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    [Peninsula Campaign]. Union Soldier's Diary of George Hall, 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry. A pocket diary bound in leather, 3" x 4.8," for the year 1862 kept by Hall, a musician with the 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry. The infantry was formed in Rockland, Maine in May 20, 1861, with more than 1,000 men, including a regiment band, mustered into service. The regiment participated in several major engagements, including the first Battle of Bull Run, the Peninsula Campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and the Battle of Cold Harbor. The regiment was mustered out of service on July 19, 1864.

    When 1862 began, Hall's regiment was camped outside of Alexandria, Virginia. Hall's entries provide a fascinating daily record of the routines of camp life, band performances, activities of the regiment, news of Union force movements, and brief weather reports. Hall actually began recording his own entries on January 19, writing that he had "copied the foregoing from diaries of different members of the band."

    By the middle of March 1862 the daily routine of camp life was to change for Hall and his fellow soldiers when General George McClellan and the Army of the Potomac began the Peninsula Campaign. On Friday, March 14, Hall wrote that the regiment received "orders last evening to be in readiness to march in the morning at a moment's notice with two days rations." The regiment did not begin its movement until Monday, March 17, however: "Broke camp at 1 ½ o'clock P.M. Arrived in Alexandria were reviewed by Gen. McClellan. Embarked about sunset on board the Canonicus." The next day Hall recorded that "the expedition sailed down the Potomac accompanied by two gunboats from Ft. Washington. Passed one deserted Rebel battery about three o'clock P.M....Passed the other battery about midnight, which was fired into by our gunboats to ascertain if it was deserted. Three shots were fired but no reply." On March 19 Hall wrote that he saw "the gunboat Monitor for the first time."

    Hall's entries returned to describing the usual routines of camp life until April 3, when, as part of the planned siege of Yorktown, the troops received orders to "be ready to march at 7 o'clock tomorrow with two days rations." Two days later, Hall recorded that he and his fellow soldiers marched toward Yorktown and had reached "a Rebel earthwork about noon....The Rebels fired a few shells from this point and then fled. Heard heavy firing all afternoon while on the road. Halted for the night about 5 P.M. in a field. Some shell and shot were fired by the Rebels into our midst doing no damage." On April 18 Hall writes of a Confederate attack that was repulsed: "Last night while out in Picket duty with the regiment were startled about 12 o'clock by the firing of musketry on our left. The reserve were in line in a few moments ready to assist if called upon but were not. The firing was brisk but lasted but a few moments. Again about 2 o'clock the firing was heard again but less rapid than before which soon ceased. This proved to be an attempt by the Rebels to take one of our batterys [sic], but they were repulsed with quite a heavy loss."

    Not all the gun fire faced by Hall's unit came from Confederate guns, however. Hall's April 27 entry notes that he was "aroused in the night by the firing of Pickets which proved to be the 37th N.Y. firing upon our Regt. which were stationed in front of them. This was done by mistake they not knowing that they were there owing to the neglect and drunkenness of their officers." On May 4 Hall recorded the fall of Yorktown: "Yorktown Evacuated by the Rebels during the last night. The Rebel works in possession of our Troops at 4 o'clock A.M."

    On May 6, the day after the Battle of Williamsburg, Hall wrote of just missing out on the fighting and witnessing the bloody results of the battle: "Were ordered to fall in early this morn and formed a battle line and started toward the Rebels but after proceeding to the opening in front of their works and charging...found they had evacuated....I was ordered to go and search for wounded. Found several. Assisted in getting five into the ambulances. The field of battle a horrid scene. Loss apparently heavy on both sides."

    Hall's entries from May 31 and June 1 refer to the Battle of Seven Pines, which marked the end of the Army of the Potomac's Peninsula offensive. Although Hall's brigade did not see action during the first day of the battle, it was "in position all night." The next day, however, Hall recorded that the brigade were "engaged this morning and fought nobly holding their ground. Our Regt. lost 2 killed 9 wounded. The enemy after making a desperate effort to flank us fell back being driven at the point of the bayonet by the 3rd Me. regt. Have been searching for wounded men in the woods. The loss is apparently heavy on both sides. Helped to bury the two killed of our regiment."

    By early July 1862, Hall's camp was at Harrison's Landing. On July 8 he missed seeing President Lincoln due to illness: "A little excitement attended upon the presence of the President, who reviewed the troops here. Salutes were fired and bands played etc. I being unwell did not go out of our camp, which is in the woods, to see him." On August 30, 1862, Hall bemoaned the defeat of Union forces at the Second Battle of Bull Run: "There was skirmishing and changing of positions etc. until about 4 o'clock when Rebels opened on our right wing and after fighting for about an hour our forces left the field and skedaddled in a disgraceful manner toward Centerville. This is a 2nd Bull Run....We were completely whipped and routed today, a great disaster to us."

    Hall records his mustering out on September 13, 1862 at Washington, D.C. It appears from previous diary entries that his discharge was due to an unnamed illness. His diary ends on September 14 with the brief entry "Left Washington at 5 P.M."

    George L. Hall served as a musician 3rd class in the 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted on June 11, 1861 and mustered out at Washington, D.C. on September 13, 1862.

    Condition: The diary's leather binding is slightly worn but in overall good condition. The leather inside the closing flap is loose. There is a monthly calendar as part of the front matter and the page that includes the moths of November and December is detached. The interior of the dairy is in good condition, with pages of for August 29 and August 30 showing a slight tear in the middle. The pen and pencil entries are clear and legible.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    12th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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