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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thursday, April 30, 1863. Mustered for pay. A promotion.

"April 30. The camp was again alarmed last night. About ten o'clock, firing was heard on the picket line, and soon the long roll-call was beaten, calling the men to arms. But a short time elapsed before the regiment was in line, ready for the expected attack, but none was made, however." ~ John  C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 116 (1864)

"Camp Near Wolf Run, Va. Aprl. 30th
"Dear Parents, Brothers & Sister. 

"It is with pleasure that I seat myself this evening to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all alive. ...

"Well to day has been fast I suppose or at least there was a proclamation by the president of the U.S. to that effect. But I believe that it has been the hardest days work that we have done for several weeks for there has been inspection, muster for pay & five hours work a clearing up land for the rebs or rebel Sympathizers then a company drill of an hour & a half & to wind up with there was Dress parade.

"As it is half past nine & as I have got to make our a detail of eleven men for picket & three for guard for tomorrow, I will draw to a close until morning & then I will try & finish it, if I can get time before the mail goes out." Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 38

"Thursday 30th. Walked to Camp this A.M. to be mustered for pay. Had a good visit & returned after getting my mail at 6 P.M. Policing up the Camp very generally. Think they are preparing for a move. Finis to my sick month, April." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 111, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"April 30. Mustered."  ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"31st. Four contrabands arrived to-day for Alexandria. Among them a nice young white lady from Warrynton. Mustered for pay." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

" Alvin H. Henry was reduced from First Sergeant to Second and
James B. Scully promoted from Second Sergeant to First Sergeant, April 30th, a strange coincident." Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 153 (1910)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wednesday, April 29, 1863. "The owners are now prisoners and the owned are free."

"April 29. Five hours drill per day, so that we cannot complain of a lack of exercise. Gen. Stannard is now our Brigadier, with headquarters at Union Mills"  ~ John  C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 115 (1864)

"April 29. We receive four months' pay." ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"Union Mills, VA 
"April 29th, 1863

"My Dear Wife,

"While in Washington, Monday morning. I wrote you a hasty line, enclosing a check on NY for $300, which you have doubtless received before this. I returned to my regiment at 10 o’clock the same morning, and am now on duty in the same. ...

"I know nothing of our movements or intentions. Troops are moving around us daily.  Hooker’s army is moving. I judge to Rappahannock station. 

"Our regiment went out there last week to protect the workmen repairing the railroad so that the cars now run 25 miles beyond our picket lines to the above place. The day our men were out there Gen. Stoneman with his cavalry Division of 18,000 men arrived - so they are in front of us with nothing but guerrillas between. 

"We now send men down ten or twelve miles on the railroad daily.

"This morning ten rebel prisoners and 50 contrabands were sent in from that direction,  
some of the former owning some of the latter. But the Emancipation has so fixed things that the owners are now prisoners and the owned are free. These blacks do not seem to very much regret this changed state of relations. 

"The men of the 15th and 16th Regiments have sent home to Vermont from $50,000 to  
$60,000 of their 4 months pay - the 16th full $30,000 How many mothers hearts will be made  glad and children’s mouths fed. Men who received $52 send home from $40 to $50 but there they do not have to buy their rations. This fact speaks well for the regiment. 

... "Give my love to mother and kiss our little darlings for their absent papa.

"Your loving husband - Charles" 
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters April 29, 1863. VHS.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28, 1863. Some sort of movement in progress.

"Tuesday 28th.  We are living pretty well now. Our bill of fare consists, in general, of Bacon, Fresh fish, corn-bread & biscuit, Molasses, & Coffee. Went to Camp this A.M. on horseback, about 9 o'clock. Saw the boys & got my pay for 4 mo's, $52.00 of the Capt. Had a nice visit & came back in rain about 3 P.M. Of course, after getting my pay, I did not visit the sutler, nor nothing of the kind."  ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 111, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Union Mills, Virginia, April 28th, 1863
"Dear Parents,

"You see that we still hold Union Mills, and have not taken up a permanent abode on the Rappahannock shore, though we are just now having a little more picket duty to do than we have had before. Our new Division General, Abercrombie, is mighty strict. He has ordered out all the fires on the picket line, made some new regulations about passes, etc. The boys feel rather aggrieved about the fires, and were so mad yesterday morning they set fire to the woods. 

