Civil War Journal of Laurence Bradford (1863-1864)

Laurence Bradford (1842-1909) was the son of Rev. Claudius Bradford and Maria Weston Bradford.  He was born in Hubbarston, MA while his father was a minister at the Unitarian Church in that town. When the Civil War broke out, 19 year-old Laurence chose to go to sea as a mariner rather then join the Union Army. . By 1863, however, he joined the US Navy.  After the war Laurence Bradford became a civil engineer, eventually settling in Duxbury, MA, the hometown of his mother.

Journal !! Laurence Bradford 1863 – 1864

Journal of Laurence Bradford  U. S. Navy

Boston March 1863

Having arrived more the latter part of this month from Honolulu Sandwich Isles.  I stopped at Boston and Duxbury for a month, all the time at work to procure an appointment in the U. S. Navy, which appointment I rec’d on the 2nd of May.  All my journal was lost containing descriptions of this time.  By losing my observant  book  together with $10.00 on the night of July 18th.

All my diary since entering the navy was in this book.  So I shall have to let the past remain in forgetfulness and commence with

July 20th, [illegible]

Monday – Sailed for and arrived at Hampton Roads in the afternoon.

Hampton roads July 23rd.

Wednesday – Sailed for Norfolk where we arrived the latter part of the afternoon

July 26th

Saturday – this is the fourth time I have visited t his yard.

This was once the finest Navy yard in the country but now presents nothing but desolation, showing how many years of labor can be destroyed in one night.   The Old Half of the Frigate United States of 1812 renown is here.  Her hull is enxxx but worthless.  Yet  she was useless before the fire.   The remains of the ship of the Line “Pensylvania” (sic) lay here.  She was burned to the water’s edge.

Norfolk, July 27th 1863

Sunday – Went on a walk about the town.  Visited the cemetery where many Navy hero’s (sic) are buried.  Two particular arrested my attention.  One to a Lieutenant reared by his crew – Where could a better testimony to his worth be found than a handsome Monument raised by his Sailors who would pass by any qualities but the most exalted, un-noticed.  The other was to a gunner in the Service.  The monument was a high shaft – enwrapped by the American Flag.  On the base below was inscribed the virtues of the deceased.

Norfolk August 4th

Tuesday – The Capt and 2 Ensigns exchanged positions with the USS Our Barney.  Capt & 2 officers – Our new Captain was Capt.

Norfolk August 5th, 1863

Set sail – anchored in Hampton Roads.

August 6th

Saturday – Arrived at Beaufort this morning.

August 9th

Sunday – Coaled Ship

August 10th

Monday – morning sailed for the Wilmington Blockade – Came xxx off New Topsail Inlet – Lent 3 boats on shore to reconswitxxx  a schooner loading and was attacked by some artillery.  The ship returned the fire after the boats had arrived – both sides full shxxt.

Wilmington Blockade Aug. 11th

Tuesday – Oxxxsed all night in danger of being fired into by the enemy and our own vessels, owing to the blundering of our men in obeying orders —-

This day pursued some vessels and boarded them, but found nothing wrong –

Several men were confined within the passed (sic) few days to await a Court Martial.  It seems as if a change for the better is going to take place aboard this vessel.

August 16th

Sunday – Saw a steamer by Hart Fisher having run the Blockade this morning.  Most of the vessels were off on one wild goose chase, one of them was after us thinking we were a prize.  The Minnesota was on hand but for some blunder could not get under weigh (sic) in season.

Yesterday a Summary Court Martial was held on board, punishing most of the offenders.

Wilmington Blockade Aug. 17th

Monday – Saw a Privateer run by the guns of the Fort.  We steamed after her and opened fire but our balls fell a very little short.  The Fort returned the fire with longer range.  That created an opinion t’was best to drop off a little.

August 18th

Tuesday – At 6 o clock all hands were suddenly called to quarters.  A fine steamer was seen on the beach under attack of our gun boat “Nippen” who proved to be making efforts to tow her off.  Her crew run her on as hard as possible and then abandoned her.  We came up to participate in the capture.  The Nippon had now 2 boats afloat making efforts to get a line to the stranded prize.  We immediately put out a boat, but all our endeavours (sic) proved ineffectual.  Our boat returned but were willing to try again if the captain thought advisable.  The Capt saw like everybody the state of the circumstances and would not allow another boat to be lowered.  The Nippon had in the mean while sent out her only available boat to make one more trial to save her men, quite a number being aboard the prize; having been able to do so where the surf ran less forcefully, the boat was swamped before our eyes and some of the men we saw the enemy take as they came up on the beach.  Those left on the steamer were probably captured or drowned.  The Sea was now running very high and the wind had risen to a gale which was somewhat to our advantage hereby shortening the range of the sharp shooters with a field piece that they had brought up from the Fort.

Nothing now was to be done but to destroy what could not be taken.  Let suffice it to say, we left not ‘till she was in flames.  We steamed from her about noon and anchored off the Flag Ship Minnetata both anchored down and most all our chain.  Yet the steamer rode out the gale finally ‘till the next morning when it abated, that morning dawned on many relieved, and some who a few hours before had given up all hopes.  But all were surprised at the hardihood of the vessel.

August 20th, 1863

Thursday – Sailed for and arrived at Beaufort, N.C. – hauled alongside of a Brig taking from her 10 tons of coal.  Went on shore but finding nothing but sand, soon returned.

Beaufort, N. C. Aug. 22nd.

Saturday – in the forenoon sailed for the Blockade.  In the afternoon anchored off the beach a short distance above Topsail Inlet – We sent from here an expedition consisting of some 20 men with two boats, the party carried the smallest boat (Disigay ?) over this neck of land, which forms much of the coast of the Carolinas, to the Sound beyond; there they manned the boat with some 6 men exclusive of an officer who crossed this water, which they found & attacked some salt works together with a Schooner.  Which they took and destroyed.  They took also many prisoners but were unable to take but 8 on board ship.  This station was unarmed with small pieces but had a Howitzer which they did not attempt to use being taken so much by surprise.  All the participants were promoted.  The men who were left on the peninsula till the attacking party returned.

Wilmington Blockade   Aug. 23

Sunday – Set sail for the Blockade and arriving in a few hours, to see the Fleet attacking a battery on shore planted by the steamer we destroyed some days since.  We immediately xxx our guns steamed up arear, and afired on the battery.  A short time served to silence the guns, When we lowered a boat, and was the first one to reach the beach, the rebels had left everything and taking themselves to safer quarters.  The rebels had been for some days busy saving what was left of the steamer we destroyed; which was but an attaxx; this booty was spread all over the beach consisting mostly of cloth and blankets.  Much was saved and brought on board, turning out to every man a portion.  My share was one pair of blankets, & yards of cloth.  The gun was transfired on board, one was a fifle Whitsworth, breach loading, xxx buy from England.

Wilmington Blockade  Aug. 26

Wednesday – Towards midnight approaching near Fort Fisher for the purpose of having better opportunity to see any vessels that might attempt to run in or out; and wishing to keep in one place.  Without noise, we anchored with a hedge-howser attached.  The moon suddenly emerged whoed our position to the enemy – No time was to be lost – away went howser & away went us.

August 27th

Thursday –  The wind was now blowing fresh; therefore it became necessary to seek a more sheltered place.  We steamed for the southeast of Frying Pan Shouls (sic) where the southern Blockade lay; before reaching the Wind increased to a storm greatly enhancing the danger of our situation, exposed in so un -seaworthy a vessel.  Our engine held out well – the main stay, allowing us in a few hours to lay snugly on the lee of the shoals.  Which an hour since few expected.  The wind had now subsided and the setting sun shining on the subsiding waves, Rebel Fortress & beach; all clothed in surprising beauty, dispelled the dangers of the morning from our minds, replacing in mine by the pleasantness of the New –  these words.

And when the dangers over

And safe we get on shore

The horrors of the tempest

We think of them no more.

August 28th

Friday – In the gale of yesterday we were much racked and strained and made water fast.  Steamed for the Flag Ship and at 10:30 PM sailed for Beaufort N.C.  – Saturday arrived and Sunday saled for the North, but finding the weather rough thought it discreet to turn back.

Beaufort N.C.  Aug 31 – 63

Monday – Yesterday spent on shore.  Went to the headquarters of the General to deliver the prisoners we had taken.  He presented his hospitality in the shape of some fine sherry.  Applyed (sic) to the Department a second time for a detachment from this steamer.  The first report being dated July 19th.  My reasons this time were some what different from my former ones, though I have always wished I might leave this vessel.  Wind blowing from the N. E. not hardly favorable to round Cape Hatterass (sic) with.

