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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Note: the Regiment remained encamped near Gaines Mills

A severe thunderstorm struck in the early morning hours leaving the lower part of the 18th's camp and, in particular. the area where companies A and F had pitched their tents "entirely flooded, the water being near 4 and 5 inches in depth."

Other depths were to be measured as well. As feared the previous day, Lt. George M. Barnard's prediction that Zephaniah Britton would not survive his bout with measles and typhoid fever came to fruition. Britton, the married father of two children, passed just minutes before 19-year-old Patrick Kiley of Co. A. Sorrowful news was also waiting for Capt. Frederick Forrest of Co. I upon his return from White House Landing. His brother-in-law David Stewart of Co. I had died three days earlier, yet another victim of typhoid fever. Forrest, acting on a promise made to his in-laws, bore the associated costs of embalming and returning the body to Farmington, ME by himself.

Forrest also had a tale of his own to tell based on what four Rebel officers who had deserted told him. Four days of half rations had left Confederate troops convinced that unless they could break Union lines within the next ten days "the game was about up." Even though "there are deserters from the rebel side nearly every day," not everyone was convinced the Confederacy was crumbling. "So much for the story [Forest] has, as time will tell."

Much later that evening Charles Rean, who had wandered into Union lines claiming to have been captured at Winchester and making good on his escape attempt near Lynchburg, Virginia, finally fessed up under severe interrogation. A member of Stonewall Jackson's command he had been sent on a spy mission to ascertain the "strength and location of the troops upon the Union right." It was the first anyone knew that Jackson had given the slip to three Union Corps commanders. The alarm raised, Union forces began entrenching along Beaver Dam Creek near Mechanicsville. The thunder that was Lee was fast approaching.


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