top of page

Col Tilton's War Diary #3


Wm. S. Tilton
Col. 22d Mass. Vols.
Before Petersburg. Saturday, June 18, 1864

At 5 a.m. turned out and marched to the front, stacking arms in rear of the 2d Corps where we made coffee. At 8 a.m. the brigade advanced to the front and left to take up a line before the enemy’s works on new ground. The regiment was detailed to skirmish to the front and drive the rebel pickets. I deployed in an open field near Col. Avery’s with my right on the Norfolk road to Petersburg. We pushed forward to the Norfolk R.R. (which crosses the road) and to a ravine beyond, when the right of my line was driven back. The left however, under Major Burt, held its own having shelter in rear of a crest. I now detailed 100 men from the 62d Pa. (my reserve) with whom I strengthened my right and then succeeded in driving the rebel skirmishers out of the ravine. Crawford’s skirmishers on my right moved forward simultaneously, driving in some rebs who gave our line a cross fire in our first attack. About 12m the 2d brigade moved forward and took position in the ravine, all the regts. but one being on the right of the road. The 1st brigade, Col. Chamberlain, then formed on the left and advanced to the ravine and took position on the left of Col. Swietzers Brigade. This was done under a very heavy fire from the enemy’s works, and the brigade lost more than two hundred, including Col. Chamberlain who was dangerously wounded. Thus we remained until just before dark, when I read an order to take command of 1st Brig. And charge the enemy’s works when the troops on my right and left did. I immediately proceeded to reconnoiter the ground and communicated with Brigade commander on my left, who it appeared did not advance on the left of 1st Brigade (as expected) when they made their charge. Col. Hoffman in command of this Brigade (one of the 4th Div. Gen. Butler) assured me that he would begin the charge as soon as I did. The 83d Pa., 44th Ma and 11th Mich. were now sent to me from 3d Brigade, Gen. Bartlett, to use as I saw fit. I took the 187th Pa., which had formed the 2d line of Chamberlain’s Brigade, placed it on my left, and moved Bartlett’s three regts. Into the 2d line. They entrenched and cleared up the bushes in their front. I now anxiously awaited the movement of the Brigade on my right as I had received notice that a general advance would be made at 4 a.m. The movement was finally suspended, and at 4 a.m. Sunday, June 19, 1864 I withdrew my line and took up a position in rear of Bartlett who now holds the front line while I am in reserve. During the night a line of entrenchments was formed still further in the rear and occupied by Crawford. My men were very uneasy last night, being so much in advance that they were exposed to a fire from the left flank. The 187th indeed left their position without orders at one time, and had to be sent back to the place again. This day quiet. Lost several men by sharpshooter’s fire.

Monday, June 20, 1864
Remained in same position all day. Lt. Davenport (commanding pioneers) put up a breastwork which sheltered myself and staff from the constant dropping of the rebels bullets. At dark went to the rear and bivouacked near Corps H.Q. I had been detailed on a board of examination to enquire into the efficiency of certain officers, and was sitting at Corps H.Q. while this last movement was in progress. Adjourned at 12 p.m. Got up a tent and turned in at 1 ½ a.m. Col. Prescott was mortally wounded in the advance of the 2d Brigade on 19th inst. Col. Chamberlain is a brigadier. Gen. Hayes (formerly Gen. of 18th Mass.) has been assigned to 1st Brig. 2d Div. Gen. Ayers.

Tuesday, June 21, 1864
Went to Corps H.Q. at 10 a.m. on duty as a member of the board of examination. The Brigade was meanwhile moved to the left and massed in rear of Gen. Ayers, --------- promising to notify me should there be any fighting. Adjourned at 4 ½ p.m. and on returning to my Brigade read orders to march to the front and take up a position on the left of Gen. Ayers at dark and then entrench. The skirmishers under Lt. Col. ---------- went forward, driving the rebels from a thick wooded swamp, and rested on high ground on the edge of the woods, facing the enemy’s works which were seven hundred yards in front across an open field. On reaching the left of Gen. Ayers I found that Gen. Bartlett was to take up position there. I was ordered by Gen. Griffon to form one line with my left resting on the Jerusalem Plank Road, my right running towards Gen. Bartlett’s left (S.W. to N.E.). I saw Col. Throop while reconnoitering this position and requested him as well as Capt. Sellers, commanding pickets in front of my designated position to inform me when the skirmish line was established, and I would then bring up my Brigade. This was at 9 p.m. This he failed to do, so after waiting in great anxiety until a late hour I sent to Gen. Griffon for instructions as to whether I should go into line without regard to other Brigades. After a long time my Adjt. Gen. returned with orders to go into line at once. He also informed me that the 3d Brigade had “gobbled” the wagon load of tools intended for me. Consequently I had to send back to Corps H.Q. for another wagon load. All this caused great delay and much anxiety to me, as I had a brigade new to me in a dangerous position uncovered before the enemy. At 1 ½ a.m. the tools came up and were distributed. 2 ½ a.m. on the 22nd I lay down to sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 1864
Our right does not reach Gen. Bartlett by 100 yards of which fact I informed Gen. Griffon this morning. Had I had more definite orders I might have been in position soon after 9 p.m. last evening, and entrenched in two hours. I took position a few yards in rear of the skirmish line, upon the crest of ground rising from a swampy hollow in my rear. The enemy was so near that my main line could not be exposed without drawing fire. It was therefore a delicate operation to bring up and form a line of troops by moonlight. I placed them on the highest ground possible, keeping within the edge of the timber. Quiet until night when the enemy attacked the 2d Corps on my left, took 4 guns and several hundred prisoners, besides carrying the first line of works. The 2d Corps drove them back at a later hour, taking as many prisoners as they had lost. The 2d brigade of our Div. was sent to the support of the 2d Corps but did not become engaged. I was on the board for two or three hours.

Thursday, June 23, 1864
I was on the board at Corps H.Q. yesterday and today when we adjourned -----. During our session we examined the cases of a Colonel, a Lieut. Col. and a Major. It was a very delicate duty. Nothing of consequence happened during the day. We lost the usual number of men by picket firing. I ordered the picket line to be strengthened and advanced at dark. Early in the evening the rebels opened fire from their whole picket line. Those in front of 2d Corps (ours) were driven in. This made Griffon uneasy and at a late hour he ordered me to throw out a picket of one hundred men to connect the left of my main line with the 2d line of 2d Corps. This I did, running my line down the Plank Road. The enemy kept up a heavy picket fire upon us until a late hour. I could not sleep until 1 a.m. During the day I had roads cut through the woods from my breastworks to a little wood road running parallel to my line in the rear.

