From Geneva Courier 19 February 1862

Army Correspondence

Camp Barry, Washington D. C.
Feb. 9, 1962

Friend Johnson:

There is not much news of importance at this time.  The duties are about the same every day, and not much change one way or the other.  It is about as much as we can do to eat our rations and wade through the mud.  The health of the camp has very materially improved within the last two weeks, at a time too when we had every reason to suppose that sickness would be on the increase, taking the state of the weather as a criterion to judge by.  The fearful apprehension of sickness is fast wearing off the minds of the men, and consequently there is more cheerfulness among them than a few weeks past.  Those yet remaining in hospital are improving finely, and we hope that a few days more and we shall not have a representative there from our company, a condition of things most devoutly to be wished for.

I had the pleasure last Friday afternoon of seeing a four-horse wagon load of real live "seceshers" come into the city under an escort of twelve dragoons; they were prisoners and had been captured over in Virginia somewhere near Fairfax.  They were dirty, ragged and in all kinds of uniforms; the most forlorn look set of fellows I have seen yet.  They were chained together and packed around the outside of the wagon box, and their legs filled the middle.  From my experience I really don't think they had the easiest vehicle in the world to ride in, and their position in the wagon was not as comfortable as some that could have been selected.  I wished while riding by the side of them that Soverhill could have been here to see them, I think he never would say more about the nobleness of his southern friends.  The escort halted in front of Gen. McClellan's headquarters, and I rode on my way; what was done with them I don't know, but suppose they were lodged with their friends in the old Capitol building, where they can have the privilege of looking out upon the free soldiers of the North, and have an opportunity of ruminating upon the enormity of their past conduct.  I felt sorry for one poor little fellow in the gang, for he was not more than fifteen years of age. He looked too young to be a soldier, much less a prisoner of war.  

I took a ride over to the 50th today, and saw most of the Geneva boys -- they were looking well.  Took dinner with Quarter-Master Nares; found him in comfortable quarters, and the dinner was of the Alhambra style -- roast prairie chickens with cranberry sauce and celery salad, all prepared under the superintendence of George by his right hand man, Theo. Duffin, who presides at the fire place with much dignity.  After dinner we went out to see the Regiment on dress parade and I confess that I was agreeably disappointed with their soldierly appearance.  It is decidedly the best appearing regiment of Infantry I have seen yet.  The energetic and accomplished lady of the Col. was present at the parade.  Meeting her added very much to the pleasure of the visit.  The 50th must make its mark so long as its present efficient Col. controls and guides its movements.  They have a magnificent camp lying right on the bank of the Potomac.  Their streets were clean and well graveled, contrasting very favorably with our mud hole.

Camp Griffin, near Lewinsville, Va.
Feb'y 13, 1862

I resume my letter to you.  In war as in all other things of life, we know not what a day may bring forth.  Being at Gen. Barry's office on the afternoon of the 11th, Major Webb told me to go home and get all things ready, for we would march in the morning before daylight, and that he wished to see the Captain.  It did not take long for me to know there were many things to be done to get ready.  The first thing was to make a requisition for sixteen baggage teams to draw our camp equipage, and the horses' forage.  They were on hand promptly, ready to start in the morning.  At midnight the bugle sounded the call to get up. All were out promptly and the work of loading the wagons commenced.  By six o'clock all were ready, the bugle sounded the advance and we took up our line of march for the sacred soil of Virginia.  At a quarter past twelve noon, we crossed the Chain Bridge, and for the first time set out foot in the "Confederate States" of America.  The Battery having preceded us some little time as we had the usual amount of bad luck in getting our mule teams stuck in the mud and delaying the train, yet considering the condition of the roads and the weight of the loads we had excellent luck in getting through.

Our Battery is now attached to General Smith's division, and we are in the advance.  We passed through McCall's division, which lies some two miles to our rear.  We found the mud here full as deep as we left, and I tell you there is not much fun in pitching tents in the mud when it is half leg deep, after marching all day without a mouthful to eat.  We are in Fairfax county, on the very spot where the Rebels had their cavalry encamped at the time Gen. Smith made his advance from the Chain Bridge. The country to look upon is beautiful, and resembles Ontario county more than any place I have yet seen, but the same look of desolation is over it all.  It is all one field; not a rod of fence to be seen in any direction from camp; and the material to make them of has all been used up for fuel and other army purposes.

