Skip to main content

Full text of "Army letters, 1861-1865. Being extracts from private letters to relatives and friends from a soldier in the field during the late Civil War, with an appendix containing copies of some official documents, papers and addresses of later date"

See other formats






• 1 929 • 

Chicago, 1903. 








Private EigMy-tMrd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, 
First Lieutenant Eighth United States Colored Troops. 



t:*" ncv/ YORK 



t{ 1930 L 






Introduction 6 

Letters 1 86 1 9 

Letters 1862 / 39 

Letters 1863 132 

Letters 1864 196 

Letters 1 86s 249 

Recollections 280 


Record Escutcheon 302 

Military Societies 305 

List of Battles and Skirmishes 306 

Letter from General James C. Rice 307 

Letter from Captain John Hechtman 308 

Order from War Department 309 

Honorable Discharge from Eighty-third P. V 310 

Commission as First Lieutenant Eighth U. S. C. T. . . 311 
Appointment as Regimental Quartermaster 

Eighth U. S. C. T 312 

Honorable Discharge from Eighth U. S. C. T 313 

Paper Read at Social Club, 1875 315 

Two Bugle Calls ^2} 

Corps Badges 330 

Our Fallen Comrades, Address at Dedication of Regi- 
mental Monument, Gettysburg 337 

The Third Brigade at Appomattox, Address by General 

Joshua L. Chamberlain 347 


Portrait of Author, 1903 Frontispiece 

Portrait of Author, 1861 8 

Brigade Flag in Colors 1 53 

Portrait of General Strong Vincent 16^ 

Portrait of Author, 1863 193 

Escutcheon 303 

Music of Butterfield's Brigade Call }2^ 

Music of Taps 329 

Monument Eighty-third P. V. at Gettysburg }}^ 

Position of Eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers on 

Little Round Top, Gettysburg 345 


THE AUTHOR ot" the letters in this volume placed his name on the 
roll ofvoiunteers to answer the call ot" President Lincoln for seventy- 
five thousand men for three months' service, at Springfield, Penn- 
sylvania, on the lOth of April, 1801. The volunteers from Spring- 
field vc'ere formed into a company with those from Girard. This company 
formed part of a regiment which complettid its organization at Erie, Penn- 
sylvania, on the 20th of April, 1801. This Regiment, after serving three 
months, was re-organized qnd under the name of the Eighty-third Regiment 
Pennsylvania Volunteers ■entered the service of the United States for three 
years, or during the war. The author served as a private soldier in this 
regiment from its organization until November, 1863, when he was com- 
missioned by President Lincoln as First Lieutenant of the Eighth United 
States Colored Troops, and served in that capacity until November, i8o^. 

During this period of four and one-half years he wrote, at short inter- 
vals, letters to relatives and friends, describing his experiences as a private 
soldier and officer. Some of these letters have been collected and printed in 
this volume with a view to preserving for his children and friends a record 
of a soldier's life in the time of the Civil War They are printed exactly as 
written, without alteration or addition. Some paragraphs of purely personal 
nature, or which have no reference to army life, have been omitted. It may 
be thought that many others might have been left out with advantage, but 
the purpose of presenting as accurately as possible the life ot a soldier, and 
the ideas and motives which actuated him as revealed in his letters, would 
not be so well served by such omission. 

This volume is printed for private circulation only. The letters have no 
literary merit. Little will be expected in this respect from a young man 
whose education was limited to such instruction as he could obtain in district 
schools and village academies before completing his sixteenth year. No 
apology is made for crude or even coarse expressions, because to change the 
letters in any respect would be to destroy any value they may have. 

Copies of some officiai documents, with some narratives and addresses 
of a later date, are given in an appendix. The author is indebted to General 
Joshua L. Chamberlain for the valuable paper ^'The Third Brigade at Ap- 
pomattox," with which this volume ends. 

Chicago, 1903 

O. W. NORTON, April, 1861 
In uniform of Girard Guards. 


Camp VVilkins, Pittsburgh, Penn., 

Friday, May 10, 186 1. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

I hardly know where to begin or what to write. Aly 
mind is, perhaps, in the same condition as yours — a good 
deal confused. It is a damp, rainy morning, so rainy that 
no companies will be out for drill until the weather is more 
favorable, so I have leisure to write. My health is toler- 
ably good. I have been sick with a severe cold one day 
so I could not drill, but a wet towel cured that 
and I have had a turn of sick headache ; beyond that I 
have been very well. I feel very well this morning. I had 
a good breakfast, had milk in my coffee, and last night we 
had butter. 

The day I had the sick headache, I got nothing for 
breakfast but a piece of dry bread, and at noon we had 
a rice soup that was burnt so as to be nauseous. I ate a 
good quantity, however, and, consequently, nnatc it and 
ate no more till the next night. 

We have fixed up our quarters first-rate. Four of us 
occupy a shed about ten feet by five feet. Plenty of 
lumber was furnished and we partitioned off a cabin, 
about half our room, and covered it all over except a little 
hole to crawl into. Inside we have a berth or bunk for one, 
and straw in the bottom for the rest, a first-rate camp. The 
front room we use for sitting room, parlor, recep- 
tion room, reading room, writing room, etc., a place about 
five feet square. 

We have lots of papers — New York, Philadelphia, Cin- 
cinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh dailies, four or five every 
day. I have sent some home. In the Dispatch you can see 
an account of our proceedings last Sunday. 

I got a pass and went out into the city yesterday. 1 took 
the morning's mail down to the office. We had about one 
hundred papers and forty-eight letters. Our company has 
more letters and ])apcrs sent and received than any other 
three companies in the regiment. Our company has been 
selected to bear the regimental flag, as ours is the best fiag 
in the regiment. In fact, I haven't seen a nicer flag any- 
where than ours. Being about medium height, my place 
is very near the flag. 

But I am digressing — 1 was going to tell you what I 
saw in the city. I walked through a good share of the 
trading part of the city, seeing the lions and big black 
buildings, then I went down to the river and followed 
that up some distance. I then jumped on one of the cars 
of the horse railroad and went up to the United States 
arsenal. I had full liberty to walk about the grounds, but 
I could not enter any building. It is the most beautiful I 
have seen this long time. The grass is about six inches 
high and beautiful gravel walks run through it in all 
directions. Shade trees in full leaf are set all around, and 
lilacs, which are in full bloom, are set round in tasty places. 
I was just picking some of them to send to you when a 
couple of sentinels charged bayonets on me and I let 'em 
alone. They said no one w^as allowed to pick fiow-ers or go 
on the grass. All well enough, I suppose, but I w^anted 
some. I counted tw'O hundred and forty-four cannon lying 
round in the yard, about sixty ten-inch Columbiads, and 
the rest from twelve to sixty-four-pounders, and I should 
think twenty-five or thirty cords of cannon balls and bomb 
shells. I saw eight guns and a lot of balls that were taken 
in the Revolution. One of the guns was marked W. Bowen, 
fecit, 1747, two others ditto 1755, one 1776 and tw^o made in 
Paris. I should think as many as tw^o hundred cannon are 
set round about the grounds as posts. The small arms I 
could not see, as they are all in the buildings. They are 
making a gun nineteen feet long and four feet across the 
muzzle, to carry a fifteen-inch ball. 

One of the boys w^io w^ent down to old Ft. Duquesne 
brought up a piece of bark from a log in the old fort built 


more than one hundred years ago. 1 got a piece, which just 
for a curiosity I send to you. 

H. B.'s enlisting is just about what I expected to hear. 
D. T. too, is in. Well, success to them ! I have seen C. R.'s 
father two or three times; had an introduction. He came 
to my door yesterday. He said our quarters looked about 
as comfortable as any. 

I heard yesterday that we were ordered to march on 
Harper's Ferry within ten days, but as nothing has been 
said about it publicly in camp, I don't much believe it. So 
many false rumors are about that no one knows what to 
believe. I think, however, that we shall leave for some- 
where soon. Government is making active preparations for 
war. One piece of news that we received from Girard 
caused a good laugh in our company, viz. : that the young 
ladies of Girard had presented ex-Lieutenant S. with a 
wooden sword. 

Camp Wright, Hulton, Perm., 

Saturday, June 8, 1861. 
Dear Sister H. : — 

You will see by the date of this that I have left Camp 
Wilkins and am now at the new camp called Camp Wright. 
We arrived here to-day. Oh, I tell you we have a splendid 
place, fifteen miles from Pittsburgh on the south bank of 
the Alleghany. The barracks of the Erie regiment are 
sheds seventy-five feet long and twenty feet wide. They 
stand in a row with an alley ten feet wide between each 
two. Each shed is divided by a partition running through 
the middle, making two long rooms ten feet wide. Each 
company occupies one room in one shed and one in the 
next shed across the alley. 

At the head of the alley are the Captain's quarters, 
overlooking his whole company. The railroad runs between . 
the camp and the river and on the other side of the railroad 
is the parade ground, a beautiful meadow of ninety acres.^ 
The barracks are built on a side-hill so that the upper end 
rests on the ground and the other is some six feet from 
the ground. The floor descends about seven feet in the 

1 1 

seventy-five, niakinj^- quite a slope. The tables are wide 
boards hung on hinges to the side of the wall. We are to 
sleep on the bare floor. We have just the best of spring 
water and it tastes good after drinking the nasty river 
water which we had so long in Pittsburgh. 

There is a large orchard in camp and a grove of beauti- 
ful shade trees. A little brook runs through a shady hol- 
low down on one side, and every one seems delighted at 
the change from the foul, dirty camp to this beautiful 

But w^e are not to stay here long. Colonel McLane re- 
ceived a dispatch from Washington yesterday, saying that 
w^e were accepted by the Government, and were to be mus- 
tered into the United States service immediately, those 
who are willing for three years and the others for three 
months from this time, those who will not enlist for three 
months to be sent home. I shall not enlist for three years 
now. I will wait till my three months are up. We are 
to be uniformed and equipped immediately. We expect 
to be ordered to Western Virginia or Harper's Ferry, 
though, for good reasons, w^e are not told where we are 

A large amount of cartridges were sent ofif from the 
arsenal Thursday night, and troops are moving south from 
all directions, showing that something is to be done and 
that soon, too. Perhaps the war movements will not be so 
interesting to you, so I will tell you of a visit I paid to a 
glass factory yesterday. I never was in one before and it 
was quite a sight to me. A dozen or more great furnaces 
w^ere filled with boiling glass, and a boy would run up 
aod stick in a long rod, give it a turn and take out a 
dumpling of the red-hot liquid and hold it over an iron die, 
when another would cut it off with a pair of shears and 
bring down a lever on it, pressing it into a mold, and then 
pull it back and turn out a beautiful salt-cellar or sugar-bowl 
like yours, or a tumbler, a lamp, a sauce-dish, or whatever 
the mold happened to be. At another place they were blow- 
ing bottles and glass jars, such as they have to hold candy 
in shop windows. A man takes a hollow rod, runs it in 


the furnace and brings out a little wad of glass, then blows 
it a little and it swells ont just like a bubble. He then 
whirls it over his head a few times and blows a little more, 
rolls it round on an iron plate to make it round, clips it 
off with a pair of shears, and another man stabs a fork 
into the bottom of it, and heating it, passes it to another 
who shapes the neck and mouth. They would make twenty 
in the time it takes me to tell you how they make one. One 
of the workmen kindly handed me his pipe and told me to 
blow a bottle. I did, two or three of them, and blew some 
glass bubbles, a piece of one of which I send to you. I 
think you never saw thinner glass, at least I never did. 
S While I was down to the river yesterday, I saw a curi- 
osity — a tree growing downwards. The roots were in 
the top of the river bank, and the trunk hung right down 
and the branches curved upward. "- 

Camp Wright, Hulton, Penn., 

Sunday, June p, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I wish you could just step in and see us here, say on a 
dress parade. We are in just as beautiful a place as I ever 
saw. The lovely Alleghany rolls along at the foot of the 
hill, and the little country seats nestled in quiet nooks, the 
new buildings in camp, the groves and orchards, the lane 
that leads to the river, and the beautiful mountain rising 
up on the other side of the river, make a picture I never 
saw equalled. 

I wrote to H. yesterday that we were accepted and were 
to be mustered in immediately. The Colonel received a tele- 
gram last night from the Secretary of War, saying that 
we would be taken for three years, unless sooner dis- 
charged, or we would be sent home. That you see material- 
ly alters the case. I don't know how it will work. Some 
whole companies say that they will not go. We shall know 
in a day or two. I hardly know what to do. It seems a 
long time to live such a life, but if I am needed, I must 
go. If our company goes as a company, I shall go too. 
If not, you may look for me home soon. 


I just wish I coukl have seen you last night instead of 
reading your letter. I thought perhaps you were having a 
good time about the time I was reading that letter. I 
sincerely hope the choice you have made is a good one. 
Give my respects to C and tell him, I think, as matters 
stand, the sooner he and I become acquainted the better. 
I would like to have him write to me. 

1 think from what you write, that vegetation must be 
more advanced here than there. Potatoes and corn are 
six inches high, and clover in bloom. I saw strawberries 
and cherries in market yesterday. 

H. B. wrote the other day that his folks had adopted a 
daughter about fifteen years old, and that L. C. was a 
secessionist. He had a big fuss with the boys who put up 
a Union flag near his house, threatened the life of some, 
sued others, and was bound over himself to appear at 
court to answer for his rabid conduct. 

Well, I must stop. I hope you will not wait so long 
before writing again. I am so anxious to hear from you 
often. If there is anything you expected to see, that is 
omitted, you may hear it in the future. My address is 
Camp Wright, Pittsburgh. 

Camp Wright, Hiilton, Penn., 

Saturday, June 15, 1861. 
Dear Father: — 

Our camp this week has been the scene of a good deal 
of confusion and uneasiness. I clip an extract from this 
morning's Dispatch that explains the cause. 

We have been told by some officers that *'We were 
accepted ; w^e were going to Chambersburg ; we were not 
accepted ; we were accepted for three years ; those who 
would not enlist for the Avar would be sent home ; they 
would be kept here till their three months expires ; that 
Companies A, B, C, F and I only, would g\j for the war, 
and the rest would be disbanded," and within ten minutes 
Ala j or Schlaudecker has told me "that none of the com- 
panies would go ; that we would all go together, one way or 
the other." 


Acting on the statement that our company would not 
go, I went this morning and put my name on Company 
B's roll for the war. Our Captain said "No man should 
leave his company till it was disbanded." The Colonel said 
"Any man who chose could enlist in any company m the 
regiment to go for the war. Captains notwithstanding." 
''Father said I might and mother said I shouldn't," and I 
concluded I would do as I was a mind to. 

The statement that the companies could not be filled 
in time to report according to orders, is probably the true 
one, and so that performance will not amount to much. 

Such a feeling pervades the minds of the soldiers that 
discipline is played out. Company K refused to turn out 
to roll call the other morning, and day before yesterday, 
not a man of them appeared on dress parade. Company F 
would not come out on parade yesterday. 

' Night before last a row broke out in a beer saloon near 
the depot and some of the Pittsburgh boys cleaned out the 
whole thing, broke in the doors and windows, smashed 
up the glass and furniture. A crowd collected and Colonel 
Grant was obliged to call out Companies B, G and I with 
their guns to disperse them. Company G charged down 
the road and across the railroad track through the thickest 
of them. They made quite a determined stand on the track, 
and some six or eight were wounded before they would 
leave. A man stood before me and I called to him twice to 
stand back. He did not move and I ran my bayonet into 
his side an inch or so. He started then. He was awful 
mad. The wound was not a serious one, only a flesh 
wound, but he swears he will shoot the man who stabbed 
him. He has been hanging round our quarters with a 
revolver several times lately, and pointed out a man who, 
he says, stabbed him, but he has got the wrong man. I 
think I am safe enough unless some one peaches. Only 
three or four in our company know who it w^as. M. W. 
Goold pricked one man, Godfrey, Wheeler and others 
pricked some, but none were seriously hurt. I have car- 
ried a revolver for a day or so, and I think I am all right, -a 

The way we have been treated is enough to make a 


preacher swear, almost. We are cheated in our rations 
about half the time. Our clothes are all dropping off from 
us. W'e don't know whether we are accepted or not, or 
that we will ever get any pay. 

We have been practicing at target shooting lately. Our 
guns beat everything I ever saw to shoot. The balls are 
very heavy, eleven to the pound. We were siiooting at 
''Old Jeff" yesterday, at forty rods, and over half the boys 
hit him. We broke his back, legs, arms, and knocked his 
teeth out. This morning, since I commenced writing, nine- 
teen of us have been shooting at a target at twelve rods. 
Thirteen balls struck the board, nine inside the ring and 
four hit the center. I call that good shooting. I, of course, 
am not among the best, though I hit inside the ring. One 
ball went plumb through an oak tree, nine inches in di- 

The orders this morning are that we must commence 
drilling again, and have every man attending to his duties 
or lying in the guard house. 

I hope you will write as often as you can. It seems 
to me my letters are like "angels' visits." My health is 
excellent. It never was better. I am in the river every 
day. The river is about one hundred rods wdde here, with 
a swift current. I rolled up in my blanket the other night 
and slept under an apple tree. I slept first-rate, did not 
wake till reveille, nor take the least cold. The boys are 
all getting considerably copper-colored in the hot sun. The 
weather is w^arm and dry. The Dispatch says the ther- 
mometer stood at 102 yesterday at noon. 

P. S. — At 12 m. It is definitely settled now that we 
are to stay in the State service the remainder of the three 
months. No companies will leave the regiment. According 
to past experience, we expect this changed in a couple of 

Camp IVright, H niton, Pcnn., 

Saturday, June 22, 1861. 
Dear Mother: — 

None of the boys have had any letters for a week. At 
last they begin to come and all bring news, "we heard you 


vv-ere coming home." Well, the origin of that story was 
this : Colonel McLane received orders to start for Hams- 
burg, where his regiment would be sworn in for three 
years. A vote was taken and not over half the men would 
enlist for that time, and it was reported that the remainder 
would be sent home, and the regiment filled from other 
companies in camp. As usual, the order was counter- 
manded, and we are here yet. 

Yesterday a dispatch was received saying we were to 
be armed and 

Sunday morning, 2^d, 

I had got as far as that yesterday when I was stopped 
by the cry, 'Tall in, marching orders are received, we're 
oft" by the first train," etc. I put away my writing, seized 
my gun, and was in the ranks in a short time. The cannon 
was booming out our joy, and amid the wildest cheers we 
marched to the guard house and reported to the ''Officer 
of the day." who said the orders were to have everythmg 
packed and ready to leave by 2 o'clock. We returned to 
our quarters and commenced packing, when, as usual, the 
orders were countermanded. General AlcCali telegraphed, 
"Hold on, don't start till further orders." The further 
orders have not come yet. Here we are at 11 a. m., to-day, 
and three companies are detailed for guards, Companies 
E, F and K, showing that we will not leave to-day. 

' We are ordered to Harrisburg to receive uniforms and 
equipments, and we expect to go from there to Western 

Virginia. . 

That is the fourth time we have had marching orders 
countermanded. Colonel McLane telegraphed to Harris- 
burg that he should start for Harrisburg or Erie on Mon- 
day If his regiment was not ordered off he would take 
them home. The arms were distributed to the regiment' 
a few davs ago, and we are having the most severe drill. 
The thermometer stands in the neighborhood of 100 most 
of the time and they take us out about two hours at a time 
and keep us marching till the sweat pours off in streams. 

I think this severe drilling shows that we are to see 


service soon, though when or where, we cannot teli. A 
soldier is a mere machine and has no hnsiness to know any- 
thin^e^ except liis (hitw His officers take care tliat he does 

Camp Wright, Unltoii, I\ini., 

Ihiirsday, June 2j, 1861. 
Dear Brother E. : — 

We've had pretty spicy times in camp for a week or ten 
days. Marching; orders are given and immediately counter- 
manded. It's pack up, then unpack and make fun of it. 
One of the boys stuck up a picture — a courier driving at the 
top of his speed, shouting, "Hurrah ! ^Marching orders ;" and 
another following hard after, calling out, "Hold on, l)last 
ye; they're countermanded." They call it, "The Erie boys' 
experience," and it is a pretty good hit. 

The boys resort to all sorts of expedients to kill time. 
A good many of them are making clani-shell rings. It re- 
quires a good deal of work to make one, but they are the 
prettiest rings I ever saw. Some of them look like pearl, 
some are blue and some like carnelian. They take a high 

One of the Wildcats had a mud-turtle yesterday. He 
made a little seccsh flag and tied it to his hind flipper and 
made him trabble with it, dragging it round in the dust. 
It made some sport. 

The Armstrong Rifles had a veritable secession flag, 
hanging bottom side up, on their quarters, yesterday. It 
was captured at Philippi and sent up here. It was made 
of muslin, three stripes and seven stars, tin ones at that, an 
elegant thing. 

I spend a good deal of time in the river. I am improv- 
ing some in swimming. Swam across the other day at 
the widest place in sight. Some of our company found 
ine body of a man in the river the other day. He appeared 
to have been in the water a long time. He was standing 
erect with his feet firmly bedded in the bottom, and his 
head about two feet under water. One of the feet broke 
oi¥ in pulling him up. 


Well, I must stop. I do not know as there is anything 
in reach worth sending you as a curiosity. If I find any- 
thing, however, I will remember you. 

Don't fail to write again soon. I think your last is 
the best letter I ever saw of yours. Write often and you will 
improve. Direct to Camp Wright, Hulton, care of Captain 
D. W. Hutchinson. 

Camp Wright, Hulton, Penn., 

Thursday, June 2/, 1861. 
Dear Father : — 

One of the items of interest in the editor's visit to Colonel 
McLane yesterday, is found in the Gazette of this morning, 
viz. : that throughout the whole day (yesterday) no march- 
ing orders or countermands were received. For a week 
or ten days the camp has been in a feverish state of excite- 
ment. First came the orders to distribute the arms and hold 
in readiness to march. The arms were distributed and then 
came the orders to start for Harrisburg, then the counter- 
mand — ^"Hold on, wait for further orders." Next day, 
"Grant no more furloughs, drill fast, you will be called 
soon." The orders stopped here and we ''drilled fast" for 
two or three days, anxiously waiting for the "soon." It 
did not come, but, in its place, it was announced on Mon- 
day that the Governor was not dead, as before reported, 
only dead drunk, and that he and his aide would be here on 
Tuesday to dispose finally of the Erie Regiment, either 
order us to Harrisburg or home. W^ell, Tuesday came and 
the Governor didn't, so he was announced to come on 
Wednesday. \A'ednesday came and the Governor didn't, 
and it was then announced that the whole thing was a ca- 
nard, started just to keep the boys quiet. 

Some of the boys got a great demijohn and paraded 
round the camp with it, labeled in staring capitals, 'The 
Governor's Aide." 

Company E had a comic picture sent up from New York, 
representing a very miliugtary man with a fierce mustache. 
When turned upside down, it was a complete jackass. That 
is just about our situation. No one knows what will be 


done with ns. 1 think \vc will be kept here the rest of our 
time and then sent home with our elothes worn out, and no 
pay to buy more with. They will hardly uniform and equip 
us and send us into the field for three or four weeks. 

Pay no heed whatever to the letters and telegrams say- 
ing we are coming home, but continue to wTite to us till you 
see us at home. A couple of wagon-loads of dead letters 
would be nothing compared to our uneasiness without letters 
from home. 

Camp Wright, Hiilton, Penn., 
Sunday, June jo, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Major General IMcCall w^as here on Friday and organ- 
ized two new regiments for the war. There are now in 
this camp and Camp \Mlkins about five thousand men. We 
had a review of all the troops in this camp Friday afternoon. 
The General expressed himself w^ell pleased wdth our ap- 

Last night our regiment was drawn up in line of battle 
and we had a game of — charge bayonet. We are all armed 
now, you know', and, at the w-ord, the bristhng points came 
down and we started across the plain. We kept close 
together in good line till w^e almost reached the enemy (a 
crowd of spectators, tmarmed women and children) when 
they fired a volley of screams at us and turned and fled.' We 
broke ranks and pursued them, but as they seemed to get 
the better of us, w^e gave up the pursuit and fell into line. 
We received a lecture for breaking ranks and then faced 
about and charged again, this time in first-rate order. We 
tried it two or three times, succeeding very well, and then 
came the tug of war. A crowd of spectators had gathered 
on the back side of the field towards the river. Colonel 
Grant saw- we wanted some fun and he drew us up in front 
of their terrible battery of laughter. We moved on steadily 
till the command, "Double quick;" "Clear the field." Our 
Captain, who is not over nice in choice of words, sprang 
forw^ard and sang out, "Forward boys, give 'em h — 1." Oh, 
what a scene ! E,very man did his best to outrun the rest, 


and with the wildest whoops we brought up at the fence 
in a cloud of dust and the field was cleared. The "Charge 
of the Light Brigade" was nothing in comparison to that. 
We had but few mishaps. E. A. S. (the Reverend) lost 
one of his pearly false teeth and had to stop to find it, and 
Jack W. fell down and ran his bayonet into the ground. 

We have got out of ball-cartridges and are practicing i>^ 
in skirmishing with blank-cartridges. You would laugh to 
see us fall flat on our faces and fire a volley and then roll 
over on our backs and load. We do this, however, and it 
is not so difiicult as it might seem. Of course, we are not 
so liable to be hit by balls when lying on our backs. We 
just rise, so as to support the gun on our elbows, fire, and 
fall flat again, then tumble on the back and slide the gun 
down till the butt rests on the ground between the heels, 
and the muzzle is right over the face where a cartridge can 
be put in and sent home very easily. Company I is very 
expert in this. They will be running on double quick, and 
at the word, fall, fire and load in half a minute. y^ 

I have heard of no arrangements for the Fourth yet. 
Colonel McLane has gone to Erie, and some say he expects 
to have us there on the Fourth, but I think that's all camp 
talk. The paymaster is to be here and pay ofif Colonel Hay's 
and Colonel Jackson's regiments this week. Some say he 
will pay us, but I guess all we will get won't make us rich. 

We have had considerable excitement in our company 
lately in regard to the conduct of our officers. It is ascer- 
tained that they are cheating us in a rascally manner. Each 
company is allowed seventy-seven rations per day for the 
privates and non-commissioned officers and musicians, and 
each commissioned officer is allowed four rations per day. 
Properly cooked and distributed one ration is all a man can 
eat and it almost always happens that some of the company 
are absent, and the law says, ''That, if anything is saved 
from their rations the company may sell it and raise a 
company fund." In this way Company B has now a fund 
of $200. Well, our three officers, instead of drawing their 
own rations, haye boarded themselves and servant, all this 
time, out of ours, thus keeping us half the time without 


enough to eat, and depriving- us of sellin*;- any extra allow- 
ance when we have it. A ration is valued at thirt>' cents, 
and by this coui-se, each one of the officers saves $1.20 per 
day, besides a ration lor his servant, making:;- ii>i.50 per 
day, amounting to the nice little sum of $45 per mondi for 
each one. Not content with this they go a little deeper. A 
rich old farmer named Black sent nine dozen of eggs and 
several pounds of butter marked especially for the privates 
of Company G. Not a private in the company got an egg, 
and only a little of the butter. Now I call that decidedly 
mean. Officers who are making $150 to $200 a month 
must cabbage the $11 privates' present. J\L H. Goold gave 
the Captain a pretty good thrust about it yesterday. The 
Captain said he thought our talk about that had better 
stop, he was getting disgusted with it. Goold told him he 
thought the Captain was not more disgusted with it than 
the rest of us, or had more reason to be. The boys of 
Girard say they have not had a cent of the money that was 
put into the officers' hands for them and cannot get postage 
stamps of them without paying ten cents for three. I can't 
tell what has become of all the money for the Springfield 
boys. There are not more than thirty in the company and 
$150 would make $5 apiece, and I can't find one who says 
he has had a dollar. I have had twenty-five cents and seven 
stamps. What has become of the money? Any talk like 
that makes the officers d — n us up hill and down. There 
will be some talk about it though, if we ever get back 
to Girard. I must close. I hope you will w^rite soon. 

Camp Wright, Htilton, Penn., 

July 14, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I spent the morning of the Fourth in writing letters. In 
the afternoon Colonel Grant read the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and Captain Porter delivered an oration to the 
soldiers and citizens in a neighboring grove, after wdiich 
we had a review^ of the four regiments and a dress parade 
and adjourned. 

Since the Fourth, there has been considerable excite- 


ment in reference to our pay. Orders to pay and counter- 
mands have been received in quick succession. Seven dif- 
ferent days have been set, on which we were to receive our 
$17.23, which, probably is all we will ever get. Payment 
is now postponed to Tuesday. Our time, as made out on 
the pay-roll, closes one week from to-day (the 21st), but I 
doubt our getting home before the ist of August. 

The latest reliable news is that we are neither in the 
United States or State service, nor ever have been, and that 
we will all have to be mustered in for three months before 
we can draw a cent of pay. This will be done to-morrow. 

The Erie Regiment is one grand fizzle out. We left 
home full of fight, earnestly desiring a chance to mingle 
with the hosts that fight under the Stars and Stripes. For 
two months we drilled steadily, patiently waiting the ex- 
pected orders which never came but to be countermanded. 
We have now come to the conclusion that wq will have no 
chance, and we are waiting in sullen silence and impa- 
tience for the expiration of our time. The State of Penn- 
sylvania cannot furnish a better regiment than ours, and 
yet, where is it? 

I try to look beyond this abuse and see a glorious govern- 
ment that must be sustained, and I feel as ready to enlist 
for the war to-day as I did on the 26th of April. I have 
written H. B. to find out what inducements there are to join 
his company. I would like to go back to old Ararat again 
and go in with him and D. T. I think if they raise any com- 
pany there at all, it will be a sterling good one. 

I am glad you write so much news when you write. 
Father's letters are just like newspaper articles. If any 
letters come there for me, please send them v/ith the least 
possible delay. 

Camp Corcoran, Arlington Heights, Va., 
Monday, Sept. ^o, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — ■ 

My soldiering now is not play, it is work. The last time 
I wrote you we were in Camp Casey, above Washington. 
Last Saturday afternoon we received orders to strike tents 


and be ready to march. We were ready in half an hour, 
and at sunset we started, no one knew where. We went 
down through the city, past the Capitol, and across the Long 
Bridge, and set our feet on the sacred soil of the ".Mother of 
Presidents." After marching about eight miles, we halted 
on a piece of rough ground, evidently a pasture, stacked our 
guns and lay down to rest. We were hungry, but we had 
nothing to eat. D., H. and I had each a blanket. We spread 
one down and the other to cover us and tried to sleep, but 
it was so cold we could not sleep much. The dew wetted 
our blankets both through, and H. was almost sick, so we 
had rather a sorry night. I rose about 4 o'clock and stood 
by the guard fire till reveille, drying our blankets. Half 
an hour after sunrise we marched about half a mile to our 
present camp. We pitched our tents and had our dinner of 
bread and raw pork at noon. I could not eat raw pork and 
dry bread at home, but a fast of twenty-four hours, a ten- 
mile march, and a bivouac at night sharpens the appetite 
wonderfully. At night we got things arranged, and had a 
good supper. Our rations are of the best quality, except 
our salt beef, which is not sweet. 

Now for our camp. W^e are on Arlington Heights, 
about four miles southwest of the Capitol. The Heights 
are ranges of hills running parallel with the river and over- 
looking the city. Fort Corcoran is about twenty rods from 
our camp, and another fort on the other side. As far as I 
can see in every direction, the white tents of our enemy dot 
every hilltop. The rebel camps are within two miles of us, 
their pickets and ours shooting each other every night. 

Our whole regiment has been changed from light in- 
fantry to a rifle regiment. We are to have the short Alinie 
rifle with sword bayonet. Our drill is changed entirely, but 
I am learning it very fast. The whole regiment is doing 
its best with the hope of soon meeting the enemy. We are 
drilling with old altered flintlocks. 

As I came out of my tent yesterday morning, what was 
my astonishment to see the Reverend Mr. Reed of Pitts- 
burgh standing before me in uniform. I looked at him and 
could hardly recognize him, but there was no mistake. He 


is the chaplain of Governor Black's regiment, twelve hun- 
dred strong. He said his regiment had gone to make a 
reconnoissance beyond Munson's Hill — that great fortifica- 
tion was taken without firing a gun, and a lot of wooden 
guns ingeniously painted showed how they were armed. 

Regiments are moving every night, and though we are 
ignorant of what is to be done, the universal impression is 
that a great battle is on the tapis. 

2 P. M. We have orders to be in readiness to march at 
a moment's notice. Forty rounds of cartridges are distrib- 
uted. Lowe's balloon is in our camp. I would write more 
but must stop for want of time. 

Address O. W. N., care Captain T. M. Austin, McLane's 
Regiment, Camp Corcoran, Washington, D. C. 

Camp Leslie, near Falls Church, 
Fairfax County, Va., Oct. 4th, 1861. 

Dear Friends at Home : — 

I last wrote from Camp Corcoran and once before from 
Camp Casey, and you see by date we have moved again. 
The Colonel here presented us to McClellan as a w^ell drilled 
regiment and asked the privilege of taking a position in the 
advance, which, I suppose, is granted. You have read of 
the taking of Hall's Hill, in the late papers. Our camp is 
riMit there on the scene of the skirmish. Falls Church lies 
at the foot of the hill, to the southwest. We came here 
Wednesday last from Fort Corcoran. Munson's, of which 
w^e have all heard so much, is two miles to our left on the 
southeast. Mr. Reed is with his regiment on the same hill ; 
the rebel pickets are about a mile from Falls Church, so you 
see we are not far from them. 

My time is so limited that you must not wait for me to 
answer each letter individually, but I must write to all at 
once and hope each \\\\\ write in return. I did not think 
you had forgotten me, but I have been five weeks from home 
and not a letter till to-day. I have been anxious to hear, 
full as much so as you, I presume. I hope you will write 
very often. The last letter I sent I did not pay t!ie post- 

age, because I could not. We cau get uu stauips here, and 
no one will take charge of postage not in stamps, so the 
letters have to be franked by the Major and sent on. I wish 
you could send a few stamps. My money is all gone, and 
although pay is due us now, I can't tell when we will get it. 

General McClellan and his staff, General McDowell, Gen- 
eral Porter, Prince de Joinville, Due de Chartres and other 
notables visited us last night. They stayed only a short 
time. I heard McClellan remark as he rode up, ''There, 
those boys haven't got their pants yet. That's a shame." 

H. and I were selected as two of twenty from the regi- 
ment to go forward and lay out this camp. Lieutenant Wil- 
son commanded. We lost our way and went some two or 
three miles to the right and beyond our camps, finally com- 
ing out right. The timber here is mostly small, scrub oaks, 
etc. In the woods near us we found any quantity of grapes 
and chinquapins (a small nut in a burr like a chestnut and 
tasting much like it). Chestnuts are ripe and plenty. 

We are in Secessia and the meanest part of it, too, and 
anything the boys can forage they consider as theirs. A 
field of potatoes, five acres, was emptied of its contents in 
short order. H. and I got enough for a mess, and some 
parsnips. You ought to see us clean out the fences. The 
rails answer first-rate to boil our rations, and they have to 
do it. The country between here and Washington is in a 
sorry condition, the fences all burnt up, the houses deserted, 
the crops annihilated, and everything showing the footprints 
of war. 

Virginia has acted meaner than South Carolina even, and 
I go for teaching her a lesson that she will remember. It 
will take years to recover from this blow. 

We are very severely drilled and are improving fast. 
W^e are ordered to shoot any one who does not halt on being 
three times ordered to do so. I was on last night, and in four 
hours I think I challenged over fifty men. Our officers take 
every way to prove and try us, to accustom us to tricks, I 

You need not envy us much our vegetables. They seem 
to be a failure. Our cooks don't know how to cook them 


and no one likes them. Persimmons are ripening now and 
they are dehcious. . . . 

Direct care Captain A., Colonel J. W. McLane's Regi- 
ment, Camp Leslie, Washington, D. C. . . . 

Camp Leslie, near Falls Church, 
Fairfax County, Va., Oct. 8, 1861. 
Friend P — s. : — 

In accordance with your expressed desire and my own 
promise, I have commenced writing to you. I intended to 
have written before, but an aversion to writing at all, which 
I have acquired in camp, is my only excuse. The incon- 
veniences, or the total want of all conveniences, makes letter- 
writing in camp a very different thing from the same at 
home. If you find my letter written with a pencil, my paper 
soiled, my pencilmanship execrable, and the whole thing mis- 
erable, please don't set me down as one who knows no better 
or cares for nothing better, but excuse me as the victim of 

You will see by the date that I am in the advance army. 
Our Colonel has recommended us to General McClellan as 
a well drilled regiment, and we have been assigned the hon- 
orable position we now^ occupy. We reached Washington 
on Thursday evening, September 19th, and encamped on 
Meridian Hill, on the north side of the city, staying there 
long enough to get our arms, equipments and part of our 
uniforms, and see some of the lions (the Capitol, Patent 
Office, Arsenal, Old Abe and family, etc.), and then we 
crossed the Long Bridge and set foot on the "sacred soil" ; 
the soil may be sacred, but we sacrilegious Yankees can't 
help observing that it is awfully deficient in manure. It is 
so poor that buckwheat or beans won't grow more than an 
inch high, and pennyroyal just sticks out. 

We camped a few days near Fort Corcoran, on Arling- 
ton Heights, and then moved on to our present position. We 
are on Hall's Hill, lately the line of the rebel pickets. We 
are in sight of Falls Church and the rebels are just beyond 


in some force. We expect to move down there this week, 
w^hen they will have to fig'ht or leave. They will probaljly 
choose the latter. 

You probably read in the papers so much of the details of 
camp life that I won't bore you by any lengthy description. 
Our regiment, I suppose, lives as all others do. Five of us 
sleep in a tent six feet by seven and keep our arms and 
accoutrements, too, in it. Our cooking is done in the open 
air, by swinging our camp kettles on poles over the fire. We 
live on salt beef, bacon, hard bread and beans. 

Oct. pth. I commenced writing yesterday, but was obliged 
to stop to attend drill, a very common incident in soldier life. 
The first thing in the morning is drill, then drill, then drill 
again. Then drill, drill, a little more drill. Then drill, and 
lastly, drill. Between drills, we drill, and sometimes stop to 
eat a little and have a roll-call. 

General McClellan and staff, the Prince de Joinville, Due 
de Chartres, General McDowell and other notables visited us 
the other afternoon. This morning eight of our company 
went out on picket. I expect to go to-morrow. We look 
on it as an honor to be selected for pickets. I saw a flake of 
snow this morning. Night before last w^e had a tremen- 
dous storm, a heavy shower accompanied by hail and a 
furious wind. ]\Iany tents were blown flat, our Lieutenant's 
among the number. We saved ours by holding it down, but 
were almost flooded out with the water. A baggage wagon, 
weighing nearly a ton, was lifted clear from the ground, and 
blown with its four horses some ten or twelve rods into the 
marsh. Our First Lieutenant w^as blown as much as twenty 
rods down into the edge of the wood before he could stop. 

W^e are soldiering in earnest now\ No Camp W^right 
work. I like it much better, and our men drill a great deal 
better when they feel that they are so near the enemy and 
see the need of improving their time. 

I have had only one letter from home since I left. I am 
expecting one now, and have been for some time. 

I do not think there will be any great battle here very 
soon, though I have no means of knowing to a certainty. 


Camp Leslie, Hall's Hill, 
Fairfax County, Va., Oct. 26, 1861. 
Friend P — s. : — 

To-day has been a great day with us. General McClel- 
lan and staff reviewed General Porter's Division, of which 
we form a part. Five brigades were reviewed. We are 
attached to General Butterfield's Brigade. Our regiment 
was ver}' highly complimented by the General, as one of the 
best, if not the best, on the field. We had a sham battle, an 
exciting time. ^ 

My health is still good. I feel the effects of severe drill 
some. It is as much as I can stand, but, while many are 
getting sick, I am all right yet. One poor fellow in our 
regiment died last night. The first one that has died since 
we left home. 

]\Iany seem to think that this war is soon to close. I am 
fully satisfied, however, that it cannot be ended without the 
emancipation proclamation, and I think that will be made 
next winter. I am in for thorough work while we're at it, 
but I shudder for the results of the continuance of the war. 

To-morrow we do guard duty. It is tiresome work. 
No sleep nights. Almost every time some fun occurs to re- 
lieve the monotony. An Irishman challenged a party the 
other night with, "Halt! Who goes there?" Ans. — "Grand 
rounds." "Och, to the divil wid yez grand rounds ; I 
thought it was the relafe guard." 

Camp Leslie, Hall's Hill, 
Fairfax Comity, Va., Oet. 2/, 186 1. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

It is a beautiful Sabbath morning and I am on guard. I 
suppose yoii are now at church, but have you thought of me . 
this morning and wondered where I was and what I was 
doing, whether I was well or sick, and how long since I 
heard from you, and when you meant to write to me again? 

Have you thought that I have been gone from home just 
two months, and, in that time, I have had just one letter 
from you ? Have those two months seemed long or short to 
you ? Have you missed my society at all in that time ? Have 


yon known how close I am to the rebel rilies, and how many 
times I have been ordered to be ready to go at a moment's 
notice, and how many nights I have slept on my gun with my 
equipments buckled on, to be ready to fall in instantly? 
Have you thought of my standing guard at night in the rain 
w^hen my clothes were soaked and my shoes full of water, 
and so tired I dare not stop walking lest I should fall 
asleep, which would be certain death? That is the way I 
live, and do you think I would like to hear from you often ? 
You used to write when I was in Camp Wright, but lately I 
get no more letters. I don't know why. Can it be that 
you have to write so many letters to C. that you have 
no time to write to me? I am not jealous, but it seems to 
me that there might be room enough in your heart for a lit- 
tle love for me, if you do love him very much. There, I 
won't write in that strain any more. I know you will write, 
and often, too. And you want to hear from me, but what 
shall I write? 

We are right here in the same camp that we have occu- 
pied for the last month nearly. We have received marching 
orders every three or four days, but they are always counter- 
manded before we start. We are drilling very severely al- 
most all the time. Two hours every morning with our knap- 
sacks on, which is very hard work, and the rest of the day 
is mostly spent in battalion and brigade drill. Every time 
we go out we have some twenty or twenty-five pounds 
weight to carry, and carrying it so long is no boy's play. 

I have not been sick but one day. I felt dizzy then and 
left the ranks. I was threatened with a fever, but I used a 
little cold water and drove it off. I am growing poor, I 
can't deny that, but still I am bony and tough. Many much 
larger men are giving out, while the small and slight ones 
endure best. H. is complaining considerable of the 
time. If he should live at home with his mother till he was 
gray, he would never be anything but a baby, but I guess 
we will break him of his notions here, partially, at least. He 
gets a letter almost every day, and isn't satisfied then. 
D. is tolerably well, though he and H., too, are 
troubled some with the prevailing disorder in camp, diar- 


rhea. I am case-hardened ; that don't affect me in the least. 
1 can eat sah horse and wormy crackers and drink swamp 
water with impunity, the only fault being it don't give 
strength enough for our severe exercise. We expect our pay 
the 1st of November, which will be soon now. 

Yesterday we had a grand review. General McClellan 
and staff reviewed General Porter's division, of which we 
form a part. Some eighteen regiments were present, be- 
sides several companies of artillery. We had breakfast at 
light, and had nothing to eat again until 4 p. m., and most 
of the time we were exercising pretty hard. I cannot tell 
you much about the parade, as the description would neces- 
sarily include many military terms which you would not 
understand. The troops were drawn up in three long lines 
and the artillery at one end of the lines. Each line wheeled 
into column and marched round in front and passed the 
general once in quick and once in double quick time, and 
the general and his staff rode along in front of, and in the 
rear of each line, each band playing as he passed its respec- 
tive regiment. The review closed with a sham battle on 
one side. Our regiment was very highly complimented by 
the general, who said it was one of the best, if not the , w 
very best, on the whole field. -}^ 

Everything is done with the strictest discipline. I cannot 
go to my quarters to-day or to-night without leave of the 
officer of the guard, nor can I take off a single article of 
clothing, but I must be here at the guard tents ready to fall in 
any time. 

Camp of the 8^rd Regiment, Penn. Volunteers, 

Hall's Hill, Va., Nov. 13, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have been sorry many times since that I wrote in the 
strain I did in my last letter, because I see by yours that it 
caused you pain. I ought not to have written so, I know, 
but that morning I sat down and wrote just as I felt. I 
could not help it. The fact is, most of the boys, when they 
write home, write in as cheerful a strain as possible, know- 
ing that their friends will magnify all their news that is at 


all unfavorable and dwell on their hardships, when it can 
do no good. I did not think that you had forgotten me and 
have not at any time, but I wanted to have you write. 

You will see by my letter to Mother that we have been 
busy lately. We have drilled a great deal, and when I 
come in from drill I feel so tired it seems as though I could 
not think clearly enough to sit down and write. We have 
achieved a great victory in a peaceful way, and I expect the 
consequence will be that we will be ordered south. If the 
southern expedition is successful it will probably be followed 
by sending an army south to follow up its success by ours, 
and a good many of the troops here will be sent off there, and 
we among the number. I shall be glad of that. I would 
rather go further south than to winter here. It has not been 
very cold here yet. To-day is uncomfortably warm. We 
are having some beautiful weather, Indian summer days, and 
clear, moonlight nights. 

Our last Sunday on guard we had a good time. One of 
the guards down by the woods heard a noise like some one 
coming through the bushes. He challenged, ''Halt! Who 
goes there?" No answer. "Halt!" again. He did not 
stop, and after challenging again, be raised his gun and fired 
at the noise. The report rang all over camp, and there was 
a crowd there soon. An awful squeal greeted his ears im- 
mediately after his fire and the guards soon found the 
secesh to be a great hog that was wandering round in the 
woods. He was not killed, but his countenance was awfully 
disfigured. He squealed his best till another load through 
his head stopped his noise. 

Three of us rigged ourselves out in our most horrible 
shape the other night when we got the countersign, and went 
over to the Michigan regiment. We approached the sen- 
tinel, when he halted us and demanded, ''Who goes there?" 
I replied in a theatrical voice, "The devil with the counter- 
sign." The poor fellow was some dashed, but he finally 
recovered and replied, "Advance, one devil, and give the 
countersign. The countersign's correct. Pass devils." To 
the next challenge I replied, "A flock of sheep." The guard 
was up to time then and immediately replied, "Advance, old 


buck, and give the countersign." We made quite a round 
and had a lot of fun and came back with something to laugh 
over. One poor fellow shot off his middle finger the other 
night. He will have a sore time of it. 

Camp of the 8^rd Peiui. Volunteers, 
Hall's Hill, Va., Friday, Nov. 15, 1861. 

Dear Friend P — s : — 

We are still rusticating in the same camp where we have 
been since the first of October. There have been no move- 
ments of importance in this part of the army since then. 
The troops have been employed very busily in the meantime 
in perfecting themselves m all the duties of the soldier. Our 
regiment has earned the reputation of being the best in Gen- 
eral Porter's division. A suit of fancy uniforms (Zouave) 
was lately presented to General P. with instructions to give 
it to the best drilled regiment in his division. A committee 
was appointed from General AlcClellan's staff who were to 
award the prize at a review of the division. Last Friday 
the trial came off. The weather was rainy and every way 
unfavorable, but some fifteen or twenty thousand troops were 
on the ground to compete for the prize. General McClellan 
said he was highly gratified with the discipline of the troops. 
He never saw better movements in his life. The committee 
were unanimous in awarding the uniform to the 83rd Regi- 
ment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. What do you think of that ? 
It is no small thing for a new regiment to beat a number of 
regiments that have been in the field all summer, and the far- 
famed "Ellsworth Avengers," but we have done it. We have 
earned a good reputation and we mean to keep it. We are 
now to have the post of honor and of danger — that of rifle 
skirmishers to be thrown out in advance of the army in ac- 
^j tion. It is expected by many that we will be sent south 
soon, to follow up the successes of the naval expedition by 
more and greater victories. At last our government has 
begun to show its hand and a policy to work with vigor. 
The papers teem with our victories in small battles, and the 
rebels are beginning to see that we have a government yet, 


a fact that they will find to their cost before we are done 
with them. 

Camp of the S^rd P. V., 
Hall's Hill, Va., Dec. 4, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have just returned from picket. Monday morning six 
companies of us started for the picket lines. Each carried 
his knapsack packed, with overcoat on top, haversack with 
two days' provisions, canteen of water, cartridge box with 
forty rounds and the ever present gun, in all about fifty 
pounds. We set out at a pace of about four miles an hour, 
over hills, down through the woods, passing the charred 
ruins of Major Nutt's residence (once a splendid establish- 
ment, but now burned to the ground), across the railroad, 
and we reached Falls Church. This is a small Virginia vil- 
lage. A few good looking houses, one church, and one 
store, a one-story building with the glass half broken out, 
and three apples, two cakes and one paper of tobacco on the 
window sill, seemed to be the stock in trade. A charcoal 
sign ''store'' over the door was all that would lead any one 
to suppose it was a mercantile establishment. We struck 
the Leesburg turnpike here, and followed it about two miles. 
W^e stopped at a secesli house. This is the first time I have 
been an actual picket, and as it may be interesting I will 
give you a short description of what we saw and did. The 
house I spoke of is owned, or was, by a man in the rebel 
army. The only occupant was an old negro slave. He was 
closely guarded by our men. I do not know why, but I sup- 
pose to prevent his master from getting any information 
from him. We were here divided into reliefs and placed 
on our posts. These are little huts made of rails and cov- 
ered with brush and leaves. During the day we kept con- 
cealed as much as possible, keeping a sharp lookout for the 
enemy, and at night we patrolled our beats, challenging every 
one who approached and demanding the mystic word that 
none but a friend can have. Last night the countersign 
was "Palo Alto," the nisfht before "Lodi." After stavinor on 


post two hours, another relief takes our place and we return 
to headquarters. 

Mr. Secesh had a large pile of brick, evidently designed 
to build him a house. We wanted to keep warm, so we 
pitched into the pile and built a lot of furnaces. We put in 
considerable fence and made good fires, and then took pos- 
session of a stack of wheat and made us good beds and 
slept well. We dug secesh potatoes to roast and popped 
secesh corn and pulled secesh cabbage. We don't care much 
for their phelinks when we get out of camp and into a 
rebel's potato-field. 

I went out yesterday to get something to eat. I stopped 
at a house near the railroad. A respectable colored woman 
with her family seemed to be the only occupants. She said 
she had some pies and cakes, and set out some for me. While 
eating I entered into conversation with her. She told me 
that she and her children (a bright looking group of five) 
were all slaves, and her master in the rebel army. Her hus- 
band was hired to the rebels as teamster and escaped at the 
battle of Bull Run and is now in the north. I asked her if 
she did not want to escape. She said she did and would 
have done so long ago, but for her children. One was a 
babe and the eldest only nine. She will be after him 
yet. I was much interested in her, so earnest and deep, she 
seemed intelligent and understood well the causes of the war. 
I need not say, she was not secesh. 

I wrote to E. last Saturday and told him we had not got 
our uniforms yet. I am happy to say that part of them have 
arrived, and the rest are coming as fast as the teams can 
bring them. I have not seen any more than I can through 
the broken sides of the boxes. Everything is complete — 
two new suits, new tents with a stove and table in each one, 
new knapsacks, canteens, haversacks, two pairs shoes, mess 
pans and a complete outfit of ever\^thing we need. This was 
sent to our government by a firm in France, as a sample of 
what they would furnish. We are anxious to have the boxes 
opened, and probably will see their contents at inspection 
next Sunday. I can then tell more about them. 



Camp of the 83d P. V., 
Hall's Hill, Va., Dec. 8th, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

To-day (Sunday) has been a beautiful day. We had in- 
spection this morning at 8 o'clock. At 10 I went to the 
colonel and got leave to go to the New York Forty-ninth. 
I found a number of friends that I had not seen for a long 
time. Nehemiah Sperry, Sherman Williams, Rollin Hart 
and a number from AJina that you do not know. You may 
blame me for going on Sunday, but remember I have no 
time beside when I can possibly go, and that I have not en- 
tered another camp, not even the Forty-fourth, within a rod 
of our own, since I have been in Virginia, and vou will not 
be surprised. 

The past week has been a week of lovely weather. Mon- 
day and Tuesday were cold, but clear, and the rest of the 
week has been mild and summer-like. 

We have had the usual amount of drill. Governor Mor- 
gan reviewed us day before yesterday. 

Our new uniforms have at last arrived. Fifteen wagons, 
with six mules to each, brought the last installment last 
night. It comes from France, even to the pins for staking 
the tents. We expect they will commence distributing them 
to-morrow. An agent of the French government is here 
and will fit each man with his uniform. We are not thought 
capable of fitting the outlandish things ourselves. He has 
measured all the officers and the measures are to be sent to 
France and exact fits made for the officers. They will ar- 
rive, he says, in less than six weeks. We are to have the 
most complete outfit ever seen in this country. Our tents 
are large enough to hold ten. A pole runs up in the center 
and a round table clasps right around it. M'e are to have 
folding chairs. Our knapsacks are a curious contrivance. 
A wooden frame is covered with calfskin with the hair on. 
This can be taken off the frame and used as a blanket to 
spread on the ground to sleep on. There are also little skir- 
mishers' tents to be carried on the march. They can be 
taken apart and carried by two men, who can put them to- 
gether and sleep in them anywhere. Our boys are over- 


joyed at their good fortune and the colonel says we will 
have to work hard to keep up our reputation. '^^ 

We are all well in our tent. Well, I say, H. is not, either. 
He is suffering from a cold. I guess he will conclude the 
best medicine is books. It is almost time for tattoo and I 
must close. 

Hall's Hill, Va., Dec. igth, 1861. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

This has been a busy week. We've been moving into our 
new tents and fixing ourselves comfortable for winter. Our 
tents are round, with two doors that can be closed tight, and 
a pole in the center with two tables, one above the other on 
the pole. We have some twelve or fourteen in ours. We 
have bunks made so that we can sleep in one-half of the 
tent, and not sleep on the ground, either. On the other side 
we have a rack for our guns, a table and a stove. Think of 
that — a stove, a little sheet iron one, with two griddles ! The 
stove and pipe cost four dollars. It warms up the tent, and 
we think it a first-rate institution. 

Our new uniforms are distributed and they improve the 
looks of the regiment wonderfully. 

Bancroft, the great historian, came to see us the other 
day. We donned our ''baglegs" and went out with the rest 
of the brigade and went through with a sham battle for his 
amusement. Martindale's brigade was out this afternoon 
doing the same thing. Infantry, cavalry and artillery were 
doing their best. The regiment of infantry were blazing 
away at each other when a squadron of cavalry dashed round 
a piece of woods and charged down on them with the wildest 
yells. Then the artillery commenced firing on them (the 
cavalry) and they gave it up, wheeled and retreated. I was 
out in the woods after brush and came across the field. 
Quite a number of carriages were up from the city and I 
saw ladies watching the sport with a good deal of interest. 
They would start at the report of the cannons and give a 
nice little city scream, as ladies will. 

I wish you could be here a few days to see the sights. 
Tt would do you so much good. I am getting some accus- 


tomed to the smell of powder. We go out every day target 
shooting, the whole regiment together. When we all get 
at it we make some noise. It would be quite a sight at home 
to see three or four hundred firing at once. 

H. is in the hospital sick with the measles. He is doing 
first-rate, but he is so babyish that he makes a laughing- 
stock of himself. I do not blame him much. Such letters 
as he gets from home from his mother and Mary, com- 
mencing, "My very dear, absent, brave, soldier boy," or 
something like that, all of the ''muzzer's pressus darlin' " 
order. He is a first-rate fellow, but I do wish he had more 
of the stiff upper lip and stoical bearing of the soldier. D. 
and myself are well. I am gaining. I weigh one hundred 
and thirty-five pounds. 

I must tell you something about our new camp, for, 
though we are on the same ground, we have altered the looks 
of it materially. Each company's tents are in a line, and 
we have good wide streets between. These are all nicely 
graded and a trench dug round each tent and on each side 
of the street. Each side is set out with pine and cedar 
trees, and many of the tents have arches and bowers of 
evergreens before the doors. At the head of each street 
a grand arch is made with the letter of the company or 
some other device suspended, all made of the evergreen 
trees and branches. Company E, in the center, has the 
widest street and a little the nicest arch, as they have the 

Company E has two side arches, for little doors, I sup- 
pose. I tell you these embellishments make our camp look 
very nice, and the streets are graded so nicely, and the 
ground in front of our camp is worn smooth and bare, so 
we have a splendid parade ground for company or battalion 

Everything looks as though we were to winter here. We 
are having delightful weather. I never saw such in Decem- 
ber. Such glorious moonlight nights. Now, don't tell, but 
I did wish I could be up in the land of snows long enough 
to have one evening's sleigh-ride, but T am content. 



Camp Porter, Hall's Hill, Va., 

Tuesday, Jan. /, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I had almost settled down to the conviction that we 
would see no fighting, that we would winter here, but at last 
we have a change. Orders have come that show we are 
to m:arch in fighting order. We have two knapsacks. In 
one we pack the things we do not need, and in the other we 
put two blankets, a change of clothes, etc. We have orders 
to hold ourselves in readiness to march at ten minutes' no- 
tice. We are ready. We have our new rifles and they are 
splendid guns. Our regiment is drilled so that we will 
throw down the glove to any regiment in the service. Gen- 
eral McClellan says we are equal in proficiency to any regu- 
lars in the army, and now he is ready. We are ready and 
we only wait the word go. Give McLane a chance and 1 
feel confident the Eighty-third will be heard from. I know 
nothing of the plans. I am only a machine and am not 
expected to know anything. The papers say we are going 
down the river to take the batteries on the shore and out- 
flank the rebels at the Junction. It may be so and it is just 
as likely to be nothing like the plan. It may be like all the 
alarms we have had before. But every one seems to think 
we are sure to go this time. IT. is not well enough to do 
full duty, but will go as a wagon guard and have his knap- 
sack carried. 

Camp of the 83rd P. V., 
Hall's Hill, Va., Jan. 14, 1862. 
Dear Friend P — s. : — 

You inquire about our probable stay here in this camp. 
I suppose you know just as much as I do about it, or at 
least I know nothing and I don't believe you know any less. 


We have orders to be in readiness to march at an hour's 
notice and have had this two weeks. Everything that we 
did not absolutely need on a march has been packed in our 
old knapsacks and sent to Georgetown. We are all ready 
and some think we will leave soon, but I am so skeptical that 
I don't believe it. I do not know as I told you that we 
had got our new rifles. They are the Alinie, the best gun 
made, and our boys are very much pleased with them. We 
are practicing at five hundred yards almost every day and 
make some good shooting. 

The Westfield cavalry is still on the other side of the 
river. I think they have not got their horses yet. Conway 
Ayres (you saw him at Ashville) has been over to see me. 
He is the adjutant. I had not heard much about their 
health. Since v/e got into our French tents we have not 
had much sickness. There is little sleeping on the ground, 
as all or nearly all have bunks made of pine poles. 

We have the most changeable weather I ever saw. On 
Sunday the air was warm as summer, and to-day we have 
two inches of snow. 

How am I enjoying myself? W^ll, as philosophically 
as I can. We have rather dull times, but evenings we write 
letters or sing, and we have started a debating society with 
considerable interest. 

H all's Hill, Fairfax County, Va., 

Friday eve., Jan. ij, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

"The long and weary months pass by" and still we camp 
in old Camp Porter, or, as it was called before our new tents 
were up, Camp Leslie. 

For several days the weather has been so stormy that 
we have had but little drill. We have had some two inches 
of snow and then rain and sleet, making everything so 
slippery that it stopped all military operations. 

You will ask what we have busied ourselves about. 
In the daytime we sit round the tents, reading, telling stories, 
grumbling about the rations, discussing the prospects of 
marching, cursing the English about the Mason and Slidell 


affair, expressing a willingness to devote our lives to 
humbling that proud nation, and talking of this, that and 
the other. Those whose tastes incline them that way are 
playing with the "spotted papers," but you will be glad to 
know that not one game of cards has been played in our 
tent since I lived in it, or in the old one, either, and more 
than that, I have not played a game since I've been in the 
U. S. service. I don't know as I am principled against 
it so much, but I don't know how to play and don't care to 
learn. 1 spend much time in waiting. The boys laugh at 
me for writing so many letters, but I think it is as good a 
way of spending time as many others. 

I have thought I would send you a present. Nothing 
less than my French comb. It is a singular thing, accord- 
ing to our notions, but I have no doubt it is a good one. Its 
value is nothing, however, except that which attaches to it 
as a soldier's comb and all the way from France. I don't 
know but some young ladies might consider it an insult for 
a young man to send them a fine comb. You can feel just 
as you please about it. 

The individual, if there be any one in the army more 
thought of than any other, the one so long waited for by 
the boys with emaciated portemonnaies, has arrived. We were 
called to sign the pay-roll about 4 p. m. yesterday, and by 
midnight seven companies were paid and the rest of us by 
9 o'clock this morning. That is rather quick work I call it. 

I little thought when I crossed the Long Bridge last 
September that I would be, so long here with no chance of 
meeting the enemy. But so it is. It seems to us very slow 
business, this crushing out the rebellion. I do not know 
but our leaders know best, but it seems to us very dull 
business, waiting for the rebels to be conquered by kind- 
ness. Our President is altogether too tender-hearted, too 
much afraid of touching the rebels in their tender spot — 
their niggers. General Sherman, whom he has sent to 
South Carolina, is such another bugaboo. He has done 
nothing except to land there. If Jim Lane had been sent 
there with permission to whip them the best he could, he 
would have had ' South Carolina used up by this time, 


Charleston and Savannah in our possession and a good foot- 
hold for our forces. But no, it would not do to go to work 
so. This is not a war against slavery, but for the Union. 
We must preserve the Union, but not touch slavery. Away 
with such nonsense, I say, and the soldiers all say so. Give 
us a haul-in-sweep of their niggers, their houses, towns, and 
everything, only conquer them quickly. 

Camp Porter^ Va.^ Jan. 28, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

I returned from the picket lines yesterday and found 
your pleasant letter of the 24th awaiting me. If you were 
in Camp Porter about 5 p. m. when that plastic individual 
that the boys call "Putty" arrives with the daily mail, and 
could see the interest with which his proceedings are watched 
as he distributes the spoils, your fears of burdening me with 
an extensive correspondence would soon vanish. I never 
thought so much of letters as I have since I have been 
here. The monotony of camp life would be almost in- 
tolerable were it not for these friendly letters. We do not 
expect much news, but they are like the delightful small- 
talk that does so much to make time pass agreeably in so- 
ciety. The worst feature of camp life is its influence iipon 
the mind and character. The physical discomfort, hard fare, 
etc., I can endure very well, but I sometimes shrink from 
the moral or immoral influences that cluster round the sol- 
dier. The severe physical exercise is so fatiguing that but 
little disposition is felt to exercise the mind in anything 
that is beneficial. Everything that requires close or long- 
continued thought is excluded from the common soldier's 
tent and he usually settles down to the conviction that all he 
needs is enough to keep himself posted in the news of the 
day and a little light reading. Thus the stronger men- 
tal faculties are unused and of course they rust. Another 
evil is the absence of all female society. The roughest char- 
acters are always to be found in the army, and, the restraint 
of home and more refined friends removed, those who are 
better disposed are exposed to the influence of such charac- 
ters without remedy. Our associations go far to mould our 


characters, and as a constant dropping wears away the stone, 
this influence must have its effect. The cultivation of the 
finer feelings of the heart is neglected and they too are not 
developed. The pure and elevating influence of music is lost. 
I am passionately fond of music (although a poor singer) 
and I miss this as much as any one thing. The music of 
the field is the fife and drum or the brass band, and the 
songs sung in camp are not at all remarkable for beauty or 

With all these drawbacks there are many pleasant times 
in the soldier's life. One of these is when he is the recipient 
of letters like yours ; they speak to him in louder tones than 
those of the press or pulpit and bid him resist these evil 
influences and keep himself pure ; they atone in a measure 
for the absence of friends and remind us that they are watch- 
ing to see if we do our duty, and feel interested m our wel- 
fare. You need never fear burdening me with letters. 

I fear that, if all the guide you had was my most 
graphic description of myself, I might pass you in Broadway 
ten times a day without recognition. I might say, however, 
that I am of the ''tall and slender" order. Five feet nine 
is about my height, and one hundred and thirty-five pounds 
my weight. I am set down in the army description book as 
having brown hair and blue eyes, and, I might add, of very 
ordinary appearance. 

I see you are a thorough abolitionist. I am glad of it. 
I thought I hated slavery as much as possible before I came 
here, but here, where I can see some of its workings, I am 
more than ever convinced of the cruelty and inhumanity of 
the system. It has not one redeeming feature. I was on 
picket duty last Sunday and some seven of us went out a 
mile or so beyond the lines on a little scouting party. I 
stopped at a little cabin near the Leesburg turnpike to get 
some dinner. I found an intelligent and cleanly mulatto 
woman in the house, surrounded by quite a number of 
bright little children. She promised me the best she had, 
and while she was preparing some hoecake and bacon, I 
entered into conversation with her and she was quite com- 
municative. She was a slave, she said, so was her husband 


and the children. Her master was in the rebel army and 
she was left in charge of her mistress, who lived in a respec- 
table house across the way. Her husband had been taken 
about a month ago to work on the fortifications at Leesburg. 
He had, at first, refused to go with his master and was most 
brutally beaten. She showed me the post where he was 
tied up and told the story with an earnestness that nothing 
but actual experience can give. I talked long with her and 
told her I hoped this war would result in giving her and all 
of her class their freedom. "I hope so, Massa," said she, 
*'but I dunno, I dunno." I had a little Sunday-school 
paper that I took out with me from camp. I read some of 
the stories to the children and gave them the paper. How 
their eyes sparkled as they saw the pictures ! But the 
reading was Greek to them. The mother said: '*! would 
study ten years if I could read like you, Massa ; a black 
woman taught me some letters, but Massa Blaisdell took 
my spellin' book away and whipped me and he said 'larnin' 
wasn't for niggers.' " This is "the land of the free and the 
home of the brave." 

We are still at Hall's Hill, and as far as 1 can see likely 
to stay here. No movement can be made while the roads 
are in such a state. 

Hall's Hill, Va., Jan. 29, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I suppose I might relieve your fears about my being 
killed or wounded at that great battle when I tell you that 
we are still here and likely to stay till spring. It is true 
we had marching orders, or orders to be ready to march at 
any time, but I do not now believe it was ever intended we 
should go. This large army is lying here, and, if there were 
nothing to keep up the excitement, they would soon become 
demoralized and care nothing for drill or discipline, expect- 
ing that they w^ould have no use for it. So every little while 
they get up some marching orders or something of the kind 
to keep the men on the qui viz'c, always expecting some 
great thing that never comes. It is just so when we go on 
picket. The first time I was out, the officer told us that 


two men had deserted from a regiment down near Alexan- 
dria and they would probably try to cross the picket lines and 
get over to the rebels, and they wanted us to be very vigilant 
and arrest them if they came near us. Now I cannot cer- 
tainly say that no such men deserted, but I will say that I 
believe it was just a story trumped up to make us watchful. 
Another time they told us that a large force of rebels had 
been seen near the lines and they expected an attack in the 
night. It seems to be a part of the tactics to use such 
means to keep up the spirits of the men, constantly holding 
out hopes that never are to be realized. I have got so case- 
hardened by such treatment that I will not believe anything 
until I see it with my own eyes. I did think when we had 
our marching orders about New Year's that something was 
to be done. Officers packed up their extra baggage and sent 
it oi¥ and everybody seemed in a bustle of preparation to 
leave. Well, they have kept it up about a month and noth- 
ing done yet, so I begin to believe that this is another sell. 
They found it would not work to humbug the men alone, so, 
as a last resort, they have to bring in the officers. They 
can make that work two or three months, but I believe that 
will "play out" in time. I know it has with me now. I 
suppose the battle you refer to was that of Somerset, in 
Kentucky, but that is a long way from here. That battle 
was a hard blow to secession, and I hope it will be followed 
by others. 

Camp of the 83rd P. V., 
HalVs Hill, Va., Feb. 3, 1862. 
Dear Friend P — s. : — 

It is just such a morning as would make a misanthrope 
happy. Byron's bitterest and most sarcastic strains were, 
I believe, written in just such weather. It snowed last night 
and rains this morning and now two or three inches of slush 
cover unfathomable mud. Great black clouds roll up heavily 
from the west and slowly drizzle down discomfort in the 
camps. The evergreens that made our camp look so bright 
and homelike about the holidays are giving way under the 
abuse heaped upon them and now they stand leaning at every 
angle but that .of 90 degrees, covered with ice and weeping 


great pearly tears of grief at their cruel treatment. The 
smoke curls slowly from the myriad pipes of the camp and 
makes a desperate effort to rise above the tents, then sinks 
despairingly to the ground. The cooks stir up their sput- 
tering lires in vain eft'orts to make their kettles boil, and, 
as the rain drips off their ponchos, they look as if they would 
cook one more meal and die. I have been lounging on 
my bunk since breakfast, drawing the Spanish out of my 
cigar and working oft' the fatigue of yesterday's guard duty, 
and now I have taken up my pen to answer your letter of the 
24th of January. What I shall write, I can't tell. There is 
no news beyond what you have in the papers. "All is quiet 
along the Potomac." Our marching orders are "played 
out." The boys are getting so that they won't believe any- 
thing now. They sit around the fire and while away these 
dull days the best they can. How time does pass away, 
though ! Here it is the 3rd of February. Seems to me I 
never knew a winter to pass so quickly. 

Camp Porter, Feb. 8, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

"All quiet along the Potomac" has become a by-word, it 
is used so often. Nothing stirring. Mud is triumphant 
and all business except guard and picket duty is suspended, 
unless I should mention a little target practice. Last night 
just after roll-call w^e heard tremendous cheers up at the 
right of the regmient. Company after company seemed to 
vie with each other to see which could cheer loudest. Fin- 
ally, when half our boys had got to bed, the orderly came 
into the street with "Fall in, Company K, fall in." Out they 
tumbled and into line, when Captain A. said the general 
had just received a dispatch containing such good news that 
he had sent his orderly down to read it to the boys. He 
read a telegram stating that a fleet of gun-boats had gone up 
the Tennessee river, bombarded and taken the rebel Fort 
Henry and captured General Floyd, Tilghman and staff, 
twenty cannons and sixty prisoners. Captain A. proposed 
nine cheers for the Union victory. They were given and 
the Zouave tiger to close on. Every one thought that the 
ex-Secretary Floyd had been taken, but this morning's papers 


disclose a cruel sell. Instead of Generals Floyd and Tilgh- 
man, it was General Lloyd Tilghman, commandant of the 
fort, who was captured. It was a great victory for us, but 
we were very much disappointed after all. There is no 
other man whom I would be so much pleased to have taken 
as that "thafe o' the wurreld' Floyd. Jeff Davis wouldn't 

General Porter commands our division, containing twelve 
regiments or three brigades, thus : 



Sixty-second Pennsylvania, Colonel Black. 
Ninth iNIassachusetts, Colonel Cass. 

Fourteenth New York, Colonel . 

Fourth Michigan, Colonel . 


Twenty-fifth New York, Colonel Kerrigan. 

Second Maine, Colonel •. 

Twenty-second Massachusetts, Colonel Henry Wilson. 
Eighteenth Massachusetts, Colonel Lee. 


Sixteenth Michigan, Colonel T. B. W. Stockton. 
Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel John W. ^IcLane. 
Forty-fourth New York, Colonel Stryker. 
Seventeenth New York, Colonel Lansing. 


Sprague's Rhode Island Battery. 
Griffin's Battery D, Fifth United States. 
Follett's Battery. 


Averill's Regiment. 
Gorham's Regiment. 
Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment. 
Third Pennsylvania Regiment. 


