Letter written by Private Daniel C. Dodge of Company D, 26th MI Infantry, near City Point, VA. Dodge is writing from the hospital, and feels fine though he hates to see his fellow soldiers with amputated limbs. Dodge believes the war is nearly finished, as Robert E. Lee has surrendered. He hopes to return home soon, as he does not wish to remain in the hospital nor return to war. Dodge describes the fine weather conditions, and how the cheerful land is marred by the graves of thousands of soldiers. He also writes of a speech made by Lincoln in which the President asked God to bless the living soldiers.
Vir.[ginia] April the 4 1865
Sitty Point Well how Do you all Do this fine after noon I hope you air all Well as for me I am fealing first rate to Day though I hate to Se So many of our Boys with their hands and legs cut of But it looks as though it was Pla[y]ed out for old Lee has Sir rendered his hole amry he was not so mutch of a Copperhead Be what he would give up when he was used up So he Could fight no longer So I think the war will Stop Soon I think I Shal Be home Bfore the 4 of July But how mutch
Soon ner I Cant tel And the Soon ner the Better But I may have to Stay longer than I think But five mont[h]s will Soon
Pas a way I think I Shal not Stay hear mutch longer for I Dont like it mutch hear But I Dont know But I Shal have to go to my regt to get a way from hear I Dont
mean to go to work hear if I can help it for if I Do I Shal have to Stay hear But it is Pleasant hear to Day I went out this morning Before sun rise
and looked around and I could se the cherry trees in Blossom this looked cheaful But look in an other Direction and you can se the graves of four teen thousand of our Boys laid lo By the Cirsed Rebs and Copperheads But they to have Ben heaped in Piles to Be rememBered as infamos Devels that air not fit to liv or to Dy and they will Be rememBerD with Contempt while
time inDures and all [???] uphold them god Bless the wounded SolDierS and the union old abe came and staed through the hole fight I saw him going
in to the field after they had taken Petersburg he made a speach to the Boys But he Could not Bring to life the noBle Boys that fel on the field But he cold [called] on god to Bless the liveing
April the 4
well I will stop and send my love to all the friend hopeing to se you all agane Before long it seams a g[r]ate while since I have herd from home and i cant tel you whare to Direct yet may Be I can when I right agane good By for this time Daniel Dodge
-Page 4, Crosswritten-
Dont fret a Bout the Bruss [Bruise?] for I am all right
Daniel C. Dodge was from Pine River, MI. He enlisted at age 18 on August 2, 1862 as a private in Company D of the 26th MI Infantry. He mustered in September 15, 1862 for a 3 year term. Dodge was wounded on April 7 at Farmville, VA leading to his discharge in Philadelphia, PA on June 24, 1865. Dodge was not well educated, his spelling mostly phonetic. Though he dates this letter to April 4, 1865 he most likely means the 14th, considering he references Lee’s surrender on April 12.
Letter written by Private Erastus Gregory of Company C, 114th NY Infantry, to his brother, from Port Hudson, LA. Gregory gives a day-to-day account of the battle fought at Port Hudson. Gregory’s regiment worked on building breastworks while being shelled by the Confederates. Despite being under continuous fire, Union forces suffered few losses. He mentions Major General Franklin Gardner going to Major General Nathaniel P. Banks to settle the fight with a trade of men and artillery for the fort, but Banks refused. Gregory writes that the ideas one may have about what it is like in battle fall short of the reality, and praises the bravery of the soldiers going into the field. He calls those who cry for peace cowards. He disputes that the Union is fighting for the rights of enslaved peoples, but rather is fighting to crush the rebellion, though hegoes on to say that he hopes when, “resurrection morning shall dawn upon us I may be accounted worthy to sit down near the throne of God with as black a man as ever trod the soil of old africa.” This was written the day before he was killed in action.
