With "Old Crummy to Camp Misery" 

March 22nd - May 11th

Map of movements from the regimental history

This map, from Chapter III of the regimental history "Three Years in the Army," depicts the regiments movements from Winchester to Warrenton Junction.  The original map was sketched by Sergeant William Coombs, Company B, for the book.  The map is not to scale.

Table of Contents


     It is not the intention of this website to simply copy text from Charles E. Davis, jr.'s official history of the regiment "Three Years in the Army,” but rather to supplement that resource with other primary sources for a detailed and intimate telling of the soldiers’ story.   But when Davis gives detail, his wit and commentary are very strong. This is particularly so during the periods between battles.  So I present this portion of the history in large part as Davis told it in his book, minus a few edits.  I also include, though it is somewhat repetitive, excerpts from the diary of Samuel Derrick Webster [(HM 48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA] a document used by Davis as a reference in writing the “Three Years in the Army.”

     The brigade was now under command of General John J. Abercrombie with orders to march from Winchester to Warrenton Junction, Virginia.  The narrative explains that the association with Abercrombie was un-pleasant.

Photo Credits:
The images of Berryville, Snickersville, and the Shenandoah Valley are from the website www.bluemontva.org.  I wish to thank Susan Freis Falknor and Karen Myers for granting permission to use them.  The Arthur Lumley sketch of the sutler’s tent and the several Alfred R. Waud sketches are from the Library of  Congress.  The two winter scenes by Waud were separated out from a single sketch.  The images of Generals McClellan and Hartsuff are from the web archive www.old-picture.com.  The wagon sketch by Walter Tabor is from “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.”  The photo of Admiral N. M. Dyer is from the Army Heritage Collection at Carlisle.  Most other images are from the Library of Congress.  The brightness and contrast of all the images were enhanced in photoshop.

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Over the Mountain and Back; - and then Over Again

From "Three Years in the Army; The Story of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers;" Boston: Estes & Lauriet, 1894.

Main Street, BerryvilleFriday, March 21.
     Marched with the brigade in an easterly direction, ten miles, toward Berryville, and went into camp in the woods about two miles short of that town. It rained hard nearly all day, and it was dark before we halted.  Building fires with wet, green wood required a deal more of Christian patience than most of us possessed, to refrain from swearing.  Some of the boys, whose abilities to overcome obstacles seemed superhuman, succeeded in boiling coffee. 

[Pictured is Main Street, downtown Berryville, also known as 'Battletown' for Revolutionary War Hero Daniel Morgan's pugilistic adventures.  Court records disclose Morgan's frequent appearances on charges of 'Assault & Battery.']  

Photograph courtesy of www.bluemontva.org

Saturday, March 22. 
     At daylight we built fires and tried to dry our blankets before marching, as a wet blanket is no light load to tote over a mountain. About 9 o’clock we took up the line of march to Snicker’s Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, passing through Berryville, where we stopped for half an hour or more, and where we saw some pretty girls, which prompted one of the boys to sing that song which includes:

“And the captain with his whiskers
Took a sly glance at me.”

     Though nothing but a village, it had a few stores and a hotel, so we were able to provide ourselves with some of the delicacies exposed for sale.  We then proceeded across the Shenandoah River, by means of a pontoon bridge, and up the mountain to a level plain in Snicker’s Gap, where we pitched tents for the night in a beautiful pine grove, and where we found plenty of good water.

Snicker's Gap

The name of the town of Snickersville was changed to Bluemont many years after the Civil War.  This postcard depicts the mountain pass that Abercrombie's Brigade passed through on this march.  I am grateful to Susan Freis Falknor and Karen Myers of Bluemont, Va. for allowing me to use this image and others from www.bluemontva.org on my page.  Visit my 'links' page to see their site.

Snickrsville, Main Street Looking EastSunday, March 23.      Continued the march about 7 o’clock, passing down the east side of the mountain through the village of Snickersville and on to Aldie, eighteen miles. A good day’s work for Sunday.  The colonel was good enough to compliment us on our marching. Well, taffy is an article that pleases soldiers just the same as it does others of God’s children.  Orders were issued by General Abercrombie not to meddle with fence rails. There was never anything invented in the shape of wood that would make a better or quicker fire than a fence rail. As the colonel had already given orders not to take any but the top rail, we adhered strictly to that humorous injunction.  ["Snickersville, Main Street, Looking East"] 

From Sam Webster's diary: 
     "Abercrombie’s orders are not to take rails, and such things have to be done before a guard is put on.  When formed into column by companies, previous to pitching tents and breaking ranks,  Col. Leonard called out, You’ll find wood in front, (two fences) bedding over there (two stacks of something a little up the road) and water behind you.  Only take the top rail, and hurry that the guard won’t catch you.”  The articles indicated were promptly appropriated. The mountain on this side is a decided slope and anything but gradual. The inhabitants do not seem to be as favorable as one could wish, and there is some talk of guerillas.  Left the 28th Penna. Regt, Col. Geary, at Snickersville. It numbers about 1500 men."  [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

     NOTE:  Company's C, I, & K, were already familiar with Colonel Geary's 28th Pennsylvania; they met at Harper's Ferry in September & October, 1861.

Monday, March 24. 
     Remained in camp until 5 P.m., when we received orders to return to Berryville with the greatest possible haste.  Banks had been, or was about to be, attacked by Jackson, hence the necessity of our being near when needed. We should have liked it much better if Jackson had made his attack before we left Winchester, and not waited until we were forty miles away.  Wading through streams had been disastrous to the home-made boots of a good many of the boys, who found it impossible to get them on to their feet, and were therefore obliged to walk in stockings or go barefoot.  As stockings were a poor protection, there were some pretty sore feet by the time the eighteen miles were accomplished. Stone church on the road through SnickersvilleMile after mile of this weary march we counted off, until at last the little stone church in Snickersville, at the foot of the mountain, appeared in sight, lighted as if for a social gathering.  The temptation to stop was very great, and many there were in the brigade who availed themselves of the opportunity.

     What a scene was presented to view on entering the door!  Men were lying on the seats, under the seats, in the aisles, in the pulpit; every available spot, large enough to stow a body, was found to be occupied, until they were paced as closely as sardines in a box.  Though every lamp in the church was lighted, there was no one awake to enjoy it; all were snoring away like so many pigs, reminding one of a pond of bull-frogs on a summers’ night.  “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” (The Stone Church in Snickersville seen on the road ahead, past the trees.)

     One of our boys finding no place whereon to lay his head, trudged up the mountain and rejoined the regiment, which had already pitched tents on the same ground occupied by it two nights before. “Where have you been?” was the inquiry that greeted him as he entered the tent.  “To church,” he answered.  “Yes,” said another, “he probably stopped to p-r-e-y.”

From Sam Webster's diary:
     "My knapsack heretofore having been my blue blanket which I wrapped around my other “duds” and then bucked into a “set of straps,” I concluded to change. So, one of the boys having parted company with the light box of his knapsack, and another part of a red blanket, I combined the two, making a neat red box over which the”straps” passed nicely. Then I took a blue hat-box, allowing the tassels to hang down when my blue blanket was rolled and tied on top.  Had plenty of room inside and the effect was charming. Carrried my wet clothes admirable."  [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

Shenandoah River as seen from the brow of the mtn.

Tuesday, March 25. 
     When reveille was sounded, it seemed as though we had been asleep but a few minutes.  We stretched ourselves into shape, however, answered to roll-call, cooked our “regular coffee,” and prepared to march at 9 o’clock.  About a mile from camp, as we reached the brow of the mountain, we were informed that the pontoon bridge over the Shenandoah was carried away, and that we should be obliged to wait until it was rebuilt before continuing our journey. These were tidings of great joy, affording us an opportunity of sleeping or gazing on the beautiful valley of this attractive river, and a lovelier sight never greeted the eye of man.  An opportunity was also afforded those who needed them to draw shoes from the quartermaster.  Some of us, afflicted with more pride than sense, had been having our boots made to order and sent out from home, and now became acquainted, for the first time, with the virtues of an “army shoe,” and in a few days were ready to testify that we never saw a shoe so well adapted for its purpose. (view of the Shenandoah River from the top of the mountain looking west).

     About 3 o’clock we resumed our march down the mountain, crossed the river and were well on our way toward Berryville, when a courier from General Banks met us with an order to return; so back up the mountain we marched to our camp-ground in the woods, where for the third time we pitched our tents, “Dei gratia,” as General Rosecrans says in one of his orders.

The old stone church at SnickersvilleWednesday, March 26.
 At 8 o’clock A.M. we started down the mountain on the road to Aldie, again passing through the village of Snickersville, where, as before, our appearance ruffled the tempers of the villagers, who expressed their contempt by making faces and calling us “Miserable Yankees.”  We were not disturbed at these exhibitions, though some of the boys exercised their wit in rather irritating words.  As we passed by the little stone church we noticed it was closed. Where were all the pious pilgrims who occupied it two nights ago?  We halted at Goose Creek for the night, in a beautiful piece of woods. We had hardly dropped our knapsacks when the order was given to “fall in,” information having been received that the enemy was advancing toward us from Aldie. We soon learned that the alarm was false, and, to our delight, the order was countermanded. [images courtesy of www.bluemontva.org, see links page for access].

     The spot selected for our camp was in a beautiful piece of woods, in close proximity to a clear, sparkling brook, but its situation with respect to a rail fence, upon which we relied for our fuel, was a bad one, inasmuch as it necessitated our walking by the general’s tent, if we succeeded in getting any of that forbidden fruit called rails. As soon as tents were pitched, men from each company, in merry mood, started for rails, without the least suspicion that General Abercrombie had placed his tent on the side of the road at the very point where they expected to get them.  General John J. AbercrombieTheir chagrin, as they saw the general, like watch-dog, sitting in front of his tent facing the very fence they proposed to seize, is not easily described.  The ill-luck which is said to accompany the number thirteen seemed to acquire justification while we were with Abercrombie. His prejudice against us was unaccountable, considering we had been under his command but a week.  If any man in the brigade was caught violating an order, the general’s first instinct was to suspect the offender as being a Thirteenth man. In this particular instance, men belonging to other regiments and companies could be plainly seen beyond, helping themselves to rails without hindrance, so it was easy to reason that a change had taken place in his feelings about not touching them, though the boys hardly dared to take them from under his very nose, as it was too much like bearding the lion in his den. Suddenly he disappeared in his tent.  Such an apparent dispensation of Providence was made the most of. As rapidly as possible they loaded themselves with all the rails they could carry, and hurried back to camp, careful to make no noise as they passed his tent.  Just as they were congratulating themselves on escaping observation, the general suddenly made his appearance.

“His brow was sad; his eye beneath
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath.”

     Above the braying of hungry mules could be heard his shrill voice shouting, “Put down those rails!”  Appreciating that prompt and cheerful obedience is one of the attributes of a good soldier, they hurried along with might and main to obey his order, but the spot selected was not where he wanted them “put down.”  The greatest soldiers will often differ about the interpretation of an order. As nothing was said about the particular spot where the rails were to be put down, the boys could only guess what might be his wishes. As often happens, they guessed wrong. Once again he yelled, “D—N YOU PUT DOWN THOSE RAILS !”  As they turned into the woods to the camp, the rails on their shoulders took every sort of angle. While one might be poking into the ground, another would be pointed to the sky, while others would steer off to the right or left, - all wanting to go in different directions, making it an embarrassing piece of work to pilot them among the trees. At last the boys reached camp, completely blown and considerably scared with the fear that an aid might soon come with an order for them to appear before General Abercrombie. This anticipation, however, did not interfere with building fires, as that work proceeded at once, and very soon the odor of boiling coffee could be distinguished.  (General John J. Abercrombie; Library of Congress photo).

Waud's illustration, Taking Fence Rails      As time wore on, and no officer appeared with a summons, courage returned, and more rails were procured – this time without attracting notice. Very soon the men gathered round huge fires to listen to songs, or to hear the latest gossip. A common topic of discussion during this early part of our service was the probability of our return home in a few days, without seeing any fighting.

From Sam Webster's diary:
    "Waited at the foot of mountain all of this day for the bridge, which had broken, to be fixed, and just as we got across orders are countermanded and here we are back on the mountain our third night.  The Band not understanding the “right about” movement stuck up “O, dear, what can the matter be” which it seems is that Gen. Shields has had a fight, in which we were to take part, but having got too far away, were not available, and besides, he thrashed Jackson without us."

