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 25, 2013

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

Knoxville, November 25th, 1863.

Only seven days of siege, and our larder nearly empty. We have been on half rations since September 25th, consequently had no surplus to fall back on. On the second day of the siege our rations were reduced to quarter rations. Now coffee and sugar have given out entirely. The men are constantly under fire. The enemy have advanced their sharpshooters to within one-fourth of a mile of our line. On the 20th they got possession of a house, just under the hill in our front, and annoyed us exceedingly. Colonel Comstock was ordered to burn it; he called for volunteers to perform the perilous feat. Instantly a company was formed, headed by A. J. Keliey, or Company E, and led by Lieutenant Josiah Billingsly. The house was set on fire and burned to the ground, but the heroic Billingsly was killed by a shell on his return.

Their sharpshooters had now advanced so near the men were forced to remain all day in their rifle pits. Every man who showed even his head became a target.

Yesterday morning, after it became fairly light, I jumped up on the embankment in front of me, as had been my custom, to see what advancement the enemy had made during the night. I took one quick glance around, and as I looked I saw two curls of smoke directly in front of me; on the instant one bullet whistled over my head; another dropped into the sand at my feet.

This morning Lieutenant Colonel Comstock received a mortal wound from one of them. A number of our boys have been wounded. The first four or five days of the siege our men divided up into reliefs and went up on the bank, in the rear of our pits, to cook and eat their food. On the 24th, as 1 was eating my breakfast, a rifle ball struck a camp kettle, standing beside me, and spilled its contents. About that time one of my comrades was struck in the face, the ball passing through both cheeks, nearly cutting off his tongue. Inspired by these gentle protests, we moved our kitchen over the brow of the hill, where we could cook and eat our “flapjacks” undisturbed.

Previous post:

Next post: