The biggest take-away from this set of entries is how meaningless a lot of the on-the-ground action must have seemed to the average soldier. Move here, move there, engage, retreat, end up back where you started a week ago with nothing obvious to show for it except casualties. Abiel sometimes makes comments that address issues of larger strategy, so I suspect he was constantly aware of the importance of even those "meaningless" manoevers. The level of detail he sometimes records from active engagements is startling. It really gives a sense of how lucky any specific individual was to survive the entire war.
The Diary and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge 1842-1878
[PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING ARE COPIED FROM THE ORIGINALS. EDITORIAL COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.]
I will commence my memorandum where it was suddenly terminated yesterday by an order from Brigade Head Quarters, again ordering me to take out and establish a picket line. Captain Parker of Company "F" was the senior officer on picket, but he kept himself in a safe place, leaving everything that required exposure to me.
Our batteries had already been engaged about half an hour with some force in our front--how large we did not know. I crossed the river with my pickets and at once found that I should have to fight for a posish [i.e., position--I just love Abiel's "posish" so much I'm going to keep leaving it in place], so I moved my men to a knoll where we slightly infiladed the reb pickets, and giving them a few shots we gained a starting point. I then deployed my men as fast as possible under fire, conducting them on the run through a corn field where our flank was constantly reciving the reb fire. I would leave a man at every two rods, who would at once commence returning the fire. We ran in a stooping posture, so as to gain all the concealment possible from the corn, which was 4-1/2 feet high.
Everything progressed favorably until about noon, when with my glass I could see a column of the enemy crossing the river 2 miles below us. This heavy force I saw would strike our line of battle on the flank and rear. Still I felt confident. Some of the men who came out in the morning with me were dead, others wounded, but we held our first position. The force which crossed the river soon came up and engaged our troops in such a manner that they came right behind my line on the left. I then bowed the left in, and finally had to recross the river to avoid capture. This was done by fording, as our troops had burned the bridge as a measure of safety. My men were careful to keep their ammunition dry.
A Reb Lieutenant Colonel captured at this time said that we had until an hour before been engaged with the Cavalry alone, but now the whole of Ewell's Army 30,000 strong had came up. Said he, "As near as I can find, you have but 6000 men," (which was the fact) "and unless you dig out of here you will rue it."
An hour after this, they charged our line and were finely repulsed, and held back for some time. Then they again charged with a double line of battle against our one, and with a line so long that it bowed arround both our flanks. Even then, our boys held them nobly for a long time. But mortal courage could not stand against such odds. They they gave way slowly at first, then rapidly, and finally ran. The retreat soon became a general rout. I rallied a few of the pickets and held our line for a few minutes, but they melted so fast that they could not be forced to remain in such a position.
I finally gave the order for the picket to fall back, and I took good care to be the last from the line. When I started, I ran as fast as possible, thus zigzaging for I found myself a mark for more of the enemy's sharp shooters than was at all comfortable. I had a brook to cross, several wounded men and dead also lay in it, their cries were piteous but no halt. I got across the railroad and here found some of our union troops, 8 or 10. I stopped to breathe and we determined to bother the Johnnies a little, and commenced firing at those who were fording the river and crossing the iron railroad bridge.
One of the men called my attention to a reb 300 yards distant who was running toward the river to cross. Bringing up his gun, he fired. The man went down. The "shot" at once commenced expressing the most extravagant joy, at the same time reloading. By this time, some of the enemy were in 30 feet of us. I had just aimed my revolver at the foremost when, looking back, I saw a lot of them in our rear. I thought my weapon might do better service fighting through them.
We all started on the retreat, going to the right of the enemy who were deploying to capture us. The bullets flew like hail stones. The boys fell all around me. I shall never forget the short, "Oh! Ah! Dear Me!" and such like exclamations which was all that gave us to understand that one of our number was wounded.
I overtook General Wallace's retreating column on the Baltimore Pike. The officers were making every effort to bring some order out of the chaos and even while rapidly retreating, the old veterans formed in column so as to resist any further demonstration the enemy could make. On through New Market we came. No halt at dark for making coffee, but those that had hard tack divided with their comrades and they ate as they walked. At 2 OC this morning, a rest of an hour was ordered, but the men were so fatigued that they could go no farther, so they were allowed to lay until daylight, when the retreat was resumed.
What misery the men have endured today: feet sore as boils, tired, hungry, but above all defeated. Still no murmering. We have finally reched Ellicotts Mills, 36 miles from the scene of action, and are now bivouacked in a beautiful wood for a rest and I think probably to stay all night.
My dear sister,
Do not think by the date of my letter that I shall send it today, for I shall not have a chance for a week perhaps. When I do, I will add more and forward it. My object in writing tonight is the romance of the fourth, and also to answer the questions propounded in your last, lest I might forget them, as I have to burn your letter as fast as received for want of transportation for them.
First I am in command of the company because the captain was captured on May 6th at the battle of the Wilderness. The 1st Lieutenant went home on a furlough last March and forgot to return. The 2nd Lieutenant was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor June 1st, so I am not only in command but also the only officer in the company. My Company properly is "F", being however that there was already two officers present with that company, I was placed in command of co "I".
My pay is now $108--rather higher than before, you see. Out of this I must buy my provisions, clothing, and arms. One dollar a day pays for grub in the field. In camp it would be more, as we could get more to buy. So I have a little more than $2.50 per day for other purposes.
Saturday July 9th: According to promise, I finish my letter to you, but in a far different place from what I had anticipated. We are now about 4 miles from Frederick, Maryland and I am sitting on the bank of the Monocacy River. And delighted is every man in the command to be able to breathe the pure mountain air of these regions again. The Loyal Citizens of Frederick were glad to see us come marching into town. They thought that the very name of the Veterans of the Army of Potomac was sufficient to protect them. What must have been their feelings last night when, to save ourselves from capture, we had to abandon the city, which was soon occupied by the enemy. I grieve at their disappointment.
I will not finish this letter until night as we are likely to have a brush with rebs just now and I shall want you to know the result.
Monday July 11th 1864: Ellicotts Mills, 10 miles from Baltimore.
Dear friends, by the blessing of God I am spared to finish this letter. Immediately after closing this Saturday I was detailed to go on duty as officer of the picket. This was 9 A.M. The enemy attacked at that hour and from that time until nearly sundown we were engaged in in a battle as obstinately fought as any of the war. We, however, were pitted against such fearful odds that the defeat which I sorrowfully chronicle can be considered no disgrace to our brave Division. By reading my mem[orandum]'s, which I enclose, you will get a faint idea of the fearful nature of the struggle. Amid such dreadful carnage it seems almost impossible that any person could escape unharmed as I did, and for which I feel truly thankful. The fertile fields of the Monocacy must have been satiated with human gore, and her waters was discoloured with the life blood of many heroes who will know no other grave than that afforded by her cool wave, which is today gently caressing their marble brows.
Prisoners report the Rebs 30,000 which would make them over five to our one. Still we held them back for eight long hours in spite of all they could do. This I consider a tribute to the bravery of the Division, which may well make them feel proud. I cannot describe my heart-sickness when, after such a resistance, we had to give way. And the last rays of the setting sun saw our routed and retreating army flying across the Maryland Hills. I must abruptly close on account of duty. Much love to all,
DIARY Monday 18th
Halt of the 6th Army Corps in Snickers Gap Shenandoah Mountains. Of this halt I take advantage and shall write up my neglected memoranadum. Also, if I have time, write to sister. I wrote a letter to Miss Porter at Baltimore and have it in my pocket yet, not having had a chance to mail it. On Sunday 10th, our brave but defeated little army under General Wallace reached Ellicotts Mills, 10 miles west of Baltimore, were marched into a beautiful grove near the town, and camped. My servant, who had been behind and was I feared captured, came up with my provisions and blankets. The arrival of the three gave me much comfort, both mentally and physically. Remained all night, luxuriously sleeping among the thick leaves and obtaining in large doses the much needed rest, after two days of excessive fatigue.
On Monday 11th George Powell, Lieutenant of "K" and I went down to the village without our shoulder straps--we never wear them on a campaign--and had a deal of attempting to make the liquor venders believe we were officers. They were prohibited from selling to privates, and insisted on classing us among that order, probably having never seen officers just from the battlefield before. We were looking rather rough. We went into a place for a glass of ale. T'was "no go" "we were not officers, could not sell them" &c. were our only replies. While we were parleying, an officer in full uniform came in with whom I had been an picket at Monocacy. I laughingly told him my difficulty. He soon set matters right by explaining to "mine host" that it was not the style of the officers of the Army of the Potomac to put on many airs or extras, and most of them dressed the same as privates. After this, I got what I wanted. [Note: This item would seem to contradict my previous speculations on Abiel's shifting attitude toward alcohol. Interesting.]
I also got some lime water to dress my face, which had been badly burned by a fellow spattering red-hot grease upon it--accidentally of course--the day before. Three hours before sundown broke camp and started for Baltimore. The Quarter Master stores in town could not be saved. There was danger of their falling into the hands of the enemy, so they were destributed gratuitously to the men. Proceeded to Baltimore by rail. Arrived after dark and bivouacked near the upper Baltimore and Ohio railroad depot. Remained there all night and all [The transcript breaks off here with no indication of illegibility so it may be that Abiel stopped writing in the middle of a sentence.]
Tuesday 12th: Lieutenant Powell and I went into town and got some Ice cream and cake.
Wednesday 13th: Moved arround to the North side of the city and camped in a beautiful situation in Druid Hill Park, where we luckely found plenty of boards to put our selves up in good shape. Captain Robertson and I went through the park on an exploration trip, pitching into all sorts of out of the way places, discovering all that was admirable, and lamenting that war should make it necessary to desecrate such holy quiet by the clash of arms. In the afternoon the blanks came from the Ordnance Office and I at once went to work making out my ordinance report. This has to be done four times a year, when a full account has to be given of all arms and accoutrements, and Ordnance Stores that have been in our possession since last return. Every officer in the service has to make this return. This afternoon, communication between here and Washington by a body of Rebel Cavalry which has passed on towards Annapolis.
Thursday 14th: At M. [i.e., meridian = noon] took cars for Washington, as communication had been opened again and the railroad repaired. The enemy did but little damage, merely burning a few cars and cutting down some telegraph poles, tearing up a few rails etc. Arrived at Washington just before sundown, disembarked from the cars, took supper at the Soldiers Rest, camped near there.
Next morning, Thursday 15th: Breakfasted at Soldiers Rest then marched to Georgetown by way of Pennsylvania Avenue. The citizens received our scarred veterans with demonstrations of joy. I saw many of my old acquaintances in the city and had many gay salutes from all sides. The Division gave three cheers for Lincoln as we passed the White House. Bivouacked near Tennally town until 4 P.M. then marched about six miles further towards Poolsville, then stopped for the night in a field of tall timothy. What luxury to streatch out on that soft bed of grass!
Saturday 16th: Very hot. Still we made a long hard march, fording the Potomac near Edwards Ferry. The men were allowed to take off their clothes and carry them on their heads while fording. The water came up to their breasts, and was 1/4 of a mile wide. It was decidedly a strange spectacle to see 5000 men with their lower person naked and the upper clothed, marching down the sloping bank on one side and wading across in a long line four abreast, emerging on the other side, then marching in that garb 1/2 a mile and fording a branch of the river before dressing. Some young ladies came from the farmhouses around to watch the troops cross, but when they saw the primative garb which was to be worn during the operation, they concluded to retire, out of sight of us at least.
