Capt George Ely Pingree


Capt George Ely Pingree

Littleton, Grafton County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 23 Oct 1920 (aged 81)
Champaign, Champaign County, Illinois, USA
Burial Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 34298749 View Source


George E. Pingree, son of Joseph and Polly Pingree, was born in Littleton, April 29, 1839, received his schooling at Littleton and Lisbon, N. H., and Reading, Mass. He worked at farming in his boyhood, then four years in a general store at Reading, Mass., one year in an organ factory, and one year driving an ice-wagon in New York city. He enlisted as a private in Company G, Second Regiment, New Hampshire Infantry, from which he was discharged August 9, 1862, on account of wounds received in the battle of Williamsburg, Va., May 5, 1862. He was with the Second Regiment, when, with loaded muskets, it marched through Baltimore on its way to Washington, where it was attached to a brigade commanded by Colonel (afterwards General) A. E. Burnside.

He was in the battle of Bull Run, fighting from 10 o'clock a. m. until 4:30 p.m., and then marched forty miles to Washington, reaching there during the next forenoon, with absolutely nothing to eat or drink. He then accompanied his regiment to Bladensburgh, where it was brigaded under General Hooker; after which he went down the Potomac, and worked in the
trenches and on the forts at Yorktown under McClellan, thence to Williamsburg, fighting from daylight until dark, much of the time hand to hand. He was there wounded by a volley from the Fourteenth Louisiana, the ball passing through his right arm between the wrist and elbow. He was taken from the field to Fortress Monroe, thence to Hampton Roads hospital, and from there to his home in New Hampshire.

He was commissioned captain of Company G, Eleventh Regiment, New Hampshire Infantry, September 4, 1862. He was still suffering severely from his wound, but his patriotism and great love for his country overcame all obstacles, and he went marching on with the mighty hosts whose tread was heard throughout all the loyal North, and which carried great dismay to the Confederates.
At the battle of Fredericksburg he was knocked senseless by a piece of shell, but soon rallied. A piece of the same shell instantly killed George W. King of Company G. He was with the regiment in Kentucky, and in the Mississippi campaign. On the return to Kentucky his wounded arm began to assume a serious change, and, being advised that it would require amputation if he remained in the field, he was ordered to Cincinnati, where he was detailed on court-martial for a couple of months.

He was afterwards transferred to the command of Company I in the Fifth Regiment, Veterans'
Reserve Corps, and ordered on duty at the prison camp at Indianapolis, where the regiment was disbanded in the fall of 1865.

He then reported for duty to General R. K. Scott, at Charleston, S. C., May 1, 1866, where he was placed in charge of several counties in the interest of the Freedmen's Bureau. His duties were to endorse all contracts between whites and blacks, issue provisions to poor whites and blacks and to planters, taking a lien upon their crops, to assist in establishing schools, settling disputes, etc.

He was honorably mustered out of the United States service, January 1, 1868; remained in
South Carolina until the fall of 1869, when he went to Indianapolis; thence to Rock Island, Ill., where he became night editor of a journal, and then entered the employ of the Moline Wagon Company; then a travelling salesman; then in the newspaper business again; then book-keeper for the Moline Malleable Iron Works for several years; then a salesman again through Minnesota and the Dakotas until January 8, 1891, when he removed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he still resides as president and manager of a large manufacturing interest.

As in the field, so in all of these varying positions, he has been most faithful in the discharge of every duty. His engraving, so generously contributed, is a valuable addition to the history of the regiment in which he bore a conspicuous part.

(By Capt. George E. Pingree.)

One evening while I was on picket duty on the Rappahannock before the battle of Fredericksburg, a rebel band came down to the river and played "Dixie." A brigade band on our side responded with "John Brown's Body." The rebel band retaliated with the "Bonny
Blue Flag," and our band came at them with the "Star Spangled Banner." So they played back and forth at each other until late in the evening. Suddenly all music ceased, and silence reigned; when all at once a musician on our side played splendidly on a key bugle "Home, Sweet Home." As the sweet sounds rose and fell on the evening air, and were wafted down the Falmouth Heights and over the Rappahannock, all listened intently, and I do not believe there was a dry eye in all those assembled thousands. For a moment or two after the bugle ceased a dead silence reigned, broken then by a wild, exultant cheer from both armies.

