No. 5-ON TO WASHINGTON
Our camp in Baltimore was on open ground in front of Fort Marshall. The fort was occupied by the Fifth New York regiment of heavy artillery. Its guard-house and sutler’s shops were outside the earthwork, and both of them were more or less patronized by our regiment, although not, of course, with an equal relish. Although the two regiments were within a few feet of each other there was not much intercourse between them. Regiments are clannish, and companies are clannish.
It does not seem possible that ten companies of men can live in the small compass of a regimental camp even for a few days and not know each other, and yet three years together keep each company perfectly distinct, and find many of the regiment unacquainted with each other. Of course comrades find chums outside of their own companies as persons due affinites outside of their families, but there are exceptions to the rule.
The days passed monotonously with drill, fatigue work, and guard duty.
The first death in our company took place on Thursday, October 2nd. The comrade was Charles Small, aged twenty-six years. He went into the hospital six days before his death, stricken with what is called the “Baltimore fever” a combination of typhoid fever with other disorders. The remains were embalmed at the expense of the company and sent on to Danbury. Comrade Small was of a lively temperament, and was very popular in the company. He was buried in Danbury with military honors. The funeral took place in the Methodist church, Rev. Mr. Crawford preaching the sermon.
On Wednesday, October 15th, we received orders to be up at 4 a.m. next morning to make ready for a move. Prompt to the hour the drum corps of the regiment marched through the company streets playing with the enthusiasm the well known air, “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” It was an early hour to turn out, but the prospect of a move was welcome as a change. Had we been able to look forward we would not have heard this music with rejoicing.
As we struck tents the rubbish that had accumulated, such as board floor and bedsteads, was gathered into piles and set on fire, and, uniting hands, we danced jubilantly around the flames, as so many rejoicing Indians might be supposed to do. At8 o’clock Colonel Noble gave the orders:
“Shoulder arms! By sections right wheel, march.”
The drum corps of the Fifth New York escorted us into the city, and to the Baltimore and Ohio railway station, where we took a freight train for Washington.
A kitten belonging to the drum corps rode on the knapsack of one of the men, through the city, as content as if it was back of a kitchen stove. It excited considerable attention and comment from the people along the line of march. At the station we found a large concourse of people to see us off. Many of them had bunches of flowers which they gave to the regiment. The Baltimore people liked the Seventeenth, as our boys, when in the city, invariably behaved themselves. We left the Monumental City at twenty-five minutes pastone o’clockof that day. As the train moved away it was greeted by cheers from the people assembled.
The cars were loaded. The load was greater than the cars and many of us rode on the roofs. I was one of the number, and was glad it was so, as it gave me an opportunity to see the country. At the Relay House, or Washington junction, where the road separated, a part running to Washington and a part to West Virginia, our train was delayed a half hour waiting for a train from Washington to pass us. When the war broke out this place was guarded by the Union forces to prevent transportation to Washington and Harper’s Ferry. One hour’s ride brought us to Annapolis junction, where we waited until all the regular trains went by so to give us a free track. At this junction we met General Burnside, who was on a train going north. We flocked to see him. In response to our call he came out to the platform of his car and made us a speech. What we noticed particularly about him was that he wore a hickory shirt, with a long black neckerchief loosely tied at his throat.
We arrived in Washington at 9 o’clock in the evening, and were given a supper at the “Soldiers Retreat”. We were then marched to a barrack near by where we bunked for the night.
The next morning we were marched to Tenallytown, a suburb of Washington. The following extract from the Connecticut history of the war is of interest in this connection:
“While the contest forMarylandwas going on at Antietam the Seventeenth Connecticut remained at Fort Marshall menacing the rebels of Baltimore. When the excitement subsided Colonel Noble asked the authorities atWashingtonthat the regiment might be permitted to join General Sigel’s corps, according to previous understanding. General Wool was much incensed, and instead of this it was ordered to Tenallytown, and put to work entrenching a hill that was afterward known asFortKearney, in the northward defenses of Washington.”
We were marched to the other side of Tenallytown and took a camp just vacated by the 138th New York. Here we arrived at 3 p.m.; had supper of bread and coffee shortly after, and went to bed early.
October 18th we moved our tents a short distance. No duty, only guard. The weather was warm through the day, but cold at night.
October 19th P.T. Barnum brought General Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt to our camp. Everybody flocked to see the midgets. The great showman made us a speech on temperance, and the midgets sang for us. It was an agreeable break in our camp life.
Our camp was called after Nellie Seward, daughter of the secretary of state. It was reported that our regiment was to be turned into heavy artillery. Reports of an equally starting nature were common to all camps throughout the war. It was not known who originated them, or how they were suggested; but they were nearly always false. In this case the report was probably suggested to some wag by the earth digging we were required to do to make Fort Kearney, which digging he seriously objected to, and which toll he relieved by perpetrating this yarn.
In view of our many moves in this camp, the following, written by George S. Purdy, of Company C, is appropriate:
“War is a curious affair. Besides being very curious it is very disagreeable because there is no dependence to be placed on it. One day you are here, and the next day you are there, and the following day you are somewhere else. You get to a place, pitch your tent, and conclude to arrange more comfortable quarters. At great trouble you put up a wood work and a chimney, over which you have done considerable loud talking. You finish all the preparations in time to hear the order to fall in and move on.”
Here is an incident that illustrates a phase of camp life. A few rods from out camp a sutler who sells better stock at cheaper rates than does our sutler. And we patronized him liberally. Our sutler got mad at this and complained to the “officer of the day”, who had the regimental guard placed between our sulter and this one. As we could not pass the guard line without a permit, this shut us out from trading with the other man. Of course the act made us mad, and we would not trade with our man at all. When this state of things came to the knowledge of our colonel the guard line was changes to its original position.
No. 6-GOING INTO VIRGINIA
Saturday, October 25th, Archibald Cromms, of Company I, died. At dusk the same day Colonel Noble was injured by falling into one of the regiment’s artistic rifle pits. His arm was badly hurt. Shortly after Lieut. Col. Walters was riding horseback in the city when his horse stumbled and threw him. He was seriously hurt by the fall, and the horse was killed.
Walters was a German, very quick tempered, but a pretty thorough officer. He was a heavy built man, with a fair face.
Elias Johnson, of Company B, died on the 26th of October.
The men of the regiment were doing considerable growling at this time. They entered service to kill rebels (they claimed) and not to dig trenches. Several times they rebelled openly against being detached for this work, and the officers threatened to punish them, but no punishment of any importance was afflicted. When they had been in the service some time longer they did the duty they were called to without any open mutterings. Through the days they dug earth, and at nights they sat about the fires and told stories and sang songs.
The night of October 26th a violent rainstorm set in, and all through the night and pretty much all of the next day the rain fell in torrents. Our tent houses were in many cases swamped, and in such a disordered state were the companies at reveille that the roll call was dispensed with. This was the severest storm we had experienced, and it effectually dampened the ardor of all, while many it thoroughly demoralized. A sample of the raw state of discipline in the regiment was given today. Myself and tent mates started to build a more substantial house, in which we could have a fire. While we were at work the colonel came along and asked us what we were doing. We told him. “There is no use of it,” he said, “I can’t have you shifting around like this.” One of us answered: “You have your comforts, and we want ours.” “Don’t talk to me like that. I have no fire in my tent yet.” With that he went away. We did not like what he said, and one of our group suggested we load our guns and go to the colonel and demand our rights. It sounds real silly now, to look back on such talk, but we were in dead earnest. The colonel ought to have spanked us. Shortly after we backed out of building the hut.
Digging and growling filled up the time until the 30th, when the report came that we were to move the next morning. It was said we were going to Centreville,Va., to join General Sigel’s corps. The members of the regiment received this news with rejoicing. They paraded through the company streets, singing and throwing their caps in the air. About this time the dissatisfaction with the regimental sutler had grown so great that the foreign sutler whom we were now patronizing said he would go with us intoVirginia if we would agree to patronize him. We promised him our trade so long as he continued to sell at the reasonable prices he was now supplying us at. There was quite a contrast between his prices and our sutler’s. For instance, pies which our sutler asked twenty cents for he sold for eight cents. This was remarkably cheap, even for army pies.
November 1st, Major Brady joined the regiment and took command while Col. Noble and Lieut. Col. Walter were recovering from their injuries.
At 4 o’clockMonday morning, Nov. 3rd, the reveille was sounded through all the company streets, and before daylight we had breakfast. At 9 o’clock we had marched to the dock at Georgetown, where we took the steamer, Martha Washington, and sailed to Alexandria.
At 6 o’clock that evening we left the depot in Alexandria and marched to Camp Parole in the suburbs ofAlexandria, where we stayed for the night. In the morning we marched to the station of the U.S. military railway. Company D, First Connecticut cavalry escorted us. Here we took cars for Manassas Junction where we arrived in the middle of the afternoon. In going to the train inAlexandriawe passed a large brick building on which was the following sign:
“PRICE, BURG & BROTHERS,
DEALERS IN SLAVES.”
At the junction we stacked arms, received two days rations, and began arrangements for supper and the night.
In a very short time two or three hundred fires were blazing, and over them innumerable small kettles were cooking coffee and pork. After supper we drew our blankets about us and went to sleep.
Manassas junction was a revelation to us. It was our first glimpse of the horrors of war. Heretofore we had seen only camps. Now we were looking upon a scene of military ruin. There were two miles of Federal cars, burned to the track by the enemy. They had been full of provision for our army, but fell into the hands of the Confederates, who, after robbing them of all they could carry away, fired them.
There were broken guns, dismantled gun carriages, bayonets, accoutrements and cannon balls scattered over the plain. And among these were the bodies of men who lay as they had fallen in the struggle, and with them the carcasses of horses and mules who had also perished here. It was a ghastly sight. A few weeks before this was a comfortable little village with a government bake-shop, whose ovens were seen in ruins.
At one o’clock we took up a line of march for Centreville. Two miles on the road the order was countermanded and the column was started for Gainesville, fifteen or sixteen miles to the north ofManassas. In this march we passed over the battlefields of the first and second Bull Run. The evidences of the struggle were startling and numerous. There were quantities of cannon-balls, shells, parts of cannon, broken wheels, haversacks, canteens and clothing. Of another and very ghastly feature of this ground, Captain Daniels-then first lieutenant of Company C-writes as follows:
“After a while we reached the battlefield of the second Bull Run where the dead had only a few shovelfuls of earth thrown over them; some with a hand out, some a foot, others with the earth washed off from their heads. Well, the boys had a lot of grim fun over them. The ones with hands uncovered were waiting for the paymaster, those with feet out wanted to kick the commissary for not furnishing rations, those with faces out were waiting for reveille. Broken guns, old cartridge boxes and all kinds of army supplies were everywhere. One sight that made a lasting impression on me was a man’s leg hanging in a bush, all withered and black. One of our boys thought it would be well to take it along as some as us might lose one and then it would come in handy. We then came to the first Bull Run battlefield, and on the exact ground where the old Third charged and captured a battery. Captain Moore had been Captain of Company C in that regiment and I had been corporal. We stood on the exact spot where the orderly sergeant, Marsh, was killed. A shell took off both legs. The look of agony on his face will never be forgotten by me. The house the old Third had used for a hospital was on fire over to the left. Captain Moore cried as if his heart would break. A few rods beyond we crossed the old stone bridge over which we had retreated in the third. Some half mile further on we camped in some old rebel camp made of log huts. This was the exact ground on which the old Third had camped for three days before the battle. You can imagine that Captain Moore and myself were full of past recollections.”
Bordering a portion of the battle plain was a piece of wood which shot and shell had transformed from its normal condition into a piece of curiosity. In the storm of shot and shell the trees had been cut into innumerable shapes.
