Saturday, February 2, 2013

1863 January 27 Camp near Potomac Creek

[from the "War Journal" of George Hazen Dana of the 32nd Massachusetts as compiled by himself at a later date from war time letters and diaries]

Camp near Potomac Creek.
                                                                     Jan’y 27th 1863.
We reached our old camp ground here night before last,
Saturday, after having gone through a pretty tough
specimen of the life which is ‘always gay’ – the
We left here last Tuesday, about noon, after having
had an ‘order-‘ of Burnside’s read to us, promising
certain victory, and a speedy advance on Richmond,
etc., and I really think, myself, had the weather
remained propitious, that we should have suc-
ceded; at least in the first steps of our under-
taking.        But the Lord saw fit (literally)
to throw cold water on poor Burnside’s plans,
for about 5 o’clock of the afternoon we started,

the rain began to pelt down.        We kept on,
however, till about 7 P. M. when we halted for the
night in the midst of an oak wood, thoroughly
drenched.        Wasn’t it cold and dreary?
No chance for a fire, the rain came down so hard,
so there was nothing for it but to make a sand-
wich of myself between two blankets, and take
the mud for a bed.        I slept like a top, till
morning, when I awoke, blankets soaked as well
as all my clothes, and raining still in torrents.
Wednesday morning, we started on again, marched
about three miles, and came to a halt in another
grove of oaks.        It still rained pretty hard,
but not enough to prevent our building fires.
So the trees came crashing down, on every side,
several hundred axes keeping up the chop,
and it was as much as one could do to keep out
of the way of the falling trees, and see that the
men kept their rifles from being injured, seven
of them being made utterly useless by
one of the first trees felled.        But at last
every old oak that could touch the regiment
was down, and then we had fires that were fires.
I had a pack of cards in my pocket, so I started
a game of euchre with three other officers, but

the rain soon soaked them – I mean the cards –
and split them, so that they had to be thrown
away.        Well, another night in the rain, and
another day – and Friday morning, most of the
officers found themselves pretty well used up.
I felt, however, perfectly well, with the exception
of two rather rheumatic arms.        About 10 o’clock
our brigade was ordered out to corduroy the road,
and we were kept at it pretty much all day.
But at noon the sun came out, and so did the
whiskey ration, and such a jolly set you never
saw, as by some mistake a double ration was served.
Toward night we finished our work, and were
ordered back for another night’s bivouac in the

MSS 5130

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