It was dark before the whole Division was across. Still the route for Leesburg, seven miles distant, was taken up. Three miles through the heat and dust we went, and at rapid marching to this, occasioned many men who were footsore and thoroughly exhausted to fall, and finally convinced the General that he would have but few men with him if he continued on, so a "Halt for the night" was commanded. I was very much fatigued. My servant was not up either with my blanket overcoat or provision, so I put my rubber arround me and threw myself on the ground already wet with dew, and was soon fast asleep. My repose was of short duration however, for I awoke with the cold and slept but little thereafter.
Sunday 17th: On towards Snickers Gap, passing through Leesburg, a pretty little city nestling cosily among the hills of London County, something like Elmira New York on a much smaller scale. Stoped near the town for dinner, then marched some three miles farther and joined the rest of the 6th corps, which had arrived on the ground by another route the day berore. The Chaplain of one of the regiments preached a sermon in the grove where the Brigade was bivouacked. It was decidedly impressive, to see the weather bronzed veterans of many a hard campaign gathered around beneath the royal old oaks listening to the words of devotion put up by the man of God. Over the whole of them the ruddy glare of the camp fires was playing, and lighting up faces which showed no less interest in the words there spoken than in the words which had called them forth to do battle for their country.
Monday 18th: The whole corps took the road for the mountains. We have many evidences of the hasty manner in which the Rebs fled along this road: wagons burned to prevent their falling into our hand were scattered all along the route, dead mules and horses--swollen by the heat and looking horrible--interrupted us every little way. The smell too was awful. Our cavalry pressed them closely yesterday. We arrived at this place (Snickers Gap) about 11 A.M. and, as I before said, I take advantage of our halt to write up my mem[orandum]s. The Rebs are on the other side of the Mountain and a Division of Hunter's 8th Corps are close upon them.
DIARY Tuesday 19th
On picket East side of the Shenandoah. Crossed the Blue Ridge yesterday afternoon. When coming down the west side of the mountain, we could see a Division of the 19th Corps forcing a crossing at Snickers Ford. They were sharply engaged. Our corps marched to a posish where we had a splendid view of the engagement, being about three hundred feet above and 1/2 mile in rear of the combatants. One Division of the 19th got across but were driven by a splendid charge of the rebs back into the river again. When the enemy made that charge, battery after battery opened upon them, some of the shells bursting right in their ranks. Still they kept on nobly, and finally drove the 19th from a good posish behind a stone wall, and across the river. Those troops do not fight like the soldiers of the Grand Army. I should like to have seen those rebs attempt to drive a Division of the Army of the Potomac from that stone wall.
The Division just at dark received orders to sleep on their arms. At the same time, a regiment of one hundred days men, was being marched through a ravine in our rear to do picket duty below us on the river, when suddenly a reb battery 1-1/2 miles off commenced throwing shells at random in our direction. Several of these, all at once fell into the 100 days men doing considerable execution, and scattering them like chaff. Fortunately the enemy were not aware of the service their battery was doing and it soon ceased firing altogather. No 100 days regiment came to time for picket duty however, so the 87 P.V. and 106th N.Y. were detailed for that duty and a disagreeable time we had getting on post: wading streams and climbing fences, forcing our way through the underbrush etc. in the dark. However we are very comfortable just now. I slept very nicely on the porch of a mountain cabin last night. Feel none the worse for it now.
I do not know when I shall have an opportunity to send this letter to you, but as one may occur when least expected, I will have it ready. The life of a soldier is "constant change." If the saying "there is no rest for the wicked" applies only to sinners, then all this Grand Army must have a large account to settle. The order to "Forward" has just been given and I can write no more now.
Bank of the Shenandoah. July 18th
I will continue my epistle, from yesterday's interruption. In pursuance of the order which caused such an abrupt pause in my letter, we marched through the Gap, from the summit of which I obtained such a lovely view, such as one is allowed only once in a lifetime, during a halt on the top of the mountain. I ran off and, clambering up a cliff, succeeded in obtaining a m ... elegant position, for from this summit of the Blue Ridge could be seen the whole of the London Valley which we had just left, and much of the world-renowned Shenandoah Valley. In looking across the first, I could trace far back toward Washington the road pursued by the army in chasing the flying Johnnies. To the south-east, the view was interrupted by the Heights of Mannassas, however that part of the country I knew tolerably well. The particular charm lay in the Valley into which we were marching. Far off across the beautifully undulating plain could be seen the dim outlines of the Alleghanies. These lay to the north-west. To the North, the vision was abruptly terminated by the frowning fortified summits of Maryland Heights. Then looking to the south, I could follow the Valley far past Winchester, until its extension in that direction seemed to be suddenly stopped by a hill which had evidently been droped in there by mistake. That hill is what was once Stonewall Jackson's stronghold and was considered the key to the upper Valley.
Inside of these boundaries, all was loveliness: cities, hamlets, and cottages nestled cosily among the green hills, waving woods and meandering streams. To use one's eyes alone, all seemed peace and quiet. But the organs of hearing told another tale, for there came rolling back on the breeze, the boom of artillery and sharp crack of rifles. Already the advance guard of the army, which was slowly winding its way down the mountain, had met a defiant foe who felt disposed to dispute its farther progress.
One more look at the beautiful and historical plain from which it is our proud purpose to drive [the] foe, and I sprang down the cliff and hastened to join my company, which had passed on quite a distance. I refer you to my memoranadum for the description of the fight and the part which we took in it.
Last evening, when we came here to do picket duty in the place of the 100 day Regiment which ran away, we accidentally ran upon a lot of bee hives which had been hidden by their owner in the woods. The said owner and ourselves entered into an arrangement whereby five of the hives of honey pass into our hands on condition that we allow no more to be taken while we are here. We had a splendid honey supper--honey and hard-tack--on the strength of this dicovery. There was enough in the five hives for both of the regiments on duty here. When some other regiment comes out to relieve us, old secesh [note: I presume this is a shortened form of "successionist", referring to the hive owner] will loose more of his honey I presume.
We are on picket on the extreme right of the army on the South bank of the river, expect to move to night. Love to all,
DIARY Tuesday, July 19th, 1864
Our regiment with the 87 P.V. [possibly "Pennsylvania Volunteers"?] were on picket duty on the mountain roads to the right of Snickers Gap. The duty is very pleasant. There is a man lives here who has some 20 hives of honey. He gave us 5 hives last night on condition that we would put a guard over them and prevent any more being taken, which we did. We had all the honey we wanted. We officers also took supper and breakfast with the man, we had hoe cake, butter, rye coffee, and ham. There has been considerable firing along the river today but from the clouds of dust rrising along the roads back I should judge the main body of the enemy were falling back. [See this link for a recipe for Civil War era "rye coffee".]
DIARY Tennally Town D.C, Saturday July 23rd 1864 [Note: I'm guessing that this was all written up on the 23rd and that the interim dates are for documentary purposes. If so, quite a memory for detail!]
Last Tuesday night we were relieved from picket and marched back to the hill where we witnessed the fight of the 19 Army Corps the night before and bivouacked for the night.
Wednesday July 20th
About M. [i.e., noon] got orders for the route, were soon packed up and started. We crossed the Shanandoah at Snickers Ford by wading it--it was about two feet deep--then started on the pike for Berryville. After going a mile, a heavy thunder storm came up which gave us a most thorough wetting. We marched a mile in the rain then turned into the woods and waited for it to stop, which it did in about an hour. We still staid however. There was a lot of hogs in the woods and the boys went to shooting them and we soon had fresh pork enough for two days.
