The Wartime Diary
of
Newton Timothy Hartshorn
1842-1922


Newton Timothy Hartshorn (Feb 26, 1842 - Mar 28,  1922)

Newton Timothy Hartshorn enlisted in the New Hampshire National Guard shortly after the beginning of hostilities. In October, 1861 he enlisted in the regular army, joining the U.S. Engineer Corps. Advancing from private to corporal in October, 1862 he saw extensive service and was engaged in the construction of pontoon bridges and fortifications. In April, 1864 he was commissioned Captain of Company C, War Department Rifles and was assigned to duty at the White House, guarding president Lincoln. During the war he kept a diary in which he made many sketches. The bulk of his writings were to his brother, Vaola John Hartshorn (1835-1900) who was a minister of the Gospel and never married.



THE CIVIL WAR DIARY OF NEWTON TIMOTHY HARTSHORN

Pack up! Pack up! now echoed through the old barracks occupied by the Battalion of U. S. Engineers - off tomorrow at nine o'clock - and this time sure enough the order did come.

Most of us new recruits enlisted in New England in the Fall of 1861 and ordered on to Washington in November.

For the first few weeks our stay in the City was pleasant, the paraphanalia of war, long trains moving to and from the arsenals, the dash and clatter of mounted men through the streets and the moving columns of infantry took up our attention for a while and fixed our sight seeking eyes, but longer this we were eager to join in the excitements and fortunes of the field.

The sight of the many encampments on and beyond Arlington Heights, the blue smoke curling above them awakened within us rememberance of Grandfathers tales of the old wars, while we sat on his knee gazing in his face and almost longed to see such scenes ourselves. We see them now and soon shall experience all.
Feb 24th '62 On the 24th of February 1862 as the mists of the morning were rolling away from the great Dome of the Capitol we marched silently up 4½ Street to the Depot and soon we were bounding away in the cars we knew not where. Night came and still we moved though slowly now. We slept and on awakening in the morning we discovered as we stepped out in the keen air that the Engine had left us alone on the banks of the rushing Potomoc below Sandy Hook, Md.
Tuesday Feb 25th '62 At sunrise a searching wind sprung up from the East - the Companies ("A" "B" and "C") now formed on the track and took up the line of march for Sandy Hook at which place we spent the morning moving cars to allow our baggage to pass - but few troops were here. A battery of 12 pdr. Parrott guns and a Regt. commander by Col. Geary. By noon we had moved up opposite Harpers Ferry, Va. now occupied by our pickets and selecting a spot between the canal & river just above the piers of the destroyed Rail Road bridge, pitched our Sibley tents established our kitchens &c and when night came. The men having gathered straw &c laid down to sleep comfortably while the wind howled and shreiked around the cliffs that rose perpendicularly some hundreds of feet above.
Wednesday Feb 26th '62 The company was turned out at 2 o'clock in the morning to unload th Pontoons which then arived; the object of our journey was now evident - the construction of a Pontoon Bridge across the Potomoc.
The work was hard, the weather cold and the morning dark. One fell 20 feet into the canal (Artifer Fernald?) but luckily escaped with a good wetting and a severe fright

An abuttment was built on the bank dug away just above our camp and the bridge commenced immediately and finished in 9 hours. It was 830 feet long (the longest Pontoon Bridge ever built in the New World) and contained 41 boats.
Thursday Feb 27th '62 Troops commenced crossing yesterday as soon as the bridge was finished - at about sunset I crossed and entered the far famed village of Harpers Ferry, now almost entirely deserted. I visited the houses of the once happy and rich; musical instruments were there. I touched the keys but the sound was discordant, not in keeping with the air of desolation about. I could bear it no longer. And leaving the narrow streets I climbed the heights overlooking the town. A cold rain had set in and though now nearly dark. I could discern the line of dusky forms still issuing from the shadows of the cliffs on the other side. Poor fellows as they crossed to the village, the hope of a comfortable night in the houses were disappointed; they stopped a moment to gaze into the buildings where a few stragglers had kindled a blazing fire then hunched up their heavy knapsacks and hurried on over the steeps in the dreary rain to join their commands in the long night march.

Monday March 3rd Our work being finished here and the army of General Banks all over we struck tents at dark in the rain and left for Washington where we arrived at Sunrise the next morning cold wet and cross.

On the Road to Bull Run

After returning from Harpers Ferry we stopped a week in the old barracks in Washington.

