Diary from Aug. 6, 1862

Record Book of James H. Sawyer, 1862-1865

  • Full Title

    Record Book of James H. Sawyer, 1862-1865

  • Description

    Excerpt from the diary of James H. Sawyer (b.1843), a resident of Woodstock, CT and a soldier in the 18th Regiment of Connecticut Infantry. This excerpt describes the somber mood in Sawyer's camp upon learning of Abraham Lincoln's death. It also describes how the camp was alerted of Lincoln's death.

  • Transcription

    Record Book of James H. Sawyer:

    About three o’clock in the morning of the 15th
    of April I happened to be lying awake in my
    tent. Away in the distance towards town I heard
    the faint hoof beats of a horse on the hard mae-
    adaized road. They gradually sounded louder and
    louder. I was [[impeded]] with the thought that the
    rider on that horse was bring important news
    or [[?]] to our camp. Nearer and nearer came the
    rider and the hoof beats suddenly sounded loud-
    er as the horse rounded the corner from the main
    street and turned towards our camp.

    Clatter, clatter they went till they stopped at
    the doors of Col. Peales shanty. Then silence a few
    seconds, followed by a sharp rap, rap, as the rider
    of that horse struck with the same hard substance
    on the door. I soon heard the door open, and
    a voice spoke in a low quick tone. This was fol-
    lowed by an answer in a louder tone. Then silence
    as probably our commander was reading the mes-
    sage brought to him. Then there was a loud, em-
    phatic, surprised tone, followed by quick
    footsteps and knockings on other doors as the other
    field offices were around. Then there was a new loud,
    excited, anxious tones, all speaking together. This was
    kept up some minutes when they all retired to their
    tents and silence again fell over the camp.

    Then Geo. Heath, “my pard,” who has heard
    the voices, spoke up.

    “What’s that, [[corporal]]?”

    “Something’s up,” I answered. “We’ll hear
    something surprising in the morning. Marching
    orders for home, I guess.”

    Little did we think what we would
    hear in the morning.

    When the companies assembled at the
    morning roll-call the news that was brought
    by the orderly was read to them. They were ap-
    palled by the announcement, and home which
    had seemed so near, appeared to fade away
    at the war seemed not yet to be ended.
    [[end page]]

    [[start page]]
    Feelings of revenge and sadness took passion
    of our minds. The men dispersed to their tents
    talking in low tones and the camp was very
    silent and funeral like all that day.

    The astounding news that was read to us was
    that President Lincoln, Gen Grant Secretary Seward
    and other numbers of the Cabinet had been murdered
    the night before. The real news were exaggerated in
    that Gen. Grant-Sec Seward and the other members of
    the Cabinet had been killed; it was sad enough
    when we knew the real facts that our beloved
    President was dead-so fouly murdered by the
    assassin J. Wilkes Booth.

    It was days before the men regained their
    usual cheerfulness and saw that these things were
    not going to retard the progress of the closing up of
    the affairs of the Great Rebellion.

    Our duties now were somewhat relaxed.
    Picket duty was kept up but there was nothing
    to look out for. A week or so after the surrender
    I was on picket at the old brick house on the
    Winchester road. All day long the [[?]] rebel
    soldiers of [[Lu’s]] army kept coming along on their
    way to their homes in this part of the country. They
    came in [[?]], squads of half a dozen or so, and one
    squad of about 20 came along in the afternoon. They
    would stop and chat with us and pass more or
    less chaff. They all measurably said that they were
    glad the war was ended.

    Drilling was suspended but we had to ap-
    pear at [[?]] parade. This became to be the event
    of the day, and [[?]] from the town came every
    evening to witness the parade. We had become
    so that we could execute the maneuver in great
    style and to see the regiment go through the move-
    ments at this parade like clockwork, was really quite
    a sight.

    [Transcription by: Karsen O'Rourkr, Rachel Engl’s class, Lehigh University.]

  • Source

    Ms 96780

  • Rights

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  • Cite this Item

    James H. Sawyer. "Record Book of James H. Sawyer, 1862-1865". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed September 19, 2021. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/863