Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Let Me Sleep.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel W. Owens.
3d., Pennsylvania cavalry.

Photo can be enlarged by pushing on it.
In war there are a lot of things one can learn to live with out but sleep wasn’t one, ever one needs sleep even the enemy, sleep was used as a weapon against each army. Take the union army they had a tactic where they would shell the enemy’s defenses on the hour, in one campaign it lasted for two weeks. Although this kind of tactic worked for both sides it also worked against them as will, for the ones who were doing shelling won’t getting any sleep either. It was not only the non-commons that were losing sleep the officers were finding littler and littler time for it as will. In one campaign Sherman had to write to one of his generals a General Cores, who could not find time to sleep, Sherman told Core to hand over his command to some of his offices and take a much need rest, but Core refused saying he would rest when he could. Well General Sherman didn’t take to having his orders disobeyed and wrote back saying he was to remove himself and take his rest, or he would be forced to remove him from command.

As a young man I watched a lot of cavalry movies and in some of the scenes you would see a line on soldiers marching along dragging themselves along in a fight to keep standing, from this scene you would think they had been in a grate battle. But in truth they been marching all night to get to the battle. I found while researching that although both armies did march during the day it was a short distances of seven or fourteen miles in a day with maybe a small skirmish or a lesser known battle thrown in. The soldiers march would start at 6:30 or 7 A. M. they would move for a hour then have breakfast then start again and march till 12 or 1 P. M. then have lunch.

After a small rest they would be on the move again and would march till almost dark then make camp. But there would be no time for sleep as there were duty’s to perform. Those soldiers that were luck to get a little sleep were awaken at 2 A. M. to start a new march and the column would march all night and keep moving till they got to their destination which may have been thirty or forty miles from where they started. Now one would think the soldiers would get to sleep some, but it’s not the army’s way there’s a battle to be fought.

The battle would be fought off and on through out the day then as night approached the armies would pull back and one side or the other would claim victory of the battle. Now was the time for sleep? Not in this army there were your duty’s to perform then maybe you can close your eyes for a short while. And a short time it would be as you were awaken at 2A. M. to start a new march and head for a new battle.

When reaching a battle ground they may know or may not know when a fight would start.
If the intelligence reports were good the commander knew the battle would come towards morning around 3 or 4 A. M., if the commander knew a fight was imminent he would give a standing order, the infantry will sleep ( on arms ) which meant to sleep with their rifles at the ready, the cavalry would keep the horses harnessed and at the ready. The artillery would sleep ( Under arms ) which meant that the cannons would be pointed in the direction they thought the charge would come from and they would be primed and at the ready and the cannoneers would sleep under or beside their cannons and when the charge came they could jump up and fire the first volley without aiming. Sleep was in such short supply that the men would refuse to go to the front unless they were given a chance to sleep one Iowa regiment mutinied because of the lack of sleep.

In the following information you will read bits and pieces from reports about sleep and the lack of it and the problems that were caused for not having enough.


Each regiment and battalion will take up its position in line of battle, just after dark, and sleep upon its arms. The horses of the light artillery will be kept harnessed in readiness during the night, and when the infantry sleeps upon its arms, the guns will also be in position. The troops of Colonel Hamilton's command will be kept harnessed in readiness during the night, and when the infantry sleeps upon its arms, the guns will also be in position.

In the Field, Kingston, October 11, 1864-2. 20 p. m.

General CORSE:

I have just seen Colonel Raum. I think you had better lay down now and take a good long sleep. Give some staff officer general instructions as to scouts, and let him communicate to me direct.

ROME, GA., October 11, 1864-4 p. m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

I am profoundly grateful for your sympathy and proud of your confidence. Would willingly obey your order, but sleep is out of the question. Nature will assert rights at the proper time I have no doubt.


In the Field, Kingston, October 11, 1864-4. 45 p. m.

General CORSE:

I have just received your telegram. I order you to rest. Don't get your mind so nervous as to fail sleep.


