Showing posts with label Chickens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chickens. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 29, 1863

STEAMBOAT John Adams, 
January 29, 1863.

Again we are on our way into the heart of secesh. If we do not get blown to pieces before morning we shall get some distance above where any of our gunboats have been within a year. Tonight I have heard that a negro has come from the scene of the fight the other night, and he reports seven rebels killed, including their daring Capt. Clark. Capt. Clifton of this boat is a most singular mixture of candor and roughness and refinement. Though he swears like a trooper, there is a drollery and generosity and honesty about him that quite captivate me.

The other night I was standing beside him in silence after our troops had marched away from the shore, and the mate came up and asked permission to go ashore and get some hens. The Captain exclaimed, “Oh, my God! Doctor, just think of this man robbing henroosts right in the midst of death and damnation.” The deep, sepulchral voice with which this was uttered made the whole thing so tragico-comical that I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 352

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Between September 2 & 20, 1861

On the morning of the 2nd, with every man a knapsack, haversack and canteen—and these filled to overflowing, the Seventh, for the first time in its history, took up the line of march, under command of Major Rowett, Colonel Cook being in command of the brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Babcock absent in Illinois. The spirits of the men run high—they expected every moment to be rushed into battle; but how sadly were they disappointed. For days and nights we followed Prentiss in the pursuit of Jeff. Thompson; marching over rocks and hills, passing through Booneville, Fredrickton and Jackson, to Cape Girardeau, where we go into camp in the field to the rear of the town, thus ending our bloodless Missouri expedition. No Jeff. Thompson—no rebels could be found, all having made their exit far away over the mountains. Though it was a hard march, causing the weary, foot-sore soldiers to fall oft times by the way, the Seventh as a whole, enjoyed it well, and they will not soon forget the bountiful barn-yards they so frequently made descents upon, leaving nothing behind but geese- and chicken-heads to rehearse the story. I was much amused one evening by hearing an officer tell some of the men that over beyond that hill, about one mile, was a barn full of chickens, “and the first soldier who molested them he would buck and gag.” By a quick wink of the eye, the boys were made to understand him, and around the camp-fires these men sat that night eating their supper and laughing most heartily, for we noticed that they were masticating some old fat hens. Of course the officer's orders were against all depredations, but orders were sometimes accompanied with a wink, which the men always watched for. If none accompanied the orders they always understood what was meant.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 14-5

Friday, December 20, 2019

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

Our company detailed and reported this morning at headquarters for picket duty, but not being needed, returned to camp. Were somewhat disappointed, for we preferred a day on picket by way of change.

Pickets are the eyes of the army and the terror of those who live in close proximity to their line. Twenty-four hours on picket is hardly ever passed without some good foraging.

We broke camp at ten o'clock A. M., and very glad of it. After a pleasant tramp of ten miles we reached Rocky Springs. Here we have good, cold spring water, fresh from the bosom of the hills.

We have met several of the men of this section who have expressed surprise at the great number of troops passing. They think there must be a million of "you'ns" coming down here. We have assured them they have not seen half of our army. To our faces these citizens seem good Union men, but behind our backs, no doubt their sentiments undergo a change. Probably they were among those who fired at us, and will do it again as soon as they dare. I have not seen a regular acknowledged rebel since we crossed the river, except those we have seen in their army. They may well be surprised at the size of our force, for this. Vicksburg expedition is indeed a big thing, and I am afraid the people who were instrumental in plunging this country headlong into this war have not yet realized what evils they have waked up. They are just beginning to open their eyes to war's career of devastation. They must not complain when they go out to the barnyard in the morning and find a hog or two missing at roll-call, or a few chickens less to pick corn and be picked in turn for the pot. I think these southern people will be benefited by the general diffusion of information which our army is introducing; and after the war new enterprise and better arts will follow—the steel plow, for instance, in place of the bull-tongue or old root that has been in use here so long to scratch the soil. The South must suffer, but out of that suffering will come wisdom.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 9-10

Thursday, October 31, 2019

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

We were annoyed some little through the night, by the rebels firing, but they didn't hit anybody. Two regiments of infantry with some cavalry crossed the river for a little scout. I do not think there are many rebels over there, but what few there are, ought to be whipped. They will have to fall back at the approach of our men, but that is easily done, and, when our forces return, they will be right back firing from behind the trees.

The army is marching on around Vicksburg, and we are very anxious to take our place in this grand column. We are quite tired of the duties assigned us here, and have had orders to move several times, which were as often countermanded.

Had chicken for dinner. Uncle Sam doesn't furnish chickens in his bill of fare, but they will get into the camp kettle. We have to be very saving of the regular rations, consequently must look outside for extras—chickens, ham, sweet potatoes, etc., all taste good. I walked down the river a short distance, viewing the scenery, when a bullet flew through the trees not far from my head. I looked across the river from whence it came, but could not see anybody. Did not stay there long, but got back to camp, where I felt safer.

Our camp is in the bottom, close to the river bank. – The enemy at Grand Gulf spiked their cannon and retreated to Vicksburg. If that place could not be taken by the gun-boats on the river in front, the infantry marching in their rear made them hustle out in a hurry. When the people in Vicksburg see their retreating troops returning to the town they went out to protect, they will think Grant's marching around them means something.

While writing a few letters to-day I was amused to notice the various attitudes taken by the boys while writing. One wrote on a drum-head, another on his cartridge-box; one used a board and several wrote on the top of a battery caisson. These letters would be more highly appreciated by the recipients if the circumstances under which they were prepared were realized.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 7-8

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: December 24, 1864

This diary must soon come to an end. Will fill the few remaining pages and then stop. Co. “I” boys are very kind. They have reduced soldiering to a science. All divided up into messes of from three to five each. Any mess is glad to have us in with them, and we pay them with accounts of our prison life. Know they think half we tell them is lies. I regret the most of anything, the loss of my blanket that stood by me so well. It's a singular fact that the first day of my imprisonment it came into my possession, and the very last day it took its departure, floating off away from me after having performed its mission. Should like to have taken it North to exhibit to my friends. The infantry move only a few miles each day, and I believe we stay here all day. Went and saw Mr. Kimball. The officers commanding knew him for a Union man, and none of his belongings were troubled. In fact, he has anything he wants now. Announces his intention of going with the army until the war closes. Our good old friend Mrs. Dickinson did not fare so well. The soldiers took everything she had on the place fit to eat; all her cattle, pork, potatoes, chickens, and left them entirly destitute. We went and saw them, and will go to headquarters to see what can be done. Later. — We went to Gen. Smith, commanding 3d Brigade, 2d Division, and told him the particulars. He sent out foraging wagons, and now she has potatoes, corn, bacon, cattle, mules, and everything she wants. Also received pay for burned fences and other damages. Now they are smiling and happy and declare the Yankees to be as good as she thought them bad this morning. The men being under little restraint on this raid were often destructive. Nearly every citizen declared their loyalty, so no distinction is made. Gen. Smith is a very kind man, and asked us a great many questions. Says the 9th Michigan Cavalry is near us and we may see them any hour. Gen. Haun also takes quite an interest in us, and was equally instrumental with Gen. Smith in seeing justice done to our friends the Kimballs and Dickinsons. They declare now that one of us must marry the daughter of Mrs. Dickinson, the chaplain performing the ceremony. Well, she is a good girl, and I should judge would make a good wife, but presume she would have something to say herself and will not pop the question to her. They are very grateful, and only afraid that after we all go away the rebel citizens and soldiers will retaliate on them. Many officers have read portions of my diary, and say such scenes as we have passed through seem incredible. Many inquire if we saw so and so of their friends who went to Andersonville, but of course there were so many there that we cannot remember them. This has been comparatively a day of rest for this portion of the Union army, after having successfully crossed the river. We hear the cavalry is doing some fighting on the right, in the direction of Fort McAllister. Evening. — We marched about two or three miles and are again encamped for the night, with pickets out for miles around. Many refugees join the army prepared to go along with them, among whom are a great many negroes.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 156-7

Monday, February 4, 2019

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: December 23, 1864

It is not yet daylight in the morning, and are anxiously awaiting the hour to arrive when we may go out to the road. Slept hardly any during the night. More or less fighting all night, and could hear an army go by toward Savannah, also some shouting directly opposite us. Between the hours of about twelve and three all was quiet, and then again more travel. We conjecture that the rebel army has retreated or been driven back, and that the Yankees are now passing along following them up. Shall go out about nine o'clock. Later. — Are eating breakfast before starting out to liberty and safety. Must be very careful now and make no mistake. If we run into a rebel squad now, might get shot. We are nervous, and so anxious can hardly eat. Will pick up what we really need and start. Perhaps good bye, little house on the banks of the Ogechee, we shall always remember just how you look, and what a happy time we have had on this little island. Dave says: “Pick up your blanket and that skillet, and come along.” Night.—Safe and sound among our own United States Army troops, after an imprisonment of nearly fourteen months. Will not attempt to describe my feelings now. Could not do it. Staying with the 80th Ohio Infantry, and are pretty well tired out from our exertions of the day. At nine o'clock we started out toward the main road. When near it Eli and I stopped, and Dave went ahead to see who was passing. We waited probably fifteen minutes, and then heard Dave yell out: “Come on boys, all right! Hurry up!” Eli and I had a stream to cross on a log. The stream was some fifteen feet wide, and the log about two feet through. I tried to walk that log and fell in my excitement. Verily believe if the water had been a foot deeper I would have drowned. Was up to my arms, and I was so excited that I liked never to have got out. Lost the axe, which Dave had handed to me, and the old stand-by coverlid which had saved my life time and again floated off down the stream, and I went off without securing it—the more shame to me for it. Dave ran out of the woods swinging his arms and yelling like mad, and pretty soon Eli and myself appeared, whooping and yelling. The 80th Ohio was just going by, or a portion of it, however, and when they saw first one and then another and then the third coming toward them in rebel dress, with clubs which they mistook for guns, they wheeled into line, thinking, perhaps, that a whole regiment would appear next. Dave finally explained by signs, and we approached and satisfied them of our genuineness. Said we were hard looking soldiers, but when we came to tell them where we had been and all the particulars, they did not wonder. Went right along with them, and at noon had plenty to eat. Are the guests of Co. I, 80th Ohio. At three the 80th had a skirmish, we staying back a mile with some wagons, and this afternoon rode in a wagon. Only came about three or four miles to-day, and are near Kimball's, whom we shall call and see the first opportunity. The soldiers all look well and feel well, and say the whole confederacy is about cleaned out. Rebels fall back without much fighting. Said there was not enough to call it a fight at the bridge. Where we thought it a battle, they thought it nothing worth speaking of. Believe ten or so were killed, and some wounded. Hear that some Michigan cavalry is with Kilpatrick off on another road, but they do not know whether it is the 9th Mich. Cav., or not. Say they see the cavalry every day nearly, and I must keep watch for my regiment. Soldiers forage on the plantations, and have the best of food; chickens, ducks, sweet potatoes, etc. The supply wagons carry nothing but hard-tack, coffee, sugar and such things. Tell you, coffee is a luxury, and makes one feel almost drunk. Officers come to interview us every five minutes, and we have talked ourselves most to death to-day. They say we probably will not be called upon to do any fighting during this war, as the thing is about settled. They have heard of Andersonville, and from the accounts of the place did not suppose that any lived at all. New York papers had pictures in, of the scenes there, and if such was the case it seems funny that measures were not taken to get us away from there. Many rebels are captured now, and we look at them from a different stand point than a short time since.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 154-6

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: December 1, 1864

Still at Doctortown, and the town is doctoring me up “right smart.” There is also a joke to this, but a weak one. The whole town are exercised over the coming of the Yankee army, and I laugh in my sleeve. Once in a while some poor ignorant and bigoted fellow amuses himself cursing me and the whole U. S. army. Don't talk back much, having too much regard for my bodily comfort. orders, have come to put me on a train for Blackshear. Have made quite a number of friends here, who slyly talk to me encouragingly. There are many Union people all through the South, although they have not dared to express themselves as such, but now they are more decided in their expressions and actions. Had a canteen of milk, and many other luxuries. Darkys are profuse in their gifts of small things. Have now a comb, good jack knife, and many little nicknacks. One old negress brought me a chicken nicely roasted. Think of that, prisoners of war, roast chicken! Shall jump off the cars every twenty rods hereafter. Tried to get a paper of the guard, who was reading the latest, but he wouldn't let me see it. Looks rather blue himself, and I surmise there is something in it which he don't like. All right, old fellow, my turn will come some day. Young darky brought me a cane, which is an improvement on my old one. Walk now the length of my limit with an old fashioned crook cane and feel quite proud. Later.—Got all ready to take a train due at 3:30, and it didn't stop. Must wait until morning. Hope they won't stop for a month.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 129-30

