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We had a case of small-pox break out in camp during this month, but the prompt measures taken by the doctor prevented its spreading.
On the 6th we received orders to be in readiness to march at daylight, but they were subsequently countermanded. Rumors were always circulating about camp as to what we were going to do, but the old reliable, "All quiet on the Potomac," was kept standing in the newspapers, though "On to Richmond" occasionally made its appearance to relieve the monotony.
On the 26th a substitute, in order to make things lively, set fire to the building occupied by the picket reserve, endangering the lives of the men who were lying in it asleep. The time was fast approaching when the boys, becoming exasperated, were thinking of taking the law into their own hands. This fire had one good effect, as it served as a beacon to several officers and soldiers who had escaped from Richmond, and were seeking our lines. They were accompanied by four negroes.
On the 29th a lieutenant of the Eightieth Illinois, being among the last who came through the tunnel under "Libby prison," approached our lines and was challenged, when he answered, "Friends without the countersign." Upon being admitted, he was so overjoyed he knew not what to do or say. Shortly after leaving Richmond, he was laid up by a bad knee, stopping at the cabin of a negro who concealed him and cared for him until he was able to travel, and then accompanied him to our lines. They travelled only nights, and were helped along by negroes. The last two days he was near the rebel lines, but kept out of sight. On this night, before the moon was up, they crossed the Rapidan between the rebel pickets, and entered our lines. He was sent by a special engine to army headquarters.
The following order is inserted to offset any impression that may arise in the minds of our readers that all the deprivations or hardships fell upon the private soldier:
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION,
Gambling within the limits of this division is prohibited. The attention of brigade and regimental commanders is called to the suppression of this evil. By command of
S. M. MORGAN,
Lieutenant and A. A. A. G.
It will be seen by this communication that even the brigade and regimental commanders had their sorrows. There were a good many orders issued in the army that were prompted more by a splenetic condition of the mind than the good of the service. Considering our kind regard for General Robinson, it may seem a sacrilege to say so, yet, when this order was read to the rank and file, we immediately concluded that the "old man" had been "roasted" the night before by some of his "brigade and regimental commanders."
The language of this order was too plain to be misunderstood, except by a person whose mind was as opaque as a billiard-ball. According to our thinking, it had no reference to the rank and file, but solely to the officers mentioned in the order; therefore they received our charitable commisseration.
An odd incident occurred on the 7th, while our regiWednesday, ment was on picket, that afforded us considerable March 10. amusement. A Dutchman belonging to a New Jersey brigade, becoming dissatisfied with fighting for Uncle Sam, concluded to transfer his valuable services to the enemy, and accordingly started for the rebel lines. On his way, he passed through the picket lines of the corps and the cavalry line without being stopped. Imagining that he had passed the outpost lines of the Union army, and that our line was the rebel picket line, he boldly advanced and announced to us that he "Belonged mit the Shersey brigade, but was run away from camp and desert." Though we informed him of his error, he was not convinced until he was shown the brigade flag, and then he was too well convinced for his own comfort. He was a man of intelligence, as was shown by the
"I'm a tam
remark he made in speaking of himself, fool." "Be sure you are right, then go ahead," was the sound advice of David Crocket.
Early this morning an alarm was sounded, and after standing in line nearly two hours we were dismissed. It was subsequently learned that the rebel cavalry made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the signal station on Bald Pate Mountain.
It began to rain early in the morning and continued all day, settling the question of moving for several days, as the roads became almost impassable on account of the mud.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 10, 1864, 1.40 P.M. LIEUT.-GEN. U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, Headquarters Army of the Potomac :
Pursuant to the authority of the Act of Congress, approved February 29, 1864, the President, by executive order of this date, has assigned to you the command of the Armies of the United States.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
The Major-General commanding requests me to inform you that LieutenantGeneral Grant has arrived at his headquarters, and will remain this afternoon and to-night. He will be happy to see you here at any time during his brief stay. A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General, Chief of Staff.
