May 28

I wrote hastily yesterday, as we were ordered to move about the time I commenced; rested well last night; marched at 7 o'clock a. m.; arrived at the Pawmunky river about noon and crossed at Nelson's Ferry on a pontoon bridge without difficulty as our cavalry held the place; did not advance far south of the river before we ran into the enemy and captured two pieces of artillery; have been building breastworks this evening; are camped on Dr. Pollard'splantation, a lovely place, but much neglected owing to the war. Slight shower just at dark.

May Twenty-Eighth

Old time negroes intuitively knew who “belonged” to them and who did not. The following incident is told of Senator Sumner's visit to friends at Gallatin, Tennessee, some years before the war; the colloquy is between the Senator and “Old Virginia Jeff:”

“Jeff, I hear you call all the white folks down here ‘Marse'—‘Marse Henry,' ‘Marse John' or what not, isn't that true?”

“Yas, sah.”

“And you always call me ‘Mister Sumner.' Now, Jeff, here's a quarter. During the rest of my visit you call me Marse Charles, you hear?”

Major John C. Wrenshall


P. G. T. Beauregard born, 1818



May 28, 1864

Saturday. The night wore away and at 9 a. m. the new guard came. After my line was relieved I marched them back to guard headquarters to discharge them. A new order, that no loaded guns be allowed in camp, had come out, and I took them to the river bank to fire off the guns. I noticed that the gun next to me did not go off and told the man of it. He tried it again and still it didn't go. I then pricked some powder in the tube and snapped it, and as it didn't go off I tried the ramrod to see if it was loaded. The gun was nearly half full of something, and upon taking it to the armorer, who took out the breach, found the first charge had the bullet end down. The man could not account for it, but probably in the excitement of the Yellow Bayou fight he had got rattled and kept loading every time he snapped the gun. It is said such things do happen in volley firing, but I never before saw anything of the kind. I was glad enough the first charge was wrong end up. There were six charges in the gun and something must have happened if the first charge had exploded.

I then returned to our camp and slept till night.

273. Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

Braintree, 28 May, 1781.

My dear John,—I hope this letter will be more fortunate than yours have been of late. I know you must have written many times since I had the pleasure of receiving a line from you, for this month completes a year since the date of your last letter. Not a line from you or my dear Charles since you arrived in Holland, where I suppose you still are. I never was more anxious to hear, yet not a single vessel arrives from that port, though several are looked for.

I would recommend it to you to become acquainted with the history of that country, as in many respects it is similar to the Revolution of your own. Tyranny and oppression were the original causes of the revolt of both countries. It is from a wide and extensive view of mankind that a just and true estimate can be formed of the powers of human nature. She appears ennobled or deformed, as religion, government, laws, and custom guide or direct her. Fierce, rude, and savage in the uncultivated desert; gloomy, bigoted, and superstitious where truth is veiled in obscurity and mystery; ductile, pliant, elegant, and refined, you have seen her in that dress, as well as in the active, bold, hardy, and intrepid garb of your own country.

Inquire of the historic page, and let your own observations second the inquiry, Whence arises the difference? and when compared, learn to cultivate those dispositions, and to practice those virtues, which tend most to the benefit and happiness of mankind.

The great Author of our religion frequently inculcated universal benevolence, and taught us both by precept and example, when He promulgated peace and good-will to man, a doctrine very different from that which actuates the hostile invaders and the cruel ravagers of mighty kingdoms and nations.

I hope you will be very particular, when you write, and let me know how you have passed your time in the course of the year past.

Your favorable account of your brother gave me great pleasure, not only as it convinced me that he continues to cultivate that agreeable disposition of mind and heart which so greatly endeared him to his friends here, but as it was a proof of the brotherly love and affection of a son not less dear to his parents.

I shall write to your brother, so shall only add the sincere wishes for your improvement and happiness of

