Battle of Roanoke Island. – Diary of David L. Day.

David L Day–My diary of rambles with the 25th Mass

Feb. 8. At daylight, the order to fall in was heard on all sides. Putting on my equipments and taking Spitfire and a big sweet potato, which I had with much labor succeeded in baking, I took my place in my company. The brigade all ready, Gen. Foster gave the order to march. He, with Col. Upton, took his place at the right of our regiment, marching by the flank into the woods. We soon came out to the pickets and the road that runs through the island. Here we filed to the left, marching up the road. Company A, Capt. Pickett, was thrown out as skirmishers. They soon fell in with the enemy’s pickets and drove them in. The column moved up the road to within a short distance of the clearing, in front of the rebel works. On the right of the road the ground was hard and free from brush, but on the left was an almost impenetrable swamp, covered with a dense growth of tangle-brush and horse briars. The right wing of the regiment filed to the right, while the left plunged into the swamp, and with swords and jack-knives, succeeded in cutting a path until they had penetrated the swamp far enough to form our line. The regiment was now nearly all in the swamp, the right resting just across the road. The howitzer battery had taken position in the road, in front of our right wing. The 23d and 27th Massachusetts formed on our right, while the 10th Connecticut was held in reserve. We were now in line in the swamp, and facing to the front, commenced firing. The battery had already opened the ball, and were receiving the attention of the enemy in front.

We could see nothing to shoot at, but taking our range by the smoke of the enemy’s guns we blazed away. We fired high, low and obliquely, thinking if we covered a wide range of ground, we might possibly lame somebody, and it seemed our shots must have proved troublesome, for they turned their attention to us, pouring musketry and canister shot without stint into the swamp. We were up to our knees in mud and water, so their shot passed over us without doing much damage. We were now ordered to cease firing and advance, but how to advance was the question. We could stand on a bog and cut away the briars in front of us and jump to another one; where they were not too large we could crawl through them, tearing not only our clothes but our hides as well. The officers rendered good service in cutting away the briars with their swords. In this way we could advance a few steps at a time and then fire a few rounds; the enemy all this time showing us marked attention.

Capt. Foster of company D was the first man I saw hit. I was watching him as he stood on a bog, cutting away the briars with his sword, and thinking of him as colonel of the old 8th regiment Massachusetts volunteer militia, in which I used to muster. The shot struck him near the eye. He whirled round on the bog, and would have fallen had not three of his men caught him and led him to the rear.

I was rather amused at the major’s plan of rifle practice; he was practicing with a large revolver, shooting into the air at an elevation of about 80 degrees. Some one asked him what he was trying to act out. “Why,” replied the major, “you see my shots attain their summit directly over the enemy, and if one of those shot in falling should hit a man on top of his head, his goose is cooked just as effectually as though he had been hit with a cannon ball.”

By cutting and crowding ourselves through the briars, we advanced to within about 300 yards of the enemy. Our ammunition being now exhausted and having been in the swamp about three hours we were ordered out. The 21st Massachusetts took our places and the 51st New York and 51st Pennsylvania regiments forced their way through to the left front; the three regiments succeeded in getting out on the enemy’s right flank. Seeing that all was now lost, the rebels took to their heels for the head of the island, followed by Reno’s and Foster’s brigades. At the head of the island, near the enemy’s camp, was Gen. Burnside with the 24th Massachusetts regiment, to whom Col. Shaw, in command of the Confederate forces, surrendered. By this, about 3000 prisoners, with their arms, ammunition and stores, fell into our hands. But the greatest prize of all, old ex-Governor Wise, slipped through our fingers. Perhaps, having some premonitions of the fate which awaited his command, he wisely took himself off the island last night, leaving his command with Col. Shaw, of the 8th North Carolina regiment. The old governor probably acted on the principle of the militia captain who was about leading his company into action. He made them a little speech, telling them to be brave and valiant, not to run until actually forced to. “But,” he said, “in case that should happen, and I being a little lame, I think I had better start now.”

Thoughts.

