"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sunday, November 30, 1862. Demolishing a House

"Demolishing a house for building material"
November 30, 1862
William Henry Jackson
12th Regt. Co. K

"Sunday 30th Inspection at 9. A.M. as usual. Service as usual in P.M. Dress Parade as usual."

~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 44,  Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Capt. Clarke will tell you on his return. I never looked or felt better so far as health is concerned in my life. The Captain, E. Gorham, George Howe, and Major Carpenter, Paymaster, dined with us last Sunday. That evening I went to Washington, going up from Alexandria on a steamboat, nine miles I arrived in the city about six o’clock, and put up at Willard’s, where C and G were stopping."  Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 7(8),  December 4, 1862. VHS. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Saturday November 29, 1862. The 16th on picket; the 12th in Camp.

"Camp Vermont November 29, 1862

"Friend Swain:– I go on picket directly, and ere I return it will be too late to give you note of the events for next week. ... Very hastily yours, Duane" E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" in Letter of November 29, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times, published December 5, 1862

"Saturday 29th Reg came in from 'picket.' All of us resting more or less & taking our 'otium cum dignitate'. Dress Parade, with usual fuss of escorting colors &c." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 44,  Co. C, 12th Regiment

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Friday, November 28, 1862. Plans for a Stockaded house.

"My health is excellent and I suffer less from diarrhea than heretofore, although a ride of 30 to 40 miles a day on picket shakes me up. Now I have to do duty once in three or four days, as there are but two regiment of this brigade in camp. 

"Last Tuesday evening the brigade was called upon for 3 regiments to go to Bull Run at Union Mills about 30 miles from here. They left about 9 o’clock in the evening at an hours’ notice and the rain coming down abundantly. It was pitch dark and unpleasant. Had not the 16th Regiment been on picket at that time we should have been one of the regiment to move. 

"Whether we shall soon go, or stay here all winter, whether those gone will come back here or not are matters that we know nothing more about than you do.

"There is not much of interest to you here. I can only tell you of myself. I am in my tent yet, but shall next week if we remain put me up a stockaded house 24 feet long by 10 wide and the walls 6 feet high. Logs are split and hewn on the inside for six inches to a foot or more in width. A trench is dug in the ground just the size the building is to be, about 18 inches deep and these palisades are stood up on an end faced in, close together and even at the top. The earth is then trod in and banked up on the outside. It will contain two rooms, a sleeping apartment with a board floor 10 by 9 and an anteroom where I shall smoke, hear recitations of officers, etc, 15 by 10. I have proceed old brick for a chimney and shall have a fire place in each room.

"Tomorrow I go out on picket again, and as we establish new lines on account of the late heavy rains I shall be out most of the 24 hours. With my great coat and the vigorous exercise of horseback riding I shall not suffer with cold.

"Speaking of riding, I ride with great confidence now. I can jump an ordinary fence or a ditch five or six feet wide without any difficulty. You would laugh were you to see me galloping over the county, as the sight would be so novel a one for you to behold."   Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 7. November 28, 1862. VHS.

"Friday 28th At leisure all day. Madden & Millain on guard. In P.M. went over to the other camps & got materials & construct-ed a California stove & find it quite comfortable. Opened my 14 ¾ Can of Butter to-day & it is really splendid. It has kept perfectly sweet. No more details at the fort for the present, for we must work on the quarters." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 43,  Co. C, 12th Regiment

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 12th on Picket and the 16th in camp.

Thursday 27th. [12th] Regiment went out on picket, but Baxter & Myself were left as guard. I was detailed as the Lieut-Col's orderly & so had a good time. Have a large boil on my right cheek. ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 43,  Co. C, 12th Regiment 

Meanwhile out along Bull Run and Occoquan Creek:

 "During the next five days our baggage-large tents, camp kettles,-and such of the sick as are able to be moved, arrive. Two companies a day go on picket. The rest pass the time in stockading a little, and discussing the object and benefit of late moves, and of no moves, something like this: "Only one regiment of the brigade has followed us. That we are here alone, what injury to the enemy or benefit to us? What necessity of our starting in a furious storm of rain, at nine o'clock at night, to tramp here, unless forsooth to give us exercise? Sigel, with his Germans, is at the Court House-back fifteen miles; Burnside, and even Lee, is northwest of us. There is no one to support us, and we can't hold this point a single moment. Indeed, does any one know by whose order, or why, we came here at all? Already it is rumored, and I say with truth, that we are going back to our old camp. This, no doubt, will be styled a 'strategic' move. If to wear out an army by useless marches, and do the enemy little injury, is strategy, certainly the past eighteen months have called forth the most wonderful generalship the world ever saw.'" ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

