Josiah Marshall Favill.

The diary of a young officer serving with the armies of the United States during the war of the rebellion online

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Lieut. J. M. Favi
57th N. Y. Infantry.







Adjutant, Captain, and Brevet Major 57TH New York Infantry.
Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, and Colonel U. S. Volunteers.


Copyrighted, 1909








The publication of this diary is due to the solicitations of
one, alas ! no longer with us, who took much pleasure in read-
ing the original manuscript, and frequently urged the publica-
tion of it in book form for the pleasure of those who
participated in the movements described.

Anything that is authentic and comes to us in its original
form pertaining to the great drama of the Civil War is still
of interest to a very considerable number of those who love
their country and delight in heroic deeds; and these pages,
simple though they be, and relating generally to matters
within a narrow compass, may be therefore of interest to others
than the participators in the stirring scenes described. The
diary is, in truth, what it purports to be, with only trifling
changes, mostly of omission, the daily record of active cam-
paigning recorded at the time by one who was himself an
active participator in the great struggle for the preservation
of the Union, 1861-65, in the ranks of that mighty host which
fought and died for the life of our beloved country. The opin-
ions expressed are those of that time and are perhaps of no
importance, but are allowed to stand as curiosities of the
times. From my own knowledge of the making of history
in official reports, I can affirm that something in the interest
of truth may be found in these pages that may perhaps in the
future be worthy the notice of the dignified historian. Many
official reports are decorated with after thoughts, and some
of them made to show things as they should have been, and
not as they were. One official report, that of General S. K.
Zook, covering the operations of the Chancellorsville cam-
paign, is supplied, that is missing in the great " Records of the



Rebellion." I have recently had the honor of furnishing this
original report to the War Department to complete its records.

The social side of the army in the field, described in some
detail, I think will be of interest, and our relations with the
luckless women and children of the Confederacy shows that we
were not the monsters that many in the South have delighted
to paint us, but that we performed a stern duty with the least
possible offense.

Covering most of the campaigns of the Fifty-Seventh New
York Infantry and the gallant old Third Brigade of the First
Division, Second Corps, it will, I hope, be of sufficient in-
terest to beguile a pleasant hour of some of my old comrades,
and perhaps of their boys and girls.

December, 1908.


This book tells of arms and of men. Its Homeric touch
is the more obvious because the tale which commences with
the call to arms in New York City is centered in a small
space, that is in Northern Virginia, though the story twice
crosses the narrow bounds of Maryland and touches the free
soil of Pennsylvania.

The story is no patchwork of personal recollections of the
author, eked out by those of others, and made to fit the
limbs of history by piecing and adaptation from pages al-
ready printed. It is a narrative set down nightly after the
day's march or the day's fight, telling of the marching, the
fighting, and the catches of the breath between; of the first
great gathering of raw levies of the Northern States; and
then of that great historical Army of the Potomac, during
the War of the Rebellion, with these great masses of men as
a private in the ranks ; of the three months' service, and then
for years as an officer generally holding a staff appointment,
the young narrator marched and fought. The author speaks
too modestly of what he did and wrote as being that of a
mere youth, but as the immortal war song of the Germans
sings, it is the devotion of the strong and pious youth that
will save the country from disaster.

" Dear Fatherland, no danger thine,
Firm stand thy sons
To watch, to watch the Rhine."

There is a glamour which scintillates o'er casque and
shield, over lance and bow, in the conflicts of far away cen-
turies, but none are so important to us as the titanic struggle
of our own time, in which our young countryman rode through
fire and death over bloody fields. Though far be it from me



to bespeak attention to him as other than one of many com-
petent and brave officers, who made the noble army of the
Republic the great instrument it was, he was most certainly
of that moiety of the marching army, which as General
McClellan describes, "always kept with the colors," for as the
General so well says in his memoirs, "when an army starts
upon a campaign it resolves itself speedily into two parts, one
that means to keep out of harm's way if possible, and the other
that always keeps with the colors."

I think I shall not be saying too much of my old friend if
I add that I believe that all who read this narrative will be
glad that he has been preserved to finally give us this orig-
inal story of the greatest army of the big war.

To some, even after the lapse of so many years from
those of the desperate struggle which it describes, it will bring
tears, for many a hero passes as we read, on and then off the
stage, while the lithe soldier who tells the tale, rides and
fights on to the heaven-blest ending of the bloody war.

Sidney V. Lowell.



" Lay down the ax ; fling by the spade ;
Leave in its tracks the toiling plow;
The rifle and the bayonet blade

For arms like yours were fitter now."


I HAVE actually joined the army and am going to the war
as a high private in Company C of the Seventy-first New
York Regiment, commanded by Captain Coles.
The regiment has been accepted for three months' service
by the general government, and is to start for the front on
Sunday next, April 21, 1861.

It was not so easy to join this regiment, as the armory
was crowded with men, mostly fine young fellows, all crazy
to be enrolled. Finding myself getting left, I went up to the
Captain, who sat near by, and asked him if he would not make
a point to squeeze me in. I told him I was very anxious to go,
and gave him an account of my acquirements in the military
line, which I urged might be of service to him. After some
questions and agreeable chatting, he directed the clerk to take
down my name, saying some one would be certain to back
out at the last moment, and there would be room enough for
all who really wanted to go.

I left the armory rejoiced to find myself a real soldier, and
could hardly realize that in less than a week's time I should be
leaving home and marching to the front. I have always
dreamed of a soldier's life as an ideal one, and have been
enthusiastic on all things military since I was old enough to
read. Charles O'Mallev, Tom Burke of Ours, and the Three


Musketeers are mainly responsible for it, I think, but how-
ever that may be, I have learned to drill, to fence, to ride, and
to shoot, and devour every kind of military history that comes
in my way. During the Crimean War I was absorbed in the
details of the siege of Sebastopol, and sought everywhere for
anything published relating to it. I followed the British troops
at the Alma Balaclava and Inkerman with breathless excite-
ment, and at the storming of the great redan became satisfied
that a soldier's career was the only honorable and satisfactory
one to follow. But alas, in our own country there were
no wars, nor any likelihood of there being any, and the sit-
uation seemed hopeless from every point of view, but now
most unexpectedly the opportunity presents itself, and I have
done what I could to enter the service promptly. True, it
is not much to be a private soldier, and I have always looked
at war through the commissioned ranks, but in this partic-
ular case it will not make so much difference, as men in all
conditions of life, rich men, scholars, professional men, and
young fellows from college and school are all anxious to go
as privates, so I shall trust to luck to gain promotion by at-
tention to duty and by my knowledge of military affairs.

The Seventy-first is a swell city regiment, called the
American Guard, none but native Americans ordinarily being
enlisted, and in its ranks are many very rich men, several of
them taking private servants along. The Colonel, Vosburg, is
a distinguished military man, and no doubt the regiment will
make itself an enviable reputation.

There is no necessity for me here to say anything about
the cause of the war, as everybody knows the South desired
to extend their pet institution, Slavery, into the new states and
territories. This the people of the North will not consent to,
as they are bitterly opposed to the institution, and determined
to keep it within its present limits. In order to facilitate
their plans, the South have jealously maintained the upper
hand in the general government, and being thoroughly united,
have up to this time succeeded in keeping the reins in their
own hands, but at last they have lost control, as they judge
by the election of Mr. Lincoln ; and rather than submit to the
will of the majority when it does not suit them ,they propose
to disrupt the Union, destroy the country, and set up for
themselves with the few slave-holding states. Of course if


these states are allowed to go, the remainder may be divided
and subdivided again, which means an utter disintegration of
the federal government.

These reckless Southerners commenced operations by bom-
barding Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, on the nth of
April, and capturing it, and they are now busily at work
throughout all their states raising, equipping, and drilling a
military force, with the avowed object of restraining the
federal authorities from any control of their affairs.

