Arrival at Fort Monroe

May, 1861

28 Another pleasant day. Had no chance to get out. About four o'clock went on board the U. S. Steamer transport Coatzatcoalcos for fort Monroe. The Steamer was a good deal crowded. I made out to get a mattress on the floor.

29 Got under way this morning. Very pleasant all day. A heavy swell on. Felt a very little sea sick. After we were about 25 miles out met a U. States Steamer with a prize in tow. The men gave three hearty cheers.

30 Another pleasant day. All quiet last night. Sea smooth. Arrived off Fort Monroe, Point Comfort, Va. about six o'clock. About 8 o'clock another steamer (screw) came in with a prize schooner from the Southward very deeply loaded, apparently loaded with wood, but very deep. I think she must have had something in the hold. About ten o'clock the Quaker City Steamer came in with another prize schooner. Fort Monroe was occupied by Union troops and was very well fortified. Even though it was in Virginia, it stayed under control of Federal forces throughout the war.

31 A very pleasant day. About noon left the ship for our encampment. Our Colonel told us that we were accepted. Went out about a mile inside Col. Duryee's picket guard. We had no canvass tents but made tents of rails covered with brush. I with a Lieutenant and 7 men went in search of water about dark. We passed all of Col. Allen's sentries and were showed by them through his camp. When we got to the well, we found a sentry with a countersign. We had none, and were obliged to wait till the sergeant of the relief guard came along: then we were all marched to the guard house and kept all night.

June, 1861

1 In the morning we were taken before the Colonel (Allen). He would not listen to our story but ordered us to the fort on fatigue duty without breakfast, and supper too, for we had not taken any the night before. But as it pleased Gen. B. to let our lieutenant speak and explain how we were after water, he ordered us to the guard house!

2 Pleasant yesterday. Also most of today. A shower toward night.

3 Quite showery today. We are not far from the enemy. We have no arms as yet or uniforms. We have some fears that matters are not right about our acceptance. Toward night the Col. (Bartlett) came up to the camp. Then our captains called us up and told us all about how deceived we were. The Col. wanted to smooth the matter over with promises, but we would hear nothing from him. He had told us too many lies. The book Defender of the Chesapeake: The Story of Fort Monroe , by Weinert and Arthur, describes the disorganized beginning of the brigade. "On the morning of May 30 a steamer arrived at Old Point Comfort carrying the Naval Brigade. This strange aggregation had been recruited in New York City. Colonel Washington A. Bartlett, a former navy officer, had formed this unit mostly from sailors with the intention of providing them with light draft gunboats mounted with cannon, the brigade to serve afloat or ashore. They had refused to be mustered into State service and for reasons which are not too clear, the President ordered the unit to report to General Butler. The Naval Brigade arrived without arms, except for two rifled guns and a quantity of James and Sawyer projectiles. General Butler did not know what to do with the troops, but he had an excellent use for the guns." Eventually, they were mustered into service as the Union Coast Guards. In January, they were re-designated as the 99th New York Infantry Regiment.

4 Stood guard last night between 10 & 12 at the officers tent. Monday night was on guard again out at the edge of some woods. I was in a dangerous place. Stood 2 hours between 10 & 12. Had an old musket and bayonet but not loaded. There were advance picket guards of other companys outside, so that we would know of the enemy's advance and give warning, and retreat behind the other regiments. While Fort Monroe was well fortified, Goodwin was camped outside the Fort and the Confederates were only a few miles away.

5 Yesterday it was warm but rainy: went down to the fort to help unload a transport ship so that Gen. Butler could legally provide quarters and rations for us. At night as we had not enough tents I with others slept under a wagon with boards set up against one end. Many of the men had to sleep on the damp ground. Union General Benjamin Butler had responsibility for the occupation of eastern shore locations.

6 Yesterday cloudy. I did not do much as I was so lame from Tuesday's work carrying boards. I got acquainted with a man who works in the fort, and now I stay about his house (Mr. Oldfield). I slept on the floor in his house last night. The Brigade had been grossly deceived.

7 Quite cloudy again today. We are waiting anxiously to be recognized by the government. The men are very anxious to have their uniforms and if they had them we would be quite well contented. Staid in my tent this night.

8 Still quite cloudy and cool. No rain. Nights very cool. The men have a fine time getting clams, oysters, and bathing. I have not eaten any as I am afraid that I shall be made sick. Today I have an attack of the diarrhea. Have easy times. Gen. Butler has permission to do as he pleases with us. He has given us in charge of Col. Wardrup of Mass. who has surrounded our camp with sentries so as to keep us from doing mischief. Colonel David Wardrup later took command of the Brigade.

9 A warm and pleasant day. It does not appear much like Sunday. I don't get outside very often: only when I go to burn and grind coffee or go after water. Most of the men are very much afraid of doing their duty or a little extra work. Ever since I have been here I have done more than my share: yet I rather do it than grumble.

10 Last night 120 of the Brigade manned 6 boats and carried troops across Hampton Crk. The enemy had entrenched themselves about 10 miles from the fort in order to run off niggers & white men. They had masked batteries and ditches outside them. Therefore our troops failed for want of ammunition and field pieces. The Brigade did not get back until about midnight.

11 Another warm day. Went to the fort and was inspected yesterday. Had to strip naked. The examination was very slight. The rest of the company and Brigade went inside to be inspected today. Feel quite sick so I am cooking for them.

12 A very warm day. The sun is very hot, yet the heat is alleviated by a cool breeze making the tents quite comfortable when the bottoms are raised. We have very poor brackish water to drink; and as it is near an old gas establishment, the water tastes of the coal gas which makes it very disagreeable. But thirsty men will drink most anything in the shape of water.

13 Another very warm and pleasant day. Nothing unusual occurred. The news of our defeat at Big Bethel pleased the rebels highly. They magnified our loss very hugely. We, the federal troops, had only about 30 killed. It was only through the incompetence of the General (Pierce) that it was a defeat. The first land battle of the war occurred at Big Bethel, Virginia, on June 10, 1861. It was only 8 miles away from Hampton but Goodwin's regiment was not involved in the battle. The Union forces, led by E. W. Pierce, were forced to withdraw in disorder although casualties were relatively light.

14 Very warm. Cool breeze. Our company was marched into the fort to be sworn in. I with 10 others took the oath to serve three years unless sooner discharged. The rest wished to wait to hear Gen. Butler's report. In the afternoon he rode into the camp and made the necessary and satisfactory explanations. At night stripped, bathed, and put on a fatigue dress uniform. Blue flannel shirt and duck pants.

15 Another pleasant day. Last night was put into Company F and went into a new camp. Took our tent and mess traps, but had to leave our old blankets as they were so lousy. Some had to sleep on the floor without any blankets. But my India rubber blanket was enough. Co. F changed us into Co. A for some of their own men. So we had to move our tent again.

16 Another very warm day. Like my new tent. Camp and mess first rate. Quite a heavy wind and shower about five o'clock with thunder and lightning. Another heavy squall about 12 o'clock. Two boats' crews (20 men each) at two o'clock in the night went to Hampton to ferry over two company of Zouaves. They were towed up there and back by a screw propeller: returned about daylight, bringing about $1000 worth of books from an Academy. This is a reference here and in the June 18 entry to the Zouave troops who wore flashy uniforms patterned after the Zouaves of the French Colonial Army. A screw propeller is a ship with a steam engine and propeller to drive the ship.

17 This morning they were taken to a Seminary near by and put in charge of our troops. Our men have made frequent trips by squads into the country getting many useful articles. Quite cool and a little rainy all day. Some more boats crews out tonight, 6 or 7 of them. Felt quite sick tonight. The Seminary refers to the Chesapeake Female Seminary for young women that later was converted to a hospital.

