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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28, 1863. Why we fight.

Lt.Col. Charles Cummings
16th Vt. Regt.


"My Dearest Wife,

"This afternoon the 14th, 15th, and 16th Vermont Regiments have been ordered to be ready to receive marching orders at a moment’s notice with two days cooked rations where to I do not know, but I suspect in the direction of Leesburg towards Harper’s Ferry from here. It is  said that the rebel cavalry is threatening an attack in that quarter. After all just as likely as not it  is only a big scare. ...

"The most painful spectacle that now presents itself is that of the traitorous copperhead “peace” men in the north who are talking and acting treason under the guise of restoring “the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is.” They are a secret confederation of traitors who see in the putting down of the rebellion and the consequent downfall of slavery the loss of their natural political allies and their future party poverty. It stirs one’s blood that the miserable, craven hearted demagogues not content with their own treason should seek to link the brave soldiers who are periling all they hold dear in the defense of their country with them in their shame. 

"C. H. Davenport of Wilmington is one of this number. He came out here and after hearing me talk said I was the first officer he had seen who was willing to support the administration to the utmost in putting down the rebellion and in employing any and every means for that purpose. He went home and most shamefully belied the 16th Regiment.

"Last Monday a series of resolutions persuasive of the sentiments of the 16th Regiment in relation to the war were drawn up and signed by every commissioned officer present and after being read on dress parade were put to vote, when on the question of there adoption from six to seven hundred men all that were present, answered a thundering, hearty, unanimous aye! These have been sent to Vermont, and will appear in some of the papers. The army is all right and if the men and women we have left behind us will take care of the miserable platoon who are maligning us we will put down the rebellion here, and then come home and squelch their treasonable speech and practices.

"I have faith that we shall succeed. I recognize but one alternative - Disunion or the subjugation of the rebels. To disunion, I will never willingly consent so long as my arm and my tongue is left. Whatever I am, I am at my country’s service until this great work is accomplished  and may God speed the day. 
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter  February 28, 1863. VHS.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 27 1863. An Officers' Ball

"Fairfax Station, VA Feb 27th, 1863 


"I did not know anything of Lieut. Simonds* amours until I received your letter albeit I knew that he had an unenviable reputation for a man of family or even without a family in the line. I asked the Colonel about it. He told me that it was common talk in the camp, and that Simonds had spoken to him about it, denying that he had gone to that extent, but admitting more or less intercourse. It seems that three women claim his services, but their names I have not learned. 

"Simonds is acting Provost Marshall at Fairfax Station, the duties of which office consist mainly in having charge of the freight, loading and unloading cars, and countersigning passes for transportation merely. He is quite unwell. I think these new developments will make him sick. He is unquestionably a libertine, but he thought probably that he was sufficiently smart to avoid the ultimate consequences of his indulgences. I do not pity him. I told him more than a year since that he was disgracing himself and friends. He has made money in his hotel fast, by selling rum and keeping improper persons on his presumes have naturally contributed to his gains. I hope this lesson will be useful to him. But I will say for him that he discharged the duties of Commissary Sergeant so ably that he deserved promotion he received. However, the regiment feels disgraced by his conduct. 

"To night there is quite a gathering at a new building near the station, erected for the Quartermaster’s Department. Mrs. Col. Nichols and a dozen other Vermont Ladies had made preparations for a social dance and gathering there, and they invited all the field officers and some of the line officers there. The Colonel and Dr. Lyman of Vermont have gone. Your perhaps remember the Doctor. He dined with us at the time of the convention and is now the agent of Vermont to look after the sick and wounded soldiers. It will be a pleasant time bathing in the mud. These ladies somehow manager to ride out occasionally on horseback, but there are not enough side - saddles for them all to go at once. I believe they will leave for Vermont soon. 

"A recent order has been promulgated by the terms of which all the troops around Washington from the Monocacy in Maryland down to the Occoquan in Va, are organized into the 22nd Army Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. Heintzelman. This includes the three Brigades in Casey’s Division, of which the 2nd Vermont is the 2nd Brigade. Our designation is: "16th Vermont Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Casey’s Division, 22nd Army Corps.” 

"I think that these new brigades will be detached in the spring and sent into the field. ... I hope so, for I should not like our time to expire with no sight at service. 

