10th Vermont Volunteers, 1864
From the Collections of the Vermont Historical Society (MSC-194)
[Transcription by Christian Savoia and Steven Kung, 2007]
The VHS manuscript collection also includes letters by Graham (Misc. 0238) and, in the VHS museum collection, items carved by Graham while in prison.
Walter Graham of Arlington, Vt., was mustered into Co. E of the 10th Vermont Regiment in 1862 and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant June 15, 1865. He was taken prisoner July 9, 1864 and pardoned February 22, 1865. He was mustered out June 22, 1865.
The VHS manuscript collection also includes a letters by Graham (Misc. 0238) and, in the VHS museum collection, items carved by Graham while in prison.
May 28th, 1864
Yesterday we marched about 25 miles it was hard days work my feet were sore and I felt bad, no word from home yet. This morning one started and came to the Pamunkey river and rested about a hour before are crossed. Day before yesterday there was a fight at Chester field junction there was. 180 rebels killed and only 6 of our men. We captured about 5000 of them that day.
May 29th Sunday
Sunday we came in about noon yesterday and before 5 o’clock we had strong entrenchments built we lay in them all night and were called up at 2 o’clock. To be in line of battle untill day-light. There was no disturbance although the enemy were withen a mile of us in force. No word from home yet. The country is very fine here, better than the most places I have seen in Virginia. Nice houses and plantations, corn and potatoes are pretty large and cherries are ripe peaches are coming nicely too.
May 30th Monday
This morning we started at daylight towards Hanover court how we marched slow and had no rations the boys have had only about two hard tacks since yesterday morning. Yesterday it was reported that Robt. Lee was killed with a shell last Thursday about 8,00 of the enemy came in and said that it was true.
Last night we were in line of battle all night. There was a pretty hard fight on our left but what it was I do not know. We drew three days rations of bread, sugar, coffee, salt. We ate. We get plenty of beef all the time. Yesterday a man captured two armed Rebel cavalry with nothing but a fish pole. We made an advance on the enemy driving him from his first line of works in disorder, and rested in their pits about noon. 31st about midnight we left the works and started for Coal [Cold] Harbor on the James river, and arrived there June 1st about noon where we built breast works, but near night we was ordered to make an advance on the enemy. We charged on them our Regt. getting on their flank and taking about 300 prisoners. Our loss was not great. Front Co. E was there. Was 3 wounded. We fell back about 100 yards and formed again and lay there untill the morning of the 3rd when we made an other advance, our Regt. was the first line of battle. We lay under fire about 6 hrs and lost-heavily from our Co. Was 2 killed and 14 wounded besides Capt. Blodgett had his left arm broken. In the afternoon we built strong works again where we are this morning.
We are yet in our works and sharp skirmishing is going on in front of our line. I have had two letters from home and feel better. We drew two days rations last-night which is to last us five days.
Our two troops and the Rebs have met with a flag of truce to bury the dead. Our boys went out with papers and exchanged with them the firing is to cease untill 3 o’clock this afternoon.
This afternoon there was another truce to bury the dead, and there has not been a gun fired yet. At 8 o’clock the 8th our loss this far is 186 since we crossed the Rapidan killed and wounded about 10 o’clock the Rebs have just commenced firing again.
Yet living behind our works, last night one big gun about every hour.
We are yet living in our works. Our men throws a shell over once in a while. But do not get any reply yet. It was reported last night that Fort Darling was taken but we did not believe it.
Last night the Brigade left the works about eleven o’clock and came to the left about two miles, where we stoped at daylight and rested about eleven o’clock. We came up and occupied a breastwork in our front. Two or three lines between us and the enemy, a detail of 200 men from our Regiment went to the front on picket. We came here to relieve the 2nd Corps that had been on the front line two days less than we had.
There is nothing worthy of note occurring this morning. Our batteries throw a shell over once in a while which burst in the enemys works. They seem to have a perfect range on them.
About eleven o’clock we pulled out quietly leaving our pickets on the line. We marched all night and all the next day. We came about twenty miles and crossed the Chicahominy river in the evening and stoped for the night. we had coffee and laid down.
This morning we wor ordered to move at 4 o’clock, but did not get started untill about 5. We all were pretty well raid(red?) up. We have started for Charles city C.H nearly all the way was continual forest of pines.
We are living in the woods yet withen a short distance of the James river. We are expecting to cross to day. When we started our aggregate was 91. Today it is 87. Our present when we started was 65 today it is 39.
We are living about 2 miles from Wilsons Landing where we have been since noon yesterday a detail of our Regiment went on picket last night we are rear guard of the Army, the trains have been passing for almost two days. Afternoon. we moved a little nearer the landing and formed line of battle and built breastworks, and are now waiting for the train to cross the James river about 4 o’clock we went down to the river and took a steamer and went up the river, we stoped at City Point a few minutes and then at Bermuda Hundred, and from there to Point of Rocks where we landed about 12 o’clock at night about 2 on morning of the 17th and went about 2 miles and came into earth works of the 18th Corps
We started about sundown out to drive the Rebel pickets from their pits but we came back without making the attempt and about mid-night we were ordered out again on the left to charge them but when we got out we found that the Rebs had been massing their troops and were throwing up works so we came back without doing anything
Yesterday we were shelled pretty bad wounded one of our Co. in the head the report is Petersburgh is ours, and great slaughter on both sides I received a letter from Mother last night and was glad here from home. we are all in line this afternoon ready to move. the mail has just come in and I received a handkerchief from home and a letter also from Capt Blodgett. Generals U.S. Grant and B.F. Buttler has just passed in front of our line looking the works over after that we started to the Appomatox river where we landed before, and crossed the river on a pontoon, and came to our Corps near Petersburgh where we stoped for the night.
We went into a woods nearby and lay there all day in the afternoon I went to the rear to see if I could not get a shirt from the Sanitary Commission not having changed since the 4th of June. The Agent told me mine was good enough I went to Chaplain Haynes and he said if I would send down in the morning he would get me one.
In the woods yet, I sent to the rear this morning and got a new shirt and went to the brook and washed, feel better we received an order to be ready to march at 11 o’clock after that an order that we would not go before night on the 19th a Mass Regt being that their time was out the 20th their Sergt Major took up a piece of board and wrote his name and “killed June 20th 1864” on it and yesterday morning he was struck with a 32 pound shell and killed instantly about 4 o’clock we moved about five miles and formed line and advanced 80 rods and built works with wooden spades our boys went to a spring to get water and a Johnny came up and asked where is the Regiment, our boys told him up here, said he “it is my mistake, but I will go with you boys so they brought him in, we went to sleep at 2 o’clock in the morning .
We fixed up our works and about noon advanced in line of battle about a quarter of a mile, and halted we had lain here about 20 minutes when we were attacked and our pickets driven in we went to work with our hands, and tin cups and plates to build works when we had some shovels come and we made good works in about two hours we went back into our old works of the night before and about half an hour before dark, we went down again and charged. the enemy fell back from their works and we went about a mile through the worst swamp I had ever seen. We rested on arms all night.
About 4 o’clock we built works, and just after we got them done we were ordered back, the enemy had turned over our flank and captured some prisoners we fell back to the into first works we built.
We were ordered to strengthen our works stayed all day.
We yet remain in the same place yet. We had the most lonesome roll call last night I ever saw it was the first time I had called the roll since our first fight at Cold Harbour it affected us all very much, our camp is laid out in streets and we expect to stay untill after Petersburgh is taken.
About 1 o’clock we started for Reams Station, where we arrived after dark, the 2nd Division was tearing up the Rail Road we formed line and lay all night it was reported that there was about 1000 Rebel cavalry here last night but fled at our approach.
At Rhiemes [Reams] station untill almost dark we builded fine brest works and had plenty of boards. I found a nice powder flask here, which I want to send home, we left before dark and went half the way to our old works where we staid all night we were flankers on the march here.
We lay in the sand all day, and in the evening moved out quarter of a mile and staid all night.
Moved back to our old works below Petersburgh it was extremely hot and dusty.
This morning we are here fixing up [?] around our camp a detail of our Regt went on picket this morning and expects to remain three days.
The fourth of July is rather a dull day thus far. Bands are playing national airs with an occasional booming of a big gun up on the right to break the monotony.
About the same as yesterday only with less firing a fight occurred in the 122 Ohio Regt last evening, a Lieutenant and some recruits Lieut dressed them out though Lieutenant Barber lost his horse today, taken by the Provost Marshall on an old order. A jolly time among the field and line officers last night it is reported that Ewells Corps is going to Harpers Ferry.
We started about five o’clock for Harpers Ferry Md. We went to City Point about 12 miles and took Transports about noon to go around by Fortress Munroe
Landed in Baltimore in the afternoon and had to stay on the steamers was about 11 o’clock, when we landed, and went aboard the carrs for Frederick city
We arrived in Frederick about 10 o’clock got off and marched through the city and stacked arms and rested, I went on a skedaddle through the town.
Last night we marched about 10 miles to get there and this morning we are in line of battle and the enemy advancing upon us they came down on us too heavy and we run. I run about a mile and half and was captured. Currie and I they took us back and we saw Reid and Corpl Stafford there prisoners.
We marched a good ways on the Georgetown road.
Still on the march
Living in an orchard within ten miles of Washington DC paid ten dollars in Green backs for a pair of shoes.
Last night we pulled out and marched all night and stoped about noon when we drew rations and rested untill dark when we marched again.
Marched all night and till noon when we stoped
Resting in a little woods
About midnight we started and marched all day and all night, and in the morning of the 18th we stoped about day break, to rest and get rations, we crossed the Potomac at Whites Ford, and came through Leesburg and crossed the blue ridge at Ashbys gap
Resting today in a little grove.
This morning we started again going through Winchester and three miles further to a little town where we halted to get some rations. day before yesterday we marched 42 miles at Frederick Junction when we came along Corpl Lillies and private Pike lay there dead beside the road. Corpl McKay was wounded and captured and Forsyth was shot through the right breast. Stafford and Reid was taken trying to carry him off the field.
A mistake in the date we lay all day near a little town and in the morning of the 20th we marched fifteen miles toward Stanton passing through Newtown & Middletown and halted in the afternoon near Strasburg. we had a heavy thunder shower. the first we had seen since the 8th of June.
Lay here all day
Marched 25 miles on the pikes passed through Woodstock, to Edinburgh and stoped at Mount Jackson.
This morning we started again after marching 15 miles we came to the Big Spring. and turned into a wood to rest. started again and stoped within two miles of Harisburg and stayed all night
Marched through Harisburg and Mount Crawford, towards Stanton, through Mount Sidney about a mile and camped
Went to Stanton and took the carrs and went to Charlottville where we stayed that night
Took the carrs for Lynchburg where we arrived in the afternoon, and quartered in a Tobacco Factory,
At Lynchburg yet, they took our Rubber blankets & tents away here
This morning we were called up early and all ready for a move we took the carrs for Danville, Va.
We arrived at Danville this morning about day break, and after a little delay were put into prison, a three and half story brick building about 40 feet by 80 feet long. 250 men on each floor.
We yet remain in prison, our rations consist of a liberal amount of corn bread a bacon with a cup of soup at 4 oclock the day we came to Stanton we passed the willow spring. quite a curiosity. The water comes out of the tree about four feet from the ground, good water, the tree is about five inches thick or in diameter
And last day of July. and Sunday: in prison I can not see any difference between Sunday and a week day. And in fact for a greater part of the summer I have not known when Sunday came
A pretty warm day, had a good sleep last night although the sentinels would wake me crying every half hour. “Post seven. All is well.”
