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

David L Day–My diary of rambles with the 25th Mass

Off For Home.

On the 5th of October, two days before the expiration of our term of service, an order came to Price’s creek, ordering all those who were entitled to muster out to turn over to the proper authorities our arms and equipments and report at the railroad station near Fort Spinola. This was just after dinner. Capt. Emery sent to the pickets across the creek for all those who had not re-enlisted to report at quarters. In a few minutes we were all there; the captain read the order and the boys cheered. I was all ready to comply with the order, and bidding faithful Spitfire a long and final farewell, I handed it to the captain. It was soon found out what was up, and for the next half hour the enemy was left to take care of themselves, and all hands gathered at quarters to say their good-byes and see us off. We went aboard the cars at Port Spinola and picked up others along the road, arriving at Morehead about dusk. There about 100 of us went aboard the steamer Dudley Buck, and soon after were sailing out the harbor of Beaufort, leaving behind us the scenes of our triumphs and hardships. The next morning we were around Cape Lookout and out to sea. Pretty soon we saw the officers come up out of the cabin, they were talking among themselves and seemed to wear a troubled look. It was soon discovered that there was a lot of citizens aboard coming down with yellow fever, and before noon one was brought up out of the cabin dead and laid in a boat that hung on the davits.

An Indignation Meeting.

The boys held an indignation meeting, declaring it was wrong and cruel on the part of the government or other authorities to allow these men to come aboard, and it seemed to be the evident intent of the government or some one else to murder us. They had just tried to drown us and failing in that had now, after having gone through one of the most unheard of campaigns, and as though were too obstinate to die, would give us one more chance, and smuggle aboard a lot of yellow fever stricken devils to go home with us. The captain disclaimed all knowledge of how they came aboard, but it was evident they were here and couldn’t have got here without the knowledge and consent of somebody. They still further declared that those citizens were of no earthly use nor hadn’t been of any, they were simply buzzards who had run away from the draft in New York, and were now running away from the yellow fever, and as a measure of safety and self-protection it was voted to throw them all overboard. The captain thought that would be most too summary a way of disposing of them, besides we would be liable to a charge of mutiny and murder at sea. It certainly was no lack of will, but only our better judgment that prevented their being thrown overboard. We reached Fortress Monroe on the forenoon of the 7th and were detained several hours by some quarantine regulations, but were finally permitted to resume our journey.

In Quarantine.

On the morning of the 9th we sighted Sandy Hook, and on getting nearer we could see quite a fleet of vessels lying there. This was the lower quarantine. We ran through this, arriving at the upper quarantine at Staten Island about 10 a. m. We were now in sight of New York, and were buoyant in hope that we should soon be there. As we neared a big steamer lying in the middle of the channel we were hailed with “Steamer ahoy!” We slowed down and ran alongside. Some kind of an official came to the middle gangway and said:

“Where are you from?”

“Beaufort, North Carolina,”

“Any sick aboard?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any deaths?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How many days out?”


“How many deaths?”


“Four deaths in four days. About ship and go back to the Hook.”

Our hearts that a few moments before were buoyant with hope now sank within us. The Hook was a cold, dreary place, and there was no knowing how long we should have to stay, but it was easy enough to know that some of us wouldn’t stay there very long. We ran back to the Hook, and dropped anchor, not far from the large hospital ship.

After a little while we saw a gig lowered from the hospital ship; a man stepped in and was pulled alongside our boat; he climbed aboard and proved to be some kind of health officer. He looked us all over and then looked over the boat. He signaled a tug to run alongside, he hustled out those citizens, and put them aboard of it. He also took Samuel Champney of company D, whom he found lying down, and took them all over to the hospital ship. We bade Sam good-bye as he went over the side of the boat. We never saw him afterwards, and I have since learned that he died there. The next morning, when the gig was seen coming over, the call went over the boat: “All hands on deck; don’t be caught lying down; all out on deck!” When he came aboard he found us all fooling and knocking off caps. He looked us over and remarked that we didn’t seem to be ailing very much. He then looked the boat over and not finding any down took his leave, but if he could have looked through the side of the boat he would have seen half of us down by the time he was in his gig.

