24th.—Another day of inaction near Gaine’s Mill, on the Chickahominy. An instance of petty despotism occurred to-day. I was sick, confined to my bed. We were approaching Richmond, with prospect of a fight. The Division Surgeon procured an order from General Smith, detailing me to organize and take charge of a hospital at Liberty Hall. I reported sick. The order was repeated; the report was repeated. The order came the third time, with the same result. General ______ took the matter in hand, and ordered me from my quarters, as a non-effective, to this hospital, or house, unorganized, without any provivisions for the sick, now packed full of soldiers, suffering with infectious diseases of the worst kind. From this order I had to appeal to the Division Commander, who at once had it rescinded, and the “amiable General H______” was cheated of his victim.
Cold Harbor, Powhite Swamp, Va..
Saturday, May 24, 1862.
Dear Brother and Sister:—
My duty as bugler exempts me from guard and picket duty. While at Yorktown bugles and drums were not used and I had nothing to do, so I went into the ranks again and volunteered to do picket duty and work in the trenches, and took my regular turn in all the work of the regiment except camp guard which I always had an aversion to and wouldn’t do when I was not required to. We had a corps of twelve buglers when we left Fort Monroe and I was the leader, but, finding that a good many more than was necessary, the colonel dismissed all but two, Lederer and myself. Now, I’ll just give you an idea of our duties. At sunrise buglers at brigade headquarters sound the “brigade call” and the “reveille” (rev-el-lee is camp pronunciation). The buglers of each regiment as quickly as possible assemble on the color line, give their regimental call and repeat the reveille. The fifes and drums follow and awake the men. This is the signal to rise and fall in for roll call.
You may guess that the buglers of an army of 30,000 men all within sound of each other, make some music. At sunset we have another call, “The Retreat.” At half past eight the “Tattoo,” at nine the “Extinguish Lights.” Then there are calls “To Strike Tents,” “To Assemble,” “To the Color,” “Sick Call,” “Officers Call,” “Church Call,” etc. It is our duty to repeat all such calls that are first sounded at headquarters. On the march, the order to march, or halt, or lie down and rest, etc., in fact, all orders are given by the bugle.
May 24 — This morning we started from camp at three o’clock. It was very dark, but we passed on through the darkness and arrived at Front Royal by sunrise. Front Royal is situated near the western base of the Blue Ridge, one mile from the Shenandoah River, twenty-five miles below Luray, and eighteen miles from Winchester. Yesterday evening we heard cannon in the direction of Front Royal. We learned this morning that it was a Yankee battery shelling our cavalry near town.
This morning I saw about four hundred prisoners that were captured yesterday.
Captain Sheetz of Ashby’s Cavalry, a gallant, daring, and brave officer, was killed at Waterlick, a station between Front Royal and Strasburg on the Manassas railroad. I saw his body this morning in Front Royal.
We crossed the Shenandoah near Front Royal on a bridge that the Yankees built. They attempted to burn it yesterday, but our men pressed them so hard they failed to destroy it.
We went in pursuit of the enemy on the Winchester pike some six or seven miles, then returned to the Shenandoah River without seeing any Yanks. Then we were ordered to Middletown, on the Valley pike, at which place we arrived about two o’clock this afternoon. Before we got in sight of the pike we saw a line of Yankee skirmishers. We fired on them, and at the first fire they ran away like wild men. When we came in sight of the pike we saw heavy clouds of dust rising all along the road, which we soon learned was caused by a hastily retreating army — with cavalry, artillery, infantry, wagons, ambulances, and sutler shops all in one mixed-up caravan—fleeing toward Winchester like clouds scudding before a driving storm. At a half mile range we opened on the flying mixture with all four of our guns, and as our shells plowed gap after gap through the serried column it caused consternation confounded, and vastly increased the speed of the hurrying mixed fugitive mass. When we first attacked the enemy at Middletown we had a company of the Eighth Louisiana Regiment of infantry, in which were some of the Mississippi Tigers, as a support, and sharpshooters for our battery. When we opened fire a Yankee captain of cavalry left the fleeing fugitives, jumped his horse across a fence, flourished his saber, and beckoned to his comrades to follow him, but his mixedup troop kept on down the pike as if they were deeply impressed with the idea that the safest and surest way to save their country’s flag was to run away with it.
The Tigers saw the Yankee captain when he jumped into the field. They opened fire on him with their long-ranged rifles. I saw him fall soon after, and heard some of the Tigers say, “That will do him. Fire at the others in the road.”
It was fun for the Tigers to fight cavalry, but it looked a shame to shoot down the lone Yankee captain as he was vainly trying to rally his men, to defend the running remnant of Banks’ army, but alas! such is war. Immediately after the last Yanks passed Middletown we double-quicked to the pike and pursued them, firing on them from every available position until we arrived at Newtown, which is five miles below Middletown. In the pursuit I saw abandoned baggage wagons, commissary wagons, wagons laden with medical stores, sutler goods, and all sorts of army equipments strewn along the track of the hastily retiring enemy.
Just above Newtown in a field on the west side of the pike I saw where a whole regiment shelled off their knapsacks and left them lying in a well-formed line and apparently in good order. A little below Middletown and about six hundred yards to our left, in the edge of a woods, we saw a company of Yankee cavalry under a Confederate flag. They were behaving themselves nicely, and no doubt making observations and taking bearings. As quickly as Captain Chew convinced himself that they were Yanks he ordered me to unlimber and fire on them. I did so, and that was my maiden shot, my first effort at gunnery, and a lovely maiden it was. The shell I fired was way too high and went at least half a mile beyond the Yanks, and exploded, but it surely made the Yanks “git.”
It was drawing toward sunset when we arrived at Newtown, and as our horses had not been fed since three o’clock this morning we halted in town and fed them in the street. But before our horses were done eating some Yankee infantry rallied just below town, threw out a line of sharpshooters, and advanced on us. We fired on them with one piece from the street, but we had no support and their sharpshooters were creeping up along fences and behind sheds and houses, which rendered our surroundings a little dangerous and our situation hazardous and unhealthy, as we had no support of either cavalry or infantry. Our Tiger support had not come up yet, and I do not know just where our cavalry was at that time. All the events that transpired in the last five hours came in quick succession.
When we found that we could not hold our position in town against the advancing sharpshooters, we retired to a hill just south of town, went in position and fired on the line of sharpshooters, which was still advancing and firing on us. They had long-range rifles, and made it a little too sickly for us on the first hill, and as we limbered up and started away I saw a sharpshooter in the middle of the street drop on one knee and shoot at us at a distance of nearly half a mile. When he fired I heard the bullet whiz close by my head. It struck the lead driver to my team and went clear through him, from back to breast, but it did not kill. We put him in a farmhouse near by.
