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Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of May 1862


May 2, 1862

The company was turned out at half past four o'clock to go on fatigue duty. By some bad management most of us marched off without our coffee. Were first marched to General Porter’s headquarters for tools. Am sorry to say that the 2nd company Mass. sharpshooters were ordered to take shovels and go into the trenches with infantry which seemed to be very far from what we enlisted for, but as we are bound to obey superior officers there was nothing left us but take the tools and follow the Regiment to the post of duty which was to date a new entrenchment on the bank of the river. We were exposed to a battery directly across the river and to a crossfire from a water battery on the same side that we were at work. Each man's work was allotted to him for the day, it being to dig a space six feet square by four feet deep. Had just commenced work when they commenced to shell us from across the river. We allowed them to be good gunners but they could not drive us out, many of the shells burst within a hundred feet of us. Two or three fell within twenty feet of our men but fortunately did not explode; those were dug out and brought to camp. We accomplished our allotted task about one o'clock pm, then lay down in the trenches to wait for other companies. The shells continued to fly over our heads at intervals till we marched out of the entrenchments. There was one hundred and seventy shells fired at us while we were at work but not a man was hurt at last accounts.

May 3, 1862

Has been a very warm day. Not being accustomed to the climate we think it very hot for this season of the year. Had the usual company drill this forenoon, afternoon the men were allowed to do their washing. The rebels continue to throw their shells as careless as ever. Towards night they began to throw them into our camp and finally threw them in all directions. About seven o'clock pm one of them burst over our camp and a large piece descended and went through a tent occupied by the surgeon and others of the staff causing quite a commotion. The lights were ordered to be put out immediately but that did not seem to stop the shells, they continued to come near us till twelve o'clock at night. Before turning in were ordered to be ready to go on picket at five o'clock tomorrow morning.

May 4, 1862

Started off on picket duty at five o'clock am, four shells were fired towards us on our way. Got into the trenches and were informed by the guard that the enemy had evacuated Yorktown during the night but before leaving the entrenchments two companies were ordered out and deployed and marched on to their works, on the ramparts of which the stars and stripes were unfurled at half past six o'clock am amid the deafening cheers of the Regiment. Then the remainder of the Regiment was marched out in front, closed column by companies and marched towards Yorktown. When we had got about half the distance between our works and those of the rebels an infernal machine exploded in the ground as company G was passing over it, severely wounding five of them but killing no one. It was afterwards learned that the field in front of their works was full of them, so contrived as to explode by the pressure of one's foot, but fortunately we encountered no more of them till we got inside of the Fort and then explosions were frequent. We marched into the town carefully avoiding all suspicious looking places on the surface of the ground. Halted in one of the principal streets and were ordered to rest in place but most of the companies roamed at large in quest of trophies till it was ascertained nearly as possible that torpedoes were placed in all parts of the town and trails laid connecting with the magazine. In fact it was rumored that the place was undermined and was liable to be blown up at any moment. Then it was that guards were stationed to keep the men from roving about. While the cavalry were passing through the Fort to pursue the enemy another of those machines exploded killing two horses and wounding the riders. A short time afterwards one of the telegraph Corps while in the performance of his duty stepped on one of them and was injured so badly that death is inevitable. The 22nd Regiment remained in the works till half past two o'clock, then were ordered back to camp. Picked our way carefully through the fields till we got into the entrenchments, got back to camp at four o'clock pm. Got orders to have three days rations cooked and be ready to march at a moment’s notice. During the evening a report came to camp that Richmond was in possession of the Union forces, also Norfolk, only hope it is true. The captain was in camp when we returned, but he seems to be no better.

May 5, 1862

Has rained all day steadily. We have been under marching orders and expecting the order to break up camp any moment, and were anxious to move as we have been listeners to the din of battle all day, and were impatient to strike a blow in revenge for planting torpedoes in our path, also to crush out rebellion here if possible rather than follow them any further. But night came without the order to move so we turned in more to get out of the rain than the want of sleep put had scarcely composed ourselves to sleep when we had the order to fall in which we were not long in obeying. Did not know how far we were going or how long we were to be gone but took our haversacks and canteens, one days rations, left all else. Took up the line of march towards Yorktown, arrived near the works and halted in the rain to await orders. Seems as if the General was determined to drown the brigade. It has been our fortune to have wet weather to march in ever since we came out in this part of the country. We stood up as long as we could awaiting orders to move somewhere but as they were not forthcoming we were glad to lie down in the mud and steel a few hours sleep. Presume we slept as soundly as if we were on beds of down, did not wake till this morning.

May 6, 1862

It was a bright sunshiny morning, a morning that was quite welcome to us wet mortals. Remained on the ground till near nine o'clock. We had orders to march back to camp, got our baggage together and prepared to leave for another camp. The captain came over from the hospital to look after his baggage; he seemed to feel badly to leave us. At one o'clock pm we started back to the place we left in the morning and halted for the night. Instead of pitching our ponchos went over into the Fort and appropriated a number of sessesh tents. It was difficult to find a perfect one as the rebels took particular pains to destroy them before leaving but they were better than no covering. Made ourselves comfortable and turned in early to make up for the loss of the last night's sleep.

May 7, 1862

Thought by appearances that we were to remain here a day or two so began to dispose of ourselves accordingly. Had scarcely done so to our satisfaction when we had the order to fall in. Got in to line, the Regiment formed, then had the order to rest on our arms. Remained in ranks in a broiling sun all day, concluded we were to stop here another night so went for our tents. Got them pitched and had just laid down when the bugle sounded for us to fall in. [b]Marched through Yorktown to the wharf expecting to embark immediately but remained on the wharf all night.

May 8, 1862

As soon as it was light enough to distinguish objects the men were on the move, scattering in all directions, searching for something to eat different from hard bread and salt beef. During the forenoon the captain came up in a boat that came for the second, they are to be taken to New York, he is going with them. Be commenced to embark about noon, left the wharf at three o'clock pm. Went up the river about twenty miles to a place called West Point, landed in small boats and took till dark before we got hove to. After moving three different times we halted for the night, rolled ourselves in our blankets without pitching our tents and prepared to pass the night as best we could.

May 9, 1862

The morning being rather too cool to sleep comfortably we turned out quite early. Found that our blankets were quite wet with the dew that had fallen during the night but the powerful rays of the sun soon dispelled the mist and dried our blankets in a short time. We improved the short time that we were to remain here to look about us, observe the lay of the land. Upon inquiring of the troops that were on the ground when we came here we learned that a battle had been fought here on the seventh in which 10,000 of our troops repulsed and put to flight 40,000 of the rebels. It is not fully known how many were killed on our side but during the day saw the graves of nineteen in one spot and several other scatterings. About noon had orders to pack up, moved about half of a mile and encamped. This move was made in order to get brigade together at a distance from the river that will not" to faded to read" other troops from" to faded to read" and going on in advance of us. It is evident now beyond a doubt that we are in the reserve division. There is little or no commotion in camp aside from the usual bustle in preparing accommodations for a short stay. The officers and men appear to be much affected by the few sleepless nights in the open air, turned in as soon as possible.

May 10, 1862

The sun appeared above the horizon this morning promising us a warm day and we have not been disappointed. It has been excessive hot causing a general complaint among those that are not used to the climate. The forenoon was passed in digging wells by the several companies, found the water to be superior to any we have had since leaving Mass. After dinner notwithstanding the heat of the day the command was to turn out for a brigade drill, then the usual daily inspection after which we had orders to have three days rations in our haversacks and held ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning, after which we were allowed to turn in for the night.

May 11, 1862

Has been more comfortable today. There hasn't been any drill but the whole company were marched off about a mile to get wood. After that duty had nothing more to do till the evening inspection. In the course of the afternoon went with the Lieut. to the river and aboard of a sutlers Schooner. When we got back to camp it was rumored that Norfolk was taken by our forces and the long dreaded Merrimac was blown up by the rebels to prevent her falling into the hands of the US officers, later in the evening the rumor was confirmed. The news created great excitement in camp and much cheering by the troops. We turn in tonight with the expectation of an early start tomorrow morning.

May 12, 1862

No orders to start as yet, all is quiet, no more news. Got the order to march at an early hour tomorrow morning.

May 13, 1862

Was called up at three o'clock this morning to pack up and be ready for a march. Got our breakfast and broke camp at half past five o'clock this morning. Took up the line of march and went out about half a mile and halted till near ten o'clock, then proceeded at a very slow pace for two hours. Then it appeared more like a forced march. It was excessive hot, dry and dusty, the men suffered greatly from thirst. At the end of three hours nearly half of the Regiment were left behind which angered the Col. so much that he threatened to more than punish the next offense. Continued the march till most at the time of halting not one third of the Regiment could be found, but most of the sharpshooters kept their position. We halted at a place called Cumberland, found several thousand troops encamped on the ground that had arrived before us. Were informed that a scouting party had captured a brigade of rebels during the day. We were too much fatigued to look about much so after cooking our coffee prepared a place and camped down on the ground without pitching our ponchos.

May 14, 1862

Woke up this morning feeling rather stiff, that seemed to be the complaint of everyone that I meet. As it appeared likely to rain we gathered the material and began pitching the ponchos. It began to rain before the task was fully completed. Had nothing more to do till near night when we turned out double quick with arms and equipment. We expected a skirmish sure as the ambulances were harnessed out in somewhat of a hurry. We went out, got in line, then it was that we were informed what we were out for. The secretary of state road in review while the troops cheered him as he passed. The sharpshooters did not seem well pleased with the idea of being called out in the rain for such a purpose as we got our rifles wet and no time to clean them tonight, it's being quite dark when we were dismissed. Twenty-six prisoners came in today and are under guard a short distance from us. We have now got orders to be in readiness to march at six o'clock tomorrow morning so we will turn in.

May 15, 1862

Turned out at four o'clock am. Packed up everything and got in line, then had the order to unsling our knapsacks and rest. Remained in that position until three o'clock pm raining steadily the whole time. Got wet through then took up the line of march. Our route lay through a muddy country. Most of the way it was a foot deep. [b]Marched about three miles and halted in the woods somewhere in the vicinity of what is called the White House but we can see but one house from our camp and that seems to be very dark colored. Pitched our ponchos as soon as we could and got in out of the rain. We are getting somewhat disgusted with a soldiers life, it does not agree with the constitutions of the men. They complain bitterly every time we are on the march and every halt we have made lately we have parted with from two to five till our company is rapidly decreasing.

May 16, 1862

When we turned out this morning it had ceased raining and faint signs of breaking away, after a little shower it succeeded. Then the bugle sounded for the Regiment to fall in in marching order. We were soon on the way, marched about three miles today; the mud was from six to ten inches deep the whole distance. Were obliged to move very slow picking our way carefully to avoid deep holes in the roads. Arrived in sight of the White House and came to a halt in the midst of thousands of troops that had arrived and encamped before us. We are informed that the wagons will not be up with us tonight so we made some coffee and prepared to turn in for the night, no news of the advance.

May 17, 1862

It has been very warm all day. Nothing of any consequence has been done aside from gathering wood and water for the cooks, no news.

May 18, 1862

Another hot day. The Regiment has been called out twice to go through the form of inspection. It seemed to us to be a piece of nonsense to be obliged to pack everything and go out on line, stand in the scorching sun for an hour and it has caused much grumbling and vein threats injurious to the happiness of the commanding officers. Just at dark we received an invoice of poncho tents which are cloth, something similar to strainer cloth. They will be much cooler than the rubber ones.

May 19, 1862

Got our breakfast and at the same time the order to fall in in marching order. We were soon in line and for once marched off immediately without going through so many red tape maneuvers. [b]Marched about two miles and it commenced to rain as usual. We got very wet but as the route was very good we did not mind a wet jacket but very little. Crossed the York and Richmond Railroad at a station called Tunstall and halted for the night in a mud hole as usual. Pitched our ponchos, found them to be much more commodious than the old ones. It cleared away about five o'clock and now looks favorable for a pleasant night.

May 20, 1862

We turned out quite early this morning, it was hot and pleasant, a good breeze has favored us all day. The usual company drills, inspections and that not being enough we had a dress parade. Then to wind up the day’s work the order to put three days rations in our haversacks and be ready to march at three o'clock tomorrow morning. I hope we may reach Richmond soon for we are all tired of hearing so many stories in regard to the place and would be glad to be there at once and see for ourselves. We are led to believe by the reports in camp that there will be no fighting between here and Richmond.

May 21, 1862

We were called up at five o'clock. Got our rations of coffee and packed our knapsacks for the march and found that we should be obliged to leave three of our number behind at this place, Cpl. Grover, Privates Dearborn and Morris. We took up our line of march about seven am, it rained as usual, just enough to get us wet. Our march today was much more pleasant than any we have performed, our route being through a pleasanter part of the country. The lands were in a state of cultivation and more thickly inhabited, seemed as if we were getting in the vicinity of civilization. About nine o'clock am it broke away and the sun came out and powered its rays upon us with such intense heat that the roads were in excellent order and so much to attract our attention that we did not mind the fatigue. We were at the end of our days march before we were aware of this, instead of a long marshy piece of ground to camp on this time we were drawn up on a field of light sandy soil without a tree to protect us from the rays of the sun. A very large grove of pines were a few rods in front of our camp ground sufficient to encamp the whole division but were not allowed to enter it as it afterwards appeared it was reserved for a protection for the officers horses. We think the animals are accounted of more consequence than a human being (if it is his lot to be a private in the ranks). We got up our tents as soon as possible and got under them out of the sun. There was a delightful breeze so we did not suffer with the heat. This place is called Parsley; it is about fifteen miles from Richmond.

May 22, 1862

We were called up about five o'clock this morning to resume our march. We were soon in line and we had the right of the brigade today. The march has been a long one with but few halts and those of short duration. The men have not kept in the ranks so well today as yesterday, the fatigue and heat has been too much for them. They have continually fallen to the rear, it was impossible for the rear guard to get them along. The route taken today has not been of so much interest to us as that of yesterday although there were more dwellings along the route, in all cases a white flag was flying from some conspicuous place. We saw but three or four of the white male population, most of our information is learned from the colored servants left behind by their masters. We arrived and halted at a place called Tidd Mills, camped on the edge of a beautiful grove and within a few rods of water sufficient for all purposes. We were informed by the sutlers that we were close on to the rebels in this direction and that we were yet fourteen miles from Richmond, the last miles of our march being directed from the doomed city, as it is impossible to move without getting wet. Soon after we halted a heavy thunder shower came over accompanied by a high wind. The rain fell in such large drops that it took but a short time wetting through our strainer cloth tents and saturate our clothing. The last and best camp report of the day is that Beauregard is defeated at Corinth and 25,000 prisoners taken.

[b]May 23, 1861

Our boys turned out quite early this morning and as we did not have any orders to march the men went out foraging on their own responsibility. They brought in many things that was eatable such as potatoes, onions, hoecakes, chickens and in some cases small pigs, all of which was bought and paid for at secesh prices of the sutlers here. I should think the whole regiment had turned cooks by the congregation around the fire all wishing for a kettle to boil their sweet potatoes in. There has been no drill today for a wonder. It has been very hot indeed all day. We have heard heavy firing in the distance towards Richmond, shall not probably hear of the result tonight. The report of Beauregard’s defeat is contradicted, no further news.

May 24, 1862

There has been nothing done in the matter of drill today. The men have been left to employ their time as suited their own convenience, but have not been allowed to move around as yesterday. It commenced to rain about nine o'clock am, continued till nearly night. Our tents were but very little protection to us, we were as wet as if we were out fully exposed. The day passed off without any serious occurrences. Today we are short of rations for the first time since we commenced our march. Our master has failed to supply us with anything but hard bread. No news of importance.

May 25, 1862

Nothing to indicate a forward movement has occurred to mar the stillness of the Sabbath morn. All drills have been dispensed with; the usual line inspection came off at nine o'clock am. Afterward the men were left to pass the day as they saw fit providing we did not get outside the line of the Regiment. We drew some potatoes and salt pork today and as the pork was given out the men were employed most of the day in cooking it in different ways to suit their fancy. We considered the potatoes a godsend as we have had no vegetables for a long time. We turned in with the order to be ready to march at an early hour tomorrow morning.

May 26, 1862

We were turned out before sunrise to pack up for a march. Had time allowed as to get our coffee and dry our ponchos before packing our knapsacks. Took up the line of march at seven o'clock am. We retraced our steps for four miles, then marched one-mile directly towards Richmond. Came to a halt nine miles from Richmond at a place called Gaines Mills, he is now a prisoner at his residence, he being a rank secessionist and the owner of eighty slaves. He has a beautiful place here and General McClellan's headquarters are at this place. We are informed by the slaves at this place that we are within five miles of the rebel capital and several skirmishes have taken place in the vicinity within the past week in which our troops came off conquerors. We are to camp here tonight and seems likely to be a wet night, no news.

