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A Day In The Life ...

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  • A Day In The Life ...

    To get things started in our revamped forum, I thought I would contribute quotes from a day in the life of those who endured the War.

    The first if from 2Lt. Robert M. Collins of Co. I, 6th, 10th & 15th Texas Regiment, from the Winter Quarters of the Army of Tennessee at Tunnel Hill, Georgia, on December 9th, 1863:

    “There is quite a difference in the appearance of the winter quarters of an army of volunteers, where every man or mess is left to be the sole judge of size, kind and quality of the houses they will build, and those of the regular army, where the whole matter is under the management of a quartermaster, skilled workmen and a civil engineer. In our winter quarters there was as great a variety of architecture as there is to be found in any city or town in the country. The thrifty, industrious soldier puts up a nice house, his style of architecture is good, everything is kept in its place. While the lazy, shiftless soldier throws up most any sort of pen out of odds and ends that he can pick up here and there, and his larder and outfit for housekeeping is about on the same line, and if his quarters are not inspected every day or two by the officer of the day, he will allow it to get as filthy as a pig pen. In the army, as in civil life, our observations lead us to remark that, “the fittest survive.” In other words, the soldier who takes care of himself, and is watchful and industrious, generally gets enough to eat and is seldom sick, and possesses the powers of endurance. It requires an industrious, temperate man to make a successful soldier. But enough of this philosophy.

    In a week or so, we were all tucked away in some sort of style, then commenced the routine of camp duty. While we were not in the immediate presence of the enemy, yet the danger of surprise was great, and our line of picketts was as strong as at Chattanooga, and was placed some mile and a half in front of our main line across the creek.”

    Scott McKay, moderator
    Last edited by ; 12-09-2003, 09:15 PM. Reason: too dumb to customize sig file

  • #2
    Virginia winter quarters

    Here's another account of winter quarters, but in Virginia:

    SOUTHERN ILLUSTRATED NEWS, January 31, 1863, p. 3, c. 1-3
    Written for the Illustrated News.
    Outlines from the Outpost:Being The Recollections, Reveries and Dreams
    of Tristan Joyeuse, Gent.

    . . . A log chimney is a good thing to have on the outpost.

    Mine is the supreme result of excellent design, and heroic perseverance in the face of difficulty. My assistant, a sympathizing friend, and an African of ebon hue, concentrated our genius upon it—and it smoked.

    It smoked! Terrible charge against a chimney—as tho' you said of your wife, "She scolds!" With this important difference, however, that a smoking chimney is far easier to manage, than a scolding wife, I fancy—having only tried the former, as you know. To cause the obdurate smoke to ascend instead of descending—that was now the question; and a reconnoissance in force revealed the origin of the enemy's persistent inroads on my peace and comfort. The logs, toward the tent, and just above the beam, leaned too much backward, as they gradually ascended; and in a resolute moment, I tore down the wall of wood and clay, and recommenced above, that is, from the beam.

    Soon the noble structure rose, gracefully notched, and picturesquely fitted with the rough ends sticking out, in all their native beauty. Mud was then applied by the hands of the useful body guard, above mentioned—a barrel was then perched upon the summit—and the admiring loungers who had given numerous directions, as the work proceeded, pronounced the structure perfect.

    I had left the edifice in my African's hand to finish, while I went out to dine. At dinner, and throughout the afternoon I was ill at ease. In vain did lovely woman, the "soldier's friend," exert all her powers, and exhaust her charms. I was far too anxious—a cruel solicitude tormented me. Like a man, in face of an impending woe, I could not laugh or even talk. "Did my chimney smoke?"—that was the recurring thought, the thorn in the side of my festive enjoyment. Anxiety so great could not be long endured—and I tore myself away—made haste to return—and entered my tent.

    An excellent fire was burning—and not a particle of smoke was descernible! [sic] Nostrils rendered supernaturally acute by deep anxiety could not perceive a trace of it!

    I went out to the rear of my tent and reconnoitred. The spectacle was satisfactory—soothing. There was the noble structure durably built of well notched logs, plastered with mud; and on its summit, rising gracefully, an empty flour barrel.

