Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of September 1862
September 1, 1862
No firing as yet. Troops are moving in all directions, it is so difficult to tell what next will turn up. We are expecting to march every moment. The ambulances have gone out again this morning with a flag of truce to bring in the wounded. At five o'clock pm we got the order to pack up. Soon after it commenced to rain furiously, we were drenched for two hours. Then were ordered to fall into line where we remained till near midnight. After getting into the streets of Centerville our march was so slow that we did not get out of the place till daylight.
September 2, 1862
Continued the march towards Fairfax, arrived there about ten o'clock am. The Regiment turned to the right to avoid going through the town and myself and another man left it to go through the town and join it on the other side but was not so fortunate, the Regiment evidentially having gone somewhere to encamp. Searched a long time for it without success, then turned my steps towards Alexandria with heavy firing in our rear. Traveled along leisurely till dark then concluded to camp for the night by the roadside.
September 3, 1862
Turned out wet and cold with the nights dew. Made a dish of coffee and fried a small piece of pork and made out a breakfast, then proceeded on our way. The road on both sides was lined with troops but our Regiment could not be found. Got to Alexandria about noon. My first care was to provide myself with a substantial dinner then made inquiries for our Regiment but receiving no information left the place in route for Fort Albany. Arrived there about four o'clock pm, met a former acquaintance. Stopped to rest a while and talk over old time affairs but hearing that the Regiment was but a short distance from here started off in search of it. Traveled about till dark without success then returned to the Fort. Was provided with supper and offered a tent to sleep in but preferred the open air and made arrangements accordingly.
September 4, 1862
Turned out from our blankets at a late hour feeling rather the worse for wear. Were furnished by my friend with a good breakfast then looked about the Fort till near noon. Then hearing that the Regiment was at Halls Hill so turned our steps in that direction. Found them encamped near our old campground appearing to have halted there to rest for a few days. About noon Capt. Williams joined the Regiment with several recruits. About nine o'clock hearing that our pickets were driven in the Regiment was got under arms and marched out some distance and got the order to about-face and march back to camp. Heard nothing more during the day.
September 5, 1862
Have been left to ourselves all day no duty to perform. Capt. Wentworth rejoined the company this afternoon. He looks well and hearty, hope now that we have a head to the company we shall fair better. A whole wagonload of express boxes arrived for the Regiment this evening. Some of them had been on the way two months and the contents were entirely spoiled. There were only four for this company although there is one on the way for nearly every man in this company. Had orders to be in readiness to march at a moment’s notice but as there is no indication of a move I will unroll my blanket and try to get some sleep.
September 6, 1862
All was quiet in camp this morning up to nine o'clock. Recruits have been passing all day. Towards noon we drew rations of beef, pork, beans, rice and coffee. We have been accustomed to consider this as some indication of a move and sure enough about sundown the order came to pack up. As usual we had to leave our rations on the ground because they could not be carried but as this is only one of the slight inconveniences that beset a soldier we did not mind it much. We were reinforced just at dusk by nineteen recruits. We were ready to march at an early hour but did not get started till near midnight, then marched all night.
September 7, 1862
At daylight we were on the heights that overlooked Alexandria. Marched a short distance further and halted near the Fairfax seminary to cook coffee and eat our breakfast. Remained here till noon then took up the line of march in a westerly direction past the seminary towards Fairfax courthouse. After winding about in several different directions pitched upon and encampment especially adapted to the 22nd Regiment, the ground being covered with stumps, stones, underbrush and breyers. As it has fell to our lot in nearly all cases to be encamped on such ground or in a swamp we have got so that we expect it. The new recruits complained some but bore the march very well. After partaking of a dish of coffee I selected a clear spot large enough to spread my blanket and lay down but had scarcely closed my eyes when I was aroused by the order to fall in under arms. Immediately got into line and awaited the next order but it did not come till this morning.
September 8, 1862
Returned to our quarters where we remained all day. Drew three days rations, concluded by that that we should move soon. About six o'clock the order came to be ready to move at seven o'clock tomorrow morning. Cooked the meat and took all that we could get into our haversacks; the rest is to be thrown away as usual. No one seems to know our destination but we shall be likely to know by enduring another days march.
September 9, 1862
Turned out, cooked our coffee and were ready to march at the appointed hour but did not get in motion till eight o'clock am. There was a good cool breeze blowing but was very dusty. Took the direction back towards the camp that we left but a few hours since. Marched a few miles and turned off to the left and went out past Fort Albany up over Arlington Heights and halted near Fort Woodberry, think we shall stop here some days. This afternoon the Regiment was mustered for payment for the second time within a week. We have had a large number of visitors since we encamped. Most of the men in the Fort have acquaintances in this company and are improving this opportunity of seeing them.
September 10, 1862
Nothing of importance has occurred today. The men have not been called upon to perform any duty in camp although they have been busy improving the ground on which there tents are pitched. Our camp is on the slope of a very steep hill. The men would go to sleep in their tents, wake up and find themselves in the open air having slid downhill out of them during their sleep and today they have been making improvements according to their needs. Hear nothing about moving as yet. The trains have been employed in bringing commissary stores into camp all day, many articles of which we are sadly in need. The men were cheered by nice warm soft bread being issued them this evening. It is an article of food we have long been deprived of. Think if we are allowed to remain here a few weeks we shall be as fresh as new troops. It is a favor we scarcely expect but all pray for. Have heard nothing of the movements of the Army for several days.
September 11, 1862
This day has been devoted to the drawing and issuing of clothing to men. They have recovered their knapsacks and taking clothing from them and what has been issued there is a decided improvement in their appearance, whatever their feelings may be. The quartermaster has been instrumental in getting another load of express boxes to the Regiment but they were in the same condition as the others. Our hopes of a stay in this place are crushed by the issue of three days rations which is as equivalent to an order to march. But all is quiet this evening so turned in to get a night’s sleep but was woke up sometime during the night by a drenching rain.
September 12, 1862
At an early hour this morning we got the order to be ready to march at eight o'clock. The cooks not having time to boil the meat it was left on the ground to be brought along by the teams if a spare place could be found in there. If not they were to be thrown away as usual. Quite a large number of men are to be left behind unable to march with the Regiment to come up as fast as they can. More than half of our company are among the number. Took up the line of march at the appointed time. Passed over the aqueduct bridge to Georgetown, from there marched to Washington. Halted on a rise of ground south of the capital where we had a splendid view of the city but our prospect was cut short by an order to fall in. Instead of taking the cars as we expected we counter marched. Took the Washington and Baltimore Turnpike and followed it till dark. Halted on the slope of a hill as usual. There has been more stragglers today than usual on account of the men carrying their knapsacks, a pleasure we have been deprived of since July first. Most of them came in during the night. Have not learned the name of the place near which we are encamped. Have tried hard to learn our destination but cannot succeed, we can only surmise.
September 13, 1862
The reveille was sounded at four o'clock this morning. We were ordered to leave our knapsacks on the ground taking only our blankets. Left them in a pile not knowing if we should ever see them again and started on our way. The road was good and we got along very fast, our rests were few and far between. Passed through the town of Rockville about noon. After getting so far behind the village that there was no possibility of the men straggling back to the village the column halted for an hour to give the men time to cook their coffee but not time to drink it. Continued our March to what was called Middle Brook, crossed the stream and encamped on the top of a very high hill. Was our fortune to get on one side of it just enough to be in danger of rolling down the hill in our sleep. As it was likely to be a clear night we did not mind pitching our ponchos. Three of the men that were not too much fatigued went out foraging bringing in an abundance of green corn. Made our supper mostly of it as our haversacks were light and no prospect of the teams coming up. When we halted tonight heard the report of heavy guns in the distance, it continued till dark then all was quiet.
