Sunday, 1864 April 24, Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan: “Now about buying a horse . . . Never buy & furnish anything that the U. S. furnishes”

[Letter of a Michigan civilian who advises his cavalryman brother against purchasing his own horse for military service]

Otisville, April 24, 1864
Genesee County, Michigan

Bro. Alf:
I now will try
to [unintelligible word] this Sunday morning in writing to
you in answer to yours of the 14th which I
rec’d Thursday. We are all usually well
but Eliza, she has the sore throat, in about one
hour from the time it commenced it was cankered.
I am in hopes that by having [unintelligible word] attend to it all
the while it will not be anything very serious
but there is no telling which may end I trust
I trust that the next letter I write to you I can say She
is entirely recovered. We have at last finished
Sugaring we finished yesterday & gathered the buckets [of]
molasses & about 4 barrels of vinegar. I wish you
could have a chunk of cake sugar to rub on
your hardtack &[two faded words] your sowbelly pork
[teats?] & all. I have heard from the 7th Cavalry [7th Michigan Cavalry]
week ago Thursday I got a letter from Ben Bidwell

[page 2]
& Thursday one from William Van Voorheis. I find
Co. C lost 3 men All of them good boys they think
that they were taken prisoners. They will have
a hard time of it I am afraid. Now about
buying a horse, I shall give you my advice & you
can follow it or not. Never buy & furnish anything that
the U. S. furnishes. Don’t buy a horse. You will, tis’ true,
draw $12 per month for him & pay for him if
killed but if he plays out on a march or dies
of disease you will lose him. Someone has
been stiffing you because you are green &
they had a horse to sell. Another thing I
don’t believe that a private horse will stand
any more than a Government horse (unless he’s a
better one.) And no private horse gets any better
fare or usage than any man will give a Gov’t
horse, for they can’t draw any more rations
for one than the other & if he is half a man
he will tend a Gov’t horse as well as if it was

[page 3]
his own for his horse & saber are the
main things he depends upon & if he don’t
take care of his horse, when he gets into a
tight place his horse won’t take care of him.
Again, draw you a good horse & take good
care of him before long you may go into battle
& get the chance to pick up a good horse without
the U. S. brand on him if he is as good or better
than your horse swap & get him mustered in
as your horse the next muster day & you will
draw your pay & he will cost you nothing. If you
buy a horse & are taken sick & sent to the
hospital & may be to Washington some one
will take your horse & perhaps use him
up in a few days [and] not take half care of him
& so you will lose him.
A circular in this [Editor: Item missing.] from my [New York] woman she
gives an extra album & [unintelligible word] for every club
of five if you conclude to act as agent send
five dollars & get you an album & [unintelligible word]

[page 4]
to show & if you get a club of five get
the sixth man & keep his five dollars &
send the sixth one to him. I expected to get a $15.00
watch by paying one dollar extra I draw a $14.00
chain. Save your money & send it
to me & have it taken care of so if you
have the bad luck to come home with a leg or
arm off you will have something to help
yourself with. Eliza  & I got a letter from
Sarah Thursday she was well—
Esther L  ?  is Sick I don’t know
what ails her I have written about
enough for [unintelligible word] time so
I [guess] I will [here] [unintelligible word]
[2 unintelligible words] but do not
[2 unintelligible words] to [believe any?]
[2 badly faded and unintelligible lines]
[3 unintelligible words] your
brother John

[Editor: This letter is badly faded in many areas, especially on page 4. Confederate soldiers furnished their own horses but the Union government provided them for its soldiers. The 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, which served 1862-1865, was among the cavalry regiments of the Michigan Brigade commanded by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876). According to the online Michigan Civil War Soldiers Index, William Van Voorheis and Benjamin Bidwell were members of Company C, 7th Michigan Cavalry.]

MSS 10905

Thursday, 1864 March 24, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia [later West Virginia]: “Said he expected they would hang him”

[Diary entry of an identified Union army military chaplain’s (?) visit with an accused wife murderer]

Martinsburg, Va. March 24, 1864
On Provost guard in Martinsburg
today made a visit to the room
in which Mr. Joseph  M. [Linciana?]
who murdered his
wife in Martinsburg was confined.
He seemed to be in much trouble
at times especially about his children
(4 in number). Said he expected
they would hang him, and that
he imagined strange things and saw
strange sights. Said his wife had
a secret in her heart which she would
not reveal to him, and that she had
frequently asked him to get her some
medicine which she wanted to kill her
child with which was then unborn.
Said that the plot she had in progress
would result in his death.
He spent a considerable time in prayer
to God expressed hopes of entering Heaven

[page 2: “March 24th” continued]
but he read from the bible and talked
sometime. Prayer was offered by a member.
Did not take an active part in
the meeting, although I felt it my
duty. O Lord I hope this man fearing
spirit still hangs about me. It seems
almost an impossibility for me to
cast it off. For my wicked heart
cherishes this evil spirit, which I
feel incompetent to cast off without
Thy assistance and for thy all sufficient
assistance I humbly pray.
I feel O Lord, that Thou art ever true
to Thy promises and that Thou will
grant the requests of all those that pray
believing, but I have a wicked [heart]
that is fit only fit for the [service?] of the
devil which I humbly ask Thee to take
from me and give me one free from
guile so that I can pray believing; with
[unintelligible word] the spirit I should. O Lord hear my
prayer and according to Thy word give
me a new heart. Amen.

[Editor: West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a state on June 20, 1863. Other materials in  this manuscript collection suggests this unidentified Union soldier as possibly a member of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry and/or the United States Christian Commission, a Protestant organization that provided medical services and religious literature to Union troops.]

MSS 5535

Tuesday, 1864 February 16, Stony Mountain, Virginia: “I have found out lately that I will not get out of service as soon as I expected”

[A Pennsylvania soldier stationed in Virginia writes to his mother]

Signal Station, Stony Mountain [Virginia]
Feb. 16th 1864
Dear Mother
I have received your
welcome letter of the 12th instant & also the
one before—this evening—as one of
the fellows was in camp today & got the
mail, & I hasten to reply as I have
time—and probably I will not have
so much leisure time for some
while to come. [Editor: The term “instant” is an adjective for ‘of the current month.’]
We reached here last Tuesday evening
& proceeded immediately to establish
a Station & have been busy
ever since building up our quarters,
stables & fixing up the Station,
besides station duty & guard duty
at night.
Saturday was the first day that we
were not busy working, we had a
quite a snow storm but today was

[page 2]
so mild that there is scarcely any
snow now to be seen.
As we have all the extra work done,
main duty now will be station
watch in the daytime & guard
duty at night.
This mountain is nothing more
than a large hill, it is about
six miles from Brandy Station in a
south easterly direction & a mile &
a half from the Rapidan [River].
We can plainly distinguish the Reb
pickets on the other side of the river
with the naked eye.
This station is what we call a
station of observation being on
the extreme outpost of our lines
nothing but cavalry pickets outside
of us, & it is our business to keep a
strict [watch] on the rebels, & report any little
change that we may see.
We live a great deal better than I

[page 3]
used to do in the regiment. We have
a chance to draw full amount of
rations, all the little ‘Extras,” & then
we have more cooking utensils for
we can get them hauled. Our party
(each station has one) have a wagon
& of course we make out to always have
a load, why when we were moved out
here from camp we got an extra
wagon & hauled all the material
that we had in our house except
the chimney.
In one [of] your letters you spoke about
the shirt which you sent me. I thought
that I had wrote that I had
received it all right, it was my
intention to have done so, but I
suppose forgot it.—It fits very well
& appears to wear equally as well.
I have found out lately that I
will not get out of service as soon
as I expected—not until the
26th of next July which will be

