Thursday, December 1, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Monday, June 13, 1864

The effective force of our regiment now is twelve officers and three hundred and fifty-two enlisted men. We left Vermont with a thousand enlisted men or more. I wrote hastily last evening, being crowded for time. I left the skirmish line in the dark without difficulty, but it was very nerve-trying. My post was in second growth hard timber, and the enemy could be plainly heard creeping up close — very close, within a few feet, to see if we had gone after dark. When one's alone in the dark under such circumstances and he don't know but what all his comrades are miles away on the march except his part of the skirmish line, such conditions are disconcerting, for pickets are sometimes sacrificed when an army moves. The enemy mistrusting our designs followed us up closely — so close we had to run with hair on end to get away without drawing their fire for if we did it meant perhaps that we would be abandoned to our fate by the assembled picket a goodly distance off awaiting us. But O, what a relief it was when we joined the reserve! We were on the extreme left and the last to leave the enemy's front as our position protected our army in its flank movement. It was the most trying similar position I have ever been in up to this time during the war. We traveled like racehorses all night and to-day, and I, at least, was frequently so near asleep while marching in the heat of the day, as to unconsciously walk right up against any object in my path which would of course arouse me; marched about twenty miles, but I should think it was forty — indeed, forty is what we called it at the time — via Charles City Court House and bivouaced at Jones bridge on the Chickahominy. I don't think I was ever so tired in my life as to-night; don't think I could march much further; got a daily paper to-day for the first time since we left our winter quarters. We were the rear of the army last night, and it was a trial to wait after leaving the skirmish line till all the men of the Division assembled before taking up our line of march. I got testy several times in the night walking into scrub trees by the wayside half asleep. We laughed at each other for doing it, though, for we have our fun even under the most trying circumstances.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 80-2

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