Wainwright’s Diary, February 29, 1864: Back at Headquarters

1864 was a leap year.  And 2014 is not.  So instead of running this post on its sesquicentennial date, we see it at 150 years, minus one day.  On the last day of February 1864, Colonel Charles S. Wainwright returned to his headquarters outside Culpeper:

Culpeper Court House, February 29, Monday.  Got back all right this afternoon.  Never before have my camp quarters appeared so comfortless on my return from a leave. It must be owing to my having been away so long this time, so that I fell into the bad habits of cleanliness and comfort.  I remember the first night I slept in a bed after several months of camp life, I could not sleep, the sheets felt so queer; but this has not been the case since.  I have gone back to the comforts of home on each leave as if I had not been deprived of them for half a year; only it has required a few days for me to get used to the close houses.  Here I find my room dirty from the court martial having sat in it, and the mess absolutely cookless.  The first trouble I shall have rectified tomorrow by a thorough scrubbing; the other I do not know how to mend….

I suspect you readers have experienced the transition from vacation back to work.  Compound that with the Spartan facilities of a military camp.  Then add the non-stop operations of a nature found in a large field army.

On the other side of that, as Wainwright describes, nothing can compare to a soft bed after months of resting on an army cot.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 323.)


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