Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 2, 1863

As the sun peeped over the eastern horizon, we slipped out of camp and went our way rejoicing. Oh, how beautiful the morning; calm and pleasant, with the great variety of birds warbling, as though all was peace and quiet. When camping in the darkness of night, our surroundings astonish us in the broad day light. We scarcely know our next door neighbor until the morning light gleams upon him. While waiting orders to move, many thousand troops passed to the front, so I think our regiment will see another day pass with unbroken ranks. We have the very best fighting material in our regiment, and [are] ever ready for action, but are not particularly “spoiling for a fight.” Our turn will come, as it did at Fort Donelson, Shiloh and many otber fields of glory. It is quite common to hear soldiers who have never seen the first fight say they are afraid they will never get any of the glories of this war. They never “spoil” for the second fight, but get glory enough in the first to last them. When our regiment was living upon soft bread and luxuries of sweet things from home, while camped in the rear of Covington, Kentucky, we thought that the war would be over and our names not be spread upon our banners as the victors in a battle. There is glory enough for all. We stopped awhile in Port Gibson, and the boys found a lot of blank bank currency of different denominations, upon the Port Gibson bank. They signed some of them, and it is quite common to see a private of yesterday a bank president to-day. This may not become a circulating medium to a very great extent, but it is not at all likely that it will be refused by the inhabitants along our route when tendered in payment for corn-bread, sweet potatoes, etc. In the afternoon we stopped awhile, and taking advantage of the halt made coffee, which is generally done, whether it is noon or not. There is a wonderful stimulant in a cup of coffee, and as we require a great nerve tonic, coffee is eagerly sought after. Dick Hunt, of Company G, and Tom McVey, of Co. B, discovered a poor lonely confederate chicken by the roadside. By some hen strategem it had eluded the eyes of at least ten thousand Yankees, but when the 20th Ohio came along the searching eyes of these two members espied its place of concealment. They chased it under an outhouse, which was on stilts, as a great many of the southern houses are. Dick being rather the fleetest crawled under the house and secured the feathered prize, but Tom seeing his defeat in not securing a “preacher's dinner,” found a coffee-pot under another corner of the house, which he brought to daylight, and it proved to be full of silver coin mostly dollars. These he traded off to the boys for paper, as he could not carry his load. How foolish it is for the Southern people to flee and leave their beautiful property to the foe. We only want something to eat. There are some who would apply the torch to a deserted home, that would not do so if the owners remained in it. It is quite common here to build the chimneys on the outside of the houses, and I have noticed them still standing where the house had been burned. The march to-day, towards Black River, has been a very pleasant one. I suppose Grant knows where he is taking us to, for we don't, not having had any communications with him lately upon the subject.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 5-6

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