Civil War Diary of Clinton Hogue

Events below are from May 3 through June 22, 1864.

On 5 and 6 May 1864, the Union and Confederate armies met near an unfinished railroad in central Virginia, with Lee outmanned and outgunned, hoping to force Grant to fight in the woods. The name of the battle–Wilderness–suggests the horror of combat at close quarters and an inability to see the whole field of engagement, even from a distance. Indeed, the battle is remembered for its brutality and ultimate futility for Lee: even with 26,000 casualties on both sides, the Wilderness only briefly stemmed Grant’s advance.” from Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle by Stephen Cushman

For a summary of events of the campaign see: The Wilderness Campaign Summary of the Principal Events

An interesting link with a map is the Wikipedia reference to the Battle of the Wilderness.

The Kansas State Historical Society has a biography of Clinton Hogue evidently written while he was still alive.

According to the words of Clinton’s brother Harvey, “Clinton Hogue enlisted as a private soldier, participated in over thirty battles in the army of the Potomac, was severely wounded at Antietam, and also at Fredricksburg, and was discharged in July or August, 1865, as a Lieutenant of his company.

Below are the words of my great-grandfather Clinton Hogue as written in his personal diary. Note the bold text I have made on June 9 and 10 as the Union and Confederate soldiers agree not to kill one another.

May 3, 1864

Passed off quietly with nothing to disturb the monotony of camp life until dark when we received orders to pack up and to be ready to march at a moment’ s notice. We had been expecting marching orders for the last two weeks so that we were not surprised to hear the orders to pack up sung out. We broke camp at Culpepper at about eleven M. and took up our line of march going in the direction of Germania Ford. We marched all night not stopping for any length of time until the next day at ten P.M. when we halted to make coffee.

May 4, 11 AM.

Battle of Wilderness began. We resumed our march again. The boys feel somewhat refreshed after drinking their coffee and eating a few bites of hardtack. We crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford at about p.m. where we rested for an hour. We then took the road leading to Mine Run. We marched in that direction until about 5 p.m. We then halted for the night. The boys are footsore and nearly tired to death. A good many lying on the side of the road unable to keep up with their regiments. The day has been very hot and the road dusty.

May 5

We were aroused us by daylight and cooked coffee. We then moved off taking the road to Mine Run. We marched about 2 miles when we found that we were in close proximity to the Johnnys. We formed in line of battle, loaded our Springfields and advanced into the woods and built breastworks. We then advanced into the woods about a mile where the undergrowth was so thick that it was almost impossible to keep a line formed. Here we found the greybacks strongly posted in a ravine when a desperate fight took place, we driving the Rebs at first. When their reserves came up they drove us a short distance. We were then relieved by fresh troops. We lost heavily, both in officers and men. Our Company went in the fight with 30 men and came out with 18, losing 12 men in less than one hours fighting. We rested about an hour, then went in as a support. At dark the heavy musketry ceased and we rested on our arms until morning. The day has been extremely hot and sultry.

May 6

We were aroused up at daylight by heavy skirmish fighting in our front and the singing of minnies (cannon balls) around our heads. Now commences fighting in earnest. We drove the Johnnys back into their earthworks, not withstanding their artillery played into our ranks with deadly effect. Our Colonel was killed by a shell. We also lost several men in the days march. We were then relieved and taken back out of the woods where we made coffee and remained the rest of the day. The day has been rather cool and pleasant.

May 7

We got up at daylight and cooked coffee. We were then moved to the right and fanned under the brow of the hill, as we were expecting the artillery to open at 8 p. , where we remained until 10 a.

May 19

We lay in earthworks for the fore part of the day. No excitement until about 4 p.m. when there is heavy firing on our right and rear, caused by the Rebs trying to get possession of the Fredericksburg pike but they were repulsed. At the same time the Johnnys drove in our pickets. We were ordered forward to support the front lines, if the enemy should attack us. They did come out of the woods with 2 lines of battle but our artillery played on them so effectively that they could not advance far. We were then taken back to our old positions and remained for the night. The weather continues to be splendid for our work.

May 20

Everything seems to be quiet, with the exception of skirmish firing. We received our mail today for the first time since this campaign began. There was hardly a boy but received a letter or paper. It had a tendency to cheer the boys a good deal. They have had a rough time so far.

May 21

I got up at daylight and cooked coffee. We were then ordered to put on our cartridge belt and to be ready to advance the skirmish line but that passed off without doing much damage. about 10 AM. we received orders to march which we did in about an hour after receiving the orders, going in the direction of Gaines Station. We halted for the night between Gaines Station and a little place called Flippo and remained for the night. The report in camp is that some of our pickets were gobbled today. It rained some.