"I was kept off picket this morning to make out the muster rolls, as we all have to be mustered for pay again the last day of this month. The paymaster has just been around with four months' pay ($52). Many of the boys are sending home a considerable portion of it. I am going to send $50 in the shape of a check from the paymaster, which I presume you can draw at any bank, as well as you could the widow's order that you dealt with last year. 

"There seems to be some sort of movement in progress down in front of us this morning. Artillery, cavalry, and a lot of mules have been sent down on the railroad this morning, and 'tis said that there was a skirmish down on the Rapahannock this morning, and that the first trains brought up some wounded soldiers, though I did not see them.

I imagine that if the weather holds good for a week, we will hear of awful fighting on the Rapahannock, and I feel confident of success, for they are taking unwearied pains to make it a sure thing and of all the forces of cavalry and light artillery that they have on the river 30,000 cavalry on the river around the railroad, and Warrenton, besides the artillery and what troops have gone down on the railroad last night and today*: all these exclusive of the troops that Hooker has with him in front of Fredricksburg. 

"We had some new non commissioned officers made last night, and concluded that the newly promoted men had better wet their stripes, so the company fell in to two ranks and marched down to the sutler's, the non coms heading the delegation, and there we devoured a half barrel of apples at their expense, the Adjutant and commissioned officers sharing with us. Then we marched back to our company ground, dispensed a few good lusty cheers and had a good time generally for the remainder of the evening. 

"We are now expecting to get back about the first of June. Have just got my check from the paymaster, which I enclose, but do not have time to write more. H.G. Day"
 ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 28, 1863

* At 10:30 pm, Howard’s XI Corps, 14,000-strong, crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford as part of Hooker's plan to flank Lee at Fredericksburg. 

Meanwhile (?) John C. Williams of Danby muses on why we fight.

"April 28. We were paid off yesterday -- received four months' pay.

"Recent circumstances indicate that the campaign is about to open, and much confidence is felt in Hooker, and that victory awaits our arms. This is to be an eventful week, and we are waiting very anxiously to know the result of the next movement. We are confident that success will inevitably be secured to our arms. The glorious old Stars and Stripes will yet float over every inch of soil where rebeldom lifts its accursed head, and where thrice accursed traitors trample it beneath their feet. 

"This is a cause which is worthy to be engaged in, one in which all mankind are interested. The preservation of this Union is one of the noblest things to fight for. Not anywhere in the annals of the past ages do we find a government founded upon such liberal principles. America! glorious America! long may she live to be an asylum for the oppressed of all nations, where men of all color can enjoy equal rights and privileges, and freedom the inalienable right of man; a country where the people do not bow to kings or tyrants, but in whose hands alone rests the power to govern, and where people can worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience; where education is unrestrained, and civilization unchecked.

"I blush to mention that one foul blot upon our country's fair escutcheon, which has been allowed to exist too long in one part of the land — I mean "that sum of all villainies," that evil system, which holds a part of the human race in bondage, which has impoverished the land, and reduced the people to the lowest state of misery and degradation, and has at last culminated in this wicked rebellion. But if slavery dies with this war, then shall we be well paid for the sacrifices that are now being made, and the glorious results which will bless millions yet unborn." ~ John  C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 113-  115 (1864)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27,1863. 4 months pay; Company H guarding the RR

"Washington, DC April 27th, 1863
"My Dearest Wife,

"Instead of being at the “front” I am in the rear. Our court martial adjourned for three or four days and as then was not much going on in the regiment, I came to the city. Yesterday I was at the Metropolitan with Capt. and Mrs. Hunt. I go back to the regiment this morning.

"Enclosed pleased find check for $300 which with your name on the back in fall as it is on the face, will get you the money at either bank in Brattleboro.
"My health is splendid. In a few days will write more at length. I write on a best case now. "Love to mother and children - Truly yours loving husband - Charles" ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters April 19, 1863. VHS.

"Monday 27th. Slept on a feather bed last night & undressed for the first time since leaving Brattleboro. Feel refreshed, & rested from my walk. It is very quiet here & my time is mostly spent between the Cooper's shop & the house, going backwards & forwards, as the spirit moves. The Reg't was paid 4 months pay to-day by Major Robinson." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 110, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"April 27. Battalion drill in the morning. At the close, the regiment is formed into a square; Gen. Stannard is introduced, and makes a short speech; the soldiers give him three loud and hearty cheers; then the officers are called forward, and introduced personally to him by Col. Randall,-the General shaking each by the hand warmly."~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

"April 27. The Paymaster is again in our camp, laden with "green backs" to pay us off. The weather is still fine."  ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 113 (1864)

"Camp at Union Mills Va.
"Our Regt is a little broken up just at present, 3 Co’s (F. G. & H.) being out on the R.R. between here & Warrenton, for four days, & about as many more on picket, for 24 hours.