September 1st 1863

Tuesday – Sailed from Beaufort though the weather still looked unfavorable, and after clearing the land it was found to be still blowing.  Saw a vessel high and dry on the beach a few miles up the coast, which we by lowering a boat found to be the Brig Trade Wind bound from Batonmoru to New York loaded with cotton and turpentine, her crew were all and were trying to save some of the cargo.

September 2nd 1863

Wednesday – Last night having under to the sea of Cape Hatterass (sic) toe light bearing E by N1/2 N.  The wind still blowing quite strong from the NE – The Fleet in Hatterass Inlet plain in sight – We this morning sailed, the weather misty & cloudy but no wind.

September 3rd

Thursday – Arrived at fortress Xxxx & sailed for Newport News; the head of Hampton Roads.

September 4th 1863

Friday – Went on board of the Iron Clad Frigate Roanoke the first vessel in the Navy and truly a wonder, certainly, a startling proof of the inventive science of Americans.

Hampton roads

Newport News Sep 4th 1863

Our old Capt has again taken command, Capt Cushing having left yesterday.

September 9th 1863

Wednesday – Still waiting Orders

September 12th

Saturday – Went to Old Point and rec’d my package.

September 17th, 1863

Thursday – This day I arrive at my 21st year, and am of age, yet looking in imagination past 4 years of my life.  I cannot consider the personal freedom attached there to, circumscribed in the least; but this is a time to begin with, heart & hand, a new life, brought with the best resolutions, and under the auspices of a determined will.  Yet believing as I do in the nature of a person, broken only by horrible fears, brought on perhaps by superstition, directly or indirectly; I cannot believe that slight, or as it seems at the time important, actions or circumstances, pass further than the head.  Therefore I do not think that henceforward I shall be a better or wiser man than I am now, only by imperceptible degrees, and perhaps not by them.  Yet I do believe, that by endeavouring (sic) to highten (sic) the means I have examined I may still grow, better, higher, and wise, ‘till my career is completed, my work is ended.  Staying here at Hampton Roads, with nothing to employ my mind and place in a position anything but agreeable, it is with no elevated hopes, I look to the future under the auspices of the past, fancifully considered separated from the future years – henceforward to be those as mastered.

Hampton Roads   Sep 22nd 1863

Wednesday – Sailed for Norfolk for the purpose of getting some wood.  Took in 12 cords there and sailed for Old Point where ‘twas divided between the Frigate St Lawrence & BrandyWine.  Then took our old station off Newport News.

Today also happened a circumstance in my life, the decision of which I was called upon to give, would have affected the whole course of my life – The honor of my friends being the only thing that deterred me from being subject to a Court Martial.  Which would certainly have resulted in my dischare from the Navy. “ It is the fault of great one pergatoried in the bone.”  To such sometimes to bear for a reason that which your supervisors put upon you.  The only way is to demand from those whom you receive an injury satisfaction at the time.

Hampton Road – Sep 24 – 63

Thursday – spent the day in escorting Capt Harris & Lady to Norfolk and back to Fortress Monroe.

September 25

Friday – Was brought before the Captain to investigate the trouble of the 23rd inst after much talk the 1st Lieutenant confessed his fault but knowing all persisted in having my detachment.

September 27th

Friday – Went on shore in Newport News.  Talked with a young secest Lady who had but every thing by the war, and who was unsharing (?) in her denunciations of the Yankees, though not in a violent manner, hers was a deep hatred not expressly by her actions.  When we have lost everything we may then feel the bitterness of broken hopes and that revengeful hatred that now actuates many of the Southern people.

Hampton roads September 29

Tuesday – Went to Norfolk to have a survey held on the vessel to ascertain her damages.  Left for Hampton roads on the morrow.


October 6th 1863

Tuesday – Left for Norfolk to discharge our battery, previously to sailing for Baltimore.  Left for our old Station off New port News.

Oct 7th – 1863

Wednesday – Sail for Baltimore by way of Old Point.  Where we sent our ammunition aborad the Frigate St  Lawrence.

Oct. 8th

Thursday – Arrived at Baltimore.

