North; guard over quartermaster's stores, commissary stores, Sanitary Commission stores, ambulances, and ordnance; guard over the hospitals and the men employed on the railroad; conveyance of the wounded on board the hospital boats.
Every officer and every man was put on duty every day according to the utmost measure of his physical ability. Those who could not walk a beat were posted on the shipping at the landing; those who could not stand, and must sit, on the vessels in the stream. During the stay at White House detachments of the regiment convoyed North by transport 1,500 rebel prisoners without losing one. On the 20th of June it took part in the successful defense of the post against Hampton's raid. Several of the men had been discharged and were on transports about to sail for the North; they returned to the camp, borrowed arms and accouterments, and begged to go into line of battle with their old comrades. Twice during the engagement an aide rode up to Colonel Johnson with the question, "Will your invalids stand?"
"Tell the general," was the answer, "that my men are cripples, and they can"t run."
On the 12th of June a medical reported that in consequence of wounds or disease contracted in the service four- fifths of it were entirely unfitted for both field and fatigue duty, and recommended that it should be sent to some post where the duties would be light and where the men could obtain diet suitable to their debilitated condition. In consequence of this report the regiment was ordered back to Washington, where it arrived on the 25th of June. Such was the physical exhaustion, notwithstanding several days" rest on the boat, that out of 474 officers and men only five officers and 200 men were able to attempt the two-mile march between Sixth Street Wharf and Cliffburne Barracks, and sixty of this number fell in the streets. The next morning there were 112 officers and men on the sick-list out of an aggregate of 474.
During July, August, and September the regiment guarded the railroad between Washington and Annapolis Junction. The distance being sixteen miles and the number of men for duty only about 400, many of the picket posts (a corporal and three men each) could not be relieved during the entire three months. At Beltsville the line was attacked by a considerable force of Early's cavalry. Sergeant Porter collected twenty men from the posts under his command, formed them in the edge of a wood, and fired six rounds before he was driven from his position. Six of his feeblest men were captured during the retreat, but it was reported by citizens that seven or eight of the cavalry were killed or wounded. While on the railroad the regiment arrested nearly 400 stragglers, one-half of whom proved to be deserters making their way North. During September Companies A and C guarded in Forrest Hall Prison, Georgetown, D. C., 1,140 prisoners, without an instance of escape. In October Companies A, B, C, and D guarded 660 prisoners in Carroll and Old Capitol Prisons. The entire number of prisoners held in confinement by this incomplete regiment of desperately disabled men, during a period of less than six months, was 6,296, of whom only two escaped. What is remarkable in these services is not so much their amount (although that is highly creditable) as the fact that they were performed by soldiers who had been adjudged fit only for hospital duty. It is for this reason that the history of the Eighteenth has been told at greater length than that of any of its comrade regiments. I desire also to