Egbert Oswald HIXON (later Hicks)
Civil War Diary
March 27--Aug. 11, 1862

Transcribed by Alice and John Robinson (EOH's g-granddaughter and her son)
With Notes by Carol Botteron (EOH's g-g-granddaughter),
with whose kind permission this material is posted at the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry web site.

During this time the Army of the Potomac, under the command of Major-General George B. McClellan, moved against Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. This "Peninsular Campaign" is generally considered to have been a loss for the Union.


Egbert Oswald HIXON was born in Medway, Mass., in 1824. His parents were Isaac HIXON (a Revolutionary War veteran) and Persis ADAMS. He married Electa Louise MORRILL, daughter of Isaac MORRILL and Julia RICHARDSON. Their children were Egbert Augustus (b. 1849), Lloyd Adams (b. 1851), Harriet Peck (b. 1855, ancestor of Alice and Carol), Almyra Louisa (b. 1857), and Isaac Alfred (b. 1859, d. 1861). EOH worked as a bootmaker. While he was in the Army, his wife took the children to Cleveland, Ohio, where she could support them by working in her sister's millinery shop.

EOH (as he signed his letters) enlisted on or before April 15, 1861 (when President Lincoln called for troops) as a private of Company D, 8th Mass. Regiment, "Minute Men of '61." After his term of duty expired on August 1, 1861, he re-enlisted as a private of the First Company Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters, known as the "Andrew Sharpshooters" (after John A. Andrew, governor of Massachusetts 1861-66 and an Abolitionist leader), who were attached to the 15th, 20th, and 19th Regiments of Mass. Volunteer Infantry. He reportedly deserted Sept. 4, 1862. He later re-enlisted in Ohio under the name Hicks (see letters and notes on them).

Too bad we don't have an earlier diary of his. He might have been with the 15th when some musicians, who were expected to double as stretcher bearers, refused to submit to ambulance drill. They were placed in a stockade on no rations until they complied.

John Robinson has a photograph that is probably of EOH before the war. A photograph of a group of soldiers taken in June 1861 (during EOH's service with the "Minute Men of '61") lists EOH among the soldiers.

The Andrew Sharpshooters wore forest-green coats and hats with the standard gray-blue army trousers.

The diary is about 3" by 6" with a paper cover and shows a week on each pair of facing pages, so each entry is quite short. The writing is very hard to read in many places. The pages after August 11, 1862 are torn out.

abugle.gif (1254 bytes)



[Note: The name "Hicks" implies that EOH or someone else labeled the diary after he left the Sharpshooters and moved to Ohio.]

March 1862

Thurs. 27
Paid George Cobucan 85.00
Big nik 30 /l
babott (LOANED) 25

[note: Some of this money may have been gambling debts; note "played Bluff all day" on May 10. The amounts of money were probably cents rather than dollars. "Cobucan" may be Coleman, and "Leubett" may be Leavett (Jerome); both were in the Sharpshooters.]

Fri. 28
paid Hutch 30.50 "
bob .50
Came on board MAMIR South America last night. Said to be going to Fortress Monroe. Fair weather.

[note: MAMIR may be steamer. See Sat. 29. Fortress (or Fort) Monroe was the base of operations. A fortress encloses a town. For that reason, the U.S. Secretary of War changed the name of Fortress Monroe to Fort Monroe in 1832, although the U.S. post office did not change the name on its records until 1941.]

Sat. 29
loaned Williams .15 " John Galbreth .25 On board steamer SH going down the river with 2 vesels in tow. Weather cool.

[note: "Williams" may be Samuel Williams, "Galbreth" may be Gilbreth. SH may be SA meaning "South America," see Fri. 28.]

Sun. 30
Snowed hard all night. Two inches of snow on deck this morn. Going down the river mighty slow. 9:00 o'clock P.M. just arrived at F. M.

Mon. 31
Weather cloudy. Steamer Monitor close by: looks like an old raft with a big kettle on top. got unloaded about 2 o'clock P.M. marched out to Hampton by the fortress. Hampton was burnt last year by the Rebs. Came out 2 miles farther to Camfield.

[note: The Monitor's famous battle with the Merrimack had taken place on March 9.]

April 1862

Tues. 1
Quite warm, peach trees in blossom. Saw flowers in ___?___ blown down at the fort. Our capt. is mad with the whole com. going on in his military earful(?).

Wed. 2
Cold weather. looks like a storm. the capt. put us through a knapsack drill 2 1/2 hrs. We are in a flat level country. There is lots of troops about here more than 100,000 they say.

