Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, Sunday Evening, January 11, 1863

Sunday evening, January 11, 1863.

At service today the President's proclamation was read and the Colonel asked all who wanted to fight for liberty, to say “Aye.” The response would have satisfied greater enthusiasts than uncle Abraham. . . .

I have lost more than one hour's sleep since coming here, listening to the coughing of the soldiers in the night and in trying to contrive plans to meet the more obvious causes. In a climate so damp and with change of temperature so great between midday and midnight, I have steadily felt the importance of some means by which the soldier's A tents could, with their clothing, be more effectually dried and purified than is ordinarily done by the sun. To have a fire in a tent 7 x 8 for four men, without fireplaces, stove, or even an opening in the top, did not seem quite feasible, but we are trying in James's and one other company, an experiment which is likely to prove a success. Remembering the antiseptic influence of wood smoke, and also the primitive cabins from which many of our people came, we have, this evening, had fires built in the centre of the tents, the floor boards in the middle being removed and a hole being dug in the sand for the fuel. The soldiers enjoy this scheme. After the smoke ceases, the beds of coals make the tents seem very cosy. The Colonel is not backward in favoring every hygienic measure that offers any good to the soldiers. A few days experiment with two companies will settle the question by comparison of sick lists.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 343

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, Monday Evening, January 12, 1863

Monday evening, January 12, 1863.

Tonight I am seated in my own tent, and my orderly is patiently practising on a copy of his name on the other side of my little hard pine table. I have a double tent, two joined with a rough floor elevated about a foot from the sand and open at the sides so that the wind can whistle under, as well as over, my two rooms. These rooms are each nine feet square and parted by the folds of the two tents. I have room enough for a large family and it seems wroug that I should have so much, while those little 7 X 8 tents of the soldiers, literally steam with four bodies in them. But with the clothing allowed by Government, they could never be comfortable alone at night. On the whole, I like these little tents for soldiers better (than those which receive a larger number. I see no way of isolating soldiers into decency. The unnatural life must, of course, have few material comforts. On the other hand the out-of-door life compensates for many violations of wholesome laws. I find our officers universally gaining flesh. . . . Instead of fire-places, I have found a little stove with so much draft that I can have all the front open and thus get the light which makes a tent so pleasant and social. . . .

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June,1910: February 1910. p. 343

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 13, 1863

January 13, 1863.

. . . When I sit down at evening it always seems as if there could be but one subject to write upon, the music of these religious soldiers, who sing and pray steadily from supper time till “taps” at 8.30, interrupted only by roll-call at eight. The chaplain's pagoda-like school-house is the scene of earnest prayers and hymns at evening. I am sure the President is remembered more faithfully and gratefully in prayer by these christian soldiers than by any other regiment in the army. It is one thing for a chaplain to pray for him, but quite another for the soldiers to kneel and implore blessings on his head and divine guidance for his thoughts. These men never forget to pray earnestly for the officers placed over them; such prayers ought to make us true to them.

This afternoon, for the first time, our men are getting some money — not direct from the Government, but through that constant friend to them — Gen. Saxton, who waits for Government to refund it to him. The real drawback to enlistments is that the poor fellows who were in the Hunter regiment have never been paid a cent by the Government. Without reflection, one would suppose the offer of freedom quite sufficient inducement for them to join us. But you must remember that not the least curse of slavery is ignorance and that the intellectual enjoyment of freedom cannot, by the present generation, be so fully appreciated as its material gifts and benefits. Just think how few there are, even in New England, who could bravely die for an Idea, you will see that the infinite love of freedom which inspires these people is not the same that fills the heart of a more favored race. . . .

Before breakfast this morning I stood on the shore and listened to the John Brown hymn, sung by a hundred of our recruits, as they came up the river on the steamer Boston, from St. Augustine, Fla. Our Lieut. Col. [Billings]1 went down last week for them and today we have received into our regiment all but five, whom I rejected in consequence of old age and other disabilities. It seemed hard to reject men who came to fight for their freedom, but these poor fellows are a hindrance in active service, and we might be compelled to leave them to the mercy of those who know not that “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

. . . I wish you could see how finely the Colonel appears in my dress coat. His was sent from Worcester quite a time before I left New England, but has never reached him. Very likely some miserable colonel of a poor white regiment appropriated it. I pity those who get so demoralized by association and wish they could have the benefit of our higher code. As I am less for ornament than for use here, I offered my coat to the Colonel, and was glad to find that Theodore [a tailor in Worcester] had applied his “celestial ” principle “ under the arms,” so that a Beaufort tailor could easily make an exact fit for the upper sphere. To sick soldiers it is unimportant whether I have one or two rows of buttons, and my handsome straps fit just as well on my fatigue coat as on the other. . . .

At this moment the camp resounds with the John Brown hymn, sung as no white regiment can sing it, so full of pathos and harmony. I know you will think me over enthusiastic about these people, but every one of you would be equally so, if here. Every day deepens my conviction that if we are true to them they will be true to us. The Colonel arrives at the same conclusion. When I think of their long-suffering at the hands of the whites, and then of their readiness to forgive, I feel a reverence for the race that I did not know before coming among them. You need not fancy that I find them perfect; it has not been my fortune to find mortals of that type, — even in Worcester, — but I do find them, as a people, religious, kind hearted, forgiving and as truth loving as the average of whites, more so than the Irish of the lowest rank.

1 Col. Liberty Billings.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 344-5

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, January 17, 1863, Evening

January 17, Evening.

This has been a triumphant day for our regiment. We have marched to Beaufort and back in such style as to turn jeers into admiration, and tonight our men are full of music and delight. The Colonel, not content with marching the whole length of the front street, actually stopped on the parade ground and drilled the regiment an hour or more, and then they marched home to the music of their own voices. The different encampments at Beaufort had large delegations by the way-side, as we entered the town, and we were greeted with such language as pertains to vulgar negro haters. Our men were apparently indifferent to it and the officers could afford to wait in silence. I fell aback to the rear with the major and was constantly delighted at the manly bearing of our soldiers. Not a head was turned to the right or left — not a word spoken. At length a white soldier struck a negro man, not of our regiment, and the poor fellow appealing to us, we wheeled our horses upon the rabble, and Major Strong, with drawn sword pursued the offender, with the point of that instrument a little nearer the fellow's back than seemed wholesome. I have rarely seen one more thoroughly frightened. The effect was magical, no more audible sneers. But wasn’t it good to march our regiment proudly in the front of those mansions where two years ago the [Southern] chivalry were plotting something as strange, but quite unlike.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 345

Dr. Seth Rogers to his Daughter, Sunday Evening, January 18, 1863

January 18, Sunday evening.

Such a transparent day and cool north winds make even South Carolina endurable, while it lasts, I mean. When General Hunter gets here we expect to nullify the State. . . . In our camp most curious problems present themselves, as how to keep people from scurvy without vegetables and fresh meat; how to have a good fire in tents without a fireplace, stove or ventilation; how to make bread without yeast and without oven. How to treat the sick without medicines,—how to amputate limbs without knives, — all these and many other similarly knotty questions the surgeon of the First Regiment of S. C. Vol's. has to consider, — sometimes when he ought to be sleeping. This is not said complainingly. Our men rarely complain and those jeering white soldiers who saw their firm tread in the streets of Beaufort, yesterday, must have discovered a reason for their patience, this silent waiting.

There was a Destiny in the silent, dignified bearing of our men, yesterday. I never in my life, felt so proud, so strong, so large. . . . Hurrah! Hurrah! — the Quartermaster just in with despatch from signal officer announcing arrival of the Arago, and a gun boat at Hilton head, and General Hunter has come.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 345-6

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, July 13, 1864

It is no doubt true that the Rebels have left. I called on General Halleck on a matter of business, and while there, about 11, he had a telegram saying the Rebels passed through Rockville to the northwest about 3 this A.M. They are making, I remarked, for Edwards Ferry and will get off with their plunder if we have no force there to prevent. He said it was by no means certain they would cross at Edwards Ferry. We looked over the map together, and he, like myself, thought it probable they had taken that course. I remarked that they appeared not to have concentrated their force at any one place. Halleck asked by what authority I said that. There was harshness and spite in his tone. I coolly said by my own judgment and the observation of almost any one who had any intelligence on the subject. He said he did not think I had heard so from any military man who knew anything about it. I said no military man or any other had been able to tell me where they were concentrated to the amount of five thousand. Nor have I found any except Halleck, Hitchcock, and a few around the Department express an opinion that there was a large number, or that they were concentrated. They were defiant and insolent, our men were resolute and brave, but the Bureau generals were alarmed and ignorant, and have made themselves and the Administration appear contemptible.

The Rebels, before leaving, burnt the house of Judge Blair, Postmaster-General. This they claimed to have done in retaliation for the destruction of the house of Governor Letcher, — a disgraceful act and a disgraceful precedent. I have no idea that General Hunter or any officer authorized the burning of Letcher's house. It was doubtless done by some miscreants, hangers-on, stragglers, who ought to be punished. But men in authority appear to have had direction in burning Blair's house.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 76

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, July 14, 1864

Communication is again opened with the North. It is evident there was never any force sufficient to have interrupted it, had there been ordinary ability and sagacity on the part of the military. The Chronicle and the army papers are striving to make it appear there was a large Rebel force and that there had been serious danger, - that we have had a great deliverance.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 77

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, July 15, 1864

We had some talk at Cabinet-meeting to-day on the Rebel invasion. The President wants to believe there was a large force, and yet evidently his private convictions are otherwise. But the military leaders, the War Office, have insisted there was a large force. We have done nothing, and it is more gratifying to our self-pride to believe there were many of them, especially as we are likely to let them off with considerable plunder scot-free.

The National Intelligencer comments with a good deal of truth and ability on our national humiliation, as exemplified in this late affair. There is no getting away from the statements and facts presented.

Seward and Stanton seem disturbed. There is something which does not suit them. Seward followed Stanton out, and had a talk in the anteroom. I met Solicitor Whiting as I left the White House, who was very anxious to talk. Deplored the miserable military management. Imputes the whole folly and scare to General Halleck. Says Stanton has disapproved his policy, but [that] the President clings to Halleck, who is damaging him and the Administration greatly; that Halleck and Blair are both injuring the President. “Why,” said I, “you do not mean to identify Blair with this pitiful business.” “Oh no,” said he, “but Blair is so perverse on the slavery question that he is getting all the radical element of the country against the Administration.” As I did not care to enter into controversy on that topic, and it was late, I left him. But the conversation indicates that Stanton intends to throw off responsibility on to Halleck.

Grant and the Army of the Potomac are reposing in immense force near Richmond. Our troops have been sent from here and drawn from all quarters to reinforce the great army, which has suffered immense losses in its march, without accomplishing anything except to reach the ground from which McClellan was withdrawn. While daily reinforced, Grant could push on to a given point, but he seems destitute of strategy or skill, while Lee exhibits tact. This raid, which might have taken Washington and which has for several days cut off our communications with the North, was devised by Lee while beleaguered at Richmond, and, though failing to do as much as might have been accomplished, has effected a good deal.

The deportment of Stanton has been wholly different during this raid from any former one. He has been quiet, subdued, and apparently oppressed with some matter that gave him disquiet. On former occasions he has been active, earnest, violent, alarmed, apprehensive of danger from every quarter. It may be that he and Halleck have disagreed. Neither of them has done himself credit at this time.

The arrest of Henderson, Navy Agent, and his removal from office have seriously disturbed the editors of the Evening Post, who seem to make his cause their own. This subject coming up to-day, I told the President of the conduct of his District Attorney, Delafield Smith, who, when the case was laid before him by Mr. Wilson, attorney for the Department, remarked that it was not worth while to prosecute, that the same thing was done by others, at Washington as well as New York, and no notice was taken of it. Wilson asked him if he, the prosecuting law officer of the Government, meant to be understood as saying it was not worth while to notice embezzlement, etc. I related this to the President, who thereupon brought out a correspondence that had taken place between himself and W. C. Bryant. The latter averred that H. was innocent, and denounced Savage, the principal witness against him, because arrested and under bonds. To this the President replied that the character of Savage before his arrest was as good as Henderson’s before he was arrested. He stated that he knew nothing of H.’s alleged malfeasance until brought to his notice by me, in a letter, already written, for his removal; that he inquired of me if I was satisfied he was guilty; that I said I was; and that he then directed, or said to me, “Go ahead, let him be removed.” These are substantially the facts. I said to him that the attorneys who had investigated the subject expressed a full conviction of his guilt; that I had come to the same conclusion, and did not see how a prosecution and summary proceedings could be avoided. The Evening Post manifests a belligerent spirit, and evidently intends to make war upon the Navy Department because I will not connive at the malfeasance of its publisher. In a cautious and timid manner they have supported the policy of the Navy Department hitherto, though fearful of being taunted for so doing. Because their publisher was Navy Agent they have done this gently. But they now, since Henderson's arrest and trial, assail the monitors and the monitor system, which they have hitherto supported, and insidiously and unfairly misrepresent them and the Department. I am surprised at the want of judgment manifested in hastening to make this assault. It would have been more politic, certainly, to have delayed, for the motive which leads them to make this abrupt turn cannot be misunderstood. They know it is painful for me to prosecute one of their firm, that it pains me to believe him guilty, but that when the facts are presented, they should know me well enough to be aware that I would not cover or conceal the rascality even to oblige them. I claim no merit, but I deserve no censure for this plain and straightforward discharge of my duty. I hear it said to-day that there has been disagreement between Stanton and Grant; that the latter had ordered General Hinks to Point Lookout and Stanton countermanded the order for General Barnes.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 77-80

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, July 16, 1864

Mr. Faxon, Chief Clerk, is ill and leaves for New York in the Tacoma. Shall greatly miss him. No one can fill his place. Thomas G. Welles is with his general, McCook, relieved from duty at Fort Stevens. I observe and have for some time past that the Gazette at Cincinnati, a paper in the interest of Mr. Chase, has been violent and reckless in its assaults on the Navy Department. With some smattering information of matters generally, there is much palpable ignorance in regard to our monitors, ordnance, etc.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 80

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, July 18, 1864

I yesterday went with my sons and Dr. Horwitz to Silver Spring, passing over the ground of the late fight. The chimneys of the burnt houses, the still barricaded road, the trampled fields, and other evidences bear testimony to what had occurred. The Blairs were absent from Silver Spring, but we turned down the lane which leads to it and went to the walls of Montgomery Blair's house, situated pleasantly on a little wooded eminence. But all was silent. Waste and war. Judge B. tells me the house and furniture cost him just about $20,000. The Rebels have done him this injury, and yet some whom they have never personally harmed denounce him as not earnest in the cause, as favoring the Rebels and their views. We went through the grounds to the mansion of the elder Mr. Blair. The place was less injured than I had supposed, and there must have been extra pains taken for the preservation of the shrubbery and the growing crops. Fields of the best corn I have seen this year were untouched. What depredation or plunder had been committed in the house I could not tell, for it was closed. My son, who led our pickets, was the first to enter it after the Rebels left. He found some papers scattered over the floor, which he gathered up. There had been crowds of persons there filling the house, sleeping on the floors, prying into the family privacy, but not more rudely, perhaps, than our own soldiers would have done, had the place been in their power.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 80-1

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, July 12, 1864

Parkersburg, West Virginia, July 12, 1864.

Dear Mother: — We are here on our way East. I managed to slip ahead of my command and spend Sunday with Lucy and the boys at Chillicothe. I should have been very glad to get to Columbus and would have done so if it had been possible. But we are being hurried forward as fast as possible to aid in putting an end to the trouble in Maryland. I know very little about it but hope it will turn out much less serious than is now represented.

I found my family well homed and in good health. It was an unexpected but very happy meeting.
My love to all the family. Letters directed to me in Crook's Division, via Cumberland, will probably find me. I think all your letters have finally reached me.

My health, after all our severe campaigning, is excellent.

Your affectionate son,
Mrs. Sophia Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 482

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Sunday, July 17, 1864

Martinsburg, July 17 (Sunday), 1864.

Dearest: — A week ago, about this time, we were enjoying our pleasant ride like young lovers on the Kingston Pike. Now we are widely separated.

I am semi-sick — that is the boil I told you I was threatened with on my hip is actively at work. The worst is over with it. I am lying on my blankets in the barroom of a German drinking saloon that was gutted by the Rebels. The man is a refugee but his excellent frau is here ready to do anything in the world for a bluecoat. She wants me to go [to] a chamber and a clean bed, but I like the more public room better.

Half my brigade went this morning to General Crook, thirty miles east. We go in a day or two. The combinations to catch the Rebels seem to me good, but I expect them to escape. Raiding parties always do escape. Morgan was foolhardy and Streight lacked enterprise. They are the only exceptions.

You will probably see some correspondence about your flag gift in the papers. Don't blush, it's all right. — “S’much.” Love to all.

Ever, darling, your
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 482-3

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, Sunday, July 17, 1864

Martinsburg, Virginia, July 17 (Sunday), 1864.

Dear Mother: — I am much obliged for your letter by Colonel Comly. Glad you still are in good health. We are pretty busy now trying to prevent the escape of the Rebel raiders who have plundered Maryland. . . . The weather is very warm but we have good breezes and excellent water in this region so that campaigning is not unpleasant.

I notice Mitchell's name is often mentioned in connection with Sherman's army. He has a fine position. I trust he will come safely out of it. — Love to all.

Affectionately, your son,
Mrs. Sophia Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 483

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: July 17—20, 1864

[The Diary for the last few months of 1864 is for the most part hardly more than a line a day, entered in a pocket memorandum book, "The Southern Almanac for 1864," which Hayes's orderly, William Crump, had got hold of at Middlebrook, Virginia, early in June. Many of the entries were originally made with a pencil and subsequently inked over. Usually the entries give only a bald statement of the movement of the day. In some cases entries are omitted here entirely; in other cases several are combined in a single paragraph.]
Sunday afternoon, July 17, [the] Fifth [Virginia] and Twenty-third [Ohio] [marched from Martinsburg] to near Charlestown. Slept in a farmyard. Twelve miles. The next day, march toward Harpers Ferry and [the] Shenandoah at Keys Ferry. Whole brigade together. Fine river and valley. Skirmish all P. M. Heavy cannonading at Snickers Ford. Twenty-three miles. Spent Tuesday (19th) skirmishing with Bradley Johnson's Cavalry between camp on Bull Skin and Kabletown. Rodes' Division try to take us in and fail after a brisk fight. Six miles. Wednesday (20th), back to Keys Ferry and Harpers Ferry [and] thence to Charlestown; ordered to join General Crook. Ten miles.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 483-4

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, July 20, 1864

Harpers Ferry, July 20, 1864.