Friday, June 24, 1864
7 a.m. The rebels made a savage attack on our lines to the right. The artillery fire was as heavy as any I ever heard. I since learn that the assault was made on gen. Burnside and was repulsed with a loss to the rebels of 100 men taken prisoners. 7 ½ a.m. We were surprised by a spherical case shot thrown into our H.Q. just as we were sitting down to breakfast. We got behind our breastworks and saw the advantage of them for a dozen more shells came around us in the next half hour. They were thrown at a battery on our right and came obliquely upon us. There was also firing at our left directed as I learn at Gen. Crawford’s Div. who advanced across open ground to relive the right of the 2d Corps. I now feel relived having troops upon my left that I have confidence in. The pickets on my left flank are still out however. 2 p.m. All quiet. I have ordered my pickets not to fire, so that today the eternal din is stopped in my front at least. I have had only two casualties thus far. My staff is generally a very good one, most of the officers having been promoted from the ranks, and therefore knowing their duty as soldiers. It consists of-----


Capt. E.S. Osborne 149th Pa. A.A.D.G.
Lt. John E. Parsons 149th Pa. A.A.D.G.
Lt. Voorhies 150th Pa. A.D.M.
Lt. West Funk 121st Pa. A.D.C.
Lt. B.F. Walters 143rd Pa. A.D.C.
Lt. O.D. Harder 187th Pa. A.D.C.
Lt. Hillman 142nd Pa. C.S.
The regiments of the brigade are-----
121st Pa. Capt. Lang
142nd Pa. Major Warren
143rd Pa. Lt. Col. Irvin
150th Pa. Major Jones
187th Pa. Lt. Col. Ramsey

                 Guns   Casualties
150th Pa.  106     170
149th Pa.  239     268
143rd Pa.  226     412
142nd Pa .164     133
121st Pa.  114       97
187th Pa.  568     172
              1,450  1,252


While going along the lines this morning a ball went by my head and took off the cap of Lt. Funk, my A.D.C., which was a narrow escape for both of us. I have received notice to be ready for a move in any direction, an attack being expected on the left of our army.


Saturday, June 25, 1864

This was a very hot day and quiet until 10 p.m. when an attack was made somewhere on our right (the 18th Corps probably) which was quite brisk and lasted some time. It vibrated along the line in the form of picket fire, giving us of the 1st Brig. quite an alarm, our pickets becoming quite heavily engaged (in the dark) with those of the enemy, although both sides had been quiet during the day and in the evening had so fraternized that I had to order the picket officers to stop all communication between our men and the johnnies. In an hour all was quiet. The attack was made on 18th Div. again, 18th Corps. We took 400 prisoners.Sunday, June 26, 1864Was aroused about 5 a.m. by the skirmishing in front. The firing is done most by Bartlett’s men on my right. The mail carrier brought me a cheerful and cheering letter from my other and better half dated June 23. The date is so recent that I begin to feel as if really near civilization again. Within a few days sutlers have come up and brought milk, butter and peaches, great additions to the inevitable ham and hard tack. I find my staff in possession of a cow so we have plenty of milk au natural. At this place we have also ice, a most unusual luxury. Altogether we are more comfortable than at any time since we began the campaign fifty three days ago. We have no tents up as we are liable to move at any moment, but the shade of a great tree does almost as well. My health continues good, an occasional headache being my only trouble. Memo, Charles Tilton, 122nd N.Y. died in hospital in Washington and was buried this week. The day passed quietly, my men being prohibited from firing unnecessarily on picket. This led to an amicable feeling between them and the Johnnies. I managed to keep my men from talking with them, but those from 3rd Div. on my left went out half way, played cards and exchanged hardtack for tobacco. They were not very communicative but give such strong evidence of a determination to hold Richmond that I look upon this as the “last ditch”, having gained which we shall have accomplished our task of breaking the back bone of the rebellion. The brigade on our front is composed of 28th Ala., 21st Geo., 14th N.C., 1st S.C. Infantry and 1st S.C. S.S. In the evening there was a tremendous noise of musketry on the picket line of the 9th Corps, who manage to keep up a mass all the time. They fire with artillery at intervals all day and night. When the time and opportunity comes I am willing to burn powder with the rest of them, but I abhor the indecisive and savage practice of sharpshooting. I would leave that to Englishmen and Sioux Indians. This is the anniversary of the battle of Mechanicsville. I called on Gen. Griffon, also visited the 22d, heard a sermon by Mr. Tyler. Found my trunk and got some clothes more suited to my new position than those I had worn through this weary campaign. I had come to look quite shabby for a Mass. man. Suggested to Gen. Griffon the appointment of Lt. Col. Sherwin as Adj. Insp. Gen. of Div. The old 22nd is reduced to 84 guns, a Captain’s command, so it is a farce and a shame to send two such officers as S. and Burt into action with them.


Monday, June 27, 1864

This is a day that I have good cause to remember. Two years ago was fought the battle of Gaines Mill, in which I was wounded and taken prisoner. Poor Gove, my friend and mentor, was killed, untimely cut off in our first considerable battle. He was a soldier and if living now would be a Maj. Gen. commanding a Corps if rank were decided by merit. I have never seen his like. There was nothing about the service and its details that he did not understand, and yet his mind was large, and grasped the field of strategy as easily as the more limited ones of tactics and discipline. He was a good disciplinarian. While he was kind to all, and even very gentle and playful with his field and staff when off duty, yet he never forgot himself or what was due to his rank. He was generous and noble hearted, yet he did not spare those who were mean and guilty of duplicity. He was a great judge of character, could read a man like a book. He was terrible when his chivalrous natures were excited by the detection of wrong or deception on the part of officer or man. I have cause to remember his kindness. We tented together from the investment of Yorktown April 5th until the day of his death June 27th, during which time he suffered much with neuralgia, but he seldom complained, and never spoke to me in an impatient manner, and from his first assumption of command of the Regt. he never rebuked or reprimanded me. This excites my gratitude, for, over many months, I should not be human had I not given him occasion to do so. The dear, brave, manly, gentle fellow, God give him rest in his new home. P.M. all quiet. Military operations appear to have ceased all along the lines of the army. 5 p.m. Rain has come, the first time for several weeks. The ground is very dry and the roads a bed of dust. Water is very scarce, so I am in hopes we shall have a good shower. This being the anniversary of the great battle in which I was wounded, my thoughts revert to the different engagements in which I have been and I wonder at my many escapes from wound or death. As well as I can remember I will enumerate or name the battles and affairs in which I have been under fire.


