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March 25, 1863: Skirmish Drill

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day. Comp. drill. Skirmish drill by overgrown boy. Dress parade.

See the scanned diary page.

March 24, 1863: 3 Men Drummed Out of Service

Diary Entry:
Last night was uncomfortably warm. dull morning. Division out to see three men drummed out of service. Skirmish drill.

See scanned diary page.

More Information:
“Drumming Out” was the act of being dishonorably discharged to the sound of a drum. During the Civil War, the soldier’s uniform may have had its insignias stripped and he would have been paraded in front of his fellow soldiers before being officially discharged.

March 23, 1863: Death of Gen. Sumner

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day. Drill in Bayonet exercise. Dress Parade. Regt. officially notified of the death of Gen. Sumner.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:
The March 24, 1863, edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman ran the following notice about the death of General E. V. Sumner:

 

Major-General E.V. Sumner died at Syracuse, N.Y., on Saturday, of congestion of the lungs [pneumonia], after a very brief illness. General Sumner was born in Boston in 1796. He was not a graduate of West Point. No man in the army has seen more service than this gallant officer. He was attached to the army of the Potomac, and was in all the bloody battles fought by that army. Upon Gen. Hooker’s appointment to the chief command, Sumner was relieved at his own request, and had just been appointed to the command of the Missouri Department when his death occurred. He entered the regular army as Second Lieutenant in 1819. He served in the Indian war and also in Mexico. He was severely wounded at Corro Gordo, and for gallant conduct in that battle was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel. He was military Governor of New Mexico in 1852 and in 1836 commanded in Kansas. In 1859 he was appointed commander of the Department of the West, in 1861 he was selected and sent to California to relieve Gen. A.S. Johnson in that department, in consequence of the resignation of the latter. Gen. Sumner was ordered, at his own request, from California, for service in the east. Under Gen. McClellan his corps was one of the most active and reliable. He was selected by General Scott to accompany Mr. Lincoln from Springfield, Ill. to Washington, in February, 1861, and on March 16th was appointed Brigadier-General in the regular army, in place of General Twiggs.

March 22, 1863: First Time Since Leaving Baltimore

Diary Entry:

Dull cloudy morning, sky cleared toward noon.

Chaplain preached in afternoon. Subject the crucifixion, first time since leaving Baltimore.

Dress parade in evening.

 

See the scanned diary page.

 

More Information:
Cyrus heard the chaplain speak for the first time since he left Baltimore. For some perspective, Cyrus and the 2nd Delaware left Baltimore on May 28, 1862.

March 21, 1863: Capt. Plunket Dismissed

Diary Entry:
Another stormy day. Cap. Plunket dismissed [from] the service for drunkeness [sic]. Lts. Bird and H.C. Smith have returned to the Regt.

 See the scanned diary page.

March 20, 1863: Stormy Day

Diary Entry:
Stormy day. Snow two inches deep in evening.

See the scanned diary page.

March 19, 1863: Cap. Heishley Resigned

Diary Entry:
Weather variable. Cap. G. Helmbold discharged by reason of Surgeons certificate. Cap. Heishley resigned.

See the scanned diary page.

March 18, 1863: Nothing Important

Diary Entry:
Cloudy day. nothing important. Dress Parade.

 

See scanned diary page.

March 17, 1863: Steeple Chase

Diary Entry:
Cool and cloudy in the morning. toward noon the sun shown warm. a Steeple Chase took place on the Division Parade Ground. got up by Gen. Meagher.

Hurdles were erected and Ditches dug.

several accidents occurred.

Col. Stricker thought he could jump his horse over one of the ditches. he tried it and was thrown into the ditch. his horse tumbled in after him.

One horse was killed and his rider injured.

At 3 P.M. heavy firing was heard which proved to be at Kellys Ford. all the men were ordered back to camp.

See the scanned diary pages 59 and 60.

More Information:
A steeplechase is a horse race. Typically between two and four miles, the race features obstacles like stone walls, water jumps, brush fences, and timber rails that the horses and their riders must clear. The event was part of a larger celebration organized in camp on St. Patrick’s Day, that included foot races, sack races, mule races, boxing matches, and plenty of food and drink.

The March 20, 1863 edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman reported that a cavalry fight on the Rappahannock near Kelly’s Ford took place on Tuesday, March 17. That “cavalry fight” became known as the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, one of the earlier large-scale cavalry fights in Virginia. 2100 Union cavalry troops under the command of Brig. Gen. William W. Averill of New York crossed the Rappahannock in Culpepper County, Virginia to attack the Confederate cavalry of about 800 men under the command of Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The Federal attack was a result of General Hooker’s emphasis on cavalry training during the winter of 1863 following the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 and the “Mud March” January 1863. Although Averill withdrew his troops before completely destroying Lee’s forces, it was the first time the Union cavalry held their own against Confederate cavalry. The battle provided the troops with confidence for their summer campaigns.

Sources:
Delaware State Journal and Statesman, National Park Service Battle Summary: Kelly’s Ford, Virginia, Chancellorsville by Stephen W. Sears.

March 16, 1863: Lt. Tom Moore Returned

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day.

Lt. Tom Moore Co. G. returned to Regt. after absence without leave since Sep. 17th.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:

On March 10, 1863, the Union government enacted a plan that granted amnesty to all soldiers who had deserted and who returned to camps by April 1. Although the plan was intended to bring the record number of soldiers who deserted following the Battle of Fredericksburg back to camps without fear of punishment or deadly consequences, other soldiers like Lieut. Tom Moore certainly also benefited.

The March 17, 1863 edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman included President Lincoln’s “Proclamation Respecting Soldiers Absent Without Leave”:

. . . I, Abraham Lincoln, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do hereby order and command that all soldiers enlisted or drafted into the service of the United States, now absent from their regiments without leave, shall forthwith return to their respective regiments.

And I do hereby declare and proclaim that all soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave, who shall, on or before the first day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, report themselves at any rendezvous designated by the General Orders of the War Department number fifty-eight, hereto annexed, may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters, and punished as the law provides. . . .