"In camp near Occoquan Creek. False alarms are very frequent to soldiers stationed near the enemy. Last night, the first of our arrival, the 14th was formed in line of battle about midnight, firing being heard near by, which signalized the approach of the enemy. The regiment was formed in line with great alacrity. Our officers praised us highly. The firing proved not to proceed from the enemy however." ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 38-39 (1864)

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 1862: the 16th on picket and the 12th alone in Camp Vermont

"Wednesday 26th Engaged all day in building our log houses. Last night it rained hard, but this morn is clear, & the wind has blown over for the present, but I do not think we shall remain here this winter. To me it is far more likely that we shall follow the other 3 regiments in a short time. But No one can tell. Dress Parade as (it is getting to be,) usual." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 42-43,  Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Tuesday ... while we were gone [on picket] the 13th, 14th and 15th were marched off in the night toward Bull Run, leaving only the 12th and the 16th to do the picket duty that had previously been done by the whole brigade, and as the picket lines have been so arranged as to take a full regiment at once, the 12th and 16th of course had to relieve each other every 48 hours, and must continue to do so until some of the absent regiments come back, or some other regiments are sent out to take their place.~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of December 1, 1862. 

"The 13th, 14th and 15th regiments made an advance on the 25th inst., at 9 P.M., amid a rain storm which continued through the night.  They marched about 25 miles, and are, I understand, doing guard duty at Bristow’s Station, on the Alexandria and Manassas railroad, about five miles from Fairfax Station.  It is thought they will return again, as they have done nothing towards moving their tents and other effects from here.

"Lieut. L. Raymond of Co. B 12th Regiment, died on the 25th inst. at Washington of inflammation of the brain.  Lieut. Raymond was of the firm of Raymond & Daniels of Woodstock, and as a citizen he was esteemed and respected by all.  The loss to his company is severely felt.  His remains have been sent to his relatives and friends for interment." E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" in Letter of November 29, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times, published December 5, 1862

"3 regts have gone out Bull Run way to guard a bridge a day or two. Proctor has gone. My Reg’t is all out on picket." Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter to Julia, November 26, 1862. UVM Center for Digital Initiatives 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tuesday, November 25, 1862. The 13th 14th & 15th leave Camp Vermont on a night march.

"Tuesday 25th ... Our Regt has gone on picket again to day. Only one Com. Officer from our Co. so Williams has gone. The Capt. went down to Washington yesterday & will be back tonight." ~ Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 24, 1862, UVM

"The order came at 8 o'clock in the evening, and the 'bully Thirteenth,' as its boys delight to call themselves, was on the march through our camp at nine, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth following with little delay. The Twelfth had orders to pack knapsacks and be in readiness to move at a moment's notice, and our own camp was all astir with the bustle of preparation. The night was dark and rainy, and as the other regiments passed on the double quick through our camp, their dark columns visible only by the light of the camp fires, our boys cheering them and they cheering lustily in response, the scene was not devoid of excitement. Every man in the ranks believed that such a sudden night march to the front meant immediate action, and the haste and hearty shouting showed that the prospect was a welcome one. The Twelfth would have gone with equal cheerfulness; but the expected order for us to fall in did not come. ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt., Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of December 6, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia.

"It is eight o'clock at night - dark, pitchy dark, and raining fast. The guards, as usual, to and fro, are pacing the trodden beats. In each tent is a candle burning, and around it a little squad of soldiers, all busy; some telling their accustomed stories; some smoking; some at a game of cards; now a lively son entices laughter; one is reading, another writing to his friend, with portfolio on his knees; perchance some weary boy has fallen asleep,-none dreaming of marches. Just now the colonel calls the sergeant major: "Tell the captains that their men must be ready to start at a moment's notice, with gun, equipments, forty rounds of ammunition, blankets and rations for a day." Ah! now the quiet scene is shifted" ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

"Six o'clock in the evening. We have received marching orders, and the result of our labors will be left for the benefit of others.

"Eight o'clock in the evening. Orders are received to be ready to march at a moment's notice.  

Ten o'clock in the evening. At nine o'clock the regiment was ordered to fall in, and but a few moments elapsed before we were in line, each man in light marching order, and supplied with one Day's rations. It is very dark and rains slightly, and hope we are not to march very far to-night. Col. Nichols, after thanking us for our promptness, ordered us forward. We halted awhile at Col. Blunt's quarters, and then forming into line with the 13th and 15th, take up our march to some place unknown to any one in the ranks." ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 36-37f (1864)

"After supper while in our tent, the order suddenly came to pack knapsacks immediately & be ready to march at a moment's notice. We packed in the greatest hurry & were all ready in about 10 minutes but as Col. Blunt was absent, in W. Col. Randall of the 13th had command & he went off towards "Bull Run" with the 13th 14th & 15th in light marching order in the rain. So about 10 P.M. we went to bed & slept till morning."  ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, Co. C, 12th Regiment

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Monday, November 24, 1862. Disease begins to take its toll.

"Monday 24th The boys are busy building winter quarters." ~ Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 24, 1862, UVM
"Fort Lyons"
William Henry Jackson
12th Regt. Co.K

"Death has again invaded the circle of our company and has taken one of our best. We miss William Spaulding much. ...He began to lose flesh and strength without any apparently sufficient reasons, and finally went into the regimental hospital; grew better, was placed on guard at a private house near here, where he had the shelter of a roof, caught cold, and died from congestion of the lungs.  His death has cast a shadow over the company, and we ask ourselves, "who will be the next?" One of the line officers of the regiment, Lieutenant Howard of the Northfield company, died in the hospital on Friday, from inflammation of the brain.

"The winter quarters of this regiment are to be long huts, one for a company, made of logs set endwise in the ground, on which a roof of boards will be placed. They make slow progress. The truth is this brigade has a good deal to do. Our regiments have a picket line of six miles to guard, the nearest point of which is five or six miles from camp. They furnish a thousand men daily, in good weather, to dig in the trenches of Fort Lyon. They have to cut the timber for their winter quarters and construct the same, and they have to fill up the interstices of time with drill. If Uncle Sam's $20 a month is not pretty generally earned, so far, in this brigade, some of us are much mistaken.

"We have had four days of rain and I have the facts for an essay on Virginia mud, whenever I get time to write it, and I assure you it is a deep subject.

"The picket service is becoming arduous. The pickets are out 48 hours. At many of the stations no fire is allowed, and especial vigilance is enjoined, so that little sleep can be obtained; and with all precautions there is a chance of meeting a shot from some of the rebel spies and struggling guerrillas who hover around the outer circle of our lines. Saturday night a couple of the boys in our company were thus fired on. Add to these inconveniences the special discomforts of rain and deep mud, and picket service becomes anything but romantic.

"The weather has come off fine, clear and frosty after the storm." ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt., Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of November 24, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia, 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sunday, November 23, 1862. A clear cloudless, beautiful day

"The weather is again extremely fine. I have not received any material damage from going out on picket. The building of the barracks is progressing finely. We hear that the army of the Potomac is being reorganized under its new commander, Burnside, and we are waiting anxiously to hear of some brilliant achievement by that army. Our regiment may become involved in a fight, in connection with the present movements. The whereabouts of the rebel army is unknown to us. He may make his appearance in a quarter least expected. But I think that Washington is secure from all danger -- it is defended by a Reserve Corps of a hundred thousand true and loyal men. "  ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 35  (1864)

"Sunday 23d About camp as usual." ~ Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 24, 1862, UVM

"Dear Parents:
"The regimental teams have been set to drawing timber for us to stockade our tents with, although as they take the companies in succession ours had not yet got any. I saw Uncle Joseph this noon. He had been detailed to chop for his company and had come in for his dinner. It did not seem to make him feel as bad as I supposed it would, but he seemed to consider it a necessity that could not be avoided as they could not have the use of the teams after today. 

"I will ... tell you about the tents. We are to raise them some four feet from the ground on a stockade of timber which will give us a great deal more room than we now have. The stockade is set in the ground deep enough to make it firm and then the cracks are plastered with Virginia mud which makes excellent mortar, while any little conveniences that we can ourselves devise we will of course be entitled to. Some of the boys buy stoves to warm their houses with while others get bricks and build fireplaces to suit themselves.

"Isn't it cold in Vermont now? the ground froze quite hard here last night although it didn't freeze under me as I slept just as warm as toast, and today is a clear cloudless, beautiful day, Just such an one as you sometimes have in October. 

