Sunday, June 30, 2013

" on our best manners".

Tuesday, June 30, 1863, Cashtown, Pennsylvania.

This town is a mixed bag of those Yankees who hate us and those who tolerate us, but grudgingly. This is quite a contrast to our last halt, in Funkstown just across the border. There, we were spoiled. We arrived there on Saturday last and left there this morning. None of us expected to stay for any length of time but stay we did and we had a grand time.

When we first arrived, the company was halted and Lieutenant Stover read to us from General Lee's orders that we must all behave like gentlemen. Foraging parties were to be properly organized and operate under the command of a respectable officer. Items for use by the Confederate Army were to be paid for in our own money. Things not sold willingly were to be impounded and a receipt issued for payment later. We were told to be on our best manners. And then he turned his back on us.

Vincent, Will Crenshaw, Holton, Mathis, both Bill Bartons and myself declared ourselves to be a foraging party. We elected Mathis as our captain so we could legally operate under a respectable officer. Holton challenged the election on the grounds that Mathis was not respectable whereupon Mathis hit him but not hard.

Our first objective was to provision ourselves with whatever treats we could find. We knew that the first places that would be foraged by the other parties would be the grocers and butchers. We headed straight for a hotel we had passed on Baltimore Street. The proprietor was Benjamin South, a proper name, we thought. We knew that a hotel would serve victuals and might be overlooked by the other parties.

We entered the hotel and made our manners to Mr. South, in an official manner, of course. We represented ourselves as being a duly delegated party representing the Confederate government. His expression said that he did not believe us but he did believe our muskets. He bade us sit down at a long table with clean white linens. Mr. South inquired as to our preference of fare and we said bring us everything. We would pay for everything.

It was not too long before one of Mr. South's hired help brought out some bread. It was soft bread, still warm. Real butter was presented on a silver plate. We were told that this would tide us over until our meals arrived. I thought that Holton would swoon like a schoolgirl. We wanted to attack the bread and butter as if they were the enemy but did not want to give away that Lee's army was a bunch of rabble. It hurt us not to assault the bread.

About the same time that the bread disappeared, our meals made their appearance. Eggs. There were real eggs, from real chickens. Each of us was served a ham steak as big as our heads with potatoes and more butter. The last serving was a slice of apple pie with sugar and a slab of cheese on top. The seven of us paid Mr. South fifteen dollars each and left with profound thanks. We were walking in such a stupor that we neglected to fill our haversacks.

The longer we stayed the more it seemed that we would be staying longer. That convinced us to extend the range of our foraging activities. Cashtown was a place of shoemakers, weavers and tailors. We paid a visit to the establishment of Mr. Richard Kerfoot, shoemaker so that we may be better shod. Mr. Kerfoot was not there as he was in the army, our army as it was. I wondered if he might be somewhere hard by.

We inquired about shoes and offered to pay as was the rule. Mr. Kerfoot being absent, his relatives were running the store. They refused to take any payment for the shoes, stating that they were good, loyal Southerners and hoped that by helping us, the was would be won and Mr. Kerfoot would return home all the sooner. Vincent, Mathis and the Bill Bartons left the shop with new shoes, good marching shoes. There was nothing for the rest of us that would fit but they took tracings of our feet and said to come back in a day or two and we would have new shoes as well. We were very grateful  for their kindness.

On Sunday, which was the 28th, we decided that our uniforms needed cleaning and mending. We all wanted to look our best for when we crossed the Pennsylvania line. We found an old free colored woman called Mary Phenia who took in washing assisted by her three children. She looked at us in much the same way as a horse trader looks over a mare in order to determine if it is worth the bother. She consented and we gave her what we could and still remain mostly covered. She built a fire underneath a large iron kettle and began working her magic with a large cake of lye soap that we assumed she had made herself.

We knew that the laundry would take some time so we went in search of a seamstress. The first establishment we visited was run by a Mrs. Kretzer, a Dutch woman. She attacked us with a broom and used many words not fit for a lady. Poor Vincent was struck rather hard, his slouch being knocked from his head. Our next visit was received a bit more cordially. 

