These two incredible letters were written by George Washington Sheldon (1845-1864), the son of Benjamin Sheldon (1811-1872) and Louisa Gustin (1824-1927). In the 1860 US Census, 15 year-old George was enumerated with the rest of the family on his parents farm in Perry township, Brown county, Ohio. However, letters mailed home to his parents during the Civil War were addressed to Blanchester in Clinton county. According to muster records, George enlisted at the age of 17 in Co. F, 47th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) on 7 August 1861. It’s possible he may have only been 16 and lied about his age. Sometime after his enlistment he seems to have been transferred to Co. E.
The first letter published here was datelined from the camp of the 47th OVI in the rear of Vicksburg on 24 May 1863. After spending the early months of 1863 in a futile attempt to dig a canal that would allow Union gunboats to sail around the Confederate stronghold out of reach of the enemy’s cannons, the regiment was participated in Grant’s advance upon Vicksburg’s rear. By May 18, the regiment had arrived at Walnut Hills, Mississippi, on Vicksburg’s outskirts. On May 19 and 22, 1863, the 47th attacked the Confederate position on Cemetery Hill. The regiment seized this position on May 22, 1863 and occupied the Cemetery Hill Fort for the duration of the Siege of Vicksburg.
The second letter published here was datelined from line of battle before Atlanta on 23 July 1864. The first part of the letter was written by George just prior to Lt. General John B. Hood’s attack on Maj. General William T. Sherman’s troops in what would be the Battle of Atlanta. The second part of the letter was penned by William (“Bill”) H. Orr, George’s bunk mate, who informed George’s parents that George had been taken prisoner in the battle. We learn from prison records that George was taken to Andersonville where he died of diarrhea on 10 September 1864 and was buried in Grave 8319.
Camp in the rear of Vicksburg May 24th 1863
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I have received your letter and that it gave me great pleasure to hear you was all well.
I have been in an awful battle. It has now lasted six days and [involved] about 25 or twenty-six thousand of our men. I have made two desperate bayonet charges with my company. I will now tell you who fell in defending our liberty in the great siege of Vicksburg.
In Company E—that is my company and as brave a set of men as ever went out to battle for their country: Lieutenant [John W.] Duchemin, Orderly Sergeant Peter Hallsted, Sergeant Adrian A. Shields, Privates Francis [M.] Glancy, Mahlon T. Hall killed. Only one man killed. The rest are wounded. One man is killed, I suppose, who we cannot find. Many a poor soldier lies rotting on the battlefield. Jonathan Casto is killed. Jim Jester is killed and a great many more whose names I do not know, and God only knows how many more will fall.
The Old 47th Ohio done as good work as any soldier ever done in this or any other war. We have abandoned the idea of ever taking the city by storm so we are now fortifying and we have laid siege to the town and expect to starve them out. We have captured 13 or 14 thousand prisoners but they have a very large force yet.
That 50 dollars—you hire hands with it if you want to. Do just as you please with it. Isaac is all well. He is now elected to the office of Corporal. I can’t write much for I am in 150 yards of the Rebs’ breastworks and they are shooting all the time. But I am behind a hill and there is no danger. Bill Boggs is driving team. I got them postage stamps all right.
There is a good many more things that I would like to mention but I have no time. Goodbye. I hope I will get through this battle but if I should fall, remember I fall in a good cause. No more. Tell Benejah to write.
— George W. Sheldon
In line of Battle near Atlanta, Georgia July 23, 1864
I take my pen in hand to let you know I am well & hope you are all the same.
The Rebels abandoned their first line of works last night and we moved forward this morning. We are now within one mile and a quarter of the City. The artillery is keeping up a constant roar from both sides. Several shells have [ ] near where I am sitting. There is a 12 pound spherical case shell lying close to me. It came [with]in 3 or 4 feet of Bill Orr while he was picking blackberries. It was filled with musket balls.
July 24, 1864—Mr. Sheldon. Dear sir, I sit down to inform you of our sad disaster yesterday. Shortly after your son George stopped writing, the enemy moved on us in solid column and after twenty minutes heavy fighting, they took our works. We clubbed muskets with them but they over powered us and we were driven back in disorder. 1 Our company lost 20 men. Your son is a prisoner.
As I said, we were driven back nearly one and three-quarters of a mile and rallied. General Logan road along the line and cheered up the boys. He said he would have a rally before the sun set. We formed in line of battle and when the signal was given, we moved forward and retook the works and as many prisoners as they took from us. Their dead lay thick around our works. We expect them to try us again this evening. If they do, they will find it more of a task than they did yesterday.
Our regiment lost 107 men. Our company lost 20 men killed, wounded, and missing. I will give you a list of the company below.
Sergt. [Galen B.] Ballard killed Sergt. P[eter] L. Hallsted killed Sergt. [Jesse] Shumaker wounded severely Corp. [Thomas J.] Rogers wounded severely Private [John N.] Eckes wounded in 3 places Private [Jacob B.] Flory killed Private [William] Garrett wounded severely Private [George W.] Lazure wounded in 4 places severely Private [John K. R.] Torrie wounded in two places severely Missing Corporal Liddel, R[obert] M. Corporal Craig, A[braham] T. Corporal Justin, Isaac Private Dungan, A[ndrew] W. Private Garrison, Peter Private Means, Wm. Private Moon, Private Sheldon, George W. Private Rude, [Nicodemus] Private Girton [George W.] Private Fisher, J[oshua W.]
That is a full list of to-date in our company. Our Lieut-Col. [John Wallace] was wounded and taken prisoner. One of our color bearers was killed and the other wounded. The Rebs got hold of our flag and one of the guards killed him and brought the flag off the field. The staff of the battle flag was shot in two 4 times and the stars and stripes was shot in two pieces. Neither one has got a staff now. 2
We have the 5th Sergeant to command the company. I believe I have said enough as your son was a bunk mate of mine, I thought it my duty to write and inform you of his capture.
I am your truly, — Wm. H. Orr
1 “At the works a fierce struggle and hand-to-hand conflict occurred over our colors, in which the enemy were punished most severely. In this struggle Corporal McCarthey, of the color guard, was captured; Corpl. Abraham T. Craig, of the color guard, wounded and captured, and Henry Beckman, color–sergeant, wounded. Lieut. Col. John Wallace, commanding the regiment, and Capt. H. D. Pugh were captured while bravely laboring to form a new line.” [After action report by Thomas T. Taylor, Maj., Commanding.]
2 “After proceeding a short distance, one small company and men from various regiments joined my line, swelling the number to about 250, with whom, wholly unsupported, I charged, and succeeded in approaching within a few feet of the works, when, such was the storm of fire which swept over this gallant band, that both flag-staffs were shot off and the regimental standard torn from the staff by the fragment of a shell. One of the color bearers, Corpl. Joseph Ludborough, was killed, Corporal Roemhild, of the color guard, wounded.” [After action report by Thomas T. Taylor, Maj., Commanding.]
The following letter was written by Thomas J. Williams of Co. A of “Harlan’s Independent Light Cavalry,” which retained that name until 13 November 1861 when it was attached to Pennsylvania and called the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He was carried on the company roster as Thomas “P.” Williams but only because he had a way of writing his middle initial in a manner that looked more like a “P” than a “J.” According to regimental records, he was mustered in as a private on 27 September 1861 and discharged on a surgeon’s certificate on 29 January 1863.
During the summer of 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron authorized the creation of twelve cavalry companies, with each company coming from a different state. Colonel Josiah Harlan was to organize Ohio’s company, but United States law prohibited the establishment of single companies from individual states. As a result of this prohibition, after Harlan’s Light Cavalry mustered into service on August 31, 1861, officials assigned the company to the 11th Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was stationed at Hesterville, Pennsylvania. The members of Harlan’s company became Company M of the 11th and consisted of recruits primarily from Marion, Crawford, Meigs, and Wyandot Counties, Ohio.
Upon joining the 11th, Harlan’s Light Cavalry and the rest of the regiment left Hesterville for Ball’s Crossroads, Virginia, where the Northerners remained until November 1861.
Thomas wrote the letter to John Dawson Clise (1830-1912), a merchant in Dunleith, Jo Daviess county, Illinois. He was appointed postmaster of Dunleith in March 1861.
Camp Palmer [near Ball’s Cross Roads], Virginia October 25, 1861
I have taken my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same good health.
We have had a hell of a time since I saw you the last time. We get about half enough to eat but I got a horse, saddle, and bridle and saber. We are five miles from Washington in Virginia. We are where the Rebels were about three weeks ago today. There was three skirmishes.
By God, the boys keep such a noise. There is a great many soldiers around [in the] woods. The Rebels [are] about two miles [from] them. We are starved to death this winter. If we have to stay outdoors, we will all freeze.
Dear brother, this is Sunday. There are a great many soldiers. There is about one hundred thousand soldiers. I am about half a mile from Upton Hill and two miles from Munson Hill. I expect will be marched at any moment. Yours truly, — Thomas J. Williams
P. S. I forgot to ask you to favor me a little by sending me a few letter stamps for we can’t get to the City to get any and the sutler has broke down and it is impossible for us to get them. Tell the boys over to the State House that Jo sends them his respects.
I was on guard last night and I could see the camp fires of our brave brother soldiers on all sides. I suppose there is in this vicinity about 250 thousand.
The ring is sound and has no end And so am I to you a friend
You can direct to T. J. Williams, Company A, Harlan’s Regiment, Washington City
The following letter was written by Gabriel Toombs (1813-1901), the son of Maj. Robert Toombs (1760-1815) and Catherine Huling (1789-1848) of Wilkes county, Georgia. Gabriel was married in 1838 to Mary Susan Richardson (1819-1885) and had at least seven children by the time this letter was written in 1861. Gabriel was plagued with ill health and therefore unable to pursue a college education. Though he lived a long time, his health was always described as frail and delicate. He made his home on his father’s estate in Washington, Georgia, but—as mentioned in his letter—had a plantation near Columbus.
Gabriel’s accomplishments in life were wholly eclipsed by that of his older brother, Robert Toombs (1810-1885) who became a successful lawyer, fought in the militia against the Creek Indians in the 1830s, and then became active in politics, leading the “State-rights Whigs” in the 1840s, first in the US House of Representatives and later as a US Senator. When the crisis of 1861 arose, he advocated disunion and stumped across Georgia asserting that the North would no longer respect the constitutional rights of the South, necessitating secession as the only remedy. He initially accepted the position of Secretary of State in the new Confederacy but resigned in a few weeks to take the commission of brigadier-general in the army. He led his command at Bull Run in July 1861 which took place roughly five weeks before this letter was written. Gabriel mentions his brother in the letter, writing that his brother maintained that “this contest is not to be settled by diplomacy but by the sword.”
Gabriel wrote this letter to his friend, George Hargraves Thompson (1814-1896) of Glennville, Barbour county, Alabama. George was married to Sarah Willis Richardson (1821-1891). In the 1860 US Census, his real estate holdings were valued at $19,000 and his personal estate at $80,000.
Washington, Georgia August 31, 1861
Just as we begun to count certainly on the pleasure of seeing you & family at our house, I received your letter of 25th inst. dispelling our find hopes. “Man prospers but God disposes.” I trust you will keep this anticipated visit in your future plans.
The cause of the present disappointment is an additional source of regret to us. I trust, however, that yours is but a light affliction & that Sarah will be more favored than usual in her condition.
The gloomy accounts you give of the cotton is the same I am receiving from my brothers and my plantation. We are, however, making food enough for man and beasts, and if we can raise money enough to carry on the war successfully, we ought to be satisfied.
Mr. Cato & family left us on the 17th inst. We have not heard from them since.
I don’t know when I will go out to Columbus. Perhaps before long, as my overseer was sick the last I heard from him. I will go with Lois whenever she wishes to leave us as I have but little to keep me at home except poor health. It will not be prudent for her to come out before the weather is colder after being absent from there so long.
I disapprove of my brother’s going into the army but he seemed to think it his duty to do so. He says this contest is not to be settled by diplomacy but by the sword.
A friend has just called to see me so I must close by wishing you much prosperity & happiness. Your friend, — G. Toombs
The following letter was written by Noah Webster Yoder (1837-1877)—the son of Yost Yoder (1803-1850) and Nancy Hochstetler (1810-1882) of Berlin, Holmes county, Ohio. He was married to Catherine Zincon (1841-1882).
The following biographical sketch was found on Find-A-Grave:
Noah educated himself, taught school, studied medicine and practiced till the war of 1861, when he entered the army as 2nd Lieutenant in Co. G, 51st Ohio Vol. Infantry (OVI). He engaged in many battles and skirmishes in Kentucky and Tennessee. At the battle of Stone River, through some mistaken order of his superior officers, his regiment was ordered to advance over the brow of the hill and hold the position at all hazards. The rebels advanced in solid mass and cut the regiment all to pieces. He was in command and refused to retreat against orders and was hit first by a large musket ball, which entered in front of the breast, fractured the left collar bone and came out the back near the spine. A branch of the large artery which leads from the heart to the head was severed and the blood spurted at every pulsation. His knowledge of surgery taught him how to stop the blood, which saved his life. His comrades against his earnest protest refused to abandon him on the field. In the midst of the hail of bullets and cannon balls, they picked him up but were shot down one after another until at last Mr. John Hall, of Berlin, Ohio—a powerful man who had been drafted and joined the regiment only a few days before—picked him up bodily and set him against a stump with his face toward the rebels. While he was being carried in this manner, a ball fractured his left leg below the knee. The enemy charged past him and nothing but the stump against which he leaned kept him from being crushed to death. A rebel officer who was in the rear of the advancing charge was attracted by his groans and upon looking at him was struck with the fine intellectual face. Noah had a remarkable, kind and striking appearance. The officer stooped down and spoke some kind words to him calling him “Pawdner”. and inquired what he could do for him. The only reply that Noah could make was, “Water! For God’s sake give me some water!” His thirst was caused by the loss of blood. No one that has not experienced this feeling can realize it. The officer slipped the strap of his canteen over his head, went to the river which was some distance away, brought it back and Noah was no time in draining it dry. The officer said, “I must join my command and can nothing more for you.” Noah said, “Go! God Bless you.” The rebels were soon driven back past Noah and as fate would have it, formed their lines of battle just beyond him which left him about midway between the two firing lines and there for nine terrible hours he lay, the bullets and cannon balls from both sides passed over, round and by him. He was hit eight times. The end of his finger was cut off, the breast bone was hit, a ball passed through his bowels and in fact he was shot all to pieces. This battle was fought Jan. 2, 1863, and yet Noah lived to raise a family of children and do much good in the practice of medicine in the Shanesville community. He lived through all this to be upset from his carriage, in what might be called a mud run, and drowned while on his way to relieve a suffering patient. When his untimely and tragic death occurred there was mourning in every household. Mothers went about their work sobbing and children wept at the mention of his name. Winter snows may fall and cover his grave, but his memory will ever remain green in the hearts of those who knew him best. His heroism, patriotic devotion to his country, and the great good he did to his people will be told from generation to generation.”