During the action I had seen quite a number hit and led back to the rear, but I had little time to think much about it. After the chase commenced and we marched through the little redoubt and over the ground held by the enemy, and I began to see the mangled forms of dead and dying men, I was filled with an indescribable horror and wanted to go right home. I now began to realize what we had been doing, and thought that, if in this age of the world, with all our boasted civilization and education, men could not settle their differences short of cutting each other’s throats, we were not very far removed from barbarism. But I suppose so long as the nature of man is ambitious and selfish he will try to obtain by force what he cannot attain by other means. It was about night when we reached the Confederate camp, found the business had all been done, and Gen. Burnside was master of the situation. We now appropriated to our own use the log barracks of the enemy, leaving them to secure lodgings as best they could, as we had done the night before, with only this difference; they had a large body-guard over them, to see that they were orderly and kept the peace.

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War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Saturday, February 8. — Wrote an account of a court-martial for Captain Locke. Morning, snowed slightly, cloudy the remainder of the day. Nothing of interest happened. Captain McHarg, brigade quartermaster, said that General Porter would not allow him to get me any flooring. I can’t conceive why he should do so, but I suppose for some good reason.

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Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

Saturday 8th

Nothing new at all today, a little skirmishing over the River. Some Rebels killed and sixteen prisoners taken and brought in here last night. I have not been out and have not been on Pa. Ave for some days past.

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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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Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Diary of Alexander G. Downing; Company E, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Saturday, 8th—It is the same old thing over. We cleaned up our accouterments for inspection tomorrow.

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War Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Hall’s Hill, Va., Feb. 8, 1862.

Dear Mother, — I am now safely fixed in my tent on this hill. The tent is as warm as our parlor and can if necessary be heated to a much higher temperature. I have kept a good fire going all the time in order to dry the ground and get the dampness out. It is now comparatively dry, considering what it was when the tent was first pitched. The ground then was a perfect mud hole, but now is quite decent. For a flooring I have savin boughs, and I intended to have a plank, or rather board flooring put down, but General Porter would not allow me to get one, saying that we should be here so little while that it would not be worth while to get one. By the way, please tell Father of this remark that General Porter made at dinner to-day. After reading the account of the taking of Fort Henry he said that now, unless some terrible blunder was made, we were sure of beating them, i.e. rebels, everywhere we met them. He is not a man who talks much, and reminds me of Uncle Oliver in that respect. One can rely on what General Porter says. He is very kind and pleasant to me and every one, but I should not like to do anything he did not like, for I guess any one who did so would catch a blessing. He is not quick-tempered or anything of that kind, but he has an eye that shows some determination. He is a very handsome man, and reminds me of Tutor Gurney, but without Gurney’s projecting under jaw, and with dark colored beard and whiskers pretty closely cut. . . .

The country round here is pretty desolate looking. As fast as the army advances down go the trees, and soon they disappear in the stoves of the different camps.

There is any amount of quail and rabbits out here, and when I get a good opportunity I shall shoot some of them.

General Porter asked me about my brothers and sisters the other day. He asked me if I was the eldest, as he said there was a baby there when he left, about two or three months old.

Please tell Aunt Eliza that as far as I can find out the soldiers are well provided with everything and do not need anymore mittens. Stockings are always welcome, as they wear out easily owing to the feet slipping so in the mud. In regard to the stockings being ribbed or not, it does not make much difference. I delivered the mittens and socks to the men in my company which is now fully provided. Tell her that her socks are a great comfort to me, being so soft.

There is not much war news here. Our pickets captured 14 rebels the other day and one 4-horse wagon. It is really impossible to realize that we are so near the enemy. In fact, one never can realize it, unless he gets into a skirmish or fight with them.

We have some fine bands here, and it is quite pleasant to hear them play, it being almost the only amusement our soldiers have. The men are all drilling in target practice now and the best shots receive prizes.

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War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

8th. One day behind hand. Hardly realize that time passes so swiftly. Up town nearly all day on duty.

