Troops embarking on ship in 63

Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
3,323
Location
Worcester, MA
#21
Nice photos as one could have my GGF in it! Here is what he wrote about the IX Corps on the move in 1863.

February 9th. Broke camp at daylight, packed up and ready to move. The scene of packing up was lively and exhilarating, with bonfires in plenty of old barrels, remains of shanties and chimneys and old boxes. At 7 a.m. took cars and were landed at Aquia Creek and from thence on board the steamer Louisanna were soon steaming down the Potomac. Our ultimate destination is as yet unknown to us. Reports say to KY or East TN. At the first we go to Fort Munroe. Our whole Corps is on the move. We were not sorry to bid goodbye to the soil and state of VA. It is little else but a slough hole of mud now. While en route to Aquia Creek saw many of our baggage wagons stuck in the mud, some in rather laugh able positions, no laughing matter to the poor mules, however. The whole country from Falmouth to Aquia Creek presents but one scene of desolation. Woods, fences, and all unoccupied out buildings are fast disappearing before the hungry wants of the multitude of campfires. Houses not occupied by citizens (and many of the latter have fled into the interior of “Dixie”) are used for hospitals and headquarters of officers. Fields are cut up with heavy wagon and artillery trains or trenched and dug over for camps and fortifications. Many of the hitherto quiet and peaceable homes are thus desolated, and I fear the owners will never see them, harvest fields and homes, under prosperous circumstances again.

February 10th.
Made but little progress last night, remaining at anchor most of the night. Got but little sleep owing to the crowd and consequent noise and confusion on board. There are three regiments of us on board, 51st PA and 21st MA. Fine weather and our sail down the river has been very pleasant. It is truly a noble river for commercial purposes, presents but little of any great interest in its scenery. All sorts of methods are adopted to pass or improve the time. Some busy with card playing, some with novel reading, some with a better class of reading, and still more with viewing the scenery. It was interesting to watch the men at these various methods of whiling away the time, and a pretty good way in which to get at the habits and mental tastes of most of them. Busy with viewing the scenery and reading rather lazily in a history of the United States.

February 11th.
Took up a position on the hurricane deck last night and slept quite soundly. Woke up to find the weather raw and chilly. Passed the impregnable looking walls of Fort Munroe, which looked strong enough to defy the combined navies of the world. Thank God it did not treacherously get into rebel hands. Steamed up the James River, passing the half-sunken wrecks of the Congress and Cumberland. The sight of these caused feelings of wonder and enthusiasm with thoughts of the overruling providence of God. Which in turning what seemed at the first to be a terrible disaster into a consummate and wonderful victory into the change that must eventually ensue in the manner of conducting naval warfare for the future. Landed at Newport News and went into camp on a good camp spot of sandy soil with a smooth grassy surface and quite in contrast to our mud hole of Falmouth. Out up our shelter tents, two to a tent, John W. Fiske, tenting with me.
 

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Freddy

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
3,323
Location
Worcester, MA
#22
Here is the return trip from Fort Monroe to Baltimore then by train to Pittsburgh and then Kentucky/Tennessee.

March 25th.
A busy day. Received letter from Abbie. Wrote one to her. Sorry to learn of her continued ill health, how I wish I might get home to see her. Orders read at dress parade for us to be ready to move on the morrow.

March 26th.
Orders came ere we had finished our breakfast to “pack up.” Struck tents which were “turned over” to the post here, packed up our traps and waited until 4 PM ere orders came to move. Passed the time lounging about the soon deserted camp, and reading sundry miscellaneous newspapers. The camp presented a novel scene, the ground was strewn with all sorts of rubbish which had accumulated the past six weeks, old barrels and boxes, old bottles and tin cans and preserve pots, fragments of rations, old cast off clothes, worn out tents, old boots and shoes. The Negroes from the vicinity were gathering up these odds and ends and carrying them off by cartloads. Various bonfires were built of the boxes, barrels, remains of tents etc. Some of the men amused themselves with pitching quoits, others with card playing, and at one time an amusing mock dress parade was had, The participants dressing themselves in old ragged and cast off clothing, with clubs and long poles for muskets, and ragged tents for flags. Going through the manual, etc. much to their own amusement and that of the on lookers. Others amused themselves in the inhumane, though laughable, act of capturing some hapless Negro and tossing him high in the air with a woolen blanket. Four men taking the blanket by the corners, placing the Negro in the center, and giving the blanket a spring, it would send its occupant several feet into the air. Coming down would be caught in the blanket and sent upward again, and so on until the Negro would get away or the parties get tired of their game. At last came the orders to move and at 5 PM we were on board the steamer John Brooks steaming down the James and bidding goodbye to Newport News. So end our six weeks or more of pleasant camp life. Pleasant they have been a sort of “sunny side” soldiering. Our rations regular and of the vest quality. Soft bread, fresh meat three times per week, pork or bacon sides the other three, and beans once per week, potatoes and onions twice a week, coffee twice per day, and molasses once a week, and plenty of soap and candles. Had no very irksome drills so that the days passed swiftly away. Now an unknown future of perhaps toil and danger are before us. The sail out into the Chesapeake Bay by Fort Munroe was delightful, it being just as the sun was setting and as its rays glistened on the water, the shipping, steamers, the fort and the surrounding shore, the scene was truly pleasing. Were quartered in the hold of the steamer, air was close and hardly room to stretch out on account of the crowd on board.

March 27th
.
Passed the night comfortably, considering. The sail up the bay to Baltimore was pleasant, the day cool and bright, a battery and the 51st NY and our regiment composed the cargo. Had a schooner in the tow containing the 21st. MA. The scenery along the bay, presented little that was very striking, An occasional village or lighthouse relieving the dull monotony of the woodland. Arrived at Baltimore at 12 AM. A two-mile march through the center of the city brought us to the Depot of the Northern Central R. R. and just at dark we were fairly on board, 40 to a car, in box freight cars. A barrel of boiled pork was stuck into each car, which with our three days rations of “hard tack” or hard bread was to be our food to Pittsburgh. It is now pretty certain we are going to Kentucky to be placed there as a sort of a reserve. Got away from Baltimore at near 12 at midnight.
 



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