Stephen Minot Weld, Jr. to Stephen Minot Weld, Sr, Annapolis, Maryland, March 25, 1864

Source citation
Stephen Minot Weld, War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld, 1861-1865 (Cambridge, MA; Riverside Press, 1912), 260-263.
Recipient (to)
Weld, Stephen Minot, Sr.
Date Certainty
John Osborne, Dickinson College
Transcription date
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Headquarters 56TH Massachusetts Reg't. 
Camp Holmes, near Annapolis, March 25, 1864. 
Dear Father, — We are now comfortably settled in 
tents about two miles from Annapolis, on the exact ground 
that the 24th Massachusetts were encamped two years 
ago. The ground is dry and easily drained, with water, 
etc., within convenient distance. The railroad runs within 
a fourth of a mile of our camp, making it very convenient 
for us to get our supplies. 
We left camp, as you know, on Sunday morning, the 
men and officers being in the best of spirits, and with but 
few of the men, I am glad to say, drunk. The day before 
we left, over forty gallons of liquor were confiscated at 
General Peirce's headquarters, being found on the persons 
of the soldiers' friends, or rather enemies. We reached 
Groton at 3 p.m. without losing a man. At every place we 
stopped, the officers and guards got out, and prevented 
any civilians from having access to the men. In this way 
we managed to keep all liquor away from the soldiers. At 
Groton we shipped the regiment on board the Plymouth 
Rock and reached Jersey City by 2.30 a.m., experiencing 
no trouble except from the boat-hands selling rum to the 
men. At Jersey City we had to wait until 10.30 A.M. be- 
fore we could get the regiment on board the cars and 
started. We lost but two men here. We reached Camden 
at about 7 p.m. with all our men except one. At Newark a 
citizen was shot by one of the officers for refusing to go 
away from the cars, where he was selling liquor, and for 
throwing stones at the officer. I don't know whether the 
man was mortally wounded or not. At Camden we took 
the ferry and crossed to Philadelphia, where we received 
a supper from the Union Association. I demolished a 
liquor shop in Philadelphia and took the proprietor pris- 
oner. I had him hand-cuffed and taken on to Baltimore, 
where I had half his head and beard shaved and then 
turned him over to the provost marshal. At Philadelphia 
the colonel and quartermaster left us, and went on to 
Baltimore to provide transportation for the regiment, and 
therefore I had command. After taking our supper here, 
we marched to Philadelphia and Baltimore depot, where 
we took freight cars for Baltimore. We arrived there at 
12 and found the colonel waiting for us. As a dinner was 
promised us here at the Union Rooms, we marched some 
two miles from the depot to the place, where we found 
that we had been taken in, for no dinner was ready, so like 
the king of old we marched down the hill again. We took 
the steamer Columbia at Baltimore about 2 p.m. and 
started for Annapolis, reaching there at 6.30 p.m. in a 
driving snow-storm. We disembarked as soon as possible, 
and marched to what are called the College Green Bar- 
racks, where the paroled prisoners are kept for the first 
day or two after their arrival. We found only four of the 
barracks empty, and had to pack our men in them, put- 
ting four hundred where two [hundred] are usually put. 
Still it was much better this way than without any shelter 
at all, for the night was bitter cold and the wind keen 
and sharp. In the morning we made arrangements with 
Major Chamberlain to provide our men with hot coffee 
and meat, until we could draw our rations. Major Cham- 
berlain is in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry and in charge 
of the parole camp. He was very kind and obliging to us, 
for without his aid we could have done nothing for our 
men, and should have been obliged to have seen them 
suffer a great deal. As it was, they had a pretty hard time 
of it. This same morning, that is, Wednesday, lots of our 
men got into the town, and drank much bad whiskey, be- 
sides bringing a lot more into camp. About noon camp 
began to be a perfect pandemonium, and as the colonel 
was away, the major and I sallied out to restore order. 
We put all the noisy drunkards in the guard-house, and 
soon quelled the disturbance outside. In the guard- 
house, however, confusion reigned supreme for a long 
time. We tied up any number of men, and finally suc- 
ceeded in getting quiet restored. One of the worst cases 
in the regiment, named Casey, I had tied up by the 
thumbs, and gagged. He then kicked an officer there, and 
I said to him, " Casey, I will shoot you if you do that 
again." Another officer came by and he kicked him, and 
I drew that pistol Uncle Oliver gave me and fired at him 
twice. The first shot went through his arm, in the biceps, 
without touching the bone. The second hit the bayonet 
in his mouth by which he was gagged, and dropped into 
his stocking. The bayonet saved his life, for the shot 
would have gone through his head otherwise. I meant to 
kill him, and was very sorry I did not succeed. The shots 
had a wonderful effect in quieting the men, and I had very 
little trouble with them after that. 
Yesterday morning we started for our camp outside 
the city and delighted (?) the Secesh citizens by playing 
"John Brown" as we marched through the town. We 
pitched all the tents before night and had the regiment 
comfortably housed and fed. Considering that some regi- 
ments that arrived over a week ago only managed to do 
the same thing in a week, I think we have every reason 
to be satisfied. . . . 
How to Cite This Page: "Stephen Minot Weld, Jr. to Stephen Minot Weld, Sr, Annapolis, Maryland, March 25, 1864," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,