Monday, December 24, 2012

"...Home, Sweet Home."

Wednesday, Christmas Eve, 1862, Picket Post, Rappahannock River

We are cold. We are wet. We are hungry. We are ill-clothed. We are ill. Even so, our muskets are clean and our cartridge boxes are full even if our bellies are not. Our morale is very high. It has been some two weeks or so since the big to-do on this side of the river near Fredericksburg. We still talk about as if it were yesterday. We find it helps us to forget that we are suffering.

Our suffering is but nothing compared to that of Burnsides' Yankees. We shot them up rather badly. Those who survived the slaughter pen intact spent the night on the battlefield with the dead and wounded for company. We heard gunfire all during the night as any movement on their side was answered with a shot from ours. The following day, they left the field and retreated across the river to the tune of our musketry.

Burnside has barely budged since that day. We suppose that his army is licking its wounds from the licking we gave it. We had entertained the thought that after such a defeat, they would go home and leave us alone. If this were to be, they would have left some many days ago. As they are still there, we expect that Lincoln will make good Burnsides' losses and he will try us again in the spring. If he does come at us again, we will have to shoot them to pieces again. At some time, they'll have to run out of Yankees.

And what of Burnside himself? Will Lincoln keep him on or send him packing? As far as we are concerned, he can stay around a little while longer. We do not care to break in a new one so soon after breaking in the old one.

If we are indeed going to go into winter quarters, we will need some shelter worthy of the name. The few tents in the regiment are reserved for the officers. There are some saws and axes about. Some of us have some experience with carpentry. It should be nothing to throw up a few cabins of logs in which we can spend the winter in luxury. At least when we die of starvation, we will be warm.

This is the second Christmas Eve of the war. We are still in the field, as are the Yankees. Neither side seems able to convince the other to yield. There will be another year of this war and there will be more effusion of blood.

The effusion is suspended, at least temporarily, for the season at hand. Some moments ago, we heard music from the Yankee lines. I think it was John Brown's Body. When they concluded, we heard Bonnie Blue Flag responding from our side. After a few more selections, a band of theirs struck up some less martial airs. They played Lorena and Just Before the Battle Mother. We had no band to compete with theirs but I did hear a few fiddles, a guitar and a harmonica from our side. We did have  a fifer, Boy Stephen in the company but he was discharged earlier this month. Our drummer, Boy Lewis, has transferred to Company D. 

There must be some Dutchmen on the other side as we heard something like Silent Night but the words were in their own tongue. We sung back at them with Greensleeves. There is no firing. The singing is spirited. Both sides are singing Home, Sweet Home. I won't write anymore.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"We Killed Them in Waves."

Saturday, December 13, 1862, Fredericksburg, Virginia

It is not the cold that is causing me to fumble my pen. There are reasons other than the weather that renders a body numb to what it may see or hear. I must not explain this right away as I must enter into this book the events that have transpired since the last entry before I forget them. The events of today cannot be forgotten no matter how much I will try.

There were many dozens of us waiting at the Guineas' Station for another locomotive to take our train to wherever its cargo of soldiers and cannon could meet Burnside. Some os us, having been discharged from the Richmond hospitals too soon, filled the air with much coughing and hacking. The station agent received a telegram stating that no locomotive would be forthcoming and that the senior officer present was directed to put us all on the march with all haste to Fredericksburg. None of us had a musket and few had any rations but off we went, under the command of an artillery lieutenant who had been on his way home to Lynchburg.

We left the station to fall in and I noticed this one soldier in a slouch on the end of a bench. Someone called to him to hurry up. It was when he did not respond that we realized that he was dead.

It was not a great length of march, probably no more than ten miles. Since we started so late in the day, we required to spend the night spread out across farmers' fields without tents, little rations and only a few blankets. When we fell in, without breakfast, on Thursday morning, I noticed that our ranks had thinned some. 

After a short but cold and hungry march, we arrived at the army's new location across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg which had been occupied that very day. We were met by officers who knew where the various divisions of the army were located. These officers broke us up into parties and took us to our divisions where others took over and led us to our brigades. It was nearing dark before I entered the camp of my company.

I was greeted by the welcome sight of my pards, including Bill Adkins, who was wearing my blanket. My blanket. My thick, heavy blanket from home which kept me from freezing all last winter, the same that I was looking forward to being reunited with was now draped across the shoulders of the only person who looked warm. He said that he was keeping it protected for me. How could I ask for it back? I thanked him and said that he could keep it. Along with the uniform in the package I received at the hospital was a vest, two pairs of wool stockings and a pair of flannel drawers. My old blanket would have been too warm anyway.

Corporal Flynn was there and when I enquired about my musket, he tossed a spade to me. My welcoming party rapidly turned into a working party which included myself. As we dug into the hard ground, we talked and I was informed of all that has happened since my involuntary absence. 

The regiment had been in the Shenandoah when I took sick. A good many of came down sick at the same time but I was the only one who required treatment in a general hospital. Since my leaving the regiment, the regiment left the Shenandoh. Indeed, Jackson's entire force left the valley once Burnside became frisky and threatened Richmond. Now Lee's entire army was reunited and standing between Burnside and the object of his affections.

The regiment suffered more casualties at Sharpsburg than I was aware. John Fail and Elias Frazier, neither of which I knew,  were killed there. Our colonel, Dixon Barnes, died of his wounds. Peace to his ashes. Cadwallader Jones is our new colonel. Harper and McDow have died of disease and Lieutenant Wade has retired. Troy Crenshaw is still away from us, still suffering from his wounds at Second Manassas. 

This now brings me to the momentous events of today. First, I must state the positions of the army relative to each other. When I finally get old, or at least older, I will no longer remember. Our Jackson was on the right of the line. Our division of Hill's was inside from the far right. Taliaferro's division was on our right. To our left was Hood's division. Hood was the far right of Longstreet's wing of the army. Longstreet and a good deal of our artillery was in a fortified position on some heights across the river from Fredericksburg. Gregg's brigade, which included us, was in reserve. Facing us, in the city, was the infernal horde of Burnside. 

They hit us on our right first. Our regiment was observing the battle from our protected reserve position on a rise when we were dreadfully surprised by a blue line of battle. We later found out that this was Meade's division. We were fairly surprised and broken up by Meade. General Gregg was killed while rallying his brigade to hold our position. General Early's division supported us and we were able to fight out the attack. We stayed and they withdrew.

At this point, we were able to just watch as the next period of battle began. It was Longstreet's turn to be attacked. That Burnside sent brigade after brigade uphill across open fields without cover against infantry and massed artillery firing from behind the protection of earthworks. We killed them in waves. As one wave was repulsed, another took its' place in the attack. I lost count of the number there were so many. As each wave was thrown back, we could see so many bodies. And they kept on coming, and dying. They never came close to our lines. As we were so far away, we could not assist Longstreet but he probably did not need us.

It is now night and I am writing this by the faint light of an astronomical oddity of nature called a borryallis. There can be seen so many bodies. They cannot all be dead; there are too many moans and calls for help. There is still frequent gunfire from Longstreet's men.

It is very cold. The vest and drawers help but I would like a blanket like my old one. I can see Adkins and hear him. He is sleeping quite well. After such slaughter as we witnessed today, how can the Yankees expect that we would ever surrender? 

