Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes - Diary of August 1862
August 1, 1862
Was woke up this morning about one o'clock by a terrible cannonading on the river. Lay awake listening to the balls whizzing over our encampment. Very few of them struck in our vicinity but most of them went over. Expected to be called out but the firing did not continue only about an hour so were not disturbed till daylight when we heard the particular's in the amount of damage done. It is stated that the rebels had come down to the opposite bank of the river and planted a couple of batteries during the night and began to amuse themselves by shelling our camp but after some delay our siege guns opened on them and they were soon silenced. It was reported that three or four men were killed on our side and some horses. The gunboats fired a few shots into rebeldom this forenoon but receiving no reply ceased firing. This afternoon some of our troops crossed over the river and burnt some buildings that was supposed to shelter rebels. Heard of nothing more that was done today. Our company began to practice the bayonet exercise with the new rifles this afternoon. They made rather slow progress in the first lesson, "none are so dull as those that won't listen." We were instructed by one of the sergeants of the Regiment none of our officers being acquainted with the drill. It appears that we are gradually being brought down to infantry tactics although we had the promise that our duty would be no different than it was before taking these new arms. At eight o'clock this evening a Sgt. and ten men were detailed from this company to go out on picket duty. They started without knowing where they were going or without taking any rations with them.
August 2, 1862
Nothing has been done today but a drill in the bayonet exercise in which none but the noncommissioned officers participated.
August 3, 1862
Has been a scorching hot day, had a smart shower of a half hours duration. Cleared away and was warmer than before if possible. No duty except the usual Sunday inspection. Our men that went out on picket yesterday returned at dark this evening. They said they had been on picket across the river. Had been without food during the twenty four hours they were on duty. This shows how much interest is felt for the welfare of the men by the officers in command at the present time. Think there will be some rejoicing when Capt. Wentworth returns, if he ever does.
August 4, 1862
I was detailed with ten men to go on guard at the landing. Started from camp at eight o'clock am, arrived on our post at nine. Myself and four men were stationed on the banks of the river in a delightful shade where we had nothing to do but wait on the commissary for subsistence when called upon. The rest of the time we amused ourselves by watching the shipping on the river. There was enough going on to attract our attention and prevent our duty from being irksome. In the evening we were ordered back to camp to receive another two months pay. Remained in camp about two hours then returned to our post. We had soft bread issued to us this morning. It being the first we have had for nearly five months it was deemed quite a rarity.
August 5, 1862
When we woke up this morning heard firing up in front. There seemed to be quite a sharp engagement going on. It was kept up for an hour and a half then ceased entirely, heard no more during the day. Our curiosity was excited and we waited patiently to have it gratified. Heard several reports as to the cause of the firing but none authentic. Have been on the same post today as yesterday, we are to remain here during the week. We feel quite satisfied with the arrangement. The men can pick up any amount of vegetables among the commissary stores and by buying our bread we are not dependent on the company in camp for our rations. We can but admit that this is the most pleasant duty that we have been called upon to perform since being in the service. Aside from three or four arrests we have had nothing to do but amuse ourselves by watching the shipping and the two or three hundred contrabands employed by the government in unloading transports, and keep off the flies that swarm in millions upon millions around us. They are as bloodthirsty as every living thing in secesh is expected to be. At eight o'clock pm we were relieved. Went to our quarters to pass the night undisturbed.
August 6, 1862
Turned out and resumed our post at an early hour. Cooked some potatoes and onions and with our coffee made a hearty meal. One of our men from the camp came down to bring us rations. Gleaned all the camp news from him and sent him back. Lieut. Stiles is to start for home at nine o'clock am. He has been sick since the battle of Malvern Hill; he leaves the company in command of the orderly Sgt. Heard from camp again this afternoon. The Regiment was under marching orders with everything packed and three days rations in their haversacks. The knapsacks were packed and taken down and put aboard a transport leaving us only our blankets. There are various conjectures as to where we are going. It cannot be to the front as the Regiment is reported unfit for duty. All is quiet, have not been called upon to make an arrest today. Was relieved at dark. Several released prisoners returned to the Regiment this evening. They speak unfavorably of the treatment they received at the hands of the rebels.