This is the force under Porter; quite a Httle army in 
itself. The Massachusetts troops are fine fellows, three 
regiments in the division. The "Farmers Regiment' raised 
by Senator Wilson is among them. He (Senator Wilson) 
is not the acting colonel at present, however, having re- 
turned to the Senate. The Ninth Massachusetts are mostly 
Irish Catholics. They will fight, I think, like the old Sixty- 
ninth New York at Bull Run. The Twenty-fifth New York 
is composed of New York roughs, Bowery boys, "Dead 
Rabbits," etc. Their colonel has been court-martialed on 
charge of treason, communicating with the enemy, drunk- 
enness, etc. He is deprived of his command. They seem to 
keep to themselves and have nothing to do with any other 
regiment. I never saw but one of them in our camp. The 
Sixty-second Pennsylvania was raised at Pittsburg and is 
twelve hundred strong, commanded by ex- Governor Black 
of Nebraska, formerly of Pittsburg. The Forty-fourth 
New York (the Ellsworths) you have heard enough of them 
to know them by this time — their camp is next to ours, 
and the two regiments are as united in feeling and every- 
thing as brothers. We are like one great regiment. The 
Seventeenth New York in our brigade seems to have a 
grudge against both of us. 

Camp Porter, Virginia, 
Tuesday, Feb. ii, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

"Norton, 'Putty' has brought you a valentine this time, 
ril warrant," said one of my messmates, as I entered the 
tent last night and flung down my axe ( I had been out on 
fatigue duty all day, making a government road to Wash- 
ington, for the old roads are impassable on account of the 
mud). "Well, let me look at it," said I, and he handed 
me your letter of the 7th. It was not a valentine, but it 
pleased me much more than one of those sentimental things 
would have done. 

I presume I do have considerable more time for writing 
than you do, but your remark about your household cares, 
etc., made me think of what Mother often says: if she had 
only one or two children to care for she might have a little 


time to herself. I see that any one who has a faniily to care 
for has enough to do to be constantly busy. From morning 
till night there is always something to do. I have com- 
menced writing, but that ever recurring question comes 
again, ''What shall I write"? It seems to the soldier when 
he takes up the pen as though there was nothing to write 
unless he has something to tell of gallant exploits in his own 
occupation, a brilliant victory over superior numbers of the 
enemy, in which he was one of the heroes. With something 
like that for a text he can write. Pages of foolscap are far 
too small to contain all he has to relate to his friends then, 
but, ah me, I've no such resource. A man is not a hero till 
he is shot at and missed. He who is shot at and killed is 
covered with the sod and forgotten by all but the narrow cir- 
cle of his immediate friends. His name is once seen in the 
list of killed at the great victory, but lightly passed over, 
while the readers turn to honor the heroes who participated 
in the victory but were shot at and missed. 

You want to know something of our ''arrangements, 
beds, meals, etc." I might describe the interior of our tent 
in my poor way, and that will serve as a specimen of the 
whole, though each mess arranges its own tent in any way 
to suit the members. We have the large round tent, about 
eighteen feet across the bottom and tapering to a point at 
the top. A round pole in the center supports it, and, on 
this pole, two tables are suspended by ropes, one above the 
other, and so arranged that we can lower them to use as 
tables or raise them up above our heads. As to beds, we 
have every style and form that never were seen in a cab- 
inet shop. We used to sleep on the ground or on pine 
boughs when we had the small or wedge tents, but when we 
obtained these we concluded to be a little more extravagant. 
Lumber in Virginia is out of the question. A very patriotic 
Union man about two miles from here refused to sell me 
a couple of fence boards six inches wide for $1.50, so I 
made up my mind to be my own saw-mill. At the time 
we encamped here, there were hundreds of acres of worn-out 
tobacco lands grown up with small pines in the neighbor- 
hood. They grow very close together, slim and straight. 


''Necessity is tlic mother of invention," says the old adage, 
and so it proved with us. We cut down any number of the 
poles, peeled the bark, got a few pounds of nails at the 
sutler's and made our bedsteads, or bunks, we call them. 
They are like berths in a steamer, one above another, room 
for tw^o above and two below, and for another back under 
the side of the tent. This, for one side of the tent, accom- 
modates six men ; another like it on the other side, six more. 
For the "mattress," or "dowmy bed," we hewed the poles 
flat and rather thin so they spring some and laid them 
side by side as close as possible. At night we spread our 
overcoats on the poles, take our knapsacks for pillows, and, 
covering ourselves with our blankets we enjov such sleep 
as many a one w-ho rests in the most luxurious bed might 
envy. Our robe dc unit is very simple, merely our every 
day dress, minus cap and boots. Aly rifle and cartridge box 
hang by my side, my cap lies on my knapsack, and my boots 
stand on the ground within my reach every time I sleep, 
so that, if the long roll beats, I can be with the company in 
line of battle in two minutes. We retire early, not so much 
from choice as necessity. At 9 o'clock the "taps" are beaten 
and all lights must be extinguished. It is rather uninterest- 
ing sitting in the dark, so that hour generally finds us "coiled 
up," as the boys express it. At daylight the "reveille" is 
sounded, the men turn out and the roll is called. Soon after 
breakfast is ready, consisting of bread, meat (pork, bacon 
or beef) and coffee. We now^ have our soft bread baked in 
the regiment, but we have eaten a great many of the crack- 
ers, or pilot bread, as it is called. Some of this was good, 
but the greater part very poor, moldy, w^ormy, and made 
of poor flour, etc. Several barrels had crackers stamped 
"T. Weld & Co., Boston, 1810"; Company I say they had a 
barrel marked "B. C. 97." I don't know whether the crack- 
ers or the barrel was made before Christ, but I think it 
must have been the barrel. We finally concluded that fresh 
bread, although lacking so many rom.antic associations, 
would be more nutritious, so we brought in a fine lot of 
brick that a seccsh had provided to build for himself a fine 
house, made some splendid ovens, and now we have good 


bread. We have a little sheet-iron stove in our tent that 
does very well when it is not too cold, and we can cook a 
good many little extras, stew dried fruit, etc., and we man- 
age to live quite comfortably.^ The paper you sent I have 
not received. It will probably arrive to-night. We have a 
great many papers. The W'ashington papers are here be- 
fore breakfast every morning, the New York papers, 
''Erald," Tribune and Times, the day after they are pub- 
lished ; Baltimore and Philadelphia papers the same day, and 
then we have Frank Leslie's, Harper's Weekly, Illustrated 
News and Forney's W^ar Press. Friends at home send us 
the Independent and the Evangelist, the Advocate, the Guar- 
dian, etc., so that generally we are well supplied, but we 
devour papers with a rapidity that would astonish them 
that have less leisure time. 

Last night a man died at the hospital. I can hear the 
band as they are paying their last respects to his remains. 
We have lost but one from our company. Poor Pickard 
died at the hospital in the latter part of January. I have 
sometimes thought that I could die on the battlefield and be 
content, but to die in a military hospital, away from my dear- 
est friends, with only the rough hand of a fellow soldier to 
close my eyes to their last sleep, would be hard to bear. It 
was a gloomy day when we buried Pickard. Great piles of 
black clouds came rolling up from the west, and now and 
then a flake of snow came sailing down, mingling with the 
dead leaves as they went whirling over the frozen ground 
till they dropped together into some hollow to lie and be 
forgotten. I was one of the eight selected as the escort for 
the body, and I was much impressed with the solemnity and 
beauty of the military burial. The procession was formed 
at the hospital, the escort first with arms reversed, the pall- 
bearers with the body, the chaplain, the band, and the com- 
pany and friends of the dead. The band played a beautiful 
but mournful dirge, and we moved slowly to the grave. We 
buried him under a large oak tree on an eminence overlook- 
ing a wide prospect of this once beautiful country. Ar- 
rived at the grave, the coffin was set down and the chaplain 
read the beautiful burial service and the body was lowered 


to its last rest. We tired three volleys over the grave, the 
drums meanwhile beating" a low muffled roll, and then we 
turned back to camp. Thus rests on the soil of the "Old 
Dominion" a hum1)le, honest man and a good soldier. 
Half a dozen miles off sleep the ashes of the "l^'alher of his 
Country." The world admires and honors him, and weeps 
over his grave, and yet, who can say that Adam Pickard, 
in his humble sphere, did not his duty to his country as 
w^ell as the immortal Washington? He left his wife and 
little children when his country needed him, and now his 
wife is left a widow and his children fatherless. It was a 
stern fate, but he looked it sternly in the face and died like a 
true soldier, leaving his family to God and giving his life 
to his country. 

Hall's Hill, Va., Feb. 21, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — • 

W^e have most glorious news every day. Fort Henry is 
taken, and immediately followed by the surrender of Roan- 
oke Island. We haven't done cheering over that victory, 
before we hear of another and greater, the fall of Fort Don- 
elson and the capture of fifteen thousand rebels. Right on 
the heels of this comes the evacuation of Bowling Green, 
defeat of the rebel cavalry near Winchester, and last the 
capture of Price and his army in Missouri. AVe have also 
a report of the surrender of Savannah without firing a gun. 
This came from the rebels, and, as they have prohibited the 
passage of any more news from Norfolk, I am inclined to 
think there's something in it. We will soon hear direct from 
the fleet. The rebels are beginning to feel heartily sick 
of their madness, if we may judge by their acts. We hear 
that Vice President Stephens has resigned and advised the 
rebels to lay down their arms and surrender. Governor 
Letcher has done the same. The rebels are evacuating Co- 
lumbus to escape the fate of their friends in Fort Donelson, 
and to-day's Press says that they are leaving Centreville and 
Alanassas to protect Richmond. If this is true we may be 
following them up in a very short time and completely whip 


them by the middle of JNEarch. Things certainly look brighter 
every day. The boys are already talking of what they'll 
er every day. The boys are already talking of what thev'll 
do when they get home. I think I shall go home by way of 
New York and stop there for a short visit, and perhaps call 
at Ararat. What do you think of that for counting chickens 
before the process of incubation is completed ? 

It's a pleasant day and the "old tiger'' has got the 
battalion putting them through the tallest kind of double 
quick steps. A somewhat distinguished ( in his line) votary 
of Terpsichore said to me the other day, "T always liked a 
quick step, but hang your double quick. Single quick is fast 

enough for me." 

Dear Cousin L. 

Camp of the Penii. Mndturtles, 
Hairs Hill, Va., Feb. 27, 1862. 

Your letter came last night and with it rain and marching 
orders. I had just read it and the rain had just commenced 
drumming on our cotton houses, when a drum of another 
sort called the orderlies to headquarters and they soon re- 
turned with orders to pack up every thing and be ready to 
march at a moment's notice. This was welcome news, 
though the style the weather put on was not so welcome. 
We packed up everything and lay down on the bare poles 
to wait the moment's notice. The rain continued through 
the night and we were not called out. This morning two 
days' rations were issued and the orders repeated to be ready 
to move at any moment. I improve the time while we are 
waiting to answer your letter. You will excuse my writing 
with a pencil, as my portfolio and writing materials with 
your letter are in my knapsack under a pile that I dare not 
undertake to repack at a "moment's notice.'' I stepped out 
into the street this morning and one of the boys who stood 
there said to me: "Norton, there's something on my back; 
brush it off." I looked, and what do you think it was? 
"Couldn't imagine." He had his knapsack packed and on 
the outside two woolen blankets, one rubber ditto, one picket 


tent, pole and ropes, overcoat, pair of boots, haversack with 
two days' provisions (Hardees and tiger), canteen with 
two quarts of coffee, cartridge box with forty rounds and a 
thirteen-pound rifle. I can only say I didn't attempt to 
brush it oft", but went back to my tent and found the same 
thing ready for my back with a bugle for a balance weight. 
All the regiments in the vicinity have the same orders, and 
last night the cook-fires on all the hills in sight were splut- 
tering in the rain all night, cooking the rations. 

There are many speculations as to where we are going. 
Some say a general advance is to be made on Centreville and 
Manassas, some that nothing more is contemplated than 
moving the camps a few miles further to better situations, 
others that the division is to go via Washington and Balti- 
more to Harper's Ferry. My own opinion is different from 
all these. I think we are going to — stay here. Cotton has 
abdicated, corn never \vas much of an absolute monarch, but 
"King Mud" is king yet. We have had two days this week 
of drying weather. One, Monday, I think, we had a gale, 
a very severe one, t^at dried up the mud considerably. It 
was the strongest wind we've had in Virginia since I've 
been here. It blew down a great many tents in all the regi- 
ments. Ours are so large and well staked down that only 
six or eight blew down, but in the Michigan and the Ells- 
w^orth regiments some companies had not a tent left stand- 
ing. I was over in the Forty-fourth New York when the gale 
commenced and tents began to fly about. I saw one whisked 
off the foundation and blown into the next street, carrying 
wdth it three guns, coats, caps, bottles, etc., and as it struck 
a watch bounded out and dropped in the mud. The jewelry 
had a perilous voyage, but w^asn't injured. In another tent 
the boys had dug a basement and fixed it up very nicely. 
They were busy at a game of cards w^hen the wind unroofed 
their cave. Nothing disconcerted, they kept on, saying, 
"Let her go, we won't stop for a little wdnd — it's nothing to 
the lakes." 

I see L. must have told you of her expected marriage. 
I can tell you but little of her intended. He is a farmer, 
and, from what I have seen of him, I think him a fine young 


man and I think you would like him, at least in one respect, 
he don't use tobacco. He tried a cigar with me once, 
smoked an inch of it, and, wise young man, his sensations 
requested a discontinuance of the operation. I'm sorry you 
feel so bad about my smoking. I think, after you had 
spent a night or two on picket and saw the comfort the 
soldiers draw from a pipe or cigar as they sit round the 
fire, you would say, "I forgive you — smoke, at least while 
you are in the army." 

I received the Atlantics you sent. I was very much inter- 
ested in reading them. I like the character of that maga^ 
zine better than any other I am acquainted with. My\ 
friends in the tent unite with me in thanking you, for every-' 
thing of the kind has to go the rounds, you know. There 
hasn't been an hour in the day since they came but some one 
has been reading them. 

You inquire what delicacies I am most in need of and 
speak of sending me a box. I hardly know what to say. 
I have become so used to a soldier's fare that I do not need 
anv delicacies. \\'e have a nuisance in every^ regiment 
called a sutler, who generally has a supply of knick-knacks 
ready for us for a consideration, and when we tire of hog, 
hominv and hardees, we get a little something of him to 
make our rations relish. A good many of our boys have 
received boxes from home, but they generally came from 
farmers and contained butter, cheese, dried fruits, pickles, 
etc., that cost them little and were very welcome in camp. 
In New York every such thing must be bought and at high 
prices, too. I have done very well so far without them, 
and l' should not like to have you go to much trouble or 
expense on my account. If you do have a few things that 
you want to send, I suppose if sent by express to the same 
address as my letters, they would come to me all right, as 
boxes are brought up almost every day by our teams from 
that office. 

2 p. 3/._We haven't marched yet, and are still expect- 
ing orders at a "moment's notice." 

If there are any questions I have not answered please ex- 
cuse me, as I have your letter packed up. 


Camp of the Ssrd P. V., 
Secesh, I 'a., March ^, 1862. 
Dear Friend P — s. : — 

I received your letter of the 24th ult. last night. We 
are still here on Hall's Hill with no prospect that 1 can see 
of leaving very soon. To he sure we have marching orders 
occasionally, were under orders last week. Thev kept us 
two or three days with everything in readiness to leave at 
a moment's notice and turned us out into ranks several times, 
but the whole thing hashed in the pan, as it always does. I 
think the spring will find us here. It does not seem to be 
any part of the plan to attack the rebels at Manassas till 
they are forced to abandon their position, partially, at least, 
by some other portion of our forces. The intention may be 
to turn their left flank and so get in their rear. General 
Banks made a movement looking towards that last week, 
by taking his division across the river at Harper's Ferry. 
He met no opposition, though report says the rebels imme- 
diafely concentrated a large force at Winchester, their ex- 
treme left position, evidently to prevent his turning their 
flank. Everything is managed so secretly now it is impos- 
sible to tell what will be done two days in advance. 

The weather is so extremely changeable that no reliance 
can be placed on its favorableness till spring is fairly open. 
For example, Sunday morning was clear and warm, at noon 
it rained, before night we had five inches of snow, during the 
night it rained and in the morning it was all slush, before 
noon the snow was all gone and last night it rained in 
torrents, washing great gullies in the streets. This morn- 
ing it was frozen as hard as a stone and the sun is shining 
clear again. Now in such weather an army cannot move, 
the roads are so bad that artillery and baggage cannot be 
transported and we are forced to wait for better weather. 
In the west the army is doing wonders. Every day we re- 
ceive news of the success of our arms and the total defeat 
of the rebels. While things work as well as they are doing 
now I am content to wait in patience the time for us to do 
our share in crushing the rebellion. I know the North is 
impatient and wondering why the Army of the Potomac 



don't move. It's just because we are to have no more Bull 
Runs. The time has not come yet, but when it does, I am 
convinced that the boys here will show as good fighting 
qualities as our western army. The fight at Dranesville, 
though but little was said of it in the papers, showed what 
stuff our boys are made of. They seem to care nothing for 
the rebels, but are ready to pitch into any number who show 

HalVs Hill, Va., March 6, 1862. 
Dear E. :— 

As far as advice is concerned about what you are to do 
in the future I do not know as I can give any. Mother's 
idea of your learning a trade depends upon just what you 
intend to do through life. A blacksmith's trade is a very 
good one if well followed, and, if you ever intend to be a 
blacksmith, now is the best time for you to commence. By 
the time you are of age you will have a good capital to begin 
with, for I consider almost any business well mastered a 
capital. You can earn a good living and make property, too, 
always provided your heart is in it and you like the business. 
If you ever intend to learn any trade, now is just the time 
for' you to begin. Your education is sufficiently advanced 
for the purpose, and it need not entirely stop on account of 
your having steady employment. On the other hand, if you 
have determined to adopt one of the professions and feel that 
you can succeed, and have made up your mind just wdiat you 
will do and how you will do it, I say go ahead and do it. 
My advice is — determine now what you will follow through 
life and then shape your conduct accordingly. You doubt- 
less have the idea that a good education is of great advantage 
to a man in anv business. This is true, but you and I have 
to depend upon ourselves without help from relatives and 
commence life immediately on coming of age. We must 
look this fact squarely in the face and act accordingly. Now, 
if you mean by getting an education, completing a college 
course, how are you to do it ? You can get along by work- 
ing on a farm part of the time and fit yourself to enter col- 
lege. Then vou must have five or six hundred dollars to 


take you through and i^raduate. Then you are ready to 
commence the practice of your profession. You have years 
of patient industry after you begin, before you attain a prof- 
itable business. Now after you are fitted for college you 
have the means to earn to take you through. Look at 
that and meet it squarely. If you have health, patience, 
perseverance and firm self-reliance, you may accomplish it 
and obtain a good profession. On the other hand, if you 
learn a trade, you may be settled comfortably in life in a 
few years. But, if you adopt a business against your will, 
ten chances to one you will be unsuccessful. So if you de- 
cide on a trade pitch into it heart and soul and you may suc- 
ceed. You say Father does not favor your learning a trade. 
Well, what does he advise ? To get an education ? Yes, but 
for what? What kind of an education, for that's the ques- 
tion ? At the best he can assist you but a year or two longer, 
and he can scarcely do that. Now my opinion is that the 
best assistance he can give you is to help you fix your choice 
on some calling and then take the proper steps to secure 
success in that calling. You have the material in you for a 
first-class man, and I hope you will prove yourself to be one. 
Prove yourself to have one of the first qualities of such a 
man — decision of character — by marking out your path and 
then steadily following it. It is just the turning point of 
life with you, and I know just about how you feel. You 
look away down into the dim future of coming years and 
imagine vourself a man, a prosperous business in your hands, 
a splendid home, a good wife, and yourself rich and respect- 
ed. Such is your ideal. It lies within your reach, but it 
will never come by your wishing for it. You must grow 
into it. You cannot begin too soon to select your road to it. 
There are many roads, but you can travel but one, and the 
sooner you set out the sooner you will reach the goal. I 
cannot advise you which to take, but only say take some one 
and act the man in your choice, show that you have judg- 
ment like a man and look at all sides of the question. Per- 
haps I have now written more than enough on this subject, 
but I see it is occupying your thoughts, and, as you asked my 
advice, you have it for what it is worth. 


Alexandria, Va., March ij, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — • 

The "grand army" has at last moved. Our brigade left' 
Hall's Hill at daylight last Monday morning and marched 
to Fairfax Court House. The whole army advanced the 
same day. On arriving at Fairfax we heard that our cav- 
alry had been to JManassas Junction and found it evacuated 
and the barracks of the rebel army a mass of smoking ruins. 
The three terrible forts at Centreville were mounted with 
pine cannon and sheet iron mortars, so the great Manassas 
humbug is exploded. "Now what is to be done?" was the 
question we asked as soon as it was satisfactorily ascer- 
tained that these reports were true. 

We rested at Fairfax, waiting for another rainy day, 
which did not come till Saturday. Then we marched to 
Alexandria. Our regiment has never moved yet without 
marching in the rain. It commenced raining just as we 
marched out of camp on Monday and rained till we halted 
at Fairfax. We had a hard march. After we had gone 
some three or four miles the men began to throw oi¥ blan- 
kets, coats and knapsacks, and towards night the road was 
strewed with them. I saw men fall down who could not 
rise without help. The rain soaked everything woolen full 
of water and made our loads almost mule loads. As for 
myself, I stood it well, at least as well as any, but I never 
was so tired before. I am acting as regimental bugler, but 
I could not blow a note when we stopped at night. We 
pitched our picket tents which we carry with us on the 
ground lately occupied by a seccsli regiment. We built 
fires, boiled our cofifee and roasted our bacon and then lay 
down on the ground to sleep. Oh, how wx slept ! The 
reveille at sunrise woke us, stifif and lame, but the sun 
came up warm and clear and a couple of days rest made us 
all right. Then on Saturday we were ordered to Alexan- 
dria. We marched eighteen miles, every step in the rain, 
but we had a good road and the men stood it much better 
than they did the other march. We halted at the camp of 
the Irish brigade under command of General T F. Meagher. 
They had gone to Centreville and we took possession of their 


camp and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. I was 
fortunate enough to get into a line officer's tent. There 
were ten of us in a tent designed for one, but we built a 
fire, made coffee, swept off the floor and "coiled up" for 
the night. Oh, how we did steam ! It was better than any 
sweat ever advocated by hydropaths. This morning we had 
to leave, as the Sixty-ninth was coming l)ack to camp. We 
moved over on a hillside near Fort Ellsworth, and about half 
a mile from the river and the same from Alexandria. 

General AIcDowell's corps, comprising his own and 
Generals McCall's, Smith's and Porter's divisions, in all 
about sixty thousand men, are here waiting for transports 
to take us ofif on another expedition. The destination is of 
course unknown to us, but we shall in all probability be 
sent against what remains of the rebel army between here 
and Richmond. There were one hundred and fifty vessels 
here yesterday, and troops embarking all the time. I think 
our time will not come for two or three days at least. 

This is naturally a beautiful country, but either the war 
has made sad havoc here or the few inhabitants are greatly 
deficient in enterprise, for it looks almost like a desert now. 
There are a few splendid buildings here, but the majority 
are miserable huts. I called yesterday at the house of a 
northern man who had married a southern wife and 
adopted southern institutions. He had a good farm and 
excellent buildings all under the protection of the govern- 
ment. He has proved a loyal citizen, although a slave- 
holder, but his wife and daughter are rabid secesh. The 
daughter is a fine looking young woman, about twenty, 1 
should think, and quite sociable. She commenced conver- 
sation by inquiring if I thought it was right to try to 
force the South to remain in the Union against their will. 
Of course I did, you know, and I was obUged to say so. 
She waxed quite warm in the defense of the rebels, but fin- 
ally stopped by remarking abruptly that we had better 
change the subject, as we were friends now but would not 
be if we continued to talk about the war. She was in the 
Mansion House where Ellsworth was shot at the time of 
his death, and said, "He ought to have been shot, for he had 


no business to meddle with a fiag that a man put on his own 
dwehing." It amused me to see a woman so gritty, but, if 
she does nothing but talk, I suppose she must be allowed to 
do that. She was very different from one I met when I 
was on picket duty in January. She was born in New 
York, but had lived here so long it seemed like her home. 
She, too, was very sociable and seemed to think there might 
be soldiers who were not ruffians. I believe you asked in a 
former letter if the government furnished postage or sta- 
tionery. It does not. We furnish our own, and '^it is often 
hard to get. We're not much troubled with peddlers now, 
for we have not received any pay since December 31st, and 
money is too scarce to offer inducements to that gentry. 

Hampton, Va., March 26, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I received your letter of the i6th at Alexandria, but there 
has been no opportunity to send letters till now. 

We have had so much of the checkered experience of 
life in the field that I cannot write the tenth part of what 
I could tell you if I could have a talk with you, but, as it is, 
I don't know as I couM do better than to write a few ex- 
tracts from my diary: ''Friday, March 21st, Porter's di- 
vision embarked at Alexandria on board a fleet of thirty 
steamers and transports. Saturday, 22nd, got under way 
at 12 m. and steamed down the Potomac. Passed Mount Ver- 
non at I p. m. ; had a good view of all the rebel batteries 
on the Virginia side; slept on deck under our little tents; 
woke in the morning in a puddle of water that ran down the 
deck. Sunday, 23rd: Had a splendid ride down Chesapeake 
Bay, and arrived at Fortress Monroe at 4 p. m. ; anchored 
in Hampton Roads alongside the Monitor and opposite the 
country residence of ex-President Tyler. A French man- 
of-war lay near by and our band entertained the messieurs 
with the "Marseillaise," and afterward with schottisches, 
polkas, cotillions, etc., the marines dancing to the music 
on their quarter-deck. 

Monday, 24th : Undertook to land, but the Columbia 
ran aground and the Nantasket took off four companies. 


We then got off at Hampton landing, marched through 
the ruined vihage of Hampton and bivouacked in the fields 
southwest of the town. 1 saw the walls of the old stone 
church in which Washington used to worship. It was 
burned with the town, by Magruder. Hampton was a beau- 
tiful old town built almost wholly of brick and stone, but 
it looks now like the pictures of ancient ruins. 

Tuesday, 2^th : Broke camp at 8 a. m. and took the 
road to Great Bethel. After marching about four miles, 
our advance skirmishers reported that the rebels were posted 
two miles ahead in force that it w^ould not be prudent for 
us to meet. We then turned into the pine woods west of 
the road and pitched our bivouacs — the whole division. 
This was done so that if the rebel scouts discovered us they 
could not estimate our numbers. Our pickets are half a 
mile ahead. They captured fifteen rebels just after sun- 
down.^'" H. is out with them and forty-five men from our 
company. The news w^as brought from the Fortress that 
our mortar-fleet had taken New Orleans with all the ship- 
ping and $10,000,000 worth of cotton. Also that the rebels 
were evacuating Norfolk and burning the town. 

This takes me up to to-day, and my diary isn't made 
out any further. 

Last night was cold. We had a little frost. T. and the 
Rabbi froze out at midnight and got up and made a big 
fire and snoozed by that the rest of the night. The weather 
is very changeable. Grass begins to grow here and peach 
trees are in blossom. The country here is very low and 
swampy. We are bivouacked in a pine swamp. The woods 
are full of vines and trees that I have never seen before, and 
the pine is a kind that I never heard of. The leaves are 
many of them nearly a foot long and as shaggy as they can 
be. They make splendid beds. 

]\Iy health continues excellent. I march easier every day, 
and the last march I scarcely felt my knapsack. 

We have not had a letter or paper since we left Alexan- 
dria, so we don't know anything about what is going on. 
I guess my letter-writing is about "played out," for my last 
stamp pays this postage and I haven't had a cent of money 
this fortnight. 


In the Woods before Great Bethel, 

Saturday, March 2^, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I had to stop right there and report to the general with 
my bugle, to teach me new calls. We have received no 
mail since we left Alexandria and none has been sent fur- 
ther than the Fortress. I don't know when you will get 
this, but I will write and perhaps they will send it some time 
or other. My last stamp got wet and spoiled, but D. gave 
me a stamped envelope, one of the last he had, so I am all 
right yet. He is just one of the best fellows that ever lived. 

On Thursday General Porter's division made a recon- 
noissance two miles beyond Great Bethel. Our brigade 
with a battery took the lead. It is ten miles from here to the 
fortifications. The road is perfectly level and sandy all the 
way. The two regiments of Berdan's sharpshooters are in 
our division now and a company of them went with us as 
skirmishers. A spy had reported the rebels two thousand 
strong at the forts. These are a line of earthworks in the 
edge of a pine woods. In front of these is a large level 
field or two or three hundred acres, and in front of the field 
an extensive swamp full of wet holes, thickets, briars and 
vines. The road leads through the middle of this swamp 
to the field. Here was the place where so many of our brave 
boys fell last spring. We halted as we came up to the 
swamp. The colonel came along and told us to watch the 
colors and stick to them, that Great Bethel would be ours 
before night. We then commenced to move. The artillery 
took the road, the Seventeenth and Twelfth New York the 
swamp on the right, and the Forty-fourth and Eighty-third 
the left. /We had just entered and were forcing our way 
through when we heard the crack of rifles in the woods 
ahead. The word was passed along to hurry up. I thought 
the ball had opened at last. You ought to have seen us go 
through those thickets then. Pell-mell we went, over bogs 
and through vines and places I never would have thought a 
man could get through under ordinary circumstances. As 
we came out to the field the firing ceased. ^We formed in 
line of battle instantly and moved toward the works. I 


expected to see a line of fire run along their breastworks, 
but not a sound came from them and not a man could we see. 
We came up to the front and our color guard leaped the 
ditch and planted the flag of the Eighty-third on the forti- 
fications so long disgraced by the rebel rag. Great Bethel 
was ours and not a man hurt. They had pickets there who 
exchanged shots with our skirmishers as they came in sight 
and then retreated. " We then turned to the left and went 
about two miles to another fortification. They had a dam 
here to fill a ditch in front of the works, and below the 
dam a bridge. As our skirmishers came out of the woods 
they saw three men tearing up the planks on this bridge. 
They fired and shot two of them. Some others ran out of 
the woods and carried them ofif, so w^e don't know whether 
they were killed or not. The main body of rebels had 
left in the morning. They have gone to Yorktown. We 
have orders to have three days' cooked rations on hand, so 
I think we shall be after them soon. When we came back 
we burned all the log barracks and brush houses at the 
forts. All the houses here are burned and the whole coun- 
try is a desert. It is one of the most beautiful sections, 
naturally, I have ever seen. The soil is very rich and the 
surface perfectly level. The corn fields have only one stalk 
in a place, showing that it must grow very large. 

We have been resting since Thursday night. We don't 
drill as much as we did at Hall's Hill. 

Camp near Yorktozvn, Va., 
Monday, April 14, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

I scalded one of my feet yesterday and was not able 
to go with the company which went out this morning to work 
on a road. I was sitting by the fire with several others 
making cofifee. Each of us has a small tin kettle holding 
three pints or so, fitted with a tight cover. We call them 
muckets for want of a better name. By the way, I believe 
almost any of us would throw away a blanket before he 
would his mucket, they are so indispensable. The cover 
of one was crowded down so tight that there was no room 


for the steam to escape. It swallowed the md.gmty wUh 
commendable patience for a time, but finally it lost all sell 
co't ol and exploded, throwing hot coflee in all directions 
but particularly in the direction of my left foot. It was not 
verv badly scalded, and I hope will be well m a few days. 

I believe with you that our idle days are about over 
at least we have been tolerably busy since we arrived at 
Fortress Monroe. We landed the 24th of March. You 
have much better opportunities of learning what is done 
in the army than we, for- we depend for news on the Nevv 
York papers and they are two days old before we ge them. 
AU that I can write then is to tell what falls under my 

immediate observation. , , , ■ , „ri„ nf 

You have undoubtedly learned that the main body ot 
the Potomac army is in the vicinity of Yorktown ; that the 
rebels are concentrating all the troops they can to oppose 
us and that they seem determined to make a desperate stand 
he're to keep us back from Richmond. By the time ^ve 
are ready to attack them they will probably have 100,000 
men ver^ strongly intrenched with which to meet us _ We 
have a still larger force and are working night and day o 
<.et our guns in position and leave nothing undone ha will 
fead to I sure L decisive victory. We have McCWlan 
to lead us and tlie prestige of victory on otir ^'d^' wh * >s 
a great help. What the French call the Espnt d "> ps. 
fs excellent Tlie army seems to feel that a well fough 
battle here will crush the rebellion and send them home al 
the more speedily. They hear of the victories in the west and 
the determination seems universal that the honor of cru h- 
ing the rebellion shall not rest wholly with the aruiy of he 
Mississippi. We shall go into the fight with Remember 
Fort Donelson and Pittsburg" on our lips and in our hearts. 
The traitors have no such thoughts to inspire them with 
confidence. If they know any thing at all of what transpires, 
it will only fill them with forebodings of their ov n fa e 
They may fight, and undoubtedly will, but it will be like the 
desp'erate'fighting of cornered rats. They must fight or 
give up everything. It will be the greatest battle ever fought 
fn America. It will be worth a year's soldiering to have 


been in it or to have fallen there under the Stars and 

It will be a year on the 26th since I enlisted. We have 
as yet seen but little iightino^, though I think we shall see 
as much as any of the rest do here. Our division has 
been the advance so far. We frightened the rebels of 
Great Bethel and Union Mills, but I'm afraid Butterfield's 
brigade would hardly prove strong enough to drive them 
out of Yorktown. We arrived here a week ago yesterday. 
You may w^onder why we have done so little apparently 
in all this time. I think we have done as much as could 
be done under the circumstances. Last week it rained four 
days and nights. This materially interfered with our opera- 
tions. It is twenty-four miles to Fortress Monroe, our 
nearest shipping station. The latter part of the road is 
through swamps that were almost impassable even for troops. 
The provisions for 150,000 men, in fact every thing had 
to come this way. It was found necessary to select some 
point nearer where provisions and artillery could be landed. 
Two or three wharves have been built, as near as I can learn 
somewhere near the mouth of the York river, and roads 
are being made as rapidly as possible to different parts of 
the camps. These forts cannot be taken with light artillery, 
and siege guns have to be brought and put in position. 
Our regiment and the Avengers have made nearly six 
miles of corduroy road beside doing picket duty every four 
days, reconnoitering, etc. I assure you the work is being 
pushed forward with all the speed that is possible. 

It has been impossible to supply the army with full ra- 
tions a considerable part of the time since we have been 
here, and we have had to live on short allowance. I have 
not heard a word of grumbling, however. Men who have 
marched over the road from here to Fortress Monroe know 
why provisions cannot be got through fast enough. 'Our 
boys didn't come here to starve, however, because Uncle 
Samuel got out of hard tack. There were numbers of 
white rabbits in the vicinity when we arrived here. They 
are very large wdth short ears and their flesh tastes strange- 
ly like mutton!'- I have a faint recollection of using my 


bowie in the woods in preparing one for eating that took • 
two of lis to carry to camp. Large, ain't they? 

Our company spent a night last week down near the ^) 
river. We went down to be ready to work on the road next 
day. We had no tents and it was pretty cold, so half a 
dozen of us started out about midnight to look round a 
little. We finally came out near a house and barn. I 
snatched a turkey ofif the fence and one of the others a 
rooster, and made back into the woods. We stopped to se- 
cure them when the others came up, saying they had found 
a pig, but did not dare to kill him for fear of his making 
a noise and waking up the wrong passenger. Bowen, who 
is not afraid of trifles, however, -finally opened the door and 
went in. He knocked him, but the inconsiderate rascal 
squealed terribly. He seized him, however, and made off, 
the pig still squealing. Just as was expected, he woke up 
the rebels and we had just got into the woods when a ball 
came whistling over our heads. Nobody was hurt. I sup- 
pose the man shot at the squeal, for that was immediately 
stopped, and we heard no more guns. Just about daylight, 
before there was much stir, we came to the camp with the 
pig all dressed, turkey and rooster ditto. The colonel, who 
is always astir early, came riding down, and stopping sud- 
denly, said, ''Bowen, where did you get that pig?" Bowen, 
who stammers a little, was nonplussed. At last he blurted 
out. ''Well, c-c-confound it. Colonel, I c-c-c-confiscated 
him." "Haven't you heard the orders about that?" "Well, 
Colonel, I haven't had a mouthful to eat except five crackers 
since yesterday, and I can't build corduroy on that." I 
need not say that Bowen was forgiven, and Colonel said 
yesterday he wished I could get him another turkey. The 
pig was pretty well disposed of during the day, but how 
do you think we cooked our chicken? We had used up 
every grain of salt on the pig. Our supply is very limited 
and we have had to lose some meat on account of having 
no salt. I went down to the bay and got a mucket of sea 
water and we boiled a piece in that to try it. It relished so 
well that the chicken was boiled in sea water, and, if it 
was not as well cooked as some have been, I assure you 


there was no meat left on the bones. I hardly know what 
you will think of this work. You may call it stealing to 
go prowling round nights snatching poultry and pigs, but 
my conscience is seared/' 'I don't feel the least compunction. 
I am well satisfied that a man who has a farm and stock 
here where the rebels have had undisputed possession for 
months, is nothing else than a secesh, and when Uncle Sam 
can't furnish food, 1 see nothing wrong in acquiring it of 
our enemies. That is the general sentiment of the soldiers, 
and, if you think it is wrong you need not feel any delicacy 
in telling me so. 

I suppose L. is married, though I have not heard from 
home since the wedding. I am looking anxiously for a 
letter. Our mails were very much interrupted for a while 
after our coming here, but now they are pretty regular. 

I don't think you have anything to fear from the Merri- 
mac. The Monitor is watching her as a cat does a mouse, 
and, if she should succeed in getting out, she would prob- 
ably run up the York river to take part in the coming 
fight. She evidently fears the Monitor. We heard heavy 
firing near the fort yesterday and considerable excitement 
was caused in camp by the report that the Merrimac had 
taken the Monitor into Norfolk, but it was all a hoax. 
While I am writing this I hear the roar of cannon. Some 
of our gunboats are throwing shell from the river at the 
rebel batteries. Perhaps it is the commencement of the 
battle, and before this reaches you it may be fought and 

Camp near Yorktown, Va., 
Monday, April 21, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Father writes encouragingly about the war; thinks it 
is progressing rapidly and hopes I will soon be on my way 
home. Home ! What will that be to me, do you think Mr. 
P., now that you have taken away its greatest attraction? 
There was always a blank there when she was gone and 
now she has gone to return no more except as a transient 
visitor. Plenceforth, it will be a home to me no more. 


If I survive this war, do you know, C, that I've almost 
determined to quit roving, adopt farming as a business, and 
work steadily and perseveringly till I have a comfortable 
home for myself and the best woman I can find who will 
marry a soldier. I'm almost afraid that when we get home 
and the girls see what rough, sunburned and disgusting fel- 
lows we are — I'm afraid soldiers will be at a discount. Yes, 
my dreams of the pleasures of an exciting Hfe are passing 
away and I have almost come to believe that the plain honest 
farmer who surrounds his home with comforts is the happiest 
man. How I wish I could live near you and that we could 
grow up into substantial, prosperous farmers together ! But 
why be building castles in the air, when, perhaps, the bul- 
let is even now rammed home to lay me under the sod on the 
field of Yorktown ? I would not, if I could, unveil the fu- 
ture and see my fate. Still it has always seemed to me 
that I should escape death on the field. A wound has ! 
seemed more than probable. Indeed, I would not shun 
it, but it has ever seemed to me that I would not be called to 
sacrifice my life, yet such may be my fate. If so, I am con- 
tent. Farewell, sweet dreams of life and love ! Traitors 
are striking at the citadel of our beloved country. My life 
may check their murderous course and it must be given. 

The papers are full of prophecies of the Waterloo that 
is to be fought here, the greatest battle of the war, and 
of course, a great Union victory. They don't tell the date 
of the coming battle, however. Now, if you ask what I 
think of it, I should answer, 'Tt isn't coming ofif till after 
Richmond is taken." And then it will not be the great 
affair the New York papers are making out. I will give my 
reasons for thinking so. I judge from the present state of 
things and from McClellan's acknowledged skill in plan- 
ning. He is a careful, cautious man and will not sacrifice 
lives in a fierce battle when time and skill will accomplish 
the same purpose. ''Look at the situation," as the papers 
say. McClellan lands 150,000 men at Fortress Monroe and 
sets out for Richmond. At Yorktown the rebels have fortifi- 
cations extending across the Peninsula to the James. Here 
is the only place they can hope to hold against our forces. 


Here then they rally. All their forces are few enough to 
check such an army, and so they are all brought here. 
Manassas is deserted and now not 5,000 men are left be- 
tween that and Richmond. All their army that lay along 
the Rappaiiannock was transferred to Yorktown, and they 
had scarcely gone when McDowell appeared at Fredericks- 
burg with 40,000 men and Banks was following them down 
the Shenandoah valley with 70,000. An army of 100,000 
is thus marching on Richmond, while we keep the rebel 
army here. It is, no doubt, repugnant to their feelings to 
see things go in this way, but what can they do? If they 
fall back to Richmond they will have a quarter of a mill- 
ion to fight w^ithout fortifications, for we shall certainly fol- 
low them up. If they grow desperate enough to come out 
from their forts and attack us, wq outnumber them and they 
admit our courage, so they would inevitably be whipped at 
that. If they lie still awaiting an attack, they will lose Rich- 
mond, and wake some fine morning to find an army of 
100,000 in their rear and McClellan at last ready to crush 
the rebellion. 

April 22. 
Your letters of the 13th and 14th came last night as I 
expected. I passed about as uncomfortable a night as I 
have seen lately. It had been raining all day, but at night 
it commenced to pour down, and the water ran through our 
tent, round it, and under it, and we just had to lie in a puddle 
of it all night. There was no dodging it ; scarcely a dry 
spot in the tent. To-day I don't feel very keen, so, if my 
letter is not interesting, you will see my excuse. You cer- 
tainly deserve credit for giving me a good long letter. I 
like to receive such, but, if I don't mention that I noticed 
such and such items, charge it to want of space, for this 
is my second sheet and I can't get in but three. One thing, 
however, you made a mistake in, and that was in giving 
me an inventory of vour wardrobe. Haven't you known 
me long enough to know that I never can remember what 
color the ribbon on a bonnet is long enough to get out of 
church to talk about it ? And all those details about the black 


broadcloth dress trimmed with traveUng goods, the para 
matta cloak, the black satin congress gaiters, the white bon- 
net with yellow crossbars and tiowers and all those things — 
why, I can hardly remember them now long enough to 
write them. I have no doubt but you looked well in them 
though, for you always do. 

Well, the Tribune said that Porter's division made the 
attack. Did they, and we have been in a battle, have we? 
To be sure, we led the column, and our brigade the division, 
but there was not much infantry fighting. Our batteries 
opened on them at long range and we came up in line of 
battle to support them. They replied with spirit from their 
forts and their first shell killed tw^o brave fellows in 
Follett's battery, which was planted in the very spot where 
the rebels had been practicing at target. The firing was 
heavy on both sides till dark and we lost some eight or ten, 
and a good many horses. We all expected that Sunday 
would prove a bloody day, but it was very quiet and the 
great battle has not come ofif yet, though there is considerable 
firing every day and some skirmishes. 

On picket, April 2^, 1862. 
I felt so unwell that I could not finish my letter yester- 
day, and I have resumed it this morning. Our regiment 
came out at 3 o'clock this morning for picket duty, and as 
I wanted to see the fun I came along. Now I wish I could 
tell you just how everything looks here, or better still, that 
you could just look in and see us. In a deep wooded hollow 
you might see seven or eight hundred men, their arms stacked 
in a glistening line down the middle, knapsacks and haver- 
sacks lying round and the men lounging in groups smoking, 
joking or telling stories. Little brush houses are scattered 
here and there and the sun is just coming up and making 
everything look so bright and pleasant that it seems more 
like some holiday gathering than it does like a gathering of 
men armed to the teeth and ready to engage in deadly con- 
flict at a moment's notice/ This is historical ground. As 
long ago as 1781 Yorktown was surrendered, and here is 
the very place it was done. Just back of me is a long bank 


^)Of earth now overgrown with trees, a l)reastwork thrown 
/up by \A'ashino^ton"s men. and, if you could creep with me 
so as to just look over the top of it, and be out of range of 
secesh bullets, we could see more. Away across a level 
field three-quarters of a mile ofif, just in the edge of a wood, 
you might see a yellow line of earth. That is a rebel fort. 
Farther to the right is another, and still farther another and 
a larger one. A few rods from me are two large siege guns, 
and a little way on the other side a battery of Parrott guns. 
Now^ for a little amusement — a heavy report at the rebel 
fort, a wTeath of white smoke curls gracefully up from the 
yellow bank and a ten-inch shell comes hissing and scream- 
ing through the air directly toward our siege guns. The 
gunners jump aside and fall flat on the ground; the shell 
strikes a dozen rods behind them and harmlessly explodes. 
Up they spring, with "All right, boys." "Give 'em two for 
that.'' They step to their loaded guns, step back a pace, 
pull a string, and, Boom ! Boom ! two reports that make the 
earth tremble and two shells go screaming back in reply 
to the rebel missile. They have kept up this cannonading 
ever since we came here on the 5th, and there is scarcely 
ten minutes in the day wdien we do not hear the report of 
cannon. We are getting used to it so we pay no more at- 
tention than to the birds singing, unless the firing is un- 
usually sharp. They have tried several times to drive in our 
pickets, but they have not succeeded yet. I almost forgot 
to tell you about the posted men. Nine men are put on a 
post. They stay twelve hours, for they cannot be relieved 
oftener for fear of revealing their position. They are posted 
behind a clump of bushes or in a rifle pit in the open field. 
Three w^atch while the others rest, taking turns, and they 
watch every rod of ground in sight. If a rebel shows him- 
self in range, they blaze away at him. 

The guns are popping and cannon thundering away now, 
and I've got my foot on a six-inch shell that was thrown over 
here this morning and did not burst. I am glad there are no 
women here, for I am afraid they would make me nervous. 
Every time a shell exploded they would jump and think 
"there goes death and misery to some poor fellow," but 


we have grown so careless and hardened that we don't heed 
them. I have seen some fellows who had narrow escapes. 
One had his knapsack shot off his back by a solid shot and 
was not hurt. One had a ball through a cup that he was 
just about to drink from. One had a Minie ball pass through 
fifteen thicknesses of cloth (a knot in his cape) and lodge 
against a rib. Another had the tassel shot off his cap. 

The boys have just captured something about a foot 
long that looks like an alligator. 

Glad to hear of Daniel's success in raising stock. Mine 
is improving. Woke up the other morning and found a 
snake and a Hzard in my bed. 

Near Yorktoivn, Va., 
Sunday, April 2/, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have nothing more to do to-day, but it is not so 
with all the regiment. I can hear them calling the roll in 
some of the other companies, and one company just passed 
armed with "Irish spoons,'' going out to work in the 
trenches. Six of our companies, including K, went out at 
daylight yesterday and worked all day in the rain. It was 
a very disagreeable day and we came back at night soaked 
through, cold and hungry, but as merry a lot of fellows as 
you ever saw. You won't understand the thing very well 
unless I describe it particularly. I think I told you about 
there being a large field in front of the forts. A trench 
four feet deep and twelve feet wide and over a mile long is 
to be dug on this side of the field just in front of the woods. 
We followed a road up one of the ravines till we came to our 
pickets and then one by one crept cautiously up into the 
ditch. A ditch two or three feet deep and wide enough to 
walk in had been dug during the night and dirt thrown up 
in front so that by stooping down we were concealed. One 
thousand men filed in there the whole length of the ditch and 
then each one laying his gun on the bank within reach, com- 
menced picking or shoveling the dirt up on to the bank. 
The rebel forts were in plain sight and their sharpshooters 
were within thirty rods of us, hidden in rifle pits, so that, if a 


fellow got his head above the bank, he might get a bullet in 
his cap. We soon got a bank high enough to stand up 
behind and then it would have done you good to see the dirt 
go out of that ditch. Many hands make light work, and I 
tell you our regiment and the Sixty-second handled a pile 
of dirt. We had two reliefs — I went in at 6 o'clock and 
worked till noon and then the other relief worked till night. 
Last night there were 10,000 men at work all night and as 
many more to-day, so you may guess there is something 
going on here. George says that when he gets ready, he 
wdll throw one hundred and thirty shells per minute into 
each of those forts. I think there will be lively dodging 
there if nobody is hurt. Oh, we are gaining on them slowly 
but surely. 

When I was out on picket 1 cut a hickory stick that grew 
on Washington's old breastwork. I picked up a scccsh 
bullet there too and brought them into camp. I thought I 
would make something out of them to rememiber Yorktown 
by, so I whittled out a tatting needle and made a rivet of the 
bullet and I send it to you. It is a poor thing I know, but 
the stick was green and I had nothing but a knife to make 
it with. After it gets seasoned you can get C. to smooth 
and polish it up, but I can't get anything here to do it with. 

There is not much firing lately and some deserters say 
that the rebels begin to think they will have to surrender 
at last. I guess they will think so when George gets ready 
to make them. 

Camp W infield Scott, 
Thursday, May i, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

Your letter of the 26th arrived yesterday. We have 
a resting day to-day, as we were in the trench yesterday, 
so I will wTite to-day. To-morrow we go on picket, next 
day in the trenches, and so on. We received news day before 
yesterday of the capture of New Orleans and as it went 
from camp to camp it seemed to give the men a new start. 
There was no cheering. I have not heard a cheer or a drum 
since we came here except in the rebel forts. But men, 


when they get such news as that, must have some way of 
working off their excess of joy. If the orthodox way of 
allowing it to escape from the lungs in boisterous and pro- 
longed cheers is not permitted, some other will be found. 
We worked ours off with the pick and shovel. The general 
in command of the trenches said we threw more dirt out 
of the ditch in three hours yesterday than the same number 
of men did in all day the day before. Men will work when 
there's a prospect ahead and there seems to be a determina- 
tion on the part of this army, that, if it depends on us, the 
honor of restoring the Union shall not rest wholly on the 
army of the west. That portion of the army has done nobly. 
They have had the hardest fighting to do, but, if I do not 
mistake the character of the men I see in the army here, 
they only wait the opportunity to do as well. The Vermont 
troops at Lee's Mill the other day, walked, so to speak, into 
the very jaws of death without flinching. Not one-fourth 
of them live to tell the story. The sons of the "Green Moun- 
tain Boys" of the Revolution do not seem to have degen- 

You think I make Hght of our annoyances and priva- 
tions. Well, it may be so. There are a few who are 
constitutional grumblers. They never are satisfied with any 
treatment or any regulation. They find fault with every- 
thing. In fact, if they ever get to Heaven, they'll be find- 
ing fault with the music. Such fellows are the butt for all 
the ridicule their comrades can heap on them. No mercy is 
shown to them. A man must show himself a man to get 
along pleasantly with the company. In general it is so. ) 
"Come what will, we'll be gay and happy still," is the song \ 
and the sentiment of the greater part of the men. There ! 
seems to be a pride felt in enduring what at home we would 
consider hardships, without complaint. But the soldier's 
life is not all hardship. It is a pleasant sight to look on a 
group sitting round a fire in the evening, whiling away the 
time with stories of the past and speculations of the future. 
Then you would always see the pipes there. That you 
wouldn't like. But for some reason a soldier does enjoy his 
tobacco. A count was made the other day of the men in 


our company who use tobacco and of the eighty-seven pres- 
ent sixty-one fell under the ban. I think that a fair average 
of the regiment. Since we came here the boys have gone 
to making pipes of tlie laurel roots that grow on the old 
breastwork thrown up in the Revolution. I have one that 
I think a great deal of. 

We were sitting round the fire the other night passing 
the time away when H. joined us. He is the life of the 
company, and always welcome anywhere. He was asked 
for a song and gave ''Bingen on the Rhine," a song you 
have probably seen. As he sang one verse and another, 
"Tell my mother that her other sons shall comfort her old 
age, Tell my sister not to weep for me or sob with drooping 
head," and so on, I saw a good many faces that relaxed 
their look of firmness and I thought a good many in the 
circle were thinking of their friends. There are hours 
when the soldier "unbends his iron front" and allows the 
thoughts of home and its pleasant associations to occupy his 
mind, but it is only as a relief that this is done. You 
will generally find him apparently careless of the past or 
future, buoyant, self-reliant, and only mindful of the present. 

L. was married the 2d of April at home. She is now 
Mrs. C. H. P. There, your nose is broke, as they tell the 
next older when the crisis or cribub arrives. You can't 
monopolize the marriage list any longer. Who would have 
believed though, that she would be married before I thought 
of such a thing? Oh well, there's time enough yet. If the 
young ladies think half as much of the soldiers as they pre- 
tend to, perhaps I may find one somewhere if I ever return. 
E., I believe, has given up his idea of going to West Point. 
He found that there was no vacancy from our district. He 
has hired out to farm it this summer. 

I see that my correspondents intend to keep me supplied 
with stamps. I got a letter from home the other night with 
a number in it. Then Aunt A. sent me some, and now I 
have to thank you for a number more. They are really an 
accommodation here. I liave seen a good many of the boys 
sell their rations for stamps because they could not get 
them in any other way. But the arrangements are better 


now and I don't think there will be much difficulty in procur- 
ing them hereafter. 

White House, Va., 

May 20, 1862. 
Dear Father : — 

There are long rows of "quarters," log huts w4th no 
windows but holes in the walls and only a mud floor. The 
slaves were mostly born on the plantation, and, thougli 
many had been sold south, but few had been brought on. 
One old ''Uncle Tom," over sixty years old, had worn his 
strength out in sight of the house — had never been five miles 
aw^ay. One man told me he was owned over on the State 
road six miles away. He married a woman on this planta- 
tion, had been married eight years and had six children. 
The only time he had ever been allowed to visit his wife 
was to come on Saturday night after dark and be back to his 
work in the field by daylight on Monday morning. He was 
a good looking, intelligent man and gave me much informa- 
tion about the modes of cultivation, the crops, etc., and about 
negro life in the system of slavery. He could hardly believe 
or realize that he and his family could never be slaves again. 
He said "if he was sartin of it, he would stay where he had 
always lived." He could find ''right smart to do," and felt 
very confident he could support his family. There were all 
sorts of darkies there, stalwart field hands, and old worn- 
out men, laughing, careless "Topsies" carrying buckets 
of water on their heads, strong-limbed boys, and little tod- 
dlers running round wdth nothing to cover their ebony but 
a nether garment that looked as though it had been in con- 
tact with their master's character. They all appeared very 
healthy, except the very old men and women. 

Well, if I don't stop mnning on so I shall have no time 
to answer any questions.-^ About that Zouave cap, it is dark 
blue, and, of course, it has no front, that's Zouave style. 
The Duryea Zouaves wear a red cap, conical, with a white 
roll around it, and a very heavy, long tassel of yellow 
worsted, blue jacket (some like our three months'), red 
pants, very baggy, and yellow leggings. They are a dash- 
ing set of fellows. 


I am very glad if the money I sent was of use. We ex- 
pect another two months' pay in Richmond. 

I saw Conway Ayres at White House. His regiment was 
to be mustered out of service in a few days, but he said he 
should not go home till we got to Richmond. 

We have lately got a suit of government uniforms and 
the Zouaves are played out. 

General Porter is raised to the command of a corps and 
the division is now Morell's division. 

I hope you will reply as promptly as I have, and that 
our letters will be received a little more quickly here- 

Cold Harbor, Poivhite Szvamp, Va., 

Friday, May 2^, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I think I have not written to you since we left Yorktowm. 
Doubtless you have plenty of papers and have heard all 
about that long ago. We went on board a steamer there 
and landed at West Point, the head of York river, the day 
after the battle and camped three days on the battlefield. 
We then followed the "river road" up the Pamunkey to 
Kent Court House, Cumberland and White House landing, 
Tunstall's, Hanover, etc., on the road to Richmond. We 
are now within ten miles of the rebel capital. What lies be- 
yond I do not know, but suspect that the enemy is in con- 
siderable force not far off. General Butterfield sent me an 
order this morning not to give the reveille with the bugle, 
and the bugles and drums are as silent to-day as they were 
before Yorktown. We have had all the varied experiences 
of the soldier in the field since leaving Yorktown, march- 
ing through rain and shine, mud and dust, wading through 
creeks and drawing artillery and baggage wagons out of 
the sloughs. We make slow but sure progress. 

The country is as beautiful a section as I ever saw. 
Lovely scenery, glorious landscapes, everything is beautiful 
and "only man is vile." Great clover fields in full bloom 
spreading away over gentle swells of ground and broad 
fields of wheat all headed out abound. We stopped three 


days at the ''White House'' on the Custis estate. This is 
a large plantation, seven thousand acres of very productive 
land on the Pamunkey river, late the property of the rebel 
General Lee. It is the old homestead of the Custis family 
and occupied by them in the days of Washington. Here 
Washington first met Martha Custis, and here, on the very 
spot wliere Lee's White House nov^ stands, they were 
married. ' There are several hundreds of slaves on the 
estate and we liad the opportunities we wanted to talk 
with them. Oh. they were a happy set of darkies when 
they learned that they were free. They were most of them 
born on the place. I saw one old Uncle Tom, over sixty 
years old, who had never been five miles from the place in 
all his life. He had worn his life away on these fields. 
Contrabands are pouring in on us every day. Almost 
every officer has one or two along now. They hardly know 
what to do with themselves on learning that thc}^ will never 
be returned to their masters. 

The white inhabitants of the country are a miserable 
set. Every house exhibits the white flag as our troops pass. 
They are mean enough to take advantage of such protection 
and refuse a drink of water to our troops almost suflfocated 
with heat. We have had some days when we could scarcely 
march half a mile without resting. Some of the boys went 
to fill their canteens at a well near the road. The woman 
of the house came out and stood by the well and told them 
they might go to the river to drink. She wasn't going to 
have the d — d Yankees drink out of her well. It was well 
for her she was a woman. Our boys would have 'Knocked a 
man endways who would insult them in that way and 
perhaps put a bayonet through him. The men are just 
as mean as the women, but a little more discreet. I went 
to one of the white flag houses and said to the man who 
stood in the yard, "Where do you get water?" "No water 
here, sir. I have to tote all I use right smart o' two 
miles." 'T couldn't see" any such yarn as that, so I made 
a reconnoissance and found a splendid spring not a dozen 
rods behind the house. I filled my canteen, and, when 
I went up showed it to him, with, "What do you call that 


but water?" "Oh," says he, ''we don't never use that." 
Says I, "What kind of a flag do you call that?"' "Flag — 
flag — Oh, that's a white flag." "What is that a sign of?" 
"It's a sign of truth." "Don't you think it would look 
better for a Uttle more coloring?" "Well, I don't know 
but it would, but I hadn't anything handy to color it with." 
"Well, I think you better get it down as soon as possible 
and fix it over as near like that one as you can" (pointing to 
our regimental colors). "Well, I guess I will if I can find 
anything about the house to color it with." (Mem. I guess 
he won't.) I bought a secesh bill of him, and, thinking pos- 
sibly you haven't seen any, I'll send it to you. It* is a speci- 
men of Confederate .States art, beautiful to see but "not 
worth a red" to spend. Save it as a memento of the war. 

Cold Harbor, Pozvhite Szvamp, Va., 

Saturday, May 24, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister: — 

My duty as bugler exempts me from guard and picket 
duty. While at Yorktown bugles and drums were not used 
and I had nothing to do, so I went into the ranks again and 
volunteered to do picket duty and work in the trenches, and 
took my regular turn in all the work of the regiment ex- 
cept camp guard which I always had an aversion to and 
wouldn't do when I was not required to. We had a corps 
of twelve buglers when w^e left Fort Monroe and I was the 
leader, but, finding that a good many more than was neces- 
sary, the colonel dismissed all but two, Lederer and myself. 
Now, I'll just give you an idea of our duties. At sunrise 
buglers at brigade headquarters sound the "brigade call" 
and the "reveille" (rev-el-lee is camp pronunciation). The 
buglers of each regiment as quickly as possible assemble on 
the color line, give their regimental call and repeat the 
reveille. The fifes and drums follow and awake the men. 
This is the signal to rise and fall in for roll call. 

You may guess that the buglers of an army of 30,000 
men all within sound of each other, make some music. 
At sunset we have another call, "The Retreat." At half 


past eight the "Tattoo," at nine the "Extinguish Lights." 
Then there are calls 'To Strike Tents," "To Assemble," "To 
the Color," "Sick Call," "Officers Call," "Church Call," etc. 
It is our duty to repeat all such calls that are first sounded 
at headquarters. On the march, the order to march, or halt, 
or lie down and rest, etc., in fact, all orders are given by 
the bugle. 

New Bridge, Chickahominy River, Va., 

Monday, May 26, 1862. 
Dear Friends at Home : — 

It seems a long time since I received your last and a 
long time since I have written. In that time we have trav- 
eled over" the country from Yorktown to within six or eight 
miles of the rebel capital. Half a day's march now without 
special delay would bring us to Richmond. And vet we've 
seen no rebels except prisoners and deserters, and they are 
but very poorly calculated to inspire a high opinion of their 
associates in arms. When we entered the rebel works at 
Yorktown and looked back at our own, we were surprised 
at their apparent nearness and at the little loss of life with 
which they were constructed. I begin to suspect it was the 
smell of fresh dirt which sickened them and made them leave 
their forts, for the last night of their stay our boys dug 
rifle pits under their very noses. ^At Yorktown, we took a 
steamer at dusk and the next morning found us in sight of 
West Point. We landed and camped on the field where 
the battle was fought the day before. The papers have 
given you much better accounts of it than I can, for I 
was a day too late to see anything, but some of the wounded 
and dead. In Captain Woodward's street considerable blood 
was still seen on the grround and the boys gathered around ' 
it with a curious interest and expressed all sorts of feehngs 
at the novel sight. We stayed three or four days at West 
Point and then were on the road to Richmond. The time 
from that day to this has been passed in various camps and 
marches in the heat and dust and in the rain and mud. Slow 
and toilsome progress was made but it was sure. No 
going back. "On to Richmond" is the watchword in earnest 


now. Yorktown has taught me a lesson, however, and I 
would not dare to prophesy how soon we shall be there. I am 
well satisfied that, if fightino- is necessary to get there, 
we are good for that. I think the battles of Lee's Mill, 
Williamsburg and West Point have amply demonstrated the 
fact that McClellan's army is not one drilled for grand re- 
views alone, but that the spirit of the men is just as impetu- 
ously brave as any found in the western troops. 

Camp near New Bridge, Hanover Co., Va.. 

Friday P. M., May ^o, 1862. 
Dear Friends at Home : — 

We have had our first battle. The accounts will reach 
you in the papers and I know you will be very anxious till 
vou hear from me, so I embrace the earliest opportunity 
I have had of writing to give you some of the particulars, 
though I am so very tired that I am afraid [ shall not makt 
out much of a letter. 

Last Tuesday morning we were called out at 3 130 
o'clock and ordered into line without our knapsacks, taking 
one blanket and tent, three days' rations, and sixty rounds 
of cartridges. We had no time to make coffee, and had no 
breakfast but crackers and water. It was raining heavily 
and continued to do so till 10 o'clock and then cleared off 
very hot. The roads were horrible and the artillery was 
constantly getting stuck and causing delay. We took the 
road to Hanover Court House, twenty-four miles from 
camp, and traveled as fast as men could travel except when 
hindered by the artillery. The bridges were all destroyed 
but one, and the creeks had to be waded through. It was 
the severest march we ever had. Ofilicers could not stand 
it any better than the men, for we had not very heavy 
loads, and officers and men gave out and lay by the roadside 
together, utterly unable to go any farther without rest. 
Captain Austin, Captain Carpenter, Captain Stowe and Cap- 
tain Graham all gave out, and half the lieutenants in the 
regiment with scores of the men fell out and lay down to 


Saturday P. M.^ May 31. 

A tremendous thunder storm came up yesterday and pre- 
vented my finishing my letter. The rain fell in torrents and 
the lighting was very sharp. A flash struck the quarter- 
master's tent in the Forty-fourtli, about five rods from 
me, instantly killing him, and stunning twenty others. 
The bright steel bayonets made excellent lightning rods and 
a great many in all the camps around were sensibly affected 
by it. 

To go on with my story about the battle. x\bout two 
miles south of Hanover Court House the Seventeenth New 
York, which was in front, came upon a North Carolina 
regiment in the woods. They immediately formed in line 
of battle in a wheat field and the battery just behind came 
up and commenced throwing grape into the woods. We 
followed the battery into the field and took position in time 
to support it. The rebels retreated and Companies A and B 
were thrown out as skirmishers and we followed them half 
a mile through the woods and halted just in the further 
edge with our skirmishers in front in the field. This 
was a large clover field three-quarters of a mile across and 
on the fiirther side we saw two regiments of rebels with 
three pieces of artillery. They shelled us as well as they 
could, but only one man was hurt. Our skirmishers kept 
picking off the stragglers and our battery soon came out 
and drove them again. We came out and followed across 
the field (or fields, for it was cut up by numerous gullies) 
and in them we took several prisoners. Company K took 
the first two. They were skirmishing under the bushes, 
and, as I jumped over the fence, I almost stumbled on them. 
They were instantly disarmed. \^ 

Camp near New Bridge, Hanover Co., Va., 
Monday, June 2, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister: — 

Before this reaches you, you will have heard of the 
battle of Hanover Court House, and I know you will be 
very anxious to hear from me. I should have written 
before, but my time has been so taken up and I have 1)een 


so worn out by the extraordinary exertions ul" the past 
week that really 1 could not. In fact, I can scarcely write 

Last Tuesday morning at 3 130 o'clock we were called 
out and formed in line without time to get breakfast. It was 
raining great guns and continued to rain till 10 o'clock and 
ihe rest of the day was intensely hot. We took a blanket 
and tent, three days' rations and sixty rounds of cartridges 
and started, we knew not where, and cared not, only that 
we went toward secesJi. We had the hardest march w^e have 
ever had yet, over twenty miles through mud, swamp and 
cornfield, fording creeks and climbing hills. Officers and 
men gave out, unable to go further. Four captains, ours 
included, and a half a score of lieutenants, gave up and 
still we kept on at a killing pace. At last we came up to 
them. The Twenty-fifth New York was ahead and was 
the first fired on, wdiich they returned with interest. Then 
our brigade and a battery. The rebels, of course, were in 
the woods and we in the field, but they were driven out and 
we drove them over two miles to the north and then turned, 
supposing the fighting was all over. In this we were 
mistaken. A train of cars from the south brought rein- 
forcements to the enemy, and, w^hen our boys were half way 
back, the rebels, six regiments strong, attacked the Forty- 
fourth and Twenty-fifth, which had not joined in the chase. 
They stood their ground well, though they were terribly 
cut Lip, but Butterfield came to the rescue. On came the 
brigade and poured in a fire that quickly caused the dis- 
comfited secesh to beat a retreat. They were totally routed. 
Here then is the amount of the day's work — a forced 
march, three separate fights and three victories, with a loss 
on our side of three hundred and seventy-nine in killed, 
wounded and prisoners — fifty-three killed, over one thou- 
sand rebels ditto, and over two thousand prisoners, North 
Carolina and Georgia troops. The Eighty-third losT; two 
killed and thirteen wounded. Sergeant Hulbert and Frank 
McBride in Company K were both shot in the foot. Ser- 
geant H. loses his foot and Frank his toes, the only casual- 
ties in our company. 


I cannot tell you how I felt that clay. As long as there 
was any prospect of a fight I kept my place in the ranks, 
but when we gave up the chase and turned back to where 
our blankets were left, I fell out to get some water and 
bathe my head. My tongue was swollen with the heat and 
thirst, and I so faint I could hardly stand. I followed on, 
however, but the regiment was some distance ahead. I 
came up to Denny and Henry. Henry could not walk but 
a little way without stopping, and Denny and I waited for 
him and helped him along, but soon we heard the sharp 
rattle of musketry ahead and the third fight had commenced. 
We tried to get Henry along, but finally left him and he 
came on slowly while Denny and I pushed on as fast as 
ive could, but the firing was done when we caught up. The 
regiment \^^as in line in a very large wheat field and the 
rebels in the woods beyond. The balls whisded round us, 
but none touched me, so I am perfectly safe, but I was 
so worn out that I have not felt right since. Night closed 
in and we went back to our blankets and, wrapping up, lay 
down between the rows of corn to sleep. Generals and pri- 
vates alike spent the night on the ground. Morning came, 
and stiff and sore we rose. The work of collecting and 
burying the dead was soon commenced. The woods were 
full of dead rebels who lay, as they fell, in all shapes. They 
were carried out and laid in a ghastly row on the grass. 
One fine looking young man was shot through the heart 
as he was loading his gun. His hands had not changed 
their position, one extended above his head drawing his 
rammer and the other grasping his gun by his side. His 
eyes were open and the expression of his countenance as 
calm as though he was sleeping, but the fearful wound in 
his breast told that he would never wake on earth again. 
We buried over one hundred of them. We spent the day 
in recruiting our exhausted soldiers.^^General Porter gave 
permission to slay and eat, and, if an army ever made 
havoc with an enemy's provisions, we did. We killed all 
the beef, pork, veal, mutton and poultry we could eat and 
carry away. We captured a train of cars loaded with 
supplies for the rebels, and our regiment got over fifteen 


hundred pounds of .^ugar and nearly a ton of splendid 
tobacco, which will all be given to the men. Scccsh knap- 
sacks were scattered everywhere, and our boys, if they could 
have carried away the things, would have got a good many 
comforts, but we could not. We got a good many love let- 
ters, etc., bowie knives and pistols, and I got a great bowie 
out I threw it away, I couldn't carry it. I send you a letter 
that I got in a knapsack, and a seccsh stamp. The letter is 
an excellent specimen of secesh literature and love. I al- 
most wish I had as fond a sweetheart. We retraced that 
long weary march on Thursday night, arriving in camp at 
3 o'clock in the morning. On Saturday night we were 
ordered out at midnight and went out to the Chickahominy. 
We came back yesterday afternoon. Lowe's balloon is up 
in our camp watching the rebels and the report is that they 
are all leaving Richmond. I have heard no firing to-day 
and we are expecting orders to follow them every minute. 
I must close. Goodbye. Write very soon to your brother 
Oliver. Direct Company K, Eighty-third Pennsylvania 
Volunteers, Morell's Division, Porter's Corps, Army before 
Richmond, Va. 

Camp near Nezv Bridge, Va., 

Tuesday, June lo, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The last week or so has been very dull here. Nothmg 
to break the monotony but an occasional artillery duel across 
the Chickahominy, in which the rebels are always worsted. 
Sunday, the day you wrote your letter, was a pretty big 
day on the lines further to the left (Battle of Fair Oaks). 
We lay in our tents and heard the constant war of artillery 
and the rattle of musketry, and, as the sound retreated, we 
knew our boys were driving them. Lowe was up in his bal- 
loon right beside our camp, watching them and telegraphing 
to McClellan just what they were doing. You wanted me 
to tell you something about the large guns. I don't know 
much about artillerv myself, still I might tell you something 
new perhaps. "Parrott guns" are not all of the same size. 
In Battery No. i at Yorktown we had one hundred pound 


Parrotts and Griffin's battery of light artillery has Parrott 
guns of three-inch bore. The peculiarity of this gun is in the 
construction. It is very long and slim and is noted for the 
strength and accuracy of its range. Those guns at York- 
town would throw^ a one hundred-pound shell tw^o miles wdth 
great accuracy. I saw them drop just inside the rebel fort 
time and again. And these field pieces will throw a shell 
eight inches long and three inches in diameter as accurately 
three miles as they will half a mile. Our artillery and our 
artillerists are vastly superior to the rebels, and they are 
well aware of it. But of all the artillery, we have the great- 
est one yet in our regiment. We have a cannon drawn by 
one horse that one man can fire two hundred times a 
minute by merely turning a crank. Every revolution fires 
one ball. It is a curious Yankee contrivance. The cartridges 
are put m a hopper, carried one by one round in a cyFmder, 
shoved into the barrel and fired. It makes a noise like the 
dogs of w^ar let loose. The balls are only a size larger than 
our musket balls, a regular "Mime ball.'' ^Don't you think 
one of those coffee mills w^ould "weed out" a seccsh regiment 
about as quickly as any tools they have? I understand that 
every Pennsylvania regiment in the service is to have them. 
All the Pennsylvania regiments near here have them. 

