Tuesday, February 11. — Stormy and snowing. Telegraphed to Judge Washburn that I should be happy to see him out here to-morrow.
Tuesday, February 11. — Stormy and snowing. Telegraphed to Judge Washburn that I should be happy to see him out here to-morrow.
Tuesday, 11th—It snowed today and turned quite cool. Some troops marched past here on their way to St. Louis.
11th. Commenced to make my quarters at Quartermaster Thayer’s. Wrote a line home and sent it in Charlie’s to sister.
Camp Porter, Virginia,
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 1862.
Dear Cousin L.:—
“Norton, ‘Putty’ has brought you a valentine this time, I’ll warrant,” said one of my messmates, as I entered the tent last night and flung down my axe (I had been out on fatigue duty all day, making a government road to Washington, for the old roads are impassable on account of the mud). “Well, let me look at it,” said I. and he handed me your letter of the 7th. It was not a valentine, but it pleased me much more than one of those sentimental things would have done.
I presume I do have considerable more time for writing than you do, but your remark about your household cares, etc., made me think of what Mother often says: if she had only one or two children to care for she might have a little time to herself. I see that any one who has a family to care for has enough to do to be constantly busy. From morning till night there is always something to do. I have commenced writing, but that ever recurring question comes again, “What shall I write”? It seems to the soldier when he takes up the pen as though there was nothing to write unless he has something to tell of gallant exploits in his own occupation, a brilliant victory over superior numbers of the enemy, in which he was one of the heroes. With something like that for a text he can write. Pages of foolscap are far too small to contain all he has to relate to his friends then, but, ah me, I’ve no such resource. A man is not a hero till he is shot at and missed. He who is shot at and killed is covered with the sod and forgotten by all but the narrow circle of his immediate friends. His name is once seen in the list of killed at the great victory, but lightly passed over, while the readers turn to honor the heroes who participated in the victory but were shot at and missed.
You want to know something of our “arrangements, beds, meals, etc.” I might describe the interior of our tent in my poor way, and that will serve as a specimen of the whole, though each mess arranges its own tent in any way to suit the members. We have the large round tent, about eighteen feet across the bottom and tapering to a point at the top. A round pole in the center supports it, and, on this pole, two tables are suspended by ropes, one above the other, and so arranged that we can lower them to use as tables or raise them up above our heads. As to beds, we have every style and form that never were seen in a cabinet shop. We used to sleep on the ground or on pine boughs when we had the small or wedge tents, but when we obtained these we concluded to be a little more extravagant. Lumber in Virginia is out of the question. A very patriotic Union man about two miles from here refused to sell me a couple of fence boards six inches wide for $1.50, so I made up my mind to be my own saw-mill. At the time we encamped here, there were hundreds of acres of worn-out tobacco lands grown up with small pines in the neighborhood. They grow very close together, slim and straight. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” says the old adage, and so it proved with us. We cut down any number of the poles, peeled the bark, got a few pounds of nails at the sutler’s and made our bedsteads, or bunks, we call them. They are like berths in a steamer, one above another, room for two above and two below, and for another back under the side of the tent. This, for one side of the tent, accommodates six men ; another like it on the other side, six more. For the “mattress.” or “downy bed,” we hewed the poles flat and rather thin so they spring some and laid them side by side as close as possible. At night we spread our overcoats on the poles, take our knapsacks for pillows, and, covering ourselves with our blankets we enjoy such sleep as many a one who rests in the most luxurious bed might envy. Our robe de nuit is very simple, merely our every day dress, minus cap and boots. My rifle and cartridge box hang by my side, my cap lies on my knapsack, and my boots stand on the ground within my reach every time I sleep, so that, if the long roll beats, I can be with the company in line of battle in two minutes. We retire early, not so much from choice as necessity. At 9 o’clock the “taps” are beaten and all lights must be extinguished. It is rather uninteresting sitting in the dark, so that hour generally finds us “coiled up,” as the boys express it. At daylight the “reveille” is sounded, the men turn out and the roll is called. Soon after breakfast is ready, consisting of bread, meat (pork, bacon or beef) and coffee. We now have our soft bread baked in the regiment, but we have eaten a great many of the crackers, or pilot bread, as it is called. Some of this was good, but the greater part very poor, moldy, wormy, and made of poor flour, etc. Several barrels had crackers stamped “T. Weld & Co., Boston, 1810”; Company I say they had a barrel marked “B. C. 97.” I don’t know whether the crackers or the barrel was made before Christ, but I think it must have been the barrel. We finally concluded that fresh bread, although lacking so many romantic associations, would be more nutritious, so we brought in a fine lot of brick that a secesh had provided to build for himself a fine house, made some splendid ovens, and now we have good bread. We have a little sheet-iron stove in our tent that does very well when it is not too cold, and we can cook a good many little extras, stew dried fruit, etc., and we manage to live quite comfortably. The paper you sent I have not received. It will probably arrive to-night. We have a great many papers. The Washington papers are here before breakfast every morning, the New York papers, “Erald,” Tribune and Times, the day after they are published ; Baltimore and Philadelphia papers the same day, and then we have Frank Leslie’s, Harper’s Weekly, Illustrated News and Forney’s War Press. Friends at home send us the Independent and the Evangelist, the Advocate, the Guardian, etc., so that generally we are well supplied, but we devour papers with a rapidity that would astonish them that have less leisure time.