[note: General McClellan reported that there were 85,000 troops. Secretary of War Stanton said 108,000. Lincoln mentions this in a letter (April 9, 1862) chiding McClellan for inaction. McClellan had planned to take Yorktown in a quick battle, but a month-long siege ensued.]

Thurs. 3
Went to see cousin Wm. Adams in the Mosart Reg. he is homesick ___?___. they say we are going to move tomorrow. Weather fair + beautiful on guard had some oysters out of the boat.

[note: William Parismun Adams: his father was Obadiah Adams Jr., brother of Persis Adams (EOH's mother). According to Genealogical History of Henry Adams of Braintree, by Andrew N. Adams, p. 675: "William Parismun [Adams], b. in Medway, May 23, 1828; m. Sept. 1852, Caroline C. Pleasant of Springfield, Mass., [she] d. in Milford, Mass., 14 June 1883. He enlisted June 21, 1861, in Co. G, 40th Mozart Regiment of New York; d. at Harrison Landing, Va., 18 July 1862." The Mozart Regiment consisted of companies from New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. From their history: "Adams, William P. Age 30 years. Enlisted in Milford, Mass., and mustered in, June 21, 1861, at Yonkers, as Private in Co. G. Died of congestive fever, July 18, 1862, at Harrison's Landing, Va." (Congestive fever means malarial fever.) EOH consistently spells Mozart as "Mosart" so that is probably how it was pronounced.] [note: During the Civil War a regiment had a paper strength of 1200 men, but many lost more than half to disease before seeing action. Regiments were recruited and officered by the governors of the states. Instead of sending replacement soldiers, the governors organized new regiments for political reasons. A regiment was probably commanded by a colonel. A company is a smaller unit, commanded by a captain. EOH's "Com" probably stood for company (see April 1).]

Fri. 4
Started this morning about 8 moved along terrible slow. I never saw so many troops on a march before. Got at (?) Big Bethel + bivuaced. I saw Gen. McClellan.

Sat. 5
stoped at Big Bethel + camped out. Started before sunrise. Had a smart(?) shower today. found lots of rebel camps, the best camps I ever saw. they left yesterday in a hurry I should think.

Sun. 6
we have heard heavy firing all day; cool morning they say we shant move today. ___?___ dont commence a fight on Sunday, I expect we shall have smart fighting tomorrow; beautiful eve _______ all blazing(?) cool weather.

Mon. 7
weather cool + chilly. Getting ready to start. 9 miles to the rebel camp. Must out with the Brigade reconnitering: one man killed in the 19th + 3(?) or 4 wounded. came back + git(?) up all night in the rain the most miserable night I ever __?__. rain/cold N.E. storm no __?__ no rations no nothing: got some meat for dinner the first we have had for a week. The men are building camps in the wood. rain rain rain cold as thunder.

(Tues. 8 no entry)

Wed. 9
Staid in Greenwood mayon(?) slept well the storm continues all mud: grows colder fair rations but not enough going to stop in the 40 n(?) turned in before dark slept well; cold night same morn.

[note: Attempts to find a Greenwood mansion or plantation on the maps have been unsuccessful.]

Thurs. 10
had 2 letters Thurs. eve. morn wind NE some flakes of snow / most all of the boys have camped in the woods // also some signs of fair weather the sun is trying to shine. 4 P.M. the sun is out weather cool.

Fri. 11
Beautiful cool morn. The capt says we are attached to the 1st Mas. Reg; getting ready to move, don't know where. Went out about /3(?) miles, we are now with Gorman Brig. + formed a line of battle. The rebel camp is about 1/2 mile off.

Sat. 12
Morning weather clear + cool. don't know what they will try to do __?__ the capt took out a squad of 20 men to reconoitre, saw the Rebs works + some __?__ but had orders not to fire. commenced a letter for my dear wife.

Sun. 13
Morning fair weather still ___?___ finished my letter. very quiet we are in Gormans Brig. Woods all around. 'Nother Brig. in sight.

Mon. 14
Morn, fine weather a little warmer had heavy firing last night but don't know on which side it was. Wrote another letter home.

Tues. 15
Morning warm with a little rain clearest __?__ before 10 o'clock. We go out in sight of the rebs camp in squads to watch them. they have sent a balloon up twice we are going to shoot at it if it comes within range.

[note: Both sides used tethered balloons for observation.]

Wed. 16
Morn warm. one year ago today I was in Fannel Hall Boston. The whole com (?) are out + the batteries are fast they keep it up good. 5 P.M. sergeant Morton just got wounded in the thigh, pretty bad.

