Civil War Diary Of Alonzo Smith- 2nd Conn. Heavy Artillery

Written in the Spring of 1865, covering the day to day of Co. “C”, 2nd CT. HA.

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Alonzo Smith enlisted form Torrington, Connecticut as a private on July 25, 1862 to serve for three years in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, company “C.”  He was discharged on July 7, 1865, after the Grand Review of troops at Washington, D.C.  He had subsequent promotions to corporal and sergeant in the year of 1864.

Alonzo Smith’s diary covers the spring of 1864, from January 1 to April 4, 1865. There are no new revelations concerning battles and their outcomes, but basic “short and sweet” commentary on the daily activities, camp life, promotions, the coming and going of men in his company, rumors of battle, actions, brief descriptions of engagements, and those in his immediate area.  Opinions on officers, issued equipment, good food or the lack of same, picket and guard duties, drill, parades, slept, whiskey, and just about everything a soldier could write about (particularly the sight of a single woman, and recording it a sight he has not seen for some time).

Some of the “meat” that one wants to see in a diary are excerpts here listed:

  • Jan.1 “Just seven months ago we made the charge at Cold Harbor.
  • Jan. 2 “We got news of Butler’s Expedition, a perfect failure, I am completely out of patience with Butler. Think he may have taken Fort Fisher with very little loss of life, if all accounts are true, I hope to see him dismissed from service.”
  • Jan.6 “Witness the execution of Peter McCox, 4th N.J. 1st Div, Brig., 6 Corps for desertion to the enemy, leaves a wife and three children. He very down cast and bad, he was shot to death sitting on his coffin.”
  • Jan. 9  “John Quinn returned to the company”{he was wounded at Cedar Creek}.
  • Jan. 11  “The rebs fired on the Jersey Brigade while they were building abatis, wounding one Lieut. and five privates.”
  • Jan, 11 (memoranda). “Court Martial three men sentenced to be shot to death for deserting, two thirds the court concurring there in. “I think Col. McKinzie & Capt. Fenn were the two thirds of the court. Gen’l Sheridan command the sentence.”
  • Jan. 14. “the pioneer corps fired on again today. A skirmish line to be sent out tonight to protect them, while they finish the abatis.”
  • Jan. 18. “I traded muskets with Dan’t Curtiss.”
  • Jan. 20.  “Get the news of capture of Fort Fisher, we took 2500 prisoners, 72 pieces of cannon, but we have not got the official report yet.”
  • Feb. 4 “On picket, some musket firing on the left of us. Sharp artillery firing on the right from 8am to 10pm, 3 shots fired into us, no one hit.”
  • Feb. 6″ (memoranda), Another battle can be incribed on the 2nd Conn banner, the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, the 5th Corps was there engaging the enemy when we went into the fight. We formed line “or tried to” 5th Corps broke through and had a regular panick for a short time, at last formed line and drove the Johnnies back.”
  • Feb 12  “White gloves were issued and what in the world are we coming to. It would suit no better if they issued a little whiskey instead of gloves. Wood very scarce here, had an incident with our chimney, the barrel blew off. wind has been high today.”
  • Feb.13  “Peace must come by the Bayonet since the south will not settle it any other way.”
  • Feb. 19 (memoranda), “on picket, at 10pm, a low whistle was heard, sentinel challenges, answer friends at that two deserters came into our lines and said there were twenty three more coming, all from the 33rd N.C. regt. Company I.  They like John of old to prepare the way for them. During the night twenty nine came into our Regt. and four into some regt. on our right. They said they spread their blankets and made the Capt. of their picket a good bed, when he got to sleep they came away and left him to enjoy his sleep They brought in sixteen muskets and their slings.”
  • Feb. 23  “Gen. Sherman was killed in Charleston by a citizen, hope it is not true. Sergt. Griswold mustered for a commission with twelve other.”
  • Feb. 24  “Saw forty eight Johnnies that came into our lines last night, a salute of one hundred guns fired, Wilmington is ours, rumors that Lee is about to evacuate Richmond and make a stand at Lynchburg.
  • March 2  “Came off picket line this a.m., the Johnnies fired six shots at us last night, no one hurt.”
  • March 4  “Rumored in camp that Uncle Abe cannot take his seat on account of a boil.”
  • March 8  “Company C & D on guard today. Eight Johnnies came into our Regt. last night, rumored that Gen. Sheridan has taken Gen.Early and all his command with him “1800” prisoners and that Sherman has whipped Beauregard and still marching on. Also that the cavalry and artillery are not to act as infantry any longer, hope that is true.”
  • March 13  “No news except the raid on Fredericksburg about four hundred prisoners and one hundred tons of tobacco. It is strongly rumored that we have a strong Union force moving on Lynchburg from East Tennessee.”
  • March 14  “The commissioner are here to receive votes for Governor, I voted for Buckingham.”
  • March 25  “..firing commenced on the left an advance of our lines hard fighting on the left, our Regt. in the fight”
  • March 27  “…rebs made an attack on the left of our Brigade, they were repulsed with heavy loss, fighting was kept up till 11am when they were slowed to burry the dead under a flag of truce.  “new” “rebs” that Sherman was whipped.”
  • April  2  “A charge made this morning, the whole length of our lines, broke the rebs line, got the south side road and several forts. I was left in camp sick.’
  • April 3  “Charged again this morning at three o’clock, went into Petersburg, from there followed the rebs. I was sent to Hospital at City Point.”
  • April 4  “Our army in Richmond, saw Uncle Abe yesterday.”

There is far more here for the student of the Civil War. Smith records the coming and going of men in his company who were wounded in prior battles and those leaving for furlough.  Promotions, and much more.

In the back of the diary are various accounts of his purchases; candles, tobacco, food, bread, cakes, and much more for January through March.

The last few pages Smith records letters received and those sent out, most of which went to his wife.

The diary was used post war, to record accounts from July 1865 o the next year when home, having nothing to do with his military service during the Civil War.

Condition is fine overall. He is an easy read, some phonetic spelling (I have edited words that might be unclear for the quick read).

Additional information

Weight .7 lbs