"I think before long some of our Regt will be sent down on the R.R. to encamp. I think that would be the best way. I wish they would send ours, for all the way from Manassas Junction to Warrenton it is the most beautiful country I ever saw.

"I noticed when we went out, a man ploughing about a mile from the R.R. near Warrenton, & in a field near by, a large flock of sheep; it looked quite like civilization again. Some how he had managed to stick to his place in the midst of the war.

"I think he must have been astonished to see the long train of cars coming up the road that day, covered all over with blue soldiers, after so many months of quiet." Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, April 27, 1863 (uvm)


Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 1863. General Stannard reviews the 13th.

On Sunday April 26th, about nine o'clock. General George J. Stannard made his first official visit to our regiment.~ Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 153 (1910)

"Sunday morning. I am on guard today. I have just come in from guard mounting so I am out of the review and inspection that is coming off today. Gen. Stannard, our Brigadier, is going to be here although he has not got along yet. 

"The fruit trees here are in full blossom. The grass has started so that cattle can get a good living. There are plenty of cows here but no sheep. They have all played out, as the boys say. 

"I wish you would get me a fishline and send me and I will make it all right, if you will write that you have to pay for it. Get the stoutest one that you can, for here are some big fish here. I have seen some that weight three pounds and they are a little too much for any line that we can get here. 

"Lieutenant Palmer is on duty again. The trouble that he and the Captain did not amount too much, only for a few days. He has got his sword and is all right again. I can not think of anything more to write as the drums are beating for review. I have not got to go out but I can’t write in such a noise and it is almost time to go on guard. ..."James Willson, 13th Regt., pvt, Co. B. , Letter #41 (VHS)

"April 26. Review. In the morning, hair is cut, whiskers trimmed, boots made to shine a little brighter; in fine, the "finishing touch" is put on to everything, as our General is present, for the first time. The review passes off finely and agreeably to all." ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

This entry ends a two-week gap in Palmer's journal.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25, 1863. Inspection tomorrow.

"Saturday 25th. Clear but windy. Storm seems to be over. General cleaning up of our shanty this morning in anticipation of an inspection to-morrow." Diary of Horace Barlow, 109, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"25th. Cold and windy. Pitched tent." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 1863. Gen. Stannard in command.

"24th. Rained hard all day. Moved head quarters back to Union Mills. Gen. Stannard in command. Was all day going six miles. Got six miles in the mud and had to pull them out with horses." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"April 24. Plenty of drilling at present -- think we shall be well prepared for a march when the order comes. ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 113 (1864).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 1863. "The Nine Month Men"

Insults from civilians and the press back in the North were especially stinging. Nine-month men were upset by attitudes like that expressed by The New York Tribune, which called them “beauties who enlisted for the bounties, and took into the service neither health, patriotism, nor honesty.” W. Hockox,  Nine Months of Hell

"Union Mills, Virginia April 23, 1863

"Dear Parents,

"Having Just returned from a pleasure trip down to the Rappahannock, I propose to devote a part of this rainy forenoon writing to you. ...

"One thing that happened at Manassas I must not omit to mention. While we were resting there, Matt Stewart and another started off in pursuit of adventure, and came across a drove of Virginia pigs, whereupon Matt grabbed one that would weigh 60 or 70 pounds, by the ears, and kept the old sole away as best he could, while the other one stuck him with his bayonet. Matt came back and reported just as we were ready to start on again, and one took his gun and another his blanket, he grabbed his rubber and pressed on ahead until he got to where his pig lay, and then picked him up and put him in his rubber, slung him on his back and brought him off. But he was soon relieved of his load by Bingham, who rode one of the officers' horses. I had a mouthful or two of said pig, and can testify that he tasted very much like veal....