(To Corps Commanders.)
We should like to have been a corps commander long enough to have tested the quality of his "cold tea."
There was a variety of opinions expressed in camp about the appointment of General Grant to the command of the army. Some who had followed his career closely were enthusiastically in his favor, while others had grave doubts. The Army of the Potomac had been pretty severely criticised by some of the Western generals, conveying the impression that we couldn't fight. The ill feeling engendered by such silly talk soon wore away, however.
On the 12th of March we had a game of base-ball with some members of the One Hundred and Fourth New York Regiment. As
opportunities for indulging our love for this pastime were not very frequent, we got a deal of pleasure out of it. The score was as follows:
One Hundred and Fourth New York,
Let the young people of to-day (1893) ponder on that score as they recall sitting all the afternoon to see professional clubs play without making a point on either side. While modesty forbids commending our own playing, there is no reason why we should refrain from bestowing praise on the One Hundred and Fourth New York, though it is evident enough that they must have played a fine game to have won even twenty points.
During our stay at Mitchell's Station, one of the officers of the Thirteenth, while in the performance of his duties on the picket line, in the vicinity of Cedar Mountain, picked up several very good specimens of flint arrow-heads, such as are commonly used by North American Indians. His curiosity becoming excited, he continued his searches until he succeeded in filling his haversack with arrow-heads, hatchets, and lance-heads. The land where they were found belonged to a Mr. Yeager, a non-combatant, and was that occupied by the rebel army at the battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862. Presumably this spot was once the site of an Indian village, and possibly before the white man gained possession of the "sacred soil" of Virginia. Mr. Yeager assured the finder that, as long back as he could remember, he was in the habit of finding these evidences of Indian occupation of his farm, and had long since lost his interest in them as curiosities. It so happened at this time that a fair was being held in Philadelphia in aid of the Sanitary or Christian Commissions, information of which had reached us through the newspapers. The idea occurred to the finder that these rude specimens of the handicraft of another race might serve a useful purpose, and he thereupon sent them, with an explanatory note, to the managers of the fair, to be sold, and the receipts turned in as part of their income. A letter was subsequently received stating that quite a considerable sum was received from their sale.
The duties of outpost guard relieved the Thirteenth from a strict observance of the following order issued
to the division:
Recall, 11 A.M.
Dinner, 12.30 P.M.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION,
I. The signal for service will, until further orders, be as follows:
Recall, 4 P.M.
Police call, 15 minutes later.
First call for parade, 45 minutes before
Surgeon's call, 6 A.M.
Breakfast, 7 A.M.
Guard mounting, 8 A.M.
Drill, 9 A.M.
FIRST ARMY CORPS, March 20, 1864.
Second call, 15 minutes before sunset.
Taps, 9.20 P.M.
Sunday morning inspection, 8 A.M.
II. The calls will be sounded promptly at the hours named, and the men will be ready to fall into the ranks instantly. The morning drill will be by company, the afternoon by battalion or brigade. Particular attention will be paid to skirmishing, both by company and battalion. There will be a brigade drill every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
III. At police call in the morning the whole command will be turned out, and the camps swept and put in perfect order; at the same time earth will be thrown in the sinks. Regimental commanders will be held responsible for this.
IV. The men's quarters will be inspected daily, and the coverings of the huts removed every Saturday when the weather will permit.
V. Officers must attend and superintend roll-calls.
VI. At the first call for parade, companies will be formed and thoroughly inspected by commanders; at the second call they will be marched to the regimental parade ground.
VII. The hours appointed for drill must be employed in drill, and not in resting. Men will not be permitted to sit or lie down, and the prescribed uniform must be worn on all duty under arms.
By command of
The financial stringency that had for some time affected the pocket-books of most of us was removed to-day by the paymaster, and penury's tedious burden vanished like dew before the sun.