from The Southbridge Journal, 22 Aug 1862 (Volume 2 #?), contributed by Mike Branniff
| Army Correspondence of the Journal
From The Fifteenth Regiment
Near Harrisons Landing
Mr. Editor: Yesterday we, as a Regiment celebrated the day we left Worcester. it was one year ago yesterday that we went through the streets of Worcester with full ranks in the Company and bid farewell to our numerous friends that had assembled to take a parting leave of us. One year ago! Ah, how swiftly time flys. One year ago little did we think that we would be where we are now. When we started we had the impression that we should be at home by New Years, enjoying the quit walks of life; but our impressions notwithstanding we have not conquered the rebellion…..we still have hopes. We….read the accounts on the manner in which our friends are coming forward from the good old Bay State to help us crush this wicked rebellion, all who can, say is come, come, and we shall soon have the satisfaction of seeing this thing ground asit were to powder. Therefore we say come.
Through Lieut. Col. Kimball, each Company received ten dollars to spend as we should see proper. Company I bought some lemons and sugar and made lemonade, with the residue cakes, cheese, &c. The day passed off pleasantly with us, and we are in hopes that one year hence we shall meet our friends at home, bearing the good tidings that this rebellion has been crushed.
As we look back upon the past year, and cast our reflecting minds over the various scenes of the………and tented fields, of the movements from point to point, of the battles and skirmishes that we have taken part in, when we review the past scenes, we are led to exclaim, thanks to an all wise providence, that has spared our lives thus far.
We have flour issued to each man daily, and we have no doubt if our mothers and friends should come among us, it would be a very comical picture to them, to see the different methods we each have in cooking the same. One is trying experiments on yeast of his own make; another is frying donuts, or as some call them nut cakes, and will try again and again, until they have succeeded in making light bread and griddle cakes, that our friends at home, we think, would say were good. So we would kindly advise our young lady friends to look out, or else the boys, on their return home, will have to take the culinary department out of their hands. we hope they will let the piano take its proper place, and the cooking be the first on the list of instructions hereafter. We would say we shall charge nothing for this advice, although we hope they will improve on the advice given.
Gen. McClellan has held reviews of the corps here. Gen. Sumner’s corps in which we are in made a very good display, although our ranks are somewhat thinned out by the late battle and camp diseases contracted in front of Richmond. Major General Hooker’s and General Sedgewick’s Divisions went out with a strong force of cavalry and artillery on reconnaissance on Monday night, 4th instant. We went around to the rear of Malvern Hill. We judge that we traveled eighteen miles to near the White Oak Swamp, when we laid down to rest for over two hours, and then muddy arose, then marched one hour, arrived at the scene of the action (midday?).... Gen Hooker engaged the rebels before we arrived on the ground, so we did not take much part in arresting the progress of the retreating enemy. We staid on the ground until Thursday morning at two o’clock, when we took our departure from the Hill to this camp, which is only eight miles from the Landing.
The rebels came from Richmond in large force and probably would have attacked us that morning if we has staid. We think the movement was just intended to draw their attention from Gen. Pope. The rebels were truly fooled that time.
We found that they had not buried our dead in an appropriate manner. We had read of the bones of our Union soldiers bleaching on the plains of Manasses and at Ball’s Bluff, but we did not realize the import of it till we saw it verified on Malvern Hill. There they lay on the ground with only the thickness of the greensward to cover them. The rains had washed so much of the earth off of them that their skulls and bodies were exposed to the air. The cloths were plainly seen, indicating to us that they were our men. They were properly covered up by us. During Tuesday and Wednesday we had the pleasure of moving around the fields. We must say there were some excellent farms in that vicinity, with substantial farm houses, and we found many excellent springs, which were far superior to what we get here. We witnessed the burning of several dwelling houses, evidences of secession proclivities was probably the cause of the destruction of the property.
The new arrangement of the Government with the rebels for the exchange of prisoners, has given us the satisfaction of once more seeing our comrades, Mr. E. D. Clemans and Albert H. Slater, who were lately taken prisoners. Their stories of their five weeks imprisonment was very doleful, and we can assure you they do not wish to be caught again. They tell us they were taken on Monday, June 30th, near White Oak Swamp, and sent to Richmond under guard, confined to a tobacco warehouse two weeks thence removed to Bedloe’s Island on the James river, and remained there till August 5th. They had for rations half of a loaf of bread, and three ounces of fresh beef a day, no salt to use or coffee to drink. Merrimac No. 2 was on the stocks. They could see men putting on the iron plating. The rebels are confident that this craft will steam down the James river and whip our entire fleet and anchor opposite Fortress Monroe. By their talk it is apparent that they feel confident that they will finally establish the Southern Confederacy. These facts we learn through friend Clem and Slater. There are many incidents and stories that they related of their imprisonment, but we have not time to relate them. Suffice to say that we will buckle our whole armor on, and fight for the glorious stars and stripes till death overtakes us, rather than fall into the hands of the enemy.
The men of the new requisition are arriving daily. Company I expects to receive a goodly number from Webster in a few days. Let them come say we. We will show the enemy what we can do when we ge near the number that they have in the field against us.