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Full text of "Selections from the letters and diaries of Brevet-Brigadier General Willoughby Babcock of the Seventy-fifth New York Volunteers: a study of camp life in the Union armies during the Civil War"

E 









SELECTIONS FROM THE 
AND DIARIES OF BREVET-BRIGADIER 
frERAL WILLOUGHBY BABCOCK OF 
THE SEVENTY- FIFTH NEW 
YORK VOLUNTEERS 




A STUDY OF CAMP LIFE IN THE UNION 
ARMIES DURING THE CIVIL WAR 



WILLOUGHBY M, BABCOCK JR 



Issued by the Division of Archives and History 

War of the Rebellion Series 

Bulletin 2 



THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK 
1922 



Y30T-J622-I200 



GIFT OF 





LIEUTENANT BABCOCK AND NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS 



THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, DIVISION OF ARCHIVES AND 

HISTORY 

October 13, 1922. 
Dr Frank P. Graves 

President of the University 

DEAR SIR: 

I herewith transmit and recommend for publication the 
Selections from the Letters and Diaries of Brevet Brigadier 
General Willoughby Babcock of the 75th New York Volunteers 
(a study of camp life in the Union armies during the Civil 
War), by Willoughby M. Babcock jr. This constitutes Bulletin 2 
of our War of Rebellion Series, the first bulletin ha.ving been that 
of Colonel Burt s Memoirs, published in 1903. 

This Division for many years past has devoted so much of its 
attention to the colonial and revolutionary periods of our history 
that other periods have been neglected. With this study of 
Mr Babcock s it is hoped to resume our activities in other periods 
of New York State s history. Mr Babcock has in his possession 
some two hundred letters of his grandfather and it is from these 
that he has made this interesting study on camp life, about which 
so little has been known. 

Very truly yours 

JAMES SULLIVAN 

State Historian and Director 
Approved for publication 

FRANK PIERREPONT GRAVES 

President of the University and 
Commissioner of Education 
[31 



PREFACE 

In reading over the collection of letters written during the 
Civil War by Brevet Brigadier General Willoughby Babcock of 
the Seventy-fifth New York Volunteers, my grandfather, I was 
much impressed by the wealth of detail about army life which 
they contain. Their author was constantly undergoing new 
experiences, and in everyday fashion he wrote about them to his 
wife. For her benefit he told what the soldiers ate, how they 
trained, what their amusements were, and many other details, 
but he carefully avoided frightening her with accounts of the 
fierce fighting through which the Seventy-fifth New York passed. 

Various circumstances have made it inadvisable to edit and 
publish his letters and diaries in full at the present time, but 
an attempt has been made in this work to make available the 
greater part of the material contained in them and to retain as 
far as possible the words and attitude of mind of the writer. 

WILLOUGHBY M. BABCOCK JR 
October 1922 



520H74 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Preface 5 

1. Introduction 11 

2. Camps and fortifications 16 

3. Commissary 38 

4. Camp life 44 

Routine 44 

Picket and guard duty 47 

Scouting service and reconnoissance 53 

Marches 56 

5. Transportation 64 

6. Organization 69 

Troops (personnel) 69 

Equipment 81 

Expenses 82 

Pay 85 

Discipline 87 

7. Recreation and mail 92 

8. The " contraband " question 100 

9. Feeling concerning the war 105 

17] 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Lieutenant Babcock and noncommissioned officers Frontispiece 

View of Fort McHenry, Baltimore. 20 

View of Bluffs at Port Hudson, fronting on the river taken 
from the citadel of rebel fortifications 32 

View of the rebel gun Alabama and battery fronting on the 
river, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of large gun (9-inch bore) on river front near to the S.S. 
Landing, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of parapet of rebel Priest Cap, showing central sap 
opposite Cox s battery, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of Priest Cap, showing lines of our sap, etc., approaching 
thereto, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of rebel Priest Cap, showing stakes planted by the Con 
federates to obstruct a night attack, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of Priest Cap rebel works, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of 19 gun battery (ours) taken from the citadel (Reb), 
showing the ditch and holes used by the Confederates at the 
citadel, Port Hudson, La 32 

View of rebel battery, opposite to Capt. Bainbridge s battery 
on our right of line, Port Hudson 32 

View of a section of Priest Cap rebel works, showing holes 
used by Confederates as huts during the siege of Port 
Hudson 32 

View of rebel gun opposite Holcrom s /battery, Port Hudson, 
La 32 

General Banks 74 

PLATES 

A regimental camp 28 

Formation of a regiment (ten companies) in line of battle, show 
ing the position of officers, etc 33 

[9] 



SELECTION-S FROM THE LETTERS AND DIARIES OF 
BREVET-BRIGADIER GENERAL WILLOUGHBY 
BABCOCK 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

In this discussion of various phases of camp life in the Union 
armies, during the Civil War, conditions are presented from the 
viewpoint of a volunteer officer, Lieutenant Colonel Willoughby 
Babcock of the Seventy-fifth New York Volunteers, as shown by 
letters written to his wife from the field. These letters, of which 
there are about two hundred, cover the period from January 
1860 to October 6, 1864, when Colonel B abcock died from the 
effects of a wound received in the Battle of Winchester, Virginia, 
September 19, 1864. These letters naturally fall into twelve 
groups according to the place from which they are written. 

The first group, consisting of thirty-six letters written during 
the period from January 1860 to the middle of April 1861, 
contains no material bearing 011 the topic. The second group 
contains fifteen letters written from Albany and New York 
while the regiment, the Third New York, was being organized 
and drilled preparatory to leaving for the front. The series 
closes May 30, 1861, when the force was ordered to Fortress 
Monroe, Virginia. The next group of twenty letters covers the 
period June 6 to July 24, 1861, during which the regiment was 
at Camp Hamilton, near Hampton, Virginia, not far from Old 
Point Comfort, and was initiated into the hardships of army 
life in the field. Here it had its baptism of fire, also, during 
the Battle of Great Bethel, in which the Union force was 
defeated with some loss. July 24, 1861, the regiment was 
ordered to move, with full equipment and supply of ball car 
tridge, supposedly toward Richmond, but actually to Baltimore, 
where it became a support to the garrison of Fort McHenry, 
one of the river forts guarding the city. Seventeen letters were 
written from this place, dated July 29 to October 27, while 
Lieutenant Babcock was sick and discouraged over the dis 
organization of the regiment, which culminated in a mutiny 
August 15, 1861, when its three months of service was completed. 

[HI 



12 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

On November 2, 1861, the writer of these letters tendered his 
resignation as first lieutenant of Company H, Third New York 
Volunteers, and hurried home to assume the captaincy of a com 
pany of Cayuga county volunteers. With this company he was 
mustered into the Sixty-fourth New York Volunteer regiment, 
but, upon receiving an appointment as major in the Seventy- 
fifth New York, he severed his connection with the former regi 
ment and reported for duty in the Seventy-fifth on December 2, 
1861. The fifth group contains twenty-four letters, covering 
the period December 1, 1861, to May 9, 1862. Three of these 
were written from New York, while the rest were from Santa 
Rcsa Island, Florida, where the regiment was encamped near 
Fort Pickens, which controlled the entrance to Pensacola harbor. 
Here the life was monotonous, broken occasionally by night 
alarms from the pickets, invariably false, and by the continual 
contest with millions of sand fleas and gnats. 

During the night of May 9, 1862, Pensacola was evacuated 
by the Confederates, who set fire to the fortifications and city 
upon leaving. Two days later Union forces from Santa Rosa, 
the Seventy-fifth, the Sixth New York, nicknamed " Wilson s 
Zouaves/ and a force of regulars, entered the city, and Major 
Babcock was appointed provost marshal and military governor 
of the town. During his period of service in this position, from 
May 15, until September 1, 1862, the seventeen letters forming 
the sixth group were written, and they show the character of the 
people he came in contact with, many of whom were runaway 
slaves. Thus the " Contraband " question was an important 
matter to be dealt with. 

The next group, of which there are but four letters, dated from 
September 1 to October 12, 1862, 1 was written from New 
Orleans, La., where the Seventy-fifth was stationed until the 
middle of October on garrison duty. News of McClellan s fail 
ure and defeat before Richmond began to reach them in the form 
of constant rumors of success and disaster, the latter being 
finally confirmed from northern sources. These letters reflect 
very strongly the feeling of depression which followed that with 
drawal. On January 9, 1863, orders were issued for the begin 
ning of a campaign into the Teche country, to operate from 

1 From October 15, 1862 to January 9, 1863 there are no letters, as 
Mrs Babeook arrived in New Orleans on November 3d, and stayed in Camp 
Kearney, some distance up the river from the city, with her husband until 
January 1863. 



INTRODUCTION 13 

Brashear City as a base of supplies, and the Seventy-fifth took 
the field as a part of the force sent out. The nineteen letters 
which compose this group were written from the field in the 
course of this expedition, which reached Alexandria, La., and 
then withdrew after a period of long exhausting marches, with 
little gain, except some cotton which had been seized. This 
period closed on May 24, 1863, when the regiment was sent as 
part of the army to attack Port Hudson, a powerful fortress on 
the Mississippi river. 

Eight letters describing the siege operations against this posi 
tion, which closed the Mississippi to gunboats dispatched from 
New Orleans to aid in the attack on Vicksburg, were sent to 
Mrs Babcock at Brashear City, La., with dates from May 30 
to July 9, 1863, when the Confederates surrendered to the 
besieging Union forces. Colonel Babcock took an active part in 
two assaults. While acting as brigade commander in charge of 
the skirmishers leading the attacking force in the second general 
assault of June 14th, he received a severe wound in the leg which 
incapacitated him from duty for some time. Returning from 
sick leave July 1st, he assumed command of the Seventy-fifth 
New York, and led his regiment in the place of honor imme 
diately following the Volunteer Thousand Storming Party, into 
Port Hudson, when the formal surrender of the fortress took 
place on the morning of July 9, 1863. At the end of this period 
of activity, the Seventy-fifth went into camp for rest for a time 
near Donaldsonville, La., and later near Thibodeaux, and from 
these camps the seven letters forming the next group were writ 
ten with dates from July 12th to August 1st. The regiment was 
worn out from the arduous service of the proceeding 5 months, 
and was to some extent disorganized, in consequence of its heavy 
loss in officers and men. 

On August 22d Colonel Babcock was relieved of his command 2 

2 Colonel Babcock was relieved of his command and court-martialed 
because he had criticized some actions of General Banks in a private letter 
sent to his home in Owego, N. Y. Through some oversight this letter was 
published in the local paper and came to the notice of General Banks. 
Convicted by the court-martial, Colonel Babcock was dismissed from the 
service of the United States, and was not again a member of the army 
until January 28, 1864, when he was reinstated upon the strong recom 
mendations of several of his superior officers. The letter never was intended 
for publication but was printed through the indiscretion of a friend. 
Colonel Babcock was not allowed t<? get witnesses to prove the truth of 
statements he had made, nor was he given sufficient opportunity to obtain 
papers and evidence necessary for his defense. The answer to the charge 
and other papers in connection with the case are extant, and together with 
the diaries throw light on the affair. 



14 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

and returned to New Orleans, where he remained until July 22, 
1864. On February 10, 1864, he became chief of staff of the 
cavalry division of West Mississippi, Department of the Gulf, 
and later inspector general 011 the same staff. The ten letters 
in the next group, covering only a short time at the end of this 
period after the departure of his wife for the North, June 26 to 
July 30, 1864, show something of conditions in Xew Orleans, 
of the meeting of the constitutional convention for reconstruc 
tion, and of his experiences while on cavalry inspection tours 
through the department. Colonel Babcock s diaries kept regu 
larly throughout the war until his death, throw further light on 
life in New Orleans during the period not covered by the letters. 
Himself strongly hostile to General Banks, he shows the growing 
feeling among the other officers in the department against the 
commanding general, and the lessening of his control over mili 
tary affairs in the district. 

The last group of twenty-four letters covers the period from 
August 2d to the death of the writer on October 6, 1864. Many 
of these are short and hastily written, as the Army of the 
Potomac under General Sheridan, to which the Seventy-fifth had 
been assigned, commenced a vigorous campaign against the Con 
federates under General Early, operating in the Shenandoah 
valley, shortly after Colonel Babcock reported for duty with his 
regiment at Tennallytown, D. C. These letters, written in a 
cramped, nervous hand, describe very fully certain forms of 
camp life which had been imperfectly shown in previous ones, 
and furnish valuable material for this study. From September 
14th to 17th, Colonel Babcock endeavored to obtain an order 
sending him home on recruiting service to fill up his regiment 
and had received the consent of all his superior officers except 
General Sheridan, who postponed it for a few days until a deci 
sive struggle with Early should have occurred. This battle took 
place on September 19, 1864, the Battle of Winchester or 
Opequan Creek, where Sheridan defeated the Confederates in a 
desperate engagement with very heavy losses. In the ccurse 
of a charge across an open field in the face of a murderous fire, 
Colonel Babcock received a severe wound in the thigh, from the 
effects of which he died in the Winchester hospital on October 
6, 1864. 3 

3 Besides the letters written by Colonel Rabcock, there are several in 
the collection written by other people to him during this period, which 
contain information on the subject of the study and have been used to 
supplement the others. 



INTRODUCTION 15 

Colonel Babccck seems to have been a very able and efilcient 
officer, judging from letters and statements made by his superior 
officers at the time of his dismissal and after his death, and 
from the number of special assignments he received detaching 
him from his regiment and the compliments given for the per 
formance of them. According to statements the family received 
after his death the men esteemed him highly, although he had 
the reputation of being a strict disciplinarian. They felt that 
he was willing to lead where he ordered them to go. He rose 
in rank steadily from the position of first lieutenant in the Third 
Xew York, in which regiment he enlisted April 18, 1861, to 
a captaincy in the Sixty-fourth Xew York, was elected major 
of the Seventy-fifth, and finally became lieutenant colonel in 
the same regiment, a position he held until his death. He was 
in command of his regiment much of the time, because of the 
ill health of Colonel Merritt, and in charge of the brigade at 
different times both during the siege of Port Hudson and subse 
quently. He acted as a member of several courts-martial as 
judge advocate, served as military governor of Pensacola for 4 
months in 1862, and held the positions of chief of staff under 
General Lee, and inspector general of cavalry in the Depart 
ment of the Gulf under General Davidson for 6 months in 1864. 
Congress, after his death, brevetted him colonel and brigadier 
general for gallantry on the field of Winchester. 



CHAPTER II 

CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 

CAMPS 

When news of the firing on Fort Sumter reached the people 
of the North through the newspapers on the evening of Saturday, 
April 13, 18 61, enthusiasm for the war showed itself immedi 
ately. The Legislature of the State of New York acted 
promptly by voting " a war bill for $ 2,000,000 and a tax to 
raise it," 1 and public meetings for raising the thirteen regiments 
required were held everywhere, in which " the fever for volun 
teering ran high." As troops began to pour into Albany and 
other concentration points for muster into the service of the 
United States, the lack of preparation of the state for handling 
large bodies of men became evident. Facilities were lacking 
for feeding the men promptly at meal times, clothing of poor 
quality was hastily furnished by contractors, 3 and housing 
arrangements were poor. 

When Company H, Third New York Volunteer regiment, 
arrived in Albany on April 28th, it was assigned to temporary 
quarters in the Adams House. 4 The officers were quartered in 
the Delevan House. Four days later the company, as a part of 
a larger force of one thousand troops, was transferred to the 
Albany Barracks, " a large brick building." 5 " Our quarters 
is a bare unfurnished room in the fourth story of the main build 
ing, stretching from front to rear, with six large windows, two 
on each of three sides, along the sides of which, on the floor, our 
straw beds are ranged. We have straw beds and blankets no 
other sleeping accommodations. Four captains and eight lieuts. 
now occupy it. We have one large table to write on, a few 
rickety chairs, one wash bowl and pitcher, a couple of pails, and 
a spittoon. Scattered around are satchels, valises, shoe brushes, 
swords, boxes of epaulets, cigars etc." 6 The men slept " in 



1 Afss Diary of W. Babcock, April 16, 1861. 
*Ibid., April 18th. 

3 Henry Hall, "A Record of the 10th N. Y. Volunteers, and 3d New York 
Artillery." In Cayuga in the Field, p. 31 (Auburn, N". Y., 1873). 

4 Diary, April 2S, 1861. 

5 W. Babcock to Mrs Babcock, Albany, N. Y., April 28, 1861. References 
to Colonel Bibcock s letters to his wife will hereafter be by place and date 
only. 

6 /6tU, May 3, 1861. 

[16] 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 17 

bunks ranged one over another three deep, but so apart as to 
allow a free and perfect circulation of air all through the lofty 
rooms from windows on each side." 

Upon the arrival of the Seventy-fifth New York in New 
Orleans early in September of 1S62, 8 it was assigned to quar 
ters in the United States Barracks there, and the men proceeded 
to make themselves comfortable during their stay. " You would 
be amused to see how quick our men supply themselves with 
comforts and accommodations here, and everywhere they go. 
Tables, stools, bedsteads, mosquito bars, and all sorts of furni 
ture which can be used, seem to come out of rough lumber by 
magic. I trust I have learned to look out for myself very well. 
I have, today, besides my military duties, got me a new table, 
stool, bedstead, and a frame for my mosketo bars. I have got a 
table for Carpenter 9 nearly made. I got up a stove and was able 
to invite several officers to dinner an excellent dinner at home 
in my own quarters. 7 

Life in the barracks, however, formed a very small part of 
army service during the war. There was only a short time in 
any case when a regiment could remain idle in barracks, for the 
total available force was needed at all times to aid in carrying- 
on the war. As a result, tents were the usual means of sheltering 
an army on a campaign. These were of two kinds, the wall 
tents and the shelter tents. Under ordinary circumstances the 
regulation is A" tents were carried with the army on wagons 
following the advance closely. 

The Third regiment first encamped under canvas at the Bat 
tery in Xew York City while waiting orders to leave for the 
front. " For the first time, I have builded me a house this after 
noon. It is a little tent, rectangular on the floor, about 8 by 12 
feet, and shaped like a low Swiss cottage with a very sharp 
gable and steep roof. Our boys are quartered in 20 tents which 
are ranged on each side of a street about 30 feet wide and 10 



7 Ibid., April 28, 1861. 

8 At this period Lieutenant Babcock had become lieutenant colonel of the 
Seventy-fifth Xew York. He served with the Third Xew York until Novem 
ber 1, 1861, when he left it to become captain in the Sixty-fourth regi 
ment, and later major of the Seventy-fifth Xew York Volunteers. Colonel 
Dodge resigned June 21, 1862, and Lieutenant Colonel Merritt became 
colonel, and Major Babcock, lieutenant colonel by promotion. 

9 Lieutenant Lewis E. Carpenter, quartermaster of the Seventy-fifth 
New York. 

10 Steamer Ocean Grove, and New Orleans, La., September 5, 1862. 
(Letter begun September 2d.) 



18 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

rods long, which comes up to and stops at my tent. Four boys 
are quartered in each tent, the Capt. has a tent, and the two 
Lieuts. have one together/ Furnishings were few and rude, a 
" rough board table " and a " straw mattress on which I must 
soon camp down and rest for the morrow/ 

After a few days here, the regiment advanced to a point about 
a mile from Hampton, Va., near Old Point Comfort, and pitched 
camp. Arriving late in the afternoon and not receiving the tents 
until dark, the soldiers merely set up a few tents for shelter 
from the rain until morning, when permanent arrangements 
were made according to army regulations for a camp. " It was 
10 o clock when I got in out of the rain, wet with rain and 
perspiration, and lay down on a blanket on the wet soil of a 
cornfield, and, blocked up on one side by my valise, and on the 
other by some tent poles, I managed to get some rest. I was 
up by 5 o clock this morning, and have been hard at work ever 
since. Our tents had all to be struck and rebuilt in order." 13 

The site was a pleasant one near Hampton Roads, about 2% 
miles from Fort Monroe, Va., but " in the enemy s country " 
with rebel batteries and fortifications in plain view, and constant 
vigilance was required to prevent attack and loss of men and 
stores by capture in sudden raids. 14 " The houses all about here 
are deserted, and the little village of Hampton right in sight of 
us, has not a dozen white people in it. Houses, lands, provi 
sions, furniture etc., were all left at the approach of the Zouaves 
a few days ago. This morning, a half dozen of our officers went 
out on a sort of marauding expedition across an arm of the bay 
to Hampton, and ransacked a number of houses. Pianos, beds, 
stoves, tables, and in some cases tables spread for meals were 
found a few days ago as the occupants habitually left them, but 
now mostly displaced." 15 



"New York City, May 21, 1861. 



13 Near Hampton, Va., June 6, 1861. 

" We are here in a most beautiful region on the Hampton Roads where 
earth and sea vie with each other in loveliness. Our camp is in the enemy s 
country, and across the bay in plain sight of us is SewalPs Point, and a 
little farther up is the mouth of Acquia creek, both now famous as the 
seat of batteries of the Secessionists. Yesterday and today, there has been 
cannonading j n full view of us, between the little steamer Harriet Lane 
and the batteries. Last night, the enemy were up in some force within a 
mile of us, and four men stole as many barrels of our crackers. Their 
scouting parties come* down quite to where our outposts are." Near Hamp 
ton, Va., June 6, 1861. 

15 Near Hampton, Va., June 6, 1861. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 19 

After a few days spent in the organization of the camp, drills 
began and everything was arranged for a long stay. Furniture 
appeared as if by rnagic for the tents, and the men were not 
averse to fresh meat and food which was stolen from a hostile 
country in spite of regulations against such actions. 16 As the 
heat of summer in the southern states began to make itself felt, 
arrangements were made for the comfort of the men thus forced 
to live in hot canvas tents pitched on the sea sand, by setting 
drills early in the morning or late in the afternoon, 17 by sheltering 
the guards as much as possible, and by looping up the tents on 
all sides so a,s to give a free circulation of air throughout. 18 
Bushes were cut and stuck up over the tents of the men and 
awnings were utilized to shelter the officers 7 quarters. Havelocks 
also were furnished to the men to guard against sunstroke. 19 Not 
much was done during this summer heat, for exhaustion and 
sickness followed any unusual exertion during the neon hours. 
A single expedition and battle, that of Great Bethel, in which 
the Union forces were defeated, showed the futility of attempt 
ing any vigorous advance during the hot weather, for the men, 
exhausted by a night march, a battle during the heat of the day 
and a 12-mile march home again, were used up completely for 
several days following, and the sick list showed a perceptible 
increase for some time. 20 

On July 26th, the Third "New York was ordered to Washing 
ton to reinforce the garrison there, but the destination was 
changed to Fort McHenry, Baltimore, and camp was pitched 
near the walls. " Our camp here is quite unsupplied with con 
veniences. Wkter must be got within the F ort. We have no 
floors for our tents but the grass which is nature s carpeting. 



16 Ibid., Friday, June 7, 1861. (Letter begun June 6th.) 

17 Camp Hamilton. Va., June 14, 1861. 

18 Ibid., June 21, 166-1. (Letter begun June 20th.) 

19 Havelocks, so called after Sir Henry Havelock, an English general, 
were a kind of cloth cover slipped on over, or instead of, a cap, hanging 
down over the neck and shoulders for protection against the sun. 

20 " Several of our boys are quite exhausted and sick from sheer fatigue. 
You can have no conception of the terrible fatigue of one battle day. We 
marched several miles from Hampton on the double quick step a sort 
of run and it nearly killed the men off." Camp Hamilton, Va., June 
14, 1861. 

The battle of Great Bethel took place on June llth, a Union force 
being sent by night to surprise the Confederate works near New 
Bethel. Through delays, the attack was not made until 9 o clock in the 
morning. " We drew off in good order about 12^ o clock. It was a weary 
march home 12 miles in a hot sun. Exhausted as we were, we accom 
plished it by sunset. Many were quite worn out." Diary, June llth. 



20 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

Nary chair is to be had, nor a bedstead. So we sit on trunks, 
on the ground and lie on our beds. I have not even a nail to 
hang a vest on. But it is a beautiful pla,ce after all. The 
waters of the bay and river surrounded by such rich verdure, 
and then the ever moving fleet of white sails near us make it 
very pleasant. We have a delightful bathing place too. So that 
on the whole we are as well encamped as we have been anywhere. 
There is no such cool breeze as we had at Oamp Hamilton, but 
the city is near us with all its conveniences." In this camp as 
in the other, however, furniture made its appearance in the form 
of camp stools and tables, although floors were still lacking 22 and 
the men settled down for another period of inactivity. 

Nevertheless, health conditions were not altogether satisfac 
tory, for the site chosen for the camp was unhealthful, and fever 
made its appearance. Lieutenant Babcock himself became sick 
with typhoid fever, and was invalided home on furlough for 6 
weeks. 23 On his return to duty early in October, he wrote : " I 
find it very sickly where we are. Several deaths have occurred, 
and more are likely to occur of fever." The cold, rainy fall 
came on and caused general discomfort among the men, sorely 
in need of new tents and warm blankets to replace those which 
had been in use all summer. 

The Seventy-fifth New York, in which regiment Lieutenant 
Babcock had been elected major, was ordered to Santa Kosa 
Island, Florida, and left New York City December 6, 1861. 
" We are to be encamped at Pickens 25 near the walls, right on the 
bare white sand, in full view and easy range of two rebel Forts 
and the Navy Yard battery. Any bombardment of Pickens 
would drive us out helpless as we are instant er. Good 
water is easy gotten on the Island and the location is quite as 
healthy summer and winter, as there is on the globe. The sun 
shines very hot here now, at mid-day, but there is a breeze all 

21 Fort MeHenry, Baltimore, August 2, 1861. 

22 7Md., Friday, August 9, 1861. (Letter begun August 7th.) 

23 August 17 to October 8, 1861. Diary, 1861. 

24 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, October 8*, 1861. 

25 Fort Pickens was a large fortification of solid masonry on Santa Rosa 
island, commanding the channel which gave entrance to Pensacola harbor. 
When the Confederates seized the fortifications guarding the harbor and 
town on the mainland, they also attempted to get Fort Pickens, but the 
place was too well garrisoned and fortified. As long as the Union forces 
held this island and fort, the harbor and port of Pensacola were practically 
useless to the Confederates as a shipping point. A blockading fleet, also, 
was on guard duty just beyond the reefs and bar which lined the entrance. 
See following section dealing with fortifications. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 21 

the time." 26 Camp was established between two parallel sand 
ridges, all on one street with headquarters for the field and staff 
officers in a large shed covered with canvas inside of which the 
tents were pitched. 27 The ingenuity of the men was again exer 
cised to good advantage, and tables, washstands, shelves and 
chairs made their appearance. 28 " We have room plenty, shade, 
good water and sufficient attendance." 29 

Secure and easy-going as it appeared, the element of danger 
was not lacking from the life on Santa Rosa island. The camp 
of the regiment was within " easy range of two rebel forts and 
the RTavy Yard battery. Any bombardment of Pickens would 
drive us out helpless as we are, instanter." " In the tent 
where I dined yesterday was a ragged hole in the roof and a 
corresponding one in the floor where a fragment of a shell from 
secessia came down through, the other day. The piece lay there 
still. A spent ball from Fort McRea came over Fort Pickens, 
dashed through the same tents, knocked over camp stools, table 
and crockery all into indiscriminate ruin, going out through 
the rear of the tent. Fragments of rebel shells are abundant and 
two large shells lie in our street, which were thrown the other 
day and failed to explode. 31 Everything looks serious all about 
us." 3a On the night of May 9, 1862, when the evacuation of 
Pensacola by the Eebels took place and Fort Pickens and the 
Union batteries opened on forts McRee and Barrancas on the 



26 Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 14 [15], 1861. 

