Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Barker, Richard W.

Barker, Richard W. (Richard Watson), 1833-1905.

Four small diaries (Apr. 1862-Apr. 1863), with short entries, telling ofhis work in Company D, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, repairing and building bridges, a double railroad track through a swamp, roads, breastworks,boats, a causeway; grinding axes, getting out timber, even doing some "tinkering" for Widow Brown. Each day there is a note about the weather. They change camps from time to time to bring them nearer to their work, hoping the new camp will be located near good water. He takes his turn at guard and picket duty.

In camp there is drilling and inspection, card playing, a "fine sing" with some Wisconsin boys, clothes washing, fishing, blackberrying; they explore a cave. The Governor of Michigan pays them a visit. Always there is the sound of guns and cannons around them. He comments on food-sometimes a feast as at Christmas time, but more often rations are poor. He cooked a turkey he "pressed into service," and baked bread for the men. He says "no one is making money like the Sutler."

Often he doesn't feel well, and on November 6, 1862, the doctor made him ride in an ambulance, and then put him in a hospital in Nashville. He is there or in a convalescent camp until February 26, 1863, when he is discharged on a surgeon's certificate of disability. While in the hospital he is sometimes able to help with the cooking, make coffins, take walks, attend church services, and a Washington's Birthday celebration. He also watches the fleets of boats on the river. He longs for his five year old son. On March the 8th, 1863 he starts for home. Barker was from Laphamville, now Rockford, Mich.