Read American Civil War diary excerpts from Corporal Regan's very rare continuous diary, of his three year enlistment with the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Civil War Diary
April 15, 1861 - September 26, 1861
Apr. 15, 1861 - Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States called on the Loyal States to furnish 75,000 three months men to put down the rebellion. Recruiting offices are open in nearly every ward of the city of Boston, and the greatest excitement prevails everywhere. Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumpter to the rebels today after a two days bombardment from the rebel batteries in Charleston harbour, under Beauregard.
Apr. 20 - I enlisted in Company “E”, of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers. Captain M. H. Macnamara, which Company is to be mustered into service shortly, I am told.
The 6th Regiment M.V.M. which left here for Washington a few days ago, was attacked by a mob of roughs in Baltimore yesterday. The 6th lost three men killed, and seven wounded. The mob lost nine killed, and the number of wounded cannot be ascertained. Great excitement in Boston.
May 3 - The President has issued a proclamation for 42,034 men to serve three years if not sooner discharged and our regiment has signed the enlistment roll under the new call.
May 20 - Our regiment is in camp on Long Island, Boston Harbour, together with another regiment, (the 14th) both regiments are composed almost wholly of Irishmen and are known as the “Irish Brigade.” The 11th regiment and the 12th are in Fort Warren, the 2nd is in Fort Winthrop, and the 1st is in camp near Somerville; and all are hard at work learning to be soldiers, and preparing themselves for active service in the field. Our number is changed from the 13th to the 9th, and the 14th regiment is disbanded as the State authorities say that there are more volunteers than there are any need of. There are persons who don’t think so.
Jun. 1 - War has really began in the South. News of battles and skirmishes is arriving daily and the excitement is hourly increasing. We too begin to feel that we are soldiers. We have four drills and a dress parade every day, we have guard and picket duty, and fatigue parties are detailed every morning. We are getting a knowledge of every duty which soldiers are required to perform, except fighting, and no doupt we shall soon be initiated into the mysteries of that part of the work.
Civil War Diary
Jun. 11, 1861 - Today we were mustered into the United States service by an officer of the regular Army.
The first regiment has left for the war, the second, eleventh, and twelfth regiments are mustered in, and all are expecting orders to leave for the South shortly.
Jun. 18 - We were furnished with the United States uniform and equipments today, and had a battalion drill in heavy marching order.
Jun. 24 - Colonel Cass took the regiment to Boston and we had a review and dress parade on the common, and eat a dinner furnished by the city, and received the State color from the governor, John A. Andrew, at the State House, after which we returned to camp on the steamer “Nelly Baker.”
Jun. 25 - The regiment left Boston for Washington on board the steamers Ben Deford, Pembroke, and Clinton.
Civil War Diary
Jun. 28, 1861 - Anchored at Fortress Monroe in Virginia early in the morning where we remained untill late in the afternoon, and started again for Washington. About dark our Captain spoke the Steamer Quaker City, one of the government cruisers, and was informed that he might expect trouble from the rebel batteries on the Potomac.
Anchored soon after leaving the Quaker City and lost Owen Garland, a man belonging to my company, overboard.
Jun. 29 - Weighed anchor early in the morning and moved up the river. Passed several rebel batteries on the Virginia side of the river but they gave us no trouble. Shots were fired towards the shore from the boats but the rebels did not reply to them. We landed at the Arsenal in Washington about sunset.
Jun. 30 - We slept on the grass last night without tents or any other covering except our blankets, this the boys look upon as the first nights experience of a soldier’s life.
The President and the secretary of War, Mr. Cameron visited the regiment this morning, the President spoke to many of the officers and men, and I had the honour of shaking hands with “Honest Old Abe.”
In the afternoon we marched to a place called Wool Hill about four miles from the city, and went into camp. It rained during the march out and we were well soaked before we got our tents pitched.
Civil War Diary
Jul. 2, 1861 - We have christened our new camp “Camp Cass” in honour of our Colonel. There are about twenty regiments in our immediate neighbourhood, some of them are from New England, but the majority of them are from New York State.
Jul. 3 - James Malcolm and Edward Collins, two men belonging to our company were wounded by a rifle bullet fired from the woods in rear of the camp, while on company drill yesterday.
Jul. 4 - There is no celebration of the day here. How differently the day is observed in Boston. I am told that Independence Day has never been celebrated by the Southern people as it is in the Northern States.
A hospital tent was put up today for our two wounded men, and for a few who are sick in their quarters.
Colonel Corcoran, commander of the 69th New York, an Irish regiment, visited our camp today and spent an hour at the quarters of Colonel Cass.
Jul. 12 - I got a pass today to go to Washington. I visited the Capitol, the War Department, the Patent office, the Treasury, the Post Office, and the Washington Monument, and took a look at the White House. I returned to camp in time for dress parade, and felt somewhat tired and very much disappointed with the city. If all the public buildings were taken out of it, there would nothing be left but a dirty looking country town, where cows, hogs, mules, and hungry looking dogs are allowed to run loose wherever they please. Soldiers are straggling around, many of them drunk and fighting and apparently under no discipline whatever; it will take a long time to make soldiers out of some of them.
Civil War Diary
Jul. 20, 1861 - The camps in this neighbourhood are overrun with spies who come in peddling cake, pies, fruit, stationary, and other small wares. One of them was caught today in the act of poisoning a well, and on being searched, a paper of arsenic was found in his pocket. He was sent to Washington under guard, and now, sentinels are posted on all the springs and wells, from which the troops are supplied with water.
