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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sunday, May 31, 1863. There is just excitement enough to keep us feeling good.

"The General's wife came to-day on the evening train. She is one of the boys, now I tell ye!" ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

E. D. Keyes,
Captain Co. H
Sixteenth Vermont
"Camp near Bristow Station Va.
"May 31st

"Dear Father:

Thinking that you might be anxious to hear a word from me I now seat myself to pen a few lines for you perusal. I am in the best of health and enjoying life finely. You see since I wrote you last we have changed our camp to this place distance about 10 miles from Union Mills and about 20 from the Rappahannock. 

"Two Companies are at Manassas Junct. 3 at this place and 3 at Catletts Station 6 miles beyond here all on the Alexandria & Orange R.R. Our business is to guard the road from guerrillas &c which are very plenty here- nearly all the citizens that remain are secessionist of the deepest dye. They work in their fields in the day time as honest as you please and nights the cut up all the deviltry they can with the Union boys. We boys all of us ache with vengeance & revenge and would like very much to clear them out and burn their buildings but this the Government prohibits. 

"Yesterday forenoon a train of 12 cars loaded with forage went up and when about a mile and a half from Catletts Station a citizen was noticed standing directly upon the track and he stood there until the engine got near when he jumped up taking the rails from the track with him thus running the engine off when they (the Rebs) commenced shelling the engine & train from a musket battery in the woods. They fired 5 or 6 shots and then put for the train which they fired, took what they could and skedaddled pretty lively you better guess. The whole train was burned with the exception of one car. There was a guard on the train but too small to do any good only 15 in number.

"Our Companies fell in pretty quick when we heard the firing but we were too far off to do any good. The Vt. Cavalry and some Michigan Cavalry was about 5 miles from there and immediately came and followed. Have not heard the final result yet --heard that they overtook them captured their guns killed about 20 and took as many men prisoners. Our loss was less. 

"This morning about half past three a ball went whizzing directly over our camp and the way we tumbled out of our bunks into line was a caution I tell you. We saw nothing, all was quiet then some think it came from the picket lines. We all enjoy this life first rate as there is just excitement enough to keep us feeling good. We may stay here a month and not see a Reb and we may be attacked within an hour.

"Our Co goes out on a scouting trip most every day where we get milk Butter Eggs and lots of stuff which is a rarity to us soldiers. We have been here almost a week and the weather has been beautiful, neither too hot nor too cold, just right. I suppose seven weeks more will see us home. We may start in six. Many have thought we should return in June but I guess the idea is given up now. I hope we shall stay until July, for we are having the pleasantest part of our campaign now. It is very dry now what was mud knee deep two months ago is now hard as stone almost. 

"I take it you are well at home as I hear nothing to the contrary. Suppose you are very busy now planting are you not. I want to see you all ever so much but I shall soon be there time passes very rapidly here the shortest 8 months I ever knew. If I live to get home I believe I shall try it again. I certainly would if it was not for Lorette. She doesn't want I should come again. I think those that stay at home and think of it have the worst of it. 

"Give my love to Mother (how odd the name) and tell her I want to see her ever & ever so much and some of her barley cakes too. Tell her Capt. Atchinson has been here. I got acquainted with him, stayed with me one night like to talked me to death. He seemed to know everybody and everybody's business. I liked him well enough. 

"Wallace is well. We boys took an old hand car and went way up the R.R. and tore down an old house and made us summer houses nice for soldiers or kings. I must close. 

"Good Bye. Elmer" ~ E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, 16th Regiment, Letter of May 31, 1863

"Sunday morning, May 31, 1863: Yesterday the Rebs attacked and burned a train two or three miles below us. They planted a gun on a knoll a little way from the road and when the train came along they poured the shells into them disabling the engine and burning the cars - 10 or 12 in number. There was no one killed, but a few hurt by jumping off the train. The guards are like sheep. They say they were from the 15th. 

"Our Cavalry took after the Rebs, caught them, captured two guns, took some 20 prisoners, and killed some 20 more as near as we can learn. A train has just gone up to repair the road, taking with them at least half the regiment as guards, -- always lock the stable after the horse is stolen, you know. The whole value of the train that was burned is estimated at $50,000. Whether Mosely's gang is chastised enough to pay the expense remains to be seen. Mosely is smart on his raid business but lately he has been getting some hard knocks from the 1st Vt., 1st Va. and 5th NY Cavalry. 

"Just before we left Union Mills we saw two of his men who assisted in capturing West and Ashley, themselves prisoners in the guard house. 

