May 31, 1863

West Point

Dear Father,

I received your regular Sunday letter of 24th. and one from Alfred informing me that John N. Goodnow of Alfred was one of the Board of Visitors. I had seen the list of appointments before. I am almost sorry he is coming. He will hear me be examined. You know he tried to get the appointment for Osgood who used to room with me at Andover. Do you ever see Moses Drew at Alfred, I wonder what has become of him. Examination commences this week on Monday, the Board will inspect Barracks, the Hospital and all the other Public buildings and examination will begin Tuesday morning. I shall be examined the first of next week probably. The prospect now is we shall get away on Furlough in two weeks.

Your Affectionate Son, Malcolm McArthur

Malcolm McArthur to his father, Arthur McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

May 30, 1863


Turned out at 3 ½ o’clock, made coffee, & started about 4 ½.  The morning was warm & sultry, but we made good time & reached the “Meeting House in the Woods”—the limit of our march, on the 14th of March—at 9 o’clock.  Here both Regiments halted two hours to put the arms in order & have them inspected.

The big guns have been thundering away for the last hour (9 o’clock now) & I suppose there is soon to be work for us.  May God grant great success to our arms, & “cover our heads in the day of battle.”  May he verify his promise to us “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, & thou shalt glorify me.”  I feel that I ought to glorify Him for his past mercies to me & mine, & should he spare my life, I will try to glorify his holy name through all my life.  May he help me to do so, Amen.

Moved again at 11 & marched [illeg. word] across the plains some six miles to a plantation about 3 miles from our batteries that have been playing upon the rebel works all day.  We are to spend the night here, but whether we are to go into battle tomorrow we know not.

We are here about opposite the centre of the works, 7 shall probably be in Grover’s Division.  The impression seems to prevail that the rebels cannot hold out more than a few days at most, but that their works will not be taken without much loss of life.  God grant that we may succeed without much further sacrifice of life.  Lay down early & slept well.  The big guns were roaring all night, though I did not hear them.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]

May 29, 1863


Did not get up till about 9 o’clock.  Were then just passing Donaldsonville.  Got breakfast in the Cabin, 12 M.  We are just passing Plaquemine 20 miles below Baton Rouge.  A boat from gunboat No. 2 has just come on board, bringing the news that the rebels have offered to surrender Port Hudson on condition of being allowed to take away their arms & the big guns!  3 P.M.  Have just finished dinner, & we are not opposite the lower part of Baton Rouge.  Reached, & moored to the old wharf boat “Hatcher”, about four went on shore, but a hard shower coming on, we took shelter in the Hatcher till it was over.  Delivered two days rations of bread & coffee & a little salt port, & then started.

Marched up on the Bayou Sara road 5 miles & camped just below the pontoon bridge.  The 26th had reached camp before us, having marched through in the rain.  Slept well.  Heard many reports of mortars up at Port Hudson during the night.  I dreamed of being at home & having dear mother come & kiss me many times!  May my kind heavenly Father soon cause the dream to prove a reality.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]

May 28, 1863

29Sunrise Thursday.

Reg. formed line near the Depot, stacked arms & the boys made coffee for breakfast.  I wrote a short letter, in pencil, to Pamelia, soon after we stacked arms, & put it into the office.  Just before I mailed it the Chaplain brought in a late mail containing a letter for me dated May 11 from Pamelia, & having sealed mine, acknowledged the receipt of hers on the back of mine.  Mother’s health was much improved when P. wrote, for which I desire to be truly grateful to God.

Drew & delivered to the men a lot of clothing, consisting of 10 prs  trousers, 20 shirts, 32 pairs stockings, 5 blouses, 6 pairs Bootees.  Our baggage has been going aboard an ocean steamer, with the boxes that were sent down here from Baton Rouge in April.  [Blank space for name not inserted] came over from the Hospital to see us this forenoon.  He is looking well, but is quite lame.  He says our men are all doing well.  Sgt. Joseph Wing was very imprudent in eating, which caused his diarrhea to return.  I have no doubt that he thus shortened his days, if he did not actually kill himself.  Geo. Davis took charge of his effects, & sent them to his father.   Went on board the Fulton [steamer] just after dinner, our baggage having been stowed on board in the forenoon.  The 26th Me. & part of the 52nd Mass. came down from Brashear in the afternoon train & came aboard about dark, but the boat did not leave till after midnight, Maj. Brackett, Lt. J. & myself accepting a stateroom, & had a good nights rest.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]

May 27, 1863


Crossed to Brashear in the morning, got breakfast, & then went to see the boys in the Convalescent Camp.  After this, went to the Island Hospital & saw Edwin Young—found him better than when he left Opelousas.  The Dr. & nurse both spoke encouragingly about him.  His diarrhea is checked, though he still has remittent fever.  Returned to Berwick, & at 2 o’clock the Reg. crossed the river, & stacked arms near the 26th Maine.  We expected to wait until tomorrow, but about sunset orders came to pack up & take the cars for Algiers tonight.  Got on board at 10 o’clock, but did not leave till after 11.  Arrived at  Algiers about sunrise.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]

May 26, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, near Brooke’s Station.

