Position of the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (and Joseph Pierce) at the "Bloody Angle" during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. The 14th was posted behind a portion of the stone wall to the right of the clump of trees that was the point of impact of this Confederate assault.
(Webmaster's notes: This article is the work product of Irving Moy's research on Joseph Pierce, and it is part of his research collections. The webmaster takes the liberty to add some notes, in parenthesis, to clarify the historical facts.)
This gallant regiment returned from the war today, on the steamer "Granite State," which arrived here at 10:15 a.m. It is the first Connecticut regiment to return after the close of the war. The 14th left Hartford, it will be remembered, on the 25th of August 1862, on the steamer "City of Hartford" and the propeller "Dudley Buck," amid the cheers of a large crowd of people and the booming of cannon from Woodruff & Beach's establishment, and they were greeted today on their return in a similar manner.
The regiment went from here direct to Washington, where they received arms, and were transferred to the camp, and from thence to the battlefield. They originally contained 1,040 men, but the fortunes of war must have swept away more than the original number, for there have been added to the regiment as drafted men and substitutes 1,060 men, making the total number of the regiment during the service, 2100. The number returning is 215; but the substitutes and drafted men, it should be stated are retained to serve out their full term of three years, they having received large bounties for such service. The regiment left Connecticut under command of Col. Dwight Morris, of Bridgeport, who was honorably discharged on the 14th of August 1863 and return under Col. Theodore G. Ellis, of this city, who was promoted from Adjutant on the 3rd of October, 1863, and has retained the command ever since. The Lieutenant-Colonel Sanford H. Perkins, was honorably discharged on account of wounds received on the 20th of April, 1863.
The 14th received its first baptism of blood in the memorable battle of Antietam, where the flower of the rebel army, consisting of about 97,000 veterans, led by the ablest General of the South, with Lee as the guiding spirit, was after two days of the most determined and desperate fighting of the war, checked and driven back by the Union forces, numbering about 74,000 effective men, under the leadership of Gen. McClellan. This was not accomplished, however, without the terrible slaughter and carnage of both sides. About 27,000 of the rebel dead were counted and buried under the direction of Gen. McClellan upon the battlefield of Antietam, and our loss, though considerably less, was very heavy. In that battle we took 13 guns, 39 colors, upwards of 15,000 stand of small arms and more than 6,000 prisoners, and not a single gun or color was lost by our army. (Webmaster's note: Actually the Union army had more men than the Confederates army in Antietam.)
At Antietam, the 14th regiment, with the 8th, 11th, and 16th regiments of Connecticut volunteers were Burnside's division, which suffered so severely in the desperate struggle to turn the enemy's right flank. The 14th had five color bearers shot down, and were for a half hour under a terrible cross-fire, which sadly decimated their ranks, but they finally fell back to a better position, which was maintained with less slaughter. The four Connecticut regiments above mentioned were with Burnside's force, which was posted at bridge No. 3, and which McClellan ordered to advance across the bridge to carry the heights opposite at all hazards. The bridge was crossed and the heights carried handsomely, and the enemy driven back to Sharpsburg. That they fought with coolness and bravery is admitted. Indeed, Gen. McClellan, in his report, says "many of the troops were new levies, some of whom fought as veterans." And he spoke particularly of Col. Dwight Morris, who, with the 14th Connecticut and a detachment of the 108th New York, was sent to the support of General Richardson's Division, which occupied a very important advanced position on the right centre, and near where Hancock's line was already partly enfiladed by the batteries of the enemy on the right. (Webmaster's note: Confederate General A.P. Hill led his force from Harper's Ferry and arrived bridge No. 3 just in time to stop the Union Army breaking the Confederate line and saved the day, and saved Lee's Army.)
The 14th also participated in the battle of Fredericksburgh, Dec. 14th, under the leadership of Gen. Burnside, and again suffered severely, losing, an officer says, "119 men in ten minutes." This was the result, we believe, of being placed in a position where they received an enfilading fire, on a bank of a river. (Webmaster's notes: the Rappahannock River.)
The regiment was also in the battle of Gettysburg, on the 3rd of July 1863, and captured five battle-flags (Webmaster's notes: at the Pickett's charge); at Bristoe Station, Oct 14th, at Morton's Ford, Feb 7, 1864; and was with the advance under Grant which crossed the Rapidan in May 1864; taking part in all the memorable battles of the Army of the Potomac in its final "On to Richmond" movement. They were in the first battle of the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, North and South Anna, the Nye, Cold harbor, Potopotomy, Ream's Station, Boydton Plank Road, and the final and successful assault on Petersburg, which resulted in the fall of Richmond, and the pursuit and capture of Lee's vanquished army. In all these battles we believe the 14th has borne a conspicuous and honorable part, and returns with many battle scars, and numerous trophies of the victories won by the Union forces.
