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The Diary and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge 1842-1878

Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Phyllis G. Jones (his great-granddaughter)

Copyright © 1993, Phyllis G. Jones, All rights reserved

March 1865


Hd Qrs "I" Co 106" N.Y. Vols. Anglo-French Hotel

Before Petersburg Va   March 1" 1865

My dear Susan

Yours of the 22" ult was duly received and I assure you releived my mind of considerable anxiety.  I had not received a letter from you in so long a time that I began to fear you or some of the family were sick.  this little missive however eases me of the load of trouble and I breath more at my ease.  I beg that you will not wait for letters from me because they may be delayed by the mail.  be assured I send them regularly and that you will in all probability get them sometime.  I am afraid if I were to wait until you answered my letters before I wrote you each time, our correspondence would not be very extensive. 

I am extremely obliged to Janey and yourself for knitting those socks.  I received one pair of them to-day.  they are splen-did socks and do honor to the dear manufacturers.  every time I wear them I shall think of my sweet sisters, whose buisy hands furnished me all this comfort;  thank you both.

I feel very grateful for your kind congratulations to me upon my promotion, but think if hard fighting could earn it, why then it is justly mine.  I have not got as high as I expect to in this war and trust I shall not disgrace my rank.  I am still Judge Advocate and should have had a permanent position on the Division (Genl. Seymours) Staff as such, but that the Genl. already has a full Staff.  I like the Genl. very much and think from his actions and what I hear that the feeling is mutual.

I am most happy to inform you that your kind thoughts that I was again on my way home a wounded hero were intirely unfounded.  It is all very pleasant this visiting home to show honorable scars, but I assure you that those same scars are at first ducedly inconvenient, so please excuse me.

In reading your letter I began to fear that the boy was not coming in for a share of the contents, but the last part of the letter accounts for his silence by stating that he is asleep and consequently in blissful ignorance that a letter is being written to his unworthy uncle.

We are having no fighting to do at present;  such however is not the case with Sherman.  I am almost afraid that he will not go much farther without encountering a formidable foe, and defeat (if he should be defeated) would be annihilation for him, as he is so far from the seacoast;  however Sherman has a good head for mili-tary strategy, and I trust will meet with his usual success,  I often hear the men say that Tecumseh will be joining our left some of these fine mornings.

Deserters continue to come in to our lines in large numbers.  they are very doleful in their accounts of "Rebel feelins".

I must close.  give my sincere thanks to Janey for her kind wishes for my wellfare.  also rememaber me kindly to Perrys people Mother, Joseph, Martha & the boy.  Billings and the neighbors especially uncle Stephens people. and

Believe me ever

Your loving brother


(written along edges of pages)  The most resonable explanation of the Aurora Boreallis I have heard, is that the beautiful phenominon is produced by the reflection of the prismatic rays of the sun by the vast fields of ice which surrounds the pole.

   Your address is correct.  I have not heard from father since the letter you sent me.  I am afraid he is worse.  I have never received an answer from my questions to the fortune teller.  I heard the letter was lost.

DIARY (resuming after the missing pages)

Friday (March) 17"  St. Patricks day.  Very pleasant a grand show in the shape of horseracing.  I went up to court and then ajourned and went over to the races  there was a platform erected on which the generals and ladies took their stand.  there was eight or ten of each present.  Every body seemed in the best of spirits and nothing could make them mad.  several hurdle and flat races took place, and finally a sack race.  the riders in the hurdle races were thrown plentifully    one of them a Col. was thrown over the head of his horse and then the horse fell his whole weight upon him.  the col. was taken off the field in an ambulance.  When we were coming home of course we had to run horses some.  the one Lt Hepburn was riding ran away and threw him hurting him prety badly.  the horse put one of his eyes out when his head struck the ground.  aside from these little accidents, the day passed off very pleasantly.

Saturday 18"  Extremely pleasant.  this is such beautiful weather that I should think our army would be constrained to move.  we could move more comfortably now than in mid summer,  nights are prety cold to be sure, but fires could be made easily.  I commenced the trial of Surgeon Freeman and have done with the prosecution to day.  it is very disagreeable for me to prosecute an officer of my own regiment in this manner.  Still my oath binds me to do my duty.  I learn that the Col. of the 7" N.Y. Vols who was thrown from his horse during the race yesterday is getting over his injury.  Wrote to Annie of S this evening.

