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Civil War remembrence of Thomas White Stephens

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Unit ID 472980


North Topeka, Kan


Aug 13th 1889




I enlisted or rather gave my name to enlisting officer with other in Pulaski Co. Ind. The 15th day of July 1861. In Co. K. 20th Ind. Regt. Infantry. We were taken to Camp Tippecanough near La Fayette Ind. Our Col. name was Wm. Brown of Logansport Cass. Co. Ind. killed near Chantilly not far from the old Bull Run battle ground. A brave man fell when he was shot riding his horse leading his Regt into battle. Our Captains name was Alfred Reed of Monticello Co. Ind. 1st Lieut. Richardson. 2nd Lieut. Dale. We were sworn into the United States service as Volunteers. for three years in July, 1861. Secretary of State Seward predicted that the war would last only about 90 days. We soon [XXXXX]


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(Additional, Aug 11 1908, 19 years after final writing)


(From diary) sworn into the States service July 16th and into the U.S. service on the 18 at camp Tippecano. We went to Camp Reynolds, Indianapolis, Ind. July 23rd, drew our clothing Aug 2nd, left same day for Maryland. Early breakfast at Pittsburg, Pa. Aug 3rd On Sunday Aug 4th traveled thru the Allegheny Mountains. Saw grand sights. encamped at Camp Belger MD Aug 5th. Here we drilled and guarded R.R. property until Aug 26th. On this day we went to Mt Washington where we remained three weeks (and were treated with remarkable kindness by the good people of this place. Sept 17th Returned to Camp Belger. Sept 14th Left for the land of Dixie. The evening of the same day marched thru  Baltimore and then embarked on the Steamer Louisiania. Landed at Fortress Monroe Sept 25th. Reembarked on the steamer S.R. Spaulding on Sept. 26th. This night and next morning the weather was stormy and the ocean rough and boisterous. Nearly all on board were seasick. Sept 27th Long off Cape Hatteras today. 28th Started for Chicamacamico NC on the steamer Sen Putnam/ Sept 29th Sunday morning landed at Camp Live Oak, Chicamacamico, NC.


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The Honorable Secretary a false prophet. From Camp Reynolds Indianapolis, Ind. we were sent to Cockeysville, MD. near Baltimore to guard the Railroad property and keep communications open with the north. Troops and army stores [XXXXX] were carried on this road.


We remained there on guard duty until the last of Sept. when we were sent through Baltimore (There were dark, murderous eyes turned on us here, where in April 19 of this same year a mob fired on a Mass Regt. 6th [XXXXX] to Washington and Alexandria and embarked on a vessal, H.R. Spaulding [XXXXX] a steamship, for Fort Hatteras N.C. While we were on the voyage a big storm of wind and rain came up from the Northeast. The waves dashed over the ship, and we were told, the officers of the steamer expected the vessel to be dashed to pieces on the breakers.


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But the soldiers were so seasick they did not care what became of them, at least, that was the experience of one soldier. For hours we rode on the Atlantic out of sight of land, and expecting a watery grave, for the storm raged terriffically, but we reached Fort Hatteras in safety, and six companies were sent forty miles up north , on the Hatteras banks to a place called Chickamiccanico. Our camp was named “Live Oak” from a big live oak tree standing on the Sound shore or west side of the Island. The little steamer Fanny carrying provisions to us was captured on the 1st of October in plain sight of our camp. As we had no artillery we could not participate in the engagement.


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(Additional from diary.)

 Oct 1st 1961 – Tues. The Steamer Fanny was captured by the rebels with our tents and provisions. Five of our boys of Co K 20th Ind Regt were captured, also Capt. Heart of the Commissary department and some other boys of our Regt.


Oct. 2nd Seven years ago today my dear mother died. As she was passing away she, she whispered “Jesus can make a dying bed feel soft as downy pillows are. While on his breast I lean my head,  and breathe my life out sweetly there.”


Oct 3rd Nothing remarkable today.


4th This day I never shall forget. About seven AM we discovered nine rebel vessels hovering near the coast South west of our camp. The Col immediately collected his forces and marched down to prevent them from landing. Very soon two vessels started south, and one large on towards our camp. The Col gave the command to retreat, our Co remaining behind as rear guard. When we were ½ mile away our camp was shelled. Soon after we heard them yell like demons. They had possession of our camp That day we marched thrity miles thro. hot deep sands, no water, only muddy swamp water part of the time.


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The capture of this vessel, left us in a bad condition, without provisions. Out “hard tack” and fat pork had fallen into the hands of the enemy, so we had to wade into the Sound and hunt for oysters. On the 4th of Oct a Rebel craft came near our camp and commenced shelling us. Our little guns were short range. So we had to evacuate. Some of our camp equipage were captured by the “Johnnies” and we had to run. We made our way down the Island through sand, ankle deep, and ever swampy ground with no food, and no water to drink but muddy swamp water, although on both sides of us and in sight there was plenty of water, salt water. At the command “halt” the men would drop in the sand like they were shot, so faint and weary were they. We reached the Hatteras light-house in the evening at nine


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5   1861


very tired and hungry. Laid down on the bare ground without covering and no supper. Poor Soldier!


Oct 5 Got crackers and water for breakfast, went up in the lighthouse and looked off east over the ocean, and west over the Sound. Started for Fort Hatteras, distant twenty miles away. Reached Fort Clark about 8 in the evening, hungry and tired. Got our supper of crackers and hot coffee from the N.Y. [XXXXX]. God bless them. Oct. 6th Sunday Left for Camp Wool, distance, about two miles. Slept on the sand. Oct. 7 Nothing of importance today.


