A Diary Entry from the
Battle of Petersburg by Isaac Foskett (edited by John
United States Engineer
June 1: Pleasant. Broke
camp at 7 a.m. and marched 3 or four miles. Hard
fighting just at night. Report said that the rebels
assaulted our works but they were repulsed. C and D
Co.’s had orders to pack up and march. We had just
turned in it being 9 p.m. Marched to Allen’s Mill where
we commenced fixing the road and bridges. Worked until a
little past midnight when we bivouacked for the night
having marched 4 or 5 miles.
June 2: Pleasant with a
shower just at night. Lay near Allen’s Mill nearly all
day. At 4 p.m. marched to HdQrs near Coal [Cold]
Harbor about 2 miles. Heavy firing all day.
June 3: Rainy until noon
when it cleared off. Went on guard in evening. The
battalion went out to the front at tattoo. Heavy firing
all day. The battalion working the line throwing up
June 4: Pleasant but
commenced raining in the middle of the afternoon. Were
relieved at 4 p.m. C and A Co.’s got back to camp at
reveille. B and D went out to the front at about 5 p.m.
D Co. went to the 18 Corps about 10 p.m.1
Started out to the front with or shovels. We went
outside of the picket line and threw up a rifle pit. We
worked four or five hours. We were in a very exposed
position. The bullets flew pretty thick for a while but
it dried up after a while so we finished our work and
came back to Smith’s headquarters and bivouacked for the
night. Gen. Smith has his quarters pretty well up to the
front. So near that the bullets whistle through the
woods quite thick when skirmishing is going on. Not as
much firing as usual today.
June 5: Lay in camp. A
few details went out in the day time and lay out some
earthworks and went out in the night along with some
infantry and were out most all night. The enemy made an
attack on us but were repulsed. The fight lasted about
20 or 30 minutes. It commenced on our left and extended
all along the line towards our left as far as I could
hear. There was men killed right in front of where we
lay by a shell. He belonged to the NY Heavy Art(illery).
Heavy cannonading on out left as far as we could hear.
Cleared off in the evening. Received a letter from
Frances containing 20 postage stamps and 33 cents worth
of stationary. The postage was 17 cts amount $1.10.
June 6: Pleasant with a
shower at sundown. Went out on fatigue to work on a
redoubt. Picket firing with some shelling. Wrote home to
June 7: Pleasant. Lay in
camp in fore(noon) but luckily for us we went out on
fatigue. Our camp being shelled, No one was hurt except
a horse. A piece of a shell passed through one of the
tents of Gen Smith’s staff. Since the enemy began to
pass his shells over to us the men have gone to work and
fortified themselves by digging holes and making a
breastworks of logs and throwing a bank of earth against
them and some have built bomb proofs so it is one vast
fortification from front clear back to the rear as far
as the enemy can shell.
June 8: Got up at 3 a.m.
Got breakfast and went out to work on the redoubt.
Finished it went back to camp. Packed up and went back
to HdQrs. Pleasant. Picket and artillery firing as
June9: Cool and pleasant
with a gentle shower at sundown. Lay in camp. Picket
firing as usual.
June 10: Cool and windy.
Lay in camp. Everything quiet along the lines.
June 11: Cool and
pleasant. A detail went out from the other Co.’s to work
building fortifications near Coal [Cold]
Harbor but our Co. lay in camp. Received a letter from
Sophronia and answered it.
June 12: Cool and
pleasant. Broke camp at 2 p.m. and marched ten miles and
camped near Providence Church. Passed ________ miles.
Our wagon train did not get up until nearly daylight.
June 13 Marched to
Charles City Courthouse distance nearly 20 miles.
Crossed the Chickahominy near the [large?]
mill now owned by a man by the name of Christian. Cool
and pleasant. The country seems to be pretty destitute
of food and inhabitants there being no one left but a
few negroes that were so old that they could not get
away. The people are glad to swap anything they have for
hard bread. Charles City Courthouse I should think might
have been quite a pretty place before the war the houses
having been all burned except the courthouse and gate.
June 14: Pleasant. Broke
camp at 12m and marched to Wyanoak Landing 4 or 5 miles.
Went out on fatigue building a pontoon bridge across the
James River. Worked until nearly dark and were relieved
to go and get our supper then returned and stayed until
midnight then went to camp and had slept about an hour
when we had to fall in. A steamer having drifted into
the bridge but they did not need us so we returned to
camp and did not have to get up until daylight.
June 15: Lay in camp in
the forenoon. Went out to work in the afternoon
repairing the pier at the landing. Trains commenced
crossing our bridge last night. Pleasant but warm.
June 16: Broke camp and
marched 17 or 18 miles and camped near Petersburg. Very
hot. Firing all day. The country seems to be all
deserted. Did not see one of the inhabitants on the road
of march. The stragglers were all along the road and had
set the woods on fire in making their coffee so it was
very uncomfortable marching through the woods.
June 17: Hot. Lay in
camp. Considerable firing all along the lines. We went
on guard in evening.
June 18: Hot and sultry.
Made camp about a mile and half. Cannonading all along
June 19: Hot but
pleasant. Lay in camp. A detail went out from C Co. to
build a scaffold to hang a negro on for committing a
rape at Coal [Cold]
Harbor. Went out in the evening along with some of the
boys and got a potash kettle to a deserted house to do
some cooking in. Some cannonading all along the line.
June 22: Lay in camp.
Pleasant. No firing of any consequence.
June 23: Hot and dry.
Considerable fighting. Marched down on the left about
five miles. Broke camp at five p.m. marched about half
mile and returned to camp. Went out with a detail up to
the right of the 2 Corps and threw up an eight gun
battery. We had a few artillery men to help us. Got back
to camp at revile having worked all night.
June 24: Hot and very
dry. It being hard work to get good water. Moved camp
about half a mile. Some firing all along the line on the
right. Can hear the usual amount of heavy artillery
firing. There having been such firing in that direction
every day since we came here.
June 25: Very hot and
dry. Did nothing but fight fire a little that caught in
the woods close to our camp. Very heavy cannonading in
June 26: Very hot and
dry. Received a letter from Frances. No firing of any
account. Water very scarce. A Co. struck camp and went
June 27: Hot and sultry.
Lay in camp. Wrote to Frances. Cannonading up on the
June 28: Lay in camp.
Went on guard in evening. Had soft bread issued to us
and sauerkraut . All quiet along the lines.
June 29: On guard. Is
cool but dry. All quiet as usual but considerable moving
amongst the troops. They seemed to be moving towards the
June 30: Cool. Was
mustered for pay. Stay in camp.