Vermont ArtilleryThird Battery Light Artillery
Civil War Diary
Eugene W. Rolfe, Tunbridge,
3rd Vt. Light Artillery Battery
Wed. Feb. 1st.  
Detailed for guard today, at post 4 - over two wards with rebel prisoners -go on at 1 P.M. off at 3, then on at 7 and off at 9 P.M. Marching in the prisoners to dinner and to supper, I was blessed with two square meals. Saw Bullock in the cook room today! He has a detail there. Write to Carl this evening. Have a long conversation with one of the Johnnies this evening and find that many of the most intelligent rebels believe the war to be a great mistake and that it is only pushed by the few would-be great men of the North and South. I go to bed at a little past nine P.M,, but lie awake until past eleven thinking of what I have heard today and trying to discover the Why? Of all this strife. Nix discovery.
Thursday Feb. 2d. 
Off guard this morning at 9. Got a good dinner and then with a crowd of the others was called up in front of the "Operating Room" and examined by three surgeons and expect to be sent to the front at once. Visited Bullock this evening, he write to Carl and hands letter to me to be sent with the one that I am writing. I write to Herb and tell him not to write until he hears from me again. (8:30 P.M.) Rumors are thick tonight and we are promised all sorts of bad things from a raid upon Washington by Early up to a general transfer into the Invalid Corps. The older soldiers think we are to have an advance on the lines southwest of Petersburgh and that all able to help in any way are to be sent to the front. Good.
Friday Feb. 3rd. 
Ordered over to the operating room again today. Stayed until 3 P.M. then went away to come again another day. Thinking that they are soon to be rid of us the thieves shove us out a good dinner, plenty [of] potatoes, [a] heap [of] fried codfish.
Saturday, Feb. 4th. 
Good rations today and the boys are singing "Goodbye Old Starvation." Called out for examination again today but my name is not reached and I am told to come again Monday. Read Queechy to day whilst waiting to be examined. There is considerable talk in the Ward this evening of the examination ant he probabilities.
Sunday Feb. 5. 
A warm, cloudy, quiet day. Write to Jim Lee, 9th. Vt. vol. And to Ed W. Hutchins, then go tramp around the hospital and out to Camp Stoneman. Go down and look for the Johnny friend but find that he has been transferred to Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria. Get in a dispute with a young fellow named Pickett of the 8th. Georgia-get pretty warm but was stopped by a Lieutenant Hampton of a So. Carolina Reg't, who told us that we were both of us wrong and getting a copy of the constitution of the United States soon proved that that instrument recognized slavery as a right by a clause forbidding the passage of any law prohibiting the importation of slaves, for several years after the acceptance of the constitution by the states. More new ideas.
Feb 6. 
I get a pass this morning from Capt. Erik Gates and went down to the city. Turned to the left near the B and O RR depot and went up to No 459 C street to Capt Chandler and turning in my furlough. I received $125 ration money, bought me a knife for $1.25 ration money. I went to 396 C street to see Mrs Baxter but I did not find her. I got back to the hospital at one o'clock. Went down to the operating room and at 4pm was examined and asked for the front. I think, but do not know certain. I received a letter from father and one from Herbert this afternoon. They were all right. H D famber is to work for Bradstreet. I went down to the meeting at the sons of temperance and was initiated for ten cents, the fee going back to Jan 1st.
Feb 7 
I finished a letter commenced yesterday to Charlotte, It snowed like fun today. I bought a picture of the hospital today for 50 cents. When I got back, I was ordered to get my knapsack and prepare to leave. I done so after I got ready. I went down to the chapel and FS gave me a withdrawal card. I paid 10 cents and then went up to headquarters. From there, 11 of us were marched down to the soldiers rest back of the B and O RR and there I stayed with no blanket with about 3000 U soldiers, 125 ____ and Indians, and 200 rebels.
