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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 1863. More mud

"camp near wolf run Va January 30th 1863

"Dear parents I now seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that we are in the land of the living.    Wilber is doing well, yet he thinks that round poles are not a very soft bed to lay on for a week or so.   Willard Wait is pretty sick to day but I think that he is doing well. ...

"Steven has gone to the old camp to day his business is to have the sick ones there sign the pay roll, and he is to meet the pay master at the court house and get their pay then cary it back to them. As quick as he gits that done he is going to Washington to get his uniform and will proboly be back day after to morrow Some time in the course of the day.

"...   To day there was two hundred men gone out about three miles towards the station to codaroy the road which is so muddy that they could not get along. 
One may talk of mud when he is in Vermont but let him come out into Va. and travel here as the going has been for the last ten days and I will bet that let him get back to Vermont again and he will not think of mud for as much as two ro three days. ... the day is warm and pleasant and the snow has mostly disapeared leaving it muddy beyond all discription. Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt, Letter No. 24

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 1863. Payday.

Harper's Weekly
February 28, 1863
"January 29. The paymaster was in camp yesterday, and paid off the regiment. To-day there is much rejoicing in camp among the boys, who have received two months pay in "Uncle Sam's" green backs. The ground is covered with snow."  J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 76 (1864)

"camp near wolf run Va. Jan. 29th, 1863   Well Father we have just got our pay from the 19th of August up to the first of November amounting to $31.63 and as the orderly has been promoted he wants more mony than he has got to get his uniform.   So I have let him have ten dollers and shall [send] his note for it in this letter and perhaps a greenback.

"Steve is Second Lieut. and Fred Small is orderly.  The drum Major is our fifth Seargent apointed by the Colonel so that he can draw more pay I suppose that it is all right but it does not look just right.

"George Dimick is captain of Co. I in place of Capt. Bounty resigned Lieutenant Wait had the chance but would not leave the company for he said that he promised to stick by the Co. and nothing but sickness or death would deter him from so doing.

"I have felt rather hard up last night and to day have ate to day just two hard crackers and that is all. But I guess that I shall come out all right by to morrow I am now a going to see Wilber and when I get back I will write how he is."  
Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt,Letter No. 22

"Upon my return that evening to camp I learned much to my joy that the Paymaster had arrived and that we were to receive some return for our valuable services to one excellent Uncle Samuel. The men were paid from the date of the organization of their companies to October 31st and the field officers from the date of their commissions to the 31st October only. I had expected to be paid until the 31st of December, but I was disappointed with all the others. I have since learned that had I gone to Washington after I had been Provost Marshall one month I could have got that months pay. I being on detached service. As it is I only got after deducting the 3 percent tax which officers have to pay $192.60 of this amount I shall send you within a week - just as soon as the Paymaster returns from Wolf Run Shoals - a draft for the sum of $100, which you can get cashed at any bank in the state." ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 18, January 29, 1863. VHS.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 1863. Snow, Wind and Mud.

"Jan. 28. Stormy; sleet and snow falling all day; but the pickets and guards tie the haversacks close to their necks, and rubbers over the shoulders, and start to relieve those who have been on duty for twenty-four hours, knowing that they, too, will be relieved, the same hour to-morrow morning. Slowly, slowly, wear the hours again, as the boys sit in the leaky bough-houses; snow and rain now and then splashing through the pine shelters; and nothing heard all day-all night-save the roar of the muddy waters of the river rushing madly by them. Before morning the snow is a foot deep in the fields; but this mud-mud-in the roads."  ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

“January 28. The small pox has raged to some extent in this regiment, and much fear was felt that it would spread alarmingly, but the regiment have all been vaccinated, and no new cases have occurred lately, so that nothing further is to be apprehended. A cold storm of rain and snow to-day.” J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 76 (1864)

“Jan. 28. The wind blows a perfect hurricane, and the snow blinds the eye, so that it is an impossibility to see anything or get anywhere. It is one of the most severe snow strorms that ever passed over this country or any other. A perfect current of wind upset my tent, and had quite a time in putting it up. The wind calmed down to a gentle breeze about noon. Freezing a very little to-night, but is not so cold as morning.” Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment.

“January 28th: …I have keen a little unwell for a few days and this morning I went up to the Surgeon and he gave me three pills and said that I was billious. I next went to the Q. M.'s to commence my days work and found they had all "been out late last night" and were not ready to go to work. Uncle Joseph is gaining some, he is round out of doors. We are having a useful snowstorm this morning but I fear we shall not get enough for sleighing as the snow melts almost as fast as it comes.

“Evening: Still snowing and there is somewhere in the neighborhood of six inches of snow on the ground. Our present campground is the muddiest one we have had and our street almost is the worst, or rather was the worst in the Reg't I say, was because we have taken poles and corduroyed it all over so that it is not muddy although it is very rough to travel on. We shall probably remain here until after the rainy season is over. The 2nd Conn. Battalion which was with us undertook to move the other day and fairly floundered in the mud. 
 ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 28, 1863

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27, 1863. A promotion. Settling accounts.

E. D. Keyes
Capt. Co. H
                                        "Fairfax Station Jan 27, 1863
"Dear Father:

"It has been a long, long time since I wrote you, and it has been long time since I have seen hardly a chance as I have busy most every moment when I have been well. I will try and write more frequently hereafter. I have been well most of the time.

About 3 weeks ago I tryed to have a little sick spell but did not make out much as I was sick only about a week. I had a fever to start with but my good boys came in and took real good care of me.--gave me a sweat --some physic--soaked my feet and everything until they broke it up.

"This was while we were at Fairfax Court-House. We are now 3 miles from there in a Souther direction as you will see by the heading. We moved here last Tuesday morn. I was not well at the time but came through with the rest, put up my tent built my bunk but I was sick all day coughed all the time most. I piled into rest as soon as much and the next morning Mr. Measles had just peppered up my face good.

"I have not got fully over them yet but am doing well. Yesterday was the first day that I sat up any. I had very good cure considering the place we have. ... I hankered after some of that good cider most of anything. I write this letter by odd jobs as I sit up at different times through the day. Guess that you have heard enough about measles.

"I see by the papers that you have been making Sweet again in the winter. What in fury are you all doing there at home. I have written to you Laura and all most and not a letter have I received. I have not heard a word from home since Lettie left there in the fore part of the winter. What is Mrs. Fay doing these days? I should like to see her much. Give my love to her and tell her that big blanket was just the nicest thing in the world to bring out the measles. Kept me warm and comfortable. Have not been cold since I got it.

"I remember that when we were at Windsor you laughed that our Capt would never make much you guessed right the first time. He never was good for anything for a Capt. He and the 2nd Lieut. were called before the Col for examination and was advised to resign and they did. They would have been obliged to if they not accepted his advice so the command fell wholly on me until another should be appointed.

"I worked day & night almost for about a week settling the affairs of the Co with him. Every thing belonging to the Co (which we had to take account stock to find out how much) had to be turned over to me and I receipt for it. You have no idea how much writing I have to do. I had rather keep two sets of books in Fays store than keep the Co. Books here.

"As you no doubt have heard I was fortunate enough to be called to the Col quarters to get my commission as Capt. of the Co. I am doing all I can to make it appear well. The Col said the other day that my Co had improved 100 per cent since I took command. A compliment I thought. More soon Elmer"  
  E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 27, 1863

"Fairfax Station, Va. January 27, 1863
"Dear Parents,

"I have somewhat overrun my usual week but still I hope for pardon as I have been quite busy of late. Yesterday and the day before I was in the Capt.'s office helping to fix up accounts preparatory to payday and tonight the Paymaster is in camp and has commenced work. We are to be paid from Aug. 29th, the day we organized, to Nov. 1st, ($27.30). 

"I shall endeavor to send home the quarter part of mine as I shall have enough without it. ... I have been detailed at the quartermaster this afternoon and am to go again tomorrow. Whether the detail will be permanent or not I do not know." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 27, 1863

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Duty at Fairfax Station.

According to tradition, it was here that a teamster of a Vermont regiment discovered “a new road to camp – three feet below the old one.”

The bottoms had dropped out of the roads. In addition to picket duty the regiments had to turn and corduroy the roads leading from the Station to Wolf Run Shoals, in order to make them passable for the loaded army wagons. What with this labor, the digging of rifle pits to guard the fords across the Occoquan, the stockading of their tents, the corduroying of the company “streets,” and the leveling of some Confederate fortifications on the south side of the river, the men did not languish much in idleness, and drills were for a time abandoned.George Grenville Benedict,  Vermont in the Civil War 424-25 (Burlington Vt 1888)    

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 1863. Mud and Measels

"Camp near wolf run Va. Jan 25th '63

"... I stayed at our former camp until yesterday morning at half past ten oclock, when I started for this place behind a baggage wagon. the distance is ten miles, and we arrived here at six oclock, and the mud was so deep that the axel tres draged on the ground a part of the way, and the rest of the way it was not much better. 

"We left at that place twenty men. fifteen Sick with the measels, four as nurses, and one to cook for them. I left them all a doing well except Farwell. he was taken that morning and I have not heard from him, not yet. Wilber was taken with the measels day before yesterday. The measels have come out well and he is not very sick. think that he will have them light ...

"Well Father the apearances are now that we shall get some pay in the course of the week, but you know that all signs fail in dry times, as well as in war times. but I think that we shall get payed up to the first of November in the course of two or three days." ~ 
Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt, Letter No. 22

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23, 1863. A Letter from Camp Hell

"Camp (...this side of Hell) Jan. 23, 1863 
"Friend Eaton

"I received your letter night before last. I am well and so are the rest of the Warren boys. We have had one more death in our company. John Canada from Duxbury. He was a good soldier and a nice fellow, good-natured as a kitten and we thought he would stand most anything but somehow the tough Bullyboys do not stand Camp life any better than some of the weaker ones that are always complaining.

