Civil War Diary
of William Owen, Co K., 86th NYSV

December, 1863

Dec 1. Stayed in line of battle all day. 
___ ___ rifle pitts. Fell in soon after 
dark, marched all night very fast, crossed 
the Rapidan just before light at 
Culpepper Ford.

Dec 2. Fell in soon after daylight, marched 
all day & all night. Arrived in our old 
camp at 5 oclock in the morning. Tired, 
hungry & no rations.

Dec 3. Stayed in camp all day, tired & 
worn out & rations short. Straglers
coming in all day. Called up in the night 
to march, did not go.

Dec 4. Stayed in camp. The afternoon the 
division was paraded to witness the
execution of a deserter! A hard sight.

Dec 5. Fell in about two PM, expected to 
march. The Brigd was closed in ___.
Stayed about an hour & returned to camp.

Dec 6. Stayed in camp all day. Our chaplain 
returned from home. Also Col Lansing returned 
from Elmira. Evening attend prayer meeting 
in my tent. Cold weather.

Dec 7. Fixed my tent, washed some clothes 
& evening attended meeting in the
commissary tent, a heavenly time.

Dec 8. Stayed in camp all day. Wrote letter 
home, evening attended prayer meeting in 
Co. B tent.

Dec 9. Troops all building up winter quarters. 
Cold & clear weather. Drew ___, wrote letter 
to friend Tresmouth.

Dec 10. Stayed in camp all day. Wrote letter 
to Sister Margaret. Evening was detailed for 

Dec 11. Went on picket post with 4 men of 
Company G. Cold day, rained a little.

Dec 12. Still on picket. Orders issued for 
granting furloughs. Evening rained hard, 
such are the evenings of the soldier.

Dec 13. Relieved from picket-11 AM & returned 
to camp. Attended meeting: very pleasant: 
attend prayer meeting & wrote letter to the church.

Dec 14. Stayed in camp all day. Wet & mudy 
weather. Did but little of anything.

Dec 15. Worked on my tent with my three friends 
& tentmates Gilbert Aeler, Asa Cross & James D. 

Dec 16. Completed my tent. Evening attended 
prayer in the commissary tent. Had a 
heavenly time. The Lord is with us.

Dec 17. Received pay of the government 
$32.90. Rained hard all day. PM moved
into my new tent.

Dec 18. Stayed in camp. Three boys of 
my Co(K) reinlisted for three years.
About 80 of my Regt reinlisted.

Dec 19. A large detail of the Regt went 
on picket. A severe cold day, washed
some clothes in PM.

Dec 20. AM attended meeting in commissary 
tent. PM wrote letter to my sister Orisa, 
cousin MJ Owen. Evening attend prayer meeting 
in commis. tent

Dec 21. Pickets returned to camp. My friend 
& tent mate Asa Cross taken very sick with 
lung disease. Eve wrote letter to my friend 
C. Wood. J. Revere of Co G died.

Dec 22. Stayed in camp & took care of my 
friend Asa Cross, who is very sick. 
PM the Brgd was out on drill. Some serious 
thought of reinlisting in the U. S.

Dec 23. Early in the morning went to the 
Lieut. office & put my name down to
reinlist on conditions that the Regt want. 
My friend Asa not better.

Dec 24. Stayed in camp. Took care of my 
sick friend Asa. News of the victory
achieved by Gen Aurel. Great quantity 
Rebel stores burned or destroyed.

Dec 25. Stayed in camp. Took care of my 
sick friend Asa Cross, he getting
better. O how thankful  we ought to be 
for life & health. God grant that we
feel so.

Dec 26. My sick friend still getting better. 
PM went to the woods after firewood.

Dec 27. Attended meeting in the commissary 
tent. ___ by Chap. Watts. My sick
friend getting better. Evening attended meeting.

Dec 28. Stayed in camp all day. Had a severe 
foot ___. Had it drawn by the steward of the 
124 N.Y. Regt.

Dec 29. Stayed in camp, helped to make and 
___ muster rolls. Eve had prayere meeting 
in my tent.

Dec 30. On brigade guard. Sergeant of guard 
relief of 21 men. Very mudy & bad traveling 
but tis better than we deserve. No reason to 
find fault.

Dec 31. Relieved from guard at 8 AM. A very 
wet rainy day. Mustered into the U.S. service 
for three years or during the war. Thus I am 
sacrificing the prime of my life for my 
country but God be thanked that I have that 
privledge. Duty calls & duty speaks louder 
tones than pleasure. 


Thus 1863 has gone, is numbered with the past. 
How full of blessings has my pathway been shown 
during the past year. Who but Almighty God could 
have brought me safely through so many dangers 
and when I look back over the past year how 
little I see that I have accomplished for my 
heavenly master. O God help me to devote the 
present year to thy service more than I have 
the past. Grant that I may be instrumental 
through thy son, Jesus Christ in leading some
of my comrades to thee. And now as I have 
solemnly held up my right hand to serve my 
country for three more years honorably discharged. 
To thee O God help that I may also serve thee 
better than I have during the three past years. 
Help me to forget the past & look forward to 
the future. Help me to begin with the new 
year to consecrate my life more & more to thy 
service. Thanking thee for the innumerable & 
untold great & most bountiful miracles bestowed 
upon me through the past year. Help me to ever 
be ready to uphold thy cause & speak in
defense of thy cause wherever & under whatever 
circumstances I may be placed and to 
discountenance sin & vice of every form & 
encourage virtue & religion. This is what I 
earnestly desire & pray O God & wilt thou 
grant it for thy Sons sake. Amen

Maintained by Sue Greenhagen. E-mail: