Dr. William H. White Civil War Diary

The following diary of William D. White’s paternal grandfather has been transcribed as originally written, without attempts to correct punctuation or standardize formatting. NCW

WH White Civil War 240.jpgWilliam Henry White MD 1824-1867 240.jpg

Diary of Brigade Surgeon  Dr. Wm H White Wil. Del.

Friday, May 2nd, 1862 – Left Wil. in the morning train for Balt. when we started rained a little. Took with me A. C. Brown and John Beck. Arrived at Baltimore about half past 12. called on Genl Dix. Left the boys at the depot to take charge of the baggage and horse.

Left Baltimore at 6 p.m. had some trouble to get Fanny on the boat. The boat (Adelaide) was very full of freight on the deck. Took a state room and all slept there, had breakfast on board passed near the Monitor, Galena, Vanderbilt, and several other war vessels. Capt. Crossley of the first Del. reg’t came on board before we went on shore. Arrived about 9 a.m. Saturday 3rd. had the horse fed at the Govern’t stable and left at 2½ p.m. on the steamer Nantasket and arrived at Cheeseman’s Creek at 4½ p.m. Slept and had breakfast (Sunday morning on the steamboat). The first thing we heard of when we got up was the evacuation of Yorktown by the rebels. I rode over to Yorktown, 10 miles, and saw Dr. Tripler, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, and was ordered to come on to Yorktown. Stayed on a barge all night and Monday 5th when we arose it was raining quite fast and everything was on the move for Yorktown. Started Augustus on horseback, and I took John on the boat. When we arrived found Augustus had found a nice hut and put fanny in it. Monday night slept on the Ocean Queen (hospital ship) and the boys on the Elizabeth.

Tuesday 6th – Went on shore about 9 a.m. The boys hunted up a Secesh tent for our Head Qrs. Wednesday 7th nothing important. Thursday 8th leave the Ocean Queen for good no of sick on board. 800 ride to Williamsburg to report to Dr. Tripler according to orders. Assigned to Yorktown to act with Dr’s Wheaton & Greenleaf. Friday 9 arrive back to Yorktown about 1 o clk p.m. and have the tent pitched and had some coffee and bread and bacon for supper.

Saturday 10th Engage a contruband to cook and Augustus took him out among the old camps and gathered a lot of cooking utensils and also a tent for him to sleep in. Sunday 11th at 10 a.m. went to see the wounded men. Augustus went along. In the afternoon amputated an arm above the wrist. Monday 12th the boys laid a floor and done some other fixings round the tent they have fixed it up quite nicely and have made it quite comfortable. In the afternoon amputated a leg above the knee.

Tues. May 13 – Augustus took the horse and went out and brought in an old tent for an awning in front of our house tent. have given Augustus sole charge of furnishing provisions, which we get from the Commissary with the exception of Butter, fresh Bread, Eggs tie Wednesday 14th Cloudy all day but no rain

Thursday 15th. Rainy all day, some of the time quite hard, wind N.E. rained considerable through the night. – Friday 16th cleared off this morning Went over to Dr. Munson’s to examine a man who died this a.m. He was brought in yesterday and said he had not passed any water for some time. We introduced a catheter and took about ½ pint of urine from him. When we made the examination we found the bowels much inflamed and made up our minds he had been sick for some time. Augustus wrote home.

Saturday 17 – Fine, clear morning. In the afternoon Mr Adams of New York & Mr Mussey of Patterson, N.J. called at my tent to inquire about going to Williamsburg after the bodies of some men who had been killed there. We quartered them over night, the boys giving up their bed and sleeping on the floor.

Sunday 18th – There was service in the church to-day. The Chaplin of the 44th preached. We met Mr McCully, (Baker) of Wilmington, here to-day and invited him to my tent. He had been up after the body of his brother who was in Col. Small’s reg’t and was killed at Williamsburg. He stayed with us over night.

Monday 19th – We sent some letters home by Mr McCully. The 44th reg’t N.Y. Vol. left here this p.m. on a boat bound up the river. Mesers Adams & Mussey came back and went to the Dr. Mustus to stay over night. Tuesday 20th Nothing of importance.

