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[PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING ARE COPIED FROM THE ORIGINALS. EDITORIAL COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.]
In such fearfully hot and dry times a rain becomes an item of the utmost importance so I will mention the fact that we had a slight shower last Sunday P.M. several times since we have been threatened with a repatition of the pleasant phenomenon but each time have been disappointed. Continued behind our works quite inactive until wednesday 29th when we were removed by Genl. G. A. Wright and in the P.M. received orders for the route. Three hours before sundown we moved out of the works, our destination was Reams Station on the Weldon R.R. to make a demonstration in favor of Wilsons Cav, which had been on a raid and was being hard pressed by the Rebs, and also we were to make a more thorough destruction of the R.R. so that with the damage which Wilson had done the communications between Richmond and the South would be pretty well demolished. Did not get to Reams until 11 P.M. although it was not a long march, the utmost circumspection had to be observed in making our advance for an encounter with the enemy might be expected at any moment. as soon as we got into position at Reams a strong picket was thrown out, the rest of the night making coffee and sleeping on their arms. Early yesterday morning (June 30) two of our Divisions formed a line acrost and at right angles with the R.R. and threw up strong breastworks. the remaining division fell to work tearing up the the railroad ties, burning the latter and heating and bending the former &c. making utter destruction as far as possible for some miles. After dinner my servant Mr. Griffis my servant put up my tent and made me a table upon which I at once placed my Company Pay Rolls and fell to work finishing them which I had nearly accomplished when Major Day, our Mustering officer came arround and mustered the company for pay on the partial rolls, every military organization has to be "Mustered for pay" on the first day of every alternate month that is they are formed in line and all men whose nomes are on the rolls has to be accounted for. that is whether they are present or absent, if absent how, and where all who have died since last muster must be named &c. Payments are not received as soon as the mustering is over. the rolls are sent to Washington and given to the Paymaster of the respective Brigades, who are not ordered to pay the army sometimes for four months. Directly after, being mustered, orders came to "pack up" and "fall in" and the corps was marched out of the works which had been erected and started back towards its position of yestermorn, start made about 5 P.M. we have only come about four miles on the back track and yet it has taken us all of five hours to march that distance the delay was caused by the wagon train had one or two bad mud holes to go through which is always a matter of no little time. Camped on the side of a bare sunny hill, made coffee and threw ourselves on the ground, went to sleep and did not stir until late this morning. Today has been an extremely hot one, the bright sand on which the Brigade is camped threw the suns rays back into our ...i...ing in a dreadfully painful manner and to add to the rest of the suffering very little water could be obtained. I went to a well which had been dip'ed nearly dry and as often as a bucketful of water could be obtained I would beg a swallow, so after awile I succeeded in obtaining enough to slack my thirst. I could not finish my rolls in the hot sand, so I took them and climbing into an old house which was occupied by a lot of broken furniture and a brood of very young chickens. they were motherless and without a doubt it was owing to the fact that their ma was at that moment being digested the strong stomach of some soldier. the extreme youth of the chickens was all that saved them from the same fate. I spread my rolls on a box and seating myself on an other, soon finished them (not the boxes but the rolls) finding only one mistake which was the adjutants and not mine. That job done I proceeded to pull off my garments and examine them for certain little animals which I found had begun to make their unwelcome appearance and although they were very common in the army- not a man probably being without them - still I treated them - crushed heads as fast as I found them. This evening looks like rain again hope it will.
DIARY Saturday 2nd
Back in our old works of the 18" alt. again. Last night, after dark the corps was formed in line, the 3 Divs advanced 1/2 a mile, then stacked arms and rolling themselves - those that had them - in their blankets went to sleep, at 5 A.M. to day fell in line again and marched to our present posish where we are rigging ourselves up in good style. I discoverd a curiosity on our return in the shape of an apple orchard in the midst of a pine forrest, The apple trees looked very sickly and as if they would soon succomb to their more thrifty neighbors, which were already far overtopping them and depriving them of all "their sun". I also saw some noble oaks, the branches of a single tree covering a space of over 100 feet in diameter, If I had a home up North how I should like to have a fiew of those noble trees in my lawn, under which I and my family might enjoy the beautiful sunsets. I was down to the swamp to wash, and on the way lost my gold pen & case, as hundreds of soldiers were continually passing over the same path I expected I should never see it again. I took a bath after which I wet my shirt thoroughly and put it on, this I consider a grand idea this hot weather as one feels much cooler, the thermometer is 110° in the shade. On my way back I found my pen where it had been step'ed over by hundreds of men since I droped it. "better be borne luck than rich". I shall have to postpone my letter to sister to night as it is too dark to write, and candles are luxuries which we do not at present possess and could not use them in the wind which now sucks thro' our tent any way.
for a wonder in campaign life I write this letter in nearly the same place I did the one a week ago to you. Not that we have not moved in the meen time for we have as you will see by my memorandum if you can read it but the ....e of being at the end of the week near where you were at the beginning is accepted as a wonder by Grants soldiers. I have not heard from you yet and it seems so strange you are usually prompt to answer and yet to none of the three letters I have sent you from here have I received an answer.
