This letter was written by Henry P. Kauffman (1835-1914), the son of Jacob G. Kauffman (1813-1880) and Flora Peiffer (1820-1865) of New Salem, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania. Henry was married in 1857 to Caroline Slagel (1833-1916) and had one child by the time he entered the military service. After the war, Henry and Caroline would have at least 9 more children. Henry was a stone mason by trade.
Military records indicate that Henry served in two different units during the Civil War. He was drafted in York County November 8, 1862 (although the late enlistment date suggests the possibility he enlisted as a substitute), mustered into federal service at York November 11 as a private with Co. D, 166th Pennsylvania Infantry (aka “Drafted Militia”), promoted to sergeant June 8,1863, and honorably discharged with his company July 28, 1863.
He then again enlisted in York August 29, 1864, and mustered into federal service at Harrisburg on September 2 as a private with Co. I, 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry (65th Pa). That regiment later merged with the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry (60th Pa) in which he served unassigned (altough he claimed Co. A) until honorably discharged by general order to date May 28, 1865.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent.]
Washington [D. C.] September 10, 1864
It is with pleasure that I sit myself down this morning to let you know that we arrived here yesterday and expect to go away from here to Camp Stoneman today at 8 o’clock a.m. All the rest of our [re]cruits is here excepting Jacob Shepp. He is in Harrisburg in the hospital. I don’t know any particulars to write for this time but here I will put $10 in this letter and in the next letter I will send then again. If you don’t want to have this money in the house, then give it to somebody where it is safe. If you don’t know nobody, I guess George Shive would take it. Tell [ ] and the [ ] he can take it and pay the land with.
I will bring my letter to a conclusion by saying that I am well at present and I hope these few lines may find you in the same state of health. Don’t write till I write again. So no more at present but remain your husband, Henry Kauffman
to Caroline Kauffman
And further, you shall tell George Glatfelter’s wife that he has sent her $35 at Eli Myers for her and $20 with old Fiestel and she shall not give it all away at any time so that she could send him some then.
A few lines more. I had not time this morning to send my letter off but now I will let you know that we are in Camp Stoneman just opposite of Alexandria on this side of the Potomac river and further if you want to write to me, direct your letter to Camp Stoneman, 2rd Pa. Cavalry, 7th Brigade, 2nd Division, Company E.
This diary was kept by Pvt. Oliver Kidder Abels (1834-1904), a bookbinder by occupation, who enlisted at East Granby, Connecticut, on 7 November 1861 to serve in the 1st Connecticut Light Artillery. He survived the war, mustering out with the battery on 13 November 1864 after three years service. This diary—kept during the last 11 months of his service—was credited as useful in the writing of the regimental history [see History of the First Light Battery Connecticut Volunteers, by Beecher]. It is now the property of my friend Adam O. Fleischer and has been transcribed and published in Spared & Shared by his express consent.
The 1st Connecticut Light Artillery was initially commanded by Captain Alfred Perkins Rockwell (1834-1903). In September 2019, I transcribed a large archive of letters written by Rockwell, 38 of which were penned while serving with the battery; 72 more after he accepted the commission of Colonel in the 6th Connecticut Infantry in June 1864. Those letters can be found on Spared & Shared 19 under the title, 1863-65: Alfred Perkins Rockwell Letters. To add context and color to Abels’ diary entries, I have incorporated clips from some of Rockwell’s letters in the transcription that follows.
The following history of the 1st Connecticut Light Artillery Battery comes from Wikipedia and will serve as a useful background as well as a reference point to Abels’ diary—1864 activities highlighted in bold font.
The 1st Connecticut Light Artillery Battery, under the command of Captains Alfred P. Rockwell and James B. Clinton, was organized in October 1861, and recruited from the state of Connecticut. The members joined at Meriden (Hanover village) and were mustered, for three years, into U.S. service on October 26, 1861.
The battery consisting of 156 men, embarked for New York on January 13, 1862, leaving there on the 21st on the Ellwood Walter for Port Royal, South Carolina, and arriving at Beaufort, South Carolina February 6. The battery was drilled in artillery tactics during the next three months and saw its first actual service at Pocotaligo. During General David Hunter’s movement in June against Charleston, the battery took an active part, receiving honorable mention in General Orders for good conduct and for well served guns. The left section of the battery shared in an expedition to Florida in September and October, 1862, and was active at Fort Finnegan. During the second movement against Charleston in April 1863, the battery was present but not actively engaged and shortly after returned to Beaufort. An expedition, commanded by Lieutenant Clinton, to destroy the railroad bridge above Willstown. This resulted in the loss of two of its guns through the grounding of the steamer, the guns being sunk in the river to prevent their capture. In July, the battery was engaged on James Island and was complimented by General Alfred Terry. Following this the battery was ordered to Folly Island and for nine months it formed part of the reserve under General Quincy Adams Gillmore. In December, 1863, while stationed at Folly Island, forty-six men reenlisted for another three-year term.
On April 18, 1864, the battery embarked for Fort Monroe from where it proceeded to Gloucester Point and on May 4, it joined General Benjamin Butler’s forces at Bermuda Hundred. It was actively engaged at Chester Station on the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike and at Proctor’s Creek, losing two killed and ten wounded among the former being Lieutenant George Metcalfe. They then returned to Bermuda Hundred until June 27, taking an active part in the actions at Grovert’s House and at Ware Bottom Church. Following the affair at Deep Bottom in August it was almost constantly engaged before moving to Petersburg on September 23. It then moved across the James River to a point near Fort Harrison. Following this it was assigned to the light artillery brigade of XXV Corps under General Godfrey Weitzel.
It was active at Chaffin’s Bluff and Johnson’s Farm in October. Following this it was ordered to City Point, where it exchanged its James Rifles for 12-pound Napoleons. The unit was comparatively inactive during the winter of 1864–1865. But on April 3, 1865, the Confederates abandoned their defences and the battery entered Richmond with the XXV Corps, where they received news of Lee’s surrender. The unit continued to serve in the vicinity of Richmond until June 11, when it was mustered out at Manchester, Richmond. It started for home the following day and reached New Haven on June 14. The battery was the first of the veteran troops to return to Connecticut. Having been in service three years and eight months, it participated in about twenty engagements.
Friday, Jan 1, 1864. Folly Island. Pleasant & cold. Rained considerable during the night. I am on guard today. It has been a pretty dull New Year. [Moses] Phelps, Hen & myself made some hash for dinner & supper.
Saturday, 2. Pleasant and cold. Last night was the coldest night we have had since we have been in South Carolina. The boys are fixing up their things for inspection tomorrow. I am on picket.
Sunday, 3. Cloudy and cool. Came off from picket this morning. It was a cold night. [James] Holly and I turned in together I am on fatigue today. Had a mounted inspection this a.m.
Monday, Jan 4, 1864. Cloudy. I am on fatigue today helping to build a stockade & chimney for the bakery. It is a very dark & foggy evening. Everything is very quiet about here now.
Tuesday, 5. Cloudy and unpleasant. I have been in my tent most of the day. There has been 46 of our boys reenlisted for three years longer. They are going home soon. I am on picket tonight. Our mail arrived this p.m.
Wednesday, 6. Cold and rainy. Our section came off from picket this morning. We took the tarpaulins & made a good covering for ourselves so that we managed to keep pretty comfortable. Boys started for home this morning.
Thursday, January 7, 1864. Cold and rainy. We have not got to go on picket any more at present. I am staying with Holly now (nights). I have been down to Stono Inlet this p.m. as orderly. I am on guard tonight. I got the orderly’s berth.
Friday, 8. Cold and cloudy most of the day. I am acting orderly today. There is but a few of us left in camp. We are pretty busy. Henry is driver now. I am acting as cannoneer. There is only one to a piece aside from the drivers.
Saturday, 9. Pleasant and cold. I have been very busy today taking care of horses and cleaning up things for inspection tomorrow. We received a small mail this a.m. Ed Phelps is acting orderly.
Sunday, January 10, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Had a foot inspection this a.m. And a mounted inspection this p.m. There were only three cannoneers. It took till all the rest for drives. It is stormy this evening.
Monday 11. Pleasant. I am taking care of horses today. Commenced raining this evening. Everything is very quiet now days.
Tuesday, 12. Cloudy. I had to get up at five o’clock this morning & harness a span of horses. Received a mail this a.m. It is raining again tonight.
Wednesday, January 13, 1864. Rainy. I have been taking care of horses today. There has been considerable firing at the front since yesterday noon. The report is that they are firing into Charleston City.
Thursday, 14. Cloudy & unpleasant. I am taking care of horses today. I sent Sarah and Jefferson a paper yesterday. About fifty men from the 55th (Colored) Massachusetts Reg. 1 have come to help us & learn to drill.
1 The 55th Massachusetts (made up mostly of free Blacks) and the 1st North Carolina (former slaves) were brigaded together on Folly Island in 1864 under Gen. Edward A. Wild. They became known as Wild’s “African Brigade.” We learn from Oliver’s diary that at least some members of the 55th Mass. were drilled as artillerists, probably as a temporary detail while a large number of the 1st Conn. L. A. were home on a veteran’s furlough.
Friday, 15. Pleasant & cool. I have been taking care of horses. I am on guard tonight. I am acting as orderly. I do not feel very well tonight.
Saturday, January 16, 1864. Pleasant and cool. I am orderly today. Te boys are fixing up things for inspection tomorrow. We received eight recruits today. I have got the piles the worst kind.
Sunday, 17. Pleasant. Had a mounted and foot inspection this a.m. I have been off from duty today. I have got the piles very bad and can’t hardly stir.
Monday, 18. Cold and rainy. I have stayed in my tent all day. I am feeling a little better. It cleared off about five o’clock p.m. There is nothing new today.
Tuesday, January 19, 1864. Pleasant and cold. Have been stopping in my tent all day. Had our monthly inspection this a.m. by Capt. Burt. The Colored boys have been drilling on the pieces this p.m. The Fulton passed this a.m. from the north.
Wednesday, 20. Pleasant and cool. I have been in my tent most of the day. The battery has been out to a review by Gen. Gordon. The Colored boys went out as cannoneers. Received a mail today.
Thursday, 21. Pleasant & warm. Stayed in my tent most of the day. I am some better. I have been writing a letter to Sarah. The battery had a mounted drill this a.m. I received a letter from Fan.
Friday, January 22, 1864. Pleasant and warm. I have been in my tent most of the day & have been writing to Jeff. I am better. The Colored boys are drilling every day. Had a mounted drill this p.m. It has been a beautiful day.
Saturday, 23. Pleasant & warm. I have been on duty today. The boys are fixing up things for inspection tomorrow. I sent a paper to Mary C. and George Holcomb.
Sunday, 24. Pleasant and warm. Had a mounted and foot inspection this a.m. I have got most well and am on duty again. It has been a very pleasant day.
Monday, January 25, 1864. Pleasant and warm The new recruits are learning to drill. The rimes are very quiet now. I haven’t been doing much today. Took care of the sergeant’s horse. I wrote a letter to Fannie.
Tuesday, 26. Pleasant & warm. The Colored boys are learning the drill very well. I have been shoveling this p.m. we are leveling off & fitting up old holes. We are having nice evenings.
Wednesday, 27. Pleasant and warm. I have been getting ready to go on guard tonight. The boys have been out riding horseback this p.m. We are having nice moonlight nights.
Thursday, January 28, 1864. Pleasant and warm. I am on guard today. Had a mounted drill this p.m. Lieut. [George] Metcalf took command. Our batteries on Morris Island are firing into the City of Charleston.
Friday, 29. Pleasant and warm. Had a mounted drill this p.m. Private [Henry A.] Dodd and myself have been down to [Samuel A.] Cooley’s Photograph establishment & sit for some photographs.
Saturday, 30. Pleasant and warm. I have been on fatigue today drawing rations and water for the cook house. Our mail arrived yesterday p.m. I didn’t get anything & was disappointed.
Sunday, January 31, 1864. Pleasant & warm. Had a foot inspection. [James] Holly and myself went up in the Lookout. They were firing some on both sides.
Pleasant and warm. Commenced building a stable for the horses. Leeds Brown has command of it/ It is to be built of slabs.
Tuesday, 2. Pleasant and warm. Worked on the stable this a.m. This p.m. have stayed in my tent reading. There has been considerable firing today.
Wednesday, February 3, 1864. Pleasant and cold. Went into the woods after wood this a.m. and remained in my tent this p.m. Some firing on both sides.
Thursday, 4. Pleasant and cool. I went down to the sawmill after slabs this a.m. This p.m. have stayed in my tent reading. The boys have been to work on the barn.
Friday, 5. Pleasant and cool. The battery went out to a review at quarter past eight this morning by Gen. Terry. Stayed in my tent reading.
Saturday, February 6, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Went into the woods after wood this a.m. Stayed in tent this p.m. The mail arrived this evening. Didn’t get anything and was disappointed.
Sunday, 7. Pleasant and cool. Had a foot inspection. The Doctor has got promoted and gone North. [Norman A.] Sackett, [William B.] Ives, [John J.] Moy and Abe [B.] Fowler have gone to join the Invalid Corps.
Monday, 8. Pleasant and warm. I am in Kiawah Island today with one section of my battery. Last night we received orders to march with an expedition of about five thousand troops. Encamped in Kiawah Isle.
Tuesday, February 9, 1864. Pleasant and warm. The expedition consisted of about five thousand troops. The third New York Battery and one section of ours. We have got Niggers for cannoneers. Ordered to march at ten last evening. Met the Rebs this morn.
Wednesday, 10. Pleasant and warm. Crossed from Kiawah on to Seabrook at about three o’clock yesterday morning. Met the enemy on Johns Island about daylight and had a fight with them. Killed and wounded about a dozen Rebs.
Thursday, 11. Pleasant and warm. There was some firing yesterday on both sides but none killed as I heard of. This p.m. our forces moved up and met the enemy. Had a very sharp artillery fight. It lasted half an hour.
Friday, February 12, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Left Johns Island about midnight last night and arrived at the dock on Kiawah and embarked onto Folly soon after noon and arrived in camp towards night, pretty well tired out.
Saturday, 13. Pleasant and warm. The boys are feeling very tired. The Third New York Battery lost two horses on Thursday p.m. when we had the fight with the Rebs. Our loss in infantry killed and wounded must have been 8 or 10.
Sunday, 14. Pleasant and warm. Had a mounted inspection this a.m. Also a foot [inspection]. Received a letter from Sarah yesterday. Wrote a letter to her this p.m.
Monday, February 15, 1864. Pleasant and warm. The centre section had a mounted drill this a.m. I was taken sick with the dysentery yesterday and am pretty sick today.
Tuesday, 16. Pleasant and warm. The right section had a mounted drill this a.m. I am sick in hospital.
Wednesday, 17. Pleasant and very cold. The centre section had drill this a.m. Sick in hospital.
Thursday, February 18, 1864. Cold and blustering. Ice froze quite thick last night. Battery drill on their piece. It snowed two hours or more this evening and the ground was quite white with snow.
Friday, 19. Cold and pleasant. Water froze quite thick. Henry is on guard tonight. I am still quite sick.
Saturday, 20. Cold and pleasant. Had our usual monthly inspection by Captain Burt. I am getting a little better.
Sunday, February 21, 1864. Pleasant. Foot inspection this a.m. The weather has moderated considerable. In hospital but getting some better.
Monday, 22. Pleasant and warm. This is Washington’s birthday. The veterans arrived this evening in good spirits. We received our mail this eve. I received a letter from Mag. In the hospital and getting better.
Tuesday, 23. Pleasant and warm. The boys have had a good time since they went home. They are getting settled down once more. Three recruits came with them. In hospital.
Wednesday, February 24, 1864. Pleasant and warm. The boys drilled on pieces in park this a.m. and this p.m. It seems good to have them back once more. I am getting better, I hope. In hospital yet.
Thursday, 25. Pleasant and warm. Drilled on pieces in park this a.m. Mounted drill this p.m. by two sections. We are short for horses now. I am in hospital yet.
Friday, 26. Pleasant and warm. This is the first day I have attempted to write for about three weeks. I didn’t carry my book in the expedition. Drilled in park this a.m. and mounted this p.m. I am in hospital yet.
Saturday, February 27, 1864. Pleasant and cool. I am in the hospital but am getting most well again. The boys are fixing up things for inspection tomorrow. Got new caps today.
Sunday, 28. Pleasant and warm. Mounted and foot inspections a.m. I have got most well. It has been a beautiful day. I have been in Henry’s tent talking with him this p.m.
Monday, 29. Pleasant and warm. The company were mustered in for pay this a.m. Received a mail this p.m. I didn’t get anything and was disappointed. Wrote to Mag this p.m. In hospital.
Tuesday, March 1, 1864. Pleasant and cool. I am on duty again. Drilled on piece in park this a.m. and this p.m. had a foot drill. Lieut. [George P.] Bliss drilled us. I am feeling a good deal better once more.
Wednesday, 2. Pleasant and cool. Drill on piece in park this a.m. I have been taking care of horses. Henry is on guard tonight.
Thursday, 3. Pleasant. Windy and cool. Had a mounted drill this a.m. and drilled on piece in park this p.m. I received a letter from Fannie this p.m. Eating, Evarts, Hen and myself.
Friday, March 4, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Mounted drill this a.m. They have been building a new forage barn lately. I am on guard tonight.
Saturday, March 5, 1864. Pleasant and cool. I am on guard today. There has been no drill today. The boys are fixing up things for inspection tomorrow.
Sunday, 6. Pleasant and cool. Had a mounted and foot inspection this a.m. There were some ladies present. I wrote a letter to Fannie. Ten of our boys have gone to the Head [Hilton Head] after horses.
Monday, March 7, 1864. Pleasant and cool. I am on fatigue [duty] today. Have been drawing slat this a.m. and hay this p.m. Foot drill this a.m. and mounted this p.m.