Wednesday 21st – Quite warm to-day

Thursday 22nd – Another warm day, had a hard shower of rain with heavy wind which lasted about an hour from 5 to 6 p.m. A man delirious with fever jumped from the 2nd story of the Dix Hospital and in a short time

Friday 23rd I took a ride out to Dr. Dexter’s who has charge of a Hospital about 4 miles from Yorktown and on the way home after dark fanny got into a ditch and had to scramble to get out arrived back to the tent Saturday 24th = Quite cool & cloudy. Dr. Dexter called to see me, and went to Wheaton Hospital commenced to rain about 9 a.m. wind N.E. toward Eve got quite cold Augustus found a small stove and put it up in the tent Augustus rec’d a letter from home

Sunday 25th Quite cool

Monday 26th = Cloudy, wind S.E. Took off a man’s finger this a.m. began to rain about noon and continued all dy.

Tuesday 27th Dr. Wheaton took dinner with me, had roasted oysters, cloudy cleared off after dinner. Went out to Dr. Dexter’s and he assisted me in removing a cancer from the breast of a secesh who lives near where the Dr is stationed. arrived back at 9½ p.m. Wednesday 28th – Took the end of a finger off for one of the men at Wheaton Hospital. Had a heavy shower this p.m.

Thursday 29th = I took a sail on the river with the capt. of one of the schooners lying here. The cook caught a mess of crabs this a.m. After dinner had Augustus put a flag on the Hospital with “Wheaton Hospital” on it in honor to Dr Wheaton Medical Director. At 6 p.m. Dr Wheaton took supper with me, had boiled crabs. Dr Dexter called before we got through and tried a few and they gave our cook much praise. Quite an excitement was caused this Eve by the explosion of some three or four shell which were accidentally set off by one of the soldiers. fortunately no one was injured.

Friday 30th Fine warm morning, wind N.W. About 6 a.m. had a heavy shower with thunder and lightning and continued to be wet all day.

Sat. 31st = rainy all night cleared off about noon

Sunday June 1 = Two boats with sick arrived this a.m. from the army

Monday June 2nd = One of the Hospital boats stopped and left about 60 secesh soldiers

Tues June 3rd = Had plenty of surgery to-day. two amputations of leg, two of arms, and one excection(?) of lower jaw. This p.m. rec’d orders to join the 65 regt N.Y. vol. and commenced packing, cloudy in Eve

Wednesday June 4th = commenced raining in the night, wind S.E. finished packing and went to the wharf. Could not get the horse on board so Augustus and John had to wait till to-morrow. I stayed on the boat over night. Thursday June 5th = Fine cool morning wind N.W. went back to Yorktown in the same boat which reached Yorktown about 11 a.m. and waited till the boat for white House came along but could not get the horse on. Pretty soon the steamer Commodore came along and I got permission to go up on her so we got aboard and left for Yorktown at 2½ p.m. had a pleasant ride up the river and anchored about 1 mile below White House Landing where we had to stay all night.  Friday June 6th I went ashore in a small boat took John with me and sent a tug to bring Augustus and horse. About 3 p.m. started Augustus on horseback for Dispatch Station and John and myself went up in the cars which reached there in the middle of the night.

Saturday June 7th Slept in the depot after getting out of the cars. Augustus went back to the White House to take care of the baggage till I send for him. I rode up to the regt with Capt Carswell Dr Mastes and John came up in a wagon.

Saturday June 14  Augustus arrived to-day where he has been since Thursday waiting for transportation but could get none so came without it.

Sunday 15th Set Augustus to making out Reports. The balloon made several ascensions to-day. Felt much better to-day. Can see the smoke of the rebel batteries from part of our Camp which is on the plantation of Dr Gaines around the house it is beautiful plenty of large trees for shade and back of the house is some fine meadow land. The Dr was taken prisoner some time ago but was released and arrived home to-day.

Tuesday 17th = About 9 p.m. the General rec’d orders to take his Brigade to Mechanicsville and they moved at midnight left Augustus to come with the baggage but before they got ready to leave on Wednesday orders were sent to the Quarter Master not to come as the Brigade was on its way back.

Wednesday June 18th = arrived back to camp about 6 p.m. We were in sight of the rebel camp and one of the men of the Brigade got a bite from a rattlesnake.

Thursday 19th = Quite warm through the day. This a.m. the rebels threw a shell near our camp, but no one was injured.

Friday 20th = The General has received orders to march at 8 a.m. Evening. We are camped on the plantation of Dr. Curtis about 1 mile from the other camp. The HdQrs are in the door yard, and it is finely shaded by large trees. One of the men of the first Michigan Infantry was wounded while on picket duty in the leg. Amputated the leg above the knee this afternoon. his name is Boswell C. Snuden(?) Co. J.(?)

Saturday June 21st Augustus wrote home. Dr Waters sent over some ice and I sent word to the different reg’ts and they each took a small quantity.

Sunday 22nd Went to church with the General in the afternoon I felt quite unwell. About sundown we had a fine shower.

Monday 23rd = Do not feel any better to-day. Dr Morrison calls it Billious fever. Did not sleep well last night.

Tuesday 24th = feel somewhat Better  Drs Morrison & Norris called to-day. I did not go anywhere to-day  Dr Prince(?) was in my tent sometime in the Eve

Wednesday June 25 = Clear, cool, morning. Some heavy firing this forenoon and also in the afternoon. Rode over to the Medical Director’s and to the camps this afternoon.

Transcriber’s  Note: The remaining journal entries were written in a different handwriting style by someone other than Augustus C. Brown. At some point between June 25 and 28, Dr. William H. White is captured and held prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond until around August 26, when the writer finds him stationed at Falmouth Station, and the journal ends.

Thursday June 26th = Clear, pleasant morning wind West. Sent in report at 9:10 a.m. The Genl rec’d orders to move with his command and left at 2 p.m. Augustus stayed back to go with the baggage. The wagon train went across the Chickahorning and parked.

Saturday 28th Left Savage Station at 11 a.m. and went to White Oak Swamp, where we found the Brigade and the Drs horse and learned that Dr White was a prisoner.

Sunday 29th At 2 a.m. the camp was aroused by the report of a musket and the cry rally! rally! but could find no cause and were soon quiet again. The troops left at 8 a.m. And the train at 6 p.m. for Charles City Point on James River. travelled till midnight and parked in a large wheat field 3 miles from the Point.

Monday 30th Went to City Point and parked near the river could hear heavy cannonading all day up the river toward fort Darling.

Tues July 1st warm and hazy moved our train about ½ mile to a large clover field.

Wednesday 2nd Started at 8 a.m. for Harrisons Landing about 8 miles farther down the river. It commenced to rain just as we were starting and the roads cut up considerable. When we got to the main road there was nothing but teams as far as we could see, and we only went about 4 miles which took us to sundown and then we stopped in a large field with the mud up to the hubs till morning. – Thursday July 3rd went about 4 miles farther when we parked again. The roads were dreadful all along the road were all kinds of clothing and every thing else scattered along which had been thrown out to lighten the loads.

Friday July 4th – Went in to camp this a.m. about 1 mile from the river.

Saturday July 5th – very warm nothing important

Tuesday 8th – President Lincoln was here and received the troops this p.m.

Wednesday 9th By the advice of Genl. Martindale Augustus & John started for Wil. Del. taking the horses and baggage. Arrived at Wil 2 pm Thursday.

Sat 19th Mr. Chatten of Newport Del. who has been living in Virginia was taken prisoner and then released came direct from Richmond where he saw Dr. White which is the first reliable news we have had since leaving Camp.

Monday 21st This morning’s Phila Inquirer has Dr White’s name in a list of released prisoners from Richmond.

Friday Aug’st 8th – Received a letter from Dr White requesting me to come with his baggage

Sat Aug 9th Left Wil at 4 ½ AM and arrived at Harrisons Landing at 7 ½ P.M. Sunday

Wednesday 13th Genls McCall & Reynolds arrived from Richmond

Thursday 14th At first rec’d orders to strike tents and pack up but did not get fairly started till daylight  Friday 15th passed cha. lesty(?) C. H. at 2 p.m. and over the Chickahonning on a pontoon bridge at 9 p.m. and parked

Sat. 16th passed through Williamsburg at 3 p.m. and camped 2 miles from the town

Sunday 17th passed Yorktown at 1 p.m. and camped three miles from town

Monday 18th Started at 5 AM and went nearly to Hampton Everything that was eatable along the way was taken possession by the boys

Tuesday 19th Went to Newport News and part of the Brigade were shipped this site(?)

Wednesday 20th – The balance of our Brigade left to day and our wagons were loaded on a schooner

Thursday 21st put the horses on board  and left this P.M. in tow of a steamboat

Saturday 23rd Arrived at acquier(?) at 2 P.M. Unloaded the horses and the schooner put out with the steam

Sunday 24th Unloaded part of the wagons and were stopped for orders

Monday 25th Unloaded the balance of the wagons and left at sundown for Falmouth Station near Fredericksburg

Tuesday 26th Found the Dr stationed at Falmouth