Sundy 19"  I still have to chronicle the continuation of pleasant weather.  The Surgeon yesterday told me that he had almost gotten the idea that I was a special counsel for the prosecution.  I wonder if every person who comes before a court for the first time thinks so  I guess.  I wrote to sister this evening,  I hardly know how to praise the boy enough to suit her, so I just am about to commence running him down.

Monday 20"  Another pleasant day, so warm that it makes one prespire by just riding.  Finished the trial of Surg Freeman all but his final defence which is his own statement.  The officers of the 14" N.J. gave an entertainment in the Brigade court room this evening.  had a very fine time dancing and singing   our band officiated;  It is the only string band in the brigade, so has plenty of demands,  As soon as the officers began to get tight I left, as I cannot enjoy that any.  I danced a waltz and shotishe and talked the rest of the time;  there was much enjoyment until the whiskey began to operate.  Spring is now prety well advanced, and the army is ready to move at the first advantage the Rebels give us to do so.

Tuesday 21"  Quite pleasant until night when it commenced raining.  finished the Dr. trial to-day.    If I had possessed any malace against him I could have managed things so that he would have to be cohiered (cashiered?) by the court, but as it is, he will be all right as the court have acquitted him  I wrote to friend Beaugureau this evening.  repaying the pretty girl he spoke of, by sending my love to her.

Wednesday 22"  The wind has blown a perfect gale all day.  the ground is very dry and this wind has raised shuch clouds of dust that it is almost impossible to see two rods.  the dust finds its way into our shanties in quantities large enough to cover every thing in no time.  it is difficult to breathe or hold ones eyes open-  I was over to Div. Hd. Qrs. most of the P.M.  recd a letter from Ex. Lt. Munro this evening also one from 4'.4.  commenced wri-ting to John Clemence but did not finish-  the wind has gone down

Thursday 23"  I really believe that the wind has taken a contract to blow all of these plains into the James river at the shortest possible notice.  Shuch a terrific gale as has been blowing since sunrise, I never saw before.  I have a pretty good idea of a sand storm on the deserts now.  shuch clouds of sand and dust I supposed could not be raised by the wind,  it kept falling on our tents, with very much the same sound as would be produced by a very fine and thick hail.  out doors, great clouds of dust 600 or 800 feet high were driving acrost the heavens.  much difficulty was experienced in breathing at times-.  our tents seemed insufficient to keep the sand out of our shanties.  it sifted through them like snow through a thatch.  every thing was covered.  when I ate I put a newspaper over my head so as to form an additional cover for my victuals.

Friday 24"  Quite cold to-day, not so windy.  grand havock was made with the tents yesterday.  I saw many which had got loose in some part, and were blown into ribbons before they could be secured.  I recd a paper from Uncle John.  I find that I am consulted as a lawyer might be at home.  if an officer wants an application for leave of Absence to be made out.  it's now Capt. you know how that should be, won't you do it for me?  If one wants to resign he is directed to Capt. LaForge.  Now Capt wont you make me a good statement upon which to tender my resignation?  I have just made out one of the last for Lt. Collins.

Saturday 25"  Still cold  We were ordered out in considerable haste this morning  the enemy mad a sudden dash and suceeded in surpris-ing and capturing two of our forts (on the) Appomattox, one divi-sion of our corps was ordered down there, and our brigade being a reserve was put onto the ground they vacated to hold that from any attack, owing to the fact we were not actively engaged during the day,  our forts were retaken by our men, and many of the Rebs captured in them,  this P.M. an advance was ordered on our left,  the enemy were driven back a considerable distance, nearly their intire picket line was captured,  our loss was small in killed and wounded and none captured,  our division lost in all about 150 men most of these were men of the second brigade.  About five P.M. a grand charge was made by the 2" Corps on the left of their line which they succeeded in advancing ¾ of a mile.  during the heavyest part of the firin the President, Genls. Grant and Mead and other General officers also many distinguished foreigners the Genl's wives and the Presidents son- came to the fort we were garrisoning and watched the fight with their glasses for quite a long time.  when they went away the soldiers gave them a harty chear.  Rained some  just at dark  cold enough to be very disagreeable  we built small fires and tried to keep ourselves as comfortable as possible but it was poor comfort at best,  we were relieved and came into camp at 3½ O.C. after spending the worst of the night on the line.  taking the days operations as a whole, it has been a loosing game to the Johnnies.

