Chelmsford Historical Society
Daniel P. Byam, July 1864

Friday, July 1st, 1864

Were routed up at 3 o.c., packed up our duds and struck tents, then went to Mrs. Steinrodh adjoining our camp, where she treated us with fried cakes; after giving her three cheers we skedaddles for the boat that had just arrived, the splendid boat Magenta from N. Albany, Indiana; we had a lot of Signal stores to put aboard; did not start till noon; received a letter from Lysander just as we left. Passed gunboat No. 24; passed mouth of the Red River at 10 o.c.; arrived at Morganzia bend, the Hd. Quarters of Gen. Banks' Army, about 50,000 troops; the boat stopped to take off forage.


I went ashore to find the 26th Mass. R., but could not; saw 7th Mass. Battery. The tents were lighted up for 3 miles on the bank of the river–a fine sight. Left at 12 o.c.; had a good sleep; woke up at 5 o.c., just as we were passing Port Hudson. It is not much of a place. We pass a great many cotton fields and corn; chimneys standing of old cotton gins, also house chimneys, showing what war is doing for this part of the country. The boat is a fine one, very fast; it is her first trip; her cabins are fitted up in elegant style; carpets, also a piano; cost $25,000.

Saturday, July 2nd, 1864

Stopped at Baton Rouge this morning at 7 o.c.; did not go ashore; it looks like a nice place; saw a portion of the 6th Mass C on their way to N.O., bound home; saw the State House, but nothing remains but the walls and towers, having been burned out; found the Henry Ames and Belle of Memphis; passed Donalsmill, but nothing remains but chimneys,-our troops burnt it for the citizens having fired on our sugar plantations and mills all along the river; saw the cane growing and cornfields of hundreds of acres that stretched as far as the eye could reach.


At 3 o.c. we could discern the city of N.O. far ahead; for miles along the levee there was shipping of all kinds: gunboats, sailing vessels, ocean steamers; passed several boats loaded with troops bound for Banks' Army. At 4 o.c. we steamed up to the levee, which was crowded with N****s, White men, mules, etc., acres and acres of Gov. oats and hay lined the levee for miles. It was some time before we got off everything was in confusion, but at last we got off after going through the usual program always made in unloading and loading a boat; stopped on the levee an hour, then went to camp 4 miles on the C. and N. O. R. R.–splendid ground, large oak trees scattered over it; we there found 25 boys; took some tents already pitched. Waitt, Richmond, Meserve and myself took a tent after having coffee; we tried to sleep, but could not on account of mosquitoes; they are as large as robins!

Sunday, July 3rd, 1864

A beautiful morning, but very hot; dress parade by Capt. Denicke; written home; saw Nims Battery of Boston and the 9th Battery of Salem.

Monday, July 4th, 1864

The anniversary of our nation Independence, and away down here in Dixie, with nary a Red. Got a pass to the city; passed through the markets; plenty of melons and all kinds of fruits. Went to City Hotel to see Lieut. Camp. It is a very large city–splendid houses and streets. Not a very pleasant 4th.

Monday, July 5th, 1864

Went to the Surgeon to see about having the glass extracted from my hip; very warm; can hardly stand in the sun.

Wednesday, July 6th, 1864

Waitt and myself went down to the city and across the river to Algiers, the encampment of the 19th A. Corps.; found the 26th Mass. Regt. saw Charley Parkhurst and Woods and several other boys; they expect to leave soon, they don't know where. This large army is on the move.

Thursday and Friday, July 7th and 8th, 1864

On guard; live very high on water detail; get our water at the river.

Saturday, July 9th, 1864

Nothing to do. Received a letter from home by the way of Natchez–nearly a month since I had one. Very cool nights. We have mosquito bars.

Sunday, July 10th, 1864

Did not go to church. Wrote home. We hear of our moving again.

Monday, July 11th, 1864

On guard. Cloudy and rainy; written to Henry. The 26th Regt. has gone on board an ocean steamer; a secret expedition is fitting out something for Mobile; hear we are going to sign the pay roll.

Tuesday, July 12th, 1864

Was down town; saw Alpha Richardson; had a letter from home that was sent to Georgetown; was written in May; have lived on salt and potatoes the past week.

Wednesday, July 13th, 1864

Stable duty. We have an easy time. Quite cool and pleasant.

Thursday, July 14th, 1864

Had a pass to the city; was in Lafayette Square, a splendid place opposite Gen. Canby's Hdquarters; been round to the markets; had plenty of melons and figs.

Friday and Saturday, July 15th and 16th, 1864

On guard; very warm, but beautiful nights. 25 men arrived from Georgetown.

Sunday and Monday, July 17th and 18th, 1864

A beautiful Sabbath morning, quite cool; not well; have a violent headache all the time; received two letters from home and one from Hattie.

Tuesday, July 19th, 1864

Was down to the Surgeon's; 3 pills are a dose for wound and all kinds of sickness; passed Gen. Banks; were paid off, only 26 dollars.

Wednesday and Thursday, July 20th and 21st, 1864

Written home. We hear of 3 N. York steamers being captured by the Rebs.; was down town; hear of the 26th R arriving at Baltimore; on guard tonight; written to Maynard.

Friday, July 22nd, 1864

Received a letter and paper from home. The 25 boys that were on gunboats arrive.

Saturday and Sunday, July 23rd and 24th, 1864

Written to Laura; very pleasant; was down town; stopped in the St. Charles Hotel and had dinner.

Monday, July 25th, 1864

Received a letter from Sumner; am great deal better. A signal and telegraph train came in from Morganzia.

Tuesday, July 26th, 1864

Nothing fresh; quite cool. Capt. Denicke has been removed; glad of it.

Wednesday, July 27th, 1864

Was down to the City; went all over it–had quite a time.

Thursday, July 28th, 1864

A telegraph and Signal train of 60 men went today. My old Chum Waitt has gone.

Friday, July 29th, 1864

Sixty more men have been ordered to be ready to leave; on guard; mail came, but none for me.

Saturday, July 30th, 1864

Stable duty; have to ride our horses 2 miles to water down in the city; have a great deal of sport.

Sunday, July 31st, 1864

On guard. The boys that left are down to the City; they went as far as quarantine, when the engine broke; had to come back; they are bound for Mobile Bay.

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