This diary of John Hammond was provided by Susan Board.  John Hammond, is an ancestor who rose to the rank of Colonel and the command of his regiment and received the brevet of Brigadier General. 

Smithburg, Md.
July 5, 1863

My Dear wife,

I improve a moment to write to you I am very well, but very tired after four day's bloody fighting at Gettysburg.  The rebels are severely whipped and commenced retreating on the night of the 3rd.  We fought them on their right flank; and on the 2nd, by making a night march, we passed clear around their left flank and fought a large division of them.  The vigorous attack of our cavalry had great effect in winning the day.  Our division lost about two

hundred men.  Brig. Gen. Farnsworth was killed or missing.  Last night we captured a part of their wagon train, which was in full retreat for Virginia.  The rebels held the gap in the South Mountain, but we flogged them out of it, and captured a train about four miles long, And one thousand seven hundred prisoners.

 

July 8, 1863

We had a terrible fight yesterday with our division against one brigade of infantry and one of rebel cavalry.  This morning I find I have but about one hundred and sixty men left.  Captains Penfield and Lucas, Lieuts. Dimmick, Bryant and Merriman are missing.  I think James is a prisoner or killed, as he had his horse shot out from under him.  Lieut. Dimmick, when last seen, was wounded in the arm.  Kilpatrick's division must have lost three hundred or

four hundred men.  Buford's division, which was fighting at Williamsport, lost eight officers and three hundred men.  We have now had a fight every day for the last six.

 

Boonesboro, July 9, 1863

Our cavalry had another battle yesterday between the town and Hagerstown, which commenced at nine A.M., and continued until dark.  We were attacked by nine thousand rebel cavalry. They drove us about half a mile and fate of the day was quite uncertain until about five P.M. when we charged them the whole length of our line and drove them until after dark.  Our line of battle was about two miles long.  Our loss is light, while theirs is considerable.  A portion of the Eleventh Corps arrived here about dark, and others are pouring through the gaps  in the South Mountain.  We expect a decisive battle in the next few days.  It may commence today, yet I hardly expect it.  I wrote you in my last letter of our fight at Hagerstown. j I then hoped that some of our officers would turn up, but they have not.  I enclose you an account of our fight at Hanover.  i believe that I have had the honor, with the 5th, of leading the first charge and fighting the first battle on free soil since this war commenced.  We suffer a good deal from want of  food, as our trains are all behind.  This is the third day since our men are out of rations, and as their money is pretty much gone, it leaves them in a hungry condition.  The officers are still worse off than the men, as we draw no rations, having to forage for our grub.  For two days I had nothing except two pieces of hardtack, except for a breakfast we got at a farmhouse, which consisted entirely of coffee, lettuce and radishes.  When we went out yesterday my whole command was but 144 men, the first Virginia 120.  We have a great many men dismounted.  The Army is in excellent spirits and confident of glorious success.

 

Harpers Ferry, July 17, 1863

I have a a moment to write you a few lines.  We crossed to this point last night on pontoon bridges, and this morning crossed the Shenandoah into Loudon County, in pursuit of Jeff's ragamuffins.  We are worn and jaded down.  The cavalry has done all the work and fighting since Gettysburg.  We charged into Hagerstown, Pa., on Sunday last, and held the place for two days against a large body of infantry and cavalry, hoping General Meade would attack them; but no, he waited one week from the time the advance of the rebels came into Hagerstown, which was the Monday we fought them.  The result is that they have all re-crossed into Virginia.  We all felt that we had them and should have  annihilated them.  The cavalry followed them to Falling Waters and Williamsport, and charged them behind their entrenchments.  We have taken in all six to eight thousand prisoners in the last week.  We recaptured Lieuts. Bryant, Merriman and Dimmick.  Captains Lucas and Penfield have, without doubt, been carried across the river.  We have lost the best opportunity we ever had for wiping out the army of Virginia.  We leave for Loudon County in a few moments in a heavy rain.

 

Head Quarters, Fifth New York Cav., Purcelville,
Va., July 18, 1863

My dear Children - as we are resting our weary selves and horses today, and having just been looking at your mother's miniature and yours, I thought I would write you as a source of pleasure to myself and you.  Imagine in your minds yourself sitting under a tree to shield me from the rays of the sun; bivouacked about me a whole corps of cavalry, not less than ten thousand men and horses.  The men are this morning all firing off their pistols and cleaning them, as the weather has been very wet, and many of their pistols are in bad condition.  The men are, in addition, also resting themselves as best they can; some are washing their shirts, some caring for their poor jaded horses.  We have had a great many horses killed, but more have given out by forced marches and want of food.

 

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