..he ....th .... if I do not get an answer to this I willsend another if I live to the end of the week. I hope that one of ..... .............you so that you cannot write if he is such a fine fellow I should think you would want to write and tell me all about him so that I could join my joy to yours ......................... for a wonder I dreamed of you last night ........ I found you away from home somewhere and that I ....ly had an opertunaty to speak to you. I saw the baby but forget how he looked. You motioned for me to come and ......... where you were and appeared to have something to tell me and for some reason I could not come. shortly afterwards I was sent for .................... and I woke up. a heavy cannonade was going on ................ the noise of which probably was my recall to the ...y. Did you get the letter in which a requested you to send me a bowl(?) by ...... send a light one, do it up just as you would a ....... and it will come through in ....... all right.
.................. in the paper how hot it is. but no one ....
............ the heat is 110 ................. still we are a jolly set and all are wishing for rain and making the best of life as it is. if you have any news from father write it for I have not heard from him since the middle of May (several lines indecipherable) blackberries are getting ripe ......... we shall soon luxurate I suppose. I will close by sending love to all. I dare not be particular as to .......................... you will get the letter.
Your loving brother
|Mrs. Joseph Potter||A. T. La Forge|
|Andover||Address - 1" Lieut. "I" Co. 106" N.Y. Vols.|
|Allegany Co.||1" Brig. 3" Div." 6" A. C.|
You need not put the Washington on for they may stop there.
This has been the most quiet and orderly national birth day I ever spent, there has been no cannonading along the lines in hearing of this place, the only difference from the ordinary routine was the playing of all the bands at sunrise, Indeed I quite lost sight of the fact that it was the Fourth until I heard someone about sun-down remark "what a quiet Fourth". I at once determined on a celebreation so took my revolver and went out side the works and fired two shots then came back feeling fully satisfied that I had did my duty. I feel in excellent spirits for last night I received a letter from my sister the first in more than a "good while" Our people are in pretty good health, Joseph being better than when she last wrote me; I was amused at her question asking if my pay was any higher than when I was a private, she also wants to know how it is that I am in command of a company, is there no Capts. &c. all of which I must answer in my next. Both yesterday & to-day have been comfortably cool, a slight sprinkle of rain - I got my Co-Descriptive Book to-day and have been busy making up accts. sending descriptive Lists to my men who are absent sick and wounded, and in fact discharging the duties of which I feel so proud.
DIARY Tuesday 5"
Cool & pleasant. my occupation same as yesterday, I was detailed this evening to go on duty to-morrow as officer of the pickets. At five A.M. that will be my first duty of the kind, as an officer.
DIARY Wednesday 6th
Orders sent arround at four A.M. to "pack up and be ready to move at a moments notice" - Our (3" Div.) part of the 6" Corps is to be sent to Western Va. to meet the rebs who are advancing in a strong column down the Shenendoah Vally under Genl. Enell (according to Bruce Catton's book "The Civil War" page 534 the southern general was Jubal Early), who threatens to cut off the retreat of Genl Hunter, the latter Genl, was defeated in front of Lynchburgh and is now retreating down the Kanewa (Kanawha) Vally before a victorious foe. The day has been very sultry and the march to City Point a very trying one but the men feel so rejoiced that they are going to exchange the arid sands and pine forrests of Lower Virginia, for the mountain breezes and fertile fields of the Blue Ridge & Shenendoah Vally, that the swealtering heat and suffocating dust are endured without a murmer. During our march today, at times the dust flew so thick that for 10 & 15 minutes at a time we could not see 20 feet from our selves, this added to the heat was dreadful. However we are now on transports, steaming down the James River and feeling almost as good as though on our way home. Most of this Div, for months did duty in W. Va. and the place was found so agreeable that they are rejoiced at their return to it.
DIARY Friday 8.
Reached Baltimore at 5 P.M. yesterday, not allowed to land but had to wait for Genl. Rickets who was on a slower boat, waited until mid-night when we were ordered ashore by Genl. Lew. Wallace who commands this Department; cars were ready upon which we at once embarked for Frederick city Md. which we reached at 10 A.M. today, Leaving the cars we marched through the town to the South Mountain (west) side, the people received us with joy giving water and provisions freely; bivouacked in the fields, took dinner mostly on soft bread, the first in a long time. About 2 OC we learned that a column of the enemy were threatening Monocacy Bridge an Iron structure of great value about three miles east of the town, back through the town we went, and closed in mass on a hill where we could overlook the city and plain. About 4 OC a cloud of dust on the side of South Mountain indicated the approach of the enemy on the Sheapardstown road; When the cloud of dust (for we could see no enemy) got within 1 1/2 mile of the city the cannon on that side opened with shell, apparently with good effect for we could see them burst just over the road, we soon fell in and marched to that side of town again, before we got there the rebs concluded to retire up the mountain again, so we were not needed. I therefore take advantage of our Idleness to write up my memorandum, the citizens seem to vie with each other as to who shall show us the most kindness, a very strong contrast between them and the people of Eastern Va.
DIARY Saturday 9"
After dark last night we again marched through the town to the East but did not stop, for a column of the enemy were already between us and the Monocacy R.R. bridge; the direct march to the bridge would have been but 3 miles, but owing to the presence of the enemy we were unable to choose our road so we had to cross the river away above here and follow down the east bank to this place, there was no road intended for wagons so our progress over the steep hills and through the woods and fields making our progress necessarily slow, in fact the way was bad enough to be a disgrace to Allegany Co. the route we came was fully eight miles and over such places, we got into posish on the bank of the Monocacy at midnight, I threw my self on the ground so completely tired out that I slept without covering - thro' a hard rain. woke up completely soked, wonder that no bad effect should come of it, I went to a brook near camp and took a good bath the first in a long time; then had breakfast. We larn that a small party of Rebs marched into Frederick last night meeting no resistence, if I was in the habit of swearing I should call that a ____ disgrace; I can hear firing in the direction of Frederick now, probably they are engaging our outposts; an aid just rode up and ordered a picket of one hundred & fifty men from the 106", I am to go on as officer of the picket: The order is countermanded I am not to go; The country through here is splended, in fact far the finest farming country I have seen since our passage through Pa on my last trip to the North. The wheat crop which has been just gathered seems to be a good one. (The firing on the Line has just ceased) How strange it seemed yesterday to see our soldiers in Line of battle and our batteries engaged, while arround us in every direction farmers and farm maids were peacefully although rather hurriedly gathering their crops and performing other rural duties: The rain of last night was much needed- Some reffugee negros are going by, also several loyal families- many of the ladies well dressed- are seeking protection behind us as they dare not stay in their homes so long as the Rebs have possission; They account for their good clothes by saying that so long as they had to leave some to fall into the hands of the enemy, they might as well be the poorest, so they carry their best on their backs and that is probably all the worldly goods that this days work will leave them.
DIARY Sunday July 10th
I will commence my memorandum where it was suddenly terminated yesterday by an order from Brigade Head Quarters again ordering me to take out and establish a picket line, Capt Parker of Company "F" was the senior officer on picket, but he kept himself in a safe place leaving everything that required exposure to me. Our batteries had already been engaged about half an hour with some force in our front how large we did not know, I crossed the river with my pickets and at once found that I should have to fight for a posish, so I moved my men to a knoll where we slightly infiladed the reb- pickets & giving them a fiew shots we gained a starting point, I then deployed my men as fast as possible under fire, conducting them on the run through a corn field where our flank was constantly reciving the reb-fire, I would leave a man at every two rods, who would at once commence returning the fire, we ran in a stooping posture so as to gain all the concealment possible from the corn which was 4 1/2 feet high. Everything progressed favorably until about noon, when with my glass I could see a column of the enemy crossing the river 2 miles below us, this heavy force I saw would strike our line of battle on the flank and rear, still I felt confident, some of the men who came out in the morning with me were dead, others wounded, but we held our first position. The force which crossed the river soon came up and engaged our troops in such a manner that they came right behind my line on the left. I then bowed the left in, and finally had to recross the river to avoid capture, this was done by fording as our troops had burned the bridge as a measure of safety. my men were careful to keep their ammunition dry. A Reb- Lt. Col. cap'd at this time said that we had until an hour before been engaged with the Cav- alone, but now the whole of Ewells Army 30000 strong had came up. said he "as near as I can find, you have but 6000 men" (wich was the fact) "and unless you dig out of here you will rue it" An hour after this they charged our line and were finely repulsed, and held back for some time, then they again charged with a double line of battle against our one, and with a line so long that it bowed arround both our flanks, even then our boys held them nobly for a long time, but mortal courage could not stand against such odds, they they gave way slowly at first, then rapidly, and finally ran; the retreat soon became a general route, I rallied a fiew of the pickets and held our line for a fiew minutes, but they melted so fast that they could not be forced to remain in such a position. I finally gave the order for the picket to fall back, and I took good care to be the last from the line, when I started I ran as fast as possible thus zigzaging for I found myself a mark for more of the enemies sharp shooters than was at all comfortable; I had a brook to cross, several wounded men & dead also lay in it, their cries were piteous but no halt- I got acrost the R.R. and here found some of our union troops 8, or 10. I stoped to breathe & we deterined to bother the Johnnies a little, and commenced firing at those who were fording the river & crossing the iron R.R. Bridge, one of the men called my attention to a reb 300 yards distant who was running toward the river to cross, bringing up his gun he fired, the man went down; the "shot" at once commenced expressing the most extravagant joy at the same time reloading, by this time some of the enemy were in 30 feet of us. I had just aimed my revolver at the foremost when looking back I sawe a lot of them in our rear, I thought my weapon might do better servise fighting through them, we all started on the retreat, going to the right of the enemy who were deploying to capture us, the bullets flew like hail stones, the boys fell all arround me, I shall never forget the short- Oh! Ah! Dear Me! and such like exclamations which was all that gave us to understand that one of our number was wounded. I overtook Genl. Wallaces retreating column on the Baltimore Pike- the officers were making every effort to bring some order out of the chaos & even while rapidly retreating the old veterans formed in column so as to resist any further demonstration the enemy could make on through New Market we came, No halt at dark for making coffee, but those that had hard tack divided with their comnrades & they ate as they walked At 2 OC this morning a rest of an hour was ordered; but the men were so fatigued that they could go no farther so they were allowed to lay until day light when the retreat was resumed. What misery the men have endured to-day, feet sore as boils, tired, hungry, but above all defeated- still no murmering. We have finally reched Ellicotts Mills 36 miles from the scene of action, and are now bivouacked in a beautiful wood for a rest & I think probably to stay all night.
