December is filled with bitter weather, made all the sharper by the constant troop movements that undermine all efforts to settle themselves in more comfortably. There's an eternal optimism (or perhaps just dogged persistence) in how the soldiers begin throwing up semi-permanent structures at each stop only to be ordered to abandon them before they can be enjoyed.
In my final copyediting pass of these entries, I always find that some of Abiel's regular spelling idiosyncrasies have slipped past me: staid for stayed, buisy for busy, prety for pretty. No doubt I've still missed some. I've only just noticed the auto-spellcheck function in this blog editor, so perhaps that will help with my regular spelling idiosyncrasies too.
Toward the end of December, there's brief note about Abiel being appointed to serve on a Court Martial (i.e., not a specific case but as a regular participant). As I mention below, this will be an unexpected turning point in his life, although I'm reconsidering the spin put on it that I'd picked up from family folklore about the matter. More on that later as events progress.
[PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING ARE COPIED FROM THE ORIGINALS. EDITORIAL COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.]
Thursday December 1st 1864
Still fair weather. I sent a letter to my sister in the mail which went out this morning. I sent 7 letters. I was in command of the Regiment two hours today. This P.M., took out all the men who had loaded guns and fired them off. The 1st Division of our corps moved this A.M.; where they are going we do not know but suppose to Petersburg. We expect to move soon. Hard at work on my clothing for June and July. Today got those two months nearly finished.
[Note: There are a couple of cryptic references in this entry. What was the purpose of firing all the loaded guns? It doesn't sound like a target practice exercise--more like "guns shouldn't be sitting around loaded if we aren't going to use them, so we fired them to empty them out." But that's just a wild guess from context. The reference to working on clothing for June and July sounds like this may have been an inventory/supply record that Abiel is a bit behind on. This is supported by the reference to "clothing rolls" in the next entry.]
Friday December 2nd 1864
Very busy again at the clothing rolls. The fair weather with which we have been blessed for several days seems about to cease. Considerable rain fell this P.M. and the sky looks like one of those long winter storms. Still warm, however. Battalion drill this P.M. Dress Parade postponed on account of the rain. Wrote to Mrs. Anst Ogdensburg N.Y. I also wrote to Sherman Crandall. Indications of a move of men of our corps as a body. We dread Petersburg.
Last night had orders to be ready to move at 7 O.C. A.M. today. It only broke my rest for a few minutes. I went to sleep again. We packed up with rather heavy hearts and started for the R.R. station four miles below Winchester. We could not take our pack animals on the cars with us, so we took what things we wanted for a few days with us and then sent the rest by the "overland" route, as we called it. We had rather a cold ride on the cars (box cars) but lots of fun.
Arrived at the Capitol a little after sunrise, although we are feeling rather as though we were wronged in being sent away from the Valley. Still, the joyful nature of a soldiers' disposition has overcome the feelings which tend to make them despond. They are now making lots of fun--fine lusty-limbed fellows. I wonder how many of those sturdy chaps will live to see Washington again.
Our Brigade were all embarked by one P.M. Brigade Head Quarters was on our boat the "Matilda". Besides our Regiment, the 10th Vermont Volunteers was on board. We left the wharf by 2 P.M. I stood at the bow pointing out the various places of interest to the rest who were less acquainted with the notorieties. Farewell Washington, with your magnificent public buildings, palatial residences of your aristocracy, your rich upper ten, and poor "lower thousand", your churches and haunts of iniquity, your sirens and your vices. When shall we see you again? We are bound on an expedition where hard knocks will be more plenty than good times. I was detailed as "officer of the day" to keep things in order on the boat.
[Note: Abiel sounds a bit more mindful of the statistical hazards of war than at some points in the past. Possibly a bit depressed, though it has inspired him to a rather lyrical flight of rhetoric.]
