John Milton Bancroft’s Diary is presented on this page. John’s letters are presented on his Letters Page.
At age 18, John Bancroft enlisted as a Sergeant in Company I on June 20, 1861. He was promoted to First Sergeant on July 1, 1862, and after a series of small promotions reaches the rank of First Lieutenant of Company K on September 3, 1862.
“Only a few enlisted soldiers are known to have been assigned to Lowe during the Peninsula campaign. CPL James Starkweather, a soldier from the 19th Massachusetts Infantry, was a sailmaker before the war, making him skilled in balloon and netting repairs. PVT William A. Hodges came from the 14th New York Infantry. PVTs Albert Trunbull, W.H. Welch, James F. Case, Robert Wardell, and Francis Barrington were all from the 22d New York Infantry. SGT Charles F. Eaton was also from the 22d and served under Lowe from September 1861 until he died of typhoid fever in May 1862. Lowe’s crews were rounded out with PVTs John H. Hall, Lawrence M. Chickey, and George W. Fisher of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry. BG George W. Morrell detailed an enlisted draftsman by the name of SGT William Bancroft from the 4th Michigan Infantry to Lowe. He made ascensions in the balloons and produced aerial maps. These few soldiers formed the core of Lowe’s organization.” [Source: Balloon Operations in the Peninsula Campaign — July 17, 2014 — By Command Sergeant Major James Clifford, USA-Ret.]
This transcript of the diary presented below was provided by the Bancroft family and the original diary & scrapbook are located in the Auburn University Library.
May 10 (Fri.) — Have enlisted for three years in the service of the Government. Member of the Continental Rifles. Composed of boys from Trenton and from Engine Company No. 8 of Detroit.
May 13 (Mon.) — Still in Detroit. The 1st Mich. leave tonight for Washington. Old friends in the 1st, Horner, Vreeland, and Finch. On Saturday, Adrian people were here to see the boys off.
May 16 (Thurs.) — Drilling. Answering letters from home. Am quite tired. Drill under Capt. David A. Granger and Lt. Taylor and Chapin.
May 29 (Wed.) — Placed my trunk and bookcase labeled for home, “Reading, Mass.” in the second story of Mr. Hinchman’s Store. Leave Detroit for Adrian at 7:30 o’clock. Stopped in Trenton to a reception of the company. Saw the “goodbye” of many of the Company. There were tears shed. At Monroe were cheered.
May 30 (Thurs.) — Slept last night on a bed of loose straw in two small rooms with fifteen others in the College at Adrian. One blanket each. We were merry boys. Awoke to a frosty morning and to find very little chance for soap and water.
May 31 (Friday) — Slept last night on the bare floor and woke bright and early. Drilled six hours.
June 1 Sat. — Drill, etc. Several friends over from Adrian. Received from Miss Anna Rice a mirror and three towels. Also an invitation to call from Mrs. R.
June 2 Sunday — Morning rainy. Heard Mr. Slocum read the account of the progress of the N.B. 7th Regt. Mr. S. is a very superior reader. P.M. Called at Mrs. Haywood’s and took tea.
June 3 (Monday) — Wrote letters home and elsewhere. Was on drill all day. Received intimation of the formation of an Engineer Corps in connection with the Brigade, and that I shall receive a position. Was in town in evening. Met many old friends, scholars and acquaintances. Note. Beaman now M.P. from Mich. Was in camp and inquired me out as he was formerly on the school Board. Since which time Capt. Granger gave me a free pass to town during my stay in Adrian.
June 5 (Wed.) — Raining. No drill. Dined at Mr. Whitney’s. Letters from home and friends. This is the only goodbye for the war I have to give. Trouble in camp. Lt. E. H. Taylor and Capt. Granger. Granger is a rascal and Taylor is not competent.
June 7 (Fri.) — Attended the Baptist Social. Meet old faces Lt. Taylor and Avery. Had a gay time and returned to camp 12:30.
June 8 (Sat.) — On duty as Corporal of the Guard. First take a part in guard mounting. Was awake nearly all night. Slept a short time on the fence rails. Studied the stars and thought of those at home. Miles away. Am not very tired in the morning.
June 9 Sunday — Very warm and pleasant. In the afternoon, call on Miss K.
June 11th Tuesday — Rec’d our uniforms. Grey satinment. Were on dress parade. After supper before the Governor. Left the field double quick on account of the rain. Went down town. Called on Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard. Mr. H. was Prin.
June 19th (Wed.) — Two of the boys of Co. B. (Adrian) were married by Chaplain [Henry N.] Strong. Formed square.
June 20th (Thurs.) — Staff of office presented to Drum Major with appropriate remarks by the Chaplain. Muster into U.S. for three years.
June 21st (Fri.) — Flag — U.S. Colors — presented by the ladies of Adrian to the reg’t. Inscription “Ladies of Adrian to the Mich. 4th.
June 22nd (Sat.) — Most of the boys are gone home to see their friends. I go this afternoon to the Raymonds at Raisin.
June 23rd (Sun.) — Return to Adrian. Bid bye to friends.
June 24 Monday — Packing up to leave for Wash. No drill. Capt. Granger is not commissioned by the governor. J. D. Slocum Capt. of Co. I. my Co. Down town in evening.
June 25 (Tue.) — Pack up in the morning and with a heavy knapsack, haversack and canteen, we start from college to the depot. The day was very hot and the roads dusty but the march was a complete ovation. Escort duty was performed by the engine Co’s and a crowd of citizens. There were many who did shed tears and more who could but for our sakes did not. And for the cause for which we go they bid us Godspeed and hope for the best. Goodbye friends — you have been very kind to me. Change cars at Toledo. Arrive at Cleveland 8 p.m. After some delay, we proceed to Erie arriving June 26 at 5 a.m. Were served with cake etc. by the citizens. At Dunkirk, stopped and went to Lake Erie to bathe. This was a great treat indeed.
June 26 (Wed.) — At Oleanna we get a dipper of coffee each. The ladies came through the cars. At parting gave us mementos, bouquets, fans etc. I think in some cases correspondence followed. At Hornellsville and Corning we were cheered. At Elmira the N.B. 23rd were quartered and we were treated by the ladies to a warm supper at about 9 p.m. This was prepared by the Rev. [George C.] Curtis, formerly of Adrian. After supper we took the cars for Harrisburg, Pa. and woke in the morning in the mountains of Pa. away up the Susquehanna. Splendid scenery hills, rocks and clouds all the way to Harrisburg. We stopped at 5:30 a.m. at Sunbury and at 11:00 at Norfolk. Here the scenery is very grand. We were treated to cherries and cake by the ladies. We got out on a bridge over the water to allow another train to pass. At 1:00 o’clock we stopped near Camp Curtin at Harrisburg one mile north near the insane asylum. We got tents and set ourselves to work to set them, and then have a chance to wash in the canal. We got coffee, etc. late in the evening.
June 28 (Fri.) — Camp Cameron. We are now ready for soldier’s life, fare, and privations. Rations of salt port and ham. Hard biscuit are given out once a day and coffee twice. I suppose we are waiting here for our rifles. Rumor says we are going to Baltimore tomorrow to burn the place. This is a romantic place. The scenery and weather are fine. Visit the town, State House, etc.
June 29th (Sat.) — Last night Geo. Heintzer displaced and J. A. Sorden put in his place as Orderly Sergeant.
June 30th (Sun.) — Drilled all day in Manual of Arms and in the street firing under Lt. Col. Duffield.
Jul 1st (Mon.) — Rose at 4:00. Packed. Struck tents. Breakfast. Cars for Washington. Cattle cars at that. Stopped at York. Rode across a bridge some 200 ft. in length hanging by my arms. Was off the train which started before I could get on. Passed through the city of Baltimore with five rounds of cartridges in our pockets. Rain at Relay House. Everything quiet. We were treated very well.
July 2nd (Tues.) — Arrived in Wash. 12:00 o’clock p.m. Marched down Pennsylvania Ave. at the Woodward building. Woke in the morning to wait for breakfast most of the day owing to want of knowledge by the commissary. Move out to Meridian Hill near the Columbia College and go to camp. Washington D.C.
July 3rd (Wed.) — Rumor says that Gen. Scott said today that those of us who were living would dine at home on Christmas. Went to town. Saw the rest — A. Lincoln, Gen. Scott, Seward, etc. Went into [Michael J.] Sauter’s [Confectionary at 336 Center Market Street] and had ice cream and strawberries.
July 5th (Fri.) — Went to the Capitol. Saw several Dartmouth boys. [Galusha Aaron] Grow elected Speaker of the House. There are 70,000 men around Washington. Ten die daily. New York had 20,000 on Review yesterday. Mass. 11th in camp on grounds between White House and the Potomac. Found Sev. and Charlie Leathe.
July 16th Sunday [Tuesday] — Morning packed up and left for Alexandria. Marched out an encamped near Clouds Mills. Tuesday the regiment marched towards Fairfax. I was sick on Monday and the Capt. would not allow me to go on Tuesday morning.
[see letter of 19 July 1861 from Bancroft to T. H. Hinchman]
July 21st (Sun.) — Today the guns are firing at Bulls Run in the direction of Manassas Gap. Today many a soldier will lay low. The firing has been going now for two hours. The 4th Reg’t has been left at Fairfax Station and Court House. ‘Ere another Sunday there will be weeping in many a house. Yesterday many a soldier sent home his last letter. Many letters will be written with “write as soon as you get this,” which will not be answered. All day long we have listened to the guns. One of the fairest of summer Sabbath days.
July 22nd (Mon.) — Morning found the federal army retreating in confusion and defeated. We struck tents and returned to Alexandria in the rain. All is in confusion. Men, baggage, wagons. Everything is coming in all day long. The wounded are arriving in as best they can. The loss is great and the confusion greater. We stop in town. Sleep in a barn over night.
July 23rd (Tue.) — Start for Washington via Long Bridge. Meet the reg’t. at the bridges. See the Mass. 5th. Ed Pratt is safe, and all my friends in the Mich. 1st. Arrive at our old camping ground on Meridian Hill and pitch tents and prepare for a stop of some time. Wrote to Frank of our safety.
July 25th (Thurs.) — The Mich. 1st encamp near us and leave for home. Drill.
Aug. 3rd (Sat.) — The usual routine of camp duty. Some dissatisfaction in camp. The men expect to be discharged at the close of three months. Drill. Sick.
Aug. 5th,6th,7th.etc. — Oh to be sick here! What pain! How weak one is. And all the boys are yelling and swearing, etc. as usual and one hears everything. Never give me opium again. For two days and nights I lay in a fever with my head bathed all the time with cold water and what suffering!! I have not been sick for so long a time that I feel it very hard.
Aug. 8th (Thurs.) — Packed up and started for Virginia. Assigned to W. T. Sherman’s Brigade. In the morning very weak from the sickness and the opium. The reg’t left. I expected to ride but found the wagons too close and hot, so I started on foot and with an occasional nip of whiskey and long rests, got there. Crossed a Ferry at Georgetown below the Aqueduct and up the hills by a very rough path. Pitch tents two and one-half miles from the river at Camp Union. Walked some five miles in all. Gained a little appetite, so I ate some potatoes, etc. at a house and with the exertion found myself decidedly better next morning.
Aug. 9th (Fri.) — Feeling much better. Tried peaches and watermelons and am improving.
Aug. 11th (9th) — Friday night. Rained. Were called out in line of battle by a night alarm and stood for an hour in the rain. No enemy came. Returned to camp and sleep on our arms. One man put on his overcoat but forgot his musket. Capt. S. fell in the sink. We are brigaded under Sherman with the Mass. 9th, the N.B. 13th the Dekalb reg’t, Co. F. of Cavalry, and a Battery of Lt. Artillery.
Aug. 12th (Mon.) — Rainy.
Aug. 13th (Tues.) — Rainy.
Aug. 14th (Wed.) — Rainy.
Aug. 15th (Thurs.) — On Picket at Mt. Olivet Church. Camp Union, Arlington Heights.
Aug. 16th (Fri.) — Pack up and move back one-half mile nearer the river. We are to build a fort. Raining yet.
Aug. 20th (Tues.) — On guard as Serg’t of the Guard. Our new camp commands a fine view of Georgetown and Washington. We are in the trenches building a fort. The works are being put forward as fast as possible.
Aug. 25th (Sun.) — Parade. Inspection of Arms. General Herman received news of the advance of 10,000 rebels towards our lines. Wrote to Mr. Hinchman.
Aug. 26th (Mon.) — Brigade review before the President, Seward, [and] Gen. McClellan for three or four hours of tiresome standing.
Aug. 27th (Tues.) — At night an alarm and Gen. Sherman had us out in line of battle.
Aug. 28th (Wed.) — In the morning were out again. Work on the fort has been done by the 4th Michigan assisted N.Y. 23rd.
Aug. 29th (Thurs.) — Work on the Fort. Nearly finished.
Aug. 30th (Fri.) — Work on the Fort. Nearly finished.
Aug. 31st (Sat.) — Work on the Fort. Nearly finished.
Sept. 1st — Sunday weather fine and clear.
Sept. 2nd (Mon.) — Last night at Battalion drill news was read of Gen. Butler’s victory at Fort Hatteras, capturing 730 prisoners.
Sept. 4th (Wed.) — Go to Washington with and for the mail. Rec’d letter from E. H. Hinchman of Detroit. Orders in camp for two days rations in haversacks. Battery taken from the rebels on Munson’s Hill. Matters indicate a move soon. One man Co. E. killed yesterday. Has a wife and four children. In very comfortable circumstances and a very lovely woman. God speed the right.
Sept. 7th (Sat.) — On picket to the right of Hall’s Hill. Lead forward on party in absence of the Lt. in charge. No moving the lines forward.
Sept. 8th (Sun.) — Paid off. Sick and tired.
Sept. 9th (Mon.) — Boys drunk, fighting, and noisy. Weather warm and sultry.
Sept. 10th (Tues.) — Off duty with a boil.
Sept. 11th (Wed.) — Drill. Skirmish toward Lewinsville. Turn out in line of battle.
Sept. 12th (Thurs.) — Division Review at 4:30 p.m. ‘till dark, very tedious.
Sept. 13th (Fri.) — At dress parade, orders come for line of battle. Right wheel into column! Forward March! Head of Column to the left. By the right flank, File left! March! And we are in position. Dusk and we see the smoke and flames of [Mary] Hall’s house, Mt. Olivet Church, and other buildings fired by shell or rebel hands. We go to camp and get coffee and blankets and return to sleep by the trenches and wake in the morning in a fog so thick one cannot see. Blankets wet—wringing wet.
Sept. 17th (Tue.) — Brigade review in a rain storm, a perfect driving shower, and General and all stand and take it. This is making soldiers of us we think.
Sept. 19th (Thurs.) — Work grubbing stumps in camp.
Sept. 20th (Fri.) — Paid off.
Sept. 24th (Tue.) — Changing camp. Rearranging. Weather very chilly at night and hot during the day.
Sept. 28th (Sat.) — In afternoon rec’d orders to fall in light marching order with what provisions we could lay hands on. Marched out to Ball’s Cross Roads. Counter-marched and went to Mt. Olivet church, thence about two and one-half miles west and lay down in the woods. Between two and four in the morning we are on our feet on account of volleys fired near us. Proved to be Col. reg’t pickets firing into each other. Reported there is a general advance all along the lines.
Sept. 29th (Sun.) — The Grand Army appears to be all on the move. 8-9-10-11 o’clock all quiet. Hours of suspense. We remain in position. Parties are reconnoitering. Occasional heavy firing to the northward. Single guns — men all sleeping as it was very cold last night. All quiet all day Sunday. But perhaps we may hear the crashing of cannon, the clanging of steel, the roar of armies. Night brings news of the taking of Richmond by Butler. The cheers come down the lines from the camps above and from far away in the distance. We doubt the news but we cheer — cheer as loud as any and the sound rolls along the camps way to the North. Tonight we have built houses or shelter of boughs, as we have no tents. So we are a village of 1,000 men, where yesterday at this time was the stillness of the woodland, or rather we are a city of thousands stretching over hill and valley for miles and cheers roll along among the ghostly shadows of the trees from the many camp fires like the cry of fire from street to street. Note. Here was the romance of the soldier life and we would not have changed places with the richest of those at home. We had come to fight and die if need be for the old flag and we were eager for a change from the dull routine of drill of which we were heartily tired and we thought this was active service.
Sept.30th (Mon.) — Axes are detailed to cut down the woods where we are laying. Very heavy oak and chestnut. About 8 o’clock we fall in by order of the Colonel and stack arms, pack and lay down our knapsacks. The Colonel says there is an attack to the northward and we may leave at any moment. At the trees again and they are falling every which way. Axes ringing. Merry voices calling. Then comes the crash. Michigan boys know woodcraft to perfection. Never was land cleared quicker save by hurricane. Click! Click! and Crash! Crash!
Oct. 1st (Tue.) — All quiet –- save the click of axes and the crash of falling timber. Various rumors as to the movements of the army are afloat. At night I am on picket -–about 80 rods in advance of the regiment. We have a fine view of the camps during the night. They present a gay scene. Here is romance and effect. Here are the scenes of history and chivalry. Look at the camp fires, globular masses of fire and coal where the cooks are busy, fires that tower higher and throw a cheerful blaze around the dim shadows flitting across them in the distance, fires of dry crackling, blazing brush, fires running up hollow dead trunks of trees, and over all a background of darkness and smoke, while directly overhead we see the stars. We know nothing yet of the actual success of these movements. Cannon have boomed in the distance, on each side apparently, for what we cannot tell. the country is being devastated, crops destroyed and wasted, grain stacks scattered, fences broken down, houses burned, forests cut to open range for our artillery, etc. Written the evening of Oct. 1, 1861 – Sergt. J.M.B. Note – this was the first we had seen of wars desolation.
Oct. 2nd (Wed.) — Cook tomatoes from Maj. Nuts’ garden. Gen. F. J. Porter reprimands the Officer of the picket.
Oct. 3rd (Thurs.) — Wrote to Frank Hay. All quiet. We are reviewed by Gen. McClellan.
Oct. 4th (Fri.) — Balloons seen near Alexandria.
Oct. 5th (Sat.) — Pleasant. Letters and papers from home.
Oct. 7th (Mon.) — Drill. Raining all night.
Oct. 8th (Tue.) — On Guard. Troops moving to Lewinsville.
Oct. 9th (Wed.) –On Guard. Troops moving to Lewinsville.
Oct. 10th (Thurs.) — Cold and stormy — dreary — I want to go home. Note — I never thought so in earnest in the time of campaign no matter how bad the storm. I wish I might always feel as contented with the fortune meted out to me as during these three years.
Oct. 11th (Fri.) — Move to Miner’s Hill. In front is a valley, while beyond lies a range of hills on whose eastern slope are farm houses and openings occupied by Union and rebel pickets, while beyond are the camps and batteries of Gen. Johnston’s Division of rebels.
Oct. 18th (Fri.) — No incidents of note occur. For the past few days have been sick enough but not unable to do duty.
Oct. 20th (Sun.) — Several regiments rec’d orders last night to cook two days rations. Visit the 22d Mass.
Oct. 21st (Mon.) — Wrote to Detroit Advertizer.
Oct. 22nd (Tue.) — Orders 1 a.m. to be in readiness to march at daylight [with] two cooked rations. Rained and did not go. Yesterday Col. Baker was shot at Leesburg. Ball’s Bluff.
Oct. 23rd (Wed.) — On Guard. Dr. Clark tells me I have disease of the liver and that I must quit duty and report to him. I don’t feel well at all. Stayed on guard all night.
Oct. 24th (Thurs.) — Shelling across the valley.
Oct. 29th (Tue.) — Wrote to Advertizer. Have been under the Dr.’s care two weeks for Liver complaint.
Oct. 30th (Wed.) — On Police Guard at [Gilbert] Vanderwerken’s at the Brigade Hospital [opposite the Chain Bridge].
Oct. 31st (Thurs.) — Muster for pay. Have most of our winter clothing. After muster, am ordered to report with six men to Gen. Porter and by him to report to the Columbia Armory, Wash. to Prof. [Thaddeus S. C.] Lowe, Aeronaut. Arrived about 8:00 p.m.
Nov. 1 (Fri.) — On duty at the Columbia Armory.
Nov. 2 (Sat.) — Stormy. Detail Geo. W. Bates — Co. A., S. M. Kidder — Co. A,
S. D. Porterfield — Co. D, Thomas Boyd — Co. D, S. M. Bennet — Co. H, A. Spade — Co. H.
Nov. 10 (Sun.) — George W. Bates sent to regiment to become Quarter Master Sergeant. Lonely. Homesick almost.
Nov. 9th (Sat.) — Left Washington Armory for the Navy Yard to go to the river. Letter from Mr. Hay. Capt. [John R.] Dickinson [ — a steamboat captain –] tells his story in the great ship house. Attended school at Andover, Mass. Run away 19 years of age. Went to sea. Became mate on a ship from New Orleans. By the death of the Captain became in command. Buried 12 out of 60 passengers with the yellow fever. Told a very interesting account of the mode of burial at sea. Capt. Dickinson was soon put in command of a gunboat.
Nov. 10 (Sun.) — Slept last night with the marines and sailors at the Navy Yard. With Balloon, aeronauts, and reporters, we start about 11 a.m. down the river. A Man-of-War lying opposite Alexandria. Run in close to Ft. Washington, Mattawoman Creek. After dark, go with Mr. Slack — a Herald reporter — to Gen. Hooker’s Hd. Qrts. Mud very deep and the road very indefinite. Deliver our dispatch and return.
Nov. 12 (Tue.) — Balloon makes four ascensions. Gen. [Daniel E.] Sickles goes up twice. About 4 o’clock, we go shore and the General and staff share our coffee, hard tack, and salt pork. Mr. [Henry] Bentley of the Philadelphia Inquirer is with us [and] also one of Frank Leslie’s artists.
Nov. 14th (Thurs.) — Returned to Washington.
Nov. 24 (Sun.) — Started with a balloon to run the blockade of the Potomac. Storm and sleet and darkness. Run into a steamer going from the Navy Yard. Hear them beat “to quarters.” Stop at Ft. Washington. Run by the three batteries in the night. With all the lights well covered. Stop at Mattawoman Creek. Picturesque scenery.
Nov. 25 (Mon.) — Lay to all day. Mr. [John B.] Starkweather and [William] Paullin, aeronauts, come on board with a balloon [the “Washington”]. Run down to Chickamoxie at night with Balloon barge. The steamer, Mr. [Thaddeus] Lowe and [John] Starkweather go to Ft. Monroe.
Nov. 28 (Thurs.) — Inflate balloon, 4 to 9 p.m.
Nov. 29 (Fri.) — The Rebels commence firing shell at the balloon barge and the balloon on shore. Do not hit it. Prof. Lowe telegraphs for us to return to Washington. Row up to Mattawoman [Creek]. Sleep on the deck of a stern wheel excursion boat in a storm of wind and rain.
Dec. 1st Sunday. — Inflate the Intrepid and prepare to take it over the river. Windy. Have to guard it.
Dec. 2 (Mon.) — Let out the gas.
Dec. 3 (Tue.) — Let out the gas.
Dec. 10 (Tue.) — Leave Washington by canal boat Eliza Ann to Edward’s Ferry, via Great Falls. Scenery rough and grand.
Dec. 12 (Thurs.) — Find a spot for camp, well sheltered from the wind. Have a detail of Mass. Sharpshooters.
Dec. 13 (Fri.) — Inflated the balloon. Working all night.
Dec. 15 (Sun.) — Gen. [Charles Pomeroy] Stone makes an ascension. Visit camp of 7th Michigan.
Dec. 19 (Thurs.) — Mr. [Eben] Seaver wishing to examine the valve of the balloon, shears were rigged from two trees and a seat hung from a block by which he was raised above it and then swung with a guy, the shears being moved forward at the same time until he obtained a good view of the valve, and packing. This examination was made because from the rapid escape of gas on the first night after inflation, there was reason to suspect someone had been tampering with it. On opening the balloon during inflation, the folds at the lower part clung together with much tenacity requiring some exertion to seperate them. No doubt the varnish was torn out.
Dec 28 (Sat.) — Mr. Seaver has become nearly sick beside being homesick. We occupy a house some one-fourth mile from the camp.
[Note: the following paragraph appears to have been added later as a reminiscent entry.]
Mr. Seaver, myself and Mr. Prendergalt — an Irishman of education, a fine singer and a good story teller. We have some very jolly times here. Sam Porterfield [Co. I, 4th Michigan Infantry] — one of our party — was formerly a traveling jig-dancer and a “fellow of infinite jest” (Hamlet). He cannot write, and I have written many a letter for him home to his wife, full of pathos and affection, and of interest in everything relating to her welfare, and within two days perhaps I have seen him so drunk he could scarcely stand — and why go further — this is bad enough– but not the worst by any means. We having free run of Washington on our duty had opportunities of seeing and doing about as we pleased. Poor Sam. He was wounded at Malvern Hill and died of lock-jaw brought on by free use of liquor after getting to Philadelphia. Lt. Laidd of the 7th Mich. was another jolly fellow, but one who did not take one drop of liquor. In that old house we would have quite a concert at times and then get the “colored folks who occupied the back part to come in and Sam would get them all from the old “Uncle” to the smallest pickaninnie to dancing. I found some very fine fellows in the detail which was from [Capt. Jack] Saunder’s Sharpshooters of Mass. Mr. Seaver was unfortunate in the opening of his career as aeronaut in thinking he must indulge in the free and easy style of some of the officers.
The scenery here is fine. The Potomac, the Ohio and Chespeake canal, old Sugar Loaf and the Eastern range of the Blue Ridge on the Catoctin Mountains. Bull’s Bluff is but a short distance from our camp and we see the men who were there. We see their general — Gen. [Charles P.] Stone. But from what I have seen of him I cannot believe him guilty of what he is charged with. I was up in the balloon [with him] one day.
While here we managed finely in regard to rations and quarters. We found many persimmons in the woods, which with the squirrels and chickens and fresh pork make very good living. This seems to be grand old country. On some farms there are great stacks of wheat, which seems to have been the crop of three or four years. The soil is a red clay making splendid mortar for winter quarters of thatch. The 7th Michigan of logs covered with shingles, on three sides of a square with the officers quarters on the open side.
Dec. 30 (Mon.) — Stormy weather. Mr. Seaver almost down with a fever.
Dec. 31st (Tue.) — Clear in the morning. Prepare to inflate. Mr. Seaver improves with the excitement. No wind.
Jan. 1 (Wed.) — No wind during the night. Make an ascension with Mr. Seaver some 300 feet in the morning. Not power enough in the balloon to carry us higher. Go to Gen. Stone’s Hd. Qrts. Poolesville for rations. Capt. John H. Steiner supersedes Capt. [Eben] Seaver.
Jan. 2 (Thurs.) — Our detail of sharpshooters leave to go with Gen. [Frederick W.] Lander.
Jan. 3 (Fri.) — Walk to Poolesville 7 miles to have a pass signed, then to camp of the 19th Mass., then on down the canal to within about 9 miles of Washington. Very tired. We seek lodgings at several house along the canal but find no accomodations. At last find a picket of the 62nd New York Fire Zouaves, where we pass the night under shelter at last.
Jan. 4 (Sat.) — Arrive in Washington and go over to the regiment. Stop over night at 22nd Mass. Comrades from Reading.
Jan. 5 (Sun.) — Meet my old comrades of the Mich. 4th. See the adjutant and Chaplain.
Jan. 6th (Mon.) — See Col. Woodbury and return to Washington. See Hon. Fernando C. Beaman, Mr. C., from Adrian.
Jan. 12 (Sun.) — Making drawings of inflating apparatus used by Prof. Lowe.
[see letter of January 26, 1862 from Bancroft to T. H. Hinchman]
Feb. 1 (Sat.) — During the few days past I find nothing written down. I am quartered at the Columbia Armory, Washington, making drawings so much of the time as I choose. There are some 300 girls engaged in making cartridges here. Met Mr. L. G. Berry. Rec’d a photograph.
Feb.26th (Wed.) — Looking at photographic albums. Bought, etc. Sent one home. Sam Porterfield has just returned from a visit home. Most of the balloon boys have been home. I have not because I am only a common soldier and I think I ought to be an officer by this time, but there has been few vacancies. E[benezer Locke] Mason, Jr. — private secretary for Prof. Lowe — is quite a favorite with our party. He is the “Our Ned” of the story papers and a very genial, social, companionable sort of a person.
Feb. 27th (Thurs.) — Serg’t Eaton and party go to Pohick Church with a balloon.
March 2, Sunday — Movements indicate an advance on Manassas or an attempt to draw the rebels from the place. A strong force is sent to Harper’s Ferry. Army of the Potomac have two days cooked rations.
March 9 (Sun.) — A balloon ordered over the river. Inflated the Union after 5 0’clock and towed it to Fort Corcoran.
March 10 (Mon.) — Advance. Army of the Potomac. I remain at Washington.
March 12 (Wed.) — Prof. Lowe returned from Manassas.
March 13 (Thurs.) — Balloon ordered to Ft. Monroe.
March 15 (Sat.) — Mr. [Eben] Seaver started today for Ft. Monroe. Heavy rain storm. The army marched from Fairfax to Alexandria in the rain.
March 16th (Sun.) — Called on Adjutant [Francis S.] Earle who is now recovering from a fever. The army are preparing to leave for Ft. Monroe.
March 17 (Mon.) — Visit the regiment at Camp California near Cloud’s Mill, Va., near where we encamped in July, 1861 previous to Bull Run. An immense army.
March 23d (Sun.) — Preparing to leave.
March 24th (Mon.) — Working for some definite appointment on Balloon Service. There seems to be no way of bringing about such a change. Mr. Lowe’s father [Clovis Lowe] is one of our party.
March 28th, Friday — One year since Mr. T. Hinchman of Detroit called. Visited the Smithsonian, Col. [John N.] Macomb, Alexandria, etc. Saw Gen. McClellan on board a steamer [the Commodore], reading the paper — neat, manly, and firm, not careworn. Visited Mr. [Bradley F.] Granger, Rep. from Michigan, the Green House in the Public Gardens, etc.
March 29th (Sat.) — With Mr. T. H. Hinchman.
March 31st (Mon.) — Visited the Aqueduct Bridge at Georgetown [erected] by Gen. Meigs with T. H. Hinchman. Mr. Hinchman leaves for New York.
April 5th (Sat.) — Still troubled as since last October with liver complaint. This is one reason so little has been written.
April 6th (Sun.) — Visit Georgetown Heights. Fine residences. Fine view from the Resevoir.
April 8th (Tue.) — Wrote letters. Raining and snowing.
April 10th (Thurs.) — Meet Mr. John LaMountain, Aeronaut.
April 16th (Wed.) — Started with balloon — Alexandria to Catlett Station, Va.
April 17th (Thurs.) — Report to Col. [John M.] Macomb [– chief topographical officer on McClellan’s staff]. Muddy. Gen. [Christopher C.] Auger’s Brigade march to Fredericksburg.
April 18th (Fri.) — Gen. Patrick’s brigade follows Auger’s today. Gen. [John J.] Abercrombie’s Brigade advance to the river and are now shelling the enemy. McCall’s Division have come up.
April 19th (Sat.) — No movements. Stormy. Cold.
April 20th (Sun.) — No movements today. Stormy. Cold. Unpleasant.
April 21st (Mon.) — Gen. McDowell removes Hd. Qrts. to Fredericksburg. Raining hard all day. Balloon, etc., sent to Alexandria to wait further orders. About 250 sick soldiers are waiting and go up on the same train. Bridge at Bull Run washed away. Have to wait at Manassas until Wednesday.
April 22nd (Tue.) — Waiting at Manassas. Walk by the Centerville R.R. to Bull Run. Bridge burnt. Stroll among the deserted rebel camps. Plenty of dead horses and graves.
April 23rd (Wed.) — Go to Bull Run. Cross at foot bridge and get on train for Alexandria. Hurrah! Once more within the lines of civilization. Of the 250 sick soldiers who left Catlett Station, three have died. Go to Washington to my home for some months — the Columbia Armory.
April 24th (Thurs.) — Cleaning of the mind. Board at a German restaurant on Seventh St.
April 25th (Fri.) — Go to Alexandria. See Mr. [Eben] Seaver, Aeronaut.
April 28th (Mon.) — See Lt. Col. [John M.] Macomb.
May 2d (Fri.) — Visit office of Supervising Architect Treasury Department.
May 3rd (Sat.) — Serg’t C. J. Eaton arrived from Fortress Monroe. Sick.
May 4th (Sun.) — Very pleasant.
May 5th (Mon.) — Start for Aquia Creek with balloon. Mr. [John] LaMountain.
May 6th (Tue.) — Go to Bell Plain, 8 miles below Aquia [Creek] in charge of balloons. Land and stop for the night.
May 7th (Wed.) — Sleepless night. Start for Fredericksburg with a train of about 12 wagons and 20 men to keep balloon tank from upsetting, as the roads are very bad. Pines. Report at Gen. McDowell’s Hd Qtrs. at the Lacy House. Here is where Washington cut the cherry tree. It is one of the fine old mansions. Brick brought from England. Trees in the yard and in the ravines on each side of the house in which are fine springs. Fine view of the old town of Fredericksburg. Pontoon bridge, rubber boats filled with air, also bridge of canal boats. With Mr. [John] LaMountain, the Aeronaut, I meet [newspaperman] Mr. [John] Haddock who made a voyage in a balloon from St. Louis at one time .
May 10th (Sat.) — Visit the town of Fredericksburg.
May 11th Sunday — Going to Washington.
May 13th (Tue.) — Go to Washington.
May 14th (Wed.) — Meet Everett Eaton at Col. Beckwith’s office. Serg’t. Charles J. Eaton of our balloon party [is] sick with typhoid fever at Mrs. Van Arsdale’s. Stay all night with him. Storm.
May 15 (Thurs.) — Go to Aquia Creek.
May 16 (Fri.) — Go to Fredericksburg and get permission to return to Washington.
May 18 (Sun.) — Charles J. Eaton died in the morning. C. J. Eaton, West Arlington, Bennington Co., Vermont. Prof. Lowe was the cause of this to a great extent. Arrive in Wash. 8 p.m.
May 21 (Wed.) — Mr. Eaton and Brown arrive to convey the body home, it having been embalmed. Jennie Evans, Charley’s affianced, mourns.
May 22nd (Thurs.) — Get a pass at Col. Macomb’s office. Many errands. Thermometer 98 degrees.
May 23rd (Fri.) — Go to Aquia Creek and to Fredericksburg in the cars. Great review –Pres. Lincoln and M. Mercier, French Minister, review the Army of the Rappahannock. Gen. Shields from the Shenandoah has joined McDowell.
May 24th (Sat.) — Cold and rainy. Freezing almost. My regiment — the 4th Mich. — engaged in a skirmish at New Bridge in the Chickhominy near Richmond. They cross the river and drive a brigade of Rebels holding it. Two killed, eight wounded. Rebels have 150 killed and wounded. This is the first active engagement they are in.
May 25th Sunday — Shields returns to Catlett’s Station. His train consists of 864 wagons, 11,000 men. Ord’s Division follow, King’s Division across the river. Stonewall Jackson is after Bank’s at Harper’s Ferry and we have got him. Ord’s Division follow. King crosses the river. A very busy Sunday. No enemy near. Very pleasant.
May 26th (Mon.) — McCall’s division move to, and a portion cross the river. Gen. McDowell out visiting deserted rebel camps. On his return he goes to Washington.
May 27th (Tue.) — Head Quarters move to Aquia Creek and thence to Alexandria and Manassas.
May 28th (Wed.) — Get by request from Col. McComb papers ordering me to my regiment now on the Chickahominy before Richmond, from which I have been absent since Nov. 1st,1861.
May 29 (Thurs.) — I remain in Washington. Call on Mrs. Col. Woodbury, a very handsome and lovely lady. She seems to have a great deal of interest in the regiment.
May 30 (Fri.) — I remain in Washington. Call on Mrs. Col. Woodbury, a very handsome and lovely lady. She seems to have a great deal of interest in the regiment.
May 31(st Sat.) I remain in Washington. Call on Mrs. Col. Woodbury, a very handsome and lovely lady. She seems to have a great deal of interest in the regiment.
June 1 (Sun.) I remain in Washington. Call on Mrs. Col. Woodbury, a very handsome and lovely lady. She seems to have a great deal of interest in the regiment.
June 3 (Tue.) — Leave Alexandria 1 o’clock p.m. Down the Potomac. Stop below Mathia’s Point. Storm all night. On a propeller loaded with provision for the army. Sleep very comfortably in the passage was through the boat in front of the boilers.
June 4th (Wed.) — Start again. Pass Blackstone Island light. Storm, rain, and mist. Repass the light. River wide and rough. Cannot see the banks for fog. Start again. Pass Pines Point lighthouse. Come to anchor in St. Mary Harbor where the water is quiet and calm. Several sloops and steamers laying here. Schooners loaded with engines, cars, and R.R. supplies for the army. Scene: a fine quiet plantation, a very picturesque windmill for grinding corn.
June 5th (Thurs.) — Out past the light ship in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Pass steamers and schooners bound down the Bay. Enter York River. Pass Yorktown with its forts, guns, and vessels, about 200, waiting orders up the river. June and a splendid country up York River. Come to anchor near West Point.
June 6th (Fri.) — Pass West Point, nine houses, a water battery and the R.R., up the crooked, marshy, swampy river Pamunky. Stream obstructed at one place with sunken vessels. Masts of vessels can be seen in all directions, over the tree tops. Twelve o’clock arrive at White House. Meet old companions on the balloon barge. A large number of wounded arrive on the cars and are placed on board ocean steamers to be taken to New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore from the battle of “Seven Pines” or “Fair Oaks.” Very warm.
June 7 (Sat.) — Started for Dispatch Stations. Walked thence to the regiment ten miles. Storm and rain. Clear. Joyous welcome. Old faces. Home again. Visit balloon camp near Dr. Gaines’ Home.
June 8 (Sun.) — Camp at Gaines’ Mill, Va. Regiment go out on picket. All quiet.
June 9 (Mon.) — Review in afternoon by Gen. [Juan] Prim — a Spanish General. All quiet. A little cannonading in the afternoon.
June 10 (Tue.) — Raining. Very unpleasant. We now live in little shelter tents which seem to me quite small. Places for three — George Healts, Sergt. Kidd and myself.
June 11 (Wed.) — Clear and pleasant. Been out to view the Chickahominy. All quiet.
June 12 (Thurs.) — Very pleasant and warm. On guard. Very hot. Occasional firing. Rumors of Fremont whipping Jackson. Ordered to have three days rations and be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
June 13 (Fri.) — Very warm. Heavy firing on the left for two hours in the morning. Regiment go on picket at New Bridge on the Chickahominy. Cavalry (Rebel) in the rear.
[see letter from Bancroft to T. H. Hinchman dated 13 June 1862]
June 14 (Sat.) — Very smoky and warm. Get on Picket. Musquitoes not favorable to sleep.
June 15 (Sun.) — Find eight dead rebels in the river. This is where the regt. fought May 24th. Co. K. divided a rebel jaw-bone to send the teeth to the rural districts. Return from picket. Rain shower.
June 16 (Mon.) — Cool and comfortable.
June 17 (Tue.) — Out on fatique duty building bridges for siege guns. At 10 o’clock heavy firing on the left. Heavy volleys by pickets during the night.
June 18 (Wed.) — Battalion Drill. Very warm and close. Franklin’s Division on the move. The river very low again. Sick.
June 19 (Thurs.) Very warm. Third Brigade, Franklin’s Div. cross the Chickahominy. Visit with Vreeland, 8th Illinois Cavalry, to see Dr. Heard and get some medicine from him. Gen. Morrell sends me to Prof. Lowe to sketch from the balloon. Too much wind to make ascension. Heavy firing from battery opposite New Bridge.
June 20 (Fri.) — Warm and pleasant. Heavy firing. Shot fall near our camp.
June 21 (Sat.) — Sick. Dr. gives me mercury and morphine.
June 22 (Sun.) — Ditto.
June 23 (Mon.) — Tincture sulphuric acid. Afternoon morphine and whiskey.
June 24 (Tue.) — Morphine and whiskey. Feel some better. Stop vomiting. Shower in the morning. Five siege guns are placed in position near Dr. Gaines.
June 25 (Wed.) — Do not use any morphine and whiskey. Weather cool and windy. Batteries firing.
June 26 (Thurs.) — Nitrate of silver. Ordered to take my blankets and come up to the hospital. Meet Col. Woodbury in going to quarters and he informs me that they have sent inquiring for a draftsman from Gen. McClellan. I inform him I would like to go. Do not feel very well. Write to M. H. Very hot. All quiet. Marching orders. March to Mechanicsville and fight. Advance by the left flank. Sleep on the field.
June 27 (Fri.) — Up early in the morning. March to the rear of our old camp. Pack up. Move and burn stores and send wagons to the rear over the Chickahominy. Go back about one and one-half miles and form in line to check the enemy. Leave our knapsacks and never see them again. Have a heavy battle. “Gaines Mill” and the brigade on our left breaking. Retreat with great loss. Capt. Depug and others. Reforces and the Irish Brigade come in and drive the Rebs back while our artillery give them a lively shelling. Sleep on the sand without any blanket. Woke up about 1 o’clock and crossed the river. One of those awful marches. Night marches where we move 150 or 100 ft. to rest ten minutes or one-half hour. We have no tents to speak of either. Sleep in an open field. Are routed up to clean our arms for inspection. Am sick myself.
June 28 (Sat.) During the day march past Savage Station where are our wounded boys. Walk with others and encamp after passing White Oak Swamp. During the night a gentle shower. Also a stampede which does not result in anything serious.
June 29 (Sun.) — We turn out to corduroy the swamp. We march one and one-half miles after which we wait most of the day. March at night with one or two stampede. March and wait and march and wait and then countermarch. May you never experience how tired we were. Sleep about one hour near morning and get up to march two or three miles to the James River.
June 30 (Mon.) — Arrive at the James River. Sleep and rest ‘till afternoon. When tired and weary we are called out across the swamp and up the hill again to form line of battle. I am sick and excused by the Dr. but I cannot bear to leave the regt., so I go along up the hill. “Malvern Hill” Turkey Bend.” We form in line. A battery opens on the left which is silenced by ours. Heavy fighting on the right. Prisoners brought in.
July 1 (st Tue.) — Battle of Malvern Hill. Move to the front on the extreme left to protect a battery. Change position often during the day. Heavy fighting on the right. Very hot during the day. We are in a wheat field. Cover myself with straw to keep out the heat. Boys killing and cooking pork. At last near dark they come in force to try us. We hold them. Wave our colors. Lose Col. Woodbury and many officers and men. Are relieved and go to the rear when our ammunition is gone. Our troops hold the ground. Fall back during the night to the James River. Marching most all night. When we came back to the rear during the fight we rested near a large house used as a hospital and signal station and as Hd. Qrts. during part of the day. Tired, sore with loading and firing, we lay down in the dust. Many of the men were wounded and they could get no sight of the surgeons who were busy with the worse cases. Lieut. Gordon was struck in the shoulder in the first of the fight and I tied his handkerchief on his arm. He kept with us all night. We did not leave the place for some time. On the front the shells were flying and the musketry continued lively until nearly or quite ten o’clock. We did not mind it much. At least most of us went to sleep. We were soon routed and marched to the river and down to Harrison’s Landing. It was a very tedious, tiresome march, after all our marching by night and fighting by day of the week previous. it was long after daylight when we reached the open field and then in the midst of a shower, with rebel artillery behind us, we waded through the mud and sought to erect some shelter. Vreeland and myself got a house of rails and wheat and lay all day in the rain resting.
July 2 (Wed.) — Very heavy shower. Sick with dysentry at last. No use in trying to go any further. Regiment move out in line of battle as the rebels shell us and I lay in my tent. Go to the hospital in a barn. Take opium and tannin and have dreams and headache.
July 3 (Thurs.) — Rumor says we are in hot pursuit of the rebels. We do not know what the real state of matters is. Remain in hospital.
July 4 (Fri.) — Remain in hospital.
July 5 (Sat.) — Remain in hospital.
July 6 (Sun.) — Remain in hospital. Feel better. Dr. Clarke orders that the sick or wounded shall have no meat.
July 7 (Mon.) — Left hospital and went to Regiment. Acting Orderly, Segt. Vreeland being now acting Lieut. Very warm. Have to sleep two or three hours every noon. Feel the opium. Dreamy. Our camp is in the woods. The open plain between us and the landing covered with wheat the morning we came in is now one field of mud.
July 8 (Tue.) — Work all day on Muster rolls. Feel tired. Turn out at night for a Review by the President by moonlight. Very tired and weak.
July 9 (Wed.) Drawing clothing and issuing to the men. Very warm.
July 10 (Thurs.) — Writing on Rolls.
July 11 (Fri.) — Finish Rolls. See Henry Houseman of 32nd Mass. just arrived from Ft. Warren.
July 12 (Sat.) Regimental Inspection. See Hamilton Temple of Reading.
July 14 (Mon.) — Dr. Chamberlain returned from taking care of our wounded.
July 15 (Tue.) — Muster for pay.
July 16 (Wed.) — Regiment on fatigue duty. Shower.
July 17 (Thurs.) — Shower.
July 18 (Fri.) — Down to the Landing.
July 19 (Sat.) — Cool and rainy.
July 20 (Sun.) — Letter from N.H.
July 21 (Mon.) — So many men sick that we have to move camp into the open field. Very busy. Some trouble in laying out the camp and getting things in line. Do not feel able to do more than I can avoid.
[see letter of 23 July 1862 from Bancroft to T. H. Hinchman]
July 28 (Mon.) Wrote to S. F. H. St. Louis.
July 29 (Tue.) — Paid charges on box for Heintzen. Brandy, Whiskey, etc. taken care of by Vreeland and myself.
July 31 (Thurs.) — Rebels shelled us last night from over the river. Grand Stampede! It was written up in the papers.
Aug. 2 (Sat.) — Regiment over the River.
Aug. 3 (Sun.) — Most like Sunday of any in the army for a long time. No service.
Aug. 4 (Mon.) — Sunshine.
Aug. 5 (Tue.) — Very warm sultry weather and with the duties of orderly requiring constant activity and attention. With the weakness remaining from my sickness, I find nothing written for several days. We do nothing save what is necessary for health and that takes most of our time. We scarcely know how the country does stand. We all have faith in Gen. McClellan. A day in camp in the summer is very much as follows — reveille, policing of streets, breakfast, one hour’s drill by company, guard mounting, working and policing parties, fatigue, cook, eat and sleep ‘til 3 o’clock. Drill, dress parade, rations supper, bathing, washing of clothes, cleaning muskets, writing rolls, letters, reading papers, etc.
Aug. 8 (Fri.) — Visit the 6th Regular Cavalry. See Sergt. Ladd and Knapp of Adrian, Mich.
Aug. 10 (Sun.) — Marching orders. Pack up, send baggage on board transports — blankets and all in many cases. I retained only a light rubber blanket.
Aug. 11 (Mon.) — Marching orders. Sleep without rations.
Aug. 12 (Tue.) — Marching orders.
Aug. 13 (Wed.) — Marching orders.
Aug. 14 (Thurs.) — Marching orders. Fall in immediately after dress prade. Start at 10:30 o’clock. March about 80 rods and lie down in the dust without any command to halt and remain until morning. This gives little rest.
Aug. 15 (Fri.) — March out beyond the works. March all day and nearly all night. Sleep an hour or two in a cornfield sitting down in the dust. Cross the mouth of the Chickahominy early in the morning and halt. Throw off straps and belts and enjoy a glorious bath in the Chickahominy. The pontoon [bridge] we crossed on was the longest ever laid. Went to breakfast, then sat or lay down to ready and study “Waterloo” in “Les Miserables.” This is a very interesting description. Read it to understand it and you can then understand battle descriptions.
Aug. 16 (Sat.) — March at 4:30 p.m. Level and in some cases country bordering on the James River. March — March!! March!!! all night long through interminable forests. All I can see is a white roll (a shelter tent) across the shoulder of a man before me and I make almost superhuman efforts not to lose sight of it while the next behind me is so far behind I do not hear him. Some times I pass a worn out one who has made up his mind to stop any how. On! On—On—What keeps us moving? We halt a short distance from Williamsburg about midnight and then go on for it takes a long time for the column to close up. Williamsburg is a Virginia town — seat of William and Mary’s College. We pass the town by moonlight tired and weary. Finding it impossible to keep up. Most of the company having fallen out. One man and the two Lieutenants. I fell out and when we got to the fortifications beyond Williamsburg, seeing no one before or behind, stopped for the night. In a few moments one of the sergeants of my company came up and stopped with me.
Aug. 17 (Sun.) — Leave Williamsburg at daylight for Yorktown. Found the camp of the regiment within 80 rods of where we stayed during the night. Pass the graves of the battleground of Williamsburg. We find a 24-pound gun in a pond in the woods and inform the Quartermaster accompanying the train. Arrive at Yorktown about 4:00 o’clock p.m. Find the Division in camp upon the same ground they encamped last spring.
Aug. 18 (Mon.) — Leave for Hampton 8 a.m. Road very dry and dusty. After a hard days march, arrive at 5 o’clock. Bathe in salt water.
Aug. 19 (Tue.) — Up early. Tired and sleepy. Up to march in half an hour. No coffee. Soft bread and whiskey. March to Newport News. Get a shirt by mail which is very acceptable in present circumstances. Bathe in the salt water. Go on the boats down Hampton Roads. See masts of the Cumberland. Pass Fortress Monroe and Rip Raps.
Aug. 20 (Wed.) — Wake in the Potomac. Land at Aquia Creek. March to Potomac Creek Bridge. Very hot.
Aug. 21 (Thurs.) — March to the Rappahannock and encamp three days. Rations go to Falmouth. Lay in the road all night.
Aug. 22 (Fri.) — March from Falmouth to Elli’s Ford on the Rappahannock. Twenty miles. Heavy firing at Rappahannock Station to the north. Only three men to stack arms when we go into camp. The rest stopping on account of the heat and dust. Encamp in a wheat field near the Ford where are an abundance of small stones making it not very easy finding a place to pitch a tent and to lay down. Heavy shower.
Aug. 23 (Sat.) — Marching orders. Heavy firing. River too deep to cross. Rations short. No forage. Country hilly and rough, springly, apple trees, etc. Shower at night.
Aug. 24 (Sun.) — Inspection. Marching orders 11 o’clock.
Aug. 25 (Mon.) — Waiting. Very hot.
Aug. 26 (Tue.) — Started from Barnett’s Ford. Cross the R.R at Bealton. Go to Warrenton Junction. Battle at Bristoe –Gen. Hooker.
Aug. 27 (Wed.) — Up at a very early hour long before daybreak. Get about a half mile from camp and can get no further until after daybreak (7:30) o’clock. March to Bristoe. Cross the battlefield and encamp. Heavy firing to the north. No mail since Aug. 14th.
Aug. 29 (Thurs.) — Marched to Manassas Junction. Then march to the R.R. toward Manassas Gap. Firing toward the mountains. Battle going on. Under the shell today. Not engaged as Infantry. Firing mostly to the right. Countermarch and countermarch. On picket.
Aug. 30 (Fri.) — Pickets withdraw early in the morning, the division having gone during the night. Draw one day’s rations. March to Manassas, then over Bull Run and stop half hour for breakfast. No coffee, since yesterday morning. Go on to Centreville. Pass through the fortifications and go out in a valley on a beautiful stream to the north. Get plenty of corn and apples. Fighting toward the mountains. Get one day’s rations and start for the front. Smith’s and Franklin’s men pass us going to the front. Meet soldiers and wounded coming from the field. Countermarch. Porter’s Corps engaged except our brigade. Left wing turned. Slight panic. After dark, army all come back onto Centreville Heights. Are a long while getting into place for the night. Sleep on Centreville heights.
Aug. 31 (Sat.) — Go to the right, form line of battle facing open plains. Await an attack until 3:00 p.m. Rumored that McClellan is again in command.
Sept. 1 (Sun.) — During the afternoon receive eighty rounds of cartridges. Rain. Fall in after dark. Sleep in line.
Sept.2 (Mon.) — Up to 12:00 o’clock. March forty rods. Stormy, windy and cold. Leave the works daylight Tuesday morning, Centreville. Go to Vienna, to Lewisville, to Langley. Arrive 10 o’clock evening. Encamp in cultivated field. Roast corn. Fires of rails. Sleep.
Sept. 3 (Tue.) — Go to Miner’s Hill. Old camp of 1861 and ‘til March of 62. Many a brave fellow gone to his long home. Many broken bones. Many weary aching miles.
Sept. 4 (Wed.) — Writing Pay Rolls. Out in line of battle. Reconnoisance by rebel Cavalry. Get mail for the first time since Aug. 14th.
Sept. 5 (Thurs.) — Writing Pay Rolls. Expect to be here for some time.
Sept. 6 (Fri.) — Muster on the Rolls. Marching orders. Go to Falls Church and to Upton Hill. Arrive at 2:00 p.m. Sleep most of the day.
Sept. 7 (Sat.) — Lie in line of battle during the night. Outer line of Forts being dismantled. Move forward on picket.
Sept. 8 (Sun.) — On picket. Potatoes and corn.
Sept. 9 (Mon.) — On picket. Knapsacks come up from Ft. Corcoran, which we have not seen since Aug. 12th.
Sept. 10 (Tue.) — Pass on picket. Cloudy.
Sept. 12 (Thurs.) — March from Falls Church to Washington, thence to Rockville. Various rumors about our destination. Very hot.
Sept. 13 (Fri.) — March through Rockville. Beautiful country. A garden compared with the desert we have been traveling through.
Sept. 14 (Sat.) — Marching through Clarksville, Hyattsville, toward Frederick. Heavy firing to westwards of Monocacy River and Sugar Loaf Mt.
Sept. 15 (Sun.) — Leave Frederick. Go to Middletown over the hills. Beautiful scenery, and country. Stop near the battlefield of previous day. Good bathing. Meet prisoners and see a great many wagon trains.
Sept. 16 (Mon.) Middletown to Boonsboro to Gettysville to vicinity of the battlefield. Great army. Many soldiers. Encamp near Gen. McClellan’s Hd. Qrts.
Sept. 17 (Tue.) Go forward to support batteries. Twenty pd. Parrotts. Rumors and excitement. Get some glimpse of the smoke and changes of the lines from the hills. We turn Rebel left and light batteries and cavalry go forward. Burnside crossing stone bridge [of] Antietam Creek.
Sept. 18 (Wed.) — Bury dead under flag of truce while rebels cross the Potomac. Regiment go to the left and division join Burnside.
Sept. 19 (Thurs.) — Advance through Sharpsburg. Nearly every house struck with solid shot or shell. Things look rough. Rebels have stripped houses of everything. Union sentiment is strong. As we go through, women point out the houses of those who have given the rebels shelter and where rebel flags are concealed. Children swear vengeance. Go out beyond the town. Rebels are on opposite side the river. Two companies are ordered out as sharpshooters. Toward night the regiment is ordered to cross the river and take a battery which is disputing the passage. Sharpshooters along the bank. Capt. Gordon is wounded. While going down the river a fragment of a shell strikes the man in front of me taking the top of his head and killing him instantly.. We lose but few men in crossing. The river is some 500 feet wide and is not very warm. After driving away the Rebels, we return and try to dry ourselves and get some coffee.
