‘The roughest looking sergeant he had ever seen’

 On this day in 1863: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal while on duty at Hill’s Point:

“We were marched out and paraded, and [the inspecting officer] commenced his job. He found right smart of fault, but didn’t find a really good subject until he came to me. He looked me over, and taking Spitfire, gave it a very careful and thorough inspection. Handing it back he gravely informed me that he had inspected the whole army of the Potomac, and never before seen a rifle looking so bad as Spitfire and further complimented me by saying I was about the roughest looking sergeant he had ever seen.

“I nodded assent, venturing the remark that I had been in the artillery detail while here and my rifle had been somewhat neglected, but I had a gun on the Malakoff [a reference to Fort Fisher, designed after the Malakoff Tower in Sebastopol, Russia] that could knock the spots off the sun.

“He allowed that that was insolence and any more of it would subject me to arrest. Imagine the indignation of the chief of artillery on being threatened with arrest by an infantry captain. My first impulse was to call my command, lash him to the muzzle of the gun on the Malakoff and give him rapid transit over the tops of the pines, but better thoughts soon succeeded and I forgave him, thinking that perhaps he was doing as well as he knew how.”


Sight of casualties is no way to go into battle

On this day in 1862: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal while on duty in Kinston:

“Early in the morning the camp was astir. The general ordered that in order to lighten our teams, every man take three days’ rations and 60 rounds of extra ammunition. While this was being dealt out, someone suggested that the teams could be still further lightened by issuing a ration of whiskey. Acting on that suggestion, the liquor was ordered and there was far less complaint about taking it than there was in taking the extra ammunition. Breakfast over, the chaplain offered prayer, after which a hymn was sung; we then filed into the road and commenced the march. The advance was well up the road, and we began to hear firing ahead. As we drew nearer, it became more distinct and there was more of it.

“We hurried on and soon met the stretcher corps bringing out the dead and wounded men. This to me was a sickening sight, to see men with pallid faces, writhing with pain and blood dripping from the stretchers. I know not how it is with others, but there is nothing that so completely takes the pith out of me when going into action as this. I want to get engaged before seeing the dead and wounded; after that I do not mind so much about it.”