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


March, 1864



Mar 1. Stayed in camp all day, wrote letters. 
Cold rainy weather. Sorrowful thoughts of the 
boys that are out on reconnissance. But thus 
it is with the soldier. All kinds of storms 
but we do not propose to find fault. Only hope
this was may sooner terminate in the 
restoration of our union & we once more
become a united people.

Mar 2. Stayed in camp all day, wrote letters, 
read. The regt returned to camp from their 
reconnissance. No news of importance. A very 
pleasant day. The boys all in good spirits.

Mar 3. Stayed in camp all day, wrote letter 
to Sister Hannah. A very pleasant day. 
Absence. O, absence by thy stern decree, 
how many at heart lights ___ once is 
filled with doubts & fears. Thy days like 
___ do seem weeks. Thy weeks slow, months 
we deem moveing, Thy months long ___ ___.

Mar 4. Moved our camp to that of the 20th 
Indiana Regt. Have good quarters. 7 PM 
went to the US Christian Commission, got 
some reading matter. Evening attended 
meeting there, had a good time.

Mar 5. AM stayed in camp, wrote letter to 
my friend Symnes. PM helped to ___ seats 
in the Christian Commission tent for meetings. 
Tis not all of life to live or all of death 
to die.

Mar 6. Attended meeting at 11 AM in sermon 
by our chaplain of a ___. Evening attended 
meeting in the Christian Commission tent.  
[next sentence illegible]

Mar 7. [First entry illegible] Our boys 
came out even. Wrote two letters.

Mar 8. Stayed in camp all day & busied 
myself by reading. Evening was detailed
for picket. 

Mar 9. Went on picket at 7 AM. Arrived 
on the lines at eleven AM about three
miles from camp. This is my first duty 
since my return from home. Seems old
fashioned as though I had been soldier 
before. A very pleasant day.

Mar 10. Still on picket. A wet dismal day. 
Carried rails for fire. Read some in my 
testament & Burryans, Pilgrims, Prayers 
and thus the day passed off. No news
of any kind.

Mar 11. Still on picket and yet raining. 
Received three letters. Who, who would
live always away from his God

Mar 12. Relieved from picket at 11 AM & 
returned to camp. Evening received
letter from Sister Orissa.

Mar 13. AM a grand review & inspection 
of our division. Such are the duties
that the soldier have to perform on the 
Sabbath. Evening attended meeting in
Captain Bakers tent. Had a good meeting.

Mar 14. Stayed in camp. PM had division 
drill. Quite a number of ladies present
to witness the drill. Drilled three hours.

Mar 15. AM went out on company drill. 
PM had brigade drill from two till four.
Pleasant weather & still times not much 
fancy___going on, for war times. Who,
who does not desire peace? We shall have 
peace but it must be on the right
terms. The restoration of the union. 

Mar 16. Had a grand review of our whole 
corps (3) by Maj Gen French Comdg. It
was a grand sight, some five or six females 
passed by with the generals staff &
everything passed off finely. The review 
was on John Miner Botts farm. Returned
to camp at three PM. Evening attended 
our prayre meeting, had a good meeting.

Mar 17. Had company drill in the AM & 
brigade drill in the PM. Engaged in a
ball-play & I had a fine time. And the 
days are swiftly passing.

Mar 18. Company drill in the forenoon & 
battalion drill in the afternoon.

Mar 19. Company drill in the AM. No 
drill in the PM. Evening received a letter
from my old friend ___.

Mar 20. Brigade drill in the AM. PM wrote 
letter, evening attended meeting in
Captain Bakers tent.

Mar 21. AM did some washing for myself. 
PM Batt. drill. knowing anything
without reason is like seeing without eyes.

Mar 22. Company drill in the AM, Brigade 
drill in the PM. The most pleasant
companions in the world are pleasant thoughts.

Mar 23. Arose in the morning and found that 
the snow had fallen through the night about 
one foot deep. Had a fine time snowballing 
through the day. The weather quite warm and 
pleasant and the snow is melting very fast. 
Virtue unites and preserves while vice 
seperates and destroys.

Mar 24. Went on picket. A warm pleasant day. 
The snow going off very fast. PM went to a 
farm house, had quite a respectful visit with 
the Southerners. Engaged a canteen of milk 
for breakfast the next morn for thirty five cents. 
It would have been cheap at half the money. 
Good union people I guess not!

Mar 25. Still on picket. Snowed and rained 
in the evening. Our corps constricted. 
We put into the 2nd Corps.

Mar 26. Still on picket. Beside myself 
in reading a book entitled The Higher
Christian Life is excelent book and 
O that my life might correspond with it.

Mar 27. Bright and fair with all the 
blessings of an infinetly good God resting
upon me. O for a closer walk with thee. 
A heart from sin set free. A light to
shine upon the road that leads me unto thee. 
My God my all and is all.

Mar 28. Company drill in the AM. 
Battalion drill in the PM, wrote two letters.

Mar 29. A grand review anticipated on by 
Gen Grant. Marched almost out on to the 
ground. Commenced raining, order was countermanded 
and we retired to camp. Rained all day & night. 
Evening attended prayre meeting in the company. 
Had a good time. God blessed us with the 
outpouring of his spirit.

Mar 30. Stayed in camp all day. Done nothing; 
Good business if poorly followed. Evening 
attended our general prayre meeting.

Mar 31. Moved our camp about two miles & camped 
near the railroad near Brandy Station. Quite 
an eventerment about putting tents. 


Maintained by Sue Greenhagen. E-mail: greenhsh@morrisville.edu