"The Vermont Journal of the 18th has just come to hand. One piece in it entitled "The Nine Month Men" has been read by many of the boys, and pronounced by all an unmitigated lie. Some of them wish that they could see the man that wrote the piece--you may guess for what. It is true that they are in no hurry to turn their backs on Rebeldom until their time is out, and that the men of this brigade firmly and conscientiously believe to be in nine months from the date of organization, and they are not men that like to be fooled or tampered with, whether it be by P.T. Washburn and Fred Holbrook, or by our respected Uncle Samuel. Very many of them and half the entire brigade, would enlist again within thirty days after they were discharged if they were only discharged within a reasonable time after they consider their time honestly and fairly out, but say they, if they keep us until the twenty third of July, Uncle Sam may run his machine just as he can for all we care.

"Not that they care for the extra two months time, for they consider themselves good for that, but they enlisted, believing their time to be out in nine months, and the idea of being fooled and hocussed by General P. T. Washburn or any other general does not sit gracefully upon their minds, and some few of them go so far as to declare that they will not do a day's duty after they call their time out, and the great majority of them say that they may have fooled us once, but never can again, for, say they, if they can hold us two months and then muster us in and keep us for the full time of our enlistment, they can hold us twenty years and then do the same. This brigade is ready to do its duty, whatever that may be, but "play not with edge tools all ye State authorities", for if our bayonets do not count in the coming struggle, our votes certainly will count in the Fall elections, and against you too, I fear. H. G. Day" 
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 23, 1863

"Near Wolf Run, Va. Aprl 23d 1863

"Dear parents

"...One Oclock P.M. it has rained a perfect Shower all day & looks now as if it would continue to the rest of the day if not all night ... 
The number of men present for duty this morning was fifty one. ...    

"There is considerable talk here concerning our time. But a good many have come to the conclusion (since they saw the order from Hockeer relative reinlistments) that they have got to stay until the fourth of July.

"Two months ago I though that we should be at home in may or the fore part of June. But I have altered my mind.   But the boys that I tent with say that they are going home in may so you see we have some jolly times. they say that all that makes me say so is Because I want to be on the contrary side & I let them have it to suit themselfs so that we can have Something for an argument.  

"I think sometimes that I should like to be home to help you do Springs work. But if we are well it will not make much differance to me whether I go in may or july. it is I think just seven months come day after to morrow morning since we left home & we have all of us been blessed with good health or at least better than the Co. will average, a blessing which cannot be to highly prized in this buisness.(?) As to night is the night for Sundays mail I will dray to a close until evening.

"Half past seven PM ...General Stanard is a going to move to union mills to morrow & as Iras team has been turned over to the Brigade & is a Brigade team & belonging to headquarters, he has got to go with him. But I do not think that he will have so much to do as he would to stay here, as the cars run through there towards warrenton. he has been to the Station to day & he got wet and he feels rather hard up to night.

"...The boys that are well feel as good as horses & say that Uncle Sam may do what he is a mind to with them But that it will play out in about seventy one or two days more at the longest, which is but a short time

"I am glad that your bees are in good shape & I hope to be able to hive some of them but if I am not you will have to be careful & not get stung. by the way, Cook wants to know if you wintered that Swarm that stung Grandfather & him so. He thinks that he should liked to have had a chance to have smoked them a little. The report is at this time that we have got to move to union mills to morrow & if we do we shall know more about it, that is all." Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 37

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 1863. "We have seen something of the destruction caused by war..."

 "Now that Stoneman was still unable to cross
  Hooker’s plan  had to be changed."
(Civil War Daily Gazette) 
"22nd. Cold and windy. More rain and mud."  Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"[The morning of April 22nd] we were all taken on board a train that was sent up on purpose for us, and went down some twenty miles beyond Manassas Junction, within three miles of the Rappahannock, found the road in good condition, and came back home again, having successfully accomplished what we suppose to be the object of our expedition, viz. to guard the trains and workmen while they were repairing the road so that Uncle Sam could transport supplies down this road to Stoneman's Cavalry. 

"They are now operating rather secretly in the vicinity of Warrenton, with a small force of some thirty or forty thousand men, and all the available light artillery of Hooker's army. I never saw a quarter so much cavalry before, and yet we saw only a small part of the whole force. I do not know what the idea is in having all Hooker's cavalry and light artillery up there, unless they intend to dash across the river and take the enemy in the rear while he takes them in front. 

"To see the train of pack mules that carried the baggage of the cavalry was quite a novel sight. There would be one mule with a lot of camp kettles, frying pans, and other camp equipage packed upon him, and another with a couple of boxes of hard tack slung across his back, etc.

"...At Manassas, which must have been a beautiful place before the war broke out, there is not a single house left standing. But the plain is there, still lovely still beautiful, even in ruin. Here Pope's supply trains were burned last summer, and the ruins of miles of cars still ornament the track. Here was destroyed clothing, hospital, officers, sutlers' and all other kinds of stores that you might mention, to the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars- if not millions. The old Rebel fortifications are still there, though somewhat decayed. 

"At Bristow Station, the next one beyond the Junction, there was a mile or two more of cars burned up and destroyed. The country down the railroad from Catlett's, down about Warrenton Junction and down to Bealton Station which was the extent of our journey, is superb, - almost level, and as green as can be. The peach trees are all in blossom here, and if I had a sprig handy, I would send it along." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 23, 1863

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21,1863. Over the new bridge by rail to Bristoe Station

Bridge built by soldiers.
Orange & Alexandria RR
(Matthew Bradey)

“[On Wednesday, April 15, 1863] a severe and protracted rainstorm came on which so raised the streams and Bull Run in particular, as to carry off the bridge over that stream at [Union Mills]- only the iron rails and a few pieces being left - and the river was totally unfordable."~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters  April 19, 1863. VHS. 

The Photographic History of the Civil War: Forts and artillery
 By Robert Sampson Lanier

Mathew Brady
Military bridge, Haupt Truss, Bull Run, Va., April 1863
(US National Archives)
On the 21st the Sixteenth regiment was sent out to guard the construction train which reopened the road; and was the first infantry to pass over the road after the close of Pope's campaign. ~ 2 George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War 432 (Burlington Vt 1888)
"[W]e got orders to be ready to march in twenty minutes (before we had fairly finished breakfast), but were not required to go until 9 o'clock. Marched down to the Station and five companies were put upon the cars and the rest were obliged to foot it, our company not being among the lucky ones. 

"We marched to Manassas Junction (six miles), without halting, and then stopped for a couple of hours or so, and "struck our teeth against much hardtack", then started on, leaving Co. "B", and marched about nine miles further, when we met the train returning with those of our regiment who had gone on before. 

"They had been only two miles or so further than we went, and had repaired the bridge over the Broad Run just beyond Bristow Station that they expected to find demolished, but it was very good. They only had to lay a new track across it, and do some slight repairing to make it passable again. 

"We came back to the Junction, and camped for the night; meanwhile the pickets had been sent on after us, after they all had got a bit rested. We met them about eleven miles out from camp, took them on board with us and all rode back, though we were somewhat crowded." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 23, 1863

"Tuesday 21st. ... Gen Stannard came to-day. Col. Blunt had Regt' on Battalion drill this P.M." Diary of Horace Barlow, 108, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20, 1863. Awaiting General Stannard.

"20th. Rained quite hard this morning. Gen. Stannard did not arrive to-day. Col. Blunt has moved his quarters to his regiment." . ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

 "Monday 20th. Gaining slowly, but still gaining. C.O.F.* & H.G.C.** came in this morning in a shower. It was reported that Brig-Gen Stannard would arrive to-day to take command of this Brigade, but he has not arrived. Everything quiet." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 108, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

*   Charles O. French, Burlington, age 23, Corporal, Co. C, 12th Regt. 
** Henry Guy Catlin, Burlington, age 19, Corporal, Co. C, 12th Regt. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sunday, April 19, 1863

Lt. Col. Charles Cummings,
 Sixteenth Regiment,

"April 19. Seven days' rations are still on hand, ready for a move. ..." ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 110 (1864).

"19th. Very warm and breezy. Gen. Stannard is to take command of this brigade Monday. It is reported that he is a very fine man." Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"Camp at Union Mills Virginia 
"Sunday, April 19, 1863 

"Dear Sister. I recd a letter from you to day so will answer this evening tho' I have nothing in particular to write only that we are still at our old Camp and likely to remain here for the present. It seems from what we can learn that at the time we expected to move, they intended to send us to Suffolk Va. but finally concluded to take Regts from nearer Washington. We have got our tents back and are living again. ..." Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, April 19, 1863, in A War of the People: Vermont Civil War Letters , Jeffrey D. Marshall, ed., pp. 149-159.

"Camp (Peter T.) Washburn, Va. Apr. 19th, 1863

"My health would be tiptop were it not for a little cold that I took out on picket last Wednsday, which was as Stormy a day as you ever saw. Bull run, which is about the same size of black river near Downers, rose from twelve to fifteen feet in twenty four hours. So you can imagine whether it stormed or not. ..." 
Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 36

“Camp Near Union Mills, VA
“April 19th, 1863
“My Dear Wife,

“I have not received a letter from you since yours of the 9th inst. came to hand. But the day is so magnificently delightful and as it is Sunday, I have nothing of importance on hand to demand immediate attention. I will spend my time in the agreeable duty of writing to you.  

“You will readily discover that our forward movement has not been made yet. Why, I do not know. Reasons are not vouched in military orders. …

“During the past week, just as our boys had got under their shelter tents a severe and protracted rainstorm came on which so raised the streams and Bull Run in particular, as to carry off the bridge over that stream at this place - only the iron rails and a few pieces being left - and the river was totally unfordable. 

The Photographic History of the Civil War: Forts and artillery
 By Robert Sampson Lanier
'If we move now we cannot make any progress until the bridge is rebuilt, for there will be no mode of getting along supplies until the railroad is in repair.

“But an early movement from here does not seem probable, and yet we may receive marching orders without a moment’s notice. We keep ourselves constantly supplied with seven days rations and over 100 rounds of ammunition.  

“We are no longer in Casey’s Division. Last week our division of 3 brigades were placed under Brig. Gen. J. J. Abercombie an old West Pointer over sixty years of age, who is coming out to Centerville this week to establish his headquarters. Gen. Casey still remains in Washington. He is the author of our present tactics and is at work on tactics for the Negro regiments.

“Gen. George J. Stannard has at last been assigned to the 2nd Brigade and will arrive and assume command tomorrow. This is good news. We have been sadly in want of a General since Col. Blunt has been in command. The Colonel is not up to Veazey nor Proctor by a long chalk.

“The truth is that the 16th has the best Colonel in the Brigade, and the 16th Regiment can beat any other regiment in the brigade or in this section out of sight at any evolution and in any movement. This is conceded by Col. Blunt and Gen. Hayes of the 3rd Brigade.”  

"All the past week I have been at Centerville on the court martial, and it will take up nearly another week to finish the trial of all the prisoners now on the docket - and then may be other cases sent in. No one in this or the 15th Regiments has been brought before court martial nor is then a case before the Court at Centerville from this brigade. Our boys got disciplined in camp - all that is necessary.  

"My health is just as good as it can be. I have not felt so tough and hardy for many years. You would be surprised to see me eat and then I can lay down anywhere and sleep soundly on the floor, ground, or in any place.”  

Our term of enlistment is fast drawing to a close. By the time you receive this letter it will have two thirds expired and the pleasantest season and pact of the campaign is yet to come.

"Yours of the 15th was received a few moments since. I am glad to know that you are all well. And getting along well. I do not know what to do about the garden. It will not do to let it run up towards nor will it pay to put so much labor into it as I have done heretofore. Perhaps some way can be devised to get us out of the difficulty.

"The season is quite late out here. Peach trees are now in bloom and the crocus and daffodil and such like are in their prime. … I am sitting in my tent with the front down to keep out the sun with a neck scarf my shirtsleeves and sweating at that. But it does feel like some warm morning at home in May when I have been at work in the garden. The Blue Ridge in the distance which I can see for many miles is covered with snow yet.”

 …Your Loving husband - Charles.” ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters  April 19, 1863. VHS.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Saturday, April 18, 1863. Still in readiness to march.

"Saturday 18th. Feel well after my hearty supper. As I asked the Dr. yesterday, if I could eat griddle cakes & he said "yes, but not a dozen", I eat 2 large ones this morn for breakfast. My appetite is enormous & my only labor, is, to keep from eating too-much. Still I seem to gain scarcely at all in strength perhaps on account of the climate & perhaps because we have no meat, & I don't eat the fat, boiled pork. But to-night we draw soft bread & fresh beef, so we shall live better." Diary of Horace Barlow, 107, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"April 18. No move yet, and mere conjecture where we shall go when we do move. Casey's whole division has been transferred to the field. Our tents have all been turned over, and everything is now in readiness to march, but we may stay here some time yet." ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp109-10 (1864).

14th Regiment