S. Millet Thompson.

Thirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day online

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Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 28 of 81)
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The majority of these fellows were a pernicious lot. Many were good
soldiers ; the rest gave early indications of their unhandy genius.


Jan. 1. Fri. Cloudy, warm morning ; afternoon clear, cold and
very windy ; much damage done to tents. " To-day is the anniversary
of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. A review of Gen.
Wilde's negro Brigade at Norfolk, and a great time among the negro
population." Taogard.

Jan. 2. Sat. Very cold, windy, clear. Reg. in camp. Suffolk
occupied by several thousand Confederates. An extra force sent from
our camp to garrison the Union works at Bowers Hill.

Jan. 3. Sun. Fair. Lieut. Thompson of E starts for home on a
twenty days' leave of absence.

Jan. 4. Mon. Rainy, cold. Reg. in camp. Whenever a body of
troops moves hereabout, the natives — men, women and children alike —
ply the men with questions of all sorts. The most prominent of these


queries are : " How many air ye ? " and " Where ye at, now ? " One of
a group of half a dozen adult natives asked of us one day : " What rigi-
munt air ye ? " Thirteen rei)lied : " We are the A-Onceters ; " and passed
on, leaving the group discussing what State that could possibly be.

Jan. 6. Tues. Cold, cloudy. Officers at work on Pay-rolls. A
member of the 13th writes : " 'T is a common failing of soldiers to know
just what is going to transpire weeks before it never does transpire."

Jan. 6. "Wed. Cold, snowy at night. The New Year commences
with a rush of re-enlistments in the old regiments. In one of them all
the men but five have re-enlisted ; in one brigade all but about sixty.
"These are the sort of men the Confederates do not wish to meet —
trained soldiers and volunteei's."

Jan. 7. Thurs. Cold, cloudy ; a very stormy night, with hail and
snow. Lieut. Saunders goes home on leave. A tent in Co. E takes fire
to-night and burns up, with nearly everything in it ; no person hurt.

Jan. 8. Fri. Cold, stormy — hail and snow. Too cold for outdoor
work ; none done nowadays excepting imperative duties. A magnificent
theatre has been built in camp — and the amateur entertainments in it are
still more magnificent.

Jan. 9. Sat. Cold, clear. The weather reminds us of Fredericks-
burg ; but our quaiters are now palaces to the freezing and water-soaked
dens of those days.

Jan. 10. Sun. Cold, clear. Reg. in camp. " My house is 11^ feet
by 13i feet (on the ground), and after living in small tents I almost feel
lost in it, because it is so large. Asst. Surgeon Sullivan returned to the
Regiment to-day. He was married during his absence. Adjutant Bout-
well made a sleigh out of a box, hoops, etc., and yesterday took the ladies
visiting our camp out sleigh-riding." Prescott.

Jan. 11. Mon. Warmer. Reg. in camp. The ' upper crust,' among
the native population we have met, hold themselves aloof with much dis-
dain and haughtiness. The lower million are exceedingly inquisitive and
talkative. We soldiers therefore naturally think that the upper tier do
not know enough to be civil, and the lower tier do not know enough to
keep still ; and we turn from both to the great middle class, who, as every-
where, are the honest and honorable people of this great Southern land.

Jan. 12. Tues. Pleasant. Reg. inspected by Lieut. George A.
Bruce, Act. Asst. Inspector General on Brigade staff. The 8th Conu.
leaves for home on a Veterans' furlough.

Jan. 13. Wed. Warm, cloudy, disagreeable day. Reg. still in
camp. Forty-six men sent from the Reg. to join the Invalid Corps.

Jan. 14. Thurs. Cloudy; very muddy. Reg. at work on a cordu-
roy road towards Portsmouth. Lieut. Durell starts for home at noon on
leave of absence.

Jan. 15. Fri. Clear, pleasant ; toward night rainy. Reg. in camp.
Charles W. Green commissioned Captain, and George N. Copj) First
Lieutenant in the 25th U. S. Colored Regiment.

1864 CAMP GILMORE. 229

Jan. 16. Sat. Pleasant. Reg- in camp. Capt. Betton's wife ar-
rives in camp. Many Northern ladies are visiting here this winter, and
on pleasant days the many riding parties make the camp attractive. Gen.
Heckman assumes command of this line, relieving Gen. Getty. Gen.
Weitzel at Norfolk.

Jan. 17. Sun. Very fine day. Inspection in the forenoon. Parade
and religious services at sundown. Small-pox breaks out in the contra-
band camp.

Jan. 18. Mon. Rainy. Reg. in camp. During the whole autumn
and winter, detachments from the 13th have been sent on picket duty —
for a week at a time — on the Union outj)osts in the swamp ; one of them
at the 9th mile-stone on the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad. The 13th
has also supplied men for a long provost-guard line, running across the
country west of Portsmouth ; from Hall's Corner on the Portsmouth road,
about two miles below camp, north to Scott's Creek. Several of the offi-
cers take their meals at Mr. Savage Baker's house, at Hall's Corner.

Jan. 19. Tues. Fair, cold, windy. Reg. in camp. Occasionally
the boys find a small supply of a fine native wine, made of Scu25pernong
grapes, at the citizens' houses in the country ; the citizens generally
realizing a high price for it. The vine is never pruned, and is trained on
large trellises, raised six or eight feet above the ground. The boys no
sooner visit a new bit of the country here than they begin to interview
the citizens about Scuppernong — but where the Confederate soldier has
preceded them the demand exceeds the supply.

Jan. 20. "Wed. Pleasant. Reg. in camp. Thirty-three recruits
arrive in camp for the 13th. Great excitement in the Connecticut Bri-
gade. Many men of the 13th visit their camp, and about thirty are
arrested and lodged in the guard-house, for absence from our camp with-
out leave. Lieut. Staniels returns to the Reg. for duty, from absence on
recruiting service.

Jan. 21. Thurs. Pleasant. A large detail at work on the de-
fenses. The loth Conn, leaves our Brigade for New Berne, N. C. The
16th Conn, also departs for the same locality. Last night they burned
up their quarters, causing a lai'ge conflagration, cut down their flag-staff,
and made their camp a scene of desolation. They depart in anger ; do
not want to go. The whole Connecticut Brigade moves away. Our
Brigade would have gone instead, but was too small.

Jan. 22. Fri. Pleasant. Reg. in camp. Hard work now for the
troops on this line. It is very lightly manned ; not more than 4,000 or
5,000 men all told, for six or eight miles of defenses.

Jan. 23. Sat. Very warm. Thermometer indicates 83° in the
shade, 93° in the sun ; a January thaw, indeed. The 23d Mass. moves
upon the ground vacated by the 16th Conn. The 9th N. J. also moves
to ground near the Thirteenth ; and for the time Col. Steere's Brigade
(ours) consists of the 10th and loth N. H., 4th R. I., 9th N. J. and
23d Mass. regiments.


There are now but four of the men in our regimental Hospital. All
these ai'C convalescing, and are moved into the Dispensary, a large room,
and the Hospital is cleared and cleaned for a Military Ball. John A.
Bullai-d the Hospital cook, constructs a gorgeous chandelier of pork-
barrel hoops and many-colored tissue paper, and swings it from the
centre of the hall, lighted with candles placed in the shanks of old bayo-
nets. Many flags and streamers give color to the walls. The music, by
our Band, is as usual veiy excellent. Therfe are fourteen ladies present,
and a large number of officers of all ranks. The writer is absent in New
Plarapshire, and therefore cannot write very fully of the occasion. One
incident, however, makes sport for the entire camp. Some of the visit-
ors, and many outsiders, gain, access to Hospital Steward Prescott's medi-
cal stores, and find a large supply of cough mixture, new, fresh and
strong. [Mistaking it for whiskey, they imbibe very freely, and about
thirty of them soon enjoy a spry and lively little ball of their own in
rear of the building. The chopping seas of the wild Atlantic never saw
thirty sicker men than the tartar emetic in that cough mixture furnishes
on this occasion. No play is complete without a touch of comedy, and
these amiable gentlemen are not slow in furnishing it ; while the lookers
on nearly laugh their eyes out of their heads, at seeing this large group
of victims to misplaced confidence assume postures and attitudes, and
" throw up their immortal souls," as Mark Twain says, and swear heartily
between the paroxysms at their most ridiculous and humiliating blunder.
Rich — rich it was. They dance no more to-night — at our Military
Ball — and in the absence of wheelbarrows, a number of them ride home
on stretchers — being most seriously wounded from the bottom of their
stomachs to the top of their pride.

