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

June 1863

No 7

June … An incident that I must not omit to mention is that this morning at doctors call we had not a sick man on the list.1 This does not occur in one co out of ten throughout the whole Rgt during their service. General orders have been issued to the whole … in view of the continuance of hot weather as a result of which we have built shades for our tents in the shape of an arbor covered by palmetto leaves. This keeps the sun off and allows the breeze to circulate through. 11th Last night a large steamer succeeded in getting inside the blockade ran aground fast in shoal water 1½ miles from shore. As it is stuck fast in the sand either by intent or accident she was set on fire … burned very badly. During the forenoon the rebels f[ired] into our batterys and up … falling in our hands, she is within reach of both our batterys and gun boats as well. By going up the beach we can get quite close to her. In the afternoon we went opposite her to prevent the rebels from taking her.

12th This morning some of our men of the batallion swam out to her. While on board their boat got loose and floated away and is now in rebel possession. As this is the only boat we are without one for the present. One or two swam ashore and returned with clothing and other useful articles for the rebs … From this it would seem she is from the west indies. Hotchkiss and me were walking on the beach … looking around I made out enough to form the conclusion that he is of a family or person of some wealth by the name of … H seems to have left a son-in-law and his family by the … on the ground. I concluded that the complete family were the

1. Westervelt’s estimation of the amount of men on sick call is not overstated. “The diseases that ravaged many of the new camps, both North and South, left few untouched. It wasn’t uncommon for a company that began with 100 or more men to lose 20 to disease, accident or disability during the first few months of camp life. Statistics were to show that during the first year and a half of the war, the Union would lose 20.1% of its forces from disease and sickness.” Denney, Civil War Medicine, p. 65.

-20-

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