March 11th '62 Early in the morning of the 11th we were on the march for Fairfax C[ourt] H[ouse]. The main body of of the army being ahead. In no place have I seen such desolation except at Harpers Ferry as I saw on this route. Here the first participants in the war vented their evil desires for the destruction of everything serviceable to man, here the pickets of the first armies of both sides, ignorant of the true spirit of war enflamed with hate and urged on by the incentive language of the journals of the day, like prowling beasts, destroyed each other at first sight. The first night we camped where the road from Alexandria joins that from Washington to Fairfax. The next day we arrived and camped within a Rebel fortificaton near Fairfax Court House about ten oclock.
The march from Washington had been extremely interesting especially the latter part. The obstructions such as great chestnut trees felled in the road still remained, only a narrow road being cut through. As we gained the summit of a hill before entering the town, a grand spectacle wes before us. For miles the flags and tents of the National army could bee seen. Here and there a Battalion of Infantry were drilling, their arms flasing in the sunlight. Squadrons of cavalry swooped over the hills with drawn sabres. Light and heavy artillery were going through evolutions and with all the echoed commands of hundreds of field officers and the busy hum from the camps the scene presented was one of rare occurance and truly soul inspiring. Could this vast sea of living bone and muscle governed with intelligent minds when once set in motion be turned back? Time only could tell.
I believe the army have never since been in such good spirits the few nights were stopped there. The music from numerous bands and the songs of thousands as they sat around camp fires swelling up from the valleys and wafted from the plains, lulling us to sleep.

March 14th. At 5 PM we hastily struck tents and marched back towards Wasington as far as Bentons Tavern (near our former encampment) The next morning we made a rapid march to Washington arriving there in a rain such as no state but Virginia knows.

The state of the roads on this trip were decently good though we found one "slough of despond" some 12 miles from the City in which army wagons, sulkies and ambulances were half buried. The people were all gone except a few old women and slaves.

The soil I shoveled was good, of a light-colored loam after getting back from the Potomoc well. This had been my first experience in carrying a Rucksack and at times I thought it might be my last for like an English tourist I had equipped myself with every little convenience and much clothing. My knapsack belts and rifle weighed at least 60 pounds and this carried at almost a dog trot almost 18 miles without resting but then times fully convinced me that too many conveniences were inconvenient. Since then I have learned to carry but little and find I get along just as well in Camp and much better on the march.

March 26. The Rebels having fallen back from Manassas, the Peninsula became next the scene of our operations. After pulling our Pontoon train an order which took nearly two weeks. On the morning of the 26th we embarked on board the steamers "Herald" and "Marymand" and slowly steaming down the Potomac were soon out of sight of the forest of masts at Alexandria. On the left bank we soon passed Port Wshington, quite formidable looking as clean as a new painted cottage, the slopes being well trimmed, a few houses after we passed Mount Vernon. On waking the next morning (27th) we found ourselves in Chesapeake. Riding on the waves were thousands of water fowl that rose on our approach. We reached Old Point Comfort in about 2 hours where we found a large fleet of transports just arrived with troops, here too we saw the [monitors] and the top masts of the Cumberland could be seen above the water a little beyond Hampton Creek.
An amusing incident happened on our voyage worth noting. Our officers are very dignified, holding no conversation with an enlisted man except about duty. There were four in all (Capt. Douane and Lieuts. Reese, Babcock and the Capt.) The Capt. was a small man and very "quick and short spoken." The senior Lieut. was very fiery and ready to pounce on any intruder. We had a drummer boy by the name of Allen who, having received a graceful education at Governors Island-was not a backward youth at all and had as sharpa tongue as either when he could shield it with darkness.

After the men had stowed themselves on the open deck for the night the Captain and his Lieutenant spread their robes in the gang way which was covered, they having reserved it for themselves, it being a place under cover, and were soon asleep when the drummer came stumbling along through, stepping on the Captain's legs, who awakened us with his short gutteral curse, not unlike that of an Indian.
Capt.: "Uh! Oh!- Get out o'this-Uh! Oh!" Drummer: "Oh, don't get fussy old [crone]" Capt.: "Uh! Ah! Uh! Ah! Confine you! Sargeant of the Guard!"

The Lieutenant was awake by this time and getting a severe [rasp] in his own shins, shouted out: "you scoundral, get out or I will thrash you" "Spell a-b-b-e" retorted the drummer and there being signs of a general rising, he left. This little incident, though not amusing any not understanding the relation of Officers to men here, was very much so to us.

TO HAMPTON, VA, NEAR FORTRESS MONROE

March 28th, 1862. On the evening of the 28th we turned and pitched our Sibleys near the ruins of the old military school. The company was employed unloading the train from the transports. The spaces between the standing chimneys of the destroyed houses [uncovered] with troops bivouacked.

29th. Quite a storm commenced on this day and it was very cold. We got plenty of oysters-[dunkies] were thick with pies and cakes. I was up to the old meeting house built by the English, or I might say to the ruins of it, for only the back walls stood. It was one of the most ancient, romantic places I ever saw. Soldiers had dug away the [dirt] some at the corners for the ancient deposits in the corner stone. Myself and another conspired to finish the job in the night and obtain the booty but the thoughts of a march the next day after laboring hard all night in the rain induced us to abandon the project-no matter how valuable the results of our labors might be.

April 4th. On this day left Hampton. Roads very bad and we moved slowly camping about 1/2 mile beyond little Bethel

5th. Continued the march to Cornwallis place, passing through Big Bethel, the scene of our defeat the summer before. It was quite a strong as our [trains] did not come up with our tents, we bivouacked. I had no blanket but, taking off my pants and shoes, slept on a board under the edge of of a friend's blanket. On waking in the morning, my toes were sticking out, blue with cold in the frost.

6th. Moved to the ship point, the waggons coming up. Here the Rebels had thrown up water barriers and also ones to protect themselves in the rear. We were soon installed in one of the huts left by [them] (there was quite a respectable town of them) and were occupied in unloading forage, etc. from the transports with our pontoon boats. The company stopped here a few days ago then left for Yorktown. A party of us, 12 in number, in charge of Sergt. Kendall remained behind to look out for the boats and keep in repair a temporary wharf.

18th. On the eighteenth we again joined ourcompany at Wormley's Creek, near Yorktown and commencing the active operations of a seige. While at Ship Point I enjoyed myself. Finally we had all the oysters we could eat, etc.
From this time until the 8th of May we were building pontoon bridges, laying out batteries, and conducting operations of the seige. The next day after forming my company I worked as chess layer in building a bridge 480 feet long across Wormley's Creek as we had some very hard showers which made it extremely uncomfortable in this [...] but this is the character of all campaigns in Virginia. I was out back two nights on the fortifications the remainder of my time being at work on the company muster rolls.

SENT TO DELIVER A DISPATCH AT REDOUBT "A"

These nights I was out in Redoubt "A" and could plainly hear the rebel wagons moving all night. While the sentinal on the parapet could be seen every time he passed the lights inside...two of us came quite near walking into Rebel lines having got turned round in the wood we wandered on until coming to an open space discovered lights both ways we knew that one must be the enemies and my companion was quite sure that the one to the left was our own while I was just as sure it was not. So we concluded to try both and try reconnoisences toward each carefully. But while moving toward what proved to be the Rebel lines we came upon a spot I had been on the day before and so recognized our situation which was not in the least pleasant. As we were among the outer pickets and orders were then to fire without challenging on any object from toward the enemy but we got back to battery safely.

May 7th. Thus far no infantry had been engaged since the investment of the place but about this time a Massachusetts Regiment had a fight with some Rebels, taking a battery and a few prisoners. General McClellan's works began to grow larger and larger, contracting toward Fort Magruden, the principal work of the enemy where the old [ ] are, built by General Cornwallis. By May 7th our batteries were quite near the enemy. We had completed a battery mounting four 100 and 1,200 pounder Parrott guns on a point about 2 miles from Fort Magruden and bearing on that work and Gloucester Point opposite. Already the shells from the 100 pounders were with great precission exploding on the enemies commisary and quartermasters buildings while the shells in return from the Rebels burst far back of our battery. One burst quite near our camp which made me make a blob on the Muster Roll. I was at work on about this time. The Rebel who had our small batteries in front to look out for, grew very cross and keeping silent for a short time until our men got a little bold, perhaps then opening up with all their guns at once would knock the [ground] in every direction covering the men with dirt and frightening them considerably but seldom killing anyone.

Sunday May 8. Our boys who had been out on detail at battery No. 10 came running into camp saying that Yorktown was evacuated and it was not long before moving bodies of Cavalry and Infantry showed they were not mistaken. Mortars that an hour ago were being tugged slowly along through the mud with 18 horses were dumped beside the road which soon filled with Batteries, Infantry and Cavalry in one jumble. The representatives of each all swearing and cursing and forming to get along. Night closed in with sound of musketry and cannonading on towards Williamsburg.

May 9th. We struck camp and marched to the plain in front of Yorktown where we camped. Before moving I buried a shell so if I ever came that way again I could could find it. The next morning we marched again but not before I had a chance to see the works in Yorktown. I could not examine everything so closely though as I wished for fear of the torpedos which were so thick one must be extremely careful where he stepped or he would get lifted up.

CAMPAIGN OF 1863 IN VIRGINIA

Wednesday April 29th. At Fredricksburg, Va. We were at work all night getting the pontoons to the river carrying them the last mile by hand. We proceeded very quiet and in a heavy fog about 6 AM. 70 pontoons loaded with 2,000 men of General Brooks Light Division were rowed rapidly across the river by 350 of our Batallion and the Volunteer Engineers. They reached the opposite bank before the pickets stationed there fired on them. Not withstanding the assertion by the officer of the pickets whom we captured that he knew of our coming at 11 PM the night before; they were very evidently surprised. Some five or six on our side were killed and wounded on our side but none of them Engineers. Four Rebels were found dead on the other bank. Two hundred determined men could have prevented our crossing had they known of our coming. One man was shot in the breast by my side on the high part of the bank some 70 feet above the water. Skirmishing all day - cannonading all the night.

Thursday 30th. The bridge was commenced immediately. The Volunteers got ahead of us, laying their abutment first. But when our 21st-and last boat was laid they were just pushing out their ninth boat.

In camp all day. Fighting going on all along the lines except at our bridges. The 6th Artillery Company, what of it is not across there is lying back of them on the plain. On guard at the bridges tonight.

May 1st. All quiet at the bridges. Fighting hard on the right. Last night the 6th A.C., except one division by our bridge moved to the right. The Rebels are apparantly moving to their left to correspond. The bridge a mile below us was shelled so I had to be taken up. At 10 PM the lower bridge (there were three laid) is being taken up and carried up stream. Heavy fighting on our right.
May 2nd Saturday. All safe at the bridges. The Rebels charged through and drove our men most down to them.

The Rebel Artillery are feeling for the bridges. Got all ready for inspection when the word came: "fall in under arms and quick as possible." All the morning there has been firing at the bridges, both musketry and artillery. On reaching there we learn that 50,000 men have crossed in the night and have already taken Fredricksburg (there was no indication that troops had crossed, not a straggler was to be seen and all was quiet) and one corner of the heights to the right of the city.
The Rebels are evidently caught in a trap again, such a large force they did not expect. And as was supposed they were doing the night before, had withdrawn their Infantry to the right or to the left and what remained were cheering all night to induce the belief that they were receiving reinforcements. About 9 AM we commenced to divide the upper bridge into rafts and soon had it on the way up river. We soon reached the site of the old bridge opposite the city and in 60 minutes from the time when it was in condition to be crossed at the old place, it could be crossed at the new. I consider this one of the most successful feat of bridge building yet achieved.

While here we witnessed a desperate charge on those terrible batteries that swept down on our men; so in the last battle, Victory! Victory! Victory! They carry it and even before the Rebels cease firing, the glorious stars and stripes float triumphantly over the red earth strongholds and the heights of Fredricksburg are ours. They stop not there but on, on. From one work to another capturing battery after battery, we see the dust of the retreating Rebels as what of them can escape crowd the roads to the rear. Again, our brave boys charge more distant batteries to the left of the city. When all are taken and our troops disappear over the heights we hear they have driven the enemy four miles. At any rate we can but just hear the report of their guns. One of the batteries captured was the Washington Artillery, long celebrated as the best battery in the Rebel army.
(Years later, Newton would make the notation in his diary: "This was written on the spot. I viewed the charge." On the following page, a pressed flower was taped beside the note: "This little yellow daisy I picked while moving through a dense bed of them on the 3rd of May in the city of Fredericksburg, endeavoring to avoid the fire of the Rebel sharpshooters.")

Lines composed while viewing the charge in the Heights, Sunday May 3rd, 1863.

Tis such a morn as in New England clime,
The church bells call to worship with mellow chime,
And dew drops glisten on the new grown grass,
Where the song birds gaily carol in the budding groves,
But here, instead those meandering slowly to the house of God,
Muster aimed men to meet the fore,their stern tread shakes the sod,
And booms the deep mouthed cannon-bells that ring to death,
With shouts, groans and curses mingled in one breath.
Yet on speeds the battle line nor stops where the foe,
With double charged howitzers lay their ranks low,
And oft waves the star spangled banner high oer,
The red belching mouths ere they cease their mad roar,
On, on through redoubts where the Rebel flag flaunted,
Our breastworks from which the proud [boosters] flee,
They have conquered and loud peals of victory are sounded,
Yes, my Country. Dear Land tis a victory for thee.
Tonight about 1,000 prisoners are at Headquarters.  I am very tired tonight - have walked 15 miles besides working very hard.

Monday May 4th. In camp can hear very heavy cannonading in the direction of Fredericksburg. The weather for the last week or ten days has been beautiful. It seems as though Providence has ordered it such for the battle. The heavy guns are now belching forth their iron hail terribly. I feel all is not right on the heights and yet I hear no musketry.

