Friday, December 23, 2011

"...Virginia and Tennessee are here".

Monday, December 23, 1861

For sometime, I have been complaining about the cold. Someone must have heard me because I can now complain about the heat. I should not be surprised. I have lived here long enough to know how the weather is this time of year.

The change in weather does not make the digging any easier, only different. Before, when it was cold, the ground was hard to dig. Now that it is warm, the digging is easier but there is more water and more mud.

The rations are about the same. There is some corn meal coming through and the boys can make corn dodgers which are a welcome change from hard crackers. Flour has disappeared as has any sort of fresh vegetation. Sometimes, when we are digging, we uncover plant material that looks edible. Whatever it is, it ends up in the pot at night and no one questions it. It is filling if nothing else.

Two nights ago, Corporal Flynn was making his rounds as our mess was preparing supper. He asked what we were having and Bill Caston, our cook for the night, raised the ladle from the cook pot to show him. There was what appeared to have been at one time an animal. I hadn't seen it get captured or skinned, nor did its appearence give me any clue as to its origins when alive. I ate it and felt satisfied.

It is even getting hard to get drunk.

Our uniforms are wearing out faster than they are getting replaced, either from government sources or family and friends. Our muskets have not tasted powder for awhile. Indeed, our shovels are more seasoned than our bayonets. There are too many hardships to list here. Life is certainly bad. Even so, this will be a good Christmas for Virginia and Tennessee are here. We have been reinforced.

One brigade of Tennesseans, the 8th and 16th regiments under Donelson, arrived a short while ago. There are two light artillery batteries from Virginia, the Turner Artillery from Goochland County, and the Caroline Artillery from Caroline County. I hope that the Virginians camp hard by as I want to ask them about the Old Virginny that I miss so much.
South Carolina is not alone and now, neither am I.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"I have seen this man, Lee".

Tuesday, December 17, 1861

Is there no end to the bad news that has plagued us of late? On this past Wednesday, Charleston suffered from a great conflagration of as yet unknown origins. A great deal of the city is now in ashes. Charleston has been burnt. There is much speculation in camp that the Yankees must have had something to do with it as it could not have come at a worse time for us.

My dear wife, Susan, is safe. The fire did not harm her. She went to Charleston just before the fall of Beaufort and now lives there. I have not mentioned her to this point as it is much too sorrowful to admit that we are separated. I rejoice and give thanks that she was spared. I will kill a Yankee for her.

I have seen this man, Lee. He makes frequent inspections of the works from his headquarters in Coosawatchie. It took some moments to erect myself to a full stance to see him as I and all of us had spent so much time bending over a shovel. Lee was with a few of his staff, pointing fingers and making notes. He is a tall man and has the bearing of a gentleman. He is supposed to desend from a fine Virginia family. He must know something of horses as do all Virginia gentlemen  as he knows how to ride well. He did not come close enough to us to say hello and we heard nothing of what he and his staff were saying. He is supposed to be a general but what he was wearing did not look so.

It continues to get cold and I continue to be watchful for my excellent blanket. Some of us have no blankets or even scarves or gloves. I consider myself quite lucky to have drawers made from canton flannell. Our government has been unable to provide for this army and we soldiers suffer for it.

The Yankees have been quiet for some time. I wish they would come so we could slaughter them from behind our works.

The last of the ham that we commandeered from the rail car is now gone. We are back to crackers and salt pork washed down with bad water. One gets used to it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"...wash clothes in a mudhole".

Tuesday, December 10, 1861 Pocotaligo Corners

There is much that I have missed entering into this diary. We have been digging every day since the fall of the forts. We dig trenches for the infantry. We dig emplacements for the artillery. Thank the Lord we do not have to dig anything for the cavalry. We dig in the dirt, we eat in the dirt, we sleep in the dirt, we exist in all manners in the dirt. When it rains, we do all these things in the mud. There have been several times that I have tried to make an entry but my hands had been wrapped around my spade for so long that I could grasp neither pen nor pencil.

The weather has turned quite cold, especially in the mornings. There has been frost. We lost much of our camp equipments during the retreat from the Fort Beauregard. There are few tents. Some of the boys who are handy with tools have felled trees and made crude cabins. Those equipped for fireplaces made of mud and wood are quite popular. We need to be careful not to set fire to the wood and mud chimneys. I still have my very good blanket that I brought from home. I need to keep a watchful eye on it lest it warm someone other than me. I have been offered and have turned down three dollars for it.

Our rations are adequate and that is the best that I can say about them. There is salt pork and hard crackers. There is some rice and a small amount of corn. When allowed, hunting parties go into the woods to bag some deer. Sometimes, one comes across wild hogs. They carry their own bayonets which are somewhat shorter than ours. Even so, when they charge, they hold nothing back. It is best to shoot them at a distance, the further the better.

The days of many packages sent by families and loved ones filled with jellies, pies, hams and the like are mostly over. Things are still too disrupted for much of that sort of thing. A detail of us were sent to help unload a train of supplies and ammunition. It was dark and raining. One of us, I dare not say which one, grabbed a small crate and smelled it. "I think there's a ham in this here box". "Who gets the box? Who's it for?" "I can't say. The address paper is missing". "So it goes to no body?" "I suppose so". "No body? That's us. We're no body. Hide that box". We were stopped by a staff lieutenant on our way back to camp. He asked what were were doing with the box. We answered that it was empty and we were going to use it to repair our chimmney and he believed us. There was a very nice ham inside and we feasted on it and hard crackers in our little cabin.

Our uniforms are all of uniform color which is the first time that this has happened. All are the color of dirt. My nice frock coat is no longer nice and barely qualifies as a coat. Our officers still insist on our presenting a proper military appeareance so we spend a good deal of time polishing our remaining buttons and brushing off the dirt, mud and grime. There is not enough sweet water here to allow for much laundrying. There is enough ditch water  but one might as well wash clothes in a mudhole. My soap is finally gone and there had been so little soap issued.