 "Our company is getting to be somewhat reduced by details, there being six now permanently detailed from the company. Clark has been appointed Sgt. of the ambulance corps and one other man has been appointed ambulance driver. Blood is in the commissary department and Crain and two others act as waiters for the field officers. 

"There has not been a single death in the regiment since it first came together at Brattleboro. I think we have been very lucky in that respect don't you? All the other regiments have lost more or less from sickness and accidents. 

"I expect we shall have to go out on picket soon and certainly hope that the weather will be as fine as at present. The fourteenth had a dubious time the last time they were out, besides having one of their men accidentally shot.

"I haven't got hold of a bit of silver since we were paid off at Brattleboro, where I got 80 cents of the genuine article, for which 'twas said the State paid 29 percent premium. I believe I never wrote you about being mustered for two months pay while we were on Arlington Heights, but we were, though we haven't got the greenbacks yet. From this I conclude that the Gov't intends to pay us from the date of our organization whether our nine months commenced then or not. ...

"We are having a few hard crackers now for variety. I suppose they certainly are not bad eating unless the bread is poor and wormy. Those that we have are first rate. What are all the Plymouthites about this pleasant autumnal weather? Not digging their potatoes, I hope. We have got to go on battalion drill at 2.30 a.m. and will not get off until near 5, so I must close.  Yours truly, H. G Day ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 23, 1862. 

"Camp Vermont, November 23, 1862.

"Friend Swain:– After yesterday’s cold storm it is pleasant to see the sun’s face once more. It has rained incessantly for the last two days. The roads are very muddy and almost impassable. The Times of the 14th inst. was received last night. I need not say it was read and hailed with joy, for only to-night it looks as it had seen a week’s hard service. Persons should write oftener, and send more papers to the soldiers. But few know or ever think of the pleasure and happiness it gives one to receive letters from friends at home, and papers edited in the state giving local news, &c. Write friends, all, even if you do not always get an answer, - remembering our means of writing &c. Great care should be taken in directing letters to us, that the number of the regiment be plain. Many letters to the 10th Regiment come here and no doubt many of ours go there, owing to the similarity of the last two figures when made carelessly.

 "Most of the regiments in this brigade have commenced building barracks with expectation of remaining here during the winter. Here, as well as at home, everyone has his own peculiar notions in regard to his own house. No two regiments build them alike. This regiment has done but little towards building theirs, on account of orders previously mentioned. The 12th and 14th spare the most pains of any. The latter are building theirs 100 feet long by 20 wide,- 40 feet of this to be used for a dining room and the remainder for sleeping compartments. The frames of these barracks are made by cutting small logs about 10 feet long, splitting them in the center and inserting them in the ground about 2 feet, the faced side inward, the crevices between these timbers are filled with mud from the “sacred soil” which makes very good mortar, being already made and good for nothing else in this vicinity. The inside of these barracks are to be finished off and covered with boards at the expense of the field and line officers. The 12th build theirs similar.

"Lieut. Wait of West Windsor, Co. A, was fired at twice last night while on picket by men from his own regiment. It appears that they heard him coming and called out to halt, and probably being somewhat frightened, fired almost at the same instant.

"Drum Major G. M. Clark, while standing near a company of pickets firing at a target was struck by a spent ball, near the knee joint, causing him to “about face” pretty quick. The ball lodged in the ground near by and was secured by Mr. Clark who has the honor of being the first man wounded in the regiment. Mr. Clark has by far the best drum corps in the brigade; this is conceded by all.

"Quartermaster Henry is acting brigade commissary with rank of Captain. Mr. Henry is deserving of the appointment and will no doubt receive it, he being the most energetic quartermaster of the brigade.

"Kit Haskins, 1st Lieut. of Co. I, Williamsville, is acting Quartermaster.

"This regiment excels all others in point of health. We have not lost a man and none are very sick at present. We may attribute this in a great measure to the unremitting labors of our most excellent surgeon, C.B. Park, who is ever untiring in his efforts for the comfort of those under his treatment. – Through his energy and perseverance we have the nicest, best arranged and most commodious hospital in the brigade, being furnished with spring bedsteads, bedding and everything conducive to the comfort of the sick. Dr. James Newton of Hartford is wardmaster in the hospital. – The right man in the right place. 

"Co. D, Townsend, is the color company of the regiment. This is one of the nicest companies we have, and under Capt. Ball who is ever pleasant and has a word for everyone, but still strict and precise, and is liked much by all.

