Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Sunday, October 23d.—Bright and frosty.

From the United States papers we learn that a great victory is claimed over Gen. Early, with the capture of forty-three guns!

It is also stated that a party of “Copperheads” (Democrats), who had taken refuge in Canada, have made a raid into Vermont, and robbed some of the banks of their specie.

The fact that Mr. McRae, who, with Mr. Henley (local forces), fell into the hands of the enemy a few miles below the city, was permitted to return within our own lines with a passport (without restrictions, etc.) from Gen. Butler, has not been mentioned by any of the newspapers, gives rise to many conjectures. Some say that “somebody” prohibited the publication; others, that the press has long been misrepresenting the conduct of the enemy; there being policy in keeping alive the animosities of the army and the people.

The poor clerks in the trenches are in a demoralized condition. It is announced that the Secretary of War has resolved to send them all to Camp Lee, for medical examination: those that have proved their ability to bear arms (in defense of the city) are to be removed from office, and put in the army. One-half of them will desert to the enemy, and injure the cause. About one hundred of them were appointed before the enactment of the act of Conscription, under the express guarantee of the Constitution that they should not be molested during life. If the President removes these, mostly refugees with families dependent upon their salaries, it will be a plain violation of the Constitution; and the victims cannot be relied on for their loyalty to the government. If the government wastes precious time in such small matters, while events of magnitude demand attention, the cause is fast reaching a hopeless condition. The able-bodied money-changer, speculator, and extortioner is still seen in the street; and their number is legion.

The generals in the field are sending back the poor, sickly recruits ordered out by the Medical Board: the able-bodied rich men escape by bribery and corruption; and the hearty officers— acting adjutant-generals, quartermasters, and commissaries—ride their sleek horses through the city every afternoon. This, while the cause is perishing for want of men and horses!


October 22d. Report comes to us of the death of our Brigade and Division Commander at Cedar Creek. We are all sorry that he was killed. He was one of the best officers in our corps. Colonel Thoburn, 1st West Virginia Regiment, a good friend to our regiment, a medical doctor by profession.


Etowah Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 22. A council was held this morning to know whether we should put up our chimney or wait to see whether we would leave. Decided to do all we could for our comfort, and let marching take care of itself. By night we had the satisfaction of sitting by a fire and knowing that the chimney smoked out of the right end.


Saturday, 22d.—Came through Gadsden yesterday. Circular from General Hood that Yanks had evacuated Atlanta. (Well, yes, that was true, but not for fear of Rebs.)


Saturday, 22d—We lay in camp all day for the purpose of resting. But it appears to the rank and file of the men that Sherman must have given up trying to catch Hood, or else we would not remain so long at one place. The supply trains were all sent back to the main railroad line for provisions. I went out on picket this morning. The non-veterans of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Iowa Regiments were mustered out this morning, and left for Chattanooga, from which place they will start for home. All of the non-veteran officers from each regiment, except two or three, went out with the privates. It is fine weather for marching. No news from the Eastern army.


22nd. Saturday. The Major started for home on leave of absence. Wrote a line and sent my money, $750.


Saturday, October 22. — Medical Director came to see Colonel Marshall, with a note from a lady, and some money. Day has been windy and chilly. Begins to look decidedly like winter, or rather autumn. Received news of Sheridan’s victory in the Valley. Captain McChesney came back from the hospital this evening. All the officers who have been able to be moved, have been sent away from hospital. Did not get my shoes.


October 22, 1864.

I was foraging to-day for the regiment with about 20 men. Got plenty of hogs and potatoes. Sweet potatoes are about the size of ordinary pumpkins and most delicious.


Deep Bottom, Va.,
October 22, 1864.

My Dear Sister L.:—

You are the most faithful correspondent I have, but your letters are as unfortunate in their travels as any that start me-ward. Your detained letter of the 2d, with P. S. of the 14th, arrived last night. It found me making myself comfortable. Do you remember the extract from the “C. S. Catechism,” in which it was laid down as the first duty of a quartermaster to make himself comfortable, and the second was like unto it only more so? I have my wall tent nicely floored and a jolly fireplace in it, my bed and mattress with sheets and blankets, my arm chairs and my desk. Burrows, the brigade quartermaster, with whom I mess, goes a step ahead of me. He has his floor nicely carpeted and a rug before the fireplace.

