03 28 1863 [Saturday]
At daylight the enemy again shelled Fort Warrenton. They threw about twenty-five shells, doing no damage. Then the shells fell below town at their old stand. We were visited by one of the most severe storms to which our Country is subjected. Tearing up tents, leaving poor Rebels to take shelter the best they could. Joe and I, by close attention, succeeded in holding our tent to the ground. Our bed got a good wetting.
Everything was passing off in the usual manner of camp life, till the night of March 28th, when we were shocked by a sudden and terrible calamity. The day had been calm and serene, and there was nothing in the heavens or on the earth portending to human vision the coming sad spectacle. About ten o’clock at night the wind commenced blowing a steady gale, and black clouds loomed up. For an hour it seemed that we were only going to have a thunder gust, but the storm increased and the winds howled among the thick foliage of the tall trees. Not one in our camp dreamed of danger, till the limbs commenced crashing, and the huge poplars were being torn up by their roots in the very center of our camp.
All was flurry and consternation. Men rushed wildly from their cabins in their night clothes, seeking eagerly a place of safety. In many cases the cabins were crushed into atoms before the men had fairly escaped. A tent occupied by my brother and five others was torn into shreds in a moment after their exit. Six men were killed outright in one tent, and ten others injured in various parts of the regiment [61st Tenn.].
‘Twas the most pitiable sight man ever beheld, to see six stalwart men lying side by side, mangled and bruised, in death. We buried them side by side on a neighboring hill. Never did a conflagration or tornado leave a more desolate and gloomy scene than was presented by our once beautiful camp. It required several days to clear up our camping ground so as to make it even passable. (61st Tenn.)
About twelve o’clock last night we were aroused by cries and a tremendous noise outside. At first we thought it was an alarm, but soon found that we had mistaken the crash of falling timber for the roar of cannon. As hastily as possible we arose and dressed. When we opened the door a dreadful scene met us. The night was black as adamant, the wind swept by in a perfect hurricane, and a roar like continual, distant thunder. Intermingled with the uproar of the elements was the crash of falling timber, the groans of the wounded and the frantic screams of terrified men running back and forth in perfect confusion. There was something in the scene terribly sublime, it was a visible, feeling vindication of His Majesty Who directs the Storm.
We were all busily engaged until nearly morning hunting up and getting out the wounded and seing after our friends. The whole loss when we got everthing straigntened and examined we found to be were six killed and three badly crippled, beside othere slightly hurd. After daylight commenced the process of cutting down the timber which continued all day. [60th Tenn.]