26 October 1862: “Most all of us came to the conclusion that North Carolina was a tough place, barren and desolate, and hardly worth the cost of fighting for it.”

Item description: Portions of Leaves from a Diary Written While Serving in Co. E, 44 Mass., Dep’t of No. Carolina, an account, written by John Jasper Wyeth of Co. E, of the experiences of the 44th Masachusetts Infantry Regiment. The book, which was published in 1878, chronicles the regiment’s departure from Massachusetts for North Carolina, including a letter written on 26 October 1862 as the ships arrived at their destination: New Bern, N.C.

[Click here for the catalog record of this volume, which has a link to the fully digitized online version of the book.]

Item citation: From, “Leaves from a diary written while serving in Co. E, 44 Mass., Dep’t of No. Carolina, from September, 1862, to June, 1863.” by John Jasper Wyeth, Boston, L. F. Lawrence & Co., 1878. Catalog Number: C970.742 W97, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Arrival at New Berne.

October 26. — About nine this morning we saw our first of Rebeldom, and after taking a pilot, and passing several ugly-looking rips and bars, leaving Fort Macon on our left, we disembarked from the steamer to the wharf, which had a railroad depot on the farther end of it. The place is called Morehead City. But if this is a city, what can the towns and villages be? We stayed in this shed or depot awhile, and were then ordered on the train of open cars. Here we waited for two mortally long hours in a pelting rain, water on each side of us, water over us, and gradually, but persistently, water all through our clothes, and not a drop of anything inside of us.

Notwithstanding the rain storm was severe, we had considerable to interest us after we started, which was between two and three o’clock. There had been fighting along the line of the road, a year previous, and every few miles we passed picket-posts, occupied by Mass. regiments. We cheered them and they responded. Once, where we stopped to wood-up, we saw a settlement of negroes, and some of the boys bought or hooked their first sweet potatoes here. Others of us contented ourselves with trying to keep our pipes lighted, our tobacco dry, and the cinders out of our eyes. Most all of us came to the conclusion that North Carolina was a tough place, barren and desolate, and hardly worth the cost of fighting for it.

We arrived at New Berne about six o’clock, wet through, hungry, tired, and ready for our feather beds, but found our hotel for that night was not supplied with any such articles of furniture.

Our company, with some others, was quartered in a big barn of a building built of green boards, which had shrunk both side and end ways, and for beds we had the floor, with a few bundles of hay scattered around. We could not expect much of a supper, but we managed some way, and then turned in, wet as we were. Soon after, we were called up and informed that coffee and beef, with compliments, from the Mass. 24th Reg’t, were awaiting. We accepted, with thanks, and made quite a supper. Then we turned in again, — some on bundles of hay, others on the floor. Those on the hay had a hard time of it, as the bundles were shorter than we were, and we had a tendency also to roll off. So after several ineffectual attempts, many gave it up and started from the building to find better quarters. Finally, we found some wood, made a rousing fire in an old sugar boiler, and stood around it in the rain, trying to keep warm, if not dry.


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