January 1st, 1863.
The year commences with a beautiful day, calm, bright and peaceful and seemingly to signify that the year shall bring peace to our distracted country. Have striven today to be more particular in little things, right use of leisure moments, and to be watchful over my random thoughts. Commenced my Bible reading for the year with Isaiah for morning reading and Acts for evening reading. Busy tonight with various “chores.”
Received an order for me to go to Washington and get my knapsack in storage there. Got “pass” and at 10 AM took steamboat and was soon in Washington. After some overhauling of the pile of regiment knapsacks found mine with its contents all safe. Visited Campbell Hospital and saw David Sullivan of our company. Found him cheerful and trying to learn to write with his left hand. Poor fellow, I pity him in the loss of his hand. Found through the Massachusetts Relief Association where all the wounded of our regiment were placed, intended visiting some of them but was detained in getting my knapsack so had no time. Had no time to look about or visit the public buildings of the city as I intended. Walked back to Alexandria. Was glad to get my knapsack, its contents will be of much value to me in going to the regiment. A fine moonlight evening and enjoyed the walk very much, my leg getting some what lame over it, however. Find I lack a true Christian spirit of self- assessment and calmness amid the occasional tumult and bustle of worldly business. How much do I need to cultivate a more constant communion with God.
Find myself quite lame today, from my yesterday’s tramp. Busy most of the day with sundry chores, washing, etc.
A poorly improved day spiritually. Had severe sore throat. Fear I made this a needless excuse for mental and spiritual in activity. Had conversation with J. A. Kennedy of the 20th Mass. upon his being a Christian. Felt I needed more tenderness of heart and gentleness of manner and dependence upon God in my efforts to do spiritual good to others. Had an excellent exhortation from our Chaplain. Rodney Gage of MA from the text “As ye have opportunity therefore to do good to all men.”
Busy most of day writing letters to cousin Julia and Daniel F. Nichols. Felt better in mind and body.
Busy writing letters part of day. Think I might accomplish more were I more careful of moments to spend them in good reading or improving conversation. Attended African prayer meeting. Enjoyed it very much. Though lacking in education and cultivation, yet could not but feel they were spiritually in earnest, and set us who have had far better religious advantages a goodly example of humble faith, and joy and love in the Holy Ghost.
During the past three days quite a number have been sent off from the Hospital to Portsmouth Grove, RI. Among them Sergeant Matthews of PA with whom I have had much pleasant Christian converse. Also J. A. Kennedy, was sorry to see him sent away as he was quite feeble and I fear will hardly stand the strip. They were sent by water. He belongs in West Randolph, MA so he will get much nearer home.
Not very well, had headache most of day. Took bath. Have learnt by the experience of the day that I need to exercise more caution in witnessing acts of injustice by superiors towards those under their charge. And to not overstep the bounds of minding my own business, of prudence or true benevolence in trying to assist those who are ill used. Think sometimes more good can be done by silent forbearance, than with clamorous interference. Have need too, to watch against a spirit of exaggeration in speaking, must feel this to be a species of lying. Must watch and pray for greater simplicity in my conduct and language.
Sabbath. Busy reading in Bible and in “Nevin’s Practical Thoughts” most of the day. Attended religious service conducted by our Chaplain in afternoon. Notice that I let petty mean actions of others trouble me, causing me disquiet my mind and temper and evil passions to rise in my heart. Need to cultivate a spirit of patience and quiet waiting on the Lord as I witness mean and hypocritical actions in others.
Wrote letter to A. B. Norris. Went to walk in afternoon, visited soldiers’ cemetery, a place to call up sad feelings. Here were buried men from near all of the loyal statesmen who had left home and friends to die in the service of their country. Neat painted headboards marked each grave upon which were inscribed the name, company, regiment, and date of decease. Some were marked, unknown. Telling sad thoughts of mourning ones at home, weeping it may be over their lost ones, not knowing perhaps where or how they died, and perhaps struggling with daily diminishing hope that some tidings of the absent may yet come to them. May God pity and comfort them.
Wrote letter to Carrie. Went to walk in afternoon with a friend, Joseph Tyrrell of NJ, an orderly at the Surgeon’s office. Find him a true Christian and had pleasant chat with him.
Took walk in afternoon to the old location of the convalescent camp. The place now deserted, presented a gloomy look, and as I thought of my past associations with it, it seemed more gloomy still. Think I have too strong a love for debate, and too often get excited and do more harm than good to the truth I would serve, have noticed too that I am apt to speak discourteously while in debate with those who are my elders. Attended class meeting of soldiers in evening. Enjoyed it much. Noticed a want of heart in my exhortations.
Sore throat today. Busy writing letter to Abbie for most of the day. Am not so active in thought as I ought to be. Think I do not take physical exercise enough.
Detailed by the Surgeon to assist as nurse in the hospital. Had chance to be detailed as Assistant Hospital Steward, but concluded that as I intended to go to the regiment February 1st if able, had better not take it. Was sent up stairs to the 3rd Ward. Re-mailed a letter for J. A. Kennedy to Mr. Leonard Pierce.
Received a visit from Mr. Edward Stone of Dedham. Very glad to see him and went with him to visit the convalescent camp near Fort Barnard. He was very urgent to have me stay in the Hospital as an Assistant until April 1st before rejoining my regiment. He thought rejoining it this winter would be unfavorable to my health. Need to seek for divine guidance in the matter.
Received letters from Nellie and Abbie. Much exercised in mind as to the line of duty as to going to my regiment February 1st or waiting until April. Have grown cold and formal in prayer. Miss much a place for retirement for secret prayer.
Applied for a situation as clerk in the Chief Surgeon’s Office, but was told I could not write well enough. Felt a little piqued at this, arising I think partly from false pride and fear of man. Notice my animal appetites are strong and clamor for gratification. Need more prayerfulness. Received letter from Benjamin Boyden. From it learn that Grace King, Fanny Fish, and Mrs. Martin have recently joined our church.
Wrote letter to Benjamin Boyden. Nothing of much note. Have very pleasant and easy duties. Six of us are having the charge of about 20 patients, to wait upon them and keep the room in order. None of the patients are very sick or have very bad wounds, though nearly all are confined to their beds. Nearly all are cheerful and bear their trials nobly.
Received letter from E. P. Burgess. Enjoyed it much. Have been guilty again today in gratifying appetite. Feel that much of my spiritual coldness comes from my thus being a slave to bodily lusts. O that my soul was as hungry for spiritual food, as is my animal appetites for useless luxuries.
Received letter from Abbie yesterday. Felt unwell most of the day. Have a severe cold on my lungs and throat. My text today “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is staged on Thee.” O that my mind and heart were truly staged on God in the spirit of the text. And why is it not?
Sabbath. Busy most of forenoon getting things to rights for the weekly inspection. Attended the Episcopal Church in evening. Very interesting discourse from the words “Blessed are the poor in spirit” etc. The church building is the one in which General Washington and family used to worship, quite ancient in its style or arrangement of pulpit and pews. Feel I am not truly poor in spirit or do not hunger for the grace of God continually.
Busy reading most of the time when not on duty yesterday and today. News of the resignation of General Burnside received today and was sorry to hear it. Affairs seem to have a gloomy look in our councils and in our armies. How much as a nation do we need to humble ourselves before God, feel our dependence upon Him as the author and giver of all true success and acknowledge Him in all our National Councils. Attended prayer meeting in evening. Had a good meeting. Felt that more aggressive working for Christ in and through my daily life would help me to be more “in the spirit” in religious meetings.
Busy mending and getting ready to start for the regiment February 1st. Did not do my duty today in hospital work, justifying myself on the plea that the other nurses did not do theirs or their share of the work. On reflection felt that this is no excuse for me to be neglectful, nor the true way to lead them to do theirs.
Visited Washington and Georgetown today to see some wounded friends in the hospitals. Unable to see any, but William C. Stimpson. Found him doing well. Had a wound in hand at the battle of Fredericksburg. Visited the Capitol building, and rooms of the Senate and House of Representatives. Found the building fully equal to my expectations in its magnitude, style of finish, etc. Congress in session and was quiet interested in the manner of doing business. Much interested in the remarks of Mr. Maynard of KY. The question under discussion was as to the expediency of putting Negro troops into the field, their pay etc. A sort of feeling akin to awe and reverence came over me as I sat thus in council room in the nation. Hard to realize that here before me were the agents who controlled and regulated all the organic political and military forces of the nation. Disappointed in the general aspect of the city of Washington. There is little attractive about it or showing much enterprise, scarce equal in these respects to any of our Northern cities. The streets are not paved and are all of them either dusty or muddy by turns, and some of them far from being cleanly. The public buildings are stately structures, but seemed to me to be disjointed in their relations to one another. Walked back to Alexandria in the evening.
Sabbath. Enjoyed the day very much. At tended Methodist Church in forenoon and Episcopal Church in evening. Service by our Chaplain in afternoon in the hospital, his text, “Commit thy way unto the Lord and He shall give thee the desire of thy heart.”
Made application to the surgeon today to be forwarded to my regiment now at Falmouth, VA. Have a promise to be sent tomorrow. Shall be sorry to leave the hospital as I have made the acquaintance of many whose friendship I esteem and have the enjoyment of many religious privileges, which I shall miss on getting to the regiment. But feel that now that I am well the regiment is the place of duty for me.
Discharged from hospital and furnished with the necessary papers to go on to the regiment. Too late for the government boat to Aquia Creek, so have to wait until tomorrow.