    Satisfied, relieved of all anxiety—victor over logs, and mud and smoke, your friend returned with a tranquil heart to the department of the interior. He lit his pipe; he gazed around—monarch of a smokeless kingdom, and content.

    Would you like to know what his eyes fell upon—the familiar objects which greeted his vision? I think so, if my feelings are the gauge of your own. I know that I should like to hear how you were surrounded at this moment, whether warmly housed in some den like mine, or sitting with your back against a tree, by the bivouac fire.

    The world is anxious to know the habits, modes of life, and "ways" of celebrated warriors, or statesmen, or writers—but I prefer to be told all about my friends. Do you? At least I will think so; and here is what the eyes of your friend perceived by the ruddy forelight of the winter evening.

    You may call it, if you choose, the Inventory of goods and effects of Tristan Joyeuse, Gent.

    1 Table and Desk, the latter containing Macaulay's History of England, Vol. V.—Recreations of Christopher North—Army Regulations—Consuelo, by George Sand—Bragelonne, by the great Dumas—The Monk's Revenge—and several official papers. A Bible and Prayer Book too, which Joyeuse still retains the habit, he is glad to say, of reading, night and morning. Flanking the literary contents—a bag of tobacco—a laurel pipe of curious design, the gift of Bumpo—an old ink bottle—a pistol, cartridges and sabre; the latter with a rusty scabbard.

    2 Wooden chairs.

    1 Mess chest, only half as convenient as the old cannon ammunition box, long used for a like purpose—with compartments, formerly for "spherical case," now serving to hold coffee, sugar, and much more.

    4 Blankets, neatly folded, on a bed of straw, kept in its place by a log—one blanket having been brought to me lately from the North, and delivered in a Yankee camp, free of expense, the owner not even staying to take his receipt.

    1 India rubber "Poncho," excellent for rainy days on horseback, also furnished gratis, on the same occasion, the agent of delivery having been suddenly called away. My Poncho, this is, fitting perfectly; but, doubtless, by mistake—marked with another's name.

    1 Valise, black leather, formerly used on summer journeys to the mountains, now for a wardrobe. It lies at the head of my bed, and is always open by reason of excessive cramming; containing as it does at present, the stowed away spoils of Christmas in the shape of variegated shirts, cravats, ribbed socks, and all my most valuable effects.

    1 Saddle, bridle and accoutrements, on a rack, at foot of bed, in the corner.

    2 Overcoats, which have been through the wars, and will cheerfully be exchanged for one which has not.

    1 Pile of wood, by fire, and 1000 other things "too tedious to mention," but convenient.

    Such are the material surroundings of your old friend Joyeuse, at this place of halt in his pilgrimage. . . .

    Vicki Betts
    Last edited by dusty27; 12-10-2003, 09:22 AM.


    • #3
      Re: A Day In The Life ...

      Wow - thanks Vicki!!
      Soli Deo Gloria
      Doug Cooper

      "The past is never dead. It's not even past." William Faulkner

      Please support the CWT at


      • #4
        Re: A Day In The Life ...

        Great idea Scott an also a good posting Vicki. To add to this, it seems that at this time 140 years ago in Dalton, GA there was a lot of hut building. I thought I would post the following:

        From JOHNNY GREEN OF THE ORPHAN BRIGADE, "We reached Dalton late n the afternoon of Nov 27th 1863. This is almost a mountainous country. Rock Face Ridge looms up as a young mountain; the dirt road and the Rail Road find their way through this range by ay of Mill Creek Gap & here we go into camp just out side of the Gap. It is drizzling and cold, & such a piercing wind blowing that it chills the marrow in our bones. Our wagons soon reached us in which each mess has an axe, a frying pan, a camp kettle & we were fortunate enough to have a tent fly. We immediately began to cut pine saplings to make us a hut over which to stretch the tent fly. Some went for water, some built a fie & some set to work to sift our meal, make corn bread, toast the meal husk & make coffee from it & fry our bacon, for we were fortunate enough to have a small piece of bacon. We thought it was a fine supper & counted ourselves almost comfortable notwithstanding the wind blew through our hut so. But we got our blankets partially dry and soon went to bed.
        The morning of the 28th much to our disgust we were ordered to fall in ready to march. We broke camp and marched through the Gap nearly 2 miles & began again to make ourselves comfortable for winter quarters. John Jackman the Adjutats clerk, & I will build a hut for the Adjutants office & serve as our own quarters. Jack is pretty good at such work if he was not so lazy. At home he was first a carpenter, then a school teacher & now a rather lazy soldier, but a christian gentleman. I have to keep at him though to get him to do any of the dirty & hard work.
        We have howevr finally finished a very nice hut with pine poles, a tent fly for a roof & a stick chimney. The Jambs & the back of the fire place are built of rocks which are plentiful here. John is a good forager after reading matter & we have had from his efforts in that direction Jean Van Jean [Les Miserables], the Three Guards Men [Musketeers] & the Bride of Lammermore."

