Letter – Reuben Rhodes, 28 July 1863


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

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Alexandria VA. July 28

Mc Veigh Hospital 1863

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

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

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

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put on your letters

Mc Veigh Hospital

Alexandria VA

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

Letter – Cecil Fogg, 10 July 1863


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Letter written by Private Cecil Fogg of Company B, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to his father from a camp near Elk River, TN. Fogg comments on the weather and road conditions since leaving Murfreesboro, and mentions an encounter with Confederate troops at Beach Grove. He describes marching to Manchester and Tullahoma, and writes that they captured prisoners and took some corn meal to eat. They discovered that the Elk River bridge had been destroyed, and heavy rains made it too dangerous to cross on foot, so they were forced to travel out of their way to an older bridge. There are rumors of Union victories in locations such as Vicksburg or Richmond, though Fogg is skeptical.

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Camp near Elk River, Tenn. July 10th/63


   I have written 2 or 3 letters since we left Murfreesboro, but I was in such a hurry each time that I don’t know whether I told you anything or not. We would only have about 15 minutes’ notice to write our letters in, and there was no ink, and but little paper, etc. to be got. We sent back our knapsacks, and we could not carry such things very well. We had dry weather before we left Murfreesboro. We left there on the 24th of June. It commenced raining that day, and  rained nearly all the time for 3 days, and it rained every day but one since, till yesterday. There has been no rain here since day before yesterday, but the roads are awful, and teams can hardly get along at all. We were stopped 2 days at Beach Grove by the

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Rebels. On the 3rd night they slipped off in the dark and we did not discover it till about noon the next day. Our brigade went on 12 miles in the afternoon, and camped a few miles from Manchester. We went in to Manchester the next morning and stayed there that day and the next. The next day we started on toward Tullahoma, and went to within about 5 miles of the place. There were 2 showers that day, about as hard as I ever seen it rain. It rained about 2 hours each time, and we were in it all. We could hear the [rail]cars at Tullahoma all that night, and the next night. Our regt. was out skirmishing the day before, and the night that the Rebs left town. We could hear the cars all the time, but couldn’t tell whether they were leaving, or receiving reinforcements. We went into town the next day and camped about a mile west of town that night. The town is,

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or was before the war, about as large as Withesville. It looks like a town built in the woods. Where we were the ground is not needed [kneaded?]; the trees are left standing and the town is well shaded. We left there the next morning and came to Elk River, where we camped that night. We captured a few prisoners, and a large quantity of corn meal at Tullahoma, and a great deal of meal had been destroyed by the Rebs. We brought some of the meal along with us, and it came in very good play when our crackers ran out. The day we got to Elk River the bridge was destroyed, and we went up the river about 2 miles to a ford where the most of the 14th A. C. had crossed. It was pretty late when we got there, and we camped on the north bank that night, calculating to cross in the

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morning. But it rained that night and raised the river so high that we could not cross. Some regts. crossed, but they lost some men and a good many guns. The water came up to the necks of the shortest men, and it is a very swift stream. We had to go way around, about 4 or 5 miles, to get back to the old bridge, which the pioneers were repairing. We stayed there that night and the next day. They had got the bridge fixed up so that we could cross, and we crossed that morning (the 4th) and came 2 or 3 miles this side of the river and went into camp. We heard National salutes all around us and ahead of us. Besides that, we heard any amount of stories of great victories gained by our armies in the East, and Vicksburg, Richmond, etc. But we all had the privilege of believing just as much as we chose to of it. And I did not chose to believe any of it.

[rest of letter missing]

Cecil Fogg enlisted in Company B of the 36th OH Volunteer Infantry on August 12, 1861 at Marietta, OH at the age of 20. He served through his three year term of service and re-enlisted for the war, but was mustered out July 27, 1865 based upon a surgeon’s certificate of disability. The 36th served in West Virginia in 1861, and participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam as a part of the 9th Corps before being transferred west in January 1863. As a part of the Army of the Cumberland’s 14th Army Corps (George H. Thomas), the regiment fought at Chickamauga and later in the Atlanta and Savannah, GA (March to the Sea) Campaigns.