Tuesday, 8. Pleasant and cool. This a.m. mounted drill. This p.m. I have been taking care of horses today. The boys have returned from the Head with 23 horses. Received a letter from George.
Wednesday, 9. Pleasant and warm. Drilled on piece in park this a.m. Set George a letter and paper. Also a paper to Ed Stiles and Sarah. Wrote some in each. Mounted drill this p.m. David Crosley sent us in some pie and cake this evening. Good.
Thursday, March 10, 1864. Cloudy and unpleasant. It has rained very hard all night. Our tent leak ed some and I got quite wet laying in my bunk. Edward [F.] Phelps is quite unwell and I am staying in his tent with him today. No drill.
Friday, 11. It has rained most of the night very hard and also this a.m. Cleared off about noon. Mounted drill this p.m. I went out as driver. Ed. Phelps is quite sick and wanting to [go to] the hospital this a.m.
Saturday, 12. Very pleasant day. The boys have been fixing up things as usual for inspection tomorrow. Henry is on guard tonight. I have been mending up my clothes.
Sunday, March 13, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Mounted and foot inspection this a.m. A gentleman from New York by the name of Saunders preached to the company this a.m. Charles [E.] Jillson and myself rode down to the 117th New York Regiment in p.m.
Monday, 14. Pleasant and warm. Mounted drill this a.m. Drilled on piece in park this p.m. I sent a paper to Eugene and Phelps. I wrote considerable in them.
Tuesday, 15. Pleasant and cool. Mounted drill this a.m. I rode Henry’s horses. Henry is on fatigue [duty]. Foot drill this p.m. I am taking care of horses.
Wednesday, March 16, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Mounted drill this a.m. I rode Savion’s horses. Drilled onpiece in park this p.m. I am on guard tonight.
Thursday, 17. Pleasant and cool. I am acting orderly for the captain today. There is four ladies here today—Mrs. Porter, Mrs. Beecher, and Mrs. Walton and sister. They went up on Morris Island.
Friday, 18. Pleasant and cool. Mounted drill by the whole battery down at Gen. Terry’s quarters. We fired several kinds of ammunition and also blank cartridges. The ladies were present.
Saturday, March 19, 1864. Pleasant, windy and cool. I am on fatigue today. Drawed rations for the company this a.m. This p.m. went into the woods after wood.
Sunday, 20. Cool and cloudy. Mounted inspection in park. Also foot inspection this a.m. I have been reading most of the day. It is a very lovely Sunday.
Monday, 21. Cold and cloudy. Drilled this a.m. mounted and this p.m. on piece in park. Commenced raining about three p.m. We have got new harnesses.
Tuesday, March 22, 1864. Cold and rainy. No drill today. I have been taking care of horses. We are having a very cold storm.
Wednesday, 23. Pleasant and cool. Drilled on piece in park this a.m. I sent Gene and Ell a paper in which I wrote considerable. Cleared off this morning.
Thursday, 24. Pleasant and cool. Help fill the chest with ammunition this a.m. Mounted drill this p.m. Received a mail. I didn’t get anything and was disappointed. Hen is on guard tonight.
Friday, March 25, 1864. Cold and rainy. Commenced raining sometime during the night and has rained very hard this a.m. Cleared off this p.m. No drills today. The recruits have to drill.
Saturday, 26. Pleasant and cool. The boys are fixing up things today as usual for tomorrow’s inspections. We have got new harnesses and they look well.
Sunday, 27. Pleasant and warm. Mounted and foot inspections as usual. Stayed in my tent most of the day reading. Have taken care of Hen’s horses. Hen now on fatigue.
Monday, March 28, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Om fatigue all day. Moved the commissary building. We are fixing ground for a new camp. Started to go a fishing but couldn’t get a boat.
Tuesday, 29. Rainy and was pleasant. Commenced raining fore part of the night and cleared off about noon. I have been looking over my old letters today. The ground is fixed for the new camp.
Wednesday, 30. Pleasant and cool. No drill today excepting the new recruits on the piece. Most of the boys are on fatigue fixing the new camp ground. Received a letter from Maggie. Acting orderly tonight.
Thursday, March 31, 1864. Pleasant and cold. I am acting orderly for the captain today. The boys have moved camp today. I have written a letter to Ell and Maggie. Cold tonight.
Friday, April 1. Showery and unpleasant. Received a box from Sarah. Everything was very nice. No drill today. Cleared off this p.m. Received a letter from Eugene and Sarah this evening. The boys are fixing their tents.
Saturday, 2. Pleasant and cool. I am on fatigue. I have been drawing water about from barrels for the cook house. Sent a letter to Eugene and Sarah. I a living high now. Sent Sarah a ring as a present from [ ].
Sunday, April 3, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Mounted and foot inspections this a.m. Our batteries on Morris [Island] are firing at Sumter again. Arago went north this p.m. Charles Gesner, [Ralph] Blodgett & Titus Hall.
Monday, 4. Cloudy and unpleasant. I watched with Hector McLean after twelve last night. He is very sick with Typhoid fever. Cleared off this evening. We are having very high tides now days.
Tuesday, 5. Pleasant and cool. Taking care of [Samuel C.] Bosworth’s horses. He is standing on a barrel for leaving the nose bags on. On fatigue this p.m. fixing slabs for officers’ mess tent. Hen on guard.
Wednesday, April 6, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Most of the boys are on fatigue fixing about camp and building a mess house for the officers. I am feeling unwell today. Day before yesterday Charles Evarts jumped on me and hurt me quite bad.
Thursday, 7. Cloudy and cool. I am not very well today and am excused from duty. The boys are to work on the officers’ mess tent and leveling off about camp. Mounted drill this p.m.
Friday, 8. Cloudy and windy. I am some better today. Mounted drill this p.m. I haven’t done any duty. Things are very quiet about here now. Firing onto Sumter some of late.
Saturday, April 9, 1864. Rainy. Rained most of the night. I sit up with Hector McLean the fore part of the night. He is getting better. Received a letter from George and Gene. Answered George.
Sunday, 10. Pleasant and cool. Mounted inspection this forenoon. Went down to the 103rd Regiment New York for meeting. It is very lonesome this evening.
Monday, 11. Warm and pleasant. No drill. The captain has gone north. I have been taking care of horses. Went a fishing this p.m. Caught about eight good ones. Had some for supper.
Tuesday, April 12, 1864. Pleasant and cool. No drill tonight. Received the orderly’s berth. Received a letter from Fannie. It is very windy tonight. Lieut. Metcalf is in command of the company now.
Wednesday, 13. Pleasant and warm. No drill. Acting orderly. The captain was ordered back and arrived back this a.m. The report is we are going away soon. [George R.] Ingam’s and my segars arrived today.
Thursday, 14. Cloudy. No drill. The boys went out a fishing and had good success. We are fixing up things ready for to leave. Commenced raining this p.m. The 100th New York left today.
Friday, April 15, 1864. Cloudy and rain. The company drilled on pieces in park. p.m. I am on fatigue expecting to leave soon.
Saturday, 16. Warm and pleasant. Received pay today. I have been taking care of Rates [Horatio] Evarts’ horses and cleaning up his harnesses. Today I have been very busy. Are expected to leave tomorrow.
Sunday, 17. Pleasant and warm. No inspection. Received marching orders and commenced loading aboard of the Propeller Gen. Meigs. I am very tired tonight. Got two sections loaded.
Monday, April 18, 1864. Rainy. Worked hard all day loading. Got most everything aboard. We go in two boats—the Gen. Meigs and the Ella Knight. I am wet through and tired tonight. Negro troops commenced coming.
Tuesday, 19. Pleasant. Finished loading this noon. The left and central section go on the Meigs. Got started about two o’clock. Our boat is not a very fast one. Hen couldn’t eat any supper.
“All day Sunday I had men hard at work building stalls for the horses and loading guns, &c. onto the General Meigs—one of our transports–and on Monday morning the Ellie Knight came to the wharf to be fitted up and loaded. By Tuesday afternoon everything was ready and we moved away from the wharf at Pawnee Landing and said a last goodbye to Folly Island and [our] home for the past nine months…” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell letter dated 21 April 1864.
Wednesday, 20. Cold and pleasant. I slept on some barrels down in the hole but didn’t get but little rest. The boat rolls very bad. I caught cold. Got up at two o’clock. The old boat has made good time.
Thursday, April 21, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Came in sight of land this morning off Hatteras Inlet. Saw Ocracock Light House. We are off Hatteras tonight. On guard. Slept on deck.
Friday, 22. Pleasant and warm. Came in sight of Cape Henry Light House this morning. Saw many wrecks on the shore. Arrived at Fortress Monroe at half past one. Left about five. Went a few miles and anchored.
Saturday, 23. Pleasant and cool Anchored at the mouth of York River last night. Hoisted anchor and went up the river about five a.m. Arrived off Yorktown about [ ]. Got unloaded about night.
Sunday, April 24, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Landed at Gloucester Point. The right section arrived on the Ella Knight yesterday a.m. Camped near the landing lat night. Moved camp about one mile. Have been carrying up things all day. Large number of troops arrived today.
“All day yesterday the battery was being landed and last night bivouacked on the shore. This morning I moved up upon the bluff and back about a mile from the river and established camp. We are directly across the river from Yorktown—so famous in history. The banks on both sides the river are some 30 to 50 feet above the water rising precipitously to a plain nearly level or gently undulating, occasionally cut by ravines which lead to the river…We are ordered today to prepare to turn in all our tents and take to shelter tents, which are about as effective as two handkerchiefs to keep off the rain. All trunks to be sent home and officers’ baggage reduced to a small valise and blankets…” Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, dated 24 April 1864.
Monday, 25. Pleasant and warm. Our boys have been fixing up things today. Troops are coming very fast The 7th, 10th, and 6th Conn. regiments are here. I sent a letter to George. Henry and I sent some things in a valise to his brother Lew in Washington.
Tuesday, 26. Pleasant and warm. Mounted drill this a.m. and mounted inspection this p.m. Sent Eugene a letter. Also sent George two hundred dollars. Three of our boys went into the Navy. Received seven new recruits today.
Wednesday, April 27, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Mounted drill this a.m. Drilled in piece in park this p.m. Had an inspection of clothes this a.m. Lieut. [James B.] Clinton and Sergt. [Elijah C.] Tuttle arrived this morning. Sent a letter to Ellen.
Thursday, 28. Cool and pleasant. No drill today. Packed our extra blankets and saskets. They are going to be sent to Norfolk for storage. Dr. Hart called to see us. Wrote a letter to Sarah.
Friday, 29. Pleasant and cool. No drill. Turned in our A tents and pitched our shelter ones. On guard last night and today. Hamilton Battery arrived today.
Saturday, April 30, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Mustered and inspected this a.m. This p.m. were reviewed by Gen. Butler, Foster, and Ames. there were about 20 regiments and 5 light batteries present. Got into camp about dark.
“Of course reviews are old stories and dreadful bores for all who are doomed to take any active part in them, but today it was more agreeable for me, for being the Senior Battery Commander of all the artillery. Imagine five Light Batteries (30 guns) drawn up in line one third of a mile in length. They were five Batteries and certainly did appear very well. There were probably not more than 18,000 to 20,000 men, if as man, but even these make quite a show and to a Folly Islander seem quite an army. We were on the ground at noon and were there till dark, marching and countermarching till all are thoroughly tired, horse & man… The whole Corps went through the review first as a rehearsal and then took our positions and waited the arrival of Major General Butler. In time, the guns at Yorktown announced his landing there to review the troops on that side. Then another salute announced crossing to this side. Then I had a man stationed who could see him coming, and reported the fact so that as he rode upon the field, one of the Batteries fired our 13 guns. This review was ordered for tomorrow but was hurried up today because we may move at a moments notice. Everything indicates that our stay at Gloucester Point will be cut short all of a sudden and within a very few days. We are already to march now.” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, 30 April 1864.
Sunday, May 1. Cool and rainy. On fatigue. Went down to the landing after bread which was coming from Yorktown. No inspections today. Cleared off this p.m.
Monday, 2. Pleasant and cool. Mounted drill this a.m. and on piece in park this p.m. Lew Thurston and Charles Thompson and Henesey called on e yesterday. Had oysters for dinner.
Tuesday, May 3, 1864. Pleasant. Very hard shower last evening. Got up at six o’clock this morning. Struck tents about noon and left camp. Loaded on to barge and anchored in stream.
The following entries were made by Abels in the “Memoranda” portion of his pocket journal where he was unconstrained by the daily diary entry space limitations.
May 4th 1864. Pleasant. Left our camp at Gloucester Point about noon. Loaded our pieces on board the barge Durant. The 5th New Jersey Battery pieces were with us. Our horses went on board the steamer Convoy. Got loaded about night and anchored off in the stream. The troops and batteries are loading very fast. Left Gloucester Point about midnight and arrived at Fortress Monroe at daylight.
May 5th 1864. On board the barge Durant. the 10th Army Corps, 1st Division, arrived at Fortress Monroe this morning and left immediately for Newport News and anchored a few moments and then moved up the James River. On the way up we saw the monitor Roanoke three turrets. After sailing up quite a distance, saw a one turreted monitor. It is a beautiful day and we are having a nice sail. the river is lined with transports of all kinds. It is a very crooked river and very muddy. The country looks very pleasant and trees are in blossom. There is some beautiful places on this river but they look rather desolate. Gen. Terry and Gillmore are with us. I saw them in a fine steamer as it passed us. I have today seen some of the nicest steamers I ever saw. They are all crowded with troops, &c. The flags are flying from them in every direction and it is a beautiful sight. We arrived at City Point about dark and anchored a short distance above. May 6th. Lay at anchor all night and this morning unloaded and commenced our march towards Petersburg and Richmond Railroad. Marched only a few miles and encamped for the night.
May 7th. Got up at half past two, hitched up three times during the day. Moved over to the right about dark.
May 8th. Very warm. Kept hitched up until about noon. Put up our polans and lay down and rested. Hitched up and moved back about a mile this p.m. Fixed a new camp and lay down. I am pretty tired tonight.
May 9th Got up about three o’clock and started on the march about four. Went out to the Petersburg & Richmond Railroad. Met but few of the enemy. Tore up the track for 6 or 8 miles. Encamped for a short time on the old battleground of last Saturday. Went in a bathing a brook nearby.
Wednesday, 4. Cool and pleasant. We have laid on board the barge out in the stream all day. On guard last night and today. Between 40 and 50 steamers loaded with troops at this place. Left for Fortress Monroe at eleven o’clock this evening.
“Yesterday noon I received orders to embark and at once moved from camp & put my guns &c.—all but the horses—upon one of the large North River Barges that you have seen often no doubt. Owing to the usual delays, the steamer for the horses was not ready till this morning and we spent the night by camp fires…Today has been my first day of rest and I have been making up lost sleep. Troops have been embarking all day and probably before morning all will move. It is a beautiful sight—the river full of steamers & barges loaded with men, flags flying, bands playing, steam tugs moving swiftly about in the fleet carrying orders to the different steamers, some getting underway. Altogether it is an exciting scene and appears like a busy harbor.” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, 4 May 1864
Thursday, 5. Pleasant and warm. Arrived at Fortress Monroe at daybreak and anchored for one half hour. Hoisted anchor and went up to Newport News and anchored for a few moments. Hoisted anchor and went up to City Point. Arrived about dark.
Friday, May 6, 1864. Very warm and pleasant. We laid at anchor a little above City Point all night. Unloaded this morning and commenced our march towards Richmond. The road was lined with clothing. Marched 6 or 8 miles and encamped.
Saturday, 7. Very warm and pleasant. Quiet during last night. Got up this morning at half past two. Hitched up three times during the day. Had a fight on our left and the report is that they destroyed the railroad bridge. Loss is said to be about 200.
“I do not know just where we are—only that we are ‘en bivouac’ in an open field surrounded by woods, troops on all sides of us and the enemy supposed to be in front. Beyond this, I know nothing—only that everything has gone right with this column thus far…Yesterday morning at sunrise, I disembarked at a place named ‘Bermuda Hundreds’ where most of our troops landed. It is on the north bank of the Appomattox river at its junction with the James. Some of the force was landed at ‘City Point’ on the opposite bank of the Appomattox. We heard firing last evening in the direction of Petersburg. What it meant, I don’t know. Never look to army officers for army news. We know only what passes under our eyes….We marched yesterday some six or eight miles, as nearly as I could judge, through a wooded country slightly undulating, farms at long intervals—that is, very few houses and those all deserted—quite a number of fields of grain. No inhabitants were visible as I passed. Any, if there must, have run away or been captured by the advanced guard. Roads more dry & in fine order but dusty. The sun was very warm and the infantry seemed to suffer much as we moved at first rapidly forward. We halted at noon for nearly an hour and came to our present camp at 4 P.M. To guard against surprise, the whole command was ordered under arms at 3½ this morning and fortified with a cup of coffee, we prepared to receive the enemy if he attacked.” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, 7 May 1864.
Sunday, 8. Very warm. Moved camp last night about dark. We are on the right of the division and in battery. Lay on the ground by our pieces all night. Quiet. Moved a little to the rear this p.m. The 10th, 7th, and 6th Conn. regiments near us.
Monday, May 9, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Got up about three o’clock a.m. and started on the march about four. Went out to the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad. Met but few of the enemy. Tore up the railroad tracks for 6 or 8 miles. Encamped for a few moments on the battleground of Saturday.
Tuesday, 10. Pleasant and warm. Four of our pieces were stationed on the railroad where it crosses the pike. Quite a battle was fought on the left of us down near Petersburg. This morning went up the pike and had a sharp fight and drove the enemy [Battle of Chester Station].
“We have had a hard fight today and have been so far successful that we repulsed the enemy greatly outnumbering us, if we may believe the prisoners taken, and with heavy loss to them. Our own loss has been considerable. My loss is four men wounded and two horses killed. At one time I feared my battery would be taken and I, if alive, would write you next from Richmond. But the good conduct of our troops, under Providence, saved us.” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, dated 10 May 1864.
