The past few months we have been featuring an ongoing project on our Faceook Page, entitled “A Day in the Life.” The project involves sharing the diary entries of Benjamin J. “B. J.” Coffin, a Sherman resident who served as Captain of Co. E, N.Y. 9th Cavalry during the Civil War.
Throughout the year we will continue to share diary entries. In the meantime, here are all his diary entries for January and February, 1863.
Sunday January 18, 1863: Pleasant. Visited Excelsior Brig. Took Dummitt’s note for $150 for horse. Sent discharge papers for Thos. Dunham. Camped near Gainsville.
Monday January 19, 1863: Pleasant. In camp. sent letter home also to H.C. Woodworth. Darrow detailed our pioneer corps.
Tuesday January 20, 1863: Cloudy. Left Camp, 7 a.m. Under Col. [illegible] order. Went to Shotwell Taven and camped in the woods in p.m. Very rainy night and I have no shelter.
Wednesday January 21, 1863: Very stormy. Wind and rain. Passed the day in camp. Put up my tent and passed a more comfortable night.
Thursday January 22, 1863: [illegible] uncomfortable weather. Still in camp. Detailed w capt Gauret[?]. went on duty 3 p.m. Still warm cloudy night. Very muddy.
Friday January 23, 1863: Foggy morning. Pleasant afternoon. On duty w capt Guaret[?] relieved 5 p.m. Still in camp.
Saturday January 24, 1863: Pleasant. Still in camp. McKay out with a scouting party. His horse and equipment taken from him near Morrrisville.
Sunday January 25, 1863: Pleasant. Still in camp. No incidents.
Monday January 26, 1863: Pleasant. Very warm night. Still in camp. A scouting party went out toward the river and were fired on. A scout of the 4th NY was killed. One of the 9th wounded and also a Sergeant of the 17th PA. Detailed on a special court martial.
Tuesday January 27, 1863: Rainy, unpleasant weather. At 1 PM was detailed with Capt. Parnell of 4th NY. Capt Ayers and 100 men to surprise a party of Rebel cavalry said to be at Rock Hill church. After a ride as disagreeable as rain wind and darkness could make it without finding every one. Returned 2 a.m., Jan. 28th. Victims of a lying scout.
Wednesday January 28, 1863: A severe snow storm about 8 inches fell which, with the mud, makes the roads almost impassable. Still in camp. No incident.
Thursday January 29, 1863: Pleasant. Still in camp. Detailed on inspection of regiment horses.
Friday January 30, 1863: Pleasant but very muddy. Still in camp.
Saturday January 31, 1863: Pleasant and warm. Still in Camp. One horse (Buckskin) died today. Drew 3 portions of grain.
Sunday February 1, 1863: Pleasant. First part of day toward night rained a little. Warm no incident. Quite unwell.
Monday February 2, 1863: Pleasant. Cold wind. No incidents. Not on duty.
Tuesday February 3, 1863: Snow storm in the morning. Cleared up at noon with cold wind. Clear, cold night. Moved camp to an adjoining piece of woods and a much better ground. Abandoned two horses. (Woodford’s and a lead horse)
Wednesday February 4, 1863: Very cold but pleasant. No icident. Receieved a horse of Reg. 2. One in place of one of the two loaned him at Stafford.
Thursday February 5, 1863: Rain and Snow. Cold morning. Milder at night. Sent letter to home with Smith’s note and letter from him that he had sent home for me $100. Received orders to move. Packed up but did not move.
Friday February 6, 1863: Cold rainy weather till 3 PM when it cleared up. A cold night. Regiment left camp this a.m. for Stafford GH [General Headquarters]. Went about 5 miles and was ordered back to wait for further orders.
Saturday February 7, 1863: Pleasant. In camp. no incident.
Sunday February 8, 1863: Pleasant and warm. Still in camp. No incident.
Monday February 9, 1863: Pleasant and warm. A scouting party under Capt. Dixon with which was Sgt. Price and four men of Co. E went out this morning toward Morrisville [Virginia] when out about 3 miles were attached by Rebel Cavalry. Sgt. Price slightly wounded. Rebs driven off. Packed up and left camp. 2 p.m. Roads very muddy. Camped in the woods 11 p.m. near Potanae creek.
Tuesday February 10, 1863: Pleasant, very warm. Returned our march 9 a.m. Roads very muddy. 3 p.m. arrived at Stafford General Headquarters. camped for the night.
Wednesday February 11, 1863: Rain and snow. Mild. Left Stafford G.H. 1 PM. Stopped at Aquia Church and went into camp.
Thursday February 12, 1863: Pleasant after a very windy night. Regiment inspected by Col. Deems. [Ed. Note: The Deems mentioned here is most likely Lt. Col. James Monroe Deems, noted composer]
Friday February 13, 1863: Pleasant and warm. Reported my carbines unfit for use.
Saturday February 14, 1863: Still beautiful weather. The ordinary duties of camp. life filling up over time with me incident or special mention.
Sunday February 15, 1863: Still warm and pleasant, no incidents.
Monday February 16, 1863: Weather still fine. No incidents.
Tuesday February 17, 1863: Snow storm. Still and warm. No incident.
Wednesday February 18, 1863: Very rainy and bottomless[?] wind[?] with no incident.
Wednesday February 19, 1863: Snowy weather. No incident.
Friday February 20, 1863: Pleasant. Detailed to go with Squadron to Dumfries[?]. Order rescinded.
Saturday February 21, 1863: Pleasant and Warm. Moved camp to within 2 miles from Hope Landing. Abandoned two horses on the road unable to go. Ordered to move tomorrow morning to the Landing.
Sunday February 22, 1863: Severe snow storm. Too stormy to move so remained in camp.
Monday February 23, 1863: Pleasant. Moved to near Hope Landing. Roads about impassable.
Tuesday February 24, 1863: Pleasant. Regiment inspected by Gen. Pleasonton [Alfred Pleasonton – see below]
Wednesday February 25, 1863: Pleasant. In camp. No incident.
Thursday February 26, 1863: Rainy. We received orders to move camp. got ready. 5 p.m. order rescinded.
Friday February 27, 1863: Plesant. Meaking out rolls[?].
Saturday February 28, 1863: Cool and Showery. Mustered for day by Maj. Nichols.
About the Society
The Chautauqua County Historical Society was established in 1883 and is the oldest historical society in Chautauqua County. Since 1951, the organization has been based out of the historic McClurg Mansion (built in 1818) in Westfield, N.Y. Annual Membership rates start at just $20. All members are given free access to the museum year-round and a subscription to the quarterly “Time Lines” newsletter. For more information, call 716-326-2977 or visit McClurgmuseum.org.