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

August 1863

No. 14

… 29 & 30th The usual. 31st Cold and raw. East wind heavy and some rain. It is muster day and we are mustered in by Col Serel for the first time since I have been out. Some officers having been rather lax in their duties from having been out so long some of the men had become careless and had to go through a rigid inspection and the officers were ordered to see that the men kept their things in a better state. As I have taken considerable pride in keeping my equipment and everything in as near a perfect a state as the nature of my duty will allow I passed with a complement from the Col who is a very strict disciplinarian. It is easy to keep your things right if you go according to the proverb, a stitch in time saves nine, or never leave for tomorrow that can be done to day. Always keep this in mind. It is a settled fact that Sumter is a wreck and that our guns have ceased to fire on her. The monitors are firing furiously on a new battery opposite Sumter and sullivans island. Fort Wagner and battery Gregg still hold out. They are probably the strongest works we will have to encounter. I think hereafter in this section of the country sand forts will take the place of all others as they have fully proven their superiority against our heavy guns and projectiles.

Sept 1st It is quite cold and some of the men have their overcoats on this morning. During the night the firing is very heavy.

2nd 3rd & 4th Nothing unusual except that some of the boys got hold of a whiskey and during the night of the 4th kicked up a regular shindy and 8 or 9 of them were sent to the provost. Among the number was P. He was not as tight as some of the rest but was saucy to the captain. He was let out again the same day. Some of them it will go pretty hard with.1

5th The ironsides and monitors as also the batterys are

1. Drunkenness was probably the most common offense in the military. Wiley notes that “the prevalence of excessive drinking was such as to disturb moralists and greatly enhance the problem of discipline.… McClennan

-28-

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