From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            THE FOURTH OF JULY! The siege is at last ended. Behold the white flag now waving over the rebel ramparts. Vicksburg has at length surrendered. Speed the glad news to our loved ones at the North, who, during our long trial, have helped us with their prayers. Speed it to the entire forces of the Union, that they may all take courage and move again.

            We are all full of rejoicing, as the event will no doubt prove a death-blow to the rebellion in the Southwest. Vicksburg has been the boast of the enemy, who thought it to be impregnable, and they confidently defied the Army of the West to take it. But by the untiring energy, skill and forecast of our gallant leader, U. S. Grant, aided by the willing and brave hearts about him, Vicksburg has been taken, and over it the stars and stripes now float proudly in all their majestic beauty. How glad I am that I have been one of those who have endured the trials requisite to plant our banner there. And while rejoicing over our success, let us not forget those who have died on these fields of honor. While we surviving raise Liberty‘s ensign over Vicksburg, let us remember the graves at Raymond and Champion Hills. And in after years, when we meet to refresh the memory of soldier days, let our dead here around Vicksburg never be forgotten. Let us think of them as standing guard over our dearly-won prize, until the final roll-call, when each shall be “present” or “accounted for.”

                        “They struggled and fell, their life-blood staining
                                    The assaulting foeman’s hand;
                        And clasping freedom’s flag, sustaining,
                                    Cried, God save our native land.
                        Let angels spread their wings protecting;
                                    Let sweetest flowers ever bloom;
                        And let green bays, our faith reflecting,
                                    Mark each martyr’s sacred tomb.”

            Now that the enemy have resigned possession of Vicksburg, I trust the wicked rebellion will not fail soon to near its end, when all our boys in blue will have leave, at will, to present arms to the girls they left behind them. A star heralding the coming peace already seems to twinkle in the sky. We rejoice not less over our triumph to-day because it was consummated upon the glorious Fourth. And while we rejoice for our country, we show no unworthy exultation over the fallen, to whom we extend the sympathy of victors. Read more

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JULY 3D.—Uncle Sam’s cashier has arrived at last, and we have been paid for two months’ service. The married men are quite anxious to send their money home to their wives and little ones. It is risky sending money North from here, yet, to some, more dangerous to keep it. I saw two boys sitting on a log, today, playing poker at five cents a game. Five cent currency is paid in a sheet, and, as either lost the game, a five cent piece was torn off.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JULY 2ND.—This is Camp Tiffin. Our regiment was favored to-day with a large mail, and nothing could have been more acceptable. Letters from home were looked into first, and next, of course, came sweethearts. One letter was read aloud, describing the capture of a butternut camp, in Holmes county, Ohio. The fort was built on a hill, and manned with several cannon, to resist the draft. A few soldiers from Camp Chase, however, went over and soon put an end to that attempt at resistance. I regret to hear of such a disgraceful affair occurring in my native State. From other letters and papers it appears this thing occurs in many other Northern States, and of course it must give encouragement to the rebels.

            The rumor now runs that the paymaster will be at hand tomorrow, but he is about as reliable as Johnston, for we have been something like a week looking for both these gentlemen. I confess I would rather meet greenbacks than graybacks.

            This afternoon, with several others, I went blackberrying again, and in searching for something to eat, we paid a visit to a house where, to our happy surprise, we found a birthday party, brightened by the presence of no less than eleven young ladies. We asked, of course, where “the boys” were, and they replied, as we expected, “out hunting Yanks.” Well, we found it a treat to get a taste of sociality once more, after being so long famished. They were very nice rebel girls, though I think the color of the eyes of one of them was what I might call true blue. They asked us to lunch with them, which we did with pleasure. The eatables were good, and we had a splendid time—all the while, of course, keeping one eye on the girls and the other on the window. We told our experience at our last blackberrying excursion, when they assured as we had nothing to fear with them, for they were all “for the Union.” No doubt they will be whenever their “boys” come home.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

July 1ST.—Here we enter upon the patriotic month of July, and where and how we are to spend it is yet beyond our conjecture, for we never know in this kind of service what a day may bring forth.

Preparations appear to have been made here for remaining in camp, and yet we may sleep to-night many miles away, or perhaps, without sleeping, march the whole night through. If only life is spared, it is enough; our duties are not shirked. If we camp only for a day, our quarters are to be all cleaned up, and everything put in the best order possible for comfort. On such excursions as this we have no mess cooking, but every fellow cooks for himself. The first man up in the morning, therefore, gets the frying-pan, from whom the next must engage it, and then may come number three, who is referred to number two.

