Monday, October 3, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Wednesday, May 11, 1864

Very sultry until about 5 o'clock p. m. when the heavens became shrouded with dark and threatening clouds and a terrific thunder-storm followed, which continued till about dark, when our whippoorwill again dolefully sang out “Whip-em-well! Whip-emwell!” as our men are pleased to interpret it. A whippoorwill has appeared midway between the lines every evening since we left winter camp, with its solemn song, until the men regard it as a good omen. It don't seem to occur to them that the enemy may regard it the same way, as meant for them to whip us.

There has been a furious cannonading kept up by our side all day. The enemy has made three or four fruitless attempts to plant batteries, and return the fire in our front, but without success; has been hard fighting on our left all day by the rest of the Sixth Corps and General Hancock's men; was relieved from my pit by Lieut. G. E. Davis. I ache all over from having been in the hole twenty-four hours in the same position. It wasn't safe to stand up nor did I try it, as it would draw the sharpshooter's fire up the trees, etc. One could only occasionally raise his head high enough to peek under the bushes, during lulls in firing, which masked our position as the place was almost continually under fire. It is close by on the ground occupied by our regiment and in its front that General Sedgwick, our Corps Commander, was killed by a sharpshooter when locating a battery, and where General W. H. Morris, our Brigade Commander was wounded when changing the position of two regiments which makes us doubly cautious. It's a dangerous point being high and furthest advanced of any part of the line. The stench from the dead is sickening and terrible.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 54-5

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