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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monday, December 1, 1862. The State of the Union Address; A trip to Brady's studio; Picketing is a hungry business; the Army of the Potomac on the move.

"[A]t 12, I went to the Capital, saw our members of Congress and Senators besides sundry other notables, saw congress opened, heard the President’s message, pas[sed] through and left. 

"Among other things and the main occasion of my visit, I went to Brady’s and sat for my photograph of which I am to have a dozen cards-de-visite. I sat and only had the upper half of my body appears without sword belt or sash. To have in full lengths would make the features so small, and the day was raining requiring a long sitting or standing to get an impression that I feared the picture would be worthless full length. I did not stop to see the plate nor get the cards as they could not be printed except in fair weather and work was so driving that several days would lapse before they were done. I shall probably have then by Saturday. This job is for your especial delegation. I shall send 10 of them home and you may dispose of them as you think proper. I propose also by and by to purchase a dozen or so of some of our generals say McClellan, Burnside, Smith, Brooks, Banks, Old Abe and wife, etc, send you I saw some very excellent ones in the city."  Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 7(8),  December 4, 1862. VHS. 

"Camp Vermont, Va. Dec. 1st, 1862

"Dear Parents:

"Again as opportunity presents, l will try to write a few lines to you. We have Just returned from picket for the second time. Tonight we expect that the l4th will be back again tomorrow, though we can't tell anything at all about it.

"The first time I was out our company was posted down on the left wing not more than two miles from Mt. Vernon, and a part of them were posted on what was once a part of the degenerate Col. John A. Washington's estate, though as we could not get down to Mt. Vernon it was of no particular benefit to us. The first night of our first picket tour was rainy and wet, but the pickets were divided into three reliefs each, one staying on 8 hours and I with a dozen or 15 more of Company C's boys were fortunate enough to be on the first relief, which went on at 10 a.m. and came off at 6 p.m., and got our suppers consisting of bread (hard and soft),meat and coffee, and then got leave to go in search of quarters more comfortable in shelter tents or bough houses, and we succeeded in finding lodgings on the floor of a man's house less than half a mile from the camp of the reserves where we should properly have stayed. While the rain pattered against the windows we thought of our absent and less fortunate comrades, who were then standing on their dark and lonely posts, and went to sleep.

"In the morning some of the boys took breakfast with the people of the house-- corn cakes, bacon, butter, coffee, cheese, and so on, all for a quarter. But as I had plenty of hard crackers and meat in my haversack I preferred to go back to the camp of the reserves, get a cup of hot coffee and take breakfast on my own hook. At the house where we stayed through the night there was a pair of babies that cried almost incessantly, and some of the married men of the delegation thought that about the most civilized sound they had heard since they came to the Old Dominion State. 

"The next morning in a Negro house I saw still another sign of civilization in the shape of a parcel of school books from which Young Africa was getting his education. This nig seemed to be quite a Yankee, and owned quite a farm which seemed to be fully as well cultivated and taken care of as those of his white semi-sesesh neighbors. 

"The boys formed their likes and dislikes quickly when in contact with the Natives, and if they happened to conclude that a man is sesesh some of them will draw on him just as liberally as possible. Indeed I saw some folks that lived near where we stayed on our picket trip out in the morning counting over their hens. Guess they found them all that morning, though I could not say whether or not they did the next, as I am pretty certain that some of the boys had a meal of chicken during the night. 

"As for myself, I got a little short and went to another house and got a few corn cakes with butter and cheese and a good cup of coffee with trimmings all at an expense of only 10 cents. I will say of them that although not quite equal to a good Yankee Johnny cake they tasted very good. Picketing is hungry business. I thought I used to eat some at home, but good gracious, put me out on picket 48 hours and I can eat hard crackers enough to shingle a meeting house and salt pork, raw or roasted, enough to astonish all the hogs in Vermont. 

"Baldwin and Alfred have just returned from Washington where they have been during the day, and they say that during the last 24 hours 50,000 men have left the vicinity of Washington for the region of active operations. Yesterday where we were on picket we saw one train of 130 army wagons loaded with supplies for the advancing army. Indeed the whole Army of the Potomac is on the move, not lazily and slowly, but it must be pushing on with a will as though it meant something. But with all this moving we expect to remain where we are to prevent Gen. Casey from getting too much frightened. 

"We have got our log houses pretty well along in our regiment and they are certainly more roomy and comfortable than our tents are without being raised from the ground at all. It is almost time for roll call so I will have to adjourn for tonight but will write more tomorrow if I can."  ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letterof December 1, 1862. 

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