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1863. Tuesday, Dec. I.
The following instructions for the retirement of our corps are taken from the circular issued by General Meade, under date of Dec. 1, 1863:
1. The First Corps, Major-General Newton commanding, will withdraw from its position on Mine Run (part of the Fifth Corps relieving it), concealing the movement from the enemy, and march at 4 P.M. to Germanna Ford, where it will take position and hold the crossing of the river until the Fifth and Sixth Corps cross, when it will follow those two corps as soon as the road on the opposite side is clear. It will then form the rear guard, and use every precaution to insure the safety of the rear. It will take post at the termination of the plankroad, covering the trains on the Stevensburg road, and watching the Mitchell's Ford road.
Shortly before daylight we moved back to the position occupied by us on the night of November 27.
At dusk our division began its march back to the Rapidan, arriving at the Germanna Ford about daylight, when we took position as directed in the order of General Meade.
The whole army crossed the river. We marched to Wednesday, Stevensburg, ten miles, arriving about 4 P.M., and halted Dec. 2. for the night.
The rest of the army, like ourselves, was very much dissatisfied with the result of the campaign. Grumbling was heard on all sides. As usual we knew little about the position of troops, but that didn't interfere with our having some lively discussion as to how the battle ought to have been fought. Arguments were illustrated by diagrams drawn in the ashes of smouldering fires. While this was going on, our attention was attracted to a group of substitutes who were demonstrating how easy a pocket could be picked. These fellows made no bones of their occupation, and they were always willing to teach us the mysteries of their profession, that we might have an agreeable and genteel occupation when we reached
Marched to a point near Kelly's Ford on the RappaThursday, hannock River, where we took possession of some rebel huts, built for winter quarters, and where we remained until the 24th, attending to the usual duties of camp life, watching with interest the steady diminution of our comrades, the
substitutes and bounty-jumpers, who returned to their native heaths to reënlist in accordance with the earnestly expressed wish of the government, that all veterans should do so. Complaint was made by General Newton, our corps commander, that our regiment did not have recitations from the Army Regulations. There were four hundred and eighty-three pages, containing, in all, sixteen hundred and seventy-six regulations. We were grateful to our officers for this deviation from the strict line of their duty. There were inflictions enough without this one. The busybody that informed General Newton of this neglect deserved to be choked, we thought.
Section 500 of the Army Regulations says: "The sentinel at the colonel's tent has orders to warn him, day or night, of any unusual movement in or about camp." The most unusual thing that ever happened in camp was the prompt relief of the camp guard on duty at 3 A.M. According to this regulation, therefore, it was the duty of the sentinel after such an occurrence to wake the colonel and let him know the fact, though we believe it was never done, because life was sweet, even to a private soldier. Then again, the ninth article of war forbade a soldier using any violence to his superior officer.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,
I. As one of the aids to a proper attention to guard duty is to have comfortable guard quarters, the commanding officers of the different regiments of this brigade will, without unnecessary delay, have such quarters prepared.
II. As the moral and conscientious soldiers are among the most faithful and devoted to the service, it is desirable that the best means be used for cultivating and promoting the highest moral influence amongst the troops. It is, therefore, recommended to all officers, particularly to commanding officers of regiments, to extend all facilities in their power to the chaplains in the performance of their high and sacred duties. Every regiment should have a suitable building or tent in which to hold their religious meetings. Every regiment not having a chaplain should adopt the speediest means for obtaining one.
III. The colonel commanding does not feel himself authorized to issue any orders on the duties of chaplains, or prescribing any form for religious services, although the religious orders of the President, repeated by several commanders of this army, might warrant it, yet he would most earnestly recommend that the commanders of regiments require their chaplains, or in their absence, some suit
able person, to have a short and appropriate religious service on the occasion of the evening dress parade, believing, as he does, that it would be a dutiful recognition of that Almighty Power that has preserved us, blessed our nation and flag, blessed our arms, and that is rapidly leading us into a long-looked for haven of peace and
COL. T. F. McCOY,
The reading of this order reminded us of the utter darkness into which we had wandered by the loss of our spiritual guide, the chaplain. The Bibles which we had discarded in the streets of Philadelphia, under the impression that the presence of a chaplain would supply their place, might now be useful in regulating our conduct so as to fulfil the enunciation of Colonel McCoy, that "moral and conscientious soldiers are among the most faithful and devoted to the service." We were certainly among the breakers, - housebreakers, as our last August recruits appeared to be, and needed, if ever, the services of a chaplain, or a jailer, though the latter was the officer we felt would be most useful. The chaplain left us about Fredericksburg time to take charge of a hospital in Washington, and we are free to say that we missed the cheering influence of his amiable presence. Surrounded as we now were by a brawling set of recruits, it looked like a travesty to remind us of cultivating morals in soil so destitute of good. There were some things we could do to be saved without the aid of a chaplain: we could pray, sing a psalm, take up a collection, or take a bath. Most of us chose the latter, for its proximity to godliness, and felt purer and happier for doing so.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST ARMY CORPS,
Dec. 22, 1863.