Left on steamboat for Aquia Creek. Weather cold and raw. Scenery along the Potomac is presenting little of attractiveness, doubtless in part from the season of the year. Passed Mt. Vernon, the bell of the steamer tolling as we passed. Arrived at Aquia Creek in the afternoon and was soon on board of a government train United States Military Railroad en route for the regiment now distant some 12 miles. Soon came upon the camps of the troops which were scattered all along from Aquia Creek to Falmouth, a brigade or division in a place, surrounded with trains of army wagons, ambulances and other paraphernalia of war, and presenting a novel and interesting sight. After some delay and floundering about in mud and darkness, found the camp of regiment at about 8 p.m. Glad enough to meet the regiment and especially old comrades of Company I again. Have been away from the regiment 4 months and 20 days. Found the regiment much reduced from the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg and the toil and marches incident thereto; that many of our best officers had been killed or badly wounded in the above fights. Of our company Captain Sidney Willard and Lt. William Hill had been killed, also privates Edward Hatton, John Mckew, Ralph Jones, James Welsh, George Bunker, Joseph R. Smith, Fred Hewes, Nathan Treadwell, and many others were away in hospitals from wounds or disease. Found the regiment in rather a poor location. Mud the most plentiful article abounding out of doors. The woods, fences and old buildings, barns, etc. were fast disappearing before the imperious demands of the troops for firewood and shelter. Small “shelter or day” tents were in use for dwellings, two or three to a tent. Some had fireplaces, chimneys of Virginia mud. Went into tent with John W. Fiske. Found many of the men rather discouraged at the look of military affairs. The defeat and losses of Fredericksburg having had rather a depressing effect, but this was slowly passing away.
Severe storm of snow and rain today, in tent all day. Our Captain Lathrop started for home on furlough today. Wrote letter to Nellie.
Rain near all day. Wrote to Benjamin Boyden. Found the “boys” on the whole more cheerful and in better quarters than I had expected.
Orders to be in readiness to move at an hour’s notice with five days’ rations. Our destination is unknown. We go to Fort Munroe at the first, so report. We are glad at the prospect of getting away from our present mud hole, mud a half shoe and in some places half knee deep, over our camp ground.
Sabbath. Went off quite a distance to get wood for cooking. Read in God’s word a portion of the day. Spent much time uselessly. Notice a spirit of idleness and laziness creeping over me, must watch and pray against them and against letting my spiritual light and life be hidden or smothered by the excitements and entire worldliness seemingly of army life. O that I could be instant in prayer mid all the bustle and temptation to forgetfulness of God and heavenly truths incident to army life.
Broke camp at daylight, packed up and ready to move. The scene of packing up was lively and exhilarating, with bonfires in plenty of old barrels, remains of shanties and chimneys and old boxes. At 7 a.m. took cars and were landed at Aquia Creek and from thence on board the steamer Louisanna were soon steaming down the Potomac. Our ultimate destination is as yet unknown to us. Reports say to KY or East TN. At the first we go to Fort Munroe. Our whole Corps is on the move. We were not sorry to bid goodbye to the soil and state of VA. It is little else but a slough hole of mud now. While en route to Aquia Creek saw many of our baggage wagons stuck in the mud, some in rather laugh able positions, no laughing matter to the poor mules, however. The whole country from Falmouth to Aquia Creek presents but one scene of desolation. Woods, fences, and all unoccupied out buildings are fast disappearing before the hungry wants of the multitude of campfires. Houses not occupied by citizens (and many of the latter have fled into the interior of “Dixie”) are used for hospitals and headquarters of officers. Fields are cut up with heavy wagon and artillery trains or trenched and dug over for camps and fortifications. Many of the hitherto quiet and peaceable homes are thus desolated, and I fear the owners will never see them, harvest fields and homes, under prosperous circumstances again.
Made but little progress last night, remaining at anchor most of the night. Got but little sleep owing to the crowd and consequent noise and confusion on board. There are three regiments of us on board, 51st PA and 21st MA. Fine weather and our sail down the river has been very pleasant. It is truly a noble river for commercial purposes, presents but little of any great interest in its scenery. All sorts of methods are adopted to pass or improve the time. Some busy with card playing, some with novel reading, some with a better class of reading, and still more with viewing the scenery. It was interesting to watch the men at these various methods of whiling away the time, and a pretty good way in which to get at the habits and mental tastes of most of them. Busy with viewing the scenery and reading rather lazily in a history of the United States.
Took up a position on the hurricane deck last night and slept quite soundly. Woke up to find the weather raw and chilly. Passed the impregnable looking walls of Fort Munroe, which looked strong enough to defy the combined navies of the world. Thank God it did not treacherously get into rebel hands. Steamed up the James River, passing the half-sunken wrecks of the Congress and Cumberland. The sight of these caused feelings of wonder and enthusiasm with thoughts of the overruling providence of God. Which in turning what seemed at the first to be a terrible disaster into a consummate and wonderful victory into the change that must eventually ensue in the manner of conducting naval warfare for the future. Landed at Newport News and went into camp on a good camp spot of sandy soil with a smooth grassy surface and quite in contrast to our mud hole of Falmouth. Out up our shelter tents, two to a tent, Corporal John W. Fiske, tenting with me.
Wrote letter to Abbie. Busy during forenoon doing chores and washing. We are cooking our own rations, which gives us considerable to do.
Had my first trial at company and battalion drill since I was wounded. Got on better than I expected. Felt a little lame on going double quick. Wrote letter to Benjamin Boyden. Busy part of day in brining logs to fix up tent.
Busy all day fixing or stockading up our tent. Built up a tier of logs, 1 1/2 feet high and upon them pitched our tent, thus have quite roomy quarters, a chance to sit up straight in any part of the tent.
Sabbath. Rainy, attended religious services at the camp of the 11th NH conducted by their Chaplain. Enjoyed it much. His remarks upon the duty of the soldiers being in earnest, both in his spiritual and carnal warfare earnest as a soldier patriot fighting for his country, and earnest as a Christian warring against sin were thorough and instructive. O that the Chaplain of our regiment was what he ought to be. At present he is little better than having no one and that his influence is for evil rather than for good. Think that the worst feature of our regiment is its neglect of religion both by officers and men. Have no religious services in the regiment. Wrote letter to E. P. Burgess. Feel I too often write things in my letters for effect, or in other words to gain credit or applause from men, rather than to make record of simple heart thoughts and experiences with the desire to please as my motive. Need to make the want of reverence of God in the regiment a subject of prayer. Had a good season of prayer last evening, for folks at home. O that my seasons of prayer were with earnestness even to weeping. Do I really pray in faith?
Was enabled to commence the day more with God, and his grace assisting me have got on better in the spending of time and in controlling my conduct than for sometime back. Had battalion drill today in earnest by Captain Gibson. Find myself quite ignorant in knowledge of much of the drill acquired by the regiment during my absence. Think I need to cultivate self-possession and to control my mind at drill hours so that it may be upon drill duties and nothing else.
Rainy near all day. Wrote letter to Mr. Edward Stone. Notice a spirit of thinking how others will regard my actions and of shaping them rather to gain human approval and honor rather than that God may be honored in my life and heart. How much do I need to imbibe more of the truths and principles spoken by our Savior as He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, etc.” In tent all day and had pleasant season of prayer and of Bible study.
Rainy and dreary all day. Stayed in tent studying in drill book and in reading in Bible and other miscellaneous reading. Have endeavored to treasure up useful knowledge and study the word of God in earnest. Ought to study my drill book more than I do. Captain Lathrop returned from his ten days furlough today. Received instruction from Lt. Pope concerning skirmish drill. Such weather makes me think much of home and loved ones, and to feast my imagination on thinking what they may be doing in the home circle.
Changed our shelter from A-tents and busy most of the day in laying out camp anew. Went into tent with Charles H. Ellis, John W. Fiske and Moses W. Downes for partners. Took stroll a long the wharves at the landing and along the banks of the James River.
Took a walk last evening along the line of our Corps' camps. They stretch along parallel with the river for near a mile. It was a beautiful evening, the view of the setting sun across the river was fine, the river glistening in its rays. At many of the camps games of ball or quoits were in progress and the scene was lively and cheerful. Quite a large parade ground stretches along between the various camps and the river. Did some washing today and took cold bath. Are allowed Saturdays for our wash days. Other days, saving Sunday, have from four to six hours drill, or the Sergeants have daily recitations from the drill book to the officers. The officers also have recitations to the Commanding Officer of the regiment. Our Lt. Colonel and Adjutant returned to the regiment today. Were taken prisoners in September or October last. We were glad to get them back as we have had rather a poor stock of regiment officers.
Sabbath, a severe rain with wind and consequently quite dreary without. Lay in tent all day, not going out but once and then to make some chocolate. Have felt but little the true Sabbath feeling. Read in Isaiah and Jeremiah but not with the reverence and soul thirsting for divine truth that I should have. Find it hard in camp life to resist a spirit of drowsiness at leisure hours. Received a letter from Abbie from home, enjoyed it much. O that I had a spirit of true wrestling prayer for loved ones at home and for our country now in its multiplied trials. Our national affairs are looking gloomy and dark. Perhaps God is thus leading us away from trusting to an arm of flesh to save us, and up to a feeling of our dependence upon Him and that our true strength is to wait on the Lord in humble, obedient trust and faith. Brigade inspection ordered to come off today. Feel this having inspection upon the Sabbath is a wicked violation of God’s Commandments concerning the keeping of that day and as if we as a nation could not expect His blessing upon us while thus needlessly breaking His laws. Do not see why such inspections cannot be had upon a weekday.
No drill today. Weather cold and raw. Wrote letter for Florian Mats. Visited our regiment hospital to see David K. Hall of our company who is there quite sick. The hospital, a large tent, is rather a dreary place for the sick, they seemed to be quite cheerful, however. Feel I need to cultivate a more sympathetic spirit and have that tenderness of feeling which will lead me to “weep with those that weep.”
Sergeant of the guard today and feel I need to seek a more true spirit of self -possession in taking charge of men. We have a brigade guard mounting at 9 AM and have a regular guard about the camp, this I suppose as a sort of military drill. The guard consists of three reliefs, a Lt., a sergeant, and three corporals. Each relief is on duty two hours at a time, or eight hours per day. Neglected to study the word of God until night. Must be more vigilant to begin the day with God, notice my days do not pass so pleasantly and usefully when I neglect to do this.