        Now for the other side of the story, from DIARY OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER: JOHN S. JACKMAN OF THE ORPHAN BRIGADE;

        "Nov. 30th.-To-day our wagons came up from Resaca. Johnny G. and I immediately fixed up our fly-we had no tent-by weatherboarding the back end and building a fire in front. At night, we had our blankets spread down on a bed of leaves, an slept '40 miles an hour.'....Two or three days after, we moved camp over on the railroad about a half mile from town, and the boys immediately commenced putting up cabins for winter quarters. The nature of the ground does not permit the brigade to b all camped together and the different regiments have selected grounds to suit themselves. I like our 'parish' finely. Bro. W., the day we moved, went to his command, Carter's scouts, which is encamed close to Dalton...Dec. 14th.- Johnnie G. and I have again commenced internal, or rather external, improvements. We built a chimney to our fly to-day. Dec. 15th-we have concluded to build a house for the winter, and have been cutting and hauling pine logs for the purpose, to-day. The troops had four pounds of sweet potatoes issued to-day in lieu of bread. 'Hard up.' 'Ike'. who as been ver to the cavalry camp, says they are worse off. He says the 'spurred' gentry are cutting down old trees, and robbing the wood-peckers of their winter stores of acorns, to the great discomforture of te red-headed foresters. He says he saw an old wood-pecker expostulate in vain with a cavalryman, to leave her stores alone."
        Lee White
        Researcher and Historian
        "Delenda Est Carthago"
        "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"


        • #5
          Re: A Day In The Life ...

          Here is another one from Virginia. Things weren't that comfortable during the first winter of the conflict for Jackson's boys. Garibaldi was in the 27th VA.

          Camp Stevenson, Virginia, December 30, 1861
          Dear Miss-

          I received yours of the 24 instant just yesterday evening from which I understand with the greatest pleasure that you was well and also the whole of the family, with the whole of the neighbors around you. This leaves me enjoying a perfect good health as it has been the case always. We have had right merry Christmas, we had plenty to eat such as it was and plenty to drink, pretty near the whole of Holloway's company was drunk. The Captain bought about 10 or 15 gallons of liquor and gave it to the company, he was right merry himself. The whole of the 27 regiment was almost drunk even the Colonels, they were drunk too.

          The last letter I wrote you I told you that we were under marching orders, but we did not know where to and now that we all got back safe, except one killed out of our Regiment, belonging to the Rockbridge Rifles, and another slightly wounded by a shell belonging to the artillery, I can tell you where we have been. We left this camp on Monday morning at three o'clock and reached the Potomac river on the second day after dark, at the dam number five about ten miles above Williamsport, there we remained for four days breaking the dam in order to dry the water in the Ohio and Chesapeake canal so as to prevent provisions being carried into Washington by that road.

          The only time that we could work at it was at night in the darkest so as to keep from being shot from the Yankees from the opposite side of the river. They had full view at us in the day time, we had to descend down on the dam from a high precipice of steep rocks while they on the other side they had a small hill, which was in cultivation, to descend to the dam and had a full view at us. We, in the day time, had to march way from there and go out in the countries where we had a full view of then and then march back again in the night after about seven o'clock. We had left our tents about midway between here and the river, therefore we had no tents to sleep in, neither could we make any fire in the night in order to keep from being seen by the enemy, but we [had] good overcoats and blankets enough to keep from freezing.