I do not know how many men there are in our division, but should think from what I have seen that there must be over sixteen thousand.  The pickets were just coming into camp as we arrived yesterday, and they had a drove of contrabands with them -- mostly women and children.  They were a ragged, dirty looking lot, and were sent today on to Washington.

The soldiers here are looking well for men that have been on duty as long as they.  Those nearest us are Vermonters -- tough, hardy looking fellows.  They have been busy all the time, and have their camp in fine order for winter, they having built up little log pens with mud, (which by the way at present would be an easy matter,) and then stretched their tents on the top for a roof, and I tell you they are as fine and comfortable domicils as one could wish in camp.

There was a solder's funeral today, and I went out to see the poor fellow laid away in his last camp on earth.  He was from Vermont.  The band played a beautiful dirge while the procession moved to the cemetery, which is just opposite our camp. I was astonished to see the number of graves of soldiers, as it is exclusively a solders' burying place.  I counted over one hundred graves, and two of them have beautiful marble tombstones at their heads -- erected by members of the company to which they belonged.

We feel in hopes we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing some Rebels on their own ground, for their pickets are only two and a half miles from us, just beyond Lewinsville.  With a glass we could see our pickets quite plain.  They were nearly two miles from us on a ridge east of the village of Lewinsville.  I have the promise that I may go out with them next Tuesday, and if I can possibly get away I am going -- I am bound to see the country and the Rebels if possible.

I will write you again when I have more time.  I am going to the city tomorrow and will have to start by daylight to make the trip, so you must excuse this hasty letter.

T. Atkins

From Geneva Gazette 25 April 1862

Before Yorktown -
The following extracts from letters from one of our Geneva boys in the army before Yorktown, gives a very good picture of soldier's life in that locality, to which the eyes of the nation are now turned with so much interest and solicitude:

*    *    *    *

I little thought a year ago I would be bushwhacking in the woods out here in Virginia.  We are now in camp -- our whole Brigade --in a dense woods within less than half a mile of the enemy's camps and forts, and we lie here waiting and expecting to be called out for a fight every day and every hour.  We lie around the woods within short distance of our Company quarters trying to kill time, and I tell you it is quite a job.  Since we have lain here in the woods, almost every day there has been more or less cannonading -- as our men go out with a battery and throw a few shells in the rebel forts, and they don't have to go a great ways to find them.  If they knew our position in the woods, they could shell us any minute.  We have to keep rather more quiet and cautious now, so as to keep our position from them; as we don't have any drum calls beaten, only the "long roll."  The other day our pickets came in, some of them having been driven in by two regiments of rebels. In less than no time our Brigade was called out by the "long roll", and in ten minutes were in front of the rebel fort and camp, which lies a half mile to the south-east of our camp, just out of the woods.  The "secesh" soon dug back inside of their fort, and after waiting an hour or so, we returned to camp.  They don't forget to throw a shell near us every day.  The boys always get them and have them to look at.  Night before last our regiment was on picket.  We can see their camp and hear them talk.  I went on post about 8 o'clock in the morning; and just as I went on, the "long roll" beat in the rebel camp, and you can imagine how close I was, as I could hear the different companies answering to their names as they were called.  It was a still night and you could hear very plain.  It is a great sight here at night, while the camp fires are burning and the men gathered around in groups, some signing and most of them talking of the coming battle and its probable result.  We all feel that a great many of us will never live to return to our homes, as we expect a fearful and terrible struggle, and every man belonging to the Army of the Potomac is willing to show that they are here to whip the rebels or lose his life in the struggle.  I suppose you have read of the terrible battle and great victory of our army at Corinth under Generals Grant and Buell.  There was slaughter enough on both sides, but thank God it resulted in a victory for our men; and now if we can lay them out here, which we shall in a few days, when everything is ready, I think it will about settle the matter.  But it appears that the abolition, or rather disunion papers at the North such as the Tribune, are dissatisfied already that we have not taken Yorktown before this.  Well, let them blow !  I guess GEORGE B. McCLELLAN knows where he is, and what he is at, full as well as Horace Greeley, or all such goose quill Generals as he is.

