Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of July 1862
July 2, 1862
It commenced raining at an early hour. The troops continued to come in all day. With the rain and so many feet tramping over this porous soil it was very soon worked up to a consistency of soft mud a foot deep. Fortunately we had halted in an extensive wheatfield. We collected the harvested grain and laid it down to keep ourselves out of the mud. No protection was afforded us as we had lost our knapsacks, blankets and poncho tents on the battlefield of July 1 so we were left without anything except what we had on our backs except one or two that picked up on the retreat. The stragglers continued to come in till dark; at that time we were able to estimate our loss. We could account for all but one, he was reported as missing. It was still raining but in spite of our deplorable condition, the men being so worn-out with hunger and fatigue, throw themselves down on their heaps of straw regardless of the pelting rain to try and get a little sleep. Others replenished the fire, choosing to sit by it all night rather than risk being trodden into the mud by passing troops.
July 3, 1862
When we woke up this morning it was still raining. Every article of clothing was completely saturated. We built as large a fire as our limited allowance of fuel would permit and dried our clothes as much as possible while preparing our coffee. Considerable anxiety being manifested in regard to the safety of the wagons that had our provisions aboard a detail was made from each company to go back and assist in bringing them up, the party started off headed by Capt. Wardwell. We supposed that we had arrived at a place where the rebels would not molest us but were soon undeceived by a round shot whistling into our midst followed by a shell. The troops were immediately ordered into line of battle, several shot and shell whistled about our ears as we were forming and taking our position but did not hear as anyone was hurt. Our position was in a deep ravine so that we could not hear or see what was going on in front. While lying there awaiting orders a member of this company that had been home sick mysteriously appeared among us to the surprise of all. Gleaned all the news possible from him in regard to the state of affairs in Massachusetts. He stopped with us a short time, left us to report to the hospital. We remained in the hollow till past noon, then moved off about a mile into a small piece of wood to encamp. Was here that we heard the result of the morning's work which was that our troops got in rear of the enemy and captured the entire battery that had so unceremoniously pitched their shot and shell among us and quite a large number of prisoners. It being very near dark when we arrived at the wood lot we went about putting up a temporary protection and prepared to pass the night.
July 4, 1862
Although we were in the immediate vicinity of the enemy the day was celebrated with spirit. The national salute was fired by the several batteries in the field and by the gunboats in the river. All the national airs were played by the different bands and where the mud was dried up enough to admit the troops were paraded in line. Taking everything into consideration the day passed off very pleasantly. We were not molested by any rebel compliments today. The sharpshooters passed the day in arranging our campground for the better accommodation of ourselves and giving an account to the officers of articles that we were in actual need to make ourselves comfortable.
July 5, 1862
This morning we began to experience the intense heat of a Southern Sun. It seems to deaden the sensibilities and take the life out of us Northerners that we are fit for nothing. The sick and wounded all came into camp today except two, Richardson who has been missing since the battle of July 1 and Graham who got aboard a boat and went to some northern hospital. The rest being but slightly wounded will soon be on duty. Heard heavy firing down the river this forenoon, learned the cause late in the afternoon which was that the rebels had got below us on the riverbank with a field battery and were annoying our transports as they passed up and down the river. But the gunboats are on the alert and we think it will be a dangerous practice for the rebels if they make the attempt to cripple our river craft. At a still later hour we heard of the capture of the rebel gunboat Teaser which happened yesterday. It was towed down to the landing opposite our encampment but I did not get a chance to see it or hear the particulars of its capture. Nothing has occurred in camp today.
July 6, 1862
The Regiment was thoroughly inspected today. Our company was reported unfit for duty, our ammunition all gone and most of our rifles out of order and no means of repairing them. Our condition was duly reported to the proper officers. The sick and wounded were sent down aboard the boats to be taken to some northern hospitals agreeable to an order issued by the secretary of war. All quiet along the line.
July 7, 1862
It has been by far the warmest day of the season. It was well that we had nothing to do. Had some clothing issued to us to replace those that we lost in the late battle. The men think it would be as well if government or our quartermaster would issue good wholesome rations so that we may replace the health and strength that we lost in this late move. Being relieved from active-duty does not seem to improve us in the least. We think it rather hard to put up with hard bread and smoked sides when other regiments are having all that the regulations allow the soldier, but if our regimental officers are not inclined to intercede for us we must make the best of it. All quiet.
July 8, 1862
The forenoon passed very quietly. Just after dinner we were startled by the report of artillery but our practiced ears soon informed us that the reports were from blank cartridges. But we still wondered for whom or what the salute was fired until we got the order to fall in to be reviewed by President Lincoln. He did not pass us till it was so dark that we could not distinguish his features, we returned to quarters slightly disappointed. The rumor this evening is that Vicksburg is captured by our forces, it is generally credited about camp.