A Mrs. Muck met us at her door but I cannot say she greeted us. Unlike Mrs Kerfoot, this woman was all Union and let us know it. Nonetheless, she allowed us in. We gave her our jackets. Mathis and Holton had to go behind a modesty screen to remove their trousers for mending. If the Yankees had attacked us at that moment, we would have been hard-pressed to defend ourselves. Many missing buttons were replaced with whatever buttons she had in her drawers. When she finished, our uniforms were more sturdy and we did not care if we had a mismatch of buttons. We are rebels and care little for looking like bandbox soldiers.
We left her with a receipt to be honored later by our government. We could have given her  cash but we cared not for her rude taunts.

Our laundry was finished by the time we returned there from Mrs. Mucks. Colored Mary had washed, ironed and folded everything we had left her. Between all of us, we managed to scruff up eighty cents in Union hard money plus some bills of our own. She did not exactly wish us well but she did not d--- us to H--- so we liked her. We returned to camp and ate our rations supplied by our commisary. We pledged to return on the morrow to Mr. South's hotel for another fine meal. We might be ordered to the march at any time and who knows where the next decent repast might come from. There was also the matter of the shoes. 

The next morning, Monday, we suffered through morning formation waiting to be released to go foraging under our, "Captain", Mathis. Our visit to Mr. South's hotel was almost fruitless. Others had discovered what we had thought only we knew. Mr. South could only provide us with some gruel and a little state cheese which we consumed with satisfaction.

Holton wondered aloud if the same thing might have happened at the Kerfoot's shoe shop. We ate fast and hurredly went there. there were no shoes to be had. A real foraging party had taken everything. We left with nothing but the well-wishes of the Kerfoot family. We wished them a rapid reunion with Mr. Kerfoot.

When we left Funkstown this morning, there were few of the citizens who saw us off. Sometime today, I do not know where, we passed into Pennsylvania. We marched not a long while before halting here in Cashtown. This is an unplesant place. There are no friends here. There is little to forage for as others in this army have already beat us to everything. To our great surprise, a ration of whiskey was issued to all ranks. I gave my ration to Vincent as his head was still suffering from the attack of that Dutch woman.

It is our turn to do picket duty tonight. I am writing this from the glow of our picket fire as the others stand watch. No one is worried about the Yankees. If there were any within one hundred miles of this place, that dashing cavilieer Stuart would warn us. Corporal Flynn came by to check on us. He said that the Yankee papers are saying that Hooker was out and A General Meade was in as commander of their army. I know nothing about him but General Lee will figure him out and take care of him like all the rest.

The corporal said that he heard that there were orders for us to march to Gettysburg tomorrow. Perhaps there will be food and shoes.

I Send You These Few Lines

Boom and bust, boom and bust. That's what it seem like in this diary story and to some extent, that is true. Confederate troops went through periodic cycles of poverty and abundance. Most of the abundance came to them courtesy of the other side, be it from capturing Union wagon trains or supply depots, or taking what's available in enemy territory. Letters from Confederate soldiers during the Gettysburg campaign say much about the abundance of resources, particularly foodstuffs in Union territory. Some even wondered how so much bounty could exist in the absence of slaves. Yesterday, Tooms and his pards were privated. Today they gorge themselves. Tomorrow they could be dead.

All the people, the citizens of Funkstown,  Benjamin South, the Richard Kerfoot family, Elizabeth Muck, Mary Phenia and Eliza Kretzer are real. They are all mentioned in the 1860 census for Washington County, MD. Tooms' description of Funkstown as a town of shoemakers, weavers and tailors is correct. George Cook, John Snyder, O.H. Snyder,Peter Ganty, Joseph Harper and Mathias Clark were a few of the shoemakers in Funkstown. Samuel Knight and George Dietrich were weavers. Mary Kemp and her son, Hiram were spinners along with Mary Kemp. Micheal Fouke was a dyer. Louisa McCoy and Elizabeth Muck were seamstresses while Ann Crawford, Margaret Snyder and Sydney Handle, a female, were tailoresses.

By this time, Lee and his commanders are aware that there has been a shakeup in the leadership of the Army of the potomac. Joseph Hooker is out and George Meade is in as army commander. Meade had commanded V Corps; the new commander is George Sykes. Darius Couch of II Corps has been relieved by Winfield Scott Hancock. Less senior officers, too many to list here, were promoted.

For much of this campaign, soldiers on both sides have been marching over mcadamized turnpikes. This type of improved road surface, developed in the early part of the 19th century by John McAdam, featured a layer of 3" stones with a layer of 3/4" on top. These stones made for easy going for horse-drawn wagons but not for foot traffic. Even taking into account that many of the stones would be broken up by wagon wheels, this kind of surface tears up both shoes and feet. Any reenactor of any time period who wears leather-soled shoes will verify this.

According to army supply tables for both sides, each soldier was supposed to be issued four pair of shoes, or one pair every three months. This allowance is inadequate under combat conditions.  The Confederacy, being the least able to take care of its' armies in the field, will feel the effects of a poorly-shod army. Factor in long marches on rocky roads and the problem can degrade an army's ability to fight. Napoleon said that an army marches on its' stomach. Perhaps so, but it marches further if it has shoes.

Are there shoes in Gettysburg?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"...the prettiest senoritas..."

Thursday, June 25, 1863, Maryland, near Hagerstown.

Today, we crossed the Potomac into Maryland. In the rotation of brigades in the march, it was our brigade that led the division across the river. I hope they heard us cheering in Washington. We will be there soon enough, if Lee wills it.

We were here last September, in this Maryland. I remember that we entered what we thought was a fellow Southern state, held prisoner in the old Union by bayonets. We were deluded in thinking that we would or could liberate these people. While these was a good amount of sympathy from some of these citizens, the overall reception was one of reserved indignation. I do not care a fig if these people ever are liberated.

Back in the Mex War, when I was with the First Virginia, I can remember a different reception. There were several companies of the First around Buena Vista. I think it was in '47. I should have kept a diary then like I am now. The local people there were next to jubilant when we occupied the town. The dictator, Santa Anna, ruled all Mexico with an iron fist and we had freed them from the yolk yoke. Banditry had vanished and there was peace.

The peace lasted until one of us got into it with one of them and I do not mean the Mexicans. There was a cantina there called the Azul Coyote. Several of us were there, Charlie Thompson, Cal Smith, Sparrel Jones, Bart Adams, Bill Johnson and myself. There may have been others but these few are all I can remember. The fare was tortias, friholes and aguardiente. There were the prettiest senoritas and that is where all the trouble began.

One of the Mexican maidens, Contessa, perhaps, caught the eye of Cal Smith. Cal, having inbibed at the well a bit too much, fancied that this maiden fancied him. Bill, at the well, too, fancied that she fancied him. Cal and Bill started talking and got louder. One shoved the other who shoved back. It was not too bad until Cal, from Rockingham County, Virginia. insulted the outsider, Bill, a Marylander from Baltimore. 

That was what set off the powder keg. There were many Marylanders in our Virginia regiment and once the gauntlet was thrown to the floor, the population of the cantina split into us and them. The fight was on. Anything that could be broken, was broken. The breakage was not limited to the furniture or glassware. Jaws and teeth and perhaps an arm or two fell to angry blows or flying bottles. In dodging away from one bottle, I ran into another and suffered a cut across my forehead. Some of the Mexicans, in trying to stop us from further damaging the cantina, were damaged themselves and gave as good as they got.

The provosts were summoned, who came with fixed bayonets and used their muskets as clubs to stop the fight. All of us were ordered to make good the damages. The cantina owner received some three hundred dollars. He could have bought a hotel with that.

As we were from several companies, the provosts took us to our respective captains. After our Captain Bankhead threatened to bury us in the sand and pour honey over our heads, he took us, still under provost guard, to pay a visit to see Major Early, the adjutant. Captain Corse and his miscreants were here as was Lieutenant Garnett, assistant to Early.

Before the war, while working as a schoolteacher in Franklin County, Virginia, I had made the aquaintence of Early. I cannot say that we were friends but we knew each other to a certain extent. 

The Major proceeded to dress down every one of us guilty folks in a manner that would melt an iceberg. Captain Bankhead was nervous and he was not being addressed. Then Early looked straight at me. "Tooms!", he said. I remember nothing after that. Cal said later that I had turned white. Early threatened to put all of us to the lash which would have been less painful than his verbal lashing. We were then dismissed and nothing else was said or done to us. At one point in this tirade, Quartermaster Kemper stuck his head through the window to listen. He had a habit of making his presence known.

That was some sixteen years and a thousand miles ago. If my feet could talk, they would say that they have marched a thousand miles since leaving Fredericksburg. Many of us are suffering from brogans that are shy of uselessness. Too many of us are barefoot and hurting. Between the shoes and the Sun, it has proven too much for some and they have fallen away. They will catch up to us some time. Whatever expedition we are engaged in, no one wants to miss it. We are all cheerful even in a state of pain.

Before we left Fredericksburg, I managed to acquire a spare pair of brogans. My intention was to wear my old ones until it became necessary to replace them with the new ones. On this march, I have been offered tidy sums to sell them but I have refused all. Vincent offered me one hundred dollars, Confederate, for my old ones. I cannot, in good conscience, profit from some unfortunate's poor circumstances. 

Somewhere near Summit Point, I gave my old brogans to Vincent and donned my new ones which were not really new. Vincent threw his old ones by the side of the road as being worthless. Quickly, Bill Crenshaw picked them up and put them on over his bare, bleeding feet. He was so happy. Holton gave him his spare pair of socks and one would think that Bill had won the lottery.

It is with men like this that we will take the war to the enemy and win our freedom.

I Send You These Few Lines

All the people that Tooms mentions in his Mexican memories had served in the 1st Virginia Regiment during the Mexican War. James L. Kemper, Montgomery Corse, Jubal Early and Thomas  S. Garnett went on to serve in the Civil War. Kemper, a politician, was a brigade commander under George Pickett and was wounded during Pickett's Charge. He later became Governor of Virginia.

Corse took over command of Pickett's brigade after the latter was promoted to divisional command. Corse and his brigade missed Gettysburg as they were assigned to guard duty near Hanover Court House. Early was known for his colorful language at every level of command he  was given. Lee called him his, "bad old man". Garnett commanded the Stonewall Brigade until he was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville. Both Lee and Jackson and many, many others who served in the Mexican War served in the subsequent American War.

The route taken by Tooms and A. P. Hill's corps from the last entry, if taken today, would run through White Post to Berryville towards Smithfield which has long since been renamed Middleway in Jefferson County, WVA.  About Middleway (Smithfield), WVA State 480 runs to Shepardstown on the Potomac River. During the war, 480 was known as the Smithfield-Shepardstown Pike. It is at Shepardstown that the Potomac was forded into Maryland on the 25th. I think.

I say I think because in the absence of field work, which would be exceedingly fantastic and well beyond my humble means, I am dependent on the work of other researchers who disagree with each other.

For instance, Harry Pfanz, in "Gettysburg, the First Day", says that Hill's corps crossed the Potomac on the 25th at Shepardstown. Glenn Tucker, in, "High Tide at Gettysburg", says Hill crossed on the 24th at Williamsport. J.F.C. Caldwell, writing in, "A Brigade of South Carolinians", says the crossing took place on the 25th but not where.

This is just some of what makes history fun. It is the thrill of the chase, the research, and then the fireworks at the discovery. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"...stripped down to his drawers."

Saturday, June 20, 1863, above Front Royal, Virginia

We in this army are in top spirits. We do not know where we are going save that it is north. Those of us who were in on the Maryland campaign of last year have remarked that this new advance is so much similar to the one of last year. We all are of the opinion that we are forcing Hooker to abandon his efforts to capture Richmond. We believe that Lee is leading Hooked on a merry chase through the countryside. At a time and place of Lee's choosing, he will turn us loose to savage the Yankees and chase them all the way to Washington. Then we will be free.

The Shenandoah is behind us. We crossed it today just after we passed through Front Royal. We are camped not far from the crossing. Everyone is busy trying to dry themselves out. The area in which we are camped is lit up with so many, many fires. Wednesday, after marching through Culpeper Court House, it rained. Thursday, at Gaine's Crossroads, it rained. Yesterday, we went through Chester Gap in the rain. We have not had ten hours in the last four days where it has not rained on us. Sneezing and wheezing are common in camp. 

Will Crenshaw and Vincent are already asleep. I am sure they are not quite dry. Bill Barton, Senior is stripped down to his drawers while roasting his clothes over a fire. Bill, Junior is trying to boil some coffee over the same fire. Mathis has something wrapped around his ramrod and is cooking it in the same fire. Holton is washing his sore feet. Lieutenant Stover just left here, having inquired about us. It is well that he is back. I hope that he will be promoted to captain as is befitting one who is in charge of a company.

We have eaten quite well of late. The valley of the Shenandoah is a fine place to be. Much grows here. The apples are not quite ripe which is a shame as apples from these parts are very good. Some of the boys have yielded to their inferior natures and have consumed unripe apples. They will see Assistant Surgeon Keith soon enough.

My supper tonight, along with several others in the mess, consisted of soft bread, the kind made from real wheat flour. There were onions aplenty, several ears of corn and pork steaks. The people in Front Royal were generous to us. As we passed through the town, many of the citizens greeted us with smiles as broad as the brim of a hat. There were many of our flags in evidence. They pressed foodstuffs into our hands as we marched by and wished us to damage the Yankees. I fear the corn was a bit under-ripe but it tasted first-rate at the time.

From the time that we left the area around Fredericksburg, the citizens of the towns through which we pass have treated us well. We know they do not have much but they are willing to share with, "their boys". I have seen more than a handful of hams marching ahead of me on bayonets. We suspect things will become more bountiess once we cross into the bluelands. 

I believe that it is the Valley Turnpike upon which we march. It is surfaced in the McAdam style and is quite modern. The boys without shoes find the going very rough.

Now that we are on the western side of the mountains, we are shielded from observation by the Yankees. Stuart's critter boys will guard the passes and keep the Yankees at bay until Lee decides to invite them to at dance at which we will lead.

I Send You These Few Lines:

It is true that Lee has stolen a march on Hooker. Hooker did not abandon his position opposite Fredericksburg until after Lee's last troops started their march northward. Hooker does not know where Lee is going or why. He would like to penetrate the mountains and see what's on the other side but Confederate cavalry prevent this by securing the various gaps.

Tooms doesn't know it but the cavalry guarding the mountain gaps is not Jeb Stuart's. Stuart is supposed to keep Lee informed as to the location of Hooker's army. However, Stuart has managed to isolate himself from a position from which he can forward intelligence to Lee.

Tooms thinks that he's on the Valley Turnpike which is largely US11 and I-81 today. In modern terms, Tooms and the Twelfth were on US522 from Culpeper through Chester Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains and into Front Royal where it intersects with US 340 coming north out of Luray, Virginia. North of Front Royal, the two US highways run concurrently. At the time of the Gettysburg Campaign, US340 was the Front Royal Pike which Tooms thinks is the Valley Turnpike.

It's an honest mistake. The two pikes are constructed along the fairly recent McAdam pattern of large stones building up to smaller stones. The Southern Army will march many miles on surfaced pikes. This will be a factor in the campaign, to be revealed later.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Today we crossed the Rapidan"

Monday, June 15, 1863, near Ely's Ford

Today was a very long day. We were aroused early without a great deal of fanfare. We knew something was going to happen soon as last night we were instructed to cook three days worth of rations. Corporal Flynn came buy as were were cooking to inquire, as he has done so often these past several days, if our cartridge boxes were full. Some had gone hunting against regulations and the missing cartridges will be deducted from their pay, whenever we get paid again.

We kept up the illusion of presence right up to the very last minute before going on the march. False fires were still burning in camp as if we were still there. So long as this deception keeps the Yankees in place across the Rappahannock, it is worth any amount of firewood.

As we marched, we kept a keen eye out for mounted Yankee patrols but saw none. The only Yankees we saw all day were those few in picket duty across the river and as it was so early in the morning, only the light from their own fires allowed us to see their shadowy shapes. We are fairly certain that we shall see many more before too long. They might not want to see us.

Our route of march took us through the battlefields around Chancellorsville. As our regiment was detached from the brigade to guard wagons and prisoners, we did not recognize very much of what we saw. Let some other regiment be detailed to play at being nursemaid. The Twelfth is going to fight this time.

All day long we foot soldiers were speculating on the purpose of our march and the ultimate destination. We know that we are bearing in a generally north-east direction. If we are to flank Hooker and attack his right as happened at Chancellorsville, we are too far away for that. We might be making a very wide swing but that does not seem likely at this point. besides, Longstreet and Ewell having left camp almost two weeks after we did, they would have already come all the way around Hooker. Although we know from past experience that no amount of speculation does any good, we do it anyway as if we could not help ourselves. 

Today, we crossed the Rapidan and got wet by doing so. As always, we lost time while taking off our shoes and socks and placing our muskets and cartridges boxes in safety above our heads. We lost time on the other side as we put ourselves back together again. The more impatient of us strode across the ford without making any adjustments and then they found themselves walking in wet shoes and socks. They regretted it very much. During my time in the Mexican War, I do not recall fording a single waterway. I do not recall much in the way of water. We fill our canteens as often as the opportunity allows as it is becoming quite hot.

At the moment, we are all across Ely's Ford and camped out on the hills. Our super supper is all consumed. It was nothing more than hardtack and salt pork. I did have one small onion, which I shared with Vincent. At least the water was fresh. I wish Castles, Duncan, Lyles and the rest were here. They will be sorry that they missed this great maneuver. Perhaps they will come up with the people following us. Corporal Flynn has come by to advise us to get to sleep early as we will be leaving early tomorrow. Who can sleep at a time like this? 

I Send You These Few Lines

Well , it has started. What the it is has yet to be made clear but something has started and if it involves Lee's entire army, it has to be big. And if Lee has anything to say about it, the, "it", will be bold. Lee can do nothing else. 

Tooms and his pards can speculate all they want to about future events. Nothing will be revealed until the future becomes the present. 

Tooms laments his missing comrades. According to muster rolls at the National Archives, Company I, the Lancaster Hornets, 88 men were in the company. For an infantry company in the Army of Northern Virginia at that time in the war, that's a good number. The entire regiment, the 12th, went into the campaign with 390 men. Authorized strength would be 1,000. The entire brigade, Perrin's, should number 5,000. It really numbers 2,010.

However, of those 88 men, 29 were absent, either due to sickness or being detailed to other duties. Only 59 men were present for duty.

Tooms speculated that his missing comrades would come up with those others following behind. What he doesn't know is that the only people who could be coming up from behind would be wearing blue suits. 

In general terms, the route of march of Tooms and the Twelfth (sounds like a rock band) is the Orange Plank Road west from Fredericksburg, mostly VA State Route 3 today. At about Chancellorsville, they took Ely's Ford Road (Spotsylvania County 610), crossing the Rapidan River at the Spotsylvania/Culpeper County line.

Hill's corps was the last to be on the march. Of Hill's three division's, Pender's was the last to leave. That's where Tooms and the 12th are. They are the rear guard of Lee's army. Once Hooker finds out that Lee has stolen a march on him, he might follow along the same route. If he catches up, there will be a battle north of Richmond instead of a battle...where?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"...French unmentionable..."

Monday, June 8, 1863, Hamilton's Crossing, Virginia

There has been many events of late. I have had to borrow some ink from Mathis and I still am in danger of running out. 

The army has left here; at least a good part of it. There was no announcement from the officers. It is just something that we have had to figure out for ourselves from evident circumstances. Before I begin to detail what has happened, it is perhaps necessary to explain something else that has happened earlier, lest it have a bearing on what has happened since.

