Letter – Reuben Rhodes, 28 July 1863


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Letter written by Private Reuben Rhoades of Company C, 19th ME Infantry, to his mother from McVeigh Hospital in Alexandria, VA. Rhoades writes that he is exhausted from marching, hence why he is in the hospital. He came to Alexandria on the railroad from Warrenton Junction. The army has gone down the Rappahannock River, but he is not in a hurry to join them. He mentions fighting at the battle at Gettysburg and the long marches that preceded it. He cautions his mother not to worry, as he is not “so awful sick.” The house that serves as the hospital is along the Potomac River, and he is able to look out his window and gaze at the steamboats while he rests.

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Alexandria VA. July 28

Mc Veigh Hospital 1863

My Dere Mother it is with plasure that I now rite to let you no how and whare I am weell as for my health it is not very good nor very bad but I am wourn out a marching and the most that I want is rest and I am in a good place for that. I come in to Alexandria last night on the cars from Warington Junction. the Armey has gon down on the Rapperhanock a gane [again] but I shant be in a hurry a bout going. I shell stay here till I get recuted up in good shape. wee have bin on the

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March for Six weeks without hardly adays rest and that is a nuf [enough] to ware most eny one out but I will be all rite before long but I shell stay here as long as I can and let the armey march to the devel [devil] if they want to. wee have marched over 600 miles and fought that battle at gettersburg that haint doing bad is it. I have not got but one letter from you since I left Falmoth wee could not get our male [mail] and not much chance to send one I have rote to you every chance that could get. now I dont want you to think that I am so awful sick for I haint and I dont want you to think so I am worn out and all I want is to lay still and recute

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up, and I have got whare I can have good care and well doctered and a good bed to sleep on, and it is rite byt the window and whare I can look on the Potomac and see the steembots go in and out, im up the thurd story of a splended brick hous, rit in the sity, now I have not got much more to rite this time I have jest bin to dinner and wee had new potatos and beets and onions and soft bread I call that prity good, now when you rite to me I want you to send me one or to dollers if you can get it eny way for I want a little change, rite soon and all the nuse and [w]ho was drafted from your son

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put on your letters

Mc Veigh Hospital

Alexandria VA

Reuben Rhodes, a citizen of Troy, ME, enlisted on August 25, 1862. He was between 18 and 20 years old. He served as a private in Company C of the 19th ME Infantry and mustered out May 31, 1865. After the war he returned to his parents farm and married a woman named Josephine. He died in 1923 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery.

Letter – Alfred Sofield, 6 March 1863


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Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife Helen from camp near Belle Plain, VA. Sofield writes of the impending arrival of a new chaplain, and a rumor that Captain Bryden was appointed provost marshal of the Congressional district. He also mentions the prevalence of disease within the camp. He goes into detail about the politics in the regiment concerning their lack of an acting major. Sofield received the majority of the votes for major, though he is unsure if he will get the position as the promotion would be made by the colonel. He writes that Belle Plain is only used as a government depot, and they are on picket duty for the next several days.

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Camp near Bell Plain, Va

March 6. 1863

8 O clock P.M.

My Dear Wife                          

     I have been waiting anxiously several days for a reply to some one or all of my letters. But the mail is in and again I am sorely disappointed. Yours of the 19th, 22d, & 21st ult. I rec’d at the same time, that is on Tuesday last. You may well believe I had begun to get nervous as I know you generally write to me frequently. And in this case it being so long, and the children being sick when I left, I imagined all manner of things, and of course was very much gratified to hear that you all, if not quite well, were so much better. I rec’d a letter from Capt. Bryden [Co. G] saying that Mr. Calkins’ [chaplain] papers had not reached

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Harrisburg. I went immediately to Col. Dwight and said it was very strange as he saw them mailed. The next morning the adjutant brought me the documents and said they had been mislaid. I took and forwarded them to S. F. Wilson at Harrisburg, and we now expect our chaplain will be with us about the last of next week. Did you see Wilson when he was in Washington, or was you at Alexandria at the time I heard yesterday that Capt. Bryden was appointed provost marshal of our Congressional district. Is it so? I hope it is. When we arrived at this camp we only numbered 530 men, and out of that small number 130 were reported sick this morning. One of Capt. Bryden’s

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men died today. It was a Blissburg man. I do not know his name, but if I can think of it in the morning will find out and let you know. There are quite a number of my men sick, but none of them dangerously so. Among the number is John Wilcox. Colds & diraeah are the prevailing diseases. We have no acting maj. There was a move on foot by which Capt. Osborne was to act in the absence of Maj. Speer. It was a move of Col. Stone’s, at least so says Col. Dwight. But the officers of the regt. just told the lt. col. that that would never answer, and it had the desired effect. The officers had a meeting a few nights ago and took a vote as to who they were in favor of, and I had all but three votes

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Two of those against me were by men voting for themselves and the other by a lt. of one of the other candidates, viz. Capt. McCullough. I cannot tell how the thing will as there has been a regimental order issued saying that promotions would be made by the col. without consulting the wishes of the line officers. But I think the col. will hardly dare to disregard the opinion of so large a majority. If he does, I have the consolation of being almost the unanimous choice of the regiment. Bell Plain is just a government depot. No other buildings there. We are doing picket duty four days out of six. I send out about half my company on that duty. They have to travel about 3 miles before reaching the line. We are doing duty on the outer line close by the Rebels. I think I wrote you of my being wet. After this when I go I have a horse to ride as the captains will only go as field officers, and we take turns at that, so I shall not have to go often. When in camp we drill from 8 to 10 hours a day. I am very impatient to hear how you succeed in your clerkship. I approve your course. I do not want you to return to Wellsboro until you can do so in the right shape, and

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independent of everyone. Now it is getting towards the 1st of April, and I believe the lease of Mrs. Micks house expires on the 16th of April. And if you should conclude to remain at Washington, I think you had better write to Horace Cook and ask him to have our things packed up nicely and stored in some good, safe place. I think we had better let C. S. Wilcox take the piano, and use it (if he will) till we want it. If he does not want Lewis Bodine says he would like to have it taken to their house. You can do as you think best about it. I only suggest what I hope to think of as in case you stay something of the kind must be done. I think of you almost constantly. And it causes me much more

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anxiety than my own situation does. I know your hands are more than full, but I have one thing to console me, and that is if any woman can get along where brains and good judgment is required, you can. Tell Willie that apples sell here for five cents a piece. The Lt. was Benjamin Hughes that died in Bryden’s company. Ma, kiss Willie, Jimmie, & Bennie and Willie, Jimmie & Bennie, kiss Ma, all for me.

     Now Helen, I want you to write immediately and frequently thereafter. I am always anxious to hear from you and particularly so when you are away from home & situated as you now are. And now good by for the present.

                                 Ever yours,


Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.

Letter – Jesse Brock, 4 August 1862


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Letter written by Assistant Surgeon Jesse W. Brock of the 66th OH Infantry, to his siblings, from a camp near Washington Court House in Rappahannock County, VA. He describes the apprehension before facing Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. He is unsure of how long they will remain in their current camp, though he expects a battle soon. Jackson is in Gordonsville and Brock expects his regiment will have to meet him before long. He expects that the impending battle will decide the fate of George B. McClellan’s army. Brock expresses the need for more men, and hopes that they will volunteer rather than be drafted. He also writes that the army has lost its “novelty,” and that he has made it “a business now.”

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Camp Near Washington Court House

                   Rappahannock Co., Va.

August 4, 1862

Dear Brother & Sister

I don’t know whether I wrote you the last letter or not. Perhaps not as I am always indebted to everybody in some manner – therefore [I] always feel safe in writing. I am in good health; never had better health in my life. I received a letter from Jim Packer giving me the general news of Flushing & vicinity. I am always glad to   hear from any old home, as I am interested in that direction. I wish you all would write more frequent as I am so situated that I can always

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write when I would wish to. We are in camp; have been since the 1st instant. don’t know how long we may remain here; not so long I presume as we are expecting a battle near this point soon. [Stonewall] Jackson is at Gordonsville with a large force. We will have to meet him & with what success future history alone will tell. We were encamped at Alexandria for about 3 weeks were ordered to Sperrysville, 6 miles from here. We are under Pope’s command. He has 134 regiments in the field. Formerly we were with the 3rd brigade, Gen. Tyler commanding. Yesterday we were ordered to report at Washington for the purpose of organizing another brigade. We are under the command of Gen. Geary, formerly

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Governor of Kansas. We didn’t like the change much, knowing that Tyler was a fighting man. I hope we may find the same kind of a man in Gen. Geary. The weather is very hot here; almost insufferable. But we have to stand it. We are anxious to have the present battle decided as it in a manner decides the fate of McClellan’s army. There is an uneasy sensation manifested in our troops concerning McClellan’s army. We need your 300,000 men immediately hope you will send them along, and that without drafting. I presume you will hate to part with your sons. But recollect others have sacrificed & you will become compelled to do the same. Let your

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young men pitch in & show their grit. Nothing like it when you once get used to it. The thing has lost its novelty to me. I make it a business now. My mate leaves me the 15th of this month; don’t know whether he will return or not. If possible I want you to meet me at Waightstown sometime in October. Perhaps I am too fast, but I shall try & come home for a few days. Don’t allow yourselves to be drafted, but show your hand & volunteer. This rebellion must be put down. I would like to hear from you soon. Tell me all about your affairs. How is George & that sweet little child. Tell him to send me her photograph. My love to your family & all my relatives & tell friends write soon.

                                  Your brother J.W. Brock


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J.W. Brock,

Asst. Surgeon 66th Regt. O.V.I.

Gen. Geary’s Brigade,

via Washington

Jesse W. Brock was mustered in as assistant surgeon on November 5, 1861. He was promoted to surgeon September 13, 1862, and was mustered out July 15, 1865. At Cedar Mountain, VA, August 9, 1862 the 66th OH lost 10 enlisted men killed, 4 officers and 77 enlisted men wounded, and 3 men captured, a total of 94 casualties from a an effective strength of about 250.