John Milton Bancroft Journal 1861 - 1864

    The following is the John Milton Bancroft Journal written from 1861 through 1864. John Milton Bancroft was a sgt and then a 1st Lt. in the 4th Michigan Volunteer infantry. He was born in 1838 and died in 1918. The original copy of this journal is in the Bryn Athyn library of Pa.. Any commercial use of this journal is prohibited. It is provided here by permission of the Bentley Library of the University of Michigan for historical and scholastic review.


1st Lt. John Milton Bancroft

Company H 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry

provided by Donnalyn Yates and the National Archives


"Army Life during the Rebellion with the Army of the Potomac"

by John Milton Bancroft


Bull Run

July 21, 1861

Battle of Yorktown

April 4, 1862

Siege of  Yorktown

May 1862

Battle of New Bridge

May 24, 1862

Battle of Hanover

May 27,1862

Battle of Mechanicville

June 26, 1862

Battle of Chickahominy

June 27, 1862

Battle of New Market

June 30, 1862

Battle of Malvern Hill

July 1, 1862

Battle of Harrison's landing

July 3, 1862

Battle of Gainesville

Aug. 26,1862

Battle of Bull Run [second]

August 27,1862

Battle of Antietam

September 17, 1862

Battle of Shepardstown Ford

September 19, 1862

Battle of Fredricksburg

December 13, 1862

Battle of Chancellorsville

May 4, 1863

Battle of Upperville

June 21, 1863

Battle of Gettysburg

July 2, 1863

Battle of Brandy Station

October13, 1863

Battle of Bristow Station

October 14, 1863

Battle of Rappahannock Station

November 7, 1863

Battle of Mine Run

November 30, 1863



May 10

Have enlisted for three years in the Service of the Government. Member of the Continental Rifles. Composed of boys from Trenton and From Engine Company No. 8 of Detroit

May 13

Still in Detroit. 1st Mich. Leave tonight for Washington. Old friends in the 1st, Horner, Vreeland, and Finch. On Saturday Adrian people were here to see boys off.

May 16

Drilling. Answering letters from home. Am quite tired. Drill under Capt. David A. Granger and Lt. Taylor and Chapin.

May 29

Placed my trunk and bookcase labeled for home, "Reading, Mass." in the second story of Mr. Hinchman,s Store. Leave Detroit for Adrian at 7:30 o'clock. Stopped in Trenton to a reception of the company. Saw the "goodbye" of many of the Company. There were tears shed. At Monroe were cheered.

May 30

Slept last night on a bed of loose straw in two small rooms with fifteen others in the College at Adrian. One blanket each. We were merry boys. Awoke to a frosty morning and to find very little chance for soap and water.

May 31

Slept last night on bare floor and woke bright and early. Drilled six hours.

June 1 Sat.

Drill, etc. Several friends over from Adrian. Received from Miss Anna Rice a mirror and three towels. Also an invitation to call from Mrs. R. (note) This mirror was carried until the campaign of 1862 began.

June 2 Sunday

Morning rainy. Heard Mr. Slocum read account of the progress of the N.B. 7th Reg't. Mr. S. is a very superior reader. P.M. called Mrs. Haywoods and took tea. Note - Mr. Haywood is a cousin of Raymonds and their farm was a halting place in the teachers evening walks.

June 3

Wrote letters home and elsewhere. Was on drill all day. Received intimation of the formation of an Engineer Corps in connection with the Brigade, and that I shall receive a position. Was in town in evening. Met many old friends, scholars and acquaintances.  Note - Beaman now M.P. from Mich. was in camp and inquired me out as he was formerly on the School Board. Since which time Capt. Granger gave me a free pass to town during my stay in Adrian.

June 5th

Raining. We drill. Dined at Mr. Whitney's. Letters from home and friends. This is the only goodbye for the war I have to give. Trouble in camp. Lt. E. H. Taylor and Capt. Granger. Granger is a rascal and Taylor is not competent.

June 7

Attended the Baptist Social. Meet old faces Lt. Taylor and Avery. Had a gay time and returned to camp 12:30.

June 8

On duty as Corporal of the Guard. First take a part in guard mounting. Was awake nearly all night. Slept a short time on the fence rails. Studied the stars and thought of those at home. Miles away. Am not very tired in the morning

June 9 Sunday

Very warm and pleasant. In the afternoon call on Miss K.

June 11th Tuesday

Rec'd our uniforms. Grey satiment. Were on dress parade. After supper before the Governor. Left the field on the double quick on account of rain. Went down town. Called on Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard. Mr. H. was Prin.

June 19th

Two of the boys of Co. B (Adrian) were married by Chaplin Strong - Formed square.

June 20th

Staff of office presented to Drum Major with appropriate remarks by Chaplin. Muster into U.S. for three years.

June 21st

Flag. U.S. Colors presented by ladies of Adrian to the reg't. Inscription " Ladies of Adrian to the Mich. 4th".

June 22 Most of the boys are gone home to see their friends. I go this afternoon to the Raymonds at Raisin.

June 23

Return to Adrian. Bid bye to friends.

June 24 Monday

Packing to leave for Wash. No drill. Capt Granger is not commissioned by the Governor. J.D. Slocum Capt of Co. I. my Co. Down town in evening

June 25

Pack up in the morning and with a heavy knapsack, haversack and canteen we start from college to the depot. The day was very hot and the roads dusty but march was a complete ovation. Escort duty was performed by the Engine Co's. and a crowd of citizens. There were many who did shed tears and more who could but for our sakes did not. And for the cause for which we go they bid us God speed and hope for the best. Good bye friends you have been very kind to me.

Change cars at Toledo arrive at Cleveland 8 p.m.

After some delay we proceed to Erie arriving June 26, 5 a.m.

Were served with cake etc. by the citizens. At Dunkirk stopped and went to Lake Erie to bathe. This was a great treat indeed.

June 26

At Oleana we got a dipper of coffee each. The ladies came through the cars, at parting gave us mementos, bouquets, fans etc. I think in some cases correspondence followed. At Hornellsville and Corning we were cheered. At Elmira the N.B. 23d were quartered and we were treated by the ladies to a warm supper at about 9 p.m. This was prepared by the Rev. Curtis formerly of Adrian. After supper we took the cars to Harrisburg, Pa. and woke in the morning in the mountains of Pa. away up the Susquehanna. Splendid scenery hills, rocks and clouds all the way to Harrisburg. We stopped at 5:30 a.m. at Sunberry and at 11:00 at Norfolk. Here the scenery is very grand. We were treated to cherries and cake by the ladies. We got out on a bridge over the water to allow another train to pass. At 1:00 o'clock we stopped near camp Curtin at Harrisburg one mile north near insane asylum. We got tents and set ourselves to work to set them, and then have a chance to wash in the canal. We got coffee, etc. late in the evening.

June 28

Camp Cameron. We are know ready for soldiers life, fare, and privations. rations of salt pork and ham. Hard biscuit are givin out once a day and coffee twice. I suppose we are waiting here for our rifles. Rumor says we are going to Baltimore tomorrow to burn the place. This is a romantic place. The scenery and weather are fine. Visit the town, State House, etc.

June 29th

Last night Geo. Heintzer displaced and J. A. Sorden put in his place as orderly Sergeant.

June 30th

Drilled all day in Manual of Arms and in the street firing under Lt. Col. Duffield.

July 1st rose at 4:00. Packed. Struck tents. Breakfast. Cars for Washington. Cattle cars at that. Stopped at York. Rode across a bridge some 200 ft. in length hanging by my arms. Was off train which started before I could get on. Passed through the city of Baltimore with five rounds of cartridge in our pockets. Rain at Relay House. Everything quiet. We were treated very well.

July 2nd

Arrived in Wash. 12:00 o'clock p.m. Marched down Pennsylvania Ave. at the Woodward building. Woke in the morning to wait for breakfast most of the day owing to want of knowledge by the commissary. Move out to Meridian Hill near the Columbia College and go to camp.

Washington D.C.