Monday, December 10, 2012


Wednesday, December 10, 1862, Guinea's Station, Virginia

Nearly everything has gone wrong. I was assured that I would be discharged from the hospital on Monday last. It is now two days later and although I have been discharged, I am scarcely closer to rejoining my regiment than I was when still in the hospital.

Two days ago, several folks from the Provost Marshal's department entered the hospital and spoke with the surgeon in charge. Shortly afterwards, there was a general call for all able-bodied men to prepare for discharge and departure from the hospital to rejoin the army in the field. I saw several who, being motivated by their sense of duty, struggled to rise from their cots and join the ranks. Others who, moments before the entrance of the marshals, were nearly dancing suddenly became lame when called upon to do their duty.

A steward brought me the uniform that I had arrived in. The stockings and braces were missing. I was holding up my trousers, counting how many holes I would have to patch when I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned my eyes were cast upon a young lady of tender years who presented me with a parcel wrapped in paper and tied with string. This package she gave me. She did not and I could not utter a single word. She turned on her heel and walked towards some other ladies.

Although it was not explained to me, I gathered that these ladies were from an aid society and their purpose was to distribute material needs to the soldiers in the hospital. In all the disruption that filled the hospital, I think no one noticed my opening of the parcel. Inside was a new uniform including stockings and braces. And a pair of drawers.

And now I sit in a railroad station, wearing my new uniform. I have sat here for some hours along with many others, waiting on a locomotive engine to come and replace the broken-down one that has stranded us here. It my own fault that I am here. Had I not gone to have my likeness taken in my new uniform, I could have boarded an earlier train. Now, thanks to my vanity, I twiddle this tintype with my fingers as I listen for the whistle of approaching relief. Jackson needs me and I am not there.

There was no explanation for the urgency of the marshals earlier. Obviously, something has happened or is happening that requires all of us who can to defend our country. And here I sit, twiddling. Disgraceful. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

"...where is Jackson?"

Sunday, December 7, 1862, in hospital, Richmond.

It is time to leave. I have spent enough time being the object of curious interest to the practitioners of the medical arts. Let them find some other canvas. Sadly, there are so many more for them to practice on.

It was this Friday past that the surgeon in charge of this wing came to say that I could return to my regiment on Monday next. At that moment, I no longer minded the oatmeal gruel that I was eating. I am now looking forward to the salt pork and hard crackers that I will feast on once I return to camp. As the weather is turning colder, there will be little else to eat but I do not care. It will be worth it so long as I may see my pards again. I will even suffer Corporal Flynn gladly. 

There is much to do before I take my leave of this place. I have made some friends here and I will have to say good-bye to them. It is not likely that I will see any of them again. Somewhere in this place is my uniform. It will probably require a great deal of tender nursing itself before I can wear it with any sense of respect as a soldier. I do not need to be concerned about my new rifled musket as it was left with the Ordnance officer before I left camp.

There are questions that I have. Will I be issued rations enough to sustain me until I rejoin the 12th? Will transportation be arranged for me or will I be left to my own devices? And where is Jackson?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"...bled, purged and puked".

Monday, November 24, 1862, in a Richmond hospital

The doctors here say that I am getting better. As I am certainly no doctor, I am compelled to trust in them. I am still quite weak and can get around unassisted for short times before I have to sit down or just retire to my bed. I think that I am asleep more than I am awake.

One of the doctors, quite an elderly gentleman, has told me of my afflictions. Tough old buzzard that I am, it has taked two different maladies to knock me down. Both the bloody flux and camp fever decided to join forces and attack me. They nearly put me under. I refer to the doctors. The diseases perhaps affected me less. 

I have been bled, purged and puked. I am sure that my skin is three shades whiter due to my lack of blood. The mercurials they give me have given me breath of a very foul condition. My diet is calculated to treat my conditions. I get a good amount of beef tea for the fever. I feed on the beeves in the form of their tea and the leeches feed on me in the form of my blood. I suppose that it evens out. That I can keep most everything that I eat means that I am getting better.

William, a nurse from Franklin County, Virginia, had been tending to my fever by wiping me down with a sponge and tepid water. He will not tell me his last name but he is still a good fellow. He does not answer any questions about himself and I have learned not to ask him such things.

The reading material at this hospital is quite adequate. There are both northern and southern papers. The New York Herald Tribune says that McClellan is out and Burnside is in as Army of the Potomac commander. Their army has been divided into three Grand Divisions, left, right and center. Let them divide themselves all they want to. Lee will chew each of them up. As it is almost December, nothing will happen before spring.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"...I Should be Dead."

Wednesday, November 12, 1862, Winder Hospital, Richmond

A great deal of the last month is unknown to me. I can write here what I can remember but I cannot be sure that it is correct. 

I think that I remember marching through Martinsburg with the regiment and heading towards Bunker Hill, not too far from Winchester. This could have been early in October or it could have been the week just passed. One afternoon, while in camp, sometime after dinner, I felt uneasy in the bowels and head and turned in early. When I awoke next, I was in a hospital bed in Richmond and felt like death would be welcome.

From what I have been told, I should be dead. I have had a fever that rendered me insensible for some weeks. One of the nurses here said that he was forced to change my bedding quite often due to my profuse sweating. When he said that, I felt pitiful thinking that for some weeks I was lying in a bed above the ground, out of the weather with clean linens and could not remember any of it and therefore could not enjoy any of it. O the cruelty of it all.

My uniform has been exchanged for a simple dressing gown of sorts. As the gown is quite thin, it is good that my hospital bed is not far from the stove. Whenever I should pass by the stove, I toss in a chunk of wood. The weather is turning and the warm days of summer are but a memory.

I would suppose that my diary is still back in camp. The hospital steward was kind enough to allow me some of his foolscap and a pencil. This will all have to be re-written again into my diary whenever I return to camp. 

There is not much to keep a body busy here but I do not mind that as I would prefer to sleep. I do sleep a great deal. Since this is the capital there are newspapers to read and there is a small library here. Somewhere in this hospital, one of the patients has a fiddle and plays it. I have never seen him but I have heard him. He is lucky that he plays well for if he did not I think that several of us would kill him.

The hospital fare here is not extravagant but is tolerable and at least filling. This morning we were served a rasher of bacon and one egg each. There was real coffee and some tea as well as sugar. The best thing was the fresh bread. None of us will grow fat on this fare but none will starve, either. I wonder how the boys are faring back at camp. Has anything happene

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"We delight in killing them."

Tuesday, September 23, 1862, at Opequon Creek, near Martinsburg

When it appeared that McClellan would make no move against us, our army yielded the field to them and we marched towards the Potromac and Virginia. Our division formed the rear guard of the army.

McClellan was not going to let us go in peace. Several miles beyond where we crossed the Potomac at Boteler's Ford, the Yankees crossed, too and followed us with a notion of chewing us up. The division was turned around and we went back to kill them again. They had massed some artillery against us but not enough to stop us. The Fourteenth took the worst of their guns but bravely moved on. Our regiment suffered but one wounded. I fired my new Yankee musket but five times. I hated to give up my old musket but as it was a smoothbore, it did not have the range to kill Yankees beyond a sixty yards or so. This rifled musket can easily double that distance.

We were compelled by the lack of ambulances to abandon some of our wounded to the mercies of the enemy. I have not heard if Colonel Barnes is among them.

