Hugh and George Roden papers  1861-1898 (bulk 1861-1864)
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Roden, Hugh P.

Rank : Drummer

Regiment : 7th New Jersey Infantry Regiment. Co. K (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 September 4-1864 October 7

Roden, George, Jr., b. 1841

Rank : 1st Sergeant

Regiment : 2nd New Jersey Infantry Regiment. Co. K (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 May 30-1864 June 21

George Roden, Sr. (b. 1800) and his wife were natives of England; George voted in a U.S. election for the first time in 1862. Their children included George, Jr. (b. 1841), Hugh P., Agnes, Rachel, and Elizabeth. Twenty-one-year-old George Roden enlisted as 1st Sergeant in Company K, 2nd New Jersey Infantry, one of the regiments in Kearny's 1st Jersey Brigade. Stationed in northern Virginia throughout its very active service, the 2nd New Jersey was involved in several key engagements during the first year of the war, including the small, but psychologically important Union defeat at Blackburn's Ford in June, 1861, and as a reserve regiment at 1st Bull Run. From then until the end of the war, the regiment saw frequent combat, serving in most of great campaigns and battles of the Army of the Potomac. George Roden was a veteran of the Peninsular Campaign, 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, but at the end of his three years' commitment, he declined to reenlist and returned home to Newark, N.J. in June, 1864.

Early in September, 1861, George's brother Hugh followed him into the service in northern Virginia, enlisting as the Drummer for Company K, 7th New Jersey Infantry, one of the regiments forming the 2nd Jersey Brigade. Hugh Roden's introduction to military life was less bloody than his brother's, with no general engagements until the spring of 1862, when the 7th was assigned to III Corps under Joseph Hooker and joined in the Peninsular Campaign. The regiment played a significant role at the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg -- after which Roden assisted in removing the dead from the field -- and they saw particularly fierce action at Fair Oaks and in the Seven Days' Battles, losing nearly half of their effectives, most at Malvern Hill. They continued under the gun through 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly and Centreville, regrouping in September before following McClellan into the Blue Ridge.

Like many soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, Roden was initially a strong supporter of McClellan, but after becoming frustrated with the carnage and lack of success in the Peninsula, his opinion of the general turned sour, to the point that he cheered McClellan's dismissal in November. By Fredericksburg, where the regiment were again engaged with heavy loss, the optimism and high patriotism that had characterized his letters earlier in the war ceased, and he began counting the months until his (and George's) enlistment ended. After the mud bemired wintered at Falmouth, the Regiment acquitted themselves well at Chancellorsville, where they took seven Confederate battle flags, but even that performance was dampened by the heavy Union loss and the lack of recognition back home. The 7th fought at Gettysburg, and were among the regiments bottled up at Manassas Gap in the fruitless effort to cut off the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia. Roden was also present at the Petersburg Campaign during the summer of 1864. Like his brother, Hugh Roden declined to reenlist when his three year commitment ended in September, 1864, and he was mustered out at Trenton after a considerable delay. Both his regiment and the 2nd remained active up to the end of the war and were present at Lee's surrender at Appomattox.