Just after we left our position Jackson’s infantry came up and drove the enemy back in a sort of double-quick style. About a mile below Newtown the Yanks attempted to rally for the special purpose of defending some commissary wagons that were disabled, but Jackson’s men pressed them so hard in a skirmish that sounded very much like a young battle that the enemy hastily turned the wagons over to the yelling Rebels and fell back toward Winchester. This last skirmish of the day occurred after dark. After Jackson’s infantry came up and passed to the front and while our battery was awaiting orders, a few of us got permission from the proper authority to go on a twenty-minute pilfering raid among the debris and spoils scattered all along the road of Banks’ routed army.
The first prize we struck was a wagon standing in a wheat field, loaded with large square boxes full of military clothing. The first box we opened was full of dark blue frock coats with brass eagle military buttons.
I got four coats, but they were too blue for a Rebel to wear on the field, and too bulky to carry, so after all I had nothing but a blue elephant on hand. I saw plenty of knapsacks strewn over the fields and road. However, the most of them had already passed through the raking process thoroughly applied by Confed. snatchers. After a real ragged Rebel rifles a knapsack I would not give a cancelled postage stamp for what he leaves.
Nearly all the wreckage was strewn on the west side of the pike, yet we found one wagon on the east side that was standing with the fore wheels in a deep impassable ditch. When we got to it a lone cavalryman was standing in the hind part of the wagon, pounding on a barrel head with a stone. Our first conclusions were that the barrels contained pickled pork, and awaited patiently the cavalryman’s successful assault in gaining access to its contents, as a good chunk of pickled pork would have been a very acceptable and highly appreciated prize, for my external haversack was entirely empty and the internal one almost in the same fix. It did not take long for our gallant beating cavalryman to “strike ile.” When I heard the barrel head splash into something liquid the delighted cavalryman exclaimed, “Whisky, by George!” and I saw him bow down a willing worshiper at this lowly shrine of Bacchus, and he sampled without cup or canteen the mirth-inspiring contents of a full barrel. There were ten barrels in the wagon. I did not want any to be joyful on an empty stomach, I had no canteen, my twenty minutes’ leave of absence had about expired, and the rosy glow of fading twilight was fast changing into the sable shades of night, so I struck a bee-line for the battery, with nothing but four blue coats that I had no use for.
At the lower end of Middletown I saw a dead Yankee lying against a stone fence, with a splendid-looking watch chain hanging from his vest pocket. From its appearance I am almost confident it was gold. I had a good opportunity to snatch it, but there was a kind of restraining superstition playing through my mind, which seemed to whisper dogmatically that it is unalloyed sacrilege to rob the dead. I heeded the silent monitor and left the chain and Yankee untouched. I am confident that there was a watch in the vest pocket. We are camped for the night at Newtown.
Dear Mother, — I seize five spare moments for you, as I have not written for three days. Last night we half filled this ship with the worst cases from the shore hospital. She will probably fill up to-day from the “Elm City,” and sail to-morrow. The men are mostly very sick, but no deaths occurred last night. Oh! what stories I shall have to tell you one of these days. Instances of such high unselfishness happen daily that, though I forget them daily, I feel myself strengthened in my trust in human nature, without making any reflections about it. Last night a wounded man, comfortably put to bed in a middle berth (there are three tiers, and the middle one incomparably the best), seeing me point to the upper berth as the place to put a man on an approaching streteher, cried out: “Stop! put me up there. Guess I can stand h’isting better ‘n him.” It was agony to both.
There is great discussion among the doctors as to the character of the fever; some call it typhoid, others say it is losing that type and becoming malarial remittent. It matters little to me what it is; the poor fellows all look alike, — dry, burned-up, baked, either in a dull stupor or a low, anxious delirium. They show little or no excitement, but are dull, weary, and sad. The percentage of sickness is thought to be small for an army on the march through such a region.
We are all well, and cheerful now that our work begins once more. Idleness depressed us a little. We now have over one hundred very sick men on board. Mrs. Griffin and I have just finished our morning’s work below; Mrs. M. and Georgy have taken our places, and we have come on deck for a mouthful of fresh air. This morning, before I was up, I heard a crash and a cry, and the bowsprit of a large vessel, which the tide had swung upon us, glanced into the port-hole at the foot of my bed, tore through the partition, and, I believe, demolished the berth on the other side of it. The captain, who takes great pride in his ship, and has employed these leisure days in getting her painted, is now leaning over the side, looking at the defaced and splintered wood-work with a melancholy air.
Good-by. Called off.
 The death-rate of the British forces during the first year of the Crimean War was: July, August, September, 1854, 293 per 1000 men; October, November, December, 511 per 1000 men; reaching in January, 1855, the fearful rate of 1174 per 1000 men, of which 97 per cent was from disease, — in other words, a rate at which it would be necessary to replace a dead army by a living one in 10¼ months. Then it was that the British Government established sanitary operations; and as soon as their influence was felt — May, June, July, 1855 — the death-rate fell to 250 per 1000, and from that time rapidly diminished, till in January, 1856 (one year from its culmination), it was 25 per 1000 men. The mortality of the United States army during the campaign in Virginia of 1862 was 165 per 1000 men. To what was this difference owing? Not to the fact that our troops brought a greater amount of health into the service, for their mortality during the preceding period of inaction was much greater than that of the British army during a like period. It was owing in part, undoubtedly, to lessons learned from the Crimean War; but it was also in a great degree owing to the Sanitary Commission, to its careful inspection of recruits, camps, regiments, and to the advice which the military authorities so wisely allowed it to give on all sanitary and hygienic subjects to the regimental commanders. Surely the Commission has a right to point to the comparatively small mortality of our forces (small when we consider the nature of the climate and the unseasoned condition of volunteers), and claim a part, at least, of the credit of it.
May 24th.—The enemy are landing at Georgetown. With a little more audacity where could they not land? But we have given them such a scare, they are cautious. If it be true, I hope some cool-headed white men will make the negroes save the rice for us. It is so much needed. They say it might have been done at Port Royal with a little more energy. South Carolinians have pluck enough, but they only work by fits and starts; there is no continuous effort; they can’t be counted on for steady work. They will stop to play—or enjoy life in some shape.
Without let or hindrance Halleck is being reenforced. Beauregard, unmolested, was making some fine speeches— and issuing proclamations, while we were fatuously looking for him to make a tiger’s spring on Huntsville. Why not? Hope springs eternal in the Southern breast.
My Hebrew friend, Mem Cohen, has a son in the war. He is in John Chesnut’s company. Cohen is a high name among the Jews: it means Aaron. She has long fits of silence, and is absent-minded. If she is suddenly roused, she is apt to say, with overflowing eyes and clasped hands, “If it please God to spare his life.” Her daughter is the sweetest little thing. The son is the mother’s idol. Mrs. Cohen was Miriam de Leon. I have known her intimately all my life.
