In Camp. Detailed for guard last evening and have been on duty today. During the night enjoyed the camp fires instead of walking my beat. Very cold last night. Water froze in my tent. Rations today. Never saw the boys so eager for them as they were tonight. Beeves[!] killed today, of which everything was eaten except the hide and offal—even the lights and tripe were used. Great scarcity of tobacco in camp. Men even gave up their rations for it. Order read on dress parade prohibiting gambling and obscenity in camp. This is a step in the right direction, one which every honorable man ought to uphold. It is reported that Gen. French ordered us back to our old camp last night, and again this morning, but Gen. Birney objected. There was no need of our coming here, I believe, but now we are here I want to stay, so much better is the ground than the cold, damp ground of our old camp. Fine day though cold. A little overcast tonight.
New camp near Catlett’s Station. Last night after enjoying a walk and social chat with the Dr. and calling upon our Lieut. Richards, I returned to my quarters with the intention of having a good night’s rest. My intention was of no account, for about ten the bugle said “pack up,” and we were routed. We marched over to this camp by the pleasant moonlight, through woods & mud, and drawing up in line, lay down for the night. Gen. French probably feared a rebel raid, or was drunk, perhaps sober is his uncommon condition. We are near the “Jersey settlement,” a small village, so called, on account of being settled by “Jerseymen” (New.) It is a commanding position on a ridge, at the foot of which is an extensive plain over which the enemy must come to drive us, unless it flank us. Wrote to Sawyer & Ed. Smith today. Cannonading heard during the forenoon while we were on the hill just above our present situation. This afternoon pitched one tent down on the side of the hill in front of the woods near the brook. A very fine day. Got a little cold last night, otherwise, am in good health and spirits. Relish my food. Have enough hard bread, pork, and coffee, but other eatables would not be objectionable.
Camp. Very cold today. Commenced drilling again. This afternoon skirmished. The peculiar meaning, (army definition,) is killed lice. Everybody gets them on the march. I found many. Hair cut &c. Sort of a claring [sic] up time with me. Beautiful moonlight evening.
Camp near Greenwich. Reveille about three. Commenced moving at six. Fell out on a short time when the company commenced double quick. Heel very sore.
Forded a stream that took the boys to the middle. I rode over on the Dr’s horse. Crossed the rail-road where the rails & sleepers had been torn up by the rebels. Rebel graves a short distance from where we halted. Forded another stream. Attempted to ride over with the Dr. With one foot in the stirrup rode over. Having missed the road, had to ford the stream again. Got a ride over on an ambulance. Kept but little with the company. Passed over the same road we did last Tuesday & Wednesday. At Greenwich noticed the finest establishment I have seen in Virginia. Cannot see why we were hurried so. The manner in which we are marched is unwise, inhuman, and barbarous. They load and drive us like Jack-mules. Have the finest camp we have had. An open smooth field, rails & water convenient for use. Foggy this morning. Fair and hot the rest of the day. Travelled 15 miles today. Seem to be moving towards the Rappahan[n]ock. Spelled with 2 n’s also.
Camp near Centreville Va
I have just heard of an opportunity to get a mail out, I have only time to write a word to let you know that we are both well. We have been knocking about for more than a week and had no mails out. I have been writing a long letter to Mary at odds and ends, I shall send it tonight and will tell her to send it to you. I will write again in a few days. We hold a very strong [illegible] and no one anticipates a fight here. So you need not feel worried. It is so dark I cannot see the lines and am writing on my knee. We have not had any mail for over a week. We expect to get one tonight. Ned and George are both well. Tell Mrs. Whittier as they are not going to write.
Temporary Camp, near Culpepper. Extra rations came in during the night, so we have quite a load to carry. Five days’ rations extra, blouse & overcoat. Commenced a letter to Miss Godding, but had written only a page & a half, when the bugle sounded “pack up,” and we were off. Left at half past eleven, and marched about three miles to get one from camp, About two drew up in line of battle. Heard several guns at a distance, but could not tell whether federal or rebel. Had no more fears than when in camp. Pioneers sent out to destroy bridges & obstruct the road. Extemporized camp tonight. Spring-bed. Warm marching, but rained after we halted. Overcast now. Tent with Noble.
Had talk this morning with little secesh girl. Could not tell her age. The family is very poor. Like most we have seen.
Parade dress this afternoon. Put us new men, in part, and some old ones under the Sergeant Major. He could do nothing with us. I would like to be drilled by a man of life and energy. No wooden man suits my taste. New clothes tonight.
Camp near Culpepper Va.
[...] I find a great difficulty in commencing my letter, to know what to write as you did, for everything in the Army of the Potomac is in a great state of stagnation as in the [illegible] of Gettysburg. Nothing is being done. And there is no prospect of any change at present. Our signal officers know the key to their system of signals and can read their dispatches. One of our officers told us of a dispatch he saw sent to Lee the other day stating that “the army of the Potomac was retreating and that this was confirmed by deserters that came daily with their lines” I think that if they should come over to this side of the river some fine morning they would hardly find a clear country for them to occupy. Meanwhile we are enjoying life hugely. [...]
There was quite a drunk last night. One in our Company, and one below here disturbed my slumbers. Whiskey is a great bane in the army, and a fearful demoralizer in Camp. Nearly every day some case of drunkenness occurs. This morning part of the sixth corps left. A part left not long ago. Last week the 11th & 12th left, it is reported, for Chat[t]anooga. We are drawn up here in line of battle with a second line to support the first. The 6th Corps occupies the right, the 3rd, ours, comes next, the 5th next, and then the 1st protecting [illegible]. Pleasanton’s cavalry corps are in front, supported by the 2d corps. All these are fighting corps. This corps hopes Gen. Sickles will take command soon. Gen. French is an arrogant, and repulsive officer. He is a regular “brandy blossom” or a “two gallon whiskey keg.” He is bald-headed, and red-faced, smooth-shaven, with the exception of a heavy moustache. As he uncovered his head yesterday when he rode by;, I thought he looked very much like Gen. Butler’s pictures. As I write this, it is quite cool, though the sun is struggling through the small, numerous clouds, that spot the heavenly dome.
While drilling this afternoon the Bugle sounded “pack up, pack up.” Immediately all was alive. We packed up, struck tents and were moving in less than an hour. We moved north about half a mile, and pitched our tents in the woods near the turnpike. Tonight cooked my own coffee. Felt well tonight, whether because I had given part of my soft bread to a fellow soldier, or because we had got new quarters, or because I had the proud satisfaction of knowing that I can rely upon myself, I cannot say.
It cleared off most beautifully last night. At three the moon and stars were shining brightly. Doing guard duty today. Being a supernumerary had nothing to do but remain at the guard house. Wrote two letters. One to Ellen with a lead pencil. Called to see the Dr. tonight. Got some doughnuts.