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11th Vermont Infantry (aka First Heavy Artillery, Vermont Volunteers)
Journal of Portus Baxter Smith
Hartford, Corporal, Co. H
Sept 1, 1864
Hurrah boys Hurrah only one year more to serve in the army and if God spares my life I will then be at home with my friends. We came in from picket last night. We were mustered for two months pay by C[olone]l Warner. Today we drew 2 days rations and have orders to get ready for inspection at 6. The SUTTLER has come and the boys are trying to buy him out. We had the inspection and Maj Walker thought our guns did not look very well. Sergt Blaisdell came back to Co. Yesterday received a letter from my sister Lydia and from Corp. Peirce. During the day I wrote a letter to cousin Fedelia.
This morning we got up & ate our breakfast as usual. We have orders to clean up our guns ready for inspection tonight. It is very cool and pleasant today but there is not much going on in company. We were inspected by C[olone]l Warner and had orders to be ready to move at daylight. So ends the day.
We were packed up breakfast eat and ready to move at daylight and at 5 we started. Marched untill most noon and stopped to get dinner. After dinner we went to sleep and I did awake untill 4 o'clock. This place is called Clifton Farm. We have just eaten our supper and I think we shall stay here tonight
Today we have not been doing much of anything and passing off the time the best we could. It has looked like rain all day but has not any yet. The chaplain had a meeting tonight and there was a good many went, Roll call at 8 and to bed. During the day I wrote a letter to Lydia.
About midnight we were waked up and ordered to pack up and fall in which we did and moved about one mile and a half to the right of the army and threw up a line of brest (sic) works the length of the brigade - it rained quite hard all of the time. About 7 in the morning we moved back near our old camp and made camp and then during the day we did not much only sleep. It is most dark now and raining quite hard. So ends the day.
It has been raining most all day & it is a pretty cold rain. Last night it was rather cool and hard work to keep warm with nothing but a rubber blanket. It is election day today in the army and I am one of the clerks in the Co. there is not much fun for there is not opposition. This afternoon we drew 3 days rations. I am in a tent with Norris and Turner. We have just been and got some straw -think our tent will be quite warm tonight.
We were up a little after daylight and ate our breakfast. It was so cold in the night that I could not sleep much so I lay myself down and slept most all of the forenoon. The sun is shining bright and it is quite pleasant and warm this afternoon. There has not been any fighting near here for a number of days but the report came into camp tonight that Petersburg is taken and the news in the papers is very good today. At 5 tonight we had a Co inspection. It is going to be a cold night.
We were up as usual this morning and have been doing about the same as we did yesterday. It rained most all of the afternoon. Did not have any dress parade or inspection tonight. The prospect is a rainy night
We had orders last night after roll call to be ready to move at 4 o'clock to the place called RIPTON (?) Guard is going in the supply train. It is 4 miles from here to Ripton and 2 miles from there to Charleston. At 4 we were ready to move and did. We arrived at the the above names place at 7 o'clock. The 2nd Vermont went with us. We went into some woods near the Pike Staered (?) farm and rested untill around noon. Then the train came and we marched along side of them to camp. Arrived in camp about 5 and drew 3 days rations. The road was very muddy. The mail came in tonight and I received a letter from Mother with a hankerchief and a letter from Manchester N.H.
We did not have to rise very early this morning for we had not much to do this day. We had two or three showers this forenoon but this afternoon it has been very pleasant. Myself, Ben Clark and L. Edgerton went over to the well this afternoon and washed our clothes and person. I have just been to supper and had some hard tack, coffee and sugar. So ends the day if we do not move before midnight.
Sunday and nothing to do not even go to a church. It rained very hard last night, I think I have not seen as hard but one time since I have been in the service. That was when we first went to SLOEUM(?) It has rained most all of the time today and it makes me feel homesick for everything is wet and so am I. It is going to be cold tonight and I've nothing but a rubber blanket. This afternoon I wrote a letter to Henry Norris and one to M Fr.(?).ckson.
This morning we moved camp about 30 roads (sic) The wind has blowen very hard and it is some what cold. The Suttler came in tonight with the train. We drew 3 days rashions and some clothing.Tonight I guess I shall sleep a little warmer. I am sick tonight I have been troubled with the Summer complaint for the past 2 days. Received a letter from Wmn Davis
Last night after roll call we had orders to be ready to move a half past 5 so we were up and ready. The unqualified men did not have to g & I was one of them. Some are having stole my gun a few nights before. The whole of the 2d division went out to find the Rebs and they found them about 5 miles from here near Bunker Hill. This report: did not fire a gun but took a pretty severe shelling. There was some lieut and one man involved both having their left leg and arm shot off by one shell. The Rebs returned about 11 o'clock. The Cavelry took about 250 prisoners. I've not been feeling very well today.
Today we have not been doing much it has rained much it has rained most of the time today. During the day and evening I wrote a letter to Wmn Davis.
Today there has not been doing much and we drew 4 days rations and some clothing. We were inspected by the Inspector General in Company three and (??) team came up again. Tonight is very pleasant. Today after the mail came I did not get a single letter
We did not do much till afternoon, then we moved camp a little (??) and we have got it fixed up so that it looks quite neat and tidy. We had seven new recruits come to us last night and Frank Orman came with them
Nothing happened worthy of mentioning untill near noon. Then the train came up with 4 days rations and some clothing. At half past 3 we had ordered to pack up and be ready to move at a moments notice. We did so and had just got ready to fall in when the order was countermanded and we pitched our tents again. There was a meeting in this Regiment tonight. I received a letter from Lydia today. The drums are beating for roll call. So ends this day, Sunday.
Today there was one of the largest battles fought and (??) in the valley the largest that ever was fought in the valley. We were up at 2 in the morning and ready to move. We did so and came up to where the Rebs were at 6 o'clock. (The Cavalry surprised them in the morning and took 100 prisoners) We formed a line and was moving on them when Norris was wounded by a shell. I did not have any gun so the (??) sent me to the rear with him. I did so and we were half way back when our boys made a charge. Then I thought it was not best to go up so I stayed in the rear. Our boys above them but had to fall back. Then at the second time had to give up part of the ground they gained. The third time they charged it was most night and they drove them beyond Winchester. It is reported that we took over 7 thousand prisoners. It was a hard battle for the Rebs. There was 95 officers and men wounded in this regiment. The following named ones were wounded in this Co (H) Cat James Eldridge; Sargt I.R. Clark; M.T. Russell; C.E.Hubbard. All of them but Norris was wounded very bad. I arrived to the regiment about 9 in the evening. I picked me up a gun on the way. (??) Lincoln was wounded and very bad.
We were up, ate our breakfast and started after the retreating Rebs at 6 0'clock. We marched untill noon when we halted near New Town and got dinner. Then we moved on and came to a halt in the woods 1 mile from Strasburg about 2 o'clock and remained there that night. We had a pretty hard march this day. In about 7 hours we moved near 18 miles and our loads were very large.
About noon we moved off to the right and formed a line of battle. Remained there untill near dark. Then we moved a little (??) farther and after dark we built rifle pitts in front of our Brigade.
This morning we got up before light and drank a little coffee and remained in the pitts untill about 2 o'clock. Then we formed in line of battle in front of the brest ranks. Moved to the left into some woods. Then we marched to the front to the edge of the woods and at 5 o'clock we charged on the Rebs. Ranks carried them (??) about 16 pieces of artillery and 1000 prisoners. We followed the retreating Rebs all night. There was not many killed on the other side. I had a ball shot through my hat rim.
We marched all night. About 6 o'clock we drew up to the other side of Woodstock for breakfast and we drew 3 days rations. On the road there was a plenty of smashed infantry waggons and dead horses. I think the Rebs must have been in a hurry. Tilden had a letter from the Capt. today, he is getting along nicely and says that Edgerton is no more. I am sorry, we shall miss him much. About noon we started again and marched one mile the other side of Edenburg. There we encamped for the night. We drew 1/2 ration of Whiskey in Day. Most of the regiment on Pi (?)her (??)
This morning we were up and ready to move at 6. We did so and when we got to Mt. Jackson we found the Rebs on the other side of the rive. We moved down to the river in line of battle. There we settled and we sent a skirmish across and our artillery flanked some (??). Then the Rebs soon left. Then our Cavalry put after them and we followed on. Near New Market, we came up to them and fought there for 3 miles and artillery shelled their waggon train about 1 hour when it became dark. Then we went into camp for the night. We had a hard march today and we are all very tired and lame.
Today we started about (??) and marched all day past night. The Rebs fell back and one on my old shoes is getting pretty well wore out so I got a pass to ride on an ambuslaner(?) We came to a halt for the night near Harrisonburg about 4 o'clock. I guess Sheridan wants we should have one good night's rest.
Today we layed in camp all day. Did not do much. For my part I slept most of the time. During the day I wrote a letter home.
Today we have not done much, only lay out Company streets (?) . About 9 in the evening we drew 4 days rations. This is very good farming country about here but the war spoils everything. There has been a little cannonading out in the front this afternoon. I think it must be the Cavalry. Orders to move at 5 o'clock
This morning we were up & ready to move at 5o'clock but the order was countermanded and we remained in camp all day. Some of the boys went out foraging but did not get much only a few apples. Two boys in the regiment was taken prisoner by the gaurillers.
Today we moved (??) to the front again. We came to a halt and went into camp near Mt. Craford. It is almost 6 miles from Harrisonburg. There has not been much going on this afternoon only the boys have been out foraging some/
Today we have not been doing much. This forenoon we had just got our dinner ate when we had orders to move and we did move back to our old camp at Harrisonburg.and we had (??) a hard rain storm. Last night Capt Safford with a detail of men went out to a mill and ground flour all night. The cavalry have been burning off the hay and grain in front of here. Sheridan does not intend to leave much for the Rebs to live upon in the valley this winter.
It has been raining most all day so we have not had much to do only keep dry. This morning it snowed a very little.
Today it has been quite pleasant and we have not done much only drawn 4 days rations. The mail came in and I received a letter from Schuyler and one from cousin Fidelia.
Today we have not done anything only lay round in camp and pass off the time the best we could.
Today there has nothing happened worth keeping track of only we are in camp and all quiet
In camp and all quiet the same as yesterday
We had orders last night to be ready to move at 1/2 past five and we did start back up the Valley. We marched all day with out stopping to get dinner. We arrived near Mt Jackson about dark. We marched 24 miles. It was a long and hard march. Here we encamped for the night. We are all out of rations.
This morning we drew 1/2 days rations of hard bread. Packed up and moved off again. Halted about 16 c near Strasburg and went into camp. We drew 4 days rations and some clothing. I received a letter from home and one from Manchester with a photograph included.
This morning we drew some coffee and sugar but no hard bread. About 6 o'clock we packed up and moved off again. We marched untill about 5, then we went into camp this side of Woodstock. Myself, McCarty went & got a pig and a few sweet potatoes and made out quite a supper. We marched about 20 miles today
Today we remained here in camp doing nothing to speak of and it has been a dreadfull cold day. It is impossible for us to keep warm with our woolen blanket round us. I and Ed have just been off about a mile and got some straw to sleep in tonight.
Last night after roll call we had orders to be ready to move in the morning. So we were up and started a little after sunrise. We went through Strasberg acrost Cedar Creek to Middletown. There we filed off to the left towards Front Royal near which place we arrived about 4 o'clock. Here we encamped for the night. Just before dark I went up onto a high hill in front of us and it was a splendid sight. I could see Front Royal, Manansus Bay, the mountains surrounding and at my feel a large meadow with the Shenandoah (?) River running through it. I am tired and foot sore so I am going to bed.
Today we have been in camp all day and I have not done anything only wash my person and shirt. it has been very chilly and rather cold washing. So ends the day.
Today everything went on about the same as it did yesterday. Last night after roll call I was taken with a very hard pain in my heart and left side. From there it went to my stomach and I was quite sick. I did not go to bed untill after 3 in the morning. Then I felt a little better and went to sleep. Today I am feeling a little better but I have a blister on my foot and have cought cold in it.
Last night we had orders to ready to move at six o'clock. We were up ate our breakfast and ready to move at the appointed time. I was not feeling very well so I went to the doctor and got a pass to ride. It has been very cold all day. My foot is so sore that I cannot wear my shoe. The 6th corps was ordered to Petersburg but when we got to Ashbys Gap the order was countermanded and we went back on the heights and encamped for the night. I got off the ambulance and went to company.
This morning at 3 o'clock we got up and started for Cedar Creek. My foot was so sore that it was hard work for me to march so Tilden gave my gun & c to one of the new recruits to carry and told me to get along the best way I could.I got through Middletown about dark. There I and C. Davis stopped and got some supper, then make up our bed and went to sleep. It is about 18 miles from Ashbys Gap to this place.
This morning we got up and ate our breakfast then started for camp which we found without much trouble. I did not do much only write a letter to cousin Fidelia and see a cave which is about a mile from here and it is about 150 feet long. There was one large room in near ten feet square. The 6th regiment time is out today.
Today we are in camp and there is nothing going on worthy of notice
Today it is quite cool and the wind blows hard. We are doing nothing but cleaning up our guns ready for inspection at 4 o'clock. The Rebs are building forts and batteries on Fishers Hill and I think we should have hard work to take them again. We had inspection and dressparade at 4 o'clock
Today we have done nothing but pass off the time the best we could. Some think that the Rebs are going to try and drive us out of this place but I don't thing they can do the thing very easy.
Today there has been another hard fought battle and the Rebbels are whipped again. This morning about 1/2 past 4 I waked up and the pickets were firing quite sharp out on the right. I got up and went out in the fire and in a few minutes there was a heavy volley fired on the left. We soon had orders to pack up. I packed up and went to the rear for one of the new recruits had my gun on picket. I expect he is taken prisoner for he has not been heard from since. The Rebs pitched into the 8th Corps and turned their left. Then they all run. That scairt the 18th Corps and some of them run too. The 6th Corps went up and pitched into the Rebs and the Rebs were above them untill about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Then the 6th drove them back across Cedar Creek and through Strasburg. The fight ended at last and the report is that we took 30 pieces of artillery besides some that they had taken from us in the morning. The number of persons kild or wounded is unknown.
Today we are back in our old camp but it does not look quite so nice as it did before the battle. Dead men and horses lay all round upon the ground but the prisoners are at work burying them. Today I picked me up a gun and have been cleaning it. We had orders to pack up and be ready to move again today but the order was countermanded.
This morning we got up and ate our breakfast and was standing round the fire warming ourselves when we had orders to pack up. We did so and marched a short distance beyond Strasburg (nothing but the second division went) Then there was a detail for picket. We pitched our tents and passed off the time best we could. On the here there was all kinds of war rashon waggons burning beside the road, some that the rebbels had not time to get away.
Today we are in the same place as we was yesterday and not doing much. I am writing a little. Most all of the company is out on picket. Three Rebs that hid themselves in the woods came out today and gave themselves up to our pickets. Today I have written a letter to Lydia and one for Timothy.
Today we moved our company about 10 rads (?) and I have written a letter for William Magiveny. Today we drew three plugs of tobacco and a plug of smoking. This afternoon I baked a sweet cake for supper and it went pretty well with a saldur (?). So ends the day. In the evening I went to a meeting in a brick school house at Strasburg.
Today we did not do much and pass off the time best we could.
Today nothing happened only we drew three days rashons and I received a letter from home and I sent a letter to sister Lydia. I and Pat stockaded our tent.
Today we boarded up the front side of our tent and we drew one days rashon of flour.
Today happened today worth mentioning. I and Pat had our flour baked by a woman in Strasburg and we had some for supper. It tasted very good to us for we had not had any for so long. Today we were paid off for six months and I got 57.50 and sent home fifty dollars by express.
Today I and Pat put up a door to our shanty and the 2nd Suttlers came up and I bought a pair of gloves off him and some paper. It rained last night very hard, the wind blowes and it is quite cold today. I have written three letters today, one home, one to Wm Davis and one to Wm Fortune. Thats all for today.
Today we have not done much only pass off the time the best way as could. I wrote a letter to sister Lydia.
Today we have not done much only we drew four days rashons and I wrote a letter to cousin (Masie or Marie or Mark ? can't decipher)
Today is Sunday, we had a division review in the forenoon and an inspection and muster in the afternoon. I was sick and off duty.
Journal transcribed by, and in possession of Caroleanne Smith Paulis/Photopoulos, (call her Cappie), great-granddaughter of Portus Baxter Smith. Email: cappie_@_webtv.net.