The City Guards, Capt. Williams, and Governor's Foot Guard, Major Hunt headed by Colt's Band were at the boat to receive and escort the regiment in its march through the principal streets of the city to their camping ground on Park Street. After forming in line they marched up State Street to Central Row, where they stacked arms and ex-Col. Bissell made a short address of welcome, which was replied to, on behalf of the regiment, by their Colonel. During the speech by Col. Bissell, private John Geatly of Co. A, Bridgeport, was pointed out as the brave soldier who captured three rebels at Petersburg, with an unloaded musket. He was led to the front and vociferously cheered.
They were dismissed (at 11 1/2 o' clock) for breakfast, which had been in waiting for them since early in the morning, and was served by Capt. Parker of the Trumbull House. After breakfast the march was resumed through the principal streets to the camp on Park Street.
The returning veterans could not but have been gratified at their reception. The weather had been beautiful all day. A cool breeze tempered the heat of the sun, and had it been especially arranged for the occasion it could not have been better. Then all along the line of march, the National flag was flown to the breeze, and from window and balcony waving of handkerchiefs and "welcome home" attested the joy of the large crowds at the safe return of the remaining members of the 14th.
Written by Rev. Henry S. Stevens, Late chaplain of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers
(Webmaster's notes: This article is the work product of Irving Moy's research on Joseph Pierce, and it is part of his research collections.)
The organization of the Fourteenth Regiment began under the order promulgated May 22, 1862, to furnish Connecticut's contingent of the fifty thousand men called for by the War Department at Washington to go into "Camp of Instruction" at Annapolis, MD.
Recruiting for the regiment began at once, but progressed slowly until in July, after the Union reverses on the Peninsula, the President called for three hundred thousand volunteers for three years or the war, when it received a tremendous impulse and the regiment filled up rapidly, being the first one to complete its organization under that call. It was recruited from the State at large, having its rendezvous, named "Camp Foote," at Hartford.
August 23, 1862, the regiment was mustered into the United States service, and on the 25th, one thousand and fifteen strong, under command of Dwight Morris, left the State, reaching Washington and crossing the Potomac to Arlington, VA, on the 28th. The next morning it went by forced march to Fort Ethan Allen, near Chain Bridge, VA, remaining there holding the defenses during the alarm caused by the second battle of Bull Run, until September 7th, when, having been taken with two other new regiments to form the Second Brigade of the Third Division, Second Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, it entered Maryland campaign, the whole army moving in pursuit of Lee. On the 17th this new regiment was plunged into the battle of Antietam, losing heavily, but winning the encomium of "behaving like veterans." The scene of its engagement was the Roulette farm and near the "Sunken Road," where it was engaged sharply for several hours and under fire all that day and the following day.
September 22nd the regiment marched to Bolivar Heights, near Harper's Ferry, VA, remaining there for picket and special duty until October 30th, when it went down the Loudon Valley, VA, reaching Falmouth, and on the 11th moved towards Fredericksburg, crossing into the city on the 12th. On the 13th, being in the division that first charged the famous stonewall at the foot of Marye's Heights, it left a heavy tribute of blood and bodies of precious men on the sanguinary field in front of the latter. The regiment was among the last troops to leave Fredericksburg on the evening of the 15th, returning to the old camp about two miles north of Falmouth. Here it remained during the winter and spring of 1863, doing picket duty along the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg. The losses of the regiment were greatly increased during the winter by the death, or discharge for wounds and disabilities, of many officers and men.
April 28th the regiment moved with the army on the Chancellorsville campaign, in which it again saw hard service and lost seriously. At night, May 2nd, it was sent with the brigade to the right to check the enemy and hold the ground after the disaster of the Eleventh Corps. Returning to camp near Falmouth on the 6th, the regiment staid there until June 14th, when it started on what proved to be the memorable Gettysburg campaign.
July 1st Gettysburg was reached, and on the 2nd the regiment was placed upon the ridge where, at the center of the Second Corps, its brave men, the body now reduced in size to a battalion, with their sturdy pluck and Sharps' rifles materially assisted in repulsing Longstreet's grand charge on the afternoon of the 3rd, capturing five battle flags and more than two hundred prisoners. During the forenoon of that day eight companies of the regiment captured the large brick barn and the dwelling-house of William Bliss from the enemy's sharpshooters, and held the buildings until ordered to burn them, losing several men. This deed was a brilliant and perilous one, as the buildings were nearly one-half mile in front of our line, and the men were exposed, almost from the start, to a heavy fire from sharpshooters in the buildings and from skirmishers and reserves.
July 6th the regiment started with the army in pursuit of Lee; was engaged slightly at Falling Waters, near Harper's Ferry and Loudon Valley, proceeded to the vicinity of Catlett's Station, VA, and along Elk Run, Cedar Run, and near Bristersburg remained doing picket duty until September 12th, except while on an expedition to Hartwood Church, August 31st to September 3rd, to support a force designed to operate against rebel gunboats on the Rappahannock.
