Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of March 1862
March 1, 1862
Pleasant with a strong westerly breeze. There has nothing been going on in camp except providing wood for the cookhouse. No news of consequence.
March 2, 1862
Another pleasant day in prospect, but the weather out in this country is like the inhabitants, treacherous. The weekly inspection came off as usual; afterwards all the sick were taken from the hospitals and carried to Washington. Afternoon it began to snow, it snowed quite fast till just dark.
March 3, 1862
There has been a slight change in the weather since yesterday, has rained nearly all day, nothing has been done except to furnish fuel for the cookhouse. Towards night the rain began to increase accompanied by wind and continued till a late hour. No news today.
March 4, 1862
Has been warm and pleasant all day, but very little or nothing has been done, no news.
March 5, 1862
Continues pleasant, received the gratifying intelligence that Columbus Kentucky was occupied by our troops, was pleasant and agreeable news to us as every stronghold taken we think is bringing the war nearer to a close. The company went out this morning to practice at the distance of a quarter of a mile, there was but very few shots hit the target as most of the men had their sights set for the distance of 200 yards. Got through with the exercise about two o'clock and marched back to our quarters, which ended our duty for the day.
March 6, 1862
Capt. Wentworth officer of the day. The company went out again today to fire at the distance of half a mile but by a mistake in receiving the order fired at the same distance as yesterday. No news of consequence today.
March 7, 1862
Pleasant but very windy, the forenoon was devoted to squad drill. As there was no exciting news today the quietness of the camp was undisturbed until dress parade.
March 8, 1862
Continues pleasant. The forenoon was devoted to cleaning up the camp which is about all that has been done today.
March 9, 1862
As pleasant a day has dawned upon us as we have seen since we have been out here. A scouting party of ten men and a Sgt. left us early this morning to accompany Gen. Morell on an expedition. The Sunday inspection came off as usual but was much more agreeable to stand on the parade ground till we were reviewed then it has for a long time. After inspection had nothing to do but wait for further orders which first came in the shape of a detail of ten men and a Cpl. to go on picket. After it was all settled who was to go the first order countermanded and another given to the effect that three days rations should be cooked and the entire company be ready to march at daybreak. After the usual amount of bustle and confusion attendant upon such occasions the camp was quiet.
March 10, 1862
Turned out at four o'clock am and prepared to march we know not where. The aspect of the weather was very unfavorable, it commenced to rain at daylight. Took up the line of march at half past seven o'clock am in a drenching rain, all of the men were anxious to go, none seemed to be desirous of being left behind. Some started that were unequal to the task and after marching about three miles fell out of the ranks and returned to camp. As we slowly progressed the action of the rain, artillery wheels, and the pressure of thousands of human feet on the porous soil, the mud continued to grow deeper till it was quite an exertion to extricate our feet from the mud after getting them firmly planted. We toiled on till noon without many stragglers, halted on a low marshy piece of ground but the Col. (ever on the lookout for us) drew us up in the line alongside a fence where we could lay our rifles on the rails as our wooden bayonets (gun sticks) are not of sufficient strength to stack them with any security and partook of dinner rations which consisted of hard bread and salt pork, being the most convenient and only proper food for a soldier on a march. After resting an hour resumed our march which was more tedious than in the morning, many of the men of the regiments threw away knapsacks, coats, blankets, etc. but the sharpshooters refused to part with any article however simple. The men could not be kept together; they were continually falling to the rear. The roads were so cut up by the batteries that it was difficult to march in order. About three o'clock pm it cleared away and the sun came out warm, it was hailed with delight by the wet and weary soldiers. At half past four o'clock we entered the town of Fairfax, passed through it and halted on a rise of ground about a fourth of a mile to the south of it, on the site of a recent rebel encampment. This place seems to have been very strongly fortified at some time, earthworks are thrown up at every available point and all the surrounding elevations are or were fortified in like manner. To give a correct description of the town it will be necessary to reconnoiter at leisure but as we are expected to continue our march tomorrow morning preparations are making for a night's rest. The stragglers continue to come in up to this time (eight o'clock p.m.). The ground is very damp and quite a breeze has sprung up which does not tend to make the men any more comfortable. Half past eight o'clock all is quiet.
March 11, 1862
Turned out at reveille. Felt rather stiff in the joints but in good spirits, lying on the damp ground did not have the improvable effect anticipated. The men complained of lameness of the shoulders caused by the straps of the knapsacks, but otherwise were in good condition. As soon as it was light enough the men of the several regiments visited the town, and supposing that all property there belonged to "Secesh" commenced to break in and destroy without regard to personal effects but that was soon stopped by a provost guard that was detailed for the purpose of keeping the men within the bounds of decency. Am happy to state that none of the sharpshooters were concerned in the unlawful destruction of property. Soldiers seem to have a propensity for destroying all kinds of property that come within the line of march which nothing but the strictest measures can prevent. An instance of this propensity happened this morning before daylight. Two buildings standing close to our camp ground were demolished and appropriated to cooking purposes. McClellan past here about eight o'clock this morning going toward Centerville, we heard soon after that Centerville was evacuated by the rebels, also Manassas. Consequently our onward movement in that direction is checked for a day or two at least, although the troops are constantly moving onward and some are returning. The day has passed very quietly, being devoted to rest. Towards night the several companies were out for a short drill while the wagons went out for straw to place between the men and damp ground. The evening was beautiful, the moon shone out bright and clear, not a cloud was to be seen, everything is favorable for a comfortable night's rest.
March 12, 1862
It still continues favorable for outdoor encampment, was rather cool this morning but after the sun got up it soon began to grow warm. There is no indication of any further movement of this division for the present. The several regiments were turned out for drill both forenoon and afternoon but was very warm and fatiguing for the men but they were anxious to be permitted to stroll off at will without fear of fatigue. Some of the officers went out as far as Bull Run, a distance of sixteen miles, bringing back sad accounts of the condition of that region. The rebels had burned all the stores that could not be taken with them and blowing up the bridges in their retreat, leaving nothing but a mass of blackened ruins. About sunset the Regiment were turned out to receive General McClellan, he was received with deafening cheers. He passed in review of our lines first and we returned to quarters but the cheering continued in other brigades till long after dark. This evening is much warmer than last; the prospect of a good night’s rest is favorable.
March 13, 1862
It is cold and dreary with a prospect of rain. The retreat of the rebels having disarranged McClellan's plans and supposing that we shall remain here till he gets others matured and an advance towards Manassas being uncertain. Both officers and men are anxious to visit the late strongholds of the rebels. Nearly all the staff have gone and many of the captains and lieutenants. Contraband's continue to come to camp, there is been nothing been done in the matter of drill today. There was a slight rain towards night which set the men about preparing tents of their rubber blankets to protect themselves from mud and rain.
March 14, 1862
Threatens rain. The mania for visiting Bull Run continues, a large number of men and officers started early this morning. Capt. Wentworth went back to camp on Halls Hill to make arrangements for removing camp equipage. There has nothing been done except that the men had been very busy robbing sutlers carts and building miniature tents to sleep under. Received marching orders about six o'clock pm and orders to cook rations. It commenced to rain immediately after, rendering it very unpleasant. We gathered a large amount of fence rails and awaited the coming of rations to cook. Nine o'clock pm the captain has not returned, neither has the rations come.
March 15, 1862
Turned out at five o'clock am. Each man drank his dish of coffee and fell into line in marching order. Took up the line of march at seven o'clock, marched back through the town of Fairfax towards Alexandria. The men were in excellent spirits for the first few miles when it began to rain in floods which dampened the spirits of the men as well as their garments. It was a long fatiguing march made more so by the extra weight of water that we carried in our clothing. As bridges are scarce in this part of the country were obliged to ford nearly all the streams or cross on logs which took up considerable time, leaving those in the rear to stand in the mud and rain. Arrived within three miles of Alexandria and halted for the night. We stood in a drenching rain while the officers were providing quarters, were at last told to find quarters where we could. Huddled into the only unoccupied tent that was to be found which was a hospital tent not large enough to accommodate half of our company but were nearly all crowded into it with several of the infantry, but there was no help for it and we were thankful to get into any place. We were soon steaming like a boiler but were so tired that we spread our blankets in the mud and stretched ourselves on them to get some rest.
March 16, 1862
Our prospects were rather discouraging on turning out this morning to find ourselves in such close and filthy quarters and expecting every moment that it would rain. Stand out in the cold in our wet clothing, nothing to eat nor any fire to cook anything or dry our clothes or warm our benumbed limbs, was anything but pleasant. Our rifles were covered with rust and demanded our first attention, after that satisfy the cravings of hunger if we were fortunate enough to find the where with, the rest of the day passed off. We were as uncomfortable a set of beings as are usually found together. Capt. Wentworth made his appearance among us about noon. In the course of the afternoon poncho blankets were issued to the men and rather than remain in as close quarters as we did last night, a number of us went out on a hill and pitched them, preferring to risk a rain rather than be crushed. The roll was called early and we separated for our respective quarters.
March 17, 1862
Those of us that camped out on the hill turned out rather early on account of the cold. It was severe towards morning, so much so that we could not sleep so turned out and built a fire to keep from freezing. It seemed a long time to us shivering mortals before the sun rose, but a cold wind rising with it did not render our situation anymore pleasant. Went over to the company quarters to get our coffee where most of the men were present, some were sick and quartered in barnes and other quarters as comfortable as could be found. The day has been devoted to cleaning rifles, equipment's, clothing and drying our blankets and overcoats, making ourselves as comfortable and respectable as possible. Turned out for inspection twice during the day. Pitched our ponchos so to have all the company together except the sick who are quartered in barnes. Just at dark received orders to draw six days rations and cook them immediately which we think indicates a long march, and we are all anxious to go.
March 18, 1862
Turned out from our ponchos at an early hour expecting to get the order to march but were unmolested. It has been a beautiful day and the men are in good spirits, only one (Corporal Archer) has gone to the hospital and one has returned that was left in camp at Halls Hill. We are all in good condition for another long march and are expecting the order every moment. Eight o'clock pm no order yet.
March 19, 1862
Turned out at an early hour. From the effects of the cold do not find our poncho tents a sure protection from the cool morning air whatever they may be from the rain, of which we have had no experience yet but seem likely to before night as the clouds strongly indicate rain. There has been considerable excitement in the camp today among the Irish caused by too strong a desire to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. There has been but very little duty done except to preserve quiet. About three o'clock this afternoon we got orders to pack up and march, it was but a short time before we were ready and in line. Took up the line of march at four o'clock pm towards Alexandria, a distance of three miles. It was quite a pleasant march, good traveling and sufficient to attract the attention of the men and keep their minds from the weight they carried on their backs. Arrived in Alexandria at six clock pm, took up our quarters in the upper story of a building that is occupied as a post office and custom house. We have got excellent quarters and know how to appreciate them now that we have had experience in camping out. We were but a short time in making ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit.
March 20, 1862
Was called up from our hard bed about daylight, after taking an observation of the weather concluded we had got into dry quarters none too soon as it appeared to have rained all night and continues rating, think it is the " ----- storm" minus the wind. Have had no duty to perform today and most of the men have started off to see the place. The captain went up to Washington this afternoon, started about three o'clock. No rumor of moving from here yet.
March 21, 1862
Our hopes of remaining in Alexandria were cut short by an order to pack knapsacks and be in line at nine o'clock. There were the usual number of rumors and conjecture as to where we were going but nothing definite is known. We were ready at the appointed time, but received no order to move till past twelve o'clock. [b]Marched up the river about a mile towards Washington to embark on board steamboats to go down the river to some point not known to us. We were a long time getting aboard being the last company to go aboard the boat that took the 22nd Regiment. Just as we were about stepping aboard the Capt. made his appearance, had come to the conclusion that we should be obliged to go without him. It was dark when we all got aboard, packed away between decks in spaces of sixteen inches by six feet as speedily as possible to receive a place to lie down full-length. Thought the mode of stowing human forms was rather too much on the principle of a slaver, although it was well ventilated so we did not suffer for the want of fresh air. After we had got aboard, the steamer hauled off into the stream to await the embarkation of the remainder of the division. As we were not likely to start until morning those of us that had births below prepared to turn in.
