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

Civil War Diary of Charles H. Lynch, 18th Conn. Vol’s.

July 7th. Up early this morning. Waiting for our turn to come for our pay and discharge.

July 7th, 1865. The Eighteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, disbanded. Its members free citizens again. The separation was somewhat sad. We were happy that the end had come. Now came the last good-bye, as we grasped each other by the hand, looking into each other’s face, sad but happy. Our soldier life had come to an end. No more picket and guard duty. No more marching by day and night in all kinds of weather. No more camp life, sleeping on the ground in all kinds of weather. No more the long roll to call us out in the night. No more the danger from battle, sickness, or suffering from hunger and thirst. These things all helped to make the life of a soldier a very serious one. Left Hartford at 6 P. M. bound for Norwich, singing “Oh Happy Day.”

July 6th. Returned to Hartford to receive our final discharge. Waiting. Reported we must pass one more night in camp. We won’t mind a little thing like that. Tomorrow we will go free.

July 4th. A great parade and reception to our regiment. The welcome home was a grand time. During the march, on the parade, many people were in tears, and we knew the reason why. Their husbands and boys did not come home. While we were happy we did not forget the good fellows and the homes that contained a vacant chair. It was a great day in old Norwich. A Fourth that cannot be forgotten by those who participated in the parade. It was the last parade of the Eighteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Our guns and equipments were laid aside. No more cruel war for us.

July 1st. Arrived home last night at 9 o’clock. Great was the welcome home. Crowds were in waiting to receive us. Hearts full of thanksgiving that we were permitted to return to good old Connecticut. Soon made our way to our various homes.

June 30th. Very early this fine June morning our fife and drum corps went to the uppermost deck and beat the reveille, and played at all the river landings as the boat proceeded on up the river. It made good time, landing at Hartford about 7 o’clock, after a very pleasant journey from Martinsburg, West Virginia.

After we landed people began to come to the dock. After a time a detachment of the Hartford City Guard came to the dock as an escort. The regiment formed and with the escort, marched up State Street, thence up Main, countermarching to the State Capitol on Central Row, where Governor Buckingham, members of the legislature, and a few leading citizens, welcomed us home, and extended the thanks of the state for our patriotism and service. After the welcome and the addresses, breakfast was served at the hotels, our company going to the City Hotel. In the afternoon, regiment formed, marched out Park Street to a camp. Late in the afternoon we were allowed to go to our homes and remain over July 4th. Report back on the 6th for final discharge. Norwich. Home again.

June 29th. After an all-night’s ride we arrived in Philadelphia early this morning. Left the cars, taking up the line of march, on through the city. Stopped at the refreshment rooms of the Cooper Shop, when a good breakfast was served by the good people of the city. Many soldiers will remember the Cooper Shop refreshment rooms at Philadelphia. After breakfast again on the march through the city, going on board a ferry-boat, and like Washington we crossed the Delaware River, to Camden and Amboy Railroad station, boarding a train for South Amboy, so we were informed. Leaving Camden, our journey was a continuous ovation by the people along the railroad line through Jersey. Cheers, waving flags. Cities and villages had erected arches with “Welcome home to our soldier boys.” Whenever the train would stop people came with refreshments. They knew the boys were ever ready to eat the good things. The journey across the state of New Jersey was a grand reception. Through a fine country. It was a happy time, and nothing happened to mar the pleasure of the journey. It was a very happy time. Arrived at Amboy all right. It was a great port for coal, an interesting sight for us, never having seen so much coal at any one time. Here we left the cars. After a short march went on board a government transport, bound for New York City. The journey on boat was very pleasant and enjoyed. The trip was along the south side of Staten Island, on through the narrows between Long Island and Staten Island, passing Forts Hamilton and Wadsworth. Large camps were located at the forts. Cheers greeted us as we passed on to the city, landing at the Battery, where the trip ended. At Castle Garden we were served with rations, after which we marched to Peck Slip, along South Street, boarding the steamer Granite State, bound for Hartford. A disappointment to us, as we had expected to land at Norwich, our home town, from which point we left on going to the war. We were used to disappointments and got out of the trip through the East River all the enjoyment we could. Long after dark we lay down on the decks for a little sleep and rest, that we needed very much. We knew that in the night we would be sailing up the Connecticut River. The evening was fine, and the steamboat had on board a happy crowd.