Letter – James Peckham, 23 July 1863


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Letter written by Colonel James Peckham of the 29th Missouri Infantry, to his mother from Jackson, Mississippi. Peckham writes that his regiment will be leaving Jackson the following day to head to Vicksburg. Battle, disease, and desertion have lessened the number of men in the regiment, so Peckham thinks that regiments will soon be consolidated. He describes Jackson as being in ruins, and says that many dwellings were ransacked or even burned. There are exceptions, however: Peckham writes of a splendid mansion run by an African American couple that the soldiers have decided to occupy. The Mississippi River has been opened by the Union troops. Peckham mentions Abraham Lincoln, and rumors of a fight in Pennsylvania.

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Jackson Mississippi July 23, 1863

My Dear Mother,

Kate enclosed your letter to her in one of her own letters to me. I am surprised you do not get letters from me for I write you quite often. I allow no month to pass by without writing to you & when in Camp, write you sometimes weekly. We leave here tomorrow morning, returning to the vicinity of Vicksburg. the summer campaign being ended. I suppose this Army will be re-organized and a general consolidation of Regiments soon take place. My Regt. numbers only about 200 effective men. Battle & disease have made sad havoc among us. In one change last December (29th Dec.) we lost in the charge on Chickasaw Bluffs in the Yazoo River 200 men in about 20 minutes time. In the swamps opposite Vicksburg we lost in January & February about 100 by disease. A number have deserted. I have only six officers left, but a full staff is yet at hand. So unless we are filled up by a draft we must be consolidated. In that case if I get mustered out, all right.

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Jackson is in ruins. Dwelling Houses are left standing but even some of those which were deserted have been burned. Many dwellings of the rich have been deserted by them & our soldiers have carried off everything or destroyed everything in them. There are one or two instances exceptions. One splendidly furnished mansion was entered by my major first. He found two negroes in charge a man & his wife, almost white. When I went in I had a guard put over the House & since we have been here, now five days I have been lying off there. Magnificent furniture – beds – carpets – chairs – ottomans – sofas – crockery – silverware – wines & liquors & cigars in the cellar &c. About five of us have been living there like lords until now when we are under orders to leave at 3 oclock tomorrow morning. The negro man & his wife go with use & they helped themselves to what they wanted. I let them have a wagon & they half filled it. A new & splendid Axminster carpet which has never been in use was boxed up & I told the man Jim to take it along for me. It is large

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enough for a room 35 feet by 25. It is the richest carpet you ever saw. After Jim & his wife left, the guard was withdrawn & in ten minutes thereafter our soldiers had “gutted” the house. This process of “gutting” a house is done up in wonderful style by our men. It is curious to see a house that has undergone it. Everything is turned “topsy turvy”. Beautfiul carpets cut up to make flooring for tents, Pianos smashed so that the Bonnie Blue Flag may never be played upon them again! Marble-top tables & costly mirrors in as many fragments as they can be broken. Bedsteads costing of great value scattered through the spacious yards, with shreds of bedding covering the ground. The secesh of this town wanted war & they have had it. Some of the people are going away with us. Some of the rich who are afraid to stay have opened their houses & told soldiers passing by to come in & take what they wanted as the couldn’t carry it all with them. Mississippi secesh are feeling what war is. As I write the sky is

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illuminated by the light of burning buildings and rebel government property. the Rebs in their revenge upon private citizens & in order that we might not enjoy it have destroyed nearly as much as we have. We have been a short time in this work of opening the Mississippi River, but it is opened. The free north owns it all again, thank God, from the mountains to the Gulf. We are anxious about affairs in Pennsylvania. We have heard nothing from there except that there was a fight & neither party got whipped. This is the very moment Lincoln ought to have 500,000 more men in the field. We are too slow. Give my love to all the folks. Kiss all the children for me, if it don’t take too much of your time, as they are becoming “Legion.” God bless you & all the rest. Good night. I am to be up at 1 oclock.

