Woburn Weekly Budget - January 4, 1862
22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va
January 4, 1862
A week ago our regiment went out on picket duty, remaining there two days. The line of pickets is formed but a few miles from camp, and rations of bread were sent out to the soldiers on Saturday and Sunday night. When they left camp, they took rations of meat in their haversacks, but the bread was served out to them fresh. I went out with the bread wagon, and saw where the boys are posted in the face of danger. It will be time enough after we get back to tell how and where they are posted, but the rebels will have their hands full if they ever try to find out by observation how it is done. Picketing is very exciting, especially as it is the only really dangerous duty our soldiers have to do at present. Rebels are not often seen, but the steadiness of the sentries is not unfrequently tried by some harmless animal, who are not answering to the summons "halt!" even after the third challenge, is fired at, sometimes with fatal effect. It is a trying place for a young soldier to be placed in, and sentries run risks occaisonally of being shot by their comrades; but on the whole it is the very best school for them, as they learn to be cool,as well as vigilant. On the last picket, a soldier not fully posted on his duties, was approached in the darkness, when he challenged "Who goes there?" "Grand rounds." "Bedad now," said the alert sentinel, "look out the Corporal don't see yees!" This must be, a relation of the man, while the regiment was at Lynnfield saw a small party approaching his post in the night, and challenged them. "Grand rounds," replied the sargeant. "Devil take the grand rounds! I thought it was the third relief!" Sentinels are relieved every two hours, and there are three reliefs, so their endurances is not very severely taxed. There is a rumor here to the effect that the 22d will again be detailed for picket where they have been accustomed to go. Anything for an advance. While our men were out, a negro women came to them with her baby i nher arms. Both were brought into camp, and Col. Gove forwarded them to Washington, together with the negro Major Tilton bought in a short time ago.
One night this week a private in Co.D, while patroling his beat fell down, and his gun discharged, two fingers on his right hand were shot off.
When this regiment left home they were supplied with Enfield rifles. They were never considered as a very good arm, and efforts were made to have them changed for the Springfield rifle; the new guns have at last arrived, and six companies were furnished with them today. The remaining four companies will be supplied with them before long. The new rifle is a superior weapon, well finished, and what is of the most importance, a favorite arm with the men. The old rifles they never liked, and now they have got what they want, I suppose they will keep them in good order, and on occaison do good execution. Those furnished to Co. F have they Maynard primers attached.
New Year's day in camp was observed in about the same manner as Christmas. Very few pases were given to go out of camp, and the men generally enjoyed themselves as well as if they had been allowed to go away. The regiment was mustered in for pay the previous afternoon, and at the same time they went through the annual inspection. Of course teh ranks were full, and the regiment presented a fine appearance. On New Year's eve, about eleven o'clock, we were startled by the roar of cannon in several directions, but especially from McCall's division, and the impression prevailed to a considerable extent that an engagement was taking place. It afterwards turned out, howvever, that the noise was from New Year salutes fired from batteries around us. At midnight, Col. Gove was reminded that 1862 had begun, by a fine serenade from the regimental band. Some of teh men having an inkling of it sat up to hear it, and the entertainment amply repaid them for their vigilance. Next morning there were friendly greetings and wishes of happiness, such as we hear at home, but here they have had greater significance. A soldier greeting his comrade "I wish you a Happy New Year!" could not but feel there was a deeper meaning in the phrase than is usually attached to it. How many will there be in 1863 to repeat the greeting? We think of this at home, but here, where every man's life will soon be hazarded, the wish seems more like a blessing. Next New Year will be reached by some with sadness, and the thought that some of those who last Wednesday were in hopes of long life and happiness have gone down into the dark valley, wil lpain many a loving heart. The year 1862 opened with a cloud upon us all, but if our beloved country shall within the coming twelvemonth recover from the shock which shee recieved during the last, then indeed would the present prove a Happy New Year. Some of us may not live to see it, but of our duties are well done, it will be satisfaction to know that we bore a part, however humble, in the regeneration of a once happy land.
The work of improvement still goes on in our camp. The tents of teh privates are all fixed up in good shape, and now many of teh officers are building log houses. These little huts are very comfortable affairs, and compared with the canvas quarters are very nice. The men are busy in all directions, hewing logs and piling them up for the walls of the huts, and the woods for a long distance around us have been leveled to furnish material. Wood is plenty with us, and thelarge piles of it which are daily consumed here do not suggest to the visitor that it costs much.
2d Maine, Hall's Hill, Winter 1861
Between our camp and the 2d Maine regiment, there was a wooded interval about ten rods long, from which the wood and brush have been cleared away, and yesterday I noticed the Sharpshooters were preparing it for a parade ground. They do not drill with the regiment, and for this reason they have cleared up a parade ground of their own, and will drill there under their company officers.
We had a fire here last Thursday night. About midnight Liuets. Crane and Davis were awakened by a dense smoke in their tent, and discovered that it was on fire. The noise made by them in moving the tent furniture and endeavoring to smother the flames, awakened the occupants of neighboring quarters, who went to their assistance and the fire was extinguished. Their tent is warmed by an underground furnace, the heat from which near the smoke outlet set fire to some dry evergreen, which communicated the flame to the canvas. The fire burned a large hole in the wall of the tent, and Lieut. Crane's bed, and clothing of both officers were more or les injured. The lieutenants finished their night's sleep in the captain's tent, and next morning fixed up their own so tha now it is as good as new. "Damage trifling; no insurance."
Yesterday, Messrs Abel G. and Daniel G. Alexander, of Woburn, came into camp, and announced their intention of opening a saloon for taking ambrotypes and photographs. They have obtained permission from Col. Gove, and will next week open a room here. It is no unusual sight to see an artist's room in camp. They generally get one of those small portable huts which are made in Baltimore, and being put up in parts can be moved as readily as a tent. They are dry and warm, look neat, and are fast becoming popular as officers' quarters, etc. I hop Messrs. Alexander will find it to their advantage to stay seom time with us.
We had a snow storm last night, accompanied with rain and hail. This morning the ground ws just covered with a mantle of white, which made traveling slippery. During the day a little snow has fallen, and the weather has been extremely cold, reminding us all of our New England homes. Teh citizens of this district tell me they never have sleighing here, and althogh heavy storms are sometimes experienced, they never have snow on the ground long enough to make sleighing. We have had a very pleasant weather here for several weeks, the roads are in good condition, and we are anxious for the "right time" for a movement. I am on the lookout for an advance, and it will be a happy time for all of us when I can date a letter from some point south of here.
John Lord Parker