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

Post image for A Soldier’s Diary — David Lane.

A Soldier’s Diary — David Lane.

November 10, 2013

A Soldier's Diary, The Story of a Volunteer, David Lane, (17th Mich. Vol. Infantry)

Lenoir, November 10th, 1863.

No sooner was the order to build winter quarters given than the men scattered in all directions in search of material. There are many forsaken buildings in this vicinity. These were visited, the siding ripped off, floors torn up, chimneys, if brick, pulled down, and the material appropriated. Hundreds of men worked all night, and by morning had lumber enough to build bunks, floors and gable ends to their buildings. The reason of this all-night work was to get the start of the officers. They knew, by past experience, all building material would soon be put under guard for the use of officers. A large brick storehouse at the depot had been burned. This was seized by headquarters. Not a brick could be obtained, only as it was stolen in the night. Just the same, the boys all had brick chimneys.

Not being disposed to work nights or Sundays, my tent mates and myself did not begin to build until Monday morning. In the forenoon we cut our logs and carried them about half a mile on our backs. In the afternoon two of us laid the foundations, while the other two went with the Sutler’s team for a load of stone for our chimney. They also picked up a few boards. Tuesday we began to build in earnest—two at the house and two at the chimney—carrying them both up together. At night it was ready for the roof. Wednesday we “chunked and daubed” it, and put on the roof, built our bunks, and, toward night, moved in. Thursday we finished the chimney, put up shelves, etc. We have a warm, comfortable house, seven logs high, roofed with two thicknesses of tent cloth, which makes a very good roof. Our bunk is in one end, and occupies four feet across it, leaving a room six feet by eight. We have a splendid fireplace —back and jambs of stone, the top of sticks. In one corner are shelves for our dishes. On one side of the room is a drop table, which we button to the wall when not in use. Our bunk is not made of poles, rough and crooked, like those of last winter, but of pine boards, soft and luxurious.

On Thursday we had regimental inspection of arms. I told the boys I heard “music in the air,” but they could not believe it. It was there, however. About 10 o’clock in the evening Captain Tyler came to our tent and called for me. He told me to wake the boys and tell them to pack their things and be ready to take cars in half an hour for Knoxville. Here was a fix—to leave our soft beds and warm houses, our winter quarters, and go out into the cold— it was bitter cold—to ride on the top of cars twenty, perhaps seventy-five miles, and sleep—if sleep we might—on the cold, damp ground, and march twenty or thirty miles a day on half rations. But away we went, the Third Brigade only, to the station. It was 2 o’clock in the morning before the cars were ready, and we reached Knoxville a little after sunrise. Here we learned the cause of the movement. The Rebels had made a dash on Wilcox, near Greenville, capturing a section of the Second Ohio Battery and part of the Second Tennessee Mounted Infantry. Not knowing their strength, we were ordered to be within supporting distance while a force of cavalry was sent out to reconnoitre. We drew full rations of soft bread and beef, and lay on the cars, the engine keeping up steam until about 4 p. m. We then encamped for the night . Next morning we again drew rations, packed our things and awaited orders with impatience. But no orders came, and there we lay and waited all that livelong day.

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