Sunday 26"  Still quite cold.  I feel prety lame and sore to-day.  Ex Capt. Briggs returned from leave of absence to-day.  he is now Lt. Col.  the Q. M. also returned.  everything has been quiet excep now and then a shot on the picket line.  Our regt all went out on picket to-night with the exception of detailed officers, of which myself is one.  I rode over to see Col. Smith the President of our court.  he was reported killed yesterday but is alive and well.  Maj. Spangler one of the members was wounded.  I wrote to sister and John Clemence this evening.  recd a letter from sister & one from Sam Clemence this evening.

LETTER (very faint) Hd. Qrs. I Co. 106 N.Y. Vols. 

        Anglo-French Hotel   Before Petersburg Va.  March 26" 1865

My dear Sister

I received your kind letter of the 14" not about ten minutes ago and hasten to reply.  You will see by my memorandum that our long continued quiet has been disturbsed at last.  I judge that the disturbers of our peace have regretted it  that they did so however for their loss has been much greater than ours and ................ they are our enemies and ..... the most discontented .............. I ever heard of.

The mail man is coming now and I have only time to write a word or two and depend on the .................... I hardly expect to ............................................. th.. boy would be useless yet I beg of you ............. precious as if he was gold and more so ............................ face looking so bright as when I come home  Tell Joseph that I am sorry to be obliged ...... his invitation to the sugar lick  Give Janie  mother Perry People and the rest my kindest regards and believe me ever your loving brother                             Bijou

       In haste I should judge        Capt. &c.

(added in darker ink)  Ever thine, no storms which may come acrost our paths in after life, can sever the bonds of love which now bind our hearts.                        Lafy

Monday. March 27" 1865.  Day quite warm, our whole regiment came off picket this evening about 10 O.C.  the men were prety tired cold and sleepy.  The rebs attacked the picket of the 2" Div. driving them back a considerable distance.  that division advanced their line too far from the breastworks yesterday.  Dr. Carpenter received his commission as Surgeon of the 43" N.Y. Vols.  he says that he does not care whether he can get mustered or not.

Tuesday 28.  Very pleasant, another move is on foot.  part of the army of the James has came to this side of the river, and are moving up to the left  I understand that Sheridan is to take an expedition off to the left for some purpose.  he may try to move on Weldon or strike the South Side R.R.  I think we shall move to-morrow.

Wednesday 29".  We were ordered to move at 8 this A.M.  broke camp and moved up to the ground occupied by the 2" Corp's, the expedition has started to the left.  we were deployed on the breastwork until 4 P.M. and then assembled,  got our supper.  and were then marched out on the picket line,  our whole regiment went on.  I had charge of the regiment.  deployed them on the picket line and then went up to the reserve.

Thursday 30.  On picket all day  rained prety hard all last night and to-day:  there has been some very hard fighting on the left   Sheridan is evidently stirring the rebs up.  Orders came that we were not to be relieved to night as a charge on the enemies lines was to be made.  Maj Paine came out to relieve the officer of the day.  A little after dark I went through the whole picket line with him, to show him where the line was,  we had to wade two prety bad swamps.  I had already been three times over the line and was very tired,  I tried to get a little sleep when I got back to the reserve post so that I should feel a little more like fighting, but before I got to sleep to reb. Deserters were brought in,  they said that they had a strong picket but the men in the breastworks were deployed three paces apart.  I made up my mind that if we were not all killed by grape and cannister we could carry the works easily,  after disposing of these I again laid down but before I got to sleep two more deserters were brought in,  they said that a brigade of rebes had just arrived at the works,  this made things more doubtful.  just after these were disposed of an order came that we should not charge the works.  half an hour after, this was countermanded  we were to charge about 2 oclock  a final order came not to charge so we are not in a way to cover ourselves with glory after all.

Friday 31".  A very fair day but rained all night and until 9 A.M.  after two nights awake I felt very tired and sleepy, but before we could get a chance to get breakfast the brigade was ordered out again   we marched to the top of a hill so as to show ourselves to the rebs-  & remained there until an hour before sundown and then came back and were assigned to the camp previously occupied by the 4" N.Y.H.A.   A very good camp   I only hope we may be allowed to keep it all night so as to get our much needed rest.  Heavy firing has been heard at intervals all day three or four miles to our left.

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