Saturday, October 3, 2015

Major Wilder Dwight: Monday Evening, November 4, 1861

Monday Evening.

I did not finish my letter last night, as there was no mail out. This will go to-morrow. It takes no news, except that Colonel Andrews seems quite to have settled into a fever. The fever is by no means severe, but it may drag slowly along. There is nothing dangerous in his condition, only to be abed is not pleasant, and to be weak is miserable. I have got him very pleasantly fixed, and he has the best care that we can give him.  . . . . We have had drills today, and the usual incidents of camp life. Our family is having a little measles, but is otherwise well. We have fine, clear weather again, and a bright, hopeful new moon.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 137-8

Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler to Blanche Butler, March 25, 1861

LoweLL, March 25, '61

MY GOOD LITTLE BLANCHE: I was glad that your visit to Washington on the occasion of the Inauguration gave you so much pleasure. The apples too were very carefully put up that you might feel that father had not forgotten you. Your letters, neatly written, generally well composed, and correct in language please me much. The only drawback I have is your persistent quarrel with the Latin. You say that it will do you no good hereafter. You will allow, I know, that I am the better judge upon that point; and I assure you if I did not believe that in after life you would thank me for insisting upon your further pursuit of the language I would yield to your wish. Not to enter into a labored argument to prove its usefulness, will you remember that the Latin is the foundation of at least five of the modern languages most in use, as a part of our own language and a most powerful auxilliary to our own – that you may see how much we are in debt to it I have checked the words (thus) derived in whole or part from it. You will find your path so strewn with Latin flowers while you acquire the Spanish or the Italian that you will remember with pleasure the pain of Sister Augustine's teachings. I am much obliged to you for your “cards.” If you could fully appreciate a father's pride in the well doing of a darling child a new incentive would be added to the conscientious discharge of your duty which you now I believe most fully do.

Do not permit idle gossip of idle people to annoy you. While you do as well as you now do you can have no cause to fear anything however malicious. You see, I have written you precisely as if you were a “big girl” instead of a very little one, but you know I have always treated you more like a woman than a child, and have appealed to your good sense and judgment rather than to the childish motives of hope of reward or fear of chiding. I look forward with almost as much pleasure as you can do to our excursion which we shall have together in our vacation.


SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 14

Major-General John A. Dix to the Honorable Francis P. Blair,

Fort McHenry, August 31, 1861.

My Dear Sir, — I have received the letter of the Postmaster of Baltimore, with your endorsement, in regard to the Exchange and other Secessionist presses in that city.

I presume you are not aware that an order for the suppression of these papers was made out in one of the Departments at Washington, and, in consequence of strong remonstrances from Union men in Baltimore, was not issued. Under these circumstances it would not be proper for me to act without the authority of the Government. Any action by me without such authority would be improper for another reason that probably does not occur to you. The command of General McClellan has been extended over the State of Maryland. I am his subordinate, and have corresponded with him on the subject. I cannot, therefore, act without his direction.

But, independently of this consideration, I think a measure of so much gravity as the suppression of a newspaper by military force should carry with it the whole weight of the influence and authority of the Government, especially when the publication is made almost under its eye.

There is no doubt that a majority of the Union men in Baltimore desire the suppression of all the opposition presses in the city; but there are many, and among them some of the most discreet, who think differently.

The city is now very quiet and under control, though my force is smaller than I asked. There is a good deal of impatience among some of the Union men; they wish to have something done. The feeling is very much like that which prevailed in Washington before the movement against Manassas. It would not be difficult to get up a political Bull Run disaster in this State. If the Government will give me the number of regiments I ask, and leave them with me when I have trained them to the special service they may have to perform, I will respond for the quietude of this city. Should the time for action come, I shall be ready. In the mean time preparation is going on. I am fortifying Federal Hill under a general plan of defence suggested by me and approved by General Scott. Two other works will be commenced the moment I can get an engineer from Washington.

On the Eastern Shore there should be prompt and decisive action. I have urged it repeatedly and earnestly during the last three weeks. Two well-disciplined regiments should march from Salisbury, the southern terminus of the Wilmington and Delaware Railroad, through Accomac and Northampton Counties, and break up the rebel camps before they ripen into formidable organizations, as they assuredly will if they are much longer undisturbed. No man is more strongly in favor of action than I am; but I want it in the right place. We are in more danger on the Eastern Shore than in any other part of the State.

I am, dear Sir, sincerely yours,
John A. Dix.

SOURCE:  Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, Volume 2, p. 30-1

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Wednesday March 5, 1862

Fayetteville, Virginia. — Snow, raw weather. Rode with Dr. Joe four or five miles. The new horse doesn't seem to care for pistol firing. Open-air exercise agrees with me so well that I often feel as if an indoor life was unworthy of manhood; outdoor exercise for health I Read news of the 28th and [March] 1, Cincinnati. Rebel papers afford good reading these days.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 203

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 11, 1862

I have summed up the amounts of patriotic contributions received by the army in Virginia, and registered on my book, and they amount to $1,515,898.*

The people of the respective States contributed as follows:

North Carolina
South Carolina

* Virginia undoubtedly contributed more than any other State, but they were not registered.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113-4

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: December 27, 1864

Oh, why did we go to Camden? The very dismalest Christmas overtook us there. Miss Rhett went with us — a brilliant woman and very agreeable. '”The world, you know, is composed,” said she, “of men, women, and Rhetts” (see Lady Montagu). Now, we feel that if we are to lose our negroes, we would as soon see Sherman free them as the Confederate Government; freeing negroes is the last Confederate Government craze. We are a little too slow about it; that is all.

Sold fifteen bales of cotton and took a sad farewell look at Mulberry. It is a magnificent old country-seat, with old oaks, green lawns and all. So I took that last farewell of Mulberry, once so hated, now so beloved.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 340

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: August 10, 1863

Spent this morning in the house of mourning. Our neighbour Mrs. Stebbins has lost her eldest son. The disease was “that most fatal of Pandora's train,” consumption. He contracted it in the Western Army. His poor mother has watched the ebbing of his life for several months, and last night he died most suddenly. That young soldier related to me an anecdote, some weeks ago, with his short, oppressed breathing and broken sentences, which showed the horrors of this fratricidal war. He said that the day after a battle in Missouri, in the Fall of 1861, he, among others, was detailed to bury the dead. Some Yankee soldiers were on the field doing the same thing. As they turned over a dead man, he saw a Yankee stop, look intently, and then run to the spot with an exclamation of horror. In a moment he was on his knees by the body, in a paroxysm of grief. It was his brother. They were Missourians. The brother now dead had emigrated South some years before. He said that before the war communication had been kept up between them, and he had strongly suspected that he was in the army; he had consequently been in constant search of his brother. The Northern and Southern soldier then united in burying him, who was brother in arms of the one, and the mother's son of the other!

The Bishop and Mrs. J. returned home to-day from their long trip in the South-west. They travelled with great comfort, but barely escaped a raid at Wytheville. We welcomed them gladly. So many of our family party are wandering about, that our little cottage has become lonely.

Mr. C. has come out, and reports a furious bombardment of Sumter. This has been going on so long, that I begin to feel that it is indeed impregnable,

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 236-7

General Joseph E. Johnston to Senator Louis T. Wigfall, December 14, 1863

Brandon, Dec. 14th, 1863.
My dear Wigfall:

I see in the newspapers reports of resolutions of what is called the Mississippi campaign. One of them calling for the correspondence connected with it.

Let me suggest that the campaign really commenced in the beginning of December, 1862 — and that my connection with it dates from November 24th of that year — the day on which I was assigned to supervision of Bragg's, Pemberton's and Kirby Smith's Commands. If investigation is made it should include that time, to make it complete. Or if correspondence or papers are called for begin with the order of November 24th just referred to. At that time we had the means of preventing the invasion of Mississippi and those means were pointed out by me in writing, as well as orally, to the Secretary of War in your presence. Such a publication would justify me fully in the opinions of all thinking men. It would show that while it was practicable I proposed the true system of warfare. That I could not go to Mississippi sooner than I did, and that I was “too late” to repair the consequences of previous measures and never had the means of rescuing Vicksburg or its garrison.

Very truly yours,
J. E. Johnston.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 161-2

Diary of Sarah Morgan: August 19, 1862

Yesterday, two Colonels, Shields and Breaux, both of whom distinguished themselves in the battle of Baton Rouge, dined here. Their personal appearance was by no means calculated to fill me with awe, or even to give one an idea of their rank; for their dress consisted of merely cottonade pants, flannel shirts, and extremely short jackets (which, however, is rapidly becoming the uniform of the Confederate States).

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Just three lines back, three soldiers came in to ask for molasses. I was alone downstairs, and the nervous trepidation with which I received the dirty, coarsely clad strangers, who, however, looked as though they might be gentlemen, has raised a laugh against me from the others who looked down from a place of safety. I don't know what I did that was out of the way. I felt odd receiving them as though it was my home, and having to answer their questions about buying, by means of acting as telegraph between them and Mrs. Carter. I confess to that. But I know I talked reasonably about the other subjects. Playing hostess in a strange house! Of course, it was uncomfortable! and to add to my embarrassment, the handsomest one offered to pay for the milk he had just drunk! Fancy my feelings, as I hastened to assure him that General Carter never received money for such things, and from a soldier, besides, it was not to be thought of! He turned to the other, saying, “In Mississippi we don't meet with such people! Miss, they don't hesitate to charge four bits a canteen for milk. They take all they can. They are not like you Louisianians.” I was surprised to hear him say it of his own State, but told him we thought here we could not do enough for them.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 179-80

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, December 17, 1864

Large details of men from our division were sent out to cut and prepare timber for the engineers to build a wharf at the landing so that the boats can be unloaded more readily. Several hundred of us were at work, some cutting the trees — tall pines, others cutting them into proper lengths, and still others hewing and squaring the timbers. The teamsters then hauled them to the landing. Two more boats came up the river today, one loaded with hay for the mules, the other with our provisions. We received our mail today. All is quiet along the line and the weather is fine.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 238

Friday, October 2, 2015

Captain Charles Fessenden Morse, November 14, 1862

Camp Near Sharpsburgh, November 14, 1862.

I wonder if you are having as charming a day at home as we are having here. It is genuine Indian summer, with that soft, hazy atmosphere so peculiar to the season. The sun is almost hot, and only the chill in the air occasionally tells one how near winter it is. The leaves have nearly all fallen from the trees around us, and the river is almost in view from my tent door. Our camp must now be in plain sight from the other side, but I trust the rebs won't be so ill-mannered as to throw any shells into it.

Everything about our camp has the appearance of winter quarters; the men have, most of them, built themselves very comfortable houses of logs, boards, etc., with fire-places of various kinds in them, all far more comfortable than anything we had last winter. We officers are all fixed up in some shape or other, very pleasantly. I am living alone now and have my tent nicely floored; at the end of it, I have had the seam ripped up and have had built a good, open brick fire-place, so that now these cold evenings, and, in fact, nearly all the time, I have a fine blazing wood fire. You have no idea how cheerful this is; it seems almost like sitting down at home.

We heard, yesterday, the joyful news that Harry Russell had been exchanged. He won't allow much time to elapse before he joins the regiment. I know we shall all be glad enough to see him. He is one of our very best officers and a first-rate fellow; I hope he will never have to go through another such experience as he has had this summer.

You don't know what an interesting thing it is to ride over the hard fought ground of Antietam. Yesterday, Bob Shaw and I visited all the places where we were engaged, saw where our men were killed, etc.

We could follow our first line along by the graves; next to ours came the Third Wisconsin's, which lost terribly in this place; next to that was a battery which was splendidly fought. Where it stood, in one place there are the remains of fifteen dead horses lying so close that they touch each other. Farther on, towards our left, we found numerous graves of the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania men; they were in a wood. Every tree in the vicinity is scarred by bullets, and the branches torn by shell and shot. No language could describe more forcibly the severity of the fight. It is hard to realize, in riding through these now peaceful and beautiful woods, that they could have been filled so lately with all the sights and sounds of a great battle.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 105-6

Major Wilder Dwight: November 1, 1861

muddy Branch Camp, Camp Near Seneca,
November 1, 1861.

You have your choice of dates, for I think our camp lies between the two, and General Banks uses the former designation for the division, while General Abercrombie uses the latter for his brigade. I hope that we shall cease to have occasion to use either date before the traditional Thanksgiving day overtakes us. Unless we do, it will find us in the wilderness, and in fasting and humiliation. I look to see ripeness in these late autumn days, and I hope that, without shaking the tree of Providence, some full-grown events may gravitate rapidly to their ripe result, even in this ill-omened month of November. Your letter of Monday takes too dark a view of events. I can well understand that, at your distance, our hardships and trials look harder than they seem to us. I do not, in the least, despair of happy results, and the more I think of the Edward's Ferry, or loon-roads, or Conrad's Ferry mishap (or, to describe it alliteratively, the blunder of Ball's Bluff), the more clearly it seems to me to be an insignificant blunder on the out skirts of the main enterprise, which, except for the unhappy loss of life, and except as a test of military capacity, is now a part of the past, without any grave consequences to follow. I was well aware that, in writing my first letter, I should give you the vivid, and possibly the exaggerated impressions of the sudden and immediate presence of the disaster. The wreck of a small yacht is quite as serious to the crew as the foundering of the Great Eastern. But the underwriters class the events very differently. And in our national account of loss, Ball's Bluff will take a modest rank.