Dearest: — I am here with my brigade, merely to get ammunition and grub. Have been fighting and marching three days; lost only three killed and twelve wounded. Shall remain all day. All well. My boil does me no harm, but it is an awful hole. Doctor well. Can't give you much news. I am on a scout after Crook who is lost to the bureau! It is very funny. He has caught some Rebels and many wagons, I know, and I think he has got a good victory, but I don't yet know. . . .

In our hunt we have had hard marching and plenty of fighting of a poor sort. Rebel cavalry is very active and efficient, but it don't fight. Our losses are ridiculously small for so much noise. . . .

Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 484

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: July 21—25, 1864

Thursday (21st), marched to near Snickers Ford. Camped near Colonel Ware's. Fifteen miles. The next day, marched to Winchester. A fine town before the war. Eleven and onehalf miles. Saturday (23d), enemy reported in force approaching Winchester. Skirmished all day. Small force of Rebel cavalry fool ours. Seven miles. Sunday (24th), defeated badly at Winchester near Kernstown by Early with a superior force. My brigade suffered severely. Rebels came in on my left. Poor cavalry allowed the general to be surprised. Seven miles. All [that] night marching, twenty-two miles, to Martinsburg. My brigade covered the retreat. Retreated from Martinsburg; turned on Rebels and drove them out. Monday night to Potomac at Williamsport, [Maryland], twelve miles, a severe, sleepy job. Camped on Antietam near battle-ground.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 484-5

Friday, September 25, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 1, 1864

Hazy, misty weather. Gen. Lovell (who lost New Orleans) has applied for a command in the West, and Gen. Johnston approves it strongly. He designs dividing his army into three corps, giving one (3d division) to Gen. Hardee; one (2d division) to Gen. Hindman; and one (1st division) to Lovell. But the Secretary of War (wide awake) indorses a disapproval, saying, in his opinion, it would be injudicious to place a corps under the command of Gen. Lovell, and it would not give confidence to the army. This being sent to the President, came back indorsed, “opinion concurred in.—J. D.”

Gen. Pillow has applied for the command of two brigades for operations between Gen. Johnston's and Gen. Polk's armies, protecting the flanks of both, and guarding the coal mines, iron works, etc. in Middle Alabama. This is strongly approved by Generals Johnston, Polk, Gov. Watts & Co. But the President has not yet decided the matter.

The Commissary-General is appointing many ladies to clerkships. Old men, disabled soldiers, and ladies are to be relied on for clerical duty, nearly all others to take the field. But every ingenuity is resorted to by those having in substitutes to evade military service.

There is a great pressure of foreigners (mostly Irish) for passes to leave the country.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 140

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 2, 1864

So lax has become Gen. Winder's rule, or deficient, or worse, the vigilance of his detectives,—the rogues and cut-throats,—one of them keeps a mistress in a house the rent of which is more than his salary, that five Jews, the other day, cleared out in a schooner laden with tobacco, professedly for Petersburg, but sailed directly to the enemy. They had with them some $10,000 in gold; and as they absconded to avoid military service in the Confederate States, no doubt they imparted all the information they could to the enemy.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, asked the Secretary of War to-day to make such arrangements as would supply the State Department with regular files of Northern papers. They sometimes have in them important diplomatic correspondence, and the perusal of this is about all the Secretary of State has to do.

It is rumored that the Hon. Robert Toombs has been arrested in Georgia for treason. I cannot believe it, but I know he is inimical to the President.

The British papers again seem to sympathise with us.

Senator Orr writes to the Secretary that a resolution of the Senate, asking for copies of Gen. Beauregard's orders in 1862 for the fortification of Vicksburg (he was the first to plan the works which made such a glorious defense), and also a resolution calling for a copy of Gen. B.'s charges against Col. ——, had not been responded to by the President. He asks that these matters may be brought to the President's attention.

The weather is beautiful and spring-like again, and we may soon have some news both from Tennessee and North Carolina. From the latter I hope we shall get some of the meat endangered by the proximity of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 140-1

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 3, 1864

The following dispatch indicates the prestige of success for the year 1864, and it is probable it will be followed by a succession of successes, for the administration at Washington will find, this year, constant antagonisms everywhere, in the North as well as in the South, and in the army there will be opposing parties—Republicans and Democrats. On the part of the South, we have experienced the great agony of 1863, and have become so familiar with horrors that we shall fight with a fearful desperation. But the dispatch:

“Glorious news! The whole Yankee force, about 150, are our prisoners, and their gun-boat 'Smith Briggs,' destroyed.

“No one hurt on our side. Four Yankees killed and two or three wounded.

“The prisoners are now at Broad Water. Send down a train for them to-morrow.”

We learn that this Yankee force was commissioned to destroy a large factory at Smithfield, in Isle of Wight County. We do not know the size or composition of our command which achieved the results noticed above, but understand that it contained two companies of the Thirty-first North Carolina Regiment.

Congress has not yet finally acted, on the Tax bill, nor on the new Conscription bill.

The Secretary of War said to-day that he would not allow the increased pay to any of his civil officers who were young and able to bear arms—and this after urging Congress to increase their compensation. It will be very hard on some who are refugees, having families dependent on them. Others, who board, must be forced into the army (the design), for their expenses per month will be some fifty per cent, more than their income.

The weather is clear but colder.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 141-2

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 4, 1864

Clear and pretty cold. We have news of another brilliant affair at Kinston, N. C, where Gen. Pickett has beaten the enemy, killing and wounding and taking some 500 men, besides capturing another gun-boat! Thus the campaign of 1864 opens auspiciously.

And Gen. Early has beaten the foe in Hardy County, Northwest Virginia, capturing, it is said, some 800.

It is supposed that Gen. Pickett will push on to Newbern, and probably capture the town. At all events we shall get large supplies from the tide-water counties of North Carolina. General Lee planned the enterprise, sending some 15,000 men on the expedition.

Yesterday the Senate Committee reported against the House bill modifying the act making all men liable to conscription who have hired substitutes. But they are debating a new exemption bill in the House.

It is true Mr. Toombs was arrested at Savannah, or was ejected from the cars because he would not procure a passport.

To-day Mr. Kean, the young Chief of the Bureau of War, has registered all the clerks, the dates of their appointments, their age, and the number of children they have. He will make such remarks as suits him in each case, and submit the list to the Secretary for his action regarding the increased compensation. Will he intimate that his own services are so indispensable that he had better remain out of the field ?

The following "political card" for the Northern Democrats was played yesterday. I think it a good one, if nothing more be said about it here. It will give the Abolitionists trouble in the rear while we assail them in the front.

The following extraordinary resolutions were, yesterday, introduced in the House of Representatives by Mr. Wright of Georgia. The House went into secret session before taking any action upon them.

whereas: The President of the United States, in a late public communication, did declare that no propositions for peace had been made to that government by the Confederate States, when, in truth, such propositions were prevented from being made by the President of the United States, in that he refused to hear, or even to receive, two commissioners, appointed to treat expressly of the preservation of amicable relations between the two governments.

"Nevertheless, that the Confederate States may stand justified in the sight of the conservative men of the North of all parties, and that the world may know which of the two governments it is that urges on a war unparalleled for the fierceness of the conflict, and intensifying into a sectional hatred unsurpassed in the annals of mankind. Therefore,

"Resolved, That the Confederate States invite the United States, through their government at Washington, to meet them by representatives equal to their representatives and senators in their respective Congress at ——, on the —— day of —— next, to consider,

First: Whether they cannot agree upon the recognition of the Confederate States of America.

Second: In the event of such recognition, whether they cannot agree upon the formation of a new government, founded upon the equality and sovereignty of the States; but if this cannot be done, to consider

Third: Whether they cannot agree upon treaties, offensive, defensive, and commercial.

Resolved, In the event of the passage of these resolutions, the President be requested to communicate the same to the Government at Washington, in such manner as he shall deem most in accordance with the usages of nations; and, in the event of their acceptance by that government, he do issue his proclamation of election of delegates, under such regulations as he may deem expedient.”

Eighteen car loads of coffee went up to the army to-day. I have not tasted coffee or tea for more than a year.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 142-4

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 5, 1864

Bright frosty morning, but warmer and hazy later in the day. From dispatches from North Carolina, it would seem that our generals are taking advantage of the fine roads, and improving the opportunity, while the enemy are considering the plan of the next campaign at Washington.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 144

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 6, 1864

Major-Gen. Breckinridge, it is said, is to command in Southwestern Virginia near the Kentucky line, relieving Major-Gen. Sam Jones.

Yesterday the cabinet decided to divide the clerks into three classes. Those under eighteen and over forty-five, to have the increased compensation; those between those ages, who shall be pronounced unable for field service, also to have it; and all others the Secretaries may certify to be necessary, etc. This will cover all their cousins, nephews, and pets, and exclude many young men whose refugee mothers and sisters are dependent on their salaries for subsistence. Such is the unvarying history of public functionaries.

Gen. Pickett, finding Newbern impregnable, has fallen back, getting off his prisoners, etc. But more troops are going to North Carolina.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 144

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Monday, April 7, 1862

Last night was a doleful night as the soldiers laid in this wilderness by the Tennessee. All night long there was a chilling rain, and the April wind sighed mournfully around the suffering, wounded warriors. Many a wounded soldier died last night. During the weary hours the insatiate archer was making silent steps.

"One quivering motion, one convulsive throe,
And the freed spirits took their upward flight.”

Would that God would roll back the storms of war and temper the hearts of men ere any more human blood flows down like rivulets to crimson the beautiful waters of the Cumberland and Tennessee. But oh! it seems that more blood must flow; that away up yonder, in those cottage homes, where the prairie winds blow, more tears must sparkle, fall and perish; that more hearts must be broken-more hopes dashed down—more doomed

"In their nightly dreams to hear
The bolts of war around them rattle."

Hark! we hear a rumble and a roar. It is a rattle of musketry and the terrible knell from the cannon's mouth. We are marched to the front, where we find Nelson engaged. His hounds of war are let loose. Inroads are being made. The Seventh is filed into position and ordered to lie down. Though the enemy has given ground, they still show stubbornness. We are now in a sharp place; there is some uneasiness here. A cold chill creeps over the soldiers. How uncomfortable it is to be compelled to remain inactive when these whizzing minies come screaming through the air on their mission of death. From such places, under such circumstances, the Seventh would ever wish to be excused, for it grates harshly with the soldier, and is exceedingly distressing when he is prevented from returning compliment for compliment, as the Seventh will testify to-day. But we do not remain here long, for from this place of inactivity, we are moved to a place of action. The battle is raging furiously. The army of the Ohio and the army of the Tennessee are striking hand to hand. The tables are turning; step by step the rebels are being driven. Position after position the Seventh is now taking. The sharp, positive crack of their musketry makes a terrible din along their line. It is apparent that the rebels are retreating. Another day is waning; a day of sacrifice; a day in which has been held a high carnival of blood on Shiloh's plain. Many patriot, loyal soldiers died to-day, and as they died, many of them were seen to smile as they saw the old flag, the pride of their hearts, riding so proudly over the bloody field. Many shed a tear of joy as they beheld the beautiful streams of light falling on the crimson wings of conquest.