Oct 8th Recd our mail today, first for some time


9th Left Camp Wool for Fort Clark two miles away. Oct. 10. NY [XXXXX] here yet we stay out. 11th Rained very hard last night. Some of our boys get very wet. [XXXXX] gone, we are housed in rebel barracks where we find “grey backs” more than we care to find. Oct 12th Thank God for His goodness. Althou I lost my bible and hymn book yet James saved his testement. Oct 18th Got a letter today from home which did me good. Finished reading throgh my bible the fourth time


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We moved up the Island and pitched our tents as far from old Ocean as we could, but the ground was wet and we were in not the best place in Uncle Sams disputed territory. In November we embarked on the ([XXXXX] Spaulding my diary says) Constitution, an old war vessel, I think, for Fortress Monroe, a Fort at the mouth of the James river or rather on the shore of the Hampton roads.


This is a very strong stone fort mounted with large guns, and commanding the entrance to the harbor.


From memory heretofore


Here we did picket and guard duty and spent the Winter drilling and getting ready for active duty in the field. From diary We left Fortress Monroe for Newport news at the mouth of the James River. Feb 26th 1862 where we remained drilling &c. until May 10th when we left for Norfolk, across Hampton Roads southeast of Newport news.


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[In margin] Description of the battle between the Merrimac & Manitou in Hampton Roads, mouth of James River, Va)


While we were at Newport News the Merrimac came from Norfolk March 8th 1862, and commenced her destructive work. The day was quiet, bright and beautiful. There seemed to be a strange stillness on sea and land. Not a ripple broke the still surface of the bay and it sparkled in the sunlight, when away to the south-east we saw a strange looking ironclad vessel, appearing like the roof of a house lined with railroad iron, steaming towards our war frigates. Congress and Cumberland that lay quietly on the water, near our own camp with boats hanging in their places, and the wash clothes in the rigging, the crew apparently unsuspecting any danger near. This powerful foe came on with her steel prow, toward towards these two doomed vessels. The long roll sounded at Fortress Monroe. The Minnesota a large war vessel steamed


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off towards Newport News.


Five gun boats and the Roanoke in tow followed. Two rebel Steamers accompanied the ironclad monster in her work of destruction. The crew of the Cumberland, as thy saw the Merrimac came around Craney island recognized her as the rebel iron clad, and immediately prepared for action. The vessel was swung across the channel so as to bring her broadside to bear on the enemy. When the Rebel monster had got within a mile of the Cumberland, the pivet guns of the latter vessel opened fire on the enemy. The Merrimac did not deign to reply. Thirteen guns opened fire on the Merrimac, but the heavy shots made no more impression seemingly on the iron monster, than so many peas shot from a pop gun. Still the Merrimac kept on her course.


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Suddenly one of her shot crashed through the Cumberland, killing half a dozen men. Straight onward she came with her iron prow turned towards the anchored vessel. The fated ship could not get out of the way, and the huge prow struck her with a shock that sent her back on her anchors, she keeled over until her sails almost touched the water. A great hole was made in her side, through which the water poured in a torrent. The Merrimac drew off and while very close commenced a murderous fire on the disabled vessel. I believe she struck her the second time with her prow, but still the Cumberland would not surrender but kept on firing with rapidity and precision. Had the Merrimac been a wooden vessel she would have been sunk in a few minutes. One sailor with both legs shot off, bobbled up to his gun, fired


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and then fell back dead.


Deeper and deeper settled the noble vessel, but her gallant commander and crew would not surrender, but kept their guns at work until she went down. The flag waved aloft as the vessel went down, and of the four hundred gallant souls on board, only a little over half were saved Some were picked up by boats sent from the shore, others swam to the land, but the chaplain and wounded below, went down together. All this work of destruction had only occupied about three quarters of an hour. The Merrimac now turned her prow towards the Congress. For perhaps half an hour the unequal contest was kept up when she (Congress), riddled with shot and shell and her commander killed struck her colers. (I will tell more about the Congress in the future)


The Merrimac apparently unharmed turned her attention to other vessels.


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The powerful war ship, Minnesota, had got aground. The Merrimac opened fire on her, but did not seem inclined to come to close quarters, perhaps afraid of running aground herself.


At length night came on, but still the heavy guns lit up the darkness with their thunderings. The hearts of all the Fortress Monroe and Newport News were filled with gloom. What would tomorrow bring forth?


From the shots of the Merrimac the Congress got on fire. If my memory serves me right, the men [XXXXX] all left the burning ship and as the fire was after night, and burning very rapidly, we expected a big explosion when the fire should reach the magazine. The shore was lined with soldiers, and from the light


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of the burning vessel we could discern objects distinctly at a distance. But I am to fast. When the Merrimac had disabled the Congress, she turned her attention to the Cumberland and sunk her. (Longfellow tells in verse, the story of the Cumberland. If you have not got it, I will write it off and send to you) then the Congress floated down the James river, and stranded near where we were deployed in line of battle. After the sinking of the Cumberland, and when the Merrimac steamed down the river making for the Minnesota. Stranded she remained at a distance and again riddled the Congress not sparing the wounded and disabled on board. When she (Merrimac) sent men to board the Congress, Company R and another Co. was sent as sharpshooters to keep them from boarding the vessel. We did our work well and kept the enemy back. It made the rebels mad and again they opened fire on the Congress with burning shells.