Found ourselves going up James River this morning. Arrived at City Point at 10 A.M. Disembarked and moved up on the hill. Here we stacked arms and waited for the cars. While waiting, I found George Battersby. He belongs to the sanitary commission. Ezra Rounds (sister, you remember his likeness?) he has charge of the 9th Corps Commission. They wanted me to come down and stay all night with them, if the Division stayed here all night. We built fires at dark. The officers of the Regiment all got together at one end of a large wood pile and built a rousing big fire. We laid down near it and had lots of fun.
Took the cars by 8 P.M. for the front. Went up 15 miles and got off in the rear of the 5th corps, whose position in the line we are to occupy. We were short of blankets and tents as they are with the packs. The ground [was] wet, so we built up a large fire of pine boughs. The sparks in millions were soon flying high above the tallest trees. Our men cut down some trees and, breaking bushy boughs from them, soon made us a good bed to spread our blankets on. Then, after taking a drink to keep the rheumatism away, we laid down with our feet to the fire and faces to the sky, and went to sleep amid much more comfortable circumstances than one would have thought possible when we first came up.
Lieutenants Cox and Moor and seven men were left behind in Washington. They left the boat and did not get back in time to start with us. It was not right for them to leave.
[Note: I'm guessing "our men" who made up the brush beds may have been the officers' servants? Or would they be coming behind with the baggage train? I have no idea whether Abiel would have come back to the same servant he had before his leave, or whether they would have been rotated around as needed. We only had the one reference to "Mr. Griffis" by name and no sense that Abiel related to his servant as an individual, so we may not be given any clues on this point.]
Five months ago today we left this place for "My Maryland" with light joyful hearts. Since then we have lost in battle 12 officers and some 250 men. Still we hate to return to this place where our losses were not nearly so great. We stayed there until after dark when, just as I had laid down, the order came to move. To pack up was a short job and we were soon under way. We moved about a mile, which brought us on to the ground of the 2nd Division 5th Corps. They were not to move until daylight, so we had orders to make ourselves comfortable where we were. We spread our blankets on the hard Parade Ground and without fir[e] slept very comfortably even if it was the 6th day of winter. [Note: I'm emending "fir" to "fire" on contextual grounds, but given the mention of making up pine bough beds previously, the may not be as much of a no-brainer as it appears.]
Up and breakfasted at daylight. Did not move into our quarters until two hours after, at which time it had been raining for half an hour. The quarters into which we moved were nearly as good as those we left in the Valley. They were not quite finished yet, however. I forgot to mention that one of our new Colonel's 2nd Lieutenants arrived while we were waiting at Harpers Ferry. None of our companies were large enough to muster a 2nd Lieutenant, so this one had to shoulder his gun as a private! When we were on the boat, I saw him standing among the men and looking pretty sad, so I got him to go up in my state room and occupy one of the berths. I could see he was unused to the society in which he was thrown and felt sorry for him. Rained until after dark, then cleared off. I am stopping with Lieutenants Chilrton and Hepburn until my baggage comes down.
Morning broke fair. We were up and under arms at daybreak, merely as a precautionary measure. Pretty cold in the A.M., but warm after sunrise. At work on our new quarters. Mine are very good, but I have nothing to cover it with yet. Nothing of importance transpired today. We have not heard of the 5th Corps yet. It was sent yesterday on some movement to the left. What it was, of course, we do not know.
Very cold, looks like snow. At M. [i.e., noon] the Strike Tents was sounded and we were soon ready for anything. We got out in line two hours before dark. We did not leave the camp ground until nearly dark. Very cold standing around so long, trying to keep ourselves warm. Moved out beyond our left flank towards the South Side Railroad. Found one Division of the 2nd Corps on picket there. They had been out four days. Our force consisted of the 1st and nearly all the 3rd Divisions of the 6th Corps: a Division of Cavalry and three Batteries of Artilary. We moved on beyond the 2nd Corps and about 9 P.M. camped in a bitter North East wind blowing.
