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

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30 — This morning at daylight we started out on picket. We went within ten miles of Harrisonburg, but saw no sign of Yankee game. We returned to camp a little after midday, then moved up the river two miles and camped. Some of the sentinels that were guarding at the bridge which crosses the Shenandoah at Conrad’s Store, had their guns set up, leaning carelessly against the side of the bridge, and when we crossed this morning the jar from the artillery threw them down, one of which was discharged when it fell, wounding three of the guards.

Jackson’s whole army is on the march up the river. Heaven only knows where he is bound for now. I know that ninety-nine out of a hundred of his men have no more idea of where they will turn up next than the buttons on their coats.

From here where we are camped this evening we can see the old camp that Jackson left to-day, and there are hundreds of camp-fires blazing there, which at first seemed a little puzzling, as Jackson has certainly gone up the river, and the camp-fires that I see right now are surely not spectral. But here comes a very satisfactory solution. Somebody whispers that General Ewell’s division crossed the Blue Ridge to-day from east Virginia, and his men are camped in the very same camp that Jackson’s men vacated this morning. Just a little piece of pure strategy fresh from under the little faded cap.

Camp 4, Miller’s Tannery, twelve miles from No. 3, April 30, 1862. — Mustered the men before breakfast at reveille; marched for this camp twelve miles; arrived in good condition. Rained P. M. Joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Paxton and Major Curtis, Second Virginia Cavalry, with four companies, fine horses and men. Report from Bottsford that he found Foley’s nest but the bird gone.

APRIL 30TH.—Troops from the South are coming in and marching down the Peninsula.

Wednesday, 30th—We were routed from our beds of leaves at 4 o’clock and moved on two miles farther in the direction of Purdy, when we received word from General Wallace that we were not needed. We marched back to camp, arriving here about noon, in a heavy rainstorm, soaked to the skin and covered with mud. We had lain all night with rifle in hand, in a heavy timber, on beds of leaves, without blankets, and some of the boys caught cold. The Eleventh Iowa was inspected today for pay. Thus ends this month in old Tennessee.

April 30th. At 2 P. M., a steamer came up and landed the prisoners from the forts. This day, between the hours of ten and twelve o’clock, the carpenter of the fleet held a survey on this ship, and reported her not seaworthy, on account of a shot under her starboard counter.

30th. Received letters from Fannie and Uncle Albert. Answered Fannie’s. Beautiful day. Arrested a suspicious looking fellow, acted like a spy. Told of the fight at Neosho and the Indian band on Cowskin Prairie.

April 30.—I saw General Price when he rode to camp. I think he is one of the finest looking men on horseback that I have ever seen. I have a picture of Lord Raglan in the same position, and I think that he and General P. are the image of each other. I showed the picture to some of the doctors, and they agreed with me. General P. is in bad health, but could not be induced to stay longer with us, as his abode is with his soldiers in the camp, where he shares their sorrows and joys. It is this that has so endeared him to them. Missouri may well be proud of her gallant son.

The hospital is nicely fixed up; every thing is as neat and clean as can be in this place.

Mrs. Glassburn has received a great many wines and other delicacies from the good people of Natchez. I believe they have sent every thing—furniture as well as edibles. We have dishes in which to feed the men, which is a great improvement. The food is much better cooked. We have negroes for cooks, a good baker, a nice dining-room, and eat like civilized people. If we only had milk for the patients, we might do very well.

There is a young man here taking care of his brother, who is shot through the jaw. The brother procures milk from one of the farm-houses near, and had it not been for this I believe the sick man would have died of starvation. We have a few more such, and they have to be fed like children. One young man, to whom one of the ladies devotes her whole time, has had his jaw-bone taken out. We have a quantity of arrow-root, and I was told that it was useless to prepare it, as the men would not touch it. I thought that I would try them, and now use gallons of it daily. I make it quite thin, and sometimes beat up a few eggs and stir in while hot; then season with preserves of any kind—those that are a little acid are the best—and let stand until it becomes cold. This makes a very pleasant and nourishing drink; it is good in quite a number of diseases; will ease a cough; and is especially beneficial in cases of pneumonia. With good wine, instead of the preserves, it is also excellent; I have not had one man to refuse it, but I do not tell them of what it is made.

Our army is being reinforced from all quarters. The cars are coming and going constantly, and the noise is deafening. It is a blessing that our men are not nervous, or the noise would kill them. We are strongly fortifying this place. I hope we will soon gain a victory; but our forces can not tempt the Yankees to fight.

We are told by Dr. Smith to do what is necessary for the prisoners, but talk as little as possible to them. The captain from Cincinnati is still here; a very sick lieutenant is in the same room. I believe he is one of the captain’s officers. I have to attend him. A few mornings since, when I was visiting him, the captain stated that there was good news in the papers. (He is allowed to read all the southern papers.) I asked what it was. He answered that a proposition had been made for the exchange of prisoners; and that it came from our side. I remarked that all humane proposals came from our side and that I did not think that his would be magnanimous enough to accept it. He said he hoped they would, so that he could see his home once more. I pray so too, as I know that our men who are prisoners have been enduring extreme hardship.

