Daily Diary of Charles (Karl) Karsten 1862

Memory of Karl W. K. in West Bend, Wisconsin. Born 21, December, 1843, in Bruel, Mecklenburg, Schwerwin.

I signed up as a solder for the U. S. A. for three years.

Left West Bend to Schlesingerville and stayed for three days. We got to Milwaukee at 4:00 am. I, Jacob Wagner, and John Schultz, had to look for six more men. We could not find any.

10:00 am to 10:00 am 9/16 Stood guard duty with twenty-one men.

We got our bounty.

One man was taken off guard duty.

Our Captain and First Lieutenant, got his sword.

We went form Milwaukee to Chicago.

From Chicago through Toledo, to Cleveland.

From Cleveland through Dunkirk (Lake Erie) to Elmira (N.Y.). Fences are made of pine.

From Elmira to Baltimore.

In Baltimore we saw more blacks than white people. Six regiments waited for transportation. Along the train to Washington there were guards posted.

From Washington we had to march 10 miles with our full pack.

We received tents and (material empregnated with wax). We were a mile from Ft. Corcoran, and eight miles from Bull Run. Eighty thousand men in infantry, cavalry, and artillery, lie here in this area.

We got our horse and wagon. We used our bayonets to make sparks to create a fire. We received rations for two days and our marching orders.

Our regiment left here, except our company stayed for guard duty. I had guard duty with ten men.

We had guard duty with ten men.

Again guard duty and I talked to Low about West Bend.

We marched for Fairfax C. H. (shown)Our back packs were transported. I wrote a letter to my parents.

This was the first wash day

10/19 Sunday
There was an inspection and we received the "War Laws".

Forenoon we had a parade for Sigel because we belong to the second brigade [Krzyzanowski], and the Third Division [Schurz], Eleventh Army Corps [Sigel].

Heipp again in our company.

Got forty bullets.

We learned to shoot, to load, and lie.

We shot at the target.

Wash day. We got marching orders, but it was cancelled. In the evening we suddenly got orders to march and to bring all our belongings, and then we dispersed.

10/26 Sunday
Stormy Rain.

Stormy Rain. We formed a square with four sections and went by six calvary men. Schlesinger and Philips, from Milwaukee, was with us.

Our regiment marched for three miles. I stayed back as a guard.

Noon: The guard also went to the regiment and we put up our tents, flooring of hay. There was a picket from the New York regiment who was shot.

We had a parade in front of Sigel and the finance minister, Mr. Chase. I had guard duty in the afternoon.

Before I had guard duty in the afternoon, we received an inspection and marching orders. 11/2 Sunday
4:00 am we had to get ready to march. We received the full number of bullets and rations for two days. Noon: We reached Centerville (left) and rested an hour. We went across the battlefield of Bull Run (right) - five miles. We slept at night under the stars and I received a letter from my parents.

We continued our march at 6:00 am to Thoroughfare Gap - 15 miles. We stopped in the woods. In the morning we went (?ReBellow), 300 men of the regiment had to go to the front to guard. Got rations for 2 days and passed through two battlefields.

Rested and we also took horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, honey, apples from the country side. Cooked and we fixed the meat all day and had a good time.

Our company went to the front guard duty. I and John Horn, us two corporals with twenty-four men were put to the most forward guard position. We could hear the drums of the enemy. We were in a sunken road. For the first time we had milk for our coffee. The railway was fixed. A Lieutenant was accidently shot by our own men. Stormy night.

We stayed there and wrote to my parents.

11/9 Sunday
We left New Baltimore to Gainesville Station - 6 miles, and then put up our tents.

Forenoon, had a parade. Afternoon, marching drills.

I got a letter form my parents. On guard duty.

Forenoon, guard duty. Afternoon, wrote a letter to my parents.

We had six hours of marching drills.

Marching practice and general inspection. I asked for orders to go to (? honismaker - possibly a tent fixer).

Forenoon, we packed logs for the tents. Afternoon, we were on cattle guard.

11/16 Sunday
Forenoon, cattle guard. Afternoon, received rations for three days and marching orders. Jacob Heipp resigned.

In the morning at 6:30 am, we got ready to march, but did not march. The Seventy-fifth Pennsylvania regiment and two pieces of artillery had to chase away rebels who were going to destroy the railroad.