          There was a great large mill just below the dam, and was burn'd up by the shells thrown in there by the enemy on the second night. A company from our regiment called the Rockbridge Rifles was in the mill guarding those that were working on the dam just as the mill was set a fire from the other side they came out and that was when one of them got killed by a bombshell. They had a narrow path to go through where no more than one at a time could pass and the Yankees were throwing balls as fast as they could at the same time. Some of them remained behind rocks all day and came out at night about ten or fifteen remained there all day and didn't come out till night. I anxious to see the Yankees crept up behind rocks and remained there hid for about an hour and shot several times at the Yankees. After I got tire to stay there I got up and walked off, and as I was going away from my hidden place I believe there was no less than five or six shot at me but none of them hitted me, it was almost too far off to be killed by a ball although there was several of the Yankees shot we could see them laying on the ground and when they were falling.

          There was a constant shooting from each side of the river from morning till night, it was no regular battle only for those that wanted to fight could go and take up a position on this side of the river and fire away as much as they wanted. The general came by one evening and looked very much pleased at the boys and said pitch in boys it is a free fight. We killed a good many Yankees and they only killed one of us. After we succeeded in breaking the dam, we came back to our old camp where we now are. It is believed that we shall leave here and go to Romney to have a fight with the Yankees. This is the general belief, that we will march in a day or two and if we go Romney we shall have a hard fight in driving away the enemy from behind their fortifications. They are just now taking a list of all the cartridges we have in order to give us a full supply and march us off to Romney. I have a heap more to tell you but I haven't time to do it for we have to go out on a general review. So goodbye. I send you my likeness also. So Goodbye.

          John Garibaldi

          To Miss Sarah A.V. Poor

          Write to me as soon as you get this and direct your letter where you did the last one.
          Mike "Dusty" Chapman

          Member: CWT, CVBT, NTHP, MOC, KBA, Stonewall Jackson House, Mosby Heritage Foundation

          "I would have posted this on the preservation folder, but nobody reads that!" - Christopher Daley

          The AC was not started with the beginner in mind. - Jim Kindred


          • #6
            Re: A Day In The Life ...

            Great replys folks!

            When I started this thread, I wasn't intending to start a thread about Winter Quarters per say; I was just wanting to get something going with a 'day in the life' quote mirroring the same day that I started the thread.

            But because of it, there have been some great winter quarter accounts that have been presented.

            Here's a letter that was written just three days before the writer and his fellow 4,000 defenders of Arkansas Post would be captured and hence be sent to Northern prison. This letter was written by Pvt. James N. Orr of Co. G, 18th Texas Dismounted Cavalry:

            Arkansas Post, Ark.
            January 4, 1863

            Dear Mother,

            With pleasure I write you a few lines to inform you of our health and whereabouts. We have had excellent health ever since we left Camp Nelson
            [Ed: Near Austin, Arkansas]. We have gone into winter quarters at this place. We have built good houses and is very comfortably scituated. There is a good many troops at this place, and we ary very well fortified. There is not much prospect of an attack by the enemy at this place, as it seems that the forces are being concentrated at VixBurg. If our forces are defeteated there, I dont think we will be attacked attal. Capt. McNut’s Company (of this place) captured a Federal boat last week about six miles below Napolean [Ed: Capt. Nutt, Commander of the future Co. L, 6th, 10th & 15th Texas Infantry, from May 23, 1863 to March 5, 1864.]. It was laded with ammunition and comisarys bound for Vixburg. We got about two hundred thousand dollars worth of amunition, a large amount of comisary, about twenty-five prisoners, and all the Northern mail; so we have plenty of Northern papers of the latest dates to reade and some of the most interesting letters I ever saw. They was written by the young ladies to thare sweet hearts in the army. From what I can learn from these papers I think they are as tired of the war as we are.

