[Louisiana] Tuesday. Rained hard last night & this forenoon, preventing the Grand Review of the forces which was to have taken place before Gen. Auger this afternoon. Had a Battalion drill in afternoon, but I have done no duty for the day, have a diarrhea. Have been issuing clothing to the Company, & this evening orders are issued to have all the men furnished with good suits, if they are not yet supplied. Extra clothing, baggage, & ordnance stores are to be stored at this post, which looks like a forward movement soon.
[Louisiana] Monday. Engaged a newly escaped Contraband to do our cooking. He is a mulatto, twenty-six years old, a native of New Orleans, by the name of Victor. He has lately lived with a rebel master about five miles below here, on the other side of the river. He appears intelligent & speaks French as well as English, though he cannot read. Was a house servant at New Orleans, but of late has worked at coopering. His wife came here before him, & on his arrival last Sunday found she had linked her fortune with another!
[Louisiana] Saturday. Pretty languid and weak today, though not sick. I find that I have little physical strength here in this country, even when I feel otherwise pretty well, and think the same is true of nearly all in our Reg. The men were busy all the forenoon washing clothes, & this afternoon have been clearing up a parade ground in part of the encampment. The weather is mild this evening & the men are feeling pretty well. I think the health of the Reg. is improving.
[Louisiana] Friday. Well, the order came this forenoon to strike tents & move to ground just north of our present location, & some hundred rods distant. We began packing up at once & got our tents pitched again about 2 o’clock. The new spot is better than that we left, as the ground slopes down & can thus be more easily drained. It appears to have been a kind of common, perhaps used to pasture city cows. Old rotten stumps stand here & there, & tall woods & thorn bushes abound. With a little labor, therefore, we can put the ground in tolerable condition for our purpose. It is doubtful whether we shall be permitted to stop here long, as this is the ninth complete remove we have made within about three months! After all it makes little difference, as “the nine months are going on,” as the boys say on almost every occasion. Some fresh beef reached our camp soon after we had got the tents pitched. Two hind quarters came to our cooks & were put under a tent cloth near the fire. A short time after the Quartermaster called me aside & said: “Capt. C., they are hunting for some fresh beef that has been killed today. I thought I would just mention it to you!” I lost no time in putting the boys on their guard, & it was soon disposed of—ways that I think the rebels are hardly “up to.” Small quantities were put under tent floors, & one quarter cut into several pieces & put in a pork barrel by the cooks fire & covered with salt pork! If the owners are keen enough of scent to find it there, & can identify it, of course they will get it.
[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.
[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.