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Wednesday February 1st 1865
Last night a little past midnight an order came to have the men ready to move at short notice. I sent my orderly Sergt. Wood to have the company pack their things and I laid quiet and took a good sleep. we did not move but expect to to-night. I was told at Div. Hd. Qrs. to-night that if certain things were found out we wold move onto the enemies Right and try to set him back, if other certain things transpired we should not move at all. The Board Met to-day, I was made Recorder of the Proceedings. after we had selected men for furloughs we adjourned sine die. I made a record of the proceedings and gave them to the Brigade Commander. I am detailed as Judge Advocate of a Court Martial to meet at 10 A.M. to-morrow if we dont move. Major Wood of the 9" U.A.N.Y. is President. My duties are to instruct the Court on points law. to conduct the Prosecution in behalf of the U.S. and record the proceedings and hand them in to the Commanding General. I got a letter from Uncle John and one from Miss 3.3'.1.9'1- 3.9'.1.5'.1.3'.3'. (Clara Cranall [Crandall])
Thursday 2" Entered on my new duties. This P.M. rode over to the 2" Corps to see the great lookout tower they are building there, it is now 109 feet high and they intend to build it 30 feet higher. I learned that I should have been detailed as Aid-de-Camp on Genl. Seymours Staff if there had been officers enough with the regiment so that I could have been spared, I heard quite a compliment paid me yesterday when I was over at Brig Hd. Grs. but as the officer did not know I heard it I think I shall not state what it was. I have a case of Grand Larceney to try to-morrow. find my duties as Judge Advocate quite interesting. have $1.25 per day extra while on this duty. There is one Major. two Capts. four 1" Lts. and 3 2" Lts on the Court. besides myself. I have to prepare the cases for trial, summon the witnesses, examine them, and am what is called the organ of the Court. My title is Judge ....thing for smoothe face
Friday Feb. 3" 1865. A Peace Commission from Jeff Davis has been allowed to come through our lines and go to Fortress Monroe to meet commissioners from the U.S. Govt to treat for terms of peace. I have not much faith in the results being what we all desire. We have been favored with a long spell of tolarbly fine weather a storm has commenced to-night which I fear may be the ending of good weather for some time. We tried a man for Grand Larceny to-day. none of the members of the court are allowed to state what the sentence is until it is published.
Sat. 4" The Peace Commission is still at the Fortress. heavy cannonading commenced just at dusk and still continues, it is towards Petersburg. I think at Fort Hell (or Hill). contary to all expectation the storm of yesterday ceased last night, and the air during the day has been mild and balmy, more resembling spring than mid winter. Up North a very hard winter is in progress. I received my commission as Captain for gallant services during last years campaign. I did not get mustered as the Mustering officer had his wife up here and wanted to go with her to City Point this evening. Wrote to father.
Sunday 5" Pleasant day. We were ordered to be ready to move at a moments notice at 4 O.C. this A.M. the 5" Corps moved out to the left but we did not move the 5" struck the enemy about three oclock and some prety heavy cannonading issued. we appeared to drive them until sundown when the Rebs evicently made a stand for there was very rapid firing. It is now 9" P.M. we have just received orders to draw and issue four days rations and to be ready to move. the 1" Div. is now moving and we expect to follow them but cant tell yet. I have just written a letter to sister and think notwithstanding the probability of moving I shall go to bed. I also got a letter from my sister.
LETTER Hd. Qrs. Co's. "A" & "I" 106" N.Y.V.
Anglo-French Hotel Before Petersburg Va February 5" 1865
My dear sister
Your very kind and welcome letter of Jany 29" I have just received. altho it is a greeting from the frozen North the letter bore none of the peculiarities of the climate except perhaps being rather late.
I need not tell you that I was glad of the generally good health of our people for you are already aware of the fact. I am rather amused as well as grieved that you cannot get the idea out of your head the "your letters are uninteresting". if you will only allow me to be the judge I think we shall have no trouble about the matter. I am always glad to hear from you under any circumstances please remember that and dont delay on account of having "no news to write".
