Chelmsford Historical Society
Daniel P. Byam, February 1865

Wednesday, February 1st, 1865

Rainy. The river is about 5 feet higher than the street. 3 hours' drill now each day, rough as the devil. 24 new mules came today, wild and kicking ones. __ boys were knocked over–nearly killed them.

Thursday, February 2nd, 1865

Still rainy. Written to Harry. Report that the expedition is going to Texas; assigned men were inspected today. Walker has been relieved. I am not assigned, but am bound to go.

Friday, February 3rd, 1865

Very rainy and foggy; very unhealthy. Dennis and Davis die in the St. Louis Hospital. Dennis' mother came on before he died.

Saturday, February 4th, 1865

On guard. Very bad weather. Rainy all the time.

Sunday, February 5th, 1865

Inspection this morning by Strong and Higby. A great deal of style put on by Strong; he learned of old Russell at Georgetown. Field died this morning in the hospital, very sudden; he came in a Rhode Island squad.

Monday, February 6th, 1865

Foggy and rainy very unhealthy. It has continued so for most three weeks. Guiding Star and George Cromwell arrive tonight. Mail tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7th, 1865

It cleared off last night and is very fine today. Received a letter from Mother, 1 from Sumner, 1 from Newell. Hear the death of my uncle Josiah Byam; dropped down dead at Uncle Edwin's house.

Wednesday, February 8th, 1865

On guard. A beautiful night; full moon. should enjoy being home and have a sleigh ride. To hear on the fine times they are having in the village at home would make some homesick. Little they think or care for those that have left their homes to fight their battles, but I would not exchange places with a good many of them. Written to Mother.

Thursday, February 9th, 1865

Another beautiful day this afternoon. Had a mounted drill. Rode to the outskirts of the city; found the Marine Hospital; the building is some of Gen. Beauregard's planning. Had a gay gallop on the famous Shell Road. My nag lopes most beautifully.

Friday, February 10th, 1865

Splendid day. Was picked out with 8 others to perform escort duty over the body of Field to the boat, but an order came not to go till tomorrow; he was embalmed and will be sent to his parents in Rhode Island. Had a mounted drill under Lieut. Denicks; rode down to the battle ground famous for its being the scene of the War of 1812, where Jackson fought the British behind cotton bales. Part of the breastworks are visible yet, but the greater part are obliterated; saw the monument that was dedicated to the heroes that fell in that memorable fight. The works show the marks of a military genius that Jackson was endowed with; stopped at the Battleground coffee house. Being formed like a Virginia fence so as to protect the flank and rear. Would that Jackson were about now to take part in this terrible strife that is raging all over the land, and that America had many such men. Passed Barracks Hospital, a fine building and beautiful grounds orange trees loaded with sour oranges. It looked very nice.

Saturday, February 11th, 1865

Splendid day. Was picked out as orderly for Lieut. Strong, Emerson, the former one having orders to leave. Rode up town to Hdquarters with Strong, like it very well so far. Holmes and Finny and several others arrested for selling a revolver–am afraid it will go hard with them. Hildreth and myself got a mounted pass in the evening; rode around town; it was a fine moonlight night.

Sunday, February 12th, 1865

Rode out with several orders. Thousands of troops camped across the river, and thousands coming down know not where they are going. Went up to Dr. Newman's church this evening; listening to fine sermon by the Dr.; subject, The Model Wife; text, 1 Peter, 3 chap. 6 verse. A beautiful organ and fine singing as I ever heard. Saw Henry Emerson; he is in the Post Office. Phinney and Metcalf tied up for conversing with each other; they are not allowed to talk with any one.

Monday, February 13th, 1865

Rode up town with Strong to Gen. Canby's Hdquarters and several other places; swapped horses. Holmes, Phinney and Metcalf were taken to Borane St. prison. They are to be court marshaled. They each had 7 specifications and they cannot deny any of them. Commences to rain.

Tuesday, February 14th, 1865

A fine day. Very heavy thunder showers last night. Guiding Star arrives. Received a letter from Mother.

Wednesday, February 15th, 1865

Very warm. Rode up town with Strong this evening. Written home.

Thursday, February 16th, 1865

Rode up town. Several boatloads of troops came down today. The 76th Ill. started for Fort Morgan. They got in the Gulf when the mules stove one side of the boat. They have over 100 mules; they were all drowned. The troops came up today.

Friday, February 17th, 1865

Written to Sumner. Strong and 5 other officers with 2 men each (I went with S.; rode out on the Shell Road to the halfway house signaling; a short time opposite the cemetery. Had a bully gallop on the Shell road. S. told me I was going with him into the field. He picked me out a brand new saddle with all the fixings. When he starts he will have things in shape. I like him much, but some don't; anyway, he has straightened out this camp as it never was before.

Saturday, February 18th, 1865

Beautiful day. Rode up town; got a pass tonight; went to the theatre; the play was Addrine the Actress.

Sunday, February 19th, 1865

Cloudy; slight showers. Inspection was yesterday instead of today. Several regiments came down today. Hear that 6 officers are going on the expedition.

Monday, February 20th, 1865

Very windy. Have had nothing to do today. S. has picked out one more man. 27th Iowa lying close to the Press. Came from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Tuesday, February 21st, 1865

Cloudy and windy; commences to rain. Rode up town with a despatch. S. gave me permission to ride out tonight, but it is rainy. 23 large Missouri and Mississippi boats came down loaded with troops, about 15,000. They have been going down for a week. Mobile and Montgomery will have to knock under. Am waiting to go.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 1865

A drizzling rain all day. Have had nothing to do today. Received a valentine from some unknown person, a nice one it was. 55 boatloads of troops are lying down the river opposite the old battle ground. They are A. J. Smith's command. Salute fired in the city in honor of Washington's Birthday. The peace prospects seem to prove a failure. The peace the Rebs will get will be at the point of the bayonets, I guess.

Thursday, February 23rd, 1865

It has rained most all day. Strong has taken Tommy Taylor as one of his men, through my influence. He gave me privilege to take any other horse if I did not like the one I have, but I shall stick to old Reuben, I guess. He said they might go in ten days. Hope my box will come, for I want tobacco. Several hundred Reb prisoners left on the Diana opposite the barracks for Red River to be exchanged.

Friday, February 24th, 1865

Still continues rainy. Rode up to Ludwing's quarters on several errands; went to the Christian Commission; saw Addison Brown of Lowell. He gave me several books.

Saturday, February 25th, 1865

Very heavy thunder shower last night, but it has cleared off and it has been a beautiful day. Rode to town with Strong to Gen. Canby's headquarters.

Sunday, February 26th, 1865

Splendid day; mounted inspection; rode with S. to Canby's headquarters. Saw Gen. A. J. Smith. He paid me the picayune he owed me since we left Natchez. Went up to Dr. Newman's church. (Sent Mother a book.) Text: 1 chap. Ruth, 16 and 17. The subject was Ruth, or fidelity regarded. It was a splendid sermon.

Monday, February 27th, 1865

A disagreeable day; very foggy. Was up town; drew clothes. S. gave me a pass tonight. Went to the St. Charles theatre; was highly entertained. A pretty little row in the theatre between the sailors and the ____. Had a bully supper in the St. Charles restaurant.

Tuesday, February 28th, 1865

Mardi Gras day in New Orleans; biggest day in the year, and everyone dresses in all manner of costumes and masks, promenade the streets. Had a ride this evening. Mustered for pay.

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