Showing posts with label Burnside. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Burnside. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

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


Martial law not being a very favorable institution for pleasure parties, I presume the usual May day festival is dispensed with here as I have not seen any parties out or demonstrations of any kind going on. I should think a May party here might be very successful as the woods abound with wild flowers in great variety and beauty. 

Fort Macon surrendered to Gen. Burnside last Friday evening, after a bombardment of eleven hours. The general succeeded in getting his siege guns in battery behind some sand ridges about half a mile in rear of the fort, unobserved by the garrison, and the first notice they had of his presence was a shot from one of the guns. After holding out for eleven hours and seeing they could make no defense and that there was no chance for escape, they hauled down their colors. By this surrender, 65 guns and 450 prisoners, with stores and ammunition, have fallen into our hands. Their loss was eight killed and twenty wounded. Our loss was one killed and five wounded. 

A good story is told in connection with the surrender of this fort to the Confederates. After the war broke out and they were seizing the forts, a strong force of Confederates, with a great flourish of trumpets, presented themselves one morning at the sallyport of the fort, demanding its immediate and unconditional surrender. Now it happened that the only occupants of the fort were an old ordnance sergeant and his wife who had been in charge of the property for many years. The old sergeant came to the gate, and looking over the crowd, said to the officer in command that under the circumstances he thought the garrison might as well surrender, but he would like the privilege of taking the old flag and marching out with the honors of war. To this the officer assented and the old sergeant hauled down the flag and winding it around him, he and his wife marched out, greatly to the surprise of the officer, who found that they two comprised the whole garrison. 

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 55

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: May 11, 1862


This place is what is called a turpentine plantation, where they get the pitch from which turpentine is distilled. The owner, Mr. Bogey, a harmless, inoffensive old gentleman, claims to be a Union man, and I reckon he is, because he does not run away or seem to be afraid of us. He tells me he owns 2000 acres of land, nearly all turpentine forest, and has 10,000 trees running pitch. He said the war had ruined him and thinks it has the whole south. He said the rebels had taken all but one of his horses and about everything else he had that they wanted. His niggers had all left him and gone down town. He expected that when we came, but cared very little about it, as he had only a few and they were about as much trouble and expense to him as they were worth. He said he was getting old, his business was all broke up and by the time the war was over and things settled he would be too old for anything. I asked him if all those pigs running about in the woods were his. He reckoned they were. I inquired if he knew how many he had. He couldn’t tell exactly, but reckoned there was right smart. The thought occurred to me that if that was as near as he could tell, if a few of them were gobbled they would never be missed, provided the squeal could be shut off quick enough. I learn that Gen. Burnside has given Mr. Bogey a protection, whatever that is. That perhaps may do well enough for him, but I should not want to warrant it a sure thing for all these pigs and sheep running about here. 


Our camp is named Camp Bullock, in honor of Alex. H. Bullock of Worcester, Mass. Today the boys are busy writing letters home, and it troubles them to tell where to date their letters from. They invent all sorts of names; some of them with a romantic turn of mind, date from Camp Rural, Woodlawn, Forestdale, Riverdale, etc., but Mason, with a more practical turn of mind, dates his from Hell Centre. The boys who were out in the woods last night say it is great fun, although they were not disturbed; there is just enough excitement and mosquitoes to keep them from getting drowsy. 

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 56-7

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

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant to Major-General George G. Meade, April 9, 1864

CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA.,                       
April 9, 1864.
Maj. Gen. G. G. MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:

For information, and as instructions to govern your preparations for the coming campaign, the following is communicated confidentially, for your own perusal alone:

So far as practicable, all the armies are to move together and toward one common center. Banks has been instructed to turn over the guarding of the Red River to General Steele and to the navy, to abandon Texas with the exception of the Rio Grande, and to concentrate all the force he can—not less than 25,000 men—to move on Mobile. This he is to do without reference to any other movements. From the scattered condition of his command, however, he cannot possibly get it together to leave New Orleans before the 1st of May, if so soon.

Sherman will move at the same time you do, or two or three days in advance, Joe Johnston's army being his objective point and the heart of Georgia his ultimate aim. If successful, he will secure the line from Chattanooga to Mobile, with the aid of Banks.

Sigel cannot spare troops from his army to re-enforce either of the great armies, but he can aid them by moving directly to his front. This he has been directed to do, and is now making preparations for it. Two columns of his command will move south at the same time with the general move, one from Beverly, from 10,000 to 12,000 strong, under Major-General Ord; the other from Charleston, W. Va., principally cavalry, under Brigadier-General Crook. The former of these will endeavor to reach the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad about south of Covington, and if found practicable will work eastward to Lynchburg and return to its base by way of the Shenandoah Valley or join you. The other will strike at Saltville, Va., and come eastward to join Ord. The cavalry from Ord's command will try to force a passage southward; if they are successful in reaching the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, to cut the main lines of the road connecting Richmond with all the South and Southwest.

Gillmore will join Butler with about 10,000 men from South Carolina. Butler can reduce his garrison so as to take 23,000 men into the field directly to his front. The force will be commanded by Maj. Gen. W. F. Smith. With Smith and Gillmore, Butler will seize City Point and operate against Richmond from the south side of the river. His movement will be simultaneous with yours.

Lee's army will be your objective point. Wherever Lee goes, there you will go also. The only point upon which I am now in doubt is whether it will be better to cross the Rapidan above or below him. Each plan presents great advantages over the other, with corresponding objections. By crossing above, Lee is cut off from all chance of ignoring Richmond and going north on a raid: but if we take this route all we do must be done while the rations we start with hold out; we separate from Butler, so that he cannot be directed how to co-operate. By the other route, Brandy Station can be used as a base of supplies until another is secured on the York or James River. These advantages and objections I will talk over with you more fully than I can write them.

Burnside, with a force of probably 25,000 men, will re-enforce you. Immediately upon his arrival, which will be shortly after the 20th instant, I will give him the defense of the road from Bull Run as far south as we wish to hold it. This will enable you to collect all your strength about Brandy Station and to the front.

There will be naval co-operations on the James River, and transports and ferries will be provided, so that should Lee fall back into his intrenchments at Richmond Butler's force and yours will be a unit, or at least can be made to act as such.

What I would direct, then, is that you commence at once reducing baggage to the very lowest possible standard. Two wagons to a regiment of 500 men is the greatest number that should be allowed for all baggage, exclusive of subsistence stores and ordnance stores. One wagon to brigade and one to division headquarters is sufficient, and about two to corps headquarters.

Should by Lee's right flank be our route, you will want to make arrangements for having supplies of all sorts promptly forwarded to White House, on the Pamunkey. Your estimates for this contingency should be made at once. If not wanted there, there is every probability they will be wanted on the James River or elsewhere.

If Lee's left is turned, large provision will have to be made for ordnance stores. I would say not much short of 500 rounds of infantry ammunition would do. By the other, half the amount would be sufficient.

U. S. GRANT,                       

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 33 (Serial No. 60), p. 827-9

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: March 13, 1862


The morning of the 13th was dark and rainy, and we made preparations to land. It always rains where we go; first at Hatteras, then at Roanoke and now here. I think we are rightly named a water division.

We landed in a mudhole, at the mouth of Slocum’s creek. Before noon the troops were all landed, and the march commenced. The 25th taking the advance, we marched up the river bank about a mile, the gun-boats shelling the woods in advance of us. We then struck into the woods, which presented a novel appearance. There was no undergrowth, but a short grass covered the ground, while masses of long gray moss hung in festoons from the branches of the trees, giving them a weird and sombre appearance. We soon came out to a cart road, or horse path, along which we followed for about a couple of miles, when we came to a deserted cavalry camp. I reckon when they heard the sounds of revelry on the river, there was mountings in hot haste, and they sped away to some safer locality. The clouds now broke and the sun shone out hot, which, together with the mud, made the march a toilsome one. A little further on, we came to the carriage road. Here Foster's brigade halted, to let Reno's and Parke's brigades move past us.

As Parke's brigade marched past us, we saw at the right of one of the companies in the 5th Rhode Island regiment, marching by the side of the orderly, a lady, dressed in a natty suit, with high boots and jockey hat, surmounted by a big ostrich feather. She was the observed of our whole brigade, and cheer after cheer went up along the line for the pretty woman. Continuing our march a little farther we reached some extensive earthworks, which were abandoned, but for what reason we of course were ignorant. But we reasoned that if they build works like these and then make no effort to hold them, it shows they are weak and have no confidence in their ability to successfully contend against us, and Newbern will fall an easy prey. The deep mud in the road, together with the heat, began to tell on the boys, and many of them were obliged to fall out by the way. Our march began to grow slower, and when about dusk, it commenced raining again, we turned into the woods at the right of the road, where we were to bivouac for the night. Scouting parties and pickets were sent out in order to give notice if anything unusual was about to transpire during the night. Here in the soft mud of the swamp, with the rain pouring down on us, was our hotel. Mrs. Hemans, in her song of the Pilgrims, said,

“Amidst the storm they sang.”

But there was no song in that swamp; too tired for supper the boys laid themselves down in the mud to sleep, and bitterly thought of the morrow. Stokes and I roomed together between a couple of logs. Taking our rifles and powder between us and covering ourselves closely in the blankets, we were soon fast asleep. But he kept the advantage of me all night, for he is a great fellow to pull blankets, and he came out in the morning all right and dry, while I had been catching the rain. The boys slept well, but woke up cold and wet. There was no time to make a cup of coffee, for we were close on the enemy, and the order was again to the battle. We caught a few hasty mouthfuls of cold meat and hardtack, and quietly fell into our places in line.


We fellows who do the shooting are not counted as any great shakes ordinarily, but yesterday morning we seemed to be regarded as of very great importance, and it took a great amount of swearing and hurrying to and fro of aids and hoarse shoutings of officers to get us around where we were wanted. We were within a half mile of the enemy's line, and Reno's and Parke's brigades were deploying in front of them, on the centre and left of our line. Foster's brigade was to take the right, and the 25th led off up the road, followed by the 24th Massachusetts and the other regiments of the brigade. We soon came in sight of the enemy's works, which were only a short rifle-shot from us. Reno's and Parke's brigades had already opened the ball along the center and left. We filed out of the road to the right, moving towards the river. As we moved out we were honored with a salute from one of the enemy's batteries, but the shots passed harmlessly over our heads. The boys looked a little wild, but with steady step moved on until the 25th and 24th Massachusetts were in line on the right of the road; the 27th and 23d Massachusetts and the 10th Connecticut regiments were on the left.

Foster's brigade was now in line of battle and moving forward towards the edge of the woods next to the clearing. The howitzer battery now came up, took position in the road, between the 24th and 27th Massachusetts, and commenced firing. With the exception of the 25th, Foster's brigade then opened fire. We were on the extreme right and well towards the river, seeing nothing in front of us to draw our fire. The 24th Massachusetts kept up a scattering fire that kept the enemy well down behind their works.

We were ordered, if possible, to turn the enemy’s left. We advanced nearly to the edge of the woods, and only a short distance from the enemy's line. I was running my eye along it to see where and how it ended, expecting every moment to hear the order to charge, but just then the boats commenced throwing shell over us, towards the Confederate line. They had got a low range and their shells were coming dangerously near, splintering and cutting off the trees, and ploughing great furrows in the ground directly in front of us. In this condition of affairs we Were compelled to fall back. The boats, however, were soon notified of their mistake and ceased firing. We again advanced, going over and beyond from where we fell back, when all at once we received a galling flank fire from an unseen battery. We again fell back a few rods, dressing the line and again cautiously advanced. We now discovered that their works curved and connected with a large water battery, situated just in the edge of the woods and concealed by the trees. In the rear of this battery were mounted old 32-pounder marine guns, which gave them an enfilading fire of the clearing in front of their works. From these guns they fired grape shot, which weighed about four pounds each. To charge was hopeless, and in falling back we received another fire from this battery. From these we lost quite a number of men, killed and wounded. I had the honor of stopping one ball myself; it struck a tree, however, before it did me. Having got back from under the guns of this battery, Col. Upton reported the situation to Gen. Foster, who ordered him to move his regiment to the left of the 24th Massachusetts and support the howitzer battery. During all this time, however, the battle was raging furiously along the centre and left. While we were bothering around on the right, a little incident occurred, which perhaps is worthy of mention. Lieut. Draper of my company (B), but now attached to the signal corps, reported to Capt. Clark for duty. He said there was nothing more for the signal corps to do and he would like to take his place in the line. The captain told him he could do as he liked; he thereupon joined his company, and did duty with it the rest of the day. Although a young man of only 20 years of age, he has got the stuff in him of which soldiers are made. In front of our battery the enemy had a large gun which commanded the road, and which proved rather troublesome. This gun after each discharge was hauled around, and again back into position, by a pair of mules. After each discharge a young dare-devil of a marine lieutenant would run down the road almost to the gun, to see what they were up to. On one of these excursions he discovered one of the mules down, probably from a stray shot. He came running back up the road like a wild man, swinging his cap, and shouting at the top of his voice: “Come on, come on 1 for God's sake, come on. Now is your time!” The 25th, without any other order, sprang forward, followed by the 24th Massachusetts and all the line. On the charge they received a heavy fire from the enfilading battery, but on they went, scaling the ditch and parapet like blackbirds, but no enemy was there. Seeing us coming, they took that as a notice to leave, and acted on it immediately. Inside the works, I heard Gen. Burnside ask Gen. Foster who gave the order to charge. Foster replied he didn't know, but it made no difference so long as it was done. The 25th reformed, and, marching a short distance to the rear, charged across the railroad, into the swamp, capturing Col. Avery and his South Carolina regiment, who were covering the retreat. Thus, after five hours' hard fighting, ended the battle of Newbern. Victory had again perched upon our banners, and the cheers of the victors were ringing out on every side. Although the battle resulted as I wished, I certainly did not feel like glorying for who can compute the woe, anguish and sorrow of this day's work? I cannot get over my horror of a battle,

“Where the death angel flaps his broad wing o'er the field,
And human souls go out in agony.”


Foster's brigade starts up the railroad for town, leaving Reno's and Parke's, brigades to take care of the field. Cautiously we moved along, thinking, perhaps, the enemy may have formed a second line and are awaiting our approach. It soon became apparent, however, that they were making the distance between them and us as long as possible. We then hurried along, arriving at the river where the railroad bridge was burned which crossed into town. The view from here was an appalling one. The railroad bridge, a fine structure upwards of 1500 feet in length, was in ruins and the town was on fire in several places. Dense clouds of smoke of inky blackness settled like a pall over the town, while every few moments the lurid flames, with their forked tongues, would leap above the clouds, and the bellowing of the gunboats on the river, throwing their large shells over the town after the retreating enemy, conspired to make a most hideous scene.

It was near the middle of the afternoon when the old ferry boat Curlew (which a few weeks before I had wished sunk) arrived. On board this, Major McCafferty, with a mixed company of about 100 men, with the colors, crossed the river and landed on the wharf at the foot of Craven street. These were the first troops and colors in the city. After landing we marched up Craven nearly to Pollock street, when we halted. The major did not appear to have any business on hand or instructions to make any, so we waited for further orders or for the regiment to join us.

Here was presented an indescribable scene. A town on fire, an invading army entering its gates, the terror-stricken inhabitants fleeing in every direction. The negroes were holding a grand jubilee, some of them praying and in their rude way thanking God for their deliverance; others, in their wild delight, were dancing and singing, while others, with an eye to the main chance, were pillaging the stores and dwellings. But in the midst of all this appalling tumult and confusion, the boys, true to the natural instincts of the soldier, were looking around to see what could be found in the line of trophies and fresh rations. They soon began to come in with their plunder, which the major told them to carry back, as he should allow no pillaging while he was in command. Presently Stokes comes along bringing a little package. The major asked, “What have you there?” “Sausages, sir!” “Go, carry them back where you got them from.” “I reckon not,” replied Stokes, “a lady out here gave them to me.” The major was incredulous, but Stokes offered to show him the lady and let her tell it, whereupon the former subsides, and Stokes, with a roguish twinkle of his eye, jams the package into my haversack, saying, “Sausage for breakfast.” I was proud of the boy, to see how well he was observing instructions, as I have told him from the start that to stand any sort of a chance as a soldier, he must learn to do a right smart job of stealing, and be able to lie the hair right off a man's head. He has certainly shown some smallness, and I doubt if a commissioned officer could have done any better. The regiment landed at the north side of the city, and about night rejoined us. Our hard day's work was at last finished, the regiment was dismissed and the companies quartered in any unoccupied buildings they might find. Generals Burnside and Foster, with soldiers, citizens and negroes, were putting out the fires and bringing order out of confusion. Company B was quartered in a small house on Craven street, and the boys, although hungry, tired and worn down by the fatigues of the day, made frolic of the evening and celebrated their victory.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 42-6

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Captain Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to Charles Francis Adams Sr., August 5, 1864

H.Q. Cav’y Escort, A. of P.               
Before Petersburg, August 5, 1864

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

PHYSICALLY, since I last wrote, I'm glad to say I have picked up amazingly. I have at last shaken off my jaundice and have recovered a white man's looks, my appetite is amazing and I am building up. In fact I have weathered my danger and do not look for any further trouble. Ward Frothingham too has been sent home. His regiment was smashed all to pieces in the assault the other day. The Colonel, Gould, had a thigh shattered, the Lieutenant Colonel killed, and so on. As for Ward, it was the hardest kind of work helping him, for he could n't help himself. Finally however he was sent down to City Point and there gave Dalton my note, and Dalton had him shipped to New York before he could make up his mind as to whether he wanted to go there or not. So he's safe and at home.

Here since I last wrote, too, Burnside has exploded his mine and we have again just failed to take Petersburg. The papers, I see, are full of that mishap and every one is blaming every one, just as though it did any good to cry and quarrel over spilled milk. I did not see the mine exploded, though most of my officers did and they describe it as a most beautiful and striking spectacle — an immense column of debris, mixed with smoke and flame, shooting up in the form of a wheat sheaf some hundred and fifty feet, and then instantly followed by the roar of artillery. At first, and until ten o'clock, rumors came in very favorably — we had carried this and that and were advancing. At about ten I rode out to see what was going on. The fight then was pretty much over. I rode up to the parallels and dismounted and went towards the front. The heat was intense and they were bringing in the wounded, mostly blacks, in great numbers. Very little firing was going on, though occasionally shot went zipping by. Very speedily I began to be suspicious of our success. Our soldiers didn't look or act to my mind like men who had won a victory. There was none of that elation and excitement among the wounded, none of that communicative spirit among the uninjured which always marks a success. I was very soon satisfied of this and so, after walking myself into a tremendous heat and seeing nothing but a train of wounded men, I concluded that I didn't like the sound of bullets and so came home.

My suspicions proved correct. As you know we had been repulsed. How was it? In the papers you'll see all kinds of stories and all descriptions of reasons, but here all seem to have settled down to certain results on which all agree, and certain others on which all quarrel. It is agreed that the thing was a perfect success, except that it did not succeed; and the only reason it did not succeed was that our troops behaved shamefully. They advanced to the crater made by the explosion and rushed into it for cover and nothing could get them out of it. These points being agreed on then begins the bickering. All who dislike black troops shoulder the blame onto them — not that I can find with any show of cause. They seem to have behaved just as well and as badly as the rest and to have suffered more severely. This Division, too, never had really been under fire before, and it was a rough breaking in for green troops of any color. The 9th Corps .and Burnside came in for a good share of hard sayings, and, in fact, all round is heard moaning and wrath, and a scape-goat is wanted.

Meanwhile, as I see it, one person alone has any right to complain and that person is Grant. I should think his heart would break. He had out-generaled Lee so, he so thoroughly deserved success, and then to fail because his soldiers wouldn't fight? It was too bad. All the movements I mentioned in my last turned out to be mere feints and as such completely successful. Deceived by Grant's movement towards Malvern Hill, Lee had massed all his troops in that vicinity, so that when the mine exploded, the rebels had but three Divisions in front of the whole Army of the Potomac. Grant ordered a rapid countermarch of his cavalry from Malvern Hill to the extreme left, to outflank and attack the enemy at daylight, simultaneously with the assault in front. The cavalry did not reach here until the assault had failed. The march was difficult, but it was possible and it was not accomplished. Whose fault was this? Then came the assault, which was no assault, and once more Lee, completely outgeneraled, surprised and nearly lost, was saved by the bad behavior of our troops as in June, and on the same ground and under the same circumstances, he was almost miraculously saved by the stubborn bravery of his own. I find but one satisfaction in the whole thing. Here now, as before in June, whether he got it or no, Grant deserved success, and, where this is the case, in spite of fortune, he must ultimately win it. Twice Lee has been saved in spite of himself. Let him look to it, for men are not always lucky.

