Transcribed by Kathleen Smith
Joel A. Calkins left home in April 1864 and enlisted in the union army. He was in Harris Light 2nd N.Y. Cavalry Company K.
He fought in the Wilderness campaign, May 5-6, 1864. Following this battle he served with General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry under General George Custer to the end of the war and participated in Sheridan’s Ride through the Shenandoah Valley during October-December 1864.
Joel was at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 to witness
Lee’s surrender to Grant. He “saw the white flag of truce carried
by Lee’s men to Grant at Appomattox Court House and saw Lee on his horse
Drew our horses and arms. Started for Martensburg at daybreak, and got there at Midnight. Stayed there until Monday. I went to _________ Post with a drove of cattle. Stood on picket. Started for the front. Reached there on Sunday. Found everything lovely. Stood on picket one night.
Went out after Gen. Mosby. Went to Newtown in light marching order, without blanket or hardtack. Did not get back until noon the next day. Went without any thing to eat. Froze quite hard.
Nov. 12, 1864
Had a fight with Rosser (enemy cavalry leader). Drove them seven miles. Had a sharp time. Marvin Leonard was taken prisoner. Our Colonel was killed. We killed one Colonel, a Brigadier Gen., a Captain and a Lieut. Colonel.
Nov. 13, 1864 (Sunday)
We went out on a scout. Did not find any Johnny’s. It was a grand show. Pretty cold.
Nov. 14, 1864 (Monday)
Pitched our tents. Put up poles to hitch our horses and so forth.
Nov. 15, 1864 (Tues)
Went out on Picket. It was awful cold.
Nov. 16, 1864 (Wed.)
Came in from Picket.
Nov. 17, 1864 (Thurs.)
Went after forage. Rode about 12 miles. It rained some. Recommend ____.
Nov. 18, 1864 (Fri.)
Went on Picket again. Was in reserve. Rained all the time.
Nov. 19, 1864 (Sat.)
Came in from Picket. Received a letter from home dated Nov. 14, from Layton and Aunt Hatt. Wrote home to Curtis.
Nov. 20, 1864 (Sunday)
Am not very well today. Have got the quick step. The boys in First Co. from Picket.
Nov. 21, 1864 (Mon.)
Started on a march up the valley. It rained all day. Stopped at woods to stand picket. It rained and snowed. Had a billious time of it.
Nov. 22, 1864 (Tues.)
Went up the valley to Mount Jackson. Some colder. Had a fight with a whole rebel army. Calvin Brown was wounded in the mouth and we retreated back with small loss. 20 in all killed, wounded and missing. Encamped at Woodstock again for the night. It was very cold. Froze hard to bear up a horse.
Nov. 23, 1864 (Wed.)
Received a letter from Curt and Sakie dated Nov. 14. Started before
sunrise for our old camp. Got there about 3 o’clock p.m. It
was very cold riding.
Nov. 24, 1864 (Thurs.) Thanksgiving
West on Picket on our old post. The weather is moderated some. It is not quite as cold as it was yesterday. Drew our rations for 4 days — Hardtack, coffee, sugar, pork in brine.
Nov. 25, 1864 (Fri.)
Had Brigade inspection.
Nov. 26, 1864 (Sat.)
Stayed in camp. Had a rest.
Nov. 27, 1864 (Sunday)
The Company went on Picket. I did not go. Went to church. It seemed like old times.
Nov. 28, 1864 (Mon.)
The boys came in from Picket. Drew rations. Was ordered to march tonight. We started on a march to Moorefield a distance of 60 miles from Winchester. Were gone until Fri., Just sunset. Had a pretty hard march. Got out of provisions. Had to live as we could. One day it was the most romantic scenery I ever saw. The rocks and hills were put in thicker & faster & more of them. Did not see a reb at all. Came back pretty well tuckered out.
Dec. 3, 1864
I was detailed for picket, but did not go. Kendall went for me. Feel some better. Clark has gone to Winchester to see Colton.
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