Horace Purdy Journal, May 1861 Entry

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MAY 01 – WEDNESDAY – Rather cool for the season. Three sergeants and one corporal of the regiment were reduced in rank and two privates were dismissed from the service and their uniforms taken from them for bad and unsoldierly conduct.
From May 2nd until the 8th, I wrote nothing in my diary. As it is now (the time of copying this) August 19th, my memory does not serve me and therefore, I am compelled to leave the intervening time a blank, though it was filled up with the usual camp duties.
MAY 09 – THURSDAY – The day has been pretty warm and very dusty. William Wheeler, from Bethel, one of my old shop mates, was to the camp and stayed until we struck our tents and marched off from the ground to go to Long Wharf to take the steamer “Bienville” en route to Washington, which was about 4 1/4. PM. We arrived at the wharf and went on board about 6 o’clock. The other steamer to take the 2nd Regiment came in while we lay at the dock. We left the dock about 10 ½ o’clock, rounded the east end of Long Island during the night. MAY 10 – FRIDAY – I awoke about 4 o’clock this morning and went on deck just in time to see Long Island as we were leaving it and to see the sun rise. 8 o’clock – out of sight of land. Clear and pleasant, the weather fine. The sea is calm, just enough swell to give an easy motion to the steamer. At 10 ¾ o’clock, we passed a Danish barque and signaled her. We gave her three hearty cheers. Hazy in the PM. “Baltimore” – so-called (a comical fellow, a member of the Waterbury Company), is cutting up his friend and raising heck generally. All the men are in good spirits, except the few who are beginning to feel “sea-sick”. MAY 11 – SATURDAY – Smith’s Island, Cape Charles and the sand banks of Cape Henry hove into view about 6 o’clock this morning. We are now in Chesapeake Bay. Seven o’clock passed and we signaled a Swedish vessel. About 3 PM, we met two steamers, one of them, a U. S. Mail. About 3 ½ o’clock, we entered the mouth of the Potomac River. Hazy and scarcely any wind at all. On account of the removal of the lights and buoys by the rebels, we anchored at dark at a bend of the river. After pacing a guard fore and aft and at the side of a steamer to keep a look out (for we were very near the Virginia shore), we retired for the night. MAY 12 – SUNDAY – The crew began to weigh anchor about 4 o’clock and we immediately started on our way up the river again. At 5 o’clock, we met a war steamer, the “Mohawk”. She rounded up to us and her captain inquired where we were from and where bound, how many men on board, etc. He told us to go on up the river, while he would go down and meet the other steamer carrying the 2nd Regiment. Virginia and Maryland are on each side of us. At times, we are almost within hailing distance of either shore. About 8 o’clock, while a part of the regiment were eating breakfast, we passed Mount Vernon, the home and tomb of Washington. In passing, our band played a dirge and a national air. We passed Fort Washington soon after. We passed Alexandria about 9 o’clock. A war steamer lay off there to keep the rebels quiet. A little later, we cast anchor in the river near Washington, about halfway between the Arsenal Yard and the Navy Yard. While we lay there, a steamer came from the dock passing very near us having on board President Lincoln with a military escort. It was nearly noon when we were landed at the Arsenal Yard where we spent the remainder of the day very pleasantly. I spread my blanket upon the grass and wrote a letter home to Gussie. We staked out arms in the Armory and went on board the boat to quarter for the night. MAY 13 – MONDAY – We had our breakfast on board the boat this morning. A detachment was sent ahead early to clear up the ground and pitch our tents near Glenwood Cemetery, north of the city. In the afternoon, the regiment was marched to our encampment. The day was very warm and a number of our men gave out before we arrived there.
Five more days were omitted because I do not remember what occurred, there being no writing done in my diary. The time was occupied thought with the usual duties of camp and drilling.
MAY 19 – SUNDAY – I got a pass this morning and went to the city and attended Dr. Ryan’s church (Methodist). He preached an excellent sermon in which he alluded to the present condition of our country in a very feeling manner. Text, Daniel 6:10. One of the members, a good brother, took me home with him to dinner, after which I went to the camp where there was a preaching at 4 PM. Text, Proverbs 31:5. I went to the city again in the evening and attended church. Wellington Gibbs and Edgar Wildman were with me. It began to rain after we got started and rained hard all evening. Dr. Ryan preached from Ephesians 5:16. MAY 20 - MONDAY – Wrote a letter home. Received one from Harriet in New York, commenced writing one to her. The day has been stormy. MAY 21 – TUESDAY – Pleasant. I went over to the Brooklyn 14th Regiment in the evening to see their chaplain, Brother Inskip (?), but did not as there was only a detachment there to pitch their tents. The remainder of the regiment and Brother Inskip are to come into their camp tomorrow.
Wednesday and Thursday are blank in my diary.
MAY 24 – FRIDAY – Sick with diarrhea. I got some medicine from our surgeon, Dr. Stearns. I have done no duty except dress parade at 6 PM. The 3rd Regiment came and encamped near us today. MAY 25 – SATURDAY – I was up a good deal of last night. I had a touch of Cholera Morbus (Note: gastrointestinal illness characterized by cramps, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting). A shower after breakfast. At 1 ¼ o’clock, we were called away as we supposed at the time to battle. We marched as far as a long bridge, but did not cross over as far as Virginia. The alarm was a false one, or at least a small affair caused it. We were forthwith marched back to camp. Not feeling well, it was too much for me. I was obliged to give up my knapsack both ways, going and returning. MAY 26 – SUNDAY – I was detailed for guard duty this morning, but I was relieved just in time to attend preaching in the PM under a large oak tree on our parade ground. Text, 1st John 1:8, 9. We have no regular chaplain for our regiment. This man has come here from the city once before and kindly volunteered to preach for us. I do not remember his name.
Monday through Friday, inclusively are left blank again in my diary. I did not have time, I suppose, or some other cause. I do not now remember. The time was filled up with the usual duties of the soldier, I presume.






Purdy, Horace, 1835-1909. “Horace Purdy Journal, May 1861 Entry.” Horace Purdy Journals, MS 044. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 21 Nov. 2019.

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