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: Friday, November 25, 1864

Thanksgiving chickens for dinner. Wrote to Mrs. Beers. Forage caps issued. Considerable dissatisfaction among the boys. Band played some time.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 136

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: November 29, 1864

The sixth day of freedom, and a hungry one. Still where I wrote last night, and watching the house. A woman goes out and in but cannot tell much about her from this distance. No men folks around. Two or three negro boys playing about. must approach the house, but hate to. Noon. — Still right here. Hold my position. More than hungry. Three days since I have eaten anything, with the exception of a small pototoe and piece of bread eaten two days ago and left from the day before. That length of time would have been nothing in Andersonville, but now being in better health demand eatables, and it takes right hold of this wandering sinner. Shall go to the house towards night. A solitary woman lives there with some children. My ankle from the sprain and yesterday's walking is swollen and painful. Bathe it in water, which does it good. Chickens running around. Have serious meditations of getting hold of one or two of them after they go to roost, then go farther back into the wilderness, build a fire with my matches and cook them. That would be a royal feast. But if caught at it, it would go harder with me than if caught legitimately. Presume this is the habitation of some of the skulkers who return and stay home nights. Believe that chickens squawk when being taken from the roost. Will give that up and walk boldly up to the house.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 126

Friday, March 16, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: October 3, 1863

Griffin's Landing, October 3, 1863.

To-day one of the pilots and engineers induced the colonel and me go with them over to the Arkansas side. We went over in the yawl, and after a walk of three miles came to a most delightful place owned by Worthington. His son and daughter, bright quadroons, did the honors of the house in his absence. They are the best educated persons of color I ever met. The young man was educated in France and the young woman in Oberlin, Ohio. She played the piano quite well and sings beautifully. A negro lady is something of a novelty, and if I did not conduct myself exactly right in her presence, I think I am somewhat excusable, for I could see the others were equally puzzled. She is well informed, sensible and talks with animation, using very pretty language. She furnished us with peach brandy and honey, a gentle mixture of which produced a very nice toddy. We then moved on some three miles further to the Bass plantation, where we found two of the regular snuff-dipping, swearing, Southern women, of the low, white-trash family. Had lots of fun with them. Got a couple of dozen chickens and a bushel of sweet potatoes of them and started back. Our road lay along a lake and at any minute we could get a shot at cranes, geese, ducks or turtles. A drove of wild turkeys also furnished us with a half dozen shots, but with all the expenditure of powder and lead, our consciences are clear of hurting anything. Got back to Worthington's for dinner at 3 p. m., and to the boat at dark. Altogether one of the most pleasant days I have passed in the army.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 195

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: Sunday, September 27, 1863

Sent out foraging party. Moved at 8 o'clock. Passed through Jonesboro about noon. Camped four and a half miles from town. Co. C detailed as picket. Post northwest of camp on Kinsport road. Two rebel families near by. Made a levy of bacon and potatoes and chickens. Gave receipt Bowman and Matthews. In the evening Major N. came and told me he was going home. Sent Buell and Baker into camp. Gave notes to Case for $80.00 and A. B. for $40.00. Wrote home and to Fannie Andrews. Boys all jolly. Warden officer of the day. (A. B. N. ordered to Cleveland on recruiting service.)

