Chelmsford Historical Society
Daniel P. Byam, May 1864

Sunday, May 1st, 1864

Looks like rain. Am not going to church today; written Newell; Hear of the draft ordered in Massachusetts. Bully for that!

Monday, May 2nd, 1864

It has been pleasant, but this evening we are having an awful wind and rain. The old tent rocks like a cradle, but we are gay and happy.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 1864

It cleared off last night and is very cold this morning and windy. Have written to Lysander; received a letter from home and have written one back.

Wednesday, May 4th, 1864

Have been on guard today. Had a fine day and night–very warm; I received a paper from home and Lysander.

Thursday, May 5th, 1664

A very warm day. 25 men left here at 5 o'clock for the Army of the Cumberland in Louisville, Kentucky.

Friday, May 6th, 1864

Warm day–comfortably; warm. Received a paper from Lysander. Gilson and myself, a fellow that was in the 6th Regt. 9 months, took a stroll down the banks of the Potomac. Heard that 150 men are going away next week.  

Saturday, May 7th, 1864

Awful hot–thermometer 100 in the shade. Have been down to Washington to see Maynard; he is no better. He was writing to me to bring his things down; I stopped to dinner, than came back, and Withum and I went down in the evening; he expects to start home tomorrow. Our passes run till 2 o'clock in the morning; loafed around Washington till 11 o'clock; took the cars for Georgetown; loafed around there a spell, than started for camp.

Monday, May 9th, 1864

Warm today; have not had to drill very hard today. Wounded soldiers arriving in Washington from the battles. We hear joyful news from the front: Rebels retreating!

Tuesday, May 10th, 1864

Not a very cold day on guard. 20 recruits arrived from Providence, Rhode Island. Received a letter from Lysander.

Wednesday, May 11th, 1864

Another not very cold day. Received a letter from home and one from Everett. Received pictures of Mary Bean and Sarah Spaulding.

Thursday, May 12th, 1864

–Heavy; thunder showers today. Received pictures of Gilson and Waitt, old lads; have given one of mine in return. 15 men gone off today, 2 of them came out when I did. ____Georgetown to express my baggage home. Hildreth and I have been to Washington tonight; went to the Canterbury Theatre; passes run till 1 o'clock.

Not a very cold day on guard. 20 recruits arrived from Providence, Rhode Island. Received a letter from Lysander.

Friday, May 13th, 1864

On guard; not very pleasant weather; for three days and nights thunder showers all the time. We hear of Grant whipping the Rebs, Lee whipped at every point. Bully!

Saturday, May 14th, 1864

A cloudy, but pleasant day. Am now in Washington, in the Capitol grounds; trees are leaved out, flowers are in blossom; everything is beautiful. Reached camp at 4 o'clock; have been picked out with 75 others for the front; expect to go tomorrow; don't know where.

Sunday, May 15th, 1864

Cloudy and rainy. 4,000 troops have just passed by for Grant's Army; expect to go today; have not been to church.

Monday, May 16th, 1864

Have signed the clothing roll; drew a revolver, and packed up our things ready to start. Capt. Denicke is going with us.

Tuesday, May 17th, 1864

Been waiting and waiting to leave; reports we go today, without fail–a report we go to the Army of Tennessee.

Wednesday, May 18th, 1864

At last we have heard the joyful news that we go in the morning.

Thursday, May 19th, 1864

The old bugle sounded at 3 o'clock to rout us up. After getting in line and giving three times three for the Adjutant (the Capt. not being anywhere), we started, not knowing where we were going, and, in fact, not caring–glad to get away. Arrived in Washington in season for the first train north; took cars on the Baltimore & Ohio R.R.; changed cars at the Relay House for Western Virginia. We got along very well to Cumberland, crossed the river at Harper's Ferry; had to cross in a boat, the bridge having been carried away by a storm. We left C. at 9 o'clock; when within ____ miles of Grafton, 250 from Cumberland and 100 from Wheeling, a rail broke and the 5 rear cars were thrown off the track (it was 3 o'clock in the morning). The car I was in rolled over 4 times down a bank 30 feet, and fetched up bottom side up in Three Fork creek. There were 50 Signal Corps boys in the car that went into the river; it was the only car that went in the water; as soon, as it, stopped the water rushed in and very soon filled the car partly with water. I was thrown against the stove, and knapsacks, were piled on top and covered with water. I had to struggle to catch my breath, which was hard work. I thought my time had come, but it was not so to be. The water covered up one side of the car, and on the other was up to the windows; to stove in the windows was but the work of an instant (but which seemed hours) and crawling on top of the bank. Those who were injured took the cars for Grafton where there was a hospital. Two boys were killed: one from S. Boston, the other from Ohio. I felt something in my hip, so I went to the hospital.

