Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Second Week - April 29th to May 5th - Settling In

During this time the First Connecticut Volunteers were still stationed in New Haven, Connecticut. Purdy describes the encampment as near the hospital whereas Pvt. Gustavus S. Dana of Company A recollected that the camp was at "Oyster Point" (Swift, 1965). The weather was poor, Sgt. Andrew Knox of Company E described it as very rainy, snowy, with thick ice building up on tents. According to Pvt. Horace Purdy:
"It was very cold night last for the season and I feared when I bunked in my tent that I should lie cold but by putting on my overcoat and three of us lying together spoon fashion with our three blankets over us together with our military overcoats on top of them and myself in between the two I lay as warm as toast, though many of the men lay cold."
Rations were also poor causing much discontent in the ranks, and resulting in the courtmartial of some members (from the journal of Horace Purdy):
Tuesday April 30th 1861, New Haven, Connecticut

“Discontent amounting to almost mutiny in our company on account of our rations. A Sgt. belonging to the Meriden company was court-martialed for disrespect to the Col. Cold in the eve I retired with the toothache”.

Wednesday May 1st 1861, New Haven, Connecticut

“Rather cool for the season. Three Sgts. and one Corp. in the regiment were reduced to the ranks and two Privates dismissed from the service and their uniforms taken from them for bad and unsoldierly conduct.”
However, in letters to his wife Purdy himself did not find it to be too bad:
May 2nd: "This morning we had a piece of tough beef steak, a third of a loaf of bakers bread (a 6 cnt loaf) and about a pint of hot coffee. The food is plain, but healthy though many found a great deal of fault. Many of the men are becoming dissatisfied with the army rations. It is so very different from their accustomed fare at home. It is no worse than expected and if they will only give it to us in quantities sufficient, I think it will be better for us with our out doors exercise than the dainties which we have been used to".
Purdy, however, did have something to say about the election of the non-commissioned officers:
May 5th: "As for me being promoted to the position of Corporal it is not so. But had our election been a fair one by ballott I should have had that place or a higher one. The election of officers to fill the vacancies ... was done by acclaimation in a hasty moment, most of the men being new recruits did not know the as to vote understandingly".
Besides rigged elections and preventing frostbite and general starvation, most of the time was spent drilling.

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