A leaf from
S.  B. Cummins
Diary 1864

We were in winter quarters near Brandy Station, VA.  Our Bugler sounded the revilee and long role which caused a comotion in camp knowing full well the time had arrived for the Army of the Potomac to start on the summer campaign. 

We arose at 4 oclock, struck tents, packed our knapsacks, got our breakfast and fell into line.  At 6 oclock in the morning we started south crossing the Rapidan river on a pontoon bridge.  Marching all day.  We encamped for the night in a pine woods.  Marching about 15 miles.  Was very tired & foot sore.

May the 5th

Arose at daybreak, got our breakfast and fell into line, then resumed our march southward.  Saw Gen. Grant for the first time.  Marching very slow.  Very warm.  Fighting commenced at 11 oclock A.M.  and continued all day untill after dark.  Saw Gen. Burnside.  He is here with 6,000 men.  We captured 500 men to day.  The picket firing lasted all night.  Slept on the ground with my knapsack for a pillow and the canopy of heaven for a tent.

In the Wilderness, May 6th 1864

The fighting commenced at daylight.  The canons roared like thunder.  Several charges were made but very little was accomplished on either side.  Capt Billings of my own company, & Nicholas Beck, by old bunk mate were both killed by the same shell, and several more comrades belonging to Co F of our Regt.  were killed & wounded.  The Provose Guard were deployed as skirmishers in the rear of line of battle to take charge of the prisioners if any taken & to hold the straglers in check.  Our lines were broken.  The Rebels made a grand charge on the first Division of the Old 6th Corps & after a hard struggle our line was broken & driven back but the Provost Guard fixed bayonets & stoped every man.  Our line was soon formed again and at dark the Old 6th Corps charged on the Rebels and drove them out of the breast works they had taken from us before l0 o'clock in the evening.
Trees that got in the way of bullets 
May the 7th 1864 

Arose at daylight, we had our breakfast about half cooked when the battle commenced.  The rebels came out of the woods in 4 lines of battle, then Our artilery opened on them with Grape & Canister causing them to retreat in confusion & were glad to get out of sight.  Very heavy fighting down the left of the line near Chancelorsville.  It was reported we had captured between 4 & 5000 prizoners today.  Heared good news about dark and Great Cheering prevailed the whol length of the line.  We recd orders to be ready to move at dark.  We marched 3 or 4 miles and halted untill 2 O clock in the morning by the side of the road.  We slept with our knapsacks on our backs.  Was aroused from our slumbers by a pack of mules running away.  We sprung to our feet, grabbed our muskets & got ready for action.  We considered it an attack from the rebels.  In a moments time we were all quiet and down we laid until daybreak. 

May the 8th

Arose at daylight and marched about 8 miles very fast.  Very warm today.  We passed our ambulances loaded with our wounded comrades & saw lots of men laying by the road side that were wounded.  Some with a leg off, some with an arm off, some a hand, some a foot.  I tell you it was a hard sight to behold.  We passed through Chancelersville and also through a dense pine forest.  We saw lots of dead & wounded all along the roadside.  Canonading in the morning but not much fighting today but at dark we made a charge on the Rebel Breastworks and drove them from their position.  We cut them down dreadfully.  The ground was covered with the dead and dieing.  They laid like sheaves of wheat in a harvest field.  Our men slept in the Breastworks & rifle pits they had captured.

Monument located at the Spotsylvania Battlefield 
where he fell May 9th, 1864 
(Highest ranking general killed in the war) 

May 9th 1864 

Arose at daylight ate breakfast and got ready to march. Not much fighting today.  A little canonading & skirmishing.  Gen.  Sedgwick our Corps Commander was killed near our Regiment by Rebel sharp shooters.  Some of the boys would dodge when the balls passed their heads & the General said: "boys don't dodge.  They could not hit an elephant." And in less than 5 minutes he was hit and soon died on the field.  Gen.  Morris of our brigade was wounded about the same time in the leg.  The rebel sharp shooters were soon discovered up in a tree, 9 of them, when the officer in command called for a piece of artilery from the rifle batery and opened on them and the first shot cut the tree off about 40 feet from the ground & down came Mr.  sharp shooter head first.  That ended the sharp shooting at this time.  It was very warm today.  Some of the men were sun struck.  The sick & wounded are being sent to Fredricksburg in amblulanees and general wagons.  Had a brisk fight at dark of musketry & artilery. 

May 10th 1864
All was quiet at daylight, except now & then a random shot was fired.  Heavy skirmishing commenced at 6 Oclock A.M.  This has been the hardest days fighting that has been done.  Have fought al1 day and hard at it yet.  Reported that Gen Butler had taken Petersburg & was advancing on Richmond.  We see hundreds of wounded by the sides of the road and the wounded in the ambulances are screeching as they are moved off the field.  But we don't mind it.  We are so tired & worn out by marching & fighting & being without sleep.  We don't care for any one but ourselves.  We don't realize the horrors of war.  Our men made a charge at dark & captured about l000 rebels.  So ended this days fighting.
Spotsylvania Co.  Virginia 
May the 11th 1864 

Dear Father and Mother, 

   Once more I am permitted to seat myself for the intention of writing you a few lines.  But whether I will be able to send it through or not I can not tell.  I am not as well as I wish but I am so I can do my duty and keep around etc.  We have been out of our winter quarters some 7 or 8 days and I have been in battle.  Today is the 7th and it is one of the hardest fights ever was known on this continent.  It beats Gettysburg or Anteitim or Bull Run or anything else and it is not over yet.  Our brigade has been very lucky.  They have not lost but 21 killed and wounded out of our Regít.  My captain is killed again and Beck is wounded very bad and one or two more out of our Co was wounded at the same time by a shell.  The boys donít think Beck will live.   He had the flesh shot off of his hip and one had his toes shot off the same time and some others out of Co F.  I inquired after Andrew Jorden in his Co.  One of the men told me he was wounded through the foot and sent to Washington before we left Bandy Station. 

     The weather is a getting very warm down here now.  Sometimes it is so hot I cannot hardly stand it.  We are on one road to Richmond and Butler  is in the rear of Richmond.  He had taken Petersburg  etc.  Our boys was never in better spirits than at present.  We are sure of success if God is for us.  Well I am enjoying myself first rate.  My trust is in God and I have had a season of secret prayer every day since I left my winter quarters.  Have you received that memoradom I sent home? Let me know as soon as possible.  We donít expect to get any mail very soon.  Not until this campaign is over anyway.  This is all I can think of at present so I will bring my letter to a close hoping it may reach your hands & find you all enjoying Godís blessing.  Keep up good courage and donít think I am a going to get killed for I feel as though if I am called I am ready to go.   Death must come sometime and it makes but little difference where a man dies if he has the right feeling.  Father, Mother, Uncles, and Aunts remember me at the throne of Grace and I will you.  Read this to those who wish to hear it and tell them (that are unconverted) to seek the Savior when he may be found.
                                                            Truly your son Simon B. Cummins
 Orders for 'Give God the Glory' are now being accepted.

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