from The Southbridge Journal, June 13, 1862 , (Volume 2 # 17), 
Army Correspondence of the Journal
From the Fifteenth Regiment

Beyond Black Creek, Near New Bridge
15th Mass. Regt., May 26, 1862

Mr. Editor:  Since last writing, which was near West Point Va. , our changes from camp to camp have been frequent.  Some mornings we arose to find the sky overshadowed with clouds, and as we generally took up our line of march at seven o’clock, we would have the drenching rain and the slippery mud to walk in, which we would find a barrier to our getting over the ground, or else we would have the scorching sun to almost melt us.  Therefore, if we should tell you that many of us were obliged to fall out on account of the suns powerful heat, especially when at the same time we carry our heavy knapsacks and haversacks, crowded full , with four days rations, I think you would believe it, if you should happen to see us as we pass along the road.  Being loth to part with what we consider of value to us, we have as a Regiment, carried our change of clothing and other things that we require whenever we stop.  We overheard our fellow comrades in the other brigades make the remark, “what! knapsacks” evidently meaning that we carried large loads on our backs.  I think the Regiment will profit by the above remark, and will dispence with some portion of their load hereafter in their marches.

We encamped on the edge of the Pamunkey river, about two miles from where we landed, where it was found the facilities were better for landing troops and stores.  We staid two days, when we started in a drenching rain, and encamped in the pine woods within one mile of New Kent Court House.  We staid there two days, when we passed through the above place, which is made so conspicuous on the map.  We expected to pass through what would be termed in the North a large village; but judge of our surprise when we did not count over ten dwelling houses.  The Court House we did not find to be much larger than a common district school house.  We passed the ruins of the jail, that was burnt by the retiring rebels a few days before we arrived.

We next encamped on a piece of high ground, overlooking the various regimental camps in our division, about three miles beyond our starting point, near what is called the Cross Road .  I should judge there were over fifty acres of cleared land; the largest portion of which had been sown with winter wheat, and had attained about half its growth.  It was soon trampled down.  Thus you see, Mr. Editor, war pays no respect to the husbandman’s  wants, whether it is growing in the field or stowed in the granaries.  If it is an impediment or a temporary comfort, it must be sacrificed to help the warrior on to meet his foe.  We next took up our line of march to within two miles of Bottom Bridge, and again encamped this side of York River  Railroad, and staid two days, when we again resumed our march across the railroad and over Black Creek, about six miles distant, where General Sedgewick’s division are now encamped.  I believe it is near the Taylor place.

Our Regiment immediately took their turn to do picket duty about half a mile in advance, in a swamp, where some of the companies were detailed out to do the outpost picketing. Company I was among the number, under the lead of Capt. Joslin, to help form the line through the swamp.  We found some difficulties in the way, but they were soon overcome by our Captain, and one half of the Company succeeded in getting the line formed, in conjunction with other companies, while one half of the Company was held as reserve at the edge of the swamp.  While finding our line in the mirey swamp, and doing the duties required of us, vis.: watching for the rebels, we discovered other enemies under our feet and over our heads, that were nearly as much to be dreaded as the enemy in front, such as large snakes and lizards running on the ground and up and down the trees.  Not only that, the weather being so hot we had some work to keep that blood thirsty insect, the mosquito, away from us, so that the night passed very disagreeably to us.

Previous to being relieved from duty in the morning, we looked around somewhat and were surprised to find such excellent timber, as we beheld, within ten miles of Richmond, that such stately oaks should be standing within so few miles of a city.  Among them, cut in large figures, was 1774, and the initials F. H., R. M., J. H.

The appearances indicate that this must once have been an important station..  The figures had grown with the tree and spread with the bark, so widely that we could lay our thumb in, showing conclusively to us that the figures were cut there eighty-six years ago.  The question with us is, what event occurred, or what was transpiring there at that time?   We measured the tree, and found it to be ten and a half in circumfrence at the butt.  It run(s) up thirty feet of good available timber.  A short distance from this, we found a tree called the peach oak ( we include a leaf that you may see their form.)  This measured fifteen feet around.  It was a good straight growth, and good timber, forty-five feet high.  There were a large number of such trees throughout the swamp.  We also found a large number of trees called fever wood, eighteen inches around the butt, forty-five feet high.  Think you, Mr. Editor, that such nice trees would be standing within so few miles of Worcester , with such a river as the James for an outlet.  Methinks you would say it would be made into ships and be used to navigate the briney ocean.  Surely, here is a chance for some enterprising yankee to invest, instead of going West.  Here is where the ship builder can come and find some timber suitable for his purposes.  He can ship it down the James river to any point he desires to on the coast.

We have orders to hold ourselves in readiness without knapsacks, with three days rations, all day long.   It seems to raise and cheer us up  .So large bodies of troops and rebel prisoners are constantly passing to and fro, that our officers necessarily have to keep us within the bounds of the camp, therefore, we are deprived of that pleasure of learning many things that might be of interest to you.

May 30th,  As the division was called out to help Gen. McClellan’s right wing, or Gen. Porters division, we went, leaving knapsacks and blankets behind in camp, taking sixty rounds of cartridges and three days rations.  We heard of the death of our noble friend and companion of the 21st regimental band.  I believe that we shall notice the loss in a suitable manner during the day.

Mr. Amos Bartlett, our first Lieutenant, has been transferred to take command of Co. C, in place of Capt. Philbrick, who is promoted.  Thus you can see that we cannot retain him long at a time in our company.  It is reported that he has been urged to take the rank as captain of the company: but we have not learnt whether he will accept the offer.  Gen. Sedgewick’s division is in Gen. Sumner’s corps. His headquarters are now within a short distance of our lines.  Gen. Porter is on our right, about two miles.



15th Massachusetts VI