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

January 11th, 1864.

Our wounded continue to await with what patience they possess their departure to the land of promise—but their hearts grow sick and their spirits faint at the long delay. The cause assigned is “want of transportation, and cold weather.”

Since the 1st inst. the weather is very cold. The ground is frozen like a rock, and worn smooth as marble. Snow has not been over an inch deep—just enough to whiten the ground. The air is piercing; some mornings at 10 o’clock, when taking my morning walk, the sun shining brightly the while, I have had my beard covered with frost in walking forty rods.

Imagine the situation of the men of the Ninth Corps, in their little shelter tents, barefooted and naked, through weeks of such rugged weather. I saw Mr. Woodin today. He says they are still on quarter rations, with no prospect of an increase of supplies at present. They have been, at times, forced to issue corn in the ear. He says the men were never in better health or spirits. There is not a sick man in the regiment.

Parson Brownlow has returned to his home. He continues to breathe out threatenings and denunciations against his secession brethren. I have not seen him, but, judging by his writings, I do not like the man. There is too much savage ferocity in his writings for an enlightened Christian. He is a man of great influence here, and I thank God it is exerted on the side of the Union.

I accidentally met an old acquaintance from Blackman today. I was passing the convalescents’ room, when my attention was attracted by a countenance that had a familiar look. I halted, but did not feel quite sure. Presently our eyes met, and we recognized each other instantly. “My God, Mr. Lane, is that you?” “I believe it is,” said I, “and you are Austin Draper.” We had a lively chat for a few minutes. Oh, it is pleasant to meet one we have known at home! He belongs to the Ninth Michigan Cavalry.

Our Chaplain has resigned and gone home. He told me, before he left, he was confident the Ninth will cross the mountains soon. Nearly all who have re-enlisted have gone already—fourteen regiments in all. The fact that no provision has been made for us here is conclusive proof, to me. It is the opinion of those generally best informed that we will go to Newport News to reorganize.

Evidently there is to be another summer campaign. Our friends, the loyal people of the North, have made it necessary by defeating the draft, which, practically, they have done. Fifty thousand—of the three hundred thousand called for—is the pitiful number realized; and it took from the field, at the time they were most needed there, forty thousand of our best men to secure these doubtful ones. The loyal people of Michigan, by combining to pay the conscription fee, did more to defeat the draft than did Horatio Seymour and his copperhead allies by resistance; for their resistance was put down by force.

It seems Congress is about to repeal that precious clause, and make it what its name implies, a bill to raise men, not money. These are my individual thoughts and impressions, and may be all wrong, but I cannot help believing the course pursued will tend to prolong the war. In my eagerness to get home, to enjoy the dear companionship of my family, I have, at times, been led to set bounds—to limit the duration of the strife—forgetting, for the time, that the American people, through and by this struggle, are to be purified and brought up to their professions of liberty.

Our sky is again overcast. Doubt and uncertainty have taken the place of confidence and fancied security. All day yesterday and today reports from the front are most discouraging. Our forces are falling back. Longstreet is said to be advancing with an overwhelming force. Many begin to fear another siege. Cavalry have been passing through the city the last forty-eight hours, with the usual stampede of citizens. Something is in the wind. Is it a “strategic movement,” or is it a retreat? I cannot believe that we are forced to fly from Longstreet alone. Has Lee joined forces with him to sweep us from East Tennessee? There has been but little fighting, and that little is confined to cavalry. Still, everything has the appearance of a hasty retreat.

At midnight last night the sick were ordered by train to Knoxville. All supplies were sent across the river at Strawberry Plains, and the bridge, a new one, was coated with tar, that it might be destroyed at short notice. Wagons loaded with provisions were burned. The most significant feature of all is, the Ninth Corps is ordered to hold the bridge, and three Ohio regiments, on their way home, were halted at Loudon until further orders.

“Verily, these are troubulous times and changeful.”

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