August 7, 1862
Went on our post at half past five o'clock am. Cooked our breakfast which consisted of boiled potatoes and coffee then disposed ourselves in the shade to await orders. As there was no evidence of a disturbance got permission to go to camp. The business of the day seemed to be with the surgeons who were examining the sick, sending away all those unable to march. Think there will be but few left. As the majority of the Regiment were present for examination stopped in but a short time. Thought it more comfortable on the banks of the river so I hastened back to my post. Towards night made two seizures of liquor which ended my duty for the day.
August 8, 1862
Nothing has occurred worthy of note to us as a guard. They commenced to load the commissary stores this afternoon on board of transports. We suspect that some sort of a move is contemplated but as we have had no recent orders we are likely to remain in suspense for a while.
August 9, 1862
Went on my post as usual but was ordered off to act as Sgt. of the regular guard. My first duty after being installed in my new office was to take a squad of men and go down on the wharf and prevent a steamer from landing. Had no trouble with said steamer as she went up the river and was seen no more during the day. The last five days have been the warmest that I ever experienced. The air from the water seems to revive us somewhat but we suffer considerable notwithstanding. Have heard no news from the front today. Visited the guard at ten clock pm, all was quiet.
August 10, 1862
Turned out, cook some eggs and with the addition of some coffee brought to me from camp made a beautiful repast. Packed up our blankets expecting to be relieved at nine o'clock but no relief came. About noon a report came from camp that the Regiment was all packed up, tents struck and were expecting an order to march every moment. We began to think they had forgotten us as we had no orders to return to camp and pack up our worldly goods, think there must be some mistake. Saw a singular site this forenoon. It was what is called a sand spout on land or in other words a whirlwind. The sand and dust began to whirl into the air a quarter of a mile distant from our quarters. In a few moments it extended as high as the eye could reach and was coming slowly towards us but some gun carriages being in its course it broke itself in passing them and we escaped having our tents twisted and torn from the pins. It was as large at the base as a molasses hogshead. The shaft ran up some thousand feet and spread out in form of an umbrella, it was a rare sight indeed. There has been no work done by the contrabands today. Towards night a thunder shower came up preceded by a perfect hurricane. It raised a cloud of dust that completely shut out the light of day. It rained but a short time but such quantities fell as to render the ground unfit to sleep on but the air was so much purer and refreshing we were willing to forgo one night sleep.
August 11, 1862
Had cleared away bright and fair. The sun came out as hot as if there had been no change for weeks. Our breakfast was sent to us from camp so it seems that the Regiment has not left yet. The work of reloading the vessels is being carried on with increased activity. Think there must be some important move close at hand. Have heard the discharge of heavy guns at regular intervals all day, did not learn the cause till nearly night when I was told they were fired in honor of Gen. McCook who was assassinated a short time since. All is quiet around our quarters at this hour, twelve o'clock at night.
August 12, 1862
Turned out at an early hour this morning and went up to the upper landing to see a member of the regimental band. They being discharged from service were about to start for home this morning. Was fortunate enough to see him as he was about to step aboard the boat, returned to camp much fatigued. A very little strain in this part of the country and at this season of the year is sufficient to exhaust one's energies. Had some trouble with the guard this forenoon caused by too much whiskey but got all quiet after sending the offenders to camp under guard. As there does not appear to be a prospect of our being relieved for some time we began to make arrangements for stopping here permanently. Got our plans matured and a requisition for rations made out when it began to blow furiously. By strenuous exertion we managed to keep our tents right side up till the gail had passed. We were congratulating ourselves on our good fortune in being kept from the Regiment and having good rations issued to us every morning when a detachment from the 9th Mass. Regiment came down to relieve us. Our disappointment was just but we had nothing to do but pack up and returned to camp. Arrived there at six o'clock pm, pitched our tent and got everything arranged conveniently when the order came to strike the tents and pitch our ponchos. Expect we shall start somewhere before morning.
August 13, 1862
Here we are and no signs of moving. For a week has been as quiet as a Sabbath in New England. All day has been quite a large number of reports in circulation regarding Popes army but can get nothing reliable from the papers.
August 14, 1862
Another quiet day, no indication of a movement yet. Thought we should get another night’s sleep on this ground but in that we are disappointed. About dark had the order to strike ponchos and pack up. Waited till ten o'clock pm before we got orders to march. Our march through the night was slow and tedious. At daylight this Friday morning [b]August 15 we were not five miles from camp. All the forenoon it has been a succession of short marches and halts which wears out the men faster than long steady marches. It has been a favorable day for us; the Sun has been obscured by light fleecy clouds most of the day. It has been a hot day nevertheless; the men kept giving out and falling to the rear. Crossed the Chickahominy on a pontoon bridge about dark and halted for the night. When the Regiment came to a final halt there were only four of our company with it, the rest were straggling in till late at night. Learned that we had marched a distance of twenty four miles today. If that be true I don't wonder that the men gave out. Only twenty seven men of the Regiment came into camp with the column. Spread our blankets wherever we stopped too tired to eat supper.
