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5th Vermont Infantry

Robert Pratt Collection

Extracts from Robert Pratt's journals


June 26, 1862

Very warm this morning. All is quiet. I volunteered to go on picket. We are within stone throw of the rebels picket. Our reg was under arms all day. Porter shelled the rebels this afternoon.

June 28, 1862

Very warm. They shelled us out of camp just after we came in of picket. Killed two and wounded a number more. Last night they attacked our pickets.

June 29, 1862

Warm this morning. We commenced to fall back. Had a hard march, our men are destroying everything. We had a fight this evening, killed and wound 30 in our Co. We licked the rebels.

June 30, 1862

Very warm. We marched all night. We are reorganized again. To day about 10 p.m. the rebels opened 20 cannons on us witch made us fall back. Our battery replied. Morale suffered bad.

Sept. 17, 1862

We started early this morn. Arrived on the battle ground near Sharpsburg after marching around a good while. We got into line and lay down in a cornfield where we lay 4 hours. Shots flying all around.

Sept. 18, 1862

This morn the rebs had gone. I went over the field of battle. The awful sight of men in every position shot every where. Enough to sicken one of war.

Dec. 12, 1862

Very pleasant. Have some headache. Slept badly last night. Today is my birthday. Such a one I never spent before troops as far as the eye can reach. We crossed the Rappahannock river today. Brooks crossed last night without any resistance. There was some heavy artillery firing on the right today.

Dec. 13, 1862

Moved up before daylight to support a battery. We did all day. A few shells came near us. They are fighting on the left. We can see flashes of guns on the night.

Dec. 14, 1862

Pleasant. We relieved the third out on the front line before daylight. As quick as it was daylight, they opened a battery onus, but did not hurt. We lay on our faces.

Dec. 15, 1862

Pleasant. We are in the 3rd line of the battle. Very quiet today. About 9 o'clock we had orders to move right away. Not to make any noise. We started and crossed the river in a very few minutes. It is raining.

Wilderness and Spotsylvania Journal Entries

May 5, 1864

Hot. Broke camp at 6 a.m. Did not expect a fight. Skirmishing connect on Plank Road. Fell back, but the advance of our div checked and drove them back. Sox of our company captured one reb. Near 3 p.m., were ordered in. Fought about 1 hour, cut up bad. J.P. wounded. Fell back. Oh how I felt after the battle could have cried. Our boys fought like men.

May 6, 1864

Friday, Hot. Slept behind the breast works. Got up at four, started about five and were the third or fourth. Advanced over the yesterdays battle field about one mile beyond very hard fighting. All infantry, we drove them back about three miles and fought hard until 11 a.m. Dead men on every side of us. At 11 a div on the left of us broke and were flanked and we fell back to the breast works. Rebs attacks were badly repulsed. Courney and Knight missing.

May 7, 1864

Warm but looks like rain. We lay in the rifle pits until about one p.m., then went out on the skirmish line. We are where are brigade fought thursday. Many brave boys lay here. How sickening the smell of the battle. The rebels are as thick as are men. We were repulsed at dark. Almost a panic without any course. General Lee fell back about 15 miles.

May 8, 1864

Rebs falling back. Hot. About light, join our brigade. More had until about nine a.m. and are now in woods resting. Oh how anxious I am to hear from Sidney. W.G. Bigelow came up to us to see us, They say sidney's wound is not dangerously. Went up to the front about six and a half. Some hard fighting in our corps. We came near going in. Went in swamp, stay until three a.m. Slept with everything on.

May 9, 1864

War but cloudy. I am building breastworks. Field in here about three a.m. out of the swamp. Could hear the wounded groaning last night, which made it very unpleasant. Skirmishing all day. About six p.m. a faint attack and some shelling, but amounted to nothing. General Sedgwick was killed, our corps feels bad of his death. General Getty is dead, was wounded in first days fight.

May 10, 1861

Warm and pleasant. Camp near Spotsylvania. Some skirmishing this morn. Nothing is known of our movements, only what we can see. Heavy canody since eight and a half a.m., now noon. Our skirmishers disobeying the orders. Just read of General Butler capturing Petersburg and advancing on Richmond and Sherman's victory at Tunnelhill. Heavy canody near us. Charged about six p.m. Captured rifle pits and prisoners and battery, but were driven back. Ford and Voodry were wounded.

May 11, 1864

Warm. Skirmishing this morning. We might just as well as not held our position last night, but our line was not extended enough. Rebs did not fight as well as usual. Showers today. Troops are going in it here. We charged yesterday, later came out our division was forming rear of position. Heavy artillery fire.

May 12, 1864

Rainy. Had order read of what Sheridan done (with) cavalry. Second corps made a charge of left at dawn. Mostly successful. Move to help support. Went in on left but moved to right. Horrible fighting, blood in puddles. Went in about 9 a.m. and came out about 3 p.m. Finnessy and Laffie wounded. Rebels behind rifle pits. Our boys threw clubs at them.

Cold Harbor Journal Entries

June 1, 1864

Very hot. Got up 3 1/2, got breakfast and marched. Now 9 a.m., say we are going to Coal (sic) Harbor. Marched until 2 p.m., hard march, so much dust. Stopt, got dinner. Some hit while laying here. At about 5 p.m. advanced our line. Hard fighting until after dark. Our regiment supported a battery. The rest of the brigade were in. We drove them.

June 2, 1864

Cool. Quarter of 4 a.m., opening quite smart this morning. Moved from behind battery on left. Threw up good rifle pit. Lay in it about 10 a.m., 2nd corps relieved us. Went to right, formed line, lay until dark. Orders to charge at 5 p.m., but countermanded. I think tomorrow we will have hard fighting. Bill got back.

June 3, 1864

Lieut. Baily killed today, 2nd VT. Rained all night, foggy and rainy this morning. Are in 5th line of battle. Up at 3 p.m. Expected to charge. At 4 a.m., opened early on right. Hard fighting, some charging. We went to right. Went into front line, fought until noon. Went in at 7 a.m. About 9, poor Mike was killed. Like losing a brother. Wunder and Knight wounded. Went back at noon in pit, lay here until 12 p.m.

June 4, 1864

Warm afternoon, rainy. Sharpshooters picking off some little canody. Lieut. Bixby wounded. Number shot going after water. I got here at daylight last evening. Buried poor Mike. Drawed rations 3 days. Pretty heavy musketry on left. Got letter from Sidney, very glad. Oh how sorry I feel for Mike, can hardly realize he is dead.

June 5, 1864

Rainy. Up at light. Skirmishing along line, some cannonading 10 a.m. Crept up, 2 or 3 hit. Wrote to Sid. Oh what a life their is, what very little comfort. Few cannon shots thrown over near us. Got mail, 2 papers from P.L. Some of our wounded brought in. Been on field since 1st heavy firing. 8 p.m., mostly was after water.

June 6, 1864

Very hot. Sharpshooters firing, hit Scott slightly. 12 a.m., few cannon shots on right. Wrote to May Dell. On guard, Got letter from Echo. Raining, had shower. Relieved by 3rd VT. All very quiet. A commonly scent from the battle field, very strong. Oh war, how horrible. Great god, WHen will the punishment of our nation cease.

June 7, 1864

Hot. Got in here about midnight from rifle pits, lay back in pine woods. Few shall come over. Done some washing. Nothing new. Sharpshooters and some cannonading. Lieut. Cheney came back. Wrote Echo. Along toward being heavy firing. Directly in front, a lay of truce.

June 8, 1864

Hot. 10 a.m., all been very quiet with the exception of a few cannon shot. Bands are playing and things seem quite joyous. Canody on left all night. Drawed 4 days rations last evening. Wrote to father. Talk of me being promoted to 1st Lieut. Captain Hamilton asked me if I would be mustered in. Rather surprised me, am not very confident of it. I am so young.

June 9, 1864

Warm, but cool breeze. Orders for inspection at 5 p.m. Got Brandon paper. 2 p.m., cannonading all night, some today. Sharpshooters keep up pretty steady fire. Drawed clothing last night. Things look like commencement of a siege. Report of Fort Darling being captured. Drawed 2 days rations. HAve 4 from tomorrow morning.

June 10, 1864

Hot. Relieved front line about 9 p.m. All quiet, except few shell coming over. 5 p.m., lay in front line pits. Our boys swapped papers with rebs this morning. Better today, feel pretty well, but have grown poor very fast from this campaign. Got a letter from Fred.

June 11, 1864

Hot. Lay in pits last night. Some shelling. Good rations today. Sharps at work. I think some of troops are moving to left. 2 days rations drawn. Wrote to Fred. Fee well. Lay in trenches all day, not any firing. Boys in good spirit. Were relieved about 8 p.m. Man hit in head.

June 12, 1864

Cold. Shelling some, either with seige gun or mortars. No one hurt. They throw them about every 15 minutes. Begun bombproof, but orders to move. Started soon after dark. Marched out to rear line of pits. Rest of troops passing us on left road. Hard marching for me on account of boil.

The Last Days of the War

Sunday, April 2, 1865

We lay from midnight until near half past 4:00 a.m. when we were ordered forward we moved slowly and still until we got mast onto the picket line. The Rebels opened fire and our boys with a cheer rushed and they ran over the line of picket and paid no attention to them but stopped a moment for support to come up and to reform their lines. Then with a cheer we went over getting through the abatis the best way we could and onto the fort. About 5:04 our regiment with Captain and myself were soon inside. We soon got possession of the fort taking a good many prisoners. I struck a man with my saber that was just going to fire the cannon bearing on our troops. Knocked him under the gun but did not kill him. I sent him to the front as a prisoner. We swept down to pits capturing 7 cannons. We soon cleared all the works and marched back towards Petersburg and again attacked them about 2:00 p.m. driving them towards Petersburg. We drove them until about 4:00 p.m.m captured a number of guns. We captured one batter of 5 guns and was the first to get up to the guns. We stopped at night, about 3/4 of a mile from the city. We were completely tired out.

Colonel Mundee had command of the brigade in p.m. and was drunk. General Grant was wounded the night before by picket. Our loss was pretty heavy. Two killed and four wounded in our company. We lost two as good soldiers as we ever held. Corporal Ford and Edward Brownlee. They died nobly on the enemies works fighting like men. I cried bitterly, he was like a brother. I can hardly believe he is dead. "Oh Ed I will remembers you kindly as long as I live." Our boys buried him. I did not know of his death until evening. The day was warm and pleasant.

April 3, 1865

Warm and pleasant, our men reoccupied Petersburg at light. Our Div skirmishers win in their first. All are feeling gay over our victory but, I am sad for dear Ed. I went down to the city of Petersburg. Citizens are feeling well but the places of business are deserted. We marched towards Richmond until 4:30 p.m. Started about 9 a.m. Now camped for night. Official dispatch that Richmond is ours.

April 4, 1865

Chilly and looks like rain. We were up early with orders to move out at 5:00 a.m. Now 6:30 a.m., just moving out. Marched about 2 miles and stopped. The bands are playing and men cheering for our success. It is reported hat Johnson has surrendered to Sherman. 29 thousand men started at 3:00 p.m. and more hit hard until 3:30 p.m. Roads are very bad. Mostly swampy country though which we marched.

April 5, 1865

Warm. Up pat 4 started at 5 a.m., marched until half to 9 a.m. Now stopping for rations. Roads bad but we are getting into a mud broken country. Had orders rear to us that we must make all haste for the Danville R.R. I think of Ed Brownlee a thousand times a day. Everything reminds me of him. After a hard days march we stopped in woods and threw up restworks, no news. We know nothing of where abouts of enemy.

April 6, 1865

Chilly and rainy. Moved out by night. Flank about 7 a.m. We expected a fight. I had command of company H and G. We took a cautious route of a number of miles and at half to 12 came around where we started from now 12 miles. An about starting out. Commanding off on left. Marched hard until about 3 p.m. Crossed Weldon R.R. about 1 p.m. all most and double quicked from 4 until 5. Got to scene of action, the first and third Divisions charged through a march. Driving enemy from position and capturing most of the entire force. General Ewell and staff, also General Robert Lee's son Custer. A complete victory. Loss on both sides heavy. Cavalry done well. We stopped about 9 p.m. for night. Tired and weary. My self company were on rear guard for brigade. Very hard work. Also enthusiastic, but most worn out.

April 7, 1865

Cool and rainy. Marched pretty fast through a country dry and pleasant. Hard wood and hilly peach and cherry trees in blossom and fields are green With grain and grass. All trees will soon be leaved out. Stopped about 2 p.m. east of Farmsville. Stayed until 8 p.m., then crossed through the towns and stopped for night north of Farmsville. They had a fight within sight of us. Do no know how they came out. It was a small affair. The boys pillage a good deal. Tobacco is plenty. Men took cotton to lay on. It looks hard to see the men go through mansions that are splendidly furnished destroying everything. Farmsville is a pretty place situated in a valley so you can not see it until you are right to it. it looks deserted now.

April 8, 1865

Warm and pleasant. All looks spring like and beautiful. Half to 9 a.m. orders to move in an hour. Burning a barn of cotton and tobacco nearby. Rebels have made a stand about 4 miles from here. Reading the life of Capt. Vicars. Truly no place is worse for a young man to start a christian life and no place offers more temptations than the army. Drawed rations at noon. Moved out toward front but soon halted and came back to the city and went into camp south of the town. General Grant military governor, Major Cole provost marshall. I went down town at night, talked with surgeons of rebel army, also chaplain Gilmer. They have but little hope for the confederacy. i were only a mason, I would be all right. fighting up to the front.

April 9, 1865

Cool and pleasant. Heavy commanding up to the front this morn. Detailed with company E to go to town as guards. Posted them though Main Street and in church almost opposite Ladies College. All very quiet. We have to start and look at the Misses setting in the window of the seminary. There is so many of them and they have the name of being so much secesh and we are so timid. we dare do nothing but gaze. If I were not afraid of a flogging would go and tell them that Lee had surrendered. Quite a scene in the street this evening. About 250 prisoners, some in from the front and a mother and sisters came out to greet their son and brother. What a happy meeting and mingling of tears. I envied the soldiers. Wrote to Sidney.

April 10, 1865

Chilly and wet. Rained most all day. Were relieved about a half past 10 by a brigade of the 9th A.G. We started for the front immediately but this morn we got the report that General Lee and his forces had surrendered and we got it reliable in the p.m. We know now that the war is ended and how it thrills me with joy to know that we have accomplished what we have fought most years for. I can hardly get through my head that we can go on picket and not keep a vigilant look out for rebels. All I want now is an education and I am bound to have one. We think the fighting is done and that the day is not far distant when we will start for home. We often think of Ed Brownlee and Charlie Ford. How hard it seems that they should get killed in the last fight.

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