A NIGHT MARCH
Friday, 10th, potatoes, dried apple, pork and fresh beef rations were issued. Expected to move, but did not; not much fighting. Warm. On the 11th, re-enforcements arrived, new breastworks were thrown up, and troops were moving all night.
On Sunday the 12th, there was some picket firing, but no severe fighting. The Fifh Regiment, with the Second Corps, left the breastworks in the evening at 9:30 and marched until 3 a.m. of the 13th to Bottom's bridge on the Chickahominy river, about 10 miles. Here the regiment went on picket, there to remain until the last man of the corps crossed. Then the regiment was to rejoin the column as rapidly as possible. The writer volunteered to remain until all had passed and then was to hasten forward and notify the colonel.
He sat upon a fallen tree by the roadside for many hours. The regiment was called in and marched at 7 a.m.; came up with the brigade at 7 p.m. and went into camp. The writer well remembers the strange, weird scenes of that night. He did sleep for a moment, a dreamy sleep. Tramp! tramp! tramp! the boys were marching the whole night. No sound could be heard beside the measured footsteps, and the rattle of accouterments, the roll of wheels and the clank of sabres. On! On! On they marched until the watcher on the log was dazed and dizzy. Hour after hour the procession of men and horses swept on, their shadows flitting strangely. Realities and dreams were so mingled that they could not be separated. Sunburned soldiers hastening on to battle, and the loved wife and tender babes, in their quiet homes in New Hampshire, passed across the stages of reality and imagination, until the heart was sick and the soul was sinking. The whole army was on a wild, night tramp to the James river.
-A History of the Fifth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, in the American Civil War, 1861-1865
William Child, M. D., Major and Surgeon
Historian of the Veterans' Association of the Regiment.
I have some more research on the Fifth New Hampshire at my other site, chiefly on its discipline issues.