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 90

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: September 18, 1863

Moved out between 2 and 3 A. M. Got on the wrong road and lost some time. Marched to within 5 miles of Greenville and got breakfast and dinner at 11:30 A. M. Bought a chicken and turkey. Good dinner. Drake ate with me, about sick, looks miserable. Moved on to Greenville and saw some of the 103rd Ohio. Very pretty town. Prettiest have seen in Tenn. Home of Andy Johnson. Woman said, “Noble and brave Union boys, God grant you may all return home safely, our country at peace.” Camped with Brigade, 5 miles on. 18 miles to Jonesboro. Sent out squad for provisions.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 89

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: September 11, 1863

Awakened at daylight and moved at sunrise. In advance. Gen. Shackleford now commands 4th Div. and Col. Carter the Brigade. Gen. Carter Prov. Mar. Gen. of Tenn. Reached Clinch River at sundown, and camped. Receipted for oats, plenty of eggs, chickens and potatoes. Camp near a little stream on Union man's place. Bosworth sick today and in ambulance. Chicken and potatoes for supper. Apples and peaches enough today.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 88

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 7, 1862

Camp at Lagrange, West Tennessee, November 7, 1862.

To say that we have been crowded, jammed, put through, hustled, skited, etc., don't half express the divil-of-a-hurry headquarters has shown and is showing us. We left Peoria one week ago last night, crossed the bridge at precisely 6 o'clock p. m. Since that we have traveled one day and one night on the cars, a day resting, beside stacked arms waiting orders, the first quarter of a night pitching tents, then received orders to march with five days' rations at daylight, and the rest of the night spent in preparation therefor, then two days' marching through the awfullest dust you ever saw, so thick we almost had to kick it out of the way to get our foot to the ground, then a day of rest and fat living off secesh pork, etc., and the seventh day a march of 20 miles by our whole brigade, after a little party of Rebel cavalry that couldn't more than eat a hog a day. Pretty good work for a green regiment, wasn't it? It seems real natural to be down in Secessia, the country where a 300-pound porker don't cost any more than a chicken that costs nothing. But some things we have to buy for our mess, and to show you what they cost, I will mention the items of flour and salt. The former is worth 50 cents per pound, and the latter $1 a pound. We wouldn't have to buy them of citizens, but scarcity of transportation obliged our A. C. S. to leave everything but traveling rations, viz.; Bacon, sugar, coffee and crackers. There is a man making boots in town at $45 a pair, and he can't get leather to fill his orders. Fine country. Between here and Bolivar, some 30 miles, I think there is not a house left or rail left unburned, and 'twas all done on our trip down. The fires were all lit by troops that marched ahead of us, and although the smoke and heat were disagreeable enough, yet I think the 103d generally approved of the proceedings. Yet I was glad enough when the colonel, by the general's orders, called us to answer the question, “Do you know that any of your men burned rails, houses, or destroyed any property on the march from Bolivar?” that the 103d had not participated. Major General McPherson, commanding this corps, disapproves of such conduct and will severely punish offenders if caught, which latter item is not at all probable. Tis generally understood that the Union Tennessee Cavalry did the work. The 7th Illinois is here with us and all are well that you know.

We have good tents and are otherwise better prepared for soldiering than I ever was before.

We have between 30,000 and 40,000, I suppose, between here and a point eight miles east. Price is supposed to be in the neighborhood of Holly Springs, 30 miles southwest, with 40,000 to 60,000. They say we are waiting for the Memphis troops to join us before we go down and scoop him. We have the half of the old army of the Mississippi here, and part of the army of West Tennessee, nearly all experienced troops.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 129-30

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Diary of Sergeant Major Luman Harris Tenney: May 20, 1863

After breakfast Mike and I took out the horses to graze. Went with Co. G. Took a book along to read, “The Slave Power,” by Cairnes. Very sensible. Got dinner at a house. Avoided the order by having dinner on the porch. Returned about 3 P. M. Mike got a chicken. An excellent letter from Sarah Felton.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 70

Saturday, May 13, 2017

3rd Sergeant Charles Wright Wills: December 1, 1861

Bird's Point, Mo., December 1, 1861.

This, the beginning of winter, is the warmest and altogether the most pleasant day we have had for several weeks. During our whole trip to Bloomfield and back we had splendid weather, but ever since our return it has been at least very unsplendid. The climax was reached day before yesterday and capped with several inches of snow. I was up the river 15 miles at the time with a party loading a flatboat with logs for our huts. We had a sweet time of it and lots of fun. The mud was from six inches to a foot deep, and by the time we got the logs to the boat they were coated with mud two inches thick, and before we got a dozen logs on the boat we had a second coat on us, from top to toe of mud. It snowed and rained all the time we worked but I heard no complaint from the men, and in fact I have never seen so much fun anywhere as we had that day. There is any amount of game where we were, the boys said that were out, and they brought to camp several skinned “deer.” I tried some of the “venison” but it tasted strangely like hog.

