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 former Major Frank S. Bond, Aide-de-campe on the staff of Major General William S. Rosecrans, from NY. Bond is responding to a request from Louis Garesche who is writing a biography of his father, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, who was Rosecran’s Chief of Staff. Bond was with Garesche on the day of his death. He was riding behind the Lieutenant Colonel and Major General Rosecrans when they came within range of Confederate artillery near Stones River. Lieutenant Colonel Garesche was hit in the head with a Hotchkiss Shell. The Lieutenant Colonel’s body was originally buried in the field, but was disinterred a few days later so the remains could be sent to Nashville. Unfortunately Bond is unable to provide information in regards to a headboard marking Garesche’s grave. He directs Garesche to a Major Skinner if he has any more questions, as Skinner was also present when Lieutenant Colonel Garesche died.
58 West 23rd Street, New York.
January 2nd, 1885
Louis Garesche Esq.,
P. O. Box, 550, Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir: –
I am in receipt of your letter of December 28th, asking for any information I may have as to the circumstances attending the death of your father, the late COL. Julius P. Garesche.
My knowledge concerning the death of that gallant officer is limited to what I saw. I was attached to General Rosencrans Staff as Aide-de-Camp, and was riding just behind your father at the time he was shot. General Rosencrans and Col. Garesche were riding together, then came Maj. Skinner and myself, then the other members of the Staff, and after them a few Orderlies and an Escort Company.
While riding across a cotton-field, we came within range of two or three batteries of Artillery, posted upon an elevation on the opposite side of Stone River. The Commanding Officer of the Battery seeing a General Officer with Staff within easy range, brought his guns to bear upon us, and for a short time we were under a very heavy Artillery fire.
Among the guns in the Battery, were some Rifled Cannon, carrying what is known as the “Hotchkiss Shell,” having a conical
solid head. The solid part of one of those Hotchkiss Shells struck your father squarely on the temple, carrying away all that part of his head above the chin.
For an instant I did not realize what had occurred, as the body preserved its equilibrium in the saddle while the horse continued in motion at rather a fast walk, but it very shortly leaned towards the left, taking the horse out of the line, and then fell from the saddle to the ground.
I immediately looked for the Sergeant of the Orderlies, whose place was on the side of the column near to where I was riding, but he had also been shot in the thigh, probably by one of the bullets from the same shell when it exploded.
I then called an Orderly, pointed out the body, and told him to see that it was cared for, so that it could be found after the battle, and then rode alongside of Gen. Rosencrans and told him what had occurred, that Col. Garesche was killed. The Gen. was at the time so much engrossed in watching the movements of the enemy that he was not aware that his Chief of Staff had been struck.
In the evening, or next day, it was reported that the body had been buried on the field, near where he fell, in or near what was reported as a private burying ground.
A few days afterwards, the body was disinterred, I was
present at the time, and helped to identify it, by the blanket in which it had been wrapped, and by his chin and goatee, the balance of his face having been carried away by the shot. The remains were then sent to Nashville.
These are my recollections of the matter. I shall never forget the shock and impressions made upon my by your father’s death, and the sight of his apparently headless body maintaining its pose in the saddle for a few seconds after he was killed.
I knew Col. Garesche but slightly. I had been presented to him by Gen. Rosencrans, two or three days before the advance of our army from Nashville that resulted in the battle of Stone River, but as the army was under marching orders, no opportunity was offered for social intercourse among the Officers.
I recollect his demeanor as being calm and cool on the morning of the battle, and that he took from his pocket a small religious book, and spent a few moments in reading it, while we were dismounted for a few a moments, quite early on that or the preceding morning. This unusual incident in my limited experience among Staff Officers, impressed itself very distinctly upon my memory.
In reply to your question as to the head board, I can only say I have no distinct recollection as to it, other than the report that a mark had been placed at the spot where he was first buried. I think that two or three bodies were disinterred be-
fore we found the right one, but when it was found, it was identified beyond all question, both by myself and others who were present.
Among those with whom Col. Garesche was associated, when I knew him, he was esteemed a most brave and gallant Officer, and always a courteous and pleasant gentleman, and I well know the regard and esteem in which he was held by his Commanding Officer Gen. Rosencrans, as well as by all others of his Staff, most whom had known him longer than I.
That the fortunes of war should have removed from so responsible a position, a soldier so capable and so useful as was Col. Julius P. Garesche, is one of those mysterious events occasionally occurring, that lead one to almost doubt the wisdom of an Over-ruling Providence.
I would suggest, that, if you have not already done so, you write a note to Major Skinner, now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, who at the time was Judge Advocate on Ge. Rosencrans’ Staff, as he can perhaps give you additional information, having been, as I was, a witness to the manner of your father’s death, and he will of course be able to correct any errors in this statement, which is made altogether from memory after more than 20 years since the occurrence. If I recollect rightly, Major Skinner was looking directly at Col. Garesche when he was struck.
I believe I have answered all the inquiries of your letter.
I am very glad to know that Biography of so gallant an Officer is in course of preparation. If intended for general circulation, I shall be greatly obliged if you will let me know where a copy can be obtained.
Frank S. Bond
Frank Stuart Bond was born in MA on February 1, 1863. He was living in NY when he enrolled in Company B of the 10th CT Infantry as a 1st Lieutenant on March 27, 1862. He was formally appointed Major, A.D.C. on General Rosencrans’ Staff March 11, 1863 but was already serving in that capacity during the Battle of Stones River. He resigned November 18, 1864 and lived in NY and CT. He died February 26, 1912 and is buried in New London County, CT.
Julius Peter Garesche came from Cuba. He was appointed to the US Military Academy at West Point, NY in July of 1837. He graduated 16th in his class and became a 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th US Artillery on July 1, 1841. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant June 18, 1846; brevetted Captain November 9, 1855; brevetted Major May 14, 1861; promoted to Major August 3, 1861; and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel July 17, 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Stones River by a Hotchkiss Shell to the skull December 31, 1862. His son Louis Garesche published the Biography of Lieutenant Colonel Julius P. Garesche in 1887.
Letter written by 2nd Lieutenant Calvin Shedd of Company A, 7th NH Infantry, to his wife and children, from St. Augustine, FL. Shedd writes about a rumor that the Confederates took over a steamer ship containing mail from the Union troops, though he hopes it isn’t true as he recently sent money home to them. Shedd feels isolated in the current camp, and remarks on the number of casualties his regiment recently suffered. He writes that the locals must “toe the mark under martial law,” and are not allowed to leave the town. He also recounts how he found three sentinels sound asleep while on picket one morning, and lectured them rather than sentencing them to a court martial. Shedd describes soldiering as “the meanest business in the world,” and wishes the war were over.
St. Augustine Flo Nov. 15th 62
Dear Wife & Children
I have just heard that a Schooner lying here is to sail for N.Y. with a mail in the morning I shall try to get this in
I have been somewhat unwell for a few days with a cold but nothing serious. I am better today, I am on guard tomorrow & in for another ride. It is rumored here that the rebels have taken the Steamer Neptune, that took the last mail; I hope it is not so; for in that mail I sent you a Check for $55 & $5 in a letter if it is true. it is the detention of the money or rather Check that I care the most about for I would have given $5 to have got the Check to you a month ago, for I fear you have needed the money. If the Check is lost I can get another but will take time, I trust it is a false rumor I hope the Check will reach you in due season & if it does, write me soon. as you get it
We get scarcely any News are almost shut out from the world. it is worse than Ft. Jeff. Ther was some discharged Rebel-Soldiers came in here the other day from Bragg’s Army & brought the tidings of the death of a number that went from here. Ther has been great wailing at the loss of Husbands & Sons in a number of Families I understand, they say that the War is about done; that they cant Whip the Yankees & is of no use to continue the strugle. I dont think it will do to take much stock in their reports for probably they have had enough of it & want to talk in a conciliatory manner to us seeing we have got to support them while we stay. I would not have you think we let in Rebels indiscrimately, we make them take the Oath & make them toe the mark under Martial Law they cannot leave the Town. but I presume they have some way of communicating with Rebeldom. I can go out side the lines any night when
there is no moon & come in undiscovered for I know just where all the guards are & how Vigilant they are not. When I was on guard three weeks ago I visited a Picket post in the morning & found all three of the Sentinels sound asleep. They were Boys & new Recruits & I had not the heart to put the Ball & Chain on them, but I gave them a good Lecture & told them to go & Sin no more if I had put them in the Guard House as most Officers would have been glad of the chance to have done, they would have been Court Martialed punished severely lost their self respect & proved their ruin My conscience tells me I have done right but it would not do for Col Put to know if for then I should catch it & be Broke so dont speak of it. Oh Dear; this Soldiering a War is the meanest business in the world & I wish it was through with I fear this will not be very interesting but hte fact is I have nothing to write about I was on Picket the other day & had my
Dinner sent, there was some Biscuit cut in halves & Buttered, I opened one & there was a bunch of hair just as it was taken from the comb, I pulled it off & ate the Biscuit & wondered how it got there. That is a specimen of my Boarding Place rather a marked one however. It seems to me that I have eaten a bushel of Bugs Ants & Flies this summer, I have thought since I sent the Check that I should have written on the back Who is was from & who to & where for & where it was going to, & this shall be your Power of Attorney to put it on if you find it necessary if you ever get it. Thanksgiving is coming soon I should like to be at home with you & go to Henrys & have as good Dinner as last year I dont know as I ever ate a Dinner that I enjoyed better in my life I thought then the war would haven been over before this time & that I should be dead or at home now, but I dont see any prospect of getting home at present but we must make the best of it & hope for the best & in the meantime believe me yours as Ever C Shedd
2d Lt, Co A, 7th Regt, N.H. Vols
Calvin Shedd, from Enfield, NH, enlisted at the age of 35 as a sergeant in Company C of the 7th NH Volunteer Infantry on September 23, 1861. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant July 4, 1862 then commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Company A on July 23, 1862. Following the regiment’s service in FL and SC (including operations against Fort Wagner) he was discharged for disability on December 31, 1863. He died on June 11, 1891 in Tewksbury, MA.
Letter written by Lieutenant Edgar “Ned” Wilcox of Company H, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his sister Lottie, from Chattanooga, TN. Wilcox writes that he was involved in the “thickest” of fighting at Chickamauga. He describes the recent fighting, as well as the casualties suffered by his regiment. Wilcox’s regiment bivouacked after a retreat, and the next morning he awoke with a fever. Too exhausted to continue with his men, he sat under a tree until the Confederates began shelling, one of which injured his knee. He is writing this letter while stretched on the counter of an empty dry goods store that he found after the shell lamed him. He is determined to continue fighting the next day if able.
Chattanooga Tenn. Tuesday
Evening 8 PM. Sept 22d 1862
I will write you a few lines to night though I do not know whether I can get them into any mail or if I do whether you will ever get them — We have been fighting now for three days very hard and I have been in the thickest of it but have providentially escaped without a scratch so far with the exception of a hit in the left knee with a spent shell yesterday P.M. which has lamed me considerable but did no further injury – All that troubles me is the fever & ague which I have had ever since Sat owing to exposure &c – Our Brigade went into the fight at sunrise Saturday morning the 19th & fought till dark & were repulsed three times with heavy loss – That night we were shelled heavily but we were so worn out we slept till 2 O.clock in the morning full force not over 500 yards from us and that the Balance of our Division had fallen back without letting us know any thing about it – you may perhaps imagine we fell back double quick and I can assure you we did – at day light Sunday morning were in line of battle again and I was ordered out with my comp. as skirmishers – about
By 8 o.clock I had lost 6 or 7 men when the Rebs advanced in force & I fell back to the Reg. who were laying down under a little slope some 300 yds behind me. Here we fought them some 20 minutes but at a terrible loss as they flanked us & we were under a cross fire and we were obliged to fall back again – After this the fight became general for the rest of the day – The enemy charging & driving us and we in them charging & driving them – About noon I heard that Lee Brown was laying on the field where we opened the fight in the morning badly wounded and as I could not leave my comp. sent 4 men and a Sergt to carry him off, they told me he was wounded in 6 places the worst wound breaking his leg but that he was cheerful & did not think his wounds dangerous – At 4 P.M. the Rebs massed up on our left where were & completely overpowered us and we retreated precipitably and as our hospital and ambulances were capture I think Lee was also.