            ...I will try to tell you someting about our mess. We have built us a huge fourteen by sixteen feet square, and our mess mates are Tom McKiney, Tom Hargus, Jack Chappel, and Wash Morgan. It is given up that we have the best mess in the company; so you may tell Sammy
            [Ed: his little brother] that we are now fixed to entertain company, and he must come over and see us. Tell him when he gets to the Fort not to get sceared at the big guns and run back, that they are only put hear to wak up the babyes in Arkansaw. Thell him if he will come we will give him a mess of corn bread, beef, and peas for his dinner. We are badly fed now and have been ever since we got to this place; we get nothing but cornbread, beef, and occasionally a few peas and moslases. The boys all seeme to enjoye themselves very much. The health of this army at this place is very good; our neighbors boys are all well and in good spirits.

            As it is getting late, I will bring this badly written letter to a close. Tell Mary. she must write...and tell me what sort of time she had during Cristmas. We had a dull time here Cristmas; I and Fayette cut house logs all day Cristmas; so you can easily guiss how Cristmas was at this place. ...Let me know what this last conscript law has done for all the men under forty years of age... Your Affectionate Son, J. N. Orr

            P. S. Direct your letters to Little Rock, Arkansas, 18th Regiment, Col. Dishler’s
            [Ed: Deshlers’] Briggade, General Churchill Command, C. S. Army.

            [Campaigning with Parson’s Texas Cavalry Brigade, CSA - John Q. Anderson, Editor]
            Last edited by ; 12-11-2003, 07:53 PM.


            • #7
              Who wouldn't be an orderly sergeant?

              Orderly Sergeant Joshua Callaway of Co. K, 28th Alabama Infantry describing his daily duties in the summer of 1862 near Tupelo, Mississippi:

              Camp near Tupelo, Miss.
              Monday, June 16th, 1862.

              “… I have gone through my regular routine of business this morning and marched half a mile to an old field & drilled two hours & come back and made out a regular report of all the Quarter Master Stores lost by our company in the evacuation of Corinth; and it is not yet eleven o’clock. Mine has been no lazy life since I became a soldier, to prove which I propose to give you the order of my business, which I know you will agree is laborious, but for the faithful performance of it, being always at my post and my written reports being always correct and neat & clean, I have the reputation of being the best Orderly Sergeant in the Reg. Some of our Co. say the best in the world.

              Every morning at day light the drum beats Roll Call. I get up then, form the company, call the Roll & then put the company to cleaning up the camp, sweeping out the street &c, after which I have to make the list of the men who report themselves sick. I then gather them all up, who are able, and march them down to the Surgeon’s Office and have them examined and take a list of those who are excused from duty, and then march them back to quarters. I then make out my morning report and carry it to the Adjutant; I then come back & record the names of the men who are detailed for any kind of service – guard or fatigue; by this time it is 8 o’clock, the time for Guard Mounting. I call out those detailed for brigade guard, inspect their arms (guns & ammunition) and march them out and stay until the first guard mounting is over. I then go back and call out those detailed for camp guard, inspect their arms and march them out to the second guard mounting and stay till it is over. By this time it is 9 o’clock and the drum beats for company drill. I then parade the company, call the Roll, & form the company properly & we go out and drill till eleven o’clock. Then if there are any returns to make or reports, in writing, I have it to do; if there are any provisions to draw or Quarter Master Stores to draw I have to make out the requisition. I also have to record all of the general orders and some of the Articles of War (all those affecting the private soldier) and read them at Roll Calls. These I have to write whenever I can.

              By this time, and generally before I get through, 3 o’clock comes, & I then parade & form the company, call the Roll, and we go out on Battalion Drill till 5 o’clock in the evening; we then come in & I finish, if I can by super, doing my work. At 8 o’clock the drum beat tattoo. I then form the company and call the Roll again, and if I lack anything of having done all my work, I finish after everybody has gone to sleep. I sometimes write until midnight, especially if I write a letter. Now during all this time I am called a hundred times by the officer of the day, Sergeant Major, Adjutant, Quarter Master, Commissary, & others for men to do something about the camp – bury a dead horse, or man, to fill up some hole, or something.

              Surely it is no wonder that I don’t write any more letters than I do.”

              1st Sergeant Joshua K. Callaway,
              Co. K, 28th Alabama Infantry

              Tom Ezell


              • #8
                Re: A Day In The Life ...

                Come on now, what about them Yankee demons. :D Couldn't they write? Sorry, all my journals are packed away at my Mom's place until me and the new Mrs. find a house.