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William H Nunan (1843-1882) of Kennebunkport, Maine

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William H. Nunan
Sex: M
Birth: Sept. 1843 Provincetown, Massachusetts
Death: 24 Feb. 1882 Cape Hatien, West Indies
Father: Charles F. Nunan
Mother: Emily Tarrant
Spouse/Partner: Ann L. Nickerson
Marriage: 18 Nov. 1866


William served in the army during the Civil War in Company A of the 5th Maine infantry having enlisted 17 Sept. 1862. Due to the fact that William was a minor at the time of his enlistment his "father" had to sign a consent form to let his son join the army. This form lists a William Nunan as the father of William H. Nunan. This is a peculiar statement when so much evidence exists to show that William H. was the son of Charles and Emily. I wonder if "William Nunan" was a convienient figment of the recruitor's imagination, contrived to speed up William H.'s enlistment. Nowhere in the Kennebunkport records or elsewhere is there a mention of an older William Nunan who could have been the father of William H.

<a href="whncw1.jpg">William Nunan's enlistment papers</a>

William H. is listed on the muster rolls for Co. A, 5th Regiment Maine Infantry from Oct. 1862 until 27 July 1864.(1)

The 5th Regiment Maine Volunteers was quite famous as it was part of the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. It originally left Portland on 26 June 1861 and was involved in the battle of Bull Run in July, the Peninsula campaign and the siege of Yorktown in Apr. 1862, the battles of West Point and Mechanicsville in May, battles of Gaine’s Hill and Charles City Crossroads in June, the second battle of Bull Run and the battle of Antietam in Sept.(2)

By the time William arrived at the Regiment’s camp in Sharpsburg, MD the regiment was in very poor condition: "the regiment was now in rather bad condition, almost every man being bare-footed, with clothes ragged and soiled, and all weary and worn down."(3) The army was resupplied and they moved south on 29 Oct. ending up at New Baltimore, VA where Gov. Washburne of Maine paid a visit to the troops. During this time General McClellan was replaced by General Burnside and the army moved towards Fredericksburg. The army was forced to halt at Acquia Creek to wait for supplies to arrive from Washington, this delay gave Lee the time he needed to occupy Fredericksburg Heights. There they stayed for a month until Dec. 4th when they proceeded to White Oak Church and then to Belle Plain where they were trapped by rain, snow and mud: "It was, indeed, a cold, bleak, barren place. This was the spot selected for our encampment! Not a stick of wood within a mile and a half of the place where we halted, the wind sweeping across the plain from the river like a hurricane, exposed to a raging north-east snow-storm; and here we were expected to rest and to enjoy ourselves. It was now almost dark. Every man was wet to the skin, and literally shivering in the cold. When the men had stacked arms, and were told to pitch their tents, scarcely a man moved; but they stood looking at each other, hardly knowing what to do. The whole movement was an outrage upon humanity."(4) Permission was granted by the Colonel for the men to go to the forest to find wood which was done en masse the whole regiment, including the line officers without their muskets headed for the woods and did not return until morning. "The camp guard that night consisted of the Colonel, the Major, Adjutant, one Captain, one Lieutenant and one of General Bartlett’s Aides de Camp Alluding to the regiment away in the woods, the Colonel remarked quietly, as he looked around upon his little body of half frozen companions, ‘the boys have had it tough, and we must do guard duty. We need the exercise’. So the Colonel shouldered a musket, and for two hours and a half, kept good watch over the gun stacks."(5)

"Early upon the morning of the eleventh (Dec.) we resumed our march. About seven o’clock. The heavy booming of cannon announced to us that the battle of Fredericksburg had commenced. We moved along at an easy pace until we arrived within about one mile of the banks of the Rappahannock river, where we came to a halt, had all of our pieces loaded, and everything put in readiness for action… As we neared the heights upon the east side of the river, the musketry and artillery, in a great measure, ceased… About noon we were massed with the rest of the army in the large fields and pieces of woods upon the eastern heights, awaiting further orders. Attempts had been made in the early part of the day to effect a crossing of the river; but the vigilance of the enemy had forced back our troops, and the prospects of ultimately throwing our pontoon bridges across looked dark enough. Later in the afternoon commenced the bombardment of the city of Fredericksburg, which lay almost directly in our front… Upon the heights overlooking the city our view was perfect. The opening fire was terrible. At a given signal, long lines of guns opened simultaneously. It was truly deafening. Fast and rapidly the huge guns vomited forth their terrible shot and shell into every corner and thoroughfare in the city. The enemy’s troops were soon seen flying in all directions. Here and there the devouring element wrapped itself around dwellings, while a thick black smoke hung over the doomed city. Faster and faster the artillerists applied their energies to the consummation of their orders. Deeper and heavier grew the roar, reverberating through the woods and valleys around, the very earth trembling as with fear, as shock succeeds shock, and the terrible work increases. War seemed to have worn his deepest and blackest form, as he looked over upon this once beautiful city… But while this work was in progress, and the attention of the enemy was thus diverted from the intention of our commanders, the engineer corps had succeeded in throwing three pontoon bridges over the river; and about five o’clock, an orderly dashed up with the information that our regiment was to cross the river immediately. At once we were in motion. Upon arriving near the banks of the river, we found that one brigade was already partially across, and that a force was engaged in a sharp skirmish with the enemy. We had just arrived at the bridge, when some general ordered us to halt. It had then got to be quite dark… In a moment of two we perceived that our troops were all recrossing and we were ordered to about face, and move back to the position we had occupied during the day…. Early the following morning we were up and prepared for the duties of the day… about nine o’clock we were crossing the famous Rappahannock which was accomplished without molestation. We were immediately directed to our position in line, where we halted for a rest of a couple of hours, and for other portions of our army to cross… About noon, our immense force (though, as it proved, a small army compared with the foe) had crossed the river, and , for a long distance, both to the right and left, could be seen heavy columns of troops moving into position…. But shortly we were ordered to fall in; and first changing our direction of march one way, and then another , moving with the utmost caution, we advanced toward the front in line of battle. Marching, perhaps, twelve hundred yards, we entered the ravine… where we halted for a short time to receive orders regarding our ultimate position. As was usual, our brigade was in the first line of battle, occupying the advance of the right of Franklin’s grand division.

At two o’clock ‘fall in’ was the word and … the regiment moved up out of the ravine and forward toward the road. Scarcely had we showed our heads above the banks of the ravine, when a whole column of smoke arose from the hill-top in our direct front, while bang went a couple of shells just above us… Steadily, however, we marched to the point indicated for us, shells in the mean time bursting directly over our heads, the hundreds of pieces just skipping over us. But we reached our position in safety; and, sitting down behind the banks previously alluded to by the road, we listened for two mortal hours to the whizzing of the shells from the land of rebeldom. Some of them would strike just behind us and ricochet directly over us… It was certainly a relief to every man when the sun sank behind that contemptible range of hills, which was sweet and refreshing…. Every man slept with his musket in hand; every officer with his sword and pistol on, ready for action at a moment’s warning… The next morning before daylight we were aroused, and hastily despatching our hard bread and raw salt pork (a nice fighting ration), we were ready for the events of the day… A thick heavy fog hung over the valley, completely obscuring our position, as well as that of the enemy’s… About ten o’clock the vail rises, and we momentarily expected orders to assault the enemy’s position. But such orders did not come… The fight commenced on our right, and now upon the left. Franklin is pushing forward his left, Summer engages the right… For four hours we listen to the rattle of musketry and the deafening roar of artillery. About two o’clock in the afternoon, the enemy throw a lot of shell at us, giving us a second edition of yesterday. But Sumner… had not finished his work. He was determined to carry the hills upon the right if possible; and silently he prepared for the work. The camp fires of the enemy were burning brightly. It was dark, and possibly they little suspected an attack…. A sudden yell arose, and in a moment or two after an officer riding by told us that Sumner was making a charge. At this instant the rebel cannon opened with terrible roar… The first line of forts are reached… the task was too severe… our boys had done all they could, they had gone as far as possible, they were compelled to fall back…. We were virtually defeated…Sunday morning dawned, a clear and beautiful day. At an early hour the skirmishing of the pickets in our front commenced; but there were no appearances of a general engagement. About nine o’clock, our regiment was ordered to proceed to the front to support our pickets in case of an attack. Scarcely had we reached the lines, when an officer rode down from the enemy’s lines and ordered the pickets of the confederates to cease firing, and cried out to our pickets that ‘General Jackson desires picket firing to cease immediately upon both sides, for this day’. Not a gun was fired afterwards…As soon as it became fairly dark, we received orders to throw up a small earth-work about four feet high and an hundred yards long, in our front… From seven o’clock in the evening until half past two the next morning, we were busily engaged in the labor, having one company at work at a time, while the others rested. No man was allowed to speak above a whisper; nor was a light or the slightest noise permitted… Monday morning dawned and we were ordered back to our position in the road… The rebel general Lee has sent in a note to Burnside giving him twenty-four hours to remove the wounded from Fredericsburg, the city being in exact range of the enemy’s artillery… all day long ambulances were engaged in conveying the wounded to the rear and when night settled down upon us, we all felt that the next day would witness the most desperate struggle known in the annals of civilized warfare. Orders were given to every man to keep his equipments on, and his gun by his side…About twelve o’clock, we were aroused from our slumbers by the colonel, who hastily informed us that we were to move immediately… We had not proceeded far, when we perceived that we were to recross the river… before daylight the whole army was over, the bridges were up, all of which was accomplished without the enemy’s knowledge, and we were all quietly sleeping in the neighboring woods… the last cannon was fired, the smoke had all disappeared, the battle of Fredericksburg had closed, not a single success achieved, and about seventeen thousand men its victims…

Early in the day of December nineteenth, we moved back from the river some four miles, and went into camp near White Oak Church… for some months elapsed before we again broke camp… Furnished in the main with shelter tents, the men made excavations in the earth of some three or four feet in depth, and five or six feet square, erecting over them their shelter tents making the interior of their house six or seven feet in height. Many built hot fires in the excavations for a day or two, thus hardening the sides and the bottom of the ground, and which protected them, in a degree, from the cold and dampness of the ground. In one side of the square they formed a fireplace which was their means of warmth and comfort, and extended the flue upward for the escape of the smoke, by forming a chimney of small sticks which was plastered with mud both inside and out. The interior of each house was arranged according to the fancy of each occupant…. Cleanliness, as well as it could be observed, was a matter of pride with our men; and to this fact may be attributed much of the good health of the regiment…

On the eighth of January, the resignation of Colonel Scamman was accepted; and upon the morning of the ninth, he bade us farewell, and started upon his homeward journey…The command of the regiment now devolved upon Lieutenant Colonel Clark S. Edwards… Tuesday morning, the twentieth of January, opened dark and cloudy, all appearances foreshadowing a storm… about nine o’clock in the morning, the final order reached us, that our division would move in heavy marching order at twelve o’clock, noon, and at which time we were directed to be in line… At noon precisely, we moved forward, taking our route through fields and woods, it being much better traveling, we were told, for the infantry, than upon the main highway, which was filled with teams, artillery, and cavalry… Our route of march lay through swamps and woods, presenting a very disagreeable appearance, and afforded nothing of interest… All the afternoon we marched on, though the distance gone over was not much, only nine miles, when, just as darkness came on, we were ordered into a piece of woods to encamp for the night. It required but a few moments to pitch our camp of shelter tents, while the busy axe soon leveled trees in every direction, and huge log fires gave forth their cheering light and heat. A dipper of water and coffee attached to a stick and held over the fire, soon gave the soldier his quart of refreshing beverage…all were soon lost in sleep… The torrents of the night… had set the soil in commotion, and a deep coating of mud was everywhere visible. A dozen pieces of cannon… were stuck fast in the mud… men picking their way along in all manners and shapes on one side of the road, and then upon the other, tumbling down into masked mud holes, jumping over logs, pushing through bushes, then briers, I know not what, horses half up to their bodies in mud, riders cutting up all sorts of antics, everybody and everything covered with the ‘sacred soil’…We go down to the banks of the river to see what it is that attract so many there… The rebels, acquainted with our dilemma, have erected upon the other shore signs printed in large letters, ‘Burnside stuck in the mud’… at an early hour on Sunday morning we took up the line of march for the old encampment…

Early in the spring, General Hooker assumed command of the army and the expectations of the men were high…

One day two horsemen came riding into camp. Evidently they were two cavalry men upon a pleasure trip. Dismounting at one of the cook tents, one of them inquired of the occupants,

"Well, boys, how do you fare nowadays?"

"Hard" was the reply, and evidence in the shape of a box of moldy hard bread being introduced to corroborate the statement.

"Little rough", says the stranger and rode away.

The next day better bread and more of it was distributed… The horsemen were General Hooker and a corps inspector…

Every member connected with the regiment remembers the grand review by General Hooker and the President upon the third of April of this year. Never did troops present a grander spectacle than upon that occasion… the troops which were on review that day… were about eighty thousand infantry, twenty thousand cavalry, and between four hundred and five hundred pieces of artillery…

On the morning of the twenty-eight of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, our regiment was ordered out on picket…About noon our final orders came to move at once in heavy marching order… we moved out of our encampment at a rapid pace, and marched to the banks of the Rappahannock river, resuming the same position that we occupied in the campaign of the previous December. Here we bivouacked for the night.

The next morning opened very foggy… We were within gun-shot of the enemy’s picket lines upon the other side of the river… We were all ready to go down the banks of the river when a full chorus of bullets from the other side, whistling their infernal songs, skipped over our heads… Cautiously we proceeded down the banks of the river, and embarked in pontoon boats which were to convey us over, and which were so arranged as to receive an entire brigade. Each boat carried some sixty or seventy men… Before we had effected a landing another body of troops had gained a foothold and forming at once in line charged up the opposite banks and reached the enemy’s picket line almost before he was aware of their presence. At once they opened a hot fire… but not until a full volley had been received by our men in the boats which resulted in a loss to us of two men killed and nine wounded…Having secured the enemy’s picket line… the advance commenced. All of our operations were now upon the same ground as were those of the last campaign. Slowly we advanced across the plain which we knew to be in our front. Now the line of skirmishers would advance a few rods, halt, while a brief cavalry reconnoisance would be made, supported by a battery of field pieces wheeled into line, then an advance of the infantry… we spent nearly three hours, until about ten o’clock in the morning the fog suddenly lifted and we saw plainly where we were. We had approached near the ravine and road… a little more than midway across the plain… Having secured a crossing and a foot hold that seemed to be the entire desire or aim of our commanders for that time at least.

The succeeding day proved to be one of quiet. Our regiment moved out from their temporary camp of the day before, and performed picket duty on the extreme advance. The picket lines, the Union and the rebel, were so near together, that conversation between the two could be easily carried on. Some trading of coffee for tobacco was indulged in, coffee being as great a luxury to the Reb, as good tobacco was to the Yank.

Night came on… strict orders were issued prohibiting fires or conversation above a whisper in our own ranks, while both officers and men were enjoined to keep the sharpest lookout, as the rebel pickets were but a few yards off on an open and unobstructed plain… Back and forth we paced on the designated beats, with our eyes constantly on the ghost-moving sentinels of the foe… A heavy fog coldly enveloped us in complete gloom. Early in the forenoon we were relieved by the noble Sixth Maine and some other troops, who soon opened a severe and rapid fire upon the enemy… A deep wooded ravine on which rested our right flank ran up and by the rebel line to the foot of the height. A small force of Union troops were quietly sent up this ravine… all at once the enemy received a deadly fire in flank and rear from an unseen foe and without waiting for an investigation gave way in confusion… our own picket line no less astonished perhaps than the rebs at this unexpected turn in affairs improving the opportunity afforded by the confusion of the enemy dashed forward with a cheer and drove the whole line pell-mell under cover of their fortifications…

Our blankets had from exposure to fog and mist becomes very wet. It was necessary that they should be dried. So a long line of guns were inserted, the bayonets sticking in the ground, thus answering as poles, and upon these the blankets were hung up to dry, forming, of course, a perfect screen. Behind these, with shovel and pick, our men worked with a will, and succeeded in throwing up quite formidable entrenchments to our great satisfaction, and of which the enemy were in blissful ignorance…

Saturday, May second… was a beautiful and quiet day for us, until about four o’clock in the afternoon when we began to assume a threatening attitude…the picket lines opened a severe fire upon each other… our boys charged the foe, driving him a long distance, and securing thereby quite an advantage for us by advanced ground.

Sunday morning between one and two o’clock, the quick but whispered commands of our officers aroused us from our slumbers and bade us be ready for action…We soon found ourselves massed in heavy column with other troops… A message was received from Hooker stating that all was going well… Our artillery threw a few shots and then our lines seemed to be somewhat deployed… we moved forward about sunrise into the ravine… about eight o’clock in the morning orders came for us to move about half a mile to the left. So up and out of the ravine we moved rapidly by the flank. Scarcely had we exhibited our forms before the enemy opened his batteries which were placed near the base of the heights, with a fearful fire upon us… our parrotts, ten guns in number, were pouring into the enemy’s batteries such a fire as caused them to be glad to flee in hot haste. Perceiving their batteries crippled the infantry supports were at once broken, and those who could get away, seemed to fly on the wind… At this instant our brigade, having completed its move to the left was ordered forward toward the front… We moved forward perhaps an eighth of a mile under a terrible fire… and pass through a narrow ravine extending to the right. Perceiving our movement the enemy literally showered shot and shell in upon the opening of the ravine… we lost in killed and wounded in a place not twenty feet square eighteen of our number… Filling at once under the bank of a stream which ran near by, the regiment halted while the remainder of the division assumed their positions. Shielded in a measure from the screaming shells which seemed to fill the air we listened to the roar… almost every moment some poor fellow received the terrible assurance of the presence of shot and shell… Under the banks of the stream, which were, perhaps, ten or twelve feet high, lay the boys all in heavy marching order. Down through the ravine tears a solid shot and in its progress, it struck the knapsack of a soldier, tearing it off from his back and scattering its contents a part of which was his rations of pork and hard bread, on every hand and the force of the blow rolling the soldier over two or three times. Picking himself up, he looked around, examined himself to see if he was all right and looking up with a half grin upon his usually rigid features quietly remarked, as he contemplated the general smash up of his knapsack’s contents, ‘golly, boys, five days rations gone to thunder’. A roar of laughter greeted this coolness, and made us forget for a moment the awful danger to which we were exposed…

The troops remained in this position until late in the forenoon when all being in readiness the ever memorable charge upon St. Mary’s heights was commenced, made and proved a success… our regiment was ordered out of the ravine, and was engaged in the work of watching any offensive movements of a rebel battery near by… An order from General Hooker had directed General Sedgwick to advance toward Chancellorsville and form a junction with the main army… Brooks’ division (in which was the Fifth Maine) which now took the lead, had advanced as far as Salem Church on the Chancellorsville pike when instead of meeting with any portion of Hooker’s army a few shells from rebel guns warned the division of the presence of the enemy. A dense thicket was in front, and Bartlett’s brigade, which had the advance, was deployed to skirmish and to ascertain the position of the concealed foe. Presently, having fallen upon a strong line of skirmishers, the brigade was formed in line of battle, with the Twenty-seventh New York on the right, then the Fifth Maine, then the One Hundred and Twenty-first New York, and on the left the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania; the Sixteenth New York holding the skirmish line in front. The skirmish line was then advanced to the thicket, the Sixteenth New York driving the rebel skirmishers, the brigade following closely. At the edge of the thicket the brigade was halted; but being ordered by General Brooks to advance rapidly, they pushed on again. Advancing through the thicket some thirty rods, the brigade suddenly found itself face to face with a rebel line. The confederates were lying down in a road which traversed the thicket; and when the Union line was within about twenty yards, they suddenly discharged a volley, which, had it been well aimed, must have almost annihilated the brigade; but the fire was returned with effect, and presently the enemy was glad to leave the road which was almost filled with their dead and wounded, and seek shelter behind their rifle pits… The Union forces occupied the road, and directed their fire against the works; but the rebel fire cut down their unprotected ranks… For fifteen minutes the regiments endured this murderous fire and then fell back in good order, losing in twenty minutes nearly seven hundred men…At one time receiving a most fearful fire both from their front and upon the flank, the troops upon their right having been overpowered and driven back, the enemy swung round upon the Fifth, nearly surrounding it, pouring in a terrible fire of musketry… falling back upon the main line they were able to hold their position. Our loss in the engagements of the day, was just one-third of our regiment, with which we started in the morning, one hundred and one…

The morning finally came, too soon to many, and with it the disheartening knowledge that the enemy had, during the knight, sent a large force and reoccupied Fredericksburg Heights, and thus cutting off the Sixth Corps entirely… In fine, nearly the whole of Lee’s army was in their front, a large force upon their left, the rebels with heavy columns in their rear, and an impassable river upon their right… The only avenue of escape was by a single road leading to a ford above the city of Fredericsburg some six or seven miles… The day passed comparatively quiet until about five o’clock in the afternoon… In front was the Third Brigade holding a crest which overlooked a ravine… In the rear… the Vermont Brigade was strongly posted, forming the second line of battle. There were in each of these two brigades about three thousand men… At five o’clock the rebel hordes came with deafening yells upon the division. The divisions of the rebel Generals Early, Anderson, and McLaws rushed upon the single brigade of less than three thousand men… The stubborn resistance of the brigade prevented the rebels from piercing our lines and cutting off our retreat and thus… enabled the corps to cross at Banks’ Ford. But the cost was great. Over one thousand men fell upon that crest. General Howe now ordered the brigade to fall back… The rebels thinking this to be a retreat, followed with yells of exultation, but were met by the second line of battle, which, from its position behind the swell of ground, was concealed, with a murderous fire which sent them reeling back to the cover of the first ravine… It was now nearly dark, and the reception which the rebels had received, had so completely routed and broken them that they made no further attempt upon our lines… As soon as daybreak the following morning the corps recrossed the Rappahannock on pontoon bridges, but not without the utmost difficulty; one bridge being destroyed by rebel artillery, and the other barely saved from destruction long enough to allow the troops to pass hurriedly over. The Fifth Maine Regiment was the last to cross over the river upon the bridge, their duty being to cover the retreat. The several commands had now returned to their old quarters; and hence the Fifth was again enjoying the rest which might be gained in its old camp near White Oak Church… Upon the sixth of June… came the order to strike tents and pack up preparatory to another forward movement… Reaching the banks of the Rappanhannock, the pontoon bridges being in readiness, the regiment crossed at the same old place, this time unmolested, though not unnoticed. The regiment took up a position somewhat to the left of the former position, near a place called the ‘Barnard House’…At an early hour the next morning, June eighth, the men were detailed on fatigue duty, and spent the entire day in throwing up breastworks, digging rifle-pits, and putting several guns into position…

On the ninth of June, the regiment was thrown out on picket on what is known as the Bowling Green Road. Fortifications were in progress of erection all day long…upon the eleventh, orders were received to be ready to march at short notice. It was not, however, until the night of the thirteenth that definite orders came, and the march commenced… Soon after dark, that the movement might not be discovered by the watchful though evidently lazy rebs, the command moved out of their entrenchments, taking a route towards Potomac Creek…

On the morning of the fifteenth the troops reached Strafford Court House where a halt for rest was directed, but only about two hours had gone by when ‘fall in’ was the order, and an all day march was the next scene in the tragedy of the campaign… The march was continued the greater portion of the next day, at the conclusion of which, the command went into camp at Fairfax Court House. The next day was one of rest, greatly to the joy of the weary men.

