[from the diary of the Rev. Francis E. Butler, chaplain of the 25th New Jersey]
Thurs 11. Slept some – I write now while the roar
of batteries fills the air – Heard signal (?) [Butler’s notation] guns
at ¼ to 5 - & at 5 ½ batteries began & are roaring
now – abt. 6.1/2 A.M. – we are just thru. breakfast.
Prayers over. A Sergeant comes in & says Col. “it
is wish of our Co. that Capt. ____ shall not lead us
into battle” – want another man – The shells are
heard flying thro. air – (I copy now from field note book)
The Regt. were ordered under Arms, moved to brow
of a hill, stood in the mud awhile & ordered back.
Major Brown & I rode over to a hill top & witnessed the
bombardment of City, our batteries for about 3 miles up
& down the river poured in a tremendous rain of shot &
shell. City on fire at dift. points – Burnside & Staff rode
past & it sd. crossed river on pontoon bridge. We were
distant about ¾ of a mile fr. the City just in front
of Sumners hd. qrs. Got Supper in Mess tent wh. had been
moved to make room for hospitals. The wounded
came in in Ambulances, abt. 20 or 30.
Rebel batteries silent. hardly set down before again
ordered off, joined regt. on hill – It was dark, an artillery
train crossed our column & cut it off – we & 13 N H
wandered in darkness unable to find river. I rode back
to Sumners hd. Qrs. for Guide – Was ordered to Wilcox’s
could n’t find it – returned to Regt. moved on at
double quick – men exhausted – some fell out. My
bag oats untied & lost half – reached R.R. halted, guide
came at length & we reached river - & crossed on pontoon
bridge without accident. pitch fires at either end
Showed us the way: passed up the river street
(dismounted to look at the) houses shattered & burnt by the
bombardment, turned up to the next lt, halted in brigade
line stacked arms & ordered men to make themselves
comfortable for the night: threw out pickets up sts.
saw what we supposed rebel lines & fires on hill about
mile from City in rear of City. Fine st. well built: The
troops tore down fences to warm themselves, a chilly
night. Thank God we had not to face the rebel
batteries in crossing as I passed. Officers took up
qrs. for night in best houses with sentries in house &
at gate. Ours is a small neat cottage & comfortable.
first book I took up was McGee on Ephesians.
presented to Miss Woodward by E. C. Alexander N. Y.
Evidently a religious family. Every thing here just
as family left it. I write before a nice wood fire
in kitchen, Slept on floor, clothes all on: Nothing
but hard tack & coffee for breakfast, but feel much
better. Saw three dead rebel soldiers in our st.
Stiff in death - & two of them horribly mangled with
Shot & shell, trees torn to pieces & fine mansions
shattered, others in ruins, letters, papers & books
scattered about. It is now morng.
Major John Kelty Brown of the 25th New Jersey
Brig-General Orlando Bolivar Willcox commanded the 1st Division of Burnside's 9th Corps
The Rev. Robert James McGhee. Expository lectures on the Epistle to the Ephesians
[transcript by Mary Roy Dawson Edwards]