Wednesday, 11. Pleasant and warm. Returned to camp last night pretty tired. In yesterday’s fight, [Ebenezer] Wakely, Hall and [Edwin O.] Blatchley were wounded. Also had two horses killed. Today we have been laying off in camp. Quiet so far.
Thursday, May 12, 1864. Rainy. Started on a march about six o’clock. Went out to the Pike Road, continued up the road about one mile and encamped for the night. There was considerable skirmishing this p.m. and our folks drove them. Very rainy and bad laying out.
Friday, 13. Rainy and unpleasant. I slept on the ground and am wet through this morning. Got up several times during the night on account of picket firing. Tonight we are in battery within ten miles of Richmond on the Pike. There is 16 pieces of us. Received a letter from Sarah.
Saturday, 14. Rainy this a.m. and pleasant in p.m. We are about in the centre of our line of Battery. Kept hitched up all night. The Rebs fired at us severely yesterday p.m. Our troops gained their earthworks on the left yesterday p.m.
Sunday, May 15, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Moved to the front about noon yesterday. We gained their first line of works on the Pike yesterday. Had a severe fight yesterday p.m. [See fight at Proctor’s Creek] Lost one man killed and 6 wounded. Also had ten horses killed, 5 or 6 wounded. Moved to the rear half mile last night. Lieut. [George] Metcalf killed.
“Yesterday I was with my battery under a severe fire during which time some four hours I lost my 1st Lieut. (Metcalf) mortally wounded (since dead), one man killed, and some half dozen wounded. About 10 horses killed. It is seldom we have so severe a time of it and I have no fancy to repeat it. I escaped without a scratch…This morning I have had another artillery duel with the enemy and had but one man wounded. The same shell knocked the wheel of the gun in pieces…My men are nearly worn out by this hard work…We seem to have come to a standstill before the enemy’s entrenchments and heavy artillery is said to be coming up. My battery is losing nothing in reputation yet. Most of my men behave admirably. I am at this instant ordered to withdraw my pieces from action…” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, dated 15 May 1864
Monday, 16. Pleasant. The Rebs received reinforcements last night. This morning opened on us very heavy with artillery and musketry. Our section had a sharp fight with them this a.m. Went back to camp this p.m. It was very foggy this morning when they came down on us.
Tuesday, 17. Pleasant and warm. Remained in camp. A number of the Connecticut boys called on us. Wrote a letter to George and Sarah. Lieut. Metcalf died Sunday afternoon. One section is in fort.
Wednesday, May 18, 1864. Showery and warm. Took all our guns into the fort which is a short distance from camp. Our forces have fell back to the rifle pits which are about one mile from the fort. Considerable firing by gunboats and skirmishers.
Thursday, 19. Showery and warm. Lay by our guns in the breastworks last night. The enemy opened on us this morning with artillery but we didn’t reply. Considerable skirmishing. Our troops are strengthening the earthworks all along the line.
Friday, 20. Pleasant and warm. Lay by our guns in fort all night. Had to get up three times during the night for the Rebs came down on our pickets. During most of the day there has been heavy firing on both sides, Our troops drove them back and captured Brig. Gen. [William Stephen] Walker. [See From a Former Prisoner to Another: Brig. Gen. William Stephen Walker on Emerging Civil War]
Saturday, May 21, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Brig. Gen. Walker was badly wounded and captured by our troops yesterday p.m. Quiet during the night and today by our guns. It has been very quiet today. Our artillery has fired at them some. Wrote to Eugene.
Sunday, 22. Pleasant and warm. The enemy opened fire on us about ten o’clock last night and our batteries and pickets replied to them in good earnest. Our artillery blew up a caisson for them. Very quiet today. I went back to camp and put on clean clothes.
Monday 23. Pleasant and warm. Very quiet during the night. This is the sixth day we have been in this fort. I sent a letter to Fannie and Jeff. Received an old mail from Sarah, Ella, and Jeff. Went to camp and stayed a short time. Quiet this p.m.
Tuesday, May 24, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Goy up twice last night on account of picket firing but did not open any artillery on them. The rebel sharpshooter shot through my tent and into my haversack and broke the handle of my fork. It came very near my head. I wrote to Ed.
Wednesday, May 25. Pleasant and warm. Very quiet last night. This is the eighth day our guns have been in the fort. Large numbers are to work on the fortifications and they are making them very strong. Very quiet during the day.
Thursday, 26. Rained some during the night. The firing of the pickets disturbed us once during the night. I didn’t get up. Several showers during the day but has been quiet. This the 9th day we’ve been in fort.
“The view from the banks of the James [River] near my camp is very beautiful—river banks thickly wooded—precipitous, about 150 feet high—river winding. On opposite shore the ground stretches away in an undulating surface, varied and beautiful to the eye—all so quiet and peaceful till the crack of a rifle or bursting of a shell reminds us that we are not on a picnic…” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwood Letter, dated 26 May 1864.
Friday, May 27, 1864. Pleasant. Received a letter from George & Mr. Holcomb last evening. Also good news from Grant’s army. Quiet last night. Wrote a letter to Mr. Holcomb. The men are to work on the fort as usual.
Saturday, 28. Pleasant. Quiet during the night. This is the 11th day we’ve been in this fort. The pickets haven’t fired much for several days past. I wrote a letter to George. The 18th Army Corps have gone away. Rainy this evening.
Sunday, 29. Pleasant and cool. Very quiet during the night. Went down to camp this noon and from there went down to the James River and had a good wash. It has been very quiet today. Mr. [Henry] Clay Trumbull, the chaplain of the 10th preached in camp this p.m. His remarks were very good.
Monday, May 30, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Very quiet during the night and today until about half past five p.m. when the Rebs yelled and opened on us with artillery. It lasted about an hour. A few were wounded and killed. There has been heavy firing toward Richmond.
Tuesday, 31. Pleasant and warm. Quiet on our lines during the night. This morning there is heavy firing towards Richmond & towards Petersburg. Also some pickets at our front. The enemy opened on us with artillery about half past one p.m. Our battery replied. The firing lasted about one hour.
Wednesday, June 1. Pleasant and warm. The enemy opened on us very sharp with artillery about two o’clock this morning. It lasted about one hour. Our guns on the left and centre replied to them. I am on guard tonight. Te enemy opened again with artillery about ten o’clock this evening.
Thursday, June 2, 1864. Pleasant until about six pm. when it commenced raining. On guard. The enemy charged on our pickets about six this a.m. The report is that they drove them out of a part of the first line. They made several charges. The firing lasted about two hours. They opened on us with artillery about one p.m.
Friday, 3. Cloudy this morning. The enemy have not fired a gun since we replied to them yesterday p.m. I went down to camp a few moments this p.m. Hen is not very well. I wrote a letter to Sarah and sent two dollars for the Episcopal festival.
Saturday, 4. Cloudy and rainy. The enemy have been very quiet all night and day. Our folks are building another fortification in front of this battery. I received a letter from Fannie this a.m. We have been obliged to stay in our tents today.
Sunday, June 5, 1864. Cloudy and rainy. Cleared off this p.m. Very quiet all night. Gen. [Quincy Adams] Gillmore opened a few guns on the enemy about five o’clock p.m. The enemy replied with only three shots. I went down to camp about six o’clock and the enemy opened on us. Had to come right back.
Monday, 6. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night and day. Ed Phelps and I went down to camp this morning. I brought my knapsack up to the fort. I have been mending my clothes and cleaning myself up today.
Tuesday, 7. Cool and pleasant. Quiet during the night and day. The enemy fired three shots at us but we did not reply. Fixed a new platform for our gun. Sent a letter to Fannie.
Wednesday, June 8, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night. Drilled on piece this a.m. The enemy fired a few shots at us today but we didn’t reply. We are having quite easy times nowadays.
Thursday, 9. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night. Drilled on piece this a.m. A number of regiment have gone across the Appomattox. We have heard heavy firing that way all day. Our battalion on the left had a sharp engagement today.
Friday, 10. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night and day. It is reported that the expedition that crossed the Appomattox destroyed 6 or 8 miles of railroad and also the iron bridge. Sent a letter to George.
Saturday, June 11, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Everything has been quiet of late in front of our line. Heard heavy firing last evening in the direction of Richmond. There has been some firing over on the Appomattox.
Sunday, 12. Pleasant. All quiet about here except occasional firing over on the Appomattox. We can hear firing towards Richmond. We are still laying in the fort. A number of regiments of the 100 days’ men have arrived.
Monday, 13. Pleasant. Everything is quiet except occasional firing on the left. [William] McNary and myself went up to No. 3 Battery this a.m. We could see the Rebs very plain and also their earthworks.
Tuesday, June 14, 1864. Pleasant. All quiet during the night and day. Our officers thought the enemy were coming down on us and made us get up about eleven o’clock and remain up all night. Sent Eugene a letter.
Wednesday, 15. Pleasant. All quiet last night and today in our front. The report is that the 18th Corps has returned and today are moving on Petersburg. We can hear heavy firing in that direction.
Thursday, 16. Pleasant. On guard during the night and today. The enemy left their fortifications this morning and our forces took them and drove the enemy back about a mile. I saw about 60 prisoners which we took. The right and left section went out and shelled them. Tonight the enemy charged on our troops.
“It was found out very early this morning that there was no force of the enemy in our immediate front and we of course moved out to our works to see what had become of them, cautiously and slowly, capturing a few pickets as we advanced. Finding no large force, orders came to push on and cut the railroad again, and this has been done and the day’s work has consequently been satisfactory….The only fighting was done by our division and this principally skirmishing. We held the enemy in check while Generals [John Wesley] Turner & [Adelbert] Ames pushed out on our left and did the tearing up. I do not yet understand why the enemy allowed all this for our force was not large. Prisoners last taken state that we were fighting the advance guard of Lee’s army and that toward evening, Lee himself was just in front. So it seems we were stirring up the lion himself. About sunset we withdrew within our entrenchments closely followed by the enemy. Our loss has been slight so far as I can learn…Four of my guns were out & from from another battery. I had the pleasure of riding with the General [Alfred Howe Terry] who had a strong desire to see how far to the front he could go and not be hit. Fortunately we all escaped the balls that occasionally whistled by.” — Capt. Alfred P. Rockwell Letter, dated 16 June 1864.
Friday, June 17, 1864. Pleasant. Our troops fell back to their old line of picket post. The enemy made several charges on them but we repulsed. Quiet during the night in our front. The gunboats fired all night. There has been a good deal of firing today.
Saturday, 18. Pleasant. There has been a good deal of skirmish firing today. The enemy opened on us with artillery about three p.m. Only batteries on the left of us opened fire on them and fired a few times and they stopped. It is reported that our forces have taken three lines of the enemy’s around Petersburg and captured several guns.
Sunday, 19. Pleasant. Some picket firing along our lines during the night but today it has been very quiet. A part of the 6th Corps is in rear of our battery. I received a letter from Sarah yesterday and answered it today. Some firing Petersburg at the front. I don’t know the success.
Monday, June 20, 1864. Pleasant. The most of Grant’s army is here and down around Petersburg. They left the Chickahominy during last week and arrived at Bermuda Hundred and City Point Wednesday or Thursday. Very quiet during the day and night. Some of the troops have started tonight somewhere.
Tuesday, 21. Pleasant. Centre section left the fort this morning about four o’clock and started for Jones Neck. Arrived about eight. We crossed over the James on a pontoon bridge about noon and went into some breastworks near the bank of the river.
Wednesday, 22. Pleasant. Quiet during the night. Slept on the ground near the gun. Some picket firing today and tonight. The gunboats are firing at the enemy at a distance. Some of the infantry found 5 or 6 hundred dollars in gold and silver.
Thursday, June 23, 1864. Pleasant and warm. The gunboats have fired occasionally all night. There is three regiments of the hundred days’ men here to work on the breastworks day and night. There is also six other regiments here. President Lincoln passed here is a steamer yesterday,
Friday, 24. Pleasant and warm. Some firing by the pickets and gunboats during the night. It has been quiet during the day. The hundred days’ men have gone back to camp. it is quite lively here. Boats pass up and down the river quite often.
Saturday 25. Pleasant and warm. Very little firing by gunboats and pickets today. Our caissons stop on the other side of the river. On guard tonight. Very warm.
Sunday, June 26, 1864. Very warm. Our piece went up into the front redoubt this a.m. We fired three shots and the gunboats fired several. Some picket firing tonight when the relief went on. There is plenty of wheat and oats about here.
Monday, 27. It has been very warm and there has been showers all around us. Very little firing by the gunboats and pickets. The sect of Jersey Battery was relieved by the left section of ours yesterday p.m One deserter came in today.
Tuesday, 28. Pleasant and cool. Had a shower last night. Quiet last night and today with the exception of some picket firing. The left gun of our section came up this a.m. Left section guns are in the rear.
Wednesday, June 29, 1864. Pleasant. On guard last night. Some picket firing and also gunboats during the night. This a.m. the enemy opened on the gunboat Hunchback with artillery. The boat returned the fire. A monitor came down and fired.
Thursday, 30. Pleasant. Quiet during the night. The gunboats have fired some today but the enemy didn’t reply. About sundown the enemy opened several pieces away down the river across the [ ] creek. Our gunboats silenced them.
Friday, July 1. Pleasant and very warm. Quiet during the night and today. The infantry are hard to work building breastwork fortifications. I wrote a letter to George yesterday, I picked some blackberries.
Saturday, July 2, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night an today excepting a few shots from the gunboats. Went in a bathing tonight in the James. Our battery wagon and forge have come down and are on the opposite side.
Sunday, 3. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the day. The infantry are hard to work building breastworks. Quiet during the night. The weather is very warm and everything is drying up.
Monday, 4. Pleasant and warm. This is the third 4th [of July] I’ve spent in the army and its been a very quiet day. I’ve been to work filling bags with sand to make an embrasure for our gun.
Tuesday. July 5, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Got up about two o’clock this morning. We expected the enemy were coming down on us but they didn’t come. Been filling bags again today. Some firing by the enemy and our gunboats.
Wednesday, 6. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night and today. I have been to work on the embrasure today. One or two deserters come in most every day. Some firing by the boats.
Thursday, 7. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night and day. The infantry are hard to work on the breastworks and we are getting strongly fortified. Slight shower this p.m.
Friday, July 8, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Washed my clothes this morning about sunrise. Been to work on the embrasure again this p.m. Quiet during the day and night. On guard during the night.
Saturday, 9. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the day and night. We get a fine breeze up here when there is any. the army os somewhat quiet now days. I think they are getting ready for another move.
Sunday, 10. Pleasant and warm. Very quiet today. Lieut. Clinton inspected us this morning. I have been reading the papers today. The bands are playing nicely tonight.
Monday, July 11, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Quiet as usual today. On guard tonight. A party of one hundred men went up to Aiken’s Landing, captured thirteen privates and one Lieut. and burnt several buildings.
Tuesday, 12. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the night and day. Had a heavy shower this evening, it being the first one we have had for a long time. Received news of the destruction of the pirate Alabama and of the Rebel invasion North.
Wednesday, 13. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the day and night. Went a blackberrying and got a few which were very good. We are having very good and easy times now days here.
Thursday, July 14, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the day and night with the exception of the gunboats firing at a Rebel battery down near Malvern Hill. Went a berrying again today. Exciting news from the North.
Friday, 15. Pleasant and warm. Quiet during the day and night. I was surprised this one o’clock p.m. by the arrival of Eugene from City Point, it being the first time I had seen him in four years.
Saturday, 16. Pleasant. Eugene is still with me. A rebel battery opened on our gunboats laying below the pontoon bridge this a.m. and the report is that one was killed and seven wounded. Quiet during the night.
Sunday, July 17, 1864. Pleasant and warm. I saw Gen. Grant yesterday for the first time. He and Butler were over here and went out with a Flag of Truce. Eugene started for City Point about four o’clock p.m. Quiet this day and night. On guard.
I can find no record of Grant and Butler participating together in a Flag of Truce as suggested by Abels’ diary. In fact, Grant sent Butler a telegram from his headquarters on 18 July 1864 asking Butler “what was the result of the flag of truce yesterday?” Butler’s response was that the flag of truce boat had taken men up to Richmond and was not expected back for a couple of days.
Monday, 18. Pleasant and warm. Received a letter from Edward Stiles including his photograph. I was very glad to hear from him once more. Went a berrying today. Got a few. All quiet.
Tuesday, 19. Rainy all day. This is the first rainy day we have had for a long time. Wrote a letter to Edward. Sent my state check to New Haven to get it cashed. Firing toward Petersburg today. Cleared off during the night. All quiet.
Wednesday, July 20, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Some firing by gunboats and on the picket line. Went a berrying and had good success. On guard last night. There is but little news now days. A short shower this eve.
Thursday, 21. Pleasant and cool. William and I went a berrying this a.m. and had good luck. The 11th Maine Regiment went on a scout over on the other side of the four mile creek and captured a Lieut. and nine privates. Some firing along the lines.
Friday, 22. Pleasant and cool. The gunboats and one monitor have been firing all day into the woods on the opposite side of four mile creek. There has also been some picket firing. Had the toothache during the night and had it.
Saturday, July 23, 1864. Pleasant and cool. The monitor has been firing occasionally all day. Five regiments belonging to the 19th Corps from New Orleans arrived today and are on the opposite side of the river.
Sunday, 24. Cloudy and has commenced raining about dark Our section had to pull up stakes and cross over the Four Mile Creek. They laid another pontoon bridge across the river last night. The right section took our place.
Monday, 25. Pleasant. Rained very hard last night. Our bower & tent fell down onto us about two o’clock and we got wet through. My face has pained me very bad ever since I had the tooth pulled out this morning.
Tuesday, July 26, 1864. Pleasant and warm. My face is swollen very bad and is very painful. Five regiments of the 19th Army Corps is here with us. The enemy drove in our pickets during last night. One section of the 4th US Regular Battery came here this morning.