27 Ibid., December 16 [17], 1861. (Letter begun December 14 [15].) 

" I have one large tent by myself ( I am entitled to two ) which is all 
I want or can use. It is neatly framed and floored, and. I have for fur 
niture, my camp bed, a good pine table, a wash cupboard, shelves and nails 
for all my books, notions, and clothes. My bed is a cot, over which for 
a mattress I have a thick quilt doubled, a quilt for a pillow and my 
blanket and another nice quilt for bed clothing. ... I am to have 
some barrel chairs in a day or two." Ibid., December 20, 1861. 

29 Ibid. 

30 Ibid., December 14 [15], 1S61. 

31 A surprise attack was attempted by the Confederates on the night of 
October 9, 1861, from the rear, against Colonel Wilson s Zouaves. The 
force landed on the eastern end of the island by night and, driving in or 
killing the pickets stationed in a line across the island about 3 miles from 
the fort, nearly succeeded in capturing the camp. A sharp engagement 
took place and the Confederates were finally defeated. In retaliation, on 
November 22-23d Fort Pickens as well as the other Union batteries com 
manding the rebel works on the mainland bombarded the whole position 
furiously. In the course of this cannonading, the shells spoken of were 
hurled. War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Con 
federate Armies, series I, VI: 469-71. 

32 Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 16 [17], 1861. (Letter begun 
December 14 [15].) 



22 LETTERS OP GENERAL BABCOCK 

mainland, to prevent further destruction by incendiarism, the 
two regiments on the island were moved some 2 miles back from 
the fort in order to protect them from any return shell fire. 33 
None occurred, however, as the rebels were too anxious to leave 
Pensacola to reply to such a terrific bombardment. 

Discomforts were many in this camp, also, although Colonel 
Babcock did his best to minimize them. As the camp was situ 
ated on the white sand of the shore, the reflection of the sun 
and the intense heat again forced the drills and other work about 
camp to be put in the early morning or late afternoon. 34 Millions 
of sand fleas infested the island and the men retired each night 
and " began a battle with the fleas/ 7 35 which had taken refuge in 
their beds. 

Heavy wind and rain storms swept across the gulf, striking 
the island with their full force, and threatening to wreck the 
encampment erected on its shore. " To-night our little canvas 
shelter shakes and rattles and flaps in the breeze or rather in 
the gale I should say as if it would at any moment come down 
on our heads. It is well that the frame which sustains our awn 
ing is stout and that it is held down by three heavy wire cables 
or it would be blown to shreds in ten minutes. I have tied up 
my tent as tight as I can, and hung up blankets over the only 
opening in it, fastened everything taught, but my papers fly, my 
candle flares and melts, and my table shakes in the general dis 
turbance." x The fierce gales carried the fine, loose, sand every 
where, into the tents, beds and food, driving it with great force 
against the faces of such as were forced to be out in the storm. 37 

The heavy wall tents were not, however, available for active 
campaigning, since a large number of wagons were required for 
their transportation, necessitating slow movements by the army. 
The men when on the march carried the light shelter tent, which 



33 Diary, May 9, 1862. 

a4 8anta Rosa island, Florida, May 6, 1S62. (Letter begun May 5th.) 

35 Ibid., February 7, 1862. (Letter begun February 6th.) 

36 Ibid., March 2, 1862. 

37 " The wind came up over night and blew this morning tremendously. 
The sand drifts and flies into one s face, eyes, and ears, tent, into his bed, 
among his papers, and even into the victuals, in the kitchen. 

The wind -howls and sweeps around us tonight a perfect gale, blows down 
tents and drives the sharp sand into every cranny. ... I have finished 
a nice door to my tent, which one of the boys has been making a frame for 
today, a canvass door of course. Mine is covered with a bed tick and is 
quite tight and snug, and keeps out much cold air which has been in the 
habit of coming in without rapping at my casements." Ibid., March 6, 1862. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 23 

furnished protection from the elements very quickly with mini 
mum effort and required no time to strike, ready for a move. 
" I have just got up a little shelter tent, by favor of my faith 
ful Daniel, 38 and it affords me just room to lie down with my 
head either way. My saddle is arranged for my pillow, my 
saddle blanket is my carpet, and my brown blankets are my bed. 
My furniture consists as yet only of the old red desk which 
stands on the ground facing my bed and I lie down on my elbow 
to write." 39 

" Imagine a little, long low house in which a five-year old 
baby could just stand up at the ridge, a house made of two shelter 
tents, long enough and snug enough for a bed for two or two and 
a half, carpeted with a few leaves and a little straw. . . . You 
would think I must be at the furthest end but I am not, for 
beyond me are saddles, valises, pistols, sabers, field glasses, dirty 
clothes, harness, and other miscellaneous gear enough to make a 
neat housekeeper mad. My candle and ink repose together on 
my coat which is folded on my saddle for a pillow. I sit coiled 
upon our blankets, like a Turk on his rug, twisting about to get 
an easy position, and hope for a full night s rest our greatest 
aspiration here." * During a storm, the discomforts of living in 
a shelter tent were increased, for the canvas kept off only part 
of the rain and there was nothing to prevent the ground water 
from running under the edges into the tent. 41 As September 
came, the nights began to grow cold and the only refuge was 
inside the blankets forming the bed, since there was little protec 
tion afforded by the light shelter tunts. " On a rainy dark day 
I tire of this little cramped up house, where the only attitude of 
tolerable comfort is to be prone on one s back, a house whose 
only and scanty merit is that it keeps out the rains." 42 

38 Daniel was a fugitive slave who had come into Pensacola in 1862, 
while Colonel Babcock was military governor there. From that time he 
had served him as a body servant. 

59 Tennallytown, D. C., August 10, 1864. 

40 Near Berryville, Va., September 11, 1864. 

41 " Last night as I went to bed it was even more bright than now [a 
moonlight night] and we scarcely thought of storm, and yet in an hour 
it was raining torrents, dripping on our heads, running under our beds in 
rills, washing into our boots, spoiling our papers that we had incautiously 
left out, and generally making us uneasy lest we should get soaked. We 
slept by spells, in much worriment, till daybreak, when it was no delight 
ful task, nor one I would wish you to share, to get up and hunt one s wet 
clothes, boots and belt in the dark, and turn out to stand to arms in a 
pouring rain. But it had to be done! ... It has rained by showers 
nearly all day and we have been perfecting our house until tonight it is 
proof against bad weather, and we will sleep nicely." Ibid., September 11, 

42 Berryville, Va., September 14, 1864. 



24 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

When the troops stayed in one place for several days, addi 
tions to the shelter tents were built of boughs or rails from neigh 
boring fences. " We have a good large bough house for shelter, 
and Major Thurber is working away with the aid of the boys 
putting up our shelter tent to open like a bed room out of our 
parlor; so that we cannot complain of any hardship." 43 A few 
days later Colonel Babcock writes: "We took down o<ur house 
yesterday and built a wall of rails for it about two feet high, 
built us a bunk of rails softened with straw, and pitched our 
shelters high enough so that I am able now to sit comfortably 
on the bed and write on my ammunition box very like a 
Christian." 44 

One other type of shelter for an army in the field seems to 
have been used extensively in bivouacs for a few days, the rude 
hut, constructed hastily by the soldiers cut of boughs or broad 
fence rails. Wliile Lieutenant Babcock was with the Third regi 
ment in Virginia in June 1861, the pickets built and used these 
huts for protection from the heat and to some degree from bad 
weather. " The ingenuity of our predecessors has constructed 
numerous little huts of boughs and rails, and a little beyond the 
old Hut, [an old deserted negro cabin] in the shelter of the 
forest, and but a step from the road you can find what is now 
the Officers Quarters , a place. ... of some ingenuity and 
pretensions. ... A large wild grape vine has climbed to the 
top of a vigorous mulberry tree and wound and interlaced itself 
all about its boughs and among the boughs of a couple of thriving 1 
saplings close by it, and hanging down over the outer boughs of 
them all, it forms a beautiful little bower. The limbs and brush 
have been cleaned away under it, and a rustic seat erected. . . . 
The rays of the sun are all shut out and the cool breeze from 
the North comes along the clearing and rustles through the 
trees." 45 

Much less ornamental than this headquarters for the picket 
guard in a Virginia forest but far more useful were the rude 
shelters erected by the soldiers, first near Opelousas, and later 
on the lines besieging Port Hudson, La., in 1863. " It is a 

43 Near Charlestown, Va., September 2, 1S64. 

44 Berryville, Va., September 16, 1864. (Letter begun September 14th.) 

45 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 2, 1861. 

"We went out yesterday morning on picket duty and our company was 
quartered at the little bower of which I wrote you. ... In the fore 
noon it was very pleasant. ... It rained a little in the afternoo^ 
but was comparatively comfortable until near midnight when it began to 
rain in torrents, and absolutely poured down steadily, until long after 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 25 

delightful place where we are, in a beautiful level plain, like 
one of our Homer meadows, as bright and green as ever you 
saw, and a few minutes ago it was dotted with a magnificent 
herd of cattle. The weary soldiers are building their huts with 
the broad rails from the fences, plucking chickens, cutting up 
beef, and making ready for a luxurious rest over the morrow." 46 
" We are shut out from the civilized world by groves of trees 
on every side. In front, bounded like our camp by trees, is a 
beautiful parade, in rear are a number of nice springs bubbling 
out like our Northern springs, all around us is contented, ani 
mated life. My house has as yet but an imperfect roof and two 
sides, all made of fence pickets, but Daniel will complete it 
before night, so as to keep the sun out. As for rain, let it come 
and to the earth which way it will. Daniel is sweeping off the 
turf around my house, as good natured as he is busy. The horses 
stand near in the shade, and the hum of camp has a subdued 
Sunday sound." 47 

A bough hut sheltered the besiegers in some of the positions 
on the Port Hudson line, offering a certain amount of protection 
against the bullets of the sharpshooters, and a refuge from the 
heat. 48 During the campaign of August and September of 1864, 
a combination of shelter tents and bough huts was used, since 
the shelter hut merely furnished room for sleeping quarters. 
" Regimental Hd. Qrs. are in the field behind the center [of the 
line of works] where Major Thurber and myself have a good 

daylight this morning. I lay down about 10 o clock, somewhat tired, and 
fixed my bed on a little sloping platform of slats so that water would not 
stand on it. My bed of course, was my rubber blanket, and this time I 
had my large white blanket. When it began to rain I rolled up in my 
white blanket and stretched the rubber blanket over head and feet and 
addressed myself again to sleep. While it poured in streams over head 
and feet and body, I slept away, waking often but falling away again until 
near daylight when it began to be so wet, that I had to be conscious of it. 
Dan Rice/ our boy, lay near me on his rubber blanket with a woolen one 
over him, wet to the skin, snoring away for dear life. Capt. Catlin was 
by my side, wet as a rat, and all around us in the little bush tents, the 
boys were keeping out rain as well as might be." Ibid., July 7, 1861. 
(Letter begun July 5th.) 

46 Opelousas, La., April 20, 1863. 

47 Ibid., April 26, 1863. 

48 " I do not know that I shall live to write my name to this letter 
. . . for one bullet has passed through my shelter of boughs since I have 
been writing. 

"You may be sure that I am by this time very tired, for I have not 
had a fair sleep since we parted, unless my rest last night can be called 
fair, when I slept without a dry thread of clothing, within fifty feet of 
a battery which was firing a good deal, amid the thunders of the mortars 
of the fleet, and the incessant rattle of the sharpshooters rifles not far to 
the front." Near Port Hudson, La., May 30, 1863. 



26 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

sized house of boughs along the back side of which we have a 
good seat of rails, which answers for a lounge in front of this 
a table on which I write, and on the floor a carpet of straw. 
Major T. is building a toilet stand with a cracker box, which 
will fill one corner. In front it is open, and a sentry paces his 
beat. At my right opening into the house, is my shelter tent, 
carpeted with a large oilcloth, and in it you could see our bed 
as we got out of it, solid if not ornamental. . . . Daniel is 
just back of me, busy washing my clothes and doing some other 
jobs of the sort for which he receives postal currency." 49 

Sometimes when a halt was 1 made only for the night the men 
did not take the trouble to pitch tents or build bough huts, but 
merely lay down on the ground wrapped in their blankets. 
Tent-flies were erected for the officers. 50 In the course of the 
march to attaek Port Hudson conditions were even worse than 
usual. "In the morning we went to Bayou Sara [from Mor- 
ganzia] , and landed, where we cooked two days rations and then, 
in the afternoon, in the worst dust I ever saw, cooped up 
between high hedges all the way, marched to a point above Port 
Hudson, in the woods near the river. We lay down in a dry, 
dusty corn-field after dark, and without water to wash or much 
to drink, tried to rest. Early next morning. Tuesday, we wound 
our way through the worst roads I ever saw in the woods, (we 
have seen worse every day since,) to a field about 3/4 of a mile 
from the enemy s outer lines of defense, where their pickets had 
been driven in the day before by Col. Van Zandt s brigade. 
Here we lay until Wednesday morning, and had a very fair 
chance to rest, though greatly troubled by scarcity of water." 

Shelter was often obtained for the troops when -they reached 
towns or cities by commandeering empty buildings for their 
accommodation. 52 This process became a favorite means with the 
officers in getting suitable houses for regimental, brigade and 
division headquarters. 53 The officers of the first body of troops 
to come up would requisition the best houses for headquarters, 
and other later forces had to take what was left. A similar 
process was employed in getting quarters for the staff officers 
attached to the headquarters of the Department of the Gulf in 

49 Near Charlestown, Va., September 11, 1864. 

50 Near Franklin, La., April 14, 1863. 

51 " Port Hudson or Thereabouts," La., May 30, 1863. 

52 Baltimore. Md., July 20, 1861. 

53 Camp Fubbard, near Thiborleaux, August 1, 1863. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 27 

New Orleans. A formal inventory was taken 54 and houses were 
commandeered for the use of the army. A superior officer could 
and did order subordinates to find other quarters, if he desired 
the house they had. 55 

The permanent regimental camps were laid out according to a 
given plan prescribed " by army regulations." A large space was 
always reserved in front of the line of tents for the battalion 
parade ground. 56 " Our streets are being regularly ditched and 
leveled, drains dug in rear of tents, arches built for fire places 
and the ground in front of the officers tents smoothed and cleaned 
off. I have made a diagram of our camp all regimental camps 
are alike, by regulation. . .~ . 

" Where the letters A. B. O. D. etc. are is the front of the 
camp where we form our regimental line. The streets of the 
privates and sergeants and corporals are numbered from right to 
left 123456 etc., one for each company perpendicular to 
the front. Each company has a street with a row of tents on 
each side facing inward. The row of circles which you see is 
the company kitchens. The next row, running parallel to the 
front and perpendicular to the Company streets is the tents of 
the Non Commissioned Staff, consisting of Assistant Surgeon, 
Quarter Master s Sergeant, Sergeant Major, Drum Major etc. 
The next row is that of the officers of the line, Captains & 
Lieuts. I have marked my tent with a cross and Capt. Catlin s 
with a little circle. In rear of us are the tents of the Col. 
Lieut. Col. Major & Col. s staff consisting of Chaplain, Adjutant, 
Quarter Master and Surgeon." 57 This was the normal arrange 
ment of a regimental camp, but circumstances often altered the 
form. On Santa Eosa island, owing to the conformation of the 
ground, the camp was " pitched between two sand ridges running 
parallel to the Island all on one street." 

54 " We have not lacked our evening sport today. Yesterday I went with 
Col. Sherburne [chief of staff under General Davidson] and we had this 
house assigned to us as quarters. By the way, they count the rooms in 
houses now. and assign a house to two or more officers. Today at 5 P. M. 
the Qr. Mr s. Clerk came up to take an inventory of the property here." 

"Well, they will have to go out in a day or two. Col. Sherburne will 
have the front rooms. . . . Col. S. expects his wife and children soon, 
and I shall probably live with them." New Orleans, La., July 13, 1864. 
(Letter begun July 12th.) 

55 " Gen. Davidson [the new chief of cavalry! has taken the Slocum 
House, and notified Lt. Col. Abert and Capt. Crosby to get out of it today. 
This highly summary mode of getting a house is superior to the patent 
of Major Carpenter and myself." New Orleans, La., June 26, 1864. 

56 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 24, 1861. 

57 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 24, 1861. 

58 Santa Rosa Island, Fla., December 16, 1861. (Letter begun December 
14 [15], 1861.) 



28 



LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 



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CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 29 

It was difficult to keep a camp occupied by such a large num 
ber of men, clean and sanitary, but this was accomplished as 
far as possible by changing the site at intervals, and by a general 
cleaning up of the grounds. " On Saturday afternoons, once in 
two weeks, we strike our tents, tip up the floors, clear out the 
rats, sweep up and air everything. It would interest you to see 
us take down our village. Three taps of the drum, and the men 
stand by their tents and loosen the cords. Then a single tap of 
the drum, and the officer at the head of each company street 
orders Strike/ when down goes the whole camp in an instant. 7 59 

The question of water supply was always one of great import 
ance in the selection of a camp site, for on it would depend in 
large degree the health of the force. In Virginia, near the coast, 
where the Third regiment was encamped, the water was more or 
less brackish, and not clear, but as no other was available the 
men had to use it. 60 Of the water encountered near Vermillion 
river in Louisiana, Colonel Babcock says, " We found the water 
poor [along the line of march] and our men were terribly 
thirsty and footsore when at six o clock we stopped for the 
night and bivouacked behind our line of stacks. There was ,a 
large lake just in front of us, but the water was such as cattle 
at the North could not be induced to drink, muddy, dark, and so 
full of vegetable matter decayed and decaying, that the coffee 
made from it was almost intolerable. Of course fever and ague 
must follow the use of it." 61 

Such, then, were the camps themselves, with their problems 
of shelter for so many hundred, of keeping the camp site as 
free as possible from waste and filth, which would breed disease, 
and of securing a good water supply, to prevent sickness, with 
its attendant reduction of battle efficiency in the regiment and 
army. 

FORTIFICxVTIONS 

Two classes of fortifications call for consideration: the field 
works, erected for protecting a camp or firing line; and the 
more permanent forts and batteries guarding important points, 
both Union and Confederate. 

The usual means of defending a camp or firing line from a 
surprise attack was an abattis, ordinarily constructed of felled 

59 Fort MoHenry, Baltimore, October 27, 1861. 

80 Camp Hamilton, Va., June 27, 1861. (Letter begun June 25th.) 

81 Near Vermillion river, La., April 18, 1863. 



30 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

trees with the branches extending outward from the position. 62 
Some entrenching was done, and the whole line, if possible, 
guarded by redoubts or field forts, 63 in which the batteries were 
placed in such a position as to command the line of approach. 
As attacks usually were made by rushes in mass formation directly 
through the field of fire, under cover of cannonading from their 
own batteries the losses were heavy in attempting to take such a 
defended position. 64 

The difficulty of attacking a place of this sort is shown by a 
letter describing the first assault on Port Hudson. "Our way 
led through the woods, over the most broken ground I ever saw, 
obstructed by deep gulches, running every way, trees and brush, 
and in some places by rude abattis made by the enemy. ;v! ij r ;;u, 
At six o clock the advance began. . . . We pushed on 
through the woods, keeping as good a line as we could, and by 
seven o clock the woods resounded with the volleys of the advance 
and the enemy s first line. Shortly after the firing commenced, 
we overtook the first line (Col. Van Zandt s brigade) 65 and at the 
moment cf reaching the enemy s position on the crest of a high 
ridge, passed them all. . . . Before us was an immense 
broken hollow, or as we afterwards found, succession of hollows 
in one large one, in which the enemy had felled trees in every 
direction, leaving only one road forward to this position, a road 
which was swept by grape and canister from a battery of five 
guns, one rifled forty-two and four smaller ones, situated on a 
high hill beyond. 

" In these hollows, were 1500 Arkansas troops, some concealed 
and firing, others already fleeing." 66 A desperate charge carried a 
small force of men through this road to a very advanced position 



B2 Santa Rosa island, Fla., January 3, 1861. 
63 IUd., February 15, 1862. (Letter begun February 6th.) 
64 " Our Regt. was the advance guard of the force until we formed line 
in front of the enemy s position. They had a battery on the road, with 
two 32 pdrs., [i. e. pounders] a rifle pit from the bayou to the woods, and 
field batteries in position at intervals, all on the very line where the 75th 
lay on the Bethel place when the Gotten was burned. The Diana [a 
gunboat] came down the bayou also, and when our line came within easy 
range, they opened a perfect feud enfer on us. . . . The fire was very 
accurate, the very first or second shot dropped one of Canuth s teams, 
[Canuth was captain of a battery on this campaign] while iron flew every 
where." Franklin, La., April 14, 1863. 

65 Colonel Van Zandt s regiment was the Ninety-first New York Volun 
teers, but he was acting brigade commander at this time. 

66 Near Port Hudson, La., May 30, 1863. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 31 

which they successfully held, in one of these gullies. 67 " Luckily 
we got into a fine place and were able to hold our own, though 
I was in mortal fear of being killed by the troops behind us who 
dropped into shelter and fired all around us. The rebs tried 
every way to drive us out, and fired charge after charge of grape 
at us but we soon were reinforced so that we silenced the whole 
battery of five guns. They shifted position of the guns, and 
finally brought out a field piece in some bushes, but we drove 
them away and kept them from firing this piece or hauling it 
away until after dark that night. We lay about 10 to 15 rods 
from the enemy s rifle pits, almost between two of their camps, 
from Wednesday morning until Friday noon." 

On Thursday evening " The enemy crept down a ravine to 
within forty or fifty feet of us, but made no attempt on our 
position." 68 Siege works were gradually pushed forward day by 
day, forming a smaller ring around the rebel fortress. The 
pioneers were put to work advancing the saps and approaches 
toward the enemy s position and making ready for the final 
assault. Through one of these covered trenches leading to the 
ditch in front of the rebel breastworks, the advance party of 
skirmishers attacked, on the morning of June 14, 1863, only 
to be repulsed with great loss of officers and men by the Con 
federates who had located the end of the sap and swept it with a 
heavy fire. On July 1st Colonel Babcock writes, " Our men now 
have covered approaches to within 20 or 30 feet of the enemy s 
works, our batteries are being constantly planted on smaller 
concentric circles and everything looks well." 69 

Volunteers for a " forlorn hope " were asked for, called the 
volunteer thousand storming party, to be hurled forward against 
a breach when made by the explosion of a mine, laid by the 
engineers under a vital point of the main breastworks. This 
mine, however, was never blown up, partly because General Banks 
did not want to sacrifice so many men, many of whom were 
officers, and partly because Port Hudson surrendered without the 
necessity of a third general assault. 

67 Following a charge along a road swept by shell from a five-gun bat 
tery, " I reached the most advanced position which we have yet occupied, 
and saw the rebs running up the hill beyond into their inner line of rifle- 
pits and found myself here with only five or six men, one of whom was 
Johnny Matthews [of Company F, the first man to respond to the call for 
a charge] and another, a boy of the 91st Regt., who was already hit 
twice." Near Port Hudson, La., May 30, 1863. 

18 Near Port Hudson, La., May 30, 1863. 

"Port Hudson, La., July 1, 1863. 



32 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

Entrenching was the method used by the Army of the Potomac 
during the latter part of the war, and new positions were promptly 
defended by breastworks. This use of earthworks seems to have 
been something of a novelty to the men from the western armies, 
although rifle pits had been used in the attack on Port Hudson. 
" The Sixth Corps was lighting quite briskly for some hours 
near us, and after a good deal of maneuvering we got into posi 
tion on the left, and received orders to entrench ourselves after 
the manner of the Army of the Potomac. So our men went to 
work almost literally with tooth and nail, as they had no entrench 
ing tools. Before dark we had quite a formidable protection 
raised, and were ordered to stop and get what rest we could." 70 
On the firing line near Berryville, " Our position was in a cross 
road in the edge of a wood with a cornfield in front. We had 
orders at once to throw up breastworks, and although the ground 
looked bare and unpromising, it was not long before we had a 
good deal of shelter. In an hour or so, we received some entrench 
ing tools, and by ten P. M. we lay down on our arms, well covered." 

" This morning at daybreak we stood to arms, but Johnny Reb 
did not come and we had orders to cease fortifying. But later 
orders directed us to build an abattis in front of our work, and 
we are still busy at it." 71 

Field works, also, were used to strengthen the permanent forts. 
Redoubts and rifle pits were built to command the roads and 
approaches to the main position in such a way as to subject the 
attacking forces to heavy loss in reaching the main fortification. 
" We are still building batteries commanding the roads from 
land to the Fort " 72 [Fortress Monroe, Ya.]. 

The permanent forts were large structures of masonry and 
earth built to control important positions, with their heavy guns 
and mortars. On the Patapsco river, which forms the sea 
entrance to the city of Baltimore, were two forts, Fort Carroll, 
and Fort McHenry, commanding the approaches with ease. 73 

70 Halltown, Va., August 23, 1864. 

71 Near Charlestown, Va., September 4, 1864. (Letter begun September 
2d.) 

72 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 23, 1861. (Letter begun July 21st.) 

73 "The Patapsco River some six miles below the City proper [Balti 
more] is quite narrow, and Fort Carroll, a little Fort like Sumpter [sic] 
right in the water commands the channel with great ease. But just above 
Fort Carroll it spreads out into two branches, and the Point between them is 
Locust Point. Fort McHenry is on the North side of this Point and we 
are encamped in the shade of the locust of Locust Point. . . . The 
North branch of the River is merely a long deep bay and the City stands 
on its Northern shore." Fort McHenry, Baltimore, August 3, 1861. 




BLUFFS AT PORT HUDSON 




BATTERY AT PORT HUDSON 




RGK GUN AT PORT HI 




PARAPET OP PRIEST CAP AT PORT HUDSON 




VIEW OF PRIEST CAP AT PORT HUDSON 




VIEW AT PRIEST CAP, PORT HUDSON 







WORKS AT PRIEST CAP, PORT HUDSON 




THE CITADEL AT PORT HUDSON 




BATTERY AT PORT HUDSON 




PRIEST CAP WORKS AT PORT HUDSON 




;rx OPPOSITE HOLCKOM S BATTKRY AT PORT HUDSON* 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 



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34 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

"Above you see our surrounding s. The Fort proper is on the 
right where you see the flag-staff. You can see the walls and 
the buildings inside which cannot be, or are not, correctly repre 
sented, as in fact, there are five of them, just alike, long two 
story brick buildings on as many sides of the Fort, inside of the 
walls and facing inward. On the side towards you, inside of 
all are a few trees and a little shrubbery, and under a large well 
laden peach tree in front of the building whose rear you see, 
am I, sweating away in my regimentals and writing to you. In 
the foreground is the main gate where all visitors by land must 
enter, on the left is the bay which stretches away up t\vo miles 
to receive the monumental city on its other bank. Away in the 
background the Patapseo stretches to the Bay. The buildings 
down . . . [Ms missing 74 ve] ran on. all sides which is 
the Hospital of the Fort. The tents you see arc-mid are for 
prisoners and the guard. Behind the w^all you see, and looking 
towards you, and towards the city of Baltimore is a row of huge 
moitars and on the ramparts are a couple of huge 10 inch Colum- 
biads by means of which Maj. Morris who commands the Fort 
says he could set Baltimore so in flames in fifteen minutes time 
that it could not be extinguished." 