For the information of those concerned, the following facts are furnished in regard to bounties paid by the different States, collected from the Adjutant-General's office:
Massachusetts pays $325 cash, or $50 and $20 per month.
New York pays $75.
New York City pays $300, provided the men were enlisted in the city, provided the men were originally enrolled there, no matter whether the men reënlisted in the city or army.
Wisconsin pays $5 a month to families of volunteers.
Michigan, $50 bounty; also township and county bounties are paid in some localities, varying in amounts. By command of
A noticeable change had taken place in the business of enlistment since we hung round No. 344 (old number) Washington street, patiently waiting to learn if we had been voted in and accepted.
Marched about 8 o'clock to Brandy Station and on to Thursday, Culpeper Court House and along the railroad to within a mile of Mitchell's Station. Snow on the ground and cold. No rests were given us. The distance marched was seventeen miles.
Christmas day. Had to break ice in the swamp near by for a supply of water, some of which was about the color of whiskey. The pickets of the enemy could be seen on the opposite side of Cedar Run. Merritt's divi
sion of cavalry were in camp near us.
About 3 P.M. we moved our camp down the hill to Mitchell's Station in a field to the west of the station. Our camp of August 17 and 18, 1862, was less than a mile away, towards Cedar Mountain.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION, FIRST ARMY CORPS, Dec. 28, 1863. This brigade now occupies one of the extreme outposts of this army. It is a position of honor as well as danger, and as such requires much more than the ordinary degree of vigilance and faithfulness on the part of officers and men.
The colonel commanding would, therefore, call upon all to manifest their appreciation of the important service devolving upon them by a prompt and cheerful response to every duty.
In view of an additional precaution against surprise, when firing is heard on the picket line, the commanding officers of regiments will at once have their commands under arms, without waiting for any orders or signals from these headquarters.
The safety of the camp being more particularly in the keeping of the pickets and guards, the necessity of intelligence, vigilance, and promptitude with them are of the most essential importance.
The colonel commanding the brigade deeply regrets the necessity for the late
movement, involving so much inconvenience and suffering, and most heartily sympathizes with the troops in their extraordinary fatigues and exposures. Knowing, however, that the noble and righteous cause in which we are engaged is worthy of and demands the highest services and the greatest sacrifices, he feels assured that the brave and patriotic officers and soldiers of this brigade will, with renewed determination, if necessary, sustain their own high name, won upon so many battlefields, and the honor of the old flag, by a prompt and willing compliance with every duty, however arduous, the exigency may require. By command of
COL. T. F. McCOY,
We had an opinion about this Colonel McCoy. The "old flag" which has come thundering along down the oratorical highway of the last thirty years probably got its start from this order.
We were formed in line of battle to meet an advance of the enemy, but the alarm proved to be a false one.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,
SECOND DIVISION FIRST ARMY CORPS,
For the health and comfort of the soldiers of the First Brigade, it is of great importance that especial attention be bestowed in the construction of huts and the laying out of grounds for convenience and beautifying. For the purpose of ensuring uniformity in the accomplishment of these objects, I hereby, with the advice of the medical officers of the First Army Corps, direct that the walls of the huts shall not be less than five feet high, the length not less than ten feet, and the width between the walls not less than six feet and one half, the roofs being covered with shelters in the usual manner. The doors of the huts shall all face the street, and the chimneys should not be erected in the front.
A choice may be exercised by the regimental commanders whether the huts be end to the street or side to it, though there should be uniformity in adopting one mode or the other.
The streets should not be less than twenty-five feet in width, and the space between huts in the rear should not be less than eight feet. The streets will be graded in the usual manner. The draining will be thorough.
By command of
COL. T. F. McCOY,