Capt. Denny of company K, who is in command of this detachment, and who is a genial, big-hearted man, said he would see what he could do for us. He went over to the hospital ship and a little while after we saw him on a tug going towards New York. I knew if there was any help for us, Capt. Denny was the man to do it. He is a good talker and great in diplomacy, and when he sets about a thing he is pretty sure to accomplish something. Tuesday night came but no Denny, and the question, “Where is Denny?” was oft repeated without an answer. I could but feel that the captain was working for us and no news was perhaps good news. Wednesday morning, the 12th, was a cold, bleak, cheerless morning, and we were growing weaker every hour, but all hands rallied on deck when that hospital fiend was seen coming. Noon came but no Denny. Where is Denny? What has happened to him? Can it be possible that he has deserted us? were questions that went unanswered. I said it was possible something may have happened to him, but I cannot believe he has deserted us. He is not that kind of a man, besides he would not miss taking us into Worcester for half the wealth of the city, but if he don’t come tonight, we will send Captains Parkhurst and Emery to see what has become of him.

About 3 p.m. we sighted a large tug coming through the narrows, and soon after it headed towards our boat. Long before it got within hail we saw a man in the bow, waving his cap. It was Capt. Denny. Deliverance had come, and I reckon when that hospital doctor heard our cheers, he must have thought we were not very badly affected with yellow fever. I had known Capt. Denny for several years before the war, but cannot remember when I was so glad to see him as I was that afternoon. The tug came alongside and we were not very long transferring ourselves aboard it and it was again heading for the city. We ran along the starboard side of the Norwich steamer, and boarded her at the forward gangway, and were bustled among the cotton bales and freight like so many lepers. We were not allowed abaft the forward gangway and were not troubled by visitors as no one cared to see the brave defenders. But we cared nothing about that so long as we were going towards home, and the accommodations were as good as we were accustomed to having..

We reached Norwich about 2 a.m. on the 13th, and went aboard the cars, arriving at Worcester at 4 o’clock. At this hour Worcester people were still wrapt in the arms of Morpheus and of course we didn’t meet with a very enthusiastic reception. Our little party formed on Foster street and noiselessly wended our way to the City Hall. A few stagglers who were around the depot reported our arrival and an hour after we received an invitation to go back to the depot refreshment room for lunch. This invitation was readily accepted and a famine was created in that refreshment room soon after our entrance. We had a good breakfast of hot coffee, cold meats, bread, pies, cakes, etc. After breakfast we returned to the hall to receive visitors, among the first of whom was Col. Pickett, whom was Col. Pickett, who warmly welcomed us, shaking hands with all. We were right glad to see our colonel, and learn that he was getting the better of his wounds received at Cold Harbor.

By 8 o’clock the hall was filled, and welcoming speeches were mad by his Honor Mayor Lincoln and others. After which it was proposed we make a parade and show ourselves over the city. This was objected to, not because we didn’t wish to please our Worcester friends, but because we were sick and tired, and had had enough of parades and marches; our thoughts were of home and we were in a hurry to get there. Free tickets were furnished us on all the railroads, and we were dismissed for a week or until our muster out. I arrived home at noon, agreeably surprising my family, who were not expecting me for a week to come.

On the 20th of October we again met in Worcester for muster out and discharge papers. I was once more a free man, having been under the care and keeping of others a little more than thirty-seven months.

Closing Scenes.

Two months later we again met in Worcester to be paid off. This was to be our last meeting, henceforth we should travel in different paths and our meetings would be only by chance if ever. Shaking hands and wishing each other all manner of good fortune, we said our good-byes and parted. I have been through it and have had a great experience. I shall have no regrets that I did not go and have brought back no sorrowing memories. I have done what I could to preserve the union of the states. I have met the enemies of the country face to face, and done what I could to roll back the tide of rebellion, and if I have been of any little service to the country, I am glad of it. With all the officers of the regiment my relations have always been on the most amicable footing, and I am vain enough to believe that they will all bear me witness that I have always cheerfully obeyed all their commands and done all the duty required of me; that I have always treated them politely and shown them all the respect due their rank. In my little sports and jokes I have shown no partiality, and I trust there is no one who bears any malice towards me on that account. I have brought from the field no resentments or animosities towards any, but shall always hold in pleasing remembrance all, both living and dead, with whom I have been associated.