Afternoon. Alas! alas! the heights are ours no longer. Whether it was intentional to let the Rebels occupy the heights again I do not know. They marched in without opposition, our seige guns howling at them when they advanced too near the city.
Evening. The city is evacuated, about 2,500 wounded passed over the bridge today. It is past 6 PM and we have finished bringing it round. Very heavy firing to the right of and beyond the heights.

Midnight of the 4th. Am on guard. The company bivouacks opposite the city and the dismal howl of the dogs in it's deserted streets and the town clock which some straggler has wound up slowly tolling the hour of the night causes strange sad feelings to creep over me. The moon is shining bright. Every few moments the growls of distant guns fall upon the ear.

Tuesday May 5th. Pleasant. Continued firing on the right. The Rebel pickets have advanced into the city

Evening. The rain pours down in torrents flooding our shelter tents which we have picked up and pitched. I am wet through to the skin. The wet rebels are flocking into the city and almost every house has a light on in it. We are in sad condition tonight.

Wednesday May 6th. Firing all night beyond the heights. Am loading the boats - it rains some. Shall start for camp soon. Terrible shower this evening - all the little ravines are impassible, even with horses.

Thursday May 7th. In camp. A detail prepared the Pontoon train for another trip. No more firing - reported defeat of Hooker.

Friday May 8th. Quite cold and cloudy today. Engaged in up about camp. The army appears to be taking up its old positions. Captain Turnbull, Corps of Topographical Engineers arrived today.

Saturday May 9th. In camp. Very warm.

Sunday May 10th. Company employed cutting and preparing levers to carry the pontoons with. We cut 180.

Monday May 11th. Very warm. Company employed burying dead horses around camp for in a day or two the heat would create an intolerable stench. I am on guard at the boat train tonight.

Tuesday May 12th. Very warm. A boat train came up on the hill last night. Also, the troops could be seen moving towards the left. Order read on dress parade this evening congratulating soldiers, etc. by Gen'l Hooker. The papers report that Hooker is again on the other side and Fredericksburg heights are evacuated by the Rebels. We know the latter is not true for one of our men down to Falmouth for soft bread said he could see the Rebels drilling on the other side and we doubt the former.

Wednesday May 13th. Continues very warm.
Thursday May 14th. A little cooler. A shower this afternoon. No news. I ought to have a letter from home.

Friday May 15. In camp. Nothing going on. Only policing.

Saturday May 16. In camp. Nothing going on. Only policing.

Sunday May 17th. Our 1st Sergeant Michael Hackett leaves us today. I believe we lose the best 1st Sergeant in the army having seen ten years service, having seen much of the time in the plains of Utah and the route to California. He was of Irish descent, had a good education before entering the army, was honest and just to a fault if there is any such thing. Agreeable, setting aside his own pleasure for that of others and at the same time stern and unflinching in his duty. May God bless his future life. Though his religious sentiments were not of my own (he was a Catholic) I believe him to be a Christian though not professing to follow up any set religion very close. The Company presented him with a gold watch and chain, the former appropriately inscribed. I could scarcely surpress the tears on parting with him for on many a long and weary march, many a terrible night of suffering and danger, he had acted the part of a brave and good man, never giving up or complaining, always ready to share danger and uncomfortableness with the lowest private.

Inspection at 9 AM. Sergeant Kearny acting Sergeant Major in place of Sergeant Hackett. He is a soldier in every sense of the word. Sergeant Putnam, color bearer.

Monday May 18. Sergeant Hackett went this morning in the 1st train. The company was out all day cleaning up the woods for the headquarters O.P. I remained in camp being for guard tonight. Sergeant Hackett left me a piece of poetry to copy which I will put in my journal as it goes to the heart of a soldier leaving the service.

To My Old Knapsack
Fare the well my good old knapsack,
I must part with thee at last;
Since I took thee as a companion,
We have weathered many a blast;
Through the Palo Alto thunder,
And Resacas field of blood;
Thou hast faced it out old fellow,
And unscathed in battle stood.

When dark might had closed the carnage,
Of that sad though glorious day;
When we bivouacked so weary,
In the fort at Monterey;
Dead and dying all around us,
In that dark and bloody den;
There I found thy worth, old knapsack,
How I owned thy virtues then!

Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo,
Each have tried thy virtues well;
Dark Contreras, Cherubusco,
All thy many virtues tell;
Stern Chepultepec beheld thee,
As it met its overthrow;
And thy march with me was onward,
Till unslung in Mexico.

Though wert ever true old knapsack,
Thou to me wert ever true;
I have carried thee in Summer,
And when Texas northers blew;
When my friends had all deserted;
When my foes looked doubly black,
When fond hopes had almost yielded,
Still I found thee at my back.

How my tears have coursed adown thee,
Pillowed on the desert sand;
While I oped a mother's letter,
Penned with aged, trembling hand;
Or perused a sister's missive,
Breathing oer me childhoods spell;
Calling home the wayward wanderer,
Boots [it] little now to tell.

When with pain my head was throbbing,
And fatigued and worn I lay;
Thinking of the morrows battle,
And of dear ones far away;
Weary, heartsick, sad and footsore,
Dark seemed all the world to me;
Rift of all save thee old knapsack,
Could I fail of loving thee.

True I little thought old fellow,
When I shouldered thee at first;
That the ties which held so firmly,
All were doomed so son to burst;
But alas! thy coat is thread bare,
"Where my head so oft hath lain;"
And the cares once lavished on thee,
Ne'er may be bestowed again.

And when I'm out of service,
Neath the sod shall be laid down;
Where no more the front of battle,
Shall inspire me with its frown;
May some noble hearted comrade,
Kindly to my memory;
Shed an honest tear old knapsack,
As is falling now for thee

Theodore J. Eckerson
Benecia, Cal. June 29, 1860


Tuesday May 19. Am on guard. Our companies are taking down their old "shanties" and are building clean, airy ones.

Wednesday May 20th. Had a letter from Edward yesterday. General Inspection today by General Benham's A. A. Gen'l. It seems to be a day of "Generals." The weather has been somewhat cool for a few days but is quite warm again today. The papers speak of a disturbance in New York created by the Copperheads. I wish we were at home to hang some of the mean, rascally traitors.

Thursday May 21st. Have been policing all this forenoon. Grand Review this afternoon. They are bound to keep us bouncing.

Evening. I am very tired. The Review was a very botched up affair and decidedly a "Volunteer" [affair, crossed out]. The acting Adjutant Genl. brought the battalion Brigade to the rear, open order, presented arms to Genl. Benham who advanced like Toodles and pulled off his cap, or hat, when the Adjutant about faced. [He] brought the Brigade to close order when he ought to have waited until the Genl. had passed or Reviewed us. Then too, such queer orders it seemed as though his whole vital part was going to be emptied out. After passing in Review, keeping stiff with some member of drums playing on their own hook, the Brigadiers halted and the Adjutant gave the order by company into line wheel. Then he gave the command left wheel. Wheel! Whoever heard of such a command.
I hear the Rebels are willing (so their pickets say) to fight us again, all except the 6th Corps which took the heights.

Friday May 22nd. Have been at work all day grading up the parade and getting posts for arbor in front of tents, etc. The dust is beginning to be troublesome. Whirlwinds carrying great volumes or clouds of it into the air. Then it settles on everything. We had drill this morning from 6:30 to 8 o'clock. Very warm. Artificer Caigill on furlough this morning.

Saturday May 23rd. Very warm. No rain for a long time has caused it to be very dusty. Have been at work putting up an arbor in front of the tents. Drill this forenoon quite good, only we marched too slow. Captain Cross confined Artificer Mayo and made him stand on a barrel at the guard house 1« hours for looking at a four-leafed clover after the company had been called to attention. Lieut. McKenzie was officer of the day at dress parade. He gave the command "tear cartridges," then rain! rain! at last got out rain cartridge! He was wounded at the 2nd battle of Bull Run and this is the first time, except perhaps once at Sandy Hook, that he has given off orders to the Battalion.
Sunday May 24th. Very warm. Inspection at 8 AM. A little cloudy this evening. Am on guard at camp.

Monday May 25th. Quite a change in the night. Cool and cloudy. The dust filled the air in the night so one could hardly face the wind. We hear Vicksburg is taken. I hope so. Read Miss Dickinson's speech. Had quite a pleasant talk in the evening with Corporal Thompson of "D" Company.
Tuesday May 26th. Quite cool and cloudy. Drilled this morning at 6 AM, one hour. From 8 until 11 all drilled at practical engineering, getting out material for gabions, fascine horses, fascines and laying out a three gun battery.

Wednesday May 27th. Not very warm today - quite comfortable. Out getting gabion material this forenoon. Found good hickory. Was out this afternoon to the train fil up the boats and wet them with water. I put a barrel inside each (24 boats in all). Saw several of the reserve batteries moving - they said to Bell Plains.
Thursday May 28th. Fair and warm. Was at work on the battery and drilled as usual. I was in the party, in charge of the party, for pulling fascine material - not very good or plenty. [ ] read for only 5 days furlough.

Friday May 29th. Clear and comfortable in the morning. Usual drill from 6 to 7. All, usual "Practical Engineering" from 8 to 11 AM. I was with Corporal Clarke making fascines. We made good ones of pine (Norway). Had stewed beans for dinner. Marston (Artificer) returned from furlough, absent 4 days overtime. Evening - cool and cloudy, considerable breeze blowing.