Port Hudson on the Mississippi 204 miles above New Orleans
June 13th 1863
Dear Brother and all I will begin a letter for you today but cannot send it out until this battle is decided for they do not allow any mail to leave here until then we started from the old railroad on friday the 29th of may and went to New Orleans by railroad we took a steamer from there and came up the river and arrived five miles below here on Saturday we stayed all night and on Sunday the 31st we marched onto the Battle ground we were brought up for reinforcements & so we were sent right to work they had been fighting 7 days when we got here, and I am going to keep an account of every day until the battle is decided last night Sunday night our men were sent out to put up some breastworks and worked till 12 o clock & then slept what we could the rest the time until morning the rebs shelling us by spells through the night Monday june 1st this day opens upon us very pleasant the men are fighting with a will on both sides the rebs have been throwing up new works during the night and our men have been shelling them all the forenoon and have finally succeeded in knocking them down the rebs had a big gun behind it (the works) and our men have just dismounted it with one of our big guns so they have only 2 more big guns left that they can use against us the
infantry fighting continues brisk all day) Tuesday june 2nd the rebs shelled us by spells all night last night the infantry fighting was also kept up most all night and they are fighting like tigers today the reb shells have done us no hurt yet except to scare us pretty bad and one man (in Co. K) probably being a little more scart than some of the rest started to run to get out of the way when his foot slipped he fell some way so his gun went off the ball passed through his foot in such a manner that it had to be cut off but during surgical operations he sudenly passed into eternity and that with the exception of killing a few mules is all the hurt they have done yet that is to our regiment but they have killed about (1000) men here since the fight began and probably wounded 3 times as many more) Wednesday June 3d is a pleasant day we are fighting with a will with cannons as well as muskets The old rebel reneral [Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner] has been out today to see gen Banks [Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks] for the purpose of settling the fight he told Gen. Banks if he (Banks) would let him have the men and 50 pieces artillery and his own life and be permitted to go he would surrender the fort to us but good old gen B told him (No) he wanted him, his men, artillery, & the fort besides) this old rebel general is the man that used to be United States paymaster and ran away with a pile of money that he was sent to pay troops and joined the rebs & being a smart man, they made a general of him but if we get him he will never be general any more for any buddy) thursday June 4th fighting commenced at daylight fight all day) friday June 5th fighting again today like tigers the rebs began to shell us again last night as usual but our men had been fixing for them and when they opened on us our men opened on them and ere the morning light they had dismounted the rebels two last guns and according to the statement of a negro that got away from them and came to us we killed a
good many men the negro said that we slaughtered them terribly) Saturday June 6th we are fighting today as eager as if it were the first day of the battle our men shelled the rebs through the night and they did not answer to our fire poor fellows had nothing to answer with) an Irishman has come over from them today and gave himself up he says we have almost give them enough he says two regiments of them have laid down their arms and took an oath that they will fight no more against their country) Sunday June 7th this is a lovely day full as pleasant as it is holy I am not fighting today but some of our regiment are the rebs opened upon us this morning with a gun that they had got mounted they made out to shoot once before our men got one of our old long toms in range and that is the last I have heard from the old gun today) this was an awful stronghold but we must soon have it I think) the fort or port is 7 miles around it and we have four lines of soldiers clear around) we have 30 miles of soldiers here, when they stand four abreast Monday June 8th fighting continues all day there was cannonading by spells all night by our men the rebs not answering to it but two or three times) I suppose you have an idea of what takes place in a fight like this but your ideas fall short of the reality) when I get home I will try and tell you so you will know something about it but I have not time to write it. But I tell you it is nothing that anyone would crave after) to see a regiment of brave boys go proudly into the field where shot and shell fly thickly around them perhaps before the first round is fired a piece of shell or musket ball hits a man on the head and he is carried from the field in an expiring condition another perhaps has his leg or arm shot off by a canon ball or grape shot while another is shot in the breast in such a manner that you can see right inside of him) and I tell you it is not very often that one word of complaint is heard from these brave men so eager are they to save their country from ruin) yet strange to
say we have men in the north that do us a great deal of harm by their cowardly cries of peace peace when there is no peace it dampens the faith of many an unthinking soldier and at the same time gives great courage to the traitors or rebels but I would say to such men as they are go on say all and do all you can we have taken the job to put down this unholy rebellion and with the help of almighty God we will see that it is done and done handsomely too if it takes ten long years to do it but for my part I dare not come home and tell my neighbor that I gave in my voice (to have peace on any terms) after the rebels had killed over two hundred thousand of the brave boys) I dare not come home and take my old gray headed father & mother by the hand & tell them their gray hairs must go down in sorrow to the grave because I had given in my voice to have peace on any terms, and therefore give the rebels all they demanded in the first place) I dare not come home where my wife and children are and take them by the hand and pat the little children on the head and tell them that I had brought a curse upon them and their children for generation and generations to come by giving in my voice towards having a peace which would be more ruinous than defeat itself) I dare come home and look my brothers & sisters in the face and take them by the hand and tell them I had signed away their peace the remainder of their lives by giving in my cowardly voice for peace) and back out at this critical juncture after more than two hundred and fifty thousand of our brave and noble young men had been buried beneath the Southern sod) I dare not do it I say) No I had rather brave the storm of iron and lead a spell longer) but enough of that) you will begin to think I am getting to be a union man if I do not stop) Albert D. is here he makes a good soldier and one that is pretty well calculated to pick a reb at pretty near every shot) we have cowards but they did not come from Mt Upton [NY] you see) tuesday June 9th infantry fighting continues brisk all day the cannons also keep up a tremendous roar all day Wednesday June 10th the rebs threw 5 shells at us last night but they were soon hushed up by our guns for our men shelled them all night infantry fighting all day today
thursday June 11th this is a rainy wet morning) our regiment were sent out last night for the purpose of removing some trees and rubbish that were in our way between our guns and accouterments ½ mile back and went to work like tigers to get our job done before daylight and we were progressing finely) when we had got within a few rods of their breastworks they probably knowing that we had not got our guns a large party of them sprang up from behind some brush and fired into our men of course we dropped everything and run and run we did it up & run in any manner for it but I should say we took a faster gait than a run) But strange to say there was only 3 or 4 wounded in the whole regt and only one in our company and he received his wound by falling down on his axe and cutting himself) not very bad) heavy cannonading by our men all night) the rebs not answering our fire except with musketry) we are having a terrible fight here to get this port but nothing daunted we press forward with a will not forgeting however to ask the blessings of almighty god to rest uppon us and the aid of his strong arm to guide and direct us and then we do not fear anything that can be devised by southern rebels or northern traitors) there is only one thing that I regret and that is I am sorry they are not all here together so we could fight them all at the same time not that I have any hatred toward them in any other way than to hate their actions (all I want is to bring them to terms that is bring them to an unconditional surrender and then with as much joy as the father experienced at the return of the prodigal I will receive them back and call them brothers again) those northern traitors get up the miserable story that we are fighting for the (****** as they term it) I suppose they think that if they get up that miserable yarn that we will not fight so hard but I will tell them now for all that we have come down here to whip these rebels and crush out their wicked rebellion and negro or not negro) (******
or not ******) we are bound to subdue them the cost be what it will) And then after the rebs are completely whipped then I say we shall have time enough to talk about the negro and then if I see anything in them or about them worthy of fighting for I will enlist and fight on the rite side) But until then I shall not bother my brains much concerning the negro some seem to think that because the negro has a black skin he ought to be a servant or slave and be bought and sold and whipped and kicked and abused in any way that a cruel master or overseer might see fit punish them) some even go so far as to say the negro has no soul but I believe when God created the negro He put as a baby [illegible due to fold] his man and I hope when the resurrection morning shall dawn upon us I may be accounted worthy to sit down near the throne of God with as black a man as ever trod the soil of old africa) If my sentence is no worse than that would be I shall be satisfied) one word more about Northern traitors and I will close this subject) tell them for me that I say, they had better come down here and help their rebel brothers for we are getting them in a tight place and they need their help very much but if they cannot or dare not come tell them to keep on and do all the hurt they can where they are) and tell them to hurry up for we shall be home some day and then it will be very strange if they do not [illegible due to fold] days they have all day sit about as if the rebels fight as well as they did the first day I am sitting here behind a tree in the edge of the woods writing this letter the balls fly around me like hail but I hardly notice it I have got so used to it) the cannons keep up a tremendous roar on our side but the rebs do not answer only with muskets) I thought I would not send out any letters until this battle was decided but I can and I think I shall send this tomorrow (Saturday) I received a couple of letters from you yesterday and was more than glad to hear that you were all well I am hearty and stout as a bear I think you did not enjoy your ride from Sanford very much the letters that I received were dated
-Page 5, Upside down-
April 25th and May 10th give my respects to all tell Amelia and the children I have not forgotten them and I shall be glad when the war is over and then I can come home and see them all I will close for the present.