"There does not seem to be much army news just at the present moment. The traveling is horrible and it is next to impassable to move an army. Our troops cannot do much except to drill on their company grounds, and study tactics. All the troops in the service are to be mustered tomorrow, as is usual on the last day of every two months. It is from these rolls that the men are paid."  ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter  February 27, 1863. VHS.


*Possibly Charles F Simonds (1836-1886), Age 26 of  Brattleboro, 16th VT INF, commissioned 2nd Lieut.Co. I, 1/16/63, resigned 5/4/63
   


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"There is too much sympathy for the rebels in their unholy and devilish work."

"February 26.  The snow has fallen to the depth of a foot.

"We hear of those at home who are already beginning to shake in their boots for fear of the draft which is soon to take place. Such people have doubtless become horrified upon the subject of war, for it has lasted longer than most of the people thought for. I fear that there has not been earnestness enough in the people of the North in prosecuting the war. They have not viewed the matter in its true light, and realized the gigantic proportions of this Rebellion. They have shown too much mercy to those wretches who are grappling so earnestly at the throat of the nation. The advantages have been with the South, in having a knowledge of the country, and by acting on the defensive; and it is generally conceded by good tacticians, that the invading army should be three times as strong as the invaded.


"But this does not show our weakness in so striking a degree as when we consider the sympathy manifested in the North for secession. There is too much sympathy for the rebels in their unholy and devilish work. This has been a great drawback to us in accomplishing what we should. The President would doubtless have issued his emancipation scheme before, had it not been for this opposition. It was evident to him, as well as to al far-seeing statesmen, that slavery was the cause and main story of the rebellion, and by the opposition of those who would not recognize any policy which touched the "Sacred Institution," he was deterred from issuing that proclamation which embodies the noble principles ever conceived by man, and thereby striking at once at the foundation of this most uncalled for strife." 
J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 81 (1864)

"Feb. 26. Rain, which makes the snow quite soft. The 15th have had a snow ball- the right wing against the left. As fast as they got hit they had to fall out, which they done very well, until the wounded got to fighting among themselves, and then it was nip and tuck. The left took Col. Proctor prisoner, and they hang on to him so tight that he had to use some of his authority. Liet. Col. Grout came out on his horse and had quite a time taking him prisoner and moving him up to his quarters, which they made out to do." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25, 1863. Wounded in a snow-ball fight.

"Camp near wolfs run Va. Feb. 25th 1863

"It is just five months to day since I left my home up in old Vermont near old Ascutney mountain to try and do my duty for my country & my home.  During that time I have seen some pretty hard times & some that were not so hard as I could expect. The hardest time that I have seen was a week ago yesterday & today. Also a week come to morrow when I started in the snow and marched seven miles with the mud knee deep   ... (with it snowing & raining all of the time) & started back got to camp at three o'clock without a wink of sleep in the whole time and my birth day in stead of being to home... 

"Last night there was a lot of us out snowballing when there was a ball hit me in my right eye & nearly knocked me down. I have done nothing to day & as I write one eye is covered up with a hankercheif & the other one ought to be for as you might say I am blind in one eye & cant see very well out of the other one.

"They have called for a Sergt to morrow on picket & as there is no other but me. I shall have to go or else send a corporeal in my place. Can tell better in the morning. 

"The boys are well.  Ira* & Henry** left here this morning for the hospital.   Ira was as tough as a bear. Ira says that he has not received any letters from you. He says direct to Ira M. Hammond Post hospital Fairfax court House Va. in care of Surgeon S Ketchum & he will run the risk but what he shall get them.

"Capt. S has gone to Alexandra after Father Wait.   He is returned for duty. I would write you more to night but my eye says that I have wrote enough so I will Stop. Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 29


* Ira Mallory Hammond of West Windsor, age 27,  Pvt, Co. A, 12th Vt, was Jabez' oldest brother.
** Possibly Henry Holmes  Hammond, of West Windsor, age 33,  2d Sgt, Co. A, 12th Vt, discharged 1/5/63

Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 24, 1863. More snow.

