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

Diary of an Engineer During the
Rebellion

No. 20, 1863

Sunday 8th continued and a small steamer puts off to board her and take off government dispatches. In a few minutes she is on her way to H. H. The boys stroll back leisurely to their huts to wait with impatience for her return which will not reach us untill tomorrow afternoon or tuesday morning. 4 P.M. Spite of the order and the impossibility of using it Capt … dral of the regular service has left an order to have a waggon repaired immediately. It does not affect me however but entails some hard work among those whom it does. Immediately after dark two buildings in Seceshionville on James Island was discovered to be on fire one of our gun boats having thrown a few shell in that direction before sundown I suppose one of them was the cause of it. Secessionville is some 4 or 5 miles distant embracing some 20 or 30 buildings. In the morning on a Sunday the colored troops hold prayer meetings which are characterized by the shouting and comicalities of the same kind of thing in N.Y. 9th This morning we are surprised with a sudden and extreme change in the weather. From extreme warm to severe cold. As we go up the beach to draft some sleepers the wind makes our faces ache. I forget if I told you of a mortar platform we are building. It is for a 13 in long mortar, the largest we have yet used. The mortar without its carriage weighs over 17000 lbs, I will give you a sketch of one on its carriage [sketch]. You will observe its diameter across the middle is about 3 ft 8 in. 10th To day we laid down the platform, You can judge the strength required when I tell you it took 7 four horse teams (waggons) to draw the wood work up, which has to be covered with ½ in iron.1 It is 12 ft

1. Seacoast guns were enormously heavy, and cannons were often mounted on iron carriages. Gillmore installed a number of them on Morris Island to assist in the assault on Charleston. Faust, Encyclopedia of the Civil War, p. 663).

-55-

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