I am reminded by this march of an incident that occurred thereon which shows that in war the battle is not always to the strong nor the race always to the swift. There was a member of Company K who was a giant. He was six feet, four and three-quarters of an inch in his stockings. There was another member of the company who weighed but eighty pounds. It was almost a daily custom of the giant, to show his strength, to lift the little man in the air on his hand. And yet the giant broke down on this march, and had to fall out, and shortly after was discharged for disability. The eighty pound soldier served through the three years, successfully enduring all the hardships of camp and march.
At 7 o’clock in the evening of November 5th, we arrived atGainesville, and pitched camp in a field. Here we drew shelter tents. Each man had a square yard of canvas. Two men formed the tent by combining their pieces, stretching them over a center piece (about four feet high), in the shape of a letter A. There were a row of buttons on one piece, and holes on the other, and the two were united over the cross piece in the centre by buttoning them. The loose ends were fastened to the ground with pegs. Two men could lay under this tent with some degree of comfort, by lying close, but they could hardly sit up in under it, and in case of rain (unless they had taken the precaution to make a bank ditch around the structure) they were pretty sure to wake up in a puddle.
No. 7—MARCHING IN VIRGINIA
We stayed in Gainesville four days. The place was not of much account—at least what we saw didn’t signify much. It was a good locality for rabbit hunting, and the boys pursued those four-legged confederates with considerable zeal. They caught a number of them. The mode of capture was to chase the rabbit and yell at him till he was paralyzed. At 10 o’clock the morning after our arrival we were ordered to strike tents, pack knapsacks and be ready to move. When this was done the order to move was countermanded, and we unpacked knapsacks and put up the tents, and started in pursuit of more rabbits.
We were now in a brigade under command of General McLane (McLean), the other regiments being Ohiotroops—25th, 55th and 75th regiments. A snow storm set in at night, and those of the boys who had no shelter took the snow direct from heaven in all its virgin whiteness, and presented very picturesque spectacles in the morning. The next day was exceedingly cold, forcing the boys to skirmish around after wood for camp fires. By these they sat through the day, as there was no drilling going on.
Our regiment was now in the 2nd brigade, 1st division, Sigel’s corps. We were hourly expecting orders to advance and take part in a movement to check the rebels near Fairfax court house. Sunday morning, November 9th, those orders came. We were given twenty rounds of cartridges and one day’s rations. We left Gainesville at 8 o’clock in the morning, and marched to Thoroughfare Gap, in the mountains, a place well known by name to readers of the war history. Part of the brigade went through the Gap; the balance, including the Seventeenth, pitched camp this side. The locality was calledAntioch church. This place was a novel appearing one to us. There were but very few houses thereabouts, and scarcely any of them in sight of another. The church was a stone structure, simple in form. It stood in a grove. About it were posts where the saddle-horses of the worshipers were wont to stand during the service. The original Antioch could not have appeared more primitive to us from busy Connecticut.
We reached Antioch church just before noon. We pitched tents in a large field used probably for pasture by its owner when he had the chance to use it. As soon as the tents were up many of the boys, and not a few of the officers started out to forage. A week of hardtack and salt junk had whetted our appetites for something fresh and pliable: The result of the forage were turkeys, chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep and pigs. It was a disastrous sabbath for farm stock.
Eleven members of Company C were in the hospital at this time, several of them being located in Baltimore and the others inWashington. Other companies were similarly disabled.
Tuesday evening an order was issued for the advance of the artillery and cavalry of the division, and in fifteen minutes they were on their way. A column of these troops, with baggage trains, were moving by us all night.
Orders came to our colonel. He had the drum major notified to be ready at a moment’s notice to beat the long roll (an alarm call) at any moment. The camp guard were instructed to be alert, and on hearing the discharge of a cannon to fire their guns three times. It was an anxious night to those awake, as a battle was supposed to be imminent. But the night passed in safety as many similarly threatened nights in that war passed away.
