by Horatio Nelson Taft

SATURDAY 14

Weather fine yet, dry and not freezing. Nothing new of any great importance. I was in the Office all day. One of the Halls in the Patent Office is used as a Military Hospital, about 100 Soldiers from the Indiana Regts are sick there. Two Dead were carried out today. Prof Sparks, the Linguist, called at our home and spent an hour or two this evening. I have spent the rest of the evening in makeing a foot Stool for the Pew in Church. I work in the Wood House.

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December 14.—The excitement in England relative to the boarding of the Trent continues:

The Liverpool Mercury of this day, states that the Earl of Derby had been consulted by the Government. He approved of its policy in reference to the American difficulty, and suggested to ship-owners to instruct the captains of outward bound ships to signalize any English vessels, that war with America was probable. This suggestion had been strongly approved by the underwriters.

—The Legislative Council of Kentucky, at its session this day, elected the following gentlemen as delegates from Kentucky to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States: Henry C. Burnett; John Thomas; Geo. W. Ewing; Dr. D. V. White; T. L. Burnett; Jno. M. Elliott; S. H. Ford; Thos. B. Monroe; Thos. Johnson; Geo. B. Hodge.—Louisville Nashville Courier, Dec. 16.

—The Green Mountain Cavalry, Vermont Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Lemuel B. Platt, left the encampment at Burlington for the seat of war.

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Daily Times [Leavenworth, Ks],
December 13, 1861

We rather like the new order of things that has been inaugurated by the Commandant of “all the troops in Kansas,” and is so well carried out by the ever-popular Major of the “bloody Second,” W. F. Cloud. Nothing so soon creates disorder, or is more prolific of damaged peepers, than the presence in a city of a large body of soldiers, without a proper restraint upon their actions, while with the discipline necessary to the good conduct of an army, no inconvenience need be felt, and no fears entertained by that portion of our people who have not donned the sword and buckler, and entered the court of Mars.

In the words of the gruff Harney—or at least we have heard them attributed to him—”Military is military, but too much military is military d—nation.” We may be said to have had “too much military” lying around loose for the past few months. Overcoats, a la militaire, black, blue, and grey, met one at every turn; they encumbered the sidewalks and clustered about the hotel stoves, with as much pertinacity as buzzards around a carcass, while the clank of sabres, and the click of irresponsible revolvers, was not calculated to inspire a timid individual with any great degree of confidence. Soldiers are soldiers, but they belong to the camp, and not to the ordinary walks of civil life.

When Gen. McClellan came to the conclusion that the banks of the Potomac, rather than Willard’s and Pennsylvania Avenue, was the place for shoulder straps and gilt buttons, that moment the grand army began to assume more the appearance of an organization than a mere mob, and we are glad that Gen. Denver has arrived at the same conclusion. Give “all the troops in Kansas,” more drill and discipline, and less lager beer and “lightning,” and the difference will be soon perceptible. Martial law for martial men, and a strong pull on the lever of discipline, is the best remedy for devastated poultry yards and Delaware shooting scrapes.

The mild form of military rule inaugurated here will work no inconvenience to those in civil life, while its advantages must even now be apparent to all.

Special Order No. 1, from the Provost Marshal, will be read with gratification by everybody, except, perhaps, such as are, by it, debarred the privilege of firing pistol shots at any and all hours, evidently on the principle of “don’t care a d—n whether anybody is hit or not.” Expressively, Major Cloud has taken the b – – animal by the horns, and we hope he will keep him under.

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Friday, 13th—The Eleventh Iowa is at home now in wedge tents, with four men to a tent, and we are experiencing more changes in living. Irish potatoes have been dropped from our rations and we have no tables now at which to eat our meals. When the orderly sergeant draws the rations, the company cook calls out for every man to come and get his portion—of hardtack, bacon, sugar, salt, pepper, soap and candles. The cook makes the coffee, boils the beans and salt beef (fresh beef twice a week), and at noon calls each man to get his day’s rations of bean soup and meat. The coffee he makes three times a day, each man having his own tin cup for his coffee. Each one prepares his own bacon to suit his taste, many eating it raw between two pieces of hard-tack. Every one has his own plate, knife and fork.

Our regiment received marching orders with ten days’ rations, and so we have to leave just as we were getting settled in our tent camp.

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FRIDAY 13

Another fine cool day, just comfortable with a fire. Was in the office all day. Prof Sparks called upon me and spent sometime. Mr Daws M.C. also brot a Mr Eldridge to me (from Williamstown) to me, who also had a letter of introduction from C R Taft. He is here after office. Think he will have a “hard road to travel.” I have been at work this evening and made a wash bench for the Kitchen. I have plenty of tools and like the exercise. There is no particular war news. It is singular how still a half million of soldiers can keep. But they are all in the field.

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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.

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London, December 13, 1861

Your letter to papa announcing your metamorphosis took us as you may suppose a good deal by surprise. I endorsed it at once. As you say, one of us ought to go, and though of the three as a mere matter of accidental position I might have preferred that it should be John, still, as a question of greater or lesser evil perhaps it’s best that it should be you. If we come home, perhaps I may try it myself a little, but if we stay abroad, or if I come home alone, I do not suppose I shall be compelled to do so. At the same time, as a personal matter, I’m sorry you’re going, especially as I have, since the last shock, become satisfied that we must sooner or later yield the matter. As a mere question of independence I believe the thing to be settled. We cannot bring the South back. As a question of terms and as a means of thoroughly shaking the whole southern system, I ‘m not sorry to see the pressure kept up. . . .

 

You can imagine our existence here. Angry and hateful, as I am of Great Britain, I still can’t help laughing and cursing at the same time as I see the accounts of the talk of our people. What a bloody set of fools they are! How in the name of all that’s conceivable could you suppose that England would sit quiet under such an insult. We should have jumped out of our boots at such a one. And there’s Judge Bigelow parading bad law “at the cannon’s mouth,” and Governor Andrew all cock-a-hoop, and Dana so unaccustomed confident, and Mr. Everett following that “Great authority” George Sumner into a ditch, “blind leader of the blind “! Good God, what’s got into you all? What do you mean by deserting now the great principles of our fathers, by returning to the vomit of that dog Great Britain? What do you mean by asserting now principles against which every Adams yet has protested and resisted? You’re mad, all of you. It’s pitiable to see such idiocy in a nation. There’s the New York Times which I warned only in my last letter against such an act, and its consequences; and now I find the passage erased, and editorial assurances that war was impossible on such grounds. Egad, who knew best, Raymond or I? War is not only possible but inevitable on that ground; and we shall be forced to declare it. England can compel us to appear to act as the aggressors in future as now.

 

Thurlow Weed is here and hard at work on public opinion. He is excessively anxious about the meeting of Congress and thinks we shall be talked into a war. I have had some talk with him and like him very much. . . . The Government has not yet condescended to send us one single word as to the present question. I wonder what Seward supposes a Minister can do or is put here for, if he is n’t to know what to do or to say. It makes papa’s position here very embarrassing. . . .

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December 13.—Major Williams of the Third Kansas regiment, made a dash into Missouri from Mound City, and burned the villages of Papinsville and Butler, (the latter is the county seat of Bates County,) and returned with a large number of refugees, quantities of stock, &c. They had two men killed at Butler. These towns had for a long time been the resort of a guerilla band of rebels.

—This day one of the hardest battles of the war was fought at Allegheny Camp, Pocahontas County, Virginia, between Gen. R. H. Milroy, commanding the Union troops, and Gen. Johnson, of Georgia, commanding the rebels. The fight lasted from daylight till three P. M. The Union loss is about thirty, and the rebel loss over two hundred, including a major and many other officers, and thirty prisoners. Gen. Johnson was shot in the mouth, but not fatally. The Twelfth Georgia regiment suffered the most. Gen. Milroy’s force numbered seven hundred and fifty men from the Ninth and Thirteenth Indiana, and the Twenty-fifth and Thirty-second Ohio and the Second Virginia. Gen. Johnson’s force numbered over two thousand men. The Ninth Indiana regiment fought bravely to the last. After driving the enemy into their barracks no less than five times, the Nationals retired in good order. The rebels set fire to their camp and retreated to Staunton. (Doc. 226.)

—Wm. H. Johnson, of the Lincoln Cavalry, sentenced to be shot as a deserter, was executed to-day. According to his own confession, he enlisted in order to desert, that he might thus reach New Orleans where his mother resides. In carrying out his plan, he got beyond the lines, but mistaking the Federal pickets for these of the enemy, he ran towards them, throwing up his hands and crying that he was a deserter. They assured him that they belonged to “the other side,” took his arms, and said that he must prove his good faith by giving information. Thereupon, he told them that they could capture a party of our men, behind a hill, where they really were, and gave abundant details touching the Nationals strength and position. He was then taken prisoner, and carried within the National lines.

—The British ship Admiral was captured off Savannah, Ga., by the Augusta, while attempting to run in. She adopted a very ingenious mode to escape the scrutiny of the cruisers, by pretending to be one of the stone fleet, into which she had forced herself. But the ruse did not succeed, and the commander of the Augusta, becoming suspicious, ran down to her, and sent her boat aboard. She proved to be an English ship, deeply loaded with coal, for blacksmith’s purposes, and salt—at least that is what appears upon the surface. What lies hidden under this valuable cargo, remains to be seen when an examination is made. The captain of the Admiral stated that he had sailed eighty days ago from Liverpool for Savannah, and was not aware of the existence of blockade.—N. Y Herald, Dec. 20.

—Governor Clairborne F. Jackson, of Missouri, issued a proclamation at New Madrid, to the officers and soldiers of the Missouri State Guard, praising their valor, fortitude, and success, and urging them to continue in the ranks a few weeks longer, their six months’ term of service having expired. He also called upon these of his fellow-citizens who had not joined the army, to do so at once, telling them they should not expect to enjoy the reward, unless they participate in the struggle for victory and independence.—(Doc. 227.)

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December 13 — This morning I bade farewell to my militia comrades, took the stage at the fair ground, and came to Martinsburg. James H. Williams, who is recruiting for the battery and who induced me to join it, came with me. I arrived in Martinsburg this afternoon, and at once came to the camp of the company, which is near the railroad shops. Everything is strange to me, town, country, people, officers, and not a man in the company that I have ever seen or heard of before.

I had an introduction to Captain Chew, who is sick in his tent, but from the little conversation that I had with him, and from the soldier-like appearance of his environments and his gentlemanly deportment, together with the courteous welcome he gave me as a stranger to his command, I am almost convinced already that what I have done to-day will in the end prove to have been a prudent act, as I will be under the immediate command of one who has studied the art of war.

R. P. Chew is from Jefferson County, a young man, and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, the latter fact being the great incentive that induced me to join a company of entire strangers.

The principal part of the men in the company are from Jefferson County, with a few members from Loudoun and Berkeley counties.

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Arkansas True Democrat [Little Rock], December 12, 1861

We see in several exchanges allusions to the war flag of the Southern Confederacy, which is now waving over the camps on the Potomac, but no description of it. The reason for its use is that the “stars and bars” so nearly resemble the “stars and stripes,” that it is difficult to distinguish them. We gather from an incidental allusion to it in the correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch that the emblem is the Southern cross. We suppose it is a number of white stars arranged in the form of a cross, on a solid ground.

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Thursday, 12th—We received our first month’s pay today. Each man in Company E received pay for twenty-six days of service in the month of October, amounting to $11.25, a little less than a full month’s pay. I received my first Government pay as a soldier in the United States service, getting a ten-dollar gold piece[1] and one dollar and twenty-five cents in silver. I expressed $10.00 home.


[1] This was the first gold I had seen for months and, as it proved, the last I saw during the war.—A. G. D.

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December 12th.—A big-bearded, spectacled, moustachioed, spurred, and booted officer threw himself on my bed this morning ere I was awake. Russell, my dear friend, here you are at last; what ages have passed since we met!” I sat up and gazed at my friend. “Bohlen! don’t you remember Bohlen, and our rides in Turkey, our visit to Shumla and Pravady, and all the rest of it?” Of course I did. I remembered an enthusiastic soldier, with a fine guttural voice, and a splendid war saddle and saddle-cloth, and brass stirrups and holsters, worked with eagles all over, and a uniform coat and cap with more eagles flying amidst laurel leaves and U. S.’s in gold, who came out to see the fighting in the East, and made up his mind that there would be none, when he arrived at Varna, and so started off incontinent up the Danube, and returned to the Crimea when it was too late; and a very good, kindly, warm-hearted fellow was the Dutch-American, who— once more in his war paint, this time acting Brigadier General (since killed in action in Pope’s retreat from the north of Richmond.)—renewed the memories of some pleasant days far away; and our talk was of cavasses and khans, and tchibouques, and pashas, till his time was up to return to his fighting Germans of Blenker’s division.

He was not the good-natured officer who said the other day, “The next day you come down, sir, if my regiment happens to be on picket duty, we’ll have a little skirmish with the enemy, just to show you how our fellows are improved.” “Perhaps you might bring on a general action, Colonel.” “Well, sir, we’re not afraid of that, either! Let ’em come on.” It did so happen that some young friends of mine, of H.M.’s 30th, who had come down from Canada to see the army here, went out a day or two ago with an officer on General Smith’s staff, formerly in our army, who yet suffers from a wound received at the Alma, to have a look at the enemy with a detachment of men. The enemy came to have a look at them, whereby it happened that shots were exchanged, and the bold Britons had to ride back as hard as they could, for their men skedaddled, and the Secession cavalry slipping after them, had a very pretty chase for some miles; so the 30th men saw more than they bargained for.

Dined at Baron Gerolt’s, where I had the pleasure of meeting Judge Daly, who is perfectly satisfied the English lawyers have not a leg to stand upon in the Trent case. On the faith of old and very doubtful, and some purely supposititious, cases, the American lawyers have made up their minds that the seizure of the “rebel” ambassadors was perfectly legitimate and normal. The Judge expressed his belief that if there was a rebellion in Ireland, and that Messrs. Smith O’Brien and O’Gorman ran the blockade to France, and were going on their passage from Havre to New York in a United States steamer, they would be seized by the first British vessel that knew the fact. “Granted; and what would the United States do?” “I am afraid we should be obliged to demand that they be given up; and if you were strong enough at the time, I dare say you would fight sooner than do so.” Mr. Sumner, with whom I had some conversation this afternoon, affects to consider the question eminently suitable for reference and arbitration.

In spite of drills and parades, McClellan has not got an army yet. A good officer, who served as brigade major in our service, told me the men were little short of mutinous, with all their fine talk, though they could fight well, Sometimes they refuse to mount guard, or to go on duty not to their tastes; officers refuse to serve under others to whom they have a dislike; men offer similar personal objections to officers. McClellan is enforcing discipline, and really intends to execute a most villanous deserter this time.

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1861.

A fine cool day but not freezing. No special event has happened that I know of. I have been engaged in the Office as usual. Tonight I put up my Shelf in the lower Hall for a Hat Shelf. I brot it from one of the Camps over the River. Much of the furniture in John A Washingtons house was destroyed, he being a rebel. This Leaf of a Table was brot to the Camp and presented to me. Wife went to meeting this evening. The Lincoln Boys have been here twice today after our boys to go there. Chas & Sallie called this evening & spent an hour.

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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.

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December 12th.—The navy are writhing under the disgrace of the Potomac blockade, and deny it exists. The price of articles in Washington which used to come by the river affords disagreeable proof to the contrary. And yet there is not a true Yankee in Pennsylvania Avenue who does not believe, what he reads every day, that his glorious navy could sweep the fleets of France and England off the seas to-morrow, though the Potomac be closed, and the Confederate batteries throw their shot and shell into the Federal camps on the other side. I dined with General Butterfield, whose camp is pitched in Virginia, on a knoll and ridge from which a splendid view can be had over the wooded vales and hills extending from Alexandria towards Manassas, whitened with Federal tents and huts. General Fitz John Porter and General McDowell were among the officers present.

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London, December 12, 1861

It has given us here an indescribably sad feeling to witness the exultation in America over an event which bids fair to be the final calamity in this contest. We wonder that there has been so little of comprehension of the nature of the struggle here in public opinion not to jump at once to the conclusion that it would be turned against us by such an act. Putting ourselves in the place of Great Britain, where would be the end of the indignation that would be vented against the power committing it? Yet it seems everywhere to have been very coolly taken for granted that because she did outrageous things on the ocean to other powers, she would remain quiet when such things were done to her. A little observation of her past history ought to have shown that she never sees the right until half a century after she has acted wrong. She now admits her error in our revolution, and in the last war. Now she is right in principle and only wrong in point of consistency. Our mistake is that we are donning ourselves in her cast-off suit, when our own is better worth wearing. And all for what? Why to show our spite against two miserable wretches, twenty thousand of whom are not worth a single hair in the head of any of the persons on both sides of the controversy whose lives and happiness are endangered by the quarrel. . . .

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Thursday, December 12. — A bright, pretty, cold winter morning; our eighth fine day!! Ground froze in the morning; dry and warm all day after sun got one-third up. In [the] morning walked with Lieutenant-Colonel Eckley around southern part of town, in the woods, visiting pickets and noticing the lay of the land. He agrees with me that the chief danger of an attack is a hasty assault to burn the town; that for this purpose a stockade or log entrenchment should be thrown up at the lower end of town. Drilled P. M. — No letters or news.

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Winchester, December 12, 1861.

Last Monday night I returned to our camp here, where I had the pleasure of reading the letters of Mary and Helen informing me that your troubles were all over, that we had another little boy in the crib, and that his mamma, as Mary happily expressed it, “Was doing as well as could be expected.” I would have written them to express my gratification at the good news from home, but I had orders to leave again upon another expedition to the Potomac which afforded no time for writing a letter. I reached Charlestown the next morning about daylight and spent most of the day on my horse. The morning started with the forces at one o’clock, passing by Shepherdstown to Dam No. 4 on the Potomac, where we captured eight Federal soldiers whom we found on this side of the river, in which we lost one man wounded—I suppose fatally. We remained there until late in the evening, when we started for Martinsburg, where we arrived about nine o’clock, having made a march of about twenty-six miles. I left Martinsburg the next afternoon and returned to Winchester, where, having been some time engaged in a conference with Jackson, I found a bed and went to sleep, tired enough, I am sure. This morning I returned to camp. So, Love, I have given you together my operations for the last few days, which furnish the reason for my not writing sooner.

To-day I received Mary’s letter of the 9th inst., from which I learn that you are improving, that the baby is doing well, which I am delighted to hear. I really sympathize with you, Love, in your lonely situation. You must be uncomfortable, lying all day and night in bed, though not suffering much with pain. In ten days more, I suppose, you will be able to sit up, and then in a week or so get about, attending to matters at home, as usual. I assure you that I reciprocate your wish for my return home, and heartily wish that I could consistently with my duty remain with you. If I can get a leave for only a few days, I will go before long to give a kiss and a greeting to the little fellow who has such strong claims upon my love and care. Active operations must soon cease, when there will be no reason why a short furlough should not be granted. The weather is already cold enough to make it uncomfortable in tents and such conveniences as we are able to provide. It would be intolerable if we were put upon the march with insufficient means which the men would have of making themselves comfortable.

I suppose by this time the hands have been making considerable progress in getting up the corn crop, and hope they may be able to finish it before Christmas. For the hired hands clothing must be furnished before Christmas. Can you get Annie or your ma to call upon Wm. White and get the goods and have them made up? Give my love to Helen and Mary and say to them I am much indebted to them for their letters and wish them to continue to write until you are able. And now, Love, good-bye again. Give my love to your father, ma and Annie. A kiss to Matthew, Galla and the baby, and for yourself, dearest, my hearty wish for your speedy recovery.

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December 12.—The Montgomery (Ala.) Mail, of this day, says that “there have been six alarms of fire in that city within the two previous days. The Commercial Hall was fired twice in broad daylight. There was much excitement and great exasperation among the citizens.”

—In the Maryland Legislature, in session at Annapolis, a resolution was introduced declaring the seat of Hon. Coleman Yellott, Senator from Baltimore, vacant, on the ground that during three successive sessions of the body he absented himself from his seat therein, without assigning any reason therefor; and whereas, it is a matter of public notoriety, established also by testimony before the Committee on Judicial Proceedings, that the said Senator from Baltimore City has gone to Virginia, and has no intention of resuming his seat in the Senate; and whereas, it is right and proper, in these times of public peril, the large and populous city of Baltimore should be represented here; and whereas, the Constitution of Maryland provides that in the event of the removal of a Senator from the county or city for which he is elected, the President of the Senate shall issue his warrant for the election of another person in his place: therefore, &c.

Quite an animated discussion ensued between several of the members on the preamble and resolutions, when the vote was taken and the resolution declaring the seat vacant was passed.

—Last night and this morning a terrible conflagration raged in the city of Charleston, S. C., consuming and totally destroying nearly all the business portion of the city east of King St., in the direction of the Cooper River.—Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, Dec. 15.

—The authorities having learned that a number of rebels in the vicinity of Bagdad, Shelby County, Kentucky, on the line of the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad, were becoming troublesome, and had even gone so far as to compel loyal citizens to take the oath of allegiance to the Southern Confederacy, a squad of men from Col. Whitaker’s regiment, at Spring Garden, near Louisville, Ky., were despatched to the neighborhood to-night, with orders to arrest the rebels. Arriving on the ground, they were proceeding to make the desired arrests, when they were fired upon from the residence of a rebel, which was occupied by about forty persons. The fire was returned by the squad of half a dozen National troops, who were finally overpowered and forced to retreat, but one of them, however, having been wounded, and he not mortally.—Louisville Journal, Dec. 14.

—A scouting expedition, composed in part of Col. Merrill’s regiment of cavalry, returned to Sedalia, Mo., bringing as prisoners four captains, two lieutenants, and about forty men. They also captured a mortar and a large number of horses. The expedition went as far as Waverly, Mo. The man who hauled down the American flag after Colonel Mulligan’s surrender at Lexington, was arrested as a spy.

—The Bowling Green Courier publishes what purports to be a message from George W. Johnson, who signs himself “Provisional Governor,” addressed to “Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Legislative Council.” The so-called ” Provision Council” has been organized as follows: President of Council, Willis B. Machen, of Lyon; State Treasurer, Judge T. L Burnett, of Spencer; State Auditor, Capt. Richard Hawes, of Bourbon; Secretary of State, Robert McKee, of Louisville; Clerk of Council, A. Frank Brown, of Pulaski; State Printer, W. N. Haldeman, of Oldham; Sergeant-at-Arms, John E. Thompson, Jr., of Mercer.—N. Y. Times, Dec. 14.

—A skirmish occurred to-day on the banks of Green River, Ky. Company I of the Fifteenth Ohio was attacked by about one hundred and fifty rebel cavalry, who had dismounted from their horses and approached the patriots unobserved. The rebels fired one round without killing or wounding a man, and it was returned by the Ohio infantry with a couple of volleys, wounding several. The cavalry then retired, bearing their wounded with them.— Louisville Journal, Dec. 16.

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WEDNESDAY 11

Quite cool and very windy today. “Willie” is quite Smart today. The trouble with him was all owing to his stomachs having rebelled against the unconstitutional demands which he in his voracity made upon it. A dose of castor oil quelled the insurection and all his internal operations returned to their accustomed quiet state. Nothing new today. Went down to the Ave and made some small purchases, bot some Iron brackets for the mahogany shelf which is a leaf from a Table of John A Washington, brot away from his abandoned house by the soldiers.

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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.