Feb 8 
After breakfast this morning, at about 8 am, we marched down Maryland. Avenue about a mile. There we loaded on to some open cars and went down a steep grade and across the long bridge and out through 1 and a half miles of Camp Distribution in Alexandria. There we got onto some freight cars and went up to camp. After we were stood around about 2 hours and had our names taken 4 times, we __ to the same barracks that Carl and I were assigned before. No. 44. I secured a __ blanket ___ ___ and extra ___. I bought a ___ for 23 cts. Sent picture today to father of hospital.
Feb 9 
I wrote to __- today and to Lib. , sent photographs of ___ , bought me a tin plate, ___ bought a dime song book. Told __ . The agent of the Christian Commission gave me a testament today. I went to a concert today down to the chalet. The last part was a song. All quiet along the Potomac. Sung by a Mrs __ My lungs are mighty sore tonight. _____?
Feb 10 
I lazed in my bunk and read the better part of the day. This ____??? I bought a bale of tobacco, paid 80 cts for it. Lungs were so sore that I went over to the doctor this morning.
Feb 11 
We were ordered up this morning at 4 o' clock and went down to the dining hall and drawed three days rations of hard tack, coffee, and sugar. After Breakfast, we were taken out in front of the barracks and the whole camp of 3000 men were marched down to the wharf in Alexandria and we stayed there till about 4 PM when we wee marched down into the city and went aboard some boats. I went aboard the steamer Matilda and never got into a worse hole. It is all and more than mean to keep warm.
Feb 12 
We laid here all night and at 7 AM we started and went down the river about 5 miles when the ice boat that went ahead got stuck and there we lay till 3 PM when we backed up to Alexandria and after we had layed there about 1.5 hours we were taken off and marched back to camp destruction. We got in there at about 6 PM and after eating supper, I layed down and here I am with frozen feet and hands and lungs so sore that it is all I can do to lay down and am all tired out. I wish the war was sunk.
Feb 13 
We had a very cold night last night. I had to get up at 9 o'clock and build a fire to keep warm. My lungs pain me so I cannot take any comfort. This camp should be called Camp Destitution instead of Camp Distribution for we get pretty hard ___. I wrote to father today of my travels of the past week. I filled one sheet of foolscap.
Feb 14 
It was a VERY cold night last night. I came near freezing and my lungs were very sore. My throat is somewhat sore. (Wrote letters for others) the rest of the time I spent in reading and in looking over my letters, wondering what each was about. I looked over the song that Charlotte and ___ wrote out for me. I read my letter from Herbert and father three times.
Feb 15 
It is raining like fun today. I have got a ___ sore pair of lungs. I went down to the Christian Commission today and got two sheets of paper and a couple of newspapers. One of them was the Vt Chronicle from Windsor. It had an account of the ___ to ___. I went down to the meeting of the sons of temperance , div 23. I have got a devil of a diarrhea I ___ Dixie ________?
Feb 16 
It is a little colder than it was yesterday. I had three doses of diarrhea mixture. I wrote another letter for Prentice today. I have been ______. ( said he saw other Vermonters today)
Feb 17 
It is thawing today. I wrote off songs. Pickets last watch, verses of Johnnie got a comb of corn, saw another Vermonter.
Feb 18 
We were waked up and went down and drawed three days rations and after we ate breakfast got started off and got down to Alexandria about sunrise and went on board steamer Leady Leany and started down the river. There was about a dozen boats amongst the rest, and old blockade runner. The whole squadron got stuck in the ice just above fort Washington. But the leady went ahead and forced her way through. We had a race with the Chas Morgan and the Matilda and beat all but the Matilda. She was too much for us. I have been on guard this afternoon so the Captain gave me a bully good supper and let us lay on the saloon.
Feb 19 
I had a bully good night. Next I went on guard at daylight, stayed oh half an hour and then went down into the saloon and down into the dining saloon and had a good breakfast, we had some baked beans. It is a cold, windy day. We get into fortress Monroe at 3 pm. Saw an English Man o war, the buzzard. We left there and run till about midnight and then anchored. We anchored near windmill Point. .I lay in the afternoon in the cabin. I had a good supper of warm ___.
Feb 20 
We weighed anchor and started up the James ___ this morning. I went on guard this morning and then went down and got my breakfast of beefsteak. ___. When I went up they had run up to the wharf at City Point. We set off and went up on to the hill at three. They called the 9th corps and we went to ask ___ the corps and run up to the 9th corps headquarters. ___ they told Lord and I that we did not belong to that corps and sent us up to Gen ___ headquarters and they put us into the bull pen with the ___ and all.
Feb 21 
They took us out of the bull Pen and marched us up to Meade station within three forths of a mile of our battery as we found out by some ___ ___ ___. But they would not let us go to it. But took us out to City Point and put us into another Bull Pen along of _____, bounty jumpers, murderers, thieves and all. I told the clerk that where our battery was but he would not send us back but said he would in the morning.
Feb 22. 
Our names were called this morning and as I heard they were going to send us to Alexandria, I told the Corporal in charge of us that our battery was in the 6th corps. He asked us what battery it was. I told him. He then said that he knew that it was there and tried to have us sent to it but it was no use. They marched us down to the wharf and to the mail steamer Dictation (?). We ran down about a mile and ran into a schooner, sinking her instantly. We get ___ at Fortress Monroe at ___ PM. Old Gene ___ is on board with us.
Feb 23 
We kept on all night and got into Alexandria at 8 AM. But the blockhead of a Capt did not get around in ___ to get us off and so we run up to Washington and back to Alexandria. We went up to the Provost Marshalls and he sent us up to Camp Distribution with only three guards. Wood and myself were sent barracks 49. It rained like fun all the way. I wrote to mother sending her a birthday present. (NOTE: See letter)
NOTE - In most of his entries, he tells what he had to eat. It gets redundant and is not of any particular interest. From now on I will simply say "food" at the beginning of the entry and then try to translate whatever else he said that day.
Feb 24 
It is a warm, pleasant day. I went down to the Christian Commission rooms and got VT Chronicle and a soldiers hymn book. Also two sheets of writing paper. I went over to the surgeons call this morning. He gave me a dose of cough mixture and capisicum. They give us pretty good food now. I wrote a letter to father this morning with account of my travels the past week.
Feb 25 
I did not get any rest last night and I have got a head cold. I am very feverish this morning. Leonard made a cup of tea this morning. that's made me feel better. It rained like fun today. We were ordered our at 3 PM and started for soldiers rest in alex. I drawed a bottle of ___ and instruction book of Ger. Leord and I straggled off and did not get in till after dark. We were tired, wet and hungry but they give us a good cup of chocolate plenty of bread and coffee pork.
Feb 26 
Food… They called us out and gave us two days rations and we went down to Pier 8. The mail boat wharf and left there on the James Brady at half past 3 PM. We are marked for the 9th corps again. Leord found a fellow from his town. His name is Oran Hatterus of 9th Vt. We have got some distinguished personages on board. The Rebel Gen. Roger Porer and leut Cushing. US
Feb 27 
We got into City Point a little after noon. ___ and were marched up to the Bull Pen and after drawing rations went and wrote to uncle Williams Sent it by Orin Hutchins of Vergennes. I drawed up a bean soup and I guess there was 300 maggots in it but it was good enough for a hungry soldier. It is raining like fun.
Feb 28 
We were called out this morning and on making application, Lionel and I were put into the 6th corps. ____ and getting on to the trash? We went up to the warrens station and from there to our battery on the wash. I saw Ben hyde. He was looking well. Went harding out at Patrick Station. We got to the battery at about 4 PM. The ____ to report came to the battery 4. Myself, Milo and I went up to Ft Fisher where our guns are stationed. It is a 40 gun fort. There is fair lookout close to our camp ___ high.
Diary Continued Back to Introduction
Contributed by Eugene L. Rolfe, Las Vegas, Nevada, great-grandson of Eugene William Rolfe.