     "Our brigade now contains the 12th and 13th Mass. 12th and 16th Indiana, (1 year men) and 9th N.York Infantry, the Michigan Cavalry and Matthews and three other batteries; a right heavy brigade. Besides this “Crummy’s’ body-guard, the Zouaves de Afrique, 150 men under Capt. Collis, a set of “old vets,” borrowed from Banks. They are a hard set, and Crummy intends sending them back, one of them having stolen his boots, which had been set out for his man to black."  [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA] 

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Reconaissance to Middleburg

Thursday, March 27.
     About 3:30 A.M. the long roll was sounded, and in company with the Sixteenth Indiana Infantry, a section of artillery and a squadron of cavalry, we made a reconnoissance to Middleburg, about six miles away, with the hope of surprising a rebel camp in that town. The morning was bright and clear and the air delightfully invigorating. Though we marched as fast as we could, we found the enemy had been warned of our approach in season to leave without the risk of a battle, whereupon we were halted in the main street of this pretty town for an hour’s rest before retuning to camp. During our temporary stay the boys made good use of their time by skirmishing for something to eat.

     Our trip was not wholly devoid of fun, as will be seen by the following incident which occasioned the remark, “Who stole the honey”” that has been so often repeated at our regimental gatherings since the war.  One of the boys having discovered a beehive, seized it and returned to the regiment with it in his arms; while a short distance away, the loser, like Aristaeus of old, was exclaiming, “Mother! They’ve stolen my bees!”  As the forager approached the regiment he was greeted with shouts of laughter, and “Put down that honey!”  Though bedaubed with the contents of the hive, and presenting the most ridiculous appearance, he was in no way disconcerted at the uproar he created, and so had both honey and friends with whom to share it.

Sam Webster wrote more about the reconnaissance to Middleburg:
     We retraced our steps yesterday as far as this point, Goose Creek Bridge, and had been halted but a few minutes in the woods before the “long-roll” was so violently sounded as to cause our boys to grab up their drums and go at it. Any rebels within five miles were sure to hear it.  Co. D. was ordered out for picquet and I, of course, went along.  Took a back road to Middleburg, and after following it half a mile ran on some half asleep fellows of another Regt whom we relieved; got straw and rails and made ourselves comfortable (at the reserve) and then at midnight were relieved in turn and sent to camp to prepare for a move at 3 oclock. The cooks prepared breakfast, and I snatched a little sleep until turned out to go along. Daylight was just showing as we went over the bridge, after which we took the right hand road and moved (south) in the direction of Middleburg, the Zouaves ahead as skirmishers.  We got safely into Middleburg, with no one hurt, having signally failled to secure Major White (White's Cavalry) and 150 Guerillas said to have been there last night. And long-roll, no doubt, scared them off.  A great many of the boys got a second breakfast at the hotel, the table being just set; while others got old hams, molasses, honey, etc., from various places; and still another crowd cleaned out a gunsmith shop, wherein were a number of rifles, etc., to be repaired. Dr. Whitney captured a small reb. Flag, displayed in one house, and got all sorts of left-handed blessings from the lady occupant. We picked up our men and marched leisurely back to camp, assured of not having created a good impression on the people of the town. Geary was here with the 28th Penna on Sunday or Monday last, so we were not the first they had seen of Uncle Sam’s boys.  [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

Friday, March 28
     Started at 8 A.M. and marched eighteen miles to Pleasant Valley, on the road to Centreville.  A hot day and a dusty road.

Death of Private Patrick Cleary, Company K

From "Three Years with Company ; Sergeant Austin C. Stearns; Edited by Arthur A. Kent, Fairleigh Dickenson Press; 1976; Used with Permission.

Centreville     It was strictly against “Aunt Abbie’s” orders to forage, but for all that, the boys would steal out, and if they could keep clear of the patrol guard they would bring in something to eat. Pat Cleary and Warren W. Day of our mess were out when they came across a flock of sheep. As the patrol was around, they had to be careful, [but] at length an old ram (old enough, and thought to have come over on the same ship with John Smith) came within range and was quickly dropped by Cleary’s rifle. They dragged him into the woods where they soon had his hindquarters dressed; keeping a sharp lookout for the guard, they soon came into camp, where they generously distributed the lamb, so called by them, amongst the boys of our mess.  I fried some for my dinner and tried to eat it, but failed.

     Tough sole-leather was tender as chicken beside it.  We laughed at them for their choice of lamb and threw it away.  Day sat up all night boiling a portion of it for Cleary and himself to take on the morrow on the march. And the next day, whenever a halt was made, they were trying to reduce a piece or get it into a condition so they could swallow it.  We marched all day on the Aldie Pike in the direction of Centreville, and pitched our tents that night within a few miles of it. That night, as we were sleeping as only tired soldiers can, Cleary was taken sick, with a great pain in his side; he took on fearfully, [and] some of the boys, not realizing the extent of his sufferings and remembering the old ram (for they had plagued him all day), said it was the old fellow trying to get out, and they thought it best for him to get up and let him out. Others got up and assisted him to the Surgeons tent where all was done for him that could be. Poor fellow; I never saw him again; he was placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital tent in Centreville where he lived but two days. His body was sent to Southboro, Mass. and laid in the paupers lot, [w]here it remained for fifteen years, when through the exertion of his friend, W.W. Day, assisted by a few of his comrades from Westboro who contributed towards the expense, his body was removed to the lot of Mr. Forest Day, who gladly granted the priviledge.(sic)

     Cleary was a good solder, and was mourned by the whole Company.  (Pictured is the town of Centreville; Library of Congress.)

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Centreville to Warrenton Junction

Rebel huts at CentrevilleSaturday, March 29.
     Marched to Blackburns’s Ford, seven miles, passing through Centreville.  A part of the way we marched across the fields.  We halted about an hour at Centreville in some rebel huts, [pictured] which protected us from a driving snow-storm.  Resumed our march, in snow and rain, to our destination, near the Bull Run battlefield, where we found another lot of huts, the recent quarters of the Washington Artillery from New Orleans. Some of the men preferred tents. There were a good many evidences about these huts that showed a festivity not common in the Union army – such as champagne and whiskey bottles. Some of their mess-houses were embellished with signs such as “Yahoos,” “Rest for the Pilgrims,” “Pot-pourri,” etc., etc.

     A good deal of interest was shown among the boys to investigate our surrounding on this unfortunate field, which looked more like a graveyard than anything else. One of the boys counted seventy dead horses in the last two miles of our march. It is said these horses were starved to death for want of forage. The odor that penetrated the camp was very disagreeable.

Sunday, March 30.
     The seventh day of the week. The day on which the Lord rested. As it rained hard all day, we also rested, though no chime of bells saluted the ear.

     Some of the boys complained that the water we were drinking had a bad taste. An investigation showed there was reason why it should, as it flowed through the putrid remains of a dead horse a short distance above where we took it. To complain about a little thing like that showed what mere tadpoles of soldiers we were in comparison with our experience later on – after our taste had been cultivated by rancid pork, mouldy hardtack, and buggy coffee. Yes, we still retained some of the fastidious and dainty habits of the sybarite.

Wauds sketch of Centrevill and Bull Run

Artist Alfred R. Waud's sketch of the rebel huts at Centreville, with the fortifications to the right and Bull Run Battlefield in the distance; drawn in March, 1862, the same time the 13th Mass passed through here for the first time. (Library of Congress).

Letter of Warren H. Freeman; describing the march over the mountains


     DEAR FATHER, - I have but a few moments before the closing of the army mail; but I will try to improve this brief period in letting you know that I am well and all right every way.  Our brigade left Winchester on Friday, March 21st at about sunset, for Manassas. We marched about seven miles and bivouacked in the woods; pleasant overhead when I laid down, but woke up in the morning to find myself lying in a puddle of water, it having rained hard during the night; dried myself by a large fire, and we were soon on the march. A part of our route lay through the valley of the Shenandoah; the scenery was splendid indeed. At about noon we had reached the summit of the Blue Ridge Mountain and pitched our tents; we started again on Sunday morning, crossing the mountain, and marched seventeen and a half miles to the town of Aldie; halted here till four o’clock on Monday afternoon, when we had orders to return to Winchester.  We started on our return at sunset and reached our old camp ground on top of the mountains at three o’clock on Tuesday morning; rested here till eight o’clock, when we resumed our march and soon reached the Shenandoah River; but the bridge was partially carried away, and we had to wait nearly all day for repairs. At night we crossed over, and had marched but a short distance when we met a messenger who had been sent to inform us the battle at Winchester was over and we were not wanted, so we turned back again and encamped on the mountains – crossing it three times.  While on the mountains I received a letter from Frankie and one from Uncle Washington, assuring me that, though far away, the soldier boy is constantly held in fond remembrance. These frequent letters from home and dear friends go far toward ameliorating the hardships of the camp and the march.

     We now made easy marches, and reached Centreville on Friday, March 28th.  Halted here for one hour. I can assure you that this is a strongly fortified place; I have not seen anything like it before.

     We are now encamped on the battle-field of July 18th, 1861, - a place memorable in history.  I made a search around the field and officers’ barracks for relics; but that place had been carefully gleaned by those that came here before us, and I only found the inclosed map of the grounds.  By it you will see just where we are encamped.

     During the week we must have marched about 100 miles; but I stood it first-rate. To-morrow we go to Manassas Junction : beyond that I know nothing about our destination.

     We have first-rate news from Winchester. Jackson was soundly whipped:  but it was our luck not to have a hand in it.  Well, I suppose you are glad of it. But we shall get enough of it before the war is over; it has now fairly begun.  Don’t you “hear the thunder all around the skies.”

     I hope I shall be able to write a more detailed account of the past week’s proceedings, but cannot tell now.  These are stirring times, and I know not what a day may bring forth; so I bid you all farewell.

     P. S.  I forgot to mention that on our way hither we captured one prisoner; he was a captain in the rebel army ; we brought him along with us.

     We had quite a smart snow-storm yesterday; it is raining now. The traveling for our baggage train and batteries is awful. The cavalry can pick their way a little ; the infantry take to the fields by the roadside at times; so you will perceive there cannot be much order in our marching.

The Heights of Centreville; Austin Stearns

     The morning was cold and cloudy, with every indication of rain, which commenced soon after we started and continued all day. Now, ever since we had been in the army, we had heard of Centreville, and Manassas, and also Manassas Gap, and we had got them all mixed up and confounded together, not thinking that the Gap was in the Blue Ridge Mountains fifty miles away.  And we had also heard how strongly fortified those places were, in fact we had heard them called the “Gibralter of America,” and we thought they abounded with batteries that were masked, and all the other dreadful engines of war that stood with open mouths ready to swallow up the army that should dare approach.

     “Manassas.”  The name had been held up to us as a terriable (sic) place; it was used as a by-word when something awful was wanted to be expressed.  In fact it was the great Bug-a-boo held up before our eyes, to frighten us, the same as some folks frighten their children.

Fortifications at Centreville     So this morning we expected to see great things, in an enormous and strongly fortified place, with batteries that were so masked that their presence could not be defined until they poured forth their deadly fire.

     How sadly we were disappointed, for after a few hours march we came to what had been called the “Heights of Centreville” and instead of a hill terriable to climb, and honey combed, and interlaced with earth-works and batteries, we found a gentle elevation easily climbed and surrounded by an earth-work that in a later period of the war I have helped build in one night and not work very hard, either.  There was scattered around in different places but more especially to the east of the road to Manassas, a good number of good built log huts where the Johnnies had lived through the winter. Some were in good condition and were clean; others, when the evacuation took place, were left in a condition anything but possessing the latter virtue. Into the former we were told to make ourselves as comfortable as we could til our tents came up, or it ceased raining, for it was raining in torrents.  (pictured are the fortifications at Centreville.  The rebel huts can be seen in the background; Library of Congress).

     We stayed here two nights and one day; most of the time was spent in looking over the ground and searching for relics, [but] we found nothing of any value. On the banks of Bull Run Creek is a shrub called “High Laurel,” the root of which can be worked into any shape; we dug quite a quantity which we made into pipes, rings, and charms and sent them home to friends as relics, calling them “Bull Run wood.”   At one time they commanded almost fabulous prices.

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Charles E. Davis, Jr.  Continues:

Monday, March 31.
     About 4:30 P.M. we marched to Manassas, five miles, over a corduroy road, and went into camp. A more God-forsaken place than Manassas Junction was never seen. About everything, even to houses, were found to be in ruins.  On our way here, a batch of forty-five recruits met us, and a fine set of boys they were. (Warren Freeman writes that the new recruits arrived with Sergeant Jacob Howe who had been detached on recruiting service with Captain James A. Fox since January.)  They struck us just as the hard times were beginning, and at a time when the selfish propensities of some of the boys had been excited into activity, as negotiations were immediately begun for the exchange of old worn-out dippers, for the bright new ones just brought out from Boston.  Upon the untruthful representation that the old dippers were captured or found on the battlefield, the new recruits showed great eagerness to possess them.. The exchange was competed so quickly that warning came too late to be of service to some of the recruits. The transaction was so emphatically condemned by the regiment that most of the dippers were returned. 

Tuesday, April 1.
      “All-Fools’ day” was sunny and warm. Recruits were assigned to various companies, choice being allowed those who had friends with whom they wished to serve.  We spent the day, while waiting for the supply train to bring us shoes and rations, in looking over the earthworks thrown up by the enemy, and examining the ruined shops, houses, etc.

