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The Diary and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge 1842-1878

Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Phyllis G. Jones (his great-granddaughter)

Copyright © 1993, Phyllis G. Jones, All rights reserved

March 1864


Diary: March 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23

Letter: March 23, 1864 - Theatrical reviews, dealing with a drunken soldier

Diary: March 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31

March 1”

Day. Cold snowed.-

March 2”

Day. Clear & warm snow nearly all gone. very mudy. Answered Uncle Johns letter tonight

March 4”

Day clear & warm. there is 12 men in camp to go to N.C. or Va as soon as there is enough to make a good squad I shall be sent to with them to Fortress Monroe.

March 5”

Day clear & warm. Dr Hunt wrote to Geo. O. Jones Esq of Albany N.Y. for me recommending a promotion to Lieut or Captain he wrote a splendid letter. I took a copy to retain so if it should come to nothing, I can retain it for a reccommendation of another kind

Sunday March 6" 64

Day cold & clouday. Dr Hunt left for Columbus, Ohio last evening he is a very fine officer and I hated to see him go. looks like snowing to night.

Tuesday 8"

Rained nearly all day.

I wrote a letter to Miss A. M. Porter Col started last night for home on leave

Wed 8" [sic]

Clear and warm.

This evening a note came up from Maj Woods saying that a boat would leave the Coal Wharf at 7 A.M. tomorrow and would take any men we had for Fort Monroe. Capt Crawford was in town and I could not find Maj Johnson I.C. who is comd'g during the Cols absence. so I ordered the men to be got ready with four days rations and to be reported at the office at 5 A.M. the 10" there is 65 duty men and 25 deserters. I then went over to the Capts quarters and wrote on Maj Woods note what I had done. and that if he wanted to see me about getting them off in the morning to send his orderly to wake me up when he returned which he will about midnight

Thursday March 10"

Commenced to rain about 9 A.M. and has continued to do so all day. Henry Kulp came into the barrack this morning about 2 A.M. said the Capt was back and wanted to see me I went over and he made out an order for me to take charge of them to Fortress Monroe and then return I came over to the office built a fire washed and when I got warm mad a copy of the order for the clerk to copy in the book. I opened the "Special Order Book" so as to put order where it would have to be copied and what should I see but an order by Maj Johnson for Lieut Burrill to do the same thing viz take charge of the men oh how glad I felt. I did not want to go. it appears after I got through looking for the Major he came into the office and made arraingements to send the Lieut. when I came back to the office he was gone so I did not see him at all. Gen'l U.S. Grant has been appointed Lieut. Genl. and is now at Washington We heard a great deal of fireing arround & sent to Dept Hd. Qrs. to see what it was about. it was to celebrate the passage of the Emancipation act by the Virginia legislature.

March 11" 64

Rained nearly all day. I received a letter from Saml he is well but his wife is very sick he says he will buy a yoke of cattle this spring and go to work on his farm. he wants to get money enough to buy a plough. warnes me a gainst lending money to John says he is a snake in the grass.

March 12"

Day clear and warm. I expect the Col back tomorrow. had the office all scrubed out it looks as neat as can be. nothing of importance occured.

March 13" Sunday

Clear and warm A.M. showery P.M.

I went out to Munsons Hill, Baileys Cross road & Balls farm of which we used to read so much in the papers when the Army of the Potomac was laying here from Munsons Hill which is nearly ten miles from the capitol but still it can be plainly seen so can about a half of the city and the country for miles arround. the view is beautiful in future years a monument will probably be erected on this hill and our children will visit it and while gazing on the surrounding landscape remember how their fathers collected on these hills to protect Liberty and sweep slavery from the country. [this may refer to when Union troops were routed at Ball's Bluff 1861] on our return we passed Clouds mills quite a romantic spot in a deep glen surrounded by woods and rocks. I had no idea there was so romantic a spot any where near here- had a regular systim of April showers this afternoon. since dark it has grown quite cold wind N.W.-

March 14"

Day clear and cool. I have my orders made out to take charge of a prisoner and conduct him to Ft Monroe then return-

March 15

Day clear and cold I received my man & started for Wash‘ with ironed I got my transportation and when I went to the depot to procure a ticket found that it only called for one man I had to go way back & go through the whole biz again. I saw Orville Clark at the office. on our return my prisoner wanted to stop and see his cousin at N° 28 St it is a very clean neat place & the girls belonging to it look finely he kissed them all arround and seemed very sorry to part with them which I have no doubt he was, some of then commenced to pull me arround a little set on my lap &c I just quietly resisted them & as soon as my man was through his adieus started. at Baltimore found I was too late for the Old Point boat would have to wait until tomorrow at 5 P.M. so went to Gilmours got our supper, then went to Holliday St Theatre saw Mrs D. P. Bowers play “Leah the forsaken" or "The Jewish maiden" played splendidly Miss Lucille Western is playing the same thing at Front St. so giving the public a chance to judge which is the best I then came here (Fountain Hotel) took a room and shall stay all night-

March 16

Day clear and cold froze last night. got up this morning about 8” had breakfast at Gilmours and spent the rest of the day in walking through the town. at the appointed hour took the Adelade for the Fts towards which we are now steering as fast as possible

March 17

Clear & cold. Got to Old Point at 7 A.M. took my prisoner up and turned him over to the Pro Mar. made him put the irons on before I took him in the office I did not require him to wear them after leaving Wash’ he was such a good fellow. Went to a saloon to get my breakfast, saw a tipsy citizen who refused to let me pay for it but did it himself, want me to drink with him but I would not but gave him my hand, bored myself to death waiting for the boat to return to Baltimore which it did at 5 P.M. got aboard and am now seated in her saloon feeling very comfortable which is more than many of the rest of the passengers can say for the bay is very rough & they have some accounts with Neptune to settle-

March 18" At Camp

Not so cold as yesterday. Clear. Got to Baltimore at 6 A.M. went to the Rest got breakfast. visited the Q.M. to get transportation to Wash’ started on the 8.40 train. when I arrived there went to see if the camp had been paid. found it had not. walked out. boys glad to see me back. Capt Crawford home on leave. a billiard table up in camp. had a game this noon and this evening played again. feel very tired. found a letter from John people all well. also one from my sister all sick but her. she dose not want me to go back to the regt.

March 20”

Cold. the above notice (newspaper clipping) came out in the papers to day Corp Fraynor and 3 others were captured by guerillas taken into the woods and two guards placed over them. the boys watched their chance and sprung on their guards took their arms from them and shot them and also wounded a Lieut and brought him in with two other prisoners. this was certainly brave for men without arms and out numbered to kill two of their guards capture two and a Lieut. This took place last monday the next day after the Sergt and myself were out on Munsons Hill. we came back through a thick wood and very gloomy kind of place I had no idea guerillas were laying arround loose so near to us or I should not have felt so comfortable. it was so cold I did not go walking to day

Monday 21”

Cold. Recd a letter from Miss Porter she writes very pleasantly.

March 22" Parole Camp

Day very cold. I got orders to take charge of 11 men and bring them to this place. I commenced snowing at sundown and is now the worst night of the season. one of the men was so drunk when I got here he could not stir I took him by the colar and draged him through the aisle and threw him off into a snow-bank just as they were starting I turned my men over to the Officer of the day and got a rect for them. the officer then took me down to the sutlers and we had an oyster supper & then went up to his quarters. we have had two or three games of seven up and a smoke. he has just showed me where to go to bed. he has gone out to see the lights are all out.

Wednesday 23”

Day cold A.M. Warm P.M. The officer of the guard woke me up according to promice in time to take the 6.30 A.M. train. still snowing and blowing and very cold. A negro regiment was camped near Parol Camp and cold as it was last night they only had sheter tents without stoves or fire. I bet there was more than one frozen limb this morning; I came on th Wash- washed myself and took breakfast at the "Rest" then walked out to camp. the Col told me that Col‘ North the New York state agent was over here and wanted to see me. he says he will give me a letter to him to-morrow & let me go over to town- wrote to my sister to night-


Head Quarters Rendezvous of Distribution Va

March 23" 1864

Dear Susan

When I headed this letter I expected to send it to father but have changed my mind and also the destination of this letter. I received yours of the 12" inst just as I was starting for Fort Monroe with some men. just as I received one last summer from you when I was starting on the same trip. I had a very strong notion of going to the regiment when I started but Col McKelvy did not want me to go yet so I came back. I went and returned by the way of Baltimore while there went to the Holiday St theatre to see Mrs D.P. Bowers play "The Jewish maiden" or "Leah the forsaken" she is a splendid actress and acquitted herself admirably, still I like Miss Lucille Western much better in that play for her voice is so much more pleasant Mrs. Bowers has been on the stage so long that her voice is rather to harsh sounds almost like that of a man. both of these ladies are playing in Baltimore now, Miss W. at Front St. & Mrs B. at Holiday, they are both playing the same piece ("Leah the forsaken") and are to play it every night for a week so as to give the Theatre going public a chance to judge which of them is the best by going to see first one then the other I have seen Miss Western in "East Lyme" and one or two other pieces, I believe her the best actress in America Edwin Forrest the great tragedian has an engagement at one of Washington theatres for six weeks for which he is to receive ($9000.00) nine thousand dollars. I must see him once or perhaps more than once while he is here. I can get a pass and the countersign whenever I want to stay all night. I came from Annapolis to day I was down there yesterday with some papers and men I did not get there until dark. oh! how bitter cold it was we have had some very cold weather this winter but I have not felt so chilled since I have been in the service the wind was blowing from the North and it was snowing very fast, one of my men got some whiskey on the cars and was so drunk he would not obey my orders, while I was taking (talking?) to him the cars started from the station where my men were getting off I caught the bell rope and gave it a pull for them to stop which they did, the conducter came running to the rear to see what was the matter saying he would give five dollars to know who pulled the rope one of the men told him it was me. he started for me but my men closed up behind me and he backed out. I took the fellow who was drunk by the shoulders gently laid him on his back in the isle then took him by the collar and drew him from one end of the car to the other and threw him off into a snow bank, then jumped off myself and let the cars go on. the fellow began to think I was not a person to be fooled with a great deal so he allowed himself to be led up to Parole Camp which was only a fiew rods from where we left the cars when we got there I ordered him to be put in the Guard House. I turned the rest of the men over to the proper officer and the accepted the invitation of the Officer of the day to go down with him and some of officers of the 94" N.Y. Vols. to an oyster supper, we had a good time then I went with the Officer of the day to his quarters and slept with him, I wanted to come away on the first train in the morning so the Officer of the Guard who has to set up all night said he would wake me in time to take it. I was afraid he would forget it but he did not. when I got up I found the snow six inches deep on the level and the wind still blowing great guns. some of the guard were almost frozen. I got to camp about 10 a.m. since noon it has been very warm the snow finds the sun rather too much for it so it is turning into water as fast as possible.