Wednesday, 27. Pleasant and warm. We shelled the enemy pretty lively yesterday. Had considerable skirmishing and some fifty or more killed and wounded. The 2nd Corps and Sheridan’s Cavalry came today. Troops have been coming all day.
Thursday, 28. Pleasant. Our section came over into the first redoubt last evening. The 2nd Corps captured four 20 lb. Parrott guns yesterday morning. Had a sharp fight. My face was very bad yesterday but it is better today.
Friday, July 29, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Our section moved up into the front battery this p.m. after fixing up another good shade. Our section and the right moved out to the front half a mile. The right section fired forty or fifty shots. Have been fixing up another tent. Some fighting on the other side of the creek.
Saturday, 30. Pleasant. The 2nd Corps and cavalry went back last night and today there is only a small squad of infantry of the other side of Four Mile Creek. The troops finished crossing this morning and they took up the pontoon bridge. Some pickets firing in our front today.
Sunday, 31. Pleasant and warm. Had inspection this morning. The Indiana Regiment which has been here of late received orders to move this p.m. They said they were [going to] to Washington. I wrote a letter to Ed. Quiet in our front today and during the night.
Monday, August 1, 1864. Pleasant. Quiet during the night. Received a letter from Fannie & answered it his p.m. Henry is sick and has gone over the river to our hospital tent. He has been complaining for some time. Quiet today.
Tuesday, 2. Pleasant and quiet today. I have been reading most of the day. The 4th Regulars which has been here a few days has gone away. It is showery tonight. There is some firing along the lines.
Wednesday, 3. Pleasant. Quiet during the day and night with the exception of some picket firing. We are having quite easy times now-a-days. We are in the front redoubt with the right section.
Thursday, August 4, 1864. Pleasant and everything is pretty quiet here just now. Our forces had rather bad luck last Saturday (the 30th)in front of Petersburg. They gained the first line of works but had to give them up. [See Battle of the Crater]
Friday, 5. Pleasant and warm. On guard last night. Drawed water for the cook today. Very heavy firing in the direction of Petersburg this evening and there has only been some firing along the river.
Saturday, 6. Pleasant & very warm. Some firing down the river. There has been a man here this p.m. taking a photograph of our camp and battery. Very quiet in our front.
Sunday, August 7, 1864. Pleasant and warm. Very quiet. Had our usual inspection this a.m. I have been writing to George & Sarah today. Some firing down the river.
Monday, 8. Pleasant & warm this p.m. There was a private in the 24th Massachusetts shot for desertion. He deserted from the Rebs a few days since and came in his own company by mistake. quiet about here.
Tuesday, 9. Pleasant and warm. I am not feeling very well today. The whole brigade turned out yesterday to see the man [deserter] shot. Heard a terrible explosion about 1 p.m. in the direction of Petersburg. [See City Point Wharf Explosion]
Wednesday, August 10, 1864. Pleasant and warm. We have heard that the explosion yesterday was an ordnance schooner at City Point. A large number of the one hundred days’ men were killed. Quiet.
Thursday, 11. Pleasant and warm. Henry is in the hospital over the river. He has been there over a week. I hear he is getting better. Deserters are coming into our lines everyday. All quiet. Codfish for dinner.
Friday, 12. Pleasant and warm. Wilbur Scranton has ben sick for two or three days. Had a good dinner this noon of fresh meat, potatoes, onions. Very quiet about here of late.
Saturday, August 13, 1864. Pleasant and warm. There has been a good deal of artillery firing today. The enemy opened on our working party at Dutch Gap. Our monitors and gunboats replied. They also opened on up in our front.
Sunday, 14. Pleasant and very warm. Got up this morning at four o’clock. The whole of the 10th Corps came here last night. The Second Corps is also on the other side of Four Mile Creek. We advanced and drove the enemy. Had a sharp engagement.
Monday, 15. Pleasant & warm. Last night about one o’clock, we came into our old redoubt. All the troops retired & crossed over Four Mile Creek where they have been fighting today. The 10th Corps captured 6 guns yesterday.
Tuesday, August 16, 1864. Pleasant and warm. The 10th & 2nd Corps & also some troops from S. C. are on the east side of Four Mile Creek and are having hard fighting at Deep Run. There were two Rebel generals killed. In last Sunday’s fight, the 10th Corps lost nearly two hundred killed and wounded. None of our company hurt.
During the night of August 13-14, the Union II Corps, X Corps, and Gregg’s cavalry division, all under command of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, crossed James River at Deep Bottom to threaten Richmond, coordinating with a movement against the Weldon Railroad at Petersburg. On August 14, the X Corps closed on New Market Heights while the II Corps extended the Federal line to the right along Bailey’s Creek. During the night, the X Corps was moved to the far right flank of the Union line near Fussell’s Mill. On August 16, Union assaults near Fussell’s Mill were initially successful, but Confederate counterattacks drove the Federals out of a line of captured works. Heavy fighting continued throughout the remainder of the day. Confederate general John Chambliss was killed during cavalry fighting on Charles City Road. After continual skirmishing, the Federals returned to the south side of the James on the 20th, maintaining their bridgehead at Deep Bottom. [American Battlefield Trust]
Wednesday, 17. Pleasant this a.m. but a hard shower just at night. The 10th and 2nd Corps are still advancing toward Richmond. We hear they captured two thousand prisoners yesterday. Got the enemy’s rifle pits but had to give them up. A good many killed and wounded on both sides.
Thursday, 18. Pleasant and warm. The 29th Connecticut and 8th North Carolina Colored Regiment have been stopping here for a few days past. They were relieved last night and went over to join the 10th and 2nd Corps. Very heavy firing during last night.
Friday, August 19, 1864. Cloudy and rainy most of the day. On guard last night. Heard very heavy firing toward Petersburg. The 10th and 2nd Corps had a terrible fight between 5 and 7 o’clock last night. We hear that the enemy made several charges on them and were repulsed with heavy loss.
No fighting occurred on August 17 and a truce was called to allow the two sides to retrieve their dead and wounded. Lee planned a counterattack against the Union right for 11 a.m. on August 18, a cavalry attack on the Charles City Road accompanied by an infantry attack at Fussell’s Mill. The effort was poorly coordinated and the cavalry was not ready to move until 5 p.m. Neither the cavalry nor the infantry made any significant gains before dark. That night Hancock sent a II Corps division back to Petersburg to man a part of the trench line while other units were sent from there to the Battle of Globe Tavern at the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad south of the city.[Wikipedia]
Saturday, 20. Cloudy and rainy. One division of the 2nd Corps and some cavalry went over to Petersburg last night to help the 5th Corps who it is reported have taken the Weldon Railroad running south of Petersburg. No fighting at Deep Bottom today.
Sunday, 21. Cloudy this a.m., cleared off this pm. The remainder of our troops evacuated Deep Run during the night. Foster’s Brigade came back this morning. The Brigade of the 10th Corps which has been here for 2 or 3 days pulled up stakes and has gone up to Bermuda Hundred.
Monday, August 22, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Wrote a letter to Eugene yesterday. Called on David Holmes last evening. Said he received a letter from his mother saying that Eugene had been sick and was up there with George. Quiet in front. Firing at Dutch Gap by gunboats.
Tuesday, 23. Pleasant and warm. Quiet in our front but some firing by artillery up at Dutch Gap. Good news from Petersburg of the taking of the Weldon Railroad by the 5th Corps.
Wednesday, 24. Pleasant and warm. Expected an attack last night and had to get up at three o’clock this morning. Wib and I went in bathing in the James this a.m. All quiet. We can see a good many johnnies about.
Thursday, August 25, 1864. Pleasant & warm. Received orders to march this a.m. Got everything ready & left Jones Neck about one p.m. for Point of Rocks on Petersburg side. Arrived about dark. Very hard shower this evening.
Friday, 26. Pleasant and warm. We are in Redoubt Converse. Have fixed up our tents & got settled again. Tonight have received orders to march again and arrived in front of Petersburg about midnight. Hard shower.
Saturday, 27. Pleasant. We are encamped within about two miles of Petersburg. There is a good deal of firing on both sides. Foster’s old brigade is here [consisting of the 24th Mass, 11th Maine, and 4 companies of the 10th Conn]. Col. [Harris Merrill] Plaisted is in command. Tonight our guns are [ ].
Sunday, August 28, 1864. Pleasant. This morning finds us at the front within two hundred yards of the enemy’s works. We came into the fort about midnight. A great deal of mortar firing last evening. We are in a hot place and the bullets come fast.
Monday, 29. Pleasant and warm. We are on the place formerly owned by Mr. O. P. Hare. The Battery we are in is called the O. Hare Battery. There is two mortars in it and also two in the rear of us. Lively firing this eve by artillery and mortars.
Oliver Abels recalls an incident of flower picking under difficulties in front of Petersburg. He says: “When we went in front of Petersburg, my section, the centre, went into a redoubt at the Hare House and remained there all the time we were in front of Petersburg. It was a very exposed position and every night we used to have an artillery duel, causing us to have a pretty lively time. The Hare House had in its day been a very fine place, but there was nothing left but the old chimney. There was a ditch dug through the garden and some nice flowers were growing near it. On one occasion I told the boys that I was going to get into this ditch and gather some flowers. No sooner had I commenced than the Johnnies began firing, and every time I raised my hand to pick a flower the bullets would whiz by. I know I thought, at the time, that it was picking- flowers under great difficulty. [History of the First Light Battery Connecticut Volunteers, pp. 566, 569].
Tuesday, 30. Pleasant. It has been very quiet for this place although the sharpshooters have fired considerable. Henry is sick and has gone back to camp. I have been washing today. We fired our gun about thirty times about night.
Wednesday, August 31, 1864. Pleasant. It has been pretty quiet today. We can see the churches & houses in Petersburg quite plain from here. Considerable picket firing last night. One of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery was wounded yesterday.
Thursday, September 1. Pleasant. Considerable picket firing last night. There has been a good deal of artillery firing today. We fired out all our ammunition. The enemy’s shot and shell dropped about our quarters thick and fast.
Friday, 2. Pleasant. Quiet during last night and but little firing today. I received a letter from George & Sarah & Ellen this morning. We exchanged papers with the johnnies last night & this morning.
Saturday, 3. Pleasant. Some picket firing during the night. Was on guard until eleven. Some considerable artillery and mortar firing today and this evening. I wrote a letter to George. Received news of the capture of Atlanta last night. The johnnies quiet.
Sunday, 4. Pleasant. It has been very quiet today and also during the night. This afternoon had considerable mortar firing. I have written Sarah and Ell a letter. Received official news of the surrender of Fort Morgan [at Mobile].
Monday, 5. Pleasant. Last night we received official news of the capture of Atlanta and had to get up at half past eleven and fire a salute of thirty-six guns. The battery and mortars opened all along the line. The johnnies fired some. Pretty quiet today.
Tuesday, September 6, 1864. Cloudy today. Rained some last night. Received a letter from Eugene yesterday. Sent him a note in Sarah & Ellen’s letter. Considerable artillery & mortar firing last evening. A large piece of a mortar shell struck very near William and myself. It is very dark and rainy tonight.
Wednesday, 7. Rainy during the night. Cleared off this morning. Quiet during the night. Considerable artillery this a.m. It has been a very pleasant day. Very quiet this evening. Some artillery during the night but didn’t get up.
Thursday, 8. Pleasant during the day but it is cloudy and rainy this evening. Considerable artillery firing today. Some of the shells and balls come quite near. No one hurt as far as I hear of. On guard from eleven to two.
Friday, September 9, 1864. Pleasant. Cleared off this morning. There has been a good deal of artillery & mortar firing this p.m. A good many balls & shells came near us but no one was hurt. Loud cheering for something this evening and some firing near our bomb proof.
Saturday, 10. Pleasant. Some firing by artillery & musketry last night. Also considerable artillery firing today. No one hurt nearby us. Received a letter from Eugene and Margaret. An old horse was killed by the johnnies today.
Sunday, 11. Pleasant. Quiet last night. It has also been very quiet today. William Scranton is now sergeant and has gone over to the left section. Had a shower about five p.m. On guard tonight. Pleasant moon tonight.
Monday, September 12, 1864. Cool and pleasant. On guard today. Very quiet last night & today. There is a large fatigue party to work making breastworks & bomb proofs. Sent a letter to Margaret.
Tuesday, 13. Pleasant and cool. Some considerable picket firing & little artillery. I have been washing my clothes today. Co. D, 1st [Conn.] Heavy Artillery has gone to Bermuda [Hundred]. Co. K taken their place.
Wednesday, 14. Pleasant. Received a letter from George this morning. Considerable musketry firing during the night and day. Opened on the city about eleven o’clock a.m. and fired one hour all along the line. Don’t know what for.
Thursday, September 15, 1864. Pleasant. On guard last night & today. Wrote a letter to Eugene. Very pleasant weather & beautiful nights. Large fatigue parties to work on the breastworks night and day. Pretty quiet today.
Friday, 16. Pleasant. I went out and exchanged papers with a Johnnie this a.m. Saw the dead bodies, some 8 or 10 laying on top of the ground in the cornfield between the lines. Some artillery. Wrote a letter to George. Pickets quiet in front.
Saturday, 17. Pleasant. Very quiet last night & today for this place. A Negro belonging to a working party was shot dead a short distance from our bomb proof. This noon built a ew platform for our gun.
Sunday, September 18, 1864. Somewhat cloudy. On guard last night & today. Received a long letter from Sarah this morning. Capt. Clinton inspected us this a.m. Some firing as usual.
Monday, 19. Pleasant. I don’t feel very well today. Considerable artillery and mortar firing today and our usual picket firing. I went out to exchange a paper this p.m. but it was an old one and didn’t exchange.
Tuesday, 20. Pleasant. I am feeling better than I did yesterday. Considerable artillery & Mortar firing today. Pretty quiet last night. Monthly inspection this a.m. by Lieut. Smith. Good news from Sheridan this evening.
Wednesday, September 21, 1864. Pleasant. On guard last night and today. The johnnies have fired occasionally all night. Fired a salute all along our lines at six this morning. We fired ten shots from each of our pieces. This salute was for Sheridan’s victory [at Cedar Creek].
Thursday, 22. Rainy and unpleasant today. The johnnies kept up their artillery and mortar fire occasionally all night. Considerable artillery firing today. Wrote a letter to Mr. Holcomb and to Maria & Sarah. The infantry are hard to work on the breastworks.
Friday, 23. Cloudy and a little rainy. Some firing today. Pretty quiet last night as it is raining. On guard tonight. Several Negroes were hit by sharpshooters yesterday and today. Quiet this evening.
Saturday, September 24, 1864. Cloudy and rainy. Received news of another victory by Sheridan up in the Valley. On guard. Fired a salute 6 a.m. of 12 guns in honor of Sheridan’s victory. Orders to move tonight.
Sunday, 25. Pleasant and cool. We moved from the front this morning about two o’clock. Today are in camp laying off waiting for orders. Very quiet in front but heavy firing on the right.
Monday, 26. Pleasant. Had a mounted drill this morning. An axle to one of the guns broke. Moved camp this p.m. Tonight we are encamped close to the railroad about half a mile from the old camp.
Tuesday, September 27, 1864. Pleasant. There is eight or nine batteries encamped near us. Busy fixing up things about here. Most every train of cars comes loaded with soldiers. The whole of the 10th Corps is encamped near us.
Wednesday, 28. Pleasant. Very busy fixing up our tents. I’m on fatigue [duty] this p.m. We are expecting to move again soon. We are receiving good news from Sheridan. Struck tents this a.m. and packed up everything. Left camp about noon.
Thursday, 29. Pleasant. There was nine different batteries came with us yesterday. This morning finds us near Jone’s Landing. We got here about ten o’clock last night. The 10th and part of the 18th Corps came over during the night. Crossed the river and drove the enemy back.
Friday, September 30, 1864. Pleasant. On guard during the night & today. Troops drove the enemy yesterday & captured a good many prisoners and about thirty guns. The enemy charged twice on our forces with loss. Good news from the front this eve.
Saturday, October 1. Rainy and unpleasant. We are now encamped a few rods from Jones’ Landing. There is not much fighting today. The ambulances are carrying in this a.m. filled with wounded johnnies.
Sunday, 2. Cloudy this a.m. Cleared off this p.m. Received orders to move about dark. We crossed over the [James] River and encamped on the left of our old redoubt. It’s very windy. The army has come to a standstill about four and a half miles from Richmond.
Monday, October 3, 1864. Cloudy and rainy. Pitched tents & got boards for floor. The troops have gained some very strong works within a few miles of Richmond. They captured 22 cannon. received a letter from George.
Tuesday, 4. Cloudy and unpleasant. Nothing new from the front today. Our forces are entrenching and making their position strong. Considerable firing about today and also this evening in the direction of Petersburg.
Wednesday, 5. Pleasant. Received orders to move this a.m. Started soon afternoon & marched up to the front about five miles of Richmond. Pretty tired tonight. Got settled down in the works at the front about eight in the evening.
Thursday, October 6, 1864. Pleasant. Very quiet along the lines. I went out this a.m. & exchanged papers with the johnnies. The two line of works are about 1500 yards apart and the pickets about 400. Both sides are busy to work.
Friday, 7. Pleasant. This has been an exciting day. The enemy opened on our left about nine this a.m. and soon after made a charge about one mile to our right on the New Market Road and were repulsed with heavy loss.