August 6th the regiment received its first installment of recruits, conscripts, and substitutes --- the first-fruits of the draft in Connecticut. In a few days, more came, and in a few months the depleted ranks of the Fourteenth were swelled to the proportions of a large regiment.
September 13th the regiment crossed the Rappahannock and moved to Culpepper, VA, and on the 16th advanced by way of Cedar Mountain to the Rapidan, where it did advance picket duty until October 10th. While at the latter place (September 18th) two deserters from the regiment (substitutes and "bounty-jumpers") were shot in the presence of the whole division.
The army moved northward to intercept the enemy in an attempt to reach Washington, on October 14th the regiment was engaged in a skirmish at Auburn, VA, and later in the same day in a sharp fight at Bristoe Station. Until October 20th, it lay on the north bank of Bull Run, being engaged in a slight skirmish at Blackburn's Ford on the 17th.
Returning southward, from October 23rd to November 7th, camp was near Warrenton, and from November 10th to 26th near Stevensburg, VA. From the latter date to December 2nd, the regiment was on Mine Run campaign. On the morning of November 30th it was under orders and fully expected to engage in one of the most desperate charges the men ever contemplated. So hopeless did it appear that the men, not expecting to survive it, pinned upon their blouses papers upon which they had written their names for their identification. Fortunately and mercifully the order to advance was withheld. December 2nd, the regiment returned to the former camp near Stevensburg, remaining in that vicinity until the 29th, when winter quarters were fixed at Stony Mountain, a point of observation near the Rapidan, far in advance of the main line of the army.
February 6th, 1864, the regiment was engaged in the battle of Morton's Ford. The movement involved wading the icy waters of the Rapidan, charges under fire of artillery and infantry, and a hand-to-hand fight in the dark. The expedition was organized as a diversion to aid a cavalry movement to the rear of the enemy, but was mismanaged. The Fourteenth fought splendidly losing just one-half the number of men lost by the whole division.
When the army was reorganized in March the regiment became a part of the Third Brigade, Second Division, Second Army Corps.
May 4th the Rapidan was crossed, and the great forward movement of the army began; and from May 5th to June 10th, the Fourteenth was passing over the "dark and bloody ground" of Wilderness campaign, engaged at Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Tolopotomy, and Cold Harbor, losing daily valuable officers and men, experiencing the hardships, labors, perils, and sufferings incident to that unparalleled series of bloody struggles, and proving themselves veterans of the first class.
June 14th the James River was crossed, and Petersburg reached on the 15th, from which date to early August the regiment was occupied in connection with various siege operations in front of that place, taking part in a movement to Prince George Court House June 27th to 29th, and an expedition to Deep Bottom July 26th to 30th, changing camp continually.
August 12th to 21st it participated in the second expedition to Deep Bottom, involving a hard and trying march in mid-summer's heat and some severe skirmishing.
With but a few hours' rest after returning to Petersburg the command moved for the destruction of the Weldon Railroad. August 24th the men were busy destroying the road, and on the 25th were engaged at Ream's Station, in one of the hottest fights the Fourteenth ever experienced, losing some of the bravest and the best. In this engagement the regiment had the singular experience of being under fire from three directions, and of fighting some of the time from the reverse side of their own breastworks. That night the troops returned to the entrenchments near Petersburg, where the regiment remained, under artillery fire daily, doing hazardous picket duty close to the enemy's works, building or strengthening breastworks, etc., --- except while on an expedition to Prince George Court House, September 15th to 24th --- until October 25th to 29th, when it was engaged in a spirited action at Hatcher's Run (Boydton Plank Road), in which some excellent fighting was done.
In early November the regiment was on duty near Fort McGilvery, moving on the 29th farther to the left to relieve a part of the Ninth Corps, and on the 6th of December still farther on to relieve a portion of the Fifth Corps. From December 13th for a few weeks the Fourteenth had a period of comparative rest, encamped near Fort Clark. February 5, 1864, the men were ordered out of their comfortable quarters to participate in another action at Hatcher's Run, remaining on the field until the 10th, when they went into camp some miles to the left of their recent camp. On the 25th of March the regiment, with three other regiments of the brigade, all under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Moore of the Fourteenth, made a demonstration at the left of the Second Corps line, capturing the enemy's works on the farther side of Hatcher's Run, and about seventy prisoners. This movement was intended as a diversion at the time of the rebel attack upon Fort Steadman.
There followed a rest of only two days and then the brave old "Fighting Fourteenth," that had known little else than campaigning and fighting, entered on its final campaign, the movement of the Army of the Potomac that was to extinguish the Rebellion.