Before we could make fires and get supper, a cold sleet commenced falling, so our prospect for the night was anything but inviting. Still all was not so bad. My servant put up a shelter tent, then at the back he piled some cedar brush and in front built up a huge fire in front. Then spreading our blankets down in it for a floor, it was quite comfortable. Soon, my supper consisting of fried pork, hot coffee, hard tack, and butter was set before me and I was soon immused [?] in deep thought and supper. [Note: the contextual sense of "immused" is clear but I'm not entirely certain what word Abiel is aiming for here. Possibly "immersed"?]
As I sat gazing into the fire and listening to the damp wind soughing through the waving pine tops--and occasionally giving an eye or ear to the groups of soldiers sitting around their blazing bivouac fires, wrapped in their blankets, smoking and chatting with as much unconcern as if they were surrounded by the most favorable circumstances in the world--I could not help remarking to my self, what a happy nature a soldier is blessed with! I also wished for a moment that my friends in old Allegheny could get a glimpse of my present surroundings. Then I took it back, for fear it would spoil their night's rest. Shortly after, I laid down and was soothed to sleep by the crackling fire at my side and slept very comfortably all night. My servant kept the fire going.
Saturday, December 10th
On waking this morning, I found two inches of snow, an inch of water, and six inches of mud. Very agreeable for us to be sure! After an early breakfast, we moved into line of battle, sent the Cavalry to the front, stacked arms in the snow, and kept ourselves warm until after noon. We could hear cannonading away off to the left, probably the 5 corps engaged. About 3 P.M., considerable firing was heard at our front. (I afterwards learned it was the Cavalry coming in and discharging their carbines to have them empty.) Then we got the order to move back to camp where we arrived an hour before dark. [Note: the reference to "discharging their carbines to have them empty" seems to answer my earlier question about the purpose of firing off guns.]
We went to work putting up our houses, but that was soon stopped by an order that we were to move again. After dark, we moved half a mile, up to near Fort Keen, and went into some miserable quarters, all mud and snow and not room enough for all the men. Remonstrance was useless, so we took them "as they were" and put our shelters over them. Hardly had this been done when an order came around to have the men ready to move at a moment's notice. Lots of swearing, but no good. Pack up they did, and then we stayed all night after all. I slept very cold and was up and about nearly all night. Moving around through the slush today has made me nervous.
A good breakfast this morning makes me feel much better. Thaws a very little today, no orders to move so far. I must write to sister. We have had no mail since we have been here, owing to some unaccountable reason. When one comes, I expect some letters and others. There is a rumor in camp, which I can trace to no reliable source, that this division is ordered back to the Valley, as Early has set Sheridan back. This I do not believe, although it gives the boys a good deal of satisfaction to contemplate such a possibility, for they all disliked very much to leave the place where their principal laurels have been gained.
Most of the troops on this line have erected cantonments for themselves so as to keep themselves comfortable as possible, but they cannot work with the feeling that they are to enjoy them long, for too much uncertainty envelopes all our movements at present. So they do not take as much pains as they would otherwise. Were we sure of staying we would soon have good quarters that we should not be ashamed to bring our wives and sisters to look at.
LETTER Head Quarters "I" Company 106th New York Volunteers
Near Fort Keen, Virginia, Sunday 11th December 1864
My Dear Sister,
I have as yet received no letter from you since I have been here, but this is in all probability owing to the fact that we have received no mail since I have been here. That is, not since you could have answered my other.
The old 6th Corps is soldiering in earnest again: marching, countermarching, skirmishing, sleeping in the open air, and so on. Such is life as a soldier. We know not one minute what will befall us the next. Running around the country seems to be the order of day, but when it comes to marching through the cold slush--which we have for the past two days--why it is pretty cold work.
How is the weather up there? Pretty cold, I suppose. Baby stands it well, I hope. Have you heard from father yet? How is mother and the rest of the family this cold weather? For I am sure it must be cold there.
What is the gossip of the place? Is anybody talking about my being partial to white stockings and long dresses? If they are, just tell them, they are my sentiments on the subject. As long as Janey and you agree with me, I don't care so much for the rest.
