Horace Purdy Journal, July 1861 Entry

Dublin Core




JULY 01 – MONDAY – After coming in from guard this morning, I went to sleep and slept nearly all the forenoon. I commenced a letter to Gussie. Drilled at skirmishing at 3 ¾ PM. A hard shower in the evening. Water ran through our tent in a perfect stream. We rolled our beds over on a dry place and drained the tent as well as we could, but it was soon all the same for us as we all closed our eyes. JULY 02 – TUESDAY – A large comet was seen in the northeast last night. Windy, clear and cool. I was taken with a severe pain across me after dinner which continued all day and grew worse. JULY 03 – WEDNESDAY – I was in such pain all of last night that I did not get any sleep. Cholicer (?) inflammatory pains. The doctor gave me some medicine and a mustard poultice to lay across my bowels which relieved me pretty soon. I am pretty sick. My trouble is a hernia. JULY 04 – THURSDAY – I feel somewhat better this morning, although pretty sore across me and still pretty weak. A few ladies came on to the camp accompanied by some gentlemen who with some of our soldiers got up quite a dance, the band furnishing the music. This is the only demonstration that has been made. It has seemed more like Sunday than The Glorious Fourth. In addition to what I have named, The Stars and Stripes were hoisted on a new pole erected for the purpose. The band played suitable music for the occasion and the men cheered the flag most enthusiastically. Billy Cowan, having a little tea in the cook’s tent, he made me a little for my supper, which did me a great deal of good. I wrote a letter to Gussie. JUNE 05 – FRIDAY – Pleasant. I am excused from duty again today. George Allen went with me to the brook to bathe and wash after breakfast. Received a letter from Harriet. Wrote one to Gussie. More certain news that we shall go to Fairfax Courthouse. JULY 06 – SATURDAY – Prospect of a storm in the morning. It did rain a little. I went on camp guard. I was posted at a farm house just down the road from the camp. John Waters was there with me. The duty was very much like picket, having our rations brought to us. The regiment was reviewed at dress parade by our newly appointed brigadier Colonel Hays of the Regular Army. JULY 07 – SUNDAY – Warm and pleasant. A good sermon at 4 ½ o’clock by Chaplain Weber. A few professors of us had a Prayer Meeting at the Chaplain’s tent. I enjoyed it very much. JULY 08 - MONDAY - The day has been pleasant and very warm. I went on picket guard in the woods about two miles from the camp in the direction of Fairfax Courthouse. We lay in the shade all day. We changed our post at night. Edgar Wildman and Harris Anderson were on the post with me. I commenced a letter to Gussie. We carried over 24 hours of rations with us, but Edgar went with me to a house nearby and we bought some good corn cake and coffee for our supper. JULY 09 – TUESDAY – I came in from picket guard early this morning. A balloon ascension soon after for reconnoitering purposes. I finished and mailed my letter to Gussie after dinner. Haversacks were given out in the PM. A hard thunder shower in the evening. JULY 10 – WEDNESDAY – Very warm. A skirmish drill from 8 to11 in the morning. Received a letter from Gussie and answered it. Governor Buckingham has been to camp today. Another hard thunder shower in the evening. Very windy. JULY 11 – THURSDAY – Skirmish drill again this morning. Received a letter from Harriet. Wrote again to Gussie. An inventory of arms, ammunition, equipment, etc. made out by every man in his possession and handed to the orderly sergeant. JULY 12 – FRIDAY – Pleasant. Skirmish drill in the morning, commanded by Major Bixbee. General Keys and Lieutenant Colonel Speidell with some cavalry went out on a scouting expedition near Fairfax. They took two rebels prisoner. A member of the New Britain Company accidently shot himself in the shoulder while out with the party. JULY 13 – SATURDAY – I went on picket guard this morning. Showery during the day and quite cool to stand on post. George Allen and Edgar Wildman were on the same post with me. Pleasant cool through the night. Frank Skinner and I went outside of our line to scout a little. One of our own men, while cleaning his musket, snapped a cap and we mistook it for an attempt to shoot us by a secessionist rebel. Skinner was fearless, but another fellow who was with me and myself thought it was suspicious and went back a short distance to a piece of woods from which it sounded to reconnoiter a little. It was all explained when we returned to our own lines again. JULY 14 – SUNDAY – Came in from picket guard this morning. After breakfast, the regiment was inspected by Colonel Keys, acting as our Brigadier General. We were marched into a field adjoining our encampment in the PM and ordered to discharge our pieces, after which we were inspected by our captains equipped in light marching order. Services by our chaplain in the PM. We had a Prayer Meeting in the evening in his tent. JULY 15 – MONDAY – Pleasant. Skirmish drill in the morning. Wrote a letter home. Positive orders have been given ( read at dress parade ) to be ready and equipped for light marching with the day’s cooked rations by 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon to go and take Fairfax. JULY 16 – TUESDAY – Was detailed for camp guard in the morning. I was posted at General Key’s headquarters. We took up our line of march this afternoon at 3 o’clock as ordered yesterday. There were 13,000 troops in our division. We marched as far as Vienna and stopped for the night. A portion of our regiment and the 2ndacted as skirmishers. The 2nd went to the right of the road and we to the left. There being a bend in the road and we being in the woods we lost sight of it and thereby failing to take the same direction, we got far away in the woods before we became aware of our position (the fault was with the officer in command of the skirmishers, it being his duty to know the direction in which we should march and direct accordingly). When our officers found out our predicament, we were far behind the marching column (a good place for skirmishers). We had a run of between two and three miles before we got to our old place at the head of the column. We had not but just regained our position when we halted for the night, as tired and hungry a set of men as I ever saw. We stacked arms by regiments and the men spread their blankets near their guns, took off their haversacks and partook of a supper on hardtack and salt junk (?). It was at Vienna or near it in a meadow at the side of the road. We slept well considering we were without tents and nothing but blankets to cover us. I pitied those who had no rubber blankets to spread to lie upon. I had one but divided it with Harris Anderson. We then took both of our blankets to cover us with which made both of us pretty comfortable. JULY 17 – WEDNESDAY – My blanket being the top one, I found it wringing with the dew. We “feasted” again on the same stock as last night, the contents of our haversacks. The next thing to be had was water from our canteens for the march. There was pretty good supply of it nearby, but there being so many men to get it, it became oily (?) before I got to it so I had to content myself with it as it was. At an early hour, we again commenced our march. Other regiments acted as skirmishers today. We had marched but a little ways when we found the road blocked with trees felled across it. Our men soon made a way through it sufficient for the artillery to pass. In a number of places, the road was blockaded in the same manner. It was a good thought on the part of the rebels, for it interfered with our march considerably. We came in sight of Fairfax Courthouse before noon. It lay off to our left while our direction was to the right of it. Previous to this we were thrown out in line of battle. At this time, parties of the enemy were seen ahead of us. One of our pieces of artillery (a howitzer, I believe) was brought up in a position commanding Fairfax and several shots were fired at the enemy and one shell was thrown into the town. Just previous to this, two of the rebels were taken prisoner by our skirmishers. We soon took up our march again and arrived at Germantown about noon where we found entrenchments with one gun in position. A rifled cannon from Sherman’s (?) battery was brought forward and fired two shots at it which made the leave in double quick time. When we got into the entrenchments, we found spades, etc. just as they left them. A little further on and we came to the village, if such it could be called, where a secession flag was flying. Our skirmishers soon made off with it and hoisted in its stead the Old Glorious Stars and Stripes. A loud shout went up to see the old flag flying where but a few moments before a traitors’ flag was seen. A little further on and we came to the direct road leading from Fairfax to Manassas where the rebels had passed about an hour before our arrival. We designed to cut off their retreat at this place, but on account of the blockades in the roads, they had got the start on us. Here we halted to rest. We found campfires burning which the rebels had left in their hasty retreat. Also some provisions, ham, whiskey, etc. Tents, drums, shoes and clothing were also found. We had some sport in this place, some of the men dressing themselves in secession clothing and such rigs (?) as some of them were, it was enough to make one’s sides ache with laughter even though we had nothing but hard sea biscuit and salt junk (salt pork?) to eat. Tyler’s Division with a cannon shot from our direction routed them and I suppose that they made good time towards Manassas. The blockade in the road was all that saved them from being cut off by our division. When we started again, we found in the road a broken-down wagon load of flour which they could not spend the time to reload and had knocked in the barrel heads and emptied it into a foot of mud and water to prevent our capturing it, I suppose. We halted for the night about half way between Germantown and Centerville. We lay ourselves down for the night the same as the night before. Previous to doing this, Lewis Shack and myself made some coffee after getting an old coffee pot at a house nearby. He had the coffee and sugar with him which he brought from camp. JULY 18 – THURSDAY – Our whole army was aroused just before daylight this morning by the report of firearms. Whole regiments sprang from their slumbers and in an instant were under arms and ready for the battle, as we supposed, but it proved to be only a horse which had gotten loose and came galloping over the ground, knocking down stacks of muskets as he went about making noise and confusion enough for a body of cavalry as we supposed it was. The sentinels being so suddenly startled that they fired at the supposed enemy. I did not learn as the horse was injured and yet the poor fellow might have been killed and I not have known it among the confusion. Quiet was soon restored again, but it was too late to sleep more, so by that means, I got an early breakfast. Lewis Shack and myself made some more coffee which did our stomachs good. We stopped just before noon a little this side of Centerville hill. Our advance found the enemy, or at least a portion of them, entrenched in pace at Blackburn’s Ford in Bull Run and our artillery (a few pieces with the Mass. 1st Regiment, Michigan 1st and New York 2nd) under Tyler engaged them. The battle lasted nearly all the afternoon. The rebels were once driven from their positions by the shell from our battery, but they took it up again before our troops got possession of it. Their position was a strong one, too strong for the numbers which engaged them. Our troops were withdrawn without driving them from their position. Out loss was about 60 killed and wounded. Theirs was far heavier, it was reported. We could hear the cannon very plain from where we were; it sounded more like battle than anything we had heard before. On the hill in this place is an embankment thrown up without trenches. They vacated as we came up, although they could cut us badly for a while if they had kept their position, as their guns at this place completely commanded the road leading to it. JULY 19 – FRIDAY – Provisions came on to us last night. We had corned beef, hard bread and coffee for breakfast. About 20,000 more troops, including the Fire Zouaves arrived last night. Heavy artillery is constantly arriving, a portion of which is rifled cannon10, 20, 32 and 64 pounders. We are resting here as best we can, building temporary huts of rails and brush to shield us from the sun and dews. I am enjoying myself first rate, considering how we are situated. JULY 20 – SATURDAY – In the PM, we were ordered to cook three days’ ration and be ready to move at 6 o’clock this evening. The order was soon superseded by another to be ready at 2 o’clock tomorrow morning. So we prepared accordingly and retired early. We were reviewed this morning by the Secretary of War and I believe that the President was with him. JULY 21 – SUNDAY – We started at 2 o’clock this morning to advance on the enemy. The first gun was fired by our artillery at about 6 o’clock in the morning. Our brigade was brought into the fight about 9 o’clock. The battle lasted all day. It was a hard struggle. Our force was about 30,000, while theirs was about 90,000 strong. They had their choice of the ground and had a strong position, but notwithstanding this, we whipped them and the battle was ours up to 3 o’clock when they were reinforced by General Johnston and we were obliged to retreat as it was night and we were very tired. The retreat proved to be a real stampede, some regiments being entirely broken up and scattered. We retreated back as far as Centerville, our old stopping place, and there, Lieutenant Colonel Speidell headed what he supposed to the remnants of our regiment and started for Alexandria. Our term of enlistment expired today. We supposed that this was all that was left of our regiment, thinking that they were cut off by the Black Horse Cavalry, which pursued us for a distance. JULY 22 – MONDAY – I traveled all of last night with a portion of our regiment headed by our Lieutenant Colonel Speidell. He left us in the vicinity of Fairfax Courthouse and went across the county to our camp at Falls Church. We, not knowing he had left us, kept traveling towards Alexandria. I arrived there about daylight this morning, nearly tired to death after the fight of yesterday and last night’s retreat of about 30 miles. The first thing that I did was to find something to eat. At a market, I procured some ham and eggs, some bread and butter and coffee, which was the first good meal I have eaten in a long time and I did it justice too. We then took the first boat up to Washington. It began to rain when we landed. Captain Hillman of the Windsor Locks Company, being the only captain with us, we marched under him to General Mansfield’s at the War Department, where we reported ourselves. We went back from the War Department to an Armory over some livery stables previously used by the National Rifles where we took quarters for the day. I immediately wrote a few lines home to let them know I was alive, and then, what a sleeping time I had. It rained very hard all day. JULY 23 – TUESDAY – Pleasant this morning. My pistol was stolen from me last night while I was sleeping. It hung over my head in a holster. I went out to buy a piece of emery paper with which to clean my gun and when I returned, General Tyler was just marching the men away to go to Fort Corcoran. I went upstairs to get my gun and equipment and they too were stolen, everything except my canteen. I am discouraged trying to keep anything and almost wishing that someone would steal me. I joined my comrades and went over to Fort Corcoran where just at night, the remainder of the three regiments