Today they brought in about 900 more prisoners in they were captured at Petersburgh, a there was 77 Officers of that squad put into this building
Wednesday Yesterday we had a good rain
Currie staid at Lynchburg when we came, and this morning he came here with some officers and was first into another prison, little did we think one year ago. This July when we were marching through Frederick, that a year from that time I would be captured there
Yesterday the boys had a fight over a pail of spring water. they fought twice
About the same as usual
Sunday, arose at day break to wash
To day a squad of us were allowed to go to the river to bathe
Prison No1 all is well
Yet in prison
August 12th, 13th
Last night some more prisoners came, between 400 & 500
Sunday, on the morning of the 13th Bill Garvin and I, broke off the use of Tobacco, it is getting tedious, and the days seem long but the nights are longer
August 15th, 16th, 17th
Just like all other days, I never want to be a prisoner again, I was reading in a Richmond paper of the End of the war, a man that awoke from a sleep of fifty years, and was on the south side of the Rapidan river. looking up, he saw a corporal and 17 men, and a wheelbarrow, he walked up to them and asked them what it was. he received the answer. The Confederate army. where are the Yankees said he. oh they are on the other side. but have the advantage of us, in men and transportation, for they have 21 men and 2 wheelbarrows, but we will get the best position and whip them yet, He awoke and found it was a dream.
They took away all our canteens, haversacks and what blankets we had left today
Rained all night
August 20th, 21st
Another fight today in which a man had his ear bitten off
August 23rd, 24th –30th
Today the sick and wounded were sent to Richmond to be exchanged.
When we were captured there was 30 from the 10th Vt with us, of Co E, Sergt Graham Sergt Currie Corpl Stafford T. Reid. Co C Schaffner and Hopkins. Co D Corpl Dougherty T.O’Brien J Lander, T. Linehan J Morgan, Co F J Monteith, L B Vincent, P. La Fountain, Co. G. L.G. Woodbury, and Tiffany Co H. A Hill, R. Noyce, Co J W.W. Garvin, H.D. Blatchley, M Cavenaugh, Skiels, E W. Porter, Co K Lunderville, J. L Calhoun, L. Davis Co A, E. Moore, W Robinson, Co B, M Cain R, Brooks. Mr Tiffany of Co G. was sent to the Hospital before we came to Stanton, Hopkins Co C we left at Lynchburgh, Currie was left there too, Noyce of Co H went to the Hospital from here, and Robinson Co A went with the sick to Richmond, leaving 25 today.
Yesterday. Linehan of Co D went to the Hospital, leaving 24 A few days ago they searched us again. felt in all of our pockets and took what green backs we had, and the next day published an order that the Major was authorized to exchange money dollar for dollar, so that we could buy things as it was criminal to deal in green backs.
Today Schaffner of Co “C” went to bake for the Hospital. 23 of us left.
About eight o’clock in the evening, everything is silent, but the tread of the sentinel as he paces his beat in the hall, I have fell well to day, better than I do the most of the time, it is over a week now since I have been Sergeant of the 1st floor of the prison, and since I have been here I have had more exercise, which is the thing I most require, there it is report that there is an exchange of 10000 men going on in Georgia, I do hope it will extend to us, Tobacco is nearly done to night (I have began the use of it again) I sent out by Currie four dollars to get some, all the money I had, but have no got it yet, Currie is out on parole of honor.
Sunday. In the valley after we were captured we had pretty hungry times often times we had half pint of flour issued to us, with a little fresh beef for a days ration. and since we have been at Danville, we have half a loaf of corn bread, with being sifted and meat often a week we would not get any. But since I have been in charge of the floor, I have had enough I get an extra ration to pay for my work. Reid has been in the Hospital since the 17th of this month. I had a letter from him the other day, which stated he was getting better, Currie was in to day and brought me in a book to read, the title of it was “A Simple Story”, we had a potatoe soup for dinner, we are allowed to make little fires in the yard to cook, and we can buy potatoes for one dollar a quart we put our ration of beef in, which made a good soup, but expensive. Today I sold nine sheets of paper and nine envelopes for five dollars to the guard.
