Voice from the Past: "A Dull Day"

Posted: 1/3/2012
Author: Laura June Davis
A Bivouac Fire on the Potomac by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!

Today's Voice from the Past comes from Alexander G. Downing. His 1862 New Years' celebration was a far cry from the revelry enjoyed by most modern day celebrants.


The new year is ushered in with a light fall of snow and very cold weather. There is just snow enough to prevent drills or any sports the boys may have been anticipating. Altogether the day will be a dull one. The sutler, anticipating our removal, has not much to sell or steal. The sutler is regarded as the common enemy of the soldier, and when forced contributions are levied on him it is considered entirely legitimate and rather a good joke. The boys will have to content themselves with card playing and writing letters home. We have just got a new stove running in my tent, and Long Tom is detailed today to supply it with wood. I think we shall make a comfortable day of it, if Tom does his duty. Things certainly begin to look like leaving; the harbor is full of vessels, transports, gunboats and supply ships. Appearances indicate that somebody will hear it thunder somewhere along the southern coast before very long.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, "Diary of Alexander G. Downing, January, 1862," in Downing's Civil War Diary edited by Olynthus B. Clark (Des Moines: Iowa State Department of History and Archives, 1916).

Image Credit: Harper's Weekly, December 21, 1861.
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