The several families occupying this section had guards placed on their premises to protect them from the raids of light fingered patriots. The guards were treated well by the families, being fed on warm hoe cake, fried beef, tea and coffee. I was on guard at one of these houses and got several such meals. They were very welcome. At the close of the first meal I asked the man of the house what I was to pay. He said: “I do not want any pay. I cannot eat money. But if you will save my pigs and cattle and poultry from foragers, I can eat them. And that is all the pay I want.” I was satisfied with both the logic and the price, and determined that, so far as my action went, his stock would be saved to him.
In this family were a negro man, his wife and a little son. They appeared to be content with their lot. They were free of course, being made so by President Lincoln’s recent proclamation, but they had not changed their relations to the family which owned them. One day the youngster picked up my gun, which was leaning against the house, and raised it as far as he was able to make aim with it.
“What are you trying to do?” I asked, taking the gun from him.
“Shoot massa,” he replied.
The answer startled me.
This and those other families in the neighborhood, disposed to trade food for other things, found plenty of customers among the soldiers, who brought everything they could spare and traded it off for hoe-cake, pies, milk, cooked fresh meat, etc. The articles thus disposed of ranged from pewter plates up to red shirts.
Thursday, November 13th, we had our first drill inVirginia. It continued for one and a half hours, and its restraint was not much relished by the men. The weather now was quite cold, and the boys sleeping together hugged each other during the night. Lieut. Col. Walters, injured by a fall inWashington, returned to the regiment today. News was received tonight that Capt. Benson, of Company I, left sick inWashington, was dead.
Antioch was not a desirable place at this time for a citizen who desired to lay up money. The Antioch shoemaker wanted $18 for making a pair of boots. Salt sold for $25 a bushel. But the scenery was fine.
On our march from Gainesville to Antioch, distance five miles, we passed through what was once the village of Haymarket. The only indication of a village apparent to our marching column were the chimneys of a dozen or more houses. The houses had gone up in a flame. InVirginia, the chimney, a huge brick structure, is built on the outside of the house, generally one at each end of the building. These brick columns, looking like spectre sentinels, stood in grim watch over the ashes at their tent.
Saturday, November 15th, the regiment’s complement of cartridges was made up to sixty rounds. At dress parade it was announced, first, that the Seventeenth was brigaded with the second brigade, first division, eleventh corps, Franz Siegel (Sigel) commander. Second, that General Burnside had superseded General McClellan in the command of the Army of thePotomac. Third, that Lieutenant Dikeman, of Company G, had resigned, on account of rheumatism. Fourth, that all straggling on the march should be punished by death.
There were two brigades of us in this camp, side by side. Each brigade had a brass band, and the music was plenty and good. On marches it was inspiring.
A sutler in this brigade was generally patronized by the boys. He had a bakery in connection with his sutler’s tent, and baked bread, biscuit and cake daily. Here is a list of prices: bread and cake ten cents a loaf, biscuits two for five cents; butter lumps size of an apple five cents; apples five cents each; pies twenty cents each. These prices were very reasonable.
Near our camp at this place was Shermitz’s battery. Its bugler made a very peculiar sound and we always looked for it. Somebody said the wind was tied up in knots and was thus pushed through the bugle.
Tuesday, November 18th. At 7 o’clock this morning we were ordered into line for a move, and stood thus until the rest of the division took place ahead, we to be in the reserve. No provision for the transportation of the sick had been made. Captain Moore told those of our company to go on ahead. General McLean saw them and ordered them back. Captain Moore went to see him, and succeeded in getting us ahead, and in having an ambulance accompany us to carry our baggage and to give us an occasional lift on the road. This is one of the many instances allowing his care for those in his command. At night we reached the old battle ground of the firstBull Run fight, and occupied the huts which the rebels had built when last occupying this place. We built fires and had a supper of salt pork, hardtack and coffee. It was not the best of fare for sick men, but we, the sick men, were grateful for the comfortable quarters our enemies had left us.