My dear sister,
Do not think by the date of my letter that I shall send it to day, for I shall not have a chance for a week perhaps, when I do I will add more & forward it. My object in writing to night is the romance of the fourth, and also to answer the questions propounded in your last, least I might forget them, as I have to burn your letter as fast as received for want of transportation for them. 1st I am in com'd of the co because the capt. was captured on May 6' at the battle of the Wilderness, the 1" Lt. went home on a furlough last March and forgot to return, the 2" Lt. was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor June 1" so I am not only in com'd but also the only officer in the co. My Co propperly is "F" being however that there was already two officers preasent with that co- I was placed in command of co "I"- My pay is now $108 rather higher than before you see. out of this I must buy my provisions clothing and arms- one dollar a day pays for grub in the field, in camp it would be more as we could get more to buy. So I have a little more than $2,50 per day for other purposes. Saturday July 9"- According to promise I finish my letter to you, but in a far different place from what I had anticipated. We are now about 4 miles from Frederick Md and I am sitting on the bank of the Monocacy River. And delighted is every man in the command to be able to breathe the pure mountain air of these regions again, The Loyal Citizens of F- were glad to see us come marching into town, they thought that the very name of the Veterans of the Army of Potomac was sufficient to protect them. what must have been their feelings last night when to save ourselves from capture we had to abandon the city, which was soon occupied by the enemy, I grieve at their disappointment. I will not finish this letter until night as we are likely to have a brush with rebs just now and I shall want you to know the result. Monday July 11th 64- Ellicotts Mills, 10 miles from Baltimore. Dear friends by the blessing of God I am spared to finish this letter. Immediately after closing this Saturday I was detailed to go on duty as officer of the picket, this was 9 A.M. the enemy attacked at that hour & from that time until nearly sundown we were ingaged in in a battle as obstinately fought as any of the war; we however were pitted against such fearful odds that the defeat which I sorrowfully chronicle can be considered no disgrace to our brave Division By reading my mem's- which I enclose- you will get a faint idea of the fearful nature of the struggle; Amid such dreadful carnage it seems almost impossible that any person could escape unharmed as I did, & for which I feel truly thankful- The fertile fields of the Monocacy must have been satiated with human gore, and her waters was discoloured with the life blood of many heroes who will know no other grave than that afforded by her cool wave which is to-day gently caressing their marble brows.
Prisoners report the Rebs 30,000 which would make them over five to our one, still we held them back for eight long hours in spite of all they could do, this I consider a tribute to the bravery of the Div which may well make them feel proud. I cannot describe my heart-sickness when after such a resistence we had to give way, and the last rays of the setting sun saw our routed & retreating army flying acrost the Maryland Hills. I must abruptly close on account of duty. Much love to all
DIARY Monday 18th
Halt of the 6" Army Corps in Snickers Gap Shenandoah Mts of this halt I take advantage and shall write up my neglected memoranadum. also if I have time write to sister. I wrote a letter to Miss Porter at Baltimore and have it in my pocket yet, not having had a chance to mail it. On Sunday- 10" Our brave but defeated little army under Genl Wallace reached Ellicotts Mills- 10 miles west of Balto- were marched into a beautiful grove near the town & camped, My servant who had been behind & was I feared captured came up with my provisions & blankets the arrival of the three gave me much comfort both mentally & physically. Remained all night luxuriously sleeping among the thick leaves & obtaining in large doses the much needed rest, after two days of excessive fatigue.
On Monday 11" Geo. Powell- Lt of "K"- and I went down to the village without our shoulder straps- we never wear them on a campaign- and had a deal of attempting to make the liquor venders believe we were officers. they were prohibited from selling to privates, and insisted on classing us among that order, probably having never seen officers just from the battlefield before- we were looking rather rough. We went into a place for a glass of ale- t'was "no go" "we were not officers, could not sell them" &c. were our only replies, while we were parleying an officer in full uniform came in with whom I had been an picket at Monocacy. I laughingly told him my difficulty, He soon set matters right by explaining to "mine host" that it was not the style of the officers of the Army of the Potomac to put on many airs or extras, & most of them dressed the same as privates; After this I got what I wanted. I also got some lime water to dress my face which had been badly burned by a fellow spattering red-hot greese upon it- accidentally of course- the day before. Three hours before sundown broak camp and started for Baltimore- the Q. M. stores in town could not be saved, there was danger of their falling into the hands of the enemy so they were destributed gratuitously to the men. Proceeded to Balto- by rail arrived after dark and bivouacked near the upper Balto- & O- R.R. depot, remained there all night and all
Tue- 12". Lt Powell and I went into town and got some Ice cream & cake.