Sept. 20 (Fri.) — Cross the river again at daybreak to show the other troops the way. Boys forage. Get flour, geese and turkeys and return, recross the river. After we cross. the Rebels drive our men back, sending the 118th Pa. down the river bank. We are brought up in line of battle and remain all day wet and weary. Beautiful country.
Sept. 21 (Sat.) — Beautiful day. All quiet in the morning.
Sept. 22 (Sun.) — Go into camp.
Sept. 23 (Mon.) — Go into camp.
Sept. 24 (Tue.) — On picket on the river banks.
Sep(t. 27th (Sat.) — Geo Parker 13th Mass. in camp.
Sept. 28 (Sun.) — On picket opposite Shepardstown, Va. Commission as 1st Lieut. dated to this date, Co. K.
Sept. 30 (Tue.) — Write S. F. H. St. Louis and home.
Oct. 2 (Thurs.) — General review by the President and General McClellan. Time very much taken up with duties of orderly sergeant.
Oct. 8 (Wed.) — Mich. 24th arrived.
Oct. 9 (Thurs.) — Mail arrived. Letter from T. H. Hinchman, M. W. Chapin, Commdg. Brig. at Louisville, Ky.
Oct. 17 (Fri.) — Returned from picket.
Oct. 25 (Sat.) — In camp at Sharpsburg. Sick, cold and chilly.
Oct. 28 (Tue.) — Enrolled by order of Col. Childs on the Rolls of Co. K as 1st Lieut to date from Sept. 28th, 62. See Dec. 7th following.
Oct. 30 (Thurs.) — Evening. Fall in. Break camp and march by moonlight to near Harper’s Ferry. Act as Lieut. in Co. K. Tue.
Oct. 31 (Fri.) — Marched to Harper’s Ferry, crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah. Filed to the left down the river and up the mountain. At last came out in the Louden Valley and go into camp. Officer of the guard tonight.
Nov. 1 (Sat.) — Regiment are mustered in for pay today. Work on pay rolls all day. No table. Oil cloth blanket on the ground. Present and absent in Co. K — 60 men. Heavy firing south. Have some mutton.
Nov. 2 (Sun.) — Fall in early in the morning. Very hot. Long march to Snicker’s Gap. Over the hills very rough road. Windy at night. No blankets. No mail recently. See Gen. McClellan tonight. Cheers greet him on every side. Heavy firing in morning an in afternoon very distant.
Nov. 3 (Mon.) — Windy and cold. Plenty of sheep, fresh pork and apples.
Nov. 4 (Tue.) — On guard. Officer of the guard. Inspection by Gen. Griffin. Write home to M. H. and to G. M. Wight, Washington, D.C. Firing in the distance.
Nov. 5 (Wed.) — Cold, windy. Firing in the distance. Geo. L. Maltz officer of the guard. All quiet.
Nov. 6 (Thurs.) — Leave Snicker’s Gap. Pass through Middleburg and encamp.
Nov. 7 (Fri.) — Up early and go to White Plains. Encamp early. Snowing hard. Have to scrape away the snow to pitch our tents. Very disagreeable. “I want to go home.” No prospect of an end to the war. We all think the war might have been ended had McClellan been reinforced at Richmond. Snow storm all day. Wet, melting, and very disagreeable.
Nov. 8 (Sat.) — Strike tents early and march down the R.R. then south to Warrenton Junction and encamp.
Nov. 9 (Sun.) — Strike tents at 6 a.m. March about two miles to Warrenton. Pitch tents. Gen. Griffin says we shall stay in camp until we get shoes and clothes as many of the men are without shoes.
Nov. 11 (Tue.) McClellan deprived of command. Review 7 o’clock in the morning. Officers of Porter’s Corps meet to shake hands with Gen. McClellan. Never were they so disheartened with the aspect of affairs.
Nov. 15 (Sat.) — Review by Gen. Hooker. Clothing arrived.
Nov. 16 (Sun.) — All quiet. Pleasant weather. No mail. On coming here we began making quarters at once, making use of boards from barns and houses, bricks, stone, etc. and appropriating all manner of culinary utensils from the neighboring farm house as usual. One week in camp. Service by our Chaplain, John S. Seage.
Nov. 17 (Mon.) — Up at 3 o’clock. March at daylight in a heavy mist. Tents and blankets heavy with wet. To Warrenton Junction ten miles and on towards Fredericksburg. Sick. Heavy march. Stop after dark in the rain in the woods. Meet Everett Eaton, Clk. Commissary dept. Humphries Division from Wakefield, Mass.
Nov. 19 (Wed.) — Officer of Guard Countersign “Hudson.” Rear guard on the march. Very tiresome. Encamp eight miles from Fredericksburg. No mail.
Nov. 20 (Thurs.) — Rain. No mail.
Nov. 21 (Fri.) — Rain. No mail.
Nov. 22 (Sat.) — Cavalry passing.
Nov. 23 (Sun.) — March to east of Fredericksburg through woods, ravines, etc. Do not get into camp until after dark. Cold, chilly night and frosty in the morning.
Nov. 24 (Mon.) — Mail in the morning. Gloves by mail from G. M. Wight, Washington, D. C. Nov. 8th.
Nov.26 (Tue.) — No rations. One hard tack each for supper.
Nov. 27 (Wed.) “Thanksgiving Day” breakfast and coffee. Get hard tack 1 o’clock p.m. Very thankful.
Nov. 30 (Sun.) Officer of the Guard.
Dec. 1 (Mon.) — Visit Barnard, 20th Mich. Wm. A. Barnard, classmate at Dartmouth College, 1859, who had been in the Land office at Lansing, Michigan. In camp near the Potomac Creek Bridge on R.R. from Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg.
Dec. 7 (Sun.) — Receive a 2nd Lieut.’s Comm. from Gov. Blair dating Sept. 3rd. (See Oct. 28th and 30th a few pages previous.)
Dec. 10 (Wed.) — Marching orders.
Dec. 11 (Thurs.) — Shelling Fredericksburg. One continuous roar from 5 o’clock until dark. Artillery terrific. March to heights east of Fredericksburg. See Geo. E. Pingree, Capt. 11th N.H. 7th Mich. Infantry cross the river and get a footing in the town.
Dec. 12 (Fri.) — March down to the plains. Heavy firing near night. Moonlight. Gunboats and siege guns.
Dec. 13 (Sat.) — Open land down to the left. Early 10 to 12 a.m. heavy opposite the town. Afternoon we cross the river and advance under fire outside the town. Into the smoke and dust of battle. Words cannot tell. We lose but few men but there are many of the field dead and dyng. Relieve the 9th and 11th N.H. Lay all night on the cold damp ground, hearing the groans and calls of the wounded. Too cold to sleep.
Dec. 14 (Sun.) — Battle of Fredericksburg. Sharpshooting all day. Lay low all day. Almost every man who stands up is shot. How would you like it? Five regiments lying close to the ground and have to lay there all day long — waiting — for what –thinking of what on that bright December day ? — home, church and friends. Nothing to eat save what we have. No coffee or meat. No orders all day. Splendid Aurora Borealis in evening. Back to town in the evening. Draw rations in the dark. Lay down and sleep in the streets near the railroad.
Dec. 15 (Mon.) — Lay in the streets of Fredericksburg all day. Removing wounded. Move to the right at night. Houses all open. Books, pianos, etc., free. Sleep in a house for the first time since June 1st. Have a supper at night. Wake 3 o’clock and recross the river in the rain. We go to our camp on the hill opposite the town.
Dec. 16 (Tue.) — Early move in mud and rain to old camp on the hill near Potomac Creek Bridge. Begin fixing tents, etc. for the winter.
Dec. 17 (Wed.) — Fixing tents.
Dec. 18 (Thurs.) — Assigned again to Co. I for duty.
Dec. 19 (Fri.) — General Inspection.
Dec. 24 (Wed.) Writing description book. Boys fixing up the camp.
Dec. 25 (Thurs.) Christmas. Camp trimmed up.
Dec. 30 (Tue.) — Out on reconnaissance 30 — 31 hours. 45 miles. 6 hours rest.
Dec. 31 (Wed.) Out on reconnaissance 30 — 31 hours. 45 miles. 6 hours rest.
Jan. In camp near Falmouth. Lt. Col. Lumbard and Col. Jeffords in command of the regiment. Gen. Burnside in command of the army.
Jan. 20 (Tue.) — Strike camp after a week of preparation and go about two miles. Begins raining. Soon changed to snow.
Jan.21 (Wed.) Move on in the mud and rain. Awful going. Go into camp in woods and build fires.
Jan. 22 (Thurs.) — Mud and rain. Rebels over the river laugh at us. Return to camp near Falmouth.
[see letter of 8 February 1863 from Bancroft to Thomas H. Hinchman]
March 10 (Tue.) — Wrote to T. H. Hinchman. Snowstorm.
Mar. 18 (Wed.) — Flagstaff raised at camp.
Mar. 19 (Thurs.) — Visit Bridge at Potomac Creek.
Mar. 20 (Fri.) — School of Tactics by Colonel Jeffords.
Mar. 21 (Sat.) — Lt. Vreeland gone to visit Mrs. Dr. Heard at Pleasanton’s Hd. Qtrs. (his sister). Rain and snow.
Mar. 26 (Thurs.) — Review of the 5th Corps by Gen. Meade. Gen. Hooker passes through camp.
Mar. 27 (Fri.) — Very clear and fair.
Mar. 28 (Sat.) — 1861 — M.H. 1862 — never forget. 1863 — Anniversary. One year more.
Mar. 29 (Sun.) — On picket. Cold but pleasant. (Sgt. John Bancroft Co. ‘I’)
Mar.30 (Mon.) — On picket. Very fair.
Mar. 31 (Tue.) — On picket.
Apr. 3 (Fri.) — Rev. Wm. Barrows called. Visit 22nd Mass with him and call on Adjt. Benson.
Apr. 4 (Sat.) — Saw Mr. Barrows again. Cold and windy.
Apr. 5 (Sun.) — Snow storm.
Apr. 7 (Tue.) — Review in camp by Abe Lincoln and Staff. 12th New York refuse to cheer and call out for paymaster.
Apr.8 (Wed.) — Grand review on the heights by the President in view of the Rebel camps.
Apr. 9 (Thurs.) — General inspection.
Apr. 10 (Fri.) — Muster to furnish data for the Provost Marshal General for Conscription. Pleasant weather. Montieth appointed Capt. of Co. E.
Apr. 11 (Sat.) — Officer of the Guard.
Apr. 12 (Sun.) — Review by a Swiss General.
Apr. 13 (Mon.) — Paymaster arrives. Receive my commission as 1st Lieut. today from Detroit. Send up papers for discharge and muster in. Cavalry start on a move.
Apr. 14 (Tue.) — Paying of the Regiment. Marching orders. Eight days rations.
Apr.15 (Wed.) — Heavy rains. No move today.
Apr. 16 (Thurs.) — Discharge received but not mustered in.
Apr. 17 (Fri.) — Officer of the Guard.
Apr. 18 (Sat.) — Regimental inspection by Capt. Lamson. Everything in fine order.
Apr. 19 (Sun.) — All quiet. Quite like Sunday. Pres. Lincoln down to see Gen. Hooker today.
Apr. 20 (Mon.) — Rainy and gloomy enough.
Apr. 21 (Tue.) — Prepared affidavits for mustering into the U.S. Service. Cold and storm. Prize poem on old Flag — read on Dress Parade.
Apr. 22 (Wed.) — Cold and chilly.
Apr. 23 (Thurs.) — Cold and rainy. Mustered into U.S. Service to date from Sept. 28th, 1862. 1st Lieut. Co. K, 4th Mich. Inf.
Apr. 24 (Fri.) — Cold and rainy.
Apr. 25 (Sat.) — Clear and sunshiny.
Apr. 26 (Sun.) — On picket. One of my men, Geo. E. Lovett, shoots a cow in the night.
Apr. 27 (Mon.) — Go back to camp. Pack up and are on the move. March to near Harwood Church. Aching and tired.
April 28 (Tue.) — March in the rain. Very long and tedious day. Go to a ford about four miles below Rappahannock Station. Lay down in the woods.
Apr. 29 (Wed.) — Cross the Rappahannock. Make a forced march and cross the Rapidan by wading. Water deep, rapid and cold. Raining.
Apr. 30 (Thurs.) — March towards Fredericksburg. Pass earthworks. Take prisoners, etc. Rainy and damp.
May 1 (Fri.) — Go on a reconnaissance toward the river and Falmouth. Get in sight of Fredericksburg. On our return the Brigade is cut off from the division by the advance of the rebels and have to return by a new route. March and countermarch all night. A very tiresome night.
May 2 (Sat.) — Battle of Chancellorsville. Wake up to build breastworks, etc. Are joined by Gen. Griffin and the whole command. Fighting to the centre and on the right. We have to be on the move and under arms all night.
May 3 (Sun.) Early in the morning we move to the centre to repel the efforts of the Rebels to break our lines. Give them grape and cannister. Woods are on fire where are many wounded. We take many prisoners. There are six attempts to break our lines which are repulsed each time. Heavy firing in the direction of Fredericksburg. Struck with a spent ball, making a small mark on the back of my right hand. Wake up under arms two or three times during the night.
May 4 (Mon.) — The regiment deploy as skirmishers to the front over the breastworks and into the woods where the fire burned. See soldiers crisped, burned, and cracked open. Horrible sight. Rebels open on us with grape and cannister and shell. Looks like a storm. Wrote in the morning to _____.