Wednesday, November 19th, the column marched all day. Being one of the sick squad I was ahead of the regiment. There were three of us, Sam Barnum, Jarvis Beers and myself. We kept on the road occupied by the troops. We started early and kept quite away ahead of the regiment. At Centreville part of our brigade went one road and the other part in another direction. At this time the regiment got ahead of us. Atnoon we went into a house and asked for something to eat. The lady of the house said: “I am baking. When I get through I will give you a dinner.” She invited us to go into another room to sit by a fire until she could get dinner ready. It was then raining quite hard. In a short time she called us to dinner, and it was a splendid meal. After dinner she filled our canteens with milk, and at our departure directed us by a route across lots to join our regiment, which had come for a halt on Stewart’s farm in Chantilly village. The regiment reached that place at 1 o’clock. We got there at 4 o’clock that afternoon. By her direction we saved nearly two miles walk.
No. 8—A CAMP AND A MARCH
We reached ChantillyNovember 19th, and remained there in camp until December 10th. What I particularly remember ofChantilly was its mud. The rain fell in torrents a good part of the time we were there, and as there was a large number of troops present their trampling made the mud a prominent feature of the place.
Our regiment was stationed in a huge field or common. There was no village apparent, except the city of tents.Chantillywas like many a New England village—consisting more of a title on the map than of houses and streets. It was a vast, undulating plain, with here and there a substantial planter’s house.
December 8th, we had a battalion drill for a period of nearly three hours. It was a strain on our nerves, and we resented it, but the resentment did no good, of course. At 5 o’clock there was a dress parade. On this parade several orders were read. It might be explained to the non-military reader that dress parades are used for the issuing of orders for the information of the troops. The orders today showed that a captain in a New York regiment was dishonorably discharged for permitting his men to rob a family of their provision. Another captain in aNew York regiment was similarly punished for burning a house. Another order dishonorably discharged a New York regiment quartermaster for withholding and selling rations belonging to the men of his regiment. The breakfast this morning consisted of fried pork, crackers and coffee. There was no dinner from the cookhouse, but we had pork and crackers. The supper consisted of beans, crackers and coffee. Some of us had onions in addition, which we foraged from outsiders.
December 9th. Orders were received at dress parade today to be ready to march early tomorrow morning.
December 10th. At the inhuman hour of 2:30 a.m. reveille was sounded, and the roll call was issued. More dead than alive each company turned out in its street, and each member answered to his name. It was a cold morning, and the warm blankets we had left were more in our mind than the duty we were called upon to perform. We stood shivering in line while the orderly, with a lantern on his arm, went down the ranks to see that every man was present.
After the roll call we were ordered to our tents again to sleep, and to be ready to march at 9 o’clock. We lost [no time] in getting back to the [warmth of our] blankets. At daylight [we arose] again to strike tents, pack knapsacks and get ready for a march. At this juncture occurred an incident that made quite an impression upon us. We had been short of rations for several days, but on this day were destroyed ten times more than we would have required to eat. As the regiment drew up in line ready for the march it saw a vast bonfire—the most expensive bonfire it ever saw, or will ever see. It was a bonfire started by the regiment’s quartermaster, and the material that fed it consisted of hardtack, fresh bread, dried fruit and dried vegetables, hay, grain, cartridges and accoutrements. They had just arrived for the use of the brigade, but came to late, and being threatened by the approaching rebels were consigned to the flames to destroy them. It was a painful sight to see them burned, but it could not be helped.
Left Chantilly at 10:30 a.m.and marched as far as Fairfax court house, a distance of seven miles, when we halted for dinner. Fairfaxcourt house was a familiar war name. It had already been the scene of many a camp, plan and incident. We viewed it with lively interest.