18 Quite nice and cool today. Had an election for officers. Changed back into Co. D yesterday. Felt better today. Three companies of the National Zouaves came to the hospital to take away and bury one of their privates. He was one of a picket guard and was shot by another on last Sunday morning. The other guard saw him and challenged him three times, but receiving no answer shot him. He lived a short time.

19 Major Winthrop was wounded at the battle of Big Bethel on the 10th inst. His remains were escorted to the boat for Baltimore by about 200 regulars. The brass band playing a solemn tune. Very warm today. The Minesota, Harriet Lane, and Jamestown are in Hampton Roads & Southern privateer was taken the other day. These are Union ships. Hampton Roads is the harbor between Hampton and Norfolk. Major Theodore Winthrop was the highest-ranking Union officer killed at Big Bethel. He was credited with leading his troops with great courage.

20 Another very warm and pleasant day. Six boats manned by 120 men of the brigade went to Hampton today and came back toward night. I have been quite unwell all day. Have no appetite. Sent a letter to my brother Charles in New York and one to G. I. Palmer of Gardiner, asking them to lend me a little money. Now I will soon be able to tell whether they care anything for me. A little money would come very acceptable just now.

21 Feel no better today. Still very warm. Went to the hospital. Dr. gave me some Castor Oil and Calomel. The hospital accommodations for the Brigade are very poor: no one to wait upon us: no chance to have our clothes washed. Some days salt fat-pork and beef served out to the sick men.

22 Still very warm, but a nice cool breeze. Feel a little better today. For breakfast we have soft bread and coffee with a little cold salt meat, sometimes fried ham. Today for dinner we had vegetable soup (preserved), fresh beef (boiled), bread and rice. Dinner today good enough. For supper soft bread and butter: a little cold fresh meat and tea.

23 A shower and heavy wind last night. A very pleasant day. Don't feel so well today. A great many mariners from the man of war ships are ashore today. They managed to find some whiskey somewhere and some of them got a little drunk. It does not appear much like Sunday. Sent a letter to Dr. Paul desiring to borrow a little money. I can now prove his philanthropy.

24 Quite cool today which makes it very pleasant. Went into the fort and put my name to another descriptive roll. Took some Rhubarb and calomel as I did not feel so well today. Eat bread and coffee for breakfast. Although nice ham and potatoes were served up, but I could not eat them. Eat no dinner.

25 A very pleasant day. Felt quite well. Good appetite. Had good meals. Slept in camp tonight rather than to change into the new ward. Nothing unusual occurred today.

26 Another fine day. Went back to the hospital and got my discharge and a good breakfast. Re'd two dollars from my brother Charles with a promise of more. A very heavy thunder shower with a heavy wind after dark.

27 Nothing unusual occurred today. I cooked for the mess. Got a letter from Dr. J. Marshall and from Belvidere with five dollars in it. Helped pull some ambulances from the wharf to the fort. Drilled a little while today.

28 Nothing unusual occurred today. Rain toward night.

29 Quite rainy this morning. Put all the fires out. Our messes were arranged differently today so I cooked again as I was first on the list. Got a little damp.

30 Quite cloudy and a little rain. Struck our tents and put them and our luggage on board of boats to be taken to Hampton for us. After breakfast marched into the Fort and after waiting about four hours received a Harper's Ferry musket apiece. But no ammunition. Then marched to Hampton. Got a little wet. Yet it was quite wet. This was the musket manufactured at the Harpers Ferry arsenal. This is where John Brown was captured after his famous raid in 1859.

July, 1861

1 Another warm day but cloudy. A little rain last night but we got along quite comfortable. The 3rd Mass. volunteers came up today and took quarters in the empty houses Hampton contained before the war. 1800 people. Now all are gone but a very few people and niggers. The town of Hampton, located near Fort Monroe, had been previously evacuated.

2 Very pleasant today. Was in Hampton yesterday, and through a part of the town. It looked dreary and desolate. Today our company stood guard and did boat service. A double duty. A wrong calculation somewhere. The Captain got tight. So did the 2nd Sergeant and made a row. Was put in the guard house. I was sentry part of the time. He was drunk and ugly. It took four or five to put and keep him in the guard house.