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Lodging found?—“We are suffering great uneasiness about the country. The enemy is attacking Roanoke Island furiously.”—Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

8th.—I have called on the two ladies mentioned above. The lady with the small income has filled her rooms, and wishes she had more to fill. She of the large house and small family had “never dreamed of taking boarders,” was “surprised that such a thing had been suggested,” looked cold and lofty, and meant me to feel that she was far too rich for that. I bowed myself out, feeling not a little scornful of such airs, particularly as I remembered the time when she was not quite so grand. I went on my way speculating on the turning of the wheel of fortune, until I reached the house of an old acquaintance, and rang her bell, hoping that she might take in wanderers. This I did not venture to suggest, but told her my story in pitiful tones. She was all sympathy, and would be glad to take us in, but for the reserve of a bachelor brother to whom the house belonged. She appreciated the situation, and advised me to call on Mrs. _____on ____ Street. Nothing daunted by past experience, I bent my steps to ____ Street, and soon explained my object to Mrs. _____. She had had vacant rooms until two days ago, but a relative had taken both. Though she spoke positively, she looked doubtful, and I thought I saw indecision in the expression of her mouth. I ventured to expostulate: “Perhaps the lady might be induced to give up one room.” She hesitated, and gave me an inquiring look. I told her my history. “An Episcopal minister,” she exclaimed; “I’m an Episcopalian, and would be delighted to have a minister in the house. Do you think he would have prayers for us sometimes?”Oh, certainly, it would gratify him very much.” “Well, the lady is not at home to-day, but when she comes I will try to persuade her to do it. Call on Monday.” I thanked her, and was walking out, when she called me back, saying, “You will not expect a constant fire in the parlour, will you?” “Oh, no; I can take my visitors to my own room.” “Well, I may be out on Monday morning; come in the evening.” I returned very much pleased, and received the congratulations of my friends, who are taking much interest in our welfare.

We are suffering great uneasiness about the country. The enemy is attacking Roanoke Island furiously. General Wise is there, and will do all that can be done; but fears are entertained that it has not been properly fortified.

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A Diary of American Events.

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

February 8.—A skirmish occurred on Linn Creek, Logan County, Va., to-day. Captain Smith, of the Fifth Virginia regiment, with twenty-one men, surprised a squad of Jenkins’s cavalry— thirty-two in number — killing eight, wounding seven, and taking the remainder prisoners, with thirty-two horses. The loss on the Union side was one killed and one wounded. Among the rebels killed was Stevens, one of the party who murdered three of Piatt’s Zouaves in such a shocking manner.—Louisville Journal, Feb. 15.

—Roanoke Island, N. C, with all its defences, was captured to-day by the combined military and naval forces of the United States, under General Burnside and Commodore Goldsborough.

The expedition entered Roanoke Inlet yesterday morning; and, soon afterwards, it entered Croatan Sound, on the western front of Roanoke Island. The enemy’s gunboats occupied a position close in-shore under the guns of two heavy works, named respectively Forts Bartow and Blanchard; and at eleven o’clock the fire was opened between them and the flag-ship of the Union squadron, (the Southfield,) and as the opposing forces more nearly approached each other, the fire became more rapid.

The enemy having obstructed the channel of Croatan Sound by an ingenious arrangement of piles extending nearly from the main-land to the island, the enemy’s gunboats, soon afterwards, fell back with the evident intent to draw the Union squadron into confusion within range of the guns of Fort Blanchard. In this, however, the enemy was not successful, and the guns of the squadron were turned on the fort with marked effect, setting fire to the barracks, etc., which burned with great fury during the remainder of the day.

During the afternoon, the transports having come up, preparations were made to debark the troops; and at half-past three o’clock, covered by the gunboats, the Fifty-first New-York, the Twenty-first and Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, the Tenth Connecticut, Fourth and Fifth Rhode Island, and Fifty-first Pennsylvania regiments, and Companies E and K of the Ninth New-Jersey were landed at Ashly’s Harbor, about two miles below Fort Bartow, and waded through mud knee-deep to Colonel Ashly’s house, and bivouacked. The landing was guarded by one third of the disposable force of the enemy, under Colonel Jordan of North-Carolina, but the fire of the covering gunboats drove it from its position without resistance.

During the afternoon the enemy’s gunboats renewed the action with the Union squadron, and a brisk engagement ensued, terminating, for the day, with the loss of the Curlew, the enemy’s largest steamer, and of the Forrest, one of his propellers, which was disabled.

At about six o’clock, after having thrown about fifteen hundred missiles of various kinds into the enemy’s squadron and battery, the fire ceased for the day, both parties preparing for a renewal of the action.

This morning, at about nine o’clock, the action between the Union gunboats and Fort Blanchard was renewed; but, after continuing about fifteen minutes, it ceased—other elements, meanwhile, having taken part in the struggle.

The approach to the enemy’s works was through a swampy wood, with dense undergrowth, rendering it almost impenetrable. Immediately in front of the first of the series of defences, a distance of three hundred yards, the trees had been felled, in order that no obstruction should prevent a proper use of the guns; and it was also defended with a ditch eight feet wide and three feet deep. It was flanked by the same impenetrable swamps which skirted the approach to it; and a heavy force of skirmishers on the left furnished an ample support.

Against this and the other defences of the island, at about half-past seven this morning, the troops were moved in three separate columns of attack. The centre, composed of a marine battery of six twelve-pounders, the Twenty-third, Twenty-fifth, and Twenty-seventh Massachusetts, and the Tenth Connecticut regiment, commanded by General Porter, moved up the narrow road, during which it encountered strong bodies of light troops, until it came in front of the enemy’s work, when its skirmishers were called in, and preparations were made for an assault.

The marine battery opened its fire on the enemy’s works, and continued it with great spirit until its ammunition had been expended, and the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, supported by the Tenth Connecticut, suffered very severely from the enemy’s fire.

In the mean time, the left flanking column, composed of the Twenty-first Massachusetts, the Fifty-first New-York, the Ninth New-Jersey, and the Fifty-first Pennsylvania regiments, commanded by General Reno; and the right flanking column, composed of the Fourth and Fifth Rhode-Island, and the Ninth New-York regiments hastened through the dense woods and swamps toward either flank of the enemy’s position, without attracting his attention.

A desperate attempt soon afterwards was made to turn the right flank of the central column of attack; and a very spirited encounter between parties from the Twenty-third and Twenty-seventh Massachusetts regiments and the Second Battalion of the Wise Legion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Anderson, resulted in the utter repulse of the latter with heavy loss, including Captain Robert Coles, killed, and Capt. O. Jennings Wise, mortally wounded.

During this engagement the two flanking columns approached the works. That on the right (General Parke’s) passed the right of the central column, when the Ninth New-Yorkers (Hawkins’ Zouaves) were ordered to charge. Major Kimball headed the storming party, and with the peculiar cheer of the regiment, the men dashed forward.

Almost at the same moment, General Reno, commanding the left column of attack, ordered the Fifty-first New-Yorkers (Shepard Rifles) and the Twenty-first Massachusetts to charge the enemy on his right flank; and, almost at the same moment, the two storming parties appeared on the opposite flanks of the enemy’s position.

Without waiting for any nearer approach of the assailants, the enemy beat a precipitate retreat, casting off their knapsacks, haversacks, coats, etc., to facilitate their flight.

The Fifty-first New-Yorkers were the first to enter the works, when they planted the stars and stripes, and the Twenty-first Massachusetts and the Hawkins’ Zouaves immediately afterwards dashed through the ditch into the captured redoubt.

The three regiments which had taken the battery, immediately pushed forward in pursuit of the fugitives, and captured several prisoners— some of them, already in boats, pushing off from the shore in their flight from the island.

The Twenty-first Massachusetts regiment diverged from the line of the enemy’s retreat to attack an encampment of North-Carolinians, which was to the northward of the captured battery, when, after a slight resistance, the enemy surrendered unconditionally to General Reno.

A few minutes afterwards, the entire island, with all its defences, garrisons, etc., together with Fort Forrest, on the main, was surrendered to General Foster, and hostilities ceased.