"I don’t want you to show what I wrote this time. Burn it up for I am going to tell the thing ...as it is. I have written that it is all right so as not to worry my friends at home. To tell the truth, a soldier’s life is not to be envied. Every time we have a march someone of the boys receives a death blow. Some to march in the rain and mud and they lie down in our wet clothes without shelter as we did the first time we left Camp Vermont for Union Mills and then to come back in a snowstorm and not have any shelter as some of the Boys did....

"Then our other moves were hard. Our last one was a tough one. The ground was frozen hard but the bubbles were awful. Then, the night after, we got here, there came up a shower all of a sudden as the storms do here and gave us a regular drenching (our tents have come now but our stoves have not)

"We can get along if the rations are not short. If you never saw a hard cracker I will send you one... For six days we have had only six a day. When we were entitled to 12 and a pound of pork and a ration of Beans, Peas, or Rice a day and many a day we have been on short rations one day or two or three days so that we got rather hungry.

"(You wrote that you wished you could enlist. I tell you that you had better stay at home) ...

"Our company reports only 61 men for duty. The rest are sick or dead, mostly. Only 4 died. Some companies do not muster men so many men as ours.

"I am much obliged to you for what you sent to me and I wish you to tell Mother Ann that I thank her greatly every time I taste of her cheese. The things came all right except for a bottle of Molasses. The bottle got a piece broken out of the side as large as a cent so it all ran out. The rest was all right so we felt first-rate about it. ..

"Well I must close now so goodbye. Write soon to your friend. 
Jim"James Willson, 13th Regt. Co. C. , Letter #16 Janury 23, 1863 (VHS)

"Friday 23rd Clear, warm, & pleasant.... Went down to the Occoquan this P.M. & it is a beautiful valley. The river is about 2/3 the size of the Winoosski & shut in by high hills. A mill is situated near the river, on Wolf-run & is fed by a part of the run, which is turned in a "race", some half a mile above, & along this race is one of the most pleasant walks, I have ever seen. In fact this valley is a place of beauty. There are 2 Regs here, the 12th & 13th & 1 battery of 6 guns, the 2nd Conn. all under the command of Col. Blunt." Diary of Horace Barlow, 73-74, Co. C, 12th Regiment

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 1863. "The brigade is now scattered."

On January 20, 1863, Burnside attempts a flanking manoever at Fredericksburg, to become know as his "mud march."  Around 11am, Generals Franklin and Hooker begin their move. Slocom fills their gap, and the Second Vermont Brigade takes Slocum's position. The Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth, with the Second Connecticut battery, march to Fairfax Station, where they occupy, in part, the stockades and barracks which had sheltered Slocum's men. The Station, a military village of sheds and store tents, is the base of supplies for the thousands of troops at Centreville, Fairfax Court House, Union Mills, and other points in the vicinity, and as such needs to be strongly guarded.  The Twelfth and Thirteenth move on seven miles farther to Wolf Run Shoals, where one of the highways leading from Fairfax Court House south to Dumfries crosses the Occoquan. By evening it begins to rain. ~ 2 George Grenville Benedict,  Vermont in the Civil War 424 (Burlington Vt 1888)

Wolf Run Shoals, on the Occoquan River, was an important crossing point for travelers between Alexandria and Richmond dating to colonial times. A history of the ford during the Civil war is found here.

"January 20. For the twelfth time we are in a new camp. Our present one is half a mile south of Fairfax Station. At seven o’clock this morning everything was in readiness to be moved, and the regiment in line. Our Lieut. Colonel gave the command, Battalion! Right Face! Forward March! and arrived here at ten o’clock in the forenoon, five miles from our former encampment.

"[P]resent indication warn us that before we can possibly got our tents pitched, [a storm] will be upon us." 
J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 73-74 (1864)

"Tuesday 20th. Reveille rather earlier than usual. Reg't broke camp & marched at 7 o'clock. The day was clear & just cold enough to make it good marching. Stood the march to Wolf-run-shoals on the Occoquan river, pretty well; a distance of about 12 miles. 1 mile from our old camp to F.C.H. 3½ to the Station, & about 7½ to our present camp. 

"My feet got a little sore, because I marched in my "gunboats" which have rather thin soles, but I put on boots on the way & so came comparatively comfortable. We made but two halts on our journey & so were pretty tired when we reached here.  

"At Wolf-run-shoals, we found an old camp & shanties, just left by a reg of Gen Slocumb's corps, with fires still burning in the fireplaces. We secured one of these shanties & put our shelter tents over for a roof & were pretty comfortable. C.O. F. was detailed to remain & watch over the company interests in the old camp. Gen Slocumb passed us on our march. Also a part of his wagon train was passed by us. 

"5 weeks & 4 days we have remained in Camp Fairfax. Peace to its beauty." Diary of Horace Barlow, 70-71, Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Jan. 20. "This morning at five ... the beat of the drum. Soon the camps are all lighted; the rolls called; things packed; the mule teams loaded; and we are marching a little after day-light. We have gone but a few rods, when one comes from the brigade hospital to our company: "John Canady is dead," he said: "died at midnight." "died at midnight." "John Canady is dead," passes down the line from mouth to mouth. The next day a soldier goes back to see that his body is sent to his friends.

"None have any regrets at turning their back on this place; for the brigade has four dead men now in the hospital, and a hundred and fifty sick,- some with typhoid fever, but most with the measles.

"We have reached our destination the middle of the afternoon - a high bluff near the Occoquan river, (twelve miles march,) with aching backs and weary legs. ... As soon as it is known that we are to halt here through the night, all are working in great haste. The trees (for we are in a pine forest) fall as if the men were clearing the land. The tents are close behind us; and pitched before dark. We have no stoves; no brick with which we can make fireplaces; and the ground is frozen. ...

"A battery of cannon follows us, and is planted to defend the fords of the river; and the telegraph is strung through the forest.

"The brigade is now scattered; two regiments are here; the other three at Fairfax Station, -eight miles in the rear." ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864).

Harper's Weekly, January 24, 1863

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 1863. "In the afternoon there is a funeral." At evening, Orders for the whole Brigade to move.

Fairfax Courthouse
William Henry Jackson
"Fairfax Court House,

"Jan. 19th, 1863
"Dear Parents,

"Better, much better, in my opinion, is Uncle Joseph and I thought I would pen just a brief note to inform you of it, thinking that it might somewhat allay the anxiety which you and Maria would he likely to feel for him.

"We move in the morning though we don't know certain where. We expect either to go down to the Station or to a place called Woolf Shoals some ten or twelve miles from here. We go at seven. All well as usual except a sore thumb which plagues me some about writing. Slocum's Division which has all along been around the Station have just left, which we suppose to be the occasion for our moving. Nothing more now. H.G.Day"  
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 19, 1863

"Monday 19th. We, four, were excused & built a splendid stockade for our tent. Were completing it, by the Captains tent & were intending to put our tent upon it to-morrow, when orders came for "Captains to hold their Co's in readiness to march to-morrow Morning at 7 o'clock." We have always said that when we built, we should move in a day or two, & it seems that our prohecy is correct." Diary of Horace Barlow, 70, Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Jan. 19. We start off and work about two hours on the new quarters, (the cold compels us to move briskly,) when orders come from some higher source, and we soon shoulder our spades, return, and exchange them for the rifles, and go to drilling. 

"The old brick tavern in the village is used for the brigade hospital, where are brought, from the regimental hospitals, those who are the most dangerously sick. The bodies of nearly all who have died in our brigade have been embalmed and sent home, at the expense of the companies to which they belonged

"In the afternoon there is a funeral. The soldier died last night at the village, and wished to be buried there, saying that his wife could not endure the sight of his dead body.

"The chaplain, musicians, his company, and such as choose to from the regiment, follow him to the grave. His is placed, before leaving the hospital, in a government coffin, made of boards painted black,-with the clothes on that he wore when alive. He is now laid in the ground four feet deep; twelve of his comrades fire their farewell shots; the chaplain speaks consoling words, offers a prayer to God and pronounces a benediction; and we turn away, not as when we came, with a slow and measured tread, - the drummers beating the dead-march, - but with quicker steps, a livelier air, - Yankee Doodle.

"As we reach camp it is noised about that we are going on a march to-morrow."  
~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"January 19. I have just received a box of delicacies from home, and fear that I shall be very much indisposed to do duty if I indulge in eating much of it, for such a sudden transition from "hard tack” and coffee to the luxuries of home will not be beneficial.

"Marching orders have been received by the brigade to-day, to be ready to march in the morning to Fairfax Station, to take the place of Slocum’s division, which has been ordered on to Fredericksburg to join Burnside. And thus another week of hard industrious labor has been in vain, for we are not to enjoy its benefits." J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 71 (1864)

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 1863. "It will take generations efface to from their minds the the irreparable mischief that treason as we call it has done. "

"Fairfax Court House, Jan 18th, 1863
"Dearest Wife,

"My own health remains most excellent. Indeed I hardly remember the time when I have been uniformly so well. The weather is now quite cold to the “natives” and to some of our soldiers, but it seems quite mild to me. I do not dress any warmer than when at Brattleboro in October, for I wear the same pants, vest and the same thin blouse. Yet I ride an hour or so nearly everyday without any overcoat or any addition except cap and gloves to what I wear in my office. I have not had a symptom of a cold for six weeks nor an ache except I sometimes get quite tired out in listening to the same complaints repeated with scarcely a change or variation continuously. 

"It is rumored that we shall soon move towards Thoroughfare Gap soon move with what truth I do not know but the rumor seems plausible enough. I have made up my mind that in the army there is no abiding place. My experience in preparing for your reception at Camp Vermont settled that question.

"I suspect that I shall have to visit Washington this week. We have taken several political prisoners that will probably find a resting place in the Old Capital and I shall be wanted to give my evidence against them, unless prospects of an immediate forward movement prevents.

"The President’s proclamation has waked up all the latent bitterness in the Southern heart, and secesh is on its rampage. The atrocious sentiments uttered in this messages and speeches by Jeff Davis find echoes more or less strong in this part of Virginia. What is to be the result is beyond human here. I am becoming a little shaky in my faith that the “Union of these States” is to be preserved. Our prospects are darker than ever before; and then is so much division at the North that when the time of one nine months men expires I do not know who will take their places. Look at the matter in another point of view. The feeling of bitterness engendered in the hearts of all the South including those who fought against secession until it became a fixed fact, against the old Union is one that will never be out lived. It will take generations to efface from their minds the irreparable mischief that treason as we call it has done. ...

"There is nothing new in camp. Mrs. Proctor was here a few days with her husband in his camp, but I did not see her nor know of her visit until she had gone. Abner White was my “orderly” yesterday and thought he should like the place every day when the guard is detailed from the 16th Regiment. He is a good boy and a good soldier. There have been ten deaths in the regiment. 8 of which were in the Wilmington Company. 

"Quite a number of officers have resigned - a way we have of getting rid of inefficient officers, they having that opportunity or the alternative of being sent before a board of examination. Among these is Adjutant Bridgman who was a very inefficient officer.

"The Colonel is in excellent health. So is the major. The 16th is by all odds the crack regiment of the brigade. The men drill superbly.  
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 17, January 18, 1863. VHS.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sunday, January 16, 1863. Measles are in Camp

"Camp near Fairfax Courthouse Courthouse

"January 16, 1863 

"Rain again and it rained again all last night but did not wet the roof of our house through so as to leak. I would not wonder if the rainy season had fairly commenced and that we are a permanent fixture here until after mud time. 

"The measles are in camp. There have been twenty or thirty cases of them but they say that they run light. ...I have seen Uncle Joseph again this morning. He thinks he is a little better though not much. He says he has just had such turns at home so I suppose Aunt M. will understand his case better than I can describe it. His tent mates will take good care of him as possible, I guess. He wanted me to say that he had written three letters since January 1st and understood that Aunt had not received any of them. He says he will write again as soon as he feels able. I am well enough myself, have not got the measles yet, though I may have if they take a thorough run through camp.

"In regard to discipline and punishment, I presume you do not think we are all natural fools to be here three months and not know what is allowable and what not. Besides, our officers are not of that class that they take any extra pains to have the boys get into trouble. Our 2nd Lt. Peabody has been promoted to 1st Lt., and we are to have the Sergeant Major for our new 2nd Lt. He is a smart officer and I think we shall like him very well, but what is really wonderful is the fact that Jason Freeman has been appointed 2nd Lt. of the Co. "H" (the Felchville Co.) He was the Colonel's waiter. The boys all hate him so, even though they like Peabody first rate.

"...You ask particularly about our living...so I will tell you what we have had today: in the morning, tea, which I have got so I won't drink, boiled fresh beef and our day's ration of bread, - eleven hard tacks. At noon, all the beans we could eat, which we always season with cayenne; at night, coffee and boiled bacon. Good enough for anybody, wasn't it? And enough of it surely. We have beans about twice a week and rice soup or potatoes the rest of the time. And speaking of soup: our cooks make better soups than you ever did or ever can see unless you have the hard tacks to put in for dumplings. We have some hard and some soft bread, and I had as least have the hard as the soft, although the soft is very good, better a great deal than we got at Brattleboro. And our beef is first rate also. I wish I could send home half a bushel of hard tack as curiosities. John Knights has got so that he sends home recipes for cooking to his wife, and she tries them and calls the result good, yea very good! We are not having as hard a time of it as you imagine, indeed we get along very comfortably and hope that you at home manage to do the same.

"Orlo Fullam has just been detailed to go to the ambulance corps, a good chance for him as he had some difficulty with his feet, which troubled him much about marching.

"The wind is blowing in a style that would not disgrace Vermont, though there is no snow on the ground to sing and whistle about our ears. And the ground was not frozen this afternoon, though it may be before morning. But no more for now." 
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 15, 1863

[ Harland Orlando Peabody,  Andover, VT, age 23, 1SGT, Co. C, 16th VT , comn 2LT, Co. C, 10/23/62 , promoted 1LT, Co. H, 12/31/62 (1/7/63), promoted Adjutant, 4/1/63 (4/23/63).]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jaunuary 15, 1863. Sickness in Camp

"Jan. 15. As soon as breakfast is over, all the companies, led by the major, with spades and axes, start to clear another place for the camp. We have plenty of rations; it is a warm day, and most are in excellent spirits. But the boys look at each other, laughing, and say: "This is putting down rebellion in earnest." We are soon on the ground,-a dry side hill,-near a grove of Norway pines, a hundred rods to the left of the twelfth regiment. It is covered with logs, brush, and tree-tops. But the work goes bravely on. The streets re-marked out for each company; and each clears its own. 

At noon we go back for dinner, carrying our axes and spades; for one, if he happens to be in want, does not scruple from other regiments, or any other company but his own, to steal such things, reasoning in this way: "These tools belong to Uncle Sam; I am working for the old fellow; this axe is better than mine, and I can do more work with it; so much clear gain!" This argument has morality enough in it to still the consciences of most soldiers if they have chopped long with a dull axe, and have a chance to get their hands on a sharper one; and so much logic, that no one pretends to refute it, only, if he has lost one, by improving the first opportunity that he has to steal another. In the afternoon we nearly finished policing the ground."  ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"Camp near Fairfax Courthouse Courthouse
"January 15, 1863
"Dear Parents

"A little leisure and plenty of candle, so why not write a few moments before bedtime. To he sure, the week is not quite out, but still as I have time I might as well improve it as well as I can as I can see we move at any moment, though the only sign of moving that for the last two days we have been engaged in fixing up for the winter: building railroads, corduroy sidewalks, turnpiking our streets, arranging the drains, etc. The colonel says that things look more like staying now than they every have before. 

"The mail has just come in bringing yours of last Sunday, which like all letters from home was eagerly perused. It seems that when small things get into the papers they look remarkably large to the readers. For instance, The Rebel raid near Fairfax seems to have been magnified into quite a battle by the newspapers.

"You might possibly be astonished to learn that some thirty of the 16th's boys, myself among them, have been put in Fairfax jail for twenty four hours, though for no particular misdemeanor. I have before written you that we have to send over on a patrol guard to the Courthouse every few days. Well, it so happened that on that particular day there were 30 or 40 more men detailed than were needed, and the supernumeraries were quartered in the rascally old jail and left at liberty to skedaddle around the city and see the sights which were not great. 

"Uncle Joseph is quite sick, though I hope that he will be better soon. He had a bad cold and headache and it seems altogether to have made him sick. Co. "F" lost two more men last night,* making six in all from that one company, against only two or three from the rest of the regiment, and the same company lately sent home eight invalids. Strange, isn't it, there is more sickness in camp now than there has usually been." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 15, 1863

* Albert Allen, Wilmington, VT, age 22,, Pvt, Co. F, 16th Vt. died 1/14/63; Edward E. Burrington, Halifax, VT, age 27, Pvt, Co. F, 16th Vt. died 1/14/63.  See  Tuesday, December 9, 1862

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 13, 1863. Moving Camp; A false alarm.

"Jan. 13. A dry place; one free from the wind, in cold weather; and near wood and water. These at least are necessary for a good camp ground. When we first came here this location answered to these. But now the ground is soaked with water, and it does not run off freely; some are sick; and a few have died very suddenly. The surgeons pronounce the place unhealthy, and think that the camp had better be moved. So we work during the day, policing the ground to the right of us. 

"The next morning at two o'clock we are aroused by the "long roll." All are up in a few minutes. The first man I met after I was out of my tent, began: "What in hell is to pay now? Some men are scared at their own shadows. There a'int 'a reb' within a thousand miles of here." We don't leave the company streets, and in a half hour are told that we can lie down again. A bushwhacker had fired at a cavalry patrol not far from camp."~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"January 13. We are again in a new camp, two miles west of the Court House. The order to change our camp was complied with yesterday. The regiment was formed in line about nine o’clock I the forenoon, in heavy marching order. We were not long in marching to this place, the distance being only two miles. To-day our camp presents a busy scene. The sound of two hundred axes are heard, preparing timber for stockading. Logs are being backed about a quarter of a mile, which shows that there will be no rest until the regiment is well provided for the winter.

"Another false alarm was given by our pickets last night: About midnight the long roll was beaten, calling the regiment to arms, and, with its usual alacrity and promptness, was soon in line, ready to receive the enemy; but fortunately for him he did not show himself. We were kept up about two hours, when the party sent out to reconnoiter returned with the intelligence that the alarm was a false one. It was not a very favorable time for a skirmish, the night being exceedingly dark, so that friend or foe could not have been distinguished." J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 69 (1864)

"Jan. 13. Have been over to the 14th, about two miles. They have got a big camp ground, but have got to move to-morrow at seven o’clock in the morning.

"We are going to Wolf Run Shoals, about ten miles, somewhere between here and the Rebs. This makes the third time that our Brigade has built their Winter Quarters, and I think they ought to break in some other Brigade and let Vermont rest, but they are good for it."  Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11. 1863. Provost duty at Fairfax Courthouse

Fairfax Court House, Jan 11th, 1863"I have been preparing several days to write you but an unusual piece of business has prevented. I have the permission of the General to drill in Brigade with my regiment, which occurs twice a week, and necessitates the study of evolutions of the line. Furthermore I have within the last three days made examinations into the several liquor shops in this place, and yesterday I confiscated about 20 dozen bottles of the contraband, which I shall turn over to the Medical Director, keeping of course all that I may want for my own use.

"During the past week, also, I have tried several cases, treason, desertion and the like five of whom I have sent to the Old Capital Prison at Washington. These in addition to the granting of passes, answering questions, etc, keeps me quite busy. 

"I am quite well as I have been ever since I had a little cold and sore throat at Camp Vermont. I got to eating so irregular owning to the inconveniences of getting and preparing food in my office that I have taken to boarding, as I wrote you in my last. Then is not a decent boarding place at Fairfax Court House as there is no market, no nothing. I should live much better with my regiment. But I am thankful that I am not squeamish about my food. I have lived on boiled and fried pork for more than with week without any potatoes and I can do so some weeks longer.

"...[T]here has not been a moment since I entered the service that I have not felt glad that I enlisted. I do feel that in this service I am doing my duty. But I do every day, morning and evening, think of the dear ones at home and how much pleasure it would give me to see them all. As to what I think of the war I have no opinion except this - that the North will surely and certainly triumph in the end - it may not be this year nor the next, but truths justice and right must in the end prevail. I am not particularly jubilant over any great victory ...nor am I dismayed by any defeats. We must take them as it comes, rain or shine, yet there is seed time and harvest always. As to the propriety of this or that movement beyond the sphere of my personal influence, I do not discuss even in my own mind. I mean to do my duty as faithfully as I can where ever I am ordered assist my superiors to the best of my ability obey all lawful orders according to the spirit of the Regulations and Article of War, without a question or murmur. This is just the way I feel, and I can’t feel any different.

"If I were to express any opinion upon anything I am ordered to do it would be this. Fairfax Court House is the dirtiest, nastiest, most destitute place I was ever in. It has been tore to pieces and nearly destroyed. There is not a house standing that is even half furnished and I don’t believe there are chairs enough in turn to seat the inhabitants all at one time, let alone the army.

"Second the business of Provost Marshall is the meanest part of army duties. I never did like a staff appointment. I have told Holbrook, Washburn, Davis, Col. Veazey and others so many times. I would never accept of one even if I could be Chief of Staff to McClellan. But here I am ordered and I have not made one word of complaint although the whole thing is so distasteful. Yet I have expressed my opinion as above when asked how I liked it.

"It is in obedience to orders that I stay, and I will never ask for favor when very order is made but will obey without a look of discontent except that told Gen. Stoughton that when the 16th was ordered into action he might as well consent to my going for if he did not, he would have an opportunity to court martial me. He speaks warmly in approval of the manner in which I do my duty here.

"Your living husband - Charles."
 ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 15, January 11, 1863. VHS.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saturday, January 10, 1863. Camp in the rain near Fairfax Courthouse

"Camp near Fairfax Courthouse
"January 10, 1863
"Dear Parents

"We are this afternoon having a rainstorm and as we have no drill and do not like to go outdoors to wash or other outdoor jobs, we are all inside, and not wishing to sit entirely idle have gone to writing. I do not know that I have any special news to relay . . . but we have got back from our trip to Centerville all in good shape.. . and we now expect to be kept here for support for the troops at Centerville, but no soldier can tell where he will be in an hour from any stated time. 

"We started from Centerville for home about four o'clock Tuesday in the midst of a gentle rain which made us put an our rubbers and contrived to swing our woolen blankets in such a manner as to keep them dry. As it was, the regiment never marched over that road; in spite of mud we made the distance in less than three hours and it must be at least eight miles. 

"While we were gone a lot of sick men were sent from the brigade to Brattleboro and among them two from our company. We were very sorry to lose them, but we could not wish them to stay being affected as they were with palpitation of the heart. Whether they had yet arrived at Brattleboro I do not know, but we heard only a day or two ago that red tape still holds them at Washington. 

"Dr. Story is here. I had quite a little chat with him. I watched with Henry Fletcher night before last and the doctor slept in the tent. Wait and Bailey have taken care of him all through and have given him the very best attention. 

"I see by one paragraph in your last that you are borrowing trouble about us. You need not trouble yourself about our being in any great danger unless something happens more serious than the recent Rebel raid near Fairfax. To read the accounts of it as they come to us in the Washington and Vermont papers one would think that we had a great battle right here under our noses. We have smiled frequently at the accounts of it in the papers. I believe I have told you as much about our situation as I conveniently can.

"In regard to our living I have omitted telling about living on half rations a because I did not know anything about it, never having tried that system. To be sure there are times when for a meal or two we cannot be furnished all that one would like and if a fellow is improvident enough to waste his "grub" when there is an abundance, he may expect to go short once in a while. For my own part I have never gone hungry and if I happened to have an extra loaf of bread or a dozen hard tacks when we were out on picket or on a march I never threw them away.

"You can have your tomatoes and we will take the onions, though I never should have thought of them if you had not mentioned them. There are times when on picket that we have to eat three quarters of a pound of salt hog per day and then raw onions come very handy. My haversack is full now, its contents being hard crackers, sugar, onions, some fresh beef that they gave me for breakfast, and some things that Uncle Joe gave from his abundance.

" . . . The Journal came in last night and is the only newspaper we have received in this tent for a week, although we usually have four or five. Surry Ross is ailing again. I should not wonder if he went home with the next lot. He had a small box come to him the other night, which seemed to please him. It all came in good shape except some fresh meat which was somewhat moldy, and indeed meats are apt to spoil coming from Vermont here. I cannot think of anything that would he likely to please you more than the bottom of the sheet as here it is. H.G. Day"    Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 4, 1863

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sunday, January 4, 1863. A compliment

"Sunday, Jan. 4th.--We are in Centerville yet, and are experiencing very pleasant weather. We are to stay 8 days. Two companies are on picket at a time, and stay 24 hours;--the other companies drill twice a day, as usual. On battalion drill, the other day the Col. complimented us by saying we had never drilled so well before. I am sure we all did our best. We have great confidence in Col. Vesey and Capt. Arms, and in our officers generally." ~ Daniel B Stedman Brattleboro, VT, age 22, Pvt., 16th Regt,  Co. B, Letter of January 2, 1863     Brattleborohistory.com

"Centerville, Virginia, January 4th, 1863

"Dear Parents,

"When I last wrote you I said that we expected if nothing happened, to go to Centerville on picket about the middle of the week, and here we are. ... From that time [Stuart's raid] until we came here we had any quantity of scare stories about the Rebs, that they were coming in this direction of that, and since we came here even the story in our old camp has been that the 16th were all driven in to the Forts and rifle pits by the enemy. To be sure some of our company are camped in the old forts, but we have not been driven a single inch and as for capturing us, it would trouble all the cavalry in Jeff Davis' dominions to capture us as long as hard tack and cartridges lasted, although artillery would drive us out unless we could have some ourselves.

"We have got to stay here in Centerville seven days instead of four, as we did the first time we were here, and then we will go back to camp again. Centerville is a nasty stinking desolate hole, half of it has already been burned, and it would do the other half good to burn also. There have been so many troops camped about here, both Sesesh and Union, that the country roundabout is a perfect desert covered with the rude stone chimneys constructed by the Rebel army to warm their winter quarters, and by the ruins of houses that once covered the inhabitants of this war desolated land. 

"The Rebel huts have mostly been carried off for fuel, leaving only their great unsightly chimneys to mar the landscape, though near the post where Alfred and I stood on picket yesterday and last night, there were the remains of some which we found made first rate firewood.

"I am writing with pencil out here because my knapsack is in camp and we have no ink out here, though we could buy it if we wished, and it is about the only thing you can buy, unless it be a little might of milk,- nothing in the line of eatables can be had for love or money. Even our officers got short and were unable to buy anything for themselves, and have been on a great deal shorter rations than have we."  
 ~  Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 4, 1863

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Friday, January 2, 1863. A picture of Centreville

"I intended to have written yesterday so as to wish you a Happy New Years on that day. But business is increasing in the office and then the command of the Regiment on my hands during a week has closely occupied my time. There is nothing worthy of note occurred within a few days. Col. Veazey has improved and is now out with the regiment on picket. Major Rounds is also out." ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 14, January 2, 1863. VHS.

"Centerville, Va., Jan. 2d, 1863.
"Dear Sisters: When I wrote the other day, we were in a hubbub; said hubbub has now subsided, the rebels having, apparently, done the same. All the damage I have heard of doing, was an attempt to burn a railroad bridge, the cutting of the telegraph wire, and the supposed extraction of messages at Burke's station.

"We relieved the 15th at this place, yesterday. The first time we came out on picket, we went beyond here, but the line has been drawn in. The 15th was obliged to fall back, and occupy the earth-works at this place, during the "raid," but were not attacked.

"I wish you could paint a picture of Centerville. Imagine how the village of Brattleboro would look after having been lifted 5000 feet into the air by a whirlwind, and suddenly dropped "ker-smash"! There are a few houses standing, perhaps a dozen in all, and a few inhabitants; but the ruins of a church, mill, &c., show that it is not what it once was, and it is not easy to see how it ever will be.

"... Here, on picket, we make our own coffee, and fry our hard bread in pork fat. Uncle Sam's stock of old wormy crackers, which had, apparently, been kept over from the war of 1812, are about exhausted, and we now have fresh ones, whose only bad effect is, that they make a man hungry. ..."  ~ Daniel B Stedman Brattleboro, VT, age 22, Pvt., 16th Regt,  Co. B, Letter of January 2, 1863     Brattleborohistory.com