Diary of Luther M. Fairbank — Part 2, Jan. — June 1863

(Thanks to Stan Prager, John Hartwell, and Larry Lowenthal for transcription of this diary.)

Jany. 1863

Thurs. 1   Went to drill this a.m. but the confounded Q.M. sent for me to go to work making boxes.

Fri. 2   Jim Tupper made a visit, being detailed in the Q.M. Department at N.O. Part of the 42nd Mass. including Co. K, passed on their way to Galveston, Tex.

Saty 3   One of the contrabands died last night, and we made his coffin this a.m. Worked on Co. boxes in p.m.

Sun. 4   No Inspection for me, — one advantage of being detailed, — but a poor one.

Mon. 5  Oh! What a stink when we went to bed — John smashed a bird that Brose put in our bed for deviltry. How mad he was!

Tues. 6  Put in a partition in the Gd House so that the Officers w’d not be obliged to mingle with the Privates. What a pitty! [sic] I suppose we are not good enough for retired lawyers, shoemakers and teamsters.

Wed. 7  Once more we had a look at the Ark in which this Reg’ment had so much trouble and hard work while crossing the briny ocean. It was the Steamship Mississippi — May I never have as much trouble on her again!

Thurs. 8  The plaguey niggers must break the draw bridge last night so as to give us carpenters hard work. John Parker died today. He was not excused from duty until unable to stand —

Fri. 9  We conveyed the remains of our lost comrade to their last resting place at 10 a.m. A volley was fired, — prayer offered, — and all was over.

10  Gen. Auger was here and inspected the Fort.

Sun. 11  On Gd today, — being returned to the Co. yesterday, which was just what I wanted. A Major jumped overboard from a steamship — being frightened by a solid shot fired across her bow to bring her to — a brave Major!

Mon. 12  Tired and lazy, both together, make a man feel bad enough, — and I was both today, — but there is no rest for the weary in the army; therefore I must drill all day —

Tues. 13  Again detailed as Carpenter — Confound the luck! It is to work at the Water Batty.

Wed. 14  The first wench I ever saw hugged by a white man was today after coming from work, and oh! She was as black as coal, — lips like a horse, and feet that cover a square foot each. It was Butcher — Ha, ha, ha!

Thurs. 15  Oh what a cold rainy day! I did no work.

Fri. 16  We went to work but it was so cold we blt a fire in one of the magazines. Of course there was no powder. We stayed there until the engineer came and drove us out to work in the p.m., telling us to wait until Sunday to tell our stories.

Sat. 17  Worked pulling timber out of the moat, — or I did my part, — I held up the end of the rope. No danger of my hurting myself at work.

Sun. 18  I should think he was calculating to let us tell our stories today, — at least it looks like it, to Keep us at work all day Sunday.

Mon. 19  Sick today. —  John and I had a fall out. It is bad, I think.

Tues. 20  Feeling better. I went to work helping  on the casemates.

Wed. 21  John accused me of stealing stockings, as I just clipped him under the left ear and he packed up for Warburton’s old bunk —

Thurs. 22  Went to work, but about 9 a.m. looked toward the Fort, it looked dark, — the parapet was black. — The cause of all this was some negro troops that suddenly appeared to relieve us — So we went and packed our things and at 10 a.m. we left the wharf on the Steamer Laurel Hill.

Fri. 23  We kept on our course until the fog was so thick we had to tie up to the shore. Started again this a.m. and arrived at N.O. about 12 M. Received a mail bringing letters of Jany, 7.

Saty. 24  Loaded on some new tents and started at 11½ a.m. Arrived at Carrollton at 1 p.m. We had hard travelling before we found a camp, which was about at dark — then pitched tents. I was tired enough to go to bed but that privilege was denied me, — for I was detailed  for guard round camp.

Sun. 25  Most of day used arranging camp — Some of the 42nd boys made us a visit, — Being camped near here. Cos. K & H joined us.

Mon. 26  We worked all day cleaning up our things, which looked hard after being thrown about so much for the last few days. Recd letter of Jany 16.

Tues. 27  Rainy and cold all day —  We wanted boards to Keep us out of the mud, so we made a rush for the garden fences, and, to hear the women yell! But they might as well talk to wind as to soldiers — Sent my diary of /62 home today —

Wed. 28  Talk of the Sunny South! I think it is a warm climate, — I most froze last night — In the p.m. we laid floors in the tents.

Thurs. 29  Had Brigade Review — Our Brig. is the 3rd of the 3rd Div., and consists of the 31st & 38th Mass. and 116th & 156th N.Y.