Wed- 13" Moved arround to the North side of the city & camped in a beautiful situation in Druid Hill Park, where we luckely found plenty of boards to put our selves up in good shape. Capt Robertson & I went through the park on an exploration trip, pitching into all sorts of out of the way places discovering all that was admirable and lamenting that war should make it necessary to desecrate such holy quiet by the clash of arms. In the afternoon the blanks came from the Ordnance Office and I at once went to work making out my ordinence report, this has to be done four times a year, when a full account has to be given of all arms and accoutrements, and Ordnance Stores that have been in our possission since last return, every officer in the service has to make this return. This afternoon communication between here and Washington by a body of Rebel Cav. which has passed on towards Annapolis.
Thursday 14" At M. took cars for Washington as communication had been opened again & the RR repaired, the enemy did but little damage, merely burning a fiew cars & cutting down some telegraph poles tearing up a fiew rails &c. arrived at Washington just before sundown desembarked from the cars, took supper at the Soldiers Rest, camped near there. Next morning "Thurs 15" breakfasted at Soldiers Rest then marched to Georgetown by way of Pennsylvania Av. the citizens received our scarred veterans with demonstrations of joy. I saw many of my old acquaintances in the city and had many gay salutes from all sides, the Div gave three cheers for Lincoln as we passed the White House, bivouacked near Tennally town until 4 P.M. then marched about six miles further towards Poolsville, then stoped for the night in a field of tall timothy, what luxury to streatch out on that soft bed of grass.
Saturday 16" Very hot. still we made a long hard march, fording the Potomac near Edwards Ferry, the men were allowed to take off their clothes and carry them on their heads while fording, the water came up to their breasts, and was 1/4 of a mile wide, It was decidedly a strange spectacle to see 5000 men with their lower person naked & the upper clothed marching down the sloping bank on one side and wading across in a long line four abrest emerging on the other side, then marching in that garb 1/4 a mile and fording a branch of the river before dressing, some young ladies came from the farm-houses arround to watch the troops cross, but when they saw the primative garb which was to be worn during the operation they concluded to retire, out of sight of us at least. It was dark before the whole Div was across, still the route for Leesburg, seven miles distant, was taken up. Three miles through the heat and dust we went, and at rapid marching to this occasioned many men who were footsore and thuroughly exhausted to fall, and finally convinced the General that he would have but fiew men with him if he continued on so a "Halt for the night" was commanded; I was very much fatigued, my servant was not up either with my blanket overcoat or provision, so I put my rubber arround me and threw myself on the ground already wet with dew, and was soon fast asleep, my repose was of short duration however for I awoke with the cold and slept but little thereafter.
Sunday 17" On towards Snickers Gap, passing through Leesburg, a pretty little city nestling cosily among the hills of London Co, something like Elmira N.Y. on a much smaller scale; Stoped near the town for dinner, then marched some three miles farther and joined the rest of the 6" corps which had arrived on the ground by another route the day berore. The Chaplain of one of the regiments preached a sermon in the grove where the Brigade was bivouacked, it was decidedly impressive, to see the weather bronzed veterans of many a hard campaign gathered arround beneath the royal old oaks listening to the words of devotion put up by the man of God, over the whole of them the Ruddy glare of the camp fires was playing, and lighting up faces which showed no less interest in the words there spoken than in the words which had called them forth to do battle for their country.
Monday 18" The whole corps took the road for the mountains, we have many evidences of the hastey manner in which the Rebs fled along this road, wagons burned to prevent their falling into our hand were scattered all along the route, dead mules and horses, swollen by the heat and looking horrible interrupted us every little way, the smell too was awful, our cavalry pressed them closely yesterday, We arrived at this place (Snickers Gap) about 11 A.M. and as I before said I take advantage of our halt to write up my mems. The Rebs are on the other side of the Mountain and a Div. of Hunters 8" Corps are close upon them.
DIARY Tuesday 19"
On picket East side of the Shenandoah; Crossed the Blue Ridge yesterday afternoon, when coming down the west side of the mountain we could see a Div of the 19" Corps forcing a crossing at Snickers Ford, they were sharply engaged; our corps marched to a posish where we had a splendid view of the engagement being about three hundred feet above an 1/2 mile in rear of the combatants; One Div of the 19" got acrost but were driven by a splendid charge of the rebs back into the river again, when the enemy made that charge battery after battery opened upon them, some of the shells bursting right in their ranks, still they kept on nobly, and finally Drove the 19 from a good posish behind a stone wall, and acrost the river; Those troops do not fight like the soldiers of the Grand Army. I shuld like to have seen those rebs attempt to drive a Div of the A of P. from that stone wall, The Div just at dark received orders to sleep on their arms, at the same time a regiment of one hundred days men, was being marched through a ravine in our rear to do picket duty below us on the river when suddenly a reb battery 1 1/2 miles off commenced throwing shells at random in our direction, several of these, all at once fell into the 100 days men doing considerable execution, and scattering them like chaff, fortunately the enemy were not aware of the service their battery was doing & it soon ceased firing altogather, No 100 days regt came to time for picket duty however, so the 87 P.V. and 106" N.Y. were detailed for that duty and a disagreeable time we had getting on post, wading streams & climbing fences forcing our way through the underbrush &c. in the dark, however we are very comfortable just now, I slept very nicely on the porch of a mountain cabin last night, feel none the worse for it now.
I do not know when I shall have an opertunaty to send this letter to you, but as one may occur when leaste expected, I will have it ready. The life of a soldier is "constant change" if the saying "there is no rest for the wiked" applies only to sinners, then all this Grand Army must have a large account to settle; The order to "Forward" has just been given & I can write no more now
Bank of the Shenandoah. July 18". I will continue my epistle, from yesterdays interruption; In pursuance of the order which caused such an abrupt pause in my letter, we marched through the Gap, from the summit of which I obtained such a lovely view, such as one is allowed only once in a lifetime, during a halt on the top of the mountain, I ran off and clambering up a cliff succeeded in obtaining a m... eligant position, for from this summitt of the Blue Ridge could be seen the whole of the London Vally which we had just left, and much of the world renowned Shenandoah Vally, In looking across the first, I could trace far back toward Washington the road pursuied by the army in chasing the flying Johnnies, to the S.E. the view was interrupted by the Hights of Mannassas; however that part of the country I knew tolorably well, the perticular charm lay in the Vally into which we were marching, far off across the beautifully undulating plain could be seen the dim outlines of the Alleghanies, these lay to the N.W. to the North the vision was abruptly terminated by the frowning fortified summits of Maryland Hights, then looking to the S. I could follow the Vally far past Winchester, until its extension in that direction seemed to be suddenly stopped by a hill which had evidently been droped in there by mistake. That hill is what was once Stonewall Jacksons stronghold and was considered the key to the upper Vally. Inside of these boundaries, all was lovlyness; cities, hamlets & cottages nestled cosily among the green hills, waving woods and meandering strems; to use ones eyes alone, all seemed peace and quiet, but the organs of hearing told another tale, for there came rolling back on the breeze, the boom of artillery & sharp crack of rifles, already the advance guard of the army which was slowly winding its way down the mountain, had met a defiant foe who felt disposed to dispute its farther progress. One more look at the beautiful and historical plain from which it is our proud purpose to drive foe, and I sprang down the cliff & hastended to join my company which had passed on quite a distance. I refer you to my memoranadum for the description of the fight & the part which we took in it. Last evening when we came here to do picket duty in the place of the 100 day Regt which ran away, we accidentally ran upon a lot of bee-hives which had been hidden by their owner in the woods, the said owner and ourselves entered into an arraingement whereby five of the hives of honey pass into our hands on condition that we allow no more to be taken while we are here, We had a splendid honey supper,- Honey & hard-tack- on the strength of this dicovery, there was enough in the five hives for both of the regt on duty here. when some other regt comes out to relieve us, old secesh will loose more of his honey I presume. We are on picket on the extreme right of the army on the South bank of the river, expect to move to night. Love to all
DIARY Tuesday, July 19", 64
Our regiment with the 87 P.V. were on picket duty on the mountain roads to the right of Snickers Gap. the duty is very pleasant. there is a man lives here who has some 20 hives of honey, he gave us 5 hives last night on condition that we would put a guard over them and prevent any more being taken which we did we had all the honey we wanted. We officers also took supper and breakfast with the man, we had hoe cake, butter, rye coffee and ham. there has been considerable firing along the river to-day but from the clouds of dust rrising along the roads back I should judge the main body of the enemy were falling back.
DIARY Tennally Town D.C, Saturday July 23" 64
Last Tuesday night we were relieved from picket & marched back to the hill where we witnessed the fight of the 19 Army Corps the night before and bivouacked for the night. Wednesday July 20th About M. got orders for the route, were soon packed up and started. We crossed the Shanandoah at Snickers Ford by wading it it was about two feet deep, then started on the pike for Berryville. After going a mile a heavy thunder storm came up which gave us a most thorough wetting. we marched a mile in the rain then turned into the woods and waited for it to stop which it did in about an hour. We still staid however, there was a lot of hogs in the woods and the boys went to shooting them and we soon had fresh pork enough for two days. At eight news was received that a heavy column of the enemy were approaching Washington, that those in our front had only fell back in order to draw us farther from that city, that nearly all those who had been before us two days before had went up the vally and recrossed the Blue Ridge at Ashbys Gap and were also marching for our city. and had the inside track. the danger was eminent. Our orders were that we should start for Washington and march night and day till we got there, what rrations we had must last us the whole distance. We started on the return at 10 P.M. recrossed the Shanandoah and up through Snickers Gop. we marched all night- it was bright moon-light, we would go about two hours then rest half an hour, we got to the place we started from the twesday before about 8 A.M. Thursday 21" here we halted for breakfast then started on towards Leesburg. we passed through that city and went into camp on the East side of Goose Creek four miles East of the town at 2 P.M. having marched over 30 miles since starting the night before. This with the men with prety heavy loads and over the rough roads of the mountain, fording the Shanandoah twice, marching at night with a wagon train five miles long by our side to bother us, was accomplishing a miricle, this forced march gave us the inside track of the rebs so that we could be more leasurely in our movements here-after. The Corps rested here until 4 O.C. A.M. Friday 22" The 3" Division to which the 106" belongs, was detailed to guard the wagon train this day. we started at four OC. our Div had one hundred wagons to guard making ten for each company. I had ten, my men put their knapsacks and haversacks on the wagons and marched prety easy to-day. I left the train once to go to a house and get a drink when I was coming back I ran on a Black berry patch the like of which I never saw, they were large as plumbs, thick as Cran Berries and sweet as sugar. I could have picked a bushel in half an hour, of course it did not take long to fill myself which I did to repletion then joined the train. ever since we have been up here we have had all the berries we could eat there is plenty of them in all directions. my boys caught five hens to make a soup of at night we camped this night ten miles west of Chain Cridge. the boys have got a lot of cows and horses on the march which they bring to the city to sell. some of them make a pile that way. the boys made their chicken soup then we went into camp getting a lot of rye straw to lay on. During the night I had a heavy chill after that a hot fever so that this morning when I got up I could hardly stand. I could not eat which is a prety sure sign of sickness in me. When the regt fell in and started for this place I staggered with weakness it was evident I could not march. Capt Robinson had a pass to ride in the Ambulance he gave it to me and I got into one and rode to the Chain Bridge we came through one or two little burgs the names of which I did not learn. Some of the country we passed through was very fine but I did not take much interest in it. About a mile from the Bridge we came to a regiment of Veteran Reserves on duty, how mighty nice they looked with their straps all polished up and arms so bright and such enviable quarters. I almost wished I was in their places. After we crossed the Bridge (Chain Bridge) they started the ambulances down to Washington. I asked where we were going. They said to the hospital so I jumped out as I could not see going to Hospital. we came up here to camp- I joined the Corps at the bridge- Our orders are to have inspection to morrow, to send in for all the clothing, arms and ammunition we want and to prepare our selves for active duty in the field, I wonder what they call the duty we have been on. The opinion appears to be that we are to go to Petersburg next week. Our Pay Rolls were brought up and the Paymasters say if we will have the Rolls signed they will pay us to-morrow morning. The Rolls will be signed I have learned that Sergts Campbell and Hawley whom I thought captured are up at Frederick City. The Orderly Sergt however is captured and one private.
DIARY Near Georgetown. Sunday July 24"
The regiment was paid off to-day. Major Martin this P.M. said he could not pay me owing to some informality of the rolls. He showed me what it was but I could not see why he should not pay. I made up my mind if we stay here to-morrow I will take my retained roll down to the Pay Master Genl' and ask him why I cannot be paid. I received a letter from my sister to-day all are well. Some of the boys have got considerable whiskey down them and are having a lively time of it. Geo Powell and I took a walk into the edge of Georgetown one and 1/2 miles from here. came back prety tired I am feeling much better than I did yesterday.
DIARY Monday July 25"
Last night a heavy wind and rain came up and blew our tent down upon us. Lt. Powell & I sleep together. Our servants got up and fixed them and laid down but the tents were down nearly as quick as they and so it kept them going. We succeeded in passing a rather uncomfortable night. We got up gretty early and about 8 O.C. although still raining went down town. The first thing was to go to a bath House and take a good cleaning then I went to P.M. Genl. and told him why Maj Martin had refused to pay me. He said there was no reason why I should not be paid, and endorced to that effect on the Pay Roll which I gave him. I went to Martins office with it but found he was out to our Division paying. I saw Sergt Beaugureau and Hauser from camp we went to Mitchells and had a gay dinner then I had a game of billiards with B. we parted and I went to the A.G. office and put my paper in for a discharge from the 85" M.Y.Vols. afterwards came back to camp. Maj. Martin had finished paying and gone back to the city so I did not get my $80oo dollars. [Note: the last two digits of "$80oo" should be superscript.]
DIARY Hyattstown Md. July 27th 64.
On the night of the 25th we got marching orders again to march early, the 26th we packed up ready but did not move til noon marched up the Frederick Pike to a mile west of Rockville. here we bivouacked for the night in a little wood. This morning were up and started at 4 AM. Passed through Locksburgh about 11 AM, made a short rest and then came on to this place which is about eleven miles from Fredricks Burgh and we will stay here all night. The wheat is harvest and is in the barns the hay cut and stacked. Green Corn plenty. Blackberries still abundent every thing bears the appearance of peace & plenty, but what means the appearences of all these camp fires a foe to conquer and driven Back
DIARY Three miles west of Harpers Ferry. July 29" 64
Marched up from Hyattstown through Urbana and bivouacked on the old Monocacy battle field where we arrived where we arrived about M. the 28" We went to looking for the body of Capt Hooker the 1" N.Y. Cav. had dug trenches and burned our dead permiscuously in heaps. we knew where the body was left however and after considerable digging found his body. the only thing by which he could be recognised was his clothes and the wound through the head. his body was to be put in a rough coffin and again interred and word sent to his friends where to find him. we had to leave two men to perform the duty as we were ordered away before we could finish it. The corps proceeded to Jeffersonville about eight miles from Frederick. we forded the river in the same place I had to with the picket the day of the fight and making a circut arround Frederick started for the mountains which we had to cross before getting to our destination. it was dark before we got to them and the toil of marching over the mountain roads at night was immense more than half the men gave out and stoped by the side of the road at length we reached the top and the men gave a cheer, as far below them on the plain in front was seen the camp fires of the Division which had crossed before us. we knew we should stop near them hence the joy of the boys to see their journeys end. we got down the mount and camped about 11 P.M. very tired. This morning (29") we marched on up by the way of Petersville, Berlin, Sandy hook and Harpers Ferry: the week has been excessively hot and caused the men much suffering. no doubt as many as ten men have fell from sun stroke each day in this Brigade. We are now lying in line of battle and dispositions have been made as though we were to be attacked. the rebs are reported eight miles from here. Maryland Hights are near enough to us to send shells from their 100 pounders over us. I dont see how it would be possible for any force to capture that place with its present fortifications. it must be imnpregnable. strong works on the very top of a rugged mountain with heavy ordnance, lots of water and food and a good garrison they could defy the rebel army I should like to have the chance to fight behind those works. As I have a chance I will write to my sister to night. Although I dont know when I shall have a chance to send it.
Through constant imployment I have been prevented from writing to you on the usual day and it is while again on the march looking for the enemy that I take this opertunaty. You will see by my memorandum that our programme is constantly changing. we are a flying army certainly. this is the third start we have made in this direction. twice we have fell back to the capital only to start again. I hope we shall not have to go back so fast this time. I saw the gentleman of whom I borrowed that money while I was in Washington. he said he sent you the order I gave him on the "13" if you have no got it please tell Joseph to express the $75oo [Note: the last two digits of "$75oo" should be superscript.]seventy five dollars prepaid to Sergt A. Beaugureau. "Chief Clerk" Rendezvous of Distribution Va and write me as soon .........sending me the Express (reverse of letter is very faint and only a few excerpts can be read) .......... the clothes I forgot ............ your letter of the 19" while on the march. I am glad you are so much ..... with the baby for as long as you .....................
.......................... to see if there was any .............. telegraph before I come home so you can have a lot of them made up for me. Tell Miss Martha the Rebs are not so easy Killed they die hard, and not .... to work hard to get the advantage of .......... will do it after a while. ............ to Janey & Perry and tell the ..... I'd like to capture and send a contraband up to them to help at the farm. Give my love to the Children also and all our friends. I have not got a letter from father since I came to the regt. I must schold him. Supper is ready so good by for the present. Bijou
Dear sis. as I have some time before the mail goes out I wiall write you some more. I have just got a letter from father dated June 22" it has been laying at Redz' of Distribution for some time which caused the delay. They were all well at that time. he is very bitter against John. C. thinks he is telling me lies about him, which is reason I dont write. I have sent a letter to him disabusing his mind of any such idea. we are taking it cool just now, resting after our fatigue. the only firing I hear is some of the boys shooting pigs. Fresh meat will not be much of a luxory to me when I get home for we get it nearly every day here. pies will be however. Love to all.
A.T. La Forge
DIARY Camp near Harper Ferry July 30" 64
We have had no orders to march yet but probably shall move to-day. We have just received our mail. I got a letter from father one from John Clemence $10.oo one from W.W. Hibbard one from O.L. Barney. all of which are well it was very warm this morning but a fine breeze has sprung up now and cooled the air.
DIARY Hd. Qrs."I" Co. 106th N.Y.Vols. 1" Brig. 3" Div. 6" A. Corps July 29.
Marched up to this place (Harpers Ferry) from Jeffersonville to-day established our camp on the left of the road had orders to make ourselves comfortable for the night. Lt Powell & I went to a brook to remove from our persons the evidences of our dusty march as we were coming back to camp we learned that the Divisions had moved to the right of the road we found them there in position for an attack if one was made it was a nice place to stay all night. we stoped here until about four P.M.
DIARY July 30".
News was received that the rebs had crossed the Potomac and marched on Chambersburg. the Army was at once started back towards Frederick our brigade was left as rear guard to move after all the trains had recrossed the river. We moved down to Bolivar so as to be inside the defenses of Harpers Ferry, halted and word sent arround that we should have time to make coffee and sleep a little befor the whole train was by. we laid down and slept all night. we did not move untill about 10 O.C.
DIARY July 31. Sunday.
the officers were just going down town and leave me in command of the regiment as orders came to move. we got in line and moved acrost the Potomac on the pontoons. and down through Sandy Hook, Knoxville and Berlin. I never saw the men suffer so much with the heat. we were marching in a hollow not a breath of air was stirring and the sun boiled down on our devoted heads in an awful manner. we had not went two miles before half the men had droped out and the brigade had to be halted to allow them to come up. it was impossible to march so the brigade was halted in a field to remain until an hour of sundown when the air became cooler and we marched on to Jefferson, where we arrived about 10 P.M. here we received orders to make ourselves comfortable for the night.
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