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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

May 1864


Diary: May 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22

Letter: May 22, 1864 - News of a new nephew

Diary: May 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31

Sunday "May day" 1864

Clear but a prety good wind blowing from the NortEast. I went up on the hill near Fort Richardson to take a sketch the wind blowed so I could not keep my paper in its place so I had to give it up. 2000 cavalry went by on the Fairfax road while I was there they had I should judge three days rations with them and were on their way to the front Grant will soon be making a big move there.

Thursday 5"

Day warm & clear. Men who came from the front to day say that the regts were ordered to strike their tents and move night before last som at 12 0.C. midnight & some at 3 A.M. if this is true there will soon be a big fight down there. I took a squad of 200 men 56 of them deserters down to Alexandria to go to Fortress Monroe Wm W. Hibbard the fellow who was in Hd Qrs when I first came in camp and got his discharge just after moving over to this place, was in the squad of Deserters his grandfather died and left him some money and of course had to get on a spree before he got through with it he enlisted for the 85 again he was sent to Elmira from there went home without leave and was arrested and sent here. An advance was made acrost the Rapahannoc to day the rebs made but little resistence, the whole army is reported arcrost. look out for news-

Saturday May 7” 1864

Clear & warm. A fight is going on at Chancellorsville no particulars are known great excitement. No more men can be sent to the Army of Potomac for the present. we have received orders to organize them into provisional Brigades arm them have proper officers put over them, issue arms and Shelter tents. have them go into camp near us and be at all times ready to take the field at a moments notice. they are to draw their stores from this post. I have been at the Commissary Papers to day

Sunday 8”

Clear and hot themometer 100 in the sun. yesterday it was 92° in the coldest room of this office. A big battle has taken place and we are reported as being successful 7000 of our men and 3000 rebels are wounded have been sent back to Alexandria the enemy are reported in full retreat and Grant in pursuit. This has been the most busy sunday I have seen in a long time. over three hundred men came in, in squads of from one to one hundred. the Rail Road is open to Rappahannock Station Station but no men are sent out. 3000000 (three million) rations were sent out to the front to-day

On May 8, 1864 a son, Oscar Abiel Potter, was born to Joseph and Susan (LaForge) Potter.

Monday May 9”

A.M. Clear & hot. P.M. cloudy & ditto. (ditto means hot). The Provisional Brigade were marched out and went into camp just below the R.R. Bridge half a mile from this place. they have Shelter Tents. I took an other squad to Alexandria to go to Ft Monroe An Vet. Res. Corps officer takes charge of them but Capt Crawford thinks a squad is never properly started unless I superintend getting them off, so I took a horse and went with them to the boat. The officer walks of course. A thunder storm is upon us, the second of the season. Wrote to O.L. Barney.

Tuesday May 10”

Clear and warm. every thing looks finely. Spring is certainly the finest season of the year. 150 officers reported here to-day orders have been issued to send all officers coming to Alexandria for transportation to the front up here to be assigned to the Provisional Brigade, some did not like to come and stayed in town but yesterday an order was issued that all officers found in Alexandria to night should be arrested and sent here under guard. this brought them out with a vengence, some of them have rueful faces enough, while other devil-may-care style, are all right

Wednesday May 11”

Warm & cloudy A.M. rained prety hard P.M.

J. Campbell & W. Melvin of the 9" Pa. Res. Corps went home to-day their regiment has went home to be mustered out. Brave Sedgewick & Hays are both lying in state over in the city Died nobly in the service of their country. Our troops are driving the rebs in all parts of Virginia. We have lost in Arkansas & Nor Car. but that is of small importance compared with the fight on Rappahannock befor this fight is over it will be the most bloody of modern times we have already 35000 placed hors du Combat.

Thursday 12”

Rained nearly all day bad for the army. Recd a letter from my sister, Josey is quite well again so that he can walk about some.

Friday 13”

Rained A.M. cloudy P.M. no rain since M.

I took 350 men to Alexandria and got them transportation on the Steamer Swan to go to Aquia creek. Glorious news from the Army of the Potomac. Campbell with his corps has captured a whole division and also Genl Johnson (not Joe) he was tickled with his success that he hardly knew how to word his dispatch Grant say "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.