May 27, 1862

We were turned out this morning with the order to prepare for a march in light marching order. We hastily disposed of a dish of hot coffee and were on the line in due season. Commenced our march in a pelting rain as usual, after marching some miles we got thoroughly wet. The roads were in a very bad condition, obliging us to ford every little stream till we were completely wet from head to foot. It cleared away about noon, the sun came out drying our outside clothing but causing us to perspire so freely as to keep our shirts and jackets wet through. We arrived in the vicinity of Hanover Courthouse and found the rebels in force, skirmishing immediately commenced on our right. We were deployed to the left, marched across a field into a small piece of woodland and halted in an opening beyond. The enemy were drawn up in line of battle. The fifth US battery opened on them with such precision as to blow up one of their caissons, killing four horses and some men. Soon afterwards we observed a movement of the enemy to flank and our position being an exposed one the Col. deemed it unsafe to remain. Withdrew and marched in the direction of Hanover Courthouse on the railroad a distance of nearly three miles. As it was afterwards learned by prisoners taken we marched past a Carolina Regiment that was lying in ambush not half a gunshots distance but thinking our forces too much for them did not fire on us. We came to a water tank and it was thought expedient to render that useless. While employed in destroying that firing was heard in our rear but kept on till we met some of our troops returning that had been in pursuit of the enemy that had engaged us on our right. We turned back with them hastening as fast as our weary limbs would permit to join our friends that were evidently having a serious time of it to judge by the rattling of musketry. We got up to the battlefield about sundown, found the dead, dying and wounded lying around us in large numbers, it was a sight to appeal the stoutest heart but our little company marched bravely on unflinching. The enemy were fast being driven before us, the firing was gradually ceasing till just a dark it ceased entirely, the enemy being driven from the field. We encamp tonight on the battlefield with the dead rebels all around us.

May 28, 1862

Our first duty this day was to collect and bury the dead. Parties were detailed for that purpose while others were going about viewing the field, trying to ascertain our loss but as we have not as yet an official report will not attempt to state the number but am safe to say that it was large on both sides. Our force took a large number of prisoners, mostly North Carolina regiments. They say that they are getting tired of the service and are glad to get out of it. After burying the dead the 22nd Regiment were ordered out to reconnoiter. Followed in the direction of the retreating foe. I should think that they were completely routed to judge by the knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, guns, equipments, camp equipment and cooking utensils that littered the road but as our object was to ascertain where they were we left them for others to collect while we pushed on. After marching about four miles we came upon their rearguard and as the Col. had suited his orders we returned to camp. Remained here the rest of the day and encamped on the same spot that we occupied last night. During the night several regiments passed in advance of us.

May 29, 1862

Got orders to be ready to march at a moment’s notice but did not move till near noon and then it was to march back to camp and as we had already been over the ground it was not of much interest to us. We arrived in camp a little after dark so tired and worn out that we were glad to turn in to our ponchos.

May 30, 1862

We were allowed to lay as long as we chose this morning but when all got out there was a general complaint of soreness and stiffness of limbs, quite a number responded to the surgeons call but none were seriously ill. A part of this day has been very hot, towards the middle of the afternoon black clouds began to appear above the horizon. It was but a short time before heavy artillery opened on us. The vivid and incessant flashes of lightning almost blinded us, the rain fell in torrents. Never before have I witnessed so heavy a thunder shower, the lightning chased across the clouds and struck the earth in all possible directions. It struck in a regiment encamped near us, killing one man instantly and seriously injuring five others. It continues to rain thunder and lightning at this late hour nine o'clock pm.

May 31, 1862

It was raining this morning when we turned out but soon cleared -----------. Were not disturbed with marching orders today but expect to be ordered ----------- firing was heard on our left. Many rumors and reports were -------- coming in but of such a nature as not to be credited. As tomorrow is Sunday we flatter ourselves that we must have another day of rest and think we need it for the health of the company is very poor, our numbers are fast diminishing. ---------- is now in the hospital and several are lying in their quarters unfit for duty.


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