Fri. 30  Had to drill all a.m. and in p.m. I was on G’d — We have a new order of things now.  Instead of G’d M’tg in a.m. and Dress Parade in p.m. as formerly, we have D.P. in a.m. and G.M. in p.m. At retreat the Gen. Officer of the Day, Col. Bryan of 175th N.Y. gave us fits because the G’ds were absent and we had 29 prisoners in the G’d House —

Saty. 31  About 10, Serg. Canterbury sent Snow to relieve me, and I went to work building a Cook House


Sun. Feby 1  Had Regimental Inspection in a.m., and, strange to say, had the rest of the day to ourselves —

Mon. 2  We must put on our pretties today, and, after forming Brigade Line we marched nearly up to Camp Parapet and had Div[isio]n Drill, arrived back at Camp at 3 p.m. Gen. Emory drilled us. He com’ds the 3rd Divn — Gen. Banks rode on to the ground while we were there. —

Tues. 3  We did nothing but lie still till G’d M’t’g, when I went on g’d at the forage barn.

Wed. 4  This a.m. Holcher and I left Parmenter on g’d at the barn, and went about a mile to a saloon and had some beer and got back just as the relief came, which was about 4 p.m.

Thurs. 5  There was a thunder shower in the night, and it is awful cold and muddy this a.m. The latter Kept us from drilling — The mud helps a soldier when in camp, and gives him rest.

Fri. 6  Serg. Canterbury said if I would put up a tent he would excuse me from drill, and I jumped at the chance, for I put up the tent in ½ hour, and had the rest of the day to myself. I went out and had my picture taken —

Saty. 7  Battn drill in a.m.  I was g’d in the p.m. Lt. Bond was Offr of G’d & wanted me for Orderly at H. Qrs., but I couldn’t see it —  that don’t suit me.

Sun. 8  Came off G’d at 4 & then had to drill at skirmish drill — Sent my picture to Mother.

Mon. 9  Had drill before coffee and immediately after slush we must trudge up to Camp Parapet to Divn. Drill. It was a hot day and the roads dusty. We were pretty lookg. birds when we arrived back at Camp. Received letters of Jany. 26.

Tues. 10  Co. Drill in a.m. and then up to Division Drill again — All we learn you can put in your eye & then see clear.

Wed. 11  This a.m. orders came to be ready to march at a moment’s notice. After waiting all day with things packed we finally unrolled  our blankets & went to sleep.

Thurs. 12  This a.m. went on b’d Steamer Kepper. The crew refused to go for fear we were going into danger. They were put under g’d and sent to N.O. After some delay a new crew was procured & we started up stream on one of the slowest old coaches on the river.

Fri. 13  Two men were drowned last night. One was a member of Co. A, — the other of Co. K — The A man was drunk and walked off — the other was Knocked overboard by a rope, & having everything on was unable to save himself. We passed the Convent and College Point at 9 a.m.  About dark there was a heavy thunder storm, and being so dark the boat got aground.

Saty. 14  This a.m. we had to get help from the Steamer Iberville, which had the 50th Mass. aboard. It came up along side with a bunt, Knockd the stern of the boat in, and very nearly tipped our boilers over. Our salt horse and part of our Camp Kettles was lost. We we were soon afloat when the Str Morning Light came near bunting us. We reached Plaquemine at last without any further trouble, where the troops are to concentrate. — We had Regimental Inspection in p.m. & I was detailed for G’d.

Sun. 15  Was reliev’d from G’d at 4. The Regt. had Drill. The Gunboat 291 and Steamer Time and Tide came up at night. It rained and we were obliged to sleep on the muddy decks.

Mon. 16   The 291 and a launch went down the Bayou today — The water runs so swift that they had to back water so as not to go so fast — We went ashore to drill, but the rain last night made it so muddy that it was useless to try to drill.

Tues. 17  This a.m. Cos. D & E were ordered to proceed down the Bayou by land. We left our knapsacks on the Steamer Bee and marched 9 miles in the rain and mud Knee deep, to a place called Indian Village, and took up quarters in a sugar mill — This mill & 3 houses constitute Indian Village. We built a fire to dry our clothes, and the Bee came down with our knapsacks. The boys had dancing in the evening —

Wed. 18  Geo. Marsh & I got a permit of the Capt. to buy provisions of the Commissary of Col. Paine’s Brig., which we found encamped here. We bought 3 lbs of Beef Steak, & 2 loaves soft bread for dinner, which went good on an empty stomach — then we lay still till night.

Thurs. 19  We went aboard the Bee and started back to Plaquemine — The boat came near tipping over once or twice, and when ab’t 2 miles from P. we got out and went afoot to town, where we went aboard again for Carrollton, which place we arrived at at[sic] 9 p.m.  We ran by the Kepper, but had to hold down the safety valve to do it. —  We went into Co. K’s old tents, having lost the right by Capt. Hopkins being promoted to L’t. Col. Capt. Allen was transferred to our Co.

Fri. 20  Arranged Camp. Co. A has the right. A mail rec’d —

Saty. 21  We had to perform the sad ceremony of conveying another of our number to his last resting place. It was S. Haven, who died last night. Regimental Drill today — Then cleaned up for Inspection.

Sun. 22  After Reg, Inspection I lay down & slept till G’d M’t’g — Then went on G’d.

Mon. 23  Came off G’d at 4, with a headache.

Tues. 24  Had drill both a.m. & p.m. Rec’d letter of Feb. 11.

Wed. 25  Drill.

Thurs. 26  Drill same as usual. No other way for A soldier — Austin Tolman of the 16th N.H. visited us — He is from Nelson, N.H.