Mrs. Bartow, the widow of Colonel Bartow, who was killed at Manassas, was Miss Berrien, daughter of Judge Berrien, of Georgia. She is now in one of the departments here, cutting bonds—Confederate bonds—for five hundred Confederate dollars a year, a penniless woman. Judge Carroll, her brother-in-law, has been urgent with her to come and live in his home. He has a large family and she will not be an added burden to him. In spite of all he can say, she will not forego her resolution. She will be independent. She is a resolute little woman, with the softest, silkiest voice and ways, and clever to the last point.
Columbia is the place for good living, pleasant people, pleasant dinners, pleasant drives. I feel that I have put the dinners in the wrong place. They are the climax of the good things here. This is the most hospitable place in the world, and the dinners are worthy of it.
In Washington, there was an endless succession of state dinners. I was kindly used. I do not remember ever being condemned to two dull neighbors: on one side or the other was a clever man; so I liked Washington dinners.
In Montgomery, there were a few dinners—Mrs. Pollard’s, for instance, but the society was not smoothed down or in shape. Such as it was it was given over to balls and suppers. In Charleston, Mr. Chesnut went to gentlemen’s dinners all the time; no ladies present. Flowers were sent to me, and I was taken to drive and asked to tea. There could not have been nicer suppers, more perfect of their kind than were to be found at the winding up of those festivities.
In Richmond, there were balls, which I did not attend— very few to which I was asked: the MacFarlands’ and Lyons’s, all I can remember. James Chesnut dined out nearly every day. But then the breakfasts—the Virginia breakfasts—where were always pleasant people. Indeed, I have had a good time everywhere—always clever people, and people I liked, and everybody so good to me.
Here in Columbia, family dinners are the specialty. You call, or they pick you up and drive home with you. “Oh, stay to dinner!” and you stay gladly. They send for your husband, and he comes willingly. Then comes a perfect dinner. You do not see how it could be improved; and yet they have not had time to alter things or add because of the unexpected guests. They have everything of the best—silver, glass, china, table linen, and damask, etc. And then the planters live “within themselves,” as they call it. From the plantations come mutton, beef, poultry, cream, butter, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.
It is easy to live here, with a cook who has been sent for training to the best eating-house in Charleston. Old Mrs. Chesnut’s Romeo was apprenticed at Jones’s. I do not know where Mrs. Preston’s got his degree, but he deserves a medal.
At the Prestons’, James Chesnut induced Buck to declaim something about Joan of Arc, which she does in a manner to touch all hearts. While she was speaking, my husband turned to a young gentleman who was listening to the chatter of several girls, and said: “Ecoutez! ” The youth stared at him a moment in bewilderment; then, gravely rose and began turning down the gas. Isabella said: ” Ecoutez, then, means put out the lights.”
I recall a scene which took place during a ball given by Mrs. Preston while her husband was in Louisiana. Mrs. Preston was resplendent in diamonds, point lace, and velvet. There is a gentle dignity about her which is very attractive; her voice is low and sweet, and her will is iron. She is exceedingly well informed, but very quiet, retiring, and reserved. Indeed, her apparent gentleness almost amounts to timidity. She has chiseled regularity of features, a majestic figure, perfectly molded.
Governor Manning said to me: “Look at Sister Caroline. Does she look as if she had the pluck of a heroine?” Then he related how a little while ago William, the butler, came to tell her that John, the footman, was drunk in the cellar—mad with drink; that he had a carving-knife which he was brandishing in drunken fury, and he was keeping everybody from their business, threatening to kill any one who dared to go into the basement. They were like a flock of frightened sheep down there. She did not speak to one of us, but followed William down to the basement, holding up her skirts. She found the servants scurrying everywhere, screaming and shouting that John was crazy and going to kill them. John was bellowing like a bull of Bashan, knife in hand, chasing them at his pleasure.
Mrs. Preston walked up to him. “Give me that knife,” she demanded. He handed it to her. She laid it on the table. “Now come with me,” she said, putting her hand on his collar. She led him away to the empty smoke-house, and there she locked him in and put the key in her pocket. Then she returned to her guests, without a ripple on her placid face. “She told me of it, smiling and serene as you see her now,” the Governor concluded.
Before the war shut him in, General Preston sent to the lakes for his salmon, to Mississippi for his venison, to the mountains for his mutton and grouse. It is good enough, the best dish at all these houses, what the Spanish call “the hearty welcome.” Thackeray says at every American table he was first served with “grilled hostess.” At the head of the table sat a person, fiery-faced, anxious, nervous, inwardly murmuring, like Falstaff, “Would it were night, Hal, and all were well.”
At Mulberry the house is always filled to overflowing, and one day is curiously like another. People are coming and going, carriages driving up or driving off. It has the air of a watering-place, where one does not pay, and where there are no strangers. At Christmas the china closet gives up its treasures. The glass, china, silver, fine linen reserved for grand occasions come forth. As for the dinner itself, it is only a matter of greater quantity—more turkey, more mutton, more partridges, more fish, etc., and more solemn stiffness. Usually a half-dozen persons unexpectedly dropping in make no difference. The family let the housekeeper know; that is all.
People are beginning to come here from Richmond. One swallow does not make a summer, but it shows how the wind blows, these straws do—Mrs. “Constitution ” Browne and Mrs. Wise. The Gibsons are at Doctor Gibbes’s. It does look squally. We are drifting on the breakers.
May 24th. Rained hard most of the day, putting a stop to all military work. In the afternoon Captain McKay and I made an inventory of the effects of poor McKibben, our late jovial quartermaster, who died of a fever contracted at Ship Point, on the 17th ult. We all regret him very much, for his amiable disposition, and excellent abilities. Broom will now be commissioned in his place; he has been acting as such since McKibben was taken sick. Wrote home (as did almost every man in camp I think), and told them how close we are to the enemy, and what they may expect very soon. Camp dull and cheerless to-night, all anxious for the rain to stop, so that we may continue the forward movement.
May 24.—A skirmish took place at Craighead Point, near Fort Pillow, Tennessee, between a party of Federal pickets and a large body of rebel infantry. After the two parties had exchanged a few shots, the Union gunboat Benton opened fire upon the rebels and brought on an engagement with the batteries at Fort Pillow, which was closed by the Benton retiring to her position with the Union fleet.—New-York World.
—Five companies of the Fourth Michigan regiment, under Bowen, of the Topographical Engineers, and Lieutenant Cusher, of the Fifth cavalry, acting with the Topographical corps, crossed the Chickahominy a short distance above New-Bridge. At Cold Harbor a small command of thirty men, of the Fourth Michigan, succeeded in getting between four companies of the Fifth Louisania regiment, who were out on picket-duty at the bridge, and a brigade of rebels who were supporting them.
In the mean time, the rest of the regiment and the squadrons of cavalry approached the bridge, thus attracting the attention of the four Louisiana companies. The first knowledge the rebels had of the near presence of an enemy, was the firing from thirty muskets at pistol-shot range, making havoc in the ranks and causing a serious panic, while the main body advanced in front and opened a deadly fire.
The result was, that thirty-seven of the enemy were taken prisoners, fifteen wounded, and between sixty and seventy left dead on the field. Among the prisoners was a lieutenant. Lieut. Bowen had his horse shot under him during the skirmish.—(Doc. 45.)
— A Union meeting was held at Murfreesboro, Tenn., at which speeches were made by Andrew Johnson and others. — Louisville Journal, May 26.
— Yesterday General Stoneman’s brigade and the brigade of General Davidson, of Smith’s division, advanced from New-Bridge up the Chickahominy to Ellison’s Mills, on Bell’s Creek. Here they encountered four regiments of the enemy’s infantry, with nine pieces of artillery and a command of cavalry. Of these, two regiments of infantry and three pieces of artillery were on the opposite side of the creek. The rest of the infantry, composed of the Eighth and Ninth Georgia regiments, under General Howell Cobb, were posted in a favorable position to resist McClellan’s advance to Mechanicsville.
Fitlar’s and Robertson’s batteries of the Second artillery, were quickly brought into action, and after firing some one hundred and fifty rounds the rebels withdrew, with their guns — not however, until one of them had been dismounted — to the village, covered by their infantry and cavalry. Four regiments of General Davidson’s brigade, with Wheeler’s battery, were then sent around, but night coming on, they went into camp, within six hundred yards of the enemy.
This morning at daylight, the batteries on both sides opened, Wheeler confining his guns to shelling the houses behind which the enemy’s infantry were concealed. The fire was too hot for the rebels, and they left the village, a portion retiring across the Chickahominy, the remainder falling back to the railroad. The Thirty-third New York regiment were the first to enter the village. The houses showed unmistakable evidences of the accuracy of the artillery, some of them being riddled in a dozen places. The rebels carried off their killed and wounded, one man excepted. The Union casualties were two killed and four wounded. Colonel Mason, of the Seventh Maine, was slightly injured by the explosion of a shell.
General Stoneman then sent two squadrons of the Eighth Illinois cavalry under Major Clendennin, three miles further up the river, and caused to be destroyed the bridge of the Richmond and Fredericksburgh Railroad.
—The British steamer Stettin was captured this morning while attempting to run the blockade of Charleston, S. C.—Charleston Mercury, May 27.
— A reconnoitring party from Pope’s command had a skirmish near Corinth, Miss., resulting in a complete rout of three rebel regiments, with loss of knapsacks, blankets, and haversacks, several were killed and wounded, and six prisoners were taken. The regiments fled in confusion across the creek. The national loss was four wounded.
— A party of National troops from the Fifth Virginia regiment, and Captain Fish’s company of Connecticut cavalry, under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Latham, surprised a guerrilla band on Snuff’s Mountain, Randolph County, Va., and put them to flight, capturing most of their arms and equipments, and without any loss on the National side.— Wheeling Intelligencer, May 27.
— The steamer Swan, laden with one thousand bales of cotton, and eight hundred barrels of rosin, was captured off the coast of Cuba by the United States brig Bainbridge, and bark Amanda, and sent to Key West, Florida, for adjudication.—National Intelligencer, June 2.
—A reconnoissance in force was this day made from General Keyes’s headquarters, for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the rebels in the neighborhood of ” the Pines,” some eight and a half miles from Richmond, Va.—(Doc. 115.)
“Three skirmishes to-day. We drove the rebels from Mechanicsville, seven miles from New-Bridge. The Fourth Michigan about finished the Louisiana Tigers. Fifty prisoners and fifty killed; our loss ten killed and wounded.”
Flat Top Mountain, May 23, 1862. Friday. — Warm and dry; getting dusty!! Mr. French lies here wounded — his thigh bone shattered by a ball that passed clear through his leg. Dr. McCurdy thinks he will not survive more than three or four weeks. . . . Our regiment elected him chaplain a week or two ago to date from the day of battle, May 1, 1862. I hope the Governor will commission [him] promptly. . . .
The Commercial is reported as saying that people may “act as if they had heard some very good news” from General Halleck’s army.
It is dusty!! A cold wind blowing. The plan of going to Packs Ferry and crossing New River, uniting with Colonel Crook, and thence through Union to Christiansburg, is not yet fixed upon.
Written from the Sea islands of South Carolina.
[Diary] May 23.
Ellen is coming at last. I felt sure no one could stop her. Mr. McKim is also to come as Philadelphia agent, and I am free.
We have been for three days going to various plantations, once to Mr. Zacha’s at Paris Island, once to Mrs. Mary Jenkins’, Mr. Wells’ and to Edgar Fripp’s, or to Frogmore, Mr. Saulis’; also to Edding’s Point and one other place. At the three places of Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Fripp, and Edding, the wretched hovels with their wooden chimneys and the general squalor showed the former misery. One woman said the differences in the times were as great as if God had sent another Moses and a great deliverance — that it was heaven upon earth and earth in heaven now. They all seemed to love Mr. Wells. We saw there one woman whose two children had been whipped to death, and Mr. Wells said there was not one who was not marked up with welts. He had the old whip which had a ball at the end, and he had seen the healed marks of this ball on their flesh — the square welts showed where it had taken the flesh clean out. Loretta of this place showed me her back and arms to-day. In many places there were ridges as high and long as my little finger, and she said she had had four babies killed within her by whipping, one of which had its eye cut out, another its arm broken, and the others with marks of the lash. She says it was because even while “heaviest” she was required to do as much as usual for a field hand, and not being able, and being also rather apt to resist, and rather smart in speaking her mind, poor thing, she has suffered; and no wonder Grace, her child, is of the lowest type; no wonder she is more indifferent about her clothes and house than any one here. She says this was the cruelest place she was ever in.
The happiest family I know here is old Aunt Bess’s Minda and Jerry and herself. They are always joking and jolly but very gentle. When I go there at night to dress Bess’s foot I find her lying upon her heap of rags with the roaches running all over her and little Leah or some small child asleep beside her.’ Jerry got me some of the pine sticks they use for candles. They hold one for me while I dress the foot.
It is very interesting to observe how the negroes watch us for fear we shall go away. They are in constant dread of it and we cannot be absent a single day without anxiety on their part. It is very touching to hear their entreaties to us to stay, and their anxious questions. They have a horrible dread of their masters’ return, especially here where Massa Dan’l’s name is a terror.
They appreciate the cheapness of our goods and especially of the sugar at the Overseer house, and are beginning to distrust the cotton agents who have charged them so wickedly.
The scenes in the cotton-house used to be very funny. Miss W. would say to some discontented purchaser who was demurring at the price of some article, “Well, now, I don’t want to sell this. I believe I won’t sell it to-day. But if you want to take it very much at a dollar and a half, you may have it. Oh, you don’t? Well, then, I can’t sell you anything. No, you can’t have anything. We are doing the best we can for you and you are not satisfied; you won’t be contented. Just go — go now, please. We want all the room and air we can get. You don’t want to buy and why do you stay? No, I shall not let you have anything but that. I don’t want to sell it, but you may have it for a dollar and a half,” etc., etc. This is one of many real scenes. The people are eager, crazy to buy, for they are afraid of their money, it being paper, and besides, they need clothes and see finer things than ever in their lives before. Except when they are excited they are very polite, always saying “Missus” to us, and “Sir” to one another. The children say, “Good-mornin’, ma’am,” whenever they see us first in the day, and once I overheard two girls talking just after they had greeted me. One said, “I say good-mornin’ to my young missus [Miss Pope] and she say, ‘I slap your mouth for your impudence, you nigger.'” I have heard other stories that tell tales.
The white folks used to have no cooking-utensils of their own here. They came and required certain things. The cooks hunted among the huts and borrowed what they needed till the family went away, of course straining every nerve to get such cooking as should please. “I would do anything for my massa,” Susannah says, “if he would n’t whip me.”
On May 7, as Mr. Pierce stepped off the boat at Hilton Head and walked up the pier, a Mr. Nobles, chief of the cotton agents here, came forward saying that he had a letter for him. Then he struck him upon the head, felled him, and beat him, saying that Mr. P. had reported him to the Secretary of the Treasury and had got a saddle and bridle of his. Mr. Pierce got up with difficulty and took only a defensive part. Some soldiers took Mr. Nobles off. Mr. Pierce had really mentioned this man and his agents, which was his duty as guardian of these people, for they were imposing upon the negroes shamefully. They, of course, hate this whole Society of Superintendents, etc., who will not see the negroes wronged. So Mr. P. has had his touch of martyrdom.
The Philadelphia consignment of goods — in all $2000 worth — would have done immense good if it had come in season. The people of these islands, whom Government does not ration (because there is corn here) had nothing but hominy to eat, were naked, were put to work at cotton, which they hated, as being nothing in their own pockets and all profit to the superintendent, who they could not be sure were not only another set of cotton agents or cotton planters; and so discontent and trouble arose. Mr. Pierce said to them that they should be fed, clothed, and paid, but they waited and waited in vain, trusting at first to promises and then beginning to distrust such men as were least friendly to them.
The first rations of pork — “splendid bacon,” everybody says — was dealt out the other day and there has been great joy ever since, or great content. If this had only come when first ordered there would have been this goodwill and trust from the first. They even allow the removal of the corn from one plantation to another now without murmuring, and that they were very much opposed to before.
May 23 — We renewed our march this morning down the Luray Valley. We passed some of Jackson’s infantry this afternoon. They were marching toward Front Royal. We are camped eight miles above Front Royal.
Friday, 23d—We formed a line of battle at 4 o’clock this morning, but the rebels did not make their expected attack. The army generally now forms a line of battle every morning at 4 and remains in line until about 6 o’clock. It rained some today, and on account of the wet weather it was only at times that there was activity along the lines.
23rd. Started at 8 A. M. for Iola. Marched fifteen miles. Saw George. Shaved by Charlie Fairbanks. Encamped out in the open air by Turkey Creek. A. B. and I cooked our suppers. Happy time. A grand ridge of mounds surrounds us.
23rd.—No movement. Should this journal, after I am gone, fall into the hands of persons, who shall undertake to read it, and shall complain that these everlasting records of “no movement,” “all quiet,” and “thunder storms,” are dry food for the mind, I answer them now : That the hardships which we suffer in this world, instead of awakening a sympathy for others in the same condition, are more apt to call up unworthy comparisons, with a remark, that “they need not complain; they are no worse off than we are.” And just so at this moment, I find the physical man of the army answering the complaints of mental man in civil life, finding fault with the dullness of these records. Try, says he, long camping and disappointed expectations, amid the swamps of the Chickahominy, living on half rations of hard crackers and salt beef, and you will then be able to appreciate the hardships of dry food, and the difficulty of assimulating from it moist ideas.
But, at 5 P. M.,—an event. Our Balloon is up, with Professer Lowe and General McClellan, taking observations of the enemy and his movements. Boom—speaks a big gun from away beyond the Chickahominy. Bang—a little cloud of smoke just over the balloon, and the fragments of a shell hiss and screech in all directions around it! Ah, General, are yon thinking. Eight hundred feet above the earth, how quickly that shell, or the one this moment coming in search of you, by a passing touch with the gossamar web which holds you suspended above your fellow men, would extinguish all the hopes and bright visions of political or military glory, which sometimes form the brightest jewel in the crown of patriotism? Or are you reflecting on the solicitude with which you are now watched by the tens of thousands of humble but anxious men, praying, without one selfish feeling, to the God of the patriot, to protect and preserve you, on whom they feel now rests the solution of the greatest problem, in the moral as well as the political history of the world? I wish I knew your thoughts just now. I wish I could know that they are as far above the grovelling, selfish ambition of some of those now watching you, as you this moment swing higher than they.
And now, oh General! look down, I beseech you, from your airy height, on your little army below, and devise means to preserve it from the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Particularly guard from those evils, your officers; and most particularly your journeyman Generals. Teach them that it requires more than accidental promotion, or even accidental success without merit, to make great men of little ones. Teach them, I beseech you, the folly of vanity; whilst you inculcate the fact that many of your officers are doubly blessed with permission to carry all their brains in their shoulder straps, leaving their heads unincumbered, and to be used for substantial purposes.
Teach your men to be not only obedient and respectful, but submissive to the whims of then- superiors; that they have no right to any of the comforts to be gathered by the wayside; that should they find the fishes, the fruits, the poultry and other delicacies of the country guarded against their approach, for the comfort of their Generals, to remember that these Generals were never confined to hard bread and dried beef, on long marches, and can therefore never appreciate the wants and the sufferings of the common soldiers, who are; and that their might gives right to appropriate all these to themselves. Teach them that when, at the close of a hard day’s march, through mud and rain, should a “double quick” be required of them, their commander, being well mounted, can know nothing of the impossibility of obedience, and that terribly profane oaths are at such times the only gentlemanly invigorators known to Generals. Teach them that obedience from submission, and not from principle or affection, is the only rule to be recognized in your army; that in becoming soldiers they ceased to be men; and all for thy glory and thine honor.
Cold Harbor, Powhite Swamp,Va..
Friday, May 23, 1862.