On October 7, 1864, two Confederate divisions, commanded by Major General Charles Field and Major General Robert Hoke, advanced down Darbytown Road. Supported by cavalry, Field’s infantry turned the Union right flank and attacked 1,700 cavalrymen, commanded by Major General August Kautz, from the rear. Caught by surprise, the federal troopers quickly retreated, leaving the Rebels in possession of the road and of eight Union cannons. Following up on his initial success, Field turned south to attack Major General Alfred Terry’s infantry division along New Market Road. Armed with Spencer repeating rifles, Terry’s well-entrenched soldiers presented a formidable obstacle. When Hoke failed to support Field’s assault, the Yankees easily repulsed the out-manned Rebels. The battle ended before noon when the Confederates withdrew to the Richmond defenses. [American History Central]
Saturday, 8. Pleasant & cool. Quiet last night & today. Been shoveling today on our works. Wrote a letter to George. On guard tonight. John Chapman and I went up to Fort Harrison.
Sunday, October 9, 1864. Cold and pleasant. Quiet during the night and today. The enemy are busy strengthening their works as well as we are. Hen has been unwell for several days. It’s cold and the fire feels good tonight.
Monday, 10. Cool ad pleasant. Quiet during the night and today with the exception of some firing on the river by the monitors and gunboats. Chapman and I went up to Fort Harrison. Saw Gen. Butler, Grant, Barnard & others.
Tuesday. 11. Pleasant & cool. Quiet along the lines during the night and today. Some firing along the river. Hen isn’t any better & has gone back to camp. We are with the 18th Corps now. Deserters come in very fast.
Wednesday, October 12, 1864. Cool and pleasant. Last evening we received orders to move & struck our tents. About ten o’clock orders came that we shouldn’t be relieved so we put up our tents and retired. Had an alarm at three this morning & had to turn out.
Thursday, 13. Cool and pleasant. Left the front yesterday about eleven a.m. and went back to the caisson camp and stayed till about two when we all moved. Went a mile or two and stopped till about dark. Then turned around and went back to headquarters camp for the night.
Friday, 14. Pleasant & cool. Yesterday morning found us pretty well wet through as it rained very hard the fore part of the night. We got up yesterday morning at four. Started about five and went to the extreme right. Had a fight and got repulsed [by Field’s Confederate Division]. Returned to headquarters about dark. Received a letter from Eugene & Sarah yesterday Answered Eugene yesterday.
Saturday, October 15, 1864. Pleasant and cool during the nights but warm daytimes. Our side must have lost between 3 and 4 hundred killed & wounded. Our battery covered the retreat & fired about one hundred shots into the woods in front of us. We are stopping near the headquarters. Quiet.
In combination with movements against the Boydton Plank Road at Petersburg, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler attacked the Richmond defenses along Darbytown Road with the X Corps. The XVIII Corps marched north to Fair Oaks where it was soundly repulsed on 27 October 1864 by Maj. Gen. Charles W. Field’s Confederate division. Confederate forces counterattacked, taking some 600 prisoners. The Richmond defenses remained intact.
Sunday, 16. Pleasant. We are encamped near Gen. Terry’s & also artillery headquarters. No inspection. Wrote a letter to Sarah. Sizer of Tariff was killed in the fight of Thursday. He belonged to the 7th Connecticut Battery. All quiet.
Monday, 17. Pleasant. Acting orderly for the Captain today. Capt Warner of the5th New Jersey Battery is being court martialed here. All quiet about here. We have been in the 10th Corps since we left the front. Prior to that we were in the 18th Corps.
Tuesday, October 18, 1864. Pleasant. Had a mounted inspection; also a foot inspection this a.m. Nothing doing this p.m. We are having pretty hard living now days and the boys growl considerable. Cold and chilly nights of late.
Wednesday, 19. Pleasant. On fatigue [duty] today. Mounted drill this a.m. Very quiet about here. They are learning the recruits now days.
Thursday, 20. Pleasant. Mounted drill this a.m. I have been down to the 6th Regiment Conn. this p.m. with Jeff Davis. Cloudy this evening. Heard from Hen this a.m. by Wib. Was about the same as when he left.
Friday, October 21, 1864. Pleasant. Received pay about nine o’clock last night. Today have been busy settling up accounts. Mounted drill this a.m. This has been a busy day with the boys. Received good news from Sheridan.
Saturday, 22. Cloudy. Rained some during the night & today. Wrote a letter to Henry. Had a slight snow this p.m. Some firing towards Dutch Gap.
Sunday, 23. Pleasant. Had a mounted and also a foot inspection this a.m. Settled with Richardson by gobbling five dollars from him whilst he was playing bluff. Jim McKinney came up to see me this p.m.
Monday, October 24, 1864. Pleasant. On fatigue today and have been very busy. The guns of the right section have gone into the works at the front. All quiet about here. We are having cool nights.
Tuesday, 25. Pleasant. Mounted drill this a.m. The recruits have to drill on the pieces twice a day. Received a letter from George saying that Mary was sick with typhoid fever.
Wednesday, 26. Pleasant. I have been helping build a log house today for the officers. Fourteen of the boys time expired today. They got their discharges and left this p.m. for home. Wrote to George.
Thursday. October 27, 1864. Pleasant this a.m. but rainy p.m. Started this morning for the Darbytown Road for another reconnoissance with the 10th Corps. Drove the enemy into their works. Fired about 200 shots. The 18th Corps went still farther to the right and had a sharp fight.
Friday, 28. Very rainy during the night but cleared off this morning. We have been in battery all night near the Darbytown Road. It was an awful night for us & no sleep. Considerable picket firing today. Fell back this .m. in good order.
Saturday, 29. Pleasant. Returned to camp about dark last night. The 10th & 18th Corps did not accomplish much. Loss between 4 and 5 hundred killed and wounded. Our battery covered the retreat yesterday. Tonight finds our battery at Bermuda Hundred to exchange guns.
Sunday, October 30, 1864. Pleasant. We have had a good time and plenty to eat since we arrived here at Bermuda [Hundred]. Henry came down this morning & took the boat for hime with a 15 days furlough in his pocket. We got our new light twelve-pounder guns today and got back to camp soon after dark.
Monday, 31. Pleasant. Jim McKinney called on me this p.m. and said he had a letter from his wife saying that brother George’s wife Mary was dead. This was sad news. I wrote a letter to Sarah and Henry this eve.
Tuesday, November 4. Pleasant and cool. Wells and I have been down to Mr. Libby’s house getting brick today for the officers’ log houses. Feel pretty tired tonight. There has been several non-commissioned officers made. [Morrison] Bacon is corporal.
Wednesday, November 2, 1864. Cloudy this a.m. and rainy this p.m. There were 16 more of our boys discharged this p.m. and left for hime, full of glee. It is very quiet about here now. I stood two hours guard tonight and then had to go to work packing ammunition.
Thursday, 3. Rainy and very unpleasant. We were up all night fixing and packing ammunition. Left camp with four pieces about two o’clock this morning. Tonight our section is in a fort near New Market Road.
Friday, 4. Very rainy last night but cleared up this morning. It is very muddy and awful getting about. Considerable many troops have gone away somewhere. Also several batteries. Cold this eve. Got our tents up and a good place to sleep.
Saturday, November 5, 1864. Pleasant and cool. Commenced building a magazine and have been cutting and bringing poles. Colonel Jackson was here and set the Darkies at it. Received a letter from Eugene.
Sunday, 6. Pleasant and quiet. We are having pretty easy times here. It was a very cold night and froze quite hard. There is a good many encamped about here. Face is very sore.
Monday, 7. Rainy & very unpleasant. On guard last night. My face is much better today. Jack opened it yesterday p.m. and it has been getting better since. It is very muddy here now. I had [trouble] getting about.
Tuesday, November 8, 1864. Cloudy and rainy. On fatigue. Also helping Morris and Penharlow build a log house. Have got along with it nicely & are going to sleep in it tonight. Two companies of the 29th Connecticut are still here.
Wednesday, 9. Pleasant. Received a letter from George this morning. Have been helping the boys build a chimney and fix their log house. They have got a good one.
Thursday, 10. Rainy this a.m. Cleared off this p.m. On guard last night and today. They are finishing up the magazine. We are having pretty cold nights.
Friday, November 11, 1864. Pleasant. In camp. The boys are b=very busy fixing up things for winter. I am still in the fort with our section of guns. Lieut. Dickerson in command.
Saturday, 12. Pleasant. I have been mending my clothes today. Went down to Deep Bottom after Lieut. Dickerson. Waited about three hours and then returned without him.
Sunday, 13. Pleasant excepting a snow squall. My three years will be out today if I live and I sincerely hope I shall live to see this day. [This sentence in bold seems to have been written sometime prior to the actual date] I am alive and well and have got my discharge this p.m. and am in Bermuda Hundred tonight with ten other boys.
Monday, November 14, 1864. Pleasant & cool. Ten of us started about five o’clock yesterday and got down to Bermuda Hundred about seven. Stayed in old house overnight. Took the steamer Thomas Collier and arrived at Fortress Monroe about three. Tonight are stopping at Hampton.
This 1863 diary was kept by Pvt. Edwin Elliot Richardson (1839-1915), the son of Winthrop Richardson (1804-1877) and Fannie Dwight Thompson (1806-1869). Edwin enlisted on 20 August 1862 and was mustered into the service on 25 September 1862, becoming a member of Co. A, 46th Massachusetts Volunteers—a nine months organization.
The following summary of the regimental history comes from Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Activities of Co. A are highlighted in bold font.
The regiment left camp Nov. 5 and proceeded to Boston where it took transports for North Carolina. Newbern was reached Nov. 15, and here the regiment was assigned to Col. H. C. Lee’s Brigade. The regimental camp was established on the banks of the Neuse River near the city. Companies “A” and “K” were soon assigned to the duty of guarding the railroad station at Newport Barracks on the railroad from Newbern to Beaufort.
The first active duty of the regiment was during the Goldsboro expedition. Starting Dec. 11, it was present at the battles of Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro, Dec. 14, 16, and 17, but was only slightly engaged and suffered little loss. Returning to Newbern, Dec. 20, the regiment was soon established in a new camp near the confluence of the Neuse and the Trent. Colonel Bowler who, though ill, had accompanied the regiment to Kinston, now resigned, and Lieut. Col. Shurtleff was promoted to colonel. Co. “A” now returned from detached duty, and Co. “F” under Capt. Russell H. Conwell took its place.
On March 13 and 14, 1863, the regiment took part in the defense of Newbern against a Confederate force under General Pettigrew who sought to recapture it on the first anniversary of its occupation by the Union forces. Ten days later the six companies which comprised the main part of the regiment were sent to Plymouth, where from March 26 to May 8 they formed apart of the garrison of that place. Companies “F” and “K” I it will be remembered, were absent on detached duty, and Companies “A” and “I” were left behind at Newbern. Soon after May 8 the six companies returned to Newbern, and the regiment was now quartered in barracks.
May 21 the regiment with the rest of Col. Lee’s Brigade took part in an expedition to Gum Swamp, about eight miles from Kinston, where it was engaged May 22, returning to Newbern the following day without loss. Early in May Companies “A” and “I”, which had been left behind when the regiment went to Plymouth, were sent to Batchelder’s Creek to do outpost duty under Colonel Jones of the 58th Pa. Here, May 23, when their position was heavily assaulted by the enemy, Capt. Tifft with these two companies hold an advanced redoubt long after the rest of the command had retired. For exceptional bravery on this occasion Sergt. A. S. Bryant of Co. “A” was promoted to sergeant major and received a Congressional Medal of Honor. Early in June, as the term of the 46th was drawing to a close, over 100 members re-enlisted in the 2d Mass. Vol. Heavy Artillery which was then being organized. The remainder of the regiment embarked, June 24, for Fort Monroe.
On its way home the regiment volunteered for service with the Army of the Potomac during the emergency caused by Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania. It served doing patrol and guard duty in or near Baltimore, Md., from July 1 to 6, and was stationed on Maryland Heights near Harper’s Ferry from the 7th to the 12th. On the 12th as a part of the brigade of Genl. Henry S. Briggs it joined the 1st Corps, Army of the Potomac, at Funkstown, Md., in front of the Confederate position at Falling Waters. After Lee’s retreat into Virginia the regiment was ordered to Massachusetts, reaching Springfield, Mass., July 21. Here the men were furloughed for one week, re-assembling at Hampden Park, July 29, when they were mustered out of the service.
Edwin later served as a corporal in Co. A, 8th Massachusetts Infantry from which regiment he mustered out of the service on 10 November 1864 as a veteran. He married Eliza J. Bull on 31 December 1863 at Springfield, Massachusetts.
Note: This diary is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.
E. E. Richardson, Co. A, 46th Regt. M. V. M., New Bern, N. C.
Thursday, January 1, 1863. Newport Barracks. New Years I went to Bogue Sound with H[enry] O. Davidson. Went across over to the island & went across to the sea shore gathering a few shells & brought them to camp. We was over 2 hours rowing to the Block House. got back to camp after dark, wet and tired. Do not think I shall go again very soon. I dit up till 11 o’clock to write an answer to a letter from E. J. B. [Eliza J. Bull] & then went to bed & slept sound till morning.
Friday, January 2, 1863. Went on picket with H. O. Davidson. It was a cold night. I did not suffer so much with the cold as I have other nights. Our captain [Russell H. Conwell] came up to see us on horse back. was thrown off when near us. A fair day.
Saturday, 3rd Came off from picket. Did not feel much like work. Cleaned up my gun and went to bed and slept awhile. Felt better. Went up to Newport and got some molasses. It was a fair day.
Sunday 4th 1863. I went & got an axe & chopped up our log of wood in the morning. After that I washed up & Banks & I mixed up some thin cakes & we had them for supper. It was a fair day.
5th (Monday). Went on picket with E[lijah] A. Newell & E[phraim] A. Perkins on No. 5 in the railroad. It was cloudy. I was sick in the night. Did not eat any breakfast. The 69th Ohio Regt. went up to New Bern. received a letter from my sister.
Tuesday 6th 1863. Came off picket. Cloudy & foggy. Have not done much but clean my gun & went to bed & went up to where my brother was on picket. We did not have any dress parade. Received a paper from E. J. B. Rainy day. “Quebeck” [probably the password for the day]
Wednesday 7th 1863. It is cooler today. Did not feel so well today. A[rthur] H. Fay gave me some cough candy. A fair day. “Montreal” [probably the password for the day]
Thursday, 8th January 1863. I went on picket with my brother & A[lbert] H. Moore. It is not quite so cold today. Sent a letter to E. J. B. “Yorktown” [probably password of the day]
Friday, 9th 1863. Came off picket this morning. Is nothing new atall nowdays. The report is that we stay here and are not to go on the expedition.
Saturday, 10th. Another blowless victory fought last night. The long roll was beat about quarter of 12 & we tumbled out. Co. K was on picket in the woods. They shot a cow. We stayed about half an hour & then we went to bed but I did not sleep very sound. Cludy and rainy.
Sunday 11th. Did not go on picket. Was sick this morning. There was a thunder shower last night—the first we have had since we have been down here. Fair day.
Monday, January 12, 1863. Went on picket with [Charles M.] Hosford & [Charles M.] Stimson on No. 2 in the woods. It was warm all night. Nothing extra happened. Captain [Russell H.] Conwell came down to see us. A fair day.
Tuesday, 13th 1863. Came off picket in the morning. Went om p.m. down the railroad on a hand car and back again. There was two trains of troops went to Morehead. No mail come yet.
Wednesday, 14th. Got a pass and went outside of the lines about two miles. A deserter was caught. He belongs to the 9th N. J. Regt. They put him in the guard house. I do not know what they will do with him. A fair day. “Camden” [password of the day]
Thursday, 15th 1863. Went on picket with W[illis] G. Jones & C[harles] M. Stimson on No. 2 on the railroad. It rained hard most all night. Received a letter from Springfield [E. J. B.] & answered it & sent up on the cars. The 9th New Jersey went up to New Bern. “Blackwater” [password of the day]
Friday, 16th 1863. Came off picket this morning. Cleaned my gun and done some washing. Loafed around the rest of the day. Nothing going on. The same old routine. Received a letter from home, answered it, and sent it up on the train. A fair day.
Saturday, 17th. We went out in the morning and cut down two trees and then got the team & drew them up & in the p.m. I got a pass to Newbern on the cars. Stayed with William Helman, Co. D. Had a good time. They are all paid off.
Sunday, 18th. Took the cars at Newbern and came down here. Arrived about half past 10 . as soon as I got back I went on picket with C[harles] M. Hosford and W[illie] G. Jones on No. 2 in the woods. Never have been on [with] them before.
Monday, 19th. Came off picket this morning. cut my finger yesterday. 30 contrabands came in tonight. I guess they will get the place soon full.
Tuesday, 20th. Went on picket with [Charles] Sikes and [Charles] Stimson on No. 7 in the woods. It was rainy in the daytime. It commenced to rain at 5 o’clock. It rained hard till 11 o’clock. Then it cleared off.
Wednesday, 21st. Came off picket with a wet skin. Gun would not go off. Woe to the Rebs. Nothing new going to today.
Thursday, 22nd. Nothing new. Some cavalry came in to camp. We had a skirmishing drill tonight. Cloudy day.
Friday, 23rd 1863. Rushed n picket with Stimson and Hosford on No, 6 railroad. The 27th Mass. V. M. went to Morehead last night. Nothing new.
Saturday, 27th 1863. Came off picket. 74 horses for the battery went up to Newbern. The 44th [Mass.] Regt. went down to Morehead. I guess they are going on the expedition. There is a flying report that [we] are going to Newbern. Don’t believe it.
Sunday, January 25th. Stimson and I got a pass to go outside of the lines about 4 miles to Porters. we got a dinner. Two regiments went down to Morehead. It was a nice fair day. 4 months today since we were sworn into the service of the U. S.
Monday, 26th 1863. On picket with Jones & Stimson on No. 1 in the woods. had a pleasant time. troops are going back & forth. Grand rounds came along half past 3.
Tuesday, 27th 1863. came off picket. Nothing going on. The same old routine of duty & once in awhile a train of cars comes down from Newbern & then we run down to the depot.
