Journal 3: Camp Near White Oak Church, Va. 16th Regiment, N.Y.S.Volunteers.
Camp about 4 miles
East of Falmouth, Dec. 25, 1862.
Own Dear Wify - Here we are yet. After
finishing my letter of 27 sheets yesterday, I rode down with the Quarter
Master & Dr. Purdy to the picket line to see the boys. Our regiment went
out on picket the evening of the 24th, Christmas Eve & returned Christmas
morning. They went out to relieve the 5th Maine, so that they could come
in and be paid off by Col. Jones, the paymaster. We soon found them; the
Quartermaster & I running several races & I beating him each time.
We tried to get permission for the boys to have a barbecue of an ox.
That is for the reserves to have one & the boys to take part as they
were relieved. We found a fine little ox owned by a farmer nearby & were
going to buy him. I made a bargain for him & went off for a detail of
three men to bring him down to the regiment. Cap. Moore was just going to
furnish them & Cap. Solomon was agreeable but on asking a certain Lieut.
Col., Col. Filbert of another regiment who had command of the lines that
night, he objected so we could not have the barbeque. On returning to camp
the Col. wished me a Merry Christmas & handed me, what do you think?
My Commission. It came Christmas eve, but there was no letter from
my own little wify, however my own one is come the next day (a letter from
you) and another today, the 26th, so you see, I have our dear, dear Christmas
present. I am now writing in the Dr.'s tent & Dr. Cramer is just ripping
up the back of the tent canvass so as to make a fireplace. Well Christmas
morning, I rose as usual a little while before light, sent off my letter
of 27 sheets to you as a Christmas present & at 1/2 past nine sent round
to have prayers at the hospital, & selected the hymn & scripture
with reference to Christmas. Then afterwards dropping into Dr. Murphy's tent,
I met Cap. Wood, who said he was ill. He has been sick here for nearly six
months. He left the tent to return to his own & soon a boy returned saying
Capt. Wood was very sick. Dr Murphy went down & I followed as soon as
I thought was right, thinking at first that he might want to see the Dr.
alone. The poor Capt. was in agony. The most fearful spasms. He suffered
for nearly an hour & when Dr. Murphy went out to get some other remedy,
he had a most distressing one, almost a fit & finally fell back in my
arms for a time, insensible. His orderly at first thought he was dead, but
I found his pulse indicated that he was alive & soon he came to himself
again, & is now about again. I am rejoiced this morning to find that
his papers for a leave have come. I wish he would go home through Hartford
& see you but I suppose he could not. If he does come you will like him
greatly; he's a noble man.
After leaving him, I went over with Dr. Purdy to the camp of the 2d N. Jersey regiment & saw Dr. Pably. He was in the dining room of their mess made of boughs with an old fashioned fire place & covered with tent flies & a bower of bushes before the door. It looked finely. Soon we returned & I took a bite in our tent. Then went into the Adjutant's tent & took down the names of all Co. A to make a tour through their tents. Then went to the Hospital & had afternoon prayers & in returning find a boy coming to tell me the quartermasters dinner was ready. He had invited me to dinner. We had a fine roasted Turkey, potatoes, apple sauce, biscuits & apple pie.
The Quarter Master & myself tried to get a little rooster on our way back from the picket line last night. We visited the old farmer's pig pen (the farmer of whom I was going to get the ox) but the quarter master said the pigs would not do for me. They were not right for roasting, so I did not get any. Well after dinner we sit talking together - Dr. Purdy, Quartermaster ( a nephew of Prof. Davies of Hartford) & myself. Then I made preparations in the Adjutant's tent for my evening lecture at six o'clock in the Hospital Steward's tent. And when my little audience were assembled, there about 17 attending, I was suddenly called out by somebody wishing to see me, when who did it prove to be but Mr. Sheldon. He had rode over an hour back some four miles from the 16th Ct. Vols. & had just arrived & gave me your dear dear letter. And that is the way I received it, as I told you I would tell you. He waited kindly till after meeting & then I had supper for him.
(We had a very pleasant meeting. Dr. Murphy, making one of the prayers). After Mr. Sheldon had taken his supper, I had Edo saddle Zollicoffer & I rode over with him to the camp of the 16th Ct. V. I thought it would be lonely for him on his first ride through Virginia, & then too I thought it would be pleasant for myself to see some of the Connecticut people. I saw Dr. Warner of Wethersfield. You know, he is the surgeon of the Regt. Also I saw Lieut. Dickerson, who used to be in the Park Street School, Mr. Sheldon's son & the Quartermaster, a Mr. Robbins of the Robbins (tobacconists), Hartford. On returning to camp, I stopped at the log cabin where the poor boy was sick of the typhoid fever, but he was gone. They had taken him to his regiment. But one poor fellow was lying sick, rolled up in a blanket in a corner & some new troop just stopping in at the cabin that night were building a fire & stopping up the chinks for a night sleep. They will take care of him for a time & I must see today what can be done for him. I told the boys to make themselves as comfortable as possible & then riding off soon met an old elderly gentleman inquiring the way to the 18th N.Y. He was the father of the Col. I inquired from the man who directed him for the turn off to the 16th & soon was standing before the Col. tent. It was about ten o'clock. Edo had gone to bed somewhat sick, but he is better this morning. Sam (Dr. Crandall's contraband) took Zollicoffer & the Col., Major & myself, after setting talking a little while, we turned in at about 12 o'clock. This morning, the 26th, the Col. greatly amused me by his dissatisfaction over his breakfast. Well it was rather a tough one but I found the corn bread & applesauce partly ground & at last the men succeeded in cooking some breakfast, so we went along finely. The Col. has gone to a Court Marshall. I have had my usual prayers in the hospital tent, seen the sick with Dr. Crandall, helped assort the mail & am expecting after finishing this letter & getting down to visit Co. A. or at least a portion of the men.