Up until 2 AM last night on guard duty. Was on guard until 2 P.M. today. Grand review of our Corps today by General Smith was a splendid sight. About 20,000 men, artillery and infantry participated in the various maneuvers. It was enlivening and saddening at the same time. It was enlivening to witness the fine columns, the gleaming bayonets and muskets, the prancing horses with their gaily mounted officers, the streaming banners, rattling drums and banks of music. It is saddening to think that all this was but training for “grim visage of war” to be the means of destroying human life. That perhaps in another month or year should pass thousands of these now exultant in health and life would be cut down on the battlefield, and desolated homes with weeping widows and orphans mourn their loss. Questions arise to the mind as to how. He who is a God of love and overruleth all things can permit such unhallowed and cruel strife among His creatures, as to what good is gained thereby, and why more human methods could not be adopted to settle human differences. To answer the first of these, one is led to feel that it is not given to morals to know of the “councils of the Infinite God”. That as we cannot therefore perhaps know why evil is permitted, we can only reverently trust Him “that He doeth all things well” and in faith remember that “His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts as our thoughts.” Are having splendid weather now; fine moonlight evenings, good dry walking seeming much as our April at home.
Had our first trial of skirmish drill today. Enjoyed it much. David K. Hall of our company buried today. He was from Needham. Died quite suddenly. It may be said of him that he did what he could for his country. Had the funeral just at sunset, company following his body to the grave with reversed muskets, prayer was offered at the grave and a salute fired. The scene was affecting and impressive, all around was calm and still, with the trees glistening with raindrops of a recent shower. The long lines of white tents were stretching away in the distance, with the dull steady roll of the waves of the river upon the shore. The rows of lonely soldiers’ graves with their painted headboards and the wrecks of the Cumberland and Congress near by all served to call up a variety of sad and impressive thoughts. The burial lot is close by the James River, beneath some cedar trees, here are buried soldiers from near every loyal state, and a number of seamen and marines from the ill fated vessels whose wrecks were still in view in the river below.
Wrote a letter to Abbie. Tent mates, Moses Downes and John Fiske, both had boxes of extras arrive from home today. Many of the men are receiving these frequently so that good living abounds.
Last day of the month and of winter, with winter having flown swiftly away. Indeed though absent from home and friends and most of the pleasant things of life, still time passes rapidly. Inspection by our Colonel is today.
Sabbath today with inspection in forenoon, this we have nearly every Sabbath and seems to me to be a wicked and needless violation of the day. Our Chaplain resigned today and gave us some partying words. Our Lt. Colonel also read to us a communication stating that he had examined the charges made against the Chaplain and stated they had no foundation in fact. Took walk to the soldiers’ burial lot with Joseph R. Smith. Busy most of the day in reading Congregationalists sent me by Benjamin Boyden. Find it hard to have real hearty religious feeling with so much around me to distract and lead to constant worldliness of thought. Yet feel if my heart were full of love to Christ, and His service my foremost object in life, barrenness of feeling could not be in my heart.
Severe drill today in double quick which affected my leg a little. Find I need to pay more strict attention at drill if I would be prompt in executing the orders given and movements required. Notice a want of natural aptness to learn or quickly perceive some of the more intricate maneuvers and promptly execute them, and must strive as a remedy to be more watchful and persevering always to do my best. Attended prayer meeting at the Chaplain’s tent of the 11th NH. Was worldly in mind and filled with thoughts of pride showing itself in thinking of how others would regard my actions. How much do I need to pray for humility.
Sergeant of guard today. Things have gone wrong today, caused I think by neglect of prayer this morning, and allowing myself to be so dilatory in getting my breakfast, that I had read my morning chapter hurriedly.
Brigade drill in afternoon. Did not feel very well on account of being up part of the night on guard.
Busy near all day cleaning gun and equipment, and washing. John W. Fiske not very well today, and has not been for two or three days. Am not thankful enough for the good health God is giving me, and am not careful enough to preserve it. Must deny myself more in the demands of my appetite for extras outside of our regular rations.
Quite a heavy thunder shower this morning. Reading in tent near all day. Attended Bible class and prayer meeting at camp of the 11th NH. Pride at work again. From the experience of the day, feel I cannot expect God’s grace to dwell richly in my heart while pride and seeking applause from man dwell there, nor can I truly and faithfully seek to lead others to Christ. Last day of my 26th year, and what a year of new experiences has it been for me.
Rainy. In tent all day and wrote letter to A. B. Norris. Done some mending. Reread Carrie’s letter of February 23rd. How pleasant are letters from home. In it she expresses the hope that our brother, Ronnie, may succeed in his trade and grow up to useful manhood. How much I wish I could see him. Am I doing what I can here for him in prayer and in writing to him? As I pray for him, do I pray in faith? Do I realize that a heart consecrated to the service of God is of more value than any amount of earthly success can be? And do I strive to so impress it upon his mind? Attended prayer meeting at 11th NH camp in evening.
Wrote letter to Abbie. Received one from Benjamin Boyden. Find my thought worldly and think little of the presence of God in the midst of my daily life. Had conversation with a brother Christian of the regiment concerning starting a prayer meeting in the regiment. Feel we can do it, can we get to a suitable place.
Received letter from Nellie. Enjoyed it very much. Attended prayer meeting at camp of 11th NH in evening. Took part in the meeting, need to watch against speaking with the intellect and not from the heart. Had a first rate drill under our Adjutant Nathaniel Wales, who is a good drillmaster, the best in the regiment. Busy part of the day in getting boards etc. to fix up a tent allotted us temporarily by the Lt. Colonel for a chapel tent. Hope soon as get seats fixed to have some regiment prayer meeting.
Busy part of the day washing. Wrote letter to Benjamin. Boyden.
Sabbath. Had services in front of the Colonel’s tent. Attended Bible class at 11th NH in afternoon. Lesson in St. John and made very interesting by remarks and explanations of the Chaplain. Feel I lack a tender, loving heart for my Savior. Need a broader, deeper Christian feeling toward those who have not the love of Christ in their hearts. A feeling that cares little about special forms of belief, or advance of self, but realizes that all need a Savior, and need to seek “repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice there is but little desire for religious meetings in our company.
A cold raw uncomfortable day. Things have not gone smoothly today. Was filled with pride while on drill, and lost my temper while fooling with a comrade. These misdeeds seemed to lead to shiftlessness and ill feeling through the day. From it may learn that yielding to sin in one direction leaves the way open to yielding in other temptations.
Affairs more smooth with me today. Had a drill at firing blank cartridge. Knapsacks of the regiment, which have been stored in Washington since Arlington Heights, arrived today. At roll call tonight came orders to pack up and be ready to move at a moment’s notice, cooks to prepare two days’ rations. So packed up and turned in for the night not knowing how soon we may be routed. The cooks have a night’s job to cook up the rations.
The order of the 17th proved to be nothing. We think it a ruse of the Colonel to drill us a little in the matter of getting ready to move. A severe storm of snow and hail struck today. Wrote letter to Ronnie and a business letter to Benjamin. Boyden. Reports are plenty that we are soon to be on the move. “Madame Rumor” is assigning a dozen or more places, as our destination, probably none but the Corps officers know of the matter. Stayed in tent near all day. A grand game of snow balling was had just at night, participated in by our officers and men.
Severe snow storm all day. Did not go out of tent but once all day. Difficult to keep warm. Wrote letter to Carrie, a cool job having to write with numb fingers. We of the 9th Army Corp have need to be thankful that we have comfortable quarters such weather with no enemy to molest or to watch on distant and unsheltered picket posts.
Still stormy, cold, wet and sloppy. Signs multiply that we are soon to leave. Had a new lot of shelter tents given us today. All our sick sent off today to Hampton Roads Hospital. Two from our company are Joseph Manning and John Dymond. Sorry to have to send the latter away as we esteemed him highly as a comrade and soldier, he is quite sick.
Sabbath. A fine day, the snow of the past two days has near all disappeared and tonight the ground is dry enough for dress parade. In tent nearly all day reading. Attended Bible class in afternoon, enjoyed it much. The Chaplain gave me some tracts to distribute through the regiment, which I did. Feel I did it and too often do kindred work from a cold conviction of duty, rather than with the constraining love of Christ, and the salvation of souls dwelling within my heart as my controlling motive. Need to pray for more of the indwelling of the Spirit within my heart. Attended prayer meeting in evening. This may be our last Sabbath at Newport News.
Was detailed yesterday to do some writing at Brigade Headquarters, but found on arriving there that some necessary blanks could not be had and so there was no work to be done, so came back to camp. I have been busy, with studying drill book. Took charge of a squad of men to drill today. Find I lack confidence, to make a first rate hand at military drill. Received my Sergeant’s warrant today. Do not make conscience of the matter of learning military drill, as I ought. Must be more determined to overcome my dislike of it if I would do my whole duty.
A busy day. Received letter from Abbie. Wrote one to her. Sorry to learn of her continued ill health, how I wish I might get home to see her. Orders read at dress parade for us to be ready to move on the morrow.
Orders came ere we had finished our breakfast to “pack up.” Struck tents which were “turned over” to the post here, packed up our traps and waited until 4 PM ere orders came to move. Passed the time lounging about the soon deserted camp, and reading sundry miscellaneous newspapers. The camp presented a novel scene, the ground was strewn with all sorts of rubbish which had accumulated the past six weeks, old barrels and boxes, old bottles and tin cans and preserve pots, fragments of rations, old cast off clothes, worn out tents, old boots and shoes. The Negroes from the vicinity were gathering up these odds and ends and carrying them off by cartloads. Various bonfires were built of the boxes, barrels, remains of tents etc. Some of the men amused themselves with pitching quoits, others with card playing, and at one time an amusing mock dress parade was had, The participants dressing themselves in old ragged and cast off clothing, with clubs and long poles for muskets, and ragged tents for flags. Going through the manual, etc. much to their own amusement and that of the on lookers. Others amused themselves in the inhumane, though laughable, act of capturing some hapless Negro and tossing him high in the air with a woolen blanket. Four men taking the blanket by the corners, placing the Negro in the center, and giving the blanket a spring, it would send its occupant several feet into the air. Coming down would be caught in the blanket and sent upward again, and so on until the Negro would get away or the parties get tired of their game. At last came the orders to move and at 5 PM we were on board the steamer John Brooks steaming down the James and bidding goodbye to Newport News. So end our six weeks or more of pleasant camp life. Pleasant they have been a sort of “sunny side” soldiering. Our rations regular and of the vest quality. Soft bread, fresh meat three times per week, pork or bacon sides the other three, and beans once per week, potatoes and onions twice a week, coffee twice per day, and molasses once a week, and plenty of soap and candles. Had no very irksome drills so that the days passed swiftly away. Now an unknown future of perhaps toil and danger are before us. The sail out into the Chesapeake Bay by Fort Munroe was delightful, it being just as the sun was setting and as its rays glistened on the water, the shipping, steamers, the fort and the surrounding shore, the scene was truly pleasing. Were quartered in the hold of the steamer, air was close and hardly room to stretch out on account of the crowd on board.
Passed the night comfortably, considering. The sail up the bay to Baltimore was pleasant, the day cool and bright, a battery and the 51st NY and our regiment composed the cargo. Had a schooner in the tow containing the 21st. MA. The scenery along the bay, presented little that was very striking, An occasional village or lighthouse relieving the dull monotony of the woodland. Arrived at Baltimore at 12 AM. A two-mile march through the center of the city brought us to the Depot of the Northern Central R. R. and just at dark we were fairly on board, 40 to a car, in box freight cars. A barrel of boiled pork was stuck into each car, which with our three days rations of “hard tack” or hard bread was to be our food to Pittsburgh. It is now pretty certain we are going to Kentucky to be placed there as a sort of a reserve. Got away from Baltimore at near 12 at midnight.
A ride of 360 miles has brought us to Pittsburgh, arriving at 7:30 AM. The ride from Baltimore has been as pleasant as could be expected. The weather yesterday was stormy, a sort of drizzly snow falling near all day. Today is cold and raw, and snow lying thinly scattered along the streets. The scenery along the route was interesting, while passing through a great variety of country, mostly rough and hilly, at times mountainous. Indeed the view of the mountains along some parts of the route was grand, occasionally we would follow the bank of some small river, winding along valleys and among hills in a roman tic manner. Got treated at Miflin, PA to hot coffee. At Alatoona the rear car containing the officers became detached and they were left behind, so we arrived in Pittsburgh without them. Had a cold time of it waiting in the cars or about the streets for their arrival. Soon as they came we were marched to a large hall ant treated to a fine collation of quite a variety of luxuries, i.e. so to us. At 1 PM we were placed on board good passenger cars and started for Cincinnati. Could hardly realize amid the turmoil of the journeying that it was the Sabbath. Endeavored to keep in a frame of mind suitable to the day. It was pleasant to see people going to or from church in the various villages through which we passed. The country a long the route pleasing and attractive and less rough and hilly than our route to Pittsburgh. Fine forests, farms and villages, the two latter looking thriving and prosperous, presenting quite a contrast to the worn out farms and half-decayed villages of Virginia and parts of Maryland. Some sections looked as if but recently settled or cleared as shown by the multitude of stumps visible in the fields and log cabins or farm houses of the owners. It was interesting to note here and there a deserted log cabin, and beside it oftentimes a fine framed mansion or dwelling surrounded with neat flower garden and shrubbery, showing that prosperity had been the lot of the occupant able to exchange his log cabin for a more commodious dwelling. The farmers were out in many sections commencing spring work. One could not help reflecting upon how often seeming opposite ends in life are moving on side by side, one party building up what the other is seeking to destroy. Thus the farmer is laboring to produce that which will sustain life, while we were whirling by him intent on
Arrived at Cincinnati at 8:30 PM. Were treated to a fine repast at one of the market houses of the city at near 1 o’clock, and then took ferry and crossed the Ohio River to Covington, Ky.
Camped the remainder of the night in the street. As it was quite cold we tore down some of the board fences and sundry coal bins, and built fires, and stretching out upon the sidewalk passed the remainder of the night quite comfortably. Snow squall early in the morning. Took a stroll about the city. It is quite a flourishing place, has many fine dwellings, a large number of iron works. Saw some car rails made of crude iron, ore “smelted” and prepared for use. Wrote letter to father and one for Florian Matz. In the afternoon we were moved and quartered in an open market house. The citizens brought us some coal, with which we built fires upon the brick floor, also brought us some straw for bedding, and were quite liberal in bring us various refreshments. There are a few “secesh” about the city. Four miles outside the city are breastworks, which were occupied by the rebels at the commencement of the war.
Left Covington at 11 AM and a ride of 60 miles on the Kentucky Central R.R. brought us to Paris. The route through a fine farming country, it seemed to me the best I ever saw. Rode upon top of cars, box freight cars were given us, and enjoyed the ride very much. Following the Licking River for a good share of the route, with the road twisting about quite fancifully with the bed of the stream, and our train of 29 cars at times presenting a novel appearance. It doubled up like the letter S. Fields were putting on fresh coverings of green and farmers were out busy at early spring work, presenting to us an animated and cheering scene. The fencing about most of the farms of rails, stones and rocks being scarce, and in this respect the country and farms presented quite a contrast to our rough uneven, and rocky soil of northern Kentucky. The farms much larger than any in Mass. acres upon acres of ploughed fields all apparently belonging to one farm were in view at once. Evidences began to multiply that we were getting into the southern country or “Dixie” again, as slaves here and there were to be seen at work upon the farms, and the farm buildings and villages seemed to have a less enterprising, thrifty look than those through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Groups of soldiers on guard duty at the various bridges and the block houses with an occasional piece of artillery at either end told us we were nearing the scene of war, and conflict again. Passed over several bridges, which had been twice burned by the rebels and later rebuilt by the railroad.
Camped for the night, some in the cars, and some in neighboring sheds, or on side of buildings or stone walls opposite the windward. Slept soundly beside a church building, in fact had the most peaceful night’s rest since leaving Newport News. At 9 AM moved into a field just outside the town and pitched tents and prepared for a stop of two or three days. At least we are told we may perhaps remain in quiet for that time, of which we shall be glad enough to get rested from our seven days of journeying. The journey has on the whole been quite pleasant, some unpleasant close packing in cars, but the pleasing views of the country and pleasant cheering greetings of the people along the route, at least until we came to KY, have more than made up for this. Thus soldier’s life has some bright and cheering experiences to balance those which are irksome and trying to patience and cheerfulness. The distance we have traveled from Newport News to this place is about 1,000 miles. Attended a prayer meeting in the Methodist Church of the town, had a pleasant meeting, filled to overflowing, large numbers of our soldiers present. At roll call tonight came orders to be ready to move at an early hour tomorrow.
Reveille at 4 AM and at 6 AM were ready to march. Were cautioned that we had a march of 22 miles for the day, and that we must make our knapsacks light as possible. Many of us accordingly disposed of sundry notions not absolutely needful to hard campaigning, and some of our extra winter clothing, giving or selling them to the citizens flocking about the camps. At 8 AM started for Mt. Sterling, 21st MA, 11th NH, a battery, a wagon train and our regiment composing the column. The route through a fine farming section. Had one or two squalls of snow during the day. Part of the way threw out “flanking Skirmishers” as a precaution against guerrillas, which have been plenty about the country here during the winter. Got to our camp spot for the night just outside the town at 7:30PM. Most of us were tired as we could be, many of us with feet badly blistered and legs chafed. Mine were so bad as to be very painful the last few miles, not more than quarter of the regiment went into camp together, the rest had straggled behind, but came up before morning. Made a cup of coffee, which seemed to me never tasted so good.
Slept soundly until after sunrise. Woke to find the ground glistening with a white frost and myself a little stiff from the march, but this soon wore off. At 9 AM marched about a mile to the other side of the town and went into camp. Laid out the camp according to rule, tents pitched double in parallel lines, wide company streets, officers’ tents in rear, etc. Are located in a delightful spot on a smooth grassy ridge or small table hill, amid a fine grove of oak, maple and black walnut. On either side of the hill flows a small brook. Good springs are near at hand and were allowed to get some wheat straw for bedding from a neighboring field. So we are pleasantly situated and to appearances are to remain for some time here doing picket duty, and ready as a reserve against any raid of the rebels into the state. Can hardly realize that I am in the center of KY 1300 miles from home. Feel very tired and glad that our journeying is over for a little at least.
Sabbath. Felt dull and sleepy and slept a good deal during the day. Had opportunity to attend church in the village, about a mile from camp, but felt too tired to go. Had our first dress parade since leaving Newport News. Feel I must be more systematic in prayer and study of God’s word would “I stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made me free.” Have been worldly in mind the past week, feel it has come from neglect of prayer and reading of God’s word. Have thought to excuse my neglect of these from the untoward circumstances of journeying. But feel that had my heart been right, “acknowledging God in all my ways”, need not have grown worldly or forgetful of Him. Must strive to cultivate more of that spirit which will be lifting up the heart to God in prayer amid the turmoil of earth’s cares and labors, and feel His presence to be ever about me.
Busy until 4 PM cleaning up the company street, gun and equipment, mending, fixing up tent, etc. Partly wrote letter to Abbie. Felt like myself today and feel near fully rested. Weather is raw and cold, absolutely chilly in tent with William Titcomb and John D. Cobb.
Finished letter of 16 pages to Abbie. Had our first company drill did not amount to much as we did not take much interest in it. From letters received learn that Abbie is at South Weymouth visiting. Hope the visit will tend to recruit her health.
Sergeant of picket, posted 1 1/2 miles from camp on a hill overlooking the town and the surrounding country. Our duty to see that all citizens going to or from the town have the proper “permits” from the military authorities, and that nothing which may be of aid or comfort to the enemy be allowed to pass unless properly accounted for. Had some interesting talks with some of the citizens and farmers of the neighborhood. They represent the people about here to be half-and-half, secesh and union. The farmers have to demean themselves with much circumspection. They regard slavery as good as dead, and that one of the ultimate results of the war will be its entire overthrow as an institution in the land. Some spoke of it as only an evil to the true development of the state. They gave sad accounts of the depredations of the rebel guerrillas in destroying property, even destroying household articles, furniture, mementos etc., articles of no hurt or help to their cause and which must have been destroyed through pure malignity. Raising stock: mules, horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs, the principal business of the farmers about. The town, Mt. Sterling, quite a pleasant place, has suffered much from a recent raid of the rebels in having some of its principal buildings, bank etc. burnt by them. Close by our post is a neat little cemetery, a peculiar feature of the lots in contrast to our Northern cemeteries, being the absence of any iron fencing, a simple border of box bush or other hedging and foot paths separating the lots from each other. This to me gave them a more open cheerful look, less rigid and prison like. Our duties on picket at this post not very irksome, as there is another line of posts in our front.
Came off picket at 10 AM. Felt dull and drowsy rest of day. Had many thoughts of the past, present and future of my life, of God’s goodness to me and of my ingratitude to Him. My life is not as earnest as it should be. Resolved to try and make it better for the future. Early spring flowers are blooming, trees leafing out, spring birds coming, so all about is bidding us to cheerfulness and telling of God’s goodness and love to us. All nature seems as full as ever of fresh new life, as if there was no such thing as war in the land.
Busy when at leisure from military duties in writing to Nellie. Had regiment inspection. Was not as fully prepared for it as I should have been. Need to remember that one of the first duties of the soldier is to keep his arms, tent etc. always in order, ready for inspection at any moment. Noticed workings of selfishness today.
Busy part of the day cleaning equipment. Felt drowsy. Think it in consequence in part of the warm weather. Took a stroll after dress parade to a neighboring wood, where had a profitable season of Bible study, meditation and prayer. Feel my Christian life is so far from what it should be, that I have not that quiet happiness that the Christian should enjoy, is privileged to enjoy, and always will enjoy when wholly walking with the Savior in heart and life. Have many petty habits of idleness, drowsiness and needless eating which I ought to overcome.
A lovely day. All nature is full of manifestations of God’s goodness. O may I realize more than I do His love in giving us His only Son to redeem us from sin and death is the strongest of all the proofs of His love for us. Had a good season of Bible study in Lamentations and of prayer in tent this morning. Attended Methodist Church in the village with a portion of the regiment. Had to take our guns and equipment with us, stacking our arms outside the church. Good discourse on the Resurrection of Christ. It seemed like home to be in a church building upon the Sabbath. Had plenty of visitors at our dress parade tonight, the music being quite an attraction. Many were slaves from the farms round about, three quarters of whom were mulattos, some almost white, indeed was astounded to find that some of the young ladies present were slaves, so little did they show of any of the African peculiarities in their dress or looks. This made me more than ever opposed to the system of slavery, and to detest with loathing a system which could thus brutalize humanity. In self examination felt the need of making my Christian life more aggressive, must try to have as one of my mainsprings of growth in grace, working for the good of others, their spiritual and temporal good. Need to pray that God will guide me into ways of doing good in army life.
Wrote letter to Benjamin.Boyden. At battalion drill today our Colonel spoke of the duty of all taking a hearty interest in the daily drills, and of doing our best. Had non-commissioned officers’ drill.
No drill yesterday, or this afternoon. Wrote letter to W. H. C. Signed payrolls today for 4 months pay. Need more system in spending leisure time. I feel that with the Bible in hand the Christian ought never to be at loss in the improvement of time.
Received our first mail today since leaving Newport News. A mail in camp is always joyfully welcomed, today was especially so after having been without one for near three weeks, and called forth all sorts of demonstrations of joy and greeting. Received a letter from Abbie. Just after dress parade came orders to pack up and be ready to march. Were kept in waiting until 8 p.m. when we were allowed to turn in.
Routed 1:30 AM, struck tents and after lounging about our bonfires of camp debris, were at last got under way at near daylight. Marched 18 miles through a splendid farming country. The soil seems to me must be very rich for grass grows luxuriantly in all the pastures, and they seem entirely free from bushes and scrubs so common in our Northern pasture lands. Many of these pastures have extensive groves of maple and black walnut, which are free from underbrush or shrubs and produce fine feeding for our stock. Camped near Winchester, upon a delightful spot something similar to that we left at Mt. Sterling. The weather was quite warm and we were a good deal tired.
A fine day, being warm as June at home. Busy most of day fixing tent. Had a good bath in a neighboring brook. Did some mending. Regiment paid off today. This is the first pay I have drawn and was paid in full to March 1st. The sutler came to regiment today and money is flying about liberally.
Sabbath. Wrote letter to Carrie. Neglected prayer and study of God’s work until towards noon. Went with a squad from the regiment to town to attend church in afternoon, Captain Hudson going with us. Found there were no services in afternoon, so had to come home with only a slight ducking in the rain for our trip.
Wrote letter to Abbie. Delightful weather, in fact the weather in Kentucky thus far has been very pleasant, no cold East storms as at home, rains from the South in steady showers. Have steady drills each day. Guard mounting each day by company. Skirmish and battalion drills in afternoon and company drills in forenoon.
Had ambrotype taken and sent home. Notice the workings of pride and vain thoughts when engaged in labor or actions necessarily attracting the notice of others. O how much do I need a humble spirit of disinterestedness in the discharge of duty.
Heavy rains last night. Drill from 10 to 11AM and from 2 to 4 PM. Dress parade was at 6 PM and guard mounting at 9 AM. Caused myself much unhappiness by a spirit of jealousy, imagining that others were getting more honor or applause than myself. Must strive more to do duty for its own inherent usefulness and right, because it is duty and right, and not because it will bring me honor or applause from man. Ought to ever feel that God sees me always and that to Him I am accountable, that He requireth truth in the inward parts and that I ought to do all as pleasing Him and not man alone. Ought to strive always to do my best and if others are able to do better, ought not to be envious in the least, rather let it lead me to humility.
Wrote letter to Nellie. Received letter from Abbie. I am in tent with John W. Fiske, John D. Cobb, William M. Titcomb.
Summoned as a witness against Peter Curran of our company on charge of insulting our Lt. while partially intoxicated in Baltimore, March 27th. A sorry task, as he has an interesting family at home. Think his punishment will be light as this is his first offence or misdemeanor while in the service. Wasted much time waiting for the court martial at the courthouse in the town. Need system so as to have means to improve all leisure time profitably. Had interesting conversation with one of the citizens. He said that the majority of the people of Kentucky were opposed to the Emancipation Proclamation. He thought slavery wrong and that Kentucky would be better off if the slaves were free. But that as a whole to free them now would rather be to their injury, than good, and there would be many aged and crippled that would not be so well provided for as now. He thought that emancipation to be beneficial to the slaves should be gradual so they might be taught to depend upon themselves and to be economical and industrious.
Busy in forenoon cleaning up gun and equipment, washing, etc. Spent most of the afternoon in reading. Received letters from Abbie and Nellie. Glad to hear from them, first letters since leaving Newport News. Glad to hear that brother Ronnie was doing so well at his apprenticeship, likes and is liked by his employer. Sorry to learn of his attending the Universalist Church, as I fear he will be led to a light esteem of the duty of living a Christian life and of the foundation thereof, “Repentance towards God and faith on our Lord Jesus Christ.” O that I had more of a wrestling, believing, spirit of prayer for him and my parents, brothers and sisters. Went to my place of prayer in a neighboring wood and had season of prayer appropriate to the coming Sabbath.
Not well last night with diarrhea. Woke feeling dull and languid. Went to Methodist Church in the town with a number from the regiment. Had a delightful service with Chaplains of the 51st PA and 11th NH officiating. The discourse upon being born again, very clear and earnest especially in explaining that being born again meant not only an outward profession, but the bringing of every capacity and affection into loving obedience to Christ as our lawgiver and pattern. Feel that my spiritual affections are dull and cold. Went to prayer place and had a pleasant season of prayer and study of God’s word. The scene tonight was lovely and enchanting, with all nature at work putting on a fresh life of grass and foliage. The sir calm and still and the setting sun threw a lovely hale over wood and field, and all seemed to tell in trumpet tones of the goodness of God and His bounty to man. O how wicked and ungrateful at such times does it seem to aim against Him and the conscience feel that “the goodness of God leadeth to repentance.”
Sergeant of the guard. Must strive more to have my whole mind and heart in the performance of military duty if I would prevent hesitancy and mistakes in drill.
Company drill under Sergeant John W.Fiske. No drill yesterday and improved leisure time in newspaper reading. Sisters and others had kept me in a good stock of them.
National fast day. Not observed in our brigade as seems to me it should be. No evidence was shown during the day by any of the officers that they felt the nation had need to humble itself before God and seek His guidance in these days of darkness and doubt, or that we are dependant upon His mercy and blessing for victory and peace. Had a grand review of the brigade in a field near the village. Was witnessed by quite a gathering of the citizens from the town and vicinity. Some of the regiment officers did not give quite as strict attention as they might to the orders given, which must displeased our Colonel who on arrival back to camp gave them some sharp rebukes, telling them he wanted their whole mind on their duties at drill hours.
Most sick with diarrhea the past two days. Far from well today, no appetite and not able for duty. At dress parade came orders to march tomorrow at 7:30 AM. Received letter from Carrie.
Brigade and battery on the march promptly at 7:30AM. Felt weak in the morning and little like marching, but after hobbling along a few miles began to feel better and at the end of the march felt quite well, saving fatigue. Received letter from L.A.Tisdale asking about the health of her brother. Our march today through a fine farming country, crops of wheat and flax looking finely, the pasture lands alive with cattle, sheep, pigs and mules. Passed one farm containing 5000 acres. Hardly got into camp ere a heavy thunder shower came up wetting us considerably as we had no time to put up tents. Made about 13 miles.
On the march at 7:30 AM. Rained near all the forenoon, thus got a pretty good ducking. Passed through Lexington, a fine city with some fine dwellings and orchards adorning its suburbs. Made about 13 miles and camped at a place called Providence, a church, schoolhouse and one dwelling making the village. Sun out in afternoon drying us off nicely. Received blank book from Nellie. Feet badly blistered at end of the march.