April 5, 1862 Yorktown
April 10 – May 4, 1862 Siege of Yorktown
May Hanover Court House
May and June Chick hominy
June 26, 1862 Mechanicsville
June 27, 1862 Gaines Mill
Sept. 17, 1862 Malvern Hill
Sept. 19, 1862 Shepherdstown
Dec. 16, 1862 Fredericksburg
May 4, 1863 Chancellorsville
July 2nd and 4th, 1863 Gettysburg
November 1863 Mine Run
May 5, 6, 7, 1864 Wilderness
May 8 – 12, 1864 Laurel Hill
May 14, 1864 Spotsylvania
May 30, 1864 Tolopatomy Creek
June 2nd and 3rd, 1864 Bethesda Church
June 5, 1864 Shady Grove
June 18, 1864 Petersburg
May 23, 1864 North Anna
May 25, 1864 Little River
July 30, 1864 Petersburg
August 18, 19, 21, 1864 Weldon R.R.
Memo, John S. Tilton, 31 Bank st., New York



Tuesday, June 28, 1864

The rain of yesterday has cleared the atmosphere. This morning is the coolest we have had for weeks, a great blessing, as the heat has been so oppressive lately as to be almost unendurable. All quiet, the truce between the pickets is well kept. 2 ½ p.m. Have been sitting on the board since 10 a.m. We commenced the case of Lt. Col. Travis yesterday and have just finished the evidence. It is a tedious and thankless duty involving as it does the character and perhaps career for life of officers of high rank. There is a rumor that Gen. Warren is to be relived of the command of the 5th Corps. I hear the voice of a woman singing at the well outside. I know it must be that of a negress but it is sweet to me on account of the memories and associations of home it brings to my mind.


Wednesday, June 29, 1864

Again on the board at H.Q. 2 p.m. Just finished the case of Col. Travis, new evidence having been addressed. Now on that of Maj. Crookston, 6th Ma. Arty. The great curse alcohol has been the primary cause of all the trouble in both cases. Memo, Lt. McLane Tilton to be Captain in the Marine Corps, June 10, 1864.


Thursday, June 30, 1864

Attended board of examination at Corps H.Q. Finished case of Maj. Crookston and adjourned.


Friday, July 1, 1864

All quiet. Petersburg was bombarded last night apparently. The bells rang and there was great commotion in the town. Very hot day.


Saturday, July 2, 1864

Very warm. Began to make an abates in front of my line yesterday p.m. Worked on it all day today. This is the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg last year in which I took part as commander of 1st Brig., 1st Div. The regiments then composing the brigade however are now comprised in the 3rd Brig., Gen. Bartlett. The truce between the pickets is maintained. I stood on our parapet yesterday 125 yards from the enemy’s skirmishers but they only stared at me. It was a savage fight at Gettysburg and I saved my brigade from capture after the 3rd Corps broke, but I never got proper credit for my services there. There is more or less artillery firing every day on our right in front of 9th and 18th Corps.


Sunday, July 3, 1864

All quiet. Called upon Gen. Griffon and the 22nd. Col. Sweitzer with the 62nd Pa. left for home suddenly. Received sanitary stores which I distributed to the regiments. Canned meats and tomatoes and tobacco to the men, also pickles, Sauer kraut and dried apples and the goodies (one half lbs) to the officers.


Monday, July 4, 1864

This, the 88th anniversary of our nation’s birthday, opened more quietly than any other. Instead of the usual firing of muskets and cannon which would be appropriate to the occasion, all was quiet as if there was no such thing as war known among men. But this did not last long, of course, and now as I hear the great guns at their daily work and the bands practicing I almost imagine myself at the morning concert on the Common in Boston. There cunning musicians are wont to bring in the strange aid of the “dogs of war” to give emphasis to their performances. Some men will feel a disappointment today to think such an anniversary should pass and leave the City of Richmond in the hands of the rebels. Such men must shoulder the musket and come to the war themselves if they expect the rebellion to be crushed at once. There are very few things in which we are superior to the rebels in a military sense, one of these is numbers, but if we do not avail of our superior numbers what use is the superiority? In the Southern Army we find all its able white population, while the better classes of the North have furnished no more than the officers to us. These people have pursued their usual avocations intent only upon the acquisition of wealth. To be sure a great battle has caused them to pause and manifest some interest in their fellow citizens who are sacrificing everything for the cause of liberty. They have paid their money for taxes and sanitary affairs, and then complacently folded their hands in the consciousness of having performed their duty. When Government has called for men they have sent money. “If thy brother ask for bread will ye give him a stone?” Congress has now passed a new tax bill to raise money to buy men but it has also done what is of far more importance, repealed the clause allowing a commutation of the draft. We are now likely to get men when a draft is made and until we do it is the greatest folly to talk of whipping the South. Their cause, though a selfish one, is strong enough to bring out every man and boy. Then shall we who are fighting for pure principle, the holy cause of free institutions of liberty to all nations – shall we presume to spare our valuable blood, I say, in such a conflict when they are willing to shed their last drop for slavery? God forbid! At night our pioneers broke ground for a new redoubt in front of my left by order of General Warren.


Tuesday, July 5, 1864

Quiet. At night the pioneers worked on the ditch of the new redoubt.


Wednesday, July 6, 1864

Quiet through the day. At night put 300 men at work on the redoubt, having read the profile and dimensions from Major Roebling of Gen. Warren’s staff.