The rebels are now flying. Nelson is making a terrible wreck in the rear of the retreating army. Kind reader, stand with me now where the Seventh stands; look away yonder! Your eye never beheld a grander sight. It is the northwest's positive tread. They move firmly; there is harmony in their steps. Ten thousand bayonets flash in the blazing sunlight. They are moving in columns on the bloody plain. Their tramp sounds like a death knell. The band is playing “Hail to the chief.” Its martial anthems seem to float as it were on golden chords through air, and as they fall around the weary soldier their hopes of glory beat high. They are retreating now; the rear of the rebel army is fast fading from Shiloh's. field. Before the north west's mighty power how they dwindle into littleness, as turrets and spires beneath the stars. They are far away now, and the great battle of Shiloh is over; the fierce wild drama is ended; the curtain falls; the sun is hid, and night has come. The Seventh goes into camp on the battle-field; their camp fires are soon burning, and those noble ones, who have fought so well, lie down, worn and weary, to rest themselves. They have passed through two days of fearful battle; amid thunder, smoke and perils they bore their tattered flag, and when the storm-king was making his most wrathful strides, it still waved in the wind and never went down, for strong arms were there and they held it up. But how painful it is to know that some comrades who were with us in the morning, are not with us now. They have fallen and died-died in the early morning of life. And why did they die? A royal herald will answer, for a country, for a home, for a name. Come walk with me now while the tired soldiers are sleeping. Who is this who lays here beneath this oak, in such agony, such convulsive throes? It is a soldier in gray; a wounded rebel who fought against the old flag to-day. But he is dying; his life is almost gone; he is dead now. Oh! how sad it makes one feel to see a soldier die, and how we pity him who has just died; pity him because he has fallen in such a desperate cause; pity him because no royal herald will ever write his name on the sacred scroll of fame.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 54-7

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 7, 1863

The 20th was at the front all day, sharp shooting. There is a good deal of danger in this kind of business, but we have our fun at it notwithstanding. Another effigy hoisted a little above our rifle-pits, in an instant drew the fire of the enemy. It was our ruse to get them to raise their heads a little, and when they did, we fired back, and the result generally justified the refrain to which our thoughts were moving,

Should a rebel show his pate,
To withdraw he'll prove too late.

We have caught them that way several times.

We still keep unshaken confidence in General Grant, and the ultimate success of our cause. We shall stand firm at our posts, yielding cheerful obedience to all orders, and march bravely on without halting to wrangle and grumble at every imaginary shortcoming in our officers, while our country is in such distress, and when her cries are borne to us upon every breeze. To be in Grant's army, McPherson's corps, Logan's division and the 20th Ohio, commanded by our brave and courteous colonel, M. F. Force, is to be as well off as any soldier in any army in the world.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 46

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 8, 1863

Another day born in the midst of the rattle of shot and shell. Each day finds us more firmly entrenched amid these hills, until we begin to feel ourselves impregnable.

I visited one of the teeming hospitals to see some boys, and it made me sad enough to look upon some who will soon pass from these scenes of strife. One smooth-cheeked little artillery lad closed his eyes forever, with a last lingering look upon the flag he had hoped to see waving over Vicksburg. His last look was at the flag—his last word was “mother!” Poor boy, when he left home he knew little of the hardships and privations to be endured. War is quite another thing from what my schooldays pictured it. I used to think the two contending armies would march face to face and fire at each other, column by column, but experience has shown me a very different picture, for when the command to fire is given it is often when each man must fire at will, taking shelter where he can, without going too far from his line.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 46

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 9, 1863

Digging a mine under Fort Hill, with a cotton car as protection from
the enemy's bullets.
To-day our regiment was at the front. The rebels kept pretty quiet; they are learning to behave very well. In fact they might as well lie low and save their powder.

The Yankee Lookout.
Our men have been employed digging a ditch leading up to Fort Hill, when they intend tunneling and blowing up the fort. The rebels, however, have got range of the men digging, and have fired upon them. The answering Yankee trick was to shove a car of cotton bales over the trench toward the fort, while the men worked behind it. This served a good purpose for awhile, till the rebs managed to set it on fire; not to be out-done, our boys pushed forward another car well soaked with water. Another Yankee device was contrived—a tower, ten or twelve feet high, with steps inside running to the top, where was hung a looking-glass in such a position as to catch and reflect, to a man inside the tower, the interior of the enemy's fort and rifle pits, and thus every man and gun could be counted. This latter contrivance, however, did not last long; it became too conspicuous and dangerous for use.

A report creeps into camp that Johnston is coming with fifty thousand men to raise the siege, but I do not believe it. We have often heard that Richmond had fallen, but it continues within the confederate lines. If the army of the Potomac does not soon take it, Grant will march us there and seize the prize from them.

Sheltered from the sun, but not the enemy's shells.

 SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 47-9

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: March 21, 1862


Passing along Pollock, above Middle street, today, I was accosted by a man who was sitting on the veranda of his house and invited to come in, as he wished a talk with me. Noticing that he was a smart-looking, well-dressed, gentlemanly appearing man, and withal an M. D., according to his sign, I was nothing loth to gratify his whim. As I stepped up on the veranda, he invited me to be seated. After a little commonplace talk, he began to inquire about our troops, their number and where they were from. I told him only a few of our troops had landed, that the river and sound were black with them in case they should be needed, and nearly all of them were from New England. He said our capture of the city was wholly unexpected, and at the last moment nearly all the better class of citizens left, leaving their houses and property as we found them. He said in that he thought they had made a great mistake, as he regarded Gen. Burnside as an honorable, high-toned gentleman, who would have dealt fairly with them, if they had remained and taken their chances, and would have allowed them to go whenever they wished. I replied I didn't know how that would have been, but I thought they had made another mistake in burning the railroad bridge and trying to burn the town. In doing as they have, they have shown that they had no regard for their property and they certainly cannot expect us to have much for it, although we have shown some in putting out the fires and saving it.

“Yes, I know,” he said, “but perhaps they thought they would show your people that they were willing to sacrifice their property and make a Moscow of it rather than let it fall into your hands.” “Well, sir,” said I, “in that they made another mistake, for if they had succeeded in burning it, it would have been no Moscow; we should have staid here just the same. Unlike Napoleon, we do not need the town; we care nothing for it; it is the position we want.”

“But you seem to occupy it?”

“Certainly we do, there is no one else to occupy it, and we may as well use it as not.”

“Do you propose to have us vacate our premises for your use?”

“Really, sir, I am not in the secrets of the general, but I presume that you and all others will be protected in your persons and property, so long as you remain loyal and show no opposition to the government.”

“Yes, sir, I supposed it would be something that way. What do you propose doing with that cotton down on the wharf.”

“That cotton belonged to the Confederate government, or at least they were using it against the Federal government, and like other government property it becomes the spoils of war, and some fine morning you will see it going down the river bound for some northern manufacturing city. After a few weeks it will be back here again in the form of tents for the use of the army.”

“Then you intend making this a permanent garrison?”

“We intend to hold this position just as long as it is of any use to us.”

“How long do you think this war will continue?”

“As things look now, I don't think it can possibly hold more than a year longer, if it does so long.”

“Then you think in that time you can subjugate our people?”

“Well, sir, my opinion is that in less than eighteen months, every armed Confederate, unless he sooner surrenders, will be driven into the Gulf of Mexico.”

“You seem to be very sanguine in your opinion, sir; but then we all have our opinions, and I think after a year you will find you have made but little progress. I would like to ask for how long you have enlisted?”

“I have enlisted for three years, unless the job is sooner finished.”

“Well, sir, if nothing serious happens to you (which I really. hope there will not), you will serve your three years, and then, unless your people give it up, you can again enlist, for I can assure you that our people will never give it up.”

“You think then, that with all the odds against you, you will finally succeed?”

“I certainly do; you see you Yankees are going to tire of this thing after a spell; you are not used to roughing it, and will soon weary of the hardships and privations of a soldier's life. You Yankees had much rather be spinning cotton, making shoes, trading, speculating and trying to make money, than following the occupation of a soldier.”

“For a choice, there are probably very few of us who would select the occupation of a soldier, but you mistake the Yankee character entirely, if you think, having undertaken anything, they tire of it very easily. That was not the class of men they sprung from. They were an enterprising, untiring class of men; if they had not been, they would never have settled down among the rocks and hills of bleak New England and made of it the richest, most intelligent and powerful little piece of territory the sun shines on. But, my friend, as all things earthly have an end, this will probably prove no exception, and in the end, your people will find that they have got the least value received for the money paid out of any speculation they ever engaged in, and will still find themselves a part and parcel of the United States, subject to all the rules and conditions of the government, in common with the rest of the states.”

After some further talk about state rights and state sovereignty, in which we could not agree, he invited me into his house. Here, like a true Southern gentleman, he entertained and extended hospitalities right royally, and I think we must have sampled his best bottle. He told me it was six years old, and from a silver goblet, I sipped the best native wine I ever tasted; it was rich, mellow and fruity. He said it was made from a choice variety of grape called the Scupperuong. It was really a splendid native wine, as so it appeared to me. After some more small talk, I bade my new found friend good day, and took my leave.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 49-51

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: March 25, 1862


There are swarms of negroes here. They are of all sexes, ages, sizes and conditions. They sit along the streets and fences, staring and grinning at every thing they see, laughing and chattering together like so many black-birds. They have very exaggerated notions of freedom, thinking it means freedom from work and a license to do about as they please. There is no use trying to get them to work, for if they can get their hoe-cake and bacon, it is all they want, and they are contented and happy. When a party of them is wanted to unload a vessel or do any job of work, the commissary or quartermaster requests the colonel to send along the men. The colonel orders one of the companies to go out and pick them up and report with them where they are wanted. A patrol is detailed and put in charge of a non-commissioned officer who starts out to pick up his party. On seeing a good, stout looking fellow, the officer halts his squad, and calling the darky's attention, says, “Come here, boy!” The unsuspecting darky comes grining along up and asks, “Wat 'er want 'er me?” “Fall in here, I want you,” “Wat I don’ ’er want me?” “Well, I want you to do something; fall in here,” “O, lor' a gorra, boss, i'se so busy today i'se couldn't go nohow, i'se go tomorrer suah.” “Never mind that, fall in here,” and the darky falls in, his eyes rolling around and his thick lips sticking out, feeling about as mad as he well can, doubtless thinking that freedom is no great thing after all.

In that way the whole party is picked up in a few minutes and marched off to where they are wanted. They are set to work, and at night will all promise to be on hand the next morning, “suah.” The next morning perhaps a few of them will put in an appearance, but the most of them will keep away, and another patrol will be sent out to pick up another lot. But I think, after a little while, they will learn that freedom means something besides idleness and they will feel a willingness to work. They have a curious custom of carrying everything on their heads, toting they call it, and will tote large or small bundles along the street or through a crowd as unconcernedly and safely as though it were a basket slung on their arm. They will tote a brimming pitcher or tumbler of water without spilling scarcely a drop. These darkies are a curious institution.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 51

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 1, 1862


I learn that Major McCafferty has resigned and is going to leave us. I am sorry to learn that his ambition for fame is so soon gratified. I think a good deal of the major and shall miss him very much. He is a man of great good nature and a good deal of a humorist, and at times he makes considerable sport for the boys. The major's resignation creates a vacancy which, according to military rules will be filled by the ranking captain which is Capt. Pickett of company A. This will change the formation of the line, bringing company B on the left, and ranking second in the line. So, step by step, we ascend the ladder of fame.
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. . . . . . . We are now living in clover, having little else to do but to keep ourselves, clothes, arms and equipments clean and in good order. We do a little guard duty and the rest of the time is spent in reading, writing, card-playing and walking about town, seeing the fun and enjoying ourselves. Our rations are of good quality and variety. We now have our fresh beef three times a week, with all the soft bread we want. With our government rations, and what we can buy, such as oysters, fresh fish, chickens, eggs, sweet potatoes, etc., we are running at a high rate of speed. We often contrast this with our life at the inlet.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 52

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 14, 1862


And now another change has occurred, Capt. Clark of company B has resigned. If this thing becomes chronic, I am not quite sure but I shall resign and go home, and then, perhaps, I shall be given a sutler's or horse doctor's commission and be sent back. Capt. Clark's resignation promotes First Lieut. Emery to captain, Second Lieut. Draper to first lieutenant, and first Sergeant John G. McCarter to second lieutenant. This again changes the formation of the line, and company B finds itself tenth in rank. This leaves the captain's chances for straddling a horse in the rather dim distance, but then fame, like other doubtful things, is “mighty onsartin.”