3 This afternoon struck tents and crossed over to Hampton. We first took up quarters with Company C. Then moved into the next house and took supper. In the evening we got a 1000 round of cartridge and moved near the outer edge of town into a fine, large two story white house. Plenty of wood and good chances to cook. A flag staff was also raised at night.

4 A very lovely day. Had a good nights rest. The day was ushered in by the ringing of the bells, firing of cannon, etc. The companies and Regiments had dress parades. There are now about 4000 troops in town. For dinner today we had string beans, new potatoes, cabbage, beets and corn with salt beef. The captain and 1st Lieut. drunk again. They with other 1 had a regular blow out. Whiskey here is cheap. Three or four companies were out scouting last night.

5 Another pleasant day. All the regiments in the vicinity of this place and the Fort were reviewed by C. L. Cameron, Sec. Of War, and Gen. Butler with other Hon. Gentlemen. Ten regiments. Our company went out scouting with others. I did not go as I am unwell. Simon Cameron served as Secretary of War until January, 1862.

6 A little cloudy today and a little rain. Am much pleased with our new quarters. Four rebel officers came into the picket guard yesterday afternoon with a flag of truce. I did not ascertain their business. Our arms were loaded Wednesday night and tonight we discharged them.

7 A very heavy rain and thunder this morning. Nothing unusual occurred today. A good deal of bustle in the camp. Rec'd a letter from A. C. Howell Friday and one today.

8 A very lovely day: very hot. At daylight went and got ½ barrel of new potatoes. Walked to the fort and got a box from A. C. Howell, Vienna, N. J., containing crackers, lineament, etc.

9 Another warm day. A little cooler than yesterday. Nothing unusual occurred today.

10 Another very lovely day. Quite warm. Nothing unusual occurred today.

11 Very pleasant day. Sent a long letter to my sister, H. L. Stinson, Hallowell, Me. Got my bayonet, scabbard, cartridge, & cap box. Went on drill tonight- -the first time for more than a week. A slight shower. The colored persons are engaged in digging entrenchments. About 60 men.

12 Nothing unusual occurred today. Matters go on as usual.

13 Very fine weather. Colored men keep coming into camp and are set to work on the entrenchments. General Butler decided that escaped slaves were "contraband of war." Many slaves, hearing of this ruling, escaped and arrived here to help the Union.

14 Very fine weather. No divine services that I know of. It did not appear much like Sunday. The officers had a grand dinner. Turkey, pigs, chickens, etc. The brass band of the German Turners (encamped the other side of the creek) were there and discoursed fine music. The German Turners were the 20th New York Infantry Regiment.

15 Matters and affairs going as usual. Quite warm today.

16 A little cloudy with a little rain in the afternoon and night. The company took up their quarters in the old church (Episcopal ) to be on the look out. The afternoon the Capt & 6 men went out five miles to Gen. Lee's Brother's house. Brought in a nigger whose wife lives near our house- -and a lot of ham and bacon. Gen. Lee is in the rebel army. This is General Robert E. Lee. At this time, General Lee did not have a major command position in the Confederate Army.

17 Another pleasant day. Went to the fort and back. C. & D. Company went scouting last night within 1 mile of Big Bethel. Brought in sheep, fowl, and cattle. Had an alarm today. Maj. Whittimore had sent a party outside the picket to cover the woods. The picket or officer of the day did not know it, so about noon we all turned out and went out to see. We were ready for a fight.

18 Nothing unusual occurred today. A fine day. Our company and the rest of the Brigade were on picket guard today.

19 The diary entry was combined with the 20th.

20 It rained during the night and this morning. Warm and pleasant in the afternoon. Some of the officers of the Brigade (6 men) went out scouting last night. Got fired on. Three men killed and wounded. Captain Jenkens reported wounded and taken prisoner. About 11 o'clock two companies, A & B, went after the dead bodies. Found one. Major Rollins. He was not of the Brigade. Tracks of a carriage were seen where the rebels had taken one of the dead away. Two men of Co A were left behind as the company were ordered to look about in the woods for the other body. 8 men were sent after them, but Maj. Whittimore would not allow of further such although they were heard to give the signal. The two men came back last night. They went away with the Mass. S companies.

21 Yesterday quite rainy. Ten of each company were detailed to attend the funeral of the man shot by the rebels on Friday. I was one of the number. Coffin shrouded in the flag. The German Turners (N. Y. 20th) headed the escort. Arms reversed. Vollies fired, etc. Today inspection of arms in the morning: dress parade in the eve.

22 A fine day. Attended a prayer meeting led by one of our Brigade. Prayers and remarks by himself, myself, another soldier, and a colored man. Got a good many hard shake of the hand by the colored brothers. Quite pleasant today. Drill from 5 ½ o'clock to 7 ½ o'clock. In the eve from 6 ½ till sunset. Rainy in the eve.

23 Quite rainy all night and this morn. Drill from 8 till 10. In the eve from 5 ½ till sunset. The men got a lot of corn. Gen. Butler was in town today.

24 Diary entry combined with the 25th.

25 At eleven o'clock our company and company F started on an expedition to Back River. We took four large boats with one rifled cannon. Five launches and 100 men from the navy accompanied us with 5/2 lb. Howitzers. We were towed by the propellers Fanny & Adriatic. We also had 2 co's of the 10 Reg. N. Y. V. M. At the mouth of Back River a body of men fired on us but the gun of the Fanny dispersed them. We arrived there about five oclock. We rowed about till two o'clock in the morning; burnt about ten schooners and sloops. Took one schooner in tow. Near the shore we were fired on but the balls fell short. We arrived at the fort about day light. The night was cold and we suffered from cold as we had no blankets and very little to eat. At six o'clock we were taken up to Hampton in the steamer Fanny which took us to the fort yesterday. Back River flows into the York River. It is a couple of miles north of Fort Monroe.

26 Yesterday we were ordered to be ready to march at ten o'clock. But we remained ready all day. Got but little sleep. Another warm day. At noon I and 10 others had to go out a mile on picket duty. Nothing unusual occurred, although at nine o'clock all the picket was called in near to the town as it was rumored that an attack would be made. We staid inside the breastwork till one o'clock. Then we went out again. And extended the picket.

27 Diary entry combined with the 28th.

28 Another warm day. The picket guard got to the Fort about ten o'clock. I made out to find a few cakes of hard bread in our quarters before I left Hampton. When the town was evacuated last night, all the stores that were there were broke open and robbed or the property destroyed by our own soldiers, property of our own citizens. A shameful thing. When I got to the fort I went to the bakery and a friend gave me a loaf of warm bread. We then went to Camp at Camp Hamilton near the Chespeak Seminary and I had to cook, after coming off guard. We had no tents till Lieut. Miller of Dureyee's Reg., our drill master, complained to Gen. Butler. He came over and censured the Maj. (Whittimore) and placed Capt. Holliday in command & Liet. Noyes, Quartermaster, in place of J. O. Whittimore. We got our tents fixed about dark. Camp Hamilton was located between Fort Monroe and Hampton. "Dureyee Reg." is the 5th New York Infantry Regiment, a Zouave unit. Chespeak Seminary is the former school for young women referred to in his diary entry on June 17.

29 Yesterday another warm day. I had to go on guard again. 2 hrs on and six off. Got a little sleep in the night on the ground in the open air. Re'd. 5 dollars from H. C. Davis of Rockfort, N. J. Went into the fort. Saw two acquaintances from Hackettstown.

30 Another warm day. Had to move our tents three times. Nothing unusual going on today. Had a short company drill.

31 Today we had to move our tents to another ground a short distance off. It was night before we got settled. Our officers know but very little about their duty. We get humbugged more than any other regiment.