Tuesday, 1865 February 14, Petersburg, Virginia: Two Valentines from the Petersburg Front

[Valentine letters and poems to Virginia sisters Barbara and Rebecca Hedrick from an anonymous Confederate soldier in Army of Northern Virginia.]

Letter 1 of 2: “My mind is to marry and never to part . . .”

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
Feb. the 14th 1865
Miss Barbara this will inform
you that I am still in the land
with the living and doing well
hoping you are blest with all the
comforts needful to make you happy.
I have no news to interest you with.
I will send you a present to
let you know I am ever mindful
of you believing you are the
same to me. [As] it is raining and
cold I will desist for the present
leaving my name blank for you to
guess for. So no more at present but
remain as ever yours till death. good
bye till I see you.

Oh Barbara, Oh Barbara would you think it unkind
For me to address you and tell you my mind
My mind is to marry and never to part
The first time I saw you, you wounded my heart.

Letter 2 of 2: “When this you see remember me . . .”

Camp near Petersburg, Va.
Feb. the 14th 1865
Miss Rebecca this will inform
you that I am well and as gay
as a lark hoping you may get
this in due time and it may
find you quite lively. I have
nothing in the way of news to
interest you with. I merely write to
you and Send you this present
as a token of mutual friendship
hoping that such exists between
us and that you will keep it
until I come and then I will
tell you all about it for a
puzzle. I will leave my name
blank and see if you will
have it guessed by the time I get
there. I remain as ever yours

When this you see remember me
Though many miles apart we be
For I will ever think of you
And hope our days apart are few.

[Editor: The reverse of both letters have nearly identical hand-colored drawings of pairs of turtle doves, intertwined hearts, and vases of flowers; in Barbara’s letter “Army of Northern Virginia” is surrounded by flowers. The Hedrick family lived on a farm near Cross Keys, Rockingham County, Virginia; according to the 1860 U. S. Census it included Barbara A., age 19, and Sarah R. [Rebecca?], age 15; fifteen years after the war (1880) both were still unmarried and living with their parents in Rockingham County. Apparently the soldier did not marry either Hedrick sister; perhaps he did not survive the war.]

MSS 38-665

Sunday, 1865 January 22, [Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana]: “I . . . ask a leave of absence . . . to visit my home in Guadalupe County Texas, distant about 550 miles.”

[A Texas cavalry colonel stationed in Confederate Louisiana requests a leave of absence.]

Head Quarters, 1st Texas Cavalry, Natchitoches Parish,
Louisiana, January 22, 1865

Lt. Col. John N. Gallaher
Assistant Adjutant General, District [of] West Louisiana

Having been in the service for nearly four years—during which time I have never been absent from my post except when sick—my business at home requires my attention. I therefore respectfully ask a leave of absence for 60 days to visit my home in Guadalupe County Texas, distant about 550 miles. Col. Lykens [James B. Likens/Liken] is now on duty in command of the Brigade. Col. [Alexander Watkins] Terrell’s  leave expires on the 28th instant. [Editor: The term “instant” is an adjective for ‘of the current month.’] Lt. Col. [Robert A.] Myers is present for duty with the Regiment. Major [Edward] Beaumont’s leave expires on the 26th instant (though he may be absent beyond that time on account of his wound). A more favorable
time for my absence will probably not offer soon, I therefore trust that this application will meet with your approval, and should the spring campaign open before the expiration of my leave I shall return promptly to my command.
I wish also to lend my assistance to Lieut. D___(?) [Andrew Daley?] in returning
absentees to the Regiment.
I have the honor to be very respectfully
Your [Obedient Servant]
William O. Yager
Colonel, Commanding Regiment

[Editor: Yager’s request was later approved by District of West Louisiana commander Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner (1823-1914) during February 1865—but only for a thirty-day leave of absence. Later that same month Brigadier General Arthur Pendleton Bagby Jr. (1833-1921) “earnestly requested” Buckner extend Yager’s leave to sixty days, praising him as “an officer of distinguished merit.” The request was also endorsed by brigadier generals Joseph Lancaster Brent (1826-1905) and Allen Thomas (1830-1907); Terrell, Bagby and Brent were assigned to duty as general officers (subsequently, in Bagby’s case, to that of major general) by appointment of General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department though their ranks were never confirmed by the Confederate Senate.
William Overall Yager (April 3, 1833-January 20, 1904) was born in Luray, Page County, Virginia. After tutoring at home, he graduated from Virginia Military Institute (1852), ranked 5th out of a class of 56, and studied law at the University of Virginia (1852-1854), earning a certificate of distinction for attaining the first division in the junior class of the University’s law school; during the 1850s-1860s Yager went west for his health and practiced law and served as a probate judge, notary public, militia colonel, federal postmaster and county surveyor in Kansas and Texas. Prior to taking command of the 1st Texas Cavalry (pursuant to an October 9, 1863 special order), he served as a lieutenant and acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch (1811-1862) in December 1861 and as a lieutenant colonel and acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of General Hamilton P. Bee (1822-1897) during January 1863. He was promoted to full colonel in April 1864 and paroled at San Antonio, Texas, on September 2, 1865. After the war Yager was a lawyer, banker, manufacturer and represented Page County in the Virginia General Assembly’s House of Delegates 1875-1875 and 1879-1880. He was the county’s superintendent of schools during the 1880s. Yager died in 1904 and was buried at the Yager Cemetery in Luray, Page County, Virginia. A decade after his death, at the request of his widow Mary E. Rhodes Yager (1842-1932), the U. S. War Department provided her a summary of his Confederate military service.
The 1st Texas Cavalry was also designated “Colonel Augustus Buchel’s [and later], Lieutenant Colonel William O. Yager’s 1st Mounted Rifles,” “1st Regiment, Texas Cavalry (Yager’s) (1st Mounted Rifles)” and “First Texas Cavalry Regiment.” John N. Gallaher was assigned to the staff of General Buckner during February 1862. The District of West Louisiana was part of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department (May 1862-May 1865) which included Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, western Louisiana and the Indian Territory; the District of West Louisiana and Texas (authorized May 28, 1862) was among its military districts. At the time of Yager’s leave request General Edmund Kirby Smith (1824-1893) had commanded the department since 1863 (colloquially known as “Kirby Smithdom” because of the autonomous civil, executive and military authority he wielded over this vast and isolated military theater after the Union Navy’s control of the Mississippi River made communications with Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, impractical if not impossible).]

MSS 3721-A

Sunday, 1864 December 25, [near the Cane River, Natchitoches, Louisiana]: “How happy I should have been to have spent this day with my family”

[A war weary Louisiana Confederate engineer’s Christmas diary entries.]

Sunday, Dec. 25
This is Sunday the Lord’s day but
Oh how it is kept, not as in times
passed, [sadly] there is no religion
in the army, no fear of God
or man. When Oh when
will our people return to
virtue, when will this unholy
war close—But this is Christmas
a day of feasting and yes
drinking—We had a good Eggnog
this morning which made
it appear like Christmas, but
how happy I should have been
to have spent this day with
my family—but here I am in
the army and by the appearance
of things I am to see another
Christmas in the army, but
my prayer to God is that peace
will dawn upon the land Soon.
I am in good health thank
God. No news of any kind.

Wednesday, Dec. 28
Thank God I am in good health.
The weather is a fickle as an old
maid, nothing new, and no
news–consequently I have nothing
to write.

