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

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5, 1862. — One of our boys has just returned from Madrid and says he saw our gunboat Cairo there. She slipped by the batteries at “Island No. 10” in the storm last night. Mosquitoes here already.

April 5 — On picket. Late this evening we moved camp, and are now quartered in a barn a mile below Mount Jackson. Mount Jackson is a little village on the north side of Mill Creek, seven miles from Edenburg.

Saturday April 5th 1862

Nothing has occured today worthy of notice. Everyone is looking anxiously for news from three or four different points. From “Buels Army” & Com Foote Ten; from McClellan who is now at Fortress Monroe with a large Army, 130,000; from Genl Burnside in N. Car[o]lina; and from New Orleans & Savannah. A delegation from the North is here holding a sort of Caucus attempting to galvanize the old Democratic Party into life. It moves at the suggestion of old Breckinridge supporters, which gives the matter a bad odor. It will not do to talk of Party till this Rebellion is crushed.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.

APRIL 5TH.—Newbern, N. C., has fallen into the hands of the enemy! Our men, though opposed by greatly superior numbers, made a brave resistance, and killed and wounded 1000 of the invaders.

The enemy were piloted up the river to Newbern by the same Mr. Dibble to whom I refused a passport, but to whom the Secretary of War granted one.

The press everywhere is commenting on the case of Dibble—but Mordecai still sits at the gate.

5th.—A day of cooling rain, and warming excitement. Marched three miles, and found the enemy strongly entrenched behind a line of fortifications, on a narrow neck of land between the York and the James Rivers. Artillery duel at long range began about 12 o’clock, in which we had quite a number killed and wounded.

Camp Hayes, Raleigh, Virginia, April 5, 1862. Saturday. — Windy, cloudy, threatening more rain. Captain Haven in command of companies G and K started for the Bragg and Richmond settlement this morning to defend that Union stronghold and to operate if practicable against a force of cavalry and bushwhackers who are reported to be threatening it. They will remain at least three days.

Lieutenant Stevens, Sergeant Deshong, a corporal, and six men started this morning with General Beckley for Fayetteville and probably Wheeling.

Company A came up about 3 P. M. Hardy, well drilled. Camp in Sibley tents in court-house yard in front of my quarters.

Captain Zimmerman with Companies C and E and ten prisoners returned at 4 P. M. Marched fifty miles; burned the residence of Pleasant Lilly. Lieutenant Hastings came in about same time; had protected the election in the Marshes, and marched forty miles.

Saturday, 5th—We had company drill this morning as usual. Lieutenant Compton took the company out on the drill ground this afternoon for company drill, and he said: “Now, boys, we drill in earnest for an hour, then return to our quarters, put away our rifles, and then to the branch for bathing.” It was warm, but the men all went into it and after a hard drill we had a good wash-off in the branch.[1]

[1] This was the last time that Lieutenant Compton ever drilled our company, for the poor fellow was killed in the battle on the next day, Sunday, a little after noon. He was a fine drillmaster, and kind to his men, especially to those who tried to do their duty.—A. G. D.

Chaplain Hopkins to Eliza.

Alexandria Hospital, April 5th.

My Dear Mrs. Howland: Yesterday was one of the brightest, pleasantest days I have known for a long time. The wards were more inviting, and the men more cordial than usual. All day I seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and by a glad intuition, to discover the avenues which were unfortified and the doors which were unbarred. I have told you this because I am fully convinced that it was owing wholly to the good start that you gave me by that early morning visit. By some skillful adjustment, which I failed to notice at the time, you left me in tune. . . .

Please thank your sister Abby for the bundle of Independents. They were very welcome and I gave them away, each with the charge: “Be sure and read the Rainy Day in Camp.” Did I tell you that I read it after each of my services last Sabbath? and I think that it did more good than all that went before it. The men listened in perfect quiet. I feel sure that, if I could have looked up myself, I should have seen tears in the eyes of more than one who had been “skulking in the rear.”

(April 5)

Upon arriving at Alexandria we marched directly on board the transports, which were awaiting us, but lay at the dock until early the next morning, April 4th, when the steamer cast off her lines, and headed down the broad and beautiful Potomac. This was my second experience on board transports, and I could not help contrasting the difference in the situation, between a commissioned officer, and private soldier, wholly to the advantage of the former.

The general and staff, had of course first choice of quarters, then the various officers in order of their rank. This is a situation where rank is especially useful, but there were accommodations for all, and everybody was satisfied. The sail to Fort Monroe was a delightful experience, especially to those of us who were fond of the sea the weather was perfect, the ship roomy, and the company the best in the world. We sat or walked on the quarterdeck, smoked our pipes, talked over the prospects of the coming campaign, and listened to the music of the band.

Susan Bradford Eppes, "Through Some Eventful Years"

April 5th, 1862.—Sewing societies were organized long ago and every neighborhood has one. Ours meets first at one house and then at another, and all of us sew steadily all day long. Mother cuts many of the garments and Mrs. Manning helps her, that is, when they meet with us.

Peter and Mac make packing cases and it is astonishing how many garments go forward from the Bradford neighborhood.

I did not know much about sewing at first; at the beginning I made Charley Hopkins two flannel shirts but I am ashamed to say Lulu did most of the sewing. Now I can take any kind of a garment and make it entire, even the buttonholes, though Sister Mag says my button holes “gape.” I mean to improve on them. I have to do my book-keeping early in the morning and sometimes I have to work at night to finish up the day’s work. Since we have been sewing so steadily I have given up my horseback rides. Father does not approve of that. I take a good deal of exercise in other ways, however, and I feel well and strong.