[page 4]
two months over my three years.
I was very foolish not to have thought
more about this when I had my
descriptive list made out. I could
as easy as not went out on June
4th as go out when I do.
I received a letter from Will Hammond [Sergeant William B. Hammond]
week before last he said the
regiment [30th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry] could be held until the
26th July.
I must close this hasty written
letter as it is time for me to go
on guard.
Give my love [to] Father, [Jennie?] Uncle &
Aunt & all inquiring friends &
I remain as ever your [affectionate]
[signed] John E. Gillespie

[Editor: John Eves Gillespie (September 3, 1842-June 29, 1872) to his mother Eliza Jane Gillespie (1813-1878) [Mrs. Franklin Gillespie; Franklin Gillespie (1805-1877)] of New London, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This letter is accompanied by an envelope postmarked “February 20, Washington, D. C.” The 30th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Infantry) was organized at West Chester, Pennsylvania, in June 1861 as the 1st Regiment Reserves Infantry, later designated the 30th Pennsylvania, and mustered out in June 1864. John Gillespie was mustered in as a private in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania, June 1861, promoted to corporal on January 5, 1863, and transferred to the Army of the Potomac’s Signal Corps, November 3, 1863. After the war he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical Department and became a doctor and U.S. Navy assistant surgeon. William B. Hammond enlisted in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania Infantry, June 1861, was promoted to sergeant, October 1861, and mustered out with his company in June 1864. According to one online source, Stony Mountain is in the Madison County, Virginia, section of Shenandoah National Park.]

MSS 15500, 15500-A

Friday, 1864 January 8, New Kent County, Virginia: “Slave Ephraim . . . died . . . on the Coast of South Carolina . . . and worth thirteen hundred dollars”

[Deposition on the loss of a male slave who died while a conscripted laborer at South Carolina fortifications for the Confederate Army.]

State of Virginia
New Kent County, to Wit:
I, A. K. Tribble being duly
sworn before a Justice of the Peace in fore said State
and County Certify that I am well acquainted
with James B. Floyd of Newberry District South
Carolina, And that the said J. B. Floyd was the
owner of a Negro Slave named Ephraim and
that the said J. B. Floyd sent the said Slave
Ephraim to the Coast of South Carolina on
the 10th day of September 1862 under order
from the Governor of said State to work on the
public fortifications, that I took charge of said
Slave Ephraim with others, and had him under
my charge from the time he left home until
he died, To Wit, from the 10th day of September
to the 8th day of October 1862 and that he
died in the Service of the Confederate Government
on the Coast of South Carolina, that said Slave
Ephraim was placed under the care of Doctor
Wrag for Medical treatment but died
from the disease then and there contracted
and that the said Slave Ephraim was about
twenty three years old sound and healthy and worth
thirteen hundred dollars at the time he was impressed
and that the impressment was for one month
and the said Slave Ephraim was first under
[Lipscomb?] agent for the State aforesaid.
[signed] A. K. Tribble

State of Virginia
New Kent County, To Wit:
This day personally appeared
before me, E. C. Pollard a Justice of the Peace
in and for said State and County, A. K. Tribble
and made Oath in due form of Law that the
above Certificate is true and correct in every
particular[.] Given under my hand this the
8th day of January 1864. [signed] E. C. Pollard J. P. [Justice of the Peace]

State of Virginia New Kent County, To wit,
I, John D. Christian, Clerk of the Court of the County aforesaid in the
State of Virginia do certify that E. C. Pollard who has signed the foregoing
certificate of attestation is and was at the time of signing the same a Justice
of the Peace for the said County duly commissioned and admitted to said office
under the laws & Constitution of the said State and that his said signature
is genuine and that full faith and credit ought to be given to his
[aforesaid?] acts.
In testimony thereof I have hereunto set my hand (and would have
annexed the Seal of my office if the Seal of the Office had not have
been taken away by the enemy in their raid through the
County) this 12th day of January 1864.
[signed] John D. Christian Clerk
Ex Parte     Deposition
loss of Slave
James B. Floyd [Assessor?]
Filed 24th May 1864

[Editor: The cause of death for Ephraim, a male South Carolina slave (ca. 1839-1862), is unknown. Thousands of slaves and free blacks were forced/impressed to work as ill-treated military laborers for the Confederate Army. New Kent County is one of Virginia’s “Burned Counties”; its court records were destroyed in a county courthouse fire during July 1787 and records created after that date were lost in during an 1865 Richmond fire where they had been moved for safety. John Christian’s reference to a Union raid in the county could refer one of four: a May 1, 1862 skirmish; a June 23, 1862 operation; an August 25-29, 1863 expedition, and a November 9, 1863 expedition. The August 30, 1863 report of Colonel Benjamin F. Onderdonk, First New York Mounted Rifles, indicated his force had encamped at “New Kent Court-House” during August 27,1863; perhaps this is when the county clerk’s seal was stolen. In American law, ex parte is a legal proceeding brought by one person in the absence of and without representation or notification of other parties.]

MSS 12491

Wednesday, 1863 December 16, Hanover Junction, Virginia: “Invoice of . . . the property of Private E. G. Carter . . . who died in Hanover Junction Hospital”

[Confederate hospital record of a deceased soldier-patient’s belongings]

Invoice of Clothing the property of Private E. G. Carter, Co. H, 21st
[Regiment, North Carolina] Infantry who died in Hanover Junction Hospital, December 14, 1863, of this day turned over to Capt. T. Hunter Jr. [Assistant Quartermaster] by Surgeon
Samuel H. Moffett

1 [Pair] Shoes 4.00
2 [Pairs] Socks @$1.50, 3.00
2 Two [Pairs] Drawers @$2.00, 4.00
1 One [Pair] Pants 10.00
1 One Jacket, 13.25
1 One Shirt, 1.25
1 [unintelligible], 2.00 [total] $38.50

Hanover Junction, Va.
Dec. 16, 1863

Invoice of Money belonging to Private E. G. Carter, Co. H,
21s [Regiment, North Carolina] Infantry who died in Hanover Junction Hospital,
December 14, 1863, of this day turned over to Capt. T. Hunter Jr. [Assistant Quartermaster] by Surgeon Samuel H. Moffett

$1.00 One Dollar in Specie
$55 Fifty-five Dollars in Confederate Notes

Hanover Junction, Va.
Dec. 16, 1863

[Editor: According to the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XV, 1887, Moffett was paroled with the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.]

MSS 1159

Thursday, 1863 November 19, Norfolk, Virginia: “I have not applied for any permit to bring my wife here but shall try to do it by stratagem . . . I do not wish to appear before the War Dept. in the character of an idler and sybarite”

[A Union general writes from an occupied Confederate Virginia city about his efforts to obtain leave and the recruitment of African-American soldiers.]

Norfolk, Va.
Thursday Nov. 19 [1863]
My Dear Kinsley,
Good and faithful servant!
I would be very glad indeed to see you in Philadelphia–But
can’t be sure of reaching there at exactly
at any time As I do not ask leave
of absence until the last minute
and Gen. Butler [Benjamin Franklin Butler] went yesterday
down to Newberne [New Bern, North Carolina] and will be
gone a week more or less. I
may fail of reaching Phila. [Philadelphia] at all
may get no further than Baltimore
But my project is to leave here on
the 24th reach P. [Philadelphia] at noon or 2 P. M. of
the 25th–spend the 26th, and return as
soon as may be. I have not applied
for any permit to bring my wife here [Frances Ellen Sullivan Wild]
but shall try to do it by stratagem
in the way abovementioned–As
I do not wish to appear before the War Dept. in the character of an
idler and sybarite.
I do not know if you ever [received]
my thanks for your raspberry syrup. Your previous letters
[reverse page]
letters had asked me & Col. Beecher [James Chaplin Beecher]
repeatedly what we wanted—and to
let you know whatever it might be.
Well, we consulted, and found we wanted
so many things that we did
not know where to begin. And we
could not agree upon the first
thing to ask for; until the raspberry
syrup arrived, and then we
agreed at once, that that was precisely
the article we wanted first.
It reached us on Folly Island [South Carolina]
in hot weather, and I think suited
the case exactly.
Your cousin was delayed by
sickness from joining us for some time—so I have hardly met
him. We are mighty busy. I
have now the 1st U. S. Col.—the 5th U. S. Col.—the 2nd N. C. Col.—beside
the recruiting of the 3rd N. C. C. and the10th U. S. Col. here. [Editor: See below for regimental identifications.]
If you could spare 2 days longer
you could be accommodated easily at
my sister’s in Phila. [Philadelphia].This not being
official—is not appropriate to be sent to Gov. Andrew.
Yours very truly
E. A. Wild