Wednesday, 28th. We had a mail come and sealed orders for us to go to Newbern to the regiment. Another engagement last night. None killed but the only meeting house in the place was burned to ashes. Sad catastrophe.
Thursday, 29th. Went on picket on No. 6 on the railroad with [Thomas M.] Hazelton & [Richard] Ryan. Co. F came down to relieve us & we went down & packed our knapsacks & got ready to start for Newbern. Took the cars about 3 o’clock & got to camp about sundown. went into Co. F’s tents and slept on the straw. We have been down almost two months. We have had a good time.
Friday, 30th 1863. A good, nice day. Went out on battalion drill. They gave us blank cartridges to drill with. quite exciting times. We made a terrific charge on the enemy [in sham battle]. They were repulsed of course.
Saturday, 31st 1863. A nice day. We had a Battalion [drill] in knapsacks. We were inspected by the Col. & Major afterwards. We had a dress parade.
Sunday, Feb. 1st 1863. There was a squad went down town to church. Went to the Methodist. Co. D squad was put in the guard house. We got along all right.
Monday, Feb. 2nd 1863. We went over on our old parade ground on a brigade drill. We fired blank cartridges. We made the poorest show we ever have since we have been in the service.
Tuesday, Feb. 3rd 1863. Thunderstorm in the night & it flew around cold quite sudden & when we got up there was an inch of snow. Only think—the Sunny South. went on guard. Snowed till a.m.
Wednesday, 4th Feb. Came off guard this morning. Had a tough night of it. I had to run most all of the time. I was on guard to keep warm. It was the coldest time [since] I have been in the service. We were relieved once in an hour in the daytime. I had much rather be on picket at Newport Barracks.
Thursday, Feb. 5th 1863. It rained all day and night. There is nothing new except there is an election of officers. Lieut. Col. Shurtliff is elected Col.
Friday, 6th 1863. Rainy today. Again there was an election in our company. 1 Lieut. [Lewis A.] Tifft is Captain. G[ideon] Wells is 1st Lieutenant, and Ed Rodgers is acting 2nd Lieutenant.
Saturday 7th 1863. No drill today. It has cleared off & it seems quite refreshing. We had a dress parade.
Sunday, 8th 1863. Went down town to church. Went to the Presbyterian church. It seemed the most like home of anyplace I have been since. Dress parade.
Monday, 9th 1863. Went on guard the 2nd [time] I have been on since I came up here. I had a good time to be on guard.
Tuesday 10th. My brother & I got a pass and went down town for the first time since I have been in Newbern. Went down to the wharf and around the city.
Wednesday, 11th 1863. Today we received our long looked for mail. I received two letters, two papers—one from Springfield, one from my brother. A J. A. Sturtevant called to see us. He is going to carry our letters fo us when he goes home. we had a brigade drill in the p.m. over on the parade ground.
Thursday, 12th 1863. It is a pleasant dat. We had a company drill in the morning & in the p.m. we had a battalion drill & dress parade. They are putting us through now.
Friday, 13th 1863. A nice day. Had company drill in the morning. Went on Brigade Drill in the p.m. Sent a letter to Springfield.
Saturday. 14th 1863. I went on guard for 3rd time since I have been up here. Had a good time to be on guard.
Sunday, Feb. 15. Came off guard this morning. Did not go down to church. Did not feel well.
Monday, 16th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning. Had a brigade drill. I did not go out. I went & shoveled. Had a good time.
Tuesday, 17th 1863. We had a battalion drill in the rain. Jas. A. Sturtevant started for the North.
Wednesday, 18th. Rainy. Did not have any drill. I went over to the 25th [Mass.] to see Charley Wetherell. He was from New Braintree.
Thursday, 19th 1863. Went on Battalion drill in the morning. Went down to the hospital to see D. J. Thomas. He is in the Academy Green Hospital. He has got the consumption I think.
Friday, 20th 1863. I went to cook house to work all day. The company had battalion drill in the a.m and in the p.m. brigade drill.
Saturday, Feb. 21st 1863. We drill all day long. Had a dress parade at night. There was a matched game of Ball played between our regiment and the 25th [Mass.] I did not learn which regiment played the best.
Sunday 22nd 1863. Rainy all day. No services in the camp. No dress parade. It was a lonesome day. It was the anniversary of the birth of Washington. A year ago I was in Springfield. Went down town to see the illumination of the city. There was a fire on Howard Street.
Monday, 23rd 1863. We had a company drill in the morning. In the p.m. we had battalion drill. We marched at slow time.
Tuesday, 24th 1863. Went on guard instead of going on general inspection over he river. Received a paper from Springfield.
Wednesday, 25 Feb. Came off guard this morning. Hosford & i got a pass & went down town. they were raising a flag pole in front of Gen. Foster’s headquarters. Rained hard all the morning.
Thursday, 26th 1863. Had a battalion drill in the p.m. and in the morning had a company drill. Sent a letter home.
Friday, 27th 1863. The company went on drill in the morning. I did not go. We received our greenbacks after so long a time. I had began to think we should never get it.
Saturday, 28th. We went out with out knapsack and equipments for inspection to be mustered in for our next 2 month pay.
Sunday, March 1st 1863. I wrote a letter to Charles Flagg. I also sent another to Springfield. Rainy day. Did not go to church.
Monday, 2nd. We heard that Companies F & K were coming up & the 51st [Mass.] is going on picket duty.
Tuesday, 3rd 1863. Went on guard for H. O. D. Our company moved their quarters onto the left of the regiment.
Wednesday, 4th 1863. Came off guard. Hosford & I got a pass & went down town. I got my profile taken. It was not good. I reckoned they though because I was down in North Carolina they would make a negro of me. It is my sister’s birthday.
Thursday, 5th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning. The cooks had orders to cook 3 days rations so as to be ready at any time to leave.
Friday 6th 1863. Had company drill in the morning & battalion drill in the p.m. & to top off with had a dress parade.
Saturday, 7th 1863. We did not have any drill at all. The regiment played ball & more. I went over to the fort to see how things looked. Had a dress parade.
Sunday, 8th 1863. We are still under marching orders. 15 men out of this regiment went out to escort some wagons up to the 25th regiment. Had a dress parade.
Monday, 9th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning and battalion drill in the p.m. and dress parade afterward.
Tuesday, 10th. Had a company drill in the a.m. ad the boys that went off with the 25th Sunday came back & the 25th came back from the expedition.
Wednesday, March 11th 1863. We did not have any drill all day. The 5th came over on our parade ground & drilled. Had a dress parade. No mail in yet.
Thursday, arch 12th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning and battalion drill in the p.m. and also dress parade. There was an express came for the regiment. Some of them had a little too much to be joyful and got into the guard house. No mail in.
Friday, March 13th 1863. Had a company drill in the a.m. It is very cold. I washed in ice water this morning. No drill in the p.m. Had dress parade.
Saturday, March 14th 1863. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Newbern. I finished last night’s report with dress parade. Well, just as we got most through, 2nd Lieut. [Daniel J.] Marsh came with orders for the 46th to get ready as quick as possible for a march. The 25th went before us and started. We went right away. We went on a quick march up about 9 miles where the 25th was on picket. We were drawn up in line of battle and spread our blankets and laid down to sleep. We got up early & slung our blankets ready for business, About 7 o’clock, we fell in to line & marched down toward the woods where the Rebs was. Our Colonel got us in position & ordered us to lay down. We had been there half and hour when orders came for us to march back to Newbern because the Rebs were shelling Newbern. We arrived here at 11 o’clock. The Rebs had not got in yet. Newport Barracks was taken early this morning. I do not expect it is all over yet. We started again at 5 o’clock back on the same road that we went before. It seemed as though Ic could not hardly put one foot before the other but after I got out two miles I could go quite easy. We encamped about 6 miles out from Newbern.
Sunday, 15th. Morning we got up early and got our breakfast of hard tacks and salt horse and done up our blankets ready for orders. The 43rd [Mass.] was encamped near us. About 5 o’clock orders came for us to push on. The 43rd took the lead and we supported the Battery. Went on two miles and encamped for the night. Company A and H went on picket. Our company in the rear and the other in the advance, I went on picket the first two hours and then came in and went to bed. About 5 o’clock we were all waked up to get our breakfast and be ready for the march.
Monday 16th. We started on for the Rebs. We went 6 miles in the advance and then we were drawn up in line of battle about an hour and then we were received orders to march back. We marched back to where the 25th were stationed. Our pickets and Companies A, K, I, & F went on picket and the rest of the regiment went in to Newbern.
Tuesday, 17th. We stayed there till 3 o’clock when we started again for Newbern. We arrived here about half past 5, foot sore and weary. I expect the next orders will be for Plymouth.
Wednesday, 18th. Had a good night’s sleep. Wrote a letter to Springfield. A cold, rainy day. No dress parade or drill.
Thursday, 19th 1863. A cold rainy day. Put two letters—one to Springfield and another Westboro. Cold and rainy.
Friday 20th. A cold rainy day. Nothing going on. Dull as ever. Expect orders every hour to go to Plymouth. Brother [Alfred] went on guard.
Saturday, 2nd 1863. Went on guard. A cold, rainy day. Have not had orders to go to Plymouth yet.
Sunday, 22, 1863. Did not go to church. There was no passes given out. Expecting orders all day to leave but they did not come. Cleared off.
Monday, 23rd 1863. A nice fair day. I played a game of Ball. We had a dress parade. I wrote a letter to Springfield. Two companies of our regiment started for Plymouth this morning. They went on the steamer Escort. I don’t know ow soon we shall go.
Tuesday, 24th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning and battalion drill in the p.m. and dress parade. I had a letter from Charles Flagg.
Wednesday 25 1863. Today is the anniversary of the 46th Regiment being 6 month from the 25th of June. We had a battalion drill and dress parade with our new hats on.
Thursday, 26th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning. In the p.m. orders came for the rest of the regiment to go to Plymouth. Co. A & I did not go. We are always at the tail end of the heap.
Friday, 27th 1863. Had a company drill. In [p.m.] played New York game. It is hard work to play that game. Had dress parade.
Saturday, 28th 1863. Played the New York game all day. There was not ay drill for a wonder. No dress parade.
Sunday 29th 1863. I was on guard. It rained all day as usual. Orders came for us to pack up and get ready to go to Plymouth but it was countermanded.
Monday 30th 1863. Had a p.m. drill out of 2 companies regular Newport Barracks style. I did not drill. I got a pass to go down street and saw J. Kilmer.
Tuesday, 31st 1863. Had a company drill in the morning. In the p.m. Alfred & I went down to see John Kilmer of the 27th. He is teamster. He is down on the river.
Wednesday, April 1st 1863. We had a company drill in the morning, No drill in the p.m. We received orders to have everything ready in at a moment’s notice. Firing was heard in the distance.
Thursday, 2nd April. It is fast day in Mass. We had battalion drill in the morning. In the p.m. had a company drill in firing and loading on our knees. Had a dress parade. Had a letter from E. J. B.
Friday, April 3rd 1963. We had a battalion drill in the morning & dress parade at night. I commenced a letter to Springfield but the wind blew the dust & it was so cold I gave it up for another day.
Saturday, 4th 1863. No drill today. The wind blew so hard last night that I thought the tent would come down. I finished my letter & mailed it. I went over to the 25th to see Charley Wetherell. Stayed till 10 o’clock talking over old times.
Sunday, April 5th 1863. We had a company inspection in the morning. We went down town to church in the p.m. It has been a nice, pleasant day. The 3rd Mass. M. V. received orders to march for Washington. Various reports are flying as to position of our army at Washington.
Monday, 6th April 1863. Had a company drill in the morning & then played ball in the p.m. Had a dress parade to top off with.
Tuesday, 7th April. Ditto.
Wednesday, 8th April 1863. Had a battalion drill in the a.m. of two hours & over a big thing on [ ] dress parade to top off with.
Thursday, 9th. Went on guard i the morning. About 10 o’clock orders came for us to pack our knapsacks and march over the river. we started about 12 o’clock and marched down to the boat. When we got there, orders came for us to leave our knapsacks on the boat and proceed with baggage train as guards. We started about 3 o’clock with the train and arrived with main body of the army at 2 in the morning and such a march and a bad place I never saw to get wagons through. There was two wagons in the train that our two companies & one company of the 175th Pennsylvania that we had charge of. We were surprised that we sought so soon. Come to find out they had a brush with the enemy & had retreated back 12 miles & were going back to Newbern in the morning. We encamped out in the woods till morning. I did not go to sleep all the while I was gone.
Friday, 10th 1863. We started about 7 o’clock to retreat back. I kept back with the company for the first few miles & then I went on ahead till I was within a mile of the river. Then I waited for the company to come up. Then we went down to the house we started from & stayed there till sundown when we started for this side of the river when we got here at 9 o’clock, tired and weary and glad to go to bed I’ll bet.
Saturday 11th 1863. I wrote a letter & put it in the office. I did not have time to write what I wanted to. Major he had to get us out into line and march us over to the river so as to get our regular drill out of us.
Sunday, 12th 1863. They had a company inspection in the morning, of guns in the p.m. We were called out & the roll was called of both companies by the Major. Had a dress parade.
Monday, 13th April 1863. I did not answer to roll call. Felt quite unwell. They had a battalion drill and dress parade.
Tuesday, April 14th 1863. Had a company drill in the morning. In the p.m., dress parade. They fixed the cook house. There was a mail in. I did not get any letters.
Wednesday, April 15th. Rainy. There was a lot of rain fell. Thunder showers in the day time. Our tent leaked like a sieve. No drill. Had a dress parade.
Thursday, 16th 1863. Had a battalion drill in the morning. Had a dress parade at night/ I had a letter from Springfield in the evening.
Friday, 17th 1863. Orders came for us to be ready to march so we started to the wharf where we waited about an hour when we took the boat Allison & went across the river where we encamped for the night. Made our coffee and laid down to sleep. I had a rubber blanket and my overcoat.
Saturday, 18th April 1863. We stayed till 8 o’clock before we pushed on. There was Hickman’s Brigade in the advance and Wesley’s Brigade was in the rear with the baggage wagons. We marched on stopping over in a while for them to fix roads in the middle of the day. they did not stop much of any. We marched till 7 o’clock when we came up to the place where they had the battle when we went up before. Here we encamped till morning.
Sunday, 29th April. When we started again. We marched till 10 o’clock when we stopped in the woods about an hour when we went on a little ways farther & were drawn up in line of battle for half hour. we found out that they had skedaddled. It was here that 9th N. J. Vols. & 23rd Mass. V. M. took a boat and went up to Washington & we went within two miles of and encamped for the night and the next morning we started for Washington. Here we stopped till Wednesday morning when we took steamer Thomas Collier for Newbern. We had a pleasant ride down the river & through the Pamlico Sound, up the Neuse as far as Newbern which place we reached at 12 o’clock at night. We were glad to get home to camp again.
Thursday, April23rd 1863. I feel today as though I had been on a march. It commenced to rain about 10 and rained all day. Thunder showers. Our tent leaks like a sieve.
Friday, April 24th 1863. It is just 7 months ago today since we went into camp. It seems hardly possible. So swift does time fly.
Saturday, April 25th. It is 7 months ago today since we were sworn into the service of the United States. We got our greenbacks and also a mail. I got a letter from Springfield.
Sunday 26th 1863. I finished writing a letter to Springfield and Westboro to the 27th Mass M. V, and to H. H. B. 8 at night we had a dress parade at night and sent a letter to my sister L J. Richardson. Orders came for us to start off on another expedition but we did not know it till morning, The cooks sat up all night and cooked for us so we could have things to carry with us.
Monday, April 27, 1863. Had orders to take 3 days rations & 100 rounds cartridges & start again. Started again at 10 for the depot. Waited till 1 o’clock and then took the cars for Batchelor’s Creek with the 43rd [Mass]. Our two companies and two of the 5th. We stopped there until 9 p.m. During that time the remainder of the 5th and 27th came up [ ] We started with the 5th and 27th at a [ ] which we kept up until I should think we had been 12 miles. It had been raining for an hour. I had slackened up at this place. We went into camp. My brother and i were detailed to go on picket at 3 in the a.m. About 4 it commenced raining again & rained till daylight when it stopped an hour or two and then there came up a heavy thunder shower. It rained hard for two hours. I sat down on my canteen and three my rubber blanket over my head and did not get much wet. At one o’clock, the 22nd and 85th started out 12 miles and found the rebs and drove them out of their breastworks with the loss of 1 killed in the 85th and several wounded. The 22nd came back at at midnight tired out and foot sore with their forced march which did not amount to [ ] this.
April 29, 1863. This a.m., two cavalry pickets were shot—killed one and badly wounded the other. The rest of the cavalry went out and caught 6 guerrillas supposed to be the ones that shot the cavalry at night. Two days rations were dealt out. Hart tack and coffee. We stayed here all night. It rained again in the night. In the morning, April 30th, it was clear. About 10, orders came up to fall in, Our two companies went on picket and the 27th and 5th M. V. M. went out on a scout. The 27th got back about 5 o’clock and the 5th did not get in till dark. They went in dark.
Friday, May 1, 1863. We stayed all night and laid around till 11 when orders came for us to go back to Newbern. We went about 4 miles through the woods to the railroad when we took the 2 o’clock train of cars and came into Newbern. Got to camp at 5 o’clock and we had not been here 3 hours when orders came for us to go out on picket. I think that is rough.
Saturday, May 2nd. the companies started at 10 o’clock for Batchelor’s Creek with knapsacks and shelter tents. They were carried in wagons. I did not go or my brother.
Sunday, May 3d 1863. I went over to the 27th and to the 5th after some medicine. H. H. Bush came over to see me and we went over to the fort and down town and at night I went and saw the 27th dress parade. It was good.
Monday, May 4th 1863. At night I got letters—one from my sister and the other was from L. I had also began two letters and I finished them and sent them the next day. I went over to the 27th regiment that night and gave Alfred a sweat to try to break up his cold.