Last night a man died at the hospital. I can hear the band as they are paying their last respects to his remains. We have lost but one from our company. Poor Pickard died at the hospital in the latter part of January, I have sometimes thought that I could die on the battlefield and be content, but to die in a military hospital, away from my dearest friends, with only the rough hand of a fellow soldier to close my eyes to their last sleep, would be hard to bear. It was a gloomy day when we buried Pickard. Great piles of black clouds came rolling up from the west, and now and then a flake of snow came sailing down, mingling with the dead leaves as they went whirling over the frozen ground till they dropped together into some hollow to lie and be forgotten. I was one of the eight selected as the escort for the body, and I was much impressed with the solemnity and beauty of the military burial. The procession was formed at the hospital, the escort first with arms reversed, the pallbearers with the body, the chaplain, the band, and the company and friends of the dead. The band played a beautiful but mournful dirge, and we moved slowly to the grave. We buried him under a large oak tree on an eminence overlooking a wide prospect of this once beautiful country. Arrived at the grave, the coffin was set down and the chaplain read the beautiful burial service and the body was lowered to its last rest. We fired three volleys over the grave, the drums meanwhile beating a low muffled roll, and then we turned back to camp. Thus rests on the soil of the “Old Dominion” a humble, honest man and a good soldier. Half a dozen miles off sleep the ashes of the “Father of his Country.” The world admires and honors him, and weeps over his grave, and yet, who can say that Adam Pickard, in his humble sphere, did not his duty to his country as well as the immortal Washington? He left his wife and little children when his country needed him, and now his wife is left a widow and his children fatherless. It was a stern fate, but he looked it sternly in the face and died like a true soldier, leaving his family to God and giving his life to his country.
Tuesday.—Roanoke Island has fallen—no particulars heard.
February 11.—The Nashville American, of this day, has the following: From the beginning of this war to the present time, the constant cry of the people of the South has been, God and the British are on our side. That cry has seemed to satisfy too many of these whose lives and all have been at stake, that we would triumph without proper energy of our own. The first news that is looked for in the morning paper is the “Latest Foreign Intelligence.” We are like the “unprofitable servant” to whom was given the one talent. Instead of putting it to use, we have digged in the earth and hid that which was given to us. Still we put our trust in God and the British. The disaster at Fishing Creek, and the equally fatal result at Fort Henry, may begin to open our eyes to the fact that God and the British will not help us until we learn to help ourselves. These defeats may also teach us that which every great general found out before he fought many battles, that individual bravery is valueless against organized drill and discipline. It behooves the people of Tennessee, at least to awake to the impending danger. The twelve months system of volunteering will not save us. The hordes of Lincoln have volunteered for the war to subjugate. Will we not enlist for the same length of time to defend ourselves and our homes?
—Dr. Luther V. Belt,, Medical Director to Gen. Hooker’s division, in the National Army, died a camp, near Budd’s Ferry, Md., this evening.
Dr. Bell was a distinguished physician, a native of New-Hampshire, and enjoyed a prominent European as well as national reputation. His family connections, as well as himself, filled many of the most honorable and important positions in the records of his native State. Subsequently he removed to Massachusetts, and took charge of the McLean Asylum for the Insane, at Somerville, in which position he won the attention and applause of eminent European physicians, as well as these of his more immediate surroundings. For several years he was also President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He had always taken a lively interest in politics, and held many important offices, among which may be mentioned that of the Governor’s Council. He was also several times made a candidate for Congress, and the Gubernatorial chair of Massachusetts.
Immediately following the attack on Fort Sumter, he offered himself to the Governor of Massachusetts as surgeon in any of the regiments which might require his service. His offer was eagerly accepted, and he was appointed Surgeon to the Eleventh Massachusetts volunteers, and with them departed for the seat of war. He was present at the battle of Bull Run, and distinguished himself by his unremitting attentions to the wounded, both friends and foes, and among the last he lingered devotedly among the suffering soldiers on the field, upon the retreat of the forces on Washington. Soon after he was appointed by President Lincoln a Brigade-Surgeon, under General Hooker.
When Gen. Hooker was appointed Major-General of a division, Dr. Bell was promoted to his staff, and since acted as Medical Director.
He was amiable and courteous, and was greatly beloved by all with whom he came in contact, and by none more so than the officers and soldiers of the Eleventh Massachusetts volunteers, who experienced the pleasures and benefits of his generous liberality and eminent medical skill.— N. Y. Times, February 23.
—This afternoon, the Sawyer gun, at Newport News, Va., burst while being fired. Privates Josiah Jones, of Company C, and James Shepard, of Company B, of the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts regiment, were instantly killed, and W. W. Bowman, of Company I, same regiment, was seriously injured. Jones belonged in Greenpoint, Long Island, and Shepard in Lowell, Mass. Four or five other persons, who were in the vicinity, were also injured, but none of them seriously.
—A flag of truce was sent from Fortress Monroe to Craney Island, Va., early this morning, to inform General Huger that the prisoners of war from Fort Warren, had arrived. The bark was accordingly towed up opposite Sewell’s Point, by the steamer Rancocas, and the tug Adriatic; and at about one o’clock, the rebel steamer West Point came out from Norfolk, and the prisoners were transferred. They numbered four captains, three first lieutenants, six second lieutenants, two third lieutenants, and three hundred and eighty four others, rank and file, and colored servants. They were taken at Hatteras and Santa Rosa, and were the last of the prisoners of war at Fort Warren, except Commodore Barron.
—The Richmond Examiner, of this date, publishes an elaborate communication, the object of which is to show that the proper national emblem for the South, would be a “single star.” The editor, however, disapproves the idea, as not original, and suggests that a more appropriate symbol is the “horse.”—(Doc. 34.)
Feb. 10. The prisoners are a motley looking set, all clothed (I can hardly say uniformed) in a dirty looking homespun gray cloth. I should think every man’s suit was cut from a design of his own. Some wore what was probably meant for a frock coat, others wore jackets or roundabouts; some of the coats were long skirted, others short; some tight fitting, others loose; and no two men were dressed alike. Their head covering was in unison with the rest of their rig; of all kinds, from stovepipe hats to coonskin caps; with everything for blankets, from old bedquilts, cotton bagging, strips of carpet to Buffalo robes. The Wise legion are a more soldierly looking set; they wear gray cloth caps of the same pattern, and long sheep’s gray overcoats with capes. Most of the officers are smart, good looking young men, wearing well-fitting gray uniforms, not unlike those of our own officers.
It is not dress altogether that makes the man or the soldier. I find among these chaps some pretty good fellows. I came across one young man from Richmond; he was smart appearing and very loquacious. In some talk I had with him he said; “This has turned out not as I wished, but not different from what I expected when we saw the force you had. In fact we had no business staying here after seeing your strength. We have met the enemy and we are theirs. I accept the situation and am glad it is no worse. I am Secesh clear through, and after I am exchanged, shall be at you again. We are now enemies, but in peace friends, and when this little dispute is settled, if any of you fellows ever come to Richmond, hunt me up. If alive, you will be welcome as long as you choose to stay, and when you leave, if you don’t say you have had as right smart a time as you ever had, call me a liar and I will call you gentlemen.” The fellow gave me his card and said his father owned a plantation just out of the city.
I met one fellow, a long, lank, lean, long-haired, sullen, cadaverous looking chap, and asked him what he was doing here. “Well,” he said, “not much; but you ‘uns was right smart to get through that swamp. We thought the devil couldn’t get through it.” “So you think what the devil can’t do, Yankees can’t, do you? You mustn’t take the devil for your guage in estimating Yankees; if you do you will always get beat. We can give him points, and bent him every time.” He looked a little incredulous, but did not seem inclined to go into any argument about it.
These fellows threw away a good many pistols and knives which they carried, many of which our boys have found. The knives are large, coarse, ugly looking things, forged at some country blacksmith shop, by a bungling workman, out of old rasps, scythe-points and anything containing steel. I asked one fellow what they carried those knives for, what use they put them to? “Oh!” he said, “them’s Yankee slayers.” “Yankee slayers? And have you slain many Yankees with them?” “Wal, no, but we thought they mought come handy in close action.” “And did you think you would ever get near enough to the Yankees to use them?” “Wal, we didn’t know but we mought.” “Well, sir, those knives are too heavy to carry, and you don’t need to carry them, for long before you would ever get near enough to the Yankees to use them the places that now know you would know you no more forever.”
The boys are mixing in among the prisoners, talking over the fight, trading jack-knives, buttons and such small notions as they happen to have, and getting acquainted with each other. The weather is warm and pleasant, like May. The robins and other birds are singing as in summer. The robins seem like old friends and neighbors and I cannot help thinking that perhaps some of them had their nests last summer in the trees and bushes which grow in our own door yards and gardens at home.
Our gunboats have wiped from the face of the earth that part of the Confederate navy which prowled around these waters. They chased them up the Pasquotank river to Elizabeth City, where, after less than an hour’s engagement, the enemy set their boats on fire and fled.
Monday Feb 10th 1862
Genl Chas P Stone was arrested yesterday for Treason and sent to Fort Lafayette. News through Norfolk that a Battle was going on at Roanoke Island, Genl Burnside having attacked it. No particular news from the West. It has been a beautiful bright day. Mercury this morning stood at 20. Lieut Gould from the 27th came over today and is stopping with us tonight.
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.
Monday, 10th—Nothing of importance. A squad of men went out into the country for supplies and brought in some corn meal, molasses and honey.
10th. On duty up town again. Played chess with Bugler Adams. Called at Mr. Crockett’s. Not at home. Played a game of pool.
February 10, 1862.
Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Navy,
Gulf Blockading Squadron,
Sir: I inclose to you herewith sketches from the United States Engineer Bureau relative to the works on the Mississippi River; also a memorandum prepared by General Barnard, United .States Army, who constructed Fort St. Philip. The most important operation of the war is confided to yourself and your brave associates, and every light possible to obtain should be carefully considered before putting into operation the plan which your judgment dictates.
It is reported that nineteen feet of water can be carried over the bar. If this be true, the frigate Mississippi can be got over without much difficulty. The Colorado draws about twenty-two feet; she lightens one inch to twenty-four tons; her keel is about two feet deep. The frigate Wabash, when in New York in 1858, drew, without her spar-deck guns, stores, water casks, tanks, and coal (excepting thirty tons), aft twenty feet four inches, forward sixteen feet, or on an even keel eighteen feet four inches. This would indicate a very easy passage for this noble vessel, and, if it be possible to get these two steamers over, and perhaps a sailing vessel also, you will take care to use every exertion to do so. The powerful tugs in the bomb flotilla will afford the necessary pulling power. The tops of these large steamers are from thirty to fifty feet above the fort, and command the parapets and interior completely with howitzers and musketry. The Wachusett at Boston; the Oneida, Richmond, Varuna, and Dakota at New York; and the Iroquois from the West Indies, are ordered to report to you with all practicable dispatch, and every gunboat which can be got ready in time will have the same orders. All of the bomb-vessels have sailed, and the steamers to accompany them are being prepared with great dispatch. It is believed the last will be off by the 16th instant.
Eighteen thousand men are being sent to the Gulf to cooperate in the movements which will give to the arms of the United States full possession of the ports within the limits of your command. You will, however, carry out your instructions with regard to the Mississippi and Mobile without any delay beyond that imposed upon you by your own careful preparations. A division from Ship Island will probably be ready to occupy the forts that will fall into your hands. The Department relies upon your skill to give direction to the powerful force placed at your disposal, and upon your personal character to infuse a hearty cooperation among your officers, free from unworthy jealousies. If successful, you open the way to the sea for the great West, never again to be closed. The rebellion will be riven in the centre, and the flag to which you have been so faithful will recover its supremacy in every State.
Very respectfully, etc.,
Monday Night.—Still greater uneasiness about Roanoke Island. It is so important to us—is said to be the key to Norfolk; indeed, to all Eastern North Carolina, and Southeastern Virginia. We dread to-morrow’s papers.
The lady on Street has disappointed me. She met me with a radiant smile when I went to see her this evening, saying, “She agrees; she must, however, remove the wardrobe and bureau, as she wants them herself; but there’s a closet in the room, which will answer for a wardrobe, and I reckon that a table with a glass on it will do for a bureau.” “Oh, yes; only give me a good bed, some chairs and a washstand, and I can get along very well. Can I see the room?” “Yes; it is a back-room in the third story, but I reckon you won’t mind that.” My heart did sink a little at that communication, when I remembered Mr. _____’s long walks from Bank Street; but there was no alternative, and I followed her up the steps. Great was my relief to find a large airy room, neatly carpeted, and pleasant in all respects. “This will do,” said I; “take the wardrobe and bureau out, and put a table in, and I shall be very well satisfied.” “I have a small table,” she replied, “but no glass; you will have to buy that.” “Very well, I will do that. But you have not yet told me your terms.” “Will you keep a fire?” “Oh, certainly, in my room.” “Then my charge is ___.” I stood aghast!” My dear madam,” said I, “that is twenty dollars more than the usual price, and three dollars less than our whole salary per month.” “Well, I can’t take a cent less; other people take less because they want to fill their rooms, but I was only going to take you for accommodation; and I can fill my rooms at any time.” Now the lines of her face were not undecided. I turned, and as I walked up the already lighted streets of my native city, feeling forlorn and houseless,
“In happy homes I saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;”
and hope that I was not envious. My friends were very sympathetic when I returned, not, however, without a certain twinkle of the eye denoting merriment, as it exactly coincided with a most provoking prophecy made by Mr. C. as I set out; and I joined in a hearty laugh at my own expense, which was a real relief to my feelings.
No good news from Roanoke Island. Fort Henry has fallen; that loss is treated lightly, but the enemy have turned their attention to Fort Donelson, on Cumberland River, which, if taken, would give them free access into the heart of Tennessee.
February 10.—The expedition which had been sent up the Tennessee River, after the capture of Fort Henry, returned to the railroad crossing, twenty-five miles above the fort.
The expedition, embracing the gunboats Conestoga, Taylor and Lexington, under Lieutenant Phelps, left Fort Henry on the sixth inst., and on the same day it destroyed a quantity of camp equipage, which had been abandoned by the rebels.
On the following day, (the seventh,) several rebel transport steamers were pursued, and two of them, laden with military stores, were abandoned and burned by their crews.
On the same night, at Cerro Gordo, Tenn., the steamboat Eastport, in process of alteration into an iron-plated gunboat, and large quantities of timber and lumber, were seized, and the Taylor was left behind to protect them, until the return of the expedition.
On the morning of the eighth, at Chickasaw, Miss., two other steamboats — the Sallie Wood and Muscle—were seized; and on the same day, at Florence, Ala., three other steamboats were burned, and great quantities of supplies for the rebel army were taken and destroyed.
The expedition proceeded no farther up the river; but a deputation of citizens waited on Lieutenant Phelps and requested him to respect their persons and the property of the citizens, and the railroad bridge, which connects Florence with the railroad on the south bank of the river, all of which was complied with.
Returning to Cerro Gordo, the prize steamboats Eastport, Sallie Wood and Muscle, were laden with upward of a quarter of a million of feet of valuable lumber and ship-timber, which, with all the iron, machinery, spikes, plating, nails, etc., belonging to the rebel gunboats, was carried down to the Union lines.
A rebel encampment at Savannah, Tenn., was also broken up, and considerable quantities of arms, clothing, shoes, provisions, etc., were secured or destroyed.
The expedition met with the most gratifying proofs of loyalty everywhere on the Tennessee River; twenty-five Tennesseans were enlisted at Cerro Gordo, by Lieutenant Gwin of the Taylor, and the most perfect success crowned the arduous labors of the party.—(Doc. 32.)
