Important Diary from the 127th New York Infantry – The Siege for Fort Sumter in 1864!

This diary in a red leather fold-over cover measures 4 x 6 ½ inches and is in very good condition.  The diary belonged to Alexander H. Mulligan, who enlisted on 8/12/1862 in New York City and on 9/8/1862 mustered into Company D of the 127th New York Infantry.  The first 30+ pages concern the roll of Company D, which Mulligan was responsible for.  He also includes other miscellaneous information. 

The diary begins on September 10th, 1862 when Mulligan leaves Staten Island for Washington D.C. and goes through January 25th, 1865 when he heads home from Charleston.   While all the diary is interesting, the main action is found in February to October 1864 in the fight for Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. 

The diary is 72 pages in length, the first half in pencil and the last half (the best part) in ink.  We will attempt to give a sampling of the content.  He is first stationed at the forts surrounding Washington D.C. (Ft. Ethan Allen, Ft. Marcy, etc.). 

Jan. 17, 1863 – Got our shoulder scales

Jan. 24 – Got our light blue pants

Feb. 17 – Got carte de visite taken in Alexandria

Mar. 2 – Digging rifle pits at Fort Ward

Mar. 15 – Lightning struck a tree 50 paces from guard floor at the Arlington House

Mar. 27 – Made Sergt. of the Guard

Mar. 28 – Left for Falls Church and Vienna

Apr. 15 – Left for Fortress Monroe

Apr. through June – Peninsula Campaign – Many entries

July 9 – Back to D.C. and on to N.Y. where he was stationed at Riker’s Island.  Here he had many passes and frequented New York theaters!  He mentions Barnum’s Museum and saw just about everything playing at the Park & Olympic Theater including:  The Imposter, Sleeping Beauty, The Ghost, Booth as Romeo, Booth as MacBeth, and Booth as Othello. 

Aug. 12 – Appointed orderly of the first detachments of conscripts stationed at Riker’s

Dec. 1 – Worked hard at N.Y Election Headquarters for the Union Ticket. 

Feb. 8, 1864 – Got an order from Genl. Hays relieving me from duty in Brooklyn.  I had a Sword, Sash and Belt presented to me by the Unionists of the 17th Ward.  Capt. John Salor presented it at the Bowery Hotel.  We had a grand supper over it. 

Feb. 16 – Left New York on board the Steamer Fulton for Hilton Head.  Heavy gale for 3 days. 

Feb. 21st – Arrived at Hilton Head at 1 o’clock p.m. 5 days passage.  I put up at the Port Royal Hotel at Hilton Head. 

Feb. 22nd – Washington’s Birthday.  Left Hilton Head at 9 o’clock a.m. on board Steamer Sentinel for Folly Island.  Arrived at Folly Island.  Arrived at Folly Island at 6 o’clock p.m. took the boat for Cole’s Island, arrived there at half past 7 o’clock p.m.  Seen all the boys. 

Mar. 3 – Went on Picket duty. I had command of the extreme Right Bridge. The Rebels were on one side & us on the other.

Mar. 5 – I am now up in our Lookout.  From here I can see Charleston and Fort Sumter very plain.  The Rebels are now relieving their posts.  I can see them.  I have charge of 12 men & 2 Corps at this Post.

Mar. 8 – 400 men of the 127th Regt. went on an expedition.  Left Cole’s Island on 1:28 o’clock p.m.

Apr. 5 – Went on Picket at Left Post.  The Gunboats went up the Stono River and shelled the Rebs from their Picket Line.

Apr. 15 – About 100 men under Capt. Gurney went over to Battery Island.  A Torpedo exploded and wounded 4 men of the 127th Regt.  The Gunboat went up the Stono River and shelled the Rebels. 

Apr. 25 – Our Co. left camp and marched about 2 miles up the Island.  We are doing Boat Picket Duty.  We go out in the Harbor and lay there all night.  I have command of the Mosquitoes Battery.  I lay with my Battery about 200 yards from Fort Sumter.  Co. E & D are doing the boat duty.

Apr. 29 – Went on Picket.  Fort Gregg was shelling Fort Sumter all night.  There was about 20 shells struck it and some bursted inside of it.  There was 3 shells thrown into Charleston and set fire to some houses there. 

May 1 – Went to Fort Wagner.  Seen the Rebel guns.  I got a piece of the Bomb Proof.

May 4 – Just at Sundown.  Fort Johnson, Simkins, Moultrie and Bull of the Woods opened on Fort Gregg & Chatfield.  The Johnnies fired about 40 shots at us.  No damage done to any of our men.  We hit Fort Sumter about 20 times for it.  I went on Picket.  I had command of the Picket Line tonight by Order of Lieut. Sammis.

May 10 – Fort Gregg and Fort Johnson were firing at each other all day today.  Fort Johnson was hit about 20 times. Fort Gregg only 5 times. 

May 13 – The expedition returned the reconnaissance proving successful, but failed to capture the Johnnies. Went on Picket Duty.  Fort Putnam, Chatfield, Seymour & 2 monitors opened fire on Fort Sumter.  They hit it about 100 times.

May 18 – Grand salute fired from the Ironsides and the other Naval vessels in the Harbor on account of the report of Gen’l Grant whipping Gen’l Lee.  Wilderness Battle.

May 31 – Major Gen’l J. G. Foster arrived on Morris Island.  There was a salute of 13 guns fired in honor of his arrival.  He is in command of the Department of the South.  Went on Picket Duty.

June 7 – A Rebel Steamboat got aground on the Bay between Fort Sumter & Johnson.  Our Forts opened on her.  Knocked down her smoke stack and disabled her so that they could not get her off.  She lays there yet a total wreck.

June 16 – Great boat race between our boat The Ripley and Capt. Smith’s 8 oared boat.  Our boat won, distance 3 miles.  Great deal of money bet which our boys won.  The Rebels opened every Battery they have on James & Sullivan’s Islands.  They fired from about 20 different batteries for half an hour.

June 20 – Fort Gregg shot the flag off Fort Sumter today.  I received a note from the Adjt. Genl. State N. York John F. Sprague.

June 26 – Capt. Smith of the 127th Regt. had command of a scouting party.  They went over to James Island, returned about 3 o’clock a.m. Fort Putnam shot off the dirty flag from Sumter.  Fort Simkins shot the halyards off Putnam’s flag.  The flag came down with the sun.  2 men of the 3rd Rhode Island Artil. climbed up flag staff and righted the flag.  The Rebels firing all the time.

July 3rd – The 52nd Penn. Vols. were ordered in the advance as they were to take Fort Johnson.  The 127th Regt. N. Y. Vol. were to follow in their rear and capture Fort Simkins.  On account of the tide and delay in embarking the troops, it was 4 o’clock before we got opposite the Rebels’ works.  The head boat was halted by the Sentinel on the Fort, who fearing all was not right, fired his gun at the advancing boats.  Immediately after the firing of the gun, the Long Ball was beat and the alarm gun fired.  It was now daylight and the Rebels seeing every boat as we were advancing towards them.  They opened fire on our boats.  There appeared to me to be about 20 guns firing.  Grape, canister, shrapnel, shell and all other deadly missiles just as quick as they could load and fire.  During all this firing Col. Hoyt of the 52nd Regt. and 4 boats of his command landed and were taken prisoners.  The order was now given to fall back by the Major of the 52nd when they heard that every boat there got away as quick as possible.  Major Little of the 127th Regt. felt very bad about the way the whole thing was conducted.  He stood up on his boat and asked if there was any boat that would follow him ashore. The boys of Co. D 127 responded to his appeal and were in the act of rowing to the shore when the order to retreat was given by the Major of the 52nd Penn. Major Little cried like a child when he knew that the project was a failure.  There was but 3 men of the 127th wounded, none killed.  1 man of the 3rd Rhode Island Artillery was killed.  Col. Hoyt and 6 officers, 132 men were taken prisoners.  The expedition would have been successful had the tide been favorable and a more suitable place for embarking the troops at.  Who to attach the blame to is more than we can tell as we did not hear the orders.  Col. Gurney and Major Little were doing their utmost to carry out the program.  I was ordered to report to Col. Hoyt with my Battery and was placed in such a position that I could do nothing.  I am sorry to say that some of our officers did not display much evidence of bravery, but took matters very alarmingly for their own safety.

July 4th – Anniversary of our glorious Independence.  Salutes were fired from Forts Wagner, Shaw, Putnam, Chatfield & Green.  The Rebels did not fire one shot all day.  Genl. Schemmelfinig commenced operations in front of Secessionville.  Capturing over 100 prisoners and 4 field pieces.  He is reinforced and on his march up James Island to that hot bed of Secession Charleston.  I went down to the landing with 10 boats that we had on the expedition.July 7 – Fort Putnam, Wagner & Chatfield opened on Fort Sumter today and have knocked quite a hole in it.  I went on a raid tonight.  5 boats and my Battery went to Fort Sumter.  I had a good shot and fired at the dock of Sumter. We returned about 3 o’clock a.m

July 21 – Went on picket duty.  We have built a bomb proof for our company in case the Johnnies shell our camp.   The bombardment of Sumter commenced on the 7th still continues.  The old edifice looks very crippled indeed.

July 31 – John Sheppard died Co. D.  The Rebels shelled our camp.  We were in danger of being hit while at the funeral of Sheppard.

Aug 2 – Went on picket tonight. 3 boats manned with good crews, rowed around Fort Sumter.  They were the first boats that have went around the fort since Major Anderson evacuated it.  They seen nothing of any account and returned about 11 p.m. 2 Union Officers prisoners made their escape from Charleston after 15 months’ imprisonment.  They gave themselves up to No. 5 Picket boat.  1 was Capt. and the other Lieut. belonging to the 3rd Ohio Vols. Infantry.

Aug. 3 – A flag of truce boat came down from Charleston with our officers on board.  They anchored out in the Harbor opposite Fort Wagner. Just at 10 o’clock a.m. our boat went up the bay with the Rebel officers aboard. They are exchanging Genl. for Genl. & Col. for Colonel.

Aug. 4 – National Fast day appointed by President Lincoln.

Aug. 7 – The Torpedo Corps lost their torpedo.  It floated up towards Charleston.

Aug. 9 – Fort Putnam, Wagner and one Monitor sunk a blockade runner opposite Fort Chatfield.  She was a steamer of about 800 tons burthen. Sergt. DeGroot dug up a shell that was thrown at our camp last night.  It was a Brooks Rifle Shell and weighed 64 pounds. We had a fine time in finding where it struck.

Aug. 10 – The Bull of the Woods opened on the Swamp Angel today.  Putnam & Wagner soon made her stop firing by making it too hot for her.

Aug. 16 – Fort Moultrie & Battery Bee opened fire on Fort Putnam.  Fort Wagner & Fort Putnam returned the fire throwing 4 shells to their one.  Moultrie & Bee kept up the fire all night.  Our Forts returning shot for shot.   I went up to camp, returned by way of the Picket Boats. Just as I landed at Putnam a mortar shell came over from Moultrie and bursted about 25 feet above my head.  I have been detailed all the week up to Putnam, in charge of the Requa Battery.  I have fired about 50 rounds at Sumter.

Aug. 28 – We exploded a torpedo near Fort Sumter which caused a great scare amongst the Rebels.  The torpedo contained 4,200 pounds of powder.

Sept. 7 – 2 colored men came into our lines.  They brought a boat with them.  They came 10 miles up the Cooper River.  600 Rebel prisoners, officers were put under fire of the Rebel’s guns in a large pen near Fort Wagner. 

Sept. 22 – The 600 Rebel prisoners were taken from their pen at Fort Wagner and marched down to the Dock where they were put aboard of 2 sloops that layed in the stream.

Sept. 23 – The Rebel prisoners were taken back to their old quarters in the pen at Fort Wagner. A flag of truce boat came down from Charleston.  Our boat went up to meet her.  They are exchanging clothing for the prisoners of both Armies.

Sept. 27 – The Regt. returned from the front at 6 o’clock a.m.  I had a painful duty to perform as Sergt. of the Guard.  That was to rivet a ball & chain to the leg of a prisoner, Smith Robbins Co. E 127th Regt.

Oct. 3 – There was a flag of truce boat came down from the Rebel’s. Our boat went up to meet her.  They layed there 10 hours exchanging boxes for the prisoners. There was 3 officers exchanged. By them we hear good news from Genl. Grant.

Oct. 6 – We had a great review here. Today there was 8 Regts. of Infantry & 1 section of Artillery.  We were reviewed by Brigd.  Genl. Scammon & Staff. The Regts. made a fine appearance. Col. Woodford called to see me today.  He told me he was going to procure me an appointment as Lieut. in the 21st U. S. C. Troops. Sergt. G. G. DeGroot was taken to the U. S. General Hospital at Hilton Head.

For collectors or historians who like good diaries, this one is a gem.   

#A1-17-63 NY – Price $2,495

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