" The Fort is being strengthened every day .and a hundred 
men are now at work mounting huge mortars on the Baltimore 
side of the ramparts. Woe 1x3 to Baltimore if ever her streets 
are again filled with a secession mob thirsty for union or yankee 
blood. Major Morris who commands in the Fort is a, rather fussy 
old gentleman with gray hair and whiskers who wears a cocked 
hat and military boots, but he is a New Yorker, who would like a 
chance to shell Baltimore. 75 He and Oapt. De Russey, whom I 
spoke of ais our possible Ool. Superintend the work. There is an 
Artesian well being bored in the fort near where I sit. I suppose 
the Fort proper is not far from the size of Ft. Sumter, though its 
w r alls are not so high and there are no casemate guns. 76 All are 
mounted f en barbette 71 as it is called. 78 



74 A part of the letter had been out out at this point and is missing. 
Evidently a picture of Fort McHenry was on the front page and was 
removed. 

7r> A mob of southern sympathizers fired on the Sixth Massachusetts 
regiment in the streets of Baltimore, Md., on April 19, 1801, killing several 
men. 

76 Casement guns were cannons set in armored chambers, firing through 
embrasures in the walls. With this arrangement there was a large meas 
ure of protection for the cannoneers serving the guns. 

77 Guns mounted en "barbette were cannon placed on platforms inside the 
fortifications high enough to permit firinir over the top of the parapet. 

78 Fort McHenry,. Baltimore, August 11, 1M61. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 35 

Tlmv sinmg fortresses guarded the entrance to Peiisacola 
harbor, Florida, in 1862; Fort Pickens, on Santa Rosa island, 
and Ton- Hai-rancns ;ind AIcRee opposite to it, on the mainland. 
"Fort [MrKea is a huge circular inclosure of brick on the shore 
of the mainland en our left as we come in, by ship, but we did 
not pass near enough to it to make out how many tiers of guns 
if has. 

" Fort Pickens is a square brick fort east of McRea and on 
Santa Uo<:i island." 79 For a number of years prior to 1861, 
this fort had not been kept in repair nor garrisoned, since the 
i unifications on the mainland controlled the channel and com 
munication was easier with them. As secession developed, how 
ever, and various forts and arsenals were seized by order of the 
Rebel state officials, Lieutenant Slemmer, who commanded the 
Union garrison at forts Barrancas and AIcRee, 80 knowing that he 
could not hold the positions on the mainland against a prolonged 
attack and siege, withdrew with his force; to Santa Kosa island, 
and began to put it in shape for defense. 

" There has never been any sham about the war at this Post, 
From the time the gallant Slemmer came over to Pickens and 
began to put it in order for defense, 81 there has been only hard 
work here. For many years, Fort Pickens had not even been 
garrisoned, and Santa Rosa was only inhabited by alligators, 
rattle snakes, and ducks. 

" Immense i blinders ? have been built over the casemates, and 
magazines, columbiads mounted, on the bastions and protected by 
sand bags, heavy mortars mounted, batteries, Cameron, Scott, 
Lincoln, and Totten, erected and put in complete order, 82 bomb- 

79 On hoard Steamer Baltic, December 13, 1861. (Letter begun Decem 
ber 6.) 

80 TT ar of tlie Rebellion; Official Records, series 1,1: 333-40. 

81 Lieutenant Slemmer transferred his command to Fort Pickens on Santa 
Rosa island, from forts MoRee and Barrancas on the mainland, during 
the days of January 0, 10, and 11, 1SG1. Lamed, Cyclopedia of Classified 
Dates, p. 190. 

" The work of debarkation being completed, the camp was laid out 
and received the name of Camp Seward . Near the southern shore of 
the island and a short distance to the east of the fort, the tents were 
raued on the sides of a regular street running east and west, known in 
the right wing [of the regiment] as Broadway, and in the left as Lin 
coln Avenue. Between the two wings, which were camped a little way 
apart, was Battery Totten, mounting two mortars of twelve and thirteen 
inch bores respectively. . . . 

"Our boys were not long in making an acquaintance with their sur 
roundings. The big fort was the chief object of interest, its soil walls and 
huge guns formed a picture of impregnability. Between the fort and the 
western extremity of the island was planted Battery Scott, whose works 



36 LETTERS OP GENERAL BABCOCK 

proofs built, hospitals and storehouses constructed, plank roads 
laid, boats, flats and barges collected, stores of forage, wood, pro 
visions and ammunition landed through the surf at great risk 
and with the greatest labor, and transported from one to two 
miles through this soft loose sand, all with a force which now 
numbers less than two full regiments, and has for most of the 
summer numbered less than 1200 men sick and well. For months 
the troops here landed all their .stores near two miles from the 
fort, and under a broiling sun, on the blinding white sand, rolled 
barrels and boxes, and carried tents and ammunition all that 
distance by hand for want of mules and carts. Day and night, in 
the heat and cold (for both are here), the poor fellows tugged and 
labored, compelled to exercise constant vigilance against the 
enemy, until a state of complete and perfect defense has been 
arrived at. It is probable now that the enemy with a line of 
works four miles in length forming a semi-circle of which Pickens 
is the center, might bombard us for a twelve month and our works 
be very little the worse for it Lieut. Slemmer died in November^ 
a martyr to his zeal and exhausting labors here." 

The Confederates, also, had devoted great attention to the 
protection of Pensacola with its magnificent harbor. Marshes, 
forests and bayous had been used to good advantage in guarding 
the land approaches, and forts McRee and Barrancas, with the 
navy yard batteries and other works extending for four miles, 
controlled the entrance from the sea. 84 These fortifications had 
been used in the attack on Fort Pickens in connection with a 
land attack from the rear, on the night of October 9, 1861, but 



consisted of well filled sand bags, carefully piled; directly north of Camp 
Sevvard, near the shore of the narrow island, was Battery Cameron, while 
further to the east, between the camp of the Zouaves (which was north 
east of Camp Seward), and the water s edge, was Battery Lincoln all 
mounting guns capable of doing fearful damage to the rebel works across 
the channel." Hall, A Record of the 75th N. Y. Volimteers. In Cayuga 
in the Field, p. 26. 

83 W. Babcock to Harry Wells (?), Santa Eosa island, Florida, March 
13, 1862. 

4 The rebels have fortified no place unless it may be Manassas Gap, 
not even Norfolk, with the care and labor with which they have hedged 
up the entrance to Pensacola Harbor. From 6,000 to 10,000 men have 
beleaguered Fort Pickens, and fortified themselves, for eight or nine months 
in a position where nature has done much for them. Impenetrable thickets, 
morasses, and bayous, defend their rear, and guns and batteries line the 
road to Pensacola. Now after sparing the great Bragg to the defense of 
Mobile, with six or seven regiments, there are still some 3,000 or 4,000 
men opposed to us. These men are not over anxious to fight, but are 
comparatively well-fed and well clothed many of them armed with the 
most improved rifled musket." Ibid. 



CAMPS AND FORTIFICATIONS 37 

the Confederate bombardment had been ineffective, and the return 
fire had done serious damage to the Rebel works a mile and a half 
distant across the channel. On two other occasions a bombard 
ment of the respective fortifications was commenced, but each 
time the powerful guns and mortars of Fort Pickens, well sup 
ported by the shore batteries, silenced and seriously damaged 
the Rebel batteries, and for several months no shots were fired. 

Port Hudson, Louisiana, was located on a high bluff command 
ing the Mississippi river, and offered great opportunities to the 
Confederates as a fortress. Heavy woods and deep ravines made 
approach difficult and defense easy since natural obstructions 
existed in profusion. Lines of rifle pits were dug and batteries 
planted behind them to command the few existing points of attack, 
through the ravines and gullies. Heavy guns, also, were placed 
in positions on the river front which enabled the defenders to 
control a wide stretch of the Mississippi. The accompanying 
views reproduced from photographs taken within a day or two 
after the surrender of Port Hudson on July 9, 1863, furnish a 
better idea of the nature of the fortifications and the injury they 
sustained from the fire of the Union siege guns than any verbal 
description. The comments beneath each picture are those jotted 
down at the time by Colonel Babcock, on the back of each 
photograph. 



CHAPTER III 

COMMISSARY 

Napoleon said, "An army marches on its stomach/ and the 
problem of supplying the army with food was one of the greatest 
to be solved by the commanding officers of the Union army during 
the Civil War. Transportation facilities and depots for concen 
trating supplies had to be provided at once on the outbreak of 
the struggle, and maintained in order for effective use throughout 
long and difficult campaigns. 

New York State was one c-f the first to respond to the call for 
volunteers, and her troops began to move toward Albany within 
a few days after President Lincoln s first proclamation of April 
15, 1861, calling for seventy-five thousand men to serve for 
3 months. She was poorly equipped to handle the large body of 
men who soon assembled, however, and much discontent and incon 
venience ensued. " I had no stomach for the food, and many of 
the poor fellows, Fred Pinney, L Amoreaux, Peck and others ate 
little or nothing. The dinner was a vegetable soup, then each a 
plate full of beef and potatoes boiled into a kind a mixture. 
There wa,s good bread, and the usual trimmings Xo dessert or 
butter 9 1 

The company mess was formed and put into operation after the 
army took the field, and might or might not include the company 
officers. " We have two cooks and a steward in the Company who 
serve one week. They draw the provisions for the Company 
daily at 10 A. M. and do the cooking. The food consists of fresh 
and salt beef, bacon, beans, rice and pilot bread, with salt, vine^- 
gar, coffee and isugar. The coffee is made for breakfast and sup 
per not strong of course, and sweetened a little in the large 
kettle .... Yesterday noon I was so ravenously hungry that, 
although when about half through a dinner of bean soup I dis 
covered the beans to be full of worms, I kept right on and finished 
my dinner, swallowing more or less worms at every mouthful. 
Today however, I left my beans and dined on bread and salt 
pork." 2 

1 Albany, N. Y., April 28, 1861. 

"The men had a mutiny at teatime last night and went in a hody, with 
Capt. Catlin at their head, to Stamvix Hall for supper. They could not 
get in there, but the Captain is threatening to go home if the food is not, 
hotter." Ibid., Monday, April 20, 1861. (Letter begun April 28th.) 

2 Cam]) Hamilton, Ya., June lo, 1861. (Letter begun June 14th.) 

[38] 



COMMISSARY 39 

Near the seacoast the men eked out their scanty rations 3 with 
oysters and dams which they procured in large quantities. 4 Forag 
ing at this period of the war was not permitted, but the eyes of 
the officers in command were closed to the killing of a few stray 
cattle and chickens w T hich might happen to venture near the 
Union lines. When the men had money they purchased pies, 
"akes, pickled oysters, and other delicacies from the negroes 
living near the camp, who drew quite a revenue from such 
sales. 5 As the wax went on, however, the rules concerning 
plundering were relaxed, and foraging became the regular method 
4 filling out the marching ration. " The march was attended 
with the usual amount of foraging, and many a mess that night 
was supplied with every variety of barnyard game. One woman 
became so frantic with the loss of her chickens that she fell <n her 
knees, and with clasped hands and upturned eyes, implored the 
Divine Mercy upon the godless wretches who were devastating 
her hen roost." 6 A herd of cattle was a fine prize for a hungry 
army to come upon, and short w~as its shrift. 7 Green corn and 
fruit also helped materially in preventing discontent on account 
of short rations tardily issued. 8 When the army was moving 
rapidly the men were required to keep several days rations in 
their haversacks, in order that a shortage might not occur when 
the supply trains did not keep up with the force. " We are 
required to keep three days rations on hand constantly, and 
orders announce that these may be required to last 4 days. Some 
times three days rations have been ordered to last 5 days. Th 
boys call this living on orders . It makes some growling, but 
not a great deal of necessary suffering in a country where there 
;iro so many cattle." 

3 "I am nearly sick today. This everlasting ffbo-rt commons is too much 
for me. It keeps me petulant ami rross all the time. T eould bite off a 
tfMi penny nail this morning. Our fond is very <roorl no\v-a-days, "barring 
the entire absence of fruit and vegetables. The desiccated vegetables fur- 
! i>~hed are a very poor substitute for the genuine article." Camp Ham 
ilton. Va.. July 11, 1861. 

4 Ibid,, June 6. 1861. 

r Tbid., June In, 1801. (Letter beinin June 14th.) 

6 Clipping from The Xeic Orleans Era of April 20. 1863, containing an 
unsigned letter to the Era dated April 17, 1863, from the field. 

7 Opelousas, La., April 20, 1863. 

8 " We staid down in the woods in the shade all day, skirmishing at 
long range with the enemy, and foraging for apples, corn and beef and 
pork, having a regular picnic/ Halltown, Va.. August 23. 1S64. 

" Tt is a perpetual green corn dance for the army here. The men rely on 
it greatly to eke out the scanty marching ration." Ibid., August 27, 1864. 

Near Charleatown, Va.. September 2, 1804. 

"On Tuesday the four days rations with which they [the men.] started 
from Charlestown gave out, and only half days rations was issued for 



40 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

Officers had their choice of several kinds of mess arrangements. 
" I have my allowance brought to me at my tent from the com 
pany mess and eat it alone. Some of the officers take their meals 
with an old darkey called Tony at from 2/ to 4/- a meal. 
Others have a mess chest (containing all sorts of cooking con 
veniences and dishes- to eat upon) and have their meals prepared 
hy their servants." 10 

A few days later, however, Lieutenant Babcock joined one of 
these " mess " groups, and found the eating arrangements much 
better. " Oatlin [captain of Company H, Third New York] 
and I, with several others have formed a mess now, and we 
have regular meals. Eight of us go even shares, pay expenses 
and eat in one of the vacant recitation rooms of the Chesapeake 
Fern. Seminary. The delicate figures of the young ladies are still 
on the blackboard where they put them at the last recitation. But 
tlii s in no way affects our enjoyment of the meals there. We have 
good coffee, bread & butter tea. at night, and steak or ham. I 
commenced yesterday morning. It will cost me about 20/ to 24/ 
per week, and T shall find it for my health as well as for my 
comfort." " We have just dined sumptuously for soldiers. We 
had soup, roast beef, baked ham, baked and mashed potatoes, 
beets and tomatoes and boiled corn. For dessert we had whortle 
berries and ice cream. We all mess together or rather board 
with a Mr. Alford, brother of ol. Aflford of the Third New 
York] who is our regimental sutler. We have good wholesome 
food at regular hours, and as you see, get some luxuries." 

This system was evidently far metre satisfactory, although 
more expensive, 13 than the allowance arrangement from the com 
pany mess, for an officers mess was formed in New York before 
the Seventy-fifth sailed for Santa Rosa island. A cook and \\ 
large store of provisions were taken with them on the transport 
to Florida. 14 " Our Mess is very pleasant. It is made up of the 



Wednesday. And it was afternoon on Thursday before any more was 
issued. I expected a good deal of noise and ill-feeling, but the only 
demonstration was an occasional shout of Hard Tack, from some of the 
companies, and this was checked by a single word." Near Berryville, Va., 
September ft, 1864. 

10 Camp Hamilton, Va., June 14, 1861. Ibid., July 20, 1861. 

nj&td., July 22, 1861. (Letter begun July 21st.) 

12 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, August 4, 1861. (Letter begun August 3d.) 

a:{ "0n Tuesday I shall owe for two weeks board, [with the sutler] 
about $7.00." Ibid., October 18, 1861. 

14 On board Steamer Baltic, December 10, 1861. (Letter begun Decem 
ber 6th.) 



COMMISSARY 41 

Col., Lt. Col., Major, Chaplain, Quarter Master, Adjutant, ami 
Col. s clerk. The Doctors are Vi niile away and eat at the Hos 
pital. \Ve liavo a good * plain cook whom we hire by the month 
end who gets up superb meals plain but excellent. We had 
at dinner yesterday, soup, baked beans, roast beef, mashed pota 
toes, coffee with milk and sugar, and warm biscuits, all not only 
good but excellent in quality. For tea we had biscuit and butter 
and apple sauce, cold ham & cold beef with coffee. This morning- 
we had beefsteak, mashed potatoes, warm biscuits etc. At noon 
today we had nice apple pie of home manufacture. All our pro 
visions are neatly prepared and look as well as they taste, so that 
we fare not only well but sumptuously. We have good butter, 
lard, and prepared milk which is good. Our servants eat of the 
same after us, so that they fare well too." 15 

Expenses were rather heavy in operating such a mess, 16 although 
the officers were allowed to buy what they wanted of the com 
missary or quartermaster department, at cost. " Were it not 
for an equitable regulation which allows officers to purchase any- 
lliing to eat or wear which can be found in the Commissary or 
quartermaster department, at cost, it would be hard to live on 
Santa Kosa. But we buy bread, beef, bacon, dried apples, dried 
peaches, vinegar, candles, sugar, coffee, tea, molasses, and even 
whiskey as cheap, & often cheaper, than we could in a grocery 
store at home. We can even get mosketo bars of Uncle S am 
here." 17 " Yesterday we had an amusing time in scraping up 
money enough to pay our monthly bills for beef, fruit, tomatoes, 
pickles etc. at the Fort [Pickens]. We buy through the month 
on credit, and at the end of the month the bills must be met. 
The officers in this Regt. brought a good deal of money, but they 
are nearly drained now. Their bills are all paid for Jan., but if 
the paymaster doesn t come soon enough, the February bills will 
have to go. Col. Dodge of course has money but he keeps it. I 
have paid well up now but am just out. I am owing for supplies 
now some thirty dollars ($30) or forty dollars ($40), I presume, 
but the bills have not been presented." 

A smaller group formed a mess during the Virginia campaign 
of 1864. " The Adjutant, Maj. Thurber and myself mess to 
gether, and have Dan Hutchinson of Co. F. to cook for us. He 

15 Santa Rosa island, Fla., December 20, 1861. 

16 76iU, January 27, 1862. (Letter begun January 23d.) 

17 Ibid. 

18 Ibid., February 5, 1862. (Letter begun January 31st.) 



42 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

i ;i saloon cook, and is the best field cook we ever had. His 
failing is drink, bur here it don t alfivt him. \Ve left camp the 
other day expecting to have our wagons follow us into bivouac 
at night. But when we found ourselves without it, our saddle- 
luigs yielded us, for dinner, hard tack and ham, apple sauce, and 
coifee with sugar and milk. For supper we had hard tack and 
hum, apple sauce and coffee with sugar and milk. At the next 
breakfast, there was nice fried liver, toasted hard tack, and lob- 
scouae. 19 Today, before our wagons came we had plenty of fresh 
meat, soft bread from Harper s Ferry, applesauce, coffee with 
milk, cheese, ginger cakes from the sutler s wagon, and desiccated 
potatoes, which last are most excellent. Our cook prepares all 
these promptly, and we cannot complain. Few officers, I think, 
live as well. \Ve make it somewhat a study. Yet, we live very 
cheaply." " 

Even these elaborate eating arrangements grew tiresome at 
limes, however, and the officers purchased meals at private houses 
near the camps. Often, also, it was not possible to return to the 
encampment for meals and little groups of officers engaged meals 
with the people of the vicinity. On going out on picket duty, 
" ^Ye brought one day s rations and while I posted my guard the 
cooks went at the dinner. I had a mind to have a good full 
dinner ? and went to a house near where I bespoke a broiled 
chicken. At dinner time I went over and ate broiled chicken, 
cold ham, new potatoes, hoecake, two glasses of milk, and a nice 
large dish of raspberries and cream. After dinner I had a 
lemonade and bought and ate a quart of blackberries. For tea I 
had nice fish, apple preserves, fresh bread and butter, coffee with 
milk and sugar, and a glass of milk." 2l 

" I supped last night on a piece of boiled beef and a cracker 
taken in my fingers, and I wanted something else for breakfast. 
So Lt, Mann and I went about three-quarters of a mile to the 
farm of Ool. Jones, an F. F. YV who gathered up his goods and 

19 Lobscouse is a sailor s dish consisting of salt incut stewed or baked 
with vegetables. Funk and YVagnall s \cir X1<t<nhir<l Diclim/ari/. 

20 Near Charlestown, Va., August 31, 18C4. 

" For our mess, we get plenty of fresh meat of which we have steak 
and stews, flour of which we make biscuits, sweet and not, pancakes, 
gravies, etc. Hard tack goes in the soups and sometimes in the pancakes, 
we get Irish potatoes fresh, and plenty of desiccated potatoes, ham, con 
densed milk, and even a little butter at a dollar for a can about the size 
of the condensed milk cans. Cheese also at fifty cents a pound. I think 
we live well enough." Near Berryville, Va., September 13, 1804. 

21 Mill Creek near Old Point Comfort, June 22, 1801. 



COMMISSARY 



43 



his negroes and departed for Secessia on the advent of the troops 
lure. One family of his slaves remains, and we went in and 
eaught them at breakfast. \\V asked them what they could get 
for us. The old" lady sd [said] she thought ishe could get us up 
a short hoe cake (a kind of mixture of lard and flour baked 
in a spider before the fire), some i hog fish and tea with butter. 
S< we begged her to go on while we looked about and quizzed her 
and hers about their history etc. . . . This couple live on the 
faun and use its products as they like. . . . Our i short hoe cake 
at last got done and we sat down. The bill of fare was fish, cold 
Johnny cake, short-hoe-cake, three eggs for two, butter and tea. 
I was hungry, and although the short cake was heavy indigestible 
stuff and tasted much of lard, I ate heartily. The tea was very 
good though clear. When we got through I got up and told them 
we hadn t either of us a cent to pay them. This took them some 
what aback, but as I assured them we were not imposing upon 
tlu-m and would pay them the next time we came down on picket, 
they professed themselves satisfied. But I have no doubt they 
inwardly set down that breakfast, got up with care and pains out 
of their scanty stores, in their account of i Profit and Loss . . . . 
Luckily a $10 bill from father came to-day and I shall see the 
old folks paid soon." 22 

By these various means, the officers and men strove to vary the 
monotony and paucity of .army fare and lighten the hardships of 
campaigning. 

22 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 20, 1801. 



CHAPTER IV 

CAMP LIFE 

ROUTINE 

The sharp roll of the reveille was beaten hy the drummers at 
daybreak each morning, at an hour varying from 4.30 to 5.30 1 
according to circumstances. Sometimes, however, it was sounded 
as early as 1.30 or 2.00 a. m. 2 under the stress of campaigning or 
danger of a sudden daybreak attack by the rebels. During Sheri 
dan s campaign of August and September 1864, in the Shenan- 
doah valley, orders were regularly issued that the men should 
stand to arms from before dawn, until after sunrise, 3 to prevent 
the possibility of a surprise attack on the camps. Roll call ensued, 4 
and after the reports of the sergeants to the officers in charge of 
the companies, the men were given the next half hour for making 
their toilets and cleaning up camp. 5 A strenuous drill in com 
pany or battalion formation occupied the next two hours, 6 when 
the: men were quite ready for the coarse but hearty breakfast 
which was served between 7 and 8 o clock. 7 

"At % past 8 the sick go to the Surgeon " for sick detail 8 and 
treatment. About 9 o clock a new detail of troops went on duty 
as sentinels, 9 both pickets 10 and inner camp guards n to relieve the 
force which had been under arms on such service for the preceding 
24 hours. Dress parade lasting " half an hour or so" came at 10 
and then the weary men were given their leisure until 5 o clock 
in the afternoon. 12 Later on, however, the need of more drill was 
shown and the hours for recreation were shortened. Drill in. 



1 Albany Barracks, Albany, N. Y., May 5,. 1861. 
Camp Hamilton, near Hampton, Va., June 8, 1861. 

2 Tennallytown, D. C., August 13, 1864. 

3 Near Berry ville, Va., September 6, 1864. 

4 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, August 10, 1801. 

Glbid., October 16, 1861. (Letter begun October 12th.) 
Ilrid. 

7 Camp Hamilton, Va., June 20, 1861. (Letter begun June 18th.) 

8 Camp Hamilton, Hampton, Va., June 20, 1861. (Letter begun June 
18th.) 

9 Ibid., July 3, 1861. (Letter begun July 2d.) 

10 The picket guards were posted at various points at distances of one 
to two miles from camp, forming a cordon around the main encampment 
to prevent surprise. Companies were detailed each 24 hours at each post. 

11 The guards for the camp formed an inner line about the position but. 
were used chiefly as police for the encampment under command of the 
" Officer of the guard." 

12 Tump Hamilton, Va., June 20. 1861. (Letter begun June 18th.) 

[441 



CAMP LIFE 45 

various formations, company, battalion and regimental, occupied 
the time from 5 until 7 or later. Dinner at noon, and supper 
at 4.30 p. in. with tattoo and taps at 9.30, 13 completed the regular 
day of the soldier while in a more or less permanent camp. 
Officers were further required to put in extra time in special 
drill, and officers school in the evenings. Much routine work 
was required of them, also, in the issuing of passes, making out 
of muster and pay rolls, and keeping of regimental and company 
records. 14 

On Sundays inspection 15 by companies and regiments broke the 
monotonous course of daily work, and when a chaplain was with 
the regiment, as was often the case, services were held in camp 
morning or evening. 16 Sometimes the force was drawn up on the 
parade ground and one service was held for the entire body of 
men, while on other occasions each chaplain held services for the 
men of his own regiment. 17 

When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, the regular 
army of the United States numbered Ixjtween thirteen thousand 18 
and twenty thousand men 19 scattered all over the country in 
various posts and more or less disorganized by resignations of 
officers who were southern sympathizers. Each state, of course, 
maintained regiments of militia, which had a certain amount of 
military training and could be relied upon for a limited number 
of partially trained men available for use as officers for volunteer 
regiments, but the North was forced to rely almost wholly on 

13 /&/., July 21, 1861. 

14 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, October 16, 1861. (Letter begun October 
12th.) 

13 Ibid., October 27, 1861. 

16 "At nine o clock all the companies, some 20 in all, gathered under the 
command of their respective officers, in front of our building, on the 
parade ground, in presence of thousands, where in the beautiful sunlight, 
under the open heavens, morning prayers were had. The exercises were 
solemn and impressive. The Rev. Dr. Rogers, mounted on a cannon, read a 
psalm, led the voices in singing Old Hundred, and after a few earnest 
remarks, offered up a prayer. The dear ones at home were . . . first 
affectionately remembered in such terms as brought tears to many an eye, 
the country, the president, the good cause, the soldiers, the officers, and 
all were prayed for in such a simple earnest way that every heart joined 
in the petitions." Albany Barracks, N. Y., May 5, 1861. 

17 Santa Rosa island, Fla., December 22, 1861. (Letter begun December 
20th.) 

18 The report of the Secretary of War on June 30, 1860, shows 12,9cS4 men 
in the regular army. Senate Documents, 2d Session 36th Congress (1860- 
61), 2:298, No. 1. 

19 On December 1, 1861, the estimated total of men in the regular army 
of the United States was 20,334. Senate Executive Documents, 2d Session 
37th Congress, (1861-1S62), 2:4, No. 1. Report of Secretary of War. 



46 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

volunteer forces called into service by the proclamation of April 
15, 1861. These men were entirely untrained in army maneuvers 
and required much drilling before they were an effective force. 
The elective officer system also hampered the quick formation 
of an efficient army, since in many cases the officers chosen knew 
no more of company and battalion movement than the men in the 
ranks. Their one idea was to fight and defeat the enemy as soon 
as possible, and the Battle of Bull Run or Manassas showed the 
result. 