Saturday. 14”

Rained a good part of the day. Good news still comes from the front. our arms are still triumphant. All prisoners which have been taken by the rebs and paroled have been declared exchanged by Secty. Stanton in retaliation for the same thing being done by the Rebs. The prisoners have been ordered from Camp Parole at Annapolis Md to this place to be armed and sent to the fron I like that. It will show them that if they disobey the Law of Nations it will not be with impunity.

Sunday May 15”

Rained more or less all day. I never saw as hard a shower as we had this afternoon the water actualy seemed to pile itself up. Still good news from the Army. Handcock does fight splendidly. he is capturing more guns than all the rest. The rebs are reported falling back on Lynchburg instead of Richmond. if that is so it looks like abandoning their Capital to us. Grants name will soon be a watchword for all deeds of bravery. Remember Grant is at present the cry of our brave boys.

Tuesday 17” 64

Rained some to-day and yesterday also. We have armed and equiped about a thousand men this week and sent them to Genl. Grant. every thing is going on well at the front no fighting just now. I believe Sigle will have fighting to do up in the Vally before long. I received a letter from John Clemence to day containing ten dollars. they are all well at Bethlehemn. He says Miss Martha Denniston is teaching school in the Old School House by the church.

Wednesday 18” 64

Fine day. cool enough to be pleasant. No news of importance from the Army of the Potomac.

Thursday 19

Clear & hot A.M. rained P.M. sent away 900 more men to day to reinforce the A. of P. I went to Washington bought a pair of shoes and shirt. I took in a couple of officers to the Surg Genl. who were sent here to go to the front but who were not fit for duty.

Friday 20”

Day cool. went in bathing this P.M. We sent nearly five hundred more fully equiped men to the Army of the Potomac to day. Sigle met a slight reverse in the Vally four days ago. lost about 600 men and three peices of Art‘ . Army fighting again Handcock seems to be the one called on for the most dashing fighting

Sunday 22” 64

Day hot. rained a little P.M. Yesterday I got a letter from Janey informing me of the safe arrial of a little stranger who bears to me the relationship of nephew. I feel almost as proud as if it was mine. I have proposed the name of Joseph for him. I took four hundred men down to Alexandria to be sent to Fort Monroe. Answered Janeys letter this P.M.


Head Quarters, Rendezvous of Distribution May 22" 1864

Dear Janey

Your welcome letter containing the welcome news of the new relationship I bore to a small portion of the human family was received yesterday, and I should have answered it at once but I had so much to do that I was kept buisy until 11 O.C. at night, and, when I got through I was so tired that I sought my bed at once. I have also been very buisy today getting a squad of four hundred men off to Fortress Monroe, and perhaps I might again have delayed answering yours, but I felt that the weight of the awful responsibility of giving a name to my little nephew, would not let me sleep another night without being disposed of, so here goes.

After mature and profound deliberation La Forge and me have come to the conclusion that, as the little stranger was ushered into the world in a time of great domestic commotion (civil war) therefore, he should have two names, and I, A.T. LaForge, by the authority in me Vested do hereby declair that one of said (christened) names, shall be Joseph, the choice of the other shall rest with whomsoever the parents shall see fit, provided, the person whom they may choose shall not select for the other name neither of the following, Abiel. Teple. this matter disposed of, I must ask you to do me the favor to express my contratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Potter on the hapy event. I assure you I could scarcely have experienced more pleasure if I had been married and been the hapy father instead of brother Joseph. still I do not envy him his hapiness but wish him a long life and many returns of the blissful moment he will first be called pa pa by the little cherubs,

This is a new bond to their always warm love and if it is possible to increase such affection as theirs it will be increased by this pledge of their mutual reciprocation. You must keep me informed of the health of the mother and as soon as she is able consistently to write have her write me a letter if it is ever so short so as to convince me that the whole of my place in her heart has not been usurped by the new affection of her mother love. I dont expect so much fuss about "poor me" now, but if you will love me a little more it will make up for what I loose by my nephew. My mind has been dwelling so much on this subject since I got your letter that I can hardly write about any thing els, but I must tear my self from the pleasing reflections it has given rise to and proceed to other matters.

Please say to Joseph that I could not find the kind of razor of which he spoke, but he must not buy any for I will get them and send them to him as soon as I can if he will use his old one a little longer.

I suppose father wrote to you of the death of his baby, did he not? the last time he wrote to me he was going to move on his farm and build. (The baby may have been Roselia; records of Samuel LaForge's third marriage, to Mary Wakefield, list two daughters. One was named Roselia and the second, Josephine, was born in 1865.)