I have been quite unwell ever since the battle. I got 
overdone. Friday is the first day that I have felt at all like 
myself these two weeks. I think I shall be all right again 

Yesterday w^e had a grand review in honor of the 
Spanish General Prim. You have seen his name in the 
papers lately, I presume, in connection with the tripartite 
intervention in Mexico. He presented quite a contrast to the 
plain dress of "our George," as he rode by in his gold lace 
and trimmings. Well, every nation likes its own style. 
There are many men even in McClellan's staff who dress 
more showily than he does, but they don't command the 
respect. There is hardly a in the army who does not 
know^ George by sight and not a man but likes him. 

I had more fun with some of the darkies at Hanover the 
day after the battle, more than a little. One old fellow 


told me how he acted when our shells began to come where 
he was. Says he, "Dere was 'bout twenty of us plowin' 
and I hearn sumfin' go pop-pop-p-p-pop, and pretty soon 
sumfin' crash, bizz-z-z. right ober my head. I luff dat 
plow right dar and I went in dem woods quicker dan I 
went so far afore. I got dowm behind a log and I thought 
you gemmen \vas a makin' our people run, and I jumped up 
and cried, 'Glory to God!' and just den 'long comes 'nudder 
of dem t'ings, bizz-z-z-z. Golly ! 1 was down on my belly 
agin mi'ty quick. De oberseer run as if de debil was after 
him, but I larfed." 

A man named George Taylor who had inhumanly 
whipped a slave, came into our camp after him and he 
came near losing his life by the operation. He escaped by 
taking the oath of allegiance, but he lost his nigger. Peter 
is now w'ith the colonel of the Twelfth regiment. Our 
camps are full of niggers. They are rapidly taking the 
place of white men as teamsters. They seem well adapted 
to that. 

Richmond is not taken, but we could have taken it two 
week ago if George had wanted it. He wants to end the 
war here and he has not got everything ready yet. There 
is a good time coming yet, boys. 

Camp at Games' Mill, J^a., 
Mo7iday, June 16, 1862. 

Dear Mother:— 

I received your letter of the loth yesterday. I was 
writing at the time and intended to answer yours as soon as 
I finished the one I w^as writing, but a thunder storm came 
up and prevented me. I suppose you would think at home 
that was a singular excuse, but anyone w^io has lived in 
these shelter tents any length of time can appreciate the 
difficulties of writing in a heavy shower, perfectly. The 
wind blow^s and the rain comes down in great drops that 
spatter right through our light canvas tents. It whirls 
round and comes driving in the door, and by the time we 


have something hung up to stop that fun, there is a pretty 
large creek running right through where we want to sleep, 
and as that won't do, why that must be attended to also, 
and so it goes. This is a great country for rain. It rains 
for two days and the next day it rains, and then we have 
some rain and wet weather. For a wonder we had three or 
four very hot days last week, but the rain yesterday after- 
noon was cold and last night we slept cold. Night before 
was very hot and we could not sleep for the heat. 

I feel better this morning than I have in some time 
before. I have been quite unwell since the fight. I got 
ver)^ weak and couldn't eat, but I'm just about all right 
again now. It seems wonderful that I have stood it so well. 

With regard to Captam Austin's complimentary re- 
marks, I presume he was conscientious in what he said, 
but I must say if that was a specimen of his judgment, he 
is a very poor judge of military matters. I think, however, 
that I have done tolerably well in some things. I've been 
in the service over a year now and I've never been "pricked" 
(marked absent without leave) or had any extra duty im- 
posed on me for misconduct. I've never been in the guard- 
house or had any serious difficulties with officers or men. 
The nearest I have come to that was two or three days ago 
when I turned around and struck a fellow a tolerable crack 
in the face for his extra exertions to get his feet entangled 
Avith mine in the ranks. It made some little stir for the 
time being, but the captain did not say a word. I know 
he did not blame me much, but it would not do to say any- 
thing in defense of such conduct in the ranks, and so he said 
nothing. I feel well enough satisfied myself and I have an 
idea that the fellow, who is the veriest bloat and bully in the 
company, will conclude to let me alone. I suppose he thought 
as some others did, because I never wrestle or scuffle or box, 
that I hadn't much spunk, and could be snubbed round by 
a bigger fellow with impunity. I don't know as my temper 
is any better than it used to be, but I control it rather more. 
I suppose you won't think the above is evidence of the fact, 
but my ideas of non-resistance are different from Father's 
and, perhaps, from yours. 


Camp near James River, 

July 4, 1862. 
Dear Friends at Home : — 

I sent a few words to you yesterday just to relieve your 
suspense, and to-day I will write a little more, though, in 
the present condition of my mind and body, worn out by 
fatigue and exposure, you cannot expect much but a dis- 
connected letter. The papers will have told you of the 
strategic movement of McClellan's army, its causes and 
its complete success. All that remains for me to write, and 
all that I can be expected to know is where the Eighty-third 
went and what it did. The fight on the right began on 
Thursday, the 26th of June, and we took all on our backs 
and went out that afternoon but did no fighting. Friday 
morning at daylight we fell back to a position on a stream 
near Gaines' Mill. The rebels soon followed, feeling their 
way along, and at about 2 o'clock the fighting became gen- 
eral along the whole line. Our brigade formed the left flank 
of the line and lay nearest the river. The Eighty-third was 
posted in a deep gully, wooded, and with the stream I men- 
tioned running in front of us. We built a little breastwork 
of logs and had a good position. On the hill behind us the 
Forty-fourth and Twelfth New York and the Sixteenth 
Michigan were posted. When the rebels made the first 
attack, we could not fire a shot, the hill concealing them 
from us, and so we lay still while the bullets of two oppos- 
ing fines whistled over our heads. They were repulsed, but 
only to pour in new troops with greater vigor than before. 
Suddenly I saw two men on the bank in front of us gesticu- 
lating violently and pointing to our rear, but the roar of 
battle drowned their voices. The order was given to face 
about. We did so and tried to form in fine, but while the 
line was forming, a bullet laid low the head, the stay, the 
trust of our regiment — our brave colonel, and before we 
knew what had happened the major shared his fate. We 
were then without a field officer, but the boys bore up bravely. 
They rallied round the flag and we advanced up the hill to 
find ourselves alone. It appears that the enemy broke 
through our fines ofif on our right, and word was sent to us 


on the left to fall back. Those in the rear of us received the 
order but the aide sent to us was shot before he reached us 
and so we got no orders. Henry and Denison were shot 
about the same time as the colonel. I left them together un- 
der a tree.^ I returned to the fight, and our boys were drop- 
ping on all sides of me. I was blazing away at the rascals 
not ten rods of¥ when a ball struck my gun just above the 
lower band as I was capping it, and cut it in two. The ball 
flew in pieces and part went by my head to the right and 
three pieces struck just below my left collar bone. The deep- 
est one was not over half an inch, and stopping to open my 
coat I pulled them out and snatched a gun from Ames in 
Company H as he fell dead. Before I had fired this at all 
a ball clipped off a piece of the stock, and an instant after, 
another struck the seam of my canteen and entered 
my left groin. I pulled it out, and, more maddened than 
ever, I rushed in again. A few minutes after, another ball 
took six inches off the muzzle of this gun. I snatched an- 
other from a wounded man under a tree, and, as I was 
loading kneeling by the side of the road, a ball cut my 
rammer in two as I w^as turning it over my head. Another 
gun was easier got than a rammer so I threw that away 
and picked up a fourth one. Here in the road a buckshot 
struck me in the left eyebrow, making the third slight scratch 
I received in the action. It exceeded all I ever dreamed 
of, it was almost a miracle. Then came the retreat across 
the river ; rebels on three sides of us left no choice but to run 
or be killed or be taken prisoners. We left our all in the 
hollow by the creek and crossed the river to Smith's division. 
The bridge w^as torn up and when I came to the river I 
threw my cartridge box on my shoulder and waded through. 
It was a little more than waist deep. I stayed that night 
with some Sherman boys in Elder Drake's company in the 
Forty-ninth New York. 

Sunday night we lay in a cornfield in the rain, without 
tent or blanket. Monday we went down on the James 
river, lying behind batteries to support them. Tuesday the 
same — six days exposed to a constant fire of shot and shell, 
till almost night, when we went to the front and engaged 

in another fierce conflict witii the enemy. Going on to the 
field, I picked up a tent and slung it across my shoulder. 
The folds of that stopped a ball that would have passed 
through me. I picked it out, put it in my pocket, and, after 
firing sixty rounds of my own and a number of a wounded 
comrade's cartridges, I came off the field unhurt, and ready, 
but not anxious, for another fight. 

Camp near James River, 

July 5, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

The past ten days seem to me more like some fearful 
dream than anything else, and I shall not be able to give 
an intelligent account of what has passed in that time. 

For two weeks previous to the 26th of June I had been 
unfit for duty. On that day the fighting began on the right 
wing. We were marched from place to place, but did not 
fire a gun. We slept in an open field till 3 o'clock a. m., 
Friday, when we fell back with the rest of the right wing 
to a position along the stream at Gaines' Mill. The enemy 
followed soon after daylight and the fight recommenced. 
Butterfield's brigade formed the left flank of our line. 
We were told that the retreat was a feint to draw the enemy 
into a trap and that we were to hold our present position. 
The Eighty-third was posted in a gully on this stream, and 
on the hill behind us the Forty-fourth and Twelfth New 
York and Sixteenth Michigan formed the second line, in 
position to fire over our heads. The enemy came up and 
were twice repulsed with terrible loss, but only to return 
with renewed vigor. It was a singular situation of ours — 
lying in the hollow with the balls of two opposing lines fly- 
ing over our heads, but we were cool, and confident of vic- 
tory. Suddenly we found out that the enemy was firing on 
us from the rear, and instantly all was confusion, but only 
for a moment. Our men faced about, formed, and advanced 
on them, and then commenced a scene such as I hope never 
to see again. It appears that the enemy broke through the 
line somewhere on our right. The order was sent for our 
brigade to fall back across the river, but the aide sent to our 


regiment was shot and we did not receive the order. The 
rest of the brigade was gone and we left alone to fight a 
brigade of the enemy. Our colonel fell dead at the first 
fire and the major immediately after. Our senior captain 
was shot and we were almost without officers. My two tent 
mates were wounded, and after that, they tell me, I acted 
like a madman. God only knows why or how I came out 
alive. I had three guns shot to pieces in my hands, a ram- 
mer shot in two, and I was struck in three places by balls. 
One that cut my gun in two lodged in my left shoulder, one 
went through my canteen and struck my left leg, and one 
just grazed my left eyebrow. The deepest was not over 
half an inch and is almost well now. 

We were surrounded on three sides and at last we re- 
treated and crossed the river. The bridge was torn up, 
and when I got to the river I threw my cartridge box on my 
shoulder and waded through the water up to my armpits. 
We left our knapsacks and our all in the hollow where we 
first formed line, and everything was lost. Blankets, tents 
and everything, fell into the enemy's hands. I had $1.50 
in stamps, a lot of paper and envelopes, gold pen, ink, $5 in 
money (all I had, except a little change) and other articles 
that money could not buy, but all are gone now. We have 
only such things as we could pick up here and there to keep 
us from the storms. Our regiment lost in that bloody field 
two hundred and thirty-six killed, wounded and prisoners, 
and our colonel and major. The papers have told you 
about the falling back of the army to the James river, and^ 
you know more of this probably than I do. I only know 
where we went and what we did, and not much about 
that. The fight reached us again on Monday. \Wq were 
ordered out to support our batteries, and through Monday 
and Tuesday we were constantly exposed to the shells and 
grape of the enemy.* About sundown Tuesday night the 
remnant of our brigade went out again to the front, f Here 
the rebels swarmed out of the woods, seemingly without end, 
and though again and again repulsed, and the field piled 

*Note. — Battles of White Oak Swamp and Glendale. 
tA^of£'.— Battle' of Malvern Hill. 


with their dead by the deadly fire of our rities and showers 
of grape, they still came on, determined to drive us from 
our position, but they could not do it. Night finally put an 
end to the roar of the musketry and artillery, and we still 
held our position. Our regiment, after firing an hour and 
using all their ammunition, was relieved by a regiment of the 
Irish brigade (God bless them !) and we fell back. Sergeant 
Wittich of Company I went out twenty rods in front of our 
line and brought off a stand of rebel colors. Our last cor- 
poral, Walter Ames, who brought the colors safely ofif the 
bloody field of Gaines' Mill, was shot through the heart 
w^hile waving them in front of our lines in this last fight. 

As we were going on to the field Tuesday night 1 
picked up a tent that had been dropped and slung it across 
my shoulder. That tent stopped a ball that otherwise would 
have entered my heart, and after firing seventy rounds I came 
out still unhurt. It seems to me almost a miracle that I 
am yet alive and able to write. But we have had hard 
times. We were marched ofif at midnight, where, we knew 
not or cared not, but we took the road down the river 
and marched some ten miles. It commenced raining hard 
at daylight and continued all day, and now, here we are, 
somewhere on the James river, just where I don't know, 
but where I hope v/e will rest a little. 

It is again clear and warm, and our little regiment num- 
bering one hundred and ten m.en is beginning to feel a 
little refreshed. We have not had half rations for some 
time, but now they begin to come more regularly. The box 
you were so kind as to send me I never expect to see. I am 
afraid it was destroyed at White House. I am. sorry for 
your sake that you could not have the satisfaction of know- 
ing that it reached its destination, and I do not doubt that 
[ should have done full justice to your bounty if I could have 
received it, but such are the fortunes of war ; and, if I can 
only get plenty of hard tack, I believe I shall come out 
all right yet. I appreciate your kindness as much as if I 
had received it. 

I received a letter from Father yesterday. Our folks 
were all in good health and thankful for my escape at 


Hanover Court House. I thought that was a battle, but 
now it seems like a mere skirmish. 

1 received your letter last Sunday, but you will readily 
see why I could not answer it before. Yesterday was the 
first that we could write at all, and I thought I must write 
home first and to the parents of my two tent mates, who 
have no other acquaintance in the regiment. I hope you will 
write again as soon as you can. I love to get your letters 
always and particularly at such a time as this. Address 
ds before, "Army before Richmond.'' 

Camp near Harrison s Bar, James River, 
Monday, July j, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have missed your letters very much, especiallv for the 
last two weeks, and I have thought that you might write 
oftener. I am very lonely now. My two most intimate 
friends, Henry and Denison, were both wounded on the 
bloody field of Gaines' Mill on the 27th of June, and left 
on the field to the tender mercies of the rebels. Henry, I 
fear, I never shall see again. He was badly wounded, and 
everyone in the company except myself thinks he is dead, 
and I am hoping against hope. Denny was shot through 
the left hand, and I left them under a tree together. If I 
should tell you of the narrow escapes I had, you, who know^ 
so little of the dangers of the battle, would hardly be able 
to believe me. Three guns, one after another, were shot 
to pieces in my hands, and one of these was struck twice 
before I threw it away. My canteen was shot through, and 
I was struck in three places by balls, one over the left eye, 
one in the left shoulder, and one in the left leg, and the 
deepest wound was not over half an mch, and I came off the 
field unhurt. God only knows how or why I escaped, but 
so it was, and though I lost my knapsack containing my 
little all, I lived "to fis^ht another day." Saturday night 
I slept in a corn field in a rain storm with no shelter but 
the clouds and no bed but the furrow. Sunday night what 
little sleep I got was on a log in the White Oak Swamp. 
Monday afternoon I was with the regiment supporting a 


battery on a hill near the James river, and exposed to 
a heavy fire of shot and shell. Tuesday forenoon we lay 
in the woods till the rebels made it so hot it was safer in the 
open field, and towards night we again went to the front 
and had another terrible fight. A tent over my shoulder 
stopped a ball that was speeding straight for my heart, and 
thus again my life was saved. But I am now alone and 
the next fight may lay me low with my comrades. 

The report sent in from our regiment yesterday gives 
the names of four hundred and fifty-two killed, wounded and 
missing in our regiment. Think of that for one regiment ! 
Four hundred and fifty-two out of less than six hundred 
that went into the fight on Friday. Colonel McLane was 
shot at almost the first fire, and died without a struggle 
or a word. Major Naghel followed him an instant after, 
and our two senior captains were shot during the action. 
The third one who then took command was wounded, and 
can only get round now by the help of a horse. I have 
nothing to say of how the regiment fought. It is not my 
place, but I am not ashamed yet of the Eighty-third. 

What the result of all this fighting will be, I cannot say. 
The rebels undoubtedly will claim a great victory, as they 
always do, generally with far less foundation than they 
now have. McClellan has succeeded in withdrawing his 
army from a position they could not hold to one that they 
can hold where his flanks are protected by gunboats and his 
supplies cannot be cut off. What the rebels have gained 
I cannot see, except the ability to boast that they have 
driven McClellan's army. Their loss is certainly much 
greater than ours and includes their best General ''Stone- 
wall" Jackson. "^ They have but little to boast of. 

Harrison's Landing, James River, Va., 

Wednesday, July p, 1862. 
Dear Father : — 

Having leisure to-day and knowing that you are glad 
to hear from me often in these troublous times, I will 

*Notc. — This is an error. Jackson was killed at Chancellors- 



write a little, though there is nothing of much interest to 

As for myself, I have great reason to be thankful that it is 
as well with me as it is. The final report of our loss gives 
the names of four hundred and fifty-two killed, wounded 
and missing in our regiment. This seems like a fearful loss, 
as we went into the fight on the 27th with less than six 
hundred men. Of the small number who remain, not half 
are strong enough to stand a march of ten miles. A great 
many are sick, not very sick, but worn out, weak, and 
unable to endure full duty. Last night the President was 
here, and our brigade was out in full strength for a review. 
Every man who could carry his gun one hundred rods was 
out, and while we were waiting we stacked arms, and our 
regiment had thirty-two stacks, or one hundred and twenty- 
eight men out. If ordered out for a march not m^ore than 
one hundred of these could go. This will give you an idea 
of how we are reduced. I am as well oi¥, I think, as any 
one in the regiment. I am not as strong as I might be, 
but I charge it to the weakening eflfect of the hot weather 
as much as anything.^ I am entirely free from that bane 
of the soldier, diarrhea, etc., from which so many sufifer. 
Hundreds of our soldiers have not seen a day in six months 
when they were what I should consider well. My weight 
is only 117 pounds, but what there is of me is bone and 
muscle. I attribute my good health in part to my constant 
use of woolen drawers and shirts. I never have gone with- 
out them a day since I have been in the service. I have now 
but one pair of drawers ; one pair and One of the shirts you 
got for me when I first enlisted were left in my knapsack. 
They wore like iron. x\nother cause of sickness among 
our men is spending too much on the sutler. His wares are 
generally of a kind that do more harm than good. I have 
spent but very little with him for eatables, and though 
our diet is a constant succession of the same articles, and 
these not very tempting, I believe it is the best plan to live 
on our rations alone. The climate and exposure, with the 
bad water, are enough to contend against. SomiCtimes we 
have excellent water, and again we can get nothing but 


roily swamp water. 1 have drunk a good deal of water that 
at home would have turned my stomach, hut in such cir- 
cumstances I drink as little as possible, and make it into 
coffee. We usually have plenty of coffee and sugar when 
we can get our rations. 

I am very anxious to know how the call for more troops 
will be responded to. It seems to me all important that the 
people should rise immediately. A week's hesitancy may 
bring results terrible to contemplate. It seems to me that 
nothing but such a show of our power and purpose to put 
a speedy end to the rebellion as will awe the European 
powders and force them to respect us can save us from for- 
eign intervention and a war that no one can see the end of. 
There is no use in grumbling at this secretary and that 
general while w^e let things take the course they are now 
taking. McClellan should have been reinforced when he 
called for more troops. If he had been listened to and 
supported, Richmond would have been ours before this, and 
the backbone of the rebellion broken. There is a fearful 
responsibility on the shoulders of the men who have denied 
his requests and forced him to his present position. I don't 
pretend to know wdio is to blame about the matter, but some- 
one is. No one in the army thinks of blaming McClellan. 
His men have the fullest confidence in his ability to do all 
that any living man can do with the force at his disposal, 
but anyone who saw how the rebels fouglit at Malvern 
Hill on Tuesday, and saw^ them pour five different lines of 
fresh troops against our one, can tell why he does not take 
Richmond. We are not whipped and cannot be, but we 
are obliged to take the defensive instead of the offensive 
in our fighting. The rebels are before us in such over- 
whelming numbers that I cannot see how it is possible for 
us to take Richmond without a great increase of our pres- 
ent force. We must have it or give up all. 

I understand that an effort is being made to have us 
sent to Erie to recruit. I see but one objection and that 
is this — there are a great many regiments as badly or 
nearly as badly cut up as ours. To send them away will 
w^eaken our force here, already far too small. But we are 


not in condition to be effective at present and I am not 
sure but it would be best under the circumstances. Men 
who enlist would much rather enlist in a regiment that has 
been tried and earned a name than in a new regiment, 
and, if we were in Erie, had a camp and were drilling so 
that men could see the regiment and knew what they were 
going into, we would get ten men where we could one by 
staying here and sending out recruiting officers. I don't 
know, I am sure, what is best, but I hope something will be 
done soon. 

I have not heard anything from E. in a long time. 
I expect that when the call is made and recruiting com- 
mences in your vicinity, he will want to enlist, but don't 
let him. I am convinced he never would stand it. His 
looks may be stouter than mine, but he has not the endur- 
ance, and if he should enlist he would be sorry for it after- 
wards. One representative from the family will do. It 
is more than probable that I shall not outlive the war, and 
you will want him left. Now that sounds selfish, I know, 
but I cannot help it. I don't want him in the army. If I 
could just have taken him for one hour from home and 
put him on the field at Gaines' Mill on Friday, it would 
have banished all thoughts of enlisting from his mind in- 
stanter. Let him see a ditch half full of dead and wounded 
men piled on each other ; let him see men fall all round him 
and hear them beg for water; let him see one-quarter of 
the awful sights of the battlefield, and he would be content 
to keep away. This may be a weak spot in me, but I 
cannot help it. I feel as though I could not have him 
enlist. I presume he thinks he has a hard time where he is, 
but if he only knew the truth he would never want to 

It is past time for me to get dinner, and still I am 
writing. I only thought of writing a short letter, but this 
would hardly be called very short. 

We are getting some new things in place of those we 
lost — new blankets, pants, shirts, socks, blouses, haversacks, 
etc., are furnished as fast as possible. 

I hope we shall get our pay soon. Two months pay is 

due and I liave not a dollar left. A dollar here is not more 
than twenty-five cents at home. Write to me as soon as 
you can. 

P. S. — Wicks is well. Not a word from Henry or Denny 

Harrisoji's Landing, James River, Va., 

Sunday, July /j, 1S62. 
Dear Brother and Sister : — 

The morning inspection is over, and as I have not much 
to do for the rest of the day I will spend a portion of the 
time in writing to you. though I have no letter to answer. 

We have no preaching to-day. Our chaplain (Elder 
Flower) has resigned and gone home, and I don't think the 
most pious man in the regiment is at all sorry. The great 
thunderer who was so conspicuous at all the war meetings, 
and who "expected" to go with us ''to pray for us, to 
preach to us, and to fight with us," has proved a miserable 
failure. He has not preached one-fourth of the time when 
he might just as well as not, and as to fighting with us, 
when the shells began to fly and the balls to hiss around, 
he always concluded that fighting was not in his line of 
business. I don't say it was, but one would naturally 
expect a little show of pluck from a minister of the gospel 
who was so wonderfully courageous and war-like way up 
in Erie. He might at least have been round with some 
cheering word for a mortally wounded or dying soldier ; but, 
ah no, such men are always lying too close to bursting 
shells and such things, for a chaplain to risk his precious life 
for his country. I may be severe, but it is just as I feel, 
and I am glad he is gone, for w^e may in time get a live 
man for a chaplain. I warrant you, when he gets home he 
will have some big stories to tell about the Eighty-third 
fighting, but if you sec or hear him, just ask him how 
much he saw of it. Ask him where he was at the battle of 
Malvern Hill. 

A short distance from where I am writing was where 
President Harrison was born. His father and mother are 
buried here, and all this section was once his estate. It is 


now owned by a man in Richmond by the name of Carter, 
I beheve. He left the house in charge of the darkies, with 
orders to burn it if the Yankees came, but they didn't 
obey orders, and in and around the old mansion some 
eighteen hundred sick and wounded soldiers are now quar- 

We had a review by moonlight a few nights ago. "Old 
Abe" was down here to see the army, and he did not get 
round to us till 9 o'clock at night, but it was beautiful moon- 
light, and as he went gallopmg past, riding beside "Little 
Mac," everyone could tell him by his "stovepipe hat'' and his 
unmilitary acknowledgment of the cheers which every- 
where greeted him. His riding I can compare to nothing 
else than a pair of tongs on a chair back, but notwithstand- 
ing his grotesque appearance, he has the respect of the 
army! But the man in the army is "Little Mac." No gen- 
eral could ask for greater love and more unbounded con- 
fidence than he receives from his men, and the confidence 
is mutual. He feels that he has an army he can depend on 
to do all that the same number of men can do anywhere. 
He is everywhere among ''his boys," as he calls them, and 
everywhere he is received with the most unbounded en- 
thusiasm. He was here yesterday about noon. The boys 
were getting dinner or lounging about under the trees, 
smoking, reading or writing, when we heard a roar of dis- 
tant cheers away down the road a mile or more. ''Little 
Mac's a-coming" was on every tongue. "Turn out the guard 
— General McClellan,'' called the sentrv' on the road. The 
guard paraded and the men flocked to the roadside. He 
came riding along on his "Dan Webster," by the way as 
splendid a horse as you ever saw. He rode slowly, looking 
as jovial and hearty as if he could not be more happy. 
Up go the caps, and three rousing cheers that make the 
old woods ring, greet the beloved leader of the Army of 
the Potomac. He raises his cap in graceful acknowledge- 
ment of the compliment, and so he passes along. Those 
cheers always give notice of his approach. He speaks an 
occasional encouraging word, and the men return to their 
occupations more and more devoted to the flag and their 


leader. But what have they to say to the men who have 
been using their influence to prevent his being reinforced, 
to secure his defeat, and in some way to so prolong the war 
as to make the aboHtion of slavery a military necessity? 
Curses loud and deep are heaped on such men. Old Greeley 
would not live twenty-four hours if he should come here 
among the army. I used to be something of an abolitionist 
myself, but I've got so lately that I don't believe it is 
policy to sacrifice everything to the nigger. Such a policy 
as Greeley advocates, of letting this army be defeated for 
the purpose of making the people see that slavery must be 
abolished before we could end the war, I tell you is "played 
out." Ten thousand men have been sacrificed to that idea 
now, and the remainder demand that some other policy be 
adopted henceforth. We want that three hundred thousand 
men raised and sent down here immediately. We want them 
drafted if they won't volunteer. We want the men who 
have property to furnish the government with the means to 
carry on the war. We want such a force sent here that 
the whole thing can be finished up by fall. W^e've been 
fooling about this thing long enough, and now we want a 
change. No more playing at cross purposes by jealous 
generals, no more incompetent or traitorous officials. The 
army demands and the people demand such a vigorous 
prosecution of the war as shall give some hope of ending 
it some time or other. McClellan must be reinforced suf- 
ficiently to enable him to do something more than keep at 
bay three times his force. That will never conquer the 
South. W^e must take the offensive and destroy their army 
and take their capital. When this is done, the clouds will 
begin to break. 

We are doing nothing but lying still now. The weather 
is so warm that nothing can be done in the middle of the 

We get plenty of hard tack, bacon, salt pork and coffee 
and sugar, and we have learned to be content with that. 
Some new troops (Thirty-second Massachusetts) that ar- 
rived here a few days ago, thought they had pretty hard 
fare — "they hadn't seen any soft bread for three days." 


We are getting some new things in place of those we 
lost at Gaines' Mill. We have got new blankets, haver- 
sacks, blouses, pants, shoes, socks and shirts, and requisi- 
tions are sent in for tents, knapsacks, canteens, etc., in fact, 
everything we need. But we never will get what we lost 
in our knapsacks, 

I received a letter from Uncle Newell a few days ago 
and he said the story was circulated in Sherman some time 
ago that I was to be shot for deserting. W'hat do you 
think of that? Had you heard much about it? I hadn't. 
I didn't even know that I had been courtmartialed. 

There has been som.e talk lately of the possibility of 
our being sent to Erie to fill up our regiment and reorganize. 
The officers got up a request to that effect, and it was signed 
by Generals Butterfield, Morell, Porter and McClellan. and 
sent to the Secretary of W'ar and Governor Curtin, but I 
have not much of an idea that it will be granted. We may be 
sent somewhere to guard prisoners or something of that 
sort, till recruits are raised to fill up our regiment again, 
but I don't believe we will see Erie till the war is over. 
The bands are to be discharged and I presume Alfred Ayres 
will be home soon. 

Harrison's Landing, James River, Va., 

Friday, July i8, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — • 

I never was much of a believer in signs and wonders, 
lucky and unlucky days and things of that kind, but you 
know what a bad reputation Friday has, and how many there 
are ready to believe all that is said of it. Well, just see 
what an unlucky day it has been for me. The first note 
of the reveille this morning started me to m.y feet (for I'm 
a bugler, you know, and have to give the regimental calls) 
feeling better than I have for a week before. The mail 
came after breakfast and three letters for me, yours, one 
from my comrade Bushnell's mother, and one from Father. 
I had not heard from him since he got my first letter after 
the battle. I sat down to answer my letters and had just 
finished one to Father, when one of the boys came along 


saying — "Norton, you're always in iuck. I just brought 
up a box from the landing with something on the cover that 
looked like your name." "Where is it?" "Major's tent — 
came by express." Well, it was not in the major's tent long, 
and it would have made you laugh to hear the remarks 
made from the time I came into the street with it till we 
found wdiat was in the bottom. I was as much astonished 
as any of them, for I never expected to see it, and now let 
no one after this say anything to me about unlucky Fri- 
days. If they do, you know how I can stop them. Con- 
trary to your expectation, everything in the box was in 
good condition. Your judgment was admirably shown in 
the selection of articles — just such as were of real utility 
and would not spoil by a little delay. With all respect for 
your husband and Aunt A.'s, I believe the ladie-: of the 
family had just as much to do about it as they had, though 
you labored so hard to make me think it was some "stran- 
gers" I had never seen. The pineapple cheese was the great 
curiosity though. Many of the boys brought up in a dairy 
country had never seen one. They are not made so ex- 
tensively of late except in large dairies. "Don't drop that 
percussion shell or you'll blow your box and contents into 
the river," said one fellow, and another was going to re- 
port me for "leaving fixed ammunition exposed." I'm not 
sure but it is a good thing, or rather I am sure it is, that 
I did not get it while I was at Gaines' Mill. If I had, I 
should have lost the most of it, but if the rebels get any 
share of it now, I shall miss my guess entirely. Please re- 
turn my thanks to those who united with you in conferring 
so acceptable a present on me and my comrades (for you 
know I can't sit dowm and eat a meal with the embellish- 
ments, as the boys say, and not share with them). 

It seems strange how much the rest of our company 
has become united since the battles. They are almost like 
brothers in one family now^ We used to have the "aristo- 
cratic tent" and "tent of the upper ten," and so on, but there 
is nothing of that kind now. We have all lost dear friends 
and common sorrow^ makes us all equal. _ 


Your account of the interest that is taken in reading my 
letters is beginning to scare me. Young ladies from Boston 
must see them, and others that I don't know, beside the 
whole circle of relatives. Don't you think I had better put 

at the top as the Herald does — "Daily circulation 

thousand?" You can fill up the blank. You know how 
many better than I do. Really, I am getting to be a celebrity. 
But 1 have about made up my mind that I shan't risk my 
reputation by coming to New York after the war. Down 
on the Peninsula here I excite quite a sensation in Gotham 
just by writing letters, but one day's personal acquaintance 
would dispel the illusion, and I would be nothing but a com- 
mon "soger," and a very rough specimen at that. If I only 
had shoulder straps, now, with an eagle or a star on, why, 
it might be worth while to be talked about, but do these 
young ladies know that all there is on the shoulders of my 
blouse is a threadbare spot where the musket rubs? But 
really, if anyone wants to read my letters, and you are 
willing to have it known that you have such a rattle-brained 
correspondent, I have no objections. I can understand how 
my own relatives should take an interest in me for my 
mother's sake, but how strangers should want to see my next 
letter, I can't see. How much longer do you think I could 
draw out a thread on that subject without breaking it? 
I think I'll drop it before it gets any finer. 

The stamps you sent were another most acceptable gift 
just at this time. I had been studying for some days to 
contrive some way to get along till pay day. But our boys 
are all in the same fix as myself — terribly short. I thought 
I should have to stop writing or send home for some money, 
and I did not want to do either, but "unlucky Friday" settles 
it. I find paper and envelopes in the box, and stamps in the 
letter. No one who has not been in the situation knows how 
relieved I felt. 

Well, I must bring my letter to a close. I have got to go 
half a mile for water and by the time I get back it will 
be time for dress parade. "All is quiet on the James," very 
quiet. Please write soon. 



Harrison's Landing, James River, Va., 

Saturday, July 26, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister : — • 

General Porter's corps, which is quite an army of itself, 
is now encamped on the large wheat field of the Westover 
estate. The Pennsylvania Reserve of thirteen regiments, 
three batteries and a regiment of cavalry Ues next to us on 
the north. Morell's division of fifteen regiments, three 
batteries and two regiments of cavalry lies next to them, 
and between us and the river is the camp of the regulars 
under Sykes. All these troops belong to General Porter's 
corps. You may guess that with their tents and all the 
baggage wagons and horses, cannon and ammunition wag- 
ons, this field is pretty well filled up. Through all the camps 
there is constant activity. The men are cleaning up their 
arms or cooking round the fire, sitting on the ground eating 
their hard tack and sipping their black coffee. Little squads 
are marching about drilling or going through their inspec- 
tion, which takes place twice a day. Every thing is kept in 
tip top order, ready for a fight at a moment's notice. And 
then, if you could see the road — it looks like the road near 
a. county fair ground, full of teams from morning till night, 
long trains of wagons that are a curiosity in themselves, 
great covered wagons as large as two of our lumber wagons, 
with six mules, and a driver riding the near pole mule and 
guiding his team with one line. These things would all 
amuse you, but I have seen so many of them that they have 
lost their interest, ^'s 

I suppose this is the height of the haying season at home. 
Mowing machines are rattling over the meadows, and the 
barns are filling up, but I see nothing like that here. Grain 
fields are turned into camping grounds and the cavalry 
horses harvest the wheat. War makes sad work with the 
country it passes over. 

You ask me how I felt when the battle commenced, if 
I feared I should fall, etc. That is a very hard question 
to answer. In the fight at Gaines' Mill I had lain in the 
w^oods almost all day waiting for them before I saw a rebel. 
They had been shelling us all the time, and occasionally a 


shell would burst within a few feet of me and startle me 
a little, but we had so strong a position and felt so certain 
of driving the rebels off that I was anxious to have them 
come on. The last words I heard Colonel ^IcLane say 
were, ''You'll see enough of them before night, boys." His 
words proved too true. W'e had but little to do with re- 
pulsing them, for they did not come within range of our 
guns either time, but we could hear the firing, and, when 
the cheers of our men announced their victory, a feeling of 
exultation ran through our minds. "Come on," we thought, 
"we'll show you how freemen fight," but when they at- 
tacked us so unexpectedly in the rear, my feelings changed. 
Surprise at first and a wonder how they could get there, 
and then, when the truth flashed through my mind that they 
had broken through our lines, a feeling of shame and indig- 
nation against the men who would retreat before the enemy. 
Then, when the colonel was killed and Henry and Denny 
wounded, I felt some excited. I was stronger than I had 
been before in a month and a kind of desperation seized 
me. Scenes that would have unnerved mc at other times 
had no effect. I snatched a gun from the hands of a man 
who was shot through the head, as he staggered and fell. 
At other times I would have been horror-struck and could 
not have moved, but then I jumped over dead men with as 
little feeling as I would over a log. The feeHng that was 
uppermost in my mind was a desire to kill as m.any rebels 
as I could. The loss of comrades maddened me, the balls 
flew past me hissing in the air, they knocked my guns to 
splinters, but the closer they came they seemed to make me 
more insensible to fear. I had no time to think of anything 
but my duty to do all I could to drive back the enemy, and 
it was not duty that kept me there either, but a feeling that 
I had a chance then to help put down secession and a deter- 
mination to do my best, ^ly heart was in the fight, and 
I couldn't be anywhere else. I told you it was hard to de- 
scribe one's feeling in a battle, and it is. No one can ever 
know exactly till he has been through it. In the fight at 
Malvern Hill my feelings were a little different. The mem- 
ory of the scenes of the past few days was fresh in my mind, 


and as I marchetl up the hill that concealed us from the 
enemy, I must admit I felt a reluctance, rather a fear of 
going in. We were so worn out by excitement, fatigue, and 
want of sleep, that there was not the spirit in the movement 
of the men that usually characterized them, but there was 
the bitter determination to do or die. We would not falter, 
let the consequences be what they might. Butterfield and 
Grififin dashed here and there, cheering on the men — "Go 
in, my gallant Eighty-third, and give 'em h — 1," yelled 
Butterfield as he dashed along the line, and his inspiring 
manner cheered the men up. We rushed over the hill on the 
double quick and there were the rebels. Column behind 
column was swarming out of the woods and advancing on 
us. Ten times our number were opposed to us. There were 
so many that they had not room to deploy, but came up in 
close column. Their intention evidently was to send such 
an overwhelming force against us, that, if we killed twice 
our number, there would be enough left to drive us from 
the field and capture our batteries. They were perfectly 
reckless of life and bent on driving us off, cost what it 
might. We went part way down the hill to meet them, 
so that our artillery could fire over us, then we waited for 
them. The hill behind us was covered with cannon in two 
rows and as they advanced our artillerists poured in such 
deadly charges of grape that it was more than any troops 
could stand. Each discharge would mow a swath through 
their lines, from five to eight feet wide. Still they closed 
up their ranks and came on till they met our fire, and then 
they wavered. We poured it into them as fast as we could 
load and fire, and I tell you my fear was gone then. I felt 
exultant. We cheered and cheered and shouted our watch- 
word — "Remember McLane," and the rebels, disheartened, 
fell back. Butterfield's expression of "give 'em hell" was 
not inapt. It w^as more like the work of fiends than that of 
human beings. The roar of the artillery, the rattling of 
musketry and the unearthly screaming of the great two-foot 
shells from the gunboats made such music as is only fit for 
demons, and the appearance of the men was scarcely human. 
The sweat rolled in streams, for there is nothing like fighting 


to heat a man's blood, and as the men wiped their faces 
with powder-grimed or bloody hands, they left the most 
horrible looking countenances you ever saw. But no one 
cared for looks or sound. That roar of artillery was the 
sweetest music I ever heard, for it carried death and terror 
to the enemies of our country and our flag-. I said the rebels 
retreated — they fell back out of range of our infantry, 
formed again and again came up. Fiercer grew the conflict 
and our excitement rose with it. Our men fell thick and 
fast, and wounded men were all the time crawling to the rear, 
but we did not heed them. We sat there and fought till 
our ammunition was gone and we had to fill up from the 
boxes of our dead and wounded comrades, and still we had 
no thought of leaving, but another brigade relieved us and 
we retired. Then came the reaction. I must say that the 
time when one feels the horrors of war most keenly is after 
the battle, not before it or in it. 

Camp at Harrison's Landing, Va., 

Thursday, Jnly ji, 1862. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

Though everything in the box was very acceptable and 
we enjoyed it all so much, still I do not want to have you 
send another. If my health continues as good as it has 
been almost all the time I have been in the service, I can 
get along first-rate on Uncle Sam's rations. Almost every- 
thing we get is of good quality, and though there is nothing 
very nice or tempting to the appetite in the whole list, still 
it is good and wholesome food, and I do not wish to put you 
to the trouble or expense of sending me anything more 
when I can do very well without it, especially after all you 
have done for me now. There are so many poor fellows 
sick and wounded who are suffering in our hospitals, to 
whom such delicacies would be so acceptable, that I should 
feel guilty, feel as though I was receiving what they needed 
more than I, if I should allow you to send so much to me 
when I am sound and well, and very well able to get along 
on what the government furnishes. I know the ladies of New 
York and Brooklyn are doing all they can for the soldiers 


and I have no doubt that you are doing much that I 
never hear of, but I would rather you would give them what 
you would otherwise send to me than to receive it myself 
under the circumstances. They may be all strangers to you, 
but they are Uncle Sam's boys, and so cousins, are they not? 
— and they are brave and gallant boys that the fortunes of 
war have brought to suffering. The ladies are doing all they 
can for them, but there are more coming every day, and 
when you have done, isn't there always room for something 
more? Please, then, don't send another l)ox, not because 
I do not appreciate your kind intentions in doing so much 
to make the hardships of camp life easier for me, but be- 
cause I do not really need it. 

In regard to money, too ; when we are paid off I gener- 
ally send most of my wages home, reserving what I think 
I shall need to last till we are paid again. Sometimes it 
happens that it don't hold out, the paymaster don't come at 
the expected time, and I get short and have to do without. 
I could get money by sending to Erie for it, but it seems 
just about like throwing it away to take it out of the bank 
and give it to those army sharks, the sutlers. It is so now. 
Our pay has been due a month, but it does not come yet. 
We are expecting it, and so I don't send for any. Money is 
well enough off at home, but it isn't of much account here. 
I must and will have enough to write all the letters T want ; 
that is something I will not deny myself. I would rather 
receive a good letter any time than anything else I get 
here, and they don't come unless I write. And then I spend 
considerable time in writing that I should not know what 
else to do with. So, as to the money that Aunt Buckingham 
sent, if that must come, I would like to have you send me 
a gold pen. Ask Ollie, when he is over some time, to get 
as good a one of Morton's as he can for $1.25 or $1.50 and 
send the rest in stamps. That will be just what I want 
most for writing. I lost a good pen in my knapsack, and 
since that I have had to get along as I could. 

Won't you send me Aunt B.'s address when you write 
next time? I think I had it once, but I have forgotten, and 
I would like to write one letter to her. 


It is no use for me to try to pick those bones with you, 
for I would have to give up before I was half convinced. 
I can dispute and "argufy" with a man and ''hoe my row," 
but I never quarrelled with a woman yet but I got the 
worst of it. I have almost a mind to pick up the second 
bone, though. It is a misfortune of mine to know no better 
than to write sometimes just as though I meant it and then 
expect that people will know that I don't mean any such 
thing. L. says she never knows, when I am talking, whether 
I am in earnest or not, and I suppose it's just so with my 
writing. But I would not insult you by writing, for any- 
thing more than a little pleasantry, such absurd ideas. I 
have always thought, since I had any ideas about it, that 
money or rank could not make a man of the person who 
would not be a man without either, and that, if I was 
just as much of a man as another would be stripped of his 
wealth and titles, I was just as much of a man anyway, 
but don't you believe the money was to me as the "sour 
grapes" were to the fox. Paper is full and I must stop. 
Write soon as you can. 

Harrison's Landing, Va., 
Friday, August i, 1862. 
Dear Father: — 

I was very glad to learn that there is some prospect 
of your being appointed chaplain for our regiment. I sup- 
pose the appointments are made by the Governor on the 
recommendation of the officers of the regiment. If Colonel 
C. favors your appointment, I think there will be no diffi- 
culty about the other officers. My opinion is that the ma- 
jority of them care but little who is chaplain, or whether there 
is any or not. Unless some of them have some other per- 
son in view, I have no doubt they will all sign the recom- 
mendation. You will find the duties of chaplain very differ- 
ent from that of pastor of a church. There will be no dea- 
cons or active sympathizing brethren to "hold up your U 
hands." You will have the whole management of the spirit- ! 
ual concerns of the regiment. The officers will neither aid nor 
oppose you, but. expect you to attend to your duties while 


they do theirs. I do not know that there is a professor of 
rehgion among them, unless I except Lieutenant Colonel 
Campbell, who I have heard is a Presbyterian. Your charge 
will be a hard one, a motley assemblage of all sorts of 
characters, among whom the name of God is used much 
oftener than he is thought of. One thing I have noticed, 
however, and that is that profane swearing and card playing 
are not near so prevalent lately. I do not attribute this to 
any thought of the sin of these practices. There were many 
when we first entered the service, who, when they found 
themselves away from the restraints of society and home, 
let loose their tongues and indulged in swearing till they 
could scarcely utter a sentence without an oath. One night 
when we lay at Hampton, I listened to a couple of fellows 
in" our company awhile, and finally spoke. "Boys," said I, 
"I think if you keep on you will make first-rate swearers. 
I've heard you use fifty-nine oaths in about ten minutes." 
"Is that so?" said one. "Yes," said I, and they stopped 
talking at once. One of them told me since we came here, 
that he had broken himself of the habit entirely. He was 
getting ashamed of it. 

I am g-lad Horatio is doing so well. Poor fellow, I 
pity him. I think of him very often, and hope you \vill keep 
me informed how he gets along. 

My health continues first-rate yet. If we march I shall 
stand it as w^ell as any, I think. I shall have no gun to carry. 
I have no use for one now, and mine was given to a man 
who came back from the hospital. I have made up my 
mind that I shall not carry one while I am not required to, 
for if we get in any place where I need one there is never 
any difficulty in getting one. 

Harrison s Landing, James River, Va., 

Saturday, August 2, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

We have had very dull times for a long while, at least 
dull to us. Very little drill or other duty, no picket duty or 
trenching, and not much of anything doing to create any 
excitement at all. Night before last, however, we had a 


little bit of an entertainment, just by way of variety, that 
stirred us up a little for the time being. 

^ We are lying on a point of land formed by a bend m 
the river, and this point is just as thickly studded with camps 
as it can be, clear to the river's edge. The river is full of 
transports, steamers, tugs and all kinds of craft, and 
beyond them, in a long black line, the gunboats usually he 
guarding the other craft and acting as pickets, but with 
steam up and ready to move to any other place ordered. 
Thursday was a rainy, muggy sort of a day, and the night 
cloudv and very dark. The gunboats had all but one gone 
to some point up the river, and the army had gone to bed and 
to sleep, litde dreaming of an attack." I was sound asleep 
in my tent, when, just after midnight, the report of a dozen 
pieces of artillery and the screaming of as many shells over 
and through the camp awoke me very suddenly. It seems 
that the rebels had brought some eighteen pieces of artillery 
right down to the bank of the river opposite to our camp, 
taking advantage of the darkness and the absence of the 
gunboats, and, when they had everything ready, opened on 
us all at once, and if you don't believe they sent their shot 
and shell over here pretty rapidly for a while, I only wish 
you could have been here to see, that's all. I bounced out 
of my tent to see what was going on. It was very cloudy 
and dark, and looking down towards the river, I could see 
the flash of the guns' streams of fire, and the little spark in 
the air that marked the course of the shells. They came 
in all directions and it made a pretty lively stir through the 
camps. "Where are the gunboats?" was in everybody's 
mouth. "Are we going to lie here and be shelled out?" 
But the answer soon came. Screaming along the river, 
whistling and snorting their impatience to "get into posish," 
came the Monitor, the Galena and others, and the one down- 
the river came quickly back and "opened on 'em." I tell 
you the thunder of those ponderous guns is music to us, but 
I fancv the rebs don't like it. It did not take many of her 
two-foot shells to scatter their batteries of light artillery, 
though it was so dark that there was nothing to aim at but 
the flash of their guns. They were silenced and they 


skedaddled. Tliey did not do much dainaLic — killed a few 
men and some horses, but it made quite a little episode. 
It showed us that we were closely watched. 

Yesterday the Michigan regiment in our brigade and 
sonie other troops went over to a large house that stands 
in plain sight of camp, and burnt it with all the barns and 
other buildings. It was said to be the residence of an in- 
tense rebel, Edmund Ruffin, father of the man who fired the 
first gun at Fort Sumter, and was a magnificent residence, 
and used by the rebels as a lookout on our movements. 
Ruffin has met a just retribution.* 

Harrison's Landing, James River, Va., 

Monday, August ii, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister : — 

I received your letters of the ist and 4th last night. 
I do not know how long I shall be permitted to write, as 
everything is packed up and we have marching orders. As 
usual, we know nothing about our destination, but I think 
a general movement of the army is contemplated. 

Last week we spent over the river. We crossed Tuesday 
morning and we had a splendid time. I was mistaken in 
the ownership of the house that was burnt over there, of 
which I spoke in my last letter. It was not Edmund Ruffin's, 
but belonged to another man. Rufifin's plantation is next 
above the burned house. We spent most of the week on it 
or in the vicinity. He had a beautiful situation and an ex- 
cellent farm. There are acres of corn there eighteen feet 
high — the largest corn I ever saw. Apple and peach or- 
chards breaking down with their loads of fruit stand ripen- 
ing in the southern sun, and southern sun means some- 
thing, too. The thermometer was up to 109 last 
Friday, and Thursday was hotter still. We lived 
while we were over there. Guarding secesh property 
is played out and we had full liberty to "acquire" anything 
we could find to eat. Pigs and poultry were plenty and we 

*Note. — This statement, founded on camp rumor, was an error. 
The home of Edmund Ruffin, the man who fired the first gun at 
Fort Sumter, is mentioned in letter of August 11. 


could have lived on them if we had taken salt with us, but 
salt could not be found. Flour and meal were found, though, 
and if we didn't have pancakes and hoecakes and apple 
sass,' peaches and plums, and new potatoes and green corn, 
it was because we were too lazy to get them. We slept in 
the woods. It would have been a novel sight to you to have 
passed through the woods at midnight and to have seen 
how soldiers sleep. Lying on the ground with no cover- 
ing, heads pillowed on the roots of oaks and beeches, faces 
upturned in the moonlight, they might have looked like 
inanimate objects, but the sharp note of a bugle, or the 
"Fall in Eighty-third" would have started them to their feet 
in an instant. 

I wish I had the ability to describe the home of the 
Ruffins to you. It is the only place I have yet seen that 
gave much evidence that the owner is anything more than 
in name and pretension an F. F. V. The house itself is not 
very large or pretentious, but it shows that it was the 
abode of wealth and taste. There is an air of aristocracy 
and luxury about these old southern mansions that time 
alone can give. We never see it in the north. The grounds 
about this place are the most beautifully laid out of any 
I have ever seen. It is the realization of the imaginary 
residences of the heroines we read of in romance. Before 
the house is a beautiful clean-swept lawn, shaded by magni- 
ficent oaks and tulip trees that look as though they had seen 
a century's growth at least. And then, the winding walks 
and avenues, shady bowers and summer houses covered 
with roses and drooping with graceful festoons of flowers, 
whose names are unknown to me, but whose beauty and 

fragrance I can appreciate you must see them to know 

their beauty. The "servants' quarters" are not the miser- 
able log huts with mud floors like those at the White House, - 
but clean painted frame buildings tastefully arranged in 
the shade of those old trees. A little apart from the main 
building is a smaller one, where I imagine the m.aster spent 
much of his time. It was his library, study and office. He 
is evidently a scholar and a writer of no mean ability. 
He was the editor of an agricultural periodical and had held 


many offices of public trust and confidence. His library was 
very large and valuable, mostly of agricultural works, but 
containing a great number of scientific and classical books. 
Thousands of books were carried ofl: by our men. 

Harrison's Landing, James River, Va., 

Thursday, August 14, 1862. 
Dear Father : — 

I received your letter of the 9th and Mother's last night. 
It is gratifying to know that the 300,000 men first called for 
will probably be raised without a draft. I have thought for 
a long time that the cheapest way, in fact the only way, to 
end the war in a reasonable time is to raise such an over- 
whelming force that the rebels will be dismayed and feel 
that it is useless to continue the contest longer. It will save 
time, it will save lives, it will save money, to come down 
upon the rebels in our strength. I am glad that the govern- 
ment is acting at last on this principle, and I am in hopes 
that the eflfort will not be fruitless, as some have been. 

We have heard of a desperate fight that occurred last 
Saturday between Pope and Stonewall Jackson. It does 
not seem to have been decisive in anything except blood- 
shed. Jackson evidently had a superior force, but a dispatch 
from Culpeper Court House on Sunday says that he sent 
in a flag of truce asking permission to bury his dead on 
the field of battle, so I think Pope is not badly beaten. Burn- 
side is up that way with his forces, and my private opinion 
publicly expressed is that McClellan's army is going there 
too. In my last letter I mentioned that we had "marching 
orders.""." We have not gone yet, but troops have been going 
down the river as fast as they could for a week past. Ar- 
tillery is being loaded up every night, commissary stores 
are going, and everything looks to me like preparations to 
abandon the Peninsula. The heavy guns mounted on the 
works lately thrown up in front, it is said, are being re- 
moved, and the rebel device of wooden ones substituted>3C 
The letter from the Herald's correspondent in last night's 
paper says : 'Tf these 'forbidden-to-previously-notice' move- 
ments should not prove entirely successful, we may have 


something startling to send you, but if they do, the event 
will doubtless be highly satisfactory.'' This is rather un- 
intelligible language, but I think it means nothing more or 
less than this: If McClellan succeeds in evacuating this po- 
sition without exciting the suspicion of the rebels, all will 
be well, but if they get wind of what he is doing too soon, 
they may attack him after part of his force is gone, and 
make a big thing of it. I confess I am a little fearful that 
this will be the result, but I have confidence yet in "Little 
Mac," though it seems many have not. 

I do not see how it is possible to move this army with 
all its stores and equipment and not have the rebels informed 
of it. They have their agents all along the river who watch 
everything that passes, and send instant information to 
Richmond. But I think "Little Mac" is enough for them. 
He commenced by sifting out every man not able for full 
duty and sending them away first. Then the knapsacks 
containing everything but a tent and blanket were sent ofif. 
The cartridges, all but forty rounds per man, were returned 
to the quartermaster, and the men were then lightened of 
everything that would impede a rapid march. If the rebels 
attack us, we can move as fast or faster than they can. We 
can follow down the Peninsula, if necessary, to Fortress 
Monroe, or when we get out of their reach, get aboard the 
boats at any convenient place. Our gunboats will protect the 
shipping, and render material aid to us in case of attack. 
Thus, I apprehend, ends the campaign on the Peninsula. By 
some it may be considered a failure, but whatever may be 
thought or said of McClellan by others, I still have confi- 
dence in him, and consider its failure attributable to causes 
for which he is not responsible. He may do better another 
time. I sincerely hope it may be so. If we can succeed in 
uniting our forces with Pope's and Burnside's and together 
fall on Jackson with overwhelming numbers, we may strike 
a blow that will tell, but I do not have any great hopes of 
achieving much in that way. Jackson is wary. He will get 
news of the movement, retire before superior numbers, fall 
back on Richmond and laugh in his sleeve, or perhaps more 
openly at his success in getting our army ofif the Peninsula 


by head work when he could not do it by force. Ah, well, 
time will tell. 

Camp near Alexandria, Va., 
Monday, September 8, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — • 

P'or over three weeks we have been constantly on the 
move, not sleeping in the same place two nights in that 

We marched down the Peninsula, camping at Chicka- 
hominy, twenty-seven miles ; Williamsburg, sixteen miles ; 
Yorktown, fifteen miles, and Fortress Monroe, twenty-eight 
miles ; eighty-six miles in four days. Next day embarked 
at Newport News, and next day landed at Aquia Creek ; 
thence sixteen miles by railroad to Fredericksburg, then 
following the north fork of the Rappahannock, we went 
out in the direction of Culpeper and after scouting round 
that country a few days, took the back track and followed 
alongside the railroad to Manassas Junction. We left the 
railroad there and marched back and forth near the old 
Bull Run battlefield, and on Saturday week we were engaged 
in the second Bull Run fight on the same ground as the 
other, a fight that throws the first one into the shade. If I 
had time and felt able, I would like to describe the battle to 
you and our retreat to Centreville. But I don't know as you 
would like to hear such terrible details. Suffice it to say it 
was another of McDowell's victories — a fearful scene of 
bloody carnage. 

We stopped at Centreville one day and then made a long 
round-about march to Hall's Hill, stopped there one day, 
and then a march of sixteen miles brought us here. 

I would not, if I could, tell you how we have sufifered 
on this march. Eating raw beef without salt, and drinking 
water from mud holes, were done more than once. I have 
marched forty-six miles on nothing but raw beef and ditch 
water, and yet I held out to the end. Now I am worn out, 
and can neither write nor do anything else till I am some 

I had to smile a little at your questions about the battle 


smoke. I think it more probable somebody was burning the 
brush in his pasture that week. 

Bivouac south of Sharpsburg, Va., 

^ ^. ^ Tuesday, September 22, 1862. 

Dear Sister L. :— -^^ ^ ^' 

I think I wrote to you last from Hall's Hill. Our stay 
there was short. We spent several days in marching about 
between Hall's Hill, Washington and Alexandria, and then 
crossed over into Maryland. There, that reminds me that 
I have dated my letter in Virginia, a habit I have fallen 
into from being so long in that accursed state, but this time 
my habit led me astray and I am still in Maryland, and so is 
Sharpsburg, or what is left of it. It is a village about rhe 
size of Panama, and in passing through I could scarcely see 
a house that was not riddled by musketry or pierced by can- 
non balls. That town has had a taste of w^ar it will not soon 

We have had quite a march in Maryland from Washing- 
ton up through Frederick City, across the two ranges of the 
Blue Ridge mountains and the Cumberland valley between, 
and then down on the west side of the mountains to the 
Potomac above Harper's Ferry, where we are now. I shall 
always remember the march through Maryland as among 
the most pleasant of my experiences as a soldier. The roads 
were splendid and the country as beautiful a country as I 
ever saw. It has but little of the desolate appearance of the 
devastated Old Dominion, but everywhere landscapes of 
exquisite beauty meet the eye. Pretty villages are frequent, 
and pretty girls more so, and instead of gazing at passing sol- 
diers with scorn and contempt, they were always ready with 
a pleasant word and a glass of water. I almost forgot the 
war and the fact that I was a soldier as I gained the sum- 
mit of the first range of mountains, and the Cumberland 
valley was spread out before me. I w^as in love with the 
"Sunny South." The brightest, warmest, richest landscape 
I ever saw lay sleeping in the mellow sunlight of a Septem- 
ber afternoon. Oh, how I did enjoy the pure sparkling 
cold water gushing from the rocks after drinking so long 
from the swamps of the Chickahominy and puddles by the 

1 19 

roadside in Virginia ! I did think when I saw the kixur} 
in which the aristocratic Ruffin lived, the beauty and ele- 
gance of his country villa, that a man might be happy there, 
but when I reflect that it is a palace in the desert and that 
but few can live as he did, I say, give me the humbler 
dwellings but better farms of Maryland, where one man does 
not own all that joins him, but his neighbors can live corrt- 
fortably, too. It don't take ten thousand acres here to sup- 
port one family. Maryland will yet be free and then she 
will be a noble state. One thing I noticed so different from 
what we see in the north. There, in the vicinity of cities 
and large towns, the land is always more carefully tilled 
and more productive than it is farther from the markets. 
Here, just the opposite is the case. As we receded from 
Washington and approached the mountains, the country in- 
creased in richness and in beauty. Maybe you think I am 
getting too warm in my praises of a southern state. Per- 
haps I am, but it seemed such a relief to get into a civilized 
country after a year's sojourn in the deserts of Virginia, 
aniong the few Arabs left of the original population, that 
I grew enthusiastic at once. But I have seen war in Mary- 
land, too. I was a spectator, though not a participant, in 
the greatest battle ever fought on this continent — the battle 
of Antietam. I stood on a hill where a battery of twenty- 
pounders was dealing death to the enemies of our country, 
and there, stretched out before me, was a rough, rolling 
valley sloping away to the Potomac. The mountains do 
not rise abruptly out of a level country, but for several miles 
on either side the ground gradually rises. The country is 
broken and hilly, affording strong positions for defense, and 
on the western slope of the mountains along the Antietam 
river, the battle was fought. Our division w^as held in re- 
serve near the center of the line, and from w^here I stood I 
could trace our lines extending in a semi-circle for several 
miles. The valley was wrapped in smoke, but the white 
wreaths curling from the cannon's mouth, the boom of the 
report and the scream of the shell showed the position of the 
batteries, and the sharp rattle of musketry deepening to a 
roar told v/here the most desperate fighting was going on. 


I felt proud, exultant, that night when I knew the enemy 
had been driven from two to three miles at every point. 
Many, many were the homes made desolate that day, but 
it is not to us as though we had lost as many and yet gained 
nothing. The victory is ours, and the enemy took advantage 
of an armistice granted them to bury the dead and care for 
the wounded, to ingloriously retreat across the river. 

Colonel (late Captain) H. L. Brown's new Erie regiment 
arrived here lately and one of our boys who was over to see 
them told me that he saw a young man there who inquired 
for me and said he was my brother. Can it be possible that 
E. has enlisted? The last I heard from him was at Hall's 
Hill. He wrote that he would take my advice and stay at 
home ; he had given up the idea. I cannot understand why, 
if he has enlisted, he did not come and enlist with me. 

I am waiting news from home with anxiety. I have had 
but few letters lately. Our mail comes very seldom. In 
fact, we are constantly on the move. I have not pitched a 
tent but once since I left Virginia, sleeping every night on 
the ground, rolled up in a blanket. 

I hope you will write often whether you hear from me or 
not. I will write as often as I can. 

Camp near Sharpshurg, Md., 
Friday, September 26, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister: — 

Nothing of interest has occurred since I wrote. We are 
guarding this ford and ''All is quiet along the Potomac' 
The impression prevails that the rebel army is not far off on 
the other side of the river, and some morning you may hear 
of another great battle. 

I must answer some of your questions. On the march 
from the Rappahannock to Manassas, we were surrounded 
by the rebels most of the time. They got in Pope's rear at 
Culpeper and then they kept there, going back between 
him and Washington as far as Centreville and Fairfax. 
They followed up in our rear and cut off our supply train, 
and were continually hovering round our left, waiting an 
opportunity to attack us. If a fire was kindled, the smoke 


in the day or the light at night would reveal our position 
and invite a shell, and we were not allowed to make any. 
Do you see? But I guess "nobody was hurt." 

You ask what good McClellan accomplished by his 
campaign on the Peninsula, and add that he has but few 
friends in your neighborhood. Now I might ask you, what 
has anyone done on our side towards crushing the rebellion ? 
Is the end of the war apparently any nearer than it was 
last spring? Have not the rebels a larger army to-day than 
they had last spring? And are they any less determined 
to continue the war? 

In its leading object, the capture of Richmond, the 
campaign was a failure. Such men as Greeley instantly 
pounce upon McClellan and blame him for the fact, when, 
in my humble judgment, the blame belongs on other shoul- 
ders. At Yorktown, he first met the enemy intrenched in 
one of the strongest positions in the country. When he ar- 
rived there, if he had had fresh men, artillery and ammuni- 
tion, provisions, etc., he might have taken the works by 
assault, but he had not. His artillery and ammunition trains 
were stuck in the mud that vv^as almost impassable, and by 
the time they could be got up, Yorktown was defended by 
twice our number of troops. Then Greeley and his party 
sneered because McClellan went to digging. He did dig, 
and compelled a superior force to evacuate their fortifica- 
tions. Now, I say, he showed consummate skill in driving 
them from such a place with scarcely the loss of a single 
life. He followed the army to their new defenses on the 
Chickahominy. We all hoped he would take Richmond. We 
were disappointed, and Greeley sneered again. Of course 
he blamed McClellan, and thousands who swallow every 
word the Tribune utters as gospel truth believed him. Well, 
you ask, if he was not to blame, who was? I blame Mc- 
Dowell. I have hardly patience to call him a general. Great 
events sometimes spring from slight causes. If you have 
read the history of the war closely, you will remember the 
quarrel between McDowell and Sigel, when the latter asked 
permission to burn a certain bridge to cut of¥ Jackson's re- 
treat up the Shenandoah, and the refusal of the former. 


See the result — the bridge was left unburnt and Jackson 
crossed in safety and hurled his command of forty thousand 
on McClellan's right wing. That sudden reinforcement 
of the enemy compelled McClellan to withdraw his right 
wing, leaving the White House unprotected, and consequent- 
ly, to change his base of operations to the James. His suc- 
cess in doing this won for him the admiration of every 
military man in this country and Europe. Napoleon said 
that be who could whip the enemy while he himself re- 
treated, was a better general than one who achieved a vic- 
tory under the prestige of past success. McClellan retreated 
fifteen miles and fought the enemy every day for seven 
days, whipping superior forces every day, winding up with 
the victory at Malvern Hill. There we learned that he is a 
general. Those who have seen what he had to contend with 
have confidence in him, and although his campaign was a 
failure, we see that the blame rests not on him, but on those 
who failed him just on the eve of success. Had McDowell 
allowed Sigel to burn that bridge, Fremont could have come 
up with him, and uniting his forces with those of McDowell, 
Sigel and Banks, they could have annihilated Jackson's 
army, or at least beaten it so it never could have troubled us, 
and then following up, united all their force with us and 
swept on into Richmond. When you wrote, you had not 
heard of McClellan's victory at Antietam. If you had, I 
think you would not have asked the question. Public con- 
fidence, led by Greeley, and ever hasty to condemn, was 
severely shaken when he left the Peninsula. I think he 
has regained at least a part of it by that hard earned vic- 
tory. H I were at home nothing would make me ready to 
fight sooner than to hear some home guard abuse Mc- 
Clellan. I am afraid I should lay myself liable to indict- 
ments for assault and battery pretty often, if public opinion 
is as you say. Don't swallow every word old Greeley says 
as the pure truth. A man will do a great deal for party 
and call it country. McClellan is a Democrat, though not 
a politician. Fremont is a Republican. Now, see if Greeley 
don't join in the popular outcry against McClellan and want 
Fremont to take his place. Compare what you know of the 


generalship of the two men, and ask yourself if Greeley's 
spirit is party or country. 

I got started so about McClellan that I almost forgot the 
one-fingered mittens and everything else in both letters. I 
will answer that by informing you that my whole wardrobe 
consists of what I wear at one time. I have not even one 
extra pair of socks or a shirt. When 1 get a chance to 
wash I hang my shirt up and go without till it gets dry. I 
should not wonder if another year's soldiering would enable 
me to do without clothing altogether, and save my $42 for 
postage and tobacco money. I suppose Almon thinks his 
mittens and his oil-cloth ^xings ''big things," but I wouldn't 
give a snap of the finger for them now. They are very well 
in winter quarters, but I would not carry them ten miles on 
a march for them. 

I suppose that two thousand soldiers looked as big to you 
as our regiment did to me when I first enlisted at Erie. I 
would not consider that much of a crowd now. I can see 
the camp of ten thousand from where I am writing. The 
greatest show of troops I have seen was at the review near 
Washington last fall. Old Abe and Little Mac had eighty 
thousand there on parade and that was a show. I have 
seen the most of McClellan's, McDowell's, Pope's, Banks', 
and Sigel's armies, but I would rather see two or three 
pretty girls and a glee-book this afternoon than the whole of 
them. Write soon as you can. 

Sharpsbttrg Ferry, Md., 

Dear Sister L. :- ^'""^''y- ^'^'- "^' '^^'- 

Dennison T. has got home discharged. I wish I could 
have seen his mother's greeting. I warrant you it was a 
joyful meeting. But Mrs. B. writes her sorrow. She can- 
not forget that though he went from home with a companion, 
he returned alone. Henry, I am afraid, will never return to 
receive such a greeting. They have never heard a word 
from him since the news of his arrival in Richmond severely 
wounded. I think he must be dead. Still they have no di- 
rect intelligence of his death, nothing but dreadful uncer- 


If I should come home and call to see you I don't believe 
you would be very sleepy for one hour or two, but I have 
no such expectations for the present at least. I have often 
told you that I was in for the war, and I never suffer myself 
to think for a moment of any going home till 1 go home 
honorablv discharged, either unfit for service or at the close 
of the war. That day may be a good way off, but still I 
do not get homesick in the least. I know I never could feel 
easy to remain at home in full health while the war con- 
tinued. No one would be more happy to see the war come 
to a close, the troubles settled, and the Union restored, than 
I, but few perhaps think less of military life than I, or would 
be more glad to leave it than I, if the cause were removed, 
but principle is at stake. I have cast my lot here from choice, 
and I'm not the one to back out because it's hard. 

I don't just know about Almon's garrison duty at Fort- 
ress Monroe. I rather guess they have garrison enough 
there. He may go to Yorktown or some of the other places 
in the vicinity, but I miss my guess if he stays long in the 
Fortress. I hope he will not be homesick, for of all the for- 
lorn objects I ever saw a homesick soldier is the most pitiable. 
If he gets along- the first month or so he will stana ii after- 

So Uncle Joseph's folks are down on McClellan, are 
they? Well, you know they are strong abolitionists and 
get most of their ideas on national affairs from Greeley and 
Beecher. Now McClellan is a more moderate man and 
deals with things as he finds them. He is no pro-slavery 
man, no more than Beecher, but I think he is a more prac- 
tical man. He will do his duty just as well, now the "proc- 
lamation" is out, as he would before Greelev said the war 
would end in thirty days after the issue of the proclamation. 
It was done September 22d, so I suppose the war will end 
by October 22d, and some time in November I shall be home. 
Pleasant prospect, but I "don't see it." I approve of the 
proclamation, but I don't think it is going to scare the South 
into submission. I think it will result in the total over- 
throw of slavery, but next winter will witness scenes so 
bloody that the horrors of the French Revolution will be 


peace in comparison to it. If the South wih liave it so, the 
blood be on her own head. Seward was right — the "irre- 
pressible conflict" will continue till freedom or slavery rules 
the nation. I can't see through the mist that clouds the fu- 
ture, but I'll hope. 

So you will allow me to laugh at you for thinking the 
smoke of battle reached old Chautauqua. Well, you are 
good humored about it to say the least, especially as you 
are not in a situation to help yourself very well. I do not 
say it didn't come there, but did you see any repetition of 
the performance after the battle of Antietam on the 17th? 
There was more smoke there than I have seen at any other 
battle. It was a hundred miles or so nearer, too. 

SJiarpsburg, Md., October, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I always liked Steve. We tented together ever since we 
left Erie, and he was sensible. He is a queer, eccentric 
genius like his relatives, but he did not stay long. He was 
just out of the hospital and he fell out on the march. I've 
heard nothing of him since, so I went on alone again. 

At Hall's Hill our Tommy came back. Tommy Hopkins 
is an Irishman. He is now nineteen years old. At sixteen 
he came over alone, and now he has not a relative this side 
of the ocean. He came into our company a total stranger. 
Now no man in the company has more friends than Tommy. 
There is something so manly about him. that no one can 
help liking him. No one could be more obliging, and now 
no one could receive a favor more easily than little Tommy 
Hopkins. At Malvern Hill he was terribly wounded. 
Dauntlessly he faced the foes of his adopted country, but a 
stern trial was in store for him. While loading he was 
struck by a Minie ball which cut off the forefinger of his 
left hand, went through the ball of his thumb and out at his 
wrist then in at his breast, and only stopped when it struck 
his shoulder blade. He refused all assistance and went a 
mile to the hospital alone. His wound was dressed. Next 
day, in all the rain and mud, he walked to Harrison's Land- 
ing, ten miles. A brave young heart is Tommy's. With 


no kind friends to write and soothe his pain while in the 
hospital, he still kept his spirits, and finally ran away from 
the hospital and came to us. Of course I welcomed him 
back with his stump of a hand and the great red scar on his 
breast. There is no other man in the regiment I like as I 
do Tommy. But he couldn't handle a gun, so the colonel 
took him to headquarters for an orderly. 