" Our Oapt. don t know anything and won t learn nor try 
seriously to learn. He keeps out of the way and leaves me to 
attend to all the details of business. We came here 24 hours ago 
and have paid no attention yet to the orders in relation to roll- 
calls, parades, or anything of the sort. I suppose this p. m. at 
5 o clock I shall muster the company and command them at 
full dress parade as it is called." " Capt. Catlin is not doing 
much in the way of posting himself in military tactics. He con 
ducts the men to and from dinner or supper with some grace and 
propriety, but so far as drilling is concerned, he does nothing. 
I am working at it some and learning a little." 

Only a comparatively short time elapsed between the date when 
Company H was first organized, April 18th, and June 6th, when 
it arrived in a hostile country and encamped near Hampton, Va. 
Drilling was almost continuous during this period 22 and the men 
learned to move in company and battalion formation fairly well, 
but the time was too short to put them into good shape for service 
" My greatest anxiety now is about the drill of our men who 
need a month s steady labor. If our company were not good 
willing, faithful fellows, we should be far behind the rest of the 
Regiment but as it is we hold our own very well." " I have 
been up and <at work 2 hours and a half this morning drilling 
our men." 24 

Gradually the hours devoted to military training were length 
ened and the leisure hours curtailed, for " it is Col. Alford s 
ambition to get up a regiment fit for fine parades. He was over 
heard by Henry Jewett to say last night that he was going to stay 
here and fill up to 900 men, and then train them until they 



20 Albany, N. Y.. April 20, ]Sf>l. (Loiter begun April 2Slh.) 

21 Ibid., May 8, ISfil. 

22 New York City, May 21, 18(il. 

23 Hampton, Va., Juno 11, 1861. (Letter begun June 10th.) 
"*Ibid., June 20, 1861. (Letter becfun June 18th.) 



CAMP LIFE * 

should be the Ix-st drilled regiment, in the service. I do not 
believe* we can be beaten now."" 5 Reviews were held very fre 
quent lv bef<rc the commanding officers of the force and parades 
were a daily occurrence. "At 4% o clock (yesterday) we mus 
tered for Review and marched a mile or so down towards the 
Fort where Gen. Butler reviewed us. It was a fine display for 
the Glorious Fc-urth on the Old \ 7 irginia soil, and at its close 
the three Regiments closed in mass and ".en. Butler made a most 
beautiful though brief oration. lie made a mo.*t appropriate 
allusion to the peculiar circumstances of our gathering and 
exhorted us nobly to our duty to friend and foes. The whole 
Review was very pleasant." M " There are four parades daily at 
which one must be, three of them drills of near two hours each." 

Life was not so regular, however, on the march in the course 
of a campaign. The reveille might be sounded at any hour, and 
movement of the troops begun without time for getting breakfast. 28 
AVith a shoit halt for dinner of coffee and hardtack supplied from 
the haversacks, the march would be continued, often till long 
after dark, when bivouac had to be hastily made and supper pre 
pared as late as 10 or 11 p. m. 29 At any time might come the 
order which would send them out in battle line with slight warn 
ing, for attack or defense. On the advance, constant vigilance 
was necessary, with a resulting heavy strain 011 the nerves of 
officers and men. Such then was the routine of a soldier, more or 
less monotonous while in permanent camp, but uncertain and 
nerve-racking during campaigns. 

PICKET AND GUARD DUTY 

Two sets of guards were- used to protect an encampment from 
n surprise attack, the pickets who were stationed at some distance 
out from the camp, 30 and the guard which formed an inner line 
about the position. " I can write but a little to you and under 
the most annoying circumstances. At this moment I am sitting on 
(lie ground in front of the guard tent, in the front line of our 
camp. . . . Our sleeping soldiery are now in my care, as 

- Fort McHenry. Baltimore, October 12, 1861. 

26 Cani]> Hamilton, Va., July 5, 1861. (Letter begun July 4th.) 

27 Fort Me Henry, Baltimore , October 12, 1861. 

-"Near Snicker s Gap, Va., August 19, 1864. Letter begun August 17th.) 
- Near Charlcstown, Va., September 4, 1K64. (Letter begun September 
2d.) 

30 Near Hampton, Va., June 7, 1861. (Letter begun June 6th.) 



LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

officer of the guard, and I am writing to keep my eyes open. . . . 
I have just been out quite around our camp, walking near a mile 
and a half of walking in the night over all sorts of things [ ?] 
[seeing] how our sentinels watch their posts. I found them all 
right and have come back to the guard tent to rest my limbs a 
little but I cannot go to sleep a moment until nine o clock 
tomorrow. . . . You do not know how tired I am. It does seem 
as if I could not sit up, and as I write here (it is now the gray 
li^-lit of morning about half past 4 o clock) my eyes will shut and 
blur and my head nod against my will." 31 

" It takes 100 men daily to guard our camp, and would take no 
more if we had 1,500 men in it. The guard do not sleep for 24 
hours, and are changed at 4 p. m. every day. Where 1/3 of our 
men are sick, and a new detail of 140 men (40 for picket guard) 
have to be detailed every day, it is not a long job to wear the 
well ones down." Regiments were detailed in turn for picket 
duty for 24 hours and platoons or companies posted at different 
points. " I have seated myself on an old box at half past 
eleven this beautiful night ... to write to you. . . . My face 
is turned toward the Southeast- ward towards ( Old Point on 
which lies Fortress Monroe, its walls in grand relief against 
the sky, keeping watch and ward for us all." 

" Behind me, and on either hand are plantations, farm houses 
and negro huts, some deserted and some occupied as ever. 

" Near mo watches a faithful sentry, and along the road 
behind me is a line of them leading back nearly to camp. Close 
by me are two or three -sleepers, and in a little house at my left 
are a dozen more of your friends and mine. . . . Off at my right 
are the camps of our friends, and at my left is the enemy s 
country, and the road stretching away to Yorktown. 

" Our Regiments here all take turns in doing picket duty - 
that is in keeping guard out some distance beyond the lines. 
Today it came to the 3rd Regiment and I was sent with twenty- 
three men to hold and guard Mill Creek. We came down here 
a mile and a half or so from Camp and relieved the old guard - 
(I was broken off then by a sudden discharge of fire-arms, and my 
sentinel coming down the road on a run crying, Turn out the 
Guard. c Turn out the Guard. The fright of one or two of 
them was ludicrous to see. I turned out the Guard, left the 



81 Camp Hamilton, Va., June 12, 1861. 

June 19, 18(51, (Letter begun June 18th.) 






CAMP LIFE 49 



Sergeant to march it up the road and went up to see what was 
the cause of so much noise. I found that the original alarm 
was not at my post, and I replaced my sentries, and sat down at 
the farthest outpost to see what would follow. After being nearly 
devoured by mosketoes and seeing nothing, I came in and con 
clude my sentence by saying ) about 10 o clock. We brought 
one day s rations and while I posted my guard, the cooks went 
at the dinner." 33 

" Every four nights I am walking lonely roads, and by-paths 
in these interminable labyrinthine forests, in constant peril of 
life and limb from the malice of enemies or the stupidity of 
friends. . . . 

" Yesterday we were out on picket duty again. We had the 
same place as before, though a new bower, and spent the day very 
pleasantly. . . . About nine o clock in the evening I was lying 
down, fighting mosketoes and punkies 54 when we heard Crack ! 
Crack! Crack! from the rifles of our sentries. I jumped up, took 
three men and hurried out to find out what was the matter, while 
Capt. Jenny in command, followed with the guard. We pushed 
briskly out, keeping a sharp lookout for signs of an ambush 
(for which no forests in the world are better adapted than these) 
and finally found our boys who had seen a couple of men approach 
ing through a cornfield, challenged them and fired. We posted 
the guards anew, cautioned them to lock sharp, aim low, and shoot 
to kill, and went back and lay down. But you have no idea how 
the mosketoes and ( punkies did bite. I was as if on a gridiron 
and got little or no sleep. . . . On one post I found a solitary 
horseman had been reconnoitering our pickets. I got at the 
truth of this as well as I could and had just set down to rest (now 
3 o clock and daybreak) when crack went a rifle on my right. 
I ran down to the post and found the poor sentry half scared to 
death the woods were all alive in his imagination. But he 
pretended to nave seen three men come out of the bushes on the 
opposite side of the road from him and but a few steps from him, 
whom he had shot at. I doubted his story, but put a trusty man 
in his place and put him where ho would be safer. Then I set off 
to post men so as to surround the wood. As I tramped around 
through the solitary paths and through the fields, T confess 



, 33 Mill Creek near Ol.l Point Comfort, Va., June 22, ISO]. 
34 "Pnnkies" were a species of tiny gnats. Funk and Wagnall s New 
Standard Dictionary. 



50 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

1 was a little afraid of a sly bullet, to stop me, ... but none 
came. In a few minutes there was a chain around the woods, but 
1 had some doubts of the man s story of the three men, and I 
decided to wait until daylight, test his truthfulness, and shake up 
the bush. At daylight we made a careful examination and 
distinctly saw traces of men in the hushes, plain boot tracks. *So 
I thickened my guard around the wood s, got a squad of 25 men, 
formed a line clear across one end of the woods, gave the word 
March 7 and plunged into the brush. We carefully examined 
it . . . , and came out on the other end in about one-half an 
hour very wet and .somewhat tired. The men were not to be 
found and had got out somewhere, which was not strange, as the 
]>hve. of woods they were in was surrounded on three sides by 
woods separated from it only by a narrow and winding road of a 
single track s width. 35 

Firing by the pickets was very common, and wild alarms of this 
sort occurred often. 36 These rifle shots did serve one purpose, 
however, that of showing that the pickets were on the watch, and 
keeping track of any movements which might be made. One of 
the most ludicrous of these alarms occurred on January 2 6, 1862, 
during the time the Seventy-fifth was stationed on Santa. Rosa 
island. 

Several of the officers had been off 011 an excursion down the 
island, partly for a picnic, and partly to see if the Confederates 
had moved their outposts any closer to the Union position, and 
they were coming home by boat in the evening. " Suddenly a 
rocket shot up from the Water Witch [ one of the United States 
gunboats on patrol duty off the coast] and in a moment mere 
Crack! Crack! Crack! went the muskets from the distant 
picket line on land, mistaking a signal for a pilot for an alarm 
from the mounted patrol. The steamer Mississippi lying off 
shore here an3W T ered the signal by another rocket, and ( Crack ! 
Crack ! ! Crack ! ! ! went the muskets of the pickets again. By 
this time the mounted patrol down the island took alarm, and 

-"( amp Hamilton, Va., July 11, 1861. 

30 " We had an alarm out on picket at daylight this morning and for a 
fe\v minutes I was sure our pickets were being driven in. I was in 
charge of Post 3. and as the scattering cra(k of some half dozen rifles 
resounded through the woods like the firing of sentinels lie ing driven in, T 
turned out my guard and hurried up in the double quick with about 30 
men. I expected every moment as 1 went up to see ;ni enemy but it turned 
out to be only the old guard firing off their pieces as they were relieved 
on the post next to me." Ibid., July 23, 1861. (Letter begun July 2lst.) 



CAMP LIFE 51 

sent up a rocket which is a signal agreed on that the enemy are 
on the island. Away went a half dozen shots from the picket 
guanl ugain. Of course we understood that there was no cause 
for alarm, but we knew that our absence, coupled with such 
extraordinary demonstrations would make a terrible excitement 
in camp, and we hurried in, but it was eight o clock before we 
wciv hailed by the guard, and after recognition set foot on sand. 
Meanwhile, Col. Brown 3T and his officers at the Fort understood 
the whole thing as we did, but the mounted patrol, excited 
1-y i he sight of the rebel vessels we had seen, the unusual fire over 
at Pen saw! a, and some little whiskey, kept sending in a mes 
senger at full speed every half hour with new and increasing tales 
of danger and disaster, until our picket guard wa,s wild with fear 
nnd two of them on the beach deserted their posts. i The pickets 
had been fired on and one man shot ! i The enemy were already 
on the island and two of the mounted patrol were missing! ( The 
officers of the 7.~>th had been attacked and the Major and Capt. 
Dwight taken prisoners! (This story came very direct to the 
Col. about a minute before I got on my horse to join the battalion 
and report for duty). The guard had been overpowered and 
fled into -camp ! And to cap the climax of absurd fright, one of 
the mounted patrol came down the beach at a full run on his 
mule, out of breath, shouting to the sentries on the beach as he 
came along, Run ! G d d n you ! The enemy are close behind ! 
If you can t get to camp, hide in the bushes! Run for your 
life G d d n you ! It was no wonder two or three of the 
volunteers deserted their posts and ran in. 

" Meanwhile, our Regt. and Col. Wilson s turned out under 
arms and i stood in battle array. Col. Brown had warned them 
that it was a false alarm, but as a matter of precaution to be ready, 
and so they were. Of course they were agitated by all sorts of 
fears for us, and were glad enough to see us, I assure you. 
Questions & congratulations flowed in upon us in heaps, and 
the whole affair was soon explained from first to last. 

" But the rebels were as badly scared as we. The sloop & 
liooner had got in & reported armed parties & unusual fires, 
<!own the Island, and the rockets and signals, of red, green, white 
nnd blue lights on the Water Witch and Niagara alarmed them 
ly. The long roll n8 boat first at Fort McRea and our 



"" Colonel P.rown was the regular armv officer in com ma ml at Fort 
Fir-kens, and as senior colonel, commandant on the island. 

58 The long roll was the assembly signal, to call the force out in battle 
line. 



LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

people here heard it quickly rattling all along their whole line for 
four miles. I presume ten thousands men were got under arms 
in half an hour, from half past seven to eight o clock. How the 
rebels settled it and when they went to bed, we don t know, but 
our troops all had tattoo and i taps for roll call and lights out 
at the usual hour." 39 

While stationed at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, the officers were 
required to take turns as officer of the guard at the fort. " We 
are on guard for 24 hours once in four days, or one fourth of the 
time." " By 7 o clock . . . the heat was very oppressive, but 
after breakfast, I had to put on my dress coat, button it up to the 
chin, don my epaulets, and buckle on sword, belt, sash and pistol, 
and undertake the duties of Officer of the Guard. 7 We have 
k Guard Mounting which is a sort of Parade of the guard at 
8 o clock, and then I have to come to the guard house and stay 
24 hours. 

" Here the guard house is a little 7 by 9 projection on the 
inside of the wall of the Fort Enclosure by the main gate. It 
is garnished by one rough, dirty, unpainted table and one chair. 
It has two apertures for windows and we are occasionally so 
fortunate as to get a cool breeze through it. Here I sit, perked 
up in a glittering grief/ suffocating under arms and uniform 
which I must not lay off. My shirt was long since all wet, and 
my gbves so saturated that I had to take them off. My stock 
ings, pants, coat and vest are nearly full but still the sun pours 
down." The escape of a prisoner early in October caused 
increased vigilance in the guard, and the officer was required to 
patrol the walls all night, in spite of bad weather. 42 Each night 
complete preparations were made at Fort McHenry to receive an 
enemy in case of attack, although no hostile force was known to 
be near, and such arrangements for defense were under the super 
vision of the officer of the guard. 

" We have just turned the last key, put up a temporary 
chevaux de frise at the outer gate of the Fort proper, and shut 
out all the world. The commander-in-chief of the American 
Army could not now come into the Fort but must wait outside 
till morning. A score of men are in each bastion of the Fort, 



30 Santa Kosa island, Florida. January ?f>, !S(i2 (LHior bf<run January 
23d.) 

40 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, October 12. 1S61. 

41 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, August 4, 1801. (Letter begun August 3d.) 
2 /&*>/., October 11, 1861. (Letter begun October 10th,) 



CAMP LIFE 53 

tlio artillery men are at their guns, the guns are shotted, and 
everything is ready to meet an attack an attack which is 
as likely to happen here as in Homer [New York], and no more 
so. The rain has set in steadily and there will be a rainy night. 
I shall lie down on a hard board which covers a box by my side 
with my overcoat under my head and try to rest if not to sleep. 
(Monday morning). "A dark rainy morning and dreary 
enough. But I feel well and hopeful this morning. I lay down 
on my box last night with my head on my overcoat and my sword 
in my arms (the regulations forbidding us while on guard to take 
off arms or accoutrements, and went to sleep. I awoke towards 
morning shivering with damp and cold, and feared I had caught 
a cold, but I put my cape over me and went to sleep again, only 
to wake up in time for Reveille at 4% o clock with no cold or ill 
of any sort." 43 

Besides the officer of guard, there was a field officer of the 
day, a major or perhaps a lieutenant-colonel, who had general 
supervision over all the guards of the camp, and he usually made 
a " grand round " 44 or tour of inspection of the sentries about 
midnight. "A little after midnight it began to rain, and I had 
a tedious time visiting my guards [as field officer of the day]. 
Xow the sharp sand would cut my face and fill my eyes like a 
hail of broken glass, and then the big drops of rain would assault 
me almost as sharply as the sand. The moon was hid, and the 
gale had blown the water so far upon the beach on both sides of 
the Island [Santa Rosa] .that I had to flounder along on my 
frightened pony in constant danger of a fall. I got around how 
ever by daybreak and took a good sleep of two or three hours 
before breakfast." 45 

Picket and guard duty thus entailed a large amount of extra 
work coupled with loss of sleep for a period of 24 hours, very 
often, when the force so protected was relatively small. 

SCOUTING SERVICE AND RECONNOISSANCE 

Closely allied with picket duty was scout and reconnaissance 
service in the protection of a camp or military force from surprise. 
These small bodies of troops scoured the country for several miles 



43 Fort McHenry, Baltimore, August 11, 1861. 

44 Santa Rosa island, Florida, March 31, 1862. (Letter begun March 
24th.) 

45 Santa Rosa island, Florida, April 12, 1862. (Letter begun April 7th.) 



~>4 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

in every direction beyond the picket line, bringing back informa 
tion of the enemy s movements and m-asionally picking up a few 
prisoners caught on similar service. The force sent out varied 
from a few men or a platoon, to several companies or even a regi 
ment if there was to be a " reconnaissance in force. 77 On 
Saturday Capt. Smith with one company went out to look up and 
guard a bridge, and on Sunday our company was sent out to 
carry them provisions and scout abroad after the enemy. We 
hurried off and I dropped my pen in order to go. We walked 
five or six miles to reach them, through woods, by-roads and 
marshes, and reached them about 11 Mi o clock. After dinner, 
I took a squad of ten resolute fellows and went on further beating 
about to see if we could find traces of our enemies, and to look 
ever the country. We must have travelled some 8 or 10 miles 
and got back to the little camp about 5 o clock safe and sound. 

" We traversed a beautiful country and there was excitement 
enough in looking for armed enemies to make it very interesting. 
We found several scouts of our friends but no enemies." u We 
lost three men over beyond Hampton yesterday. A small scout 
ing party of six went out, and in returning fell into an 
ambush, by which a Major liawlings, brother of the Eawlings of 
the Illustrated papers was killed and two were wounded and taken 
prisoners. Three escaped. I do not know to what regiment the 
men belonged. We have a man of our company now out as a 
scout or spy within the enemy s lines." 

" Just before the rain began [referring to a storm which he 
has described] our scout (whom we heard this p. m. had fallen 
into the hands of the rebels) came in with a whole skin. He had 
several hair breadth scapes and saw some enemies. He has 
been out in the woods three nights with five comrades, last night 
with one. 

" He is a great genius, named Fiddis, a visionary fellow, 
always planning some mystery and in fact making mysteries out 
of the commonest things. We call him the Scout from his 
propensity for scouting." 47 

During the time: the Seventy-fifth was encamped on Santa 
Rosa island, Florida, various scouting expeditions were sent 
down the island to prevent an attack from the rear. " This morn 
ing two companies were sent down the Island to make an armed 



46 Camp Hamilton. Ya., -Tune 11, ISfil. (Letter hog-un June Sth.) 

47 Camp Hamilton, Ya.. July 20, 1861. 



CAMP LIFE 55 

reconnaissance -- a company of the artillery and a company of 
the Oth Keg t. with three gnus and provisions for live days. Four 
deserters en 11 ic over t>day. and one of them is to bo sent down 
in a schooner tonight in hopes to guide them, to take three com 
panies of rebels down about 30 miles." 5 No results were obtained 
by this party, however. A similar expedition wasi sent out from 
IVnsacola May 27, 1862, in order to capture a Confederate picket 
guard stationed some distance out from the city. 

Three expeditions are to be out tonight, one of which I 
lead. ... I am to leave on the steamer Gen. Meigs at midnight 
to attempt to capture a picket guard or two, and I may, of course, 
see some little skirmish." 

u We got away on our expedition at midnight, and everything 
went off in good order according to the Programme except the 
rebels urto left too soon. We first landed a party at Gassing 
(pronounced Gassong) Pt. and scoured a tract of country sup 
posed to contain a rebel picket. 

This, owing TO misinformation delayed us a little, and it was 
a quarter after three before we got up stream and went on to a 
pi ace on the Escambia Bay known as i Gull Pt. , which we reached 
at daylight. We got into the launches and ashore in the face of 
a house where we were informed the enemy were. It was just 
the gray of morning, 011 the hill in front of us was a light shown 
by the guard, in the East the day was coming out gloriously, on 
the water was our line of boats crowded with soldiers and sailors, 
the sailors striving which boat should first touch the sand. It 
was an inspiriting scene, and there was just enough danger in it 
to make one s spirits rise as in intoxication. We were ashore in 
a. moment, formed quickly, and surrounded the house only to 
find it empty. We had then only to push on to another sup 
posed station. I followed the guide, followed with great difficulty 
l;y the soldiers through a, thick bush, in a circuit of a mile or 
more to the place, dubious of any results for I had already voted 
the guide a humbug. It was a weary mile and we surrounded 
another house. This was the wrong house, and not twenty rods 
from us the rebels to the number of 6 or 8 had just left, in such 
haste as to leave their pork and fresh fish frying on the fire. 
We felt mortified enough and vexed to think we had failed, but 
the fault was in the mistake of the guide. Our men did well, and 



48 Santa Rosa island. Florida. March 27, 1S02. (Letter begun March 
24th.) 



56 LETTERS OP GENERAL BABCOCK 

we did everything promptly. But we couldn t come it. We 
got back to the city about 7 o clock. Col. Merirtt took four com 
panies out to Oaktield OIL a reconnaisance, attacked a small 
picket, killed one man, wounded one, captured three horses and 
saddles, two shot guns and a saber. No one was hurt on our 
side/ 7 49 

These raids, then, (Served several purposes; first, to obtain 
information by observation and capture of prisoners; second, to 
force back Confederate outposts near Union positions ; and third, 
to break the monotony of camp and garrison life, by giving the 
men active service with slight danger in it. 



MARCHES 

Picket duty and scouting were hard 011 the men, as they 
involved loss of sleep, and a certain amount of marching, but 
there was always an element of the unknown in them. Pickets 
were always stationed at points from which an attack was likely 
to come, and scouting expeditions were sent out for the purpose 
of locating the enemy and getting information of his movements. 
Long, continued marches, on the other hand, were largely a matr 
ter of the endurance and physical condition of the men. 

The Third regiment found itself overtaxed by the long march 
to Great Bethel, followed by a battle and a retreat, all on the 
same day, June 11, 1861. Company II had been out on a scout 
ing expedition, in the course of which it had gone a number of 
miles, and had just returned to camp. " I flung myself on my 
mattress, but had to get up at once and pack my trunk and roll 
my overcoat ready for a march which it was said was on foot. 
We directed the men to sleep on their arms and be ready to 
march at a moment s warning, and a little after nine o clock I 
threw myself on my mattress and tried to get a little sleep. A 
little after ten o clock the long roll of the drum started us from 
our sleep and I jumped up and was armed in a minute. The 
men were very quick in line with rifles loaded. But we were 
delayed a long time to get three days rations. It was two o clock 
nearly before we got fairly off. We went to Hampton and were 
put across the creek by Colonel Bartlett s Naval Brigade. The 
expedition was for an attack upon a fortified place near New 
Bethel Church, and was made up of our regiment, of Col. 



49 Pensacola, Fla., May 2S, 1862. (Letter begun May 25th.) 



CAMP LIFE 57 

Allen s, and Col. Duryea s Regiment from here, and of detach 
ments of five companies from each of three regiments at New 
port News. 

" The plan was to attack the enemy on all sides at daybreak, 
drive in their pickets and surprise them. But we did not get 
across the creek until a quarter to three, and it soon began to 
be light. Col. Din-yea s Regiment of Zouaves was ahead of us 
several miles and one Regt. after us. We pushed on rapidly a 
good deal of the time at the double quick step which is a sort of 
dog trot. Our men were very much fatigued, and several were 
exhausted and dropped out of ranks before we got to New Market 
Bridge some four or five miles. . . . [As the regiment was 
marching along the road, it was fired upon by another Union 
regiment from ambush by mistake, and several killed and 
wounded.] 

" Here we found Col. Duryea and most of the troops from 
Newport News, and after a little rest started, and sending our 
dead and wounded back we pushed on. It was now seven o clock. 
By nine o clock we were near the New Bethel Church, and halted 
a few minutes for rest. After resting a moment the artillery, 
of which we had three guns, was sent forward and soon engaged 
the enemy. We were drawn up in line of battle % of a mile 
from the redoubt and could see and hear the fight commence. 
. . . After firing some fifteen minutes and killing quite a num 
ber, we retreated. . . . After a few minutes rest we again 
formed right under fire from their cannon and moved back to 
cur original position. The men were worn out. Scores of them 
sank down unable to carry a gun a step farther. Several cases 
of sunstroke took place. 

"About one o clock we got a few minutes rest and started 
back home. It seemed to mo that I could not put one foot before 
the other. But to walk 10 miles was what I did not imagine 
I could do. It was hot and dusty and I had my heavy overcoat 
to carry and one of the men s heavy overcoats, besides my sword, 
a, haversack and canteen. Slowly we came on, feeling as if every 
mile was the very last, until seven o clock when I got into my 
tent in health and with life. We would not have imagined we 
could do what we did. As near as I can tell, I marched about 
20 miles Sunday, [on the scouting expedition] and 25 miles 
yesterday, and all without more than half an hour s sleep and 



58 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

very little rest. I ate only one good meal during the time, but 
lived on crackers and water." 50 

Wjheii the Union forces from Santa Rosa island landed on the 
mainland across the channel from Fort Pickens, after the evacu 
ation of Pensacola on the night of May 9, 1862, they still had 
a long march to make, beforei they could enter the city and take 
possession. " Our march to Pensacola was a rather hot, dusty, 
weary one of some 10 or 12 miles. The men, however, were all 
in fine spirits, and many men and officers who have long been 
sick we re now pushing on bravely. I was mounted, and though 
I was a little ashamed of it, I did inwardly congratulate myself 
that I was now a field officer just for its exemptions from fatigue. 
Of course I rode easily but finally got off and gave my seat to 
the Leader of the Band who was getting exhausted. I carried 
a musket so for a mile or more. The first house we came to was 
a negro hut, but frocks and all sorts of female garments ( . . . ) 
were out drying on the fence, and you would have laughed your 
self half to death to hear the jokes and remarks as the men 
passed by. . . . We made two or three short, halts, and reached 
the outskirts of Pensacola about six o clock. Here another halt 
was made, the ranks closed up, the Band and field music sent 
to the front, dust brushed off a little and white gloves put on. 
Then the word i forward ! came down the lines, and we went 
briskly on to the tune of Yankee Doodle. The streets we 
passed through were very shabby but any town looked splendid 
to us, and our elation formed a striking contrast to the sour 
looks and downcast faces of the white people who stood in small 
groups on the corners or furtively peeped out of the closed blinds. 
A few houses were open, but stores, hotels, and most dwellings 
were closed. . . . We marched to the plaza and formed a line 
around it with artillery and the General s staff in front. A 
party of marines from the gunboat i Maria Wood landed and 
formed also facing the great flag-staff and the ruins of a gallows 
built here for unionists on the 1st April. . . . While I was 
m-cnc [Major Babcock had been detailed to post guard details 
at the principal points of the- town] the stars and stripes were 
sont to the top of the flagstaff, and saluted with one gun and 
with three cheers from the soldiers and sailors and a good num 
ber of the bystanders." 51 



r>0 Hampton, Va., JUMP 11, 18(51. (Letter begun June 8th.) 
151 Pensacola. Fla., May 14, 1862. 



