Quite Ready To Be Sent Somewhere: The Civil War Letters Of Aldace Freeman Walker

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Dick is with me to-night; think he prefers being where he isn't so much crowded as in his own quarters. Weather comfortable and warm, but few clouds and very little wind. If the weather still continues fine a few days longer the army will make an advance [36] without doubt; have been talking with our sutler's clerk, Huntington, who was a lieutenant in the rebel army thirteen months, but being a Vermonter, on the death of his wife and child who were living in the south, he deserted to our army.

Warm and comfortable; mud drying up finely; application to go to Washington to report to General Silas Casey returned this forenoon, disapproved; had a brigade drill this afternoon, a better one than usual; men busy on their cabins; wish they were done as their present ones are very filthy; a beautiful moonlight night. Weather fine, no wind or clouds and but little mud; had our regimental monthly inspection at 10 a.

Weather fine this forenoon but began to cloud up towards night.

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Major Harper has paid off the regiment to-day. The sutler is also selling off his stock of goods, as to-morrow is the time appointed for all sutlers to leave the army; looks like a move in a few days; am detailed for picket to-morrow; no letter from home to-night, am sorry to say. Corps review was ordered for to-day, but it is raining, so very likely it will be postponed; started for picket about 9 a.

Henry as Officer of the Day, so we will fare well; rained all forenoon; cleared about 1 p. The Tenth Vermont has the right of the line. Weather fine and warm, but some windy with clouds; all quiet along the line to-day; have very poor quarters; has been very quiet in front; it's doubtless the calm which precedes the storm; have little doubt but what the army will move within the next week; beautiful, moonlight, calm evening; it seems ominous.

It has been very comfortable on picket to-day without any fire. The officer of the day has been at my post to-day for the first time. One of the bough houses caught fire this evening and burned up; otherwise all's quiet. The weather is getting uncomfortably warm; no need of fire any more on picket. A skirmish occurred last night about fifteen miles out on the pike. One or two of the enemy were killed and as many wounded. One of our men was wounded in the foot. A detachment [38] of our cavalry came in this morning with some prisoners.

Not very pleasant to-day; brigade drill this forenoon; regiment so busy putting up quarters it is excused from all other duties; officers of Tenth Vermont all ordered out to witness the new movements in tactics at brigade drill. My leave has come back approved, but shan't go to Washington till Sunday; clear moonlight night. A truly beautiful day, warm and pleasant with no wind at all; regiment moved to a new camp this morning; most of the line officers remain here yet.

Chandler proposed giving last winter, and B, my old Company and the one I have been with all winter, won it. Of course it would! It always honors itself and me; got a letter from home to-night. Weather pleasant and agreeable this morning, but towards night it began to haze up and now it is sprinkling. A part of the regiment went on picket this morning. Major Chandler is officer of the day; had a dress parade to-night. Hicks is relieved from General W.

Morris' staff.


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Most of the line officers have moved over to the new camp. It cleared during the night; quite fair this morning, but by noon the wind blew a gale, and the air was loaded with dust and smoke, but the sun was shining; shall start for Washington in the morning; have written Dr. Jones to-night. It's lonely and I'm feeling depressed. It's been a beautiful day; left camp at 6 o'clock this morning and reached Brandy Station at 9 a. One would hardly think it was Sunday by the stir about camp and our base of supplies, but war knows no Sunday; arrived in Washington at 4 p.

War rumors load the very air here. It has been a pleasant spring day; reported to General Silas Casey this morning: will be examined tomorrow; sat at Bradey's this afternoon for pictures. The streets are thronged with moving bodies of troops. General Burnside's Corps passed through the city this afternoon. President Lincoln reviewed it from the balcony over the ladies' entrance of Willard's Hotel on Fourteenth street.

This is my first sight of President Lincoln and probably as good as I shall ever have. I was just across the street opposite on the curb and not crowded. He looked pale, very sad and greatly careworn. It depressed me to look at him. The remembrance will ever be vivid. Fine day. Several regiments have passed up Pennsylvania Avenue during the day; have been before the board; am very much pleased with its appearance with the exception of General Silas Casey who is too old and childish for such business.

To my surprise I was asked what position I wanted, and I replied a field office; was told the supply was more than the demand and as officers were absorbed in the same order as passed by the board I would never be called on. I replied that I should never accept anything but a field office; was passed for a first class Captaincy, there being three grades, First, Second and Third class; saw Edwin Forrest play Mattamora tonight at Ford's Theatre. It was fine. Pleasant but some wind; started for the front on the 9 a.

Albany; arrived in camp about sundown; found everything as I left it; am with my own Company D now, Lieut. Hicks having returned to Company B, which is his own company. A part of the regiment went on picket this morning; am officer of the day. I forgot to mention that [41] on my return I was surprised to find that Col. Jewett had resigned and that his resignation had been accepted; received a letter from Capt.

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Albert F. Dodge and one from home tonight; have been very busy making out muster and pay rolls all day. It has been warm and pleasant; nothing going on in camp; men seem to be enjoying themselves playing ball; completed Company D muster and pay rolls. Welch relieved me this morning as officer of the day.

Frost is now acting Major; very dull in camp tonight. Colonel W. Henry is division officer of the day.

Weather uncomfortably warm this forenoon but cooler since. Chandler mustered the regiment this forenoon; no drill this afternoon. General Burnside's Corps has relieved the Fifth Corps which has been doing duty on the railroad.

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The Third Division has moved in on our left; all's quiet tonight. Weather fine and pleasant. Chandler made a thorough inspection of the regiment this morning. Lieutenant Clark from the sharpshooters called on me this afternoon; pickets came in about 4 o'clock. Haynes preached a good sermon today; have written to J. Still another fine day, and yet the army remains idle. The query generally is, "when will the army move, and where? General U. Grant seems to keep his own counsel, like the silent man he is.

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It is well. A furious wind-storm occurred about 5 o'clock p.


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Pleasant in the forenoon, but a gale this afternoon; had brigade drill two hours this afternoon. At last our query for the past two weeks has been answered. A part of the army moved to-day, and no doubt we shall go to-morrow; received orders at 6 o'clock p. All is confusion in camp. We were aroused this morning at 3 o'clock, formed line at daylight, and took up our line of march for Germania Ford about sunrise.

The whole army is evidently on the move.

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It looks more like business than ever before; arrived at the ford about 6 o'clock p. Pleasant and warm; remained at the fort until about 8 o'clock a. The road here ran in a straight line ahead of us almost as far as the eye could reach bordered on either side with a dense forest and underbrush which was also being shelled in places. Shortly after, when within shelling distance, the enemy fired a solid shot straight along the pike which tore screeching through the air just a little above the heads of the men in column in our regiment till it struck the pike about midway the regiment, providentially where the men had split and were marching on either side of the road, when it viciously rebounded along the pike lengthwise the column to the great consternation of the men all along the extended column in our own and other regiments.

This situation was most trying for every moment I dreaded the effect of a better directed shot [44] which would go destructively through our long column lengthwise and do untold damage. Soon, however, we turned to the left or southerly into the woods and formed line of battle almost as soon as there was room after leaving the road with the enemy close in our front with a field piece of artillery hardly a hundred yards away through the brush which kept each from seeing the other. Before Captain H. Steele had hardly finished dressing his company after forming line a shell from this gun exploded in the ranks of Company K, killing a private and wounding others.

The shell had burst actually inside the man completely disemboweling and throwing him high in the air in a rapidly whirling motion above our heads with arms and legs extended until his body fell heavily to the ground with a sickening thud. I was in the line of file closers hardly two paces away and just behind the man killed.

We were covered with blood, fine pieces of flesh, entrails, etc. The concussion badly stunned me.

I was whirled about in the air like a feather, thrown to the ground on my hands and knees—or at least was in that position with my head from the enemy when I became fully conscious—face cut with flying gravel or something else, eyes, mouth and ears filled with dirt, and was feeling nauseated from the shake-up.