22ndMass / USSC Boston Branch
"Here's a yellow sash for six feet of Virginia soil..."
Captain John F. Dunning, 22nd MVI, Co. D
Woburn Weekly Budget - February 17 1862
22d Reg. Mass. Volunteers
Hall's Hill, Va.
February 17, 1862
I have seen a great many descriptions of the muddy state of the Virginia roads, but think our friends at home can get but a faint idea of the reality. What the pen has failed to do, the pencil has accomplished, and the artist of Harper's Weekly in the number of that paper for Feb. 22, has a correct representation of the mud we have to encounter out here.
The Relief - Harper's Weekly February 22, 1862 - Alfred Waud
The picture of the "Relief" attracted the attention of our boys first. Not only is the mud as deep as there shown, on picket, but the quarter guard around our own camp has had to go through a bad a slough within a month, and the sharpshooters which are camped on our left wing on the southeastern slope of our hill, had as bad a street to travel in the camp which was represented there. We have had several showers this past week, and a heavy wind on Thursday and Friday helped dry up the mud very much. It began to look like good traveling, but Saturday dashed our hopes, for snow fell all day, and now we have snow enough for sleighing. At home we don't care much about the weather anyway, for if it rains we can still work, and travel is not seriously impeded by a storm, but here the case is different. We study the weather with as much attention as old farmers, but we are daily doomed to disappointment. It is some comfort to know that this can't last always.
On Friday, eight companies of the 3d, and two companies of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and teh 44th New York Regiment of Infantry passed through for a reconnoisance in the direction of Fairfax Court House. They went as far as Germantown and returned through Fairfax, but encountered no rebels. The enemy has fallen back towards Manassas, and we would have to go pretty near that stronghold if an engagement was desired. The left wing of our regiment, Cos. B, G, K, E, and H, went out on picket the same day. Six privates from our company went with them to fill up their number. Ten of our sharpshooters went out with the 44th N.Y.V. The boys went out in good spirits, hoping to have a chance to distinguish themselves, but the rebels are wary, and don't mean to show themselves unless there is a pretty good chance of success.
The good news we have heard from our forces, have had a good effect on the army here. The news from Burnside came to us on Wednesday, and the companies turned out and gave cheers. Saturday night we heard Bowling Green had been evacuated, and Fort Donelson taken. Again the cheers rung out, and all were pleased at the indication of success to our arms and loss to the rebels. We shall not long remain inactive if these glorious successes are to be followed up in the manner which has characterized the proceedings of the last week.
Fatigue parties from our brigade have been engaged for the past week in building a road to Washington, over which baggage wagons and artillery can be moved with safety. It is laid out as straight as the land will permit, and when completed will prove a convenient avenue for travel from this part of the army to teh capitol. Gen. Martindale told the boys on Tuesday, that he wanted them to work well and finsih it that week, so that we might move off Hall's Hill, but our generals will not be likely to talk of it much before we start, and the fact that we have just drawn a month's rations does not look like moving this week. The road is being well made for a Virginia road, though it would seem rough in New England. Brush is first laid down and then logs fifteen feet in length placed crosswise upon it. These are gain covered with brush, and dirt shoveled upon all, which will make, when settled, a very good road. There is but a short distance to be built, which will be completed in a day or two.
On Thursday the 5th Massachusetts battery came out from Washington and joined our division, being attached to Gen. Butterfield's brigade. This battery was recruited in New Bedford and Boston, and left Massachusetts on the 24th of December. They have been encamped in Washington since coming from home, but they have not drilled much. They are a fine looking body of men, and doubtless will fight well. The armament of the battery is now consinsting chielfy rifled Parrot guns, and all the equipment are of the best kind. Their side arms are the old fashioned artillery swords which look like overgrown bowie knives, being about two feet long and three inches wide, and will be a terrible weapon in the hands of a soldier.
Lieut. C.C. Conant. of Co. A, has been promoted to the captaincy of Co. I, via Capt. Paine, promoted, and a board of officers consisting of Lieut. Col. Griswold, Dr. Prince, Capt. Sampson, Lieuts. Field and Davis, meets tomorrow to examine applicants for appointment to the vacancy in Co. A. It is the wish of the colonel that teh commission should be given to the man who can pass the best examination, not confining the candidates to Co. A.
We have had another fire. A tent in Company I, took fire about noon on Monday, and was entirely consumed, much to the discomfort of the occupants who were taking dinner. The principal loss was the tent, though some of their clothing was burned, and there was some singed heads. The old expression "loss trifling: no insurance", completes the story.
Last Thursday an order was read in the regiment to the effect that 600 soldiers were wanted to volunteer as sailors to man the gunboats in the Mississippi, and commanders of companies were instructed to report how many men of their command were ready to go. A few volunteered from the Union Guard, but it is very doubtful if any will be allowed to go out of the regiment.
Our Quartermaster was badly bruised on Saturday by his horse falling upon him. He had mounted the animal and was about to start for Washington, when he reared and fell over backward with the Quartermaster underneath. No bones were broken, but the hurt was quite severe.
The popular Drum Major of the regiment, Marshall S. Pike, does not cease to write songs or to publish them because he is in the army, and the public cannot fail to hail with pleasure the music which he still pours forth. He published since coming here "Rocklawn Summer Wildwood", a very pretty song and quartette, written in honor of his residence in Westboro which is called "Rocklawn". When his "Star Troupe" sang in Woburn a year ago, it recieved an encore, which was well merited. "Off Again", a song and chorus counterpart to "Home Again". This is a fine piece and deserves to be as popular as the latter. - It is being sung considerably in the regiment, and cannot fail to be well recieved by the public. "We are the True Sons of Freedom" is a patriotic song dedicated " to the 22d Regt. Mass. Vols." It is a first rate song, and always takes well wherever it is sung.
I transcribe one of the verses.
"We are true sons of freedom,
We come hand in hand
To fling out our banners
Far over the land.
And while their stripes flutter
Or stars kiss the sky,
The foe we will conquer
Or bravely will die."
Capt. Thompson received a telegram on Friday containing the news of the death of his youngest brother Justin Thompspn. He resided in Malden, and on his way to Boston, while passing through Charlesstown, died in his sleigh. He was subject to heart complaint, and it was this disease which caused his death. He was 29 years of age, and leaves a wife and child.
Lieut. Crane returned to camp yesterday afternoon, laden with packages for teh boys. He has had a good time, and brings many good messages form our Woburn friends.
Private James O. Hovey, of the 3d Reg. Vermont Volunteers, called on us last week. His regiment is in Gen. Smith's Division, about three miles nortwest of us. Hardly a week goes by without our meeting some of our Woburn boys who are scattered through so many regiments in the grand army.
The weather today is very fine, and we would all like a sleighride, but we can afford to wait until the war is over. It is about time for dress parade, so I will close for one week.
John Lord Parker.