From Geneva Gazette 25 April 1862

Before Yorktown, April 18th

At our camp last night our batteries, which were stationed within a stone's throw of us, was banging away at the rebel forts and camps, as it had been all day long.  It is a strange sight to see with what coolness our boys take it since we have been here.  We sit and stand around camp nights, and talk and blow about the coming battle; we expect it will be a tough one, but feel confident the victory will be ours.  We learned that the battery in front of our brigade had during the day made some havoc amongst the rebels, as at one time they fetched out two of their batteries on the open field in front of their fort, but ours made them get back in short metre;  and from what our men saw during the day we must have killed and wounded a considerable number of the enemy.  We were not without some loss of life, but those of our men that were killed or wounded brought their danger upon themselves.  A curiosity leads a number of our men to go out to the edge of the woods to see the fun, but I think they are quite foolish; for in a short time they will have a chance to see all the fun of this kind they wish. Yesterday one of our outside pickets had both his feet shot off by a ball from our cannon, which struck a tree and glanced; a Sergeant belonging to the 2d Michigan, who went just outside of the woods and mounted a stump to see the enemy better, had scarcely gained his position when a rebel shell struck him and tore him all to pieces; another was a reporter for the New York Herald, with our brigade, who was killed. This is all our loss as I have yet heard.  There was a rumor in camp that the firing on our left was done by Smith's division, who, it is said, drove the rebels from one of their batteries and took nine guns.  Whether this be so I can't say; if it is, probably the boys in the company that was raised in Geneva by Col. Walker, had a chance to smell powder, as the 83d are in that division. This morning we were rousted out of our tents two hours before daylight, and ordered to put on our equipments, which we have had on ever since.  What it was for I don't know -- whether we expected an attack or was expecting to make one -- that is what ails us privates.  We only know that we have to do just as we are ordered; and in the position we are at present I can't say but before I finish this letter I shall be obliged to fall in line of battle, and perhaps be wiped out;  but such is a soldier's life. You write as though you were all very patriotic at home, and I am glad to hear it; and I think you can afford to be, as you will, I think, see an end to this war before a great many months have passed.  Some one ought to be compelled to swing on the gallows and be tormented for all eternity, to answer for the misery and suffering this war has and will cause both at the North and the South, and I hope it will fall on the right ones on both sides.

From Geneva Gazette 27 June 1862

Extract from a Letter from a Geneva Nurse employed
in a Government Hospital

Columbia College Hospital
Washington, May 31, 1862

Dear Mrs. _________:

The two barrels containing supplies for our Hospital came safely to hand last evening, and I am requested to thank our kind friends at Geneva for the promptness with which they responded to our call, and the appropriateness of the articles sent.  I certainly feel obliged.  Although our stores seemed to my inexperienced eyes, when I first came here, almost , stinexhaustibleill before your supplies came yesterday, we had drawn out every shirt, and I for one having four very sick men, felt very anxious about their future comfort.  You may judge then how gladly I counted out those shirts.

In these severe typhoid cases, we many times have to change our men three and four times a day.  I have not as yet lost a man, although I much fear I shall not be able to say so much longer as I have some very sick now, and I can't bear the thought that they must die on my hands.  It is strange how soon we become interested in our patients.  One of our nurses came down to the breakfast table this morning with her eyes red and swollen with weeping.  She had lost one of her men during the night.  But I must not take time from my suffering patients to write a long letter this time, allow me again to thank you for your donation.  I will just say, that the sick and wounded are being sent up here to our hospital by hundreds and thousands, not only our own men, but rebel prisoners, and all are to be clothed.  We have four hundred rebel prisoners only one quarter of a mile from us, in barracks.  A few nights since three of them run the guard, and escaped.  I have never for a moment regretted coming, and daily receive the thanks of my patients, and often of the their friends at home, for the care I bestow on them.  It is a real pleasure to feel that we are doing good, and making others happy, I never knew anything (comparatively) about it before.

Yours truly,   Mrs. J. E. Hamlin

From Geneva Gazette 4 July 1862

The Battle on James Island, near Charleston, S. C.


An interesting account of the Affair from a former Resident of this Town, now
a Captain in the 8th Mich.

