was read to the company at the five o'clock roll-call, in which he commended the bravery of the troops in the action of the 13th of December, and sought to comfort and encourage them, saying, ‘It was not a defeat, but a mistake.’
The reader will remember our allusion to his visit at Harrison's Landing
, and our remarks upon the hopeful patriotism of Old Abe.
We believe this period, from December, 1862, until the following May, may be termed the darkest hours of the Army of the Potomac.
The death rate in the camps during the winter must have been higher than during any other season of cessation from active duty in the field or on the march.
This was not due to any circumstances of the situation of the camps; these deaths and the diseases from which they often resulted, were the culmination of the excessive fatigue, hardships, and wounds of the three campaigns, hastened by the despondency which the immediate military situation engendered.
Every afternoon we heard the ‘Dead March,’ and every afternoon saw some funeral cortege moving to the little cemetery at the rear of White Oak church.
We had but one death in our company, although several were discharged, whose disability, in the judgment of the surgeons, rendered it improbable that they would again be serviceable soldiers.
We believe the number of these did not exceed four. One comrade who passed ‘over the river’ at this time, deserves more than a passing notice.
, our chief blacksmith, a skilful mechanic, a good soldier, an upright man, succumbed to a fever which must have been malignant indeed, to overcome a constitution so strong as our comrade possessed.
We lost a man whose place was difficult to fill; for, beside the constant requisition upon his services for horse-shoeing
, and for repair of our equipments, there were emergencies often arising in our career when very much depended upon this artificer's genius to contrive and skill to execute.
's character compelled the respect of officers and men. The eulogistic remarks of the venerable chaplain of the Fifth Maine, who officiated at the funeral, remarks which must have been inspired by our commander, attested how thoroughly the latter appreciated the deceased.
Some days before New Year, evangelists, under the auspices of the United States
Christian Commission, began to hold meetings