If you are curious to know where I myself place the blame, I must freely say on Burnside, and add, that in my own opinion I don't know anything about it. For the whole thing, Burnside's motions and activities deserve great credit. While others were lying idle, he was actively stirring round to see what he could do. The mine was his idea and his work, and he carried it through; no one but himself had any faith in it. So far all was to his credit. Then came the assault. Grant did his part of the work and deceived Lee. Burnside organized his storming column and, apparently, he couldn't have organized it worse. They say the leading brigade was chosen by lot. If so, what greater blunder could have been committed? At any rate a white brigade was put in to lead which could not have been depended on to follow. This being so, the result was what might have been expected. In such a case everything depended on the storming party; for, if they would lead, the column would follow. Volunteers might have been called for, a picked regiment might have been designated; but, no, Burnside sent in a motley crowd of white and black, heavy artillery and dismounted cavalry, and they wouldn't come up to the scratch. So endeth the second lesson before Petersburg.

As to the future, expect no light from me. I do not expect that anything will be done here for six weeks to come. Grant must hold his own, defend Washington and see what Sherman can accomplish, before he really attempts anything heavy here. The news from Sherman is so good, and Hood seems so completely to be playing our game that I think the rebel strength in that region bids fair to be used up. Lee can hold us in check, but, unless we blunder egregiously, he cannot replenish his ranks, and by autumn Grant can resume operations with deadly effect from this base. This I fear is the best view which can be taken of the present attitude of affairs. We have been so unfortunate here and our military lights about Washington — Hunter, Wallace, Halleck, Sigel and the rest — have made such a mess of our affairs in their region, that I don't see but what the army here must, for the present, be reduced to one purely of observation. . . .

As to my new regiment, I see myself gazetted but have as yet received no commission or official announcement. Meanwhile I am maturing my plans for the regiment and shall develop them in a somewhat stately paper distinguished by unusual ability even for me and addressed to Governor Andrew, the which I shall tackle as soon as I have disposed of you. For the rest, I wait here and kill time. There is nothing more for me to do here. This squadron is as contented, as well disciplined and in as good order as I know how to put it, and accordingly I must move or stand still. . . .

SOURCE: Charles Francis Adams, A Cycle of Adams Letters, 1861-1865, Volume 2, p. 170-5

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: February 8, 1862


At daylight, the order to fall in was heard on all sides. Putting on my equipments and taking Spitfire and a big sweet potato, which I had with much labor succeeded in baking, I took my place in my company. The brigade all ready, Gen. Foster gave the order to march. He, with Col. Upton, took his place at the right of our regiment, marching by the flank into the woods. We soon came out to the pickets and the road that runs through the island. Here we filed to the left, marching up the road. Company A, Capt. Pickett, was thrown out as skirmishers. They soon fell in with the enemy's pickets and drove them in. The column moved up the road to within a short distance of the clearing, in front of the rebel works. On the right of the road the ground was hard and free from brush, but on the left was an almost impenetrable swamp, covered with a dense growth of tangle-blush and horse briars. The right wing of the regiment filed to the right, while the left plunged into the swamp, and with swords and jack-knives, succeeded in cutting a path until they had penetrated the swamp far enough to form our line. The regiment was now nearly all in the swamp, the right resting just across the road. The howitzer battery had taken position in the road, in front of our right wing. The 23d and 27th Massachusetts formed on our right, while the 10th Connecticut was held in reserve. We were now in line in the swamp, and facing to the front, commenced firing. The battery had already opened the ball, and were receiving the attention of the enemy in front. We could see nothing to shoot at, but taking our range by the smoke of the enemy’s guns we blazed away. We fired high, low and obliquely, thinking if we covered a wide range of ground, we might possibly lame somebody, and it seemed our shots must have proved troublesome, for they turned their attention to us, pouring musketry and canister shot without stint into the swamp. We were up to our knees in mud and water, so their shot passed over us without doing much damage. We were now ordered to cease firing and advance, but how to advance was the question. We could stand on a bog and cut away the briars in front of us and jump to another one; where they were not too large we could crawl through them, tearing not only our clothes but our hides as well. The officers rendered good service in cutting away the briars with their swords. In this way we could advance a few steps at a time and then fire a few rounds; the enemy all this time showing us marked attention. Capt. Foster of company D was the first man I saw hit. I was watching him as he stood on a bog, cutting away the briars with his sword, and thinking of him as colonel of the old 8th regiment Massachusetts volunteer militia, in which I used to muster. The shot struck him near the eye. He whirled round on the bog, and would have fallen had not three of his men caught him and led him to the rear. I was rather amused at the major's plan of rifle practice; he was practicing with a large revolver, shooting into the air at an elevation of about 80 degrees. Some one asked him what he was trying to act out. “Why,” replied the major, “you see my shots attain their summit directly over the enemy, and if one of those shot in falling should hit a man on top of his head, his goose is cooked just as effectually as though he had been hit with a cannon ball.” By cutting and crowding ourselves through the briars, we advanced to within about 300 yards of the enemy. Our ammunition being now exhausted and having been in the swamp about three hours we were ordered out. The 21st Massachusetts took our places and the 51st New York and 51st Pennsylvania regiments forced their way through to the left front; the three regiments succeeded in getting out on the enemy’s right flank. Seeing that all was now lost, the rebels took to their heels for the head of the island, followed by Reno's and Foster's brigades. At the head of the island, near the enemy's camp, was Gen. Burnside with the 24th Massachusetts regiment, to whom Col. Shaw, in command of the Confederate forces, surrendered. By this, about 3000 prisoners, with their arms, ammunition and stores, fell into our hands. But the greatest prize of all, old ex-Governor Wise, slipped through our fingers. Perhaps, having some premonitions of the fate which awaited his command, he wisely took himself off the island last night, leaving his command with Col. Shaw, of the 8th North Carolina regiment. The old governor probably acted on the principle of the militia captain who was about leading his company into action. He made them a little speech, telling them to be brave and valiant, not to run until actually forced to. “But,” he said, “in case that should happen, and I being a little lame, I think I had better start now.”


