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

Post image for Diary of David L. Day.

Diary of David L. Day.

August 12, 2013

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

An Inspection.

August 12. A few days ago orders came to get ready for inspection the next afternoon. All was now hurry and bustle, cleaning up camp, arms, equipments and clothing, and putting everything in order. The artillerists worked like beavers, cleaning up the gun carriages and limbers, using all the grease in the kitchen to brighten them up. The old brass guns were polished up and shone like mirrors and we were congratulating ourselves on being highly complimented.

At the appointed time, Lieut. Col. Moulton and Capt. Rawlston of somebody’s staff put in an appearance. The captain was the inspecting officer; a very airy, pompous young gentleman, with a remarkable faculty of making his weak points conspicuous. When the companies fell in, he noticed the artillery detail did not fall in and inquired the reason. Col. Moulton replied that they were expecting to be inspected as artillery. The captain said he knew nothing about that, he was sent here to inspect this detachment as infantry and every man must fall in. Now that was all right enough, only it placed me at a disadvantage, for I had taken no thought or care of Spitfire since my promotion and it was looking pretty bad. But I had no time to clean it up, and I must say it was a sorry looking piece to take out for a show. But as bad as it looked, I had the utmost confidence in its shooting qualities, in fact I have never lost confidence in Spitfire but once, that was when I dropped it in the creek at Goldsboro.

We were marched out and paraded, and after the inspecting officer had “sassed” Col. Moulton and nearly all the other officers, he commenced his job. He found right smart of fault, but didn’t find a really good subject until he came to me. He looked me over, and taking Spitfire gave it a very careful and thorough inspection. Handing it back he very gravely informed me that he had inspected the whole army of the Potomac and had never before seen a rifle looking so bad as Spitfire, and still further complimenting me by saying I was about the roughest looking sergeant he had ever seen. I nodded assent, venturing the remark that I had been in the artillery detail while here and my rifle had been somewhat neglected, but I had a gun on the Malakoff that could knock the spots off the sun. He allowed that that was insolence and any more of it would subject me to arrest. Imagine the indignation of the chief of artillery on being threatened with arrest by an infantry captain. My first impulse was to call my command, lash him to the muzzle of the gun on the Malakoff and give him rapid transit over the tops of the pines, but better thoughts soon succeeded and I forgave him, thinking that perhaps he was doing as well as he knew how. The inspection over, he had not long to stay, as the boat was waiting for him. I noticed the officers didn’t pet him very much and I don’t believe he got more than one drink.

Miss Carroll.

Three or four miles out here, through the woods, lives a Mr. Carroll. He has two sons in the 1st North Carolina union volunteers, stationed up in Washington. He makes frequent visits up there to see the boys and is often accompanied by his daughter, a rather good-looking young lady of about 20 years of age. It sometimes happens that they get here early in the morning and have to wait an hour or so for the boat, and will sometimes stop an hour on their return before going home. At these times they are guests at headquarters and a few of us, without the fear of the captain before our eyes, will happen in to have a chat with the old gentleman and his daughter. She expressed a great fondness for literature and claims to be “the only really literary young lady in these yere parts.” We occasionally fit her out with such story papers and magazines as we may have lying around, for which she expresses great pleasure.

She one day inquired if we had read a certain piece of poetry in one of the magazines we had given her. She was told we had and thought it very nice. We inquired if she was pleased with it. She replied she thought it was “Splendid! beautiful!” ‘We asked if she was fond of poetry. She said, she was excessively fond of it and read a great deal; in a sly, blushing kind, of way, she hinted that she sometimes tried her hand at composing. “Ah, indeed; would you favor us with a few specimens, some day when you come over? We should be pleased to look at them.” She promised she would, and the next time she came she brought a composition entitled “Lines to the Union Boys.” They were the merest doggerel, but we were loud in their praise and told her that by reading poetry and practising composing she would excel; that when the cruel war was over and we had retired to the peaceful pursuits of life in our far northern homes, we hoped to be reminded of her occasionally, by seeing some of her productions in print. She seemed a good deal pleased with such flattering encomiums, but thought she would hardly attain to that distinction. I thought so too. I asked if she would allow me to take a copy of the lines during her absence up town, and she kindly consented. Below is the copy:


I suppose you have herd of Swift creek

An the victory there was won

The yankee boys was wide awake

An they made them rebels run.


Chorus—Farewell Father an Mother

An a true sweetheart

An the girls we leave in pain

Oh dont forget those yankee bys they are coming back again.


An when the yankees did come in

The guerrillas took to flight

An tore down the bonna blue flag

An hoisted the stars an stripes.


When South Carolina did secede

An surely did go out

The yankee boys must have bin asleep

They had not whipt her back


I take my stand in Richmond

An Swift creek Il persue

I do not care for Whitford[1]

Nor none of his cowardly crew


The gurrillas hates the Buffalows[2]

But they dont care for that

If they dont shut their mouths an let them alone

They will make them clere the track


There is good many men in this war

By the names of Hill

An if the yankees dus get them

They will larn them how to drill


There is good many men here

By the name of Whitford two

An when the Yankees does get them

They will put them rebels through


The secesh girls look mighty loansum

Walking the road in there homemade homespun

The Union girls dont look sad

Walking the road in there yankee plad


An when the war is ended

The guerrillas they will say

They rather fight the devil

Than the boys that gains the day


Hold your toungs you secesh ones

An see what will be don

The yankees boys are bound to go

The whole hog or none


The Union men looks mighty grand

With there cork heel boots an their gloves on their hands

The secesh men looks mighty mean

Going through the woods an never are seen. Chorus, &c.

Now whatever fault can he found with the above lines, there can certainly no fault he found with their loyalty.

[1] Whitford was a Guerrilla captain.

[2] Buffaloes were North Carolina Union volunteers.

Previous post:

Next post: