• 1st NY Col. Fred Pierson Defends His Accounts -- Rebuffed Mutiny, Wounded At Chancellorsville

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    COL. FRED PIERSON (later General) helped organize the 1st New York Infantry Regiment. He led the first actions at the Seven Days Battles, Manassas and the Battle of Fredericksburg.  At the end of 1863, his regiment was involved in a mutiny by a company of the 1st NY. The men refused to do duty on the grounds that their terms had expired. Dissatisfaction spread and almost all the companies commanded by Pierson laid down their arms and refused to do duty.

    GEN. BIRNEY ordered the arrest of the ringleaders, stripped the men of their arms and confined them to their quarters. The men were allowed only bread and water for 24 hours. Later, the men showed a desire to return to duty and their arms were returned and their duty restored.

    PIERSON was badly wounded in the Battle of Glendale and was also shot through the chest at Chancellorsville. After returning to duty he was captured by the Confederates and confined at Libby Prison. At the end of the war, he was made a Brigadier General for gallant and meritorious service.

    3 pp, 8 x 12 ½, ALS, Dec. 6, 1862, to his father.

    “...I am very sorry indeed that so much trouble and attention has been caused you by the unfortunate acts of mine. You blame me for not being governed by the Regulations...My conducting business was at first directly agreeable to all...Then I was ordered to report to Major Sprague and my troubles commenced at once. Every week came a new order or circular directing some variation, finally my accts went to him and after a long fuss were by him even approved but not paid merely because some foreign paper, a descriptive list was wrong in some way. Then they (the accts) went to Washington and I had to make them out as they are now to please the official there; discarding by his orders the very papers you now write for and made out as requested by Col. Reeves. Those papers are either in my trunk in my room at 19th St or lost...Reeves should take into consideration the fact that for the time before Jany ’62 from Novb’ 6` my accts were similar and found correct and paid by his successor...

    “I am well, have just been relieved from a carbuncle on my neck and with exception of a couple of boils, ever was better. Last night spread a couple of inches of snow upon the ground and it is very cold and disagreeable. We have only tents (officers wall, men shelter tents) and no stoves. I have dug a hole in the ground of my tend and carried a trench from it to outside with two beef barrels for a chimney. A little fire (but large in the pleasure afforded to look at it) built in this hole burns well, when the smoke it causes permits my being in to see it. My sick list is increasing in the Regiment, and I shall begin to think soon that we should certainly go into winter quarters if we don’t go into battle.

    “I scarcely would advise Charley’s coming now, not till things are more comfortable. He could scarcely stand the great change to sleep on the ground, each pork & crackers and go cold all at once might affect him deleteriously...In my tent appears Health & Misery. Myself represents the first, poor Capt. Yeaman the second. He has the chronic diarrhea, indigestion, gout, two boils and a bald head...

    “P.S. I enclose the original order (not present) detailing me on the recruiting service and the order of revocation; also a letter from Col. Allen I found in the Adjutant’s office to his then Major, about electing me Captain. What a change since then. Also a characteristic letter or circular from (Gen’l) Kearney forbidding his men to cheer for him.”

    Letter has light soiling, folds, a couple of which have been reinforced with archival tape. One small chip on page three, affecting nothing.

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