Letter – Miles Turrentine, 14 April 1862


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Letter written by Sergeant Miles G. Turrentine of Company I, 1st AR Infantry, to Miss Bettie Waite of Fredericksburg, VA, from Corinth, MS. Turrentine thinks of Waite often, and requests that she reply even though he has heard she is engaged. If he is fortunate enough to survive the war, he plans on visiting her when he returns home. Turrentine then describes the battle of Shiloh in great detail, including the charges against the Hornet’s Nest. The Confederate troops suffered heavy casualties during the battle, including their Lieutenant Colonel. A friend of Turrentine’s was shot through the breast, while a ball blistered his own face. Turrentine writes that he often thought he wanted to be in a fight, but this one satisfied him.

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Corinth Miss April 14th 1862

Miss Bettie Waite

Fredericksburg, VA

Dear Friend. – no doubt you will be some what surprise when you break this Letter and find my name to it. I have taken my Seat more than once to write to you but not knowing whither my letter would be appreciated I could not write, but I have come to the conclusion to write you a few linds to let you know that I have not forgoten you I have often thought of you Since I left Virginia and while I am trying to write to you I wish that I was with you. I made up my mind the day that I left Fredericksburg. to. ask you permission to Correspond with you. but I had but little chance to speak to you about it, & I was informed by Some of your Friends that you was engaged to a Certain young man. & I came to the conclusion that it was asking to much of you, for a Correspondance but at this late hour I Shall ask of you for a correspondance for there is not a Lady living u[nder]

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the canopy of the Heavens, that I think more of than you it may possible that you think but Seldom of me, but I do assure you that I often think of you I was verry much disapointed when I was told that we could not go back to Virginia I had made up my mind to enjoy myself with you when I got back but if I should be so fortunate as to live through this horrible war I shall be shoor to pay you a visit for I shall never be satisfied until I See you all again. Well Miss Bettie I surpose you would like to something of the battle of Shiloah near Corinth Miss. Well in the first place on Friday previous to the fight our Regiment was on Picket not fare from the Federals Camps and on Saturday morning we was ordered to strike camp, and on Saturday eavning we camped in sight of the Yankeys fires, and on Sunday morning about six O clock our Brigade was ordered to make the attacke, the ball commence about seven O clockwhen the Yankeys fell back some two miles. when the fight grew verry hot on both sides, about nine O clock we got percession [possession] of the Yankeys camp the Enemy fell

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back some two miles, when the fight grew verry hot. our Regiment was ordered to charge on Some Yankeys that was in ambush which we did in good order the Yankeys was well fortified they drove us back with a heavy loss, we was ordered to charge the second time which we did but to no purpose we sustain a verry loss. we was ordered the third time to charge which we did, but my conscience we was repulsed the third time, in the mean time we was reinforsed when we made the fourth charge. we drove them back, but what did I see a sight that I hope never to see agane,, we lost our Leut Carnil [Lieut Colonel] & our major was wounded & two Captains was killed instantly.

we had some fifty men killed not less than 250 Two Hundred & fifty wounded. our little Company had four men killed & thirty one wounded & our Company, got off verry well for what some of the Companys did Capt Martin lost 11 men in less than teen [ten?] minutes & some forty wounded, all of his men was eather killed & wounded but five, Capt Jackson’s Brother-inlaw was verry badly wounded, & poor Thearedon Arnett, is mortally wounded & he is in the Yankeys hands

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I was with him on sunday night he sayed that he was willing to die he was shot through the breast he was shot down by me & at the same time a ball blistered my faice. I had two balls shot through my coat & my Gunn shot into. Miss Bettie I have often thought that I would like to get into a fight but this battle has satisfied me. I am willing to play quit with them;

tell Mrs. Hooten that I had five dride vanson hams that I intend to bring her but I had to give them away

when you see miss Kate give her my regards tell her that my brother [Allen A. Turrentine] is with me that I would like verry much for her to see him he is sayed to be much better looking than I am, [in pencil: not that I am good looking] give my love to Miss Mollie & her mother, also to Mr Hooten & Ms Hooten

Miss Bettie I take this liberty in writing to you, if you do not see propper to answer it you will please forgive me.

but I still think that you would like to hear from me if I did not think so, I would not write to you

Miss Bettie you can either make me miserable or you have it in your power to make me happy.

I shall look for a letter from you imeadilly [immediately] write to me at Corinth Mississippi to the care of Capt Little,

write soon to your Friend

Miles Turrentine

Cap Little

1st Reg Ark

Corinth Miss

Records on Miles G. Turrentine are somewhat conflicted. There is a grave marker for a M.G. Turrentine (1845-1870) at the Atlanta Methodist Church Cemetery, which is associated with a Miles Turrentine of the 1st AR Infantry (Colquitt’s). However, other records such as the 1850 (which can be matched to him by the inclusion of his brother Allen who served in the same company), 1860, and 1870 censuses, list his birth at 1837. Wiley Sword’s records state Turrentine was born in 1837 in VA, though all other documents state GA as his place of birth. If they are in fact the same, then Turrentine enlisted in Company I of the 1st AR Infantry at Monticello, AR on May 8, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant on April 1, 1862, and served through the war. He was wounded in action at Ringgold, GA on November 27, 1863. He was paroled at Shreveport, LA on June 30, 1865. In the 1870 census he is recorded as working as a merchant in Columbia, AR and appears to be married to Demaurice Turrentine and has three children. He dies later that year in 1870.

Allen A. Turrentine was born c. 1840. He enlisted at Monticello, AR on February 22, 1862. He was severely wounded at Murfreesboro, TN on December 31, 1862, and died of his wounds on January 4, 1863.

Letter – John Dahlgren, 25 April 1864


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Letter written by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, US Navy, to the editor of ‘The Baltimore American,’ C. C. Fulton, from Washington, D.C. Dahlgren is writing in response to a report published by the newspaper on the sinking of the USS Housatonic by the CSS Hunley in Charleston Harbor. Dahlgren hopes to meet with Fulton soon, though he is still depressed from the death of his son, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. Ulric was killed during the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. Dahlgren writes that those in Richmond prefer to ignore “the real purpose of the expedition, which was to release . . . the Union soldiers who are there dying.” He particularly blames the 9th Virginia Cavalry for his son’s death.

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Washington April 25


My Dear Sir,

I see in your of this morning a part of my Report – I hope you will some day find a little corner for the rest, because it somewhat concerns me personally –

You know how quietly I have continued to do my duty under all the miserable aspersions that were soon broadcast some months ago by as unpatriotic libellers as ever disgraced

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an honorable vocation

You did most handsomely strike a blow for what you knew I had seen to be right and just – thank you for it most gratefully –

But I must some day say a word for myself – the Doc. on the monitors will open, and another paper in reply to the Com. [committee] on the War will follow more to the point

I leave in a few days

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for Charleston – and will always be glad to see you at any time & have you provided for –

I had some hopes of seeing you, – but you know how heavy an affliction has fallen on me – a more brave & gentle spirit never gave limb & life to the cause than my son – They take care at Richmond to ignore entirely the real purpose of the expedition, which was to release from their vile dungeons the union soldiers who are

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there dying the most horrible deaths – but lie and desecrate the remains of the mere youth, whom in life they never faced with impunity – the 9th Vrg. that murdered him in midnight ambush, is the same brave chivalry, that he scattered like chaff in Fred. (Nov. 1862) and drove out though twice his number –

With much regard

I am most truly Yours

Jno A Dahlgren

Mr C.C. Fulton


John A. Dahlgren was a career US Navy officer. He was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1809 and joined the Navy in 1826. He was known as the “Father of American Naval Ordnance.” He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1863 and took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Following the Civil War he took command of the South Pacific Squadron from 1867 to 1869. He died in 1870 and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, PA.

Ulric Dahlgren was born in 1842, the middle son of US Navy Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren. In March of 1861 he joined the US Navy and in 1862 was transferred to the US Army and soon promoted to captain. He participated at the Battles of Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, and Gettysburg. He was shot and had to have his foot amputated following the Battle of Gettysburg. Once healed he returned to service under the command of General Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick led a unsuccessful mission to free Union prisoners of war being held in Richmond, VA. Dahlgren was killed on the mission in a night-time ambush. Newspapers reported his body was handled and buried disrespectfully, supposedly on account of papers found on his body additionally ordering the assassination on Jefferson Davis and burning of the city.

Letter – Christopher Gregory, 2 August 1863


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Letter written by Private Christopher C. Gregory of Company B, 38th VA Infantry of Brigadier General Lewis A. “Lo” Armistead’s Brigade, to Mr. Jason C. Swanson, from a camp near Culpeper Court House, VA. The letter describes the aftermath of Pickett’s Charge. Gregory writes they had a difficult time in Pennsylvania, experiencing foul weather and that they are currently being pursued by Union forces. He feels that the Confederate troops will never fight well again. Gregory thinks that their next destination will be Fredericksburg, VA. He briefly mentions women and marriage prospects, then continues to write about the heavy casualties suffered by the 38th VA. Gregory seems to be suffering from depression; he does not wish to have any company and writes that his “life is not much satisfaction.”

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August the 22 1863

Camp Near Culpeper, C.H. Va

Mr. Jas. C. Swanson Dear Sir

with plesur this Sunday morning to write you a few lines to in form you I am well. I hope theas may finde you injoying the same greate blesing as for news, I have now that is good we had a very Hard Time in pensylvania We hade so mouch bade wether it rained evry night and evry day but the beste crops I ever saw I never be fore saw surch crops of whete I wish we cold of stade thar. the ballance of this war but we have not gote trups [troops] or [???] the Yankees ar folliwing ous on the was very hevvy fyring laste night on the other side of the cothous [Court House?] I do not bleve our trups will ever fight Good again the[y] are to[o] dull I bleve Every Soulder thinks we are whipe [whipped]

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I am fearfull we ar whipe the yankees in pensylvania do not hartley [hardly] no [know] this war as [is] goin on bacon worth 12 c per pond [pound] whiskey 50 per gallon oats 25 to 35 per bushel corn per bushel 40 c evry thing lo and plenty of younge men. Substutes $300.00 and the niceste farms I ever saw but the parte of pensylvania we wente thrue [???] we pass & will for a longe time to com we birnt finces [burnt fences] our boys stold chickens & evry thing else I stole nothing but one old ruster [rooster] we march all night & all day I lifted one old ruster offor the ruste the yankees was all a round us all of the time it was verry [dangerous?] for a fellow to travel bout thar I wente to a old house & the[re] was 8 men in it up stars changing their dressing I reported it to a [???] who was closte by he put some gards over them I did not know whever the[y] was Yankees or not the yankees dide not [???] but one fire at my head one took a far shoute [shot] at my head he was in the mountains the was too

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withe one the [???] & one we have bin [told?] to leve hear for 3 or 4 days but have not gon yet I think we will leve hear soon I think we will go towards Fedricksburge I bleve if do go thar I will marry so[me] of them refigeses [refugees] the was marring all of the time when we was thar befor I have quite talking to the Girls I hartley ever lock at one I am seeing the dullis [dullest] times now I have ever have see[n] [since] the begin of the war for all of my company who I like ar cut down & ar no mor on this Erth. So I do not fele [feel] wright now with my company I cold once go to my company & talk with James [Burgess?] & pass off lonsome hourers & now my life is not mouch Sendes Jackson to me now I am onley living to see truble I now Hope this war will clos soon for I am wo[re] out with all things. I can not in joy my selfe mouch I am living a dull life hard life & I bleve this war will hold on a longe time yet. I met withe bill Gilberte when we started to merland [Maryland] he was in Culpeper then I stade with him one night

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He sed He was in hopes when we met again pece [peace] wold [would] be hear but he was kill in a few days after well [cook?] I mus[t] clos my badley writon letter I hope to hear form [from] you soon

Form C.C. Gregory To Ja C Swanson

Mr Jas. C. Swanson


Pittsylvania Cty


Christopher Columbus Gregory was born on February 17, 1837 in Pittsylvania, VA to Richard and Elizabeth Gregory. He was one of 10 children and joined the 38th VA Infantry with his brothers John, Nathan, and Richard. His brother Wilson was also in the Confederacy, perhaps the 18th VA Infantry. Christopher was the only one of his brothers to survive the war. After the war he became a blacksmith, married Mary Shough, and had at least 6 children. He died March 24, 1908.

Letter – Alfred Sofield, 12 April 1863


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Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife, from a camp near Belle Plain, VA. Sofield describes an army corps review by President Lincoln, where he was able to see the president as well as his wife and children. He writesabout his potential promotion to major, though Sofield received the majority of votes from the officers, it was Captain John Irvine who was elected to the position. Sofield describes a recent ride to Falmouth, and how he stood along the bank of the Rappahannock River and gazed towards Fredericksburg. The Confederate and Union pickets are on opposite sides of the river, within speaking distance. Sofield writes about visiting the Lacy House and White Oak Church.

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Camp near Bell Plain, Va

April 12, 1863

My Dear Wife                          

     I rec’d yours of the 7th inst. by this evening’s mail, and you were right in thinking I was anxious to hear from the boys. I wrote you a short letter on Tuesday last in which I stated that I was not well, or rather that I was lame. I have entirely recovered.

     On the 9th inst. our army corps was reviewed by the president. Our regiment left camp about 8 o’clock in the morning en rout for Bell Plain (about 4 miles distant) arrived about 10 o’clock, were about the first on the ground, which gave us an opportunity of seeing the other regiments as they came in, and I can assure you it was a sight worth seeing. Well, about 12 o’clock the president arrived. I think there was in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand present. Mrs. Lincon and her two sons were on the ground. Mrs. L. was in a carriage and I did not get sight of her. To see him she looked, but the boys were in review and they stopped just in front of our regt., and I being in front of the regt., had a good look at them, and could not discover any particular difference between them and others of their age

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The president was on horseback. He rode along the whole line with his hat off. I think he is looking better than when I last saw him at Washington. I would have given a good deal to have had you and the boys there on the occasion.

     You ask what about the major. Well, there is a considerably about it, and I will tell all about it. Soon after we came here the col. [Stone] was about to appoint Capt. Osborne [Co. F] to act as major until Speer returned. The capts had a meeting and agreed to tell Col. Dwight that that would not answer. We done so, and it blackened the game. A day or two after that we appointed another meeting to take into consideration what was best to do in the premises – as Col. Stone had issued an order saying that promotions should be made by appointment, and not according to seniority. Well, it so happened that I had to go on picket at the time of the second meeting, and my friend Capt. Irvine [Co. B] was also absent, but the other eight officers met and agreed to take a vote, agreeing that the man having the most votes should be declared the unanimous choice, and that they would pledge themselves to go in for his appointment. Well, they took a vote. There was two others nominated. I received six votes, and the others one each. They then drew up a writing according to the agreement and all signed it. Capt. McCullough took charge of the papers and

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says he publish it in his morning report book. That the book was taken to headquarters in the morning, and that was the last that was ever seen of it. Thus the matter rested until Major Speer was discharged. Then Col. Dwight said we must have an election, and appointed it on the 10th instant. I know that Col. Stone, & Col. Dwight were both in favor of Capt. Osborne, and I knew that they thought they could manage to have him elected, or else they would have stuck to their order – that is, have had it given by appointment. And thinking so, I concluded I would not take part in the election, but would do what I could to defeat Osborne. I attended at opening of the meeting, and stated to them that I was not a candidate, and should take no part in the election, but should insist upon my appointment by the governor, by virtue of being the senior captain, and also by virtue of having been declared the choice of the regiment by the former meeting. I then left, but before I went in Capt. Irvin & myself had done what we could to secure his election at the meeting, and we succeeded. Capt. Irvin was elected. Well, now the col. says he will not recommend Capt. Irvin at present, and I am of opinion he will not recommend anyone but Capt. Osborne. I have written to Wilson at Harrisburg a full statement of the case and asked him to attend to it for me. What the result will be remains to be seen.

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Yesterday I took a ride over to Falmouth. Falmouth is about 9 miles from our camp and about a mile up the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg. I went down the bank of the river opposite Fredericksburg, and stood there about an hour. It was a beautiful day and I had a splendid view of the city and surrounding country. The river at Fredericksburg is about as wide as the Tioga River at Tioga, could hear the Rebels talk quite plainly. Our pickets are on one side of the river and theirs on the other, in speaking distance of each other. They are not, however, permitted to talk to one another. While standing there, about 20 Rebels came down to the river with a fish net and they came out more than half way across. I visited the Lacy house about which you have read a considerable during the war, but what about it I can’t recollect. It is a very large house standing on the bank of the river opposite Fredericksburg. If you remember for which it is noted, tell me in your next. About half way between our camp & Fredericksburg stands the famous White Oak Church, and it is in perfect keeping with everything else in this country. It looks precisely like a moderate farmer’s barn; no steeple, and in fact has no resemblance to a church. I send you a piece of it; the piece I send is not oak, but the frame of the building is of white oak, and from that takes its name. No paymaster yet. expect him every day. I rec’d a letter from Capt. Bryden yesterday. He started for home on Saturday last. Platt Irvin visited me today. He is checking for a battle about one mile this side of Fredericksburg. He is getting $40.00 a month. I must now close, and the next letter I shall direct to Hillsboro. Kiss the boys & have them kiss you for me.

                                    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 – Emmet Irwin, 30 December 1862


Letter written by Corporal Emmet Irwin of Company C, 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) to his sister, from a camp near Falmouth, VA. In this letter, Irwin condemns General Burnside, and fumes about the events at Fredericksburg. His regiment has just received marching orders. He believes they will be moving towards Washington. Irwin writes of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. He writes disparagingly of their commanders, his impressions of them were not helped by the outcome at Fredericksburg. He claims that the newspapers tell only lies about the spirits of the soldiers. He is determined not to see any more “blood and carnage” unless forced.

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Camp near Fal Vir

                        Dec. 30th/62

Dear Sister

I thought I would write you a few lines and tell you not to send the box I sent for if it is not already sent. We have received marching orders to be ready in 4 hours with 3 days rations in haversack, 5 in wagons, and 10 days meat on the hoof. I received a letter from Philip the other day. He is at Acquia Creek, Assistant Superintendent for unloading provisions. I have not see James since Christmas. We received the gloves.

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I think when we move it will be towards Washington. Excuse bad writing as it is written in a hurry.


     I received a letter from Nathaniel yesterday. He and his family are well. The namesake of mine, he says, I may be proud of. He begins to walk and talk. As I was to[o] late for the mail this morning, I did not put it in the bag. We have just received the news of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. This and the prospects now before us makes most of the men feel very disheartened. I have allowed some ideas to settle in my noodle though the incapacity of our numerous commanders

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that I would have banished at the first thought two months ago. And the Fredericksburg disaster has in no way lessened these ideas. I feel as if I had gone through all these hardships and danger, witnessed scenes to[o] direful for the pen to tell, and all for what – naught! And the papers tell such notorious yarns, such as the army in the best of spirits and anxious to be again led against the enemy’s of their country, and other to[o] numerous to mention. Gen. Sumner is right when he says there is to[o] much croaking and want of confidence. At the present time we have in the field without the least doubt two [soldiers] to their one, and yet they keep us at bay at every point. I have seen all the blood and carnage I

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ever hope to see. In short, I am determined not see much more unless forced to it. If our commanders felt as I feel, I think they would take a hold with more energy. They act to me as if they were satisfied they have a good position; nothing to do, big salary, and live like kings, and the longer it lasts the better for me. The weather at present looks like snow. We have had very warm [weather] for the last two weeks. Three of us have built a log house, and pass our time very comfortably in it. So much so we are loath to leave it. Please send me a package of envelopes and a quire of commercial note, as I am entirely out, and cannot get any here. It can be sent by mail. Enclose also some postage stamps. I will try write

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again the first opportunity. With this I close, remaining with much love,      Your brother, Emmet

    Give my love to all inquiring friends

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Evening still finds us in camp, but every prospect of moving the morrow. It is now raining, and this also bids fair for continuing, which will make very hard traveling. The weather has been extremely favorable for winter campaigning; the roads being as yet quite hard. It was almost impossible for a man to get around last year at this time. Nathaniel’s wife thinks I must be pretty good pluck to get in all the engagements. She says if she was in my place, she would be sick once in a while, at about the time there was to be a fight. I don’t know

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than about it would be a good plan, particular if I thought we were to be led in another Fredericksburg affair. For my part, I don’t see where Gen. Lee’s eyes could have been there, as they had us in a much worse place than we had them at Antietam, as they had their picked position at both places. The best idea that I can give you of their position at Fredericksburg is that of a range of hills, semi-circle in shape, and the city in the hollow and center. Here our troops laid in the streets so thick that it would be more of an accident if there was not some killed or wounded

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at every shot of the enemy’s. Upon the crest of the hills is where their earthworks were thrown. The regt. was never before in such a hot place. For 2 o’clock until 12 P.M. the regt. laid in a ravine, death staring us square in the face. For at the head of the ravine they had a gun, from which every shot would strike in our ranks. That you imagine the pluck that a person must have. I will tell you the effect of a single shot. It struck in the company on our right killed 4, wounded 6, & killed 1 in the 34th N.Y.V., and wounded 3. The gun that these shots came from we could see very plainly, and it is only due to our artillery

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that there were no more of us killed. The shots from our cannon drove the enemy from their gun. I think the correspondent of the N.Y. paper that says the troops have unbounded confidence in Gen.Burnside better not let himself known if he does not want some very unpleasant epithets applied which are now saved for the commanding general. But I have already written more than I intended, and will close hoping that I may meet with the same success as heretofore written, the move be backwards or forwards. 

     Remembrance to all

From Your Affec



Emmet M. Irwin, aged 19, enlisted in Company C, of the 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) on May 21, 1861. He was promoted to corporal in 1862, then assigned to Co. C of the 12th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps due to disability in 1863. He was discharged from the V.R.C. on May 23, 1864, at the expiration of his three year’s enlistment. He participated in the following battles: 1st Bull Run, Edward’s Ferry, Yorktown, West Point, Fair Oaks, Seven Day’s battles, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Letter – Emmet Irwin, 5 December 1862


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Letter written by Corporal Emmet Irwin of Company C, 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry), to his sister, dated December 5th, 1862, from Fredericksburg, VA, after a major Union defeat. Irwin describes the fighting at Fredericksburg as the hardest he ever saw, “Antietam being but child’s play in proportion.” He writes disparagingly of General Ambrose Burnside’s tactics that led to the loss of at least 5,000 men.

                   Fredericksburg, Virginia Monday, 15th/62

Dear Sister

I take the present moment to send you a few lines on some paper that is not very clean, which you must excuse as I have no other with me. I have once more passed through battle unscathed. This present one has been the hardest one I ever saw, Antietam being but child’s play in proportion. I think this is the tightest place I was ever in, and one of the most foolhardy movements of the war. Gen. Burnside advance to the edge of the river and squat down for two weeks and let the enemy build strong works within the reach of his guns during the daytime. Is a very singular piece of strategy. But this is not all. He goes and advances troops in what I call a human slaughter house with but little prospect of success, loses not less than 5,000 men, and then fell back across the river, as this morning (16th) finds us again in our old camp. James was over the river, but I believe not engaged. We both wrote to you the 10th. No more at present.

You must excuse dirty paper, as it is all I have. Also bad writing, as it is written on my knee.

     I will write again soon and let you know whether we change our position. I take the New York Times.

Love to all from your brother,                  Emmet

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Mrs. Helen S. Lounsbery

New Milford

Orange Co. N.Y.

Emmet M. Irwin, aged 19, enlisted in Company C, of the 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) on May 21, 1861. He was promoted to corporal in 1862, then assigned to Co. C of the 12th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps due to disability in 1863. He was discharged from the V.R.C. on May 23, 1864, at the expiration of his three year’s enlistment. He participated in the following battles: 1st Bull Run, Edward’s Ferry, Yorktown, West Point, Fair Oaks, Seven Day’s battles, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Letter – Clark Edwards, 20 May 1863


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Letter written by Colonel Clark S. Edwards of the 5th Maine Infantry, to his wife. Edwards laments about the transfer of General William T. H. Brooks. There is trouble in the regiments, and Edwards fears that more men may leave. He mentions that the Confederates will likely let his regiment stay in their current location. Edwards says he intends to return home in June, but cannot be certain. He briefly mentions the casualties suffered at the battle at Chancellorsville.

The letter continues on May 21st. His division was reviewed by General John Sedgwick, and Edwards hopes the General will stay as he is discouraged by the loss of so many good commanders. He particularly feels that a great injustice was done when General McClellan was removed, and that the battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville would have had better outcomes if McClellan was still in charge.

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Wednesday Evening

May 20th 1863

My Dear Wife

     Yours of May 14th arrived tonight. I was very glad to hear from you and that you were all well. I have just come in from Gen. Brooks’ headquarters. He leaves in the morning for Washington. But where he goes from there I know not. He is taken from this division. He resigned soon after our last fight, but they would not accept of his papers – some trouble but I cannot tell what. He is a very fine officer and we meet with a great loss. All of the field officers of our brigade were there, or nearly all. While we were there, the field officers of the Jersey Brigade came, also the band. It was quite a gathering, I can assure you. I am afraid that there will be more leaving, as there is some trouble at the bottom. But I dare not say what I think about the matter. We have had three cases on trial today. One was cleared, the other two convicted. I am getting to be quite a judge, but I will let that slide and answer your letter. One thing I like to have forgotten – that is the Vermont Brigade, the one Brooks commanded before he commanded us, presented him with a silver set of eight pieces; cost not less than a thousand dollars.

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On each piece is the general’s name and opposite of his name on the other side is one of the battles he led the brigade in. I did not look to see if there were any two pieces alike – that is the names of the battles. I think you would like to be Mrs. Brooks as far as the silver set is in the matter. You say in yours that Jas. Brown is almost crazy. I do not wonder at it, as it is quite different from what it would be for anyone to be taken away after a sickness at home. You speak of Monroe Stevens, but I think I wrote you in my letter of yesterday of him. You say you are in suspense about us crossing the river. I think I wrote you in one of mine soon after we got back to camp my opinion about crossing again. If the Rebels will let us remain where we are, it will be quite as well, as I think they will do. You look back and see my letters & you will see that I always guess about right. You speak of snow now in Maine – what are you made of? Why I noticed the apples are as large as potato balls here. I should think you would go out South & live. I am afraid your garden will get weedy if you wait for me to go home and take care of it. You say you will look for me about June. Well, I mean now to go home then, but still everything is uncertain in this war. You say our corps had the worst of it. Yes, we lost nearly one half of all the loss & still

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there is some fault found with us for not doing more. I say now as I said in one of mine to you a few days ago, it is a great wonder we were not all taken prisoner. You asked if the ham has arrived as yet. No, but it will come sometime, so I do not care. I am sorry you should feel so about me. I sent word to Charles to write you, as he was on this side of the river at the time the fight was in progress.

     Thursday afternoon, [May 21, 1863] It is hotter than that place we hear so much told of. We have just come in off a review. Our division was reviewed by Genl. Sedgwick. The gen. is looking finely. I hope they will not take him from us as they have Genl. Brooks. We have been quite unfortunate in losing our commanders. I sometimes get almost discouraged in this matter. This changing of commanders is dangerous business. I think the country must see that they made an awful blunder when they removed Little McC. Where is there a man who can say he thinks that there has been as much accomplished now as would have been had Little McC been in command. I do not wish to complain, but I feel that great injustice was done McC, and that thousands and tens of thousands of widows & orphan children have and will be made by that great blunder. What has

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been gained since McC left us? At Fredericksburg, first, our loss was more than ten thousand, and at this fight [Chancellorsville] it will reach full fifteen more. Twenty-five thousand lives lost to gratify a few offenses to McClellan. Where is there a man that will say that the army at the time that McC left it was not in better condition, better spirits, and in fact better in anything than now? I would not have you understand me that we have had twenty-five thousand killed outright, but that number taken from our army by being killed, wounded, and prisoners. I believe that if McC had kept the command of the army that he would have given them battle at Waterloo or Culpepper, and that we would have been victorious. He was to have given them fight in there three days from the time they relieved him of his command. He would then taken them on equal ground. His army had been victorious in their late fight in Maryland [Antietam],and I have no doubt but he would have routed the whole of Lee’s army. But how has it been since? Why we fought them twice in their fortifications and been repulsed in both battles. Anyone can see that we would have been much better off to have fought up near the Orange & Alexandria R.R. than here. Our army has not been increased since McC left it, but has lost more than twenty-five thousand. Now would it not have been better to have fought the Rebels where McC proposed to? – on equal ground with our army one third larger than it is now. Any man of common sense will say yes. It is experience dearly bought. Love to all.


Clark Swett Edwards, was born March 26, 1824 in Otisfield Maine. On June 24, 1862 at the age of 37 he enrolled as captain of Company I, 5th ME Infantry, in Bethel, ME. He was promoted to major on July 1, 1862, following the severe losses of the 5th ME at Gaines Mill. Edwards was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Sept. 24, 1862, and colonel January 8, 1863. He was mustered out of the service on July 27, 1864, at the expiration of the regiment’s three years of service. Edwards was brevetted brigadier general on March 13, 1865 for war service. He died in Bethel, ME on May 5, 1903. Many of his letters have survived, and a large grouping are in the Peace Collection at Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas.

Letter – Clark Edwards, 14 January 1863


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Letter written by Colonel Clark S. Edwards of the 5th Maine Infantry to his wife, from the headquarters of the 5th ME Volunteers near White Oak Church, VA. Edwards begins by expressing gratitude at still being alive when so many others have died in battle or from disease, and states how much he misses his wife and children. Edwards lists the battles in which he has fought with the 5th Maine, including West Point, Gaines Mill, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. He describes his daily life in camp, and that for the next three days he will be the field officer of the day while the regiment goes on picket. The papers have reported a bill to consolidate the regiments, and Edwards says he will leave if that happens.

A second part of the letter is dated January 15th, 1863. Edwards claims though he believes slavery is wrong, he feels it is none of the North’s business to meddle with the affairs of the South. However, now that the South has rebelled, the North must bring the states back together. Edwards bitterly writes of how unworthy officers are being promoted due to their political ties, and cites Henry Halleck as a prime example.

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Head Quarters 5th Me. Vols.

Camp near White Oak Church, Va.

                                  Jan. 14th, 1863

My Dear Wife

     I sit down to write you this evening with a heart overflowing with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for protecting and carrying me through the past year, while thousands of this army have been killed in battle – with prospects one year ago as bright as mine. And I feel thankful for His kindness in preserving me in health and strength while tens of thousands of this army have been cut down by diseases; while I have never seen yet a sick day. One year ago tonight I was with you at home, as I left on the fifteenth for Augusta. Little then did I think that one long year would pass before I should see you again. You may think I have lost that feeling which should always animate a father’s breast for his wife and little ones, but I can truly say that my dear

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family is always uppermost in my mind. Not a day nor an hour but some incident reminds me of beloved ones far away. Glad would I be if I could but press those little ones to my breast this night, but that cannot be. What a change has taken place in this the last year. When I look back, it seems like a dream. I can hardly realize it, but still there has been some reality, in the fight of West Point, Gaines Mill, Golding Farm, Charles City Cross Roads, Crampton Pass, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and a sprinkling of Malvern Hill & the last Bull Run, all of which I have taken part in. I think I have done my part of fighting. But few officers can boast of taking part in so many fights. No man can say in the 5th Maine that he has been in every fight of the regt, and has not seen a sick day. I am probably all the officers or man but what has [not] been off duty at some time on ac[count] of sickness, and I think but few can say what I can in regard to drink. Not a drop of

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the critter have I taken. But then I am not perfect, but far from it. When I look back, I can see many things I have done that I ought not, and many things undone which should have been, but we live to learn, and learn to live – or at least such has been my life. My life for the past year I am willing to have it published to the world. In battle I have always looked after the interest of others, regardless of my own in a great measure. But I will not boast of my deeds. I have done no more than any soldier should do in his duty to his country. But I must leave of this style of writing – you will say I am growing sentimental. I expect you will want to know how I pass my time now. I will tell you. I get up at eight, eat breakfast at nine, have the camp policed up, and the work done around camp till twelve. Then the men eat their dinner. I eat mine at half past one, drill the battalions from two till four, then have dress parade, supper at six, read & write till ten

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go to bed ½ past ten. That has been the way I have done for the past week. In the morning our regiment goes on picket for three days, but I shall not stay with them but little, as I am to be the field officer of the day for the next three days, and shall stop nights at my tent. I went to Falmouth tonight to look after that fatal box, but could not find it, so have now given up in full. I still wear the old blouse with a plenty of shirts, so I plan to keep comfortable. I have sent to W[ashington] some five times after it. I have also been more than one hundred miles, so I think I have some little reason to be cross about it. If it had come, or been sent at a reasonable time after I sent for it, I should have gotten it, but two months had passed from the first letter I wrote before it left Maine, and then we were away from Washington so far that it could not be looked after. I do not blame you, but those that had the job to get it. But we will let that pass now, henceforth and farewell. Your last letter that I received was dated ten days ago, and was answered six days

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[ago], so I have none now to answer. I am in hopes I may get one in the morning before this leaves. I wrote you or the boys about having an overcoat the same pattern of the one I now have, but they never sent me word why they did not get it up. But as it is almost spring, I shall not need it, so will let it go now, or if I ever get a chance to go home, I can then see to it. I see by the papers that they are getting a bill [up] to consolidate the regt. – that is put two or three into one. If so, I will leave the show any way, as it will be an honorable way to get out. I am in hopes of getting another commission before the time arrives, so as to go home as high as any of the Bethelites. I expect everything has changed some in Bethel within the last year. Write me of the most important changes. I expect the little ones have gone along some in size. Nelley must be quite a miss, & Frank a big boy. Waldo, I expect goes over to see Adel Twitchell as usual. Kate I hope is courted up

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to her knees, and I presume she is. Massie & Bertie are quite [the] boys now, I suppose as a year makes a great odds with such little ones. I feel somewhat older than I did when I came into to the show, but still I am well and hearty; fat as a hog, and about as putrid. Thursday morn., Jan. 15th 1863, The mail has just come in and it brought a letter from you to me. It is dated Jan. 9th. The thing you speak of I have received, that is the hat & scarf. You spoke of my being changed in politics, but it is not so. I am the same as ever. I was never a negro worshiper. I believe the principle of slavery is wrong, but it was none of our business to meddle with slavery in the states where the constitution planted it, or rather where it was planted before the constitution was passed. Let the North look after her own affairs, and she has enough to attend to. If she had always done that this war could have been avoided. But now as the South has violated the constitution and has rebelled against one of the model governments of the world, I say if she cannot be brought back by an honest promise of the North not to meddle with her states’ rights, why then use all the powers of the North to do it. I go for giving the South a chance to repent once. If she does not, make her if it takes all the treasure of the North

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and a million more men. But what I am sick of [is] this, of having men to fill offices that are not worthy of the place. There is Halleck, commander in chief of all the armies of the North. What is he? It he a warrior? No, never as yet saw the first battle – never under fire in his life. Is he the man for the place? It is some political favorite that gets these places. There is where all these blunders have arisen. For instance, I will give you an illustration. Yesterday, Capt.[James A.] Hall of the 2d Battery called on me. He is one of the best officers from Maine, puts on no airs, but goes in for work & has been in more fights than any other officer in any of the Maine batteries, but still is hardly known outside of his division; is not a political aspirant. Now for another capt. of one of the Maine batteries, his name is [O’Neil W.] Robinson, from one of the rural towns back in Oxford Co., Maine. He is a candidate

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for what  – it should be for a dishonorable discharge for cowardice from the service – but to the contrary, it is for a brigadier general. And I would not be at all surprised if he gets it. That is what a man by the name of Kimball is now at W[ashington] fixing. Is it to be wondered at that many of the battles come off as they do under such officers? As I write you, I am sick of the show. Who would wonder at it. Give us the men we want for leaders and the thing will be cleaned up. But force generals on us to serve under, that the latest recruit from Maine can teach, and who wonders at the result. When I tell you I am sick, I tell you the truth. Not of disease, but of heart. When McClellan was removed and Burnside put in his place, [that] was the first attack. But after the repulse at Fredericksburg it sunk deeper. But now if I could see any improvement I should get better. But when I see saints removed and the broken down politicians of the North replace them, it causes my

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heart to ache. Only give us McClellan, or more of his stamp, and victory is sure to follow. But force on us the political aspirant and the broken down demagogues of the east, and we are gone. I reflect and then rave. I rave and then reflect. But for no purpose, as such men will have sway. Is the thing to always go on in this way? If so, I am like the comedian Jerry Blossom, I want to go home. I am willing to fight if I can see the least prospect ahead, but for such generals we have already had enough of. Lord deliver us from any more such. But I have written more on this than I intended. Say to Kate that I know of no one by the name of Billy Toohey. I have not sent my trunk. I intend to go with it soon myself. As for money, I have but about $25. The government is now owing me some $400. It has cost me much more to live now than before I was a field officer. But I will try to

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save something for a rainy day. Ask the boys if the greenback is worth a premium. If so, in my next payment I would exchange it in Boston or Portland for bank paper, as that will pay my debts. You say in yours that not a cent of rent do you get, but I suspect Ayres gets it. So it is just as well, as it helps to pay [my debt?]. Do give my regards to Dr. Line. Say to him I will never forget his kindness, and I thank him a thousand times for his good wishes toward me. I have written much more than I intended to at first. My regt. has just gone on picket, and I must go over the line. I have written the last part of this in a great hurry, and please correct it before you read it to anyone. I have written the sentiments of my heart. I will be honest in expression. Let them say I have changed, or what not, I have tried to do my duty faithfully in all things, but have some regrets for things – that is your part.

             Regards to all,    


Clark Swett Edwards, was born March 26, 1824 in Otisfield Maine. On June 24, 1862 at the age of 37 he enrolled as captain of Company I, 5th ME Infantry, in Bethel, ME. He was promoted to major on July 1, 1862, following the severe losses of the 5th ME at Gaines Mill. Edwards was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Sept. 24, 1862, and colonel January 8, 1863. He was mustered out of the service on July 27, 1864, at the expiration of the regiment’s three years of service. Edwards was brevetted brigadier general on March 13, 1865 for war service. He died in Bethel, ME on May 5, 1903. Many of his letters have survived, and a large grouping are in the Peace Collection at Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas.

Letter – Rufus King, 27 July 1862


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Letter written by Brigadier General Rufus King to Colonel George D. Ruggles, Chief of Staff of the Army of Virginia, from the division headquarters in Fredericksburg, VA. King is writing to report to the headquarters of Major General John Pope on the reconnaissance march of General John Gibbon’s troops towards Orange Court House. King writes that Gibbon has already returned to the camp, and has reported that the forces of Confederate generals Beverly H. Robertson, Richard S. Ewell, and Stonewall Jackson are located near Orange Court House and Liberty Mills. King states that the Confederates were expecting an attack from Warrenton or Madison Court House, rather than Fredericksburg.

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Division Head Quarters

                               Fredericksburg, July 27,‘62

                                     11 A.M.

Col. Geo. D. Ruggles

Chief of Staff, Army of Virginia

Washington, D.C.


                  I telegraphed yesterday to Head Quarters the result, as far as ascertained, of our expedition in the direction of Orange Court House. The column bivouacked, last night, about 18 or 20 miles from here, and, early this morning, resumed its march for camp. The advance is now within a few miles of town. They have met with no casualties. I will transmit Gen. Gibbon’s detailed report of the movement, as soon as it is rendered.

              Gen. Gibbon himself   has this moment

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returned. He confirms substantially what I telegraphed, to wit: that Gen. Beverly H. Robertson, with two or three regiments of cavalry, is within a mile of Orange C. H.  Gen. Ewell, with a force of all arms, three miles beyond; and the rest of [Stonewall] Jackson’s forces stretched along for six miles towards Liberty Mills. The whole force is estimated at 25 to 30,000 men. They were anticipating an attack from the direction of Warrenton or Madison Court House, and did not expect an advance from this direction.

                                Very respectfully,

                                       Rufus King

                                          Brig. Gen. Cmdg.

General Rufus King, was the Union general who organized the famous Black Hat or Iron Brigade. In July of 1862 Gen. McDowell told King to “use every effort and employ all the means in your power to obtain… reliable information of the enemy at Louisa Court House and Gordonsville [OR’s 1-12-3-498].” King chose John Gibbon, now commander of the “Black Hat” brigade, for this mission. Gibbon was told to “ascertain what Confederate forces are at Orange Court House and Gordonsville.” Gibbon’s troops consisted of a detachment from the Iron Brigade (2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin Inf., Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery) and several other units from King’s division (3rd Indiana Cavalry, and Co’s. A,C, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters).

Letter – Thomas Searingen, 9 March 1863


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Letter written by Captain Thomas Brent Swearingen, Captain and Assistant Adjutant General, 3rd Brigade, P.R.C., to William Dehon from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Searingen collected the personal belongings of Dehon’s son, Lieutenant Arthur Dehon, after he was killed in action during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Searingen is returning the belongings to Dehon, and expresses his sincere sympathies at Dehon’s loss.

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Pittsburgh Pa. Mar 9/63

William Dehon, Esq.

Boston, Mass.

Dear Sir,

On the battlefield at Fredericksburg I found the body of your son, the late Lt. Dehon, and had it moved to the side of my Genl. (Jackson) [Brig. General Conrad Jackson] who was killed about the same time. I took from his person all that I could conveniently carry, but being wounded & taken prisoner shortly after I regret to say everything except a gold watch & chain & two hdkf’s [handerchiefs] were lost or stolen. I was released a short time ago, & have not ascertained

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your address to which I have this day forwarded (express) the articles mentioned.

I knew your son but a short time, sufficiently long, however, to become very much attached to him, & to learn his many manly virtues. He was brave, generous, & patriotic, & fell in the discharge of his duty. Although a stranger, I cannot withhold an expression of my sympathy for you in this bereavement.

I am sir,

Your Obdt. Servt.

T. Brent Swearingen

Capt. & Asst. Adj. Genl. 3rd Brig, P.R.C.

Thomas Brent Swearingen, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant of the 38th PA Infantry on July 27, 1861. He became captain, acting assistant adjutant of volunteers on August 8, 1862, and served on the staff of Brigadier General Conrad Jackson at Fredericksburg, where Jackson was killed and Swearingen captured. After returning to duty, Swearingen was breveted major on March 13, 1865 for his service. He was mustered out on October 11, 1865.

Arthur Dehon was William Dehon’s son and a 2nd Lieutenant in Webster’s 12 MA Infantry. He was killed in action at Fredericksburg.