October 9th

Friday – Went on shore to the office of the Sanitary Commission where I heard from Mr. Krupp. Was treated very politely by the Agent – Returned here. Visited the Washington Monument erected to the memory of George Washington by the State of Maryland. From here had a fine view of the city.

October 16th

Friday – Am now having a fine time by visiting acquaintances formed here.  Yet expenses are up greatly and I have grown more extravagant than was my wont but what matter it – we live but for a season “and let that season by always spring.”

Oct 19

Monday – Went to the Holliday St Theatre to see the celebrated Miss Charlotte Cushman in the character of Lady Macbeth – performed for the benefit of the U S Sanitary Commission.

Baltimore Oct 22ne

Thursday – Went to Washington D.C. to see my friends and also the sights generally,

October 26th 1863

Monday – Returned to Baltimore having seen my friends together with the principle buildings.

October 28th

Wednesday – Reported to Xxxxxxxxx Downing, my weeks leave having expired – Sent home my allotment of half pay.

Baltimore Oct 28th

Thursday – Went to the Germans Opera performing at Front St Theatre.  Escorted the daughter of Mr. Pincourt San Xxxx.  The music & acting was excellent.  Though the singing we could not understand.

Ovemeber 34d

Thursday – First saw our new Commander – Made another ineffectual effort to be detached.

November 7th 1863

Saturday – Was ordered by the Commander stationed here to take & deliver 3 men at Fort Monroe.  2 at which were to be taken to Norfolk.  This I did and arrived here as xxxxx.

Baltimore Nov. 10

Tuesday – Went again to Norfolk with a deserter arrived from Thursday.

November 14th 1863

Saturday – My brother Gershom came from Washington to see me.

November 16th 1863

Monday – Yesterday was spent in bringing to remembrance old times, which myself and brother had once participated in.  On this evening my brother left for Washington & I went to the Theatre & again the attrition of the day was for a time lightened in heart, having to partly dispel the sorrow of our separation.

November 19th 1863

Thursday – Went to Washington to see my brother.

Washington Nov 20th 1863

Friday – Went to the Washington Navy Yard and visited the Iron Clad Monster “Sugarman” the same vessel that the “Shockoken” towed down the Pam River some months since.  Presented myself to the Asst Secretary of the Navy on business.

Nov 21st 1863

Saturday – Returned to Baltimore by the 11 o’clock train, the trip costing me $4.25 extra from what I should have expended if I had staied (sic) at home.

Baltimore November 25th 1863

Wednesday – Gershom came from Washington & took the boat for Fortress Monroe in the evening.

Baltimore Nov 26th 1863

Thursday – Thanksgiving Day.  For the morning went to church at “Grove Church” (Episcopalian).  After eating dinner with Mr. Krupp & Dr. Jenkins (Secretary Sanitary Comm.)  Took a short ride out of town where at a Gentleman’s house we met Lucia – spent the evening there.

November 19th 1863

Sunday – In the morning visited church at which place I was much interested by the reading of the Episcopalian ritual.  At night attended a Baptist service where my heart was less moved, than my ear was pleased by some good xxx music.

Baltimore Dec 4th 1863

Friday – Rec’d from Mr Pancourt an invitation to a series of assemblies to be given to officers of the Army on this station.  Beginning with this night for the first time for a great while I attempted to dance – succeeding about as well as a Horse Marine would under similar circumstances.

December 7th 1863

Monday – Went to the “Maryland Institute” to hear the notorious P. T. Barnum lecture on the “Art of Money Making” – Was fully repaid for paying 25 cents to hear this man relate his history, which was told in such a way as only Barnum can use.

Baltimore Dec. 8th 1863

Tuesday – Went to the Holiday St Theatre to see Mr. Hackett delineate in King Henry IV – This actor perhaps was not perfect, and no doubt there are many who would rival him, yet I never expect to see John Falstaff again so real, as I saw him this evening.

Dec 11th

Friday – Went to the Union Assembly by invitation from Mr. Ferncourt.  Did not stay only ‘till 10 o’clock not knowing but a few persons & not having my Lady with me.  I have now been on those long enough & after a certain period of falseness, I acquire a certain habit in which the days pass by seemingly without any return, accomplishing nothing.   To be but a short time in any one place makes the time seem much longer, though it may not be more improving to the person being in the way.  In two months now I have been in Baltimore waiting for the Shoemaker to be fit for duty.

Baltimore Dec 16th 1863

Wednesday – Nothing has transpired to change the same monotonous daily current of events that has marked my life for the last months.  It is to be regretted that my circumstance coincided with our arrival in this city and which led me to think of a heady departure.  When I expected something xxxx  success – Would be so soon and suddenly destroyed.  Sooner we shall sail; but whether hopes now (perhaps without encouragement) indulged in, shall be realized, remains to be seen.

December 21st, 1863

Monday – Was procrastinator – this was one of the principle circumstances of the day.  Drew some money – another scarcely less important incident in this my monotonous life – but of such more consequence when in a large city.  Feeling that funds are uncommonly short – went to the theatre; another discussion when not too often indulged in.  And this evening more especially so having been somewhat “out” in making arrangements for other amusements.  We must live & learn, always making due allowance for disappointments.  Yes there is a satisfaction in feeling equal to the task of retaliating judiciously, but severely, and never feeling that you are hopelessly floored, but this is a talent which all have not got.  Yet all can like myself, try and improve what little they have.  I will now return at the Play of the “Forty Thieves,” which I saw at the Holiday St. Theatre. It is one of the Arabian Nights tales which are linked in my memory with former times and was at that time, of peculiarly interesting to me.  I can say the different parts were well personated and that the spectacles were good.  So ends the 21st of December, of more interest it has been than many days I have passed here, yet more the less – Empty.

Baltimore Dec 25th 1863

Friday – Christmas! Of  time honored – the only day that maintains its supremacy – all other memorable days die out in time but this day still lives as it should commemorating the greatest event that has happened to the World.  The Birth days of Warriors, statesmen, and xxxxx, live for a season in the mings of the people, but they must give place to others of later date who claim the world’s gratittitude (sic) or admiration.  In the forenoon I went to a catholic church where the sermon was rendered in off the xxxx of popisism (sic).  In the afternoon I took a walk and in the evening a ride – thus passed this day called the “happiest of the year.”  I wish for a change; two months in one place is anything but desirable and I hail with pleasure the sailing day of the “Shockoken”  Written on board ship this Saturday morning in the cold and disassuaged.

Baltimore Jan 1st 1864

Friday – New Years Day – was invited out, where I partook of wine & refreshments.  Also had one fine wine of my own which I drank to the prosperity of my distant friends – who were near in imagination.

Jan 3rd 1864

Sunday – Went to Washington by request of Mr. Knapp to escort Mrs. F. L. Olmstead to Baltimore.  Saw Aunt Charlotte but Mrs. O. was unable to come.

Jan 5th

Tuesday – All Mrs. Knapp household started for Washington on a visit, leaving me alone to keep house.

Jan 10th

Sunday – Passed a very pleasant day.  Had a pleasant call from Mr. Thompson who spent 3 hours talking of the general prospects of Maryland &c all of which we pledged most liberally with some old madeira.

Baltimore Jan 13th 1864

Wednesday – Went to a party held at Mr. Tancourt’s.  had such a time as I have not had for 5 years.

January 15th 1864

Friday – Sailed from Baltimore; glad of course; yet somewhat regretting I had not a day or two longer, as I might have made some pleasant engagements during that time.

Jan 16th

Saturday – Arrived at Hampton Roads and anchored off the Flag Ship “Roanoke” about 9 A.M.  In an hour or so sailed for Norfolk.

Jan 17th

Sunday – Was officially invited to attend the funeral of an English Lieutenant held at the Portsmouth Hospital.  The Episcopal.

Norfolk Jan 17th 1864

Sunday – Burial service was read in the presence of quite a concourse of English French & American Naval officers.  After this morning ws over, the coffin was placed on the shoulders of 6 sailors covered by the English ensign & surmounted by the deceased’s cup and sword.  The coffin was followed by a company of Marines, after which came the English officers and Chaplain, followed in the rear by the French & American Officers.  After a short march we came to the gate of the cemetery in the midst of a beautiful grave, where the marines halted and formed on each side of the entrance, their rams reversed leaning on them.  We marched through and passed a half square around the grave.  The marines closed and marched around to the other side, halted a few feet to the front of the grave.  The pall bearers advanced.  The priest standing at the head of the grave commenced to read the ritual.  All the procession then surrounded the grave; the service was finished, the coffin lowered in to the grave and three volleys marked the close of the sailor’s career.

Norfolk January 18th 1864

Monday – spent the afternoon at Norfolk with Mr. Gaul, Sar ‘com (?) Agent, where I was treated handsomely.

January 19th 1864

Tuesday – went to Norfolk and saw Lieu. Hayward who presented me to General Wild who rec’d me very courteously.  Told Mr.Hayward to take me up to his (the Gen’s) house.  Took a 12 o’clock lunch with Lieu H.  impressed by some fine Scotch ale.  In the afternoon we took a horseback ride into the country.  I was kindly invited to take dinner with the General, but was obliged to refuse, as I had not the cause to sign and could not get into the Navy yard after 8 o’clock.

January 21st

Thursday – Took dinner with Brig. Gen. Wild at Norfolk and went to the theatre with his brother Capt. Wild, who treated very politely; not allowing me to pay for my own ticket.

Newport News January 25th 1864

Monday – Left Norfolk and anchored off the Flag Ship, Hampton Roads, in the afternoon.  My stay in Norfolk for this once was passing agreeable.

Hampton Roads off Newport News.  January 28th 1864

Signed a receipt acknowledging the $100 which my father had left me in his will.

Feb 1st 1864

Monday – some of our soldiers being rather closely pressed at a small village about 15 miles up the James River and it was thought that some 60 seamen who were sent on an expedition a few days ago might be thereabouts.  There was on the morning of this day an expedition fitted out, to afford help to these absent men, consisting of the Shockoken”.  The Smith Briggs, on army gunboat, and two Frigate Lucurecks comprising xxx 50 men.  Arriving at the mouth of the Smithfield Inlet which was the course we were to pursue, the water was found too shallow to admit us to go further, therefore we anchored and the Briggs and launches proceeded.  This was about 10 o’clock.  At 12 they had been some time out of sight, the windings of the stream appearing to land lock parts seen in the distance.  Now we heard the booming of guns alternated with the crack of small arms, which was kept up for xxx hr passed when the launches returned, bringing 4 o their number wounded, including the commander of the party.  We took the men on board and inquired concerning the Briggs.  She was last seen off the village dock with her guns bearing on the retreating boats.  It was supposed that in trying to keep along side the wharf for to rescue our soldiers, who were seen fighting desparately, the Rebels had boarded and captured her.  From this vessel (“Stockoken”) we now saw some smoke rising above the trees from the scene of the late encounter.  Hearing at intervals explosions supposed to be the guns & shells of the Briggs, fired by the heat, 20 minutes of 4 by the clock, a column of fire shot up far above the trees, crowned by volumes of black smoke and followed by an explosion like an earthquake and we had but few doubts of the fate of the Smith Briggs.  We proceeded to Norfolk this morning to place our wounded in the Hospital & anchored for the night off Hospital light, in the stream.

January 6th 1964 (** February)

Saturday – Noting of my note has transpired since the expedition up the James River to Smithfield.  Everything is monotonous to an extent – bearable only because there is no remedy.

February 13th 1864

Saturday – Went to Norfolk with some sick men, and after took in some stores there from the Store Ship “Brandywine”.  Came back to our old station in the afternoon.

Here there is one advantage “as in things evil there is some good”, oysters being plenty, which lightens our mess bill a day or two ago.  I tonged some 25 bushels.

Hampton Roads February 16th 1864

Tuesday – Sailed up the James River as far as the mouth of the Chicahominy in company with the gunboat Com Morriss – Saw nothing to create suspicion, and so moved back to our old station in the afternoon.

February 18th 1864

Thursday – We are cruising up this river for what object I know not.  Sailed this morning passed Jamestown Island and saw the lite of the old town by that name where the first settlers of America landed.  There was at this place, still to be seen, the ruins of an old church said to be of very ancient origin.  In front of this church was a deserted earth war xx with embxxxxx  entxxx, and must have been quite formidable when armed and manned, as it has been since the war commenced.

Sailed back to our old station in the Roads this afternoon.

Hampton Roads March 1st 1864

March 19th

Saturday – The days pass away but bring no change.  Still I am in the same condition!  Yesterday the news came that the French had blockaded the Matxxxxnosa River, which might xxx  be regarded as a hostile action.  Yesterday also brought the proclamation of the President calling for 200,000 more men extra from the 500,000 to be raised, this & next month.  Upon the failure of the people to raise these men before the 15th day of April, a draft will be instituted at that time.  The general appearance of affairs in our own and in foreign countries seem to indicate War.  With regard to “America” confused with many different republics it sees as if she was destined to be the garden of liberty.  But Europe is divided among itself.  There(sic)  Diplomacy they manage with the utmost caution, saying what they do not mean, or meaning what they are desirous to conceal, decency and deceit are powerful sciences in diplomatic correspondence.

(James River March 19th 1964, continued)

The United States may yet have to fight France or England.  The signs of the times indicate a distrust between the three countries, probably from the reason of there (sic) power – a mutual fear of each other.  We have now maintained for three years an army and navy comprised of over half a million of men, Our 600 vessels applied to the purpose of war, but this outlay has not been made without increasing enormously our public debt.  Since the war, there has been a daily expendure (sic) of some three or four millions.  This looks as if there must some time come a collapse.  It does not seem possible that we can bear the burden of such a debt, but perhaps like England it may prove to be a blessing.  But surposing (sic) the country has to fight one or more wars with come European government with in the next two years, then there must be some sacrifice of property for that contingency no doubt the people will support the nation with both their money and their blood.  It is very likely I think.  We may become divided East & West, in time, by mutual consent – or because the people of the pacific coast may deem their interests require them to separate from the National Government in which case, it would be useless to try and retain them with the National resources so far removed from the scene of action.

*** 11 pages cut out – signs of writing apparent)

James River April 26th 1864

(continued)  was deserted at the boat until she reached the vessel, both were hit numerous times by the bullets but no one hurt.

April 27th

Wednesday – The other French vessels came down and got ashore off the light house, but were not injured.

James River April 30th 1864

Saturday – Went down off Newport News to coal ship.  All the Iron Clads and vessels about here are coaling – there is some excitement to be expected up the river.  Troops no doubt to be landed somewhere to make an attack on the rebels.

James River May 1st 1864

Sunday – Went down off Fort Monroe to the Flag ship – Rec’d a letter George W.  Brewer.

May 2nd

Monday – A year ago I was examined and passed for an appointment in the Navy.

James River may 3rd 1864

Tuesday – Two more “Ironclads”  have arrived in the “Roads.”  They are preparing doubtless for the expedition up this river.

U.S.S. “Shockoken”

May 5th

Thursday – At 1 o’clock this morning the expedition started up this river; consisting of vessels “Malvern” (Flagship), “Com Morris”, “Osceola”, “Shockoken,” “Stepping Stones” and one or two toehrs, whose names I do not know.  Arrived off Harrisons Landing about 1 oclock P.M,  further than this boat ever was before.  The banks look very green with the spring grass first appearing, and the trees all look finely.  Many splendid Mansions are seen, with large green lawns, fertilized by the shade trees, in front of them, facing on the river, long wharfs run out by which communication was kept up with above and below on the river.  I can imagine in halcyon days of your, when the planters on these plantations lived a life of plenty and happiness, when handsome steamers plied daily to Richmond, with news and people from any where in the civilized world, and sailing vessels brought them rich freight from the Mediterrranean and the East Indies, to exchange with the Virginian for his far famed tobacka (sic).  I can see the planter in front of his house watching a steamer coming up the river, his family are sitting on the piazza looking, as sharply as himself, his slaves are about, displaying t heir usual exhilarated feelings.  The steamer approaches slows down, and comes alongside the wharf, a passenger or so lands, the steamer casts off and steams away; the planter welcomes his guests with the Southern hospitality; though perhaps they may be of his own family; a daughter returning from some Northern school or visit, or a son from some Academy; perhaps from some of the military ones that were formerly so plentifully scattered throughout this state, and which made her so well prepared, when the storm of the war passed on her borders.  Virginia will never again see her former life; that is forever gone though her fields may yet teem with plenty and their cities with her people; there hospitality, their princely mode of life will not in the future be her private master. She threw down the gage of battle and must abide by the result.

We arrived off City Point towards 4 o’clock and were stationed for the night of the north of the Appomattox River.

City Point may 6th 1864

One thought on “Civil War Journal of Laurence Bradford (1863-1864)

  1. Pingback: Found a Mayflower “Cousin” in My Own Back Yard! | digging genealogy

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