—Ethan A. Hitchcock was confirmed as Major General of Volunteers in the Army of the United States.
— General Hunter proclaimed martial law throughout the State of Kansas, and declared the crime of jayhawking should be put down with a strong hand and summary process.
—Commander Rowan, with fourteen vessels, left Roanoke Island yesterday afternoon, and at six minutes past nine, this morning, when off Cobb’s Point, N. C, he attacked the rebels’ squadron, which had fled from Roanoke, under Commander Lynch, and two batteries, mounting five guns. Within twenty minutes a schooner belonging to the enemy, struck her colors, and was burned by her crew; and immediately afterward, the crews of the Powhatan, Fanny, Sea Bird and Forrest, ran them ashore and set fire to them, while these of the Raleigh and Beaufort ran their vessels into the Canal and escaped; the Ellis was captured, and brought away by the Union forces.
The battery on Cobb’s Point was also abandoned by the enemy, and occupied by acting Master’s Mate Raymond during the morning; and before ten o’clock Elizabeth City also surrendered. —(Doc. 33.)
Cape Girardeau, February 9, 1862.
I, like a good boy, wrote you a long letter yesterday, and, like a careless fellow, lost it. I told you in it how we “300” of us, left here in the p.m. of last Monday, rode all night and at daylight made a desperate charge into Bloomfield where we found and captured nothing. How a little party of 15 of our boys were surprised some eight miles beyond Bloomfield by 80 Rebels and one of them captured, one badly wounded and another’s horse shot and he at last accounts running in the swamps. How the major got together his men and went out and captured some 20 of the bushwhackers and killed five and how he returned to the Cape, etc. You have read about this riding and marching all night until I expect you hardly think of its being fatiguing and somewhat wearing on the human system, etc., but allow me to assure you that it is. Novice as I am in riding, the cold and fatigue were so severe on me that I slept like a top horseback, although I rode with the advance guard all the time and through country the like of which I hope you’ll never see. There is a swamp surrounding every hill and there are hills the whole way. Damn such a country. We passed, a small scouting party of us, the bones of seven Union men. They were all shot at one time. I didn’t go with the party to see them. One of our guards went out with a party of nine of the 17th Infantry boys and captured some 20 secesh and brought in, in a gunny sack, the bones of five other Union men. I noticed there were no skulls and asked the guide where they were. He said that “as true as truth the secesh who murdered them had taken the skulls to use for soup bowls.” I was talking with a man to-night who had his two sons shot dead in the house by his side last week. A gang of fellows came to the house while he was eating supper and fired through between the logs. He burst open the door and escaped with but one shot in him after he saw that his sons were killed. I can hardly believe that these things are realities, although my eyes and cars bear witness. In my reading I can remember no parallel either in truth or fiction for the state of things we have in this southeastern portion of Missouri. Anyone can have his taste for the marvelous, however strong, glutted by listening to our scouts and the refugees here. I thank God from my heart that dear old Illinois knows nothing of the horrors of this war. The 17th left here yesterday for Fort Henry. The boys were very glad to start. The old 8th was there with the first. I almost wish I had stayed with her. Without bragging or prejudice I am satisfied that the 8th is the best in every respect of the whole 100 regiments I have seen and has the best colonel. Colonel Kellogg is now commanding the post and Sid. is “A. A. A. General,” and I am “A Regimental Adjutant.” My duties are light, though, and I am in tip-top health. That ride didn’t hurt me at all. I can stand riding with the best of them. I suppose that Sam will be with us soon. I hope our regiment will be ordered to Kentucky. I believe I’d rather be shot there than to bushwhack around in Missouri much longer. The major and I will get along capitally. He stands fatigue equal to any of us. He and I took a ride of 30 miles alone through the swamps the other day. Send my watch the first chance you have.
To Mrs. Lyon
Cairo, Sunday, Feb. 9, 1862.—Since writing to you there has been a battle and victory at Fort Henry, on the Tennessee river. The battle was fought on our side by the gunboats, our infantry taking no part in It. We are not stationed here permanently. We were only left because we had not our blue uniforms. We have them now. But for this we should doubtless have been at Fort Henry. The boys are much disappointed. We may go there yet, as regiments are constantly going up there. I suppose they will have another fight in a few days on the Cumberland river about fourteen miles east of Fort Henry, at Fort Donelson, but we have no orders as yet.
I have been for the last two days acting as President of a Regimental Court Martial for the trial of minor offenses. There were twelve cases before us. It takes a good deal of evidence in my court to convict.
Sunday, February 9. — Nothing of any special interest happened. Received a letter from George Weld enclosing draft.
Have been out to church all day with all the family but Holly, he has a very bad cold. The air has been cool and Bracing today and the sun has shown nearly all day. The sight of the sun again has been here quite reviveing. Ed Dick[erson] & Alex Tower called this afternoon while we were at church, did not stay till we returned. Charles & Sallie spent the evening. Chas re-vaccinated all of us. Yesterday for the first time we tried the “ariated Bread” baked in Baltimore. It is certainly a great improvement in the Bread line. It is soon to be made here. We are sure customers for the “New kind of Bread.”
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.
9th.—The Court of Inquiry to examine into the conduct of my hospital affairs yesterday, decided that they would not investigate—that the accusations were the result of personal ill feelings. At least, so a member of the court informed me. I begged him to insist on an inquiry, and the court has reconsidered its action, and will investigate. I hope there will be a full expose of the whole conduct of the hospital. I have long desired it.
Sunday, 9th—Company inspection this morning. We had preaching by the chaplain in the forenoon, and the boys had prayer meeting in the evening.
9th. Sunday. Went out and heard Chaplain Hawkins upon “Following Christ.” Went to Mr. Campbell’s to dinner—a good one. Stayed for some time, had hickory nuts.
Sunday Night.—Painful rumours have been afloat all day. Fort Henry, on Tennessee River, has been attacked.
We went to St. James’s this morning, and St. Paul’s tonight. When we returned we found Mr. N. and Brother J. awaiting us. They are very anxious and apprehensive about Roanoke Island.
Feb. 9. A hard looking lot this morning, and no doubt feeling as hard as we looked. Tired, hungry, ragged, covered with mud, and sore from our flesh being torn and scratched with the tangle-brush and briars through which we forced ourselves yesterday. After a good ration of whiskey and a breakfast of fried bacon, with hot coffee, we began to limber up and feel a little more normal. We can now look over the field and see the results of yesterday’s work. Our regiment lost six killed and 47 wounded, some of them probably fatally. Our whole loss was 42 killed and 209 wounded. The enemy’s loss is not known, but is probably less than ours. Today the gunboats are after the Confederate flotilla and no doubt will give them a taste of what happened yesterday. It will probably be reported at headquarters in Richmond that their navy in these waters has become a thing of the past. Our march up from the battle-ground, yesterday afternoon, was rather an interesting one, if men nearly dying from exhaustion can be said to get interested. The trees for a mile in front of our line are marked and scarred by our shot, showing the terrible effectiveness of our rifles. The road was strewn with guns, knapsacks, equipments, blankets and everything that impeded their retreat or which they thought they had no further use for. Passing a little brown house by the wayside I noticed quite a crowd of surgeons and officers standing around. Crowding my way up to the little open window, I saw the pale, quivering form of a young man lying on a cot, with a slight covering over him, apparently in a dying condition. I inquired if any one knew who he was, and was told it was Capt. O. Jennings Wise, son of ex-Governor Wise. He had received a mortal wound and could not possibly survive many minutes. He was editor of one of the Richmond papers and captain of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues, the crack company of that city. He was a brave young fellow, and his was the last company to leave the redoubt, and then only when he fell mortally wounded.
February 9.—Secretary Stanton ordered the arrest and incarceration in Fort McHenry of one Doctor Ives, a correspondent of the New-York Herald, on the charge of being a spy, and for violating the rules and regulations of the War Department. According to the order of Secretary Stanton, Ives introduced himself into the chambers of the Department, when private consultations were being held, and demanded news for publication.
—The Seventy-sixth regiment of Ohio Volunteers, under command of Colonel C. R. Woods, passed through Columbus on their way to Kentucky.—Cincinnati Gazette, February 11.