[Editor: Corporal John L. Sharitt [Sharrett/Sharritt], Jr. (October 17,1825-?), a New York-born civil engineer, moved to Louisiana in 1858 and lived at “Lucky Hit,” a Rapides Parish plantation, with his wife and daughter Rebecca Ann. In September 1864 he was mustered into the Provisional Army of the Confederate States’ 4th Engineers Regiment [4th Regiment, Confederate Engineer Troops] and served the remainder of the war as a corporal in Company I (?). The 4th Engineers, organized at Shreveport, Louisiana, was later commanded by Colonel Hugh Thomas Douglas, 1st Regiment, Confederate Engineer Troops, and chief of engineers for General Edmund Kirby Smith in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Paroled as a prisoner of war at Alexandria, Louisiana, in June 1865, Sharitt returned to Rapides Parish. He spent much of the war constructing pontoon bridges and, unlike many Confederate soldiers, was stationed near his home county (parish) which enabled him to occasionally visit his family. Throughout his diary Sharitt comments on his health, the weather, Louisiana place names, daily activities, the lack of Sunday religious services, second-hand war news, the dislike of commissioned officers, the hopelessness of the Confederate cause, and his longings for the war’s end.]

MSS 6114

Thursday, 1864 November 24, Albemarle County, Virginia: “I am trying now to procure some socks for them. The prospect is not encouraging.”

[A Confederate officer discusses extended medical furloughs and obtaining clothing for members of his regiment]

North Garden
Albemarle Co., Va.
Nov. 24, 1864
Dear Lieut:–
The description lists have been received.
Sergt. [Gillock] left here to-day for his command
for the purpose of reporting to it under
orders from the War Department causing all
soldiers now on furlough who are, or may be able to travel
to report, at the expiration of their furloughs, to their commands, there to be
examined. I prepared a letter for you early this
morning, but an impression was made on my
mind that Sergt. G. would not get off to-day, and therefore,
allowed him to go off without giving him
my letter.
Make out a descriptive list for
Private S. C. [Silas C.] Pugh to the extent you can, with
the understanding that I am to fill it out—
complete it. I make this statement because
I cannot, from memory, furnish you
with all the necessary information. What
I cannot furnish now I will obtain
hereafter from him and complete the
descriptive list. He will not be able for duty
for some time. I saw his wound some little
time ago. It is in a much worse condition
than I expected to find it. The wound at
first was more severe that I had believed it
to be.
S. C. Pugh’s list clothing akc. (2nd year) commences
1st Jany. 1864.
Clothing drawn, 2 cotton shirts—2 pr. drawers.
Was enlisted 1st July, 1861, at North Garden, Albemarle
Co., state of Virginia, by J. W. Williams,
for one year. Was born in Albemarle Co. state of Va.
complexion fair—hair black—when enlisted was
a laborer.
Was wounded in left arm and shoulder on 2nd
June 1864 at (or near) ______ [Ed. note: left blank by Bethel] while engaged in
charging enemy’s skirmishers.
Day before yesterday (Tuesday) I was in
Charlottesville and visited the Medical Examining
Board on business relating to a late order,
(to which I have already referred) and while with
it the Senior Surgeon of the board proposed
examining my case, it being ascertained that the
time for which I was last furloughed would
expire in the Friday next following. To this
I consented, and an application for an extension
of my present furlough was, by special permission
of Genl. Lee, [Robert E. Lee] continued in my present
furlough, as you are aware, made out.
The Special order granting power to boards to
allow officers to go home and await their
furloughs, or the result of their applications
for furloughs, having been revoked, Dr. [James Lawrence]
Cabell, Surgeon in Charge, gave me
written permission to go into “private quarters”
for fifteen days, at the expiration of which
“he will report to me in person or be considered a deserter.”
If Sergt. [Gillock] is allowed to return
home send the descriptive list by him, if not, by mail.
Cause the A. S. [Assistant Surgeon?] to note the date of all furloughs,
or the date of  the leaving of all men of the company,
and the date of the return of the same, together with
the date of the report of all men under the late order from
the War Department requiring men now absent on furlough,
who are able to travel, to report, at the expiration of their
furloughs, to their commands, that action may be taken
on their cases at their commands. I want this
information for future guidance. These latter cases
refered [sic] to will not, perhaps, come under
your observation.
Work hard to get the men well [within?] and
shod for the Winter. If this is not done they
must suffer during such weather as we
have had here for several days past. I
think of you all so often at night.
I made two efforts to obtain clothing from
this county for my men but failed. I
am trying now to procure some socks
for them. The prospect is not encouraging.
It would afford me so much pleasure
to bring down a suit for every man I have.
Give the note, which I will enclose,
to Sergt. [Gillock] if you see him, as he
returns [in a fortnight?].
I am recovering (slowly) the use
of my hand. I have not been able to close it since my
wound was first dressed.
I will furnish you with the desired roll as soon
as I can.
Yours truly,
H. M. Bichel [Hudson M. Bethel]
Lt. E. I. Gregory [Edward J. Gregory]
Co. “G,” 46th Va. Regt. Infty.
Genl. Wise’s Brigade
Petersburg, Virginia

