November 7, 1861
Neal Dow was in the wrong army if he expected to have a servant to perform all the functions he details in a November 7 letter to Governor Israel Washburn. Appointed the commanding officer of the 13th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Dow, with the rank of Colonel, believes that he is entitled to special considerations.
For one, he wants a personal secretary. "I must have some one for Secretary – capable of that..." he writes to Gov. Washburn. Most officers had to write their own letters unless their penmanship was so bad that a good scribe was detailed for the job. (The Regimental Adjutant was responsible for maintaining and signing the morning reports, monthly and quarterly returns and related correspondence.)
Correspondence was one task to Dow. So was personal care. Dow describes his need for his secretary to be a valet: "a body servant to keep my tent and baggage – camp furniture &c &c..." In the Union Army, such duties, however, were detailed to individuals at the regimental level and not assigned, as Dow assumes, by the Governor or Adjutant General.
In some units, the 1st Sergeant of a Regiment performed the function of Orderly Sergeant, who would look after the Colonel’s uniforms and equipment. But the 1st Sergeant’s foremost duties were military. He was often the drillmaster who trained recruits in the complex movements and maneuvers they had to know.
Other officers dispensed with orderlies altogether, preferring to put on their own uniforms, pull on their own boots, shave themselves and keep others out of their belongings.
Dow wanted more than that. He expected his all-purpose "Secretary" to be a groom "to keep my horse on the field..."
In many regiments, someone adept with horses would be responsible for groom duty, although some officers might prefer to tend to their horses themselves. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, for example, regarded his horses, Traveller and Lucy Long, as pets, and he was known to curry and groom them himself.
Dow, internationally known as a temperance advocate, is conscious of his celebrity status. He writes that his marquee must be "sufficiently spacious to accommodate the circle that will be likely to be at my quarters..."
Dow also writes about various candidates for the positions of hospital steward and surgeons in the 13th Regiment. "Dr. Garcelon" was Alonzo Garcelon, the Surgeon General of the State of Maine.
- What is a "marquee?"
- What is "Homeopathy?"
- Why would Neal Dow especially approve of it as a medical theory?