Of course drill is discontinued for the present, and as working on the quarters is almost impossible we sit and lie in the tent and gas and joke and eat and plan devilment. We have a barrel of apples now, lots of pecans and tobacco and not a thing to trouble us. The enemy have quit coming around here and we can stroll six or seven miles without danger if we get past our pickets safely. There was a great deal of firing down at Columbus yesterday and I heard some more this morning. I don't know whether the gunboats are down or not. It may be the Rebels are practicing with their big guns; or maybe they are firing a salute over the fall of Fort Pickens. It will be a great joke if they take that, won't it? I believe myself that they will take it. Two of our new gunboats came down day before yesterday. We will have in all 12 gunboats, 40 flatboats carrying one mortar each and 15 propellers for towing purposes, besides the steamboats for transporting troops. Makes quite a fleet and will fill the river between here and Columbus nearly full. There are not very many troops here now. Only five regiments of cavalry and four or five batteries of artillery. Not over 12,000 in all. We have nearly 1,000 sailors and marines here now and they are such cusses that they have to keep them on a steamboat anchored out in the river. We see by the papers this morning that the fleet has captured another sand bar. A good one on the bar. We are greatly puzzled to know if we really are going down the river this winter. We are preparing winter quarters here for only 12,000 men. Now all these troops they are running into St. Louis cannot be intended for up the Missouri river, for the troops are also returning from there. I don't believe either that they intend to keep them in St. Louis this winter for they have only quarters provided there for a garrison force, so I guess it must mean down the river, but am sure they won't be ready before six weeks or two months. We have a report here that Governor Yates is raising 60 day men to garrison these points while we “regulars” will be pushed forward. Jem Smith is down here trying to get information of his brother Frank who is a prisoner. There are a good many Rebels deserting now. Our pickets bring them into camp. They are mostly Northern men who pretend they were pressed in and are glad to escape. Frank Smith is in Company A, Captain Smith's company, at Paducah. It was Company B, Captain Taylor's, that was in the Belmont fight. You could see just as well as not why I can't come home if you'll take the trouble to read General Halleck's General Order No. 5 or 6, that says, “Hereafter no furloughs will be granted to enlisted men,” etc.

We had a first rate lot of good things from Peoria yesterday. They were sent us for Thanksgiving but were a day late. Chickens, cranberries, cake, etc. The boys say that a Rebel gunboat has just showed his nose around the point and Fort Holt is firing away pretty heavily, but I guess the boat is all in some chap's eye. Hollins is down at Columbus with about a dozen vessels of war. I have just been out to see what the boys said was the pickets coming in on the run, but some say its only a gunboat coming up through woods, so I guess I'll not report a prospect of a fight.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 45-7

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Diary of Private Charles Wright Wills: June 13, 1861

Cairo. I am converted to the belief that Cairo is not such a bad place after all. The record shows that less deaths have occurred here in seven weeks among 3,000 men, than in Villa Ridge (a higher, and much dryer place with abundant shade and spring water), in five weeks among 1,000. There has been but one death here by disease in that time, and that with miserable hospital accommodations. The soldiers lie like the d---1 about Cairo. The days are hot of course, but we do nothing now between 8 a. m. and 9 p. m. but cook and eat, so that amounts to not near as much as working all day at home. The mosquitoes and bugs are furious from 6 p. m. to 11, but we are drilling from 7 p. m. to nearly 9, and from that to 11 we save ourselves by smoking, which we all do pretty steadily. The nights after 11 are splendidly cool, so much so that we can cover ourselves entirely in our blankets, which is a block game on the mosquitoes, and sleep like logs. I believe those Camp Mather boys are hard sticks from the accounts we get of their fingers sticking to chickens, vegetables, etc. The citizens here say that the boys have not taken a thing without permission, or insulted a citizen. “Bully for us.”

