Aunt Katy's Civil War Tale

Chapter 12

By January 6th, 1865, they had reached Berlin, Maryland, where they were ordered to build winter quarters. Uncle Lonzo joined with Jim, who had recovered from his wound, and two other men to build a shanty. The "family" had slow work of it for the weather was wet and cold making it difficult to accomplish much. A few men went home on 15 day furloughs and Lonzo hoped he might get one if the practice continued till spring.

"Our company went out on scout yesterday some 10 or 15 miles but they didn't see any Johnnys. They found a few chickens tho and we had a couple for dinner today. We got some flour a day or two ago and took that and some sugar to a colored lady who lives near here and had some pies baked. She made them of blackberrries and elderberries and they were first rate."

Aunt Bea and Grandma packed a box to send, putting in cookies and other food stuff along with a letter and some photographs. Uncle Lonzo wrote his thanks and replying to Bea's letter says;

"You don't seem to be very patriotic if you would give the Johnnies their Independence now. I should hardly want to give up whipped to them now. I would rather go home and go to raising young soldiers to fight them when I get too old to, than give up now. How are the prospects for new recruits around there these days anyhow?

"I think there is a fair prospect of making them knock under before next fourth of July if things go on the way they have for the past six months."

Their first wedding anniversary passed in Febuary and Lonzo wrote wistfully, recalling the day. He wishes he could get home but predicts Bea would be shocked as he has "not visited a barber lately and it is most too cold weather to wash oftener than once a week."

"I guess you didn't understand what I meant about prospects for recruits. I had something more personal in mind than the draft, Mrs. Bea."

Febuary 23rd he writes that they expect the paymaster daily and "I shall be glad to see him as I only lack five days of having a year's pay due me.

"When Pa and Bert get to making sugar there, you eat a good dish for me. I suppose that will do just as well as if I ate it myself."

Febuary 24th they broke camp and moved out. The next day they marched in freezing rain "the worst days march I ever experienced" and finally joined the division. Back in action again they captured Confederate wagon trains and large numbers of prisoners. Roads were quagmires and blocked with abandoned wagons all the way to Charlottesville. They spent a day there tearing up railroad tracks and the next day destroyed five locks in the James River canal.

March 8th they broke camp at Howardsville at noon and made a 52 mile march to Columbia arriving by daybreak the 9th and capturing several fine horses along the way. The weather cleared and the roads improved so the constant traveling was easier to stand. On March 26th General Grant and President Lincoln visited their camp on the James River.

Petersburg, Virginia, April 19,1865
"We have received a severe blow in the murder of our noble President. there is no knowing the effect it will have on the prospects of peace. Everything has been quiet around here since Lee surrendered. The rebel soldiers seem glad to get home and I guess they all think the war is over.

"We have been receiving some new recruits lately, we have got ten in our company and I wish they were back in the city of New York where they came from. They don't know anything about this soldiering business and some people you "never can learn."

The marching and counter-marching went on like a chess game. Johnston surrendered and Lonzo wrote from Petersburg once again on May 5th:

"I suppose we shall start for Washington in a few days. When the army all gets there I suppose there will be a grand review and then I expect a large part of the army will be discharged. I don't know whether our regiment will be discharged or not but I hope it will. There is so many reports about what they are going to do with us that there is no knowing what to believe. We are laying in camp now to rest our horses as we will have to march to Washington. I suppose we will go through Richmond so we will have a chance to see the rebel capital. I have been to Petersburg today and been along the lines where the two armies have lain so long. It would be a great sight for anyone that never saw any such thing to take a walk along the lines of fortifications. Petersburg is quite a fine city and there is some fine buildings in it.

"If they dont discharge me now the war is over, I shall be tempted to discharge myself, wouldn't you? I can't stand it to lay around in camp and put on military style when there is no more fighting to do."

Fairfax Court House, May 15, 1865

"As we have got into camp in good season tonight I will write you a few lines. We have got through to here all right but have had some pretty hard marching. We left Petersburg the next morning after I wrote to you and marched through Richmond that day. There is nothing about Richmond in particular that is different from any other city of its size. We camped about 5 miles from the city near where we had a hard fight just a year before. We came by the way of Culpepper and crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford and the Rappihannock at Kelly's Ford. We have passed over a good many of our old battle grounds on our last march, I hope.

"I don't know whether we will go on to Washington or remain in camp here awhile. We got the news of the capture of Jeff Davis today. I would like to have the pleasure of seeing him hung before I go home."

After receiving orders to march, having them countermanded and reissued, being delayed by a flooded river, which gave them a chance to "go in swimming and pick cherries," they finally reached the regimental camp at Winchester. They expected to remain there a while but two days later were ordered back to Alexandria. The weather became hotter, the flies an ever present buzzing cloud, and the men resented the " busy work" of camp life and the continual shunting from place to place just as one camp was made habitable. Many men deserted and Uncle Lonzo humerously suggests his trying if "if you don't mind living in Canada, but I presume you would."