Erastus Gregory enlisted at the age of 28 in Guilford, NY on August 9 of 1862. He served as a private in Company C of the114th NY Infantry. He was killed in action June 14, 1863 at Port Hudson, LA. According to family lore, Gregory was killed when a bullet passed through the bible he carried in his pocket.
Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from Belotes Ford near Cairo, TN. Jones mentions that the mail had been captured several times in the last few months and is unreliable. He describes the hard marching from Winchester, TN to Bowling Green, KY. They caught up with General Braxton Bragg but General Don Carlos Buell held back, and Bragg escaped.They pursued Bragg’s forces to Springfield. Jones writes in great detail about the Battle of Perryville, including descriptions of the heavy artillery. The following day he walked the battlefield and describes the carnage he saw, including the surgeons amputations of many arms and legs. Jones concludes by writing longingly of his family.
Belotes ford near Cairo, Tenn. Dec 4th, 1862
I received a letter from you a little more than a month ago, I think, and allow me to say that I was very glad indeed to hear from you, for I had not received any word from any of my folks for a long time. I received one letter from my wife since I last wrote to you. She and Susie [daughter] were well. I had been looking for a letter from you for quite a length of time, and had almost came to the conclusion that you had not received my letter. Our mail have been captured, here and in Ky. several times within the last three months. So there is not very much dependence to be placed in them now. Well, cousin, we have some sharp times, and awful hard marching since I last wrote to you. We have marched over 800 miles, including our flanking movements, since we left Winchester, Tenn. We marched from Decherd, Tenn. a distance of 20 miles to reinforce Gen. Shouph. He was expecting to be attacked almost every hour. We did not get the order till evening. Then we started and marched nearly all night with nothing but blankets and rations. It rained hard, and was very cold and disagreeable. We had nothing but dry crackers and a little fat meat to eat, and only half rations at that. We got here the next forenoon and laid in line of battle two days. We had no fighting except some skirmish and picket fighting. We then moved on, with our whole force, near Pelham, Tenn. We expected there for sure to
have a general action, but the enemy evaded us. We then marched to Murphreesboro on a forced march a distance of 65 miles. We rested there 20 hours and started in the evening, marched all night, and continued on till we arrived at Nashville, Tenn., a distance of 32 miles. We done all this marching on half rations and scarcely water enough to drink. We guarded the bridge of the Cumberland River at N[ashville] 7 days. Then we received another order for another forced march to Bowling Green, Ky.’ We made that in three days, a distance of 69 miles just in time to catch Bragg and his force of about 80,000. But Gen. Buell would not leave us at them, but kept us back two days, and Bragg made his escape again, after being allowed to take 4,400 of our men prisoners, and paroling them. Co. K, 2d Batt. out of our regt. was taken there, and the duce of it was, it was just a full company. They had just came into the service – consequently green, although well drilled. (I will resume our journey) After the enemy had two days’ the start of us, Buell, the old “traitor,” concluded to leave us go on the pursuit of the Confederate forces. The men were a good deal discouraged, but marched well. The fact of the business is, the marching we made has never been equaled in the U.S. We were 8 days without running water to drink, but twice. All the rest of the time we had to drink water out of mud holes in the road, and ponds in the fields. The water in some of the ponds was all green on the top, but we got so very dry that would drink almost anything in the shape of water, and we had nothing but dry crackers and a very little meat to eat, and coffee to drink. We never get beans or rice on a march for want of time to cook them. The day after we got to Louisville, Ky. There was
325,000 Union troops bivouacked there. We rested there a short time and started after Bragg, Buckner & Kirby Smith’s forces. We went by the way of Shepherdsville, Bardstown, Springfield, etc. We marched 9 miles before we got to Springfield without a halt. All the time as fast as we could possibly walk, and part of the time on a double quick. There the Rebels opened fire upon us with their artillery. But ours proved too much for them. They had to retreat. Our brigade was in the advance and our regt. was in the advance of the brigade, so you see we were thrown in the hottest of the fire. We fought them back from ½ past 11 till night. The next day there was some skirmish fighting, but the third day they took a stand this side of a creek, they having the choice of the ground and all the water. So you see we had to fight them back for water. The general action commenced on the morning of the 8th of October about three o’clock, and both sides fought their best till after dark. Our brigade was held back as a reserve, but were called into action a short time before sundown. So that we were under heavy fire at least an hour and a half. Our battery took its position and opened up with incredible fury. Night was growing fast upon us, and the combat grew every minute more ferocious. The flashes of the artillery was blinding, above, around, in front. Bombs, solid shot, canister and minie balls flew like hail whizzing & exploding in every direction. The shrieks and groans of the dying and wounded, added to the horror & confusion of the moment, made up altogether a scene of consternation and dismay enough to
appall the stoutest heart. I was over part of the battlefield the second day after the fight, & the ground was literally strewn with the dead & wounded. I seen one place where the surgeons were at work with the wounded. They then had a pile of legs and arms about four feet high. I seen one poor fellow with the whole of his underjaw shot off He was living yet, but never could [say] anything; and others equally as badly wounded. One man in our regt. had his leg taken off, another was shot through the lungs, & another had both of his arms blown off, & face & breast burned all into a crisp. The battle was fought at and near Perryville, Ky., and it is called the battle of Chaplin Hills.
I was very glad to hear that cousin Alfred was so well situated. I only hope his regt. can stay where they are. If they should be ordered out on a few such chases after the Rebels as we have, he will begin to have a poor opinion of soldiering. I think, however, that the most of these new regts. will escape these hard marches. We have actually marched as high as 32 m[iles] a day, on half rations, with rifle accouterments, and 60 rounds of cartridges. You were saying you wished me to write to cousin Alfred. I don’t feel myself at liberty to open the correspondence. It would be entirely contrary to our discipline. If the capt. would write to me, I would be most happy to answer to the best of my ability, and give him all the particulars of the movements of the Army of the Ohio. We have 20 companies now in our regt., and three new ones ready to join us. Our regt. is different from the volunteers, we are divided in three battalions. I would rather be in a volunteer regt., on account of their not being so strict as the regulars. I would like to write more, but don’t feel able. I have been sick for several days. I am afraid my constitution will not bear up much longer. I have not much to live for, but my dear little daughter. If I could but see her once more I would feel better satisfied, but it is more than I expect. Give my love to your children, and accept the same for yourself. Tell Alfred I wish to be remembered. From your affectionate cousin, Isaac B. Jones
Direct: Co. C, 3rd Batt./18th U.S. Infty./ 1st Division 3rd
Brigade/ Gallatin, Tenn.
-Page 1, Crosswritten-
Please answer this immediately if you deem it worthy. Direct to Gallatin, Tenn. this time, but at any other time you may direct to Louisville, Ky. It will always be forwarded. I would be very happy to receive a letter from cousin Alfred.
Isaac B. Jones was a carpenter from Williamsport, PA. He originally enlisted with Captain Joesph E. Ulman’s Battery of Light Artillery PA Volunteers at the age of 27. The company was discharged March 7th, 1862 and Jones re-enlisted with the 18th U.S. Infantry. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.
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.