Noah wrote the letter to his younger brother, Samuel S. Yoder (1841-1921). Samuel’s biographical sketch is also on Find-A-Grave:
“Samuel was educated at and attended the local common public schools and the prestigious Mount Vernon Seminary in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He then entered Wooster University in Wooster, Ohio, and later graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, he enlisted in the Union Army with the 128th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on April 19, 1862, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant and continued serving until the Civil War ended in 1865. Following the Civil War, he studied medicine and opened up a practice in Bluffton, Ohio. He then was elected the Mayor of Bluffton, Ohio, and served in that position from 1868 to 1878. He then moved to Lima, Ohio, and began studying law in 1878. He was admitted to the bar in 1880, and then commenced to practicing law in Lima, Ohio. He served as a Member of the Ohio Democratic State Executive Committee from 1883 to 1885, and as a Judge of the Probate Court of Allen County, Ohio, from February 1882 to October 1886, when he resigned. He then decided to run for a seat in the United States Congress and was elected to succeed United States Representative Charles Marley Anderson (1845-1908), on March 4, 1887. A Member of the Democratic Party, he then served Ohio’s 4th District (Fiftieth Congress and Fifty-First Congresses) in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1891. He was not a Candidate for renomination in 1890. After his term in the United States Congress expired on March 3, 1891, he was succeeded in office by United States Representative Martin Kissinger Gantz (1862-1916), on March 4, 1891. He lastly served in the position of Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives from December 8, 1891, to August 7, 1893. He retired from public service shortly thereafter. He then continued with his practice of law while also engaging in the real estate business in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and in the Washington, D.C. area until his death.”
Noah and Samuel had two other brothers that served in the Civil War though neither survived. One was Moses F. Yoder (1843-1864) who served in Co. G, 51st OVI with his brother Noah. He was promoted to corporal on 20 June 1864 and then mortally wounded in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. He died on 2 July 1864.
The other brother was Jacob Yoder who served in the 2nd Ohio Light Artillery. As related by the following letter, when on a campaign up the Red River in Louisiana, “Jake” fell out of a boat while assisting wounded soldiers and was drowned on 24 May 1864. The family supposition has always been that he was “dragged under” by an alligator. The official records for the State of Ohio state that Jacob enlisted on 11 January 1864 at the age of 19 and that he “drowned 22 May 1864 at Morganzia, La.”
[Note: The copy of this letter was provided to me for transcription and publication on Spared & Shared by Jeff Schrock.]
Berlin, Holmes county, Ohio June 16, 1864
We received your letter containing the awful news last evening and Oh! such sorrow as it brought to our little family. Here we had just finished and mailed our letters to him—Catherine one, and I one—and talked to him of coming home and of the time we would have when he did so. And then in an hour after received your letter. Oh! we just sat down and cried, and then read again, and yet there was not ray of hope that it might be a mistake.
Oh! how I am grieved for his fate! If he would have died on the field of battle, I could have born it, but such an unfortunate accident to take the life of one so young and beloved, so careful and yet so brave, will mar my happiness while I live. It has cast a gloom over our family that will darken every ray of sunshine and happiness the remainder of our lives. When this war is over and we meet again, how can we be happy and see the vacant seat of Jake.
Oh! God! I cannot bear to think of it. Like the dying man, I still hope he lives and that once more I may take him by the hand. Say Jacob! It is hard for a man of my nature to submit to fate. Were it only circumstances, I would brush them though fire and water intervened. But who will battle against fate? Let us submit. But cursed be the water that’s proved his misfortune. Jacob would have made a good man. He was so careful and saving. Nothing would turn him off the right road to honor and distinction. And with all the self reliance of a man of higher birth, he walked on the stage of life. Be careful and tell no one that you suppose he was dragged down by an alligator. You know the world has no sympathy and even might ridicule. Tell them he drowned while bathing with his comrades in the Mississippi. I will have a nice monument put up for him with proper inscriptions &c.
I will now close, Samuel. Yours in great sorrow, — N. W. Yoder
The following description of the Battle of Fort Donelson was written in a letter to his father by Aaron Colliver (1838-1907), a 22 year-old Hoosier native who was living in Davis county, Iowa, at the time he enlisted on 6 May 1861 in Co. G, 2nd Iowa Infantry with his 24 year-old brother Thomas Colliver. As stated in the letter, Thomas Colliver was slightly wounded in the battle; Aaron came through it unscathed. Aaron served in the regiment until mustering out in late May 1864. He later was commissioned a Lieutenant in Co. D, 48th Iowa Infantry. Thomas was discharged for disability in September 1863 and then later served as a 1st Sergeant in the “Liberia Guards.”
Aaron was the son of Andrew Colliver (1805-1889) and Perlina Masterson (1811-1898) of Drakesville, Davis county, Iowa.
The 2nd Iowa’s reputation became legendary at Fort Donelson. Here is a synopsis of the regiment’s role in the fight:
“After their arrival on February 14, 1862, the 2nd Iowa was placed at the extreme left of Grant’s force as a part of General Charles Smith’s division, and Colonel Tuttle sent companies A and B ahead as skirmishers. The rest of the regiment spent a night on the line without tents or blankets to protect them from the brutal winter weather. On February 15, the Confederate forces counterattacked the right wing of Grant’s forces and the Federal troops were pushed back. When told of this, General Grant said, “Gentlemen, the position on the right must be re-taken” and rode off to give instructions to General Smith. Those instructions were to attack with the brigade on the left, which were the 25th Indiana along with the 2nd, 7th, and 14th Iowa. Colonel Tuttle and the 2nd Iowa led the gallant charge.[See Smith’s Attack] John A. Duckworth recorded the words of Colonel Tuttle just before the charge. Tuttle told his men, “Now, my bully boys, give them cold steel. Do not fire a gun until you have got on the inside, then give them hell! Forward my boys! March!” At 2:00 p.m. Colonel Tuttle led the advance toward the enemy stronghold. As ordered, the 2nd Iowa marched in silence, without firing a shot. The regiment marched in line over the open meadow, through a gully, over a rail fence, and up a hill cluttered with broken trees when suddenly the enemy came into sight and a steady rain of lead poured into the ranks of the brave men. The 2nd Iowa answered with a deafening roar and continued to advance toward the Confederates despite their losses. The march was challenging and costly as volley after volley leveled the men of the 2nd Iowa Infantry. Continuing to absorb the damage from the enemy, the 2nd Iowa marched across the difficult terrain.
Colonel Tuttle and Lieutenant Colonel Baker were both injured in the charge, yet they remained on the field throughout the charge. Company captains Jonathon Slaymaker and Charles Cloutman were killed in the charge. When Captain Slaymaker fell and his men tried to help him, he yelled, “Go on! Go on! Don’t stop for me!” At least five members of the color guard were wounded or killed before Corporal Voltaire Twombly would take the flag and be hit in the chest by a spent ball. However, he would rise again and charge with the colors until the day was done. Twombly would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Acts of bravery like those mentioned were normal for the men of the 2nd Iowa during the charge. Despite running for 200 yards under enemy fire, the 2nd Iowa would successfully charge and cross into the enemy’s works without firing a single round from their muskets.
Once inside the enemy breastworks, the men of the 2nd Iowa opened fire on the Confederate soldiers, most of whom fell back to the next trench. Those who refused to retreat were put down by the men’s bayonets. The men of the 2nd Iowa continued their attack on the Confederate forces and followed them into the next line of trenches before the Confederates could regroup and counterattack. At this point in the battle, the rest of the brigade, which formed the right wing of attack, began occupying the first trench and firing upon the second entrenchment. Friendly fire from the 52nd Indiana Infantry caused more casualties for the 2nd Iowa. In the confusion, the 2nd Iowa fell back into the first entrenchment and regrouped with their comrades behind them. General Smith then ordered the regiment to take cover behind the walls of the first trench while the 25th Indiana unsuccessfully tried to take the second trench by bayonet. After the failed charge, the Federal forces regrouped. The men endured another cold night without any protection from the elements, and prepared for battle in the morning.
To the surprise of the Federal Forces, the Confederates did not continue the fight in the morning but instead agreed to Grant’s terms for unconditional surrender. On account of their bravery, the 2nd Iowa received the honor of leading the march into the fort. The regiment was the first to place their glorious flag, ridden with bullet holes and stained with blood, inside the fort.”
[Fort Donelson, Tennessee] February 18th 1862
I take this my first opportunity of informing you that I am in Fort Donelson. You will hear from us before you receive this but you will want to hear from me. On the tenth we left St. Louis for this place and landed four miles down the river. On the morning of the fourteenth, we marched up within about a quarter of a mile of their breastworks where we lay in the snow all night. We were shelled some but no one [was] hurt. On the fifteenth, after the forces on the right—that is, up the river, had tried to force their works and failed, in the evening they called on the left. We—the 2nd Iowa—being on the extreme left, were formed in line of battle to charge their works at the point of the bayonet. The left wing of the regiment was to lead the way; the right to follow (Co. G is in the left).
We charged up such a hill as can’t be found in Iowa. Father, you have seen many such [scenes] but I have never [seen] such a sight. May God grant that mortal man may never see such again. This hill is about four hundred yards long and has had a heavy growth of timber on it which has been felled. Through this mass of brush and logs we forced our way at a front movement while the balls came like hail. This movement was kept up until we climbed over their earthworks without a gun being fired, when we opened fire on the retreating rebels [in the 30th Tennessee] with considerable effect. We were reinforced after engaging the enemy for some time. We fought for about three hours when night came on when we fell back to the breastworks and lay on our arms for the night. The next morning, after considerable sparring about, they surrendered the fort with all their implements of war and some twenty thousand prisoners.
As we ascended that infernal hill, three of Co. G fell dead and several wounded. Thomas’s gun was shot from his hands about the time he was attempting to climb the breastworks. He fell and about that time he received a slight wound in the shoulder. I escaped entirely. There was six killed dead on the field and twenty-four wounded in Co G. [1st Sergeant] P[hilip] Q. Stoner lost his right arm, S[amuel] Fouts his leg, J[ohn] Pirtle and several others are dangerously wounded. Sergt. [John] Dunn, Wm. Drake, James [M.] Duckworth, [Andrew J.] Patterson, J[oseph Z.] Neidy, [Joseph N.] Rhodes fell on the field and are buried in one grave.
Father I was happy to receive yours of the 5th last night. Write again for I seldom have an opportunity. Tell John that I received his on the policy of the war but it is impossible for me to answer it, but I am pleased with the policy. — Aaron Collins
The following diary was kept by David Alexander Chandler (1842-1917), the son of Isaac Hollingsworth Chandler (1794-1856) and Alice Armstrong (1799-1855) of Flushing, Belmont county, Ohio. Both of David’s parents died prior to the 1860 US Census and I can’t confirm where David was enumerated at that time.
Muster rolls indicate that David enlisted in August 1862 as a private in Co. B, 126th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) and on 3 February 1863 he was promoted to a corporal. The diary only includes 1863 but David would continue to serve in the regiment in the Overland Campaign where he was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House on 12 May 1864. He was not mustered out of the regiment until 15 March 1865.
The 126th was organized September 4, 1862, under Colonel Benjamin F. Smith. It moved via the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad the same month to Parkersburg, West Virginia, and then to Cumberland, Maryland. It guarded the railroad during the winter, and in spring of 1863 operated against guerrillas in West Virginia as a member of the Third Brigade, Second Division, 8th Army Corps. In June the Regiment returned to the vicinity of Martinsburg and was severely pressed by the advance of Lee’s army in the Battle of Martinsburg, a component of the Second Battle of Winchester. The 126th escaped to Harper’s Ferry and afterwards moved to Washington (City). On 9 July 1863, the Regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, Third Division, Third Army Corps, commanded by General French. From this point to the end of the war, the history of the 126th is identified with that of the Army of the Potomac. On 16 August 1863, the 126th was sent to New York City to aid in squelching the draft riots that had broken out on 13 July 1863. On 16 September, the Regiment returned to Virginia.
It joined the legendary 6th Corps on 25 March 1864 and took part in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg under General Grant; The Battle of Monocacy under General Lew Wallace; Snicker’s Gap, Opequon (Third Winchester), Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek under General Sheridan, and ended the war fighting in the Battle of Petersburg. The Regiment was mustered out 25 June 1865, and lost during its term of service over 500 men.
[Note: This diary is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
In the back of the diary are some entries in red ink that appear to have been recorded from 1862. I have not transcribed them all but here are a few remarks.
September 7, 1862—Stood guard for the first time around the camp. On beat No. 2.
September 9, 1862—There was some folks come to see us. Miss McMillan and the Miss Jarvises. Nothing of import transpired with the exception of our friends coming to see us about every day until the 18th when we was ordered to go to Parkersburg, Va. We started in the morning September 19th and landed at Parkersburg at 12 o’clock a.m.
October 6, 1862—I went as one of the escorts to bury a soldier that was killed in the Antietam fight. Was shot in the mouth. He was killed on the 17th of September.
Thursday, January 1, 1863—I am well. Was on guard at the hedge fence. There was some ladies brought a basket of provision to us. I came to camp & afterwards went down to Martinsburg. Nothing of import transpired.
Friday 2—Able for duty. We had drill. It was very nice weather.
Saturday 3—Able for duty. Had no drill. The weather was still very nice.
Sunday, January 4, 1863—I am well. Was at church. Heard a very good sermon by our chaplain in the morning & in the evening at the same place by the chaplain of the 106th New York Regiment.
Monday 5—Able for duty. Had drill. The weather is still good & dry for the time a year.
Tuesday 6—Able for duty. I was on guard. Had a very good time. It is still nice weather.
Wednesday, January 7, 1863—Able for duty. I did not have to drill as I came off duty. wrote some.
Thursday 8—Able for duty. There was drill. It rained & is getting muddy.
Friday 9—Able for duty. No drill. Very muddy. Nothing of importance transpired.
Saturday, January 10, 1863—I am able for duty. We received a large box of provision. I received a very nice New Years present from a true friend & some things from Bro. George. Eatables from home are very desirable to the soldier.
Sunday 11—I am well. I was at church in town at the Lutheran Church. Our chaplain preached after which I was in my tent writing the most of the rest of the day.
Monday 12—Able for duty. Still muddy. Nothing of importance transpired.
Tuesday, January 13, 1863—Able for duty, It is still muddy. Nothing of import transpired.
Wednesday 14—Able for duty. It is colder & frozen some.
Thursday 15—Able for duty. I was at a burying—one of Co. G’s men. He died with fever.
Friday, January 16, 1863—Able for duty. Capt. W[illiam] B. Kirk came to his company which was camped near Martinsburgh, Va. Was welcomed by three hearty cheers. He had not been in command of the company since the 20th of October. He brought me some presents from home.
Saturday 17—I am well. Clarkson Chandler died of typhoid fever. He was the first of our happy number. But although young in years, we feel we cannot wish him back for he died with a good hope of a better world.
Sunday 18—I am well. We buried our soldier friend in a splendid Cemetery east of Martinsburgh. There we laid his body to rest. He was buried in the honors of war. There was a very large procession followed him to his last home.
Monday, January 19, 1863—Able for duty. It was not fit for drill.
Tuesday 20—Able for duty. We had to drill some little.
Wednesday 21—Able for duty. We had to drill some little but soon got tired & came in.
Thursday, January 22, 1863—Able for duty. We had to drill. The ground was frozen & very rough to go about.
Friday 23—Able for duty. Had drill. Still very cold and the ground froze.
Saturday 24—Able for duty. We had no drill today. Still cold.
Sunday, January 25, 1863—I am able for duty. I did not go to church as it was a very bad day & I had a very bad day & I had a good bit of writing to do. Nothing of importance transpired during the day.
Monday 26—Able for duty. Sergeant Isaac M. Clevenger took the measles & William Moore and Daniel Thatcher were all taken with the measles.
Tuesday 27—Able for duty. Thatcher & Moore went to the hospital in town. It is a large church. There is a good bit of snow laying on the ground. I. M. Clevenger went to the hospital in the evening.
Wednesday, January 28, 1863—Able for duty. It is a very bad day to be out. It is snowing very fast. Still snowing in the evening. I laid in my tent & wrote & slept all day. There was no drill or duty to perform this day for me so I took it easy.
Thursday 29—I am able for duty. Mr. & Mrs. Chandler 1 came to camp after the body of Clark but did not take him up. Enos Brown took sick with some kind of fever. Isaac Eddy was sick. But 6 in our tent fit for duty. The rest was down with the measles.
1 Clarkson’s parents were Israel Chandler (1814-1872) and Mary Medley of Flushing, Belmont county, Ohio. The couple were married in February 1840. Besides Clarkson, Israel and Mary lost another son in the war named Smith Chandler who served in Co. M, 3rd Ohio Cavalry. He died of small pox in Nashville on 3 March 1864.
Friday 30—I am able for duty. Was out on picket guard with Beal H. Bryan. Was at the water station. Had a gay old time. Got our rations cooked at Mrs. Cook’s. They were very kind to us. Chandler & wife went home.
Saturday, January 31, 1863—Able for duty. I had nothing to do all day. The snow is melting very fast. I went after some straw for beds with Simeon Russell. In the evening went to town & tore around awhile.
Sunday, February 1—I am able for duty. I was at Episcopalian Church with John Morris, H. Bryan, Washington Waddle. There was a large amount of the fair sex there—some splendid looking ones too. I came to camp & spent the rest of the day. One out of our regiment and one out of the 106th New York was buried.
Monday 2—Able for duty. I have come off guard in town. There was 12 secesh in the guard house. It rained. Some of the boys all better but Clevenger and [Abner] Bethel.
Tuesday, February 3, 1863—Able for duty. A. Brown and N. Bethel came to see their sons. Clevenger gets worse & worse. It is a dull, cloudy day. Evening becomes cold.
Wednesday 4—Able for duty. I chopped wood all afternoon. There was 20 of us out chopping. It was not so cold. Still the snow is on the ground. Had dress parade & the corporals was appointed to fill up vacancies.
Thursday 5—Able for duty. I am on guard. I acted as Corporal for the first time. It snowed all day & rained all night. Was very bad for guards to be out. The rain froze & made it worse. Sergeant Clevenger died in the evening.
Friday, February 6, 1863—Able for duty. The day was warm. Thawed but got cold in the evening. John Morris and I went down town & sat up with Enos Brown and Abner Bethel at a private house. The folks were very kind. They did not take Clevenger today.
Saturday 7—Able for duty. It has been a very pleasant day. It thawed a good bit. Galen Huston was put under arrest for leaving his post while on guard. The mail did not come. Brown and Bethel both better.
Sunday 8—Able for duty. We took the corpse to the railroad. It was a nice day. There was church but I did not go. Come back to my tent and lay in my bunk the most of the time & read. It rained a little in the evening.
Monday, February 9, 1863—Able for duty. There was two corpses set home & two buried here. They were all out of Co. H & C. Daniel & Samuel Starkey took a box down to E. Brown and A. Bethel at the house of Mr. & Mrs. Miller. Evening dull & lowering. Begins to rain & snow.
Tuesday 10—Able for duty. A very nice day. Thawed & was very muddy. Another man buried [from] Co. A. Evening turned colder. The boys are still getting better. Was down town & ground an ax.
Wednesday 11—Able for duty. This day is cloudy & looks like rain. Drizzled in the forenoon. Afternoon snowed & rained all the afternoon. Very bad day. I stayed in my tent the most of the time. Moore & Groves came to see their boys.
Thursday, February 12, 1863—Able for duty. Two more deaths—R. Leisure and someone in Co. H. it is still cloudy & looks like rain. Afternoon, Leisure was buried. I did not go. I was down to see Enos and Abner. Both better. Morris started home. Received two letters, Ath. & C.
Friday 13—Able for duty. Had drill in the forenoon. It is very muddy. Evening Lee Reynolds and I went down town to stay with the sick. There was a lot of young ladies came into see the boys. Had a good time.
Saturday 14—Able for duty. It is frozen some little this morning.but is thawing. Nothing of import transpired. The sick are all better.
Sunday, February 15, 1863—Able for duty. Went on picket guard on the Tuscarawas Road. Had a very good time. Countersign “Yorktown.” Nothing of importance. The sick is all better in B Company.
Monday 16—Able for duty. Came in from picket & found B. Deselm & Father & B. Pumphrey. Evening had dress parade. John A. Shaffer reduced to ranks. Reuben McGregor, Sergeant; Hiram Ball, Corporal; all of B Co. Received letters from F. and A. Went to town and heard the Bishop from Baltimore, Isaiah 55 Chapter.
Tuesday 17—Able for duty. Deselms and Brown went home. It snowed about 4 inches deep. Snowed nearly all day. I laid in my tent and read nearly all day. The Mrs. James & Copeland & Neers all came. There was one more death in Co. D.
Wednesday, February 18, 1863—Able for duty. I was on picket guard on the Williamsport Road. Had a good time. It snowed part of the day & turned to rain & rained the rest of the day & all night. The countersign was “West Point.”
Thursday 19—Able for duty. I came in from guard. Caught a rabbit. I did not go out much as it was so sloppy. went to see Enos and Abner. There was another death in the 106th New York. Still cloudy and dull.
Friday 20—Able for duty. I went on guard on the Charlestown Road. Had a good time. Saw a young Dutch Lady. The countersign “Fort Donelson.” Ely Davis in camp. Nothing of interest transpired.
Saturday, February 21, 1863—Able for duty. Returned from picket and wrote some few letters. Lieut. [Joseph M.] Shaffer [of Co. K] died and was sent home. The boys are all getting better. Had dress parade in the evening.
Sunday 22—Able for duty. Snow snow. There is about 12 inches of snow. I did not go to church. It was too bad to get out. I wrote the most of the time. Henry Cecil’s discharge came back all signed. The New York Regiment got paid.
Monday 23—Able for duty. This morning is very nice. The sun shines warm and the snow is settling down. Continued clear all day. We had no guard duty to do as we dome all the day before. Went to town in the evening.
Tuesday, February 24, 1863—Able for duty. Very cold in the morning but got warm towards noon. Henry Cecil & Mrs. Neer started home. I stayed in town the most of the day. Saw the Rebs [prisoners] start for Camp Chase. Received letter from Father & Mother.
Wednesday, February 25—Able for duty. Its cold this morning but clear and will be warmer by noon. Noon is here and it is still thawing. The New Yorkers put their camp guard on again. Mrs. Copeland & James started home. Nothing of import.
Thursday 26—Able for duty. Capt. Gordon was in camp on his way home. John Speck came to see his son. Brought a lot of provision to the boys. Brought me some things from Seph. & a letter. Pumphrey started home.
Friday, February 27, 1863—Able for duty. I went out on picket on the Tuscarora Road. The countersign was Butler. Nothing of importance transpired. The snow all went off. The night was a very nice one.
Saturday 28—Able for duty. Was not relieved until 12 o’clock on account of it being the day for mustering for pay. We mustered for the third time today. Hiram Cecil came. received a letter from John.
Sunday, March 1—Able for duty. I sent to see A. Bethel & E. Brown & stayed all day. Had a good time. Saw Cecil. All the boys are better. The mud is very deep. Nothing of import. It was a stormy day.
Monday, March 2, 1863—Able for duty. It is a very nice day. We aired the tent. I had an attack of spring fever. Several of the boys was up from town. There was not much went off. The New Yorkers had dress parade.
Tuesday 3—Able for duty. This morning is very much like March—snow and rain. The roads is very muddy. Nothing of importance transpired. Received two letters.
Wednesday 4—Able for duty. We had drill. It was cold in the morning but cleared off about noon & was warm. I stayed in the tent & wrote the most of the day.
Thursday, March 5, 1863—Able for duty. Had drill in the forenoon. Had a game of ball on the parade ground. Had a good thing. The sick all getting better. I received a letter from cousin Maggie.
Friday 6—Able for duty. Went out on picket. Was over on the railroad. Saw a man and wife quarrel. Had a very good time. The countersign was Saratoga. The New York Regiment went to North Mountain. 2 Porter quit cooking.
2 David makes frequent reference to the “New York Regiment.” This was the 106th New York Infantry (the “St. Lawrence County Regiment”) led by Col. Edward C. James. In January and February 1863, they were assigned to Martinsburg under Milroy’s Command, 8th Corps, Middle Department. In March they were reassigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division of the 8th Army Corps.
Saturday 7—Able for duty. Came in from picket. It is a raining this morning. Laid around the tent. Nothing of interest transpired. There was three deaths in the regiment died in the night.
Sunday, March 8, 1863—Able for duty. There was inspection. It rained in the night. I did not get to go to church. I spent the day reading & writing & sleeping. It rained in the evening.
Monday 9—Able for duty. I laid in the tent. Wrote some. There was not much of import transpired. Received a letter from Annis & Richy & one from L. E. H. Answered them that night.
Tuesday 10—Able for duty. I was on camp guard. We moved the tents over on the New York camp ground. I stood until 12 o’clock and then went to my tent & slept the rest of the night.
Wednesday, March 11, 1863—Able for duty, It snowed last night—enough to cover the ground—but it soon left after the sun arose. This day was very warm. The tents was ditched & the ground policed.
Thursday 12—Able for duty. Had nothing to do. Had a game of ball. Went to town. The sick are all better. Came back to camp. Received a paper and letter from C.
Friday 13—Able for duty. Went on picket on the Williamsport Road. 1st post with some boys of Co. K. Had a very good time. Got my eyes hurt. The countersign was Stony Point.
Saturday, March 14, 1863—Able for duty. Went to a burying—one of Co. H. Had a game of ball. Saw Mr. Ramsey of Harrison County. Had a long talk with him. It was a very cold day. Wm. Moore came back to the company.
Sunday 15—Able for duty. Went to church. Heard a sermon from Joshua 24th & 15th verse. There was a large congregation. There was another death in Co. C. James Parks was up to see us. It snowed in the evening.
Monday 16—Able for duty. James Parks & John Near, & Will Surffman all came to camp and returned to duty. It snowed. Cap. Gordon was here on his way back to Winchester. He had been to Ohio on business.
Tuesday, March 17, 1863—Able for duty. I went on picket on the Williamsport Road on the outpost. Had a very good time. Saw a bull harnessed up, worked in sheaves. He was gay. The countersign was Bunker Hill.
Wednesday 18—Able for duty. Came in off picket. Got a letter from Thomas with his photograph in it. Stayed in the tent & read & wrote some letters. Received a letter from L. E. H.
Thursday 19—Able for duty. Went to town & took the boys rations. Had a good time. There were some young ladies. Received a letter from M. M. & one unknown.
Friday, March 20, 1863—Able for duty. Had a sore throat. Did nothing all day but play ball & lay around the tents. Had dress parade in the evening. Lieut. Smith has resigned.
Saturday 21—Able for duty. Stayed in my tent the most of the day with sore throat. Read & wrote some. The days was rather disagreeable to be out. The mud was deep. Received a letter from John.
Sunday 22—Able for duty. Had inspection after which I went to church. Went to prayer meeting at Mr. Snyder’s. There was a large turnout considering the mud. Nothing of import transpired.
Monday, March 23, 1863—Able for duty. There was some of the 8th Army Corps went through here—the 79th New York & 16th Massachusetts & 20th Massachusetts. They were going to reinforce Rosecrans in Tennessee. Received a letter from Annie and Dr. Piggett.
Tuesday 24—Able for duty. There was a lot more of the soldiers went through. Nothing of import transpired. Went to town & wrote some little.
Wednesday 25—Able for duty. Was on guard in town on the 3rd relief. Had a good time in the day time but in the evening it commenced to rain & rained all [night]. I received a letter from Cad.
Thursday, March 26, 1863—Able for duty. Came off guard & laid in my tent and read & slept & wrote all during the day. It cleared off & was a pretty nice day. Went to town in the evening.
Friday 27—Able for duty. This morning is very nice & clear. The sun is warm like spring. Policed [camp] and aired our tents, Nothing of import transpired except the excitement of the pay master coming.
Saturday 28—Able for duty. It is raining this morning. Then turned to snow. Snowed all day. We were paid off this evening. I got $72.80 cents. It has been very bad day to be out.
Sunday, March 29, 1863—Able for duty. Had intended to have inspection but put it off. I went to town to church. Heard the chaplain preach. Came back to camp & spent the rest of the day in reading & writing.
Monday 30—Able for duty. Went out on picket on the Williamsport road on the outpost. The night was very bad. It snowed all the after part of the night. The countersign was Monmouth. I received a letter from S. Picket and T. G. Clevenger.
Tuesday 31—Able for duty. I came off picket and fixed up for monthly inspection. Went to town in the evening and took the boys their bread. The snow all left us today. I spent the most of the day in writing.
Wednesday, April 1, 1863. Able for duty. We cleaned up our camp ground. Fooled some of the boys as it was the first of April. I laid in the tent as I did not feel very well.
Thursday 2—Able for duty. This is a good day. The sun was warm. It clouded up & rained in the evening. I received a letter from Cader. Had drill in the afternoon & dress parade in the evening.
Friday 3—Able for duty. Went on guard on camp. Sergt. Westfall was on. We had a good time. I laid in the guard house the after part of the night. I stood until 2 o’clock. I received letters from Isaac & C. Dobbins. Had drill and dress parade.
Saturday, April 4, 1863—Able for duty. Went to town this forenoon & got some likenesses taken. [Washington] Waddell and I got one taken together. The wind had dried up the mud so it was nice and dry. Wash Van Fossen went to the hospital. I got my likeness taken.
Sunday 5—Able for duty. It is snowing. I went down to the Young’s and ate my Easter dinner. It was very disagreeable day to be out. I had a good bit of sport. I laid around the tent after I came from town.
Monday 6 7—Able for duty. The snow has about all gine. It is not very warm. I did not do much of anything all day. Wrote some little. Wm.Patrick is sick, also W. Bailey. Received a letter from Maggie Armstrong.
Tuesday, April 7 8, 1863—Able for duty. I went on picket. Got on the Shepherdstown Road. I had a good time. It was a nice day. Saw Miss Annie Sheetz. I received a letter from Will with his pictures in it. The countersign was Battenroush.
Wednesday 8 9—Able for duty. Came in from picket and wrote a letter or two. Drilled in the afternoon. Had dress parade in the evening. Nothing of import transpired. Co. G came back to the regiment from Carneyville.
Thursday 9—I made a mistake in the above days. I left out last Monday. I was able for duty & it was a rather bad day to be out.
Friday, April 10, 1863—Able for duty. We mustered to see how many of us lack to fill up our regiment. This is the nicest day we have had this spring. Received a letter from John & one from Thomas. Had dress parade in the evening. A good many were out from town.
Saturday 11—Able for duty. Policed around our tents. Wrote some. We cleaned up our tent. Wm. Patrick went to the hospital. Received a letter from Cadiz. Had dress parade in the evening. Old [Aaron W.] Ebright got so excited he could not command the battalion.
Sunday 12—Able for duty. Went to town to church. The house was full. Went to town in the evening & stayed with Simeon Russell. There was a lot of young ladies came up to see us on dress parade but it rained so we did not have any.
Monday, April 13, 1863—Able for duty. It is very warm. Had battalion drill in the afternoon. Capt. Lyons drilled us. Had dress parade in the evening. I went to Chambers to a party. Had a ay old time. There was 8 couples there.
