George McChesney Civil War Journal Entry – August 18th 1864

Thursday August 18, 1864

Our Division moved out of camp about 10am about one mile and halted in the old camp of the 2nd Corps. The weather is very warm. At dark, cloudy and began to rain. About 11pm, well at night, there was a violent wind and thunder storm and I found my tent flapping around and the rain pouring in and I got up to tie it down again. While holding on to it a violent clap of thunder and lighting struck a tall pine tree in the middle of our camp only some 50 or 100 feet from me, the only tree near. It made me hop right off the ground.  A soldier who was laying alone at its foot was stunned. I do not know what became of him. I saw him carried away. This was the last clap and it cleared off at 12 and we had a beautiful bright night.

George McChesney

Petersburg, Virginia

George McChesney Civil War Journal Entry – August 1864

August, 1864

While laying in the trenches at Petersburg the regiment was drawing rations. The teams would come up at night some half mile in the rear and send word to the regiment and the first sergeants with their squads would go to get them. At this time the teams came out into the open field near a piece of woods, the ground descended towards us and also towards the Rebs. The boys had quite a number of lights, lanterns, and candles, to see by and had got about through when the Rebs opened on them with shell. A few boxes with some pork was on the ground out of the waggons for distributing. The teamsters never waited to put back anything but mounted and dug out and the boys went for the boxes. When the next time to draw rations, which was every five days, I noticed something unusual among the boys, they all wanted to go to draw rations. So I asked what was up, and they told me they had unconsciously drawn the Rebs fire the last time and the teamsters had left without putting in the stuff, and they were going this time with every a lantern or candle and when the commissary had got everything out of his waggons on to the ground they were going to light their lanterns as privately as they could and try to draw the Rebs fire, expecting that at the first shell the teamsters would dig out the same as before, when they would gobble the whole supplies. Night came and orders to go to the train to draw rations and to display as few lights as possible so as not to draw the Reb fire were issued. Every man went with his candle tho. From my quarters I could look right up to the place where they formerly had issued the supplied. I saw plenty of lights but there was no response. The boys came back disappointed and provoked enough. The commissary would not venture out of the woods with his teams nor would he unload them, but the boys went to the old place with their lanterns, shading them with pieces of cracker boxes in the form of a /.\ with their candle in the open angle towards the Rebs, but not to be seen the other way hoping that the Rebs would shell and in the confusion they could gobble something, not a shell came. The boys had no fear of the shell themselves, and knowing that the teamsters were in mortal dread of them not being so used to them as we were they were bound to have a lark, not that they were in want of anything to eat, but wanted to see the teamsters run.

George McChesney

Petersburg, Virginia