JOURNAL OF JAMES HOUGHTON

4th Michigan Infantry Company  Co K

    This dairy was transcribed exactly as John Houghton had written it, spelling errors and all. It can be found in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The John Houghton journal is published here for personal enjoyment and historical research. 

(Any further use or publishing of this work is prohibited and protected by copyright laws. If you would like to publish this you must first seek permission from the Bentley Library.)

1863

May the 20

    We start this morn to gow on picket again for mile north and west of camp. We stay on picket two days and then we went back to camp again.

Sunday May the 24

    I went and seen Benjamin Dickinson to day.

May 25

    to day I carry logs to build my shanty and fix up ground to build it on

May 26

    to day I build my shanty and move in to it

May 27

    to day I was on detail in the four noon and in the afternoon I washed my close

    Govener Blair and his Lady made the 4 Michigan a visit to day

May Thursday 28

    This four noon I write a letter to William and I drawed 84 dollars of my pay & after noon we started for      Kelleys forde and got to the brick church

Friday 29

     to day we got through to Kelleys ford about 2 oclock P.M. and pitched out tents

Saturday 30

    to day I scower up my gun for inspecton

Sunday 31

    I rest we went on picket

June Monday the 1st, 1863

    today I gow out on picket and I write a letter to Uncle and Samuel Samford

Tuesday 2

    to day I prepair for inspection

Wednesday 3

    to day I wrote letter to mother and Harry   

Thursday 4

    today I got 37 dollars of my money stole

June Friday the 5

    this morning I came off from guard and I wrote a letter to Lewis Dickinson

Saturday 6

    today I gow on picket again down to Kelleys forde

Sunday 7

    today we got relieved and gow back to our camp, and I wrote a letter to Wm Dickinson and Thomas Dick... {Page torn}

Monday 8

    To day I fix for inspection

Thursday 9

    To day I write a letter to ...... {can't read}

Wednesday 10

    This morning we recieve light marching orders with three day rations the next orders that came was to gow on picket down to the little ford and stay three days.

Thursday 11

    to day we are on picket down to little Ford it is the time that we get our first feast of cherrys

Friday 12

    today is the day that we gow on the patroll down the rappihannac 2 miles from little ford it is the time that we got the mulburrys and pies and milk

Saturday 13

    this morning we got rlieved and went back to camp. This after noon we get orders to march again at 7 oclock P.M. we started and marched 8 miles and then we stoped and stayed till morning

Sunday 14

    This morning we start again and gow through weaversville out to the railroad

Monday 15

    today we get through to Vannassis junction and camp

Tuesday 16

    today we are to Vannasis junction. I rote a letter to Michael today our regiment is gowing on picket to knight

Wednesday 17

    today we march through gum springs 16 mile from Vannasis junction it is the day of the cavalry fight at Aldie

Thursday 18

    We are in Camp at Gum springs today   

Friday 19

 today we march through Aldie and camp

Saturday 20

    today we are in Camp near Aldie

Sunday 21

    this morning we got light marching orders about 3 oclock. we packed up and started towards Ashly gap we went six miles we went to support the artilery

Several pages are missing from the Journal. I believe James understood the importance of what was to happening to him and his comrades. James continues his writing in a more comprehensive  style as he tells of the fighting the 4th Michigan would participate in the 1863 campaigns. James Houghton preserved for  future generations to see and understand what happened to the 4th Michigan Infantry in 1863. It is as follows:

This eye witness narrative is being written starting in early 1863, prior to Chancelorsville concluding after Gettysburg. It starts as John ships out to the 4th Michigan Regiment. Here is his reflections on his time in the 4th Michigan Infantry. It appears this was written after John had served with the 4th Michigan Volunteers.

( The type written in white is newly added portions of the narrative)

crawled up into bunk which was in the top tear Split the contents of his stomack down into the croud it is useless to say there was a scattering among the men below it was a mistery to the officers how the boys get their wiskey after a while suspision rested on an old Lady that came into the Barrax to get the Boys clothes to wash. She would put their canteens in the bottom of her basket cover them over with their clothes they were returned the same way well filled with whiskey after a while the old Ladys Basket was searched by the officers. the contents revealed the hole mistery the old Lady was put in the gard house and the Boys fun was Spoilt. time past on till the 11th of Apr. there had enough men came in to take out an other squad we were drawed up in line and was mustered into servis of the US by capt Smith we then recieved our uniforms and 3 days rations and started for the Boat got there in the eavning a terrible wind storm came up so they darsent Stayed out till about 3 oclock in the morning during this time we had to stay at the Whorf which was filed full of dry goods & grocery Boxes. The boys had to do something to pass off time so they began whitling the boxes after a while they got a hole in the box big enough so they could get their hand in and pull out a hand full of candy it was amusing to see the eager hands punching in that hole after candy. This box was soon emty & another box was soon opened and disposed of the sameway. When they had got all of the candy they wanted they began whitling some fine boot boxes  they soon had a hole big enough to pull out a pair of boots the box was soon emptyed and other boxes shared the same fate at that time such boots would sell for 8 or 10 dollars apair

