Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of February 1862
February 1, 1862
Rain, snow and hail is the order of the day. Heard no account of the firing heard last evening. At nine o'clock pm all clear overhead.
February 2, 1862
Old sun has at last made his appearance and according to the signs stated in the old Farmer's almanac we shall be likely to have a long spell of pleasant weather. Went through the inspection in our company street today. The captain is detailed officer of the day, no news.
February 3, 1862
Our hopes of pleasant weather have vanished. It commenced to snow early this morning and has settled down to a regular New England snowstorm but we do not so much regret it as it is a relief to see anything besides the mud. Both lieutenants went to Washington this morning but have not returned at this hour, 9 pm.
February 4, 1862
The prospect for pleasant weather was unprobable this morning but before noon it had cleared away and the snow disappeared rapidly. The company was out for a drill today for the first time for several weeks.
February 5, 1862
This has been a beautiful day. The company were out again today in the course of the drill. The company was divided in platoons and had a sham fight. The arms used were those that nature furnished them, the ammunition used was snowballs. At best accounts it was a drawn battle as neither side was willing to retreat, that being a maneuver they have not learned. No news of importance today.
February 6, 1862
It seems impossible to have two days of continued pleasant weather in this part of the country. Has rained nearly all day, the snow has nearly all disappeared. No duty done today, no occurrence has happened worthy of notice.
February 7, 1862
As it was pleasant yesterday as a matter of course it must be stormy today, and so it has been, but nothing severe. It snowed and rained very little during the forenoon, after dinner about twenty of the company went out to perfect themselves in the art of target shooting, no other duty devolving on the company we were left in peace and quietness the remainder of the day. Heard some very favorable news in regard to the movements of the Army, if true, which consisted of the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River with several prisoners and a successful scouting expedition in the vicinity of Fairfax Courthouse by the federal forces.
February 9, 1862
The Sunday inspection was the first duty of the day. The men were ordered to appear in white gauze gloves and brash leggings. The captain thinks the company never appeared to better advantage than they did this morning, but it is a question with the men whether the country requires men more for their fine appearance and neatness in dress than for their good conduct and moral courage in time of battle. Heard by the morning paper that Burnside's expedition had attacked the rebel force on Roanoke Island and at last accounts were still fighting.
February 10, 1862
For a wonder we have another pleasant day. Fourteen of our men have been detailed for fatigue duty to assist in repairing roads from Manson's Hill to Washington which seems to be for some particular purpose which remains to be learned. The rest of the company were employed in chopping wood and target shooting. It was ascertained at retreat that one of our men was missing, has not been seen since morning. There are vague rumors in regard to his absence but nothing definite, time will probably inform us of more than we wish to be true. Heard heavy firing and in quick succession down the river at half past eight this evening.
February 11, 1862
The first inquiry this morning was for the missing man but he was not in camp. The captain left for home this noon on a furlough, heard remarkable good news from Burnside's expedition this evening, this and all other regiments within hearing are cheering lustily. No news of the missing man, nine o'clock pm it is snowing quite fast.
February 12, 1862
There was quite a body of snow on the ground this morning but the sun came out so warm that it disappeared rapidly, at sunset there was none to be seen, road repairing still continues. The news of yesterday has been officially confirmed today, the troops are quite jubilant over the defeat of the rebels. Hopes of a short campaign begin to brighten, the men are talking of soon meeting their relations and friends at home in the early spring months, hope it may be so. No duties performed this day. Heard a report that the smallpox had broken out in the 22nd Regiment, only one case as yet. A Sgt. and file of men went to Alexandria to search for the missing man but could not learn anything of him, so it is concluded he is a deserter.
February 13, 1862
It has been a most delightful day, seemed like an [b]April day. The birds have warbled forth their sweetest notes all day. The company have been without a commander today, one of the lieutenants has been detailed on fatigue duty, the other has been to Washington. The men have wandered off at will, some to shoot at targets, others without an object but all returned at nightfall.
February 14, 1862
Our camp was disturbed this morning by the early preparation of nearly the whole company to go out on picket. A detachment of one Sgt. with 10 men started at daybreak to go out scouting, the remainder consisting of the two lieutenants, two sergeants, three corporals and forty men did not start till a later hour. It began to rain quite smart as they left camp, all prophesized a bad time on picket but it cleared off warm and pleasant before noon. There was scarcely men enough left (besides the sick) to do the necessary work about the camp, consequently quietness prevailed. The scouts returned at dark having been out a distance of four or five miles beyond Vienna. Their object seems to have been to capture a party of rebel horseman and infantry that was reported to have been encamped there, but they returned as usual unsuccessful the rebels having vacated the place.
February 15, 1862
Commenced to snow quite early this morning, continued through the day, at dark the snow was three inches deep, the most that we have had since we have been out here. Toward night we cleared the company street of the snow. Soon after it cleared away cold, rather unpleasant for the pickets but such are the fortunes of war. No duties in camp today. Corporal Burdell returned to camp this evening bringing news from Washington that Fort Donelson had been taken with 15,000 prisoners with the three rebel Generals Bellow, Floyd and Buckner, hope the report is true.
February 16, 1862
When we turned out this morning it had cleared off bright and very pleasant. The usual Sabbath inspection came off of what men there was in camp which took but a short time, no other duty to perform today. The pickets returned about noon, they say they have had a hard time of it suffering severely with cold. A gentleman from Salem Mass. called to see the captain but he being at home will do the best we can for his comfort while he chooses to stay with us.
February 17, 1862
Raining again today but cold and freezing as fast as it comes glazing the surface of the earth completely, making it very slippery and difficult moving about. At about two o'clock pm we was ordered to fall in without arms, marched over to the encampment of the 18th Mass. Regiment where we were addressed by General Martindale stating and confirming the news of the capture of Fort Donelson for which three rousing cheers were given by the whole brigade, then dispersed to our several encampments. Continued cheering throughout the afternoon from all quarters.
February 18, 1862
Continues raining but instead of freezing if thaws quite fast making our usual quantity of mud. All is quiet today, the report of this evening is that Savannah is taken and Fort Pulaski is reduced. Another death in the Regiment.
February 19, 1862
Another wet disagreeable day, the mud seems to increase in depth in and about our quarters. There is nothing going on nor neither can there be while the present state of howling exists. The report of yesterday is confirmed; no other conquests are reported today, continues to rain.
February 20, 1862
Tis a pleasant day, the wind is blowing just enough to dry up the mud but there is so much of it that the effect is scarcely perceptible. There has been nothing been done in the Regiment today, there is a report circulated that three hundred rebel cavalry came in and surrendered themselves.
February 21, 1862
Nothing of importance has occurred today. Capt. Wentworth did not return as expected, no news today.
February 22, 1862
The day was to celebrate. It was the intention of the several regiments in and around Washington to have parade and the firing of salutes by the batteries attached to the different brigades but a death in the family of the president dampened the spirits of the commanders or else out of respect to the chief magistrate the celebration was not carried out to the fullest extent. The (sensation) 22nd Regiment formed and marched over as far as the 18th Mass. and returned, drew up in a hollow square, and listened to the reading of the final address of George Washington, then to several national airs played by the band, then were dismissed. This ended the celebration of the 22nd of February in this company. The captain returned this evening.
February 23, 1862
No improvement in the weather, the usual weekly inspection was dispensed with on account of the mud in our company street. Nothing new from the seat of war, merely a confirmation of all previous reports, has proved to be a dull day to all.
February 24, 1862
We were favored by a sight of the sun early this morning but was not of long duration. The sky was suddenly overcast with black clouds which favored us with their contents accompanied with a high wind which increased in violence throughout the day till it was a perfect tornado sweeping nearly everything before it. There were scarcely a score of tents left standing uninjured in the 22nd Regiment excepting ours which resisted the efforts of " Boreas" to force them from their fastenings and remained standing proving the efficiency and superior style of pattern of the southward cottage tent. All other regiments that are within range of our vision suffered in like manner. It may well be said that it was a heavy blow to the Union forces near Washington.
February 25, 1862
Very pleasant but cold, the wind has ceased blowing. The men of the Regiment have been employed all the forenoon repairing the damage done by the blow of yesterday, no news today.
February 26, 1862
The morning was pleasant but cool. The forenoon was spent in company drill and procuring fuel for the cookhouse. The afternoon most of the men wandered off in squads or separately to fire at targets. Commenced to rain about four o'clock pm which put an end to target practice. This evening we received the long expected order to have two days rations cooked and have the men in readiness to march at a moment's warning. Think we shall go this time for a certainty as the Army is usually moved under disadvantages, and at the present time there is a quantity of mud and still continues raining.
February 27, 1862
It still continues to rain but are expecting every moment for the order to march, in the meantime are making out the company payrolls. Notwithstanding the unfavorable weather the men are anxious to be on the move although not knowing where we shall be likely to go; they think the excitement of a march better than remaining here idle. Nine o'clock pm it has ceased raining, no further orders have been issued.
February 28, 1862
Clear but cold with a high wind. At nine o'clock the company was ordered into line to be mustered for payment which occupied a greater part of the day. As we have had no further orders begin to think it was a false alarm, can hear nothing in regard to the movement of our troops.