I do not know where the rest of the army is. I only know that we are near Martinsburg. For all I know, we are still the rear guard since we are so close to the river. I cannot imagine that this place can sustain the whole army for long so they must not be here. We must be ready to move quickly to oppose any more attempts by the enemy to cross over to our side.

Until someone beats the long roll, we are engaging in resting and refitting ourselves. Almost everything that composes us soldiers has to be put right again. We have had some chance to launder our uniforms and ourselves. Our officers have insisted on it. As I was one of the few who thought ahead enough to save some soap, I was rather popular. Now I am soapless and not half clean yet. The waters are cold but the fires are hot so it is even.

Our rations have returned to normal, that is to say ordinary and monotonous. The good people of Martinsburg have little to spare since our last visit. Perhaps we should not have been so greedy then. We make do with corn, salt pork and crackers. Things will be better in the spring if we do not starve first.

Although, at present, we do not do battle with the two-legged enemy but rather, we are engaged in battle with the six-legged enemy. He is called by several names, some of which I will take note of here.  When not being condemmed to the infernal regions, they are called, "confederates", "zouaves", "greybacks" and "tigers", amongst other names. We take no prisoners, we fight under the black flag. We kill them in droves and they are rapidly replaced by more. We kill them by smoke, we kill them by boiling, we kill them between our fingernails. We sit in groups around the campfire and seek them out. 

Duncan, Lyles, Adkins and Terry have a wager. The one who kills the most wins one hardtack cracker. I heard Adkins exclaim, "Fifty-two!", a moment ago.

We spend a good deal of time doing this. As we have not had the time to take a proper clensing of ourselves and our clothes for some months, all of us are being attacked by great hosts. We delight in killing them. Sometimes, a garment such as a shirt, is infested beyond all efforts to save it. When it is thrown away, we say that it has been paroled. I did not parole my drawers. I burned them. I am wearing my last shirt and already know that it has been invaded by advance scouts who will pass the word to the main body that fresh meat is hard by. Someday, I will burn this shirt, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"...watered with blood."

Saturday, September 20, 1862, in Virginia

If I do not write this down, I will not be able to recall this in the future. Yet, in order to do this, I must recall it and it sickens me to do so. On Tuesday night, we could hear the cannonade in the distance and knew that our time to enter the fray was close. On Wednesday morning, the entire division was put on the road early in the direction of the thunder.

We marched faster than usual and rested so little. We all knew that something big was happening and we must be there in a hurry in case our presence would make the difference. As we came nearer to the source of the sounds, they grew in such scale that we knew that whatever was happening, it was larger than we had imagined.

As we approached the battlefield, we could see Yankee signalmen waving their flags. If they were signaling our arrival, there was nothing we could do about it. They were too far away to shoot down. When we joined battle, the brigade was facing a lush cornfield into which we entered, not knowing what would be on the other side. In the cornfield, while taking the top of a slight rise, we encountered the Yankees. We opened fire as did they. They were Rhode Islanders, and as we held the high ground, we cut them down as if they were the corn itself.

They Yankees stood our fire for awhile and withdrew rather rapidly to the cover of a stone fence. Our Colonel Barnes ordered a charge and so we complied, yelling all the way. Barnes noticed that we had advanced so far from our lines that we were unsupported and withdrew a bit. Once others advanced to within supporting distance, Barnes ordered the attack resumed and we drove them away from the fence.

There we stood and shot it out with the enemy. In our squad, Vincent was hit in the left hand. In our company, John Fain, Bill Taylor and a boy of just seventeen, Elias Frasier, were killed. Colonel Barnes suffered a Minie ball to his thigh which is a very bad would to have inflicted. Barnes had taken over command of the regiment after Dunnovant had resigned this spring. I suppose Major Jones, if he still lives, is now in charge of the regiment.

When night fell, we were still in posession of our part of the field, and there we stayed, largely falling in place to the ground. We dared not pitch a proper camp lest the Yankees advance again upon us. I fell asleep straight away, without any supper. If anything happened after I entered the realm of the unconsious, I remained thankfully unaware.

When dawn broke the next day and the haze had left the fields and our eyes, we could see a sight that should never be seen by anyone. The hills here are gentle and we could see for some distance. We observed spots before our eyes, many spots dotting the fields. Each had been someone's son but no more. They have been turned into spots of grey and blue lying peacefully on green fields now turned red. 

All during the day, part of us stood to as the rest of us ate or replenished our cartridges or searched for friends alive or dead. I could only get down two crackers and no more. Finding sweet water was difficult. My canteen is now empty. I noticed poor Castles, and several others, have to remove themselves from us to go and evacuate their stomachs. 

What is grown in fields watered with blood?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"We Can Hear the Distant Cannon."

Tuesday, September 16, 1862, Harpers Ferry, Virginia

It was not much of a fight. We came here to remove the Yankee threat to the army's rear, to keep our supply lines safe. We spent the time since leaving Martinsburg moving on Harpers Ferry. It took a while but we surrounded the town with our guns. Maryland Heights, Loudoun Heights and Bolivar Heights, overlooking the town and commanding it from above. Had the Yankees fought better to hold these heights, we could never have claimed victory.

But they did not fight more than a token's worth. We positioned our guns and infantry more or less without interference. Yesterday morning, we opened fire on the garrison. We could get at them but they not at us for we were too high. They did resist for a while but there comes a time to recognize that continued resistance only gets men killed with no positive gain to balance the scale. They surrendered and we moved it. Our brigade had not fired a shot.

Better than winning the battle for those of us high privates was the capturing of all their supplies. It reminded us of the capture of the Yankee supply depot at Manassas Junction. There were so many muskets captured that all of us now have new Springfields. Duncan got rid of that riduculous top hat in favor of a Federal kepi. We all profited ourselves with something from the Yankee supplies. I have enough hard crackers to last all year. I also took a wool shirt as winter is coming. Several of us went to visit the firehouse where the abolitionist John Brown and his insane followers made his last stand in '59.

Hill's division, including our brigade, has been left behind to see to the parole of the prisoners while Jackson and the rest of his command goes south. We do not mind as it gives us extra time to enrich ourselves courtesy of Massa Linkum.

Several of us in the company were guarding some of the prisoners. I saw men from Vermont, Ohio, Illinois and New York. It was New Yorkers of the One Hundred and Fifteenth specificly that we were guarding. Duncan and I got to talking with some of them. One was named Doxtater, another was called Platt. Both were young men, just past their teens. Then there was Joseph Wood from some place called Ephratah. He was the old one at thirty-seven. All three of them were both disappointed at having been surrendered and yet at the same time relieved that they are being paroled . No one will be shooting at them until they are properly exchanged.

We exchanged small plesantries with them and avoided politics for the most part. They looked very dejected and expressed much dissatisfaction with their senior officers. One of them said that if Jackson had been their general they would have prevailed. Castles and Duncan escorted them to where they could fill their haversacks with rations before they leave.

It is now dark and I am about out of ink. All attention is directed to the south, in the direction Jackson went. We can hear the distant cannon. This isn't over yet.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"There Are Yankees in Harpers Ferry."

Saturday, September 13, 1862,

On Thursday instant, we crossed the Potomac and returned to Virginia. We crossed near Williamsport, several miles above White's Ford which is where we left Virginia and entered Maryland. We are leaving Maryland not much worse for our visitation. The shelves in the shops were depleted of goods but I suspect they were re-plenished soon enough after we left. They do have some very good cheese up there. Their hams are good but I prefer those in Virginia.