May 22

We were ordered up at 4 a.m. and marched to Flippo, a distance of 5 miles where we built breastworks so as to guard a crossroad until the rest of the Corps came up. We then marched forward 5 or 6 miles farther and camped for the night. Our forces picked up a number of Johnnys on the road. The day has been very hot.

May 23

We were ordered up at daybreak: and marched about 5 miles when our Regiment and the 6th Wisconsin were halted for the purpose of guarding a crossroad until the rest of the corps and trains would pass. We then moved forward and crossed North Anna river when the Johnnys came down on us with the intention of driving us in the river but they went back with a flea in their ears, leaving about 200 killed that we buried the next day.

May 24

We moved forward and occupied the ground held by the Johnnys yesterday and entrenched ourselves and remained there the rest of the day. There was a detachment of men sent from our division and destroyed the Virginia Central Railroad and cut the telegraph wire. We shipped the Johnnys bad here yesterday. The woods are filled with their stragglers of which we are picking up a good many. The weather is awful hot.

May 25

We were ordered up at 3 a.m. to cook coffee and be ready to march at 4 a.m. which we did moving to the left about 2 miles. We were then fanned in line of battle and advanced into the woods when a brisk skirmish fight took place. We pressed back their skirmish in line until we got within 300 yards of their entrenchment when we halted and built breastworks where we lay the rest of the day as a continual fire was kept up by the skirmishers.

May 26

We lay behind breastworks until after dusk when we packed up and took our march going in the direction of Hanover Courthouse. We marched until 2 a.m. when we halted to draw rations. We had a heavy rainstorm today completely overflowing the ground where we were and filling ditches behind entrenchments with water making the motto with us “Swim or climb”. The Rebs wounded a number of trees around us today.

May 27

At 4 a. m. we resumed our march going in the direction of Permunky river. We halted at 8 m. to cook coffee. We then marched until dark when we encamped for the night. The men are pretty well used up as we have had a long march today. If anyone should ask me the way I feel now, I should probably tell them three or four hundred miles. I feel as though I was old enough to avoid the draft.

May 28

We were aroused up at 3 a.m. with orders to make coffee and be ready to march in one hour. We crossed the Pammunkey River near Hanover town at about 12 noon and took up a position on the heights about one mile from the river where we entrenched ourselves and awaited an attack from the Johnnys but they did not deem it prudent to show themselves after the whipping we gave them at North Anna so we put up our tents and remained for the night.

May 29th

We are aroused up at 4 a.m. with orders to cook coffee and be ready to move at five but we finally did not march until about noon. We then moved forward about 4 miles formed a line of battle advanced into the woods and lay on our arms until morning. The day has been very hot and the roads dusty

May 30th

We are aroused up and ordered to be ready to move at 4 am. We marched to the left about 4 miles where the Jonnys came down on the 3rd division when ensued a brisk little fight resulting in the Johnnys backing around. I (fire some?) their first position was too hot for them. Our brigade went on the double quick for about 1 mile. Took up a position and built breast work.

Where we remained until about dark when we moved to the right and front for the purpose of guarding a gap in the lines until the rest of the corps came up. When we went to work and built another line of breast work where we remained for the night. The skirmishes are sending their compliments to one another. The weather is scorching hot and the roads so dusty that we can hardly see a man three rows off.

May 31st

I get up at daylight and cook breakfast. We drew rations last night so that the boys have plenty to eat this morning. At about 9 am we are releived and report back to the Brigade. There is heavy cannonading on our right. The weather is extremely hot. Just before work there is heavy firing heard on our left which continues until 9 or 10 o’clock pm. There is nothing but skirmish fighting in our front so we spread our blankets and go to sleep.

June 1

I got up at daylight and cooked breakfast. We then moved to the right and front and took possession of rebel earthworks which we repaired and occupied for 2 hours. We then advanced across a large open field and into a piece of woods and built breastworks. The enemy shelled the woods in the meantime. As soon as we had finished our works we were taken to the left and rear where we remained until about dark. When our regiment and the 6th and 7th advanced about half a mile in front of the lines to support a battery there ensued one of the liveliest artillery duels that I have seen in some time. We were taken to the right where we built another line of breastworks which took us until morning. We now occupy a position near Bethsaida Church. This has been one of the hottest days of the season.