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Night came on but the vessel was on fire. The flames spread rapidly, but in the darkness boats were sent, and all, I believe, on board were saved. We watched the burning vessel, a sad, awful spectacle. “A ship on fire” the flames shot up the rigging, leaped through the portholes and hatchways. It was a sight I never shall forget. The white flag was at the masthead, plainly visable, before the fire reached it. The stars and stripes were still floating from the masthead of the Cumberland. What a contrast! The white flag on the burning vessel, the noble old flag floating from the other, under which noble hearts were sleeping. Suddenly a gun was fired from the burning ship towards the Merrimac and then another. What did it mean? The guns had been loaded, and the intense heat had discharged them. Some of the soldiers were asleep when the fire reached the magazine and a terrific ex-


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-plosion [XXXXX], shaking the earth, and throwing some of the timbers to the land. I remember well that scene. The time was perhaps about midnight. I was up, watching the fire. All was light around, suddenly a great sound and shaking and falling fire and timbers, and then stillness and midnight darkness. As a relic, I got a piece of pine timber, a foot long, and sent it home and had it after I came on this farm but it is gone. I know not where.


Rumor said that the Rebel General Macgruder had a force of 10,0000 men just across the water, and the Merrimac held undisputed sway on the water. The situation on that night was fearful to contemplate. New York, Baltimore, Washington and other sea board cities were in peril. But God, the Mighty King of nations, the Great Ruler of the Universe was watching over our nation. Glory be to his great name. Deliverance was at hand though we knew it not. Our hearts were sad.


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We cried to Him for help. Blessed be His great and exalted name He heard the cry of His people. On the morrow out hearts though now sad, would be made glad.


March.9.1862. Sunday. A day long to be remembered by those who witnessed the great navel battle between [XXXXX] Merrimac and the “Yankee Cheese box” the Monitor.


On this morning when we saw the strange looking vessel, we did not know whether to cheer or remain silent. The Merrimac bore down on the Minnesota and fired a shot at her, but there was no response. she then aimed a shot, a one hundred pounder, it was said, at the Monitor. The latter vessel promptly replied, and for an hour or more, a rapid fire was kept up by both vessels, being very near each other. The Monitor was so small it was difficult for the Merrimac to hit her. On the other hand the Merrimac was easily hit being so


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large, but the solid shot glanced from her sides and went hundreds of yards along on the water. There was such rapid firing that both vessels were hid in a cloud of smoke, and we thought that the Monitor was surely disabled, but when the cloud lifted the little vessel seemed all right. she rubbed her sides against the flanks of the huge monster. The Merrimac turned towards the Minnesota, and commenced firing her solid shot where she could so some execution. The little Monitor got around between the Minnesota and Merrimac striving to shield her big friend. The Merrimac tried to run over the cheese box, but she did not seem to damage the Monitor but on the other hand injured her prow and machinery. The battle had


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been raging for five hours now, and about 12 O-clock the Merrimac withdrew from the fight, and was taken in tow by a tug boat, back towards Norfolk harbor. The victory was ours. what rejoicings! On the vessels, at the fort at Newport-news, a prolonged, triumphant cry of victory went up. God had heard and answered the prayer of thousands. Fifteen hundred contrabands were near and under the protection of Fortress Monroe. These men women and children could do nothing. All night long, it was said, they cried and prayed to God for deliverance and when victory came, what shouts and halleluiahs went up. The whole North rejoiced Glorious victory. The God of battles had make known his power.


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With all the rejoicings we were saddened. The bodies of the noble men who were killed and drowned, came floating to the shore, and tenderly we gathered them up and buried, with the honors of war.


(From the 9th of March until we joined the Potomac Army in June we were on guard and picket duty. Company, Regiment, and Brigade drill, review, inspection, &c. Gen Wool an old General in the Mexican war was with us part of the time, also Gen Mansfield. Both these men were old soldiers, and have long since passed away. At this time our duties were not arduous.


Before we left Camp Butler, New Port News, Va. to join the Potomac Army the battles of Yorktown and Williamsburg were fought The Rebels fell back toward Richmond.


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We left our old camp at Newport News and went to Portsmouth where we embarked on the steamer, John A Warner. June 6th, and on the 7th of June we left Fortress Monroe for White House landing and the last named place the 8th for the Potomac army before Richmond. Now we are to see the horrors of this war. While we are in the trenches before Richmond, (four miles from the city) we saw scattered through the woods dead men, turned black, rebel soldiers unburied. The warm June weather and the thick pine woods made the stench rising from these dead bodies almost intolerable. The air was foul, and thick with pestilence. Many of our soldiers were sick. Chickahominy swamps and Fair Oaks were disease breeding places. Disease was taking


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our men from us faster than the sword. I remember Fair Oaks or Seven pines as a camp on low level ground in pine woods where it was very hot and where the air was very impure. Dead and sick men were all around. The hospitals were full of sick men. Chickahominy swamps were near by. One morning after crossing Chickahominy creek, we encamped on the wet ground (we were all wet from the big rain) and what a doleful time we had! Our clothing and blankets wet, and we a disconsolate, lowspirited company of men. On the 25 of June we were in our first regular battle. For months before this we had been spoiling for a fight. On this


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day, “We went out to drive in the Rebel lines, in the forenoon there was hard fighting on the right of us. In the evening about sundown nine Cos. of our Regt. were taken to the left to charge on a battery. We drove the Rebels back but not being supported on our flanks, we were almost surrounded. The Rebels were on both sides and in front, accordingly we had to retire in double quick time. Some of our men were taken prisoners, others killed and wounded. Reinforcements soon came and the “Johnnies” were driven back. I got wounded slightly on the right hip. My brothers gun stock was shattered. Narrow escapes for us both. I remember running back with the others and as soon as the ball grazed my hip, I thought my hip was shot through and my hand very quick went there


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June 27, 1862


“Co K. 20 Ind. Regt. Is out today at the Breast works. I am here in my tent lame from a gun shot wound. This evening we got orders to be ready for marching. Soon after the order came we were on the march. We moved over to or near the left wing of the army north of the railroad.


28th We moved today back near our old encampment. There seems to be considerable stir. The wagon trains are moving the army stores. A backward movement or an advance is surely near.


