May 3. On the 27th of April we broke camp at Getty’s station, arriving here about dark, and marched up the Williamsburg road about two miles where we bivouacked. On this trip we were furnished transportation. On the morning of the 29th we were ordered into camp about three miles higher up the road. We had not much more than got up there when an order came for us to report at the landing immediately. We now had a five mile march before us, with the dust in the road about three inches deep. This was no march but a race, the companies trying to run past each other and get the advance to shield themselves from the dust. The colonel let them have it their own way and they made the dust fly right smart. We made the distance in less than an hour and on arriving at the landing looked like walking dirt heaps. A guard was placed along the bank of the river to prevent our washing in it for fear of creating a sand bar. There didn’t appear to be anything wanted of us after we got here and we are now in camp on the bluff just above the landing.
Our brigade now consists of the 9th New Jersey and the 23d, 25th and 27th Massachusetts, under command of Brig. Gen. C. A. Heckman, and is known as the 1st brigade, 2d division, 18th army corps, under command of Gen. William P. Smith, otherwise known as “Baldy.” Our knapsacks have been sent back to Portsmouth and we are now in light marching order, having only the clothing we have on and our blankets. Our camp equipage consists of two camp kettles for each company, and shelter tents. These tents are simply pieces of cotton cloth, about six feet long by four wide, made to button together, and every man is supplied with one which he carries with his blanket. Ordinarily they are used as blankets, but in ease of a storm three of them are buttoned together, two forming the roof and the other the end, which makes a kind of burrow which partly shelters three men. We fellows who are used to roughing it think it all well enough, but I feel sorry for the officers; it will come pretty hard on them. It is something they are not used to and besides it sort of reduces them to the ranks.
Yorktown is hardly as much today as it was the day of Cornwallis’ surrender, and I don’t think there has been a nail driven or an ounce of paint used since. There is the old church and about a dozen weather-beaten old houses, the most pretentious of which was Cornwallis’ headquarters.
The 18th corps are all here, infantry, artillery and cavalry, and yesterday Gen. Butler reviewed them. The review came off on the plain below the town and was quite an imposing affair. We came a very clever little dodge on the enemy last night. About midnight we were all routed up and every man given a chunk of raw salt pork. After standing there about half an hour holding our pork and awaiting further developments, we were then told we might go back to bed again. Now that was taking a mean advantage of a brave and chivalrous foe, thus to conceal the kind and quantity of our rations. They are probably thinking that we have nothing to eat and are keeping up their hopes that we shall soon surrender.