I wrote to Ria this morning that he was wounded but in good spirits & nothing more as I did not want to alarm her unnecessarily. On the retreat I got about 20 of our Brig. together & bivouaced about 12 that night – In the morning I waked up with a burning fever on me but hearing that the brig. or what was left of it was in camp 1/4 of a mile from us I sent them there in charge of a segt and laid down under a tree too much exhausted to go any further – There I staid
until 4 P.M. when the Rebs commenced shelling the road & I concluded to “fall back” on Chattanooga (5 miles) but had not gone 20 yds before a shell burst just in front of me and bim a piece took me in the knee, but it was spent and only lamed me & I managed to get in here where I have been stretched on a counter in an empty drygoods store all day & where I am writing disconnectedly & hurriedly to night – Our Brig. has fallen back to the fortifications in the edge of town & there will probably be on the heavy fight tomorrow & if I am not really down sick I shall go again – Our Brig. now is all cut to pieces and numbers about 200 (200) men but they will fight to the last & you may bet I will be with them if I am able to stand up. – Can write no more to night –
Yours in Haste
Edgar Norville Wilcox was born in Berkshire, MA. He was a civil engineer attending the University of Michigan when he enlisted as a private in the 7th OH Infantry at age 23 on June 19, 1861. He was discharged in December of 1861 and then joined the 18th US Regular Infantry on January 14, 1862. He was assigned as a private in Company B, 3rd Battalion. In May 1862 he was promoted to sergeant of Company H and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on June 11, 1863 (retroactive to February 19th). Wilcox was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on September 20, 1863. He was breveted Captain in September 1864 for Murfreesboro, Atlanta, and Jonesboro and after the war was officially promoted to Captain on January 22, 1867. He mustered out January 1, 1871 and lived in Oberlin, OH working in railroad construction. He died May 25, 1892.
Letter written by Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Rider, Jr., of the 33rd MA Infantry, to his former commanding officer, Brigadier General Adin B. Underwood, from the woods near Marietta, GA. Rider describes a charge on a Confederate fort [Battle of Resaca], as well as the fighting that occurred near another stronghold [Battle of New Hope Church]. He describes the losses his unit suffered and comments on the strategies of Generals Sherman and Johnston. He mentions the number of muskets now in the regiment, and hopes to recruit more soldiers when the current campaign ends. He writes about the current state of several army officers, and mentions several who are vying for promotions.