Let him not boast who puts his armor on
Like him who lays it off, his battle done.


We Leave Virginia.

Newbern, Sept. 15. On the 5th of this month the 23d and 25th Massachusetts embarked on the steamer Winona, from Bermuda Hundred bound for Newbern. The 9th New Jersey and 27th Massachusetts embarked on another boat at the same time for the same destination. On the morning of the 6th we ran up to Portsmouth, taking our camp equipage and knapsacks aboard, and ran back into Hampton Roads and anchored. There was a heavy storm blowing outside and we lay at our anchorage all day the 7th. On the 8th we steamed up and anchored off Fortress Monroe, but soon received orders to put out to sea. The captains of both boats objected to going, saying it was too rough to venture outside. On the morning of the 9th we received peremptory orders to pull up our mudhooks and start. Then ensued a sharp correspondence between our captain and some one in the fort, said to be Gen. Butler, and it certainly sounded a great deal like him. The captain objected to taking out his boat on the ground that she was only a light river boat and entirely unfit for an ocean trip, and besides was only chartered for the bay and rivers, and he did not feel like taking her out without first consulting her owners at Baltimore. Word came back that it made no difference about the owners or for what she was chartered, the boat was going to Newbern or go to pieces. In this dilemma the captain said that the boat might go but that he shouldn’t take the responsibility of taking her out. Soon word came back that he would take her out, or go into the fort, wearing a ball and chain. The captain, finding himself of no more account than a common soldier, was obliged to accept the situation. Toward night our consort, which was a sea-going boat, led off, we following after.

I felt a little nervous about going out to sea in so frail a craft, and thought it rather rough that after having gone through what we had we should be taken out to sea and drowned. I comforted myself with the thought that soldiers were not supposed to have any choice in the manner of their death. We found it rough going round Cape Henry, as there is almost always a chop sea there even in mild weather. Getting around the cape, we encountered heavy swells and rollers and every little while a big roller would strike us under the port guard and make every timber in the old craft snap. I expected every minute to see the guard, if not the whole deck torn off. I remained awake the whole night watching our consort, which kept just ahead of us, and reckoned on my chance for a swim.

We reached Hatteras inlet early on the morning of the 10th, and landed at Fort Spinola, on the south side of the Trent river at Newbern, in the afternoon. After landing we marched up into the camp of the 9th Vermont—a sick, ragged, dirty, lousy crowd. The Vermonters gathered wonderingly around us, extending us every sympathy and hospitality that lay in their power. The old regiment was divided off into three or four small companies, one of which under command of Capt. Emery, was sent out to Price’s creek, about a mile from here, to go into quarters and do some light picket duty. We have once more got ourselves cleaned up, our hair trimmed and dressed in clean, whole clothing, and begin to look quite like ourselves again.

We are again on our old stamping ground, but, alas, how changed! Only a small remnant now remains of that grand old regiment that left Worcester three years ago. They fill honored graves on half a hundred battlefields, they are inmates of every hospital from Boston to Newbern, and are wasting away in rebel prisons; a handful only remaining to tell the sad tale. In a few days more they will be still further decimated by a hundred or more whose time will be out and go home. The whole south for the past three years has been singularly exempt from the scourge of yellow fever, but it has now broken out in Newbern, and is raging to a great extent, 30 or 40 dying daily. It has not yet reached the camps outside the city, and hopes are entertained that it will not.

I Rejoin My Regiment.

Sept. 2. About a week ago my brigade, Gen. Stannard commanding, left the trenches and was ordered into camp at Cobb’s Hill; all the convalescents belonging to it were ordered to rejoin it. When I was about leaving, all my darkies gathered around me to give me their blessing and say their goodbyes. They were earnest in their thanks for the kind treatment they had received and expressed their regrets at my leaving them. I told them to be good boys and do their duty, and they would surely receive their reward. It is possible the poor devils will miss me, as I have been to them not only ward-master, but doctor, nurse and attendant. I think I have been very successful with them in the little time I have had charge of them, having lost by death only three and I think there is small chance of anymore of them dying at present, unless they should happen to be struck by lightning.

