Feb. 20,1862, Camp Chase, Lowell, Mass. All is confusion this morning preparing to break Camp. Farewell to a long, tedious winter of Camp life. Now for active duty. All are rejoiced in the change. Regiment formed at 8 a.m. At 9 marched from the Old Camp Grounds for the Depot where we embarked on the train for Boston. Arriving at Boston, we marched through Boston through rain and slush, and went aboard of the steamship Mississippi. All aboard, it shoved out in the stream. On this day Col. Goodwin took command of the Regiment.
Feb. 21, The ship sailed today. Destination is Ship Island. Nothing of importance transpired today. No duty only Guard and Police duty. Boys all feel good.
Feb.22, A dull dreary day. Last night there was quite a wind which made the ship rock like a cradle, and today a good many of the men are seasick, and some of them are looking at the bottom of their shoes to see if there is anything more they can throw up.
Feb. 23, A pleasant morning. The vessel rolls bad, but it is magnificent to those who have never been to sea, to look out on the beautiful expanse of water as far as the eye can see, and as there is no duty for us to do aboard but Guard duty, and that must be kept up, and keeping our quarters clean, all we have got to do is to enjoy the scenery to which our eyes are unaccustomed — and watch the porpoises as they dart and play around the ship. And as it is Sunday, our, or my, mind cannot help but revert to my home. Our Chaplain preached today; for the first time all the men, or all the Regiment was present, by order of Gen. Butler, who was also present, together with his wife and staff. No excuse for anyone. All had to be present from the Col. down to the Cook. 3 p.m. 75 miles from Fortress Monroe. Weather changed, clouding up towards evening, and the fog is so thick we can’t see two feet off. Vessel laid off all night waiting for a Pilot.
Feb.24, Still a heavy fog this morning at Reveille. 8 o’clock a.m. the fog lifted and the sun came out beautiful. 10 a.m. Sighted Fortress Monroe. 12.30 a.m. cast anchor at the Fort and the wind is blowing a perfect hurricane. 5 p.m. The storm has now abated; we were all startled and mine heart was in my throat. One vessel with its Flag at half-mast and Union down in signal of distress; another little Tug Boat driving at the mercy of the wind, as if it was without hope, but thank God it was rescued just as we supposed it was lost. General Butler went ashore today and the men had a chance (at least those that had money) to get many little extras, such as soft bread, pies, and other things, from a frigate that came out to the ship.
Feb. 25, 7 o’clock a.m. Still lying off of Fortress Monroe. The sun shines beautifully. Out there is a cold wind blowing off shore. Half past eleven a.m., Gen. Butler came aboard. It is very cold. As for me, I did not suffer at Camp Seward, Pittsfield, all winter as I have this morning. Afternoon. It is still cold, but they have been busy shipping a lot of shells and balls, and expect to sail every hour, though the wind blows off land. The sea is very rough.
Feb. 26, Left Fortress Monroe last night at half-past nine. The sun shines beautiful, and continued so until afternoon. As we neared Hatteras, it began to cloud up and now it rains and blows hard. Our Quarters were thoroughly inspected today. Off of Cape Hatteras, the wind blows a perfect hurricane and the vessel rolls bad. It is a solemn moment, for aboard the ship are over eighteen hundred souls, and only a plank between us and eternity. It is so rough it is impossible to sleep, the vessel rolls so.
Feb. 27. 12 o’clock at night. All is in a hubbub; everything is against us; the vessel heaves terribly and ships a great deal of water. At 2 o’clock a.m. Co. A was called up to clear the ship of water, which she shipped faster than we could get it out. At 3 a.m. the awful cry of man overboard is heard ringing through the ship. The ship lies on her beams end in the trough of the sea, and all hope seems to be gone. But the men keep up good courage and act well, and work with a will, but we soon righted and the noble ship answered to her helm, and she now defies the elements and makes her way to sea, or I would say, worked off land. 11 a.m. the wind moderated down, but still very rough. Men all tired out and in hopes tonight we can get some sleep.
