John C. Caldwell
December 3, 1861
John C. Caldwell was a native Vermonter and a graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts. He arrived in East Machias in 1855 to serve as principal of Washington Academy. Six years later, he volunteered to serve Maine in the Civil War.
Despite being fairly new to Maine and totally new to the military, Caldwell was elected Colonel of the 11th Maine Infantry Regiment.
As a commanding officer, Caldwell filed reports with Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon. He assures Hodsdon about the training and condition of the regiment as they prepare for deployment. "We drill every forenoon in company drill, & every afternoon in battalion drill. The men are improving rapidly, & seem happy & contented," he writes.
The 11th Maine journeyed south through Boston, New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and eventually arrived in the District of Columbia. At each stop the regiment is provided a meal, which Caldwell mentions to Hodsdon in describing the food served in Philadelphia as "bountiful," while that in Boston was "deficient."
Caldwell mentions receiving weapons once the regiment arrives at Fort Knox. "We received our arms – altered muskets except the two flanking companies who received Springfield Rifles – on Tuesday," he informs Hodsdon.
The modified muzzle-loaded muskets had internal rifling, which provided greater range and accuracy than smoothbore muskets. The Springfield Rifles had a faster rate of fire and were more accurate than modified muskets. Early in the War, availability was limited, which Caldwell acknowledges in informing Hodsdon of their distribution within the regiment.
Mindful of the calendar and the weather, Caldwell sees little likelihood of going into battle. "There is an unpleasant prospect of wintering here," he writes.
- How are armies moved around the globe today?
- Caldwell describes meals, travel, and the health and outfitting of his regiment in this letter. Did he leave out any important parts of the journey?