Our muskets and accroutrements are kept in splendid condition. We are soldiers after all. Only the presense of our muskets and cartridge boxes keep us from being mistaken for criminals. If it were posssible to scare the Yankees to death, we would win the war.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Damn them"

Sunday, November 17, 1861   Camp Lee, Pocotaligo

I have been neglectful in my entries. So much time has passed since the glorious battle and our ingloriuos retreat. We did not run but we might as well have. All of us were pretty well feeling ourselves whipped and fearful that the Yankee army would follow us to finish us all up. We need not have fretted. They took Hilton Head and pretty much have not strayed too far from it. I understand they have taken Beaufort.

We have seen some refugees but not many. Almost all of the loyal folks were gone before the forts fell. The displaced families are behind our lines, some far away in the upcountry. Every so often we see great columns of smoke in the distance and think that their General Sherman and his infernal Yankees must get some sort of criminal satisfaction by sacrificing peoples' homes to Lucifer. I do not care if they burn my house down so long as they are in it when it happens.

The day after the fall of the forts, a new general arrived to take command. Lee is his name and he came too late to save anything. Now that he is here, we are moles again, digging, digging and more digging. We are becoming more adept at drilling with the spade than with the musket. Some muskets were lost by our boys during the retreat but I carried mine out. To have done otherwise would have been dishonorable.

The digging is such that all of us ache mightily. Every morning, during Surgeon's Call, there is a line of soldiers, all complaining of being in agony and seeking a medical certuificate exempting them from duty. The surgeon has little to give them, including certificates.

Our rations are not so bad. There is very little in the way of delicacies sent by supporting families. I imagine they are having enough difficulty supporting their own selves. Here in camp in Pocotaligo, where Lee has his heaquarters, we are on the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad so supplies of some sort arrive everyday from one or both of those places. I am sure every train brings in a fresh supply of spades.

My new frock coat is not new any more. It looks more like a laborers coat and that' is exactly what we are, just a notch or two above slaves and there are a few of those working here, too. When we and they are bent over our spades, directing our heads and attentions downward to our similar tasks, no one can tell white from Negro unless they stand up.

I have not yet seen this new man, Lee and know nothing about him save that he is a Virginian. No one else here knows much about him either. General Drayton we know. He is a gentleman and a good South Carolinian.

On occasion, we here the sounds of battle in the distance and a few times, we fell in with our muskets prepared to be sent to wherever the Yamkees were threatening but nothing has come of it. The sounds are such that we can tell that the battle is just a small skirmish and is of little consequence.

The Yankee papers say that already there is music to commemmorate the Battle of Port Royal. They have wasted no time in composing their tunes of oppression. Damn them. We shall play our own tunes with our muskets.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

" I have seen the elephant and I hate him"

Tuesday, November 12, 1861

After the events of the past few days, I'm lucky to even know what day it is. Most of us are alive and I thank our Creator for perrmittt  allowing me to live one more day.

On the morning of Thursday last, our situation was quite favorable. Our big guns were mounted, our artillerymen were standing to their guns, the rest of us, the infantry and cavalry were ready to repulse a Yankee landing. Tatnall's mosquito fleet had engaged their ships and had driven them off. Our blood was up, our ammunition and mouths were dry, and we were eager to begin the fray.

All eyes were directed to the sea where the enemy ships were positioning themselves for the assault to come. We could hear our hearts pound over the noise of the waves breaking shore. And then, at about nine and one-half of the clock, all Hell opened up and let fly.

There was so much noise from the cannon fire that I didn't hear anything. At least, I do not recall hearing anything.  Their ships were in a circle and as they came within range on one fort, they leveled a broadside at it and then reloaded, I suppose as I was not on board, as they made the turn to back where they came from. Once in range of the other fort, another broadside was offered. This manerver manouver they repeated. Never were the eruptions of their guns interrupted or slackened. We in Fort Beauregard, responded first, followed by Fort Walker. 

Our artillery, under Captain Elliott responded valiently but the contest had already been deceided with the first shot. All of our guns that were facing away from the sea to defend against an attack from land were utterly useless as no such attack never matieralized. Of the guns facing the enemy, so few of them were of a size sufficient to do them any damage.

Both of our forts, being of log and earth construction, their being no local source of stone or brick, suffered little actual destyruction although both were mightily shaken up. They threw shot and shell at us for hours. Our responce diminished as one gun after another was dismounted or otherwise put out of action.

We in Company I, the Lancaster Hornets, and some of the other companies were some distance away from Beauregard and thus were not the direct recipients of this bombardment. Even so, enough hot iron was thrown our way to convince us that a close relationship with the earth was desirable. We Hornets stung nothing as a musket cannot hurt a ship. It was so frustrating to be shelled and not return fire. Their infantry did not come. The only thing the Yankees had to send us was death.

I have seen the elephant and I hate him.

The fire from Walker ceased and caused some consternation amongst our officers. We had no means to communicate with Walker or they with us. It was determined that Walker could defend itself no longer and was ready to fall. If Walker fell, Beauregard could not stand. The order was given to evacuate.

From this point untyil we reached Beaufort, my memory of what happened is cloudy. We left in a great hurry, abandoning much of our supplies. At some place, we boarded some ship or boat and steamed away as fast as our paddlewheels could go. Tatnalls mosquitos could not protect us and we feared that a Yankee ship would catch us and blast us into oblivion. It did not happen but I think there were some of us who would have prefered such a fate if it meant that this affair would be over.

Beaufort was deserted when we arrived at the docks on Friday morning. I saw no one save us and a occassional slave. As we left  Beauregard without sufficient provisions, orders were given to open the shops on Bay Street and gather what we could to sustain us. It pained me to break into Mr. Fyler's store but it was necessary. I will have crackers and cheese for some time. I tried to leave a note of explanation and apology for Mr. Fyler but there was no time to finish it. 

Then we marched until we reached Port Royal Ferry, some miles away from Beaufort. There we halted and threw ourselves on the ground to sleep. What had happened to us?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"...the whole damned Yankee navy".

Wednesday, November 6, 1861

There has been so much that has happened since my last entry. I am lucky to still have my hearing. While sitting quietly in the church penning the last lines of this diary, the church bells rang as if the Devil was coming. It was unexpected and liked to scare me into the next world. Within seconds,I think every church bell in Beaufort was ringing. In the midst of this din, I could hear steamboat whistles expelling their energy in unholy sounds. I ran out into the street, forgetting both my diary and the package Miss Barnwell had given to me. In just this short time, a crowd had formed and I had to fight my way back into the chruch to retrieve my posessions.

Everywhere there was great and nervous excitement. The Yankee navy was here.
I could discern few details of this event from frightened crowd. Apparently, I was not the only one who thought they would never come here and I take no comfort in not being the only one wrong.

Several times, I was nearly killed by speeding wagons and horses while trying to make my way back to the docks to board anything that would return me to Fort Beauregard or anywhere else so I might finally have at the Yankees. In my rush to the docks, I encountered many of the named families of Beaufort heading just as fast the other way. The Barnwells, Johnsons, Morcocks, Draytons, Haywards, Rhetts, Fripps and others all were fleeing away as I was fleeing to.

The General Clinch was at the docks, it's whistle blaring loudly. With so much steam going up the whistle, I wondered if there would be enough to propell us across the water. Indeed there was. The boat plowed through the water furiously, without care or consideration for freight or passengers. The boiler and paddle mechanism made so much noise that I feared we would blow up. The captain had posession of some newspapers that were not too old, including a few from the north. I read them, looking up every so often, expecting to see the whole damned Yankee navy around every shoal and inlet.

Fremont, the, "Pathfinder", is out, replaced by Hunter in Missouri. Apparently, Lincoln did not approve of Fremont's freeing of the slaves there. Scott is out as general-in-chief and that fellow MacClellan is in. Scott was our other victorious general in Mexico along with my own general, Taylor, who went on to beciome President. I do not recall seeing Scott, although given his nickname of, "Old Fuss and Feathers", had I seen him, I do not think I would have forgotton him. Jackson is our new commander in the Shenandoah. I think I recall reading about him being at Manassas.

As I left the Beaufort docks for the second time, I thought about an earlier time when a captured enemy ship was docked there. In May, the Lady Davis, which had been part of the South Carolina state navy but was purchased by the Confederacy, captured the Yankee ship A.B. Thompson as it left Savannah. The Thompson, now a prize, was brought to Beaufort where a prize court debated her fate. Now, it is November and will it be my fate never to see home again? 

We did see them. It was a mighty host of warships and transports, lying outside the range of our guns. Soon enough we will sink the lot. We have already had our first exchange of shot and shell. On Monday, some of their ships ventured a little too close for comfort for Tatnall, the commander of four little vessels called the, "Mosquito Fleet". Gallantly, he attacked a much superior force and drove them away. Yesterday, Tuesday, the Yankees tried it again but with a larger force. Tatnall fooled them by going up an inlet where the Yankees could not go and saved his mosquitos for future stinging of the Yankees.

I might as well be an artilleryman or a mole. We turn so much earth at Fort Beauregard that I feel like that small mammal but it is all for the good as we strengthen our defenses. When not burrowing into the earth, many of us train as artillerymen with the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery militia as reinforcements should the need arise. I know some of the big guns already. There are about nineteen guns at this fort. Some face the sea and others face away should the Yankees make a landing behind us. Our largest gun is a Columbiad of ten inch caliber. There are others that fire solid shot of twenty-four, thirty-two and forty-two pound size. One of the thirty-two pounders is to fire hot shot and set the wooden ships on fire. We keep the hot shot furnance going and it is very comfortable now that it has turned cold. We even have a nine-inch Dahlgren gun, named after the Yankee naval officer who invented it.

I can only assume that the same efforts are being expended at Fort Walker at Hilton Head. From here, we can see a great deal of activity. Several companies of the regiment are there.

The ranks of the Beaufort Artillery are represented by many of the powerful planter families in Beaufort District. The Barnwells are here. A corporal and a sergeant Barnwell have been instructing us infantrymen in the finer points of gunnery. An Elliott commands the battery. The Fullers are represented by a sergeant-major, a sergeant, and two lieutenants. I wonder what they would say if I mentioned what I had seen in Beaufort on that day? I will say nothing. I am just a private.

Finally, I got the chance to open the package that Miss Barnwell gave me. I am blessed with a new frock coat, a kepi, a cotton scarf and a pair of drawers. The drawers must have been why Miss Barnwell insinuated  that I should not open the package in the house.

Now, I look like a soldier. I have my uniform. I have my musket and ammunition. Let them come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"While there is still som..."

Sunday, November 3, 1861

Captain Vanlandingham is a fine gentleman. He knows that I and a few others are from Beaufort District are not from the regiment's home recruiting area of the upcountry. The captain has graciously tendered to me a pass so that I might visit friends and see about my home. I never thought that I would be returning  so soon after enlisting.

It was a simple matter to secure transportation from Fort Beauregard to Beaufort as there are various types of craft going to and fro bringing supplies to both us and Fort Walker on Hilton Head. All the while that I was aboard the Emma, all of us, including myself, were keeping a watchful eye for the Yankee fleet that is heading to some as yet unknown destination along our coast. One could have floated this boat on the rumors that I heard. The Yankees have a hundred ships, a thousand ships. They are coming here, to Charleston. They are re-inforcing their foothold in North Carolina and will march inland burning farms, fields, cities and towns. I still say they are going to Charleston.  Even so, I looked.

Beaufort has not changed a great deal since I left only three months ago. With some exceptions, it appears to be business as usual. There are recruiting and patriotic posters in windows and on walls. There are announcements of socials to raise funds for the cause.
There are not many women on the streets. When I mentioned this to Mr. Fyler in his store, he said that many of the women spend their time making things for the boys. Caps, coats, stockings, drawers, scarfs plus pies, cakes, jams and other foodstuffs fly from the homes heading to the boys in the field. Without the women, how could we sustain ourselves?