Dec. 29th 1862: My own dear one: Your dear letter of Christmas and another for dear mother came safely this morning. We have just taken down our tent to wall it up with logs & thereby made it more roomy & have a more cheerful appearance & so I am writing in the Dr.'s tent again. On the 26th I went & continued my visitation to Co. A. & had several interesting interviews with the men. Also Saturday morning made more calls. Mr. Bems, one of the Co. Sadlers has fixed my coat & pantaloons for me. In the evening I seated myself to prepare a sermon but the Col. & Major commenced a religious conversation with me which lasted till eleven o'clock, the Dr coming in & Quarter Master. The Col. seems strangely interested; it is remarkable to me. Sunday morning he had out the 39 articles, reading them very attentively. Saturday evening he seemed to think that personal reformation was what God requires as the ground of the Salvation & at about eleven or thereabouts both himself & the Col. seemed to be in a state of peculiar solemnity of mind. I can not explain it, but still during the day it seems to pass off & he is cheerful. The Major is quiet & thoughtful a great portion of the time. After our talk, I went in to Dr. Murphy's tent & sit with him beside his cheerful fire place, a regular old fashion one with blazing logs & a settee bed on either side, it looks so cozy. Well, the Dr. did not understand the Col. inquisitiveness, either. We have both noticed it much. We will pray God that it may be blessed to both the Col. & the Major. Sunday morning, after breakfast I went as usual to prayers at hospital tent & at eleven had service, nearly the whole regiment turning out on three sides of a square and I was aided Just as surely as before. In the afternoon, I went to an episcopal service with Col. Seaver over to the camp of the 27th N.Y.V. to hear Chaplain Webster; & old Chaplain Adams of the 5th Maine came too. Some neighboring regiments had sent for our band for a funeral (or our drum corps & fifers) & so our afternoon dress parade took place before Mr. Webster had finished, much to the apparent discomforts of both the Cols. of the 27th & 16th, and I heard a sermon, saw a dress parade (being right facing it) & also a skulker punished before all the men (all at the same time). Dress parade every day of the week is required by regulations, so the Col. has it. I wish it could be dispensed with on Sabbath, but so it must be, it seems. I forgot to give you description of our dress parade of Saturday. It was distinguished like the one Sunday eve. by the punishment of a "skulker in the face of the enemy." After the usual ceremony, the skulker was marched down before the whole line with a board upon his back, bearing in distinct lettering his crime, & then he was marched back again; there were two to be punished, but the 2d one was so drunk, they were obliged to keep him till Sunday, Sabbath evening. I held the 2d service in the hospital tents & had from 25 to 30 present, not including the sick men. The morning sermon text was 2 Cor. V: 1 "For we know that if one earthly house & c & the text of every sermon Gal. 5:25 "If we live in the spirit &c.
Morning service Invocation, Hymn 3 & 4 verse of Mid scene of Confusion & c. to "Home" reading scripture II Cor. V: 1-9 Prayer Hymn 1 & 3 verse of Guide me oh thou God, Jehovah, notices of weekly meeting Wednesday & Company Prayer meeting, two a night - Co. A 6 1/2 o'clock Monday evening, Co. B same evening 8 o'clock, Co. C & D next night same way & c. Then sermon. Prayer. Hymn: 2 verse, Stand up my Soul, Shake off the Fears. Benediction. The evening meeting was thrown open & we had a fine & earnest prayer & remarks from a number - a very interesting meeting. Monday morning, Dec. 29: Our tent was then down & the logs that the pioneers had brought were put up for a wall. We worked for some time & I carved on the left-hand side of the front log the head of Mark & on the right-hand side the head of Minerva with a pipe in her mouth. Sabbath evening, I forgot to say I sat some time with Pliny Moore (who was officer of the day) in the Adjutant's tent & also with the Major, talking sometime pleasantly together in front of a high camp fire. After they left, the Sergeant Major came & set down by me & told me how much he had enjoyed the meeting. It seemed to him, he said, like almost at home. He makes an earnest prayer & made remarks during the meeting. At about nine o'clock, Monday, I went down into Pliny Moore's tent & wrote some time. Met Chaplain Adams & he attended afternoon prayers in the hospital tent & prayed & in the evening we had our Company prayer meetings in the clear high moon light at about seven o'clock in Co. A & dear wily about 25 men turned out and very attentive. Then in Co. B at about 8 o'clock & nearly 20 turned out there, & after finishing, a man came to me from Co. A, saying he did not want it known that he had told me, but a man by the name of LaFountaine had been much impressed & he wanted me to see him in the morning. He was not then in his tent. Wify, pray that God will make a work of grace & give souls here to us as seals tonight. Co. C & D. C is a larger Co.: D. a small one. The man who told me waited some time & talked with me. Very interestingly, he thinks he is a christian but never made a profession (-------). Dear one I have been to the hospital for prayers & also been down in Co. A & seen LaFontaine. He is in a very desirable state of mind, at least he appears so to be & also another man, his comrade, he says, a young man by the name of Best, I believe, whom I will hope to see soon. Well now I must tell the history of today. Well I am at the time writing in the tent nearly fixed, a wall of split logs all around us; & opposite the door is a recess like a fire place about four feet deep in which, however, instead of having an open fire, we have in there a fine little camp stove which came yesterday. At the right hand side the stove is the Col's bed & on the left hand side the Major's & mine, a bed of boughs & blankets on the ground upon an india rubber blanket, that is, first came the boughs, then the india Rubber blanket then the other blankets; upon the edge of the wall is set the tent so that the whole establishment is three feet higher than it was, all round, with a wooden wall three feet from the ground all around. This enables us to have our fire place without cutting the tent or ripping it. Well, we had a fine tea here last night by a warm fire & then went to bed, I paying a visit to Dr. Crandall & Murphy before going to bed & finding them Just about to sit down to an oyster supper. I did not take any though for I find that keeping to my old habits of eating a hearty breakfast & dinner & light supper & nothing after it is the way for me whether in or out of camp. Occasionally when it has been cold I have taken some brandy or whiskey, but very little. It does not seem to be necessary for me to take it although people take it pretty freely down here. God has kept me from taking cold & I have been very well, a slight looseness of the bowels once or twice, but it went over & hubby is very well. We slept soundly last night & when the sun was up pretty well, I heard Pete outside asking Marshall, the cook, "Shall I wake them up" I thought at once we must have orders to march & sure enough, it was not long before orders came, first by word & then on paper, to have 3 days rations cooked in our haversacks & 6 days in waggons & 60 rounds of cartridges & to be ready to move in 12 hours notice. An order may come at any moment to go. Dr. Purdy has just come in & said "Your tent is very fine; glad you are going to stay in it so long!" Here is a peculiar expression used much down here, which some times is very expressive. It is "how are you" (something); the "how are you" being put before what is said as a kind of exclamation. Dr. Purdy this morning had just come out of this tent & stood before the camp fire when I told him of the 3 days rations & 60 rounds of cartridges, when he, looking on the ground meditating with his hands in his pockets, said so like quizingly, "how are you, three days rations." I wish you could get the comical idea of it that I did. Dr. Purdy has been reckoning on going to Washington. Well, we had our breakfast. We have Marshall as a waiter, then another cook & Pete & Edo & the Major's man, Coots & altogether it is quite a Pickwickian family. Marshall's the son & heir of old Paul Marshall of Plattsburgh. We had beef steak for breakfast, potatoes, biscuits heat & [?] pan cakes my light & nice ten; after breakfast, I prepared my letters, sent off your checks, went to the hospital, saw LaFountaine & then called upon one of the officers & then came up here & am now writing thus far on my journal (of Tuesday, Dec. 30, 1862)
It is now towards evening, before tea. I will tell you of dinner & the Col. as a good illustration of the spritely comicality of the Col. For several days the different companies have been drilling on the parade in front of the tent, "deploying a skirmishers & c. & c." & it has been one series of cries, such as "deploy as skirmishers," "rally by fours," "rally by sections," "rally on the reserve," & c. Well the Major & I (while waiting dinner for the Col., who was absent at a Court Martial) had been talking about the pendulum for some time but at last concluded to have dinner, it was not long before up went the fly of the tent (as some officer on the parade gave the order to his company "rally on the reserves.") Just at this moment up went the fly of the tent & in came the Col., saying "rally on the preserves." In a little while more he asked me for an onion which suggested the enigma "If I had been in Stanley's place when Marmion urged him to the chase & c." which when it was solved, the Col. said "yes, I see the point" where upon I told him there was no point, it was a tubatious root. "Yes sir" says he "There is a point. Dont you see it: on! I on. an exclamation point. Then it was suggested that as Marmion was then publicly having his troops deployed in skirmishers, they did not observe their exclamation points. Then somebody suggested that it might not have been so, when somebody else said it was all skirmishing in those days. Now the story of Bruce of the battle of Ruthyen on his pony clearing down to the saddle bow, an English knight that rode out of his own accord from the English lines as a skirmisher to fight the king. (Then some officer of my tent at this time, I think, gave the order to the troops on the parade "rally by sections," when the Col. said that was the order Bruce probably gave to the English knight when he cut him in two - "rally by sections." He is full of just such pleasantry. I have since dinner seen Best, the tent mate of LaFontaine & find that he is a christian. He tells me that LaFountaine has been thoughtful & that he has talked to him & that last night, after meeting, LaFountaine suggested to him that he should daily or at night & morning, I believe, read a chapter & pray with him. Best says at first LaFountaine was a profane man but at his advice he left it off but would sing acceptionable songs, at last he left those off also. I encouraged Best to persevere & ask God for yet greater blessings then he had already given him on his efforts. Best is a young man that left Hamilton College to come to the War & is hoping after the war, if spared, to study for the ministry.
