Wednesday, June 20, 2012
1862 June 21 Camp on Flat Top Mountain
[from the diary of Charles Hay, Co. H, 23rd Ohio]
Flat Top Mountain, Va., June 21st, 1862.
Three weeks ago, I mentioned in my
diary that I felt indisposed, &c. The
culmination of that indisposition was in a
serious illness, an attack of Erysipelas, which
prostrated me, and brought me “nigh unto
death.” I am slowly recovering, and am only
able to walk about a little , at present.
Through the instrumentality of kind nurses,
and good medical aid, I am again on the
safe road to health, and enjoyment.
During the interval that has elapsed since
the 1st of the month, there has little of any
The 23rd Reg’t has again been supplied with
tents, better than the former ones. Our camp
is now about a mile from the old camp,
from which we moved on the 15th.
Four “companies of the 23rd (B, D, H, G,) are
stationed at Pack’s Ferry on New River, about
20 miles from here, as a guard.
No movement of consequence has taken place
amongst any of Gen. Cox’s forces.
Since we have been in Camp Jones, the
weather has been deliciously cool for
this season of the year, insomuch that,
at times, to an invalid like myself,
an overcoat does not feel or seem
superfluous or uncomfortable. The word cool
is too mild an adjective to apply to the
nights, for they are really cold. A cool,
pleasant, and almost constant breeze from
the South fans our camp day after day.
It would seem singular that anything
so conciliatory and agreeable to us should
emanate from the direction named, where
it is supposed that nothing but that which
is of a fiery nature generates or is cultivated.
Whether, indeed, the Southern Confederacy
properly belongs to the North Temperate
Zone is a question in my mind which
would be better be submitted to the decision
of Greely, Phillips, &c. With due deference to
the opinions of those men, I express my
own in advance, although not intending
to form a public sentiment or prejudice;
(rather egotistical this latter, but I trust
that under the circumstances it is pardonable,
as I contend that one must be indulged
in a little playful pleasantry sometimes, for
“A little nonsense now and then,
Is relished by the best of men;”)
that, according to my notion of “the
eternal fitness of things,” the proper location
of the Southern Confederacy would be
in the Torrid Zone, somewhere near the
equator, and to be a dependent colony on
the coast of Africa, or, if the warmth is
too mild there, another place can be
found for it much hotter, whose proprietor,
unless I err greatly, has a heavy mortgage
on the rotten concern, which will be
foreclosed before long. The imagination of
the least astute can conjecture what I
who I mean, without my saying so
in so many plain words.
But I was speaking of our camp.
Without becoming enthusiastic, I can say
it is a splendid location, the only
drawback to a full enjoyment of camp
life, or a realization of its pleasures, being,
a scarcity of good water. A draught of
that pure element whose name is
synonymous with the term health, is far
better than sparkling Champagne or
Catawba, or delusive Cogniac.
From the ‘ridge’ upon which we are
camped, we can look away to the South
and view the most sp[l]endid scenery, of
hills and dales, of mountains and forests,
enough to enliven the heart of the most
sorrow-stricken and misanthropic, and
awaken in all a feeling of awe and
veneration of Him who “said, and it was
done.” The disbeliever to view all these
wonderful works of Nature, and then not
acknowledge the Author, is indeed self-willed.
To the farthest extreme, a range of mountains
can be seen, almost cloud-capped, over which
is ever hovering a sky-blue haze, seemingly like an
eagle in his eyrie; a most picturesque & enchanting
The ‘lover of Nature’ could here feast him=
=self on its beauties, and find a prolific source
for reflection, and this would also be an almost
unexceptional place for one to rusticate during
the “heated term”, as we have evidence; from the
fact that “Army Correspondents” almost everywhere
complain of the intolerably warm weather,
and particularly those writing from the “Army
of the Potomac.” Surely, many men will suffer
before Richmond is reached, from warm weather
and the still warmer unwelcomes of the enemy.
Much human misery has already been caused
by the series of battles beginning with the siege
of Yorktown, and much more will ensue from
the battle that inevitably will occur yet before
If we but descend the mountain
from our present elevated position, a great
difference is felt in the temperature, enough
to sensibly affect one unused to the heat it this
summer. The health of the troops is
generally good, no cases of an alarming or
dangerous nature in Hospital.
[transcript by Mary Roy Dawson Edwards]