Tuesday, May 5, 1863. I went over to the 27th a little while and received a Springfield paper. Mt brother went to the hospital. He is sick with the measles.
Wednesday, May 6th 1863. Three of our boys went up to the company on picket this morning. I did not go till my brother is better. Got a pass and went down town.
Thursday, May 7th 1863. I went over to the 27th regiment. They have moved into barracks where the 10th Conn. were. I have been mending my clothes and cleaning up my gun and equipments so as to be ready to go on picket.
Friday, 8th May 1863. On guard on second relief. The report is that we are going into barracks. I presume we shall have to somewhere because we have got fixed up. The rest of the regiment arrived from Plymouth.
Saturday, May 9th 1863. Went this morning slept till I lost my breakfast and then went over and got some oysters. The regiment is in the 44th barracks. They are moving the things. My brother has gone over to the hospital. I have been over and carried his gun and equipments.
Sunday, May 10, 1863. I came over to camp to see my brother and went to the 27th Co. B and got my hair cut. A hot day.
Monday, 11th 1863. They sent over men from the barracks to tear down the tents that were left. We packed our things over to the barracks. Did not get over till night.
Tuesday, May 12, 1863. I worked in the a.m. fixing our quarters. There was a mail in a. m. Got a letter from A. N. C. I did not get any letter.
Wednesday, May 13, 1863. I sent my things up on picket and at 3 p.m. started with others for the picket station. Arrived about six o’clock.
Thursday, May 14th. I went on picket with J. Weld and Kakin. I had the ache so that I got a pass to go down to Jones’ camp to have my tooth pulled but did not have any [m ].
Friday, May 15, 1863. It is 9 months today since I enlisted in the service. I passed a sleepless night with the toothache. Had visitors from Newbern. Col., Quartermaster, and Adjutant. Hot day.
Saturday, May 16, 1863. I felt better this a.m. Went on picket with G[eorge] A. Tappan and W[illiam] A. Withey. More visitors from Newbern. Lieut. Col., Major and Adjutant. I had the toothache in the night. Rainy.
Sunday, May 17th 1863. A fair day. Received a letter and paper from home. I commenced a letter to L. The chaplain came up and I sent the letter. I wrote home by him to Newbern.
Monday, May 18th 1863. I received a letter from L. last night and I finished the letter I had began and sent it down to Newbern.
Tuesday, 19th. I went on picket down to the breastwork about 3 miles from camp. It was a pleasant night and day. “Brandywine” [password]
Wednesday, 20th. My brother came up from Newbern. Nothing new going on that I knew of.
Thursday, 21st. Alfred and I wrote a letter to Mag. The rest of the 46th regiment started on an expedition last night. I am glad we were not there to go. I have seen all the marching I want to see this campaign.
Friday, May 22nd 1863. Very warm. Went on picket down to Paradise Lost with Newton, Tevoille, Newell Corporal Warner of Co. I was with us. There was a expedition went up on the train to Tuscarora and drove the rebs and captured 200 prisoners adn came back and went to Newbern.
Saturday, 23rd May 1863. Came off picket this a.m. Some of the regiment came through here on the way back to Newbern. All was quiet till 2 o’clock p.m. when I was down in bathing when I heard firing in the direction of the outside post. Soon I heard the drum calling us together to go out there. I scrambled out and put my clothes on and started for camp. When I got there, the company had gone. I put on my things and started with a number of others for the breastworks. The company was only 30 minutes going over there. There was only 16 men, a sergeant, and a corporal when they first fired. We had not been there long when 4 companies of the 58th [Pennsylvania] came up, Col. [John Richter] Jones in command.
He immediately sent over two companies of skirmishers. A number of our boys went over with them. Soon after the enemy commenced firing and the bullets whistled around us and every little while a shell would come over from their howitzer. Our forces charged on them but Col. Jones was killed and that demoralized the 58th Pennsylvania. They did not know what to do and they retreated across the creek. One company came across the bridge behind the breastworks and when the hottest firing was, they started to leave. But Capt. Tifft said not a man leave this place until they had orders. Soon after this our artillery came up and sent a few shell and shot amongst them and they thought it was most time to leave so they began to retreat. The 58th left for camp and we stayed behind the works till morning when two companies of the 132nd New York relieved us and we came into camp and did not find anyone here. They had orders to fall back to Newbern so we got some coffee and some breakfast and washed up.
Sunday, 24th May 1863. We had hardly got rested when orders came for us to fall in and go over to the breastworks and relieve the company that was there so we started and went over. After I got there, I was detailed to go on picket with others on the place called Paradise Lost. Co. I furnished 16 men for that post and our company came back to camp and that ended the entertainment for the present.
Monday, 25 May 1863. Came off picket. Went over to the brick house after some milk. A mail was in. The boys came back for Newbern. Had to fight mosquitoes all of the fore part of the night. Did not get much sleep. Moore and I went over to Mr. Richardson’s and got some milk and had some bread and milk.
Tuesday, May 26. Went up on a scout in the a.m. to where the Reb pickets were. Stayed some time. Had a good long talk with them. Some citizens were sent out of Newbern and [ ] at the picket post last night. That is the way the war is carried on.
Wednesday, May 27. Went on picket down to the breastworks. Nothing new. All quiet on the creek.
Thursday 28th. Came off picket. Went over to Hertisum and got my washing. Did not have any breakfast. good for anything.
Friday, May 29, 1863. Went and carried my pants to have them washed today. The scouting party that went out were all taken prisoners. Two of our men, C, M. N. and W. A. W., one of the 27th Regiment, and 7 men of Co. I, 46th Regiment, 4 sergeants and three privates.
Saturday, 30 May 1863. Went on picket down to the spring with J. Miller Pease. It was rainy some during the day and night.
Sunday, 31 May. Went and got my pants. Came off picket. Did not sleep much. They are enlisting in the battery. Quite a number. Going to get two companies. A number went on the Dudly Buck home on a furlough. I can’t see it [but] perhaps I shall.
Monday, June 1, 1863. Today we were relieved about 2 o’clock p.m Two companies, C & H, relieved us. We march over to Batchelor’s Creek 3 miles, waited till sundown when we came back up to barracks. Got here 8 o’clock.
Tuesday, June 2, 1863. We fixed our bunks and cleaned up the barracks. 10 are detailed for shoveling every day and 2 for guard. Nothing new.
Wednesday, 3rd June. Went on guard on 3rd relief. It was warm day with showers in the distance. Did not rain much here. Countersign was “Raymond.”
Thursday 4th June. Went on guard around camp. It was raining a little. Did not have any dress parade.
Friday, June 5th. Went out shoveling on the entrenchments. Went on dress parade.
Saturday, 6th. Shoveled again today. 44th [Mass.] started for home. The 27th took their place.
Sunday, June 7, 1863. I got a pass & went over to the 51st camp to the Westboro boys. I saw all that I knew. Had quite a pleasant chat.
Monday, June 8th. Went out shoveling on the entrenchments. Worked hard.
Tuesday, June 9, 1863. Went on guard No. 4 beat in front of the officers’ quarters.
Wednesday, 10th 1862. Came off guard. Caught cold last night. Do not feel well. Headache.
Thursday, 11th 1863. Got excused from duty. Various stories are afloat about the companies going home so as to be in Mass. on the 25th June. Our company voted to stay.
Friday, June 12th 1863. Excused from duty taking medicine.
Saturday, 13th. Sick
Sunday, 14th. Sent to the hospital.
Monday, 22nd June. Came out of the hospital.
Tuesday, 23rd. Wrote a letter and put it in the office. Feel a little better today.
Wednesday, June 24. Today the regiment received orders to start for Fortress Monroe. Started 7 for the wharf. Commenced to rain soon after regiment fell in to line & rained all night. It was hard parting with my brother.
Thursday, June 25. I went down to the city to the 27th Regiment. Got back at 1 p.m. It rained all of the time I was going and coming back.
Friday, June 26th. I went down to the city. E. A. Newell and H[enry] O. Davidson were carried down to the Stanley Hospital.
Saturday, 27th. I went down town to see Newell and Davidson & carried Newell’s things.
Sunday, 28th. I went down town to see Henry. He is busy writing for the company.
Monday, 29th June. I went down a little while. It rained last [night]. 124 Penn. were quartered in the barracks. We invalids had to move into another place.
Tuesday, 30th. I went down in the a.m. and in the p.m. went down to see J. Kilmer.
Wednesday, July 1st 1863. I went down town with King & in the p.m. I went down to see J. Kilmer. The boys had a lot of boxes come that were with the regiment. I wish that they had them for I think they need them.
Thursday, July 2, 1863. Went down town & called to see John. The report is another expedition is going out soon. 29th, 9th New Jersey, and 81st New York are here.
Friday, July3rd 1863. I went down town to see Henry. They are under marching orders. He came up to camp with me. I gave knapsack & a number of other things.
Saturday, July 4th. The 81st New York & 9th New Jersey started on the expedition at 7:30. I went down to see John. They fired a salute in the morning & at noon.
Sunday, 5th July 1863. Went down to church. Heard long sermon. 9th New Jersey chaplain preached from the Psalms. It was very warm day. I cannot walk out in the sun.
Monday, July 6th. Went down town two times. Orders came at night for us to start for Morehead at 7 in the morning.
Tuesday, 7 July. Got up early, packed my things and I went down to the depot to help load the things. Started at 7 for Morehead. We are now at Newport Barracks waiting for the train to come up…arrived at Morehead 10 o’clock. Got the goods all down in the hold at 2 o’clock The 51st came down on the cars at 6 p.m.. got their things aboard. We lay at the wharf till half past 8 when we started. I stayed on an hour after we got outside, then I had to go to bed seasick full before this.
Friday noon Josiah Rhoads of Co. F died this a.m. He had been sick all the time he was in Newbern. Passed Nantucket Island at 4 p.m. Passed Cape Cod Light House at 12 at night. Passed Fort Warren at 5 a.m.. Arrived at Long Wharf at 7 a.m. Helped get out the luggage and came to Park at Barracks. Stayed till 2 o’clock, then took the train for Springfield. Got off at Westboro and took the stage for Ware. Arrived at home 10 o’clock. Found the folks well as usual. The end.
A cure for a diarrhea. Take the inside bark of a gum tree and steep it till it is quite strong and drink it and it is a sure cure.
This letter was written by 35 year-old Charles A. Marvin (1829-1898), the son of Tilly Marvin (1793-1864) and Camilla Clemons (1797-1837) of Tioga county, Pennsylvania. Charles was married to Olive Walker (1832-1913) in 1852 and had at least five children by the time this letter was written in 1864 while serving in Co. L, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Prior to his enlistment in February 1864, Charles was a farmer in Cherry Flats in Tioga county. He mustered out of the regiment on 23 August 1865.
Charles wrote the letter at the request of an apparently illiterate comrade in the regiment to his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth (Snyder) Wise (1832-1880) of Hanover, York county, Pennsylvania. I discovered through census records that 18 year-old Elizabeth was living in 1860 with 20 year-old Michael Wise (Weise) in the household of his parents, Frederick and Catherine Wise of Hanover, Pennsylvania, in the 1850 and 1860 census. I also discovered that Michael had enlisted in April 1861 as a private in Co. G, 16th Pennsylvania Volunteers and that he died on 20 August 1861 from an acute attack of gastroenteritis. In filing for a widow’s pension, Elizabeth submitted a certificate of marriage by the justice of the peace dated 6 August 1860 that informs us the couple were finally married after at least a decade of living together when she filed a charge of “Fornication and Bastardy” again Michael claiming he was the father of their yet unborn child. Dragged into court, Michael agreed to marry Elizabeth which resulted in the marriage certificate. Elizabeth gave birth to the child on 3 November 1860, two and a half months after the marriage, and named him Charles James Wise.
For Michael’ service, Elizabeth began receiving a widow’s pension in the amount of $8 per month beginning on 20 August 1861 and an additional $2 per month for her son Charlie until he reached maturity on his birthday in 1877. In October 1864, we learn from pension records that Elizabeth resided in Littlestown, Adams county, Pennsylvania.
So who was the “husband” who “often speaks of you and his children” that Charles Marvin referred to in his letter? Could it be that Elizabeth had taken up living with another man out of wedlock? Under the terms of her pension, she would have had to forfeit her monthly allotment if she remarried and so she may, perhaps, have wanted to avoid marriage and to change her name. It should be noted that Elizabeth was also illiterate as she could only make her mark in pension papers so apparently the mystery soldier “husband” and Mrs. Wise could only carry on their correspondence through the courtesy of others.
Columbus, Tennessee April 27, 1864
Mrs. Elizabeth Wise,
I now take the privilege of writing you a few brief lines to let you know that your husband is well and enjoys the blessings of good health. He seems to be a Godly man and often talks of you and his children. He seems to have a hope beyond the grave and he thinks that he will see you again, if not in this life, he will see you in the Kingdom of Immortal Glory.
We have left Nashville and come to Columbus some forty miles. This is a nice country. We are camped among the lazy poplar trees which are very large and nice indeed. The soil is good and a very rich country. He is a cooking for an officer and has enough to eat and does not have to work so hard as he did when he was at home at work at the stone business and seems to enjoy himself, and he is not obliged to go onto battle unless he is a mind to as long as he is cook.
There is a great many negroes down here in this country. They appear to be [a] harmless set of men and women.
We are tented close by the railroad and the cars are very busy carrying supplies to the army. There is a great deal of cursing in the army which seems to affect him a great deal. He does not like to hear it. I am cooking as well as himself and we have some time to talk with each other. He wants you should pray for him that his life may be spared to come home to see his family once more. He wants you to send him some postage stamps for they are hard to get here. You can send him one or two in each letter. He says that he received a letter from Charley Burns and he said that if I would write him, I should receive a speedy answer. I wrote him a letter but he thinks it was not directed right.
We are under marching orders and expect to move again right away. — Charles A. Marvin
Regrettably I have not been able to determine the identity of the author of this letter whose initials appear to be “W. A. S.” I searched the 1860 US Census for Lynchburg, Virginia, page by page but could not find any person fitting the profile of this person.
In any event, it’s a great letter written from Lynchburg, Virginia, just days after the firing on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops. The letter captures the excitement and pathos associated with the scenes just experienced by the author as the first wave of soldiers head to war amidst the cheers of 5,000 residents.
Lynchburg [Virginia] April 22, 1861
I write to say it will not be safe for cousin to go now. It is supposed a hard battle will soon be fought in Washington. There are many troops concentrating there & in reach & Harper’s Ferry, &c. The railroads are pressed into government service. Bridges will be blown up & tracks destroyed rendering it dangerous to travel & for other considerations I would advise she does not leave.
Our Boys left just now—poor fellows. They were paraded to the depot and put on fright trains crowded & to get air, I saw them bursting off the sides of the cars as they moved off. Old men & young cried as the soldiers would step out of ranks to give their wives & little ones a last embrace in the streets. 5,000 people cheered & praised them as the train moved.
Altogether this was a heartrending day for our city. I wish you had been here.
Pa is better rather. No other news. In haste. Yours truly, — W. A. S.
Is there a school near you. I want to send Ema. She must have music, French, &c.
This letter was written by 21 year-old Wesley Blanchard (1844-1908) , a grocer from Lewiston, Maine, who enlisted in October 1861 to serve in Co. H, 24th Massachusetts Infantry. He reenlisted in January 1864 and did not muster out of the service until 20 January 1866 at Richmond, Virginia. His military records indicates that he was wounded sometime in 1864 but there are no specifics. The 1900 US Census gives Wesley’s birth date as May 1844 which means he would have only been 17 when he enlisted,
Wesley was the son of Joseph Knapp Blanchard (1820-1885) and Elizabeth Thayer (1824-1884) of Freeman, Franklin county, Maine. Hw wrote the letter to Eldora M. Webster (1846-1913) who became his wife on 5 August 1866. In 1870, the Wesley and Eldora lived in Lewiston where Wesley earned his living as a store clerk. By 1900 he had become an oil merchant.
After the fall of Richmond, the 24th Massachusetts was ordered to the city to preserve order. They set up camp on the corner of Franklin and Nineteenth Streets in Wright’s Tobacco Factory. They were placed as guards at Libby Prison and Castle Thunder where ex-rebels were detained.
Castle Thunder [Richmond, Virginia] December 6, 1865
My most true friend,
It is a very rainy night. I am lonely sitting here as all of the boys have gone away to spend the evening. As I was telling—thinking—my thoughts roam back to you and those happy hours we passed together one year ago. Little did we think then that the present time I should be so far away (while Thanksgiving was so nigh I had promised myself a pleasant time with you) but luck does not always favor our expectations. So it seems in the present case.
I have not received any letter from you for three weeks. Do you think that you are forgotten by me? It cannot be! for you have heard my true declaration of my trust. I cannot think so but the withdrawal of your letters show that there is a withdrawal or a misunderstanding. Can it be because of my own neglect in writing? If so, it is my own fault. The blame is on myself. For the future I will try and do better. You have heard in my last my prior reasons. It would not be worthwhile to repeat them, but you have no cause to harbor a single thought but that I am true to you and ever shall be till death.
We have not moved yet but shall soon take up our abode at Libby Prison as it is nearly complete for our admittance. We have at present 59 prisoners of all classes. We have had a slight fall of snow which soon left us. Otherwise we are enjoying an Indian summer.
Military law yet rules in the city. Ben. Butler is expected here to take command of this department. There will be sport then. Many secesh will feel what it is to come down. They have not had a very strict man to control them. There is robbing done here every night upon the streets. Nearly every day we see pass by our door men handcuffed and tied to the saddle of the Orderly men who have committed offenses and are committed to the State penitentiary for a number of years. Of all places, that is the worst. they receive hard bread and pork, coffee & sugar. That is all they are allowed. No soap to wash with. That is a hard life—one which I should pray to never to see.