Dec. 31st 1862. Own Dear One. Your letter of the 27th came safely to day, also with one from Dr. Derry enclosing one to a man in the Regiment, asking me to become acquainted with him & see him often, which I shall endeavor to do today. I am going slowly on (calling) & finding out every man's company & by name & staying & talking with him for a nice little space of time, so as really to make him think I want to know him & see him. Last evening Col. Scammon of the 5th Maine took supper with us & we had a very pleasant time; four at table makes just about right. The Drs., Dr Murphy & Crandall have a mess by themselves now & Dr. Purdy messes with the Quartermaster & the Col., Major & I together. Little Pete just stuck his little round face into the tent & then drew it out again. Here he comes again with wood to put into the little stove. The whole Regiment is now out on the parade ground engaged in general muster. The Col. is inspecting & mustering & hear him calling the rolls & hear also the ramrods ringing as the muskets of each one is being examined. After supper last night I went down to Co. C & D & held the consecutive prayer meetings & they were even better attended than the night before, to night being Wednesday, we have weekly lecture in the hospital tent. After the prayer meetings I went & paid a visit to Pliny Moore's tent & saw Lieut. Wallen, Capt. Barney & Tom, Capt. Moore's man & also the Capt. himself. Had a pleasant visit & after a while as some were fond of singing we commenced singing hymns: "Jesus Saves my Soul" to the "dwellers homeward fly." You remember. Also "Jesus, I my cup have taken" to my favorite tune, "When I can read my bible clear" to "Natty Bly." I also called on Capt. Gilmore; had a very pleasant visit also & also on three of the men of Co. J. Afterwards, I came back to the tent. I visited also during the evening, the Quartermaster & Dr. Murphy. We have heard nothing more about moving. Let me give you a little picture now, if possible, of how we get up in the morning & go out & get through the day. For instance, this morning, at about 1/4 before eight we are left to be waked up by the Col. sticking his head out from under his blankets on his camp bed stead (over to the right of the tent & right side of the fire place) & crying "Coots." Where upon Coots (also would be a real good character for Dickens) puts his head in the tent & receives his orders. Well this morning Marshall waked us. As for hubby's part which is about a good picture for every morning, he rise from his place under the blankets at the left hand side of the Major on the left side of the fire place, drew out his vest, pants, coat & overend cape from under his head (which makes a splendid pillow) put on his pants & then Edo brings my boots, puts them on & vest & coat & then unlocked one of the pockets of the saddle bags & took out : wify's toilet case & a towel & went outside with my hat on. Then Edo brought me a basin of water which I placed on a little rise of earth, then stuck my hat in the tent ropes, took off my coat & vest as usual & also my cravat & washed my face & hands & afterwards brushed my teeth. We all make our toilet in the open air. I wear one under flannel shirt & two of those grey ones & so I feel comfortable all the while. Well, after washing, I dried my towel as usual by a camp fire, folded it up & returned it & the toilet case to the saddle bags & then sit down to the breakfast table in the middle of the tent. Said grace as usual. Had a good breakfast: five light buckwheat cakes, beef steak, coffee, potatoes sweet & mash & c. & c. Soon I went to the hospital; sung there "Say brothers will you meet us" & c. to old John Brown, as we sing it in Sabbath school. Read a short passage, including - faith is the substance of things - hoped for & c & the better part of a preceding chapter Heb. Chap. X (28-36; XI: 1-5) & prayed & then tried to fix their chimney so as to prevent it smoking. The hospital stove is just a cone of sheet iron having no bottom, but just planted down in the ground & a small door in it & a pipe running outside. Soon I returned & past old Zollicoffer tied a little distance behind the tent to a tree & he was rearing & kicking up at a great rate as I came back. I found your dear letter & Dr. Derry's before referred to & according to dear wify request, I went back to old Zollicoffer & patted him on the neck, he receiving me by the by with his ears back & an expression betaking as much as he would be perfectly willing to eat up a few small chaplains. He has not had hay for some time; we can not carry hay well. Then I came back into the tent soon, & here am writing. I am very well & have all things pleasantly arranged. Now I must go & see the men again (the Col. & Major have come in & the former commencing to read one of Beecher's sermons, interrupted me by saying what is a "recompense of reward" & commenced to talk about it.)
Read these (two sheets) after the star or asterix on the 2d page of the 36 sheet
My own dear one. It is evening of the 26th of January. we are safe in camp & all well after a hard Journey. I have been reading over my journal preparative to sending it by tomorrow's mail. We are seated by the cheerful fire place, the Major is reading a novel "Mr. Hallministers Troubles" & I am writing. The Col. is in the Quartermasters tent. On reading from the star or asterix on the 2nd page of the 36 sheet to the star or asterix on the 4th page of the 39th sheet oh I have been quite amused! I have lived almost a lifetime since that was written & seen & known more of my firm & life friends here & it has really afforded me much diversion to see what a headache & a slight cold will work in a man's feelings. I write that passage of my journal during a temporary sickness & have alluded to selfishness & inhospitable places, inconvenience is to bear smoke as a nuisance, horseback riding as a burden. I have spoken of my sincere & earnest friend, the Major as selfish & unthoughtful & of Col. Seaver in a way that would present one of my companions in a way that might at once prejudice you against him. I at first thought that I would cut the pages out & not send them & fully I concluded to send them knowing that it was the heat of heats that was to have their contents & you would read them with these pages as wify would read them, for hubby's sake. The fact was I had a temporary sickness & most fearful headache owing to eating immediately from day to day of buckwheat cakes which produced two boils one on my cheek & the other on the side of my nose & giving me a headache & much discomfiture. I kept all my trouble to myself as I did not want to appear sick & so looking at the Col. & Major & others [?] me through a kind of green spectacles, I began to think the good old Major & Col. & others selfish & untrustful. I send these sheets because they will show you better than any thing just about how I felt. The good old quiet Major & Jolly Col. have done everything to make me comfortable & doubtless we have found a friendship in the midst of dangers & endurances that will last for