Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: New Haven to Ship Island

Soon after recruiting for the 13th Connecticut Regiment Infantry Volunteers was begun, I entered the recruiting service, and during the winter of 1861—1862 labored for that regiment in that capacity until it was full. Recruiting officers were quite plenty at that time and somehow the war fever among the people had worn away considerably and consequently recruiting was what might be termed slow, and not until March 17th, 1862, was the regiment ready for the seat of war.
On that day at ten p. m. we left New Haven, on a steamboat, and the next morning at five o'clock found us on board a large sailing vessel in New York harbor, bound for Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico. I enlisted as a sergeant in Company K and it so happened the first night I was detailed as sergeant of the guard. I don't think the 13th C. V. all belonged to the temperance society. If they did many of them sadly broke their pledges; but perhaps they thought the occasion justified them in doing so. The Colonel ordered one poor fellow “seized” up in the rigging for disorderly conduct. It was distasteful to me, but military orders must be obeyed. The job was new to me but I accomplished it without much trouble, otherwise the night passed off quite peacefully.
March 20th, the ship hoisted anchor, moved down and anchored off Sandy Hook, where she lay until the 23rd. On the way everything was new to me, Castle Garden, Governor's Island, Staten Island, etc. Besides the U. S. gunboat Roanoake lay there. During the time tugboats were busy bringing water and other supplies for the voyage.
On March 23d a propeller came down with two four-inch guns, put them aboard and towed us out to sea. A U. S. mail steamship outward bound passed us. It was a beautiful sight and one to make one feel proud of his country. Thirty-one vessels, great and small were in sight from the deck of our ship. At about one o'clock p. m. the tug boat left us, but the wind was calm as a summer evening, and remained so until about 3 p. m. when a stiff breeze sprang up and the good ship, City of New York, spread her white wings, and soon the Jersey Heights began to grow dim, and the shades of night coming on, they disappeared entirely from view. We never saw any more of this green earth until we reached an island on the southern coast of Florida. Next day got the guns in position, so that when Old Glory crept up to the masthead in the morning and unfolded to the breeze he was greeted with the cannon's roar, the emblem of freedom and power.
On the 25th we entered the Gulf Stream, water about milk warm, sea rough, about in the latitude of Charleston, S. C. In the morning, “Sail ho!” from the masthead. “Where away?” “Three points on the weather bow, sir.” “Steamship, looks like a privateer.” Captain Saulter cracks on more sail. At noon it disappeared to leeward. A gale sprang up in the afternoon and blew tremendously all night.
SOURCE: George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 1-3

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