Capt. Geo. Proudfit, of the 8th Michigan Regiment, who participated in the battle of James Island.  The letter gives quite as full and interesting an account of the disastrous affair as we have seen in any of the papers.  We hope, for the honor and success of the Mr. John Proudfit of Stanley Corners, an old friend and patron, has placed at our disposal for publication a letter from his son. We shall not be obliged to relate such another blunder, attended with such disastrous consequences, in the course of this war:

James Island, June 16th, 1862.

Dear Father:

The news of today has been solemnized by the precious lives of hundreds of brave men; and the hand of the historian will have just cause to tremble as it records the history of the battle of James Island, that is so indelibly written in the sacred blood of our brothers and friends.  In my tears of sorrow I can but rejoice and bless God that I yet remain to tell the tale of woe.  While I write my ears are filled with cries and moans of men in agonizing pain.  May a peaceful future reward these their days of sorrow.

I wrote you a short time since that our forces were advancing on Charleston, and had landed on James Island.  We occupy nearly one half of the Island, the other half is occupied by the rebels; our nearest point is within five or six miles of Charleston. Near the centre of the Island, at a small place called Seceshville, there is a fort or battery mounting five or six guns, and as near as we can learn they have a force of men equal if not superior to ours.  The portion of the Island occupied by them is well defended by an innumerable amount of forts, batteries, rifle pits, trenches and fortifications, and continually molest our pickets with shot and shell.  Not a day has passed since we landed on this Island that we have not lost more or less from such barbarous warfare; hence it was inevitably necessary that something must be done to rid ourselves from such wanton cruelty, and that as soon as practicable; also to obtain full possession of the Island, and thus approximate towards the accomplishment of our intended purpose -- the taking of Charleston.  They are not at all misapprehensive of our intentions, and will contest every foot of ground regardless of either life or expense.  We are equally well determined to travel on, if we have to pave our road with human bones, and the work has commenced.

We received orders at ten o'clock last night to have our men in readiness to march at one o'clock this morning, with sixty rounds of cartridge and twenty-four hours rations.  At one o'clock we formed our line and soon were on the move.  Our intention was to take them by surprise and at the point of the bayonet.  We had about three miles to march, and over very bad roads.  It was very dark and rained quite hard until morning.  When we arrived within nearly half a mile of the fort, we surprised a picket of three privates and an officer, who fired on us, killing two men, and then run, but were soon overtaken; and only the most peremptory orders could prohibit our men from making a pin cushion of their bodies for our bayonets for their cowardly assault upon our men.  As soon as they were taken they claimed they were Union men that had been pressed into the service.  That story is played out.  We have seen enough of that class of Union men.  It is a pretext used by all prisoners taken by us but it has lost its charm.  We stayed our march but a moment here, for we were now nearing our object, and morning was close at hand. We took the double-quick and soon were in sight of the fort, when we were thrown into line of battle and continued our march at double-quick.  Many of the men now began to fall behind, some dropping to the ground exhausted and fainting.  Nothing but the excitement and determination kept me up.  As we came in sight of the fort not a man was to be seen; all was quiet.  We were led to believe they had either fled or were unaware of our approach; but ah, this was not true, they were ready and waiting for us.  The command was given to "charge bayonet" and rush on the fort, holding our fire until the last.  Our men flew to the work of death with a will -- the rebels keeping out of our sight and holding their fire until we were within seven or eight rods of the fort, when they opened a tremendous fire of shot, grape and cannister, and a continued volley of musketry. Many a poor fellow fell around me there, some wounded and some without a murmur.  I was struck in the thigh with a spent ball, which rendered me inactive for a few moments, but I was soon at work again. Our men fought bravely and desperately, many of them mounting the parapets of the fort and shooting the devils in their den.  We had fought but a few moments when the 38th Massachusetts came up to our support.  We felt cheered as we saw them approaching and believed the victory yet must be ours.  But alas ! men are not all iron-clad, and weigh their own value in different scales.  When the 28th Mass. came up within about 20 rods of the fort, they received a charge of grape and cannister that left its mark in their ranks, when they broke and commenced  a retreat.  Their officers tried to hold them to their places and bring them forward, but without effect.  After retreating a short distance they rallied and again came up, but receiving the second charge, they broke in utter confusion, and retreated back to a hedge some eighty or one hundred rods distant.  That was the last we saw of the 28th Mass.  The 79th N. Y. then came up to our support on the right and fought nobly.  They are second to none in the service.  The 7th Conn. followed them but did nothing of much account.  How long we fought there I know not, it was probably one hour, when we received the order to retire, which, from the gloomy aspect before us, was willingly obeyed.  Our regiment was then rallied for the second attack, but we were unable to assemble but about one hundred men and five officers.  We then, after resting a few moments, advanced to a trench within about forty rods of the fort, and remained under cover while our batteries poured shot and shell into the fort.  This lasted about three-quarters of an hour, when we were again ordered to retire, leaving many of our dead and wounded on the field.  Our success was then discovered impracticable, and we were ordered to our camps to mourn the sorrows of an ill-spent day.

While we were engaging the fort as above described, Gen. Wright with his Brigade was engaging the enemy at our left, who attempted to flank us, and thus cut off our retreat, but they were thwarted in their plan.  Our retreats were all made in common time, and in good order.  Our Brigade was commanded by Gen. Stevens.  Our division of the Brigade, consisting of the 8th Mich., 28th Mass. and 79th N. Y., under the command of Col. Fenton xxxxthe, 8th Mich.  The 8th Mich. reg't was under command of Lieut. Col. Graves.  All under command of Brig. Gen. Benham.  I have stated the above facts as known from personal observations. Our regiment led on the attack and covered the final retreat.

As to the wisdom of the plan and the Generalship displayed, we have but to look at the figures and judge for ourselves.  We had, all told, engaged on our side, about six or seven thousand men, and we lost 700 killed, wounded and missing.  We do not know how large a force the enemy had; but we do know that we were defeated with heavy loss.  Our regiment went in with about 500 men and 22 officers, and came back with 300 men and 11 officers, -- making a total loss in killed, wounded and missing of 203 men and 11 officers.  We get off the field 113 men wounded and 5 officers, the rest are killed, wounded or taken prisoners.  I went in with 51 men and came out with 31, leaving twenty killed, wounded and missing.  Of those we have seven wounded men saved from the enemy.

It is not my place to dictate to my superiors, or censure or even criticize their acts; but like all men, I must indulge my feelings where the drapery of mourning is hung around my couch, be it upon the acts of a superior or inferior.  We feel injured; for we feel that we were led up to the cannon's mouth to swallow its indigestible food unnecessarily.  The locality of Fort Ripley and its strength was well known to every man in our camp.  We have some twelve or fourteen gunboats that can bring their guns to bear directly upon the fort; also some two or three batteries and twelve pieces of light artillery, all of which can play upon a fort mounting five or six guns with perfect ease and accuracy.  Why was it not done?  Was it because victory is made honorable from its list of mortality?  Or did it arise from the petty jealousies existing between the army and navy?  That too much of that feeling has existed here in this division we do know, or at least have good reason to believe.  And we know further that we never can accomplish anything here with our present force unless there is a concerted action by the army and navy.

We are told to prepare for another fight soon.  It will take but a single repetition of today's work to leave the 8th Mich. strong only in the memory of its friends, and a sacrifice to the folly of men.  To speak of the personal valor of any that may have distinguished themselves upon this occasion would do injustice to many whose honor we could not seek to diminish.  I therefore refrain from personalities, leaving "honor to whom honor is due" to be given by men of merits.

The weather is very warm, and it is getting quite unhealthy here.  My health is improving.  With kind wishes to all, I remain,

Your affection son,  Capt. Geo. Proudfit, 8th Mich. Infantry

From Geneva Gazette 12 September 1862

Camp Prouty, Harper's Ferry
September 1, 1862

No doubt many of the readers of the GAZETTE would be glad to learn the whereabouts, condition, &c., of the gallant 126th Reg't N. Y. S. V.  We left Camp Swift, Geneva, Tuesday morning, August 26, took boat for Watkins, from thence to Elmira, at which place the regiment received their rations, arms, (which are Springfield rifles, musket pattern of 1861,) tents, &c.; in fact everything complete for the regiment to take the field.  Started from Elmira at sundown, via N. C. R. R., arrived at Harrisburg at half-past six A. M. Wednesday; passed through York, and arrived at Baltimore, Md., at half-past one P. M.