when the officers found out what was going on there was a gard put over the boxes the boys consealed their boots under their overcoats till we got on board  the boat & got up into the lake then they began trying them on. There wasent but a verry fiew that got the right fit So they began Trading some couldent get their fit thet way so they had to leave them in the boat the Severe wind & rain storm that we had just had made the lake verry rough which cawsed an upheavel with the stolen candy. The candy was quite easily thrown up but when they tried to puke their Stolen Boots they had hard work of it, though they tried it as long as they was on the lake of corse Uncle Sam had to goot the billd we landed at Cleaveland & there tok the train for Washington by the way of Pittsburg Harrisburg and Baltimore here we git got off the cars & marched up through the citty. Broked street lamps window glass & c Showed the efects of a hard riot they had had a short time before. the Citty was strongly guarded to prevent another outbrake. We was treated there with a good dinner we then got aboard the train. arived at Washington in the Eavning slep on the floor in a large building over night. in the morning We saw 300 contrbands that had come to Massa Lincoln for protection they was a shady looking Set. We crost the long bridge. passed by the Rebel General Les residence got to convalesent camp about 10. oc there we drawed some more rations and then we took up our first line of march afoot for Alexandria  there we got on a boat Sailed down the Potomac. passed by Mt Vernon & Fort washington We also passed several Gunboats that was lying in the riverapearantly waiting for something to do. We arived in Ale Creek about dark stayed in a barrax over night. I say stayed becaws we could not Sleep we were atacted in the night by over whelming numbers we had no guns. in fact we didn't need any for a slight exertion with our hands would make them retreat in grate disorder though they would renew thir atact evrytime we would get to sleep. the enemy appeared to be of two different nations one was of a graish color the other was cinamon color. & when their bodies were mutilated they had a verry pecular oder. in the morning we did not wait to burry the dead but got board the train & pulled out for Falmoth arived there about 10 oclock. hereour squad was devided up and went into different Regiments where they were most needed. Alonzo Forcre, James Johnston, John Minor and myself went into Co K of the old 4thregt here I think we found as good a lot of Boys as there was in the whole Reg. all four of us had to go into onr tent which was only 6 or 7 ft square the inside was dug down into the ground 3 or 4 feet deep. in the bottom there was a bunk built just high enough to sit down on. when we wanted to sleep we had to fix up some poles for our feetto rest on and lie crowis the bunk. this we didn't half to en-dure but about a week. the Regiment was under marching orders when we arived with orders to have 8 days rations put up in Knapsack & haversack and to be ready to march at a moments notice. This was a general order from Jo Hooker evrybody new that that ment business the rations the we had to put in our knapsack took up room thet we wanted for our clothing so we had to throw away what we couldent arry. what little time we had before the army moved was spent in drilling. Colonel low went up in his ballon several times to view the Rebels postion. Apr 26 our Company was ordered on picket duty 3 miles north of camp. nothing ocured of any intrist while we were gone there was swarming flocks of crows flying over going in the direction of our camp, We though perhaps they were going to feed on the dead mules that had died during the winter. There was a little Negro Boy came to our reserve Selling ho cakes. I thought it was to bad that he coudent fly off with the crows for he looked to be of the same Nationality.

(The Battle of Chancellorsville) James Houghton now describes the movement to Chancellorsville and the battle as seen through his eyes.

April the 28 we were ordered back to camp. When we got there the citty of tents was all torn down pact up & was about ready to move. in a few minutes the Bugle call was heard in a little while the whole army was in motion. we went in the direction of Kelleys Ford. the road was almost litteraly Strewed with blankets overcoats & other garments that the Boys had to throw away on the account of the 8 days rations thet they had to carry. the Negros & poor white people fllowed behind & picked up what they wanted. We got about half way to the Ford & went into camp near Hartwood Church the next morning we started on. crossed the Rapinhannac river at Kelleys Ford part of the Army crost at US ford our 5th corps waided the Rapidan at Ellys dord we got there just as the sun was going down. the water was waist deep & very cold. we had to take off our catrige boxes and haversack and hold them up out of the water and plung in of all the yelping and yelling mongled in with some horid oathes. any one would think that the devels school was out for noon we was nearly 2 hours getting a crose and there we was in the dark wet. tired. hungry & cold and our company had to go out on Picket all night. a cold chilly wind blew from the Northwest all night. we was glad to see the sun rise the next morning the army then moved out in the direction of Chancelorsville. When we got in about one mile of Chancelorsville we come to a rebel camp. we took them so by surprise that they went off leaving some of their tents standing they also left one cannon the cannon was spiked and left where we found it we soon came to chancelorvillle this ville is composed of just one house situated at the intersection of Gordonsville plank road and the Orange County Pike we went down the plank road about one mile when we heard a volly of musketry just a head of us we could se the smoke roll up and that was about all that we could see we hasten down there to give aid but the Rebels had fled before we got there the firing was done by our 2d Brigade this was the opening of the Great Battle of Chancelorvile being May 1st this occured a little before sundown the night was spent in sending out scouting parties in different directions to learn the Rebels position our company was sent out in the direction of Fredericksburg after going about  8 miles we halted a little while to rest we had orders to not speak above  whisper it was soon discovered that the Rebels was coming done the road towards us. it was about midnight our company was too small to give them a stand so we about faced and went back got to the main army about 3 oclock we rested till daylight then went to building breastworks the day was spent in falling trees along the road & throwing diet up against them the pioneer corps was busily ingaged falling trees in front of us to prevent Rebel charge when night came we were pretty well fortifyed we had a pickett line stationed about 20 rods in front of us. about 6 oclock they were fired at by the Rebels they returned the fire and started to come back to us when they discovered that the Rbels had left  they then returned to their old postion it was soon after this time that Stonewall Jackson fell onto our 11 corps compleetky demoraliising them there was some of the wounded that was carried along the road by us one poor fellow that I noticed had boath legs shot off except a little hide that  held one leg fast to him they were bouth off above the kness  I never learnt wheather he recoverd or not in the eavning we could plainly hear the Rebels giving cheers after cheers over the victory they had just won. I never Shal forget the infearion whining twang that  they had on the end of their cheers it sounded as though it came out through their nose.

 

 the Rebels made frequent attacks till after midnight trying to break our line but failed this made our night rest short. the next morning was Sunday May 3rd the sun never rose brighter the Birds never sang songs sweeter than they did that morning. in a few minutes their songs was silenced by the roar of cannons and the rattle of musketry. the sun was dimed by the war cloud of smoke the Rebels were pressing our lines to the right of the Chancelorsville House. There was a small eminence there that General Meade ordered General Griffin to seaze & to hold. Griffin knowing well the mettal of his men selected for this duty from the 2nd and 3rd Brigade the 4th and 16th regiment when we recieved the order we started on double quick and in less than five minutes our lines streached out on that ridge Griffins batry at our left and the 16th Regiment at our right and Stonewall Jacksons men in frunt  throwing Shells and bullits as fast as they could

"have you placed the Regiments in position General?" Says Meade hurridly and anxiously. "I have," Says Griffin "are they troops on whome you can depend?" questioned Meade. "General," Says Griffin "they are Michigan men."  "But," sayed Meade, "will they hold their ground." "Yes General," Sayed Griffin "They will hold it against Hell." and we did behinde this battle line.

the shattered remains of the 11th corps saught reffuge and shelter and from this battle line their Blood - thursty persuers found a wall of fire that they could not pass. They made repeated efforts to drive us from the ridge but failed. Griffin opened up on them with his battem's which contained twelve peaces of cannon. some leaded with sollid shot and some with grape and cannister this seamed to almost clean the wods from Rebels for awhile the Rebel sharpshoters Soon brgan sending their hellish darts at us they were burrowed up in their rifel pits and behind trees where we could not easily touch them our regiment was there on the ridge without anything in front of us for protection and had to except of anything the Rebs might send us we endured this till about ten oclock then we moved about ten rods to the right and got behind Breastworks.

 the 16th michigan directly in front of us in the trench. the dirt that was throwed out of the trenches gave us quite a protection expetialy when we kept our heads low, one of our Boys stuck up a piece of tent for aa shade we soon heard something spat against the tent the same instant came the sharp crack of a rifle from the woods there was mearly a hole cut through the tent for the sun to shine through if one of our heads had stuck up there it would got served the same way. there was one fellow in co. G that had ben out on duty came in throwed off his knapsack and sat down on it to rest. he did not set there two minutes til he was shot in the head and instantly killed. after awhile some one discovered some smoke to puff out from behinde a large white oak tree up about 20 ft from the ground the distance I should judge was nearly 80 rods. there was a small rifle cannon put in position and fired at the tree. the bark flew from the tree and I guess the sharp Shooter to for there was no more bullets came from that way soon after this the Rebs began throwing shells at us some of them just going over our heads and exploding in the ranks of the 11th corps. one shell I noticed struck into a tree about 12 ft from the ground under which men were lying in the shade it is neadles to say they vacated that place. during the 4th day of May the fighting was more at intervals sometimes there would not be a gun fired on eather side. and then they would break out with all fury

 about 3 oclock the Irish  Brigade was sent into the woods in frunt of us to take a Rebel Battery thay had not gon more than ten minutes before they returned loosing I should judge nearly 1/4 of their number. soon after this the woods caught afire burning over the principle part of the battlefield. and it was thaught that a good many of the wounded was burnt up alive we could plainly hear the poor fellows scream and yell. we thaught from the agonys of being of being burnt the bodys of the dead men was compleetly roasted. their clothing burning on them helped to roast their Bodys beyond all Recognition. Someof them had layed in the sun for four days this and the fire made them swell up till they was as big as two or three common men their mouths were Swelled wide open. Their tongues protruding from their mouths full length. No Human being could be made to look any wors than they did. They were so chared up that we could not tell a white man from a Negro. nor a Union man from a Rebel.

 during the four noon of the 5th the Rebels made their last attempt to break our lines. They were discovered advancing in two lines when they got up in good range Griffins batry was opened up on them this with a fiew rifle shots soon cleaned the woods of Rebels. there was not another gun fired till 3 oclock. Then Jo Hooker ordered the 4th Regiment to go in and Stir them up our orders was to shoot the first live thing that we saw in front of us. So we jumped the trench and over the works and down into the woods we wnt we had gon but a short distance when up jumped a little rabbit he bounded along ahead of us til he came to his hole and there he sat up as straight as a Rebel Major he wore a gray coat. So comrad Baker thoght he must be a Rebel so he dreww up and fired. The rabbit nearly drped into his hole and was out of sight. a little farther on brought us where those burnt bodys were which I have previously discribed we soon came to the Rebel picket line they fired at us and ran back behinde their breastworks. we fired at them. an ran after them loading and firing as we went at the same time giving a wolverine yell when we got in about 20 or 30 rods of their breastworks they opened on us with grape & cannister followed vollys of musketry that extended boath ways as far as we could see. this brought us to a halt here we exchanged tickets for a little while the ticket that was intended for me struck into a white oak tree throwing splinters into my face. till it made it smart. if the tree had not stood, there I should stood there myself. We happened to stop in a low place so a majority of the shot went over our heads the loss of our Regiment here was 30 Killed and wounded after their position was thouroughly tested we about fased and went back where we would come to a dead man we would pick up his gun and crack it around a tree so the Rebs wouldn't get it when the Regiment returned to their old position they were highly complimented by our commanding officer Joseph Hooker for obeying his order so well. This was done in presents of the mane body of the Army and was the last fighting that was done in the Battle of Chancelorsville.

about one hour after this it began to rain and rained for 2 or 3 days. we held nour position till about 10 oclock in the eavning then the army began moving out towards U.S. ford the roads soon got us a terrible condition. The mud was 3 or 4 inched deep and was a regular Slush and we had to Splash through it. There had ben a temporary telegraph wire strung along the road to carry news from the battel field after the battle was over the wire was torn down. some of it lying in the road it was dark and quite frequently the boys would catch their toes in wire and go headlong into the mud. there was some Swear words heard over the matter There was one good natured fellow that had the misfortune to fall into the mud His gun going nearly out of sight in mud I asked him what he was doing down there. his reply was thet He was just getting ready for inspection. we marched all night arrived in sight of US ford about 8 oclock the next morning. from there we went to the right about 1/2 mile got behind some fine log breast works that the Rebbels had made for their own protection. we was there to guard against an expected flank movement. but there was no Rebs put in their appearence.

( Thus ends Houghton's narrative of Chancellorsville )

after our army was nearly all acrost the River we left our position went back to the ford crost the River and stacked arms on the Northern bank of the Rapihanoc there we was guard for the 1st Michigan while they took up the poontoon Bridge. after the Bridge was safely landed on the Northern Shore we started for our old camps going some 7 or 8 miles through a dence piece of woods without any road we reached our camp about 5 oclock PM May 6th This made us a ten days campaign of which time we had but verry little sleep or rest. after we got rested up we went to fixing up our quarters we carried logs and built our shantyys up hogher. cleaned the ground off and got out everygreen Shade trees which made our streets look nice. though no one could tell how long we could stay to enjoy them. our time was spent in drilling and doing camp duty.

the 19th of May we went to a Grand Review 2 miles South of camp. here the whole Petomac Army was on perade Marching in companys the companys was devided up so each company had about the same number of Men this made the columes look better. the ground Selected for this purpos was acrost a vally which was nearly 1/2 mile acrost. the ground was situated so we could see a living moving mass of humanity of nearly 100000 men from any part of the ground. they were all dressed in uniform armed and equiped for War. This was a sight verry seldom witnessed. we were marched acrost the vally and back leaving a space between the two columns of 7 or 8 rods. in this space al the comaniding Generals and officers rode on horse back viewing the Army. after the review was over we went back to Camp.


Generals and officers rode on horse back viewing the army after the review was over we went back to Camp. the next day we was ordered on picket duty four miles north west or camp. nothing disturbed us while we were gon except one night there was a couple or plantation hounds came near our picket post barking at us as though they thought they could drive us away. when they saw that we were wolverine yankeys they gave it up as a hard job. we looked close for their masters but failed to see them. after our 3 days picket duty were done we went back to camp. May the 27th Governor Blair and his Lady made our regiment a call. the Governor made a short speach that cheared up the Boys to quite an extent. the next day was Payday we drawed our pay,

our Regiment was then orderd to go to Kelleys Ford to guard the Ford the distance was 28 miles. we reached Hartwood church and wentinto camp for the night. the next morning we started on reached Kelleys Ford about 2 oclock PM here we stuck up our tents ate our dinners and the next thing was to establish our picket post this was son done we then had to take turns in guarding them we would be on post 2 hours and off 4. this gave us some time to rest. we also had to have a camp guard we was right in a country of garilleys and bush whackers and had to guard evry thing eaven to the horses there was a long time that we couldent get any mail. the bushwhackers would shoot our mail carrier and capture the mail.

after a while the Chaplin of our Regiment was going to Africa Creek on business so he thought that He would try and carry the mail through and bring it back so one morning about 8 oclock theReverend Old Gentelman started out on horse back with the mail. He had not ben gon more than 1/2 hour before he came riding back to camp compleetly riddled with irreligious bullets Chaplain Sage sayed that there was 3 Men steped out from behinde a tree that stood by the side of the road and orderd him to surrender he asked them under what condition they wanted him to Surender they told him unconditional Surrender He then gave spurs to his horse and road back as fast as He could he sayed the bushwhackers shot at Him as far as they could see Him. he brought the mail bag back with Him we all felt quite disapointed to see the old Genteiman coming back for we was all expecting letters from home at his return

previous to this A1exander Patrie of Company B had carryed the mail for the Regiment He had ben Home on a furlow for some time one night it was reported that Alexander had got back and was going out with the mail next morning. the Boys Spent the eavning writing letters home the next morning Alexzander started out witb the mail He took a different road from what so He went through and came back al right, although he was fiercly atacted by garil1eys but came out best. we had ben without mail for 10 or l2 days so nearly all got letters from home.

there was anotber Forde 3 miles down the river from Kelleys called little ford it was quite evident that the bushwhackers was crossing back and fourth at that place so our company was orderd down there to guard the ford it was now the 10 of June we started out taking an old road that went through the woods in direction of the little ford. when we had got about 2 miles from camp we Saw 3 bushwhackers about 10 rods ahead of us at the forks of the road. Captain Mclean orderd us to halt the next order was to load at will load. the cartriges was soon ramed down our guns. the cap put on and was ready we dident wait to count our motions eather but wile we was doing this our game got out of sight perhaps they thought there was to many of us for them to handel it appeared that the bushwackers was guarding evry road in the country one mile more brought us to the little Ford a short distance back from the ford was an old house around this house there had ben a small clearing made but had grown up in bunches of Second groath pine. our pickets were posted in these bunches of pines. one post was in the old house. we dident half to walk any beat we was watching for bushwhackers so we took bushwhackers stile for it. our reserve was between the old house and the ford. the first night we stayed there I was on post til about 12 oclock was then Relieved and went to our reserve to rest here we was allowed to lye down. though we had to keep our things all on and gun in our hands and be ready to fall in at a moments notice I was verry Slleepy and tired. I had just got to Snoosing my best when a Sharp crack of a rifle was heard up to the old house. we jumped up fellin and was up there in about two minutes. the Soldiers name was Baker that was on that post He sayed that he heard a noise in the brush a short distence from the house like some one walking when he could see about where it was He fired at it. The noise soon stoped. we dident care to go and look for his game but kept a sharp look out for move after this there was 3 men put on each picket post after evrything was quiet we went back to our reserv and got what rest we could the remainder of the night.

the next day Captain Mclean considered it necessary to go on a patroll down the river two or three miles to see if there had any Rebs crossed so he made a detail of 6 men to go with Him I was chosen as one of the 6 to go. so we started out going on the east bank of the River. going as close to the stream as possible to see if there had ben any Rebs crossing in boats. when we got about 2 miles from the little Ford we found a boat where Some Rebs had crossed the boat and paddle was yet wet. and from all apearance they had not ben gon but a fiew minutes. Captain Mclean pickedup the paddel nocked out the back end of the boat and sent it adrift down stream & left the Johneys to get back the best they could.