29th Sunday. “Fall back behind our breastworks. Heavy cannonading on our right. About an hour before sunset we withdrew under heavy shelling, encamped for the night about 10 miles from our breast works” (Now I write from memory). Today, I think I am correct in the time, a member of Co G while standing with gun in hand suddenly screamed out. a shell had taken his leg off near the body. For a moment he stood on one leg, the flesh hanging


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down and quivering from the stump of the other leg, the blood running in profusion. The poor boy, for he was only a beardless boy, [XXXXX] agonizing screams and then fell over, in death. I have seen this sight a thousand times since then in recalling this sad scene. Men and horses were torn to pieces today by the murderous shells.


30th Mustered in today for our wages. Marched about 1 ½ miles. In the afternoon, at about 4 O-clock. We (our Co. K.) were sent out as skirmishers. The enemy made a charge, all our men got back to our lines except seven of us. The seven were between to two fires, so we lay down flat on the ground. Our men behind us knew where we were and were careful in their firing.


Not so with the enemy. Two of the seven were killed there, four of the five were wounded, one so very serious, that in two weeks he died in a rebel prison. (Corporal Reed our Captains son)


Taken prisoner


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During the firing one of my comrades raised his head too high, and a bullet hit him in the top of the head. The blood and brains ran out, at that moment, while asking Gods protection, a thought came to me, put your head down as near the ground as possible, (head being toward the enemy) and put your gun before your head.  I did so. No sooner done, than a bullet hit the wood-work or stock of my gun, before my head, and between my hands, slightly wounding my fingers, but not wounding me otherwise. Capt Reed was severly wounded in the neck, his son in the bowels, and Ball in the head. George Uhl escaped uninjured. The firing ceased and we had to surrender being (The 14 S.C. Regt Gen took us.) so near the enemy. We remained near the lines, in a house during the night. Were treated kindly.


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July 1st Three of us, Samuel Ball George Uhl and myself came father back in the rear. We passed through the Rebel front lines. Saw a great many rebel soldiers. Generals and the noted chief Jeff Davis. There was hard fighting today, terrific cannonading. The great battle of Malvern Hill is being fought. The enemy made charge after charge and were repulsed with great strength.


July 2nd Slept in a barn last night, and started for Richmond at 9.A.M. 12 miles away. Arrived here about 3 P.M. On the road we passed houses where the female inmates would come to the door and call out “Yanks what are you doing here” and other very sarcastic remarks they would make. At length Same Balls wrath arose, and when they would come to the door, they would run back,


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about as quick as they could, while the rebel soldiers, (guarding us), Uhl and I would laugh at balls sharp word and the way he hushed up the female rebels, and made them run back. We were put into an old church with about 500 other prisoners. Were very much crowded. At 6 P.M. got our supper of bread and soup.


3rd Slept on a bench last night, hard place. O I wish I could hear from Jimmie. Is my brother dead or alive? Who will tell me? O God hear the prayer of thy people in behalf of our nation. If our cause is just. O Lord crown our efforts with success. I commit all into thy hands.


This is a weary life, nothing scarcely to read, no news, not enough to eat, crowded into a small house “and wickedness all around” We got our bread and soup about 9 or 10 this morning two meals a day now. About 6. P.M. we left the old church and were taken to an old tobacco factory. Libby Prison. We got our bread and soup and a very little meat after dusk, then lay down on our hard flour beds to sleep”


Prison life


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July 4th “At home they are enjoying the 4th in the happy old way, but here we are shut up in prison. It is hard, but I will not complain:


We got out breakfast about seven this morning. Read my testament


Supper about six” Our meals eleven hours apart.


5th “Up a little after daylight. Breakfast of bread and a little mead, at seven. Read my testament, and washed my clothing as well as I could in this cramped up crowded prison house. Found Lieut. Price of our Co. and two others of our Regt. today. Darning my socks” When we were brought into this prison, a few days since, our pockets were searched and we had to give up everything of value. If we could hide any thing in our shoes or caps so much the better for us. I had Captain Reeds purse with some money in which I secreted, and after I was exchanged, sent to him, “Today I read some sweet passages of scripture. One “The Lord, God, Omnipotent reigneth” is comforting I will leave all in his hands. Every burden


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Apr. 4 1890


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I roll on him. Country, friends, all He will take care of all. Blessed be his name. Supper of soup, only, at 9 Oclock fourteen hours apart, our meals today. Hard. Look on our affliction O Lord. Hear our prayers.


6th Sunday. Rose early. Washed and combed. Read the last chapter of my testament. I have read my bible through 5 times, and yet I know very little of divine things. O Lord help me to live humbly trusting in Thee”

One recorded meal in my diary today. “Got bread and soup this evening at six Oclock. Thank God for even this”


7th Up very early, washed and combed, then went to the door, (an upper story door) strange the guard did not shoot me, to breathe the pure fresh air and watch the people pass. Thought of home and friends and the mercies of God to me. O how thankful I should be to my Heavenly Father for His loving care. Breakfast (Bread and soup) at eight. Finished darning my socks. Spent the day reading studying working &c. Supper at seven [XXXXX] One week I have been a prisoner. How


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many weeks will I have to remain in this crowded unhealthy room.


8th Rose early. In the window sometime to get fresh air. Read in my testament “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden &c. “What sweet passages of scripture! Thank God for his many precious promises.


9th Three wounded soldiers died last night and yesterday in the room below us. O, that this war would close. Lord interpose, bless and crown our efforts with success. Wrote home today. (We have to be very careful what we put in our letters, as they are read before crossing the lines)

Saw 250 Yankees pass today, on their way home, I was told. Breakfast at 10, Supper at 5.30. This is very warm weather.