Jan. 24. Sun. Pleasant. Many of the men have a day off, along
here, and visit Fortress Monroe, Norfolk, Portsmouth, etc. A large party
made up of the officers of the Thirteenth, and of other regiments, secure
an engine and cars, and make an excursion on the S. & R. Railroad to
within three miles of Suffolk. A number of ladies, officers' wives and
others, accompany the party, which is sui)plied with an efficient guard.
No accident occurs, and all return much pleased with the expedition.
Chaplain Jones holds a prayer-meeting in the regimental Hospital to-
night ; similar meetings are held nearly every Sunday evening.

Jan. 25. Mon. Pleasant. Reg. in camp. Negro troops doing
provost duty in Norfolk ; keeping the white people in order. On a visit
to Norfolk one can see white Southerners, arrested for sundry misde-
meanors, working on the public streets, under negro guards. Tliis
punishment is meted out to all who have willfully and maliciously torn up
the culverts and bridges, and damaged public property. It is quite a
change to see, in Norfolk, negroes forcing white men to work, at the
point of the bayonet : calling out to them : '' No loaf'n dar ! " " Move
quicker. Sah ! " '• Hurry up dar, Old Whitey ! " and similar orders.
Tables turned !

1864 CAMP GILMORE. 231

Jan. 26. Tues. Pleasant. Reg. in camp.

Jan. 27. "Wed. Very warm. Tliermometer indicates 87° in the
sun. A soldier of the Thirteenth writes : " AU the one-horse officers
and men have a four-horse opinion of themselves."

Jan. 28. Thurs. Hot — for winter. Thermometer indicates 93°
in the sun. Reg. at work on the defenses. ' Llmjjsy ' is the way we feel
— and work.

Jan. 29. Fri. Hot. Thermometer indicates 93° in the sun ; too
warm for the Reg. to work. The negro school established in the contra-
band camp is largely attended, and in a very flourishing condition.

Jan. 30. Sat. Cooler ; a heavy rain at night. Reg. in camp.
Order received that all persons in the camj) and vicinity must be vaccin-
ated, soldiers, citizens and negroes. Surgeon Richardson leaves camp
for Washington, D. C.

Jan. 31. Sun. Cold, cloudy, misty. Reg. in camp. Sixty-four re-
cruits arrive for the Thirteenth, in charge of Lieut. Sawyer of I and
Lieut. Thompson of E. Lieut. Thompson was at home on leave, and
while there was detailed as part of the escort for this body of recruits,
rejiorting at Concord Jan. 26th. They left for the front on that day.
Lieut. Sawyer was taken sick at Baltimore, and for nearly three days
the recruits were held without guard in that city. Lieut. Thompson col-
lects them in their quarters, the loft of an old tobacco warehouse, ex-
plains the situation, and takes the word of honor of every man of the
party, that they will not desert if they have their freedom from a special
guard and are not marched out to the fort. They are then allowed to
go wherever they may please, only promising that they will assemble in
the loft every morning at nine o'clock. They all keej) their agreement,
excepting one, who deserts. The rest of them scour the city for him,
swearing that they will bring him in dead, if he will not come alive ;
but they are unable to find him. They regard him as having disgraced
the whole party. The most of these men made good soldiers.

This incident is noted in the interest of human nature, so called,
which none but fools ever attempt to despise. Honesty and honor are
the basis — the very spirit — of everything in mankind that is worth
having at all ; as its measure is great or small in a person, so that person
is godlike or satanic, every time and everywhere. Even love and purity
must be true and honor bright.

Feb. 1. Mon. Cold, rainy. Reg. in camp. About ten miles from
here the rebels make a little stir, by capturing a Union gunboat and
about one hundred men. President Lincoln orders a Draft of 500,000
men to serve for three years or for the war ; and in the Northern States
the cold shivers run down the copperheads and cowards till their boot
heels freeze to the snow. " Hospital Steward Prescott taken sick to-day
with small-pox." Taggard.

Feb. 2. Tues. Cold, rainy ; very muddy. Reg. in camp. The re-
cent little mnvement of the enemy makes orders more strict in our camp.
The Thirteenth loses a good officer in the resignation of Lieut. Young.


First Lieutenant William H. H. Young was born in Barrington, N. H.,
May 15, 18o7, and at the breaking out of the war was engaged in busi-
ness in Roxbury, IVIass. He enlisted as a private Aug. 9, 1862, was
soon after a})pointed a recruiting officer for the State of New Hampshire,
and proceeding to his old home in Barrington he united with Lewis H.
Buzzell and Hubbard AV. Hall in recruiting and organizing Company F
in the Thirteenth. Sept. 19, 1862, Buzzell was nuistered in as Captain
of Company F ; Young as 1st Lieutenant, and Hall as 2d Lieutenant ;
their commissions from the Governor bearing date of Sept. 27, 1862.
Capt. Buzzell was taken very ill on the day of the muster, and for nearly
two months the command of Company F devolved upon Lieut. Young.
Capt. Buzzell rejoined the Company at Camp Casey near Fairfax Sem-
inary. When the Thirteenth moved to join the Army of the Potomac
under Gen. Burnside before Fredericksburg, Lieut. Young was left at
Camp Casey on account of sickness, but five days later he was, by order
of Gen. Casey, placed in charge of 283 enlisted men belonging to Col.
Wright's Brigade, and sent with them by boat to Aquia Creek. Already
broken in health, this care and labor ])rostrated him for several weeks,
and severe illness jirevented his engaging in the battle of Fredericksburg
and in the movements that followed.

From Jan. 30 to Feb. 7th, 1863, he served as Judge Advocate of a
regimental Court Martial. Again, May 26, 1863, he was appointed to
the same special duty, and still again, on June, 30, 1863, at Yorktown.
The latter was a ' Drum-head ' court, short, sharp and decisive. The
.cases tried at these regimental courts martial ^yere almost all for misde-
meanors under the crime of desertion. At Newport News he was for a
time placed in command of Company A. Here he had a severe attack
of malarial fever, and March 13th was sent to U. S. General Hospital at
Hampton, Va., reporting for duty again on May 14th, the Thirteenth then
removing from near Suffolk to Getty's Station. Company F had pre-
vious to this time united unanimously in a request for Lieut. Young's
promotion to the Captaincy, to take the place of Capt. Buzzell killed at
the battle of Providence Church Road ; but the condition of his health
would not warrant his remaining in active service, and the commission
was issued to Lieut. Forbush.

Continuing in the service, however, contrary to the advice of friends
and Surgeons, he took an active part in Gen. Dix's exi)edition up the
Peninsula to Hanover Junction in June and July 1863, commonly called
in irony the Blackberry Raid, but really one of the severest summer
marches made by infantry during the whole war. He was placed in
command of the rear-guard on the forced march from Horn's Quarters
to Ayletts — see July 5, 1863 — and at the halt there laid down from
sheer exhaustion, and slept for several hours on the ground of a cornfield
with no cover or jn'otection whatever, contracting acute rheumatism and
dysentery, which became chronic, and from which he has never fully re-
covered. On arriving in camp at Getty's Station, he was sent to Balfour

1864 CAMP GILMORE. 233

General Hospital, at Portsmouth, Va., for treatment. Here he tendered
his resignation, which was not accepted, but he was granted a leave of
absence for twenty days, which was afterwards extended to sixty days.
Returning to the Hospital at expiration of leave, he was examined by E.
B. Dalton, Surgeon in charge, and found unfit for active military service.
He again tendered his resignation, and on Feb. 2, 1864, he was honorably
discharged the service upon a Surgeon's certificate of disability.

In January 1863, three men deserted from the Regiment and were car-
ried as prisoners to Newport News. Believing that their action was hasty
and ill considered, Lieut. Young interested himself in their behalf, visited
them and finally succeeded in having them released without trial. All
three afterwards made good soldiers, performed their duties well in all
the subsequent battles in which the Regiment engaged, were promoted to
non-commissioned officers, were mustered out with the Regiment in June
1865, and still bear the scars of wounds received in honorable service.

Feb. 3. Wed. Pleasant, cool. Reg. in camp. Pay-rolls signed,
and a part of the Reg. paid off.

Feb. 4. Thurs. Cool, windy. Reg. in camp. Paid off for four
months by Maj. R. C. Walker. Hosp. Steward R. B. Prescott sent to
small-pox Hospital sick with that disease. Is sick there seventeen days,
and finds it a fearful place ; probably he meets with the worst exjieri-
ence of his whole life. The Hospital is located near West Branch.

Feb. 5. Fri. Very pleasant. Reg. in camp.

Feb. 6. Sat. Pleasant. Reg in camp. The 13th furnishes the
outpost pickets in the swamjj, for this week. Capt. Farr returns to duty.
Capt. Forbush officer of the day, Lieut. Sawyer officer of the camp guard.
" Guard-mounting ceremony executed as well as in the Regular Ai-my."

It was a negro cabin much frequented by soldiers of the lower ty2)e,
and the source of much drunkenness, sickness and mischief generally,
and finally the decision was reached to break up the affair. In charge
of the posse sent to arrest the parties was a young and handsome Lieu-
tenant, but somewhat fat and ruddy, and rather short. He had no sooner
entered the cabin than he was seized by a strong and quite good-look-
ing young negro wench, spry and lithe as a cat. She threw both of her
arms around him, under his own arms, and gave him a hug like a bear,
exclaiming : " O my nice little man ! O my nice little man ! " and
much more of the same appreciative sort. In the struggle to be free from
her, he fell, and they both came to the floor ; when there ensued an ex-
hibition of Anglo-African wrestling and struggling altogether past de-
scription. They waltzed procumbent all over the room, kicking over the
chairs and tables, breaking dishes, covering the floor with food, butter,
slops and water ; getting into the fireplace, scattering the ashes, and
becoming both of them thoroughly bedaubed with the dirt upon the
floor. It was a regular cat and dog tussle. Finally the Lieutenant
won the battle, and the cabin, its contents and its crew went speedily be-
yond further opportunities for mischief in our vicinity. On the return to


camp the Lieutenant reported the party's success to his Colonel ; but
requested that some other officer might be sent to " mop up the next old
negro cabin that must be cleaned out."

Feb. 7. Sun. Cloudy, lowery, chilly. Usual Sunday morning in-
spection, and parade at sundown. Chas. H. Tarbell of B discharged to
receive a commission in a colored regimeut. Eleven men of the Thir-
teenth have been thus commissioned. Lieut. Murray detailed as aide-de-
camp on the staff of Col. Steere commanding our Brigade.

Feb. 8. Mon. Fair. Reg. in camp. The colored men enlist very
freely. They often choose the arm of service which they enter from
their fancy for certain colors ; some preferring one color, some another
— choosing the infantry for its blue, the artillery for its red, the cavalry
for its yellow. When a young negro has enlisted, and returns in full
regimentals, to bid his friends good-bye, he struts like a turkey cock, and
bubbles over with grinning chuckles, while the old men and women throw
up their hands with a hundred benedictions, the girls languish for a
glance of his eye, and the children run after him in wonder, with theu*
mouths and eyes wide open. The whole negro race seems to be gov-
erned by instinct, rather than by reason.

