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

May 16th 1864


No. XXXVII

To day our forces charged on and captured the outer defenses of fort Darling. It was a brilliant affair. I have made a slight mistake this occurred on the 15th. 16th Verry foggy in the morning but it soon cleared up and the day was fine. During the fog the rebels took advantage of it to make an attack on our left. We could distinctly hear the firing in our camp which was truly terrific. The fighting continued most of the day. Our force retired some four miles to their entrenchments. I cannot give the details but believe the loss was severe on both sides, I saw fully 500 prisoners brought in most of whom were strong and healthy looking as our men. This attack I fear will retard somewhat our operations on fort Darling.1 In the afternoon I took a walk out in the country and gathered a lot of wild onion tips which I fried for supper. It is verry beautiful here and seems more natural to me that the far South. The flowers, trees and birds are the same as those of my own State. One field of clover of many acres was completely filled with those saucy and amusing little songsters, the bobolinks. There are large fields of oats and corn growing some of them reaching nearly as far as the eye can see. It is really a thriving looking country.

17th The day has been fine. Nothing of importance from the front. 18th In noticing the wounded as they come in it is a curious fact that five out of every six are wounded in the hands and arms, and again two out of three in the left at that. I can only account for this singularity by supposing that it is

1. The losses were more significant than realized by Westervelt; Butler’s retreating back to Bermuda Hundred (“bottled up” as Grant famously dubbed it) gave up the Union’s current chance for Petersburg and Richmond. The misguided actions of top Union commanders extended the life of the Confederacy by months.

-133-

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