Supply Wagon sketchWednesday, April 2.
      Marched fourteen miles by the Orange & Alexandria Railroad track to Warrenton Junction.  The highway was terrible muddy, and the distance by it twice as long.  As the company wagons failed to reach us, we turned in supperless. In theory, marching on a railroad is much more fatiguing than on the highway.  It didn’t seem to be so in this case, as the men arrived in excellent order and condition.  Bivouacked in the woods.  From the manner in which the rails were torn up and twisted, it was evident our progress was to be delayed as much as possible. The shapes into which they were turned gave rise to the name “Jeff Davis’ cravats.”

Thursday, April 3.
No breakfast.  Surely this must be “Fast day.”  “Where, oh, where are the teams?”  We listened in vain for :

“That all-softening, overpowering knell, The tocsin of the soul – the dinner-bell.”

In the afternoon the teams arrived, bringing tents and food, and all were happy. 

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Westboro Transcript; Letter from Captain Hovey; The Death of Patrick Cleary

April 26, 1862


     Private Patrick Henry Cleary, of Co. K, recently died at Manassas Junction, where he had been left by the Regiment on its march through that place.  Through Mr. Nourse, of the Selectmen, Capt. Hovey has addressed the mother of the deceased on the subject, in an interesting letter, from which we are permitted to make extracts.  We would publish it entire but for want of space.  It is dated at Warrenton Junction, April 4th.  Capt. Hovey says:

     ‘Cleary was taken sick in camp near Centreville, on the night of the 28th, after a hard march of eighteen miles, but I was not notified of it during the night; for good men like Harriden and Cleary do not like to give up and put themselves on the sick list; in the morning he was placed in the hospital wagon, and conveyed as far as Manassas Junction:  he was very sick at Bull Run and I feared he would die there, but he got so much better that the surgeons thought he would recover.  I therefore did not write you for fear of causing alarm and anxiety at home; at Manassas he was quite sick again and we placed him in a house, where I left J. H. Fairbanks to nurse him, and in case God willed his death, to send the body home to Westboro.  Mr. F. did all that could be done, and went to Washington with the body and delivered it to the Adam’s Express Company.

     I seem to be very unfortunate in loosing such truly good men as Harriden and Cleary, but no human aid could have saved either of them under the circumstances.  The disease of which Patrick died has been peculiarly fatal and after it once fairly seizes on a man a cure is almost an impossibility.

     ‘Patrick Henry Cleary was one of my favorite men.  He was quiet, unpretending, and well-behaved; always prompt and always faithful.  I could always rely upon him, and I don’t know of a man in the company that is in all respects a better soldier than I could call Patrick.  He has fallen in his country’s cause and has as noble a record as if he fell in battle, he did all a man could do, - he did his duty, and I honor his memory for it.  I feel too badly to write all that can, all that ought to be said for the poor fellow, who has left his comrades in their onward march under the good old flag.  His loss will be felt by us all, and a vacant place in the ranks will be felt if not seen by his messmates.

     ‘Considering the exposure and fatigue we had endured since we left Williamsport about a month ago, it is something to be very thankful for that we have lost only three men in the whole Regiment; companies I, F, and K, having each lost a man.  Our Regiment is far more healthy than any of the Regiment in our brigade, or any other brigades we met with, - some Regiments having deaths nearly every day.  The cause of this difference between the 13th and other Regiments I ascribe to the cleanly habits of the men, and the common sense way they have of taking care of themselves.  It is the role of war to lose more men by disease than in battle, but it seems hard to lose men so.  I hope God will spare my company from death by disease, but we must all bow to His will.

     ‘The only men I have sick now, besides Smith in the Baltimore Hospital, are John Flye in Hospital at Manassas, and Warren E. Bruce, at Frederick.  The rest of the company are very well indeed and look finely.  We are enjoying warm weather and have but little to do but sleep and eat, with some light duties.

     "Cleary was a Southboro man, but I took the responsibility to send his body home under your arrangements with the Express Company, and I think I did right.  The town of S., of course desires the representatives of that town to be as well cared for as any others, and will remunerate you, no doubt.  I don’t want to have any of my men buried out here, for it don’t seem right.

     ‘Will you please see the mother of poor Cleary, and offer her my sincere sympathy; assure her that her son died a man’s death, a martyr in the cause in which we have all joined hands and hearts; that he was a noble fellow, and that I shall never see the company standing before me but I shall miss his honest face and feel my heart sadden at his loss.  If he was as good a son as he was a soldier her loss is great indeed.

Yours very respectfully,
Chas. H. Hovey.’

[The body was misdirected to Southville, from whence it was sent to Southbridge, thence to Boston, and finally to Southboro, a delay of four or five days in its arrival. – Ed.]

Note: Smith is Edwin Smith who was accidentally wounded by sentries in September, 1861.  He lingered in the hospital at Baltimore two years, before finally succumbing to his wounds.  (See Sandy Hook Page).

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Camp at Warrenton Junction; April 2nd - May 4th, 1862.

Friday, April 4.
     Put the camp in order, that is, as good order as could be got out of a swamp-hole.  We wondered who selected this spot for a camp.  Fresh meat was issued.  After we had removed every particle of meat from the bones, General Blenker’s corps, who were in camp near us, took the leavings, such as bones, entrails, etc., and had a regular Thanksgiving dinner on what our luxurious natures discarded as useless.  In the afternoon the Ninth New York band entertained us with music, and not to be outdone in courtesy, we sent our band to their camp.  We enjoyed their music and likewise the courtesy which prompted it.

Letter of Bill Cary; The Fearful Battleground of Bull Run

     William Howard Cary served in the 13th Mass with his two brothers, Captain Joe Cary of Company B, and Sam Cary of the same Company.  William, age 33, was a druggist before the war.  He was second lieutenant of Company D, Sam Webster's Comany.  William was the only one of the three brothers to stay with the regiment for its full 3 year enlistment term.  He mustered out in August 1864 with the rank of Captain, Company G.  In the following letter William describes for his sister the weary marches and the horrible scenes encountered at Manassas.  The Library of Congress photograph [enhanced in photoshop from a stereo-graph image] accompanying this letter shows piles of human remains on the Bull Run battlefield.  The date of the photo was not specific, but was probably taken around the time this letter was written, after the rebels had evacuated Centreville March 9, 1862.

                    Warrenton Junction Va
                        April 5th 1862

Dear Sisters

William Howard Cary        For the last month we have been upon the move making the longest tarry at Winchester, 5 days.  We are all well but pretty nearly tired out – We started for Centerville via Alexandria turn pike two weeks ago last night and had got as far as Aldie when we received news of the fight at Winchester and orders to return with all possible dispatch -  We were weary and foot sore and many men in the brigade were nearly barefoot – We marched back to the Shenandoah river and found the bridge partly gone which detained us nearly 24 hours – After the bridge was fixed we marched over and just as our whole train had got on the other side we were again ordered to right about face for Centreville – We marched to Snickers Gap  then to Goose Creek, then to Middleburg and return then to Centerville, then to Bull Run then to Manassas Junction and then to this place.  At Centerville we found the quarters the rebels had left ample to accommodate 50000 men and all along the wall from C. to Bull Run are log huts recently occupied by the rebel army – The aspect about B.R. is truly fearful – hundreds of dead horses are decaying on the ground and many of our brave men who fell there in July last have not been buried and no skeletons could be found complete – Their bones have been used for all sorts of purposes by the rebels.  Scarcely a hut was seen without some bone of human frame in it used as a peg to hang clothes or for some other purpose.  

Unburied Remains on the Bull Run Battlefield   The bodies that were buried were so near the surface that some portion could be seen – here a head – there a hand and in another place a foot.  The Fire Zouaves were not buried at all – their bodies were piled one upon the other and left to decay– 

  The air for miles about is unfit for crockodiles to breathe.  We just begin to see the disposition of these southern hell hounds who would up set our government – I think they should have a government by themselves and the devil for President.

Much love to all

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A Comment on General McClellan

Edwin Forbes sketch "Inspection"Sunday, April 6.
     Company D, with one company from each regiment in the brigade and a section of artillery, went out on  a reconnaissance to the Rappahannock River, and a rough time they had of it in the rain, hail, and snow, one or the other of which prevailed all the time, while the mud was indescribable.  They left camp at 11 P.M. 

     Inspection.  How we loved this duty !  Services by the chaplain, who preached to us about following the flag, it being an allegorical piece of word-painting, inspired by a few words he overheard a man in the New York Ninth say on the way up Snicker’s Mountain, as that regiment was ordered to “fall in.”

Correspondent/Artist Edwin Forbes made this sketch of the 'inspection' ritual.  From his memoir, "Thirty Years After."

The following communications was this day sent to General McClellan by Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War:

Your instructions to McDowell did not appear to contemplate the removal of his force until some time this week. The enemy were reported to be still in force at Gordonsville and Fredericksburg, and threatening Winchester and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The force under Banks and Wadsworth was deemed by experienced military men inadequate to protect Winchester and the railroad, and was much less than had been fixed by your corps commanders as necessary to secure Washington. It was thought best, therefore, to detach either McDowell or Sumner, and as part of Sumner’s corps was already with you, it was concluded to retain McDowell.

This order was commented on by General McClellan in a private letter, as follows: 

George McClellanNear Yorktown, April 6, 1862.

While listening this P.M. to the sound of the guns, I received an order detaching McDowell’s corps from my command. It is the most infamous thing that history has recorded.  I have made such representations as will probably induce a revocation of the order, or at least save Franklin to me.

(General George B. McClellan, pictured).

     It is interesting to know that he succeeded in saving Franklin’s corps.  At the time when this was written one might excuse such a statement in a man whose anger had run away with his judgement, but after the lapse of twenty years to repeat it, as he has done in “His Own Story,” seems incredible.  “The most infamous thing recorded in history !”  To a man of McClellan’s conceit it may be natural that he should consider the events of history as insignificant in comparison with his personal annoyances.

     The effect of this order, so far as we were concerned, was important, inasmuch as it completely changed the current of our service.

Davis's comment is correct.  This order completely changed the current of their service.  General McDowell was planning to form a junction of his corps with McClellan's forces; and thereby overwhelm the Confederates at Richmond.  Lincoln was worried General McClellan had failed to provide an adequate number of troops for the defense of Washington, and removed McDowell's corps for that purpose.  It was probably a mistake on Lincoln's part, but the memory of April 1861 when Washington was completely vulnerable to attack must have influenced Lincoln's decision.  In consequence the 13th Mass did not join the campaign for Richmond, but were instead diverted to the Shenandoah Valley.  The relations between President Lincoln and General McClellan were already strained at this point.

Monday, April 7.
     General Abercrombie made the following report of the reconnaissance in which Company D took part:

     A reconnoissance was made last night to the river where a picket guard and a few infantry were discovered, occupying what appears to be rifle-pits and two small redoubts of recent construction covering the fords.  Some of the slaves who have come in say the rebels appear to be retiring.

     We wished as much might be said of the mud.

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Letter of private Frank Davis, Company K, April 7th

     An Ohio collector of Civil War artifacts shared his extensive research and inventory with me in 2007.  The collection included quite a lot of 13th Mass items; letters, photographs and objects; since sold.  The following letter of Frank Davis, Company K, was one of the letter transcriptions included in the inventory.  Frank, a 30 year old shoemaker from Southboro, Mass., was one of the newly arrived recruits.  He mentions Camp Cameron in the letter, which was a training camp on the outskirts of Worcester, Mass., established for receiving and training new recruits.  After a few days in Camp "Swampy," observing the poor treatment of the common soldiers, Davis is missing home.  This is the only letter of Davis that I have. The roster shows he was mustered out September 30th, 1862. It is likely he was wounded at the battle of 2nd Bull Run, for which I have no reports.  He is not among those in Company K listed as wounded at the battle of Antietam. 