10th Up early. Another poor fellow died last night. Time passes. Soon we all will be in eternity. How glad I have the word of God to read. it is precious now. O Lord bring me out of prison, that any soul may praise Thee. Breakfast at 10 Supper at 4.


11th Breakfast at 7 A.M. Rainy day. I am in health. How good the Lord is to me. Supper at four


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12th Cloudy morning. Have a slight headache What an indolent life this is. O that I had my freedom once more. At 12 O.clock moved onto Belle Island, in the James river, a mile from Libby prison. We find it a great deal better place than the old tobacco warehouse. One meal today. Supper, meat and bread, at six P.M.


Sunday [XXXXX] Slept well last night. Took a good wash in the James river. Wish I had two or three new Advocates to read. Breakfast (only bread) at nine. Supper at six.


14th Bathed early this morning. Breakfast (bread) at nine, and supper at nine this evening. A man died very suddenly this evening, yesterday playing cards, today he is in eternity. “In the midst of life, we are in death”


15th One year ago today, Asbury and I enlisted in the U.S. service. How time passes Bathed this morning. Got no breakfast. At 3 P.M. got only a little beef. At 4 commenced raining. We got a little bread at 9. they can’t feed us. What a government. “Southern Confederacy”


16th Bathed in the James river this morning. No breakfast. Got a little bread at 2 in the afternoon. at night a little beef. Hot day rain at night.


17th Got up with the headache, soon gone. We got a little flour and a few beans in the forenoon in the afternoon beef and bread. rain today.


18th How good the Lord is to me How much I owe Him! My heart, life, all I have, all I am. Reading the “Memoir of Mr. Safford.”


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19th This is a cool morning. Read [XXXXX] account of the sufferings of Christ. O that I could be like Jesus! So patient! Breakfast (bread) at 11 . Supper at 4. Learned sic beautiful versus beginning “Up to the field where angels lie”


20th thursday. Up early. Bathed. Finished reading Memoir of Safford. He was a good man “Let me live the life of the righteous that my last end be like his” So help me, my Father to live.


21st Up late. Bathed. Committed the 10 chapter of Romans and Lieut Price heard me recite the verses. It is 3 P.M and they (the Rebs) have given us nothing to eat yet. At four got bread, and a little at nine. The Rebels are celebrating the Bull run victory today. Rockets are going up this evening, pretty fast.


22nd Bathed this morning. I have the diarrhea. feel very uncomfortable. We were marched out and counted.


26th bathed. This is a very healthy exercise. Rebel reinforcements are coming in. Hot day. God is good to me. All I have and are, I receive from Him. How much I should love Him.


25th Up early. Bathed. Read God’s holy word which is a lamp to my feet. This afternoon they are taking the sick and wounded away, to Richmond to parole I hear.


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26th Waked up early. Raised my heart to God in prayer. Thought of His goodness and love to me His mercy and longsuffering How much I should love Him. Went down and bathed in the river. A rebel soldier gave me a piece of bread, and a little meat. I was nearly starved. How thankful I felt!

“If thine enemy hunger, feed him &c” Help me to do likewise. O Lord. How tedious the hours pass away. Prison life seems long.


27th Sunday. Lifted my heart in prayer and meditation to God. It is wonderful! the Goodness and love of God. Went down to the river and bathed. Passed the day in reading my testament, meditation, con-versation &c


28th Four weeks ago today, we were taken prisoners. Four weeks hence will we still be held as prisoners? I hope not. This is a very warm day Bathed early this morning.


29th Up early & bathed in the river. We have about half enough to eat, part of the time. Warm weather.


20th Bathed in the river early this morning. This bathing every day in the river keeps me in health. Many soldiers do not bath once a week


31st waked early. Lifted my heart in prayer to God for grace through the day. Bather, Rainy


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Lay in my tent, and read my testament, most of the day. meditation & conversation employed my time partly.


Aug 1st Cool morning. Bathed early. We were marched out and counted. Heard artillery firing last night.


2nd Up early and bathed. cool morning but warm day. they are taking the sick off the Island. Breakfast (a half loaf of bread and a little meat) at 8 Oclock. Drew nothing else today


3rd Sunday. Waked up early & bathed. Holy Sabbath day. Lifted my heart in prayer and thanksgiving to the Giver of all good. He gives me life, health, food, [XXXXX], everything. At home they are in Sunday School or listening to a sermon while we are deprived of such heaven favored privileges. More sick left today.


4th Rose early, waited over an hour before I got to bathe. They took our names intending to perole or exchange us, we were told.


5th Slept in the open air. up early. Left Belle Island, at noon, for our transports. 15 or 18 miles down the river (3000 of us) Met a great many rebel prisoners returning from the north. They said to us, “Why, Yanks why are you so ragged and poor in flesh” We told them we were not used well. They said “we have had plenty to eat and good clothes to wear up north. This is a very hot


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day. I came near giving out. Got some blackberries and huckleberries on the road.


6th Slept in the open air last night. For the first time, last evening we got all we could eat from our men. Thank the Lord On board the Steamer New Haven. Came on board at 10.30 A.M. The Stars and Stripes wove over us once more. Dear Old flag I love thee. We got off the Steamer at Harrisons landing and started for our Regt. But had to stop and lay out.


7th This morning we started early in search of our boys. Some found and were glad to see them. My brother as well, and was overjoyed to see me. This morning the Regt was on inspection, this morning on Brigade drill. This evening, bathed in a pond, half a mile from camp.


8th Have plenty to eat now. General Starvation we left behind, when we left the rebel prison pen. Have the dear old Advocate to read. Food for soul and body. How thankful I should be Bathed this morning This evening the balloon went up to ascertain something in regard to the enemy that would be useful in future operations. Severe attack of


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diarrhea this evening.