Feb. 28, A fine clear morning, everything is now going smooth and every trace of yesterday’s trouble is past. And after a good night’s rest the men are all bright and happy. Everything goes fine until 9 a.m., when lo, we are brought to a stand. We have run aground on a reef off Cape Lookout on the North Carolina coast. We are fast, and can’t stir. Everything is being done by trying to back her off and by carrying the anchor off some distance and casting it in the sea, then using the windlass to try and drag her off, but no go — can’t stir her. At 10.30 Stars and stripes run up half-mast, Union down. Commenced throwing overboard shot and shells, boxes and barrels to lighten ship in hopes she will float. But all of no avail. Though the men, after what they have been through the day before have reason to be discouraged, yet they are not, but well they know if a wind should spring up we are in danger of breaking in two. That is, the ship is, but the sea is calm and as smooth as glass. 12 noon. Still fast. Commenced firing the Land Gun we had on our Bow. 2 p.m. We have sprung a leak, a big hole knocked in our Bow. We have sighted a steamer coming; can’t tell whether it is a Reb or one of our block-ins ships, as we have seen a number darting in and out of the inlets. It turned out to be our Gun Boat Mount Vernon. She tried to drag us off, 6 p.m. We are off. Free again and three hearty cheers went up from the Regiment.
Mar. 1, Twelve o’clock, at night and no sleep yet. We are laying at anchor. Ship leaks bad. The Gun Boat still lays alongside of us. It is reported that one of the Mates from the Gun Boat has taken command of our Ship. I hope it is so. Report amongst the men this morning is that the Captain of our boat is a Secessionist and run us aground on purpose, in broad daylight within seven miles of a Rebel Fort, but I can hardly believe that placed as he was, only one man against sixteen or seventeen hundred men on board, he would be so foolhardy, yet I can’t tell. 10 a.m. Can’t gain on the water pumping all the time. The Boys are downhearted. I have heard the sailors refuse to work the ship she is in such a condition. Sergt. Edwards of the Northampton Co. fell down the hatch; have not heard how bad he was hurt. 3 p.m. Still at anchor. Can’t clear the ship of water so they have nailed down the hatch. The Gun Boat left us this morning, but returned in the afternoon with a prize, a schooner sailing under British colors. Four p.m. Again under way.
Mar. 2, Sunday. Pleasant morning. Regular details made from the Regiment to man the pumps. Kept the ship clear of water last night. Capt. Hollister of Co. A, Officer of the Day. I am acting as his Orderly. Gen. Butler took a hand at the pumps today. One of the Privates of the Maine Regiment died last night with the Diphtheria, and as he lays on the Hurricane Deck. It seems solemn. One of the pumps gave out and we are making for shore as fast as possible. Land in sight. 10 a.m. Divine service, where prayers of thanksgiving are going up for our deliverance, by the Chaplain of the Maine Battery. Services closed by the singing of “Behold a stranger at the door” which sounded solemn on the dark blue sea. Cast anchor and landed at Port Royal at ten minutes past five o’clock this p.m., or Hilton Head, So. Carolina.
W. M. Shaftoe,
1st Sergt. A Co., 31st Mass. Vols.
Mar.3, Here seems to be a stick in my diary which I can’t account for — that is, the names of the places. March 2nd says “landed at Port Royal ten minutes past five,” that is, part of the Regiment. I know we placed boards up the side of an old barn to shelter us the first night, and my Co. and the commissioned officers laid there that night, and suffered awfully from the cold. Then the 3rd says the Regt. landed at Hilton Head, Seabrook Landing, So. Carolina. Immediately after landing, we formed Regiment Line, Stacked Arms, and Broke Ranks. The men then made a raid for the negro shanties, for hoe cakes and oysters, for there was plenty of them. Here, I got hungry and went for a cake, which with stewed oysters, went good after our long siege of sea fare. It rained hard this forenoon, in the afternoon cleared up, and we drilled by companies. We slept in old barns and sheds last night. Got up stiff with cold. Warm days and cold nights. Drilled this morning. Pleasant day. Afternoon put up a tent for the Capt., and the Sergt. Saw them plowing today to plant cotton. The land is very poor. The slaves appear to be very accommodating, but I find some that are sorry that the place is taken. They are fat and lazy. This place belonged to a man by the name of Massa Seabrook (so the niggers call him). The Plantation is very large. Six miles from here is Fort Walker. Dress Parade this evening.