CAMP LIFE 59 

The campaign into the Teche country of Louisiana commenc 
ing in January, ISOo, and end ing in May of that year when the 
;inny was ordered to Port Hudson, was a very heavy strain on 
officers and men. The advance was steady, day after day, and 
the distances covered were remarkable through a poorly watered 
country. 

" We had a smart march of seven miles yesterday morning 
over a beautiful road to St. Martinsville, ten miles from New 
Iberia. . ; . Leaving St. Martinsville we came out upon an 
immense prairie, and had a weary, dusty march to a bayou about 
a dozen miles from here, where we had to halt a couple of hours 
for a bridge to be built. We crossed about 4 P. M. and pushed 
on four miles more, over the most beautiful rolling plains I ever 
saw. ; . : ." . We found the water poor and our men were terribly 
thirsty and footsore \vhen at six o clock we stopped for the night 
and bivouacked. ... 

"At six o clock, [the next morning] we formed a line of illfed 
cross, weary, footsore men and marched six or seven miles to 
within one mile of Vermillion River where a bridge has been 
burnt, and here we rest until tomorrow a most welcome day 
of rest to men and horses. . . . Our route to Opelousas, for 
two days march, lies through a rolling prairie region, with only 
brackish water in muddy pools here and there. I expect much 
suffering and some loss. We have made many windings on our 
way thus far and have made large marches. 

" On Wednesday we marched from Franklin to Jeannerette s, 
1 S miles, Thursday to a point this side of New Iberia 20 miles, 
Friday 20 miles. Today about six or seven miles. With plenty 
of water the road would be fine. As it is, after a breeze comes 
up in the morning, so as to blow the dust away, we shall go 
very comfortably. In the vicinity of Opelousas, the water is 
gnod. Beyond for three or four days inarch, we shall find the 
water poor. We are bound to Alexandria, and if we have good 
luck shall be there in about five days." 

" We left camp near Vermillion River where I wrote my last 
letter to you, at six o clock yesterday morning in a. most ter 
rific rain. . . . Wo forniod our line at six o clock, and moved off 
to the ford over the river while Xim s battery fired a salute in 
commemoration of the battle of Lexington in the old time and 
tho shedding of Massachusetts blood in the new. [April 19. 



r -Xe;ir Vormillion river, April IS, 1863. 



60 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

1775, and April 19, 1861, at Baltimore.] Oh how the rain 
poured down and the water rose up ! The boys however plodded 
along, singing and joking in the j oiliest of humors, through 
\ 7 ermillionville and over the prairies to the Northward. Before 
noon, the rain ceased so that after all it was a. pleasant march. 
Wet to the skin, nothing could damp the spirits of the boys, and 
in spite of mud and rain we made 18 miles. We encamped last 
night in a lonesome prairie region about 12 miles the other side 
of Opelousas. At six o clock today we were off again, but soon 
lost the road and have had a weary day, marching at least eighteen 
miles to get to this camp one mile North of Opelousas. We got 
here about five o clock. 

" We closed up our ranks and marched through the capital 
of Louisiana to the tune of Yankee Doodle, showing off the 75th 
in fine Style. I confess to some pride as I looked back down 
the column and saw how fine and soldierly they looked. They 
Avere the only Regt. who did not fail on the march. We are to 
rest over one day and then I suppose go on again." 53 

A few days later " Our brigade had left camp Monday 
2 P. M. [probably at Barre s Landing, some distance north of 
Opelousas] gone to Washington, waited four hours, then marched 
till 2 o clock A. M. to catch Dwight, [the general in command 
of the brigade forming the advance] and then starting at six 
again, (reveille a.t 4) had pushed on some 25 miles on Tuesday. 
They marched at least 25 miles on Wednesday. 

" Thursday morning I was waked at four o clock by reveille, 
and the Gen. had intended to march at 5, but the order not hav 
ing been sent around we did not get off till nearly six, and we 
pushed on. Cheneyville was the first place we passed, 32 miles 
fiom Alexandria, Gen. Dwight was some 8 miles ahead, but 
in the P. M. he stopping to repair a bridge, we caught his rear 
guard and passed by his long wagon train. Here Dwight 
marched eight miles without stopping, his cry being Weitzel s 
coming ! Forward ! 

" We kept on steadily until we got within 10 miles of Alex. 
a when we concluded to go into the place anyhow. So on we 
went, Dwight was about two miles ahead, seizing teams to carry 
his stragglers and footsore, an example which we followed 
diligently. 

"About sunset we passed Gov. Moore s place some six miles 



53 Opelousas, La., April 20, 1863. 



CAMP LIFE 



61 



from Alex, a, when, my men began to crowd forward en mass, 
lilling the road. Col. Thomas [of the Eighth Vermont] saw it 
and closed his regiment up in the same way. Now began a race. 
For four or five miles, singing, shouting, laughing, joking, our 
boys crowded on faster than my horse could walk, calling to 
the 8th Vt. to get out of the way and to me and the Adjutant 
to get fresh horses to go on out of the way." I think I never 
laughed more in one hour than I did there. In this way we 
reached Alex, a before eight o clock, bringing nearly every man 
into camp, and arriving before Dwight had got his camp fires 
lighted. 54 It was ten o clock before our wagon trains came up 
and we got supper." 55 

" We are again in camp from which with much labor, I wrote 
you before. We have had a weary march which could be 
described precisely like the famous one of the King of France. 

" We left our camp here [at Alexandria] after dark on Sat 
urday night and marched over onto the road where Gen. Dwight s 



54 James Hall in his " Record of the 75th N. Y. Volunteers," page 103, 
says: "About an hour before sunset an Aid came riding up to Gen. Weitzel, 
who was riding alongside the 75th, and stated Gen Banks s desire that the 
troops should reach Alexandria that night, Porter having taken it with his 
fleet the day before. Knowing the condition of his men, Lieut.-Col. Babcock 
almost despaired of executing the orders he received to that effect. 

" Discussing the predicament with Lieut. Thurber, [of Company A] who 
was at hand, he asked if some excitement could not be aroused to carry the 
men through. Thurber, in turn, appealed to a waggish fellow in his com 
pany to suggest an expedient. Without a moment s hesitation, the witty 
fellow stepped ahead of his comrades, raised aloft his musket, from the 
bayonet of which hung a huge turkey that he had picked up during the day 
and had carried through all the toil and heat, and shouted, Come on, boys ! 
The one who gets into Alexandria ahead of me tonight can have this! 
And with that he started on a double quick. 

" The effect was irresistible, and with an enthusiastic cheer which sur 
prised themselves as well as their officers, the men imitated his pace. A 
few minutes brought them to the rear of the Vermont regiment which had 
the lead. Therefore our boys showered them with such exclamations as Out 
of the way there, slow coaches ! We re bound for Alexandria ! 

" This exhibition of pluck roused the spirit of the Green Mountain Colonel. 
Boys, said old Thomas, in his slow, dry way ; * boys, are you going to let 
the 75th New York get ahead of you? Of course the brave old 8th was not 
to be outdone, and broke into a double-quick. This roused the enthusiasm 
of the other regiments, and they followed suit. Thus, on a full run, Weitzel s 
and Emory s commands charged into the suburbs of Alexandria, which they 
reached at ten o clock. So completely exhausted were they, the men dropped 
to the ground almost at the moment they received the order to halt; and 
they went to sleep just wherever they fell." Hall Cayuga in the Field, part 
2, p. 103. 

Unfortunately Mr Hall does not tell where he got this story, and it is 
given here merely for comparison with the account given in Colonel Bab- 
cock s letters. 

r>r> Alexandria, La., May 9, 1863. 



62 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

brigade was, some two and a half miles from Alex, a- and some 
three miles or more from here. Bivouacking in a corn field, slu>p- 
ing only from two to three hours, we had reveille at three o clock 
and marched at four on Sunday morning towards the i Piney 
Woods . We followed Bayou Rapides, in heatand dust, with 
much weariness, through a lovely looking cotton country for a 
dozen miles or so, when we came in sight of an elevated, rolling, 
woody plateau on our left, across the bayou, known as the Piney 
Woods V 

" Divided from bayou Rapides by a merely artificial embank 
ment, is bayou Jean de Jean, running in an exactly opposite 
direction, which we followed until twenty-five and a half miles 
from Alexandria and near the Eed Eiver again when we halted 
for the night. We got into camp about five o clock and had a 
good supper and rest, and the men were in fine spirits and con 
dition on. Monday morning, to continue on after the enemy, but 
there was no move until three o clock, when we were suddenly 
ordered on, the general having information from the cavalry to 
the effect that the enemy were not over twenty miles or so ahead 
of us, and we might catch them. We made a rapid march of six 
or seven miles while the general rode on to reconnoitre and 

found ourselves about three or four miles into the Pines, a hillv, 

/ 1 

sandy barren land, covered thinly with pines and a small oak 
undergrowth. It is very poorly watered and the prospect began 
to look gloomy. We waited here in the road until near nine 
o clock when the General returned and ordered us back to our 
last camp, and we were informed that we were bound at once 
for Port Hudson, Gen. Hunter being already in the River. It 
was a weary exhausting march back, as indeed are all counter 
marches. We got in late and had a poor supper, our baggage 
wagons, save one, having been ordered down to Alex, a in our 
absence. Yesterday morning at seven we started on our return 
to Alexandria by way of the River, and marched about nineteen 
miles to our former camp, reaching camp in time to get a good 
supper before dark. Our Regiment brought in a considerable 
many more men in ranks than the 160th [Xew York] and 8th 
Vt. together and had no stragglers who did not arrive with the 
wagon train, but it was a weary exhausting march, begun by 
jaded men and prosecuted without sufficient rest. Gen. Dwight s 

led the way and straggled enormously. 
We have now averaged over 10 miles a day for a month and 



CAMP LIFE 63 

uur men and officers begin to show signs of hard work/ When 
incidents occurred to break the monotony of plodding along mile 
after mile, the men. felt the strain of the march less sharply. 
Such a thing happened in the course of the retreat from Alex 
andria. u We left our camp on the river above Alexandria on 
Sunday morning at four o clock, and sending our trains and 
artillery ahead, set our faces towards the rear. The people of 
Alex, a had learned enough of our intentions to understand what 
our movement meant, and could hardly conceal their good humor 
at the idea of relief from the presence of the hated Yankee. . . . 

" We marched out of Alexandria just before sunrise, the gen 
eral intending to make about 20 miles, but the weather was fine 
and the march easy, and we had got twenty-five miles this side 
( f the city before sunset, making a march of at least twenty- 
seven miles. The enemy had not appeared in sight in our rear 
yet. About two miles before we halted we passed a plantation 
where ^lajor Chase in whose house General Arnold lived at 
Pensacola had resided since the war broke out. His negroes 
were all out to see us, and I had just sent my drum corps back 
to the middle of the Regiment to play a little while. As the 
music struck up, they began to dance as if crazy, and old women 
and young, boys and girls, women with ba.bies in their arms and 
women wrinkled with age, crowded into the column and danced 
along with the march. The men gave way, and more than thirty 
of all shades and shapes joined by some soldiers, entertained us 
for a mile with a genuine fandango. The men forgot their 
fatigues and blistered feet, and cheered and snouted and laughed 
as if at a carnival, and it was the funniest and strangest scene 
I ever saw. All had on their Sunday suits and were the neatest 
body of colored people I have ever seen on a plantation. The 
soldiers all along the line caught it up and all the bands struck 
up so that we made the last of the march easier than the first. " n? 

Such were the distances required of an army on the march, 
day after day, carrying heavy rifles, haversacks and blankets. 
Is it any wonder that there was some straggling, and much 
weariness, under these conditions? 



50 Alexandria, La., May 13, 1803. 

57 Xt-ar Bayou Doeuf, on Si inmesport road. May Ifl, 1S03. 



CHAPTER V 

TKANSPORTATION 

The problem of moving men and supplies promptly to points 
where they were most needed, was always a difficult one, to be 
solved by the quartermaster s department. Where a railroad 
could be used, there was the question of available rolling stock 
for the required number of troops. But railroads were few in 
the South and such equipment as the Confederates could not 
take with them in a retreat, they burned and destroyed. 1 Trans 
ports were also in great demand, since a large body of troops 
had to be moved by water, either down the river or along the 
sea coast. Steamers were taken over in large numbers for this 
purpose, both river steamers and ocean-going vessels, but they 
were poorly equipped to handle the forces which were to be 
carried. 2 ( , 

" We got on the steamer [Alidad] about 4 P. M. and soon 
got off [down the Hudson to New York]. There was a tre 
mendous crowd to see us off-- [from Albany]. It was an excit 
ing exhilarating time to me. We brought a Brass Band with us 
and swung out from the landing with music and cheers and a 
forest of waving handkerchiefs. About 10 miles below the city 
we ran upon a bar and were detained until 9 o clock. At l /2 
past 10, tired, restless, and suffering from a cold, I stretched 
my blanket on the floor with a cork life preserver for a pillow, 
and after a while got to sleep. At two o clock I got up with a 
terrible cough and sore throat and went on deck. The night 
was cold, and the men were stretched out and cuddled up in all 
conceivable shapes sleeping and trying to sleep. In % an hour 
or so I stretched my bed again and slept until 4 o clock when 
I got up and went on deck just as we had passed West Point. 
From that time we have had almost delightful trip. ... I am 
now down in the after cabin, surrounded by swords, glasses, 
epaulets, whisky bottles, bouquets, sashes, drums, and boxes of 
all sorts of things. Some 20 gay young officers are around me 

L Colonel Babcock says nothing in his letters concerning the movement 
of troops by rail during the war and therefore that phase of transportation 
has not been taken up. 

2 Near Hampton, Va., June 6, 1861. 

[64] 



TRANSPORTATION 65 

singing all sorts of songs, sentimental, convivial, comic and mis 
cellaneous, striving to while away a dull day. Upon the decks 
are 700 men lounging about, reading, singing, gazing and play 
ing at cards. There is no Sabbath here. The Col. has gone 
ashore to see when we shall laud and where ! " 

It was a long, slow task to get a regiment on board a vessel 
for a move. Men were detailed to load baggage and horses. " W<e 
had twenty-five loads of camp equipage, drawn by 4 hxxrses, or 
mules each." 4 

"We embarked at 4 o clock yesterday (if I may now call it 
the 6th) 5 or as soon thereafter as some tons of baggage and a 
thousand men could be moved from the Island 6 in barges and 
lighters to the steamer on which we are now. We, that is, the 
last of us, got on board about 9% P. M. but the baggage is but 
unloaded and the horses are yet to come. We expect to get 
under way at 8 o clock this (Friday) morning and >shall be on 
the water some 7 to 10 days. Our destination is surely Fort 
Pickens to reenforce that beleaguered place. We might have been 
much better and much worse pleased. We are on a fine staunch 
ocean steamer, and shall have as comfortable quarters and fare 
as we could ever have on any transport ship." 7 

The trip was an uneventful one, although there was a good 
deal of seasickness; excellent meals were served. 8 A week later 
" We dropped anchor at a quarter before six, and \vere at once 
boaided by an officer from the U. S. Steamship Niagara here 
on blockading duty. . . . We have to land in small boats 
through the surf, and shall get wet feet at least. The Col. has 
gone ashore to report to Col. Brown commanding here, and we 
shall probably begin the work of disembarkation early tomorrow. 
It will be a long and tedious job, as all our heavy luggage has 
to go ashore in our metallic life boats." 9 " We began to unload 
our men and baggage yesterday [Saturday] about 10 o clock. 



3 On board Steamer Alida. May 19, 1861. 

4 Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. 

5 The letter was written about 1 a. m. 

6 Governor s island where the Seventy-fifth had been encamped for a time. 

7 On board steamer Baltic, December 6, 1861. (Letter begun December 5, 
1861.) 

8 "At two o clock P. M. the gong sounded for our first dinner on the 
Baltic and we ranged ourselves, thirty strong, in the dining room. 

We had soup, fish, roast turkey, duck and mutton, vegetables nice and plenty, 
pudding, pies, nuts, raisins and everything necessary to a complete dinner." 
On board steamer Baltic, December 6, 1861. 

9 Ibid., December 13, 1861. (Letter begun December 6th.) 

3 



66 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

The Col. and Lt. Ool. went ashore in the first boat and left me 
to attend to the disembarkation of men and stuff. We had three 
of the Baltic metallic life boats and a couple of launches from 
the man of war Niagara, and put 25 to 50 men into each of the 
boats. The Island is some two miles from us where we began 
to land and about three down where the camp is to be. But the 
whole coast is lined with surf, and the launches soon capsized 
and most of the boats filled with water. Several guns and <some 
light baggage was lost and we were soon confined to our own 
boats which landed men and baggage very slowly. We got some 
100 men and a few tents on .shore by dark. . ,.. , * Since break 
fast, we have been landing baggage, but have not made much 
of a beginning. It will be a week before we shall be settled on 
land." 10 

Flat boats and barges had to be collected for the Teche cam 
paign, 11 since there were innumerable bayous and small streams 
to be crossed, and the Confederate cavalry opposing the advance 
invariably burned the bridges to delay the march. Pontoon 
bridges were used for the larger streams, while the Union engi 
neers assisted by fatigue parties detailed for the purpose from 
the main force became very expert in rebuilding the smaller 
structures which had often been only partially wrecked in the 
haste of retreat. 

Some of the river steamers used for transporting troops were 
in bad condition. " We got on board the Omaha, and found her 
the slowest boat ever run, leaving N.[ew] O. [rleans] about 4% 
o clock and reaching this place [Donaldsonville] about 7% this 
morning. I had a good sleep, Col. Van [Petten] and I lying 
down in the cabin on our blankets. We were frightened out of 
a sound sleep once by a rush of steam as if the steam pipe had 
burst, and we ran for the open air in great alarm, only to slip 
back quietly to bed for fear others would laugh as we did." 
In the course of an inspection tour in 1864, while acting as 
inspector general of cavalry, Department of the Gulf, Colonel 
Babccck had a number of river steamers at his disposal for mov 
ing regiments from place to place, and in his letters he shows 
conditions on some of them. On board the steamer " Luminary " 
" I had a good stateroom and nice bed, but Oh ! Mosketoes ! I 



10 Steamer Baltic at Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 14 (i. e. 15) 
1861. 

11 Brashear City, La., January 11, 1863. 
12 Donaldsonville, La., July 27, 1863. 



TRANSPORTATION 67 

had no bar. I got to sleep, however, and awoke in the night to 
find my hands and wrists smarting furiously, and my finger 
joints appearing to be swollen. This did not spoil my sleep, and 
in the morning I was all right." 

He had been at Baton Rouge inspecting the regiments there 
and was ready to return down the river. " The Mittie Stephens 
had steam up, and I got on to her, with a miscellaneous crowd 
of spies, smugglers, Jews, and perhaps others, and came slowly 
down the river. The Mittie is a Coast Packet, and stops at any 
plantation or place where a white flag is waved to take on pas 
sengers or freight. We dined in great state at 2 P. M. (for 
50 cts) and before three I got off at Hermitage Plantation." 14 

About two weeks later he was ordered to rejoin his regiment, 
now attached to the Army of the Potomac, and embarked on the 
steamer Arago. " Daylight found us somewhere above the Forts 
[Jackson and St. Philip below New Orleans] and we only 
reached the bar at 2 P. M., just in time to stick on it. Here 
we lay, the horses suffering intensely from heat, until the tele 
graph could summon assistance for us from 1ST. O. About 
noon on Saturday, one tug arrived and added her efforts to ours, 
but to no purpose. During the P. M. several tugs came down, 
but nothing could be done until Sunday, as the tide is at flood 
there at noon now. Early on Sunday, the men 15 were transshipped 
011 one of the tugs and six other tugs began to haul on us. Just 
as we had given it up, we floated about 1 P. M. and by the time 
we had finished our dinner (we dine at 2 P. M.) the ship was 
rolling so as to disturb us a good deal. . . . 

" The vessel is very dirty, the table is illy spread, and the 
viands are badly prepared. We do little at table but just satisfy 
a feeble demand of hunger and grumble. 

"At our table is Gen. Orover, whom I like better, Dr. and 
Mrs. Hoffman who are both agreeable, cultivated people, Mrs. 
H[essel-tine] and Mrs. Merritt, Mr. Sayre and myself, no 
others. There are no other ladies. There is little ice on board, 
no water except from a leaky condenser which yields salt water, 
there are no fruits, the ship is crowded, the men and horses are 
on a short allowance of water and so everything conspires to 
make us measurably cross and uncomfortable." 16 

13 New Orleans, La., June 30, 1864. 

14 New Orleans, La., July 12, 1864. 

15 Grover s division of the Nineteenth Army Corps was on board. 

16 On board Steamer Arago, July 30, 1864, 



68 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

Baggage and supplies ordinarily followed the army on wagons 
drawn by four horses or mules. 17 There was always danger of 
a cavalry raid to capture the wagon train, as it was long and 
moved slowly. Troops of course guarded it, but the force 
detailed for convoy duty was usually comparatively small, and 
the loss to the army of its wagon train was a serious blow. Teams 
were often commandeered or utilized to carry troops from one 
place to another. "Fortified by a good breakfast, we stepped 
ashore at Barre s Landing at eight o clock Wednesday morning. 
The troops were nearly all gone and I could hear no word of 
my horse or saddle. Daniel found the old white horse he had 
ridden and we soon got two carts, a one-mule cart in which Dr. 
Bacon got with negro driver, and a threer-mule cart into which 
Wrotnowski, Lieuts. Snow and Sanborn 1st Me Bat., Dr. Bene 
dict and I got, with our baggage. Dr. Benedict drove and won 
great applause by the manner in which he turned the latent 
strength of our three mules to account. Starting a little after 
nine, we reached Washington about noon, inquiring everywhere 
for our brigade, and no one seemed to know where it was. Just 
out of Washington we lunched and watered our mules. Seven 
miles beyond, we halted an hour and fed our mules and got a 
good rest. . . . Dr. Bacon amused us greatly by sending word 
frequently into the houses as we passed t Give my compliments 
to your master and tell him Hurra for Lincoln ! He is very 
bitter toward the rebels. Our mules began to go tired, but we 
pushed ahead as fast as we could until by sunset we came up 
with Grover and General Banks s Head Quarters, six miles short 
of Holmesville. Here Dr. Ba,con stopped. We took supper with 
Col. Dwight. I got a fresh pony for Daniel to ride, and Dr. 
Benedict found three fresh mules for our cart. I looked through 
Grover s Division but found nothing of horse or saddle. 

" About eight o clock we started off fresh expecting to catch 
the brigade by a 20 mile ride, but passing Holmesville and Gen. 
Emory two or three miles beyond it, we still had 20 miles to 
go, long long miles, I tell you. However, we accomplished it by 
two o clock and came upon Gen. Weitzel s pickets." 1 

Thus the transportation problem was solved, poorly at times, 
and with many delays, but with increasing efficiency as the war 
progressed, and the organization for handling it rounded into 
form. 



" Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. Alexandria, La., May 13, 1863. 
18 Alexandria, La., May 9, 1863. 



CHAPTER VI 

ORGANIZATION 

TROOPS (PERSONNEL) 

In the formation of volunteer regiments, all sorts and condi 
tions of men were thrown together through the arbitrary assign 
ment to the regiment, of companies coming from different parts 
of the State. The officers naturally came in closer contact with 
one another than did the men of a. regiment, since there were 
only three commissioned officers to each company of a hundred 
men. Special drills and officers schools brought them together 
constantly for a common purpose . Thus it was important that 
there should be the least possible friction among those who would 
have to cooperate in making an efficient regiment. 

When Company H arrived in Albany and was assigned to the 
Third Regiment, Colonel Townsend took the officers to the bar 
racks and introduced them to their fellow officers. 1 After the 
formal organization of the regiment they began to get better 
acquainted with each other through their barrack life. " Our 
officers are really a fine lot of fellows of very good habits in the 
main. 

" I like Col. Tfownsend]. He is one of your born aristocrats 
but has seen service enough, and the world enough, to be an 
agreeable man. He made an overland trip to California several 
years ago, and knows what hardship is." In spite of this glow 
ing statement at the beginning, friction soon developed and 
traits of character began to show which had not appeared at 
first. Late in June, Colonel Townsend received an offer of a 
commission in one of the regiments of regulars, and went to 
Washington to obtain the appointment. 3 " We are having quite a 
ferment in our Regiment about field officers. Col. Townsend 
has at last given us official notice of his having left us perma 
nently. The Colonelcy, of course, is left vacant. The Lieutenant 
Col. Alford, is very obnoxious to us all, and yet we found our 
selves in such a condition that we were obliged to recommend 
him for appointment to the Colonelcy, and he has gone to Albany 
to get the appointment. He will come back, no doubt, Col. of 

1 Diary, April 28, 1861. 

2 Albany, N. Y., May 7, 1861. 

8 Camp Hamilton, Va., June 21, 1861. (Letter begun June 20th.) 

[69] 



70 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

the Regiment. Meantime, in default of Col., Lt. Col. and Major, 
we are commanded by Capt. Abel Smith Jr. of Brooklyn who is 
Senior Captain. We are in a, muss aibout whom we will have 
for Major. We have recommended Capt. Smith for Lt. Col. 
and he will make us a fine officer. If Col. Alford, who is a 
sot, could be got rid of, we should feel quite well. 

" Now, we all feel quite ill. Catlin [captain of Company H] 
wants to be Major, but can t make any show for it. Col. Alford 
will be gone a week, during which time, we are not likely to 
move from here, except for picket duty." 4 The demoralization 
of the regiment increased until there was talk of disbanding it 
on August 15, 1861, when its three months of service was com 
pleted, but no action for this purpose was taken. Instead, when 
the mutiny of August 15th occurred, General Dix as commander 
of the troops acted promptly, arresting the noncommissioned 
officers and threatening to turn the artillery on the mutineers. 

" We had a serious time yesterday morning which had like 
to have had a tragic ending. For some weeks our men have 
talked of claiming their discharge on the 14th inst. their three 
months being up then, on the ground that the IT. S. only recog 
nizes volunteers for three months and three years, and we being 
enrolled for two years must be treated as three months troops. 
But there had been so much talk that it was finally a good deal 
laughed at, and when I went to bed on Wednesday night I had 
no idea of waking upon Thursday the 15th in the midst of a 
mutiny. But so it chanced. I awoke about 5 o clock (the 
reveille was not beaten at half past four for want of drumsticks 
which the drummer alleged had been stolen) and having a head 
ache and being in a profuse perspiration with occasional chills 
I concluded not to get up until breakfast time though I felt 
very well. I heard the order Fall in for roll call ! to which 
only four of our company besides the new recruits answered. 
Soon Capt. Catlin came in to borrow a pistol and told me the 
men were refusing to fall in. Of course I got up and dressed 
as quick as I could, and found Capt. C. had about a dozen in 
line. With my assistance and the muzzle of a huge pistol which 
he presented to them all that yet remained in the quarters were 
got into line about 20. Some companies had more, some less, 
some none. We moved the sick, cooks, servants and loyal ones 
off the ground to the left of the camp and finally around on 

4 Ibid., July 9, 1861. (Letter begun July 8th.) 



ORGANIZATION 71 

the parade ground in front of the Fort. A field piece was 
brought to bear on the mutineers. Gen. Dix visited them and 
soon had them all in line. By this time however it was nine 
o clock and we were all as hungry as bears. . . . Last night there 
was a very good state of feeling in camp, and I think the men 
were enough ashamed of their prank, and far enough satisfied 
with Gen. Dix s determination to have discipline so that there 
will be no more trouble. Gen. Dix made a short speech to them, 
read the articles of war applicable to the case, arrested the non 
commissioned officers engaged in it and committed them for trial. 
No mention of it has got into the Baltimore papers yet, and I 
presume it will not be heard of except by means of private letters, 
an unusually large number of which were written and sent. 

