top of page

Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of June 1862


June 1, 1862

We were turned out at half past three o'clock a.m. to prepare for a march,were on the line at daylight. We knew not where we were going, neither did we care. It rained a very little when we started but very near cleared away. We marched about half a mile and came in sight of the Chickahomony Creek. We could see the rebels distinctly on the opposite side; our troops were marching across a bridge. Two or three batteries were there to protect the works and it seemed that we were there to support the batteries as we halted in a field close to them. We remained there four hours under a burning sun. It was the hottest day that we have experienced. We returned about the middle of the afternoon and were glad enough to get under our ------ where we remained the rest of the day. Just at dark we received the orders to be prepared for a march at daylight tomorrow.

June 2, 1862

Although we were woken up during the night by the rain pelting us in the face it was quite clear at sunrise. We expected to move immediately after breakfast and packed our haversacks accordingly but waited impatiently until noon but received no order. We dispersed ourselves in as cool places as could be found, it was quite warm but more wind stirring today making it more endurable then it was yesterday. The rest of today has been rather limited and of very little importance. The evacuation of Corinth by Beauregard's forces is confirmed by the paper. Balloon reconnaissance has continued throughout the day, have not heard the results. Sickness and death seems to approach steadily, two having died today, have not learned what company they belong to.

June 3, 1862

The sun rose red and fiery this morning and we were very soon made sensible of its power of heat. We had no orders for packing up this morning but the order was issued to clean up around our quarters and go out and get brush and set up round our tents for shade flattering ourselves that we should have nothing to do for a few days but before the order was executed we had orders to fall in which speedily dispelled our hope of a lengthy stay in any one place. Got into line then were ordered back to quarters. Remained about fifteen minutes then the call was sounded to fall in again. This time we marched off, went down to guard the bridge that crosses the Chickahominy. The whole regiment being more than necessary for the duty six companies returned to camp, as a matter of course the sharpshooters to remain. It soon commenced to rain and continued steadily through the night.

June 4, 1862

This morning the rain increased, it came down in torrents till near ten o'clock when it broke away. Supposing we were to remain on the post until dark we built a fire to cook some coffee and dry our clothing. Got the fire under way when general Martindale came down and told us that we could return to camp. Just got in camp as it commenced to rain again and continued at intervals the remainder of the day. Have heard of a large battle being fought last Saturday, May 31, in which the federal troops came off victorious but are immense losses on both sides. Have not heard the full particulars as yet.

June 5, 1862

Were not disturbed this morning until a late hour. About nine o'clock am we were roused from our camp by the rapid discharge of artillery, if continued for nearly two hours. Not knowing the cause of it we expected to be called out every moment to support the batteries but it was soon ascertained that our skirmishers had found out a masked battery of the enemy and our guns were quickly put to work to unmask it which they did satisfactorily to us, no loss on our side. Have had no duty to do today except to go out on dress parade ---------- holds its ---------- three members of the sharpshooters were left this afternoon to go to the division hospital. Their names are Faulkner, Reede and Pinkham. No news of importance.

June 6, 1862

It has been a very quiet day considering the close proximity of the two armies. Have heard the report of only two guns during the day. The camp has been disturbed by no drill today. The news in circulation today is of a cheering character. It gives us hopes of a speedy termination of the war without much exertion on the part of this, the reserve Corps.

June 7, 1862

Our orders were to prepare for fatigue duty. We waited patiently till near noon before falling into line then marched nearly four miles to get to where we were to perform the work. Upon a correct calculation it was just one-mile from our camp, it appears to be quite an object of the Army officers to go the furthest possible way to get a certain distance. Got to our place of labor about one o'clock pm. Went to work digging a ditch alongside the road leading to a bridge that spans the Chickahominy. We worked about two and a half hours when a thunder shower checked our operations. We then went into an adjoining wood lot for shelter but got thoroughly wet. It ceased raining about six o'clock pm when we were ordered to fall in and return to camp. During the shower there was some artillery practice going on the other side the river in which our twenty pound rifled guns participated, firing at intervals on till late in the evening, the last gun fired by moonlight at ten o'clock pm. All kinds of reports are in circulation but none authentic.

June 8, 1862

Turned out this morning and found it clear and a cool breeze is blowing from the north east. Our pickets -------- being wet we were uncomfortably cold without overcoats till nearly noon. No duty today except being called out twice for inspection. No news, all quiet in this vicinity.