Saturday May 30th. Usual morning drill and practical engineering. Had charge of gabion party. Made 6 and partly finished four. Material good. High wind and dust flew like snow. Our tents are all full of dust. Corporal Cobb not very well.

Sunday May 31st. Warm and fair. Inspection at 8:30 AM. Evening - am on guard at the train (acting sergeant). The wind, as for the past few days, has risen to a hurricane. Just after noon and the dust, sand and sticks fill the air and cover all the clothing in the tents.

Monday June 1st. Rather cool last night. I slept, however, with nothing over me but a rubber blanket with a shovel for my pillow. Had quite a refreshing sleep. About noon the sand and dust commenced flying as usual. It is extremely disagreeable. Eleven Artificers were made today. Corporal Flood acting drum major. Hear of movement of troops but cannot tell or find out in what direction. There is some appearance, I think, of an evacuation of this [unit] south to Richmond for the present.

Tuesday June 2nd. Pleasant this morning and clear. Skirmish drill from 6 to 7, usual work at the battery. I was in charge of the party to get fascine material. Plenty of pine but not very good. Dust did not fly quite as much tonight. On dress parade; officers of the 15th and 50th rode up in rear of Captain Reese. And when the Battalion presented arms one of the Colonels saluted. Ha! Ha! Ha! Read a letter from Vaola. It sprinkled a little tonight. Heaven that it may raise and refresh our parched bodies, clear the dust from the atmosphere, so long full of it.
Wednesday June 3rd. A little rain this morning, warm but pleasant. Sun shines this afternoon. Morning drill ommitted. Engineering from 8 to 11. I was in charge of a party to get gabion matting - good and plenty beyond headquarters. Report that Rebels were massing in the night. Corporal Flood left on five days furlough. Cloudy this evening.

Thursday June 4th. We had orders at 12 midnight to pack our knapsacks as quick and quietly as possible. At 3 had reville and breakfast then fell in, stacked arms and broke, being in readiness to fall in at any time. Fell in again at sunrise and took arms and knapsacks with orders to be ready to fall in again. No drills. Got some sleep today which is pleasant. Dress parade at usual time.

Friday June 5th. Today has been an eventful one. Drilled. Skirmish drill in the morning and from 8 to 11. Worked on the battery on coming into camp at 12. We got orders to get dinner and fall in [----] under arms with haversacks and one-day rations at 20 minutes of one. Left camp and proceeded immediately to the river at the place where we built the bridge [Franklin Crossing] last time. And found only the Volunteer Engineers there but by 5 o'clock batteries and infantry began to appear and about « past 5 the batteries opened on the Rebel pickets in the rifle pits opposite. And we proceeded with the boats to the bank. When the Rebels opened on us we commenced uploading the boats and shoving them into the river (three boats). The balls began to fly thick when we got down under a slight bank. Men began to fall quite fast [thick, crossed out] about us. And the officers were engaged berating those who were [---] off. The vols had unloaded their compliment of boats and the boatmen were ordered forward. It was then that we met a loss that brought tears into all the eyes of the Battalion and our company especially. Captain [---] Cross while standing in the stern of a pontoon giving orders to shove off received a ball through his head killing him in a few moments. The troops were crossed, charged and took the Reb pickets (2nd Florida, parts of 4th Corps) prisoner. The bridge was commenced immediately and finished except 2 boats. At 5:30 PM open in left for camp. Quite a number have been killed and wounded in the Battalion. I can not tell how many. 11 PM. We have orders to be ready to fall in. Marching orders at any moment. The groans of the wounded from the hospital sound very sad.

[a margin notation written years later: "Action at Franklin Crossing, about a mile below Fredericksburg"

 Saturday June 6th. This morning was turned out and paid our last honors to our departed Captain [Cross]. Marching with reversed arms at a slow pace behind his remains to the embalming surgeons at Falmouth Station. I was detailed with three men as a guard to watch over the body until such time as it was sent away. While there today, six bodies have been embalmed that were killed at the late crossing. One Captain besides our own, he belonged to a New Jersey Regiment and volunteered to cross, his time of service being expired. He was shot in the side. One sergeant of a Vermont Regiment and three privates, one of a New Jersey Regiment, I believe.
Quite a high wind and shower this evening. Private Kehoe of "A" Company died of wounds this morning. Several others will probably not live.

Sunday June 7th. I was on guard, as I mentioned, yesterday. The bodies of five of the Infantry killed at the bridge (one Captain who volunteered to cross after his time was out, one sergeant of a Vermont Regiment and three privates, all to be embalmed). Captain Ryder came down to the station at 7 AM and at quarter of eight went away with the body. I am detailed again for guard at the train. Details have been out all day at the trains and the bridge.