9th Feel better this morning. Read a new Advocate today. Warm day


What a great contrast. A few days since we were prisoners, in rags, and very little to eat. Now we have plenty to eat good clothes, good reading matter. Can hear from friends and write to them. Surely a soldier in such circumstances ought to be contented and happy. Bathed this evening.


10th Sunday. Spending my time in reading, writing, meditation and prayer. How good my Heavenly Father is to me. – Raining tonight.


11th Nice, cool, morning, but soon warm. Making preparations to leave. It seems the whole army here is about to move, but I can not tell where.

12th We are here yet near Harrisons landing on the James River, but ready to leave at any time. Very warm day Remained in the shade near a spring a great part of the afternoon.


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13th Still here (at Harrisons Landing on the James River). No drills. This is a nice, cool day. The left wing of our Regt. Went on picket, but came back. James got a letter from home this evening. Father has not heard of my release from prison yet. How highly favored I have been while a prisoner! Many were carried out of prison dead, while my life has been preserved. Help me my Father to be thankful for all thy mercies to me.


14th This is a warm day. James is on guard at headquarters. Wrote a letter home, today. I have the diarrhea very bad. In the evening, went to the hospital for a day or two.


15th We were up early, getting ready to leave. The sick soldiers go to the landing, to embark on a vessel, for Newport News. The others march through to Yorktown


16th After staying all day and part of the night at the landing, we got on


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board about 3 Oclock this morning. Sailed down the river. Stopped at Fortress Monroe until evening, then we came to Newportnews, landed and went to the upper barracks.


17th Sunday, still troubled with a bad diarrhea. With some other boys I went down to our old camp. The ground is all overgrown with grass and weeds. Here we witnessed the naval engagement, last March, between the Rebel vessel, Merrimac, and Monitor. On our way back to the barracks, we stopped at Chaplain Meechs tent, heard him preach from [XXXXX] 6 chap. 14 [XXXXX] a very good sermon, and got some tracts. Thank God for this privilege of once more hearing his word preached


18th After breakfast, took a walk up the river, found some apples and peaches, also books and tracts in the old camps here. I bowed in secret prayer.


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Found the Savior precious to my soul. A part of the army is coming in here and embarking on boats. Wrote a letter this evening to James.


19th Before breakfast went down to the river and bathed, a crab got hold of my big toe, made me kick and jump. Did not hurt much. Wrote a letter home today. The army is still coming in and leaving. I feel weak from continued diarrhea, but my strength comes from my best, dearest, Friend. He is my support. Blessed be His name.


20th Took a pleasant, early bath. After breakfast went down to the Chaplains tent. He was gone, so I came back.


21st This is a warm day. There seems to be distant cannonading this morning. This evening Cloudy and thundering.


22nd I got up early, went down to the river and bathed. – Saw in the afternoon two soldiers, as they passed our cookhouse


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stop, and ask for something to eat. Poor fellows! They were very hungry


A Sanitary man came to our hospital building and gave each one of us a handkerchief apiece this evening.


23rd Feel worse this morning. After dark every evening, I go out and bow in secret prayer, and it is comforting and a very great peace comes to my heart, knowing that the Holy One is so near me, watching over and caring for one of the least of his children.


25th Sunday. This is a rainy day. Our hospital building leaks so badly that we have to move our beds from one place to another. – Did not get to church today, but read my testiment.


25th All, but our worst boys, (those not able to walk remains.) are to be taken off. This afternoon we go on board the Knickerbocker – The boat anchors a little ways up the river and remains till


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26th Started about six this morning Sailed up the Potomac river.


27th Arrived at and remained a short time near the mouth of Agura creek. Then went on board the steamer Key West, arrived at Alexandria, 5 P.M. and came out of town to a camp – This is my birthday, 23 years old today. O how swiftly time passes away! 23 years of my life gone, and have I spent those years wisely? O that I may in the future spend my time wisely, live nearer God and Heaven. (These diary notes were written 28 years ago


28th I was very sick for a short time, this morning, but soon got better. Am [XXXXX] with diarrhea yet. We moved a short distance today.


29th Those, who were not able to march 25 miles, to the regt. were taken off to the hospital. Bowed in secret prayer this morning. It was a precious season.


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30th Saw the Capitol buildings this morning, for the first time. (6 miles away) The air was very smoky, so that I did not get a fair view. Saw Ed Brown this morning, and had a long talk with him, about friends at home, soldier life &c. Went to the hospital, saw a great many of our sick boys. Wrote a letter home today.


21st Sunday. Read a new Advocate Had a good time reading my favorite paper today. also enjoyed a more precious season in secret prayer, talking to my best Friend. Have the chronic diarrhea yet bad. – Rainy day.


Sept 1st I am getting weaker. – Received bad news today. Col Brown of our Regt. (20th Ind) was killed last Friday, Aug 29th, 1862, in the Chantilly battle Bull Run battle ground, also Comrades Howel, Ferguson & Bowen.


2nd Came to the hospital camp, near town (Alexandria) because not able to go to the regt,


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3rd Slept on some hay in a barn lest night. very good place. I am getting weaker. God is my strength.


4th Our Regiment is encamped about 2 miles from here. I sent over for my mail, got four or five letters and a paper. Jimmie was well.


5th Diarrhea bad as ever. Got some painkiller which I think will help me. Wrote a letter this evening. O that I could love God more. He is very good to me. He loves even me.


6th James was over to see me, brought a letter. He is not well, worn out I think. – I am getting better. The painkiller is helping me, being blessed of God.


7th Sunday. Beautiful Sabbath day. I would like to enjoy the privileges of Sunday School and Church once more. O that the war was at an end. Wrote a letter home today Reading my testament and Advocate.