March 22, 1862
Our births being rather uncomfortable sleeping places turned out as soon as we could see. The vessel was lying in the same position as last night. The process of embarking troops was still going on at the pier, it was raining slightly. Went on the upper decks, found them strewn with soldiers that had not been provided with protection. They had spread their blankets and laying down on the decks exposed to the rain and were wet through. The river was so crowded with boats that it required considerable exertion to keep the boats from crashing together. About ten o'clock it broke away overhead and was rather more pleasant but was cold and raw. About noon the last of the troops were got aboard and the fleet got underway and preceded down the river very slowly keeping as close together as possible. The fleet consisted of from twenty to twenty five steamers of all sizes and classes crowded to excess. The one we were aboard of being the largest and only ocean steamer in the fleet. Past several points where rebel batteries were erected but are now deserted. Opera and field glasses were in constant use until it was so dark that objects on either shore became indistinguishable. Came to an anchor at ten o'clock pm to wait for daylight.
March 23, 1862
Got underway at four o'clock am, were fairly in the Chesapeake before sunrise. It has been a splendid day; the decks have been crowded from morn till night. The shores were so far distant that objects could not be discovered so the glasses were leveled at passing vessels and the myriad's of waterfowl till past noon when we passed the capes (Charles and Henry) and Fortress Monroe was in full view. The men had plenty of objects in the numerous armed vessels lying at anchor under the guns of the Fort to attract their attention until we came to an anchor. Men from the several companies were detailed and immediately set about getting the stores out of the hold on deck, which was the first intimation we had of landing and all was confusion, hurrying to and fro, gathering equipment, knapsacks, each man striving to be the first to gather up his effects thereby retarding the movements of all. After several hours of confusion quietness was restored in part, most of those having births below turned in to await orders but the more restless spirits were tramping over our heads making it impossible for us to sleep. At last the boat hauled alongside the pier, was not until it was ascertained that we should not disembark till morning that there was any prospect of sleep.
March 24, 1862
Was ordered up a little after sunrise to go ashore. Being nearly the first company to disembark had a long time to wait, thought to improve the time in looking over the Fortress and surroundings but the orders were to keep together so remained on the sidewalk till near noon, then got in line and marched through the place. Could not get much of a view as we passed but should think it was a beautiful place and a splendid place for a summer resort. [b]Marched on two or three miles and came to the ruins of Hampton burnt by the rebels in [b]August 1861. Went about a mile beyond this place and encamped in an open field. Pitched the ponchos and gathered the scattering rails near the encampment for cooking purposes and awaited the coming of the wagon with our rations. Was rather late when we got our coffee so prepared to turn in immediately afterwards.
March 25, 1862
Turned out at the usual hour at reveille, prepared our coffee and were ready for orders. Nearly one half of our company were detailed for an advance guard, packed our knapsacks and reported ourselves but the order being countermanded went to the rear of the Regiment and marched as usual. Started off on a rapid march of about three hours and encamped again, and commenced preparations for the night. We don't appear to be in the vicinity of rebels yet.
March 26, 1862
It at first appeared as if we were to remain here today and the men were allowed liberty to go out and wash their clothing. Soon after an order came for us to fall in with twenty four hours rations in light marching order to go on a reconnoitering expedition. Got started about eleven o'clock am, went out seven or eight miles marching very slow and cautiously came in view of Big Bethel. Sent ahead two of the sharpshooters as scouts, saw two of the rebel cavalry, fired at them. Then the order was to about-face and return to camp where we arrived at six o'clock pm.
March 27, 1862
Turned out this morning expecting the order
The following dates are illegible due to fading.