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

The Diary of a Line Officer, Captain Augustus C. Brown, Co. H, 4th NY Heavy Artillery

West Bloomfield, n. Y., December 5th.

My official commitment to hospital at City Point in August, terminated my active military service. On the 25th of that month I was sent, with a party of sick and wounded officers, to Fortress Monroe, and thence by the steamship “Baltic,” to the officers’ hospital on Bedloe’s Island, in New York harbor, where I remained a victim of “cupping” and other surgical and medical treatment until September 18th. On that date, my application for a furlough having been granted, my father came for me and took me home, and it becoming apparent after three months’ experience that the opinion of the surgeon at City Point was likely to be verified, I was to-day mustered out of the military service of the United States by Special Order No. 431, issued by the War Department upon a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability contracted in such service.

Saturday, August 13th.

On awaking this morning I found that it was reported at the hospital that the Second Corps had gone up the James River towards Richmond, but I could get no definite information in regard to the movement. Taking my old hand-bag, which contained all my personal effects except the clothes I had on, my overcoat and sword, I went to the office of the hospital and told the surgeon-in-charge that I was going to find my company, which had gone up the river with the Second Corps. He seemed a little surprised, and turning to some record he had before him, informed me that on the application of Doctor Hoyt I had been received at the hospital as an officer invalided by sunstroke, and that under the regulations I could not leave until discharged by the proper medical authorities, and, upon my attempting to remonstrate, he ventured to suggest that Dr. Hoyt had probably saved my life by the trick he had played on me in leaving me at the hospital the night before, and advised me to accept the situation as I found it and go back to my ward and ask for a thorough physical examination. Rather reluctantly, but conscious that there might be some grounds for the advice, I followed it, and upon an examination by the medical staff was told that I was “unfit for duty,” one of the surgeons remarking “he may be good for something in six months, but the chances are that he never will be worth much.”

Friday, August 12th.

Have been in hospital four days and feel much better for the complete rest, the nourishing food and the medical treatment. My headache is considerably relieved, and I can move about quite well with the assistance of a cane. The doctor tells me that the Corps is to move to-day, but he professes ignorance as to its destination further than is indicated by the orders which he has received, which are to pack up his hospital and go to City Point. Of course I conclude that this is the expected movement to Washington, and I tell him that I must go and join my company. This he protests against, saying that I am in no condition to march to City Point, and that I can just as well ride in one of his ambulances to the Point and join my company there, so I go to camp and draw my pay, and returning to hospital, am toted off to City Point with the doctor and his cheerful outfit of sick and wounded. On arriving there not far from midnight, I find myself at the City Point General Hospital, where the doctor introduces me to one of the surgeons, and advising me to remain there for the rest of the night “and get a good sleep,” takes his departure.

Monday, August 8th.

As there appeared to be no likelihood of an immediate movement of the Second Corps, unless it might be to Washington, I concluded temporarily to accept the hospitality of Doctor Hoyt and went over to his hospital, and he at once put me to bed.

Sunday, August 7th.

Chaplain Carr held religious services in camp to-day and preached a sermon from the text, “The way of the transgressor is hard,” but I failed to get any new ideas on the general subject or to detect any particular appositeness in the proposition to our present situation. At 9 o’clock P. M. we were ordered to report to the First Division of the Second Corps which is commanded by General Barlow. This is the tenth disposition which has been made of us, and no wonder that we never know for any length of time where to apply for rations or other supplies.

Saturday, August 6th.

Four hundred men from the regiment were ordered on fatigue on the line of the Second Corps, and were employed to change a mortar battery into a gun battery. While wandering around through a camp near our own, I met Dr. Hoyt, whom I knew in Canandaigua, N. Y., when I was a law student in that village, and who is Surgeon of the 126th and now attached to one of the Division hospitals of the Second Corps. Noticing my generally dilapidated appearance and deliberate movements, he inquired what the matter was, and upon my telling him of my experience at City Point, and of one or two similar though less profound and protracted fainting spells, he said that I had undoubtedly had a light or partial sunstroke, and advised me to be very careful about exposing myself to heat or exertion, and thought I had better at once come to his hospital where he would have me admitted and could himself treat me. This was the first time that I had received any intimation that I was a victim of sun-stroke, and no suspicion of it had ever entered my mind for I had supposed that such a visitation meant instant death, having once seen a man fall forward out of the ranks and never move after he struck the ground and been informed that it was a case of sun-stroke, but from the symptoms which the doctor mentioned I was impressed with the possible accuracy of his diagnosis. However, I declined his kind offer to take me under his care and went back to camp.

Friday, August 5th.

We really expect now to go to Washington, and it is a subject of general rejoicing for almost any change will be welcome. The enemy is reported to have sprung three mines in front of the Ninth Corps to-day, but all the explosions occurred some distance outside of our works and an attack made at the same time proved a failure.

Thursday, August 4th.

Found myself quite weak and exhausted this morning, and experienced some difficulty in walking but managed to keep up and around the camp. Companies A and M returned from Siege Train Landing to-day and joined the regiment, and an order was received again assigning us to the Second Corps. Lieut. Col. Alcock, now in command of the regiment, reported to our new corps commander but nothing was done about breaking camp. It is rumored that the Second Corps is to be sent to Washington, though precisely why we are not informed.

Wednesday, August 3d.

All being quiet along the lines, I procured a horse and visited City Point for the first time since my arrival before Petersburg. While there I met one of our Assistant Surgeons, who had come down with an ambulance to get some ice and other needed medical supplies, and arranged to go back to camp in his company. The day was very warm, and when we were ready to start and while in the act of mounting my horse, I suddenly fainted, and the next thing of which I was conscious was the fact that I was lying on a blanket spread on the ice in the doctor’s ambulance, and I remained there most of the time until we reached our lines, my horse being led by the bridle behind us. The doctor seemed to regard my attack as not at all serious, and prescribed rest and a gentle tonic treatment, and I crawled into my bunk.

Tuesday, August 2d.

In camp all day except when temporarily detailed on fatigue duty.