Thursday, July 7, 1864

During the night General Ayers commenced a new line of works from 4th to 1st Div. which will straighten the front position of our corps, relieving so many troops that we must push to the left to give them room in the entrenchments. Last night we did good work on the new battery undiscovered by the enemy. We raised the parapet two feet from the base or side. The profile of the works is as follows.11a.m. The enemy are not disposed to leave Ayers quiet in his new lines. A desultory artillery fire has been exchanged between them all the morning. At dark put 300 men to work on the redoubt, also moved the brigade to the left so that my left rests on the Plank or Jerusalem Road. It did not quite reach the road before so Gen. Crawford put the 98th Pa. there. It was this regiment that I relived. Gen. Bartlett moved down from the right so far that I took one of my regiments (187th Pa.) out of the trenches and sent it to the rear. It is new and needs drill and discipline. A busy day.


Friday, July 8, 1864

The working party did well last night. The men are busy in their new quarters, being occupied in raising them. Shelter tents over frame work bunks behind the parapet. At night Gen. Bartlett sent 200 men to help on the redoubt, cut timber for the parapet in the p.m. Gen. Griffon called just in time to hear a few shells hum over my headquarters. A shindig broke out on Burnside’s line where musketry fire was freely used and the fire ran along to our front. It did not last long. I guess it was a plan of the rebels to draw fire from Burnside’s new batteries, if so it succeeded.


Saturday, July 9, 1864

A very beautiful and quiet morning. It seems like a Sabbath day at home. While visiting our works the enemy threw two shells into our lines. They are evidently suspicious that something is going on in our front, so they are not disposed to allow our men so much freedom as heretofore. Quite a large progress was made on the redoubt last night and it cannot be concealed much longer. Today a party is cutting timber for revetments while the pioneers are at work getting out posts for it. I hear the depot in Petersburg was burned last night. Weather cool with a good breeze, cool for this place I mean. Water very bad. At night put 400 men at work in the redoubt. The enemy shelled them a little during the night and we had several casualties. Troops were passing all night, supposed to be the 6th and a Div. of 2nd Corps on their way to Penn. as the people in the North are in a great fright thinking the whole rebel army is after them to kill, steal, burn and destroy. I see no proof that there is any great body in the valley. If there is, it is a desperate move of Lee’s to get Grant off his (Lee’s) communications.


Sunday, July 10, 1864

Good progress was made on the works last night, so far as digging is concerned, that done on the revetment however was very shabby and unskillful. The best revetment for hastily erected field work, when made of logs, is formed by piling the logs (all of one length) one upon another, letting them rest against posts sunk strongly in the ground. The earth from the ditch outside may be thrown against them to form the parapet. The interior slope should have a ----------. This has been a quiet and pleasant day. The enemy have sent over a few shells, but did us no injury.


Monday, July 11, 1864

The men worked well last night, and Lt. Davenport patched up the revetment so that it looks very well. He sunk posts at the new part at an angle of one in six. Against these the logs will be placed on the inside as the parapet rises. I expect this will make the best and most slightly work of the three different methods tried on this redoubt. My first idea was to pile heavy logs one upon another as the parapet arose, giving the whole a slight inclination to make the proper slope and depending upon the weight or inertia of the timber so held the logs in place, and with proper care I think this the easiest and most practical manner; but those who endeavored to carry out my idea did not understand or neglected their duty. They placed timber of different lengths and sizes on the same section of the work, thus making it unsteady and uneven. I was much pleased on viewing the work this morning with the result of last night’s labor. Had 50 men at work during the day as usual. I have just come from the front and find they have cut more logs than any previous party. The rebs flung a few shells tonight. Senator Wilson is said to have passed Div. H.Q. this p.m.


Tuesday, July 12, 1864

Had 400 men at work at night on the redoubt.


Wednesday, July 13, 1864

Today at 8 a.m. detailed 300 men to work by daylight, 200 in the ditch and 100 in the body of the work clearing away trees and getting out timber for traverses. They were relived at 4 p.m. by a detachment from 3rd Brigade. The enemy objected to our working and shelled us more or less during the day. Lost 2 killed and 2 wounded. Tonight I detail only 100 of my own men. They will build traverses and finish the revetment while the men from 3rd Brigade work on the parapet. The troops from 6th Corps met the rebels under Early at Monocasey and were driven toward Baltimore. It appears the rebels have 25,000 men besides cavalry, at last account they were on their way back. The 2nd Corps have not left the vicinity.


Thursday, July 14, 1864

6 a.m. Sent 300 men into the trenches. The rebels shelled us pretty severely during the forenoon. 6 men wounded. News came last night that Early’s advance guard was within five miles of Washington. We receive a few deserters every night. At night received 300 men from Bartlett, built traverses and shoveled from the exterior to the interior slope. Filled sand bags. Three rockets were thrown up as a signal to rebels that deserters would be well treated, this at request of deserters in our hands who had agreed to use such a signal in case they liked the Yankees. The rebels had relived their pickets with new troops who shouted “That’s played out!”


Friday, July 15, 1864

At 8 a.m. put 300 of my men into the ditch and hope to finish the work that is to be done before opening the -------- today. At 8 p.m. the men did a good days work, bringing to the work more than a hundred poles or small logs which I had cut yesterday, but could not get out of the woods on account of the shells, besides digging in the trenches. I have just relived them and sent in 300 fresh men who will lay sand bags upon the top of the revetment to protect the logs (which would do great damage if knocked off the crest by solid shot) and also are instructed to build a temporary ---------. There are no guns nor any embraceors indeed in the work yet, while the height of the interior slope is six feet. As it is utterly impracticable to deliver musketry fire without it and as I am responsible for the position I am determined to place it in a condition in which I can defend it, hence the bauqette.


Saturday, July 16, 1864

At 9 a.m. men were sent into the trenches to finish the parapet of the redoubt. For two days the men have been busy erecting bomb proofs on their own volition. At 7 p.m. set 100 fresh men at work to build a breastwork connecting the left of the redoubt with our main line of entrenchments.