We had a little fun yesterday. At 8 p. m. we (the Peoria and Pekin companies) were ordered to get ready for marching in ten minutes. So ready we got (but had to leave knapsacks, canteens and blankets) and were marched down to the “City of Alton,” which had on board a six pounder and one 12 pound howitzer. We cast off, fired a salute of two guns and steamed down the Mississippi. After five miles the colonel (Oglesby) called us together, told us that he was out on a reconoitering expedition, and his information led him to think we should be forced into a little fight before we got back. We were then ordered to load and keep in our places by our guns. At Columbus we saw a secesh flag waving but passed on a couple of miles farther where he expected to find a secesh force. Failed and turned back. At Columbus the flag was still waving and the stores all closed, and quite a crowd collected on the levee, but one gun though, that we could see. The colonel ordered the flag down. They said they wouldn't do it. He said he would do it himself then. They answered, “We'd like to see you try it.” We were drawn up then round the cabin deck guards next the shore in two ranks, with guns at “ready,” and the captain jumped ashore and hauled down the serpent. We were all sure of a skirmish but missed it. Flag was about 15x7, with eight stars and three stripes. I send you some scraps of it. They raised another flag one hour after we left and sent us word to “Come and take it.” The ride on the river was the best treat I've had for two years.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 17-9

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 22, 1863

It was thawing all night, and there is a heavy fog this morning. The snow will disappear in a few days.

A very large number of slaves, said to be nearly 40,000, have been collected by the enemy on the Peninsula and at adjacent points, for the purpose, it is supposed, of co-operating with Hooker's army in the next attempt to capture Richmond.

The snow has laid an embargo on the usual slight supplies brought to market, and all who had made no provision for such a contingency are subsisting on very short-commons. Corn-meal is selling at from $6 to $8 per bushel. Chickens $5 each. Turkeys $20. Turnip greens $8 per bushel. Bad bacon $1.50 per pound. Bread 20 cts. per loaf. Flour $38 per barrel,—and other things in proportion. There are some pale faces seen in the streets from deficiency of food; but no beggars, no complaints. We are all in rags, especially our underclothes. This for liberty!

The Northern journals say we have negro regiments on the Rappahannock and in the West. This is utterly untrue. We have no armed slaves to fight for us, nor do we fear a servile insurrection. We are at no loss, however, to interpret the meaning of such demoniac misrepresentations. It is to be seen of what value the negro regiments employed against us will be to the invader.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 278

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 14, 1863

Gen. Pemberton writes that he has 3000 hogsheads of sugar at Vicksburg, which he retains for his soldiers to subsist on when the meat fails. Meat is scarce there as well as here. Bacon now sells for $1.50 per pound in Richmond. Butter $3. I design to cultivate a little garden 20 by 50 feet; but fear I cannot get seeds. I have sought in vain for peas, beans, corn, and tomatoes seeds. Potatoes are $12 per bushel. Ordinary chickens are worth $3 a piece. My youngest daughter put her earrings on sale to-day — price $25; and I think they will bring it, for which she can purchase a pair of shoes. The area of subsistence is contracting around us; but my children are more enthusiastic for independence than ever. Daily I hear them say they would gladly embrace death rather than the rule of the Yankee. If all our people were of the same mind, our final success would be certain.

This day the leading article in the Examiner had a striking, if not an ominous conclusion. Inveighing against the despotism of the North, the editor takes occasion likewise to denounce the measure of impressment here. He says if our Congress should follow the example of the Northern Congress, and invest our President with dictatorial powers, a reconstruction of the Union might be a practicable thing; for our people would choose to belong to a strong despotism rather than a weak one — the strong one being of course the United States with 20,000,000, rather than the Confederate States with 8,000,000. There maybe something in this, but we shall be injured by it; for the crowd going North will take it thither, where it will be reproduced, and stimulate the invader to renewed exertions. It is a dark hour. But God disposes. If we deserve it, we shall triumph; if not, why should we?

But we cannot fail without more great battles; and who knows what results may be evolved by them? Gen. Lee is hopeful; and so long as we keep the field, and he commands, the foe must bleed for every acre of soil they gain.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 273-4