So the utensil goes round a group or mess. The coffee is generally made in a camp kettle for the entire company. I have spent more time hunting up the owner of the last claim on the frying-pan than it afterward took to fry my bacon and crackers.

The pay-master is said to be not far from camp, which creates quite an excitement, since he may charge upon us any moment. There were orders for inspection every morning at eight o’clock for all companies. A little exercise of this kind hurts nobody. I took a stroll through the woods, looking at the graves of those who had fallen by the wayside while our army fought for the position it now holds around Vicksburg. These graves will soon be leveled, and their last trace lost. Friends may mourn for the fallen, but their tears will never water the graves of the heroes.

I write with the aid of a bayonet candle-stick. The latter end of this month will find me just twenty-one years of age.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 3OTH.—Our dreams were broken this morning at daylight by the bug’e call, and in a very few minutes the whole command was up and ready to march—their beds around the owners’ necks. Our woolen blankets are rolled up as tight as possible, having a rubber one outside, which, when the two ends are tied, are swung around our necks. If there has been a rain to wet the blankets, and no time to dry them, they make a heavy load on the march; so no time is lost in drying blankets whenever the opportunity is offered. If it is raining when we retire, and brush can be cut to lay the blankets on, we get a number one spring bed, and when the weather is pleasant a good bed can be made by laying down two rails the width of the blanket apart, and filling the space with grass, or straw from any adjacent stack, on which the blankets may be spread. There is a sort of tall grass growing in this country which makes a soft bed, and is quite worth the puffing. Everything possible is done by the soldier to secure a good night’s sleep. I have seen straw stacks torn to pieces, sheds pulled down, and fences melt away in the twinkling of an eye, about camp time. A certain officer has ordered his men to take only the top rail, which order was obeyed to the letter, yet every rail disappeared—the bottom rail finally becoming the top one. I have seen half a regiment bearing rails, boards and straw toward camp before even the end of the day’s march was reached. They will have good beds and fires.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 29TH.—The 4th of July is fast approaching, and if we do not get our prize by that time, we will have a little celebration out here in the woods, for we have flags, drums and plenty of spread-eagle speakers, and we can omit the cannon, of which kind of music we have had a surfeit. Yes, we have all the material for a patriotic celebration, but I had hoped we should waive the old flag in Vicksburg that day.

            I was sick last night, and up many times before day; and as I walked among the sleepers, I was astonished at the snoring; the variety of sounds made was as great as that of a brass band.

            A rumor circulates that Pemberton has made an attack on our lines at Vicksburg, trying to cut his way out, but failed of his purpose. From a prisoner brought in, I have learned, by questioning, that the rebel authorities have made numerous drafts for young and old, to refill their ranks, and I think their army now must be as strong as it can ever be. By conscription and terrorism they have forced into the field every available man. With the North it is not so, for the old song, “We are Coming, Father Abraham, Three Hundred Thousand More,” is being sung there yet, with good will, and volunteers are still pouring in to fill up what may be lacking in our ranks. We can thus throw renewed forces against failing ones.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 28TH.—The boys of the 20th left at Vicksburg joined our regiment to-day. We were very anxious to hear how the siege was progressing, and, to our surprise, learned that it was going right on as usual, without our assistance. It was interesting to hear of the blowing up of Fort ‘Hill by our division, but we did not ascertain the number killed, though the explosion
                        Hoisted two or three.
                        And blew a darky free
                        From slavery to freedom.

            This negro, blown up with other chattels in the fort, was dropped into our lines and taken to General Logan’s headquarters, none the worse for his trip. When asked what he saw, he said, “As I was comin’ down I met massa gwine up.” Nothing, however, was gained by blowing up the fort, except planting the stars and stripes thereon, by our troops who made the charge after the explosion ; but our colors were removed, for safety, after dark. While our men lay all the afternoon on the side of the fort, the rebels threw into their ranks hand-grenades which killed and wounded quite a number. Our boys, however, would occasionally catch them and toss them back to the place from which they came, just in time to explode among their owners.

