Editor’s Note: Isaac Foskett of the United States Engineer Battalion kept a diary during the Siege of Petersburg. His brother’s direct descendant John Foskett was kind enough to provide images of the diary for transcription, and Dan O’Connell transcribed the diary for publication at The Siege of Petersburg Online. The transcriptions and images seen here are copyrighted by Dan O’Connell and John Foskett, respectively, and may not be reproduced without their express written consent. All rights reserved.
Sept 1: Cool and pleasant. Went out to the trenches on fatigue. Quite heavy firing in the morning on our side. Had mackerel issued to us as a ration for the first time. We got two for a ration. We have also had codfish issued to us also as a ration.
Sept 2: Lay in camp. Cool and pleasant. Went on guard.
Sept 3: Cool and pleasant on guard. Fatigue parties went out on fatigue.
Sept 4: Cloudy and warm. Lay in camp. Wrote to Frances and Melora.
Sept 5: Pleasant. Had orders to pack up and be ready to march. Broke camp at noon and marched to the Williams House and sent parties out on fatigue building fortifications. Had thunder storms in evening . An attack was expected during the night from the enemy.
Sept 6: Revilee at 5 a.m. Went out on fatigue. C Co. came down here this morning. Cloudy and rainy all day. Large body of troops are being massed here in consequence of an expected attack to be made by the rebels.
Sept 7: Cool and pleasant. Went out on fatigue building fortifications around the Williams House. Cool night. The coolest we have had.
Sept 8: Went out to work on the fortifications as usual. Pleasant and cool.
Sept 9: Cool and pleasant. Went out to work on fortification. Three men were sent down to us to work off for punishment. This being the first case where men have been punished in this way.
Sept 10: Pleasant and warm. Captain Harwood lay out another work. It has a bastioned front. It is large work. One of the largest and strongest on the line when it is done. Quite a fire of musketry broke out this morning at about 2 in the morning and some artillery firing also.
Sept 11: Showery. Worked on the fort.
Sept 12: Very cool and windy. Worked on the fort.
Sept 13: Cool and pleasant. Went out on fatigue in the forenoon getting nails to build a magazine out of some farming buildings. Went on guard in evening.
Sept 14: Pleasant but cool. On guard.
Sept 15: Cool and pleasant. Went out on fatigue working on the fort.
Sept 16: Cool and pleasant. Worked on the fort until the middle of the afternoon when we turned the work over to the 50th NY Engrs and started for camp about sundown.
Sept 17: Cool and pleasant. Lay in but there was a detail sent out from A Co.
Sept 18: Pleasant. Inspection in the morning. Detail from A Co. went out to the front to work. Received a letter from home.
Sept 19: Pleasant fall weather. Lay in camp. Wrote to Frances. A detail went out to the front on fatigue from A Co.
Sept 20: Pleasant. Details went out to work on fortifications in the afternoon. One of A Co. was brought in wounded through the head by a minie ball. He died during the night.
Sept 21: Cloudy. Commenced to rain at about tattoo and rained all night. Went to the funeral of the man of A Co. that died of his wound last night. A Co. went out to the front on fatigue as usual. Band C has went back to the rear about four or five miles to build a couple of redoubts.
A salute of one hundred guns was fired this morning in honor of Sheridan’s victory. It brought on quite a lively artillery duel.
Sept 22: Cloudy. Went to Prince George’s Courthouse after bricks. A Co. went out to the (front)on fatigue as usual.
Sept 23: Lay in camp. Cloudy. Went on guard. Details went out on fatigue from A Co. as usual.
Sept 24: Showery. Were paid six months. Pay salute was fired this morning.
Sept 25: Pleasant fall weather. The Co. went out on fatigue down to Fort Sedgwick. We had rather a disagreeable job of it. Was cutting embrasures and picket firing. We got home at about 1 a.m. Subscribed $3 for the Scientific American
Sept 26: Pleasant fall weather. Went out to the front on fatigue. Heavy firing up on the right yesterday and today.
Sept 27: Pleasant and cool. Detail went out today and night.
Sept 28: Pleasant. Went out to Fort Stedman on fatigue
We had just got to work when we were ordered to go to camp. When we got there the battalion was getting ready to march. We have to be ready to march at six A.M. Several volleys of musketry just before tattoo.
Sept. the 29: Cool and Pleasant. Everything is packed up and ready to march whenever the order is given. Could not hear any more firing than usual.
Sept the 30: Cloudy. Firing on the right and left. Revilee at half past four. Orders to be packed up at 6 a.m. did not move today.1
- Isaac Foskett Diary. Personal Collection of John Foskett. Used with permission. All rights reserved. ↩