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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

October 1864


DIARY Saturday. October 1" 64.

Day set in cold and gloomy which makes us stick prety closely to our tents. As I having nothing much to do concluded to write a little conversation between Orderly Wilder "I" Co & myslf. I am not sure vanity is not the motive for my writing it but I have been trying to pursuade myself it was but that I could have some satisfaction looking at it in old age if I should live to see dotage. To proceed, As we were walking along the Sergt came up to me and commenced to speak of the sanguine nature of our fight at Winchester, he gave me to understand that I had rather astonished the men by what he was pleased to call my bravery, they had rather supposed by my smoothe face and usualy quiet manner that I was somewhat deficient in the aforesaid article, but that they had changed their mind. Said he "when you started and called for volunteers to take that battery, I saw Temple (a brave old English soldier who was in the Crimea and India wars) start after you, I ran after him, he turned and asked me if you belonged to my company, I told `yes', why says he `a'int he rather a desperate charicter?' see him run at them alone' how do you feel, will you go if I will?' I told him I would'. hurrah then' said he throwing up his cap', here goes'. and we after you, several others came with us when we pointed to you away up ahead swinging your revolver in one hand and saber in the other. we did not go but a little way before the order came to halt as our right had been forced back, you did not know why we stoped but we had to, I thought you was a goner when that line fired at you and you threw yoursef behind the stump" To say that I did not feel proud at this recital would not be the truth, but nevertheless I pretended not to, said all the modest things I could think of, and told him what I really thought that if any other officer had thought of it before me they would have done the same thing. Indeed Lt. Cox spoke of it first but shortly after and before he could get men to go with him which he tried to do, he was knocked down by a blow in the head from a piece of shell from the guns in which he was interesting himself. The day has continued cold and gloomy. I wrote to Capt Crawford as he made me promise to do so when I left camp, the news is to night that a large train is on the way up here bringing four or five days mail, our rations and the Paymasters.

DIARY Sunday 2". [October]

Last nights rumor was correct, Just after I went to bed the officers call was sounded. I got up and went to Hd. Qrs. Capt Robertson gave us our Pay Rolls for July & August and said the men must sign them at once for we should be paid this morning, so I got the men up, had the Rolls signed &c. Genl. Wright sent arround word last night that a Union woman who lived near Mt Crawford had been deprived of all her property by this Div. Said woman had come into our lines and was going North, he desired the officers of this Div. to make her up a purse so that she would not be without the means of living. So we got togather at our respective Regimental Hd. Qrs. and after considerable fun made up a purse for her. Col. Henry 10" Vt. Vols. came back last night also. he said that when the news of our victories reached the North the people were wild with excitement, every little town must do its firing of guns &c. Gold came down to $1.60 and sugar took a tumble of 11 cts. per pound. so much joy in the Army of the Potomac as there was when the news reached them of our victory at Winchester, cheer after cheer rent the air, and when the guns were shotted and old Petersburg received their contents, such a shout went up as must have made the Rebel Hearts tremble, Bully for our side. Our men are having a little private good feeling of their own on the pay question.

DIARY Monday 3" [October]

Rained all day. considerable drunkeness especially in "I" Co Sergt Wilder who now commands them had considerable more than he could do to keep them quiet, finally he got mad and went to hars means, the men came to Hd. Qrs. (I was there) with complaints Capt Robertson tried to settle it. finally he turned to me and said "will you take command of Co "I" again you are the only one who appears to be able to do anything with them. They were as good a company as any in the regt while you had them, they were the black sheep always before you came, and have been ever since you left. I told him I would take them again- left home three years to-day

DIARY Tuesday 4". [October]

This morning Capt Robertson came to me & said "let me introduce you to your company", and turning to Sergt. Wilder "get Co. I into line" when they were formed he and I walked down before them and the Capt told them he was going to return me to them, and that I should have permanent command of the company. After a fiew more words he turned and left. As soon as he turned one of the men steped out and proposes "three cheers for Lt. LaForge". And three hearty cheers they gave, Oh! how proud I felt to think I was so much liked by the fine fellows. I took of my hat and thanked them, then they crouded arround to shake hands, and there was a prety noisy time for a while, the other men of the regt come running to know "what the news was, they were surprised at so much noise about so small a thing. I soon after went up to Hd. Qrs. There was considerable inthusiasm" says the Adjutant with a quiet good natured smile. I have been at work prety hard on my ordnance reports to-day. our Cav. are burning the mills and barns all arround. "I" Co. is all quiet.

DIARY Wednesday 5" [October]

Passed the day in camp at work on Ordnance papers. prety heavy cannonading in the direction of Mt Crawford, our cavalry seem to be engaded. Raines every fiew hours sbut is prety warm.

DIARY Thursday 6" [October]

This morning the for several days expected order to break camp to break camp to fall back was given. we moved out about sun rise, marching very rapidly all day, not stopping for dinner. we passed through clear Spring and New Market and camped at dark on the hills a mile West of Mt Jackson. We i.e. Cox & myself breakfasted on chicken at 4 O.C. this morning. all I ate after that until this evening at 7 O.C. was three apples, it was very warm marching to-day. I dont remember when I have heard the men complain so much as they have at the hard marching to day. Although I am prety lame from fatigue of marching still I feel prety good, It was almost an impossibility for a large army like ours to be supplied at so great a distance from its base by wagon transportation we have been on short rashions ever since we have been up here. Our cavalry are burning all the hay and grrain in the Vally as we retreat toward Strausburg.

LETTER (written on diary page) Hd. Qrs. "F" Co. 106" N.Y.Vols.

Harrisonburg Va. Oct. 2" 64

My ever dear Sister.

I have just discovered that you have in several of your past letters asked me questions which I have not answered either on account of not having your letter to read over when answering it, or like the last letter I did not have time to write. we now only have a fiew minutes notice before the mail goes out, not long enough to write a letter. if it was not for my memorandum you would find my letters rather meagre I am afraid. but to proceed I will answer all I can think of. every time an officer is promoted he has to swear in for three years. Say for instance I come out as 1" Lt. if my time is half up and I am promoted to Capt or any other rank above Lt. I have to swear in for three years more from the time I am promoted the same when a soldier lik myself was, is promoted. I am in for three years from June 9" 64. if they do not muster me out with the Regt. which is customary. if they do my time will be out the 27" of Next August. Now about bounty. Officers get no bounty from the government. they should be credited to whatever county they belong to and get the local bounty. did Allegany Co. pay any?

Did you expect I would be an officer or not, I was rather surprised when I got your first letter after you knew of my promotion. you did not seem at all overwhelmed by the new, never even congratulating me at all, but took it intirely as a matter of course which you had been expecting all along. How was it? I never wrote to you of my expectations hoping to take you by surprise, Myself turned out to be the surprised party. you must explain it.

Front Royal. Oct. 11" I finish my letter to day and send in it for you one hundred dollars. please keep it for me. I shall send more soon. Give my love to mother janey, and the boys not forgetting young Potter, he must be a fine boy as he is named after me and if I get back safe we will have a fine time sure. he will be big enough to learn his A.B.Cs. by that time.

Your ever loving Brother.

A. T. LaForge.

Lieut. Commanding "I" Co. 106" N.Y.Vols.


Friday, Oct. 7" 64. Started about sunrise on the retreat down the Vally. had to wait a long time for our turn to cross the bridge at Mt Jackson over the we then continued our way by easy stages stopping an hour for dinner, we reached Woodstock at sundown and while the camped on the East side of the town, the 106" staid on the West on out post duty, we were told to make ourselves comfortable for the night. So Cox & I went to a creek a fiew rods off and took a wash, when we came back we found the Regt gone, soon found they had gone out on picket, we followed and found them, our boys got us a supper of fried chicken to which we did full justice. then laid down to sleep, every indication of a hard, cold snap, a little shower of cold rain now an then, Just three years ago to-day I was sworn into the U.S. Service

Sat. 8" The orders was passed down the line to be ready to move at 5½ O.C. A.M. Our servants went to getting us breakfast at once, but before we had half eaten we had to start. The Brigade was waiting for us in town part of the regt. came in one way and part the other so that half of us could get rations of which we were intirely out. We all got about ½ days rations. It was very cold when we started and has continued so all day. Occasionally some rain mixed with a little snow fell, Our route was down the pike towards Strausburg we passed over the old battlefield and took a cool look at the Rebel Works and position on the memoriable 22" Sept. and our wonder at being able to drive them from here was increased, if they had not been demoralized by being beated a fiew days before we could not have got them out. Moved down Fishers Hill and camped on the banks of near Strausburg. camped for the night.

Sun. 9" Laid in camp all day, weather very cold. Just at dark we heard the regts cheering on the right, soon an order came down from Brig. Hd. Qrs. that Genl. Torbit (our Cav. Commander) had captured eight guns from the Rebels near Woodstock also seven wagons, The Rebel Infantry were at New Market following us very slowly and cautiously. afraid to get to near. We have had to keep as near the fire as possible, for the weather is decidedly winterish.