On Friday, we came to Martinsburg where we were treated as both conquering heroes and liberators. There had been a Yankee garrison here and we hoped to engage them but they evacuated the town before we arrived. We were looking forward to visiting the shops again as we did in Frederick but things are different here.

No one would take our money. We could buy nothing but could take anything we liked. As we marched into town there were buckets of water placed along the way to slake our thirst. I am rather sure that some of those tin buckets contained something stronger than water. The girls and a good number of the women tossed flowers. The boys "marched" along side of us, trying to look martial. It is apple season here and one of the merchants rolled out a barrel of apples and we helped ourselves as we marched by.

We did not suffer to stay long. Jackson has seen fit to order us back on the road. There are Yankees in Harpers ferry. They are between us and home. We will move them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"We are going back to Virginia."

September 11, 1862, towards Williamsport

I had thought as all of us had thought that we were taking the war to the enemy. Is that not why we crossed the Potomac into Maryland? Yesterday morning, we left Frederick bound for Boonsboro, even further into Maryland. 

Our reception in Boonsboro was cooler that the one we received in Frederick. Boonsboro is a wretched place by comparison. The women looked as if they were weaned on a lemon. None of us were able to acquire anything wearable or edible except Castles who purchased, if that is the right word, a single cheese. He was good enough to share it. Castles is a good man.

Perhaps something has happened to cause the army to change direction. We are going back to Virginia and we do not know why. Reasons for our turnaround are flying through the ranks. No one is happy about this. We came to do battle and the only action we have seen is with that Dutch woman in Frederick. We have never before been so fit and eager and we all have shoes. We will wear them out returning to Virginia.

"The women are all stone-faced."

Tuesday, September 9, 1862, Frederick, Maryland

We have spent several days at this place and the reaction of everyone is a mixed one. We saw few faces when we marched into town. Most of those we saw had expressions of curiosity. There were few who looked at us approvingly. We have seen a few Confederate flags and all have been small ones. The women are all stone-faced. The young girls point at us and giggle. If we were expecting to be met as liberators, those who we thought we were liberating would rather we were on the Moon. 

Even so, our stay here has not been unplesant. Frederick is well-appointed with all types of shops and it will be some time before they forget their newest customers.  General Lee had issued strict, strict orders that the army was not to seize private property by impressment or any means other than payment. There are two types of payment, the first being Confederate paper money and the other being payment certificates, issued by our government which were like promises to pay after the war was over.

Some shopkeepers took our paper money either as a curiosity or out of fear that we would wreck the shop otherwise. Others flat refused to sell anything. We had to try to acquire something even though we had been well-supplied at Manassas Junction courtesy of Uncle Abe. We all suffered in various degrees for want of something. We "Dandy Eights" split ourselves into two parties for purposes of legal foraging. 

We entered one shop and before we could make our manners, a large elephant of a woman speaking something we took to be Dutch, chased us out with a broom. We fared a bit better in the second shop where Castles found a new pair of shoes and Hancock purchased a new hat and two tins of sardines. Duncan found six pair of socks and bought every one. I found nothing.

On our way to the third shop, we were approached by three young ladies not older that fifteen. They asked us for some of our buttons as momentos of our visit. We gave each one of them one from each one of us. They wished us well and went on leaving us short by a dozen buttons. At the third shop, the buttons were all replaced although the cost was a full five dollars. Each one of us were able to buy a new shirt. Castles and I bought two each. Hancock found a red vest with a black velvet collar. We tried to talk him out of buying such an impractical item of clothing but he had to have it. Duncan bought a top hat and looked the fop.

We should have gone looking for victuals first but we did not. As a consequense, other famished rebels had already cleaned out most of the foodstuffs. We were determined to get fed and well-so. On main street was a butcher and a bakery sitting aside one another. Castles and Duncan went to the butcher while Hancock and I visited the bakery. When we entered the bakery, I thought that surely this must be how it smells in Heaven. To smell that again would be worth a bayonet charge against a cannon. The bakery owner was a Southern sympathizer and gave us a warm welcome. We walked out with a dozen loaves of fresh bread and two small crocks of butter one of which was apple butter.

We met the other two on the sidewalk. They were empty of hand and hard of words for the butcher. He had told them that previous ragged rebels had bought everything he had and even if he had anything, he would not accept filthy rebel money. I thought how could he have sold anything if he would not accept Confederate money. It did not sound right so I told Castles and Duncan to mind the bread and butter while Hancock and I tried our luck. We emerged some few minutes later with three rabbits, a small turkey and four hams. Our money he would not accept but a Federal five dollar gold piece he would. It was some of my now diminishing savings from when I closed by bank account in Beaufort prior to leaving for Columbia to join the army. 

We met the other party from the Eights back in camp. The others had done rather well. Each now had a new blanket and one also for Duncan who had thrown his away on the march from Manassas. Crenshaw had two dozen eggs. All the victuals were cooked and entirely consumed in one sitting. We are now sick. It is a very good thing that none of us have to do guard duty tonight. I got too close to the campfire and singed my trousers. Tomorrow, if I am able to do so, I will shopping for trousers. And more victuals.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"...we crossed the Potomac..."

Sunday, September 7, 1862, north of the Potomac

During the time we spent regaining our strength after the little affair at Chantilly, a fair number of stragglers caught up with us and our ranks were somewhat swelled. Jackson marches us so hard that straggling is a problem. Her has ordered that stragglers be shot if they cannot match the pace with the main body but I know of no one that has been sent on in this manner. It is just as well that we do not shoot our own as the Yankees do a fine job of that themselves.

Even as our numbers increase, it is not as significant as it may seem. We have discovered that our losses in the company were greater than we had supposed. We knew about Conners, Johnson, Kirk and Robinson but now we have discovered that Taylor was killed as well. Lieutenant Buchanan, the regimental adjutant now rests in peace. We have not heard if Colonel Barnes is still among the living. Troy Crenshaw is in the hospital doing only fairly. Wilson Crenshaw sees him every day.

We had thought that after we had beaten Pope and sent him packing back to Washington, that we might be pursuing him with the ultimate objective of placing Washington under siege. During our pursuit, we changed direction and went north whereas Pope went northeast towards Washington. Our route of march took us into Loudon County where we crossed the Potomac at White's Ford near Leesburg. I do believe that we are bound for Frederick and perhaps Philadelphia beyond that.

Although Maryland is a Southern state, she did not secede with the rest of her sisters. She has remained in the Union at the point of the bayonets of an occupying army. Even though she is being held in captivity against her will, some of us in Lee's army refused to cross the river into a "Union" state saying that such a move was an invasion onto foreign soil and that by doing so, the Confederacy can no longer say that it is defending its own soil. 

I will respect their opinions and hope they will not be shot as deserters but as for myself, I believe that northern Virginia has suffered enough from Yankee depredations. It is high time that the war was taken to the enemy in his own yards and fields. Let us liberate Maryland and then give Pennsylvania a blow, knocking that state clean into New York. If we kill enough of them, they will leave us alone. We can do this for we are Lee's soldiers. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"... the Manassas Bloodletting."

Tuesday, September 2, 1862, near Ox Hill, Virginia

Thursday past started well enough. Jackson put Hill's division into line of battle next to an unfinished railroad cut on the old Manassas battlefield of a year ago. Our brigade formed the far left of the division line. We could see Sudley Church from where we were standing. We were on a hill, a slight hill. We were ordered to hold the hill. Then there was battle. 

