Diary of a Yankee Engineer: The Civil War Story of John H. Westervelt, Engineer, 1st New York Volunteer Engineer Corps

By John H. Westervelt; Anita Palladino | Go to book overview

Expedition to Folly Island

No. 5

… 27th Went to work on fortifications ourselves as otherwise nothing will be done. We are going to do as much to keep them from becoming demoralized as we can do 28th To day we have a heavy noreaster, the heaviest we have had yet. The waves lash the shore with fury.

The habit of gambling in the army [is] frightfull. I am happy to find a few who do not carry it to such extremes in our officers. One man I shall not name one time by my advice I sent home his money myself, but in these days he did promise to quit. He now prepares the same amount as myself to send. He promised me not to play anymore. Unless it is sent immediately he will gamble it. So that you will suspect the wrong person I will say no more of to my knowledge. It is a pity that the army does not entirely prohibit gambling and give the severest penalties to gamblers. Soldiers families suffer from the practice. [Many] were incapable of until now earning enough for their bread. And [some] get off duty [by] foolishly paying enormous prices for [replacements] or for less than quart bottles at 30 cts per gallon thus verifying ignorance. Another humbug in the army is what is commonly called [papers] in which business innumerable officers are ignorant. I recollect reading an incident which will illustrate [this.] A man [was] sent to a certain hospital but they could not find his papers. They sent out for another, but it was found [wrong] and they were sent back for correction, they found that the right man had not signed at all. The papers they finally pronounced all right, but the man dead. So it is with everything.

… Many furloughed men get off for other than the precise reasons intended for it. I could not tell how many since 1st May up to the present have [managed] to get their papers made out correctly. And it does not affect their waiting their turn. 29th Clear but windy. 30th Last night it was really terrible. The wind blew so hard … off scattering them over the island like rain. Some of the tents went in every direction. Ours was saved by being held up and holding the edges down untill the wind subsided, it did well.

-17-

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