You have often wished to send me something good, and I have concluded to give you the opportunity. If you have a pair of sheets that are rather old and not too much so, they would just suit me to a T. These I am using now belong to our surgeon, who is home on furlough, but he will want them when he returns. I am in a position where I can carry a few such things now, and I think it will pay to have them, but do not go to sending me a pair of new sheets now. Then, if you are running over with dried berries, etc., if you could stow in a few of them in a little box beside the sheets, it would help me to make a nice supper several times. I hope you won’t do as some people do who send boxes to the army—put in a lot of sweet cake that will spoil before the box is delivered—and don’t send me any peaches. I am cloyed on peaches, and as soon as I get over it there are plenty here that I can get. I have so little doubt that you will send it that I will tell you how to direct it—Lieutenant O. W. Norton, Eighth United States Colored Troops, Third Division, Tenth Army Corps, Bermuda Hundred, Va. The charges will have to be prepaid and I will send you the money when you let me know the amount.

Your letter was the first intimation I had had of Conway’s death. I received one from Alf at the same time and one from Lucretia. She spoke of it as though she supposed I knew it. What a shame it is that Charlie B. could allow himself to get drunk under such circumstances!

You may have noticed often in my letters that I have spoken of my captain as a good man. He was killed in the engagement on the Darby Road, on the 13th, shot through the head. I had spent more than an hour with him on the very spot where he was killed, and had but just left him when a ball came along and struck him down. He was the best friend I had in the army and was almost a brother to me. I had only known him since last fall, but there was time to learn to love him. I am not accustomed to weep at the sight of death, but I shed some tears over his body. He was a widow’s only son, and it will be a terrible blow to her. I had the body embalmed and sent to her, the officers paying the expense. We had four officers lost then, or lost to us for the present. One captain lost an arm, another wounded in the abdomen, a lieutenant in the hand, and Captain Dickey killed.

There is a captaincy waiting for me in the regiment, but the idea of stepping into a dead man’s shoes is not pleasant to me. If my health would permit of my roughing it as I used to do, I would accept it, though, but as it is I shall hesitate some before doing so. I have some hopes of getting Alf Ayres into the regiment as second lieutenant. I think he has served in the ranks long enough to deserve promotion.


October 22d.—Cloudy; rained last night. 2 P.M.—Cold, and prospects of snow.

The news of Early’s disaster, and loss of artillery at Strasburg, is confirmed, and casts a new vexation over the country.

Mr. M. Byrd, Selma, Ala., is addressing some bold letters to the President on the blunders of the administration.

Gen. Longstreet has resumed command of the first army corps.

G. W. Custis Lee (son of the general) has been made a major-general.

There was no fighting below yesterday, that I have heard of.

Gold, which was $1 for $30 in Confederate States notes, commands $35 for $1 to-day, under the news from the Valley. Yet our sagacious statesmen regard the re-election of Lincoln (likely to follow our reverses) as favorable to independence, though it may prolong the war. It is thought there will certainly be revolution or civil war in the North, if the Democrats be beaten; and that will relieve us of the vast armies precipitated on our soil. Many of the faint-hearted croakers are anxious for peace and reconstruction.

Gen. Butler, called “the Beast” by the press, has certainly performed a generous action. Messrs. McRae and Henley, two government clerks in the local battalion, wandered into the enemy’s lines, and were put to work in the canal by Gen. Butler, who had been informed that we made some prisoners taken from him work on the fortifications. This was done but a short time, when they were relieved; and Mr. McRae was permitted to return to the city, to learn whether the Federal prisoners were really required to perform the labor named. No restrictions were imposed on him, no parole required. He came with Gen. B.’s passport, but felt in honor bound to communicate no intelligence, and voluntarily returned to captivity. We had Federal prisoners at work, but they were remanded to prison.