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11th.—I have just received a letter from a lady friend of mine aye, and of the soldiers, too, in which she says she “cannot but think of the suffering patriot-soldier, with nothing but a tent above his head, with no covering but a single blanket, and but so little care when sick.” This induces me to put on record here, the following description for reference, a long time hence, when, if this war continues, I may wish to read it and compare it with the hospitals then existing, with the improvements which experience shall have causes to be adopted:

My hospital at present consists of five large tents, fourteen feet long by fifteen feet wide. They open into each other at the ends, so as to make of the whole one continuous tent, seventy feet long. This will accommodate forty patients comfortably. On an emergency, I can crowd in fifty-five. In the center of the first tent is dug a hole about three feet in circumference and two and a half deep. From this hole there passes through the middle of the tents a trench or ditch two feet wide and of the same depth, which terminates in a large chimney just outside of the fifth tent. It is covered for about ten feet of its length, at the beginning with broad stones, the next fifteen feet with sheet iron, thence to the chimney with stones and earth. A fire is made in the hole at the beginning of this ditch, which, through its large chimneys, has a great draught. The blaze sweeps through its whole length, and by means of this fire, no matter what the weather, or how changeable, the temperature in the hospitals need not vary three degrees in a month, and at all times, night and day, have full ventilation without varying the temperature. Since the adjustment of the difficulties, I have my full quota (10) of nurses, and these are never, night or day, less than two on watch. The cots for the sick are ranged side by side, with their heads to the wall and feet to the center of the tent, leaving just room between their sides for the nurses to move freely, and for the patients to get up and down, and between their ends for the ditch, on which, over the covering already described, is a ladder or rack, with slats so close as not to admit the feet between them when the nurses and patients are walking on them.

So long as there is room in the hospital, no patient of my regiment is permitted to be confined to his tent by sickness. The moment he is sick enough to be confined to bed, he is brought to hospital, where he remains constantly under the eye of the Surgeon and nurses till he recovers. There are, to-day, thirty-six in hospital, each, instead of lying with “nothing but a tent above his head, and with no covering but a single blanket,” is on a comfortable bed of straw, the tick emptied and refilled once in four weeks, with all the covering they want. I have plenty of good sheets, and not less than two blankets for each, besides what they bring with them. They are never without fresh meat, rarely without rice, potatoes, jellies in abundance, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, and I am now purchasing for them two dozen chickens a week; and I have this day a hospital fund of not less than one hundred and seventy-five dollars, which is increasing every day, from from which I can replenish or add to the comforts now allowed.[1] This is a description of my own hospital. I regret to learn from the U. S. Medical Inspector who has visited me to-day, that other hospitals are not so well provided or so comfortable. I regret it, because there is no reason why all may not be provided just as well, so long as we remain near a good market; and if they are not, there is blame either in medical or military departments, which ought to be corrected.

From ninth of November to this date, the time I was shut out from the medical supervision of the camp, there have been more deaths in the regiment than during the whole five months before, including the sickly season of August, September and October. The health of the regiment now, however, is good, and I hope it will remain so during the winter.


[1] It may be a matter of some interest to the reader to know how this hospital fund is realized. It is thus: The soldier is entitled to certain rations every day, and these continue, whether he is sick or well. When well, they are drawn by the captains of companies and distributed to the men. When sick and in hospital, the Surgeon notifies the Commissary of the fact, and they are not issued to the Captain, but credited to the hospital. The Surgeon draws them in whole, in part, or not at all. The days’ rations are worth from 17 to 20 cents per man. Now, any economical and honest Surgeon can feed his sick men well when near a market, and save to the hospital fund at least one third of this amount, for the purchase of delicacies. Give him thirty in hospital, he can realize two dollars per month on each man, ($60 per month.) In a neighborhood where markets are very high, this will be proportionally reduced. Where he cannot buy at all, it will be increased.

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Wednesday, January [December] 11.— A cold morning, threatening rain; rained a little last night. Turned off bright, clear, and cold in the afternoon. Had a headache in morning, drank a little bad wine last night; all right after dinner. Living so cozily in my new quarters. Oh, if Lucy was here, wouldn’t it be fine! How she would enjoy it! Darling! I think of her constantly these days. A drill; formed squad in four ranks; marched, closed in mass.

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