I had to be up very early this morning to get a squad ready of four hundred men and march them down to Alexandria, go to the Quartermaster and get a steamer detailed to carry them down to Fort Monroe. they are very anxious to get men there now to reinforce Genl' Butler. I rather think he needs them for he has fell back from Fort Darling and is intrenching on the banks of the river below.

The news from Genl' Grant is unimportant. no decisive move has been made by either army since friday. they have been doing such hard fighting for the last two weeks that they are both very willing to lay still and recruit for a time. it will not be for long however as there is soon another decisive battle to be fought unless the rebels retreat.

The weather has been very uncertain for some time either raining or dreadful hot. the themometre has been up to one hundred and four and six, several times. flies, musketoes, knats, bugs, &c. are getting to thick to be agreeable.

Every night our woods are filled with Whip-poor-Wills. I believe I never heard one in Allegany the climate is too cold for them. did you ever hear one Janey? they always make me feel melancholy when I hear their mournful song.

You knew of soldiers pay being raised to $16 sixteen dollars a month did you not? that is what we are getting now. I probably will not get any pay until July now. if I do not I presume I shall have to send to you for some more.

Give my love to Mother and tell her not to over work herself just because she is Grand ma to another boy. And dont let Susan Kill the boy with petting him tell her I shall make a review of all her proceedings when I come home. give the dear girl lots of love also. What does Maty say to the little fellow. My love to your own dear self. Bijou


Monday 23 .

Hazy but not rainy. not so hot as the previous days.

A stage line has been established between here and the city running two trips a day. the charge is 50 cts each way which I think is very resonable no more paying $5.00 for a hack to bring a man out. he carried thirteen pasengers to day which is a good beginning.

Tuesday 24.

Clear & hot until 4 P.M. then cloudy. windy and rainy from 7 to 9 P.M. received a letter from Miss A. S. Porter. a very prety one to I feel quite disposed to love her.

Wednesday 25"

Clear & hot until 4 P.M. cloudy to 7. windy & rained till 9 P.M.

I went down with some Commissary Stores which were sent with 235 prisoners sent from this camp with the charge of desertion ganst them to Alex’ to be put in prison to wait trial by court martial.

Thursday 26” 64

Rained until M. then cleared off. I took a prisoner to the Alexandria Military prison to-day. he was a prety bad case. he attempted to escape from camp but in his haste stumbled over a log and broke his arm. E. L Richmond our old Sgt. Major came back to camp to-day prety badly wounded. it seems to be the fate of all who leave here and go to the front to get wounded very soon after.

Sunday May 29”

Day cool. weather since 26" very uncertain. rainy and sunshiny all at once.

I was out gathering strawberries to day. got all I could eat and brought a fiew select bunches to the Colonel. They have been ripe since the 20" on which day I saw the first of the season. An order was issued to have all detailed men examined the 25” I was examined accordingly and marked to be sent to the hospital so was a great many others, but we did not go as our object was to have all men now on duty who were fit for their regiments sent to them and keep the rest here. Last night I went up to Capt Marstons to give him some orders and just as I came out a man took me by the hand and said "how do you do" it was dark and at first I did not recognize him. but after looking a moment saw it was Jerome Remington he was here about a year ago. I had a good talk with him and to day had him examined and sent to the Hospital-

Monday May 30”

Clear but cool. We did not send the 400 men we had ready to go to the Army of Potomac as Genl Briggs sent us word the Q.M. Dept had used all the other boats to send other troops. Jerome R- was sent from the hospital to camp again to-day I had a good talk with him this evening. A marriage ceramony took place this evening after services on the Chapel. rather a novel sight in camp. Nither the Bride nor Groom responded so that I could or any body else. nor did the preacher pronounce them Man and wife. an omission which could be used by either party at their convenience-

May 31" 64

Day clear and warm I took a squad of one hundred & fifty men to Alex. to go to Ft Monroe. the steamer which had been detailed to take them was ordered on some other duty and they could not go. I found a steamship laying at Pire No. 1. was going to N.Y. as they would go in 12 miles of Old Point and the Q. M. concluded to send the men on her. I took the order, went up to the boat found the Capt and gave it to him. he took me into the cabin asked me to set down, brought out some wine asked me to drink. I declined, he said he loved me better for it. I had to come back over the hill as I could not get my firey horse under the R.R.Bridge.-

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