What an excitement we have all been in since these people
fired on Fort Sumter ! Every one is anxious to do his utmost
and determined to raise a force strong enough to go down
there and thrash the conceit out of the rascals. The feeling
runs mountains high, and thousands of men are offering their
services where hundreds only are required. These hot-headed
rebels will surely find themselves more than accommodated in
the matter of fighting, and will before long bitterly repent
their foolish actions. We are more numerous and have more
money, have command of the sea, and have besides just as
much courage and pluck as they.

On the 15th of April President Lincoln called for 75,000
volunteers to serve for three months, and the militia regiments
of the various Northern states are offering themselves, filled
to the maximum by the enlistment of new members. As soon
as they are properly armed and equipped they will rendezvous
in Washington to protect the capital at first, and subsequently
march into the rebellious states and give the rebels a sound
thrashing. There is no reasonable doubt that a great battle
will have to be fought, and therefore we shall have an oppor-
tunity to see what actual war really is. Nobody dreams of fear,
but it is a great pity these Southern people do not appreciate
the earnestness and power of the North; if they did, surely
they would not court certain disaster ; however, this is to be a
diary, continued throughout the campaign, and therefore must
not be too prolix.

Tuesday, April 16th. To-morrow we are to meet at the
armory, fall in, and march in a body to Develin's clothing store,
lower Broadway, there to be measured, each and all of us, for
a uniform suit, to consist of dark blue jacket and sky-blue
trousers. The jacket will have light blue shoulder-straps and
cuffs, and will be made as quickly as possible, and forwarded


to us wherever we may be. It is a thousand pities we cannot
have them by Sunday, there will be such an enormous crowd
to see us off, and in our every-day rig we shall look anything
but soldierly.

Saturday night, April 20th. To-morrow we start for the
war. Since Wednesday I have been receiving the utmost
attention from everybody. It is so strange to see this wonder-
ful enthusiasm and loyalty. It is impossible for a man in
uniform to pay for anything he wants ; wherever I go all want
to do something for me ; in crossing the ferries men filled
my pockets with cigars, and even insisted upon my taking
money from them, and when I refused, actually forced it into
my pockets ; they must do something, and look upon us, I
suppose, as their representatives. There is no end to their
generosity and enthusiasm, which is well for the republic.

I attended a great reception given in my honor at the E-
Hotel to-night, which proved a magnificent affair. Everybody
that I knew, almost, was there, and fun and frolic with songs,
music, and speeches, continued until the clock struck twelve.
There were amongst the young fellows a number belonging to
a glee club, who sang patriotic and pathetic war-songs in-
numerable, and contributed immensely to the enjoyment of the
evening. When we broke up, and our last good-byes were
spoken, every man grasped me by the hand, many of them
kissed me, and all united in wishing me good luck and a safe
return. After taking an affectionate farewell of one who was
more to me than all others, I hastened from the room amidst
the cries of "God bless you" ; "Take care of yourself" ; "Be
sure and thrash the rascals," etc.

It was very hard to part when the time actually came, being
my first experience, and I must admit feeling decidedly unwar-
like and very desolate. However, I went home, turned into
my comfortable bed, wondering what sort of beds we should
probably have in the army.


" All the Gods go with you ; upon your sword
Sit laurel victory, and smooth success
Bestrewed before your feet."


I LEFT home at 7 A. m., satchel in hand, crossed the ferry,
and soon arrived at the armory. It was already filled with
men of the regiment receiving their arms and equipments.
We were furnished with a Springfield musket, bayonet, cart-
ridge-box, cap-pouch, haversack, and blanket. Our new uni-
form were not ready, and so the greater part of the regiment ap-
peared in every-day clothes and hats. Every company had a
few regularly equipped men, however, so that we had some
little military appearance. The greatest difficulty was an
absence of knapsacks, which necessitated carrying valises, a
very awkward arrangement, giving us more the appearance of
a lot of emigrants than a regiment of soldiers.

About two hours after I joined every man had been fur-
nished with all there was for him, and we were standing for
the first time shoulder to shoulder in the ranks. The roll was
called, and all present mustered into the state's service. Imme-
diately afterwards we marched downstairs into Bond Street,
wheeled into column by platoons, and marched into and then
down Broadway to Cortlandt Street, thence to pier 4, North
River, where we embarked on board the steamship R. R. Cuyler.
On reaching the street from our armory we found ourselves
almost unable to move on account of the enormous crowd,
a magnificent crowd too, overflowing with enthusiastic loyalty
and good nature, filling the air with endless cheers and patriotic
songs ; there were many, too, who shed tears, вАФ mothers, wives,
sweethearts, sisters, who were seemingly alone fearful of re-
sults. I felt very sorry for many of them. It is easy for us,
amidst constant excitement and ever-varying circumstances,
to keep our spirits up, but to these poor women at home, who
can only wait, it must be very trying.



As the head of the column turned down Broadway it was
confronted by a dense mass of humanity, filling the street from
side to side. The doors, windows, and roofs of every building
on Broadway and those adjoining, commanding a view of the
line of march, were jammed with crowds of people waving
handkerchiefs and flags, and cheering wMi all their might and
main. At the corners of some of the streets were steam fire-
engines tooting their whistles, and everywhere myriads of
starry banners fluttering in the breeze. The police, gradually
and with much difficulty, forced a passage through this im-
mense crowd, and we followed marching to the music of our
splendid band, amid the yells and cheers of the ever-increasing
multitudes. They not only cheered and sang and shook hands
and hugged us, but filled us up with every imaginable thing;
as we were obliged to halt every few minutes, they closed in
amongst us and delayed our progress sadly. We were nearly
three hours in marching from Astor Place to Cortlandt Street,
and on account of our baggage, very much fatigued. Individ-
ually, I got along very well, wearing a uniform frock coat,
and carrying all that I had wrapped in a rubber blanket strapped
to my back. Most of the men, however, carried valises in their
hands. At last we reached the dock and marched directly
on board the ship. She had capacity for about three hundred
souls ; we mustered eleven hundred in all ,and hardly managed
to find standing room. However, we got on board, and very
shortly afterwards the vessel's lines were cast off, the whistle
blew, and the good ship left her dock and headed down the
stream amid the most tremendous cheering, yelling, and
screeching one can possibly imagine.

The docks and vessels in the vicinity were crowded with
people, many of whom amused themselves bombarding the ship
with oranges; myriads of handkerchiefs and small flags and
lusty arms waved us an affectionate good-bye, and amidst this
glorious and magnificent send-off, we steamed away and were
soon well down the lower bay, our destination unknown, except
that we were to meet the enemies of our country. We go for-
ward in a great cause, confident of victory, delighted with
the surroundings, and happy in the knowledge that the whole
city we leave behind us look upon us as their representatives,
and will diligently look after our necessities while we look
after the enemy.


On Tuesday morning we came to an anchor, and were told
the ship was off the Naval Academy at Annapolis, on the
Chesapeake Bay. Our experience the past two days has been
most unpleasant. The ship is outrageously crowded from deck
to keelson ; towards evening of the first day out the wind began
to blow, increasing until midnight, when it blew a gale and
rain fell in torrents. Those of us who were quartered on deck
got promptly soaked through, and as a rule were horribly sea-
sick, with no conveniences, and packed literally like sardines
in a box ; the state of affairs may readily be imagined by one
who has been to sea, but it is difficult to describe. Seasickness
is a dreadful leveler of rank and destroyer of the ordinary
amenities of life ; every one is indifferent to the wants of others
and utterly without sympathy. There were a few facetious
fellows, too gross to feel the effects of the rolling of the ship
themselves, who took a fiendish delight in dangling pieces of
fat pork from the end of a string in the faces of those less
gross, and this little pleasantry usually succeeded in producing
the desired effect. There were many of us who wished more
than once that we had never been born.