[note: "Fannel Hall Boston" must mean Faneuil Hall. The "Minute Men of '61" reported there on April 16, 1861. It was built in 1742 and has been used ever since as a meeting hall and marketplace. The name is usually pronounced "Fannel." EOH's home town, Medway, is about 20 miles southwest of Boston.]
[note: "sergeant Morton" may be Sgt. Henry L. Martin who is recorded as being wounded in April or May 1862.]

Thurs. 17
Morn warm __?__ the batteries have been flaying (?) all night. just got our pistols. My No. is 31007, Roberts No. 20685. Start out all day our boys are shooting the rebs __?__.

[note: The sharpshooters provided their own rifles, 20- to 70- pound muzzle-loaders with telescopic sights. An expert could load and fire (from a rest) in two minutes. Wonder if some collector has his pistol?   No "Roberts" in the roster.]

Fri. 18
Morn. two alarms last night, heavy fireing for a few minutes don't know certain what it amounted to. warm muggy weather with ticks aplenty.

Sat. 19
Morn hot. __?__ + stay until dark. begun to rain about 8 o'clock P.M. between 10 + 11 the rebs drove in our pickets. Sharp firing for a few minutes.

[note: Pickets are soldiers posted forward of a position to give warning in case the enemy approaches.]

Sun. 20
Morn raining it rained all day + all night. very still not but very little fireing all day got some wet + cold.

Mon. 21
Cool morn but inclemant(?) a squad gone to the rebs batteries not much fireing stormed hard all day dull + dreary enough

Tue. 22
cool morning wrote a letter home + dated it wrong. went out near the Rebs works. Mel Littlefield got shot in the leg not very bad.

[note: "Mel Littlefield" may be David M. Littlefield of the Sharpshooters.]

Wed. 23
beautiful morn one squad went out this morn I did not go till after dinner relieved those that were out

Thurs. 24
Morn inclemant (?) went out in the woods Capt. Bartlett of the 20th Mass got wounded in the knee brought him to our surgeon + cut his leg off.

[note: William F. Bartlett of Haverhill.]

Fri. 25
Morn cloudy heavy fireing last night went out on the woods but __?__ nothing weather cool + has been so all week.

Sat. 26
rained all night + rained all day went out + stayed almost all day in the rain went to camp about 3 o'clock on guard __?__ relief alarm at 12 o'clock.

Sun. 27
cold nasty weather wet all day 1/2 of the army rainy(?) goes out every day + the other half stay in. fireing some __?__

Mon. 28
__?__ of fair weather. went out with a squad but did not do anything. a Lieut in the 15th got shot in the leg by a shell they say badly.

[note: No report of this was found; maybe it was a different unit.]

Tues. 29
Morn cloudy. they say that they are going to commence the attack(?) tomorrow. our men have been down in a rifle __?__ __?__ N. Orleans taken

[note: "They are going to commence the attack tomorrow": McClellan had been constructing siege-works, believing that the Confederate forces were much more numerous than they really were.]
[note: "N. Orleans taken": the Federal fleet arrived at New Orleans on April 25 and effectively conquered it; the US flag was raised on April 29.]

Wed. 30
Wet stormy. infirmary(?) have taken our house (?) __?__ hospital. Moved our tents. looks more like a camp than it has before __?__ left camp Benton.

May 1862

Thurs. 1
cloudy this morn. Went out into the woods but did nothing. Heavy fireing at times all day. weather warmer

Fri. 2
morning warmer. this morning got 2 letters from !! glad enough to get them. they have put 2 hospital tents close to our quarters. looks like fighting now in earnest.

Sat. 3
8 o'clock AM out in the __?__ __?__; got to stay here all day I expect; dull enough, looks like rain. Start out till sundown. disagreeable place don't like it. Heavy fireing all night.

Sun. 4 morn:
weather fine __?__ just went past came from the rebs camp, so it is said, 8 o'clock, the rebs have left + gone + our forces are after them. Went into a secech house to get some plunder.

[note: "the rebs have left + gone + our forces are after them": when McClellan's forces entered Yorktown they found that the enemy had quietly departed, leaving "Quaker guns" (logs on wheels) in the fortifications. The Union forces pursued the Confederates northwest and caught the rear guard near Williamsburg, where there was a battle continuing into the 5th, slowed down by rain and mud. "Secech" refers to secessionists, meaning Confederates.]

Mon. 5
Morn rainy. slept in a secech tent. it rained all day in torrents + till 12 o'clock at night. The secech left lots of torpedoes in their works + blew up some of our men, a d--d cowardly act.

[note: "torpedoes" were what we would now call mines.]

Tues. 6
Morn weather fine. 2 o'clock P.M. getting ready to move, don't know where. Went on board steamer Eagle about 8 o'clock P.M. slept on deck. first rate. the moon shown bright it was a beautiful night.

Wed. 7
Morn started about sunrise up the York river; went very slowly; went up to West Point and unloaded. Franklin's Division has been fighting the Rebs all day, good many killed + wounded.

Thurs. 8
morn weather fine, going to be hot in camp out in an open plain no trees nor shade. Troops marched all day + night. they say the rebs have __?__.

Fri. 9
morn, cool last night going to be a hot day. we moved about 2 miles __?__ the river on a large plain, it was a beautiful evening the sun shone bright + the bands played, who would not be a soldier __?__

Sat. 10
morn warm + nice weather, wrote home. Nothing to do, played Bluff all day. lots of vessels came __?__ the river. Our waggons have come. At last. thought the rebs had got them.

[note: "played Bluff": a variety of poker?]

Sun. 11
Warm + dry. our camp is getting dusty. It is reported that the Merrimack + Norfolk is taken. Franklin's Drill has moved toward Richmond. don't know when we shall go.

[note: On May 9, "Confederate forces evacuated Norfolk, Virginia.... the loss of this major base was a severe blow... C.S.S. Merrimack was left without a port from which to operate and it, too, would have to be disposed of." (Civil War Day by Day Desk Diary) Franklin's Drill probably should read Division.]

Mon. 12
Morning hot + dusty nothing new. Any quantity of rumors -- but don't know what to believe; the boys are talking about getting home; it is getting hot. I hope what we have to do we shall do it soon.

Tues. 13
hot + dusty enough; we need rain badly. Our Com have nothing to do to speak of. Some say we are going back to F. Monroe. Don't believe it. The health of the Com is good.

Wed. 14
Cloudy it begun to rain about 2 o'clock - don't rain much. They say we are going to move tomorrow but I don't believe it. No news of importance.

Thurs. 15
wet + warmer. Started toward Richmond about 2 o'clock. it was awful muddy + slipery. slept in the woods + campt. It rained all night. teams all stuck in the mud.

Fri. 16
warm the sun is out, nothing to eat, had to beg our coffey of the 15th. They say our teams are coming + I hope they be. 8 o'clock P.M. our teams have come. had a good supper.

Sat. 17
Morn the sun rose beautiful, the bands are playing. Nothing new. The roads are in such a state that it is almost impossible to move. Nothing to do. Good many of the boys are sick.

[note: Many Union soldiers died of malaria during this campaign.]

Sun. 18
Morn. Got orders to move. Started about 7 - hot marching. Came about 9 miles + camped in a wheat field. Got our tents so we have good quarters. hot muggy weather. don't know how long we shall stop here.

Mon. 19
Morn warm + sultry. Had a beautiful job today, was detailed to lug water for the cook, had to tote it about 1/4 of a mile up a steep slippery bank, don't like it. had several showers.

Tues. 20
Morn warm had my hair cut nothing to do thought we was going to move but did not start. heavy fireing most all day towards Richmond. They say one of our gunboats is sunk.

Wed. 21
Morn warm camped in a cornfield about 1/4 mile from Richmond. don't think we shall stop long. Had a hard shower about 2 P.M. wet our tents through, hail storm stones fell that weighed 2 ozs.

Thurs. 22
Morn warmer. lost one day(?) this week which knocks all my reckoning but I will try to do better in the future. I can't see how I done it; I believe I am getting debiletated.

Fri. 23
Morn cool for this country, we had a nice shower yesterday which cooled the air. I feel better this morn than I have for several days but I feel weak. We moved about 3 miles NW.

Sat. 24
We are about the same distance from Richmond that we were before. It commenced raining about 8 o.c. + rained all day. it was cold, storm. I had __?__ to keep warm last night. we have whiskey twice a day __?__ very little at a time.

Sun. 25
morn: cool + nice weather, rain. the Tammany Reg. at prayers. saw the priest but did not hear him say anything. There is a rumor that the rebs are leaving Richmond but it is very doubtful.

[note: Tammany Reg. was the 42nd NY Infantry Regiment. EOH sang bass in the choir of the Congregational Church in Medway. Maybe he attended a Catholic service this day.]

Mon. 26
it was cold last night and this morn + cool nice weather. all the troops have got orders to be in reddiness to march, without blankets + with 60 rounds of cartridges; the order was ___?___.

[note: The Civil War was the beginning of the US Army tradition of discarding gear to save weight, hoping to replace it later from friendly or enemy sources. Note that EOH still did not have a blanket on the 28th.]

Tues. 27
term(?) ended about 4 P.M. rained hard all night + this morn. No news that is certain. There are lots of rumors afloat. one is that Yanks has been defeated + another is that France + England are going to do something awful.

[note: France and England were inclining toward the Confederate side until Lincoln made slavery an issue by his Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862.]

Wed. 28
morn started about 4 o'clock + moved about 4 miles to the right + laid in the woods all day. we had no blankets + I caught cold + was about sick all day.

Thurs. 29
Morn I shook with the cold but the sun came up + I got warm. Lots of news of rumors about our army. We started back to camp about 5 o'clock. I felt weak + tired but we got some whiskey.

Fri. 30
I had a good nights sleep + feel better this morn. had a letter from home yesterday. it came in 3 days, my letters don't go in a week. We are having a thunder shower, they just as smart thunder + lightning south as we do north.

Sat. 31
cloudy. got a letter from home + wrote one. heard heavy firing towards R. our Div. moved about 2 o'clock had a forced march 4 or 5 miles. had a big fight with the rebs; never saw such fighting before.

June 1862

Sun. 1
laid out all night, it rained this morn. the rebs opened the bull(?). the battle lasted about 4 hours. a great many were killed on both sides. camped out in the woods. had 2 alarms but slept pretty well.

[note: The battle May 31-June 1 is called "Fair Oaks" and "Seven Pines." The Union forces repelled several Confederate charges but did not enter Richmond.]

(Read John KIMBALL's report on the Battle of Fair Oaks.)

Mon. 2
warm this morn. they are burying the dead; it is an awful sight. they say the Rebs are leaving Richmond but I don't believe it. laid around all day. the Rebs fired 2 or 3 shells just at right. had an awful thunder shower in the night it rained hard.

Tues. 3
the sun rose beautiful but it going to be hot. we expect to be attacked every minute. Let them come, they will find us all ready, I guess. they are burying the dead. the rebs left lots of their dead + wounded on the field. it is hot + the bodies scent bad.

Wed. 4
it begun to rain in the evening + rained hard all night. raining in torrents this morning. everything soaking wet. slept out + got wet of course. it rained all day.

Thurs. 5
don't hear much from the rebs. they fire on our pickets once in a while. it has __?__ off this __?__ but it looks like rain yet; if there is any more left we shall get it; went out about 2 miles / but not scirmish. got something / to eat __?__ not had any before for a long time.

Fri. 6
a wet misty dreary morn. there was a good deal of firing along the lines last night. got a letter from home. slept pretty well. went to the Head quarters, but did not go into the woods. it rained at times all day. Saw Wm. Adams in the Mosart Reg.

Sat. 7
Morn cloudy but sighn of fair weather. did not sleep much last night; was nervous; don't know what made me, fresh __?__ it was coffee; very quiet all night; our knapsacks came today + our blankets; it rained hard towards night. Wrote a long letter home.

Sun. 8
morn cool, started out to the woods, but the rebs shelled us out; the __?__ + shells came in thick enough; we staid at headquarters until dark + then went to camp got a drink of whiskey + turned in

Mon. 9
cool this morn, looks as though we should get some fair weather. I am not going out if I can help it. went down to the Mass. 7th Reg., saw __?__ Munroe + also saw Emery Richardson in the 11th Mass. went to the Mosart Reg. + got some berry juice, it was first rate.

[note: Emery Richardson might have been a cousin of EOH's wife. Emory Richardson was a Pvt. in Co. F, 11th Mass. Infantry Rgt. He was 43 and a machinist from Medway when he enlisted on June 13, 1861. He re-enlisted on Feb. 28, 1864 and deserted June 17, 1864 from a hospital having at some point been transferred to Co. K. John H. Munroe was a Pvt., Co. B, 7th Mass. Infantry Rgt. He was 28 and a carpenter from Fall River when he enlisted on June 15, 1861. He deserted Jan. 20, 1862(?) at Washington, D. C. Scurvy was a danger. There is a record of Southern and Northern skirmishers fighting for control of a blackberry patch.]

Tues. 10
this morning it rained hard. got our tents up so it don't trouble us much. the rebs shelled us last eve. wrote home. it was cold last night.

Wed. 11
nice cool morning, quite still along our lines. some movement among our troops. don't know when we shall have another fight. had a total eclipse of the moon last night + had an alarm, but it not amount to much.

[note: By a computer calculation this eclipse occurred on the 12th, beginning about 12:45 AM Eastern time (of course this was before time zones) and lasting about an hour. If this is correct, EOH had missed another day in his diary, but he didn't mention it.]

Thurs. 12
morning nice. went to the brook + had a good wash all over. the talk last night was that we was going to have a fight today don't see it yet. the moon shone beautiful. there was no alarm.

Fri. 13
nice warm morn, going to be hot. started out wide(?) of the lines; our troops are fortifying all the time, staid out all day but done nothing. there was a flag of truce went out today.

Sat. 14
hot this morn. very still last night. wrote home. went down to the Mosart Reg. + staid several hours. nervous, did not sleep much. got up + smoked + sleeped(?) a little.

Sun. 15
started out about 3 o'clock this morn + staid all day it was hot until about 3 + then we had a thunder shower. came in at dark.

Mon. 16
very cool. was on guard + was cold when I awoke this morn. staid in all day. took a walk out before dark. it is very quiet but little fireing all day.

Tues. 17
was cool. about 90 of our men went out at daylight but did not have to go. this is the first time that I have been left for a long time. went down to Mosart Reg. had a good time they made some dinner.

Wed. 18
cool + fine. grew hot in the afternoon. got orders to pack up our blankets + get ready to move. they are shelling smart on our right. our com was ordered out at one time we thought that this was going to be a battle.

[note: McClellan stayed near Richmond in a bad position, bordered by malarial swamps, expecting reinforcements that never came. After a raid on June 12 by Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, McClellan worried about the safety of his communications and decided to change his base.]

Thurs. 19
Morn was hot. it was very quiet all night. we are expecting an attack today. there has been no shelling this morn yet at 10:00. very quiet all day. had a shower.

Fri. 20
Morn - nice pleasant weather. we expected to have a big fight today but did not. dont feel very well. hard shelling on our right. got a letter from home. a good deal of fireing all night.

Sat. 21
morn - fair + warm. feel about sick. everything quiet this morn. had lots of alarms. I thought there would be a general engagement. quiet, a little battle took place just before dark on our left.

Sun. 22
morn warm. been out helping cover up the graves. they were not properly buried. lots of alarms last night. did not sleep much. very quiet all day. hot weather, the ground is getting dry.

Mon. 23
Morn fair weather. the story is that the rebs are evacuating, but I don't believe it. it has been mighty still all day. Had a good shower towards night.

Tues. 24
Had a big shower last night + heavy thunder so they say but I did not wake up. the rebs are very quiet. Towards night we had a heavy thundershower.

Wed. 25
It is very cool this morn. they are firing some big guns on our right: __?__ __?__ __?__ __?__

[note: On June 25, McClellan advanced closer to Richmond. The fighting went back and forth for several days but the Union forces finally had to retreat, partly because they had no good cover while the Confederates were in thick woods. This battle is called "Gaines's Mills," "the Chickahominy," and "the first battle of Cold Harbor."]

Thurs. 26
warm. they talk of having a battle -- heavy firing on our right. Towards night it was terrific, they say our folks got the best of them.

Fri. 27
warm. fireing again on our right. our folks are moving back. they fought all day. we was out on a line 9 times + once in the night.

Sat. 28
Morn. started out at sunrise, terrible fighting on our right. they say that the rebs have got the best of it. 6 o'clock P.M. we have got orders to start towards James River.

Sun. 29
looks very much like a big retreat: started about 10: came 3 miles + camped out. had a big battle.

Mon. 30
fighting + retreating. The rebs don't come out but stick to the woods.

July 1862

Tues. 1
Moved again and had another fight ___?___ all day. Moved again in the night.

[note: At Malvern Hill, the retreating McClellan chose an excellent position and damaged the Confederates so badly that they gave up the pursuit. "Moved again in the night" to Harrison's Landing on the James River, defensible and easily supplied. The previous week's retreat is known as the Seven Days.]

Wed. 2
morn: begun to rain about daylight + rained all day + all night. We all got wet through. Nothing to eat. mud knee deep. all in a heap. (Want to go home.)

Thurs. 3
rain not over with. We are all down by the James river. I never saw such mud. our com. got quarters in a barnyard. nothing to eat but hard bread. everything looks dark.

Fri. 4
Independence day. it is a lovely day. We started + marched about 2 miles through the mud back from the river + camped. salute was fired + Gen. McClelland was cheered by the troops. We got some pork + that all the fourth we had.

Sat. 5
got rested a little. for the past week I have not kept up my diary much: my book got wet through + I have not had a chance to write. this war has a lonesome look right now. it is a hot day but was cold last night.

Sun. 6
Wrote a long letter home. it is very hot weather daytimes but beautiful nights. We are encamped by the side of a brook.

Mon. 7
Hot. nothing new. our army have begun to entrench again + they say the rebs are doing the same a few miles above. the bands play + it seem like camp life again.

Tues. 8
Morn hot + sultry. there are fireing heavy guns on our left. Might hot the sweat runs off from me lying still in the shade. Went up to the Mosart Reg. but did not __?__ see __?__.

Wed. 9
Another hot day. it is getting dry + dusty. our com. is doing nothing. Honest ole Abe Lincoln came round this eve + looked the troops over. Gen McClelan was with him.

[note: After the Seven Days, Lincoln placed General Henry Halleck in command of all Federal armies. Halleck ordered McClellan to abandon the Peninsular Campaign and to unite with the forces in northern Virginia.]

Thurs. 10
there was a salute fired. Another hot morn, laying around in the shade. Went over to the Mosart Reg. staid a while. Got wet through going home.

Fri. 11
morn - rains hard. dull enough. Went up to the 18th Reg. Jon Daniels, he is going home soon. Wish I was. it rained all day: nothing new.

[note: "Jon" looked like a name but maybe it says "Saw." William D. Daniels: musician, band, 18th Mass. infantry Rgt. He was 43 and a farmer from Medway when he enlisted on Aug. 1, 1861. He was mustered out Aug. 11, 1862 (All regimental bands were discharged on Aug. 11, 1862 by War Department order considered more a burden than a benefit to the army.)]

Sat. 12
foggy this morn but cleared off finally. nice cool day. went down to the river. tried to buy something to eat, but could not. went down again after dinner to fire off our guns.

Sun. 13
beautiful + cool: seems like home. everything seems quiet. have not heard anything from the Rebs for some days. probably shall soon. warm all day.

Mon. 14
morn fair weather but not in the midle of the day. nothing new there is lots of soldiers ___?___ + they make money fast.

[note: he may be referring to people selling food etc., see the 12th. Or maybe gambling.]

Tues. 15
another hot. nothing new. dull music: hot enough pleasant evenings. My health is good. Thank God for that.

Wed. 16
Morn another hot day. We had a fine shower last eve with heavy thunder + sharp lightning. it has been very hot in the sun.

Thurs. 17
cool this morn but it is going to be mighty hot. we had an awful thunder shower I never saw it rain harder in my life. Have written home again.

Fri. 18
it is a cold dreary morn. I went up to the Mosart Reg. yesterday + saw my cousin Wm Adams die. went up again at 4 o'clock for his funeral. it seemed all wrong he was a fine fellow -- but so it goes.

[note: William Adams died of malaria. Note "many of our boys are sick" the next day. The official record says Adams died on the 18th but EOH's diary implies the 17th; maybe EOH had lost a day again. EOH may have written to William's wife; he got a letter from her on Aug. 9.]

Sat. 19
cooler this morn. nothing to do but loaf around. A good many of our boys are sick + every where(?) around the hospitals we can see the dead laid out almost every morn.

Sun. 20
Pretty hot this morn. went up to the Mosart this morn. Cap Chamberlain said he was coming to see me today but he did not.

[note: Cap Chamberlain--thought this might refer to a somewhat famous Massachusetts captain Samuel Chamberlain but dates of service do not match. "Cap" likely a nickname rather than a rank.]

Mon. 21
Morn pretty warm but not very. We moved our camp about 50 yards from where we were before: into the woods. We have got some tents again. Looks more like a camp.

Tues. 22
Morn warm, but not very. looks like rain, but has cleared off. Went up to the Mosart Reg. with M. Phipps it seems lonesome since W. died.

[note: "M. Phipps" not in Sharpshooters roster; probably Martin Phipps 7/28.]

Wed. 23
Morn. Went + had a good shower bath, it done me good. Wrote a letter to __?__ W. Fisher but it won't do any good. It looks like a storm. No news of interest I know of.

[note: EOH may have been writing to try to get a discharge. Maybe Fisher was a Congressman?]

Thurs. 24
warm + pleasant. not very not. the sun has been clouded part of the time. doing nothing. no money. no clothes, laying around lonesome as the devil in a crowd.