1/2 mile farther braught us out to a large Plantation. here we was treeted kindly and from all appearance they were Union People we could buy any eatibles that we desired and we improved the oppertunity to. here we were met by a Patroll from the US Ford they reported evrything to be all right down the River. Learning this we returned back to the little Ford with our canteens filled with milk our haversack with cakes & pies that we had baught of the Old plantour we also feasted on mulberrys & cherrys that grew along the bank of the Rapihanoc the next day any of the Boys was ready to go on the patroll for the sake of getting something to eat. after we had served out our 3 days picket duty our company was relieved and went back to Kelleys Ford it now being June 13th

it was discoverd that the Rebs was moving Northward going on the east side of the blue Ridge Mountains distance some 10 or 12 miles west of Kelleys Ford there was some of our cavalry & light Artilery sent over there to give them a brush and learn if they were intending a general movement. they threw Shells back and fourth pretty lively for along time. it finaly became evident that the Rebel Army was moving North with all forces they being on the side of the Mountain we could plainly see al their movements by the smoke

 our pickets were all drawed in our tents were packed and at 7 oclock PM our whole Army began moving north went 8 miles and went into camp for the night the next morning we started on. went through weaversv1lle reaching the Orange and Alexandria Railroad just night the next morning we followed the Railroad to Manasses Junction. at the time of the Bull run fight the Rebels tore up Seven miles of this RR Track. they made a large fire with the ties and laid the rails acrost the fire heating and bending them so they could not be relaid where there was bridges they put blasts in the butments blowing them all to peaces I saw one train of cars that they burnt on the track. it was our orders to keep as near as we could between the Rebel army and Washington. it was thought by some that we was going to have a 3d Bull run fight but that did not prove to be the case. the night of the 16 our Regiment was ordered on picket a little west of Manasses junction our pass word that night was Trenton evry man that came near our posts that night was halted and if he Sayed Trenton we would let him pass if not he was put in care of the officer of the guard.

the next morning it was reported that the Rebels was in the vacinity of Ashbys gap. our Regiment was orderd to move in that direction and to get as far as gum springs that day. this we done though with some sacrifice of life. This was one of the hotest days of the season.and it was a verry prequent occurrence to see men by the side of the road fainting with Sun Stroke the Drs done what they could for them but could not tend to them all. the road was through a dence forest the most of the way which made it verry sufficating there was the most stragling done that day there was during the whole summer though no one got punished. we reached gum Spring about Sundown and went in to camp for the night.

the next day the roar of Cannon and the xplosion of Shels was heard in the vacinty of Aldie it was Soon reported that our Cavalry & light artilery was having a hard fight and was being presed back. our corps was Soon moving out in that direction but before we reached their asistence they had succeded driving the Rebs back to Aldie we advanced within aboutt two m11es of Aldie and Stoped for the night. in the eavning our Reimental Brass Band Struck up and played some of the most patriotic peaces they could think of. it was a verry still night and I have no doubt but the rebs cou1d hear i t as well as we could as they were only two miles away. near by us was a House that was compleet1y spattered up with bullets from the fighting done the day before The Woman of the House Sayed that they ran down cellar for their Safety.

Newest Addition

the next morning our Regiment recieved light marching orders our knapsacks were filed up in a pile a gard was detailed to watch them while we were gon. our regiment in company with some cavalry and light artilery Started in persuit of the Rebels driving them back 7 miles west of Aldie. here we halted. waited 2 or 3 hours to see if the Rebs was coming back as they did not come we returned back to Aldie.

we passed through this little Town just as it was getting a little dusk. at the East Side of the Town was a mill the Boys thought that it would be a good chance to get Some flour to make gravy So they made a rush for the mill pushing and crowding l1ke,a flock of sheep to see who would get their Flour first. Some of the gready ones that was a little behinde the rest would put ten cents in their cup and reach it by the rest to get it fi11ed with the precious Stuff I of corse tried to get some but failed there was three men in there dealing it out to the boys as fast as they could as fast as their cups were filled they would start on a run to ceatch up with their companys. they did not go far till they discovered that their cups felt heavy. A little closer examination convinced them that it was plaster peris that they had ben bying. a fiew Cuss words was uttered over the matter and the white Stuff was Emptyed onto the ground in a fiew minutes the road was all white. with plaster Perris.

This was to big a joke for our Boys to recieve without a little retaliation as good luck had it we did not go but about 80 rods from the Town till our regiment went into camp for the night. here we found plenty of railes to build our fires with. we cooked and ate our suppers with out any flour gravy. during the Eavning there was quite a discussion among the Boys in regard to how they would get Eaven with the men at the mill. Some thaught it would Serve them right to burn the mill.

after the people in Town had gon to bed and evry thing was quiet. Some of the Boys went back to the Mill near by Sat quite a number of good fat hives of bees. the best one was Selected tied up in a blanket and brought into our camp now came the tug o~ war. they were Rebel bees and of corce they were fighting fellows. when the blanket was untied they came out by batallions forming charging on our company in a close hand to hand encounter which cawsed a Smarting Sensation nearly equal to Rebel Sharpshooters. our little company was grately out numberd and had to retreat and take up a new position on the oposite side of the fire. after a while there was a smudge made and the bees were subdued. the honey was divided among the Boys that bought plaster paris for flour. the Boys Seemed to feel that they had got their money back and left the mill unmolested.