[Editor: The soldiers in this letter enlisted at North Garden, Albemarle County, Virginia, and served with Company G (“Albemarle Jackson Avengers”), 46th Virginia Infantry.
Sergeant Benjamin F. Gillock became a patient at the Charlottesville General Hospital after a suffering a gunshot wound in the thigh at Petersburg, June 1864; he was placed on detached service in February 1865 and later paroled at Appomattox, Virginia, April 1865.
Private Silas C. Pugh, wounded in the left shoulder at the Howlett Line near Petersburg, June 2, 1864, during the Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-Jun 12, 1864), also hospitalized in Charlottesville and received a medical furlough through February 1865.
Hudson M. Bethel of Amherst County, Virginia, began his service in July 1861 as a first sergeant and later captain of Company G; wounded in action at Petersburg (a fractured left forearm), June 1864, he was hospitalized at and received several extensions of disability furloughs from the Charlottesville General Hospital and General Hospital Farmville, Virginia, July 1864—January 1865.
In April 1861 Edward J. Gregory enlisted in Richmond as a private in in Company A and rose in the ranks culminating with his election as a lieutenant of Company G, November 1863; wounded at Petersburg in June 1864 and hospitalized at Charlottesville, he acted as the company’s commander until his parole at Appomattox.
Dr. James Lawrence Cabell (1813-1889), practiced medicine in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Paris before his University of Virginia faculty appointment as professor of anatomy, surgery and phyisiology. He became surgeon-in-charge and chief surgeon of the Charlottesville General Hospital during the war.
Major General Henry Alexander Wise (1806-1876), a former governor of Virginia, commanded Wise’s Brigade during the Army of Northern Virginia’s Petersburg Campaign. He was among remaining senior Confederate officers at Appomattox who advised General Lee to surrender.]

MSS 10897

Monday, 1864 October 17, [Cedar Creek], Virginia: “To cast for me and in my name and stead . . . my vote or ballot, the same as if I was personally present at the General election”

[A New York state absentee voter authorization form for a Union soldier stationed in Virginia]

Soldier’s Power of Attorney.

In pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of the State of New-York, entitled “An Act to enable the qualified electors of this State, absent therefrom in the Military Service of the United States, in the Army or Navy thereof to vote,” Passed April 21st, 1864.

I, Charles P. Tremain, a member of Company H of the 160th Regiment New York State Vols. now at or near [Cedar] Creek in the State of Virginia (or Territory) of ___________ (or attached to the United State vessel ___________), and being a resident of the town of Amity (or of the city of ___________) in the county of ___________, do hereby authorize and empower William C. Dake [?] of the town of Amity (or of the city of ___________) in the county of Allegany to cast for me and in my name and stead, in pursuance of Section 2, of said Act, my vote or ballot, the same as if I was personally present at the General election to be held on the 8th day of November 1864.
Charles P. Tremain [signature]
Joshua J. Clark [signature]