Apr 7th 1862
Camp Leonard Warrenton Vir

Dear Aunt,
Having time I thought I would write you another letter to let you know that I am well, and hope I shall be for if I get sick I dont know what will become of me they dont take any care of them here. I shall do my best to keep well we have to sleep on the ground with nothing but our blanket around us in our tents, but that is nothing with some things we have to put up with. we marched the next day after I wrote to you. we marched 16 miles from manassas to Warrenton where we are now, we have got to start again in a day or two. I dont know where we are going to. the rebels are within 10 or 12 miles of us across the Rappahanock river. we come from manassas on the railroad. the rebels tore the track up for 5 or 6 miles and piled the sleepers in piles the rails on top of them and set them on fire to bend the rails. they burnt 6 or 7 bridges large ones to but they have got it most fixed again. there has been about 30,000 soldiers here till yesterday. Blenkers division left then 22,000 McDowel is coming in to take their place. he has 50,000 under him you can look which way you will you can see nothing but soldiers. we are camped in the woods. we make sad havoc of the woods cutting it down to burn it raines hard as I am writing this. it has been pleasant wether since we came out here. it is warm to what it is in mass the water is poor and muddy it aint fit to drink, but we have to drink it, and wash in a mud puddle. there is 18 in the tent I am in. I havnt done anything since I came out only to drill 3 times for one hour it is a busy life only when we have to march. we dont have anything fit to eat it is worse than Camp Cameron in that nothing but hard bread and soap grease. we have had one mess of baked beans and 2 of boiled rice, hard bread soup last night. they dont take any notice of sunday at all. Lord knows I wish I was at home and I would stay there. thats so and I guess we shall be by July or Aug. I hope so. I want you to write to me as soon as you get this from me for I want to hear from the folks very much how does Grandfather get along I want to know for I feel concerned about him he was so sick when I left. I wish I was there to work for him instead of being here in this old hole. the 13th have not been paid off for 3 months. they expect to be every day. I shant get no pay till June or July but we soldiers cant help our selves. write to me what they think of the war in mass and when it will end. I give Althama that apple
From Frank Davis

direct your letter to Francis
Davis Co K 13th Regt mass Vol
Gen Banks div Washington D.C.

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More about McClellan

Tuesday, April 8
     We were obliged to resort to various devices to keep from lying in the water, as our camp was only suitable for amphibious animals.  It was a great place for malarial diseases, and was known as “Camp Misery.”  News was received of the taking of “Island No. 10.” Whereupon “the bands began to play.”

soldier's marching in the rain Sam Webster commented on Company D's reconnaissance:
 Co. D. returned from reconnaissance last night, having been to the Rappahannock river. Had a very rough time, the mud being deep, and rain, hail or snow falling continually.  Rappahannock station is miles off. They found that the rebels had burnt the bridge and were in force on the south side. The two pieces with them were put into position and the second shot caused the "limber" of one of the reb guns to take flight heavenward at which the rebels left in disgust. The boys were all tired and fagged out. The rain during last night quite flooded us, but by keeping the edges of the blankets up, the stream did little damage. We are building “corduroy” beds by cutting poles and laying them down to sleep on. [sketch by Alfred Waud].

     On this day General McClellan wrote as follows, according to “His Own Story” :

I have raised an awful row about McDowell’s corps.  The President very coolly telegraphed me yesterday that he thought I had better break the enemy’s lines at once!  I was much tempted to reply that he had better come at once and do it himself.

Westboro Transcript; Letter from George L. Crosby; April 8th 1862

Ruins at Manassas

This Library of Congress image shows the ruins at Manassas; March 1862.

April 26, 1862

Warrenton Junction, Va., April 8th, 1862

     Dear Journal: - During a few leisure moments (my mess being comparatively quite, one newspaper being read aloud and an argument going on between three or four relative to the next move which we are to make), I take the opportunity to indulge in a little scribble.  Since my last visit to your sanctum I have done ‘a right smart’ of soldiering, ‘so to speak,’ as our old friend Job Sass has it.  I rejoined the regiment at Winchester, and since that time we have been on the march a good share of the time, and have narrowly escaped seeing some fighting; fate, however, seems to have decided that the 13th Regiment shall not have a chance to win a great glory for itself on the battle-field.  On our marches we have passed through Centreville, Bull Run and Manassas.

     We stopped at Centreville long enough to get a hasty glimpse of most of the rebel works there, and having heard various opinions expressed in regard to the military ability displayed by the rebels at that place, we feel fully prepared to state that we coincide with the aforesaid opinions, and stand ready at anytime to state our reasons for so doing. We stopped at Bull Run two days, and had ample opportunity to explore the old battle-field and hunt up relics, several valuable ones were brought away, among which were several shells which had not exploded, grape-shot, bullets, cartridge boxes, &c.  Roots of the laurel shrub were dug up by the boys, and have since been converted into rings, pins, pipes, &c., and some good pieces of workmanship already command almost fabulous prices.

     We were much pained to see that so little respect had been paid to the remains of our gallant men who fell on that spot.  At one place, on  a bluff overlooking the creek called Bull Run, we saw the graves of several who fell which had been partially opened, and strewn around might be seen pieces of clothing – inside these clothes was the decaying flesh, the bones apparently having been removed by some sacrilegious hand.  Here was a stocking with a foot in it, the shoe lying near; the buttons had all been removed from the clothing, and are now probably treasured up as relics, but whether by friend or foe, or both, we know not.  This was to us one for the most sickening sights it was ever our lot to witness; and this desecration is one of the brutalizing effects of war.

     We next stopped at Manassas.  Here is the most perfect picture of destruction and desolation imaginable.  On every side may be seen the effects of the terrible scourge, War.   Hundreds of barrels of flour had been chopped open and the contents strewn over the ground; hard crackers, salt beef and other stores were destroyed in great quantities.  There were but a very few buildings that escaped the conflagration; hardware, crockery, groceries, and other stores could be identified by the ruins; cars and engines burnt on the tracks, and the old camp was strewn in every direction with tents, wagons, trunks, clothing, pack saddles, cartridge boxes, barrels and boxes, all in various stages of dilapidation, apparently having been left in a great hurry.

     Over the railroad track, among a lot of rubbish, we found a neatly-carved tombstone.  On the upper part, in bas relief, was carved a palmetto tree, a musket resting against the trunk, and lying on the ground at the base was a knapsack and equipments.  The inscription read, ‘George Blackmere, Co. E, Seventh South Carolina Reg., died at Fairfax Court House, Va., June 29th, 1861, aged 20 years.’  On the base of the stone was the words, “Reader, deface not this memento of a parents’ love and sorrow.’  Near by was a metallic coffin.  Here and there might be seen citizens of Washington and vicinity searching after relics, though most of them carried off but little that was worth the taking, I imagine.  I saw but one lady while there, and she appeared to be perfectly happy in the possession of an old cartridge box, which she daintily handled in her gloved fingers.  Her husband was trotting off to a distant part of the field in search of an old gun-barrel or broken bayonet, which somebody had told him were quite plenty in that direction.

     Won’t there be a great relic business done by some enterprising Yankee at some future day not far distant?

     Our march to this place from Manassas was on the Orange and Alexandria Rail road. We found the bridges all burnt, and for a distance of three or four miles near Warrenton Junction the track is torn up and rails so bent as to be useless at present.  I will write nothing in regard to the force here, for good reasons, the first and most important one being that I know nothing about it.

Yours truly,

Note:  (GLC is likely George Crosby the photographer).

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Camp Misery; Camp Starvation

sketch of wagons in bad weather

Wednesday  April 9

The weather had been so abominable that the wagons were delayed, and hence our rations were short.  Snowed hard in the afternoon, in spite of the fact that we were in “Ole Virginny.”  [sketch by Alfred Waud].

Thursday, April 10.
      Mud knee-deep. Drinking-water, which was obtained by sinking a barrel in the ground, was very bad.  This didn’t seem so extraordinary to us inasmuch as it was never good.  A mild and pleasant day.  As the sun warmed the air, the camp looked like a Turkish bath. The name of the camp was changed to-day from “Misery” to “Starvation.”

Friday, April 11,
     A number of the boys left behind at Hagerstown, sick, returned to camp to-day.  A nice place for a sick man.

barrel in mudSam Webster wrote in his diary for this day:
     Pleasant but muddy.  A number left behind sick at Hagerstown, rejoin us today. Slim chance for them to get better, owing to the water.  We are located in a woods, the right of the Regt on a slight raise, but the left in a flat. Get our water from a barrel sunk into the ground into which the water collects. It would be good, but one cannot help thinking that it is or may be affected by the many “sinks.”  I have found a fortune in the shape of a reservoir, about half a mile off, in the woods, caused by the removal of earth where a tree is uprooted.  It is just under the roots, and almost hidden by them. Am selfish enough to keep my discovery to myself. Camp is called “Carey” in honor of Capt. Joe Carey of Co. B. [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

     The following order was sent to General McDowell by the Secretary of War, dated April 11 :

Sir:  For the present, and until further orders from this Department, you will consider the national capital as especially under your protection, and make no movement throwing your force out of position for the discharge of this primary duty.

Letter of James Ramsey, Company E; Foraging Expedition

Warrenton Junction, Va.
April 11th 1862.

Lt. Joseph Colburn Dear Sister
I am as well as usual and enjoying myself in spite of the hardships of a soldiers life in our active campaign.   Yesterday morning 20 of our company under Lieut. Colburn went a foraging there was a detachment of the 1st Maine cavalry and 1st New England cavalry with us  we went about 5 miles and filled the wagons with corn  we got turkeys chickens hams and butter   we could have got eggs but we had no way to carry them.  On the way back we could not get across a stream that had swelled 4 ft since we had crossed so had to stay all night waiting for the water to fall  5 of us were sent out on picket  we had a good time  it was moonlight   we were with the cavalry picket, next morning we crossed the stream and got into camp at seven o’clock pretty tired  I was asleep when the mail came.  I saw our old school-mate   I think father knows him  his name is Carpenter in the N.E. cavalry.  I know John Shaw.  I used to go to school with him.  The 12th regiment is with us.  Lon Herley is well and seems to be enjoying himself, all the boys are well. You spoke of fast day  it was a fast day to most of us  nothing to eat.  I am sorry that mother worries about me  I am all right  my foot is entirely well  I marched a hundred and 28 miles since my foot has been well.  I am sorry Hugh has got burnt.  Give him my love and Kiss him for me.  When we marched from Manassas we passed the New Hampshire 5th.  I inquired for Rodney   he had gone ahead of the regt, he is in Company G.  I was sorry at not seeing him.  I do not know as I will have a chance to see his regt again. There is glorious news for a solder  I think the backbone of rebellion is broken and this war will soon end 

Give my love to all
From your Brother

P.S  Direct to Washington
I am glad Georgie is going to be baptized  I hope she is a sincere Christian.  I have written to mother   I hope she will get it. There is nothing I want.  I wish I could get the household Journal once a week if you feel like sending it.
Again good bye

Sunday, April 13.
     A thorough inspection of everything we owned was made to-day, though we were brought up to believe Sunday was a day of rest. This inspection business came painfully often, we thought. We seemed to have had a good deal of labor for the amount of fighting expected of us. The boys were getting listless. It must be that malaria was getting in its work. The idea prevailed that if we didn’t move camp pretty soon, the trump would sound for the last “grand inspection.”

An Incident in Company K

     In one of his many letters home, John B. Noyes of Company B writes to his sister; April 17th, 1862:
(MSAm 2332 (39) By Permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

     "There are many squirrels in these woods.  While on picket a week or so ago five or six were taken by our men. The men saw the squirrels in the trees and cut them down; if the squirrel tumbled he would perhaps be shocked for an instant when he would be pounced upon. Often the "small deer" would escape to a second tree which would share the fate of the first and so on.  For sometime after we came here trees were daily felled near the tents and even in the company streets.  Several tents were knocked down though no soldier was injured.  Four or five days ago a large squirrel was seen in a larger tree in Co. K's street.   One of the men commenced to cut the tree down. It was evident to the most careless observer that the tree would fall on two of the tents unless precautions were taken.  Nevertheless the chopper continued to chop, taking the responsibility upon hmself.  The tree fell crushing two tents. One of the tents was uninjured, but before the other could be extricated a large hole was burned and holes in 10 of the 23 triangular sides were made. The barrels of four guns were bent out of shape and the stocks of part of them broken. One inmate of the tent who was asleep was badly hurt. Probably "responsibiliy" will be somewhat out of pocket before long.  The injury  done to the man and the arms had the effect to stop the felling of trees within the limits of the camp, the Col. issuing an order to that effect."

Austin Stearns' sketchAustin Stearns remembers the incident like this:

     While at the lower camp in the woods some of the boys of the 1st mess commenced to cut a tree down that stood in the Company street, [and] by the way they commenced to chop I knew it would fall and strike the tent of the 4th mess.  I told them so and tried to have them cut more on the other side, but they knew more about it than I did, and offered to pay for all damage done; so well satisfied was I that it would strike the tent that I went and told the boys of their danger. All in the tent but one came out and, agreeing with me where the tree would fall, quickly removed all their traps; the other, beginning to realize that there might be danger, started or the door, pipe in his mouth, and just as he parted the flap of the tent, down came the tree, knocking him over and breaking his pipe that he valued at ten dollars.  If he had remained laying down, in all probability he would have been badly hurt if not killed, for the tree fell just where he was laying.  The tent was knocked down and torn in a few places, and afterwards served the 1st mess. While out on picket from this place one cold rainy morning, when I got up I found a snake coiled up with me in my blanket, rather an unpleasant bedfellow to have.  (sketch by Sgt. Austin Stearns).

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Letter of Warren H. Freeman, Manassas Junction, April 13th 1862

Manassas Junction sketched by Edwin ForbesWhen the regiment marched from Manassas Junction to Warrenton Junction on Wednesday, April 2nd, Company A remained behind at Manassas to guard the commissary stores.  Warren Freeman described the place: 

“This is the most deserted looking place that I ever saw; there is not a house standing, nor buildings of any kind.   There are numerous trenches and ditches all about; some were intended for rifle-pits, I suppose. There are hundreds of dead horses lying about, filling the air with an awful stench. There is a railroad here; that is all the keeps the place from sinking into utter insignificance.  In the brief time that we have been here thousands upon thousands of infantry have passed through the place.”

     He was anxious to get away and rejoin the regiment, unaware that the campground at Warrenton Junction was an unhealthy one. 

     While Warren was stationed here, special artist Edwin Forbes of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper showed up and made a sketch of the place, as mentioned in Warren's letter of April 27th, below.  The above illustration is the one referred to in the letter.  It's original caption is:   Manassas Junction After Its Evacuation By The Confederate Army – Abandoned Fortifications, Camps Wagons And Burned Railroad Depots.” 

Troop Movements & Events at Manassas Junction

MANASSAS JUNCTION, Va., April 13, 1862.

     DEAR FATHER, - There is no special news to communicate at this time. Large bodies of troops continue to pass this station. On some days whole brigades pass, then in a day or two return, then perhaps on the next day they will return again : this is something I do not understand, but suppose they are strategic movements. It makes quite lively times, and gives active employment to cake and pie venders.  Porter’s Battery returned through here day before yesterday, but I was out on guard duty and did not see them.  The Fifth Maine went by yesterday; they expected to go to Yorktown. I wish we were relieved and could get away from this disagreeable place. One of our boys that is off duty part of the time on account of poor health, has, by count and estimate, made out that there are in this vicinity about 1,500 dead horses and mules, unburied; in some cases they are piled up in large heaps, fifty or more in a pile.  Of human graves there are supposed to be more than 3,000; in some instances hands and feet of buried soldiers may be seen above the surface of the ground.

sketch of a dead horse      Yesterday there were a number of visitors to our camp; some came from Boston.  Colonel Wm. Raymond Lee, of The Massachusetts Twentieth, with his wife and daughter, were among the number. Colonel Lee is a fine looking gentleman. He was taken prisoner at Ball’s Bluff, and imprisoned at Richmond, you will recollect. I tell you it does one’s heart good to see such nice folks, and to be spoken kindly to by those who can appreciate our situations, surrounded as we are by the lower class of rebels. The poor whites of the South are a grade lower than anything we have at home, and are only fit for the miserable stations they fill here. Colonel Lee’s party offered, in the kindest manner, to deliver, personally, any letters the boys might wish to send home; I regretted I had none ready. They picked up quite a number of relics among our mess. One of the boys gave a rusty rebel bayonet, that we used in the mess for a candlestick, to a Mrs. Bigelow of Boston; she offered him a gold dollar and insisted upon his taking it.

     Last week we had a snow-storm; it lasted two or three days, rain and snow together; the snow was two or three inches deep. It was quite cold. I did not expect such a storm at this season and in this latitude; but it is dry and pleasant here now, however.

     The boys are quite engaged, in their leisure hours, in working up the root of the laurel (taken from the battle-field) into rings, crosses, hearts, pipes, etc. I inclose to you a ring.  We have nothing but the common pocket-knife to work with, but some of the articles are really quite neat.

     We caught a rebel spy in our camp last week, disguised as a newspaper vender. Papers were found in his boots that convicted him beyond doubt, and he was hanged up by the neck, with very little ceremony.

Malaria at Headquarters ?

Monday April 14.
      Had a brigade review before General Abercrombie, about four miles from camp. Our respect for him had descended to the point of calling him “Old Crummy."

Wednesday, April 16.
      An order was issued to-day that Sections 573 to 593 and 399 to 432 be read each day to the guard; then it went on to say: 

“Further, every sentinel will be required to keep his uniform and equipments in good order. Neatness and uniformity of appearance are among the first requisites of every true solder.”

          The malaria must have struck in at headquarters when that order was prompted, or else they were having mighty little to do. Drilling two hours in the mud, each afternoon, to be told afterwards that “neatness is the first requisite of every true soldier,” caused an immediate flow of adjectives.

Friday, April 18.
      Paymaster’s shekels put a halo on the camp, notwithstanding we were ordered by the doctor to put vinegar into the water before drinking it.  What was the matter with whiskey?  Soft bread was issued to us to-day: for the first time, it is said.

Letter of Edwin Rice, 13th Mass. Band; April 19th

Mary Bigelow Rice and Viola Rice      Pictured are Mary Bigelow Rice, Edwin's mother, and his older sister Viola Rice, to whom he addressed many of his letters home during the war.  The picture was taken 30 years after the war.  Viola Rice carefully preserved Edwin's  letters, which were then conveyed to younger sister Mary Alice, by Edwin late in his life.  Mary Alice Rice married George W. Perry in 1868.  Many years later George Perry started the Eagle Camp in South Hero, Vermont where Edwin and Viola Rice used to sit together "on the front stoop of Comfort Cottage conversing often by pencil notes."  The letters were handed down through the Perry family until Ted Perry had them published in a small booklet for family members in 1975.

     In the following letter Edwin describes the busy routine of the 13th Mass Band.  John Viles, a member of the band made many of the musical arrangements.

Warrenton Junction, Virginia
April 19th 1862

     Thinking you might like to hear from me and having nothing particular to do, thought I would write a few lines.  Suppose that by this time you have got to your old place at the Birds. Yesterday I received a letter from Mother, Henry, and Uncle George of March 30th and one from Mother of the 11th April.  We have been here a little more than two weeks since April 2nd and I don’t think we shall move until something has been done at Yorktown. There are some 4 or 5 brigades here, I should think.  It is rather hard telling how many, they are on the move so much.

     By Mother’s letter I see that she received my letter from Bull Run the eve before you left for Walpole.

     We left Bull Run Monday afternoon for Manassas where we stopped until the morning of April 2nd, when we left for this place. The country through which we have traveled since we left Winchester was very thinly settled. While at Bull Run I did not have time to visit the battlefield, which was some 3 or 4 miles from where we camped.  The road that we took from Centerville to Manassas was one built by the rebels after the battle and is more direct than by the pike. You have probably read accounts in the papers of the condition that Manassas was left in when the rebels left. Between Manassas and this place there were three large bridges which the rebels burned and along here they tore up the track for 4 or 5 miles.  Workmen have just finished a bridge over Cedar Creek about a mile from here, and are now busy in relaying the track. Cars run down here from Alexandria every day with quartermaster and commissary stores. The name of the station where the trains stop is Catletts.

     About the only paper we get here is the Philadelphia Inquirer.  It is better than any of the New York or Baltimore papers. It is a two cent paper about the size of the tribune and it costs us 10 here. 

     Yesterday it was very warm.  The thermometer was up to 88 degrees at the Hospital tent.  In the evening there was a thunder shower which made it somewhat cooler and today there has been a drizzling rain about all the time and it is a little cooler than it was yesterday.

Some 10 or 12 days ago I saw Henry M. Jewett who used to live n Marlboro. He is captain of a company in the 4th New Jersey Volunteers. He looked and appeared about as he used to when in Marlboro, and was looking very well.  Henry O. Brigham was near here on Wednesday paying off the brigade. I did not have a chance to see him.

     We have a regular routine of duty to do now. Have to play at 9 o’clock for guard mounting, have to play the guard into a line, then play while the officer of the guard is inspecting their guns and equipment, then go through a dress parade, and then pass a review.  The whole occupies about half an hour; after that we rehearse for an hour or so. At 2:30 p.m. we play the companies onto a line and as soon as that is formed play or march them off to a drill. They drill till 4 o’clock and during that time the Band stands near by and looks on.  Then we play them back to camp. At 5 we play for dress parade and about sunset play a few pieces in front of headquarters. Our pieces or tunes number 115 besides 15 or 20 short tunes that are not numbered. The best piece we have got is the Lament to Colonel Ellsworth.  It is a slow piece. [John] Viles arranges a good many pieces for us.

     I don’t expect to get home until the war is over and don’t want to either. My health was never better.  I weighed in a few days ago at 165 lbs. We were paid off yesterday.

                                                             Edwin Rice

P.S. Direct to 13th Regiment Band Massachusetts Volunteers, General Abercrombies’ Brigade, Washington D.C.

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Letter of Warren H. Freeman, April 20th.

     In this letter Warren mentions his tent-mate's pet squirrel.  John Noyes wrote of the many squirrels that populated this particular woods. (see 'an incident in Co. K" above). Waren joined the 13th Mass in December, 1861.  This was probably his first pay check and he complains how most of it went back to the government to cover the cost of his uniform.  Privates were paid about $12.50/month  The ailing Walter Judson is reported to have died by Warren, but the roster states he was dismissed from the service November, 1862.


     We left Manassas last Wednesday the 16th, and came by rail within one mile of the encampment of our regiment at this place. The road is the poorest I ever saw; the grades are heavy and the cars do not make a high rate of speed.  There are several engines here from the Worcester, Providence, and Fitchburg railroads; some of them look quite natural.

     We have quite a pleasant camp ground; the water is near by, but it is said to be unwholesome. There are seven or eight different camps in view, embracing 7,000 or 8,000 men.  The bands are playing and drums beating most all the time, and everything has a very lively air. We have a morning drill, and in the afternoon we have battalion drill and dress parade.

     Last week a force of about 3,000 men were sent over to the Rappahannock on a reconnoissance. They fell in with the rebel pickets and drove them in, but soon encountered a rebel army strongly fortified, who opened on our men with heavy guns;  our army not being prepared for such a reception retired in good order. No lives were lost on our side.

     Please tell Georgy that one of our boys has got a tame gray squirrel ; he is a very pretty little fellow and as lively as a cricket ; he is perfectly tame, though he has had him but two weeks; he is now sitting by my side nibbling a piece of hard bread. I am going to try to catch one. I don’t like to be without a pet of some kind.

     We were paid of yesterday; but “Uncle Sam” took all my wages but twenty dollars to pay for my uniform. I will inclose half of that in this letter, which you will please take care of.

     Walter H. Judson is dead; he had been ill for some time past. There were four deaths from natural causes in the month of March; there are about forty on the sick list.



Discharge of Physically Disqualified Men

Sunday April 21.
     Instructions received about drawing and issuing whiskey in cases of excessive fatigue and exposure. Very few of us that didn’t think we had both these complaints. It took a good deal of exposure and a large amount of fatigue before the rank and file warmed the cockles of their hearts by virtue of that order.

Wednesday, April 23.
     The rain which we were having almost every day added no improvement to our camp in the “Dismal Swamp,” as some of the boys called it.

     An inspection was made to-day of the men who were thought to be unfit for the hard duty we were expecting shortly to undertake, with a view of their discharge.

     Orders were issued to commanders of regiments and by them to captains of companies to forward a list of men who were deemed physically disqualified to encounter the hardships and deprivations soon to follow, that they might be discharged. There were men in the regiment whose patriotism was so sincere and so earnest that when selected to be sent home, they considered it a great hardship, and were very severe in their strictures on their officers. Their willingness to do duty was unquestioned, and in a few instances it became a delicate and an almost painful duty to make the selection, but the order was imperative. The army was not to be encumbered with sick men if it was possible to prevent it, and the time had arrived when the physical abilities of each man were known.  We mention this in justice to the officers, some of whom were very severely criticized for their action in this matter. The hardships and privations which followed their departure, though light in comparison to those of 1863-4, were very severe, because they were new to us.  It would have taken but a few weeks to convince the men selected for discharge of the soundness of the order.

Thursday, April 24.
     From Sam Webster's diary:  Draw rubber blanket.  Dryed tent yesterday.  Have been “playing sharp” on the brigade commissary of subsistence lately.  Officers can buy extra rations of the commissary at reasonable rates, but we an’t expect an officer to certify to what he orders for us, as for his “own use.”  He is not well acquainted with our officers or their names, so Spalding writes an order and signs it Corpl. G. B. Spaulding, crossing the l in Corpl as if it were a t, but still making it an l.  By this means we have gotten along admirabley. To help the cause the clerk gave us in change, a note not of the best, which was made an excuse for getting more supplies and making him take it back.  The dodge won’t work when we’re better known, and whisky can’t be got on it now – as whisky orders are to be submitted to the Brigadier. [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

Letter of Warren H. Freeman, April 27th

Nehemia Mayo Dyer      Warren's brother Eugene served as an engineer in the transport service aboard the steamship 'Uncle Sam.'  In this letter Warren mentions a friend of Eugene's who left Company A of the 13th Mass Infantry to join the Navy as a Master's Mate.  'Dyer' is Nehemia [Noah] Mayo Dyer, pictured.  N. M. Dyer made a career of the Navy.  In 1899 he attended the annual 13th Regiment re-union dinner in Boston.  It was written of him "Among those present will be found the name of our old comrade, N. M. Dyer, now a captain in the United States Navy, who was in command of the steamship "Baltimore," under Admiral Dewey at Manila.  It was a great pleasure to us all to meet him and to listen to his words and to learn how useful, during the many years of his service in the navy, had ben the instructions he received in the Thirteenth from Colonel Leonard, whose intelligence and thoroughness as a drill-master was unsurpassed and won the admiration of all who witnessed an exhibition of his skill.