The Danbury Times at that time printed the following description of the place, written by its correspondent:
“The village of Fairfax I will compliment so far as to say that it is the largest and most civilized place I have seen since leaving Alexandria. It is built on two streets which cross each other at right angles, and contains about seventy-five buildings. In the centre are the court house, jail and a large brick hotel, now used as a hospital. There are several other large buildings formerly used as stores and warehouses, but now appropriated for military uses. Some of the dwellings are quite cozy, and the state of the grounds about them speak well for the tastes of the residents. Fairfax has been a well to do place, judging from its appearance, but in all its history no period could possibly equal the liveliness of the present. The streets are filled with soldiers—privates, orderlies, teamsters and officers of all grades. Enterprising itinerants, who head the retreat and cover the advance of our large armies, were there in full blast. Long boards, filled with the names tempting drinks, met the eye at almost every turn, inviting the soldiers to where he can be sure to get his money’s worth.”
In addition to these there were two daguerreon galleries where life-like pictures were taken without ceremony, cheap for cash. Lager beer saloons also had a place and met with ample patronage.
After dinner the paymaster made his appearance and paid the regiment. This was our first pay since leaving Baltimore. That night we camped in a pine woods near Wolf Run shoals, on the Occoquan river. It was a poor night’s rest, as the ground froze under us. At 8 o’clocknext morning, December 11th, we resumed the march. The roads were in a frightful state of mud. The marching was wading. The difficulty of the going was increased by the passing of baggage wagons and artillery trains. We made ten miles today. The next day, the twelfth, we accomplished twelve miles. At night, rations of coffee, sugar, salt pork and five crackers were given us.
Saturday noon we reached Dumfries. Here we stopped one hour for dinner, and then advanced a mile and then went into camp for the night. Dumfries is probably better remembered by our regiment than any other brief camp. We were short of rations and keenly felt the want of food.
When we left Chantilly we were given our choice of bread rations, hardtack or soft bread, and we could have all we wanted. Most of the boys selected the soft bread as being the more palatable. But it did not wear as the hardtack, and those of us who took it were without bread on the second day’s march.
All the afternoon at Dumfries we were on the lookout for the commissary or a sutler. On of our men bought somewhere a bottle of jelly for one dollar and ate it up without any accompaniment. He went into the camp of the 25th Ohio and offered twenty-five cents for a piece of hardtack. One of the 25th said he had no crackers to sell, but could give him some, and did so. We have always found the Ohio boys generous and helpful, especially after the battle ofChancellorsville. They were veterans, while we were new troops.
In the middle of the afternoon a sutler appeared with a wagon load of supplies. He sold out in double quick time and left a number of men unsupplied. Two more sutlers visited us. One of them had nothing but cheese and the other had nothing but peach brandy. Both sold out their respective stores rapidly. It was the first time in my life I undertook to make a hearty meal on cheese alone. I have had no desire since to repeat the banquet.
Dumfriesis on a creek which empties into thePotomac. Two days before we arrived, 1,200 of Stuart’s cavalry, confederate, visited the place and carried off two sulters and a detachment of our troops. There was a very old graveyard inDumfries. In it were a lot of fresh made graves, where soldiers from anAlabamaregiment were buried. Thus soldiers of the Revolution and the Rebellion [rest of paragraph missing]…the road again. We now understood that we were to support Burnside in an attack on Fredericksburg.
We marched until 8 o’clock when we reached Stafford court house, where we stacked arms and lay down for the night.
At3 o’clock a.m.we were aroused, and at4 o’clock we were marching. This was what might safely be called an early start. At noon we stopped an hour for dinner. At three o’clock in the afternoon we reached Dumfries again, and remained there until dark. Moving again, a distance of three miles four companies of the regiment, including Company C, were detached to guard batteries, and the other companies moved on a mile ahead for the night. We stacked our guns in a field with the artillery, built fires, and after a while rolled ourselves in our blankets and went to sleep. The stars were shining. At 4 a.m. we awoke to find the stars gone and a heavy beating rain down on us. The fires were low, the night dark as Egypt and the place strange. We sprang to our feet and hastily got together our traps which were lying around loose and catching rain water. Then we endeavored to replenish the fires, and with the darkness of the night, the slippery condition of the mud, and the new and unaccountable things to bump against or to fall over, we had a season of extraordinary liveliness. We finally succeeded in getting together a lot of fence rails and got the fires going. Then we got under our blankets again and went to sleep in defiance of the rain.