joined us from their camps at Falls Church. There were two taken prisoner from our company – Isaac Jennings and Alfred Hoddinott, none killed. JULY 24 – WEDNESDAY- Our three regiments stayed at Fort Corcoran last night. We stacked our arms by regiments and rolled up in our blankets and slept on the ground with no other covering but the firmament. This afternoon, just before night, we were ordered to march and the three regiments started for Washington by way of Long Bridge. We arrived about 10 o’clock at the camp of the New York 33rd Regiment which today had left and gone over to Virginia leaving the camp in charge of a guard. We occupied their tents for the night. We having had but little food and poor at that during the day, we were fatigued and hungry. The guard of the 33rd gave us some bread and meat which was very acceptable. The camp is on Meridian Hill. JULY 25 – THURSDAY - We rested very well last night. We had some provisions weighed out to us this morning, about enough for one meal. I bought a pistol of a member of the Hartford Company. I paid $10.00. In the PM, we marched to the arsenal and left our arms and belting and then went to the Depot to start for home. It was 12 o’clock before we could leave Washington. JULY 26 – FRIDAY – We arrived in Baltimore about daylight this morning. Here, we procured breakfast as best we could, some by buying it and some by being given to them by the Union people who were very kind. We were obliged to wait here until 5 PM before we could procure a train on account of other regiments being in advance of us and having all the trains engaged. It was very tedious waiting here for we were all very tired. The men would get to sleep while sitting by the side of buildings and in the Depot. We had a pleasant ride from Baltimore to Havre de Grace where we arrived just before night. It took until midnight before we had all crossed the Susquehanna which was done by running a portion of the train at a time on a large boat which ferried us across. After the train had all crossed, it lay by for the night. JULY 27 – SATURDAY – We started from Havre de Grace about daylight this morning and arrived at Philadelphia about noon where the citizens gave us a good dinner. After which we crossed the Delaware and had to wait again until 5 o’clock before we could leave Camden. In the meantime, there was a shower. We finally got a train and started. We had not gone far before our train had to wait about an hour more for another train to come and pass us before we could proceed. We got underway at last, but had not gone but a few miles before one of our cars broke down and that detained us for another hour or more. At this place, I was taken with a severe pain across me. A good lady nearby took me to her house and gave me some medicine, but it did me but little good. I was very sick all night. I vomited from the platform of the car while we were traveling at great speed. JULY 28 – SUNDAY – We arrived at Jersey City about daylight this morning, where we found “The Elm City”, a New Haven boat, waiting at the dock for us. We immediately went on board of her and she steamed off with us. As soon as I washed myself, which did me a great deal of good, I took possession of a berth and slept all the way to New Haven where we arrived about 10 AM, making a passage of about 4 hours. We disembarked amid a great crowd of citizens and made a quiet march to the statehouse where we took up our quarters. In a short time, we were marched to the old Republican Wigwam, where a dinner was waiting for us and it seemed to me that I never ate a dinner that tasted so good to me. After the dinner was over, Governor Buckingham made a few remarks welcoming us home. In the evening, Thomas Horton and I went to Mr. Philander Ferry’s and spent the evening. JULY 29 – MONDAY – Was paid $10.00 by the state, the same being the monthly bonus due us. There is a great deal of delay about our mustering out and payrolls which are necessary for us to get our pay. Charles Crofut being here, I sent a letter home by him. Rain in the morning. I stayed at Mr. Chauncey Dickerman’s last night. JULY 30 – TUESDAY – Pleasant today. I stayed at Mr. Dickerman’s again last night. His brother, Elisha the druggist, went down to the beach before breakfast with us and we had a delightful bathe. I called at J. Dudley’s, the Congregational preacher, and he persuaded me to stay to breakfast, after which he had family prayers and then I stayed a short time in which we conversed about the battle, etc. I had the headache nearly all day. I sent a letter home by Lieutenant Bussing in the PM. As I was returning from tea at the Wigwam, I met Kate Mallory, formerly one of our Danbury friends. I walked to her home with her and stayed a while to see her mother and then rode back as far as Mr. Ferry’s with John in his baker’s peddling wagon. JULY 31 WEDNESDAY – I took another salt water bath this morning before breakfast. Our uniform coats from Alexandria and our knapsacks came this morning. My knapsack had been robbed of its contents. My over coat which I thought the most of, was gone also. We were mustered out but not paid off this afternoon.






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


Document Viewer


Copy the code below into your web page

Item Relations

This item has no relations.