33″ Regt. Mass Vol Inft
In the Woods between
Ackwood & Marietta
June 8″ 1864
My Dear Genl, your letter of the 18′ ult reached me yesterday, for which I thank you, and glad to hear you are so well situated. We left the Valley the 2″ day of May, and have skirmished until the 15 when we charged a Rebel fort, drove them from intrenched hills, lost that day 86, including Lieut Bumpus killed. Lieut Parker died 2 hours after taken from the field. Lieut Williams bad flesh wound in the left arm. May 25 formed line in short range of another strong hold, lost 56, and 5 prisoners Lieut Capt Turner slight wound in the rist, in various battles our loss has been about 160 to date – Our fighting has mostly been in the woods with deep ravines in front. I never saw such natural strong positions. Sherman seems to work carefuly, but Johnson is shrewd, often before we know it we are in front of a mare’s nest. But the country grows less mountainous, and once in a while can see daylight. We start tomorrow, supposing that the Rebels have gone across the River, We now number 163 muskets. After this Campaign I shall try to get home to fill up, unless it is to last all summer. My throat continues very weak, and no voice, but the Major
can do all the ordering. and has been great help to me. Col Wood commands the Brigade, about the same as he did his Regt. but with more dignity and a big staff. I think he is too partial to his Regt, the have lost less and done less than any of us. Col Gamby and his major were killed May 15. Capt Powers is senior, but Col Wood ordered him relieved and is to be examined. Wood will get fitts when leisure time comes –
Genl Steinwehr was ordered to a Brigade in the 14 Corps but went home on “sick leave,” Schurtz I hear is in charge at Nashville.You know he asked for investigation of Hookers charges. Wood, Jones of the 154 & Bushbeck were the board. Wood & Jones sustained the report. Bushbeck opposed it. Bushbecks time is out and gone home. Wood is anxious for a Star & Faulkner for the Eagle, but probably neither will get it. The 20″ Connecticut & 26 Wisconsin have joined us Col Long has been away sick 2 months, how lucky he is – the 2″ Mass I see often but as Coggswell is at home you will doubtless see him. The 12″ Corps so far have not done so well as the 11″.
I am sorry that my throat is so bad, but dont let my wife & parents get hold of it, my Bro of Chicago came to see me in April – Prospects are good for success, but hard work, “Carry me back to old Virginia” Butterfield commands our Division, Excuse this, I will write you as often as I can, and hope to see you in July or August
Your Obt Servt
G. Rider Jr. Lt Col Comdg
Godfrey Rider, Jr. enrolled as a captain on July 31, 1862 in the 33d MA Infantry. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel April 3, 1863 and resigned September 17, 1864.
Letter written by Private James Perry Campbell of Company D, 79th IL Infantry, to a friend, from Chattanooga, TN. Campbell is recovering from an illness in the hospital, where he has been since the Battle of Chickamauga. He is “heart sick” after the army was forced to retreat, having hoped for a victory that would end the war. He describes casualties on both sides, including the “River of Death” at Chickamauga, and the reality of dying for one’s country. He states that a soldier’s real motivation is less in glory and more in dreams of peace and going home. He mentions Braxton Bragg’s army is also camped nearby and that Confederate soldiers were stealing clothing left on the battlefield. Campbell thanks his friend for looking after his family.
Chattanooga Tenn. Oct. 17th 1863
I take this oportunity to write you a few lines. I must excuse my self for not writing oftener to you, but I scarcely ever write except to home, I think that my diarhea is getting better since I have been here in the hospital I have been here ever since the battle waiting on the wounded and I think if I keep my self whare I can take care of my self that I will get shet [shed] of it after a while but this is a poor place for that purpose it is the most disagreeable place I ever was in, this is the first time I have been away from my ridgment since it came out in the servis, The ridgment is camped in about four hundred yards of my hospital the boys are all well what few thare is of them left, The hospital I stay at has about six hundred patients in it and my ward has had 36 and thare has 13 of them died and several more of them are bound to die yet, but the cases we have here are all of the worst kind the slightly wounded wer all sent to Nashville and other places north This was a very distructive and hard fought battlethe hardest of the whole war I think, I tell you Tom, I though when we comenced to fall back to this place that we wer gon up, it was a new thing for this army to retreat it was the first time it had ever done that trick, I never felt so heart sick in my life