life. Then I spoke of inhospitable Aquia Creek & lice breeding beds, in conscience as I trust all owing to my headache. Of course Aquia Creek is inhospitable & the soldiers tents lice breeding, great big lice, grey backs by name, but minus the headache they make no impression whatever. So also the tobacco smoke. It makes me feel like laughing out when I seen how I had written about it, & even horseback riding which you know is somewhat like sitting in a chair, to me seemed then to have been quite a burden. The hideousness of the profanity down hear appears yet just the same to me headache or no headache & the ritual of whiskey drinking & the ignomy of the "January lumb" so called, but I beg you not for the world to associate with it Major Frank, the Col., Pliny Moore nor Dr. Murphy, no not in the least. Then also my outbreak against the predilection to consider only August self. I find very nearly all attributable to that unfortunate headache. But there is one thing I allude to in these pages that it presents to me ever, that is the thought & lingering for the gentle endeavoring even the thoughtful, soul engrossing love of my own dearest, tender, single loved Fanny Fan, the dear, gentle partner of her own one, my precious wife. The Col. & the Major & Pliny have done all to make it pleasant for me & my position & relation to all is exceedingly agreeable. I think all that you would want as to respect & dignity & at the same time without restraint, full of fun, even comical, & in every good way agreeable. Such as renders gentlemen enduring friends that are not made in a day. Among men, you know, there is nothing shows one another to one another so much as experience of one another's characters amidst hardships & trials & tests of courage & c & c & c. I have interpolated these pages so that you might have the idea contained here in as our real relation to one another and at the same time have the other part of the journal referred to as an admittedly illustrative of about the exact way in which hubby felt in consequence of a headache in the wilderness. What I say about Dr. Murphy being a timid christian I think is correct but he has only been a professor of religion one year & he has much yet to learn from the great master & it is not to be supposed that he would like those who had longer experience, their masters tuition. I want you to have the right view too of the Col. & the Major in the particular respect of a religious light. They are not religious men, but they seem to be exceedingly thoughtful. I think they are wanting to be christians. You see I have taken means in these two sheets to let all that I have written seem its end, but at the same time that you might have the full impression that I have endeavored to give you here in. Oh, how I wish I could talk with my own one & kiss her right on my own itly ips & press her to my own bosom my own dear, gentle, dearest wife.
* Well Jan. 1 1863 dawned upon
us and I spent part of the day writing to wify, Mother Swetland & Lizzy
& James & Sargent. At about dinner time, Mr. Webster, chaplain of
the 27th N.Y. near us came in to see me & he talked some time, took dinner
with us. He married some cousin or niece of Aunt Hannah Townsend of Albany.
After dinner, Col. Seaver of another regiment, namesake of our Col's, came
in with our Col. & set sometime. He is no relative, only a name sake.
That day I took cold sitting in the tent. They have made a cabin of it &
put a stove in it & it made it so hot that I took cold in my head
& commenced to have a headache. That evening, I held my company prayer
meetings, with E & F & then returned to see a most revolting picture
of army life, a regular first of January brunt as it is called. A
number of officers from our regiment & others had gathered in Dr. Crandall's
tent & were amusing themselves smoking & in drinking commissary whiskey
& with the music of a violin & banjo. Dr. Crandall & several
others were quite out of the way (of course not Dr. Murphy, he is a very
fine & christian man). The Major & the Col. were in their own tent.
They drank some but not to excess. Soon the rioters came out with
Dr. Crandall & fell in, in marching order & marched down to the company
officers quarters & then came back & surrounded Col. Seaver &
the Major. They were asked in; had some more liquor there. I spent the evening
with the quarter master in front of the Adjutant's tent & fire. In the
interval, while Dr. Crandall & the others were down at the officers quarters,
I went in & joined in prayer with Dr. Murphy, who remained in his tent.
At quite a late hour, I crawled into bed beside the Major; the Major &
Col. were not among the carousers; & at 1/2 past five in the morning,
the Quarter Master waked me to go down to Aquia Creek. According to agreement
night before, we proposed to ride four miles to Falmouth & then take
the cars & go down. The Quarter Master is a fine man (nephew of the
Mathematics at West Point) of (Davis Barndon maternity). He is a perfectly
temperate man. We rode off just at day break & reached the cars in time
& attained a pass from the Provost Marshall & soon were on the way.
Rode on open truck cars & run backwards and forwards to get ourselves
warm, had to stop nearly an hour to let Gen. Burnside & his staff go
by in a box car drawn by an engine. At last we reached Aquia Creek landing,
the most inhospitable place possible, docks made of wood in the midst of
a marsh & shanties upon it; all along the way down smokey cabins of
duty soldiers on guard & not on guard, crawling in & out of
their lice breeding huts by the way side, and the most villainous,
bare faced, revolting profanity I have ever heard. It seemed to me here as
if little puny men shook their fists right against heaven & rolled out
wherever acting without sense or reason or provocation in the
very face of the Almighty. (Here, right in an ambulance removed from the
camp, where I have gone to write & escape from the smoke, it is yet right
about me & on the most irrational ones & conversation the most filthy).
Don't let a man talk to me of the dignity of the human race &
their aspirations heavenward. I think the race more degraded than
before. I believe the scripture more fully than ever. They will soon
sunder their tongues. Their heart is fully set in them to do evil. I know
now it would seem to me better than ever why one of old said "by the grace
of God I am what I am." Well we reached Falmouth to see selfishness in
its highest development & more profanity. After attending to our business
we took our place again upon a loaded truck to come back. I must not forget
to say that we went on board the steamboat Zepher (what a name for
such a boat) & took dinner, codfish & potatoes & then we started
for here. I was merely seated on a truck car when a sentry drove us off telling
us we must get into some box car, not loaded, or not go at all, so I entered
a box car crammed to the brim with men & officers & soon we were
under way. The atmosphere at best was very unpleasant, but soon (about every)
other man or so, out with his villainous old briarwood pipe.