Fri. 27  Hurrah! A rainy day! No drill!

Saty. 28  Still rainy — Bully for that!


Sun. Mch 1  Reg. Inspection in a.m.

Mon. 2  I tried to get a pass to N.O., but as we are expectg. marching orders, no one is allowed to leave Camp. So I had to drill, and in the p.m. go on G’d

Wed. Tues. 3  I have felt sick and lazy all day, for I did n’t [sic] sleep a wink all night —  I came off G’d at 4 —  Rec’d letter of Feb. 15.

Thurs.Wed. 4  The Regt. had target practice —  It is a good deal better than drilling, and we need it more, so as to get used to our muskets —  The cook has orders to cook 3 days rations —

Thurs. 5  Target practice in a.m., when orders came to march, — so we struck tents and about 7 o’cl’k fell into line, having large fires all around the Camp, — and after standing, (as is generally the case), with knapsacks on, until we were tired, we went to the wharf, and on board the Algerine.

Saty. Fri, 6  This a.m. some of the boys waked up finding the [blank] from the horses running onto their blankets, — for we had 4 horses for bedfellows — It has rained pretty much all day.

Saty. 7  This a.m. the sun broke forth bright and clear, and now we have a chance to see how we are situated — Officers and niggers occupy the cabin, — horses the next best place, — and the non-coms and privates fill up the intervening space amongst the luggage — Some of the boys have the cheek to quarrel with the horses for their bed — One fellow lies with a broom in his hand, to hit a horse if he gets too close — Our coach goes at the rate of 2 miles per hour.

Sun. 8  Today is Sunday. We landed at Baton Rouge at 10 a.m., and marched about 1½ mile, and pitched our tents in a beautiful Magnolia grove. Recd letters of Feb. 4 & 6.  It takes some time sometimes for a letter to come — These have been over  month on the way, but even these are better than none at all.

Mon. 9  We expect to leave here in a short time and be off to Port Hudson — No chance to write home as no mail leaves —  We got all ready for Dress Parade, but Col. Hopkins countermanded the order —  20 of D Co. were detailed for Picket —  I was one.  Ordered to cook 7 days rat’ns.

Tues. 10  At 12 midnight a relief came, and we went up to a sugar mill and slept till morning.  Then we went back to camp and had Inspection.  We took everything out of our knapsacks but 1 pair draws, socks, and shirt, ready to march —  We had 3 days rations  of hard tack and salt horse dealt out, and drew shelter tents. Rumored that Gen. Foster had arrived in the river with 30,000 men.

Wed. 11  Cold as Greenland this a.m. Reported recapture of the Indianola & Queen of the West.  The fleet is passing up today —  Something is to be done, I hope — I run guard with Lashna and went down to the 15th N.H. to see Austin Tolman.

Thurs. 12  Struck tent before bkfst. All ready to move, but instead of marching against the rebs there was a review of the troops by Gen. Banks. Coming back my knapsack broke and I fell out to mend it. When we reached Camp we pitched our shelter tents. Rec’d letter of Feby 15 & 20.

Fri. 13  It was nice and warm this a.m. I went over to see the 53rd Mass. have Dress Parade. We lay about all day, and at night orders came to move. We marchd 12 4 miles and camped in a large corn field for the night. I threw away my overcoat, draws & socks.

Saty. 14  At 3 a.m. we were aroused from our slumbers, and at 6 we started. Marched about 8 miles and stopped in a large wood for dinner. Geo. Demond and Corp. Spooner fell out. We stopped for the night about 6 p.m. Beef, pigs & poultry were plenty, so we soon had a fine supper and went to bed with full stomachs.

Sun. 15  We went to get stuff for b’kfst. Lashua and I got a 3 gal. demijohn, full of Molasses. About 11 o’clock orders came to move on. We marchd 2½ miles and camped. I was on Picket, there was a regular thunderstorm abt 7 p.m. We got wet then. I laid down on a log with my rubber blanket over me, and slept soundly until 3 a.m., when I got up and went on G’d.

Mon. 16  Came off G’d at 10, and lay down for a snooze. For dinner I had turkey’s liver, hearts and gizzards. After dinner some of the boys went out foraging. They had been gone but a short time when the Regiment started, but they soon overtook us. We went thru’ a piece of woods and it was so dark that we couldn’t see. First one would go into the water and then another. We brought up at the corn field where we stopped the first night.

Tues. 17  Were called up at 3 a.m. but didn’t move till 8, where we marched to where we started from last night. And camped for the night. This seems like queer work to me.

Wed. 18  Again we started and brought up at the same old corn field of our yesterday visit, where we pitched our shelter tents, — but had hardly got seated when we were ordered to pack again, and moved about 1 mile further on, where we again pitched our tents. Most of the troops have gone back to Baton Rouge. The Gen. has confiscated an abundance of cotton, horses &c.

Thurs. 19  We are still in camp and got rested. Most of the boys are afraid Baton Rouge is our destination next. There was a ration of Whiskey dealt out. It revived the boys up; some of them rather too much.