Marched at 7 AM. through Nicholasville, across the Kentucky River at Hickman. Made about 17 miles and camped on a rough rocky side hill. Began to rain just as we got to camp, giving us a ducking while putting up tents. Supper was of raw pork and hardtack. The scenery along where we crossed the Kentucky River was very fine, grand and stirring. The road to and from the river winding along precipices of rock, one side of the road presenting a perpendicular rampart of rock and the other a steep embankment, the rock some of the way from 50 to 75 feet high. Wild flowers were blooming in the clefts of the rocks overhanging the road, adding beauty to the boldness of the scenery. The river seemed to have cut its way through solid rock.
Still cold and rainy. A few turned out early and made coffee, but most kept in their tents making a breakfast of raw pork and hardtack, and hoping we would not have to march until good weather. But ere long came the bugle call and we were soon tramping through the mud and rain. Passed through Camp Dick Robinson and through Lancaster, made fourteen miles and camped.
Marched about mine miles to Point Leick, and camped. Were told we should stay here for sometime and laid out camp ground “a la military.”
Busy near all day washing and cleaning up, fixing up tent and getting ready for tomorrow’s inspection.
Just as we woke up came orders to pack up and march, so away went my hopes of a quiet Sabbath in a fine shady camp. Marched back to the camp spot we left Friday morning, near Lancaster. Had plenty of straw from a neighboring wheat field for bedding. Received letters from Abbie, Carrie, and Benjamin Boyden. Wrote letter to Miss L.A.Tisdale concerning the health of her brother. Have felt worldly in mind. O that my heart were in more constant communion with God, so that I might feel His presence about me amid the turmoil of marching upon the Sabbath.
Today a thorough inspection of the regiment was conducted by our Lt. Colonel. He gave out a new program of daily duty and discipline, which some of us regard as most too strict, but as it is strictly military, suppose it is but right to submit to it. Many regard the order that no cooking shall be done except by the company cooks as arbitrary and unreasonable. I am glad of the order that no swearing shall be allowed and hope it may be really enforced.
Brigade inspection. Knapsack drill in forenoon was quite amusing. Wrote letter to Nellie.
Went to town and got watch repaired. The town of Lancaster presents rather a dilapidated appearance. The number of stores and other buildings closed give evidence that the war is having a bad effect upon the business of the place. Spoke in a spirit of evil surmising to one of my tent mates. Had a little conversation with John L. Smith upon religious matters. O how much do I need to remember the words of our Savior “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”, in all my social life would I be instrumental in learning to Him and bringing souls from sin into holiness through Him.
Good company and battalion drills today. Battalion drill was forming squares to resist cavalry. Orders to be ready to move in a moment’s notice with three days rations. The News shows that General Hooker has been badly repulsed at Chancellorsville. Feel more than ever that a long war is yet before us.
Sabbath. A fine day with inspection in morning. Attended church in forenoon at the village. Chaplain of the 12th RI officiating. Had very interesting discourse from the text “Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Had a good season of reading in afternoon. Attended dress parade and evening services of the 12th RI, the evening religious service was instructive and pleasing, the regiment drawn up in a hollow square. Was sorry to learn of the resignation on account of ill health of the Chaplain of the 11th NH, M. K. Stratton, one of the most efficient chaplains I have seen in the army.
N.C.O. drill in forenoon. Just after dinner while we were lounging about and some napping in their tents came orders to pack up and be ready to march immediately. Did so and fell in line ready to move. Our Colonel then told us the order had been countermanded, that all he wanted was to see how promptly we could get ready to move, complimented us for our promptness, we having got out on the line in 20 minutes. Changed our camp ground to a better location on the same field. Had a tooth pulled.
Busy in forenoon cleaning up campground, the whole regiment at work, digging up stumps, clearing up brush, etc. Wrote letter to Abbie. Had feelings of jealousy in heart today. Had a fear of man or sensitivity as to what others may say of me. Ought to do the best at all times my circumstances will allow, heartily as unto God and let the consequences be with God. Ought not in anywise to desire position or station for the sake of honor or applause from man. Have much false pride and must try and overcome it by cultivating its opposite, humility.
Sergeant of guard today. Wrote letter to Ronnie. Wasted much time through a lazy spirit. Sergeant Samuel Patch left for home on a 15-day furlough. First man from our company to go on furlough since leaving Massachusetts. Orders tonight to be ready to move tomorrow at 6:30 AM.
Marched at 6:30AM. Made ten miles and camped near Dicks River. Weather very warm and roads dusty, so that we were well begrimed with sweat and dust. Had a grand wash and swim in the river after getting to camp. Colonel Harriman of the 11th NH is commanding the Brigade. Near where we are camped a farmer lives who says nearly all the people of this section, especially the wealthy, are in heart good rebels, but put on Union sentiments and manifestations as our Union troops came about. He seemed to talk like a true Union man. Nearby lives a widow, whose husband and two sons, were hung by Morgan and his men after having fought them until their ammunition gave out. Oh how many such and unwritten scenes is this war producing. Hope we shall not have to march tomorrow. Have a poor and rough camp spot, scarce a smooth spot to lie upon.
Sabbath. Very warm and felt tired and drowsy most of the day. Took stroll out into the country near the camp. Came across a series of salt springs from which medicinal salts are manufactured. Upon a hill near our camp was a tomb, standing in a bare field, built of rough stones and covered over with straw and dirt. Through a hole I saw it contained a large coffin; the builder must have a curious taste to place a tomb in such a place and build so poorly. Went to neighboring wood and had a pleasant season of meditation and prayer at sunset. Took part in a prayer meeting held at camp of 11th NH.
Marched at 8 AM., about 1 1/2 miles and camped just beyond the town of Crab Orchard. Put up our tents and busied ourselves fixing up for a permanent stay, when at 5 PM came orders to march at 7, rather vexing, but fretting does no good. Marched 13 miles, hard marching on account of the dust. Never saw it worse, almost choking us. Camped just beyond the town of Stanford.
Woke to find we had bivouacked in a fine grove, with smooth grassy surface. Put up out tents and laid out camp “a la military.” Had a good wash all over in a brook nearby. Had a good nap in afternoon. Trouble between our Lt. and one of the men last night, caused much ill feeling among the company towards the Lt. Both were to blame in the matter, the Lt. for exercising an arbitrary spirit, and the man for want of proper respect to his superior. The man was punished by having to do two days fatigue and guard duty. This is the common method of punishment for light misdemeanors.
Commenced drill today. Brigade drill in afternoon under Colonel Harriman. Misspent much time in reading silly love stories. Must be more watchful to have means at hand to improve leisure moments to advantage.
Rainy in afternoon. Sergeant of guard today. Guard taken off in afternoon. Had pleasant conversation with agent of tract society.
Received papers from Benjamin Boyden. and Nellie. Very glad of them as have been short of reading matter. Drill today in learning skirmish calls from bugle. Washed clothes. Think it would be a good plan to take a bath every day.
The Sabbath. Last day of another month. The past month has in the main been pleasant and far too barren of spiritual progress. Guard mounting this morning. Attended church at the village. Quite a clear and truthful sermon by the Presbyterian pastor of the town, from the text “Other foundation hath no man laid than that is laid etc.” There are three churches in the village, two of the church buildings used by the government for storage. It was sad to see this and to see the streets of the place crowded with army supply trains on this Sabbath day. Felt drowsy in afternoon.
A lovely day. Skirmish drill in forenoon and afternoon. Felt neuralgia in face all day. At dress parade came orders to dispense with all clothing except woolen and rubber blankets, tents, and one change of underclothing and to have room in knapsacks for five days’ rations. Our extra clothing to be sent to Hickman’s Bridge. This looks as if some long marching was before us. Received a letter from Carrie, very welcome. She writes of being appointed overseer in the shop where she works. Orders given out that no extra teams shall be allowed for the carrying of knapsacks, and that no soldier shall hire any while on the march for that purpose. It has been the practice among us to hire private teams of the farmers along our routes and get our knapsacks carried.
Sergeant of guard today. Partly wrote letter to Carrie. Skirmish drill by the regiment. At PM came orders to pack up and march. Marched at 6:30PM with three days rations. The order took up by surprise and reports say we are to march to Nicholasville. All sorts of prophesies as to our ultimate destination are rife. Most of us think we are to go to Vicksburg where General Grant is now hard at work trying to capture that place. Had a fine moonlight night and the roads in fine condition, for marching. Made 16 miles and camped at near one o’clock.
Reveille at 5:30AM. Marched at 6:30 AM. Are now marching over the same ground over which we marched from Winchester to Lancaster. It was very dusty while marching and quite warm. Halted for dinner at Hickman’s Bridge. Arrived at Nicholasville at 4:30PM very tired. Nicholasville seems quite a smart town. Large quantities of government stores and supplies center here. Were put on board box freight cars at 10 PM. and soon were en route for Covington as our next halting place. Stretched myself out upon the floor of the car and slept soundly all night.
Arrived at Covington at 8 AM. Crossed by ferry to Cincinnati. Stopped in the city until near 5 PM. And had a good dinner provided us by the city. Had quite a chance to view the city. Liked its appearance very much, has some fine buildings all of which seemed to have a fresh and lively appearance, coming I suppose from their having been recently built. Was sorry to see whiskey shops so numerous, many of the regiment imbibed far too freely, much to the discredit of the regiment. Went with Lt. Pope and a squad of men patrolling among the whiskey shops for “stragglers.” Many citizens, formerly residents of the Eastern States visited the regiment. Had a few minutes pleasant conversation with Mr. Clarke of Dayton, Ohio., who formerly lived in Dedham. Our company was treated to a couple boxes of oranges from another ex-Dedham resident, Mr. Hunnewell. They were most heartily received. Wrote letter for Isaac Collier to his wife, he was suddenly taken sick and transferred to the Marine Hospital in the city. At near 6:30 PM were on board cars once again, on the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad and en route for Cairo, IL, as our next halting place. Were closely packed, 50 to a car, so there was scarce any chance to sleep or rest. Added to the unpleasantness of being thus crowded, was the pleasure of enduring the mad freaks and hilarity of some half dozen or more in each car of crazy headed ones from the influence of liquor, so that for a while it was in reality “confusion worse confounded.” It is pretty evident we now go to Vicksburg. Our stay in Kentucky has been very pleasant, some severe marching, yet we have been undisturbed by hostile foe. Probably the majority of the men would prefer such service rather than that we shall be likely to see down about Vicksburg. Yet I sometimes feel as if in such service we were doing but little in crushing the rebellion. If our going to Vicksburg will place us where we can be more useful to this end, we ought to be cheerfully willing to go there even though it bring us to the stern realities of battle. May God aid us to meet patiently and courageously the sterner scenes of war, which seem now to be in store for us. Accounts of the progress of the conflict about Vicksburg represent that our troops are having a hard time of it, suffering much from severe labors in besieging the city, and from sickness. Many of us will undoubtedly be laid by, no more to return to our Northern homes. Dread to write to my folks informing them of our move and destination.
Today have been steaming along through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Leaving Cincinnati our route for quite a distance lay along the Ohio River, through prosperous villages and a thriving farming country. Rode upon the top of the car until dark and enjoyed the scenery very much. At every village the citizens were out “en masse” to welcome us on, the young ladies quite liberal in bestowing of flowers upon us so that we were quite fancifully decorated with them. The old and young were full of hearty cheers for us, this was truly refreshing after our cold and indifferent treatment we have received in the villages of Kentucky. Made out to sleep about half the night, after a fashion, anything but refreshing. The forepart of the night was anything but quiet with us on account of the crazy headedness of a few whiskey guzzlers. In Seymour, IN at 2:30 AM had some hot coffee and crackers. At Vincennes, IN on the banks of the Wabash River we were treated again to some hot coffee and other refreshments. Barrels of ice water were at the depots for us from which we filled our canteens. Crossing the Wabash we were in Illinois. Here we could see Western life in its every variety. Log houses were scattered along the route, villages more or less prosperous, nearly all having schoolhouses and churches and presenting in this respect a pleasing contrast to the villages of Kentucky. Occasionally a church or school building could be seen but partly finished, and seeming to tell that the war was having a depressing effect upon the material prosperity of the village. The people were out as in Ohio to greet us with cheers, flowers and banners. Passed over large sections of prairie land, which to us used to the hills and rocks of New England presented a novel appearance. All around as far as the eye could reach seemed one ocean of plains. Dotted here and there with villages and interspersed with cultivated tracts and tracts where nothing but a wild prairie grass was in growth, which was interspersed with a variety of wild flowers giving it a pleasing appearance. As we drew near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi and Illinois Central railroads, the land grew richer, and the farms more numerous and as thriving as heart could wish. Changed cars at Sandoval for Cairo. Previous to our re-embarking our Colonel gave us a short season of battalion drill, his object he said to “rest us and stretch our limbs a little after our long ride”, this was not much liked by the men who made blunders innumerable some on purpose.
Passed the night very uncomfortably, were much crowded, and noise and confusion abundant of which it may be said “Whiskey done it.” Arrived at Cairo at 8 AM. Pitched our tents upon the sand on the bank of the Ohio. Took a good scrub in the river. Wrote a letter to Abbie and Carrie, after which slept rest of day. Could hardly realize it to be the Sabbath, or that I was really in sight of the MS, and of the shores of KY, Ill., and MO., such has been the whirl and excitement of our journeying from Ky.
Strolled about the town the forepart of the day. Find it quite a business place and full of small hotels and liquor shops; a low, swampy, mud hole sort of a place, its business derived from its being a terminus of the Illinois Central Railroad and a depot of merchandise sent south by steamer. It has scarce any pleasing or suburban residences. Embarked on board steamer Imperial at 5:30PM and got underway at about sunset en route for the vicinity of Vicksburg, as our next halting place. It was a lively and interesting sight to witness the loading of the steamer, the packing of the men, horses, baggage etc., all seeming to be in a state of inextricable confusion, yet at the last to find all on board in seeming order though closely packed. The 11th NH and U.S. Battery, with our regiment composed the cargo. The scenery as we steamed out of the Ohio into the Mississippi was pleasing, the change from riding in boxcars to the open decks of a steamer was most agreeable. We have a large boat, high decks so we have plenty of air and on the whole are comfortably off for room.
Got on to a sand bar at near 10 last night and did not get off until near daylight this morning. Had a good night’s rest saving being routed to go “aft” so as to lighten the bow. Our regiment occupies the upper deck so we are out in the open air. Received two papers from Benjamin.Boyden, very glad for them, as they will help me in spending some of the dull hours of boat sailing or steam boating. Got a ducking from a shower this afternoon. Nothing of much note for scenery as yet. Can hardly realize that I am steaming down “The Father of Waters.” Passed “Island No. 10”, nothing remarkable in its appearance, yet one cannot help regarding it somewhat particularly in view of the scenes which have been enacted upon it. Remains of the rebel rifle pits are yet to be seen; stretching round through the swamp can be traced the route through which Commodore Foote piloted his “mosquito” boats and thus flanked the rebels from the Island. Have passed but one town as yet, viz. Hickman. Low wooded lands make up the scenery of the riverbanks, here and there a log cabin or settlement of “loggers” engaged in cutting and supplying wood for the steamers. Stopped quite a while at one of these places to wood up.
Heavy thunder shower last night giving those of us who were on the deck a good soaking. Our boat got stuck again this morning, but with aid of two steamers was soon off again. Shower again in afternoon. Wrote letter to Nellie. Arrived at Memphis at 6 PM. Were not allowed to go on shore. Peddlers of cakes, fruits, pies, etc., were plenty, but a few, however, were allowed to come on board. The 11th NH had just been paid, so they were profuse in patronage of the peddlers. It was amusing to witness their eagerness, crowding around the peddlers, pushing and hauling and nearly suffocating the pie merchants, most of whom, were women. Cooks went ashore and cooked three days rations.
Had a good night rest. Our regiment paid off during the night, our company. at about 3 AM this morning. Are allowed to go on shore today, and greenbacks are distributed freely over the city in exchange for pies, cakes, bread, fruits, cheese, butter and notions. Our whole 9th Corps has arrived and the different boats are busy being loaded with coal. Took a stroll about the city. Found it more of a place than I imagined. Stands upon a bluff overlooking the river. It contains some 40,000 inhabitants, has fine wide streets, destitute of pavements, has some fine commercial buildings which are occupied with fine stocks of goods, some however, are closed showing that the war is having its effects upon the business of the place. A large cotton trade used to center here, but now amounts to nothing. A few bales along the landings confiscated from the interior by the government are to be seen. Has quite a pretty little park finely ornamented with shade trees, among them some fine Magnolias, which has a fine large white blossom. It has a fine bust of Jackson upon a pedestal. Some of the inscriptions upon it have been partially defaced by the rebels. The Union loving sentiments expressed probably smiting or disturbing their consciences. Took a bath in the river and came near getting drowned out in the current. I was almost unable to get in shore again. Some of our men as usual got under the influence of liquor or behaved badly. Have some doubts whether my having been free in expressing my condemnations of liquor drinking has been for good. As today, some of those who were inebriated seemed to have a special malice against those of us who have been free in speaking against the use of liquor. Need to be more watchful that what I say be spoken in love or humility.
Our fleet of 11 steamers got underway at sunrise this morning. Just below Memphis passes wrecks of rebel gunboats sunk during the attack on the place a year or more ago. The scenery below Memphis nearly the same as above it. Here and there a plantation can be seen stretching along the rive bank. The dwellings of the planters seem a hundred years behind the age in style and convenience. They have little about them that is attractive. Many of them mere one-story buildings unpainted. Adjoining them could be seen the log cabins of the slaves standing in rows close together. The day has been quite warm-have made out to shelter ourselves somewhat from the sun by using our tents or blankets. Got asleep today in the sun, which is very weakening. Must be more cautious about this if I would keep my health. The scene of the starting of our fleet was novel and lively music by various bands on one steamer was provided with a “calliope” which added its melody to that of the bands. Each steamer was crowded with men and batteries and stores, each had its guard on the hurricane deck, or some a section of a battery ready as guard against guerrillas, whose reports say are ready to pounce upon any unarmed steamer. Card playing or novel reading the principle methods of spending the time among most of the men. Have found some good reading with which to pass the time. Hauled up opposite Napoleon, Arkansas for the night and sent a picket on shore for the night.
Napoleon is the neatest appearing town I have seen on the river thus far. The houses nearly all neatly painted and are in good trim. Nearly all the plantations we have passed since leaving Memphis have a forsaken lookout of a dozen we have passed today but one showed any signs of being inhabited. Passed many plantations which presented naught but ruins-the bare blackened chimneys crisped and blackened shrubbery showing that fire had done its work upon the buildings. Many of them were destroyed by the government because they were used as hiding places or rendezvous for guerrilla bands. Passed one good size town, which made a show of but four inhabitants. All the stores and places of business seemed to be closed. Noticed this to be a feature in all the towns we passed. The scenery has become more interesting. The banks are more abrupt, with the land rising in gentle hills back from the river. Passed many dense swamps of cypress, which with the dense undergrowth presented a pretty appearance. Have been under convoy of gunboats most of the day. Partly wrote a letter to Abbie. Stopped quite a while at Helena, AK in afternoon.