(The most able companion of almost every officer & soldier in the Army)
& commenced to smoke. Well you may imagine! What would poor wify have
done! Finally we reached Falmouth again & you may reasonably suppose
my headache that I started with in the morning was not
much benefited. Next was a jolting ride of four miles on horseback. Well
my Codfish dinner (which it was quite marvellous that I had retained so long)
forthwith on reaching camp came up & with the ade of some hot water
very effectually. Of course I did not have my prayer meetings that night
with Co. G & H as expected. I lay down in Dr. Murphy's bed & went
to sleep. It was almost impossible to get rid of the camp fire & tobacco
smoke, which when a fellow has a headache is very unpleasant. Two little
boils began to come out, one on my nose & the other on
my cheek. They told me I must take whiskey. The insult - the insult to wify's
husband - commissary whiskey. (Whiskey & oaths - tobacco - dirt &
camp fire smoke) are all associated in my mind down here as one enduring
abomination & I hope the same sentiment is or will be abiding in my mind
every where. I know what was the matter. I must take some salt, thought I
did not take any that night, Saturday came. Saturday was a pretty hard day
for me. I hardly went into any tent to escape from the smoke, without, when
just as I was feeling a little relieved somebody would come in &
out with his loathsome pipe & commence to smoke, corrupting
at once what little fresh air there might be within. Well, Saturday night
I met Co. G & H & also Co. J & K holding four short meetings
& thus completing the regiment & Saturday night I took some salts
(Epsom) & sit up till 1/2 past one to have it aspirate, which relieved
me. Sunday morning, I took some more, small doses you know, to act like Empire
water. Sunday we had our Sabbath morning exercise short & in the evening
the 2d service at 7 o'clock in the hospital tents & the Lieutenant gave
me some simple cerate to rub on my little boils & oh how it relieved
me. It stopped the burning. The steward has been very kind - almost every
body else dont care for boils & a cold in the head - that is no account
- The army style not to care about trifles - & I am almost beginning
to think that it is army style not to care about any thing, but
most august self- you may be partly, since I let no body be
troubled by my troubles, but it has made me feel for the poor men
who are sick even more than before. Corporal Flagg, has for instance last
evening cut his finger off just all but a hanging of flesh; he may preserve
the piece & may not - but "it was not anything." You know, perhaps it
would not have been much if it had been his leg, however, hubby thinks
differently about such matters. Nor does he think less than he did before
& so I hope he will always think, that it takes not one whit from manhood
to sympathize with one in any trouble. Oh! it costs so little & oh how
precious it is to experience, wify oh! wify! Your dear, devoted, thoughtful
love, will it ever be forgotten by hubby. I have written all this so that
wily may know all. Then too, now I may have given a wrong idea of spiritual
matters among certain officers. Col. Seaver spent all Sabbath reading a novel
& the Major read some of the same in the evening. The Major is a quiet
kind of unimpressive man, fine fellow though he seems to be in some, yet
many, respects. Pliny Moore I like much. Somewhat like his father, a quiet
dependable. Dr. Murphy is a christian, I like him but I do not think him
a strong-firm man. He seems to be somewhat timid as a christian. I am in
the Col. & Major's mess. That is we three make one mess. The Col. wanted
me to be caterer for the mess the other day put the accounts &
see that the things were clean & c in the cook tent. I told him I was
not good at those things very pleasantly - & very quickly
- declined such a responsibility. If God gives me grace there shall not be
another added to the list of such as have degraded the exalted office of
the divinity by being insecure, cringing, toadying Chaplain. God has given
me enough thus far to go on quietly, successfully gaining respect. It is
remarkable how the men turn out in all the meetings. We are now organizing
a choir so as to have general singing on the Sabbath. We have many
fine criers in the regiment. This morning I rose earlier, took my small dose
of saltz, took a walk over to White Oak Church & visited a house of a
poor white, talked with his wily & self about Christ. He had five children.
He was the man, that the night we went down on picket for the first time,
was sitting that night by the side of the fire place & the old
fashioned bar directing the officers about the roads & c.
I have returned & visited the hospital & had prayers, taken dinner & am now sitting in the ambulance referred to writing this on the afternoon of Monday Jan 5 1863.
* Jan 13th 1863: Dear one - I am very well, boils all gone. The saltz gave me a fine attending to & Then I took some whiskey & brandy & fixed up fresh again. God has kindly relieved me. The interval from the 5th to the 13th has not occurred of being sick, but on account of being busy working like a grand fellow. I have been reading over these 3 or four last sheets, in fact all from the beginning & these 3 or 4 last ones seem to me quite finally to bring back to me how a man feels amid camp smoke & tobacco smoke when he has a headache & cold. First I thought I would write it over as it would give you a somewhat wrong impression to send so & then again I thought also to send it to wily Just as it is written & let you make all allowances.