Jul. 22 - A battle was fought yesterday at a place called Bull Run in Virginia, in which the Union troops under General Mc. Dowell were beaten. We were ordered out last night and were on the road to Washington when the order was countermanded, and we returned to camp again with orders to be ready to move at a moments notice.
General George B. Mc. Clellan is appointed to the command of the Army of the Potomac in place of General Mc. Dowell.
Jul. 23 - We broke camp and crossed the Potomac into Virginia over the Long Bridge, and camped at Arlington, the former home of the rebel General Robert E. Lee.
A detachment of three men from each company, one Sergeant, three Corporals, and one officer, are left in Washington to do guard duty at the railroad depot.
Jul. 25 - The three months men are going home, their term of service being about to expire.
I procured a pass today and went to Washington, how different is the appearance of the city today to what it was when I visited it last. Then the soldiers went wherever they pleased, and conducted themselves pretty much as they pleased, but now everything is changed, the city is under military rule. Provost guards patrol the city day and night, and all Soldiers who cannot show a pass are arrested and sent to their regiments. This is probably owing to the new Commander, Mc. Clellan, and is a decided improvement on the no system which prevailed here last month, when soldiers roamed at will, caring nothing for the authority of their officers or for the cause they came here to fight for.
Jul. 31 - The brigade to which we are assigned is Commanded by General Sherman, and the division is commanded by General Fitz John Porter. We have commenced to build a fort near our camp, the 4th Michigan are building another and a New York regiment called the “De Kalb” are building another. The work of building fortifications seems to be the order to the day from right to left of this army.
Civil War Diary
Aug. 17, 1861 - Captain Thomas F. Meagher, late of the 69th New York three months regiment, visited our camp today; he is now engaged in raising a brigade of Irishmen in New York City, to serve three years if not sooner discharged.
In addition to building our Fort, a detail is sent out each morning with axes, to cut down the woods in front, in order, I suppose, that when the rebels come they may have “a fair field and no favor.” The trees are felled with the tops pointing outward, the branches are then trimmed and sharpened, so that it is almost impossible to pass through them, and it is supposed that if the enemy should make up his mind to pay us a visit, he will be under the necessity of approaching by the Fairfax pike.
Aug. 19 - Our division was reveiwed today by General Mc. Clellan in presence of President Lincoln and Lieutenant General, Winfield Scott. General Mc. Clellan rode between the ranks of our regiment while at open order. Gen. Scott came in a carriage and had to be supported by two officers when he alighted. The old gentleman is too old to command a large army composed of young men and officers.
Aug. 20 - One of our men drowned in the Potomac yesterday while attempting to cross the river by swimming. Another was killed by a tree falling upon him while chopping timber.
A report reached our camp about ten o’clock last night that the enemy was preparing to attack our pickets, and a call was made for twenty Volunteers from each company in the 9th. I was one of Company E’s quota. We marched out to the picket line where we remained untill morning without being molested. In the morning we were ordered to advance and reconnoitre the enemy in our front, this brought on a skirmish in which one of our party was wounded in the head, and another in the arm. The enemy’s pickets wheeled a small cannon into the road and sent us three small six pound shells, at which stage of the proceedings we were ordered to fall back, and soon after returned to camp. Can’t tell what damage we did the enemy.
In the afternoon we were presented with an American flag sent out by the boys of the Elliott School, Boston.
Civil War Diary
Aug 21, 1861 - Today the Quartermaster issued the United States regulation uniform, and we have laid aside the grey suits which we brought from home and in which we were sometimes mistaken for rebels.
Sep. 9 - Sergeant Thomas Ivers, and private William Fogarty belonging to our company, and a man named Murphy belonging to Company “I” were captured by the rebels today. Ivers and Fogarty were on picket duty, and Murphy has been employed as a Scout by General Porter.
Sep. 10 - The rebels attacked our pickets yesterday and drove them from their position. A detachment of 250 men from our regiment were sent to their assistance and drove the rebels back and took up the old line again. Loss on our side, three wounded.
Sep. 12 - Another skirmish took place on the picket line yesterday in which two of our men were wounded. It is impossible for us to tell what damage is done the enemy in those affairs, but in yesterday’s skirmish I saw the Johnnies carrying off three of their wounded when they were falling back.
Civil War Diary
Sep. 23, 1861 - The Forts are completed. Ours is named “Fort Cass,” in honour of our Colonel, the one built by the 4th Michigan is named “Fort Woodbury,” after their Colonel, and the other is called “De Kalb,” after the regiment that built it; “Fort Corcoran,” the one built by the 69th New York, is a little on our right and rear.
There is now a line of those fortifications from the Chain bridge to Alexandria, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and the line is continued on the North Side of the river so as to surround the city of Washington.
Sep. 25 - Our Division moved forward last night and took possession of some earthworks which the rebels had built and occupied on the heights beyond the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad. I suppose it was intended to capture the Johnny’s, but, they probably “smelt a mice,” and absquatulated; however, only six of them were captured.
During the movement in the dark, the 69th Pensylvania and the 1st California came in collision, and each supposing the other to be rebels, they fired into each other. Six men were killed and eight wounded; and seven horses belonging to Sherman’s battery were killed.
Our Division went into bivuock at a place called Hall’s Hill.
Sep. 26 - Our tents and camp equipage arrived today and we went into camp at Minors farm, a short distance from our position of last night.
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