On the 9th(of May 1862) we were still on board the schooner at West Point. Everybody was anxious to get ashore, but we waited to be taken in nearer shore so that the horses could be unloaded. We found it tiresome enough lying there all day.
The next day we were taken ashore much to our relief, the horses lowered overboard as at Shipping Point. We went to the guns, hitched on and marched about two miles, and camped at a place called Elkhorn, on the Pamunky River. Captain Arnold of the regulars had charge of the unloading.
Sunday the 11th, was quite warm. General McClellan arrived during the day, bringing news of destruction of the Merrimac. Magnolias were in full bloom.
Another warm day on the 12th. We had a division inspection that day. At this time no one could tell what our next move was to be or in what direction. All was uncertainty.
The same condition of affairs prevailed on the 13th. The daily drill was our only occupation. The warm weather continued and so did the rumors as to our destination.
We were at last called out, early on the morning of the 15th marched about fifteen miles and went into camp at New Kent Court House. It was quite warm and the infantry straggled badly, especially one regiment called the Baxter's Zouaves.
We remained in camp through the 16th. It was called Camp Stumps by some of the boys.
It was at this camp that a difficulty arose between Sergeant Budlong and Patrick Donnegan. It commenced over a claim of a bridle. The sergeant had possession of the bridle and stated that it was his and that Donnegan had taken it claiming that it was a bridle which he had used on the horse of Lieut. John G. Hazard. Donnegan had been detailed to take care of Lieutenant Hazard's horses. The lieutenant commanded the sergeant to give up the bridle. The latter refused to do so and some sharp words passed between them. Lieutenant Hazard ordered the guard to buck and gag Budlong and reduce him to the ranks. To degrade a sergeant in such a manner was something unknown and contrary to Army Regulations and was so stated by the president of the court-martial, Colonel Surrey, who was a graduate of West Point. He never received any redress for this punishment.
We got under way on the 18th, and marched two miles and went into camp with every kind of a rumor that was ever heard of about what was to be done next, and when we were going to move It grew monotonous.
On the 19th there was some little excitement, as firing was heard a number of times, though sounding a long way off, and in advance of us. Our corps, the Second, under "Daddy Sumner," as the boys dubbed him was in reserve.
On the 20th we exchanged visits with Battery B, the Fifteenth Massachusetts and First Minnesota. All were tired of creeping along as we had been doing, and they were grumbling about it as well as the men of our battery. The horses appeared to stand it very well.
We marched again on the 21st about six a.m. and passed by McClellan's headquarters at the Savage house at Baltimore Cross Roads. St Peter's Church stands there where Washington was married to Mrs Custis. We halted and entered the church. One of the boys came near getting into trouble. He was cutting a piece off the pulpit fringe for a souvenir, when a guard spied him and went for him with a bayonet. Marching on again we went into camp in the afternoon near Bottom's Bridge.
The 22d was a dull day. In the middle of the afternoon a strange coincidence took place. Lieut. Charles F. Mason's father, Mr Earl P. Mason and Mr. Slater of Providence, R.I., and Colonel Dudley, of New York, were visiting us and had brought with them some wine; and, as the case was about to be opened, the remark was made that it would be very desirable if they could have some ice to cool a bottle; but before the case was opened a shower broke upon them with great severity, and all hands turned their attention to the tent, which was in danger of blowing down. While holding up the tent some of the party had their knuckles injured badly by the hail which descended in torrents. In twenty minutes the shower was over, and all around the tents large hailstones were to be seen completely covering the ground. They were from one to three indies in size. As the weather was very warm the men were very grateful for the supply of ice so providentially furnished. It is needless to say that our officers and their guests had a cool bottle of wine.
-The History of Battery A: First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery in the War to Preserve the Union, 1861-1865-Thomas M. Aldrich
Snow & Farnham, printers, 1904