I thought I would post portions of the journal on here, as the entries are fascinating. The entries below extend from August 30th through the Battle of Antietam. As you will see, once the regiment was on the road, the entries stopped until after the battle. His comments during the days following Second Manassas are quite interesting; they show the rumors floating amongst the soldiers of the ongoing battle, suggesting that some thought it could have been a Union victory while the fight was taking place. Also of note, on September 8th, Ellen writes that the army resembles "a moving rabble" rather than a "well disciplined soldiery." This is of particularly interest for me, as it is yet one more example of the confusion plaguing Federal forces at the start of the Maryland Campaign. The army was not a well organized force, but an amalgamation of units thrown together to meet the enemy during a time of crisis. This is a fact forgotten by many historians.
Tomorrow and Friday I will post two other sections of the journal, extending up to January 6th. In the weeks following Antietam, Ellen wrote about the problems in the army, obstacles facing the Union war effort, and he also expressed his ideas on how the war should be fought.
Saturday, August 30th
Left Alexandria at 5 A.M. arrived at H Qrs of the 23rd Regiment Camp at Upton’s farm at 12 M, Heavy firing heard all day in the direction of Manassas Gap. Severe fight, the wounded are coming in. Reported defeat of the Rebel forces under “Stonewall” Jackson, Major General.
Sunday, August 31st
Camp at Upton’s Farm, near Washington
Some rain today. Received two letters from E.H.C. and one from Henry. Rumors very prevalent. Some heavy firing heard this evening. Wrote to E.H.C.
Monday, Sept 1st
First day of Autumn. Cold and blustering. Commenced raining in the evening and continued all night. No news of importance. Heavy firing heard this evening. It is thought that the Gov’t held its own against the rebels in Saturdays fight.
Tuesday, Sept 2nd
Ceased raining this morning; very cold. Rumours of all kinds; defeats, victories, etc. etc. Hundreds of stragglers.
Wednesday, Sept 3rd
No news; all quiet
Thursday Sept 4th
The enemy made a reconnaissance this evening near “Falls Church”. Reported victory of Union troops at Harpers Ferry. Office of the (illegible, possibly guard).
Monday, September 8th
Bivouac fifteen miles from Washington. Burnside's corps.
Cox’s Division crossed the Potomac Saturday the 5th passed through Washington and gained this camp yesterday. This whole army seems more like a moving rable than a well disciplined soldiery. Wrote to E.H.C.
Monday September 22nd
Camp near Sharpsburg
Arrived in camp at this place Sept 19th. Wrote to E.H.C. 20th. Weather pleasant. Thousands of troops here. Since I last wrote severe battles have been fought, and glorious Union victories won. The 23rd has made four desperate bayonet charges, in two great battles. Sunday Sept 14th at South Mountain, and Wednesday the 17th at Sharpsburg. The loss to our reg’t has been great, but we have enough left to do good execution yet. Wrote to E. yesterday the 21st to E.H.C. this p.m.
Friday Sept 26th
Camp at Antietam Creek Md.
Changed camp to day. Moved about two miles. No news of importance. The army seems to be closing in for another fight. Night very cold, morning very foggy, days hot.
Source: John S. Ellen Journal, Western Reserve Historical Society, Mss. 3502.