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A Diary of the Civil War 

Robert Miller Hatfield 


Feb. 26. Left Brooklyn for a term of service in the Army 
of the Potomac at 6 o 'clock a. m. Reached Philadelphia at 11 
o'clock A. M., and went directly to the rooms of the Christian 
Commission, saw the President^ and Secretary, and received 
directions as to our future proceedings. 

Feb. 27. Left Baltimore 8:45, reaching Washington in 
two hours and went directly to the rooms of the Commission. 
Met here a Rev. T. P. Hunt, the famous temperance lecturer 
of other years, now chaplain of a Pennsylvania regiment. 
He is a most remarkable man, seventy years of age, but full 
of life and energy. He gave us a very interesting account 
of his labors in the army, with anecdotes illustrating his 
manner of dealing with officers and men. After he left a 
gentleman told Us the following anecdote, which shows the 
kind of stuff the old man is made of. His colonel was hor- 
ribly profane, and as other means failed to reform him Mr. 
Hunt kept an exact record of the oaths and profane expres- 
sions used by the colonel during a considerable period. At 
a convenient time, he asked the colonel to read the account 
that had been kept. He did so, and then said, ^* Chaplain, 
for God's sake rub out that record and I will never swear 
again." Brother McCabe [^^ Chaplain" (later. Bishop) C. 
C. McCabe] gave us an amusing account of an effort made 
by a zealous Baptist brother, whom he met in the street, to 
convert him to the true faith. 

During our ride to and from Camp Stoneman, Brother 
McCabe gave us some very interesting accounts of what he 
saw and heard during his imprisonment at Richmond. His 
report satisfied me that our officers and soldiers are sus- 
tained under their sufferings by a spirit of patriotism that 
would do honor to the best names known in history. Soon 
after our men were incarcerated in the Richmond prisons 

*In the early part of 1864, my father, Robert M . Hatfield, at that time pastor of the Fleet Street 
Methodist Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, went to Virginia to serve at the front under the Christian 
Commission, an agency maintained by voluntary contributions, which ministered to the spiritual 
needs of our soldiers. His companions were the Rev. Alfred Cookman of New York and the Rev. 
Wilbur F. Watkins of Brooklyn. The original diary, hastily written down in pencil while in camp, 
has been deciphered in the hope of preserving an interesting document of the Civil War. 

James Tapt Hatfield. 

1 George H. Stuart. 


the rebels reported to them that the Union forces had been 
defeated at Gettysburg with a terrible slaughter and the loss 
of forty thousand prisoners. The effect on the officers in 
Libby prison was most distressing. At night, when they 
attempted, as was the custom, to sing the doxology, they were 
so much affected that most of them burst into tears, and 
the singing was concluded by only the few who were able to 
suppress their emotions. Brother McCabe said that for him- 
self he never closed his eyes in sleep during the night. He, 
like his companions in suffering, felt that if the country was 
lost there was nothing left for which he desired to live. 

Early on the following morning Uncle Ben, an old colored 
man who brought them the Richmond papers each day, was 
heard coming rapidly up the stairs. He threw the door open 
and exclaimed with a loud voice, ** Great news in de papers 
dis morning by telegraph communication ! ' ' The papers were 
eagerly opened, and from them it was learned that the rebels 
were defeated, and Lee in retreat for the Potomac. The 
excitement among the Union prisoners became uncontroll- 
able. They grasped each other by the hand, laughed and cried 
and rejoiced together. When McCabe wa* about to leave the 
prison one of the Union officers, who was worn and wasted 
with disease till he had the appearance of a walking skeleton, 
said to Mr. McCabe: ^^You are going North and may prob- 
ably see the President. I am afraid that he may be so desir- 
ous of securing our release, or of mitigating our sufferings, as 
to make concessions to the rebels that are not honorable to 
the country. Tell him for me to stand firm and not yield 
an inch. We can die here, but cannot bear to have our coun- 
try dishonored." 

Sunday, Feb. 28. Preached this morning at Kendall 
Green to about fifty of the teamsters. They listened attentive- 
ly and almost every man of them kneeled with me and when I 
prayed, but they belong to a rough, hard fraternity. 