It started quietly, as battles sometimes go and then things rapidly got out of hand. At roughly ten of the clock, the Yankees attacked and our General Gregg sent in the First to meet them. The Yankees were reinforced by two regiments of New Yorkers, according to their colors. The First was in trouble and Gregg ordered in the Twelfth to assist the First. The Yankees had the gall to send some Pennsylvanians against us.  Gregg then sent in the Thirteenth and we stood and shot it out with the enemy for an hour, I think.

After this hour, the enemy threw large amounts of infantry at us. We were only three regiments. The rest of the brigade, two regiments, were in reserve. Our colonel, Barnes, ordered a charge. There were only three hundred of us in the regiment and we were ordered to charge.  It should not have succeeded. We should have been swallowed up whole but instead, we broke a regiment of New Yorkers. They retreated, allowing us to turn and catch some more New Yorkers and even some West Virginians in the flank. They became dispirited and retired.

Now a hole opened up in the Yankee lines and Colonel Barnes ordered us in even though we had been engaged for quite some time and had suffered considerable losses. But fortune favors the bold and in we went only to be met by some Yankees trying to plug the hole. They broke, too, and we followed them until we met their artillery. Flesh can only withstand so much and Gregg withdrew everyone to the place from which we had started.

We were allowed no respite as the Yankees threw several waves at us in succession, trying to break our line. We were determined not to be broken. From this moment to the end of the day, I remember not much more than loading and shooting, loading and shooting. They came at us, we shot them away and they came at us again. 

There are some incidents that I will remember despite my best future efforts to forget. I caw Andy Conners of our squad get shot. I did not know him well but will miss him anyway. Kirk and Robinson, neither of whom I knew also fell. Troy Crenshaw was wounded. This has given his brother Wilson, one of our Dandy Eights mess, great distress.

The worst happened when I dropped my ramrod and bent over to retrieve it. I heard the ball hit. I did not have to think anything about it. I knew what had happened. My gut told me. Someone fell on me and then I knew who was hit. It was Bill Johnson who was standing behind me in the rear rank. He was dead before he fell on me. That was my bullet. He was my friend.

We ran out of ammunition so we fixed bayonets and rodded the cartridge boxes of the dead but they yielded little. I took poor Bill's box but he had only four rounds left when he died. I knew there was his blood on his cartridges but I tasted nothing and I bit into them. Crenshaw's Virginia battery and some North Carolinians from Branch's brigade came up and helped to take off the pressure.

For a brief while, they stopped paying attention to us and we started breathing easier. However, the pressure that was taken from us was applied at another place in the line and it broke. Since the Twelfth was not too preoccupied, we were sent in to make things right. Another brigade was brought up to support us and the line was reformed. 

The Yankees threw in fresh reserves and our brigade line was forced back. We halted and reformed, declaring that we would retreat no further. We were saved the event of a last stand when the Thirty-seventh North Carolina came up in support. Someone called out, "Longstreet is here", and we felt better knowing we were heavily re-inforced. 

Longstreet sent Ewell's division to our position and Lawton's Georgia brigade and Early's Virginia brigade relieved most of our division including us. We went to the rear of these two brigades and prepared to move forward should the line be broken again. When night fell, we fell to the ground, all done in. We held the hill as ordered.

All during the night we listened to scattered musket and cannon fire. We also listened to unhuman sounds from friend and foe alike. Some faded away, some did not. We did what we could no matter what color their uniform. Some were beyond help so we left them with a canteen and went on. There is something about a body being wounded that increases the thirst. There were many canteens to choose from. We understand that our Colonel Barnes was wounded, probably while leading the charge.

This was just the first day.

On the morning of the second day, we arose early and prepared breakfast. Our ammunition was replenished and we formed ranks for another battle. We were quite satisfied to be placed in reserve as other, fresher regiments took our place. Even so, some of us were still desirous of returning to the fray. The Yankees did make some attempts to oblige us but McIntosh's South Carolina battery kept them at bay.

On Sunday, the 31st, there was no rest. Pope had had enough and his army began retreating in the direction of Centervile. Jackson called on us, his "foot cavalry" to pursue and somehow cut off his retreat and destroy him. Yesterday, we came close to cutting off his line of retreat and he fought hard to keep us away.

The entire brigade, including the Twelfth, not yet recovered from the Manassas bloodletting, was put into the front line. The exchange of musketry was not nearly so intense at this place, Chantilly as it was at Manassas. The weather turned against us with a pouring rain. Pope slipped away under the twin cloaks of darkness and weather.

Now it is Tuesday night. There are many campfires and we now have the time to consume a fairly decent meal. I still have two tins of sardines and a small cheese which I will consume tonight as it will go bad soon. We are remembering Bill Johnson and Andy Conners who have passed from this world but not from our hearts. Wilson Crenshaw was not with us as he was with his brother Troy at the hospital. We do not know how bad his wounds are but pray for his recovery.

Lieutenant Williamson and Sergeant Harper came by to tell us to get some sleep as it is a long way to the Potomac. Did we beat them that badly? Are they retreating all the way to Washington? Will we attack and capture Washington and end this terrible war? If Lee says we must then we will do so.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Will Jackson march on Washington..."

Thursday, August 28, 1862, near Manassas

On Monday, we came across the carcass of a deer, ate it in camp and felt thankful. On Tuesday,  we resumed marching with many of us stumbling rather than marching. Castles, Duncan and Terry, who had made those moccosins from raw deerhide were suffering from their new creations. Everyone near them were suffering as well from the smell.

My shoes had finally reached the point at which they protect nothing. Others were in the same way. My trousers were worn out in impolite places. The shoes were discarded but I dared not march sans trousers.

On Tuesday, we marched some more and suffered some more. I could tell that our force was getting smaller due to straggling. We did not know it that day but some of our cavalry and Trimble's infantry had attacked and captured the Yankee supply center at Manassas Junction. Yesterday, those of us who were still with the column marched into Heaven.

There were several storehouses and 100 cars captured largely intact. All were full of the riches called loot. Call it requisitioning, call it impressing, call it what you like, we looted. Once the area was deemed free of Yankee interference, we decended on this bounty, fairly-won, like Vandals in Rome. Everything was there and we took as much as we could carry which was a good deal.

The barefoot, which were most of us, were shod. The hungry, which were all of us, were fed beyond being full. I got two pairs of army shoes for myself. Having gone barefoot, even for a short while, I am comforted by the knowledge that, heavy as they may be, I will have new shoes hard by when these wear out. A new tarred haversack and a canteen, courtesy of Uncle Abe now hang from my shoulders.

And the food. Salt pork by the barrel and hardtack by the crate disappeared into mouths and haversacks. Numerous fires were rapidly started and the air was soon filled with the scent of cooking pork. Some of the Yankee regimental sutlers had their stocks here. We relished cigars, wine, tinned sardines, cakes, hard cider, candy, French mustard and other delicacies. As I do not indulge in the weed, I traded a bundle of six cigars I had "liberated" to Lieutenant Williamson for two tins of sardines he had acquired. We ate until we were tight as ticks. We slept very well that night. 

But that was yesterday. Early this morning we were back to the old routine of marching but all of us were cheerful about meeting the enemy with full bellies and full cartridge boxes. What couldn't come with us was put to the torch. Every few minutes, we could hear ammunition exploding and we felt satisfied at the sound.