During the action I had seen quite a number hit and led back to the rear, but I had little time to think much about it. After the chase commenced and we marched through the little redoubt and over the ground held by the enemy, and I began to see the mangled forms of dead and dying men, I was filled with an indescribable horror and wanted to go right home. I now began to realize what we had been doing, and thought that, if in this age of the world, with all our boasted civilization and education, men could not settle their differences short of cutting each other’s throats, we were not very far removed from barbarism. But I suppose so long as the nature of man is ambitious and selfish he will try to obtain by force what he cannot attain by other means. It was about night when we reached the Confederate camp, found the business had all been done, and Gen. Burnside was master of the situation. We now appropriated to our own use the log barracks of the enemy, leaving them to secure lodgings as best they could, as we had done the night before, with only this difference; they had a large body-guard over them, to see that they were orderly and kept the peace.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 34-6

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 28, 1862


Work is still going on, getting the boats off and getting them across the bar. The Eastern Queen is afloat and will be with us today. The little steamer Pilot Boy, with Generals Burnside and Foster aboard, is flying around among the vessels of the fleet, giving orders to the boat commanders and commanders of troops. The sutler came aboard today; he is quite a stranger and the boys gathered around him, asking him a thousand questions. He brought with him a small stock of fruit and other notions which went off like hot cakes at any price which he chose to ask. Some of the boys thought the prices pretty high, but they should consider that it is with great difficulty and expense that things are got here at all. They have the advantage, however, in not being obliged to buy, if they think the charges too much. The Eastern Queen is coming across the swash, the bands are all playing and cheers are going out from all the fleet.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 29

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 23, 1862


Another great storm. The wind is blowing a gale and the sea is dashing, foaming and threatening everything with destruction. The camps on shore are flooded, the soldiers driven into the fort or up the island; more vessels ashore and the fleet going to the devil. A great many of the men are beginning to despond, and in fact the success of the expedition begins to look gloomy enough. Nothing but hardship and disaster has attended us since we left Fortress Monroe, and God only knows when it will end. Almost any other man but Gen. Burnside would be ready to give it up as a failure; but he is everywhere to be seen, looking cheerful and confident, and encouraging his men. He is a man of indomitable energy, perseverance and courage. He knows no such word as fail, and is bound to overcome all obstacles and dangers.

If the general, by the blessing of God, gets the expedition out of this scrape, and is successful where he strikes, it will give him great prestige, and he will be thought competent for any command. Our engine is slowly working, helping the anchor cable, and Mr. Mulligan says if the other boats will stick to their mudhooks an keep clear of us we shall ride it out all safe. I really hope they will for I am tired of these cathead drills. I have always had rather of a desire for a sea voyage, but I am willing to confess that that wish is fully gratified. This being “rocked in the cradle of the deep" sounds all very pretty in song and romance, but the romance is played out with me, and I think the person who wrote the song,

“A Life on the Ocean Wave,”

must have been a proper subject for a lunatic asylum.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 26

Friday, April 17, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 15, 1862

Rough weather still continues, and we are out of rations, subsisting entirely on hardtack and a short ration of that. Unless it calms down so a tug can get alongside, we shall be entirely out in a day or two more. Three more boats dragged their anchors and went ashore this morning, and other boats, with their flags union down, are calling for help. In fact, things are beginning to look gloomy, but amidst all the trouble and discouragements, Gen. Burnside is everywhere to be seen, flying about among the boats and vessels, encouraging his men and looking as cheerful as though everything was going to suit him. Today a rebel boat came down the sound to take a look at us. One of our boats went out to meet her, but the rebel, not caring for an interview, hauled off. The colonel, surgeon and one other man of the 9th New Jersey regiment were drowned today, by the upsetting of a small boat they were in. And so we go, trouble and dangers by sea, and I suppose there will be more by land, if we ever get there.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 22

Saturday, March 28, 2020

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

This morning presents a scene of terror and wildest grandeur. The wrecked steamer has not broken up, but has settled down in the sand, the sea breaking over her, and her rigging is full of men. Boats that have been sent to her assistance are returning, having been unable to render any. We learn from the returning boats that she is the City of New York, loaded with stores. Another tug, with Gen. Burnside and a crew of picked men, has just gone to their assistance, and it is hoped will be able to take them off. The general is not one to see his men perish, and make no effort to rescue them. I reckon our friends at home, when they hear of the loss of this boat, will confound it with our own, and will experience the greatest anxiety until they get our letters, or get righted through the papers. The tug returned this afternoon, bringing off the officers and crew of the wrecked steamer, who report that she is breaking up, and will soon go to pieces.


The wind is still blowing a gale. Many of our boats and vessels which have arrived are parting their cables and dragging their anchors, are being driven ashore, or sinking or fouling with each other. The saloon and upper works of our boat are stove in from gunboats and schooners fouling with us. One of our anchor cables has parted, and the engine is slowly working, helping the other one. Many of our vessels are still outside, and fears are entertained that some of them will be lost.