Mon 10" Broke camp at sunrise and started on the march at 8 A.M. only our (6) corps moved we passed through Strausburg crossed cedar creek, marched through Middletown then turned to the right for Front Royal, camped a little North of the town for the night. I was provost marshal for the brigade to-day, my duty was to stop all stragglers from the Brigade and send them to their respective regiments. Last night ice was frozen about ¼ of an inch thick. Yesterday received letters from uncle John, Annie Porter, Mrs. Capt. Chamberlain, Sergt. Beaugureau and Sergt Hungerford. The last is my 1" Sergt. was captured at Monocacy and recently paroled.

Tuesday 11" Slept illy last night, had the rheumatism, how the "old folks at home" would laugh to hear me complain of that desease. Day pleasant but cold. Commissary came up and we drew rations. Genl. Sheridan who was over here yesterday with us has gone back to Strausburg. What this movement means none can tell, but the Comdg. Genl. Lots of conjectures are made of course, but I like none.

Wednesday 12. Still prety cold. I wish I had my overcoat, it is at Winchester with the rest of the officers baggage. Capt. Parkers servant returned to the Regt he says that the Capt would have lived, but the doctor thought the piece of shell with which he was wounded did not stay in his side, in this he was mistaken for when the Medical Director of the hospt came arround he found it among his vitals, also a button from his coat. the piece of shell weighed seven ounces. Capt died the next morning after it was taken out. I forgot to mention that yesterday some of our boys were out foraging and were attacked by a band of guerrillias, one of our boys was taken one wounded and got away. the rest managed to get away by taking to the bush

Thursday Oct. 13" Ordered to be ready to move at 6 O.C. A.M. to move down the Vally to Ashbys Gap, cross the mountain and proceed to Alexandria, all supposed to embark for Petersburg. We started and by a hard march reached Milford by 1 P.M. stoped for dinner, then started for the Ford of the Shenandoah. just as the head of the column was entering the river an officer with an escort rode up to Genl. Wright and delivered an order of some kind, the Genl at once ordered a halt. then countermarch and the head of the column came back, how the men cheered when they saw it they do not like the idea of going South again for Petersburg has no charms for us after winning such glory in the Vally. There are all kinds of reports about the reason of our turning back, some say that somebody told them that they heard an officer say, that he heard another officer tell Genl. Wright that Petersburg was taken with 90 guns and 20000 prisoners. That Petersburg is taken many believe but I dont. My private belief is that Longstreet who now commands the Rebels in the Vally, has learned of our leaving here and made an attack on the 19" and 8" Corps in hopes of whipping them before we could march back to their assistence, we have heard some reports up toward Strausburg which I take to be cannon which strengthens my belief. We stoped near Milford 2 miles from the river for the night. Had a mail from the north. a letter from sister for me. family generally well. very cold.

Friday 14. Last night had orders to be ready to move at 6 A.M. but at 3 A.M. an order came to march at once, it was cold enough I was glad that I got my overcoat last night. Bright moonlight until ½ an hour before day light. we rested that half hour. We stoped for breakfast at 9 A.M. near Newtown. we had made a prety hard march. after breakfast we moved on up to Middletown found that the Rebs had attacked our troops and rove them from Fishers Hill to Cedar Creek 3 miles this side of Strausburg. We formed line of battle and camped for the night about a mile west of Middletown. The Rebs are at there old fortifications on the Hill.

Saturday 15" Cavalry went out to Strausburg and staid all day the Rebs firing at them some. The enemy are cutting the trees down on one side of Round Knob to build a fort or make a more extended prospect. throgh the opening they have made they can command a view of their left flank where our forces surprised them before. The 8 and 19" corps made no resistance yesterday but fell back trying by a show of timidity to draw the enemy into an attack. The Rebs were to wary however.

Sunday 16" Laid in camp all day, no movement going on that we are aware of. One of the Brigade aids told me that the force in our front consisted of 20000 men commanded by Genl Longstreet, and that he (Longstreet) was expecting 13000 more. If he gets them his force will be larger than ours. 60 recruits came to the regiment to-night. they were mostly put into Co's "C" and "D". they fill these companies up to the 82 which is required before a 2" Lieut can be mustered. Some of the men disliked to go into those Co's when they enlisted for others, and said so, but they will be made to I am afraid but it is a shame if they are.