Your ever affectionate


May 28, 1863

There was too much going on yesterday for me to write any more. Dow's Brigade was not forgotten. Soon after noon it went through the woods to the open space beyond, and was soon in the thickest of the fight. The guns in our front, that had sent us no message all the forenoon, soon began to send them rattling through the tree tops again. We non-combatants were in a terrible suspense. Finally my curiosity got the better of my fears and I started after them, for I wanted to see what a real battle was like. When I got to the cleared space I saw very little but smoke. I met a wagon with a wounded man on the seat with the driver, his face covered with blood, which ran over it from a wound on his head. He was mad clear through, and swore vengeance on the Rebs, when he got at them again. In the wagon, lying on his back, was another who was groaning terribly, but so far as I could see was not likely to die from his wounds, for only a little finger was gone from one hand, which he tenderly held up with the other. I was glad to note he did not belong to the 128th. I ventured on and came upon Sergeant Bell of Company G standing beside the dead body of Colonel Cowles. Bell said the colonel was killed when the Rebs first opened on them, his uniform making him a marked man. Bell said he was near him when he fell and helped him to a sitting position, turning him about, as he said he wanted to die facing the enemy. Captain Keese of Company C was also near when the colonel was hit and was directed to take command. Several others lay around where they had fallen. Venturing on I came to the magnolia grove in which the Slaughter mansion stood. Company B was here, in support of a section of the Indiana Mule Battery. Having nothing to do but defend the battery, if an attempt was made to capture it, they were lying close to the ground behind the big trees. The battery was shelling the Rebs, and the Rebs were shelling the battery, and the shot or shells had furrowed the ground. The boys said Philip Allen and Sergeant Kniffin were both badly wounded, and had been taken off the field. Riley Burdick, our orderly sergeant, was missing, as were several others. I could see nothing of the rebel works for the smoke, but the noise was deafening. As it might be an all-night job, I decided to go back and try and get something for them to eat. I got back as fast as I could and with the cooks started with a big kettle of coffee and some hard-tack. We kept in the edge of the woods to a point nearest the company and at right angles to the line of fire and then I scuttled across with the coffee. After passing it around I returned for the hard-tack, and was giving them out when a shell came through, hitting the ground and throwing dirt all over us. Soon another one came, hitting a big tree a glancing blow, and went on into the woods beyond. The sergeant of the battery said he could see the flash and would sing out, which would give me time to fall before the shell got there, and I legged it for all I was worth. About halfway across he yelled, and I tried to fall, but before I hit the ground the thing was beyond me. In fact it didn't come very near me. I was going at right angles to the line of fire, and might have known they couldn't see me for the smoke, and would not waste a big shell on one man. The musket firing was on lower ground and nearer the breastworks, but I only knew by the popping of the rifles and what the boys told me, for the smoke hid everything. We got back just in time to see the doctors fix up a shattered shin bone for General Sherman. He lay on a stretcher and was talking constantly, though the doctors said he knew nothing and felt nothing. From the hole in his leg, something bigger than a bullet had gone through it. They pulled out the loose pieces of bone with pincers, taking hold and yanking at every end that showed. Then they ran their fingers in and felt for more. Finally they stuffed it full of cotton to stop the blood and then bound it up with long strips of muslin. The firing grew less and less, but the wounded came faster and faster. Colonel Cowles' body was sent under a guard to the landing, on its way to New Orleans, where it will be made ready to send home. Sergeant Bell went with it, taking his sword, watch, and other personal effects, also his dying message, "Tell my mother I died with my face to the enemy." General Dow, our brigadier, was shot in the foot and taken to the house right by us. George Story is detailed for his bodyguard. One of the boys said the Rebs began at the wrong end of the general. The dead soldiers were left where they fell. After we got settled down and the excitement began to wear off the question of something to eat came up. The boys on duty at the front would be hungry by morning, and we wondered if we couldn't find something more filling than hard-tack. John Pitcher had found out that not far away some Irish potatoes were growing and big enough to eat; also that directly behind the house where General Dow was nursing his foot was a yard with a high board fence around it, with two bloodhounds on guard inside, and that along one side of it was a bench upon which were several hives of bees, and that a gate or door in the fence opened out, and only a little way from the end of the bench. We got a rope from the quartermaster sergeant and set out. The potatoes were easy—simply had to crawl into the patch and dig with our fingers until our haversacks were full. The bees, however, were not so easy on account of the dogs. As they had barked pretty much all the time since we landed in the neighborhood, no one came from the house to see about it. We found they would follow on their side of the fence wherever we went on ours. John then went along the fence, and the dogs followed, leaving me at the gate. When they were at the farthest side, I opened the gate and having made a slipnoose in the rope, I had just time to slip it over the nearest beehive and get out before they were there. I kept still and soon John had them on his side of the yard again, when by quick work I yanked the hive through the gate and closed it before they got to me. The hive had landed on its top, and the bees and honey, were all smashed together. But enough of them could crawl to make it lively for us before we got the mixture into a mess pan. We were stung several times before we got home, but we got there and all hands had a feast of hard-tack and honey. We had no way to strain the bees out, so we spread bees and honey on the hard-tack and then picked the bees off as well as we could. As it was, I got a stinger in my tongue, which soon began to swell. It kept on until I was afraid I would need a doctor and in that way give the whole thing away. But it finally stopped and by morning I was all right again. This brings us up to this morning, May 29th.