Balloon Ascension to Spy

August, 1861

1 Another warm day, but a little rainy toward night. Went into the fort again today.

2 A very warm day. Stood guard today. It was very fatiguing in the hot sun. And instead of being relieved so as to only stand 8 hrs. I had to stand about 10 hours.

3 Another warm day. Sent a letter to my brother Thomas in Kentucky and one to the Belvidere Intelligencer, N.J. Saw La Mountain ascend in his balloon and was towed by a steamer near Sewall's point so that he could examine that point. He ascended about 1000 ft. This was the first time a balloon was used in a war to spy on the enemy. John LaMountain was the balloon pilot. Sewells Point is across the channel near Norfolk and under Confederate control. Today, Sewells Point is the home of the Norfolk Naval Station, the largest navy base in the World.

4 It still continues very hot. Had an inspection of arms and acoutrements this morning. Went to the Seminary to take dinner and supper to some men on guard. Dress parade in the evening.

5 Another very warm day. Cool nights and evenings. At ten o'clock the regiment mustered on the parade ground to answer to the pay roll. The paymaster was present. The articles of war were read to us last night and this evening.

6 Nothing unusual occurred today. Very warm.

7 Very pleasant today. I and another took the job of cooking for the company. I would not think of doing it but in this regiment there is no chance for a man to get promoted unless he lies, swears, cheats or steals. Then again I can cook quite well, and food well cooked is very necessary for soldiers.

8 Another fine day. Last night all hands were turned out, for the secessionists came into Hampton and set fire to all the houses. All were burned to the ground. An Episcopal, two Methodist, and one Baptist. They fired on the Dutch picket but killed no one. But we think the Dutch shot some. The "Dutch" may have been a "Pennsylvania Dutch" regiment. The Confederates burned down the town of Hampton. While this was of little value from a military standpoint, they didn't want the Federals and the escaped slaves to have use of the homes and other buildings.

9 Another fine day. 200 of our men went out on picket today. I had to boil meat for them last night. A steamer from Sewell's point came out with a flag of truce. The Adriatic went to meet her.

10 Another fine day. A fine thunder shower this afternoon. The balloon went up yesterday.

11 A very warm day. Nothing unusual occurred today. Another balloon ascension.

12 A pleasant but hot day. Nothing unusual occurred.

13 It rained and blowed hard this evening. The men began to growl at us about cooking, so I and my assistant stopped right off. No man can possibly please them. It is the worst company in the Union Coast Guard, I believe.

14 It rained most all night. It is very cool today.

15 Another pleasant day but a little cloudy. Nothing unusual occurred today.

16 Quite rainy today. 20 of our Co. and 20 of Co D went to Hampton to guard the 20 of the Mass. men in repairing the telegraph wires to Newport News. It rained a little all day. We had to humbug around some. We marched to the fort and waited awhile; then went to Hampton. Our Captain's mistake. As it rained we came back in the afternoon.

17 Very rainy in the afternoon. Yesterday we stopped at a widow woman's house. She gave us a dinner of boiled corn, bacon, corn bread, and potatoes. It went first rate, although we had provision with. Went to the fort and got a letter from Henry C. Davis, Mansfield, N. J. enclosing $5.00.

18 Another pleasant and hot day. Stood guard. Gen. Wool arrived at the fort yesterday. General John Wool (Age 76) took command of operations in the Fort Monroe area. He served with distinction in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and had a much stronger military background than General Butler.

19 It rained quite hard all day. Nothing unusual occurred today.

20 Another rainy day. Matters the same as usual.

21 A pleasant day but quite cool. Went and wrote some letters. Was some distance from the camp and getting deeply engaged. The hour for drill passed by. When I went in I was put into the guard house. It was very unfair, I think, as I never gave any cause of offence in that way or any other, while some others have repeatedly missed the drill and done worse things and they were let pass.

22 Another pleasant day. Was set to work with some others, but we did but very little although we had a guard.

23 Diary entry combined with the 24th.

24 A fine day. Our company was out on picket guard today. So by being put in the guard house I escaped that duty. Gen. Wool reviewed our regiment and the 20th (German Turners). I procured a piece of the bell of the Episcopal church of Hampton. It was about 200 years old, presented by Queen Elizabeth. The church was next to the oldest in America. The oldest is at Jamestown, Va. It stood through two wars. It is a great shame for the rebels to burn it. Was on guard today. This is St. Johns Episcopal Church. It was rebuilt on this spot and remains in existence today. It was established in 1610 and claims to be the oldest Anglican/Episcopalian parish in continuous existence in America.

25 Another very pleasant day. Would have been glad if I could have heard some preaching. Wrote a letter to my brother Thomas in Kentucky. Nothing unusual occurred today. Only there are preparations going on for an expedition to some place.

26 I went on picket guard today with the company. My post was under a nice shady tree. Very comfortable. I and another man went outside the lines to a man's house and got a few apples. He gave them to us.

27 Another pleasant day. A little cloudy and appearance of rain, but no rain. Had to stand guard last night every two hours so that I did not get more than two hours sleep. Felt very unwell last night and all day today.

28 Our company went out on picket again today, but as I was unwell I did not go. Set for my photograph today in full uniform with my musket. Unfortunately, the family does not have a photo of him in a Civil War uniform.

29 A little rainy today. Was on guard today at the bridge. My eyes are getting sore. Nothing unusual occurred today. My post was on the bridge leading to the fort.

30 Very warm today. A little shower during the day. Fished a little but had little luck. A false alarm about one o'clock.

31 Another fine day. Was on home guard again. Felt very unwell today so I had a supernumerary put on at night and got a good nights sleep. He means a substitute in his place.