June 28th. Harper’s Ferry. A fine morning. Early on board train, waiting for it to move. At 8 A. M. the train began to move slowly along the banks of the Shenandoah River, on over the iron bridge across the Potomac River, into Maryland. The cheering was loud, with shouts of “Good-bye old Virginia.” The cheering echoed and re-echoed between the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. I knew all the points of interest in this vicinity. We are in passenger cars, running along the banks of the Potomac River. At the Point of Rocks, about ten miles from Harper’s Ferry, the road turns to the left, headed to the north. At this point we bid farewell to the old Potomac. No more picket duty along its banks in all kinds of weather, watching for the enemy, and looking at the turkey buzzards as they go sailing through the air. Many times have I waded the old Potomac, swam in its water, drank it, made coffee, fished in it. When clear its waters appeared blue, or yellow from the storms. Either blue or yellow we were obliged to use it and make the best of it.

The country looked fine with its summer dress on, as we passed through it. Arrived in Baltimore this afternoon. Marched from the Camden Street station, across the city to the Philadelphia Railroad station. Passed through Pratt Street, the point where the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was attacked in April 1861. Soon on board train where hilarity continued. No one allowed to go to sleep. All are in good spirits and very happy as we go speeding on towards Philadelphia, bound for home.

June 27th. Taps sounded later than usual last night. When the lights were put out we could not sleep for joy, as we were all so happy over the prospect of going home. I cannot write and do justice to those happy hours. Will remain with me as long as memory lasts. The hymns heard mostly last night were “Oh Happy Day” and “We are going home, to die no more.” Everybody can sing at this time if they never can again. Reveille sounded very early this morning, for the last time at Martinsburg. Broke camp very early this morning. In line, waiting for orders to march. This is a fine morning. We shall soon be homeward bound. When orders were given to march great excitement prevailed. Cheers and shouting as we marched along, on through the town. The waving of flags, handkerchiefs, and “Good-bye boys” from the towns-people. On reaching the depot it did not take us very long to board the train, a gay and happy crowd. I was soon on top of a car, where I enjoyed riding when the weather would permit. In this section we always rode in box cars. The train left about 7 A. M., with cheers and shouting to and from old Martinsburg friends. The train soon rounded a curve and that scene was closed forever. We knew this railroad and country, having been over it a number of times by rail, and marching through it, during our service in the Shenandoah Valley. About 10 A. M. we arrived at Harper’s Ferry. Soon out of the cars and in line ready to march. Passed through Shenandoah Street. Entering an open lot, close in town, came to a halt, stacked arms. Must remain here until we are mustered out of the United States service. When we first entered Virginia, near three years ago, at Harper’s Ferry, our first stopping place was this very same place, or lot, where we are now waiting to be mustered out. Late this afternoon we were mustered out. Expect to go on board of train tonight, homeward bound.

June 26th. A bright Sunday morning. Everybody happy. Our last day in camp at Martinsburg, the Shenandoah Valley, where we have seen and passed through hard service during the past three years. As the time draws near we are anxious to go home, but there is somewhat of a feeling of sadness on leaving old Martinsburg, where we have made many friends. Our camp is about deserted. A few men remain on guard in charge of the camp. Some of the boys are in town visiting, and attending church. Others are tramping through the country, bidding good-bye to the farmers and taking a look at the fine scenery and country. We must all report back to camp in time for our last dress parade, at 5 P. M. At our dress parade was a large attendance of people from town. A short religious service was held by our Chaplain, Rev. Wm. C. Walker. It was made somewhat solemn by the good man, as the journey home was laid before us. Orders were also read to be ready to leave camp early on the morrow, at 5 A. M. This is a happy evening in camp. Singing all through the camp.

June 25th. Orders received to prepare for musterout. Details have been made from each company to help make out the muster-out papers. The companies that were out of town on duty, ordered to report at regimental quarters. All duties given up. Peace and quiet reigns in town and through the country.