I had not heard the news which your letter brought me but was expecting to, you need not fear about loosing your first place in my affections by the recent addition to our circle of relations but of this matter the least said the better. whose name did you send for the little stranger?

Father must live on his land or have some of his family on it or his claim to the ownership is forfeited. he could live on it and work some other land on shares if he so pleased, but I cant see what object he would have in that unless it was that he by this means gets a team and tools furnished to work it with. these you know would cost him deal of money which he probably has not got to spare this season.

Tell Janey that Oscar says he does not feel his loss very much but he thinks McClara will not say the same. I am sorry you are all so unfortunate about colds when I am so luckey. I dont know why it is but I have not had but one cold this winter and that did not last long. usualy I have one all winter. It must come hard on mother she is so old and feeble I hope she is better now.

My kind regards to all. Your loving brother


(written along edge of first page)

Dear sister, I have just read my letter over and find that in my desire to get a good deal on one sheet I have made it sound cold which I do not like, it needs warmth. so I will put it in. I love you all a big heap mother, Josey, Janey all, and you may be - I will have a good kiss all arround when I get home - even to the little lap dog. Yours ever


(written along edge of last page)

Have you got so you can read my running hand yet? please tell me in your next if you know how old mother was when she died

Yours, B.


Thursday 24”

Day clear & cold. I went over to see Col North to day. he took my name Co. regt. and place of residence. he is somewhat acquainted at Andover with the Bundeys and Crusen spoke to me very kindly and said he would tend to my case. Frank Basset I rather think is trying to get a commish for the col spoke to me of him. the 39" Vet Vols of Ill. came to our camp to day and are going to camp near us.

Friday 25"

Rained all day. the 25" Ohio Vet Vols came to day and have temporary quarters with us several regiments are to be sent here shortly

Sat 26"

Cold and rainy. the 24" Mass Vet Vols came in and were quartered in the barracks temporarily

Sun 27”

Day warm & clear. I took an idea into my head that I could sketch of the forts and hills beyond the camp. I never had tried such as thing before but I took my book pencil and piece of paper and went up near for Barnard and looking of acrost the plain to the hills beyond took the Picture. Sergt says bully for the first time--

[There is a reproduction of the drawing. I don't have an electronic file at the moment and need to go back to the paper copy and see how good an image I can pull.]

Monday 28”

Warm & clear consequently pleasant. I wrote to father the Divisions are now at work making out new rolls for the old ones are wrong and we cannot get our pay on them. we have to make a lot of rolls for every regt mustered it will take about seven hundred there is only three hundred men mustered for pay but in that some some [note: the duplication may be a transcription error] 200 regts are represented and for each regt we have to make triplicate rolls.

Tuesday 29”

Cloudy A.M. rained P.M. I am at work recording the receipts of Parole Prisoners that were here last summer. I find in comparing the book kept at the Receiving Office with the books of the Camp that a good many men were received that are not accounted for by the latter. I am now trying to get some account of them. it is raining to night- wind- East.-

Wednesdav 30”

Rained and snowed all day. the latter melted as fast as it fell. the Pay Rolls of the 2" Division are done over three hundred and sixty seperate rolls it was a big job. I received a letter from O.L. Barney to day. he will tend College next winter again. say Joseph Potter is dangerously sick. it makes me feel very anxious so I have written to my sister to inform me of his present health at once. I also have a letter from Barton the prisoner I took to Fort Monroe a short time ago. he says he is all right with the regt. I hope he is for he appeared to be a bully fellow I have been very buisy all day. The Col reposes a great deal of confidence in me and so I find plenty to do--

March 31”

Rainly all day. Col Went over to Washington and when he came back this evening he was prety tight, he knows enough not to transact any business while in that state. he came in the office and signed one paper but when he went out he told me not to send it out. but as it was important that it should be tended to to night I did send it.

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