"By the way I saw a piece in the Journal which would lead one to think that the 12th had had a part in the late cavalry fight at Warrenton Junction. Such was not the case. The only men of the 12th that saw the Rebs that day were two or three whom they caught away from camp, and but for whom Mosely would have run slap against the 12th and most probably got cut up some. ... I must close and leave the rest until the next time. H. G. Day"   ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 30, 1863

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saturday, May 30, 1863. Mosby burns a supply train

"Dear Parents: When we are moving about the time flies away so rapidly that we can scarcely keep track of the rapidly flying weeks. Nine months ago yesterday - August 29th- we went to Ludlow and organized our company. Therefore according to law and order our time was out yesterday, but it seems we must stay a while longer. Well we are good for it. If we don't see any harder times than we have seen thus far. 

"Immediately after arriving here we went to work to get us some boards and build us some first class summer houses. Indeed we have got the best quarters now that we have ever had, considering the season of the year, though they would not be so good for winter use. The table that our cooks use for giving out rations etc. was once the counter to an old store, and there is one or two shanties built entirely of green window blinds and several composed of good panel doors, painted and grained, which makes them all the better for soldiers' use. 

"We do not expect to stay here more than a fortnight anyhow. We will then either go back to Union Mills or else got to Occoquan where the 13th now is. They say that 'tis a splendid country down there so that if we do have to march down we will get partly paid for our travel. The grass is up now about as high as it usually is in Vt. at the 20th of June or 1st of July, and the clover has been in blossom this long time.

"Give my thanks to Dr. Scott for a copy of the Bellows Falls Times sent to me, and tell little Charlie that the "drummers" are out now trying to learn to drum as well as he can. ... 

"Uncle Joe is at Catlett with his company. You will remember that Popes wagon Train was surprised and burned there last August by Stuarts Cavalry and many of his papers captured. Companies E, H, C, and D and F are here and B, I, and N, at Catlett, and A and G at Manassas Junction." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 30, 1863

While private Day is at Bristoe writing home, a unit of the 15th Vt. is detailed to guard a supply train carrying forage to Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock:
"On the 30th of May a supply train of ten cars loaded with forage for the cavalry at Rappahannock Station left Alexandria. At Union Mills it took on a train guard of twenty-five men, detailed from the Fifteenth regiment under command of Lieutenant Hartshorn of company E of that regiment. Chaplain Brastow of the Twelfth accompanied the train as a passenger.
 "In the neighborhood of Catlett's Station, Major Mosby, with 50 or 60 men, was lying in wait for the train. He had obtained from General Stuart a mountain howitzer to assist his operations against the railroad trains, and, proud as a boy with a new top, he took it to a favorable spot, put it in position behind a screen of bushes about a hundred yards from the track, removed a rail sufficiently to derail the train, and taking his men under cover, awaited the train. It approached at a good rate of speed, ran off from the track and came to a halt. Mosby's first shell crashed through a car.
"His second shot went through the boiler of the locomotive. The engineer, train-men and guard waited for no more; the latter fired a few shots, one of which killed one of Mosby's horses; and springing from the cars, made their escape into the woods near by. Mosby's men at once surrounded the train, pillaged a car loaded with sutlers' supplies, and setting fire to the hay in the rest, destroyed the train and started back for the mountains."
 ~ 2 George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War 436-37 (Burlington Vt 1888).
Back at Union Mills, Pvt. Barlow celebrates a birthday and at Occoquan Lt. Palmer experiences a peaceful night:

"Saturday May 30th 1863. My Birthday & the first one I have ever spent away from home. To-day completes my 21st year & brings me to my majority. Five weeks more, if my life is spared, & I hope to see Parents, friends & home. Tho' not especially tired or weary of my service, yet it is not a congenial one, by any means, & there is joy in the thought of home, sweet home. As we were all here, yesterday & I feared some one might be away to-day, I procured a few things in the eatable line, to answer for my birthday. Drills as usual to-day. Charles Thacher still quite sick. Cleaned my gun in P.M." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 123-4, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 30. On pickets. The night is really splendid. The blue bay of Occoquan, many feet below us, gives back the shining moon and stars, the air not uncomfortable hot, and just wind enough to stir the luxuriant foliage of oaks near our post. Then there is the noise of the river to the right of us, (here it empties itself into the bay,) dashing against huge rocks; of the whippoorwill, singing its own name, by turns, all night, and often imitated by the soldiers; and of yelping curs, and now and then, loud baying, barking blood-hounds, disturbed in their kennels."  ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Friday, May 29, 1863. Guarding the iron train.