On this 17th day of October 1864, before me personally came Charles P. Tremain to me known to be the same person described in the foregoing instrument, who being by me duly sworn deposes and says, that he executed the foregoing instrument for the uses and purposes therein mentioned. And at the same time appeared before me Joshua J. Clark, who being by me duly sworn deposes and says that he saw the said Charles P. Tremain sign and execute said instrument in his presence, whereupon the said Joshua J. Clark became the subscribing witness thereto.
D. L. [Daniel L.] Vaughan [signature]
Capt., Co. H, 160th Regt. Vols. [New York Infantry Regiment]

[Editor: On the day this document  was completed the 160th New York Regiment, Army of the Shenandoah (2d Brigade, 1st Division, XIX Corps), was serving as the army’s train guard. Two days later it fought in the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864), part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864, suffering 66 casualties in wounded, killed or missing officers and enlisted men. Civil War historians have noted this smashing Union victory helped Lincoln’s re-election.
Private Charles P. Tremain survived the war and applied for a pension in May 1880; according to online sources, a Charles Tremain represented the third district of Onondaga County, New York, as a Republican during the 98th New York State Legislature (1875). The 1860 U. S. Census includes a family of four headed by a “W. C. Dake,” a 40-year-old Allegany County, New York, resident. Joshua J. Clark enlisted in Company H at the rank of private and was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Daniel L. Vaughan, of Auburn, New York, age 43, was enrolled as Company H’s captain in October 1862 for three years’ service and in May 1865 appointed to the rank of Major.
The election of November 8, 1864 was one of most crucial in American history. As part of his re-election campaign strategy, President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton encouraged generous leaves of absences for soldiers who needed to go home to vote, if their doing so were not detrimental to maintaining sufficient forces in the field. Lincoln and other elected politicians knew they needed the votes of soldiers. Many Northern states enacted laws allowing soldiers to cast absentee ballots by mail or proxy in the form of a duly authorized surrogate, as in the case of William Dake on Private Tremain’s behalf. In their letters home, the majority of Union soldiers supported Lincoln, the federal government and predicted victory over the Confederate South. Decisively defeating Democratic candidate Major General George P. McClellan, former commander of the Army of the Potomac, Lincoln also won the majority of the soldiers’ votes by a three to one margin (about 70 percent). Allegany County (3,650 votes) and the state of New York also went for Lincoln.]

MSS 9564

Thursday, 1864 September 1, [Front Royal], Virginia: “Unfit for Military service at present”

[Certificate granting a medical leave of absence for a Confederate cavalryman]

[unintelligible] Front Royal, Sept. 1st 1864

We hereby Certify that we have carefully
examined G. W. Brooke, [a private in the] [9th?]
Va. Cavalry, of Rosser’s Brigade, and find him
Unfit for Military service at present in
Consequence of
Gun shot wound in lower portion of left leg
Rec’d in fight at Halls [Haw’s] Shop the 28th of
May last.
We therefore recommend a furlough of
Thirty Days.
J. [unintelligible]
J. B[unintelligible]    Board of Examinations
Edward B. Powell [signed]
Captain,  Examiner’s Office 9th District Va.

[back of page]

Extended for reasons stated [unintelligible]
Oct. 1/64     J. [unintelligible] M. D.
Extended for reasons stated [unintelligible]
Nov. 1/64     J. [unintelligible] M. D.
Extended for reasons stated [unintelligible]
Dec. 1, 1864     J. [unintelligible] M. D.
Extended for reasons stated [unintelligible]
Jany. 1, 1865     J. [unintelligible] M. D.
Extended for reasons stated [unintelligible]
Feby. 1, 1865     J. [unintelligible] M. D.