At eight, news was received that a heavy column of the enemy were approaching Washington, that those in our front had only fell back in order to draw us farther from that city, that nearly all those who had been before us two days before had went up the valley and recrossed the Blue Ridge at Ashby's Gap and were also marching for our city and had the inside track. The danger was eminent. [Note: I'm guessing that "imminent" is intended, but either would work!]
Our orders were that we should start for Washington and march night and day till we got there. What rations we had must last us the whole distance. We started on the return at 10 P.M., recrossed the Shanandoah and up through Snicker's Gap. We marched all night--it was bright moon-light. We would go about two hours then rest half an hour. We got to the place we started from the Tuesday before about 8 A.M.
Here we halted for breakfast then started on towards Leesburg. We passed through that city and went into camp on the East side of Goose Creek four miles East of the town at 2 P.M. having marched over 30 miles since starting the night before. This--with the men with pretty heavy loads and over the rough roads of the mountain, fording the Shanandoah twice, marching at night with a wagon train five miles long by our side to bother us--was accomplishing a miricle. This forced march gave us the inside track of the rebs so that we could be more leisurely in our movements hereafter. The Corps rested here until 4 O.C. A.M.
The 3rd Division, to which the 106th belongs, was detailed to guard the wagon train this day. We started at four OC. Our Division had one hundred wagons to guard, making ten for each company. I had ten. My men put their knapsacks and haversacks on the wagons and marched pretty easy today. I left the train once to go to a house and get a drink. When I was coming back, I ran on a blackberry patch, the like of which I never saw. They were large as plums, thick as cranberries, and sweet as sugar. I could have picked a bushel in half an hour. Of course it did not take long to fill myself, which I did to repletion, then joined the train. Ever since we have been up here we have had all the berries we could eat. There is plenty of them in all directions.
My boys caught five hens to make a soup of at night. We camped this night ten miles west of Chain Bridge. The boys have got a lot of cows and horses on the march, which they bring to the city to sell. [Note: "have got" here clearly means "stole from local farmers". We're seeing a lot of details of what it must have been like to be a Southern farmer in the path of this constant back-and-forth.] Some of them make a pile that way. The boys made their chicken soup, then we went into camp getting a lot of rye straw to lay on.
During the night I had a heavy chill, after that a hot fever so that this morning when I got up I could hardly stand. I could not eat, which is a prety sure sign of sickness in me. When the regiment fell in and started for this place, I staggered with weakness. It was evident I could not march. Captain Robinson had a pass to ride in the Ambulance. He gave it to me and I got into one and rode to the Chain Bridge.
We came through one or two little burgs the names of which I did not learn. Some of the country we passed through was very fine, but I did not take much interest in it. About a mile from the Bridge we came to a regiment of Veteran Reserves on duty. How mighty nice they looked with their straps all polished up and arms so bright and such enviable quarters! I almost wished I was in their places.
After we crossed the Bridge (Chain Bridge) they started the ambulances down to Washington. I asked where we were going. They said to the hospital, so I jumped out, as I could not see going to Hospital. We came up here to camp. I joined the Corps at the bridge. Our orders are to have inspection tomorrow, to send in for all the clothing, arms, and ammunition we want and to prepare ourselves for active duty in the field. I wonder what they call the duty we have been on.
The opinion appears to be that we are to go to Petersburg next week. Our Pay Rolls were brought up and the Paymasters say if we will have the Rolls signed they will pay us tomorrow morning. The Rolls will be signed. I have learned that Sergeants Campbell and Hawley whom I thought captured are up at Frederick City. The Orderly Sergeant however is captured and one private.
DIARY Near Georgetown. Sunday July 24th
The regiment was paid off today. Major Martin this P.M. said he could not pay me owing to some informality of the rolls. He showed me what it was but I could not see why he should not pay. I made up my mind if we stay here tomorrow I will take my retained roll down to the Pay Master General and ask him why I cannot be paid.
I received a letter from my sister today. All are well. Some of the boys have got considerable whiskey down them and are having a lively time of it. George Powell and I took a walk into the edge of Georgetown one and 1/2 miles from here. Came back pretty tired. I am feeling much better than I did yesterday.
DIARY Monday July 25th
Last night a heavy wind and rain came up and blew our tent down upon us. Lieutenant Powell and I sleep together. Our servants got up and fixed them and laid down, but the tents were down nearly as quick as they and so it kept them going. We succeeded in passing a rather uncomfortable night. We got up pretty early and about 8 O.C., although still raining, went down town. The first thing was to go to a bath house and take a good cleaning, then I went to Pay Master General and told him why Major Martin had refused to pay me. He said there was no reason why I should not be paid, and endorsed to that effect on the Pay Roll which I gave him. I went to Martin's office with it but found he was out to our Division paying. I saw Sergt Beaugureau and Hauser from camp. We went to Mitchell's and had a gay dinner, then I had a game of billiards with B[eaugureau]. We parted and I went to the A[ttorney] G[eneral] office and put my paper in for a discharge from the 85th New York Volunteers. Afterwards came back to camp. Major Martin had finished paying and gone back to the city so I did not get my $80.00 dollars.
DIARY Hyattstown Md. July 27th 1864
On the night of the 25th we got marching orders again to march early. The 26th we packed up ready but did not move til noon. Marched up the Frederick Pike to a mile west of Rockville. Here we bivouacked for the night in a little wood. This morning were up and started at 4 AM. Passed through Locksburgh about 11 AM, made a short rest, and then came on to this place which is about eleven miles from Fredricksburgh, and we will stay here all night. The wheat is harvest[ed] and is in the barns, the hay cut and stacked. Green corn plenty. Blackberries still abundant. Everything bears the appearance of peace and plenty, but what means the appearances of all these camp fires: a foe to conquer and [be] driven back.
DIARY Three miles west of Harpers Ferry. July 29th 1864
Marched up from Hyattstown through Urbana and bivouacked on the old Monocacy battle field where we arrived [Note: "where we arrived" is duplicated in the transcript, which I'm assuming is a transcription error and have deleted.] about M. [i.e., noon] the 28th. We went to looking for the body of Captain Hooker. The 1st New York Cavalry had dug trenches and burned our dead promiscuously in heaps. We knew where the body was left, however, and after considerable digging found his body. The only thing by which he could be recognised was his clothes and the wound through the head. His body was to be put in a rough coffin and again interred and word sent to his friends where to find him. We had to leave two men to perform the duty, as we were ordered away before we could finish it.
The corps proceeded to Jeffersonville about eight miles from Frederick. We forded the river in the same place I had to with the picket the day of the fight and, making a circuit arround Frederick, started for the mountains, which we had to cross before getting to our destination. It was dark before we got to them and the toil of marching over the mountain roads at night was immense. More than half the men gave out and stoped by the side of the road. At length, we reached the top and the men gave a cheer, as far below them on the plain in front was seen the camp fires of the Division which had crossed before us. We knew we should stop near them, hence the joy of the boys to see their journey's end.
We got down the mount and camped about 11 P.M. very tired. This morning (29th) we marched on up by the way of Petersville, Berlin, Sandy hook and Harpers Ferry. The week has been excessively hot and caused the men much suffering. No doubt as many as ten men have fell from sun stroke each day in this Brigade.
We are now lying in line of battle and dispositions have been made as though we were to be attacked. The rebs are reported eight miles from here. Maryland Heights are near enough to us to send shells from their 100 pounders over us. I dont see how it would be possible for any force to capture that place with its present fortifications. It must be imnpregnable. Strong works on the very top of a rugged mountain with heavy ordnance, lots of water and food, and a good garrison. They could defy the rebel army. I should like to have the chance to fight behind those works. As I have a chance, I will write to my sister tonight. Although I dont know when I shall have a chance to send it.