On one occasion, when I crossed the river under a flag of truce for conference with the officer in command on the other side, I heard one of my men, who had rowed me over, ask a rebel, "Why don't you fellows get better guns?" The answer was, "There will be a battle mighty soon, and after it is over we'll pick up all the guns you 'uns leave on the field." Those posted on the Fredericksburg battle know that they did so.

One remarkable incident happened to me while connected with the Second New Hampshire. At the first Bull Run I came very near being captured, and in order to escape flung away my musket and fled. My initials were cut in the breech of the gun. The next spring, while fighting at Williamsburg, my musket got too foul to be loaded, and seeing a nice, clean gun by the side of
a dead rebel I picked it up, and it was my own gun left at Bull Run. I decided I would keep it always, but when wounded, later, was forced to drop and leave it forever.

One day, while on picket duty in the Eleventh on the Rappahannock, a flag of truce was waved on the other side. The parties were directed to cross, and a boat-load came over containing General Kershaw’s commanding at Fredericksburg, Mayor Slaughter, and the city council.
They stated that they came over to reply to a summons from General Burnside to surrender the city. We sent a soldier with the news to General Burnside, who sent down his chief of staff', requesting the parties to recross the river and return the next day, as it was too late in the afternoon for conference that day.

The next day General Kershaw came over alone, and was escorted to General Burnside's head-quarters. Soon after he had gone there, an officer on the other side waved a flag of truce and came over. Introducing himself as Captain King on General Longstreet's staff', he said he wanted to see General Kershaw at once. Knowing that Captain King's presence meant the approach of General Longstreet, and not wishing General Kershaw to know that fact until after his talk with General Burnside, I informed Captain King that I had no authority to pass him through our lines, and so kept him at the bank of the river until late in the afternoon, when General Kershaw returned. Immediately on his arrival Captain King rushed up to him and said, "General, have you surrendered the city?" "No," replied Kershaw, "I told Burnside if he wanted the city, to come and take it!"

"All right," responded King; "General Longstreet is approaching,—is probably in the city now,—and Lee is coming." Kershaw and King then recrossed the river. I was told that King was killed in the battle which soon followed.

When we crossed the river towards evening of the day that Burnside bombarded the town, we camped on the river-bank that night in Fredericksburg. Looking for a place to sleep in the street, and having no blanket with me, I came across a soldier lying there, comfortably enveloped in three blankets; spoke to him, but, as he seemed to be sleeping very soundly, I lifted up his coverings and crawled under the blankets with him. Awakening in the morning, I found my
"room-mate " to be a very dead rebel, whose head had evidently been taken
off by a cannon-ball.

When Burnside was " stuck in the mud," I was listening to a mule-whacker whose wagon was stuck fast in the mud. The driver certainly poured out the most varied assortment of oaths I ever heard in my life. Suddenly General Burnside appeared, and sternly rebuked the man for his profanity. The general dismounted, placed his shoulder to the hind wheel, directed me to do likewise on the off side, and we both lifted and strained to our utmost, but the wagon didn't budge an inch. Flushed and muddy, the general remounted, then turned to the driver, and naively said, " As soon as I get out of hearing, you just pitch into those mules, and make them pull out that wagon; I believe they can do it."

Source: A History Eleventh New Hampshire Regiment Volunteer Infantry in the Rebellion War 1861-1865, Covering its entire Service, with interesting Scenes of Army Life, and graphic Details of Battles, Skirmishes, Sieges, Marches, and Hardships, in which its Officers and Men participated. By Leander W. Cogswell, Company D, Concord, N. H. Printed by Republican Press Association, Railroad Square, 1891.

Bio by: Connie Lagasse Russell

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