Feb. 29. Left Washington for the Army of the Potomac 
at a quarter to nine a. m. We rode for seventy miles through 
a country that recalled many of the most important events 
of the war. For miles and miles we rode past the localities 
that have been fought over and over by our armies, Alexand- 


ria, Manassas, Bealeton, Catletts Station, Warrenton Junc- 
tion, etc., are among the places that we passed. Much of the 
country bore marks of the ravages of war, and the carcasses 
of dead horses were strewed along the way. 

We reached Brandy Station, the headquarters of the 
Christian Commission in the field, at 2 :30 o 'clock p. m. The 
Principal of the station was from home, and his subordinates 
were about as ill-bred a set as one would be likely to meet 
anywhere. We dined on the following bill of fare: 1 Ham 
Bone. Very little meat. 1 Basin of Eye Pudding, Bread and 
Molasses, all served on tin plates. 

During the afternoon I went out and conversed with a 
number of the contrabands on religious subject. They seemed 
candid and quite willing to listen to what was said. In the 
evening we attended a meeting with them in the large kitchen 
of their quarters. The place was crowded, and they sang 
and prayed with real African fervor. On an invitation from 
Brother Cookman, five of their number knelt at a bench and 
asked an interest in our prayers. 

March 1. The rain that commenced last evening lasted 
through the night, and continues this morning. We are now 
having our first experience of Virginia mud. All that has 
been said with regard to its detestable qualities now seems 
reasonable. It is not yet deep, but it is as soft as batter, 
and so abundant as to besmear and discolor everything. 
Wagons, horsemen, shoes, clothes, all are deeply, darkly, 
dreadfully red. 

The army seems to be about the last place in which to 
learn anything of army operations. There are reports her^ 
of an advance movement of parts of the Army of the Poto- 
mac. Several thousands of Gregg's cavalry are said to have 
moved forward on Sunday evening at 11 o'clock, and crossed 
the Rapidan, driving in the enemy's pickets. This report 
seems probable from the fact that fifty rebel prisoners were 
brought to this station this morning and forwarded to Wash- 
ington. They were a miserable. Godforsaken set in appear- 
ance; indeed, I saw but one of them who looked like a man 
of pluck and intelligence. Several of them wore the uniform 
vof our troops, others were real gray-backs. There are re- 


ports of the operations of Mosby in firing on pickets, etc., 
only a few miles from this station, in both directions, that 
is, at Culpeper and Warrenton. We saw a carrier of dis- 
patches, last evening, who told ns that he was twice shot at 
during the previous night. We also heard of two of our 
pickets who were brought in wounded. 

March 2. The storm cleared off during the night, and 
the morning is delightful. Rode over to his headquarters 
and made a call on General Patrick. Found him a most pleas- 
ant and gentlemanly man and decidedly sharp withal. He is 
Provost Marshal of the Army of the Potomac, and seems to 
be the right man in the right place. Went afterward to call 
on General Meade. He received us politely, but did not im- 
press me as a great man. 

On our way we saw our troops on their return from the 
front, where they have been for two or three days. Their 
appearance was more warlike than anything I have before 
seen. After reaching Culpeper Court House another regi- 
ment or two passed through the streets on their return to 
their. old quarters. They looked exceedingly worn and dirty. 

March 3. Went out during the forenoon to find Wilbur 
F. Rossel. Went in the afternoon with Captains Cranford, 
McClure, and two gentlemen to Pony Mountain. Captain 
Paine, in charge of the station, pointed out to us the location 
of the several camps for miles and miles around. It was a 
splendid spectacle. The day was warm, and the atmosphere 
somewhat hazy, but looking through a powerful glass we were 
able to discern a rebel camp across the Rapidan. We also 
saw one of their signal stations eight miles distant, and 
Captain Paine informed us that he understood the message 
they were transmitting, and that he had a few days before 
forwarded to headquarters a message that the rebel General 
Stuart was sending to Lee. 