Monday June 8th. Quite cold last night and this morning. Party cam down early to caulk the boats. About half the Battalion out with picks and shovels at the bridge. Quite cold all day. Occasional guns from the river. I think the train will ove in a short time.

Tuesday June 9th. Details to prepare the train to move. Went out this morning. No news.

Wednesday June 10th. Quite warm this morning. Skirmish [drill] from 6 to 7 and from 8 to 11, Engineer drill. I was in charge of a party to get hirdle material - good but some distance from the battery. Evening - the paymaster has come. Company "A" is paid off but we wait until morning. Some artillery and musketry at the bridge. Reports of a hard cavalry fight at Culpepper. Strange, I don't get some letters from home.

Thursday June 11th. Fell in at 6 AM to get paid. Got paid. The common and bad practise of gambling is at its height now. A detail went to the [---] train at noon. Dust flies again like snow. At last got two letter from home.
Friday June 12th. Quite warm this morning. Usual drill from 6 to 7. Practiced Engineering. Turned out from 2 to 5 making gabions. Details from each company [---] four from our company, with Captain White and myself, found good stuff and made 8 good gabions.

Saturday June 13th. Usual skirmish and Engineer drill. Had charge of fascine party, work most finished. Detailed for guard tonight. 3 PM. Orders to pack up for a march in two hours - marched at 5:30, destroying some ammunition, passing burning camps, etc. On towards Ayria Creek Landing at 11:30 PM and bivouacked on guard.

Sunday June 14th. Got up, washed, eat breakfast of hardtack then started up a little towards the landing but soon halted and were allowed 30 minutes to go in swimming. Very refreshing being very dusty from the night's march. Fell in again and proceeded to the landing and embarked at 8:30. All taking a train of boats in tow. Details of half of each company going on board of them. Proceeded up the Potomac to the mouth of [Occoquan?] Creek and disembarked from the "Sylvan Shore," on the pontoons of rafts of two (17 pontoons in all) and moved up to Occoquan Village, five miles from the mouth. 5:30 PM, sitting on the bank. Sketching the bridge from behind and in the shade of a luxurient bush. Have just returned from fixing the road from the bridge over the hill. Cutting the trees and cleaning out the rocks - very steep. The bridge is finished and contains 121 boats and is 300 feet long. This is a beautiful place, Falls Mills. Fell in and marched up the precipice and bivouacked on a kind of terrace overlooking the River Village and bridge. Had a fine swim. Evening. The lights glinting out from the crevices in the rocks above present a romantic scene.

June 15th. H.... [note written later: From this to June 21st I was so exhausted by marching and other active duties that I was unable to keep any record.]

June 21st. At Edward's Ferry on the Potomac. Launched the boats into the river last night and built a bridge opposite here, 65 boats or 1300 feet long. Had finished about one half when we ceased till wind died down (2 o'clock in the morning). Reville at 5 o'clock. Got up. Scarcely knew where I was, almost crazy for want of sleep. Have had but one night in since leaving Falmouth. Turned in again after vol[unteer] call and in about half hour was waked again and marched to the [--] [--] [f--]. Sergt. Ryder in charge of company, returned to get breakfast. I [--] down without [-- -- -- --] again in about two hours we marched over the bridge some four miles out to a mill on Goose Creek to fix a [f--]. Don't know whether the object of the company going out was accomplished or not. [--] [--] [--] [--] did the work of opening the valves or gates of a [--][------------] Many were very kind to us, giving milk, etc.
June 26th (1862) Rained all night. 
Fell in this morning and went down to the Bridge to corduroy [lay planks across to make a roadway]. The road at this end came up about 11 AM. A large drove of cattle which swam the river last night and stopped near our camp was started off over the hills. The herder undertook to saddle one with knapsacks but the result showed in this case that oxen could not be used for pack mules. [to be continued]


The Wartime diary of Newton Timothy Hartshorn

This was copied from the Civil War diary of my great grandfather, Newton Timothy Hartshorn. Following his service on the front he was promoted to the rank of captain and was assigned to The War Department Rifles, an elite guard assigned to guard President Lincoln during his second inaugural. They were encamped behind the White House where they often drilled. President Lincoln remarked one day that "the captain drilling those troops certainly gets the most from them." Newton Timothy Hartshorn would later, while seated in the East Room of the White House, paint a portrait of President Ulysses S. Grant. The rest of his life would be devoted to painting portraits of the great and near great, throughout Europe and the United States.

-- Derick S. Hartshorn
A copy of this diary was given to the Baker Library at Dartmouth College

Derick S. Hartshorn - 2008
Last Modified: