An Eloquent Farewell to His Troops from a Massachusetts General Who Marched to the Sea with Sherman and Fought in the Civil War’s Last Battle
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Brigadier General William Cogswell offers a dramatic farewell message to the troops under his command in the Army of Georgia. A Salem, Massachusetts lawyer, Cogswell turned his law office into a recruiting station after learning the 6th Massachusetts had been attacked in Baltimore. He was first in, last out, in his Civil War service: In 24 hours, he raised the first full company of the war (Company C, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers) and his brigade fought in the final battle of the war in Bentonville, North Carolina. Despite his relative obscurity, Cogswell’s eloquence rivals the great farewell messages in military history. WILLIAM COGSWELL. CIVIL WAR.
Manuscript Document Signed. General Orders No. 14. [Farewell to the Army of Georgia], Near Washington, D.C., June 9, 1865. 1 p., 7¾ x 12 in.
Head Quarters, 3rd Brigade, 3d Div., 20[th] A[rmy] [Corps],
Near Washington, D.C. 9th June 1865
Officers and Enlisted Men of the 3rd Brigade 3rd Division 20th Army Corps Army of Georgia.
In a few days your organization will be broken up. Some of you will go to your homes, and the civil pursuit of life, while others remain for still further duty in the West.
Your noble record, the history of the deeds of valor you have performed, and of the part you have taken in this “War of the great Rebellion” now so gloriously ended, have preceded you to your homes, while the West knows them already by heart.
Although I have been with you but six short months, yet, by your valor, by your patience, by your fortitude, and by your courtesies I have learned to love and respect you, and I shall part with you with sorrow and regret.
No part of my military life has been so pleasant as that which links its history with yours.
From the earliest of battle fields to the last grand blow at Bentonville [N.C.], your blood has stained, Alas! too many a sod.
Quick, soldierly in camp, patient, willing and obedient on the march, brave in battle, with never an inch of ground lost, participating to an unusual extent and with unsurpassed valor in the last battle of the War – March 19, 1865 – your record will be remembered wherever the “battles of the Potomac” are known or the “Campaign of Sherman” read.
That the pleasures and comforts of home may attend you that go, that additional honor and laurels may await you that remain, that an Almighty and good God may forever lead you in ways of pleasantness and paths of peace, that industry and virtue may crown you with their rewards, that all that good brave men deserve may be yours, that those who remain may shortly be sent to home and friends, and that the blessings of a kind heaven may always be with you wherever you go, is the last best wish of your Brigade Commander.
Bvt. Brig Gen Commanding
William Cogswell (1838-1895) was the son of the founder of the Massachusetts Republican party. He left Dartmouth College and spent two years on a square-rigger sailing around the world. When he returned, he attended Harvard Law School and became a lawyer in Salem, Massachusetts. When word reached Salem that the 6th Massachusetts had been attacked in Baltimore on April 19, 1861, Cogswell turned his law office into a recruiting station and raised Company C of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 24 hours. He went on to become its commander.
Though the regiment suffered heavy losses, Cogswell’s company distinguished themselves well at the Battle of Antietam. Cogswell was promoted from company to regimental commander. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, Cogswell was seriously wounded, which resulted in his missing the Battle of Gettysburg, where the 2nd Massachusetts lost another commander, resulting in Cogswell’s promotion to colonel. Cogswell was brevetted brigadier general on December 15, 1864, and took command of the 3rd brigade, 3rd division, of the 20th Corps, a part of the Army of Georgia that participated in Sherman’s Savannah Campaign, better known as the March to the Sea.
Very good. Lower half of left margin somewhat tattered, affecting only one word (go), edge wear at upper right half, some toning. Superb for display.