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UPDATED  3-19-03


The purpose of this page is to solicit submissions from original diaries and other sources that would reveal little known habits, occurrences, attitudes, etc. from real soldiers. They would be restricted to a paragraph and contain the title of the source, the year, the theatre and any other information that would be important. The purpose would be to improve our impressions by learning more of the day to day life of the soldiers.

Example, I am reading a book about an Illinois regiment. the writer makes several references to searching for straw for his bedding. on a different note, there is a reference to the boys finding a bush full of robins and by morning, the kettle had a fine mess of them------robins?  Citation to follow.


From "The Rough Side of War"


These are from The Rough Side of War. It is a diary of a soldier in the 59th Illinois. They are on the Atlanta Campaign.
He subscribed to the New York Ledger and received his paper by mail on a weekly basis. The diary is full of references of receiving the paper that day.
It never occured to me that soldiers would subscribe to papers and receive them in the field.
May 11, 1864   "...the rebels have grenadiers...".
May 15, 1864 (at Resaca) "At dark, our band got up on the lines and played tunes... . The example was followed along the lines by other bands"
April 22, 1864 "Boys are playing marbles and jumping to amuse themselves. "
July 2, 1864 ...before the campaign began, some of the boys vaccinated themselves but the vaccination matter was bad and they have awful sore arms. "
August 26, 1864 "We have lots of Napoleon embryo among us. "
August 27, 1864 "Pitch tents on lines in systematic order" . The Hospital Corps comes up and puts up about 3 acres of hospital tents. "
September 2, 1864 "We passed through Jonesborough, the bands playing and 'files dressed' ".
September 4, 1864 Only 2 privates left in that company present for duty but they have 8 noncommissioned officers. "
September 7, 1864 "Clean ground off for tent".
A note from Colonel Dave-My observations are that our impression of the western federal on the campaign for Atlanta may not be accurate.
Note the references to "bands" in the plural.
There are many references to the use of shelter tents. I have only posted a few of the dozens of entries. That does not coincide with our term of "campaign camping".
That the Hospital Corps would be present with "3 acres of Hospital Tents" certainly does not support the popular impression they were tentless.
As to the reference to playing marbles, do we want to have a Brigade marble champion? We could start at Culver and whittle it down to a handful of men that play-off at Gettysburg. Bet my cat-eye can whip your cat-eye!!!!!!!


All are from the Chatanooga campaign.
12/15/63 They have a "shindig", a dance, over the hills...
page 142
12/19/63...and finally found some mouldy bologna   page 145
12/20/63 ...formed the prettiest Christmas trees I ever saw. page 145
12/25/63 ...swearing like a trooper.
page 148
12/26/63 Thats the way the money goes, "pop goes the weasel".
page 148
and they say they only used the word "image" for photograph
1/16/64 Paid 75 cents for dinner and got Sacketts photo. page 156
1/29/64 ...wish now I had gone with them as the point is a spendid place to take a picture. page 161
regarding massive casualties from firefights
1/29/64 ...so we went over to our battleground of November 24th. Found the line held by the opposing Rebels and they were only 40 yards away from us. We fired at each other for 2 hours. page 161
1/31/64 ...I pitched horse shoes to pass the time. page 162
2/9/64 We ate supper in a restauraunt. page 166
and for the hardcores who insist they were only called "braces"
2/11/64 I bought a cap, pants, SUSPENDERS and some collars...
page 168


Civil War humor

"Gen. Rosecrans and staff rode along our line and stopped to chat with the men.
...your front will be like the Irishman's pocket that was full yet had nothing in it. Do you understand how that was? Why the pocket was full of holes. The men roared and cheered him and he rode on down the line. " page 89
I would say their sense of humor was, well, different.
"He says there is a difference between Eastern and Western Union troops." page 92
10/1863 Chatanooga Campaign
Eastern soldiers transferred West say, " They say they would rather serve a year on the Potomac than 2 months here. At least they won't find any featherbeds in it. They load themselves down too heavily. But now that Washington is more than 80 miles away, they will probably get along with less baggage. page 113

February 2, 1864 "Groundhog day and a fine day"  page 163

February 14, 1864  "It is Sunday and Valentines Day". page 168
The Rough Side of War-diary of a soldier in the 59th Illinois


9/63-Chatanooga Campaign
"General Davis and wife and Mrs. Pope ride through our bivouac. These ladies must want to see a fight-fairly spoiling for it seems, to be riding to the front that way." page 76
October 30
"It would seem as reville on bugles and drums is sounding from 3 until daylight...and they seem to make all the noise possible." page 99-100
Gee, we do this correctly
Oct. 31
Speaking about Eastern troops transferred to the Chatanooga area-
"They also say they had rather serve a year on the Pototmac than 2 months here. They load themselves down too heavily. But now that Washington is more than 80 miles away, they will probably get along with less baggage." page 113



From the Diary of Andrew McDonald who was a private in Company B, 21st Michigan Volunteer Infantry:

1.  January 1865 from Savannah Georgia: “The next day we moved in close to the city. It was a dismal looking place and poverty stricken. I bought a corn cake for $1.50 and returned to camp.”

 2, May 1865: “The weather was very warm but that did not give us much thought. We started on a friendly race with the 27th corps to Richmond, Va. 280 miles distant. We reached there in a little more than seven days[,] ahead of all other troops. The 21st advance making nearly 40 miles a day.”

 3.  “Lookout Mountain[,] Sunday Aug 21st [1864] We got all the ripe peaches & apples we could eat. There is hundreds of bushels going to waste. We went to a citizens house about noon and hour our dinner. The man was a strong union man and he only charged us 25 cts.”

 4.  “Lookout Mountain[,] Thursday Sept. 1st. [1864]  I went out six miles to the picketline last night with a load of forage and rations.  I stayed there all night and came back today.”

 5.” Lookout Mountain[,] Thursday Sept. 22 [1864] The 21st  Michigan moved camp today and went out on the picket line to do picket duty.  They are relieved from all Engineer duty here on the mountain.  They are Infantry again the same as they was a year ago. The Regt is greatly recruited up again about 700 strong, but there is a good many of them sick now.  The rain is falling fast this evening.”

 Bruce Robere

21st Michigan


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see http://wwwgagirl.com/cards/florio/



ok, here are some more submissions. the book is "the rough side of war". it is the memoirs of a soldier in the 59th illinois in the western theatre.
February 9-Sunday notwithstanding this, a sham battle took place which, I, being on guard, escaped.
page 3
(gee, they had reenactments during the war)
July 22, 1863, Some officers give $8 for 10 lessons in sabre excercise.
page 65
September 4, 1863.....in column at half distance, which is very unusual.
page 74