Sunday, July 17, 1864

A very pleasant day. I called upon Gen. Griffon and got a strong hint that my camp was not properly policed. When I left the house (headquarters) I saw a man defecating in the garden, to which I called the attention of his Gen. I call the retort courteous. The party worked well last night and ended what we have to do on the redoubt. The engineers commenced the embrasures and magazines last night. At night received orders to make disposition to receive an attack from the enemy. I placed the 121st, 150th, 149th in the new redoubt and brought the 187th from the rear as a reserve. I could not sleep, having no dependence on the officers of this brigade as regards alertness. At 3 a.m. (on the 18th) I went to the front lines with Lieut.’s Walter and Funk, aroused the officers (whom I found lying down but awake and with arms in their hands) and had the men stand at arms. These old soldiers have had so many false alarms that it is difficult to get them up unless they are sure the enemy is upon them. After waiting two hours I returned to my tent believing the time for an attack passed. It was quiet this morning for an assault, so foggy that a man could not be seen at 100 yards or less. Two deserters came in; one of whom only had heard anything about the projected charge of the rebels. They heard it was to have been made last night by Law’s Brigade. He said further that their troops would not assault breastworks any more. Says they have plenty to eat. Day quiet. At night set 150 men at work throwing up more earth at request of Maj. Doebling.


Tuesday, July 19, 1864

Some movements of the enemy kept us on the ----- again last night and this morning under arms at dawn, but nothing came of it. I waked in the night hearing rain pattering on my tent, this morning it continues. It is very welcome and makes all merry for it is a long time since we have had any, meanwhile the whole land has become parched. The men have suffered for want of good water to drink. What they do get having been from wells of their own sunk in the swamp. 12 M The rain still comes down in old fashioned showers. A “covered way” leading from the rear, by my H.Q., to my lines in the front has been this day begun by the engineers. It is designed to bring up supplies of ammunition and subsistence under cover. It will also form a passageway for troops to the front. Heretofore when any shelling has been going on at the front myself and staff have had to go through it to get to the command. In future we can take the “underground railroad”.


Wednesday, July 20, 1864

An order has come for all troops whose time expires before 25th Aug. to be sent to Washington. There are none in this Brigade but it will relieve some of my old friends. The 18th Mass. goes today. The 19th, 20th, 21st will also go. Weather cloudy and cool. The zig zag continues to be worked upon by 2nd Corps. Gen. Miles (formerly 1st. Lt. in my Regt.) called on me. He commands a brigade in 2nd Corps. Dug a well and found good water at a depth of 20 feet. Some showers during the day.


Thursday, July 21, 1864

Clear. Inspected camps and gave commandments. Men are dirty animals and if not watched will defile their surrounding grounds. It is only by constant watching and care that cleanliness is kept. I find my Brigade very neglectful in not informing me of the neglect of duty in this respect on the part of regimental commanders. Finding my repeated orders about police disregarded (in a great measure) I have warned my subordinates for the last time and shall bring charges against the next offender. The engineers have cut embrasures in my work for field pieces on the left or west face of the redoubt. Had ninety men at work revetting the traverses with sand bags and also the end of the parapet on the right; also did some work on the ditch and cut the scarp to a perpendicular. This last is against scientific theory, but the parapet will not break it down, I think, as the earth has never before been disturbed apparently. It is therefore very rigid. There is no foothold now for an assailant who would climb the parapet. 6p.m. 200 men detailed for work tonight. Finished up the well, putting a frame and platform over its mouth, also an old fashioned scoop with pole and bucket complete. The water is quite a break after the stinking stuff we have been using.


Friday, July 22, 1864

The 200 men last night worked on the redoubt, cutting out more embrasures. This morning we have a work pierced for eighteen guns, a most formidable one it will be too. The engineers have been at work on the magazines but are very dilatory. The 2nd Corps are at work again today on the covered way. I hear that the 6th Corps is landing today at City Point after their visit to protected Washington. The engineers at work on the redoubts, erecting traverses between every four guns on the north face. They are made of gabions.


Saturday, July 23, 1864

The engineers in cutting the embrasures threw the earth from them into the ditch instead of upon the ------. I shall have to throw it out again. Will make a glacis if permitted. Gen. Griffon was taken sick and went home on the 21st, leaving Bartlett in command of the Division. This the birthday of my truly “better half”. If the other half were as good, my life would have been more honorable and useful. A dispatch from H.Q. of the army says Sherman has whipped Johnson at Atlanta.


Sunday, July 24, 1864

The work continues. The 2nd Corps are finishing the covered way and extending it to the redoubt. Capt. Harwood (engineer) is engaged on the latter making traverses and magazines. I furnished him 300 men last night and 400 this A.M. He has raised the parapet a little on the west face and promises to shovel the earth out of the ditch I once finished so nicely, and form it into a glacis, but he doesn’t look upon the work as one of a defensive character, and therefore deemed the ditch of no importance. I do, at least until the guns are in and the 2nd parallel is established.


Monday, July 25, 1864

It began to rain last evening and continued heavily until after daylight today. I was ordered to report 400 men for fatigue on “Maj. Roeblings work”, (the redan) at 4 a.m. They were there but not finding the engineer in charge Capt. Harwood, were sent to get breakfast, assembling again at 7 ½ a.m. and yet finding no officer they were set at work doing what appeared to be necessary. The night and morning were very cold for the season, reminding me of storms at the seashore in hot weather.


Tuesday, July 26, 1864

Called on Gen. Warren. Got permission to throw the earth out of my ditch and form a glacis with it. Set my pioneers at it; the engineers are laying down platforms for the guns. The small redan on my right is to be occupied by a light battery of four guns to protect the right flank of the large work. Day pleasant and warm again. Hired a colored boy named “Jack” at $12 a month. Furnished 200 men to work on the redan under Capt. Harwood. Finished the ditch.


Wednesday, July 27, 1864

Heavy firing was heard at the right last night and this morning, also the night of 25th. Butler is doing something. Hear the 2nd Corps is going to Weldon, I hope they will continue on to Wilmington. Wright had a battle with the rebels on the S on the 18th inst. The rebs claim a victory. 10 a.m. A dispatch from H.Q. announces that Gen. Hancock crossed the James and attacked the enemy at 6:30 a.m. He took 4 guns and several prisoners. 1:15 p.m. Rebel infantry are reported to be in front of our cavalry pickets at our left and rear, either awaiting a fancied movement on our part or preparing for an attack on our rear. Furnished 300 men to work on the covered way today.


Thursday, July 28, 1864

Hear nothing further from Hancock or the enemy on our left rear. Called on Gen. Warren and obtained permission to erect a caponniere on the right of the ditch of the redan. Set the pioneers preparing timber for the stockade. At night set others digging to square the end of the ditch. Battery B 1st N.Y. artillery, Capt. ------------ came to the front, being the first wheels through the covered way. Two of the pieces (light 12lbs) were placed on the left front of the great and two on the left front of the little radon. The latter sweep the right face of the large work. Have felt poorly for two or three days, having slight touches of neuralgia in my neck, such as I had last August and a good deal of headache.


Friday, July 29, 1864

North embrasure cut 6.6”Gabions 2ft each 4.0”In the p.m. I was requested by Gen. Bartlett to make an ------aulment for one gun on the left of the great redan to get a flank fire on the lines of entrenchments lately held by the 2nd brigade on our left of the Jerusalem Road, thus.The 2nd brigade was withdrawn last night except the 32nd Mass. who have entrenched themselves on the east side of the road nearly at right angles with my left. My pioneers finished the caponniere today and a nice piece of work it is. It envelopes 176 feet of ditch on the right face. Tonight they will work on the 1st gun epaulment and have 100 men to help them. 10 p.m. Sent for by General Bartlett who informed me that Grant would open on the enemy at 3 ½ a.m. tomorrow and gave me instructions. Burnside is to first spring his mine, then assault the entrenchments supported by 2nd Corps. The 5th is to engage the attention of the enemy in its front.


Saturday, July 30, 1864

Called my regimental commanders together last night to give them instructions. It kept me up until 1 ¼ a.m. today when I turned in and slept until 2 ½ a.m. when I was called to breakfast. From 3 ½ to 4 ½ a.m. we anxiously awaited the explosion of the mine to open our guns. In the great redan were 6 guns from 4th N.Y. artillery. They were 4 ½ or 32lbs. Battery E 5th artillery 12lbs, Lieut. Carroll. In the little redan was a battery of 1st N.Y. 12lbs. At 4 ½ a.m. all these guns opened on the enemy assisted by musketry. This was continued until 12 M to engage the enemy’s attention while Burnside on our right attacked them. But they took no notice of us whatever, and as the infantry and pickets were kept down by our fire it was a one sided game all day. Our artillery men just put in the shot wherever they could see an opening. Trained a gun on the rebel pickets and gave them several shots, but could not start them. They appear to have bomb proofs. I then sent word that if they would throw down their arms and come in they should be considered as prisoners of war. The day was excessively hot. Burnside charged and took the enemy’s works and 2,000 prisoners. The mine buried 14 guns and many men. In the p.m. the rebels regained the position, driving back the niggers who were left in charge, and taking two or three regiments of white men. This was very disgraceful as we had been a month getting ready for this day. The mine had been sprung, the rebel line occupied and rendered untenable, and yet with a Corps or two in reserve this important position was left in charge of niggers who ran like sheep on the approach of the rebels. Our brigade had no casualties.


Sunday, July 31, 1864

Another very hot day. I have men at work making a new barquette in the great redan. There is a fear that the rebels will attack us in the left and rear. The big guns were taken out of the work last night because they did our troops in the 10th Corps injury yesterday so it is said, but the mortar batteries being also disarmed today I begin to think we shall not continue the siege. At night all the field pieces were taken from the great redan, and two 12lbs brass guns sent in. This looks very queer. I don’t know whether we are strengthening our left or the army is leaving the front of Petersburg. The large guns and mortars have been sent to depot on the Appomattox. Much communication was had by flag of truce to get our wounded off the field in Burnsides front but it is apparently very difficult to agree. The niggers report that their officers ran away yesterday when the rebels advanced to drive them back after our troops had taken the hill. It seems that the niggers had no caps on their guns. This is right on a charge; but then caps should have been put on to resist an attack if it should come afterwards. They also say the rebels advanced upon them at trail arms as though they were coming in to give themselves up, and therefore much surprised the Corps de Afrique by firing. What fools and imbeciles.


Monday, August 1, 1864

There was a cessation of hostilities this morning until 9 a.m. for the purpose of burying the dead. It is said we had 300 killed and 1,000 wounded on the 30th. The more I learn of that days operations the more I am disgusted with the imbecility of those who were in command. It now appears that the rebels had only three divisions on this side of the Appomattox, the diversion made by Hancock towards Deep Bottom on the James River having attracted most of the rebel army that way. And yet after we had severed the enemy’s line of entrenchments by mining a prominent field work and charging across the ruin after the explosion and taking more than 1,000 prisoners, after all this and having a whole Corps in support Gen. Burnside most unaccountably takes no advantage of the enemy but pushes forward a line of his worst troops to hold the position and then seems to wait until the rebels concentrated a sufficient force to drive two niggers away and to wrest from us all we had gained. A most shameful ending of a day gloriously begun! I had thought the days of such weak exhibitions of Generals had passed, but no – it would seem we are never to get soldiers in place of the politicians who hold high rank in the army. Because Burnside is a “nigger man” he is in high favor with the powers that be; but soldiers know him to be a humbug and coward. This is not the first time he has lost us a victory during this campaign and his “slaughter of the innocent” at Fredericksburg on 3rd Dec. 1862 should make his name always execrated. An effort will now be made probably to have him put where he can at least do no more harm. There is no further sign of any movement of the army, and I now believe it will remain in this vicinity. We have a battery of Napoleon guns in the redan. Battery B, 1st U.S. artillery, Capt. Stewart. Also a battery of similar guns in the little redan. Last night Davenport finished the ------alment at the left for the single gun, also the bauquette around the work. This is another hot day. I wish to take the rebel pickets in my front prisoners, and have been trying to get leave to do it. At night set 300 men at work making a trench from the great redan to little redan to be occupied by infantry.


Tuesday, August 2, 1864

At 11 a.m. put on 200 men to sink wells in the redan in order to countermine the rebels who are supposed by some to be undermining the great work. My own opinion is that it is improbable that they are doing anything of the kind; but many persons think they have heard the rebs picking under the parapet. Gen. Warren has heard this story and has ordered me to sink the wells, so I have strong parties working on them at double quick as we have no time to lose if it be a fact that our foes are trying to blow us up. Am now getting windlasses, rope and buckets ready to raise the earth quickly. There will be two wells in the ditch 15 feet deep, and one in the body of the work 21 feet deep. At night by order of Gen. Bartlett I took my men off, and the engineer Corps took up the work.


Wednesday, August 3, 1864

The wells or shafts have been carried down some fifteen feet, but the best listeners cannot hear any rebels performing the role of moles. I find only one man this morning who adheres to the idea that the fort is being mined. He is quite confident they are running several galleries under us, one of them in a new place under the parapet of the left front or face. At 11 a.m. Major Jones with 200 men was set at work to make the main covered way (in rear of, and parallel to the line of works) defensible by making a burm two feet wide and leveling the parapet to a height of 4” 3”, so that musketry fire can be delivered over it. In case of accident at the front line I intend to fall back to the trench or covered way. Last night Gen. Bartlett suggested that I should connect the two covered ways by a trench for infantry which would give me a position left oblique from my present one on the next crest to the rear, but I find today that this was done last night by order of Gen. Warren. I hear a rumor that Early has taken possession of Fort Lyom near Alexandria Virginia. 10 p.m. Two deserters from the Florida brigade came in tonight, and report the loss of the rebels on 30th July at 800 men killed. They know of no mining operations in our front. Very hot weather.


Thursday, August 4, 1864

Set 200 men digging the trench between the two redans. Hot day and camp very quiet, not a gun was heard. At night two deserters came in and confirmed former reports of no mining in our front. They give a gloomy account of affairs on their side. All able bodied men are already in the army. They are on short allowance and their families suffering at home. If a “peace party” man is not elected President the Southern soldiers are determined to give up the contest. Their leaders may have something to say on that point, however. They also give later accounts from Georgia than we have. Atlanta is daily bombarded. Our cavalry have cut the R.R. leading to Macon. This leaves the town isolated. One of the deserters is a Georgian and says the heat here lately has been as great as at home.


Friday, August 5, 1864

A very quiet hot day. It would seem we are “drifting” as there appears to be no ------- in the siege. Are we waiting for Sherman, or for the rebels to exhaust themselves? The rebels shelled the Maryland brigade which has come in in our rear as a reserve.


Saturday, August 6, 1864

The rebels again shelled the Maryland brigade who are entrenching; the shells came in all around us. Seven rebels came in last night. I spent the morning looking at the rebels and their works in front. They have six batteries as laid down above. An unsuccessful attempt was made by Beauregard last night to blow up one of our forts on the 18th Corps line. The mine was placed outside the work however and when sprung did no injury. The rebels charged without knowing of the failure of their mine and got awfully punished. Gen. Warren continues his countermining operations in our front.


Sunday, August 7, 1864

Called upon Gen. Warren. Saw Gen. Barnes report of the battle of Gettysburg on 2nd July 1863, better late than never. It is a good report. Heard that the recommendation for my promotion had reached Grant. 4:05 p.m. A brisk artillery fire upon the right, apparently in front of 18th Corps.

              Killed     Wounded      Missing
Officers     6           33                 6
Men        139         873             250
              145         906             256
Total: 1,307 in 1st Brig., 1st Div., 5th Corps from May 4 to July 30, 1864.


Monday, August 8, 1864

Above is a memo of casualties in the brigade I now command from beginning of this campaign until 30th July. I was turned out at 3:45 a.m. today by a report from the picket officer that the enemy was massing in our front. I sent Lieutenant’s Walters and Funk to enquire into the matter. They found no enemy outside of the rebel works, although there was considerable movement inside. Very hot day. 22nd Mass. was relived from the trenches and sent to City Point to guard depot.


Tuesday, August 9, 1864

Quiet morning, very hot. During the middle part some thunder and light rain. Just before that heard a great explosion at the right. Have since heard that a load of ammunition exploded there, killed 50 to 75 men.


Wednesday, August 10, 1864

A thunder storm last night cleared the atmosphere. I took advantage of the coolness of today to call out the 187th Pa. for battalion drill. It is a new regiment and has never drilled, but the time out it has lately spent in reserve might have been improved for this purpose. I have left the drills lately to the Lt. Col. to see what he would make of the regiment. I found him very ignorant of the words of command even, but the regiment did very well considering the circumstances. I shall put the Lt. Col. and several of his officers before a board of examination. Many appointments in new regiments are made with more regard to expediency than efficiency. Such men must be weeded out to give efficiency to any command in the field. I hear today that all the regiments now in this Corps who formerly belonged to the first Corps are to be consolidated into a new Div. By this means my brigade will be consolidated into a new Div. By this means my brigade will be broken up or rather five regiments will go into the new Div., leaving only the 187th Pa. In reflecting upon this it has occurred to me to record the various regiments which I have had the honor to command.

1. The old first brigade.
22nd Mass.    118th Pa.
18th Mass.     1st Mich.

2. The 2d brigade, Col. Sweitzer
9th Mass.      4th Mich.
32nd Mass.  62nd Pa.
All these regiments have been under my command in different actions this campaign although I did not command the brigade.

3. The present 1st brigade
121st Pa.     149th Pa.
142nd Pa.    150th Pa.
143rd Pa.     187th Pa.
In addition to these I have had under my charge in presence of the enemy detachments of 13th N.Y. and 2nd Maine of the “old first.”

Thursday, August 11, 1864
Made my report of the part taken by 22nd Mass., embracing some operations of Sweitzers brigade, in the campaign from May 4th to June 18th. It filled 27 pages of foolscap.

Friday, August 12, 1864
Very hot. Wrote to Holman, sending my pay vouchers for July to Dave and to Lizzie.

Saturday, August 13, 1864
Last night the enemy amused himself by shelling our camps in dead of night. This morning there is quite a fight going on at our right, apparently near the Appomattox. The 2nd Corps went across the James.

Sunday, August 14, 1864
A pleasant morning. All is quiet except the singing of birds. Read orders to be ready to move. Evening a heavy thunder shower. 11 p.m. ordered to assemble at Div. H.Q. when relived by 9th Corps.

Monday, August 15, 1864
The rain lasted all night and this morning is showering. At 4 ½ a.m. were relieved by Griffons brigade of 9th Corps (2nd Brig., 2nd Div.). Our brigade was placed in the edge of a wood near Div. H.Q. The men have been in the trenches fifty five days. It must seem very sad to them to come out and march in column again after being so long under restraint. Probably no soldiers ever did harder duty in a siege. Rain through the day.

Tuesday, August 16, 1864
The brigade went into bivouac in columns of regiments in line. I remain in my old headquarters.

Wednesday, August 17, 1864
Turned out the brigade in readiness to march this morning at 3 a.m. At 7 a.m. after waiting four hours in suspense an order came suspending the movement. Our projected march probably had some relation to the operations of the 2nd Corps who are advancing towards Richmond on the north bank of the James River but do not seem to make very good progress. Policed headquarters and got up tents again. A thunder storm in the p.m. 7 p.m. received orders to march at 4 a.m. tomorrow.

Thursday, August 18, 1864
At 5 a.m. took up the line of march in the following order (this brigade leading the Corps) 143rd, 121st, 142nd, 150th, 187th, 149th, 277th, 119th, 184th, 136th, 519th, 288th. We take no baggage, extra rations or ammunition or forage, but half our ambulances. Oh, the glorious uncertainty of a soldiers life. No one knows our objective point, or anything else, more than that we are on an expedition, and that a fighting one. At about 10 a.m. came within ¾ mile of Petersburg and Weldon R.R. having traveled the Jerusalem Turnpike to -------- and then turned to the right. Came on to the Weldon R.R. at about 10 a.m. I was ordered to deploy the regiments as skirmishers and form the rest of my brigade in two lines of battle with their left resting on the cross road. The 2nd brigade was formed in similar manner on the left of the road while the 3rd brigade formed a thin line in support of all. A small squad of cavalry went in advance. The rebels gave way very rapidly to my line of skirmishers so we gained the R.R. without much difficulty. There we formed a line facing to the west consisting of 187th and 149th regiments, 150th in advance as skirmishers and another at right oblique to it across the R.R. We then turned to tear up the track and sleepers and prepared them for burning. The 2nd Div meanwhile turned to the right on the Turnpike road leading to Petersburg and formed line of battle. At about 12 noon they became engaged with the enemy skirmishers, more or less artillery being used until 1 ½ p.m. when the 4th Div. was called to form on the right and to the right of the R.R. More or less fighting all the p.m. At one time Gen. Ayers left was driven in and there was some confusion. At night I formed line faced to the west, my left connected with 3rd brigade, my right resting on the pike which runs parallel with the R.R.

Friday, August 19, 1864
Rain. Rested quietly in line until p.m. when the enemy attacked Gen. Ayers, who was formed across the road to Petersburg and took many of his men prisoners, including Gen. Joseph Hayes. We did not get in action, I let Gen. Ayers have the 187th and 143rd to strengthen part of his line. Remained on this ground all night.

Saturday, August 20, 1864
Were relived at noon and came back into the entrenchments made on Thursday. Rain, rain, rain. The enemy reported trying to get on our left flank. We connect by half of 9th Corps with our old works in front of Petersburg.

Sunday, August 21, 1864
At 4 a.m. the enemy attacked our lines in Cutler’s front. Again at 6 ½ a.m. Today is foggy and the ground very soft after so much rain, precluding the use of artillery. Therefore no general attack from the enemy may be expected. At 9 a.m. it cleared off and the rebel pickets in front of Cutler, whose line is in our front and overlapped in the rear by our line. They came in boldly and attempted to turn Cutler’s left, not seeing us in the rear. We immediately delivered a flank fire which took all the fight out of them, when they threw down their arms and came in. We got several hundred prisoners and four or five colors. My own brigade was in the rear, too far to secure many prisoners, although its fire stopped those who were trying to outflank Cutler. Towards noon I was ordered in a great hurry with three regiments to the left of the 2nd brigade (Col. Gregory). I got into position and entrenched near the R.R. At night I was ordered by Gen. Griffon to bring up my other three regiments and form them across the R.R. and entrench faced to the South. It was 10 p.m. before they got under much cover and daylight before their works were finished. Maj. Parsons and Davenport of my staff had a row during the night.

Monday, August 22, 1864
In the p.m. I was ordered to proceed to City Point and join my regiment. Proceeded as far as my commissary’s Capt. Barth and stayed with him all night.

Tuesday, August 23, 1864
Sent to Lt. Vorhies for spring wagon in which I proceeded to join my regiment at City Point.

Wednesday, August 24, 1864
With Dr. Stearns I visited the general hospitals and other points of interest in the vicinity.

Sunday, August 28, 1864
Sherwin called and stayed all night. The regiment looks very well, except the clothing. We shall draw new early next month. Received notice from war department that our time will be out Oct. 8.

Tuesday, August 30, 1864
Wrote to Mr. Wilson.

Friday, September 23, 1864
Have been encamped at City Point Va. guarding the repair shop. Nothing of particular interest has occurred in a military view. We had two alarms and got under arms to repel a threatened attack of cavalry when the enemy took our drove of cattle at Gaggins Point. 3rd battery Capt. Martin went home Sept. 5th. Atlanta was taken by Shermin Sep. 1. Gen. Sheridan whipped Early at Winchester Sep. 19th and 20th. A great victory and one that will have a vast influence on our future movements. I think Lee must evacuate Petersburg to protect Richmond. Sept. 20th received a letter from the Secretary of War appointing me Brig. General U.S. Vols. by brevet. Gen. Hancock who is in our old lines on Jerusalem Road sent out and took the enemy’s picket line which I tried so hard to get permission to take.

October 3, 1864
Embarked with the regiment on board St.Kem------ for Washington on our way home to be mustered out, the term of the regiments service (3 years) having expired. We left the army with 15 officers and 124 men.

October 4, 1864
Washington. Capt. J.F. Treadwell, write to for certificate of non indebtedness.

October 10, 1864
Arrived in Boston at 3 a.m. Had breakfast with the past members of 22nd Mass. at M.S. hotel at 8 a.m. At 11 a.m. the cadets, Col. Holmes, reported for escort duty and conducted us to Faneuil Hall. Our march through the city was a perfect triumph, the people being very enthusiastic in the reception. At Faneuil Hall Major Lincoln and Adjt. Gen. Schouler gave us welcome in the name of the City and State.


bottom of page