as I did when our army had to give up the field for I had though only of victory before and then a speedy close of the war and the joys of home dear home a gain, but we did not have that field without an effort as the dead of both armies will testify, it was the bloodiest field of the war and we left many a brave soldier thare who gave his life for his countries salvation I saw whole brigades cut to pieces at a single charge and even divisions melted away like snow we ever as you have learned before this greatly out numbered, our ridgement lost a bout half of our men but we do not know who is killed or who was taken prisoners as the fight we suffered most in took place after night, but Tom it will not take more than one more such a scratch and the history of the 79th regment may be writen in full for it will be with the things that wer, And what their history the ridgement may be remembered but those that composed it will be forgotton befor the flesh drops from their bones, talk to a soldier a bout the glory of dying for his country (as some of the northern papers do) and he will point you to the ditches on the field of Chickamauga and ask you what glory you can see in 3 or 4 hundred dead bodies piled in one narrow ditch, it is to save their country and get home to their families a gain that animates the soldier to do his duty, the fame of dying in the battle especially when that fame is to be sung by such selfish and cowardly men as the majority of those at the north are is not prised verry highly by a soldier, but talk to him of peace and of home and you will animate his whole
soul, the soldiers want an honorable peace, not one of Vanlandinghams, Well here we are or what is left of us laying in a half circle round this town and Braggs army lays in the same shape just outside of ours, and neither of them seems willing to attact the other, I think that the rebs got the worst of the fight in killed, but we lost a great many guns and other soldier traps the rebs got a good suply of clothing from our boys that was left on the field they got one suit from me the best I had
Tom I feel much obliged to you for the interest you take in the welfare of my family and hope I may yet be able to partly return thos favors, but that must be left to the will and providence of an alwise and merciful God who rules and controls the destinies of man as well as those of nations and armies, If thare can be a fare price got for that land of mine I would like to have it sold and if it is not too much trouble I would like to get you to see if you can make a sale of it, and to help Hester to collect some of those debts if help will do any good, I must close this letter and I hope it will find you all well and doing well. Tell Hester that I am getting along verry well now and feel more like getting well than I ever have since I have been aling with the diarhea, Remember me to your wife and tell her I think she mite have writen to me
Your ever faithful friend and brother
J. Perry Campbell
James Perry Campbell, from Paris, IL, enlisted in Company D of the 79th IL Volunteer Infantry on August 1, 1862. He served as a private and mustered out on June 12, 1865 at Camp Butler.
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 Lieutenant Warren L. Scott of Battery H, 1st NY Light Artillery, to his mother, from a camp near Petersburg, VA. He describes the movements of his regiment, and mentions crossing the James River. The battery are near Confederate earthworks, and sharpshooters on both sides are constantly firing. He mentions having a uniform made, and how he may get a chance to go to Washington and travel on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Scott describes the “trails and hardships” endured by the army. He is unsure of the physical loss caused by the war, and recounts the many dead and wounded he has seen being transported on ambulances and baggage wagons. He writes that he can only pray to God that he will escape the war with his health.
Hd Qrs. Battery “H” 1st N.Y. Arty.
Camp near Petersburgh VA
June 19 1864
This morning I received a very welcome letter from you, dated June 9th teeming as usual with good advice that a christian mother knows how to give.
At present our army is investing the city of Petersburgh, directly south of Richmond – Since last I wrote you our army has been almost constantly on the move – For the third time since I have been in the army I have been within the vicinity of Baltimore Cross Roads. once more upon the banks of the James – crossed upon a pontoon bridge over 2200 feet in length-
To-day the battery is in position within 400 yards of the rebel earthworks. Sharpshooters upon both sides are continually firing at each other – Since yesterday morning we have had eight or ten horses shot down – One man had his right arm blown off by the premature discharge of the piece. Another his thumb while serving the vent at the same time – No one seriously injured by the enemy.
Col. Wainwright had a close call yesterday – a shot went between his legs, as he was walking along. viewing the rebel works –
The work is so close and hot that a person is very careful how he exposes his head or body – above the redoubt –
How Mat should understand that I was on my way to Washington, from the time of my letter I don’t see – that I was making efforts to pass is true, but I had not sufficient papers and it is for that that I am now waiting. When i go I can not tell. I hope soon. I am at present with the battery but expect every day to receive orders to join temporarily some battery in this brigade and do duly until my papers come around.
Nothing has been told me respecting the uniform that Louis was to have made for me – Suppose I should be sent through by the Baltimore & Ohio R.R. how could I get them Tell Louis to study out the rout I should be about to take and see if they could be expressed in case I telegraph you as soon as I get in Washington-
Dear Mother you can not conceive the trials hardships, suffering &c now that our army is
enduring. One thing about it we expect no respet [respite] until this army of Lee’s is routed or Richmond taken – If Richmond falls within two months I shall be very glad but if it holds out for a year, when it does fall I shall be equally rejoiced. For my part I have no hopes of the city being taken this year.
We receive very little news. That Lincoln is nominated I have heard but not read – What has been the estimate thus far of our loss. In every town where we halt for a short time all building are made hospitals of – The stores are cleaned and the counters and floors covered with the wounded – If a church, it is made the depot of hundreds of the suffering – Only those who witness it can form any idea of the suffering – Trains of ambulances and baggage wagons miles & miles long loaded with the wounded – All along the roads are seen the graves of the fallen braves – sadly attesting the innumerable throng who have ceased their warfare – God grant my life be spared in perfect health and body, and that I be restored to you again. If ever we needed the prayers of friends at home it is now.
We need to pray for ourselves
My love to Judge S’s family and other friends.
God have us in his holy keeping until we meet again –
Yours with love
Direct as usual to “H” Battery and I shall get your letters wherever I am
Warren L. Scott was born in 1838 in Lewis, NY and worked as a teacher. He enlisted at age 23 on September 28, 1861 in Lowville, NY and mustered in as a corporal on October, 12. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Company I on May 2, 1864. He re-enlisted with Company H in Culpeper, VA on December 31, 1864 and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He mustered out June 23, 1865 and returned to Lowville where he worked as a postmaster. He died February 12, 1901.
Letter written by Sergeant Robert G. Ardry of Company B, 111th IL Volunteer Infantry, to his father from near the battlefront in Georgia. Ardry writes of the campaign to Dallas, GA and describes the organization of the line of battle, which extended over ten miles. The Union forces built breastworks covered with brush to conceal them from charging troops. The Confederates suffered heavy losses. Ardry also writes of another engagement while his regiment was on the skirmish line. Despite feeling exhausted from several straight days of heavy fighting, Ardry writes that “things are going very well for us now.”
Near line of battle Georgia June 2d 1864
I will now pencil you a few lines that you may know that I am still well although we have been in some hot places during the last week We left Kingston on the 23rd and marched again on the right flank, keeping 5 to 10 miles west of the RR till the afternoon of the 26th, when we came up to the Rebs in force at a town called Dallas, 10 miles west of Marietta. The line of battle was then formed that night 15th Army Corps (Logan) on the extreme right; 16th (Dodge) next on our left 4th (Stanton), next 20th (Hooker), next and Schofield on the RR. This line of battle was over 10 miles long and fighting has been going on every day since some place on the line. Our brigade had
a very hot place till yesterday morning on the night of the 26th We built miles of breastworks and the next morning found us in three lines of battle The 111th had the front line; heavy skirmishing all day Co. C was on this skirmish line and had two men killed and two wounded The skirmishers are advanced 200 yards in front of the lines and lie behind logs and trees and shoot at the Reb skirmishers If an advance is being made the skirmishers give the alarm Well, at 4 o’clock P.M. the Rebs made a charge on our lines The center of the attack was on the 83rd Indiana joining us on the right Our works was built after night and we covered the clay over with brush and they did not know that we had anything of the kind They came up bravely and when within 75 yards and our skirmishers all in the word fire was given Our line for ¼ of a mile was
one sheet of fire. This broke their lines, but they rallied and on they came waving their flag, but we just more than shot them down Their flag fell several times They got it within 15 steps of our trenches when they fled They carried off many of their wounded, especially officers, but many wounded and killed fell into our hands They had all sorts of wounds One man had his leg shot clean off with a cannon ball I thought the roar of artillery and musketry at Resaca was bad enough but it was nothing to this. We had all advantages The 111th did not lose a man The 83rd Ind. lost 3 in the charge They also charged our lines about one mile to our left at the same time but were repulsed Reb loss is estimated at three thousand At dark of the 30th it came Co. B’s time to go on
skirmish line for the next 24 hours The night was pretty quiet but with day shooting commenced We were within 300 yards of their breastworks We had holes dug behind logs and trees and lay in them with our guns cocked and fingers on triggers And the moment they showed themselves we sent three or four shots at them At dark we were relieved None of us got hurt On the 1st of June there was several heavy attacks on the lines The 15th Army Corps relieved Hooker and he moved still farther to the left We are now lying back as reserve, another brigade being in the front Our brigade was in the front five days at Dallas and we were pretty well wore out sometimes up all night The Rebs made 7 charges after night one night mostly on Dodge This night we did not sleep any but I must stop Things are going very well for us now But it is thought by some that the fight will last sometime It is 25 or 30 miles to Atlanta. One of the McConnell boys the youngest was killed a few days ago Our reg. so far here has lost 5 killed 8 or 9 wounded Lieut. Col. Black being among the later His is a flesh wound in the leg We get plenty of rations The most of the boys are well I do not know when I will get a chance to mail this but will the first chance Write soon So good By one and all.
R G Ardry
Robert Ardry was born in Muskingum, OH. He enlisted in Lively Grove, IL, as a sergeant on August 13, 1862 in Co. B of the 111th Illinois Volunteer Infantry at the age of 27. He was captured at the Battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864. After being held at Andersonville Prison, GA, he was paroled on September 27, 1864. Following the war he lived in Oakdale, IL, and died May 30, 1922.
Letter written by Corporal Wesley Langs of Company F, 6th NY Cavalry, to his brother William, from Malvern Hill, VA. His regiment crossed the Rapidan River, and have been marching towards Richmond. He describes destroying the railroads and how they charged the Confederate fortifications at Richmond and held them for a day before being forced to leave. Langs has heard news of the Army of the Potomac, and how General Hancock has captured thousands of Lee’s men. He describes the massive casualties suffered since crossing the Rapidan, and how after one day of fighting he “saw the ground covered with dead Rebels.”
Malvern Hill, Va
May the 15 1864
Dear Brother as it has been a long time that you have not heard from me and it being the first opportunity that has presented itself to me I thought I would write and let you know that I am still alive and well I suppose you thought that I might be dead when you herd about the movement of our cavalry which I will give you a detail account We crossed the rhapadan [Rapidan] May the fourth and have been marching and fighting every day since Our movement has been on to Richmond We got in the rear of Lees army and distroit [destroyed] the rail roads which caried his supplies with all the supplies and ammunitions.
We came on a guard that was takeing three hundred of our men to Richmond and recaptured all of them On the twelfth we came to the fortifycations of Richmond and charged the works and took them We held them untill the next day when we were obliged to leave them We had a hard fight before we gave them up Now we lay on the old battle ground of Malvern Hill where we were two years ago – about six miles above Harrison’s Landing We herd this morning that the Army of the Potomac was driving the enemy and that General Hancock had captured twenty-five thousand men all of old Stonewall Jacksons Division We have lost some good men since we crossed the rhapadan. James Chilson is wounded He was struck in the shoulder with a ball
We do not expect to stay here any length of time The Gunboat is up here and General Smith is at Petersburg Everything is on the move We never saw [such] fighting before It is horible We fought in the woods one day and the next day I was over the same place and saw the ground covered with dead Rebels I want to see the end of this war as soon as posable [possible.] There has been blood enough spilt If we can get hold of the right ones we will soon put an end to such carnage As far as I can learn our armies are doing well I have not time [to] write all the news this time You must write often as you can and dont wait for me Direct as before Good by this time
Wesley Langs enlisted at age 25 on December 27th of 1861. He was promoted to corporal on November 1st, 1862, sergeant January 1st, 1865, and was captured at Trevillian Station, VA on June 11, 1864. He mustered out sometime in 1865.