On the eighteenth another movement was made, marching this time to Chantilly, where, in a beautiful grove the regiment went into camp…

On the evening of the twenty-fifth of June, orders came for an immediate movement. Down came the tents, knapsacks were packed, and amid a severe rain storm, the regiment marched to Fairfax Station. This movement was said by some to be a support to a cavalry raid; others thought that an attack on the station was intended to be made by the enemy… no attack was made and after waiting as patiently as men hungry, tired, sleepy, and wet could do, they resumed their march back to their former camp ground amid the darkness, rain, and mud…

Scarcely had the regiment got into a posture in which to rest, before orders were issued for another immediate movement. A hasty meal was taken, and at three o’clock in the morning, the troops were again on the tramp… All the morning, all day long the rain poured and the men tramped, tramped, marching that day twenty-five miles, and this following a sleepless night… June twenty-seventh. The regiment was in line at three o’clock in the morning and marched fifteen miles, crossing the Potomac River on pontoon bridges. June twenty-eighth, Sunday, a march of twenty miles was made on this day, and at night the regiment went into camp near Hyattsville.

Early Monday morning- it was half past two- the command was again aroused, and without any delay, proceeded at once upon the road. A march of seventeen miles was made before the men were allowed to halt sufficiently to make that necessary beverage to the soldier- coffee… a hasty breakfast was prepared and the march was again resumed, making the distance traveled in all for the day, twenty-five miles…

The regiment camped this night near Windsor…The men fared well at this place. The citizens seemed to extend to them a hearty welcome, freely opening their store houses, bringing out provisions…

The next morning, June thirtieth, the regiment was again upon the move… Information was received that the enemy were gradually falling back before the advance… In the march today an almost perfect ovation met the command at Westminster… Cherries and other fruit were in abundance… The ladies of the town turned out en masse to the work of preparing bread and other provisions for the men, furnishing them with milk, meat, etc…

The following day the regiment was allowed a rest… until about nine o’clock in the evening, when orders came to march at once to Gettysburg… It was now certainly known that the enemy had invaded northern soil… About eleven o’clock the command was halted and after a tarry of about one hour, the information was received that they had taken the wrong road… the starting up and the turning of them around to retrace their steps, caused much strong language. This night’s march was one of the most severe of the campaign. Those who have never had the experience, would hardly believe it possible, that one could sleep while marching, yet many there were who actually slept while moving on their way… All night long the command… moved on… brief halts were made for rest and to take a bite of hard tack… during the entire march, which extended from nine o’clock of the evening of July first until four o’clock the following afternoon, nineteen hours, no halt was made long enough to make a drop of coffee… The distant roar of the cannon told them that the conflict, which was supposed to be in the vicinity of Gettysburg, had begun…

Upon the arrival of the corps at Gettysburg, a short halt for rest (2 hours) was made, and then they were at once pressed forward into position…. Forming themselves into line of battle, the left of the regiment resting upon the side of Little Round Top (the regiment held this position until after Pickett’s charge), attached to Bartlett’s brigade of Wright’s division, a point which was so prominent on this battle field. As our corps came up, the enemy fell back and hence a position was gained with but little comparative difficulty."(6) "The Confederate attack was so far exhausted that the Fifth did no fighting, although about 7:15 PM when the troops of Ayres of the Fifth corps were coming out, it moved thirty or forty rods to the front down into the Plum Run lowlands. In this movement the regiment secured two or three Confederates in a house to the right of the cross-road which leads to the Peach Orchard."(7) "That night the entire force lay upon their arms ready for action at a single moment’s notice.

In the evening about ten o’clock a detachment of three companies of the regiment… made a reconnoisance in front of our line, the object being to recover if possible, a portion of the Ninth Massachusetts battery which had been captured by the enemy during the previous afternoon, but which had not been conveyed away. If was a most brave and gallant undertaking, and resulted in bringing in one brass piece, two caissons, and one limber… the men drew the pieces in by hand… Some few prisoners were also secured in this brilliant dash…

The next morning, July third, dawned bright and beautiful… Heavy and severe skirmishing was in constant progress in front… Taking advantage of the many rocks which lay in their vicinity, they soon erected some admirable breastworks of the rocks and stones, and which proved to be of great benefit at a later period in the day (and which remain to the present time)… During the forenoon… the conflict was comparatively light… about one o’clock in the afternoon, opened the terrible artillery duel which has been pronounced the severest cannonading ever known upon the American continent. Shells burst in and around the ranks of the regiment, solid shot ploughed the ground both in front and the rear, the air seemed filled with the missiles of death, and yet during the entire two hours’ bombardment the regiment lost only three wounded. The stone breastworks saved our men wonderfully…"(8) "Then came the famous charge of Pickett, which was against the centre of the Union line, while we were further to the left. On the evening of July 3d three companies of the regiment went forward towards the Emmitsburg road to reconnoitre, to look for men who had been wounded the day before and to bring them in…" (9) Night finally closed around and with it came the belief that our forces were victorious… The night… was extremely disagreeable… the rain fell in torrents. Not even a shelter tent to protect from the water. The position of the regiment was such that the men had to lie on the large flat rocks which they held, and which certainly did not afford a very easy couch for weary limbs. Soldiers had become accustomed to pretty hard beds, but the resting places near Little Round Top were a little too hard.

<img src="compass.gif"> <a href="npstourmapt.jpg"> Map of Gettysburg National Military Park</a><p> On the morning of the fourth the division… was ordered forward to feel of the reb’s position… The command found them in force a few miles distant, and after a short engagement returned to the old position…

On the Fifth of July about noon, commenced… a march of some six miles… when the rear guard of the enemy was overtaken, where a slight skirmishes was indulged in (at Fairfield, Funkstown and Williamsport) , a few shell, probably as a parting token, scattering their complimentary fragments round about…

July sixth proved to be a very foggy and stormy day, while the roads were heavy, rendering marching very slow and tedious…

July seventh. Today the regiment made a march of twenty four miles… A portion of the night of July eighth was spent upon the march. It rained very hard, and the night was very dark… It became necessary to climb over a mountain. The road… was but a foot path… the path seemed to have no end… the mud rendered it very slippery… the progress was very slow… Along the side of the narrow path could be seen increasing numbers of ‘played out’ soldiers, who had lain down exhausted… The difficulty experienced of climbing over fallen trees, rocks, etc. in pitch darkness suggested the idea in one Yankee’s head of lighting his bit of candle. His example was soon followed by one after another, until a continuous line of twinkling lights could be seen up the steep sides of the mountain… It was nearly midnight before our own boys began to fall out through sheer exhaustion and by one o’clock… there remained about twenty or twenty five men with the colors who at once dropped upon the ground and were soon asleep notwithstanding the falling rain… The regiment remained at this point until about nine o’clock when most of the absentees having come up they were again on the move…A march of eight miles was made and again the regiment was in camp and this time short of rations…The next morning brought a generous supply of rations… which caused a great rejoicing…

At five o’clock, July tenth, the command was on the march, advancing up to Antietam Creek, until they found the enemy in force, and then the regiment was sent out on picket…

The next morning the Fifth was relieved by the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania… Five o’clock on the morning of July twelfth, found the troops again in motion the advance being made toward Hagerstown… the enemy seemed to fall back before the advance and soon the town was once more in Union possession… In the afternoon another advance was made… moving on to a place called Funkstown. At this place the enemy were found in considerable force and a battalion consisting of three companies from each regiment in the brigade was sent out to engage them. The fight was sharp, but of not long duration resulting in the repulse of the enemy…

Though the next day proved to be stormy… yet the time was… occupied in throwing up breastworks and digging rifle pits and listening to the picket firing which at times was sharp and brisk..