About three thousand prisoners, six batteries or forts, mounting forty guns, upwards of three thousand stand of small arms, and immense quantities of military stores, were taken by the Union forces, with the loss of about thirty-five killed and two hundred wounded, among the former Colonel Russell of the Tenth Connecticut, and Lieutenant-Colonel de Monteil of the Zouaves. —(Doc. 30.)

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Burnside Expedition. — Roanoke Island! – Diary of David L. Day.

David L Day–My diary of rambles with the 25th Mass

The Bombardment.

Feb. 7. A thick fog prevailed this morning and continued until about 9 o’clock, when it lifted and the gunboats got under way. Slowly they steamed towards the island and took their positions before the forts, but at a sufficient distance not to incur much damage from them. We were all eagerly watching the movements of the boats, when at about 10 o’clock, we saw a white cloud rise from one of the boats, and the next moment a huge column of dirt and sand rose from the enemy’s works, showing the effect of the shot. The fort replied from all its guns, but their shots fell short as the boats lay beyond their range. The bombardment now commenced in earnest, the boats’ sailing in a circle, and delivering their fire as they passed the fort. Their firing was not rapid, but well directed. The fort’s guns blazed away as rapidly as possible, doing some damage to the boats. At noon the transports commenced the passage of the narrow channel into Croatan sound. From here we had a much nearer and better view of the bombardment. The boats were sailing much nearer the fort and firing more rapidly. They had driven the men from the guns on the fort, and their fire was feebly replied to. At this time the shells from the boats had set the barracks and other buildings near the fort on fire. Great clouds of smoke and flame rose from the burning buildings, and the boats belched forth their fire more furiously than ever, the shots tearing up the parapet of the fort or burying themselves in the mound of sand covering the magazine. It was truly a grand and fearful exhibition! Thousands looked on with breathless suspense, expecting every moment to see the magazine blow up or the rebels strike their colors.

The enemy’s gunboats, which had been idle spectators behind the blockade, now came to the rescue; but a few well directed shots from 100-pounder rifles sent them reeling back to their places. From this time the boats had things their own way, the fort occasionally firing a shot as much as to say, we never surrender. During the bombardment a small sloop or yacht attracted a good deal of attention. She carried one 100-pounder gun. She lay low in the water, below the range of the enemy’s guns, and was skilfully handled. She sailed in the circle, running close up to the fort and delivering her fire with telling effect. With every shot she fired she was cheered by the fleet; all the bands playing.

The Landing.

About 2 p. m., preparations were made to land the troops. The little steamer Pilot Boy, with Gen. Foster aboard, and about half a mile of barges in tow, was seen approaching our boat. I was standing near Col. Upton, at the gangway forward the wheelhouse, as the Pilot Boy ran alongside, and heard Gen. Foster tell the colonel to order his men to load with ball cartridge, take three days’ rations and come aboard his boat and the barges as soon as possible. This loading with ball cartridge was a new order to me; it implied that our holiday soldiering was over. A peculiar feeling such as I had never before experienced came over me; I felt it to the very taps of my brogans, and thought I would rather be excused. I turned around and without saying a word to anyone went down stairs. Drawing Spitfire from its hiding place, I dropped in the little messenger that if needs be perhaps might carry mourning and sorrow to some southern hearthstone. In quick time we left the New York and were going towards the shore, followed by other boats containing the balance of our brigade. The intention was to land about four miles above the fort, in a little nook called Ashby bay, near Ashby house; but as we neared the bay, a line of bayonets seen above the bushes, going double quick in that direction, changed the general’s mind, and we turned our course towards a marsh a mile or more nearer the fort. As we ran alongside the marsh where we were to land, Captain Pickett of company A made a leap for the land, going half way to his neck in mud and water. He was the first man on the island. At this time the line of bayonets above the bushes was seen coming back. The little gunboat Delaware now came up and commenced shelling the bushes and woods to cover our landing. In a few minutes we were all on the marsh and wading through the mud and water for the hard land, a distance of some forty rods. On reaching this we soon came out to a small clearing, on which was a house, barn and out-buildings, the occupants of which had suddenly taken their leave. Here we found things as the occupants had left them, the cat quietly sitting in the corner and the tea-kettle singing over the fire.