Every one is still down-hearted about New Orleans, as its fall has divided the Confederacy by opening the Upper Mississippi River to the enemy. All praise the spirited answer given by the mayor when ordered to surrender the city. He said that the citizens of New Orleans yielded to physical force alone, and that they still maintained their allegiance to the Confederate States; and upon refusal to pull down the state flag from the city hall, Commodore Farragut threatened to bombard the city. The mayor replied, the people of New Orleans would not degrade themselves by the humiliating act of lowering their own flag, and that there was no possible way for the women and children to leave; so he would have to do his worst. We can not but admire such spirited behavior; but it is nothing but what I expected from the proud Louisianans. Indeed, I had no idea that they would give up their much-prized city as easily as they did, but thought that it would have to be taken street by street. When all is known, I trust that the people will not be blamed. A number of Louisiana troops are here, who are much enraged about it. General Lovell, who was in command, is severely censured, but I trust he is not in fault.

We are still busy; wounded men are constantly brought in. To-day, two men had each a leg amputated. It is supposed that both will die.

General Van Dorn, with a number of his troops, has just arrived.

30th.—Still quiet to-day, with exception of an occasional report of artillery along the line, and some picket firing. A. B. Millard, Co. G, 5th Wisconsin, brought in to-day, badly wounded in the shoulder. He lived about four hours after being shot. He is the first man killed from that regiment, though it has been eight months in the field. Am not well to-day. Have diarrhœa, and threat of fever.

General Washington’s rifle pits extend for miles in front of our camps. The state of perfection in which they now are, after the lapse of eighty years, is surprising. A road runs by the side of the ditches, and were it not for the immense pine trees growing on the embankments, they would be taken for modern works to drain the road. These rifle pits surrounded Cornwallis at Yorktown, and from them was fought the closing battle of the revolution. May they serve the same good purpose for us now!

April 30.—The last two weeks have glided quietly away without incident except the arrival of new neighbors—Dr. Y., his wife, two children, and servants. That a professional man prospering in Vicksburg should come now to settle in this retired place looks queer. Max said:

“H., that man has come here to hide from the conscript officers. He has brought no end of provisions, and is here for the war. He has chosen well, for this county is so cleaned of men it won’t pay to send the conscript officers here.”

Our stores are diminishing and cannot be replenished from without; ingenuity and labor must evoke them. We have a fine garden in growth, plenty of chickens, and hives of bees to furnish honey in lieu of sugar. A good deal of salt meat has been stored in the smoke-house, and, with fish in the lake, we expect to keep the wolf from the door. The season for game is about over, but an occasional squirrel or duck comes to the larder, though the question of ammunition has to be considered. What we have may be all we can have, if the war last five years longer; and they say they are prepared to hold out till the crack of doom. Food, however, is not the only want. I never realized before the varied needs of civilization. Every day something is “out.” Last week but two bars of soap remained, so we began to save bones and ashes. Annie said: “Now, if we only had some china-berry trees here we shouldn’t need any other grease. They are making splendid soap at Vicksburg with china-balls. They just put the berries into the lye and it eats them right up and makes a fine soap.” I did long for some china-berries to make this experiment. H. had laid in what seemed a good supply of kerosene, but it is nearly gone, and we are down to two candles kept for an emergency. Annie brought a receipt from Natchez for making candles of rosin and wax, and with great forethought brought also the wick and rosin. So yesterday we tried making candles. “We had no molds, but Annie said the latest style in Natchez was to make a waxen rope by dipping, then wrap it round a corn-cob. But H. cut smooth blocks of wood about four inches square, into which he set a polished cylinder about four inches high. The waxen ropes were coiled round the cylinder like a serpent, with the head raised about two inches; as the light burned down to the cylinder, more of the rope was unwound. To-day the vinegar was found to be all gone and we have started to make some. For tyros we succeed pretty well.”


Note: To protect Mrs. Miller’s job as a teacher in New Orleans, the diary was published anonymously, edited by G. W. Cable, names were changed and initials were often used instead of full names — and even the initials differed from the real person’s initials.
From Eliza’s Journal.

S. S. Daniel Webster.

Just before sunset, last night, we passed the mouth of the York River, and could see our gunboats and a fleet of some four hundred sloops and schooners lying a little way up it—among them our fleet, Franklin’s Division, still lying off Ship Point. We made our way in among them and dropped anchor just off the Point within a stone’s throw of the rebel barracks, now used as a hospital for our men. After dark we could see the lights of the fleet all around us like the lamps of a great city on the shores of a harbor, and these, with the camp-fires on shore lighting up the horizon, and the little row-boats darting about, dashing up phosphorescence at every stroke of the oar, made the scene a magical one; while the bugle calls and regimental bands on the different boats increased the effect. Joe’s boat, the Daniel Webster No. 2, lies further away from us up towards Cheese-man’s Creek. . . .

Georgeanna’s Journal.

Next morning Mr. Olmsted hailed the steamer which carried the 16th New York, to “let the Colonel know that his wife was on board among the nurses.” He received an acknowledgment from the Colonel in the form of a check for one thousand dollars for the Sanitary Commission, and what was still better, Mr. O. said, a note of hearty appreciation of the Commission’s work for the soldiers. Joe soon came over to the steamer himself, and Lenox Hodge, who was with a Philadelphia detail of surgeons on the steamer Commodore, also came on board.