We could hear a good deal of cannon fire and musketry from the direction of the Warrenton Turnpike. We were too far away to do any good. We stood ready in case we were needed. Corporal Flynn went around examining our cartridge boxes to see if they were full. We were able to determine that we are now in Pope's rear. What will Jackson do? We are between Pope and Washington. Will Jackson march on Washington while Lee holds Pope in place? Will Jackson and Lee destroy Pope between them? We are so very close to the old Manassas battlefield from last summer. Will we fight there or where? It seems clear that something will happen soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

" was already quite dead."

Monday, August 25, 1862, near Thoroughfare Gap

This has been another day of hard marching. Jackson knows how to get every last mile out of us. We are certain that tomorrow will be just like today. We have left our knapsacks behind to ease our loads and be able to march another mile or five. I am not holding out any prospects for ever seeing my knapsack again.

It has been very hot and many of us have cast away blankets and other things to lighten the load. Although I have been tempted to lighten my own load, I will not rid myself of my good blanket. I will never see a blanket this good again. It may be hot now but the cold weather is coming and I will need something to keep me warm. I still remember the long marches through the mountains of Mexico.

Once we halted for the night, the regiment just collapsed off to one side. Little attempt was made to establish a proper camp. For Castles, Hancock and myself, we declined to lie down on the ground as we knew if we did that, we would not get back up again. Instead, we went hunting. This is the time of year when the deer become more active and we hoped to find some venison.

We took our muskets not to hunt dear but to use incase we should run into any Yankees who might be out hunting us greybacks. We dared not shoot the deer lest we alert the enemy as to our presence. We hoped that the enemy was still some miles away but were unsure, We had marched so many miles, for all we knew, we could be near Washington. Castles said he could run down a deer so we wouldn't need our muskets.

Castles saw the deer first. He didn't need to run after it as it was already quite dead from some cause we preferred to remain unknown. It was not so awful that we would leave it there for some other scavengers to feast upon. 

Once back in camp, the deer did not remain intact for long. Even though it was not a large deer, we made it stretch to feed our mess and two others. We feasted on our small portions with some hard crackers and pronounced it plenty. 

Castles, Duncan and Terry retained the skin and made Indian moccasins from the untanned hide. They will not last long but in the absence of real shoes these three soldiers will not last long. Whatever Jackson is planning, he will need every man of us. We must not fail him or our country.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"The fatigue will kill us..."

Sunday, August 24, 1862, near Jeffersonton

We are all done in. Jackson is marching our feet right off. If we were to meet the Yankees tomorrow, we would all be captured intact in our sleep. More and more of us are falling out for want of shoe leather. The fatigue will kill us before the Yankees will.

Even so, we are generally of good cheer. We know that all this marching is for a purpose. We are to maneuver ourselves into a position where we can strike a blow for our independence. We just need to have enough soldiers still able to shoulder a musket to effect this outcome.

There has been much rain of late. The chills from the damp along with numerous cases of the flux are playing evil within the ranks. We go to sleep wet and awake the same way. We can get neither warm nor dry.

Earlier today, the Yankees began a noisy cannonade. The brigade formed up behind our batteries who were returning fire in case their infantry should advance upon us. They made no move and neither did we. There was a great deal of powder burned but to want effect I am unaware. We stood down eventually and marched to this place where we now sit around a campfire, trying to get warm. Where is Pope? Where is McClellan?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"...the pastime of Yankee-chasing..."

Sunday, August 17, 1862, Crenshaw's Farm, Virginia

The brigade has finally halted long enough for me to become familiar with our present location. We are tenting here at Crenshaw's Farm, some few miles to the northeast of Orange Court House. We are told that the owner is the captain of a Virginia artillery battery bearing his name. As he is a fellow Confederate, we must endeavor not to do any lasting damage to his property. If any of his chickens should challenge our picket posts, we will have to do our duty.

We have had some time to effect some repairs to our uniforms, equipment and ourselves. We must make our best use of this time as we may resume without warning the pastime of Yankee-chasing so liked by our Jackson. 

Crenshaw said that he had visited a friend in the Campbell Rifles and he told Crenshaw that he heard a conversation between two staff officers who said that they had heard that McClellan had left Virginia and was on transports heading this way to re-enforce Pope. Pope is supposed to be somewhere south of the Rappahannock. If the two of then unite, there will be some hard fighting to come. We may get pushed back to Richmond all over again. If that happens, we can count on Lee to turn things around like he did the last time. 

Before we go marching anywhere, we will need many shoes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"I bet they have sardines"

Friday, August 15,  1862,  Somewhere in Virginia

For nearly a week we have done nothing but march. I barely know where we are now let alone where we have been. I am fairly certain that we have covered the same ground more than once in both coming and going. After passing beyond Orange Court House one day, we found ourselves retiring towards that place some days later and we do not know why. We have crossed the Rapidan in one direction and recrossed it in the other. What is Jackson at?

All this marching perhaps serves some military purpose even if we who do the marching cannot see it. The regiment is in a bad way. All of us see it. All of us feel it. The brigade is probably in the same fix. How could it be otherwise? As the brigade goes, does the entire division follow? Given the rapid destruction of our shoe leather, how much longer can we maintain this?

There are so many of us who are barefoot. I will join the ranks of the shoeless before long. Duncan's new shoes which he received from home are all used up. His old shoes which he gave to Castles last May are all used up. Castles old shoes which he gave to Lieutenant Williamson to be used as repair material for his own shoes are all used up. His are just as bad as mine now. If we lose the next battle, it will be because after we whip them and they run, we cannot follow them.

On the other side of the scales, our rations are at least adequate in not abundant. We have added a good deal of corn to our diet. Not all of it was fully ripe and several of us have suffered for it. The trickle of packages from home have ceased. I suspect the army's postal system cannot keep up with us and might have lost us altogether. We will just have take supplies from the Yankees. I bet they have sardines.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Jackson is our general."

Saturday, August 9, 1862, near Culpeper, Virginia

I am so very tired as are the rest of us. From under this tree where I sit, I can see that so many of the boys have gone to sleep right where they collapsed. I shall join them very soon.

The four of us, Castles, Hancock, Duncan and myself had to light from the train at Gordonsville and make our way by foot, trying to catch up to our regiment. We could judge the way by the stragglers we encountered. We rested infrequently and ate little. Whatever action the regiment was marching towards we did not want to miss. We finally caught up with everyone at Orange Court House late in the night.

Corporal Flynn seemed glad to see us. From him and Sergeant Harper we learned that our brigade, under General Gregg, was part of the division of General A. Powell Hill. He is known for wearing a red shirt into battle. He must know that wearing such a thing makes him a target. Hill's division, along with that of General Ewell, now make up Jackson's wing of Lee's army. Jackson is our general. Jackson is making a march on their General Pope whose army is rumored to be near Culpeper Court House.

Whatever plans Jackson had were not agreed to by the Yankees for they attacked us at Cedar Mountain. Our brigade was detailed to guard the supply train against a possible raid by Yankee cavalry. Our General Gregg was fit to blow up and he "requested" to be allowed to fight but this was denied. The rest of the wing took on the enemy and beat them back without us. The march then resumed in the direction of this place, near Culpeper.

