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

Post image for War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

June 18, 2013

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

June 18 .—Major Riddle started for headquarters yesterday, and did not return to camp until this afternoon. We were all afraid that the guerillas might have gobbled him, as there is a report that Major Stirling was taken last night while on his way to General Pleasonton at Aldie. I was going to start for our headquarters at the same time, and with Major Stirling, but on account of General Butterfield asking me to dinner, I waited fifteen minutes. It rained in the afternoon and during the night, being the first rain we have had for some time. All the crops through the country where we have been, are suffering terribly on account of the drought. The general was going to send me to headquarters again this afternoon, but just as I was starting an orderly came from there, which saved me the trouble. I drew a government horse to-day for temporary use, until my mare’s back gets well.

[A day or two after writing this entry I found that two staff officers belonging to different corps headquarters, who had lunched with me at headquarters of the Army of the Potomac on the i8th, had got into trouble. One started a little after lunch, and wanted me to go along with him. I said no, I thought I would wait a few minutes and have a smoke. In about fifteen or twenty minutes I started. The other aide wanted me to wait and go with him in half an hour. I said no, I thought I had better go ahead; so I started. Before starting I was cautioned by General Butterfield to be very careful, as Mosby’s guerillas were all around the army; and as soon as I got to our outposts I was to demand an escort and carry them with me to camp. Accordingly I started, as nearly as I can remember, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I rode until pretty nearly dark, when I met our outpost. I gave my orders to the colonel for an escort, and he gave me a lieutenant and, I think, five or six men. By the time we were pretty well started on our way, darkness had set in. The lieutenant enlivened our way by telling me of numerous skirmishes and encounters they had had with Mosby within a few days. We passed one house, and he said that one of Mosby’s lieutenants lived there, who captured one of our sergeants the other day. A little farther on, he said, “We had a fight with Mosby here the other day. He tried to surprise us.”

I was in a state of nervous tension that one can hardly realize. I had one hand on my horse’s reins, and with the other I grasped my pistol, ready to shoot in case we were attacked. As we rode along, we could hear the katydids singing, and occasionally an owl hooting, or some of the numerous midnight noises that one always hears on a summer’s night. The lieutenant said to me: “The hooting of the owl is one of the favorite calls of Mosby’s men.” Then I would get a little more stirred up, if possible, and a little more nervous. Finally, though, we got through all right, after one of the most exciting rides I ever had in my life. In the morning our head teamster was up in a cherry tree about two hundred yards from headquarters, when Mosby came along right in our camp, made him a prisoner, and took him off. It happened, as I afterwards learned and as I have said, that both aides, the one who left after me and the one who left before me, were captured by Mosby, while I got through safely.]

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