"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 16, 2012

Sunday, November 16, 1862. Getting a living.

"Sunday 16th Nothing to speak of. Sunday morning inspection as usual. The prospect is that we remain here this winter. The different Regts are puting up winter quarters."~ Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 24, 1862, UVM

"Our boys have just commenced cutting timber for winter quarters, though they have not done a large business at it, as six full companies and small details from some of the other companies have been out on picket for the last two days, coming in yesterday afternoon.

"The ground on which we are now camped once formed part of a regular Virginia plantation and Old Sesesh's mansion where he still resides is not more than 100 rods from where I now sit. Before the war broke out he had over 200 acres of land that would have brought him $300 per acre, with plenty of slaves, but now his nigs have skedaddled and his land, by the tramping of thousands of soldiers has been trodden down until now in a dry state it is almost as hard as the "talcose" rock of my native hills. And Mr. Sesesh is today a "short fed" man although last spring he had accorded to him the privilege of gathering up for fuel the timber which the Union troops had cut on his own land, and had used during the winter about their winter quarters.

"They sell butter about our camps at from 28 to 40¢ per pound and call it goods though as I have not purchased, I cannot say as to that. Cheese, 20¢, brown bread 30¢ for about such a loaf as you would bake in a two quart dish; good fair handsome onions 1¢ each, milk, 10¢ per quart, oysters 15 to 20¢ per pint, etc.

"What are the good people of Plymouth generally about these times? Don't mourn that McClellan has been superseded, do they? By the way, we had a rumor in camp this morning that we had been put under Fremont's command, though I would never vouch for a camp story. We are now in Casey's division, Heintzelman's corps, but the report is that our colonel is trying to get out of it, fearing that he will not see much active service so long as he remains in Casey's division. I believe all the Plymouth boys are comfortably well except Abner Archer, and he is almost always out of fix some way. More next time,"~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 16, 1862  

"The weather here tonight is cold and rough. The wind is in the north east and before morning rain is expected. I have only one tent - most of the field officers in this brigade except those in these regiments - have two tents opening into each other. We are entitled to two each in quarters, but find it difficult to get them. My little stove is today on the front side of the tents the funnel running out of the door as the direction of the wind forbids its “drawing” on the other. Yesterday morning about 4 o’clock I returned from the “Rounds” as Field Officer of the Day, and built up a fire. It burned briskly for a while so I went to bed, but in an hour I awoke nearly suffocated all the smoke coming into the tent. I got up and drowned the fire in a hurry and then turned my stove about as above.

"We have commenced drawing timbers - logs and poles - to build our winter huts as per orders from division headquarters. It looks as if we were to stay here all winter, but I hope looks are deceitful. Gen. Stoughton arrives Tuesday and assumes command of our brigade. Capt. John S. Tyler of Co. C 2nd Vermont is to be on his staff as Assistant Adjutant General, and John Wheeler as Aide - de - Camp.

"Col. Veazey remarked that if Stoughton is encamped here all winter will the little lone wanderer on his shoulder the bells, flirts and - in Washington would find constant employment. The “gallant” Brigadier has a great reputation in the army as a woman’s man. He is probably the handsomest brigadier in the army or at least would be called so by the girls.

"Today after inspection, which commenced at 9 and lasted until one, the field officers dined by invitation with Commissary Sergeant Charles Simonds. We had roast beef, sweet potatoes onions, boiled rice, maple syrup, butter, cheese, coffee, ale, and bread, salt pepper, and Worcester sauce. There is no danger of starvation. In our mess our board has not been quite $3.50 per week, we have four servants who eat with us and whose rations go into the mess and our mess chest and other purchases for fixtures, mess chest, cooking stoves, etc, will amount to about 12 cents each. We live well enough although butter is 40 to 42 cent per lbs, milk 10 cent a quart. We can buy sweet potatoes for $2.50 per barrel." Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 5. November 16, 1862. VHS.

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