8th Feel better. Writing letters. Beautiful


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weather, Feel very weak.


9th Writing, reading &c today.


10th O that peace and unity would once more prevail. God reigns and peace will come in His own good time.


11th Bought ½ pint of milk, 5cts for breakfast. it was very good, made me think of home. In the evening went to the Regt. Got four months wages $52.00


12th Marching orders. Came about 2 miles, now encamped near Arlington Heights


13th Co. drill in the morning. Washed my cloths today. This is a fine place for a camp. Have a good view of Washington Our Regt. is very small. Read a letter today.


14th Sunday Inspection this morning. We pitched our tents today. – Received good news from Maryland and the west. Meeting this evening in front of the Chaplains tent – We had a good time.


15th Co. drill this morning. I am getting stronger – Thank the Lord for his goodness to me.


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Saw in the paper “under deaths of soldiers” the name of Harbolt among the names of others. Poor fellow. he is gone, was wounded Friday, 29th of Aug, “In the midst of life we are in death” We were called up about 10 at night, marched 1 ½ miles (Left wing of Regt. only.) to support a battery. Sent home our money.


Sept 16th 1862 Came into camp at 9 A.M. Inspection at 3 PM. Under marching orders.


17th Co drill this morning. Brigade and Co drill in evening. Recd a letter from home.


18th Sick today. The left wing of the Regt. Want on picket this morning.


19th Not well yet. We receive good news every day. God grant the war may soon close. Received a new Advocate. Jimmie has gone to the Bull Run battle Ground to assist in burying the dead (Camp near Washington)


20th Co. drill this morning. Washed myself and clothing this forenoon.


21st Sunday. Inspection at 8 AM Recd and a letter and answered one.  Attended church at the chaplains tent. Had a good meeting.


22nd Co drill this morning. I am Sergeant of


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of the guard at headquarters today.


23rd Came off guard at 9 Oclock. Regimental drill at 5. P.M. Jimmie and the other boys came back from burying the dead on the Bull Run Battle ground.


24th Co. drill this morning. Recd a letter from J B Adel – 25th Co. inspection this morning Battalion drill in the evening.


26th Co. drill today. We have warm weather now


27th Co. drill this forenoon. In the afternoon took a bath and washed my clothing. Bowed in secret prayer. Gods presence was with me.


28th In the morning Regimental inspection. In the afternoon Brigade review.


29th In the morning Co. drill. In the afternoon moved back 1 ½ miles farther from Washington.


30th At 7 A.M. the whole regiment went on picket duty 8 or 10 miles from our camp. Had a good meal of roasting ears (corn) and fox grapes. In the dusk of the evening retired to a secret place, and kneeled in prayer. Found Jesus precious to my soul. O what great love, he comes very near even to me.


Oct 1st We were releived at 9 A.M. by the 37th Mass. Regt. Then came into camp. Recd a letter, Bathed in creek then kneeled in secret prayer. What a great privilege. Commonwealth with God


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of the guard at headquarters today.


23rd Came off guard at 9 Oclock. Regimental drill at 5. P.M. Jimmie and the other boys came back from burying the dead on the Bull Run Battle ground.


24th Co. drill this morning. Recd a letter from J B Adel – 25th Co. inspection this morning Battalion drill in the evening.


26th Co. drill today. We have warm weather now


27th Co. drill this forenoon. In the afternoon took a bath and washed my clothing. Bowed in secret prayer. Gods presence was with me.


28th In the morning Regimental inspection. In the afternoon Brigade review.


29th In the morning Co. drill. In the afternoon moved back 1 ½ miles farther from Washington.


30th At 7 A.M. the whole regiment went on picket duty 8 or 10 miles from our camp. Had a good meal of roasting ears (corn) and fox grapes. In the dusk of the evening retired to a secret place, and kneeled in prayer. Found Jesus precious to my soul. O what great love, he comes very near even to me.


Oct 1st We were releived at 9 A.M. by the 37th Mass. Regt. Then came into camp. Recd a letter, Bathed in creek then kneeled in secret prayer. What a great privilege, communion with God


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Sept 15 1862


Saw in the paper, the name of Harbolt among other names, under “deaths of soldiers” Poor fellow. He is gone, wounded on Friday on Aug 29th “in the midst of life we are in death” – We were called up about 10 at night, marched one half mile, (left wing of our Regt), to support a battery. Sent home our money.


Sept 16, 1862


Came into camp at 9 A.M. – inspection at 3 P.M. – Under marching orders.


17th Co drill this morning. Brigade and Co drill in evening – Recd a letter from home.


18th Sick today. – The left wing of the Regt went on picket this morning.


19th Unwell, but better. – We receive good news every day now. God grant the war may soon close. Recd a new advocate. – Jimmie has gone with others today to the Bull Run battle ground to bury the dead.


26th Co. drill this morning. Washed my clothes today


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21st Sunday. Inspection at 8. A. M. Recd a letter and wrote one. Attended church at the Chaplains tent. Good meeting.


22nd Co drill this morning. – I am sergeant of the guard, at headquarters today.


23rd Came off guard at 9. A. M. – Regimental drill at 5. P.M. – James, with the other boys came back this evening, from the Bull Run battle ground.


24th. Co drill this morning. Recd a letter today from John Adle.


25th Co. inspection this morning. – Battallion drill in the evening.


26th Co. drill today. Warm weather.


27th Washed my clothes and bathed today Co. drill. – Bowed in secret prayer. Felt of a truth that God was with me.


28th In the afternoon Brigade review. Regimental inspection in forenoon.


29th In the morning Co. drill in the afternoon moved about one half mile father back from Washington.