At 6:00 am, we marched to Centerville - 10 miles. Rained. Six of us made a hut from a half roof, boards, and tents. Also, the telegraph was fixed that was destroyed by the rebels.

We stayed here, we cleaned our rifles and it rained.

It rained and I wrote a letter to my parents. Centerville was surrounded with trenches. It is only a very small town. The hospital was in the church. Four brigades lie in this town.

We went for four miles to get straw from an eighty year old farmer. He had 500 acres.

Wash day and letter to parents.

11/23 Sunday
Forenoon, inspection. Afternoon, went again to front guard duty. I, together with three men, had to guard a barn with hay, and also had to check the pass on that street. The password was "Springfield".

Forenoon, in the front guard line again. Afternoon, we got lodge tents with split logs for floors.

Jacob Heipp went home. We got bricks and stones. We got marching orders for three days.

I got a shirt, underpants, and socks from the government. Cold day.

We put up our tent and made a chimney and a fire place.

Forenoon, we had target shooting, and stopped to get ready to go to the front for guard duty. Afternoon, we had the guard duty in the front. The pass word was "Corinth".

Forenoon, we were in the front. We saw the wooden cannons that frightened McClellen so much. Afternoon, I got a letter form my parents and I finished the chimney.

11/30 Sunday
Forenoon, inspection and someone died of nerve fever in company A.

Darned some clothing.

At 2:00 am we got ready to attack, but nothing came of it. Also, Lewis Grosshans, also known as Padro Schnorrenburg, shot himself in the leg with his own revolver. It was target practice.

Forenoon, we drilled. Afternoon, cattle guard.

Forenoon, cattle guard. Afternoon, I went to get fire wood.

Forenoon, drill. Afternoon, I got a newspaper from Abram Baer. After, wrote him a letter. Snow, cold day.

Wrote a letter to Housmann. Cold day.

12/7 Sunday
Afternoon, advance guard duty (?cassel). Very cold night.

Forenoon, advance guard duty. Afternoon, received a letter from parents and answered our Captain left,(?) finished his duty.

Forenoon, drill. Afternoon, marching orders. Big tents were taken down and taken away.

Morning at 5:00 we received rations for three days. Left to Fairfax Station - 12 miles.

We went on for 14 miles. Evening at eight, we came to our camp.

Morning at 4:00 we received half rations for two days. Went on for 10 miles. I had to guard the wagons and help get the wagons unstuck. At 11:00 pm we got to our camp.

At night I had to guard the wagon. At 7:00 am we went on. After 5:00, we met up with our regiment, which was lying in the vicinity of Dumfries.

12/14 Sunday
We received five crackers and we had to continue for 10 miles until 8:00 pm. Reviewed letters from parents. We marched through Dumfries, which was a nice town, but it is now fully destroyed.

We went on 3 miles to Brooks Station, where we received rations for two days and went on for 9 miles.

Captain Pizzala took company C.

We went back to Stafford C. H. - 14 miles.

We didn't go anywhere. I wrote a letter to my parents. I received bandages from J. Wagner.

General inspection, I made a chimney for Captain Pizzala.

Did nothing. Cold day.

My birthday. In forward guard. The word was "Jerusalem". The guards were very far apart.

Forenoon: Forward guard. Afternoon, Conrad Mack died. Wrote a letter to my parents. I received a letter from Jacob Hert and a newspaper from Abram Baer.

Forenoon, marching drills. Afternoon, buried Conrad Mack. I commanded the funeral persuasion.

I borrowed a dollar form Jacob Ritger. Received a letter from my parents and Jacob Wagner. Evening, Received a show by General Schurz, and forty tambours serenaded him.

12/25 Christmas
I bought cookies for a half dollar and received a box of crackers for Christmas. Wrote a letter to my parents and Jacob Wagner.

Drilled. Bought half a pound of butter for 30 cents.

Wash day and guard duty.

12/28 Sunday
Guard duty. Wrote a letter to John Biederbeck. Afternoon, our 75th regiment had to go six miles for reconnaissance, and came back in the evening.

Drill. Wrote to Jacob Hert.

Our company went to picket, except me.

Drill. Got a letter from my parents. Also received whiskey and molasses.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Micro 251

(Photos courtesy of the National Archives.)