Monday. Tonight as I was bringing a couple pails of water to the prison I heard of the death of Corpl, Dougherty and L.G. Woodbury the first that have died of our Regt that we know of since we were captured, I have been reading “Uncle Toms Cabin” today,
Election day at the north and we have had an election here in prison. Currie sold my old pipe for $10,00 ten dollars, today, Election returns have just come in. seventeen majority for Lincoln in Prison No. 1
Last night about midnight, I was awakened by the report of a gun in the yard, and in a minute the guard ran through the room making a great noise, I jumped up and now out and found that he had fired at a man, and had missed by the mans throwing himself on his face on the ground, the guard ran up to him and struck him on the head with his gun, cutting a great gash on his head. all for not going into the house when he told him to, A fellow by the name of L. Vincent of Co “F” died this morning. On my floor, poor fellow, his troubles is over in this world. A common lead pencil costs one dollar and half $1.50 the Serg. of the house bought one to-day
Last night I was made “Sergt of the house”, and this morning there is a report that we are all going to Savannah to be exchanged.
This morning Currie sent for me to come to a certain crack in the fence, below the cook house, I went out and he gave me three letters, two from Mother and one from another I tell you I was glad to here from home, I had no heard since the 1st of July, I gave up the job of being house Sergt yesterday. The Confederates are sending slaves to the front to work on the earth works there. There was a squad passed here to-day one of them was playing on a violin, as they were marching along. The weather is cold here now, but has been very pleasant and warm before.
It is Sunday to-day, and very dull, a few days ago the “Roll call officer” Perkins went into our cook-house, and says he, boys if you do not give me a load of corn bread my family will go without eating tomorrow, I felt sorry for such men as he, he is a fine fellow, and a friend to us, we had wheat bread and boiled beef to-day. The report is they have removed the point of exchange to city Point, I hope it is true
Last night Currie sent me a shirt. I never shall forget him, he has been too kind to me it is very cold weather now. The Lieut Colonel that is in command of us now is a very fine man, he does every thing in his power for us.
Thanksgiving day at home and Currie has been to see me and gave me four dollars and a half, can I ever repay him for what he has done for me here.
To day I with five others, went to the burying ground to dig graves for the dead prisoners, we buried seven bodies and the day before they buried eleven, since the 1st of this month, there has been 147 buried there. we got some persimons and turnips on the road, Reid is back from the Hospital
Sunday, A few days ago I bought two pairs of drawers for ten dollars, one pair for Reid and one for myself. I am pretty well clothed now. There is no sign of an exchange or parole yet the guards here are going to Richmond to-day or tomorrow
Last night there was so many of the guard deserted there was not enough left to have three reliefs on guard to- day, and about 4 o’clock they were relieved by a new Regiment from Richmond, they are pretty green
I was taken with pain in my head and on Sunday went to the hospital. I am getting to day the 13th is the first I have sat up.
Christmas. It is Sunday too. There has been troops passing through here on their way to Savannah for nearly a week, This morning I went over to the first Division to see Ed Moore, and the poor fellow was dead, died just before I got there
Last night there was six men died in this house two in our ward, There is all kinds of reports of an exchange and has been for two weeks.
Sunday. I was down to the Prison to-day with one of the guard to see Currie and the boys, I took dinner with him, we had pan-cakes fresh pork and gravy. he gave me a nice pair of woolen gloves as a New Years present,
A few days ago, the ward master (a Rebel) told me that the women and children, in Virginia were suffering for provisions, and the guards did not get enough to eat and the Virginia legislature had appointed delegates to treat with the fedrel commissioners to see if they could come to some agreement, to treat the prisoners with more humanity, and talk of an exchange
N. Y. Daily news of Jan Dec 31st Inhumanity to prisoners, that they had killed dogs to keep from starving and trapped rats and mice, “Rebel prisoners”
To-day I was out about a mile from the Hospital to cut ice from a pond to fill the hospital ice-house. The ice was about two inches thick, there was about 500 Rebels came here today who said they were paroled. In August there was a squad of negroes came here, they were all claimed as slaves but 86, today, there is only 8 of them left, all dead but 8
To day we had preaching in our ward. A Baptist preacher, he left us some tracts and papers.
This morning we took the carrs for Richmond where we arrived about eleven o’clock at night we were put into Pemberton prison. There was several men died on the way we had nothing to eat from the 18th noon until the 20th noon and then only a little piece of corn bread and stinking meat.
We left the prison at daylight and went on a boat for the union lines. how happy we were when we came aboard our boat
We arrived in Annapolis at noon