" Some of our men grumbled very much to have a, loaded 
pistol presented at their heads, but I think the spectacle will 
not harm them. There are no signs of insubordination now." 
" I had about as lief go to jail as undertake the command of 
any company in this regiment, so utterly demoralized are the 
men." 6 " There are but 12 or 15 officers out of 30 in all, now 
present fit for duty, not enough to furnish all the companies 
with a commissioned [officer] to command on parades and 
drills." 7 

Colonel Babcock came in closer touch with the officers of the 
Seventy-fifth New York, howeveir, than with those of the Third 
regiment, both on account of his rank and by reason of his longer 
term of service in it. His first impression of them was wholly 
favorable. " I am charmed with our officers They improve 
upon acquaintance. There is not a rowdy or a snob among them 
and some of them are remarkably genial, agreeable men. This 
surgeon, Dr. Benedict of Skaneateles is a well read social, jovial 
man who attends conscientiously to all his duties and has the 
crowning virtue of Abou Ben Adhem. He is an old abolitionist 
who has escaped fanatiscism. i 1 . . Dr. Powers, the Assistant 
Surgeon is another warm-hearted genial soul who loves such books 
as I do, and reads a great deal. The Chaplain, Mr. Hudson of 
Union Springs, knows many of my friends. . . . He is 
a quite, conscientious man who loves his fellow men." 

5 Fort McHenry, August 16, 1861. 

6 Ibid., October 18, 1861. 

7 Ibid., October 20, 1861. (Letter begun October 18th.) 

8 On board the steamer Baltic, December 9, 1861. (Letter begun Decem 
ber 6th.) 



72 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

. 

" I like our officers and regiment better and better. There are 
nine captains and all high minded men, some of them remarkably 
fine specimens of manhood. I like best Capt. D wight, County 
Judge of Cayuga Co., Capt. McDougall a young Scotchman, a 
banker in Auburn, and Capt. Porter a Methodist clergyman. 9 
The Chaplain pleases me much, and the surgeon and assistant 
surgeon are men whom it is worth while to know. Col. Dodge 
is a strange, taciturn man, possibly a little jealous in his disposi 
tion, but a man of integrity, energy and pride of character. The 
Lieut. Col. Merritt, is a fellow of considerable force and fair 
character." 10 

As the regiment approached its destination of Santa Rosa 
island, Florida, the officers began to speculate on the character 
and personality of the officers with whom they would come in 
contact there, from the regulars, and from the Sixth regiment 
of New York Volunteers. " Col. Wilson s officers are said to 
be a fine gentlemanly set of men, and regard us in the same 
favorable light, so we shall get on well together." n The two regi 
ments did not have any difficulties with each other, for each was 
a unit in itself, and they were not put under brigade regulations 
for several months. The officers and men of the Sixth regiment, 
however, were continually getting into trouble, and courts-martial 
were held very often for the trial of offenders. Major Newby 
of that organization showed his character in a shooting affray 
which occurred on March 2, 186 ! 2i. " He has figured, so report 
says, as a professional gambler in California, as an officer in 
Nicaraugua under Walker, and as a lawyer at home. He is now 
a very good looking fellow with white skin, black hair and a 
waxed moustache a la Napoleon." 12 

Friction developed in the Seventy-fifth, also, partly as a result 
of promises which had been made to another officer of securing 
the position of major in the regiment, and partly on account of 
the character of Colonel Dcdge. "I learn from Capt. Mac- 
Dougall . . . who is the Captain of A company, a, banker, a 

9 Charles C. Dwight, captain of Company D ; Clinton D. MacDougall, 
captain of Company A. (Major Babcock in his letters spells this man s 
name " McDougall.") ; and Lansing Porter, captain of Company I. This 
information has been obtained from a printed list of the officers of the 
Seventy-fifth New York which had been cut out and pasted inside the 
cover of the diary for 1862. 

10 On board the steamer Baltic, December 13, 1861. (Letter begun Decem 
ber 6th.) 

"Steamer Baltic at Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 14 [15], 1861. 
12 Santa Rosa island, Florida, March 3, 1862. 



ORGANIZATION 73 

smart business man, a man who has traveled/ a gentleman and 
a fine officer, that he was promised the position of Major in the 
Regiment by Col. Dodge fairly and squarely. ... He seems 
to like me and I am sure I take to him. He is a frank, manly 
fellow who loves and hates as strongly as one can. 7 13 The feel 
ing against Colonel Dodge gradually increased as shown by pas 
sages in successive letters, as little incidents occurred. 14 

" I am not so much annoyed at what affects me, after all, as 
I am by his infernal native meanness. His one great ruling 
characteristic is Selfishness. Nothing is too good for him in the 
way of eating, drinking, bodily comforts, and he would be for 
ever unhappy if any neighbor had a thing which he had not. 
At table he is so mean that he will not, unless asked, pass a 
dish or help a neighbor to the least thing. And he never dis 
guises his passion, for he has no idea how it looks or what it is. 
He talks very little proof of wisdom doubly strong in him, 
for he knows comparatively little. ... I have come to disre 
spect him very thoroughly." 15 Colonel Dodge w T as found hiding 
behind one of the tents listening to private conversation among 
a group of officers one evening, and this act did a great deal to 
crystallize the feeling against him. He finally resigned in July 
1862, 16 and the tension decreased from that time. 

The regiment was formed into a brigade with the Sixth regi 
ment in March, and placed under the command of Brigadier 
General Arnold, who had succeeded Colonel Brown as command 
ant at Fort Pickens. " General Arnold seems to be a humane 
officer and a judicious commander. He affords us all possible 
facilities for shelter and rest and looks after health and com 
fort as well as military discipline. Our summer, so far, at least, 
as officers are concerned, will be very comfortable." 17 This officer 
was a very active man, and chafed at the delay in attacking 
Pensacola on account of the lack of boats to carry his troops 
to the mainland. Rumors were rife on the island that expedi 
tions were to be sent out a number of times, and he urged Gen 
eral Butler at Ship island to send him boats for the attack, but 
the attempt was never made. He organized his men into an 

13 Santa Rosa island, Florida, January 3, 1861 (i. e. 1862). 
14 /6id., December 25, 1861. (Letter begun December 20th.) 
Ibid., December 28, 1861. (Letter begun December 26th.) 
15 Ibid., February 1, 1862. (Letter began January 31st.) 

16 Hall, "A Record of the 75th N. Y. Volunteers." In Cayuga in the Field, 
part 2, p. 53. 

17 Santa Rosa island, Florida, May 2, 1862. (Letter begun May 1st.) 



74 LETTERS OP GENERAL BABCOCK 

efficient force, and trained them in all forms of offensive 
operations. 18 

On December 16, 1862, Major General Banks took command 
of the Department of the Gulf, 19 succeeding General Butler, and 
shortly afterwards the army moved up the Teche. There is a 
good deal of difference of opinion as to the success of this cam 
paign, and its object, but the letters take the view that it was 
a failure. " Gen. Banks is very unpopular, at least he seems so. 
In our Brigade, he is voted ineligible to the presidency, and 
couldn t get a score of votes. I don t go much on him myself." 20 
" He tries to be popular with the soldiers, but has not their con 
fidence. Gen. Weitzel is the pet of the troops." 21 "I was very 
glad to have Col. Dwight join us, for there will be at least one 
sensible man on Gen. Banks s staff. His staff officers seem to 
be very unpopular everywhere, supercilious as the Devil. Major 
Carpenter, however, must now be excepted, as he is Chief Quar 
ter Master of the Expedition and so is on the staff of the Com 
manding General. 7 22 

General Banks conducted several campaigns with more or less 
success during the year of 1863, and the early part of 1864, 
but his control over affairs lessened gradually. 23 In March 1864, 
came the Red river campaign and the disastrous retreat. This 
expedition completed his failure as a general in command of a 
department, although he was not superseded until late in 1864. 
Colonel Dwight was sent to the mouth of Red river to meet 
Confederate commissioners and arrange for an exchange of 
prisoners, in August 1864, and the officer from Mobile asked 
him " But what has become of General Banks, has he any com 
mand nowadays ? Oh Yes. He commands the department of 
the Gulf. I did not say in a horn nor l super sinistram ." 24 



18 W. Babcock to "Friend Harry" Wells (?) of the Owego Times (?). 
Santa Rosa island, Florida, March 13, 1862. 

19 Diary, December 10, 1862. 

20 Franklin, La., April 16, 1SG3. (Letter begun April 14th.) 

21 Near Opelousas, La., April 22, 1863. 

22 Ibid., April 24, 1863. 

"Affairs [at Port Hudson] are badly managed. The most intimate and 
influential friends of Banks are mere adventurers, not in the service of the 
Government except as Gen. Banks employs them. The officers by whom he 
seems to set most store have not the confidence of those who know them 
best. Banks himself is very unpopular with all except Massachusetts troops, 
and I do not think he has the confidence of anybody." Port Hudson, La., 
July 4, 1863. 

23 New Orleans, La., June 30, 1864. 

24 Colonel Dwight to Colonel Babcock, New Orleans, La., August 24, 1864. 




GENERAL BANKS 



ORGANIZATION 75 

Some time previously, Colonel Babcock wrote " The gossip is 
that Dana is to command the Department of the Gulf soon 
Can this hi 1 true ( Banks is gone up, surely, and cannot remain 
many weeks if signs do not fail. 

" By the bye, has the last epigram on Banks reached the mouth 
of White River? It is believed here to be as well put as many 
which have seen print. 

" Tis said that Banks has grown profane, 
For once he dammed Red River; 
But in return, that vengeful stream 
Has damned poor Banks forever ! " 25 

Perhaps it may be fitting to conclude this part of the study 
dealing with the officers with whom Colonel Babcock came in 
contact, by giving six " traits " or character sketches which were 
jotted down in the front of the diary for 1862. The first of 
these describes Robert 0. Perry of Tarrytown, N. Y. 

"A slight little fellow, nice, and even finical in dress, au fait 
in the usages of polite society, thoroughly read in everything 
merely literary, with refined taste in literary criticism, in ladies 
dresses and in the modes of the tailor. 

" He is modest, careful of the feelings of others, full of humor 
and good humor, and has a memory which enables him to tell 
a story or two apropos to any subject of conversation. He don t 
like the common people, and loves literature for its own sake 
rather than for its humanizing influences on the ruder classes. 
He has too much regard for the feelings of others to be a 
reformer, but a more genial companion could hardly be. He is 
30 years old, 5 feet inches high, has black hair and eyes, 

speaks quick and stammers a little. He is Military Sec y at 
Hd. Qrs. and is 5th Sergt, in Co. I V 

The subject of the second is Dr Benedict of Skaneateles, !N". Y. 

" Dr. B. is a large, rather corpulent fleshy man whose pre 
vailing style of thought is severe. He is one of the surly Anti- 
slavery and Temperance reformers, and, though not at all in 
keeping with his habits of thought, this has made him a skeptic 
in religious matters. He appreciates humor, likes a joke at the 
expense of others, but not at his own, and never hesitates to 
speak his mind on account of the feelings of his hearers. He 

25 Colonel Babcock to General [Lee (?)]. New Orleans, La., July 17, 
1864. 



76 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

persists in ignoring the rank of his associates, shakes hands with 
officers and privates alike in his daily duties as surgeon, and 
sends his compliments to the Sergeant of the Guard as quick 
as to the General Commanding. 

" He dresses well, practices the domestic virtues, and once 
turned a friend out of doors for boasting of a piece of financial 
slight of hand. 

" He is Surgeon of the 75th N. Y. Vols." 

" Dr. P. [owers] is a pale, mild, genial man who has read 
nearly everything, travelled all over this continent, collected 
rare books, coins, curiosities in natural history, autographs and 
the Lord knows what else. He smokes incessantly, likes a social 
glass with a friend, looks on the dark side of things, but croaks 
so pleasantly as to give nobody the blues, and knows a great 
fund of stories of himself and others which he tells with much 
humor and grace. Rather a reformer in his social and religious 
notions, he disturbs nobody in their own. He writes readable 
letters for the newspapers, and scientific articles for the medical 
journals. A kind, hospitable gentleman whose temper and 
deportment will not allow him an enemy, and whose talent and 
culture are almost wasted as Ass t Surgeon of the 75th 
K Y. V." 

The next sketch is of Lewis E. Carpenter, of Auburn, N. Y., 
quartermaster of the regiment, and one of Colonel Babcock s 
best friends during the war. 

"A rough, ungraceful body a little under medium height, light 
hair and sandy beard, a full face broken into by the loss of an 
arch in the bridge of his nose, pertain to my friend L. E. C. 

"He is thoroughly acquainted with the literature and prac 
tices of the sporting world, has visited London, Paris and San 
Francisco, but has never shed his awkward manners. Yet he 
is a true gentleman and an honest man, and kindliness warms 
his face and polishes his ways. 

" Modest even to bashfulness, any encroachment on his rights, 
or an act of meanness or oppression brings a self-asserting jerk 
to his head which must not be trifled with. He will not be out 
done if he can help it, but is shrewd and cautious, and rarely 
commits himself rashly to anything. Friendly to reforms, he 
is too timid to be a reformer, but shines as a genial comrade and 
a faithful man." 

Colonel Dodge is described as a A smallish man, below medium 



ORGANIZATION 77 

size, taciturn, cunning, jealous, selfish and ill-bred. He has a 
heart open by nature to kindly impulses, but he has been buf 
feted about so much by men, and so broken by disease, that what 
was meant for an easy nature has become fitful, morose and 
hard. When pleasant, he is very complaisant, but when out 
of humor he will treat friends and strangers alike with great 
rudeness, and when asked the commonest questions of business 
or civility will stand stock still or blurt out a rude reply. His 
weak side is reached by flattery, and he has great pride of 
appearance and opinion. His Regt. gives him immense impor 
tance and he would not forego the command of it for anything. 
His most sensitive point is the fear that some of his officers will 
get more influence than himself. He would keep up a car win 
dow for his own comfort if his consumptive neighbor was killed 
by it." 

Brigadier General Lewis Gr. Arnold, of Boston, commanding 
the Department of Florida, is the subject of the last of these 
sketches. 

" Bred a soldier and having served his country in all sorts 
of warfare he is fitted by experience for holding an important 
office. He is small and seems a little bent out of shape but has 
quite a martial air on his horse, which he sits very well. His 
head is round, his face mild and pleasant and the glance of his 
round black eyes very genial. He has a habit of saying very 
good things and of indicating his own appreciation of them by 
cocking his eye at his listener. 

" He is brave, prudent, ambitious, active and cautious at once. 
He is a good disciplinarian, without being severe, and strives, 
by a law of his nature, to conciliate and please all of his officers. 
The result is that he is very popular with all, and his influence 
and administration could hardly be bettered." 

Efficient officers make efficient troops, and in general the men 
volunteering for service in the ranks of the Union armies were 
of such caliber as to make good soldiers with proper training. 
The country was deeply in earnest, and meant to support those 
in charge of operations to the end. There was a wild furor of 
enthusiasm at the outset, which gradually wore off, but settled 
into a determination to crush the rebellion at any cost. All 
classes of men came forward in response to the various proclama 
tions calling for troops. "As the men of the city companies 
filed in to eat, with short hair, dirty clothes, and stolid, brutal 



78 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

faces, I felt sad to think that our men should associate together 
at all with them. . . . Our regiment is to be separated as soon 
as may be. Our company is universally pronounced to be one 
of the best companies yet seen in Albany. The Col. flatters us 
very much, and I think his designs are such as to make it for 
his interest to deal well by us." 26 " The Troy regiment, who are 
a set of thieves and marauders, broke open the church [near 
which the force supporting a reconnoitering party was stationed] 
injured the organ most wantonly, outraged the church and scat 
tered the books all about." 27 

The New York regiments were weak in numbers, and sickness 
and hard work soon reduced their membership. 28 " They [the 
men] shirk a good deal from the daily duty of camp. This 
morning I was quite discouraged at the shrinking manifested, 
and went to the Ool. He came down to the quarters, and routed 
them out suddenly so that we got a good turnout. 7 29 " We have 
attempted to make arrangements to recruit our company and at 
least fill up the places of those who have gone home. We need 
15 or 20 good plucky men to make cur company strong enough 
to hold its own. We are getting quite well enough sifted out 
now so that we could, with 15 more good men, get on easily. 
Weak companies have more work, for each man, to do than 
strong ones." 30 

When the Third regiment moved to Fort McHenry it was 
brought in contact with the Eighth Massachusetts. " They were 
the brave boys who first came with Gen. Butler to Annapolis 
and built the R, R. to Washington. In their ranks is Homans, 
the engineer who found and recognized his own handiwork in 
the mud of Maryland and rebuilt and restored it to usefulness. 
Day and night almost without food, the brave fellows worked 
and marched for ten days. Of all this they had a thousand 
proud stories to tell, and they had so many questions to ask 
about the Bethel fight." 31 " They were the most brightly intel 
ligent looking soldiers I ever saw, and I especially admired their 
handsome manly officers, as I saw them at Dress Parade last 
night." This regiment, however, was only a three months 
regiment, and went home July 30th, when its time was up. 

26 Albany, N. Y., April 28, 1861. 

27 Hampton, Va., June 20, 1861. 

28 Ibid., June 19, 1861. (Letter begun June 18th.) 

29 TMd., June 21, 1861. (Letter begun June 20th.) 

30 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 18, 1861. 

31 Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. 
82 Ibid. 



ORGANIZATION 



79 



As the war dragged on enlistments came to be made for 3 
years, and the character of the regiments coming to the front 
seems to have changed for the better. The Seventy-fifth may 
perhaps be taken as a type of these. The men and officers who 
volunteered for this regiment came with a sense of the reality 
of the war and a knowledge of its hardships and dangers. " We 
have a superb regiment, a fine bcdy of faithful, patriotic men 
and officers who need little urging to do their duty well. If the 
Col. were a good disciplinarian and a decent man, we should 
have the best spirit possible." 33 This high standard was main 
tained all through the war, and although its losses were heavy, 
it was still a crack regiment. In the course of the campaign in 
Virginia Colonel Babcock wrote, " The officers here are all doing 
first rate now, are faithful and willing and brave. I would 
rather have the 300 muskets we carry in battle than 450 of any 
other troops I know, in spite of the grumbling of our men at 



times." 



The Sixth regiment of New York Volunteers, however, com 
posed of men from Xew York City, apparently was of a very 
low standard of morality, although it fought well in battle. " It 
is a fine Reg t, but though it has been in the service over a year, 
it is, I think, inferior to ours in spirit and discipline." " Col. 
Wilson s men are a poor set of sticks, many of them criminals 
and many of them drunkards. Only a few are worth knowing 
or remembering. One of them, a private, was caught about 4 
this morning in a tent near which, he was posted as a sentinel, 
apparently trying to find a watch there to steal." The mem 
bers of this regiment were a constant source of trouble to the 
provost marshal of Pensacola, also, since liquor came into the 
port by the ships arriving, and all sorts of riots and assaults 
took place. " Yesterday Col. Billy Wilson went to Oakfields on 
a scout, and his officers and men plundered an old man, a union 
man, too, of over $400 worth of watches, money, plate, liquor 
& etc. which we have been trying today to restore. It has been 
a great mortification to us, and the General has been terribly 
angry about it. He gave Col. Wilson a tremendous rating this 
morning, and ordered him to restore everything or pay for it, 
and punish the offenders. We shall find most of the goods. They 

33 Santa Rosa island, Florida, April 30, 1862. (Letter begun April 25th.) 
3 *Xear Berryville, Va., September 9, 1864. 

35 Santa Rosa island, Florida, April 30, 1862. (Letter begun April 2oth.) 
lbid., March 2, 1862. 



80 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

are a precious set of thieves." 37 " Oh but Billy Wilson s men 
are the very flower of the Dead Rabbits, the creme de la creme 
of Bowery society. I only want a decent excuse to shoot one 
or two. I have one in irons, and him and one other in the City 
Jail tonight in a nice snug room." 38 

When the Seventy-fifth arrived in New Orleans on Sep 
tember 3, 1862, General Butler was busily organizing the troops 
under his command and raising new forces. " He has a negro 
regiment nearly full, officered by negro captains and lieutenants, 
under the command of Col. Stafford. They are said to be fine 
looking men, and as Gen. Butler wittily wrote to the Secretary 
of War, i will not average a deeper color than the late Mr. 
Webster. He has one fine regiment of Louisiana troops, 1st 
La. Yols. and there are about 300 recruits for the 2nd La. Regt. 
now in this depot. Indeed as I sit on my balcony to write these 
words, T am almost deafened by the shoutings of the drill ser 
geants who are teaching some dozen or more of squads and com 
panies the elements of tactics." 39 These black troops showed 
their mettle before Port Hudson, in 1863. " The negro troops, 
it is said, really won some fine laurels a few nights ago. Between 
them and the rebels lay three ravines occupied by the rebel 
pickets, which the negroes determined to possess. The rebels 
rallied in force and met them, in desperate fight. The sick and 
convalescent of the negroes, even on crutches they say, turned 
out and pitched in and fought like the best soldiers, finally driv 
ing in the rebels over two-thirds of the distance and holding the 
ground gained. Everybody ( . . . ) speaks in the highest terms 
of them now, and soon there will be but one opinion of the black 
soldiers." 40 

Such was the personnel of the regiments with which Colonel 
Babcock came in contact, in his four years of army life, and 
although he may have been a harsh judge of character in certain 
cases, he was in a position to value conduct with a fair degree 
of accuracy. 



37 Pensacola, Fla., July 28, 18>62. (Letter begun July 23d.) 
MlUd., August 5, 1862. (Letter begun August 3d.) 

89 Steamer Ocean Grove, and New Orleans, La., September 4, 1862. 
(Letter begun September 2d.) 
40 Port Hudson, La., July 1, 1863. 



ORGANIZATION 81 

EQUIPMENT 

Very little is said in the letters, concerning the equipment 
which was furnished to the men, either clothing or arms. " This 
morning we distributed shirts, drawers, and caps to them, and 
with the bracing air and beautiful sunshine, they are as happy 
as can be." 41 Uniforms likewise were issued, but many of them 
were of poor quality and did not last any length of time with 
hard usage. About the middle of July Lieutenant Babcock 
writes, " Colonel Alford returned last night from Albany with 
promises that our Regt. shall have new uniforms throughout, 
shoes, stockings, shirts, and overclothes. With these we shall be 
quite proud and comfortable. " 42 "About the clothing [while 
at Camp Hamilton] it was all true. Partly it was the fault of 
the soldiers themselves, and no man need have been naked. But 
soldiers are children, and when their garments gave out, they 
would curse the maker and give them an extra rip instead of 
a mending. The result was that they lost care and pride, and 
the Troy Regt. 2nd, Col. Carr, was in a very bad iix. Many men 
had no pants and did duty in drawers and barefooted. Many 
had only a dirty Havelock to wear on their heads. Our Regt. 
having a neater colored uniform (dark blue jacket and light 
blue pants) had more pride and took better care of their clothes. 
Still .some of ours were barefooted and even some had no 
pants." 43 

The officers evidently had to furnish their own equipment. 
" I bought my soldiers cap and ordered a pair of soldier pants. 
My dress will consist when complete of a frock coat, blue, with 
gilt buttons, close and straight in front. My pants will also be 
of dark blue, full and long, with a green welt on the outside of 
each leg. The military overcoat is a sort of coat with a cape of 
blue with gilt buttons. ... I have no sword yet. Do not know 
when or where it is to be had ! " 44 

" I get back to camp about 1 P. M. and found the boys with 
blankets strapped, knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., all on, 
being inspected! Soon after this the Rifles came and I have 
been hard at work ever since preparing and distributing the 

41 Albany Barracks, N. Y., May 5, 1861. 

42 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 18, 1861. 

It is rather interesting to note that these new uniforms came from the 
State of Xew York, and not the United States. 

43 Baltimore, Md., July 30, 1861. (Letter begun July 29th.) 
"Albany Barracks, N. Y., May 8, 1861. 

New Orleans, La., September 13, 1862. 



82 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

guns. They are the Enfield rifle, a very effective and handsome 
weapon and the boys are delighted with them." 45 The Seventy- 
fifth received a better gun than the other, in August 186 2. 
" Our regiment received new arms and accoutrements through 
out, yesterday. They now have a rifled musket which is equal 
to any in the world, and I trust will make a good use of them." 4ti 
These rifles, however, were muzzle-loaders and required some 
little time to load and fire, as, according to the drill manual, 
there were nine distinct operations in charging the piece, and 
three more in discharging it. The cartridge had to be torn off 
with the teeth, the powder poured into the barrel of the gun, the 
ball inserted and the charge rammed home. Finally a cap was 
placed on the primer beneath the hammer, and the piece was 
ready for firing. 47 

This slew process of loading and firing explains in some degree 
the preparations which the Confederates had made to receive the 
final assault at Port Hudson. " They generally agreed that our 
next assault must succeed. Their artillery was mostly knocked 
up by our superior shooting, but we captured a good deal of 
artillery and immense quantities of ammunition. Their soldiers 
on the breastworks, in anticipation of another assault, were fur 
nished with three guns each, one rifled musket, to fire until we 
should get very close, and two smooth-bore muskets or shot-guns 
heavily loaded with buckshot. You can perhaps imagine, but 
I cannot describe the slaughter which good soldiers would make 
with such an armament," 48 

EXPENSES 

A very interesting list of prices of various articles of equip 
ment is given on the last pages of the diary for 1862. It seems 
worth while to present this in full. 

Uniform Hat, complete ."; $1 . 88 

Forage cap .63 

Ocat, (musicians) 7. Oi9 

" Private s 6.71 

Jackets . 



45 New York City, June 2, 1861. (Letter begun May 30th.) 
4G Pensacola, Fla., August 3, 1862. 

47 Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Hardee, Rifle and Light Infantry 
Tactics, 1:33 et seq. (Philadelphia, 1855, Lippincott, Grambo & Co.) 

48 Donaldsonville, La., July 18, 1863. 



ORGANIZATION 83 

Trowsers, Sergeants $3.28 

Corp 2.15 

Privates 3.05 

Sash 2.63 

Flannel sack 2.15 

" lined 2.63 

Flannel Shirts .88 

Drawers 1 . 94 

Stockings per Pr .26 

Great-coats 7.20 

Blankets 2.95 

Knapsacks & Straps 2.57 

Haversacks .48 

Canteens .34 

straps .14 

Knit wool jackets, used for sacks 2.50 

Bed sacks, single 1.06 

" " double 1.13 

Axe, helve & sling 6-6, 12, 61 1.49 

Hatchet, helve & sling 27, 03, 35 .65 

Spade 56, Pick axe & helve 61 1.25 

Camp Kettle .48 

Mess Pan .17 

Iron Pot 1 . 14 

Garrison flag 40 . 25 

Storm " 15.75 

Recruiting " 5.67 

Guidon 9.25 

Camp color 2.28 

National Color, Arty & Inf 50 . 00 

Regimental " " " 69.17 

Wall Tent, etc 32.17 

Sibley Tent, etc 48 . 61 

" " stove 3.88 

Hospital tent 80.00 

" complete 111.70 

Servants tent . 11.77 



84 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

" List of Prices of Clothing furnished hy the State 
of New York in 1861. 1862." 