Meanwhile, Mosby's men  assemble at
Greenwich, near Warrenton
(Civil War Daily Gazette)
"Friday 29th. Co. drill in A.M. At 8½ A.M. ordered to go down to Mannassas Junction as guard for iron train. Day pretty warm, but our job was an easy one. Back about 2 P.M. Went in swimming & in eve had dress parade. 

"Our company is assuming proportions that seem vast in comparison with the No. last Winter & Spring. All the sick are rapidly recovering & the health of the Reg't is very good. Chas Thacher quite unwell in evening." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 123, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 29. ...  After the drilling is over, towards evening, the wide, level space, in front of the camp, is crowded with soldiers. Many are playing ball. The most expert chooses up, and one is to keep tally; now they strip off coats, and sweating and eager as to the result, push on the lively game. Some are pitching quoits, all boisterous, joyous as school boys at home. It is now dark, and one street is lighted, not with golden chandeliers, but candles stuck in bayonets, and these hanging in mimic shade trees. One is playing on the fiddle, another on the banjo, for the many to 'chase the glowing hour with flying feet.'" ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864) 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thursday, May 28, 1863. "They know plainly what freedom means."

Two Shoulder bars, which belonged to Capt. Robert B. Arms, Co. B 16th Vermont
(Gettysburg College Digital Collections)
"May 28. No change in the condition of affairs in our brigade for the past few days. Contrabands are daily arriving at this point, and most of them are very intelligent. They know plainly what freedom means, and in order to secure it are taking leg-bail for the Union lines." ~ John C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 124 (1864)

"Thursday 28th. Battalion drill in A.M. & Co. drill in P.M. & dress parade; about 5 hours drill in all. Hot & uncomfortable. Drilling all the rage, now, & I do not doubt we shall get enough of it, for our own pleasure." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 123, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wednesday, May 27, 1863. The 16th moves to guard the railroad

May 27 the regiment was ordered to guard the railroad, and companies A and G, in command of Captain Eaton, were stationed at Manassas Junction, and companies C, D, E and F, [and H] with Colonel Veazey and Major Rounds, were stationed at Bristoe Station, near Broad R[un], and companies B, I and K, with Lieutenant-Colonel Cummings in command, were stationed at Catlett's Station. ~ Russell and Emery, 16th Vermont Infantry Regimental History 

"Union Mills, VA 
"Wednesday, morning 
"May 2[7]th 5 o’clock A.M.

"Dearest Wife, Saturday and Sunday I was on picket night and day. Monday I slept in camp, yesterday there was a reviewed of 15th and 16th Regiments by Gen. Abercombie who said of the manual of arms as executed by the 16th Regiment that he had never seen it excelled by regulars and had supposed it impossible of volunteers.

"This morning at 7:30 our regiment goes down the railroad to relieve the 12th. Two companies will be left at Manassas Junction. 5 at Bristow’s and three at Catlett’s Station, towards Warrenton Junction. Companies B, I, and K go to the latter place in my command. So the regiment will not be together again for two or three weeks.

"Well, I am glad to go, we shall thereby get rid of our picket duty in part or rather exchange it for guard and picket duty all the time in a country new to us and full of guerrillas. But guerrillas let infantry severely alone if the squad number ten or a dozen.

"Nothing new here. I am quite well. ... only two months before we shall see our homes.

"Hurrah for US Grant! He is the being man of this war. Though what difficulties and dangers and accidents he has waded and how gloriously he is succeeding for he must get Vicksburg and lot of pains.

"When I got settled I hope to gain your some account of our new position. In the mean time we shall be on this railroad between this place and the Rappahannock.

"I am dear wife - Your loving husband - Charles." ~ Lt. Col.Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters May 26, 1863. VHS.

 "Wednesday 27th. Ordered to Union Mills & so left on train about 2 P.M. The 16th Vt. took our place at Bristow. I am sorry to leave this pleasant country, to return back where the air is foul & the ground has all been camped over." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 122, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 26, 1863. Praise from Abercrombie.

Gen. Abercrombie
"26th. Gen. Abercrombie reviewed the 15th and 16th regiments. He praised them very highly. Said he never saw regulars do better in the manual of arms." ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"The Fifteenth and Sixteenth, Colonels Proctor and Veazey, were reviewed here ... by Gen. Abercrombie, commanding the division, who expressed surprise and gratification at their fine discipline and appearance. The following order is official testimony to this:

Headquarters Second Brigade,
Abercrombie's Division,
Union Mills, Va., May 26th, 1863
Special Order No. 19. 
The General Commanding desires to express to the regiments inspected to-day his congratulations on their soldierlike appearance, and to convey to them the approbation of the Division General.
Gen. Abercrombie speaks in high terms of the Review and Inspection, especially of the manner in which both regiments passed through the manual of arms, and noticed with pleasure the attention that has been paid to drill and discipline by both officers and men.
By order of Brig. Gen. G. J. Stannard,
Wm. H. Hill, A. A. G.
Lieut. G.G. Benedict, Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of June 15, 1863 in Army Life in Virginia.