May 5 (Tue.) — Very warm. Up and under arms several times during the night. One attack to the left and is repulsed. In afternoon get ready to leave. Raining. Strike tents about ten in the evening in the rain and wait in the rain until 4 o’clock when we fall in and move. Raining very fast and about knee deep. Rear guard. Return after reaching the ferry and march and countermarch in the rain. We are the last brigade to cross. No Rebels in sight. Now about 8 o’clock in the morning.
May 6 (Wed.) — After crossing the river, we stop in the woods to make coffee. Raining yet. The line of march in for our old camps. We reach ours man by man, as does the whole army in the course of the afternoon. We build a fire in the hospital tent. Take a bath, a swallow of whiskey by someone’s kindness and thoughtfulness and sleep soundly and quietly with no sounds of alarm.
May 7 (Thurs.) — Raining yet. Orders to be ready to march at a moment’s notice.
May 8 (Fri.) — Raining. Clear and fit up camp.
May 9 (Sat.) Clear. Sunshine.
May 10 (Sun.) — Very warm.
May 11 (Mon.) — Very warm.
May 12 (Tue.) — Very warm.
May 13 (Wed.) — Stonewall Jackson dead.
May 16 (Sat.) — Fixing up camp.
May 17 (Sun.) — Wrote to ______. Very warm and pleasant. Rumors the 5th Corps are to guard the R.R.
May 18 (Mon.) — Clear and warm.
May 19 (Tue.) — Review of the 9th Corps.
May 20 (Wed.) — On Picket.
May 21 (Thurs.) — Clear and warm.
May 22 (Fri.) — On Picket. Clear and warm.
May 23 (Sat.) — Return to camp. Very hot. On duty with Co. H.
May 24 (Sun.) — Company inspection. Very hot.
May 25 (Mon.) — Changing Camp.
May 26 (Tue.) — Apply for five days leave of absence. Gov. Blair of Michigan expected in camp. Cool and cloudy.
May 27 (Wed.) — The Brigade turned out in Review in honor of Gov. Blair. Paymaster arrives with the Gov. Mr. Morley and three ladies. Everybody pleased. Gov. makes a speech. Everything goes fine. The party think we officers are all very young.
May 28 (Thurs.) — Commence paying off the regiment today. Marching orders. Have command of wagon guard. March until 10 o’clock. Camp at Harwood Church.
[see letter of 28 May 1863 from Bancroft to Thomas H. Hinchman]
May 29 (Fri.) — Move early to Kelly’s Ford. 4th and 62nd, 32nd and 9th to Ellis Ford. Encamp. 3rd Brigade are at Morrisville. Very warm.
May 30 (Sat.) — Very warm. All quiet. Looking up lost baggage. Wrote to M.
May 31 (Sun.) — Very pleasant. Cool and breezy. The Chaplain’s white flag floating in the wind. No service as most of the boys are on picket.
Monday, June 1, 1863 — In camp and doing picket duty near Kelly’s Ford, Va. Some of the better class of F.F.V.’s (First Families of Virginia) here. Lt. Vreeland had a piece of gingham made by a young lady who boasts of making cloth and dress from the raw material. Some of the young ladies are quite good looking. Secesh too. Very bad.
June 6 (Sat.) — Go to the right on picket. Capt. Montieth’s post of observation. Fine view. Open fields. Rebel pickets (cavalry). Hills of the Blue Ridge in the distance. Valley of the Rappahannock. River very rocky. Rapids and dams. Bluffs in places. Roses, laurel blossoms, and pure air. Very pleasant. Cool. Orders to be ready to march [with] three days rations. Letter from W. W. Harrington, Boston, Printer’s Union, in regard to sword belonging to Captain 9th Mass.
June 7 (Sun.) — Gave Chaplain Seage a package containing money for Jay Cooke & Co. 4. He is to start i early in the morning. $500.
June 8 (Mon.) — Chaplain Seage left early this morning. He was shot at by guerrillas about 11 miles on the road to Fredericksburg. Wounded severely in the shoulder and back but kept out of their reach. Packages returned in safety. He had some 6 or 7 thousand dollars for the regiment.
June 9 (tTue.) — Up at 2 o’clock a.m. in command of a working party of fifty men. Troops crossing the river on a raid. Cavalry fighting to the right. Slashing for a battery and entrenching work all day. Very tired. Our company 1st Art. Co. H, 2 Lieuts. Class of ’62 — fine fellows.
June 10 (Wed.) — Off duty. Company on poicket. Very warm during this and cool at night.
June 11 (Thurs.) — Cloudy and cool.
June 12 (Fri.) — Very warm. In command of company.
June 13 (Sat.) — Very warm. Issue clothing. Orders to march. Strike tents. March to Morrisville.
June 14 (Sun.) — March from Morrisville to Catlett’s.
June 15 (Mon.) — March from Catlett’s to Manassas Junction. Very warm.
June 16 (Tue.) — Go on picket to the left down the railroad.
June 17 (Wed.) — Go to Centreville, thence north to Gum Springs. Very, very hot. Rest very often. Men fall out of the ranks every few moments. Col. of 25th. N. B. died. Effects of sunstroke.
June 18 (Thurs.) — Gave to Maj. Holman May paymaster 500.00 for Jay Cooke & Co.
June 19 (Fri.) — Fall in afternoon. Go to Aldie about 3 miles. Cavalry fighting over the mountains. Rain and mud. Get wet from falling of my tent during the night. Very disagreeable.
June 20 (Sat.) Rainy. Lay in camp waiting. See Geo. Flint.
June 21 (Sun.) — Up at 3 o’clock and advance through Aldie Gap to Middleburg. Good country. Fine foraging. Splendid plantations. Plenty of pigs and chickens. March out to wood in support of the cavalry who go on to Ashby’s Gap. Shower in p.m. Cherries. On picket at night. Mutton and milk.
June 22 (Mon.) — Move back toward Aldie. Rebels follow closely but not in force. Quite warm. Lay all night in line of battle.
June 23 (Tue.) — Return to camp. Regiment on picket.
[see letter of 23 June 1863 from Bancroft to Thomas H. Hinchman]
June 24 (Wed.) — Remain in camp. Diarrhea.
June 25 (Thurs.) — Cloudy and cool.
June 26 (Fri.) — Rainy. Move at 1 o’clock toward Edward’s Ferry. March until after dark. Go into camp. One of the most tiresome marches of the war.
June 27 (Sat.) — March early. Go west of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Cross the Monacacy about two miles from its mouth. March toward Frederick. Go into camp.
June 28 (Sun.) — Remain in camp all day. Mag. Gen. Meade assumes command of the Army of the Potomac. Go on picket at night.
June 29 (Mon.) — Return to camp. Pack up and march through Frederick northward. Cross to the east side of the Monocacy. Encamp after passing Liberty.
June 30 (Tue.) — Move at 4 o’clock through Union Hills and half a dozen small villages to the turnpike. Left Westminster turnpike near Hanover about nine miles. Wash in a rapid stream N.W. Union Hills.
July 1 (Wed.) — Marched about 9 o’clock to Hanover. Cavalry fight here yesterday. Stop for supper. Heavy firing westward. March toward Gettysburg. Stop at about 11 o’clock. Through villages all along the road. Splendid farms. Large barns. Discussion by Dr. Watts and a lady at a farm house — an authoress. Very tired.
July 2 (Thurs.) — Battle of Gettysburg. Up at 3:30 a.m. Inspect arms. Form in line of battle on the right. Form by Battalion in Mass. Move to left and centre. Remain in the hot sun and listen to the sound of the guns until about 4 o’clock. Move to the left [towards] Round Top. Go in. Of the 23 men in my company, 5 are killed. Gregory, Purdy, Pendleton, Brink, [&] Wilson. Capt. Robinson wounded and a prisoner, and Lt. Walker wounded. Lt. Vreeland severely wounded. Worked looking for wounded until about 1 o’clock [a.m.]. In the melee when we were driven back and flanked, about 70 men were taken prisoners on the right. Col. Jeffords severely wounded and died the next morning. The following account was written about the time of the battle.
At 5 o’clock, July 1st, 1863 the 5th Corps were at Hanover, Pennsylvania, when the order came to proceed to Gettysburg where the battle had already commenced with the Rebels under Gen. Lee. We marched via Cherrytown and encamped about 12 o’clock midnight about 4 miles from Gettysburg. After a few hours sleep we were up, had an inspection of arms, and were out upon the road before daylight. After proceeding along the Hanover and Gettysburg Pike, we took a road to the south and nearing the position of the army, formed in line upon the extreme right and rear of our lines and advanced toward the Hanover and Gettysburg turnpike. Before 8 o’clock we were recalled. A few regiments were left to support the cavalry and the 5th U.S. Battery “D.”
The 9th Mass from our Brigade and we formed in line by Battalion in Mass and moved southward to the Baltimore and Gettysburg Pike, up which we moved over a small creek and lay in the sun upon the hillside until about three and one-half p.m. We then proceeded to the front and left by a small by-road, passed the ammunition train on our left just as they were drawing off the rebels, having begun to shell them. We formed in the edge of the woods facing westward “on the right by file into line.” The 4th Michigan being the right of the Brigade, a battery being stationed to our right and front, the 1st and 3rd Brigades being to our left and rear facing southwest. There was a battery in the open field in our rear firing over the woods.
After a few minutes part of the 3rd Corps (Gen. Sickles) being in our front in the woods south. The 2nd Brigade countermarched and formed facing south. Our regiment had rested at first. First we faced west, then hinging on th right, swinging backward. We now faced southward, an open wheat field being between us and the woods, in and beyond which a part of the 3rd Corps were fighting. When in our first position, skirmishers were thrown out by each regiment, but after changing front, they were recalled. While laying here rumor says that Gen. Birney ordered Gen. Barnes to move his division forward. The 3rd Corps were badly cut up in the woods and wounded men were coming back all the time through our ranks when we were ordered forward. Our skirmishers were all on the right. Meantime the rebels had silenced the battery on our right and had taken the pieces and were advancing upon our flank.
We advanced across the wheat field to the woods and opened fire upon the few rebs in our front while the force coming on our flank came in collision with the right of the regiment in the woods and — being checked here a little, the other points of the line advancing — they soon were on all sides of us. The right sent down to the Colonel the rebs were comin on our flank. The Lt. Col. ordered us to wheel to the rear to face them and then to fall back slowly across the wheat field. Many of the men never left the woods and were taken prisoners and so took a trip to Belle Isle. We rallied by Battery D, 5th Artillery. The Penna. reserves went in to regain the ground. Some fell here at their own homesteads and were recognized by their own relatives. We had about eighty men the next morning. Darkness closed the fight and we spent the night in gathering the wounded.
July 3 (Fri.) — Most of the Brigade suffered as heavily as we did. Lay in position behind a stone wall. Cannonading all day and very heavy at noon. Nearly all the artillery of both armies being engaged. Rebs fell back from our front during the night.
July 4 (Sat.) — Not very lively. On the field, sight and smells. Bury our dead. Raining.
July 5 (Sun.) — Advance. No rebels. Move at night towards Emmetsburg. Raining at night. March until eleven o’clock.
July 6 (Mon.) — Move in the morning about one mile. The army is passing. Roads are very muddy and soft. March in the fields.
July 7 (Tue.) — March to within about 6 miles of Frederick. Raining all night.
July 8 (Wed.) — March to Middletown. 12 o’clock raining fast. Clear at noon.
July 9 (Thurs.) — March to Boonsboro over South Mountain. Weather clear 12 o’clock. Stay all night.
July 10 (Fri.) — Cross Antietam Creek above Sharpsburg. Firing in the front.
July 11 (Sat.) — Move up Antietam. Form in line. “Closed in Mass.” Move forward about six o’clock. Leveling fences, etc. Wheat and corn. Grand sight. Infantry Artillery. Ambulances. Go on picket.
July 12 (Sun.) — Antietam Creek, Maryland. Advance as reserves to skirmishers. The 6th Corps come into position on our right in sight of the Rebel pickets making breastworks of rails and wheat. 5th Corps move to the left. Some skirmishing. Relieved in the afternoon. Go to the left into the woods.
July 13 (Mon.) — Up at daybreak. Move to the left of the 5th Mass. Battery and make breastworks. Gen. Griffin inspects the line and we make a new line.
July 14 (Tue.) — Cloudy. Advance on Williamsport. Rebels all gone acrost the Potomac. See Haight and Kreiger — wounded men.
July 15 (Wed.) — Up at 3 o’clock. March all day. Very hot and tedious. Go over South Mountain. Camp at or near Burkettsville. At one time during the day only 19 men all told in the regiment. Get a good supper at a farmhouse. Organize in the form of five companies after the battle of Gettysburg.
July 16 (Thurs.) — Up at 2 o’clock. Move to Berlin. Encamp about 11 o’clock on the heights.
July 17 (Fri.) — Draw clothing. Begin Pay Rolls which should have been sent in July 1st. Move in afternoon over the river. Encamp at Lovettsville, Va.
July 18 (Sat.) — Move via Pike Southward. Encamp at 11 o’clock. Easy march. Plenty to eat. Butter 15 cts. per lb. to 50 cts. in Pennsylvania. Plenty of cherries. Gen. Sykes was very anxious to have us march through some streams we crossed instead of taking the usual method of crossing on a single log, plank or fence, a thing which I have resolved to do when I cannot avoid it so long as there is a full company at least of “pioneers” at the head of the division who could so readily bridge these streams for foot passers. Wrote to M.H.
July 19 (Sun.) — Move today to near Purcellorville. Finish Pay Rolls of Co. H. in afternoon. In the evening take supper at the house of a Quaker and work on Capt. Loveland’s Rolls. Do not feel very well. Weather very hot.
July 20 (Mon.) — March to near Ashby’s Gap. Riding in all ambulance. Quite sick.
July 21 (Tue.) — Wrote to T. H. Hinchman. Do not move camp today. Very sick.
[see letter of 21 July 1863 from Bancroft to Thomas H. Hinchman]
July 22 (Wed.) — Move to near the railroad at White Plains. Ride in the ambulance. Quite sick.
July 23 (Thurs.) — Troops move early. Sick. Sent to Division Train. Troops move toward Manassas Gap. Firing at night for one-half hour. Plenty of blackberries. These became historic as curing scores of sick men in the army.
July 24 (Fri.) — Lay in Quartermaster’s tent all day. Train moves late in the afternoon. Cross the R.R. near Salem. Encamp among the mountains. Ride most of the day.
July 25 (Sat.) — Train move at daylight. Feel better. Walk to Warrenton. Cool, windy day.
July 26 (Sun.) — Clear and pleasant. Warm. Regiment arrive within three miles of Warrenton. Read Byron and Burns. The Quartermaster plays the guitar and sings scotch songs.
July 27 (Mon.) — Join the regiment as it passes the train. Go through Warrenton and in the direction of Bealeton Station. Encamp about two miles out.
July 28 (Tue.) — Remain in camp all day. Work on Receipt Rolls. Writing all day.
July 29 (Wed.) — Remain in camp writing, etc.
July 30 (Thurs.) — Remain in camp writing, etc.
July 31 (Fri.) — Remain in camp writing, etc.
Aug. 1 (Sat.) — Remain in camp writing, etc.
Aug. 2 (Sun.) — Remain in camp writing, etc.
Aug. 3 (Mon.) — Strike tents in afternoon and go about six and one-half miles to Bealton Station. March til near midnight. A very tiresome march.
Aug. 4 (Tue.) — Move sixty rods and go into camp.
Aug.5 (Wed.) — Very warm. Sign Pay Rolls.
Aug.6 (Thurs.) — Pay off Maj. Flye Paymaster. Plant trees all about the camp.
Aug. 7 (Fri.) — Set out trees. Work on final statements of Deceased Soldiers killed at Gettysburg.
Aug. 8 (Sat.) — Strike tents and move camp to the Rappahannock river.
Aug.9 (Sun.) — Very hot. Went in swimming. Boys came back from hospital wounded at Gettysburg.
Aug. 11 (Tue.) — Thermometer 110 in the shade. Wrote five letters.
Aug. 12 (Wed.) — Hot. No letters. Clothing issued. Rain shower.
Aug. 13 (Thurs.) — Wet.
Aug. 14 (Fri.) — Inspection. 12 men present in Co. H.
Aug. 15 (Sat.) — Officer of the day.
Aug. 17 (Mon.) — Sgt. Willis returns from hospital. Army moving.
Aug. 18 (Tue.) — Pleasant and hot.
Aug. 23 (Sun.) — Very hot. Still in camp.
Aug. 24 (Mon.) — Cloudy part of the day. Wind and breeze fine.
Aug. 25 (Tue.) — Officer of the day.
Aug. 26 (Wed.) — Visited 39th Mass & 13th. Met Geo. Fowle. Shooting of deserters postponed until Saturday.
Aug. 27 (Thurs.) — Clear and cold. Work on Pay Rolls.
Aug. 28 (Fri.) — Work on Pay Rolls. Balance Clothing Accounts. Pres. Lincoln and Gov. Curtin expected. Clear and cool.
Aug. 30 (Sun.) — Go on picket at night. Letter from T. H. H. Has not rec’d $150.00 check.
Aug. 31 (Mon.) — Muster for Pay.
Sept. 7 (Mon.) — Sick.
Sept.8 (Tue.) — Sick. Sent $15.00 to Bashour T. Simms for fruits, etc. by express.
Sept. 9 (Wed.) — Sick.
Sept. 10 (Thurs.) — Cloudy. Storm threatening. Tactics topic of conversation. Camps being put in good order. Sick. Ephraim Wight calls.
Sept. 11 (Fri.) — Lt. Walker returns to duty.
Sept. 13 (Sun.) — Reconnoissance toward Culpepper. Firing in forenoon. Three guns and thirty prisoners taken. Three killed and forty wounded.
Sept. 14 (Mon.) — Marching orders.
Sept. 15 (Tue.) — Marching orders. Pack up ready to leave.
Sept. 16 (Wed.) — March to Culpepper. Quite hot. Very tired. Paymaster commences to pay the Regiment.
Sept. 17 (Thurs.) — March three miles beyond Culpepper Court House. Paid off at night. Two months $235.15. Rain.
Sept. 18 (th Fri.) Raining hard. (Sgt. John Bancroft Co. ‘I’)
Sept. 19 (Sat.) — Fixing camp. Cold.
Sept. 20 (Sun.) — Cold but pleasant. Camp near Culpepper Court House.
Sept. 24 (Thurs.) — Chaplain Seage returned from Michigan. Rumors of a move to the rear to embark. Moved off tents.
Sept. 25 (Fri.) — Pleasant weather.
Sept. 26 (Sat.) — Officer of the day.
Sept. 27 (Sun.) — Regiment on Picket.
Sept. 28 (Mon.) — Officer of the day.
Sept. 30 (Wed.) — Officer of the day. Regiment return from picket.
Oct. 1 (Thurs.) — Walk to Culpepper. Regiment out to witness branding and drumming out of deserter. Appointed on Court Martial.
Oct. 5 (Mon.) — 3d Brigade, 1st Division. Col. J. L. Chamberlain, President. Afterwards Gov. Joshua L. Chamberlain of Maine.
Oct. 10 (Sat.) — Reconnaissance to the Rapidan near Racoon Ford and Pony Mt.
Oct. 11 (Sun.) — Leave Culpepper and cross the Rappahannock.
Oct. 13 (Tue.) — Beverly Ford. Guard the ford till noon. Army crosses and go to Brandy Station. Skirmishing through the woods on the right. Bivouac on the hills. Grand sight in afternoon and in the evening.
Oct. 14 (Wed.) — Started from Catlett’s Station. After passing Bristoe Station and Broad Run, stop [for] dinner. When starting out, the rebs open on our rear. March to Manassas. Gen. Warren with the 2d Corps attack and route the rebs. After dark we 5th Corps go down double quick to Broad Run. Return the same night over Bull Run. Very tiresome march.
Oct.15 (Thurs.) — March to Fairfax. Rain.
Oct. 16 (Fri.) — Rain heavy. March to Centreville. Rain all the way.
Oct. 17 (Sat.) — Clear. Stay all day.
Oct. 18 (Sunday). — March to Fairfax and camp for winters quarters. Afternoon strike camp and move to Pope’s Mills near the Pan Handle. Stay all night. Capt. Loveland in command of a party in ambush for Mosby, the guerilla.
Oct. 19 (Mon.) — March via Centreville guarding wagon trains. Cross Bull Run and corral after dark. From our wagons, get a change of clothing. Are on the Bull Run battleground. There are dead men’s bones, skeletons complete above ground. There are one or two good farms with fenses complete between the two roads. Rails full of bullets.
Oct. 20 (Tue.) — Move corral to Gainesville but do not cross the railroad.
Oct. 21 (Wed.) — Move early via Buckley. Cross Kettle Run. Rejoin the division. Letters from home. Court martial eight p.m.
Oct. 22 (Thurs.) — Snow storm St. Louis and Michigan. Apply for leave of absence.
Oct. 23 (Fri.) — Court martial. Reply S. L. H.
Oct. 24 (Sat.) — Rain and mud. Move camp to Auburn.
Oct. 25 (Sun.) — Go into camp into the woods.
Oct. 28 (Wed.) — Court martial. Work on Pay Rolls.
Oct. 29 (Thurs.) — Court martial.
Oct. 30 (Fri.) — Finish Pay Rolls. Move over the railroad three miles from Warrenton Junction. Reading Charley O’Malley.
Oct. 31 (Sat.) — Raining.
Nov. 1 (Sun.) — Fine day. Write to Solon.
Nov. 2 (Mon.) — Court Martial. Move camp.
Nov. 3 (Tue.) — Letter from M. H. Regiment go on picket.
Nov. 4 (Wed.) — Court Martial. Proceedings read. Adjourned, sine die.
Nov. 5 (Thurs.) — Went to the Junction. Paid ten dollars pair boots.
Nov. 6 (Fri.) — Officer of the day. Wind blowing very hard.
Nov. 7 (Sat.) — Strike tents at 4 a.m. Move at six. Go beyond Bealton. Form in line of battle in the woods “by battalion en mass.” Advance through open fields. Splendid view. Fighting to the right. 6th Corps. Battle of Rappahannock Station. Batteries of 5th Corps come out near us and open on them. The works are taken and many prisoners.
[see letter of 7 November 1863 from Bancroft to Thomas H. Hinchman]
Nov. 8 (Sun.) — Go to Kelly’s Ford. 1st, 2d, [and] 3d Corps cross. We follow. Go into camp.
Nov. 9 (Mon.) — Remain quietly during the day. P.M. Brigade Drill by order of Gen. Bartlett who has just assumed command of the division for shouting, “Hard tack” — the men being short of rations. Return to camp, drew rations. Move over Kelly’s ford and encamp. Cold night. Sleep three under two blankets. Capt. Loveland and Lieut. Emerson. Snows during the night.
Nov. 10 (Tue.) — Move near Bealton Station on road to Morristown. Considerable snow on the hill near Morristown.
Nov. 11 (Wed.) — In camp. All quiet.
Nov. 12 (Thurs.) — On picket duty from Warrenton Junction to Kelly’s Ford.
Nov. 13 (Fri.) — On picket duty from Warrenton Junction to Kelly’s Ford.
Nov. 14 (Sat.) — On picket duty from Warrenton Junction to Kelly’s Ford.
Nov. 15 (Sun.) — On picket duty from Warrenton Junction to Kelly’s Ford.
Nov. 16 (Mon.) — On picket duty from Warrenton Junction to Kelly’s Ford.
Nov. 17 (Tue.) — Moved over the river to join the Corps.
Nov. 22 (Sun.) — Rainy.
Nov. 23 (Mon.) — Cold. Signs of a move. Orders for a move. Morning early.
Nov. 24 (Tue.) — Moved in a rain storm. Returned to camp and built a chimney to spend the night in our own house.
Nov. 26 (Thurs.) — Thanksgiving. Moved over the Rapidan down the Thanbe toward the wilderness. March until late. Cold. Moonlight.
Nov. 27 (Fri.) Morning move to a plank pike through the Wilderness. Up it to a church near an old railroad. Skirmish on the left. Fighting on the right. No fires on the line during the night. Cold. Capt. Loveland and myself undress and sleep very comfortably during the night.
Nov. 28 (Saturday) — Battle of Mine Run. Move to the right across fields to a stone pike. Preparation for a battle. Encamp in the fields for the night.
Nov. 29 (Sunday). — Move to the front to the hilltop. In the afternoon, prepare for an assault on the rebel works on the hill beyond Mine Run. 3d Brigade as skirmishers, 2d to follow. Plan 2d Army Corps to advance on the extreme left. 1st and 3d to follow and the 5th to make the grand charge. Piled our knapsacks. Many of the men gave their money and watches to the Chaplain and all felt serious enough. Night came but we did not charge the rebel works.
Nov. 30 (Monday) — Up at one o’clock a.m. Breakfast. Prepare to charge. Leave our things. Go to the right, form in woods. The Fifth and Sixth Corps form in line of battle 8 or 9 lines deep. One mile long on the extreme right of the army. To our left was the artillery massed in the centre while on the extreme left was infantry, etc. Men were frozen that morning from the Sixth Corps and the 2nd Corps pickets who were wet by wading the stream. Had to be brought in on stretchers. Waited all day. No fires, no coffee, no charge. Tramped around and round until the woods were trodden like a path — until dark when we could be withdrawn with safety. Went back to our camping ground of the previous night. Had a good supper. Felt relieved in not charging. Made a bed of pine boughs amid a bower of pine limbs and with a blazing fire at our feet slept soundly, feeling thankful. We were not in the hillside between our lines and the rebel works.
Dec. 1 (Tuesday.) — Woke and prepared to move. Moved about dark up the Pike over Germania Ford. Move with the train, ammunition, etc, to guard. Encamp about 3 o’clock in the morning. Move about twenty rods to encamp with the division about ten minutes after stopping or five after everyone was asleep.
Dec. 2 (Wed.) — Up early in the morning and move without coffee. Go to Stevensburg near Culpepper. Army all over the Rapidan. Nothing to eat.
Dec. 3 (Thurs.) — Wednesday. Move to Bealton Station. Reach there at night. Nothing to eat.
Dec. 4 (Fri.) — Mail in. Wait to encamp.
Dec. 5 (Sat.) — Mail. No letters.
Dec. 14 (Monday) — Apply for leave of absence.
Dec. 15 (Tue.) — Our house is now comfortable so that we can live in it.
Dec. 16 (Wednesday) — Paymaster arrived.
Dec. 17 (Thurs.) — Lt. Gruner goes on 15 days.
Jan. 1 (Friday) — Arrived in Washington D.C. 7 o’clock. Cold and chilly. Stop at Mrs. Van Arsdale’s.
Jan. 2 (Sat.) — Return to the regiment at Bealton Station. They are reenlisting. We remain in camp for sometime and spend the time very montonously so that I find few entries in the diary. I correspond with the Ordinance Department and study preparatory to an examination before a Board of Officers from the Ordinance Bureau for a commission as Second Lieut. of Ordinance. Ride horseback with Capt. Loveland frequently.
Jan. 23 (rd Sat.) Life here is now very tedious. Nothing to do. Very muddy. Do not hear from the Ordinance Department.
Jan. 25 (Mon.) — Wrote M. H.
