MARCH 17TH.—Col. Porter has resigned his provost marshal-ship, and is again succeeded by Capt. Godwin, a Virginian, and I like him very well, for he is truly Southern in his instincts.
MARCH 17TH.—Col. Porter has resigned his provost marshal-ship, and is again succeeded by Capt. Godwin, a Virginian, and I like him very well, for he is truly Southern in his instincts.
Monday, 17th—We received orders to disembark in the morning and everybody is rejoicing, for it is getting very tiresome on the boats—we have been on the boats seven days now. Details of men worked nearly all day at unloading our commissariat. The landing place is nothing but a jelly of mud—there are so many mules, horses and men passing back and forth.
17th. Wrote home. Helped weigh out beef.
Fort Albany, Va., March 17, 1862.
To the family in general:
The Army of the Potomac has moved and left us in the dark; there are not 100 men in the Regt. but what would like to go ahead.
McDowell’s Division, which we once belonged to and then were put out of, and then into it again, and then off, is going to reinforce Burnside’s. The Nelly Baker and Nantasket are down in the stream, with some 20 others, to take troops to some place. What do you think of our defeat at Manassas? We were not whipped, but we did not get a chance to fight.
The talk is that McClellan will be supersceded. I don’t know it as a fact, but it is rumor.
We are about played out writing out here. Like to get letters well enough but don’t like to answer.
Here I shall close.
P. S. Pleaseexcusethewritingwellyouknowitisbaddon’tyouwellwhatdo youthinkofManassas— Leverettbradleyjr
Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, Monday A. M., March 17, 1862. — Cold raw morning; snow at last lying on the ground enough to whiten it. Stormy (rather Aprilish) and bright by turns all day.
Mrs. Beckley (General) called (with another lady) in tears saying her husband, the general, was at home. Had concluded to surrender himself; that she hadn’t seen or heard from him for three months, hoped we would not send him to Columbus, etc., etc. In his letter he pledged his honor not to oppose the United States; to behave as a loyal citizen, etc., etc. I called to see him; found him an agreeable old gentleman of sixty; converses readily and entertainingly; told an anecdote of General Jackson capitally; he said, Old Hickory’s hair bristled up, his eyes shot fire, and his iron features became more prominent, as, in a passion, raising both hands, he said (speaking of a postmaster General Beckley wished to retain in office, and who had himself taken no active part against General Jackson but whose clerks had been against the general): “What if the head is still when both hands are at work against me?” — shaking his hands outstretched and in a tearing passion. The lieutenant (then) subsided in the presence of such wrath.
General Beckley thinks western Virginia is given up to us, and that his duty is to go with his home — to submit to the powers that be. I agreed to his views generally and told him I would recommend General Cox to assent to his surrender on the terms proposed.
Sent Captain Zimmerman and company out scouting the woods in our vicinity; Captain Harris out to break up a bushwhacking party he thinks he can surprise.
March 17. It would seem that the people had no thought of evacuating the city until the very last moment. When they saw that the Philistines were upon them they hastily gathered up their valuables and what light articles they could carry on their persons, and fled, leaving their houses, stores and property, just as they stood.
Today the several companies of our regiment moved into the deserted mansions of the Confederate martyrs, which will be our quarters during our stay. Company B went into a two-story brick house on East Front street. It has a pretty flower garden in front, with an orchard, vegetable garden and servants’ quarters in the rear. The house is nicely furnished throughout; the floors, halls and stairs are carpeted, as are the chambers. The front parlor has upholstered furniture, center table, piano, lace curtains, ornaments, gas fixtures, etc. The back parlor is furnished similar to the front, excepting the piano. The basement contains all necessary culinary utensils. I don’t see but we are pretty well fixed, but this is only one of the occasional sunny spots in a soldier’s life. Some of the other companies are quartered in more pretentious and better furnished houses, on Pollock, Craven and Broad streets. We are nicely settled in the fine mansions of the lordly fugitives, who but yesterday ruled these spacious homes and paced the pictured halls. What strange infatuation, bordering on insanity, must have possessed these people, to bring this terrible calamity of war upon themselves, thus becoming voluntary exiles and strangers from their homes and property.
Loss and Gain.
An account of stock has been taken, and we are now able to figure up the losses and gains in the great battle. The 25th lost four killed and sixteen wounded. The whole Federal loss was 100 killed and 498 wounded. The enemy’s loss in killed and wounded is not known, but probably was not large, as they were behind their works, and all their killed and wounded were put aboard the cars which were waiting on the track. They lost about 500 men, taken prisoners, all the guns in their works, all their field batteries, upwards of 100 guns; besides all their horses, camp equipage, a large amount of ammunition, 4000 muskets and a large quantity of commissary and quartermaster’s stores. They also lost three steamboats, one of which they ran ashore and burned, besides quite a quantity of cotton on the wharves which they had used in the erection of batteries.
Alexandria, Va., March 17, 1862.
Dear Cousin L.:—
The “grand army” has at last moved. Our brigade left Hall’s Hill at daylight last Monday morning and marched to Fairfax Court House. The whole army advanced the same day. On arriving at Fairfax we heard that our cavalry had been to Manassas Junction and found it evacuated and the barracks of the rebel army a mass of smoking ruins. The three terrible forts at Centreville were mounted with pine cannon and sheet iron mortars, so the great Manassas humbug is exploded. “Now what is to be done?” was the question we asked as soon as it was satisfactorily ascertained that these reports were true.
We rested at Fairfax, waiting for another rainy day, which did not come till Saturday. Then we marched to Alexandria. Our regiment has never moved yet without marching in the rain. It commenced raining just as we marched out of camp on Monday and rained till we halted at Fairfax. We had a hard march. After we had gone some three or four miles the men began to throw off blankets, coats and knapsacks, and towards night the road was strewed with them. I saw men fall down who could not rise without help. The rain soaked everything woolen full of water and made our loads almost mule loads. As for myself, I stood it well, at least as well as any, but I never was so tired before. I am acting as regimental bugler, but I could not blow a note when we stopped at night. We pitched our picket tents which we carry with us on the ground lately occupied by a secesh regiment. We built fires, boiled our coffee and roasted our bacon and then lay down on the ground to sleep. Oh, how we slept! The reveille at sunrise woke us, stiff and lame, but the sun came up warm and clear and a couple of days rest made us all right. Then on Saturday we were ordered to Alexandria. We marched eighteen miles, every step in the rain, but we had a good road and the men stood it much better than they did the other march. We halted at the camp of the Irish brigade under command of General T F. Meagher. They had gone to Centreville and we took possession of their camp and made ourselves as comfortable as possible. I was fortunate enough to get into a line officer’s tent. There were ten of us in a tent designed for one, but we built a fire, made coffee, swept off the floor and “coiled up” for the night. Oh, how we did steam! It was better than any sweat ever advocated by hydropaths. This morning we had to leave, as the Sixty-ninth was coming back to camp. We moved over on a hillside near Fort Ellsworth, and about half a mile from the river and the same from Alexandria.
General McDowell’s corps, comprising his own and Generals McCall’s, Smith’s and Porter’s divisions, in all about sixty thousand men, are here waiting for transports to take us off on another expedition. The destination is of course unknown to us, but we shall in all probability be sent against what remains of the rebel army between here and Richmond. There were one hundred and fifty vessels here yesterday, and troops embarking all the time. I think our time will not come for two or three days at least.