In order to tender a debt of gratitude, I paid a visit to the Ladies Aid Society. Even without an appointment or calling card, I was received warmly by the president, Mrs. Morcock and Mrs. Barnwell. Barely did I get a word out of my mouth when a plate of hot food, ham and soft bread, was thrust upon me. There was peach cobbler with heavy cream for dessert and it was such a mile away from the hardtack and salt pork that the army feeds us.

I thanked the gallant ladies on behalf of all of us who have been the recipients of their tender attentions. Mrs. Barnwell asked me if their were any particular needs of the boys that the Society should direct their efforts. I mentioned that as the army marches a great deal, stockings wear out quickly and are in short supply. Some moments later, Miss Barnwell, whom I took to be Mrs. Barnwell's daughter, entered the room and gave me a package and bade me to open it at some future convenient time and place. I gathered from what she said that then and there would not do. 

After a long round of thanks and good-byes, I made my way to Rector Walker's home. As I entrusted my affairs to him before leaving for Columbia to join up, I thought it prudent to pay him a visit. He was not there so I stopped at his church and am writing this while sitting in a pew, surrounded by peace and silence. While there is still som

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

:...a Yankee fleet is en route..."

Friday, November 1, 1861
Our time in Charleston was very brief. Barely had our tired souls refreshed when it was time to strike camp and leave again. I must write this in great haste as there is a strong sense of urgency going through the whole camp.

I have completed the circle. Our regiment is on Phillips Island at a place called Bay Point, opposite Hilton Head Island. My home is perhaps just three or four miles away.Once the regiment arrived, we were put to work with spades and saws continuing what others have started, the construction of Fort Beauregard. Half of the regiment is not here, it having been sent to Hilton Head to work on Fort Walker.

All are in agreement that a Yankee fleet is en route to some point down south. There is much speculation as to exactly where. There must be someone, certainly of higher rank than us, who thinks the the fleet is heading here and that is the reason for our intense labors. I cannot see it. Charleston is where the war started and the Yankees would have much to gain by it's capture. There is nothing here of any military value. If their destination is Charleston, our efforts here are being wasted. If we do not remove ourselves to Charleston soon, that great city will fall easily to the Yankees. But lowly people such as myself are not in command so here we are and here we work our tools.

At least we are not alone. The Beaufort Artillery, under Captain Stephen Elliott, is here along part of Captain Screnen's company of Beaufort Guerillas under Lieutenant Youmans. The Colleton Rifles are here and I suppose there are others that I have not yet seen. Our own colonel, Dunovant, is in overall command of the defenses on this island. Captain Elliott is commanding Fort Walker itself. Surgeon Turnipseed, the officer who examined me in camp, is here on the colonel's staff. Even the state militia has been called out. The First Regiment of Artillery is here.

Over on Hilton Head are rumored to be the Eleventh and Fifteenth Regiments of South Carolina Infantry. There are supposed to be some infantry and artillery from Georgia as well. There are many guns here, some already mounted and others awaiting their turn to be placed so they can blast the Yankee fleet, should it arrive here, to the bottom of the sea. As I am not a gummer, I barely know one gun from another. I do, however, know how to work a spade. I know mine backwards and forwards. I know every dug earthwork and every felled tree by their first names. Beckham, Caston, Duncan, Hancock, Shehane and White, my old squad for which I was briefly their lance corporal, are here. So is Corporal Flynn.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Some of us sharpened our bayonets"

Tuesday, October, 1861

There has been much that has happened of late.  The last time that I was making an entry, it was cut short by the sound of many drums all over the camp beating out the long roll. We all scrambled for our muskets and sticks and fell in on the company street. Corporal Flynn, sans brogans, was there to assault our ears with threats to our very existance.  None of us, including Flynn, knew what had happened to cause this ruckus.

Our captain addressed us in a hurried manner. We were ordered to strike the camp and prepare all baggage and equipment for transportation by train to Columbia. We were disappointed to hear him say that he had no clue why these orders were given, only that our movement was of great urgency. 

For some months, our camp had been a well-appointed small city. A great deal of personal baggage had been accumulated, much of it worthless in a military camp. Some of the recruits that arrived here brought one or more trunks of the "necessities" of army life. Visitors from Columbia and all over the upcountry brought items designed to provide some creature comforts for their boys. There were even a few servants in camp, attending to the needs of their masters.

There were not enough wagons to transport all of this to the depot. Trunks, picnic baskets, china dinnerware, cases of port and sherry, silver candlesticks and much more was abandoned as being unable to be transported. I stepped on a pasteboard box of a dozen white linen handkerchiefs. I picked up one and stuffed it into my pocket even though it was no longer white. 

It took quite some time but our column of men, horses, mules and wagons was finally assembled and marching on the road to the depot. Once there, everything had to be loaded onto the freight cars and that took up a great amount of time. I rode on an open flat car for the trip to Columbia. It was cold and I was thankful for my blanket. I think I saw someone fall off of the train. I hope I am wrong for the train did not stop. We didn't dare stop as the train behind us, having no idea of what was ahead of it, would collide with us.

The railroad must have been caught unawares and unprepared for such fast-moving events for our locomotive had only a small amount of wood on board and could not go very fast. Even so, we had to stop to obtain more wood. I was on the detail to assist the train crew in loading the tender. The railroad had some of their slaves there to load wood but we shoved them out of the way as we could load faster than they could. We were so afraid that the following train would impact us causing great destruction and loss of life. A detail was sent some distance to the rear of our train to watch for the next one.

Finally, were were done and the locomotive blew its whistle as a signal to the rear detail to hurry and board. I got back on board my flat car and picked splinters out of my hand with my pocket knife.

