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6th Vermont Infantry
Frederick Marius Kimball - 1863 Diary
A new era has dawned upon the world. This year will tell greatly upon the destiny of the country. May its close be not like its predecessor to leave our country still in war. With the old year has closed a great volume in American history-the most eventful of any on record. This new epoch will tell greatly upon the destiny of mankind through all coming time, not only of our own country but of every nation. May it demonstrate that a free people can govern themselves & that American Slavery will be no longer. Slaves no longer slaves & Rebels no longer rebels.
"In that blissful vision each shall share, As much glory as his soul can bear."
Jan. 4 - Nothing new or novel has occurred in camp. Only the presentation of a new State flag. Tis a splendid thing & long may it be an emblem of the free. We will fight to the last to sustain it. The business in the office is so pressing I scarce get time to eat or sleep but a few days & I shall be more at leisure, I hope.
Jan. 14 - My new diary has not come yet that I sent home for & I have failed to record things & events thus far this year. Hope to get a new diary soon. I can find none here in camp. I am pained to think that our glorious cause has again met with a severe secession at Vicksburg by the occursed traitors to our country. My right & justice at last triumph.
Jan. 15 - For more than twenty four hours the wind has blown almost a gale. Lieut. Davis' father in law & Sergt. McClary's father have arrived today from Vt. to see their sons. Glad to see one from Vt. Would that my father might be able to come to the army & see & visit it-not only the army but his only boy. My mother, twould be impossible for her to come.
Jan. 19 - Up to this time of the year I have remained in the Adjts. Office as clerk but now McClary being promoted. The Capt. Wants me to return to the company as Orderly Sergt. And I comply to his wishes, still I like in the office very well. Been in the office with Dwinell about one month. The sick are sent off prepatory for a move.
Jan. 20 - This day the army of the Potomac once more moved under command of Gen. Burnside. Break up camp at 11AM. March at quick time over the frozen ground up the river about 12 miles and as hard a march as I ever had. The boys are all tired out. An order is read to us that we are again going to meet the enemy in battle. May it be the last crowning effort. By order of Maj. Gen. Burnside.
Jan. 21 - Last night it rained & the mud is abundant. It is the ruin of this expedition. Trains, artillery, wagons, pontoons & everything stuck in the mud. Our Brigade is ordered out to help a pontoon train. March through mud two miles & then stacked arms, unslung knapsacks & went to the relief of trains, mules & men. Fasten ropes to the wagons & a company would take hold & with the help of mules draw the pontoons through the mud. Horses & mules were all worn out & would fall in the mud to far over the dam to help themselves out at all. It rained all the time & we did not get back to camp until long after dark hungry & tired fellows & all covered with mud from head to foot. Clothes wet through. Patriotism was at a low ebb, the men were hard up.
Jan. 22 - This day the 22nd we do not move. It was midnight before we could get at all comfortable.
Jan. 23 - The weather at this season is treacherous. Mud has blasted this expedition. The pontoons stuck. No supplies can be brought to us & therefore today we are ordered back to the old camp. Part of us arrived there this night, used up boys. I never was so hard up on a march before & so with all the boys. The mud a foot deep & our knapsacks heavy. Have to carry a good deal to be warm at night.
Jan. 24 - At last I have succeeded in getting this memorandum-obtained it this day. Many are yet coming in from this ruined enterprise almost dead. Many fell by the way. When we arrived in camp yesterday I found Alex Davis just from Vermont. I never was more rejoiced to meet a friend in my life.
Jan. 25 - Good many of the boys are sick after this march. It has used up the army for a while. Twill be more than one month before we will be as well as before. Yesterday I received a letter from Col. ____ & was glad to hear from the old commander. Straglers still coming from this ruined expedition of Burnsides. Burnside stuck in the mud.
Jan. 26 - I never saw patriotism run so low as when we got back to this camp. We were all jaded out and nothing was gained. This looks discouraging at times. We are willing to endure hardships & privations if it does any good but to see rebellion no nearer crushed is enough to make one at times almost discouraged. I hear the tired Hooker in chief command.
Jan. 27 - Soldier writes many bitter words toward the President, Burnside. Yesterday I wrote to father & told him of this ruined movement and I enclosed an order for $50.
Jan. 28 - Last night it rained & today snow, cold, wet & stormy. Uncomfortable indeed. It does not snow so much this evening. The fire burns cheerful in the arch & tis quite comfortable in the tent with none but our own crew, Ira, Hollis, Bill & myself. Bill has been sick since we came back-better now. Now Ira reading, Hollis smoking & I am filling up my diary for the 28th.
Jan. 29th-This morning the ground was covered with a greater depth of snow than I have before seen in Virginia-about 6 inches. Wintery. I learn with pleasure & regret that Capt. Hale is to be Maj. of the regt. He merits it & I am glad to see him rise, still I am sorry to loose so good a Capt. Friend Carl is also to be Capt. Of Co. C. Who will be our captain now?
Jan. 30 - This morning our whole regt. goes on picket for three days. Therefore the orderlies have to go & thus I go. Weather clear, cloudy, snowy & pleasant. Juss the time for reading. Gen. Hooker will probably attempt something great now that he commands the Potomac army.
Jan. 31 - Still on picket. Our company goes onto the outposts for one day. I remain at the reserve. Looks like a storm yet it does not storm. I take measures to raise a sufficient sum in our company for the purpose of buying Maj. O. A. Hale a sword & belt as a token of our esteem & respect. He has long been our noble Captain. Hope to succeed.
Letters to the Editor
Diaries transcribed by Frederick's 2nd great-grandson.