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.  This is the first sign of molestation we have had since we started.  I had hardly written the above when the “long roll” was heard, & in a few minutes our  Reg. was in line & advanced into a cornfield on the other side of the road, & took position in line of battle, with a Company of the 41sat on our left.  We (our Reg.) soon deployed across the field, & lay there till about 10 ½ o’clock when the train having started we assembled by companies by the side of the road, where we lay down & waited till all the teams, negro carts & all had gone by.  It was not 12 ½ o’clock & we moved off in silence & at a quick pace.  We kept on with but two or three rests till 4 ½ a.m. when we turned into a field about 10 miles from camp for a short rest.  Our haversacks have been put on the teams with blankets, &c., so we had nothing to eat but two hard buscuits apiece that were served out.  I ate mine & lay down on the grass 7 fell asleep at once.  Many of the boys had thrown themselves down the moment after breaking ranks, & went to sleep without eating anything.  We had marched all the way with hardly a drink of water, as the canteens were nearly all empty when we started, & we had no chance to fill them till we reached the stopping place.  My canteen fortunately was nearly full, & though I did drink a drop myself, I was able to “wet the whistles” of several of the boys that suffered more than I did.  At 7 ½ o’clock we started again, & had a hot dusty march some 14 miles to Berwick City where we arrived at 1 ½ o’clock.  Thus we have made a march since yesterday morning of near 50 miles & many of the men are terribly foot-sore.  I have blisters on each foot, but have stood the march as well as anybody in the Reg., I think.  When within some 6 miles of Berwick it was reported that the rebels were in pursuit, & were but a short distance in our rear.  Col. Morgan rode back & marched in the rear.  There was a steamer with a couple of field pieces on board, that had come up opposite the place where we rested for breakfast, & kept along down the bayou, just opposite our rear, ready to treat the rebels to a dose of canister or shells as soon as they should appear.  The road running close to the bayou, the boat was within hailing distance of us all the time.  No shots were fired from her, however, & we kept on as fast as our poor weary limbs would let us, till we reached Berwick, bringing our immense train in safely & thus giving practical freedom to some 2,000 men, women & children whom the President’s proclamation had made free in theory.  What is to be done with them all passes my comprehension, but many of the men will undoubtedly go into the “Corps de Afrique” now organizing in this department.  The distance we have marched in the last 5 ½ days is not far from 120 miles—nearly half of which we have made in the last 36 hours.  Since we left Brashear City on the 12th of April, we have marched not far from 220 miles, all of which I have made afoot, except about 25 miles, tho’ most of the officers have ridden more than half the time, 7 some of them nearly all till yesterday.  Slept on the short, (Berwick side) in front of the Genl. Hospital.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]

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