            Living out here in the woods is quite different from camping before Vicksburg. Yet all is life and bustle wherever we are, from reveille at daybreak, to tattoo at night. Each man must answer to his name in ranks at roll-call in the morning, and must be properly dressed. Some of the most ludicrous scenes of army life are to be witnessed at this exercise. A few of the old fashioned, steady fellows, as a general thing appear quite thoroughly dressed ; but as you go down the ranks from the head where they stand, you will begin to find, now and then, a man who has but one boot or shoe on, with the other but half way on. Another boy will be putting on his blouse—having grabbed it in the dark—of course wrong side out. Another has tossed his blouse over his shoulders, and is trying to hide close to his right-hand man. Still another, trying to get his pants on between his bed and the line, has caught a foot in the lining, and hops along like a sore-footed chicken. I saw one fellow come out, at the foot of the company, wrapped only in a blanket. The orderly, however, sent him back to be better uniformed; he could not play Indian at morning roll-call. The last one of those who have overslept, makes his appearance holding on to his clothes with both hands. Some answer to their names before taking position in the ranks, and in fact, even some before they are fairly out of bed. A company which has for its orderly a person who is a little lenient, fares well ; but if he is inclined to strain his authority, he is bound to have its ill will. After roll-call, some of the half-dressed return to bed for another snooze, while the rest complete their toilet. After that comes the splitting of rails, building of fires, and a general rush for breakfast, which winds up the duties of the morning.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            June 27TH.—A number of our boys went a few miles, blackberrying, and picked quite a quantity to bring home, when we heard the sound of horses’ hoofs, and suddenly concluding we had berries enough, we beat a hasty retreat for camp and got there safely.

The weather is not quite as hot here as it was in our close quarters at the front, but while we enjoy that change we would much prefer remaining at our post there, until the end of the siege.

            Some of the boys have had to boil their pants—the only process which is sure death to an enemy lurking there which we find most troublesome. While our pants are boiling the owner leans over the kettle anxiously, for it is probably his only pair. Well, it is now summer time, and, it will do to sun ourselves an hour or two. These little pests lurking in our pants become very annoying when they go foraging. These creatures are about the only war relics from which I have not gathered specimens to send home. I have, in fact, gathered enough of them, but with no view to a museum or cabinet. It is fun to see a fellow get into a pair of boiled pants. The boiling has shrunk them till they fail to reach the top of his brogans by some inches, and accordingly he bends over to try to pull them down to a junction, when the contrary things seem to recoil still further ; and the only satisfaction left to him at last—and it is no mean one, either—is that they are at least clean, and he himself is once more their sole occupant. How long he will remain so, however, it is hard to say.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 26TH.—We have heard that Port Hudson is ours, and I hope this may be true, for it will tend to hasten the surrender of Vicksburg.

            A little dirt has been thrown up ahead of us, as a shield, in case we have to fight the enemy. We hear all sorts of reports about the strength of Johnston‘s army, but the truth will only appear when we meet it. One captive said the report in Vicksburg was that Pemberton despaired of getting help from the out side, and was ready to surrender when the last meal rations have been eaten. He probably understands the resources of our commissary, as well as the magnanimous disposition of Grant to issue provisions to a starving foe.

            Well; why not? The first square meal received from Uncle Sam will be an occasion to them of thanksgiving. They will get the best that we can issue. And when the war is over, true soldiers of both armies will be among the first to break the bread of reunion and quaff the cup of restored peace and good will.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 25TH.—We have orders to stay in camp, ready to move at a moment’s notice. Our marching orders are still delayed, so we have enjoyed a good rest. We are now out of hearing of the guns at Vicksburg, and it seems very still around us, indeed.

            The term of the enlistment of some members of our regiment has now expired, and they seem to want to get home again to see their mamas; but go they can not until our “rabbit is caught.” Shame on them for wanting to leave before the flag flies over Vicksburg. Many of them have had letters from friends at the North, urging them not to stay after their time is out. But they may as well make up their minds that Grant will hold them till Vicksburg is taken.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 24TH.— Awaiting orders to march is as tiresome as waiting at a station for a train. We were ready for marching orders again this morning, but failed to get them.

            The weather is hot. Some of the rebel prisoners have said we could not stand this heat, but I guess the Yanks can stand it if they can, and if it should actually get too hot, we will just cool their country off. The nights are pleasant enough and we are thankful for the comfort of the sleep which they allow us. We have a chance out here to forage a little, and though but little, any change from army rations becomes agreeable.