Should the naval expedition prove a success, and should the Army of the Potomac strike its blow at the opportune moment, we can forget our mishap. You see I am chasing again the butterflies of hope. Without them life wouldn't be worth the living.

Tell father I have read the pleasant sketch of Soldiers and their Science, which he sent me. I wish he would get me the book itself, through Little and Brown, and also “Crawford's Standing Orders,” and send them on by express. This coming winter has got to be used in some way, and I expect to dedicate a great part of it to catching up with some of these West Point officers in the commonplaces of military science.

We are quietly in camp again, and are arranging our camping-ground with as much neatness and care as if it were to be permanent. The ovens have been built, the ground cleared, the stumps uprooted, and now the air is full of the noise of a large party of men who are clearing off the rubbish out of the woods about our tents. By Sunday morning our camp will look as clean and regular and military as if we had been here a month. Yesterday was the grand inspection and muster for payment. I wish you could have seen the regiment drawn up with its full equipment, — knapsacks, haversacks, and all. It was a fine sight. By the way, why does not father snatch a day or two, and come out to see us? We are only a pleasant morning's drive from Washington, and I think he would enjoy seeing us as we are in our present case. D––– would enjoy the trip, too, and they might also pay a visit to William down at Port Tobacco, or wherever he may now be. I throw out this suggestion.

To-day I am brigade officer of the day, and I have been in the saddle this morning three or four hours visiting the camps and the pickets on the river. It has been a beautiful morning of the Indian summer, and I have enjoyed it greatly. Colonel Andrews took cold and got over-fatigued during our last week's work, and he is quite down with a feverish attack. Yesterday I found a nice bed for him in a neighboring house, and this morning he is quite comfortable. We miss him very much in camp, and I hope he'll be up in a day or two

“Happy that nation whose annals are tiresome,” writes some one. “Lucky that major whose letters are dull,” think you, I suppose. That good fortune, if it be one, I now enjoy.

I have an opportunity to send this letter, and so off it goes, with much love to all at home, in the hope that you will keep your spirits up.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 133-5

Colonel Edward F. Jones to Governor John A. Andrew, February 5, 1861

BosTON, Feb. 5th, 1861
To His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief:

At our interview this morning you requested me to put the matter which I wished to communicate in writing. In accordance therewith, I make the following statement as to the condition of my command, and take the liberty to forward the same directly to you, passing over the usual channel of communication for want of time. The Sixth Regiment consists of eight companies, located as follows, viz.: Four in Lowell, two in Lawrence, one in Acton, and one in Groton, made up mostly of men of families, “who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow,” men who are willing to leave their homes, families, and all that man holds dear, and sacrifice their present and future as a matter of duty. Four companies of the regiment are insufficiently armed (as to quantity) with a serviceable rifle musket; the other four with the old musket, which is not a safe or serviceable arm, and requiring a different cartridge from the first, which would make confusion in the distribution of ammunition. Two companies are without uniforms, having worn them out, and were proposing to have new the ensuing spring. Six companies and the band have company uniforms of different colors and styles, but insufficient in numbers, and which are entirely unfit for actual service, from the fact that they are made of fine cloth, more for show and the attractive appearance of the company on parade than any other purpose, being cut tight to the form and in fashionable style.

I would (after being properly armed and equipped) suggest our actual necessary wants, viz.: a cap, frock coat, pantaloons, boots, overcoat, knapsack, and blanket to each man, of heavy serviceable material, cut sufficiently loose, and made strongly to stand the necessities of the service. Such is our position, and I think it is a fair representation of the condition of most of the troops in the State. Their health and their efficiency depend greatly upon their comfort.

My command is not able pecuniarily to put themselves in the necessary condition, and should they, as a matter of right and justice, be asked so to do, even were they able? What is the cost in money to the State of Massachusetts when compared to the sacrifices we are called upon to make?


EDWARD F. JonEs, Col. Sixth Regiment

P.S.. I would also suggest that it would require from ten to fourteen days as the shortest possible time within which my command could be put in marching order.

SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 5-6

Assistant-Adjutant General William D. Whipple to Edward McKenney Hudson, August 16, 1861

Baltimore, Md., August 16, 1861.
EDWARD McK. HUDSON, Aide-de-Camp:

SIR: I am directed by Major-General Dix to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 15th instant, addressed to Brigadier-General Dix, commanding Department of Baltimore, and inclosing paragraphs from newspapers published in this city.1

He requests me to say that he is the major general commanding the Department of Pennsylvania, composed of the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and all of Maryland except the counties of Alleghany and Washington, which belong to the Department of the Shenandoah, and the counties of Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George's, which belong to the Department of Washington. If any changes have been made in his command he has no information, official or unofficial, in respect to them. He received last evening a dispatch, signed Lawrence A. Williams, aide-de-camp, in the name of the commanding general of the division, and though it contained nothing more definite in regard to the authority from which it emanated, he assumed that it came to him by direction of the Government, and immediately sent for the agent of the Sun newspaper, The proprietor being absent, and he thinks the result of the interview will be to cause a discontinuance of exceptionable articles like those which have recently appeared in that paper.

Major-General Dix requests me to say to Major-General McClellan that his attention, since he assumed the command of this department, has been so engaged by official duties that the course of the secessionist papers in Baltimore was not noticed by him until the early part of this week. He has been considering whether the emergency would not warrant a suppression of the papers referred to, if, after warning them of the consequences of a persistence in their hostility to the Union, they should refuse to abstain from misrepresentations of the conduct and motives of the Government and the publication of intelligence calculated to aid and encourage the public enemy. It was his intention in a matter of so much gravity – one affecting so deeply the established opinions of the country in regard to the freedom of the press – to ask the direction of the Government as soon as he should feel prepared to recommend a definite course of action. In the mean time it will give him pleasure to do all in his power to suppress the publication of information in regard to the movements, position, and number of our troops, as Major-General McClellan requests, as it is possible that orders may have been issued affecting his command and by accident not have reached him.

Major-General Dix will be glad to receive any information you may have in regard to the modification, if any has been made, of General Orders, No. 47.2

I am, very respectfully, yours,
 Assistant Adjutant-General.

1 Not found.
2 Of July 25, 1861. See p. 763, Vol. II, of this series.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 5 (Serial No. 5), p. 562-3; Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, Volume 2, p. 29-30

Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas’ General Orders, No. 47, July 25, 1861


Washington, July 25, 1861.

I. There will be added to the Department of the Shenandoah the counties of Washington and Alleghany, in Maryland, and such other parts of Virginia as may be covered by the Army in its operations; and there will be added to the Department of Washington the counties of Prince George, Montgomery, and Frederick.

