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

Post image for At Alexandria, again.– “If we have really lost our general, I expect we shall do much better.” –Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

At Alexandria, again.– “If we have really lost our general, I expect we shall do much better.” –Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

August 29, 2012

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry)

[August 28]

Arriving at Alexandria early in the morning, we immediately disembarked and marched directly for Camp California, our first winter quarters. When the men came in sight of the old spot, they fairly yelled with delight, throwing their caps in the air, and hurrahing till half their throats were sore. The Fifty-second German regiment expressed their feeling by singing magnificently, “Home Again.” Nearly every man in this regiment is a singer, and they have organized a system of singing on the march, when going through towns, on any notable occasion, which is most impressive. Every regiment bivouacked on its original ground, and most of us began to arrange and plan for a new camp, expecting a moderate stay, but were doomed to disappointment. The trains were not yet up, and as we have no camp equipage, are obliged to bivouac in the open air. What an extraordinary coincidence, that just five months after the opening of hostilities in the spring we should be back on the identical ground we started from, but not all of us are here; just about one-half of those who started to run the gauntlet of shot and shell, disease and capture, have succumbed to the one or the other, and their bones in many cases are whitening many a lonely spot in the pine forests of this unlucky state. Those of us surviving are a hardy, well disciplined, experienced body of troops that no disaster can appal, no hardship terrify; men for whom the soldiers of Lee’s army have a most wholesome respect. The campaign we have just finished has, of course, been a lamentable failure, but, as I have frequently observed, the general commanding, and not the men, is to blame. I remember a verse of a song, said to have been sung by the French army, commanded by Villeroi, after the battle of Cremone, in Piedmont, in which Villeroi, the commanding general, was captured; both armies were equally delighted:

“Francais rendon grace a Bellone,

Notre bonheur est sans egal:

Nous avons conserve Cremone

Et perdu notre General!

If we have really lost our general, I expect we shall do much better.

We busied ourselves getting information about the state of affairs, which is greatly mixed. Hooker and Kearney’s division passed through here a week ago by rail to join Pope’s army. Porter, with Morrel’s and Syke’s division, landed at Aquia Creek about the same time and marched to Fredericksburg, so that two corps of our army, at least, are with Pope, who ought to be able to give a good account of himself, thus reinforced.

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