This is naturally a beautiful country, but either the war has made sad havoc here or the few inhabitants are greatly deficient in enterprise, for it looks almost like a desert now. There are a few splendid buildings here, but the majority are miserable huts. I called yesterday at the house of a northern man who had married a southern wife and adopted southern institutions. He had a good farm and excellent buildings all under the protection of the government. He has proved a loyal citizen, although a slaveholder, but his wife and daughter are rabid secesch. The daughter is a fine looking young woman, about twenty, I should think, and quite sociable. She commenced conversation by inquiring if I thought it was right to try to force the South to remain in the Union against their will. Of course I did, you know, and I was obliged to say so. She waxed quite warm in the defense of the rebels, but finally stopped by remarking abruptly that we had better change the subject, as we were friends now but would not be if we continued to talk about the war. She was in the Mansion House where Ellsworth was shot at the time of his death, and said, “He ought to have been shot, for he had no business to meddle with a flag that a man put on his own dwelling.” It amused me to see a woman so gritty, but, if she does nothing but talk, I suppose she must be allowed to do that. She was very different from one I met when I was on picket duty in January. She was born in New York, but had lived here so long it seemed like her home. She, too, was very sociable and seemed to think there might be soldiers who were not ruffians. I believe you asked in a former letter if the government furnished postage or stationery. It does not. We furnish our own, and it is often hard to get. We’re not much troubled with peddlers now, for we have not received any pay since December 31st, and money is too scarce to offer inducements to that gentry.
March 17th.—Back to the Congaree House to await my husband, who has made a rapid visit to the Wateree region. As we drove up Mr. Chesnut said: “Did you see the stare of respectful admiration E. R. bestowed upon you, so curiously prolonged? I could hardly keep my countenance.” “Yes, my dear child, I feel the honor of it, though my individual self goes for nothing in it. I am the wife of the man who has the appointing power just now, with so many commissions to be filled. I am nearly forty, and they do my understanding the credit to suppose I can be made to believe they admire my mature charms. They think they fool me into thinking that they believe me charming. There is hardly any farce in the world more laughable.”
Last night a house was set on fire; last week two houses. “The red cock crows in the barn!” Our troubles thicken, indeed, when treachery comes from that dark quarter.
When the President first offered Johnston Pettigrew a brigadier-generalship, his answer was: “Not yet. Too many men are ahead of me who have earned their promotion in the field. I will come after them, not before. So far I have done nothing to merit reward,” etc. He would not take rank when he could get it. I fancy he may cool his heels now waiting for it. He was too high and mighty. There was another conscientious man—Burnet, of Kentucky. He gave up his regiment to his lieutenant-colonel when he found the lieutenant-colonel could command the regiment and Burnet could not maneuver it in the field. He went into the fight simply as an aide to Floyd. Modest merit just now is at a premium.
William Gilmore Simms is here; read us his last poetry; have forgotten already what it was about. It was not tiresome, however, and that is a great thing when people will persist in reading their own rhymes.
I did not hear what Mr. Preston was saying. “The last piece of Richmond news,” Mr. Chesnut said as he went away, and he looked so fagged out I asked no questions. I knew it was bad.
At daylight there was a loud knocking at my door. I hurried on a dressing-gown and flew to open the door. “Mrs. Chesnut, Mrs. M. says please don’t forget her son. Mr. Chesnut, she hears, has come back. Please get her son a commission. He must have an office.” I shut the door in the servant’s face. If I had the influence these foolish people attribute to me why should I not help my own ? I have a brother, two brothers-in-law, and no end of kin, all gentlemen privates, and privates they would stay to the end of time before they said a word to me about commissions. After a long talk we were finally disgusted and the men went off to the bulletin-board. Whatever else it shows, good or bad, there is always woe for some house in the killed and wounded. We have need of stout hearts. I feel a sinking of mine as we drive near the board.
March 17.—The United States gunboat Cimerone, was launched at Bordentown, N. J., this day. She was built by Capt D. S. Mershon.— N. Y. Tribune.
—The United States Senate confirmed the following nominations for brigadier-generals of volunteers:
Major William F. Barry, chief of artillery, attached to Gen. McClellan’s staff; Willis A. Gorman of Minnesota; Col. Schuyler Hamilton; Thomas L. Price, member of Congress from Missouri; Major James N. Palmer, Fifth cavalry; Lieut.-Col. Wm. H. Emory, Sixth cavalry; Major Andrew J. Smith, Fifth cavalry; Marcena L. Patrick of New-York; Isaac F. Quinby of New-York; Orris S. Ferry of Connecticut; Hiram G. Berry of Maine.
The following brigade-surgeons, all of Pennsylvania, were confirmed:
James D. Shawbridge, R, B. McKay, George L. Kemblc, J. H. Taylor, George L. Pancoast, C. F. H. Campbell, F. H. Gross, Washington J. Dufee. —A petition was presented from citizens of NewYork, asking Congress to stop the agitation of the slavery question, and attend to the restoration of the Union.
March 16 — At twelve o’clock last night an alarm reached us that the pickets were fighting near Middletown, two miles from our camp. We were ordered to get ready to march at a moment’s notice. The alarm was false, and we remained at an old house till day, but did not unroll our blankets nor sleep the remainder of the night. Early this morning crossed Cedar Creek, which is the boundary between Frederick and Shenandoah, and moved about two miles up the pike from the creek bridge and camped. The enemy did not advance farther than Newtown yesterday.
Sunday March 16th 1862
Has not rained today. A Regt passed this morning with Band playing &c just as people were going to church. Col Dutton had his horse sent down and he left for the Camp (as he said) cured. Col Durkee left early this morning. Col Dutton had an ambrotype of his family, self, wife & five children. I noticed that he was very attentive to it this morning. We think him a very fine warm hearted man. It is probable that he will be called into active service very soon. Maj McCamby of Oswego and Q Master Francis of Bridghampton LI called today, they belong to the 81 NY Regt.
The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.
MARCH 16TH.—I omitted to note in its place the gallant feat of Commodore Buchanan with the iron monster Merrimac in Hampton Roads. He destroyed two of the enemy’s best ships of war. My friends, Lieutenants Parker and Minor, partook of the glory, and were severely wounded.
Sunday, 16th—We are still lying on the boats waiting for orders. Two gunboats came down from Pittsburg Landing. The weather is very disagreeable, with rain every day and rather cold besides.
To Mrs. Lyon
Mound City, March 16, 1862.—We have not gone yet. The 8th is at or near New Madrid, and there has been some fighting down there. The situation there is about this: The rebels have fortified Island No. 10 in the Mississippi river, about fifteen miles above New Madrid, and occupy it now. They also had a fort at or near New Madrid. This fort was commanded by our artillery all day last Thursday, and on that night, during a severe thunderstorm we had here, they evacuated it and our troops occupied it. We expect every day to hear that our gunboats have cleaned out from the island, as it is not a strong position. The infantry have had but little to do, it being (as I always told you the battles along the river would be) an artillery fight. One captain in the 10th Illinois was killed by the rebel pickets on Wednesday night, through his own folly and imprudence, by going unnecessarily near the rebel lines. I never shall get killed that way. When I peril my life it will be where some good is to be accomplished by it. We had a report here on Friday that our regiment had been in and got cut up, but I do not believe it has been under fire at all.
16th. Sunday. Helped clean up in and about the quarters of Co. “H.” Heard the Chaplain preach from “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he reap.” Used strong language against the drunkenness and profanity of officers especially, and of the men. Spoke of the increase of immorality—sad, but true.
Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, March 16, 1862.
Dear Uncle: — I am in most respects pleasantly fixed here. I am here in command of nine companies of the Twenty-third, one section (two guns) of an artillery company (thirty men) and one company of cavalry. We are quartered in the courthouse, churches, and deserted dwellings. It is near the spurs of the Alleghany Mountains, which about twenty miles from here are filled with militia. A few regulars and bushwhackers are just in front of us. We are kept on the alert all the time by such events as the one referred to in the enclosed notes. As a general rule, we get the better of the bushwhackers in these affairs. There is no hesitation on our part in doing what seems to be required for self-protection. Since writing the note enclosed, have done a good deal towards punishing the cowardly bushwhackers.