Tomorrow is our day of thanks. All places of business is to be closed. I shall have a chicken pie for my dinner. That is a day which is not much regarded here. I am in good health at present. Please to write oftener for your letters are of great comfort to me—of you only and my thoughts of home/ Do please write. Give m respects to all.
This letter was written by John McGill of Co I, 197th Pennsylvania Infantry (100 days, 1864) who entered the service in July 1864 and mustered out on 11 November 1863. The regiment was recruited in Philadelphia, Delaware and Lancaster counties and was sometimes called the 3rd Coal Exchange Regiment, In September and October 1864 they served as prison guards at Rock Island, Illinois.
John was from Media, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, like many others in his company.
Rock Island, Illinois September 4, 1864
Friend Mrs. Buckley,
I now have an opportunity of writing to you to let you know that I am well hoping you [are] the same. I like soldiering very well for what I have seen of it. Capt. [Ralph Buckley] is well at present and [1st Sergt.] Edwin Bowden also.
There is 1478 Rebs buried here this last year 1 and about 10,000 left in the Bullpen where we guard every day. They give us no trouble in get[ting] out.
My respects to all enquiring friends. Yourself also. No more at present.
Yours respectfully, — J. McGill
1 During the summer of 1863, prison camps in the North were overflowing with Confederate soldiers captured in battle. As a result, Union troops began construction of a new prison camp on an island in the Mississippi River then known as Rock Island, now called Arsenal Island. The camp opened in December 1863 with the arrival of the first prisoners captured at the Battle of Lookout Mountain. The Rock Island Prison Camp was designed to hold more than 10,000 inmates at any one time, and over the final 18 months of the war, more than 12,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates. The deplorable conditions at the camp led some to call it the “Andersonville of the North,” a reference to the infamous prison in Georgia. Disease, including smallpox and pneumonia, ran rampant through the prison claiming many lives, while others died from exposure to the elements and the unsanitary conditions of the camp. During the first four months alone, more than 950 Confederate soldiers died. Initially, the dead were buried in a plot located 400 yards south of the prison, but on advice from the prison surgeon, a new cemetery, one that would become Rock Island Confederate Cemetery, was established in 1864, located 1,000 yards southeast of the prison. In March 1864, the remains of 671 Confederate dead were reinterred in the new burial grounds. In all, approximately 1,950 Confederate prisoners were buried in the cemetery, with the last burial occurring on July 11, 1865. All structures related to the prison were transferred to the Rock Island Arsenal and were subsequently demolished, leaving the Confederate Cemetery as the camp’s only remaining feature. [NPS].
This letter was written by William (“Willie”) Taylor Humphreys (1844-1873), the son of John Alsop Yarborough Humphreys (1802-1873) and Rebecca Delph Carpenter (1820-1848) of Bardstown, Nelson county, Kentucky. Willie’s maternal grandparents were Samuel Carpenter and Margaret Slaughter. Willie’s siblings included Margaret (b. 1842), John S. (b. 1843), Samuel (b. 1846), and Thomas J. (b. 1847), all of whom are mentioned in his letter.
Willie enlisted in September 1862 in Capt. C. C. Corbett’s Company of Light Artillery that was attached to the 2nd Regiment of Kentucky Cavalry. This battery may have broken up before the summer of 1863 but it’s likely the remnants continued to ride with Morgan’s Kentucky Cavalry Squadron on its raid through Indiana and Ohio in July 1863. In the letter, “Willie” described his hairbreadth escape from capture by hiding out on the river bank for two days, swimming across the Ohio at night with the aide of a fence rail, and then outrunning Union pursuers in West Virginia as he walked 200 miles to get back to Confederate lines.
Willie wrote the letter on 30 September 1863 from Demopolis, Alabama, where he had joined his uncle—James Slaughter Carpenter (1840-1915), who was originally a member of the Orphan Brigade, a native of Bardstown, Kentucky. Carpenter served in the 9th Kentucky Infantry until detached to serve as principal clerk in the commissary subsistence department of Major Thomas K. Jackson under General Albert S. Johnston.
On January 1, 1863, from Ringgold, Georgia, James Slaughter Carpenter wrote to James Seddon, Secretary of War, seeking an appointment to the position of Asst. Commissary of Subsistence. The letter provides a good synopsis of his service up to that date. It reads in part:
“I am a Kentuckian by birth and have been in the service eighteen months, during which period I was ten months principal clerk of Major Thos. K. Jackson, Commissary Subsistence.”
Two months later, Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner sent a telegram from Mobile to the Seddon requesting the appointment of Carpenter. It read:
“I desire a commissary subsistence for the post of Demopolis, Ala. I request for the appointment Mr. Jas. S. Carpenter. He is qualified for the post. Respectfully your obedient servant, — S. B. Buckner, Maj. Gen’l”
[My thanks to Daniel Crone for helping to confirm Willie’s identity and his connection to Morgan’s Raid.]
Office of Subsistence Demopolis, Alabama September 30, 1863
I am here with Jim Carpenter who is commissary of the post at this place. I am having a very nice time. Plenty of everything to eat and a good house to stay in. The people around here are very wealthy and of course have plenty of pretty daughters & if it was not for seeing soldiers, I would not know the war was going on. The Capt. has plenty of good clothes & I supply myself from his wardrobe as I had to leave all my clothes in Ohio.
I wrote to you just after I crossed the Ohio river when I told you I thought I was safe but I was bushwhacked on my road when I got [with]in about fifty miles of our lines. There was some 12 or 15 of them fired on me from the bushes [with]in about 30 yards from me. I was standing still at the time & I cannot imagine how they come to miss me, but I was not hurt at all—only one ball passed through my coat. I was too fast on foot for them after they missed their aim. I was going along not thinking about them as the citizens all told me I was clear out of danger. There was 9 of us when they fired on us. The rest were behind [me] and they caught six of them and killed them. I escaped with the loss of a fine pair of boots which I abandoned in the retreat.
I laid on the banks of the Ohio for two nights & days thinking of the awful task before me—that of swimming the river, which after two days and nights deliberation and starvation, I concluded to risk my chances on a rail & swim the river which I accomplished in about twenty minutes. I would have surrendered had it not been for you, for I know you would have been almost distressed to death to hear that I was in prison. Poor Capt. [James] McClain 1 was drowned in crossing the river. I wrote to you that he escaped but it was another man.
We have given the Yankees an awful whipping at Chattanooga. Our Kentucky Brigade lost very severe. I have not heard the loss yet. John Wisotzki 2 just just left here yesterday. He is clerking in the Adjutant General’s Office of Gen. Joe Johnston’s. He promised to send this letter through for me. Farewell. Yours, — W
Dear Brother John, Sam, Tom & sister Maggie,
I have been through the different departments of the Confederate Army since I saw you all last and thank heaven I am well and in better spirits than ever I was. This place is full of beautiful young ladies & all are as rich as cream & you know Jim’s partiality for the ladies & he has just any quantity of good clothes. I have not been here long enough to have me some made for you know I do not like to go to see the young ladies with my soldier clothes. I have found it a military necessity to appropriate the Captain’s broad & gray cloth and ruffled shorts.
They do not call a man wealthy in this country if he has not got about a thousand negroes & two or three plantations. There is more corn raised in this county than any place I have ever been. Jim and myself have just returned from the country. We have been out to Col. [James Innes] Thornton’s, a relative of Mrs. Slaughter’s. He is very wealthy & has three beautiful daughters. 3
It was my bad luck not to be present to participate in the great victory at Chattanooga. Jim & myself are keeping house. Ed Hayden 4 is with us now but expects to leave and join Morgan’s command next week. He looks better than I ever saw him. We eat in the office & have our meals cooked next door and two or three negroes to come & go at our calling. I am afraid if I ever take a notion to go back to the command, I will be perfectly spoilt. Capt. has two or three nice horses & a buggy to ride or drive in the evening after business.
We have been very busy here lately for the Vicksburg prisoners rendezvous at this place but in future do not expect as much as they have been exchanged. There is an old man who is Jim’s chief clerk in the office formally from Bardstown. He left there in 1829. His name is Alexander McDowell, an uncle of Gen. [Irvin] McDowell of Bull Run notoriety. 5
I must close with a farewell to all. Love as ever, — W
Love to all.
P. S. I walked across Western Virginia a distance of 200 miles to our lines.
[in a different hand]
I will keep Willie with me all winter if I can. I am doing first rate. Don’t be astonished if you would hear of my marrying some rich planter’s daughter. I am very anxious to hear from you. Write if you can. Love to all. — J. S. Carpenter
1 Capt. James McClain (1837-1863) served in Forrest’s 3rd Tennessee Cavalry (Co. A) until 1862 when he was promoted and transferred to the 10th Kentucky Partison Rangers as assistant commissary of subsistence. He drowned while trying to cross the Ohio river during the Ohio Raid at Buffington Island.
2 John Wisotzki served in Co. B, 1st (Butler’s) Kentucky Cavalry. He enlisted at Chattanooga on 11 November 1862 and was immediately detailed as clerk by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. John gave his residence as Jefferson county, Kentucky. In 1865 he was described as 5 and a half feet tall with brown hair and hazel eyes.
3 Col. James Innes Thornton (1800-1877) was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, educated at Washington College, and came to Huntsville, Alabama where he practiced law and served as Alabama’s 3rd Secretary of State. He then purchased his 2600 acre plantation “Thornhill” in Greene county, Alabama, that was worked by 150 slaves. Col. Thornton did not support the was philosophically but gave financially. His youngest daughter, Cathrine Marshall Thornton (1842-1870) was no doubt one of the “young ladies” Willie spoke of.
4 Edward Mortimer Hayden (1835-1872) was a native of Bardstown, Kentucky, who enlisted a private in Co. D, 18th Mississippi Volunteers in the summer of 1861. He was taken prisoner at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in November 1862 and sent to the military prison at Aton, Illinois until paroled and exchanged at City Point, Virginia, on 1 April 1863.
5 Judge Alexander Keith Marshall McDowell (1806-1892) purchased a plantation in Demopolis, Alabama, in the late 1830s. After the Civil War—in 1868—he sold out in Alabama and relocated to Cynthiana, Kentucky. Judge McDowell’s daughter, Louise Irvine McDowell (1840-1915) was probably one of the “young ladies” that Willie referred to in his letter. She married in 1869.
This letter was written by 57 year-old John T. Pool of Terre Haute (1806-Aft1875) who was identified as a “Temperance Lecturer” and enumerated in the 1860 US Census with his much younger wife Nancy D. Castro (b. 1819) and five children.
In November 1862, John enlisted as a nurse in Co. G, 6th Indiana Cavalry. Less than a year later he was hospitalized at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, suffering from rheumatism and partial deafness which enabled him to be discharged from the regiment and transferred to the 2nd Battalion Veteran Reserve Corps. Later in the war he reenlisted in the 71st Indiana Volunteers but then was transferred to the Reserve Corps again. Several years after the war, John was admitted to a Home for Disabled Soldiers at Dayton, Ohio, in June 1872 and discharged on his request in February 1875.
John wrote the letter to his friend Joseph O. Jones (1814-1899) of Terre Haute. Joseph was married to Persis A. Holmes (1820-1908). He was a merchant, volunteer fireman, town clerk, and post master under four different presidents who stood firm as a temperance Democrat. During the Civil War, Joseph served in the “Silver Grays” — a home guard unit whose members were all in their fifties and sixties.
John’s letter speaks of the 2 December 1863 raid on Mt. Sterling by Capt. Peter M. Everett (1839-1900), a native of Mt. Sterling, who resided in Texas just before the war and led Confederate raids in Kentucky. His father was a former governor of Kentucky.
Mt. Sterling served as base for the Union Army operating in the Eastern Kentucky mountain counties, as well as a supply depot. Between October 1863 and May 1864, the US military forces, consisting of troops belonging to the 21st MA Infantry and troops under Asst. Quartermaster J. M. Mattingly, 37th KY Infantry, took possession of and occupied a two-story brick house, a frame building, log house and shed, all situated on Main Street, the property of John Lindsey & Son, manufacturers of furniture and coffins. The buildings were utilized as an office and depot for QM stores and commissary supplies, and as quarters for the troops. The Ascension Protestant Episcopal Church, a well-constructed and well-finished brick building, as well as the grounds, were also occupied by the military and the church used for “Camping and hospital purposes.” The Montgomery County Courthouse was utilized as headquarters. Mount Sterling served as a point of safety for Union refugees from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky who had been driven from their homes by rebel forces and guerrillas. [Mt. Sterling–An important Military Base During the Civil War]
Everett was able to “skedaddle” from Mt. Sterling and avoid detection by using the Rebel Trace—a trail that he was intimately familiar with and only accessible by foot or horseback. His use of the trail is described in the following article:
In December of 1863, Captain Peter Everett CSA used the trail to escape Yankee pursuers after his raid on Mt. Sterling. The captain left Abingdon, Virginia, with the 1st Battalion Kentucky Cavalry, 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles, and 7th Confederate Cavalry. The Confederates rode rapidly along the Mt. Sterling-Pound Gap Road, stopping long enough in Salyersville to rout a small Union garrison. Later that night, the Rebel raiders successfully attacked a Union force, much larger than their own, that was garrisoned in Mt. Sterling. The raiders captured a large number of horses and supplies, while destroying a large Union commissary stored in the town. Knowing that the Yankees would be expecting them to return to Virginia by the Mt. Sterling-Pound Gap Road, the young captain allowed some of the men of the 10th Kentucky Mounted Rifles to lead the raiding party back along the Rebel Trace. The majority of the men of this regiment was from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and knew the trail by heart. Upon arriving in Whitesburg, the captain left the 10th Kentucky there to check on their families and continued with the remainder of the raiding party back through Pound Gap.[The Rebel Trace: The Forgotten Mountain Road by Richard G. Brown, et al.]
General Hospital Lexington, Kentucky December 13, 1863
J. O. Jones, Esq. Sir,
It is under considerable difficulty that I write you at the present time. I have been in bad health for some time having been left in charge of the sick and wounded of our regiment at Mt. Sterling. The severe labor has broken me down. In addition to that, on the morning of the 2nd inst. at 2 o’clock, the guerrillas made a dash into Mt. Sterling—one hundred and sixty in number—surrounded the hospital, carried off what they wanted, and held us prisoners until daylight. In the meantime they burned the court house, set the jail on fire, and liberated their prisoners confined in it, and “skedaddled.” All this was done when at the same time 450 of the 40th Kentucky [Mounted Infantry Regiment] under Col. [Clinton Jones] True was camped within less than two miles of the town and the Colonel had warning of their approach at seven o’clock the evening before.
As soon as we were released, I applied for a discharge for myself and squad from the hospital and after some delay, got it—Col. True positively refusing to allow us the use of the ambulance (although two stood idle in the yard) to convey my two wounded me to Paris. We took the rough road wagons for it and here we are for the purpose of recuperating.
I am in what we call in Terre Haute, a “bad fix.” Not having drawn a dime of pay for six months, my clothes all gone, my descriptive roll no where [and] it is impossible for me to draw money or clothing for two months to come unless I can get my descriptive roll which is one of the uncertainties. I have 78 dollars monthly pay coming to me the last of this month, besides 43 dollars due me for my last year’s clothing which I have not drawn—all of which makes 121 dollars which I should have in my pocket on New Year’s day, were I in a condition to reach it.
If I have got any friends in Terre Haute, now is the time to show hands. I want to borrow of somebody twenty or twenty-five dollars to buy me a coat, hat, and pants. My boots I succeeded in hiding so that the rebel cut-throats did not find them and now have them on—and a good pair they are. If you will please to act as my agent in this matter and send by express, you may rely on the amount being refunded the moment I draw my pay. It may be that I am asking too much but a man in my “fix” has a pretty hard face and that must be my excuse. — John T. Pool
Unfortunately the author of this letter is lost to history but the content is worth preserving. The author captures a general sentiment held in the North that the Lincoln Administration was moving away from its original intent to preserve “the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is” to one in which slaves were to be liberated and made equals to the whites which many Federal soldiers and their families back home objected to.
The letter was addressed to George D. Anson who was a private in Co. A, 1st Vermont Cavalry from November 1861 to November 1864.
Keeseville P. O. [Vermont] July 7th 1862
Dear Friend G. D. Anson,
Your last letter was duly received for which favor I cannot begin to express myself when I consider the circumstances under which it was written to me, instead of someone else more worthy and connected to you with natural instincts of love, but do not understand by this that I have no love for you, interest in your welfare, or personal regard. I entertain all of these for you, and trust that my opinion never will become less, but in the contrary, increase astonishingly. You deserve it, not only from me but from the people of the place you left without an exception, & in fact the people of the whole country.
Your letter contained nothing but National principles which are democratic only. About Banks taking Negroes into his wagons and making battle-worn soldiers walk, is the most disgraceful thing that he could do, let one but just meditate & look at the thing as he should, he cannot fail to observe something wrong in him. Certainly you will see his sympathy is not for the poor white soldier but for the contraband and as long as white men are served thus, the Negro thought more of by Generals than his own men, what is the first idea formed of such a General with his men in particular. They all think certainly he would wage the war as an abolitionist for the freeing of the slaves instead of waging it to restore the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is. This is undoubtedly what produces a bad feeling in the whole Union army to make them think that they went down to free Niggers instead of freeing the country of rebels.
Such generals with the present Congress agitating the slavery question are enough to make the Union men of the South rebels and there were a good many there not long since. They are becoming rebels on account of the continual agitation of the Negro question, confiscation of property in the halls of Congress, and I have no doubt the agitation was a strong auxiliar to make the rebels desperate and fight with greater determination in the recent battles befre Richmond which were destructive in a great degree to McClellan’s entire army. Indeed, it was a bad defeat, but I hope we shall be able to reverse the whole scene ere long.
I have not quite as much hope now in regard to the termination of this civil & barbarous war. It may last longer than anyone would naturally suppose because the rebels are becoming more sanguine & they expect foreign intervention even if they have to go under… [rest of letter missing]