"Feb. 24. Have had another severe snow storm and it looks like Vermont winter. The wind blows hard and the snow continues to fall in large flakes very fast." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Measles in the 13th Vt

"Feb. 23, 1863 
"Grandfather Hillery 

"Received a letter from you yesterday when I got home off picket. We went out yesterday with two days rations but we were relieved before night ... .
 
"We have got the Measles in our Regiment. Some in our Co. have got them. Some are sick now and some have got well. Oscar Stearns is a little unwell. We are afraid that he is coming down with them but we have got a good tent and we shall take good care of him and not leave him for someone else to mend so they don’t go to the hospital but they fix up a tent in the co. and take care of our own boys. My health is good and so are the other Boys. We expect George will have this and then we shall have our hands full....


"We are having an awful storm. The wind blows and it snows in regular Vermont style but we are comfortable. Our tent  is warm and the wood is plenty and we have a good stove and we can keep warm as mice." James Willson, 13th Regt., pvt, Co. B. , Letter #25, February 23, 1863 (VHS)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sunday, February 22. 1863. Snow!


"Winter Quarters"
February 22, 1863
William Henry Jackson,
 12th Regt., Co. "K"
"Camp near wolfs run Va. Feb. 22nd 1863. To day it Snows hard & has most of the night. it is now about eight inches deep at nine oclock A.M. ... It is Sunday but we shall not have any inspection or meeting either because it Storms to hard. it is a regular Vermont Snow Storm. dry & windy & pretty cold. Folks think that we do not have much snow in Va. Now I am no hand for betting, But if the truth could be known, I should not be afraid to bet a months wages that there has more than four feet of Snow fell here this winter. that may look like a large Story, but I could get backers enough on that bet."  Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt,  Letter no. 28

PS "Sunday twenty minutes to eight P.M. weather cloudy & cold with from ten to twelve inches of Snow, which makes it look like Vermont. the Snow has slid off from the tents & filled the space between & if it thaws very fast there will be a chance to have a boat ride in the tents."


"Fairfax Station Feb. 22nd, 1863
"Dear Parents,
"Virginia!- the land of many changes ... is today swept by a most merciless snow storm, the toughest of the season. The Lord have mercy on those poor soldiers who have nothing but their 'shelter' tents to protect them from the fury of the storm. But we here in our comfortable stockades and with good warm fires, do not need much sympathy. 

"It commenced storming about midnight, and at the present time, a little after noon, we have 7 or 8 inches of snow, perhaps more. Nobody goes out today unless he is obliged to. Here in our tent we have done nothing today except keep a good fire, and split hardtacks with a hatchet for dinner. Hardtacks don't generally need to be split with a hatchet, but these we have got now are solid substance sure enough. ...

"There is no use thinking that there will be anything of any importance done here in Virginia while the winter lasts, for there is not an army under the broad canopy of Heaven could more now. The infantry might possibly get alone, but for the artillery and baggage, moving is simply impossible. Neither could infantry move far without supplies. 

They have been obliged to corduroy the road from the Station to Wolf Run Shoals where the 12th and 13th are stationed, in order to get their supplies to them. The 15th have done most of the corduroying on this end of the road, and the 14th and 16th have done all the guard and fatigue duty at the Station. The 16th is rather improving in health as the measly characters are all getting better, and there are not many new cases....

"So severe is the day considered by the officers that the guards have every one been taken off, and the Colonel and commissary and sutler each takes care of himself. These are all the regimental guards that are usually kept on through the night, with the exception of one in front of the guard tent. We have to send guards to the Station every other day, and today fortunately we have none there. 

"We have just proposed to go out fox hunting tomorrow, now that there is snow. There is a fellow in Co. "B" that will bark just like a dog, and we thought he would do for the hound, but Alfred thinks we wouldn't be apt to find many foxes about here. It is not snowing so fast just now. Perhaps it may clear off again some time....H.G.Day" ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 22, 1863 



"Fairfax Station Sun. Eve Feb 22nd/ 63
"My Lettie

"I have been lounging about my quarters all day reading, writing a little, studying less, lying on by bunk a great deal. I waited until 3 o'clock thinking that I should get a letter from you. then I would answer but I am obliged to take pen and write without receiving a thing. The mail come here Sundays the same as any other day. I wrote you Tuesday last I believe. Since then I have sent a soldiers record also one to Father from Floyd. I havn't got a bit of news to write. The sun rises and sets in the east and west as usual. (isn't that sentimental.)