We speculated at great length as to what had happened to cause us to be ejected from our camp. No one, even our officers, knew anything certain. Were the Yankees in Charleston? We all knew from the northern papers that a fleet was being assembled for some purpose. Had it already sailed? Had it already landed its cargo of blue-clad oppression somewhere on our shores? Whatever the cause for our journey, all of us were eager to get in close with the enemy and slay them. We had been in camp so long that there had been much grumbling that the war would be over before we had a chance to show our mettle. All that is gone now. Some of us sharpened our bayonets. There was much boasting.

Amidst all the braggidocio, there were some few of us who said little or nothing. They sat by themselves or in twos and threes. They sewed buttons, ate a hardtack cracker, read from a New Testament. Some tried to write a letter but the movement of the train caused a mess of it. I tried to make another entry in this diary but soon gave up.

Is this how they gird themselves for the battle to come and perhaps eventual death? They say little and think much? Do they worry that they will not do their duty when the time comes and will be thought of as unworthy by the folks back home? I watched a boy who has never seen a razor reach into his haversack, pull out a full bottle of whickey and throw it off the train. Two others, whom I know to love a drop saw this and said nothing.

What is it that sustains men in times such as these? We are men.  This is what we must do. That is enough.

Once in Columbia, all that had leen loaded onto the trains had to be unloaded for the journey from the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad depot to the South Carolina Railroad depot which was, I suppose, two or so miles away where everything had to be loaded on rail cars again. Along the march route from one depot to the other, there were any number of waving flags, cheering people and playing bands.  Some young lady stepped into the ranks to pin some sort of momento, probably hand made by the young lady herself, on the breast o af  marching soldier. Other citizens passed packages to us. I received no such largesse but the fellow behind me was rewarded with a large cheese which he later shared.

It took quite some time to reload everything. Our sargeants and corporals were shouting at us the whole time to hurry lest the war be lost by our lack of haste. And still, we knew not what our final destination was. Everyone knew that in the direction were were going, this railroad ended in Charleston. Had this pillar of Southern graceful society been bombarded and taken by the enemy? It would make sense as the war began there. Even so, from Charleston, one could go north to Virginia or south to Georgia so we continued to speculate.

We stopped again for wood at Orangeburg and once more, shoved the railroads slaves away. I overheard a few say that this work wasn't  for white folks. Most did not care. They wanted to hurry to more quickly meet the Yankees and save Charleston from an unspeakable fate.

The last time that I traveled this route, I and my few fellow travellers from Beaufort rode in fine passenger cars well-appointed and well-served. This time, we were in a box car, being moved as one would move common freight. What cargo had occuppied this car prior to ourselves did not smell like roses. One had to be careful where one sat.

After some hours, our train pulled into Charleston. Once again, all freight, both human and not had to be unloaded. We wondered, would we go north or south? It was neither. We would stay in Charleston which was safe. There hadn't been  a whiff of gunpowder smoke here since the fall of Sumter.

Still, we are here for some reason. Something had happened to cause us to leave camp with such immediacy. Once we established camp, we were visited by citizens of Charleston. The brought greetings, the usual presents and news. We listened to them while wolfing down our new victuals. They  were able to state with certainty that a Yankee fleet had assembled in Maryland and had set sail southward some days ago, its destination as yet unknown but many feared it was Charleston.

Are we to defend Charleston? It that the purpose for our rapid move? So be it. Let them come and we shall slaughter them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tuesday, October 15, 1861

It has been some time coming but finally, it has happened. After seemingly endless weeks spent training in a "unit" that had no parentage, I and my squad have been given to Company I of the 12th Infantry Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. The regiment was mustered into Confederate service some time ago and we are just now being assigned to it, having been told by Corporal Flynn that we are now at least worthy of belonging to a regiment if not actually being real soldiers. Corporal Flynn has come with us and will continue to threaten our very existance but now we have parentage.

Once the transfer was made, I reverted to the status of a humble private. The lance corporal "rank" was strictly for training purposes. All the companies have names. Ours is the Lancaster Hornets, named for Lancaster District.

We came in too late to vote for our company officers. They were determined to be worthy of their ranks and responsibilities by those who were already in the company when the election was held. I do not regret having missed the campaigning by the prospective claimants to high position. As I am not from the upcountry as all the others are, the promises of future goodness based on past service at home would have been wasted. Their home and mine are different. For the duration of the war, however, our home is the army.

Electing our officers to serve over us is a very democratic process. Let us hope that we chose people who can perform and not just pontificate. There is already enough hot air here to propell a steamship across the Atlantic.

Our colonel is Dunovant, our chaplin is Dickson,  our captain is Vanlandingham. Our 1st sargeant is Wade. I do not know any of these people. Our corporal is Flynn. All know Flynn.

Some day our government will have the means to fully clothe and outfit the troops. One of the disadvantages of having an economy based on agriculture is that there is little of an industrial foundation to supply the means of war and self-defense.  Our national government has furnished so very little in the way of anything. South Carolina has done somewhat better to take care of her sons. I now have a new black strap for my cartridge box and no longer have to wear my white one that I brought from home. I gave it to another fellow who doesn't even have a cartridge box.

Those of us who are from the more established militia organizations have at least a martial appearance since they wear their uniforms from their home districts. The effects of weather and drill make them look less pretty and more like the rest of us who came here with nothing more than civilian clothing. Some of the latter looked like fops. When lined up for inspection, there is always two or three of us in tall hats as worn by gentlemen. Planters sons and others of the priveledged classes entered camp life with expensive liveries of garments useless to a soldier. All of them now look like us and we look like mud.

In lieu of a supply system that can sustain our needs, the Confederacy has fixed upon a commutation system. We supply whatever we can in the way of arms, accoutrements and clothing from our own resources. We are reimbursed from the national treasury for our efforts until such time that it can take care of us.

As some of us are nearly naked, the hope is that we will be supplied from the government more sooner than later. At present, the only source of clothing to replace that that becomes worn out are packages from home. Many of us owe a debt of gratitude to the Soldier's Relief Society in Beaufort. It's president, Mrs Morcock, and her officers, Mrs. Barnwell, Mrs. Fuller, Mrs. Wells and Miss Barnwell, have done a splendid job of sending us clothing, foodstuffs and small creature comforts. I received a shirt made by the hands of Miss Barnwell but it was much too small for me. I have given it to Philip Shehane. He is a good lad. In return he gave me a half-pound of bacon which of course I shared with the rest of the squad.