September 14, 1862
The reveille was sounded about daybreak. Turned out with the prospect of marching without our breakfast but the state of our haversacks becoming known to the captain he took measures immediately to provide us with bread for the day from his own pocket. The column began to move at half past six o'clock am. It has been very hot and extremely dusty most of the way. The country has been more hilly than any we have passed before making the march very tedious. I was told that we are among the mountains but there are mountains away in the distance yet. We passed through the towns of Clarksburg, Hyatte Town and -------- and halted on the outskirts of Frederick city on the banks of the Monocacy River. The country and towns that we have passed since leaving Washington seem more like good old New England than any we have seen since we have been out in the service. Frederick, seen at a distance, is a very pretty place. It is situated in a beautiful valley at the foot of the blue ridges. The rebels have been out here to Monocacy before us and destroyed the railroad bridge on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad but it seems to be the opinion of the officers that they are getting punished for their hellish works as we have heard cannonading all day, did not cease till dark. Although we have marched more than twenty miles since morning we seem to be no nearer the battlefield.
September 15, 1862
Did not start till ten o'clock am. We seemed to be waiting for rations. Were supplied about nine o'clock and started at the time mentioned. Passed through the town of Frederick about noon. This is a beautiful place, should think it comprised twelve or fifteen thousand inhabitants. They treated us very kindly as we passed, bringing us water and in many cases bread and fruit. Made a very short halt in the street but there was no straggling from the ranks nor was there any necessity for it as the men were provided with cool water by the ladies of the place. After leaving this place we began the ascent of the mountains in right good earnest. The road wound around the hills in such a manner that we had no very steep hills to climb today. We encamped on the banks of a Creek near a small collection of houses. Think the place was called Middletown. Near the place where we were encamped had been a long bridge but was destroyed by the rebels as was a large barn that stood near it. We shall be likely to get a good night’s sleep as we have got an abundance of straw for a bed.
September 16, 1862
Was called up at daybreak. Commenced our march soon after sunrise. Continued to climb hills all the forenoon. Passed over the battleground of South Mountain which proved to be the source of the cannonading that we heard yesterday. Saw three or four dead rebels lying beside the road. The rebels seemed to have selected a strong position but was driven from it with great loss if we were to judge by the number of prisoners that we passed on the march. About noon we passed through the town of Boonville. All the churches were turned into hospitals and filled with rebel wounded. Halted in a field just beyond the town to eat dinner. While resting heard rapid and heavy firing about two miles ahead of us but it was of short duration. Fell into line and proceeded in the direction of the firing. Had gone but a short distance when we began to pass troops on either side of the road that had halted either to rest or await orders. We passed through the little village of Kitesville and halted for a few moments. While waiting here looked about me, could see our troops on all sides of us. Was informed by one of the Calvary scouts that the rebels were but a short distance in advance of us. This then was the cause of so many troops being halted in this place. Had not time to make many inquiries for the column began to move. We marched out nearly to the front before coming to a halt. Made our coffee and were eating our supper when we were convinced of the close proximity of the rebels by their batteries opening on our advanced pickets. Our batteries did not reply for some time but when they did open the cannonading was very spirited for some more than an hour when it became so dark that objects could not be distinguished at any distance. At nine o'clock pm all was quiet. It looked like rain so made every preparation that our circumstances would permit and lay down to await the morning.
