Friday, June 24, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: March 27, 1862

At 2 a. m. went on deck, fearful sight, thunder, lightning and rain, wind blowing almost a hurricane, sea roaring and waves running nearly mountain high. At 3 a. m. Michael Dobson died, it was said, of delirium tremens. His berth being near mine, of course I tried to compose his limbs and features for burial, but while doing so the ship gave a tremendous lurch almost sending her on to her beam ends. The dead body of poor Dobson was flung out of his berth, and I found myself lodged against a row of berths in the center of the deck. I got the body back with the assistance of another soldier, and at daylight the wind ceased. Dobson's funeral was at 9 o'clock. The body was sewed up in sail cloth with bags of sand at the feet, placed on a plank shrouded in the U. S. flag and balanced across the rail. The chaplain read the beautiful burial service of the Episcopal church, the inner end of the plank was raised, and the body slid off into the deep. I remembered the words in Revelations, “And the sea gave up the dead that were in it.” From this time on nothing of importance occurred worth relating for several days. We were south of the latitude of Charleston going round the peninsula of Florida, and much of the time we were becalmed, the sea being smooth as a mill pond. One evening there was an alarm of a privateer. Somebody said they saw a dim light in the distance. I did not see any and did not believe anybody else did. To meet an armed vessel of the enemy it is plain would be no joke. All we had was two small smooth bore four-inch guns, worth about as much as toy pistols against modern rifled cannon, so that to meet such a craft everybody knew that our destination would be Andersonville or the bottom of the ocean instead of Ship Island. Off Bermuda, John Haywood died and was buried in the deep.

SOURCE: George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 3-5

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