August 16, 1862
Took up the line of march at seven o'clock am. Most of the regiments had very strict orders in regard to straggling. All stragglers are to be punished by court-martial. It has been very comfortable, not very hot and good air. We were to march to Williamsburg today where we arrived at four o'clock pm. I am not able to say much of the place for we marched through the place without making a halt but what I saw impressed me favorably. It is the prettiest place that I have yet seen in Virginia. There are many public buildings in the place, one is the Williams and Mary’s college, a beautiful edifice and pleasantly located. I cannot give the description of the town that I should if I had more time to look about. I noticed that nearly all the buildings were of brick and looked very neat. Saw but very few of the old tumble down wooden buildings that we have so often seen on our marches through Virginia. We marched about two miles to the south east of the town and encamped on the battlefield of Williamsburg. Although it is but three short months since the battle it is overgrown with vegetation and looks as if it's quiet had never been disturbed by the din of battle. The earthworks and entrenchments of the rebels were not disturbed. They had a very strong position and in viewing the nature of the ground that the union troops were obliged to go over I do not wonder that it cost them so dearly to drive the enemy from their position. Our victory at this place must speak volumes for the bravery, perseverance and endurance of the troops engaged. We did not search for relics as is usually the case with men going onto an old battlefield. Having marched fifteen miles today we were tired enough to lie down.
August 17, 1862
Started a little after sunrise. Our destination today is Yorktown, a distance of twelve miles from Williamsburg. We expected to reach it before night but the day has been extremely hot and the dust rose in such clouds as to obscure all surrounding objects, filling our throats so as to almost stop our breath. It has been a most disagreeable March, the dust disturbed me so much and my feet were so sore that I was obliged to fall out of the ranks and get back in the woods out of the dust to avoid serious consequences. After resting a short time I made the attempt to move on. The ambulances were coming along and I was fortunate enough to smuggle myself into one and ride into Yorktown but the road was so rough I was jostled about so that my ride did not rest me much. The bottoms of my feet had become very painful. Thought I should be obliged to report myself unable to March. Came up with the Regiment about five o'clock pm. They were halted on the old campground that we occupied in front of Yorktown. Three months since it seemed almost like getting home again. Got some supper and although we were so tired and foot sore that we could scarcely walk we could not resist the temptation to plunge into Wormley creek for a bath after which we were so much refreshed that we felt equal to the task of marching to fortress Monroe. Pitched our ponchos and prepared to turn in feeling better than I have for many days.
August 18, 1862
The bugle sounded the reveille at half past three o'clock this morning. Turned out, cooked our coffee and was soon ready for the march but did not get started till sunrise. We got along finely for the first few hours but as the sun got up and grew hot and dusty the men began to straggle in the rear but think it was more for the purpose of pillaging then for fatigue although there were strict orders prohibiting it. In the course of the day three or four arrests were made which put a stop to it in a measure. Before the close of the days march the men had become so worn out with fatigue that they would drop down at every halt. My feet had become so sore that I could not take a firm step on the ground without making me almost cry out with pain but managed to keep in the ranks till about five o'clock pm. I sat down in the shade beside a clear running brook and rested till the column had all passed then took a bath and hobbled on. Came up with the Regiment about dark, found it encamped about a mile from Hampton and four miles from Fortress Monroe. Laid down my gun and equipments and went in search of water which took me a full hour. Cooked some coffee and with the addition of some sweet potatoes and green corn which our men had got I made a hearty meal, then I was willing to rest a while. We have marched 24 miles on as dusty a road as can be imagined.