            It is amazing what progress soldiers make in foraging. They began committing such depredations as to cause an order on the subject to be issued, and on the eighth of May last the commanding General required a general order, prohibiting foraging, to be read throughout the army five times a day. Not long after that, two soldiers of the 13th corps were arrested and brought before General A. J. Smith, at his headquarters in a fine grove of stately poplars, where the General was informed by the guard that the men had been caught in the act of stealing chickens. The gallant General appeared to be revolving the heinousness of the charge as he looked aloft among the poplars, and presently the guard inquired what should be done with the men, when the General, after another glance upward, turning to the guard, replied, “O, damn ‘em, let ‘em go. There ain’t any tree here high enough to hang ‘em on.”

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 23d.—We halted this morning at six o’clock, and but a few minutes elapsed before two-thirds of the regiment were fast asleep. A few very hungry ones, only, made coffee and took breakfast.

            We find ourselves again on the road to Jackson, but what our final destination is, no one knows except the stars in front. We surmise our course to be through Johnston‘s army, if we can find it.

            The “blarsted” bugle blasted us out on the road again at seven. I believe I, for one, would rather have spent my hour in eating than sleeping. However, we trudged our eight miles at an easy pace and halted again. The birds were singing merrily, with no sounds of war to interfere. It is rumored that we are out hunting the paymaster instead of Johnston.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 22D.—Johnston is getting lively again, and beginning to kick up a dust in the rear; so we have orders to move tonight, with three days’ cooked rations. One regiment from each brigade in Logan‘s division constitute our expedition, which, I think, will find him, and if we get sight of his army, somebody will be likely to get hurt.

            It is now just a month since we made the charge on the enemy’s line which proved to us so disastrous, and our cannon now are too close to act on Fort Hill, so a wooden gun has been made, which, charged with a small amount of powder, throws the shell inside the fort—a new device, but working well, for it can drop its missile where the cannon cannot.

            We have eaten pretty well in camp to-day, and cooked everything we had on hand, since we may not get so good an opportunity again upon the march. When hard tack was first issued there was but one way to eat it, and that was dry, just as it reached us. Practice, however, taught us to prepare a variety of dishes from it. The most palatable way to dispose of hard tack, to my taste, is to pulverize, then soak over night, and fry for breakfast as batter-cakes. Another good way is to soak whole, and then fry; and still another is to soak a little, then lay it by the fire and let grease drop on it from toasted meat, held to the fire on a pointed stick. This latter is the most common way on a march. Sometimes the tack is very hard indeed by the time it reaches us, and it requires some knack to break it. I have frequently seen boys break it over their knees. Just raise your foot up so as to bring the bent knee handy, and then fetch your hard tack down on it with your right hand, with all the force you can spare, and, if not too tough, you may break it in two. But one poor fellow I saw was completely exhausted trying to break a hard tack, and after resorting to all the devices he could think of, finally accomplished it by dropping on it a 12-pound shell. The objection to that plan was, however, that the fellow could hardly find his hard tack afterward.

            At midnight we crept out of camp unobserved—everything being quiet except now and then a shot on picket line.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 21ST.—To-day again church bells at the North are calling good people to worship, and to hear words of cheer and comfort to the soul. The prayers of our patriotic mothers and fathers that will go up to-day for the suppression of this rebellion will surely have a hearing.

            We had inspection of arms and quarters at nine this morning. Of course everything was in good order, but if such a thing should take us by surprise some time, our beds might be found not made, and things in general upside down. When notice of this inspection was given, or rather an order to prepare for it, one of our boys remarked, “This must be Sunday;” and he added, “I guess I won’t wait for this inspection,—I’ll take my girl to church.” If his girl had been here the whole company would doubtless have wanted to go to church, too. “Though lost to sight, to memory dear.” We can talk to the sweet creatures only through the dear letters exchanged; but a love letter brings a very bright smile to a warrior’s face, and the sunshine that prevails in camp after the reading of the mail from home, is quite noticeable. Dear girls, do not stop writing ; write letters that are still longer, for they are the sweetest of war’s amenities, and are the only medicine that has kept life in the veins of many a homesick soldier. When the mail comes I cannot help wishing everybody may get a letter; but alas! some must miss hearing their names read, and oh! the sadness that creeps over them when the last name has been called and the last letter handed out to some one else. They are sadder than if wounded by a bullet. If wounded, a surgeon may prescribe; but what prescription for the failure of a letter from home? Our mail is by no means daily, and if it comes at all, its favors are few and far between. Indeed, each time it comes we get to feeling as if it may never come again. And so it may prove, in fact. The disappointed one carries his strangled hope into the next day’s fight, falls, and dies, perhaps, from some wound that otherwise might prove slight, for his heart is broken.