March 4. I this morning took a supply of papers, books, 
and Testaments and walked out to the camp of the 2nd Wis- 
consin to commence my first regular work of visitation and 
distribution among the soldiers. On my way out I fell in 
with a soldier on guard, who asked me if I could spare him 
a paper. After supplying him I asked him if he was a Chris- 


tian. He replied that he was trying to be, but found the 
army a hard place for a Christian. His comrades scoffed at 
him when he prayed in his tent, and in many ways discouraged 
him in his efforts to serve the Lord. I tried to encourage 
him to faithfulness, and during our conversation learned from 
him that he had been for a number of years in the English 
service. He knew Captain Hedley Vicars, and was with 
General Havelock at the time of his death. He spoke of the 
latter in most enthusiastic terms, especially of his character 
as a Christian. 

I proceeded to call on the soldiers in their tents. Tn 
almost every case they seemed pleased to see me, and receiv^ed 
what I gave them (advice included) in a good spirit. Many 
of them, more than one-half, I should say, admitted that they 
were the sons of praying mothers, all of them seemed frank 
and serious, but I cannot say that I found any who gave 
evidence of being penitent or concerned for the salvation of 
their souls. 

March 5. This morning I visited the 19th Indiana and 
distributed Testaments and papers among them. I found 
opportunity to converse with a considerable number of the 
men. They were very respectful, and many of them were 
from Methodist families. In the afternoon I walked out of 
town, and took a look at the rebel burying-ground. It was a 
sad sight, long rows of graves marked only by pine boards 
containing the names of the dead with the date of their death. 
Most of them died young, and far from their homes. I saw 

more than one grave marked '^ Unknown, Died '' The 

whole scene impressed me as a touching illustration of the 
horrors of war. 

Sunday, March 6. Preached this morning at the camp 
of the 7th Wisconsin, in the open air, to a congregation of 
perhaps one hundred and fifty. Several of the officers were 
present and the men gave good attention. Dined with Col- 
onel Morrow, Chaplain Way, and one of the captains of the 
24th Michigan, and their wives. Preached at 2 o'clock in the 
chapel of the 24th Michigan to more people than could be 
crowded into the building, say one hundred and twenty-five 
to one hundred and fifty. General Rice, with his wife, and 


quite a large number of other officers were present. AVent 
to the tent of Brother Watkins, took tea with him, and 
preached in the evening to a tent full of as good looking men 
as I ever saw in a congregation (one hundred and twenty-live 
in number). Three went forward for prayers, and one of 
them literally '^sought the Lord" with strong cries and tears. 

March 7. The weather continues most beautiful. I think 
I have never been in so fine a climate as we have here in Old 
Virginia. The air is most delicious, and I do not take cold 
from exposure as at home. Visited an old colored man, 
^^ Uncle Abraham," now in the ninety-seventh year of his 
age. He is, without exception, the most extraordinary man 
I have ever met in my life. His intellectual faculties are un- 
impaired, and he spoke on several subjects with the wisdom 
of a philosopher. His memory was truly wonderful, not only 
with regard to remote events but with reference to those of 
recent occurrence. He informed us that he was born Febru- 
ary 15, 1768, so that he was between eight and nine years of 
age at the time of the Declaration of American Independence. 
His life has been an eventful one. 

He has been the husband of three wives, and the father 
of nineteen children. Two of his wives and eight of his chil- 
dren have been sold to slave traders and carried off and he 
has heard of them no more. In speaking of these events, he 
said: ^'It was dreadful, but we could do nothing. They 
were two strong for us! They cared no more for parting 
us than for separating dumb beasts." He has lived with 
his present wife fifty-three years, and has twice or thrice 
bought himself in order that they might remain together. 
When he was sixty-four years of age he was sold for between 
$500 and $600, and paid his master more than two-thirds of 
the purchase money. He then rented a small farm, bought 
him a horse, cow, pigs, etc., and for four years paid the rent 
and made money in a moderate way. At the end of this time 
he was sold with his little property to pay his master's debts. 
He went through substantially the same course again before 
obtaining his freedom. 