Infantry overcoat $18 . 63 



jacket 


5.43 


trousers 


3.50 


fatigue cap 


85 


Pr. Shoes, pegged 


1.20 


" " sewed 


1.98 


" drawers 


57 


" socks 


24 


" shirt 


88 


" blanket 


1.95 



The officer s uniform and equipment was a heavy expense 
to a man going into the service. " I went down town on Fri 
day and ordered my uniform, my coat to h done by Wednesday, 
and pants as soon as style is determined. My coat with trim 
mings will cost me $32.00 and whole rig to go out of the state 
over $100.00 at least a month s pay." 49 " My military out 
fit startles me, it costs so much. Coat, vest, pants, and over 
coat cost $70.00. Sword, belt, sash, and epaulets about $50.00 
more." 50 Promotion entailed new expenses in the purchase of 
another sword, new shoulder straps and bugle. 51 As a field 
officer, Major Babcock likewise had to buy a heavy pistol and a 
horse at large expense to himself. Fortunately for the purses 
of the officers, the cost of living on Santa Rosa island was moder 
ate except for mess charges, as there was not much necessity for 
wearing full uniform, and the men could save on clothing 
expenses. " Our clothing here will cost less than near Washing 
ton, as we wear for fatigue purposes, articles of privates uniform 
clothing. I am wearing a comfortable pair of trousers, cost 
$3.03. When my flannel sack is worn out, I can get a blue blouse 



49 Albany Barracks, N. Y., May 5, 1861. 

5G IMd., May 10, 1861. 

5:1 New York City, December 3, 1861. 






ORGANIZATION 85 

such as the regulars wear, for .about $2 or $3. Forage caps 
$0.50 . There being few flatirons here, and less good 
laundresses, starched linen is t nowhere . Paper collars or 
flannel shirt with collar turned down over the vest." Such 
were the usual expenses of an officer. 

PAY 

"You ask what my wages are [as 1 first lieutenant]. I do not 
know yet. I drew for twenty days about $72, out of which was 
to be deducted board and washing to get at my net wages. If 
one knows how to draw it, my wages, (out of which I must find 
[that is, board] myself) would amount to from $108 to $112. 
I shall be able to draw now about at the rate of $102 per month 
for a, month and 18 days to July 1st." 

" W e shall receive no more pay until in September." 53 A 
week later comes the remark, " I am quite out of money now. 
Two cents comprise my pile . . . .1 see that we are to be 
obliged to await Congressional action before we can be paid. 
This will delay us nearly to the last of July, I fear. You would 
laugh, and want to cry almost, to see how utterly needy are our 
officers and men now. I do not think $10.00 could be borrowed 
in the whole camp, and many of them have drawn a month s 
pay ahead. I presume I am as well off as the average of 
them." 54 On July 26th, " We were called in [from picket duty] 
about 4 o clock and received our pay. I received pay for one 
month and 18 days up to 1st July $158.60. Our privates received 
$17.60 each." 55 The paymaster made his next visit to the Third 
regiment October 8th, and paid them for July and August. For 
this period Lieutenant Babcoek drew $221. 66. 56 

This delay in paying the men for their service in the army 
seems to have been chronic throughout the period covered by 
these letters, for there is always a large amount of back pay 
owing to the soldiers, and the payment when made is a big sum. 
" The officers and men on Santa Rosa have from four to six 
months pay due tbem. In three days, there will be five months 
pay due me, nearly or quite $650." 57 The paymaster finally 
arrived on the island the last of February, and disputes begai? 

52 Santa Rosa island, Florida, January 23, 1862. 

53 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 5, 1861. 

54 Ibid., July 11, 1861. 
"Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. 

56 Fort McHenry, October 8, 1861. 

57 Santa Rosa, Fla., January 27, 1862. (Letter begun January 23d.) 



86 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

over the amount due for service. " We have not yet received 
our pay. But we are to have it next Monday [March 3] pay 
to the Reg t for three months and four days, and to me for the 
period of three months less four days. There has been some 
trouble and excitement in the Heg t in relation to pay. The Pay 
master declined to pay the men from date of enlistment up to 
Nov. 26 when mustered as Reg t into the U. S. service. 58 The 
officers met night before last and resolved not to take pay unless 
paid in full up to Jan. 1, 1862. Gen. Arnold anxious to con 
ciliate and please us, agreed to undertake to secure that back 
pay by the time a paymaster comes here again, and to have us 
paid now from Nov. 26 up to March 1. 

" So we held another meeting last night to talk it over again 
and after a stormy discussion, agreed to receive what was offered 
us and go on." 

" I had an interview with the Paymaster on Monday morning, 
about my back pay [for September and October 1861] and 1 
still have to send to Washington. ... I shall receive over $400 
here. Out of this I pay . . . my bills for forage, for our 
mess, for borrowed money etc., and for the Band ! 59 This will 
be about $100." 60 " I have never told you what pay I received^ 
because until I was last paid, I did not know how much custom 
would allow me to receive. My pay proper is $70 per month, 
and four rations which are by law and practice commuted in 
money, making $3@ per month. Then I am allowed two servants 
and three horses, and for each servant that I actually keep in 
service I draw $24.50 per month, and for each horse for forage 
$8.00 per month. Having but one horse, and one servant, (none 
now not a soldier), I did not know as I should get pay but for 
one of each. But I have found that it is the practice, though 
contrary to law, for officers to draw full pay and allowances, 
whether they keep horses or servants or not. So I did the same. 

My pay then per month is $70. 

Four rations at $9 each 3>6. 

Two servants at $24.50 49. 

Forage for three horses 24. 

$179. 



58 The Feventy-fifth Now York was enlisted during October and November 
1861 under its own officers, and commenced drilling, but was not mustered 
into the service of the United States until November 26th. 

59 The officers by special collections among themselves paid the band for 
its services with the regiment. Diary, March 15, 1862. 

60 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 26, 1862. 



ORGANIZATION 87 

Out of this, of course was deducted the forage I draw monthly 
for my horse $8.00 leaving due me per month $171." From 
this time on, very little is said with regard to the matter of pay 
for army service, although plainly the paymaster s arrival was 
expected months before he came. Rhodes in his History of the 
United States says that "A duty of three per cent was laid on 
... . the salaries and pay of officers and persons in the service 
of the United States above an exemption of $600." This was 
the tax act of 1862, approved by the President July 1st,, but 
no mention is made of such a tax in the letters dealing with the 
question. 

DISCIPLINE 

During the period of training in Albany, the officers had great 
difficulty in keeping order and discipline in their commands. 
u Tonight \ve got up from supper and ran out to quell a sup 
posed row. You can hardly realize in what sort of a constant 
turmoil we live here now. There are some 1800 men in all 
sorts of command [s], in all stages of civilization, and in all 
states of content. Hardly a meal passes when there is not some 
sort of a muss at the tables. Dishes are overturned, victuals 
thrown, men refuse to eat, disobey orders, are arrested and sent 
off to the guard house, and all sorts of things done. We live 
in constant expectation of a general fight. Companies are 
stirred up by unprincipled and insubordinate fellows and urged 
to leave, to desert, to break the guard lines, and various wrongs. 
These harangues, emphasized by annoyances and hardships of the 
men are all the time ready to break out into disorder, and there 
has not been a day since I have been here at the Barracks when 
we have not as officers taken our pistols and gone out at some 
alarm to quell a riot. Fortunately they have always been exag 
gerated, and we have not had any real duty of that sort, Last 
night as we turned in at our quarters, the Adjutant General 
came up and quietly cautioned us to sleep with arms so that 
we could at once turn out and hurry to the fray. It is a life 
of exhilaration but not of fear. . . . 

" Last night a soldier attempted to run the guard and desert. 
He started on a run and leaped a fence when his Lieut, who 
had a few moments before borrowed Catlin s pistol, commanded 

61 Santa Rosa island, Florida, March 11, 1862. (Letter begun March 6th.) 
Muster and pay rolls are extant showing this commutation of rations 

and forage. 

62 Vol. IV, p. 59. 



88 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

him to stop several times. The fellow continued to run, when 
the Lieut to frighten him, fired, not intending to hit him. The 
ball struck him in the calf of the leg, inflicting quite a serious 
wound. He came back and was sent to the Hospital where he 
is doing well." 63 

Whenever a large force of soldiers is quartered in or near a 
city, there is always trouble for those in authority from drunken 
ness and vice, and such was the case during the Civil War. 
" Several of the boys got by the guard last night and went out 
and got drunk. They only got in about 10 o clock and were 
drunk this morning at roll call. I got out about half past five, 
just as one Farnham was making some noise in the ranks. I 
ordered him to be quiet, He continued and I told him to go to 
his tent. . . . He refused in an impudent tone. I sent for 
the sergeant of the Guard to arrest him. Meanwhile Farnham 
drew his revolver and said the whole regiment couldn t arrest 
him and threatened to shoot the first man who touched him. I 
had my sword but no pistol. The Sergt. came with two men 
and I directed him to arrest Farnham. The guard approached 
and he cocked his pistol. I was near and sprang and caught 
the weapon and his arm. He tried to turn it inward to shoot 
me but it went off into the ground and I got my hand firmly 
hold of the pistol and held it, he meanwhile trying to turn it 
toward me. I kept the muzzle up, and soon with the aid of 
another man, got it away and he was dragged and pushed away 
to the guard house. He soon got out again, but is now in irons 
in the Guard House. I have preferred charges and he will be 
tried and punished. The penalty of his offense is death or such 
less punishment as the court may see fit to inflict." 

At Camp Hamilton liquor was more difficult to obtain, but 
whiskey was kindly sent from home, and the men had a cele 
bration. 65 A pledge against liquor was signed by the officers 
before they left New York, but it was ineffective. 66 When the 
regiment returned to Baltimore, the reaction came and excesses 
of various kinds were indulged in. " The officers were nearly 
all off drunk, (this morning) with the women of the street. 
. . . Our men were nearly all gone and more were going. . . . 
Col. Alford was drunk." 



63 Albany Barracks, New York, May 7, 1861. 

64 New York City, May 31, 1861. (Letter begun May 30th.) 

65 Camp Hamilton, Va., July 23, 1861. (Letter begun July 21st.) 

66 Ibid., June 15, 1861. (Letter begun June 14th.) 



ORGANIZATION 89 

" Tonight not 200 [men] are in camp. Capt. Catlin, Capt. 
Hulburt, Lt. Cooper and one or two other officers are under 
arrest. A hundred men are drunk, a hundred more are at houses 
of ill-fame, and the balance are everywhere. . . . Ool. Alford 
is very drunk all the time now. We shall not endure him much 
longer. He will be broken of his office I think, soon or resign." 

" For an officer to be put under arrest involves simply a con 
finement to the Camp. He is not to go out of Camp, or wear 
his sword, or visit his superior officers, or make communication 
to them except in writing. Of course he does no duty." 
" Practices obtain here, and they are much the same in all camps 
I presume, which you would think a shame to a civilized people 
and only worthy of a savage or semi-savage period. . . . The 
spectator, the sufferer, and the minister of punishment alike, 
accept it as a part of the play . Men can be seen here, in the 
stocks daily, wearing and working with ball and chain, bucked 
and gagged and even knocked down by the fist or club of the 
Provost Marshall. These are but the daily practices of prisons 
and penitentiaries, where abandoned men must be controlled, and 
have come into use in the 3rd regiment through the utter demoral 
ization of the regiment, and the appointment of an old police 
officer to the office of Provost Marshall." 68 

Lliquor came ashore on Santa Rosa island from the vessels 69 
which brought supplies, and it could likewise be purchased at 
low cost from the quartermaster. Major ]N"ewby of the Sixth 
regiment one afternoon visited several of the vessels off the 
coast, got drunk and came back with the desire of getting in 
a fight. After a quarrel with a sentry he was sent to his quarters, 
from which he fired a pistol into Colonel Wilson s tent, fortu 
nately without injuring anyone. " Col. Wilson ordered him under 
arrest, and soon Gren. Arnold s aid came up and posted a file 
of men around the unfortunate Major s tent. This morning he 
was to be put in close confinement at the Fort, and he may finish 
hia career with Twelve Paces and a fusilade . He will at least 
lose his commission." 70 A court-martial was convened and he 
was sentenced to dismissal. 71 "We had another magnificent 
drunk last night. The Lt. Col. and Adjutant, with Perry, 



67 Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. 
88 Fort MeHenry, October 24, 1861. 

69 Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 20, 1861. 

70 Ibid., March 2, 1862. 

71 Diary, March 8, 1862. 



90 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

(whom you must not take to be a soaker, for he has no gross 
vices,) went down to the Fort, where they had a gay oyster sup 
per and sundry drinks, which produced songs and speeches and 
various exercises. The Adjutant and Lt, Col. got brutally drunk 
and the Adjutant about 2 o clock invited the crowd up to our 
Hd. Qrs, to i take a drink . They all started, but Perry was 
entirely sober, and with the help of one or two sober regulars, 
succeeded in turning them back." 72 These parties occurred 
quite often on the island, and the same congenial group was 
usually present. 

To Major Babcock as provost marshal and military governor 
of Pensacola fell the duty of keeping law and order in the city. 
" My duties include granting and refusing passes to fish, to leave 
town, to live in town, permits to land groceries or liquors, etc., 
investigations after spies, disorderly and dangerous persons, 
examination of property of rebels and taking it for government 
use, including storehouses, bakeries, houses, hospitals, furniture, 
rooms, lumber, etc. I have been all over the city and inside 
half the houses. . . . I go everywhere unarmed and without 
opposition by the virtue of the little words Provost Marshal/ 
but of course I try to be civil to everybody. My duties detach 
me from the Regt, . . . In addition to what I mentioned, I 
have to arrest all soldiers out without a pass, search houses 
suspected of selling liquors, superintend a night patrol, and gen 
erally, aid the city authorities." 73 " You can hardly realize 
what a state of society there is here. I suppose there is not a 
chaste black woman, or mulatto, or quadroon, or octaroon, or 
even a poor but decent looking white woman in the city. With 
all the raving passions of these soldiers, brutal enough for any 
thing, there has not yet been a complaint of a rape. ... If 
you should come into Pensacola on a Sunday, or at parades, you 
would be struck with the gay costumes of the black belles, but 
the new dresses, $15, $20, $30, have all been bought with the 
money of soldiers, and the dresses were brought here by the army 
sutlers." 74 

Long service seems to have dulled the edge of the discipline 
for which the Seventy-fifth had been noted, and a good deal of 
work was necessary by the latter part of 1864 to restore the regi- 

72 Santa Eosa island, Florida, March 16, 1862. (Letter begun March 
13th.) 

73 Pensacola, Fla., May 20, 1862. 
Ibid., July 7, 1862. 



ORGANIZATION 91 

ment to its former standard of training. " When we left Wash 
ington our men seemed to have forgotten all discipline. They 
ran out of the ranks everywhere to get water, or fruit, or to 
visit a house and I was constantly vexed and tired. I began to 
reform it, to keep up stragglers, to admonish, scold and punish, 
and to require all to do their duty. The work was hard, but 
encouraging in results, and we new get on passably well, better, 
I think, than any other Regt. of our brigade." 

" The troops of the 6th and 8th Corps straggle fearfully, 
by squads and not by individuals. In one case, it is said, that 
: whole regiment dropped out of the column and halted for the 
night, swearing that they wouldn t march any farther." 75 

These were the troops, then, that Colonel Babcock came in 
contact with, carrying their heavy equipment on long marches, 
for small pay, spurred on by patriotism and loyalty to the cause 
they served, worn out and half mutinous at times but presenting 
formidable bodies of well trained men in a battle. 



75 Xcar Charlestown, Va., August 20, 1864. 



CHAPTER VII 

KECEEATION AND MAIL 

RECREATION 

Although the routine of camp was severe and the hours for 
drill and work were long and tedious, there was some time left 
for recreation, and the men made the most of it, with the scanty 
means at their disposal. "As I look out of our window to the 
West. ... I see on the green sward, a hundred men laughing, 
talking, playing ball, cards and leap-frog, drilling and doing 
a hundred things for this or that purpose of pleasure or profit." 1 
In the evening, the regimental bands played on the parade 
grounds for an hour or so in fine weather, making the men at 
the front think of their friends at home. 2 

In a letter dated July 4, 1861, Lieutenant Babcock tells of the 
celebration of the Fourth of July, in Camp Hamilton, Virginia. 
" There was a good deal of frolic last night in camp, and this 
morning we were awakened at sunrise by the firing of the 
national salute of 34 guns, which was answered by a salute from 
a rebel battery opposite consisting of eleven guns for the eleven 
Confederate states. . . . Our boys in nearly all of the companies, 
raised the i red, white, and blue over their quarters this fore 
noon, and have been indulging more or less freely in ale and 
whiskey and feel remarkably well. In one street they are sing 
ing the Star Spangled Banner ? , in another a sentimental song, 
in some they are telling stories, and others, two or three at 
least, I hear something that reminds me that they are thinking 
of home. . . . We lounged about all the forenoon and most 
of the afternoon ! " 3 

When accidents occurred, the men accepted them in good 
humor, as the spice of life. "We have just had a tremendous 
shower and the Camp is well flooded. ... In one of our 
streets the boys were flooded out and after the shower were out 
naked in the rain water spattering each other. There was a 
deal of gay laughter in the camp." 4 When the Third regiment 
arrived on its new camp grounds at Baltimore, the troops already 

1 Albany Barracks, N. Y., May 5, 1861. 

2 Camp Hamilton, Virginia, June 18, 1861. IUd., June 20, 1861. 

3 Camp Hamilton, Virginia, Julv 4, 1861. 

id., July 20, 1861. 



EECREATION AND MAIL 93 

there did their ; best to make it pleasant for them. " The camp 
of the 8th Mass. Regt. was near us, and their boys came flocking 
into our camp with pork, beans, cakes, bread and liquor of all 
sorts for our weary fellows, and in a moment they were all 
brothers." On their departure, their term of service as soldiers 
being up July 30, 1861, " They exchanged many tokens with 
us. Homans, the immortal engineer, gave one of our boys an 
elegant gutta percha canteen for an old tin one which had been 
at Bethel. Some exchanged buttons, and you will see our boys 
with one Mass. State button on< their jackets, while their jackets 
have one Excelsior button. Some swapped caps. They gave 
us kittles, [i. e. kettles] knives and forks, spoons, dishes and all 
sorts of such things. 77 

On Santa Rosa island there was apparently more time for 
recreation, since fewer hours were devoted to drill. 7 There was 
a dearth of books and reading matter, and the men devoured 
such as could be obtained. 8 The officers often went off for horse 
back rides down the island, singly or in groups. 9 " I was busy 
during the forenoon, and after dinner, the Col., Quarter Master 
and myself set off for a ride down the island. We went down 
some five or six miles on the beach .and back again. It is a 
terribly dreary place. Down two or three miles, a few pine 
trees afford a little shade and make it resemble some pine bar 
rens at home; but beyond that, as far as eye can reach, it is 
a mere ridge of white sand, covered with a little wild grass and 
some low bushes." 10 

" I am going off on a sort of picnic party or Scout tomor 
row down the Island. Capts. MacDougall of A , Dwight of 

5 War of the Rebellion: Official Records, series I, II: 760. 

6 Baltimore, Md., July 29, 1861. 

7 It is possible, also, that as Major Babcock was a field officer, and there 
fore did not have to put in so much time in actual drilling as when he 
was a company officer, he does not say as much about the long drill periods. 
Later on, however, he does speak particularly of the fact that drills are 
to commence in earnest, preparatory to an attack on Pensacola. 

8 Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 26, 1861. 

9 "After the Review, the Qr. Master [Carpenter] and myself took our daily 
ride at least the ride we take every day when I have not worked Fred 
too much, up to the Hospital, thence across to the Bay, by the Spanish 
Fort, thence down the hard sand around Fort Pickens and the batteries 
a most delightful ride, and an interesting one too, for it takes one between 
the iron teeth of the rebels and our own and includes everything of interest 
here." Santa Rosa island, Florida, April 30. 1862. (Letter begun April 
25th.) 

10 Santa Rosa island, Florida, January 4, 1861 [i. e. 1862]. (Letter 
begun January 3d.) 



94 LETTERS OP GENERAL BABCOCK 

D and Fitch of i F companies are the originators of the 
excursion and invited me. We take fish lines, oyster rakes, pro 
visions, liquids, and muskets, prepared for bivouac, for hunting, 
for fishing and for war. We go in a whalebcat and take four 
soldiers to row for us. We expect to start early and go down 
the island some 1-2- to 15 miles where are oyster beds, in the 
waters, and hunting grounds on land. We shall be gone all day. 
Should some Secesh scouting party surprise or overpower us, 
the rest of this letter will probably be dated from Montgomery 
jail or some such delectable quarters." n They spent the day 
very pleasantly, landing frequently to look for signs of the 
enemy and game but found 1 neither. Sighting a Confederate 
schooner on the other side of the island, they formed the wild 
plan of attempting to capture it, but finally gave up the idea on 
account of the difficulty of dragging the whaleboat across the 
island. On their way home from this trip occurred the wild 
alarm of the pickets which has been narrated above. 12 

Cards and a congenial group helped to occupy the long even 
ings very pleasantly. " Last night after tea I rode up to the 
hospital and found the doctors of the 6th Regt. Dr. Pease and 
Dr. Lynch, in our doctors tent, ready to play a game of whist. 
Dr. Powers 13 was suddenly taken quite ill and I sat down to 
make up the rubber. We had a very nice game and played till 
after nine o clock." " We have a custom in camp here which 
will amuse you. It is intended as a sort of joke on our priva 
tions here. If one accidentally mentions some luxury w y hich, 
easily obtainable at home, is inaccessible here, he is instantly 
tried, convicted, and fined a muggins/ or a i big muggins, in 
proportion to the enormity of the offense. A muggins is a 
bottle of whisky, and a big muggins is a gallon jug full of 
the same. For instance one tantalizingly says, Now how would 
you like to drop into the Astor House for a superb dinner and 
a glass of iced champagne ? or How would you like to " drop 
around " this lovely moonlight night and spend the evening with 
" her" ? or How would you like a lodge in some vast widow s 
nest ? I was fined day before yesterday for looking down by 
my side as I started to rise from the table and saying in my 



11 Santa Rosa island, Florida, January 23, 1862. 

12 See section on Picket and Guard Duty, chapter 4. 

13 Doctor Powers was assistant surgeon of the Seventy-fifth New York. 

14 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 5, 1862. (Letter begun January 
31st.) 



RECREATION AND MAIL 95 

most feminine tones, Won t you please to get off from my 
frock? " 15 

Time hung heavy on the hands of the officers and men who 
were in the trenches and positions before Port Hudson during 
the siege. " The other day we tried hard to induce the rebs to 
talk to us, but after some little bantering, they seem to have 
been stopped by their officers. Our boys invited them to come 
over and get some coffee and hard tack , to get a good clean 
meal, etc., but they wouldn t say a word. On the day pf the 
armistice they were very talkative and showed a desire to become 
acquainted." As the siege continued, however, the restrictions 
were lessened somewhat. " Our troops on the left are very 
near and on very amicable terms with them. It is related that 
one of our night pickets crawling cautiously towards his post 
in front, came to a log behind which lay a Confederate picket. 
Halt ! says Gonf ed. Don t come any farther, Yank ! My 
orders are to fire on you if you come over this log ! All right ! 
says the Yankee, my orders are to fire on you if you come over 
this log. And so the two sat down and talked amicably all 
night. They get down to the river together to fill canteens, and 
whenever ordered to fire on each other they call out Get down 
out of sight there, I m going to fire now ! The rebs however, 
fire on the negroes on all occasions, and one of them called out 
to one of our soldiers near a working party the other day t Hello ! 
Yank, Get down there. I want to shoot that d n nigger! 
Our troops were under marching orders a number of days with 
two days rations. The rebs called to our men and wanted to 
knew if those two days rations weren t musty ? They also 
inquired how Banks Volunteer Thousand Storming Party come 
on, and intimated the opinion that Banks didn t know how to 
get up an assault." 17 

As the men lounged around the camp fire after a long day s 
march, they discussed various matters of interest, " The Major 
and the Chaplain are near by in a neighboring tent, discussing 
Auburn days. 18 The crazy drummer boys are also within ear 
shot, telling marvellous and not over nice stories. Some of the 
men are singing psalms, some are sitting around their fires 

15 Ibid., April 17, ISO 2. (Letter bemm April 16th.) 

16 Near Port Hudson, La., June 7, 1863. 

17 Port Hudson, La., July 1, 1863. 

18 Major Thurber and Chaplain J. E. Worth. The Seventy-fifth had been 
organized in Auburn, N. Y. 



96 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

laughing and joking as if there were never any hard marches, 

or short rations." w 

i. j -^-i- 

Amusements of these sorts helped to keep men and officers 
contented with their lot as soldiers by occupying the time when 
they might otherwise be thinking about their hardships and 
becoming sullen and mutinous. 

MAIL 

Letters and papers from home helped to break the monotony 
and lessen the hardship of the soldier s life in the field. Irregu 
lar as the mails usually were, the men eagerly waited for them, 
to learn news of operations in other parts of the country, and of 
the friends at home. At Hampton, Va,, " Our mail facilities 
are few. You will not hear from us oftener than once a week, 
and will get as much news by the papers as I can write. 7 w A 
carrier distributed the mails from a central point for the vari 
ous companies. 21 

At Santa Rosa island, the delivery of the mail was a more dif 
ficult matter still, for only a comparatively small force was sta 
tioned there, and the island was away from the usual route of 
the steamers. The delays were many and the arrival of mail 
boats irregular. " You do not know what a dearth of news is 
here, and how much good even two daily papers per week (half 
a month old at that) would do me. . . . Mail them every day 
or two, as the mail may be made up in !N". Y. any day for Ft. 
Pickens, Vessels are leaving every day or two for some point 
this way, and the Havana steamers leave our mails at Key West 
whence we get them by various craft." 22 " We got orders yes 
terday quite suddenly, to send our letters to the Fort, as the 
Connecticut was hourly expected to touch here for a mail on 
her way to Key West. So I hurriedly closed up my long letter 
to you and sent it down [to the Fort]. I hear that she touched 
and got our mail in the night last night, and suppose my letter 
is on the way to your hands." M 

19 Near Berryville, Va., September 11, 1864. 

It is rather sad to think that only 8 days later, a large number of these 
men were lyinig dead on the battlefield of Winchester, for the Seventy-fifth 
suffered very heavy losses in that battle, and that the writer of these letters 
was in the Winchester Hospital mortally wounded. 

20 Hampton, Va., June 6, 1861. 

21 Camp Hamilton, Virginia, June 14, 186*1. 

22 Santa Rosa island, Florida, January 5, 1862. (Letter begun Janu 
ary 3d.) 

23 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 6, 1862. 



