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 - June 19, 1862
Headquarters 22d Reg. Mass. Vols.
Gaines' Mills, Va
.June 19th, 1862
Last Wednesday night our boys had a glimpse at the moon in eclipse. The evening was a little cloudy, but the sky became clearer, and by 11 o'clock, the time when the eclipse was total, the sky was clear and a good view was obtained. The sight so unusual was witnessed by the majority of our division, soldiers turning out to see it with an alacrity only equalled by activity at ration call. There is a great sameness in camp life, and any thing unusual can not but fail to draw the attention of the soldiers.After supper, the soldiers gather in their company streets, chat, tell stories, discuss the war, with the probability of a great battle here, and the time when they shall be at home, or by singing to while away the minutes till taps. There are good singers in all the companies, and in several there are clubs of vocalists who practice singing for the amusement of themselves and comrades. In our own company we have a vocal club, who sing nearly every evening. Sergeant F. N. Scott, of Co. D, has composed a song which will probably become the regimental song, as the colonel express himself pleased with it, and it takes well with the men. Our club sings it and I am permitted to copy it for the benefit of our readers:
THREE CHEERS FOR THE OLD BAY STATE
Air. -- "Red, White and Blue"
Our flag in the sunlight is gleaming,
Its fold catch the whispering breeze,
The rays from its bright stars are beaming
O'er forests, o'er rivers, o'er seas.
And while to the breeze we fling it,
The banner so cherished, so great,
We swear no disgrace we will bring it,
Ture sons of the Old Bay State.
Three cheers for the Old Bay State,
Ever true to the Union and laws;
May her sons, of our own "Twenty-Second,"
Prove their birthright, and fight for the cause.
The patriot fire we inherit,
That warmed our ancestors of old,
And we feel that within us the spirit
Of Libery ne'er will grow cold.
To our country our whole love is given,
To treason our bitterest hate,
And we pary for the blessing of Heavan,
On the sons of the Old Bay State.
We will march till the home of the traitor
Is purged of the deep, damning stain,
Till the false light, disunion creator,
Is trodden to darkness again.
We will follow the leader we cherish,
To his guidance submitting or fate,
Till Liberty's battles we perish,
Or return to the Old Bay State.
Then hurrah for our glorious banner,
Ring out through the land the glad sound,
Till the cheer is one mighty hosanna,
Re-echo from earth's farthest bound.
And all nations shall know and believe it,
That the blessings our sires did create,
Fell to those who are proud to receive it,
True sons of the Old Bay State.
On Thursday of last week we got orders to break camp, take one day's rations and go down to the swamp for fatigue work. We got under way about 8 o'clock, and passing through Dr. Gaines inclosures, went across the meadow to the estate of Dr. Williams (the one where we picket at Kidd's Mill), where we built our city. It being still early, the regiment stripped for work and went down to the lowland where the 9th Mass. had began building a causeway. All that afternoon we toiled at the brush and timber, making a foundation for the corduroy, and at sundown had prepared a long strip of road for the top dressing of soil. Next morning we were at it again in good season, this time with shovels, and during the forenoon succeeded in effectually covering our work of the prevous afternoon. The work was very hard, as we had to shovel wet loam, and the day's experience rather exceeded any of our Yorktown expoits. The officers were anxious to get the work done, and so kept the men pretty steadily employed, though the weather was oppressively warm, and we think the forenoon's digging considerable. At noon we went home to dinner and after a hearty meal of soup, sought the shade of the adjoining woods in which to pass the "nooning". On this estate, I think, the best spring water to be found in this region. The water ripples out of the bank at the foot of a gigantic oak, and runs into two large hogsheads which are set in the ground in the center of a large opening, which is surrounded by oak trees whose overhanging branches completely shut out the sun's rays, making it a cool and refreshing retreat for tired soldiers. This must have been a glorious place when the old Doctor was here, and it is the best place we've been in yet: it is a good thing he skedaddled, for had he remained as some of the other doctors have, a guard would have been put on, and we kep ou in the sun. As it is, we enjoyed the cooling shade, until long past one, until in fact, we began to wonder why we were not set to work again when about two o'clock orders came to break camp and march. "Where?" that's the mystery; some said Mechanicsville, others White House, but no one knew certain only that we would go back to our place at Gaines' Mill. Back we went, passing through deserted camps, and found on arriving here that the rebels made a dash at White House, and the whole reserve had been put in motion o guard against any possible surprise at any of the weaker points of our line. We were ordered to unsling knapsacks pile them up in the streets and fall in in light order, which we did. While this was going on, other brigades of the division began to come in, and it soon became apparent that the danger was past. We expected, however, to have to go to Mechanicsville, but news came soon after that marching orders had been countermanded, and we could pitch camp, was very welcome. Accordingly we again settled down here.