Well, then I got in with T. H., a biUous, crotchety, quar- 
relsome old bach. He is terribly profane, boasts of being 
selfish and everything else that is disagreeable. I tented 
with him till we came here and then I changed. My chum 
now is a quiet, inoffensive, obliging fellow, a new recruit 
by the name of Palmer. He sings, reads and talks through 
his nose like a U. P. preacher, loves everything good and 
hates evil, especially tobacco, which I don't, you know. I 
am very well contented, however, with him. I was with 
H. In fact, I am tolerably contented with everything. Den- 
nison taught me to philosophize and take things easy. 

Camp three miles north of Fredericksburg, 
Saturday, Dec. 6, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

We have been here a couple of weeks now, and things 
begin to look some like winter quarters. The papers still 
keep up the hue and cry of ''on to Richmond," but we don't 
go on to Richmond, and my ''opg." is we w^on't this winter. 
The fact is, winter is upon us, and winter in Virginia, though 
very different from northern winters, is just as fatal to a 
campaign as frost is to cucumbers, or arsenic to rats. The 
moving of an army implies more than the marching of the 
men that compose it. Long trains of wagons, heavier 
wagons, too, than you ever saw, must accompany each di- 
vision. Batteries of artillery, too, and when a few of these 
have passed along a road after one or two days' rain or 
snow, the following teams are floundering belly deep in mud, 
and everything must stop. Now, notwithstanding what the 
papers say, I believe they know it is not the intention to 
advance on Richmond this w^inter. My own opinion is 
(you may have it for its worth) that we will stay here a 


month or so till the nuul will prevent the rebs from moving 
north, and then if Congress has not done anything in the 
way of settling the matter, we will he sent south where 
v^'inter will not hinder onr fighting. 

I have been much interested in the President's message. 
I presume you have read it, at least that part relating to 
emancipation. It meets my views exactly. It is broad and 
deep, but yet so simple a child can understand it. Nothing 
he has ever said or done pleased me so much as his reasons 
for his policy, and his earnest appeal to Congress and the 
people to support it. "We say we are for the Union," he 
says, "but while we say so the world does not forget we do 
know how to save the Union. . . . We shall nobly 
save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth." 

I do hope that Congress will heartily support his plan, 
and remembering that ''the dogmas of the quiet past are in- 
adequate to the stormy present" will ''rise to the occasion." 

I think I wrote to you at Warrenton what I thought 
of McClellan's removal, but if you did not receive my letter 
I will tell you in a few words, I think the whole army 
thinks as much of McClellan to-day as they ever did. We 
ask no better leader. I believe, too, that the President had 
as much confidence in his loyalty and ability the day he 
removed him as he ever had. "Why did he remove him 
then ?" you will ask. On account of pressure of public opinion. 
There was a strong feeling among the people that he was 
not the right man, and they had lost confidence in him. They 
could not understand the difficulties of his position, and 
chafed at his delays. Time will show if they were right. 
The President saw that the people did not like him, would 
not enlist, would not come forward with their money, and 
thought best, though against his better judgment, to yield. 
Now, that is my opinion. It is not what the public press 
says, but merely what I think, and as I said before, you may 
have it for what it is worth. Burnside was a good man in 
his place, but not equal to "Little Mac." His race is almost 

I sympathize wdth you in your sorrow at the loss of one 
of your household band. Though I never knew her, I can 


almost read your hearts, as I fancy you gathering round 
the fireside or the table and missing her from the circle. 
The blow will be sudden and severe on Albert. I have often 
thought how I should feel if news should reach me of the 
death or dangerous illness of any of my dear friends while 
I was kept away from them. So far I have been spared the 

I am still established at brigade headquarters and very 
comfortably fixed, too. I am in a tent with two orderlies. 
We have built a log house just about seven by nine, five 
logs high, and covered it with ponchos. We have our bed 
in one end and a fireplace in the other, so we are quite com- 
fortable. We need it, too, for yesterday it snowed and was 
bitter cold, and to-day it just thawed enough to be sloppy 
and nasty. 

We have not been paid since we left the Peninsula, and 
money is scarce, I tell you. I don't know but I shall have 
to stop writing for want of stamps. I must close this letter 
any way, for it is getting so dark I can't see to write. 

Falmouth, Va., Dec. 20, 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have not heard from you since I wrote last, but you 
will want to hear from me now, so I will write a little if 
nothing more than to tell you of my safety. We have had 
a terrible fight, but you have heard of that, and I need 
not give particulars. I don't feel like it, for it was nothing 
but humiliating defeat. I suppose the radicals have got 
enough of Burn side now and will want another change. I 
have nothing to say — of course it makes no difference to 
the country how many of her sons are offered on the altar 
of this incapacity. Oh, no. If it was Little Mac, thunders, 
would be hurled against him, but no. We have got a man 
now who will move, no matter what reason he has for stand- 
ing still. You may think I am talking bitterly. Well, I 
feel so. I'm sick of such useless slaughter. McClellan 
never made an attack and failed, and never showed stupidity 
as Burnside has. 

But enough of that. You'll want to know what "hair- 


breadth escapes" I had. 1 always expect you to want a 
string of them after every battle. I shall not gratify you 
this time. I think it humors a bad taste, but I'll merely 
say I had enough of them, such as a rap on the head with a 
board thrown by an exploding shell, a mouthful of gravel 
raised by a ploughing grape shot, running the gauntlet of 
rebel sharpshooters in carrying a dispatch to General Grif- 
fin. I'll tell you about them some time if I ever get home. 

It would have done a person good, or at least given 
him an idea of war, to have walked through the town of 
Fredericksburg on Monday last. It was a place about the 
size of Erie, perhaps larger. On Thursday one hundred 
and fifty pieces of our artillery played on it, and after we 
had done all the damage w^e could the rebs played on it with 
their ''brass bands" and ''bass horns" from the other side. 
Between them both there was not much of it left untouched. 
It was battered and burnt, the streets were filled with a 
confusion of all things, splendid furniture and carpets, pro- 
visions, bottles, knapsacks, dead men and horses, blankets, 
muskets, the pomp of war and paraphernalia of peace min- 
gled together. Men were ransacking every house, taking 
everything they wanted, and baking pancakes in the kitchens. 
Slapjacks were plenty while we stayed at Fredericksburg. I 
have heard from Alf. since the fight. He is safe and sound. 
My orderly sergeant was killed in the charge. That was 
all the loss in our company. Some few received slight 
wounds. Captain A. led his company like an officer. 

Stoneman Station, Va., 
Tuesday, Dec. jo, 1862. 
Dear Brother and Sister: — 

I have been hard up for stationery and stamps lately, 
more so than ever before. This month nearly gone makes 
six months for which we have not received a cent of pay, 
consequently there is very little money in camp. The sutler 
won't come where there is no money, and of course we can't 
buy anything. You don't know anything about it at home. 
All you want is a little money, and paper, ink, pen and post- 
age is forthcoming. But I couldn't get it now if I had $26, 


unless the regiments had money, too, for there is none to 
buy — no sutlers. Postage stamps we have to send home for. 
Sutlers won't sell them ; there's no profit. I got half a quire 
of paper — this is the last sheet — out of a knapsack on the 
battlefield, and it has lasted me till now, and I just found a 
man who has a bottle of ink, so I'm all right for this letter, 
but the next, ah, me, the next! 

I see plainly that I have not kept you posted in regard 
to my own affairs. I have taken it for granted that you 
understood more than you do, so I must answer some of 
your questions. I have acted as chief bugler since we left 
the Peninsula, but I did not stay at brigade headquarters 
till we left Antietam. My duties are to give the signals 
for morning and evening roll calls, guard mounting, drills, 
dress parade, etc. I have a programme furnished by the 
assistant adjutant general and keep my own time, so that 
I may say as long as I attend to my duties strictly I am 
my own master. For instance, the time arrives for "tattoo" 
in the evening. I take my bugle, sound the brigade call, 
"Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield, Dan, Dan, Dan, 
Butterfield, Butterfield," and the tattoo. After I finish, the 
regimental buglers in each regiment sound their regimental 
call, and the tattoo. Whatever call is sounded from head- 
quarters they repeat. When I first came the adjutant gen- 
eral used to tell me when to sound, but finding I attended 
to my business, he left it all to me, so I am giving good 
satisfaction and like my place well. 

Ollie M. thought I was a sergeant, and congratulated 
me on my promotion. According to the regulations I should 
be, but I did not enlist as a musician and so I do not expect 
promotion as such. I should receive $20 per month, but 
doubt my getting over $13. 

Three of us, two orderlies and myself, have put up a log 
building five logs high, and covered it with ponchos, got a 
fireplace and everything comfortable, and now we've got 
orders to march. 


Friday, Jan. 2, 186^. 

We did march in about thirty minutes after I wrote that 
last Hne, and I have not had a minute's time to write since. 
We went off on a reconnoissance, or "reek-o-nuisance," as 
the boys call it. We went about fifteen or twenty miles up 
the river to Richard's Ford and came back yesterday. We 
had a tough march — such a march always is, for we don't 
wait for trains, and when we got into camp we were all tired, 
I assure you. 

You were asking me if my present position entitled me 
to more privileges than a private — the privates seem to think 
it does. It entitles me to have my knapsack carried on a 
march, and — to go without my blankets if the trains don't 
come up. It entitles me to a horse if I want it, but I don't 
want it, so I am dubbed "dam phool" by said privates. But 
all in all, I guess I'd rather be chief bugler than private. 

I savv^ Alf a few days ago. He was looking well, and 
this morning I had a good long chat with Airs. A. She 
arrived last night. It was the first time I had spoken to a 
civilized woman in six months, and you may imagine my 

Stoncman Station, A. C. & F. R. R., Va., ■ 
Sunday, Ian. ^5. 1862. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I thought the subject of bugler was exhausted, but I see 
you want to know more about it. I am chief bugler of the 
brigade. :\Iy duties are, in camp, to sound the calls for roll 
calls, drills, inspections, guard mounting, etc., at regular 
hours each day ; on the march, to attend on the general 
in command and sound the calls to march or halt and rest, 
strike tents and form in line, etc. In short, to act as mouth- 
piece for the general. So much for duties. As to privileges 


— one, I've nothing to do but bugle; two, my luggage 
is carried in the headquarters wagons ; three, I get better ra- 
tions than in the regiment, and more of them : four, I get my 
wood hauled, and in the regiment the men have to carry 
all they burn a long distance. Well, there are four, perhaps 
that's enough, but I might add others. As to the horse, I 
have one now, and a splendid one, too. He would be worth 
$175 at home. Colonel Vincent, acting as Brigadier Gen- 
eral, went to the brigade quartermaster and told him to fur- 
nish me a horse that I could carry the brigade colors on 
and keep up with him. He is a dashing rider, and no raw 
head and bloody bones could keep up with him, so he gave 
me a beautiful black horse, and I am now the brigade color- 
bearer and bugler. My pay should be $21 per month, but 
I don't think I shall get now more than $13. They have 
commenced to-day paying our brigade four months' pay. 
Nearly seven months are due. 

Well, Burnside has moved again, and got stuck in the 
mud. That is the short of it. The long of it was the five 
days it took us to get six miles and back to camp. It beat 
all the Peninsula mud I ever saw, and demonstrated the 
falsity of Burnside's theory that if twelve horses couldn't 
draw a cannon twenty-four could. The more horses the 
worse it was. 

We got back to our old camps yesterday, and I apprehend 
we shall stay a while. The army cannot move in this cli- 
mate in the winter, and perhaps the people will believe now 
that "Little Mac" was right in not moving last winter. 

Stoneman Station, Ta., 
Friday, Jan. jo, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Last Friday an agent of our benevolent but dilatory 
Uncle Sam paid us a visit and four months of greenbacked 
promises. He was an oily tongued fellow, and just euchred 
me out of $2.00 and over. The government owed me $6.41 
on clothing account, and he paid me $4.25 and put the rest in 
his own pocket. 

There were some rich scenes during his visit. One fellow 


in the Forty-fourth New York had Ijcen paid twice in 
hospital on his "descriptive Hst." The first time he drew 
$52, the next by some oversight he drew $78, when but $26 
was due him. He returned to his regiment and chuckled 
over his smartness in cheating Uncle Sam out of $52. He 
told it to everybody he knew, and when the pay-day came 
they were all on the lookout to see how he would come out 
of it. When his name was called he stepped to the table 
and Mr. Oily Tongue commenced : "You owe the United 
States $52, the United States owes you $48 ; $48 from $52 
leaves you just $4 in debt to the government. Got the 
money?'' He rattled it off like an auctioneer, and the tricky 
Ellsworth was non-plussed. He finally stammered out that 
he had not. "Oh, well, never mind, we'll wait till next 
time, but don't forget that $4." Oh, you ought to have 
heard the smile that rose in the crowd ! The poor fellow 
can't stir out of his tent but somebody puts out his hand 
with — "Got the money ?" 

We have been having a big touch of winter for this 
country. Yesterday morning we had snow a foot deep, the 
most I've seen in Virginia. It was not very cold, but it is 
melting off now and it will make terrible roads when it is 
gone. Snow is twice as bad as rain for that. To-day is 
clear and warm, that is, thawing. 

There is an order out to allow three men in each company 
to go home on furlough. This and other orders intimate 
to me that we are to stay where we are some time, or that 
we will not attempt another movement till the winter is over 
enough to make it safe. 

Stoneman Station, Fa., 
Friday, Feb. 6, 186^. 
Dear E. :— 

Wicks' golden opinions of "Little Norton" may do very 
well to repeat at home. Perhaps he thinks, as he has said 
so much for me, I should return the compliment and praise 
him up to the skies. I can't see the point. I don't thank 
anybody to say that I have done more than I agreed to do, 
more than a soldier's duty, and if any one says I have not 


done my duty, send him to me to say it. I don't know what 
Wicks saw me do at Malvern Hill. I didn't see him at all 
in the fight. I was under the impression that he was "taken 
with a sunstroke" just before the fight commenced. At Bull 
Run the boys say he did "fight like the devil." 

I don't care anything about what he told you of my 
smoking. I could have told you that long ago if I had 
thought you cared anything about it. You all knew when 
I left home that I used tobacco some, and Mother and L. 
particularly urged me to quit it. 1 wouldn't make any 
promises about it and continued to smoke, but a year ago 
last Christmas I did quit, and then I wrote home and told 
all about it. Well, not the first one said so much as "I'm 
glad," or advised me to stick to it. I waited a month or 
so and heard nothing, and then I thought if that was all 
you cared about it, if it made no difference to any of you, 
it didn't to m.e, so I went at it again. If Wicks had told 
you that I chewed two pounds of plug a week and a pound 
of opium, drank gin and gambled, would you have believed 
him? Well, if it makes any difference to you I will just 
sav for your comfort that I don't. 

I am glad to hear that Wicks is looking so well. The 
boys who saw him in Alexandria said there was nothing left 
of him but his mustache. If I get down so low as that, I 
would not be much to load down an ambulance or a hog-car, 
would I ? 

• No, siree, I wouldn't take a discharge now if I could 
get it. You need not trouble yourself about that. If I 
did want one, I fancy (pardon my vanity) I could play off 
on the doctors and get it, but I don't want it, and I would 
kick a man that would offer me one. As to being the "cap- 
tain's friend" I don't see the point. I despise him too much 
for that. Personally I have no fault to find. He has al- 
ways treated me well, perhaps favored me some, but I am 
not the friend of the man who always has the piles or some- 
thing of the sort when a fight is coming off. At Hanover 
Court House he couldn't keep up, at Gaines' Mill he lav 
behind a tree and laughed while the men fell all round him. 
At Malvern he shouted retreat and ran like a greyhound. 


and got shot in the back with a three-cornered something. 
Last summer at Fredericksburg when we expected a fight he 
was too weak to march, and we didn't see him again till 
after Antietam. At this last at Fredericksburg he did go 
in and acted something like a man, the first and last time 
he has done so. When we moved last, expecting another 
battle, he couldn't go, he had the piles. Should I be the 
"captain's friend" ? I don't know that he has but one in 
the company, and he is a sort of sucker. Mrs. A. is a 
w^oman, a true w^oman. I respect her very much, and so does 
every man in the company. Nothing but that respect for her 
feelings prevents the company from complaining of him 
and having him cashiered for cow^ardice. 

I think some of my letters must have been lost. Did 
you never get the one that told of Henry's watch being 
lost? I felt so bad about that. I would have bought a 
dozen rather than lost that. I kept it till we got to An- 
tietam, waiting for a chance to send it by express, but finally 
after getting Mary's permission, sent it by mail, and it 
was never heard from. I took all the precautions I could 
to make it safe, did it up in a little box like an ambrotype, 
but the last I heard it had not arrived, and if it had. they 
would have told me. 

I wrote you in my last how our march terminated. Did 
Wicks tell you anything about camp lice? I do not know 
that I have ever said a word about them in all my letters, 
but they are so plenty here that they are the subject of half 
the standing jokes and bons mots m camp. I presume you 
never saw one. They are the soldier's pest. I never saw 
one till we got to Yorktown. They resemble head lice in 
appearance, but not in habits. They don't go near the hair, 
but stay in the clothes, shirt and drawers. There is no 
way to get rid of them, but to scald them out. They will 
hide in the seams and nit in every hiding place possible. 
Cold water won't faze them. They multiply like locusts 
and they will fat on "onguentum." At the time we left the 
Peninsula they were plenty, and until we got to Antietam, 
more than a month, no one had a chance to w^ash his clothes 
in hot water. I do not believe there was a man in our 


brigade, officer, private or nigger, but was lousy. They 
grow to enormous size and are the most cunning and most 
impudent of all things that live. During the late snow 
storm the boys, for want of something else to do, made sleds 
of their jaw^ bones, and slid down the bank of the railroad. 
The other night after supper I was sitting by the fire smok- 
ing a cigar, when I felt something twitch at my pants' leg. 
I looked down and there was one of the "crumbs" with a 
straw in his mouth, standing on his hind legs and working 
his claws round like a crab on a fish line. I gave a kick at 
him, but he dodged it and sticking up his cigar squeaked 
out, "Give me a light." 

I woke up the other night and found a regiment of them 
going through the manual of arms on my back. Just as I 
woke the colonel gave the command "charge bayonets," and 
the way they let drive at my sirloin was a proof of their 
capacity. Any one of them can throw himself into a hollow 
square and bite at the four corners. I would be willing to 
let them have what blood and meat they wanted to eat, but 
the devils amuse themselves nights by biting out chunks 
and throwing them away. Well, this is a pretty lousy leaf, 
ain't it ? Most likely the next one will be something dififer- 
ent if it is not. 

Joe (my housemaid) is sitting by the fire picking his 
teeth with a bayonet and swearing at the beef. He says it 
is a pity it was killed, it was tough enough to stand many 
a long march yet. Well, it is tough. When Burnside got 
stuck in the mud, the artillery harness all broke, and the 
only way they could get the guns out was for the men to cut 
their rations of beef into strips, and make tugs out of them. 

Stoneman Station, Va., 
Sunday, Feb. 8, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I send you a Harper's, thinking you do not often see 
them. It is one of the choicest numbers I have ever seen. 
'The Picket" is a gem for a wood cut. It is Hfelike and 
true. The officer's uniform is an exact copv. Don't it 
strike your fancy there is a bit of romance in the midnight— 


"Who goes there?" There is, and much matter of fact, too. 
You see a good portrait of our "Little Dan" (General But- 
terfield), too. If I ever get home I'll show you the bugle 
he took out of my hand to "sound the charge" at Bull Run. 
I'm proud to see him now Chief of Hooker's Stafif. 

"The army stuck in the mud" is just as good as illus- 
trated papers can make it. The road that looks like a river 
is mud, not water. In front of the barn you see a "caisson," 
or ammunition wagon. The ofhcers on the jaded horses, 
the coffee pots and pails on the muskets, in fact the tout 
ensemble of the picture is first rate. The literary part of 
the paper I don't think so much of, but the pictures are 
good. Keep it to show me when I come home. "Ould 
Graaly" is a decided hit. 

Stoneman Station, Va., 
Sunday, Feb. i^, i86^. 
Dear Brother and Sister : 

I received your letter last night, and, as you say my let- 
ters don't come too often, here goes for the answer in hopes 
to get another soon. 

Really you have been having a time visiting. Hope you 
don't go as some folks I have heard of, just to get something 
to eat. "Go it while you're young," or while the year is, 
and the sleighing lasts. By George, but I would Hke just 
one spanking sleigh ride this winter ! Nothing but a 2 40 
horse, drifted roads, a duck of a cutter, and a little ducksie 
with a duck of a bonnet would do me, though. I wouldn't 
be worth a cent without a lively "schoolmarm" to help do it. 
Do they have any such in your part of Chautauqua? But 
talk of sleigh rides for me — it's all bosh. 

You need not look for me to be "one of the three." I 
wouldn't go if they should offer me a furlough. No doubt 
you want to see me, but won't you want to see me more after 
three years ? Such a coming home then will be worth talk- 
ing about. 

The winter is passing away rapidly. About three weeks 
more will bring us round to the same time we left Hall's 
Hill last winter. Ah, then for another summer of fighting! 


Captain C. W. Ayres, Ninth New York Cavalry, called 
to see me the other clay. Con is a first-rate fellow. Straps 
on his shoulders add no "style" to his character. Perhaps 
now you don't understand the military significance of that 
word. It is the same as "airs," "putting on airs." Charlie 
will remember him as we saw him soon after the first Bull 
Run. He says he is coming home on leave soon. He 
bought that farm Uncle Joseph is to live on. 

I went over to see Alf day before yesterday. You may 
believe I have attended to my busmess pretty closely, when 
I tell you that is the second time I have ever had a "pass" 
to go visiting since I've been in the service. I found Alf 
well, enjoying himself like an oyster in the mud. 

You may be surprised to hear that half this army is gone, 
because you see nothing of it in the papers. At least, I do, 
but it is a fact. The Pennsylvania Reserves, Ninth, Sixth 
and Second corps, are all gone, I don't know where, and 
more are going every day. There was a rumor that the 
center Grand Division was to be withdrawn to the defenses 
of Washington and the rest of the army sent to reinforce our 
armies in the south and west. In my opinion that would 
be a good plan. We can do nothing here this winter, and 
if the war is to be fought out there is poor policy in keeping 
this army idle. Even if it is to be settled by writing, an 
overwhelming force at Vicksburg and New Orleans would 
be a good basis for negotiation. 

So the cares of life have begun to fasten on you so soon ! 
Don't know what to do with yourselves, eh ? Oh, don't you 
wish you were soldiers, and then you wouldn't have to know. 
All you would have to do would be to do as you were told. 

I should think if the Adkins place was for sale it would 
be cheap. Some of the Virginia farms remind me of that. 
A house in the middle of a goose pasture. Well, now, how 
do I know but you have bought it, and here I am ridiculing 
your homestead? Well, I stop it. "Nufif ce'd." 

Falmouth, Va., Feb. 25, 186^. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

Though I receive a good many from here and there, your 


letters have had a charm for me 1 found in no others, and I 
have felt uneasy and restless when the mail has come night 
after night and no letter from you. I don't know but I am 
babyish to think so much of my letters, but it is almost all 
I have to do now, to read letters and write and think, think. 
I get tired of this thinking, too, so don't blame me if I write 
the second time in return for yours. 

I received a letter a few nights ago that interested me 
very much. When I left home there was a young lady 
teaching in the village academy. She called the day I lett 
to bid me good-bye and godspeed, and remarked that "she 
could not shoulder the musket but she was going to the war, 
not as la iille du regiment, but as nurse." I am afraid I 
smiled a little incredulously. I did not think she was really 
in earnest, but was only saying something to express her 
sympathy for the soldiers, and ever)- one had plenty of that. 
Before I left Erie, however, she had gone — tendered her 
services, been accepted and sent to St. Louis. I heard no 
more from her till I received that letter, and supposed she 
had long ago returned to her friends in Indianapolis, but 
all this time she had been in the army wherever she could 
soothe the pain or add to the comfort of the sick and wound- 
ed soldiers. Six months she was a prisoner among the 
chivalrous butternuts, much of the time in Corinth. I must 
confess I admire her spirit, don't you? She was not bound, 
as our volunteers are, for any length of time, still she has 
not deserted yet. "Weary often, but never tired,'' she 

One of my tent mates left me yesterday morning to re- 
port in New York. He goes to receive a commission in one 
of the black regiments. He has been in the service three 
months, has never seen a fight except from a distance, and 
cannot tell to-day whether to hold his gun at shoulder arms 
with the barrel or rammer to the front. He has been a 
bugler, an orderly, and the brigade postmaster since he came 
out, and has never drilled at all. Friends got him the com- 
mission, li our negro soldiers are officered by such men, 
I'm afraid they won't amount to much. 

"^Note. — Her name was Ada Johnson. 

Whenever you have leisure, remember that I would be 
very thankful for a letter. Do not think me too much a 
reprobate. I have made a discovery — there are some in the 
army who try to live Christians. The other night I stum- 
bled on a little prayer-meeting. The gathering was small, 
only seven, but it did me more good than many a sermon 

Stoncinan, March j, i86^. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

I can never forgive myself for writing such a letter to 
you as I did last week. How it must have jarred on your 
already overwrought feelings, but, L., I did not, I could not, 
have guessed that the reason I did not receive my usual let- 
ter was that your baby's cradle was empty. It grieves me 
beyond measure to think that I should have written anything 
that would add a sorrow by my thoughtlessness, when you 
had already all you could bear. I can only ask you to for- 
give my haste. If I caused you pain, believe me it was un- 
intentionally done. I have read your letter again and again, 
and every time I have laid it down feeling that I could not 
understand it. Something of that feeling of loneliness I 
can understand. I know how ten thousand times in the day 
something reminds you of the lost, and how, as you move 
about the house lost in thouHit, vour mother's chair mig^ht 
almost seem to be occupied again, or you would listen as 
though you heard the little cry that told you baby's awake, 
and then, as you felt the delusion and knew it never more 
could be, it seems to me I know something of that desolation 
that would creep into your heart, but that does not seem 
to be the main thought in your letter. There is a sweet and 
quiet joy, I might almost say, that I cannot understand. I 
can sympathize with you in your double bereavement, but 
in that consolation so precious to you I have no share. 

I have asked myself again and again what is this mys- 
terious power of religion that so wonderfully supports its 
possessor in times like this? How can she, while the earth 
is yet fresh above the coffin of her only child, and before the 
first blade of grass has sprung on her mother's grave, so far 
forget her own sorrow and bereavement as to feel such an 


interest in me, a person almost a stranger in comparison 
with these? Oh, L., I believe 1 need your sympathy more 
than vou mine. I cannot tell you just how I feel. I would 
be a Christian but I cannot. I mean there is a vague long- 
in£i for that happiness I know must be there, but an un- 
willingness to do my part to secure it. I cannot even yet 
desire to be a Christian so much that I am willing to try. I 
wonder at myself and you will wonder, too, but that is only 
too true. 

You say "we all have idols.'*' What is mine? If God 
should take my sister or my brother or my father I could 
not bear it as you have borne your loss, but I do not think 
they are idols. I hope I shall not wait to be driven home, 
but I'm afraid I shall. 

If you cannot understand this confusion of ideas, this 
mixture of regret and stubbornness, you are no worse ofif 
than myself. I cannot understand my own heart. Your 
letters have aroused some latent sparks of tenderness, but I 
cannot see that that stubborn unconcern is gone — I only wish 
I could. 

As yet all is quiet here in the army. It is just one week 
earlier than the time we started last year, but I hardly think 
we can move so early this spring. In fact it has seemed to 
me that no attempt would be made to take Richmond with 
this army. Two of the six corps have been entirely re- 
moved, and what remains is not strong enough to gain much 
except by strategy. Ah, well, I cannot see what we are 
coming to. If I had your faith I should be a better soldier. 

Remember me in kindness to your husband, and, if I did 
not know you would do so unasked, I would say — remember 
me in your prayers. 

Stoneinan Station, Va., 
Dear Cousin L. : — March i6, i86_^. 

I received a letter from O. M. last week. He appeared 
to be enjoying himself well. The weather was June-like, 
and the boys went round in their shirt sleeves when off duty. 

He says there is a nigger regiment near him with black 
commissioned officers. What do you think of that idea? 
Contact with the contraband has so modified his ideas 


already that he don't like to see them in the same uniform 
he wears, and woolly headed captains are a step in advance 
of his ideas. Ain't you glad you wasn't born in the South 
where such ideas originate? 

Just as you say, there is nothing to write about the war. 
'Tugnacious Joseph" still maintains a state of masterly 

We had a thunderstorm last night, but the storm was 
snow. Robins were singing in the morning. That was 
spring-like, but this morning is winter again. 

Of course I cannot move till we get the command, so I 
am waiting the progress of events. A constant indulgence 
of my Kendallistic propensities enables me to keep a stiff 
upper lip. 

From home I hear that father expects to move to Michi- 
gan in April. I shall have no home to go to now, will I? 
L. is gone and it never did seem like home when she wasn't 
there. I shall have to look out for myself if I ever do get 
through the war. 

E. writes me that he don't want to go west, but if I will 
only say the word he will be down here in the Eighty-third 
as soon as steam can carry him. He is not eighteen yet, but 
will be to-morrow, and I think he better wait, don't you? 
I have had all I could do to keep him at home. He prom- 
ised me once that he would not enlist without my consent, 
and the next letter I received from him he was in a company 
in Harrisburg. He excused himself on the plea of extra- 
ordinary circumstances (Stuart's raid into Pennsylvania), 
and I couldn't blame him much, as he went home again soon. 
Perhaps you will think I do wrong to discourage him, but 
I cannot bear the thought of his coming. It seems to me 
one in our family is enough, but I am afraid that, just so 
sure as there is another excitement, he will come. He will 
never go home if he does, at least so it seems. 

Stoneman Station, Va., 
Tuesday, March 24, 186^. 
Dear Brother and Sister: — 

Well, now about those officers. "Commencing with the 


Corporal" Imprimis (seems to me that's commencing at the 
Httle end of the horn, though) : A Corporal (there are 
eight of them in a full company) occupies about as responsi- 
ble a position as a printer's devil. As "Corporal of the 
Guard" it is his duty to post and relieve the guards and keep 
an open ear for the call of the sentry, "korboral of de gart, 
last number" — when that individual may have discovered a 
"mare's nest" or wants to be relieved to attend to his Vir- 
ginia quickstep. He is considered of little account, and his 
privileges are immunity from standing guard and all fatigue 
duty. He is distinguished by two stripes on the sleeve 

The Sergeants come next (in your order), five in num- 
ber. The fifth or lowest in rank is the Commissar)- Ser- 
geant. He draws and distributes the company's rations. 
The Fourth Sergeant superintends the details of guards and 
fatigue parties. The Third Sergeant and the Second in 
turn act as "Sergeants of the Guard." As such his duty 
is to keep the names of the daily guards, form all reliefs and 
turn them over to the Corporal, turn out the guard on the 
approach of an officer entitled to the compliment. The 
First, or Orderly Sergeant, is the most important of any 
of the non-commissioned officers. He has more to do than 
any other officer in the regiment, except perhaps the Adju- 
tant. He calls every roll, always forms the company, makes 
the reports, and does all the business of the company. His 
pay is $20, other Sergeants $17 per month. They are dis- 
tinguished by three stripes on the sleeves, and the Orderly 
by the addition of a diamond. These marks are called 
chevrons. Of the commissioned officers I need say but little. 
The Captain's duty is to command the company. You know 
what that is well enough. The First Lieutenant takes com- 
mand in the absence of the Captain, and the next the Sec- 
ond Lieutenant. These officers are distinguished by their 
shoulder straps. A Captain's has two bars at each end. A 
First Lieutenant's has one bar at each end, and a Second 
Lieutenant's plain strap without bars. A Major has a gilt 
leaf on each end of his straps, a Lieutenant Colonel silver 
leaves. A Colonel has a silver eagle in the middle of each 
strap. Now, could you tell a man's rank by his marks ? If 


we go further up, I might say that a Brigadier General is 
distinguished by a silver star in the place of the eagle, and a 
Major General by two stars. Officers are also distinguished 
by the buttons on their coats. A line or company officer 
and a staff officer (Adjutants, Surgeons, Chaplains and 
Quartermasters) wear only a single-breasted coat. A field 
officer (Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major) wears two 
rows of buttons at regular spaces. A Brigadier General 
wears three in a group, and a Major General two. 

The meeting of the debating club last night was a feast 
for a hungry mind. The scene reminded me much of some 
exhibition at home. The building is a log one covered with 
canvas, and the seats mere logs, but a big fire Vv^as blazing in 
the fireplace, and the room was warm and comfortable. It 
was decorated with pendant wreaths and loops of evergreen, 
and two tasty chandeliers lit up the hall cheerfully. It was 
filled with well dressed, gentlemanly soldiers, and the exer- 
cises, a paper, a poem, and a debate, were so interesting 
I had hard work to tear myself away before it broke up, but 
duty first and pleasure afterwards is military style. 

Sfoiieman, April 2, iS6j. 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

You come out so hard on O. M. I've a good mind to side 
with him just because he is the weaker party. Perhaps, too, 
I did him injustice in representing that his opinions had 
changed. I supposed that, from his education, he would 
think very much as you do, but if he left home with such 
opinions I shouldn't wonder if he came back with a couple 
of contraband servants, his own property, so much does con- 
tact with the system change northern minds. I am changed, 
too. I used to be quite an abolitionist, as you know, but 
see how hard-hearted I've become. I had been chopping 
wood enough to last me two or three days and left it to 
help the postmaster (my tent mate) tie up the letters for the 
mail. A great lazy nigger whom the general had sent to 
cut w^ood for his cook, took advantage of my absence, and 
instead of cutting any wood, carried all mine into the cook's 
tent. Now I suppose you. out of sympathy for the oppressed, 


would have said nothino- about it, l)ut cut some more 
wood. I couldn't see it in that light. I persuaded the 
darkey to correct his mistake and pile the wood under my 
bed, and I fear I chuckled some over my good fortune in 
getting my wood in for nothing. If it had been a white man 
now, larger than myself, I should have forgiven him, but not 
a "nigger." 

The question for discussion at the club to-night is, 
"Which is the more consistent editor, Horace Greeley or 
James Gordon Bennett?" Which side do you think will 
(not should) gain the decision? 

Nothing will do, I see, but to tell you all about my of- 
fice. I haven't got any office and don't expect to have. 
The nearest approach to it is being my own hostler, for I 
have a horse, and my principal business now is petting and 
taking care of him. I wrote a pass once for Private Norton 
and took it to the general to sign. He wrote at the bottom 
with an "N. B.", "Private Norton is my Brigade Bugler." 
He seemed to think there might be a difference, but I am a 
color bearer, too. I carry the brigade colors on my horse 
with the staff in my stirrup, a la Lancers. Perhaps this 
is the change I may have hinted, for I've only had the colors 
since the battle of Fredericksburg. I have a splendid horse. 
His only fault is that he can only keep two feet on the ground 
at a time. 

Don't be in a hurry about our moving. We shall go 
when Joseph "gets a good ready." 

We had a snow storm on the 31st of March and it will 
take a few days to dry that off. To-day is a glorious day 
for that purpose, though, the wind blows almost a hurricane. 
It has taken half the roof oft' my house since I commenced 
writing. If such a thing should happen to your house, I 
suppose you wouldn't write any more that day. However, 
it did not disturb me much. It only took about five min- 
utes to fix it. 

I've half a mind to denounce you as a dangerous person, 
and have you sent to Fort Lafayette. "You don't want 
to see the Union on its old basis." Well, I do; that's just 
what I came here for. My word for it, you are quite a 


secessionist. You are very frank about it — why didn't you 
''define your position" with an if some way? You don't want 
the Union if slavery is not abolished. Candidly, now, I don't 
like slavery a bit better than you do, but I think it is done 
for bv this war, and I want the Union and the old Consti- 

Yesterday was "All Fools' " day, and it was generally 
observed in the army. Our camp was in a roar from sun- 
rise till "tattoo" with the cracking of practical jokes. One 
of the tallest was perpetrated by our adjutant general. A 
captain in the Twelfth New York has been trying to secure 
the colonelcy of a negro regiment, and Captain Estes (adju- 
tant aforesaid) made out an order purporting to come from 
the Secretary of War, discharging him from service and 
tendering him the commission. It was done up in good 
style, red inked in the right places and regularly signed, all 
right. He was overjoyed, bought several bottles "elixir 
vitae" to treat his brother officers and wet his promotion. 
He then went to Corps Headquarters to get his transporta- 
tion ticket, ana there the officers who had been posted by 
Captain Estes let grimalkin out of the reticule. Captain E. 
sent another order to a thick-headed lieutenant, the butt 
of the regiment, to report to Colonel Stockton as Aide-de- 
Camp in the absence of Lieutenant Jewett. He reported, and 
was coolly informed that Lieutenant J. was not absent, and 
when his services were required the colonel would send him 
a mule. 

Stoneumn Station, Va., 
Wednesday, April 8, 186^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Your long letter of March 31st reached me in due time. 
For once I have not been very prompt, but you will have 
to excuse me. I have been moving. Yes, moving, for I 
am returned to the regiment. Colonel Vincent could not be 
satisfied to let me stay when I had a good berth, but insisted 
on my coming back. My reward for strict attention to 
duty is this, retrograde promotion. The colonel's reason 
for promoting me was to put me in charge of the bugle 


corps here to play for dress parade in the place of a band. 
You may believe I was some vexed about it, and if it were 
not that I hope to get back to headquarters, I would smash 
my bugle over a stump and take a musket again. Some 
one else will ride my horse now (you know how I have 
always loved a horse and can guess how I shall miss him), 
and some one else will carry my colors. Perhaps you will 
be glad of that. T come back to the original position of a 
private. Though I was nominally only a private there, I 
had really the privileges of a commissioned officer, some 
of them, at least, and the advantage of line officers, in that 
I had a horse to ride. My pay, too, by the next muster 
would have been twenty-one dollars per month. If I had 
been thrown out of this place for any fault of my own, I 
would have said nothing about it, but I did squirm some to 
find that I was only recalled because Colonel Vincent wanted 
a good bugler in the regiment, and cared nothing about what 
they had at headquarters. Coming back to the regiment 
seems almost like leaving the comforts of a home and enlist- 
ing again. I did not half realize the privileges T did enjoy 
till I came to be deprived of them. 

If you don't have better weather than we have had for a 
week past you will not make much sugar. It is cold for 
April. Cold north winds blowing all the time, most. I can- 
not stand round without my overcoat, without shivering like 
a man with the ague. 

Yesterday Abraham paid us a visit, or rather he didn't. 
He reviewed all the other regiments in the brigade, but by 
some blunder of Colonel Stockton's he made a bridge of our 
nose. It was rather provoking to see him pass within ten 
rods of us and not so much as nod to us. We had made 
great preparations and expected a speech. Our old Penin- 
sula flag, tattered and blood-stained, was brought out and 
put beside the new one, but it was no go, Abraham didn't 
see it. 

To-day there is a big review^ Our brigade has gone on 
picket, so I didn't go out, but I saw the most of our corps 
go by. The regulars ( Sykes' division ) don't begin to come 
up to the volunteers in soldierly bearing and appearance. 


They seem to have no pride about it and only do what they 
are forced to do. 

Stoiienian Station, Va., 
Friday, May 8, i86j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Well, now to dash right into it, for I have something 
to write this time. We left camp Monday, April 27th, with 
eight days' rations, and night found us at Hart wood Church, 
ten miles up the river. Here our corps (Fifth) joined the 
Eleventh and Twelfth corps, and next day we all marched to 
Kelly's Ford. Wednesday morning early we crossed the 
river, and after marching hard all day forded the Rapidan, 
water waist deep, and the Eighty-third was sent to the front 
on picket. Next day we marched on again, and noon found 
us at Chancellorsville, a big brick house in a field surrounded 
by a wilderness of woods. Here we halted and spent the 
night, and here the great battle of the war was fought. 

Friday morning our brigade made a reconnoissance to- 
wards the Rappahannock. On the road we found a newly 
deserted camp with tents all standing, and in it some of 
the French knapsacks and muskets we lost at Gaines' Mill. 
We returned in the afternoon and there was some skirmish- 
ing with the enemy. Saturday was spent in building breast- 
works, and in the afternoon the rebels arrived. They at- 
tacked our lines furiously in the center, but were repulsed. 
At first the Eleventh Corps (Sigel's Dutchmen) gave way, 
and Sickles' division (the one Alf is in) was sent in. 
They drove the rebs back and held them. At night we lay 
on our arms behind our works. The moon was full and it 
was almost as light as day. Six or seven times the attack 
was made in the same place and every time repulsed. It 
was an anxious night, for the morrow all felt sure would be 
a bloody Sunday, and so it was. We w^ere up at light and 
moved off to the right of the center, and immediately went 
to work building breastworks. Just as the sun came up the 
enem.y came on. Their whole army was massed on half a 
mile of our center, and Jackson told his men "they must 
break our line if it killed every man they had," but we were 


prepared for them. Our iirst line in front of the works 
was overpowered and driven in, and they rushed on. Artil- 
lery and infantry met them. Protected by their breast- 
works, our men poured it into them. Grape and canister 
swept through their columns, mowing them down. Still, 
on they came, like a vast herd of buffaloes, struggling over 
the trees and brush, dasning, brave, impetuous, but doomed 
to destruction. Thousands of them charged right up to our 
works, but, the line shattered, comrades killed, they could 
do nothing but throw down their arms, retreat being im- 
possible. For six hours they persevered and then withdrew. 
You must imagine the scene — 1 cannot describe it. The roar 
was unearthly ; there is no better word for it. I shudder at 
the slaughter. Ours was fearful enough, but a drop in 
the bucket to theirs. In it all our brigade did not fire a shot. 
Right in sight of the fighting, expecting to be attacked, they 
spent the day and night, and next day and night. Monday 
and Tuesday we were waiting for them, confident of victory. 
While we were busy there, Sedgwick with his corps crossed 
the river and took the heights of Fredericksburg, capturing 
their big guns, but I learn that he was afterwards driven 

Wednesday, to our great surprise, we recrossed the river 
and returned to our old camps. No one seems to understand 
the move, but I have no doubt it is all right. It rained all 
day and it was the toughest march we've had in many a day. 
Tramp, tramp, through the mud. I was almost ready to 
drop when I got in, but I did not fall out, though half the 
regiment did when they found we were coming to camp. 

So here we are with eight days' rations and orders to be 
ready to march again. I don't know anything about the 
meaning of it. I would give half a dollar for to-day's 

Stoneman Station, Va., 
Sunday, May lo, i86^. 
Dear Mother: — 

I wrote to E. on Monday. Perhaps I better continue 

*Note. — Error — Sedgwick was not driven back, but recrossed 
the river at Banks' Ford. 


my journal. We were then lying in line of battle, and 
soon after my letter was off, our Second brigade went out 
to feel of the rebels, and stirred up a muss that we expected 
would resuh in a general engagement. The firing was 
sharp for half an hour, our men retreating till the rebels had 
followed into range of the artillery, which opened on them, 
and they soon fell back. That was the last of the fighting. 
During the night the pickets had a sharp skirmish and we 
were called to our guns, but it soon died away and we slept 
again. We, I say, for I counted myself in. I do not carry 
a gun, and in battle as a musician I am in charge of the sur- 
geons to carry off the wounded. This did not suit me at all. 
It involved the necessity of going on the field, and I am too 
much of a coward to walk quietly where bullets whistle and 
have nothing to say myself. When I can return ball for 
ball, cheer, and shout defiance to the enemy, my courage is 
as good as anybody's, but not to walk through them with my 
hands full. So, on the first appearance of fight, I picked up 
a rifle and cartridge box and joined Company K. Our good 
fortune kept us out of the fight, but I felt much better with 
the company than anywhere else. But this is a digression. 
Tuesday was very quiet. In the afternoon a tremendous 
thunder shower burst upon us. Our trenches in an hour's 
time were full of water. The rain continued all night, yes, 
for three days. 

About 2 o'clock Wednesday morning we were ordered 
to pack up silently, and in a few minutes we were on the 
retreat. To say we were surprised would give but a feeble 
idea of our feelings. We felt more confident than ever 
that we could repulse all that could be brought against us. 
But for some reason, satisfactory to General Hooker no 
doubt, we did recross the river, and night saw us in our old 
camps. The Eighty-third had the post of honor, the last 
regiment to cross, and our brigade was the rear guard, but 
we were not molested. It was one of the hardest marches 
we ever had, and I am stiff and sore from the effects of it. 
Most of the way the mud was over shoe, in some places knee 
deep, and the rain made our loads terrible to tired shoulders, 
but it is all over now. 


We have eight days' rations again, and orders to be ready 
to move at any time. 

Head quarters Third Brigade, 
May 20, iS6j. 
General Orders No. 3. 

I. The honrs for service and parades of ceremony will 
be the same throughout the brigade. 

II. Each duty will be ordered by its proper call, sounded 
first by the bugler at these headquarters, and the 
call at its close will be immediately taken up and 
repeated by the buglers at Regimental Head- 

III. Reveille 5 :oo a. m. 

Breakfast call 5 130 a. m. 

Sick call 6 :oo a. m. 

Drill call (by company) 6 130 a. m. 

Recall 8 :oo a. m. 

Assembly of the guard 8 130 a. m. 

(The proper Troop will be sounded by the 
drums of the guard before beating oflf.) 

Dinner call 12 :oo m. 

Drill call (by regiment or brigade) ... 4:00 p. m. 

Assembly (for dress parade) 6 145 p. m. 

To the color 7 :oo p. m. 

(The proper Retreat will be sounded by the 
drum corps of each regiment before beating ofif.) 

Tattoo 8 130 p. m. 

Extinguish lights (taps with drums). 9:00p.m. 

IV. Brigade drills will be had on Tuesdays and Thurs- 


V. Saturdays will be given to the men as heretofore for 
purpose of bathing and washing clothes. 

VI. The usual Sunday morning inspection will be by 
regiment at 10 a. m. 




VIL Guard will hereafter be mounted by brigade ac- 
cording to the form indicated in General Butter- 
field's "Standing Orders", with such alterations as 
will be verbally communicated by the A. A. A. G. 
The detail from each regiment will be one com- 
missioned officer, one sergeant, two corporals and 
twenty-six men. 

VIII. Dress Parade will, on Sundays, be held by brigade 
according to a form to be hereafter designated. 

By command of 

Strong Vincent, 
Colonel Commanding Brigade. 

Headquarters, Third Brigade, 

First Division, Fifth A. C, 
Wednesday, May 2/, 186^. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

The concluding portion of your letter is already an- 
swered. I have a very good prospect of getting back to 
headquarters, inasmuch as I am here now. My horse is fat 
as a cub and sleek as a mole, and my flag — oh, I must tell 
you about the new flag; it is a quaint concern. This is the 
shape of it : triangular, six feet on a side. The border is 
blue, the middle white, and the Maltese cross is red. The 
red cross is the badge by which our division is known. Red, 
•white and blue crosses. First, Second and Third Divisions of 
Fifth Corps. 

We have moved camp about two miles northwest of the 
railroad station. The brigade is camped in line on a big 
hill, and headquarters are in a large orchard overlooking 
the line. It is a splendid place. I have pitched my tent 
under an apple tree that shades me all day long, and a mock- 
ing-bird sings to me the sweetest song ever heard. He com- 
bines in one the song of every bird I ever heard and many 
I haven't. One minute he's a bobolink, the next a lark or a 
robin, and he's never tired of singing. 


Benson's Mill, Va., 

June I, i86s- 
Dear Cousin L. : — 

You see by the dating of my letter that we have moved 
again. Benson's IMill is the most appropriate name of this 
village. I wonder they didn't call it a city or at least a 
"ville." It is a larger place than Charles City or Chancell- 
orsville, as it contains two buildings, and those places only 
one each. Perhaps I am wrong about Charles City and it 
ought to be called the city of magnificent distances, for there 
is a jail about half a mile from the court house, and a tavern 
of '*ye olden time" the same distance the other way, prob- 
ably all within the limits of the corporation. 

But about our moving. Our brigade had just got com- 
fortably settled in the nicest place for a camp T have seen 
yet, when at lo o'clock one morning the order came, "Break 
camp and prepare to march immediately," and by noon we 
were on the road. We found that we were to relieve cav- 
alry pickets on the river and at the fords beyond the infan- 
try lines of the army. The brigade is scattered along the 
river for six or eight miles. The Eighty-third is on the 
right at Richards Ford, the Twentieth Maine next at United 
States Ford, the Sixteenth Michigan next at Benson's Mill 
and the Forty-fourth New York (Ellsworth's Avengers) at 
Banks Ford on the left. The camps are near the fords, 
and the pickets extend right and left to connect with each 
other and watch every point. The rebel pickets are in plain 
sight on the other side of the river, not over ten rods apart, 
and though no communication is allowed, there is some 
talking across the water. One of the rebs called out yes- 
terday at United States Ford : "I say, you Yanks, why didn't 
you shoot General Hill? He stood right here half an hour 
ago." Our boys had seen a man pass along their lines, 
but supposed he was the officer of the guard. There is a 
good understanding between them, and neither side will 
fire unless an attempt to cross is made. The rebs go in 
bathing on their side the river, and our boys do the same 
on ours. Colonel Vincent and his stafif rode along the 
lines in plain sight and I followed carrying the flag, but 


they did not fire. I thought it was a risky piece of busi- 
ness, but I think I can go where he can. I am afraid he 
is a Uttle too rash sometimes. We were riding along the 
bank last night just about sunset. Suddenly he stopped, 
and taking a map from his pocket, commenced to examine 
it. Just in the edge of the wood on the other side I saw 
the glistening of a rifle barrel, and I uttered some excla- 
mation of surprise. ''What is it, Norton ?" said he. "Noth- 
ing," I replied, "only I was thinking if I was a picket here, 
and should see a rebel general across there, I couldn't re- 
sist the temptation to draw a bead on him." "Well, it is a 
little risky to stop, that's a fact," said he, "we'll get out 
of this,'' and I was glad when he got out of range. Con- 
found 'em ! I don't think it's safe to trust them. I 
wouldn't be afraid of their firing at me, but I'm afraid to 
trust their promises with a Union oflicer within range of 
their guns. 

I don't remember whether I told you that I had re- 
turned to my old place at headquarters or not. I came 
back on the 226. of May. Colonel Vincent took command 
of the brigade then and took me with him. Headquarters 
are located near the center of the brigade, and of course I 
have no bugling to do. In fact I have just nothing to do. 
The Colonel says he shall find me some work in the office, 
copying orders, probably. 

We are pleasantly situated, though it seems rather lonely 
to see none of the regiments about. 

Strawberries are beginning to ripen, and I presume we 
shall have them quite plenty, as there are so few to pick 

I am much obHged for your description of the house and 
its inmates. I think I have a pretty good idea of it now. 
I had no idea till lately that you had so large a family. ' 
That young man — well, I suppose he is like most young 
men in that respect. No doubt he did not intend to do 
any such thing, but was betrayed into it. 

And now I've got a "bone to pick" with you. "It 
seems much more terrible'' to enslave a white child than 
it does to enslave a black one. You "suppose it is no worse," 


but "it seems to be." Then you have some of the prejudice 
of color? You must be more guarded. Don't let such ex- 
pressions drop in your letters to me, for I may make capital 
of them to oppose your ''radicalism." 

June 6, 1803. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Headquarters are at Crittenden's Mill, twenty miles 
above Fredericksburg-. The Eighty-third guards Kempel's 
Ford. The Sixteenth Michigan and Twentieth Maine 
guard Ellis' Ford. The Forty-fourth New York is in re- 
serve at the Mill. Franklin has crossed below Fredericks- 
burg and is fighting this morning. I can hear the cannon. 

Headquarters, Third Brigade, First Division, 

Fifth Army Corps, 
Crittenden's Mill, Va., June 8, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have no letter of yours to answer, but having nothing 
to do and knowing that you are always glad to hear from 
me, perhaps I can't do better than to spend an hour jotting 
down for your amusement a few incidents by the way. 
Life at headquarters is pleasant on one account — it gives 
me a better opportunity to see and talk with the people of 
the country than I had in the regiment. 

You will see by this that we have again moved. Since 
the 27th ult. we have been engaged in guarding the river 
at different points above Fredericksburg. Crittenden's 
Mill is some twenty miles above town and two miles back of 
the river. Ellis' Ford and Kempel's Ford are near, and our 
brigade is ordered to guard these crossings and watch the 
enemy on the other side. Reports of the observations have 
to be sent to Division headquarters every four hours of the 
day and night. Headquarters are at the house of a certain 
widow James. She has three sons in the rebel army and is 
a pretty loud secesh herself. My bivouac is in one of the 
old lady's tobacco houses, and there I am writing this at 
present, so if it smells of tobacco don't charge it to my 
habits. On the road up here we stopped one night at the 


house of a Mr. Imbray. He was a cripple and at home, 
but made no secret of his being sccesh tO' the backbone. *'I 
belong to the South,"' said he, "and my heart is with the 
South. If I was with the army I should shoot at you with 
all the power I had, but, meeting as we do, I shall not 
allow any difiference of opinion to influence my treatment 
of vou." (Very considerate, wasn't he, when we had the 
force there to enforce respect?) But it wasn't of him I 
meant to speak, but of his daughters. There were two, one 
a lady of "uncertain age," and the other not. The "not" 
was about eighteen, and the bitterest, rabidest, outspoken- 
est, cantankerous-est specimen of secesh femininity I've 
come across yet. She had no objection to talk, and she com- 
menced at me when she saw my flag, with, "Is that a Yankee 
flag?" "Well, the Yankees use it," said I, "but here's the 
Yankee flag," and I unrolled a new silk "star spangled" and 
waved it over her head. "Don't you think," said I, "that 
that's a prettier flag than the 'stars and bars?' " "No, in- 
deed ! I can't see it, sir — no, sir — give me the Confederate 
flag. I don't want none o' yer gridirons about me." 
Finally after some bantering we dropped the subject and I 
induced her after a chaffer to sell me two quarts of milk 
for half a dollar, and she offered me half a loaf of rye bread 
for the same price, but I preferred hard tack. "We're no 
way particular about prices with you all," she said. "So I 
see," meekly replied I. Next morning we were going, and 
I was bound to have some fun first, so I opened by asking 
her if she didn't sometimes feel lonesome with none of the 
young men about. "Well, sir, not lonesome enough to care 
to see you Yankees about." (Repulse.) "Have you any 
relatives in the rebel army?" "I have two brothers and a 
lover in the Confederate army." (Cool — that about the 
lover.) "Then Yankee boys stand no chance in your good 
graces?" "No, sir, I hate the sight of them." (Cooler 
yet.) "Why, I don't think you are a secessionist." (Tac- 
tics.) "Well, I am, sir, I am true to the South." (I wish 
I could write their pronunciation of South ; it beats all the 
down-east you ever heard of.) "No, you are a Yankee, 
at least a Yankee secesh." "No, indeed, sir, nary drop o' 


Yankee blood in my veins, 1 tell you, sir." "Oh, but you 
are, begging- your pardon, and I'll prove it to you." "No, 
sir, you can't do that, sir ; better tell that to some one else. 
If I had any Yankee blood in me I'd let it out. Yes, in- 
deed, I would.'' "Well, you acknowledge that a Yankee 
thinks more of property and money than anything else, 
don't you?" "Yes, sir, I've heard they do, and I believe 
it." "Yes, well, you're a Yankee then. If you were a 
secesh you would go with the South and help them. True 
secesh women do that, but your family have some property 
here and you stay to take care of it and let the South get 
along the best she can. You are a genuine Yankee, say 
what you please. You wouldn't go and share the fortunes 
of your 'Sunny South,' but you must stay to keep the 
Yankees from destroying the property." Oh, how she did 
sputter ! "To think that she should be called a Yankee !" I 
guess she'll get over it. 

Down on the bank of the river I went into a house and 
met a young married woman with a baby in her arms. She 
had been pretty once and it was not age that spoiled her 
beauty, but care. "Can you sell me a pie, or something 
good for my dinner?" said I. "A pie! sir," said she. "Well, 
now, sir, if I was to tell you that I have not tasted or seen 
a piece of pie for more than a year, would you believe 
me?" "I certainly should if you said so. Of course I 
couldn't doubt n lady's word." "Sir, 'fore God it is the 
truth. I have only been married 'bout a year, and my hus- 
band, who was an overseer, came on to this place after the 
fruit was all gone, and I've had no fruit. I haven't seen a 
bit of sugar, nor coffee, nor tea for nigh eight months, I 
reckon," and she went on and gave me such a story of 
struggles to keep alive, to get enough to keep from starving, 
as made all the hard times I have ever seen seem like a life 
of luxury. I did pity her. On such as she, the poor whites 
of the South, the burden of this war is heaviest. She had 
but little sympathy for the South or North either. She 
cared but little how the war ended, so it ended soon. Poor 
woman, she understood but little of the nature of the con- 
test. She sent a little darky girl to bring in a pan of milk. 


The girl came with it balanced on her head, not touching 
her hands. I remarked how strange it seemed to me to see 
everybody in the south carry pails on their heads. "Why," 
said she, "how do you-all carry 'em?" "In our hands." 
She laughed. "I have to tote all my water up a steep bank, 
and, if I toted it in my hand, it would pull me over." She 
gave me some milk, and by the time I had eaten my dinner 
the colonel came back from the lines, and I mounted my 
horse and came back to camp. 

Strawberries are ripe and I get a few. No more news 
from Fredericksburg. 

Gettysburg, Penn., 
July 4, 186 s, 10 A. M. 
Dear Father: — • 

I am safe and well. We have met the enemy and given 
them hell. Colonel Vincent is mortally wounded. Alf 
Ayres is safe ; so is Conway. No time for more. 

Line of Battle, 
Three miles southeast of Hagerstozun, Md., 

Sunday, July 12, 186^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

All my writing material is in my knapsack and I have 
had no chance to write since the 4th, when I sent you a line 
to say I was safe. Now I have begged a scrap of paper 
just to relieve your impatience for news, but I can't write 
much more now. 

Since the great victory at Gettysburg we have been 
straining every nerve to overtake and strike the enemy be- 
fore he leaves Maryland. Thousands of the men are bare- 
foot, and officers, too, but they are bravely struggling on, 
footsore and hungry, enduring everything without a mur- 
mur, so we may finish the war now. 

We had one of the greatest battles of the war, and a 
great victory, too. The old Third Brigade fought like 
demons, took four hundred prisoners, and laid the rebels 
in heaps before them. We were splendidly posted behind 
rocks and trees, and you may judge of the fight when I tell 
vou that of thirteen hundred men in such a position we lost 


three hundred and fifty-nine and no prisoners. Colonel 
Vincent was mortally wounded, and died on the 7th. That 
was a loss to our brigade that cannot be replaced. The 
night he was wounded I went in to see him. He was very 
weak, but he held out his cold hand to me and asked "if I 
had just come from the front." When I told him yes, and 
how well the boys had fought, his eye brightened, but he 
was too weak to talk much. His commission as Brigadier 
General was read to him on his death-bed. 

There are thousands of things I could tell you that I can- 
not write. The main thing is to tell you that I am still safe 
and well, doing my duty the best I can, never shunning 
danger when it calls, but ever coming out safe. With that 
for the present you must be content. I am tired, almost 
worn out, haven't had my shoes ofif for a week, lying some- 
times in the heaviest rain without a shelter, not allowed a 
minute of my own, and you can see I have but little time 
to write. 

Edwin Willcox has been within ten minutes' ride of me 
for a week, and yet I have not and cannot go to see him. 

Last night there was one of the grandest sights ever 
seen. The whole Army of the Potomac advanced two rriiles 
in line of battle, column by division, ten lines deep. As far 
as the eye could reach through fields of wheat, corn and 
clover that grand line was moving on. 

I have no time for more. Write to me (at headquarters) 
as soon as you can. Alf is well. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, Berli}i, Md., 

Friday, July ij, iS6^. 
Dear Friends at Home: — ■ 

I have received several letters from you lately, but have 
had no opportunity of answering them till now. I sent 
you a leaf fromx my memorandum book from the field of 
Gettysburg on the 4th, just to say I was safe, and I hope 
you received it. A citizen said he would take it to York. 
Since then we have been on the move constantly. I have 
not seen my portfolio till this morning, and had nothing to 
write on if I had had time. 



Colonel Eighty-th ird Pennsylvania Volunteers. 
Brigaflier General U. S. Volunteers. 

The past three have been eventful weeks and I begin to 
hope the back of the rebellion is broken. If the Mississippi 
had any special relation to the monster, it certainly is, for 
yesterday we received official information that the river was 
open. At Gettysburg I think we broke the ribs on one 
side. At all events we came nearer to it than we ever did 
before. Oh, that was a terrible fight ! I rode over a great 
part of the ground on the left, on the 5th, and of all the 
carnage I ever saw that was the most horrible. All over the 
field were scattered black and bloated corpses of men. and 
dead horses, wrecks of caissons and gun carriages. I was 
galloping along the road when all at once my horse sprang 
to one side, and looking to see what started him, I saw the 
bodies of thirteen rebels lying in the mud with the pitiless 
rain beating on their ghastly faces. That would have been 
a horror at home ; there it was only a glimpse of what might 
be seen. The rebels seemed to have left all their deaa, 
while ours were buried immediately, and the wounded all re- 
moved that could be, by the night of the 4th. Colonel Vin- 
cent died on the 7th, as brave and gallant a soldier as ever 
fell. His commission as Brigadier General was read to him 
on his death-bed. His loss is felt deeply by the brigade. 
There is no one to fill his place. No one here can march 
a brigade as he could. He had less straggling, less of 
everything evil and more of everything good than any other 
brigade in the division. Oh, how we loved him ! But he 
is gone. 

Colonel Rice, now in command, is known as ''Old 
Crazy,'' as Colonel Stockton was ''Jack o' Clubs." He is 
brave enough, but in a fight too excitable to do anything 

We followed the rebs as fast as possible to Williams- 
port, but while we thought they were fastened, they again 
got away from us, and now we cannot catch them this side 
of Richmond. We are on the Potomac four miles below 
Harper's Ferry, and here we must rest a few days. 

The men have pressed on since the fight, barefooted, 
hungry, lousy and faint, animated by the hope of giving 
Lee his finishing blow. The horses are worn out, every 


day's march killing from five to twenty in each battery. 
They must rest and be shod up before we can go on. I 
said the men were lousy. You hardly know what that 
means, but if you were in the ranks you would, not head lice, 
but body lice, that crawl all over shirts and pants. Noth- 
ing but boiling will kill them, and for three weeks no one 
has had a chance to boil a shirt. For eleven days and nights 
I did not take off my shoes to sleep. 

Well, I must close. I have a dozen letters to write and 
my clothes to wash. If we stay here long enough I will 
write again, but whether you hear from me or not, write 
as often as you can. I saw Conway /\yres yesterday and 
Alf the day before, both well. Love to all. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, London Co., Va., 

Tuesday, July 21, iS6j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

When I wrote before, if I remember rightly, we were in 
line of battle near Hagerstown and Williamsport, expecting 
another fight, but again the wary Lee escaped. We stopped 
at Williamsport the night after he crossed, and next day 
moved on after him, marching twenty-five miles and cross- 
ing the famous South Mountain. Next day we moved on 
again twelve miles to Berlin on the Potomac, four miles 
south, and in sight of Harper's Ferry. Here we hoped to 
rest a little. We had reached a railroad and a good place 
for getting supplies, and men and horses needed rest. 
Thousands of men were barefoot, officers, too, and all were 
dirty and lousy. I believe I state a fact when I say that not 
twenty men (who carried their clothing) in any regiment 
but were swarming with vermin. They are the pest of the 
army, and though you hear but little about it, they are al- 
ways here. More clothing is thrown away on that very 
account than is worn out. 

I say we hoped to rest and get new clothes and shoes 
and boil up the old ones, but the pontoons were already 
laid and next day saw us in V^irginia. We have been slowly 
moving down the Loudon Valley since. The weather is 
very hot, and eight or ten miles is all the artillery can march 


in a day, so that is all we move. We have got about down 
to the scene of our fight with the cavalry on the 21st of 
June. I must always think of the gallant Colonel Vincent 
in connection with that, but his sword is sheathed forever, 
and glorious "old Jim," who carried Colonel McLane at 
Gaines' Mill and the commandant of the Eighty-third, who- 
ever he might be, ever since, has served his time and gone 
home to Erie. My horse is all right yet. He is a war- 
horse every inch. He will stand by a cannon while it is 
fired, without flinching, and I can ride him over all the dead 
and mangled horses that can be piled in his road. He 
don't like the shells too near his ears, but I can manage him 
then. While our line was forming on the hill at Gettys- 
burg I came out with him in full view of the rebel lines. 
They opened two batteries on us instantly, firing at the 
colors. Colonel Vincent looked to see what was drawing 
the fire and yelled at me: "Down with that flag, Norton! 
D — n it, go behind the rocks with it !" I obeyed, of course. 
I did not see him again until he was brought back wounded. 
When the rebels charged our line I left my horse and flag 
with the mounted orderlies, and getting a gun went in on 
the right of the Forty-fourth New York, just in front of 
where we dismounted. In the cavalry fight I followed 
Colonel Vincent everywhere with the flag, most of the time 
right up to the skirmishers, but there he thought I had bet- 
ter keep it out of sight. 

I am nearer sick than I have been for a year. T couldn't 
walk a mile, and if there was a hospital within reach I am 
afraid I should give up. As it is, I could only ride along 
in an ambulance, and as long as I can stand it I shall ride 
my horse. I manage to attend to my duties yet. I have 
never been excused a day, and if possible never will. 

What glorious news of victory we are receiving! It 
looks as though we could see the beginning of the end. I 
wish the end were nearer. 

Camp near Warrenton, Va., 

Dear Parents : — ■ j j 

It is seldom that I have written so few letters after a 


great battle as I liave since the battle of Gettysburg. I 
have had two good reasons, one that we have been almost 
constantly on the move since, and the other that 1 have not 
been able to write. I have said but little about it, not wish- 
ing to cause you anxiety, but for three weeks 1 have had 
all I could do to keep along in my place. The night of 
the 4th of July it rained tremendously, and I had little shel- 
ter and lay in water half an inch deep all night. I was too 
much exhausted to stand up or even to keep awake. I was 
wet through most of the time for a week after, and a very 
bad diarrhea set in which destroyed my appetite and made 
me very weak. I would not take doctor's stuff, thinking 1 
could wear it oft' as I always have done, but it held on well 
this time. At last I did take a physic, and when we got into 
]\Ianassas Gap the blackberries cured me up. I feel more 
like myself to-day than I have for almost a month. Noth- 
ing but my horse and a firm resolve to hold out to the last 
has kept me out of the hospital this time. I could not have 
walked half a mile a good many days that I have rode fif- 
teen. I could have found time to write a good many more 
letters if I had been well, but as it was, as soon as we 
stopped I could do nothing more than lie down and rest. 

I received your letters of the loth at Rectortown, on the 
Gap railroad. I was very glad to see them, the first I had 
heard from you since you received news of my safety. Two 
things in it surprised me — one was the direction — that let- 
ter was two days in the regiment before I got it because it 
was directed to the regiment. Always direct, ''Headquar- 
ters Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, 
Washington, D. C." Don't put on regiment or company. 
Headquarters mail is pushed right through, when the large 
bags don't come, and very often I don't go to the regiment 
for three or four days, and any mail sent there waits till I 

The other surprising thing w^as — "do come home.'' As 
many soldiers have been spoiled by just such letters from 
anxious parents as any other way. Mother writes, "Come 
home ; I do so want to see my boy if only for a little while." 
Soldier writes that he would come if he could, and begins 


to think about it and chafe and fret at his bonds till he 
worries himself homesick and isn't worth a row of pins. 
You have never said much to me of that sort, but it would 
not make much difference if you did. I made up my mind 
when I enlisted to stay till the matter was settled or my 
three years served out. As long as I am well I wouldn't 
come home if I had a furlough in my hand, which, I might 
remark, is a place very difficult to get a furlough in now- 
adays. If I were sick and in a hospital, I should perhaps 
try to get home, but not while I stay in the field. This 
off and on soldiering is hard on a person's nerves. You will 
be the more glad to see me when I have been gone three 
long years. 

I am very glad, ^Mother, that you like your new home 
so well. Aristocracy in these days ought to be at a dis- 
count. Shoddycracy is pretty large in New York, they say, 
the hideous offspring of the monster war. I am afraid the 
army would not suit you very well on that very account, 
supposing you could be in it. One of the officers of my 
own company can write no more than his own name, and 
that scarcely legible, yet military rules require me always 
to touch my cap when I speak to him, as an acknowledg- 
ment of his superiority. 

You ask if I have any fruit. I have had but little. 
Cherries have been plenty in the country we passed through, 
but I have had little chance to get them. We never know 
at what minute we shall move. Orders come at daylight, 
at sunset, at noon, at midnight, "Prepare to march imme- 
diately," and the first thing is — "Bugler sound the gen- 
eral" (the call to strike tents), so that I am obliged to be 
always at my post. The men in the regiments scatter out 
in the country, get fruit and buy bread and pies, but I 
can't leave and so don't get much. Blackberries I have had 
a better chance at, for they are everywhere. You may know 
how close I am kept v/hen I tell you that I have been trying 
for a month to see Edwin Willcox, and, though he has slept 
within half or a quarter of a mile from me a good many 
nights, I have never seen him yet. 

I wish you would put up two or three cans of fruit for 


me, so that, if we go into winter (|uarters again, you can 
send them to me. Fruit is something I miss as much as 
anything in the army. The sutler makes no bones of charg- 
ing seventy-five cents for a tumblerful of jelly. 

I wish you would send me, if you can get it, next time 
you write, a little camphor gum and assafoetida. If you 
cannot get the latter send the camphor alone, just a little, 
what you can put in a letter. I want it to drive away lice. 

In regard to that expression that shocked you so much. 
I am sure I meant nothing irreverent, and, as Father re- 
marked, it is a common expression in the army for a hot 
reception of the enemy. Used in that sense, it does not seem 
so inappropriate, for such fighting, such bloody carnage 
belongs more to demons than to this fair earth. No refer- 
ence to anything in their condition after death was intended. 
That is not for us to judge. 

I had intended to write more, but a heavy shower is 
coming up for which I must prepare, and I shall have no 
more time before the mail closes. 

We expect to rest here a little while, hope to, at least. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, Benleton, Va., 

Wednesday, August 5, 186 j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Your letter of Tuesday evening a week ago reached 
me last evening, just a week on the way. I answer to-day, 
for here in the army more than anywhere else it is not safe 
to boast of to-morrow, for we know not what a day may 
bring forth. We lay at Warrenton a w^eek. At W. I 
said, we were three miles south of town. 

Last Monday morning four hundred men left the brigade 
to go somewhere for "fatigue duty." I suppose you know 
that "fatigue" is duty where spades (or axes) are trumps. 
As soon as they were gone the remainder commenced lay- 
ing out the ground for a permanent camp in accordance with 
orders. Well, at 4 p. m. came the order ''Strike tents and 
prepare to march immediately." Such contradictory orders 
used to excite a deal of wrath among the men, but I have 


noticed that lately nothing is said. The men are ready at 
the minute and marcli off wilhngly. ^ 

We started about dark and marched about five or six 

2tTJnV\T ""f ''"'"■ You may have heard of 
ha CU3, situated on the Orange & Alexandria railroad, 

out rr^nl °"^ ^'™" """^'".^ ^-^'-d ---n), and 

We are in almost a desert. There are some trees and 

saw thif ?-'"^ ""'•'''' ''"^ °^ ^" 'h^ P°°^ ^°il^ I ever 

.:La'rbert?ai;°^ ^"^ °^ ^^^^' -'- -^^ ^^^^ °^ *'- 

I heard General Griffin (commanding corps) sav .es- 
terday that we would stay here till SeptLber' and L" Or- 
dered he camps laid out accordingly. This intention is 
evidently to be taken without reference to retl move 
ments. Should they make another invasion or tLt son 
of thmg of course it would change our program. If thev 
keep quiet I think there is a fair prospect of our lying stU 

men wil be coming in, our decimated regiments filled up 
and by the time cooler weather comes we will be in splen 
didxondition I do not think we will lie six weeks of tl^ 
bes part of the year as we did at Antietam last fall. Gen- 
eral Meade don't seem to be that sort of a man. But rest 
now IS necessary, not so much for the men as for the horses 
A week s rest will do for the men, but the horses must have 

strength. Why, every day smce we returned to Virginia 
every day we have marched. Battery D, Fifth United States' 
has turned out to die from four to ten horses, ^fanv of 

rs'oicT h'''"T "^'k™'" ^°°' ^^™ horses (the farm- 
ers pick them all up) but some are so far gone that thev ' 
d.e ,n the road. Everywhere we march there is a dead 
horse or mule on the road every bad place we come to, and 
often there are three or four. I tell you hot weather and 

ust i!t""!, ""„"P .'""'^■'>- '^°'-^^^- My horse stands it 
just first-rate. He is as fat as he ought to be to travel 
and aUvays feels well. All the grain he gets is about a 
peck per day. I kept him on hard tack for nearly a week 


in Pennsylvania. Our teams were twenty-five miles off 
and no "rain to be had. 

I think the last I wrote to you 1 told you that I had 
been sick. Lest you should worry about me I will say this 
time that I am well, as well as ever. My bowel complaint 
is entirely gone and I feel like myself again. I lost con- 
siderable flesh while I was so weak, but that will soon 
come again. Hard tack is good to fat a man that likes it, 
and, without butter, I prefer it to soft bread. Soft bread 
and the paymaster are both reported to he on their way 

My letters have been very scarce lately. One reason, 
I suppose, is that I have written very few myself. I do hope 
they will begin to come again now. Soldiering without 
letters is hard work. I don't blame you any for not writ- 
ing. I know you have little spare time, but write just as 
often as you can. 

Go in on the fruit and save all you can. Ain't you 
going to save a little to send me next winter when we 
get settled? I think I could dispose of a little Chatauqua 
County fruit with the greatest pleasure. 

I am very glad to hear that you have such good health, 
and I think you enjoy yourself well too, if your letters are 
any evidence. It does me good to know that your life is 

Tell Mercy Clark, if you write to her, that I am as much 
in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war as when I 
first enlisted. I have just administered a filial rebuke to my 
parents for asking me to get a furlough because they wanted 
to see me. This war must be fought out, and while I 
have health and strength I shall not so much as think of 
leaving the field till it is done. If I am sick or wounded 
and sent to a hospital, it will be a different thing, but I 
don't want to hear any whimpering from those I left be- 
hind. The only thing that I care to come home for is to 
make some of those copperheads hunt their holes. General 
Logan's speech at Cairo the other day just expressed my 
sentiments. Every copperhead, peaceman. anti-draft man, 
every cursed mother's son of them that does not support the 


war by word and deed ought to be hung or sent to the 
south where they belong. There is no middle ground. 
Every man who is not for us is against us, and I would just 
as soon fight a cursed copperhead as a southern rebel. Yes, 
rather, for they have means of knowing the truth and most 
rebels have not. If a man or a boy comes into your house 
and talks peace, or complains about the draft, tell him he 
is a traitor and you won't listen to him. Drive him out as 
Orpha Dart did with a broomstick. I tell you when the 
old soldiers get home, such cowards and sneaks, traitors and 
rebels in disguise, will have an account to settle. It won't 
be a pleasant neighborhood for them. The scorn and dis- 
gust the revolutionary tories met won't be a circumstance to 
what is waiting for them. Maybe you think I am excited. 
I mean what I say at all events, and I have been so pro- 
voked and disgusted that I, like every loyal soldier, am 
down on every opposer of the war "like a thousand of 
brick." I have no patience with them at all. I know that 
if I was home, I should have trouble with the first man that 
talked a word of such stufif to me. 

Beverly Ford, J\i., 
Sunday^ August p, i86^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

A new date tells you that we have moved. We moved 
once before since I wrote to you and had orders to make a 
''permanent camp," but just as we got things nicely fixed 
for a comfortable stay during the heated term, somebody 
discovered that there was not water enough, so we pulled 
up stakes and moved to the river. Beverly Ford is a little 
way above where the railroad crosses the Rappahannock, 
so if you have a map you can see nearly where our present- 
permanent camp is. 

Beverly Ford, J^a., 
Thursday, Aiigust Jj, i86j. 
Dear Mother: — 

I received your letter of the 5th night before last. Yes- 
terday it was so hot that I could not write or do anything 


else but lie in the shade and sweat. I don't know where 
the mercury stood, but I think it must have been above loo. 
It was as hot as any day w^e had on the Peninsula except 
one. Last night we had a furious thunder storm. The 
ground was completely soaked and I had fun enough this 
morning to last me a week. 

Yesterday Colonel Rice had a large force of men putting 
up booths or shades of poles and brush over the tents. This 
morning they all fell down one after another and smashed 
down the tents. The colonel's was the first, just about day- 
light. He came crawling out under the edge sans every- 
thing but shirt. He came in such a hurry that he could 
not keep his perpendicular and went sprawling in the mud. 
Then Lieutenant Grannis' tent came dow^i and he came 
out in the same cool dress like a mouse from a shock of corn. 

We have just been paid $52. I'm going to send $50 
home. Father inquired once what I did with my money 
lately. I don't remember whether I explained about that 
or not, but I have not wasted a great deal of it. Since I have 
been at headquarters, I have had to keep a good watch. 
The time of everything is left to me. Well, last fall I 
had a watch stolen from me that cost me $18, I think, and 
then I bought another, and both had to be paid for out of the 
next pay. This last watch kept time splendidly all winter, 
but when we forded the Rapidan, it got wet inside and 
stopped entirely. I sent it to Erie for Captain Austin to 
clean. When Lwent back to headquarters I bought a watch 
for $10 wdiich turned out to be good for nothing. I 
bought another for $15 which is a good one. Last Mon- 
day my watch came back from Erie, so now I have three. 
That is where my money has gone to, part of it at least. 
I am going to keep my old watch and sell the other two. 

I dare not risk sending much money in a letter, so I 
am going to send $10 at a time. Let Father do what he 
thinks best with it. 

I am very glad you are having so much fruit and such 
a variety too. I should like it very much if I could have 
some too, but you are so far away and everything sent by 
express is so uncertain of reaching its destination that I 


don't think it would be best to try to send me any. Next 
winter there may be a good chance. There would be now 
if there was any certainty of our staying here any length 
of time. We have laid out three "permanent camps" this 
side of W'arrenton. This is the best place we have found 
yet and I think we will stay here through the hot weather. 
I have no correspondents in Springfield now. 

Beverly Ford, Va., 

August 22, 186^. 
Dear Parents : — 

I received a piece of paper from E. a few days since, 
saying that he had received my letter and would answer 
it soon. The answer has not come yet. The envelope con- 
tained the perfumery I sent for, and, if it is not effectual, 
I don't know of anything that would be. Fortunately, I am 
not troubled with the "crumbs" now. All the men who ever 
are rid of them are so now. A good boiling does the busi- 
ness, but there are some who would be lousy if they had 
every convenience and a year's time, and just as soon as we 
start on a march again they will be all over. "All is quiet 
on the Rappahannock" yet. The hot weather paralyzes both 
armies, but lying still they are gaining. The flies are so 
troublesome that horses do not gain so fast as they would in 
cooler weather, but they still improve some. Alany of the 
cavalry regiments and batteries are getting new horses. 

The commissary is issuing soft bread two days out of 
three, nice fresh bread, too, and, oh, if we had some butter! 
He issues small rations of potatoes and dried apples occa- 
sionally, and dessicated vegetables. I presume you have 
never seen any of this last. It is in square cakes an inch 
thick and seems to consist of potato, carrot, turnip, onion, 
cabbage, red pepper, etc., scalded and then pressed and 
dried. Tam confident that if we could learn how to cook it 
we should like it. We are all hungry for vegetables, but 
I cannot cook it nor have I seen any one who could so that 
it will be good. We have put in fresh beef and made soup 
of it, and we have boiled it down dry and tried it every 
way we can think of, and don't succeed yet. The fault 


seems to be that each vegetal)le loses its inchvidual flavor 
in the cooking and all blend together in a nondescript sort of 
a dish that isn't good a bit. 

The principal topics of news in camp are the arrival of 
the conscripts and the departure ol Colonel Rice. Captain 
Judson came down from Philadelphia this week with two 
hundred men for the Eighty-third, and he has gone back for 
more. Of the two hundred but three men, so they say, were 
drafted. All the rest are substitutes, and most of them two 
years and nine months men. They seem to be pretty hard 
nuts. They are very quiet here, ijut Captain Judson says 
they had quite a tendency to get lost on their way down. 

Colonel Rice's "eagles'' have been setting a good while, 
and the other morning on waking he found they had 
hatched a pair of "stars" and "marching orders" to report 
in Baltimore, and with many thanks to the eagles he pro- 
ceeded to obey immediately. The senior officer of the brig- 
ade now is Colonel Chamberlain of the Twentieth Maine, a 
former professor in a college and a very fine man, though 
but little posted in military matters. He is absent now on 
sick leave, thoup-h about to return, I hear. 


Beverly Ford, Va., 

Aug. 26, 186 s. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

My memory for dates is not very good, but it seems to 
me the 26th of August must be your birthday. Twenty- 
two years old to-day, and married almost a year and a half, 
and when I left home you w^ere only my sister of twenty 
with the alliance in prospect. How the time rolls away! 
Why, I begin to look for twenty-four. I have thought 
every day lately that I would write to you, but then I thought 
if I did that the mail at night would bring me your letter 
to answer, so I have waited, but to-day being your birthday, 
I must write a little at all events. I wish I had some pres- 
ent to send you, but I cannot think of anything now. Stay 
— I will send you my ''Maltese cross." It is a very simple 
thing, only a red cloth badge, but it may interest you from 


its associations, especially if anything should happen to me. 
I have seen letters addressed to our own boys begging them 
to send a badge that they had worn in some battle, and 
perhaps you may value even such a trifle, as something. I 
have worn mine through Chancellorsville, Loudon Valley and 
Gettysburg. It has lain between my head and a stone many 
a night since March. If it seems to you too trivial, 
you may give it to Sereno and tell him to put it on his cap. 
He don't write any more. I don't know what has "riled" 
him. Give him this secesh envelope and tell him I took it 
out of the pocket of a dead rebel away up on the top of a 
Blue Ridge mountain in Manassas Gap. He has been 
teasing me for something secesh this long time, and that is 
the ''genewine article." 

We are living ''just old gay" now. The commissary 
issues soft bread enough to keep us all the time, and pota- 
toes, turnips, onions, beets and dried apples often enough 
to have something good every meal. He has some tomatoes 
to issue, so report says, this morning. We buy condensed 
milk of the sutlers and have milk in our tea and coffee all 
the time and it don't get sour m hot weather, either. I have 
bought dried apples and just lived lately. The men in the 
regiments never had such fare as they have had since the 
close of the summer campaign. 

And yesterday came the most glorious news of the war. 
The identical flag that the gallant Anderson and his seventy- 
three brought safely away from Fort Sumter, again floats 
proudly over its battered walls.* The fort is a ruin, but the 
Union is not. And better than ail, fifteen great guns are 
throwing their shells over all the hostile works into Charles- 
ton itself. Their boasted "street by street and house by 
house," "last ditch" defense is played out. If they don't 
surrender or evacuate, the city will be battered down about 
their ears by men so far away they can't see them. Oh, but 
I feel jubilant! I hope they will fight till the "last ditch" 
is taken and nothing is left of Charleston but a grease spot. 

^Notc. — Error : Probably a newspaper rumor. Sumter was not 
captured until 1865. 


How are you, copperhead? How does that news suit you? 
Abolitionists are at work down there. They are "good 
lookins:" and they will "come in." 

Captain Judson arrived some days ago with two hun- 
dred conscripts for the Eighty-third. He has gone back for 
more and soon the Eighty-third will be a full regiment again. 
The old army of the Potomac is filling up fast, but these 
new men desert awfully. I think they will quit that after 
a hundred or so have been shot. Three are to be shot in our 
division next Saturday. They were to be shot yesterday, 
but it was postponed. I think it will not be put off again. 
The whole division will be paraded at the execution. The 
men belong to the One hundred and nineteenth Pennsyl- 
vania (Philadelphia Corn Exchange), First Brigade. 

Colonel Rice, who has commanded the brigade since 
Colonel A^incent fell, is appointed Brigadier General and 
assigned the command of First Division, First Corps. Our 
new commander is Colonel Chamberlain of the Twentieth 
]\Iaine, a very fine man (formerly professor in college), 
but not much of a military man. 

I still keep my position through the changes in the ad- 
ministration, and I have not much fear of losing it now. 

E. writes quite often. Seems to like his place first rate. 
He has been home once on a visit. 

I am most ready to send you my little diary, if you want 
it. I have sent to New York for a new one. Expect it 
Saturday or Sunday. When it comes I can send the old one. 
You won't find it a very nice book. It is worn and discol- 
ored by sweat and rain and it is very brief. Much of it 
is no more than a record of the weather and of my cor- 
respondence, written in haste with a pencil after a long 
day's march, but it will be a good reference if I ever get 
home, and I may write a more extended narrative from it. 
I am writing what I can in just such a book as this now and 
I am going to send it to E. 

Now do write as soon as you can. That your life may 
be happy, with many returns of your birthday, is the fervent 
wish of your brother. 


Beverly Ford, Va., 

Aug. so, 1863. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

We may remain here a month yet, and we may not stay 
twenty-four hours. I see no present indications of a move, 
unless the fact that the boys begin to feel like wild colts is a 

The grub beats all I ever saw in the army, and last week 
to cap the climax they gave us beets and pickled cabbage. 
The latter was splendid, put up in mustard. 

The late news from the south has put everybody in the 
best humor and camp life now is tolerable. 

The last few nights have been almost cold enough for 
frost. The days, too, have been cool, but we shall get more 
hot weather soon, I suppose. 

How is it that you did not notice Uncle Legrand's name 
in the list of drafts ? It was in Alf 's paper. 

That diary I mean to send as soon as I get another. I 
expect it every night now. It won't be anything great as a 
literary curiosity, but the most I value it for is its account 
of the dates of our movements. You'll find out all about 
my correspondence now. Don't let it get destroyed. 

I'm very much obliged for your offer to send me berries. 
If you do send any, dried ones would be the best. They 
would last better. The "perfumery" was all right, but hap- 
pily I have no present use for it. E. sent me some, too, 
some time ago. 

The great event of last week was the execution of five 
deserters from our division, which took place yesterday 
afternoon."^ So much better descriptions will be given in 
the papers, that unless you want me to I won't try it, but 
will send }'OU a paper, and if I can, an illustrated paper with 
a sketch in it. I saw Frank Leslie's and Harper's men both 
sketching it. If you see anything in the account about the 
"bugler," that's me. General Griffin sent for me to bugle. 

^Note. — They were George Kuhn, John Felane, Charles Walter. 
George Reinese and Emile Lai. 


Beverly Ford, \'a., 

' Sept. 7. 1863. 
Dear Friends at Home : — 

I am enjoying good health now, "and I hope these few 
lines \\\\\ find you the same/' 

The weather has been very cool for a week or so, and the 
nights so cold that we can hardly be comfortable under two 
blankets. It is growing hot agani now, though I think the 
hottest weather is over. 

I see no prospect of an immediate move. Every one 
seems to be settled as though he intended to make a stay 
of it, and yet for aught I know we may be up and off before 
night. We have been here a month to-morrow and the men 
are rested and supplied with clothing and just as ready to 
move to-day as they will be in another month, but the men 
I hoped to see here by this time filling up the skeletons of 
the old regiments have not come. Two hundred have been 
received in the Eighty-third. That is all in our brigade. 
They are all armed and equipped now and doing full duty 
and the Eighty-third looks something like a regiment again, 
but all the others need recruits as much as we. 

This three-hundred dollar provision don't suit me exact- 
ly. Xot that it is a hardship, but it seems to me mistaken 
kindness on the part of the government. The practical 
working of the system is that the government gets $2,700 
and one man for every ten men drafted. Very few men are 
unable in some way to raise three hundred dollars, and as a 
rule they raise it. The government may get considerable 
money to bounty volunteers, but they will be too late. We 
want the men now to finish up the job this fall. The papers 
say they are coming at the rate of a thousand per day, but 
I "can't see it." Of course I don't know about the rest of 
the army, but thev don't come to our corps at the rate of a 
thousand per month. 

Deserters continue to come over from the rebels, and if 
one could believe the stories they tell, it would not take many 
troops to wipe out Lee's army, but I put but little confidence 
in them. Their statement of the feeling of the army is al- 
ways colored with their own dissatisfaction. No doubt, 


Lee's army is in a measure disheartened and the rank and 
file would be willing to accept any terms of peace, but their 
leaders have a way of dealing with that sort of enthusiasm 
so different from ours that we shall find a pretty large "ob- 
stacle" any time we start for Richmond, and for that very 
reason we want the men. ; 

Every paper that I see lately is telling how nearly used 
up the rebels are and how soon the war will end. I think 
they are taking the wrong course, raising hopes and expec- 
tations that will be disappointed. Charleston is not taken 
yet and Richmond is not taken, and they won't be for some 
time. I am now entered on the last of my ''three years" 
and am not building any very big castles on what I am going 
to do before that is served out. There are few who have 
stronger faith in the ultimate triumph of our arms, but this 
thing of "a few days," "starved out," "no men," "worthless 
currency," and all that is played out. It will take a long 
pull and a strong one well backed up to finish the job yet. 
So much for the prospect. 

My letters from E. inform me that he has changed his 
base. Bidwell dismissed him. one day without a word of 
warning. From what E. writes, the only motive he could 
have had seems to be the fact that he was paying him more 
than he earned, and his excuse was shabby enough. Of 
course you have heard the particulars before this. I al- 
wavs thous:ht E. had made a big bargain to begin with, and 
I think if the man had told him so and reduced his pay 
some till he could earn more, E. would have consented. 
Well, he won't have that to contend against now, at all 
events. I don't know what you will think of the propriety 
of his going away so and making a new engagement without 
consulting his parents. Perhaps it was not right, but I 
must say I admire the energy and self-reliance he displayed 
in thus looking out for himself, and the determination to 
do something in spite of disappointments. One thing is 
certain, he won't have much temptation to dissipation on 
his "margin'' of twenty-five cents per week, and his em- 
ployer little temptation to discharge him for over-pay. I 
sent him one of my watches Saturday and the other one I 


can't sell or g'wQ away to advantage now. I send five dol- 
lars in this and think I won't send any more now, unless we 
are paid soon. I don't expect any more till about New 
Year's. It was the 26th of January last year before w^e were 
paid again. 

I see that you, Mother, still talk about sending me some- 
thing to eat. Now, I don't think it will pay at all. I am 
doing well enough. Sometimes I think I would like a little 
butter or fruit, just as you wish you had the thousand and 
one things you don't have and can't get. But it don't make 
any great difference to you in the long run, and it don't 
to me. 

H., your receipt for cooking ''growley" isn't worth a 
picayune. Soaking don't help 'em. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, First Division, 

Monday, Sept. 28, 186 j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

We are still near Culpeper. The big fight has not come 
off yet and does not seem so near at hand as it did a month 
ago. The camp is full of rumors that the Fifth Corps is 
going to Texas. The Eleventh and Twelfth have gone 
somewhere, probably to help Rosecrans, and the supposed 
plan is to leave four corps for the protection of Washington, 
abandon the attack on Richmond and transfer the seat of war 
to the southwest. W^hat do you think of my going to Tex- 
as? It is quite a distance from home. 

I am glad you got the diary. I told you there wouldn't 
be much in it. The most it is good for is for reference. I 
could make quite a story wnth this for a text. I am keeping 
one now a little more detailed. My book is a little larger. 
The one I sent to E. was more of a narrative. It seems 
strange to me that he does not write to you and to me, too. 
His address was ''care of Ketcham & Barker, Toledo, Ohio." 
All the reason he gave for Bidwell's turning him off was 
that he thought he could not make a merchant of him. I 
think the reason was that E. could not earn the wages he 
was paying him. I thought so when E. wrote about his 
bargain and I could hardly understand about it. 


I had got so far when the melodious voice of our ad- 
jutant general was heard pronouncing my name in tones 
considerably above a whisper. I reported and was or- 
dered to saddle my horse quickly. The brigade was flying 
round, getting into line, drums beating and a big time gen- 
erally. Colonel Chamberlain mounted and put for the brig- 
ade post-haste and I began to think the rebels might be com- 
ing. On ascending the hill I saw it was only a review by 
General Meade and a civilian whom I took to be Senator 
Wilson of Massachusetts. We had not had a review for 
some time and it was quite a novelty. It passed off very 
well. Casualties none, prisoners none and not much of 
anything else but dust. 

Home of the Sanitary Commission, 
Washington, D. C., Oct. 15, 1863. 
Dear Sister L: — . 

My mind has been in such a muddle since I came to 
Washington that I cannot remember whether I have written 
to you since I came here or not. I know I have answered 
your last letter, but I believe I did that in camp, and though 
I have not heard from you since, it seems time to write 
again, so here it is. 

First, what I am doing here. If you have not heard, you 
are wondering if I have at last got into a hospital. Not 
very, at least I am not under medical treatment. 

You know that, with my restless disposition, I could not 
be contented as brigade bugler while there was a possibility 
of doing better. As long ago as last May I began to work 
for a commission in a colored regiment. I wrote to Ga- 
lusha A. Grow for advice. ( I presume you noticed the rec- 
ord of that in my diary and wondered what that was about.) 
I heard nothing from him till this fall, when I received a 
letter recommending me to the notice of C. W. Foster, 
Major and Assistant Adjutant General, Chief of Colored 
Bureau, and requesting that I might be examined. It was 
dated September 21st. I immediately made an application 
to Major Foster^ enclosing this letter, and in due time re- 
ceived an order from the War Department permitting me to 


appear for examination before the board of which Major 
General Casey is president. I reported to the board on the 
1st of October and was informed that I could not be exam- 
ined for a week or two yet, and was sent to this place to 
stay in the meantime. 

Second, my prospects. When I first came here I had 
a very poor idea of the qualifications requisite to pass a 
successful examination. I knew I was as well qualified as 
half the officers of my regiment and I hoped to get through. 
Now I find that none are commissioned who are not quali- 
fied to hold the same rank in the regular army, and I begin 
to feel very small indeed. A man is required to show, first, 
a thorough knowledge of Casey's Tactics (and the examina- 
tion is very severe in this), then a good knowledge of 
geography and history, arithmetic, algebra and geometry. 
Then the "Army Regulations,'' ''Articles of War," muster 
and pay rolls, etc., etc., in fact be fully as well posted for 
second lieutenant as colonel of vokuiteers. Since I have 
been here two lieutenant colonels and many line officers 
have been rejected as unfit for second lieutenants. 

After all this comes a searching physical examination, 
and no matter how well a person is posted, if the surgeon 
does not pronounce him sound in every respect, he is re- 
jected. Knowing all this you may believe that my hopes of 
success are very small indeed. However, I shall try, and 
if I succeed shall be very agreeably disappointed, and 1 
shall consider it no small honor, either. I am studying all 
I can, but I cannot fix my mind to study as I once could. 
Two years and a half in the army \etoes that. 

I left the army at Culpeper. To-day they are reported 
at Bull Run, and the air is full of rumors of another great 
battle on that already famous field. For the first time, if so, 
the "Third Brigade" has been in a fight without me. I 
confess to no little anxiety for the result. Our army, I 
know, is weakened. The Eleventh and Twelfth corps have 
been sent to Rosecrans, and the First, Second, Third, Fifth 
and Sixth comprise the whole of our army. The papers 
say that "Meade is only falling back to seek a field," but I 
don't believe it. If he had the force, the fields at Culpeper 


are just as good as those at Bull Run, where the rebels have 
the memory of two victories. However, I will not croak, 
but hope for the best. 

From Pennsylvania and Ohio we have glorious news. 
Curtin is re-elected by 30,000 majority and Brough has beat 
Vallandigham 100,000. That is a greater victory for 
Pennsylvania than the battle of Gettysburg. It is a victory 
for the country. Copperheads are nowhere and the elections 
speak in unmistakable terms the determination of the people 
to support the administration. It cannot but have its influ- 
ence on the South and on the war. 

No. jy4 North Capitol Street, 

Washington, D. C, Oct. 15, 1863. 
Dear Mother : — 

My examination has not taken place yet and probably 
will not till next week. I have been here two weeks already, 
and I am not yet prepared. I am studying all I can. To- 
day I have been up in the President's room in the Capitol 
with another candidate for strapic ^ honors, reviewing and 
cross-examining on the tactics. Imagine my feelings, trans- 
ferred from my shelter tent on the Rapidan to the royal 
magnificence of our republican President's private room in 
the Capitol. Pier mirrors twenty feet high on three sides of 
the room, marble top table, luxurious chairs, and, oh, such 
paintings ! 

It may be that I am very verdant, but a ramble through 
the Capitol puts me in mind of the fairy palaces of the 
Arabian Nights. The vaulted roofs, beautifully painted and 
frescoed, the marble columns (white and variegated) pol- 
ished till they look as though they were covered with glass, 
the labyrinthine passages so puzzling it is almost impossible 
to enter and come out the same door, the glorious historical 
and portrait paintings, all make up a scene of wonder and 
grandeur to a plain republican like me, such as I never have 
seen and never expect to see again. In the Patent Office 
I saw Washington's sword, the one he carried in the Revo- 
lution, his dress suit, his writing case, tent, cane, bureau, 
mirror, etc. 


I visited the Smithsonian. I won't try to tell what I 
saw there. It set my brain in a whirl that I have not got 
over yet. It is near supper time and I must close. I will 
say that nothing but my eyes will keep me from a commis- 
sion. If I can convince the board that they are right, I 
shall be all right. If they throw me out on that, I have 
half a mind to demand a discharge on that ground. I can- 
not see why my eyes should disqualify me for an officer 
and not for a private. 

^24 North Capitol Street, 
Washington, D. C, Oct. 28, i86j. 
Dear Father : — 

The great day for me was yesterday. After waiting 
almost a month the door swung on its hinges to admit 
Private O. W. X. to the presence of the arbiters of his 
fate who w^ould transform him to a ''straps" or send him 
back to his regiment to be the butt for the ridicule of his 

Well, it is all over with and I breathe freer. My exam- 
ination occupied forty-five minutes, and in that time I 
missed only two questions, and those on points which I had 
stated to the board that I was not prepared to answer. My 
examination was unusually long. Many have been com- 
missioned on a ten or fifteen minutes' examination and very 
few privates or non-commissioned officers stay in over half 
an hour. 

I was the last one examined, and after I left the room 
to be examined b} the surgeon, a sergeant heard the gen- 
eral remark that they had "not had to reject a man to-day." 
So I am satisfied that I am all right if the surgeon was sat- 
isfied with me. In testing my eyes he sent me to the corner 
of the room and the clerk covered one of my eyes at a 
time while the doctor held up something and asked me 
what it was. I had played sharp on him by taking an in- 
ventory of the articles on the table. I could see just enough 
with one eye to tell a pen from a paper knife, and a pair of 
scissors from a cork. He discovered that I was a little 
near-sighted. He asked me if I could march twenty-five 


miles and not be sick. That was a thrust at my "shang- 
hais," but I told him with emphasis I could and had, and 
he seemed satisfied. He wouldn't look at my captain's let- 
ter, probably thought he didn't want any assistance in de- 
termining my physical ability. 

I went down this morning to try to learn the result, but 
I could not. 

Washington, D. C, 

Oct. 28, 1S63. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

I have just time to tell you the result of my examina- 
tion, which came ofif yesterday. Just as I expected, the re- 
sult depended on the surgeon's verdict. Before the board I 
passed without trouble, unless study be trouble, and I hope 
I satisfied the doctor that I could see a commission. It 
tried my eyes to do it, though, I assure you of that. 

I tried this morning to find out my fate. I could not 
satisfy myself, but those who pretend to know the ropes and 
who have heretofore been correct, say I am booked for 
straps, "First Lieutenant — First Class." If so I am con- 
tent. It was what I worked for. Many of my comrades 
here express surprise that it was not a captaincy. I am not 
surprised, and should not have been if it had been second 
lieutenant. It is no boy's play to satisfy that board that 
you can make even a lieutenant. 

However, it may be all moonshine and perhaps I am re- 
jected after all, but if I am, the surgeon did it. 

I return to the army to-morrow, and in the course of a 
week or two I shall be officially notified of the result, when 
I will lose no time in informing you. I hope to be able, if 
successful, to get leave of absence for a few days to come 
and see you. You would be glad to see me, wouldn't you ? 
My letters from the army haven't been sent up. No doubt 
there is one or more there from you. If there is not I shall 
think you don't care much about me, anyway, and shall not 
care to come horne. 


Camp near IVarrenton, Va., 

Monday, Nov. 2, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I got back to camp last Thursday night. Next morn- 
ing early we marched about six miles and brought up on 
the Branch railroad, about three miles from Warrenton. 
I do not as yet know any more of the result of my examina- 
tion than I wrote you from Washington. My papers have 
not arrived yet. 

Headquarters Third Brigade, 
Kelly's Ford, Nov. 11, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have another name to put on my battle pin (when I get 
it), that of ''Rappahannock Station, November 8th." Sol- 
diers have a fashion of counting up their battles, with an 
honest pride when they reach a certain number, and I will 
count up mine and then tell you a little about the last. 
Hanover Court House, a battle then, a skirmish now, Me- 
chanicsville, Gaines' Mill, which no one calls less than a bat- 
tle even now, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, 
Malvern Hill, then the greatest battle of America, Second 
Bull Run, Antietam, Shepherdstown Ford, Fredericksburg, 
the slaughter pen, skirmish at Richards' Ford, Chancellors- 
ville, Loudon Valley, Gettysburg, Jones' Cross Roads, and 
Rappahannock Station. 

Quite a little list, and as I have always been there when 
the Third Brigade has, I do not feel ashamed of my record. 

About four o'clock last Saturday morning the reveille 
sounded and in half an hour the camps of our division were 
all astir, brilliant with fires, bristling with preparation for 
the march at daylight. Daylight came and we began the 
march toward the river. The day was cold and windy and 
very dusty, but we marched rapidly and by noon we reached 
the rebel pickets, or our advance discovered them a mile 
from the river. We halted for an hour or two, while the 
generals made their dispositions, and then formed in line. 
Our division came next to the railroad, on the south of it. 


On the other side was the Sixth Corps, Second Division of 
the Fifth Corps on our left and Third Division in reserve. 

At 2 130 p. m. the Hne advanced. The skirmishers soon 
ran on to a cavalry picket and fired, and the way the rebs did 
"git" over the little hill was a warning to slow horses. We 
advanced steadily and soon came to a line of rebel skirmish- 
ers thrown out to meet us. They fired and fell back and 
soon the artillery opened on our line, but oh, such firing! 
Shells burst all around and over us, but hardly one in the 
right place. On our side of the river just above the rail- 
road was a fort mounting six or seven guns and the oppo- 
site bank of the river was bristling with field batteries. 

Griffin's battery (our favorite) got into position to send 
a message to the nearest fort and our skirmishers advanced. 
The rebs opened on them and the aforesaid pet opened on 
the rebs, and over the rampart went our boys and out went 
the rebs. Some of them jumped into the river up to their 
necks, but they had to come back. The result was sixty- 
five men and five officers prisoners, and seven guns (all in 
the fort). 

The paper states that the Sixth Corps took the fort. It 
may be so, but men who were the first in say that only 
one sergeant and one officer from the Sixth were there, 
and I know that the Eighty-third and Forty-fourth took the 
prisoners, because I saw and counted them myself and heard 
Colonel Connor's report when he brought them to Colonel 

Well, that was about all of it. It was after sundown 
when the fort was taken and we could not cross the river 
till morning. Our casualties were very small, twenty killed 
and wounded in the brigade, three wounded and none killed 
in the Eighty-third. 

We went back into the woods to bivouac. No fires were 
allowed, but a good many were made, nevertheless, and I 
made out to get a cup of coffee. I tied my horse to a fallen 
tree and lay down close by him, and the rascal kept me 
awake half the night. He pulled my haversack out from 
under my head, pulled my blankets off, and once I woke and 
found him with my bugle in his mouth chewing the tassel. 


By daylight we were on the move down the river to 
Kelly's Ford, crossed on pontoons and back into the country 
three miles and bivouacked. Monday we lay all day in 
bivouac and at sundown got up and came back this side the 
river. Our First Division did. The rest of the corps re- 

We had big times that night for fires. We had no wood, 
camped on a plain where there had been an old camp, 
and not a stake for our horses or stick to burn could we 
find. The wind blew furiously and it began to snow. 

The mounted orderlies and I after unsaddling put out 
and finally found a pole thirty feet long half a mile away. 
We took that, carried it up and laid it on the ground to tie 
to. The other boys had got some brush afire and we got 
coffee and lay down. That night it snowed an inch deep 
on our blankets. Next morning we moved back into the 
woods, where we are now and expect to stay a few^ days to 
watch guerrillas. 

I have heard nothing from the War Department yet. 
Begin to think I am rejected. Write again soon. 

Kelly's Ford, Va., Nov. i^, 1863. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I received your and Charlie's letter. Your expressed 
wish to see me will not yet be gratified, I fear. I have 
heard nothing yet from Washington and I would take about 
ten cents for my chance of a commission. I do not entirely 
give it up yet, but my expectations are dwindling fast. One 
of the Forty-fourth New York, who was examined the day 
after I w^as, got First Lieutenant, First Class. That I am 
morally certain of, and he has not got his appointment yet. 
Until he gets his I shall not entirely give it up. 

I copy a portion of the last "General Order" in relation 
to the fight at Rappahannock Station : 

"The enemy was attacked in an entrenched position of 
great strength in enclosed works, defended by artillery and 
infantry, and compelled to surrender, after a sharp conflict, 
to an assaulting column actually inferior in numbers to the 
force defending the works. 


Four pieces of artillery, four caissons filled with am- 
munition, the enemy's pontoon bridge, eight battle flags, 
two thousand stand of small arms, one thousand six hun- 
dred prisoners, including two brigade commanders and one 
hundred and thirty commissioned officers, are the fruits of 
the victory." 

National Hotel, Washington, 
Nov. ip, i86j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Perhaps you think my long silence bodes no good. If 
you do, dispossess yourself of that idea immediately. 

I am half "luny" with delight. Do not think that be- 
cause I would not allow myself to think or speak of coming 
home, or listen to you, that I cared nothing for my home 
or my friends. No, indeed! But now times are altered 
and I shall be with you next week, God willing. "How? 
Why?" Because I am "First Lieutenant, Eighth Regiment, 
United States Colored Troops, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," 
and have leave of absence for fifteen days, signed by the 
Secretary of War, in my pocket. 

I shall go to New York to-night to buy some clothes and 
see my friends. I shall stay till Monday night. Then I 
come to you. I will stop on my way to Michigan to call for 
E. and take him home with me. 

This is good news to you, I know. It is to me. I hard- 
ly expected to get home, but last night I went down to see 
Major Foster, stated my case and asked ten days. "Why, 
you can't go to Michigan in ten days ; it will take you all the 
time to go and come." I thought, you see, that if I asked 
too much, I wouldn't get anything. "Make your applica- 
tion in writing and I will see what I can do for you." I 
made the application this morning for fifteen days and got 
my papers through the whole red tape in an hour. 

E. made the most sensible remark I have read since the 
talk of my promotion. Said he, "I shall think no more of 
you than I did when you carried a musket, but the world 
will." Straps are honored, and already I see the advantage 
of wearing them, though I have not got them on. 


Camp Wm. Perm, Philadelphia, 

Thursday, Dec. lo, i86^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have just time to write you a line. I had just two days 
to spend at home. Trains not connecting and being be- 
hind time delayed me. I got here to the camp last Monday 
and was immediately assigned the command of a full com- 

Next day I was put on as ''officer of the guard" and my 
letter writing and everything of the kind are coming out 

My regiment is full. The field officers are Colonel 
Chas. W. Fribley, Lieutenant Colonel N. B. Bartram, for- 
merly Lieutenant Colonel Seventeenth New York, and 
]\Iajor Loren Burritt. The second lieutenant of my com- 
pany is Jas. S. Thompson. 

The regiment is in barracks, just moved in on Tuesday. 
We are eight miles from Philadelphia, but the cars pass 
frequently and it is not too far for camps, twenty minutes 

I was officer of the guard the day we moved and not 
allowed to leave my guard, and when the officers' baggage 
was unloaded some one took my valise and I cannot find it. 
It was worth sixty dollars to me at least, and all my papers 
were in it. It may come to light and the end of the world 
may come in 1867. One is as probable as the other. 

The weather is clear and very cold. I must close. Will 
tell you more next time. Write soon. Address ''Lieutenant 
O. W. N., Company K, Eighth United States Colored 
Troops, Camp Wm. Penn, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." 

Camp Wm. Penn, Philadelphia, 

Dec. 26, 186^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

A Happy New Year to you if it isn't too late. Christ- 
mas in camp went "merry as a marriage bell," big dinner, 
sham battle, etc., etc. 

At night I went to the theater in town. Saw Edwin 
Forrest in "Metamora." I send you a "phiz." Will send 



Decemher, 1863. 

you a full length when they come. I have just time to say 
I have been appointed Acting Quartermaster on the staff 
of Major Burritt, commanding three companies Eighth 
United States Colored Troops, to be sent to Delaware on 
recruiting service. I shall have a horse to ride, of course. 
Write soon and direct as before till I send my new address. 

Philadelphia, Dec. 2^, 186^. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I am waiting yet for the final order to start for Dela- 
ware. The weather has been very stormy for the past three 
days, but this morning it has cleared off beautifully. Prob- 
ably we start to-morrow morning, I send the promised 
photo, also two others. One is Captain Bailey of Company 
B, the other Lieutenant Schiffelin, same company. He is 
going as adjutant of the expedition to Delaware. 



Seaford, Del., Jan. 4, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

We came by boat from Philadelphia to Wilmington. 
New Year's day our whole detachment was feasted in the 
town hall at the same time with the First Delaware Volun- 
teers, home on furlough. We had good times there. 

On the 2d we came down on the cars to Seaford, one 
hundred and thirty-three miles south of Wilmington. I saw 
Governor Cannon in Wilmington and had quite a talk with 
him. He is enthusiastic on the subject of negro soldiers. 

Arrived here at dark, found a man at the depot waiting, 
who offered us quarters in a negro church and a school 
house and all were comfortable. 

Sunday morning I got my tents up from the cars and we 
pitched a camp in one of the most beautiful pine groves I 
ever saw. Our camp was thronged with visitors, and darkies 
who wanted to enlist. There are hundreds of them, mostly 
slaves, here now, anxiously waiting for the recruiting officer. 
The boys are singing — 

Rally round the flag, boys, rally once again, 

Shouting the battle cry of freedom. 
Down with the traitor, up with the star, etc. 

They sing with the heart, and the earnestness they put 
into the words is startling. Cool as I am I found myself 
getting excited as I heard their songs this afternoon and 
saw the electrifying effect on the crowds of slaves. 

The officers here are lions. I am afraid I'm guilty of 
putting on a little style. Not with the men of the regiment, 
though. I was shaved by a woman this morning. 

Seaford, Del, Jan. p, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have just time to-night to write you some important 


news. Important so far as you and I are concerned. An 
orderly arrived in camp to-night with a dispatch from the 
Secretary of War ordering the detachment to return to 
Camp Wm. Penn, and the United States Colored Troops will 
proceed as soon as practicable to Hilton Head, South Caro- 
lina. We shall be off next week. 

There is joy in camp to-night over the news. I hardly 
know whether to like it or not. On some accounts I shall. 
Almost any place is preferable to Virginia. I shall be far 
away from home and friends. Letters will be like angels' 
visits, few and far between. But bid me God speed, L. 
Far or near, my heart will be with thee. Don't write till I 
send my address. 

St. Lawrence Hotel, Philadelphia, 

Jan. I/, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The regiment started for the sunny south last night, 
leaving me behind. I shall go to New York before I go 
and I would like to see you once more first, but it would 
require too liberal construction of my orders to find any 
business -in Chautauqua. I am left to settle my business as 
quartermaster and to take command of a squad of men not 
yet reported to the regiment. 

Jacksonville, Fla., 
Monday, Feb. 2p, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

You will probably see accounts of the battle of Olustee, 
or Ocean Pond, in the papers. I have ordered a copy of 
the Brookville Republican, containing a letter from Dr. 
Heichold, descriptive of the battle, sent to you, but I will, 
give you some of my own ideas about it, too ; you always 
express a preference for them, you know. 

Well, the morning of Saturday, the 20th, found us at 
Barber's Ford on the St. Mary's river ready to march and 
loaded down with ten days' rations. Our force consisted of 
the One hundred-fifteenth. Forty-seventh and Forty- 
eighth New York Regiments, Seventh New Hampshire and 


Seventh Connecticut (repeating rifles), Fifty-fourth Mas- 
sachusetts (colored) of Fort Wagner memory, the First 
North CaroHna Colored and the Eighth, twenty pieces of 
artillery, one battalion cavalry and the Fortieth Massachu- 
setts (mounted infantry). 

We started marching in three columns, artillery in the 
road, flanked by the infantry on either side. After march- 
ing twelve miles we halted near a few desolate houses called 
Sanders and while resting heard a few musket shots in ad- 
vance. We supposed our cavalry had met a few of the 
enemy's pickets. Their force was supposed to be at Lake 
City, twelve miles distant, so we moved on up the railroad. 
The skirmishing increased as we marched, but we paid little 
attention to it. Pretty soon the boom of a gun startled us 
a little, but not much, as we knew our flying artillery was 
ahead, but they boomed again and again and it began to 
look like a brush. An aide came dashing through the woods 
to us and the order was — ^'double quick, march !" We 
turned into the woods and ran in the direction of the firing 
for half a mile, when the head of the column reached our 
batteries. The presiding genius. General Seymour, said: 
"Put your regiment in, Colonel Fribley," and left. 

Military men say it takes veteran troops to maneuver 
under fire, but our regiment with knapsacks on and unloaded 
pieces, after a run of half a mile, formed a line under the 
most destructive fire I ever knew. We were not more 
than two hundred yards from the enemy, concealed in pits 
and behind trees, and what did the regiment do? At first 
they were stunned, bewildered, and knew not what to do. 
They curled to the ground, and as men fell around them 
they seemed terribly scared, but gradually they recovered 
their senses and commenced firing. And here was the 
great trouble — they could not use their arms to advantage. 
We have had very little practice in firing, and, though they 
could stand and be killed, they could not kill a concealed ene- 
my fast enough to satisfy my feelings. 

After seeing his men murdered as long as flesh and 
blood could endure it. Colonel Fribley ordered the regiment 


to fall back slowly, firing as they went. As the men fell 
back they gathered in groups like frightened sheep, and it 
was almost impossible to keep them from doing so. Into 
these groups the rebels poured the deadliest fire, almost 
every bullet hitting some one. Color bearer after color 
bearer was shot down and the colors seized by another. Be- 
hind us was a battery that was wretchedly managed. They 
had but little ammunition, but after firing that, they made 
no efifort to get away with their pieces, but busied them- 
selves in trying to keep us in front of them. Lieutenant 
Lewis seized the colors and planted them by a gun and tried 
to rally his men round them, but forgetting them for the 
moment, they were left there, and the battery was captured 
and our colors with it. 

Colonel Fribley was killed soon after his order to fall 
back, and Major Burritt had both legs broken. We were 
without a commander, and every officer was doing his best 
to do something, he knew not what exactly. There was no 
leader. Seymour might better have been in his grave than 
there. Many will blame Lieutenant Lewis that the colors 
were lost. I do not think he can be blamed. Brave to 
rashness, he cannot be accused of cowardice, but man can- 
not think of too many things. 

Some things in this story look strange. Officers should 
know exactly what to do, you may say. Certainly, but it is 
a damper on that duty when there is a certainty on the mind 
that the commander does not know. When, with eight or 
ten regiments ready, you see only two or three fighting, 
and feel you are getting whipped from your general's in- 
competency, it is hard to be soldierly. 

I saw from the commencement of our retreat that the 
day was lost, but I confess to you that I was in doubt 
whether I ought to stay and see my men shot down or take' 
them to the rear. Soldierly feelings triumphed, but at what 
a cost ! 

Captain Dickey was shot early in the fight and the com- 
mand of the company devolved on me. He was not seri- 
ously wounded, a ball through the face. 

Captain Wagner was standing by me when he fell, 


pierced by three balls. I seized him and dragged him back 
a few rods and two of his men then took him to the rear. 
I carried his sword through the fight. Several times I was 
on the point of throwing it away, thinking he must be dead, 
but I saved it and had the pleasure of giving it to him and 
hearing that he is likely to recover. 

Of twenty-two officers that went into the fight, but two 
escaped without marks. Such accurate firing I never saw 
before. I was under the impression all the time that an 
inferior force was whipping us, but the deadly aim of their 
rifles told the story. 

Well, you are wanting to know how I came off, no 
doubt. With my usual narrow escapes, but escapes. My 
hat has five bullet holes in it. Don't start very much at 
that — they were all made by one bullet. You know the dent 
in the top of it. Well, the ball went through the rim first 
and then through the top in this w^ay. My hat was cocked 
up on one side so that it went through in that way and just 
drew the blood on my scalp. Of course a quarter of an inch 
lower would have broken my skull, but it was too high. 
Another ball cut away a corner of my haversack and one 
struck my scabbard. The only wonder is I was not killed, 
and the wonder grows with each succeeding fight, and this 
is the fifteenth or sixteenth, Yorktown, Hanover, Gaines' 
Mill, Charles City, Malvern, Bull Run, Antietam, Shep- 
herdstown Ford, Fredericksburg, Richards Ford, Chan- 
cellorsville, Loudon Valley, Gettysburg, Manassas Gap, Rap- 
pahannock Station and Olustee, to say nothing of the shell- 
ing at Harrison's Landing or the skirmish at Ely's Ford. 
Had any one told me when I enlisted that I should have to 
pass through so many I am afraid it would have daunted 
me. How many more ? 

Company K went into the fight with fifty-five enlisted 
men and two officers. It came out with twenty-three men 
and one officer. Of these but two men were not marked. 
That speaks volumes for the bravery of negroes. Several 
of these twenty-three were quite badly cut, but they are 
present with the company. Ten were killed and four re- 


ported missing, though there is little doubt they are killed, 

A flag of truce from the enemy brought the news that 
prisoners, black and white, were treated alike. I hope it is 
so, for I have sworn never to take a prisoner if my men 
left there were murdered. 

This is the first letter I have written since the fight, and 
it is to you, my best beloved sister. It is written in haste, 
in a press of business, but you will excuse mistakes and my 
inattention to the matter of your own letter. You may pray 
for me — I need that, and do write to me as often as you find 

Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday, March i, 1864. 
Dear Father: — 

On the 20th we fought our first battle at Olustee, or 
Ocean Pond, as some call it. They might as well call any 
other place in these pine woods some high sounding name, 
for this country is all alike. Since leaving Jacksonville I 
have not seen five hundred acres of cleared land in a journey 
of forty-five miles to the west. The country is covered with 
scattered pines, most of them blazed for turpentine. The 
ground between the trees is covered with a dense growth of 
coarse grass and palmetto shrubs. At intervals there are 
swamps, not deep, but broad and wet. Once in about ten 
miles is a small collection of dilapidated looking houses on 
the Florida railroad, and the people — the most abject, stupid, 
miserable objects. 

I have ordered a copy of the Brookville Republican con- 
taining an account of the battle by Dr. Heichold, to be sent 
to you, because I have not time to write it myself. I have 
not yet seen it, but I presume it will be correct, as the doc- 
tor had better opportunities for learning the facts than I 

I shall give you more particularly my own ideas of the 

*Note. — The regiment went into the battle with five hundred and 
fifty-four officers and enlisted men. Of these, three hundred and 
nineteen were killed or disabled by serious wounds. Many others 
were slightly wounded, but remained on duty. 


performance of our own men. I want to be true and I 
cannot endorse all that has been said of them. First, 1 
think no battle was ever more wretchedly fought. I was 
going to say planned, but there was no plan. No new 
regiment ever went into their first fight in more unfavorable 
circumstances. Second, no braver men ever faced 
an enemy. To have made these men fight well, I would 
have halted them out of range of the firing, formed my line, 
unslung knapsacks, got my cartridge boxes ready, and load- 
ed. Then I would have moved it up to the support of a regi- 
ment already engaged. I would have had them lie down 
and let the balls and shells whistle over them till they got a 
little used to it. Then I would have moved them to the 
front, told them to get as close to the ground as they could 
and go in. 

Just the other thing was done. We were double-quicked 
for half a mile, came under fire by the flank, formed line 
with empty pieces under fire, and, before the men had loaded, 
many of them were shot down. They behaved as any one 
acquainted with them would have expected. They were 
stunned, bewildered, and, as the balls came hissing past or 
crashing through heads, arms and legs, they curled to the 
ground Hke frightened sheep in a hailstorm. The officers 
finally got them to firing, and they recovered their senses 
somewhat. But here was the great difficulty — they did not 
know how to shoot with effect. 

Our regiment has been drilled too much for dress parade 
and too little for the field. They can march well, but they 
cannot shoot rapidly or with effect. Some of them can, 
but the greater part cannot. Colonel Fribley had applied 
time and again for permission to practice his regiment in 
target firing, and been always refused. When we were 
flanked, flesh and blood could stand it no longer, and Colonel 
Fribley, without orders, gave the command to fall back 
slowly, firing as we went. He fell, shot through the heart, 
very soon after that. Where was our general and where 
was his force ? Coming up in the rear, and as they arrived, 
they were put in, one regiment at a time, and whipped by 


It is no use for me to express my feelings in regard to 
the matter. If there is a second lieutenant in our regi- 
ment who couldn't plan and execute a better battle, I would 
vote to dismiss him for incompetency. 

The correspondent of the Tribune who was present said 
he dared not write a true history of the affair here, but he 
should do it in New York, and it would be published. 

You may judge of the severity of the fight by this : Of 
fifty-five men in Company K who went into the fight but two 
came out untouched by balls. Of twenty-two officers en- 
gaged but two were untouched. I got a ball in my hat that 
made five holes and just drew blood on my head. Another 
took off the corner of my haversack. 

Colonel Fribley was shot through the heart. Major Bur- 
ritt, gallant fellow, had both legs broken. Captain Wagner 
fell pierced with three balls, but got off, and I hear is in a 
fair way to recovery. 

March 2nd. I had to stop here and fall in the company 
for a review by General Gilmore, and just after that the 
alarm was sounded and we all removed inside the trenches. 

Last night I was out all night in the rain in command 
of a detachment cutting and carrying trees for abattis work, 
and I feel owly to-day. 

This afternoon we have inspection and I must close to 
prepare for it. 

Jacksonville, Fla., March p, 1864. 
Dear Father : — 

We are still at Jacksonville, and the whole force is hard 
at work nearly all the time, either on the fortifications or on 
picket. Last week we were moving every day. One day 
we would go outside the works and bivouac, and the next 
the pickets would fire a few guns and we would hustle in- 
side again, to go back the next morning, and so on. 

Saturday afternoon we moved into our present position 
and have remained here so far since. 

Ever since the battle the men have slept with their 
shoes and equipments on, and they fall in every morning 


an hour before light and stand in hne till sunrise. This 
looks to me very much like "locking- the stable door," etc. 

Vague rumors reach us of all sorts of stories in the 
papers in regard to the battle. The Herald (of unquestion- 
able veracity, so the}' say ) says that the Eighth retired 
in confusion after Colonel Fribley fell. There may be some 
truth in it, but not as most persons would take it, i. e., mean- 
ing a complete rout. From all 1 can learn it appears that 
the regiment was under fire for more than two hours, 
though it did not seem to me so long. I never know any- 
thing of the time in a battle, though. 

The veracious "Lieutenant Colonel Hall, Provost-Mar- 
shal, Department of the South," is probably the author 
of this story. He was the first to inform Mrs. Frible\ 
of the death of the colonel, and he chivalrously and consol- 
ingly added that his death was the result of his own rash 
exposure and that the officers of the regiment were "as 
badlv scared as the men" and he "rallied the regiment him- 
self." It is all an infamous lie, and there is more than one 
officer in the regiment ready to tell him so at the first oppor- 
tunity. He was seen riding about the field with his pistol 
cocked and shouting to every wounded man to halt. The 
man who could coolly tell a poor widow alone in this coun- 
try that her husband was killed by his own fault, is a brute 
to sav the least. Colonel Fribley exposed himself no more 
than was necessary. He dismounted as soon as the line was 
formed and was in the rear of the regiment when he was 

I want to see justice done the regiment. I don't claim 
that they fought well, only as well as they could, and that 
the officers had all they could do to get them to fall back 
at all after the first halt. The "confusion" in which they 
"retired" was owing to this, that there was no line and the 
men would only leave the trees, behind which they were 
firing, on direct orders to do so. The regiment had no com- 
mander after the colonel and major fell, and every officer 
was doing the best he could with his squad independent of 
any one else. 

I have been on a court-martial for the last week and 


probably will be for some time to come. Two cases have 
been finished thus far — Corporal Smith of our regiment, 
for mutiny in shooting his sergeant while in discharge of his 
duties, and another case similar. I am considered rather for- 
tunate in being detailed, as it relieves me from other duties 
which are very onerous just now. 

We are having beautiful weather, very much like our own 
July. We have not had forty-eight hours of rainy weather 
since we came here. 

Julius Tyler writes that Dennison, Newton Bushnell and 
several others from Ararat are down in Tennessee in an 
engineer corps constructing a railroad. 

News from New York and Brooklyn is all about the 
Sanitary Fair. Brooklyn is wild over it and the Independent 
is full of it. 

I wish you would send me that money, $io at a time, in 
letters to Hilton Head. I am getting short. Kiss ye babie 
for ye boy who fights ye rebels. 

Jacksonville, Fla., 
March ii, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Somebodv has said that is the sweetest word of endear- 
ment in the language, and I believe it. Beside it other 
terms seem to me in my present mood mawkish and senti- 
mental. Since that April day when the red dawn of this 
cruel war was just breaking over our country, and with tear- 
wet face you bade me good-bye and God speed, no other 
woman has been so dear to me. Perhaps my letters and my 
language may not have shown it, but it is true. There 
may be a touch of Lara or Conrad the Corsair in my char- 
acter. I know my heart is not often visible in my face, but 
when I came home and you were so glad to see me that you 
could not think even where your husband was, do not imag- 
ine that because I was not affected in the same way, or that 
there were no tears of joy in my eyes, I did not feel one of 
the greatest joys of my life that day. 

H. has never seemed to me like you. Perhaps the 
greater difference in our ages may account for this, and she 


is so shy and strange, she is really getting to be almost a 
stranger. She has changed very much since I left home, 
and 1 have not kept pace with the changes, so infrequent 
have been her letters, and her letters, too, are not a part of 
or like herself. They are only the family gossip, but you, 
in all this time of absence have been my dear sister, and, 
when sitting round the camp fire a comrade has spoken 
\)i his sister, I have mentioned mine with reverent love and 
tenderness. And often I have thought but not spoken of 
how she has followed me in her thoughts and dreams, may- 
hap, over weary roads and through the smoke and din of 
battle, or in the tiresome hours of winter quarters followed 
me with the untold wealth of a sister's love. 

Often I have thought and felt I was not worthy of all 
that wealth of sisterly pride and affection lavished on me, 
but, because I was not worthy, I have craved it all the more. 
Brothers are not like a sister. Perhaps I may be wanting 
in natural affection, but my younger brothers never seemed 
so very dear to me. At home I used to be impatient of theii 
restless freaks, and though I would have resented very 
quickly a wrong done to them by an outsider, yet I never 
troubled myself much about them. E. is getting to be a 
man, and, as his strength and manhood develop, my admi- 
ration for him increases. In fact, to see our letters, you 
would think we constitute a mutual admiration society, but 
E. is not a woman and not my sister. And as a proof of 
my love for you, have I not written you often? And how 
anxiously I have watched the mails for your letters, you will 
never know. 

Jacksonville, Fla.. 
March 15, 1S64. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I send you a copy of an army paper containing some 
interesting matter about Olustee. I enclose a specimen of 
the gray moss that covers these trees. It grows in locks 
six, eight and even ten feet long and a foot thick hanging 
all over the branches, yet it has no root. It is an inex- 
tricable snarl. It seems to feed on the air, for it can get 


life no other way. It is the most singular vegetable I ever 
saw. I will try to send you some orange flowers when I 
write next. 

Jacksonville, Fla., 
March 22, 1864, 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I send you another copy of the Free South, printed this 
time on wrapping paper. "Necessity is the mother of in- 
vention." There is no news. All quiet along the lines. 
The alarm I mentioned was caused by about forty rebel cav- 
alry making a reconnoissance along our lines. Our men 
withdrew at first, then rallied and chased the rebels a mile 
beyond the original line without a shot being fired on either 
side. The court is still in session. 

Jacksonville, Fla., 
Sunday, March 2j, 1S64. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Again the mail has come and no letter from you. Nine 
days have I waited in the confident expectation that if that 
boat ever did come I should certainly get some letters. It 
comes and I get a short note from Father only. My papers 
come, so I know that it is not the fault of communication. 
What is the matter ? Has some one reported me dead, and 
have you got on mourning for me already? Am I set down 
in your mind as an inmate of the Libby, and are you tor- 
turing your brain with thoughts of the fate of a "nigger 
officer"? If you are, cease now and henceforth. Do you 
never believe Tm dead or in prison, even if you see all the 
particulars in the papers. Wait till you get the news in 
writing from Captain Dickey or Lieutenant Thompson. 
Both have your address and wil] be sure to write im- 
mediately in case anything occurs to prevent my writing. 

Rumor says to-night that we have a new commander, 
General Hatch. I hope it may prove true, for whatever 
may be General Seymour's talents, he certainly does not 
possess the confidence of the officers or men of this de- 
partment, and without that it is difficult to succeed in any- 


Do you want to know how 1 spend my time here? Well, 
in the first place I am a member of a court-martial that 
meets every morning at lo o'clock. If there is business 
enough we sit till 3 or 4 p. m., and then adjourn, but 
usually we get through much earlier. Then I come back to 
camp, and after dinner I read or write or play chess. I 
play a great deal lately and the more I learn the more I like 
it. It is a noble game and I am determined to be no mean 
])layer. I have already beaten the best player I can find in 
ihc regiment, and I mean to get so I can do it ever}^ time. 
l^ast winter I used to play "euchre" or ''old sledge," but 
it never improved me much. Chess on the contrary is a 
never ending study. Dr. Franklin called it the ''King of 

After I get through the chess, I wonder when the mail 
will come and whom my letters will be from. It is very easy 
to tell whom the last were from, or rather whom they were 
not from. By George, I shall be driven to the necessity of 
advertising in the Waverly for correspondents or initiat- 
ing another cousinly affair. 

Tell me if you get a paper every two or three days, 
a letter once a week, a package of Florida moss, an envelope 
of orange blossoms. All these I've been sending. 

I wrote to you that I had found Almon Ploss and the 
Wait's Corners bovs. 

Jacksonz'iUc, Florida, 

Sunday, April 10, 1864. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

It is a beautiful Sunday morning, gloriously fresh after 
yesterday's rain. The sun is not high enough yet to be un- 
comfortably warm. The weather is very much like north- 
ern June. Such a delicious freshness about the morning 
air, and as the sun mounts up, a glow that makes a cool 
shade appreciated. 

The ''Sunday Morning Inspection'' is going on now. Be- 
ing on "special duty" myself I am. excused from that, and 


while the captain and Lieutenant Thompson are examining 
guns and knapsacks, I am sitting in the tent writing to 

The band of sable performers is discoursing "Hail Co- 
lumbia" and "America," and they play well, too, very well 
for the length of time they have been practicing. 

Since I wrote to you we have moved our camp. We had 
the most beautiful spot in the vicinity. A high point 
of land overlooking the river and fringed with magnificent 
live oaks, and dotted here and there with orange trees and 
magnolias. It did not look very well when w^e first went 
there, but then we soon fixed it up. 

When we got well fortified, Colonel Hawley concluded 
we were not strong enough to hold the place, and ordered 
us to change camps with the Seventh Connecticut, his own 
regiment. Our present camp is on a perfectly level plain of 
sand regularly laid out, and the streets are lined with pine 
trees which the men have set out, giving it a very pretty 
appearance. We have one w^all tent for the officers of each 
company. We have the fly of ours stretched in front of the 
tent. It makes a very nice place to sit in the heat of the 
day. We are to have it paved with brick, which are plenty 
hereabouts, but we have not got it done yet. Behind the 
tent is our mess-room roofed with shelter tents, where at 
stated hours Dickson serves up the stafif of life and ham and 
potatoes. Also the dwelling of Dickson himself and his 
brick cooking-range. Around the whole is a double row of 
pines. Can vou see by that little description our surround- 
ings ? Inside we have our bed, our table and bookcase. On 
the table are books and writing materials, my flute and chess, 
the last Atlantic and the papers, read till they actually get 

The court still continues to meet every day from lo 
till 4 o'clock and I do little but attend that. 

I met Almon in the street the other day. He was looking 
well. Spoke of a projected raid across the river in w^hich 
he was to take part. A raid after the enemy's fresh beef, 
to be converted of course to the benefit of the Yankee in- 


Jachsoiii'illc, I' la., 
Thursday, April 14, 1864. 
Dear Mother : — 

Any news of special importance is sim])ly out of the 
question. The rebels, after takino^ out of Florida all they 
cared for, have abandoned the state to the Yankee invaders. 
Only a few roving bands of cavalry remain. 

This morning- two regiments left us for the Army of 
the Potomac. Rumor said that all the white troops in 
this district were to be sent there, but I believe that is one 
of Madam's incredible stories. Certainly no others have 
orders yet. 

The court-martial, which has been in session the last 
six weeks, was broken up by the departure of the judge ad- 
vocate, who went with his regim.ent, but I hear it is the 
intention to appoint another to fill his place and continue 
the court. 

Judging from appearances, it is not the intention to 
abandon this place soon. The general is having the streets 
re-planted with shade trees in places where the fire killed 
them. Fatigue parties have been at work draining the 
swamps in the immediate vicinity, and they have succeeded 
well. A high signal tower has been erected to communicate 
with vessels outside the bar at the mouth of the river. 

Jacksonville was before the war as large or larger than 
Jamestown, and built mostly of brick. Sutlers are doing 
a heavy business in the stores which survived the general 
wreck. Everyone is occupied and there are two eating 
houses in operation. I notice one good thing — no liquor is 
sold in the town. Neither officer nor soldier can get a drop. 
As a consequence nobody gets drunk, a very satisfactory 
state of affairs. 

Beyond this there is little to say. The regiment, so 
far as I can judge by observation (having had nothing to do 
with it for the last six weeks), is improving rapidly. I think 
another fight will give them a different story to tell. 

We have received a list of our wounded in the enemy's 
hands and find that quite a numbei supposed and reported 
to be dead are alive, and some left alive have since died. 


The furnishing this hst was the act of Major General Patten 
\nderson, ^Commanding Confederate States Forces in Flor- 
ida," and was entirely of his own free will, and shows a 
disposition that I wish was more general. 

Mr. Rockwood is the only useful chaplain I ever saw 
in the armv. He is doing the regiment much good. Be- 
sides preaching he is furnishing the men books, teachmg and 
encouraging them to read, and working all the tmie as 
hard as^anv other officer to improve the regiment. He is 
very much Uked, or at least respected in the regiment. ' 

Yellozv Bluff, Fla.,, 

April 23, 1864. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

The change of place indicated in my date is an ac- 
complished fact. We came down here last Sunday. Yellow 
Bluff is on the north bank of the St. Johns about seven 
miles from the mouth. We have a fort here, a stockade and 
some rifle pits. 

Our regiment garrisons the post and there are no other 
troops here. Having no other commander we have things 
all our own wav. Captain Dickey is provost marshal of 
the post and I am commanding the company. Companies 
K and B are at post headquarters and do post guard duty 
and river patrolling. 

Our court-martial, after a six-weeks' session, was dis- 
banded the day before I came down here, and on arriving 
I was sent on' picket. Imagine a slashing of five hundred 
acres with an impassable swamp on each side, woods in 
front and the camp in the rear, and you have my field of 
operations. After posting my line, I selected a log in the 
center for my headquarters and awaited developments. 
They came. Development No. i, a commotion among the 
darkies on the hill, the discharge of a musket, and beating 
the ground with clubs, ending in the reception at picket 
headquarters of a black snake seven and one-half feet long 
and thick as my wrist. No. 2, similar to No. i, except the 
musket and the kind of snake ; No. 2 being a brown cotton- 
mouth five feet long. No. 3, 11:30 p. m., a bellow that 


beats all the bulls of liashan, shakes the o^round and hud- 
dles the darkies in heaps. Uoys think it is a bear, but I 
conclude it is an alligator. No. 4, a buggy containing a 
woman, five children, a trunk and a box of tobacco, and 
drawn by a Florida pony arrives at the line. The woman 
wants to "Come over to vou-all." She is admitted and 
sent in to headquarters. Xt). 5, Lieutenant Younq; relieves 
me and I return to cam]). 

Well, as I told you. Company K is provost guard and 
river patrol. About all the duty I have is to patrol the 
river one night in three. The steamers Maple Leaf and 
General Hunter have been blown up by torpedoes, and our 
business is to prevent the rebels from putting down any 
more of them between here and St. Johns Bluff, six miles 
below. We have four boats' crews beside the guard in the 
two companies. I come on to-night and I will give you an 
outline of the night's work. About dark I shall leave the 
wharf with a crew of seven men and run down the 
river among the islands and past the mouths of creeks and 
bayous to St. Johns Bluff, keeping a bright lookout for any 
strange boat. I shall get out on shore, build up a fire and 
wait an hour for my oarsmen to rest, then come back 
again, reaching camp about midnight. Then I shall take 
a new crew and do the same thing over again, getting back 
at sunrise. 

To-morrow night Lieutenant Griffin w^ill go with his 
company, next night Lieutenant Thompson, and next I go 
again. After breakfast I shall take a snooze, then get up 
and play a few games of chess with the adjutant or some- 
body else, or perhaps go fishing. Fish are abundant here, 
and strange fish some of them are, too. Catfish just like 
our bullheads, weigh thirty pounds. Sheephead, shaped like 
a pumpkin seed with teeth exactly like a sheep's, and lips 
too, for that matter. Garfish with a bill like a duck's only 
hard and full of sharp teeth, and eight or ten inches long. 
Sea trout — Thompson caught one the other day that 
weighed twenty-six pounds, delicious eating. When one of 
them bites, it is a fair question which is caught, the fish 


or the man. Sea crabs and oysters are plenty, too. Don't 
you think we can Hve? 

The regiment is camped rather scattering. Two com- 
panies are in the fort, two at the stockade, and two here, two 
in reserve and two down at St. Johns Bluff. There are 
three or four houses here. One is used for headquarters, 
one as hospital, one commissary. Lieutenant Thompson and 
I have a tent with a fly in front and a floor under the 
whole. Captain Dickey has a tent for himself and one for 
his office. The men to-day are putting up "A" tents and 
discarding the shelter tents. Altogether we intend to be 
comfortable while we stay here. 

The white troops are all gone or are going north and 
we are to stay and hold the river to prevent smuggling. 
Next time I will give you some description of the country 
and river scenery. 

I am collecting some beautiful shells and curiosities to 
send you if I ever get in reach of an express. 

I've got three little alligators a foot and a half long in 
a tub. I keep them for playthings. 

Yellozc Bluff, Fla., 

May 10, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Everybody is talking now of the event of yesterday, 
the destruction of the little steamer Harriet Weed by a 
torpedo. It occurred about four mdes above here. Captain 
Dickey, who was coming down from Jacksonville on the 
Boston, saw it. The Boston is quite a large boat and 
carried a large party of excursionists or ''inspectionists" 
from Hilton Head. There were some fifty ladies on board. 
The captain for some whim ran a little nearer the shore than 
the regular channel. He had never done so before. The 
Weed, however, was just behind, and she kept the regular 
channel and was blown to atoms. She sank immediately. 
There were ten killed and wounded. The rest escaped 
unhurt. The gunboat Mahaska had been lying there for 
some time and her launches patrolled the river, but the 
day before she went up to Jacksonville, and the first night 


she was gone two torpedoes were planted. We received 
orders last night to patrol that part hereafter. It brings it 
pretty hard on us. I am very glad it did not occur on our 
part of the river. Much blame is or would be attached to 
us if a torpedo should be found in our part. Under the 
circumstances it would be unhealthy business for a strange 
boat to be caught on the river here. I would shoot first 
and court-martial afterwards. This is the third steamer 
blown up on this river already, and any amount of tor- 
pedoes have been found. 

The paymaster came on Saturday with his $7 per 
month. Not half the men would sign the rolls or take their 
pay, and those who did, did so under protest. It is too bad. 
Seven dollars a month for the heroes of Olustee ! I received 
two months' pay, deducting the tax, $213.49. Some dif- 
ference between that and $26. My expenses besides cloth- 
ing, etc., are about $6 a week and I hope to save some money 

We are living very quietly, enjoying ourselves as well 
as we can. 

The w^eather is extremely warm in the middle of the 
day, July and August weather, but the evenings — O, how 
I wish you could be here to enjoy a few! When the moon 
rises red as blood and throws across the river a long shining 
path ; when the air is so balmy you seem to float in some 
other element. And then to go out on the river where 
your oars drip pearls or drops of fire, and the sparks fly 
from the prow of the boat as she plows her way along. I 
suppose it is electricity in the water. I know it is beauty. 

A man just down from Yorktown says there is a bigger 
army on the Peninsula than was there before, and as many 
as the old army along the Rappahannock. The advance was 
at Bottom's Bridge, ten miles from Richm.ond, when he 
left. I have no doubt that is the route to Richmond, not- 
withstanding McClellan's failures, and Grant is the man 
to go in. Even now, for all I know, the North may be in 
jubilee over his victory. The rebels seem to have ac- 
cepted our discarded "scatteration" policy, and Grant works 
on the concentration. Richmond must be taken. No doubt 


they will blow up the prison where our soldiers are, but 
God pity the prisoners we take after that. 

Yelloiv Bluff, Fla., 
Monday, May i6, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

My letters from home bring the news that you have 
another brother in the army, but of course you will have 
heard that long before this reaches you. I am not sorry he 
has gone. One hundred days of a summer's campaign will 
be apt to knock some of the romance out of him. He thinks 
he has none, but the remark that he has paid $10 for a 
pair of boots "like yours, military, you know," shows how 
his mind runs. He has been running over for three years 
with the desire ''to be a soldier like Oliver," and now I 
hope he will get his fill of it. Xo doubt he will make 
a good one and would fight like a tiger on occasion, but a 
little experience will change a good many of his ideas. He 
is not likely to see any harder fighting than a brush with 
guerillas. I am afraid he will consider himself in for the 
war after his hundred days are up, which is just what I 
don't want him to do, but I won't borrow trouble. 

I hear from the Eighty-third that it is nearly full to the 
maximum. Captain Woodward is mustered as the Colonel 
and Captain McCoy as Lieutenant Colonel. All the old 
members of Company K, except five have re-enlisted, so 
Captain Hechtman writes. According to my figures "all 
but five" is just four, for when I left there were but nine 
of the old boys left. 