July 4th, 1861

Rumor says that Gen. Scott said today that those of us who were living would dine at home on Christmas. Went to town. Saw the rest - A. Lincoln, Gen. Scott, Seward, etc. Went into Sautiers and had ice cream and strawberries.

July 6th

Went to Capitol. Saw several Dartmouth boys. Grow elected Speaker of the House. There are 70,000 men around Washington. Ten die daily. New York had 20,000 men review yesterday. Mass. 11th in camp on grounds between White House and the Potomac. Found Sev. and Charlie Leathe.

July 16th Sunday morning

Packed up and left for Alexandria. Marched out and encamped near Clouds Mills. Tuesday the regiment marched towards Fairfax. I was sick on Monday and the Capt. would not allow me to go on Tuesday morning.

July 21st

Today guns are firing at Bulls Run in the direction of Manassas Gap. Today many a soldier will lay low. The firing has been going on for two hours. The 4th Reg't has been left at Fairfax Station and Court House. Ere another Sunday there will be weeping in many a house. Yesterday many a soldier sent home his last letter. Many letters will be written with "write as soon as you get this", which will not be answered. All day long we have listened to the guns. One of the fairest Sabbath days.

July 22

Morning found the federal army retreating in confusion and defeated. We struck tents and returned to Alexandria in the rain. All is in confusion. Men, baggage, wagons. Everything is coming in all day long. The wounded are arriving in as best they can. The loss is great and the confusion greater. We stop in town. Sleep in a barn over night.

July 23rd

Start for wash. via Long Bridge. Meet the reg't at the bridges. See the Mass. 5th. Ed Pratt is safe, and all my friends in the Mich. 1st. Arrive at our old camping ground on Meridian Hill and pitch tents and prepare for a stop of some time. Wrote to Frank of our safety.

July 25

The Mich. 1st encamp near us and leave for home.


Aug. 3d

The usual routine of camp duty. Some dissatisfaction in camp. The men expect to be discharged at the close of three months.

Drill Sick.

Aug. 5th, 6th, 7th, etc.

Oh to be sick here! What pain! How weak one is. And all the boys are yelling and swearing, etc. as usual and one hears everything. Never give me opium again. For two days and nights I lay in  a fever with my head bathed all the time with cold water and what suffering!! I have not been sick for so long a time that I feel it very hard.

Aug. 8th

Packed up and started for Virginia. Assigned to W. T. Sherman's Brigade. In the morning very weak from sickness and the opium. The reg't left. I expected to ride but found the wagons too close and hot, so I started on foot and with an occasional nip of whiskey and long rests, got there. Crossed a Ferry at Georgetown below the Aqueduct and up the hills by a very rough path. Pitch tents two and one - half miles from the river at  Camp Union. Walked some 5 miles in all. Gained a little appetite, so I ate some potatoes, etc. at a home and with the exertion found myself decidedly better next morning.

Aug. 9th

Feeling much better. Tried peaches and watermelon and am improving.

Aug. 11th

Friday night. Rained. Were called out in line of battle by a night alarm and stood for an hour in the rain. No enemy came. Returned to camp and sleep on our arms. One man put on his overcoat but forgot his musket. Capt. S. fell in the sink. We are brigaded under Sherman with Mass. 9th, the N.B. 13th the DeKlalb reg't Co. F. of Cavalry and a Battery of Lt. Artillery.

Aug. 12th, 13th, 14th rainy. Aug 15th.

Aug 15th

On Picket at Mt. Olivet Church

Camp Union

Arlington Heights

John M. Bancroft

3rd Sergeant Co. I. Mich 4th Inf.

Aug. 16th

Pack up and move back one - half mile nearer the river. We are to build a fort. Raining yet.

Aug . 20th

On guard as Serg't of the Guard. Our new camp commands a fine view of Georgetown and Washington. We are in trenches building a fort. The works are being put forward as fast as possible.

Aug.  25th

Parade. Inspection of Arms. General Herman received news of the advance of 10,000 rebels towards our lines. Wrote to Mr. Hinchman.

Aug.  26th

Brigade review before President, Seward, Gen. McClellan for three or four hours of tiresome standing.

Aug.  27th

At night alarm and Gen. Sherman had us out in line of battle.

Aug.  28th

In the morning were out again. Work on the fort has been done chiefly by 4th Michigan assisted by N.B. 23rd.

Aug. 29, 30, 31

Work on the Fort. Nearly finished.

Sept. 2d

Last night at Battalion drill news was read of Gen. Butler's victory at Fort Hatteras, capturing 730 prisoners.

Sept. 4th

Go to Washington with and for the mail. Rec'd letter from E. H. Hinchman of Detroit. Orders in camp for two days rations in haversacks. Battery taken from rebels on Mensens Hill. Matters indicate a move soon. One man Co. E. killed yesterday. Has a wife and four children. in very comfortable circumstances and a very lovely woman. God speed the right.

Sept. 7th

On picket to the right of Halls Hill. Lead forward on party in absence of the Lt. in charge. No moving the lines forward.

Sept. 8th

Paid off. Sick and tired.

Sept. 9th

Boys drunk fighting and noisy. Weather warm and sultry.

Sept. 10th

Off duty with a boil.

Sept. 11

Drill skirmish toward Lanersville. Turn out in line of battle. Boil very sore.

Sept. 12th

Division review at 4:30 p.m. 'til dark, very tedious.

Sept. 13th

At dress parade orders come for line of battle. Right wheel into Column! Forward March! Head of the Column to the left. By the right flank file left! March! And we are in position. Dusk and we see the smoke and flames of Halls house, Mt. Olivet Church and other buildings fired by shell or rebel hands. We go to camp and get coffee and blankets and return to sleep by the trenches and wake in the morning in a fog so thick one cannot see. Blankets wet wringing wet.

Sept. 17th

Brigade review in a rain storm, a perfect driving shower, and General and all stand and take it. This is making soldiers of us we think.

Sept. 19

Work grubbing stumps in camp.

Sept. 20

Paid off.

Sept 24

Changing camp. Rearranging. Weather very Chilly at night and hot during the day.

Sept. 28

In afternoon rec'd orders to fall in light matching order with what provisions we could lay hands on. Marched out to Balls Cross Roads. Counter - marched and went to Mt. Olivet Church, thence about two and one - half miles west and lay down in the woods. Between two and four in the morning we are on our feet on account of vollies fired near us. Proved to be Col. reg't pickets firing into each other. Reported there is a general advance all along the lines.

Sept. 29

The Grand Army appears to be all on the move. 8 - 9 10 - 11 o'clock all quiet. Hours of suspense. We remain in position. Parties are reconnoitering. Occasional heavy firing to the northward. Single guns - men all sleeping as it was very cold last night. All quiet all day Sunday.

Sept. 29th

But perhaps we may hear the crashing of cannon, the clanging of steel, the roar of armies. Night brings news of the taking of Richmond by Butler. The cheers come down the lines from the camps above and from far away in the distance. We doubt the news but we cheer --- cheer as loud as any and the sound rolls along the camps way to the North. Tonight we have built houses or shelter of boughs, as we have no tents. So we have a village of 1000 men, where yesterday at this time was the stillness of the woodland, or rather we are a city of thousands stretching over hill and valley for miles and cheers roll along among the ghostly shadows of the trees from the camp fires like the cry of fire from street to street, 

 Note. Here was the romance of the soldier life and we would not have changed places with the richest of those at home. We had come to fight and die if need be for the old flag and we were eager for a change from the dull routine of drill of which we were heartily tired and we thought this was active service.

Sept. 3o

Axes are detailed to cut down the woods where we are lying. Very heavy oak and chestnut. About 8 o'clock we fall in by order of the Colonel and stack arms, pack and lay down our knapsacks. The Colonel says there is an attack to the northward and we may leave at any moment. at the trees again and they are falling every which way. Axes ringing. Merry voices calling. Then comes the crash. Michigan boys know woodcraft to perfection. Never was land cleared quicker save by hurricane. Click! Click! and Crash!

Oct. 1st

All quiet - save the click of axes and the crash of falling timber. Various rumors as to movements of the army are afloat. At night I am on picket - about 80 rds in advance of the regiment. We have a fine view of the camps during the night. They present a gay scene. Here is romance and effect. Here are the scenes of history and chivalry. Look at the camp fires, globular masses of fire and coal where the cooks are busy, fires that tower higher and throw a cheerful blaze around the dim shadows flitting across them in the distance, fires of dry crackling, blazing brush, fires running up hollow dead trunks of trees, and over all a background of darkness and smoke, while directly overhead we see the stars. We know nothing yet of the actual success of these movements. Cannon have boomed in the distance, on each side apparently, for what we cannot tell. The country is being devastated, crops destroyed and wasted, grain  stacks scattered, fences broken down, houses burned, forests cut to open range for our artillery, etc. Written the evening of Oct. 1, 1861 - Serg't. J. M. B.

Note - this was the first we had seen of wars desolation.

Oct 2

Cook tomatoes from Maj. Nuts' garden. Gen. F. J. Porter reprimands the officer of the picket.

Oct 3d

Wrote to Frank Hay. All quiet. We are reviewed by Gen. McClellan.

Oct 4th

Balloons seen near Alexandria.

Oct 5

Pleasant. Letters and papers from home.

Oct 7th

Drill. Raining all night

Oct 8 & 9

On Guard. Troops moving to Louisville.

Oct 10th

Cold and storm - dreary - I want to go home.  Note. I have never thought so in earnest in time of campaign no matter how bad the storm. I wish I might always feel as contented with the fortune meted out to me as during these three years.

Oct. 11th

Move to Miners Hill. In front is a valley, while beyond lies a range of hills on whose eastern slope are farm house and openings occupied by Union and rebel pickets, while beyond are the camps and batteries of Gen. Johnston's Division of rebels.

Oct. 18th

No incidents of note occur. For the past few days have been sick enough but not unable to do duty.

Oct 20th

Several regiments rec'd orders last night to cook two days rations. Visit the 22d Mass.

Oct. 21st

Wrote to Detroit Advertiser.

Oct. 22

Orders 1:00 a. m. to be in readiness to march at daylight two cooked rations. Rained and did not go. Yesterday Col. Baker was shot at Leesburg. Balls Bluff.

Oct. 23

On Guard. Dr. Clark tells me I have disease of the liver and that I must quit duty and report to him. I don't feel well at all. Stayed on guard all night.

Oct. 24

Shelling across valley.

Oct. 29

Wrote to Advertiser. Have been under Dr.'s care two weeks for Liver complaint.

Oct. 30

On Police Guard at Vanderwerken's at the Brigade Hospital.

Oct. 31

Muster for pay. Have most of our winter clothing. After muster am ordered to report with six men to Gen. Porter and by him to report to the Columbian Armory, Wash. to Prof. Lowe Aeronaut. Arrived about 8:00 p. m.

Head Quarters 4th Mi. I.

Miners hill, Va. Oct. 31, '61


The bearer, Sgt. Bancroft with six privates are detailed for special duty in compliance with your orders of this morning and ordered to report fourth with for instructions.

I am general with much respect

yours truly,

(signed) Col. D. A. Woodbury

Commd'g 4th Mich. Vols.

Jno. S. Earle Adj't.

P. S. The above detail, by the order, are to report to Columbian Armory, to Prof. Lowe.

Note - on the back of the above appears the following:

Head Quarters Porter's Division

Hall's Hill, Va. Oct 31, 1861

Pass the bearer Sergeant Bancroft and party of six soldiers to Washington City

and back when their business is completed.

F. J. Porter

by Gen'l Com'd

This party will report to Professor Lowe at the

 Columbian Armory in Washington.

F. J. Porter

By Gen'l Com'd

Nov. 1st

On duty at Columbian Armory.

Nov. 2nd



Geo. W. Bates co. A.

S. M. Kidder Co. A.

S. D. Porterfield Co. D.

Thomas Boyd Co. D.

S. M. Bennet Co. H.

A. Spade Co. H.

Nov. 10

Geo. W. Bates sent regiment to become Quarter Master Sergeant.

Lonely. Home - Sick almost.

Professor Lowe's Balloon - Fairfax, Va.

possible picture of  4th Mi. soldiers

National Archives Collection

Library of Congress

Nov 9th

Left Washington Armory for the Navy Yard to go down to the river. Letter from Mr. Hay. Capt. Dickinson tells his story in the great ship house. Attended school at Andover, Mass. Rub away 19 years of age. Went to sea. Became a mate on a ship from New Orleans. By the death of the Captain became in command. Buried 12 out of 60 passengers with yellow fever. Told a very interesting account of the mode of burial at sea. Capt. Dickinson was soon put in command of a gunboat.

Nov. 10

slept last night with the Marines and sailors at the Navy Yard. With Balloon, aeronauts and reporters we start about 11 a. m. down the river. A Man of War lying opposite Alexandria. Run in close to Ft. Washington, Mattowman Creek. After dark go with Mr. Slack, a Herald reporter to Gen. Hooker's Hd. Qrts. Mud very deep and the road very indefinite. Deliver our dispatch and return.

Nov. 12

Balloon makes four ascensions. Gen Sickles goes up twice. About 4 o'clock, we go shore and the General and staff share our coffee, hard tack and salt pork. Mr. Bentley of the Philadelphia Enquirer is with us, also one of Frank Leslie's artists.

Nov. 14th

Returned to Washington.

Nov. 24

Started with Balloon to run the blockade of the Potomac. Storm and sleet and darkness. Run into a steamer going from the Navy Yard. Hear them beat "to quarters". Stop at Ft. Washington. Run by three batteries in the night. With all lights well covered stop at Mattawoman Creek. Picturesque scenery.

Nov. 25

Lay to all day. Mr. Starkweather and Pauline, aeronauts come on board with a Balloon. Run down to Chickamoxie at night, with Balloon Barge. The steamer, Mr. Lowe and Mr. Starkweather go to Ft. Monroe.

Nov. 28

Inflate Balloon, 4 to 9 p. m.

Nov. 29

The Rebels commence firing shell at the balloon barge and the balloon on shore. Do not hit it. Prof. L. telegraphs for us to return to Wash. Row up to Mattawoman. Sleep on the deck of a stern wheel excursion boat in a storm of wind and rain.

Dec. 1st

Sunday. Inflate the Intrepid and prepare to take it over the river. Windy. Have to guard it.

Dec. 2 and 3

Let out gas.

Dec 10

Leave Wash. by canal boat Eliza Ann to Edwards Ferry, via Great Falls. Scenery rough and grand.


Find a spot for camp well shelter from wind. have a detail of Mass. S. S.

Dec. 13

Inflated the balloon working all night.

Dec. 15

Gen. Stowe makes an ascension. Visit camp of 7th Michigan.

Dec. 19

Mr. Seaver  wishing to examine the valve of the balloon shears were rigged from two trees and a seat hung from a block by which he was raised above it and then swung with a guy the shears being moved forward at the same time until he obtained a good view of the valve, and packing,. This examination was made because from the rapid escape of gas on the first night after inflation there was reason to suspect some one had been tampering with it. On opening the balloon during inflation the folds at the lower part clung together with much tenacity requiring some exertion to separate them. No doubt the varnish was torn out.

Dec. 28

Mr. S. has become nearly sick beside being homesick. We occupy a house some one - fourth mile from camp. Mr. S., myself and Mr. Prendergalt, an Irishman of education, a fine singer, and a good story teller. We have some jolly times here. Sam Porterfield, one of our party was formerly a traveling  jig-dancer and "a fellow of infinite jest" (Hamlet). He cannot write, and I have written many a letter for him home to his wife, full of pathos and affection, and of interest in everything relating to her welfare, and within two days perhaps I have seen him so drunk he could scarcely stand - and why go further - this is bad enough - but not the worst by any means. We having free run of Washington on our duty had opportunities of seeing and doing about as we pleased. Poor Sam. He was wounded at Malvern Hill and died of lock - jaw brought on by free use of liquor after getting to Philadelphia. Lt Laidd of the 7th Mich. was another jolly fellow, but one who did not take one drop of liquor. In the old house we would have quite a concert at times and then get the colored folks who occupied the back part to come in and Sam would get them all from the old "Uncle" to the smallest pickaninnie to dancing. i found some very fine fellows in the detail which was Sanders S.S. of Mass. Mr. S. was unfortunate in the opening of his career as aeronaut in thinking he must indulge in the free and easy style of some of the officers. The scenery here is fine. The Potomac, the Ohio and Chesapeake Canal, old Sugar Loaf and Eastern range of the Blue Ridge on Cattoclin Mts. Bulls Bluff is but a short distance from our camp and we see the men who were there. We see their General, Gen. Stone. But from what I have seen of him I cannot believe him guilty of what he is charged with. I was up in a balloon one day. While here we managed finely in regard to rations and quarters. We found many persimmons in the woods, which with the squirrels and chickens and fresh pork make very good living. This seems to be a grand old country. On some farms there are great stacks of wheat, which seems to have been the crop of three or four years. The soil is a red clay making splendid mortar for winter quarters of thatch. The 7th Mich. of logs covered with shingles, on three sides of a square with officers quarters on the open side.

Dec. 30

Stormy weather. Mr.  Seaver almost down with fever.

Dec 31st

Clear in morning. Prepare to inflate. Mr. S. improves with excitement. No wind.


Balloon Camp

Falmouth, Va.

Library of Congress

Jan. 1

No wind during the night. Make an ascension with Mr. Seaver some 300 feet in the morning. Not power enough in the Balloon to carry us higher. Go to Gen Stone's Hq. Qrts. Poolesville for rations. capt. J.H. Stiener supersedes Capt. Seaver.

Jan. 2

Our detail of Sharpshooters leave to go with Gen. Lander.

Jan. 3

Walk to Poolesville 7 miles to have a pass signed, then to camp of the 19th Mass., then on down the Canal to within about 9 miles of Washington. Very tired we seek lodgings at several houses along the Canal but find no accommodations. at last find a picket of the 62 New York Fire Zouaves, where we pass the night under shelter at least.

Jan. 4

Arrive in Wash. and go over to regiment. Stop over night at 22nd Mass. Comrades from Reading.

Jan. 5

Meet my old comrades of the Mich. 4th. See the Adjutant and Chaplain.

Jan. 6th

See Col. Woodbury and return to Washington. See Hon. F. C. Beaman, Mr. C., from Adrian.

Jan. 12

Making drawings of Inflating apparatus used by Prof. Lowe.

Feb. 1

During the few days past I find nothing written down. I am quartered at the Columbian Armory, Washington, making drawings so much of the time as I choose. There are some 300 girls engaged in making cartridges here.

Met Mr. L. G. Berry Rec'd a photograph.


Looking at Photographic Albums. Bought, etc. Sent one home.

Sam Porterfield has just returned from a visit home. Most of the Balloon boys have been home. I have not because I am only a common soldier and I think I ought to be an officer by this time, but there has been few vacancies.

E. Mason Jr. private secretary for Prof. Lowe is quite a favorite with our party. He is the "Our Ned" of the story papers and a very genial, social, companionable sort of person.

Feb. 27th

Serg't Eaton and party go to Pohick Church with a balloon.

March 2, Sunday

Movements indicate an advance on Manassas r an attempt to draw the rebels from the place. A strong force is sent to Harpers Ferry. Army of the Potomac have two days cooked rations.

March 9

A balloon ordered over the river. Inflated the Union after 5 o'clock and towed it to Fort Corcoran.

March 10

Advance. Army of the Potomac. I remain at Washington.

John Bancroft's sketch of the balloon apparatus as well as a photo

provided by Donnalyn Yates and the National Archives

Columbian, Armory

Washington, D. C.

February 10, 1862

Sergeant Bancroft:

    You will report the detail consisting of three members of Michigan Regt. under your charge to the Regiment, their services not being required on balloon business for the present.



T. S. C. Lowe

Chief Aeronaut

Pe. Mason Apt.

    "Our Ned"

March 12

Prof. Lowe returned from Manassas.

March 13

Balloon ordered to Ft. Monroe.

March 15th

Mr. S. Started today for Ft. Monroe. Heavy rain storm. The army marched from Fairfax to Alexandria in the rain.

March 16th

Called on Adjutant Earle who is now recovering from a fever. The army are preparing to leave Ft. Monroe.

March 17

Visit the regiment at Camp California near Cloud's Mill, Va. near where we encamped in July, 1861 previous to Bull Run. An immense Army.

March 23d

Preparing to leave.

March 24th

Working for some definite appointment on Balloon Service. There seems to be no way of bringing about such a change. Mr. Lowe's father is one of our party.

March 28th, Friday, One year since.

Mr. T. H. Hinchman of Detroit called. Visited the Smithsonian, Col. Macomb, Alexandria, etc. Saw Gen. McClellan on board a steamer, reading the paper. Neat, manly, and firm, not careworn. Visited Mr. Granger, Rep. from Mich., the Green Houses in the Public Gardens, etc.

March 29th

With Mr. T. H. Hinchman.

March 31st

Visited the Aqueduct Bridge at Georgetown by Gen. Meigs with T. H. H. Mr. H. leaves for New York.

April 5th

Still troubled as since last October with Liver Complaint. this is one reason so little has been written.

April 6th

Visit Georgetown Heights. Fine residences. Fine view from the Reservoir.

April 8th

Wrote letters. Raining and snowing.

April 10th

Meet Mr. La  Mountain, Aeronaut.

April 16th

Started with Balloon Alexandria to Cartlett Station, Va.

April 17th

Report to Col. Macomb. Muddy. Gen Augers Brigade march to Fredericksburg.

April 18th

Gen. Patrick's Brigade follows Augers today. Gen. Arbriecrombie's Brigade advance to the river and are now shelling the enemy. McCall's Division have come up.

April 19th

No movements. Stormy. Cold

April 20th

No movements today. Stormy. Cold. Unpleasant.

April 21st

Gen. McDowell removes Hd. Qrts. to Fredericksburg. Raining hard all day. Balloon, etc., sent to Alexandria to wait further orders. About 250 sick soldiers are waiting and go upon the same train. Bridge at Bull Run washed away. Have to wait at Manassas until Wednesday.

April 22nd

Waiting at Manassas. Walk out in the Centerville R. R. to Bull Run. Bridge burnt. Stroll among the deserted rebel camps. Plenty of dead horses and graves.

April 23rd

Go to Bull Run. Cross on foot bridge and get on train for Alexandria. Hurrah! Once more within the lines of civilization. Of the 250 sick soldiers who left Calette Station three have died. Go to Washington to my home for some months, the Columbian Armory.

April 24th

Cleaning of the mind. Board at a German restaurant on Seventh St.

April 25th

Go to Alexandria. See Mr. Suzer, Aeronaut

April 28th

See Lt. Col. Macomb.

May 2d

Visit office of Supervising Architect Treasury  Department.

May 3d

Serg't C. J. Eaton arrived from Fortress Monroe. Sick.

May 4th

Very pleasant.

May 5th

Start for Aquia  Creek with balloon. Mr. La Mountain.

May 6th

Go to Bell Plain, 8 miles below Aquia in charge of balloons. Land and stop for the night.

May 7th

Sleepless night. Start for Fredericksburg with train of about 12 wagons and 20 men to keep balloon tanks from upsetting, as the roads are very bad. Pines. Report at Gen. McDowell's Hd. Qtrs. at the Lacy  House. Here is where Washington cut the cherry tree. It is one of the fine old Mansions. Brick brought from England. Trees in the yard and in the ravines on each side of the house in which are fine springs. Fine view of the old town of Fredericksburg. Pontoon bridge, rubber boats filled with air, also bridge of canal boats. With Mr. La Mountain the Aeronaut I met Mr. Haddock who made a voyage in a balloon from St. Louis at one time.

May 10th

Visit the town of Fredericksburg.

May 11th Sunday

Going to Washington.

May 14th

Meet Everett Eaton at Col. Beckwith's office. Sergt't C. J. Eaton

of our balloon party sick with Typhoid fever at Mrs. Van Arsdale's. Stay all night with him. Storm.

May 15

Go to Aquia Creek.

Federal Depot

Aquia Creek, Va.

Library of Congress

May 16

Go to Fredericksburg and get permission to return to Washington.

May 18

C. J. Eaton died in the morning. C. J. Eaton, West Arlington, Bennington Co., Vermont

Prof. Lowe was the cause of this to a great extent. Arrive at Wash. 8 p.m.

May 21st

Mr. Eaton and Brown arrive to convey the body home, it having been embalmed, Jennie Evans, Charley's affianced, mourns,

May 22nd

Get a pass at Col. Macomb's office. Many errands. Thermometer 98 degrees.

White House, Virginia

29 May, 1862


Sergeant Bancroft

Washington, D. C.

    Dear Sir & Friend,

    Your letter concerning the sickness of Sergt. Eaton was rec'd. from Prof. Lowe yesterday by one of the teamsters and I have written the Prof. concerning the same. I am very sorry for Charlie and I think Mr. Lowe's father very much to blame to promise him promotion when he knew such a thing out of his power. I believe the promise of Lowe, Senior, a great agency in producing Charlie's sickness and depression. The Prof. sent down to me yesterday for acid and iron and also sent for Hodges, Welch, Trumbull, and Starkweather, leaving Bob, Frank, and Dick on the Boat. The Boat ("Rotary") is about to make another pleasure excursion of two or three weeks to Phila. and as the Prof. will, in all probability, accompany the Boat, leaving me with the Balloons as heretofore, I shall be pretty busy.

    I find that we are unable to obtain a cent of money from Prof. Lowe and he is, I think, trifling with us, as we (Seaver, Allen and myself) have been under necessity of petitioning him for pay and from the 17th of May until today receive no satisfaction. Mr. Lowe's father says he doubts that we will even be paid, says the appropriation is extended, etc., which is consoling news for our families now suffering for want of money. I would like very much to be transferred to Col. Macomb of Prof. La Mountain either as Aeronaut or Asst. I have been constantly in charge of balloon and have had my pay raised to the other aeronauts wages. All well -- Bob and Billy have been quite unwell but are now nearly convalescent. The boys are with Allen some 15 or 18 miles from here towards Richmond. I hope Charlie is improving. I think Prof. ought to do something for him and I shall press the matter firmly and persistently for Charlie was a good, faithful, honest, capable man and worth a 1000 such men as Mr. L. senior, Freno and such trash.

    Please do what you can for me wi6th Col Macomb and La Mountain, for I am determined to leave Prof. Lowe and his reckless mismanagement.

    Capt. Seaver, Bob, Frank send best regards.

    I trust you will get along and obtain for yourself such a position as your talents command.

    I should be pleased to hear from you direct.

    E. Mason Jr.


    Fortress Monroe, Va.

            Yours truly,

            E. M. Jr.

May 23rd

Go to Aquia Creek and to Fredericksburg in the cars.

Great review - Pres. Lincoln and M. Mercier, French Minister, review the Army of the Rappahannock. Gen. Shields from Shenandoah has joined McDowell.

May 24th

Cold and rainy. Freezing almost.

My regiment, the 4th Mich. engaged in a skirmish at New Bridge in the Chickahominy near Richmond. They cross the river and drive a Brigade of Rebels holding it. Two killed, eight wounded, Rebels have 150 killed and wounded. This is the first active engagement they are in.

May 25th Sunday

Shields returns to Catletts Station. His Train consists of 864 wagons,11000 men. Ord's division follow, king's division across the river, Stonewall Jackson is after Banks at Harpers Ferry, and we have got him. Ord's division follow. King across the river. A very busy Sunday. No enemy near, Very pleasant.

May 26th

McCall's division move to, and a portion cross the river. Gen. McDowell out visiting deserted rebel camps. On his return he goes to Washington.

May 27th head quarter move to Aquia Creek and thence to Alexandria and Manassas.

May 28th

Get by request from Col. McComb papers ordering me to my regiment now on Chickahominy before Richmond, from which I have been absent since Nov. 1st, 1861.

May 29, 30, 31, June 1

I remain in Washington. Call on Mrs. Col. Woodbury, a very handsome and lovely lady. She seems to have a great deal interest in the regiment.


The bearer Sergt. J.H. Bancroft Mich Vols. is on duty under orders of Col McComb A. D. C. at Hd. Qrs. of Maj.-Gen. McDonall. Let his pass on the train for Aquia today.

May 27th 1862

(Signed) J. N. McComb

Col. A. D. C.

Chp. Top'l. Eng. Dept. Rapp.

June 3

Leave Alexandria 1 o'clock p. m. Down the Potomac. Stop below Mathia's Point. Storm all night. On a propeller lowed with provision for the Army. Sleep very comfortably in the passage was through the boat in front of boilers.

June 4th

Start again. Pass Blackstone Island light. Storm, rain, and mist. Repass light. River wide and rough. Cannot see banks for fog. Start again. Pass Pine Point Lighthouse. Come to anchor in St. Mary Harbor, where the water is quiet and calm. Several sloops and steamers laying here. Schooners loaded with engines, cars, and R. R. supplies for the army. Scene: a fine quiet plantation, a very picturesque windmill for grinding corn,

June 5th

Out past the light ship in the waters of Chesapeake Bay. Pass steamers and schooners bound down the Bay. Enter York River. Pass Yorktown with its forts, guns, and vessels, about 200, waiting orders up the river. June a splendid country up York River. Come to anchor near West Point.

June 6th

Pass West Point, nine houses, a water battery and R. R., up the crooked marshy, swampy river Pamunky. Stream Obstructed at one place with sunken vessels. Masts of vessels can be seen in all directions, over the tree tops. Twelve o'clock arrive at White House. Meet old companions on the balloon barge. A large number of wounded arrive on the cars and are placed on board ocean steamers to be taken to New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore from the battle of "Seven Pines" or "Fair Oaks". Very warm.

June 7

Started for Dispatch Stations. Walked thence to the regiment ten miles. Storm and rain. Clear. Joyous welcome. Old faces. Home again. Visit balloon camp near Dr. Gaines' Home.

Here starts Bancroft's entries about the build up to, and his participation in the "Seven Days Battles"

June 8

Camp at Gaines Mill, Va. Regiment on picket. All quiet.

June 9

Review in afternoon by Gen. Prim, a Spanish General. All quiet. A little cannonading in the afternoon.

June 10

Raining. Very unpleasant. We now live in little shelter - tents which seem to me quite small. Places for three --- George Healts, Sergt. Kidd and myself. Firing in afternoon over the Chickahoming.

June 11

Clear and pleasant. Been out to view the Chickahominy. All quiet.

June 12

Very pleasant and warm. On guard. Very hot. Occasional firing. Rumors of Fremont whipping Jackson. Ordered to have three days rations and be ready to move at a moments notice.

June 13

Very warm. Heavy firing on the left for two hours in the morning. Regiment go on picket at New Bridge on the Chickahominy. Cavalry (Rebel) in rear.

June 14

Very smoky and warm. Get on picket. Mosquitoes not favorable to sleep.

June 15

Find eight dead rebels in the river. This is where the regiment fought May 24th. Co. K divide a rebel jaw-bone to send teeth to the rural districts. Return from picket. Rain shower.

June 16

Cool and comfortable.

June 17

Out in Fatigue duty building bridges for Siege Guns. At 10 o'clock heavy firing on the left. Heavy volleys by pickets during the night.

June 18

Battalion Drill. Very warm and close. Franklin's division on the move. The river very low again. Sick.

June 19

Very warm. Third Brigade, Franklin Div. cross the Chickahominy. Visit with Vreeland 8th Illinois Cavalry to see Dr. Heard and get some medicine from him. Gen. Horsell sends me to Prof. Lowe to sketch from balloon. Too much wind to make an ascension. Heavy firing from Battery opposite New Bridge.

June 20

Warm and pleasant, Heavy firing. Shot fall near camp.

June 21

Sick. Dr. gives me mercury and morphine.

June 22


June 23

Tincture Sulphuric acid. Afternoon morphine and whiskey.

June 24

Morphine and whiskey. Feel some better. Stop vomiting. Shower in the morning. Five siege guns are placed in position near Dr. Gaines.

June 25

Do not use any morphine or whiskey. Weather cool and windy. Batteries firing.

June 26

Nitrate of silver. Ordered to take my blankets and come up to the hospital. Meet Col. Woodbury in going to quarters and he informs me that they have sent inquiring for a draftsman from Gen. McClellan. i inform him I would like to go. Do not feel very well. Write to M. H. Very hot. All quiet. Marching orders. march to Mechanicsville and fight. Advance by the left flank. Sleep on field.

(Gaines Mill)

Gaines Mill Battlefield 2005. Union Battery in background.

 Website author David Prince in fore ground

June 27

Up early in the morning. March to the rear to our old camp. Pack up. Move burn stores and send wagons to the rear over the Chickahominy. Go Back about one and one half miles and form in line to check the enemy. Leave our knapsacks and never see them again. Have a heavy battle. "Gaines Mill" and the brigade on our left breaking. Retreat with great loss. Capt. Depug and others. Reforces and the Irish Brigade come in and drive the Rebs. back while our artillery give them a lively shelling. Sleep on sand without my blanket. Woke up about 1 o'clock and crossed the river. One of those awful marches. Night marches where we move 150 or 100 ft. to rest ten minutes or one-half hour. We have no tents to speak of either. Sleep in open field. Are routed up to clean our arms for inspection. Am sick myself.

June 28

During the day march past savage Station where are our wounded boys. Walk with others and encamp after passing White Oak swamp. During the night a gentle shower. Also a stampede which does not result in anything serious.

June 29

We turn out to corduroy the swamp. We march one and one-half miles after which we wait most the day. March at night with one or two stampede. March and wait, and march and wait and then counter march. May you never experience how tired we were. Sleep about one hour near morning and get up to march two or three miles to the James River.

(Malvern Hill)

Looking down from one of the 4th Michigan's positions at Malvern Hill.

picture taken by Dave Prince

One of the homes that the 4th rested near during the Malvern Hill battle.

( Possible location where the 4th waited to be ordered into the battle)

picture taken by Dave Prince

June 30

Arrive at the James River. Sleep and rest 'till afternoon. When tired and weary we are called out across the swamp and up the hill again to form a line of battle. I am sick and excused by the Dr. but I cannot bear to leave the regt., so I go along up the hill. "Malvern Hill" 'Turkey Bend. We form in line. A battery opens on the left which is silenced by ours. Heavy fighting on the right. Prisoners brought in."

July 1 Battle Malvern Hill

Move to front on the extreme left to protect a battery. Change position often during day. Heavy fighting on the right. Very hot during day. We are in a wheat field. Cover myself with straw to keep out the heat. Boys killing and cooking pork. At last near dark they come in force to try us. We hold them. Wave our colors. Lose Col. Woodbury and many officers and men. Are relieved and go to rear when our ammunition is gone. Our troops hold the ground. Fall Back during the night to the James River. Marching most all night. When we come back to the rear during the fight we rested near a large house used as a hospital and signal station and as Hd. Qrts. during part of the day. Tired, sore with loading and firing. We lay down in the dust. Many of the men were wounded and they could get no sight of the Surgeons who were busy with the worst cases. Lieut. Gordon was struck in the shoulder in the first of the fight and I tied his handkerchief. on his arm. He kept with us all night. We did not leave the place for some time. On the shells were flying and the musketry continued lively until nearly 10 o'clock. We did not mind it much. At least most of us went to sleep. We were soon routed and marched to the river and down to Harrison's Landing. It was very tedious, tiresome march, after all our marching by night and fighting by day of the week previous. It was long after daylight when we reached the open field and then in the midst of a shower, with rebel artillery behind us, we waded through mud and sought to erect some shelter. Vreeland and myself got a house of rails and wheat and lay all day in the rain resting.

July 2

Very heavy shower. Sick with dysentery at last. No use in trying to go any further. Regiment move out in line of battle as the rebels shell us and I lay in my tent. Go to the Hospital in a barn. Take opium and tannin and have dreams and headache.

July 3

Rumor says we are in pursuit of rebels. We do not know what the real state of matters is. Remain in hospital.

July 4 & 5

Remain in hospital

July 6

Remain in hospital. Feel better. Dr. Clarke orders that the sick or wounded shall no meat.

July 7

Left hospital and went to Regiment. Acting Orderly, Sergt., Vreeland being now acting Lieut. Very warm. Have to sleep two or three hours every noon. Feel the opium. Dreamy. Our camp is in the woods. The open plain between us and the landing covered with wheat the morning we came is now one field of mud.

July 8

Work all day on Muster Rolls. Feel tired. Turn out at night for a Review by the President by moonlight. Very tired and weak.

July 9

Drawing clothing and issuing to the men. Very warm.

July 10

Writing on Rolls.

July 11

Finish Rolls. See Henry Houseman of 32 Mass. just arrived from Ft. Warren.

July 12

Regimental Inspection. See Hamilton Temple of Reading

July 14

Dr, Chamberlin returned from taking care of wounded.

July 15

Muster for pay.

July 16

Regiment on Fatigue Duty. Shower

July 17


July 18

Down to landing

July 19

Cool and rainy.

July 20

Letter from M. H.

July 21

So many men sick that we move camp into open field. Very busy. Some trouble in laying out camp and getting things in line. Do not feel able to do more than I can avoid.

July 28

Wrote to S. F. H. St Louis.

July 29

Paid charges on box for Heintzen. Brandy, whiskey, etc. taken care of by Vreeland and myself.

July 31

Rebel shelled us last night from over the river. Grand Stampede!!! It was written up in the papers.

Aug. 2

Regiment over the River.

Aug 3

Most like Sunday of any in the army for a long time. No service.

Aug. 4


Aug 5

Very warm sultry weather and with dutie of orderly requiring constant activity and attention. With the weakness remaining from my sickness I find nothing written for several days. We do nothing save what is necessary for health and that takes most our time. We scarcely know how the country does stand. We all have faith in Gen. McClellan.

A day in camp in summer is very much as follows---


Policing of streets


One hour's drill by Company

Guard Mounting

Working and Policing parties fatigue

Cook , eat and sleep 'til 3 0'clock

Drill, Dress Parade, Rations

Supper, bathing, washing of clothes

Cleaning muskets, writing rolls, letters

Reading papers etc.

Aug 8

Visit 6th Regular Cavalry. See Sergt. Ladd and Knapp of Adrian, Mich.

Aug 10

Marching orders. Pick up, send baggage on board transports. Blankets and all in many cases. I retained only a light rubber blanket.

Aug 11

Marching orders. Sleep without rations.

Aug 12 & 13

Marching orders.


Aug. 14

Marching orders. Fall in immediately after dress parade. Start at 10:30 o' clock. March about 80rds and lie down in the dust without any command to halt and remain until morning. This gives little rest.

Aug. 15

March out beyond the works. March all day and nearly all night. Sleep an hour or two in a cornfield sitting down in the dust. Cross the mouth of the Chickahominy early in the morning and halt. Throw off straps and belts and enjoy a glorious bath in the Chickahominy. The Pontoon we crossed on was the longest ever laid. Went to breakfast, then sat or lay down to ready and study "Waterloo" in "Les Miserable's". This is a very interesting description. Read it to understand it and you can then understand battle descriptions.

Aug. 16

March at 4:30 p.m. Level and in some cases sandy country bordering on the James River. March - - - March!! March!!! all night long through interminable forests. all I can see is a white roll (a shelter tent) across the shoulders of a man before me and I make almost superhuman efforts not to lose sight of it while the next behind me is so far behind I do not hear him. Sometimes I pass a worn out one who has made up his mind to stop any how. On! On --- On --- What keeps us moving? We halt a short distance from Williamsburg about midnight and then go on for it takes a long time for the column to close up. Williamsburg is a Virginia town seat  of William and Mary's College. We pass the town by moonlight tired and weary. Finding it impossible to keep up, most of the company having fallen out. One man and the two Lieutenants. I fell out and when we got to the fortifications beyond Williamsburg, seeing no one  before or behind, stopped for the night. In a few moments one of the sergeants of my Company came up and stopped with me.

Aug 17

Leave Williamsburg at daylight for Yorktown. Found camp of the regiment within 80 rods of where we stayed during the night. Pass the graves of the battle ground of Williamsburg. We find 24 pound gun in pond in the woods and inform the Quartermaster accompanying the train. Arrive at Yorktown about 4:00 o'clock p.m. Find the Division in camp upon the same ground they encamped last spring.

Aug 18

Leave for Hampton 8 a.m. Road very dry and dusty. After a hard days march arrive at 5 o'clock. Bathe in salt water.

Aug 19

Up early. tired and sleepy. Up to march in half an hour. No coffee. Soft bread and whiskey. March to Newport News. Get a shirt by mail which is very acceptable in present circumstances. Bathe in salt water. Go on the boats down Hampton Roads. See masts of the Cumberland. Pass Fortress Monroe and Rip Raps.

Aug 20

Wake in Potomac. Land at Aquia Creek. March to Potomac Creek Bridge. Very hot

Aug 21

March to the Rappahannock and encamp three days. rations go to Falmouth. Lay in the road all night.

Aug 22

March from Falmouth to Ellis' Ford on the Rappahannock. Twenty miles. Heavy firing at Rappahannock Station to the north. Only three men to stack arms when we go into camp. The rest stopping on account of the heat, and dust. Encamp in wheat field near the Ford where are an abundance of small stones making it not very easy finding a place to pitch a tent and to lay down. Heavy shower.

 Aug 23

Marching orders. Heavy firing. River too deep to cross. rations short. No forage. Country hilly and rough, springly, apple trees, etc. Shower at night.

Aug 24

Inspection. Marching orders 11 o'clock.

Aug 26

waiting Very hot.

Aug 27

Started from Barnetts Ford. Cross the R. R. at Bealton. Go to Warrenton Junction. Battle at Briston --- Gen. Hooker.

Aug 28

Up at very early hour long before daybreak. Get about a half mile from camp and can get no further until after daybreak (7:30) 0' clock. March to Briston. Cross the battlefield and encamp. Heavy firing to the north. No mail since Aug. 14th.

Aug. 29

 March to Manassas Junction. Then march out to the R. R. toward Manassas Gap. Firing toward the mountains. Battle going on. Under the shell today. Not engaged as Infantry. Firing mostly to the right. Counter-march and counter-march on picket.

Aug. 30

Pickets withdraw early in the morning, the division having gone during the night. Draw one day's rations. March to Manassas then over Bull Run and stop half hour for breakfast. No coffee, since yesterday morning. Go on to Centerville. Pass through the fortifications and go out in a valley on a beautiful stream to the north. Get plenty of corn and apples. Fighting towards mountains. Get one day's rations and start for the front. Smith's and Franklin's men pass us going to the front. Meet soldiers and wounded coming from the field. Countermarch. Porter's Corps engaged except our Brigade. Left wing turned. Slight panic. After dark army all come back onto Centerville Heights. Are a long while getting into place for the night. Sleep on Centerville Heights.

Aug. 31

Go to the right, form line of battle facing open plains. Await an attack until 3:00 p.m. Rumored that McClellan is again in command.

Sept. 1

During afternoon receive eighty rounds of cartridges. Rain. Fall in after dark. Sleep in line.

Sept. 2

Up at 12:00 0'clock. March forty rods. Stormy, windy, and cold. Leave the works daylight Tuesday morning, Centerville. Go to Vienna, to Lewisville, to Langley. Arrive 10 o'clock evening. Encamp in cultivated field. Roast corn. Fires of rails. Sleep.

Sept. 3

Got to Miners Hill. Old camp of 1861 and 'til March of 62. Many a brave fellow gone to his long home. Many broken bones. Many weary aching miles.

Sept. 4

Writing Pay Rolls. Out in line of battle. Reconnaissance by Rebel Cavalry. Get mail for the first time since Aug. 14th.

Sept. 5th

Writing Pay Rolls. Expect to be here for some time.

 Here starts the 4th Michigan Infantry's involvement in the Antietam Campaign

Sept. 6

Muster on the Rolls. Marching orders. Go to Falls Church and to Upton Hill. Arrive at 2:00 pm. Sleep most of the day.

Sept. 7

Lie in line of Battle during the night. Outer line of Forts being dismantled. Move forward on picket.

Sept. 8

On picket, Potatoes and corn.

Sept. 9

On picket. Knapsacks come up from Ft. Corcoran, which we have not seen since Aug. 12th.

Sept. 10

Pass other picket. Cloudy.

Sept. 12

March from Falls Church to Washington, thence to Rockville. Various rumors about our destination. Very hot.

Sept. 13

March through Rockville, Beautiful country. A garden compared with the desert we have been traveling through.

Sept. 14

marching through Centerville, Hyattsville, toward Frederic. Heavy firing westwards of Monocacy River and Sugar Loaf Mt.

Sept. 15

Leave Frederic. Go to Middletown over the hills. Beautiful scenery, and country. Stop near the battlefield of the previous day. Good bathing. Meet prisoners and see a great many wagon trains.

Sept. 16

Middletown to Boonsboro to Gettysville to vicinity of the battlefield. Great army. Many soldiers, Encamp near Gen. McClellan's Hd. Qrtrs.

Sept. 17

Go forward to support batteries. Twenty pd. Parrotts. Rumors and excitement. Get some glimpses of the smoke and changes of the lines from the hills. We turn. Rebel left and light batteries and cavalry go forward. Burnside crossing stone bridge. Antietam Creek

Sept. 18

Bury dead under flag of truce while Rebels cross the Potomac. Regiment got to the left and division join Burnside.

Here starts Bancroft's account of 4th's engagement of  elements of Lee's rear guard at  Shepardstown Ford

Sept. 19

Advance through Sharpsburg. Nearly every house struck with solid shot or shell. Things look rough. Rebels have stripped houses of everything. Union sentiment is strong. As we go through women point out houses of those who have given the Rebels shelter and where rebel flags are concealed. Children swear vengeance. Go out beyond town. Rebels are on oppisite side of river. Two companies are ordered out as sharpshooters. Toward night the regiment is ordered to cross the river and take a battery which is disputing the passage. Sharpshooters along the bank. Capt. Gordon is wounded. While going down to the river a fragment of a shell strikes the man in front of me taking the top of his head and killing him instantly. We lose but few men in the crossing. The river is some 500 feet wide and is not very warm. after driving away the Rebels we return and try to dry ourselves and get some coffee.

Sept. 20

Cross the river again at daybreak to show the other troops the way. Boys forage. Get flour, geese and turkeys and return, recross the river. After we cross the Rebels drive our men back, sending the 118th Pa. down the river bank. We are brought up in line of battle and remain all day wet and weary. Beautiful country.

Sept. 21

Beautiful day. All quiet in the morning.

Sept. 22 & 23

Go into camp.

Sept. 24

On picket on the river banks.

Sept. 28

Commission as 1st, Lieut. dated this date, Co. K

Sept 27

Geo Parker 13th mass. in camp

Sept 28

On picket duty opposite Shepardstown, Va.

Sept 30

Write S. F. H. St Louis and home. Oct 2

General Review by the President and Gen, McClellan. Time very much taken up with duties of orderly sergeant.

Oct 8

Mich. 24th arrived.

Oct 9

Mail arrived. Letter from T. H. Hinchman, M. W. Chapin, Commdg. Brig. at Louisville, Ky.

Oct 17

Returned from Picket.

Oct 25

In camp at Sharpsburg. Sick, cold and chilly.

Oct 26

Cold, chilly. Wish I was at home. I think this the only place or time when this wish was expressed.

Oct 28

Enrolled by ordered of Col. Childs on the rolls of  Co. K as 1st Lieut. to date of Sept. 28th, 62. See Dec. 7th following.

Oct 30

Evening. Fall in. Break camp and march by moonlight to near Harper's Ferry. Act as Lieut. in Co. K.

Oct 31

Marched to Harpers Ferry. Crossed the Potomac and Shenandoah. Filed to the left down the river and up the mountain. At last came out in London Valley and into camp. Officer of the guard tonight.

Nov 1

Regiment are mustered for pay today. Work on pay rolls all day. No table. Oil cloth blanket on the ground. Present and absent in Co. k 60 men. Heavy firing south. Have some mutton.

Nov 2

Fall in early in the morning. Very hot. Long march to Snickers Gap. Over the hills very ruogh road. Windy at night. No blankets. No mail recently. See McClellan tonight. Cheers greet him on every side. Heavy firing in morning and in afternoon very distant.

Nov 3

Windy and cold. Plenty of sheep, fresh pork and apples.

Nov 4

On guard. Officer of the guard. Inspection by Gen. Griffin. Write home to M. H. and to G. M. Wight, Washington, D.C. Firing in the distance.

Nov 5

Cold, windy. Firing in the distance. Geo. L. Maltz officer of the guard. All quiet

Nov 6

Leave Snicker's Gap. pass through Middleburg and encamp.

Nov 7

Up early and go to White Plains. Encamp early. Snow hard. Have to scrape away the snow to pitch our tents. Very disagreeable. "I want to go home." No prospect of an end to the war. We all the war might have been ended had McClellan been reinforced at Richmond. Snow storm all day. Wet, melting and very disagreeable.

Nov 8

Strike tents early and march down the R. R. then south to Warrenton Junction and encamp.

Nov 9

Up at 4 o'clock. Strike tents at 6 a. m. March about two miles to Warrenton. Pitch tents. Gen. Griffin says we shall stay in camp until we get shoes and clothes as many of the men are without shoes.

Nov 11

McClellan deprived of command. Review 7 o'clock in the morning. Officer's of Porter's Corps meet to shake hands with Gen. McClellan. Never were they so disheartened with the aspect of affairs.

Nov 15

Review by Gen, Hooker. Clothing arrived.

Nov 16

All quiet. Pleasant weather. No mail. On coming we began making quarters at once, making use of boards from barns and houses, bricks, stone, etc. and appropriating all manner of culinary utensils from neighboring farm houses as usual. One week in camp. Service by our Chaplin, John S. Sage.

Nov 17

Up at 3 o'clock. March at daylight in a heavy mist. Tents and blankets heavy with wet. To Warrenton Junction ten miles and on towards Fredericksburg. Sick, Heavy march. Stop after dark in the rain in the woods. Meet Everett Eaton, Clk. Commissary Dept. Humphries Division from Wakefield, Mass.

Nov 19

Officer of the guard Countersign "Hudson". Rear guard on the march. Very tiresome. Encamp eight miles from Fredericksburg. No mail.

Nov 22 & 23

Rain. No mail

Nov 22

Cavalry passing.

Nov 23

March to east of Fredericksburg through woods, ravines, etc. Do not get into camp until after dark. Cold and Chilly night and frosty in the morning.

Nov 24

Mail in morning. Gloves by mail from G. M. Wight, Washington, D.C. Nov 8th

Nov 26

No rations. One hard tac each for supper.

Nov 27

"Thanksgiving Day" Breakfast and coffee. Get hard tac 1 o'clock p.m. Very thankful.

Nov 30

Officer of the Guard.

Dec 1

Visit Barnard, 20th Mich. Wm. A. Barnard, classmate at Dartmouth College 1859, who had been in the Land Office at Lansing, Michigan. In Camp near Potomac Creek Bridge on R. R. from Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg.

Dec 7

Receive a 2nd Lieut.'s comm. from Gov. Blair dating Sept. 3rd

(See Oct 28th and 30th a few pages previous)

Dec 10

Marching orders.


Bancroft now describes the 4th's participation in the "Battle of Fredericksburg."

  Dec 11

Shelling Fredericksburg. One continuous roar from 5 o'clock until dark. Artillery terrific. march to heights east of Fredricksburg. See Geo. E, Pingree, Capt. 11th N. H. 7th Mich. Infantry cross the river and get a footing in the town.

Dec 12 March down to the plains. Heavy firing near night. Moonlight. Gunboats and seige guns.

Dec 13

Open land down to left. Early 10 to 12 a. m. heavy opposite the town. afternoon we cross the river advance under fire out side the town. Into the smoke and dust of battle. Words cannot tell. We lost but few men but there are many of the field dead and dying. Relieve the 9th and 11th N. H. Lay all night on the cold damp ground, hearing the groans and calls of the wounded. Too cold to sleep.

Dec 14

Battle of Fredericksburg. Sharpshooting all day. Lay low all day. Almost every man who stands up is shot. How would you like it? Five regiments lying close to the ground and have to lay there all day long --- waiting--for what---thinking of what? On that bright December day---home, church and friends. Nothing to eat save what we have. No coffee or meat. No orders all day. Splendid Aurora Borealis in evening. Back to town in the evening. Draw rations in the dark. Lay down and sleep in the streets near the Railroad.

Dec 15

Lay in the streets of Fredericksburg all day. Removing wounded. Move to the right at night. House all open. Books, pianos, etc. free. Sleep in house for the first time since June 1st, Have a supper at night. Wake 3 o'clock and recross the river, in the rain. We go to our camp an the hill oppisite the town.

Dec 16

Early move in mud and rain to old camp on the hill near Potomac Creek Bridge. Begin fixing tents, etc. for the winter.

Dec 17 Fixing tents.

Dec 18

Assigned again to Co. I for duty.

Dec 19

General Inspection.

Dec 24

Writing description book. Boys fixing up the camp.

Dec 25

Christmas. Camp trimmed up.

Dec 30 & 31

Out on reconnaissance. 30---31 hours. 45 miles. 6 hours rest.




Camp near Falmouth. Lt. Col. Lombard and Col. Jeffords in command of the regiment. Gen. Burnside in command of the army.

Burnside's Mud March.

Jan 20

Strike camp after a week of preparation and go about two miles. Begins raining. Soon changes to snow.

Jan 21

Move on in mud and rain. Awful going. Go into camp in woods and build fires.

Jan 22

Mud and rain. Rebels over the river laugh at us. Return to camp near Falmouth.

March 10

Wrote to T, H, Hinchman. Snowstorm.

March 18

Flagstaff raised at camp.

March 19

Visit Bridge at Potomac Creek.

March 20

School of Tactics by Colonel Jeffords.

March 21

Lt Vreeland gone to visit Mrs. Dr. Heard at Pleasanton's Hd. Qrtrs. ( his sister ) Rain and snow.

March 26

Review of the 5th Corps by Gen. Meade. Gen Hooker passes through camp.

March 27

Very clear and fair.

March 28

1861 ---- M. H.

1862 ---- Never forget.

1863 ---- Anniversary.

One year more.

Mar 29

On picket. Cold but pleasant.

Mar 30

On picket. Very fair.

Mar 31

On picket.

Apr 3

Rev. Wm. Barrows called. Visit 22nd Mass with him and call on Adjt. Benson.

Apr 4

Saw Mr. Barrows again. Cold and windy.

Apr 5

Snow storm.

Apr 7

Review in camp by Abe Lincoln and staff. 12th New York refuse to cheer and call out for paymaster.

Apr 8

Grand review on the heights by the President in view of the Rebel camps.

Apr 9

General Inspection.

Apr 10

Muster to furnish data for Provost Marshall General for Conscription. Pleasant weather. Montieth appointed captain of Co. E

Apr 11

Officer of the Guard

Apr 12

Review by Swiss General.






to be continued


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