I seems strange to hear you speaking of so much snow when we are having such pleasant weather here. I hardly think we have had but three snow storms this winter. the heaviest of those was not more than two inches or so, and lasted but three days. we have not had any snow for more than a month I believe. the ground is just froze enough to make good travelling. a slight thaw takes place nearly every day so that the surface is a little muddy not much. The sky is clear and very blue.
Last night thea colonel sent word arround to us to have our companies ready to march at once. a movement was anticipated. we did not move however. but the 5" Corps did and struck the enemy on our left flank about noon they were some five miles from here. they appeared to drive them back slowly until to-night when from the sound of the cannonading they must have met with fierce resistance! the report came up here that we had captured Thachers Run and held the position how true this is I cannot tell. I should not be surprised if we were ordered out to assist the 5" to-night.
I am now the Judge Advocate of a General Court Martial setting at our Brig. Hd. Qrs. while I hold this position (which terminates if we move or have no more cases to try) I receive in addition to my present pay $1.25 per day. my duties are numerous and the cases take up most of my time. I have to prosecute in the name of the U.S. and also have to defend the prisoner. I have to examine all the witnesses on both sides, keep a record of the proceeding, swear the court, and witnesses, argue the case, hunt up thes law on each question, summon witnesses, direct the prisoner to be brought before us and direct the whole of the proceedings of the Court. enough business for any reasonable man to want on his hands. when the court adjourns for the day I have to do what they call "making up a case" for the next day.
In addition to all this I am a Captain. I got my Commission yesterday as such, for gallant services last summer in the Vally. I have not been mustered as such yet, but expect to be to-morrow! the reason I was not mustered yestrday was this the mustering officer had been home and got married when he came back he brought his little wife with him up here, and was riding arround with her showing the sights. he had to take her back to City Point to-night as no woman is allowed to stay all night at the front. I heard her say to an old friend who was congratulating her on her fine appearance that she was "hapy, very hapy, more so than she could express" the dear little thing, how prety she was.
The officers call sounded just now. we all went to Hd Qrs. & our orders are to be ready to move at once. the 1" Div is moving now and we expect to have to follow them. four days rations are being issued to the men.
So good night and sweet dreams, dear Suse.
Your Brother Bijou. Capt. 106" N.Y. Vols.
(postscript) Monday Feb. 6" /65
We did not move last night so this morning I opened this envelope to write some more. The 1" Div moved. It is now ½ an hour after sun rise but no fighting has commenced yet. perhaps there will be none to-day.
Sister I cant get any socks worth a darn here. will you send me a good pair or two of woolen socks buy them and charge the same to the account of your Brother Bijou
Monday 6" Warm. did not move as expected to. I understand that the 5" Corps threw up works on the ground they won and will probably remain there. our 1" Div. are coming back here. we captured a fiew wagons, some prisoners, and also lost quite a number in killed and wounded. the 2" Brig. of our Div. moved to protect the ground vacated by the 1" Div. so we had no court as most of the members belonged to that brigade. I was over to see the Genl. Comdg our Div. to-day had quite a long talk with him in regard to Courts Martial. Was mustered as Capt. from the 4". Wrote to Annie.
Tuesday 7" Commenced raining before day light and has rained all day. A bad day to get wounded, but many of our poor fellows have been, it is one of those sleet storms which freeze as fast as it falls. The 5" Corps and 1" Div. of our corps has been fighting in some of the worst part of the day. Heavy cannonading and musketry has been kept up to our left all day. we could hear the Rebs make a charge to-night although they are some five miles to our left. the 5 Corps was driven back some but the 1" Div of the 6" went in and saved the day by their gallantry. Recd a letter from Annie of Swampscott this evening. she is lovely- Got a copy of the New Lisbon Argus this evening.
Wednesday 8" Very muddy. Can not hear anything reliable from the left although it is so near us. The 1" Div. came back to its old position this morning. we finished another case of desertion and I took it over to Div. Hd. Qrs. to-morrow if we stay here we shall have a very serious case which I have already prepaired. the man is a substitute deserter. three of them deserted at the same time. one has been tried and sentenced to be shot next friday the other two are still to be tried before us. Charley Snyder is getting prety drunk to night. Capt Robertson, Cox, and myself had a fine game of Old Sledge. I forgot to mention that in accepting my commission as captain I lost the chance of being Aid-de-Camp on Genl. Seymours Staff. which I should probably have had last week.
Thursday 9". Prety cold. the 2" Brig. moved two miles to the left. we had orders to move also but did not go. no court to-day. I rode over to where the 2" Brig went this afternoon. They have no houses or anything to sleep in. they will have cold comfort for a day or two. this evening I went over to see Major Daymon, when strange to say I bolted right in upon a party of officers on a sprey. Holloa! theres LaForge says Daymond. I would have backed out but before I could make good my retreat I was caught and held prisoner. I found I was in for it and so tried to make the best of it. The officers from Brig Hd. Qrs. came in, and we had a great time. I got a way a little before 3 oclock. woke up Cox by my stumbling over a stool which he had set just inside the door for that purpose.
Friday 10" Very pleasant day. The man who was to be shot to-day has been allowed a respite by the president, poor fellow how the blood must have quickened in his veins when it was read to him last night. It seems to me if I was sentenced to be shot and was pardoned in order to make me a reckless dare-devil, I would be the bravest man in the army. I think by my feelings now that I shall go to bed prety early this evening thanking the Lord that I am not to be shot soon in any dishonorable way. of course we all have to run the risk of being shot some time. I am to remain in command of "I" Co. 1' Lt. Mours has been assigned to me, to command the company during the time that I am on extra duty.
Saturday 11" Warm and pleasant. Capt. Robertson got a Leave of Absence for fifteen days. Cox has applied for one four times but has not succeeded in getting one yet, it is to bad, we had some prety warm debates in court to-day but always agreed in the end, we could not finish the trial of the kprisoner before us as one important witness was gone. That puts me in mind that winter is going and another campaign will soon be commenced which will call loudly for more blood to be shed, all right. I wrote to Miss 4'.4. this evening. (Miss M. D.)
Sunday 12". No much to occupy me to-day rather idle. This evening a letter came to the Comd'g. officer of the regt. from John Clemence, asking if Lt. LaForge was alive, and stating that he had written me and not getting an answer he feared that I had been killed, and ended by requesting an immediate reply as he felt a deep interest in LaForge. Col. Mc. sent the letter to me and I wrote to John at once. I have written him before and could not account for not receiving an answer.
Monday Feb. 13" Have been very buisy tried two cases, then galloped out to the 2" Brigade to make up another. The case of an officer was handed me this P.M. with the request that he be tried to-morrow. I can not do it however as I have the cases I wish to try already made out. I will try the Captain day after to-morrow. Very cold hard to keep warm. Wrote to Miss 3.3. (Clara Crandall) this evening.
Tuesday 14th. Prety cold. I rather think peace is a thing to be won- not by talking but by fighting- a great many thought that the Peace Commission from the Rebs would really result favorably but it appears that we must depend on cool heads and stought hearts for a permanent peace. I am already to try Capt. Hebener to-morrow. I rode over to Ft. Du Chane this eve to see him. he is a fine looking fellow.
Wednesday 15th. Commenced the trial of Capt. Hebener. just before I commenced the Inspector A.A. Genl. 2" Brig. called me out to request me in the name of friendship, not to bear too hard on the Capt. I told them that I must do my duty to the U.S. without "favor or affection" oh! well, says Brig. Inspector, you can do that and give a fellow a chance too. every thing depends on you. you need not prosecute so very hard. Cox started off on a 15 day leave of absence before daylight this morning. he has applied five times for one and at last has got it. An officer with a commission as Major of this regt was down here a day or two ago. how thunder struck he was when he found we already had a major. he went away again the same day.
Thursday 16". Commenced raining along in the night sometime. very disagreeable day. Finished the case of Capt. Hebener. The court insisted on finding him not guilty of either the charge or Specification they even would not find him guilty of the facts which he acknowledged to have been guilty of himself. I remonstrated until I found that I should soon be mad and then ceased after telling them that I thought the court ought to be disolved. When I took the case over to the Div. Judge Advocate I was much surprised to find that he rather thought the court was right. I told him if the General though so too, that I had expended considerable eloquence without avail. he said that he would submit the case to the General. I wrote to uncle John to-night.
