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.

August 19, 2012

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Headquarters 5th Army Corps, Camp at Newport News, August 19.

Dear Hannah, — I have had no chance to write since my first letter to Father as the army has been in motion since that time. We left Harrison’s Landing on Thursday, 8 P.M., and reached Barrett’s Ford on the Chickahominy, a distance of twenty miles, by 7 o’clock the next morning. We crossed the Chickahominy on the pontoon bridge just constructed, 2000 feet in length, and camped on this side. Saturday at 4 A.M. we started for Williamsburg, about 12 miles distant, and made our headquarters in the President’s house at William and Mary’s College. Williamsburg is an old-fashioned city of 4000 inhabitants, although now mostly deserted. Sunday at 6 P.M. we started for Yorktown, 14 miles off, and from there pushed on to Newport News, 28 miles, reaching here at 8 o’clock yesterday morning. The whole army is now across the Chickahominy and the bridge taken up. I am somewhat tired, but in other respects perfectly well.

Prison life did not leave any bad effects upon me, except the natural one of weakness. I was well all the time, with the exception of some slight eruption, which broke out on my body, probably a mild form of scurvy. My chief annoyance was from the lice. Every morning for over six weeks I looked over my clothes carefully, and as regularly found two or three of the disgusting old fellows, besides any amount of nits and young ones. The building was full of them and whenever any one hammered on the floor above, down came the lice. I have always had a great horror of them, and found them rather hard to bear. All the officers were in the same condition. Our life was the same from one day’s end to another. Our mess (No. 2) took breakfast at 7.30. We had sour bread, coffee made from rye and bought (75 cts. lb.) by ourselves. Then we would read or play cards or go to sleep during the forenoon until 1 o’clock, when we dined on bread and greasy soup. The afternoon was spent in much the same way as the morning. Supper we took at 6, and at 9 went to bed.

I don’t want Father to send my horse on. I shall buy one on here. As soon as I can get a chance I shall have my things sent on to me, but at present I don’t know where to have them sent to. I think we shall go to Aquia Creek. We probably go on board to-night.

I have not heard from home yet and do not know why letters do not come. I hope you are all well. I was very anxious while in prison until I heard from the general that Father was well and relieved of all anxiety about me. . . .

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