Adjutant Harkness and Lieutenant Richter of company G climbed to the top of the house and nailed thereon a small flag in honor, I suppose, of our landing and notice of our intention of staying. Company A, Capt. Pickett, and company K, Capt. Denny, were sent out on a reconnoissance. They soon returned, reporting no enemy near.

5 p. m. Foster’s brigade had all landed, and by dark nearly the whole division were ashore. Now commenced the work of carrying rails and planks to build a road across the marsh to get the howitzers of the marine artillery ashore. Soon after dark, Gen. Foster, with the 21st Massachusetts and a section of the marine artillery, hauling their howitzers, went past us into the woods to establish his picket line. After a while the general returned, and said we might build fires and make ourselves comfortable. Fires were kindled and we began to look around for places to sleep, but a rain setting in, put an end to that. In the rain we stood around the camp-fires through the long night, while an occasional shot out in the woods served to keep up a little excitement and prevent us from getting sleepy.

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War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Friday, February 7. — Day cloudy. A fair sample of most of our weather when not actually stormy. I rode over to the 22d Massachusetts, and saw Tom [Sherwin] and Dr. Prince. In the afternoon rode over to Miner’s Hill with the general and staff. [Nathan] Appleton and Shattuck were here to-day. Tom Sherwin came over in the evening.

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Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Diary of Alexander G. Downing; Company E, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Friday, 7th—No news of importance. The boys had a dancing party at the depot, and some of the girls in the neighborhood who are somewhat lively were there—they seem to enjoy smoking when out in company.

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Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.

February 7th.—Still all is uncertainty here as to what is in store for us. Some are of opinion that we are to accompany the next squadron to the South; some that we go to Norfolk; others that we shall next week move on Manassas. My own opinion is that we shall remain where we are till about the first of April, then advance on Centreville, and if successful to Manassas, and thus to follow up our victories as long as we can win them.

To-day our Regiment is scouting. This morning a body of Cavalry went out from our Brigade, and returned about ten o’clock, bringing in six rebel cavalry men as prisoners. But some of our own men are missing. We immediately sent out two regiments to reconnoitre. They have returned with thirteen prisoners. Two of the Cameron Dragoons are wounded, but not badly.

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War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

7th. Friday. Went and saw Delos and Charlie. Wrote to Fannie.

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Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 7TH. —We have vague rumors of fighting at Roanoke. Nothing reliable.

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Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

Friday Feb 7th 1862

News rcd today of the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River by Comodore Foot and his Gun Boat Squadron. The news created quite a Sensation in the City as it is considered an important point. Weather damp & chilly and the Roads & crossings awful. When the roads dry up or are at least passable I intend to go over the River and visit the Camps with my family. It will be a new thing for the Boys to visit the Forts. Spent the evening at a Party at Doct Everitts. Julia was with me. Music, dancing & a late supper, did not get home till 1 o’clock a.m.

______

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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“ ‘No vacant room’ is the universal answer.”—Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

7th.—Walking all day, with no better success. “No vacant room” is the universal answer. I returned at dinner-time, wearied in mind and body. I have been cheered by suggestions that perhaps Mrs. _____, with a large family and small income, may take boarders; or Mrs. _____, with a large house and small family, may do the same.

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The Rebellion Record

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

February 7. — General Lander’s forces occupied Romney, Va., without a fight. The rebels retreated toward Winchester.—Cincinnati Gazette, February 8.

—At four o’clock this morning eleven companies of the Cameron Dragoons, Colonel Friedman, started from their camp near Washington, D. C, in the direction of Germantown, about a mile and a half from Fairfax Court-House, Va. It was the intention to make a thorough examination of the enemy’s picket lines outside the division boundaries. Owing to the early hour of starting, and secrecy and silence of the advance, they surprised a rebel picket detachment at a house near Germantown. Surrounding the house they took twelve prisoners, a capture effected, however, not without some show of resistance on the part of the enemy. Over a dozen shots were fired from the house at the Nationals. Captain Wilson was hit by one shot in the right ear, the ball passing through and making an ugly but not dangerous wound in the back of the neck. Sergeant Crumley was shot in the right leg, causing a painful but not serious flesh-wound. These were the only shots of the enemy that took effect.