Although we are disappointed at having missed the battle, we know that our turn will come again someday.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Our train leaves tomorrow."

Tuesday, August 5, 1862, Richmond

Our little visit to Richmond would seem to be nearing its end. Chambers told us four today that we now have orders to report back to our regiment which is now in Gordonsville.  None of us had a clue that the entire brigade was marched from camp south of the city to the depot of the Virginia Central Rail Road where it boarded trains for that city. We inquired as to the reason for the brigade's move. Was McClellan threatening Richmond again? Was Pope moving on us from the north? Where is Lee's main army? No one knew anything.

We have had some fun here. There were no unpleasant actions while we were on guard. No one made any trouble for us. No one was shooting at us which is a very good thing but all of us are missing our friends and do not want to miss any action should there be any. Every man and every musket is needed up front.

Today, Hancock and I wandered into the city's center when we got off of guard mount to search for something good to eat.We returned to the market where we had purchased some hams some days ago but all that we came away with were some onions and peas.

We did come across the photography studio of Mr. Rees on Main Street. Both of us had our likenesses taken against a backdrop of a campscene drawn on a piece of canvas. We tried to look fierce but probably looked more like famished.

It was when we returned to the depot that we were informed of our future railroad trip. Chambers gave each of us a package from the depot that were addressed to our regiment. The packages were all from relief societies. We shall see what contents of these bundles actually arrive at their intended destination. Our train leaves tomorrow.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"They were named Lily and Hortense"

Thursday,  August 2, 1862, Richmond

For three days, now, I have been useless to anyone including myself. There is no one to blame but this poor soul who knew better. There was too much temptation and I, weak, puny man that I am, succumbed and must pay the price.

Hancock indulged in the same bill of fare at the hotel that I did and he seems just superb for it. There is no doctor here at the depot but there was one across the street at the Georgia Relief and Hospital Association's own depot on the same street and that is where this whole trouble began some days ago with two women.

Hancock and I were standing outside our depot, under arms. Ever since we four arrived here, we noticed the number of women, and a few girls, come and go from the Georgia & c. depot. Of course, we thought, they were employed there in some sort of capacity benefitting their depot. On occasion, one of a party would wave and haloo to us. We snapped to attention and tried to look very martial. We talked of things that men talk about but they have no place here. We resolved ourselves that a simple greeting from a lady would be all the conversation we would have from them.

Then the cattle stampeded. It was the twenty-fifth of last month. Hancock and I had finished out first guard mount of the day and were walking away from our depot towards the center of the city again in search of a decent meal. As we walked, Hancock observed what he said were the sounds of many cattle. I thought him suffering from hunger in the brain and told him such as I heard nothing. As we continued to walk, I thought that I did hear some such noise but dismissed it even as Hancock insisted that the sounds were actual.

We turned a corner and came face-to-fave with a drove of cattle. Hancock exclaimed loudly, "Tooms, we have died and gone to Heaven. This is our reward, all ours." I muse admit a certain feeling of disbelief but the sounds and especially the smells could not be denied. The idea that we might soon have fresh beef made us ignore the two ladies walking towards us.

It was evident that both of them were uncomfortable with the close proximity of the cattle. The drove did have a "cavalry escort" but even so, some of the beeves were unruly. One of the ladies screamed and her scream did nothing to pacify the cattle. The two ladies walked faster and broke into a trot when one of the beeves strode upon the sidewalk right behind them. The ladies were probably in no danger but they did not know that.

Hancock slapped my shoulder and we ran towards the ladies. I grabbed one and threw her against a building wall perhaps a bit too hard. I interposed myself between the lady and the "horrible, brutish creature", as she called it and gave the future roast a good kick in the snoot and it turned away. Hancock performed some similar feat of rescue for the other lady.

After the cattle passed us by, we inquired about their well-being. They were both quite scared but said there was no harm done. I thought these ladies must have been raised in the city as country girls would not have acted like they did.. We made our introductions and they made theirs. They were named Lily and Hortense. As it turned out, these two were some of those we had seen previous working at the Georgia depot. We all laughed when they realized who we were, guards at the South Carolina Depot.

Hortense and Lily wished to express their thanks for being rescued and we said it was nothing. They insisted that such a deed of bravery committed by two gallant gentlemen should not go unrewarded. They mentioned that there was too be a charity ball held at the Exchange Hotel on Saturday night next and would we be their guests. A ball. Dancing and refreshments. Pretty ladies. O, but we were just high privates and balls were for officers and gentlemen with clean clothes and white gloves. We stated our plight but they would have none of it. If we could not attend as guests, we could be there as smart-looking guards at the entrance to the ballroom. We agreed and escorted the ladies a short distance before parting company.

We forgot that the original objective of our walk was to relieve our hunger and we returned to the depot to tell of our good fortune. Castles, Duncan and Chambers all said we were liars but Duncan noticed the smell of honeysuckle on Hancock and then they started to believe us. We excused ourselves as there was much work to do before the ball.

 Both our uniforms and our bodies needed sprucing up. My uniform required some sewing but not a great deal. Hancock convinced Castles to loan him his own jacket as it was in better shape. Castles was promised something good to eat for the loan. We "borrowed" two pairs of brogans. After our last guard mount of the day, we worked on our muskets and accoutrements before going to sleep.

The following day, we worked on ourselves. Chambers knew a negro barber who was brought in to cut our hair and shave our faces.  An hour before we were to assume our posts at the Exchange, we presented ourselves for inspection and were pronounced first rate. From Chambers, we received passes lest the Police Guard stop us.

We arrived and took our places without asking anyone anything. We looked as if we belonged there and we were not questioned by anyone. Indeed, several important-looking people complimented us on our superb martial bearing. We expressed thanks but neither of us cared a fig for their words. We were interested only in "our" ladies and the refreshment table.

Lily and Hortense did appear, each on the arm of very pompous well-liveried gentlemen whose names I did not bother to commit to memory. At least the ladies were gracious enough to introduce us to the gentlemen as their rescuers.

The band struck up some patriotic airs and some people gave the proper speeches. Then the ball began and we stood guard, feasting on many sights and plotting on some real feasting. With so much going on, no one was paying much attention to us. As Hancock's uniform looked better than mine, he braved the crowd to make a frontal assault on the refreshments while the dancing was on. The negro servants in suits working the refreshment tables accepted Hancock's word that he was a colonel and would be taking some food out to the two guards. He was given a large silver tray piled with sandwiches of several types. Somehow, he managed to acquire a bottle of champagne. We ate our fill and Hancock went back for more which was secured in our haversacks.

When all was finished, we said our goodbyes and took our leaves of the ladies. It was well into the night when we returned to our depot. All three of our pards questioned us on any and everything we saw and heard, and ate. From our haversacks we produced enough food that all five of us had a very decent meal.

And now I suffer. I cannot prove that it was something that I ate as Hancock is fit as a fiddle. For whatever reason, my bowels are in revolt and there will be no sleep tonight. It was worth it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"...the sleep of the fat and happy."

Wednesday, July 24, 1862, Richmond

The excitement of doing something new has worn off. All we do is stand, under arms, at the entrance to the South Carolina Depot. We look threatening and vigilant but really, it is quite humdrum. I find it difficult to stay awake and so does Hancock. We watch but all we see are wagons coming and going. Sometimes they come in loaded from one of the railroad depots, loaded with supplies for South Carolina troops. The supplies will be kept in this depot warehouse until they shall be disbursed to the troops in the field. Most often, the supplies coming by rail are loaded into the wagons at the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad depot as it is through that railroad that the most direct connections to the Palmetto State may be affected.