—The efficiency of United States mortar-boats was fully tested to-day by Captain Constable, U. S. N., in the Mississippi River, just below Cairo, Ill., and near Fort Holt, on the Kentucky shore. The experiments showed that thirteen inch shells, filled with sand, could be thrown a distance of three and a half miles— the time of flight being thirty-one seconds, and the recoil of the gun-carriage about two feet. Filled with powder, the shells could be thrown much further.— (Doc. 31.)
—Brigadier-general Charles P. Stone was arrested in Washington this morning, at two o’clock, by a posse of the Provost Marshal’s force, and sent to Fort Lafayette, New-York harbor. The charges against General Stone are: First, for misbehavior at the battle of Ball’s Bluff; second, for holding correspondence with the enemy before and since the battle of Ball’s Bluff, and receiving visits from rebel officers in his camp; third, for treacherously suffering the enemy to build a fort or strong work, since the battle of Ball’s Bluff, under his guns, without molestation; fourth, for a treacherous design to expose his force to capture and destruction by the enemy, under pretence of orders for a movement from the commanding general, which had not been given.
Camp Porter, Feb. 8, 1862.
Dear Sister L.:—
“All quiet along the Potomac” has become a by-word, it is used so often. Nothing stirring. Mud is triumphant and all business except guard and picket duty is suspended, unless I should mention a little target practice. Last night just after roll-call we heard tremendous cheers up at the right of the regiment. Company after company seemed to vie with each other to see which could cheer loudest. Finally, when half our boys had got to bed, the orderly came into the street with “Fall in, Company K, fall in.” Out they tumbled and into line, when Captain A. said the general had just received a dispatch containing such good news that he had sent his orderly down to read it to the boys. He read a telegram stating that a fleet of gun-boats had gone up the Tennessee river, bombarded and taken the rebel Fort Henry and captured General Floyd, Tilghman and staff, twenty cannons and sixty prisoners. Captain A. proposed nine cheers for the Union victory. They were given and the Zouave tiger to close on. Every one thought that the ex-Secretary Floyd had been taken, but this morning’s papers disclose a cruel sell. Instead of Generals Floyd and Tilghman, it was General Lloyd Tilghman, commandant of the fort, who was captured. It was a great victory for us, but we were very much disappointed after all. There is no other man whom I would be so much pleased to have taken as that “thafe o’ the wurreld’ Floyd. Jeff Davis wouldn’t begin.
General Porter commands our division, containing twelve regiments or three brigades, thus:
General Fitz John Porter’s Division.
First Brigade, General Morell.
Sixty-second Pennsylvania, Colonel Black.
Ninth Massachusetts, Colonel Cass.
Fourteenth New York, Colonel —–.
Fourth Michigan, Colonel —–.
Second Brigade, General Martindale.
Twenty-fifth New York, Colonel Kerrigan.
Second Maine, Colonel —–.
Twenty-second Massachusetts, Colonel Henry Wilson.
Eighteenth Massachusetts, Colonel Lee.
Third Brigade, General Daniel Butterfield.
Sixteenth Michigan, Colonel T. B. W. Stockton.
Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel John W. McLane.
Forty-fourth New York, Colonel Stryker.
Seventeenth New York, Colonel Lansing.
Sprague’s Rhode Island Battery.
Griffin’s Battery D. Fifth United States.
Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment.
Third Pennsylvania Regiment.
This is the force under Porter; quite a little army in itself. The Massachusetts troops are fine fellows, three regiments in the division. The “Farmers Regiment” raised by Senator Wilson is among them. He (Senator Wilson) is not the acting colonel at present, however, having returned to the Senate. The Ninth Massachusetts are mostly Irish Catholics. They will fight, I think, like the old Sixty-ninth New York at Bull Run. The Twenty-fifth New York is composed of New York roughs, Bowery boys, “Dead Rabbits,” etc. Their colonel has been court-martialed on charge of treason, communicating with the enemy, drunkenness, etc. He is deprived of his command. They seem to keep to themselves and have nothing to do with any other regiment. I never saw but one of them in our camp. The Sixty-second Pennsylvania was raised at Pittsburg and is twelve hundred strong, commanded by ex-Governor Black of Nebraska, formerly of Pittsburg. The Forty-fourth New York (the Ellsworths) you have heard enough of them to know them by this time—their camp is next to ours, and the two regiments are as united in feeling and everything as brothers. We are like one great regiment. The Seventeenth New York in our brigade seems to have a grudge against both of us.