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

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Tuesday, April 4. — Started to join the regiment. Went about 3 miles, and found General Meade’s headquarters. Saw Generals Webb and Macy, and all the staff. Found that my regiment was but a little way in rear. Went back and joined them. Met with quite a pleasant reception from officers and men. We marched about 2 miles and then halted. Saw Loring and Van Buren. Marched till about 7, and then went into camp. Routed out at 9, and marched to Ford’s Station, where we picketed the railroad. Got to bed about 4.45 A.M. Had about an hour’s sleep.

Monday, April 3. — Reached Fortress Monroe about 7.30. A.M. Several officers came on board. Among others Colonel Cutting of General Burnside’s staff. Heard that an attack had been ordered on Petersburg by the Sixth and Ninth Corps. Colonel Jarves was left here. Reached City Point at 3 P.M., when we heard the glorious news of the capture of Petersburg, and the evacuation of Richmond. Saw thousands of prisoners who had been captured by our army, many of them guarded by marines and sailors, who seemed to enjoy their duty hugely. Took the train for the front, and by General Warren’s advice got out at Meade Station. Sent my things into Petersburg by a mail wagon. Crossed our lines through Fort Stedman and went to General Willcox’s headquarters in Petersburg. Could find out nothing about our division. Saw the quartermaster sergeant, and took his horse. Left Captain Shurtleff with baggage. Rode about 8 or 9 miles and met our train. Stayed over night with Lieutenant French.

Sunday, April 2, 1865. — Left Washington at 3, in the boat for City Point. Had a very pleasant sail down the river. Colonel Jarves and Captain Shurtleff were with me. Met Colonel Forbes on the boat.

Tuesday, December 13. — Fair day. Passed Hatteras about 4 P.M. Could see the lighthouse. Hardly any one sick.

[For some reason or other I stopped keeping a diary regularly after my release. I suppose that I was so glad to be getting nearer home that I did not care about writing any more. Anyway, we were landed at New York, and I went home. I had got leave of absence from Annapolis, so did not have to stay there. I remember getting off at the station in Jamaica Plain, and my father coming to meet me, expecting to find a skeleton. I suppose I was rather thin, but I was pretty well on the whole.

I add, as a sort of supplement, some notes which I made in the autumn of 1885; also a few letters which I wrote home immediately before and after the close of the war.]

Monday, December 12. — We are fairly on our way. Started with a fair wind and a clear sky about 8 A.M. Bumped on the bar three or four times. Wind was from the west, so that we had all our sails set. Passed Frying-Pan Shoals this evening.

Sunday, December 11.— This morning it was pleasant and clear, so that I had a chance to see Morris, James and Sullivan’s Islands. In the afternoon, about 5 o’clock, we were transferred to the United States, a propeller. These were chiefly field officers. Rebel flag-of-truce boats were out again this afternoon.

Saturday, December 10. — Reached a station about 15 miles from Charleston at 6 A.M. Got breakfast there through the influence of the conductor. Charge $500! Reached Charleston, where we were with a Colonel Hatch. He told us we were to go to the Pavilion Hotel, as it was doubtful if we could get to our boat on account of the fog. Were taken to the hotel. Colonel Hatch called the colonels in and gave us a drink of whiskey and made us a speech, etc. As the fog soon cleared up, we were sent down to the boat, a blockade-runner. Saw the effect of the shells on the city, which, by the way, is very old-fashioned looking. Almost every house in the lower portion has a shell-hole in it. Were taken out and transferred to our boat, the George Leary. Saw all the fortifications, etc. Day rainy and misty.

Friday, December 9. — We bought ourselves some rations and started for the depot at 10.30 A.M. There were eight in all. We reached the depot about 11 o’clock and had to wait there in the cold until 3.30, when a party of 185 officers came from the camp. Major Forbes was among them. Started immediately for Charleston in a drizzling rain. Stopped at Kingsville for refreshments. Charge $10, or your brains blown out. As the box cars were very cold I managed to get into the conductor’s car, where there was a fire.

Thursday, December 8. — Day passed as usual. About 5 P.M. Major Griswold and a Mr. Isaacs came into the room. They had a list for exchange with them. My name was on it, thank God! Colonel Marshall, Colonel Buffum, Sterling, Captain Norris and Sherman were also on the list. Had a regular scrape-down all night. All of us were sorry for Captain Amory, whose name was not on the list.

Wednesday, December 7. — Rained a little in the morning. Cleared off during the day. Received news of Hood’s defeat at Franklin. Wheeler whipped by Sherman. Exchange resumed at Charleston.