June 9, 1862

We received notice early this morning of the death of another member of this company, Mr. James Reede. He had been sick about a fortnight; he died about three o'clock this morning at the division hospital near Newbridge Virginia of remittent fever. We made a crude box and intended to turn out in full ranks to follow his remains to the grave but we were ordered to fall in to receive some distinguished foreigner which proved to be general Prim of Spain. When we were dismissed it was ascertained that Mr. Reede's body had been buried during our absence, we were not called out again during the day. Have heard no news today but hear some distant firing at this time, eight o'clock pm.

June 10, 1862

Was woke up this morning by the rain beating through the tent into my face. As it was a cold wet disagreeable day we expected to be called upon to do some duty distant from camp but have not been disturbed, it has been very quiet. The batteries opened for a half hour towards night to let the rebels know that they were still in position. No news today.

June 11, 1862

Nothing has been done today worthy of note, no news.

June 12, 1862

Packed everything and broke camp to go on fatigue duty. It was reported that we were to go to work on the railroad. After marching about two miles in a very circuitous route we came to a swamp and were informed that we were to construct a corduroy road across it so we pitched our tents on a side hill and our company armed ourselves with axes. We went into the woodlot and made a sad havoc in the young growth of pines. Night came on before we were aware of it, no news today.

June 13, 1862

Was woke up this morning by the roar of artillery on our left. It was very heavy cannonading for an hour, then it subsided. Fell in at six o'clock am armed with axes, went into the woods at the same place that we left last night. Worked till near noon then quit, the day being very hot. Went up to camp to get our dinner of vegetable soup and rest from labor for a while. About two o'clock pm had the orders to pack up and fall in. This took us by surprise as we expected to do fatigue duty for two or three days longer but as we were not likely to find out where we were going by asking we picked up our things and fell in and marched off on the back track to our old camp where we were ordered to unsling knapsacks and prepare ourselves in light marching order. We had fell into line and were waiting orders when we observed the rest of the regiments of the brigade returning from the expedition. At the same time got orders to pitch our tents and rest. This arrangement is all a dumb show to us, we haven't the slightest idea what was intended but presume something was contemplated. Have not heard the cause of the firing this morning as yet. As we were about turning in got orders to be prepared for marching at two o'clock tomorrow morning.

June 14, 1862

We think the orders of last night must have been countermanded as we were not disturbed until sunrise. The report that is floating round camp this morning is that fifty of our wagons were captured by the guerrillas, hence our hurried departure for our camp and subsequent orders to march during the night. It has been so hot today that our men had no desire to stroll from camp, and glad to remain in their tents and keep cool. Has been very quiet all day. Have heard nothing of importance today.

June 15, 1862

Strange things happen nearly every day in the Army. Of late the Col. has had the guard duty performed by company. We were called upon to guard the camp; it is something we have not done since being in the service and were somewhat surprised at the order but shouldered our rifles and relieved company G. The forenoon was insufferably hot. One man was overpowered by the heat and fell down on his beat but changes are sudden in this climate. About three o'clock a thunder shower came up accompanied by a high wind which cooled us off rather more sudden than agreeable. About sundown it cleared away, think we shall have a pleasant night.

June 16, 1862

The Regiment was turned out to go on picket at half past six o'clock am. Our company not being relieved from guard duty were left in camp. It was a wonder that we were not relieved and ordered to go with them as we never have escaped such duty before. After being relieved had nothing more to do all day. Have heard no news today.

June 17, 1862

Heard heavy firing at an early hour in the direction of James River, supposed to be from the federal gunboats. If continued for two or more hours then ceased entirely. The Regiment returned from picket duty about nine o'clock pm. The camp has been quiet all day, no news.

June 18, 1862

Turned out at twelve o'clock. Were soon in line in light marching order. Filed off silently mid the darkness not knowing where we were going or in what direction. Continued our march without halting until the gray streaks of dawn appeared in the East, then we were allowed to rest until daylight. Resumed our march about two miles farther through Mechanicsville and came to a halt, remained here till about noon. Mechanicsville has been the scene of one battle as the buildings abundantly testify. The men had time to catch a glimpse of the ill fated city. As the Regiment was ordered back to camp we know not why we were ordered out there and back and as a private has no right to suppose we are willing to remain in ignorance. The men were nearly exhausted when they arrived at camp.

June 19, 1862

I can scarcely raise my hand to my head. Fear I am a victim for a hospital.

June 20, 1862

Got orders to pack up everything and break camp. Marched about a mile, halted and pitched our tents on the site of our old encampment. We then went to work immediately to clean up the ground and plant shade trees which took us the remainder of the day.