An order was read giving the 1st Brigade, and especially the 4th Mass. fits for disgraceful conduct.

Fri. 20  We had molasses instead of Whiskey today, the officers thinking we might want sweetening for the whiskey, but there was no danger of its being kept overnight. At 12 o’cl’k orders came to move. We took an easy gait and reached our old camp at Magnolia Grove; being gone just one week.
Here we shall rest until Gen. Banks wants another grand move on Port Hudson.

Saty. 21  I dreamed of snakes, blood and thunder all night, and in the a.m. was detailed to work on intrenchments. We marched up to the City and waited by a Grave Yard, till night, when Capt. Lee, saying what we came for was accomplished and we would now retreat, we went back to camp.

The graveyard shows signs of war. The tombs are knocked to pieces, and some of the skeletons are in sight.

Sun. 22 The Sabbath has arrived, a day of rest. I rec’d a letter of Feb. 1. It had been to the 30th Regiment and been opened by L. W. Fairbank.

Had Co. Inspection in a.m.. Some men minus knapsacks, blankets, &c. It rained at dusk and drowned us out.

Mon. 23  A cold, rainy day, making things disagreeable. We had to cut some wood to keep us out of the mud. At night I was on Picket at Reserve and in good quarters, in the sugar mill, out of the rain.

Tues. 24  I was sick all day. I was on post one hour over the guns. The Picket took 3 men that were trying to run the lines. At 4 o’cl’k the relief came and I went to Camp and did not get up to roll call.

Wed. 25  I could not sleep last night, but got up feeling as bad as when I laid down. I was detailed to go and help clear up a new camp ground back of the Asylum. We worked all day cutting and burning brush, and pitched our large tents, — and in the p.m. the Regiment came up.

Thurs. 26  I feel better this a.m., but I begin to think there is no rest for the weary, for I was again put at the to work. I think it a good thing for the secesh to clear up their land.

Corp. Wright was here today in arms with the Col.

Fri. 27  I went out to drill, but was detailed to go bushwhacking again, and worked till 4 p.m.

Saty. 28  We went to drill but the rain stopped us. Wrote several letters, 6. Then cleaned up for Inspection.

Sun. 29  On G’d. It rained in the night and floated out some of the tents, but it cleared off cold. The weather changes so that we can hardly tell how to dress. I took off my drawers but was soon obliged to put them on again today.

Mon. 30 Came off G’d at 8 a.m. & slept till noon. Just as I woke up, Geo. Marsh was coming in with 2 letters for me, of March 5 & 10. That is bully! 2 letters to offset my 6. I signed the Pay Roll.

Tues. 31  Cold as ever. I could not sleep warm. Regimental Drill in a.m. and in p.m a Review. Capt. Allen sent me to black my shoes. We were reviewed by Col. Gooding. Orders to march tomorrow at sunrise, nobody knows where.


Wed. Apr. 1  Today is All Fools Day. The drum beat for Drill, but orders came to march. We struck tents, rec’d our 3 days rations of boiled bacon sides, then formed in line and marched to the wharf, where we loaded our baggage onto the steamer Morning Light, and, after stowing ourselves on board, we soon left Baton Rouge in the rear, bound down stream.

Thurs. 2  This a.m. found us at Algiers. We lay about the depot a while, — then went a short distance and pitched our shelter tents, — but soon moved further on, where we pitched our large tents with the whole Brigade, I was detailed for G’d, but it was not my turn, so I escaped.

Fri. 3  This a.m. I was detailed for G’d, Capt. Allen gave me thunder for having the paste board out of my cap, just as tho’ a soldier is to carry everything he may happen to want, but I am one of the lazy sort, bound to make soldiering as easy as possible. Steamship Marion reported to have arrived.

Saty. 4  Came off G’d at 8 a.m. and cleaned up for Inspection. Then lay down for a snooze. It beats all how sleepy this G’d work does make a man. I had a good dinner that Lashua (the Butcher) stole at the depot and gave me half for cooking. I was asleep at Dress Parade time and came near getting checked.

Sun. 5  Orders were to have an Inspection of Arms only, but our lord of a 1st Sergeant countermanded the Captain’s order and we had an Inspection of everything. After Inspection I wrote to mother, then went down to the wharf for water. There is no mail Steamer in.

Mon. 6  This a.m. I went to work for the Capt. a short time, when Capt. Allen, of Gen. Emory’s Staff, came and Inspected me. Ham and potatoes for dinner. Brig. Review in p.m.

The 175th N.Y. having just been paid off, were so drunk they couldn’t come out, and the 156th N.Y. was at work, — so we only had the 31st, 38th, & 53rd Mass.

Tues. 7  Orders to cook 3 days rations and pack up. I am going to leave everything bur 2 Rubber Blankets, shirt and shelter tent. The first Port Hudson march taught me to go light. There was no drill; which just suits me. A mail came, but no letter for me. I shall soon stop writing, — then see if I can get a letter — Reported loss of the Marion.
Col. Paynes Brig. has gone.

Wed. 8  This a.m. I was detailed with 13 others to go to the wharf to work. We lay around the depot all the a.m. Gen. Banks & Staff with Col. Ingraham’s Brig. started for Brashear. When we went to Camp for dinner we found all our tents down. We went back and worked as in the a.m.

Thurs. 9 The boys loading baggage all night and this a.m. we were packed in amongst the luggage, and started out for Brashear. After riding through swamps for 80 miles, (the road lines with snakes & alligators.) we arrived at Brashear and crossed the river to Berwick City. Both are large cities, about the size of Ware centre [Mass.]

Fri. 10  We have lain in our shelter tents all day. A few Rebels made their appearance in front, and fired into Gen. Weitzel’s Brig., without hurting any body. I have been sick with the chills all day. When orders came to march, I went to the Capt. to get leave to stay, but he thought I was playing off. I hope he may be sick with the chills some day and get no favors from anybody. We did not start, so I lay down again. A mail came, but no letters for me.

Saty. 11 No chance to go to the Dr. this a.m. for I was detailed for G’d at H.Qrs., but in a short time we started and marched in the heat and dust to Pattersonville, driving the rebels before us. I had another attack of the chills.

Sun. 12  I went to the Dr. for some medecine, but he told me I was as well as anybody. I stayed with the Regt. most all day, but it was nothing but misery for me, and the Capt. told me to fall out, — and when the Dr. came up he gave me a permit and told me to go back and take care of myself. Soon after our advance came up with the rebels, and firing commenced.

Mon. 13  I felt a good deal better. Some 18 or 20 of different Regts. took up quarters in a large 2 story house, and we took turns on G’d through the night, as there was quite a number of citizens prowling around. I got a lot of potatoes & ham of the Q.M. Sergt., and at 3 p.m. a fellow of Co. E and myself started to join the Regt., but after we arrived at the field of battle action we could get no trace of it, so we lay down for the night.

Tues. 14  We started early and passed over the battle field, the rebels having skedaddled in the night. Everything showed marks of the late action, and dead men and horses lay all around. It was a sickening sight for a new hand at the work, but such is War. I went on to a large camp deserted by the rebels, when I had the chills come on, and I laid down in a tent till I got over them. The Co. E fellow left me here. The baggage train came up, and Gardner gave me a ride. From him I learned that E. Southworth was wounded, and that I was ahead of the Regt. I got into Franklin some 2 hours first. When they came up I went to the Co.

Wed. 15  This a.m. there were 2 days rations of raw salt pork dealt out, –(pretty stuff to give a man,) and no time to cook it, for we started immediately and marched all day, and slept in the mud all night, with nothing to eat but a piece of the pork cooked on a stick, — and western pork that would all melt away. The lt. Col. said he would shoot the first man he saw touch a thing, and in fact did draw his revolver pistol on one man and make him throw away 3 or 4 onions.

Thurs. 16  We started early and marched until we could hardly drag, — but march we must, with few rests until we reached New Iberia. Here we got a lot of rum while we were resting in the streets. We turned into a yard and stacked arms, thinking our days march was done, — so we pitched in and got some sheep and chickens for supper. The boys that got theirs cooked first were the lucky ones, for orders came to march. I put my 2 fowls in my haversack. Snow stayed and cooked a large kettle full, and brought it on to where we stopped for the night, — about 1½ miles from the town. Our advance had a skirmish at this place.

Fri. 17  We started early and marched to St. Martinsville, where we rested a short time, and then crossed a large plain. Prisoners are being picked up all the way. We soon came to a bridge the rebels had partly burnt, and we stopped till it was fixed so as to cross. Then we marched until dark. When we stopped for the night we got 1 large hog & 3 sheep, with any number of chickens for supper.

Saty. 18  We were ordered to move and formed in line, when the order was countermanded and we pitched our tents. I had another attack of the shakes. Capt. Allen, seeing me, went to the Dr. for some Quinine. A small house was burnt beside our camp.

Sun. 19  Oh! What a rainy night, and how it did rain! When we started, which was at daybreak, one could hardly see, — but it cleared off in the forenoon. We passed Lafayette at 11 a.m. We had to stop, in the course of the day, to build 2 bridges that the rebs. Had burnt. Tonight we were obliged to sleep with wet blankets. A large mail came, but no letters for me.

Mon. 20  We started early and jogged along rather slowly, stopping quite often to rest. Arrived in Oppelousas at 5½ p.m., and marched through the town, the Band playing Yankee Doodle. This is the first place where they seemed glad to see us. Women waved their h’k’fs and were glad their friends had come at last. We camped a short distance from town.

Tues. 21  We did not march today, and we are to stay here for rest. I was on Picket as supernumerary, and as we were posted Andrew Young and myself started to get something to eat. We went to a large planter’s house about a mile from the Picket line, and got 8 chickens & 6 eggs apiece, — and then went in and got some red peppers and onions & a Kettle. It made a load for us to carry back, but we reached the post and soon had a good soup made, so we didn’t starve. We had some tobacco dealt our. Ours was sent out to us on Picket. John Lashua was detailed to butcher.