"Tuesday 26th. Drilled two hours in A.M. & then as the Capt called for Volunteers for a scout, we went out S.W. about 25 in No. We scouted about some woods & clearings near, & in the mean time had a pig hunt & killed three. Finding no enemy, we returned before dinner. 

"At night at the "Block House". Stood 3 hours & afterwards had an alarm, caused by the passage by of about 100 of the 2nd Penn Cavalry." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 122, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 26. There was great expectations in camp last night, that we should have fun before morning. It was ascertained yesterday, that a force of rebel cavalry was within our lines, and might possibly pay us a visit. Accordingly, preparations were made for the expected attack. The line was formed, arms inspected, new rifle pits were dug, roads were blockaded, masked batteries constructed, and everything in readiness for a brush, but no engagement took place, the "rebs" making their escape through some other part of the line. A sudden change in the weather to-day, very cold." ~ John C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 121 (1864)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Monday, May 25, 1863. A break in the heat. Rumors

"25th. Looks very much like rain. Blowed up all night." ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"Monday 25th. Off duty this A.M. Drilled two hours in P.M. Day comparatively cold. Great change in the weather, but only a sprinkle instead of rain." Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 122, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

."May 25: I was interrupted yesterday forenoon by the boys coming in to see us, and we had beans for dinner and I was as sick as a horse in the afternoon. whether it was the beans, warm weather, or something else that made me so, or beans and hot weather combined, I don't know. However, I am feeling a great deal better today and will probably be as well as ever in a day or two. The thermometer has stood 90 and 92 in the shade for several days, but it is cloudy today and somewhat cooler. I believe the Plymouth boys are all as well as usual now. There is not much sickness in camp now except someone who has a sort of temporary trip like mine yesterday. 

"We have heard that those two boys of ours who were captured at Bristow have had charges preferred against them by Major General Heintzelman for signing their parole papers. We hope that the authorities in Washington will not be too severe with them. ...

"It is rumored that we are going down on the RR to relieve the 12th day after tomorrow. Bristow is a pleasant place and I had as least be there as here, or if we should happen to land in Manassas or Catlett. There is a good place to stay at either place, and we are perfectly willing to take a car ride and have our knapsacks carried. Besides, we may catch sight of a real live wild Reb once in a while, though we will not be likely to see any considerable force of them. 

"But dinner pork and boiled potatoes is ready and I must go down to the cook house and get my potatoes, though it has got too hot to eat much pork. H.G. Day" ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 25, 1863

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sunday, May 24, 1863. Summer schedule. Inspection; drill; parade; review.

"24th. Hot and muggy.".  ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"Union Mills, Virginia, May 24, 1863

"Dear Parents, Another uneventful week....two months ago today we came here, hardly expecting to remain nearly so long, but now all is quiet and we have made up our minds that we have got to stay where we are for the present or until we get ready to start for Vermont, and we are not certain how soon that will be. 

"The colonel was rather cross this morning on inspection. The Regt. did not march to suit him. We have never been drilled on slow time at all, and come to put us to marching slow time we made bad work of it. But try us on quick or double quick time and the 16th can't be beat! I presume we will be reviewed by the General and staff before long.

"The weather is now decidedly hot here, and has been so for some time. 

"We get up at 5:00, do police duty immediately after, eat breakfast at 5:30, and go on company drill at 6:00, come in again at 7:30. Guard mounting comes at 8:00, after which there is nothing until 5:00 p.m. when Battalion drill comes. This lasts until 6:30. Dress parade comes at 7:00, and supper as soon as we can eat it afterward. Tattoo at 8:30 and taps 9:30, after which everything is supposed to be quiet." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 24, 1863

"Sunday 24th. On guard, but detailed as Colonel's orderly. Easy, pleasant time Very warm & sultry. Had two glasses of lemonade "with a stick in it", during the day. Church Service as usual."  ~ Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 121, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Camp Near Bristol Station, May 24th 1863

"Dear Parents, I now seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that we are yet alive & well & I hope these few lines will find you all the same.

"It is quite pleasant to day, there being air enough so that we can take a little comfort. 
Stephen & Harler are out on picket. are at the bridge across kettle run, which is about two miles below here.

