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

Post image for Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

December 12, 2012

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.

12th—At 9 o’clock, A. M., troops are crossing, and again has commenced our cannonading, but there is no response. I sit in the building prepared for hospital, out of sight and out of danger. Are we to have a fight to-day? Doubtful. I find myself indulging in some feelings of pride on the distinction which was conferred on me, unasked, yesterday, though I do not doubt it will excite some of my brother Surgeons to jealousy against me. I almost wish it were otherwise; for, after the long personal battles I .have had to fight, to maintain my proper position in the regiment, I was getting at peace with all, and I should have liked a little quiet. God grant that I may prove adequate to the responsible duties imposed by my new position. I deeply realize the fact that it places in my hands the limbs and lives of many poor fellows who are to be brought under my care. Ambulances and litter-bearers are passing to the expected battle field, and I too, must prepare, though I much doubt our having a fight to-day.

11 o’clock.—We have ” crossed the Rubicon,” and I now sit on the south bank of the Rappahannock, watching the crossing of our left wing, about, fifty thousand strong. I hear that our centre and right wing are crossing on bridges from two to four miles above us. Not a shot of resistance yet this morning, except from a few sharpshooters, and they are now silenced. The smoke of the burning city, and of the heavy cannonading of yesterday, have settled, casting a thick pall over all the country, and we cannot see more than a few rods around us. We know not, therefore, whether the enemy is before us, but the general impression is, that he has fallen back, to draw us on. I am of the opinion that it will require but little suction to draw our Commander on to destruction or to victory. He evidently means business; But will McClellan’s friends, who now hold most important commands under General Burnside, betray him as they did Pope? or will they prove true to the country in this hour of its greatest trial. When I see General Franklin in charge of the most important position, my recollection will revert to his conduct at West Point and at Centreville, and whilst I hope, I fear. From what I have seen of that man, I have lost all confidence in him. How I hope that he may now retrieve himself in the estimation of those who feel towards him as I do. The developments being made in the trial of Porter may make some Generals cautious. God grant it may.

It has been a matter of wonder to me, how the rebel army lives in its marches through this country, without transportation. We have now marched over one hundred miles in this State, and on the line of our march for a width of six miles, (making an area of six hundred square miles.) I am satisfied that there are not provisions enough, if all were taken, to subsist Lee’s army one day.

At 1 o’clock I take possession, for a hospital, of the house of Arthur Bernard, on the south bank of the river, two miles below Fredericksburg. This is one of the most magnificent places I ever saw. I shall not undertake to journalize a description of it. It is owned by one of the old bachelor F. F. Vs. He is now trying to compromise with us, so as to be permitted to retain a part of it. He is very ridiculous in his demands, and it will not surprise me if it results in his arrest. Weather still beautiful, but I fear that the great smoke hanging over us will bring heavy rains, and embarrass our locomotion. Night has come, but brings no fight. There has been an exchange of a few random shots, killing and wounding some twenty or thirty.

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