RECREATION AND MAIL 97 

The mail bags all had to be landed through the surf and 
breakers, with considerable danger. " Our little mail schooner 
i The Pickering has just come in sight and a boat is already 
dancing over the breakers and through the surf out to board 
her for our letters and papers. It blows and rains like every 
thing and I don t know as we shall get anything tonight, but if 
we don t we shall hardly go to bed content. 

[Sunday morning] " Our hopes of a mail last night were all 
dashed to pieces just after dark by the return of our boat with 
information that the sail which we supposed to be our mail 
schooner was a fruit schooner from Havana, that she brought no 
mail and said there w T as no news. ... I hear today that our 
little mail schooner The Pickering has been lost at sea, 6r 
at least has not been heard from since she left here with our 
mail some three weeks ago. We sent a large mail by her, if 
I am not mistaken, which will be left in mid-ocean while our 
friends wonder why we do not write. This will interfere with 
the regularity of our mails, and explains why we have not had 
an arrival before. Such I suppose will be our luck often while 
on this out-of-the-way place." 24 " You do not know . . . what 
it is to see a mail already forty days old beating up towards the 
shore on which you are awaiting it, for a long ten hours, now 
driven back by the wind, now steering apparently away and now 
coming almost in again, struggling as if for dear life to get up 
to anchorage, when you have nothing to do but look on and 
tremble for the changes that have befallen the dear ones at home 
in this long silence. 

" Yesterday morning before we were up we heard the cry 
Sail Ho ! and as we were crazy for news we were soon out and 
dressed to watch what might be in the offing for us. ... A 
little sharp peering through the mist discovered to us a brigan- 
tine six or seven miles away, trying to beat up against a head 
wind. We had been so many times disappointed that we did 
not feel at all sanguine that she had mail on board of her, and 
yet we hardly took our eyes off from her until it was near noon 
when she dropped anchor. A boat soon, put off from her and 
steered for the shore. The lookouts, the sandhills and the beach 
were all filled with anxious officers and soldiers and the ramparts 
of Pickens had a crowd of watchers. We at headquarters were 

24 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 8, 1862. (Letter begun Febru 
ary 6th.) 

4 



98 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

all on the lookout, with glasses, and what with fear and hopo 
and anxiety lest the surf which was very rough and angry should 
dash our little messenger to pieces, it was a nervous season. At 
last, however, the boat touched the sand and we saw them throw 
ing out bags on the sand. Soon two mule carts went up and 
loaded up with the mail. It had come ! " 25 The letters received 
carried dates up to January 27th, and arrived February 16th. 
A week later another vessel arrived, bringing letters dated to 
February 4th. 26 

" We hear now that a mail will leave here next Tuesday 
March 4th, and of course our letters will reach N. Y. about the 
14th or 15th of the month. You will perhaps have an idea, 
got in the legitimate way, how long our negligent Uncle Sam 
left us to wait for our last mail." 27 On Thursday May 8th, Major 
Babcock again voices the complaint over delay in getting mail 
at Santa Rosa island. " Our latest limits of news are now thirty 
days old, and two or three states may have been, probably have 
been, lost or won to the good cause since we heard a word. 7 
Friday evening May 9th, " We are all getting cross and testy 
at the delay of the mail from New York and the news by steamer 
from New Orleans. The probabilities now are that the Ehocle 
Island which we have expected back for a week or more now, 
to take our letters to N". Y. has gone direct from the Mississippi 
squadron home, either with a call for reinforcements or with 
dispatches of success to our arms there. Even the Philadelphia 
which we expect hourly, may have been detained and diverted 
to the service of the more important operations in Va. and 
our mails reach us still by some lucky accident. Well if the 
good cause really needs our mail facilities, satisfy us of it and 
we would go without them as cheerfully as any living bodies." 

In the course of the Teche campaign mail was brought by 
steamer to the base at Brashear City, and then came up either 
with the supply trains or by men detailed to go down after it. 
a I sent Sergt. Fish down for mails and some other matters with 
orders to return as soon as he can." 29 

" I hear that there is some danger of the capture of this mail, 
by guerillas on the road, but I hope none of my letters will get 

25 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 17, 1802. (Letter begun Febru 
ary 6th.) 
lUd., February 22, 1862. (Letter begun February 6th.) 

27 Hid,, February 26, 1862. 

28 Santa Rosa island, Florida, May 9, 1862. (Letter begun May 5th.) 
29 0pelousas, La., April 23, 1863. 



RECREATION AND MAIL 99 

into print in the C. S. A." 30 The letters written during this 
period evidently were not sent by United States mail, as they 
carry no stamp or cancellation mark, and usually bear the inscrip 
tion, "By the kindness of - ." " Sergt. Draper goes down 
in the morning. ... I send my letter by him. 7 31 

When the Seventy-fifth was transferred to the Army of the 
Potomac in 1864, however, opportunities for getting letters and 
papers containing news of operations in other parts of the coun 
try, were greatly increased. In the camp at (Dennallytown, 
D. 0., " We get a mail every day now, and have the Washing 
ton papers early in the morning, so that we keep the run of the 
news. 7 As the army advanced down the Shenandoah valley, 
the letters were delayed a little, but the newspapers arrived 
early. " We get the Baltimore & Phil a papers here by 3 P. M. 
and hear the news earlier than you do in Williamson or would 
in Owego [Xew York]. Our mails, as yet, are irregular, but we 
hope soon to get them into order." " The mail is said to be 
going suddenly and I must close. We have no forewarnings of 
arrival or departures of mail, but must scramble as we can." 

Facilities for handling the mail for the soldiers, then, were 
poor, and the delivery to the various points was irregular, but 
the arrival of the long-expected letters formed a pleasant break 
in the dailv life of the soldier. 



31 /fctrf., April 25. 1863. 
!2 Termallytown, D. C., August 4, 1864. 
33 Hallto\vn, Va., August 23, 1864. 

3 *.Near Berryville, Va., September 10, 1804. (Letter begun Septem 
ber 9th.) 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE " CONTRABAND " QUESTION 

\Yhat to do with the negroes who escaped from their owners 
and fled to the Union lines was a perplexing question to be set 
tled up to the time when President Lincoln issued his Emanci 
pation Proclamation, January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in the 
rebellious states, by virtue of his authority as a military com 
mander. Feeling had been growing more bitter in the North 
over the slavery question during the years following 1850, and 
the war was heralded as a means of doing away with that hated 
institution. " I received one [letter] . . . from Prof. Brockett 
who writes me rather prosily, and will not be 1 content with this 
war unless it instantly abolishes slavery. ... I am sure this 
slavery question will have a solution in God s own good time, 
and that this war will make a great change towards emancipa 
tion, but it will not, of itself, and ought not to, as I think, abol 
ish slavery. 

" In my opinion the immediate physical comfort of the slave, 
on the whole, would not be promoted by emancipation, and his 
intellectual and moral condition could hardly stand the test of 
so sudden and great a change. I think the change will be great, 
but so gradual as not to create any great convulsions." l From 
the plantation of a Colonel Jones near Hampton, Va., a num 
ber of slaves came to the camp of the Union army, having 
escaped from their master when he moved his possessions 
farther south upon the approach of the troops. They " are about 
the camps as servants and when the army goes, they will go 
by some means." 2 

Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa island, however, was the point 
to which the negroes fled after the outbreak of the war, from all 
surrounding districts, as it was for some time the only point in 
the extreme South which was held by federal troops, and where 
they could be safe. " There is a i contraband here who came 
over from the rebels a month or so since, who makes a good deal 
of fun for us, one Bony by name. He was in our camp last 
night and gave in his dramatic and somewhat plaintive style, 
an account of his life and adventures. He gave a most graphic 

1 Camp Hamilton, Virginia, June 30, 1861. (Letter begun June 28th.) 

2 7&id., July 20, 1861. 



THE "CONTRABAND" QUESTION /; \- 101 

account of his hard work for his master and how he got away. 
He says he worked night and day till his bar foot was all bar / 
and he went to his Master and said, * Massa, my foot is bar : 
give me pair o shoes. His master replied, ( I haint got no 
shoes Bony. I haint got no money. Massa Linkums got all de 
money. He smashed all de banks V we got no money. You 
must take slip cow-hide and put strings in it and tie it 011 your 
feet. He says his master told him, Massa Linkum wanted to 
sell all de darkies away in a foreign country ." 

" The negro question in this Department continues to be 
solved as when I wrote before without fuss or nonsense. Xegroes 
who come over to us from the rebels, as they look so much like 
men and women, are supposed to be in truth such. The women 
and children are sent to Xew York, where of course it is cruelly 
cold, but where bomb shells do not make it too hot. The men 
being willing to work are enrolled as Uncle Sam s laborers, paid 
$15 per month and one ration per day. They are boatmen, 
teamsters, and ordinary hands, and do more work than any 
other men in the island. I do not think the l express sanction of 
the government would be deemed necessary here before a spell 
ing book would be k presented to ail intelligent negro , as Jenkins 
says was the case at Port Royal. Common sense is considered 
handy to have in managing this couiitraband business, and 
I do not see but what it works very well." 

u Many of the poor fellows run the greatest risk and endure 
the greatest hardships in escaping, and from the frequent shots 
and alarms on the rebel lines nearest us, I presume some are 
shot in the attempt and some are frightened back. Bony, who 
is quite a character and a great favorite with us, says that as 
he paddled by the sentry, just as he was nearly out of sight he 
heard Who % oo> dnr J . An- 1 thoii, I aT-t down in de boat on 
my knees and I say noffin, Den I hear em call, " Sargent de 
guard! Sargent de guard!" and 7 prayed to God (solemnly) 
dat if I get shot I fall in de bay and de sharks eat me up, so 
dey think I get away I " 4 

The capture of Pensacola by the Union troops May 10, 1862, 
made it much easier for the slaves to gain their freedom by tak 
ing refuge within the Federal lines. To the provost marshal fell 
1 fluty of deciding what should be done with these refugee?. 

3 Santa Rosa island, Florida, December 29, 1861. (Letter begun Decem 
ber 26th.) 

4 W. Babcock to Harry Wells (*>}, Santa Rosa island, Florida, March 13, 
1862. 



102 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

" Negroes are now coming in from the country above, three 
on Thursday, one on Friday , and two today [Saturday]. One 
of them, Robert/ (He says they call him i Coon at home, a 
real slave genius, shrewd, cunning, clownish, black, and probably 
dishonest,) came in yesterday and told me his story, his name, 
age. master, business, route here etc. He belonged to one James 
Abercrombie 40 miles up the Escambia river, didn t know how 
old he was, was raised in Old Hancock in -Georgia, had no 
father, brothers nor sisters, used to have a mother and one 
brother in Old Hancock, but hadn t heard from them in eight 
years, had heard of e de Yankees 1 ? and come down to see . I 
asked him a good many questions which he answered with con 
stant, grimaces which kept us all in a roar of laughter, but 
finally I put the question, Have you got a wife ? The poor 
fellow s face took a sad look in an instant which touched us all. 
His countenance fell as he said Yes, Massa, i Where is she? 
She started with me, sa. t Where is she now ? i .De dogs 
ketched her, massa. By many questions extorting from the 
unwilling boy, the brief, pathetic answers, I learned that they 
started together. He wanted to come down first and see , but 
she, the faithful, loving wife, insisted on sharing his fate, and 
just before the horn blew for them all to be locked up for sleep, 
they set out with bundles in hand, and ran. They were soon 
missed, the dogs were set on their track, and soon overtook them. 
He stopped first, the dogs passed him, and seized her. He fol 
lowed his brute instincts and ran the other way. How she fared 
and where she is, he knows not. He told this tale with such 
reticence, such a shrinking from details and such a quiet horror 
at it all, that I recognized my own kinship to his black face and 
distorted features. Terrible inhumanities were practiced on this 
place, and most monstrous indecencies which I will not disgust 
you by describing. We send these fugitives all to Pickens, where 
they are enrolled in the Qr. M. Dep t. fed and paid as well as 
worked. They work well and are proud of Uncle Sam s livery. 
Those who escaped to Pickens months ago now get leave to come 
here in good clothes with money in their pockets (the very gold 
and not confederate shinplasters) and form a sort of colored 
aristocracy, buying corn beer, strolling freely about and doing 
much flirtation with the colored girls." B 

, Fla., Saturday, May 31, 1S62. (Letter begun May 25th.) 



THE "CONTRABAND" QUESTION 103 

"A few slaves still remain here in Pensacola, who ought to 
l>c free. I cannot free them. If they run away to Fort Pickens 
we do not leturn them. If they leave their masters here, we do 
not interfere and the city authorities may arrest and return 
them. One came to me whom the agent of his master wanted 
to hire out to one Laurence. lie was not disposed .to work for 
nothing any more. But I told him I couldn t help him, and if 
he didn t stop bothering me I would send him to Fort Pickens. 
/ icisli you would Massa! said he with so much unction that 
I was quite disconcerted by the effect of my threat. I turned 
on my heel to go to breakfast but Carpenter lingered a minute, 
and I saw a significant smile on the boy s face as Carpenter said 
in a low tone, Don t you know the way to Fort Pickens? 
We went to our meal and I have not seen the boy since, nor 
heard of him. My official duties bind me not to advise any 
slave to run away, but in proper cases I find my conscience pliant 
enough to inform other officers what slaves might as well go to 
Fort Pickens and be free!" The negroes believed that the 
ad veil t of the federal troops spelled freedom for them in the 
eity proper, and some of them refused to work any longer as 
slaves. Shelter was often given to fugitives from the city itself, 
:nid although legally there was nothing to prevent the city 
authorities or the owners from going into the army camp and 
trying to persuade the slaves to return, practically they were safe, 
since the soldiers would not have permitted any use of force to 
recover the runaway negroes. 7 

" Four black men, slaves of Capt. Harrison upon the Black- 
water came down here this morning. In my examination I 
asked the leader the stereotyped question what he came down 
for \ We came down h<ere to hunt a friend sa. Pears like our 
friends are scarce up dare! Sometime ago Mr. Hulburt was 
examining one and asked him the same question. What he came 
dewn here for? Cause I likes your laws down here better n 
I do de laws in Alabama/ Why ? What s the difference between 
our laws and the laws of Alabama? said Mr Hulburt, Oh, 
dey gives us more to eat down here ! replied the discriminative 
darkey. This expression To hunt a friend is not uncommon 
with them given as a reason for coming down here, and it is 

Pensacola, Fla., June 13, 1862. (Letter begun June 9th.) 
* Ibid., May 20, 1862. 



104 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

always used with a sort of pathos that makes it a pleading appeal 
to a friend. 

" I told the four who came in this morning that we were 
i iii sing a battalion of black men to tight for us and asked them 
to join. The leader said he could say nothing agin that and 
the others asquiesced, but finally one of them thought he 
shouldn t want to fight the people of Florida." 

" My theory, for a long time has been that we should treat 
the negro who comes to us as we would any other assistance 
take it and apply it to the case in hand according to the rules 
of common sense. Wlherever there is an army, there is a. great 
deal of fatigue work to do, cutting roads, building bridges, driv 
ing teams, throwing up earth works, boating, etc., etc. For all 
this work, the black refugees who come within our line need 
no education or drill. Organize them into companies, regiments, 
and brigades, enroll them, pay them fair wages, and make them 
work. This relieves the soldier from all but strictly military 
duties, and his whole time and strength are available for war. 
This arrangement shocks no prejudices, wrongs no man, makes 
an economical division of labor, and employs every resource." 

In order to recapture as many of the fugitives as possible, 
the planters below New Orleans kept a patrol on duty, and 
clashes occurred between the Union outposts and this guard when 
negroes were pursued to the city. In one instance the leader 
of this force had the effrontery to come into the city and demand 
that the fugitives be given to him, but he was immediately seized 
by order of General Butler, and punished. 1(> 

Such was the method of dealing with the fugitive slave or 
contraband question during 1861 and 1802. Some of the men 
were used in actual military operations (as shown in a preced 
ing section) through the formation of negro regiments, but the 
usual employment for them was the manual labor of the camp, 
for which they were best suited. 

Pensacola, Florida, July 29, 1802. (Letter begun July 23.) 
*JMfl.. July 21, 1862. (Letter begun July 12.) 
10 X<>\v Orleans, La., Feptember 15, 1S62. 



CHAPTER IX 

FEELING CONCERNING THE WAR 

It would not be fitting to conclude this study of camp life 
in the Union armies during the Civil War, without devoting 
some attention to the expression of the feeling of the soldiers 
themselves toward the struggle in which they were engaged. 
Historians apparently believe that the war between the North 
and the South was inevitable, and that it might have broken out 
almost any time after 1850. The interests of the two sections 
were far apart, and each was hostile to any act which would 
strengthen the other s position. The firing on Fort. Sumter, April 
12, 1861, marked the culmination of this feeling, and the par- 
tizans of each side rushed into arms in a blaze of patriotism. 
" Every republican thanked God that the beginning of the end 
had come, and democrats looked glum." The ministers in the 
pulpits preached sermons in favor of the war and volunteers 
came fast. " The whole town is very much excited, all of the 
ministers have come out strongly Elder Brigham said that 
if there were not enough without. he would volunteer, and 
head his flock, deacons and all. The rest of the ministers said 
the same." 

Lieutenant Babcock himself had some appreciation of the 
seriousness of the war thus begun, 3 but did not believe that it 
would last very long. 4 The troops at Camp Hamilton were 
anxious to get into battle, for fear that they would not get an 
opportunity to fight. " If a few more successes like that of Gen. 
McClelland [sic] are obtained, the back of this rebellion is broken 
and we shall be engaged in our usual peaceful avocations by the 
1st of April next as if there had been no war. I trust General 
Butler s ambition will not allow him t<> remain quiet even if Ave 
have to move short-handed. The truth is, we have not force 
enough here for any steady advance unless the enemy run at 
the sight of us which is not probable since the Great Bethel 
affair." 5 The months dragged on, however, and the war seemed 
to be no nearer its end. Each new victorv of a Northern army 



1 Diary, April 13. 1861. 

2 Willis G. Baboock to Willoughby Babcock, Homer, X. Y., April 23, 1861. 

3 Albany Barracks, May 8, 1881. 

4 Camp "Hamilton, Virginia, June 17, 1861. (Letter begun June 16th.) 
* IIM.. July 18, 1861. 

[105] 



106 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

aroused fresh hopes that the struggle would end very shortly, 
only to be crushed by a Union defeat. " I really expect to see 
you ere the year is over, and cannot bring myself to anticipate 
a longer absence, though many of our officers think we shall not 
be homo within our three yePrs V 

" We get a Pensacola paper by our deserters 7 which gives an 
account of a decisive victory by our troops in Tennessee. If 
true, as we hope, it is very important and two or three such 
victories would set our cause far ahead, and bring us some 
months nearer our wives and friends. We cannot hope to leave 
the South until the war is fairly over, and shall, I fear be among 
the last troops discharged. It will be a great work even to trans 
port home 600,000 soldiers and many men must wait." 8 " The 
news today is glorious. It looks more like success. If vigor 
ously carried on the war will approach the beginning of the end 
on the 1st of April. I shall be very glad if the condition of 
things shall be such as to allow me to resign by the 1st of 
August." 9 

Great confidence was felt in the ability of General M:cClellan 
to drive home his attack against Richmond and crush the Army 
of Virginia. If the southern capital was surrendered to the 
Union armies, the war would be practically over. 10 His long 
delay after all things were apparently in readiness caused the 
feeling to grow that he was not a man who could carry the opera 
tions to a successful conclusion. 11 Finally news came of the 
defeat before Richmond, after several days of conflicting rumors. 
" We have also a X. Y. Times of the 3rd of July, and enough seems 
to have become certain to assure us that the energy and military 
science of the South have proved superior to ours now as gen 
erally heretofore. The damnable taint of money and political 
influence is upon the army, and there is no such earnest working 
among the commanding officers as the rebels have done. One 
of the commonest matters of strategy is to have superior num 
bers at the point where serious wOTk is possible, but McClellan 
has dallied eleven months away in Virginia, has had every wish 

6 This letter was written in February 1862 from Santa Rosa island. 

7 These deserters came from the Confederate army on the other side of 
the channel. 

8 Santa Rosa island, Florida, February 8, 1862. (Letter begun Febru 
ary 6th.) 

9 Ibid., February 28, 1862. (Letter begun February 26th.) 

10 /6id., March 13, 1862. 

11 Ibid., March 31, 1862. (Letter begun March 24th.) 



FEELING CONCERNING THE WAR 107 

and request gratified, has had wonderful means at his disposal, 
and yet has allowed the enemy to put two men to his one on the 
point of attack and thus beat him when defeat was as ruinous 
as it was unnecessary. We knew here, and he had the means of 
knowing, that the Army of the "South dispersed at Corinth, was 
being sent to ^Richmond. He should have known, as a military 
man, the meaning of Jackson s diversion. He should have 
known the swamps of Chickahominy, and their strategic uses and 
difficulties. He should have known, very nearly, the forces 
around Richmond. It seems he knew nothing. All attempts to 
shift the blame from him to the President or to Secretary 
Stanton, are unjust, for there is everywhere the best evidence 
rhut he has had his own way. Chickahominy was a serious check 
which he need not have suffered it was no way necessary. 
That taught him, or should have done so, the numbers and 
intentions of the rebel army. So far as appears, it taught him 
nothing. 

" Ignorant of his enemy, careless of his surroundings, he has 
gone into action and come out of it 40 miles from Richmond. 
His officers and soldiers were heroes or they would have been 
utterly destroyed. Of course, I think he has been appreciated 
before, but the War Dept. has not been able to displace him." 

" If McClellan has failed us in whom will the country trust ? 
. . . We have raised armies ; we have shed our best blood, poured 
out millions of treasure, and moved heaven and earth at the 
heck of this general, and he has failed us. Who promises more ? 
Is it Halleck? He was outwitted at Corinth. Is it Hunter? 
He has done nothing. Fremont has at last subsided. Sumner 
might do, but are we sure of it ? 

" ~No. If the truth is what we fear it is, I am for recognizing 
the independence of the South. You will be surprised at this, 
but it is my long harbored thought, once or twice before 
expressed. If they have routed our army there, they deserve 
their independence, and have fairly won it. What is more, 
the common sense of the world will give it to them. It is a ter 
rible thought, yet it is my true one. The prospect were sad 
indeed, but not without its great promise of good. For if the 
Union shall be restored, Slavery as the price of pacification, 
will be sustained by the strong arm of government, and may 

12 Pensacola, Fla.. July 15, 1862. (Letter begun July 12th.) 



108 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

yet linger a half century. But if there is a Southern republic, 
slavery is now nearly dead. It will die soon! * 

Colonel Babcock bitterly arraigns the politicians and army 
contractors for preventing the vigorous prosecution of the war 
by delaying supplies, keeping incompetent men in office, and 
sending out false reports of the condition of the army. 14 

After the failure of the generals to whom the country had 
looked for aid a new man had to be obtained who could cope 
with the situation, and that general showed himself in the cap 
ture of Vicksburg, the great fortress on the Mississippi river, 
July 4, 1863, U. S. Grant. " Everything looks glorious now- 
a-days. Of course our greatest concern is for the Army of the 
Potomac, which has been the great source from which the rebels 
have drawn their supplies. It succeeding now, the war is 
nearly over. To Grant, however, should be the credit of inaugu 
rating these magnificent successes. Banks career has been 
creditable to his troops, and accomplished with small means, 
but his success has been accidental. Lee s rush into Maryland 
and Penn a. has been long designed, but it was the last desperate 
throw of a gambler and has failed signally." 15 

Camp Hamilton, Virginia, the position taken up by the Third 
regiment when it first took the field, was in the enemy s country, 
and the so-called Union sentiment in the district was largely 
assumed. July 14, 1861, " I am well satisfied that there is no 
real Union feeling here strong enough to overbalance the natural 
Southern feeling. The undercurrent of sympathy here is unmis 
takably Southern and we owe our friends to our strength. A 
Union man here is one merely who prefers the old order of 
things, who regrets the destruction of industry and its products 
by war, and who is willing the laws should be enforced if it 
can be done without bloodshed. If there are any more ardent 
Union men than this, it is because they are abolitionists at heart 
or are Northerners who are yet unconverted to slaveholding codes 
of right. One man near here took the oath of allegiance and 
got a pass from Gen. Butler which takes him all through our 
lines and into the Fort. "Wlith this he visited all around daily, 
went home at night like a faithful spouse, and told his wife all 
the particulars. She saddled the horse while he went to bed 

13 Pensacola, Fla.. July 15, 1862. (Letter begun July 12th.) 

14 Xc\v Orleans, La., September 16. 1S62. (Letter begun September loth.) 

ir W. Babcock to "Friend Ruckbee," Donaldsonville, La., Julv 10, 1863. 



FEELING CONCERNING THE WAR 109 

and rode over to the enemy s lines with all this useful informa 
tion. I presume others have practiced the same thing, though 
they have not yet found themselves in quod as this good lady 
has." 16 

In Pensaeola sentiment was divided with regard to secession. 
u I have become acquainted with Judge Wright a good deal, and 
I find him a most scrupulous, high-minded gentleman. He is 
a lawyer and judge, about sixty years of age, intelligent and 
intellectual, used to the world, and the soul of honor. He has 
always opposed and denounced secession, yet regards the seces 
sion of his state as having carried Mm out of the United States. 
He would not take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate 
States and says he would have suffered banishment before he 
would have done it. He will not renew his allegiance to the 
United States though he has not been asked to do so. He has 
one son now at home and three in the rebel army. . . . 

" The families of Judge Wright and his son, of Merritt & 
Cozzens, the other two men arrested at Oakfield are the onlj 
ones really representing the respectability of this city that 1 
have come in contact with. Some of them are for Secession, 
some for Union. The secessionists hate us, and will continue 
to hate us. The Union people, few and rare, will not affiliate 
with us for two reasons: one is, they fear to do so, lest we retire 
from here and leave them to the tender mercies of the rebel 
friends hereabouts; the other is, they have sons and brothers in 
the rebel service who will call them renegades, apostates, traitors. 
Judge Wright said to me that it would hardly be honest to cul 
tivate intimacy with one whose duty it would be tomorrow to 
slay his sons. Yet he says, and all these men say, that our con 
ciliatory course here is fast gaining us friends and that we are 
stronger every day." 17 

The good conduct of the Union soldiers helped to do away with 
the bitter hostility of the leading people in the city, and social 
intercourse grew between the officers and these families. 
" Nobody now stays at home out of spite toward us, and the list 
of ladies who attend the ministrations of Father Nash of the 
6th Regt. comprises many pretty ones." n The Confederate 
papers, however, were " full to the very brim with the most 

16 Camp Hamilton, Virginia, July 16, 1861. (Letter begun July 14th.) 

17 Pensaeola, Fla., May 31, 1862. (Letter begun May 25th.) 

18 Pensaeola, Fla., August 3, 1862. 



110 LETTERS OF GENERAL BABCOCK 

bloody and inflammatory appeals to passion and vengeance." 
" It is a desperate struggle, desperately conducted by the South. 
Many of them, especially the women and old men, are for fight 
ing it out to the bitter end of destroying everything and dying 
on the ruins. 7 - 19 

It is difficult 50 years afterwards, to appreciate fully the con 
ditions under which the soldiers lived during this bitter struggle 
between the North and the South, camping on low ground, out 
in all kinds of weather, without protection from fever and sick 
ness and ever in danger of attack by regular forces or guerrillas. 
Gallantly the men did their duty through the long years of 
fighting; and perhaps this study of conditions as shown by the 
letters of an officer who was a close observer for three years, may 
help to give an understanding of the intimate details of the life 
they led. 

19 Ibid., July 24, 1862. (Letter begun July 23d.) 



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