Monday 17" One of my Sergts. named Campbell a smart active fellow is drilling the recruits and laying down military to them. I was detailed for picket at 3 P.M. took charge of two Lieuts & one hundred men from this regt. after a good deal of unnessary marching we got on the line at sundown The orders are not to have any fires after dark, it will be cold work.

Tuesday 18" Duced cold last night I was half froze once and made some fire which Did not go out in spite of orders. four or five shots were fired on our right otherwise all was quiet. this morning the officer sent me word to send two guards to a couple of houses acrost Cedar Creek on the East bank of which our line runs, if I could find a good crossing for the men, I went down to the creek and found no good place to cross so did not send the men While I was eating breakfast one of the men on the line came and said a couple of ladies wanted to come through, I found them a couple of prety southron girls. They wanted to get the guards it was their houses whch were to be guarded as some of our pickets were trying to take their cows and goods. they told me they could show the men where to cross safely. I had no desire to resist the appeal of two such prety faces so sent the guard. The girls gave a very pressing invitation to "come over" and I said perhaps I would, about noon they sent for me again but as the bearer of the message said he saw a good dinner ready, I would not go for it looked too much like "cozening" for my dinner.

I was speaking with Lieut Birge about my coming to the Regt last June Said he "you disappointed us all. When I first saw you I said to the men `there is another sell on the 106"' there is none would call you a `sell' now though. I tell you frankly without and desire to flatter, there is not an officer better liked by the officers and men of the Regt than yourself. We are all well pleased with you."

We were expecting to remain on duty three days but were releived just at sundown and came into camp.

Wednesday 19" Another eventful day, another great battle to be added to the already large list. just at day light firing commenced on the picket line on the right- this was only a feint it worked rapidly down to our left where the attack was realy intended, I rose up when I first heard it. but as there was no commotion on our part of the line concluded to sleep again but the firing soon became so fierce that I concluded to get up and issue some clothing which I had on hand and did not issue last night as it was after dark when I got in. all this time the battle was raging hot & heavy on the left where the 8 & 19 corps were camped. I went to my tent to get some breakfast (wheat cakes, ham & eggs and other good things) but had got so excited by the firing that I could not eat, our forces on the left now began to run & the 6" corps was thrown into their place, the Rebs were flushed with success, and our men rather demoralized by the others runing through their ranks, so when they charged our line it partly gave way our batteries had their horses all shot and the guns were abandoned, this would not do the men were rallied and charged driving the Rebs we took our guns back drawing them off by hand. I ran to where two horses were standing hitched to a limber & gun, took them by their bridles and led them to the rear of our lines, then went back and helped draw one that had but one horse. Genl' Wright rode down to the lines and in front of us when the line first broke. he was rather excited "Halt you d___d cowards" said he, "is there a man who is afraid to die for his country? The line was stoped, I went with some men in front of the line and brought back a wounded man. just turned and went back to the line which was laying down when a bullet struck my left knuckle and smashed it, I was raising it up to take a look at it when another struck me above the right eye & glancing knocked my hat off, the blood ran profusely from both places, I turned, picked up my hat and put it on, and as it was evident they ment me, concluded to put for the rear I bound my handkerchief arround my head & left the field. the Rebs by this time were checked. After going two miles I ran acrost our Dr. had my head dressed, found Capt Wilbur of our Regt wounded in the side. after his wound was dressed we started for Newtown togather. My hand pained me badly but the Dr. had many much worse wounds to tend to so I did not ask him to dress it. When we got to Newtown we found the town full of Stragglers from the 8" & 19" corps these Genl Sheridan had ordered to be sent to the front as soon as he heard of it. Genl Sheridan was not up when the fight began, he had been to Washington and was on the way up from Harpers ferry when he heard the firing. he put spurs to his horse and got up to the field just as our forces had checked them after they had been driven to this side of Middletown when he rode up to the lines, Oh! how the boys cheered him "never mind men" said he "we will pay them for this before night yet". and so he did for he charged at 4 P.M. driving the Rebs before him at a run acrost Cedar Creek through Strausburg, and I understand beyond Fishers Hill. We found their ambulance corps full of wounded parked near Strausburg, we captured this, also their wagon train and all of the artillery they captured from us this morning togather with all the artillery (except a fiew pieces) they had with them. bully for our side. they did not make much by the surprise they gave us this morning. our troops camped on the same ground they occupied this A.M. our wounded are being brought down here, I cant yet tell to what number.