"My health is very good indeed--never was better--never so good. I am just as fat as a pig. Do not think when you are at home assembled around a warm fire or at the dinner table that I am suffering from cold or hunger for we are nicely situated in our little village of tented houses. Good quarters, warm and comfortable and plenty to eat.

"But we have all got idea that we shall move when the mud dries up but still no one knows. if we do we shall have to take it then. I do not expect to have my trunk carried any further if we move to the "front" We are in Casey Div. "Defenses of Washington" and unless we are transferred we shall have but little if any fighting to do in my opinion. But we shall most likely be put some where where we shall have something to do because our time will soon be out and this is one of the nicest Brigades in the army. We are not idle now. The men have to work as hard as they ought and it is necessary that some Brig. should be here and they may keep ours possibly.

"Last Sunday was had a terrible snow storm concluding with a heavy rain, and the mud you have no idea. Tuesday I think it rain it cleared away and came of as warm as summer and continues so until yesterday when it clouded up and last night it commenced snowing and has snowed most of the time since. A more _____ storm I hardly ever knew in the Northern States. It must be quite a while before the snow will melt and the mud get dried up. It is estimated that there has been three feet fall of snow here this winter.

"I have been writing to Sam today. Floyd is getting along quite well with the rheumatism. Is on duty now. Has a tight bunch of them occasionally nothing bad. Geo is feeling first rate better than he did before he was promoted. I think he felt pretty sorry at times that he enlisted.


"Mr. Herrick has gone home with his oldest son on a furlough of 20 days. How pleased his wife will be to see him. The were married you know the same day that we were only an hour or two later. That ring I sent home made of bone by a fellow in my Co. I want you to keep. This same fellow was taken sick a few days ago and is now just alive he will probably not live until morning.*  He was a real comical fellow and the life of the Co. Every other Co. has lost more or less.

"Have you got your money yet? Where did you draw it, what bank? You wrote me long long time ago about a Dr. Conn where you thought was in the12th Regt. I remember at the time that I thought there was no such a Dr. here but the other day I saw his name here and the thought struck me what you wrote--I will make myself acquainted with him if he is any of your old acquaintance at once. The 12th is about six miles from here I was going down there today horseback if it had been pleasant.

" Please accept this as a poor specimen of a letter form your true ____I embrace and kiss you & have much as I retire for the night and bid you again Good bye my_________. 
E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 22, 1863

* Carlos D. Slack, Pvt, Co. H, 16th Regt. died 2/24/63.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 20, 1863. At Sally Davis Ford.

"Feb. 20, 1863. I went on picket. Was stationed at what we call "Sally Davis's Ford," about two miles down the Occoquan from our camp. This is an important post and there are some twenty men to guard it, though there is not much danger of any one crossing the river to-day as the water is nearly bank high owing to heavy rains. It is a pleasant day, but cold--almost like a bright winter day in Vermont." ~Edward A. Fisk, Co "B", 13th Regt, "Notes from a  Diary" in R Sturtevant, Pictorial History Thirteenth Regiment, 461-462

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 17, 1863. Snow ball fight

"Feb. 17. Woke up this morning and found myself in a snow bank, which is getting to be quite general in this place. Snowed all day and is snowing now, some, at least eight inches deep. There is nothing new going on. Building telegraph line from Union Mills to the shoals. All quiet at Fairfax station. Now and then a reb. The boys are having a great time with the snow. Plaguing one another and charging into other companies grounds around to the tents with snow balls...." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment. 

Monday, February 16, 1863

" Monday the 16th:  We are expecting to have some new guns again, Springfield Rifles. Companies "A" and "B" already got them, though I don't believe they speculated much by the swap, as the guns they got were some of them second handed ones, and awfully rusty inside and out.

"We are also expecting ... to have four or five of our boys discharged. The surgeon offered to get Joseph Weston his discharge if he wanted, and I guess he will take it. ... Gould, of whom I wrote yesterday, is still alive, and that is about all. ...

"The weather here now is about what it is in Vermont in October and November, occasionally freezing a little nights, but not near enough to stay frozen through the forenoon. We have good water, plenty of wood and plenty of mud, when it rains, still rain does not disturb us as much as you might think, as the shanties are not apt to leak, and our pine paved streets don't soften easy. ...