Our brigade musters scarcely 1000 men for duty, and in a few weeks will be still further reduced by the expiration of the terms of service of those not re-enlisting. I learn that in a few days we go to Newbern, N. C, to relieve a full brigade which is ordered up here. Our old lines here are now nothing more than skirmish lines on either side, with a few pickets between. There is no firing from either side, and all is still and quiet as Sunday. The pickets keep up a truce between themselves, and although against orders, trading and communicating are carried on between them. I called on my old friend Lieut. McCarter of company B. He is now on Gen. Stannard’s staff, and is serving as brigade commissary, which gives him a fine opportunity to entertain his friends. It has been several months since I saw Mac, but he is the same genial, good-natured fellow as ever. Of course our greetings were cordial. He says the job is more to his liking than dodging shell at Cold Harbor, and the only disagreeable thing about it is in lugging water to make his accounts balance.


The Christian and Sanitary Commissions.

August 20. I have read a great deal in the papers of the Christian and Sanitary commissions, of the noble and humane work they were doing and the immense amount of money contributed for their support by the people throughout the north and west. I have taken a great interest in these commissions and have supposed they were a kind of auxiliary to the medical and surgical department of the army, carrying and dispensing some simple medicines, pouring in the balm of gilead and binding up gaping wounds, giving comfort and consolation to the sick, weary and distressed; but in all this, so far as my observation has gone. I find I have been laboring under a delusion. Since I have been here is the first I have ever seen of the workings of these commissions, and I have watched them with some interest and taken some pains to find out about them. Here is a branch of each, located midway the convalescent camp and sick hospital, and I find they are little else than sutler’s shops, and poor ones at that. These places arc said to furnish without money and without price to the inmates of this hospital and the boys in the trenches such little notions and necessities as we have been accustomed to buy of the sutlers, and in consequence of this no sutlers are allowed to locate anywhere in this vicinity. The boys are not supposed to be fooling away their money to these thieving sutlers when our folks at home are willing to supply our little needs, free gratis for nothing. So when we happen to want a lemon or a pencil, a sheet of paper or a piece of tobacco, or whatever other little notion we require, all we have to do is to apply to one or the other commission and make known our wants; after answering all the questions they are pleased to ask we are given a slice of lemon, a half sheet of paper or a chew of tobacco. These are not wholesale establishments.

Fortunately for me I have stood in very little need of anything within their gift. I seldom solicit any favors and those are granted so grudgingly I almost despise the gift. My first experience with these institutions was one day when I was out of tobacco, I called on the Christians and told them how I was situated. I got a little sympathy in my misfortunes and a short lecture on the sin of young men contracting such bad habits, when I was handed a cigar box containing a small quantity of fine cut tobacco and told to take a chew. I asked them if they couldn’t let me have a small piece that would do me for a day or two. “Oh, no; that is not our way of doing business.” “Will you sell me a piece? I would as soon buy of you as of the sutler.” “Oh no; it is against our orders to sell anything. All there is here is free, it costs you nothing.” He then put up a small quantity and gave me. The next day I sent down to the Point and bought some. My next call was for a pencil. I was handed a third of one. I said if that is the best you can do perhaps you had better keep it. He then gave me a whole one. I got out of writing paper and thought I would beg some. I called for it, and was given a half sheet. I used that and went for more, and when I had finished my letter, I had been six times to the Christian’s. I sent down to the Point and bought some. I sometimes think I should like a lemon, but there is poor encouragement for calling for one, as I notice that others calling for them only get a thin slice of one.

This is the first place I ever got into where I could neither buy, steal nor beg. I notice the officers fare a little better; they get in fair quantity almost anything they call for. I sometimes stand around for an hour and watch the running of this machine and wonder that in this business of giving goods away where the necessity for lying comes in, and yet I notice that this is practiced to some extent. Sometimes a person calling for an article will be told they are out of it, but expect some when the team come up from the Point. In a little while after perhaps some officer will call for the same thing and get it.

This Christian commission seems to be the headquarters for visitors. They stay a few days, going as near the trenches as they dare to, and in the chapel tent in the evening will tell over their adventures and pray most fervently for the boys who hold them. We are never short of visitors, as soon as one party goes, another comes, and they all seem to be good Christian men, taking great interest in the welfare of our souls.

A Character.

Among our visitors is a tall, lean, middle-aged man whom I know must have seen right smart of trouble. His face is snarled and wrinkled up in such a way that it resembles the face of a little dog when catching wasps. Although there is no benevolent expression on his countenance, he yet has more sympathy to the square inch than any other man I ever saw. He takes a great interest in this convalescent camp and seems to have taken it under his special charge. He will be in this camp all day, calling on all hands, inquiring after their health and needs, praying with them, giving them sympathy and good advice. He will come round giving a thin slice of lemon to all who will take it, and will sometimes go through the camp with a basket of linen and cotton rags and a bottle of cologne, sprinkling a little on a rag and give it to any one who will take it and at the same time will distribute religious tracts. Some days he will come round with a bottle of brandy and some small lumps of sugar, on which he will drop three or four drops of the brandy and give it to any one who says they are troubled with bowel complaints, at the same time telling them he hopes it will do them good.

One day he came along distributing temperance tracts. He looked into my tent and inquired if there were any objections to his leaving some. I replied there were no reasons known to exist why he might not leave all he wished to. I then said: “You are laboring in a very worthy cause, but you seem to be working the wrong field, or as Col. Crockett used to say, barking up the wrong tree, for we here might just as well cast our nets into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, thinking to catch speckled trout as to think of getting any liquor. Your field of labor would seem to he up in the officers’ ward where you deal out your liquors.” The old gentleman sighed at such perverseness and went along. He will work this camp all day from early morning till night, giving every one something, and in all that time will not give away the value of fifty cents.

Now I don’t wish to cast any reflections or create any false impressions in regard to these commissions. I have only written my experience and observations as to their workings in this convalescent camp. So far as anything that I know to the contrary, they may be doing a great and humane work in the wounded and sick hospital, and I am charitable enough to allow that they are, but if the whole system of it throughout the army is conducted as niggardly as I have seen it here then there must be some superb lying done by somebody to account for all the money that is being contributed for its support.

Ned Carter The Blacksmith.

August 8. When I first came here I was pretty well used up, but thanks to my friends, Garland of company C and Wheelock and Aldrich of my own company (who are attaches of this hospital), and also to Miss Dame for their attention, kindness and favors, I am feeling the best now I have any time this summer. For their sympathy, attentions and kind offices, I am under a debt of everlasting gratitude.

Within a week two of my sick men have died and another is fast going. One of them was a character in his way. As near as one can guess the age of a darky I should judge he was about 60 years old, and rather an intelligent man. He always called himself Ned Carter the blacksmith, and delighted in having others call him so. He would talk by the hour of old times, about his old master, and the good times and good cheer they used to have at Christmas time. When I first took this ward I saw that Ned was a sick darky and told him to have things his own way; if he felt like sleeping in the morning and didn’t want to come out to roll call I would excuse him. I noticed that he seldom went for his rations, but would send his cup for his coffee and tea. He said there was very little at the kitchen he could eat. I asked him what he could eat. He said he thought some cracker and milk would taste good. I took his cup up to Miss Dame and asked her if she would give me some condensed milk and a few soda crackers for a sick darky. She gave them to me, and Ned Carter the blacksmith was happy. The convalescent camp is not allowed anything from the sick kitchen, except by order of Doctor Fowler, so any little notion I get from there is through the kindness of Miss Dame or my friend Wheelock. I have often carried Ned a cup of tea and a slice of toast, with some peach or some kind of jelly on it, and the poor fellow could express his gratitude only with his tears, he had no words that could do it. One morning after roll call I went to his little tent and called Ned Carter the blacksmith. I got no response, and thinking he might be asleep I looked in. Ned Carter the blacksmith was gone, but the casket that had contained him lay there stiff and cold.

I Receive An Appointment.

August 1. The ward next me on the left is a colored one, and contains from 60 to 80 men, according to recruits and drafts. Until recently they have been pretty much on their own hook, no one seeming to care for them. Some days ago Doctor Sadler asked me if I would take charge of them. I said I should like to do anything where I could be of any use. He gave me my instructions and some blank reports, and set me up in business. My duties are to attend roll-calls, surgeon’s calls, keep an account of arrivals, discharges, desertions, deaths, march them up to the kitchen three times a day for rations and make my report to him every morning. Entering on the discharge of my duties the first thing I did was to set them to work cleaning and fixing up their quarters, so they would be more comfortable.

A couple of hours’ work showed a great improvement in the condition of things, and while it was being done it gave me a chance to find out who among them were the worst off and needed the most care and favors. A sick nigger is a curious institution and you can’t tell so well about him as you can about a sick mule. He can put on the sickest look of anything I ever saw and appear as though he would die in seven minutes, but a nigger is never really sick but once, and is then sure to die. There is no more help for one than there is for a sick pig. I have three that are sick and I have no more faith in their getting well than I have that Gen. Lee will drive Gen. Grant from before Petersburg. Two of them are now unable to attend the surgeon’s call in the morning and the other I expect will be in a few days. I have about 40 hobbling around with canes, spavined, ring-boned and foundered. The others arc simply a little war-worn and tired.

The kitchen is about 30 rods from the camp, and when I march them up there there are so many lame ones they straggle the whole distance. Doctor Sadler called my attention to this and said he should like to see them march in little better order. I replied: “Surgeon, come out in the morning and see the parade; you will see them marching a 28 inch step and closed up to 18 inches from stem to stern.” He promised he would. The next morning at breakfast call I formed every one of those darkies that carried canes on the right, and the very lamest I put at the head of the column, and gave them a send-off. It was a comical show, they marched at the rate of about one mile an hour, and those in the rear kept calling out to those in advance: “Why don ye goo long dar! Hurry up dar; shan’ get breakfas’ fo’ noon.” They kept closed up a good deal better than they kept the step as the rear crowded the advance to push them along. We were cheered along the route as almost everybody was out to see the fun. We marched in review before the doctor, and by the way he laughed and shook himself I thought he was well satisfied with the parade, at any rate he complimented me on my success when I carried in my morning report.

One day one of my fellows came to me for a pass to go fishing. He said he could catch as many bull-heads as would do us two for three days. I gave him a pass, but didn’t see anything of him again for four days. When I asked him where he had been so long, he looked pretty sober for a minute or two, and then rolling around the whites of his eyes and showing his teeth, said: “Yah, yah, yah! ize no idee ize don gon so long; yah, vah, yah.”

Hospital Life.

July 20. Thus far I have been unable to discover any .charms in hospital life. With fair health the active camp is far preferable. This hospital is divided into three departments. The first is the officers’ ward, the second is the hospital for the wounded and very sick, and the third is the convalescent camp. The first two are in large hospital tents and are furnished with cots, mattresses and other necessary conveniences. In the third are more than 600 men, quartered under shelter tents. I am in this department. It is not supposed that there are any sick men here. They are all either dead beats or afflicted with laziness, and a draft is made from among them twice a week for the front. I had been here only four days when I was drawn, but Garland of company C, who is an attache at Doctor Sadler’s office, saw my name on the roll and scratched it off. Although there are none here supposed to be sick, there seems to be a singular fatality among them as we furnish about as large a quota every day for the little cemetery out here as they do from the sick hospital. But then in a population of 600 or more, three or four deaths a day is not surprising. I have been here three weeks and have been drafted four times, but with my friend Garland’s help I have escaped. 1 should be pleased to be back with the boys if I was only half well, but I reckon I shall not be troubled with any more drafts. Doctor Hoyt sent a man back the other day. The next morning he was sent up with a sharp note to Doctor Sadler, saying that he didn’t send men to the hospital that were lit for duty and didn’t want them sent back until they were. That roused Doctor Sadler’s ire, and he says when Hoyt wants Irishmen he can send for them.

Doctor Sadler has the whole charge of the convalescent camp, and has several young fellows, assistant surgeons so called, on his staff. Some of these fellows I should think had been nothing more than druggists’ clerks at home, but by some hook .or crook have been commissioned assistant surgeons and sent out here. Every morning all who are able in all the ten wards go up to be examined and prescribed for by these new fledged doctors, and those not able to go seldom receive any medical attendance, but it is just as well and perhaps better that they do not go, as the skill of these young doctors is exceedingly limited. Doctor Sadler is a fine man and a skilful surgeon. He comes around occasionally, visiting those who are not able to go out and prescribes for them, and for a day or two afterwards the assistants will attend to those cases. These assistants make the examinations and draft the men for the front, after which they are again examined by Doctor Sadler and frequently a number of them will not be accepted, and the assistants oftentimes need not feel very much flattered by some remarks of the doctor.