June 2

We take our position behind our breastworks as we expected an attack from the Rebs. Their line of earthworks is but a short distance in our front. Their bullets are flying thick around our works. I went to the rear and cooked breakfast. I captured some potatoes which were first rate for breakfast. Our forces are planting a battery in the rear of our works. There is no fighting with the exception of skirmishing until about 4 p.m. when the Johnnys attacked our right flank and partially succeeded in turning it enough so that they had a cross fire on us with their artillery which they were not slow to take advantage of making it rather hot where we were but our forces finally repulsed them and drove them back. The day was hot and sultry until about 5 p.m. when it commenced raining and kept it up all night. I lay down as usual with my accoutrements on and got to sleep.

June 3

I got up at daylight and cooked breakfast and then worked on breastworks as we rather expected that the Johnnys will amuse themselves by throwing shot and shell at our works which they did but not until after our batteries opened up on them. They threw one shell in the works at the right of us killing one man wounding two more besides covering myself and 4 or 5 others with dirt. Adam and I had buriel rites for man killed and put a board at the head of his grave at the same time that the enemies bullets were flying thick around us. I was struck with a piece of shell but the force was spent so that I was not materially injured. Their artillery and sharpshooters kept up a fire nearly all day. Just before dark there is heavy firing hear on our left. It is very probable that the Johnnys are trying to break our lines. The has been rather cloudy and showery. At dark orders

June 4

I got up at daylight and cooked coffee then lay down in the ditch and went to the land of Nod as I had gotten but little sleep the night before. There was occasionally a shot from the artillery on both sides during the day. The skirmishes kept up a fire all day. There was number of our men sounded today back of the works. The weather is cloudy. There was also a heavy fog all day. The orders in regard to the alarm guard is the same as the night before.

June 5

We were aroused at 3 a.m. and ordered to remain under arms until after daylight. It is evident to my mind that somebody was badly scared or else commissary was running the machine. About 2 p.m. we were ordered under arms again as there is heavy firing on our left but little ways off at that. We received mail at about 4 p.m. The day has been cloudy and rainy. At dark we received orders to be ready to move at a moments notice. I lay down and went to sleep but was aroused by heavy firing on our skirmish line. The bullets flew thick around our heads for a few minutes but finally died away without doing much damage. We fell in line about 10 p.m. and moved to the left marching all night.

June 6

We halted at daylight and cooked coffee where we remained until about 12 p.m. We then moved a few rods and then went into regular camp when we put up our tents and made ourselves comfortable generally. There is heavy cannonading in our front and also to our left. This has been one of the hottest days of the season. Water is very scarce around here.

June 7

We were ordered up at 3 a.m. with orders to be ready to march in half an hour. We moved in the direction of Bottoms Bridge on the Chickahominy River. We halted within one mile of the river and stayed the rest of the day. The Rebs have a big gun that they shell us with. It is supposed to be on a car on the York River Railroad. The gun is supposed to be a 700 pounder by some of the officers who should know. Our pickets occupy one side of the river while the Johnnys are on the other. The day has been rather cloudy and cool.

June 8

I got up at daylight and cooked breakfast, then gave clothing a cold water wash which a rare thing for them since I have been on this campaign. I then cleaned my gun as there is to be an inspection at 7 p.m. My mess mate and myself then built ourselves a summer bower. There has been nothing of note going on in front of our lines today although there has been considerale firing on our right. The day has been warm and pleasant.

June 9th

I got up at daylight and cooked coffee. About 10 am we received our mail. I receive and answer a letter from home. At six pm I am elected to go on picket. We are doing picket duty on the Chickahominy. The Johnnys are picketing on the opposite side of the river. Our pickets and the Rebs have made an agreement not to shoot at each other without one side or the others advances.

This has been rather cool and pleasant. Everything goes off smoothly in the picket line during the night.

June 10th

I was aroused up before daylight and watched while the rest of the boys sleep after daylight. I saw a couple of Johnnies on the opposite bank of the river washing their faces and hands.

I went down washed my hands. Had a little conversation with them. They seemed to be very friendly rather tired of the war they are North Carolinans. After breakfast our boys and also the Rebs take their hooks and go to fishing. Others go down have a chat with the Rebs and then return to their front. The river is from 30 to 40 feet wide and deep at this point. There is peace and harmony existing here while there is heavy canoning going on at the right. Lunch was half past 4pm. We are relieved from duty. I go to camp cook supper discuss policies a little. Then crawl under the blankets and go to sleep.

June 11th

I get up cook breakfast. Then tear down and rebuild our (homes?) and put up our tent. Our 2nd leutenant returned to the regt to say he was wounded on the 1st days fight in the wilderness. Everything seems to be quiet along the lines today. This has been one of the pleasentest days of the season.