This mail brings us the good news that colored soldiers 
are at last to get their dues in the inatter of pay. The pay- 
master was here a week ago and offered the heroes of Olustee 
$7 a month. Most of them would not take it. Only those 
very much in need of money did so. 

Yellozv Bluff, Fla., 
Saturday, June iS, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Last week I sent you something pretty. I made myself 


happy imagining- \onr expressions of wonder when you 
get the pen box, and of deHght when you see the exquisite 
beauty of the Httle shells it contains. I captured them at 
the house of a rebel colonel, which we burnt down. He 
was the gentleman who fitted out the nest of torpedoes, one 
of which blew up the Harriet Weed. Did I tell you about 
my finding the box of powder (one hundred and fifty pounds 
of cannon powder) in his family graveyard? It was a little 
brick enclosure deep in the woods near Cedar Creek. In the 
corner was a box nailed up. On the box was a heavy set 
of dinner plates and a pitcher. Inside the box was another 
one covered with leather, and inside that in pound bags of 
red flannel was the pow^der. Of course, I destroyed it. Near 
the. graveyard, hid in the bushes, I found two barrels of 
sugar and one of molasses, which I threw into the creek. 

It was on this march that I took my first rebel prisoner. 
We had surrounded a house just before daylight, and while 
the others were searching the house, I concluded to peep 
into an out-building, and who should I see but Mr. Johnny 
just getting into his ''don't-speak-of-'ems." He "allowed 
it was all up with him," and I allowed ditto. He was a pret- 
ty fine fellow, belonging to the Second Florida Cavalry. 

I suppose Almon-d (what about that "d''?) is some- 
where about Gaines' Mill now. They had another terrible 
fight there, and I see a long list of wounded in the One 
hundred and twelfth. I did not see his name. Colonel 
Drake was among the killed, and Hubbard, Cushing and 
Tillotson wounded. I think Grant is bound to w^in this 

I received a letter from E. at the same time I got 
yours. He was on detail then in Toledo after deserters. His 
regiment was at Johnson's Island guarding rebel prisoners 
and he expected to return the next day. Chauncey Ayres is 
chief bugler of the Xinth Xew York Cavalrv. 

Oh, but I do wish you could see the flowers I have on my 
table this morning! Beside a grand magnolia I have a 
Spanish bayonet, a cone-shaped or egg-shaped flower two 
feet high and a foot in diameter. It is shaped like this : 



One solid head like that emitting an exquisite perfume. 
If you could slice one down the middle, the transverse 
section would look like this : 

(sketch omitted.) 

From the main spike stems radiate in every direction 
with a bell-shaped flower at the end of each stem, and they 
are so close together as to present the appearance of a beauti- 
ful white cone, with proportions that in a flower are magnifi- 
cent. By putting oleanders, jessammes and roses in among 
the stems you can have a beautiful bouquet of gigantic di- 

YcUozi' Bluif, Fla., 
Friday, June 24, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The greatest excitement here is caused by the advent of 
our new regimental commander, Major Edelmiro Mayer. 
He is a South American, and has been ten years in the army 
in foreign countries. He speaks several languages, the 
English poorest of any, and with his inexhaustible fund of 
anecdotes and his quaint remarks, keeps everybody in the 
best possible humor. Ever since the battle of Olustee the 
regiment has been under command of Captain Bailey, who 
though a verv nice man and good company commander, 
couldn't "keep a hotel" or command a regiment. He al- 
lowed himself to be led by the nose by the doctor, who 
virtually commanded the regiment, had his say in every- 
thing, and bullied and interfered in all possible ways. The 
new major "has broken the doctor's nose" and given him 
to understand that his duties are to attend to the sick and 
not to act as "General Adviser." Of course the inedi-ciiss 
is not "sweet on" the major, and of course everyone else 
is jubilant that "Othello's occupation's gone." 

Hear the major specifying the duties of the day : "After 
the reveille he (the soldier) shall bathe himself in the 
river and from 7 o'clock till 9 he shall drill in the company 
for perfect himself in the mechanism of his little duties. 
From 9 o'clock till 3 is very hot and he shall eat his dinner 


and in his tent stay, with that Httle divcrtisement — what vou 
call 'em scratch himself. From 3 o'clock till 5 is battalion 
drill and after — dress parade and supper." 

He gets right down to the bottom of things and our 
regiment is going to improve under his direction. 

Yellozv Bluff, Fla., 

June so, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I know something how near to you the death of Almon 
comes. He was a comparative stranger to me. I had 
seen him but twice, once at home and once at Jacksonville, 
and of course I could not know him very intimately. His 
comrades spoke w^ell of him and esteemed him highly, and 
he seemed to me like an excellent soldier and a good young 
man. I sympathize with you in your sorrow. Your grief 
is mine and your joy also. 

My last letter from E. gives the intelligence that he too 
is among the host pressing on to Richmond, and I tremble 
lest in these days of terrible slaughter the next one may 
bring the news of a fearful wound, or some strange hand 
may tell me of his death in the field. I feel more anxious 
for him than I ever did for myself. You know how I have 
always felt about his going out and I have expressed my 
views freely to him, but now he is there, he shall hear no 
discouraging word from me. I have written to him to do 
his duty fearlessly and faithfully, and if he falls, to die 
with his face to the foe. He will do it. You will never 
blush for the cowardice of your brother, and my only fear is 
that he will be too rash. I glory in his spirit, while I 
tremble for his danger. Oh, I could hardly bear to give 
him up now, and yet I suppose his life and his proud young 
spirit are no more precious, no more dear to me or to you 
than thousands of others who have fallen and are to fall 
are to their friends. But I will not look forward to coming 
sorrow, but hope for the best. 

This is the last night in June and very swiftly the 
month has passed away. The weather has been delightful, 


not near so warm as May. Almost every day we have had 
a refreshing shower. 

We are in hopes to be ordered to Virginia, or \ve should 
not be disappointed if we w^ere ordered there. The Seventh 
U. S. C. T. started day before yesterday and the Thirty- 
fifth went by to-day. It does seem hard that I should be 
lying here in idleness while my old comrades are marching 
on to victory or death. Perhaps it is for the best. 

I have just been looking with pride at E.'s picture. Why 
cannot I look at yours? Isn't it worth while to take a 
Httle trouble to send it to me? There must be a photog- 
rapher in Panama. 

Jacksonville, Fla., 

July 2^, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The "District of Florida" is cursed by a commander 
called Brigadier General Birney.* It seems to be a sort 
of dunce block for the government — a place where they send 
men good for nothing in any other place. They began with 
Seymour — his performances you have heard of. Then they 
sent Hatch. He couldn't hatch up any disaster and they 
sent him somewhere else. Next came Foster. He was a 
pretty sensible man, so he did not stay a week. Then at 
last came Birney, the siimmiini iiialuui, a man afflicted 
with the St. Vitus' dance, in a military point of view. He 
is utterly unable to be quiet or let anybody else be. He came 
early in June about the time most of the troops were sent 
away, and immediately began to stir up things. He thought 
there was not much force near Charleston and he would 
make a reconnoissance. He took the splendid steamer 
Boston, put a regiment of infantry and two pieces of ar- 
tillery on her and started up one of the small rivers near 
Charleston. He ran aground, the rebels fired into the boat, 
he set fire to her, and the regiment jvmiped overboard and 
took to the woods. The steamer was lost with the two 
guns, all the arms of the regiment, and stores, in all $100,000 

"^Note — Not the General Birney of the Third Corps. 


of property. By and l)y he started again, went up to James 
Island and — came back again. Didn't lose much that time 
but a great deal of patience among his officers and men. 
On the Fourth of July there was some difficulty between the 
Third and Thirty-fifth Colored Troops in town here. He 
would punish the Third. He didn't like the Eighth very 
well. He would punish the Eighth. The Third was in the 
forts here and had been drilling ail summer in heavy ar- 
tillery and understood it pretty well. He ordered the Third 
to Yellow Bluff and the Eighth to the forts at Jacksonville. 
Next day he ordered a raid. There was a steam sawmill 
belonging to a rebel on the Nassau River about twenty-five 
miles from here, and he started nearly all the force in the 
district to capture that sawmill. Three steamers loaded with 
troops left here a week ago to-day, landed the troops at 
Trout Creek above Yellow Bluff, and they marched across 
the country while the Alice Price, one of the most valuable 
steamers in the department, went round to go up the Nassau. 
He marched one day's march into the wilderness and con- 
cluded he didn't need so large a force, so he sent them all 
back but one hundred men. The Price struck a snag in the 
Nassau and went to pieces, a total loss of $40,000, and he 
hasn't got the sawmill yet. He came back and ordered 
the Eighth out of the forts and the Third back again. He 
ordered us to camp on a place that was an equine cemetery, 
and didn't see the joke till he had been told half a dozen 
times, and then he ordered us to change again over by Fort 
Hatch where we were last spring. We had not got tents 
pitched before the order came to "Prepare to march im- 
mediately. Six days' rations, etc." The regiment stood 
in a pelting rain for two hours on the wharf and then were 
ordered back to camp. This morning they started again, and 
after waiting two hours again in the rain, at last got on boara 
and started. They are off on a cow-hunting expedition to 
Indian River, a hundred miles down the coast. You will 
ask why I am not with them. I was not able to march and 
am left in charge of the camps. I gave out on the sawmill 
expedition. We marched eight miles through the pine woods 
(which keep off the wind but give no shade) without a halt, 


with the mercury above lOO in the shade. At the end of that 
time I fell in the road, sunstruck, and I haven't been worth 
much since. It was terrible. Twenty-five men and three 
officers had given out, and we all came back together to- 
wards night. So my boast of never being excused from 
duty is done. I w^as not well when I started and went 
further than I should have done, but for my pride in never 
''falling out." There is a limit to human endurance and 
I found mine there. I can stand any reasonable hardship 
and I believe little things do not daunt me, but that was 
altogether too much. I never heard of such a thing before 
as marching men in such weather. Why, they do not allow 
a sentry to stand without a shelter, but men can march and 
carry six days' rations on wild goose hunts well enough. 
There is no pretense of an enemy. There are not seven 
hundred rebels in the state of Florida. 

General Birney seems to consider the Eighth as a sick 
child that requires nursing, and block and tackle by which 
to hoist his favorites into place and power. 

Major Burritt was badly wounded at Olustee and has 
not been able to be with the regiment since ( Colonel Fribley 
is dead and Lieutenant Colonel Bartram promoted to another 
regiment) ; he is the true commander of the regiment. Cap- 
tain Bailey commanded in his absence for a long time, but 
the general had one friend (only) in the district, a South 
American major, ambitious and unprincipled, and he w^ants 
to make him colonel, so he sends him to command the regi- 
ment, on the ground that Captain Bailey is not competent. 
Then he proposes to have Major Burritt (who has appoint- 
ment as Lieutenant Colonel, but cannot be mustered till he 
takes command) mustered out of the service, Major Mayer 
promoted to Colonel, and a Captain Hart to Lieutenant 
Colonel of the Eighth. Major Mayer has already made 
recommendations of officers to be promoted who are en- 
tirely out of the line of promotion, and, to cap the climax, 
the general yesterday sent Captain Hart to command the 
regiment, which stirred up such a breeze that he had to 
send him back. You do not understand why, I presume. 
Suppose the captain of my company to resign, or be 


proiT.oted, or die, or i^et out of the way in any other way. Of 
course, I would expect to be promoted to fill his place, the 
second lieutenant to take my place. That is, if I w^ere sen- 
ior first lieutenant (haviui^: appointment of earliest date). 
Now, if an ofiicer froni another regiment is made the cap- 
tain, that throws me and every officer out of promotion. 
Of course, that does not work smoothly, being opposed to 
the regulations, and such performances are demoralizing the 
Eighth very fast. 

1 have wished many times this summer that I was back 
iH the Army of the Potomac. We would probably knock 
about more there than here, but it would be to some apparent 
purpose and we w^ould have the satisfaction of trying to do 
some good. 

I expect before Birney gets back there will be another 
steamer blown up by torpedoes and we will be hurried 
downi to Yellow Blufif again to guard the river. 

Jacksonville^ Fla., 
August I, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Aly last was written on the 23d, and in that I told you 
that the regiment had gone on another expedition and that 
I, being unwell, had been left behind in command of camp. 
I am much better now, so you may dispense with any extra 
anxiety you may have felt on my account. 

The expedition did not go to Indian River as we ex- 
pected, but went up the St. Johns thirty miles, landed and 
struck across the country to Darby, on this railroad and 
seven miles west of Baldwin. It then turned and came 
back this way. The rebs had quite a little force behind 
three miles of intrenchments at Baldwin, and if Birney 
had moved right on he might have captured the whole of 
them, but he waited while they got ready to move, and only 
captured a dozen or so, and three officers. The regiment 
came back on the 28th, Thursday, and next day w^e were 
ordered to embark on the Cosmopolitan at 11 o'clock. 

We have the only band in this district, and under the 
leadership of the colored Professor Anderson, it has got 


to be a good band. The officers pay the professor $ioo a 
month to lead and instruct the band, and they take some 
pride in it. We found that we were going to Hilton Head 
to stay, and just as the regiment embarked he ordered the 
band ashore. Being enlisted men they were subject to his 
orders, but their instruments were the property of the 
regiment and the officers piled them up on deck. General 
Birney said they might be our instruments, but they could 
not go on a government boat. We told Professor Anderson 
to come with us, as he was not a soldier. General Birney 
ordered him off the boat as he was a citizen, and so it went, 
but the general finally beat us and we left the band. 

He was determined that the regiment should noi stay at 
Hilton Head, so he did all he could to make us appear to dis- 
advantage, and immediately on landing he attacked General 
Foster and kept at him till he succeeded in getting us sent 
back, and here we are again. While he was gone, Colonel 
Noble in command here did something. He captured a 
locomotive and a train of cars on the Cedar Keys railroad 
which crosses this railroad at Baldwin. We expect to 
start on another expedition to-morrow. Our trip to the 
Head was a nice little excursion, take it all round, especiall) 
for those who did not get seasick. There are but few more 
troops there than here, but it is headquarters of the depart- 
ment and a busy place. I was much amused while I was 
there at seeing the contrabands. It was market day (and 
is every day) and they were coming to sell the melons and 
other vegetables. They all came in boats, and the beach is 
so very flat that their boats cannot come near the shore. The 
men come in every day costume, but the women put on 
their brightest bandanas and calicoes. Arrived at the end 
of their voyage, they run their boats up, as far as they can, 
and then the men get out in the water and shoulder the 
women and carry them ashore and return for their cargoes. 
The process of transportation affords excellent opportunities 
for taking photographs of "black-legs," etc., for the Rogues' 
Gallery. I saw one of "de pretty yaller gals" dressed in 
the extreme of fashion, silk dress, white skirt, gaiters, etc., 
standing on a board on the beach surrounded by a group of 


lesser lights (or shades) who paid their homage by respect- 
ful "how dye's." She had evidently donned some of her 
"missis' ■' garments and I but do her justice in saying she 
looked well in them. 

My ! I)Ut I did lay in the ice creams, soda waters and 
melons up at the Head, like a fellow who hadn't had any in 
some time. 

E. says his time is half out (more too, now) and if any- 
body gets him out in the infantry again, he'll be a smart 
man. Oh, ho, ho, I told you so, but don't tell him I told 
you so. His patriotism is not much less, but the poetry of 
war sounds better at a distance. 

Its "Hottentotissimus" down here now. Thermometer 
past 100 degrees — a heap. I stand it much better than I 
expected and so does everyone else. I wear woolen clothes 
— woolen shirt and drawers all the time, too. 

Jacksonville, Flo., 

August 4, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

1 wrote you a few days ago, but important items occur- 
ring and having occurred, I embrace the opportunity to drop 
you a line. 

I think I wrote on the first that we were ordered on an 
expedition into the interior. That night I cut my foot badly 
with a broken tumbler, which little interruption will no 
doubt lay me on the shelf for some time. The regiment 
started next morning but I remained behind. 

Now the camp is full of rumors. General Birney is 
reported to be relieved by General Hatch and ordered to the 
Army of the Potomac and that two regiments are to go 
with him. She points her shaky finger at the Seventh and 
Eighth as the two regiments. The Eighth is still at Palatka, 
though expected down to-day. Some say the Seventh and 
Ninth, the regiments Birney organized, are the ones to go, 
but the Ninth is at Beaufort out of his district, and unless 
he can take us there and exchange us for the Ninth, they 
are not apt to go. Of course, I like the prospect of going — 
Grant, Glory and Richmond — I've fought and stumbled 


around there too long not to wish to be in at the death 
when the death is in prospect. I may meet E. too. Hur- 
rah, for the Army of the Potomac ! Still, I'm whistling be- 
fore issuing from the sylvan shades. We are not certain 
to go after all. 

Bermuda Hundred, Va.. 

August IS, 1864. 
Dear Father : — 

I've just time to drop you a line in great haste. 

We left Florida on the 5th, arrived at Hilton Read on the 
7th. Left there on the 8th, arrived at Fortress Monroe, after 
a lovely passage, on the nth. Anchored off the mouth of 
the James that night. While there the One hundred and 
thirtieth Ohio National Guard passed on their way home. 
E. or somebody else called my name as they faded away in 
the distance. 

Yesterday, the 12th, we landed at Bermuda Hundred 
and marched to the front on the right of Butler's line. This 
morning the rebels opened a heavy fire on us and after a 
time we were withdrawn. Our sergeant major and some 
others were wounded — none killed in the Eighth, some in 
the Seventh. To-day our baggage came up and we sent ten 
wagon loads up to be stored at Norfolk or "else whair." I 
sent my valise to New York by express. 

We are under orders now to be ready to march at a 
moment's notice and are ready. My foot is sore yet, but I 
march if there is any fighting to be done. I've cut my 
finger, which rather injures my penmanship, in my haste, but 
I guess you can read it. Grant has '"several" reinforcements, 
and orders look like work. Good news from Mobile. The 
rebels got the worst of the shelling this morning. 

Chesapeake Hospital, Fortress Monroe, Va., 

Monday, August 22, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

You will no doubt be somewhat surprised to receive 
a letter from me dated at a hospital. It is a noveltv for me, 


but the proverb says, "every dog has his clay," and mine has 
come now. 

I wrote you a Hne from Bermuda Hundred saying that 
we had arrived in the old Army of the Potomac and that 
I was ready for what might come. I thought I was. I 
have been trying this long time to deceive myself into the 
idea that I was well enough, but I had to give it up. I have 
a fancy that my night duty along the marshes of the St. 
Johns affected me more than I knew at the time. It 
first showed itself in that attack of sunstroke, and ever since 
that time any exertion of consequence has found me wanting. 
I am weak and enervated, unable to endure fatigue as I 
used to in the old campaigns. I was taken sick on a night 
march, Saturday night a week ago, and though I kept up 
a while I was forced at last to lie down under a tree. Sun- 
day morning I went on from the bridge over the James, 
where I had slept, to the front where they were having a 
brisk little skirmish, but learning that our regiment was in 
reserve, I came back and found them near the river. On 
Tuesday they marched again, and I was left in camp too 
weak to go. Wednesday I stayed there, and on Thursday the 
adjutant came back and put me on his horse and took me to 
the Tenth Corps hospital. On Friday I was put on a boat 
and sent down here, landing on Saturday. The Chesapeake 
is a large hospital exclusively for officers. The building was 
formerly a large seaside hotel overlooking Hampton Roads 
and is admirably adapted to hospital purposes. There is 
plenty of pure sea breeze and good food. Officers are 
charged $i a day for board and attendance. In the card 
at the head of my bed my diagnosis (or symptoms) is set 
down as "General Debility," so I suppose that's what's the 
matter with me. 

We had a lovely passage up from the Head. The Col- 
lins is not a passenger boat, but the weather was fair and 
the officers slept on deck in comfort. Her little table would 
seat just ten, so we had first, second and third tables, but 
plenty of good food, for which Mr. Steward charged us 
fifty cents a meal, or $1.50 a day. We were four days com- 
ing, and to while away the tedious hours we had whist 


parties and story clubs, and in the evening our band dis- 
coursed sweet music. We would have been selfish to have 
wished a better time. 

Well, I'm too weak to write much and must close. We 
are much nearer together now than when I was in Florida, 
and I hope to hear from you often. I want to hear how 
you get along on the farm, and the thousand and one 
things you know will interest me. Give my love to C, and 
write as soon as you can after receiving this. Direct to 
Lieutenant O. W. N., Chesapeake Hospital, Ward i. Fort- 
ress Monroe, Va., exactly. Don't put on my regiment. 

Chesapeake Hospital, 
August 26, 1864. 
Dear Father : — 

This letter of yours has been to Hilton Head I suppose, 
and then to the Army of the Potomac, and next day, by the 
kindness of Captain Dickey, to me here. He is a captain, 
that same Dickey. His good qualities wear like steel. 

Twenty days old this letter is. In that time you must 
have received several from me, not all addressed to you, 
but to the family , some of them, papers for the boys, and 
one I sent to ^Mother with a little note about the picture. 
I don't believe they can all have miscarried. Well, one 
thing is certain, it won't take a month for letters to pass 
now, and I comfort myself by thinking that you will be 
reading this about Monday or Tuesday next, and bv and 
by all this arriere will be straightened up. 

After hearing what you have had to occupy you lately, 
I recall my impatient remarks about your want of interest, 
etc. Indeed, they were not leveled at you. Though you 
give every other reason I know that you do not like to 
write letters. You sit down to it as to a job that must be 
done and I do not expect you to write often. 

I had an idea that I had a sister out there who (if she 
follows the track of young persons of her sex) must be 
quite a young lady by this time. Young ladies are sup- 
posed to wield a ready pen, to be familiar with the state of 
the family and to love to gossip about it. They generally 


have time enough, hut despite all mv ideas, hypotheses, etc., 
I find a married sister with a husband to take care of, a 
house to swee]), the stockings to darn, and the slight care 
of a dairy — T find her writing to me every week, while this 
young lady finds time alDOUt once in six months. E. is a 
''brick.'' He writes as often as he can, and, though I 
haven't received any from him of very late date, 1 lay it 
to the bags. I hope soon to hear from him that he is back 
in the hardware in Toledo. "What would you think," he 
says in his last, "if I should get as large a salary as Fath- 
er's ?" He got a stomach-full of the army in one hundred 
days. If he goes again, it will be with a strong impression 
that he can't help it. I wrote to him, directing to Brooklyn, 
thinking of course he would be at home a few days, or at 
least you would know where he is. He said Mr. P. was 
very anxious he should come back to his store, but he him- 
self did not seem very anxious to accept so advantageous 
a situation. 

I am very sorry to hear of your trouble about the house ; 
however I suppose it is all over now. I hope so at least. 
I should think with such a scarcity of dwellings some Yankee 
would be putting up houses to rent. I had very much such 
a time as yours approached, just before coming here. Get- 
ting sick in camp, I was left behind unable to march. "In 
camp" in the Army of the Potomac now is a pleasant fiction, 
meaning any place a regiment bivouacs on over night. So 
they moved away and left me, our efficient medical staff 
making no provision for sick. Two days I stayed there, 
living on the kindness of some sick men from Maine. Then 
our adjutant came and mounted me on his own horse, like 
a good Samaritan, and took me to the corps hospital. 
The medical director wanted to see my papers. I must 
be committed like a pauper to the poorhouse. I was "liable 
to be arrested" for absence from my regiment without au- 
thority. You may understand it was trying to my temper 
to be called a skulk the first time I came near a hospital in 
more than three years. I turned away from him in disgust 
and lay down under a tree on the bank of the river. The 
adjutant left me there and said he would not rest till he 


had got the order sending me to the hospital. So there I lay 
and my thoughts were not pleasant. By and by I heard 
a rattle of musketry and knew my regiment was "in." 
Then it blew and began to rain. I curled myself up in my 
gum blanket and felt miserable enough, sick, weak, and no 
place to shelter my head. 

The next afternoon a doctor came and asked me who I 
was and how I came there. I told him my story and he had 
the kindness to be shocked — "didn't see into it — anyone 
could see I was sick — didn't need any papers" and he im- 
mediately wrote the papers I enclose and sent me on the 
boat. I feel very weak, have only been out doors once. 
If it were any use I would apply for leave of absence as 
soon as I am able to travel, but it is not. I would be 
ordered to Annapolis and put on court-martial or some 
other light duty. It is next to impossible to get leave of 

The Eighth has redeemed any reputation it lost at Olus- 
tee. It was the Eighth before which "eighty-two dead rebels 
were counted after the battle," according to Birney's dis- 

Chesapeake Hospital, 
Sunday, August 28, 1864. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

I have passed the week mostly on my bed — been out of 
the house but once. That was yesterday, when I went 
down to the fort (in the cars) and that little exertion was 
almost too much for me. I am very comfortably sick — 
have no pain except an occasional headache, but spend most 
of my time quietly, feeling a great aversion to the least 

My bed is a little iron cot with a mattress on it, my table 
a light stand. I draw it up beside the bed and write my let- 
ters and then lie back and read or sleep. Three times a day 
my tormentor comes with quinine and whisky disguised as 
"tonic solution," and soon after come preparations for a 
meal from the "low diet kitchen." This is managed in a 
way called in military parlance "by detail," e. g., first install- 
ment for dinner (after the "tonic solution") 10 a. m., nurse 


with cup and saucer. Then at intervals of half an hour the 
following- articles — 10:30, knife, fork and spoon; 11, milk, 
cup and mug, with one spoonful of sugar ; 1 1 130, teapot and 
plate of corn starch (good); 12 m., plate with leathery 
toast, dab of butter, boiled beef and a slice of beet or dried 
sweet potato. Regularity and system are indispensable in 
hospitals, so this routine is never departed from, and it is 
just two hours every time from the arrival of the cup and 
saucer to "Ready, Sir," the signal to fall to. I assure you 
there is no waste of food among the low diet patients. I 
always take all the sugar to make out. 1 do not seem to 
gain strength at all. In fact, I lose strength every day, but 
I hope to improve soon. 

We have a new^ surgeon — came this morning. The one 
that left yesterday was a very nice man, and this one seems 
a good man too, as well as I could judge bv ten minutes' 

I used to say that if I ever got in a hospital I should 
want to get home. So I do now, and I expect — to want. 
No use in trying that here. But as soon as I am able to 
travel, I mean to apply to be sent to Annapolis on light 
duty and from there I think I can get home. I have lost 
twenty pounds of flesh and I do not intend to go to the 
field again till I regain that and my full strength. It would 
be useless and might result in a more serious fit of sick- 

E. had not got home when Father wrote, and I have not 
heard a word from him since he passed me on his way 
north. I am not uneasy about him though. 

I had a letter from D. F. a day or two since. He said 
nothing about Etta, but Lizzie and the baby had gone to 
Maine, so I have strong doubts about your seeing anything 
of Etta this summer. I wrote to D. to send you "Very 
Hard Cash" as my birthday present. If you have read it, 
it will be rather ]]ial apropos, won't it? I do not think 
you have, as it has not been out long and novelties don't find 
their way out there very fast. You will, if I am not mis- 
taken, find it one of the most absorbing stories you ever read. 
It is made up almost wholly of im.possibles. For instance, 


his heroine, Julia, is one never seen except in a novel, but 
she is only an exaggeration of many sweet and lovely wom- 
en. His best character, I think, is David Dodd, the nearest 
approach to a possible. Dr. Sampson is well drawn and 
an original person. I could not succeed in appreciating the 
saintliness with which he finished Jane Hardie. Her broth- 
er's co-mments on her diary seemed to me too just, and his 
motto for the diary might as well apply to her life ; "Ego 
et Dens incus," or I and my God. 

But the lesson of the story is a good one, and the con- 
summate skill with which it is wrought out makes one 
jealous of the author for being an Englishman. Why have 
we no one on this side the water to write an American 
story like that ? In one thing he fails. In impossibles he is 
better than Dickens, but when he caricatures Yankees and 
negroes, he shows an ignorance of the originals. Ves- 
pasian is his poorest impossible, and Fullalove is not much 
better. But enough of this. When you have read it, tell 
me how you like it and how you like my comments. 

From the front the news is always encouraging. Lee 
has been making desperate efforts to regain the Weldon 
railroad and so far without success, and every day lessens 
his prospects of success. He is reported to have said he 
must have it if it took every rebel soldier. He is welcome to 
it at that price. Sherman is waiting for Farragut to take 
Mobile or draw off a part of Hood's force to defend it, 
and things seem to be almost at a deadlock all round. 

Chesapeake Hospital, 
September i, 1864. 
Dear Mother :— 

I was very much surprised to hear that E. had not get 
home, but was to stay here till the 7th of September, and 
I don't begin to understand it yet. The One hundred and 
forty-second Ohio National Guards, which must have been 
formed after his regiment, has gone home, and I was sure 
the regiment that passed us that night answered "One hun- 
dred and thirtieth Ohio — hundred days' men." "The Norton" 


which was heard might have l)een imaginary. 1 may 
see him yet before he goes. 

I am glad to report that I am getting better. I was out 
yesterday, went down to the fort in the horse car, weighed 
myself and found ni\- "mortal remains" to be just 109 
pounds avoirdupois. 

We had a change of surgeons a few days ago, and the 
new one said my liver was out of order and gave me calomel, 
salts, quinine, whisky, fever pills, sulphuric acid, etc., enough 
to kill a man with a less vigorous constitution, but I really 
believe it did me good. He has stopped all but the quinine 
and whisky now^ and I feel a great deal better. I have 
gone to the "full diet" table now. with an appetite like a 

I am very glad to hear that you have succeeded in get- 
ting a roof between yourselves and "the starry decked 
heavens above you." Father was quite anxious about that 
when he wrote, and I cannot see how you do manage to live 
on his slender salary. I can't support myself in my present 
position on that. My full pay is about $100 a month; $11 
of that is allowance for a servant, which I get if I have the 
servant. If I get a boy he will eat more than he earns and in 
the first battle throw away my overcoat and blankets. If 
I get a man over sixteen, Butler or some other man will 
take him away for a teamster or soldier. If I employ a 
soldier, I must pay $25.50 per month, or just what it costs 
the United States, $13 w^ages, $9 subsistence and $3.50 

Since January i. Captain Dickey has employed one of 
the company as servant and the amount was stopped from 
his pay. Lieutenant Thompson and I had the benefit of his 
services and shared the expense till June. Since then, 
Thompson has been detached and the captain and I have 
stood the whole. 

We have not settled for July and August yet, but we can- 
not employ a soldier any more. It is the general custom in 
the army for officers to employ soldiers and then certify on 
their payrolls that they have not done so and draw their 
full pay. It is done in every regiment and has been ever 


since I've been in the service. In that way some officers 
send home an immense amount of wages. 

It costs me $i a day for board, saying nothing of clothes 
or servant. If I want a coat, it costs from $25 to $30, pants 
$15, boots $12 or $15, hat $10, shirts $10 a pair. 

Chesapeake Hospital, 
September 11, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I received a letter to-day from Captain Dickey dated 
"In the trenches before Petersburg, September 7th." He 
says the regiment is forty-eight hours in the outer line and 
forty-eight ofif alternately. It is certain death to show a 
head above the works. Some one is killed almost every 
day. Captain Walker, a particular friend of mine in the 
Seventh, was killed by the sharpshooters a few days since. 
We have lost one killed and four wounded in our company. 
It is a pleasant thing to have the respect and good will of 
your comrades. I will give you an extract from the cap- 
tain's letter. After speaking of Lieutenant Thompson's be- 
ing detached as Ordnance Officer, he says: "So you see, 
I am all alone, and a sweet time I've had of it, making 
muster rolls (they were finished an hour since), monthly 
returns, etc., with my books and papers all locked up in 
Norfolk. Hasn't it been a delightful job? But with you 
matters seem less promising. I am sorry to hear you im- 
prove so slowly. Seems to me a milder treatment would 
be better, but a man in the doctor's hands must follow pre- 
scriptions. But keep a cheerful tone of mind. There is no 
necessity for you to fret or worry the least about your 
duties here. You have the sympathy of all the officers. No 
one intimates that Norton is 'playing oflf.' No one intimates 
but that you did your duty and your whole duty. On the 
contrary, many are of the opinion, and among them your 
humble servant, that it would have been better for you if 
you had left your post sooner. You ought to have done it, 
and yet I know very well how you felt. I know one is loth 
to leave his command during active operations, and is per- 
haps as unwilling to trust his judgment then as under any 


imaginable circumstances. 1 have no doubt you felt unfit for 
dutv lon<^ before you left it. Norton reasoning with Norton, 
thought himself sick, but declared he wouldn't be sick. Felt 
that he ought to be excused, but resolved not to be excused." 

The captain is nearly or quite right in that last remark. 
Still, where so many "play off," a man's character is worth 
a good deal, and I am not very sorry I did not give up im- 
mediately, though it might have been better for my health. 
I think I am on the gain slowly. 

I was writing to H. on the miorning of the 7th, when I 
had an interruption. It came in the shape of one of Uncle 
Samuel's rebellion smashers, called for short "E." He was 
on his w^ay home, and while the boat stopped at the fort for 
coal he came up here to see me. I was "tolable" glad to 
see him. He looked quite like a ''vet." — a little thin and 
very dirty, perfectly soldierly. He says Phillips will give 
him $600 a year to come back in his store, and it's mv opin- 
ion he will accept that as quickly as the good Lord and his 
parents will let him get to Toledo. If P. backs out he 
won't lack employment. Barker, of Ketchum & Barker, 
spoke to him of coming into his store again, but I think Mr. 
P. will be glad to get him. 

Chesapeake Hospital 
September 28, 1864. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

I am getting some better, not much, but some, and I am 
going to the front soon now. I have stopped taking medi- 
cine and attribute my gain to that. The last prescription 
was soap pills. ( ?) Think of that ! "Throw physic to the 
devil." "Overhaul your catechism for that," my dear, "and 
when found, make a note on." I did, and my "promise to 
pay" relates to my hospital bill and my respects to our new 
colonel. I took only one of the "soap pills." It started me. 

Another motive to hasten my return is the prospect of 
a horse to ride. There have been several promotions lately 
among the "straps" "of ours," including the quartermaster 
and adjutant to captains. Both the desks are vacant and 


my chance for one of them is good, better if I'm there to 
take it. 

You will be glad to hear that 1 have a horse, when I 
do. So will I. I prefer the adjutant's, but will not decline 
the quartermaster's. The pay is $io better, promotion from 
the line to the staff. Both are First Lieutenants. 

I have just come back from a trip to Norfolk. I left at 
9 o'clock yesterday on the Baltimore boat. Arrived at 
10:30. I rambled round the town some till I got tired. The 
main street reminded me of Canal street, New^ York. Do 
you remember how that looks, crossing: the others oblique- 
ly? It used to be quite a town. Intensely secesh, it shows 
the fruits of rebellion. 

In the evening I attended the theater to see "Faust and 
Marguerite," a German drama. Do you know the story? 
How the old philosopher, Faust, sold himself to the devil 
for a new lease of youth ? Mephistopheles gave him youth, 
beauty and riches, and assisted him to win and ruin Mar- 
guerite, an orphan, and finally claimed him as his own. It 
was tolerably played. The devil was on hand in person 
pretty much of the time and played some queer tricks. At 
the finale, he seized Faust with a horrible leer and descended 
into the pit amidst lurid flames and smoke, while Marguerite 
was borne aloft on angels' wings. I send you the picture — 
a black impression. The scenery was beautiful, but the 
angels traveled by jerks. The machinery was a little out 
of order, and instead of sailing grandly through the heav- 
ens, they went up like a barrel of flour into a storehouse. 

Coming back I saw the captured rebel ram, Atlanta. 
She looks like a vast turtle on the water. 

Jones' Landing, Va., 
Sunday, October g, 1864. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

You will be glad to know that I am out of the hospital. 
My adventures in getting away ought to form a chapter 
in the secret history of the war, that the people may know 
how rascality flourishes in high places. They were making 
about fifty cents a day out of me, and of course did not want 


me to leave, and I was a full week in settling up. First, my 
bill must be paid, but when I applied for the papers to en- 
able me to get my pay, they put me off with trivial ex- 
cuses time after time, till at last I got my "back up" and 
told the surgeon that if my papers were not forthcoming by 
the next morning (Wednesday) 1 would desert to my 
regiment, report to General Butler, and learn why an officer 
must be detained after he wished to join his command. I 
went back to my room and in five minutes after, an orderly 
appeared with my papers all ready and signed. 

Wednesday I started for the front, reached the regi- 
ment at noon of Thursday. Found them occupying a line 
of works about five miles from Richmond on the left of the 
Tenth Corps. They seemed very glad to see me. The 
regiment is very short of officers. Three were wounded in 
the battle of the 29th, Captains Cooper and Richardson 
(late Adjutant) and Lieutenant Cone. He, poor fellow, lost 
his leg. I found Lieutenant Evans in the adjutant's place. 
Had I been two days earlier, I would have had it, but now 
I have something full as good while it lasts, of which more 

The accession of several new regiments of colored 
troops to our division made the formation of a new brigade 
necessary, and it was made of the Eighth and Forty-fifth 
United States and Twenty-ninth Connecticut Colored 
Troops. Colonel Ulysses Doubleday of the Forty-fifth 
commands. Burrows, our regimental quartermaster, was 
appointed quartermaster of the brigade, and yours truly was 
selected to fill the vacancy made by the promotion of Bur- 
rows, and now I am Acting R. Q. M. of the Eighth United 
States Colored Troops. These capitals I suppose are unin- 
telligible to you and I will tell you about them. R. Q. M. 
is Regimental Quartermaster. His duties are to supply the 
regiment with rations, forage and clothing, take charge of 
the officers' baggage and attend to the transportation for the 
regiment. Of course he is mounted, a fine thing for me, 
and a fine thing for my friends is that a quartermaster is not 
a fighting man. His duties faithfully done are as necessary 
to success as those of any branch of the service, but they are 


not dangerous and he does not receive the credit for it that a 
fighting man does. I have had a good share of duty in the 
line and can afford to let some one else win the glory now 
while I take it easy. 

It will be a relief to you to think you can read the lists 
of casualties after a battle without the dread of seeing my 
name among the killed or wounded. I mean to master 
every detail of the business if I remain in it any time. You 
will notice that I am only "Acting" quartermaster. Burrows 
still holds his appointment of R. Q. M., but is acting in his 
new capacity. I cannot get the appointment of R. Q. M. 
till he vacates it by promotion or otherwise, but while acting 
I have all the privileges and immunities of a full quarter- 
master. One of the former is being nine miles in rear of 
danger, seated in my tent by a good fire — a big thing on 
such a day as this. 

Jones' Landing, Va., 
October ly, 1864. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

I am just as busy as I can be all the time now ; not much 
time to write letters. The trains are some nine miles in rear 
and I have to go to the front almost every day. I have no 
clerk and have all the office business to do myself, which is 
no light job. 

I am happy to say my health is first rate now. Riding 
and exercise seem to agree with me. 

Since I wrote you last we have had another battle and 
more loss in the regiment. Forty-seven men and four of- 
ficers are the casualties, and the saddest part of all to me is 
that Captain Dickey is among the killed. I spent an hour 
during the fight on the very spot where he was struck. I 
had no business there, but I did not consider it dangerous, 
and I wanted to see how the fight was going. Soon after 
I left, while the regiment was being relieved, a shot passed 
right through the captain's head. He continued to breathe 
for thirty-six hours, but was unconscious all the time. I 
took his body to the embalmer's and to-day have been down 


to send it to his mother. His clcatli is tlic saddest loss I 
have known in the army. He was ahnost a brother to me, 
and was beloved and respected by all who knew him. His 
loss to the regiment is irreparable. Another of our best 
captains was wounded, mortally, I fear. Another lost his 
left arm and will probably never come back. We have less 
than one officer to a company now, and when we came out 
we had three. 

Deep Bottom, Va., 
October 22, 1864. 

My Dear Sister L. : — 

You are the most faithful correspondent I have, but your 
letters are as unfortunate in their travels as any that start 
me-w^ard. Your detained letter of the 2d, wdth P. S. of the 
14th, arrived last night. It found me making myself com- 
fortable. Do you remember the extract from the "C. S. 
Catechism," in which it was laid down as the first duty of a 
quartermaster to make himself comfortable, and the second 
was like unto it only more so? I have my wall tent nicely 
floored and a jolly fireplace in it. my bed and mattress 
with sheets and blankets, my arm chairs and my desk. Bur- 
rows, the brigade quartermaster, with whom I mess, goes a 
step ahead of me. He has his floor nicely carpeted and a rug 
before the fireplace. 

You have often wished to send me something good, and 
I have concluded to give you the opportunity. If you have 
a pair of sheets that are rather old and not too much so, 
they would just suit me to a T. These I am using now 
belong to our surgeon, who is home on furlough, but he 
will want them when he returns. I am in a position where 
I can carry a few such things now, and I think it will pay 
to have them, but do not go to sending me a pair of new 
sheets now. Then, if you are running over with dried ber- 
ries, etc., if you could stow in a few of them in a little 
box beside the sheets, it would help me to make a nice sup- 
per several times. I hope you won't do as some people do 


who send boxes to the army — put in a lot of sweet cake 
that will spoil before the box is delivered — and don't send 
me any peaches. I am cloyed on peaches, and as soon as 
I get over it there are plenty here that I can get. I have 
so little doubt that you will send it that I will tell you how 
to direct it — Lieutenant O. W. Norton, Eighth United 
States Colored Troops, Third Division, Tenth Army Corps. 
Bermuda Hundred, Va. The charges will have to be pre- 
paid and I will send you the money when you let me know 
the amount. 

Your letter was the first mtimation I had had of Con- 
way's death. I received one from Alf at the same time and 
one from Lucretia. She spoke of it as though she supposed 
I knew it. What a shame it is that Charhe B. could allow 
himself to get drunk under such circumstances ! 

You may have noticed often in my letters that I have 
spoken of my captain as a good man. He was killed in 
the engagement on the Darby Road, on the 13th, shot 
through the head. I had spent more than an hour with him 
on the very spot where he was killed, and had but just left 
him when a ball came along and struck him down. He was 
the best friend I had in the army and was almost a brother 
to me. I had only known him since last fall, but there 
was time to learn to love him. I am not accustomed to 
weep at the sight of death, but I shed some tears over his 
body. He was a widow's only son, and it will be a ter- 
rible blow to her. I had the body embalmed and sent to 
her, the officers paying the expense. We had four officers 
- lost then, or lost to us for the present. One captain lost 
an arm, another wounded in the abdomen, a lieutenant in 
the hand, and Captain Dickey killed. 

There is a captaincy waiting for me in the regiment,' 
but the idea of stepping into a dead man's shoes is not 
pleasant to me. U my health would permit of my roughing 
It as I used to do, I would accept it, though, but as it is I 
shall hesitate some before doing so. I have some hopes of 
gettmg Alf Ayres into the regiment as second lieutenant. I 
think he has served in the ranks long enough to deserve pro- 


C/iapin's Farm, Va., 
November p, 1S64. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

Aly position in the quartermaster's department does not 
afford the leisure I used to have when my business was to 
blow "Dan ! Dan ! Butterfield," or even when I was in the 
company with the captain there. There is forage to haul 
and rations to issue. The colonel wants me to go to Ber- 
muda Hundred for axes ; the colonel wants logs hauled to 
build him a house, and he wants this and that, and the status 
of the poor quartermaster may be graphically described 
as *'on the bob" from morning till night, and his letter writ- 
ing must be put in edge-wise to all this work. 

My experience is that there is a difference between navi- 
gating a ship on the ocean and guiding a mule team through 
Virginia woods and over Virginia roads, and the difference 
is in favor of the ship. There is a significance in the 
"Ya-a-a-e mool" and "Now git" of the American teamsters 
of African descent, that to a novice is unintelligible, but the 
animals with the ears seem to understand the animals with 
the gum and ivory, and from the mutual understanding re- 
sults much good to the animals with the muskets. 

I have a very limited idea of what is going on over at 
the Weldon railroad, but in this part of- the army every- 
body is going into winter quarters. To be sure they are 
under the old orders to be ready to move at a moment's no- 
tice, and line of battle is formed every morning an hour 
before light, but log houses continue to grow like mush- 
rooms on a damp night. Generals and ''two rows of but- 
tons" generally are demolishing the residences of the "¥. 
F. Vs." and working them in with logs into cozy quarters. 
There is no certainty of their being occupied any length of 
time, but there is a possibility of it, and so they are built. 
Lieutenant Burrows and myself have been putting up a log 
stable for the brigade teams one hundred and eighty feet 
long, with two wings of forty feet each. It would not be 
considered in Broadway an imposing edifice, but it will im- 
pose an amount of comfort on the poor mules that they 


never dreamed of in connection with their fate in the army 
as "means of transportation." \ 

My health is not what it used to be. I am not sick abed] 
any of the time, but I feel weak and lack energ>\ Any un- 
usual exertion tires me out. My stay in the hospital did noil 
seem to do me much good. 

To-day I suppose there is almost as much excitement as 
yesterday. The returns from elections will be known, and 
at telegraph stations they will have the news— of Abraham's 
election. We believe it here, but it will be vastly consola- 
tory to have our belief confirmed. 

I may have mentioned to you that I was trying to get 
Alf Ayres into the Eighth as second lieutenant. If he is 
as competent as I think he is, I could get him appointed on 
sight, if he could only come over and see our colonel. The 
colonel's recommendation would secure his promotion, and 
I would like to see him in the regiment. 

Chapin's Farm, Va., 
November ii, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

This afternoon I rode down to see Lieutenant Ellinwood, 
Nineteenth Wisconsin, a cousin of Captain Dickey's. He 
was out in charge of the picket line, so I galloped out there, 
and as I pulled up at a squad by the roadside a man just a 
little way ahead sung out, "Take that horse back." The 
lieutenant got up from beside a stump and I asked him if 
that was an outpost of his. "That is a Johnnv," said he, 
''here is my line." I sent that horse back.' The'reb did not 
shoot, but I did not want to give him too big a temptation. 
He was so near I could hit him with a stone, but he seemed - 
very peaceably disposed. 

I am not yet able to say that Alf Ayres is second lieu- 
tenant of the Eighth, but I hope to be able to do so in my 
next. I think all that is necessary is for him to come over 
and see our colonel in order to be recommended, which 
amounts to success. 

I am running the quartermaster's department of the 


Eighth very much to my satisfaction and so far as I know 
to that of the others. 

My health continues so-so, able to be around all the 

Chapin's Farm, Va., 
Sunday Eve., Nov. 21, 1864. 
My Dear Sister L. :— 

I have been pretty busy the past week in getting my new 
house done in addition to my other duties, and to-day I have 
just moved in. I could not get my "details" to-day, being 
Sunday, so I had to turn to myself and put the floor in 
this morning. Perhaps you think it bending the Sabbath 
to build while I should be at church, but I cannot see it 
in just that light. The colonel burned up his tent the other 
day and to-morrow we have a new major coming and I 
have to give up my tent to him, so I made the excuse of 
necessity, rolled up my sleeves and finished my house so 
that I could occupy it, and moved in, and I am so com- 
fortable to-night ! I have a little the most gorgeous resi- 
dence I have had since I came to the army. It is about 
the size of your parlor, perhaps a little larger, with a can- 
vas roof which also serves for window, and then the beauty 
of it is the fireplace, a regular old-fashioned kitchen fire- 
place that I can have a group sitting around and enjoying 

To-night while I am writing Lieutenant Colonel Cooper, 
One hundred and seventh Ohio (Captain Cooper of the 
Eighth), is with me making out his returns preparatory to 
leaving for his new command, which, by the way, is down 
in Jacksonville, where we left them. They are supposed to 
be having a soft thing down there. 

I was just sitting down to dinner when a gentleman of 
color approached bearing in his arms a box which he de- 
sired me to accept and give him a "ceipt" for it, which I 
proceeded to do, and opening it I found the sheets and the 
fruits and the pickles, etc.. in the tip-toppest order. You 
sent just what I wanted, and you may congratulate yourself 
on having accomplished a feat that very few who send boxes 


to the army do. Almost every one sends something that 
will mold or sour and spoil the rest. I had not the least 
idea when I asked you to send me sheets that it was going 
to cause you much inconvenience. Shows how much I know 
of such things. You must thank Mrs. Ploss for me and 
remember that I did not think of sending to her for sheets. 

Did I write you that Williston Tyler was dead ? He died 
in Louisville, Ky., where he had gone to work for the Gov- 
ernment. Denny took the body home. I received a letter 
from him yesterday containing his photo. He looks just 
as he used to. Frank says she has heard from you after 
a long silence. 

I suppose you have heard about the Thanksgiving dinner 
sent to the army. Our part of the army did not get theirs 
till Friday, but it was good when it came — most of it. The 
"Field and Stafif" of the Eighth got two turkeys, one of 
which came into my mess, and a cake with a pretty name 
and Jersey City address and '"Tell me how you like my 
cake" on the bottom of it. I shall proceed to praise the 
cake (and it would bear praising) after finishing this. 

I have got your picture framed and hung up in my new 
house, and Ed's and Etta's and several others. 

C ha pin's Farm, Va., 
December y, 1864. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The move I spoke of has taken place. Our regiment 
moved only about forty rods, but enough to oblige them 
to leave all their nice log houses they had been so long 
building. We moved into the camp of the Fortieth Massa- 
chusetts, which was a much smaller regiment than ours, and 
there were not quarters enough for us. I do not move, as 
I am about as near the new camp as the old one, and could 
gain nothing by moving. 

Last night just as T got into a comfortable doze be- 
tween those sheets the brigade quartermaster came into my 
house and said : "Are you aware, young man, that we have 
orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice, teams har- 
nessed and ready to hitch up?" Well, I had not been 


aware of it, l)ut it did not take me ionc^ to become so. Then 
at midnight I had to get up and issue two days' rations to the 
regiment, and was up and down all night, so to-day I feel 
rather blue. It is lo o'clock and we have not moved yet 
and perhaps we may not, as it began to rain at daylight this 
morning and there is a prospect of its continuance. We 
have had most delightful weather lately, dreamy Indian sum- 
mer weather, but treacherous as the Indian. You cannot 
tell on one warm, bright, dry day that the next will not be 
cold, wet and awful for outdoor work. 

The "Corps d'Afrique" is organized and there are a 
thousand rumors. The Sixth and Nineteenth corps landed 
at City Point a day or two ago and some say they will re- 
lieve us and we be sent to Wilmington or Savannah or 
Florida, and others that the Dutch Gap canal is all done 
but blowing out the end, and that is to be done at once 
and a grand rush made for Richm.ond with '^Cuffee in ad- 
vance," so the rebs say, so altogether we are in a state of 
great uncertainty. 

My coming home is very doubtful. In fact I do not care 
to leave till I get my appointment as regimental quarter- 
master. I am only acting now, but our regimental quar- 
termaster expects promotion soon, and if some one else is 
acting when he gets it and I am off on leave, my chances for 
stepping into his shoes will not be so good as though I was 
here on hand. That is one reason. Another is that when 
he gets his promotion he will be absent for some time set- 
tling up his accounts as regimental quartermaster and I 
shall probably take his place as brigade quartermaster, and 
in the time I am acting I shall be showing if I am competent 
to be Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, which may come 
in due time. Perhaps you don't understand all this, but you 
know I am a little ambitious and you can understand that 
"Captain and Assistant Quartermaster' is parlance in Hi f aire 
for quartermaster of a brigade or division. 

Chapin's Farm, Ta., December i8, 1864. 
Dear Father: — 

A sentence in S's letter has troubled me considerably 


lately. He says, "Father is growing old fast. His hair is 
white as snow, and his old complaint, the diarrhea, is 
troubling him very much." Mother had written me that a 
very good physician there had entirely cured you of that 
and I was somewhat surprised to hear such news from him. 
Is this true? I wish you would write me freely about your 
health and condition, and prospects among your people. I 
had formed the opinion from the family letters, particularly 
Mother's, that you were getting along better there than 
ever before. I heard of some trouble about a house and of 
some political difficulties in the church, but I did not suppose 
these things were serious enough to wear upon your health 
as some old troubles have done. 

Do you make out to live upon your salary these hard 
times? The family is some smaller with L., E. and me 
away, and I should judge from reports that S. and C. 
earned nearly enough to feed and clothe themselves, but 
with everything you have to buy, at double the old rates, I 
cannot see how you manage. 

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am twenty-five years 
old. It is time I was a man if ever I am to be one, but 
there is much of the boy about me yet. Still I dread grow- 
ing old, and the years fly by all too swiftly. I begin to have 
that feeling already that I am too old for what I have accom- 
plished and I am looking forward anxiously to know what 
1 shall do when we have peace once more. Till that time 
my duty is plain, and I do not remember to have had at any 
time any other purpose than to remain in the army till peace 
is won, if my life is spared so long. Then comes the 
thought, what then? The war may last another year and I 
shall be twenty-six and be ready to start in life for myself, 
with no capital but a small stock of brains. Sometimes, 
when I think of these things, I wonder if I can have missed 
it in giving these four starting years to my country. There 
is Chapman, who was my class and roommate during my 
last term at school. We were then as nearly on a par in 
almost all respects as could be. Both sons of poor minis- 
ters with ourselves to depend on. He pursued the course 
I had marked out for myself, went down to Ohio teaching, 


and then to college, and he has worked his way into his 

senior year. He has spent three months in the army and 

we have maintained a correspondence all the time. Next 

year he will graduate and marry and settle down to law. 

He says he envies me my record of the past four years, but 

I rather think it is his friendly style of flattery, for he had as 

fair a chance to make that record as I. Now is he better 

\off than I ? My spirit would hardly brook the thought in 

/coming years that while other young men were giving their 

/time to their country I was giving mine to myself, and no 

/ doubt the man who has fought this war through will receive 

/ from the community all due honor, but honor is not going 

{ to support him, and what is, is a serious question. Another 

serious question is at what age can I marry? Very few 

young men set out with the intention to remain single and 

I am not among the few, but I have always thought I would 

not marry till I had something to support a wife on, either 

money, or money and educated brains. I have a horror of 

being the head of a poverty-stricken family. Now I have 

given up my hopes of a college education. It is too late, 

and my education must be such as I am getting now, and I 

am not sure but it is better so. Some hold the opinion that a 

young man can do better on the same means with a wife than 

without — that the right sort of wife is not an expense but 

a help to him. I want your opinion about that in my own 


C ha pin's Farm, Va., 
December 26, 1864. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

This will not reach you in time to present my respects 
in a "Merry Christmas," so I will wish you a "Happy New 
Year" and many returns of the season, and tell you how I 
spent my Christmas. There are so few Sundays in the army 
that the occurrence of the holiday on that day was no draw- 
back. The military part of the festivity was a Division 
Dress Parade and the social, or our social part was a din- 
ner at "Ye Quartermaster's." Lieutenant Burrows is a 
capital hand at carrying out anything of that kind and he 
determined to do the thing up right. 


We had two guests. Colonel Samuel C. Armstrong,* of 
the Eighth, and Lieutenant Colonel Alayer of the Forty- 
fifth, two men who would be considered acquisitions in 
almost any social circle. Colonel A. was born in the Sand- 
wich Islands and Colonel M. in Buenos Ayres, South 
America, and both are full of stories of adventure, travel 
and society. Mayer is the hero of half a dozen duels, which 
is not much of a recommendation, I know, but the custom 
of his country makes it a very different thing from dueling 

I will not undertake to describe our dinner in detail, but 
we had oyster soup, fish boiled, roast fowl (chicken) and 
mutton, potatoes, peas and tomatoes, oysters, fried and raw, 
and for dessert mince pie, fruit cake, apples, peaches, grapes, 
figs, raisins, nuts, etc., and coffee, and for wassail a rousing 
bowl of punch. The band of the regiment played in front 
of the house during dinner, and the leader says he played 
three hours. The long and short ci it is we had as elegant 
and recherche an aft'air as often comes off in the army, en- 
joyed ourselves thoroughly and nobody went home drunk. 

Do you know that since my last letter to you I have 
passed my twenty-fifth birthday ? And now I am beginning 
my twenty-sixth year. My years would indicate that I 
ought to be a man, but I must confess to much of the boy in 
my nature yet. To be sure I have grown some in strength 
of character since I was twenty-one, but I seem to be a 
long way off from the condition of a man in society. Do 
you think I will be married before I am thirty ? I don't see 
much prospect of it. I am twenty- five and not in love yet, 
and som.etimes T think it is the best thing that could have 
happened to me that I have been beyond the reach of temp- 
tation in that line, until I had strength of character enough 
to look at this matter as a man should. God willing, I mean 
to have a wife and a home, but when, is beyond my knowl- 

"^Nofe. — Founder of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. 
He was for more than thirty years at the head of this institution, 
which has done so much for the colored race. Booker T. Washing- 
ton was one of his pupils. 


I send you an excellent ])icture of my late captain. I 
send it to board only, for money would not induce me to part 
with it if I lost my others. I think you have a picture of 
Lieutenant Thos. Young, who is now captain of "K" Com- 

I have again been obliged to decline a captaincy, for the 
present at least. It is gratifying to me to have had it of- 
fered to me, but, in the present state of my health, I told 
the colonel I did not think I ought to accept it. I would 
rather be a cjuartermaster on duty than a sick captain. 



Chopin's Farm, Va., 

January 8, 186^. 

My Dear Father: — 

On New Year's my friend Richardson, late captain in 
the Eighth (resigned), arrived and put up with me. He 
is from Roscoe, 111., and has just come from home, where he 
had been to recover from wounds. He has resigned and 
come down to settle up his business, and we had many things 
to talk of while he was here, so that I had little time to 
write. When he left Lieutenant Burrows went with him 
"on leave" and I was appointed brigade quartermaster. 

The clothing for the brigade had just arrived and i 
had it all to issue. I suppose there was forty thousand dol- 
lars worth of it and it behooved me to be careful in my 
issue, for a small proportion of it unaccounted for would 
absorb the little four months' pay due me now. After at- 
tending to that I had the clothing to issue to my regiment, 
for as I do not expect to be brigade quartermaster perma- 
nently, I preferred doing the duties of both positions to turn- 
ing over my property. I got through it all in good shape ; 
did not lose anything. I have now over a hundred horses 
and mules to feed and a large train to care for, and that 
includes a deal of care, for in these roads shoes will get off 
the mules, and wagon tongues and axles will break and 
something needs attention constantly. I rather like the 
extra labor and responsibility. It gives me an opportunity 
to exercise all my powers, and it has always seemed to me 
before that I had not that. You will see, however, that I 
have not much time for writing, and excuse short letters on 
that account. 

I am very glad to know that S's statement of your health 
was too strong. I did feel quite anxious on that account. 


And you really are doing- better than 1 could expect. You 
support vour family on a deal less money than I support 
myself. I'm afraid I should find it hard to get so prudent 
a wife, or a wife who could make my money go as far as 
yours does. I am not spending much money now, I notice, 
for the excellent reason that T cannot get it to spend. 

I shall look for the remainder of what you have to say 
on the subject of my last letter in your next. I suppose you 
would laugh to hear us young fellows discuss this matter. 
Richardson. Burrows and i are about of an age, and very 
similarly situated, and we have been discussing the matter 
in all seriousness. 

Chapin's Farm, Va., 
Sunday, Jan. 15, 1865, midnight. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

My diary has ceased to be. It is now the middle of 
January, 1865, and I have made no entries in it since I left 
the hospital, and as I am about to send it to you lest it 
share the fate of my other diaries in the early part of the 
war, and in the hope that some of it may interest you, I 
can think of nothing better than to fill up a few more pages 
with some recollections, and records of the regiment, and of 

As you know from my letters, I reached the regiment 
on the 6th of October, having left the hospital before I was 
strong enough for duty in the line, with the expectation of 
being regimental adjutant. I found Lieutenant Evans 
already in the office, and while Major Wagner was deliber- 
ating whether it was best to return him to his company 
and make me adjutant. Lieutenant Burrows was made 
brigade quartermaster and the major at once detailed me 
to act as regimental quartermaster in his place, and "A. R. 
O. M." I have been ever since. 

The regiment was then lying in the works to the right 
of the rebel Fort Harrison, which was taken by our forces 
on the 29th of September, and the name since changed to 
Fort Burnham, in honor of Brigadier General Burnham, who 
was killed in the charge which captured the fort. 


On the 13th of October the reconnoissance on the Darby 
Road was made. As a miUtary success or a movement of 
importance in any respect, it is not worth mention, but it is 
a memorable day to me on account of the death of my dear- 
est and best army friend, Captain A. G. Dickey. 

The "Eighth" was deployed as skirmishers early in the 
morning and covered the front of the division. Three 
companies were held in reserve and Captain Dickey had 
command of those companies. I left my place at the train 
on learning that fighting was in progress and came up to 
the front to learn what was being done. I found the di- 
vision in a belt of woods facing a line of the enemy's works 
and the skirmish line pushed well up to those works. The 
reserve was a few rods in rear of the line and they had 
remained in that position some three hours. The skirmish- 
ers were pretty well concealed and kept up a desultory fire 
wherever they could see any of the enemy, and the rebels 
did the same. An occasional bullet cut through the bushes 
near the reserves, but I did not think it a place of par- 
ticular danger, or having no particular business I should 
not have been there. As it was I sat down on the ground 
by the captain and stayed two or three hours, and then 
thinking that not much more would be done that day and 
that I should have little enough time to get back to the train 
before night, I started to return. The captain said to me 
as I left, in that bantering style so common among soldiers, 
"Take care of yourself, Norton, this is no place for quar- 
termasters," and I retorted in similar style. It was the 
last word he ever spoke to me. 

That night as I sat in m}- tent, a lieutenant told me that 
one of our captains was killed, and on my mentioning their 
names he said it was Dickey. I could not believe it, but the 
next morning the news was confirmed. 

It was too true. Not ten minutes after I left, one of 
those occasional bullets had crashed through his brain. He 
lived, or breathed rather, for forty-eight hours after, but I 
could not go to see him. 

By and by they brought him to me — all that was left of 
my friend lay before me on a stretcher in an ambulance. 


Just after the battle of Olustee he had given me the ad- 
dress of his mother (he had no father) and his sister, and 
I had given him your address and my father's, and we 
promised each other that if anything occurred, (we expressed 
it in that way with the natural dread of speaking of death) 
that if anything occurred to one, and the other was spared 
he should write to our friends the sad news. The sad 
fulfilment of the promise was mine, and I took his body to 
the embalmer's and had it prepared and sent to his friends, 
as I knew he would have done for me under like circum- 
stances. It was all I could do, and now I sit and gaze on 
his picture and think of all his noble, manly, generous quali- 
ties and I know how his mother and his sister must mourn 
for him, but our grrief can never return him to us. 

"The3% who the tasks of life took up so gladly 

And bore them onward with exultant palm, 
Now graveyard grasses wave above them sadly, 

Their still hands folded to a changeless calm. 

Gone ! Gone ! The gay leaves twinkle in the summer shining, 

The light winds whisper o'er the grassy lea, 
And song and fragrance gentle links are twining, 

But oh ! beloved and lost ones, where are ye?" 

Well, dear sister, I send you my diary, such as it is. 

There will be much of it that you cannot understand and 

much that would not interest you if you could. There are 

many references to persons who are strange to you, and 

■; but very little of any part will pay you for the reading. To 

, me, I have a fancy that it will be very interesting in after 

, years. It will recall to me scenes and incidents that with- 

j put it I should have forgotten. I have kept it in a careless, 

^ 'desultory manner, and with no expectation that it would 

interest any but myself. Indeed a diary would be more 

appropriately named an 'T-ary," for there is little else but 'T" 

in it. Still, if you find any amusement or enjoyment in it, 

it will be an additional source of pleasure to me. I ask you 

to keep it for me, and perhaps at some future time we may 

look it over together and pass a pleasant hour in so doing. 


Chapin's Farm, Va., 
January ip, i86j. 
yiy Dear Sister L. : — 

I have not much news to write. It seems to me my letters 
must have changed in their character, as I have in my habits 
of thought since the early part of the war. I remember how 
I used to write elaborate descriptions of reviews and parades, 
marches and incidents of camp life. I seldom do this now. 
These things have come to be a part of my everyday life and 
have lost the charm of novelty. Not entirely so, either. I 
found myself the other day at a division drill dashing here 
and there in the capacity of staff officer with orders from 
the brigade commander, and I reniember well, when I was 
in the ranks with a musket, how great a thing it seemed to 
be on the staff. Ah, well, such is life. 

Chapin's Farm, Va., 
February 12, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — • 

You seem to be having a very severe winter. All the 
soldiers who have been home say, with a shrug of the 
shoulders, "It is terribly cold up there." It is cold enough 
here. To-day the wind almost takes the roof off my house. 
It is, however, the most windy day we have had. 

Military operations just here are pretty quiet, though 
they have been moving on the extreme left of the Army of 
the Potomac. The Eighty-third was engaged, I see, and 
Alf's regiment. 

Lee tried a most brilliant dodge a week or two ago. 
We were such fools that we did not see our danger till the 
papers told us of it. I make a little "plan" of it. {Sketch 
omitted. ) Lee sent a force estimated at 20,000 down to the 
right of our line, and when they were all ready sent the 
gun boats to run by Fort Brady and go clown and break our 
pontoon bridges and thus cut us off, and when this was done 
the 20,000 was to break through our line on the right and 
gobble us all up. It was an excellent plan. The gun boats 
succeeded in getting by the fort and then got stuck in the 


nuid. One of them was blown np and the others were glad 
enough to get back safely. They supposed that our boats 
had all gone to Wilmington, and they were pretty near 
right, but we upon the line did not know that, and the whole 
thing was a mystery to us, and it proved a failure. My 
little rough plan will give you some idea of our position 
here. Our division is on the right of the corps and just 
after the C. in "25th C' I have marked an X. That is 
the camp of the Eighth, and just across the creek south- 
west from the 2, in "24th C." is another X. That is the 
location of mv domicile. 

Chapin's Farm, J'a., 
February ly, 186^. 

Dear Father: — 

The war seems to be moving on with irresistible gran- 
deur. Its progress is like the motions of the planets — 
almost imperceptible, but steady and sure. We see it more 
by its results than anything else. Who can tell when this 
nation determined to uproot the cause of our troubles ? We 
know they had not so determined two years ago, and now 
we know they have passed the point of that determination. 
The power that opposes us is just as steadily crumbling 
away. One by one, its cities, its arsenals, its railroads, its 
armies are slipping from its grasp. Its approach to the 
"last ditch" is steady, and by and by it will be tumbled 
in, and when the bells of peace ring out over the land their 
wild, glad notes, w^e shall have thrown the last spadeful of 
earth on the bloody carcasses of slavery, aristocracy of color, 
state rights, and all the demons of that ilk that have trou- 
bled us so long. 
\ This is a glorious age. There is something grand in 
I the way Honest Old Abe is steering the ship of state 
through the breakers of the revolution. He may be a very 
common man now, but school boys to come will revere 
him as at least the step-father of his country. 


Chopin's Farm, Va., 
February 2^, 1865. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

Yesterday I issued clothing and I have had no time till 
to-night to post up my books. Just as I finished, the order 
came to break camp and prepare to march in heavy march- 
ing order, which little phrase means — prepare to leave your 
snug quarters, take up your bed (and any other little mat- 
ters you ever expect to see again) and walk — seek a new 
home in the field. Well, of course, I went to work and in 
two hours I had my wagons loaded, and soon after the 
regiment marched out. The wagons parked behind the sta- 
bles to wait orders, and at midnight the teams were un- 
hitched and I turned in on the floor of my house. The 
troops marched a mile and bivouacked in the field, and all 
night it rained. This morning the doubts about the destma- 
tion were solved by an order to occupy the camp vacated 
by Russell's brigade, about two miles to the left of our old 
camp. I did not move my quarters and shall not for the 
present. So much for so much. 

But, oh! Glory, Hallelujah! What news! Victory! Vic- 
tory ! ! and without the long lists of killed and wounded. 
Sherman captures the capital of South Carolina. Charles- 
ton is ours, and the identical old flag floats again over Sum- 
ter. Fisher, Anderson and Wilmington are ours, and now 
to-night Petersburg is evacuated and Grant holds the South 
Side railroad. That seems too good to be true, but it is 
sent as "official" by General Weitzel.''' Do you know that 
means Richmond will be evacuated? Perhaps I shall be in 
Richmond before I write again. Lee would not have aban- 
doned that line till he was driven from it unless he meant 
to leave Richmond. He may be intending to gobble the 
Army of the James, but I think he has gone to meet Sher- 
man. Well, perhaps he may meet him more and sooner than 
he wishes. 

'■^Note. — Error. General Weitzel's bulletin was inaccurate. 
Charleston was evacuated with Sherman's army many miles distant. 
Petersburg was not abandoned nor the old flag raised over Sumter 
until some time later. 


Baltimore, Md., 
April /5, i86j. 
Dear Brother and Sister : — 

I am only so far on my wav as yet, and take the oppor- 
tunity afforded by my detention till this afternoon to drop 
yon a line. I bouo^ht my ticket to Philadelphia, via Elmira, 
and arriving;- at Elmira found I could not e:et throui^h that 
way. I return the ticket to you, Charlie. It was nothing less 
than a swindle to sell it to me. Take it back to the office there 
and demand the fare from Elmira to Philadelphia. They 
are obliged to take it up, as they knew that no trains had run 
over that road for two weeks. 

I went to New York, stopped over night, got my pic- 
tures and went on to Philadelphia. Stopped there to get 
my pay for March and went up to Camp William Penn. 
Came on here yesterday and leave for Richmond this after- 

The news of Lee's surrender is true. Better than all 
my hopes was the prospect of the end of the war. It was 
ended on the 9th and every one admitted it. New York, 
Philadelphia and Baltimore were jubilant. Joy on every 
face and tongue. I could not see or hear of a secession 
sympathizer. At the theater last night a band from Lee's 
army was present and played "Hail Columbia" and the 
"Red, White and Blue," and here in Baltimore those tunes 
were vociferously cheered. I went to bed happy, thinking 
of the glorious change, and came down this morning to be 
astounded by the news that President Lincoln was assass- 
inated last night at Ford's Theater m Washington and Sec- 
retary Seward and his son were stabbed at almost the same 
hour. The Secretary will perhaps recover, but his son can- 
not live. The President was shot through the head by a 
man who entered his private box from behind, shot him 
and then leaped upon the stage brandishing a dagger and 
disappeared behind the scenes, escaping at the back of the 
theater before the audience knew what had occurred. The 
President died at 7 122 this morning. 

It is too terrible to think of, and I cannot imagine the 
consequences. We could have spared him better at almost 


any other time. What can we do with such a President as 
Andy Johnson ? What effect will it have on the question of 
peace ? 

Well, we can do nothing but wait. The nation's joy is 
changed to mourning and to mutterings of vengeance on the 
cowardly assassins and the infamous plotters who arranged 
the murders. J. W. Booth, the actor, is said to be the 
assassin of the President, and it is hoped he will be arrested 

Spotsivood Hotel, Richmond, Va., 

April ip, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

Long ago I promised to write you from Virginia's capi- 
tal, Richmond, and here is the fulfillment of my promise, 
though it can be but a few words. My regiment is at Pet- 
ersburg and I go there this afternoon. 

I have been all through Libby and its filthy horrors, 
through the Capitol building, been to see Jeff Davis' 
house, but General Ord and family are occupying it and I 
could not get in. I have seen Belle Isle and all the other 
places of public interest. 

Relics are scarce. I can only send you a picture of 
Stonewall Jackson, which I bought of the artist who took 
it. Good-bye. Write me soon to my army address. 

Spotszvood Hotel, Richmond, Va., 

April ip, 1865. 
My Dear Father:— 

To-day completes the fourth year of my efforts to reach 
Richmond, and I am here. You will have heard that I 
started for home the 23d of March, but I could not enjoy 
my visit while such glorious events were in progress, and 
as soon as I knew that Richmond was ours I came back, 
hoping to come home to stay in a short time. I arrived here 
yesterday and go to Petersburg to join my regiment this 
afternoon, when I will write you more at length. 

