Colonel Charles S. Wainwright offered a short diary entry for April 17, 1864. As his custom, he began with the weather:
April 17, Sunday. We have had another wet spell since Friday; yesterday it rained steadily. The spring is more backward and colder than it was at this time last year; much as in 1862. I trust we are not going to have a whole summer of rain as we had then….
Those living in Virginia today might relate. Since Monday evening, the weather’s been almost wintery cold, with frost warnings. Though with perhaps less rain. But close enough for Mother Nature’s 150th.
On Friday I got the order assigning the battery of heavy artillery to my command. They have had terribly bad weather to get their camp in order, which has come very hard on them as over half the men are recruits, and the rest have always been accustomed to garrison duty. The Fourth New York Heavy was originally commanded by a brother of General [Abner] Doubleday, who I believe proved to be worthless; then de Russy was colonel and now Tidball; the two last ought to have made a good regiment of it. They look very much like rats drowned out of their holes as I pass the camp….
The “battery” was according to the organizational tables actually a battalion. Specifically 2nd Battalion, 4th New York Heavy Artillery under Major William Arthur. The battalion consisted of Companies D, H, K, and E. In their regimental history, the chapter detailing these assignments in the Army of the Potomac carries the title “Good-bye, Cannon.” As Brigadier-General Henry Hunt had requested earlier in the winter, the 2nd Battalion was assigned to support the field batteries providing details for guard and other duties. They brought no heavy artillery pieces of their own to Wainwright’s brigade.
The battalion reported to Wainwright on April 15, and “The tents were pitched in an orchard near an old house occupied by an elderly lady and her daughter, also by the Brigade Commissary.”
In this picture of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery’s camp at Fort Marcy, Virginia, William Arthur is seated under the tent fly at the right:
William was the brother of President Chester A. Arthur.
(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, page 342; Hyland C. Kirk, Heavy Guns and Light; A History of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery, New York: C.T. Dillingham, 1890, page 145.)