Sabbath. Hauled up opposite Milikens Bend for the night. Steamed down to Goungs Point this morning where the Corps landed at a rough swampy sort of a place with a steep bank leading from the river. Our company detailed to unload baggage and stores, a hard two hours job amid a broiling noonday sun. All about us is clamor and confusion, baggage and stores piled upon the bank-men hurrying and bustling about putting up tents. The puffing of the steamboats and neighing of mules and horses makes a lively scene. Our regiment quartered close by the famous “cut off” or would be “cut off” from Vicksburg, an excavation dug by General Grant, to turn the stream of the Mississippi, or a portion of it so as to flank the rebel batteries at Vicksburg. Vicksburg lies in plain sight, the rebel rifle pits and batteries in view with aid of a glass. Just below us, some of our mortar boats are hard at work shelling the city, working at it night and day. It is a lively sight to witness the shells as they leave the mortars and whiz their way or drop into the doomed city, their tracks illuminated by the burning fuse. It has been hard to realize it to be the Sabbath, amid the new scenes, the toil and labor incident to disembarking, cleaning up and the booming of the mortar boats as they send their dire missiles. Could not but feel sad at the contrast between such scenes, and the peaceful Sabbath enjoyed by loved ones at home. Finished letter to Abbie. Felt dull in mind.
Routed a little before daylight. Five days rations were given out. Marched at near 6 AM with four miles over a part corduroy and part plank road through a dense and luxuriant swamp across the peninsula lying opposite Vicksburg-to the river again. Waited until 1 PM and were then placed on board Steamer Forest Queen with orders to cross the river and march to the rear of Vicksburg, but just as we had embarked and a battery partly loaded, came orders to disembark and wait for further orders. Bivouacked in a wood on the riverbank. Around us were quartered a large motley collection of contraband Negroes of all classes and sexes presenting a sad and mournful spectacle of destitution and wretchedness. Most of them living in shelters made of fine boughs and underbrush. Yet despite their discomforts most of them seemed cheerful and happy-doubtless rejoicing in the freedom now before them. May God pity this class of sufferers from the war and overrule their emancipation from slaving so that their freedom shall be a blessing to themselves and the nation. A little distance from us was the encampments of some Negro recruits. Many of our men exercise a foolish prejudice against Negro troops and indulge in a petty persecution towards them, which makes one indignant to witness. The Negroes bear this patiently and set us a noble example in that respect. Vicksburg lies in plain sight. Cannon and mortars are thundering away at it without intermission by night or day. We are expecting daily to hear of the surrender of the city. At 6 PM came prospect of a shower leading us to put up tents in hot haste. Just got them up when orders came to pack and move. Marched at about dark, back to the spot we left in the morning. Hard marching in the dark, as the way was a rough half made corduroy full of slough holes, ditches and banks of earth making it anything but pleasant stumbling along in the dark. Our return march was illuminated by flashes of lightning, and the flash of an occasional bursting shell from our mortars-reverberations of thunder, and our mortars mingling together, making the scene grand and stirring. Such marching and counter marching without any apparent result, add but little rather detract from the patience and good nature of the men. Could not help feeling a little cross, but suppose such movements must be expected in war; and the less fretting indulged the better.
The left wing of our regiment had the job of reloading baggage and stores upon the boat. At 11 AM on steamer again. Our whole corps on the move again, en route for the Yazoo River. Did not get underway until 3 PM. Thus seemingly our landing and movements at this point have been for naught-doubtless could we of the rank and file know all the circumstances calling for such movements we should see all was designed for the best and at the time needful. Landed at Snyders bluff on the Yazoo, or rather hauled up preparatory to landing. Snyders bluff was once a strongly fortified position in the hands of the rebels, but was taken from them by Sherman. Went ashore to view the ruined fortifications. Dismantled breastworks, redoubts, trenches, spiked siege guns, half burnt gun carriages, all sorts of odds and ends of accouterments, pieces of shell, solid shot, all were in promiscuous confusion. Stayed on board of steamer during the night. Rained just as we turned in, but managed to sleep quite comfortable beneath my rubber blanket though on the upper deck.
Disembarked at about 8 AM. Had to climb a steep bank amid mud near ankle deep, making it so slippery that one could scarce stand up. Amusing scenes occurred in getting the baggage up the ascent, often times a package would be got partially up when a grand slide backwards would take place-it was anything but easy work to roll barrels of pork, bacon etc. up the bank. Marched about two miles and camped. Passed numerous camps of Western troops. Some of the men seem to hint that we, the 9th Corps, were not needed to help at the siege, and showed a bit of jealousy toward us.
Have quite a good campground, much better than I expected to find anywhere in the vicinity of Vicksburg. Imagined it to be most all swampy land, but the land for quite a stretch about us is quite hilly, sharp ridges and deep valleys commingling. Good springs about some 1/4 of a mile from camp. Patches of cane breaks abound, some of them so thick with canes as to make it hard getting through them. Blackberries are abundant in the woods and open lands, are not fairly ripe yet. A sort of wild plum also abounds. Snakes, lizards, and insects are more numerous than agreeable. The foliage is very dense. Magnolia and other trees are in full bloom, which with a rich profusion of wild flowers give the woods a rich and charming appearance. Weather very warm during the middle of the day but cool nights with heavy dews. Broke my watch carelessly. Need more watchfulness and system in taking care of my personal effects. Had a pair of shoes and a shelter tent stolen from me while on steamer. One has to be constantly on the watch against thieves, and when turning in for the night to tie his effects about him in such a way that they cannot well be taken without his being waked. Some soldiers make a practice of throwing away some of their effects on the march to get rid of lugging them and then replace them by stealing from their comrades. We are on ground formerly occupied by the rebels, and fragments of their camp arrangements were strewn plentifully about. Tent pieces and some harness were found hid in the woods.
Very warm. Partly wrote letter to Benjamin Boyden. Took a bath at nightfall. Find the weather rather trying to my spirit of patience and content. Had rather homesick feeling. We are in the most out of the world sort of a place it has been our lot to get into. A few deserted plantations are all the signs of civilization.
Have a great need to cultivate a spirit of making the best of everything so that I may say with the apostle that in whatever state I am therewith to be content.
Sabbath. Had a short season of bible study in the morning. Have had diarrhea for the past two days. Helped put a floor in our mess tent, which a good share of the forenoon. I opposed the doing of it today, but tent mates went about it and were anxious for me to help in the matter. Have some doubts of its being right. Had much of a spirit of pride in thinking myself better than others in the matter of keeping the Sabbath. How does pride constantly break out? Need to watch and pray God will give me or aid me to cultivate a humble spirit. Wrote letter Benjamin Boyden. Went into back of camp, and had a season of bible study, prayer and meditation. Sweet to get away alone from the turmoil of the camp and meditate on God’s goodness and study his will as given in his word. Had many pleasant imaginings of the doings of loved ones at home. Found much counsel and comfort in studying the 12th of Hebrews.
Wrote letter to Nellie. The N.C.O.s of the company received instructions from Lt. Albert Pope today. He told us to be more earnest in using our authority, to be more careful to set a good example before the men in all that pertains to soldier life, and that hereafter we must salute every officer as we meet them. Took bath at nightfall. Have received no mail since leaving Memphis, miss it much, many feel sort of homesick.
Wrote letter to Abbie. Removed our camp spot about 1 and 1/2 miles to a spot in the rear of our entrenchment. Nearly all the regiment out digging trenches today. Owing to some negligence or misunderstanding of the cooks, coffee was not in readiness at the time the men started, so they had to go to their work without it. With soldiers, coffee is almost our idol and therefore there was some sharp grumbling about the loss of it this morning. Made some harsh remarks about the cooks which I regretted afterwards which taught me I have need to be more guarded in speaking about the conduct or business of others.
Busy most of the day fixing tent. “Our mess” has concluded to divide our quarters. John L. Smith and John W. Fiske will mess together. John D. Cobb. alone and William M. Titcomb and myself are together. Spoke a little unkindly to William M. Titcomb. Need to be more watchful to speak in love.
Routed at 4:30AM. Our company to work digging trenches, and soon as coffee was swallowed marched to our task. Very warm causing us to sweat profusely. Were not drove very hard working every other hour or in two reliefs. Some “played off” working scarce any during the day some merely making believe and others skidadling out of sight. Neglected prayer, as a special act, so hurried in the morning and tired at night. Still feel that if I had been truly thirsty for communion with God I could have found time for a short season of secret prayer.
Lazy and drowsy all day and did literally almost nothing.
Most of the regiment out digging. Cleaned gun and equipment. Spent the afternoon in reading in a shady spot near to camp. Our campground is situated at the foot of a wooded hill, at the top of which cool shady spots invite us to leave our stifled tents and pass our leisure hours where neither mosquitoes nor flies molest. Occasional breezes cool the fierce rays of the sun.
Sabbath. Had a poor night rest owing to the heat. Have had a good season of Bible study, meditation and reading of familiar hymns. Felt a little homesick as I thought of a peaceful Sabbath at home. At such times how refreshing are the promises of God and how cheering to read over some of the familiar hymns used in our home churches. Traveled quite a distance to a retired spot and at sunset had a pleasant season of prayer-was near a deserted and half-ruined dwelling and barn. Noticed today the workings of jealousy showing itself in a fear that others are slighting me. O for a humble heart always at work for God and always seeking to grow into the image of Jesus in all things. Then would all anxiety for the good opinion of man pass away and there be no room in my heart for pride to work.
Reveille at 4:30AM. At 5:30 marched to the trenches and were soon at work. Soon came orders to return to camp. At 10 AM came orders to pack and march. Marched near 16 miles towards the Big Black River and camped near Me. Calles estate so called. A severe day for marching. Dust and heat almost unendurable. Some cases of sun stroke. Our route interspersed with sharp hills-water scarce making the heat still more intolerable. Cut my blanket and threw away a part of it thus lightening my load. Got through the march well. Ought to be more thankful for the good health and strength God is giving me.
Camp is laid out according to military. Worked near half of the day fixing up a bunk, made it so poorly that it soon fell down making me fretful and cross. Pork and hard tacks our ration now interspersed with a little desiccated vegetables, and had a little summer squash extra today. Near us are some Illinois and Iowa troops. They are quite careless negligent in drill, rather inciting our merriment. Yet they have good record of faithful and valorous service especially in the late battle before Vicksburg. They say that General Grant in his late march through Mississippi supplied his troops by foraging alone. They carry but little baggage, scarce any knapsacks, and no tents a good part of the time, sheltering themselves when in camp with bough houses shanties made from rails and sheds and barns torn down for the purpose.