At 5 p. m. the first day out we fell in for dinner, struggled
up to the galley, and there received a chunk of salt pork and
large slice of bread, which we ate standing, bread in one hand,
meat in the other. My piece of meat had a large bone in it,
and smelt so badly that I threw it overboard to the fishes, and
ate the bread alone. As the wind was freshening every minute,
and the ship beginning to roll suspiciously, my appetite was
not of the best, and later on entirely disappeared. Monday the
wind went down and it stopped raining, but we did not get
dried out, and as we had no shelter, were much the worse for
want of sleep. There is not much romance about this, cer-
tainly, but we are beginning to get experience.

This morning, Tuesday, we found ourselves in company
with five other vessels, all packed with troops similar to our
own, convoyed by a small cutter called the Harriet Lane, a
handsome craft carrying a couple of guns, and regular man-of-
war crew. She is ready for action and looks quite warlike.
Abut nine o'clock we anchored, rations were issued, including
hot coffee, the band shook themselves together and played
some stirring airs, and as the sun came out just about this
time, we soon forgot our little troubles and became thoroughly


interested in the magnificent view around us. The bay was
smooth as glass, all the ships were gay with bunting, and crowds
of armed men were mustering on every deck, while their bands
were playing, sending their martial strains far over the sil-
very surface of the placid waters. Surely this is a small but
beautiful picture of glorious war that we have dreamed of
so much. Some time afterwards a tug boat came puffing
along, and reported to the officer commanding the Lane that
the rebels were reported in force ashore, intending to dispute
our landing. In consequence the Lane steamed in towards
shore, guns shotted and run out; when she got pretty close
she lowered boats, armed with howitzers and marines, and
sent them in to land and reconnoiter the town. We knew Mary-
land was a questionable state, being about evenly divided in
its sympathies, and, consequently, were greatly interested in
the outcome of the present affair. If they proved friendly,
our chances would be greatly improved; on the contrary, if
they opposed our landing, the capital might be in serious
danger. After a good deal of delay and manoeuvering, the
boat's crews landed, finding nobody to oppose them. This was
signaled to the Lane, when our ship was immediately ordered
to weigh anchor, go in and disembark the regiment. We got
aground, and were transferred to the steamer Boston, and then
landed at the Naval Academy docks. The Academy we found
deserted, the students scattered, and only a few men in charge.
We stacked arms, broke ranks, and received rations, coffee,
meat (the same old salt pork), and bread, but we did not
confine ourselves to this diet ; the grounds swarmed with
negroes, men and women, who had for sale, in abundance, eggs,
pies, butter, and milk; we soon bought them out, and for the
first time since leaving home fared sumptuously. We appre-
ciated it immensely, not yet being used to hard living and
roughing it, and miss our regular meals prodigiously.

There were no white persons in the camp, nor any white
men in town ; all had disappeared, the negroes say, to join the
rebel army. We remained overnight for want of transporta-
tion for the quartermaster's department, and were quartered
in some of the many class-rooms. We heard various rumors
about the doings of the rebels in this neighborhood, and since
dark have seen many blue lights and rockets in the air, no
doubt signals to warn their friends of our arrival ; we conclude


rail traffic between here and Washington is destroyed, from
the reports of the negroes, and that we shall have to march,
instead of going by train, as was expected ; and possibly have
to fight, if, as is reported, some organized rebel troops are in
the neighborhood. Marching in the condition we are in, loaded
down with satchels, bundles, etc., is going to be very tiresome.
It is nearly thirty miles to the junction, the place we must
reach before we can go by rail.

Wednesday morning, 24th. Reveille at daybreak, when we
fell in and stood under arms for half an hour, when, finding
everything quiet, and no enemy in sight, we broke ranks and
prepared breakfast. Authentic reports came in early that the
railroad between this place and the junction has been de-
stroyed, and all the bridges burnt. We have orders to march
immediately after breakfast, but cannot do so until transpor-

Online LibraryJosiah Marshall FavillThe diary of a young officer serving with the armies of the United States during the war of the rebellion → online text (page 1 of 28)