August 19, 1862
The bugle sounded the assembly at half past seven o'clock am. It was stated that we were going to Newport News to encamp. We counter marched about three miles then filed to the left and marched down through the woods towards the News. We were informed that it was only five miles to the said place but we marched more than ten to get there. We went down near the earthworks and halted. Made some coffee then took a view of the works inside. There was nothing very attractive to be seen, there were several rough wooden buildings that were formerly used for barracks but now they are filled with sick soldiers. Off in the stream I saw the ill-fated vessels of war Cumberland and Congress (what there was left of it) just in the same condition they were left by the rebel ram Merrimac. Spent about two hours in looking about. Seeing the troops embarking pretty fast I thought it best to return lest I should be left. I was none too soon for the Regiment was falling in when I got in sight of them. We marched down to the landing and waited till dark but as there was no prospect of getting aboard tonight we went back outside the works and prepared to pass the night.
August 20, 1862
Woke up this morning at daybreak. Went for water to make coffee, when I returned the Regiment was ready to move so had to start without my breakfast. There was no delay in getting aboard the boat but waited two hours before leaving the wharf. Ran down to Fortress Monroe, stop there to take in water. We were not allowed to leave the boat. After getting the water aboard we steamed up the bay. The day was pleasant and the sale delightful. The only disagreeable feature was the crowded state of the boat. Officer’s baggage, boxes, wagons, ambulances, horses and human beings all crowded together in one heterogeneous mass. Got into the mouth of the Potomac River about dark. Kept on till midnight then dropped anchor for the rest of the night.
August 21, 1862
When I woke up this morning the boat was under way. About ten o'clock am hauled alongside the wharf at Aquia Creek. We immediately disembarked and were put aboard the cars and transported to Fredericksburg double quick, arrived at this place about noon. Our haversacks being empty we bought whatever we could find that was eatable. Our stay here was very brief, not having time to look about us or get the news. Consequently I am not able to give a description of the place. We were hurried into line and marched back about two miles from the town and encamped on a very rough hillside. Had to clear the ground of rocks, stumps and brush to get a place to spread our blankets. It doesn't seem possible that our officers have selected this place for a camp so we can but expect to march again tomorrow. It seems very hard to use men as we have been for the last week but suppose the duties of the service require it. We are entirely worn out, hungered, weary and foot sore. Many of the men are not able to march another mile yet it is evident that we are to be put in the field as soon as they can get us there. I stretched myself at full-length on the ground to pen these few lines using a flat rock for a desk and now will spread my blanket and lie down supperless and try to sleep away trouble.
August 22, 1862
Arose from my couch of rails at an early hour having passed a sleepless night. It rained nearly all night. Our blankets were but very little protection to us. I was obliged to turn out during the night and gather some rails to keep myself out of the mud but sleep was driven from my eyes the remainder of the night. I made my breakfast of coffee and sweet potatoes, felt quite refreshed. We soon got orders to pack up. Fell in and marched about a half a mile farther to the rear of the town and filed off to the left of the road into an open field and formed the Regiment in order for camping. This being a level piece of ground we were much pleased with the change. Supposing we were to camp here a few days and get some rest and rations we stacked arms but before we got the order to break ranks an officer road up with the order to have two days rations in our haversacks and be ready to march at any moment. The latter part of the order we could comply with but the rations were more difficult to get. This last order drove the idea of a quite camp of a few days entirely from our minds. I scarcely dared pitch my poncho to protect myself from the Sun for fear the order to march would come before I should get it done but at last mustered courage to make the attempt. Just as I got it up and lay down the bugle sounded the assembly so had the pleasure of packing up again. Took up the line of march at five o'clock pm. Marched till dark, then there was considerable delay on account of the officers losing the way. When we started again we moved at quick time. Passed through the town of Falmouth but it was so dark I could not distinguish one building from another, continued our march all night. At three o'clock this morning August 23 we halted and lay down beside the road and slept for two hours then resumed our march. At daylight heard cannonading in the distance. Supposed to be some of Pope's artillery, if continued all the forenoon. We halted a little after sunrise to cook some coffee then resumed our tedious march. The Sun came out hot with scarcely a breath of air stirring. The men fell out in squads unable to keep up. The column was moved very briskly till five o'clock pm when it came to a halt. There was but twenty men in the Regiment when it came to a halt. Men that never left the ranks before on a march were obliged to fall by the wayside today. We pitched our ponchos and awaited the arrival of the stragglers. In the evening we had a splendid shower of an hour’s duration; it cooled the air and refreshed us amazingly. After it ceased raining the cannonading commenced up in front of us and continues up to this time (nine o'clock pm) at which time I am going to turn in for the night.
