150 years ago, and after spending more than six weeks near Fortress Monroe, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry set sail for Hatteras, North Carolina and the next chapter of the regiment's history was about to unfold.
The orders arrived on Sunday, November 10, 1861 and as regimental historian Joseph Gould remembered: "immediately all was bustle and excitement amid the packing and cooking of rations for the journey." The orders stated that the 48th was to relieve the 20th Indiana at Hatteras and, as Oliver Bosbyshell recalled, "it cannot be said that a very large degree of enthusiasm was manifested over this assignment."
The 48th set out the following morning--November 11, 1861--aboard the S.R. Spaulding, which Gould remembered as "a staunch, comfortable vessel." Bosbyshell described it as "a fine ship, only two years old, delightfully fitted with the best appliances and most comfortable conveniences." Bosbyshell also left a vivid account of the trip south:
"Very agreeable was her graceful motion as she steamed out of the Roads and into the broad bosom of the Atlantic. The unexpectedly warm and balmy atmosphere, combined with the bright radiance of the silvery moon, made the journey down the coast delightful in the extreme; few of the members of the regiment sought repose until long after midnight. Many had their first glimpse of a sunrise at sea on the morning of the twelfth and enjoyed its glories to the full, out of a cloudless sky."
It was a short journey and "a very pleasant" one; the regiment reached their destination anywhere between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on November 12. What they were about to experience on Hatteras, however, differed markedly from the generally "pleasant days" at Fortress Monroe.