[Editor: This certificate is an example of problems characteristic with some handwritten Civil War documents—documents created 150 years ago. Heavily smudged, it was written on both sides of a sheet of fragile tissue-like paper on which the ink has bled through—obscuring much of the text on either side. An early description of this certificate identified this soldier as C. W. Brooke/Charles Wallace Brooke (b. 1811 or 1812) but no such individual is listed as a member of any Virginia Confederate cavalry regiment in consulted published or online sources; it also identified his unit as the ‘59th Virginia Cavalry”—an organization that never existed according to Lee A. Wallace, Jr., A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1861-1865, rev.2nd ed. (Lynchburg, Virginia: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1988). A Private George W. Brooke served in Company H, 9th Virginia Cavalry. (Another Private George W. Brooke, 12th Virginia Cavalry, Company G, died May 1864.) The “Brooke” referenced in this certificate may have been on special or detached service at the time of his wounding. Major General Thomas L. Rosser (1836-1910) commanded Rosser’s Brigade, also known as the Laurel Brigade, 1863-65; during 1864 it included the 7th, 11th, 12th and 35th Virginia cavalry. The Battle of Haw’s Shop (Enon Church), was fought in Hanover County, Virginia, May 28, 1864, twelve miles north of Richmond, part of the 1864 Overland Campaign during which Rosser’s Brigade served as part of Major General Wade Hampton’s (1818-1902) cavalry division. According to various sources, Virginia cavalry units engaged at Haw’s Shop included the 2nd, 3rd, 4th,  6th, 12th and 22nd regiments. Captain Edward B. Powell was a member of Company F (“the Fairfax Cavalry”), 6th Virginia Cavalry.]

MSS 9339

Tuesday, 1864 August 16; Wednesday, August 17 and Thursday, August 18 [City Point, Virginia]: “Hard work carrying Lumber up the Hill”

[Pocket diary of David Probert, a New Jersey civilian employed as a carpenter by the United States Military Railroads during the siege of Petersburg, Virginia]

[Page heading] August, TUESDAY, 16, 1864.
Hot in the morning, [unintelligible]
am finished the Cook Shanty
by Noon in the afternoon.
Went to work on making
Counters. Toward evening
got Colder. Firing going
on at the front.

[Section heading] August, WEDNESDAY, 17, 1864.
I [felt] very well go to work
to Build a Post Office up
on the Hill hard work carrying
Lumber up the Hill. Towards
Evening got a regular thunder
Shower got rather wet
went home bed all wet;
firing to Night.

[Section heading] August, THURSDAY, 18, 1864.
Up in the morning felt
very well to work to day
[unintelligible] on the Post Office
[unintelligible] weather Rather wet
heavy Showers. 4
Mortars brought up from
the Rebs.

[Editor: The small size of many Civil War-era pocket diaries only allowed brief daily entries, usually about two or three concise sentences. David Probert (1836?–?) resided in Jersey City and Patterson, New Jersey. A January 1864 enrollment certificate described him as 27 years old, dark eyes, dark hair, dark complexion, five and a half feet tall, and a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey. He was employed in Tennessee by the Quartermaster Department of the District of Nashville as a carpenter from January 31 to April 1, 1864. He received an honorable discharge and eventually was hired by the Bridge Department of the United States Military Railroads in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 4, 1864 at the rate of $2.40 per day. During the period of this diary Probert was employed primarily at Alexandria and City Point, Virginia. Following an accidental leg injury on May 18, 1864, he resigned in October 1864 to return to his home for recuperation. On November 21, 1864 he was hired by the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company.]

MSS 10776

Sunday, 1864 July 31, [Headquarters Camp William Penn, Chelton Hills, Virginia]: “We, the undersigned . . . Musicians . . . acknowledged to have received . . . several articles of Clothing”

[Record of clothing and equipment, and their monetary value, issued to sixteen African-American soldiers of an United Stated Colored Troops brigade band]

[Form] No. 52. We, the undersigned . . . Musicians of Brigade Band No. 2 U. S. C. T, do hereby acknowledge to have received of George E. Wagner, Captain, 8th U. S. C. T., Post Adjutant, the several articles of Clothing set opposite our respective names.