"Warner Bates of Sherburne was here a few days ago. He came with Mr. Colton after the body of his son [Henry Colton]. He was 2nd Serg't of the Rutland company in the 14th, and a first rate appearing fellow. The Bates boys occasionally came over here to visit their cousins..."
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, 
Letter of February 15, 1863 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Measles, Mud and Death

"Camp near Fairfax Station
"Sunday, Feb. 15th, 1863
"Dear Parents,

.".. It is about time for us to be on our travels again, but I don't see how we can go now, it is so muddy. Besides we hear that this regiment has been reported unfit for duty, on account of sickness, principally measles. All the measly ones in our company are doing well with one exception, -Gould* of Andover, who it is thought must die. If he does it will be a hard case, as he was a poor man, and will leave a wife and four children, the youngest only three years old. 


"There are twenty six in our company off duty from sickness, and fourteen permanently detailed for service out of the company, one discharged, and one dead- Demary**, whose body has been sent to his folks, the expense being paid by the company, amounting to about half a dollar a head.

"...Major Rounds seems to have about the same opinion about my having the measles as Isadore had, as one Sunday morning while going the rounds inspecting the quarters of the men he stuck his head into our shanty, and seeing me there sick, remarked jokingly that I ought to have had the measles before, as it was bad to have them at twenty dollars a month. I told him I knew it was bad for Uncle Sam, and he smiled and passed along.


"...Levi Moore is having the measles, as is also Henry Miner- both having them quite hard."  ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 15, 1863 

*David Clark Gould contracted measles and typhoid fever about the 1st of Feb., 1863, and died in the hospital at Fairfax Station, Va., 18 Feb., 1863 (age 40).

**Thomas W. Demary, Pvt, Co. C, age 20, died February 2, 1863    

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 1863. Bayonet exercise and target practice.

"Fairfax Station Feb 11th
E.D.Keyes
Capt. Co. H
"Dear Father:

"Having been the recipient of a nice box full of good things from home and in good part from you and Mrs. Fay & Laura I now take the opportunity to express my grateful thanks for you generosity and kindness. Every thing came through safe not a thing was broken. The wine was splendid but the new sugar and honey was best of all. The new sugar took me right off from my feet first time tasting. I think you have beat them all. I also found a nice roll of butter of Mrs. Fays making I guess by the last. 

"I gave one bottle of Raspberry wine to the Col. I liked the wine but it gave me more pleasure to give it to him than drink it myself. I sent it up to him with my compliments and he made a great parade over it. Thought it very nice. I would have like to have given him a taste of the new sugar but it is so good I must keep it myself. He is one of the nicest men in the world. I cannot think of all the presents you sent but I thank you ever so much for all of them.

"My health is very good with the exception of a griping pain occasionally in my bowels. I eat well and feel well otherwise. Perhaps you think I have been eating so many sick things from home but not so for I have only just tasted of them. It will amount to nothing.

"I have been drilling the Co. in bayonet exercise for a few days past and I am awful lame. It is excellent exercise but very hard and fatiguing at first. I wish you could see them paraded and go through the Skirmish & Bayonet Drill. My mind has been almost wholly on Military for the last 4 months and I begin to think I know considerable though I suppose I have hardly begun.

"We are having real good times here--have no picket duty to perform but do a guard duty at the Station also fatigue duty. Aside from this we drill 4 hours per day. 2 hours out of the 4 we shoot at target have a min. time get up quick and strike. One that makes the best shot each day is excused from guard duty when it comes his turn. The rest of the time we drill in Bayonet exercise. We officers have our extra drill a day also a recitation before the Col.

"Suppose you are having some big snows now days are you not? The weather for ...four days past has been beautiful just like spring in Vt. The birds sing beautifully. Weather is very changeable here.

"Herrick is here attending his sick boys he has stayed with me considerable. Albert is getting along well but Russell I fear is not going to get well right off. Love to all. Yours Elmer."  
  E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 11, 1863

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 10, 1863. Signs of Spring

"Camp near wolfs run Va Feb 10th 1863

"... I was out [on picket] Sunday ... the weather was warm & the Sky was clear & in the morning the robbins Sang Sweetly making one think of the warm & lovely mornings in the last days of april such as we are used to Seeing in old Vermont. ...