The advantage of being an agricultural society is that there will always be food. In this war, at least we will eat well.

The newspapers that come here and are read until they fall apart bring a mix of good and bad news, most of it bad. The Yankees  have been quite active in ship-building for a fleet landed Butler's force which seized Hatteras Inlet and our garrison there surrendered. One of Lincoln's objectives in this war is to close our ports to foreign trade and subject us to strangulation.

Paducah in Kentucky has fallen to Grant. Kentucky had declared neutrality but that was just a sham. One bit of good news is that Lexington, Missouri has been captured by Price, after a siege.

Drums. They are beating the long roll. Yankees?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"...shoot and kill"

Sunday, October 6, 1861

Once again, I feel compelled to make another entry in this diary. Why I should do this I know not as so very much remains the same. Perhaps I do this to give me something do do beyond the numbness of drill and the boredom of everything else. Corporal Flynn is out of the hospital so things are rarely quiet.

I am not the only one who feels the taxing burdens of boredom. There are those who seek relief in wholesome pursuits. Books, whether brought by the recruits or arrived by the mails, are circulated around until no longer readable. The Bible is the most read work. If one wanders from campfire to campfire, he will encounter at least a few discussions and debates concerning the New Testament. Works by Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens are popular. Someone loaned me a book of poems by Emerson. I tried but could not fathom it and returned it.

At the other end are printed materials of ill-repute. The so-called penny dreadfuls have some following in camp particularily amongst the younger readers who are no so far removed from being children. There are novels of low order which appeal to those who are of low order themselves.

There is much gambling. The games of chance that are being practiced by the wiley upon their victims only increase the chances that the victims' pockets will be emptied. The chaplins rail against gambling but it is of little use.

Drink flows like water here. Drunkeness is often witnessed and often punished as being detrimental to good military disipline. Officers get drunk, too, but their punishments are less severe as is always the case.

Some of the officers take their responsibilites with much seriousness. Those who care can be seen going over worm copies of the various training manuals such as Hardees', Caseys' and Gillums'. They are so young to have such weights placed upon them. None have any experience in leading men in battle. Some received their commissions because they are the sons of powerful planters as if that fact in itself certainly implies superior knowledge. Obtaining the necessary experience will come but with a price payed in the blood of those they command.

Some officers seek out those with prior military service and pummel them with questions. Some of here have seen active service against the Indians and share their knowledge when asked or even when not. I am doubtful that any time spent fighting Indians will be of any use in fighting Yankees, savages though they both be.  Two lieutenants, Campbell and Rallings, knew of my prior service under old "Rough and Ready" Taylor in Mexico in the Virginia Regiment. Both hung on my every word until I said that the regiment arrived so late in the war that it and myself saw no action. They then thanked me and left the campfire.

Some arms have arrived here and have been issued along with some very few accroutrements. The muskets are all of an old pattern. Some were once flintlocks converted to percussion. I have seen none of the new American Springfields or the English Enfields that are rumored to be forthcoming. I still have my own Springfield but it is of the model of 1842. It will still shoot and kill. I still have my militia accourtrements which are mostly white. They may look good on the drill field or in the local tavern after a militia muster but I am growing more uncomfortable wearing something that may present me as a good target for some Yankee sharpshooter. I must make friends with the quartermaster.

When will we fight the Yankees?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"It is shameful"

Sunday, September 22, 1861

Once again, I pen a few humble notes in this diary in the hopes that they may make for interesting reading in later years. I will be much dissappointed as there is so little of note that is interesting. We drill, and sleep, and drill, and eat, and drill and then we drill again. There is much here to occupy the body and so little to occupy the mind. Much of our time to ourselves is spent getting into mischief. I have seen several here confined to the guardhouse for childish pranks. Drunkeness is so common as to inspire little comment.

The weather does not like us. The rain soaks into everything and everyone. Quite a number of us are afflicted with afflictions of the lungs such as catarrah. There have been many instances of measles. Our "hospital" is filled with such cases in addition to pneumonia, camp fever, the flux, and the itch. Corporal Flynn has measles so we are enjoying the quiet. I have had measles and do not think it likely that I should get them again. Some are said to have chicken pox which I have not had so I may see the doctor yet.

Military regulations say that every new recruit will be given an examination by a surgeon. Some of us have been here awhile and are still waiting for their examination. I have finally had mine and have witnessed others and must report on how it is done in this army. A Doctor Turnipseed attended to myself and others. He asked a number of questions as a private registered the answers. I was asked if I was a drunkard. I answered that I was not. He asked if I was subject to the "fits". I answered that I was not. It was more of a gentrleman's agreement than a medical examination.

I have seen more than a few here how are unfit to be called a soldier. The medical officers are reluctant to send anyone home lest they miss doing battle with the Yankees. While morale is high in some respects, it is waning in others. So many of us still do not have arms or accourtrements. Some of the boys who are "armed" with sticks beat each other with them just out of boredom or frustration. I would not doubt that some have taken "French leave" and have returned home. I must keep a keen eye on my own musket lest it be appropriated under cover of darkness.

Our victuals range from poor to excellent. We get plenty of the standard Army ration of hardtack and salt pork with occassional issues of rice and beans. Some of the meat has gone bad. Some of the hardtack has gotton moldy and some have weevels. The city boys turn up their noses at the weevely crackers. I have seen a few farmboys consume the crackers and all, paying no mind to the non-regulation meat issue.