Affectionately Yours Ever


10 PM July 23/63

James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

Letter – James Peckham, 9 July 1861


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Letter written by Colonel James Peckham of the 8th MO Infantry to his mother. Peckham is writing from the St. Louis Arsenal, and has been in the city for three weeks. He writes that the volunteer force was comprised mostly of Germans, which was distasteful to the other (primarily Irish-American) troops and leading to dissension in the ranks. Thus Peckham organized an American regiment. Peckham is determined to lead the regiment as Lieutenant Colonel despite strong discouragement from “the big guns”. He has however asked Morgan L. Smith to be colonel of the regiment, as he feels he doesn’t know enough about the military to take the position himself.

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Saint Louis Arsenal July 9, 1861

My Dear Mother, The clock has just struck one – or rather the guard at the prison has struck once upon the high steel triangle which is suspended in the centre of the garrison. I feel very little like sleep – being too tired to sleep, for I have just come down from the city on foot the cars having stopped running at 11 1/2 oclock. I am here in Camp in the St. Louis Arsenal, which place is located on the line of the southern boundary of the city. I have been here for 3 weeks with my Regiment. I say “my Regiment” – for it is emphatically my Regiment. When I returned from the East i found the volunteer force here composed almost exclusively of germans, and a strong antipathy towards them on the part of the American portion of the population. Many men were drifting into rebellion through this antipathy. The consequence of this I took upon myself to organize an American Regiment. It was a big thing to undertake by one who has plenty of cash, and I hadn’t a solitary cent. But my little bed room was made the Head Quarters & by proper management I soon had a formidable

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organization. I picked out my men for Captains & Lieutenants, Major & Colonel, reserving the position of Lt. Col for myself. Of course I worked hard and ingeniously sent a messenger to Washington & was accepted by the War Department. It is four weeks since that acceptance & today we mustered in the ninth company with the tenth company on the ground to be mustered in tomorrow, which will thoroughly complete us. I have had no outside assistance from anybody. The big guns have never honored us with a single kindly recognition – on the contrary they have shown a disposition to throw cold water on our flaws because it was my work. But I want it distinctly understood that when I undertake a thing it must go through, no matter whether others assist or not. I was elected to the Legislature not by the assistance of the party leaders but in spite of them. I am Lieutenant Colonel of the best body of 1000 men in the western service not because of outside assistance but in spite of it. Since I have been in Saint Louis I have never yet received one solitary word of encouragement except from

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Frank Blair. On the contrary I have been snubbed and abused and slighted and injured by every mothers son of them who occupy position & have means. But they know me by this time. At the office of the Missouri Democrat one evening quite a crowd collected. The question was asked who is getting up this “American Zouave Regt” the answer was “that fellow Jim Peckham” Another remarked that I “was a d—-d busy fool & burning up with brass & impudence” One man spoke up, who was by no means my friend & said “Well! say what you please but if that d—–d Jim Peckham as you call him is getting it up it is going through all right, for he has got energy enough to move hell out of its place.” Now they may affect to despise me as much as they choose yet they have to cave whenever I undertake a thing & they know it. I think I can brag a little now for I have been so soundly abused & so meanly slighted that to brag once in the while is pardonable. This jealousy which is arrayed as a solid wall of stone masonry against me is what better men

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than myself have encountered & triumphed over and succumbed to, as well. I could have been Colonel just as well as Lt. Col but I did not know enough of Military to take such a position and so I got an old army officer to to be our Colonel. This week we will be uniformed & next week will obey marching orders. Our destination will be South West Missouri. I have not heard from you since I saw you at Mattewan in April. What is the matter? I hardly think you are so busy that you cannot drop me even one line to say you are well or unwell. Whenerver you do take a fit to write direct to St. Louis. Put the address in this form & it will reach me wherever I go,

Lieut Col James Peckham

American Zouaves 8th Regt M.V.

Saint Louis Arsenal

St. Louis

Give my love to everybody. May God bless you all & preserve our country. I am in first rate health,

Affectionately, Your son


James Peckham was a member of the Missouri Legislature before the Civil War and was a strident Unionist when the state was debating to secede or not. He left the legislature and organized the 8th MO Regiment. Peckham served as the 8th MO Regiment’s Lt. Col. and led the regiment at Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, TN, and at Jackson, MS. He later went on to lead the 29th MO. After the war he published a book on the history of the war in Missouri and General Nathaniel Lyon. He passed away in 1869 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

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).