On the fourteenth another advance was made to Williamsport. At this place the enemy was again encountered and a sharp fight occurred… and which resulted in the rout of the foe and the capture of about fifteen hundred prisoners by our troops…

July 15th. The command moved away from the river towards Boonsboro…

July 16th. Today the regiment marched to Berlin, thence to South Mountain over which they passed and thence to Petersville…

On the 17th the rain poured in torrents… the Fifth was not again upon the march until the twenty third when they were aroused at three o’clock in the morning, crossed the Potomac and marched for White Plains…

On the twenty fourth the onward march was again resumed, moving on toward New Baltimore, but the day’s work did not end until eleven o’clock in the evening…

Reveille sounds early on the morning of the twenty fifth, and soon the command was on its way toward Warrenton, which place was reached about the middle of the forenoon. Moving on the twenty sixth about one mile out of the village the brigade went into camp in a beautiful location (New Baltimore)… the regiment remained in this vicinity until the sixteenth of September… with only one or two incidents of any special note to break up the monotony. One of those was the execution of one of the members of Company D who upon the fourteenth of August was shot to death by sentence of general court martial for the crime of aggravated desertion… Forming three sides of a square with open ranks sufficiently wide for a team to pass between, the men facing inward the execution party appear at one opening and proceed to march between the ranks… The order of the procession was first a guard, followed by the shooting detail, the culprit in an open baggage cart seated upon his coffin and attended by his religious adviser while these were followed by another guard and all under the charge of the officer of the day… As soon as the procession began to move the band… commenced playing the death march… As he passed our regiment he waved his hand saying ‘good bye boys’. Reaching the outer side of the square the procession halted, the culprit alighted and after being blindfolded knelt upon his coffin and at a given signal the shooting party… discharged their pieces at the heart of the deserter… the command closed ranks broke into column and marched past the body of the culprit who lay just as he fell…

On the fifteenth of September orders came for the brigade to be ready to move, and at five, AM on the sixteenth, they were again on the march, advancing as far as Warrenton where they camped for the night. The next day they proceeded as far as Culpepper, (Stonehouse Mountain) where they again encamped… Our camp life… ended on the morning of October fifth when orders from head quarters directed us to strike our tents and to enter upon a tour of picket duty near the Rapidan (between Cedar Mountain and Raccoon Ford)…. At the expiration of six days we again packed up our effects and commenced a rear movement, marching upon the tenth of October back to Culpepper… Reaching Culpepper we made coffee, and partaking of a hasty meal, proceeded down the railroad, marching as far as Rappahannock Station upon the northern side of the Rappahannock River…

The following afternoon… we recrossed the river and engaged the rebels advance guard driving them back… They speedily sought refuge back in the town of Culpepper while we… fell back ourselves to a point called Brandy Station.

On the fourteenth of October we resumed our backward movement marching as far as Chantilly, a point between Centerville and Fairfax Courthouse…. We had scarcely got settled before an alarm spread through the camp that the enemy was advancing and we were ordered to prepare at once for action… News reached us that the enemy were indeed advancing… but… it proved to be only a reconnoissance of the enemy…

We remained in this place about five days when we again strike tents and abandoning the retreat, conclude to resume the advance… our marching brought us back to the vicinity of Warrenton where we were destined to remain a little over two weeks...

The Evening of the sixth of November… orders were promulgated… to be ready to move at an early hour… At seven o’clock the next morning the columns began to move… Halting about noon to prepare our dinner… of… pork, bread and coffee, were suddenly disturbed by the roar of artillery and the sounds of sharp musketry some distance in our advance… About one o’clock in the afternoon, we found ourselves in the vicinity of Rappahannock Station… From our position to the banks of the river which were quite high above the water, the ground was gently rising. Upon the banks of the river the enemy had thrown up one or two forts which were protected by a battery of ten pound guns and stretching out for a third of a mile upon the right and for a short distance upon the left were strong lines of breast works and rifle pits… Later in the afternoon… the Sixth Maine ahead supported by the Fifth Wisconsin made a brilliant charge upon the left of the enemy’s position sweeping over his works and… secured an important foothold upon the rebel’s strong position…

It may have been about three o’clock in the afternoon when the colonel’s assistant adjutant general rode up to Colonel Edwards and directed our regiment in company with the One Hundred and Twenty First New York to fall in and we were at once placed in line of battle and prepared for an advance… the first two regiments advanced in line from under the cover of the woods, and commenced their march across the open plain… Possibly we might have approached to within five hundred yards of their works… when a few shells seemed to say to us, you are near enough and we were at once halted and there in the very face… of the enemy… we very quietly proceeded to stack our arms and rest… the men proceeded to kindle fires and make their coffee…

The night was dark…It had got to be between eight and nine o’clock… when the order was whispered from one to another ‘get up quick, fall in, silently and lively’… Every movement was conducted as silently as possible… we were to advance… to storm them under the cover of the friendly darkness… ‘Steadily’ whispers an officer…A flash, a bullet sings by our colors. Quick the alarm rings through the enemy’s works. Another flash. ‘Lie down, unsling knapsacks’ is the quick order of Colonel Edwards. At the next instant from over the rifle pits flashes a full volley of musketry. The prostrate position of the men had saved great slaughter… ‘Fifth Maine and One Hundred and Twenty First New York honor the flag of the United States, forward!’… ‘Double quick! Charge!’ shouted our commander… our boys spring forward with a yell which was both terrible and deafening. In an instant almost before the rebs had a second opportunity to fire our boys were in the rifle pits had gained the breastworks… Over the works up into the fortifications our boys rush… On every side the enemy throw down their guns… Hand to hand was now the conflict… The works were ours and the band of five hundred and fifty men were victorious… So surprised were the rebels that in many instances almost whole companies surrendered up to two or three of our boys… to the disordered minds of the enemy they might have almost thought that the whole Union army was upon them… Colonel Edwards took a few men from Company G and pressed on in quest of prisoners… he saw before him a long line of troops in the rifle pits. Finding that he was in a tight fix he determined to put on a bold face.

‘Where is the officer in command of these troops?’ demanded the colonel.
‘Here’ answered a colonel who was commanding the rebel brigade, ‘and who are you sir?’
‘My name is Colonel Edwards of the Fifth Maine, and I demand you to surrender your command.’
‘I will confer with my officers first’, replied the rebel officer.
‘Not a moment will I allow sir,’ said Colonel Edwards. ‘Don’t you see my columns advancing? (pointing to a large body of men marching over a slight eminence, but who were the rebel prisoners being marched to the rear). Your forces on the right have all been captured and your retreat is cut off’ and as the rebel commander hesitated, he continued, ‘Forward, Fifth Maine and One Hundred and Twenty First New York!’
‘I surrender, sir,’ said the rebel commander quickly…
‘Now order your men to lay down their arms and pass to the rear with this guard’.