We have April weather, for the most part — thunder-storms, rain, and shine. Today we are having a winter snow-storm. Since the rumored abandonment of Manassas, we have been notified to be in constant readness to move. My letters will probably be more irregular than usual after we get started, but all important events occurring with us will be sent you by telegraph. We take the wires with us. Love to all.
R. B. Hayes.
We Attend Church.
March 16. Today, for the first time since we left home, Chaplain James held services in a meeting-house. We occupied the large house of the Presbyterian society, which was well filled with a miscellaneous congregation of soldiers, sailors, citizens and negroes, both men and women. Col. Upton had improvised a choir, and, with the aid of the organ, led the singing. The chaplain preached a very good discourse, and I hardly knew which felt the best, he or the colonel. There are several other meetinghouses here, which are or have been occupied by the Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Catholic and negro societies. It would seem that this people have sometime been a God-fearing people, but since Jeff. Davis inaugurated a new regime, every man has done that which seemed good in his own sight. Hence we are here on this little excursion.
Sunday, 16, A. M. — Another change — a snow-storm; March fuss and fury. Received a note from Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, directing vigilance and to be in readiness for an attack by the enemy or for a forward movement, — the abandonment by the Rebels of eastern Virginia on the Potomac rendering it likely that the enemy will come here or we go there!! . . .
An observation from 2012: The march back to Alexandria was likely on the 15th. Please see discussion in Ron Baumgarten’s comment below. – Mike Goad, 3-18-2012
Alexandria, 16th.—Received orders last night to march at 4 this A. M. Simultaneously with the receipt of the order came a northeast wind and heavy clouds. The clouding up kept pace with our preparations to march, and such a day of rain I have not witnessed in Virginia. To-night, after a march of twelve miles through mud and rain, the men lie out without shelter, except the little tents debris, which in time of rain are good for nothing. I shudder when I think of them, exposed, after a hard day’s march, to the driving storm. And whilst they are thus exposed, I feel almost guilty that I am in a fine hotel, by a fine coal fire, “comfortable and cozy.” But sickness brought me here. For three nights I have not slept, and last night I had an attack of cholera morbus. This morning, being sick and worn out, I asked permission to return to Vienna, (two and a half miles), and come in by rail. Permission was denied me. Sick or well, I must march, and look after the management of ambulances, and transportation of hospital stores. Arose at three o’clock, working part of time, and the rest cholera-morbus-ing till four. Started with the Brigade, but at Fairfax, for the first time since I entered the army, had to fall out. Went to bed, slept two hours, arose, took a cup of coffee, mounted my horse, and pressing my way through dense masses of the army for five or six miles, overtook the Brigade. When within a few miles of this city I was so sick that I insisted on being permitted to seek lodgings out of the weather, and having received permission, came on here. Have got dry and warm, and am now feeling better. I am gratified to learn to-night that my two poisoned boys are doing well, though it will be a long time before they entirely recover.
When I left Fairfax this morning the scene was grand beyond description. The soldiery, densely filling the road, leading from the town, had been pouring steadily forward for more than two hours. I looked back, and as far as the eye could reach down the two roads coming in, the dense body blocked them in both directions. The three roads presenting a long blue line rendered more striking by the glare of the bayonets, which at a short distance looked like a solid body of glittering steel over the blue bulk below. How far back the lines extended, I could not see, but I pressed forward for six miles, through the dense crowd. Verily, the army is now in motion.
16th.—’Tis Sunday morning. Returned to my regiment this morning; found all quiet. No one yet knows our destination. But from the fact that some forty river steamers await us, we infer that we are not going to sea. A singular fact, worthy of note: On our arrival here to embark, not a steamer had coaled, and there was no coal to take on!!— Why is this? ‘Tis terrible to even suspect that treason may be at work in the very heads of our departments.
(March 16, 1862)
On the 14th the cavalry, accompanied by the Fifty-seventh, started along the Orange and Alexandria railroad to Cedar Run. They had a brush with the enemy’s pickets in the evening near Cedar Run, driving them off the ground. On the 15th the infantry advanced to Catlett’s Station, where they exchanged shots for the first time with the rebs. Two men were lost by the temporary bridges giving way, and I suppose they were picked up by the rebel cavalry.
General Stoneman, finding out what every one believed, that the rebel army had wholly disappeared from our front, returned to camp, and the following day left us. He was very complimentary to Zook, and gave him the following note, written on the field note book of his adjutant.
Headquarters cavalry corps,
Army of the Potomac, March 16, 1862.
Colonel Zook, Fifty-seventh New York Volunteers: Allow me to return you and the officers of your fine regiment, my sincere thanks for the very handsome manner in which each and all performed the severe duty imposed upon them, and more particularly that portion employed upon scouts and advance guard. I shall take the first occasion to express my sentiments to the general commanding. Please express my sentiments to your command and much oblige.
Yours Very Truly,
Genl. Geo. Stoneman,
Chief of cavalry, commanding.
_______Note: This part of the “diary” is more of a recollection than a day by day diary. I am splitting it up for posting on Daily Observations from the Civil War at what appear to be appropriate points; these may differ somewhat from actual historical records.
March 16th, 1862.—The entire family wrote to Brother Amos this morning, he will surely find out he has a young daughter. As scarce as paper is Eddie had to have a whole sheet to write his letter on. He looked so in earnest that I asked what he was writing? He said, “I is sayin’, Father come home and wear de beautiful cloes.” He admires the gray and gold as much as the rest of us do.
March 16.—This day Gen. Garfield defeated a body of rebels, intrenched on the summit of the Cumberland Mountains, in Eastern Tennessee. The National troops, numbering six hundred men, detailed in about equal numbers from the Forty-second and Fortieth Ohio, and Twenty-second Kentucky regiments and McLaughlin’s cavalry, left their camp on the fourteenth, destined for Pound Gap. That point was reached to-day after a march of thirty-seven miles, performed in some thing less than two days. The enemy were taken by surprise, dislodged from their stronghold, and driven routed and discomfited from the field. The entire camp, with its equipage, consisting of numerous log-huts, canvas tents, subsistence stores, wagons, and all the trappings of camp life, together with some three hundred squirrel rifles, fell into the hands of the Unionists. In the absence of means of transportation, all but what the troops could carry on their backs was submitted to the flames. It was a brilliant success, and the entire detachment returned without loss or damage to a man.—(Doc. 96.)
—This day a battalion of the Fourth Illinois regiment had a skirmish with a squadron of rebel cavalry, near Pittsburgh Landing, resulting in the defeat of the latter with some loss. Four of the Nationals were wounded.—The bark Glen, which had been blockaded in the harbor of Beaufort N. C, for some time, was set on fire by the rebels, and completely destroyed.
—The Nashville (Tenn.) Times suspended publication, owing to the restriction of its “independence” by Gov. Andrew Johnson.—N. Y. Times, March 28.
—Gen. Wright, Commander of the Department of the Pacific, instituted martial law in San Francisco, and issued an order dated February second, by which Major Hiram Leonard, of the United States Army, is appointed Provost Marshal.— N. Y. Herald, March 28.
15th.—Our army has fallen back to the Rappahannock, thus giving up the splendid Valley and Piedmont country to the enemy. This, I suppose, is right, but it almost breaks our hearts to think of it. Winchester was occupied last Wednesday! Lord, how long shall our enemies prosper? Give us grace to bear our trials.
Saturday Night.—Spent to-day at the hospital. Heard of the shelling of Newbern, N. C., and of its fall. My heart sickens at every acquisition of the Federals. No further news from Arkansas. Yesterday evening I went to see the body of our dear Bishop; cut a piece of his hair; kissed his forehead, and took my last look at that revered face.
March 15 — This morning the enemy advanced with cavalry and artillery. We put our battery in position at our camp on a hill half a mile above Newtown. We fired some eight or ten rounds; then fell back to Cedar Creek. Quartered in an old house on the hillside near Cedar Creek bridge.