On the 28th of March the corps left entrenchments, and from that day on, until the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, the regiment was engaged in forced marching, skirmishing, charging earthworks and lines of battle, and pressing the flying enemy, rounding up its field history with a glory the greatest that could be coveted by the patriotic Union soldier --- "in at the death."
The march was hard and pressing, the discipline strict and the rations very scanty, but hope that the end of the war was near kept up the spirits of the men. They were at the actions at High Bridge and Farmville, April 7th, and on the 9th lifted up their voices with the victorious rejoicings that the Rebellion was crushed and the battles were over.
From April 14th to May 2nd was spent at Burksville, VA, guarding captured stores, and then the homeward march began, the Fourteenth having the honor of leading the glorious Second Corps while passing through the late rebel capital, Richmond, on the 6th. The men passed with strong emotions the places of former dreary imprisonment of some, scenes of many of their former bloody battles on the route to and at Fredericksburg and on the 15th went into camp near Alexandra, VA. On the 23rd the regiment took part in the "Grand Review" of the army at Washington. On the 30th the recruits were transferred to the Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery, and on the 30th the original members were mustered out of the United States service, near Alexandria. June 1st the joyous journey home began, and on the 3rd Hartford was reached, where a grand ovation awaited the body.
June 10th witnessed their muster-out of the State service, with a record as to battles fought, losses met, and hardships endured, unsurpassed by many regiments of the Union army, and with the proud consciousness that they had served their country in the hour of her peril and had helped to save the Union.
The service of the Fourteenth was exceptional among the Connecticut infantry regiments. Of these it was in the greatest number of battles, and in proportion to its numbers and length of service lost the largest percentage of men killed, wounded, and died in the service. It was in thirty-four battles and skirmishes, some of the battles ranking as the greatest and the most sanguinary of the war --- and the Fourteenth was in the thick of them --- while some of the skirmishes would rate as battles.
The regiment never lost a color, but captured several colors from the enemy; lost comparatively few men as prisoners, though capturing many from the foe.
For months the first State flag, rent by shell and bullet, was too much tattered to be unfurled, and the new flag with which the State replaced it (August 25, 1863) was nearly as badly wreaked before the regiment returned home.
It would appear invidious among the many brave men of this sterling old regiment, who fell or who proved their loyalty and valor in battle, to make distinctive individual mention; but we may say that the organization was fortunate to a rare degree in its leaders. Colonel Morris, commanding the brigade, and Lieutenant-Colonel Perkins, a fine and thorough soldier, the regiment, at Antietam, led their commands most gallantly, as did the latter and Major Clark the regiment at Fredericksburg, where both were disabled for further field service; while Major, subsequently Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel, Ellis, one of the most courageous, cool, and accomplished officers in the service, led it with unsurpassed valor at Gettysburg and Bristoe Station, and the regiment, and at times the brigade, through the Wilderness campaign. During much of the latter campaign (as well as at Mine Run in November preceding) and afterwards, on to the end of the war, in nearly every engagement Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, of fiery, dashing courage, led the regiment. He was ably assisted, and sometimes relieved in command, by Majors Coit, Broatch, and Hincks, and Adjutant Dotens; all men of character, ability, and staunchest courage --- all receiving high encomiums, never a censure. But most of the line officers and men at their backs had kindred bravery and deserve like praise.
Irving Moy and his friends found an article in New York Times on Ah Yu and Joseph Pierce
The New York Times
Published: July 29, 1899
Copyright (c) The New York Times
Chinamen who get pensions
Ah Yu. Who Serve on the Olympia,
Not the first on the Lists
Special to The New York Times.
Washington, July 28 ------ The granting of a pension to Ah Yu of Shanghai, China, the other day let to a report that this sailor was the first Chinaman whose services had ever been rewarded in this way by the United State Government. Ah Yu served on the Olympia in 1897, and contracted a disease while in the service which entitled him to a pension.
The Rev. H. S. Stevens, who during the Civil War was chaplain of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers, denies that Ah Yu is the first Chinaman to receive a pension. He said that a pure-blooded Chinaman served under the name of Joseph Pierce as a Corporal in Company F, Fourteenth Connecticut, during the Civil War. Mr. Stevens does not recall Pierce's Chinese name. Pierce joined the regiment on July 26, 1862, and served to the general muster-out on May 31, 1865.
"The regiment," said Mr. Stevens,"had an exceptional experience as to the number and severity of battles engaged in, hardship of campaigns, and caaualties, and 'Our Joe,' as we called him, was rarely off duty --------- a brave, capable, and faithful soldier."
Pierce, who now lives in Meriden, Conn., received a pension in 1891. Mr. Stevens says he thinks it probable that other Chinamen may have served under American names in the Civil War.
(Webmaster's note: Rev. H. S. Stevens is so right on this viewpoint.)
Webmaster Gordon Kwok (email@example.com)
August 9, 2001
Revised and uploaded on January 27, 2009