They obeyed and a whole brigade of Louisianians permitted themselves to be disarmed and marched to the rear as prisoners of war by Colonel Edwards and less than a dozen men of his regiment…. A few rebels got away by swimming the river…

More than twelve hundred prisoners were captured. The battle flags of the four regiments who had opposed us were captured by men in our regiment (Corp. Theodore Shackford, Co. A, that of the Fifty-Fourth North Carolina)… Our loss in this engagement was… an aggregate of thirty five loss…

<img src="spinning.gif"> <a href="rapp.gif"> Map of the Battle of Rappahannock Station</a><p> The next morning we were up bright and early, and having disposed of our breakfast, we were soon again upon the march. We at once crossed the river, but found that the rebels had fled… We marched to a point near Brandy Station, where we went into temporary camp. The weather was now terrible cold, and huge log fires were appreciated.

On the morning of the tenth, a large detachment of the regiment… proceeded in light marching order to General Meade’s headquarters for the purpose of presenting the flags which had been captured to the general… High compliments were bestowed upon the bravery manifested by the command…

The following morning we marched some three miles and went into camp near Hazel River (Jacob’s Ford)…

At six o’clock on the morning of the twenty-sixth of November we were all ready for a movement and at seven o’clock we commenced our forward march. It was a bitter cold morning… The roads were not in a very good condition and so after a march of a few miles we found it necessary to assist the teams along in many cases the horses being unable to draw them through the mudholes on the way… Sometimes down would break a cart. ‘Tip it over out of the way, demolish its contents’ would be the instructions… They worked until nearly eleven o’clock at night… Our Thanksgiving dinner and supper that day consisted of fat raw pork, hard bread and cold water…

On Friday morning at five o’clock we were again in line and soon after we were pushing rapidly forward toward the Rapidan River which we crossed at eight o’clock the same morning… About noon we were again in motion but had proceeded only about one mile before we heard heavy musketry in our front… about three o’clock we were advancing in line toward the battlefield (Orange Grove)… and for an hour or two our ranks received their full share of shot, shell, and bullets. Nearing a point within about five hundred yards of the rebel position we threw up a sort of breastwork made out of fence rails… As soon as the sun had set, the enemy fell back and left us in possession of the field… At one o’clock the following morning we were aroused and at once put into motion pursuing the enemy toward Robinson’s Tavern (on the Orange turnpike, near Mine Run) which place we reached about sunrise…

Skirmishing was going on in our front and about eight o’clock we were deployed into line of battle and advanced toward a piece of woods called the Wilderness…we managed to advance… perhaps three miles into this forest to find the rebs… Finally we reached the top of a hill which overlooked a plain beyond and also another gentle rise less than a mile away, but upon which the enemy were posted in one of the strongest positions we ever beheld. We reached this point about noon, wet to the skin, a severe rain having fallen all the forenoon…

The next day was Sunday, and strange to relate it was a quiet and peaceful day except a little picket firing along the line. Though the rain had ceased yet it was cloudy and unpleasant. Besides it was very cold so cold that water froze hard. No fires were allowed… if fires were allowed our position might be easily determined by the enemy, who might make it very unpleasant for us. So, running about to keep warm, the day passed…

At two o’clock on Monday morning we were aroused… and without waiting for any breakfast our brigade commenced a movement to the right of our position. We marched perhaps a mile… when we were halted and stacking arms we remained… awaiting orders. General Warren was to make a demonstration upon the left, the center was to be pressed forward, while our corps, by making a mighty charge was to turn the enemy’s flank… the left throws itself upon the foe… the fight grows terrible… The news flies… through the ranks. General Warren has failed! The enemy is too strong! We shall not charge… On Tuesday morning the army began to fall back… After falling back some fifteen miles, we went into camp near the Rapidan (Germania Ford)… December third we continued our retreating march arriving about noon back to our old quarters (Wellford’s Ford on the Major plantation), finding our camps in good condition… the men set themselves to the work of arranging their camp, and securing a comfortable home for the winter.

The timber upon the ground afforded abundant material… Immediately upon entering upon this ground, the camp, with all of its streets, walks, parade, etc., was laid out with scrupulous exactness, and every man was expected to conform to regulations… A sidewalk about four feet wide made of small limbs of trees about two inches through lain down cross wise and secured by long rails pinned to the earth, ran through every street… one could step from any tent and traverse the entire encampment upon this walk. The houses were built of logs split in two, the flat sides neatly hewn to a smooth surface and placed outward… the ends dovetailed, thus rendering them warm and tight. These houses were built about five feet high, and about six feet long and wide. The roofs were steep, formed of the shelter tents, thus affording plenty of height and admitting the light. The interiors were models of neatness nearly all of the walls being covered with paper and pictures. Each house was the quarters of four men, two bunks being placed one above the other, each wide enough for two, across the inner end of the house. The chimneys were built by the entrance of the house. Though small, yet these houses were very comfortable and cosy and pleasant…

Our only communication with the main body was by a pontoon bridge which was extremely liable to be carried away by every rise of water in the river. Captain Walker was… directed to build a substantial bridge. Upon examining the resources at his command, it was found to consist of an axe and shovel to each man, one two inch auger, one one inch auger, one cross cut saw, and one chisel. With this small compliment of tools, and not a stick of timber cut, a trestle bridge two hundred and forty feet in length and twenty five in height together with seven hundred and fifty yards of corduroy road necessary to reach it, was built in three days’ time employing less than a dozen men. It was constructed entirely of round timber cut from the woods and would bear wagon trains or artillery…

Our opera house… was about forty feet long, twenty wide and perhaps ten feet high. The roof was formed of branches of trees laid upon rails stretching from one side to another. A stage was arranged at one end and a curtain of various materials answered for a drop scene. The seats were made by driving crotched sticks into the earth and placing a round pole from one to the other… Entertainments were frequently given. The orchestra was a very good affair, as we had good musicians. The ladies in the camp kindly donated their second best dresses, and sometimes made costumes.. admission was always low, only one-fifth of a soldier’s day’s wages- ten cents…

A fine chapel for religious purposes was also erected in our regiment… This was built of logs with considerable taste, and covered with a large canvas which was kindly furnished by the so called ‘Christian Association’…

Races were a favorite amusement… some fine horses were owned by different members of the brigade and… was sure to call out a crowd and sometimes… a large part of a man’s spare wages…Foot races among the men were frequently indulged in… baseball and football were favorite amusements among the soldiers and afforded recreation which was highly appreciated…

On the twenty seventh of February eighteen hundred and sixty four all of the able bodied men were in line and off upon a tour… Our troops marched on through Culpepper to a place called James City… Early the following morning we were again upon the march moving slowly toward Robertson’s River and halting at a place about three miles from Madison Court House… on the morning of the second of March we turned our faces campward. The roads were terrible, the mud heavy, sticky, deep, yet… the command marched twenty eight miles carrying their usual burdens…"(10)

On 23 Apr. 1864 William was transferred to the Navy:

"Head Quarters, 1st Division 6th Corps
April 15th 1864
Brig- Genl S. Williams Adjt Genl Army of Potomac

Sir,

In compliance with Par 2 Genl Order No 12 Hd Qrs ( ) the board appointed by Genl Orders No 16 Hd Qrs 6th Corps to examine applications for transfer to the Naval Service have the honor to report that a personal examination has been made of the following named applicant and that they come within the provisions of Genl Orders No 12 Hd Qrs Army of Potomac

Facts Nature
Name Rank Co Regt Term of Service Merchant Sailor of
Expires Service Service Evidence
William H Nunan Private A 5th Maine Vol Sept 1865 4 years --- Affidavit

Jas. N. Duffy
Lt. Col. 3rd N.J. V. and President
Examining Board"

"Head Quarters, Army of the Potomac
Special Orders
April 19th 1864
No. 108

1. In compliance with the requirements of Genl. Order Nos 91 and 123 of March 4 "and 23", 1864, from the War Dept. the following named enlisted men have been selected for transfer to the Navy, and will be sent in the most expeditious manner to the Naval Station at Baltimore, Md, under the charge of an officer to be detailed by the Corps Commander. The officer in charge of the detachment will be furnished with complete discharges and final statements, which will be turned over with the men to the Commandant of the Station. The Quartermaster's Department will furnish the necessary transportation.

