In Camp. Did not “turn in” till after twelve last night. Slept well. Cleaned up somewhat before breakfast, though had cleaned up my gun before. After breakfast gave away what hard-tack I had left. Many of our boys got out of rations yesterday. Mine lasted well. Relieved a half past twelve. Corporal Loring and I came in together. Called at Mr. Bolen’s, but got no cabbage—two S[harp] Shooters getting ahead of us. Rested at Widow _____’s[!] beyond the brick church. Saw the only young man I have seen in the South. All are old men that I find at home, the young ones having taken up arms. This young man pretended to be sick. I believe he is a guerilla. Saw a negro near Mr Rixie’s or Rixey’s 101 yrs. of age last Christmas, an intelligent old darkey. He wishes to live long enough to see all his children, five of which he has, free. One reply to a remark of mine was quite apt and witty. In conversation I remarked “Why not you favor the south, your massa does.” He and me are two colors he quickly and aptly replied. During his life he had been used well part of the time but not always. Cut across by Mrs. Bradford’s, of whom I have heard so much lately. She is secesh. Her husband is a prisoner somewhere North. One of her darkies said she did not use them well once, but does better now. War will make changes in the condition of the negro. God be praised! Saw one regular “hoggish nigger.” Reached camp at four o’clock, having been three hours coming from Mr. Bolen’s here through the mud. Hungry enough. Two papers and one letter waiting my arrival. Expected more. Don’t see why I don’t hear from home. Call from cousin George Jones, who arrived last night. Had a good chat with him. Glad he has arrived. Called to see the Dr. Found him quite sick. Wrote a letter for Lieut. Richards in regard to the movements of our Co. the past two months. One of the most beautiful day[s] for this season I ever saw. Clear, warm, and spring-like, a May-day in December.
17th Maine Infantry
Picket Reserve. It cleared up this forenoon, and was very pleasant. Went up the line this forenoon. Found the posts very far apart, and the line crooked enough to be military. Purchased 8 eggs at the Alms House for 25 cts. Four fried made me a good meal on my return to the reserve. Just as[i.e., at] dark, returned to the Alms House and got supper. Cabbage, roast pork, corn cake, hard tack, parsnips, butter and coffee. Found the family “secesh.” The old man, the keeper, is naturally despondent, and seems somewhat melancholy. He is a sincere man, a Christian, but deluded. We asked the blessing before we eat supper, the only blessing I have heard (I believe) asked since I left my own dear home. We agreed in this, that differ as we might in regard to other things we must be united in regard to our belief in God. The “Hard Shells” predominate in this section. Other societies are found, viz. Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, &c. Culpepper Co. numbered from 6 to 9 thousand inhabitants, previous to the war. At his house, he formerly had about 30 paupers, but now he has only 14. His daughter is secesh all over. Thinks every man will fight till he is dead. She is willing to suffer. Found it dark to pick my way back to my quarters. Secesh cavalry reported in front today. Our Cavalry moved out the turnpikes yesterday. A very beautiful and spring-like day this.
Picket Reserve. This morning made preparation for inspection, but just before I got fully ready it commenced to rain, and then I was among the detailed to perform picket duty. So inspection or my visiting Lieut. W. W. Morrell at Rappahannock Station was up. There were 150 of our reg’t sent out this morning. We had a wet, muddy time walking in the rain. We halted in a piece of woods near a brick house on our right. After resting several minutes we put[!] along. Passed Mr. Rixie’s or Rixey’s house on the left, and in the woods beyond a brick church where we saw our Cavalry on our retreat from Culpepper Oct. 11. Here one of the Zouaves was waiting to escort us to the picket-line, as our right was to relieve the Sharp Shooters on the left of the Zouaves. Passed the house, in front of which we halted just before drawing up in line of battle ‘in the open field.’ About half past one reached our first post, having been three hours on the road and travelled 6 good long hard rough miles. Serg. Hobbs, acting Lieut. and my self fortunate enough to get on the reserve, immediately in the rear of the second post on the right. Lieuts. Green & Graffam had to go farther along. Our line extends in a crooked zigzag direction between the “pike” called “Mud pike,” leading to El Dorado, and the Sperryville pike leading from Culpepper past our old camp at Culpepper, full three miles, according to all accounts. On this line we have 18 posts, so that our boys on the left have a long distance beyond the reserve to go. Found good fires and plenty of wood. They were needed to dry our wet clothes. We shortly made quarters to keep us from the rain somewhat. There were 23 of us in all in the reserve. It rained all day. A wet time for out-door work.
Today is Christmas, the anniversary of the Advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The day has seemed more like the Sabbath than any day I have spent in the army. Of course work has been done, but we have had no inspection nor review, and divine services have been held. This morning Hobbs and I went over to Botts’ woods, from which the guard has been taken and ”backed” some wood into camp. At dinner time our mail due at night came in and I received a letter from Miss Godding containing a Christmas present in shape of a Photograph of Mr. Larrabee of Gardiner. It was kind and thoughtful in Miss G. to send that letter with the expectation that it would reach me on Christmas. Such acts or deeds of kindness render our friends dearer to us than costly gifts, or gold. It afforded me much pleasure to think of the contents of the letter, and to know that friends in the North were thinking of us soldiers in the field. How many prayers ascend today in our behalf from the loving and loyal hearts of our many dear friends in our northern home as they bow with reverence around the family altars consecrated to our God and Father!! [Read more…] about December 25, 1863
Washed and fixed up as a home sometimes. Wrote to Ed. Smith. Visited 3d Maine to see Dr. Colman. Wrote Miss carter acknowledging the receipt of her present—night cap. Fair and cold. Most splendid moonlight evening.
Rain last night troubled us not. Made preparations for inspection at 2 ½ o’clock today. Overcast today. A very beautiful sunset tonight. Ancient or Modern Painters can in no way equal the splendor of Nature’s beauty when she adorns herself in Her most brilliant, and attractive colors. Not much accomplished today. Tent no nearer done than in the morning. Dirty, and lousy, too, as one needs expect such weather as this. Mud plenty. Guerillas reported to have torn up several miles of railroad, and burnt a bridge last night or today.
Continued to work on our tent. Got it so as to move in to it tonight. Purchased boards of Mr. Woods. Cold and chilly foreboding storm. Medicine of the Dr. Last night and this morning operated well.
Worked on our tent today. Got the body up. Very fine day.
Very fair this morning, but at an early hour it clouded up and commenced raining. Rained hard part of the time. Noble & I went on a “wild goose chase” after boards. Felt sleepy and dumpish all the afternoon & evening. Wrote to Ellen.
No drill. Have been sleepy and lazy. Written to George. Overcast, rainy, cold today. Very uncomfortable most of the time.