"It is about eleven Oclock A.M. & if I was in Vt I presume that I should be at church. But if I was not there I should be somewhere else.  Ira was well this morning at eight Oclock for I have seen a man who saw him at that time.

"We had an inspection this morning at nine Oclock by Lieut Waite, Capt. Savage being Officer of the day. Watson is Orderly for him to day perhaps you will wish to know what his business is well he had for one thing scoured up the Capts. Sword & now he has gone to carry a letter to the Chaplains & all such Business. He is as tough as a bear. 

"I will now give you a history of our days work:

     Reville              5 1/4 A.M.
     Breakfast call    6 A.M.
     Police call         6 "
     Surgeons call     6 1/2 "
     Company drill     6 1/2 to 8 1/2 "
     Picket mount      8 "
     Guard Mount      8 "
     Dinner             12 N.
     Company drill    5 to 7 P.M.
     Supper               7 "
     Tattoo             8 1/2 "
     Taps                 9 "

"So you see we have to keep busy most of the time, come to take in the extras. When I undertake to call them out to drill, the first that you hear is my time is out. But they get out after a while & then we sweat & drill around for two hours. It makes the boys feel rather ugly but they cant get out of it.

"There is thirty nine privates to do duty & take from thirteen to fifteen men for guard & picket every day. So you see that they have a little picket duty to do as well as to drill.

"The Capt. went down to the Shoals the other day to see J.W. Taylor he says that he was pretty slim.   But better than he was. There has not been any men to report at the hospital for the last fortnight & the boys all feel tiptop, but rather ugly & want their own way & if you say any thing it is none of your D...d business, my time is out I reckon."
Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 41, May 24, 1863

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saturday, May 23, 1863. A grand review.

"Camp Near Bristol Station

"[This] morning the Bush whackers attacked our cavalry patrol on the road about thee miles below here. They killed one man from the first Vermont, without any loss to them. Our men said that two of the men had been in their camp several times. But I reckon that they had not better be seen there again. if they be they will face Slim."  Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 41, May 24, 1863

"Saturday 23rd.  Last Monday 18th I enlisted & to-day is the completion of 9 months since the election of our Co. officers. Six weeks more will finish this job. In camp & taking it easy to-day". Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 121, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 23. A grand review of the troops in this vicinity to-day, by Gen. Stannard, and a very warm day for such business." ~ John C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 121 (1864)

"23rd. Very hot and dry. Exciting news from Grant. Report that he has taken eighty pieces of field artillery." ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Friday, May 22, 1863. Coping with heat and death.

"Friday 22nd. Taking it easy again to-day. Hot & nothing going on. Playing cards more or less". ~ Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 121, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment
"Camp Carusi May 22th 1863 

"There are some few sick in our company. Only one dangerously. That is Aladuren Stowell of Morretown. Last week two of our boys died. Cyrus Thayer of Waitsfield and Charlie Billings of Fayston. Charley had always been tough as a knot but after he had the Measles, since then he has not been so tough and all the sick in our hospital are Boys that had the measles....

"Think by the appearance of things, we are going to move from here soon. We have stayed long enough in one place. It will be two months the 2th of next month since we came here to this camp and that is plenty long enough to stay in one place. The weather here is rather warm for comfort in the middle of the day. What it will be by the 10th of July is more than I can tell but one thing is certain, the Col. will not make us do more than is absolutely necessary. We have not had a drill for most two weeks.

"We probably shall be at home the first days of July, perhaps not till the 10th. Some think before but I do not but there is one thing that bothers me. Some of the men were drafted. Men drafted the 10th of September, how they can keep them till July, puzzles me some. If we take the places of drafted men, why should not our time commence when theirs would if they had been drafted on the 10th of July as they would have been if we had not enlisted when we did." ~ James Willson, 13th Regt., pvt, Co. B. , Letter #44, May 22, 1863 (VHS)

"22nd. Has been very warm to-day. Dug a cellar for ale. There has been a temperance lecture this evening." ~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21, 1863. Reveille 5 a.m. Botanizing and swimming every day.

"Camp Near Union Mills, VA May 21st, 1863 

"My Dear Wife ... It is about as hot during mid-day as it is at home in July. In consequence of this warm weather our program was last night altered so that today and henceforth it is - Reveille 5 a.m., Breakfast 5:30, Drill 6 to 8; Guard Mounting 8; Dinner 12 m, Drill 5 to 6:30 p.m., dress parade 7, Supper 7:15. Tattoo 8:30 Taps 9:30. I am up at Reveille and often before want my breakfast before 6 o’clock and shall leave the mess unless the colonel and major “come to time” eat hearty, three times a day; go to bed at tattoo and sleep soundly. 