Joseph Costley [Band Leader], 2 items, $9.50
Joshua Jones [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
Moses Bolden [Musician First Class], 2 items,$9.50
Thomas J. Simmons [Musician Third Class], 3 items, $10.40
William Jones [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
James Aaron [Musician Second Class], 3 items, $11.55
James M. Loney/Louey [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
William Cole [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
John C. O’Brien [rank unknown], 2 items, $9.50
James R. Ray [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
William Ludlow [Musician Second Class], 2 items, $9.50
Theophilus McCall [Musician Second Class], 2 items, $9.50
John L. Peck [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
John Randolph [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $4.55
John Morris [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
Jonathan Grobes [Musician Third Class], 12 items, $24.93
[Total: 44 items issued, $165.43]

[Editor: Lieutenant Colonel George Emil Wagner (1842-1904) of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, served as an officer of the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry and later the 8th and 9th regiments of United States Colored Troops. Form 52 required an enumerated statement of soldiers’ clothing allowances during their enlistments; throughout a five-year period each was to be issued a predetermined number of hats (5), forage caps (5), uniform coats/jackets (5), blue flannel sack coats (10), trousers (13), flannel shirts (15) and drawers (11), pairs of bootees (20), pairs of stockings (20), leather stockings (2), great coat (1), stable frock (2), fatigue overalls (5), blankets (2). Most of these African-American band members were privates and signed their names with the exception of James Aaron, who signed with his ‘X’ mark.]

MSS 11174

Wednesday, 1864 June 29, Gauley Bridge [Fayette County], West Virginia: “Men and horses dropped dead from fatigue and hunger”

[A Union cavalryman’s letter  to his sister during 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns]

Camp near Gauley Bridge
June 29, 1864
Dear Sister Ada
Once again we have got
“insidie” our lines, and I will write you
an answer to your letter of May 27th which
I received before we left Staunton.
I have been very well since there & have so
much to write about that I don’t know
where to commence
It is just 2 months since we left Frederick
Md [Maryland] and we have had two months as hard
soldiering as I want to see.
My last letter home was from Staunton
from there we crossed the mountain
captured a rebel wagon train destroyed the
rail road marched within 10 or 12 miles of Lynchburg
and over the mountains again to Lexington
(our route east of the mountains was through the counties of
Nelson & Amherst.)
From there we went to [Buchanan] on
the James River on the route we passed
within 2 miles of the “Natural Bridge”

[page 2]
but didn’t get to see it as it was after
night when we passed it. Buchanan is in Roanoke County
from there we went to Liberty in Bedford County our route
was between the “Peaks of Otter” through
Peaks Gap from there we went nearly to Lynchburg the second city of Va
so near that we could see the city plainly.
Our Division Genl Dufie’s [Alfred N. Duffié (1833–1880)] were
on the left of our line of battle but didnt
suffer much. There was a strong earth
work in our front and we were dismounted
to storm it but for some reason didnt
try it. One man in our Company was
dangerously wounded by a shell. It was RN
Gibson [Richard N. Gilson] of Toms Creek he was left in
the rear when we left as we had no
ambulance with us. We also lost 3 horses.
From Lynchburg we fell back through Liberty, Salem[,] Sweet Springs, White
Sulphur Springs[,] Lewisburg & Meadow
Bluff to this place. We are now
about 30 or 35 miles from Charleston.
I hope I shall never see another such
march. 14[?] miles or more of this route

[page 3]
was through the Alleghany Mts
the road was tolerably good but,
tired & hungry we had to keep jogging
along for about 8 days and nights
we didnt unsaddle our horses and
only stopped occasionally to rest & graze
our horses. Men and horses dropped
dead from fatigue and hunger.
Our route was strewn with wagons
and horses I hope I shall never see the
like again. Day before yesterday we
received rations and the men are all
in good spirits again. Our detachment
being mounted didnt suffer much
as we had a chance to forage.
We expect to go to Charleston [West Virginia]
tomorrow but dont know what the program then will be.
We have had plenty of skirmishes
and cavalry fights but I have
passed through all safely.
The trip has been a hard one but
after resting a day or two we will
be all right.