Private Wm H. Nunan Co. A. 5th Maine Vols.

By command of
Maj. Genl. Meade
S'd) S. Williams
A. A. Genl.

Head Qrs 6th Corps
April 21st 1864
Official- Division Commanders will have the men sent to the Provost Marshal's Office at these Hd Qrs. at half past seven o'clock tomorrow morning 22 inst.

By Command of
Maj. Genl. Sedwick"(11)

William Nunan's transfer papers<a href="whncw2.jpg">Page 1</a>, <a href="whncw3.jpg">Page 2</a><p> At this point William was transferred to the Navy as is noted above, however, he is not listed in any of the Navy records. However, if he was transferred to the Merchant Marine then the records would not be in with those who were in the "Sailor Service", ie. Naval records. The muster rolls for Co. A list him as having transferred to the Navy in April, and on the Muster Out Roll dated Portland, 27 July 1864 he is listed as having "transf. to Navy April 23, 1864 by order of Genl. Sedgwick". He is not listed on the muster rolls for May or June of that year. However, for historical interest, we will continue with the history of the Fifth Maine Regiment.

"General Grant was now in command of the army… It was on the third day of May 1864 that the command again struck tents and with knapsacks packed, rations and ammunition duly distributed… moving with the rest of the division rapidly out upon the road which leads to the Rapidan River. Crossing the river at Germania Ford upon pontoon bridges which had been lain the day before, the regiment moved on about three miles to the south of the Ford and went into camp…

Early the next morning… scattering shots were heard in the distance… Advancing a short distance the command entered a field where a line of battle was formed. In their front was a thick piece of woods with heavy under brush… They had now approached the Wilderness… Advancing a little way the line was halted as indeed the underbrush was so dense it was highly dangerous to advance rapidly… Almost simultaneously with the advance came a deafening roar of artillery, and shots and shells flew lively above our boys… A few hundred yards of advance and the quick sharp crack of a rifle followed by a full volley of musketry announced the presence of the rebel infantry… our men soon succeeded in driving them from their front and a still further advance secured. A new position was now taken up, the Fifth Maine being posted on the side of a wooded hill commanding a view of an open field beyond…

The morning of the sixth found the regiment in readiness to repulse a charge which was momentarily expected but which did not take place until late in the afternoon when a furious attack was made upon the Third Division of the corps resulting in a most disgraceful retreat… The right wing… was now in danger… the corps now charged upon the exultant foe and forced them back until our breastworks were recaptured. But our flank was too much exposed and again the enemy charged… forcing the corps to wheel back to the turnpike where it had first rallied…General Sedgwick now ordered another charge… The enemy was again forced back and again the corps occupied the breastworks… the roar of musketry, mingled with the deep toned artillery, shook the ground and the dense forests were lighted by the scores of thousands of flashing rifles… At midnight the command fell back upon the plank road and taking up a strong position they intrenched themselves… The following day was comparatively quiet…

Moving to the left, the command passed on the morning of the eighth the Chancellorsville House and also over a portion of the Chancellorsville battlefield of 1862.Large numbers of skeletons lay in the woods… they came to graves… where a leg or an arm showed itself all of whom doubtless were among those reported as ‘missing’ with not enough of mother earth to cover their bones…

Pushing steadily forward about two o’clock they arrived at the scene of action (battle of Spottsylvania Court House). To add to the horror of the scene the woods in places were on fire and many poor fellows of both armies being wounded in the severe fight of an hour previous and unable to help themselves or escape from the flames had been burned to death…a movement was made by our command to the right into a piece of woods where they were to bivouac for the night... May ninth was passed principally in skirmishing but in which the Fifth was not actively engaged…

Our position on Tuesday morning May 10th, was the same that it had been the day previous… Active skirmishing commenced along different portions of the line early in the morning and continued to grow more and more general until the rattle of the skirmishers rifles grew into the reverberating roll of battle… all the artillery on both sides was brought into the work… It was not until six o’clock in the afternoon that the Sixth Corps was called into action… Colonel Upton… was directed to take twelve picked regiments from the corps and lead them in a charge against the right center of the rebel line…"(12) "General Wright said to the commander of the Fifth: ‘Colonel, I give you the place of honor in this charge. I give you one of the best regiments in the whole service as a support. If you get into their works, serve them as you did at Rappahannock Station.’"(13) "The artillery from an eminence in the rear opened a terrific fire sending the shells howling and shrieking over the heads of the charging column… the brave fellows rushed upon the defenses leaping over the ditch in front and mounted the breastworks…. A hand to hand fight ensued until with their bayonets our men had filled the rifle pits with bleeding rebels. About two thousand of the survivors of the struggle surrendered and were immediately marched to the rear under guard. Without halting for breath the impetuous columns rushed toward the second line of works… the brave fellows then passed on to the third line of defenses which was also captured… and finding that reinforcements were reaching the enemy while our columns were every moment melting away a retreat was ordered… the Fifth lost over one hundred out of his small battalion of about two hundred. The following day, May eleventh, the position which had been occupied before the charge was resumed…

During the night preparations were made for a desperate attack upon that part of the enemy’s lines fronting this position… the corps in mass advanced rapidly across the field the thick fog concealing the movement. As the column neared the rifle pits a shower of bullets met it but charging impetuously up the hill and over the works the rebels surprised and overpowered gave way… thousands were obliged to surrender…The victorious column now pushed on toward the second line of works, but here the enemy fully prepared for the attack the resistance became more stubborn… the Fifth Maine… went into action on the ‘double quick’ under a galling a severe fire and took up a position to the right of a point known as the ‘angle’ which was indeed the key to the whole position of the enemy… The rain was pouring in torrents yet the men readily obeyed the order to lie down in the mud and commence firing.

Soon a white flag was seen waving from the rebel works… a body of our troops… moved forward at a rapid rate… They had advanced only a short distance when a terrible and murderous fire was opened upon them from the works… before they could reach any point of shelter scores of brave men lay stretched in death upon the ground. It was in this advance that Captain Lemont of Company E fell riddled with bullets. Six balls pierced his feet and fifteen wounds were upon his body…

The twelfth of May will ever be remembered… from daylight until three o’clock the next morning at which time the enemy fell back, it was a continuous crack of musketry… our men fired during that time between three hundred and fifty and four hundred rounds to each man. Multiply this by fifty thousand men and it conveys a little idea of the accompanying buzz of bullets. Horses and mules, everything which was within range and unprotected were almost literally cut into pieces… a large oak tree which stood between the lines was actually cut off with nothing but bullets. The stump of that tree is now in the patent office in Washington…

As long as the enemy held the ‘angle’… they had the advantage of position… it was determined to try a mortar battery… the mortar shells were dropped into that angle with fearful effect… At daylight the enemy having retired our men advanced to the position held by the enemy. The sight was perfectly awful. The foe lay actually piled up in every conceivable manner…

The command remained in that position during the day and night of the thirteenth, but upon the morning of the fourteenth the pickets were quietly withdrawn, the troops marching to a place called the ‘Anderson House’… they crossed the river Ny in search of the enemy… suddenly a yell and three lines of battle of the enemy arose from their concealment and pressed down upon our devoted lines while a battery opened a sharp fire… overwhelming numbers compelled them to beat a hasty retreat. The Fifth Maine was able fortunately to move directly across the river to the left… The next morning the regiment and brigade made another advance of a short distance, taking up a position in the woods from which the charging column of the rebels had come the day previous…