This convalescent camp holds its own in spite of all the drafts made on it. Recruits arrive daily and the drafts are made twice a week, sending back 50 or 100 at each draft. When a draft is made one of the assistants comes into a ward and orders it turned out, and every man not down sick abed turns out. The ward-master forms them in single rank and the inspection begins. They commence on the right and go through the ward, making the same examinations and asking the same questions of every man in the ward. They feel the pulse and look at the tongue, and if those are right they are booked for the front. They remind me of horse jockeys at Brighton, examining horses. Some of the boys who are well enough but are in no hurry to go back, chew wild cherry or oak bark to fur their tongues and are thus exempted until Doctor Sadler gets hold of them, when they have to go. We get some recruits from the other hospital, for as soon as a sick or wounded man there is declared convalescent he is sent here.

A good joke occurred one morning when one of them was drafted for the front. He had been slightly wounded in the leg and was getting around with a crutch. When his ward was ordered out for draft he fell in with the rest, and the doctor, not noticing the crutch, but finding his pulse and tongue all right, marked him as able-bodied. When Sadler inspected them, he said to this fellow: “What are you here for?” “Going to the front, I suppose; there is where I am ticketed for.” Sadler laughed, and said: “I’ll excuse you.” Then turning to his assistant, remarked: “We are not yet so hard up for men as to want three-legged ones.” That assistant looked as though he wished he was at home under his mother’s best bed.

This whole hospital is under the management of a Doctor Fowler, and as far as I am able to judge is well and skilfully managed. The cuisine is excellent and far better than could be expected in a place like this. The hospital fund as fast as it accrues is expended for vegetables, fruits, milk, butter, cheese, preserves and many other things which the government is not supposed to furnish. The kitchen is in two departments, one where are cooked and served out the meats, soups, vegetables and other food for the convalescent. In the other are cooked the roasts, steaks, broths, beef tea and all kinds of light diet for the officers’ ward and the sick and wounded department. The light diet is presided over by an angel of mercy in the person of a Miss Dame who is the hospital matron.

18th Corps Hospital, Point or Rocks, Sunday, July 10, 1864. I have been here a little more than a week and begin to feel a little rested. I have not written a letter for more than a month and about everything has been neglected. I hung around the regiment as long as Ass’t Surgeon Hoyt would allow me to, and the first of the month he piled me into an ambulance and sent me here, saying 1 could have a much better celebration here than I could in the trenches. This was my first ride in an ambulance and I didn’t enjoy it worth a cent. I have always had a strong aversion to that kind of conveyance and have always clung to the hope that I might be spared from it. My health began to fail early in the spring. I said nothing about it, thinking I should improve as the weather grew warmer, but instead of improving I grew worse, until now I am unfit for anything. At first I was terribly afflicted with piles, then chills and fever, and now I have a confirmed liver complaint which no amount of blue mass, calomel or acids affect in the least unless it is to help it along. 1 reckon if I can keep pretty quiet and can hold out till I get home I shall stand a chance to recover from it, but it will be a slow job.

On The Sick List.

May 18. Since the affair over on the railroad, I have been on the sick list and have suffered severely with chills and fever and from other onuses. I am not yet able to do much and I fear I shall not be able to go on many more excursions with the boys. The regiment has been out nearly every day, and has suffered a loss of more than 200 men, killed, wounded and prisoners. In the fight at Drury’s Bluff, two mornings ago, we lost heavily, some 150 men being killed, wounded or taken prisoners. Heckman’s brigade was almost annihilated. He was taken prisoner together with Capt. Belger, who lost four pieces of his battery, and Col. Lee, with nearly the whole of the 27th Massachusetts regiment, besides a good many officers and men of the 23d Massachusetts and 9th New Jersey.

We Leave Yorktown.

May 8. On the afternoon of the 4th we went aboard the boats and dropped anchor at Fortress Monroe at dusk. The next morning we started up the James river. The river was alive with boats, schooners, tugs, gunboats, monitors and everything that could float, all loaded to their fullest capacity with troops, horses, artillery and all the paraphernalia of war. We passed Jamestown in the afternoon. Nothing now remains to mark the spot where the first settlement in Virginia was made, but a pile of bricks which composed a part of one of the buildings. We reached City Point just before night. Gen. Heckman’s brigade landed on the Bermuda Hundred side and bivouacked a short distance from the landing, all the other troops remaining aboard the boats. The gunboats and monitors commenced fishing for torpedoes and working their way up the James and Appomatox rivers.

The next morning, the 6th, the troops commenced to land and Heckman’s brigade was ordered to advance. We marched up the country six or seven miles, getting on to high ground and what is called Cobb’s Hill. From here the spires of the churches, in Petersburg can be seen, while in front of us is a kind of valley. At this point the Appomatax river turns in a southwesterly direction. On the banks between us and Petersburg was a battery. This is called a good position and here we halted. We sat here under a burning sun, watching the long lines of troops come up and file off to the right into the woods towards the James river until past the middle of the afternoon, at which time the whole of the 18th and 10th corps., comprising the army of the James, under Gen. B. F. Butler, had arrived.

Heckman’s Brigade Leads Off The Dance.

About 4 p. m., Gen. Heckman is ordered to make a reconnoisance towards the Petersburg and Richmond railroad. We moved down the valley in a southwesterly direction, and when about three miles out the 27th Massachusetts were advanced as skirmishers. A mile or two farther on we began to hear scattering shots, indicating that our skirmishers had found game. We hurried on and found the enemy in a shallow cut, on a branch railroad running from Port Walthal to the Petersburg and Richmond road. A sharp skirmish ensued, lasting till near dark, when Heckman withdrew, having accomplished his purpose of finding the enemy. In this skirmish the 25th lost four killed and several wounded.

The next morning, the 7th, we moved on them in force, Gen. Brooks’ division moving directly on the Petersburg and Richmond railroad. Heckman’s brigade, with a section of a battery, were ordered to occupy the ground of the night before. The enemy were in strong force and opened on us with artillery. Heckman paid no attention to that, but moved his battalions into line on the field in columns by division, and ordered them to lie down. The 25th were partially covered by a slight roll of ground in our front, while the 27th Massachusetts on our left were badly exposed to the enemy’s fire and were suffering severely. Heckman saw the situation and ordered Col. Lee to move his regiment to the rear of us. He then ordered forward his artillery, placing them in battery in our front and set them to work. They made the rail fences and dust fly right smart. After a few shots had been fired a loud explosion was heard, followed by a big cloud of smoke, dust and debris in the enemy’s line. One of their caissons had blown up, and our boys rose up and gave rousing cheers. Our guns continued shelling them, but got no return fire, their ammunition was probably exhausted and their guns perhaps disabled.

There was no infantry firing on either side, we simply holding our line and watching events. Heavy firing was heard over on the railroad. Brooks was at them and a fight for the railroad was going on. We were masters of the situation here and were able to protect his flank. About noon the enemy got an old gun into position and commenced throwing chunks of railroad iron at us. This caused considerable sport among the boys and they would cheer them lustily every time they fired, but a few shots from our guns, put a quietus on that sport. I have often read and heard of that kind of practice, but never saw any of it until now.

In the afternoon a battery of four 20-pounder parrott guns drove up, taking positions on a roll of ground some 20 rods in our rear and commenced firing. I at first thought they were shelling the enemy in front of us, and was a little surprised at it as all was quiet on both sides. But I soon noticed they were not. I got permission from Capt. Emery and went up there. Here was a signal officer, and nearly half a mile away to the northwest was a group of men signaling to this battery. The guns were at quite an elevation, and they would train them a little to the right or left, as directed by the signal officer. They were throwing. shells over the woods and dropping them among the enemy over on the railroad, some two miles away. Those shells were reported to be very annoying to the enemy and of great service to Brooks. It was splendid artillery practice and I was greatly interested in it. While watching them shy those shells over the woods I wondered where those devils over there thought they came from.

Towards night it was signaled that Brooks had accomplished his purpose, tearing up several miles of road and was drawing back to our line. The day’s work was over and we drew back to Cobb’s Hill. In this day’s fight the 27th Massachusetts sustained its greatest loss, while the 25th suffered the worst in last night’s affair. The heat was intense, and the men suffered severely, many of them being prostrated and carried back in ambulances.