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

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

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