The vernal season is now upon us and nature is arraying herself in her most beautiful robes. The trees are in leafage, while the yards and gardens attract the eye with their almost endless variety of plants and flowers. Roses are in great variety many of them remarkable for their size and beauty, changing their hues two and three times a day. Beautiful flowering vines clamber the verandas and porticos of the houses, sending out their sweet perfume, while the air is filled with the song of birds warbling forth their happiness. This is really a charming little city, but I reckon from neglect and hard usage from the soldiers, it will soon lose its beauty. The migratory birds, such as the robin and thrush, took their leave about the middle of March. Among the birds of song that remain the mocking bird must be ranked as king. He is a noble fellow, not remarkably handsome, of a dove color, with a white spot under his wings. He is a noisy, loud-voiced fellow, an early riser, commencing his song with the first gray streaks of dawn, and he keeps up an incessant flow until about 8 o'clock, when he seeks the shade for rest and quiet. The trees are full of them, and sometimes by the noise they make one would think the trees were full of all kinds of birds. When he comes down to his fine work, one unconsciously lays aside whatever he is doing and listens with delight to his soft warble and the low trembling cadence of his sweet trills.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 52-3

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 20, 1862


Not caring to trouble the captain all the time for passes I have got in the habit of going about town on my sagacity, and I have not yet discovered but it answers the purpose as well as a pass, but I was brought up a day or two ago, when I ran against Charley of company D, who was standing sentinel on the corner of Broad and Middle streets. I was walking leisurely along, when coming to Charley's post, he halted me and demanded my pass. I said I had not got any. He replied if that was the case it was his duty to march me to the provost's office. Rather than have any trouble with him, and to have it military in form, I handed him an old pass I happened to have in my pocket. He looked at it and tearing it up, took the position of a soldier, saying. “You non-coms are getting too big for your clothes, you are putting on altogether too many airs, but I will let you know that you can’t put them on over me.” I said, “Perhaps there is a shadow of truth in what you say. It is possible that they may be somewhat afflicted with inflation, but you know I am one of the meek and lowly kind.” “You? You are the worst pill in the box, you never have a pass, but are all over town, in the back rooms of all the sutler's stores and taking more liberties and putting on more style than half the commissioned officers.” “Now, Charley, that is a sad state of affairs indeed ; but you are the first one that has found any fault with it, but if you desire the honor of escorting me to the provost’s office you can have the job. After you get me there, Old Dan will give you the biggest setting up you have had recently.”

He marched me over, and as we entered, Old Dan looked up and, addressing my escort, asked, “What are you here for? What do you want?” “I found this man running at large without a pass, and thought it was my duty to bring him here.” “Without a pass? Was he making any disturbance?” “No sir.” And so you arrest one of your own regiment because he happens to be without a pass and then come here to interrupt me. If you come here again on such an errand I will put you in the guard house. Go to your post.”

After my escort had gone out with a flea in his ear, Capt. Dan removed his spectacles, and wiping his eyes, which a good deal resembled gashes cut in ripe tomatoes, pointed to the table, saying, “I reckon there is something left in the bottle, help yourself.” I did as the captain requested. After chatting a little with him, a couple of officers came in, and I touched my cap, bade the captain good-day and made my escape.


Among the white people about here, are very few who would be ranked among the first or even second class. Nearly all of them are what is called the poor white trash or clay-eaters. I am told they actually do eat clay, a habit they contract like any other bad habit. Now I cannot vouch for the truth of this, never having seen them eating it, but some of them look as though that was about all they had to eat. They are an utterly ignorant set, scarcely able to make themselves intelligible, and in many ways they are below the negroes in intelligence and manner of living, but perhaps they are not wholly to blame for it, the same principle that will oppress a black man, will a white one. They are entirely cut off from the means of acquiring land or an education, even though they wished to. Public schools are unknown here and land can only be purchased by the plantation. That leaves them in rather a ‘bad fix; poor, shiftless and ignorant. Their highest ambition is to hunt, fish, drink whiskey and toady to their masters. You speak to one of them and he will look at you in a listless sort of way as though unable or undecided whether to answer or not. Ask one of them the distance across the river, and he will either say he don't know, or “it is right smart.” Ask one of them the distance to any place or house out in the country, and he will tell you it is “a right smart step,” or “you go up yer a right smart step, and you will come to a creek,” and from there it will be so many looks and a screech; meaning from the creek that number of angles in the road and as far beyond as the voice will reach. They do not seem to have any intelligent idea about anything, and in talking with the cusses, one scarcely knows whether to pity them or be amused.


The women here have a filthy habit of snuff chewing or dipping as they call it, and I am told it is practiced more or less by all classes of women. The manner of doing it is simple enough; they take a small stick or twig about two inches long, of a certain kind of bush, and chew one end of it until it becomes like a brush." This they dip into the snuff and then put it in their mouths. After chewing a while they remove the stick and expectorate about a gill, and repeat the operation. Many of the women among the clay-eaters chew plug tobacco and can squirt the juice through their teeth as far and as straight as the most accomplished chewer among the lords of creation.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 53-4

Monday, September 21, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 21, 1864

Near Macon, Ga., November 21, 1864.

This makes seven days from Atlanta, 114 miles by the roads we have marched. I think that time for an army like ours, over bad roads, too, for at least four days, is unprecedented.

Our cavalry had a little skirmish at Macon last evening and were driven back. I heard some cannonading, but don't think it amounted to much. There was a little skirmish about the rear of our division at 4 this p. m., but beside racing and maybe capturing some half-dozen of our foragers, it amounted to nothing. Our left occupied Milledgeville. Governor Brown is here at Macon, also Beauregard, and they have scraped together some ten or a dozen things to defend the town with. I don't think from looks at present, that “Pap” is going to try the town, but can't tell. We have thrown up a little rail barricade this evening, which looks as if we were intending to destroy the Macon and Savannah railroad, on which rests the right of our brigade. We are afraid at this writing that Sheaff Herr was captured to-day. He was foraging where that little skirmish took place this p. m., and Rebels were seen after, and within 75 yards of him. It has rained steadily all day and for the last 60 hours, but has turned cold and is now clear.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 322