Capt. Clark says no boat can get in here today without the most skilful pilot, and then at great risk of being lost. The gunboat Zouave, with companies D and H of our regiment aboard, is in a sinking condition. Tugs are alongside of her, and the boys are scratching for their lives to get aboard of them. This is the kind of soldiering that makes the boys think of home and of their mothers. I cannot help laughing just a little when a boat or schooner fouls with us, and the timbers and planks begin to crack, to see the boys come out of their bunks, their eyes, sticking out of their heads, and rush up stairs to see what the matter is. Well, it is not strange that these young boys should feel a little nervous, as it takes a man of pretty strong nerve to keep his fears down. We are here and have got to make the best of it. If we are to be lost, all our fears will avail us nothing; we must take things coolly, trusting in Providence, Mr. Mulligan and the good old steamer for safety.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 21-2

Monday, January 27, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 9, 1862

As bright and lovely a morning as ever dawned on Chesapeake bay. The expedition sails today. The harbor is full of life, tugboats are running in all directions, vessels are getting themselves in their order in line, the anchors are all up and waiting the signal gun to start.

10 a. m. The signal gun announces that all is ready for the departure of the expedition. Slowly the flag-boat, containing Gen. Burnside and staff, moves off, followed by other boats as fast as they get ready to sail. Nothing particular occurred during the day’s sail. The bay is wide and we were so far from either shore that we could distinguish nothing of interest. We passed the mouth of the Potomac river a little before sunset, and shortly after dropped anchor for the night.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 18

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: December 2, 1861


The troops encamped around here have been formed into three brigades, and will be commanded by Brigadier Generals Foster, Reno and Parke; the whole to be under command of Gen. A. E. Burnside and known as Burnside's coast division. Our regiment has been assigned the right of the first brigade, comprising the 25th, 23d, 24th and 27th Massachusetts and 10th Connecticut regiments, under command of Brig. Gen. John G. Foster, U. S. A. I think we are fortunate in our commander, as he appears to me like a man who understands his business. Gen. Foster is a regular army officer, ranking as captain of engineer!. He served in the Mexican war, and was with Major Anderson at the storming and surrender of Fort Sumpter. He has recently been commissioned brigadier general of volunteers. Judging from appearances, I have great faith in him as an able commander.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 13-4

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Murat Halstead to Salmon P. Chase, April 1, 1863

Cincinnati, Apl. 1st., 1863.
Gov. Chase

You do once in a while, don't you, say a word to the President, or Stanton, or Halleck, about the
conduct of the War?

Well, now, for God's sake say that Genl. Grant, entrusted with our greatest army, is a jackass in the original package. He is a poor drunken imbecile. He is a poor stick sober, and he is most of the time more than half drunk, and much of the time idiotically drunk.

About two weeks ago, he was so miserably drunk for twenty-four hours, that his Staff kept him shut up in a state-room on the steamer where he makes his headquarters — because he was hopelessly foolish.

I know precisely what I am writing about and the meaning of the language I use.

Now are our Western heroes to be sacrificed by the ten thousand by this poor devil?

Grant will fail miserably, hopelessly, eternally. You may look for and calculate upon his failure in every position in which he may be placed, as a perfect certainty.

Don't say I am grumbling. Alas! I know too well I am but faintly outlining the truth.

Grant is shamefully jealous of Rosecrans, just as such an imbecile would naturally be of his superior; and he and his staff would chuckle to see Rosecrans cut to pieces.

Anybody would be an improvement on Grant!

If nothing else can be done, now while the Cumberland River is up send all Grant's army at once,
except a division or two, to join Rosecrans and he can instantly penetrate to Georgia.

Or let me suggest a plan. Have Grant's Army withdrawn from below Memphis, and suddenly, without warning, send the force amounting to at least 50.000 men up the Tennessee River as far as it is navigable. This would throw them in the rear of Bragg.

Anything to get the army of the Mississippi out of the control of the horrible fool, Grant!

There is another plan of operations. Here is Burnside's  corps in Kentucky. The rebel invasion of Kentucky is “played out”— Now then order Burnside to secure with his troops just arrived all the places in Ky., and the Louisville & Nashville R. R: and order a division of Grant's wasting and useless  army instantly up the Cumberland to garrison Nashville. Then Rosecrans can have concentrated in a mass all the old troops of his and Wright's command now in Ky., and at Gallatin, Tenn., and Nashville. He will thus have 120.000 men; and give Rosecrans that many men, and he will with absolute certainty, break the enemy's center. He will destroy Bragg's Army utterly, this side the Tennessee River.

Rosecrans is the man to strike the blow. For Christ's and the country's sake, put the weapon in his

With any sort of handling of the troops we have in the West under Grant, Rosecrans & Burnside, and our enormous steamboat transportation, not ten men of Bragg's Army of 65.000 should escape beyond the Tennessee River. All that is wanted is concerted action — that can only be had through an impulse from headquarters, which shall subordinate the proceedings of Grant & Burnside to those of Rosecrans who is in the center, at the post of danger; is the fighting man; and has the absolute and enthusiastic confidence of his troops

Can you not do something to put the spear in his hands? That is our only hope. If Burnside is allowed to fool away 50.000 men in Ky., and Grant to bury 100.000 in the Mississippi swamps, we are gone up.

M. H.

SOURCE: Library of Congress, Washington D.C.: Lincoln, Abraham. Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833 to 1916: Murat Halstead to Salmon P. Chase, Wednesday, Drunkenness of General Grant. April 1, 1863. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 20, 1863

We have reports of some successes to-day. Gen. Hampton, it appears, surprised and captured several companies of the enemy's cavalry, a day or two since, near Culpepper Court House. And Gen. Wheeler has captured several hundred of the enemy in East Tennessee, driving the rest into the fortifications of Knoxville. Gen. Longstreet, at last accounts, was near Knoxville with the infantry. We shall not be long kept in suspense — as Longstreet will not delay his action; and Burnside may find himself in a "predicament."

A private soldier writes the Secretary to-day that his mother is in danger of starving — as she failed to get flour in Richmond, at $100 per barrel. He says if the government has no remedy for this, he and his comrades will throw down ,their arms and fly to some other country with their families, where a subsistence may be obtained.

Every night robberies of poultry, salt meats, and even of cows and hogs are occurring. Many are desperate.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 100-1

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: December 3, 1863

The recent victory of Grant near Chattanooga seems to be very complete. We have not heard from Burnside, besieged in Knoxville by Longstreet, since the 24th or 25th. We have some apprehensions, but hope that he has been relieved by Grant's success. Meade has pushed into the heart of eastern Virginia after Lee. I fear the result. The Army of the Potomac has been as unlucky on Virginia soil as the army of Lee on our soil.

Company B left today for home, over three-fourths, fifty-four, having enlisted as veteran volunteers. Companies A, E, and F are likely to follow suit.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 445-6

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, April 25, 1864

Reverses in North Carolina are bad at this time. The death of Flusser is most unfortunate. I presume the blame of the disasters will be attributed to the Navy, which, in fact, is merely auxiliary to the army. Letter-writers and partisan editors who are courted and petted by the military find no favor with naval men, and as a consequence the Navy suffers detraction.

Burnside's army corps passed through Washington to-day, whites, blacks, and Indians numbering about 30,000. All the indications foreshadow a mighty conflict and battle in Virginia at an early day.

Fox and Edgar have gone to Fortress Monroe. Calls for naval aid and assistance come up from that quarter.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 17

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 2, 1863

Gen. Lee writes that he will endeavor to protect the workmen while removing the iron at Aquia Creek, but he fears the work has been too long delayed. The government has been too slow.

Gen. Sam Jones writes from Abingdon that his cavalry was at Jonesborough on the 30th ult., although the enemy's raiding parties were on this side. He says if he had a little more infantry, he could soon clear East Tennessee of the foe; and asks that an order from Gen. Cooper (A. and I. G.), calling for two of his best regiments of cavalry, be revoked.

In Gen. Lee's recent campaign beyond the Rappahannock, our losses in killed, wounded, and missing amounted to 1740; the enemy's losses must have been three times that number.

The President made a speech in Charleston on the 1st instant. We have copies from him to-day of his correspondence with Gen. Bragg since he left Chickamauga field. Gen. B. says he will immediately call for Hardee's brigades, promised him, and without delay commence operations on the enemy's left (it is too wet on the right), and drive Burnside out of East Tennessee. But he complains of Gen. Buckner, who assumes to have an independent command in East Tennessee and West Virginia. The President replies that neither Bragg nor Buckner has jurisdiction over Gen. Jones in West Virginia, but that he gets his orders from Richmond. He does not promise to remove Buckner, whom he deems only impatient, but says he must be subject to Bragg's orders, etc.

Gen. Bragg has applied for Gen. Forrest (who went some time since to Mobile and tendered his resignation, in a pet with Gen. Bragg) to command a cavalry force in North Mississippi and West Tennessee. In short, the President is resolved to sustain Gen. Bragg at the head of the army in Tennessee in spite of the tremendous prejudice against him in and out of the army. And unless Gen. Bragg does something more for the cause before Congress meets a month hence, we shall have more clamor against the government than ever. But he has quashed the charges (of Bragg) against Gen. Polk, and assigned him, without an investigation, to an important command.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 87-8

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, Sunday, October 25, 1863

Camp White, October 25, (Sunday), 1863.

Dear Mother: — I received your letter of the 19th last evening. We have been very busy here the last week, worrying the Rebels in our front to prevent their sending reinforcing the Rebels who are opposing General Burnside, and getting ready for apprehended attacks from them. It is now quiet again and the rain and snow in the mountains are fortifications getting stronger every day.

We are not allowed to build winter quarters yet, but the men are fixing up all sorts of shelters and fireplaces to find comfort these cold nights.

I heard from Lucy after she was well on her way to Chillicothe. . . . I think it almost certain that she will come back to stay in a fortnight or so.

I hope you will stand the cold winter well. — Love to all.

Affectionately, your son,
Mrs. Sophia Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 442

Monday, October 29, 2018

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: September 13, 1863

Sunday a year ago was the 14th. South Mountain and its losses and glories. How the sadness for the former fades and the satisfaction with the latter grows!

General Burnside has east Tennessee. Knoxville ours; Cumberland Gap taken, and our forces on the railroad nearly to Bristol. Knoxville to Bristol one hundred and thirty miles; Bristol to depot at bridge one hundred and seven; total two hundred and thirty-seven. Charleston to bridge one hundred and sixty-six.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 435