the next morning after roll call was over a fellow in company G and my Self went downtown to to see if we could buy some eatibles. we hunted the llttle' town over but could finde nothing on our return back we discovered a nice herd of cows in a wheatfield we thaught perhaps Some of them was suffering for want of being milked so we examined the cows and found it just as we expected the one that had the largest bag was selected drove up in the corner of the fence I stood gard over the cow while my comrad done the milking. we drank What milk we could filled our canteens and started for camp we had not gon far till we found where some hartless fellow had killed a calf as we did not want the meat to lay there and spoll we Skind the hinde legs and each one of us took a ham and started for camp with the expectation of dividing our veal among the Boys. but to our Suprise when we got back the Regiment had gon not a blue coat was in sight.

we was then well aware of the danger we was in of being gobled up or shot by bushwhackers we cut off a fiew slises of veal threw them on the coales and while they were roasting we cut what meat we could from our hams put it in our haversacks and started in persuit of our Regiment. The Regiment had reached the place where we left our knapsacks before we caught up the Regiment remained at this place till the next day being June 2lst we then sholdered our Knapsacks and started on our long and tedious march north. The Rebbels were also moving north going in direction of Harpers Ferry

 

one day as we were going through the northern part of Virginia we halted for a short time in the door yard of an old Planter The Boys learnd By some of the Negros that the old Planter was an offiser in the Rebel Army. so the Boys did not care much what they done in the yard close by the House were some verry nice cherry trees filled with cherrys one of our Boys Sayed it was not necessary for the hole company to clime after cherrys so hh [he] took his hatchet clum to the top of the tree and began triming. the heavy load boughs were Soon all droped to the ground where our company could have free axcess to them other trees were served the same way til the Boys got all they wanted we then started on with out asking the ocupat of the House how they liked the triming

 

we crossed the Potomac at Edwards Ferry passed through Maryland by way of Buckeystown, Frederic and Unionville as we passed through the last through the last named town we kept step by the beat of the drums the Ladies and children were on the porches waving the Stars and Stripes and singing the Star Spangled banner. also a number of other Patriotic Songs Eaqualy as good. This made us forget our tired limbs and sore feet for a while. we were not usualy greeted in this kinde of way when in a Rebel country The nearrer the state line we got the more for the Union they appeared to be. it was the 30th of June that we crost Mason and Dixans line.

 

as Soon as the Regiment entered Pensylvania they were braught to a halt. the order was then given to Stack arms

    Colonel Jeffords Says "Men you are now Standing on Free Soil once more now give three cheers for the free States"

this was done, and if I ever heard the woods ring with cheers it was then. it; was then immaginary that we could breathe purer air in

 

 a short time the comand attision take arms was given and we were soon filing out in the direction of Gettysburg. the Rebel Army was now roaming at will over the free soil of Pensylvania they had boasted that they was going to give us battle on free Soil and see how we would like it. we were all well aware that hard Battle was soon to be faught during the day of july first we traveled over the same road that the Rebel Army had passed over the day before Familys left their Homes in fright leaving their House for the Rebs to plunder this they done with pleasure especialy all eatibles This was a verry exciting time for the people in Pennsylvania for they new not what they would do or where they would stop.

 

( The Battle of Gettysburg)

 

in the after noon of July first the roar of battle was heard in the vacinity of Gettysburg our Regiment was put on a forced March to get there as soon as possible but did not get there in time to give any aid that day. we Stoped for the night near little round top. we were to tired to cook any Supper so we ate a cold lunch which consisted of raw pork hardtack and sun cooked coffee we then layed down to get what rest we could. we were well aware that the next day would be a day of bloodshed and that with some of us our next slep would be the cold sleep of death during the night we were frequently awakened by the arival of other Troops coming in and taking their positions. the heavy tred of infantry the ratling or canteens and the command of officers was herd all Night.

 

4th Michigan's actions at Gettysburg July 2, 1863

 

Little Round Top 2003

 

 

The next morning nearly the hole Potomac Army was there ready for duty. The 5th Corpse to which the 4th Michigan belonged was Stationed near Little Round top as reserve and could be sent to the right or left at Short notice. during the forenoon of July the 2d the fighting was not verry severe boath Armys were making preparations for  a bloody contest it was about 3 oclock PM that the blow came it was between Sickles 3d Corps and Longstreets Corps the former holding his position near the wheat field and Peach orchard. our Regiment was Soon called to their support we was ordered to fall in and was then furnished with 20 extra rounds of catriges which we put in our haversacks where we could get them handy. we was then marched out into the fields west of little roundtop and came to a halt our officers told us that if any of our canteens were empty that we had better get them filled for we might want water Soon we well understood what that ment so all those that did not have a supply Started out in search of water. the ground was quite level and there was no springs to be found. nearby was a ditch that had some stagnate water in it we poaked the Skum one side with our cups then gaave the water a spat to scare the bugs and wiglers to the bottom then filled our canteens and returned to our Regiment

 

we then marched near to where the Third Corps was Fighting. the Regiment that we was to releave was stationed in the north end of a narrow strip of woods that lyes directly west of the wheat field. there was also a battery planted there that was feading the Rebbels with gape and canister as fast as they could we was now under fire in good earnist bullets were whizzing buzing and spatting all around us. we were ordered to lye down as we could do no firing while there were other troops in front of us. While we were lying here the Man to my left had His blouse sleeve torn from his wrist to his elbow throwing the reffuse of his sleave in my face. of corse we thaught this was rather careless work but we could do nothing but lye still and wait for another there were frequently wounded men passing by us telling us to go in and give them hel after a while the battery and Infantry that was in front of us Seased firing and moved out in the direction of Little Roundtop, our Regiment moved up and ocupied their position at this moment the Rebels Seased firing and there was lull in the battle though this was only to make preparations for a harder attact after

 

4th Mi approximate position in the Wheatfield (the spot where Colonel Jeffords died) the woods from witch the confederates launched their attack another view of the woods (Stony Ridge) the wall from where the union  put fire on the confederates that stop the assault

  

 The Wheatfield, Rose woods, & Stony Ridge

waiting here a fiew minutes we moved in line of battle to the South end of this narrow Strip of woods that lies west of the wheat field. here we opened fire on the Rebs in good earnest we were busily engaged firing at the Rebs that was south of us when a rattling of canteens and a heavy tread of Infantry was heard in our rear observing a little closer we saw that they wore the gray uniform and were not over 10 rods distant they were on double quick passing through the woods out into the wheat field East of us. our good 0ld Regiment was now in a criticle Situation there was Rebels South west, North, and Northeast of us. there was now only two things for us to do that was to Sur- ender or to pass out directly in front of their lines and recieve the contents of their well loaded rifels Soon the order came to about fase forward double quick march and in less than two minutes our Regiment was passing out acrost the wheat field directly in front of the Rebels, it was here that the crash came a Storm of lead swep through our ranks like hail many of our noble Boys fell to the ground never to rise to their feet again. others were wounded but could hobble a way

 

Description of the death Of Colonel Harrison Jeffords

 

our Color Barrer was wounded and droped the flag a Rebel grabed the flag and was in the attempt of carrying it a way when our Colonel drew his revolver Shot the Rebel and regained the flag. a moment later a Rebel thrust a bayonet into the Body of our Noble Colonel giving Him a fatal wound about 2 rods south of where this occured my tent mate James Johnston was shot He was but a fiew feet in front of me when He fell. I herd Him Say I am Killed this was the last words that I herd Him speak the rest was groans there was no help for Him. when we reached the East side of the wheat field there was a line of Infantry ris up from behinde a stone wall firing a deadly volley into the Rebel ranks which checked the Rebels and sent them back.

our Capta1n James B. Mclean was wounded in chin left leg and heel but could yet Hobble along He asked me to aid Him in getting to the Hospital I told Him that I would do what I could for Him I carried all of his things eaven to his Sward and belt he sayed his Sword hurt the wound on his leg He put His hand on my Sholder and hobbled along we took an old road that went winding through the woods between the two Round Tops. this was the Road that the principle part of the wounded had ben passing during the day. it was a verry frequent occurence to see pools of blood along the road where the poor fellows had stoped a fiew moments to rest some were sitting under trees by the road side aperantly to weak to go any farther. There was not amblences wagons enosgh to carry only the worst cases captain Mclean was so weakened from loss of blood that He frequently had to stop and rest blood was gushing in His boots evry step He took, and blood was also running down His long chin whiskers from the wound on His chin cawsing a fearful appearance.

after going about one half mile east of little Roundtop we came to a 3d corps Hospital this Hospital was situated in a Barn and Barn yard as we came to the gate we were met by a gard who informed us that they had about 300 wounded in Hospital and could not possibly admit any more the captain was to weak to go any farther so He layed down on the ground saying He would bye there till they could take Him in. I passed through the gate where the wounded were lying and a fearful sight met my gaze. The wounded were lying on the ground in rows acrost the yard with Allies between for the waiters and Sergeons to pass through. at the east end of the yard were lying Some of the most hopless cases some were reathing in the agonies of death waiting only for the messenger death to claim its victim I took one of the allies that led to the west end of the yard here the Surgeons were busily at work probing for bullets and amputating Limbs. it requires a man with a steel nerve and a case hardend heart to be a Army Surgeon at this moment, the Battle was raging more fierce than ever. at the round tops clouds of smoke were rooling up as though a dozen Steam Engines were there at work the Boom of Cannons the crash of musketry was insesant the war cloud was rolling up in its wildest form which actually shaded the Hospital and aded gloom to the ocasion from where the Surgeons were at work I took an alley which led in to the Barn. the Barn was filled with the wounded to its utmost capasity and if I ever heard a Barn full of groans it was there it was more than I could stand

I soon made my way back to the gate where the Captain was lying He gave me His Sword and belt and requested me to give it to our first Lieutenant so I started out in Sarch of our Regiment I had not gon far when I met the Lieutenant coming I gave Him the Sword and told Him of the Captains Condition He replied we must get Him away from there so we went back where the Captain was lying the Lieutenant borrowed a streacher we got the Captain on to it and carried Him to another Hospital here his wounds were dressed and He was well cared for.

Devils Den 2003

as soon as possible I returned to little Round top in Search of my regiment it was now quite dusk our men had all been prest back to the round tops leaving the Peach orchard, Wheat field and Devels Den all in the posesion of the Rebels the Rebels yoused this Den for their Rifle pitts their Sharp Shooters firing from the crevises of those Rocks at our men on the top of little Round top done distructive work This was where General Warren & Wead were boath Killed. if the Devels Den was ever ocupied with the devels imps it was then I was told by good authority that there was 170 dead Rebel bod1es found in and around that Den they had got wounded and crawled in there for safety but had to Die. the name of this place orriginated years before the Battle from its rough apearance it is only about 10 or 12 rods in length with the most Prominent side rasing East towards Little Roundtop. the most prominent side of little Roundtop is facing west so they are fasing each other about half way up this little mount was a Cow trail with nearly room enough for a Single file of Infantry to pass through

it was along this trail that our front line of battle were stationed on the eavning of July 2nd the men that held this line were Men that had stood the brunt of the fight their hands and faces were smeared with burnt powder. till they more resembled men from a loging field than any thing else, the Sulforouse oder that filled the eavning air that night would reminde one of nearing the infernal regions it was sufficating, I soon made my way to the east side of Little round top where we first started from but my regiment was not there I was tired out and sat down on a log to rest and in spite of my hardest efforts to keep a wake I fell a sleep and new no more till I awoke in the next morning when I found myself well incumberd with the leaves and rubish by the side or the log

 when I found my regiment they were stationed nearly oposit of General Meads Headquarters they were so badly cut up in the wheat field that they were not called on to do any more fighting at Gettysburg Companys S and C were nearly wiped out of existance not enough to form a command so before leaving Gettysburg companys K I and C were all Consolidated into one company and the 3 Companys numbered only about 34 men after the battle was over the

next in order was the burrying of the dead I wishing to know that my tent mate was deasently buried I precured a pass for myself and for a fellow by the name of George Tracey we started out going over a portion of the ground where Pickets great charge terminated in many places it was inconvenient to walk without Steping in clods of Human blood it was Rebel Blood so it did not seam so bad we son came to the Swishin House it was sayed at the time that this House was the farthenist point that General Picket reached in his grate charge and that He ran into this House and sheltered Him self from Bullets While His men went farther on towards our line the Family had left their Home for their safety the Doors were left wide open so we steped in and viewed the Old Colonel quarters in the midle of the flore sat an old fashond x [?] leged table aand a fiew old fashioned wod bottom chairs of the most anshant life the House was merely a board construction with a Leanto on the back side in this Leanto was a grind stone we took the privalege of grinding our hatchets and then started on for the wheat field

when we arived at the wheatfield we found men there busily ingaged in burrying the dead They informed me that they had just got my tent mate burried they showed me His grave His Knapsack and haversac still lying on the ground where he fell He had recently bought a new tin cup which was buckled onto his Haversack I took hold of it thinking I would take is it for a Keepsake examining it alittle closer found that a large minney ball had pased through his Haversack and went into his person I was told by the men that burried him that there was seven ball holes in his person there was clods of Blood on the groung where His lifes Blood had Ebbed away. His name was James Johnston from Hartwelville Mich. He was burried on the East side of the Wheatfield by a large Rock. The principle part of the dead was carried on stretchers to the woods west of the Wheatfield for interment. all the paines possible was taken in their burial trenches was dug and the bottom was neatly coverd with blankets and their remains was carefully an neatley layed side by side. blankets was torn into and made a roll to put under Each ones Head then blankets was spread over them and tucked down closely so no dirt could not tuch them. in some cases their Blody garments were removed and washed and dried on limbs of treas then Replased

Jeffords assailant is displayed for all to see

on the bank near the trench Lye a large Rebel Sargent one of our mineys balls had passed through His Head so quick that it dislocated all the Confedracy there was in it and it was gradualy oozing out onto the Ground for the flies to Diagnosis. It was said that He was the man that Stabed Colonel Jeffords

after we had viewed the prosess of thir burrying their Dead long enough we Went back to our Regiment The Rebbels was all gon and we were soon after them with gun in hand. it was thought by some that they were only falling back to take up a better position but that did not prove to be the case. on the 12 of July we overtook the Rebel Army at Williamsport MD, here they had thrown up earth works that was said to be 8 miles in length when we saw them we though t that another fight was shure to take place so we went to building breastworks our lines ran through a cornfield we carried Rails and piled them up in front of us then pulled up corn and threw on to the rails then shoveled on Dirt our Supply of Shovels was somewhat limited but we kept what we did have busey till we got our breastworks built we were expeting at any moment to be fired at by the Enemy but all we could do was to watch the front and wait results when Night came every thing was quiet. when Morning came everything was the Same it was Soon reported that the Rebels had all crosed the Potomac under the cover of the night. This showed that they build their Breastworks for the purpos of keeping us back while they could get a crost the river the 5th Corps was ordered to Berlin Md and remained there a fiew days to clothe the troops and on the l7th crossed the Potomac at Berlin and marched to warrenton by way of manasse gap arived at warrenton July 27 remained here for 4 days, arived at Beverly ford Virginia on the Rappahannock August 2d 1863 remaining here untill September 16

during our Stay at this place 5 Deserters were caught they had their court martial Trial and was found guilty and was Sentenced to be Shot. They were kept in a farm house about 1/2 mile East of Camp. When the day and hour came for their execution the whole 5 corps was ordered out to witness the execution when we got about half way to where the execution was to take place we came to a halt after waiting here some time we were ordered to about fase and we went back to camp. come to finde out there was 3 of those Deserters were Catholicks and they did not want to Die untill they had their Sins pardened So their sentence was posteponed 3 days. a catholick Priest was Soon procured, and Pardened their sins.

 when the 3 days had expired we were all orded out to witness their execution when we arived at the place where the execution was to take place we were formed in two lines the Deserters were taken from a farm house that was near by and marched down in front of us the Catholic Priest marched with them muttering words of consolation the martial band followed up playing the Death march and their drums were muffled making the ocasion more Sollem the Deserters were marched around where their graves were dug their coffins which was mearly rough board boxes were plased over their graves and each one was Seated on their own coffins where each one could see His final resting place. the to that were cousins were seated on the out Side one of them got up and went and kissed the other one and bade Him good by then went back to his seat Each one was then asked if they had anny thing to say they all shook their heads no they was then Blindefolded a squad or 60 men was marched up in front of them with loaded guns half of them were loaded with blank catriges the order was soon given to ready ame fire and they were all except one was Swept back on to they coffins in an instant. one of them would fell off one side had He not ben caught by a man standing near by. the Surgeons was there to examin the remains and they were all pronounced Dead there was nothing more for us to see so we were marched back to camp.

before leaving this plase there were to more Deserters caught one of them was Drumed out of camp the other one was Sentanced to be Shot. When the day and hour came for his exacution the army was moving to Culpeper the fifth corps came to a halt to witness the execution about the Same Sarimonies was went through

 

 

 Thus Ends

 the Journal of James Houghton

Company K

4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment

2nd Brigade

1st Division

5th Corp

Grand Army of the Potomac

 

    This dairy was transcribed exactly as John Houghton had written it, spelling errors and all. It can be found in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The John Houghton journal is published here for personal enjoyment and historical research. 

(Any further use or publishing of this work is prohibited and protected by copyright laws. If you would like to publish this you must first seek permission from the Bentley Library.)  

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