Feb. 9. Tues. Fair. Reg. in camj). Very little doing nowa-
days. A large number of men, however, are to-day at work on the main
road from camp to Portsmouth ; covering a long piece of the old road
bed with heavy corduroy. It is heavy business, we are using large logs
and very long ones.

Feb. 10. "Wed. Fair. A detail at work on the defenses. A special
picket sent to the outposts. There was a rousing Republican political
meeting held in camp last night. A man of Co. H confined temporarily
in the guard-house is taken sick with small-pox. His misdemeanor is
necessarily excused for a season.

Feb. 11. Thurs. Fair. Regular monthly inspection in camp by
Lieut. Geo. A. Bruce. " All looked first-rate," he says.

Feb. 12. Fri. Fair, windy. Part of Reg. at work on the defenses.
Another case of small-pox in Co. H.

The outpost picket from the Thirteenth located at the 9th mile-stone on
the S. & R. Railroad have their reserve tent pitched n})on a ])latform
made of railroad ties placed on stringei-s thrown across the railroad ditch,
which is three or four feet deep, nearly dry, and is used as a recei)tacle
for all waste and odd scraps of rations thrown away. One night the
reserve were awakened by sundry sounds of snuffing, eating and gnawing
beneath their tent, and one of the men went out cautiously to investigate
the cause. Just as he had stooped into the ditch to look beneath the
tent, there was a short series of grunting growls, and a sudden rush of
two animals past him, hitting and nearly knocking him over in their
haste; two nearly full grown black bears driven by hunger were having
a quiet midnight lunch, that was all — but the investigator's hair went on
end, and would scarcelv comb down smooth again for a week.

1864 CAMP GILMORE. 235

Feb. 13. Sat. Fair. Reg. in camp. One man of the 13th writes :
" Coming- here to camp from home is much hke moving from one promi-
nent place, mentioned in Scripture, down to another."

Feb. 14. Sun. Cloudy, disagreeable day. Usual Sunday duties.

Feb. 15. Mon. Cloudy, rainy. Reg. resumes daily drill. Capt.
Bettou of K sick in his quarters with small-pox. Small-pox very preva-
lent at Norfolk ; a low type, resembling varioloid, but occasionally violent.
The disease has continued among the citizens about here for a year past.
Capt. Smith leaves camp for Concord on recruiting service ; the wife of
Capt. Forbush, and other ladies, leave camp for home, under his escort.
Lieut. Staniels placed in command of Company H.

Feb. 16. Tues. Cold, a regular gale of wind. Tlie army sings
many songs and hymns, but the song of ' Old John Brown ' is the favorite
song of all ; and always sounds best when sung with the extra note at
beginning, and one of the best verses is as follows :

'' Old John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the ground.

His soul is marching on.
On John Brown's grave the heavenly stars look kindly down,

His soul goes marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah. Glory, gloiy, halle-hallelujah.

Glory, glory, hallelujah,

His soul is marching on."

Feb. 17. "Wed. Fair ; coldest day of the season. Company drill.
The outposts are so far from camp that pickets go out for a week at a
time. Some men and officers volunteer to remain, and stay out two weeks ;
preferable to dull camp life. Asst. Surgeon Morrill thrown from his
horse and severely injured.

Feb. 18. Thurs. Fair, very cold, a high northwest wind. Snow
and dust are having a lively high dance aU throughout camp, A little
fall of snow to-night.

Feb. 19. Fri. Fair, cold. New Berne being invested ; Gen. Peck
is there ; every hour we expect to hear the officers-call, from the Colonel's
Hdqrs., and the publishment of orders to proceed at once to New Berne.
There is a ripple of excitement every time a mounted aide comes into
camp. The Thirteenth prefers to join the Army of the Potomac.

Feb. 20. Sat. Fair ; very cold. The poor Subs have as many

Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 28 of 81)