August 19th

First portion of Aug. 19th entry, HCP Collection.

Camp Life

There is something interesting and [illegible] in camp life.

And though it is attended with many inconveniences and often with hardship and suffering it still has something of a charm which makes a man feel perfectly at home. There are blended the serious, the comical, the sentimental and the ludicrous.

There may be found men of refinement and accomplished educational attainments. Men whose hearts beat high with generous impulses, men in whose hands might well be trusted the nation’s honor. There may be found men of fortitude and courage and to whom danger and difficulty would seem but as passing scenes of every day occurrence which to in [illegible] would be but to overcome. There may also be found men of weak minds, and of dastardly and cowardly dispositions. Men to whom vice is more sacred than virtue, men who are sunk to the lowest ebb of depravity and who would delight as much in distruction of their fellows by their their own corruption, as their on distruction is sure. But the latter form an exception. I am happy to say that I believe that a great majority of the American army, though not strictly moral, are possessed of enough of the principal of justice and honor to detain them from acts of crimination, or from a desire to lead others into such measures. Here there are many too whose lives are in strict conformity to the morality and religion, and whose acts and virtue we would do well to coppy. But these, alas; also form an exception. Thus a man who loves to study character and human nature will find no better place than in the Camp.

The scenes in camp are also varied. The things that occur today, are often entirely different from those things that transpired the day before. The mode of cooking, which is after a primitive fashion, and the ridiculous eagerness of the soldiers to obtain their food, with their manner of eating it, often forms an interesting and laughable scene. But above all the most exerting is packing up for a march. Everything is then all in a bustle and confusion. Camp kettles and eating utensils are hurried together. Soldiers hurrying hither and thither, packing their knapsacks, cleaning their guns, and striking their tents, lashing the wagons, with the usual hurry flurry impatience of the officers presents a picture at once lively and interesting.

Today our camp at Hunters Place presented such a scene. After everything had been packed and loaded and all men ready, we were formed into line and marched in our present camp above Fort Albany. From this camp (as from most others we’ve occupied since 21st July) we have a beautiful view of Washington and the Patomac. The Mich 2nd and the N.Y. 34 are stationed just to the west on our rear. The Mass 14th at Fort Albany. While on our front are ________ [Baird left purposely blank to fill later] Artillery.

Above, Baird references that the 14th Massachusetts Infantry was an artillery unit at Fort Albany. In fact, the unit was reorganized on June 20, 1861 becoming First Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. To see a map of the many fortifications constructed to protect Washington, D.C. click here. Zooming in will give you a better idea of how close together many of the forts were.

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Who’s Matthew Baird?

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