John L. Foster photo

The following is a transcription of a diary written by John L. Foster. He was a coronet player in the 14th Regiment New York State Volunteers band during the civil war**. It is thought that he was between 14 and 19 years old at the time. J. L. Foster was my Great Grandfathers best friend and when he died, having no heirs, he left this diary to him. The actual diary is in the possession of my aunt but she made copies for my family and me and I am transcribing from one of these.
John L. Foster’s grammar and handwriting are very hard to decipher and I am no expert on Civil War history (though this endeavor has greatly increased my knowledge). I have attempted to add the correct words, inserted in brackets [ ], to help with understanding his diary. I have, however, transcribed all entries as exactly as possible. Spaces occupied by ______ represent words or fragments that I am unable to decipher. Possible meanings of unknown words will be distinguished by parenthesis ( ) and/or a question mark (?).   


Carl F. Haskins, 2002
lifzgood2us@yahoo.com

Page 1

John L. Foster
14th Regd Band
N.Y.S.V.

Page 2

July 17th 1861
Left Batavia N.Y. at one Pm for Washington D.C. to join the 14th Regd N.Y.S.V. as the Regd Band
Went through Baltimore Md
July 18 then Phil

July 19- arrived in Washington at 11.a.m. we all marchd 2 miles
The boys wire [were] verry glade to se us. It was a hot day

July 20
At Camp Douglas the first we plaid [played] for gaurdmount and wire[were] sworn in the U.S. Service plaid[played] for dresparad[dress parade]

Page 3

July 21st.
We recived marching orders

July 22
We marched to Arlington hights  It raind hard all day

July 23d
Nothing doing

July 24th
Same        hot

July 25th

July 26-
Got a permit to go to Washington Went in the whit house[Whitehouse]Tra___  Capetill[Capitol] Pat. Office saw a lot had a good time

Page 4

July 27
Nothing to day

July29

July 30
Inspection of the Regd-
All went of[off] well

July 31
I went again to Washington to have my Instrument ficxt[fixed] spent all day took in all of the sigts[sights]

Page 5

August 1-1861
No orders

2nd
same

3d
“ went over to the 12 Regt to see the Batavia boys

4th
the 14 wase cald out to Parade Pres Lincoln Inspected the Regt

5th
no order to day  went down to the potomic river   

Page 6

Augt 6-
no order out drilling

7-
no order I went over to General Lees house we raised(raided?) the house I got a pease[piece] ribin[Ribbon] from Mrs Lees bonnet and some flower - we had to get the Rebs were after us

8
no order

9
same

10-   "

11    " raind all day

Page 7

Augt 12/61
no order. drilling

13
no order    "

14
same

15-     "

16-     "

17-
no order the boys raisd the old mick and wanted to ______ (Break?) up camp the Col cald[called] out Sharmans battery to la__(lay?) on the boys so we had to keep still-

Page 8

Augt 18-61
no order  drilling

19
    ''         ''

20          "

21          "
I went out to see the 12 boys

22
no order
our bass drum bustad[busted]

23
a bricade inspection
it wase a good one

24
a dispatch came in that the enimis[enemy] are marching aginst us

Page 9

Augt 25/1861
Sunday we had a sermen preachd we plaid[played] why do summer roses fa_(fat?)(fade?) and Rest spearet[spirit] rest  the entir[entire] Regt move out

26-
a Bricade Drill
thir[there] were 6 Regt 2 Calvy[Calvery]Reg 4 2 Artillary co- a big time Pres Lincoln was wittness The wind bleu[blew] of[off] his hat. I pict it up gave it to him he cald[called] me a good boy

27
we had order to march in the Batle ____ (field?) left 7-pm cam home 11 pm was____ (fishing)(?)

Page 10

Augt 28/1861
Marchd out again to the Battle feild some firing A rebel shell came over me but did no damage

29
Still on the B. feild A balloon came over from Washington to our camp and went up to spy out the ennimes

30
No hard fiegting[fighting] to day

31
same

Page 11

Sept 1st -61
back in camp Sunday a nother surman[sermon] wase preachd We playd a gin[again] church music

2 No order

3     "

4
     "  one mor Balloon came over to us

5
     no order

6         "

7         "

8         "

9        "

10      "

Page 12

Sep 11-  61
Long roll wase cald we had to march out at once for battle fiering all the time

12
nothing to day

13
Long roll cald again We met the Rebles to day We drove them back and we L____l several

14-
back to camp No fiering to day

15
no order

16   "

17   " a inspection It raind hard

Page 13

Set 18- 61
at Ford[fort] Cockren  No fiering

19-
nothing to day

20-    "

21-    "

22-
I went over to 12 Regt

23-
A W Gardner our leader went to the Hospitle sick  I lead the band All went well

24
no order

25   "   I went to Wash DC

26- Dr Shar__ren(Sherman?) went to Georg town Hospitle so we had no Barriton[Barritone]

Page 14

Sep 27/61
no order I went to the city Wash again  Saw H. Dingman

28
The Regt went out to day a nother atacket(attacked?)

29
we got 3 Rebles  2 of our boys wounted[wounded]

30
Rested to day  No fighting

Page 15

Oct 1st 1861
I recd a box of ___________ (miaknawls???) from home Mr Miller sent it to me

2
no order

3-
we mooved to ______(Munson?)(Newsom?) Hill Va camp Moli_ken

4
no order

5      "

6      "

7      "

8      '

9
to day we had to march to Miner Hill Va

Page 16

Oct 10/61
No order

11    "

12    "

13-
We saw the enimeys about one mille from our lines Our battery sheld them

14
no fiering to day

15
We sheald the enimes  We caught them setting a house on fire We kild several of them One of our boys wounted[wounded]

Page 17

Oct16/61
no fiering to day

17        "

18        "

19        "

20        "

21        "  
Billy Arnold and I went over to see the 12 boys

22
We got Marching order

23
No figting

Page 18

Oct 24/61
no fighting Some of our boys went over to the 9 Massachusant[(Massachusetts?) Regt

25
nothing to day

26
had a brickad Drill  10000 men in line(s)

27-
no order

28    "

29    " one of our boys died a member of co F

Page 19

Oct 30- 61
We bured[buried} him at ________ (fals Champ?) (Balls Bluff?)Va  4 mile march  We plaid to the funrall[funeral]

31
nothing to day  Some of us went oer to see the 44 Regt

Page 20

Nov 1.-1861
a brickade Drill

2
No order it raind hardt

3-
I went over to the 12 Reg Saw Tutle(?) Fosey from Batavia

4
Brigad Drill

5
no order

6    "
I wase sick

7   "    "

8   "    "

Page 21

Nov 9/1861
We had a Bricade Drill at Baileys Cross road Va. 12000 soldiers Many Cavelry & Baterys Pres Lincoln and many Washington People and many Ladys wire[were] prese[present] The Washington Ladys presented the 14 Reg the folowing day with white gloves Our band wase cald out of the rainkx[ranks] and put on the stand to play for the intire review We wire[were] cald the best band on the feild I had the priveled [privilege] to lead the band

Page 22

(The date is torn off but it would be Nov 10, 1861)
To day is a lonly sunday

11-
2 of our boys wire[were] punishd[punished] to day for not doing their duty

12
No order

13    "

14    "

15    "

16
Order that ___(are?) to march to South Carlina

Page 23

Nov 17/61
No order

18    "
Anderson our _______(2nd Eli ???)(_and Eb???) run away went home

19-
orders wire[were] read that we are to have a nother big reveue The Colnal wanted the boys to do thire[their] best and keep up our repation[reputation]

Page 24

Nov 20/1861
a nother reveue at Balls crosroad We marchd 4 mils- thire[there] wire[were] 70000 soldier and 100 cannon several Regt of Cavelry Thise[This] wase the  largest and finest reveue I ever saw The President & many people from Wash DC wire thire[there] Our Regt led the parade

Nov 21-
no orders
I went over to the 49

22
no order

23    "

Page 25

Nov24/61
1st snow to day the first we saw sence we left home

25
no order

26
Long roll wase cald we had to march out

27
to day is thanksgiven  The boys trimmed up the camp

28
no order

29-
I went to Wash DC Got a new Eb cornet

30
no order

Page 26

Dec1/1861
no order

2
no order

3    "
snow and cold

4    "

5    "

6    "

7    "

8    "

9    "

Page 27

Dec 10/1861
no order  Our Regt had thire[their] Photgraph taken in the camp- Dan Nash died to day

11
No order

12
Playd for D Nash funrel[funeral]

13
No order

14    "

15    "

16    "

Page 28

Dec 17/1861
Played for a nother Funral[funeral] One of the co E boys got kild Our leader did not go out with us I lead the band

18
No order

19     "

20
out at a nother review

21
no order

22    "

23    "
Snowed and bleu hard all day

Page 29

Dec 24-1861
No order

25
Cristmas to day One of our boys got shot

26
No order

27    "

28    "

29    "

30    "
Andrews came back

31
No order  Mrs Tomlinson & Mrs Wright from Batavia came to see us They want us to come home Good by 1861

Page 30

BLANK

Page 31

Jan 1st 1862
new year No order

2
No order

3    "

4    "
Snowed agin

5
Read order to go to Tennese[Tennessee] Did not go

6
No order

7    "

8    "

9    "

Page 32

Jan 10/1862
No order

11    "

12    "
More snow

13    "

14    "
About 4 in snow Cold

15    "

16    "

17
We went out on Picked to day had a hard time

Page 33

Jan 18/1862
No order

19
We came back from 3 day Picket

20
No order  Our lead A W Gardener ran away and went home I now lead the band

21
No order I and B Wymen(Wynem) went to Alexanta[Alexandria] Va  We saw a dreadful place

22
No order

23
We read marching order  Cold

Page 34

Jan 24/1862
No order

25    "
Snowed

26-
Sunday A lonly one

27
Monday no order a fine day

We wire out on Drill today Our batery wase with us They fierd a a shot The shell busted right by me but no one wase hurt.
Thin[Then] we went to sernaed our Colnel but he wase not in  Wase over to Gen Porters  We went there and serenaded them  We recivd[recieved] much praise

Page 35

Jan 28/1862
No order

29    "
Very cold

30
No order To day a very unplesent day We played for a nother funral One of our boys died We sent him home in the evening We serenated our Colnel & hise wife She wase with him in the camp We playd 4 peasis[pieces] and we wire cald in and wier[were] well praisd by the Colnel and hise wife. We plaid better then ever befor. All over the camp we heard cheers

Page 36

Jan 31/1862
No orders to day. A unplesand day  Our Dr _______(Churchel?) presented a gold _____(mounted?)(anointed?) swoard to our Colnel Thin we wire also present to play good musick and we did from 8 to 10 pm All went off fine

Page 37

Feb 1/1862
No order bad weather

2
To day is Sunday and a lonly day Fritz ____(Munson?) our Bb player took sick He had to go to the Hospitle in the camp We read a letter from Batavia from our leader Gardner that runaway wase in batavia We never saw him any more

3
No order Snowed

4    " O how lonly

Page 38

Feb 5/1862
No order

6    "

7
No order  We plaid for gardmount thise morning After that we went in to the woods to practice  Whil[while] so doing the long rollwase cald The regt left in a hurry Befor we got back to camp they wir gon. Levi Garner and I folowed them up and after 8 mile walk we caught up to them
They with a regt of cavelry weir in line of batle

Page 39

The Enmimis[Enemies] wire[were] coming in line of battle Our Regt  _L(?) cavely drove them back We kild some and caught 12 of the Rebs  One of our Cap(Captains) got wounted & so did 2 of the boys but we lost none  They are a bad set of men  If they to capturd us we would never see our home again  They would have shot us up

Page 40

Feb 8/1862
No order  I copied a piese of music that I got from the 4th Mich Regd Band it was a fine piec[piece]

9
Sunday No order A fine day we read in the news paper that Congress wase trying to pas a act to muster out all Regt band  Bad news for us  We dont want to go

10
No order

11
No order To day it snowed a regular Blicerd day

Page 41

Feb 12/1862
A fine day No order. The 4th Mich band came over and cernated[serenaded] our Colonel. We read good news to night that our boys took Roranock Island and took 2000 Rebels and kild 1000  We lost 300 and lots wounted

13
No orders to day

14    "