When we are not standing and standing and standing, we sleep a good deal on the mealy bags. We have three hours off our duty to explore and have some entertainment and excitement. At the end of our guard mount, it takes considerable will to turn a deaf ear to the sweet call of sleep.

Today, however, the calls of hunger drowned out all pleadings of sleep. We are not actually hungry. There is enough to eat here even if it is a little-varied menu. In addition to the salt pork and hard crackers, we do get some beef and a few onions. There are no pies, cakes or other delicacies. We cannot help but look upon the many bundles and boxes at the depot and wonder what sweet treats might be contained within. But we are soldiers and must do our duty. Stealing is not doing our duty.

After our mount early this afternoon, Hancock and I vowed we would sacrifice our sleep and venture forth from the depot and search for victuals that normal folks consume. We had heard that the Exchange Hotel at the corner of Fourteenth and Franklin put on a good feed so off we went, promising to bring back something for Castles and Duncan.

This was our first time seeing the city and what a grand sight it was. This is a big city, numbering 38,000 souls I am told. The buildings are big and tall, some as tall as four stories. The traffic in the streets is busy and crowded. We saw drays, broughams, Concords, runabouts, runaways and phaetons. Many of the omnibusses sported liveries for the many hotels in the city. As we were not exhaulted enough, we went on foot.

There are so many uniforms here. Uniforms by the hundreds walked and rode everywhere. Hancock said he thought he saw everything from the common private to a field marshall. We were stopped twice had had our papers examined by members of the police guard. Having our papers with us and knowing private Henry Chanbers kept us from spending a most uncomfortable night in the stockade.

We arrived at our goal, the Exchange Hotel. Boldly we entered, fully expecting that within moments we would eat ourselves into a state of intoxication. A big negro in a fancy black suit of clothes interrupted our stride and politely but very firmly asked us to leave. He stated that we were not the proper sort of folks that would find our stay a very pleasant one. There were two of us and together we made one of him. We might have made an issue of it and a mess of him but behind him were regiments of officers with more gold on their sleeves than Midas had in his temple. We promised our two comrades we would not return empty-handed so for their sakes, we retreated in search of something other than a prison cell.
We left muttering what we would do to that blackguard if we had our muskets and bayonets.

Not far from the Exchange was the First Market, on Seventeenth. All sorts of foodstuffs were there for sale to those who had money. Everything was very expensive. We had no idea that the war had caused such inflating of prices but we had some money and there was that promise to Castles and Duncan. I had been hoping for some fresh fruit but it was too early in the season to find much other than some peaches picked too early and some poor-looking plums. There were greens and onions and peas in abundance. I would have charged a Yankee gun for a sweet watermelon.

We had exhausted most of what little money we had on greens, onions and one mincemeat pie when we smelled bacon. Two stalls down from us we saw several hams hanging along with assorted game and fowl. The stall keeper saw out longing stares and called us over. He was a Dutchman and praised us in his thick language for being patriots. He said that he had come over from Europe after the failed revolutions of 1848. After that he said that he had a special price for those who wore the grey in defense of heighmatt, which I think is home in his mother tongue. Even with his "special price", it was far beyond our miserable depleted resources.

I was not about to go back and face our pards with greens and onions so I gritted my teeth and reached into my pocket for a gold quarter-eagle. The expression on that Dutchman's face closed the deal without a word being said. We left his stall with three hams. We would feast.

Whilst returning to the depot, more savory smells assaulted our nostrils. They were coming from the American Hotel on Twelfth and Main. We should have gone straight back to the depot but we still had not eaten anything and we had foolishly left the mincemeat pie with the Dutchman. Rather than go in through the front door and face the sale fate as happened with the Exchange, we went to the back as it seemed that the smells were originating there.

We were stopped by two negroes, who we took for "employees" of the American, named Samson and Horace. We explained that we were hungry and that the smells from their kitchen attracted us to the back of the hotel. We offered one of the hams to them if they would cook one for us. They listened not and ordered us away.

No sooner had we turned away than a stout negro wench came flying out of the doorway brandishing a most deadly weapon, a wooden spoon. This was a spoon as stout as the warrior wielding it. It looked as if she could drive nails with it and we watched as she stuck it under the nose of Horace and threatened the both of them with dastardly punishments if they got between her and our hams. The boys cowered and she bade us come into the kitchen which was in a building separate from the hotel. She said she was called Eliza.

She took one ham and sliced it up into thick steaks quicker than one of Jeb Stuart's troopers can slice a Yankee. She took our greens and onions and threw them into an already boiling pot. Fresh-baked bread and sweet butter graced the table. Soon, all of us, Samson and Horace included, ate and ate and ate. I was in such pain and did not mind a bit. If I had died right then and there, I would have died happy. We left the peaches and plums with Eliza, exchanging them for one of her pies. We left them with one ham and many thanks for a fine, fine meal. We gave Eliza ten dollars Confederate which was all the paper money we had and I gave her thirty cents, silver. She looked amazed and she gave me a big kiss on the cheek. Then it was my turn to look anazed. Samson and Horace just roared.

We were quite late returning to the depot and Castles and Duncan were very cross with us for not relieving them. We produced the last ham and Eliza's pie and they turned silent. We took over the watch from them and they took their loot to the back of the depot. We heard laughter, squeals and the giggles as made by young girls. All of us will sleep the sleep of the fat and happy tonight.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"There are newspapers here...

Tuesday, July 22, 1862, Richmond

We arrived at the South Carolina Depot somewhat late thanks to our mishap with the wagon wheel. While Essex watered the mules, Chambers took the four of us and handed us over to an officer who quickly passed us on to a corporal who inspected our orders and gave us back to Chambers. We are to act as guards for the Depot to ensure that no supplies go to unworthy hands. We are not to assist in loading or unloading any wagons or in any other form of manual labor. Our sole interest is to be wary and on guard at all times. Two of us stand guard under arms for three hours and then are relieved by the other two for three hours. We return for a second round of guard duty and hen the other two do the same. At the end of a total of twelve hours, the Depot is closed and two of us may do as we please while the other two stay inside the locked Depot.

We arrived almost at closing time so all four of us stood guard to get all of us broken in before tomorrow. We have a space towards the rear of the building where we have placed our blankets and haversacks. I am sitting on a bag of meal and think that one or two more of these will make for a fine mattress. The Depot is located on the south side of Main Street between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets.

There are newspapers here and much to read. The Daily Dispatch of the nineteenth carries a report that says that the Yankees on Hilton Head Island are raising a regiment of negroes from that area. There is also a piece about the Yankees being in Janesville in Lee County.

Today's edition of the same newspaper has a story quoting a Northern source concerning the size of their army. It is stated that there are more than 600,000 Yankees out to subjigate us with another 300,000 on the way. It concerns us little. The more Yankees there are against us, the easier it will be to hit them when we shoot. I will save these newspapers and any others that may come our way. The rest of the boys back in camp will want to read these.

We arrived too late to be fed but Essex did find a few biscuits for us. We combined them with what we brought in our haversacks and called it first rate. If we are lucky, all of us will get a chance to sample whatever edible fares may be nearby. Just what else is there that we may indulge in?