‘Fall in’ was the order, and while a hasty inspection was being made the band played ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me.’ The regiment took train for Boston and was on Boston Common and reported for duty at 12 o’clock noon, the 16th. New arms, equipments sic and overcoats were furnished and three companies were added to complete the regiment to the standard of 10 companies. This work was not completed until the evening of the 17th. The regiment, meanwhile, was assigned to quarters in Faneuil hall.
“On the evening of the 17th the men left Boston, reaching New York the next morning, The passage through the night, though the train made few stops, was one continuous ovation. It seemed as if bonfires were burning at every crossroad and the firing of cannon, ringing of bells and cheers of enthusiastic citizens occurred at every city and village through which the train passed.
“The story of the march of the 6th regiment through Baltimore on the way to the capital has been told in song and story. After the regiment had entrained for Baltimore from Philadelphia I gave the following order: ‘The regiment will march through Baltimore in column of sections, arms at will.’ You will undoubtedly be insulted, abused, and perhaps assaulted, to which you must pay no attention whatsoever, but march with your faces square to the front and pay no attention to the mob, even if they throw stones, bricks or other missiles; but if you are fired upon and any of you are hit, your officers will order you to fire. Do not fire into any promiscuous crowds, but select any man whom you see aiming at you and be sure to drop him.
“On reaching Baltimore the regiment was ordered to detrain. Through changed plans it did not go through the city as a unit. About three-quarters of the men passed through without incident. It was the companies which were cut off that encountered the mob. Four of our men, Addison O. Whitney, Luther C. Ladd and Charles A. Taylor of Co D, Lowell, and Sumner H. Needham of Co I, Lawrence, were killed and 36 were wounded among whom Lieut Leander F. Lynde of Co C, whose story appears elsewhere. But it was not until their own lives were in question that our men returned the fire. Having fought their way to the Washing depot the men rapidly entered the cars which were waiting to convey them to the capital.
“My arrival in Washington was, to say the least, opportune. I think I can fairly say that I am the only man alive whom the President of the United States and his cabinet went out to meet on approaching the city. We were the first regiment to report at the capital. President Lincoln welcomed the regiment by shaking hands with me and saying: “Thank God you are here, for if you had not arrived tonight we should have been in the hands of the rebels before morning.’
“The regiment marched to the capitol and established headquarters in the senate chamber. That night I spent in the chair of the vice president in the senate chamber.”