Friday, May 20th, 1864

I was taken to the Hospital–rather, walked and helped another man. I was wet completely through and covered with sand and mud. The Surgeon examined my wound and extracted a piece of glass 2 inches long, inch wide; besides, I received other injuries; after the glass was taken out I felt very sick; laid down; felt better; had a very good dinner and the best of care taken of me by the soldiers. They were West Virginians and good boys; had a good supper and tried to sleep.

Saturday, May  21st, 1864

I rested very well and am a good deal better than I thought I be. Several boys came up to see me. Capt. Denicke stopped at Martinsburg, but arrived last night at 12, the Sergeant having telegraphed to him. He came up to see me and said we should start at 2 for Wheeling. The Dr. said I stop a few days till I was better, but I have no idea of staying here behind–no knowing when I should see the rest of the boys, if I ever did.

The boys assisted me to the depot; laid round till 4 , the train being 4 hours behind; started for Wheeling, arrived there at 12. It was a splendid ride along the Allegheny and Cheat mountains; the scenery was beautiful; we passed through a great many tunnels under the mountains, some a half a mile through. The roads are very dangerous and they drive at frightful rate of speed. When we ran off the track we were going 40 miles an hour; it is a wonder any of us escaped as we did. On arriving at Wheeling we took quarters in the Soldiers Retreat, formerly an old theatre; went to the hospital; had my wound dressed.

Sunday, May 22nd, 1864

Had a good sleep and am much better. After a while Waitt and myself got out and looked round the city; it is between some mountains and very smokey; passed over the Suspension Bridge across the Ohio river, a splendid bridge 1010 feet long, about 200 feet to the water; the cables that support it are 7 inches through; came back and got dinner at the Swan house, then came back to our quarters; expect to leave soon.

Monday, May  23rd, 1864

Left Wheeling at 9 this morning on the boat to Bellaire, 4 miles up the Ohio river. On the way one fellow fell overboard, knap-sack and all, but we saved him, he only sustaining a good wetting but, creating a good deal of sport. At B. we took cars for Columbus; arrived at C. at noon; had a splendid ride through Central Ohio; passed Zanesville and other fine places; changed cars here for Cincinnati; arrived at 5 o'clock; put, up at the Sanitary Commission, a fine place; we go where we choose in the city. I like it here very much. Went to the theatre in the evening; was highly entertained by witnessing the play of Rosedale. My wound is better, but am quite lame.

Tuesday, May 24th , 1864

We loafed till 4 co. I went to see Rufus Byam, a cousin living here. We then took a boat, the Argonaut, down the river bound for Cairo, Ill.

Wednesday, May 25th, 1864

We had a pleasant ride and good nights rest; arrived at Louisville, Kentucky, at 8 o.c.; Indiana, on the opposite side the river; stopped long enough to look over the city.

Thursday, May 26th, 1864

Still on the O-hi-o. Stopped at Evansville, Ind., for rations; stopped at Henderson and Shawneetown; passed the cave of the noted land pirate and robber, John Murrel. There were several Ladies on board that took an interest in us. It made the time pass away in a very agreeable manner. This being the last night on board, we had quite a party, dancing, singing and other amusements. We closed by singing Auld Lang Syne. After bidding good-bye and shaking of hands  we parted, they to their nicely furnished staterooms, we to the hard deck in the open air. All will remember the kind friends we found while on our trip down the O-hi-o.

Friday, May  27th, 1864

Arrived at Cairo this morning at 9 o.c. Had a good breakfast at the Soldiers' Home.  Started for Memphis, Tennessee, at 10 o.c. on the new and splendid boat Mollie Able; stopped at several places of note such as Island No. 10, New Madrid, Missouri, and other places.

Saturday, May  28th, 1864

Arrived at Memphis, Tenn., at 7 o.c. this morning; travelled to the Soldiers' Home, once the residence of the Rebel General Hunt, a fine house and beautiful grounds. Magnolia trees all in bloom–a splendid tree. We enjoyed a fine breakfast–butter, cheese, etc.;  written home.

Sunday, May  29th, 1864

A beautiful morning. Were routed at 3 o.c.; marched to the Bluff waiting for the boat; it did not come; laid round till evening; went back to the Home.

Monday, May  30th, 1864

Went to the Bluff. Loafed round all day; don't know when we do go.

Tuesday, May  31st, 1864

The Henry Ames arrived last night. After giving three times three for the Home we were leaving we left for the boat, went aboard it at 9 o.c., but did not leave till 4 o.c. There being a fine band on board we had a pleasant trip; it was very warm; the last boat down was attacked by guerrillas at Yellow Bend, Ark.

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