The remainder of Maryland and all Pennsylvania and Delaware will constitute the Department of Pennsylvania; headquarters, Baltimore.

The Department of Washington and the Department of Northeastern Virginia will constitute a geographical division, under Major-General McClellan, U.S. Army; headquarters, Washington.

By order:

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 2 (Serial No. 2), p. 763

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday March 3, 1862

Still raining, some sleet, cold as blazes at night. Ride my new horse, a yellow sorrel of Norman stock; call him Webby.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 202

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Tuesday March 4, 1862

Bright, cold, snow on ground. Ride with Dr. Joe, A. M. Webby doesn't like the bit; it brings the blood. A good horse, I think.

Today a German soldier, Hegelman, asks to marry a girl living near here. She comes in to see me on the same subject; a good-looking girl, French on her father's side, name, Elizabeth Ann de Quasie. A neighbor tells me she is a queer girl; has belonged to the Christian, Baptist, and Methodist church, that she now prefers the Big Church. She has a doubtful reputation. When Charles Hegelman came in to get permission to go to Gauley to get married by the chaplain of the Twenty-eighth, I asked him why he was in a hurry to marry; if he knew much about her; and what was her name. He replied, “I like her looks”; and after confessing that he didn't know her name, that he thought it was Eliza Watson(!), he admitted that the thing was this: Eight hundred dollars had been left to him payable on his marriage, and he wanted the money out at interest!

A jolly evening with Drs. Webb and McCurdy and Lieutenants Avery and Bottsford at my room. Bottsford giving his California experience — gambling, fiddling, spreeing, washing clothes, driving mules, keeping tavern, grocery, digging, clerking, etc., etc., rich and poor, in debt and working it out; all in two or three years.

News on the wires that the Rebels have Murfreesboro; that Pope takes four or six guns from Jeff Thompson; that there is appearance of a move at Centreville and also of a move on Charleston, Virginia, and the capture of six hundred barrels of flour.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 202-3

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 3, 1862

But McClellan would not advance. He could not drag his artillery at this season of the year; and so he is embarking his army, or the greater portion of it, for the Peninsula.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 4, 1862

We shall have stirring times here. Our troops are to be marched through Richmond immediately, for the defense of Yorktown — the same town surrendered by Lord Cornwallis to Washington. But its fall or its successful defense now will signify nothing.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 5, 1862

Martial law has been proclaimed.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 6, 1862

Some consternation among the citizens — they dislike martial law.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 7, 1862

Gen. Winder has established a guard with fixed bayonets at the door of the passport office. They let in only a few at a time, and these, when they get their passports, pass out by the rear door, it being impossible for them to return through the crowd.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 8, 1862

Gen. Winder has appointed Capt. Godwin Provost Marshal.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 9, 1862

Gen. Winder has appointed Col. Porter Provost Marshal, — Godwin not being high enough in rank, I suppose.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 10, 1862

One of the friends of the Secretary of War came to me to-day, and proposed to have some new passports printed, with the likeness of Mr. Benjamin engraved on them. He said, I think, the engraving had already been made. I denounced the project as absurd, and said there were some five or ten thousand printed passports on hand.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: December 19, 1864

The deep waters are closing over us and we are in this house, like the outsiders at the time of the flood. We care for none of these things. We eat, drink, laugh, dance, in lightness of heart.

Doctor Trezevant came to tell me the dismal news. How he piled on the agony! Desolation, mismanagement, despair. General Young, with the flower of Hampton's cavalry, is in Columbia. Horses can not be found to mount them. Neither the Governor of Georgia nor the Governor of South Carolina is moving hand or foot. They have given up. The Yankees claim another victory for Thomas.1 Hope it may prove like most of their victories, brag and bluster. Can't say why, maybe I am benumbed, but I do not feel so intensely miserable.

1 Reference is here made to the battle between Hood and Thomas at Nashville, the result of which was the breaking up of Hood's army as a fighting force.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 339-40

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: July 30, 1863

Our good President has again appointed a day for fasting and prayer.

The Florida and Alabama are performing wonderful feats, and are worrying the North excessively. Many a cargo has been lost to the Northern merchant princes by their skill, and I trust that the Government vessels feel their power.

Several members of our household have gone to the mountains in pursuit of health — Mr. —— among the rest. Mrs. P., of Amelia, is here, cheering the house by her sprightliness; and last night we had Mr. Randolph Tucker, who is a delightful companion — so intellectual, cheerful, and God-fearing!

The army is unusually quiet at all points. Does it portend a storm? Many changes are going on in “our village.” The half-English, half-Yankee Wades are gone at last, to our great relief. I dare say she shakes the dust from her feet, as a testimony against the South; for she certainly has suffered very much here, and she will not have as many difficulties there, with her Yankee Colonel father. She professes to out-rebel the rebels, and to be the most intense Southern woman of us all; but I rather think that she deceives herself, and unless I mistake her character very much indeed, I think when she gets among her own people she will tell them all she knows of our hopes, fears, and difficulties. Poor thing! I am glad she is gone to those persons on whom she has a natural claim for protection.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 235-6

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Louise Wigfall, December 5, 1863

Gen. Hood is in town and Dr. Darby has gone to Europe to procure a leg for the General with the money contributed by the Texas Brigade. Gen. Hood looks remarkably well and bears his misfortune with the greatest cheerfulness.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 161

Diary of Sarah Morgan: August 17, 1862

Another Sunday. Strange that the time, which should seem so endless, flies so rapidly! Miriam complains that Sunday comes every day; but though that seems a little too much, I insist that it comes twice a week. Let time fly, though; for each day brings us so much nearer our destiny, which I long to know.

Thursday, we heard from a lady just from town that our house was standing the day before, which somewhat consoled us for the loss of our silver and clothing; but yesterday came the tidings of new afflictions. I declare we have acted out the first chapter of Job, all except that verse about the death of his sons and daughters. God shield us from that! I do not mind the rest. “While he was yet speaking, another came in and said, ‘Thy brethren and kinsmen gathered together to wrest thine abode from the hand of the Philistines which pressed sore upon thee; when lo! the Philistines sallied forth with fire and sword, and laid thine habitation waste and desolate, and I only am escaped to tell thee.’” Yes! the Yankees, fearing the Confederates might slip in unseen, resolved to have full view of their movements, so put the torch to all eastward, from Colonel Matta's to the Advocate. That would lay open a fine tract of country, alone; but unfortunately, it is said that once started, it was not so easy to control the flames, which spread considerably beyond their appointed limits. Some say it went as far as Florida Street; if so, we are lost, as that is a half-square below us. For several days the fire has been burning, but very little can be learned of the particulars. I am sorry for Colonel Matta. Such a fine brown stone front, the finest in town. Poor Minna! poverty will hardly agree with her. As for our home, I hope against hope. I will not believe it is burnt, until somebody declares having been present on that occasion. Yet so many frame houses on that square must have readily caught fire from the sparks.

