Woburn Weekly Budget - September 18, 1861
Lynnfield, Sept. 18, 1861
Another week has left us in nearly the same position in regards to numbers in which we were before my last, though our ranks are gradually swelling. As far as our duties are concerned, nothing unusual has occurred. Breakfast, drill, dinner, drill, supper, constitute the daily routine. Some of us however, have begun to taste the unpleasant necessities of war by standing guard, as we did, in the drenching rain of Wednesday last. Although we do not assume to have had any experience of the actual vicissitudes of a soldier's life, yet we doubt if we shall ever do guard duty in more disagreeable weather. An individual remarked within our hearing that "he should not like to have been in those tents". But we thought as we were walking our beat, that we should not refuse, when relived, to get there. However, we had made up our mind that this was not the worst of duties, and had no complain to make.
During the afternoon of the same day, some of the Zouaves, thinking probably that hey had been kept in about long enough, concluded not only to enjoy the freedom of the guarded field, but all of outdoors. Accordingly, they rushed past the guard, and before he could call the corporal had all gained the road. Such conduct could not pass unnoticed, and so the company was called together to ascertain who was absent. But when the order to "fall in", was given, the runaways had already got in as they went out, and on calling the roll every one was present and the miscreants escaped punishment.
Perhaps you would like to know how we weathered the storm. Some of the tents afforded quite good protection, whilst others being more worn (they have been used in State musters), or of poorer quality, did not give so desirable a shelter. Some being pitched on rising ground the water ran off, while the occupants of others might be seen digging trenches to drain the inside.
Last Friday evening, beaing clear and beautiful, some of the "boys" of the Union Guard deemed it a suitable time to try some of their funny pranks, and concluded to do so by emptying a tent of its inhabitants. "Clear 'em out" was the cry, and they who were not lying down were quickly in open air. It might seem but fair that those who had retired should escape this treatment; but no; every man must come out. But slumberers had one favor shown them; they were not obliged to walk out; they were carried out.
This ceremony of cleaning out being finished, another caper was in the wind. It was decided that somebody most ride, not exactly on a rail, but on a gun. Two of the leaders putting on army overcoats threw the capes over their heads, and this disguised seized on the unsuspecting victims of their joke, and passed him around, to the merriment of beholders. Such was the evening's recreation. Several foot balls afford the cheif amusement of the daytime, and sometimes are the cause of ludicrous scenes, pounding down the hats of visitors, as they occasionally do.
The camp now presents quite a lively picture, wearing the appearance of a thriving village. As you walk up and down the field, the names "Salem St.", "Haverhill St.," &c., meet the eye, and ove the entrance of the tents are seen the words "Everett House", "Soldier's Home" and the like.
Major Grswold has arrived and taken command, acting as Colonel. "He is", one of the men remarked, "just the man to manage a regiment". In his orders he is clear and concise, scarce ever using more then a dozen words in explanation of any maneuver. On his arrival strict sanitary rules were adopted, and it was ordered that the field should be swept. Your correspondent has seen street sweeping before; but the sweeping of a field was to him a new business.
Water here is very scarce. Twice have I been with several others nearly a half a mile from camp, to fill a hogshead with water, and the roll it back. I was informed that the Major intends to meet this necesity by placing a force pump in the pond, and this supplying the camp, but I cannot vouch for the truth of it.
Last Sunday evening the Major discharged his pistol several times, to warn those who were attempting to run guard, but probably with the intention of frightening rather then injuring.
On Monday the regiment mustered into the United States Service, making the 22d of Mass. Volunteers. The 23d is now occupying the ground used by the 19th,already containing nine companies, and is rapidly filling up.
Your readers are all doubtless aware that a company of volunteers is now in camp at Lynnfield, known as the "Woburn Union Guard". They have been sworn into the U. S. service, and are attached to the 22d regiment, Col. Henry Wilson. They number seventy men, all told, and of these probably a little rising of fifty hail form Woburn. It is desirable that the company shall be filled up by Woburn men direct, or by recruits which present officers (Woburn men) shall enlist, and not be filled by regimental officers with detachments from other companies. It is extremely difficult to fill up this company, and it may be found impossible without resorting to some other locality. I hope this will not be the case, and I would through your column suggest a remedy. It is this: -- let the citizens offer bounty for volunteers.
Many towns in our vicinity are offering bounties to those who will enlist in companies from those towns, and many good men from our town take up with the offer, which, while it gives them a chance to show their patriotism, at the same time gives themmeans for leaving their families a little more comfortable. Roxbury offers $20 bounty to any who would enlist in the third company of that city. A public meeting was held, $2000 raised, and distributed among the one hundred volunteers forming that company, as above. There are Woburn men in that company. Cambridge offers $5. Newton gives $10. The new cavalry regiment recruited some of is companies by bounty of $5. It has become so common to give abounty that the first question a new volunteer asks the recruiting officer is "How much bounty do you pay?" This being the case what hope is there of filling up the Union Guard and having it retain the "Woburn" in its name, without our town twon holds out some inducement. This company is deserving of some assistance from us, and I do not doubt but that of it was generally known that money was required, it would be forthcoming.
I am aware that public meetings for a display of patriotism in Woburn, are, to use a common phrase, "about played out", but it seems to me that if one more could be held, and the subject fairly placed before the people, that a good result might be affected. At the meetig in April, several thousand dollars were subscribed. Of this amount, but a part was ever called for. Now, there may be some of those subscribers who would pay a percentage of their gift into a fund, for a bounty for the Woburn Union Guard; and there might be those who did not subscribe to the old fund who would do so now. Let the thing be tried, and if our public-spirited citizens will take hold of the matter, it will succeed.