[page 4]
(Your sheet of paper just suits)

I would like to write more
but it is getting dark I could
tell of the many romantic spots
we have seen but will have to
defer it. I will write again in
a day or two.
Give my love to all inquiring
friends. With love to all I
remain Your loving brother
Oscar McMillan
Army of West Va

June 30th. As I didn’t get my letter started
I will finish now this morning we crossed
[Gauley] River and we are now camped
at Loop Creek Landing on the Roanoke
River a few miles below the Falls of the
Kanawha [Kanawha Falls]. I think we will remain here
for a few days to rest and recruit our
horses when it is likely we will be
sent to Martinsburg Va., Clarksburg.
Write me a letter direct to 1st Cavalry
Brigade 1st Cavalry Division Army of West Virginia (Co “C” 2d MD [Maryland] Cavalry[ ) ]
With love to all I remain Oscar

[Editor: According this collection’s finding aid, “Oscar D. McMillan was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1838 and served four years in the Civil War as a Private and 1st Lieutenant in Cole’s Cavalry Company (Company C, 1st Regiment Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry Maryland). His company participated in the Union Army of the United States Shenandoah Valley Campaign. He also served in Company E, 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His letters reveal that he was a model soldier, brother and son. . . . Oscar McMillan died of a cerebral embolism in 1919 after being happily married for 46 years and a farmer in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.” A “Private Richard N. Gilson,” Company C, Coles Cavalry, First Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade Company, enlisted August 27, 1863 and died of wounds received in action, August 3, 1864. The Peaks of Otter are three mountains overlooking Bedford, Virginia, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.]

MSS 15284

Tuesday, 1864 May 3, Albemarle County, Virginia: “I am very scarce of meat”

[Letter to a planter from a widow hoping to buy a cow as food for her family; an example of increasing civilian hardships on the Confederate home front]

Morea, near University [University of Virginia, Charlottesville]
Genl. Cocke:
I am exceedingly anxious to purchase
a fresh cow & knowing that my friend &
neighbor Dr. McGuffy has a very fine one
he purchased of you, I thought it probable
you might have another to dispose of—if
you have it will be a great accommodation
to me to let me have it as I am very scarce
of meat & a good cow would supply the
want of meat to my family.
Please let me hear from you & know
your price.
Very [Respectfully]
Mary J. Smith
Direct to Mrs. Mary Jane Smith
University of Va.

Smith, Mrs. Mary Jane
Rec’d May 10th
Ans’d 11th 1864

[Editor: John Hartwell Cocke (1780–1866) of Fluvanna County, a Virginia militia brigadier general during the War of 1812. Cocke’s reply to Smith is not present in his papers. William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, 1845 until his death, and author of the McGuffey Readers, one of America first and perhaps most successful textbooks series; revised editions are still in print. Morea, a large brick structure at the time  located west of the University, built during the 1830s by John Patten Emmet (1796-1842), a professor of natural history, chemistry and material medica who sold it during the 1840s to a member of Duke family, a prominent local and Virginia family. It served as the residence of Mary Jane Duke Smith [Mary Jane Clark Duke, born Albemarle County, Virginia, March 15, 1811–July 19, 1891] and other Duke family members during the Civil War. Mary was the widow of William Willoughby T. Smith (?-July 15, 1845), first U. S. Consul to the Republic of Texas until his drowning death there in 1845. Today Morea House is owned by the University and used for meetings and other events. Its name is from the Latin morus,for the mulberry trees Professor Emmet planted for the silkworms he raised (University of Virginia online map “Morea,” http://www.virginia.edu/webmap/popPages/185-morea.html). The “University/University of Virginia” was an independent post office address until the early twentieth century and located one mile west of the town of Charlottesville.]

MSS 640