"But a new division order is now in force compelling the Field Officer of the Day to camp out in some central portion of the line to visit the line both night and day. As the line is of miles long over the most intolerable ravines to do all this in the rain and dark is a job that will pretty much use up the twenty four hours, and on two days in succession will add to the task. I had rather be in front along with Hooker, but as you seem to be so much better satisfied I will not complain.

"Lilacs, snowballs, etc, etc, and so on are in full blossom. I found a handful of Ladies slipper a week some and one Jack in the pulpit - Asarum Canadense. The flora of this country is peculiarly rich, richer, than any I know of in New England. ...

"I did not think much of the picture I sent you. It was taken at noon day and was poor. The picture of the horse is good. The same day Houghton took a negative of my tent with me sitting there, from which he proposes to print some pictures.

"There has been daily discussion as to when the time of the nine months men expired, but a general order was read on parade a few days since settling the question that the period was not out until the 23d of July. A conundrum has been circulating in camp “Why is the 2nd brigade like an unborn baby?, which is answered “Because it is in for nine month unless sooner discharged!” 

"There seems to be no earthly danger of our moving away from this spot for the present, nor is there the slightest danger of any considerable number of us seeing a rebel. Our record will be a most unsatisfactory record in every respects." ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters May 18, 1863. VHS.

Bristoe Station,
Broad & Kettle Run

"Thursday 21st. Taking it very easy indeed. Go in swimming every day in a Run (Broad or Kettle, by name) & tho' not deep we have considerable sport. On night picket to-night. Had an easy time. Diary of Horace Barlow(UVM), 121, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment 

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 1863. Inspections

May 20 1863
Blockhouse at Catletts

William Henry Jackson

"Wednesday 20th. Grand inspection of everything by Capt Hill at 2 P.M. Guns were splendidly clean & brilliant as a whole. He expressed himself as very well pleased. He said, also, that our Co & our guns were the best he had seen." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 120-21, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 20. The battery of artillery stationed at this post was inspected yesterday. In consequence of the weather being so extremely warm, we have only two and one-half hours' drill per day, which is mainly in the bayonet exercise. 

"Picketing is getting to be somewhat tedious -- requiring two-thirds of the regiment to perform it, and thereby giving only two days out of seven for rest. Cavalry is sent out every day to patrol the roads in this vicinity, and patrols from the regiment are sent out every night."~ John C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B. 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 122 (1864)

"ORVILLE WHEELER was was a sturdy, well-behaved young man and very anxious to enlist and his father gave consent reluctantly because so young. His age at enrollment was just past 18 years. His constitution was undermined at Wolf Run Shoals camp, where for ten long weary weeks exacting duties and the severity of the weather taxed to the uttermost the physical endurance of the strongest. At this camp he sickened and went into the hospital, recovered and moved with the regiment to Camp Widow Violet; here he had a relapse, was again taken into the hospital where he died of disease May 20, 1863." ~Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 645-46 (1910)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19, 1863. Spread over a line of fifty miles,

"Two or three days since, a strong force of cavalry from Stoneman's corps came up to guard the lower end of the railroad, and yesterday the infantry regiments were withdrawn.

"The Fifteenth came back to Union Mills, and resumes the old duty of picketing along the Occoquan and Bull Run. The Twelfth remains out a few miles, the right wing, which includes Company C, being stations at Bristow's, and the left wing, in two detachments, at Catlett's Station and Manassas Junction.

"General Stannard retains his headquarters at Union Mills, and devotes himself earnestly and effectively to the care of the troops. It is no light care. The Second Vermont brigade is spread over a line of fifty miles, three of the regiments maintaining a picket line for which the entire brigade used to be hardly sufficient, and two guarding thirty miles of railroad...

"The men of the Twelfth have been enjoying to the full their sojourn in the splendid region at the front, and the regiment has been greatly benefited as to health by the change. The number of new cases of sickness has been reduced to a nominal figure, and the convalescents who have returned from the hospitals in Alexandria have rapidly regained full strength.

"In the Thirteenth regiment the same malarial fever which weakened the Twelfth so at the Shoals is prevailing extensively and has proved fatal in four or five cases within a day or two."
Lieut. G.G. Benedict, Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of May 19, 1863 in Army Life in Virginia.  

"Tuesday 19th. Was to have had a great inspection to-day by A.A.G. Capt Hill (of Brigade) but put off till to-morrow. Quiet in Camp. Went in swimming in P.M." Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 120, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"There is more sickness than usual in the brigade. My company lost two soldiers, -Cyren Thayer and Charles Billings."~Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

"May 19th: The weather here is quite warm, but I do not see anybody planting corn about here, though I presume you are just beginning to plant at home, and here if you can get across Bull Run and a mile or two away from the Railroad, you will find all sorts of farming business in full operation, except when the men are away on some bushwhacking expedition or other."

"We have just heard that Moses P. Baldwin has got an addition to his family in the shape of a little daughter, so that his time has not been lost after all. 

"How do you prosper with the Spring work? You mention Father is going up to mend fence on the old pasture. How many sheep has he this summer and are their as good ones as those that he sheared last summer? How many cows have you got this summer? Oh, tell little Charlie that he must learn to play on his new "drum" so that he can play for Clarence the next time he gets his regiment together as it is highly necessary at all military gatherings to have a little music. More anon, H. G. Day" ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 19, 1863

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Monday, May 18, 1863. At Union Mills. Thin lines; Rebels in the midst.

Union Mills

"Camp at Union Mills, VA 
"Monday morning, May 18th, 1863

"My Dear Wife ... I was Field Officer of the Day Wednesday and Thursday in charge of a fatigue party Saturday and yesterday and today an again Officer of the Day. Our regiment has six miles of picketing to do in a very rough line, without any help; but today the 15th comes back and will relieve us of some of this labor. But the weather in delightful and has been so for ten days so the men endure their labor well. The health of the regiment has at not former time been so good since we crossed the Potomac as now. 

"Then is nothing particularly new or interesting in camp just now. The only item of excitement that I have heard of is the capture of eight other men by the rebels a few days since. It appears that while half a dozen teams belonging to the 13th regiment were drawing supplies for the regiment from Fairfax Station, to near Occoquan village, a party of mounted rebs made their appearance and captured the men and horses and destroyed the wagons. In addition to a driver for each team were four or five men belonging to the regiment that had been off contrary to instructions and were riding back to camp, stragglers we call them here. The rebels, who are well posted as to our movements, made this dash and re-crossed the Occoquan River in safety. 

"We are in the expectation of a raid in here about these days. Then has been no time for a week when Mosby with 150 men could not have come in here and carried off the battery and the general. With 150 men at Bristow’s Station 100 on detached service, 200 on picket, and there is not many left for fight after taking out regimental guards and cooks. Saturday, however, we closed the fords on the river with felled trees, so that a dash cannot be made past our picket line by the mounted rebels. 

"There is nothing new out here of great moment. It is reported that the rebels have an infantry force this side of the Rappahannock and that they contemplate a raid or driving us back within the Defense of Washington. If they do this we may be able to extemporize a smart little fight out here. 

"Our nine months expire on the 23d day of July next, two months longer at the end of which time most of us will be in Brattleboro, where we shall be mustered out of the service of our respected Uncle.

"My love to all, and a kiss for the dear little ones. Your loving husband - Charles. ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters May 18, 1863. VHS.

"Union Mills, Virginia, May 18, 1863

"Dear Parents Yours of the 6th came duly to hand and found me at Bristow, but was just as welcome there as anywhere. Co. "E" is down there now with enough men from other companies to make up 100. .... Stannard is much liked by the men under his command. He is not showy and dashing like Stoughton but seems to be a kind fatherly sort of an individual, chuck full of common sense with a good word for everybody.

"You want to know what a vidette is? It is a mounted sentinel posted outside the picket line to observe the movements of the enemy.

"I had the pleasure of taking another trip down the railroad the other day, going down within two miles of the Rappahannock. Went down as guard on one of the trains. I think from all appearances that we will not have to keep up this picket line alone a great while longer as I think the 12th and 15th will be brought back to assist us.

"There are not many troops left in the Dept. in Washington now. Most of them have been sent down on the front to help Hooker. I have heard that Phillip Crosly was killed in one of the late fights on the Rappahannock. If that is true he is the first Plymouth boy to be killed in action." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 18, 1863

Phillip W Crosby of Plymouth, age 17 Pvt, Co. I, 2nd VT, kia, Marye's Heights, 5/3/63

"Monday 18th. Moved camp, by rail, to Bristow station. The two Co's K & G are still at Catlett's & the right wing at Bristow, & the other 3 at Mannassas Junction. Col. Blunt sent for me to help him move, & so I was detailed & had an easy time. On Picket, (not by necessity) to-night." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 120, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sunday, May 17, 1863. "We are where we was when I wrote you last and doing the same duty only more of it."