Through constant employment I have been prevented from writing to you on the usual day and it is while again on the march looking for the enemy that I take this opportunity. You will see by my memorandum that our programme is constantly changing. We are a flying army certainly. This is the third start we have made in this direction. Twice we have fell back to the capital only to start again. I hope we shall not have to go back so fast this time.
I saw the gentleman of whom I borrowed that money while I was in Washington. He said he sent you the order I gave him on the "13". If you have not got it, please tell Joseph to express the $75.00 seventy five dollars prepaid to Sergeant A. Beaugureau. "Chief Clerk" Rendezvous of Distribution Virginia and write me as soon .........sending me the Express [reverse of letter is very faint and only a few excerpts can be read] .......... the clothes I forgot ............ your letter of the 19th while on the march. I am glad you are so much ..... with the baby for as long as you .....................
.......................... to see if there was any .............. telegraph before I come home, so you can have a lot of them made up for me. Tell Miss Martha the Rebs are not so easy killed. They die hard, and not .... to work hard to get the advantage of .......... will do it after a while. ............ to Janey and Perry and tell the ..... I'd like to capture and send a contraband up to them to help at the farm. Give my love to the children also and all our friends. I have not got a letter from father since I came to the regiment. I must scold him. Supper is ready so goodbye for the present. Bijou
Dear sis. As I have some time before the mail goes out I will write you some more. I have just got a letter from father dated June 22nd. It has been laying at Rendezvous of Distribution for some time, which caused the delay. They were all well at that time. He is very bitter against John. C.--thinks he is telling me lies about him, which is reason I don't write. I have sent a letter to him disabusing his mind of any such idea. We are taking it cool just now, resting after our fatigue. The only firing I hear is some of the boys shooting pigs. Fresh meat will not be much of a luxury to me when I get home, for we get it nearly every day here. Pies will be, however. Love to all. [Note: the reference to "pies" leads me to guess that the illegible reference in the previous letter to "have a lot of them made up for me" might be to pies as well. Just a guess, though.]
A.T. La Forge
DIARY Camp near Harper Ferry July 30th 1864
We have had no orders to march yet but probably shall move today. We have just received our mail. I got a letter from father, one from John Clemence $10.00, one from W.W. Hibbard, one from O.L. Barney, all of which are well. It was very warm this morning but a fine breeze has sprung up now and cooled the air.
DIARY Head Quarters "I" Co. 106th New York Volunteers 1st Brigade 3rd Division 6th A. Corps July 29
Marched up to this place (Harpers Ferry) from Jeffersonville today, established our camp on the left of the road, [and] had orders to make ourselves comfortable for the night. Liutenant Powell and I went to a brook to remove from our persons the evidences of our dusty march. As we were coming back to camp, we learned that the Divisions had moved to the right of the road. We found them there in position for an attack, if one was made. It was a nice place to stay all night. We stoped here until about four P.M.
DIARY July 30th
News was received that the rebs had crossed the Potomac and marched on Chambersburg. The Army was at once started back towards Frederick. Our brigade was left as rear guard to move after all the trains had recrossed the river. We moved down to Bolivar so as to be inside the defenses of Harpers Ferry. Halted and word sent arround that we should have time to make coffee and sleep a little before the whole train was by. We laid down and slept all night. We did not move untill about 10 O.C.
DIARY July 31st Sunday
The officers were just going down town and leave me in command of the regiment as orders came to move. We got in line and moved across the Potomac on the pontoons and down through Sandy Hook, Knoxville, and Berlin. I never saw the men suffer so much with the heat. We were marching in a hollow--not a breath of air was stirring and the sun boiled down on our devoted heads in an awful manner. We had not went two miles before half the men had dropped out and the brigade had to be halted to allow them to come up. It was impossible to march, so the brigade was halted in a field to remain until an hour of sundown when the air became cooler and we marched on to Jefferson, where we arrived about 10 P.M. Here we received orders to make ourselves comfortable for the night.