Wicked as it may seem, I would rather have all I own burned, than in the possession of the negroes. Fancy my magenta organdie on a dark beauty! Bah! I think the sight would enrage me! Miss Jones's trials are enough to drive her crazy. She had the pleasure of having four officers in her house, men who sported epaulets and red sashes, accompanied by a negro woman, at whose disposal all articles were placed. The worthy companion of these “gentlemen” walked around selecting things with the most natural airs and graces. “This,” she would say, “we must have. And some of these books, you know; and all the preserves, and these chairs and tables, and all the clothes, of course; and yes! the rest of these things.” So she would go on, the “gentlemen” assuring her she had only to choose what she wanted, and that they would have them removed immediately. Madame thought they really must have the wine, and those handsome cut-glass goblets. I hardly think I could have endured such a scene; to see all I owned given to negroes, without even an accusation being brought against me of disloyalty.1 One officer departed with a fine velvet cloak on his arm; another took such a bundle of Miss Jones's clothes, that he had to have it lifted by some one else on his horse, and rode off holding it with difficulty. This I heard from herself, yesterday, as I spent the day with Lilly and mother at Mr. Elder's, where she is now staying. Can anything more disgraceful be imagined? They all console me by saying there is no one in Baton Rouge who could possibly wear my dresses without adding a considerable piece to the belt. But that is nonsense. Another pull at the corset strings would bring them easily to the size I have been reduced by nature and bones. Besides, O horror! Suppose, instead, they should let in a piece of another color? That would annihilate me! Pshaw! I do not care for the dresses, if they had only left me those little articles of father's and Harry's. But that is hard to forgive.

1 The Act of July 16th, 1862, authorized the confiscation of property only in the cases of rebels whose disloyalty was established. — W. D.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 176-9

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, December 16, 1864

Left this morning at 8 o'clock for King's bridge over the Ogeechee river at a point fifteen miles from Savannah, where we again went into camp. All the torpedoes having been removed from the river, small boats can now come up to the bridge and land. Two boats came up with mail and some other articles. There were four tons of mail for the army. All is quiet along the line, but we have no rations yet. We still have plenty of rice with the hull on, but all the mortars upon the plantation have now been gathered together and the cavalry have put all the negroes of the plantation at work hulling rice.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 238

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Captain Charles Fessenden Morse, November 11, 1862

Camp Near Sharpsburgh, Md.,
November 11, 1862.

We had an interesting little reunion and supper at my tent last evening. Yesterday morning, Bob Shaw and I rode into Hagerstown where the First Massachusetts Cavalry are stationed, about fourteen miles from here. We found our friends there getting ready for a move, having a preliminary inspection of men, horses, etc., they having received orders to join Pleasanton. By dint of a little persuasion, we got Curtis and Higginson to ride back with us. We had already arranged a supper to which the five captains in the regiment had been invited; Cogswell, Bangs, Robeson, Shaw, and myself. We sat down immediately after “tattoo” and had a jolly time; there were seven of us, all original “Seconds.” Of course, there were innumerable recollections recalled, many of them sad, but a great many very pleasant; old times were talked over and the many changes that had befallen us since our first Camp Andrew experience. The supper was very good; a capital soup, followed by roast quail and “fixings,” claret, coffee, cigars, etc., all done up in pretty good shape for camp. An occasion like this makes up for many vexations, and we all appreciate it.

Last night we received the news that Andrews had been appointed Brigadier-General and assigned to Banks; so we have lost our second Colonel, as honest and faithful a man as ever lived. He is one of the officers in the army who has worked his way up himself, and has been promoted purely on account of his own merit without political influence or wire-pulling. By this promotion and the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Savage, Quincy becomes Colonel, Cogswell, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Mudge, Major. I shall be third Captain and have the colors, Savage's original place. Sawyer will be tenth Captain; at Camp Andrew he was tenth Second Lieutenant, twenty grades he has gone through.

That was a very good article you sent me, taken from the “Advertiser,” about Colonel Savage. It was evidently written by some one who knew him well. It was perfectly true and did not exaggerate his good qualities an atom. He was nearer to being a perfect man than any one I ever knew.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 104-5

Major Wilder Dwight: October 30, 1861

Camp Near Seneca, October 30, 1861.

We still keep the camping-ground in which we were when I last wrote, and we are enjoying the brightest of October days. There is a general impression that winter-quarters, or some such depressing movement, is to be the fate of the grand Army of the Potomac

Yesterday Captain Cary took a letter from Colonel Gordon to General Evans in command at Leesburg. The Colonel was a West Point friend of General Evans, and wrote to ask the fate of our friends of the Twentieth. Captain Cary took a white handkerchief on a stick as his flag of truce, and crossed the river in a skiff. He went up and down the river, but could find no picket anywhere. After wandering about with his flag for three hours, he came to a farm-house. The man was a Union man. He said he had been twice arrested, and refused to take the letter. He told Cary that he had seen no soldiers for a week, and thought there were none nearer than Leesburg, but he advised the Captain to go back, as he said his flag of truce would not be respected. Cary made up his mind to return. I confess I was very glad indeed to see him back, and considered the
expedition a very risky one. . . . .

We have a beautiful camping-ground here, and are getting it into perfect order for muster to-morrow. The last day of October is our semi-monthly muster and inspection.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 132-3

Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler to Blanche Butler, Sunday October 22, 1860

LoweLL, Oct. 22, 1860

MY GOOD GIRL: You know that I am not a constant correspondent, but I am now taking your mother's place. You need not feel alarm about your mother's eyes, as I believe the weakness to be temporary only. At least she was quite well enough last Friday evening to go with me to the Prince's Ball1 at Boston. Aunt Harriet went with us; both were much pleased, as ladies always are, with beautiful dresses, fine music, and a gay throng. I was obliged to go down to the review of the Military.2 I suppose you hardly saw the Prince; as a sight you have not lost much. He looks somewhat like your cousin Hal Read, but is not quite so intelligent in the face.

Pray do not pain me by hearing that you are homesick. A girl of good sense like you to be homesick! Never say it. Never feel it, never think it. The change, the novelty of your situation, will soon wear away, and with your duties well done, as I know they will be, you will be sustained by the pride of a well-earned joy in your return. You say the girls, your associates, seem strange to you. May they not find the same strange appearance in you? You say you think they do not like you much, and you do not like them much. Is not this because of the strangeness, and because you do not understand and know each other. It is one of the objects I desired to gain by sending you to Georgetown that you should see other manners, other customs and ways, than those around you at home. However good these may be, the difficulty is that one used to a single range of thoughts and modes of life soon comes to think all others inferior, while in fact they may be better, and are only different. This is a provincialism, and one of which I am sorry to say that Massachusetts people are most frequently guilty.