We are often visited by delegations of well-meaning citizens of some sort of soldier's aid society who enter camp with or without persission to see how their sons and husbands are faring. They often bring packages of food. As I am from the coast and my pards are from the upcountry, I am an outsider of sorts but they share their largesse with me. The citizens bring ample amounts of fried chicken. They also bring such necessary military victuals as tomato catsup, rhubarb pies, snicker doodles and lemon drops. We offer to share our humble fare with them. All politely decline. The mails also bring packages of food and small clothing. There are sometimes notes inside praising our efforts and wishing us well. Some of us are lucky enough to receive a package at random with a request of the recipient to write the sender. Many of the packages contain spirits for medical purposes, I'm sure.

When the mail arrives with missives from home and loved ones, it is an occassion for great joy and there are so few other joys here. Many letters are written here. Many more are received. All the contents are shared so that everyone shares in everyone's happiness. Some have become fathers while being trained here. Some receive news that their sons or daughters are getting married. There has also been news of sadness. It is unavoidable that someone at home shall pass while we are away. Our time will come.

One of my squad, William Caston, has received not a single letter from home but has sent several. It is without excuse that someone who has volunteered to protect his fellow citizens should risk all while those he protects cannot risk some foolscap and a few minutes of their time. It is shameful.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"There will be cursing".

Monday,September 9, 1861
I have been here for some few days. There are many others who have been here many weeks. All of us are here to be transformed from a rabble into a Rebel army. When we were disgorged from the train, we were escorted to a recruiting station. Folks with paper, books and pens took down our particulars as to body shape, hair color, complexion and the like. It was difficult for many of us to pay attention to the questions of the recruiting officers given the many distractions that surrounded us.

There was much yelling on the part of the drillmasters. Not all of their fulminations towards their recruits was fit for polite society but one must remember that this is no finishing school for girls. This is an army camp for soldiers.There will be cursing. Martial music from a band was sometimes drowned out by the whistles of steam locomotives delivering supplies and more men, fresh fish they are.

The recruiting officer commented about my age and then said that few were being turned away. All who came were looking to get into a scrap with the Yankees and no one wanted to dissappoint them. I mentioned that I had served in the Old Army in Mexico with "Rough and Ready" Taylor. For this, I was made a lance corporal on the spot and was given my own "squad" to train under the compassionate direction of a Corporal Joseph Flynn. Besides, I had my own musket and accroutrements.

My squad consists of only six recruits, all new to the profession of arms. There's William Beckham, William Caston, Thomas Duncan, Burrell Hancock, Philip Shehane and John White. We are not yet assigned to a company. With so very few of us here having any experience in creating an army from a bunch of plowboys, clerks, planters sons and the occassional gentleman, there is great confusion in camp. I'm not sure anyone knows what to do with us. I'm sure someone will figure this out and will tell us where to go.

With one lone exception, all my squad are from the up-country. I am the lone recruit from the coast. I am also the only one with a musket. For the present, it is not critical that my men be armed with anything. It is enough to get them to march in step, turn as one body and obey orders, especially the latter. I can give orders in a loud voice but it is really an art form. Corporal Flynn does not give orders. He vomits invective from his palate of many colors onto the blank canvasses of the recruits. He inspires respect. And fear.

My squad looks to me as the "Old Man" and they pepper me with many questions. All want to be good soldiers and are anxious to look good in my eyes while at the same time avoiding the eye of Corporal Flynn. They all want muskets and cartridge boxes in order to more look the part of seasoned veterans and not be mistaken for recruits. Military supplies are few and far between. They will be lucky to get a stick. It is not enough to look like a soldier; they must BE soldiers. Their lives and the life of our country depend on it.

For the moment, we must make do with what we have, trusting in our government to supply us with the means to ensure our liberty. We must drill and drill and drill. When it rains, the drill field gets muddy and having many hundreds of recruits tromping renders everything into a quagmire. All are dirty. Many fall in the mud. I have not seen soap issued since arriving. I brought a small piece with me and am very popular with the squad.

There are quite a number of officers here but I have spoken only with those of the recruiting service. Some of the officers look like fops their uniforms are so gaudy and very impractical. Active campaigning will take care of that. There is almost every color of the rainbow represented by the mix of uniforms here. There is blue, red, green, brown and even some grey. In camp, the word uniform is just an abstract concept. The Emperor Napoleon would have been proud.

The night is growing long and my candle is growing short. Tomorrow is coming and it could be exciting

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"It looks like a grand circus".

Monday, August 27, 1861

Well, for better or for worse, I have arrived. This place is called Camp Johnson at some other place called Lightwood Knot Springs, somewhat north of Columbia on the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad.

Before leaving Beaufort, there were some affairs that needed to be settled. I leased my place to Reverend Walker, rector of St. Helena's Episcopal on nothing more than a handshake. He is an honorable man and I must face what is in front of me without having to worry about what is behind. What I owed to anyone has been paid and what little that was left over I put in my pocket. It is a small pocket.

I spent my last day preparing for this journey. I returned to Fyler's store for provisions and some  luxuries such as a pocket mirror and a few candles. I need not have bothered about provisions as there was a soiree that night in the ballroom of the old Verdier House for those of us who were going to Columbia. Not only was there dancing, music, food and drink, the latter of which I did not partake, each of us who were leaving was presented a package from the lady's Soldier's Relief Society.

The contents of each package varied depending on who assembled it. Unbeknowst to any of us, the ladies had selected by lot a name of a departing fellow and with loving and tender hands, purchased or made the contents of the package. All contained food. There were pies, cakes, biscuits, candies, jellies, relishes and other necessities which every soldier carries into battle, of course. Some packages contained more practical victuals such as salt pork, hardtack biscuits, beans, rice, dried fruit and the like.

There were also items of clothing in each package. Some received a shirt and some even two. There were some drawers and it was obvious which of the young ladies made them as there was much blushing. No one blushed at mine so I suspect they were not made by a young lady. There were also two pair of fine stockings in my package. Remembering my time in Mexico, I know they will be valued. Inside each package was a small flask of spirits with a note advising that the contents should only be consumed when necessity dictated.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, I went to the docks to wait for the steamer. Others were there for the same purpose. A band was playing martial airs to send us off but I doubt few paid any mind. The attentions of family and friends who were soon to be parted robbed the band of their due. 

Although there were smiles, hugs and kisses enough to satisfy all of South Carolina, I cannot help but think that for some folks who remain, their last memory of their loved one will be one of him waving from a departing boat. The tears put shame to the rainstorm that began.

As the band played on, the young Southrons and one old one boarded the steamer Edisto for the journey to Charleston.  En route, we joked and told stories filled with grand bravado of how we few, by ourselves, would rout the Yankee army and capture Washington. If wars could be one by braggidocio, we are already victorious. Many of us attacked the victuals that were left over from yesterday. They should have done so only sparingly. Who knows where our next meal would come from.  One could trace our route by the empty flasks.

Upon arrival in Charleston, we went ashore in varying states of equilibrium and made our way to the terminal of the South Carolina Railroad. There was such a sight. Our flags were everywhere as were soldiers in every color of uniform, including blue. One of our party commented that the war must already be over since the Yankees were here. One could hear music from every location as well as cannon fire which we were told was merely practice. The mood was festive and the air smelled of confidence.

We boarded some fine-appointed passenger cars and headed for Columbia. At Orangeburg, we stopped to take on wood. While there, I had a chance to talk with a few of the slaves who were loading the tender. They were owned by the railroad, some for more than a decade.

Once in Columbia, we left the train and were met by a lieutenant, a sargeant and three privates, all of whom looked fresh off of the farm. They were to escort us a ways to the terminal of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad where we boarded another train for the trip to Lightwood Knot Springs, our new home for the forseeable future. When we arrived and took in the spectacle that greeted our eyes, I overhead one of our party exclaim, "It looks like a grand circus". We shall see.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"I will go to Columbia".

August 21, 1861

There are not so many young men to be seen. Our President has issued a call for additional volunteers to defend our new nation. Quotas for the states have been assigned. There are several new regiments being formed up at Columbia. South Carolina started the swell for independence. She must do her part.

I stopped at the Post Office the other day and the Postmaster told me of a young lad who had been known to expell fire and brimstone whenever the subject of the conversation turned to Yankeedom. He talked a fine line but did little. The Postmaster said this wag came into his Post Office and was handed a package addressed to him. Being anxious at the prospect of discovering some treasure, he opened it right there. To his horror, he revealed a petticoat sent to him by some of the young ladys of Beaufort with a note that he should try it on as trousers were for men.

I do not expect to be the recipient of any such recommendation of change of my attire but it does raise a question? What is my part in this war?  We have been invaded by a foreign power that seeks to lay waste to our cities, render fallow our fields and slay our people. They mean to strip us naked of our liberties and condem us to perish in the Hell of their version  of slavery.

So far, the war has not visited us here. It has visited us there. It had little affected me. I still dine on the foods of my choice and spend my time enjoying the fruits of my labors as I see fit. I have no sense of sacrifice for the higher good, the common good or any good other than for self. While others have, of their own decision, left their hearths, homes and  loved ones to answer the call to arms to defend us, I and others remain secure in our indulgences and get fat. This is not right. The quality of our freedom is determined by the quantity of our participation.

They say that McDowell is out. A George McClellan is in as the new Yankee army general. Of what stuff is he made? We will have cause to find out. New forces are right now being assembled to attack us and McClellan will lead them. Ever since the capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery to Richmond, it has been the object of their attention. Even if he leads a host of 100,000 against us, we shall whip him as we did that other fellow.

But who shall do the whipping? They outnumber us many times over. All must do their part or all will be lost. Every man and every musket is needed.  I cannot, with a clear conscience, sit home and reap the benefits of freedon while others make the supreme sacrifice on my behalf. I will go to Columbia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"... I bought a diary".

August 17, 1861

It was not supposed to happen. Our leaders said that it would not happen. There would be no war. The Yankees would not fight. They would see the futility of keeping the South in the old Union and would let us go in peace. If there was a war, the fire-eaters said, one big battle would end with a victory for Southern arms. The Yankees would go home with their tails between their legs, lick their wounds and regret ever having invaded our country. One such confident wag said he would wipe up all the blood that would be shed with his pocket handkerchief.

The battle did come, at Manassas, in the Old Dominion State. Our army, under Generals Johnston and Beauregard, the latter the hero of Fort Sumter, whipped McDowell and his hordes. They ran all the way back to Washington. The papers call it, "The Great Skedaddle".  I regret that I was not there to witness the sight.  Many a brave lad surrendered his life on the field of honor in the cause of liberty. One of our Palmetto State generals, Bee, was killed while ordering his troops to rally behind the Virginians.

But though we have been proved victorious, there is still War. We did not follow them to their capital and hoist our flag up their pole. The war would have ended that day but we did not advance to our advantage.The Yankees are now licking their wounds and are preparing to have at us again. It is only a matter of time before they fling themselves across the Potomac again to burn, loot and pillage. We shall have to whip them again and again and again. That fool will need a million handkerchiefs and more.

Given my advanced years, I doubt that I could ever make a positive contribution to the war effort. I have already served in the Mexican War, with Zachary Taylor. Our regiment of Virginians arrived too late to see the elephant but it was a grand adventure none the less. After our state declared itself free of Yankee chains, and the militia was called out, I went to Fort Moultrie in Charleston and witnessed the firing on the Yankee ship, Star of the West in January. I did not fire my musket even once. Then in April, I and my fellow militia witnessed the grand bombardment of Fort Sumter. I fired my musket only twice, and not in anger but in joy when our flag flew over the former Yankee thorn in our side.

I am not needed in this war. It is for young boys who will be neither young nor boys much longer. War will do that. Still, I want to keep a record of these events during this struggle for independence so that in my later years I can recall with some accurracy how we accomplished this. It will be a fantastic story to be told for generations. The battles will be fought and re-fought long after we are gone.

I had to go to the Post Office and Fyler's store was just next door. In addition to the beans and nails, I bought a diary. This is the first entry.