Jan. 27 (Tue.) — When we encamped here at Bealton after remaining a day or two south of the railroad, we proceeded to establish a camp for winter quarters a short distance north of and guarding the station. The grand rally was for winter quarters, for logs, stones, bricks, old pots and kettles, old chairs and tables and anything to help make up our homes. We were short of teams, they being busy with rations, etc. So while the other officers were building their own quarters in the most approved style, Capt. Loveland and myself of the 5th Company, for we were only five companies since Gettysburg, secured a team for the men every day until they were all housed. We then asked their assistance in putting us in more comfortable quarters than a wagon cover open at the ends could give. So we had 32 straight pine poles brought in notched in the most approved style by men who had built log huts before. The Capt. took a wagon and a detail of men out one day and came in with boards enough for a floor, a table, some stools and about as many more for the company for similar uses. We built a house of logs four feet in height, the cracks chinked and then filled with mud which in a few days was baked hard, with a door, a fireplace and a stone chimney and a roof from two wagon covers, one generously donated by one of the men. This house was 9 by 11 feet inside with floor, chairs, table and bed, mantle-piece and considerable pretension to neatness and style. We took a great deal of comfort there, called it “home.”
Feb. 1 (Mon.) — In command of a working party from the 32nd Mass. at Warrenton Junction. Topographical engineer with a hand level sketching topography.
Feb. 2 (Tue.) — In command of a working party from the 32nd Mass. at Warrenton Junction. Topographical engineer with a hand level sketching topography.
Feb. 5 (Fri.) — Letter from Dr. Scales.
Feb. 6 (Sat.) — Firing over the river. Rainy.
Feb. 7 (Sun.) — Rainy, Firing. My uncle Emory Bancroft died.
Feb. 15 (Monday) — Waiting.
Feb. 16 (Tue.) — Laid up with a boil. Very windy weather.
Feb. 17 (Wed.) — Cold. Very windy. Robinson’s tent burned.
Feb. 18 (Thurs.) — Cold and windy. Reading works of Alexander Dumas. “Three Guardsman,” — “Twenty Years After,” — “Iron Mask.”
Feb. 19 (Fri.) — Cold and pleasant. Regimental Inspection.
Feb. 20 (Sat.) — Rec’d of Maj. Flye $188.05 for Nov. and Dec. Cold and pleasant. Apply for Company H. to go home as an organization with Lieut. Walker, they having re-enlisted.
Feb. 25 (Thurs.) — Re-enlisted men of the regiment start home on a furlough of thirty days. Wrote to Aunt Susan and to Wm. A. Whitney. Lonely enough. Detachment from the 32nd Mass. come to assist our men in guarding the station.
Feb. 26 (Fri.) — Hear of the death of Mr. Samuel L. Hay. Wrote to Frank Hay.
Mar. 4 (Fri.) — Wrote to T[heodore] H. Hinchman. Wrote Miss L. M. Sanborn.
Mar. 10 (Thurs.) — Wrote to Mrs. Hay. Rain.
Mar. 16 (Wed.) — Wrote S. F. H. [see letter following diary]
Mar. 17 (Thurs.) — Wrote M. H.
Mar. 18 (Fri.) — Rec’d $252.25 U.S. 2 months pay four months commanding Co. H. During the winter we have had a series of debates on various questions. Dr. Watts, Chaplain Seage, Lt. Emerson and Capt. McLean have taken prominent parts while some of the privates have done well.
Mar. 28 (Mon.) — Ordered to report to Ordinance Board, April 20th, ’64. Lydia Hay died –age 14.
Mar. 29 (Tue.) — Q.M. returns of C.C. & G. Equipage.
Mar. 30 (Wed.) — Came to Washington. Arrive 6 p.m. Board at Mrs. Van Arsdale’s. Wrote to T. H. Hinchman to send me a box of books from Detroit and began a course of review and study preparatory for the examination.
[See April 10, 1863 letter to T. H. Hinchman]
Apr. 12 (Tue.) — Attended a debate in Congress in the evening.
Apr. 15 (Fri.) — Studying philosophy at Smithsonian.
Apr. 25 (Sat.) — Appeared before the Ordinance Board for examination. Gen. Burnsides Corps passed through town today to go to the front. Examination continues three days.
Apr. 29 (Friday) — Attend a festival.
Apr. 30 (Sat.) — Meet some old friends who used to work at the Armory.
May 4 (Wednesday) — Ordered to rejoin my regiment.
May 5 (Thurs.) — No cars. Go by boat to Alexandria. Meet Lt. Col. Wm. H. Cunningham, 19th Maine, of Belfast Maine.
May 6 (Fri.) — No cars. Go by boat to Alexandria. Meet Lt. Col. Wm. H. Cunningham, 19th Maine, of Belfast Maine.
May 7 (Sat.) — Remain all day with Col. C. Visit Col. Delany and daughter and Miss Gerty Brannon of Alexandria. Miss Delany has recently arrived from Richmond with her father who was for some time a prisoner there. He was formerly in command of a vessel on the slave trade blockade on the coast of Africa. Both the ladies were very lively.
May 8 (Sun.) — Start for Rappahannock Station. Lay under arms all night.
May 9 (Mon.) — Return from Alexandria. There has been a great battle but we hear nothing satisfactory in regard to it.
May 10 (Tue.) — Ordered to Camp Distribution. Given command of a company of men and draw guns and equipment.
May 11 (Wed.) — Start down the Potomac to Belle Plain. Capt. Moore, 17th Me. relieves me in command at 9 o’c. a.m. Sleep in the cabin of the boat all night. Rained all day.
May 12 (Thurs.) — Heavy fight at Wilderness on the 5th and at Spotsylvania C.H. Land at Belle Plain. Go into camp on the heights in the rain. Wounded coming down from Fredericksburg in army wagons on from Wilderness. See Lieut. Emerson, wounded. Col. Lumbard killed, and Capt. Loveland wounded. It is said that Col. Lumbard went into the fight with the remark, “that it was either a star or a headboard.”
May 13 (Fri.) — March to Fredericksburg. Meet a large force of rebel prisoners guarded by a battery and two regiments. Raining hard. Encamp on the heights, beyond Fredericksburg.
May 14 (Saturday) — Raining yet. Go out to Gen. Meade’s Hd. Qrs. through trains in mud and rain.
May 15 (Sun.) — Join the regiment on the front near Spotsylvania C.H. Met my classmate, Wm. A. Barnard, now a Lieut. in the 20th Michigan. Form lines of battle. Sleep all night.
May 16 (Mon.) — Five weeks more to serve. 9 o’clock. Sun out. All quiet. All day sick. Sleep well. Col. Sweitzer makes a speech to the men.
May 17 (Tue.) — Quiet and cool. Move to the front in two lines. 5th A.C. Army to attack in the morning right and left.
May 18 (Wed.) — Wake in the morning to music of shot and shell. Cloudy but not rainy. Throw up earthworks and the rebels cease firing. Mail arrives. M. H., J. M. and Sarah.
May 19 (Thurs.) — Lay till afternoon writing letters. Rebs attack our train on the extreme right. Move to the right. Heavy musketry. Raining.
May 20 (Fri.) — Sun rises clear. One month today to serve. All quiet today. Rebel band at the C. H. (Spotsylvania) plays “Marseillaise Hymn.” Ours plays, “Hail Columbia.”
May 21 (Sat.) — Up at daylight in morning. Rebels moving artillery to the right. Rebel band playing very close. We receive and return a few shell at noon. March to Guiney’s Station.
May 22 (Sun.) — Up early. March at 10 o’clock. Go on picket about 10 p.m.
May 23 (Mon.) — March. Cross the Mat and the North Auna. Have a skirmish. One man killed, recruit, 3 o’clock p.m. Heavy fight about 5. Line breaks. Regiment falls back. The line is reformed. Up most of the night.
May 24 (Tue.) — Up early. All quiet at 7 o’clock. Build works. Move away to the right in the afternoon. Cross the R.R. about five miles above Saxton’s Station or Junction and encamp in the woods. Gather the rails and throw up works. Work until 12 or 1 with axe, pick and spade.
May 25 (Wed.) — Early in the morning move to the left down the railroad. Skirmish and build works. Rain.
May 26 (Thursday) — Leave works at dark. Cross the North Anna River. The water very high, almost floating our temporary bridge of timbers. Climb the hill up a stream of mud and march. Drew rations. March till about 7:30 o’clock in the morning.
May 27 (Fri.) — Stop for breakfast in avery quiet pine grove. Eat and go to sleep. Lay about two hours. March all day. Very warm and wearisome as spring days are. Encamp in a valley by a stream. Go and bathe. Return, eat supper. Gather leaves and make a splendid bed. Get asleep when Adjutant Maltz comes to detail me as an Officer of the Picket. Fifty men are awakened after much cursing, etc. and the tired procession follow H. Kingbury to the picket. And after a tedious march of about two miles up one side the creek and down the other we find ourselves about one-fourth mile from camp. 12 o’c. midnight. Men are posted in groups of six and enjoined to keep awake. I go along that line twice before morning and find every man on two posts asleep. I sleep about two hours, yet so lightly that I hear every change in the picket near me.
May 28 (Saturday) — Cross the Pamunky River at Hanover town. Move out upon the heights above the town and near some fine old mansions. Encamp about 2 o’c. Get dinner and begin felling trees and make two line of works. Sit down and write letters to Frank, to Mrs. H. and to my sister Sarah.
May 29 (Sunday) — Move to the front. Pass 2d A.C. 9th A.C. ahead and on a road to the right. Move to the left. Skirmishers out. Light skirmishing. Gain a hill and after shelling the woods throw up works and encamp. No rations. Men get corn and potatoes from the buildings.
May 30 (Monday) — Move again to the front. Skirmish all the way. We are the 2d regt. and support the picket. Charge over an open field. Have two men wounded. Build works and leave after dark. Draw rations. Heavy fighting right and left.
May 31 (Tuesday) — Fighting on the right in morning. Right and left in p.m. Very hot. Lay quiet all day.
June 1 (Wednesday) — All quiet at 10 o’clock. Gen. Grant along the lines. Artillery in mass in the centre. Heavy fighting along the left and quite late at night.
June 2 (Thursday) — All quiet in the morning. Move a short distance to the left. The 9th Army Corps pass to the left. Their pickets leave in the afternoon followed by the rebels, so we are in a fight. Hurry and confusion. Form lines in a hurry. A. Garnsey wounded. Rainy at night. Take cold and get what proves to be the chronic diarrhea.
June 3 (Friday) — Deploy as skirmishers and advance in the woods in front of the 3d Brigade. Ours, 2d Brigade, advancing in the open field. Worden killed. Shaffer wounded. Lt. Vessey killed. Lt Maltz wounded. The rebs gave our pickets or skirmish line a most terrific shelling, the shells rushing through the pines cutting them so they would fall afterwards with the wind. Afterward they depressed their pieces and sent them amongst us. One of these killed poor Vesey. Move to the right, join the regt. and brigade and, tired as we are, spend the night in building earthworks.
June 4 (Saturday) — The rebels are all gone from our front. Maltz wounded last night and I am appointed Act. Adj’t. Fine weather. Make application to have several days at the rear to make out the papers requisite to muster out of the reg’t.
June 5 (Sunday) — Receive mail today. Carry applications to Hd. Qrs. 6 Div. 5th A.C. Go on reconnoisance. Move top the left to Cold Harbor. All night on the road. Very tired.
June 6 (Monday) — All quiet. Trains ordered up. Bathe and get the 1st change of shirt save by throwing away since May 2d. Drawers too. Talk of hardships of the revolution. Get mail today via White House.
June 7 (Tuesday) — Move at 3:30 a.m. to the left. All quiet. Encamp near Bolton Ridge.
June 8 (Wednesday) — All quiet. Work on Co. B’s papers. Quite unwell with diarrhea.
June 9 (Thursday) — All quiet, all day. Work on papers. Fine weather.
June 10 (Fri.) — 9th Mass. Vols. start for home. Wrote to Lu S. and M.H.
June 11 (Sat.) — All quiet. Teams all go to the rear.
June 12 (Sunday) — All quiet. Weather cool. Seven days more of service. Move at dark. March all night to near Chickahominy river about 2 o’clock. Sleep til morning.
June 13 (Monday) — At daylight cross the Chickahominy and go near White Oak Swamp. Rest part of the day in the field. March all night.
June 14 (Tuesday) — Have about two hours sleep in the morning and then march to Charles City Court House and up on the Harrison Landing Road. Encamp on the fields near the James River.
June 15 (Wednesday) — Remain in camp all day. Go to Gen. Griffin’s Hd. Qrs. from which we have a view of the river and the transports, etc. Sick with diarrhea.
June 16 (Thursday) — Cross the James River. Remain on the heights. Men have opportunity to bathe and time for dinner. Begin the march about 1 o’clock to Petersburg. Road very dry and dusty. Houses all burned along the road so there is no shelter for stragglers. A very hot dusty and tedious march. Stop about 10 o’clock for supper in a field full one-half mile from any water. Go to sleep. Wake in time to swallow coffee and remount my horse. Clear moonlight. Change with the officers. Walk and ride. March fifty minutes, rest ten. March until about two o’clock. Heavy fighting in front.
June 17 (Fri.) — Very hot. Severe fighting going on all the time. Lay still all day. Shells pass over us.
June 18 (Saturday) — Move to the front and left. Col. Schweitzer leaves us in the rear saying he will call on us only in case of urgent need. So we stay all day and hear the shell and musketry and dream of going home for tomorrow we start homeward bound if we survive today. All day long men go to the rear wounded. The ambulances come up near us for the loads. The timber boys of a battery come back to us and fill from their ammunition boxes and the men tell of the events of the day and then they go to the front and another section comes back and so until evening. About nine o’clock someone brings the mail and distributes it. Then fall in to the front. Col. Schweitzer sends for us and so down we go in the darkness and where the musketry is sounding right lively, too lively for comfort and home tomorrow. We cross the R.R. and change position several times. At last we begin throwing up earthworks and I soon take two rails and another for a pillow and sleep soundly. No blanket. Sharpshooting seems to be indulged very freely during the night and early in the morning.
June 19 (Sunday) — Lieut. Gunner wounded. March to City Point. To extend the above –several men in the regiment were wounded by sharpshooters that morning and Capt. Marshall. The senior officer with the regiment, being absent, they all look to me, “acting adjutant,” for orders.
June 30 (Thurs.) — Mustered out of service at Detroit, Michigan.