[Louisiana] Jan. 21st. This morning orders came to have knapsacks packed & ready to sling at any moment for a move. Went out after a company inspection of arms & had a short skirmish drill. Came in at 11 ½ o’clock & at once detailed ten men with spades & picks to go down near the Blind Asylum & work on the ground that we are to occupy next as a camping ground. Held ourselves ready all the afternoon for a move, but the order did not come. We expect tomorrow early in the morning—have now occupied this ground nine days & it is about time for another move. A report has spread in camp today that there is to be a general examination of the Officers of the Reg., & a pretty rigid one, and all those not “passing muster” are to be discharged. It was said that some dozen officers of the 26th Maine have already been rejected on examination. This evening, on conversing with a member of the 26th I learn that there has been some talk of sending one or two obviously incompetent officers before an examining board! So much for camp stories.
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[Louisiana] Jan. 19th. Commenced raining last evening & rained hard during night, & all this forenoon. Cleared off this afternoon, & this evening the stars are out clear & bright. Went down & saw the men in Hospital in afternoon—found most of them doing well.
[Louisiana] Jan. 17. Another very cold night, about like our Maine weather the middle or last of November. Last Monday night was very warm, & we had a warm rain Thursday; but the change since then has been greater than we often have at home at any season. This morning the ground was frozen considerably in low spots, & ice formed a quarter of an inch thick on small puddles of water. It is not strange that men get colds & coughs at such times. Had a Reg. inspection of arms & clothing this P.M. by the Lieut. Co.. & Major. I have made out a “certificate of disability” for Franklin Holbrook today, but there is some doubt about his getting a discharge, though I think he is very anxious to have one. He has been in Hosp. all the time we have been here. I have had a dry hacking cough for some days, though it is not very troublesome. Otherwise I feel very well.
[Louisiana] Jan. 16th. Am acting as “Officer of the Day” so have done nothing at drilling today. The Lieuts. took the Co. out this forenoon & this P.M., have gone on a Brigade Drill. Last night was very cold & this morning the ground was frosty, & some ice was to be seen in low spots.
[Louisiana] Jan. 15th. Finished & mailed a letter of 25 pages to Pamelia. Have been writing it at intervals for several days. I enclosed in it two ambrotypes taken in town last Monday—one of myself, the other of Lt. Jerrard[?] & self on the same plate. The Lt. had a single one of himself & a double one line mine taken at the same time. All to whom they were shown pronounced the good likenesses.
Today I have made discharges for Albert Brown, G. F. Davis, & Stevens of our Company. Brown & Davis have been troubled with rheumatic difficulties for a long time, B. having been in Hospital soon since we landed here, & Davis had done no duty for two months. They are to go before a board of Army Surgeons for examination, whose decision in their cases will settle the question whether they go or stay. I have little hope that either of those will be of much service here, but I think they would all recover if allowed to go North soon. Our number in Hospital today is 12, & 16 others are in quarters excused from duty be the surgeon. The sickness in the Regiment is fearful—nearly or quite a third of the men being unfit for duty, though not many are thought to be dangerously sick.
[Louisiana] Jan. 13th. This is to be set down as one of the bright days of soldier life—the mail from the North arrived, the first we have had since we left Newport News six weeks ago. As was natural there was intense joy in camp as the Chaplain rode in with a two bushel bag crammed with letters & papers. It took about an hour for several officers to sort the letters for the companies, when the Capt[ain]s took their Co.’s shares & distributed them at their own tents.
Nearly all the well men of Co. H had gone out in picket in the morning with Co. C, under command of Capt. Bolton, with Lieut. Richardson as subaltern. Lt. J. & I sorted & del[ivere]d those for the men in camp, then [illeg. word] for the pickets, & sent them off to them at once. I then took those for our men in Hospital & gladdened the poor fellows with from one to eight letters apiece. I found five for myself from home, from Pamelia & one from Mother. I first opened the two latest mailed & glanced over them to see whether all was well, & finding it was so, deferred the reading till all the others had been furnished with their letters.
