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11th Vermont Infantry (aka First Heavy Artillery, Vermont Volunteers)

Journal of Portus Baxter Smith
Hartford, Corporal, Co. H

 Nov 1
This month comes in rather cool and windy. We are encamped near Strasburg. We do not have much to do only on picket and drill one hour in the forenoon. I pass off a good share of my time writing.

Nov 2
Today nothing to do and plenty of boys to help me do it. About night I drew four days rashons and I guess that a good many boys have had something to take for they all feel pretty well. I received a letter from Lydia.

Nov 3
Today I have been making a pair of dice out of bone. It is rather windy and I think it will rain tonight. I have not been very well for a number of days. I had to get up a number of times last night. My head aches very hard tonight but I guess I shall feel better in the morning.

Nov. 4
Today I am feeling a little better than I did yesterday. It is cool today and we had a few flakes of snow. It snowed quite hard on North Mountain for this time of year.

Nov 5
Today everything has passed off quite pleasant although we do not have much to do only to go on a picket once in six days. I do not have to go on picket for I am act 2nd Sargt.

Nov 6
Today we did not have anything to do untill afternoon. Then we drew four days rashons and we drew some potatoes for the first time since we have been in the Valley. I received a letter from Mother and wrote one to sister Lydia and one to cousin M---(?)

Nov 7
This morning we packed up and was ready to move at five o'clock but the order was countermanded and we are still in the same camp. This afternoon it has rained a very little. Some expect the Rebels are going to pitch into us and some have got to get up tomorrow morning at 3 o'clock and go out to the front and form a skirmish line so as to be ready for them if they come.

Nov 8
We got up this morning at 3 o' clock and went out front of the picket line. There we deployed a skirmish and remained there untill half past seven. Then we went into camp. All of the men voted for President today. I was one of the clerks of election. There was 24 votes cast in this Company, 10 for Mclellen and 14 for Abe. It was quite cool and rained a little during the day.

Nov 9
This morning we packed up and moved off at daylight. We marched untill about three in the afternoon then went into camp in some woods four miles from winchester. We pitched our tents and went to bed

Nov 10
We got up at roll call at day light and we did not do much untill afternoon. Then we drew 4 days rashons. The mail came in but there was none for me.

Nov 11
This morning we were up as usual. About noon the Rebbels cavalry came up and had a little skirmish with our pickets. We expected a general attack at night and we rolled up our blankets so as to be ready to move but at dark the firing stopped and we went to bed expecting to have a fight on the morrow.

Nov 12
This morning we got up before daylight packed up and ready to move. After daylight we went to work and built a small fort and some rifle pits. The pickets have been skirmishing most all day but we have not had any general engagement. Roll call at 8 and to bed again

Nov 13
Today we have not done much of anything only lay round in camp

Nov 14
This forenoon I and Pat went down to the brook and boiled our clothes. Also I drew 4 days rashons. Camp inspection at 4 o'clock so ends today. I received a letter from Lydia today.

Nov 15
Today I and Pat have been building a fire place and I think our tent will be some warmer to night. We had a brigade dress parade at three o'clock

Nov 16
All quiet today. It has been raining some and is a little cool to night. Dress parade the same as last night. I wrote a letter to Amery today.

Nov 17
This morning it rained a little. At two o'clock we had a brigade inspection after that a drill and dress parade. I have the Life of Bonaparte and am going to try and read a little of it tonight. One of the boys took it from an old Reb.

Nov 18
It has been raining all day. This morning we drew rashons and I think that I got some wheat. Today I received one letter from father.

Nov 19
This has been a rather sorrowfull day for this company. Benjamin Hill was taken sick day before yesterday and this afternoon he died with congestion of the brain. He was a very nice young man. All of the boys liked him very much. He was the only one who has ever died right in the company. After dinner we marched to the left of the Regiment.

Nov 20
Today I & Ed & Pat have been fixing up our tent with rails and we have built a fireplace out of stone and green wood. it has been rather stormy today. The mail came in today and it brought me a pair of boots and a letter from Lydia.

Nov 21
Today it has been stormy and there was a Corp Review. I did not go far as I had a hard cold and went to the doctor and got excused.

Nov 22
It was very cold and snowed some last night, cold as greenland. Today we drew rashons and I have made a floor in the tent out of cracker boxes. I guess that will be some better to sleep upon than the ground.