July 9, 1862
It still continues warm. Nothing except the fatigue duty about camp has been done today.
July 10, 1862
No duty today, has been excessive hot till three o'clock pm when a thunder shower came up very suddenly and rained in torrents till late at night. A description of one thunder shower in Virginia is sufficient as there is very little if any difference in the quantity of water that descends, the constant flashes of lightning or the continual rumbling of thunder. All is quiet along the line.
July 11, 1862
Has rained all day. Part of our company went on guard with Company C. Since the late battle some of the companies are so reduced that there is not enough to do guard duty around the camp and are obliged to patch up with a detachment from the sharpshooters. We had a new doctor come today from Boston to attend to the sick of the Regiment. He is a very young man and should judge was inexperienced but it matters but little who dispenses the pills and powders in the Army, providing they kill or cure with all possible dispatch. No news today.
July 12, 1862
Had a company drill of an hour’s length this forenoon. Had nothing more to do till towards night when another detail was made from our company to go on guard with Company B.
July 13, 1862
Went through the form of regimental inspection this morning. Had nothing more to do till night when the remainder of the company went on guard.
July 14, 1862
The company was thrown into a high-state of excitement by hearing that Lieut. Stiles had by order sent in a requisition for sharps breech loading rifles which the men loudly protested against taking. There has nothing been talked of but the hated rifle, the conversation extended far into the evening. We have carried the old rifles so long that we have become attached to them and to part with them would be like parting from a tried and valuable friend. We have resolved to try all the means in our power to prevent such a disaster befalling us.
July 15, 1862
This day has been devoted to the mustering the different companies of the Regiment for payment. It is now since the twenty eighth of [b]February since we have been paid and we are sadly in need of pocket change to furnish ourselves with a few small articles that the government does not provide. The sutlers are more plenty than the pennies just this present time. Lt. Col. Griswold joined the Regiment this evening, he has been absent since we left Yorktown. Another shower this evening.
July 16, 1862
Had a company drill this forenoon which lasted an hour which was all the duty required of us today. Shower this evening.
July 17, 1862
One hours drill is all the duty done today. Shower in the evening.
July 18, 1862
Was passed the same as yesterday.
July 19, 1862
The drill the same as yesterday. Had an evening inspection at which time four new corporals were appointed.
July 20, 1862
The company has been guarding the camp today. Nothing has occurred worthy of record. Showers are expected every evening.
July 21, 1862
When we turned out this morning it was bright and clear, no signs of the shower of last evening. The day passed without any occurrence to break the monotony of the past two weeks. Towards night we drew some small tents which was thought would be preferable to the scanty protection that we have had but when we saw one pitched and were told how many were to occupy it we all thought we should rather keep our old ones. We resolved to sleep one more night under them. It was rumored about camp that we were to move early tomorrow morning. No news of the enemy today.
July 22, 1862
Turned out at an early hour expecting the order to pack up but none came. Loitered about in the shade till noon, then was ordered to pitch the other tents but most of the men preferring their old ones we were not likely to be crowded the first night. Have had the usual amount of heat today and very little air stirring. No new cases of sickness today but the men do not seem to improve very fast. Have finally come to the conclusion that we are a worn-out company. Seven of the men went to be examined to see whether they were unfit for duty, but have not heard the result. Just at dark we were creditably informed that we should move tomorrow.
July 23, 1862
Was called up at five o'clock am to pack up. Had ample time to get our breakfast, collect all our baggage and take it some distance to the teams before falling into line. After getting into line we remained at rest for a long time in the hot sun before getting the order to march. We moved about a mile toward the river and halted in an open field where it is decided to encamp. We do not see any great advantage gained by this move as yet. There is no wood or water less than half a mile. By a little labor we can make a very neat and clean encampment which will be of some benefit. After we had got off our equipments some of us went back to the old camp for things we had left while the rest remained to pitch the tents. Got settled in time to turn in for the night.
July 24, 1862
When we turned out this morning it was cloudy and threatened rain but cleared away about nine o'clock am. The sun came out scalding hot, we were glad to seek the shelter of our tents. Were not disturbed till five o'clock pm when we were ordered in line and marched about a mile to be reviewed by general Morell. Marched in review then returned to camp with the pleasing intelligence that we had got to go through the same performance again tomorrow.
July 25, 1862
Formed in line at seven o'clock am and marched to the parade ground which is about a mile from our encampment. When we arrived on the ground it was nearly all taken up by troops that had preceded us. General Porter's entire command were to be reviewed. They formed by brigades, closed in mass, it was a splendid sight. Our position being in a hollow I could not see all the troops but should think that there were enough to give the entire rebel army a pretty good battle. The batteries were drawn up in our rear except one that was in front to fire the salute when the general should make his appearance. We remained at rest about an hour before the guns in front announced that the generals were on the ground. The review was very brief; generals McClellan and Porter with their staff’s road along in front of the lines and back in the rear, then took their position. Then the troops marched in review and filed off to their respective camps. It was very hot and we were glad to get back to quarters, all quiet the rest of the day. Two members of this company received their discharge for disability last night and started for home this morning but when we got back from the review they were back in camp. They got as far as the landing and were not allowed to go aboard the boat on account of some defect in their papers. They were taken to headquarters this afternoon and rectified so that they can go tomorrow. A small affair happened in camp today that caused some sizable talk and some excitement among the members of this company. It being a matter of some importance among us as it has not occurred but once before since leaving home and then without just cause. It appears that one of the men having a severe headache and thinking the hot sun would be worse for him did not go out on review and when we returned to quarters he was placed under arrest and kept in the hot sun all the afternoon. It is thought that it was done out of a spirit of revenge as a sergeant remained in camp and we heard nothing of he being arrested or reprimanded although he was not excused from duty by the surgeon. Such actions portend no good, consequently causes considerable excitement.
July 26, 1862
Has been a very little cooler today. The two discharged men started again this morning. The day passed quietly till two o'clock pm when a thunder shower arose accompanied by a high wind that raised such clouds of dust as to envelop our whole encampment. The rain is quite welcome as it cools the atmosphere several degrees. Continues raining at this hour nine o'clock pm.
July 27, 1862
It had cleared away when we turned out this morning and promised us a hot day as usual. Were got in line for inspection at eight o'clock am. Went up on regimental line and listened to a few orders then returned to quarters to be inspected. Nothing more to do during the day except to keep cool which is the most difficult duty we have to perform in this part of the country. No news today in regard to army movements.
July 28, 1862
This has been a day of events to the second company Massachusetts sharpshooters. The day has been insufferably hot. The paymaster made his appearance among us this forenoon and paid us for only two months when we expected pay for the last four but we were thankful for a part. The greenbacks began to circulate pretty freely for eatables as soon as received. The men were all in fine spirits, filling their stomachs with the delicacies that could be found at the sutlers but their spirits were soon dampened by receiving information that the sharps rifle had come into camp. We were soon after ordered to fall in with rifles and equipment. Were marched up to the quartermasters department and ordered to lay down our rifles. The equipment of the sharps rifle was first offered us. Only one of the company seemed inclined to take them and he threw them down when he found that he was alone. After a consultation with the Col. we were ordered to quarters, got our supper and were ordered to fall in with arms and equipment again. The Col. addressed us for a few minutes, then he kindly gave us five minutes to lay down our arms and accept sharps rifles. Only three complied with the gentle request, those we think disgraced themselves and the company they belong to. The five minutes passed, then the Col. called for the objections that the men had to taking other arms. After hearing them we were dismissed and we thought the matter settled for the present but shortly afterwards Col. Barnes commanding the brigade in the absence of general Martindale came down and ordered us into line. He addressed us at some length accusing us of being in a state of mutiny and being in rebellion towards our officers and being a disgrace to ourselves and to the state we came from, using the most appalling epithets towards us to all of which we listened very respectfully knowing full well that we were innocent of all the charges brought against us. To close up the matter we were all put under arrest with the pleasant intelligence that we were not to be released except by court-martial. We all were quite willing to comply with these terms but Col. Barnes did not seem quite satisfied with the way the matter was left so he made another proposition which was "all those who were willing to obey all lawful orders of their superior officers step six paces forward." As we have always obeyed such orders and always intend to there was no other way for us to do but comply with this last request which released us from arrest and ended the matter for the night, but not very satisfactorily to us as we were anxious to receive the punishment that we were threatened with which was to be sent to Tortugas or the Rip Raps.
July 29, 1862
Contrary to our expectations we have not been further inopportuned in the matter of sharps rifles. Nothing has occurred to disturb the quietness of the camp. We have had our company drill and inspection as if nothing had ever happened.
July 30, 1862
Has been very hot all day but a good breeze sprung up and made it sufferable. The detested sharps rifles were again given or offered to the company with the equipments. They were taken very unwillingly and under protest by the entire company with one exception. The two sergeants that superintended the distribution of them appeared to do it with evident satisfaction. Had just time enough to get some of the rust off the guns when we were ordered to fall in with arms and equipments for company drill. This may be all very fine amusement for these petty officers that are now in authority over us. There seems to be a disposition to tyrannize over us. Our only consolation is that their authority over us cannot always last. No news today.
July 31, 1862
Has been dull and rainy all day. Had a short drill this forenoon then were dismissed. Had the ammunition for the new rifles dealt out to us this afternoon. Presume we are now reported for duty.