Wed. 22  We enjoyed ourselves first rate until the relief came. Then we went back to Camp, where starvation reigned, — and dreary enough it was. We went the rest of the day with nothing to eat, and went to bed at nightfall feeling as tho’ we could eat the hind q’rs of a dog. We had Dress Parade, with an Order of Gen. Banks ab’t the bravery of the troops, — but if he had sent up something to eat we would have appreciated it better.

Thurs. 23  This a.m. we commenced to eat, and stowed the provisions away all day. We had hominy, boiled and fried beef, chickens with good soup made of Irish potatoes and onions we found at a planter’s house (of course he raised them for us), pig, boiled, roasted and fried, and topped off with a cup of coffee, — and went to bed satisfied men.

Fri. 24  We had a Review by Gen. Banks. Such things help end the war, or they ought to, for the men are worn out more by this than by anything else. We had plenty to eat all day. Dress Parade at night, and an Order telling us what we had done on this trip.

Saty. 25  Long Rolls have been the order of the day, and after getting into line the roll was called to see if any of the men were missing. It was to keep the men in camp so they wouldn’t be getting chickens, &c., but they gave us a piece of poor boiled beef. Tall living, that!

Sun. 26  I felt sick this a.m. and went to sleep, and first I knew the Co. was falling in for Regl. Inspection. I had nothing clean, but Col. Hopkins skipped my gun, so I escaped. It is estimated that cotton, horses and mules enough have been confiscated to defray the expense of the expedition so far.

Mon. 27  This a.m., there being no signs of rations, the Capt. went and got permission for us to go out and kill some beef. We soon had a nice cow picked out, but must catch it with our hands. We got her cornered up, when she darted thro’, but Freeman, our cook, caught her tail, and away she went, with the nigger froze to her tail, dragging him until she got tired of going, when we caught up, and Geo. Marsh knocked her in the head with a small hatchet. We soon had her dressed and into camp, and before she was cold she was half eaten up. Tonight there is nothing left to tell there has been a cow brought in. The Capt. could find but 4 men to drill.

Tues. 28  I was detailed for Picket and had nothing but hominy to eat all day. There was nothing we could get anywhere around, and there was no other way but to eat the hominy. If the rebs have to eat such stuff, I pity them. I have had it but 2 or 3 days, and am sick of it now. Three of the 2nd (3rd?) R.I. Cavalry robbed a plantation of $13,000, and started for the rebs, but were soon overtaken and the money returned. They are to be court martialed.

Wed. 29  I woke up and made some porridge for b’k’fst, — then coffee came. We were relieved at 10 a.m. and were ordered to keep our pieces loaded. I cleaned up for Inspection and tried to wash my shirt without soap, — but seeing I got more dirt on than off I gave it up as a bad job.

Thurs. 30  Today being the last of the month, we were mustered and had Regl. Inspection. Lay still the rest of the day. What a treat I have had! A large mail came and I rec’d 4 letters of Apr. 8, 9, & 11, — also my mother’s picture. The last is the best treat I could have. A mother’s picture to look at! What pleasant thoughts it does bring to my mind of bygone days! Alas! How I miss a mother’s care! 1 year today we passed Forts Jackson & St. Philip and anchored at the Quarantine station, and then rec’d a mail with letters from home.


Fri. May 1 One year ago tonight we landed at N.O. and I was on guard at the Beauregard Exchange. We have done nothing but lie still. How different the day has seen from some of the May Days I have seen in my home in N. England, when I have strolled off to the fields to gather the first flowers of Spring and hang my basket.

Warm weather is fast approaching and we must lie and sweat. An Order was read at Dress Parade from the Governor of the Old Bay State.

Sat. 2  This a.m. I commenced to try to wash all over, but one might as well try to wash in a coal heap as in this mud hole we have for a wash basin. An Order was read today dismissing 2 Lieuts. From the service for disgraceful conduct. One was of the 41st Mass. and one of the 1st La., and anyone caught pillaging is to be shot in the presence of his Brigade.

Sun. 3  Serg. Wilder was promoted to Q.M. Serg. I attended a Prayer Meeting got up by the 2nd and 3rd Brigades. I have felt like an old man of 50 all day. What a sick, feeble thing I am!

Mon. 4  It has been a hot one today. We had nothing to do but lie and sweat. A despatch came to Gen. Banks and was read to the troops, that 900 of the 6th & 7th Ill. Cav. had arrived at Baton Rouge from Tenn., being 17 days on the route & capturing 1500 prisoners. They had a Battery of six 6 pounders. If that does not put the rebel raider Stuart in the shade, what will? I feel no better than yesterday.

Tues. 5  This a.m. we had orders to march, and passed Washington at 11½ a.m. I was so sick I could hardly march. Not feeling well when I started, the march in the sun brought on the chills. F. Simons let me take a mule to ride, which helped me along till we reached our stopping place, when I got some quinine and went to sleep.

Wed. 6  We were called up at 3 a.m. but did not start till 6. It was a hard day’s march, especially for me, as my feet were all blistered. I cut the tops off my shoes and wore them as sandals, I was not the only one. It is rough work for shoes. It was nothing but tramp, tramp, with half rations of hard bread, which is 4 hard tack. We were glad to stop for the night so we could rest.

Thurs. 7  Today our Regt. brought up the rear and took the dust of all the artillery and baggage train and everything else. It was the hardest day’s march we have had yet.
If we stopped to rest, which we seldom did, our legs were more like a couple of sticks than a travelling concern for man. We being behind, would no more come up with the column when they rested, than they would start and we would have to keep on. We passed Huntsville and Cheneyville in the course of the day, and arrived at a one horse railroad depot. I guess there was no name to the place, — I never heard any. Here we stopped for the night, and soon had a nice hog cooking for supper. But I was on Picket, so Brose brought me out some. It is a month since I wrote home, but it can’t be helped.

Fri. 8  I feel very well considering all things. This a.m. those that were on our post started so as to take it easy, and we got so far ahead that when we waited for our Brigade to come up, the Rear Guard was going to arrest us of the 1st Brig., thinking we had fallen out. We cut across the fields today, getting rid of the dust, as well as saving a number of miles. We stopped at Gov. Moore’s Plantation a short time, and reached Alexandria, on the Red River, about 4 p.m.. We found some of the gunboats lying in the stream, but the rebs had skedaddled.

Saty. 9  No marching today, but arranged camp and washed up. It seems good to get on a clean shirt and wash off some of the dirt. For all the Order of shooting for pillaging I had some chickens for dinner. We are in the best place that we have been in since we left Algiers, and I hope that we can stay here awhile, — but we expect to be ordered to Shreveport or to Texas.

Sun. 10  Today is the Sabbath, and it is pleasant sitting on the banks of the river. How I long to write home and relieve my mother of the anxiety I know she must be in for not hearing from me and having probably heard that the 31st was in the late battle, but it is impossible. We were inspected by Capt. Allen, of Gen. Emory’s Staff. I was rather sick again today.

Mon. 11  I lay still all day. It was reported that the Iron Clads [sic] had arrived in the Miss. River, but I guess it is only a camp story. Orders are to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Tues. 12  We are having a fine rest now, and I think we need it, for my feet are sore as a boil and I fear they will not get well before we move on. We are expecting a mail every day, but I do not expect one, for who would write, thinking I had given up writing. I don’t blame them if they do not.

Wed. 13  I was detailed for Picket, and it has been very cool and nice all day. The Steamer Empire Parish came up and brought the Officers letters. It is a big business, I think, to sort their mail and leave others’ behind. It is what I call mean treatment of a man that as come out here to fight! But never mind! Each dog has his day, and we shall be on a level with them some day, if we live and are spared to return home.

Thurs. 14  The relief came at 10 a.m., and after I got to camp it began to rain and set us all afloat. Some of the 53rd tents disappeared entirely, being in a hollow that the water filled up. A rainy day is a pleasant thing for a soldier.

Fri. 15  The old drum waked me up at 2 a.m., and we left Alexandria at 4 a.m., and reached the railroad depot again at dark, on the backward march. We soon had a fine hog on the fire, cooking, and after that was despatched, we went to sleep. Our men burnt the depot and what cars there were.

Saty. 16  Brought from our sleep at 3 a.m., and at 5 we started, — and what an awful hot day! We passed Cheneyville at 11½, and it seemed as tho’ we should never stop, — but we went into camp at 5 p.m., I can’t tell where, — having come 22 miles.

The boys say it is nothing but pain to follow Paine, for Gen. Paine has command of the Division now, — Gen. Emory being sick and gone to N.O. from Alexandria

Sun. 17  Today is the Sabbath, — a day of rest, –but not for us soldiers; for we spent the day in marching 20 miles, but at home it has been quiet, and people attend divine service, — but we are in the service of Uncle Sam. We stopped to rest about 2 hours at Bayou Glaise.

Mon. 18  The drum brought me from home, (or at least from pleasant dreams of home,) to the camp in the swamps of Louisiana, and we marched about 8 miles and into camp in a large field. I am on Picket, and stood in the hot sun all day. I rec’d a home letter of Apr. 24.

Tues. 19  A person might as well try to sleep in a hornet’s nest as on Picket last night. I’ll bet most of the mosquitos were as large as hornets. A little after sunrise we saw the Brigade start, and after a while we followed them. At Simsport we crossed the Atchafalaya River on the Laurel Hill, and camped at the banks. Gen. Grover’s Div. was ahead of us, and had his Provost Guards at all the houses, but we drove them off from near our camp and went to killing the pigs. Pretty soon we saw a strong force of Provost G’d coming, and how we put for a large corn field, each with a small pig under  his arm, which after being dressed, was carried into camp in a bundle of cornstalks.

Wed. 20  The term of enlistment of this Reg’t is half out today, and the boys have been playing nine months men, counting the days we have yet to serve and the number of hard breads we have yet to eat. Wrote a short letter to Mother and sent it in H. Caryl’s letter.

