Life In Camp (J. C. Williams)
Next Chapter Return to Introduction
A new Camp. -- Another severe Storm. -- No Drilling. -- All quiet in Camp. -- Small Pox. -- The Regiment is paid off. -- More Rumors. -- Cold Weather. -- Deep Snow. -- Target Practice. -- Drilling resumed. -- Movement of Troops. -- The 2d Brigade still in the Reserve Corps. -- Winter in earnest. --- Another Box from Home.
For the twelfth time we are in a new camp. Our present one is half a mile south of Fairfax Station. At seven o'clock this morning everything was in readiness to be moved, and the regiment in line. Our Lieut. Colonel gave the command, Battalion! Right Face! Forward March! and arrived here at ten o'clock in the forenoon, five miles from our former encampment.
I was well aware that there would be a storm, and present indication warn us that before we can possibly got our tents pitched, it will be upon us.
We found barracks here built by Slocum's troops, into which we went, using our fly tents for roofs, our A tents not coming.
The severe rain storm which came on during the first night of our arrival here, continued until to-day, and has made it very uncomfortable for us. I awoke this morning not feeling any better for the cool bath I was obliged to take during the night, in consequence of the roof blowing off my tent, which left me exposed to the drenching rain and wind. I have been pretty thoroughly soaked, and do not think I shall receive any material benefit from it.
The rain has abated to-day, but the mud is so deep it is almost impossible to move. Nothing of importance to-day.
Morning has again opened her silver curtains to us. The ever glorious sun is shedding his radiant beams upon, and reviving and preparing us for the duties of another day. All is life and animation in our camp. But on either hand, as far as the eye can reach, may be seen war's desolation The weather is very fine and spring-like to-day.
How long we shall stay here is mere conjecture. The idea of going into winter quarters has "gone up" with us, our expectations having failed so many times.
We are having a very easy time of it at present, as far as drilling in concerned. The mud is very deep, and the army at such times must necessarily remain inactive.
All is again quiet in camp. Nothing of importance from the army in general, lately. There must be months of inactivity before the Army of the Potomac can effect a movement.
We have remained here a great deal longer than was expected. Nothing has transpired of general interest since we have been in this camp.
Drilling has been dispensed with for the present, which makes our labor very easy here, there not being anything but guard and fatigue duty to perform at the Station.
The small pox has raged to some extent in this regiment, and much fear was felt that it would spread alarmingly, but the regiment have all been vaccinated, and no new cases have occurred lately, so that nothing further is to be apprehended. A cold storm of rain and snow to-day.
The paymaster was in camp yesterday, and paid off the regiment. To-day there is much rejoicing in camp among the boys, who have received two months pay in "Uncle Sam's" green backs. The ground is covered with snow.
Rumors are afloat today that Burnside has been attacking the enemy at Fredericksburg, but I do not think he is intending a grand movement while the weather is so unfavorable.
The weather for the past week has been very unfavorable for marching or drilling, and it is generally conceded that the theory of a soldier's life is better than the practice.
Our camp is again getting monotonous. The regiments of this brigade area at present situated as follows: The 12th and 13th are at Wolf Run Shoals, five miles from here; the 15th and 16th are encamped near the 14th, the headquarters of the brigade being at the Court House, five miles distant.
The weather is extremely cold at present, and about a foot of snow had fallen, which is an unusual occurrence in this vicinity. Rail fences are getting scarce here. We shall probably remain in this camp until settled weather, when a move will doubtless take place.
Target practice is our main drill at present. The Government doubtless intends to adopt vigorous measures for the prosecution of the war the coming campaign. Nothing should be neglected to make our armies efficient. A sufficient number of men should be put in the field the coming spring to insure success. Southern reports are to the effect that the rebels are augmenting their armies by a merciless conscription, and that they will be strong the coming spring than ever before.
There is a rumor afloat in camp to-day, that this brigade is going back to Chain Bridge, but I cannot put any reliance upon such reports. It still remains cold, and the ground is frozen hard.
Our target practice is getting to be an interesting exercise. Co.. Nichols, wishing to know which company possessed the greatest ability in marksmanship, ordered the battalion out, each man with forty rounds of cartridges, and on testing their ability, the honor was conferred upon Company B. Sixty round are being used daily for this practice.
The weather has been so bad that we have had no battalion drilling for three weeks. Only eight deaths have occurred in this regiment up to this date, while the 15th Vermont has lost five times that number.
Warmer to-day. Nothing of importance.
The ground has become so far settling that drilling has been resumed. Six hours each day are now devoted to battalion drill, so that we do not complain of a lack of exercise.
We have been busily engaged in constructing a corduroy road between here and the shoals, to accommodate the 12th and 15th.
These has been some movements among the troops in this department. Quite a number of regiments are being sent to the front. No unusual event in camp to-day.
The troops in this vicinity are still on the move to the front. The Army of the Potomac is doubtless to be reorganized. It rained slightly yesterday, but to-day the weather is beautiful overhead.
Not much drilling for the past few days, in consequence of the bad state of the weather. Hope that soon the elements will be favorable for a move of some kind. The Government is support a large army at an immense cost, and an effective blow should be struck ere long, to cheer the desponding heart of the nation.
Another pleasant day, and the mud is drying up. Still in the reserve corps for the defense of the Capital --the army still inactive.
Very dull in camp to-day, winter in earnest. The ground has been covered with snow for several days. Nothing has occurred of general interest to-day, save a general snow-balling by the regiment.
Our camp is seeming quite dreary at present. The snow has fallen to the depth of a foot.
We hear of those at home who are already beginning to shake in their boots for fear of the draft which is soon to take place. Such people have doubtless become horrified upon the subject of war, for it has lasted longer than most of the people thought for. I fear that there has not been earnestness enough in the people of the North in prosecuting the war. They have not viewed the matter in its true light, and realized the gigantic proportions of this Rebellion. They have shown too much mercy to those wretches who are grappling so earnestly at the throat of the nation. The advantages have been with the South, in having a knowledge of the country, and by acting on the defensive; and it is generally conceded by good tacticians, that the invading army should be three times as strong as the invaded.
But this does not show our weakness in so striking a degree as when we consider the sympathy manifested in the North for secession. There is too much sympathy for the rebels in their unholy and devilish work. This has been a great drawback to us in accomplishing what we should. The President would doubtless have issued his emancipation scheme before, had it not been for this opposition. It was evident to him, as well as to al far-seeing statesmen, that slavery was the cause and main story of the rebellion, and by the opposition of those who would not recognize any policy which touched the "Sacred Institution, " he was deterred from issuing that proclamation which embodies the noble principles ever conceived by man, and thereby striking at once at the foundation of this most uncalled for strife.
Have again received a box of luxuries from home, and fear that I shall have to report to the surgeon in the morning. I am feeling very grateful to my dear friends at home for this expression of their kindness, and hope that I may soon be permitted to return to the family circle. A new surgeon has been appointed for this regiment.