"This forenoon we had some shooting at a target for practice. This afternoon I have cleaned my gun & sewed some stripes on to my coat sleaves & that is about all I have done. To morrow if nothing happens I am going to do my washing The weather to day has been very warm & pleasant & some of the citizens here are drawing manure which makes it seem like Spring."  Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt,  Letter no. 27

"Tuesday 10th. Diarrhea less driving, but still the same terrible, griping pain in the bowels, that I have had for several days back. The Reg't is engaged in keeping picket up & down the river; some 6 or 7 miles up, on Bull Run, & some 2½ miles down, to one ford, below the "Sally Davis" ford."Diary of Horace Barlow, 81, Co. C, 12th Regiment

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sunday, February 8, 1863 ."reduced by details and sickness"


“Fairfax Stations Va. February 8, 1863
“Dear Parents,

“It is Sunday again, and one of the most beautiful days you ever saw, though we may have another storm almost any time. I am getting along first rate, have been out taking the air today.

“The measles are taking a pretty thorough run through the company, and it takes about a week to get over it. I believe you wanted to know what became of the sick when we moved. Well, the last time we moved there were a good many sick in quarters, and one company was left behind for guard duty at the Courthouse (it is said they could only muster thirty men), and each company left one hut behind for the use of the sick, and did not move them until we had got somewhat settled in our present situation.

“About the old Catholic church that the Chaplain wrote about: They say it is a good place for a hospital. There are four of our men there now, three sick with the measles, and one (Hastings of Ludlow), with inflammatory rheumatism.
 

“There came an order yesterday for each company to send two of their best shots to headquarters. Hazen Fletcher and M.P. Baldwin were the men selected, each fired four shots, and each put three balls into the bird. None of the other companies succeeded in getting more than three shots into the board, while we had six.

“Thank you for the corn. I could also use a few good steel pens. As for Orlo Fullam, he had trouble with his feet so they detailed him to the ambulance corps as driver of the transport which carries the officers baggage. Our company has become so reduced by details and sickness that it cannot today muster sixty men present and fit for duty, though we have as yet lost but one by death,* while Co. "F" has lost 10, twice as many as all the rest of the regiment. H.G.D.” ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 8, 1863

 *Thomas W. Demary,  Pvt, Co. C, age 20, died  February 2, 1863.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Meanwhile at Wolf Run Shoals...


   “Camp near wolfs run Va. Feb. 7th 1863

“Dear Father Mother brothers and Sister   …   Stephen is tired & Harler is on guard so I will Scratch a few lines just to let you know that we are all alive and all of dans boys are well. the sick ones are all doing well   Stephen saw the boys at the old camp last Sauterday   John and Fred had got so that they were out doors some, & the rest were doing well   all except C Cady & F Shedd. Cady has been Sick about a month but he has not got the measels   he has got a very bad cough   is so that he sets up some. Shedd had got the measels and they were about at their height when Stephen was there and they though that he was better that morning that he was there. Steve thinks that the most of the boys will be along the last of this week or the forpart of next   I mean those that are at the old camp.

“you wished to know how far we were from Burks Station   that is more than I know I will tell you the rout that we took as near as I can. you will recollect that the road from our old camp to fairfax Station is due South   when we got to the Station we crossed the railroad and passed to the left of that spring there in the mud puddle and to the right of the encampment where that cavalry was or to the right of the hill where Slocums troops were and kept on in that direction for six miles after leaving the Station. So you will see that we are about ten miles from our old camp and we are as near South from fairfax as you can put your finger   Burks Station you know more about than we do for you have been there and we have not but I should judge that we were not as near that place as when we were at …

“If you can get an army map you will find wolf run and Occoquan river laid down and our camp is about one half mile east of where wolf run emptys into the Occoquan & about two miles from union mills (east of them)

Wilber is so that he sets up most of the time but he has been pretty sick .  Give my best respects to all who may enquire & please write as soon as convenient   J H Hammond” Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt, Letter No. 26
G.G. Benedict
Co. C. 12th Regt.


"Camp Near Wolf Run Shoals, Va.,February 7, 1863.