June 21, 1862

All quiet in camp today, no news.

June 22, 1862

All quiet.

June 23, 1862

In laying out and beautifying the encampment we judge by the arrangement that has been made in this encampment that we are to be permanently encamped for some length of time. We have got a pleasantest and most healthy place that we have had since leaving Hall's Hill and are taking great pains in making it look neat and clean. Have heard since being here that immediately after leaving the other encampment the enemy began throwing shells in there but the birds had flown. One man was killed in another Regiment. We hear the guns but not as distinctly as before. Have heard no news of importance for the last four days.

June 24, 1862

Were ordered out this morning at nine o'clock but did not go on the line. The order was countermanded so we are not there to know why the order was given. As we were not to leave camp we went to work and finished our encampment. We have now got quite a romantic village. The streets were laid out straight and with regularity, lined on each side with shade trees. Ditches the entire length both back and front of the tents to carry off the water of which we have immense quantities. Showers here are frequent, last night we were flooded, the water washing the whole length of the line, sweeping through our tents wetting us thoroughly before we could get out of the way of the current. Think our ditches will save us another soaking. It has been very quiet today.

June 25, 1862

This day was ushered in by the booming of Cannon, it continued till nearly night. We learned the cause at a later hour which was to the effect that general Hooker had engaged the enemy and drove him half a mile and would have gone further but for orders to the contrary. The batteries on this side of the creek were engaged shelling the rebels all day and into the evening. We have had no duty assigned us today. Nothing to do but loiter about camp and amuse ourselves as best we could.

June 26, 1862

Our company was detailed for guard around camp today, the forenoon passed without any disturbance. Just as the men had finished their dinners the bugle sounded for the Regiment to fall in with the order for each man to provide himself with eighty rounds of cartridges. At this time heard firing in the direction of Mechanicsville. Contrary to our expectations and the usual custom the sharpshooters were ordered to remain behind and break camp, load the wagons and go with them as guard to McClellan's headquarters on the other side of the Chickahominy. But as the teams were not sufficient to take all the camp equipage it was decided to leave a squad to guard the remaining property till our officer in command could send back some teams to take it away which he thought would return about midnight. To judge by the firing the battle in our front has raged furiously all the afternoon and up to the present hour (nine o'clock pm) without cessation. Now it begins to slacken, ten o'clock pm the firing has ceased entirely. No sleep for our little party that is left to guard the camp. We have waited patiently for the wagons to return. We can hear the rumbling of teams hastening to the rear; large fires are burning on all sides of us. All the stores that could not readily be removed were burned on the spot. We had given up all hopes of the teams returning and matters looked rather dark to us privates. We were in a state of alarming suspense, no one came to camp to inform us how the tide of battle was sitting in front of us but it is evident a retreat is intended.

June 27, 1862

We waited patiently till the gray streaks of dawn appeared in the East when the Regiment returned, hastily slung their knapsacks and left camp immediately, the Col. telling us to follow unless we wished to be taken prisoners. We first collected all the stores that were left behind and set fire to them to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy and left camp to join the company. The shells began flying about us as we marched off. We were till four o'clock pm in finding the company. We remained near headquarters with the teams till dark when we were ordered to move on to Savages station where we arrived late at night tired and sleepy. We were very anxious to hear of the progress of the fight and the fate of our Regiment but no one could tell us. Spread our blankets wherever we could find space enough among the wagons and lay down to pass the remainder of the night.

June 28, 1862

This morning it was ascertained that the 22nd Regiment was in our vicinity and Lieut. Stiles went to ascertain the extent of its loss. He found it to be sadly cut up. Col. Gove was killed, major Tilton wounded and a prisoner, the adjutant wounded but taken from the field, the two surgeons missing, the hospital steward seriously wounded. Not one of the field and staff officers escaped and the rank and file suffered accordingly. The Regiment is in command of the senior captain. About nine o'clock am were ordered to move off with the trains. Marched about three miles when it was found that we were on the wrong road. This occasioned a delay of two hours. In the meantime Porter's Division had passed us on the right road leaving us in the rear. Got underway again at two o'clock pm and marched steadily till night at which time we overtook the remnant of our Regiment. In order to ascertain the number of men still remaining I counted the guns as they were stacked and found the number to be 259 out of 750 that went into action on Friday the 27th but our losses could not be correctly ascertained in this manner as a liberal allowance must be made for stragglers. After gathering all the information possible made us some coffee and spread our blankets thinking to pass the night undisturbed but we were first visited by a shower that wet through our blankets and clothing, rendering our situation anything but agreeable. Our next disturbance was between the hours of eleven and twelve o'clock at night caused by the men of the Regiment making a regular stampede in the camp. As a matter of course our company was roused by the noise and the cry of "They are among us!! They are among us!!" failed to create a panic in our ranks. Not a man attempted to run but obeyed the orders given by Lieut. Stiles to roll our blankets as quickly as possible and be ready to march, but as we could see no just cause for the disturbance and all being quiet in a few moments we unslung our knapsacks to use for pillows and lay down in the mud and slept soundly.