15
Our Regt & the 4th Mich marchd to Alexander(Alexandria) to gard the R.R. but no trobl[trouble]

Page 42

Feb 16/62
No orders

17
A raine day We wire orderd out but no go  4pm the news came in that our boys took Ford[fort] Donlinson & 15000 prisners  The lose[loss] on both side wire[were] very havy[heavy]   We came out on the paradeground and playd the Star spangle banner the boys all came out and chears could be heard all over

Page 43

Feb 18/1862
We went out agin but no battle

19-
back  No orders

20    "

21
No order  My old bass(boss?) Mr Miller from Batavia came to see me He stayed 3 days with me then went home  I went a few miles with him  He felt bad  he wanted me to go home with him but I could not go

Page 44

Feb 22/62
No orders

23    "

24
A call came in We had to march out but a heavey rian came up and both sides had to fall back  No fighting

25
No orders to day Gen Morrell was presentd with flags by his Brigade and there wase a grand time  We plaed

Page 45

Feb 26/62
No order

27-
We read marching and went out to block the Rebels and it wase a storme day

28-
No trouble to day We read Pay to day for the 1st time in a long time  The boys wire sower [sour] but after pay all felt better  Good by Feb

Page 46

March 1/1862
No order fine day  All went off well  The boys all are happy

2-
A order came to us that must moove out  We had to draw 5 days rastion about 1-pm  It comensd to snow and it wase very cold  We sufferd much

3-
Noon it comenced to rain hard and at night the wind blows so we could not keep our tents up

Page 47

March 4-1862
No orders We went out to practice

5-
No orders  I sent home a musick book I Coupet(copied?) off

6-
Our Regt went out on Picket to day  Brig Gen F. W. Lander died to day He wase wounted in the battle of Bloomer _____(Galle?)(Valley?)

7-
No order Fine day

Page 48

March 8/62
We went back to camp from picket to day

9-
Sunday  We had to Drill this morning and in the afternoon  We had a big dresparad  The 4th Mish[Michigan] & 62- Ren(?) Regt came in parad with us and we had a big time  Gen Portter & stafe wire present  In the eve we heard heavy fireing at Bull Run  It wase horrid

Page 49

March 10/62
We left our old camp Minners Hill at 2Pm for Fairfax Coast[Court] House. A hard long march from 2 to 7-Pm  We wire all plaid out - That eve we plaid the Star spangle B and we wire the 1st  Union Regt in the place

11-
At Fairfax in camp we had such a cold night we like to froze to death  We had to lay in snow and with our blankets froze(?) in the ground One of our Battery boys wase so cold he fell of hise horse and died

Page 50

March 12/62
Fairfax  I saw som Rebles brought in to our camp. Poor looking boys

13-
after gardmount Geo Gardner Lewis and I went out and talked with the Rebs

14-
We had orders to march again  Lewis and I walked out 1 mile back of Fairfax Coast[Court] House to a farm house  We foun(found) 2 Reble soldier thir[there] They run out and off but they shot at us We fired at them I shot one in the leg but he got off

Page 51

March 15-62
Got orders to go from Fairfax at 6am in the morning to Alexander Va  We had a hard march it rained all day  Got within 2 mils of A. at 5pm- Lewis Geo and I went in to Alexandera Va that eve and we had to dig out in a hurry  All the peable[people] ar Rebs  We came near getting shot

16-
No ord   Lewis and I went over to Ford[fort] Worth a Union Ford and a dandy

Page 52

March 17/62
Camp Alexander Va   No order

18-                                 "  Geo & I went over to Fort Elsworth & back We had a Brickad Drill  All went of well

19-
We had a big reveue 12000 men Gen McLellen  Gen McDowell Gen Franklin Gen Hinzelmen wire presint

20-
Alexander  It rained hard  Orders came in to march out  A fine time to go in hard rain

Page 53

March 21/62
Left Alexander to take the steamer Nelly Baker for Fortress _______(Monrow?) (Manson?) Va
We saw Ford Washington Mount Vernon grand cenery[scenery]

22-
We passd the Reble blockade all right No firing wase done on either side  We had 4 gun boats with us 27 boats in all

23- On water yet arived at Fortis[fortress] Monrow at 8 Pm left the steamer and campt out in the opening all night  We had nothing to eat It wase a hard thing for us  We saw