E. D. Keyes,
Captain Co. H.
16th Regt.
"Union Mills Va. May 17

"Dear Father: 
"It has been quite a long time since I wrote you last and an awful long time since you wrote me. You see by the heading that we are where we was when I wrote you last and doing the same duty only more of it. The 15th Regt. which was near us then has moved out to the Rappahannock and we have to do the duty they did and ours too making a picket line of some 7 or 8 miles for us to keep guarded and this too with only about 2/3 of our men. The rest are guarding the Rail Road that runs out to the Rappahannock. The men are on the picket line most all the time yet they are quite healthy never any more so are anxious to get away from this monotonous life and have more active service.

"I am well and tough as ever though I am not near so fat as I was. This extreme hot weather is taking it off and I am glad of it. I feel better. I was so fat often that I could not move without grunting hardly. 

"Our time of service expires in about 2 months and I am real anxious to get home for I want to see you all so much but I think I shall come again and seem as though I should now but I know it would seem lonesome after being home a while and this life and excitement of Camp life would I fear bring me out here again. I feel anxious to have the officers of my Co. settle up to know whether I am coming out little end of the horn or not. You know the whole property of the Co. is in my charge and if there is any unnecessary loss I am held accountable for it. 

"We have a beautiful camping ground just as neat and clean as can be and every street is all set and with pine & cedar trees for a shade it looks splendid. Perhaps you didn't know but camps are laid out with a good deal of regularity & taste. Having streets and names just as much as a city. Have 12 Streets to a Regt. Line Officers on Front St. and the Field Officers & Staff on Main St. the others I can't stop to give.

"It has been awful warm here for the last fortnight as warm as we usually have in Vt. at any season of the year. I think I have rations pretty short now days because it is so hot I cannot keep anything on hand. Butter nor fresh meat we can't keep as we used to. We have ham & eggs about 3 times a day with army bread and nothing else. Eggs are 40 cts a dozen. Butter we can get some of for the same price per pound but is so strong that we dare not attacked it. 

"But that's nothing I will have something better in a little while when I get there helping you in haying and have that new wife to cook. I remember ... her cooking the old table and the [ ] with much pleasure I assure. Give my love to her and all the good folks of S. Reading. Tell her I speak for both of those beds up stairs when I get home. We shall certainly warm them if it is as hot as it is out here.

"Suppose you are very busy now planting are you not. Wallace is well but feels a little anxious to get home I think. ...

"Yours in haste


"I sent to Lett a few weeks ago some money which I really wish you would take and give her a note for what she dont use herself. Possibly she has loaned it. EDK" 
E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, 16th Regiment, Letter of May 17, 1863

"Camp Carusi Sunday May 17, 1863 

"Dear Mother
... Since I wrote last we have been having some excitement here. One morning three teams started for the station--two, six mule teams and one, four horse team with one to drive. Sargeants Bayer and Jillsby were with them. One of the teamsters was from this company, Frank Griffith. They had got about half way there when some Rebs that were hid in the woods sprang out and demanded them to surrender. As they were not armed and the Rebs were, they had to give up. 

"The Rebs took off the Mules from the wagon and started across the river. They made the boys ride Mules barebacked. At that, the mail carrier came along and saw what was up. He came back to camp and reported. The Col. came round to the companies and called for volunteers to go and try to get them back. 

"The men all wanted to go, so they had to detail men in order to keep any in camp. Some men went up the river to cut off their retreat. The rest of the men went where the teams were taken. I went that way after that we took the trail and followed it to the river. There we found the men that went up the river. 

"The rebs had crossed before they got there so they gave us the slip. Some were sent on after them with what cavalry we had then followed them till they found that it was not use then, came back. 

"The Rebs took the boys to Braintsville and paroled them. They got back to camp night before last, stayed one night and went on to the camp, not having but one team left. 

"We must do something and so the Col. sent men over the river to Prince Williams County with orders to take every horse they could find that would do for team horses. Our Company got five. The rest got enough to make out thirteen so our teams are replaced in part. It seems hard to take a man’s horse from him but if they will take our mules, they must look out for their horses. 

"It was Guerillas that took our men and teams and one of the sorry horses that our boys took from a plow in the field over the river, our boys that were taken say was rode by one of the men that took him, so you see just what kind of neighbors we have here." James Willson, 13th Regt., pvt, Co. B. , Letter #43, May 17, 1863 (VHS)

"STEPHEN G. WEST enlisted from Barre. He did not take kindly to the life of a soldier; he found fault with everything; he was homesick and despondent and finally sickened and died May 17, 1863, at Camp Carusi."Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 683(1910)