Thursday. In forenoon finished the case of Theodate Melancon. The witnesses called by him for the defence really knew little about the matter he was tried for. Their testimony being introduced chiefly to prove that the prisoner told them he was going to the negro Capt. to get back a couple of horses that the gang had taken from him. After getting through with the witnesses, he made quite a long statement through the interpreter, asserting that the negroes compelled him to go with them, & that he escaped from them as soon as he could safely. Two members of the Commission decided him to be guilty of that part of the Specification that declared him to have unlawfully joined a band of armed negroes with whom he proceeded to St. Martinsville for the purpose of plundering, & as they were on a majority, they sentenced him to “Six months hard labor with a b all & chain attached to his left leg.” I felt obliged to vote “Not guilty” on both charged & specifications, there appearing to be ground for a very reasonable doubt in regard to his guilt, & I felt bound to give him the benefit of it.
Wednesday. Spent the day as a member of a Military Commission appointed by Genl. Emory, consisting of Col. Jerrard, self & Capt. Long, of the 52nd Mass. Maj. Lieber of Gen’l. Emory’s Staff, Judge Advocate. Engaged all day, trying the case of a creole named Theodate Melancon, who is charged with leading a gang of armed negroes in plundering & outrage on the citizens of St. Martinsville. Examined a large number of witnesses who all testified that the prisoner was with the gang, which was commanded by a negro named Pierre—that they were all apparently in liquor, & that on being fired upon by the people in the village of St. Martinsville when their leader & another negro was killed, the rest took to flight. The prisoner was not seen when the gang was fired on, & was arrested on the prairie a mile east of the Bayou while apparently trying to escape. He was alone, the negroes having fled in other directions. The witnesses were nearly all French & their testimony had to be interpreted to the Court. The case was not closed today and from all the testimony thus far, it seems probably that the accused, as he claims to have been, was compelled by the negroes to join them. Tomorrow is the day of “muster for payment,” but the Col. has decided to omit it.
Thursday. Went into the Hospital where the wounded rebel prisoners are. Found most of them doing well & pretty cheerful. The ladies of the place attend them constantly, & provide many comforts for them which add greatly to their happiness. Most of those I saw looked like intelligent men, and they are apparently among the better class of Southern soldiers. 10 o’clock A.M. Orders have just come to cook 1 day’s ration of beef, & take that, with 1 day’s ration of raw pork and two of hard bread, & get ready to move as soon as possible. It is supposed we are to go up the Bayou by Steamer to New Iberia. Got away—not by Steamer, but afoot—about 2 P.M. Marched about 9 miles to a place on the bayou called “Indian Bend.” Reached there about dusk. Made coffee, ate supper, & camped down. The men nearly all slept on the ground without their tents. Self & Lieuts. slept on the floor in a house with the Field Officers & some others.
Friday. Being a little unwell with diarrhea, have done nothing but rest in camp. Nothing new or interesting going on today, except the sending off the remainder of the rebel prisoners. There is still a larger number of their wounded left in hospital here, tho’ I have not seen them. The Col., St. J. & some others arrived from Brashear City this P.M.
Wednesday. Started on the march up the bayou about 7 o’clock towards New Iberia, towards which the enemy are retreating. About 60 prisoners marched with us under guard of a Co. of the 26th Me. We marched till between 11 & 12, when we halted at Harding’s planta[t]i[o]n, the junction of the road with the straight road from Franklin. Here our Reg. rec’d orders to return to Franklin to do provost guard duty, while the rest of the Brigade pushed on in pursuit of the retreating rebels. We halted an hour for dinner, then marched back by the shorter route, & reached Franklin about 3 p.M. Pitched our tents on the sidewalk, in front of a fine house standing back from the street. Cooked our supper & [two illeg. words]. Just after dark the 3 Cos. That were left at Brashear city marched up the street in command of the Major. They came be steamer to the place when Weitzel began the fight on Sunday, about 12 miles below here, & marched from there this afternoon. They left Brashear Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday. Had Co. inspections at 7 o’clock. A. W. Lovejoy, who arrived yesterday morning from B. Rouge, was taken back in an ambulance, with several other men, to the hospital at Bayou Boeuf. Took his gun & equipments with him. Shores is to stay here in convalescent camp—he took Lovejoy’s half of a shelter tent. Wyman is determined to go with the Co., tho’ he is not very strong. Troops are going across the river all the time, & we are waiting orders to “fall in” for the same purpose. Just before noon the Col. sent our last payrolls to be signed by the men. He all of our Co. sign who are with us, & returned the rolls to the Col.
At 2 o’clock fell into line in marching order, and soon after marched down near the boat landing, stacked arms, & here I now write (3 ½ o’clock). The Reg. are lying & sitting on their knapsacks, while others are embarking & we don’t know as we shall be called for till night. About sunset made fires & got supper, then pitched tents & turned in. At 10 o’clock were roused from sleep & ordered to embark. Seven companies from the right (the other three Cos. In Laurel Hill) went on board the gunboat where we found only room to sit down on our packs. I got a leaning place & slept quite comfortably till morning.
Wednesday. No beef has yet arrived for the Regt., & only pork & bread enough are on hand for the day, so at present two days cooked rations are out of the question. Sent for storage the box of Co. cooking utensils & my large mattress, so that we now have nothing on hand but what we are to take with us when we march. A small mail arrived from N.O. bringing Northern dates of the 26th of March, but there was nothing for me from home. Rec’d notice from the Marine Hospital, New Orleans, of the death there, on the 27th of March, of Stephen S. Buzzell, of consumption, & of the discharge from service of Albert Brown, on the same date, on surgeon’s certificate of disability.
Saturday. This morning all the companies of the Regt. marched down to the railroad & brought up the tents, cooking utensils, & other baggage, & then pitched the tents on the ground we occupied last night. Got the cook’s things out of the boxes & got a warm meal for the men, the first “regular meal” they have had since Monday. Had dress parade at 5 o’clock.
The weather this weak has been the most delightful we have experienced since we have been in the state. The sky has been entirely cloudless nearly all the time, the sun was out but not oppressive, & a gentle breeze from the West most of the time, while the evenings made light by the full moon, and just cool enough for comfort in our ordinary clothes, have been charming indeed. I am almost reconciled to the country, & were it a land of freedom, of free schools, free speech, free churches, & live, industrious, enterprising, moral & intelligent New Englanders, and were all the near friends I have comfortably settled here, I don’t know but I would consent to fix my own residence even here in this land of cotton & cane!! Continue reading
Sent off the tents & baggage to the steamer “Empire Parish” late in the afternoon, & pitched shelter tents to spend the night in. the weather today has been cool, & this evening there is a very cold wind from the north. Stowed ourselves in the little tents & passed a tolerable night, tho’ some of the men suffered with the cold. The Chaplain returned yesterday from B[aton] Rouge & informed me of the death of Corp. Titcomb. He died at the Measles Hosp. & the Chaplain attended his funeral. Lt. Richards took charge of his effects & will send them to Titcomb’s uncle in Bangor. Wrote a letter to T. H. Wiggin of Levant, informing him of T’s death, & giving him some account of his sickness. I also wrote to Mrs. Gerald in regard to the sickness & death of her husband.
Finished my letter to Father, & sent it off.