June 29, 1862

Got up from the damp ground, prepared some coffee and seeing no signs of a movement concluded we were to have a day of rest so we went out and gathered a lot of rails to cook some meat but did not have the opportunity as were ordered to fall in. We were deprived of our meat but we were not to be deprived of the privilege of having a fire so gathered the rails into one pile and set fire to them. They being of pitch pine scent up a column of black smoke that could be seen for miles. Took up the line of march about ten o'clock am, proceeded about two miles and halted on the ground where our troops had had a skirmish with about eight hundred rebel cavalry only a few hours before. The little squad of Union troops were victorious, several of the rebels were killed and wounded and between forty and fifty taken prisoner. Remained at this place till nearly sundown awaiting orders then advanced about a mile, turn off from the road into a field and halted for the night, laid on our arms. There were two false alarms during the night causing us to spring into our place with unusual alacrity but saw nothing at either time that looked like guerrillas.

June 30, 1862

Fell into line at an early hour this morning, proceeded but a short distance before coming to a halt of considerable length. As the enemy was supposed to be all around us it was necessary for a party to go on in advance and reconnoiter every few miles, supposed we were waiting for that purpose. Got in motion again about sunrise, marched through white oak swamp and halted in a grove on a rise of ground just clear of the swamp for the purpose of giving the men a chance to make coffee. About this time we began to feel the effects of our hard march and having nothing but hard bread and coffee to subsist on. Having had time allowed us to drink our coffee we resumed our march, arrived at what is called Malvern Hill. Here we came in sight of James River. Saw a few of our gunboats and thought our trials were nearly over. Marched down into a ravine and made a short halt but we were not permitted to rest long. Our Regiment was ordered back to the crest of the hill, took a position in line in a cornfield faced to the rear. This movement having the appearance of a line of battle formed by a Regiment to cover the retreat of the entire army. We remained here exposed to the scorching sun for two hours, then fell in and marched back through the ravine, up on a rise of ground and halted. Appearances indicated a short stop here. Our ponchos were soon spread to protect ourselves from the withering rays of the sun but had scarcely got laid down when the order came along the line to fall in so we packed up again. We all thought we were going to a more advantageous position for a camping ground and pass the night but were soon undeceived by observing the head of the column turn in the direction of Malvern Hill again. Arriving at the top of the hill we discovered nearly the whole of McClellan's in the large field before us. We halted for a short time to take breath. In contemplating the scene in view the vast number of troops covering the open space in our front and extending on either hand as far as the eye could reach, brigades and divisions still coming in, one could but wonder where there was an army large enough to compete with the one before us and compel us to retreat as we have been doing for the last three days. Our rest was here cut short by the order to march, the troops having nearly all congregated on the hill. We marched out to the front to do picket duty, the men were stationed three or four on a post and remained till past midnight, then were withdrawn. Retired but a short distance and passed the remainder of the night trying to get some sleep, but the morning of July 1 found most of us still watchful. About nine o'clock am the rebels began shelling us to which our batteries were not slow in replying. We were drawn up in line of battle about eleven o'clock am to support one of our batteries. We lay flat on the ground for five hours listening to one of the most fearful cannonading's that we ever experienced or ever wish to. Seven of our men were slightly wounded by fragments of shells while lying on the ground; it was rather a nervous and trying position for men to be in. Being exposed to the fire of the enemy and not allowed to return it the time seemed an age to us that we lay so close to the ground scarcely daring to move. At last we were ordered into close action. This was an order that surprised us sharpshooters as we were well aware that it was no place for us to form any part of a line of battle, but as we were there we resolved to do our best. Came near being flanked by the enemy twice but they were repulsed both times with a fearful loss. The battle lasted till eight o'clock pm when the rebels retired at double quick time. We remained on the ground till twelve o'clock at night then marched in retreat all the rest of the night. Arrived in the vicinity of what was called Harrison's Landing at six o'clock.


bottom of page