By no means give up your own manners simply because others of your associates are different. Try and see which are best, but do not cling to your own simply because they are yours. In the matter of pronunciation of which you wrote, hold fast your own, subject to your teachers. Do not adopt the flat drawl of the South. That is a patois. Avoid it. All educated people speak a language alike. T’is true Mr. Clay, said cheer for chair, but that from a defect of early association. Full, distinct, and clear utterance with a kindly modulated voice, will add a new accomplishment to a young lady, who is as perfect as Blanche in the eye of


1 H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, then on a visit to the United States.

2 General Butler was Brigadier General of the Massachusetts militia, having received his commission in 1857.

SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 3-4

Major-General John A. Dix to Major-General George B. McClellan, September 5, 1861

Baltimore, Md., September 5, 1861.
Maj. Gen. G. B. MCCLELLAN,
Commanding Army of the Potomac.

GENERAL: Fort McHenry which has not sufficient space for the convenient accommodation of the number of men necessary to man its guns is crowded with prisoners. Beside our own criminals awaiting trial or under sentence we have eleven State prisoners. To this number six more will be added to-morrow. I do not think this a suitable place for them if we had ample room. It is too near the seat of war which may possibly be extended to us. It is also too near a great town in which there are multitudes who sympathize with them who are constantly applying for interviews and who must be admitted with the hazard of becoming the media of improper communications, or who go away with the feeling that they have been harshly treated because they have been denied access to their friends.

It is very desirable that an end should be put to these dangers on the one hand and annoyances on the other. If as is supposed Fort Lafayette is crowded may they not be provided for at Fort Delaware? There are several prisoners here who are under indictment. The Government decided that they should not be sent away. I concur in the correctness of the reasoning, but is there any impropriety if their safety requires it in taking them temporarily beyond the jurisdiction of the court by which they must be tried to be remanded when the court is ready for their trial? I confess I do not see that any principle is violated. I certainly do not think them perfectly safe here considering the population by which they are surrounded and the opportunities for evading the vigilance of their guards.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
 Major-General. Commanding.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 2, Volume 1 (Serial No. 114), p. 592-3; Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, Volume 2, p. 29 which dates this letter as September 5, 1861;

Major-General George G. McClellan to Major-General John A. Dix, September 5, 1861

September 5, 1861.

Respectfully referred to the general commanding with a recommendation that the seventeen prisoners referred to by General Dix be transferred to some other place for' safekeeping; and I beg to repeat my suggestion that some other suitable place be selected for keeping prisoners at war that may be captured in future. For present purposes it seems to me that Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, or Fort Adams, Newport, might suffice.

Major-General, U.S. Army.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 2, Volume 1 (Serial No. 114), p. 593

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes: Saturday March 1, 1862

Cincinnati — No, Fayetteville, Virginia,
Saturday, March 1, 1862.

Dear L—: — I reached here in good condition last night. Find Dr. Joe very well. How he loves the boys! All things look bright and cheerful.

Colonel Scammon goes home today. People seem glad to see me, and I am glad to see the Twenty-third again. They greet me a good deal as the boys did at home.

Darling, you will be pleased to know, and so I tell you, I never loved you more than I do as I think of you on my late visit, and I never admired you so much. You are glad I feel so? Yes; well, that's “pretty dood.” No time to write much. Love to Grandma and kisses for all the boys.

I brought all the grub in my haversack except three biscuits clear here. More welcome here than on the road. Ask Dr. Jim to see that my Commercial and Joe's Gazette are sent. They don't come.

Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 201-2

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 2, 1862

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has certainly made a skillful retrograde movement in the face of the enemy at Manassas. He has been keeping McClellan and his 210,000 men at bay for a long time with about 40,000. After the abandonment of his works it was a long time before the enemy knew he had retrograded. They approached very cautiously, and found that they had been awed by a few Quaker guns logs of wood in position, and so painted as to resemble cannon. Lord, how the Yankee press will quiz McClellan!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 113

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: December 14, 1864

And now the young ones are in bed and I am wide awake. It is an odd thing; in all my life how many persons have I seen in love? Not a half-dozen. And I am a tolerably close observer, a faithful watcher have I been from my youth upward of men and manners. Society has been for me only an enlarged field for character study.

Flirtation is the business of society; that is, playing at love-making. It begins in vanity, it ends in vanity. It is spurred on by idleness and a want of any other excitement. Flattery, battledore and shuttlecock, how in this game flattery is dashed backward and forward. It is so soothing to self-conceit. If it begins and ends in vanity, vexation of spirit supervenes sometimes. They do occasionally burn their fingers awfully, playing with fire, but there are no hearts broken. Each party in a flirtation has secured a sympathetic listener, to whom he or she can talk of himself or herself—somebody who, for the time, admires one exclusively, and, as the French say, excessivement. It is a pleasant, but very foolish game, and so to bed.

Hood and Thomas have had a fearful fight, with carnage and loss of generals excessive in proportion to numbers. That means they were leading and urging their men up to the enemy. I know how Bartow and Barnard Bee were killed bringing up their men. One of Mr. Chesnut's sins thrown in his teeth by the Legislature of South Carolina was that he procured the promotion of Gist, “State Rights” Gist, by his influence in Richmond. What have these comfortable, stay-at-home patriots to say of General Gist now? “And how could man die better than facing fearful odds,” etc.

So Fort McAlister has fallen! Good-by, Savannah! Our Governor announces himself a follower of Joe Brown, of Georgia. Another famous Joe.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 338-9

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: July 29, 1863

A letter of farewell from the Valley, written as the enemy's lines were closing around our loved ones there. It is painful to think of their situation, but they are in God's hands.

It is said that Lee's army and Meade's are approaching each other. Oh, I trust that a battle is not at hand! I feel unnerved, as if I could not stand the suspense of another engagement. Not that I fear the result, for I cannot believe that Meade could whip General Lee, under any circumstances; but the dread casualties! The fearful list of killed and wounded, when so many of our nearest and dearest are engaged, is too full of anguish to anticipate without a sinking of heart which I have never known before.

There was a little fight some days ago, near Brandy Station — the enemy driven across the river. Fredericksburg and Culpeper Court-House are both occupied by our troops. This is very gratifying to our Fredericksburg refugees, who are going up to see if they can recover their property. All movables, such as household furniture, books, etc., of any value, have been carried off. Their houses, in some instances, have been battered down.

I was in Richmond this morning, and bought a calico dress, for which I gave $2.50 per yard, and considered it a bargain; the new importations have run up to $3.50; and $4 per yard. To what are we coming?