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Sept 30, 1862. At 7 A M. The whole regt. Went on picket duty 8 or 10 miles from camp Had some fox grapes and green corn quite a treat. In the evening retired to a private place for secret prayer. Found the Savior very near and precious to my soul.


Cot 1. We were relived at nine AM by the 37 Mass. Regt. Then came into camp. Got a letter from home. After dark I went to a secluded spot, and there had a sweet communion with God. Happy moments blessed privilege


Oct 2. Co inspection at 8 A.M. One Co drill today. One year ago today the Steamer Fanny with our provisions on board was captured in Pamlico Sound at Chickamacomico.  Hatteras banks N. [XXXXX]


3rd Very warm day. Battalion drill in the afternoon. Bowed in secret prayer. None near but God. What better company can man enjoy


4th One year ago we retreated from Chicamacomico Eight years ago today “my dear mother” was buried she who taught my infant tongue to lisp the blessed


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Oct 1862


Name of Jesus. Eight years in Heaven. O she is safe from all evil, while her children are still exposed to temptation, but God has said “my grave is sufficient for thee” I will lean on the strong arm of “My Father” He has brought me thus far. His promise will not fail “Fear not I am with thee” In the forenoon washed myself and my clothes. In the afternoon went to the pleasant shady woods and read for awhile.


Sunday 5th Inspection this morning. Wrote a letter and went to the woods, spent a short time reading and then found a secret spot and talked with my best Friend. What precious seasons! In the evening after dress parade, out chaplain preached, and at night we met at his tent for prayer, and according to Divine promise, the Savoir met with us. What pleasant times in the life of a soldier.


6th 1862 Co drill in the morning. Battallion in the evening. Went to the shade to read.


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Gov. Morton of Ind was here to see us. He made a short speech while we were out on Battallion. Wrote a letter to Uncle Bestwick Shutly. This is a warm day. Washed off in the branch.


8th In the morning Co. drill. In the evening Bat.. drill – At noon I commenced writing, and was very sick all the afternoon. – Have a very bad diarrhea


9th Feel better this morning. Co. inspection this morning. Bat.. drill in evening.


10th On the sick list today. Have the diarrhea very bad, griping pains in my bowels. – About dark our Regt. Got orders to leave the sick. (I among them) We were ordered to report to the Surgeon. About nine P.M. we were marched off toward Alexandria. Sick, but have to march. God is my strength


11th Lay out in the rain last night. This morning we came to this camp, near For Lyon. Have a very bad diarrhea.


12th Sunday. I had to be up in the night many times. Taking medicine today – Rainy day


13th Feel better today Wrote a letter.


14th Moved out of our board tents into [XXXXX] tents This afternoon took the diarrhea bad as ever.


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15th Was up a great many times last night – Had a fever all night and slept little – Feel bad this morning. In secret prayer God meets with me


16th Getting better though weak. O how sweet to bow in secret prayer. There I can plead with God in behalf of my poor country, and there He calms my fears, for something say The Lord God Omnipotent reighneth” In Him I trust. He will guide out affairs.


17th This morning I went to a secret spot in the brush and bowed in prayer. How sweet to feel Jesus near to comfort and give solid abiding peace of mind. – Also in the afternoon, His Presence abides with me while in prayer, and while about my other duties.


18th Beautiful weather. This morning washed my clothes. In the afternoon washed myself. Bowed in secret prayer, felt it good, thus to spend my time in secret with my Savior.


19th Sunday. This is a beautiful day, bright, peaceful and pleasant, like the Heavenly or Eternal Sabbath shall be, Several times I bowed in secret prayer. God was present to bless me


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Oct 24.  1862


The Regt. Which is near Poolsville. M.D. Reached the camp of the Regt. About 3 P.M. found all the boys well as usual. Several letters here for me.


25th Cold weather, Answering letters and washing my clothes. God is very good to me.


26th Sunday. Cloudy day. Grand review this morning. The Regt. Went on picket today I did not go, have no gun yet. Rainy day.


27th Rainy, cold, morning We are under marching orders. I, with several others, came to the regt. At the canal.


28th At seven A.M. crossed and marched up the canal to Whites ford, where we waded the river (cold, wading.) and are now in Va. Our Regt is on picket duty tonight.


29th Revlieved A 9 AM by the 141st Pa. Regt. Marched back to the read a short distance, and camped here for the day and night.


30th Moved back to the read one mile. Brigade drill in the afternoon.


31st At 7 A.M. Mustered in at 9 A.M. Received marching orders. Marched about 6 miles, through [XXXXX]burg and camped


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Oct 20th Weather cold, but [XXXXX] happy seasons in secret prayer today [XXXXXX]


21st This morning about thirty sold [XXXXX] them, started for the regts. Got [XXXXX] diers rest” in Washington – [XXXXXX] ful affair. Two drunken solder [XXXXXX] Got our suppers here. Coffee, [XXXXX] then lay down to sleep, after asking God [XXXXX] through the night. “Safe in the arms of [XXXXX]


22nd Started about nine O-clock for the [XXXXXX] bridge, three miles away – Saw [XXXXX] house” but not the President there [XXXXX] grounds and buildings are finer [XXXXX] Capitol buildings are splendid ([XXXXX]) The grounds are beautifully laid [XXXXX] to the bridge about 10.30 A.M. [XXXXX] boys got sick and went back to [XXXXX] This evening, got about a boat, but did not start


23rd At 6 A.M. we steamed out. Came only 22 miles and stopped for the night at Senica.


26th Started early, boat stopped at Edwards Ferry, came eight miles. Started on foot for


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Satterlee. U.S.A. Gen’l hospital West [XXXXX]


Thos. W. Stephens… B. 55


Has liberty from twelve M. to six P.M.

S.H. Porter


July 24, 1865 Asst Executive officer.


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Nov 1st 1862.




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