"The removal of Gen. McClellan, and the promotion of Gen. Burnside to the command of the army of the Potomac, inspires new energy and confidence in the troops, and it is hoped something will be done at once to crush this infernal rebellion between slavery and Freedom. The mail is about to leave and I close abruptly. Duane."E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" in Letter of November 23, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times, published December 5, 1862

"Sunday night- It is cold to day. I have hard at work inspecting the reg’t. I wish I could come home to you to night darling. What splendid time we would have. I reckon some body would be made to look like somebody. I have an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner in Washington at Mr. Prentices, formerly of Vt. It next Thursday. Don't think I shall go."  Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter to Julia, November 22, 1862. UVM Center for Digital Initiatives 

~Note: On November 23, 1862 Major Rounds finds five men of Company B guilty of absence without leave during Sunday inspection, and sentences them to forfeit $1.50 each from their November pay. William Rounds to J. D. Bridgman, Adjt. 16th Regt. Vt. Vol., 23 November 1862

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saturday, November 22, 1862. Drilling hard. Picket Tomorrow.

"My Darling Wife,
"It is late Saturday night & I am pretty tired but I must write a few words as I shall be busy to-morrow. It has been pleasant to day after a long rain & I have been drilling hard. I dont think I shall have to go to Harpers Ferry. The Rebels are quite near our front now & may attack us here tho I have but little fear of it. But I think we are needed here about as much as any where. There is a large force about Washington, half as many as Burnside has I think. Heintzelman Slocum & Sigel are about this vicinity and Gov. Curtins Militia near Chambersburg. I would take a contract to put down the rebellion with this force. It is cold to-night. ... I have no war news to write as I hear none. I think Richmond  will be taken soon, i.e. if our folks mean to take it..."  Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter to Julia, November 22, 1862. UVM Center for Digital Initiatives 

"Dear Wife,
"It is now Saturday evening after 8 o’clock, and I take two hours time in talking to you, albeit it is through a medium much less satisfactory than I could employ were I seated by one cozy fire place, with a baby on each knee. It does no good, however, to wish for a different state of things just now, so I will not dilate upon a scene that my imagination after, very often vividly pictures.

"We have just had a rain that would credit to an equinoctial and wind about all the time for four days and night, and the night it rained the hardest and the wind blew the fiercest my tent stove would not draw at all, so to keep the tent free from smoke I put no fire and which meant too cold and cheerless.  Everything inside as well as out was damp and disagreeable. Since the rain it has been muddy and oh! such mud.  It sticks to everything. 

"My time is very much occupied in the affairs of my regiment, in drills, disciple, barracks, food, hospital, etc, and all the available balance save writing an occasional letter to the Phoenix, you and a few friends is devoted to the study of tactics. I have been through the “School of the Battalion,” a part of the “School of the Soldier,” and all “the school of the guides” besides understanding all with portion of the “School of the Company.” I have this evening just returned from a regular recitation of all the commissioned officers at the Colonel’s headquarters at which we closed the first book aforesaid.  I design to keep ahead of the major and line officer After finishing the School of the Company, it is proposed that we review the School of the Battalion. I to hear recitation of the right wing and the major those of the left. I have drilled the battalion two afternoons and made it go tolerably well.
"Tomorrow (Sunday morning) I go on picket again as the Field officer of the Day. It is a hard day’s work, and then to conclude with the “rounds” after 12 o’clock at night is when it is pitch dark is not the most interesting performance in the world. But I have made up my mind to do all my duties cheerfully and to the best of my ability which will not only give me expectation as an officer, but it makes what would otherwise often to irksome a pleasant task.

"There is no immediate prospect of my having command of a regiment for Col. Veazey is not likely to be promoted at present. Stoughton is to be our Brigadier General, which suits me as well as Col. Veazey. Stoughton is an excellent tactician and will drill the brigade finely.

"I received the opium in go shape, took one pill of it and was cured thereby with a little dieting of a persistent four days diarrhea and have since been well and smart. Opium is my sheet anchor in such cases. I like your gossiping letters as you call them. They are newsy and exceedingly readable and good.  All these little things from home are just what I want to hear.

"Tomorrow on picket, I shall go within 2 miles of Mt. Vernon. Most of our officer have 
been there but I have no desire to go."  Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 6. November 22, 1862. VHS.