On the twenty third of May the command moved on to the North Anna River… remaining in that vicinity until about midnight, they again advanced as far as the Virginia Central Railroad (which they helped to destroy) where they bivouacked for the night… In the morning… orders to march to Hewlett’s Station a distance of thirty miles were issued…

On the thirtieth of May another movement was made toward Hanover Court House where the enemy was again encountered and a brisk skirmish was soon in progress… On the first day of June at one o’clock in the afternoon the regiment left the position recently occupied and marched to Coal Harbor where they became engaged in a sharp fight with the enemy at an early hour in the evening. On the second the fight was fiercely continued… over five hundred men were killed and wounded in our single brigade… Lines of battle were accordingly formed… the columns moved forward with loud cheers and on the double quick. Before the Union bayonets the gray backs could not stand, and after delivering a terrible fire, they fell back in confusion…for five or six days constant skirmishing and fighting were in progress… On the evening of the third of June information was received that the enemy was in line of battle… the Fifth Maine… opened a hot and vigorous fire upon them… an almost ceaseless fire was kept up between the two lines making it extremely dangerous for any one to show himself to the other…

So accustomed had the men become to skirmish firing, that unless actively engaged at the very front the men scarcely heeded the balls unless they were flying very thick… One morning a member of Company I was busily engaged in shaving another man when a bullet struck the arm of the man who was shaving, causing the razor to fly over the head of the man being shaved, but without inflicting any injury. The bullet, severely wounding the first man, passed by, striking the arms of two other men, standing in range near by, inflicting bad wounds, and struck still another man in the side, knocking him over, but not badly wounding him… the sharp shooter who fired that ball was said to be nearly half a mile distant!

The regiment remained at Coal Harbor several days when it was ordered to march again proceeding to the White House, thence across the Chickahominy to Charles City Court House thence to James River where the troops took a steamer to Bermuda Hundreds at which point they disembarked and were again on the march advancing to a point about seven miles from Petersburg which was reached about daylight on the morning of the seventeenth of June…During the day another move was made passing around to the left of Petersburg, crossing the Appomattox River, taking up a position near the railroad. At this point a hot skirmish took place between the enemy and our boys. To protect itself, the regiment dug rifle pits which were occupied for two days when another movement was made still further to the left… on the twenty third of June, orders came relieving the Fifth Maine from further service on account of the expiration of its term of enlistment… Marching to the rear some few miles the command went into camp until arrangements for their departure could be made. While in that camp, the following letter from Brigadier general Upton, then commanding the brigade was received:

Head-Quarters Second Brigade,
June 23, 1864

Colonel Edwards, Officers and Men of the Fifth Maine Regiment:

At the expiration of your term of service, I feel it a great pleasure to signify to you my appreciation of the services you have rendered your country.

Your gallantry, your constancy, your devotion to the flag of your country, your patient endurance of fatigue during the campaigns of three long years, entitle you to the lasting gratitude and esteem of your countrymen.

Springing to arms at the first sound of danger, you have given proof of your valor and patriotism on every field, from the first Bull Run to the present time. Leaving your native state with over one thousand and forty men, and receiving a large number of recruits, you now return with but two hundred and sixteen.

The long list of battles in which you have participated, including Bull Run, West Point, Gaines’ Mill, Charles City Cross Road, Crampton Gap, Antietam, Fredericsburg, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, eight days’ battle in the Wilderness and at Spottsylvania Court House, and Coal Harbor, will account for your losses.

Repeatedly have the colors of the Fifth Maine been floated over the enemy’s works. From behind their intrenchements, you have captured the battle flags of five of the proudest regiments in the confederate service, and while inflicting a loss equal to your own, you have, in addition, captured more prisoners than you have borne names on your rolls.

But while your former services have won for you the admiration and confidence of your commanding officers, your example and conduct during the present campaign, forms the brightest page of your history.

After three years’ hard fighting, well knowing the risks of battle, not even the ardent desire or the immediate prospect of being restored to your friends could dampen your ardor or enthusiasm, but like brave and patriotic men, you have fought nobly to the end of your term, adding, with each day, increased luster to your arms.

With this brilliant record and the proud consciousness that you have stood by your country in the darkest hour of her peril, you now return to your homes where you will receive the homage due the services you have rendered.

Bidding each and every one of you, in behalf of your old comrades in arms, a hearty God-speed, I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

E. Upton, Brigadier-General Commanding.

The regiment broke camp and marched to City Point, where they embarked upon a steamer bound for Washington and immediately marched down to the grounds of the Smithsonian Institute where they went into camp. The following day they were paid off and at once they took the cars for Baltimore tolerable second class cars were obtained and the regiment proceeded to Philadelphia where a hearty reception was given them. Proceeding to New York, they found themselves in that city in the hands of friends who delighted to honor the returning heroes… after an all night journey arrived in Boston the next morning where another hearty reception greeted them. The secretary of war had allowed the regiment to take home with them the five rebel colors which they had captured. The trophies attracted great attention.

News had already reached Portland that the Fifth Maine was coming and about the time of its expected arrival a dense crowd was at the depot to welcome them. At quarter before five o’clock in the afternoon the train bearing the grim heroes arrived… A large escort under Colonel E.A. Scamman, consisting of the city government, city military, and the Veteran Reserves, accompanied by Poppenburg’s Band, led the column… Finally arriving at ‘Barnums’ the regiment and its escort sat down to a fine collation, after which various sentiments and a little congratulatory speech making was indulged in.

Some days were necessary in which to prepare the official rolls for muster out and final settlements… As soon as the necessary documents were prepared upon orders from the colonel, the regiment reassembled in Portland and upon the twenty seventh of July the command numbering one hundred and ninety three officers and men, were mustered out of the service by Lieutenant I.H. Walker, of the Fourteenth United States Infantry and the members of the glorious old Fifth Maine were once more civilians and citizens of the state which all conceded had been honored by her sons on the gory fields of Virginia."(14)

A monument was erected in honor of the Fifth Maine in 1889 at Gettysburg and stands north of Little Round Top on the north side of the road leading from the Taneytown road to the Emmitsburg road. The inscription reads:

5th
MAINE INFANTRY
2nd Brig. 1st Div. 6th Corps

Occupied this Position from
Evening of July 2nd Until
Close of Battle.

Mustered into US Service, Portland, Me.
June 24, 1861. Served with the Army of the
Potomac in the field from 1st Bull Run to
Petersburg. Mustered out, Portland, June 27, 1864.

<a href="5thme.jpg">Fifth Maine Monument at Gettysburg</a><p> <a href="ColEdJck.jpg"> Col. Clark Edwards and Col. Nathaniel Jackson </a><p> William H., age 26 and Annie L., age 21 are listed in the 1870 Census Report for Kennebunkport along with their son Howard E., age 2.(15)

William was the master of the schoonerEagle on 13 July 1880. William Perry was the master in 1882. The Eagle (vessel no. 135293, signal letters J.S.K.B.) was built in Steuben in 1877 by Arthur T. Stevens, master carpenter and was listed as being from the port of Machias in 1880. It was a ship of 102.82 tons, 83.5 ft x 26.5 ft x 6.5 ft.(16) The ship had one deck, two masts, an elliptic stern and a figurehead.(18) After William's death it's port changed to Waldoboro in 1890, then to Bangor by 1895 and then to Boston in 1916 where it disappears from the vessel lists in 1918.(17)

William died on a voyage to the Caribbean and was buried at sea between Haiti and Cuba.

<img src="photalb.gif"> <a href="whn.jpg">Photo of William Howard Nunan</a><p>

ChildrenEdit

Name Birth Death
Children of PARENTS NAMES


Howard E. Nunan








ReferencesEdit

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