June 7, 2013 by rochesterhistoricalnh
Diary of C.W. Edgerly of Rochester, NH
Typed from a hand written copy of pages from Captain Charles W. Edgerly’s diary in possession of Claude Edgerly at the time it was copied
On this the 30th day of July 1862, I have received an appointment as a recruiting officer for the State of N.H. After having fully considered the distracted state of our country and the recent disasters to our armies, I believe it to be the duty of every man who loves his country, to do all that lies in his power to assist the Government in this Great Crisis. Our brave Army have been repulsed from before Richmond and obliged to yield the ground to superior numbers, and are finally ordered to evacuate the peninsula. The President has issued his Proclamation and called for three hundred thousand men: to reinforce our armies in the field and why should not I make an attempt to raise a small portion of the large number called for. The war spirit is on the rise throughout the length and breadth of the loyal states. Political strife is no more, and now all agree to rally round the flag of our country, and to defend it from our enemies abroad and traitors at home, as did our illustrious forefathers in the days of the Revolution. In this Strafford County, War Meetings are being held, stirring and patriotic speeches are made and appeal to the people to rise and strengthen our armies and crush out this wicked and giant Rebellion. In our town the war fever is on the upward grade. The old town hall has been shaken to its very foundation by the feet of our citizens and soldiers in response to stirring and patriotic speeches. From this time I shall go to work, soul and body to raise the numbers required for our quota, and to avoid the draft. But I have difficulties to contend with and sacrifices to make. My wife will not think of my going to leave her and the children only think, says she, what would become of me and these five children if you should happen to get killed and, with tears in her eyes remonstrating with me against the steps I am taking. It has set me to thinking and how I shall overcome her objections to my going is more than I can tell at present. But I have said that I would go and given my word upon honor, and I need to go or be false to my word.
I have commenced to recruit, having opened an office over the Democratic Union Store. Edward Hourey is my first recruit. But as my business will call me away from the office to all parts of the town and will occupy my time both early and late, I cannot keep my daily diary. Today I have been in the village all day and am told by several of my acquaintance that if I do, they will go with me and wish to know what my intentions, to recruit men and then ask for a First Lieutenant’s commission which I have no doubt I will get. Upon my return home it being rather late, I found my wife in great trouble of mind in regard to the course I have taken, and desires me to give it up, and let someone go without a family. But my mind is fixed and unalterable and in this state I close my diary for this day.
Saturday, August 8th
I take up my pen to write the events of the past few days. My time has been occupied from am till late at night upon each and every day and so far I have recruited forty men. My wife thinks that I am a little insane upon the recruiting question and as I have lost my appetite for food, I don’t know but such is the case. I have just returned from the post office and find that I have received orders from the Adjutant General of the state to take my recruits to the Rendevous at Concord on Monday next. This is very unfortunate for us all and particularly for me and the town of Rochester, for I am getting recruits every day, and have engaged several that have not yet come in. But we must obey orders and leave the recruiting service to other hands. I have nearly exhausted my powers of body and mind in the business, but could I remain here two weeks longer I believe that I could fill one whole company from this town. I return home at 8:00 this evening and find my wife feeling sad and exacting a promise from me to resign and come home next spring if I am alive and the Great Rebellion not brought to a close. I consider there is perfect safety in such a promise for it is generally believed that the addition of three hundred thousand volunteers to the troops now in the field, will speedily bring the war to a close. I hope so and that the Flag will float in triumph over the union of the United States of America.
Today I went to the Methodist Church and listened to a sermon by the Pastor, Rev. James L. Trefen. Among the audience I noticed quite a number of men that I had enlisted for the army and who were to part with relatives and friends tomorrow and perhaps forever. The Pastor felt the solemnity of the scene and so did the audience. The sermon contained many beautiful and pointed allusions to the great drama now being enacted upon the soil of America. But as God was upon the side of the right we would triumph in the end. After meeting I remained at home with my family and was called upon by several of my recruits who were surprised and regretted exceedingly that we were to leave so soon for the army at Concord and wished if we would have an opportunity of coming home again before leaving the state for the war. Of course I could not tell for certain, but had no doubt that we would be allowed a short furlough, at any rate, I would do the best I could to make such an arrangement as nearly all were desirous of returning home before the Regiment left the state.
Monday Aug. 10th
The weather hot and sultry. Breakfast over. I was called upon by several young men to recruit and as my time was limited I had to rush business to get through in season. My private business to settle up and family necessities to provide for and all came upon me at once in addition to all the day being quite warm and my recruits coming into the village and indulging pretty freely with mint juleps and lemonade with too much stick in it. I was a little afraid that some of them would be left behind. As the day wore away we were admonished that we would not have much time to spare when I received an invitation from the Pastor of the Methodist Church to march them to the old town hall and spend the last half hour there. We were soon assembled in the old hall together with a large number of friends and relatives to the soldiers. The meeting was called to order and a beautiful address to the soldiers made by Rev. Trefen, and the meeting closed with a Prayer by the same. His remarks had so much operated upon the patriotism of one of the recruits that he immediately mounted the rostrum and with his hat in hand informed the audience that he was going where the cannon balls would flash and how much more he would have said I don’t know but as I heard engine whistle orders were given to fall in and in two minutes we were at the depot and a large crowd of citizens to see the boys off. There was some shaking of the hands and a few tears shed and all were safely on board the train for Concord. The bell rings and amid cheers of friends on the platform and responded to by the soldiers, the train moves slowly away. We stop a minute at Gonic station and in a very short time we are in Dover where we await the arrival of the train in the Boston and Maine Railroad. We stop here half an hour. The train arrives we soon get on board and are whirling over the Boston and Maine, we make stops at Madbury, Durham, Newmarket and arrive at Newmarket Junction where we change cars and go to Concord via the Portsmouth and Concord Road. The cars are waiting for us…