In taking up the thread of Captain George A. Thayer's admirable chapter upon the Chancellorsville campaign, we find the regiment baling out their old log pens, on a dark night, in the rain. They had stripped the canvas roofs before starting for Chancellorsville. The return to a deserted camp, even in fine weather, flushed with victory, is not agreeable. The failure of Chancellorsville made the discomforts of this memorable night harder to bear, and it seemed very much like some of the worst experiences of the "Mud campaign."
Company "D" pursued their work with vigor, and sang with the broadest sarcasm "Home Again." This had rather an enlivening effect upon some of the other companies, who, up to this time, had been very silent. Daylight relieved us all; and, with sunshine and regimental "police," the place soon looked as if nothing had happened, except for the late absentees, some of whom would return when their wounds permitted; but others would never again draw their swords under the old battle-flag. The scholarly Fitzgerald, who died so bravely, was the only officer of "ours" killed at Chancellorsville.
It was at this very camp, about a month before, that the gallant and lamented Colonel Shaw, then a captain in our regiment, left us to organize and command that fated battalion, the "Fifty-fourth Colored Massachusetts." Here, we again formed a mess with the officers of the Third Wisconsin; and our former caterer, Charley Johnson, and his colored staff, managed the table d'hôte. Those who were fortunate enough to be present will remember the surprise party given to us by the officers of the Third Wisconsin in our canvas dining-room, at the foot of the hill, and how it burst upon us in all its splendor of bayonet chandeliers and unlimited "commissary." Brigade manœuvres and battalion drills were diligently practised; and, when Casey's tactics were scarcely dry from the press, Colonel Sam Quincy, with the least possible preparation on our part, "sprung" on us the new movement of "Forward on the centre to form square" at "double-quick." And, I am ashamed to say, that, practised as we were in all the tricks of field manœuvres, we "got mixed." The right wing started without delay for Falmouth, the left wing for Acquia Creek, and the color division took a steady trot for the camp of the Tenth Maine. Adjutant Fox galloped wildly about the field, the Colonel howled in despair, but on we went till the word "Halt!" brought us to a stand, and we came back and formed line. The Colonel then made the memorable remark, "Gentlemen will please to have some connection of ideas," and started the machine again at full speed. This time we melted into a square in a manner which would have pleased General Andrews. From this camp, Colonel Quincy resigned, pretty well exhausted with wounds, exposure, and the trials of the Rebel prison.
We now moved camp—Major Mudge commanding—to a pine grove, where we constructed quite a picturesque military village, and became absorbed in the habits and peculiarities of the wood-tick.
The days rolled on into June; and it seemed fully time to be doing something more about beating Lee, whose lieutenants were successfully screening their preparations for the coming Northern invasion. General Halleck, General-in-Chief at Washington, was still busily engaged telegraphing to the generals in the field; and, no doubt, Hooker was hampered by these voluminous instructions, often so at variance with his own plans, which were apt to be excellent, and he was unable at times to suppress his own dominant and rather insubordinate spirit....