Yours in love,
A. T. LaForge
Sunday December 11th 1864
This evening Captain Briggs and Lieutenants Cox and Moore, with 13 recruits and 20 Convalescents, came into camp tonight. They left Washington day before yesterday, stayed two nights on the boat. Cox and Moor were left by accident, they say, in the city, but had a pretty good time. [Note: see Abiel's previous comments on Cox and Moor's absence. His "they say" suggests that he's still suspicious of how accidental it was.]
I slept very cold last night. I gave Cox my bed and slept in Shaw's tent on the ground. It was extremely cold and I almost froze. Tonight he must look out for himself, for I can't afford to freeze. The day has been very cold. Ice has formed over an inch thick. Pretty cold for such houses. No mail.
Wrote to Government Claim Agent Johnson. Still very cold. No thaw. Captain Robinson came back from home today, bringing with him our new battle flag with him. It was made by a firm in New York. It is of blue silk, with the U.S. Coat of Arms in the center. The names of the battles in which we have been engaged are formed on it with yellow silk thread. They are: Fairmont, Martinsburg, Wapping Heights, Culpepper, Kelleys Ford, Locust Grove, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Monocacy, Winchester, Fishers Hill, Cedar Creek. Also the Wilderness. Some are not mentioned. This is, I think, as good a record as most regiments can show. These are only the names of the pitched battles; skirmishes are not mentioned. The flag cost over four hundred dollars, $400.37. We expect the flag will be formally presented to the regiment tomorrow, if nothing prevents. Had Brigade Dress Parade tonight.
The wind is from the South today and its moderating effects on the weather is felt by us all. The flag presentation did not take place. Tomorrow will see the event, I believe. We drew some clothing, of which the men were very much in need. Did not get all we wanted. Wrote to Miss Annie Porter.
Detailed for picket. Went out. Found our line ran within 400 yards of the Johnnies. It looks strange to see two lines of men, composed of men from two hostile armies, thus pacing up and down in front of each other as quietly as if deadly hate was not rancoring in the bosom of each for the other. The Rebs seemed to feel very sociable today. They came out of their lines shaking papers (the sign that they want to exchange papers, also tobacco, for coffee). Our boys were not allowed to go out to them, as our orders are very strict not to have any communications with them.
This P.M. a few shots were exchanged. One of our men was shot through the body. He had went out beyond the dead line and was shot by Mr. Rebs for it. There is a kind of understood truce between our men and the Johnnies not to fire on each other unless they pass beyond a certain line. Our boys were getting rather careless, which was the cause of the man's being shot.
Down on the left of our Division line, the Rebels breastworks come within three hundred yards of our picket line. I went out there and stood for some time, watching the enemy away off on the hills to their rear. I could see their entrenched camps gleaming in the light of our December Sun. Woe be unto us, I thought, if we have to butt against those fortifications. When I came back, I got some of the men on the reserve post which I command to put me up a pine bough bower. This they done in pretty good style, so that Captain Robinson (who is Division officer of the day) and I will be pretty apt to sleep with considerable comfort tonight.
Friday. December 16th
Another very warm pleasant day. I went into camp this morning to get my breakfast. The men are at work putting up new Shanties and making themselves comfortable. I found a letter for myself from Mrs. Annie Wallace full of kind expressions and very pleasant indeed. It is now evening and I sit down by the light of my blazing campfire to finish the record of the day.
The Rebs have been very uneasy for some reason, firing at our boys without any reason sometimes. But as soon as night set in, they ceased firing, and every thing on the lines are as quiet as if two powerful armies bent on each others destruction did not lay within hearing of each other. Behind us, within sight, our camps stretch away to the right and left. They are now full of the music of hundreds of brass bands, which we can hear as far to the right and left as the ear can reach. I can distinctly hear the band of the 106th playing their favorite pieces. How carelessly they lay there, depending on the eyes and ears, which stretch from the Army of the James away up in front of Richmond about three miles to the left of us, a line nearly 40 miles long. Verily this is an extensive picket line. I wonder what my sister would say to see me preparing to lay down with sword and pistol buckled on. But such is picket duty. We live in constant expectation of an attack, so have to be ready to spring to our feet in a second.
