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.

February 17, 2014

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

Alone Again.

Feb. 17. Our Brooklyn friends left us the 13th. They were ordered to report at Newport News, and we to remain here to do guard duty. When they left they expected to return in a few days, but I reckon they have gone for good, as they have sent for their ladies and quartermaster, who have gone, carrying everything with them. That leaves us alone again, and we are doing the guard duty up town, which is the outpost. It takes about one third of our men every day, and that brings us on every third day. All the camps about here are located near Fort Magruder, a large field fortification built by Gen. Magruder for the defence of Williamsburg. Since coming into Federal possession, it has been slightly altered and the guns, which formerly pointed outward, now point towards the town, about a mile distant. This was an obstacle which McClellan had to overcome in his march on Richmond. About 50 rods from its former front, now its rear, runs a wide and rather deep ravine across the country from the York to the James river, a distance of about three miles. On this line Magruder built his forts, with rifle pits in front on the edge of the ravine, for skirmishers and infantry. He had got only Fort Magruder armed on MeClellan’s arrival, but it proved a formidable obstacle, as it commanded the road and a wide piece of country. In front of this fort was the hottest of the battle, and not until Gen. Hancock with his corps had crossed the ravine at Queen’s creek on the York river side and swooped down on Magruder’s left, did he find it untenable. He then saw the day was lost and beat a hasty retreat. A few of us, while looking over the battle-ground a day or two ago, found the graves of Milford hoys, who were in the 40th New York regiment.

I reckon we must have given them quite a scare up in Richmond the other day, for in the alarm and confusion which prevailed, quite a number of prisoners escaped and are finding their way in here. Yesterday the cavalry went out to assist any that might be trying to get in.

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