June 12th

I get up cook coffee then lay around in camp doing nothing but cook and eating regular rations of coffee pork and hardtack until evening when we get orders to pack up and be ready to march at a moments notice.

We pulled out about 10pm and marched until morning. The day has been cloudy and cool.

June 13th

We crossed the Chickahominy River’s long Bridge. By daylight we then marched up the river about 3 miles where we halted cooked breakfast.

Then lay in the woods until about 9 pm. There is heavy firing going on in front. We then marched back nearly to the bridge and took the road leading to Turkey Bend on the James River. We marched until about 12 pm we then lay down and slept until morning. The day has been cool and pleasant and good time to march if it was not for so much dust.

June 14

I get up at daylight and cook breakfast. We then took up our line of march for Charles City Court House. Where we arrived at about 12 pm. When we halted to cook dinner we finally lay there the rest of the day. We can see the steamer on the James River from where we are encamped. This is the finest country that I have seen in Va. The day has been very hot and the roads dusty. The boys are as hungry as wolves an they have been out of rations for the last 2 days.

June 15th

I get up early as usual cook coffee. Then lay around in camp doing nothing but cook and eat my regular rations. In the afternoon we draw rations. There is some hungry boys in camp as they have had nothing but boiled wheat and parched corn to eat for the last 2 or 3 days.

We had potatoes and pickle for supper something extra on the march. The day has been hot and the roads awful dusty.

June 16th

We are aroused up a 3 am to eat breakfast and be ready to march by daylight. Which we did going in the direction of the River. We crossed the River about 10 am at Wilcot ferry on one of the government steamers. We lay on the bank of the river until 2 pm. When we was ordered to Petersburg a distance of 20 miles. Which we made by midnight but the Boys was nearly used up when we halted for the night. The day has been extremely hot and the roads so dusty that we could hardly be told from the Grey backs.

There is heavy cannonading in the direction of Petersburg. Also sharp skirmish fighting.

The report has just reached us that Gene Smith has taken eighteen cannon and a good number of prisoners.

June 17th

I get up at daylight and cook coffee. We then move to the left and front and build breast works. The enemy shelling us in the meantime.

The Rebs have strong work in front of us. Looks as though they were hard to take. We are within sight of the Suffolk and Petersburg Rail Road. The day has been very hot and sultry.

June 18th

We was aroused at daylight with orders to be ready to march at a moments notice. I had just time to make and drink coffee before morning.

We then advanced and took two lines of earth works without much fighting.

We charged the third line at three pm. Then came the tug of war. This is where our humble servant got his pass to the rear but the lines were too strong for us I understand. It took me from 3 pm untill after dark to get to the hospital. I hopped as far as I could, then was carried on a gun about a mile. I was then put on a stretcher and carried to the ambulance, then hauled to the division hospital where I had my wounds dressed and was made as comfortable as could be under the circumstances. The day has been an extremely hot day.

June 19

I woke at daylight and wet my wound, then my breakfast was brought to me and I did ample justice to it. I layout in the sun until about 9 p.m. when I was taken into one of the hospital tents where I remained the rest of the day. The nurses are attentive. The day has been clear and pleasant.

June 20th

I was rather restless last night did not get to sleep until about 2 pm consequently I did not wake up until breakfast was ready of which I partook of my share. I was then stowed away with seven other wounded men into an Government wagon to go to City Point a distance of twelve miles. When we arrived at six pm safe but with sore limbs.

The accomodation here for wounded men are rather poor, but we live in hopes of getting away from here before long.

The day has been very hot and the roads dusty.

June 21st

I was rather restless last night did not get but little sleep eat breakfast at nine am which we thought was late considering that we had nothing but dishwater coffee and hardtack for breakfast. If it was not for the Sanitary commission we would nearly starve. There was another train of wagons loaded with wounded came in today. The day has been rather pleasant an we had a nice breeze blowing from the river.

June 22nd

Rested first rate last night. I eat breakfast at about seven am. The surgeon then came around and gave all of those that could walk to the river a chance to get off. I mounted my wooden horses and rode off. But as I had to go half a mile and the sand was deep I was somewhat fatigued when I reached the wharf. And after laying in the sun about two hours I was permitted to go on board the steamer (De Molay?) where I was furnished with a bunk and had my wounds dressed and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Although the air was awful hot and.

There we remained until the afternoon of the 24th when we arrived in New York Harbor. We was then put abourd of another steamer and taken up the East Hudson River to (Daids island?) a distance of twenty five miles when we was taken to the hospital and now are receiving the best of care.

This hospital is divided into pavillions of which there is twenty each. Pavillions is divided into four wards which contain twenty heads each.

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