Dear Sister L.:—
I think I have not written to you since we left Yorktown. Doubtless you have plenty of papers and have heard all about that long ago. We went on board a steamer there and landed at West Point, the head of York river, the day after the battle and camped three days on the battlefield. We then followed the “river road” up the Pamunkey to Kent Court House, Cumberland and White House landing, Tunstall’s, Hanover, etc., on the road to Richmond. We are now within ten miles of the rebel capital. What lies beyond I do not know, but suspect that the enemy is in considerable force not far off. General Butterfield sent me an order this morning not to give the reveille with the bugle, and the bugles and drums are as silent to-day as they were before Yorktown. We have had all the varied experiences of the soldier in the field since leaving Yorktown, marching through rain and shine, mud and dust, wading through creeks and drawing artillery and baggage wagons out of the sloughs. We make slow but sure progress.
The country is as beautiful a section as I ever saw. Lovely scenery, glorious landscapes, everything is beautiful and “only man is vile.” Great clover fields in full bloom spreading away over gentle swells of ground and broad fields of wheat all headed out abound. We stopped three days at the “White House” on the Custis estate. This is a large plantation, seven thousand acres of very productive land on the Pamunkey river, late the property of the rebel General Lee. It is the old homestead of the Custis family and occupied by them in the days of Washington. Here Washington first met Martha Custis, and here, on the very spot where Lee’s White House now stands, they were married. There are several hundreds of slaves on the estate and we had the opportunities we wanted to talk with them. Oh, they were a happy set of darkies when they learned that they were free. They were most of them born on the place. I saw one old Uncle Tom, over sixty years old, who had never been five miles from the place in all his life. He had worn his life away on these fields. Contrabands are pouring in on us every day. Almost every officer has one or two along now. They hardly know what to do with themselves on learning that they will never be returned to their masters.
The white inhabitants of the country are a miserable set. Every house exhibits the white flag as our troops pass. They are mean enough to take advantage of such protection and refuse a drink of water to our troops almost suffocated with heat. We have had some days when we could scarcely march half a mile without resting. Some of the boys went to fill their canteens at a well near the road. The woman of the house came out and stood by the well and told them they might go to the river to drink. She wasn’t going to have the d—d Yankees drink out of her well. It was well for her she was a woman. Our boys would have knocked a man endways who would insult them in that way and perhaps put a bayonet through him. The men are just as mean as the women, but a little more discreet. I went to one of the white flag houses and said to the man who stood in the yard, “Where do you get water?” “No water here, sir, I have to tote all I use right smart o’ two miles.” “I couldn’t see” any such yarn as that, so I made a reconnoissance and found a splendid spring not a dozen rods behind the house. I filled my canteen, and. when I went up showed it to him, with, “What do you call that but water?” “Oh,” says he, “we don’t never use that.” Says I, “What kind of a flag do you call that?” “Flag— flag—Oh, that’s a white flag.” “What is that a sign of?” “It’s a sign of truth.” “Don’t you think it would look better for a little more coloring?” “Well, I don’t know but it would, but I hadn’t anything handy to color it with.” “Well, I think you better get it down as soon as possible and fix it over as near like that one as you can” ( pointing to our regimental colors). “Well, I guess I will if I can find anything about the house to color it with.” (Mem. I guess he won’t.) I bought a secesh bill of him, and, thinking possibly you haven’t seen any, I’ll send it to you. It is a specimen of Confederate States art, beautiful to see but “not worth a red” to spend. Save it as a memento of the war.
“Spaulding,” May 23.
Deab A.,—Your welcome letter came yesterday. It is great happiness to know that you enter into the thing so heartily. You are right; it is worth five years of other life, setting aside the satisfaction of doing something directly for the cause. We are still on board this ship, comparatively idle. Yesterday sixty men were sent down from the front; but the surgeon of the Shore hospital refused £o take them, alleging that he had no room. A tremendous thunder-storm came up, in the midst of which we ran up to the landing-place in our little tug, the “Wissahickon,” and found the men, who were lying on the ground by the side of the railway. We gave them brandy and water, tea and bread, washed them a little, brought off a dozen of the worst cases, and left the others comfortable for the night, with blankets and quilts, in two covered freight-cars. This morning we went up with their breakfast, and had the satisfaction of seeing them off in ambulances for the Shore hospital, owing to Mr. Olmsted’s strong remonstrances.
This vessel, the “Spaulding,” is filling today, and sails for New York on Sunday. We shall then go on board the “Elm City,” and the hospital company of that boat, including two ladies, Miss Whetten and Mrs. Strong, will take charge of this one. Mr. Olmsted has the greatest difficulty in preventing the authorities from forcing on our pity by their neglect the sick men who are now here and coming down daily. These men ought to be taken care of in tents ashore. If forced upon us and a battle occurs, our boats will be off with men who ought not to go, and we shall have no accommodation for the wounded. Yesterday and today we have heard cannonading at the bridge over the Chickahominy; and these slight skirmishes send us down a dozen or two of wounded daily, who are placed at once on board the “Elm City.”
General Van Vliet, Quartermaster-General of the Army of the Potomac, came to see us today, accompanied by Captain Sawtelle, Assistant-Quartermaster. The General was full of kindness and gallantry, — quite bubbled over with it; and offered us a railway-car to take us into Richmond as soon as it is occupied! We heard last night that McDowell’s pickets had met ours: God grant it may be true! There is little doubt that McDowell’s not being allowed to co-operate at Gloucester prevented the overthrow of the Rebellion at Yorktown; and yet this McClellan keeps on with a sunny heart, and, as General Franklin said, “does his best alone!”
On Wednesday we were invited on board the “Sebago,” Captain Murray. A gun-boat is very interesting. She carries two large guns and a few howitzers. The large guns (Parrotts, these were) stand in the middle of the deck, one aft, and the other forward, and turn on pivots in every direction. The bulwarks can be turned down, to allow the guns free range; they are turned up for a sea-voyage: but even then these boats ship a great deal of water. It was delightful to be on a trig man-of-war. The officers seemed so clean and fresh, after the dusty, thread-worn look of the army-officers. It is easy to keep neat on board ship, but very hard to do it on the march, especially through the red clay soil of Virginia. The “Sebago” was the gun-boat which, accompanied by a tiny propeller with one hundred and fifty infantry on board, ran a few miles farther up the Pamunky the other day, — at sight of which the enemy burned two steamers and twenty schooners.
Not much has happened to interest us out of our own world. To us the arrival of our various steamers, and the consequent visits, inquiries, and thefts, are matters of great importance. We go on board some newly arrived ship, and find up the parties in charge of the invoice: “Sixteen pails! we’ll take eight” “Essence of beef! we want all that;” “What! fifty cans?” “Fifty! we must have a hundred,” — and so on through sugar, arrowroot, farina, spices, lemons, whiskey, brandy, etc.; while the doctors make a raid of the same kind on the dispensary. Kleptomania is the prevailing disease among us. We think nothing of watching the proprietor of some nicety out of the way, and then pocketing the article. After such a visit, Georgy’s unfathomable pocket is a mine of wealth as to nutmeg-graters, corkscrews, forks and spoons, and such articles. I, being less nimble at pilfering, content myself by carrying off tin pails with an abstracted air. Perhaps our visits do not give the keen satisfaction to others that they do to us. But they are going back where they can get more; while to us who remain here, such articles are as precious as if they were made of gold.
I am perfectly well. To please others, I “prophylac” with the rest. I drink coffee in excess, and whiskey (with quinine) occasionally, and eat alarming dinners. We shall be thankful to get off this ship, where we have green velvet chairs to sit upon, and are unable to get proper cooking arrangements for the sick. “We regret our dear “Wilson Small,” where we lived on a permanent picnic, which was in keeping with our business and our spirit.
To-day Mr. Olmsted invited Mrs. Griffin and me to row with him along the shore. You know I dread little boats; but it was a prospect of enjoyment, and I could not forego it. The start was lovely. Mr. Olmsted rowed us close in shore, where the knotted roots of the outermost trees made a network, or paling, behind which drooped or glowed in their spring beauty the lovely trees of this region, among them the magnolia, the flowering catalpa, and the beautiful white fringe-tree. Presently some quartermaster hailed us, and we turned back to the “Spaulding,” which had swung to her anchor in the mean time, making the business of getting on board again so dreadful to me (Mrs. Griffin did not seem to mind it) that that moment is laid aside to come into play some day when I have brain-fever; and then I shall see the huge, black, bulging sides of the great ship hanging over me as I pop up and down in a paper boat.
Mrs. Griffin looked to-day so like a mediaeval Madonna, with her heavenly complexion, her golden hair, and the extremely angular appearance which we persist in keeping up without our hoops, that I was forced to suggest the idea to Mr. Olmsted, who entered thoroughly into it.
May 23rd. At seven o’clock I rode out and withdrew the picket line under Jones, and when the brigade came along, we fell in to form the advance. It is by all odds the best position in a large army; one has first chance at everything, and there is a great fascination in leading an advancing army through an unknown, hostile country, especially when the armies are close together; although so near to Richmond at the start, we managed to make a long and tiresome march, roads dusty, and the day hot; about noon filed off the road into a field to the left, and went into bivouac. The pioneers put my office tent up and I went to work making out sundry reports. We are close to the Chickahominy now, and the rebels are within four miles of us, entrenched on the other side. On the 20th, Casey’s division, of the fourth army corps, crossed the river at Bottom bridge, and to-day the remainder of the corps is crossing. Franklin’s corps is on our right, with Porter’s in reserve; our second corps has the centre, and Keys the left; Stoneman and the cavalry are on the extreme right, about New Bridge; all facing the left bank of the river. We commenced bridging the river as soon as we got our tents up, and I suppose as soon as it is done, we shall cross over and attack. In the afternoon I packed up a large box of records, regimental books, and also the two silk guidons, and turned it over to the quartermaster to send to Washington for safe keeping; this diary goes with it, for no man can guess what the next few days may bring forth. Other preparations all indicate the near approach of the deadly struggle for supremacy. Three days’ rations are ordered to be prepared, and constantly maintained; sixty rounds of ammunition were served to each man at parade to-night, and all unnecessary camp equipage turned in to be sent away. One can easily see that something of great importance is near at hand by the quiet demeanor of the troops; they are evidently doing a good deal of thinking.
Abby Howland Woolsey to her sister, Eliza Howland.
Dear E. : The returning Spaulding takes to you 12 Boston rockers, 6 boxes of brandy (if it gets there), 1 package of mosquito bar (getting very scarce), a bundle and a basket, and chewing tobacco, for Charley to distribute ! . . . Tell him the 22d marched in splendid order; their own uniforms and long yellow leather leggings. The cheers and fireworks and interest all along the line were as great as the 7th ever elicited. Carry and Charles Johnson sat on a stoop on Broadway, till ten o’clock night before last, to see them pass. We hear that they are ordered to Harpers Ferry.
May 23.—Have had two very nice men here, wounded—a doctor and a captain. They are friends of Mrs. G. Dr. Smith sent them to Rienzi, where the Mobile ladies are. Mrs. G. visited them, and came back perfectly delighted with the hospital arrangements there. She says that Mrs. Ogden is an excellent manager. I am glad of this, as she has had a great deal of opposition from surgeons, as all of the ladies have who have desired to go into hospitals. I can not see what else we can do, as the war is certainly ours as well as that of the men. We can not fight, so must take care of those who do.
I think as soon as surgeons discover that ladies are really of service, that prejudice will cease to exist. The patients are delighted to have us, and say that we can cause them to think of the dearest of places to them now—home.
Miss Marks is a little better, and has been sent to Okolona. The other two ladies who were sick have returned to Mobile.
Every corner of the hospital is clean, and ready for patients. The last of my patients died this morning. He was a German, named Ernest; was wounded at Shiloh. He wandered a good deal in his mind; but just before he died he sent for Dr. Smith, and requested him to write to his wife, and send her all the money he had. She lived on Magazine Street, New Orleans.
One of the saddest sights witnessed are two Federals, who have been here since the battle of Shiloh. One has had his arm, the other his leg amputated. They are seventeen and eighteen years of age, respectively. They look very pitiful, dying among strangers, far away from their homes and relatives. They have been cared for the same as our own; but that is not all that is wanted. They need sympathy, and of that character which it is impossible for us to extend to them, as they came here with the full intention of taking all that is dear to us. They may have been conscientious, and thought that they were doing their duty, but we are of a different opinion, and it will be some time before we change. They will soon die; both are religious. I never look at them without thinking of the thousands of our poor men who are in the same condition in the North. I do sincerely trust that they are as well treated as these poor fellows have been.
Dr. Nott, with several other surgeons, has examined the hospital. He looked well. He has lost a son in the war.
Abby Howland Woolsey to her sisters Georgeanna Woolsey and Eliza Howland.
My Dear Children : . . . Doesn’t Charley want something? Mother is racking her brain to think what it can be, as he no doubt does want something, going off in the hurry he did. She is afraid, too, that he is exposed to illness— running risks from the climate, from contact with soldiers’ clothing, from the atmosphere of the hospital ship, etc., etc.
Yesterday, Jane, Carry, Mrs. Buck, and Col. Bliss and a few others, started from Park Barracks for Bedloe’s Island on a committee of investigation. They chartered a little steam tug at ten dollars an hour, and went from the Battery, not staying very long, and quite enjoying the trip. They found the hospitals extremely comfortable. Some sick in the brick barracks, and some in three large hospital tents— close on the shore, with the sea breeze driving through them, and the waves rippling up close by. The men they saw were as pleased with their accommodations as could be, and everything looked ten times better ventilated and more hopeful than at the City Hospital, for instance. They have about a hundred men on Bedloe’s Island— mostly from the Ocean Queen— and not many now are alarmingly ill. The ladies took down four large baskets of oranges, jelly, towels, etc. —some of the abundant supplies that have been pouring in at the Park Barracks— and we are to get together next week some books for a library. Jane says she has seen what does her heart good at the City Hospital— some tidy, sensible, once-upon-a-time-fashionable ladies, nursing men every day in the fever wards — Mrs. Charles Strong, Miss Irving, and four or five others ; they went down and offered their services, which were accepted — such was the great number of sick, and the necessity of an immediate increase of nurses ; and they go down every morning at seven and go away at seven, taking their meals down there. Hired nurses, men, watch at night. Here was an excellent chance to put some of the port wine uncle E. sent us, into use. Jane came right up for a jug and put it in Mrs. Strong’s charge, and it has been of inestimable use already to some of the patients. These ladies must have served a week or ten days now, and will continue daily. They do everything for the men, under the direction of the doctors, administering food and medicine. It is really most praiseworthy and delightful, and, as in the case of your young doctors whom you like so much, gives you a better idea of human nature — their human nature, at all events. I cannot say so much for the young doctors of the New York Hospital as you do for yours. They made a strike the other day for increase of salary, writing the Trustees quite an impudent letter, reminding them what advantages the State now offered to volunteer surgeons at Yorktown, etc., and requesting an immediate answer. They did have a very immediate one. The gentlemen assembled next morning and sent the young doctors word that they could have just so many hours to pack up and quit,— an answer that astonished and mortified them. You see it was very mean, for it was just when the largest number of sick that the house could contain were being brought in. The Trustees intended to increase the corps of surgeons, but that these residents would not listen to, “they were fully competent to do all.” Jane went down this morning with Mrs. Professor Hitchcock, Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Buck, to take their turn at 194, but found that the last week’s committee and their friends to the number of twenty, were so firmly established still, that they refused all hints about “relinquishing the keys,” being “tired of the service,” etc., etc. ; “Oh, no ; we are as fresh and interested as possible:” and indeed they were, though they were at the rooms until one last night, when Colonel Howe chartered an omnibus and sent them home. They had received all those who came yesterday afternoon by cars from Baltimore, and had worked faithfully, and hated to give up to the new set.
Civil War envelope showing bust of Columbia encircled with laurel branches bearing message “Dedicated to the gallant defenders of our National Union”
Addressed to Mr. Emil Fourgerel, No. 16 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio; postmarked Newport, R.I., May 23; bears 3 cent stamp.
Collection: Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress)
This envelope and additional information may be found here at the Library of Congress
May 23.—Colonel Kenly’s command of infantry and cavalry, in General Banks’s department, was driven from Front Royal, with considerable loss, by a large body of rebels.—(Doc. 43.)
—Captain Tilford, stationed with forty men on the east side of the Rio Grande, seven miles below Fort Craig, N. M., received a summons to surrender from a band of two hundred Texans. He refused; but after fighting for three hours, was obliged to retreat to Fort Craig with the loss of three wounded.—Denver Herald.
—Portions of the army of the Potomac crossed the Chickahominy River in two places, at the Railroad Bridge and at Bottom’s Bridge.
—The battle of Lewisburgh, Va., was fought this day. The rebel Colonel Heath attacked Col. Crook with three thousand infantry and cavalry, and six cannon. After a spirited fight of an hour, the rebels were put to flight in utter confusion, and their flight soon became a rout. Col Crook captured four rifled cannon — one so near his position that it was loaded with canister—and caissons, and eight rounds of ammunition.
The rebels, in the early part of the fight, carried off their killed and wounded, but left on the field thirty-eight dead, including several officers, and sixty-six wounded. A hundred prisoners were captured, among them Lieutenant-Colonel Finney, Major Edgar, and others. Three hundred stand of arms were taken. In the evening, to secure their retreat, they burned Greenbrier bridge, beyond which they could not be pursued. Crook’s victory was won only by hard fighting against greatly superior forces. The Nationals lost fourteen killed, sixty wounded, and five pickets captured. Some of the wounded were shot in the streets of Lewisburgh, as they were returning to the hospital, by the citizens of the town.—(Doc. 44.)
—The town of Grand Gulf, Miss., was shelled by the Union gunboats Richmond and Hartford. Considerable damage was done to the town, but no person was injured.
The reason assigned for the shelling was, that two United States transports loaded with soldiers were fired into by a masked battery of four guns in the vicinity of the town.—Jackson Mississippian, June 4.
Camp Flat Top Mountain, May 22, 1862.
Dearest : — I have written you one or two letters which I suspect fell into the hands of the enemy, but ere this, I do not doubt, you have received dispatches and word by Thomas which relieves you of all trouble on my account.
We have had a good deal of war this month. More than half the time during two weeks we were in the presence of the enemy. Most of the time they [we] were either pursuing them or they were crowding us. The number killed and wounded, considering the amount of firing, was not large. I suppose the total loss of this army would not exceed two hundred. Our force is not strong enough to do the work before us. We have so many points to garrison and so long a line of communications to protect, that it leaves a very small force to push on with. . . .
Before this reaches you, the great battles of the war will probably be fought. If successful, we shall not meet with much determined opposition hereafter. I was sent to meet a flag of truce sent by General Williams and Humphrey Marshall this morning. The officers talk in a high tone still, but the privates are discouraged, and would be gladly at home on any terms.
Camp Flat Top, May 22, 1862. Thursday. — Today Colonel Scammon with a small escort went over to Packs Ferry to look after affairs with Major Comly and his boat-builders. A Captain Jenkins, of Kentucky, came from General Williams to negotiate as to exchange of prisoners. General Cox detailed Lieutenant-Colonel Hines and myself to meet him. After some reflection, I suggested that it was honoring Captain Jenkins too much to send two lieutenant-colonels, and the programme was changed.
I have caught a bad cold, the worst I have had since I came into the army, caused chiefly by changing underclothes and stockings from thick to thin.
Called on Colonel Moor of the Twenty-eighth. The German officers are neater and more soldierly in dress and accoutrements than ours. The Twenty-eighth has a fine band, twenty or twenty-four musicians. Wrote to Lucy a short letter — no flow in it; but how I love my wife and boys! All the more tenderly for these separations.
May 22 — We left camp at noon to-day and crossed the Massanutten Mountain, and are camped this evening at Luray, fourteen miles east of New Market. Jackson’s forces went down the Luray Valley, and this is the first time that we marched in the rear of an advancing army.
Thursday, 22d—Things were a little more quiet this forenoon, but there was some very heavy cannonading off on the left flank this afternoon. Skirmishing is still going on between the pickets. There are not many men being killed on either side, since they are well protected by their respective fortifications; it is when they have to advance on skirmish in the open that they suffer losses.