While this firing was going on, a large company of mounted pickets, some of whom had escaped from the house, fled to a thicket near by and opened fire upon the National troops. Major Curry, placing his revolver at the head of one of the captured prisoners, called out to the men in the thicket if they fired another shot he would blow out the brains of every prisoner taken. This bold threat stopped the firing, and caused the rebels to plunge spurs into their horses and beat a rapid retreat across an open field.

Subsequently, upon looking into the vacant wood, the body of a dead rebel was found, which, in their retreating haste, they had left. One of the prisoners gave the name of the deceased as William Birbanks, and his residence as Barnwell Court House, N. C. He says that the deceased was a lawyer, and belonged to one of the wealthiest and most influential families in that place. This was the only rebel killed, so far as known. From traces of blood it was evident that several had been severely wounded. Besides the twelve prisoners, eight horses were taken.

The National cavalry proceeded to convey their prisoners and booty to the division headquarters. On the return the companies got separated. One squadron, under command of Captain O’Farrell, elated by their recent splendid performance, determined to make a dash towards Fairfax Courthouse on their own account. They had not advanced far before they had the satisfaction of taking four prisoners, one wagon and four horses. The men surrendered without opposition.—N. Y. Herald, February 8.

—A sword voted to Colonel Dixon H. Miles by the Legislature of the State of Maryland, was presented to him in the Hall of the House of Delegates, at Annapolis, in the presence of the members of both Houses and the Judges of the Court of Appeal. Speeches appropriate to the occasion were made by Governor Bradford and by Col. Miles.— Baltimore American, February 8.

—Harper’s Ferry, Va., was again the scene of stirring events resulting in the greater portion of it being reduced to ashes. A rebel flag of truce having approached the river, a boat was sent over to them, which was fired upon and one of the boatmen killed. Colonel Geary immediately ordered the shelling of the houses in which the rebel riflemen were concealed, including the Wager Hotel, all of which were subsequently burned. Another rebel flag afterwards approached the river, but Colonel Geary warned them off, refusing to receive it—(Doc. 29.)

—A resolution in favor of confiscating, liberating, and also arming the slaves of rebels, if it should become a military necessity, passed the State Senate of Maine to-day by a vote of twenty-four against four.

—The Lower House of Kansas, by a vote of sixty to seven, passed a resolution requesting President Lincoln to appoint General Lane a Major-General, and give him command of the Southern expedition.

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Burnside Expedition. — “Ammunition was dealt out today.” — Diary of David L. Day.

David L Day–My diary of rambles with the 25th Mass

Feb. 6. Hoisted anchor and steamed to within a short distance of the light house, and in full view of the island. Here we again dropped anchor and the day was spent in prospecting by the gunboats. They went up near the island, and after a few hours returned, reporting three forts and a number of armed boats and schooners. The thing is being managed pretty cautiously, and I expect when the show comes off, it will be ahead of anything we ever saw, not excepting Barnum’s. For one, I am not over anxious to see a fight, and especially to be a participant, but we have been afloat so long and fared so hard I wish to get ashore, no matter under what circumstances. One would have supposed, to have heard the boys talk last night, that we were all Napoleons. They talked of booming guns, the rattle of infantry, of splendid bayonet charges, brilliant victories, and deeds of courage, daring and heroism. On the principle, I suppose of those who know nothing fear nothing, but then it is a good plan not to get our tails down until we are obliged to. I even got my courage screwed up so 1 could repeat the words of some great military hero or other:

“Then welcome war, our arms to brace,

The standards planted face to face;

Tho’ death’s pale horse leads on the chase,

We’ll follow there.”

Ammunition was dealt out today, and our cartridge boxes now contain forty rounds of the death-dealing missiles. The boys seem to be in great spirits and the bands are discoursing national music.

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War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Thursday, February 6. — Stormy again to-day. General Porter came out here from Washington, and was quite kind and pleasant to me when I was introduced to him. He is quite a good-looking man, and I should judge a very pleasant one. My tent gradually begins to assume the comfortable look which some of the other tents have. All I need to make it perfectly comfortable is a floor, and this I hope to have by to-morrow night.

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Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

Thursday 6th

No news yet. All quiet. Misty day, snow all gone, more mud. In the office as usual. Went down this evening and got the NY papers & Frank Leslie for the boys. Mailed some letters for wife & Julia. Have been reading all the evening. Have put some oyster shells into the coal stove, it is said they will clear the stove of clinkers, we will see.

______

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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Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Diary of Alexander G. Downing; Company E, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Thursday, 6th—Very fine weather. There is one woman in this locality of whom the boys are afraid, for she has a large kettle of water hanging on the crane over the fireplace. This she keeps at the boiling point, and whenever any of the boys come around her premises, she is out with the hot water. They have to take lively steps to keep out of her way.

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“I do not believe there is a vacant spot in the city (Richmond).”—Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

February 6.—Spent this day in walking from one boarding-house to another, and have returned fatigued and hopeless. I do not believe there is a vacant spot in the city. A friend, who considers herself nicely fixed, is in an uncarpeted room, and so poorly furnished, that, besides her trunk, she has only her wash-stand drawer in which to deposit her goods and chattels; and yet she amuses herself at it, and seems never to regret her handsomely furnished chamber in Alexandria.

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War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

War Diary of Luman Harris Tenney.

6th. On duty again. Played chess with Adams. He beat me four games to my two.

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Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

FEBRUARY 6TH. —The President is preparing his Inaugural Message for the 22d, when he is to begin his new administration of six years. He is to read it from the Washington Monument in Capitol Square.

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A Captain now for three weeks. — War Letters of William Thompson Lusk.

War Letters of William Thompson Lusk.

Headquarters 2d Brigade, S. C.

Beaufort, S. C. Feb. 6th, 1862.

My dear Mother:

… I have received the little prayer-book from Nannie Day and thank the dear soul many times for a remembrance that by no means is needless to a soldier. You may tell her that I have several times carried it in my pocket, when circumstances have been such as to prevent my using the larger book which was packed in my trunk. I must not forget now either, Tom’s photograph which I display with pride along with those of Hunt, Uncle John, and my own mother. To-day the “Ellwood Walter” arrived at Beaufort where the Connecticut battery is to be landed. I went on board immediately, hoping, notwithstanding his illness, Captain Rockwell might be aboard, but learned he would in all likelihood arrive by the next steamer. The “Atlantic” is looked for now hourly, and I trust he may be aboard. I was not a little disappointed to learn from the officers of the battery, that not a man of them all, except the Captain, had ever fired a gun (cannon) in his life, for I had boasted much of the Connecticut battery which was to be sent to Port Royal. Any time the good Governor of Connecticut, or the sons of the worthy state, see fit to honor me, I am open to anything like promotion. So goes the world. I have only held as a secure and settled thing, my position as Captain about three weeks, when I talk of something better. I will confess to you now, that though, since deserted by Lieut- (now Captain) Sam Elliott,[1] I have held command of a company of Highlanders, and though I had been led to suppose for a time (on my first being transferred to the Staff) I held it as Captain, under which supposition I wrote you, stating the -same, my real title to the rank of Captain has only dated since the short time I have mentioned. But having made the mistake once, there was nothing left for me to do but to try to get a Captaincy as soon as possible, and now that I have received the congratulations of the Regiment and Brigade, I think I may mention the matter candidly. Dear old Walter, I shall be glad to hear from him. I have lately written Hall, and trust he will forget my neglect in times past. There is going to be a “Nigger shout” to-night, which a number of the officers are going to attend. As I have no definite idea of the character of the performance except that it is a relic of native African barbarism, I shall attempt no description. Give my best love to all my dear friends at home. I do not forget their kind words, or wishes, though I do not often mention them.

Your Affec. Son,

W. T. Lusk.


[1] Lieutenant Samuel R. Elliott resigned from the 79th Highlanders Sept., 1861. He subsequently served as Surgeon in other regiments, up to the close of the war.

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