A Florida Lad's Four Christmases

from the diary of Robert Watson, of Key West

Excerpts from Robert Watson's Civil War Diary located in the Florida State Archives.

Dec. 25, 1861 (at Pinellas Point, today's St. Petersburg, as a member of Capt. Henry Mulrenan's company of Florida Volunteer Coast Guard, the Key West Avengers)

"Took dinner with Mr. George Rickards and a splendid dinner it was. We spent a very agreeable day at his house and at night he had some of the best egg nog I ever drank."

Dec. 25, 1862 (at Tampa, as orderly sergeant of Co, K, 7th Florida Regiment, on parole following capture Sept. 2 near Boston, Ky.)

"Christmas day and I was in bed all day from chills and fever. I ate nothing and as there is no liquor in the place of course I drank nothing. I have been since ever since last date (Dec. 14) and I see no prospect of getting any better for I am in worse health than when I arrived here."

Dec. 25, 1863 (at Dalton, Ga., following action at Chickamauga)

"All the prisoners except the officers were armed with Colt's 5 shooting rifles." [the 21st OVI] and Missionary Ridge "a bullet struck my knapsack at the right shoulder and came out at the left shoulder, making 23 holes in my blanket."
"Christmas day and a very dull one but I find a tolerable good dinner. I had one drink of whiskey in the morning. There was some serenading last night but I took no part in it for I did not feel merry as my thoughts were of home. We have been very busy building winter quarters since last date (Dec. 11), and they are now finished and quite comfortable."

Dec. 25, 1864 (at Charleston, S.C., following his transfer to the C.S. Navy, after firing the Ram Savannah in the Savannah River during that city's evacuation, and en route to Battery Buchanan at Fort Fisher)

"Christmas day. Turned out at 6 AM, very cold. We were ordered to hold ourselves in readiness to leave at moments warning. 20 men were sent to the Ram Charleston, all the balance except the Savannah's crew went to James Island. I went in a boat to carry a lot of officers and marines, head winds and tides, miserable old leaky boat, very slow. In coming back we were hailed by the Ram Chicora, went alongside and the officer in charge of the boat went aboard and remained there 1/2 hour and it was raining all the time. Our officer got in the boat and just as we shoved off he was ordered on board again for he did not have the countersign and they were not satisfied. He remained 1/2 hr longer when one of the officers came down with a latern and looked at our faces. He knew one of the men that belonged to the Indian Chief so he was satisfied and let us go. Was hailed and brought to Castle Pickney and had the same trouble over again, finally started and got on board the Indian Chief at 10 PM tired and wet, put on my only suit of clothes and turned in. This ends Christmas day. The poorest I ever spent."

Thanks to:
Robin Mitchell, private
Co. A, 115th NYV, Barton's Brigade
Co. A, 21st OVI, Western Brigade

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