THURSDAY 20". Staid last night with Lt. Chilton at a Mr. McLeods. my hand pained so I could not sleep much, had breakfast with them then came down to the town again. Capt Briggs who commanded the Regt for a week back was wounded in the foot. four of my men were wounded that I can hear from. our wounded has mostely been brought down here, I have been to all the hospitals and such a sight I never saw or want to see again, this is the first time I ever saw a hospital after a fight as I was always at the front until this time. A surgeon must get stearn hearted to attend to their duties with sang froid as they do, I understand that we are to be sent to Winchester in the morning.

Friday 21" Slept with the rest of our officers in town last night. not much sleep however. Ambulances came into which we were placed about 10 A.M. did not get to Winchester till dark, only the worst cases were left the rest went on to Martinsburg. I took tea at Mr. Jacksons. Saw Lt Buckman he is doing well Q. M. wanted me to stay with him but I concluded to go on. Rained considerable during the night very cold. tried to sleep but could not as I was sure to hurt my head or hand every time, road very rough- the 9" N.Y. H. Art. passed us, they were guarding a detachment of 2200 Rebels to Martinsburg

Saturday 22. Got to Martinsburg at day light. Us officers stoped at a hotel got dinner after which an ambulance came and took us to the cars and we started for Sandy Hook. got there just at dark and were taken up to a hospt for officers on the hill. Tremenduous cold wind blowing had some ham & eggs & warm bread & coffee for supper, felt very comfortable as there was a good warm stove in the tent.

Sun. 23. Staid here all day applications for leaves of absence sent in. Capt Briggs came in. he had laid in the cars all night he said it was ducedly cold. the wind continued to blow prety cold.

Mon 24" Capt Briggs & I got an ambulance and went to Harpers Ferry staid part of the day then came back just in time to get our leaves which were for 30 days. we got on the cars and came down to Baltimore. put up at the Fountain House and went to the Front St Theater to see Mr & Mrs Barney Williams play the Magic Circle. when it was out the two Capts went to another place where I did not accompany them but returned to my Hotel.

Tues. 25" Bought a new Rig to-day. Then we took the cars and came on to Phil. Pa. put up at the continental and went to the New Chestnut St. Theater. and saw The Lady of Lyons played. Then returned to the hotel. there is a car which is worked by steam used here to elevate the guests to their rooms instead of their having to walk up and down stairs. very fine indeed.

Wed. 26" Came on to New York where we stoped for an hour or two. Went to Barnums at which place I had a Port monie placed in my pocket. we then came on the Hudson River R.R. up to Fishkill Landing where I left my two friends as I stoped to visit my uncles people. I went over to New Burgh and stoped for the night at the United State Hotel. not so fine as the Continental.

Thurs. 27" Crossed the River & went up to see Uncle Fuller. people all well and very much pleased to see me. I cant imagine what makes all the women appear so lovely to me. I guess it must be because I have seen so fiew of them lately. a cold storm came up this afternoon.

Friday 28. Staid all day with Uncle was expecting to go back but he would not hear of it. they all wish my sister was here so as to visit togather. Uncle & aunt think the World of sister Susan

Saturday 29" Oct. This A.M. went down to Mateawan to cousin Cal's visited the felt shops then after dinner came down to New Burgh and took the cars for Salisbury Mills arriving there about dark, walked down to Bethlehem and was kindley riceived by Mr & Mrs. Howser where I stoped for the night.

Sunday 30" Mrs. Howser did not want me to see Mr. Clemences people until they came to meeting so as to take them by surprise, and I did take them by surprise. Uncle Tomy did not know me at first but was greatly delighted when I made myself known, and John & his wife Mary received me like a brother. Mary insisted on my treating kher as an old acquaintance. Took dinner and stoped all night with John made a call on Samuel Clemence.

Monday 31" Went down to Cornwall & Canterbury with John. at the latter place I called upon Mrs. Townsend, mother of our Col. Charles Townsend who was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor, I called by the request of the officers of the 106" to express the deep regard we feel for her son. The lady received me kindly and my call gave her much satisfaction although upon a painful subject. She extended me a cordial invitation to stop part of my Leave with them. when she found I could not, she desired me to extend to the officers of the 106" the same invitation. I was expecting to go on my journey to night but John desired me to go with him an join the Union League which I did & now belong to Orange League No 5. of N.Y. I was requested to speak but being unprepaired, declined. On our return at past midnight we found Mary waiting tea.

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