I hurried back from the Hosp. & save myself up to the perusal of every line my letters contained. I did and do thank a kind Providence that had so mercifully preserved & prospered all the dear ones at home. The date of the latest was Dec. 18th—nearly a month ago, and many things may have happened in that time to mar the happiness of those at home; but I feel that it would be ungrateful to our Father in heaven to so distrust him as to be unhappy in absence of any knowledge. No, may he give me grace to trust him implicitly for the time to come, for myself & all those near and dear to me. I think every man in the company got at least one letter, & some a dozen or more, and almost all brought good news.
Jan. 11th. A beautiful day—the mud drying up fast & things about camp improving in appearance. There is a great deal of sickness in the regiment. In our Co. we report 26 unfit for duty today—9 in the Hospital & 15 in quarters. Among the latter is Orderly Sergt. True, who has been unwell several days. Had religious service this morning in the open air just in the rear of our tents—subject of the discourse, “Heaven.”
Jan. 7th. My health is improving, though I have not had strength to drill the company till yesterday. At nine o’clock this morning our Co. went out on picket about three fourths of a mile from camp, being “picket no. 4”. We occupied six posts beside the reserve, which was quartered in a vacant house. Everything was quiet on the lines day & night. In the afternoon I went with some of the men of the reserve to visit a plantation about a mile off, owned by Dr. H. Perkins. The house was a splendid one, richly furnished but the furniture is in ruins scattered all over the house. Chairs, tables, picture frames, &c. were broken in pieces, & the floors, covered with remnants of mirrors & table ware that had been wantonly smashed to pieces. The house had been lighted with gas made on the premises. The sugar house is an immense building containing a fine steam engine & sugar mill. Large lots of molasses was standing in the vats, which I allowed the boys to help themselves to & carry back to camp. Soldiers from other Regts. were constantly coming & helping themselves to anything that struck their fancy. Three of the negro women that we carried in when we were on picket before were from this estate. Not one of the slaves is now left in the place.
Jan. 4th. The sun rose clear & bright this morning, & the weather has been pleasant all [day], so that the effects of the rain are less evident than I supposed they would be. The roads become muddy with a little rain, but dry up quickly after the sun comes out. About breakfast time Mr. Langley came in to inform me that George, his brother, died at half past two o’clock this morning. I went at once to the Quartermaster & made arrangements for a coffin, & Lieut. Richardson went out to town with two men to dig a grave. I walked out about 10 o’clock & was so exhausted by the walk that I was obliged to lie down & rest for an hour so two. After making some arrangements for the burial, I started to return to camp, intended to return to the funeral with the Company. When near camp I met the Chaplain going out, who offered me his horse to ride, which I accepted with gratitude, for I was nearly beaten out. Came into camp & got a little tea & some crackers. The Company, with a portion of Co. G, started for town in advance of me. I than rode out to the Hospital where we formed a procession & marched to the graveyard, where we lowered our late comrade to his last resting place. Here the Chaplain read appropriate selections of scripture, & offered prayer, when the escort, eight men, fired three volleys over the open grave. When we marched away, leaving two men to fill the grave. We marched back to camp where we arrived before sunset, too late for dress parade. In the evening attended a prayer meeting in the [illegible word] tent. Today all the patients have been removed from the building that has been used for a Hospital to a large brick house near the State House.
Jan. 3d. Last night we were waked by firing, apparently heavy cannon down river. … Snowing during the night, & all day. Heavy thunder & sharp lightning a part of the time. This evening it is raining almost constantly, & the thunder is almost continuous. Our camp ground is getting very soft & will soon by muddy enough. This forenoon I rode to town … to see our men in the Hospital. All of them (ten in number) appeared to be improving, except poor George Langley, who lies very low with typhoid fever. He has lain almost wholly unconscious for several days. He opened his eyes while I stood by him, but did not recognize me. His brother has been with him almost constantly for a week, & will stay as long as he lives. [Read more…] about January 3, 1863