Page 54

the little Monetor the yankee cheesebox the Rebs call it

24-
We marchd through Hampton once a fine town but the Rebs burnd it all up. It was a sad sight to the intire town in ruins. The next morning we saw the Reb way off diging out as fast as they cud[could]

25
We falowed arrived and came to wats a place cald Big Bathle  The Rebs capturd 2 of our boys We stopet[stopped] her[here] all night

Page 55

March__[26]/62
No order to day every thing wase still

27-
We started to march to big Bathle(Battle?) 10 mile march  This is a place we wire[were] defeated once but we ar bount to take stand and hold it  This time we capturd it We planted the stars and strips on it  This time we drove them off  We falowed them up but they would not stand & fiet[fight] The 14th chased them like dogs  We shot 3 and took som prisners  We had Cap Folets Battery with us on an of[off] 14 boys wase shot  We had a hart time Thise is what you get by being a soldeir

Page 56

March___2 [28/62]
To day we had to take rest Dr Sharman Geo & I went over to Chespeek Bay & got some Oysters Had a good time

29-
No order to day it raind all day

30-
It still raines hard We had to march out and it wase bad  Got so ____(weak?)

31-
returned back to camp to wait for beter weather

Good by March

Page 57

April 1-1862
No order to day

2-
We went out on picket

3-
Orders to march to York Town thats what ____ ___ (we was??)

4
We marchd 3 mils to big battle We met the Rebles thin[then] they comencd firing at us We returnd shots to them Our Battery _____(spent?)(opent) on them and they dug out  Some of our Regt wase wounted We also give them the same Kild 2 We lad[layed] all night the wood 3 mils from York Town-

Page 58

April 5/1862
This morning we herd[heard] heavy firing at York Town We wire[were] ordered at once to go We arived at York Town at 10am and at once ingaged in a big fight  Many of the Rebs wire kild & wounded A number of our boys also wire[were] kild  2 wounted  At night firing ceasd and it was only kept up by our Picets[pickets]

April 6
Sunday No fi__ (fierd?)(fiest?) to day The Rebs fired all day now and then a cannon ball over at us but did us no harm (the following was in really small writting) this is my birth day Ill[I'll] __________ __ (Remember it?)(_____eight?)

7-
No frid(?) to day only reconoitring now and then a shot wase fired

Page 59

April 8-62
A bad night for us It raind all night We had no shelter All wet The Rebs kept shelling us of and on

9-
No fird(fired) to day very cold to day

10-
Nothing to day-a snow storm

11-
No orders Rains again Shels are still coming over at us

12
Nothing to day same as yestarday

13-
nothing to day

14-    "

15-
Our Regt went out on picet The Reb capturd some of our men but we took them back and got a few of the Rebs

Page 60

April 16/62
At Yorktown got on picket Heavy firing to day on both sids[sides] It raind all day Many ____(wounded?)

17
Firing to day our boys ar crosing the river

18-
This morning at 3am the Rebs atactd our left and a hard battle wase faught  Many kild & wounded

19-
Still firing  I helped carie[carry] a kild soldir out from the bristmark(breastwork??) The Rebs fird severall shels at us but did not hit us  To day I read in a NY paper that the 14 NYSV wire[were] all kild only 14 saved That is not so  We lost a lot but not all kild

Page 61

April 20/62
nothing don[done  Firing continued

21-
raind hard all day - nothing

22-
orders came to move back

23-
nothing to day We held our grount

24-
We moved to the right The Rebs sheld us but we put up brest work(?) Gen McLellan came a long says it is a sight to see the work our boys done

25
Nothing new to day

26-
still raine- nothing

Page 62

April 27/62
The Reb give a heavy storm of bullets Oh how they did humm about us

28-
Nothing new

29    "    "

30
Big firing on our sid[side] We made them get many wounded

May 1-1862 Va
We went in to camp at Yorktown to day

2-
Much firing to day

3-
Went out on Picket 4 of our boys hurd[hurt]

Page 63

May 4/62
Great firing came on us from the Rebs We drove them back They left We wire orderd to follow them We did so

