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	    Condition of the Army.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
From a Special Correspondent.
		CAMP NEAR YORKTOWN, April 23, 1862.
  Two days of pitiless rain, followed by an April
day, its froward characteristics exaggerated into vio-
lence, and now a sunny, cloudless morning; that is
our atmospheric record since Sunday.  Three days of 
discomfort, misery, increase of disease, and such
work as could be effected, sum up our experiences.
The duration of the storm corresponds with what I
have observed of this locality, and the negroes design-
nate it  Old-fashioned Virginia weather,  adding
that in the ensuing month it will be hot enough to
roast an egg in the sun.  At present that con-
tingency seems far from undesirable.  With a
vivid recollection of our recent drenching
and dampness, our feelings resemble those of
the Highland congregation, who shivered under a
three hours  sermon, in a fireless chapel on a Win-
ter s day, and were rebuked by their minister with
the assurance that  hell was far coulder,  the 
zealous domine subsequently excusing his heterodox
representation by insisting that he had admitted the
contrary,  they would all be trying to get there. 
Warmth, sunlight, heat, are what we yearn for;
the drying up of the execrable roads, the completion
of those under construction, of the rest of our prepa-
rations, and then, just as soon as Gen. McClellan
pleases, a battle.  Whatever our discomforts, I be-
lieve they are borne as well as similar sufferings by
other armies, say of the British in the Crimea; I
can offer no higher testimony.  Whether, as in that
instance, many of them might not have been avoid-
ed, or at least mitigated by provident forethought, is
another question.
  I think our Commander-in-Chief is popular with
the army in general; that they have confidence in
his ability.  I have observed no particularly ram-
pant manifestations of it; wet men, occasionally
hungry men, men subject to picket duty of twenty-
four hours upon a stretch, in drenched woods,
swamps, and morasses, men once used to comfort,
cleanliness, and all the advantage of civilized life,
who have experienced the reverse in a year s sol-
diering, are not apt to be enthusiastic, except in pic-
torial newspapers.  Still, the feeling of confidence
exists, and is, so far, satisfactory.  Taken in conjunc-
tion with what I wrote in my last letter, this con-
veys the sentiment of the soldiery toward Gen. Mc-
Clellan.  They believe he will not move until he is
quite ready; they trust that something satisfactory
and decisive must then come of it.  Part of this I put
down to the private s habitual and disciplined respect
for those above him; the rest may be based on past
experience.  I offer no opinion, merely chronicling
what I see and am sure of.
  So our men work at throwing up nocturnal in-
trenchments and masked batteries, at road making

[newspaper clipping: second column]
at all the miscellaneous labor which renders their
profession the hardest and the least remunerative in
the world, and which we are forbidden by our parole
particularly to report returning to their miserable
mis-called shelter-tents, sometimes to lie on the damp
earth, to contract disease and death.  So thinking, so
laboring, and so suffering, the siege of Yorktown
progresses, with more or less of wisdom and ability
in charge of it.
  I pass from general observation to private experi-
ence, involving whatever may accrue from it.  Ren-
dered lugubrious by the flooding of our tent on the 
dismal afternoon of Monday and the consequent con-
version of its earthen floor into a pool of dirty water,
I hailed the fitful sunlight of yesterday with exulta-
tion and resolved to improve the opportunity by an
excursion to a point upon the York River, affording
a view of both Yorktown and Gloucester.  My
friend, the artist of an illustrated paper, went with
me, trudging painfully through mud and puddles,
until the courtesy of Major E. Bement of the 3d 
Pennsylvania Cavalry accommodated him with a
horse.  Re-enforced by that gentleman and the rep-
resentative of a Philadelphia newspaper, we set out
accordingly, under the guidance of this latter.
  The 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry is encamped on a 
woody elevation to the right of Yorktown road, and
my present quarters a suitable spot during rain, but
unpleasantly populous in wood-ticks.  These pestif-
erous insects are a species of sylvan bed-bug, re-
sembling their odious kindred of domestic life in ap-
pearance and instincts; only they burrow in your 
flesh in addition to depleting it.  The woods of this
peninsula produce, also, copper-head, black and
ground snakes; which, in conjunction with the fever
and ague and typhoid resulting from the swamps,
and their fierce heats, must render it a truly delight-
ful Summer residence. Close by, on the other side
of the little run, so shallow as to be a mere rivulet
at the bottom of a steep bank, is the inevitable Rebel
camp, this time of unusual construction.  The huts, if
so they may be called, are built almost entirely of
earth, and partly subterranean.  Looking into these
cavernous pits, some of them half-filled with water,
they seemed dreary sojourning places, but here a
Virginia regiment lay all the Winter, as the country
people and negroes informed us.  The piles of oyster-
shells scattered about intimated that the neighboring
river had been made tributary to their subsistence,
as it is to our men s now.
  By a villianous half mile of road, converted by
the rain into alternate quagmires of mud and pools 
of water, we rode through the forest to Camp Graf-
ton, heretofore spoken of as selected for the general
hospital of Heintzelman s corps, and happily, still
waiting for occupants.  Thence a shorter forest road
brought us to the open country, on the right of a pic-
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page one hundred and fifty-two
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding weather conditions at Yorktown.
Subject:Bement, Major; Civil War; Diseases; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hall (artist); Journalism; McClellan, George B.; Military; New York tribune.; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, 3rd; Siege of Yorktown (Va.)
Coverage (City/State):Yorktown, [Virginia]
Scan Date:2010-06-17


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.
Subject:Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.