The regiment everywhere along the line of railroad was greeted with hearty cheers, and treated in the most courteous manner. At Baltimore the regiment was sumptuously entertained by the "Union Relief Association."

Whilst passing through Baltimore grim looks and wry faces were evidently seen, but the regiment passed through in perfect order and silence.  Here and there the National colors were flung to the breeze, and at the sight of the "dear old flag," the gallant volunteers of the memorable 26th Senatorial District would give vent to their feelings in three hearty cheers, which would be responded to by the waving of small flags, handkerchiefs, &c.

At Baltimore we received orders to proceed immediately to Harper's Ferry, for which place we started at 6 P. M., and after spending much of the night on the cars near Sandy Hook Station, at a "dead halt," we arrived at the romantic, God-forsaken, pillaged, and ever-memorable Harper's Ferry, celebrated for the advent of John Brown in the land of Dixie.  After disembarking, the troops were formed into line, and the order, "column, forward !" being given, the field and staff leading the advance, and with the band playing Yankee Doodle, the thousand anxious hearts wound their way to the heights overlooking Sesessia.  A fine, level camp ground being selected, which slopes to the east, west, north and south, the boys with alacrity pitched their tents and set about cooking their first meal (supper) in camp -- a sight which many ladies of the 26th Senatorial District would have enjoyed.

Various reports are being circulated in camp that old "Stonewall" is near, and will be down upon us; but let him come, the 126th will give him a warm reception.

In order to give your readers some idea of the amount of work which we do, I append the following rules and regulations of our camp:  1st reveille, 5 A. M.; 2d, squad drill, 6 A. M.; 3d, breakfast, 7 A. M.; 4th, Surgeon's call, 6 1/2 A. M.; 5th, guard mounting, 8 A. M.; 6th, squad drill, 8 1/2 A. M.; 7th, company drill 11 to 12; 8th, dinner, 12 M.; 9th, company and squad drill, 5 P. M.; 10th dress parade retreat, sundown; 11th, tattoo, 9 P. M.; 12th, taps, 9 12 P. M.

Thus, many readers of the GAZETTE will see that activity is the watchword of the "bloody" 126th.  Our field and staff are perfect gentlemen, and watch with fatherly care over the regiment.  The health of the regiment is exceedingly good, having scarce a dozen in the hospital, and they are not very sick.  All are convalescent and will be out in a few days.  More anon.

John H. Brough, Lieut. Co. E, 126th Reg't N. Y. S. V.

From Geneva Courier 18 February 1863

A Letter from the Army

On Picket, Scott's Creek, Va.
Sunday, Feb. 8th, 1863

Friend Johnson:

Unless we soldiers keep pretty good track of the day of the week, we are liable to get confounded, as was the case with one of my comrades yesterday, who dated his letter Thursday instead of Saturday.  I will allow that I was puzzled just now, till a sagacious "Contraband" come along and set me right, and volunteered the information that Charleston was "tooked."  Almanacs and other Literary matter are scarce with us, and you must judge charitably if we do make mistakes occasionally.  Picketing in fine weather is a welcome change from the duties in camp and the boys are happy to be relieved from the restraint and Ennui of camp life.  Scott's Creek is an insignificant stream emptying into the Elizabeth River, and the Picket Post is at a bridge crossing the creek on one of the roads leading from Portsmouth.  No person is allowed to go by without a pass from the Provost Marshall.  There is not much travel on this road, the most being residents going to and from their homes, and men engaged in oystering in the west branch of the Elizabeth river.  Contrabands pass and repass often, and I asked one intelligent one today if he was free, he said he "specked he was but didn't know zackly."  I then asked his opinion of Prest. Lincoln and if he and his acquaintances were willing to join the army as soldiers, with red pants as part of their uniform.  He seemed delighted at the idea of wearing red pants and replied, he thought "Lincum was a right smart man, kase he favored de slabe", and that as far as he himself was concerned he was ready and anxious to shoulder a gun get at the secesh and "snatch 'em heavy."  From my observation of the people in this section, I judge them friendly, polite and hospitable, though intensely pro-slavery and very decided in their convictions.  An old gentleman came along about an hour ago and while the guard was examining his "pass", entered into conversation with our Lieut. in the course of which he observed that before the war began he was the possessor of "Live-Stock" enough, the value of which was sufficient to allow him to ride in his carriage the remainder of his days but the same "Live-Stock" had walked off with impunity and were at present knocking about in Norfolk as Sovereigns, and that he was ruined.  Such is the case with the majority of slave owners in this military district.  I have just been informed that seven or eight hundred dollars worth of contraband goods have been seized today at the headquarters Picket post on Deep Creek and Petersburg road and confiscated by the indefatigable Capt. Daly of Co. A.  There has been many attempts to smuggle necessaries through our lines lately, but if the seceshers imagine they can carry aid and comfort to their friends, while the bloody 148th are the Pickets, why, I apprehend they count without their host.  Quite a number of good-looking young ladies have passed here today seated upon the bottom of the inseparable one-horse cart, but "nary one" deigned to smile on us, (Strange for we are all pretty of the 148th,) and seemed to act as if we did not deserve a sweet look; but we were comforted with the reflection that there was many a "Bonny one" in our beloved North.  This is indeed a beautiful day.  "Old Sol" imparts a genial warmth.  Robins are mingling their chirps with the warbling of little sweet singing birds, and everything save the face of nature reminds us Northerners of May.  We are fortunate in having with us as officer of picket Lieut. J. D. English, than whom none are more popular in our Regt., a kind friend, genial companion, and accomplished christian gentleman; may his days be many.  

12 O'CLOCK P. M.

The sun that smiles on the just and the unjust alike, hours ago settled behind the tall forest of pine at the west of us, (the sun sets in the west here too.)  Two hours ago we heard in the distance sweet music, and heard cheer upon cheer in the direction of our camp, and knew that our splendid Regimental Band were discoursing sweet harmony in honor of the return of Col. Johnson and honest hearts and honest throats were giving utterance to their appreciation of an honest man.  How beautiful the night. Countless thousands of bright stars are twinkling, everything is quiet save the music of toads in a neighboring swamp, and the solemn tread of the sentry pacing his lonely beat while the midnight moon serenely smiles o'er nature's soft repose.  In our little tent on a welcome bed of straw, are stretched our wearied comrades, enjoying a refreshing sleep.  Perhaps in their dreams they are with their loved ones at home again.  I weary and turn in, wishing you long life and prosperity.


From Geneva Gazette 30 October 1863

CAMP DISMOUNT, Oct 24th, 1863
Friend Parker:  

As I have a few moments' leisure, I thought I would write you a short account of our trip to Washington, thinking, perhaps, it might interest some of your readers.  We left the good old village of Geneva, as you are aware, Monday October 19th.  We took passage up the beautiful Seneca on the the steamers Elmira and P. H. Field.  The weather was unpleasant during the day -- in fact it might be called a cheerless day -- and how well it corresponded with the feelings of some who were leaving near and dear friends, perhaps never to meet them again.  Some were leaving with a sad heart, the home of their childhood and the scenes of their boyish days.  Others were enthusiastic with the idea of leaving home and seeing strange places; and all felt that they were leaving home for the preservation of our glorious Union.

About 1 o'clock P. M., the men being aboard and everything in readiness, the boats moved off amid the cheers and waving of handkerchiefs of the thousands assembled to say Farewell and see us off.  We made a quick trip up the lake, arriving at Watkins at 4 P. M.  During the trip some busied themselves with performing gymnastic feats on the Upper Deck; some gathered in groups and talked over the events of the day.  In the cabin of the Fields was a group who were singing merrily; here and there could be seen some who preferred to be alone with their thoughts, busy thinking of the past and future -- and thus the time passed until we arrived at Watkins, where the Regiment was transferred to the cars that were waiting for us.