He told us that he had often, after working all day for 
his master, worked all night in preparing pits and burning 


charcoal for himself. His answers to the questions we prof- 
fered to him were striking, and such as evinced surprising 
intelligence. I said to him, ^* Uncle Abraham, what do you 
think of this war?'' ^^Well," said he, ^^Them youngsters that 
I helped to raise came to me and said, ^What do you think 
of our new President?' and I said, ^I don't know as to that.' 
Den they said, ^We'U elect a President of our own, kill this 
new President, cut off his head, and bring you back a piece 
of his har.' I said, ^^Massas, you knows bout dese things bet- 
ter than me, but see here, this President was elected by a 
minjority, and you's 'greed to bide by dat when Washington 
took his seat. Now if you just begin to fight, you'll find that 
a tangled hank, and this war wont end for maybe five or six 
years.' " We said, *^Well, Uncle Abraham, how will this 
war end?" *'I don't zactly know, but I obsarves this thing. 
Our folks said they was gwine up to your homes to whip you, 
but what I looks at is they can't stay in their own homes. 
They went up to your country and staid but a mighty little 
while, an' you comes down here and stays as long as you is 
a mind to." 

I said, ^* Uncle Abraham, do you know that all your people 
are going to be free?" **I don't know about dat, I'se been in 
the world a long time; we knows what has been, but we don't 
know what will be. My father and mother was professors, 
and they used to tell me that the Bible said as that every 
man should eat his bread in the sweat of his face. Spose you 
makes the people free and puts em on a sand-knoll, where 
they can't make enough to pay their taxes. But I thinks this : 
Every man will then have a fair chance. We have had a bad 
chance in the world. We hain't been allowed any learning. 
There are sorry black men and sorry white men too." We 
gave the old couple some money, prayed with them, and left, 
followed by their prayers and blessings. 

March 9. The morning is delightful. Heard the mock- 
ingbirds singing before I was out of bed. After breakfast 
took a horse, and accompanied by Elisha Dean and Brother 
Watkins went out for a long ride. On our way to the head- 
quarters of General Birney fell in with a Virginia farmer who 
reported himself as being eighty-four years of age. He was 


mounted on an old skeleton of a horse, and as we rode along 
he pointed us to the ruin that war had wrought on his farm 
of one thousand acres. The fences were nearly all destroyed, 
groves of trees were cut down, and a Baptist church, fifty by 
sixty feet, that he had built at his own expense and presented 
to the denomination, had been torn down so that hardly one 
brick remained upon another. 

We accompanied the old man to his home, which is very 
pleasantly located, and now occupied by General Birney and 
his staff. From here we went to call on William H. Gilder,^ 
chaplain of the 40th N. T. We found the regiment located in 
a beautiful pine grove. The air was laden with balsamic per- 
fume exhaled from the pine trees, and the whole place seemed 
to me one of the most delightful that I have seen in the ^tate. 
We rode from here to take a look at the camp of the 19th 
Maine, which was quite a marvel in its way. The huts or 
quarters were for the most part built of split and hewed planks 
placed side by side in a perpendicular position. Some of them 
had doors and window casings that were quite ornamental. 
The streets were numbered, and as cleanly swept as the paths 
around a gentleman ^s country residence. Nearby was the 
hospital, surrounded by an enclosure of small pines set up 
in rows to imitate a growing hedge. It must be hard for men 
to go out from a place so pleasant to meet death on the battle- 

March 10. Walked out this morning to the 7th Wiscon- 
sin regiment to distribute Testaments and papers. Soon 
after I commenced my work the rain began to fall, and I was 
compelled to retreat and seek a shelter. My half-brother, 
Elisha Dean, related to me, while we were together yester- 
day, an incident that deserves to be remembered. At a bat- 
tle in Virginia a shot from one of the guns of the enemy tore 
off a limb of one of our soldiers. He was carried a little to 
the rear of our line, and left in a position that was very much 
exposed to the fire of the enemy. Elisha was passing him at 
a time when shots were flying thick and fast and saw an old 
and gray-haired man kneeling beside him engaged in prayer. 
Elisha said to him, ^^Old gentleman, you had better get out 

'Father of Richard Watson Gilder. 


of this place as quickly as possible.'' He barely opened his 
eyes, then closed them again and went on with his prayer. 
The old chaplain was Eev. T. P. Hunt, the famous temper- 
ance lecturer of other years. 

March 11. The morning is very dull. Mr. Kingsbury, 
Brother Watkins' chum, being from home. Brother Watkins 
has charge of the culinary department of the tent. I wish 
our friends at home could see the arrangements for our morn- 
ing meal. Owing to the rain, the only water we have to use 
is about the color of that which is found in the mud puddles 
in the vicinity of a brick yard. Mr. Watkins proposed that 
the potatoes should be boiled with the skins on, to which I 
assented. The only vessel in which they could be cooked was 
one in which rice was boiled yesterday, and it was suggested 
that the little rice that adhered to its sides would do no harm, 
so it was used without washing. Of butter we had none, but 
the bread was good, and we spread dried apple sauce on it, and 
got along very well. Our principal deficiency was a lack of 
something to drink, as we could not make up our minds to 
swallow the water, either in its natural state or when made 
into tea or coifee. 

March 12. The weather is beautiful. Attended the fune- 
ral of a poor soldier who died in hospital. It was altogether 
a gloomy and forbidding occasion. Only twelve or fifteen 
of his comrades were present, and they seemed to be there 
rather as a matter of form than from interest in the services. 
His body was placed in an ambulance, carried away, and 
buried where, at best, there will be no more than a pine board 
to mark his grave. 

A young man, member of the 19th Indiana, called at our 
rooms this morning. I had seen him before, and heard that 
he was a most exemplary Christian, and was interested in 
learning from his own lips something of his history, and of 
the consideration that induced him to enter the army. His 
father is a banker, in Indiana, and the young man (after hav- 
ing for some time taught school) was engaged in farming at 
the time when the war broke out. He began at once to con- 
sider whether it was not his duty to offer his services to his 
country. He thought and prayed over the subject for some 


time, and at length, while at a campmeeting where he had been 
greatly blessed, decided that he would volunteer. 

He enlisted, came out some two years and a half ago, 
and a few weeks since re-enlisted for three years more, or the 
war. He declares that he is perfectly satisfied that he is in 
the path of duty, and that he enjoys great peace of mind and 
sweet communion with God. He has never for a moment re- 
gretted the step he took, and said to me, '^If the war lasts for 
ten years, I hope to see it out." I ask him what proportion 
of his regiment, in his judgment, entered the service from 
purely patriotic motives. He replied at once, ^*More than 
four-fifths, I am confident!" I also inquired of him whether 
he assented to the idea that more bad men are reformed in 
the army than there are good men who are led astray and 
corrupted by the temptations of camp life. He said that the 
notion was altogether erroneous, and in this I am confident 
he is correct. 

Chaplains and agents of the Christian Commission are 
doing a good work in the army, but the place is full of moral 
peril to the young, and indeed to all men whose principles are 
not of the staunchest character. And with all the efforts of 
faithful chaplains and agents of the Christian Commission, 
the mass of the army is not reached by moral or religious in- 

Just at night Mr. Williams, Field Agent for the Commis- 
sion, arrived at Culpeper and informed me that it was desir- 
able that I should go to Brandy and preach at the headquarters 
of the army tomorrow. I put a few articles into a haver- 
sack and hurried off. The horse that I rode was a large and 
powerful animal, and as I did not care to be out late in this 
country and on a strange road, I gave him the birch and let 
him drive through the mud. The moon came up splendidly 
and I had a pleasant ride, in spite of the mud, until I came 
within the limits of Brandy. There the lights and the noise 
of the engine frightened my horse and he snorted and pranced 
till I began to fear that he might land me in the mud. But I 
kept my seat, and after a little delay reached my quarters in 
safety, where I found all that I needed for my comfort ex- 


cept water that was fit to drink. Of that I could not obtain 
a drop for love or money. 

Sunday, March 13. Went out this morning to preach at 
the headquarters of General Meade. He was absent in Wash- 
ington, but General Patrick received me with great courtesy. 
The tent in which services were held was pleasantly located 
and neatly fitted up. The congregation numbered about one 
hundred, and listened with great attention. After service I 
was introduced to Dr. McParland, Medical Director of the 
Army of the Potomac, General Seth Williams and several other 
officers. Generals Patrick and Williams are both men of 
known reputations for piety. General Patrick, particularly, 
does not hesitate to talk on the subject of experimental religion 
whenever a proper opportunity offers. I went to his quart- 
ers and remained for an hour or two after service, and par- 
took of a lunch that seemed more like home than anything I 
have seen since I left Brooklyn. I found General Patrick 
thoroughly posted with regard to everything pertaining to 
the army. 

I was sorry to find that he fully confirmed suspicions 
that have been growing upon me ever since I came to Vir- 
ginia with regard to the injudicious use that is made of much 
that is placed in the hands of the Sanitary Commission. He 
assured me that the army is so abundantly provided with food 
and clothing by the government that any addition to this sup- 
ply under ordinary circumstances is not only useless but per- 
nicious. The soldiers^ rations are now one-third larger in 
quantity (to say nothing of value) than they were in the time 
of the Florida War. General Patrick said he was satisfied 
that there is now such a surplus of food in this army that 
enough is wasted month by month to feed twenty thousand 
men. An agent of the Sanitary Commission at Culpeper 
had told me that when a soldier is sent to the hospital he is 
allowed to draw one extra blanket, and that this is his only 
supply, except as he is furnished by the Sanitary Commission. 
I learned from General Patrick that physicians in charge of 
hospitals are at liberty to draw all the blankets that they need 
for the comfort of their patients, and not only blankets but 
other articles of bedding and clothing. General Patrick did 


not hesitate to aflSrm that, of his own knowledge, a large part 
of the goods and articles of luxury sent to the Sanitary Com- 
mission are drawn and used by officers who have no legiti- 
mate claim to them. 

After the close of our meeting, I went out to one of the 
colored camps where they were singing and praying. I never 
listen to these people without being impressed with the sim- 
plicity, wisdom, and faith that are seen through all their ex- 
ercises. One of them in his prayer said in a subdued and 
tender tone of voice, *'0 Lord, it 'pears to us dat we are walk- 
ing on the very edge of ruin. We looks dis way, and dat way, 
and in de rare, and we sees no way to 'scape and 'cept you 
help us we must be destroyed. Please, Lord, do help us. 
We never tink, Lord, dat you help us because we're good, 
but just 'cause you loves us." 

March 14. The last night was very windy, and the sides 
and top of our tent flapped like the sails of a vessel in a 
storm. But I suspended a sutler's blanket about my head so 
as to keep out the wind and slept comfortably. 

March 16. Loaded myself down with books and papers 
this morning, and walked a couple of miles out of town to dis- 
tribute them among some companies of sharpshooters. Kept 
at my work till between one and two o'clock, when my supply 
of reading matter was exhausted. Found the men generally 
intelligent and ready to engage in conversation. In one tent 
had a long and friendly talk with four young men who were 
engaged in card playing. In another, where I was distribut- 
ing papers, one of the men asked me to have a paper for one 
his comrades who was absent on picket duty, enforcing his 
request by the remark that he was a good man and fond of 
reading. On expressing my satisfaction at hearing such a 
testimony concerning their companion, one present said: '*If 
there is a Christian in the world, our comrade is one. We 
knew him at home, and everybody had perfect confidence in 
him there, and since he has been here his life has been with- 
out fault." 

In another quarters I found four or five soldiers all of 
whom professed to be followers of the Saviour. They spoke 
modestly, but with great decision, of their faith in Christ, 


and said that an oath had never been sworn, nor a pack of 
cards seen in their tent from the beginning of the war. 
Preached in the evening to a congregation numbering about 

March 17. Preached in the evening to a congregation of 
about one hundred at the church. They gave excellent atten- 
tion, and nine arose for prayers. Tarried after service to 
have conversation with some of the penitents. Was most 
interested in the case of a young man from Indiana, who to- 
night asked prayers for the first time. I think he will soon 
find the way of peace. But few of the Brooklyn 14th were 
present. Today is Saint Patrick's day, and the officers and 
men of this regiment have many of them been out of town at 
a horse race and in other places of dissipation. 

March 18. Loaded up this morning with books and 
papers, and walked out to the 6th Wisconsin regiment. Found 
the men willing to converse on religious subjects, and eager to 
receive my papers and books. Met with two or three low- 
bred and ill-mannered officers, lieutenants and captains, who 
declined to receive what I had to offer. I observe since I 
have been here that it is the officers of a low grade who take 
on airs and get themselves up with magnificence. I noticed 
on last Sabbath, in preaching at headquarters, that the gen- 
erals are plain in appearance and modest in their bearing. It 
was the lieutenants and captains that wore straw-colored kids. 

March 19. Was up early this morning and wrote a let- 
ter to my wife which I sent to Brooklyn by Private Baker of 
the 14th. Ever since yesterday afternoon we have been a good 
deal stirred by rumors of rebel advances. Once the orders 
came to pick up everything preparatory to a march ; this after 
an hour or two was countermanded, Orders came this morn- 
ing at one o'clock for female visitors to retire from the army, 
and large numbers of them, the wives and friends of officers, 
left by the train at half past eight. It is well that they are 
gone, for women are a nuisance in the army. 

In order that I might not forget or misrepresent facts on 
my return home, I this morning made further inquiries with 
regard to the quantity of food furnished by the government 
to our soldiers. The only fault to be found seems to be that 


so much is provided that the men become extravagant and 
wasteful. It is certain that while in camp they have more 
than enough. Mr. Thompson, one of our delegates, has charge 
of commissary affairs at the rooms of the Christian Commis- 
sion. We have had from four to eight in family ever since 
I came here. We have coffee of an excellent quality twice 
a day, and as our water is bad we all of us drink pretty 
strongly. All the coffee we have used during this time has 
been given Mr. Thompson by three privates of a Pennsylva- 
nia regiment, who had saved it from their supply drawn 
from the quartermaster of their regiment. 

Mr. Thompson tells me that the men of this single regi- 
ment would freely give him a bushel of this same coffee if he 
would accept it, or could make any use of it. The soldiers are 
not allowed to send anything of the kind outside the lines of 
the army, and really know not what to do in many cases with 
their superfluous provisions. Mr. Thompson came in one day 
with his haversack filled with rice that had been given him. 

Sunday, March 20. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Williams 
returned from Brandy with the information that I was needed 
to preach this morning at General Meade's headquarters. I 
accordingly got on a freight car and rode to Brandy where I 
spent the night. In the evening I attended a meeting at the 
quarters of the contrabands. 

I was struck by the prayer of one of them, who, after 
dwelling on their troubles, said, '^Please, Lord, don't leave us, 
please. Lord, don't leave us!" and I feel sure that he will 
not, for if any people know how to pray these do. One of 
them, in speaking to me on this subject said, *^ Black men are 
bound to pray ; if they don't, what's gwine to become of them?" 
Uncle Dick in an e^ortation told his people that ^^only one 
prayer after all is needed, and that is that the Lord's will 
may be done." Another, in relating his experience, said, 
^'Bredren, I have found out that there is no doin' power in 
me." Another said that he had found it a '^gloryful thing" 
to beUeve in Jesus. 

Uncle Ben becomes at times very dramatic in his manner, 
and so excited that there is something strangely weird in his 
appearance. I heard him on Saturday evening describe the 


crucifixion, and in doing so he mingled the evangelical narra- 
tive with the coinage of his own imagination in a manner quite 
equal to anything in the sermons of Corbitt and Company. 
He represented the man who pierced the side of the Saviour 
as being ''old and blind," whose eyes were opened by the 
blood that spirted into his face.^ 

In the morning I took horse and rode to General Patrick's 
headquarters. He seemed very glad to see me, and informed 
me that General Meade wished to see me at his quarters. We, 
General Patrick and myself, called on General Williams, and 
we all went together to General Meade's tent. I found him 
looking in better health and spirits than when I saw him two 
or three weeks ago. He entered very freely into conversation 
with me which extended through about an hour, and in which 
he showed himself a well-informed and agreeable gentleman. 
Afterward we went to the chapel tent, and I preached to a very 
attentive congregation of about one hundred. 

I took occasion while at headquarters to make particular 
inquiry with regard to the operations of the Sanitary Commis- 
sion. The conclusion to which I was forced after hearing state- 
ments from Generals Meade, Williams, and Patrick was, that 
there is no way in which the Sanitary Commission can use any 
considerable amount of money so as to benefit our soldiers 
while they are in health or in winter quarters. The repre- 
sentations to which we have listened at home are not in accord- 
ance with the facts we find to exist here in Virginia. After 
preaching, I lunched with General Patrick and he sent a driver 
and ambulance to take me to the headquarters of General 
Birney, a distance of three or four miles. A mounted orderly 
accompanied us, or rather rode in advance of the ambulance, 
partly to show the way, and partly for the sake of keeping up 
appearances. The thing savors of ostentation to an extent 
that makes it distasteful to a plain Methodist preacher. 

I found a large congregation (some six hundred in a tem- 
ple or amphitheater built of logs, and many on the outside), to 
which I preached a plain and faithful sermon in rather a cold 
and dry manner. After service I rode with Mrs. General 

•Editor's Note: This story is by no means an invention of the Negro preacher, but was universally 
current in the middle ages. See Peebles, "The Legend of Longinus m Ecclesiastical Tradition." 


Birney and several staff officers to the house at which they 
reside for the present. I was introduced to General Birney, 
who invited me to spend the night with him, and treated me 
with other marks of politeness. He is in person tall and slim, 
with light hair and a light complexion. He has a fine forehead 
and eye, and is on the whole the best looking man I have seen 
in the army. I was furnished with a horse (and the everlast- 
ing orderly, of course), and rode over to Culpeper. 

March 21. This morning I borrowed a horse of Colonel 
Fowler and accompanied by Captain McClure rode to the front 
and ascended Cedar Mountain. At this point the government 
has a signal station that looks over into Secessia. Several of 
their camps are visible to the naked eye, and by the aid of a 
glass I saw some of the rebel soldiers on picket duty and ten 
or a dozen of them engaged in playing ball. The pickets of 
the two armies are here about two miles apart. In coming to 
this place we passed close by the battlefield of Cedar Mountain 
(or Slaughter's Mountain), where General Banks fought with 
Stonewall Jackson, and was compelled to retreat, if he did not 
suffer a positive defeat. I found the ride so fatiguing that on 
coming down from the mountain I took the cars for Culpeper, 
and had the orderly lead back the horse I borrowed of Colonel 

March 22. Left Culpeper at 8 o'clock this morning for 
Washington, which place we reached at 2 o'clock. Here we re- 
mained for only a few hours, and then passed on to Baltimore, 
where we spent the night with Mr. Watkins 's father. Had a 
good night's sleep in a good clean bed for the first time for 
alniost four weeks. 

March 23. Left Baltimore at 9 :20 and reached Philadel- 
phia at about one o'clock. Called at the rooms of the Christian 
Commission, and had a conversation with Mr. Stuart with 
regard to the condition of things in the army. He is a whole- 
souled man, and enthusiastic with regard to the doings of the 
Christian Commission. His qualifications are just such as are 
needed in his position, but from his constitutional pecularities 
it is inevitable that he should take sanguine views of what the 
Commission is accomplishing. 


The result of all the observations I have been able to make 
while in the army is : 

1. A profound conviction of the great importance of the 
work in which the Commission is engaged. In my judgment 
there is no moral enterprise of the age that has a stronger 
claim upon the Christians of America. The great want of the 
Army of the Potomac is evangelical efforts to save the souls 
of the soldiers. I am convinced : 

2. The reports that are made of the fruit already gath- 
ered in this field are a good deal exaggerated. The delegates, 
in their desire to give a good account of their labors, are con- 
stantly liable to overcolor their statements. I do not mean 
to intimate that they intend to deceive, but such is human 
nature, even when sanctified, that one has need to receive the 
reports of revivals at home, and as they are published in the 
religious newspapers, with some allowance. God bless the 
Christian Commission ; it is engaged in a good work. 

The End.