Guard duty is now done in this regiment by company instead of by detail as formerly. We used to have a captain appointed as officer of the day, a liuetenant officer of the guard, a sergeant and two corporals, to post the reliefs, and a certain number of privates detailed from each company for guard. Now a whole company is detailed, the captain is officer of the day, the lieutenant commands the guard, the noncommisioned officers attend to the reliefs. It is considered, by the men, at least, an improvement on the old plan, for various reasons, and we hope guard duty will hereafter be done in this manner. Our company was on guard on Tuesday, and celebrated the glorious 17th of June in Virgina by walking around camp. We are in hopes we shall have a bigger celebration on he 4th of next month, and it is not improbable that we shall.
Seven of our companies were on picket on Monday, and during the night, a man named Luke Riley deserted from the 10th Georgia regiment and came within our lines. He says he belongs in New York, and was at work in Savanah, Georgia, when the rebellion broke out. In April, when conscription was resorted to in that State, he enlisted "voluntarily", because those who are drafted are looked upon with suspicion, and not treated so well as the volunteers. He says it was his only chance to get North, and ever since (he enlisted in April) he has been watching for a chance to desert. Being employed on the fortifications, he managed to seperate himslef from his comrades, and hide in the woods. Monday evening our folks shelled the rebels hotly, and they did not post pickets until after dark; Riley took his opportunity to come over, and he was sent into camp by our pickets. He says the Quartermaster department issue rations for 110,000 men, and coffee and salt are scarce, but the supply of flour and pork are ample, and that they are determined to fight for victory or death. He was taken to Gen. Porter, to whom he gave valuable information in regard to the situation of the rebel fortifications.
About ten o'clock Tuesday night orders came to get ready to march in two hours in light order, piling our knapsacks in the street. Some of our company, those who were on post had not turned in, but guard and all were to go. By midnight our brigade was moving on the road to Mechanicsville. The moon shone brightly, the air was cool, no dust to annoy us, and though we moved slowly, it was not an unpleasant march. We reached our destination at daylight, having gone a distance of four and a half miles. Mechanicsville previous to the occupation by Gen. Stoneman, some four weeks ago, was a place of considerable importance to the rebels. There are several dwellings here, and a number of large shops where gun carriages and army wagons were built for the rebel government. It is but five miles from Richmond, the steeples of its churches being in sight from a hill, near the principal depot. The New Jersey Brigade is encamped here, and it was at first intended for us to relieve them. We remained there all day, putting up tents temporarily, but most of us resting in the shade of the trees forming a beautiful oak grove in which the Jerseymen are encamped. It was the best camping place we have yet seen, and we could have stopped there for a while without injury to our feelings. We were tired when we got there, and went to sleep as soon as we got breakfast. The slaves from a neighboring far, whose mistress has gone off, brought in milk, string beans, hoe cakes, and strawberries; the milk sold for 25 cents a quart - at the old camp it could be bought for 40 - which was paying a pretty good profit, considering that we bought it first hand. The newsboys were plenty, and for a dime we bought New York and Philadelphia papers of Monday, the 16th, -- we pay 15 cents in camp. The other day a rebel newsboy, with Richmond papers, got outside their pickets, and came into our lines, wher he disposed of his whole lot of papers, and then started back. When stopped by our guard, he seemed surprised, and said he thought he was still in rebel lines. It was a good story, but we can't afford to let spies go back again when we get hold of them. During the afternoon all of our camp stuff came up in the wagons, but the drivers were ordered not to unload, and about four o'clock we started back for the old camp, and reached here about dark. The march back was not so pleasant as going out, though it was accomplished in less time. We picthed are camp for the fourth time at this place; indeed we believe we will never leave here for good until we go into Richmond.
The regiment is being spruced up considerable; all the men are furnished with a new suit, and we come out as bright as dollars. We are being drilled in guard duty, also, and we are looking forward to provost or garrison duty at no very distant day. The members of our company who are in the hospital are slowly recovering, and one of our members who has been home to Boston returned on Tuesday. The weather is warmer this week, though a shower last evening cooled the air so that this morning it is very pleasant.
John Lord Parker