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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > George Dyer Federal Paymaster Transcript

George Dyer Federal Paymaster Transcript

Washington, Sund’y eve’g May 17th ‘63

My dear General,

I take it you will like best a friendly letter from a friend.  I am here, “head up and tail up” (no, no this last exactly, since I had the diarhee) and established according to law. On Thursday evening went before the Examining Board (the “board” was flat, dry and wooden as should be expected) who surveyed me, marked me and filed me out. On Friday afternoon I got my orders to report for duty to Major Fry, chief for this District, who turned me over to Mr. Brook who turned me over to Mr. Hutchins, who turned me over a peck of papers, turned in by Major Paulding, who has turned me over to Major Leslie at New York.  I find that I have one New Hampshire, one Rhode Island, three Connecticut one New Jersey Regiment, one regular Battery, and no clerk – about which I have written Major True. Two of the Reg’s have allotted, which rather more than doubles the load.  The chief was pleased today that the Board was pleased with me, because it was thought that I could do the work. Well, I’ll do it or burst, but it would be handy to have a clerk.

Now I’ll tell you two things which I have found out. One is why the payments have been behindhand to soldiers and another is why allotment money is not promptly sent. The reason of the first is, because many of the paymasters ain’t worth shucks – there are some here, who have been here for months & haven’t done anything, because they didn’t know how, and couldn’t learn. One man finds it hard work to take care of two regiments, and another looks after eight. The good ones are overworked and the poor fools don’t do anything.

In regard to allotments, there is a lot of labor which can only be done, after all the payments are made, and the rolls examined & all fixed up for accounts and vouching – Paymasters take their own time for a work which is onerous, and as they think superlative.

Another thing I have found out, which is that lying of late about the Potomac Army has been awful.  Hooker got whipped and backed out – Lee got whipped and backed out – Stoneman didn’t do anything of any account. The trains were not stopped on any road only one day. Hooker hasn’t recrossed the Rappahannock & to all appearance can’t for weeks. His army is badly broken up by the casualties, but more by the withdrawal of the two years men, which will make a great deal of new brigading necessary. Keyes never dreamed of getting away from his gun boats, nor has Peck. Richmond was never left bare of troops. It would not surprise me if the army rests in camp until fall and conscription to fill their ranks.  There are unwounded officers enough in this City to make a Brigade. How they got here the Lord only knows.

Col. Leppien was mustered in on Friday by special order – came very near dying on Saturday, but this evening is improving and has I suppose an even chance of recovery. His leg was amputated rather badly, and bandaged so tightly that mortification commenced at the stump. Leppien and 500 other wounded men were put on board of a transport at Acquia Creek on Sunday after the battle and remained there until Thursday waiting for the order to come from the proper medical authority to move for Washington. The result was most horrible – as the vessel was overcrowded and no one could be cared for properly.

Major Dill started for home yesterday. Doct. Wiggin talks of going home, says he is of no account here, and can do nothing, all which entre nous is true. The idea of sending a country doctor round among hospitals, bossed by army surgeons, to look after the interests of soldiers, is about as sensible to one who appreciates human nature of the medical persuasion, as it would be to send a ram with an apron on into a flock of sheep, with the expectation of a crop of lambs. Of which matter, not the ram, you had my views at the time of appointment.

Gen’l, this letter is smelling too much of the shop and not enough of friendship – It will please you that on Saturday afternoon I moved into my present quarters. 355 F St., 2nd floor front, kept by a buxom widow name unknown, and occupied by various unknown parties. It is one of the merits of Washington that nobody gives a damn about anybody else. I bought a new pipe, big wooden one, long stem, smokes like Vesuvius, an interesting book, and a bottle of brandy and for the last thirty hours have been trying whether Dyer or diarhee was coming out ahead. I am happy to inform you to that the individual is superior to his accidents, that “everything is lovely and the goose hangs high.”

I would like to write you more, but I never overrun one piece of paper to a man & so hold up. Let me hear from you often. Command me in all proper works – Commend me to Mrs. H. and Miss H. – and believe me

Your sincere friend
Geo. W. D.