Had the men all under arms at 5 A.M., as that is the time the Rebs choose for their attacks. Captain Robinson, who came out as officer of the day, sent in to be relieved as he was sick. Captain Briggs came out early this A.M. to relieve him. One of the soldiers who was killed the 12th of last August, but not buried until Sept 5th, was taken up today. I think [it] is very foolish to remove a body after once being buried, It can be but little satisfaction for his friends to see the disgusting mass humanity becomes after burial. This man was the son of Dr. Johnson of Baltimore Maryland. Many soldiers, both Union and Confederate, lie buried around us in the woods, and the trees and shrubs bear evidence of the fierce conflict which was waged here for the possession of the Weldon Rail Road. One of the trees which stands near my "Sylvan Bower" was struck over 30 times, and it is but a type of the rest. Not one is here but has been hit lots of times.
Last night, an Irishman deserted from the Rebs and came over to us. He was so scared he could hardly tell us anything. He belongs to the 19th Mis[sissippi] Regiment Hills Corps. His mother lives in Boston. We sent him to Corps Head Quarters. The Rebs followed him close to our lines. Rather cold tonight.
Commenced raining a little after daylight. Cold wind from the North. We were relieved at 9 A.M. Came into camp, got a wagon, and sent out and got the timber for my house. The boys are at work putting it up. Lieutenant Cox and I are going in together. Hope we will have as fine a time as before. Quite warm yet. No word from our baggage.
Pleasant warm day. The 106th is acting as picket reserve and we have to be up at 5 A.M. every morning until we have served our time at it. Very warm and pleasant, considering it is the middle of December. The men turn out and work like bees at their cantonments. They wear no coats and none are needed, it is so warm. Battery "M", which was with us up in the Valley, came to us this afternoon. Our trains probably will be here in a day or two. I wrote to Sister and George Batersby, the latter is at City Point.
Head Quarters "I" Company 106th New York Volunteers, December 19th 1864
My Sister & Friends,
I wish you a "Very merry Christmas" to commence with, as I suppose this will reach you about the time you are celebrating that time-renowned holiday. Your fireside is not like many in the land--one of mourning for some near and dear friend who has been lost in the tide of battle--but on the contrary, one of joy, for God has preserved your circle of loved ones from death, although they may be scattered far and wide over the land. For this, I join you in thanking our great Preserver.
If nothing happens, I shall spend my Christmas in a new house. My boys are building one for me. They split pine logs, then cut them about seven feet long. These they stand on one end in a trench side by side and [the back of the letter either did not copy well or was poor to begin with and has not been transcribed.]
[New page of diary duplicates entries for Dec. 18th and 19th.]
Relieved and came in from picket at 9 A.M. Commenced raining a little after daylight, not much. One hundred guns was fired from our right, in honor of the late successes under Thomas and Sherman. I commenced work on my shanty today. The Chaplain came around where we were at work and I asked him if it was wrong to do necessary things on the Sabbath?
"Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might," said he, and walked off.
So I continued at the work, or rather superintending it.
The news from the West is glorious. Thomas is driving the enemy before him, "Like the hare before the beagle". The Union horizon looks brighter than it has for many days. Captain McBroom returned to the regiment from Camp Rendezvous of Distribution. He reminds me that Sergeant Beaugureau's time is nearly out, so if I want a letter to reach him at Camp I must write soon.
The flag presentation has not yet came off. The officers are delaying it until they have a house finished for Regiment Head Quarters so that they can have a kind of spree after it is over, I suppose. I wrote to George Battersby, U.S.S. Commission, and to Captain H. Burrows, General Banks' Staff today. Looks like rain, and a rain is sure to bring on cold weather now.
Raining this morning when I woke up. Rained until M. [i.e., noon] then began to grow cold and is now freezing. I have drawn clothing this month on the 14th, 18th, and 21st inst[ance]s. C. Snyder 1st Lieutenant got a leave of absence for 15 days and left for Washington this M. The Quarter Master is going down to City Point to see if our baggage has come, and to bring it up if it has. He will do his best, I warrant.
Froze up hard last night, very cold today. I have been here now nearly a month. Have written home three times, and as yet not had a word in reply. I think I shall stop writing until I learn whether there is anybody to reply to my letters. I confess I feel rather vexed that I can get plenty of letters from every other place but from those I most desire to hear from. I don't see what is the matter. I wrote to Beaugureau. I think he will get my letter before he leaves camp. Very cold.
Still very cold. The report is that the 8th Corps is here from the Valley and that the 9th Corps is shipping for this place also. If such is the case, I rather think General Grant will soon be trying to see if he can't induce General Lee to let go his hold on Petersburg. Once set back from here and Richmond, and I believe we could keep him running. The Quarter Master has returned from City Point. Our baggage has not came yet, nor any news of its coming yet. I was up at Head Quarters and a tremendous cheer was set up by the 2nd Corps. We learned that it was caused by a deserter's coming in and saying Savannah had fallen. Our rations are very short. The men have scarcely enough to eat. [Note: Savannah surrendered to General Sherman on December 20.]
Still cold. An official report came down that Sherman had captured Savannah, with General Harde and between 15 and 18 thousand prisoners. This is a most gratifying report. I hope it may prove true. Things look bright. Wrote to Mrs. Wallace.
Sunday December 25, 1864
Christmas Day has passed off very quietly, much more so than it would have done had our men received their pay for the last two months. As it was, they had very little money and temperance was forced upon them. How few among the thousands who have celebrated this holiday have given serious thought to the manner of its origin? A painful meaning, and still a hopeful one it has for the Christian believer.
The recent cold weather has had the effect of cooling off the loyalty of the rebel soldiers to their government. They are deserting to our lines in large numbers daily.
Received a letter from my sister. Also one from Uncle John. It was enclosed in the one from sister, but she made no comments upon it, although there was several subjects which I know she must have objected to. Uncle, I am afraid, is a little Copperheadish in his views, as he opposes the administration somewhat. I received communications from the Ordnance Office that my returns for Companies "I" and "F" had been received and found correct. Have not touched a drop of liquor today. Only smoked twice. [Note: The Copperheads were a political party in the north that opposed the war.]
Wrote to Perry Potter last night. Letter will not go until tonight. I have had my house finished and gave the boys a canteen of whiskey for their work. I could move in now, if my tents were only here, but they are still up to Washington. Lieutenant Snyder writes that they are loaded and the boat froze in below Washington, so of course we will not get them for some time yet.
I reduced 1st Sergeant Hungerford to Sergeant and promoted Sergeant Wilder in his place. I also reduced Sergeant Munroe to the ranks for his long continued absence and promoted Corporal Cook in his place, and promoted private Labrake to Corporal in Cook's place. The officers are going to work in dead earnest to keep Colonel Barney--who is one of Seymour's creatures--and his officers from coming to the regiment. If we can only succeed in keeping them away until Fenton takes the Gubernatorial chair, we can get new commissions in their place. Then getting commissions for the field officers creates a "pisen difficulty" ["poison difficulty"?] in our regiment. There is too much confounded jealousy, what with officers who want to jump others--and others who don't want to [be] jumped. They succeed in keeping themselves in hot water. The probability is that Captain Briggs, who now commands the regiment, will recommend Major McDonald and himself for Lieutenant Colonel and Adjutant Robinson for Major. This last, Captains McBroom and Robinson object to being jumped by, and Adjutant is not what they like.
Rained last night and some to day.
[Note: I'm having a little trouble following the details of the promotion politics described here. But the general sense is that favoritism in promotions is causing disgruntlement at all levels of the regiment.]
