All For The Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes
Elisha Hunt Rhodes
All for the Union is the eloquent and moving diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes, who enlisted into the Union Army as a private in 1861 and left it four years later as a 23-year-old lieutenant colonel after fighting hard and honorably in battles from Bull Run to Appomattox. Anyone who heard these diaries excerpted on the PBS-TV series The Civil War will recognize his accounts of those campaigns, which remain outstanding for their clarity and detail. Most of all, Rhodes's words reveal the motivation of a common Yankee foot soldier, an otherwise ordinary young man who endured the rigors of combat and exhausting marches, short rations, fear, and homesickness for a salary of $13 a month and the satisfaction of giving "all for the union."
Richmond. The battle of today is beyond description. The enemy advanced through fields of grain and attacked our lines posted upon a long range of hills. Our gun boat threw shell over our heads and into the Rebel lines. All attempts to drive us from our position failed and at night the Rebels retired. Our Regiment supported the Batteries of our camps and did not suffer much, but saw the whole of the grand fight. Harrison’s Landing, James River, July 3/62—We left Malvern Hill last night and in.
Or in Heaven. I have been busy all day preparing muster and pay rolls. We hope to get some money some day. Sunday July 20/62—Routine work goes on in camp with drills and picket duty. During the last week we have had much rain and our camp has been flooded. This morning the sun made its appearance and the mud is drying up. Dr. Carr left for home last night. Capt. Edwin K. Sherman, who left us two weeks ago on a sick leave, died in New York before he could reach his home. Lieut. Lewis E. Bowen has.
Charge of the Rebel wounded. The ladies present did not seem to be particularly pleased with our party. Frank S. Halliday Camp near Warrenton, Va., Sunday Sept. 12/63—We have had a Sunday school this morning, and the Bible study was well attended by the men. We hope to have a Chaplain soon. Heavy cannonading can be heard in the distance, but we do not know what it means. It has rained hard all day. Sept. 16th 1863—Yesterday we left our pleasant camp near Warrenton and moved to the vicinity.
Spirits, for their defeat was a great surprise to them. While on the field I met several ladies from Winchester caring for the wounded of both sides, giving them water. It will take two or three days to finish the burial of the dead. It is a sad duty to perform. I never was in a battle where I felt so comfortable in my Army experience. It did not seem possible for me to be killed or even injured, and for once I rather enjoyed a fight. Perhaps it was because everything was in our favor.
Relieve them in the rifle pits and for the 5th Corps to advance on the Rebel lines. The fire for a season was severe, and one shell passed through our rifle pit and struck into Co. “D” of the 2nd R.I., but fortunately it did not explode. My new men behaved well, it being their first experience under fire. After the fighting ceased we made fires and tried to dry our clothing. Wednesday Feby 8/65—This morning at 1 o’clock we received orders to recross Hatcher’s Run and return to our old camps. We.