Warren's mention of the pocket-knife is interesting.  I remembered  myself, that it was an important thing to have growing up in Connecticut in the late 1960's.  It was true what Warren wrote his father; "a Yankee without a knife is but half a Yankee."  I wonder if it is still true today?

MANASSAS JUNTION, Va., April 27, 1862.

     Dear Father, - I received your letter of the 20th instant to-day; also a letter from Eugene, and a letter and paper from Uncle Washington.  I am glad to hear that you are all well, and will again repeat my thanks to all those who hold me in remembrance, manifested by these letters, and in other ways.  It does go far, I can assure you, in lessening the toils of this varied life of the soldier. I have no news to write, all being quiet here ; the main body of our army, more directly under the command of General Banks, are several miles in advance of Warrenton.  Our boys dislike our Brigadier-general very much, and as the Twelfth and Sixteenth Indiana regiments are twelve months’ men, and their time is out on the first of May, when they go home we are in hopes of being transferred to some other brigade, and thereby coming under another general – one that is not quite so much disposed to shun danger as our present commander.

     Dyer (Eugene’s friend) has got a master’s mate’s berth in the navy ; his discharge from the army has been received, so we shall lose him from our mess. Dyer had been at sea more than six years before entering the army one year since.  I shall send my heavy winter blanket by him to Alexandria, where he will put it in Adams’s Express, for Boston. I have bought a lighter one for $2.75, more suitable for the coming season; and it will be less cumbersome while on the march, a  very important consideration as we advance to the South.

     The pocket-knife in Eugene’s letter came safe; it is a nice one. Since I lost my old one I have been put to much inconvenience, for a Yankee without a knife is but half a Yankee; so it seemed to me.

     Our chaplain has been to Cincinnati on business and has just returned; so after dress parade this afternoon we had religious services.

     While we were at Manassas one of Frank Leslie’s artists was in our camp four or five days and took several sketches – one of the old fort where we were stationed. I was standing, with two or three others, on the parapet, to the right of where the artist is seated. It is quite a good picture of the place ; you will find it in the paper of the 12th instant. 

     It has got to be quite dark, and as it is not time to light the mess candle, I will lay by my paper for the present.

Friday, April 28.
     Chaplain returned yesterday from Boston, bringing letters.

     Nineteen guns were fired in honor of the capture of New Orleans.  The boys grumbled because the brigade was not sent back to General Banks. The report was that such a promise was made some weeks previous.

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General Hartsuff replaces General Abercrombie

Tuesday, May 1.
     The following order was this day sent to Gen. Banks:

War Department, May 1, 1861.


General Abercrombie has been relieved, and General Hartsuff assigned to his command, with orders to report to General McDowell temporarily, and it is necessary for that force to operate in McDowell’s department.

Secretary of War.

     We were glad when the news reached us that “old Crummy” was going. If the new brigadier would only change our camp to a more salubrious spot, he would receive our lasting gratitude, was the thought that dwelt uppermost in our minds.

Sam Webster wrote for May 1st:  Still in Camp Carey better known as “starvation” “misery” etc., though we get plenty of hard tack. Rain, mud, and discomfort have been the rule of late.  Having a heavy rain just now, with Co. D. on piquet.  Just their luck.  Sutlers in crowds at Catletts, a mile or so back of us. They charge high prices, and sometimes get “cleaned out.”  Get a new Brigade Commander today – named Geo. L. Hartsuff; a large, heavy-bodied  man, and it is to be “hoped more energetic than old Crummy.”  [Diary of Samuel D. Webster, ( M48531) Huntington Library, San Marino, CA]     

Letter of Edwin Rice, May 1st

Warrenton Junction, Virginia
May 1st 1862

     I received yours of the 24th on Sunday. There has not much been done in our brigade since I wrote you though the officers say that we shall join Banks or McDowells division soon. They say also that the brigade is to be broken up.  I should like to have the regiment move somewhere as we have stopped here long enough for the health of the men.

     I received a letter from Henry on Sunday. It was written on Tuesday, April 22nd. He wrote that he had been within three fourths of a mile of the rebels, and had shells thrown at them while at work. They all passed over their heads.

     From what the correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer said, I should think that the land there was not very good for military operations. In letter of his dated April 28th he said that “out of the last 9 days the sun has not shone only one or two of them”.

     Today for the first time since we left Winchester nearly six weeks ago, we are going to have some fresh beef for dinner.  We have lived, since we have been in this place, on hard bread, salt beef, beans and rice. We had 5 days rations of flour, 160 lbs., which was made into bread and was so sour that if we had not been without soft bread so long, should have thrown it away; but as it was we eat it with a good relish.

     The weather has not been pleasant since Monday, though it has not rained but a little. It is cool and disagreeable in the evenings. I heard this afternoon that our regiment had been put into another brigade, and that we are to join McDowell’s division next week.  Perhaps it is a camp story.

     A mail came in this afternoon but brought no letter or papers for me.  I sent some money home nearly two weeks ago by express as did a number of the Band but have not heard from any of it yet. Some had letters tonight that were written on Sunday last, but did not say anything about the money.

     Friday Morning
     Our new brigadier general has just come into the camp and is a smart looking man, very large. He belongs in western Virginia.  There is some signs of our having pleasant weather by night.  Last night it rained quite hard.

     The railroad is not finished up to this place, and peddlers are beginning to be quite thick about the different camps.  It costs a small fortune to buy anything of any value.

     Our general’s name is Hartsuff – that is the way it is pronounced – don’t even know how to spell it. If you know, you can direct letters to me in his brigade. If not, direct as before. The clouds are breaking away and the sun is beginning to show himself. It is hard work for me to find enough to write about.  I do not think you will have so many letters from me now as you did last winter.

     The 12th and 16th infantry regiments which are in our brigade are expecting to go home in the course of a week.  They enlisted for a year and their time is out on  the 10th of May. I don’t think they will get home as soon as they expect to.

     For the want of something more to write about, I shall now close.

       Yours &c
               Edwin Rice

Friday May 2.
     Hangman’s day.  The following communication was sent to the Secretary of War:

Warrenton Junction, May 2, 1862.

Reconnoissances to Warrenton, nine miles, show no enemy in front, and none reported nearer than Culpepper Court House. Prevailing rumor that Jackson went to Gordonsville, thence to Yorktown, I do not believe it.  Will keep myself well posted and report.  Present effective strength of brigade, five regiments, two of cavalry, and three batteries – 5,458 men. Comfortable in respect to supplies, but a great deal of sickness. Four hundred and eighty-six present sick  Two hundred and eighteen absent, sick, in various places. Two Indiana regiments to be mustered out on the ninth. Fifteen hundred and thirty-two effective men. One hundred and seventy-five sick. Two of the batteries require recruits – one thirty-seven, the other twenty-nine. Much crippled.  Could be filled from Indiana regiments about leaving service.  Asked permission of General Thomas yesterday, and stated how it could be done.  No reply. Please spur him up. Situation of camp unhealthy. Request permission to change it to Warrenton or some better place in front. Will send to General McDowell concerning it.  Country in immediate vicinity stripped and desolate. Task of correcting impression left by Blenker’s command very hard, but is being performed.



General George Lucas Hartsuff     There was a vigor as well as thoughtfulness about this communication that suggested the possibility of our being moved out of the “Slough of Despond” in which we were living.

     We had a visit from General Hartsuff to-day. We were glad to learn he was making efforts to change our camp, though he should have been careful about thrusting too much happiness on us at once.  It was a sad sight to see some of the boys, emaciated with sickness and more fit to be abed, walking about camp braced up with a sickly smile of thanks at the idea of moving from this hot-bed for pensioners.

     In appearance, General Hartsuff was a tall, well-proportioned man of commanding presence, his face giving evidence that he would require prompt and respectful obedience, a virtue we had allowed to become choked with the weeds of disrespect.  He was the very opposite of General Abercrombie in age, physical appearance, and temper. 

Letter of Warren H. Freeman, Company A, May 4th

CATLETT'S STATION (near Warrenton Junction), May 4, 1862.

     Our company left the old camp ground at Warrenton, which is about a mile and a half from here, on Friday forenoon, May 2d, and came down here to guard commissary stores. There are but one or two houses and one store-house.  All we have to do is to guard the stores. The duty is rather light, and we have the first chance at those travelling sutlers that are about every camp, and who vend pies and cakes for a living.

Catlett's StationWe have pitched our tents in an apple orchard, about three hundred yards from the station. There is a very pretty brook running in front of our tents, and a spring of pure water near by, so there can be no pretext for uncleanness now. The apple-trees are in full blossom; beneath the shade of one of them I am now writing. Owing to some delay the wagons did not bring up our tents in season, and we did not commence pitching them till afternoon, and we were then hurried in our movements considerably by the appearance of a large black cloud in the South. We have barely got our tent pitched, and before we had a chance to trench it, there commenced a violent thunder-shower.  I never saw it rain harder than it did for fifteen minutes; I certainly thought we should be all drowned out. After the shower we started off and obtained some boards for a floor, and some hay to lie upon; then, with the addition of a good fire, we made ourselves comfortable.

     I have no news whatever; everything is quiet; they all seem to be waiting to hear from Yorktown. I hope our army will take it soon. Some of our boys have got a notion that we shall all go home soon; but I don’t think the war will end without more hard fought battles. The Indiana regiments are about leaving for home – the Twelfth and Sixteenth.  I have not heard whether they have been requested to stay longer.

     The soldier is allowed $40 a year for clothing.  The Government furnishes the articles at the following prices, namely, overcoats, $7.20; dress-coats, nearly $7; blouse, $2.15; pants, 3.03; drawers, 50 cents; shoes, $1.95.  Payment for these things is deducted from the first six months’ wages, and then all made right at the end of the year.

     You can send me a Boston paper occasionally, if you please; it seems good to get a paper from home, though the news is anticipated by the Baltimore papers, which come to camp quite regularly.

     I must draw to a close; I am so sleepy. I was on guard duty last night; so farewell.

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"Out of the Swamp;"  General Hartsuff Moves the Camp to Catlett's Station

Monday, May 5.
     Moved camp to a hill about two miles back, and nearer Washington. The camp was beautifully situated and excited a feeling of joy among the boys. It was pleasant to once again see cheerful faces.

     We bade good-by to the Twelfth and Sixteenth Indian regiments which started for home, their terms of enlistment (one year) having expired. They were looked upon with envy by some of us.

Kirk Madden, Boston Beaneates, 1887-90Black Jack Burdock

Tuesday, May 6
     The passion for decorating camp broke out again; streets were ornamented with boughs and trees, making an effective picture.

     In the afternoons, after battalion drill, the game of base-ball daily occupied the attention of the boys. On one of these occasions, General Hartsuff riding by, got off his horse and requested permission to catch behind the bat, informing us there was nothing he enjoyed so much. He gave it up after a few minutes and rode away, having made a very pleasant impression, without in the least sacrificing his dignity or suggesting the lessening of his discipline the cords of which we already noticed were tightening. It was pretty certain he was testing us one way or another. We were subsequently informed that when General Hartsuff took command of the brigade he made inquiries about the qualifications of the regiments  composing  it, all of whom were spoken of in words of praise except the Thirteenth, the members of which being characterized as “a d—d insubordinate lot.”  As General Hartsuff had some practical notions about estimating soldiers, he reserved his judgment until such time as he could satisfy himself by his own observation.

General Hartsuff and the Baked Beans

     The morning after our camp-ground was changed, at an early hour, before officers or men were supposed to be up, except, of course, the guard, he walked into our camp to see what its condition might be. General Hartsuff was an exacting officer in this respect, as all West Point officers were. The cleanliness of our camp was the one thing of all others in which the regiment took a special pride, and this occasion was no exception, and its appearance wiped out all the severe, though not untruthful words of General Abercrombie.

     Among the rations issued to the army were beans.  For a long time it was the custom of company cooks to stew them in large kettles. This method of cooking them was not very satisfactory, but was pursued until some one hit on the plan of baking them in the ground, which was done by digging a hole large enough to receive the biggest camp-kettle.  When this was done, a fire was built in the hole and kept going all day. The beans, having been parboiled and properly seasoned, were placed in the kettle with a liberal allowance of pork, and sunk into the hole, resting on the embers, where it remained until morning.  On the top of the kettle, after it had first been covered by a mess-pan, flat stones were placed and a fire built on them.  In the morning the stones were removed and the kettle lifted out for the distribution of its contents. With proper attention to details, the result was sure to be an unqualifiGeneral Hartsuff, standing portraited success.