There has been a great shaking -up of the entire army, perhaps made necessary by the death of our Jackson. General Lee's army had been just two corps, or wings, Longstreet's and our Jackson's. Now there are three corps. Longstreet has kept his. Another one, the Second, has been created and given to General Richard Ewell, a man that I must confess I know little enough about. A new corps, the Third, has been given to our former division commander, General Hill. His old division, the Light Division, is now under Dorsey Pender. 

The shaking continues. General McGowan still has not recovered from his wounds sustained during the great victory at Fredericksburg. Abner Perrin, of the 14th, runs the brigade and Colonel Miller runs our regiment. I am not fully aprised of the entire change of affairs. I understand that the wonderful Stonewall Brigade has been stripped from Hill's Light Division for duty elsewhere. I am but a high private and certainly not privy to the higher thinking of generals.

Longstreet is gone, with his entire force, where we do not know. Ewell is gone as well. We have observed the Yankees pickets on the river's opposite shore and we presume all Hooker's army is still there. Is another flank move in the works? And if not, where have Longstreet and Ewell gone? Again, it is not for those like me to wonder but just to follow orders like good soldiers.

A very few days ago, the brigade was put on the road to march to this place. Here, we erected breastworks in anticipation of a Yankee attack. Since taking up residence at this place, there has been one such attack but not against this brigade. It happened on the Port Royal road and was repulsed. It was probably just one of those probing affairs started to see if we are still here. They got their nose beaten for their trouble.

The new schedule for picket duty calls on one company from each regiment to man the line for an entire day. Our Company I finished this morning when we turned the picket over to the Campbell Rifles of Company A. They are good gentlemen.

This is a dangerous game. Our numbers are too few to adequately guard against a Yankee raid. What makes the situation worse is that many of us on picket have spent our time building and then tending to campfires where there are no camps. One does not have to be an officer to realize that there is a great game here. We are pretending to be the entire army and by doing so, are holding Hooker in place until General Lee's great plan is revealed.

Should the Yankees decide to again dance with us, they will lead and we must follow. There are so few of us here what with sickness and being detailed away. The company probably does not have forty muskets represented on the line. I can only assume that the brigade suffers in a similar manner.

If anything is to happen, we are well-supplied to take care of it. Our cartridge boxes are full if not our bellies. The company is clothed decently but not lavishly. Over the winter, we would have benefitted from a general issue of overcoats. Now that it is warmer, there  is no pressing need for an overcoat. Perhaps someone in Richmond will spend his time this summer in procuring overcoats for us before the next winter gets here. I still have my good blanket and thank my lucky stars for it.

There have been few packages from the home folks of late. I had the good fortune to run across Mr. Pickle who brought a very few packages from his warehouse in Richmond. Some of us in the company were given new socks and some shirts and drawers. There were no jackets or trousers or anything to put atop one's head. The worst of it was that there was not a morsel to eat.

Holton and myself were discussing the other day something called a biscuit. We both agreed that we had heard of such a thing but could not figure out what one was. Bill Barton, Junior heard our conversation and came over to jaw with us. He said he heard that it was a French unmentionable worn by their elegant ladies. We left it at that. 

I Send You These Few Lines:

Tooms is right, for once. Lee's army has gone on a trip to...? The corps of Longstreet and Ewell have already left their camps on the south side of the Rappahannock. Tooms and his pards don't know it yet but their time is coming.

It is part of the aftermath of the Battle of Chancellorsville fought this past May. Hooker's Army of the Potomac, having been badly bloodied during that battle, is is a rest and refit mode, strictly defensive. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had the momentum and the advantage of being winners and all the morale points that comes with it. It's time Lee's people took a trip.

Leaving Hill behind and hoping that he can impersonate the entire army is a bit of a gamble but gambling is what Lee is about. 

The reader may remember Mr. Pickle from a previous diary post. This is Obidiah Pickle, field agent for the Central Association for the Relief of South Carolina Soldiers. People back home make or bake things for their boys at the front and give them to the Association. These things are then sent to the Association's warehouse in Richmond where Mr. Pickle takes them to the front for distribution.

The Confederacy is straining to outfit Lee for an extended absence.  There's something that neither Tooms nor his pards know about this little perambulation but that's for another diary entry.