The train was comprised of all sorts of cars -- some open and some covered.  The men had rations of Bread served to them here; (they were obliged to go without meat, as it was so strong, it could not be got off the boat.)  Everything being in readiness, the train moved off amid the cheers of the people gathered together to see a Regiment of Veterans.  The train stopped at Havana about an hour and half waiting for the Express train to pass, when we started ahead again.  It being up grade from Havana to Horseheads, the train was obliged to move very slowly, and one of the boys, being in a hurry, concluded to walk; so he got off, and while walking along the train came to a deep ditch filled with water, and he, not seeing it, fell in, of course.  He soon got out, however, and succeeded in getting on the rear car, wet from head to foot, and his ardor to reach Elmira cooled.

We arrived in Elmira about half past 8 o'clock P. M.; and there being no cars to convey us any farther, we were marched to barracks No. 2, where the men passed the night as best they could with the accommodations they had.  The next morning the boys were up at an early hour, looking around to see where their breakfast was coming from; but they "didn't see it," and so were obliged to go hungry.  About half-past 8 A. M. the Regiment was ordered to barracks No. 3, where, after waiting until noon, we were marched to the eating room.  Here we were served with bread, butter, meat, potatoes and coffee, and you would have thought they did justice to the food the way it disappeared.  After dinner the men formed in line and marched to the Depot, where we went aboard the cars -- which were freight cars with board seats.  About 3 o'clock P. M., the men being aboard, the word was given and away we went for Dixie.  We first stopped at Jillett, a small station, where two trains passed us, and then on we went again.  The men passed off the time, some by singing, some by playing cards, others by laughing and talking; and here and there could be seen one reading his Bible -- the parting gift of a kind mother, wife or sister.  As it began to grow dark the men began to make arrangements for sleeping, and ere long most of them had forgotten their cares and were slumbering soundly, perhaps with bright dreams and happy visions of home and friends, to awake and find it naught but a dream. In the morning the cars stopped at a small station near Harrisburg, but on the opposite side of the river.  We stopped here about half an hour and then we went on again.  We next stopped at York, which is quite a large town.  The men got off here and washed themselves, and afterwards strolled around the town.  We stopped here about an hour, and then the whistle blew and you could see blue jackets running toward the train from all directions.  After all were aboard, the train moved on; and after quite a pleasant ride, considering the cars we were in, we arrived in Baltimore about 3 o'clock P. M.  Here the Regiment was formed into line and marched through the city to the Union Relief Committee's rooms, where they were fed -- and they were in need of it, as they had eaten nothing since leaving Elmira.  We were provided with coffee, bread, meat and cabbage; and after a large amount of provision had disappeared, the men were formed in line and marched aboard the cars, and after waiting nearly two hours we started for our glorious Capital, where we arrived about 1 o'clock Thursday morning, and marched into the barracks near the Depot.  All were glad that our journey was over, for we were nearly worn out; and we bivouacked on the floor, where I think the most of us slept soundly the remainder of the night.

In the morning the men washed and brushed up.  There was not much straggling about the city, as a strict guard is kept around the barracks.  About 8 o'clock orders came to march the men to breakfast, at the Soldier's Retreat, where we partook of bread, coffee, and cold meat.  We then marched back to the barracks, where the men staid, expecting to be ordered out to camp; but at noon, instead of being marched to camp, we were marched to the Soldier's Retreat again for dinner.  After dinner we marched back to the barracks, and packed up and started for camp.  We marched down to the Navy Yard bridge, where a portion of the 50th Engineers are encamped.  The Geneva company are here.  We saw some of the Geneva boys, but hadn't much time to visit with them.  We crossed the bridge, and are now encamped on the Eastern branch, about five miles from Washington.  We camped in most any way for the night, and yesterday were busy in laying out our camp.  Some of the boys find fault because they do not have more rations; but they will soon have more than they can eat.  We are encamped on a side hill, and a very good camp it is; the only objections being the scarcity of wood and water.  We had but just got our tents pitched when it began to rain; and today (Saturday the 24th) it rains quite hard and is cold and uncomfortable, but brighter days will soon come.  Colonel Taylor told the men that Divine service would commence Sunday morning, by the Paymaster paying off the bounty -- a service the men would like to attend every Sunday.  The health of the Regiment is good, with the exception of some slight colds.

I must now close, as I fear I have wearied you already with this long letter.  We will, I think, stay where we are until we are equipped and drilled.  Hoping this will interest your readers, I remain
Yours truly,
Q. M. Serg't, 1st, Vet. Cav. N. Y. V.

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