     While walking about the camp General Hartsuff came suddenly upon the cook of one of the companies, who was at that moment too busily engaged in removing the stones and snuffing the aroma from a kettle of beans to notice or care who the intruder was, supposing, of course, it must be some comrade from a neighboring tent.

     “Good morning,” said the general.

     “Good morning,” growled the cook.

     “What have you there?”  said the general.

     “Beans, you d—d fool, what do you s’pose?”

     “I’m fond of beans” remarked the general, “and wouldn’t mind if I had some, they look so nice,” he continued.

     Without looking round, the cook replied, “Go to H—l!  S’pose we feed every d—n bummer round camp?”

     This was too much for the general, who returned to his tent without being identified, and lying down on his bed, indulged in unrestrained laughter, until his quartermaster (who was our quartermaster detailed for duty on his staff) inquired the cause of his mirth.  After hearing the story, the quartermaster rode over to camp to learn who was the hero of this adventure, and, if possible, have a little fun at the man’s expense. He soon discovered that it was the cook of Company I, whom he accosted and explained the circumstance of the morning. The cook was terribly agitated when it was related to him that General Hartsuff was the man with whom he was talking in the morning, and that he was grievously offended, and meant to make an example of this piece of insubordination. After playing on his feelings for some time, the quartermaster suggested that perhaps the temper of the general might be soothed if a dish of these same beans was sent to him.  It is hardly necessary to add that the general was not only liberally provided that morning, but each subsequent morning when beans were cooked for the company.  

     Note: Charles Roundy of Company F, identifies the cook in this story as George "Greasy Cook" Atkinson of Company F.  Both militia companies, I & F, came from Marlboro, Mass.

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Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B, May 2nd 1862

     John Noyes' letter is so long that I have refrained from using the 'letter' format so as to be able to add illustrations.  The sketch of the picket is by Edwin Forbes, the sketch of the Sutler's tent is by Arthur Lumley.  If you look closely at the illustration, which depicts officers in the sutler's tent, you can see the hordes of enlisted men vying for goods in the background.  The contrast has been adjusted on both of these Library of Congress images.

MSAm 2332 (45).  By Permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Warrenton Junction Va May 2d 1862

 Dear Martha
   Your note of the 25/28 ult. came to hand last night at about supper time while I was on guard.  Yesterday was rainy, and in the evening the edwin forbes sketch of a union picket in the snowguards were on their beats four hours at a time instead of two to avoid the vexation of a double wetting at night.  I was on from 1 o’clock A.m. to 5 A.m., and now as the drum corps is about to beat reveille am writing you.  It does not rain now, and rained but little while I was on guard, although the prospect of a pleasant day is not encouraging.  Still it is impossible to say whether the weather will be pleasant or not in this damp and unhealthy spot.  The night may be bright and the sky glistening with stars, yet the sun will rise in clouds followed by rain. Everything is changeable.  A beautiful day, then a stormy one & plenty of mud. The sun shines forth and dries the mud for a day when the inevitable rain undoes the good work and renders the mud road well nigh impassable.  All quiet along the lines of our camp. Nothing new I believe since Capt Mathews and Lieut. Brockway of Mathews Battery, the battery which has been with our Reg’t. now these six months and to which it has become greatly attached, which helped to take Martinsburgh and Winchester, and was with us at Newtown, were probably captured by what Mother calls the “crafty rebels”.  The 12th & 16th Indiana Regt’s are to leave for Washington soon, there to be discharged.  They were raised for one year.  Col Hackerman has been appointed a Brig. Gen’l, and may possibly take command of our Brigade after the two regiments are discharged, as it is reported that Gen’l. Abercrombie is to be transferred to McClellan’s immediate command, or to be put upon the retired list.  Where we are to go when the Indiana Regt’s leave us is uncertain. Some think we shall stay here longer, others that we shall go to Yorktown or Washington.  If I go to Yorktown you will probably want to hear oftener from me than you do now.  But you needn’t trouble yourself about Yorktown till we get there, for Banks may not be inclined to let us off so easy from his command.

          The great events of the week has been the advent of the sutler, and the monthly inspection. A great deal of idle talk has been had in the papers, and in the halls of Congress upon the sutler question.  Sutlers ought to be done away with, they say. The enormous profits should be cut down, and so on to the end of the chapter.  In an article on “Camp life at the Relay House’ in Harper’s for April, well worth reading by you and mother for its laboriously detailed and minute description of the daily routine of camp life, no doubt accurate also, although we now have system where there was experimentation, and to us ridiculous irregularity in several matters, it is said that soldiers should be allowed to commute their rations, and feed themselves at their well.  Such talk has been common in our Regt.  But in every case the soldier would miss by the change, for if the Government carried the supplies which the soldiers were to buy then each soldier would have but about a shilling a day to live on. Government would have to employ new agents, who would be idle four fifths of the time.  Every man might have to wait two hours before his time came to buy his sugar, salt, vinegar meat, etc. to last him three or five days.   He marches after drawing his rations, and starves the next three or five days.  You can see what trouble such a state of things would produce in camp, without further illustration.  Why a wagon load of paper would be needed to put the salt, meat, potatoes, coffee etc. in for a thousand men. Yet I do not mean that a judicious commutation of rations might not be devised, but such a system would be little improvement on the present.  People seem to think that if their rations were commuted they would get their 30 or 40 cents daily, that the cost of transportation is to go for nothing.  This talk about commutation of rations, and about sutlers has arisen from the fact that a large part of the great Northern Army has encamped for along period near cities and towns where soldiers could buy what they pleased. But such a style of war is wisely not looked for at the War Department. Even here at Warrenton Junction, forty miles from Washington scarcely anything can be bought. Lately the fortunate few have bought a pie or so, or a few cakes.  Sugar or molasses could’nt be bought for love or money, much less bread & meat. In Maryland the sutler made money; unless a very unenterprising man his profit a month must have exceeded McClellan’s monthly salary. Now however such profits cannot be made, and the sutler has but a small stock on hand.  Eatables last but for an hour, and on such “varietyies” the sutlers profits are mostly made.  Transportation is so difficult that but a small stock can be brought into camp by the sutler at a time.

        On Wednesday the 30th ult, the sutler came into camp after an absence of six weeks.  He was not idle all this time. The establishment was doubtless making money during most of the time at Winchester and Manassas, though we were without him. If he had thought he could have made money by coming here he would have done so. At last the sutler came on the night of the 29th. His stock was opened at roll call on the 30th.  Soon the crowed became dense and continued so the whole day.  Unless some fraud had been practiced, the sutler would have had nothing to sell but tobacco and a few fancy articles. 

Saturday Afternoon May 3d.
       Saturday afternoons as at school, are holiday afternoons.  There are no drills, nothing but dress parade, so I will continue this note.  Not that some sutlers here do not have considerable stock, e.g. the 1st Me. Cavalry, who surpassed every one in having something to sell.  Thus yesterday he had nuts, pies butter, cheese, & molasses, not to speak of oranges and lemons, when our sutler had neither.  But our sutler is  a one  wagon, one horse sutler, who thinks sutlering subordinate to money making. That is to say if he can make more money out of camp, why out of camp he keeps. This time he brought quite a stock by means of artifice. His barrels, boxes, trunks, etc. were directed to Col. Leonard, and marked Hospital Stores, or officer’s mess. They were of course brought in the cars and probably  free of freight, when articles directed to the sutler himself would not be placed aboard. 

Illustration of a sutler's tent by Arthur Lumley        Many scenes occurred at the sutlers’s stand.  You would have laughed at the fun.  The cheese and chocolate were first opened, and cake of the eatables.  Before breakfast at 6 or 7 O’clock all his stock of cheese & chocolate, 200 lbs of the former and 100 lbs of the latter, besides two or three dozen of cocoa paste had been sold.  Every one called out at the sutlers at the same moment “Chase’, ‘Chase,” “Chase;” “Robinson”, “Robinson,” ‘Brown” “Brown;” “Ned” “Ned” ( not Jones) chimed in a hundred mouths, some weary with calling.  The knowing ones handed out their silver or gold ( but not their five dollar bills ) before buying, to be first served.  For in the multitude of calls, and paying for purchases, the unsuspecting, perhaps not unwilling sutler took the money before its equivalent was ready for delivery. The sutler however with the pay in hand would quickly furnish what was wanted Yet even this dodge would not always succeed, and I amused myself for nearly five minutes observing the almost frantic energy with which perhaps the gourmand of our company persisted in urging his suit for 10 cakes, and half a pound of cheese “Chase”, “Chase”  “Mr. Chase” came from his mouth. His protuberant eyes stuck out further and further and his long, bony hand held out a silver quarter.  For five minutes as I said he swayed to and fro on his “canal boats” were called by the company) on tiptoe.  “Take the money, Chase, Chase, Chase, take the money”  At last chase took it, and afterwards came cakes and cheese.  This is one out of a hundred cases, although all were not noted “epicacs” and proprietors of canal boats.  A motley crowd had no cheese.  Oh, the elongated faces as the last cheese grew small by degrees and beautifully less!  How the shouts from all sides redoubled in violence, of those who saw the prize passing out of their reach. Sardines went the way of all the earth, and dandelion coffee lasted but little longer than the chocolate.  The cakes lasted till evening roll call, as there were six or eight barrels of them, large & small, five centers & one cent-ers, besides a box of cakes in large sheets. Nothing left the next morning that was edible.  Camp had to come down to salt horse and army pies.

        Afterall a sutler is a very convenient camp appendage, if he understands his “biz.”  Without him we should be without a great many conveniences, necessities & luxuries. Many are the little wants of a thousand men, away from markets, who are constantly thrown upon their resources.  The government commissary might perhaps furnish sugar & molasses to the soldiers, as to the officers, but he could hardly be required to retail suspenders, knives, chocolate, and the hundred articles indisposable to the carrying on a poor sutler business.

        But enough of the Sutler, of whom much can be said both favorably and unfavorably, and with out whom no regiment wishes long to be that is situated as we are in an exhausted and thinly settled district.

        It remains for me to speak of the monthly inspection, or rather bi-monthly, as it is of the latter I wish to speak.  The morning is devoted to scouring brasses, cleaning guns, polishing shoes, packing knapsacks, etc.  The call for inspection is sounded, and the various companies, in heavy marching order, are formed and marched on to the parade ground where a regimental line is formed. The companies then wheel into column, and march in review, or are immediately inspected, the review being omitted.  After the inspection the pay roll of the company is called, to which each of the men present respond, and the captain answers for those absent sick, detailed, or detached.  The payroll is then ready to be sent to Washington, from which place it is returned to the Col. before the paymaster arrives to pay us off.

        It is now Sunday Eveg (the 4th) so many times have I been interrupted while writing this letter. Capt. Mathews and Lieut Brockway have got back safely, having been to Fredericksburgh. Mr. Stimpson came into camp Friday night. I saw him Saturday, but had no letter to send home by him. He will tell you that I was well, & perhaps may describe our camp and camp life. Day before yesterday afternoon we had a terrific thunder storm.  It came up just before we had returned from battalion drill.  Some officers tents were blown down, and many tents flooded, the rain  (from defects in the tent-gutters) pouring over the floors of the tents.  In the open ground at brigade headquarters one wall tent was raised up and blown over another one !  The Adg’t Gen’ls  tent was blown over and many of his papers blown away.  A stable with twenty horses in it was blown over, the horses uninjured.  Wagons were upset, even our heavily loaded wagon.  A wagon of the sutler of Penn. Reserves was tipped over into a swollen creek and half its contents upset which were appropriated by soldiers. Large trees were torn up by the roots. In many tents the men were obliged to hold on to the tent poles to prevent them being blown over.  Our door was open when the storm commenced. It took four of us, of whom I was one to hold the flaps down, so fierce was the blast.  To tie the flaps together was impossible. The storm soon spent itself, & in the eve’g the stars shone bright.

        We have a new Brigadier General, Gen’l Hartsuff.  We had a visit from him day before yesterday, when he inspected the cook houses, our quarters, the hospital, and tasted the bread  at the regimental bakery. He is a very portly looking officer, weighing perhaps two hundred and fifty pounds.

        My love to cousin Emma, if she is still in Cambridge. Write soon an account of her visit. Father’s papers come now pretty regularly.

Love to all
            Yours Affectionaely,
                        John B. Noyes.

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Hartsuff Tightens Discipline

Wednesday May 7.
     An order was sent to General McDowell by the Secretary of War “to get his force well in hand for movement, and push on his bridges to as rapid completion as possible. It is not yet perfectly clear what the movement of the force lately in Yorktown will be.”

Thursday, May 8.
     We saw General Hartsuff riding into camp every day, watching our drills and observing us generally. Every man was made to come to his feet and salute as he passed, and woe betide the man who forgot that duty. Already the officers, it was said, had been told that “obedience is the first duty of a solder.”  Some of the boys still growled at the tautness of the discipline, but as a rule they cordially acquiesced. It was beginning to dawn upon us that he was a man of sense as well as strictness. We were beginning to like him, though no great love had yet been expressed.