[note: EOH was almost 38 years old, and most of the soldiers were in their early 20s so he may have had little in common with them.]

Fri. 25
Morn cool + pleasant. it grown hotter towards noon. Saw one of the 11th Reg. band, his name is Daniels from Medway, is going home in a day or two. Wish I was going.

[note: Note on Daniels on July 11th. Medway was EOH's home town.]

Sat. 26
Nothing to do + nobody to help me. Warm weather. Some of the time it is very warm. had a letter from my wife last eve. Wish I could see her but don't think I shall at present.

Sun. 27
morning hot but we had a little shower last eve which has laid the dust. went up to the Mosart Reg. in the afternoon.

Mon. 28
morn hot + dusty. doing nothing but went on guard last night. Went up to the Mosart to get a watch for Martin Phipps. came back + went to bed.

Tues. 29
morn warm. no news. doing nothing as usual. I get awful lazy every day the flies are so thick that it is impossible to read or sleep in the day time.

Wed. 30
warm. Hot as usual. wrote a letter home. went up to the 18th Reg. + borrowed some papers to read. looks like rain.

Thurs. 31
dog days weather when the sun shines it is hot enough had a little rain Looks as though we should move. it rains this evening.

August 1862

Fri. 1
we had several showers last night between 12 + one o'clock. the rebs opened fire with some batteries on the other side of the river. our batteries open too for half an hour it was smart shooting.

Sat. 2
Aug. 2nd is my birthday. hot weather all the time nothing new. it is about the same thing over and over every day. our com is talking about taking some other gun.

[note: EOH was now 38 years old, older than many of the generals.]

Sun. 3
what it will amount to I dont know. I hope we shant make any movement until cooler weather. they say we have got to take sharper rifles.

Mon. 4
we had some rain yesterday + the air feels cooler this morn. Gen. Gorman inspected our guns yesterday + told us there was no right for us to get out of the service.

[note: "Gen. Gorman": Willis Gorman (1816-76), former Col., 1st Minn. Infantry Rgt. He was the brigade commander from March to October 1862. Many of the Sharpshooters were disgruntled; quite a number deserted.]

Tues. 5
the div. started last eve for Malvern Hill we had orders to go top but did not have to + I am glad for it is very hot.

Wed. 6
there has been some heavy fireing but it did not amount to much. We have rations of flour now + we are cooking most of the time.

Thurs. 7
Our troops came in this morn: tired enough they had to come back in a hurry for the rebs were coming down onto them with a big force. had a letter last eve.

Fri. 8
Very hot + dry. The roads are terrible dusty there is talk of our moving soon they are carrying off all the sick down to the river.

Sat. 9
Had a letter from Mrs. W. Adams. Went up to the Mosart terrible hot. We have to drill a little every day to go on __?__ Parade with the 15th Reg.

Sun. 10
Hot and stuffy. Deacon Richardson came to see me from the 16th Mass. it seemed like old times to see him. they say our Div. has got to move tomorrow at 2 o'clock.

Mon. 11
Morn - had a little rain last night + the air feels better. the troops are getting ready to move I don't know whether our com is going to move or not.

[note: McClellan began to withdraw on Aug. 14.]

[Here the diary ends.]

[The second battle of Bull Run (Aug. 29-30) was a major loss for the Union. Antietam (Sept. 17) was a minor victory but the bloodiest day of the war. Captain John Saunders, commander of the First Sharpshooters, was killed at Antietam, apparently by his own men.]

Sources for notes:

Arnett, Bill: electronic mail Jan. 18, 1997 about the time of a lunar eclipse; he used the "Starry Night" program on a Macintosh.
Civil War Day by Day Desk Diary 1987/1862. Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia, 1955
Fair, Charles: From the Jaws of Victory (Simon & Schuster 1971)
Floyd, Fred: History of the Fortieth (Mozart) Regiment New York Volunteers (Boston, F. H. Gilson, 1909)
Heseltine, John: looked up some facts and provided the reports on the actions of the 15th Mass.
Jackson, Rossiter: "McClellan's Peninsular Campaign" in The Great Events by Famous Historians vol. XVIII (The National Alumni, 1905)
McClellan, George (General): "The Peninsular Campaign" in America: Great Crises in Our History, Told by Its Makers (VFW, 1925)
Nason, George: History and Complete Roster of Massachusetts Regiments, Minute Men of '61 (Boston, Smith & McCance, 1910)

Copyright 1998 by Carol Botteron.

15th MVI