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 234-5

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Louise Wigfall, November 26, 1863

charlottesville, Nov. 26th, 1863.

. . . We hear to-night that the Army is to move, it is thought to Fredericksburg.

The news from the West has made every one look very blue — and I should think Mr. Davis would feel very uncomfortable with such a weight to carry. . . . What is to happen next no one can tell. We are all quite busy getting ready to go to Richmond. We leave here Monday, Dec. 1st.  . . . I had a letter from Mrs. Johnston a few days ago. She was with her husband at Meridian. I expect he feels very keenly his present position; it is certainly an odd one — for such a general, at such a time — no army and nothing to do. I suppose you have seen by the papers that Genl. Hood is in Richmond. We hear that Dr. Darby is going to Europe to buy a leg for him, so Gen'l Ewell told your father; he is up here at present with his wife.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 160-1

Diary of Sarah Morgan: August 13, 1862

I am in despair. Miss Jones, who has just made her escape from town, brings a most dreadful account. She, with seventy-five others, took refuge at Dr. Enders's, more than a mile and a half below town, at Hall's. It was there we sent the two trunks containing father's papers and our clothing and silver. Hearing that guerrillas had been there, the Yankees went down, shelled the house in the night, turning all those women and children out, who barely escaped with their clothing, and let the soldiers loose on it. They destroyed everything they could lay their hands on, if it could not be carried off; broke open armoirs, trunks, sacked the house, and left it one scene of devastation and ruin. They even stole Miss Jones's braid! She got here with nothing but the clothes she wore.

This is a dreadful blow to me. Yesterday, I thought myself beggared when I heard that our house was probably burnt, remembering all the clothing, books, furniture, etc., that it contained; but I consoled myself with the recollection of a large trunk packed in the most scientific style, containing quantities of nightgowns, skirts, chemises, dresses, cloaks, — in short, our very best, — which was in safety. Winter had no terrors when I thought of the nice warm clothes; I only wished I had a few of the organdie dresses I had packed up before wearing. And now? It is all gone, silver, father's law papers, without which we are beggars, and clothing! Nothing left!

I could stand that. But as each little article of Harry's came up before me (I had put many in the trunk), I lost heart. . . . They may clothe their negro women with my clothes, since they only steal for them; but to take things so sacred to me! O my God, teach me to forgive them!

Poor Miss Jones! They went into her clothes-bag and took out articles which were certainly of no service to them, for mere deviltry. There are so many sufferers in this case that it makes it still worse. The plantation just below was served in the same way; whole families fired into before they knew of the intention of the Yankees; was it not fine sport? I have always been an advocate of peace — if we could name the conditions ourselves — but I say, War to the death! I would give my life to be able to take arms against the vandals who are laying waste our fair land! I suppose it is because I have no longer anything to lose that I am desperate. Before, I always opposed the burning of Baton Rouge, as a useless piece of barbarism in turning out five thousand women and children on the charity of the world. But I noticed that those who had no interest there warmly advocated it. Lilly Nolan cried loudly for it; thought it only just; but the first shell that whistled over her father's house made her crazy with rage. The brutes! the beasts! how cruel! wicked! etc. It was too near home for her, then. There is the greatest difference between my property and yours. I notice that the further I get from town, the more ardent are the people to have it burned. It recalls very forcibly Thackeray's cut in “The Virginians,” when speaking of the determination of the Rebels to burn the cities: he says he observed that all those who were most eager to burn New York were inhabitants of Boston; while those who were most zealous to burn Boston had all their property in New York. It is true all the world over. And I am afraid I am becoming indifferent about the fate of our town. Anything, so it is speedily settled! Tell me it would be of service to the Confederacy, and I would set fire to my home — if still standing —  willingly! But would it?

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 174-6

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, December 15, 1864

The weather is fine — days warm and pleasant and nights cool. The Thirty-second Illinois arrived in camp at 11 o'clock with sweet potatoes, fresh pork and corn for our brigade. We are still lying in camp without rations. We had company inspection and drill for the recruits. The First Division of the Fifteenth Corps advanced their skirmish line this morning toward the rebels' post south of Savannah. There was quite an artillery duel and some sharp skirmishing, but our men succeeded in gaining their position.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 237-8

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Diary of Sarah Morgan: August 12, 1862


Another resting-place! Out of reach of shells for the first time since last April! For how long, I wonder? For wherever we go, we bring shells and Yankees. Would not be surprised at a visit from them out here, now!

Let me take up the thread of that never-ending story, and account for my present position. It all seems tame now; but it was very exciting at the time.

As soon as I threw down bonnet and gloves, I commenced writing; but before I had halfway finished, mother, who had been holding a consultation downstairs, ran up to say the overseer had advised us all to leave, as the place was not safe; and that I shall not soon forget them. Mr. Cain told mother he believed he would keep me; at all events, he would make an exchange, and give her his only son in my place. I told him I was willing, as mother thought much more of her sons than of her daughters.

I forgot to say that we met General Allen's partner a mile or two from Dr. Nolan's, who told us it was a wise move; that he had intended recommending it. All he owned had been carried off, his plantation stripped. He said he had no doubt that all the coast would be ravaged, and they had promised to burn his and many other houses; and Dr. Nolan's — though it might possibly be spared in consideration of his being a prisoner, and his daughter being unprotected — would most probably suffer with the rest, but even if spared, it was no place for women. He offered to take charge of us all, and send the furniture into the interior before the Yankees should land, which Phillie gladly accepted.

What a splendid rest I had at Mrs. Cain's! I was not conscious of being alive until I awaked abruptly in the early morning, with a confused sense of having dreamed something very pleasant.

Mr. Cain accompanied us to the ferry some miles above, riding by the buggy; and leaving us under care of Mr. Randallson, after seeing us in the large flat, took his leave. After an hour spent at the hotel after landing on this side, we procured a conveyance and came on to Mr. Elder's, where we astonished Lilly by our unexpected appearance very much. Miriam had gone over to spend the day with her, so we were all together, and talked over our adventures with the greatest glee. After dinner Miriam and I came over here to see them all, leaving the others to follow later. I was very glad to see Helen Carter once more. If I was not, I hope I may live in Yankee-land! — and I can't invoke a more dreadful punishment than that.

Well! here we are, and Heaven only knows our next move. But we must settle on some spot, which seems impossible in the present state of affairs, when no lodgings are to be found. I feel like a homeless beggar. Will Pinckney told them here that he doubted if our house were still standing, as the fight occurred just back of it, and every volley directed towards it. He says he thought of it every time the cannon was fired, knowing where the shot would go.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 170-4

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, December 13, 1864

We lay in bivouac all day. Our rations ran out today and no more can be issued until we open up communications with the fleet. To do that we shall have to open a way to the coast. Our men have foraged everything to be found. The only thing that we can get now is rice, of which there is a great deal in stacks, besides thousands of bushels threshed out, but not hulled, and stored away in granaries. The Thirty-second Illinois went with a train from our brigade to forage. Fort McAllister was captured late this afternoon by a detachment of the Fifteenth Corps, General Hazen's Division. Our cracker line is open once more and there is great cheering in camp over the news.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 237

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, December 14, 1864

The capture of Fort McAllister gives us our first communication with the North since the telegraph wires were cut at Marietta, Georgia, on the 12th of November. We have no rations yet, but will have crackers as soon as our men can remove the torpedoes from the Ogeechee river, which is thickly laid with them; then the transports can land provisions. There is great rejoicing in camp, as we have nothing left but unhulled rice. This we hull by placing a handful in our haversacks which we lay on logs and pound with our bayonets. Then we pour the contents from hand to hand, blowing the while to separate the chaff from the grains. All is quiet along the line, except occasional skirmishing. We had regimental inspection this afternoon. The foraging train of the Fifteenth Corps came in this afternoon with some forage. We are now in camp in a large rice plantation about ten miles south of Savannah.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 237

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Captain Charles Fessenden Morse, November 2, 1862

Camp Near Sharpsbitrgh, Md.,
November 2, 1862.

You see at once that our position is changed, although we are still on the Maryland side of the river. The orders we received at the time of my last letter were countermanded the next day, and another corps was sent across the river. Everything remained as usual for several days; Wednesday, I was sent on picket with my company up the canal to guard a length of three miles of the river. It was a beautiful October day, and I enjoyed the scenery along the Potomac very much; the trees on both sides were very brilliant. If it had not been for the existing animosity between us and our Southern brethren, I could have had some capital shooting, as the river was full of ducks.

About eight o'clock, P. M., the field officer of the day paid me a visit and informed me that I was instantly to draw in my men; that our brigade had received marching orders and probably had already started. This was interesting, but no time was to be lost. It was after nine when I left my post, and after ten when I reached the old camp ground. The regiment was gone, but one of the surgeons who was left with the hospital told me that the brigade had moved towards Sharpsburgh about two hours before. I was relieved at once by this information, for I knew I could find them there. After a little deliberation, I made up my mind that it was best to spend the night where I was. The men found no difficulty in making themselves tolerably comfortable in the skeletons of their old houses with the aid of good fires. I borrowed a blanket of the sutler and lay down on some straw on one of our old tent floors. Towards three o'clock in the morning, I woke up with awfully cold feet and amused myself till daylight making a roaring great fire, burning up our old bedsteads and other furniture.

Soon after daylight, I started with my command; after between two and three hours' pretty smart marching over a splendid road through a fine country, I came up with the brigade bivouacking by the side of the road. Very soon, we marched again to our present camp, where we relieved some regular regiments of Sykes' brigade which were on picket here. Our camp is in a beautiful open wood about five hundred yards from the river; we are on a sort of a perpetual outpost duty. Our regiment guards the principal ford (running for three-quarters of a mile along the river). This takes a hundred per day for the actual guard; the remainder of the regiment acts as a reserve. The rebel cavalry pickets are on the other side within talking distance. They seem to be peaceably inclined, and I trust the murderous practice of picket firing will not be begun on either side. It would make the duty dangerous and uncomfortable; now we can ride along the tow path within pistol shot of the enemy without feeling any anxiety.

McClellan is probably pushing southward with his army. We have heard pretty heavy and rapid cannonading to-day in the distance. I wish now that we were with the army; if the main body of it is going through a winter campaign, I want to be with it. We shall not stay here if our forces occupy Winchester and the intermediate points, I feel sure.

Yesterday I had a mighty pleasant call from Major Curtis and a friend of his from Boston, Mr. Edward Flint; they took dinner with us and we had a very pleasant time talking over old experiences. I rode back with them to the place where Major Curtis is on picket with a part of his regiment, six miles above us. I took tea there and rode home by moonlight. I lost my way about three miles from here, among an endless number of wagon tracks, paths, etc., so I threw my rein on my horse's neck and she brought me across the fields in almost a bee line to our camp.

I don't know whether I mentioned, in any of my last letters, that we had heard, the day we were at McClellan's headquarters, that Major Curtis had been mentioned as having distinguished himself on the reconnoissance towards Martinsburgh, where he had command of the cavalry.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 101-3

Major Wilder Dwight: October 28, 1861

camp Near Seneca, October 28, 1861.

I wish you could have looked in on our camp this morning. The stockings came last night. They were spread out under an oak-tree, and the companies were well supplied. The men were radiant over them. The memory of our cold, wet week's marching and countermarching was still fresh. The chill of the October morning had not yet yielded to the glowing brightness of the sun. The sight of the stockings made us feel warm again. The young officers paid particular attention to the bundle from Professor Agassiz's school

I had no idea that the stockings were so much needed, but the fact is, they are so much better than the ones given by government, that the men are eager for them. The captains all say that there could not be a better gift. We shall await the coming of the shirts and drawers with pleasure Collect and keep stockings, if you are willing to do so, against another time of need. Convey, in some form, to the donors, our high appreciation of their kindness. It is the thing. And it makes men feel a tingle of grateful pleasure out here, to think they are remembered and cared for at home. Apart, even, from their usefulness, the stockings bring a warming and cheering sensation to the men. That is the moral aspect of the present.

We made a brisk little march yesterday morning, and at noon were in camp again, on a charming spot, sheltered by a fine wood, within the edge of which are the field and staff tents, while the regiment extends out into the open field. We are within a mile of the Potomac. The enemy's pickets ornament the opposite shore, while we adorn this. The point is near the mouth of the Seneca, and about opposite Drainsville.

After a week's work, we are again, on this Monday, apparently as far from any immediate active duty as we were a week ago. I do not know that I can bring myself now to be so impatient of delay as I have been. It was the itch for a poor kind of distinction that led to the massacre at Leesburg.

We find, on our return to our old division, that the regiment is reassigned to General Abercrombie's brigade; and to-morrow we are to move into our new position. The General places us first in his, the First Brigade. That gives us the post of honor, — the right of the whole of General Banks's Division.

I have not yet commenced my duties as Examiner of Officers. We have been so locomotory lately that there has been no time for anything. A pretty low standard of qualifications will have to be adopted, or we shall have to exclude a great many of the present officers.

William, I suppose, is down on his old ground again, opposite Aquia Creek, trying to reopen, or keep open, the Potomac. Well, I wish him luck; but the leaves of autumn are falling, and we seem to be just about in the same position that we were when I saw the buds first bursting last spring in Annapolis.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 131-2