Tuesday 14—Able for duty. Was on guard in town. It was a nice day. I had a very pleasant time. There was 4 graybacks brought & put in the guard house. I was at a post at Snooks’s. D. Wertz went back to Pa.
Wednesday 15—Able for duty. Came off guard. It is raining very hard. Rained all day. I stayed in the tent all day. Had no drill at all.
Thursday, April 16, 1863—Able for duty. It was muddy. Did not drill. I wrote some. Received a letter from John & Lizzie. The sick are all better. It rained some in the evening but not much.
Friday 17—Able for duty. Went on picket. Got on the Williamsport Road on the 1st relief. Had a very nice time. It was warm & nice. They had dress parade in camp. There was a good many out. Countersign was Fairfax.
Saturday 18—Able for duty. Came inn off picket. Ann Kirk came to see Captain. Jo James came back from home. Received a letter from Seph. Also my watch & one from Mollie Jaris. Had dress parade.
Sunday, April 19, 1863—Able for duty. Went to town. Had a pass for all day. Went to the cemetery with some ladies. Had a pleasant time. It was warm & nice. Everything looks like spring. The grass is green. The ladies came out to dress parade.
Monday 20—Able for duty. It is raining this morning. I am writing this morning in the tent. There was nothing of importance transpired.
Tuesday 21—Able for duty. Had no drill. The ground was wet & muddy. I wrote some. Had dress parade in the evening.
Wednesday, April 22, 1863—Had drill in the forenoon. Went out in the woods in the afternoon & cleared off a place to move our camp upon. Received some things from home. Also a letter.
Thursday 23—Raining this morning. Started on picket. Rained all day. I got wet and cold. Continued to rain all night. Received a letter from John. The grand round did not come. Countersign Foster. Was on the Hagerstown Road.
Friday 24—Came in from picket. Still raining. Went to town in the afternoon to see Beal Bryan & Mrs. Huffman. Received some letters and a letter from Georgio. The mud is very deep again.
Saturday, April 25, 1863—It was warm & we had no drill. I was in town. Had dress parade in the evening. There was a great many out to see us. Nothing of import transpired during the day.
Sunday 26—Was waked up at 2 o’clock & ordered to get ready to leave. Got in the cars & started at 10 o’clock. Landed at New Creek about 4 o’clock evening. Went up in the fort & looked at it. We laid in barracks there that night.
Monday 27—Started for Greenland Gap. Marched 15 miles & camped between two mountains. Our company guarded the train (12 wagons). Saw some of the largest mountains I ever seen before. We had Gen. Kelley with us & the 6th Virginia Battery. Laid down on the ground and slept nice.
Tuesday, April 28, 1863—Got up at 3 o’clock and got breakfast & started for the gap. Got there about 9 o’clock. Saw the place where the fight had been. The dead horses was thick. Saw where the dead was buried. Ate our dinners there and marched to Storm Mountain 8 miles.
Wednesday 29—The boys went out to forage. Killed a lot of sheep & 9 cattle. Had a big time in general. We did not march any. I laid around & rested. Some of the boys had very sore feet marching.
Thursday 30—Mustered for pay on Mount Storm. Went out on picket about one mile from camp. Had to keep a sharp look out. Co. G went on a scout. There was 100 men detailed to go & blockade the road. Corp. Ball got his leg cut. Major [Aaron] Ebright commanded them.
Friday, May 1, 1863—Came in from picket & laid down and went to sleep. There was nothing of import transpired during the day. The boys loafed about to suit themselves.
Saturday 2—This morning is nice & warm. There was a train came from New Creek with provision. the boys got all the maple sugar they wanted. Got tired of laying in one place so long.
Sunday 3—Marching orders. Started for New Creek by 4 o’clock. I was sick when we started. I marched 14 miles & gave out. The regiment was ordered back to the Gap & I was left. I made out to get to New Creek after night a little.
Monday, May 4, 1863—Started for Martinsburg half past 5 and landed there before 12. Went to a boarding house & laid on a bed & rested. Then came to camp & in the evening went to Millers & stayed all night.
Tuesday 5—Ate my breakfast & came to camp & wrote some letters. Rested the rest of the day. Went to town & got the mail. Received a letter from Annie & Clevenger & L. Mumma. Stayed in the tent with Morris all day.
Wednesday 6—I did not do anything but write & run around. I went to town & got the letters. Heard from the regiment. All well. Still at the Gap. I feel a good bit better again & will soon be able for duty.
Thursday, May 7, 1863—Wrote some little & went to town a little while. Then came to the tent and read awhile. Nothing of import. Went over to see the New Jersey boys on dress parade. The weather is cool.
Friday 8—Still laying around. I went to town & sauntered about , it being so lonely in camp. Received a letter from Maggie.
Saturday 9—It is very warm today. Lieut. [George W.] Hoge came to get all that were able to go. There were some of them had a party at Miller’s. I was there. Had a nice time. They started on the 2 o’clock train. I came to camp.
Sunday, May 10, 1863—Went to Methodist Church & after which I went to Young’s and got my dinner. The some ladies & I took a walk to Falkner’s. Had a nice time. I then stayed at Young’s and helped to get Mrs. Bryan & Huffman on the cars.
Monday 11—Received a letter from Will & answered it & also wrote one to Maggie & in the evening took them down to town to the post office. It is very lonely in camp. All the boys gone.
Tuesday 12—Went to town & run about. Received a letter with a picture in it from S. Pricker. Got orders to join the regiment. Went & bid the friends adieu. Ate my supper at Miller’s.
Wednesday, May 13, 1863—Started at 2:30 o’clock in the morning. Got to New Creek by 8 in the morning. Did not drill any that day. The company drilled before & after dinner. Nothing of import transpired.
Thursday 14—I feel a good bit better. Went out and drilled some. It was warm during the day but got cold in the evening. Received a letter from Annie.
Friday 15—Drilled.It is warm & nice today. Our knapsacks came to us. I received a paper from Will. Nothing worth mention. Some of the boys went to Romney to guard some cattle.
Saturday, May 16, 1863—Received a letter from Thomas & one from C. Dobbins. Went out on picket about two miles up in the mountains on the Romney Road. Wrote two letters. There was nothing but mountains to be seen. Some boys went to Paterson’s Creek to guard a wagon train.
Sunday 17—Came in from picket. Received a paper from Thomas. Did not do much. I laid in the tent & read the most of the day. Had dress parade in the evening. The boys returned.
Monday 18—Had drill. I did nothing after drill but read some. There is no news of import. It was very warm. Had dress parade in the evening. Received a letter from Maggie.
Tuesday, May 19, 1863—Had drill. It was very warm. Did not drill long. I went to the river & bathed. Wrote some and read some and slept some. It was too warm to do anything. Received a letter from Mollie Miller.
Wednesday 20—Had drill. I read some & wrote a letter or so. There was some girls came in with cakes & such things to sell. Received a letter from Cousin Hattie George. They were all well. Had dress parade. Received a letter from Jennie.
Thursday 21—Had no drill. I wrote a good bit. We had orders to pack up and be ready to leave. The 3rd Ohio Regiment went through going to Columbus. We did not leave until 9:30 o’clock at night. I received a letter from Betty Bryan. I laid down in the car and went to sleep.
Friday, May 22, 1863—Landed at Martinsburg at 10 o’clock. Was welcomed back by the citizens. I went to Millers & got my dinner. We moved our tents about half a mile farther from town in the woods. Received a letter from Annie.
Saturday 23—Had no drill. We had to police the ground about our tents. Had dress parade in the evening. Nothing of importance transpired.
Sunday 24—Went to town to Methodist Church. Heard a very good discourse. Did not go in the afternoon. Read some & wrote a little & slept some. Had dress parade in the evening.
Monday, May 25, 1863—Went on picket. Went out on the Williamsport Road. Had a good time. Had a chicken to eat. The countersign was Moorefield. There was nothing of importance transpired. There was a lot of boys went to town & policed the streets in town.
Tuesday 26—Came off guard. Laid around the tent the most of the forenoon. Had no drill in the forenoon. We went out to drill afternoon but we got in a shade and laid down and did not drill.
Wednesday 27—Had company drill in the forenoon & battalion drill afternoon. Had a nice drill. There was four barns burned. One had 125 bushels of wheat in it. Another was Stewart’s. There was nothing in it. I went to town & heard P. Clyan speak.
Thursday, May 28, 1863—Had company drill before noon & battalion drill after. Received a letter from Thomas. He is well. I got a mess of lettuce & had a good mess. I went & helped dig awhile in the well that they are digging in camp.
Friday 29—Was on city guard 3rd relief. Nothing of importance transpired. I was scouting about over town the most of the day. Was up to see the regiment on dress parade.
Saturday 30—It rained some this morn. Came off duty about 9 o’clock & came to camp. Had no drill. I went to the creek & took a wash. Nothing strange occurred during the day.
Sunday, May 31, 1863—There was quarterly meeting in town but they would not sign any passes to leave camp. Had monthly inspection in the afternoon. There was preaching in camp. It rained in the evening.
Monday, June 1—Had company drill before dinner & battalion drill after noon. Received a letter from Richie Douglas. He had got his foot hurt. I did nothing but lay around the tent. Had dress parade in the evening.
Tuesday 2—Went on city guard again, 3rd relief. The day is fine. I enjoyed myself fine. Received a letter from M. Jarvis. There was a regiment came in (5th Maryland). They were nearly all drunk. Laid on our old camp ground.
Wednesday, June 3, 1863—Came off guard about 9 o’clock. There was a stable burned in the outskirts of town. No damage except burned the stable. I wrote 3 letters today. Had battalion drill and dress parade.
Thursday 4—Had to drill before noon & battalion drill after noon. Received a letter from John & one from Mollie M. & Jim. A lot of ladies out. Nothing of import transpired. I wrote some.
Friday 5—Col. [William K.] Harlan started home on furlough. The pay master came and payed us two months pay, 26 dollars. The boys are on a high horse this evening. Received a letter from Maggie & Emma.
Saturday, June 6, 1863—Was on camp guard. Had a very nice time. read a letter from Will. He was well. Had a big time with some boys that got drunk. We had 12 in the guard house. I tell you, they had big times.
Sunday 7—Came off guard & went to town to Methodist Church. Heard a very good sermon. There was a great crowd came out in the evening to see us on dress parade. Col. Gerritt was out.
Monday 8—Had drill in the morning. Battalion drill in the afternoon. Old [Aaron W.] Ebright drilled us. Had a very nice drill. Dress Parade in the evening. Received a letter from Annie and Uncle D. Ripley.
Tuesday, June 9, 1863—Had company drill in the morning & battalion drill in the afternoon. There was no news of any import. Had dress parade in the evening.
Wednesday 10—Had no drill. There was a picnic at Falkner’s Woods. All the straps was invited. The band went out. I was in town in the evening & seen the crowd march through town.
Thursday 11—There was some Rebels taken to Baltimore. Simeon Russell went from our company. I received a letter from Becca Brown & Clayton. Had no battalion drill on account of rain.
Friday, June 12, 1863—Andrew Richards started home last night on furlough (10 days). I went out on picket on the dry run road. Had a good time. There was great excitement in camp. Our Co. & E Company went to Winchester to guard a wagon train. The countersign was Martinsburg.
Saturday 13—Came in from picket. There was great excitement in camp. We tore up the tents & took them all & piled them up. We then put the tents up and laid down but was called out in the night & went about one mile and came back and stayed all night.
Sunday 14—Started in the morning to meet the rebs. Went about one mile from town and our company was sent out to skirmish. We skirmished until sundown and then fell back to the regiment. The rebs opened their battery on us and over powered us and we started for Harpers Ferry.
Monday, June 15, 1863—Marched all night. Got to the Ferry about 10 in the morning. I laid around all the afternoon and slept. I was very tired [and] foot sore. The boys, some of them, did not get here until night. We laid in a little piece of woods.
Tuesday 16—All is quiet here. The boys from Winchester have been coming in all day. Saw Capt. Gordon with his company. He brought 36 men out. Says there was some regiments had not 50 men in them all counted.
Wednesday 17—Got up at 4 in the morning and went up on the hill ad formed line of battle and stacked our guns. The line was about one mile long. Everything was quiet all day. It was very hot. I made a shade and laid down and slept.
Thursday, June 18, 1863—We are still kept in line of battle. The 151st New York Regt. are at work on the entrenchments & rifle pits. Capt. C. M. Gordon was taken sick. I laid about on the ground & slept a good part of the day.
Friday 19—Our regiment & the 106th new York had to dig rifle pits. Capt. [William B.] Kirk went to a house as he was sick. The day was hot. It commenced to rain in the evening. We got very wet & cold. Was called out in line about 10 o’clock at night & kept standing with rain for some time.
Saturday 20—Was called out in line at 3 in the morning & stood until after sun up. Then our company was detailed on fatigue. Part of us worked on the fortifications and part went to cut down a piece of woods.
Saturday, June 27, 1863—Everything quiet here. Gen. Hooker & Howard & Butterfield were all here & their staff. I did not get to see them, Capt. Gordon was down to see us. He is not very well. There was 25 rebels brought in by the cavalry. Received a letter from Thomas.
Sunday 28—Had company inspection. I wrote some & run around. Nothing of importance transpired during the day. I run about camp & laid & slept the most of the day.
Monday 29—The troops began to evacuate the heights. There was a great excitement. We did not drill. Laying around to suit ourselves. Elliott’s Brigade was to stay and guard the trains through to Washington.
Tuesday, June 30, 1863—Commenced to rain. We got up at 3 o’clock & cooked 3 days rations & prepared to march. Mustered for pay. It rained all day. We tore our tents up in the morning and we was out. Had a wet time.
Wednesday, July 1—Got up this morning & got breakfast over expecting to leave but did not. The commissary was destroyed. Barrels of sugar and coffee. We got Enfield Rifles, We started at last about dark & marched to Sandy Hook & got on a boat called Little Bob.
Thursday 2—We glided along smoothly. I slept but little, Seen fine fields of wheat ripe. We went very slow. Was detained at the locks a great deal. Stopped & got our meals.
Friday, July 3, 1863—Still we move along. It is very warm. I went in the canal swimming. It was nice. We was detained by some locks being broken. still we moved slow. Col. was in our boat with us.
Saturday 4—It rained all the after part of the night. I was on guard. The boat landed at Georgetown about 10 in the morning. Laid on the canal until 3 in the evening. Then we started & marched 4 miles north and encamped. the 4th was celebrated in the city.
Sunday 5—We encamped & laid around. I visited some of the large forts. Nothing of import transpired. I spent the day laying around. There was a camp guard put on. It began to rain in the evening.
Monday, July 6, 1863—Got up early and prepared to march (Oh, how it rains). We started about 10 o’clock, marched through Washington City in mud nearly to our knees. I never saw the like. Got to the depot. There we had a gay time. Started about 3 o’clock for Frederick [Maryland].
Tuesday 7—Landed at Frederick Junction about 10 last night. Laid on the cars. We laid around on the cars. Got orders about noon to go up to Frederick. Laid there an hour or so. Saw 11 hundred Reb prisoners. Gen. Jones was among them. Marched through Middletown and encamped.
Wednesday 8—Rained all night. I laid on a pile of rails and slept dry considering how it rained. We started and marched about 6 miles on South mountain where Gen. Keno fell. Saw the graves of the Rebs. We laid there all night. Heard our forces fighting. 3
3 The fighting heard was probably from the Battle of Boonsboro which was one of several rearguard cavalry engagements in Washington County, Maryland following the Battle of Gettysburg. Sloppy conditions forced the troopers on both sides to dismount and fight like infantrymen. The battle, which was the largest cavalry conflict in Maryland during the Gettysburg Campaign, raged throughout the afternoon.
Thursday, July 9, 1863—We still lay on the mountain. I went about half mile and got all the cherries I wanted to eat. Marched about 2 miles in the evening & encamped in a piece of woods. Could hear fighting going on in the direction of Boonsboro.
Friday 10—Was called up & ordered to be ready at a moment to move. Was detained by troops passing until noon. Then we started. Went about 3 [miles] and laid over until after supper. Then we started & marched until about 2 o’clock and encamped in a wheat field.
Saturday 11—There is strings of wagons & cavalry & infantry on all the roads as far as we can see. I received a letter from Annie & Richie. We started in the evening & marched I know not how far and encamped in the rear of our Corps.
Sunday, July 12, 1863—We started through the fields towards the National Road, Our company was sent out to skirmish. Went about one mile. It rained very hard. There was skirmishing on all sides. We was called in at dark & joined our regiment.
Monday 13—Laid around all day. It rained in the evening. There was skirmishing along the line. There was some prisoners taken.
Tuesday 14—Started forward through the fields. Lieut. [Edwin C.] Lewis [of Co. K] shot himself through the hand. Stopped about 2 miles from the river. There was about 400 Rebs came past that the cavalry captured.
Wednesday, July 15, 1863—Received orders to go to Harper’s Ferry. The Rebs crossed the river again. We marched until about 2 o’clock. It was so hot there was six men sun struck & died. We put up for the night.
Thursday 16—Started again this morn early. It was a good bit cooler. We marched within about two miles of Sandy Hook & encamped, there being so many troops before us we could not go further.
Friday 17—Went to the 12th Corps & seen Jess Brock & John Hollingsworth. They looked fine. We started for the Ferry about dark & marched until 2 o’clock. We crossed the pontoon at the Ferry. It rained.
Saturday, July 18, 1863—Started and marched until about noon & encamped on a hill—a nice place. There we drew oil blankets & shirts. Isaac Eddy came back.
Sunday 19—Marched until noon & encamped on Harman Lodge’s farm. I got something to eat. Had church in the evening. Our chaplain preached. There was a good crowd out.
Monday 20—Started early and marched very hard until 2 o’clock. It was very warm. We encamped on the hill near Upperville. I got my boots fixed. Saw some Rebs that was taken prisoner.
Tuesday, July 21, 1863—Regiment went on picket. Had a big time. We killed hogs, ducks, and chickens. Had everything we wanted. We were encamped in a nice piece of woods. Nothing of import transpired.
Wednesday 22—We laid around until about noon when the regiment came along. We marched until dark & encamped at Piedmont [Station (now Delaplane, Va,)] on the Manassas Railroad for the night in a clover field. It was a cold night.
Thursday 23—Started early for Manassas Gap. Landed there about 4 o’clock. There was heavy skirmishing when we got there. We formed & began to advance. There was a pretty smart fight by evening. We was on picket.
Friday, July 24, 1863—Brisk skirmishing this morn. Came off picket. Had to start to head the Rebs at another gap. They run like wild. We had a very hard march. Marched to Piedmont. Encamped on the opposite side of the creek.
Saturday 25—Laid in camp until 4:30 o’clock in the evening. Was placed behind the wagon train as guards. Marched until 7 o’clock at night. It rained most awful hard. We had to lay down on the wet ground to sleep. Passed through Salem.
Sunday 26—Started again behind the train. Went about 1 mile and laid in the road until noon. Started again. It was very warm. Landed at Warrington about 6 o’clock. went into the wood 2 miles from town.
Monday, July 27, 1863—We are still resting. The Adjutant came back. I washed my dirty clothes. Laid around and took my rest for I was about wore out. I wrote some little part of the day in sleeping. Had brigade inspection (it rained).
Tuesday 28—All those that was going home after the conscripts started. [Abraham] Kelley went. I did not run around much but stayed close to my bed & rested. Feel a good bit better.
Wednesday 29—Was on fatigue [duty]. The day is cool & cloudy. We still lay around. I slept the most of the afternoon. All the boys seem to enjoy themselves the best kind.
Thursday, July 30, 1863—We laid around as usual. Nothing of importance transpired. Our mail was expected but did not come. I did not go around much. It rained pretty hard in the afternoon.
Friday 31—Received our mail. I received 12 letters, two from home, two from C. We had to move our camp about 100 yards in a field. Received orders to leave. ot ready & started & the order was countermanded & we went back until morning.
Saturday, August 1—Was awakened up at 3 o’clock & got ready to leave but did not go until about 5. Marched until 10 and encamped in a field. It was extremely hot. Stopped on a field. It was very hot. I took sick.
Sunday, August 2, 1863—We still lay in the field. It was extremely hot. I was so sick I did not move around much. There was preaching in camp. I spent most of the day in reading my testament.
Monday 3—Our regiment was sent out on picket. We was scattered along the North Branch of te Rappahannock. It was my birthday (21). I wrote a letter but was too sick to do any duty. The day was extremely hot . In the evening it looked like rain.
Tuesday 4—Came in from picket about noon. It was still very hot. I was still sick so I came across to camp. There was a letter from Thomas. He was well. It rained in the evening.
Wednesday, August 5, 1863—I am a good bit better. I received a letter from George telling about Morgan’s Raid. We had company drill & dress parade in the afternoon. It sprinkled rain in the evening.
Thursday 6—(Thanksgiving Day) Had drill one hour on the morn, Then church at 10. The President’s Proclamation was read. Then took his text from Judges 5th [chapter] 2-3 verse. It was a good sermon. The day was spent without further duty.
Friday 7—Had drill. Then we was paid off 26 dollars. There was nothing of import transpired. I wrote some The day was intensely hot. It rained in the evening awful hard.
Saturday, August 8, 1863—Had no drill. There was dress parade in the evening. It continues awfully hot—too hot to enjoy laying around. There was some of the boys very sick. We heard from Reynolds.
Sunday 9—There was church. I had a letter to write & I did not go. It still keeps hot. Lieut. [Robert] Hille’s is sick. Lieut. [Joseph C.] Watson took command of our company. Daniel Thatcher & Nimrod Pumphrey came back to the company.
Monday 10—Had drill. B. & W. Van Fossen came back. There was dress parade. The sick is not much better. The weather is very hot.
Tuesday, August 11, 1863—Started at 5 o’clock on picket. we went down on the Rappahannock again but not exactly at the same place as before. We had a pleasant time. I took a bath. The weather is still hot. One of Co. A got drowned.
Wednesday 12—Came back to camp. We moved the camp to drier ground & fixed up a nice shade. It rained most awful hard in the evening & night. I received a letter from Thomas. He is well.
Thursday 13—We were fixing around camp all day. Had drill and dress parade. I received a letter & paper from Jen. There is nothing of import transpired. The chaplain went to Washington.
Friday, August 14, 1863—Was detailed to put up a tent for the Quartermaster. Had a nice time. He treated the boys to all they wanted to drink. I wrote a letter in the afternoon. They day was very pleasant.
Saturday 15—Received orders to get ready for to march. We tore up & then we was ordered to wait for further orders & laid around until the next morning. I laid around the camp all day. It was warm. I wrote some.
Sunday 16—We started for Bealton Station. Took the cars about 3 o’clock, landed at Alexandria about 8 o’clock evening. We encamped near town in a lot. The boys are having a grand time.
Monday, August 17, 1863—I scouted over town. Had all the melons & apples & all kinds of fruit I wanted. I enjoyed myself the best kind. Saw Jess Brock & J. Hollingsworth. Spent the day scouting around. I went to the theatre at night.
Tuesday 18—Still we laid around. Had all the privileges we wished. Thomas came down to see me. I had a splendid time. We scouted about. Ate ice cream & had a good time in general.
Wednesday 19—We still were together & talked over past times. We were ordered to get ready to move. Thomas went to the boat with me & then he went back & we went on board the Merrimack about 5 o’clock in the evening.
Thursday, August 20, 1863—Started about 6 o’clock this morn. The day is very pleasant. We enjoyed it fine. Saw Fort Washington & Mt. Vernon & many other things to attract attention. I rode on deck all the time.
Friday 21—We are on the ocean. The waves are tossing us like fun. Nearly all the boys are sick—I among the others. I had to lay on my back the most of the day. Could not see land all day.
Saturday 22—This morning the sea is calm & I feel better. I run around on deck. We got in the New York Harbor about 8 o’clock a.m. and cast anchor and laid until 3 o’clock p.m. We then landed and came up Washington Street & encamped in Castle Garden. Have a nice place.
Sunday, August 23, 1863—This is a glorious Sabbath. We are laying around in the garden. Everything quiet. Had preaching in the afternoon. There was a large congregation out. The weather is fine.
Monday 24—We had nothing to do but police a little. I wrote some & laid around & read. Spent the time very pleasant. There was nothing new transpired.
Tuesday 25—We fixed up our shelters. Col. D. McCook came to see us, We fixed up & policed &then laid around the rest of the day. All quiet. Everything going smooth. Rained in the evening.
Wednesday, August 26, 1863—Was on guard at the cook house. Our doctors [William] Estep & [J. Sykes] Ely & Joseph Palmer. We received our mail. I received letters from John Tho. $3 worth stamps. Also one from Will & J. & M. M. Wrote some. Afternoon dress parade.
Thursday 27—Still on guard. Had big times with the cooks. There was nothing but drill going on. The weather is good. Cool nights. Had dress parade evening.
Friday 28—Came off guard. Lieut. Hoge was mustered in as our captain. [Abraham] Kelley is Lieutenant now. There was nothing new going on. Dress parade evening.
Saturday, August 29, 1863—Received a letter from B. Brown. All well. The weather is cloudy. R. Williams heard of the death of his mother. Barret came to the regiment. Also Col. B. F. Smith returned. We done nothing all day. rained very hard evening.
Sunday 30—I nearly froze last night. We had church in camp. There was a minister came from the city & preached. It was a good sermon. Our chaplain preached in the evening. I received a letter from Isaac.
Monday 31—We mustered for pay in the forenoon & drilled in the afternoon. I wrote a letter or so & then laid around. The nights are very cold.
Tuesday, September 1, 1863—Received letters from Thes. & C. Dobbins. Answered one & then loafed around and eat melons & peaches & apples. This day is cloudy & rather cool. We wear our coats all the time here.
Wednesday 2—Was on guard but was not needed so I got a pass & went to Barnum’s Museum. I saw many curious things there. In the evening there was two old men (ministers) came to camp & spoke to us. Barret and Castle came.
Thursday 3—Came off duty. Our clothes came. I drew a wool blouse [ ] pair shoes & cap. There was a mad cow run through the camp and run. Several of the men had a big time with her. Had to catch her and lead her out of the [ ].
Friday, September 4, 1863—I run around camp. There was nothing new transpired. I wrote some. The oys are getting tired of laying around without tents. The weather is pleasant. Cool nights. There was a man from Barnesville at New York.
Saturday 5—Still nothing new is going on. Nothing but the common noise & bustle of the place. I sat on the beach and watched the boats pass & repass for a good while. Received letters from Annie & Jen. We received orders to leave at 3 o’clock. We got ready and went to the dock and laid there all night.
Sunday 6—We still lay here in the harbor. The regiment got on board the Empire City about 12 o’clock. We laid there until 3 o’clock. The 1st Minnesota Regiment was on with us. We had a nice evening to start.
Monday, September 7, 1863—Had service on the boat by the Minnesota chaplain. Last night was pretty rough. Some of the boys was a little sick. I stood it fine. I rode on the top deck most of the day watching the waves & birds &c. Everything is going on nice.
Tuesday 8—We are in the Bay this morning. The wind is very calm The morning is fine. We are in sight of land. I enjoyed the ride fine up the Potomac. Saw Mt. Vernon & Fort Washington. Reached Alexandria 3 o’clock evening.
Wednesday 9—We landed and encamped near town. We have fixed up our shade awaiting further orders. I went through the soldier’s cemetery—also the one belonging to the City. It is extremely large. Many nice monuments.
Thursday, September 10, 1863—We fixed up our tents. Lieut. [Robert] Hilles went to the hospital. [William P.] Huffman and [William W.] Cooper was at camp. There was a burying (a soldier). I received a letter from John with $5 in it. Also received a letter from Thomas.
Friday 11—We received orders to be ready to march by 10 o’clock. We did not start until 12. Abner Bethel, another of our noble boys, died with fever. We marched 14.5 miles to Fairfax. Encamped near town.
Saturday 12—Started early. Passed over the Bull Run Battlefield. Saw a great deal to interest one. The boys made the peaches pay for it. There was a good many along the road. I about fagged out. Encamped near Centreville.
Sunday, September 13, 1863—It is raining this morn. We pulled out and passed through Centreville and Gainesville. It was a hard day to march. the roads was quite muddy. I kept along by the hardest. Some could not keep along. Passed Buckland and Warrenton and encamped near town.
Monday 14—We drew one days rations and started again and landed on our old camping ground. We found our boys that came through on the cars here. We got here about noon. I received a letter from B. Brown.
Tuesday 15—This morning is cloudy. There was a little rain last night. Nothing of import going on. Received marching orders. We marched around until 12 o’clock at night & encamped near a ford & encamped.
Wednesday, September 16, 1863—We started & crossed the Hedge Man River, then the Hazel River. Had to wade. We ate our dinner & came to or near Culpeper Court House. There we laid tired enough. It was after night before we got to camp.
Thursday 17—Our regiment went back to guard the ammunition train. We laid all day & started in the evening for Culpeper. Marched very fast and encamped a little after night near town. It rained all night.
Friday 18—Waked up wet as a rat. It rained very hard until noon. We changed our camp and fixed up our tents but as usual, as soon as we got fixed up, orders came to join the brigade which was about two miles off. We went.
Saturday, September 19, 1863—We fixed up our tents & cleaned the ground off & then we had nothing else to do all day. I laid around, read the most of the day. There was but little of import transpired. All quiet. We drew our shelter tents.
Sunday 20—We had brigade inspection. There was a captain of the 89th P. V. Regt. inspected us. He belonged to Col. Smith’s staff. We had dress parade in the evening. The Old Major [Ebright] made an awful mistake.
Monday 21—We fixed up our tents and fixed it up good with a floor. I was not well. Pains in my back. I went to the doctor and got some medicine. I wrote a letter to B. Brown.
Tuesday, September 22, 1863—We was waked up last night at 12 o’clock to draw 8 days rations. I am still sick—worse than yesterday. The doctor pronounces it the Dumb Ague. I am suffering with pains all through my body.
Wednesday 23—I feel some little better. Still I am weak & sore. We moved our camp about a quarter of a mile. I was very weak & sick. Was in bed all day. was excused from all duty.
Thursday 24—I am no better. Still laying in my tent. Gill Reynolds and A. Romans came back to the regiment. They look fine. Also Bob Finney.
Friday, September 25, 1863—I am still sick. Am not able for duty at all. Wash. Waddle came back to the company. There was a great many came back to their companies. Received a letter from Thomas, Hattie, George, & Jen.
Saturday 26—Still I am no better. There is nothing going on. The days are hot and nights extremely cold. I was not out of the tent but a little while during the day.
Sunday 27—Still no better. I laid in my tent & read. There was inspection in the morning & preaching in camp but I was not able to go so I laid in my bunk and read.
Monday, September 28, 1863—I think I feel better this morning. Still am extremely weak as I have ate nothing since I first took. There was a general inspection of the brigade by Col. Smith.
Tuesday 29—I am not much better. Still no appetite to eat. The weather is still about the same—warm days and cold nights. There is nothing new going on in camp. All quiet.
Wednesday 30—I am still about the same. There was monthly inspection. I received a letter from Thomas & will. Will was on his road home on a visit. I feel spited I did not get to see him.
Thursday, October 1, 1863—I still feel about the same. The pay master is here. I received $24.10. He was awful slow. Was all day paying the regiment. Parks & Bryan fixed up our tent off the ground. It is much better.
Friday 2—I suffered most intent this forenoon with the cramp in my stomach. Got easy afternoon. It rained all day. I was not out of my tent. I felt so bad. Got better evening. Received letters Call. & N. M.
Saturday 3—It feel considerably better this morning. This is a fine morning. There was nothing new transpired. Drill & dress parade as usual.
Sunday, October 4, 1863—I am still getting better. There was inspection. There was church but I was not able to go. I laid in the tent the most of the day & read in my testament.
Monday 5—Still mending. Got some sweet potatoes. They went good. I am getting so I can eat a little. A portion of the 6th Corps passed here going towards Culpeper.
Tuesday 6—Still better. Mr. Wilkey came to see his son. We drew our new knapsacks. There is nothing new going on. Still have drill twice a day & dress parade evening.
Wednesday, October 7, 1863—I am still improving. The boys that was taken prisoner at Martinsburg came back. [John] Scoles took a french [leave] and went home so he has not returned yet, Received letters from Richie & Thomas. It rained at night.
Thursday 8—Our regiment was ordered to prepare for three days picket. It is a little rainy. They left 7 of us to take care of things. Lieut. Hilles came back afternoon. He looks fine. Received a letter from B. Brown & Jennie.
Friday 9—I am about able for duty again. Laid around camp all day. William Cooper came back in the evening. He looks hearty again. He says the boys are all getting better at the hospital.
Saturday, October 10, 1863—We drew 8 days rations & ordered to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. We started (that is, the sick) for Culpeper & the rest stayed there. We got to Culpeper & put up with the ambulances. It rained in the evening.
Sunday 11—We was kept up all night last night and ready to move at a moment’s notice. I slept a little while. We started early. I got a ride. We came back the same way we went & crossed Hazel River at Milligan’s Ford & then crossed the South Branch of the Rappahannock at Hansel’s Ford & parked at dark. I slept in the ambulance.
Monday 12—We was waked up at daylight & got breakfast & then started. I walked. Got my knapsack hauled. We parked before noon. Kilpatrick’s Cavalry had a fight at Kelly’s Ford. The brigade was in line of battle all day. We lay around all the afternoon.
Tuesday, October 13, 1863—I received a letter before the train started from S. Picket. We started after the 3rd Division. Gen. French was riding around. We came fast. Stopped near the Warrington Railroad at noon & voted. Then started and marched to where the 1st Division had a fight & ate our suppers & then started & marched until 2 o’clock the next morning & then I slept about two hours and got up. The name of the town was Greenwich.
Wednesday 14—We got our breakfast & started. Passed the regiment. There was fighting all day in our rear. We crossed Goose Creek & Bull Run & parked at Centreville. There was a good many troops. There was firing until dark. 4 There was trains coming in until morning. I got a good night’s sleep.
4 The fighting heard was from the Battle of Bristoe Station which took place on 14 October 1863. The battle occurred quite by accident when A. P. Hill’s Corps stumbled into two Union Corps of the retreating Union army at Bristoe Station. Union soldiers of the 2nd Corps, posted behind the Orange & Alexandria Railroad embankment, mauled two brigades of Henry Heth’s Division and captured a battery of artillery.
Thursday 15—The wounded came in from the 2nd Corps. There was 4 or 5 men died that was wounded. We started and passed the Division about noon. It rained about two hours, We came past Union Mills & parked about 3 p.m. in a field about 4 miles from Fairfax Station.
Friday, October 16, 1863—We had a bad night last night. It rained very hard, thundered very hard, & Bailey & I got all we could to eat. We got a mess of tomatoes & beans. There was some cannonading in the afternoon. William Loy and Oliver Knapp went to hospital.
Saturday 17—We got up early and got our breakfast. Bailey went to hunt the regiment. It was on picket so we had to get our grub where weever we could get it. I went to a house & engaged some bread.
Sunday 18—Went early after the bread. We had a good breakfast. The teams was ordered to hitch up and then the orders were countermanded. I went to see if I could find the regiment but could not. I seen Gen. Sickles.
Monday, October 19, 1863—We was ordered to get ready to move by daylight. We pulled out about sun up & went back the same way we came a piece & then turned south. Parked about noon. I went to the regiment.
Tuesday 20—We started again. Went nearly west. Went about 4 miles out of the road adn had to turn and come back and struck toward the railroad. I saw where there was a good bit of fighting done. We went into camp near a run.
Wednesday 21—We started early & marched very hard. Got out of the road. We got to Catlett’s Station & went into camp near the railroad. We fooled around. Slept without a tent. Slept fine. I feel pretty good.
Thursday, October 22, 1863—William Huffman and Philander Chandler & Isaac Haines & John Scoles came back to the regiment. Our regiment went to Bristoe Station to guard a provision train. I was left in camp. Richard was sick and came to stay with us. I received a letter from Annie with her picture. The folks at home are well.
Friday 23—The regiment returned about noon. We fixed up our tent and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. the General sent and took Haines to the guard house. There was a detail of ten men to work on the railroad. Hilles went with them. It set in and rained after night.
Saturday 24—We got up early. It was a cold morning. The day passed off without much stir but about 4 in the evening our brigade got orders to pack up and go to Bealton. We started at dark. It was awful muddy. We went as far as the railroad & there we stood until we got orders to go back and stay all night.
Sunday, October 25, 1863—We were up early and packed for the trip. It was a nice day. Started and marched moderate. I stood it pretty well. We came near running into the Rebel pickets. We turned & went back about one mile & took a position in the woods. The cavalry then came up and took the front. We laid there the rest of the day.
Monday 26—We arose early. I took with a severe cramp colic. Had a hard time. I went to the doctor & got some medicine. I did not get much better. About 8 o’clock there was heavy skirmishing by the cavalry. Then artillery until it became quite brisk. There was no infantry engaged on our side. Our brigade still lay in line all day. There was cannonading all day. I was with the ambulances. I suffered a great deal.
Tuesday 27—All is quiet this morning. There was a good bit of cavalry came in during the night. I laid around & done the best I could. There was no move during the day. We laid in the woods. The supplies came and they drew rations.
Wednesday, October 28, 1863—We still laid in the woods. No fighting yet. They have fell back. I am still in a bad fix. Can eat nothing. The cavalry were scouting all around. The day was nice. We laid by a big fire.
Thursday 29—The 2nd Brigade came down & relieved us. We started back to Catlett’s Station. I rode in the ambulance. I stood the ride tolerable. My bowels are so sore I could not walk. We did not stop at the station but went on up the railroad one mile. We fixed up our tents expecting to stay awhile. I was still not better. Still could not eat anything.
Friday 30—We was waked up at 4 o’clock & ordered to be ready to march at 7 o’clock. The whole Corps went just right back down the railroad. I had to go in the ambulance. They went into camp about 3 miles below Warrenton Junction. I went ip to the regiment. We had no tent fixed up.
Saturday, October 31, 1863—It began raining before day and rained until about 10 o’clock. I was taken to the hospital. It was cold & damp but I got along the best I could. [William] Copeland came up in the evening to sleep with me. There was nothing new. The regiment mustered for pay.
Sunday, November 1—The left wing of our regiment went on picket. I laid around. Felt a little better. It was a nice day. There was preaching but I was not able to go so the day wore away. I felt lonely but read some and slept some.
Monday 2—The boys came back from picket. There is nothing new going on. they drew rations. I still feel a little better but it is very little. The nights are extremely cold. There has been ice frozen on the water. Daniel Starkey came back.
Tuesday, November 3, 1863—There was some talk of a move but it has died away. All is quiet. They are still giving out rations. The day has been pretty warm for the time of year. I still remain in the hospital. I was down to the company a little while.
Wednesday 4—The sick was sent away. We started & got to the cars about 10 o’clock at Warrenton Junction. Started for Washington. We got to Alexandria about dark. Laid there an hour or so & went up to Washington. There we took the ambulance for the hospital. Landed at the Carver Hospital about 10 o’clock.
Thursday 5—Feel a little rested after our ride. I got in a nice ward. A good nurse named Wm. Hayes. There is none of our regiment in with me. I saw some of the boys from another hospital. [Oliver] Knapp has gone home. I wrote a letter to Thomas.
Friday, November 6, 1863—Thomas came to see me before noon & we had a nice talk. He then went back & brought me a book to read. In the afternoon, I went to prayer meeting. In the evening I saw [William H.] Loy. He looks pretty well.
Saturday 7—I did not feel very well so I laid around the ward most of the day & read. The day is cloudy and cool. The nurse was busy fixing up the war for inspection.
Sunday 8—There was inspection by the doctors about 9 o’clock. I feel a little better this morning. I laid around & read. Went to church at night. Had a very good prayer meeting.
Monday, November 9, 1863—I feel about the same, Thomas came up to see me. Brought me some nice apples & three books from the soldier’s Free Library in the city. I was out to see the Invalid Corps in dress parade.
Tuesday 10—I did not feel very well so I spent the day in the war reading from the books. Very interesting. The weather is fine for the season.
Wednesday 11—I am about the same. Do not gain strength at all. There is nothing to interest one around so I stay in the tent & read the most of the time. Take a walk once in awhile.
Thursday, November 12, 1863—I am about the same. The sick of [New] Jersey that was here all got to go to their own state to the hospital. I still get no word from the regiment or from home.
Friday 13—This is a fine day—warm and nice. I do not feel quite so well. The soldiers that was mustered here signs the pay rolls today. Nothing of import is going on here.
Saturday 14—Thomas comes up to see me in the afternoon. There is a Negro Regiment to drill so we went. They drilled near the Mt. Pleasant Hospital. They done it up in style. Had the band there from Carver Hospital.
Sunday, November 15, 1863—It is a stormy day. I spent the day in the tent. Wrote some & read the rest of the day. I have all the good books I can read & I find the time goes off faster at reading.
Monday 16—There was a performance at night in the mess room. It was good. This is a fine day. I take a short walk once in awhile but am in the tent the most of the time. I do not get much better. Still weak & troubled with pain in my back.
Tuesday 17—Nothing of import is going on. The weather still keeps fine & warm. I find the History of Helena Rivers very interesting.
Wednesday, November 18, 1863—The day passes off with about the same old routine. There was a singing in the mess hall by the chaplain’s brother. It was a very interesting singing sung. Union songs.
Thursday 10—There was four of us went from the hospital down to the City to see about our pay. I came near running myself down. Went up New York Avenue but failed to get any money. Thomas & I went to Georgetown to see Capt. Gordon. Saw him. Had a fine chat. He is sick.
Friday 20—I feel very sore from my trip and so I spent the most of the day in bed reading. I do not feel so well today. Nothing of import transpired.
Saturday, November 21, 1863—It has been raining all day. Oliver Knapp came over with William Loy. He just got back from home. He gave me a short history of how things was going on at home. The friends are all well.
Sunday 22—This is a fine day. The doctor took Hays & White’s names for their regiments. I laid around the tent. Read the most of the day. It was a nice day.
Monday 23—Hays and White left. I got a pass & went to town. Was in the Patent Office & the Soldier’s Free Library & the Ohio Relief Society. I bought a pair of boots. Paid $5 for them. I received a letter from John.
Tuesday, November 24, 1863—This is a rather blustery morning. Gates went to the city. Our new nurse came in. I went to the library & got a book to read—title, Strangers Strategem.
Wednesday 25—This is a nice morning. All is going on fine. I received a letter from Dr. Ely. They are at Brandy Station. Also a letter from C. Dobbins & one from Jennie.
Thursday 26—Thanksgiving. It is cool but clear. We had a good dinner. Turkey, oysters, &c. There was a brother of the nurses here. There was some citizens around giving the soldiers apples.
Friday, November 27, 1863—I laid around the ward. Te news from the army is good. The weather still is very good. All is about as usual in the hospital.
Saturday 28—This is a rainy day. Thomas came up to see me. I received a letter from S. E. Picket. Thomas brought me a shirt, pair of drawers, and pair of socks from the Ohio Sanitary Commission.
Sunday 29—I spent the day in the ward. Read the most of the day. The doctor took the name of Ellis to go to his regiment which is at Charleston. I did not go to church.
Monday, November 30, 1863—This is a cold, windy morning. There was a lot of us going to town to get our pay but it was too cold. I received a letter from Jen & answered it.
Tuesday, December 1—There was five of us went to town but did not get our pay. The days was cool. We came back. Did not stay in the city any time.
Wednesday 2—Received letters from George & Annie. Our pay master came up and paid the brigade off—all but me, and his money fell short so I had to do without. Thomas Bradley, one of those in this tent, started home on furlough 60 days.
Thursday, December 3, 1863—Mr. Ellis was sent to convalescent camp. I went to the City. Got my money. Thomas & I went to the Smithsonian Institute & from there to the Capitol. Went through it & then went to the Navy Yard. We had a nice time. It was a nice day. I received a long letter from Richie Douglass. They were all well. Oliver Knapp was over to see me but I did not get from town until late.
Friday 4—I laid around my tent. Felt pretty sore after my trip down town. I read the most of the day. Took a nap in the afternoon. The weather is good, warm, and pleasant. There was nothing strange transpiring.
Saturday 5—I went to Columbia Hospital to see Knapp & Loy. Dr. Ely was here to see me. He told me of [Beal] H. Bryan being wounded [on 9 October while on a scout]. He came up with a lot of wounded from the division.
Sunday, December 6, 1863—I was in my ward the most of the day reading & writing. I received a letter from Jen. The day was nice & warm. Knapp was over to see me in evening.
Monday 7—I was laying around reading in forenoon. Went to the city in the afternoon. It was a cool day. I was with Thomas. We had a nice time. Came back before night.
Tuesday 8—There is nothing strange going on. I got a book to read, title: Ruth Hall. It was very interesting. Everything goes on smooth.
Wednesday, December 9, 1863—We have nice warm weather for the time of year. There is nothing going on here to interest one. All quiet. I can spend the time best reading.
Thursday 10—There was a lot sent off. Ritz out of our tent went. He belongs to the 151st New York Volunteers. He was a Dutch man. A good-hearted boy. Nothing strange going on.
Friday 11—I have not been outside the hospital for several days. I came near being put into another tent to help nurse.
Saturday, December 12, 1863—I received 4 letters. One from James Parks & S. Russell & cousin H. George & Jen with her picture in it. I heard from my boots. They went on to the regiment all safe. I heard the 3rd Corps had gone to Tennessee.
Sunday 13—This is a most splendid day—so warm & nice. I was not out much. I spent hte day reading. I wrote some during the day.
Monday 14—It rained very hard last night & is still disagreeable. I laid around as usual reading. Read the Prairie Flower Boy—a fine book.
Tuesday, December 15, 1863—It has cleared up & is more pleasant but still muddy. There is nothing new going on. The boys in the tent keep up the spirits.