            This afternoon I stood on a little hill just back of a regiment adjoining, talking with a friend there, when crash through his brain went a rebel bullet. He had just alluded to the horrors of the daily strife. Relieved from further duty here, he went to answer roll-call in a better army, to which his honorable discharge from this ought surely to admit him. He answered the first call of his country, and had served faithfully through two years of hardship and danger. I personally know that he fought well, and his name should not fail to be enrolled somewhere in the records of his country.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 20TH.—This morning our whole line of artillery—seven miles long—opened on the doomed city and fortifications at six o’clock, and kept up the firing for four hours, during which time the smoke was so thick we could see nothing but the flash of the guns. No fog could have so completely hid from view objects around, both close and familiar. Had the rebs made a dash for liberty then, they could not have been discovered until they were right upon us. But they did not do it. Our infantry was all called out in line of battle, and we stacked arms till the firing ceased. O, what a calm after that terrific bellowing. There was every variety of tone to-day from the dogs of war—from the squeak of a little fiste to the roar of a bull dog. The sound of some brass pieces was so loud as to drown the reverberations of the larger guns, and not a return shot was fired.

Poor fellows, how tamely they took it! They had nothing to say—at least that we could hear. Several of our boys laid down and slept during the firing as soundly as if they had been on their mothers’ feather beds at home. When the clouds cleared away I thought the stars and stripes never looked so beautiful. Even if the defenceless women and children in Vicksburg are protected, or feel as if they were, such a screeching of shot and shell must prove a terror to them, and my heart has not yet grown so hardened that I can not feel for them.

There is a good deal of complaint, in our company at least, about the coffee we get. It seems not quite so good as that we have had, and I suspect it has been adulterated by somebody who is willing to get rich at the expense of the poor soldier, whose curses will be heaped strong and heavy on anybody who deteriorates any of his rations, and particularly his coffee. The only time a soldier can not drink his coffee is when the use of that ration is suspended. In fact, there is nothing so refreshing as a cup of hot coffee, and no sooner has a marching column halted, than out from each haversack comes a little paper sack of ground coffee, and a tin cup or tin can, with a wire bale, to be filled from the canteen and set upon a fire to boil. The coffee should not be put in the water before it boils. At first I was green enough to do so, but soon learned better, being compelled to march before the water boiled, and consequently lost my coffee. I lost both the water and the coffee. It takes but about five minutes to boil a cup of water, and then if you have to march you can put your coffee in and carry it till it is cool enough to sip as you go. Even if we halt a dozen times a day, that many times will a soldier make and drink his coffee, for when the commissary is full and plenty, we may drink coffee and nibble crackers from morning till night. The aroma of the first cup of coffee soon sets the whole army to boiling; and the best vessel in which to boil coffee for a soldier is a common cove oyster can, with a bit of bent wire for a bale, by which you can hold it on a stick over the fire, and thus avoid its tipping over by the burning away of its supports.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 19TH.—For a month we have been watching our enemy vigilantly, and a panorama, consisting of a great variety of war scenes, has, during that time, passed before us. We have had charging, digging rifle-pits, blowing up forts and firing all sizes of cannon, to say nothing of percussion shells, spherical case shot, time shells, parrot, grape, cannister, shrapnel, etc., the memory of which will be vivid to all, both blue and gray, who have seen the show around Vicksburg.

The terrible noises, too, that have rung in our ears, must echo for years to come. I may add our endurance of this southern sun, at times being short of rations, and at no time out of danger, yet all the time nearly uncomplaining—every one trying to make the best of it, and all as merry as the situation would admit. Each day some of the boys have come in relating new discoveries on reconnoisance, and I do not think there is a foot of ground about these hills that has not been explored, a well or spring that has not been tested, or a single object of interest of any kind that has not been worked till it grew stale. Then each man has had his peculiar view of how a siege like this ought to be conducted—that is, from the standpoint of rank and file.

However, we are all agreed that the quiet man in command of our forces is still able to anticipate the requirements of our situation. I call him quiet, for that is just what he is. There is no dash or glitter about him, but he is marked by a steady nerve, and piercing glance that seems to be always on the alert. Many a second lieutenant has fallen a victim to the sharpshooter because of his fresh uniform, while officers of more experience have escaped under slouched hats and old blouses. There seems to be no limit, however, to the experience of some of them.

A cook of the 96th Ohio happened to be cooking beans the other day, when Gen. A. J. Smith, commanding a division of the 13th Army Corps, came around on camp inspection. After being properly saluted by the cook, the general began a colloquy as follows:

Gen. Smith.—What are you cooking?

The Cook.—Beans, sir.

General Smith.—How long do you cook beans ?

The Cook.—Four hours, sir.

Gen. Smith (with a look of withering scorn).—Four hours! You cook ‘em six hours!

That cook’s beans were tender enough that day.

“Once again the fire of hell
Rained the rebel quarters,
With scream of shot and burst of shell,
And bellowing of the mortars.”

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 18TH.—I was relieved from guard at 9 A.M. and returned to camp. There has been very heavy firing all day, and it is rumored that Pemberton will try to break through our lines; but if he tries that game he will find it dangerous enough. It is no easy matter to climb over the bulwark of steel now encircling this city.

The weather is getting altogether too hot for comfort. A few sun-strokes have occurred, but without proving fatal so far. One poor fellow even dropped at midnight, when I presume the surgeon’s diagnosis must have been—moonstruck. There are more ways than one of shirking a battle, for which purpose some are even willing to part with a finger or toe.

If the rebels are short of provisions, their ammunition seems to hold out, for they are quite liberal in their distribution of it. But when Sherman begins firing from the east, McClernand from the west, McPherson from the rear, and the mortars from the north, then look out for big fire-works. The cannon are all pointed towards the town, but some of the shells fall far short of it. When these burst in mid-air, we can see a small round cloud of smoke left behind, and then there is a sharp lookout for fragments to be scattered in every direction. Our artillerymen have had such good practice during the siege, that they can generally drop a shell wherever they want to.

Boys at the front have time for sport, which is not to be interrupted even by stray shells. I noticed four of our boys playing euchre, when a shell from the enemy came careering just above their heads ; but they treated it with entire indifference. Another group I saw playing “seven-up” under a blanket caught at the four corners in the hammers of muskets stuck in the ground, and thereby forming a very good shelter from the sun. A shell burst right over this group, scattering its fragments all around, but even this failed to disturb the game, further than to call forth the timely comment, “Johnny passes.”

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 17TH—I was detailed to the charge of a squad of men to guard rebel prisoners in the corral at Logan‘s headquarters. They were not hard to guard, for they think themselves in pretty good hands, and surely they seem to get better grub here than in their own lines. Some of them are deserters, and upon such I look with contempt. I am ready to share my rations with an honest prisoner, but have no use for a man who enlists in a cause, and then deserts his comrades when they get into a tight place.

If what they say is true, the garrison over there is already familiar with mule meat and scanty meal rations. If they have had to eat mules such as we have killed in the trenches, I pity them, for they are on a tough job. Several cows which I suppose had served families there with milk, we had to kill for browsing too close to our lines.

I am pretty well convinced Pemberton would not hold out much longer but for the help he expects from Johnston. If that, however, is all the hope they have, they might as well surrender at once, for if Johnston should come, he can not do them any good.

A ball struck a little drummer boy a while ago, and he limped off, whimpering: “I wouldn’t care a darn, but my other leg has been shot already.” Some of the boys went to his assistance, and then they had to hurry towards the hospital, for the rebels got range of them and began firing quite briskly.

I was quite amused to see one of the prisoners brought in today, eating his supper. We gave him all he could eat, and that was no small amount. But he was certainly a very hungry man, and if he is a fair sample of those remaining in Vicksburg, Uncle Sam’s commissary will have to endure quite a burden, for after the surrender, no doubt, Grant will have to feed them all.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 16TH.—We were relieved before daylight, and returned to camp pretty tired. I did not feel well last night, and having had no chance to sleep, I am a little the worse for wear this morning.

There was not much firing done during the night, but we had to keep a good lookout, as there are apprehensions of an outbreak. I do not often go star-gazing, but last night I sat and watched the beauty above. Daytime is glorious, but when night unfurls her banner over care-worn thousands among these hills, and the stars come out from their hiding places, our thoughts seek loftier levels. It was just as though one day had died, and another was born to take its place. Not a breeze stirred the foliage, except as fanned by the whirling shells. My thoughts were of home, and of the dear sister there, bedridden, with but little hope of health again. Her dearest wish, I know, is to see her only brother once more before she passes away to that heavenly peace for which she is destined. Through these terrible two years past, thoughts of home and a safe return to an unbroken family circle, have been my constant guiding star.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 15TH.—Our regiment went into the rifle-pits again before daylight, at which time the din of musketry and cannonading from both sides had begun, and will cease only when darkness covers the earth.

