25th.—All in the hospital having been made comfortable, we set to work yesterday to take care of ourselves. Arranged our tents, and to-day find ourselves a band of contented Surgeons, assistants and nurses, willing now to remain where we are. The above lines were written at noon, and before the ink dried, an orderly rode [...]
Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.
24th.—To-day General Hooker advanced his picket lines about one mile nearer to Richmond, and the incessant roar of artillery, with the constant volleys of musketry and the cheers of fighting men, wafted to us from beyond the Chickahominy, tell that it is being done, not without cost of the blood and suffering of brave and [...]
(This month was the one in which commenced the retreat, or "change of base,") from before Richmond. The constant call on my time, from the last date to the 25th, prevented my keeping a full journal of events, and I therefore state, generally, that after having been compelled, for three weeks, to witness an amount [...]
8th—I am threatened this morning with dismissal from the service, and my letter of yesterday is held up as a piece of intolerable insolence, and as one good ground for my being dishonorably relieved. Well, I am a Surgeon of a large hospital, in which are about five hundred brave but unfortunate men, who, under [...]
6th.—Yesterday I resumed my duties in hospital actively. On examining the Steward's Department, I found almost nothing to feed the starving five hundred men on my hands —absolutely nothing suitable to feed them on; that for days there had not been a cooking utensil belonging to the hospital, for these five hundred sick, larger than [...]
5th.—This day Franklin's Corps crossed from the left to the right bank of the Chickahominy, and encamped near Goldon's farm. I was again ordered to the charge of Liberty Hall, Surgeon Jayne and most of my assistants withdrawn. This is as I expected. Our wing of the army has crossed, no doubt in anticipation of [...]
2d, 3d, 4th.—Taking my ease and riding about the camps, not having received any further orders as to duty. The army remains in "statu quo," the large hospital, or rather its patients, in suffering state, though Surgeon Jayne seems to be using every effort to improve the condition of things.
June 1st.—Am so much better, to-day, that I have to report for duty. Am instructed to remain at my quarters near the hospital till further orders. I think I can foresee a plan in this to keep me at this hospital during the fights before Richmond. It is a dangerous thing in this army for [...]
13th.—Again pulled up stakes and moved five or six miles, and brought up at Cumberland Landing, on the Pamunkey River. Here, on a large plain, surrounded by an amphitheatre of bluffs, were collected about 70,000 of our troops, presenting from the high ground a most magnificent sight. Spent the afternoon and night here.
12th.—No move to-day. Still encamped near West Point. Selected out our men disabled by sickness, and sent them off to general hospital. This is usually the precurser of active work. The crisis approaches. Let it come.
11th.—No move to-day. Nothing of importance transpiring. Atmosphere filled with all kinds of rumors of battles, but nothing authentic. We are in a beautiful country, and about thirty miles from Richmond. I am not surprised at the enemy having made a point at Warwick Creek. It separates the most God-forsaken, from the most Godly favored [...]
10th.—Another march of fifteen miles to-day. Have seen nothing of the enemy. We hear that General Franklin remained twenty-four hours at West Point before disembarking his troops, permitting the enemy to pass, and then attacking them in the rear! Has delay and procrastination become a chronic disease with our Generals? I hope he will be [...]
9th—We started at 5 this A. M., in pursuit of the retreating army. Found the road lined with fragments of wagons, gun carriages and baggage of the retreating army, showing great haste. At night we are fifteen miles farther on the way to Richmond. I to-day had my knee-pan dislocated by the bite of a [...]
8th.—I spent this day chiefly with other Surgeons and Assistants in getting the wounded to the river and on transports. My former estimate of the casualties was certainly not an exaggeration, and I now think the loss to the two armies is not much short of 18,000. We hear that General Franklin had a fight [...]
7th.—Magruder has not surrendered. This day has been spent by the Surgeons in care of the wounded, and by the troops in rest and rejoicing, at the favorable result of the battle of the 5th, which for a good part of the day threatened us with disaster. The enemy has evacuated Williamsburg, and we are [...]
6th.—It is ascertained to-day that although we were entirely successful yesterday in driving the enemy from the field, and from his entrenchments, we did it at great cost. The aggregate loss to both armies cannot be less than 15,000 in killed and wounded. As far as we can now judge, this loss is about equally [...]
5th.—At 10 o'clock last night, I left the front line of battle, withdrew about half a mile, laid down on the ground by the side of a negro house, and about 2 this A. M., was made amusingly conscious of the fact, that underneath the eve of a roof is not a pleasant place to [...]
May 4th.—Sun-rise brought us the intelligence that during the night the enemy had evacuated Yorktown, and their Warwick Creek fortifications. Now for a chase. Immediately started—whole army in pursuit—and on overtaking the rear guard had considerable fighting through the day, in which, though we get reports of our victories, I am inclined to the opinion [...]
3rd.—Considerable firing, all day, towards Yorktown. Increases towards night. I learn that the heavy firing is mostly by the enemy. Can it be possible that they contemplate an evacuation, and that this firing is to cover their intention? The camp ground we left yesterday is being shelled to-day.
2nd.—Firing to-day in the direction of Yorktown. A report says that a general battle has commenced there. I think not, as we are moving our camp. If there were a fight we should have been ordered to hold ourselves in readiness, (which we have not.) Great rejoicing in camp at the report that Stevens' battery [...]
May 1st.—Awoke this morning, feeling very badly— sick. How I wish I could now be nursed a little by my family. Heard yesterday of the capture of New Orleans. This ought to have made me well, but it has not. Attended to a little business in the afternoon, but was very feeble. Hope to be [...]
30th.—Still quiet to-day, with exception of an occasional report of artillery along the line, and some picket firing. A. B. Millard, Co. G, 5th Wisconsin, brought in to-day, badly wounded in the shoulder. He lived about four hours after being shot. He is the first man killed from that regiment, though it has been eight [...]
29th.—A quiet day. Men seem cheerful and happy, but sickness increases. No medicines nor hospital stores, except those furnished by Sanitary Commission. I must take the liberty of thinking our Medical Director deficient in—something. What should we do now without the Sanitary Commission?
28th.—Marched out this morning, to support our pioneers, who are cutting out a brushy ravine, which has afforded cover to the enemy's pickets, from which to inflict much damage to ours. We met with resistance, and have had quite a brush of a fight over it, but succeeded in driving the enemy out. Here, again, [...]
27th.—We hear very heavy firing to-day, in the direction of Yorktown, but at night, have not learned the purport of it; though there is a rumor that several of our gun boats arrived there this morning, and that the enemy's batteries opened on them. Our whole Division is ordered out at 6 A. M. tomorrow. [...]