Wednesday 16—There is nothing going on all the same. I laid around & read. Found some fine books in the library. There is still some leaving on furloughs.
Thursday 17—It rained all day. Jesse Snyder’s father came and got him transferred to York Hospital. He started about 4 o’clock in the evening. He was a good fellow. Good company. 87th Pennsylvania.
Friday, December 18, 1863—I spent the day as usual reading. I wrote some. The weather is bad. Rainy and cold. It cleared up & froze. Very disagreeable to be out. I was down to the State Agents.
Saturday 19—I laid around as usual. The doctor gave me an order to go before the board. They did not meet. Knapp was over to see me. Loy and Hannah have gone to convalesce.
Sunday 20—This is a glorious day. I laid around & read. I received a letter from Jennie—a long letter. Everything is going on smoothly.
Monday, December 21, 1863—I went before the board for examination. There was but few to be examined. The day was warm & nice. I wrote a letter or so. All quiet & lonesome.
Tuesday 22—The doctor told me the board had agreed to give me a furlough. I received a letter from Simeon Russell. He wrote me a long letter. There was a lot of them going home on furlough.
Wednesday 23—The day is cold & disagreeable. It sleeted & snowed a little in the evening. It was very cold. I laid around as usual & read.
Thursday, December 24, 1863—I went to the City. Got a cap & vest. I went to the Sanitary Commission and got a pair of drawers. I drew a pair of pants. I got a letter from Will. He was well.
Friday 25—A glorious day. I received a letter from Annie—a long one. We had a big dinner—turkey, oysters, vegetables, &c. There was music in the mess hall in the evening.
Saturday 26—There was nothing of importance. Gilbert was over & spent the evening. Palmer promised to come over but did not. He is in the Invalid Corps.
Friday, December 27, 1863—Received letter Maggie Armstrong. I spent the day in the tent reading the new books they got. Are very interesting. I have read a good many of them. The time goes slow to me here.
Monday 28—This is a wet day. All looks dull. A cold rain makes it very bad getting around. I received a letter from Simeon Russell. They are having a muddy time out there.
Tuesday 29—Still it rains. The ground is very soft. I wrote a letter to Will. It was not fit to be out. I read nearly all day. Nothing of importance, Thomas was up to see me.
Wednesday, December 30, 1863—There was two ladies to see me. One—Mrs. Moore—she knew Will & came to see me. The other was Miss Dell L. Brownell of Williston, Vermont. 5 They seemed to be very kind to the soldiers.
5 Lucy Adelia (“Dell”) Brownell was born in 1839 in Williston, Chittenden county, Vermont. She died in 1926. She was the daughter of George Washington Browell (1814-1905) and Almira Benham Barry (1817-1909).
Thursday 31—This has been a gloomy day—rainy and cold. We was mustered in the forenoon by Judson & a Stewart. Robert Finney was over to see me. He is in Columbia Hospital. There is nothing going on today. A gloomy day for the last day in the year. I received a letter from Callie M. Dobbins. A good long letter.
January 1, 1864—I went to the City. Was at the President’s [New Year’s Day] reception [at the White House]. Had the pleasure of taking Old Abe by the hand. Saw his wife also. Thomas & I then went to the Lincoln Hospital to see James Brookhart. Saw him. Had a long talk. He belongs to the 69th Co. 2nd Battalion Invalid Corps. I came back. Like to froze. It got very cold. The wind blew very hard & the ground froze very hard. Rather a bad day to be out. I enjoyed the day fine. Saw a great many of the Army officers. there was also a good many passing through for home that had reenlisted.
January 2, 1864—It was a rather disagreeable day. Frozen very hard. I received a note from Thomas & a letter from Jennie Bryans. Address is King Street, King Hospital, Ward One, Alexandria, Va.
January 3rd—The weather is still cold. There was two of my regiment, Co. I, came over from Columbia to see me. The 6th New York Cavalry passed through going home having reenlisted for three years. One of the third US Infantry was here has served 5 years & now has reenlisted again. All quiet here. Gates was put down for Convalescent.
The following letters were written by Otis Whitney (1821-1901) who served in Co. H, 27th Iowa Infantry. The following biographical sketch summarizes his life very well.
Otis Whitney, Jr., was born 13 Jun 1831, in the town of Seneca, Ontario County, state of New York, where he lived till nearly thirty years of age, working on the farm, attending school and studying law; was admitted to the practice in the supreme court of the state of New York at a general term of the court held in the city of Auburn, county of Cayuga, on the first day of November, 1847, but never engaged actively in practice, having no relish or respect for it. He traveled and taught school for three years, and then went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Tyler H. Abbey, who was a successful merchant at Watkins, Schuyler County, state of New York, and continued in business up to the fall of 1854, when he caught the western fever and decided to take the advice of Horace Greeley to “go west and grow up with the country.”
Before leaving he was united in marriage with the daughter of Dr. Enos Barnes, in western New York, a well known and popular physician and surgeon, and one of the earliest settlers on the west side of Seneca Lake. The newly married couple started immediately on the journey west, and finally located in Quasqueton, Buchanan County, state of Iowa, where he purchased two hundred acres of land, intending to make a farm of it, but finding more satisfactory employment in town never settled on the land. Most of the time up to 1862 was spent in clerking, overseeing flour and saw mills, and acting justice of the peace, for which office his previous study of law was especially helpful. In the fall of 1862 he went into the army as first lieutenant of Company H, Twenty-seventh Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. In camp of instruction he was familiar with the drill, etc., as he had been studying the tactics from the commencement of the war and in command of and drilling a company of home guards for more than a year. In a few weeks the regiment was ordered to the field, or as the popular phrase is, to the front, and not more than half drilled or disciplined. On 10 Apr 1863, he became captain of the company by reason of resignation of Captain Jacob M. Miller, the previous captain, who became disabled and unable to endure active field service. Whitney was captain of the company up to the close of the war, and was discharged with the company and regiment at Clinton, IA, 8 Aug 1865.
He returned to his home in Quasqueton, which he had not seen in three years, worn out, run down, and weak from constant for three years, and which continued for more than fifteen years after the war. Finding no place of business obtainable he with his family, wife and two children, went on a visit to the old folks at home in the state of New York. While on this visit he was induced to engage in an enterprise to be consummated at Richmond, VA, in the establishment of a dairy farm. The project was a complete failure, and mindful still of the advice of Greeley he again went west with his family to grow up again, locating on government land in Oswego Township, Labette County, Kansas, in the spring of 1867. Upon this place he lived seventeen years, when he sold out and moved into the city of Oswego, two and a half miles distant.
[Note: These letters are from the private collection of Greg Herr and have been transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Camp Gilbert 6 miles above St. Paul October 15, 1862
My dear wife,
It is now one hour past midnight of the 14th. I am in a room with eight others (one sick with a fever) trying to pass away the night. No beds in the room. The reason why I am here is because I happened to be chosen to act as one of the clerks of election which we held on the boat and came here to canvass the votes. Our camp is about half a mile above Fort Snelling. Our tent is up but no arrangements made for sleeping & the weather is so cold we did not like to occupy it tonight. Ice froze half an inch thick last night in pails that were sitting on the hurricane deck of the steamboat we four companies came up on.
We embarked Sunday morning & had a pleasant trip with some little adventure. Sunday night, just at dark, a snag (a large tree trunk) smashed through the guard deck near the bow of the boat & came very near throwing some of the boys overboard. A few minutes before there were several standing on the very spot where the crash was made. Last night a steamer coming down undertook for some unexplained reason to run our boat down but by the skill of our pilot, we avoided being struck but in doing so, the stern of the boat was thrown so near the shore that a tree on the shore crashed through the side of the boat & tore out the entire side of the barber shop to the great fright of several men who were sleeping on the floor & in chairs. The fright was not without cause as it came near sweeping off several men.
The affair I spoke about when I wrote Saturday night was more serious than I then supposed as you have probably learned by the papers before this time. We brought the corpse of the young man with us to McGregor’s Landing. It is hard to see stout young men killed in that way. It is feared the affair will not end so but that more blood will be spilt. Tomorrow 6 companies of our regiment are ordered north to guard the U S Paymaster in paying off the Chippewas their annuity. My company H remains here. 1 Some think we shall be called out to fight the Sioux. It is thought we shall be sent to Kentucky within three weeks.
You need not be alarmed at any stories you hear. I am now enjoying good health and shall probably live out my allotted time.
I got the comforter you sent & it was very acceptable. I ought not to write any more as I would like to sleep a little if I can on the floor. Kiss Emma & little Eddie for me. Much love to yourself. — O. Whitney
P. S. SEnd me the description of lots where the house stands. The deed is in the top part of the box you keep in the drawers. — O. W.
1 Companies “A,” “B,” “C,” “E,” “F” and “G.” Moved to Mille Lac’s, Minn. October 17, thence moved to Cairo, Ill., November 4. Companies “D,” “I,” “H” and “K” at Fort Snelling, Minn., till November 1. Moved to Cairo, Ill., November 1.
State of Mississippi November 29, 1862
My dear wife,
I write you a few lines upon a camp chest, my candlestick a bayonet stuck in the ground.
I am now about thirty-three miles from Memphis. The camp is on a great broad flat, mostly covered with timber. The locality of the 27th Iowa is in a cornfield together with several other regiments. Our whole force I do not know but probably not far from 40,000. It may be more & may be less. On three sides are hills, mostly covered with timber. The fourth side is a continuation of the flat, heavily timbered & inaccessible by a large force. Batteries are posted on the hills around.
Our march from Memphis was very tedious yet I endured it very well—much better that I expected. The first two days I was able to relieve the men by carrying their guns for them. The third day I had all I could do to get along myself well as I could. You may think it a small matter to march only 33 miles in three days but it was not so.
The first day we did not start until in the afternoon but was on foot all day. We reached camp about nine o’clock p.m. Pitched tents, got supper, and got to bed about midnight. The next morning was on the march before sunrise [and] encamped about sun down. Troops were arriving till 2 o’clock in the morning. The third day were up before daylight but did not march till nearly noon. Waiting, waiting, waiting—more tedious than marching. We reached this camp sometime after dark. We marched by a round about course so that we have actually come more than 33 miles.
The tedium of the march is partly owing to repeated halts—some not lasting a minute. I presume we were over an hour passing over the last mile. The men were mostly exhausted, some miserably footsore. Others were weak with sickness. I was troubled with both. Today we have lain in camp. Tomorrow morning we have to march at 7 o’clock without bag or baggage except what we can carry on our backs.
We have an object in view. That is to cut off Van Dorn and Price from forming a junction with Bragg. We look for a battle tomorrow or next day—a severe one. We have had pale cheeks in camp already. I do not intend to say anything to excite your fears. This may be the last letter I can write you & yet I may be spared to write many more & come home to stay for many happy years. God only knows.
It is very possible that Price may run too fast to be caught. If we do intercept him, we shall have a battle. If I survive or am able, I will write as soon as possible. If I go down, I commit you and the children to God & such friends as you can find. I intend writing a short letter home asking their sympathy in your behalf. I send you an order on P C. Wilcox from his nephew for ten dollars. My wages due from the government some $200, you may get after awhile. I cannot tell how now.
It grieved me to leave you in such straightened circumstances but it cannot be helped. I must not write more now. I need strength for te march. Forget and forgive my many failings since we have journeyed together. God bless you and Emma & Eddie. A kiss for them & much love for you. — Otis
Camp Reed Jackson, Tennessee March 19th 1863
My Dear Wife,
Yesterday morning I went out on picket guard & did not return till noon today & found a letter from you. Some things in yours are more interesting than agreeable. For instance, the report nuisance circulates of you & Mrs. H. It is needless to take any notice of his slanders. No one that knows him believes anything he says unless they first know it to be true. I could name certainly one more of the same stripe.
I cannot learn anything definite about pay. It will probably come some time unless the government breaks down in which case greenbacks wil be of no account. Although we are doing nothing in a military view, I am for one kept busy almost all the time. So many sick to visit & then the dead or their effects to attend to. Two more of my company have died within a week—Joseph Moore and B[artimeus] McGonigil. The latter died yesterday. A[lonzo] L. Shurtleff is thought to be getting better. Warren Chase is at the post hospital. The left top of his lungs is said by the doctors to be entirely consolidated. [The] Cordell boys [Albert & Alfred] about as usual. Witten doing duty. Henry French has a large swelling on his neck. I can only send you a short letter now but will try and write often. We know nothing of going to Vicksburg.
I have just received the papers & bundle of linens. Respects to friends, &c. Kisses for the children. Love for you. — O. Whitney
Camp Opposite Little Rock, Arkansas October 4th 1863
My Dear Wife,
Yesterday I was gratified at the reception of three of your letters dated August 30th, September 6th, and September 13th. It had been nearly or quite a month since receiving any intelligence from you. I was anxious to learn whether you have received the money I sent by the chaplain although I had previously been informed that the money was left at Independence [Iowa].
I hope you will keep the money as safely as possible for I send you all but what I spend for my own personal expenses. I wish you would let me know when you answer this how much you have on hand. I would like to know that I may make some calculation as to the amount I can save. When I leave the service, I shall be out of any income and also out of business & as there will be thousands in the same situation, it may be difficult getting into business. Those who have no money on hand will be driven to work at perhaps uncongenial employment. I expect you will live well & dress well & your judgment satisfies me. Some wives of soldiers act like fools. I have heard of some that received the $50 county bounty & 30 or $40 in cash & at the first opportunity, went to town & laid out the last dime for clothes, buying everything that pleased the fancy as long as money lasted.
It is very difficult finding any clothing here and when it is found, very costly. Boots from $10 to 15 per pair. Pants the same. Dress coat from $30 to $40. And overcoat from $40 to $60, and other things in proportion. Soldiers clothes can be had of Post Quartermaster at very low figures but the service will not allow officers to dress entirely like the men in the ranks & the officers cannot complain as the government pays them liberally & has a right to expect they will wear the uniform of officers. You must not expect me to give an very minute answer to your letter. I am very glad to find that Eddie recognized me & now that I think of it, I will enclose the other likeness in this letter. It is so small I think Eddie will be puzzled to make out the original.
I hope you wil not allow yourself to become nervous on account of my absence. The soldiers wives are much worse situated than you are for when furloughs are being granted, only five in a hundred can go home at once and generally by the time one set gets back, the order granting furloughs is revoked or the regiment is under marching orders & then it costs a soldier several months pay to go home & return. It costs an officer more than a private as it is customary to charge them higher fare on the river and full fare on the railroad. If the order should be renewed allowing leaves of absence, I shall make an immediate application but I do not expect any opportunity for some time. It will depend entirely upon what is intended to be done with us. If we should be posted here, we shall be allowed furloughs & leaves of absence. You must make no calculation on seeing me until I let you know. Now that you have a house full of friends, I dare say you wil not be lonesome.
I have no news of interest. We go to bed at night without any fear of enemies or of being disturbed. There are more Union people here than we have found at any other place. The Arkansas River is very low—so low that the boys wade it in places. The evenings are very cold, not freezing, but if anything worse. One feels the cold here more than in the North. The atmosphere is different here from Iowa, rendering a slight degree of cold very penetrating & uncomfortable. I wish you could make me a couple of good shirts—fine woolen of some delicate tasty color. If you should make them, have them made very large, a fold & buttons in front with a band round the neck. You could send them by mail. Others have them sent by mail. You need not send me paper as I can get it readily. Postage stamps cannot be had for money. I will close this prosy letter but not with the promise of doing any better next time. With love as ever, — Otis Whitney
Camp near Little Rock, Arkansas October 20, 1863
My Dear Wife,
As it has been a number of days since I have written to you, I conclude to write you a few lines now although I have nothing to communicate but the old story—as well as usual & doing nothing of any account. A soldier’s life is one the most calculated to make anyone reckless & lazy. I have stopped writing long enough to eat breakfast & now that we are about prepared to to put up a log cabin. I must be very brief for we must move the tent to another place to make way for the cabin. I shall not have an opportunity to work today as I have quarterly report of ordnance and ordnance stores to make out.
