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As the boats approached land, the men of the 7th jumped out and splashed ashore at Hilton Head. Marching into Fort Walker unopposed, they had the honor of planting their regiment’s flags on the battlements—the first Union colors to wave over South Carolina since its secession. Connecticut’s 8th, 10th, and 11th Regiments also took part in Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s expedition to establish control of the North Carolina coast. At Roanoke Island, the 10th Regiment advanced on a Confederate battery under heavy fire, taking the battery but losing their colonel, Charles Russell, to a gunshot wound at the outset of their first fight.
27 As regiment after regiment joined the retreat, the withdrawal devolved into pandemonium. A Connecticut soldier wrote: the road before us was the greatest scene of excitement that I ever witnessed. The lots were full of men, the roads crowded with artillery wagons, their horses on a dead run, colliding with freight wagons, and smashing hacks containing gentlemen spectators. I cannot begin to describe the confusion . . Everything that we had on, which had the least tendency to stop our progress, was thrown away .
Lt. Henry P. ”26 But the trip south was definitely not all hope and glory. “Our boys on their way to the field slept on the dirty decks of a steamer, lying together as thick as rows of pins on a paper,” wrote Samuel Fiske of the 14th Regiment. ”27 And while citizens had showered the troops with cakes, fruit, and other tidbits along the way, soldiers found a slightly different diet awaited them in Washington. ” In this we found long wooden tables, and on them the usual fare, boiled corned beef and hard bread, with potatoes boiled in their jackets.