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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 1863. Digging and scouting.

"Fairfax Station, Va. March 13, 1863

"Dear Parents: ... Our boys are digging rifle pits now, have been at it for several days. I dug for three days and today am detailed to act as supernumerary, which is simply to attend guard mounting and to go on the usual drills tomorrow. I will have to go on guard. The three regiments stationed here have dug several miles of rifle pits, and are still digging ..

"Co. B. went out on a scout the other night and captured four Rebs. sesesh citizens, I suppose. They had a pretty severe tramp, from 16 to 18 miles, I believe. The prisoners were taken over to Co. Blunt's headquarters, and what was done with them then I do not know. One of our company, Mike Sullivan, got hurt yesterday while out on fatigue when a tree fell on him. He is better today, but he did some extensive swearing, that is, when he was able to talk again....***

"I am the only one left in the tent today, all the rest being out on the pits. The rumor is that we are to be paid off next week, for four months instead of two. I do not know whether it will prove true or not, and do not much care, as I have plenty of money for the present.

"Would you believe it? Crane has got his discharge on account of ill health, though some say it was because the colonel had got sick of him as cook. There was another one discharged at the same time that really needed a discharge: Dodge of Andover**, and I am heartily glad he got it. We have got a new orderly at last in the person of Matt Clark. I think the boys will like him very well. ...

"There was a scouting party sent out from our regiment this afternoon. They found a few old tents, a musket, etc. I do not know exactly what, and 'tis said that there is another party going out tonight, to try and get a Reb. Very many of the citizens about here are believed to be peaceable enough in the daytime, and are supposed to act as guerrillas at night, and the officers seem to be taking measures to catch the rascals.

"... I believe that the health of the company is as good as it has been at any time since they commenced having measles. Ezra Weston* is perhaps the sickest of any of the Plymouth boys, but he is a little better today...." 
 ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of March 11, 1863 

* Ezra M.Weston, 20, of Plymouth, Pvt, Co. C, 16th Vt. Regt., died April 6, 1863. The Sixteenth suffered only three deaths in March:

  1. Metcalf, Edgar B.,             Corp., Co. H,            (1834-3/12/63)
  2. Chamberlin, Henry R.,       Pvt, Co. G,                (1835-3/17/63)
  3. Smith, Stillman B.,            Pvt.  Co. A,               (1838- 3/27/63)

** Nathaniel P.Dodge (1838-1896), 29 ,Andover, Pvt, Co. C, 16th Vt. Regt., discharged / disabled March 17 1863 3/17/63
***Michael Sullivan was present when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, April 9, 1865.

"March 13. Froze very hard last night, which makes it very comfortable under foot. The 16th Regiment are making a charge with all the noise that can be made by screeching. The 15th  are pouring volleys of blanks out into their ranks, which makes quite a battle-field of it. If it was only a reality the boys would be satisfied. They fairly itch for a fight. Rumors have it Gen. Stannard... is come here to take command of this Brigade. 

"Received a dispatch that the Rebs have crossed the Rappahannock in force, mostly cavalry This report has created quite an excitement in camp. The Colonel has 600 men at work digging rifle pits in front of their command." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment.

"March 13. You see soldiers out as in January, gloves and overcoats on, carrying wood for fires in their tents. ... At night the enemy, emboldened by their first success, make another raid on Fairfax, of about the same number as before. But instead of catching a General, they lose seventeen horses and the same number of men, (such is rumor,) who are sent to Washington. The headquarters of the brigade are now at the Station." ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

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