In some respects we are living very well & comfortably. For breakfast we had nice white fish, corn meal, quick cakes with melted sugar and coffee. I get our supplies from the Division Commissary & do not have to pay as high as you do at home. Sometimes we get potatoes but generally go without for the best of reasons. We have been well supplied with sweet potatoes lately at $1.50 per bushel. Chickens are to be had occasionally at 50 cents apiece. We now have very nice persimmons. I wish the children could have some. They cannot be transported because when fit to eat, they are as soft as a thoroughly rotten apple. They are very harmless & the saying is that no one can eat too many.
The 50th Indiana have been removed fifty miles up the river. We have received no mail a long time. The occasion of the long delay is that the White River is getting unprecedentedly low and the fleet sticks on the sand bars for days at a time.
I have just stopped long enough to move the tent & everything is covered with dust half an inch deep or less. The wind has been blowing for two or three days is the reason of so much dust. There are yet no signs of leaves of absence & I begin to thing the expense from this point too much. I should not think so if it were not that I may be holden by the government for $200 or $300 worth of company property that has been lost, destroyed, & thrown away. I could not afford both now. The government hold captains [responsible] for every article put into mens hands.
I cannot write more now. I hope to hear from you soon. Love to all & yourself, — O. Whitney
The following letter was written by John Hawn Boon (1842-1890), the son of Joseph Boon (1808-1850) and Ann Hawn (1811-1898). John enlisted as a private in Co. A, 24th New Jersey Infantry, and served from 30 August 1862 to 29 June 1863—a total of 9 months and 29 days. Muster records sometime record his name as “Boone.”
In the 1860 US Census, 18 year-old John was enumerated in Allowaystown, Salem County, New Jersey, working as an “apprentice farmer” for Ercurius Ayres, his father having passed away ten years earlier. By the 1870 US Census, John was married to Sarah E. Allen (1841-1922) and was farming for himself on Lower Alloways Creek in Salem county.
The service record for the 24th New Jersey claims they were at Camp Ingham on East Capital Hill till October 14. At Camp Nixon near Chain Bridge till October 18. Picketing Leesburg Road and fatigue duty at Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy till October 25. At Camp Cumberland till December 1. March to Falmouth, Va., December 1-9. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. At Camp Knight till January, 1863. At Camp Robertson till April 27. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Mustered out at Beverly, N. J., June 29, 1863. During the service 3 Officers and 46 Enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded and 53 Enlisted men by disease.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Camp Knight February 5, 1863
Dear brother and sister,
I received your letter night before last and I was glad to hear from you. Your letter found me in good health and this letter leaves me in good health and I hope it will find you and your family enjoying the same blessing.
Dear brother, this is a very stormy day, I tell you. It’s snowing here very hard and it is very cold. But I expect that it is colder at home than it is here. I am sitting in my tent with my shoes off and got my feet covered up with the blanket and I am quite comfortable. But this afternoon at two o’clock I have to go out on picket and that is a bad job, I tell you. Most every time that I am on picket, it storms. But I have got a pair of boots and they come up to my knees. I paid 8 dollars for them. It is cold, cold, stormy weather and in comes the old boulks [?] a drinking, but everything is lovely, “o’ the bridle and the saddle hangs on the shelf, and if you want any more, sing it yourself.” 1
Do you know the reason that I write with a pencil? If you don’t know, I will tell you. Well, the reason is the paper is so soft that I can’t write on it with a pen. So now you know the reason.
I got paid off the other day, twenty-six dollars, but I did not send any of it home nor I don’t lay out to.
Edward, I want you to tell me whether you get my letters or not. I would put postage stamps on them but I can’t get them. They are as scarce as hen teeth out here so you will have to pay for them. I would send some money home to get some stamps but I am afraid you won’t get the letter. So I think it better to not send any. So I guess that I will bring my letter to a close. I still remain your affectionate brother, — John H. Boon
to Edward Boon
Please write soon. Goodbye.
1 This line is from a popular folk song sometimes under the title, “Pompey is Dead and Laid in his Grave.”
The following letter was written by Edward Ruthven Brush (1836-1908) who came to the 2nd Vermont Infantry with draftees and substitutes in the fall of 1863 and was assigned to company H. Though he entered the regiment as a private, it was not long before Edwin was commissioned an Assistant Surgeon. He was with the regiment until 15 July 1865.
Edwin was the son of Salmon Brush (1804-1887) and Sarah Lovegrove (1817-1890) of Cambridge, Vermont. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1858 and succeeded his father as a medical practitioner in his hometown. He was married to Amy Fletcher (1835-1915) in 1860.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Camp Vermont October 7th 1863
Having arrived at my place of destination, I hasten to write you thinking you would be anxious to hear from me. We left Long Island Thursday evening October 1st on board the U. S. transport Forest City. It was very calm and pleasant when we started and continued so until the next day about noon when the wind commenced blowing and continued to blow until the next day so that we had a pretty rough time that night. But it did not prevent my sleeping that night, except when the ship would come up with an extra jerk when it would wake me up. Some of the boys were pretty sick about that time but strange as it may seem, I was not sea sick in the least.
I got cold on the island and for a day or two my lungs were quite sore. The wind stopped blowing the next day and it was very pleasant again so that I was on deck most all day Saturday. We were going up the Chesapeake Bay. We had to go to Portsmouth to leave some New Hampshire boys off whom I shall speak presently. I was on deck when we went up by Fortress Monroe. It is a very formidable fort. There were quite a number of gunboats laying in the harbor near there. We went by some points of interest on our way up. There was the place where the Merrimack came out from Norfolk and attacked our fleet and sunk some of our boats, and the boys in the fort were expecting she would come down and attack them. But just at that time the Monitor made its appearance and drove the Merrimack back to Norfolk where the rebels blew her up when Gen. Wool took the place. What remains of her lays near the shore above Norfolk in sight of where we were at anchor.
Norfolk and Portsmouth are quite pleasantly situated one on either side of the James [Elizabeth] River, nearly opposite each other. There are some very good buildings in them but they seemed quite deserted. There seemed nothing going on except what government was doing (the effects of war). Amy, when we were coming up the Bay, I could not help thinking how happy I should be if I was on a passenger boat and you with me. If you had been with me, I should have enjoyed myself very much indeed. It was so warm and pleasant.
We landed the New Hampshire boys a little after noon Saturday and started on our way down the bay immediately. We had to go down to the mouth of the Potomac river where we arrived in the night and had to anchor our boat and stay until Sunday morning when we started up the river for Alexandria. There was a cold wind all day Sunday so that I did not go on deck much that day, but was on deck some of the time but did not have a chance to see as much as I should have been glad to see. I just got a glimpse of the tomb of Washington but did not see enough to say anything about it.
I promised to tell you about the New Hampshire boys. Well there were about three hundred and sixty aboard the vessel. Out of them, there were some thirty or forty New York roughs who were taken to New Hampshire by substitute brokers. There were a set of thieves, robbers, and pick pockets and they went into the army for that purpose and we expected to have a pretty rough time when we started from Boston. And we were not disappointed either. They did not meddle with Vermonters as much as they did with Maine and New Hampshire boys for two reasons. First, we did not have much money with us and they knew it. Secondly, we posted a guard in front of our bunks and gave what little money we had to our Captain or took care of it otherwise. But they would [go] to a man’s bunk when he was asleep and rifle his pockets or they would get a crowd around, pull his hat off, pull him around generally, and in the scrape, would take what money they could find. They took one hundred and fifty dollars from one man and from that down to five or ten from others. There was more or less fighting as long as they remained on the boat. But you may be sure of one thing—that men never left a place when those that were left were more pleased than we were when they left us. The boys did not hardly know what to do they were so pleased to get rid of them. I did not write you about them before we left because I thought you might feel concerned about me.
We arrived at Alexandria Monday night where we received our arms and equipments. We stayed in Alexandria over night and the next morning we started for our regiment. We came to Culpeper (which is about sixty miles from Alexandria) on the railroad where we arrived about two o’clock p.m. From there we marched to here which is about 12 or 15 miles from Culpeper. We arrived here a little after dark, hungry and tired. I expected to be pretty lame today but had a good night’s sleep and got up feeling quite well this morning.
The [Vermont] Brigade came here day before yesterday to do picket duty so you see they are pretty well in the front. The country we came through was anything but beautiful—no fences, not much growing except weeds. In fact, if I had not known that I was on the sacred soil of Virginia, I should have thought I was in a wilderness. But then I suppose I am not. We are in sight of the ruins of a house that the boys tore down yesterday to built their tents of. I believe after they had got it nearly torn down, Col. Grant put a guard around it but the guard did not prevent the boys from getting what they wanted to make themselves comfortable. They believe in taking what rebel property they want for their own use. I stayed with Hack last night. As soon as I got back here, he took me to his tent, got me a good supper, and I went to bed. I have been assigned to Co. H. Uncle Joseph is out on picket so I have not seen him yet.
The cavalry is not far from here. I hope to get word to George that I am here so he will come and see me. My darling, I want to see you so much. I love you more than I ever thought I did. Do you know how much I love you> You must write as often as you can. It does so much good to receive one of your letters. They are all so kind. You do not know how happy I should be if I could only be with you as I used to be. I think I should try and be better to you than I used to be. You must be careful and [not] work too hsard. Kiss our little darling for me and think I am kissing you for it. Hack sends his respects. Give my love to all the folks. I must stop writing for this time. From your own darling, — Edwin
To my dearest one.
Direct to E. R. Brush, Co. H, 2nd Regiment Volunteers, Washington D. C.
The following letter was written by 52 year-old C. Van Piper who we learn was the station agent in Nunda, Livingston county, New York, before heading west in 1873 with his wife Susan to accept a similar position in Boulder, Colorado Territory. The letter was written in two parts, by both “Van” (as his wife called him) and by his wife.
Van addressed his letter to William Van Nostrand (1835-1925), a native of Allegany county, New York, whose father, Luzon Van Nostrand (1807-1895) was an early settle of Short Tract. In 1880, William was enumerated at Nunda Station, Livingston county, New York, where he ran a saw and planing mill. He was married to Susan Maria Swain (1839-1902).
In his letter, Van writes of his journey from Chicago to Colorado by train but first stops to see Henry Moore Teller, a native of Allegany county, New York, who earned a law degree and settled in Morrison, Whiteside county, Illinois, before joining the gold-seekers in Colorado in April 1861. Rather than pan for gold, however, Teller accumulated wealth as a supplier and opened an office in Central City—the chief mining area west of Denver. In 1865 he drew up the charter for the Colorado Central Railroad and got the Territorial legislature to back the project. Henry and his brother Willard built a hotel in Central City in 1871-72 which was the town’s main hotel for more than 60 years.
Colorado Central Railroad Boulder Station October 27, 1873
Wm. Van Nostrand Dear Sir,
You have probably heard how I slid out and left Nunda Station. No living soul knew where I was going when I left home except my wife—not even my mother—but I was bound to see this country and here I am and not sorry for it. It was a fine ride for me. After I left Chicago, I stopped at Mr. Teller’s [in Morrison] and then met H[enry] M[oore Teller. Stayed from Thursday till Tuesday and then left for Colorado, passing through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, touched Wyoming Territory, and then Colorado.
We left the Union Pacific Railroad at Cheyenne (pronounced Shyan) and took the Denver Pacific Railroad 106 miles and this was a very pleasant and interesting road. On the west you can see the Rocky Mountains with their snow-clad peaks and on the east the broad plains as far as the eye can reach and all dotted over with large herds of cattle, accompanied with their her wagons and tents—a most splendid sight to me. You can see so far in this country. The air is so clear you have a fair view of the mountains—can see them for some 300 miles.
I was disappointed in the way they look. I supposed we would come to them by degrees but not so. You keep on the plains and all at once as it were you come to them staring you in the face and saying, hold! and come no farther, but man is a progressive animal and into them he has you in search of the precious metals and it is wonderful to see what man can accomplish. For instance, the railroad running from Golden to Central City follows up Clear Creek Canion and is wonderful to behold. Rocks from 5 to 1500 feet high piled in all manner of shapes and the railroad track cut in the rocks and crooked. Not half of the time you can see either end of the train. But I cannot describe it. You must come and see for yourself and it will pay you well.
This is a great country for stocking can keep all you choose and no fodering winters. They say you can turn out an old broken down ox in the fall and he will come out fat in the spring. If your wife and girls was here and had about 30 coins [?] and 500 hens, could make as much money as all Grangers. Butter 40 cents, eggs 40 cents, and they say you can keep eggs till the Holidays. You can get from 6 to 8 bits per dozen up in the mountains among the miners. They do raise the finest wheat I ever saw sown—white and plump—and spring at that. Oh what nice flour. I believe irrigating is the way after all for fine crops. You say it must cost something to irrigate. So it does, but not as much as to clear up a farm in your section.
But I must quit as I will tire your patience. You will please write us and let us know how you and all the folks are. Please accept this from your friend, — C. Van Piper
[In a different hand]
Boulder Station October 27, 1873
Dear Friends, Van Norstrands,
Here we are this beautiful Sabbath morning literally among the mountains. I wish I could describe to you the beauty of this mountain scenery—peak upon peak, glade upon glade, more rough and rugged now, more smooth and undulating as far as the eye can reach north and south, and even east of us is somewhat sharp points, but not so high. So we are almost surrounded by mountains.
In coming from Central City (where the Teller’s live) to here, we, in the first place come down out of the mountains following a canion down some 20 miles to Golden, just out on the plains. Then changed cars and come north about 28 miles, following the base of the mountains all the way but keeping on the plains. Such splendid views as we had some of the way. Got here just dark. Was here a week before out household goods come. The former agent moved out the next morning and left the coast clear but so dirty. The new only been built three months. Well, we got dirt out as soon as we could. Van had to do the most and he bought out a chap who had kept bachelor’s hall and we went to eating ourselves. Got along very well but it was an experience quite new to me. Well, we are comfortably settled now. Got such a nice little stove for 35 dollars, kettles, and everything with it. We burn a sort of soft coal. Makes a splendid fire. Got our carpets down and my melodian here and bought some fowls. We can keep as many as we like. Bought 7 old hens and 8 chickens half grown. Have the whitest bread here. 1.75 for sack of flour, potatoes 1.20 per bushel, butter 35 to 40 cents, sugar about the same. Their tea about the same though we have not bought any. Had some eggs 40 cents a dozen.
I am going to go into the poultry business. Bought a good chance. Had warm pleasant weather all the time. A little snow now but won’t lay long. We are half mile from the city proper of Boulder but they are building down this way very fast. 25 brick houses going up now. It is quite lonely for us here—too far to go to church for mother and me at least. Van goes. Heard the bells ringing this morning very lively. Sorry I could not go. The town is right in plain sight but farther off than it looks. I have not been up town yet. Don’t know how it looks nearby.
Well, I must get dinner. Please write us, will you. Ever your friend, —S. A. Van Piper