Mar. 5, Morning. Last night [I] was called up with my Company to go aboard the ship to pump. We worked three and a half hours, when we were relieved. Seems as though we might as well try to pump the sea dry as to clear the ship of water. Went to bed at three o’clock in the morning. When we got up, it was raining as hard as it could pour down. At 11 a.m. it cleared up; sun shines beautifully. The boys are all discouraged, and many express the hope that she may go down, so we won’t be obliged to go aboard of her again. The robins are singing beautifully.
Mar. 6, Well our Camp is named Camp Seabrook. Pleasant day, but windy. Nothing of importance transpired today, only they have kept us on drill all day. Company, Regimental, Dress Parade, etc. etc.
Mar. 7, Camp Seabrook, A very cold morning; there was a frost last night. It was a hard day for drilling. At it most of the time. We all wish we were safe at Ship Island. This evening the 5th New Hampshire Regt, landed here. They are on their way to Savannah, so report says.
Mar. 8, Camp Seabrook. Chilly last evening and night, but pleasant today. Do not feel well, but it has been a hard days’ work with Drilling, Inspection, and Mustering. We are all very tired tonight. We were in hopes to have got away from here by Monday, as they had got the ship all dry, or about dry, and patched the hole up, but tonight she sprung a leak, again. One of our Regt. died last night, did not learn his name. He was a member of Co. H. He died of Typhoid Fever.
Mar. 9, Sunday, Had Inspection this morning. After Inspection got a pass and went over to Fort Walker. There is fighting somewhere — some say at the Fort, it is near a place called Savannah. We can hear the guns plain. The sound is from that direction. This evening attended the funeral of a member of Co. H. It was the first we have had in our Regiment, and it was a solemn sight. They have just commenced to build a Steam Saw Mill, and they are building a splendid dock, so our army is going to be the making of the place, if they are not too lazy to keep it up after the war.
Mar. 10, Camp Seabrook. Pleasant morning. Struck tents at 11 a.m. preparatory to our going aboard of the Old Ship, which they have got patched up, again. Went aboard of a Steam Tug to go out to the ship. Before we got to her, the Mississippi, she was run high and dry on an oyster bed, and they had to run a hawser or rope from the masthead to the shore and tie it to a tree to keep her from going over, when the tide was out.
Mar. 11, Aboard of the Steamship Mississippi. Came aboard this afternoon. We started to board her yesterday afternoon, but the tug was ordered back with us, and we were put aboard of a sloop to stay last night. We had to lay on deck and it commenced raining about 12 o’clock in the night and we got wet through. The ship still lies high and dry on the oyster bed and no likelihood of getting her off of it, and it is raining hard now. It seems as if there was a curse on the old ship, as we have had nothing but bad luck since we started. Gen. Butler is doing all he can to make us as comfortable as possible. He says nothing, but I can see by his eye that the Devil will be to pay with somebody as soon as he can find out where the trouble lies. He knows as well as the men that something is wrong somewhere, and woe betide the one that is to blame, if he gets found out.
Mar. 12, 12 o’clock noon. It has been a cold lowery morning, and it is nothing but hard knocks for it is ordered from one ship to another. There have been four steamers at work this morning and afternoon to try and get her off, but they were obliged to unload the ship again, which took them until four p.m., while the regiment was distributed on different vessels, the men shivering with the cold. The tide came in full at 5 p.m. Then, with the ship lightened and with the aid of the tugs, she was got afloat. 6 p.m. We now lie out in the stream, reloading. A new Captain of the boat was appointed, and Capt. Fulton was put under arrest by order of Gen. Butler, so report says.
Mar. 13, Pleasant morning. Still at anchor off Fort Walker. 12 noon, we weighed anchor, and amid the booming of canon, we gave three hearty cheers and sped on our way, praying that hereafter we may have a pleasant voyage to our destination. Nothing of importance transpired through the rest of the day.
Mar.14, Steamship Mississippi. It is a beautiful morning and it is very warm. We have all been busy cleaning and getting our Quarters in order. We passed an American Gun Boat, today. She run her guns out and moved them and, as we came near, she hailed us. Nothing more of importance transpired through the day. We have gone slow for we are running against head winds. We are now twenty-two days out from Boston — a hard, tedious journey.
Mar. 15, Very windy this morning. Working along the coast of Florida. Looks and acts as though we were going to have a another hurricane, but we hope not. Rained very hard this evening. 9 o’clock p.m., Calmed down and cleared off and now it is beautiful sailing.
Mar. 16, Pleasant morning. I am sick in my bunk and Sergt. Stewart is acting in my place as 1st Sergt this afternoon. Saw a sail on our bow. Fired our Gun to bring her to, but instead of paying any attention to it, and heaving to, she run. Preaching today on the stern of the vessel. A beautiful day and a beautiful moonlight night, not a breath of air stirring. Many of the men have made their beds on deck, it is so warm.
Mar. 17, A very warm morning, it is so warm that it is uncomfortable, but we had to work hoisting coal out of the hold. Half past two p.m. Key West in sight. We have made but slow sailing during the last twenty-four hours, only about four miles an hour. At this rate of sailing, it will take us about two weeks more to reach Ship Island. The men are getting out of patience. They have been so long on the water. All that could, lay down on deck this evening. It was so warm and pleasant. We got asleep and everything was tranquil until about eleven o’clock, when a shower came up which soon drove us to our Quarters, where it was so hot we almost suffocated.
Mar. 18, Steamship Mississippi. A very warm morning. We are gliding along finely. The sails are all set and the old ship is doing her best. Well, what is up now? Not satisfied with making us work night and day, we are ordered on deck, the whole Regiment with all our Equipments and knapsacks, so they can see what they can find in them. A madder set of men I never saw, but it was done by Gen. Butler’s orders. They took away from some of the men tobacco, knives, and pistols. The men are cursing the 1st Sergts. for it, but we are not to blame. I have just heard that the reason of this inspection was that last night some of the men broke in some of the boxes and stole the things.
Mar. 19, Pleasant morning. I do not feel very well, this morning, as I was up most of the night making details for duty. Last night William Packard of Co. B died of Diphtheria, making the third death aboard of the ship since we left Boston; two of them was out of our Regiment. 10 a.m. William Packard was buried at sea. There is a good deal of excitement and the men are elated tonight as we think we are near Ship Island. There is heavy firing toward or in the direction of New Orleans. 6 p.m. There is another storm brewing, the Old Ship rocks like a cradle again tonight.
Mar. 20, Pleasant morning. Cool and nice. As we thought last evening, so it turned out, we had a heavy storm; it thundered and lightened [sic] bad, with strong wind. We were obliged to put out to sea again to keep from being driven on the shore, but this morning it is calmer. We are now in sight of land again. Ten minutes past nine a.m. We are close to Ship Island. There are ten prizes lying at anchor here that have been taken by our Gun Boats. We tried twice to get to the wharf, but could not make it, the Ship being so large and heavy. From the Ship it is a dismal looking place; not a tree to be seen; not a spear of grass meets the eye; and as it appears to us now it is but a bed of white sand, over which the sun glistens as on a pane of glass. This is to be our Camp until they get ready to storm Port Jackson. I was told this morning that it was forty miles from Mobile, fifteen miles to Mississippi City, and seventy-five miles from New Orleans. Still aboard of the old ship at Ship Island. 4 o’clock in the morning the wind again blows a regular northeast storm, and it is so cold that we had to put on our overcoats. In all probability we will have to stay aboard of the ship all day. We tried twice more to get at the Dock; the last time we got entangled in a sloop and stove it all to pieces, so we were ordered out two miles to sea again while the storm lasted. They were afraid that if the ship did make fast to the wharf that she would break away and tear the dock to pieces, as it was a poor concern anyway.
Mar. 22, A very cold morning. We are still off about two miles from the Island. There is nothing doing, but waiting patiently for a chance to get our feet once more on land.
Mar. 23, Still aboard of the old Mississippi. Still cold. Nothing transpired of importance during the day. Ship still in same position as yesterday.
Mar. 24, A very chilly morning. Still aboard of the ship. Though cold, it is pleasant. Mail went today. Two Rebel boats hove in sight, a small Gun Boat of ours went for them; a smart little boat she is too; it is named the New London. Nothing farther of importance today.
Mar. 25, Pleasant morning. We have at last landed, and are glad once more to have room to stir. We formed line and marched about two miles towards the farther end of the Island, where we put up our tents. We found it awful marching. The sand is so deep. All we have to do to get water is to scoop a hole about two feet deep when we get very good water. Heavy firing toward Cat Island — something going on.
Mar. 26, Ship Island. Nothing of importance today. Commenced our regular routine of duty in Camp life; guard mounting, company and regimental drills, with dress parade, and hard work it is going through the evolutions in this sand.
Mar. 27, Ship Island. A very warm day. I am sick today. Nothing of importance transpired in the Regiment, only hard drills. They are going to make up for the easy time we had on board of the ship. The Gun Boat New London took today a Rebel schooner loaded with rosin tar and cotton.
Mar. 28, Ship Island. On the sick list. Nothing of importance transpired. Everything is now in good working order. Drill. Drill. Drill — is the order of the day.
Mar. 29, Ship Island. Nothing to record today of interest. All we have to do is to drill after Guard Mounting.
Mar. 30, Ship Island. News dull. Nothing worth recording. A very warm day.
Mar. 31, A very warm day. Drilled by Battalion this morning. This afternoon had a Regimental Inspection. Four Regiments of our Brigade and two Batteries went aboard of Gun Boat and transports destined for some port unknown.
Apr. 1, Ship Island. Not quite so warm this morning. Company Drill this morning. Sullivan was tried today for stabbing Capt. Lee at Camp Seward, Pittsfield, Mass. Drew ten days rations today.
Apr. 2, Ship Island. Pleasant day. Nothing of importance today aside from our regular routine of duty, and the Rebs firing on a Flag of Truce.
Apr. 3, Ship Island. Very warm day. Our troops are shelling Mississippi City today and report says we have burnt it. The Brigade Doctor died this afternoon.
Apr. 4, Ship Island. Pleasant day. We had another hard day’s drilling. 3 o’clock p.m. We have been watching a fight between four Rebel steamers and three of our Gun Boats.
April 5, Ship Island. The action between the Gun Boats we [watched] yesterday proved to our advantage. Our Gun Boats took a Rebel steamer, a prize, this afternoon. The little devil, surnamed the New London, came in with another prize steamer. The steamer that was brought in this morning was loaded with turpentine. Report says there was a thousand barrels aboard. The whole amount of prizes taken today was four steamers, 1 sloop and 1 schooner. The 9th Connecticut Regiment went over to Boloxia [Biloxi] and effected a landing; drove the Rebels out, cut the telegraph wires; took their Camp and burned it; took nine prisoners. Capt. Conant went with them. All that was hurt on our side was two, so report says. Capt. Conant received a flesh wound in the leg; the other in the arm. This evening seven men were drowned while in swimming; six were found, the other, it is thought, was taken by a shark.
April 6, Ship Island. Pleasant. Nothing to record. Regular drills, etc., etc.
April 7, Ship Island. Nothing of importance. Brigade drill this afternoon.
April 8, Ship Island. Last night was an awful night. The wind blew so, we were afraid our tents would come down and the sand filled the air. It commenced raining as hard as it could pour down; the first rain we have had since we came here. It stopped raining at 12 noon today, but blows a perfect gale, and the waves of the sea dash up on the Island with a vengeance, and the wind blew so, we could hardly see; and our clothes are full of sand, fairly driven in by the wind. And our tents were levelled to the ground and we had all we could do, to get them up, again. Nine o’clock in the evening, commenced again to rain, and the wind going down.
April 9, Ship Island. Pleasant morning after the storm of yesterday. This forenoon we have had all we could do, to get our Camp set to right, after last night’s storm, and clean ourselves up; this afternoon we have had a hard one, for Gen. Butler reviewed the Division and all the troops on the Island, and you bet it was no small job for us to keep up an alignement [sic] with the sand over our shoes. They say there was eighteen thousand men passed in review, and none were sorry when taps was sounded, after last night’s siege with the wind and elements. No sleep and a hard day’s work, we all turned in caring nothing for no one, not even the land Crabs that frequently
pay us a visit.
April 10, Pleasant Day. Based up on our drills a little today. Nothing occurred worth recording.
April 11, Ship Island. The wind again is on the warpath this morning. Commenced raining at noon. Wind and rain vying with each other to see which could make us the most uncomfortable. Nothing doing in Camp only what is actually necessary.
April 12, Ship Island. The war of the elements continued with increasing fury, growing worse and worse, and about eleven o’clock at night it commenced thundering and lightening. Such thunder I never heard, and lightening [sic] fairly illuminated the Heavens, and the thunder fairly shook the Island. It fairly drove the boys all up. No sleep, and if a thousand canon [sic] had been pouring in their deadly shot we could not have felt ourselves in a worse position. Somewhere about one o’clock, to add to our discomfort, the tents began to leak, so it was as bad inside as it was outside. About 2 o’clock, the Guard Tent was struck by lightening, killing three of our men right out, and four or five men were hurt so they are not expected to live. A number more were more or less hurt. They were all of our Regiment, I went to see them as some of my men were in the tent, and God forbid that I ever should look upon another such a sight. One of my men — the wickedest man I had in the Company — lay between two that was killed. His name was Stetson; he said he thought the Kingdom had come, but in an hour he forgot all about it. The funeral was this afternoon and it was a solemn sight. The whole Regiment tended it, not a man excused. We marched left in front, 1st Sergt. commanding each Co., the officers all in the rear. When we returned, we marched right in front, Col. Goodwin commanding, each officer in his proper place, with the muffled drums going, and the coffins carried on the muskets of the men, and the remembrances of the past night made us unusually sad, and pray that we might soon be ordered from the Island.
April 13, Ship Island. Well again it is a pleasant day, yet the scenes of the previous night and of yesterday make us sad. We have received marching orders. We are to leave at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. Orders also to have three days’ rations cooked and given out to the men, so we have been very busy all day. No Company Drills, nothing but Guard Mounting and Dress Parade.
April 14, Ship Island. Pleasant day. We received 40 rounds each of ball cartridges today, and given out rations, and now 2 p.m., are awaiting matching orders. We have done no drilling today of any description and the boys all feel well and are in the best of spirits, and are all glad to get off this God forsaken Island. Private Grout of Co. D died this morning of diphtheria. Grout was buried this afternoon.
April 15, Ship Island. Pleasant but cool. We are waiting orders to fall in. 2 p.m., fell in, marched to the Landing where we stood in line about two hours. 6 p.m. Well here we are, again, in our Old Quarters aboard of the old steamship Mississippi, bound for Fort Jackson and St. Phillips.
April 16, Steamship Mississippi. Pleasant morning. We all rested better than I expected, being we were so crowded, [there] being two Regiments and a Battery aboard — the 31st and 26th Regts., and a Battery of one hundred and thirty men with guns. Weighed anchor this evening at ten o’clock.
Apr. 17, Aboard of the Ship. Sailing toward our destination towing the North America, a sailing vessel, loaded with troops. 2 o’clock p.m., anchored at the mouth of the Mississippi River at a place called 5 point, 27 miles from Fort Jackson. It has been a pleasant day, but very warm.
April 18, Steamship Mississippi. When tide came in last night, weighed anchor and crossed the bar and sailed up the Mississippi. It is a pleasant morning and the scenery on the shores is beautiful. At 9 a.m., we cast anchor close to the shore where the vessel was hid by the high trees. It is beautiful all around us, and all is still. Am filled with anxiety for the Gun Boats are manoeuvring to get in their position for an advance to attack the Fort. 11 a.m., Gen. Butler went on one of the Gun Boats and shortly after, our mortars and Gun Boats commenced their work bombarding Fort Jackson. At 5 o’clock, there is a bright light in the Fort — looks as though our shells had set it afire. Just ahead of us lies a French Man of War, behind us lies the North America. All are up late tonight watching the shells as they are flying through the air. 12 night, the Fort has ceased firing.
April 19, Aboard of the Ship. Pleasant morning, but very warm. It was so hot last night that when we did turn in, we could not sleep, and more than half on the vessel went on deck again, rather than smother in the hold. Not a breath of air stirring. 9 a.m., the mortars have again commenced bombarding the Fort. All we have to do is to stand and watch the shells as they pass and repass between the Fort and the Mortar Boats. The men are discontented, being cooped up on the vessel; we are so crowded, and it is so warm, it is certainly very uncomfortable. The Gun or Mortar Boats kept at it all day. This evening, the decks and rigging are lined and crowded watching the duel between the Fort and Boats, but we are all tired out. We turned in early, as we had no sleep last night, and though hot enough to cook eggs, I think we will sleep tonight. Still we lie at the bend of the river out of sight.
April 20, Aboard of the Old Ship. Rather cooler this morning. We took three spies, last night about one o’clock, and found out that there was a house on shore close to us; that accounts for the shot that was fired at us, but the balls or shells went over our vessel and settled in the River. Some of them came pretty close to us. Col. Goodwin sent Col. Wheldon, and one of the Captains took some men, and landed to reconnoitre and if possible, to get the man that lived in the house. He acted so, it aroused their suspicion that he was giving information as to the position of our fleet. After they returned to the vessel, Col. Goodwin sent a Captain and three men to watch the house; they went at 12 o’clock in the night. As they came in sight of the house, they saw the woman leave it and started to cross the island towards the Fort. They also met a man on the mainland, but they could get nothing out of them for they were stubborn as mules. Towards noon, commenced to rain, so it has since been a cool uncomfortable day. The Mortars are still at work on the Fort, but we can’t get much news, for the officers don’t seem inclined to let the men know anything, if they do. We dropped down the River last night.
April 21, Ship Mississippi. A chilly day. All is quiet this forenoon. Neither fort or Mortar fired a shot. We now lie at the Southwest Pass. This afternoon, they are at it again. We can distinctly hear the Guns. Nothing of importance transpired, as far as we are concerned. We lie here like dead heads and the men are getting discouraged, for we have hardly room to breathe, let alone to move.
April 22, Ship Mississippi. Pleasant Morning. The Mortar Boats are still hard at work on the Fort. They kept it up all night, a continuous firing, and we lie here filled with anxiety to hear how they are getting along. 12 noon. News has come, at last, that the cable is cut that the Rebs had stretched across the River to debar our fleet from going up. This news was received by the men with three hearty cheers. We then moved up the stream and at two o’clock we cast anchor, they say, about five miles from the Fort. Every man is on the lookout as the Fort does not return our fire. 7 o’clock evening. Again moving up the stream. We have now got up with the fleet of Gun Boats. It is a week, today, since we commenced on the Fort. Nothing but the Mortar have done anything yet.
April 23, Steamship Mississippi. We did not stay below long, last night. At 12 o’clock, we were all on deck watching the shells as they rose in the air from the mortar boats and from the Fort. Though filled with destruction, it was a beautiful sight to us. No fireworks ever equalled it. No rockets could ever equal the brilliancy of the shells with their lighted fuse as the air was filled with them. Never, No Never, will one of us aboard of the ship ever forget that sight. What is that bright light coming around the bend of the River? It illuminates the whole sky. All eyes are now on that. It turns out to be a large fire raft sent down the River to destroy our Fleet. It is filled with barrels of tar and rosin, pine knots and every inflamable [sic] article that the iniquity of man or devil could invent. Its lights could be seen for miles, but our fleet was prepared, for a little steamer fearlessly attacked it, and with grappling irons, dragged it to the shore where without harm it could quietly burn itself out. There was a number sent down, but did no damage. 4 o’clock a.m., they are now making great preparations for the Grand Attack. The Gun Boats are now getting in line to run by the Forts while the Mortar Boats keep them engaged.
April 24, Steamship Mississippi. Not an eye has been closed, now, for twenty-four hours; not a man is tired or sleepy for all is excitement; every nerve is strained to its utmost capacity. Three o’clock in the morning. The scene has commenced. The thundering of the Guns as they are pounding on the walls is terrible. Not a Gun in our Fleet, or the Rebel’s, is now silent. To us it is death or Victory; to the Rebels defeat and disgrace. 9 a.m. Orders have just arrived for our boat to move down to the Passes and remain there until further orders. What is the trouble? Are our commanders afraid of defeat? 10 a.m. Our Gun Boats are attacked by the Rebel Gun Boats, and report says we are having hard times of it with the Forts and Gun Boats. The Manassas, the Rebel Battering Ram, was blown up this morning by the first shell our Gunboats fired. 5 p.m. Sailed out of the Mississippi River, where we are going, Heaven only Knows, and we have got so we don’t care.
April 25, Steamship Mississippi. 5 o’clock in the morning. Report says that we are ordered to sail to the rear of Fort Phillips. It is a quiet morning. All quiet aboard. 4.30 p.m. Anchored about 7 miles to the rear of Fort Phillips, but are not likely to accomplish much here, as the rest of the troops are not with us. The Great Republic is aground on the Bar in the Southwest Pass with three thousand men aboard, and the North America lies up the Mississippi River with two thousand more, and we are all alone with four Rebel Gun Boats between us and the Fort. The men are getting ragged and dirty. Many have not a shirt to their back. I don’t believe there are seven men in the Co. that have got two shirts, and we can’t get any until we land. The men are getting discouraged, not only my Company, but the whole Regiment is alike destitute.