We are now so close to Fort Hill that a hard tack was tossed into it by one of our boys, and then held up on a bayonet there, to satisfy us of its safe arrival. Some of the boys have become reckless about the rifle-pits, and are frequently hit by rebel bullets. Familiarity breeds a contempt of danger.

Some of the boys wounded at Raymond have got back to us, and are now ready again to do their part. They are, however, more timid than we who have been at the front so long. It is fun to see these new-corners dodge the balls as they zip along. But they, too, will soon become accustomed to flying lead.

Several of the boys have been hit, but not hurt badly, as the balls were pretty nearly spent before reaching them. Those returning from Raymond say they have marked the graves there, but I fear it will not be long before the last vestige of the resting places of our late comrades will be lost.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 14TH—Sunday. No bells to ring us to church. I wish we had one day in seven for rest and freedom from care; but there is no such thing now for the soldier. It is shoot, shoot, dodge, dodge, from morning to night, without cessation, except when we are asleep. When the time comes, we can lie down and sleep soundly all night, right under our cannon, firing over us all the time, without disturbing us in the least. But let the long roll be sounded—every man is up at the first tap—for that sound we know means business for us.

Occasionally the rebs plant a mortar in some out of the way spot and drop a shell or two into our midst; but a few well directed shots from our big guns at the rear soon settle them. These rebels obey very well.

We have several large siege guns, lately planted in the rear of our division, which it took ten yoke of oxen to haul, one at a time, to their places. I had been told that the balls from these guns could be seen on their journey, and could not believe it until I put myself in range of the monsters, just behind them, when I found I could see the balls distinctly, as they flew across the hills towards Vicksburg. These guns are nine-inch calibre and they are about twelve feet long. They are monsters, and their voices are very loud.

Sunday is general inspection day, and the officers passed through our quarters at 10 A.M., finding our guns and accoutrements bright and clean. If any young lady at the North needs a good housekeeper, she can easily be accommodated by making a requisition on the 20th Ohio. In fact we can all do patchwork, sew on buttons, make beds and sweep ; but I do not think many of us will follow the business after the war is done, for the ” relief ” always so anxiously looked for by the soldiers must then come.

I heard one of our boys—a high private in the rear rank— lament that he was
“Only a private. and who will care
When I shall pass away?”
Poor lad, he was in a sad way ! But it was mere homesickness that ailed him. If dissatisfied with his position as a private, let him wait, for if he survives the war, he will, no doubt, have a chance to be captain of an infant-ry company.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 13TH.—The siege continues with increased fury, and the boom of cannon announces the sacrifice of more lives. Instead of any cessation the artillery plays upon the city almost every moment throughout the day. The variety of the projectiles becomes greater. The shrapnel, I think, must be most formidable to the enemy. It is a shell filled with eighty small balls, which, when the shell is exploded, scatter in every direction. It makes a fearful buzzing sound as it flies—a warning to seek cover, if such can be found. Besides this there are the parrot, cannister, grape and solid shot. The cannister and grape are also cases wherein are enclosed a number of small balls. But the least fragment from an exploded shell is sufficient to wound or kill.

            I have a great curiosity to see the court house at Vicksburg. It stands on a hill, and seems to be the target for many cannon. There is a Confederate flag waving from it defiantly. A proud day it will be when we haul it down and raise in its stead the stars and stripes, never to be displaced again. The buildings in the city must, by this time, be pretty well riddled with shot and shell. The women, it seems, did not all leave the city before the bombardment began, and I suppose they have determined to brave it out. Their sacrifices and privations are worthy of a better cause, and were they but on our side how we would worship them. It is rumored in camp that Grant is getting reinforcements from the eastern army. I have a great desire to see them, for while we have always thought them to be no less brave, they are said to be better clothed and equipped than the western boys. In fact, from the eastern army, during the last year, the standing report among western boys has been merely such catch phrases as “Bull Run,” “Burnside Crossing the Rappahannock,” “All Quiet on the Potomac.” Perhaps such reports or their substance will continue to fill the headlines of news from those departments until Lincoln commissions Grant commander of the whole army. Should that occur, one grand move forward will be made and the Southern confederacy will be crushed forever.