Thurs. 21  Orders came to move, and we marched 17 miles towards the Miss. River, and camped for the night. We left Chas. Woodward and Holcher at Simsport, sick.

Fri. 22  We started this a.m. and marched to Morganzia, on the bank of the Miss. River, and took passage by boat to Bayou Sara, (some 20 miles below,) when we landed and were to receive 2 days rations. It was drawn, but before it could be dealt out we had to start and leave the salt horse in the Street. I grabbed a piece, and carried it in my hand to a sugar mill, where we put up for the night. It rained all the way from Bayou Sara.

Saty. 23  We must travel again and took it slow and easy. On the way we met the Ill. raiders and gave them 3 cheers. We arrived in rear of Port Hudson and had Batteries stationed. I was on Picket.

Sun. 24  This a.m. the pickets were called in and started to attack, but were ordered back, and at night we started again, but were ordered back again to camp.

Mon. 25th  Today Cos. D & H with 2 pieces of the 2nd Me. Battery, and a detail of the Ill. Cavalry started on an expedition and marched 8 miles to a bayou and captured 2 steamboats, the Starlight and Red Chief, with their crews aboard. Our Co. went on the boats and guarded the crews, while they ran the boats out to an opening, about ½ mile, where the artillery could command them. Co. H stayed on shore for Picket, and we stayed on Guard on the boats. We got plenty of tobacco and whiskey, and some of the boys got leave and went out and got some sheep and baked them, and had plenty of hoe cake.

Tues. 26  News came that they had been attacking the rebs, and that our Reg’t had been in the fight and were badly cut up. Orders came to return to the Reg’t. We left the cavalry in charge of the boats and took a cross road, thereby missing an order telling us to stay. We reached the Reg’t after much tramping thro’ the woods, running over reg’ts that were laying down. Finally Ed Woods held a light to show the way to the Reg’t.

Wed. 27  Great battle going on. We were in the third line, and had hardly started when they commenced to pop corn in the front, and the more substantial shots came whizzing over our heads and plowing up the ground in our rear, we finally came to a road, when, the artillery passed by us, Lieut. Phelps riding bravely leading his Battery into position. The rebs, seeing the movement, began to pour the grape and canister where we were, but we, lying down, very few shots took effect in our Reg’t. The Battery would wheel into position and open fire on the rebs. Here Fred Corbett was wounded in the leg and went to the rear. We were soon ordered out on the right to prevent a flank movement.

I have been asleep behind this old tree where 3 or 4 of us had got until called on to go to work, as I wrote this account while I had time. D Co. is going now to relieve Co. A, who are acting as sharpshooters, and I must crawl from my hiding place and go.

Thurs. 28  There was some firing this a.m., but a flag of truce was raised to bury the dead and get off the wounded, until 7 p.m., when the ball opened again pretty spiteful.

Fri. 29  Co. C came and relieved us and we returned under the corner of a hill. There has been very little firing today.

Saty 30  Today has been occupied in getting guns into position. Occasionally a solid shot or shell would come. One came and cut a large tree down, and how one did have to run to keep out of the way of the tree. Geo. Cashell was wounded in the leg, while helping to build a masked battery.

Sun. 31  Mostly artillery fighting today, and we lay behind trees and logs to keep clear of the shot and shell.About 2 p.m. Co. D was ordered out to the right, as pickets across a small bayou. The guns of the Confeds. Are getting scarce in front, but fire from out the woods.


Mon. June 1  It is hard to tell when a general engagement will take place. There is skirmishing in front all the time. We were relieved in the a.m. and at night. Our Reg’t off to the left.

Tues. 2  Today has been very quiet. To us, being out of range, a bullet would, once in a while, come whistling past.We expect to go to the front as soon as it is dark.

Wed. 3  Last night we went up and supported a Battery, where the shells came from the Lady Davis, (rather too near for comfort,) and returned thro’ into the woods for the day.

Thurs. 4  Last night our Reg’t went and relieved the 38th Mass. in the front, and we have laid behind the logs and in ravines all day. Broze jammed his foot as we were trying to move a log. We have seen very little to fire at, and very few shots came from the Confederates. I slept most of the day. The shells would whiz over our heads, aimed at a Battery behind us.

Fri. 5  We were relieved from the rifle pits late last night, and lay down to sleep right in the range of the shells coming from the Lady Davis, — but we slept all night, and at 4 a.m. we started on a march with the 38th, 52nd, & 53rd Mass., 8th N.H., 91st N.Y. and Battery F of the 1st U.S. Artillery.

We stopped one hour at a sugar mill to rest, when we started in, but the sun was so hot that the men began to drop, down with the heat, and the Brig. Surgeon said it would not do to march any further. So we stopped in the woods until sundown. Then we halted [sic] and marched till 10 p.m.

Saty. 6  We started early and marched as long as the heat would permit, and then stopped behind beside a bayou for the day. I never saw the blackberries as thick as they are here. We had but to go a short distance and get our cap full. We ate them all day, and I cannot see as we have thinned them out any. We are to start at 12 Midnight, so we must go to bed early.

[end of first part of 1863]