Friday 17" Still rainy. The case of Capt Hebener was returned to the court to-day for its reconsideration. he was surprised that the finding of the court should be so contarary to the evidence brought forward by the Judge Advocate and he fully seconded my views in regard to the matter. The Court reconsidered the case and made a finding partly in accordance with the evidence adduced. I knew the way it was done would not be satisfactory I took the case over to the Genl. after he had looked the case over he directed me adjourn the court sine die which I shall do to-morrow. I wrote to Col. McKelvy this evening. Hedge of company "E" got mustered as 2" Lt. to-day and I was glad of it for he is a fine boy. he has had a commission as 2" Lt ever since we have been here, but has not been able to muster, and therefore has carried a gun all the time.
Saturday Feb. 18th. Adjourned Sine die to-day and then I went over to see the General. he told me that he was perfectly satisfied with the manner in which my duties as Judge Advocate were performed. but he was very indignant with the manner in which the court had performed its duties as judges. He said that he had a strong notion of sending all the members of the Ct. before the Board of examination setting at Army Hd. Qrs. to see if they were fit to be officers. (sending the members of the Court does not include me. I am not considered a member, more than a Judge is a part of the Jury). I was just getting ready to go to bed when some of the Div. & Brig. Staffs & the 10" Vt. officers came over partly durunk. we had to have an oyster supper and spree. Did not break up until 2½ oclock.
Sunday 19". Beautiful day. The Genl sent me word to convene my court again as he wanted to give it a chance to reconsider its sentences in three cases. I rode over to the second Brigade and notified the officers to attend at the usual hour tomorrow morning. We had religious services in the open air not at all uncomfortable. I noticed in riding by it this P.M. that the great tower of the signal Corps had been finished. it is on an elevated piece of ground a mile left of our camp. is one hundred and fifty feet high ascended all the way by ladders. makes ones legs tired to go up and down it I should judge.
Monday 20" Very plasant. Court met and by dint of argument and other pursuasion succeeded in getting sentences more in accordance with the evidence adduced. Kelly a substitute deserter is to be ...t (word seems to have been erased and may have said "shot") the other cases were loss of pay and corporeal punishment. Daymon and Lyman of 10th Vt. were over to night. I played chess with the first a little while then went up to Hd. Qrs. the Col & Major were in bed we made them get up and kicked up a row generally. I had all I could do to keep Daymon within bounds. They did not go away until just now it is half past four and Reveille. I shall go to bed and try to get some sleep.
Tuesday 21" Still fine weather. I learned to-day that the old court had been broken up and a new one appointed of which I was to be Judge Advocate. I had ten cases to be tried handed me. the Court will not meet until thursday probably. I forgot to state that I had received a letter from Annie the 19" Annie of Lawrence I have felt prety sleepy all day or rather dull at any rate. there was an inspection of our brigade yesterday by Genl Wright. I understand that there is to be a revew of the Div. to-morrow. A salute of 100 guns was fired this P.M. in honor of the capture of Charleston and Columbus S.C. Sherman has occupied them with his forces it appears.
Wednesday 22" Pleasant. Washingtons birthday one hundred guns fired in honor of the event, by our batteries. a review of our Div. by Genl Wright. I rode over to look at it t'was splendid. Charleston and Columbia S.C. have been captured by Sherman. I have my detail as Judge Advocate of another Genl. Ct. Mar'tl.
(In the early 1940's the originals of LaForge's diaries were borrowed by Ralph M. Hower when he was preparing his book History of Macy's of New York 1858-1919. When the diaries were returned to Rose LaForge Maxson, four pages were missing. According to the letter written by LaForge on June 12, 1865, which is given below, Roland H. Macy, Jr. became a member of LaForge's company on March 3, 1865 and had previously been tried by a General Court Martial. Presumably the missing pages included mention of the case. If the missing sections are found later, they should be inserted here.)
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