5
Order came in for a nother battle

6-
News came to us we took Gen Mckrish and 10000 men

May 7-
fiting continuel

8-
Marching toward Wast[West] Point

9-
Arrivd at West Point We caught 31 rebs and kild some-

Page 64

(date unreadable but it was May 10th 1862)
Nothing new to day

11-
Genl MC came in

12-
No news

13
Still in camp West point but we left marchd to Cumberlen

14-
arived at Cumberlen Landing

15-
Nothing

16-
Left Cumberlen to day

17-
arived at White House

18-
Nothing

19-
We had a long hart march

20-
A nother    "    "    "    "

Page 65

May 21-62 Va
We marcht to Hanover Coast [Court]House

22-
It raind hart

23-    "

24-    "

25-    " Nothing don[done]

26-
No rain to day Ready for Battle

27-
This day we will always remembr 18 mil march  8 miles beyond Richmond nothing to eat  In a big battle Pa_____(porter??) Divison(division?) wase forct back-terrible fiet The lose[loss] on both side wase heavy

28-We stayd on the battle field all night  Nothing to eat- 2 days

Page 66

May (date torn off but should read 29 1862) Va
To day we marchd back 18 mils to Gains Mills a nother hard march
and nothing to eat
30
To day we had the hardest thunter storm I ever knew  It struck and kild one of 44 boys

31-
At Ganse Mills(?)  havey[heavy] firing near Richmont[Richmond] We had orders to march again

June 1-62
Left crost Chickahonomy

"2-
Hald no order

"3-    "

"4-    "

"5-    "

"6- Went out on Picket One of our boys got shot from Co H

Page 67

June (date missing but should read June 7th, 1862)
None news

8    "

9    "

10    "
raind hart

11    "

12     "

13
orders to march The Rebs ar coming in on our right We stopd them

14-nothing doing

15-    "

16-    "

17-    "

18-    "

19-
March

20  ""

21- "

22-23-24-25
Count of(off?) the 7 day

26-Battle to Jult 1st

Page 68

June 27/62
In a nother Battle at old church a hart fight we won
Chickahomey

28
A nother Battle at Gaines Mills  We lost our Le Colnel We had to fall back

29
Had to crose the Chicahomeny ___ (ages?) I wase wounted right sid[side]

30
Reb came again We had a ___ fight and had to fall back

Page 69

July 1/62 Va
We had a nother battle it wase a hard one Our lose[loss] wase heavy

2
We had to fall back

3    "    "    "

4
fiet    Manson was hurt

5 "I also wase by busting of shell

6-7-8-9-10-11- fiet

12-
At Harison Landing - No orders

13-14-
No order

15-16-17-"

18-19-20-"

21-22-23-"
Nothing to eat

24-25- "

26-27-
Very hot " (nothing to eat)

Page 70

July 28/1862 Va
a order ready to march with 3 day ration A nother fight befor us

29
March & fight

30
The Reb sheld us- one of our boys wase kild I wase wounted on my right sid[side]head hand and knee  Sid[side] by busting of a sheal[shell] (in small print above the last line it says 'at 12 night")The Rebs fierd at us on the other sid[side] of James River

31-
Fiering capet[kept] up

Page 71

Augt 1/1862 Va
Rebs keap shelling us

2-
Some of our boys went acrosed the river and burned some of the Rebs houses

3-
No order

4     "

5     "

6     "

7-
To day we heard that all band___(lers?) to be musterd out

Page 72

Augt 8/1862 at Va
No order

9    "

10-
Left for Washington and went home

Arived home = Batavia NY
August 18 = 1862- A.O.K.

Page 73

Inlisted in the Armmy U.S. left Batavia N.Y. July 6/1861-
Arived in Washington D.C. July 9-
joind our Regt the 14th N.Y.S.V.-
July 17th 1861-sworn in th U.S. Servise July 20- 1861-

Dishargd by a act of Congres
Augt 10th 1862 at Harrison Landing Va.

Page 74

(all of the following entries were crossed out for some reason)
Janit Kitching Post No.60
G.A.R. yonkers N.Y.
Feb 1/ 1913

A Kipp
commander now

E.J. Mitchell secy

Joint Westchester County Association of the G.A.R.

John C. Shotts Prest
Homer Anderson secty

      out

** He is listed in the National Parks service Civil War Soldiers & Sailors system as:
John L. Foster. Union. Company F&S. Soldiers Rank in, Member Band. Soldiers rank out, 2 Class Mus. Film Number M551 Roll 48.


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