August 24, 1862
Instead of allowing us to keep one of the Ten Commandments today we were ordered to pack up and march, causing the men to break several others. We started on empty stomachs our rations having given out last night and the wagons not coming up so that we could be supplied it looked rather dubious till we found that we were to take the back track. Then our spirits revived with the hopes that we might possibly meet the teams and get something to eat. We started about noon and marched steadily till sundown then encamped for the night. The teams were in view in the distance at a standstill with no prospect of their being any nearer us till morning. Made our supper of a dish of coffee and rolled ourselves in our blankets to sleep away hunger.
August 25, 1862
Was called up at five o’clock, did not have time to cook a dish of coffee. Fell into line, stacked arms and remained two hours without any further movement. Took up the line of march at ten o’clock am. Went about two miles and halted in the road. Waited patiently for three hours for orders and at last got one which was “about face.” Marched back and took up a position near the spot we occupied last night. Pitched our ponchos and waited for what else was to come. Then as my haversack was empty and stomach in the same condition without being likely to be replenished from the wagons I started off on a foraging expedition by myself. After scouring the country for three miles around I returned with only a few ears of green corn. Soon after another foraging party came in with better success, bringing with them a carcass of mutton. It was quickly divided, cooked and devoured. Then we turned in to get some sleep but three or four of us were roused up at ten o’clock to draw fresh beef for the company.
August 26, 1862
Was roused at four o’clock this morning. Did not have time to cook the meat that we drew last night but rather than leave it on the ground most of the men cut off slices and put them in their haversacks to cook on the way. Wished afterwards I had followed their example for I had the pleasing information that it was all we should get for four days when in reality there was not enough for one day but just before starting we had some hard bread and coffee issued. Commenced our march at sunrise, continued it steadily till four o’clock pm and halted near a cornfield and a stream of water. We soon had a supply of roasting ears. After satisfying we took a bath, then felt equal to the task of continuing the march an hour or two longer. We have marched about fifteen miles today and have marched in nearly all directions indicated by the compass. About sundown heard cannonading but a short distance from us on our right. We expected to be called out but were not disturbed.
August 27, 1862
We marched nearly twenty miles this day in the scorching sun. The men were falling out of the ranks continually; it seemed to me that we had traversed every cart path in Va. Such a circuitous route for an army to move through is beyond my comprehension. About noon we struck the Warrenton and Manassas railroad and followed it up to Warrenton Junction and halted. The men built fires to cook their evening dish of coffee when the order came to fall in. Moved about a mile and encamped. Our rations gave out at noon, we had nothing but coffee for supper. I was fortunate enough during the day to pick up a few beans. Sat up till late at night to cook them but could scarcely wait till they were cooked I was so hungry.
August 28, 1862
The reveille was sounded at half past three o’clock this morning. Two hours were allowed us to cook our breakfast which was much more than was necessary for us but nothing to cook. Took up the line of march promptly at the time appointed on empty stomachs. Went about half a mile and halted beside the road to let the remainder of Porter’s Corp pass. They have been separated since leaving Harrisons landing; leaving there by different routes they concentrated at Warrenton Junction. Now that they are all together we feel more confidence and are ready to meet the enemy at any time. It has been very hot and no air. Although the march has been very slow on account of the many wagons in the road the men were continually falling out of the ranks to get along as best suited their convenience, myself being one of the number. Took the railroad track and walked leisurely along, keeping within view of the regiment. Came past a place where the rebels had been at work tearing up the rails, cutting down the telegraph poles, burning the cars, locomotives and blowing up the bridges. The destruction of property was immense, four very fine locomotives were destroyed and a large number of freight cars loaded with army stores but it seems that our troops caught them in the act for we passed a spot where there had been a skirmish but a few hours before. Men were burying the dead and the wounded were being conveyed to the temporary hospital. A few prisoners were taken but I was so much fatigued that I did not stop to enquire into particulars. Pushed along as fast as I could. Came up with the regiment about four o’clock pm, they had encamped for the night. Just before sundown we had a smart shower which lasted only half an hour but sufficient rain fell to make the ground muddy. Immediately after it ceased raining the cannonading commenced up in front of us and continued till late at night. The rebels keep just about so far in advance of us, they don’t seem inclined to make a stand so that we can all face them yet but I think they will give us an opportunity at Bulls Run. It is but a little more than a year since the union forces were defeated there and we may be again.
August 29, 1862
Did not start very early this morning. Had time to boil some fresh beef that was issued last night about eleven o’clock. There was almost enough for each mans breakfast. We had six hard biscuits given to each man for his days rations and commenced the march. We kept along beside the railroad till we got to Manassas Junction when we were ordered to take another direction and go up to reinforce Gen. McDowell. We were hurried along at quick time for three miles, then came to a halt to prepare for action, load our guns, fill our canteens and dispose of our blankets so that they would be no hindrance to us in handling our muskets. While performing this duty Gen. McDowell and staff rode past. There was considerable notice taken of him but not as if he was much respected. After he had passed the column advanced to the scene of action. Just as we were getting in line of battle a rebel battery opened on us with such precision that the second shot knocked over three of the 1st Michigan regiment that stood directly in front of us. We were then drawn off out of range. Our battery soon silenced the troublesome customer. From this time till dark we were kept shifting positions until dark. It was about face and march about a mile, then about face and march back till I was so fatigued that I could scarcely stand. About eight o’clock pm the whole brigade marched into an open field to encamp for the night. The men built some very small fires to boil some coffee but had not got it accomplished before our regiment was ordered up to go on picket. We were till twelve o’clock posting them, at that time all was quiet. I was truly thankful for the privilege of lying down, but not to sleep.
August 30, 1862
We were ordered to leave our post on picket at daylight. Returned to the field where we left the brigade last night and found the field deserted. We were ordered off immediately in pursuit. Falling in with Gen. Griffin’s brigade the regiment joined him till our own could be found. Arrived at Manassas Junction at sunrise. Being unable to follow the regiment I fell out of the ranks. Feeling a faintness coming over me I started in search of water. While wandering about I had an opportunity of observing the amount of the ruins of property destroyed by the rebels at this place. Not a building was left standing complete. Several thousands of dollars worth of railroad stock was consumed with all that the cars were freighted with. It was a desolate looking place indeed. After resting a short time I started on my way. Overtook the regiment at Bulls Run. Marched over the old battlefield of a year ago. Did not have time to look about much so cannot give a description of the place. Continued our march to Centreville before halting. Our stay here was very brief but sufficient for us to see the strength of the place. It is a wonder to me why the rebels ever evacuated it. Nature with the assistance of forts has made it almost impregnable to any force that could have been brought against it. It is situated on a hill with fortifications commanding every point and all the entrances to the place. It is not at all surprising that the rebels held the place with wooden guns for awhile. Left this place and went back some more than a mile and camped beside some clear running water, a great luxury to us dusty and travel worn soldiers. We would cheerfully march two miles at any time for the privilege of camping beside a clear stream of water. Stopped at this place some two hours. The men went out foraging bringing in green apples, corn, potatoes and beans. We made a hearty meal of this green stuff. Being entirely out of bread the Col. of the 32nd Massachusetts Regiment presented us with some for which we were truly thankful. About five o'clock pm the cannonading in our rear became very spirited and we were ordered back to take part in the fight. Got within three miles of the scene of action when we were obliged to halt, the road was so blocked up by wagons and ambulances returning from the field with the wounded and dying. It was a sad sight to see the poor fellows lying on the stretchers mangled and bleeding, probably many of them maimed for life but our attention was turned from the sickening sight to inquiring how the battle was going in front but the reports were so conflicting that we could gain no satisfactory information. About eight o'clock we were ordered back to Centerville. Our march was so slow that we did not get onto a campground till one o'clock this Sunday morning [b]August 31. Stacked arms and dropped down in our tracks regardless of filth or hard places. Was woke up by a drenching rain which continued till noon. Had no breakfast this morning. I was so worn out that serious thoughts came to my mind of leaving the Regiment and going to Fairfax but just as I was about to start were informed where the rest of our brigade was encamped. We hastened to join it, found that they had been in the fight of yesterday and were sadly cut up. It has been a great battle and a bloody one, have not heard which of the two armies are victorious if either. There are vague rumors in circulation of McDowell's treachery. There has been no fighting today, the rebels hold the field. Our forces are retreating back to Centerville; the ambulances are going to the battlefield under a flag of truce. We have had rations of hard bread and coffee issued to us this afternoon but no meat of any kind. That which we most need we are deprived of although other regiments in the brigade are faring sumptuously. Think there must be something wrong in this matter. We are in readiness to march at any moment but think we shall remain here tonight. Part of our stragglers came in about dark; all is quiet at this time eight o'clock pm.