Rained some last night, but pleasant today. Just got my house all ready to move in, and tonight the order has came for us to move out and give place to the 67 P[ennsylvania] V[olunteers]. We go to the camp we went into when we first came here. Well, there is no use of swearing. If there was, I am very much afraid I should indulge.
General Seymour, Commanding Division, has issued orders that all men and officers must wear the proper badges. The men must wear caps and non-commissioned officers must wear the proper chevrons, and commissioned officers must wear their proper insignia of office. Any found disobeying these orders will be at once arrested and tried by court martial. All this is very good, but when he comes to moving us about without any apparent reason, although they must be obeyed, still we murmur some. Having to move just as we should be at work on our rolls too, makes it worse.
The sun set beautifully to night. Looks as if we should have a pleasant day tomorrow. I came near forgetting to mention that an order came for us to recommend our enlisted men, who have distinguished themselves for bravery, for badges of honor. But our boys are all so brave that we could not recommend some without doing injustice to others, so we sent up the names of none.
Moved camp at 8 A.M. Considerable swearing. Found quarters enough to crowd the men into for one night. Lieutenant Cox and I took one of his company shanties until we could build a new one, which the boys are willing to do for us. Our baggage came this P.M. and I have been at work on my company accounts until the present moment 10 P.M. Had a letter from Mrs. Green thanking me for getting blanks sent her from Washington to enable her to get the monies due her husband from the U.S. Government. Commenced raining while we were on Brigade Dress Parade. Has rained considerable since.
Have been at work on Payrolls nearly all day. Very cold tonight. Cox and I feel very much at home in our own house--much better than living with anybody else. The Adjutant and Lieutenant Chilton each got 20 day leaves today. They will not start home until Monday, on account of muster days being so close at hand. I shall work quite late so as to get the rolls done for the Adjutant to take to Washington.
My boys are again at work making me a new shanty. I wonder if I shall have to leave it like the other. At work most of the day on the Rolls. Sent my Quarter Master Returns for June and July to Washington. Received a letter from Captain Burrows of Banks' Staff. The young ladies he and I visited while I was in the city send their respects to me. Very kind! I was detailed tonight as a member of a court martial, which commences its sittings next Monday. I expect to get some valuable information while a member of it. A detail for me to act as brigade Officer of the Guard tomorrow. Looks like rain. I'll bet I have a bad day for duty. Nothing uncommon for the time of year.
[Note: Abiel being appointed to serve on the court martial will have significant consequences for the remainder of his life, though the precise nature of the connection is susceptible to debate. I'll discuss it further when the time comes.]
Rained A.M. and sleet (very cold) P.M. Old Tom came from Washington with the mule he has got. Our Billy is here all right now, and we cannot keep him after all. Too bad entirely I vow. [Note: I'm not sure I have the preceding sentence parsed correctly. The transcription has essentially no punctuation. Is "Billy" also a mule? Who is Old Tom? Who exactly is it that they can't keep after all? Mysteries abound.]
Could not finish my shanty today, it was so cold. Finished the rolls, and had monthly inspection, and were mustered for pay. My Pay Rolls were the first finished.
My duties as Brigade Officer of the Day have been very light. I cannot help feeling a little vain to learn, as I did today, that my bravery at Winchester was a subject of comment among the officers of the Regiment for a long time. It has been told to others and I find I am considerably known by reputation.
Our usual quiet was disturbed this morning by the Rebs making a dash on our picket line and capturing some of our men. It was before daylight and people thought there was a general attack. Lieutenant Cox rolled over me and said the Rebs were making an attack on us. I listened a moment, made up my mind it was not much, and composed myself to sleep again, as I did not go to bed until late last night. One of the Rebs deserted to our lines and says Lee intends to astonish the world by an attack on our lines tomorrow morning. He will astonish me if he does it.
Received letter from Annie Porter. Answered it.
[Note: There's a part of me that takes satisfaction in Abiel's own satisfaction at having his leadership recognized. Why shouldn't he be "a little vain"?]