"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 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

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