Friday May 9.
      The colonel exercised his skill in drilling us every afternoon, and we found it tough work.

The band of the Twelfth Massachusetts left for home to-day. We hoped the day was far distant when we should lose ours.  These evidences of curtailment suggested that some work was being cut out for us.

      The following order from General Hartsuff was read at dress parade:

CAMP STANTON, May 9, 1862.
In passing through the camps of his command, the general commanding the brigade observes very much to commend and be proud of in the general appearance and drill and intelligence of the men. There is, however, in some regiments, a grave defect which officers and men must set themselves immediately at work to correct. It is a lack of the proper respect and attention in the manner of the soldier to his officer. Nothing produces a more favorable impression of the character and discipline of troops than strict attention to these forms.  Soldiers, instead of saluting in a lounging, careless manner, or even lying stretched at full length, or sitting on the ground, as has been observed when officers pass, should instantly assume an erect position, and soldierlike, manly bearing, and salute his officer in the proper manner. The same position and appearance should also be kept in addressing an officer, instead of putting the hands on the hips, or leaning against something for support.

Strict attention to this will hereafter be required on the part of all officers and soldiers.


Saturday, May 10.
     The following was sent to the Secretary of War by General McDowell:


Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:

I have thrown three new regiments across the river. Have ordered Duryea’s brigade to relieve Hartsuff and the latter to join me here, leaving a  battery and a regiment of cavalry with Duryea at Catlett’s.”

     This seemed to destroy our hopes of getting back under Banks, which we had been looking forth to.

Sunday May 11.
      The following inquiry was made of General McDowell by the Secretary of War:

Could not Gordonsville and Charlottesville be easily reached by a sudden dash of Hartsuff’s forces in concert with ours, and the railroad bridges either held or broken, so that they could not be used by the enemy, either retreating or advancing”

     The brigade was reviewed by General Hartsuff, after which we escorted the Twelfth Massachusetts back to its camp.

     An order was issued to-day by General Hartsuff to march to-morrow.  Among other matters appeared the following paragraphs:

Tents will be struck, the baggage-wagons loaded, trains straightened out, and the regiments formed under arms in marching order, on their respective parade grounds.  Companies will then be quickly inspected by the captains, under supervision of the colonels.  Cartridge-boxes and canteens will be full, and at the signal, the line of march will be taken up.

During the march no straggling will be permitted. The march at starting, and after each halt, will be in close order, at “shouldered arms,” until the column is in motion, when the command “route step,” given from the head of the column, will be rapidly repeated to the rear. Captains will fall to the rear of their companies, leaving a lieutenant in front, and will see that none of their men leave the ranks without written permission, for which purpose each will prepare before-hand a number of slips of paper, or a little book. If a soldier leaves the ranks temporarily for a necessary purpose, his arms ad equipments will be distributed amongst and carried by his set of fours until his return. The rear-guard will take into custody all stragglers without permission, and will turn them over to the provost marshal after arriving in camp.

        “Oh, Tom !  Cold tea !”

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Letter of Edwin Rice, May 11th

In the following Rice uses the term F.F.V. for First Family of Virginia.  He menitions Tom; bandleader Tom Richardson, Adjutant David H. Bradlee, band member Steve Howe and surgeon Dr. William W. Claflin.  Dr. Claflin's record in the roster states he was mustered in as Asst. Surgeon in April 29th 1862, and resigned, December 1st the same year.

Camp Stanton
Warrenton Junction, Virginia
May 11th 1862

     Thought I would avail myself of a little spare time today to write you a few lines.  Last Monday we moved our camp about a mile to the rear of where we first camped; and have got now for a camp ground the pleasantest spot that I have seen since we left Massachusetts.  But we have got to leave it in a day or two.

     The camp is on high and grassy ground in front of a F. F. V.’s mansion.  It is not a very stylish house, but a pretty good one for this part of the country.  The whole brigade is camped on the best part of the man’s land.  The general has taken the house for his headquarters.  There is a cool westerly breeze all the time.  The weather has been very pleasant since we moved.  Would not ask for anything better so far as I am concerned than to stay here on this ground until we go back to Massachusetts.

     Rube Whitcomb received a letter from Henry Friday evening.  Henry was well but had been hard at work. The 12th and 16th Indiana Regiments which were in this brigade have been discharged.  They enlisted for one year from April 1861.  They left early Monday morning for Washington.

     I have not received but one letter for two weeks and that one was from Mother.  There was a large mail for the regiment Friday night but it brought no letters for me. 

There is to be a brigade review this p.m. at 5 o’clock.  The brigade is composed as follows:  12th & 13th Massachusetts, 9th New York State Militia, 1st Maine Cavalry, a Regiment of New England Cavalry, and 3 batteries of artillery.

     Tom says that we are to march tomorrow p.m. for Fredericksburg, 26 miles from this place.  There is a good pike the whole distance. The Maine Cavalry are having a funeral. Can see the procession from our tent.  The band is playing Pilgrim Hymn for a Dead march.

     We heard about two hours ago that Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia were occupied by Union troops and that the Merrimac was blown to atoms.  The adjutant told Tom about it.  Don’t know whether it was true or not but hope it is.

     I expect to be home by the 1st of August.  Col Leonard told Steve Howe yesterday that he should try to get the regiment home as soon as he could. He did not think we should have to go further south than Richmond and I hope we shall not, if we have got to march it.

     Dr. Claflin has been appointed assistant surgeon to our regiment.  Dr. Claflin arrived here Friday afternoon.

     Address letters to me now, 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Band, General Hartsuff Brigade, McDowells Division, Washington, D. C.

                                              Edwin Rice

Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B, May 11th 1862

I will let John B. Noyes have the last say about General Abercrombie vs. General Hartsuff.

MSAm 2332 (46).  By Permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.      

Catlett’s Station, near Warrenton Junction Va
            Camp Staunton, May 10, 1861

        Dear George
        Your letter of the 18th ult. arrived safely on the 27th.  Since that time I have received a letter from father of the 25th ult., from Martha of the 28th ult. (rec’g May 1st) and from father again of the 4th inst. received yesterday.  The mail is now received somewhat regularly.  Journals of late as the 5th inst. have come to hand.  I sent a letter to Martha on the 4th inst.  Since that time the tedious monotony of camp life has been somewhat enlivened.  There is plenty to occupy the time now, both in drilling and reading.

        On the 5th inst. the 12th & 16th Indiana Regiments broke camp and proceeded by rail to Alexandria.  They are to be paid off and discharged at Washington.  So there is no more talk here about our going home with these regiments.  I may not have informed you that our old Gen’l. Abercrombie, a Col. of the U.S. Army a man who looked on soldiers as pack horses, though he did not take so much care of their comfort, fortunately left us a week ago or so, to the delight of everybody.  Brig. Gen’l. Hartsuff succeeded him, who is also a regular army officer.  The first thing the General did was to inspect the camping grounds of the various regiments.  “The Brigade Surgeon calls the ground good enough for the men,” he remarked “I only asked him because I thought his opinion ought to be better than my own. I cannot agree with him.”  The day that witnessed the departure of the Indiana regiment found us also newly encamped on the brow of a very extensive hill in a 140 acre lot. The position is the finest you could conceive of.  The tent grounds are level, the parade grounds very extensive.  The whole lot is well grassed over, and nicely mowed by the sheep that formerly pastured on it. The owner of the lot who has 1100 acres is a sheep raiser, and he’s rich.  His land cost $45.00 an acre.  To the East & West side of the camp woods extend from which wood can easily be drawn for camp uses.  A run, used only for drinking water, and for cooking purposes bounds the camp on the west, and a smaller run for washing purposes on the east.  Beyond the runs are woods.  It is but a mile or so to our old camping grounds.  Yet what a change.  There constant dampness, miserable tent grounds, stump be-spangled streets, furrough cartwheeled, clay-y cramped parade grounds.  The different regiments widely separated.  Actually the soil we laid on was but rotten vegetable matter. The point of a bayonet set in the ground for half an hour was so stained that nothing but Emery paper could scour off the stain.  The very trees of the forest were prematurely old, rotten at the core or at the top from excess of moisture.  Such a camp Mr. Stimpson visited, arriving on a rainy night.  Could he have seen this camp with its spacious company streets, fifty feet wide, adorned with cedar trees, a la Darnestown, our camp in line with the 9th N.Y. & 12th Mass., in the same field, though far from each other, the 1st Me. and Rhode Island Cavalry to the right, and the Penns. Battery of Mathews & N.Y. battery of Thompson to the left of the line, he would have left Warrenton Junction with a better impression of Volunteer life.  I have spoken of the character and extent of our camping ground.  So high is it that at almost all times the wind is stirring, so that outside of the hot tent, in the middle of the day you may be cool under a canopy made of blankets stretched across poles which we use for clothes lines. So high is it that you can see for miles around, above the woods across the country.  To the west extend the Rattle Snake Mountains, some twenty miles away, and beyond them, only visible when the air is clear, the Blue Ridge distant about 40 or 50 miles.

        Such a camp did Gen’l. Hartsuff select for us going back but about a mile.  But his care for us did not stop here. Daily he is around on duty.  The cook houses he has placed under his rule.  “Are you the cook” he said to one of the Company Cooks.  “Yes”  “Can you keep a neat cook house?”  “I think I can.” “If you do not, you must give way for one who will.”  The hospital & bakery also receive his visits.  At the latter place he broke bread & tasted it.  This A.m. he was at the guard house at reveille, 5 A.m. to see how guard duty was performed. The guard was turned out to salute him, at least a portion of them.   “That is as it should be” he said.   At the last camp I visited the guard did not” turn out though begged to do so by the Serg’t. & Lieut.  He referred to the N.Y. 9th.  Indeed the Gen’l. has simplified guard duty much. “How many posts have you” he enquired of the Lieut. of the Guard on the first day we came here.  “Seventeen.”  “That is too many, take off five, this camp ground is not intended to keep the men within the lines, but to keep interlopers out; let the men go where they please, the grand guard will keep them in.”  For the 10 months we have been out at the seat of war, and for two months the camp guard has been mainly posted for the purpose of preventing the exit of the men.  You could’nt get out of camp to see a friend in a regiment encamped in the next field, without a pass, and very likely but three or four passes could be given a day to the whole company.  Now I can go a dozen times a day to any of the regiments in the brigade.  Passes may be regarded as relics of the past. Yet regimental guard duty is very strictly performed.  The General passed a sentinel on his post.  He faced inwards towards the camp.  “Very well done” says the General “you had the idea, but the next time face out.”  In fact there is nothing too small for the general to notice. He has established a system of company, regimental and brigade fatigue duty which will ensure a well conducted camp; and it is very necessary that the camp should be clean and sweet now that the heat of summer is upon us.

      Mother says in her last of May 4th, that May is a come but not a blossom.  Cherry blossoms and peach have been out here since the middle of last month, perhaps earlier even.  The lilac is also in full bloom, and many a boquet of violets and daisies I might call only the fair one want step forth to receive them.  I heard there was a brook near by in which trout were to be found. A Serg’t. of the N.Y. 9th has plenty of hooks, and I believe I shall turn angler and try my luck on the finny tribe.  I intended to give you a short account of a day’s life in camp but space fails me.  I also wanted to have a little military talk which I shall have to make very brief.  Father hopes that Banks may not be cut off & that McDowell may accomplish something.  It is very hard indeed to divine Banks’ object unless it is merely to take care of Jackson, or the great work as it would seem of seizing the Virginia Central RR and the South Side and Tenn. R.R. over which a large portion of the rebel supplies must be transported.  Staunton is an important station on the former RR. From which place he might proceed to Lexington where seven roads meet, and thence to Bufford’s Gap, near the latter RR, or as is more likely to be the case he might go to Scott’s Ferry and seize the canal which leads to Richmond.  In any event it does not appear likely that Banks will be in the great battle unless the rebels make a long and determined stand at Richmond. He is too far away from the scene of operations. I omitted to say that Banks might take the road from Staunton to Gordonsville, by way of Charlottesville but which of the various roads toward Richmond he takes will probably be determined by the facility with which provisions can be transported, and the position of Jackson. McDowell certainly ought to be at Richmond as soon as McClellan.  The chances would seem to be that he is there first.  But may it not be that Joe Johnston will leave Richmond to its fate between three fires, McDowell, Franklin, & McClellan, cross the James River and make a stand at Petersburgh, or fly God knows where, whether to Tennessee or North Carolina where in the end the rebels must submit.  It should seem that Franklin ought to be at Richmond before Johnston, as it is not far from West Point to the latter place. I hope that Johnston will make a stand at Richmond, but fear he will got to Petersburgh which will be the continuing or the initiation of a policy which will prolong the war for months.  But if Joe does flee South let him beware of Burnside.

                With love to all I am Yours Truly
                        John B. Noyes.

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Page Updated 04 January 2010.