Nov 23
Today we have not been doing much. It is rather cool weather. At 5 o'clock we had a Regimental Dress Parade. Roll call and so ends the day.

Nov 24
Today it is a little warmer. We have not done much. In the evening I wrote a letter to my sister Lydia. Roll call at 8o'clock and to bed again

Nov 25
Today we have been getting out stockades for our tent. We have one side set up and I think if we have good luck we shall get our tent stockaded tomorrow.

Nov 26
Today we have been to work on our tent all the time we could get but have not got it done yet. At 4 o'clock there was a Brigade Dress Parade.

Nov 27
We have been to work on our tent all day and we are not done yet. This afternoon there was a Brigade Drill so we have not had much time to work today.

Nov 28
This afternoon there was a Battalion Drill but I did not go. I went off and got some rails and split them for a bunk. In the evening I and Ed made the bunk and I think it will be better than the ground to sleep upon. Carney is on Picket.

[note: there is a "Pat Carney" on the journal's list of names of H Company men--I take it that this is the "Pat" whom is mentioned as my great-grandfather P.B. Smith's tent mate]

Nov 29
Today there was a Battalion Drill. Built a bunk for Pat in the tent today.

Nov 30
Today we drew 4 days rashons and in the place of pork we had some salt fish.

 Dec 1
Today I've have been making out some clothing resieats (?) rolls for Lt Tilden. There has not been any drill today.

Dec 2
Today I have been charging the clothing drawn last month on the Clothing Book. There was a drill in the afternoon but I did not attend on account of writing.

Dec 3
I have not done much today. I have been feeling pretty hard sick. I have a hard cold and am lame all over. I cough a good deal nights.

Dec 4
Today I am not feeling well and every thing has gone about the same as yesterday.

Dec 5
Today the 5th Vt.packed up and went over where the 3rd Div lay to support a Battery. I am sick today and cannot eat anything.

Dec 6
Today it has been rather cooler and not much going on.

Dec 7
Today we drew rashons. Also some clothing and sighned up for some more

Dec 8
Nothing going on today. All is quiet

Dec 9
This morning we had orders to pack up and be ready to move at daylight. We did so and marched off. At dark we were at Harpers Ferry

Dec 10
We arrived in Washington about three o'clock in the afternoon. We had a hard time of it last night. It was cold and stormy most all night. When the order came to unload I went into a saloon to get something to eat and when I came out the boat had gone so I went up to Johneys and left my things. Then I went up to the Columbian Hospital and stayed with Sergt Chastwick

Dec 11
This morning I went over to Harwend (?) Hospital to see George Sargt but the guard would not let me in. Then I went up to Brummers (?) & Trucks (?). They were glad to see me Brummers so I stayed with them all day and night.

Dec 12
This morning I started from Brummers about 8 o'clock went and reported to Provo Marshall also. He sent me to Capt Camp (?) at the Soldiers Rest. In this place I remained during the day and night. The weather is mighty cold and its hard work to keep warm.

Dec 13
Today I went over to camp distribution where I drew some clothing and have been running around camp. I am not feeling very well today.

Dec 14
Today I went down and saw the Doctor and he excused me from going to the Corps today.

Dec 15
Today I went down and saw the Doctor and got excused from duty. It is quite cool here. It seems like a northern winter and I like this place very much.

Dec 16
This morning I went down and saw the Doctor but not excused. It has been thawing some and this evening it rained a little.

Dec 17
Today it has been little stormy. The 6th Corps men did not go today but expect to go tomorrow. There was two hundred guns fired in one of the forts in honor of the victory that General Thomas gained at Nashville. I wrote a letter home

Dec 18
Today we left camp district and went to Alexandria and took the mail boat for City Point. We some what crowded and don't expect to get much sleep tonight.

Dec 19
I arrived at City Point about three o'clock in the afternoon. Had a very pleasant time aboard the boat. The roll was called, then we drew some ? soup and hard tack for supper. Then went into the bull ring to stay through the night.

Dec 20
Stayed in the bull ring all night till about 8 o'clock. Went down to the cars, got out and started for the Regiment. Arrived there about 4o'clock in the afternoon. My Regiment is in the front line and the men have all got winter quarters built. So ends the day.

Dec 21
Today it has been raining quite hard. Since I came here there has not been much firing on the line. Last night I wrote a letter home. Lt. /tilden came in from Pickett this morning. I wrote a letter to Adams Express Company today. Think it is going to be cooler in the morning

Dec 22
Today there has not been much stirring in camp. It is quite cold weather and the wind blows so hard. This afternoon we have been to work getting out some lumber for a chimley.

Dec 23
This afternoon we have been to work building our chimley. Expect to get it done tomorrow. It was so cold this forenoon that we could not work.

Dec 24
Today we have been to work on our chimley and have got it done. We made it out of wood and mud and it works nicely. Tonight is Christmas eve and there is a good deal of noise in the different regiments. Guess some of the boys have had something to take but I do not find much to busy myself about.

Dec 25
Sunday and I have been writing home. We have had a Company Inspection at one o'clock. About 4 0'clock we had a Dress Parade. We formed a hollow square and the Chaplain Mr. Little preached a short sermon. Signed the papers for admittance today.

Dec 26
Today there has not been much going on. It has been raining a little. Every thing is quiet on the lines in our front.

Dec 27
Today the weather is a littly dry and I have been writing home for Lt. Tilden. Everything remains on the lines as usual quiet. We have about three days rashons.

Dec 28
Today I have not been doing much only made some eaves trouhs (?). Pat and Curtis have been washing. Some what windy today.

Dec 29
Today I and my tent mates have been to work building an addition to our house which will make it three tents long.

Dec 30
Today I have been washing my pants, drawers, shirt and stockings. Had to dry them by the fire. Received a letter from Father and one from cousin Fedelia.

Dec 31
Last night it snowed enough to make the ground white and is very cold today. I am afraid that men on outpost tonight will suffer with the cold.


 Jan 1
New Years day and a cold one so I helped Lt Tilden compose the muster roll. This afternoon I went and got some wood. This evening I have been passing off the time by reading and writing. Now it is time that all honest people were at bed and I will soon be there

Jan 2
Today we have not been doing much. It is a little warmer. This afternoon we all went out and brought in some wood. Also drew one days rashons of soft bread.

Jan 3
Today I have been doing some sewing for myself. It is quite warm and this evening it is snowing some but think it will turn to rain before morning. This afternoon I wrote a letter to cousin Fidelia

Jan 4
This morning we got up wood enough to last through the day and night. Then I went and drew two days rashons and issued them to the Company. Nothing happened worthy of notice in the afternoon. In the eve I heated some water and had a wash all over. It has been quite cool all day. In a few moments it will be roll call then I will to bed

Jan 5
This morning I went and drew one days rashon of pork. Nothing has happened worthy of notice. Went out and got wood for the night and this eve I and tent mates have made up our mind to try and leave off swearing. Hope we can accomplish what we have under taken. A flag of truce went out today and got three bodies. Between our Pickets and the Rebels they had layen there two months

Jan 6
Today it has been raining most all day. I wrote a letter to Mary. At 11 o'clock there was a man belonging to the 5th NH shot for desertion

Jan 7
Today It has been a little cooler. This forenoon we went and got some wood. We have to go about 1/2 mile for wood and bring it in on our backs. Today we drew rashons to last up to the 11th. Some Express came for the Act Corps. For the first time Pat is our Guard.

Jan 8
Sunday and everything has been quiet all day. At one o'clock we had a Company Inspection by Lt. Tilden. At four o'clock there was a Regimental Dress Parade Major Walker comd. It has been rather cool but pleasant. The 6th Corps train came yesterday. Benjamin Clark, John and Marks has been over to the Company.

Jan 9
We made our shanty one tent longer today and drew two days rashons of soft bread. At two o'clock we had a Regimental Drill. Tonight Lt. Tilden got a furlough of 20 days and it is to start tomorrow morning for Mr. Carroll came back today.

[note: the following notation was written in obvious haste around the margin sides of the previous paragraph].

At 4 o'cl this morning the Rebels pitched into our Pickets and took 6 men prisoner. We in camp had to turn out double quick.

Jan 10
Last night it commenced raining very hard and rained until about four o'clock this afternoon. It has washed down most all of our chimley and the mud off the outside of our house. I never seen so hard a rain but once before since I came into the army. We drew rashons today. The wind blows tonight and I think it will soon be cooler.

Jan 11
It is quite muddy after the rainstorm but warm and pleasant. I have been cooking some beans and they made us a good supper. Everything has been quiet along the lines today. Brigade DressParade at 4'o'clock.

Jan 12
Today we have not done much. It has been very warm and pleasant. At half past four we had a Brigade DressParade.

Jan 13
It has been very quiet along the lines today and we had a Brigade DressParade. I went out.

Jan 14
Today I drew rashons. It has been very pleasant and warm. Brigade Parade, I did not go out. Stayed in and got supper for my tent mates. Made a soup. Letter from Lydia.

Jan 15
Very pleasant this morning but cloudy and smokey near night. Company inspection at one o'clock. Brigade Parade at 1/2 past four. My furlough went in today.

Jan 16
Had a Brigade inspection at ten o'clock by the Brigade Inspector. After dinner, I and Pat done the washing for our tent. Regimental DressParade at 5 o'clock. There is a rhumer (!) that the Rebs are going to try and drive us out of this place tomorrow morning. If they do they will find hot work.

Jan 17
It has been a little cooler and the Rebs have not drove us out. We were all out of rashons and had to go without any dinner. A Brigade Review at 30'clock. Drew some soft bread about dark. The report is tonight that Fort Fisher is taken with 40 arms and 1,000 prisoners.

Jan 18
Today it has been a little cooler. My furlough came in after dinner, to start tomorrow morning.

Jan 19
Started from the cars at five, had to wait untill 1/2 past six. Arrived at City Point got my furlough & (?) transportation and aboard the boat at ten o'clock. Arrived at Fort Anama(?) at 4 o'clock. It is now dark and we are on the bay. [next sentence is not decipherable as the writing is so shaky apparently from the pitch & roll of the boat. It says something about Mail boat]

Jan 20
I did not get much sleep upon the boat last night. There was a good deal of ice in the Patomac and we did not arrive at Washington untill noon. Then I went to the Pay Master and got my pay. Went up to Johnneys then to the depot and bought my ticket and went on the 6 o'clock train.

Jan 21
I did not get much sleep upon the cars last night. The 5 o'clock train run off the track and we did not get into (?) untill late. Left there on the 11 o'clock train and had a very pleasant ride to Springfield. It was dawn when we got to (?) . Arrived at WR Junction at midnight.

Jan 22
I arrived at home about one halp past two in the morning. It is nice Slaying (sleighing!). Went to S church (?) in the afternoon. Found Lydia at home after S church

Jan 23
Today I went down to the village and bought me a pair of pants and stayed at home most all of the time. It snowed some today.

Jan 24
I went down after Lydia this afternoon and I visited her school. The slaying is not very good.

Jan 25
Today I have not been doing much. Went over to the shops.

[NOTE: Unfortunately this is the last entry by Great Grandfather Smith. I don't know if there were other journals kept later after he went back to the front. There is one interesting notation in the back of the journal on a blank page by a young woman named Hannah:]

Hartford Jan 31st 1865
Poor boy, so sleepy and tired and the girls won't go home and let you retire- well perhaps I should go but your mother said I might stay and I know not when we should meet again. You are soon to go to the field of strife again. Will you sometimes think of Hannah?

[There is also a page of cryptic notations on a blank page at the back--don't know who wrote them but I assume PB Smith:]

August 23 1868

Little Mary down in Maine

Henry his Sabbath School walks farther n going for a load of wood

God is now here, now what

A minister traveling in Scottland asks a girl to pray - O God show me my self for Jesus sake amen

Three steps to heaven--out of the self, into Jesus and then into heaven soldiers on Picket Guard

The 10th day of August I made up my mind not to drink any more. Intro to taking drinks while in the army.

[There are various list in the beginning and in the back of the notebook which is a small 7 x 4 leather bound, lined paper notebook. These lists are of men in the co.; cash rec'd ; cash paid out for supplies; clothing issued to men in the co; letters rec'd and letters written by PB Smith; ammunition and gun supplies for co; rashons for 52 men; Some of the lists look complete and some not.]

[Grandfather Smith was a 15 year old boy at the time of his enlistment in 1862. He was born in Canada but I do not have information as to where. Material in the archives in DC list him as having married a Mary E (probable the Mary Ward of Manchester noted in the journal) & as having at least 3 children: Lenox Baxter b 11/25/69; Bertha C b 12/8/71 and Schuyler Robert b 11/30/1875. There is also a mention of a Carolyn Keen Smith --don't know if this was another daughter or not.]

Journal transcribed by, and in possession of Caroleanne Smith Paulis/Photopoulos, (call her Cappie), great-granddaughter of Portus Baxter Smith. Email:

Transcription of Portus Smith's Discharge

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