Dearest: I received a letter from you Sunday afternoon, and felt sorry indeed that seeing your friends had proved so bad for you, but I hope after a little quiet you and yourself again.  I am not so sure that my coming might not excite you even though I belong there.  I do not think I can go home now.  I will tell you my reasons.  My Corps did not do very well at Chancellorsville.  Now everybody who is to blame tries to shift the responsibility upon somebody’s elses shoulders.  The Germans and the Americans are many of them against me.  It was my first trial with them.  Now I must drill & discipline my command & get it in hand.  I must work to get good officers in the command of Brigade and regiments.  I must be here to head off wire-pullers.  I want the command to learn me and I wish to learn it.  Again I rather apprehend an attack here, after the affair at Vicksburg which is so disastrous to the rebels.  They will try some game to retrieve their hopes.  Most probably will accumulate a very large force against Rosencrantz.  In that case we should not be attacked, but perhaps now something desperate will be attempted and Lee will cross above us & attack us hoping to crush this army now that we have lost so many two years & nine month regiments. … I am under a little cloud, tenderly excused but yet unsuccessful, and I have not been accustomed to succumb under difficulties. …

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Ann Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

May 25, 1863

24Monday.  Turned out at 4 o’clock & got breakfast—the orders being for our Reg. to take the advance & start at 5.  Only four passes to be given to a Company to ride on the teams.  We marched through Franklin without stopping there, & halted at one o’clock under some wide-spreading oaks 3 miles below Franklin.  The forenoon was very hot, & the road dusty.  Have had but 3 rests in the 15 miles.  Many men fell out & I for one did not wonder at it.  I was tired myself, & gladly heard the word “halt.”  Started again at 3 & marched through Centreville, & to a fine smooth field a mile beyond (3 miles from last halting place) where we halted for the night.  Having two hours of daylight, many of the officers & men took a good wash in the bayou.  Had fresh beef & pork for supper, which was cooked & eaten in good season.  We are camping 6 miles from Franklin, & about 22 from Brashear, which place we expect to reach by Wednesday noon.  As I write this (7 o’clock) the 41st have just dashed by towards Centreville, & the report is that the train has been fired on this side of Franklin, & several of our men killed.  Continue reading

May 24, 1863

West Point

Dear Father,

Your Sunday letter was received on 21st. inst. There is nothing new. Examination commences week from tomorrow. There are two Maine men on the Board of Visitors, Rufus Dwind of Bangor and Hon. J.H. Goodnow of Alfred. He tried to get the appointment for his son. I suppose you know. How long is Catharine going to stay at Malden?

The Lieut. Colonel of 8th. Regiment has resigned. Do you think there is any chance for William to be made Major? I hope so.

Your Aff. Son, Malcolm McArthur

P.S.-The Standing for April has been made out. I came out in Math 54, in French 45, in Drawing 11; have 13 demerits for month.

Malcolm McArthur to his father, Arthur McArthur [McArthur Family Papers]

May 23, 1863

Headquarter’s Eleventh Corps. Near Brooke’s Station, Va.


I told you in yesterday’s letter that Miss Lizzie came from Washington with us. Yesterday Charles took her to Falmouth to see Fredericksburg and the troops on the way thither. She thinks she had a fine time notwithstanding the roughness of the roads and of the carriage. Last night we gave her a tea party, inviting all the ladies and a few gentlemen. […]

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Elizabeth Ann Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

May 22, 1863


Started at 6 a.m. & after marching a mile were ordered to put two men with each wagon, & having thus “deployed” our Company, Lt. J., Capt. Wood, & myself got on a baggage wagon, & “took it easy.”

The plantation where we camped is the largest we have seen, having immense fields of corn & cane growing, all of which is growing well, the negroes having remained till now on the place; but this morning, they are joining in the “Exodous,” leaving home for they know not where.  There are said to be more than 200 teams loaded with negroes in our train, & nearly 100 Army wagons.  Many of the negroes, male & female, are on foot, & there are constant acquisitions, making to the train.

Stopped at noon in a beautiful oak grove on the border of the Teche, & cooked dinner.  Here for the first time a party was detailed to drive in cattle to be slaughtered for rations, a thing that ought to have been done all along.  The Col. being unable to ride on horseback on account of a fall yesterday, gave up his horse to me for the afternoon, Lt. J. starting with his little mare.  The Quartermaster states that there are now 400 wagons in the train, which must be near 4 miles long.  The ride across the prairie this afternoon was a delightful one, & I was even better pleased with the Country than with that on the march up.  Halted about 5 o’clock, & the fresh meat—beef & mutton—coming in early, the men had ample time to cook a good supper.   Slept finely on the ground.  Heard heavy guns in the night in what we supposed to be the direction of Port Hudson.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]