I found the Libby prison in charge of an old friend of 


mine, who gave me every facility for exploring its horrors. 
I visited Jeff Davis' house (outside). General Ord and 
family occupy it. I went through the Capitol and have vis- 
ited the principal places of interest. Relics are scarce. I 
send a picture of Jeff Davis, which I bought of the artist. 

Lighthouse Point, James River, Va., 
Sunday, May y, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

The regiment moved a short distance the morning after 
my arrival, but far enough to break up everything, and with 
the expectation of remaining there some time we began pre- 
paring camp for permanent quarters, and I drew and issued 
a larger amount of clothing than I had ever issued at one 
time before. This and my share in fixing camp occupied my 
time and I had just got through and began to think of writ- 
ing some letters when marching orders came. We moved 
early on Wednesday morning, passmg through Petersburg, 
and were detained in town (the trams were) a long time by 
the passing of the Fifth Corps on its way home. I sat on 
my horse and watched them pass and it was one of the hap- 
piest days I've seen in the army. 

I saw Colonel Rogers of the Eighty-ihird first in the 
morning. He told me they were coming and aft'T a while 
I met in the street Milo, my old chum, who is still carry- 
ing the mail, and by and by the regiment came along. I 
should never have known it for the same regiment. Not a 
dozen of the old men who were in the ranks when I left 
remained, but there were a few and that few greeted me 
joyfully. The old "Charlie" I used to ride was at head- 
quarters yet, and not killed, as I heard. 

They would not believe they had started for home, 
but knew they were going to Richmond, and now they 
know they are going home, marching overland to Wash- 
ington, over the roads they have marched before so many 
weary days. 

My faith was too weak when I left you to believe the 
rebellion could so utterly collapse in one short month. 
Sherman's army has started for home. They are to march 


to Washington via Petersburg and Richmond. Two corps 
were left in North Carolina and two of the Army of the 
James are left here, the Twenty-fourth at Richmond and 
the Twenty-fifth Corps here. There are rumors already 
looking to the final disposition of the colored troops that 
I expected to be made. They will not be discharged till 
Congress has made some provision to incorporate a por- 
tion of them into the regular army. The men are to be 
re-enlisted, those who choose to do so, and the officers are 
to pass a far more rigid examination and receive com- 
missions in the regular anny. There are to be no 
more "U. S. C. T." but "U. S.'a." Twenty-four regiments 
of two thousand men each are to be organized — so says 
General Casey. 

Well, we may say the war is over — ''this cruel war is 
over." The joy of the nation is tempered by its grief at 
the base assassination of the President, but we can console 
ourselves by the thought that he had accomplished his work. 
His murderer is also dead, and Jefif Davis, the instigator 
of the fearful deed, is fleeing from the wrath to come — 
proclaimed an outlaw and $100,000 offered for his head. 

From home I have bad news. Mother has been sick 
some time and Father is afloat again. It is too sad to think 
of, but its frequent recurrence has made it seem almost a 
thing of course. The saddest part of all is that his trouble 
in the church was caused by copperheads who hated his 
war preaching. Aly indignation at that has no bounds. I 
cannot say I am astonished. A copperhead is fit for any 
meanness this side of hell. If there is a hell they are on 
the road to it, and the sooner they arrive at their journey's 
end the better it will suit me. They had better leave or 
turn strong war men before that old Army of the Potomac- 
gets north, for, my word for it, those old veterans I saw 
marching through Petersburg the other day will not listen 
quietly to any of their balderdash. I can listen with a 
quiet smile to the sad story of a rebel soldier who has fought 
bravely through the war for a bad cause and acknowledges 
himself beaten. That is punishment enough for him, but for 
the villain at home too cowardly to fight for the cause he 


helped with his tong^ue and influence, I have only infinite 
scorn and loathint^. 1 curse him from the bottom of my 
heart. Earth is too good for him and hell is full of just such 

Well, my sheet is full and I must close. Write to me 
soon — same address. 

Camp Lincoln, Va., 

May i6, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

"Camp Lincoln" is the camp of the corps at Lighthouse 
or Jordan's Point and vicinity, and it is becoming the 
"A Xo. i" of camps. Matters are arranged a la regulars 
and we are becoming regulars as fast as possible. Cannot 
tell whether we will be discharged this summer or not — most 
likely "or not." Every man has a scheme of his own for 
disposing of us. and they will all hold good till Congress 
meets and takes the matter into consideration. 

Jeff Davis is captured. The country doesn't seem to 
get much excited about that, but I have my own jubilee. 
I never expected it, but I am most happily disappointed, 
and if the villain doesn't stretch hemp, I shall be disappointed 
less happily. 

I send you to board a photo of my quartermaster-ser- 
geant James Duty. The cap rather spoils the face, but it 
is not a bad picture. How's that for a "naygur" ? 

I had straw^berries and cream for dinner with a late 
secesh maiden — how's that, too? 

I have been busy and am not done yet in fixing our 
headquarters. I send you a plan. How do you like it ? 

It is my plan and my execution. The colonel's tent 
faces up tlie avenue, and the others in tow^ard the center. 
The court inside is all to be covered w^ith a shade or booth 
of pine boughs. The "O O" at the rear corners are serv- 
ant's quarters. Well, it is midnight and I must wind up. 
Write to me soon. Camp is all right but won't write. Tell 
his mother. 


Steamer Warrior, James River, Va., 

Monday, May 2^, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I take the opportunity before we get beyond the reach 
of mails to drop you a note to say "good-bye, I'm off." 

The last of the second division sailed on Friday to 
rendezvous in Hampton Roads, and I was left behind in 
charge of the transportation and private horses of my 
brigade. It was the hardest job by far of the whole em- 
barkation, but they are all on board and I am on my way 
to Texas or elsewhere. 

The Warrior is one of the largest ships of the fleet — 
carries three hundred horses and mules and one hundred 
army wagons, and being the senior officer on board I shall 
command the ship during the voyage — that is, the military 
part of it. Of course the captain sails his own vessel. 

U. S. Steamer Illinois, off Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, 

Thursday, June 8, i86j. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I've just time to write a line to sa}^ we are so far on 
cur voyage in safety. I was transferred from the Warrior 
the day we started. Had a lovely trip — couldn't be better. 
Shall disembark here to clean the ship — and coal and water 
again — and then — ho ! for Texas or elsewhere. 

U. S. Steamer Illinois, off Ft. Morgan, Mobile Bay, 

Thursday, June 8, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I wrote you a line this afternoon just in time to get 
it off by the New Orleans boat. I could not write much 
in the few minutes of time I had before the boat left, 
and so to-night I will write a little more extended account 
of our voyage. 

I wrote you from the W'arrior expecting to go down 
in her, but on arriving at Fortress Monroe, the general 
concluded he couldn't dispense whh my company, and or- 
dered me to the Illinois. I was not sorry to make the 


chanf^e, as my rci^imcnt was there with the general and 
staff, and the IlHnois is a floating palace. 

I spent a day in Norfolk and then removed my traps 
to the Illinois, and on the 31st we weighed anchor and 
steamed out past Cape Henry lighthouse and off to sea. 
The next morning we w^ere out of sight of land, and 
steaming southeast to cross the Gulf Stream ; our ship drew 
nineteen feet of water, and we could not go next the coast, 
so as it would not pay to go against the current all the 
way, we were forced to go outside. The time passed mer- 
rily away. A few were sick enough to make amusement 
for the others, but none enough to be thoroughly wretched. 
We had plenty of books, and in the evening we gathered in 
the spacious saloon and had whist parties and quartettes 
of euchre or old sledge, and such like abominations. 

On Sunday morning we came to the Bahama Banks, 
where the waters changed from their indigo blue color to 
azure, light green, purple and almost all the colors of the 
rainbow. The water was so cleai we could see the bot- 
tom at thirty feet, and the finny monsters were disporting 
themselves regardless of the curious eyes that looked at 
them for the first time. At noon Memory Rock rose in 
bold relief against the horizon, lone, stern and grim, a 
sentinel of the sea. In the afternoon we passed the Ba- 
hamas, a line of long, low, sandy islands, uninhabited ex- 
cept by a few^ wreckers, and not very inviting situations 
for a cottage by the sea. But at dark we saw the cottage 
by the sea, indeed. It was a little hut on a lonely rock, 
where dwells the keeper of the Isaac Island Light, an 
English lighthouse. He has a spice of solitude, he has. 
State's prison is nothing to it. I mused on the pleasures 
of solitude, as I watched his lonely light flash and fade in 
the darkness, and I concluded that it must be very sweet to 
have someone to whom you can say — "how sweet is soli- 

On Tuesday we sighted, away off in the dim distance, 
the heights of Cuba, and that afternoon passed the Florida 
Keys and the Dry Tortugas. The last is the penitentiary 


of the army, where mutinous and other desperate crimi- 
nals have been sent. It rises Hke a great castle in the sea, 
and is a lonely place enough. 

This afternoon we sighted the land off Mobile Bay, 
and at three o'clock we dropped anchor off Fort Morgan, 
and now I am writing on deck, with my portfolio on my 
knee, and the scene of the greatest naval battle of the 
world spread out before me. Within a stone's throw, I can 
see the ripple in the current which marks the spot where the 
ill-fated Tecumseh went down, right under the guns of 
Fort Morgan, and a little to the left the ribs of the rebel 
ram are rising above the water. Here the ''gallant, grim 
old Admiral," ran the gauntlet of the terrible batteries. 
My words are too tame — I will not attempt to describe it. 
Read "Our Battle Laureate" in the April or May Atlantic, 
and you will get some idea of the inspiring scene. 

Well, the sun has disappeared in a blaze of glory be- 
hind Fort Gaines, and I must bring my letter to a close for 
want of light and room for more. 

To-morrow we disembark, and I hope before we re- 
embark to see how Mobile looks, but I m.ay not make it 
out. The rumor to-night is that we are to go to Brazos 
Santiago, at the mouth of the Rio Grande. 

U. S. Steamer 1 1 It no is, off Brazos de Santiago, Texas, 

Thursday, June ij, i86j. 
Dear Father: — 

I have a few minutes in which to write a continuation 
of my note from Mobile Bay. The Illinois returns to New 
York to-morrow, or sails for there via New Orleans, and 
I must send by her. 

We disembarked near Fort ^lorgan on Friday the 9th. 
Found on shore a family from Boston, with a piano and 
girls fond of music and dancing, and enjoyed ourselves 
immensely. Re-embarked the next morning and sailed at 
noon. Our trip across the Gulf had nothing of interest 
till on Tuesday morning we sighted land, the Isla del 
Padre, and at 9 o'clock anchored off Brazos. There are 
only nine feet of water on the bar, and as our ship draws 


nineteen, we could not i^et over and it has been too rough 
to transfer the men to a Hghter till to-day, when we got 
them off on a schooner, though it was a perilous job. I ex- 
pected to see at least one or two drowned, but they all got 
off in safety. I remain to unload the rations and stores, 
and seize the time the schooner is off to write my note. 

Our brigade is to remain with division headquarters at 
Brazos. One of the other brigades is at Corpus Christi 
and one at Indianola. Brazos is an island at the mouth 
of the Rio Grande. Seven miles down the coast on the 
other side is Bagdad in Mexico, where several thousand 
French and Imperialist Mexicans are camped. One of our 
regiments will guard the ford, and as soon as I can get 
time I am going across to see how they look. 

Brazos has not much to recommend it as a pleasant 
place to garrison, but we shall build barracks and live with- 
in ourselves and enjoy ourselves, I make no doubt. The 
worst feature is that we must use condensed water. I shall 
be busy for a time in fitting up, and in making up my 
papers, but I hope to have time to write some letters, and 
I hope some of you will write to me at least once a week. 
Change the address from Washington to New Orleans, but 
make no other changes. 

U. S. Steamer Illinois, oif Brazos de Santiago, Texas, 

Thursday, June 15, 1865. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

I wrote you last from Mobile Bay, just as we were 
about sailing. Our trip across the Gulf of Mexico had 
nothing of special interest till on Tuesday morning we 
sighted land, the island "Del Padre" or Father's Island, as 
we would say, and at 9 o'clock we dropped anchor at 

My letter from Fort Morgan left us expecting to dis- 
embark the next morning, and the entry in my diary for 
Friday, the 9th, is "Disembarked at Mary Cove, Mississippi 
Steamer Swaim. Sand-flies. in the surf. Roast 


pork at the Hotel de Lawrence. Soiree daiisaiite — min- 
strels — model artists — midnight orgies on the beach — school 

To you, that collection of disjointed phrases is sug- 
gestive of bedlam, I presume. To me it is suggestive of a 
day long to be remembered for its unique pleasures. "Missis- 
sippi Steamer Swaim" recalls the image of the craft that 
took us off the Illinois to the wharf at Mary Cove — a lum- 
bering awkward looking steamer, that could turn one wheel 
forward and the other back at the same time — that made 
a smoke suggestive of inferno — and that coughed like a 
consumptive Titan. "Sand-flies" is a compound word, and 
sand-flies themselves are a compound of all the disagree- 
able qualities of mosquitoes, fleas, lice, gnats and bedbugs. 
They are so small they are almost invisible till they bite, and 
it is no pleasure to kill them for they stand still to be killed 
with perfect equanimity, and for every one you kill ten more 
take his place. The only things to keep them away are mud 
and tobacco. We had a few of them at Mary Cove. 

"Swimming in the surf" recalls a pleasant two hours 
of sea bathing, when big waves combed over us, or tossed us 
high on the beach, and when the sharks kept at their proper 
distance, which we were afraid they wouldn't. 

"Roast pork at the Hotel de Lawrence" recalls our 
dinner. We had gone on shore expecting to starve, or live 
on salt air tUl the next day, but the adjutant and I with our 
usual inquisitive spirit, started on a prospecting tour, and 
catching a gHmpse of some "delaine" that did not look ex- 
actly like the "cracker" style, we ran alongside, took a reef 
in our topsails, saluted, and invited ourselves to dinner in 
an insinuating way. Of course, ourselves included the 
colonel and major. We soon found that Mrs. Lawrence 
was a southern lady, the wife of an officer in our navy, who 
hailed from Boston, and that the lady and her two daugh- 
ters and niece had just come from Boston, where they had 
been living since the war began. That Mrs. L. had kept 
a hotel in Pensacola, appeared from her conversation. That 
she had kept a good one was evident from the dinner she 
got up for us. 


Soiree daiisaiitc recalls the eveniii.s^. Imai^ine our 
surprise in finding in that low cottage by the sea, half 
buried in the sand, a piano, and a girl who could play with 
taste and skill, one who had played on the great Boston 
organ. We found it ; we sent for our band after tea ; we 
sent for the violins and guitar from the string band, and 
our "choir" came too. We had music, songs and dancing. 
At the first squeak of the viol, the girls said it sounded 
familiar, which was a hint that could not be resisted by a 
soldier. The floor was cleared and a cotillion formed in a 
reasonable time. Once the spell was broken there was 
no stopping it till the "wee sma' hours." The tall form of the 
colonel, with his riding boots, went round and round the 
nuitcr-faniilias in stately Lancers or lively cjuadrille. Schot- 
tische and waltz pleased the daughters better, and we had 
a good time all round. 

"Midnight orgies on the beach" recalls the bath before 
the bed in the school house. We enjoyed that surf some 
after being cooped up on a ship for more than a week, 
and then we slept in a school house. The very idea was 
novel, but we were not in Virginia, and they do have some 
school houses in Alabama, I believe. 

Well, I have enlarged pretty well on that little page, 
but I have not written half those few disjointed words sug- 
gest to me. 

The Gulf is full of sharks and the fierce monsters have 
been following us ever since we left Mobile. Yesterday we 
caught one about thirteen feet long, and raised him out 
of the water, but he straightened the hook and got away. 

Last night at sunset we had a burial at sea. One of the 
men of Company F died and as it was impossible to land, 
and we could not keep the body, it was buried in the deep. 
The body was sewed up in a blanket and placed on a board 
on the guards of the ship, with heavy weights at the feet. 
The band played a dirge, the chaplain read the Episcopal 
service for burial at sea, and when he came to the words, 
"We commit his body to the deep," the plank was lifted 
and the body descended with a sullen plunge to the bottom 
of the ocean. 


Brazos de Santiago, Texas, 

June 2y, 1865. 

Dear Sister L. : — 

By this time you will think I should be able to give you 
something of a description of this strange country. If you 
look at a map of Texas you may see down at the mouth of 
the Rio Grande, the name of Brazos de Santiago, There is 
a little strip of sand about ten miles long, dignified by the 
name island, and on the northern end of the island is the 
village. The village is a row of small wooden houses put 
up by the government for store rooms and offices, with a 
few occupied by sutlers. 

There is a wharf and shipping. These form a very small 
part of the scenery — the rest is sand. There is not a spear 
of vegetation growing v/ithin sight of my tent. There is 
not a tree within fifteen miles. Just across the narrow 
strait is the Isla del Padre, another sand strip, seventy-five 
miles long. At the mouth of the strait is the bar and a 
dangerous one too. There is only about seven feet of water 
and the breakers roar and tumble over it so that at most 
times a small boat could not live ten minutes. The ships an- 
chor outside and are unloaded by little sloops called light- 
ers, which, with the Spanish names, Bonita, Dos Amigos, 
etc., and their Mejicanos crews are funny crafts. They 
rendezvoused here when cotton ran the blockade, and loaded 
and unloaded the ships, and now that their occupation is 
gone they come to Uncle Sam for employment. 

I told you, I think, that our regiment was ship-wrecked 
when they came ashore. It was only such a peril as one 
likes to tell of when it is past, for no one was lost. The 
schooner though, lies high and dry on the beach. We have 
had terrible times for water. There is none on the island 
fit to drink — all salt. Two condensers are in operation, but 
they would not begin to water all the troops. Our men 
have gone nine miles up to the Rio Grande after water 
and got back the same night, rolling barrels of water all 
the way. Just think of that for getting your water. It 
don't rain here; or we might get rainwater. Now that all 


the troops except our brigade have gone up the river we 
hope to get w^ater enough. 

The sun is terribly hot. At noon it is directly overhead 
and if it were not for the constant sea breeze we could not 
live. The wind commences to blow from the southeast 
every morning about nine o'clock and blows till nearly 
daylight next morning, so that in the shade of a tent it is 
quite comfortable. The hottest time of day is from sun- 
rise till nine o'clock when there is no breeze. About four 
p. m. it is comfortable walking and we go to bathe, keep- 
ing an eye out for sharks. 

You must be well on in the summer now, and it is almost 
the Fourth. What glorious celebrations there will be this 
year ! 

Many officers are sending in their resignations, but 
none of them in this corps are accepted. I think I shall 
stay through the summer pretty well contented and see 
what turns up then. 

July I, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I send you another "boarder." The time for distinction 
of color per se is past. The face you see is the counterfeit 
presentment of the ''American citizen of African descent," 
Jefferson Chisum Brown, called for short (or surnamed) 
Jefif. Mr. Brown belongs to a numerous and highly re- 
spected family. The fact that his name is not descriptive of 
his condition is not uncommon, or at all remarkable. Though 
he is Brown, he is also "black as the ace of spades." That 
is a camp simile, which you will not understand, but it means 
very black. Mr. Brown's former residence was Charles- 
ton, and he belonged to the aristocracy there. He came over 
from there with Robert Small on the Planter, and though 
his trip will be an event commemorated in history, Mr. 
Brown himself can claim little credit for it, because as he 
acknowledges — "he didn't know whar dey was a fotchin' 
him to." Mr. Brown is at present employed as a polisher 
of metal (cleans the sword) and an artist (handles the boot 
brush) under the auspices of my friend Burrows. 


Brazos de Santiago, Texas, 

July 8, 1865. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have written of our voyages, its pleasures, and the 
shipwreck at the end. I have told you the features of the 
country here, its lack of vegetation and its abundance of 
salt and sand. There is not much more to tell, except that 
we are just about ready for a march away up the Rio 
Grande, into the wilderness of the Comanche country. I 
expect danger and hardship, heat, thirst and all the troubles 
and pleasures incident to a trip in the wilderness of this 
romantic country. 

The rebellion is dead — we have no more rebels to fight, 
and the work laid out for us seems to be to garrison the 
forts and posts along the frontier, from the mouth of the 
Rio Grande away up into New Mexico. I saw an officer 
yesterday, who had just come down from up there, who 
said he had not seen a white man beside his own company 
for two years. Greasers (Mexicans) and Comanche In- 
dians are the inhabitants up there. With us, it will be some 
different. We have a whole army corps to be scattered along 
the frontier, and there will be frequent communication. 

You do well to talk about heat and rain. What would 
you think of a country where the average heat is from 
96 to 100 and you lived in a cotton house where it did not 
rain for three months, and then Ihe whole three months' 
rain came down in one day, where you would have to get 
your water by condensing the steam from sea brine? It 
wouldn't suit me for a home, but a sojourn here does very 
well for an episode in one's life. There is no use in your 
disliking my coming here. I was well on my way when 
you wrote the words, and here before I read them. 

If you find the time when you can go on a visit to 
Michigan, you better go, without making any calculations 
of my going with you. Our "best laid schemes o' mice 
and men gang aft agley," and there is no telling what may 
happen to any of us. I have a plan in my mind now, which 
I intend to work out. The war is over, the object of my 
enlistment is accomplished, and I propose to resign about 


the middle or latter part of September, so as to start for 
home about the first of October. I shall go via the Missis- 
sippi River, make a visit to our parents in Michigan ( I can- 
not say go home, because I have no home yet), then come 
for another visit to you, and about the first of January go 
for a term of instruction in the forwarding and commission 
business, to Eastman's Business College at Poughkeepsie. 
After that go to Xew Orleans or St. Louis and get a posi- 
tion as agent for some firm in the business, till such time 
as I get ready to go into business on my own account. An 
officer in the regiment, whom I have known intimately for 
nearly two years, will join me at the school, and we shall 
go together for better or worse. It is a business that can 
be carried on with less capital and produce surer and larger 
profits than any other I know of, and one which will suit 
my tastes better than a quiet country life. Xow what do you 
think of my plan ? 

Ringgold Barracks, Texas, 

July 28, 1S63. 
Dear Sister L. : — 

I have just time to drop vou a line before the mail goes, 
to say that I arrived safely at the end of my long tedious 
march, through the strangest country and oddest people you 
or I ever saw. By and by. when I have leisure, I have lots 
of material for letters. 

I was appointed Post Quartermaster immediately on my 
arrival, and I have been so busy that I have not had time 
to eat my meals half the time since. 

We have a large post and plenty of business, but it is 
rather a hard country to live in, I should say. Nothing in 
the way of vegetables to eat can be had. and we have to 
drink the Rio Grande mud, and are glad to get that. 

A line is all I can write. You must take the will for 
the deed and make up by writing often to me. 

Ringgold Barracks, Rio Grande City, Texas, 

Sunday, July jo, 186 j. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

Having some leisure to-day. I will give you a description 


of our march from Brazos, and my impression of the coun- 
try as jotted down in my diary. We had been expecting the 
order to march for some time, but it did not come till on 
Monday, the loth of July, and about 5 o'clock that after- 
noon we started. 

Our road at first lay along the beach on Brazos Island, 
south, but just at dark we forded the channel to the main 
land, and began to cross the plain— moonlight on the plain. 
It was my first experience of the kind, and my first impres- 
sion was of a beautiful scene, a boundless prairie, dotted 
here and there with prickly pears and Spanish bayonet. The 
prickly pear is a sort of cactus that grows all over this 
country. It looks like a set of green dinner plates, the 
edge of one grown fast to the next, and so on, and the whole 
so covered with sharp thorns that you cannot touch it with 
your hand. The pears grow round the edge of the plates, 
about the shape and size of pears, covered with thorns and 
of a beautiful purple color when ripe, and full of seeds like 
a fig. Most of the men devoured them greedily, but I did 
not fancy their insipid taste. Everything that grows in 
this country has thorns or horns. Even the frogs are 
horned, and the cattle have horns longer than their tails. 
Most of the grass I have seen is harsh, prickly stuff. 

We bivouacked that night at 10 o'clock, at White's 
Ranch, having marched about ten miles. The next day was 
to be spent in camp near the river. A party of the officers 
strolled down the bank to swim. Few of us had yet been 
in Mexico, and as it was not far off I proposed to swim 
over. The current was very swift, six miles an hour, 
and my proposition was accepted by but one of them. We 
two started and did swim over. So my first exploration of 
a foreign country was /// piiris naturalibus and the result 
nothing worth mentioning, for the country was just like that 
we had left. 

The next day at 3:30 a. m., we continued our march, 
and a terrible march it was. Part of the way the road lay 
through mesquit chaparral, impenetrable thickets of scrub- 
by, thorny trees, too small for shade and too dense to admit 
a breath of air. Dry as parched corn was everything, no 


grass, no water. I have passed miles and miles of such road 
since, but nothing that seemed so desolate as that first 
experience of the chaparral. By and by we came out of it 
and entered a broad prairie of wild, coarse grass. A mile 
or two off we saw a drove of wild asses. A mounted man 
started to reconnoiter and it would have made you laugh to 
see those wild fellows scorn him with their heels. They 
waited till he got reasonably near, and they went away from 
him so fast that he stopped to look in sheer amazement at 
their speed. It is needless to say he did not catch any of 

We halted about 4 o'clock, having marched sixteen miles. 
There was much straggling, and I could not blame the 
men, for it was impossible to march under such a sun. I had 
all I could do to ride my horse under it. Next day we 
marched ^ight miles to Brownsville, halted till four o'clock 
and then went three miles farther and camped. We spent 
a dav or two there, and as it is the only town of importance 
in this part of the state I must give you some description 
of it. The population is mostly Mexican, ten to one Yankee. 
It is about the size of Jamestown, N. Y., and has one street, 
something similar to the main street there, but the balance 
is Mexican, all. I used to think that Ross Brown's de- 
lineation of Mexican life, in Harper's Monthly, was some- 
what exaggerated, but I am satisfied now that his portraits 
are true to life. I went down to the river to swim, and was 
a little surprised to observe that it is the custom for whole 
families to enjoy that luxury together without the incum- 
brance of bathing dresses. All ages and sexes were indis- 
criminately mixed in the river, and as when you are with 
the Romans, you must do as the Romans do, I mixed in 

The houses in town are adobe (mud brick) or "jacal," 
mud and sticks, with mud floors and roofs of thatched 
grass and cane. The prime requisite seems to be to keep 
cool, and I must admit that with their style of dress the 
result is attained. The little pot-bellied children go entirely 
naked till they are ten years old, when they attain to 
shirts, which seems to be the only garment worn till they 


are grown up, when the women add a petticoat or skirt, 
and the men a pair of leather breeches. I must do them 
the justice to admit that they are clean. Their beds, where 
they have any, are as clean as any I ever saw, but most 
of them sleep on raw ox-hides laid on the floor. Passing 
along the streets, one sees through all the open doors, the 
families reclining on these rawhides, in all stages of dress 
below semi-nakedness. These people are the genuine Aztec 
Mexicans — a race by themselves, neither negro nor Indian, 
but something like both. There are some among them who 
approach civilization. My first lesson in the language I 
learned from a pretty senorita — bright, intelligent, vivacious 
and pretty. She called at a jacal where I stopped a while, 
and addressed me with a ''Buenos dias, Senor" (Bwa-nose- 
de-as-Sayn-yore) good day, sir. She took a bunch of 
''cigarros" (cigarettes) from her pocket, passed them around 
and lit one herself. The women all smoke. Of course I 
could not refuse to light my cigar at her lips, when so 
temptingly offered. She told me that horse in ''Mejicano" 
(Meh-i-can-o) is "caballo" (ca-wal-yow) ; saddle is ''silla" 
(see-yah) ; eggs are "blanquitos ;'' milk, *''leche ;" hens, "gal- 
linas" fgah-ye-nas) ; rooster, ''gallo ;" chicken, ''pollita 

In one day I had mastered Spanish enough to ask: 
"Tiene usted pollitas chiquitas ?" (Have you any chickens ?) 
"Si, Senor" (Yes, sir.) "Quanto es por dos?" (How 
much a pair?) ''Un peso por dos.'' (A dollar a pair), and 
I could buy. 

They are an exceedingly polite people, never omit the 
"Senor" in their conversation. My senorita, when I left, 
kissed her hand to me with "Adios, Senor,'' in the prettiest 

I attended a "fandango," or Mexican ball, at the Browns- 
ville market house. Many senoritas were over from' Mata- 
moras, just across the river, most of them well dressed and 
good looking. An American officer's introduction was to 
step up to one and with a bow say, "Dance Senorita?" "Si, 
Senor," is the invariable reply, and after a Spanish waltz or 
schottische, he is expected to give her something to drink 


and smoke a "cigarro" with her. They all dance well and 
the music of cornets and flageolets is far from disagree- 

I liave always been fond of the water, and swimming is 
a favorite amusement. There is another officer in the regi- 
ment, brought up "on old Long Island's sea-girt shore," 
who is equally fond of it, and we are often companions in 
swimming frolics. "Miller & Norton" are supposed to do 
just as much in the way of feats in water as can be done in 
the Eighth, so we always stump the company when we go 
in. At our camps above Brownsville we agreed to swim 
half a mile further in the river than anyone else, so we went 
two miles above the camp and took a boy along to carry 
our clothes, and then swam down half a mile below the 
camp. It was no great feat in a six mile current to swim 
two and a half miles in half an hour, but it sounded big, 
and left us champions. 

The water in the river is very muddy, looks just like the 
road gutters after a heavy shower, but it is all the water we 
have to drink. In all our journey I saw but one well and one 
spring. The w^ater in the wells if dug, is bitter. Every 
few miles on the road we came to "lagunas" or lakes of 
fresh water, that had no apparent outlet or inlet. They come 
from the overflow of the river, and the water collects in such 
large bodies that the wind gives it motion enough to prevent 
its stagnating and it is quite palatable, though I doubt its 
being wholesome. We camped usually near some laguna. 
As we came farther up the country we found more ranches. 
These are jacal houses, with enclosures for the cattle, sheep 
and goats. There are large flocks of sheep and goats to- 
gether that feed over the country, with men or boys to guard 
them, and are driven up at night. There is one peculiarity 
about the Texas cows, that would be awkward in a dairy 
country — they will not milk till the calf has sucked and if 
the calf dies or is killed they immediately dry up. 

I have heard before of snake countries, but till I came 
here I never saw many snakes. There are some here. 
I have counted on a day's march of fifteen miles, more than 
a dozen snakes. Not the little striped worms than run in 


New York meadows, but black snakes and rattle snakes 
from six to eight feet long, killed by the troops and left 
lying in the road. The adjutant has a string of eighteen 
tattles that he cut off one snake. It was nearly eight feet 
long and four inches thick. I have killed several big black 
snakes myself, but those rattle snakes I'm going to let 

Another of the varmints in this country is the tarantula, 
an enormous spider, whose bite is more venomous than 
that of the rattle snake. The back of the beast is covered 
with a fuzz, like the inside of a chestnut bur in color and 
texture, and its legs as long as a man's finger and very 
thick and muscular. There are two fangs in its mouth, 
^.harp and black, much like a cat's claw. I killed one when 
on the march, the only one I've seen. They are not ver> 
plenty, I believe. There are scorpions here, too. 

In passing through some parts of the country, the chap- 
arral cleared up and the mesquit trees with the wild grass 
under them, looked exactly like an old orchard of half- 
dead apple trees in a field of half-ripe oats, and the road 
winding through the grass, like some farm road in harvest 
time passing through a grain field. 

There is abundance of game in the country — wolves, 
foxes, deer and immense rabbits, but there are no edible vege- 
tables or fruits to be had, and I tell you it is tough living, and 
take it all m all, I would not live in this country if I could 
own a whole county. To all intents and purposes, this coun- 
try is Mexico still. 

Monday, 31st: I had not time to finish mv letter yes- 
terday and will add a few lines to-day and seal it up, to 
wait the arrival of the next boat. There is no telling when 
that Vv'ill come. 

Last night I was disturbed in my sleep by a strange 
noise, and rising up in bed to listen I made out that a pack 
of prairie wolves had made a visit, and were paying their 
compliments by making a most mfernal noise about ten 
rods away in the chaparral, whining, howling and yelp- 
like a parcel of half-fed curs. They are cowardly rascals. 

Well, I've written you a long rambling letter. Things 


are jumbled up in it very much as they have been in my 
experience here, and it seems half Hke some ugly dream, 
but you can rely on it as being all true. About two months 
more of such life and I hope to see civilization again. In 
the nieantime I hope to hear from you as often as a mail 
comes, which is seldom. 

O-fhce A. A. Q. M., Second Division, Twenty-fifth 
Corps, Ringgold Barracks, Texas, 

August 2J, 1865. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

I received your letter dated July 23d, by the last boat 
(23d) just a month from date. I cannot tell you how 
glad I was to hear from you again, but I can tell you that 
you must not expect many long letters from me, till I come 
home. There is not much to write, anyway. I have al- 
ready written a tolerably full description of the country, 
and now I have no time to write anything but business 
letters. I am division quartermaster and post quarter- 
master at the same time, and you may judge I have some- 
thing to do. Since the other quartermasters left I have 
worked night and day. To-day is Sunday and I and my 
clerk have written thirty-one business letters, besides in- 
specting my train. I am supplying forage to six hundred 
horses and mules, and have thirty-five six-mule teams of 
my own to take care of. I have estimated the value of the 
property for which I am responsible at $350,000 and I can- 
not take care of that without some work. 

The only recreation I have taken lately has been to at- 
tend a ball over in Camargo, Mexico. General Cortinas 
and General Espinosa, of the liberal army, were in town, 
and the merchants got up a ball to bring together the United 
States and Alexican officers. The "baile" was "dedica 
a los Gefes y Officiales de los Estados Unidos del norte" — 
of course, you know what that means. 

The senoritas were numerous and of rather a different 
style from these peon Mexicans. Their papas had thou- 
sands of silver "pesos" and they were as well dressed and 
well behaved as our girls at home, to say the least. 


I am getting quite well acquainted in Camargo, where 
I am known as "Don Olivero el Quartelmaestro." Every 
one is known by his first name only. Charlie there would 
be "Don Carlos." Oh, how these girls can waltz, and how 
I can't! I didn't enjoy the dancing much, except looking 
on. I could only schottische a little. 

It would amuse you to see what a man of consequence 
I am in Camargo. A brigadier general is nowhere beside 
"El Ouartelmaestro." "Why?" — Because he don't make 
contracts for lumber, coal, grain and hay — the quarter- 
master does. 

There are a thousand things I would like to tell you 
about, but I haven't time. I send with this the July Atlantic. 
I have had the August number two weeks and have not cut 
the leaves yet. 

Ringgold Barracks, Texas, 

September lo, 1865. 
My Dear Sister L. : — 

I have no letter to answer since my last, but I have a 
little time to spare to-day, being Sunday, and will devote 
it to you by writing. 

I try to imagine what you are doing just now, and 
what is the change in the looks of the place since I was 
there. I presume that just about this time of day you are 
sitting in one of the slips in that "Podunk" or "Chachunk" 
(what do you call it?) "meetin' house," listening intently 
to the logical instructions of some "Elder Boanerges" and 
wishing between times that you had your big brother up 
there again to show him to those who were not sufficiently 
impressed by your first exhibition. Ah, well ! You can't 
get him there to-day. Let me see. It is nearly the middle 
of September. We have been making garden. Our cu- 
cumbers are up and doing nicely — so are several other 
plants. You, I suppose, are just getting through harvesting. 
Charlie's barns are full to overflowing. The cows come 
up at night so full they lie down with a grunt, and all the 
country round shows the fullness and beauty of the early 
autumn. I have not learned to tell the season here. July 


and August have passed never so quickly, so coolly, so 
pleasantly before. Most of my time is spent in my office 
and, instead of the excessive heat being troublesome in 
the southern climate, I have never suffered so little from 
heat in New York. There is all the time a breeze, and the 
thick walls of my adobe house shut out all the heat of the 

I say the time has passed pleasantly. One reason is 
that I have had little time to think of unpleasant things, 
and another, I suppose, is that I am somewhat pleased with 
the power and influence of my new position. Except the 
commanding general, there is no one here so much looked 
up to by the citizens as "El Quartelmaestro," and then my 
business suits me. General Steele, Inspector General, has 
been inspecting my train, shops, storehouses, etc., to-day, 
and he compliments me highly on their appearance. From 
down the river I hear the same thing. ''I like to consign 
a boat to a live quartermaster," says the quartermaster 
at Brownsville, ''but how do you manage to unload your 
boats so quickly?" I do it by keeping things moving. 1 
set seventy-five men with an officer in charge at work as 
soon as a boat is tied up, and when the load is off her papers 
are ready and she starts back. There is a pleasure in hard 
work when you see the results. That makes all the differ- 
ence in the world. The way I punish an unruly teamster 
is to make him dig a big hole and then fill it up, dig it out 
and fill it up the second time, and that is enough for any 
man. It fixes them. 

I should not write such a letter to everyone. It sounds 
a little like self-praise, but between us there need be no re- 
serve. I tell you all because I know you like to know just 
what I am doing. 

By the way, have I told you that I have at last dropped 
the "A" and my "pay handle" is "R. Q. M." of the Eighth? 
Burrows got his appointment in August and I stepped into 
his shoes at once. Rank from August 5th. 

The prospect for getting out of the service very soon 
is not very good. As things are shaping I do not much 
think I shall try till after Congress meets. Wilson Camp 


has sent in his resignation and he will go out sure. The 
medical board that examines all officers pronounced him 
disqualified to perform his duties, by reason of physical dis- 
ability contracted in the line of his duty. It is a big joke, 
for he is physically the ablest man in the regiment. Can 
stand more hardship than the whole medical board to- 
gether, but he said "the doctors ought to know," and sent 
in his resignation on those grounds. I suppose I might 
do the same thing, but I do not care to do it. 

The paymaster has paid us a visit and some greenbacks. 
I received $577.63 for four months. 

Well, I will bid you good-bye, hoping to hear from you 
soon and as often as you can find time to write. Love to 
Charlie and all the good folks. Shall I bring home a doll 
from Mexico for your baby ? 

I enclose a missive I received the other day. Perhaps 
you can read it. It refers to a mule. 

Adios, hermana mia, 



SEPT. 1 TO DEC. 31, ISKl 





I am writing, dear sister, in the summer of 1864, in the 
sunny "Land of Flowers," of times and friends in 1863, in 
war-cursed Virginia. The chivalry in their pride have 
called it the "sacred soil," and now indeed it is the ''sacred 
soil" — consecrated by the blood of tens of thousands of 
the champions of right and liberty against slavery and 

The first of September found the brigade to which I 
was attached, camped at Beverly Ford, on the Rappahan- 
nock. General Rice had just received his "star," and left us 
to command a division in the First Corps. He was one of 
the happiest men in the Army of the Potomac the day his 
commission arrived. He had been a faithful officer since 
the opening of the struggle, brave to rashness, generous 
to a fault, kind and even fatherly to his men, but till now 
senior officers had stood in the way of his promotion. The 
death of the gallant Vincent had sadly opened the way, and 
though sorrowing at the event, in common with all who 


knew the talented soldier, he was not the less ready to em- 
brace the opportunity offered. Now, he too is gone. Vin- 
cent, glowing with patriotism, had exclaimed the night be- 
fore Gettysburg, while the girls by the wayside sang "The 
Star Spangled Banner" to cheer our midnight march, 
glancing at our flag waving in the moonlight, "What death 
more glorious could any man desire than to die on the soil 
of old Pennsylvania fighting for that flag?" Words worthy 
. to be set in letters of gold and pictures of silver for coming 
generations to study while they learn that it was not empty 
rhetoric, but the feeling of his soul, for he died with the 
triumph in his eye, and tlie smile of a glorious death on 
his lips. Rice, with the true soldier spirit animating him 
in the last hour, lying there in the Wilderness with his life- 
blood moistening the "sacred soil," said to the faithful 
drummer boys who attended him, "Turn me over, boys — 
let me die with my face to the enemy." And there he died. 
Thousands more were dead and dying there with the same 
spirit and in the same cause. Who shall say the "sacred 
soil" is mis-named? 

But to return. The camp of our biigade was stretched 
along the river just opposite and above the dam. Colonel 
Rice, upon receiving his promotion, was assigned to another 
command, and was succeeded by Colonel Chamberlain of 
the Twentieth Maine. Our new commander was a tall, 
good looking man, who had seen but one year of military 
life. He was, before entering the army, a professor in 
a college in Maine, and a minister of the Gospel, but he 
doffed the ministerial black and donned the military blue 
with a good grace, and with credit to himself and his state. 
At Gettysburg, in command of his regiment, he evinced 
military talents of a high order, and did good service to his 

The headquarters of our brigade were on a hill over- 
looking the camps and the river. In front was Colonel 
Chamberlain's tent, in rear and to the right of the colonel's 
was Captain Clark's, the A. A. A. G., and on the same line 
to the left was Lieutenant Rogers', aide-de-camp. In rear 
of these was the adjutant general's office tent, the four tents 


forming a cross, and a booth covered vith pine boughs was 
constructed over the whole of them. 

In rear of this and a Httle to the right was a humble 
dwelling constructed of poles and shelter tents, and occu- 
pied by your brother and his tent-mate. There were few at 
headquarters who understood and liked Theodore Roosen 
as I did. He was an orphan, born in Denmark. At the 
age of eight years he ran away from a cruel guardian and 
went to sea. He followed the sea in various capacities for 
ten years, visiting in that time half the seaport cities of the 
world, and at last was wrecked on the rock-bound coast of 
Maine. His experience on the sea seems to have satisfied 
him, and he settled down to the quiet of a farmer's life in 
Maine. It may be that the charms of a downcast maiden 
had some weight in influencing his choice, for I remember 
writing some letters for him to a certain Susan who shall be 
nameless. He had not been here long enough to write 
English much, though he wrote his own language well. 
What I most admired in him was his manliness and self- 
reliance, his determination to make his way in the world 
without dependence on others. He was strong in his likes 
and dislikes. One of his "likes" was me, and one of his 
"dislikes" was a "nigger." No amount of argument could 
convince him that a "nigger" was a man. He was a warm 
friend and faithful. 

The first two weeks of September passed rapidly away. 
I was attending to my duties as bugler, writing letters to 
my friends, reading, and waiting for the orders to march. 
Lee's army was reported to be lying along the south bank 
of the Rapidan and his cavalry stretching from Culpeper 
to Orange Court House. On the 15th came the orders, and 
on the 1 6th at an early hour we broke camp and moved 
toward the enemy. After crossing the Rappahannock below 
the ford on a pontoon bridge, we struck across the country 
to Brandy Station, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. 
Brandy Station has since become quite famous as the head- 
quarters of Meade's army, but that is all that ever caused 
the name to be printed on anything but time-tables and 
schedules of a one-horse railroad. My recollection of the 


place is this: A low wooden shed with a whitewashed 
board with "BRANDY" on it, two dilapidated houses sur- 
rounded by a ruined fence, three or four ragged, tow- 
headed children, and a cross-eyed woman. We followed 
the railroad from Brandy toward Culpeper. Half way be- 
tween the two places, and half a mile from the road, was the 
residence of John Minor Botts, a neutrality man. He was 
opposed to the secession of Virginia, and would do nothing 
to help the rebellion, neither would he assist in making war 
on his native state. The rebels kept him in Castle Thunder 
a while and then released him. 

Culpeper Court House is a rambling old town, about 
the size of Jamestown, New York. It was the home of 
the rebel General Hill, and a host of lesser lights among 
the chivalry. It used to be a place of fashionable resort 
of the F. F. V.'s, but alas! its glory has departed. The 
wives and daughters of the patrician families of the state 
were reduced to the dire extremity of keeping boarding 
houses for the Union officers, and bending their lady backs 
over washtubs containing their dirty clothes, to keep from 
starvation. Now that there are no officers to board and 
wash for, I cannot imagine what the first families do. 

We went into camp three miles southwest of Culpeper. 
Headquarters were fixed in a point of woods on a hill over- 
looking the camps. The day before, there had been a cav- 
alry skirmish on this ground, and just in front of the 
colonel's tent, under a spreading oak, was the grave of a 
Union cavalryman. Somewhere among the mountains of 
Pennsylvania a home was in mourning, but the mourned 
was taking a soldier's rest under the shadow of that oak. I 
spent two days in cutting out a head board and surrounding 
his grave with a fence. 

Friday, the i8th, was a day long to be remembered in 
many homes. Desertions had become so common that ener- 
getic action alone could stop them, and on that day eighteen 
deserters in the Army of the Potomac were "shot to death 
with musketry" in the presence of their divisions. At half 
past two in the afternoon our division assembled to witness 
the execution of George Van, of the Twelfth New York 


Volunteers. The day was dull and cloudy, and the cere- 
mony took place in a lonely, wild valley west of the camp. 
The troops were formed in line on the hillside facing the 
valley, and soon after the line was formed the wild strains 
of the death march floated over the hill, and the condemned 
man came following his coffin down into the valley of death. 
Slowly they marched along the line — the muffled roll of the 
drum and the mournful shriek of the fife alone breaking the 
silence of that assembled multitude. 

The coffin was set down in front of the grave, opposite 
the center of the line, the chaplain knelt and prayed for the 
soul of the doomed man, the provost marshal read the or- 
der for his execution, the prisoner seated himself on his 
coffin, thirteen glittering death tubes were aimed at his 
breast, there was a flash, a report, a smoke, and the prisoner 
rose to his feet, tossed his arms wildly above his head, and 
fell back on his coflin a corpse. 

From that time till the 23d the weather was cold and 
overcoats began to come in play. We were undecided as to 
whether there would be a fall campaign or not. Our cav- 
alry at the front were making reconnoissances and skirmish- 
ing every day, and the impression prevailed that Lee had 
been sending troops to Bragg, and that now was our time to 
attack him. We heard of an indecisive battle between 
Bragg's and Rosecrans' armies. 

On the 23d I was electrified by the receipt of a letter 
from Honorable Galusha A. Grow recommending me to 
Major Foster in W^ashington and asking that I be allowed 
to appear before General Casey's board for examination. 

I had written to Mr. Grow in the month of May previous 
asking advice about the mode of proceeding to obtain a 
commission in the colored regiments then beginning to be 
raised. I had heard nothing from him all summer and had 
given up the idea entirely, but this unexpected letter of 
recommendation revived my hopes and I immediately wrote 
to Major Foster making application for permission to ap- 
pear before the board, and enclosing Mr. Grow's letter. 

I said nothing to any one of what I had done. The 
sentiment of that part of the army in regard to colored 


soldiers was more favorable than it had been the winter 
before, when poor Joe Hatch had to hurry his departure to 
avoid the ridicule and jeers everywhere heaped on the "nig- 
ger officer." My most intimate companions, McKnight 
and Dickson, in the adjutant general's office, were moder- 
ately fond of sport at the expense of the nigger. On the 
29th Captain Clark called me into his office and with a serio- 
comic expression desired to know if I had made application 
to appear before the board in Washington, and if so why I 
did not make it through the proper channel of communica- 
tion. Of course I had, and the channel was the mail-bag. 
He then gave me an order from the War Department to re- 
port for examination to the board, of which Major General 
Silas Casey is president, sitting at 469 Fourteenth street, 

Next morning I started about 9 o'clock for the capital. 
At Culpeper I took the cars for Alexandria, having first 
procured my transportation ticket from General Patrick, 
provost marshal. I was nearly all day traveling forty 
miles on that paragon of railroads, the Orange & Alexan- 

I arrived in the "City of Magnificent Distances" at 6 
o'clock p. m. an entire stranger, with about $40 in my pocket. 
Coming in as I did, ragged and dirty from the field, I found 
it necessary to make some purchases of clothing before I 
could appear in a presentable condition before the board. 
I found a lodging place on Pennsylvania avenue, partook of 
my first civilized meal in more than two years, left my 
baggage and sallied out to visit the clothing stores. Two- 
thirds of the inhabitants of Washington being engaged in 
supplying the wants of our soldiers (for a consideration), 
and clothing being an important item in the necessaries, I- 
was not long in finding the object of my search, and by 
half past seven I was promenading the avenue quite a re- 
spectably dressed private soldier. 

The next matter for my consideration was how to spend 
the evening. The rough, hard life of a soldier in the field, 
followed up for two years and more, had predisposed me 


to a little relaxation and a little participation in the fash- 
ionable amusements of a city. I was nearly twenty-four 
years of age and had never seen the inside of a theater. 
The papers were full of the praise of Davenport and Wal- 
lack, the greatest "stars" who had ever played in Washing- 
ton. Should I go to see them? Yes, so I decided, and 
went. The play was "The Stranger," one which usually 
draws well, and the "Washington Theater" was well filled. 
Of course I was pleased. Who was not on his first night? 
Knowing, or expecting, rather, that I should require all the 
energy I was possessed of on the next day, I did not stay 
to hear the after-piece, but retired to my lodging. 

The next morning, after making my most careful toilet, 
knowing that much depends on first impressions, I reported 
to the secretary of the board, who, after examining my 
papers, informed me that my examination could not be had 
for a week or more, and in the meantime if I chose to do so 
I could receive board at government expense at the Sol- 
diers' Home of the Sanitary Commission. I availed my- 
self of the privilege, and as my examination was from time 
to time postponed, I spent nearly a month of pleasant days 
at that place. 

By the wish of Captain Hechtman I called upon his wife 
at the earliest opportunity. I found her an exceedingly 
pleasant and sociable little woman, very glad to see me 
just from the front and bringing messages from her hus- 
band. I had seen her in Erie, as Corporal Hechtman's wife, 
and now I met her again as the w^ife of our respected cap- 
tain. She expressed her warmest wishes for my success 
before the board, ofl:ered any assistance she could render, 
and urged me to call often during my stay in the city and 
drop in to take tea with her. So I had already found a 
friend, for her invitations were not conventional politeness. 

The month at the Soldiers' Home passed rapidly away. 
There were from fifty to sixty applicants for examination 
constantly there, some leaving each day and new ones taking 
their places. Those waiting their turns made a practice 
of "plowing with the general's heifer" all they could. 
The examinations were all conducted on nearly the same 


plan and a certain routine of questions followed in every 
case. Applicants who had been examined were closely ques- 
tioned on all points likely to benefit any future candi- 
date, and they submitted with good humored grace, giving 
full details on all points Hkely to assist any one else. Had 
I known the ordeal through which successful candidates 
had to pass, I doubt if I had ever left the army to try it, 
expecting as I did to be examined immediately. The morn- 
ings were generally spent in hard study of the tactics and 
critical examinations of each other by parties who paired 
off for that purpose. After dinner we walked about town, 
visiting the lions till two or three o'clock, returning in 
time to catechize the candidates who had been examined 
during the day. In the evening we had a general class 
for examination in tactics, history, geography and mathe- 
matics, some one who had passed the board conducting the 
examination a la Casey. In this way much was learned 
that was of service in the ordeal to come, for ordeal it was. 
Washington is very correctly called the "City of Mag- 
nificent Distances." It may be that the condition of the 
streets has something to do with that. Scarcely a score 
of streets in the city are paved. Pennsylvania Avenue is 
the Broadway of the capital. It is a broad street running 
the whole length of the city. At the head is the Capitol on 
an eminence overlooking the city. Two miles below the 
Capitol in an unfinished square are the unfinished Treasury 
buildings and other government houses ; still farther below 
is the "White House." I visited the principal places of 
public interest during the month I was waiting my examina- 
tion. Our boarding place was under the shadow of the 
Capitol and I spent much of my time there. My knowledge 
of architecture and my powers of description are both so 
limited that I will not attempt to describe it to you, but 
merely give you some of the impressions it produced in my 
mind. The first was its magnificent dimensions. It was by 
far the largest building I had ever seen, but like everything 
else in Washington it is yet unfinished. The whole neigh- 
borhood is strewn with blocks of marble and iron, and low 
sheds for the workmen, which do not add to the beaut v of 
the prospect. 


Inside, niv ])rcconceived ideas received another shock by 
the comparative smallness of the halls of the two houses 
of Congress. I had expected to find them occupying the 
greater part of the buildings, and I did find them only a 
small proportion of the whole. I have not the least doubt 
but that they are abundantly large, but I was disappointed 
much by my first view of them. The rotunda, of which 
so much has been said, is the base of the dome. In the 
center was a vast scaffold supporting the unfinished roof of 
that structure, and around the walls were various paintings, 
copies of which you see on the backs of notes of the national 
banks. I am no connoisseur in paintings and will vouch- 
safe no opinion of their merits, but the painting which most 
attracted my attention was that over one of the grand stair- 
ways, entitled "Westward the Star of Empire Takes Its 
Way." I studied that picture hours, and all the time dis- 
covering new beauties. I cannot describe to you the cor- 
ridors and halls, the beautiful columns and fresco work. 
I can only say that since I have seen that all other buildings 
look tame and poor in comparison. In company with my 
friend, Powell, I spent much time in the President's room. 
It was a quiet place and we went there to study. To give 
you an idea of the magnificence of the place I will try to 
describe one column supporting a mirror. It was variegat- 
ed marble, very much the color of castile soap, sixteen feet 
high and about four wide. The face was hollowed out into 
a niche and so beautifully polished that as I stood before it 
I really thought it was covered with a glass plate, and could 
not undeceive myself till I put out my hand and touched it. 

Among the most interesting places to strangers in Wash- 
ington is the Smithsonian Institute, founded by one Smith- 
son, in the interests of natural science. It contains speci- 
mens of immense numbers of beasts, birds and fishes, and 
all manner of curiosities. I spent some time in looking over 
that. One curiosity was a young alligator, which at this 
present writing is not so much of a curiosity to me. 

The Patent Office was another place I visited with much 
interest. Besides models of every known machine and a 


great many unknown ones, there were many historical rel- 
ics of priceless value. The sword of Washington and his 
camp furniture, the original copy of the Declaration of 
Independence, the cane which supported the steps of Ben- 
jamin Franklin, the suit of clothes worn by General Jackson 
at the Battle of New Orleans, etc. 

You must imagine an interruption of six months, a 
change of scene and season. I resume the ''thread of my 
story" during the last days of 1864 once more in war-cursed 
Virginia. I do not know why I broke off, but this has 
lain quietly in my valise, waiting for me to complete it, 
so long that I have almost forgotten what I have already 
written, and if I repeat some things you will excuse me. 
I am writing now in my comfortable log house on the line 
of the Army of the James, about four miles from Richmond. 
The many changes that have taken place in our regiment 
have almost made another organization of it, and at this 
particular time I find myself occupying the position of regi- 
mental quartermaster. So much then for explanation, and 
I resume my story. 

The 27th of October was the day which was to decide 
whether I was to return to my old position as a private 
soldier or assume the duties and responsibilities of an officer 
of colored troops, and you may well believe I awaited my 
examination with anxiety. My time came at last and I 
was admitted to the august presence of the board. An 
hour passed and my fate was decided, but not revealed to 
me. I returned to the Sanitary Commission rooms, and 
spent the evening in the hall, but tactics had lost their charm 
for me. I had been straining my powers of memory and 
steady thought too long, and the reaction had come. Mv 
study for the present at least was over, and I would only 
wait to try and learn the decision of the board before re- 
turning to the army. The next morning found me early 
at the examining rooms, and in receipt of the happy intelli- 
gence that it was "something," and the next morning I 
started for the army. The old Third Brigade was Iving 
then a few miles south of Warrenton, and the depot was 
Gainesville, on the Manassas Gap railroad, where I arrived 


about 3 p. m., and after a rapid walk of seven miles I ar- 
rived at home just at dusk. I found McKni_crht and the 
adjutant's office in a log house, and headquarters in 
another, and all hands making themselves comfortable, 
rhey gave me a hearty welcome and Milo brought me a 
bundle of letters sufficient to occupy me till bed time, which 
was at an early hour, for I was tired, and marching orders 
for the next morning had been issued. In the morning I 
resumed my place as bugler, but several other things that 
I left when I started for Washington I did not resume. The 
bugler who had filled my place during my absence possessed 
the faculty of losing things to a rare degree. In the month 
of my absence he had lost my horse, my saddle, bridle, one 
spur, blanket, and worst of all, the mouthpiece of my bugle, 
a most excellent one, and impossible to be replaced. The 
horse had been restored to him and he had gathered apolo- 
gies for most of the other things, but my bugle without the 
old mouthpiece was never the same bugle again. 

We moved next morning at 8 o'clock, passing during 
the morning Auburn. Do not picture to yourself the poets' 
"Sweet Auburn." The village consisted of one house and 
some outbuildings in various stages of, I was going to say 
preservation, but decay is the better word. Some ladies 
with auburn hair were standing in the door as we passed, 
and the expression on their faces was suggestive of anything 
but joy. 

The first week of November we were quietly resting in 
camp. I watched the regular channels of official communi- 
cation pretty closely, but nothing came to me. I played 
chess with McKnight and Captain Hechtman, wrote a good 
many letters and waited for news from Washington. The 
army w^as stretched along the line of the railroad from 
Manassas Junction to Warrenton. The track had been re- 
laid and trains were running to Warrenton, but rations and 
forage were coming up slowly and were somewhat scarce. 
The boys at our wagon train adopted a novel plan to in- 
crease their store of grain. There was quite a sharp up- 
grade in the track just opposite our train, and the cars 
often almost stopped in passing. One of the boys got a 


grappling hook and attached it to a rope fastened to a 
telegraph pole beside the track, and after well greasing 
the rails near the summit of the grade, waited for the 
train of grain. It came, a train of platform cars piled 
up with sacks of grain. It slowed on the up-grade and 
as the locomotive reached the greased portion the wheels 
slipped round and for a moment we had a stationary engine 
in motion. Just then the grappling hook was thrown into 
a sack of the bottom tier, and as an extra head of steam 
sent the train over the doctored track a dozen sacks of 
oats and corn tumbled ofif the rear car and disappeared 
among the wagons. 

On the morning of the 7th of November our army was 
again in motion. Lee was holding the line of the Rappa- 
hannock. Most of his army was on the south side, but 
he had a few thousand on the north side near the railroad 
crossing. As day broke we struck the line of the railroad 
and marched towards the river, the Second and Third corps 
to Kelly's Ford and the Fifth and Sixth to Rappahannock 
Station. About 3 p. m. w^e met their pickets a mile or so 
from the river, and line of battle was formed immediately, 
the Sixth Corps on the right of the railroad and we on the 
left. On each side of the river just above the bridge the 
rebels had forts, and field guns on the south bank of the 
river commanded the approaches to the bridge. Our lines 
as soon as formed advanced and skirmishing began. The 
rebel cavalry who were in advance skedaddled for the river 
gloriously, without firing a gun, and we advanced as fast 
as the troops could march, the skirmish line driving the 
enemy, till we came within sight of the river. The forts 
and the batteries opened on us furiously, but their shells 
whistled harmlessly over our heads. The Eighty-third and 
Forty-fourth were next to the railroad, joining the left of 
the Sixth Corps, and when the order to charge was given, 
forward they went with a rush that carried everything be- 
fore them. Into the fort they dashed and out of the fort 
went the rebs, some of them, and most of them surrendered 
quickly. Some jumped into the river and after getting 
thoroughly wet waded back towards the muzzle of a Yankee 


musket persuasively pointed at them. It was dark by the 
time this affair was over and operations ceased for the 
night. The Sixth Corps had the credit of capturing that 
fort, but I counted sixty-five prisoners taken in and about 
it by the Eighty-third, and our corps had about eleven 
hundred, and it would seem as though some troops beside the 
Sixth Corps had something to do with it. This was the last 
fight I witnessed in the Army of the Potomac, and though 
not very severe or bloody, it was a glorious victory. We 
bivouacked that night in line of battle where the fight 
ended, or rather in the woods just in rear of it. No fires 
were allowed, and the prospect bid fair for a cold supper 
and an uncomfortable night. It was very seldom, how- 
ever, that I went to sleep without my cup of coffee, and I 
determined to have it that night. The rebel batteries were 
just across the river and the prohibition against fires was 
to prevent impleasant attentions from them, so keeping the 
spirit of the order, but breaking the letter, I proceeded to 
make my coffee. I dug a hole in the ground behind a large 
tree, just large enough to admit my little pail, built a fire of 
twigs, put on my cup and then held my hat over it while it 
boiled. A cup of it offered to the colonel, his only chance 
of getting any, convinced him that no harm had been done, 
and I prepared for bed. My bed that night was on the most 
primitive principles, — a blanket spread beside a log. I tied 
my horse on the other side of the log, put my saddle down 
for a pillow, with a little bag of oats under it, and my bugle 
and haversack near it, and disposed myself for sleep. My 
horse seemed to think he had had a scanty supper, for he 
would not lie down, but devoted himself to finding some- 
thing to eat, and at least three times he woke me and 
obliged me to remove from his mouth, first the oat bag, then 
my haversack, and lastly my bugle, the tassel of which he 
was mumbling in his mouth in the most innocent manner 

The morning broke at last and we looked for our neigh- 
bors over the river, but ''nary reb" was to be seen. They 
had decamped during the night, and in excellent spirits we 
prepared to follow them. Instead of crossing the river 


there, however, we marched down to Kelly's Ford, where 
the Third Corps had already crossed on a pontoon bridge, 
crossed there and struck across the country in the direc- 
tion of Culpeper. We marched about three miles from the 
river and halted on a magnificent farm that had been un- 
visited by soldiers till that time. There were miles of 
Virginia rail fence, and it melted away before that army of 
cold soldiers like snow in an April sun. We remained 
here only one day and then were ordered back across the 
river. I have very distinct recollections of this, my last 
march with the Army of the Potomac. We started a little 
before sunset and had three miles to march before reaching 
the river, and it began to snow just as we started. For 
some reason one regiment of the brigade was cut off by 
another brigade, and on crossing the bridge we were obliged 
to wait a long time for it to come up before we could 
bivouac. In the meantime the troops already across had 
gone into bivouac, and before we were ready to unsaddle 
every loose stick on that wide plain was burning under cof- 
fee cups or making soldiers comfortable in some other man- 
ner. We finally got settled, and two of the orderlies car- 
ried a long pole some half a mile to get something to fasten 
the horses to, while another and I gathered some brush to 
make a fire of. The fire made, and our supper cooked and 
eaten, we prepared for bed. Blankets were scarce and cour 
sequently in great demand, but we made quite comfortable 
beds on the frozen ground on that bleak plain. The wind 
whistled round our beds and for a time we were very cold, 
but it grew warmer, and in the morning we saw that nature 
had taken pity on us and sent us a white coverlid of an inch 
of snow. Very soon after the reveille we learned that we 
were to go into camp in the vicinity, and by noon a suit- 
able place had been selected and the troops were in position. 
Here for the first time since the commencement of the 
movement official documents began to come forward and I 
looked anxiously for something for me. It came on the 
evening of the 13th, an order from the Secretary of 
War, signed by the Assistant Adjutant General, 


"l"[oiioral>l\- (lischari^ing Private O. W. Norton, Eighty- 
third Pennsylvania Vohmtcers. front the service of 
the United States, to enahle him to accept promo- 
tion." I was therefore a free and independent citizen after 
two and a half years of experience as a private soldier. 
The feeling was novel and exhilarating, mingled with a 
touch of sadness that it included a parting with the com- 
rades with whom I had shared so many pleasant and un- 
pleasant hours. Every one congratulated me. The feeling 
on the subject of colored soldiers had changed much since 
the winter before, when poor Joe Hatch left so abruptly to 
assume the duties of an ofificer in a colored regiment. On 
Saturday, the 14th, I attended my last review in the Army 
of the Potomac, a review of our division only, by General 
Bartlett, who had assumed command. I did not choose to 
avail myself of my discharge at once, but went on duty, 
feeling something like a volunteer aid, and loth to give up 
my old position. The review was nothing very grand or 
extraordinary. The principal feature that I remember was 
the appearance of the brigade commissary, drunk as usual, 
and his ridiculous efforts to maintain his position in the 

On Sunday my appointment as First Lieutenant Eighth 
United States Colored Troops arrived and my order to re- 
port to Lieutenant Colonel Louis Wagner, at Camp William 
Penn, Philadelphia. 

On Alonday morning early I bade farewell to my com- 
rades, turned over my dear old horse to my successor, and 
in company with Lieutenants Stewart and Storms, late of the 
Forty-fourth New York and Fourth Michigan, I started for 
W^ashington. We had a tedious time on that Orange & 
Alexandria, which I have mentioned before, and only 
reached Alexandria that night. Next morning we arrived 
in Washington. Being an officer, I was supposed to be able 
to provide for myself, and the Sanitary Commission was not 
an eligible locality, so I went to the National, the hotel 
where Buchanan and several others came near being the 
victims of poison, which m.ight have been a better thing for 
the country than their recovery was. 


Being short of funds, my first business was to settle my 
accounts'' with the United States. The balance in my favor 
was $138.40, which Major Taylor very promptly paid over. 
I then wrote my letter accepting the appointment, found a 
notary public and took the oath of office, and rested from 
my labors on a pretty good day's work. In the evening I 
attended Grover's Theater to see Lucille Western as Mary 
Tudor, the Bloody Queen. The next morning I went to see 
Major Foster to get permission to make a flying visit home 
before reporting for duty. He kindly got for me the per- 
mission from the Secretary of War. I had two weeks to 
visit and travel in before reporting for duty. Thinking 
I could make some purchases for my outfit at better ad- 
vantage in New York than elsewhere, I determined to go 
there. 1 arrived before light and a cab set m_e down at 
the Astor House. After renovating the outer man a little 
by somniferous and sartorial appliances, I set out in search 
of my relatives with rather better prospects of success in 
the search than had Japhet in search of his father or Stephen 
in search of his mother, but with less certainty of my wel- 
come in case of success, though I had very little doubt of it. 
I found Uncle Anthony in his office, and after promising 
to meet him at the close of business hours and go home with 
him, I returned to the hotel. To say that I enjoyed my visit 
there would be but a feeble expression of the fact. I had 
corresponded with Cousin L. as regularly as with any otlier 
person during my term of service, and felt already well ac- 
quainted, and she received me almost like a brother lost and 
found. Though I was anxious to meet the loved ones at 
home, the hours fled all too swiftly and I left them with re- 
gret. My journey to Chautauqua was "too tedious to men- 
tion," and I presume my visit with you is as fresh in your 
memory as in mine. You have not forgotten, I presume, 
the entire bewilderment of your faculties by the sight of me, 
and your ignorance of the whereabouts of your husband, 
who was innocently husking corn in the barn. 

I left you in company with Uncle Rio to go west, after 
writing to E. to meet me at the Toledo depot and go home 
with me. The snow storm at that time had delayed trams 


so as to prevent them from making connections, and Rio and 
I arrived at Cleveland too late to go on, and in a painful 
state of impecuniosity. Uncertain as to the cost of the re- 
mainder of our journey, we dared not reduce our joint 
stock too much, and contented ourselves with supper and a 
bed, and in the morning lay in bed till it was necessary to 
depart without our breakfast in order to reach the cars in 

To take leave in proper style we took occasion to rebuke 
the clerk for not waking us in time for breakfast before 
leaving, though a gong had sounded its mellifluous warn- 
ing for full ten minutes in front of our chamber door. 

At Toledo we stopped till the next train for E. He 
met us at the depot and I was at once struck by the change 
in his appearance. You seemed just the same, as though 
I had left you but yesterday, but he was much changed, 
and for the better. I left him a stout but uncouth boy, and 
found him grown and much improved in his manners and 

We went on by the next train and had much to talk of 
by the way. Rio left us at some junction to go on to 
Milwaukee, and E. and I alighted from the cars to find 
Father waiting for us with his buggy. E., the sly rogue, 
had requested Father to meet him at the depot to take him 
home, and said in such a suspicious way that he would 
bring a friend with him that they all knew I was coming. 
Father was as much beside himself as a boy with a new 
pocket knife. Nothing would do but I must blow that bugle 
at every house like a fish peddler on a spree, to let the neigh- 
bors know that his son had come. And the old bugle rang 
out its war peals for almost the last time on that night. 
The whole house was up and anxiously waiting my coming, 
and such a greeting was worth all the service I had seen. 

My stay at home was brief, only two davs, but Father 
had determined that his son should be seen, and he had in- 
vited all the young people of his parish to meet him. They 
came, a house full, and some pretty girls among them, girls 
I would be glad to know, but I could only see them once, 
and I confess it was something of a bore, but I suppose 


it pleased the father and I ought to be satisfied. In looking 
back at my visit now, the most prominent unpleasant fea- 
ture was my being made a lion of everywhere because I 
was a soldier. It may be part of the sacrifice for my coun- 
try, and if so I accept it. Some instances were very amus- 
ing to me. At Jamestown, where I was compelled to stop 
part of the day, a little boy watched me passing up the 
walk and seeing me enter a hotel, he ran round the corner 
shouting, "Jake, O Jakey, come quick, here's a soldier," 
and presently a troop of boys came filing into the room and 
ranged themselves round the wall for a good look, and 
stood with their hands in their pockets and open mouths, 
getting what was evidently as good as a circus, and all with- 
out the customary twenty-five cents. One more bold than 
the rest, after walking all round me several times, seemed 
determined to know if I talked like a common man, and 
cautiously approaching mie stammered out, ''How d'ye do?" 
My reply, "I'm well, what's the state of your physical or- 
ganization ?" seem.ed to stun liim, for after looking at me in 
silent wonder a few moments longer the whole party de- 

But I am wandering from my story. I arrived in Phila- 
delphia on my way to my new regiment and new duties on 
the night of the 6th of December, having come via Pitts- 
burgh and Harrisburg. I stopped at the St. Lawrence Ho- 
tel, and I afterwards became quite attached to it as my home 
in town, but I left early in the morning, having ascertained 
that "Camp William Penn" was a few miles out of the city 
on the North Pennsylvania railroad. On the way up I fell 
in with some officers of the regiment, strangers then, but 
now dear friends and comrades, and with them I readily 
found my place of destination, and reported myself, per 
order, to Lieutenant Colonel Louis Wagner, who at once 
ordered me to report for duty to Colonel Fribley of the 
Eighth. As I came near the headquarters of the Eighth I 
saw a group of officers drilling, and among them a familiar 
face, Lieutenant Colonel Bartram, whom I had known as 
the commander of the Seventeenth New York, in the old 
Third Brigade, and who, I was much pleased to learn, was 


now to be my lieutenant colonel. He introduced me to the 
officers and I was at home as much as any of them. I can 
scarcely realize my feelino^s at my first sight of colored 
soldiers. It was all new to me. Everywhere duskv faces 
were flitting about and they looked so black. The little 
shelter tents were alive with negroes in army blue. They 
could not be called soldiers, but they were the raw material, 
and the great question of the hour was, can this material 
be worked up to the condition of efficient soldiery. We who 
had it to work were enthusiastic in our faith as to its suc- 
cess, but yet it was all theory. A year of trial has proved 
the soundness of our belief, and to-day after a year's ex- 
perience I prefer, infinitely almost, black soldiers to white. 
I had some doubts at first, but they were soon swept away, 
and to-day the practicability of employing the negro race as 
soldiers is no longer an experiment but a fact, and a fact 
recognized by the very men who most vehemently opposed 
the experiment. 

I was assigned at once to the command of a company. 
I had not expected this and the situation was embarrassing. 
I who had never had command of so much as a corporal's 
guard stepped at once to all the care and responsibility of 
commanding eighty men. I shrank from it, but there was 
nothing for me but to meet the responsibility. My own 
voice sounded to me in giving commands like a stranger's, 
and everything was new and strange. Mv men looked as 
much alike as a flock of sheep and I could only distinguish 
them by their size. This wore of¥ by degrees, and in two 
weeks I had things in pretty good running order, and then 
the captain arrived. I liked him from the moment I first 
saw him, and I thought, there is just the man to 
put over two such boys as Thompson and myself. All my 
after intercourse with him but strengthened my first im- 
pressions. Always true, kindly, courteous and dignified, 
he was one of nature's noblemen, and though I was not long 
in learning to love and respect him, it was not till I lost him 
that I learned or realized how much I had lost. He died 
for his country. 

Christmas is the negro's holiday, and Christmas at Camp 


William Penn was a great day. The ladies of Philadelphia 
and the vicinity were very much interested in our camp, 
and determined to give the men a Christmas dinner, and 
they did it in excellent style. There was an abundance of 
the good things and every one was filled, and in return for 
their kindness the colonel determined to give them a sight 
of something as near war as peace could be, and after din- 
ner we had a sham battle. There were skirmishers and lines 
of battle, volleys of musketry and furious charges. One 
line with their clothes wrong side out answered very well for 
rebels, and of course they were badly beaten and all taken 
prisoners. The ladies shrieked at the volleys of musketry 
and professed themselves much interested in the perform- 
ance, though one of them remarked to me afterwards it was 
almost too dreadful to be very pleasant. I had been to the 
city quite often during the two weeks. It was only twenty 
minutes' ride and I began to feel less of a stranger then, 
and in the evening I went down with a party of the officers, 
spent a pleasant evening at the theater, and next day on 
coming back to camp I learned that I was to be detailed 
as quartermaster of a recruiting party that was to be sent 
to make a tour through the state of Delaware. We did not 
get ofif till the last day of the year. Went down to the city 
on the cars and thence by steamer to Wilmington. I have 
written pretty full accounts of our experience there in my 
diary for 1864 and with the close of 1863 I will end my 
story. It is not a very interesting one. or would not be to 
others, but you, dear sister, have always been interested in 
any thing connected with me, and I have written this for 
you. It is not the record of great deeds, but the simple 
story of a common soldier, one who has looked as much as 
possible on the sunny side of life, and who, remembering 
your constant interest and love for him, will always be 
Your affectionate brother, 




THE ESCUTCHEON illustrated on the opposite page 
bears the following inscription : 

MENT" FOR 3 months' service, APRIL 21, 1861 RECT. ORGANIZED AT 



VA., DEC. II-I5. "MUD MARCH." JAN'y 20-24, 1863. CHANCELLORS- 

STATION, OCT 14. Kelly's ford, nov. 7 discharged nov. 10, 1863. to 


BRIG., Seymour's div.. dist, of Florida, ioth corps, to april; to dist 

MUSTERED OUT NOV. 10, 1865. 

Note. — The above statement of the military services of the author 
was furnished by the Adjutant General of the Arm}"- from records 
on file in the War Department. It is substantially correct, but con- 
tains two errors. The statement that he was present with his regi- 
ment in the engagements at Raccoon Ford, Brandy Station and 
Bristow Station in October, 1863, and at Newmarket Heights and 
Chapin's Farm, Virginia, September 28. 29 and 30, 1864, is probably 
occasioned by the fact that his absence attending the Examining 
Board in Washington in October, 1863, and in Chesapeake Hospital 
in September, 1864, was not noted on the muster rolls. 



The author of the preceding letters counts among the 
greatest pleasures which he has enjoyed during the years that 
have passed since the close of the civil war, the privilege 
of membership in patriotic societies of survivors of the war. 
Association with men who served the country in its time of 
peril keeps alive the spirit which actuated these men in their 
younger days. 

In that great society of veterans, the Grand Army of the 
Republic, his name is on the roll of the George H. Thomas 
Post, No. 5. 

He is a member of the Western Society of the Army of 
the Potomac, an organization composed of men residing in 
the west, who served in that army. 

In April, 1882, he was elected a Companion of the Mili- 
tary Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, an 
organization of commissioned officers of the army and navy 
who served in defense of the Union during the war of the 
rebellion. Insignia No. 2321. 

In IMay, 1902, the Illinois Commandery of the Loyal 
Legion conferred upon him the great honor of electing him 
its Commander. 

By virtue of this election he was made, according to the 
constitution of the Order, a Life Member of the Command- 
ery-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of 
the United States. 

The members of these societies take a just pride in the 
buttons and badges indicating their membership, because the 
right to wear them cannot be obtained by purchase with 
money, by political influence or favoritism, bv gift of mon- 
arch, nor by anything except actual service to the country 
in war, or inheritance from men who rendered such service. 




Skirmish at Howard's Mill, Va April 4, 1862 

Siege of Yorktown, Va April 5 to May 4, 1862 

Hanover Court House, \'a May 2^ , 1862 

Mechanicsville, Va June 26, 1862 

Gaines' Mill, Va June 27, 1862 

Savage Station, Va June 29, 1862 

White Oak Swamp, Va June 30, 1862 

Glendale, Va June 30, 1862 

Malvern Hill, Va July i, 1862 

Bombardment of Harrison's Landing, Va. . . .July 31, 1862 

Groveton, Va August 29, 1862 

Second Bull Run, Va August 30, 1862 

Antietam, Md September 17, 1862 

Skirmish at Williamsport, Md September 19, 1862 

ShepherdstO'wn Ford, Md September 20, 1862 

Fredericksburg, Va December 11 to 15, 1862 

Chancellorsville, Va April 30 to May 4, 1863 

Middleburg and Goose Creek, Va June 21, 1863 

Gettysburg, Penn July 2 and 3, 1863 

Jones Cross Roads, Md July 10 and 11, 1863 

Skirmish at Funkstown, Md July 14, 1863 

Skirmish at Manassas Gap, Va July 23, 1863 

Rappahannock Station, A^a November 7, 1863 

Olustee, Fla February 20, 1864 

Right of Line near Petersburg, Va August 12, 1864 

Darbytown Road, Va October 13, 1864 





Army of the Potomac, 
Hd. Qrs. 2d Brig., ist Div., ist Corps, 

Centerville, Va., Oct. ij, i86^. 

Major General Casey: 
It gives me great pleasure to commend to your most 
favorable notice, the bearer of this, O. W. Norton, who 
under my command has proved himself a brave and faithful 

I am, General, 

Your most obedient servant, 

J. C. RICE, 
Brig. Genl. Comdg. 2d Brig. 



Camp 8jd Regmt., Pcnn. Vols., 

Near Culpcper, Va., 
September 28, 186^. 

C. W. Foster, A. A. G., 

Chief of Colored Bureau. 

Private Oliver W. Norton of my Company, being per- 
mitted to appear before the Board of Examination of which 
Major General Silas Casey is President, it gives me pleas- 
ure to make the following statement : He enlisted in my 
Company August 28, 1861, and since that time has per- 
formed his duty honestly and faithfully in every respect, 
never having been excused from duty a day from any cause 
whatever. His moral character is exemplary and I am con- 
fident that he would do his duty in a more responsible posi- 
tion as well as he has long done it as a Private. 

I have the honor to be. 
Very respectfully. 

Your most obedient servant, 

Capt. Commdg. Co. K., 83d Rgmt. Penn. Vols. 





Adjutant GenevaVs Office, 

Washington, Nov. lo, i86^. 



2. The following named enlisted men are honorably dis- 
charged the service of the United States, to enable them to 
accept appointment in the U. S. Colored Troops : 

Private O. W. Norton, Company — , Eighty-third Penn- 
sylvania Volunteers. 

By order of the Secretary of War : 

Assistant Adjutant General. 
Official : 

Sam. D. Breck, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 
Respectfully referred to the Commanding Officer Co. K. 
Bv order of O. S. Woodward, Capt. Cmdg. 
' M. G. Corey, Lt. & Act. Adjt. 

This document bears the following endorsements : 

Nov. 17, 1863. $100. U. S. Bounty paid. 

D. Tavlor, P. ]\L U. S. A. 
Paid in full, 

Nov. 17, 1863. 

D. Taylor, Paymaster, U. S. A. 






KNOW YE, That OLIVER W. NORTON, a Private 
of Captain JOHN HECHTMAN'S Company (K), 83rd 
Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, who was enrolled on 
the Twenty-Eighth day of August, one thousand eight hun- 
dred and Sixty-One, to serve Three years or during the 
war, is hereby DISCHARGED from the service of the 
United States, this Tenth dav of November, 1863, at Camp 
near Kellv's Ford, \^a., bv 'reason of SPECIAL ORDER 

(No objection to his being re-enlisted is known to exist.) 

Said Private OLIVER W. NORTON was born in Alle- 
ghany County, in the State of New York, is Twenty-Three 
years of age. Five feet eight inches high, fair complexion, 
blue eyes, brown hair, and by occupation, when enrolled, a 

GIVEN at Camp near Kelly's Ford, this Twenty-third 
day of November, 1863. 

WM. H. LAMONT, Major 

Commanding the Reg't. 

(A. G. O. No. 99.) 







Washington, Nov. 6, i86j. 

You are hereby informed that the President of the Unit- 
ed States has apponited vou FIRST LIEUTENANT in the 
Eighth Regiment, U. S.' COLORED TROOPS, in the ser- 
vice of the United States, to rank as such from the Fifth day 
of November, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three. 

Immediately on receipt hereof, please to communicate to 
this Department, through the ADJUTANT GENERAL of 
the Anny, your acceptance or non-acceptance; and with 
your letter of acceptance, return the OATH herewith en- 
closed, properly filled up, SUBSCRIBED and ATTESTED, 
and report your Age, Birthplace, and the State of which you 
were a permanent resident. 

You will report for duty in person to Lieutenant Colonel 
Wagner, Comdg. Camp Wm. Penn, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Secretary of War. 
1st Lieut. O. W. Norton, 
8th Reg't U. S. Colored Troops. 

This Commission bears the following Endorsement : 

Mustered by D. M. W. Brooke, 

1st Lt. 2d U. S. Infy., Asst. Must. Officer. 
Dec. 21, 1863. 






Head Quarters 8th U. S. C. T., 

Ringgold Barracks, Texas ^ 

August so, i86j. 

General Orders, 
No. i8. 

1st Lieutenant OLIVER W. NORTON, 8th U. S. Col- 
ored Troops, is hereby appointed Regimental Quartermaster, 
8th U. S. Colored Troops. 

He will be obeyed and respected accordingly. 

By order of 

Col. Sam'l C. Armstrong. 
James L. Decker, 
1st Lieut, and Adjutant 
8th U. S. Colored Troops. 






KNOW YE, That OLIVER W. NORTON, a ist Lieut, 
and R. Q. M., 8th Regiment of United States Colored In- 
fantry, who was enrolled on the Fifth (5th) day of No- 
vember, one thousand eight hundred and Sixty-three 
(1863), to serve Three years, or during the war, is hereby 
DISCHARGED from the service of the United States, this 
Tenth day of November, 1865, at Brownsville, Texas, by 
reason of Orders from War Dept., dated Sept. 8th, 1865. 

(No objection to his being re-enlisted is known to exist.) 

Said OLIVER W. NORTON was born in Angelica, 
Ally Co., in the State of New York, is 26 years of age, 5 
feet, 10 inches high, light complexion, dark eyes, dark hair, 
and by occupation when appointed, a Soldier. 

GIVEN at Brownsville, Texas, this Tenth day of No- 
vember, 1865. 

Capt. ii6th U. S. C. T. and 
A. C. AI. 2d Div. 25th A. C. 

Mustering Officer. 
Col. 8th U. S. C. T. 
Comd'g Regiment. 

This document bears the following endorsement: 

Paid in full at Philadelphia, December 10, 1865, $550.59. 

Paymaster U. S. A. 



Many histories and records relating to our late war have 
been written, and many more will yet be written, histories 
that go over the whole ground from the writer's standpoint, 
histories from the Union side and from the Confederate, 
histories of armies, of divisions, of regiments, and even 
of companies, biographies of officers and privates, his- 
tories of the volunteers who went from certain towns, his- 
tories of hospitals and staff departments — but far the most 
interesting to the actors and to their friends is the un- 
written history which might be made from the experience 
of the men who think their individual deeds and thoughts 
not worth the writing, but to whom those army years make 
up a large part of their real lives. 

Army life was not all battle, wounds and death, although 
the soldier is accustomed in recalling it to think more of 
such incidents perhaps, than any other. Strange coinci- 
dences came now and then to the lives of many. The 
story of a certain knapsack would be interesting if we 
knew it all — but we know only the beginning and the end, 
and some confederate soldier might perhaps supply the miss- 
ing link if he knew what became of his captured knapsack. 
Before telling w^hat we do know of it, let me speak of one 
curious experience in battle which those who participated 
in probably did not meet again, though they became veterans, 
and this was their first great battle. At the battle of 
Gaines' Mill, the second of the seven days battles on the 
Peninsula in Virginia, the left of the Union army rested 
just where the rolling broken country terminated in a 
level plain, perhaps one-third of a mile wide, reaching to 
the Chickahominy. The creek on which the mill was situ- 
ated here ran through a deep wooded gully with very steep 


sides, the fields on either side being cleared and cultivated 
as near the bank as they could be plowed. Early in the 
morning position was taken here. One line was placed in 
the bottom of the gully, and the second on the bank with the 
gully as a ditch in its front, and instructions given to build 
a breastwork as rapidly as possible and hold the place at all 
hazards. The men took of¥ their knapsacks, each company's 
being placed in a pile by themselves, and soon were forti- 
fied in what they felt sure was an impregnable position. 
The enemy might succeed in reaching the bank of the gully, 
but only to find a fresh and eager line of rifles waiting for 
their appearance. In the afternoon they made three sep- 
arate attempts to drive back our line, and here occurred that 
singular incident. The line in the gully could see nothing, 
but were between two fires. Shells and bullets whistled and 
screamed among the trees overhead, but could not harm 
them except as some were hurt by falling branches. The 
roar and din were fearful, but the men below stood steadily 
with rifles aimed at the top of the bank, waiting for the 
enemy. Three times they appeared and instantly wavered 
and fell back as they met the fire of that lower line. Sud- 
denly, however, there was strange excitement. Hurried or- 
ders to face to the rear — bullets coming from that direction 
where our friends had been but shortly before. Our line 
had been broken farther up the stream, and the enemy had 
doubled round on us until that regiment in the gully was 
nearly bagged. There was no escape but the mouth of the 
bag, now rapidly closing. The men departed hastily from 
that place, not waiting for furtlier orders, and so that 
knapsack came to be turned over to Stonewall Jackson. The 
Eighty-third Pennsylvania had a peculiar knapsack, part of 
an outfit for a regiment, sent over from France early in the 
war, and except the regiment thus furnished there were no 
others like it in the army. It was made of calf skin tanned 
with the hair on. The time passed on. McClellan was 
removed from command, reinstated and again removed. 
Burnside had given way to Hooker when the movement that 
culminated in the battle of Chancellorsville wtis begun. The 


Confederate army, intrenched on the heights behind Freder- 
icksburg, had its outposts encamped several miles north on 
the Rappahannock. When the movement began, the regi- 
ment had lost its knapsacks at Gaines' Mill was the first 
to cross the river above the Confederate outposts, and came 
marching down on them in a way that gave them little time 
to strike tents and prepare to move. They fell back hastily 
to the main army. Marching steadily on, our skirmish 
line passed through their camp. They found it necessary 
to examine the tents as they came to them. As one of the 
Eighty-third Pennsylvania entered a tent, the first object 
that met his eyes was a hairy knapsack lying on the Confed- 
erate's apology for a bed. He seized it with a shout, turned 
back the flap, and neatly lettered on the inside was his own 
name, company and regiment, and better than all, as soon 
as he could examine the contents, he found among some 
Confederate clothing that he did not care to keep, a little 
packet of letters addressed to himself and a photograph of 
the girl he left behind him. The knapsack, the letters and 
the pictures are all carefully preserved by a family in west- 
ern Pennsylvania, and the soldier who found it says he 
always had an idea he should get that knapsack back from 
Stonewall Jackson, but did not expect it just in that way. 

The battle of Chancellorsville was fought almost wholly 
in the woods called the Wilderness, and was a skirmishing, 
desultory fight for most of the time. The night before the 
main battle was one of wonderful beauty in the woods. The 
men lay on their arms ready for action at a moment's no- 
tice. The full moon shone calmly on the scene, and never 
was a greater contrast, perhaps, between nature and man 
than was developed that night. At times the rattle of mus- 
ketry would cease, then one by one, feebly at first but gain- 
ing courage from each other, the whippoorwills would be- 
gin their song. The woods were full of them, and the 
night was full of their mournful music. Suddenly the 
sharp rattle of musketry would be heard in the distance, 
and rolling along the line, and the frightened birds would 
cease their singing at once. So they alternated all night, 
and many of those who were in the Wilderness will recall 


this as one of the strangest and saddest nights in their army 

During- AlcClellan's command the Army of the Potomac 
was strictl}- discipHned in the matter of respecting private 
property. If pigs or chickens came into camp it must be 
by purchase or clandestinely. Lee's army in its inroad into 
Pennsylvania were not so particular. They took everything 
they found that would be of use to them, and made general 
havoc of the farms along their road. When they were 
driven back to Virginia and our army followed them, the 
impression seemed to be general that such orders would not 
be so strictly enforced when we reached the enemy's terri- 
tory again. Crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, the 
first night in Virginia was spent in Loudon County, a few 
miles south of the Ferry. The Fifth Corps bivouacked on 
a farm that apparently had been Httle injured by the war, 
fences and buildings in good condition. The arms were 
quickly stacked and preparations for the night began. The 
fences disappeared like dew before the morning sun. The 
great straw stacks by the barn were quickly distributed 
through the camp. The farmer watched these proceedings 
with looks of dismay, but his language was quite in contrast. 
He made no protest against anything, but was constantly 
talking to the men after this fashion : "You-uns are the 
nicest lot of men I ever saw. Why, they don't touch noth- 
in'. When our fo'ces was here they took everything the 
people had, but you-uns don't touch nothin'." The straw 
trailing across the fields rather contradicted his statements, 
but he persisted in them, shouting now and then to his wife 
and daughters, who were catching all the turkeys and chick- 
ens and putting them into the smoke house. Some one 
asked him after one of his complimentary speeches if he 
always shut up his poultry in that wav- He was a little dis- 
concerted at first, but replied quickly, ''Oh, yes, I always 
have to shut them up. They wander about so nights." 
They did wander that night and the old man saw them no 

On that terrible Saturday night succeeding the battle 
of Fredericksburg, one brigade of the Fifth Corps had 
succeeded in forcing their way just after dark to a position 


within eighty or one hundred yards of the Confederate 
forts, and there they spent the night. When morning broke 
they found themselves cut off from the rest of the army 
which had retired to the town, and protected from the fire 
of the enemy only by a low rise of ground which sheltered 
them only when they lay flat upon the ground. The enemy 
had a line of sharpshooters who busied themselves in firing 
at every man who showed himself, and they were so near 
it was dangerous to lift a head above the crest. Durmg 
the morning detachments of the enemy were seen moving to 
the left, evidently with the mtention of cutting off the brig- 
ade and taking them prisoners. The general in command 
wished to send a message to the division commander to 
ask for assistance, but hesitated to ask a staff of^cer to go 
on a mission that seemed certain death. The only route to 
the town was over an open plain in full range of all the 
enemy's sharpshooters, and no one had crossed it alive since 
morning. A private soldier volunteered to go, and taking 
the message written on the back of an envelope, and say- 
ing a few words of farewell to one of his comrades, with 
a message for home, he buttoned his coat round him and 
started. A low shed which stood beside the road protected 
him from the nearest sharpshooters for a few rods. No 
grass grew under his feet as he ran. The rifles cracked 
rapidly and the bullets whistled by him, tearing up the 
ground by his feet, one passed through his sleeve, another 
through his cap, when suddenly he fell to the ground, rolled 
over and was still. His comrades had been anxiously watch- 
ing him and saw him fall with a thrill of sorrow. The ene- 
my sent up a taunting cheer which seemed to say, ''Send 
another one,'' but few would care to run the gauntlet with 
his fate before them, but as ihey sorrowfully looked where 
he lay, all at once he sprang to his feet and was tearing over 
the plain at a speed that took him out of range before the 
sharpshooters recovered from their astonishment. He had 
not been hurt at all. His fall was a ruse to stop the firing, 
which was coming uncomfortably near. He delivered his 
message and received the answer, and now came the hardest 
part of his duty. It had been comparatively easy to run 


down hill, when every step took him farther from danger. 
Now he must run into it. A part of the way back he fol- 
lowed a railroad cut which shortened the space he must run 
under fire, but the end of his route was still across the open 
plain, and unprotected by the shed which had shielded him 
W'hen he started. But the kind Providence that had pro- 
tected him before devised help again. One regiment of the 
brigade was the Tw^entieth Maine, a new regiment just in 
the field, and but little drilled. An enthusiastic lieutenant 
thought it a good time to exercise his men in the manual, 
and as the soldier peered carefully over the bank of the 
railroad cut, to reconnoitre the situation, he heard the 
jVIaine lieutenant command : "Fire by rank. Rear rank, at 
the brick house, Aim, Fire ! Front rank, at the stone wall, 
Aim, Fire!" The sharpshooters heard him, too, and during 
that little exercise kept themselves out of sight. The soldier 
improved the opportunity and was soon safe behind the knoll 
with his comrades. 

Colonel Strong Vincent commanded this brigade for 
some time and proved himself one of the most gallant sol- 
diers in the army. When Lee's army started down the 
Shenandoah on the campaign that ended with Gettysburg, 
the Union army moved northward, keeping between him and 
Washington. General J. E. B. Stuart's cavalry moved on 
his fiank on the east side of the mountains and, crossing the 
Loudon valley, hovered round the flank of our army. Pleas- 
anton's cavalry had been sent to drive them back and had 
forced them back into the Loudon valley, but could make 
no headway then on account of the nature of the country, 
and asked that a brigade of infantry be detailed to assist 
them. Vincent's brigade was sent, and early in the morn- 
ing of the twenty-first of June they marched out of the 
little village of Aldie to the crest of the hill west of the 
tow^n of Middlebury. The scene that met their eyes was 
a beautiful one. The Loudon valley at that time had not 
been disturbed by either army and was the garden spot of 
Virginia, in all the glory of early summer. A broad turn- 
pike ran directly west across the valley to Ashby's Gap in 
the Blue Ridge. On either side were fertile farms and 


good buildings, and all the fences both along the road and 
at right angles with it were stone walls, and this was the 
feature that stopped our cavalry. The country was slightly 
rolling. The enemy had posted a battery of flying artillery 
on the top of the opposite hill and had a line of dismounted 
cavalry behind a wall at the foot of the hill between us, 
and with the main body of their cavalry out of sight behind 
the hill they waited our coming. Vincent surveyed the 
scene a moment, then ordered one of his regiments to march 
to the left and flank this line of skirmishers. This was 
done as rapidly as possible, and as the infantry came down 
on them the cavalry had a sudden call to see about their 
horses and hurried over the hill. Four times this maneu- 
ver was repeated. Our cavalry moved up as soon as the 
infantry dislodged the enemy's skirmishers, but took no 
part in the action. The infantry were getting tired by 
their long and exciting march, when they came out on the 
top of a hill overlooking a valley through which flowed a 
stream apparently of little depth, although, being fringed 
by a dense growth of alders, but little could be seen of it. 
The enemy had retreated beyond this stream, and had placed 
a heavy pole diagonally across the bridge to prevent our 
cavalry making a charge. Our skirmishers advanced to 
the stream, but finding it too deep to ford without wetting 
their ammunition, had halted, and contented themselves with 
keeping a desultory firing at such of the enemy as showed 
themselves. Pleasanton sent an aid to Vincent to say 
that if he would take that bridge and remove the pole the 
cavalry would make a charge. Vincent, who was a little 
nettled that the cavalry had left him to do all the work so 
far, replied shortly, ''Bring on your cavalry, the bridge will 
be ready." He was a gallant horseman himself and rode a 
magnificent horse. Sending word to the skirmishers to 
keep up a lively fire, then starting at full speed for the 
bridge, drawing his sword and flashing it in the sun, he 
shouted at the top of his voice and so as to be plainly heard 
by the enemy, "There they go, boys! Now give them 
. !" Well, no matter what he said. Some of our brav- 
est and best were not always particular about their language 


in such exciting times. The enemy heard it and once more 
took to their heels. Their officers ran hither and thither 
trying to stop them, but it was no use. The pole was off 
the bridge in a trice. The cavalry came thundering down 
the road and went over the hill with a whoop and cheer that 
frightened the rebels so that they did not stop until they 
reached the plam at the foot of Ashby's Gap, and our brigade 
returned to join the main body of the army. 

Both armies moved rapidly northward, and in a few days 
had crossed Maryland and were in Pennsylvania. Vincent's 
brigade passed through the town of Hanover at midnight 
of the 30th of June, on the way to Gettysburg. For more 
than four weeks they had been on the march, never sleeping 
twice in the same place. All their experience so far had 
been in the enemy's country, but now they were among 
friends. The whole country was aroused. The Union flag 
was displayed at every house. Groups of girls were on 
every porch along the route, handkerchiefs waved, the town 
rang with their patriotic songs, and the men cheered and 
sang as they marched along, weary with long marches, but 
buoyant and confident of victory. As the moon rose above 
the trees, the old battle flag of the Eighty-third Pennsyl- 
vania, the leading regiment of the brigade, was unfurled and 
glistened in the moonlight above the marching men. Vin- 
cent removed his hat as he rode behind it, and said to his 
adjutant who rode by his side, ''What death more glorious 
could any man desire than to die on the soil of old Pennsyl- 
vania fighting for that flag?" and the next day he met that 
glorious death on the field of Gettysburg. 




The bugle was much used in the army. The carrying 
quality of its tones made it possible to convey commands to 
a great distance in times of quiet, and even in the roar of 
battle its shrill notes could be distinctly heard. The reveille 
which waked the soldier from his slumber in camp or 
bivouac and the order to put out the lights at night were 
sounded on the bugle. There were calls to breakfast, dinner 
and supper. Men in camp unfit for duty were summoned 
to the surgeon's tent by the sick call. The skirmish line in 
battle was ordered to deploy, to advance, to commence fir- 
ing, to lie down, to cease firing, to retreat, to rally on the 
reserve, and to execute many other movements by various 
calls on the bugle. There were calls for sergeants to report 
to the adjutant, for officers to report to the colonel, for com- 
panies to form for roll-call, for regiments to form line of 
battle on the colors, to advance in line of battle and to re- 
treat, to change direction in marching, to strike tents and 
prepare to march, and many others. No cavalryman will 
ever forget the stirring call of ''Boots and Saddles." 

When General McClellan was organizing the Army of 
the Potomac near Washington in the autumn of 1861, the 
camps along the line were very near together, and the con- 
stant drilling, to the sound of the bugle, of the various regi- 
ments and brigades often caused confusion in understanding 
orders. General Daniel Butterfield, who organized a brig- 
ade at this time, known at first as ''Butterfield's Brigade," 
saw at an early date the necessity of doing something to 
prevent this confusion. Butterfield had a genius for mili- 
tary matters, which later secured for him high rank in the 
Army of the Potomac and in the western armies. He could 
himself sound the bugle calls when occasion required. 
Shortly after he assumed command of the brigade, he com- 
posed, and taught the writer, then serving as his brigade 


bugler, a bugle call for his brigade. This consisted of three 
long notes on one key, and a catch repeated. It was sound- 
ed twice before each call for any operation or movement, 
and indicated to the officers and men that the call to follow 
was for the troops of this brigade. General Butterfield also 
prepared different calls for the regimental bugler of each 
regiment in his brigade. The men were accustomed to sing 
various w^ords to the accompaniment of the bugle calls when 
they heard them. Most of these words were explanatory of 
the meaning of the call, or were jocose comments on the 
command. When the reveille was sounded men could be 
heard through the camps singing: 

'T can't wake 'em up, I can't wake 'em up, I can't wake 'em 
up in the morning, 
I can't wake 'em up. T can't wake 'em up, I can't wake 'em 
up at all. 
The corporal's worse than the private, the sergeant's worse 
than the corporal. 
The lieutenant's w^orse than the sergeant and the captain's 
worst of all. 
I can't w^ake 'em up, I can't wake 'em up, I can't wake 'em 
up in the morning, 
I can't wake 'em up. I can't wake 'em up, I can't wake 'em 
up at all." 

These words exactly fitted the notes of the bugle. When 
the sick call sounded, the men sang, "AH ye sick men, all ye 
sick men, get your calomel, get your calomel, get your calo- 
mel, get your calomel." Sometimes they sang, "Doctor 
Jones says, Doctor Jones says, come and get your quinine, 
quinine, quinine, come and get your quinine, qui-i-ni-i-ine." 

\Mien, on the march, the general halted his brigade in- 
tending to give the men an opportunity for a few moment's 
rest, the brigade call was sounded, then the call to halt, then 
a most welcome call of three short notes repeated, to which 
the great chorus responded along the line, "All lie down, 
all lie down." When the march was to be resumed the 
brigade call was again sounded, followed by the less wel- 
come call, ''Attention !" To this the men responded in 
words well suited to the music: 


"Fall in ye poor devils as fast as ye can, 
And when ye get tired I'll rest you again." 

Words were set to many other calls, but one which lasted 
from Arlington Heights to Appomattox, was the interpreta- 
tion of the brigade call. To this the men sang : 

''Dan, Dan, Dan Butterfield, Butterfield, 
Dan, Dan, Dan Butterfield, Butterfield." 

The general used to say that sometimes in trying circum- 
stances when the brigade was called up from a too short rest, 
he thought he could distinguish the words, "Damn, Damn, 
Damn Butterfield." This is not very probable. The men 
of that old brigade so much admired their gallant leader 
that nothing he could do would cause them to use such dis- 
respectful language. 

The general calls were used throughout the Union army. 
The music of the calls was printed in the Tactics where 
they could be studied and learned by officers whose duty it 
was to understand them and repeat in words to the men un- 
der their command the orders indicated by the bugle. This 
brigade call was used only by Butterfield's brigade and was 
not printed in the Tactics. 


a^^ i^t 







This special call for an organization was useful in many 
ways. It had no small effect in arousing and maintaining 
an esprit de corps in this brigade, second to none in the 
army. It was known by all troops of the Army of the Po- 
tomac, and the brigade which marched to its music was 
always respected and welcomed by its comrades in arms as 


an orq"anization to he trusted, and sure to oive a i^ood account 
of itself under all circumstances. 

The rout of the Union army at the second battle of Bull 
Run was for a time much greater than that which occurred 
at the first liattle, a]thou,<^h the men having- become veterans, 
order was more quickly restored. After making a gallant 
charge which was received by masked batteries and mus- 
ketry in front, the line also being enfiladed by a large part 
of Longstreet's artillery, the men fell back in confusion. 
At the turnpike all trace of organization was lost. Dark- 
ness came on and the blockade at the Stone Bridge broke 
up whatever semblance of order remained. Between the 
Stone Bridge and Centreville the turnpike was filled with a 
disorganized mass of infantry, artillery, ambulance and 
wagon trains. General Butterfield, riding in the midst of 
the melee, ordered his bugler to sound at short intervals 
his brigade call. It was received with shouts from all direc- 
tions, and the men of this brigade, rallying to that call in 
the darkness, were formed into column, and marched into 
Centreville in better order than that prevailing in almost 
any other command. 

In September, 1889, O"^ ^^ the regiments of this brigade 
met on Little Round Top, Gettysburg, to dedicate its regi- 
mental monument and to hold the annual reunion of the sur- 
vivors of the regiment. Few of them had seen the battle- 
field since July, 1863. The writer, attending this reunion, 
took with him a bugle, and standing among the rocks and 
trees sounded once more the old Dan Butterfield Call. The 
men were scattered about over the hill and in the lowei 
ground at its foot, some seeking the rocks where they 
fought, others going further to see how the position looked 
from the place where the enemy advanced. When the 
bugle sounded a great shout came up from the men, who 
recognized the old familiar call, although many of them had 
not heard it for a quarter of a century. They came charg- 
ing up to the spot where the bugler stood, some with tears 
in their eyes, asking to have it repeated. That familiar 
sound echoing among the rocks where thev had fought 
brought back, perhaps more vividly than words could do, 


the memories of the days when they had answered so often 
to its sound. Few men of the old Third Brigade can hear 
that call to-day without emotion. 

One day in July, 1862, when the Army of the Potomac 
was in camp at Harrison's Landing- on the James river, 
Virginia, resting and recruiting from its losses in the seven 
days of battle before Richmond, General Butterfield sum- 
moned the writer, his brigade bugler, to his tent, and 
whistling some new tune asked the bugler to sound it for 
him. This was done, not quite to his satisfaction at first, 
but after repeated trials, changing the time of some of the 
not<"s. which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, 
the call was finally arranged to suit the general. He then 
ordered that it should be substituted in his brigade for the 
regulation ''Taps" (extinguish Ughts) w4iich was printed 
in the Tactics and used by the whole army. This was done 
for the first tim.e that night. The next day buglers from 
near-by brigades came over to the camp of Butterlield's 
brigade to ask the meaning of this new call. They liked 
it, and copying the music returned to their camps, but it 
was not until some time later, when generals of other com- 
mands had heard its melodious notes, that orders were 
issued, or permission given, to substitute it throughout the 
Army of the Potomac for the time-honored call which 
came down from West Point. 

In the western armies the regulation call was in use 
until the autumn of 1863. At that time the Eleventh and 
Twelfth corps were detached from the Army of the Potomac 
and sent under command of General Hooker to reinforce the 
Union army at Chattanooga. Through its use in these corps 
it became known in the western armies and was adopted 
by them. From that time it became and remains to this 
day the official call for 'Taps." It is printed in the present 
Tactics and is used throughout the United States Army, 
the National Guard, and all organizations of veteran sol- 

General Butterfield in speaking of the reason for chang- 
ing the call for "Taps," said that the regulation call was 
not very musical and not appropriate to the order which 


it conveyed. He wanted a call which in its music should 
have some suggestion of putting out tlic lights and lying 
down to rest in the silence of the camp, and musing over 
airs and musical phrases which might better represent this 
idea, he composed this call and directed its use in the camps 
of his brigade, the only troops over which he had at that 
time any authority. It made its way by its intrinsic beauty 
to a permanent place in the minds and hearts of the sol- 

In accordance with the custom of attaching words to 
such calls as had a significance to which words were adapted, 
the men soon began to sing to this call, "Go to sleep, go to 
sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. You may now 
go to sleep, go to sleep." This was the last regular call 
of the day or night in camp. About half an hour after the 
formation of a company for evening roll-call, to which 
it was summoned by the "Tattoo," this call was sounded 
as a signal to put out all lights in tents, stop all loud con- 
versation, and everything which would interfere with the 
quiet rest and sleep of the men. Sometimes they sang, 
"Put out the lights, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to 
sleep. Put out the lights, go to sleep, go to sleep." 

General Butterfield in composing this call and directing 
that it be used for "Taps" in his brigade, could not have 
foreseen its popularity and the use for another purpose 
into which it w^ould grow. To-day whenever a man is buried 
with military honors anywhere in the United States, the 
ceremony is concluded by firing three volleys of musketry 
over the grave, and sounding with the trumpet or bugle, 
"Put out the lights. Go to sleep." At the Soldiers' Homes, 
when the w^orn-out veterans of the Grand Army of the Re- 
public lie down to their last rest, while their comrades 
stand about the grave with bared heads, some comrade bids 
farew^ell by sounding on the bugle this call to "Go to sleep." 
At all posts of our little regular army, whether at garrisons 
or at the distant frontier camps, a soldier who is buried 
by his comrades receives this last salute. When General 
Butterfield was buried at West Point a few months ago, 
the solemn strains of this call bade the last farewell to its 


author. It consigned to their last rest Sheridan at Ar- 
lington, Sherman at St. Louis, Grant at New York and 
McKinley at Canton. 

There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate 
in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are mel- 
ancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in 
the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the 


Like Handel's Largo, it is immortal. 

Put out the lights. Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to 





iSt — 7- 

sleep. Put out the lights. Go to sleep, Go to sleep. 



O. W. Norton. 

When General Hooker assumed command of the Army 
of the Potomac early in 1863, he selected General Daniel 
Butterfield for his Chief of Staff. The army at this time 
was considerably discouraged and demoralized by the use- 
less slaughter at the battle of Fredericksburg and the melan- 
choly failure of Burnside's "stick-in-the-mud" march. Gen- 
eral Butterheld was a firm believer in the advantage of the 
esprit de corps and fertile in resources for producing it. 
It existed in a limited way in companies, regiments, and 
possibly in some few brigades, but these organizations lost 
their identity in the great army. The "Grand Divisions" 
of "Right," "Left" and "Center," were armies in them- 
selves, and too large to make possible any feeling of unity 
between their component parts. There had been army 
corps before, but it seems to have been determined by Gen- 
eral Hooker to abandon the "Grand Division" idea and 
make the Army Corps the unit for military operations. 

General Butterfield, believing heartily in the plan of his 
chief, conceived the idea of giving to each of these army 
corps a distinctive badge which should be worn only by 
the officers and men of this corps and distinguish them 
from all other organizations. Each corps was divided 
into three divisions, and each division into three brigades. 
Cloth badges of distinct forms were selected and furnished 
to each officer and soldier, to be worn conspicuously on the 
hat or cap. The badge selected for the First Corps was a 
disc, that for the Second Corps a trefoil (called 
by the men, "Ace of Clubs"). The Third Corps badge 
was a lozenge or diamond. The Fifth Corps had the Maltese 
cross. The Sixth Corps wore the Greek' cross, the XintK 
Corps a shield, the Eleventh Corps a crescent, and the 


Twelfth Corps a star. The Fourth, Seventh, Eighth and 
Tenth corps were in other armies. 

The badges were of three colors— red, white and blue. 
The badge of the first division of each corps was red, that 
of the second division white and that of the third division 
blue. With these badges on the caps of the men it was 
possible to know at once in what division any man in the 
Army of the Potomac belonged. The red Maltese cross on 
a cap denoted that the soldier was a member of the First 
Division, Fifth Corps— a white trefoil that he belonged in 
the Second Division, Second Corps. A blue star located him 
in the Third Division, Twelfth Corps. 

When large bodies of troops were moving it was often 
difficult to distinguish the commander of any given brigade 
from any of the mounted officers in his vicinity. A staff 
officer coming from a corps or division headquarters with 
an order for any brigade commander, would sometimes 
ride two or three times up and down his line before finding 
him. In this way valuable time was lost. General Butter- 
field devised a plan by which the commander of any brigade 
in the army could be readily found at any time when it 
was light enough to distinguish a flag. He ordered that 
each brigade commander should be provided with a special 
brigade flag which should be displayed at his headquarters 
tent when in camp, and carried by a mounted man with 
him wherever he went when his command was under arms. 
These brigade flags were in the form of an equilateral 
triangle. No two brigade flags were alike, but each was 
made up of some combination of the three colors, red, white 
and blue. The flags of the brigades in each first division had 
a blue border in whole or in part, with a white center on 
which ^ was the corps badge in red. The first brigade, ' 
first division of any corps had a blue stripe six inches wide 
on the side of the triangle next the staff, but no stripes at 
top or bottom. The second brigade had no stripe next the 
staff, but a blue stripe at top and bottom. The third brigade 
had a blue stripe on each of the three sides of the triangle 
The brigade flag of the Third Brigade, First Division,' 
Fifth Corps had a white center on which was displayed 


a large red Maltese cross, and was bordered on all three 
sides with a blue stripe. The brigade flags of the second 
divisions had blue centers with white badges and red bor- 
ders. The brigades of the third divisions of each corps had 
flags with white centers, blue badges and red borders. By 
means of these flags a staff oflicer or a general could know 
without asking any questions, at any time when he could see 
the flag, the brigade, division and corps of any troops 
within sight. 

The order instituting corps badges in the Army of the 
Potomac was issued March 21, 1863, and that prescribing 
flags for the several brigades of this army. May 12, 1863. 
These orders, as given in the Official Records published by 
the War Department, are as follows : 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 21, 186^. 

CIRCULAR : — For the purpose of ready recognition of 
corps and divisions in this amiy, and to prevent injustice 
by reports of straggling and misconduct through mistakes, 
to its organization, the Chief Quartermaster will furnish 
without delay the following badges, to be worn by the 
officers and enlisted men of all the regiments of the various 
corps mentioned. They will be securely fastened upon the 
center of the top of the cap. 

Inspecting officers will at all inspections see that these 
badges are worn as designated : 






1st div. 


2nd div. white. 










Maltese Cross 











The sizes and colors will be according to pattern. 

By command of ^^^^^ GENERAL HOOKER. 

S. WILLIAMS. Assistant Adjutant General. 

Rebellion Record, Series I, Vol. XXV, Part IL, Pagei^2. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Camp near Falmouth, Va., 

May 12, i86j. 

Number 53. 


The flags for the divisions of the different corps of this 
army will be as follows : 

For the first division of each corps, a white rectangular 
flag, with the symbol of the corps in red. 

For the second division of each corps, a blue rectangular 
flag, with the symbol of the corps in white. 

For the third division of each corps, a white rectangu- 
lar flag, with the symbol of the corps in blue. 

For the Hght division of the Sixth Corps, a white rect- 
angular flag, with the symbol of the corps in green. 

The brigades of the first division of each corps, a white 
triangular flag, with the symbol of the corps in red in the 

The first brigade, no other stripe or mark. 

The second brigade, a blue stripe, six inches wide, next 
the lance. 

The third brigade, a blue border, four and one-half 
inches wide, all round the flag. 

The brigades of the second division of each corps, blue 
triangular flag; symbol of the corps in white in the center. 

First brigade, no other stripe or mark. 

Second brigade, red stripe, six inches wide, next the 

Third brigade, red border, four and one-half inches 
wide, around the flag. 

The brigades of the third division of each corps, white 
triangular flag: symbol of the corps in blue in center. 

First brigade, no other stripe or mark. 

Second brigade, red stripe, six inches wide, next the 


Third brigade, red border, four and one-half inches 
wide, all round the flag. 

The Chief Quartermaster will furnish the flags upon 
requisitions approved by the corps commander. 

By command of 


Assistant Adjutant General. 

Rebellion Record, Series I., Vol. XXV., Part 11. , Pages 

From the above order it would appear that tlie flags of 
first brigades had two colors only, with no stripes. Al- 
though I have not been able to find a later order modifying 
the above, my recollection is that an order was issued mak- 
ing each brigade flag a combination of the three colors, 
red, white and blue, and that the flags of the first brigades 
of each division had one stripe next the staff, second bri- 
gades two stripes, and third brigades three stripes, with 
colors as specified in General Order Number 53. 

The soldiers very soon became fond and extremely proud 
of their corps badges. There was a generous rivalry be- 
tween the men who wore the cross and those who wore the 
trefoil, the star, or the diamond, and the wearers of each 
badge were stimulated to maintain the glory of their own 
organization. Every regiment carried the national colors 
and some the colors of their state in addition, but these 
were common to the whole army. Men could not have the 
same feelings toward other men on account of their mem- 
bership in the Army of the Potomac as they had toward 
the men who wore the badge of their own corps or division. 

This device of the corps badge was carried to the 
western armjes by the Eleventh and Twelfth corps when 
they went to join the army at Chattanooga, and was adopted 
by the corps of that army, and the men along the Missis- 
sippi and other sections in the theater of war. 








What man is there of all this assembly whose thought 
does not go back to-day in tender remembrance of one or 
more of those four hundred and thirty brave hearts who 
gave up their lives on some one of these thirty-one battle- 
fields from Yorktown to Appomattox, or in some hospital, 
where, after the battle, he was carried suffering from 
wounds that made him envy the fate of comrades to whom 
the instant summons came with the sharp crack of a rebel 
rifle or the shriek of the bursting shell? 

Is there one who has not some morning shared his cof- 
fee and hard tack with a dear friend, gone on the cold and 
muddy march, or along the dusty, weary way with him, 
laughing, chatting, singing the old marching songs to 
lighten the step, and at night, after the battle, lain down 
alone in the bivouac, the voice of that comrade hushed for- 
ever, his body only waiting to be laid with other fallen 
heroes in that long trench? 

Is there one who has not been appealed to by the wife, 
the mother or the sister of the dear one, for something more 
definite than the brief official report, 'Killed at Gaines' 
Mill,'-' "Killed at Malvern Hill," "Killed at Gettysburg"? 

Is there one whose heart has not bled with sympathy 
for the friends of his comrade, strangers to him perhaps, 
as seated under his shelter tent with a cracker box for 
table, he tried to write something that would comfort the 
sad hearts, telling how bright and cheerful their dear one 


had been that last day, how gloriously he fought until 
struck down, how often he had spoken of the loved ones 
at home, and asked in the phrase that put death far away, 
that they might be written to if "anything happened" to 
him ? 

Have the years that have passed since brought to us any 
stronger friendships than those formed by us who "drank 
from the same canteen"? Those were glorious days when, 
with the blood of youth coursing through our veins, we 
consecrated ourselves to the Stars and Stripes, and de- 
voted ourselves to the preservation of the government of 
the people, by the people, and for the people. We were 
all willing to die if need be. Some were taken and others 

It is meet that we come to this holy ground, conse- 
crated to freedom by the Hfe blood of a host of fallen 
comrades, and bring our wives, our sons and daughters, that 
with us they may feel the spirit of this place, may know 
what here their fathers did, and what their mothers whose 
hearts were on this field suffered; and while we renew our 
vow of undying allegiance to the government saved by 
blood, make their vow to preserve it when we have gone 
to join our comrades. 

What shall we say to-day of those who fell in the 
struggle? A year would not be long enough to mention 
by name the more than forty men of each company, and 
recount the glorious deeds of each. Military rank was 
an accident or incident of the service. It has perished. 
Privates, captains, colonels, are melted into an army of 
heroes. Each did his duty in his place and has gone to his 
reward. We, privates and officers, meet to-day with rank 
abolished, and as citizens and heirs of the rich inheritance 
they left us, honor their memory. 

Each of us has in his heart the memory of some com- 
rade who fell, dear to him but perhaps unknown to most 
of the twenty-two hundred and seventy men who from first 
to last made up the Eighty-third. Not four years of service 
could suffice to make all the men of the regiment personally 
known to each other, but that service did suffice to inspire 


in the heart of every member a feeling of security and 
invincibility in the line of battle, when, standing to defend 
or advancing to attack, he knew that the men on his right 
and left wore on their caps those silver letters "83 P. V.'' 
and that touching elbows with the last one on the flank was 
that other one of "Butterfield's Twins," the Forty-fourth 
New York. 

Some few of the hundreds who fell, by reason of official 
position, came into personal relation with all. Is there one 
here to-day of the thousand stalwart bayonets who followed 
the gallant AIcLane across the Long Bridge on the first 
entrance of the Eighty-third into Virginia, who can ever 
forget him or cease to mourn his untimely fate ? His noble 
presence alone was an inspiration. His faithful drilling of 
the regiment during the weary months at Hall's Hill had 
much to do with its later efficiency. When, passing along 
that restless line at Gaines' Mill, he replied to the men who 
were tired of watching for the enemy that would not 
come, ''Boys, you will see enough of them before night/' 
his words seemed a prophecy of his own fate. 

Who can forget the gentle Naghel, who died beside 
McLane before he had time to more than begin making a 
name as Major of the Eighty-third? 

To those who saw Lieutenant Plympton White at 
Gaines' Mill, when the regiment was almost surrounded 
and summoned to surrender, and heard his scornful ''Hell! 
the Eighty-third Pennsylvania never surrenders" — worthy 
of Victor Hugo's Cambronne at Waterloo — his sad death 
in the prison hospital at Charleston will be a tender memory. 

In raising here our monument of granite to transmit to 
those who follow us the story of the deeds of the Eighty- 
third, we crown it with a tribute in enduring bronze to the 
one man who above all others seems to personify the spirit 
of the regiment, of the brigade, of the army, of the people, 
that poured out its treasure and its blood that this might be 
forever a free nation. The commissioners of the state very 
properly refused to permit any personal allusions or in- 
scriptions to be placed on the Pennsylvania monuments. 


They stand to commemorate the common deeds of the sol- 
diers of the commonwealth. In their description this statue 
stands as the "Bronze fii^ure of a Union officer." When the 
survivors of the Eighty-third, or of any regiment of the old 
Third Brigade at Gettysburg, think of a Union officer 
whose figure shall be symbolic, the name of Vincent springs 
to the front. We honor ourselves in honoring him. He was 
our ideal. Without previous military training he seemed 
a born soldier. Turning aside from the ranks of civil life, 
in a few months he was the more than competent com- 
mander of a brigade. Strict in discipline, yet loving his 
men and jealously guarding their rights, he inspired in them 
confidence, love and trust. To him the etiquette of the 
service was a means, not an end. He knew how to ride 
over it when occasion required. When, at Chancellorsville, 
the brigade was sent to the extreme right and placed in posi- 
tion to protect the flank, with what magnificent insubordi- 
nation he dashed up to the brigade commander who ordered 
him to recall his men from their work of getting timber 
for a rifle pit to ''Dress back about three feet" the left of the 
crooked line of hastily stacked rifles, and saying with a 
curt salute, 'T must not lose a moment, sir, in fortifying 
my position," dashed back to stimulate and direct his men, 
leaving his superior officer muttering a reluctant assent! 

When, as the rear guard of that sorrowful retreat from 
Chancellorsville, we crossed the river to find the roads over 
which the army had passed turned to fathomless mud, how 
he scorned the rule that required him to keep his place in 
line, and led the Eighty-third through woods and fields, 
reaching camp in time to have supper cooked and men 
ready to sleep before the balance of the brigade appeared ! 

» Who can forget the cheers that broke through the sol- 
emn decorum of dress parade when the order was published 
assigning him to the command of the brigade? 

What superb generalship he showed at Goose Creek in 
gauging the morale of the enemy; and when the flanking 
maneuvre that had driven him across the Loudon Valley 
failed at last, because the creek was too deep to ford, put- 
ting him to rout by dashing at the bridge with sword flash- 
ing in air, and, before a man had moved, shouting so as to 


be plainly heard by the enemy, ''There they go, boys ; now 

give them !" Well, the rebels did not wait for the 

balance of the remark. The bridge was cleared, the cavalry 
thundered over, and the enemy did not stop his retreat until 
he reached the plain at the foot of Ashby's Gap. 

In July, 1863, on this ground we were making history. 
Assembled here to-day we are making history still. The 
correct story of Gettysburg has never been, will never be 
written. None but the actors on the field can tell the story, 
and each one can tell of his own knowledge but an infinitesi- 
mal part. Many conscientious historians have attempted 
to weave a symmetrical whole from such disconnected 
threads as they can gather, but their accounts vary as their 
sources of information. Every man owes to the memory 
of those who died here his best endeavor to tell truly the 
story of their deeds, that the historian of the future may 
have the material out of which to fashion a truer story of 

V/e may fairly say without fear of contradiction, and 
without taking a leaf from the laurels of other heroes, 
that the genius, the devotion, the heroism, the consummate 
skill of Vincent prevented the turning of our left flank 
July 2d, held the enemy as in a vise, and preserved to our 
army the possession of Little Round Top, the loss of 
which would have meant the loss of our whole position, and 
a victory for the enemy instead of the defeat which was 
the beginning of the end. 

Full justice has never been done him in any account 
that I have seen. The Comte de Paris, in his admirable his- 
tory, says that General Warren, who from his position with 
the Signal Corps had observed the approach of the column 
sent by Longstreet to occupy this height, hastened to Gen- 
eral Sykes near the wheat field, urging the necessity of 
placing troops there, and that Sykes sent Vincent's brigade. 
General Doubleday, in his account, says that General War- 
ren, seeing Barnes' Division, which Sykes had ordered for- 
ward, standing formed for a charge to relieve De Trobriand, 
took the responsibility of detaching Vincent's brigade, and 
hurried it back to take post on Little Round Top. Neither 


is entirely correct, and Doubleday almost puts in the mouth 
of Warren the very words used by Vincent. Although a 
private soldier, my duty as Vincent's bugler and bearer of 
his brigade flag that day and during all the period of his 
command of the brigade, gave me better opportunities than 
even the officers of his staff enjoyed to see and hear what 
occurred and was said, for the reason that they were busy 
transmitting his orders, while I never left him, but was 
always near enough to hear all verbal orders given and 
received. The incidents of that day are burned into my 
memory, and I am glad to-day of the opportunity of giving 
you my recollections of it. After a long time of waiting 
for orders in that position in the low ground near the 
Weikert house, listening to the terrible roar of artillery and 
musketry in our front, an officer came galloping toward 
us from the direction of the wheat field. Vincent with eyes 
ablaze spurred toward him, and as he approached near 
enough to speak, said in his impetuous way, "Captain, what 
are your orders?" Instead of answering, the officer in- 
quired, ''Where is General Barnes?" If Vincent knew 
he did not answer. I had not seen him since morning. He 
was not at the head of his division. If he gave an order 
during the battle to any brigade commander I fail to find 
a record of it in any account I have read. The other 
brigades of the division fought heroically in the line along 
the wheat field, but the orders appear to have been given by 
Colonel Tilton and Colonel Sweitzer. Vincent repeated 
his question with emphasis: "What are your orders?" 
"Give me your orders." The captain replied, "General 
Sykes told me to direct General Barnes to send one of his 
brigades to occupy that hill yonder." Without an instant's 
hesitation Vincent replied, "I will take the responsibility of 
taking my brigade there;" and ordering Colonel Rice to 
follow as rapidly as possible, he dashed at full speed for 
the hill. The Eighty-third knows how little time there was 
to spare. Military men would not have criticised him had 
he directed that staff officer to General Barnes and waited 
calmly for the order to move to be sent him through the 
regular channels. Some might censure his assumption of 


responsibility, but had he \vaited, that advancing column of 
the enemy would have been in possession, and not even the 
Third Brigade could have dislodged it. 

Riding rapidly to the summit he came out on the little 
plateau in rear of the position held later by the Sixteenth 
Michigan. I followed with the flag. A battery which had 
been firing at the signal flag a little further to our right 
opened on us, and he directed me to retire behind the rocks. 
In a few moments he dismounted, and giving me the bridle 
rein of Old Jim, went back on foot examining the ground. 
When the head of the brigade appeared its position was 
ready. Professional soldiers have pronounced the position 
chosen by him the finest selected by a volunteer officer dur- 
ing the war. Many an officer ordered to occupy a hill would 
have formed his main line along the summit, as did Bragg 
at Missionary Ridge, but he, knowing that the bravest 
men may sometimes waver before an impetuous charge, 
placed them lower down, leaving a rallying point and a posi- 
tion above for reserves, should a second line be required. 
The momentary recoil of the Sixteenth Michigan w^hen 
assaulted in front and flank, and the repulse of that assault 
by the timely arrival of the One hundred and fortieth 
New York in the place he had left for it, prove the wisdom 
of his choice. 

The line was held, but at what a cost ! Throwing him- 
self into the breach, he rallied his men but gave up his 
own life. Comrades and friends, that was not a bauble 
thrown away. In the very flower of his young manhood, 
full of the highest promise, with the love of a young wife 
filling his thought of the future with the fairest visions, 
proud, gentle, tender, true, he laid his gift on his coun- 
try's altar. It was done nobly, gladly. No knight of the 
days of chivalry was ever more knightly. 

When a few hours before, as we tramped along the 
dusty road in the night, marching to Gettysburg, then un- 
known to fame, the old flag was unfurled and fluttered 
in the breeze, he reverently bared his head, and with the 
premonition of the morrow in his heart, said solemnly : 


"What more glorious death can any man desire than to 
die on the soil of old Pennsylvania, fighting for that flag!" 

Some of us wished that those words might be placed 
upon our monument, but the commissioners would allow 
nothing but the cold transcript of records in the War De- 
partment. May we keep them graven in our hearts and 
teach them to our children ! 

This place is holy ground. The glory of the Christ 
is that He died for men. He died, and we know he is not 
dead. May we not reverently say that those who have 
gladly died for men are not dead, but are with us to-day, 
more living than when they stood to stem the tide of in- 
vasion? If we are proud to say that we were in that line 
on Little Round Top, think you they regret it? With 
clearer vision than ours their eyes see the glory of the com- 
ing of the Lord. They see this broad land a Nation ; not 
an aggregation of petty sovereign states. They look down 
the coming years and see it peopled with a host of freemen, 
rejoicing in the result of their sacrifice. They are content. 

Let us listen to them to-day. God forbid that this fair 
land should ever need another such sacrifice, but if it fails 
to prize its heritage, and must again be purified by fire, 
may we and our children be able to sing as they sang : 

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, 
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me. 
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, 
While God is marching on." 





At two o'clock on the morning of April 9, 1865, the 
Third Brigade, after a feverish march of twenty-nine 
miles, came to a halt, the rear brigade of the division column, 
which on such occasions has the hardest place of all. Worn 
out, body and spirit, by the vexations of a forced march, 
over a course blocked every half hour by the nondescript 
and unaccountable obstacles of a lagging column in the 
road ahead, men made few preliminaries about "going into 
camp." That peculiar ingredient of humanity called the 
nervous system held an imperious precedence not only over 
mind and matter, but over army regulations and discipline. 
There was no voice and ear for roll calls, and even the 
command of empty stomachs did not avail with habit or in- 
stinct to grope among the jumbled remnants of the too 
familiar haversacks. Officers and men alike flung them- 
selves right and left along the roadside, whether it were 
bank or ditch, in whatever order or disorder the column 
had halted. Horses and riders exchanged positions, the 
patient animals, with slackened girths, dozing with droop- 
ing head just over the faces of their masters. In an instant, 
as it were, the struggling, straggling hosts were wrapped in 
misty darkness and silence. 

But suddenly and soon the bugles rang out ''The Gen- 
eral !" Orders cam^e to march within an hour's time. Word 
had come from Sheridan that he was at Appomattox Sta- 
tion, and that if we could hurry up he could cut the head 
of Lee's column, then near Appomattox Court House. Such 
a summons itself gave something of the strength it de- 
manded. Spirit triumphed over body, and seemed to be on 


the alert before the latter could full}' recover its senses. The 
time given was intended to provide for a meal, but that 
required also material, which indeed was now so simple 
as to quality and quantity as to make choice no task. 
Some of the younger regiments of the division were seen 
lighting dismal little fires to fry salt pork or steep some 
musty, sodden coffee. The Third Brigade, made up of 
veterans, spared their strength until the last for severer 
exercises. But this time patience did not attain to its 
perfect work. While sitting on their heels munching crumbs 
of hard tack and watching the coffee gradually "taking 
water," so as to produce a black liquid which could be 
sipped from the black tin dipper, word suddenly came 
that the Third Brigade was to take the head of the column 
and must pull out at once. The glimmering daybreak made 
still more weird the scenes and sounds which betokened 
that untimely departure, and the glimmering breakfasts 
must have evoked similar wild sensations for the benighted 
stomachs of the Third Brigade. But a brisk march with a 
fight at the end was the best medicine for such a mood. In 
three hours we were at Appomattox Station, and then 
learned that Sheridan with the cavalry had pushed on to 
Appomattox Court House, leaving word for us to follow 
with all possible dispatch. Indeed, there was no need of 
orders to this effect, for we now began to hear the boom 
of cannon ahead, and we knew that Sheridan and our glor- 
ious cavalry had cut across Lee's last line of retreat. Every 
heart beat high. No "obstacles" hindered that march. The 
head of the Fifth Corps ran past the rear of the Twenty- 
fourth, which had had the advance in the order of march. 
It was a triple column. The roads were taken mostly by 
whatever was to go on wheels, the men of both corps 
pressing along the fields on each side. We were evidently 
so near the "front" that General Bartlett thought it time 
to throw forward a "division" skirmish line, which he and 
General Grifffn followed with characteristic eagerness. I 
was following with my own brigade and the Second (Greg- 
ory's) when there dashed out of a farm road on our right 


an officer of General Sheridan's staff, who gave me s hurried 
order to break off from the column at once without waiting 
for communication with any immediate superiors, and 
hasten to the support of Sheridan, who was that moment 
forced to fall back somewhat before the desperate onset 
of Gordon's old "Stonewall Corps." 

Xow it was the "double-quick," indeed. This move- 
ment of course brought me on the ground our cavalry oc- 
cupied, and on the enemy's left flank, at nearly the same 
time at which our skirmish line had struck them in their 
proper front, the direction of the Lynchburg Pike. Reach- 
ing the ground, I wheeled into double line of battle and 
gradually replaced our cavalry, which galloped off to our 
right, while the Third Brigade still poured in upon my 
left. In this way we pressed the enemy steadily back upon 
Appomattox Court House. There was gallant and wild 
work done there by the Third Brigade, as well as by the 
rest of the division. 

Gordon had hoped to force his way through our cavalry 
before our infantry could get up, and reach Lynchburg 
with the resolute remnant of his famous old corps. But 
when there burst upon his front and flank these lines of 
ours they knew so well, that had so unexpectedly kept pace 
with the cavalry and marched around his retreating front, 
desperately as he had pressed his march, the veterans of 
Lee's army took in the situation as by instinct. Their re- 
sistance was mechanical and by force of habit or discipline. 
Their old dash and daring were gone. When our advance 
struck them at close quarters, they fell back in disorder or 
rendered themselves up as prisoners. As an example of this 
feeling, all that was left of an entire brigade surrendered 
to a single staff officer of the Third Brigade, who dashed" 
up to them with the demand. It may well be believed that 
our men also were responsive to the logic of the situation. 
The end was now so near they could see through to it, and 
they were bound to ''be there" themselves. Action there 
was of the most stirring kind, but of passion nothing. No 
man wantonly or in excitement struck at the life "of his 
antagonist. It was an example of what is so strangely, and 


for want of an adequate word, called a "moral" effect. 
When in the heat of the onset, the flag of truce was seen 
coniino; in on our right, some deeper, inner sense seemed to 
stifle all the others. All was moving with such momentum, 
that when the order came at length to cease firing and to 
halt, it was next to impossible to stop the men. They 
saw well that we held the rebel army at bay, and what the 
consequence must soon be they did not need to be told, 
only whatever was to be done, they wanted to be there and 
have a hand in it. If there was anything to be seen, they 
had earned the right to front seats at the spectacle. But 
when at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon the brief, thrilling 
message was passed along the lines, "Lee surrenders !" 
there was a tumult as of an ocean let loose. Alen went wild 
with the sweeping energies of that assurance, which an- 
swered so much of long-cherished hope and of long-endured 
suffering that had marked their loyal and brave career. 
Now that they were no longer allowed to go forward and 
did not know how to go backward, there was no direction 
left but to go upward, and that way they took — to the top 
of fences, haystacks, roofs and chimneys, that they might 
send their hallelujahs and toss their old caps higher to- 
ward heaven. The rebels over across the slender rivulets 
of the Appomattox were shouting their side of the jubila- 
tion, from whatever cause, whether cheering Lee as he rode 
over to speak a last word to them, or whether in deep truth 
they were heartily sick of the war and felt that their loyal 
spirit and manly energies were wasted in a hopeless and 
perhaps mistaken cause. There is reason to believe the 
latter feeling was the motive of their exuberant demon- 
stration, whose echoes rolled along the hillsides long after 
all was silent in our bivouac. For toward evening some 
of the rations that had been promised us for distribution 
at 9 o'clock that morning, and from which we had double- 
quicked away, had now got up and we could finish our 
breakfasts before lying down in peace at the close of that 
eventful day ; and a certain deeper peace was ours, in that, 
learning now of the starving condition of our surrendering 
foes, twenty thousand rations were sent over just as the 


day was done, into that camp of fellow countrymen we had 
restored to brotherhood. Fitting token and emblem of the 
spirit in which that victory was won and that day ended! 
Here too was possibly one reason for the cheering that 
echoed in our ears as we fell asleep on that Palm Sunday 

All the next day and the day after, measures were 
being determined as to the actual breaking up of Lee's 
army, and the return of ours. Grant and Lee had not 
lingered, after the main points were settled, nor indeed 
was Sheridan seen again on the field. Generals Griffin, 
Gibbon and Merritt were appointed commissioners to ar- 
range the final details. 

All this while the visiting fever and the exchangmg of 
tokens and souvenirs ran wild through both armies. Strin- 
gent measures had to be taken to prevent utter confusion in 
both camps, especially in ours, as it seemed to be understood 
that we were the hosts, and it was our "at home" recep- 
tion. This spirit of exchange shortly passed into the spirit 
of trade ; for our rations, after the best was done, were very 
short, and for three days afterwards it became necessary to 
forage the country far and wide to get even raw corn 
enough for man and beast. So the market "went up" 
decidedly on all sorts of farm produce. Hard tack was 
a luxury, and coffee and sugar at a high premium. 

How or why it came about I do not know, but on the 
evening of the lotli of April I was summoned to head- 
quarters and informed that I was to command the parade 
which was to receive the formal surrender of the arms and 
colors of the rebel army the next morning. This was an 
order, and to be received and obeyed without question. One 
request only I ventured to make of my Corps Commander. 
It was that, considering this occasion, I might resume 
command of my old Brigade, the Third, from which I had 
been transferred in June, 1864, with which I had served up 
to that time since my entrance into the service. My re- 
quest was granted, and on that evening I yielded the com- 
mand of my' gallant First Brigade, and went back to my 


General Grant was a mai^nanimous man, <4Teat minded 
and lari^e minded. He would have nothing done for show 
and no vain ceremony. He granted to officers the high 
privilege of retaining their swords, and all men who owned 
their horses were made welcome to keep them, as they 
would need them to plough their land. The relx4s had 
begged to be spared the pain of actually laying down their 
arms and colors in the presence of our troops, and to be per- 
mitted to stack them in front of their own camps and march 
off, and let us go and pick them up after they had gone. 
But this would be to err too far on the side of mildness. 
So it was insisted that while the surrendering army should 
be spared all that could humiliate their manhood, yet the 
insignia of the rebellion and the tokens of the power and 
will to hurt, lifted against the country's honor and life, must 
be laid down in due military form in presence of a desig- 
nated portion of our army. 

This latter office fell to our lot. It gave us no doubt a 
grateful satisfaction and permitted a modest pride, but it was 
not accepted as a token that we surpassed our comrades 
in merit of any kind. 

We formed our line of battle on the southern margin of 
the principal street in Appomattox Court House. Massa- 
chusetts on the right — her Thirty-second Regiment, with 
all that was left to us of her Ninth, Eighteenth and Twenty- 
second ; then Maine — her Twentieth Regiment, with the de- 
livered remnant of her Second and her First Sharpshooters ; 
Michigan next — her Sixteenth, with interminglings of her 
First and Fourth. On the left Pennsylvania — her One hun- 
dred and fifty-fifth holding also filaments which bound 
us with the Sixty-second, Eighty-third (Italics mine. — O. 
W. N.), Xinety-first and One hundred and eighteenth, an 
immortal band, which held in it the soul of the famous 
"Light Brigade," and of the stern old First Division, Por- 
ter's, which was nucleus of the Fifth Corps, men among them 
who had fired the first shot at Yorktown, and others that had 
fired the last at Appomattox, and who thus bore upon their 
banners all the battles of that army. 

By the courtesy of General Bartlett, the First Brigade, 


which I had so long commanded, and the Second, which 
had been with me in this last campaign, were sent to me 
and held part in the parade, being formed on another line 
across the street and lacing us. Tliese were, with the 
exception of the One hundred and ninety-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania, composed of New York regiments, the One hun- 
dred and eighty-fifth, One hundred and eighty-seventh. 
One hundred and eighty-eighth and One hundred and 
eighty-ninth, which in severe service had made themselves 
veterans worthy the fellowship of those sterling old New 
York regiments that had fulfilled their time and fame. 
Names and figures, all of these, dear to every heart 
that had shared their eventful and glorious history. 

As we stood there in the morning mist, straining our 
eyes toward that camp about to break up for the last 
march, a feeling came over our hearts which led us to make 
some appropriate recognition of this great, last meeting. 

We could not content ourselves with simply standing 
in line and witnessing this crowning scene. So instruc- 
tions were sent to the several commanders that at the given 
signals, as the head of each division of the surrendering 
column approached their right, they should in succession 
bring their men to "Attention" and arms to the "Carry," 
then resuming the "Ordered Arms" and the "Parade Rest." 
And now we see the little shelter tents on the opposite slope 
melting away and carefully folded, being things which 
were needed by men as men and not as tokens of rebellion. 
Soon the gray masses are in motion — once more toward 
us — as in the days that were gone. A thrilling sight. 
First, Gordon, with the "Stonewall Corps"; then their First 
Corps — Longstreet's — no less familiar to us and to fame; 
then Anderson, with his new Fourth Corps; and lastly, 
A. P. Hill's Corps, commanded now by Heth, since Hill had 
fallen at one of the river fights a few days before. On they 
come with careless, swinging route step, the column thick 
with battle flags, disproportionate to their depleted num- 
bers. As they come opposite our right our bugle sounds 
the signal, repeated along our line. Each organization 
comes to "Attention," and thereupon takes up successively 

3 53 

the "Carry." The gallant General Gordon, at the head of 
the marching- column, outdoes us in courtesy. He was 
riding with downcast eyes and more than pensive look ; but 
at this clatter of arms he raises his eyes, and instantly 
catching the significance, wheels his horse with that superb 
grace of which he is master, drops the point of his sword to 
his stirrup, gives a command, at which the great Confederate 
ensign following him is dipped, and his decimated brigades, 
as they reach our right, respond to the "Carry." All the 
while on our part not a sound of trumpet or drum, not a 
cheer, nor word nor motion of man, but awful stillness, as 
if it were the passing of the dead. Now and then a gust of 
wind would spring up from the south with strange greet- 
ing; our starry ensigns stiffen and fly out as if to welcome 
back the returning brothers. The ensigns of rebellion seem 
to shrink back and strain away from the fated farewell. 

So a division at a time covers our front. They halt, 
face inward, some ten paces from us ; carefully **dress" 
their lines, each captain as careful of his ahgnment as if 
at a dress parade. Then they fix bayonets, stack arms, then 
wearily remove their cartridge boxes and hang them on the 
pile ; lastly, reluctantly, painfully, they furl their battle- 
stained flags and lay them down ; some, unable to restrain 
themselves, rushing from the ranks, clinging to them, kneel- 
ing over them and kissing them with burning tears. And 
then the Flag of the Union floats alone upon the field. 

Then, stripped of every sign of the rebellion and token 
of its hate and will to hurt, they march off to give their 
word of honor never to lift arms against the old flag again, 
and are free to go where they will in the broad Republic. 

Thus division after division passes, and it takes the 
whole day long to com.plete this deliverance. Twenty-seven 
thousand men paroled, one hundred and forty cannon and 
near that number of battle flags surrendered, but only about 
seventeen thousand stand of small arms. For sometimes 
a whole brigade, or what was left of it, had scarcely a 
score of arms to surrender, having thrown them away by 
roadside and riverside in weariness of flight or hopeless- 
ness of heart, or disdaining to carry them longer, only to 


be taken from them in token of a lost cause. After this it 
remained only to gather up what was serviceable of this 
material of war and to destroy the rest. Nothing was left 
which could be turned to use against the Union armies. 
The cartridge boxes were emptied on the ground for the 
most part, burned, and after the troops had withdrawn, at 
the first dusk of evening, it was a weird and almost sad sight 
to see the running flame with frequent bursts of lurid ex- 
plosion along the lines where the surrendering army had 
stood; then only bits of leather writhing in the gray ashes. 

All was over. With the dawn of morning the hillsides 
were alive with men, in groups or singly, on foot or horse, 
making their way as by the instinct of an ant, each with 
his own little burden, each for his own little harbor or 

And we were left alone and lonesome! The familiar 
forms that had long so firmly held our eyes, until they 
almost demanded the sight of them for their daily satis- 
faction, had vanished like a dream. The very reason of our 
existence seemed to have been taken away. And when on 
the morrow we took up our march again, though home- 
ward, something was lacking in the spring and spice which 
had enlivened us through even the dreariest times. To be 
sure, the war was not over yet, but we felt that the dis- 
tinctive work of the old Third Brigade was over. We were 
soon to be mustered out; but never to be again as if the 
Third Brigade had not become a part of our lives ; a part of 
our souls. There were "thoughts that ran before and 
after," memories of things that cannot be told, and new 
purposes of manly living and hopes of useful service yet, 
in visions of a broader citizenship and the career of an en- 
franchised country.