Monday. Thus was passed the most terrible Sabbath of my life. The dead & wounded lay everywhere, & the stretchers were carrying them all day. I can form no estimate of the loss, but it must have been very large, several hundred. Sergeant Allen of Co. “E” was instantly killed on the charge, & several in other companies wounded, but God in mercy spared all my company, for which I desire to render him the highest gratitude of which my heart is capable. We can account for every man except F. Holbrook, who has not yet come in, but I think he is safe, as he fell out before we reached the most dangerous spot. Have not paper to record a tenth part of the incidents of the day, but they will live in my memory while I live. God forbid that we should be called to such another day’s experience. I think by this time that the hope of carrying the place by a charge is abandoned—at any rate till more suitable place for it can be found. Our Reg’t. behaved well through the day, & Col. Jerrard was as fearless as a man could be, exposing himself continually—no man could have done better. No officer of the Reg’t. faltered for a moment, or or[!] showed the least disposition to shirk his duty. Holbrook reached camp about noon unharmed. Haskell has been sent to Baton Rouge with other wounded. He is not very badly hurt, I think. Col. J. was notified this P.M. that he is “under arrest”—supposed to be for disobeying an order to charge over the breastworks yesterday P.M. Had he made the charge at the time & place, & led it himself, (as he certainly would) I presume every man of us would at this time have been either dead or a prisoner. Old[!] Regiments had tried it in the morning, & failed, & every one of our Reg’t. officers & men feels that the Col. was right, and not one doubts his courage. The officers held a meeting, & chose a committee of three (Capts. Case, Bolton & Gilman) to assure Col. J. of the approval of his officers of his course yesterday, & that they will sustain him.
Sunday. We then moved by the new road that had been dug by the sappers & miners, the bullets whistling round us all the way. Were ordered to fix bayonets & charge upon the breastworks—had ravines & ridges to cross all full of brush & timber—almost impossible to crawl up—but after a hard scramble got to the place where the charge was to commence, but by this time four or five Reg’ts. Had got mixed up, & there was so much confusion that it was impossible to form a line (the 22nd was less confused than the other Reg’ts.). Moved farther to the left to get more out of the way of the sharp-shooters, & got as good a cover as we could. Here we lay till the middle of the afternoon, the sun beating down terribly, & the bullets constantly whistling over & among us. While lying here, Corp. A. Haskell was struck in the breast by a bullet, making a flesh would. Sent him out to the Hospital. (Boker had been hit previously by a buckshot.). Ivis, Allen also had a slight wound made in a toe. These were all of Company “H” that were struck, though several escaped as by a miracle. In [the] middle of [the] P.M. companies “h” & “E” took position in ravines where they were better sheltered, & we lay till about 9 o’clock, when we were ordered back to camp. The Reg’t. formed out near the bridge on the main road, & moved into camp. Lay down, & slept soundly till morning.
Saturday. Had baked beans for breakfast which were much relished by us all. One of Co. “A” came in this morning, & reports that the nine other missing men of their Co. are all alive & near the enemy’s breastworks, but have had nothing to eat since yesterday morning. He is going to try to get back to them with some provisions. A small mail came in just after breakfast, containing three letters from home (from Father, mother, & Pamelia, all dated May 25th). I thank our heavenly Father that he has preserved the lives & health of all the loved ones at home, & give them all things needful for their comfort & happiness. May he grant that we may all meet again on the shores of time. All but one of Co. “A”’s men have just got in safely. Came out this morning in command of the picket guard. Sharp musketry firing all the forenoon. About need the cannon & mortars began to work, & the sounds indicate that the batteries are busy on a considerable portion of the line. Whether the general bombardment has begun, I cannot yet determine (1 o’clock). Continue reading
Thursday. We then returned to our old company ground, & got breakfast, Co. “E” came in with the reserve, but Co.’s “A” & “B” were left behind. “A” is still (1 o’clock) absent. Co. “B” has got in this forenoon, & report that they went into the enemy’s works during the rain, where they lost two men killed, who were left there, & two wounded that were brought in. Lt. Anson is thought to be a prisoner, as he was not known to recross the intrenchments. There is much anxiety about Co. “A”, but they are supposed to be in the timber, where they will have to stay till dark. Lt. J. had a ball pass through the sleeve of his blouse. My prayers for the preservation of my Co. have been richly answered. May we all be grateful to our heavenly Father. The 8th Vt. Regt. is said to have suffered severely, & the 90th N.Y. also lost a few men. Continue reading
Friday. One of the large rebel guns sent a dozen shells over to our right last evening, but whether they did any harm, I do not know. Our guns replied but two or three times, very little musketry firing in the night. This morning there is the usual amount, but no big guns yet. The weather continues the same day after day—clear & pleasant with a hot sun in the middle of the day. How the Siege progresses we do not know, as we are confined to a small spot. We hope, however, that some progress is making[!], & that we shall soon be able to rejoice over the capture of this last stronghold of rebellion in this State. May God grant us this great favor, & spare life if consistent with his holy will. At 9 A.M. went out on the breast works in command of half the picket guard, Capt. Crosby having the other half. Posted the men in the rifle pits, 7 behind the shelters, three or four men on a post. Each man stands at the breat work an hour & is then relieved by another. We are perhaps a third of a mile from the rebel breast work, from which an occasional rifle shot comes, but no one has yet been hit. During the forenoon Gen’ls Banks, Grover & Weitzell came along the line, & inspected the batteries. Preparations are making for placing more guns or mortars on this part of the works. Continue reading
Had a quiet night, very little artillery firing, but about the usual amount of musketry. Slept well & turned out at sunrise, Breakfast of bread, & a small ration of boiled pork & beef brought in. Our three days are out this forenoon, but do not know whether we are to be relieved today. Finished up my letter to Pamelia and sent it by the Chaplain, who is going to the landing this morning. He saw Capt. Blodget of the 14th Maine yesterday. He was well, & sent regards home. The Chaplain has ridden the whole length of our lines, & says there is great activity in mounting guns & mortars, & that there is the utmost confidence felt in regard to the result of the siege. God grant that we may realize our highest expectations & may be spared to see the old flag waving over these rebel works. Lt. R. arrived about noon with Edgar Holbrook, Stevens, Baker & Ramsdell, having come in yesterday. We have now 42 enlisted men present, including Ames, who [illeg. word] back near the cook’s quarters. Wm. Brown, & Small, we left at Baton Rouge, but presume they will soon be able to come up. Little artillery firing today, but preparations appear to be making for some soon. I am to go on picket tomorrow for the first time since we have been here.
Tuesday. Had some hot coffee & boiled pork & bacon brought in for breakfast about 7 ½ o’clock. While lying here this morning some bullets have dropped among us within a few feet, one of them just grazing the leg of one of the men, but He who observes the fall of the sparrow has preserved us—praises to his holy name. Commenced a pencil letter to Pamelia, describing our situation. Shall add more when I know more. The folks at home are ignorant of our whereabouts, & for that reason cannot have the anxiety they otherwise would. Lord, preserve them all, & give them full trust in thee. Had salt beef & coffee brought in for dinner, & this P.M. have issued two days rations of bread. Our guns have been pretty busy this afternoon, but they get no reply. About dark we moved our position a little as the shells are expected to fly thick & fast tonight. I put my trust in thee, O God. Slept quietly, few large guns being fired during the night. Was waked once by a pretty sharp musketry fire.
F[air]fax Station is only a place to land supplies. The Court House is a small place, but the field is full of camps. The soldiers were all eager for reading. … The old c[ourt] house is nothing but a shell, a miserable dirty store room. The church is all stript inside & has been [used] for a stable. … Just out in the woods was where Gen. Kearney was killed. Heard heavy firing. Said to be fighting at Snicker’s Gap.
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.
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.