August 25, 1864.
Brigadier General J. B. CARR, First Division:

I am instructed by Major-General Ord to say that you need not keep your reserves formed any longer, but that he wishes you to have your troops sleep on their arms, in preparation for any night attack. Half an hour before daylight to-morrow you will have all your troops under arms and ready for any emergency.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

We are doing everything possible, and our capacity is abundant for more than all you require, if we can only have trains promptly unloaded at destination, and the military authorities will permit their early return. Our men are laboring most faithfully, although many are greatly exhausted. The round trip should be made in thirty hours, whilst our enginemen, firemen, and conductors have been hours kept without sleep for seventy-five to ninety hours. Some rest must be had, or sleep on duty and accidents will follow.

BALTIMORE, July 9, 1863.

Captain Upton commanding, accompanied by Captain R. T. Dunham, of my staff.

From the night of May 27 until June 14, we occupied this line. Another partially successful assault was then made. An incessant and harassing fire was kept up upon the enemy night and day, leaving him without rest or sleep.

June 14, The fighting had been incessant night and day for a period of twenty-one days and nights, giving the enemy neither rest nor sleep.

Chattanooga, Tenn., August 22, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report that since my return to duty, June 1 last, I have been endeavoring to obtain the necessary information, from the several regiments that composed my command, to enable me to render you an accurate report of my expedition in April, 1863; but, owing to the absence of most of my officers (who are still confined as prisoners of war) and the scattered condition of the men, I have been unable to collect as many of the particulars as I had intended.

Colonel Fifty-first Indiana Veteran Volunteer Infantry.

Note . This is just a small part of his report.

I then ascertained that there was a bridge some 7 or 8 miles up the river, near Gaylesville, and procured new guides and pushed on as rapidly as possible in order to reach the bridge before the enemy should take possession of it. We had to pass over an old coal chopping for several miles, where the timber had been cut and hauled off for charcoal, leaving innumerable wagon roads running in every direction, and the command was so worn out and exhausted that many were asleep, and in spite of every exertion I could make, with the aid of such of my officers as were able for duty, the command became separated and scattered into several squads, traveling in different directions, and it was not until near daylight that the last of the command had crossed the river. The bridge was burned, and we proceeded on and passed Cedar Bluff just after daylight. It now became evident that the horses and mules could not reach Rome without halting to rest and feed.

Large numbers of the mules were continually giving out. In fact, I do not think that at that time we had a score of the mules drawn at Nashville left, and nearly all of those taken in the country were barefooted, and many of them had such sore backs and tender feet that it was impossible to ride them; but, in order to get as near as possible to the force I had sent ahead, we struggled on until about 9 a. m., when we halted and fed our animals. The men, being unaccustomed to riding, had become so exhausted from fatigue and loss of sleep that it was almost impossible to keep them awake long enough to feed. We had halted but a short time, when I was informed that a heavy force of the enemy was moving on our left, on a route parallel with the one we were marching on, and was then nearer Rome than we were.

About the same time I received this information our pickets were driven in. The command was immediately ordered into line, and every effort made to rally the men for action, but nature was exhausted, and a large portion of my best troops actually went to sleep while lying in line of battle under a severe skirmish fire. After some maneuvering, Forrest sent in a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of my forces. Most of my regimental commanders had already expressed the opinion that, unless we could reach Rome and cross the river before the enemy came up with us again, we should be compelled to surrender.

Consequently I called a council of war. I had learned, however, in the mean time, that Captain Russell had been unable to take the bridge at Rome. Our condition was fully canvassed. As I have remarked before, our ammunition was worthless, our horses and mules in a desperate condition, the men were overcome with fatigue and loss of sleep, and we were confronted by fully three times our number, in the heart of the enemy's country, and, although personally opposed to surrender, and so expressed myself at the time, yet I yielded to the unanimous voice of my regimental commanders, and at once entered into negotiations with Forrest to obtain the best possible terms I could for my command, and at about noon, May 3, we surrender as prisoners of war.

This statement was in a report given by, EARL VAN DORN, Major-General.
October 20, 1862.

The heavy guns were silenced and all seemed about to be ended when a heavy fire from fresh troops from Iuka, Burnsville, and Rienzi, that had succeeded in reaching Corinth in time, poured into our thinned ranks. Exhausted from loss of sleep, wearied from hard marching and fighting, companies and regiments without officers, our troops-let no one censure them-gave way. The day was lost.

Report of Colonel Thomas T. Munford, Second Virginia Cavalry, of operations in May and June.

That night we were halted in rear of General Taylor's brigade, who were cooking rations about two and one-half hours. The Sixth Regiment (cavalry) was in the rear, and our men were completely worn down and most of them sleeping on their horses. Captain Dulany, now colonel of the Seventh Cavalry, was in command of the rear guard, [and] was approached by the Yankee cavalry. It was dark, and when challenged they replied, "Ashby's cavalry." Having been previously informed that General Ashby had one company out, he allowed them to approach very near, and suddenly they fired a volley and charged him.

The Sixth Cavalry were surprised and dashed through the Second, who were sleeping and relying upon the Sixth to guard the rear, as we had alternated each day with that regiment. Colonel Dulany was badly shot in the leg and several of his men were captured. To add to the confusion thus created, a part of the Seventh Louisiana fired into our ranks. This was our first surprise. Many of our men were nearly exhausted from hunger and loss of sleep. We had been in the saddle and had no regular rations for three days.

Colonel Jacob Ammen's diary of march to and battle at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

The men are as comfortable as the enemy in front and the falling rain and want of shelter will permit, and certainly much more cheerful and prompt and obedient than I could expect. My staff officers, my escort, and myself are between the two lines of the Tenth Brigade. The guns fired at intervals from the gunboats break the stillness of the night, but do not prevent sleep. It is after midnight, rain falling, and I am sitting at the root of a large tree, holding my horse, ready to mount if necessary. Sleep, sweet, refreshing sleep, removes all my anxieties and troubles for two hours.

In the Field, near Jones' Landing, Va., July 1, 1864.

Part of a report given by, SAMUEL P. SPEAR, Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
In closing my report it gives me great pleasure to state that my acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant J. Frank Cummings, of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, performed his duty nobly, gallantly; and ever ready at all times and with but six hours' sleep in severely-two consecutive hours, he never faltered. My orders were conveyed with promptness and dispatch, which all proves that this young and faithful officer is fully worthy and fully competent for a better and higher position than he now occupies.

Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cummings, Seventeenth Vermont Infantry, of operations June 12-July 30.

IN THE FIELD, Near Petersburg, June 20, 1864.

SIR: The Ninth Army Corps left their intrenchments near Cold Harbor at dark on the night of the 12th and with but four hours' sleep arrived near James River on the night of the 14th. We here halted until 8 p.m. of the following day, when we moved toward the river, crossing at 11 p.m.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel James W. Langley, One hundred and twenty-fifth Illinois Infantry, commanding THIRD Brigade.

Near Savannah, Ga., January 3, 1865.

The date of our departure from Atlanta, it rained heavily every day, rendering the roads from Athens to Florence very muddy, besides swelling the numerous streams to their banks. These streams we were compelled to ford, with the exception of Shoal Creek, which had a good bridge. The men were drenching wet, adding greatly to the weight of their loads, and their sleep, though sound, was the sleep of exhaustion and afforded them but little rest; besides, many were barefoot and footsore.

Report of Lieutenant Colonel Horace P. Lamson, Fourth Indiana Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade.

Daylight next morning found them comparatively safe upon the north bank of the river, though both men and beasts were very much worn down for the want of food and sleep, and the march before them that day was seventy-five miles to Sweet Water bridge, in order to find a safe camping place.


But few days had passed that every man of the division was not under fire, both of artillery and musketry. No one could say any hour that he would be living the next. Men were killed in their camps, at their meals, and several cases happened of men struck by musket-balls in their sleep, and passing at once from sleep into eternity. So many men were daily struck in the camp and trenches that men became utterly reckless, passing about where balls were striking as though it was their normal life, and making a joke of a narrow escape, or a noisy whistling ball.

In the Field, May 8, 1864.

Report by, COLTON GREENE, Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

April 29, still marching; got on enemy's right flank; got on his rear between Tulip and Princeton; Jeffers' regiment and Wood's battalion in my front; attack enemy's rear on Jenkins' Ferry road; sent Harris' battery forward; again attacked the enemy, who halts on the Saline River; skirmish with him until dark; distance traveled from Wire road to Saline River, 90 miles, without feed for hoses or rations and sleep for men.

Report of Captain Joseph Gloskoski, Twenty-ninth New York Infantry, Acting Signal Officer.

The first night of our march was beautiful. Myriads of stars twinkled in heaven, looking at us as if in wonder why should we break the laws of God and wander at night instead of seeking repose and sleep. The moon threw its silvery light upon Rapidan waters when we forded it, and it seemed as if the Almighty Judge was looking silently upon our doings.

I barely escape capture, for riding out on reconnaissance to learn where we were and the roads, I found rebel pickets on each road, and some were trying to cut me off on my return to camp. We were not destined to sleep in that camp, for no sooner were we laid down than the rebels opened fire on our regiments.

From a report by, JOS. WHEELER, Major-General.

About 3 a. m. the command came up much worn and exhausted, half of the men having lost two nights' sleep, and during the march of the preceding day had necessarily received short allowance of rations.

From a report by, J. M. HALL, Colonel Fifth Alabama Regiment.

I caused my men to work greater portion of that night and the next day, although they were suffering very much for want of rest and sleep, not having had any repose of consequence for the two preceding nights.

Part of a report given by G. T. BEAUREGARD, General, Commanding.

At the City of Charleston, S. C.

He was writing to General G. T. BEAUREGARD, Commanding Confederate States Forces, Charleston, S. C.:

It would appear, sir, that despairing of reducing these works, you now resort to the novel measure of turning your guns against the old men, the women and children, and the hospitals of a sleeping city, an act of inexcusable barbarity from your own confessed point of sight, inasmuch as you allege that the complete demolition of Fort Sumter within a few hours by your guns seems to you "a matter of certainty."

Your omission to attach your signature to such a grave paper must show the recklessness of the course upon which you have adventured; while the facts that you knowingly fixed a limit for receiving an answer to your demand which made it almost beyond the possibility of receiving any reply within that time, and that you actually did open fire and throw a number of the most destructive missiles ever used in war into the midst of a city taken unawares, and filled with sleeping women and children, will give you "a bad eminence" in history, even in the history of this war.

Report of Colonel John C. Lee, Fifty-fifth Ohio Infantry.

The second night was spent in the crossing at Kelly's Ford, and, with the heave load, served to fatigue the command; yet the march of the next day was cheerfully made. To cross the Rapidan and picket the front of the division prevented sleep after 1 a. m. on Wednesday night.
The march of the 30th was readily accomplished, and on the two following nights sleep was allowed.

Report of Colonel Robert H. G. Minty, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, commanding brigade.

We had marched 56 miles. Some of the men had had one hour's sleep, and the others no sleep whatever. At 6.30 I resumed the march for Murfreesborough, arriving at Stone's River at 10 o'clock. I halted for a couple of hours to rest the horses, and then returned to

Report of Col. M. F. Locke, C. S. Army, Tenth Texas Cavalry (dismounted).

I did not allow any fire, and the blankets having been left at camp, the men suffered very much; and but for the fact that they had been lying on their arms without sleep for two nights previous, sleep would have been impossible.

Near Big Laurel, Ky., October 19, 1862 - 11 a. m.

Report by, E. KIRBY SMITH, Major-General, Commanding.

My command, from exhaustion in drawing the wagons and artillery up the hills and not having had sleep for some nights, are very much scattered along the road.

Statement of Captain F. M. Hughes.

Two companies had been detached the evening before. I think some of the pickets were asleep. It was usual for the pickets on the same post to take turns sleeping.
Statement of Captain H. J. O'Neill.

I had 36 men with me at the time of the attack. Some were washing and cooking and the balance of my company were distributed about at bridges. I usually had pickets our in the immediate vicinity of my camp. We never had pickets out during the day. I often found pickets sleeping on their posts while I was in camp.

HDQRS.5TH MICH. INF.,3rd Brigadier, KEARNY'S DIV.,3rd CORPS, Army of the Potomac, May 11, 1862.

Report by, H. D. TERRY, Colonel.

Our wounded have been well cared for and sent to the general hospital, for which I am indebted to the skill, care, and attention of the surgeon, Dr. Moses Gunn, the assistant surgeon, Dr. Everett, and the hospital steward, Dr. Adams. The dead sleep upon the field of our victory, and they sleep well. Their graves mark the spot where [beside the same breastworks] our Revolutionary fathers fought and fell before them, and though perhaps no report may be made of their devotion to the Union and the Constitution of the country, their surviving comrades will never forget them.
I could go on giving reports but I too, find myself getting tired and the need to sleep…..sleep……

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