Everything appeared so different to me when I had a headache people so selfish & I looked quite through smoked glasses. I don't care you know for tobacco smoke you know, rather like it & as for the men down here they are about as thoughtful as men are usually, but you may take these 3 or 4 sheets 36, 37a 38 & 39 as a pretty good indication of how I felt then & wify wants that so I must send it. Well Monday 5th you know I wrote the last, then Tuesday & Monday night, my two boils troubled me so much that I gave up the prayer meetings in the companies & spent some time in the Quartermaster's tent. Tuesday I was asleep & c. Tuesday night, Wilson the Brigade Adjutant came in & told us that the Regt. would be marched down to Belle Plain landing for three days, a part remaining here to guard the tents & c. So I concluded to remain up here with Dr. Crandall & [?]. Wednesday the Regt. started & shortly after Dr. Crandall's brother arrived, a very pleasant gentleman from New York. I, of course, gave up my place in the Dr. tent & took Dr Purdy's bed in the Quartermaster's tent. Dr. Purdy, I forgot to say, succeeded a day or two ago in having leave to go to Washington. Well, the Quartermaster & I have had such a pleasant time. He is a real honest, good hearted man from the vicinity of Ogdensburgh. I had a splendid, comfortable sleep in his tent & Thursday I set my ints to wash to have a bath. I took my meals with Dr. Crandall, Dr. Murphy going into our mess down at Belle Plain. Well, Dr. Crandall & his brother went out to take a ride for. two hours & so I took my little hatchet & went out & cut four "Y" sticks somewhat this fashion Y & four straight ones about 18 inches long & then four more 4 sticks & four more straight ones 3 feet long then & went back to Dr. tent & before his fine old fire place stuck the four 4 sticks into the ground in the form of a square & crossed the four straight sticks over so as to make a square & then formed the four 3 foot sticks in a larger square around upon the four other 4 sticks & when all was arranged I threw my india rubber blanket over, pressing it down in the center & thus formed a kind of hot bath tub & then Sam, the Dr. Contraband, brought me a pail full of hot water & hubby took a delightful warm bath & put on clean clothes, all before a blazing fire in a canvass house, so you see how comfortable a fellow can be in the woods. Pliny Moore makes a tub by throwing his india Rubber blanket over his valises & c. My plan makes quite a good shaped hot bath.
Well Thursday night I had a fine sleep again in the quartermaster's tent, but in the afternoon I busied myself otherwise. I had made up my mind to have our tent comfortable. So I went & gathered some boards & barrel stoves together & made a center of wood & finished it all before evening. Friday morning I placed it in the recess where our camp stove used to be & packed mud all around it, mixing in straw with it, I made the centre entirely with my little hatchet which has proved a valuable little help to me all along, although they told me at first it was too small. Well, I packed & paddled mud all around the wooden centre & then built a chimney of sod above it. Edo became sick so as not to be able to help me much so I did it nearly all myself. Then I built fire in it & burned out the wooden center, the mud baking hard like a brick soon burned. Well the consequence is that now we have a real fine, old fashion healthful fire place in our tent instead of that stove. When it was dry, I cut the face into blocks so that the fire place looks thus now:
Next I took Edo & went out in a grove
& cut poles & made myself a bunk, a bed stead about five feet
high so that the Major's bed could go under it. I nailed little poles length
ways up & down the bed stead for slats & it makes a most comfortable
bed & takes me up off the ground high & dry & the Major is off
the ground too in his camp bed stead. Well I finished all Saturday afternoon
& we were expecting the regiment hourly. It rained nearly all day Saturday
& our tent was off the wooden wall, as it had been carried down to Belle
Plain. So the floor of the tent became a mud puddle & oh how dirty &
I tried to hit upon some plan by which I could dry it for we were to sleep
there that night, so at last when the rain held up a little I dug down outside
in some place below the mud & found dry earth. I took shovels full of
this & threw into & upon the tent floor of mud & after scraping
it round. Then removed it again & threw in some more, in this way, I
succeeded in making the floor quite dry again, but just at this juncture,
down came the rain again & also the darkness. In about an hour after,
when I was sitting by Dr. Crandall's cheerful fire place, in came Dr. Murphy.
He had arrived before the others from Belle Plain. The regiment came in by
squads. Oh, the roads were fearful, complete pudding. At last came the Major
& Col. Well we went to work & put the tent up & freshened up
the fire & then renewed my plan of digging down outside for dry earth
& throwing it in & c. & soon we made the floor comparatively
dry again & the Major & the Col. did really seem to be thankful.
They had had an awful time on the way & now in about half an our or so
quite contrary to their expectations, they found themselves in a pleasantly
arranged tent & a rousing, cheerful fire & a pretty good assurance
of a comfortable nights' rest. I put my rubber blankets down on my new bed
stead & then a little pallet of Dr. Purdy's filled with dry leaves &
then my other blankets & enjoyed the most comfortable bed I have
had since I have been soldiering. I slept finely & very warmly, taking
a good brandy toddy, as I had been working hard all day & oh how comfortable
the tent is. There is a blazing fire now lighting up the tent. It is eleven
o'clock at night. The Col. is fast asleep in his bed & the Major is reading
& I am writing. There are our two beds, one above the other, looking
very inviting & soon we are expecting to be in them. To night I have
had my Company prayer meetings as usual with Co. C & D. Last night with
Co. A & B. To night, I have tried a new plan. I took down little paper
lanterns set on 4 feet poles, which I arranged this evening just about night
fall, going out into the bush & cutting my sticks with my dear little
hatchet. These pole lanterns I set round in a circle in the quarters &
distributed the books (hymn books) given to us the other day & we had
two very pleasant meetings. Sunday morning, the men were so tired & engaged
in making themselves comfortable that we omitted the morning service &
had the second one in the hospital tents at evening. Monday, Jan. 12th,
yesterday, we worked at the tent & c., making little convenient arrangements,
putting a shelf all around to lay things on & c. & c. & I worked
some out in the woods with Edo, chopping & c. & c. This morning,
I have written some to you as you see reading over what I had written before.
We had dinner at three o'clock or half past. Then I met my second unit to
the hospital & after that made my lanterns for the evening, prepared
myself & c. Then had our meetings, then talked here in the tent with
Dr. Murphy, the Major & the Col. then paid a visit to the Sergeant Major
in his tent then returned & have been writing from the place of the
picture of the fire place. The Col. & Adjutant Wilson were playing
chess this morning (up till about dinner time) here in the tent. Dear one
& now I must write something about your Journey & I am so glad to
hear that my own dear little wify reached Plattsburgh in safety. Your dear
letters came safely from Springfield, Albany, Burlington & Plattsburgh,
at least written in these places & so you have had your teeth all fixed.
And did my own little wify go alone to Plattsburgh or was Mr. Eddy with her
& now little one, I must try & answer your questions. 1st I will
try & not risk exposure for the sake of seeing sights or in any way out
of my sphere as chaplain. 2d as I have told you above, I have a most excellent
bed stead, & have also sent for a miserable one by Hastings who has gone
to New York. 3d I have enough blankets, plenty. 4th I have Edo, who is a
pretty good servant, 5th I have another plan about your letters, then destroying
them. I am going to send them home either by mail or by opportunity. I can
not destroy them dear one; trust to hubby. 6th I have sent Van Rensselaer
form of letter with checks in it. 7th as to sending me things: I don't
think of anything now, except you may occasionally send me a handkerchief
in a letter, not more than three, until I write again about it. 8th as to
anything that you can do for me, own one, I know you would do every thing
& anything for your own hubby. Loved me dearly, own one all the while,
& pray that God will bless us dearly & thank him for giving hubby
health & ask him to keep hubby & wify in health & spare them
long to one another. Now my own one, I must go to bed so good night, with
kisses from own ever loving hubby. The Major is Just going to bed & says
soliliquizingly 1/2 past eleven --------------------
Jan. 14th 1863: Own Dear one -- a short time ago I returned from our Wednesday evening lecture. I took in my standing lights without the paper shields or lanterns & then gave us quite an illumination in the hospital tent and we had a very pleasant meeting. I took in hymn books or rather the Sergeant Major brought those I gave to him & the men sung starting their own tunes which helps me very much. This morning I took a cleaning up, my clothes had unfortunately gathered pitch upon them, so I went to Latz, the hospital Steward & obtained from him some spirits of Turpentine & cleaned the clothes, I have been trying today to find out about Col. Piessner's regiment & Charlie Lewis' whereabouts, but in so doing, although unsuccessful, I have found that Capt. Seward commands the 146 N.Y. & Bob Potter the 51st. They are near here & I hope tomorrow to find them out & in this way I shall find out about Peissner & Charlie Lewis. Perhaps the regiments I speak of are perhaps some 5 or six miles from here in the woods. I think I may ride over tomorrow & find them.
A brother of Mr. Howland came over to see me to day & ask me if the Regimental library could be sent here, but as we may move at any time the Col. thought it had better not be sent. We took dinner at three o'clock. Woolsey came after dinner & went into the hospital with me & gave some papers to the men. Dr. Murphy has received today an appointment of full surgeon of the 12th Regt. N.Y.S.V. & is going to accept so we will lose him. I am glad for him, but sorry to lose him. I like him much. He seems to me rather timid as a Christian but yet he seems to be a fine man & I shall miss him. I went into his & Dr. Crandall's tent this afternoon & prepared for the evening lecture & then went down to the company officers tents & had them remind the companies of the meeting & we did have a very good one. Text was Dut. 24:42 "Watch therefor for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come-" Two thoughts Watch - & In view of the Lord's coming. To watch must be - vigilant fully armed - & confident - To be victorious must keep moving so christian [?], not weary in well doing - fits mid with wheel armor of God - guard against influx of Sin - work exemplary - & be ready to render a reason for Life - Next coming of Lord - Cause to every man at death "our" Lord in two senses our Savior if we will have him as our judge & condemner if we will not have him. Next our ignorance of his hope of coming so watch & prepare. That is the draft. I use a good many illustrations, and took our nightly sentinel as a type of the Christian watching.
Dear one: I received a N.Y. Times to day from you, sent from Plattsburgh & it did me good to read it; date was the 7th of Jan. Still it was interesting to me. I like to read it. We have only the N.Y. Herald here or some such way of thinking paper. Today we had quite an amusing scene in camp. The men found a flying squirrel & they were chasing it all around & had quite a little excitement about it. My Papers for the men have come, the Christian Banner, & they are very much pleased with them.
Dear one, I hope the journal letter is not lost. I have in some way depended on that. I have not written a letter every day, but have written from time to time & this journal letter so that now I have about averaged six of these pages a day or perhaps five. We live so confusedly & it is so hard to get at the writing. Little tents & people coming in & out but now I have it pleasanter for I can mount up into my five foot bedstead, get out of the way & write up there from time to time, but it is better for me not to remain long at rest but to keep moving & then take a good sleep, go to bed early & getting up about eight o'clock. The fire place works finely & makes it very pleasant in here. I was introduced to Gen. Bartlett today. He is a very young man & rather good looking. My boils have all healed up & I am doing finely. The saltz gave me a good cleansing, & the whiskey also did me a good turn but now I have given up both & find I am in excellent condition, can hardly get enough to eat. The Major has just come in & now I think I will go to bed & have a good rest, God willing. The wind blows hard tonight & flaps the tent about much, the walls go in and out & the candle flickers badly but soon I hope to be covered up snugly in bed & forget all about the wind. So my own dear one, good night with dear kisses from own ever loving hubby. Write me as often as you can, own one, but don't sit up late; take good long sleep & sound, it is what we both need & both neglect good night dear one.