            We are doing all we can to expedite the glorious victory awaiting us here, yet there are grumblers in the North who are complaining of our slow progress, and treasonable articles are published in some papers that come to us from the North, intended to discourage the soldiers. Why don’t Grant move? If we had all those grumblers in Vicksburg, I fancy they would soon find something from Grant was moving quite briskly. But Grant does not idle away his time himself, nor let his men be idle. If the people of the North will but back us up with their aid and confidence, we shall feel well repaid for all the sufferings we endure here, staring death in the face, and standing like a solid wall between their homes and danger.

                                    Let not a murmur meet the ear,
                                                Nor discontent have sway;
                                    Let not a sullen brow appear
                                                Through all the camp to-day.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 12TH.—We expect to be paid off soon, as the pay-rolls are now being made out. Money cannot do us much good here among the hills, but we can send it home. Many a family is dependent upon the thirteen dollars a month drawn here by the head of it.

            When the war is over, how many soldiers will be unable to earn, even their own living, to say nothing of that of their families, all on account of wounds or disability incurred in the service. I have heard many a one say he would rather be shot dead in a fight than lose a limb, and thus be compelled to totter through life disabled. But I know our country will be too magnanimous to neglect its brave defenders who have fought its battles till they have become incapacitated for further service. I know we are not fighting for a country that will let its soldiers beg for a living.

            We have now but a year left of the term of our enlistment, and the boys are already talking about what they will do. Some say they will stay till peace comes, no matter how long may be the delay, and I think the majority are of this mind. A few, however, will seek their homes when their time runs out, should this war last so long, and the Lord and rebel bullets spare them. For myself, I shall stay, if I can, till the stars and stripes float in triumph once more over all the land.

Here are a few lines :

                                    TO COMPANY E.
            You started at your country’s call
                        To tread the fields of blood and strife,
            Consenting to give up your all
                        All, even to your very life.
            And many storms of leaden rain
                        And iron hail have been your lot;
            While yet among the number slain
                        The dear ones North have read you not.

            Oh, may you safely yet return
                        To those who wait your coming, too;
            May their fond hearts not vainly yearn
                        To greet you when the war is through.
            But, though I wish you back in peace,
                        ‘Tis not a peace that quite disarms
            ‘Tis not a full and sure release,
                        You simply take up other arms.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

            JUNE 11TH.—Stayed in camp to-day with the exception of about an hour. The rebs have succeeded in planting a mortar, which has sent a few big shells into our quarters. This sort of practice did not last long, for a hundred guns around our line soon roared the mortar to silence. But one shell dropped near my tent, buried itself in the earth, and exploded, scattering dirt for yards around and leaving a hole big enough to bury a horse. Another fell on top of the hill and rolled down, crashing through a tent. The occupants not being at home it failed to find a welcome.

            These shells are visitors we do not care to see in camp, for their movements are so clumsy they are apt to break things as they go. However, they are rather rare, while the bullets are so frequent that we have almost ceased to notice them. Their flights remind us of the dropping of leaves and twigs from the trees around us. The balls of lead as they fall are found bent and flattened in every conceivable shape. A friend from the 96th Ohio, on a visit to me, as he walked over, met a rebel bullet which took a piece out of his arm.

From the diary of Osborn H. Oldroyd

JUNE 10TH.—The heat of the sun increases, and we must improve our quarters. Accordingly a part of the day has been spent in cutting cane and building bunks with it on the side of the hill. Such improvements protect us better from the sun.



Last night I sat on the top of a hill awhile, watching the mortar shells flying into the city from the river. High into the air they leaped, and, like falling stars, dropped, exploding among the houses and shaking even the very hills. The lighted fuse of each shell could be seen as it went up and came down, and occasionally I have seen as many as three of them in the air at once. The fuse is so gauged as to explode the shell within a few feet of the ground. The destruction being thus wrought in the city must be very great. We learn from prisoners that the inhabitants are now living in caves dug out of the sides of the hills. Alas! for the women, children and aged in the city, for they must suffer, indeed, and, should the siege continue several months, many deaths from sickness as well as from our shells, must occur. I am sure Grant has given Pemberton a chance to remove from Vicksburg all who could not be expected to take part in the fearful struggle.

We have been looking for rain to cool the air and lay the dust, and this afternoon we were gratified by a heavy shower.

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