"Near us, several hundred feet below the level of our camps, runs the Occoquan river, a muddy stream about as large as the Winooski. Across it, on the heights beyond, are earthworks thrown up by Beauregard's soldiers last winter, now untenanted.

"Our camp is on a knoll from which the men have cleared the pine trees. It is much narrower in its limits than our former fine camp near Fairfax, and it is less attractive in almost every particular.

"The first battalion drill since the regiment left Camp Fairfax, came off to-day. The men have had all they could do in digging rifle pits, picket duty, constructing corduroy roads,--of which they had made miles between this and Fairfax Station,--and the labor of clearing and making camp; and between rain and snow and mud have had the roughest time they have as yet known. Their spirits are good, however...
~ G.G. Benedict, Lieut.., Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of February 7, 1863 in Army Life in Virginia.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Target practice; Sounds in the night.


"Fairfax Station Feb 6th 1863

E.D.Keyes
Capt. Co. H
"Dear Father
        "Having a few leisure moments this forenoon, I take the pen to improve them by writing you to inform you that I am well and enjoying myself finely. I take it you are well as I hear nothing to the contrary.  I have expected a letter from you for a long time but dont appear to come. I make due allowance for I know you are always busy and seldom write to anybody unless on business.  I have written to Lorette most every day since I got able to and have not received but one letter for over a fortnight.  Something about the mail is not right I think for I know she has written.  Rumors are that the mail was broken open at Alexandria the other day.  I presume you do not get all the letters that I write you .  


"I have got entirely over the measles and have been on duty 4 days.  I got along with them nicely but I thought it pretty hard for 2 or 3 days when sickest.  There has been over 100 cases of measles but few have died.  Not a man of my Co has died since we left Vermont. This is about the only Co but what has lost one or more. One Co has lost 10, Co F. of Windham County. 

"I have been Capt. of this Co since Dec 31st.  I had a pretty hard time at first straightening out things to my liking which were all in a hub but just as our Capt. used to do every thing.  I have got two good Lieuts to help me now and things go on very easily.  One is acting Adjutant* and I fear I am going to lose him as there is one to be appointed soon.  

"There has been lots of promotions and resignations mostly on account of fear to go before the Military Board of Examination to see if they were qualified to hold their respective positions.  But few ever [come] back that go before the Board so most of them resign with out going.  But few are sent only those that are not wanted here.  

"I have a large tent for myself and one for the 2 Lieuts. We do not live separately however but put the tents up together and and make our site larger.  We have two bunks one above the other : long and wide enough for two made just like two sinks.  The sides are hewed out of logs and the bottom covered with boards on which we lay with simply one army blanket under us.  It isn't always we get so good a bed as this.  I rest nicely every night.  At first my hip bones were about 8 inches longer in the morning then when I went to bed. That is they felt as though were.  

"We live as well as I care to while we remain in camp where we are now.  My waiter goes to Alexandria once a week and buys what ever we want.  We have no pies nor fine fixings nor do I care for any.  We have got used to going without and do not think of them.  My waiter had a box come from Vermont with some pies in which tasted awful good I tell you.  We can not buy good pies.  I dont believe there is a decent one in Va.  

"Suppose you keep all your colts yet.  I hope you never will sell any to go into the army.  They work them all day in many cases without a thing to eat and at night tie them to a hut or post there to stand all night in the cold and if it rains it makes no difference.  I wake up very often in the night and hear them making dreadful pitiful sounds and whinneys.  

"It has rained or snowed most of the time for a week past.  We have had a foot of snow and I guess more.  Yesterday morn and night before last was terrible cold.  Cold as Vermont.

"Come! come in and have some dinner with me.  It is all ready. We have ham & eggs enough for all. It is no use to ask you for you never eat away from home. Never mind we have ham & eggs for 3 of us.  I guess we are good for them.  Give my love to Mrs. Fay ...Albert Herrick is sick with measles.  Elmer"
  E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 6, 1863

"February 6. Our target practice is getting to be an interesting exercise. Col. Nichols, wishing to know which company possessed the greatest ability in marksmanship, ordered the battalion out, each man with forty rounds of cartridges, and on testing their ability, the honor was conferred upon Company B. Sixty round are being used daily for this practice."  J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 79 (1864)



*Harland Orlando Peabody, Andover, age 23, promoted 1st Lieut. Co. H, then Adjutant. "Our 2nd Lt. Peabody has been promoted to 1st Lt.,...The boys all... like Peabody first rate."  ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 15, 1863

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4, 1863. Sending money home.


Lt. Col. Charles Cummings
"Fairfax Court House, Feb 4th, 1863

"The Colonel and I have just returned from Washington where we went Monday afternoon. Having got paid some money I though I would spend some of it - so I purchased a blouse, pair of boots, saddle cloth, belt, and cravat, costing me nearly $40, including expenses.

"Everything is dear any where but especially so at sutlers. We pay nearly $2.00 per bushel for potatoes, 40 cents for butter and other things except what we can purchase at the quartermaster at government prices in proportion.

"As I have been unremitting in my attentions to you I will amend by enclosing a check for $100. I understand from Major Halsey that early in March he will pay us for four months which will give me the means to send you a good lump. Unless some accident occurs I shall not have to buy any more clothing for several months if at all except possibly another pair of boots.

"It is cold out here. The snow is three fourth gone and now the ground is frozen quite hard. It has scarcely thawed today. But I prefer this weather to the wet, muddy, cloudy, foggy air of the last few weeks. I feel quite well and am in good condition.

"I must attend the dress parade for which the call has sounded, get my lesson and hear a recitation this evening. Doing all this I can’t write much more and get this into the mail tonight, and I am anxious that you ...receive this remittance as soon as possible.
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 19, February 4,, 1863. VHS.


"February 4. Target practice is our main drill at present."  J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 78 (1864)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3, 1863. Money and Measles.

"Fairfax Station - February 3, 1863

"Dear Parents,


"I presume that you will have learned before this reaches you that I have had what you most feared the measles. When I last wrote you I told you that I had been unwell for several days and that the surgeon said that l was billious. Mistaken man! The next morning as expected I was sick as a dog but I got along nicely and now am able to sit up all day and have been out in the street today and mean to go again if nothing happens. In short, I am getting along nicely though I do not intend to go on duty for some time. The weather today is clear and pleasant though quite cold. The measles are having a pretty general promenade through Camp.



"You should have been in camp the day after we were paid off. Everybody was rich and almost everybody was trying to trade watches. Uncle Joseph has just been here. Mr. Balcom is in camp today and is going to take home some of the boys' money for them. I gave Uncle J. $30.00 which he is going to put with his and hand to Mr. Balcom all to be paid to you. Uncle proposed this as Aunt M. is at Plymouth I suppose, and he thought it would be more convenient for you to get it for her. Perhaps you may think that I have sent myself short but it is not so. I have about $12 left and if we get home in June that will be plenty enough to last, even if we are not paid off again."   ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of February 3, 1863


"Feb. 3,1863. Last night was the coldest night I have seen in Virginia. ... we had a Vermont winter until to-day, which is quite pleasant. Things are going on quite quiet for an army like ours, and it is my opinion that if they would reduce the pay of an officer down to that of a private this war would have been ended long ago. I happened to hear an officer say to-day that he did not care how long it lasted if they would continue to pay him $175. 00 per month, as they had done for the last year or more, and it is the mind of most every officer in the army. ..."  Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 1863. "Headquarters [is] five miles distant."

"February 2.  Our camp is again getting monotonous. The regiments of this brigade area at present situated as follows: The 12th and 13th are at Wolf Run Shoals, five miles from here; the 15th and 16th are encamped near the 14th, the headquarters of the brigade being at the Court House, five miles distant."  J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 77-78 (1864)



Samuel Peter Heintzelman
1805-1880
On the 2d of February the troops on the defenses of the capital were organized into the Twenty second Army Corps, under command of Major-General Heintzleman, and to this command the brigade was attached, still forming, however, a part of Casey's division. ~"THE SIXTEENTH REGIMENT—(NINE MONTHS)" in Lewis Cass Aldrich, Frank R. Holmes, History of Windsor County, Vermont  128-30 (1891)


After his corps took a severe beating during the Second Manassas campaign Heintzelman was relieved of his corps command in October 1862 and “kicked upstairs” to command the Military District of Washington where he remained for the rest of the war.