September 17, 1862
The firing commenced from the batteries on both sides at an early hour but we were too far from the front to learn with what effect. Expect it will rain every moment. Ordered into line about eight o'clock. Marched a short distance and came to a halt, the whole brigade closed in mass. Remained here but a short time then changed our position to one under a hill on which one of our batteries were posted. By this time the fight was raging fiercely on the right of us. For about two hours the roar of artillery and the rattle of musketry was incessant. With such a high hill in front of us we might as well been a thousand miles away as to have been where we were to learn what was going on in front of us but about noon it was evident that the enemy were being driven. Expected every moment that we should be ordered to the front but it afterward appeared that we were here to support the battery on the hill. About three o'clock pm the batteries shifted their position to one farther in advance and continued the battle till dark when the firing gradually ceased and the day ours. There were the usual number of flying reports coming to us among which was the report of the death of General Meagher of the Irish brigade and of Generals Franklin, Hooker and Burnside being wounded. Have not learned the extent of the day’s loss neither shall I be able to till we get an official account. We expect to move from here tonight but have prepared our beds of straw if anything should happen that we are not ordered away.
September 18, 1862
The first move made by our brigade this morning was made by the men scattering from the ranks to the top of the hill to see where the rebels were but none could be seen. But a rebel flag could just be discerned away in the distance. The officers said they could see a rebel battery with their field glasses. Neither side seemed disposed to commence the battle today; it is thought that the enemy are falling back. Had three days rations of coffee, sugar, and hard bread and one day’s rations of pork and fresh beef issued this forenoon. We cooked the fresh meat immediately and ate it, that being the only way that a soldier preserves his ration of fresh meat. We got the order about noon to fall in and march. Advanced in a southerly direction keeping well under the hills and moving very slowly. Passed over a part of the battleground where Burnside's forces were engaged. Here was a most desperate fight; the ground was thickly strewn with dead. We crossed the stone bridge that spans the Antietam Creek and proceeded up the stream a short distance. Then it became known to us that we were to do picket duty. We relieved the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment. There was some pretty sharp shooting from the rebel pickets till dark when all was quiet.
September 19, 1862
Turned out from our wet blankets at five o'clock am. Cooked a dish of coffee and disposed of our breakfast, then the whole brigade was ordered forward as skirmishers. Had got but a short distance when it was discovered that the enemy had left. Instead of following them immediately we were ordered back across the stone bridge but before coming to a halt we were ordered to about-face and move forward. We recrossed the bridge and moved on through the town of Sharpsburg toward the Potomac River. Sharpsburg had suffered severely from artillery, nearly every building that we passed being perforated by a shot or shell. Some were considerably shattered; two or three were burned by the explosion of shells. As we were passing through the village we met the families returning to their once peaceful and quiet homes, now to a scene of desolation. On the outskirts of the village was about 100 prisoners. As we did not stop near them did not have a chance to gain any information from them as to the whereabouts of the enemy. Advanced to the Potomac to find the rebels all across on the opposite banks. We halted to reconnoiter. Capt. Wentworth was detailed with twelve of his sharpshooters to go forward to the banks of the river as skirmishers. When we got in sight of the River we took positions behind trees where we could observe the movements of the enemy. Saw a considerable force and two batteries posted so as to command the ford in the River. Our orders were to pick of artillery men and horses and when our batteries opened we were to fire at everybody that we saw moving. A few shells from one of our 20 pounder batteries with the assistance of Burdan's sharpshooters and ourselves the enemy was soon scattered leaving their batteries and we determined they should not get them. Kept popping at every man that showed himself. Towards dark Burdan's men were pushed forward to the water's edge while the other regiments prepared to ford the river. When they had got about midway in the stream they were fired upon by a party concealed on the opposite bank but our men soon drove them from their position with the assistance of a few shells from our batteries. At the time of our men crossing the river it was so dark that we could only tell where they were by the flashes of their guns. After they had crossed and had learned by their cheers of their success in capturing the batteries we retired to a wheat stack to pass the night.
September 20, 1862
After breakfast I was sent to camp for orders but receiving none from this quarter I was ordered to remain with the Regiment till communication could be had with Col. Porter but the brigade was ordered across the river immediately. Not knowing what else to do I followed the Regiment. Arriving at the banks of the river the surgeon advised us to take off our socks and roll up our pants. We were soon transformed to Scotch Highlanders and commenced fording the stream. The water was not over our knees but the current was so strong that a great deal of caution was necessary to prevent being thrown down. We reached the opposite bank without getting wet. At this time our skirmishers becoming engaged we were hurriedly got in line and advanced up the hill. Formed in line of battle on the side of a hill and advanced on our hands and knees near to the top. Got sight of the rebels and began popping away at them as they showed themselves above the hilltop. The right of the brigade had got into a brisk engagement and the extreme left at which I was stationed began to get interested when we were ordered to retreat and it was well that we did for we were in more danger from our own shells then the bullets of the enemy. We retreated in good order till we reached the river. After getting into the water it was impossible to keep in line so it was each one for himself and get across as soon as we could. Had there not been so many balls flying among us it would have been highly amusing to see the men stumble and go in all over. We finally got across without any casualties occurring within my observation in the 22nd Regiment excepting one man that got the right side of his face entirely blown off by a shell from our own battery. The right of the line suffered severely, the 118th Pennsylvania Regiment receiving the fire of a whole brigade. They came back badly cut up; it is not possible to learn the extent of their loss at present. After order was restored in the Regiment I reported back to Capt. Wentworth where I am to remain till we are relieved. In discussing the events of the day we concluded that it was not the intention of our generals to affect a lodgment on Virginia soil at present but merely to reconnoiter the enemy's position in force and finding them too strong for us ordered the retreat.
September 21, 1862
Finds us at our post of duty. The fog was so dense on the river this morning that it was impossible to see an object ten rods distant to distinguish it and as it was not likely to lift for some time we went back in the wood and cooked whatever we could find for our breakfast. We had nothing in our haversacks but a little coffee and hard bread being consumed last night some of us were glad to pick up hard bread that had been thrown away by other regiments and make a breakfast of it. After the mist had cleared away so that we could see across the river we began firing at anything that wore trousers till we got orders to cease firing as a party were about to cross the river with a flag of truce for the purpose of burying the dead and bringing away the wounded. Had no more watching for rebels to do for some time. Our rations coming from camp just at this time we spent an hour very profitably in filling our stomachs. The rest of the day we were inactive, as the Boston Herald has it "all is quiet along the Potomac, the rebels driven from Maryland soil." The flag of truce returned about five o'clock pm. Then our artillery sent over a few shells in a manner that indicated anything but peaceful intentions. Just at dark a citizen made his way into our lines in rather a mysterious manner and as he did not give a very satisfactory account of himself the Capt. sent myself and one man up to General Porter's headquarters with him. Had very little difficulty in arriving at our destination but more to find the way back through the woods. Our evening duty was not very pleasant but were well repaid by finding a set of camp kettles on our way which happened to be just what we wanted in our present situation. Got back to our post at nine o'clock pm.
September 22, 1862
The fog was dense and heavy till near nine o'clock when it began to lift. Expected to hear the artillery open as soon as it should clear up so that they could get a range on the opposite hills. I was sent with three men onto a high hill to our right that commanded the road to Shepherdstown on the opposite side of the river. Had a fine view of this place through my field glass. It appears at a distance to be a very pretty place containing four churches and a fifth one in process of erection with several other public buildings. Could see the rebel flags floating from the churches and from the tops of many other buildings. We had no scruples in firing at anyone that came from that direction. Whenever we saw a person we made him do some pretty tall walking. This kind of target practice was highly amusing to the boys till we got out of ammunition. About noon another flag of truce crossed the river and we were relieved from duty, returned to our quarters. We had some cartridges sent out to us which we considered as the Capt. says "big luck". Did not have a chance to try any of them today as the truce flag did not return till it was too dark to see at any distance. The Capt. and Sgt. Leach each shot a turkey just at dusk. Three of these birds attempted to enter our lines but met with an untimely end. We shall have the sad and mournful task of consigning them to an empty stomach for our breakfast. Some three or four hundred prisoners passed our post this afternoon on their way across the river to join the rebel army, we think they are exchanged.
September 23, 1862
We still retain our position commanding the bluff on the opposite shore but have very little to do as our men are over the River most of the time during the day. The captain thinking our time could not be employed to a better advantage then making out our company muster and payrolls sent to camp for them and Sgt. Leach and myself went down to a nearly deserted house on the banks of the river and took rooms where we should not be disturbed and worked busily on them all the afternoon. At dark returned to our post near the wheat stack, found all quiet. Nothing of importance has occurred today.
September 24, 1862
It was reported early this morning that Richmond had been taken by our troops. My informant told me that the different regiments were called up at midnight to give three cheers in honor thereof. We thought of course this must be true so our little party was called up to give vent to their feelings accordingly. Returned to my work on the payrolls, kept busy all day, heard nothing of what was going on outside. When I returned to the wheat stack I heard nothing of the taking of Richmond. I begin to think there was a slight mistake in that report.
September 25, 1862
After breakfast the captain with his delegation of sharpshooters was ordered to join the Regiment while Sgt. Leach and myself retired to the rooms that we occupied yesterday to finish our payrolls. Thought we had finished them about noon but after getting to camp and having them examined several errors were discovered. As it was necessary for another days work to be done on them to rectify mistakes I went back to the house and worked till dark. Returned to camp to find the Regiment away on picket but the sharpshooters were left in camp. All is quiet on the Potomac, our troops have been crossing and recrossing all day and I understand that our pickets have advanced across the river this evening. No news as to the whereabouts of the enemy. There are reports that they are in force about five miles from the river but think it only conjecture.
September 26, 1862
Has been very quiet in camp today. The Regiment returned from picket at nine o'clock am having been on duty thirty-six hours. We commenced this morning to draw and cook our rations as a company. It relieves the men of considerable trouble and saves much time that will now be spent in drill. While we remain in camp the captain seems anxious to arrange matters with some regard to regularity but we have been in a confused state so long that we hardly know how to comply with his wishes but think with patients on his part and perseverance on ours we shall soon get in order again. Not a word have we heard of the movements of either Army. The papers are strictly silent upon the subject.
September 27, 1862
There has been nothing done in camp today except the cleaning out of a sutlers wagon that visited the quarters of the 118th Pennsylvania Regiment to practice a little extortion. This sort of peddler suffers badly. They come among the men and take advantage of their necessities, charging exorbitant prices for articles that the soldier actually needs, thus practicing a course of moral robbery. But they are not usually allowed to sell much before the soldiers begin to help themselves which generally ends in a distribution of his wears and a separation of the parts of his wagon. One visit to camp is generally sufficient for them.
September 28, 1862
After getting breakfast and getting quietly settled down to pass the day in cleaning our arms and equipments and writing to friends at home the order came to fall in with arms and equipments. We were taken somewhat by surprise but thinking something was up and as a soldier is always ready we were soon in line and ready for any emergency but we were required to march only a few rods to change camp. We were formed in regular order, stacked arms and set ourselves about cleaning up the ground and pitching our tents. It seems quite pleasant to have our little canvas houses in line and by ourselves and not mixed up with other companies as we have been for the last two months. Not able to distinguish one company from another till called out in line. The ground that we now occupy is on a slight eminence it will be much more healthy, agreeable, and pleasant. The change already begins to have its effect on the men; they appear more cheerful and content. What has made it more pleasant today was the reception of a large mail, a luxury we have been deprived of for a long time. The duties of the day ended with a dress parade and guard mounting.
September 29, 1862
The Regiment went out on picket this morning. For some reason the sharpshooters were left in camp. We had but very little to do except a squad drill in the forenoon. News in regard to the enemy seems to be stagnant. We have heard nothing for several days although scouting parties are sent out every day regularly.
September 30, 1862
All is quiet along the Potomac. The Regiment returned from picket about noon, no duty in camp today.