April 26, Steamship Mississippi. A cool morning. Making preparations to land and we have made up our minds for a bloody time, but anything for a change. Half past six p.m. The 26th Mass. Vols. has left for land, with cheers from our Regt, the 31st Mass. Vol., while the band played “Yankee Doodle” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” We will probably land tomorrow, we all hope so at any rate.
April 27, Steamship Mississippi. Still aboard of the Old Ship awaiting orders. We are a discontented lot today for we have nothing to do but skirmish for greybacks in our clothes. We have been so crowded that it was impossible to keep ourselves free from them, and one half of the Regiment has the dysentery.
April 23, Steamship Mississippi. Pleasant morning, Here we are yet, awaiting orders. 2 p.m. Orders came to land. 3 p.m, went aboard of old steamer called the “Lewis“. There is not much of her anyway; it is an old rickety thing carrying one gun, made more like a flat boat, but as we are bound for shore we all feel good. The boys expect fun taking Fort Phillips. We are bound to do our best at any rate. After getting within two miles of the shore, waiting for the small boats to take us to land, news came that the Forts had surrendered and we were ordered back to the old ship Mississippi.
April 29, Steamship Mississippi. Came aboard of the old ship Mississippi at six o’clock this morning. It is a beautiful day. Four p.m. sailing up the Mississippi River by Pilot Town. The River is full of Gun Boats with the Stars and Stripes flying. It is more like a Gala Day than like war and carnage, as our bands are playing the National airs. The Gun Boats and Vessels in the stream dip their colors as we pass, as our ship is Gen. Butler’s Head Quarters. They are now playing the Star Spangled Banner, and small flags are waving in the hands of the sailors, showing that nothing can retard our progress as long as God, the constitution and liberty are our motto. Our troops took seven hundred prisoners. We lost fifty men killed. The Rebs lost four hundred, so report says. I have just heard how our brave sailors blew up the Rebel Battering Ram by climbing in the Rigging and dropping shells down the smoke stack.
April 30, Steamship Mississippi. We cast anchor between the forts this morning at sunrise. It is a mystery to us all how under Heavens our Gun Boats ever got by those Forts. 9 a.m. At anchor at the Quarantine Grounds where the 26th Mass. boys are posted for the time being. On the grounds is a large two story brick building, looks like an arsenal; also one large wooden building and three smaller ones. As we sailed from the forts to this place, we passed hundreds of Fire Boats along the shore all ready to touch the match to. Two hundred Rebel prisoners took the oath of allegiance this afternoon. With three cheers they dispersed. Made a mistake in the number of prisoners taken at the Forts, it was nine hundred.
May 1, Steamer Mississippi. Set sail for New Orleans at 3 o’clock this morning. It is chilly, but pleasant. It is a beautiful country. All along the river on both sides are pleasant plantations with their niggers to work hoeing sugar cane, both men, women and children, the driver with his whip in his hand looking on. Fifteen minutes of 1 p.m., cast anchor in New Orleans. As we sailed up to the Levee the sailors on the men-of-war climbed the rigging and cheered us, while the ships dipped their colors. As yet there is no one on the Levee, but we expect every moment to see them flock to it. It is so still at this hour, 3.30, it seems more like Sunday. Our flag is flying in the City. We can hear Guns in different parts of the City which we think are signal guns. 4 p.m. The crowd is beginning to collect on the Levee, and looking up the street it is black with people, both men and women, making for the shore. Our Regiment is drawn up in line on the deck facing the Levee, and we are ordered to load. We empty the powder in the guns, and are ordered to hold the balls up so they can see that we are loaded with balls and mean business. Landed at 7 o’clock and formed and then took up our line of march. All went off very well, no demonstration only jeering, hooting and yelling after us, while the women in the houses we passed sang the “Bonny Blue Flag” and waved them in our faces, but our orders were strict and we bit our lips, willing to bide our time. With our flankers thrown out we reached the Custom House, where now at 9 o’clock in the evening we are quartered.