A Soldier’s Diary — David Lane.

Camp near Lovetsville, Va., Oct. 28th.

We bade farewell to Pleasant Valley, and started for the land of “Dixie” quite unexpectedly to us privates. Orders were issued on Saturday to the different companies to have their things packed and be ready to move at daybreak next morning. We were aroused at three o’clock, prepared and ate our breakfast, and at five o’clock were on the march. It had rained some during the night, and morning gave promise of a rainy day. Well did it fulfill its promise. About eight o’clock a drizzling rain set in, which continued until about one o’clock, when the wind changed to the north, increasing in violence until it blew a gale, which continued until morning, raining incessantly. The north winds here are very cold, and the poor soldiers, marching or standing all day in the rain, with sixty rounds of ammunition, three days’ rations, knapsacks and blankets on their backs, passed a very uncomfortable day. But they bore it uncomplainingly, and when, about sundown, we pitched our little “dog tents” on the soaked and muddy ground with shouts and merry jests, we made a break for the nearest fence, and soon each company had a pile of dry chestnut rails, with which we kept a roaring fire until morning. Many of the men were wet to the skin, and, too cold to sleep, could be seen at any hour of the night in circles round their blazing campfires, talking over past scenes or future prospects. As I passed from group to group through the brigade, I noticed a feeling of discontent, caused by a lack of confidence in our leaders. The men seemed to feel we are being outgeneraled; that Lee’s army, and not Richmond, should be the objective point; that the rebellion can never be put down until that army is annihilated. When I returned to our company the boys had arranged it all—the President is to retire all generals, select men from the ranks who will serve without pay, and will lead the army against Lee, strike him hard and follow him up until he fails to come to time. So passed this fearful night away.


A Soldier’s Diary, The Story of a Volunteer, David Lane, (17th Mich. Vol. Infantry)
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