[Editor: Brigadier General Edward Augustus Wild (1825–1891), a zealous abolitionist, organized and commanded “Wild’s African Brigade” of African-American soldiers recruited in Virginia and North Carolina. Headquartered in Norfolk (which had been under Union military occupation since May 1862), the brigade was comprised of the 55th Massachusetts Infantry and the 2nd and 3rd North Carolina Colored Volunteers (later the 36th and 37th United States Colored Troops [USCT]). On the day of Wild’s letter, 270 miles away, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address.
Edward Wilkinson Kinsley (1829-1891), a wool merchant with the Boston firm of Horsell, Kinsley and French, was a special emissary of Massachusetts’s abolitionist governor John Albion Andrew (1818–1867). During the Civil War he undertook special assignments regarding the recruitment of black Massachusetts regiments. In 1863 he assisted General Wild in the recruitment of ex-slaves into “Wild’s African Brigade” comprising several regiments of the USCT. He did not wish to be seen as interfering with existing Union military leadership and therefore travelled as Wild’s servant, hence the humorous salutation of ‘good and faithful servant.’”
At the time of Wild’s letter, Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893) commanded the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. Colonel James Chaplin Beecher (1828-1886), commander of the 35th USCT, was a half-brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), and Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a prominent abolitionist, clergyman, and social reformer. During the summer of 1863 Colonel Beecher’s regiment, then designated 1st Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), was organized at New Bern, North Carolina, and Portsmouth, Virginia, and attached to Wild’s African Brigade at Folly Island, South Carolina, to February 1864 when its designation was changed to 35th USCT. At the end of the war Colonel Beecher received the rank of brevet brigadier general for his wartime services.
Wild’s letter identifies some of the black regiments organized in or assigned to Virginia and North Carolina under his command during 1863-64: [“1st U. S. Col.”] 1st United States Colored Troops; [“5th U. S. Col.”] 5th United States Colored Troops (previously 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry); [“2nd N. C. Col.”] 2nd Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), later 36th USCT; [“3rd N. C. C.”] 3rd Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), later 37th USCT, and, [“10th U. S. Col.”] 10th United States Colored Infantry.]

MSS 12020

Friday, 1863 October 23, Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia: “I am getting no better . . . the doctor says I will not be fit for service again this winter”

[Letter of a Confederate Louisiana soldier from his hospital bed]

Delevan Hospital
Charlottesville, Va. October 23rd 1863
Dear Captain [William E. Moore, Company H, 1st Louisiana Infantry?]:
I received your kind letter this
evening with my two months pay for which I am
very much obliged as I am completely out of money
at the time and needed some very much.
Doigi [Lucien Doize] has not gotten over his disease
as yet[.] He is constantly passing blood at times he is
better then again he is worse he is taking “opium pills”
for to try and check it.
I am getting no better my chest
causes me a good deal of trouble. I have been blistered
twice since I have been here but to no avail, I have
had two very severe [hemorrhages] since I arrived,
and spit up [clotted] blood very often, together
with that I had cold night sweats every night
and a chill and hot fever immediately after[.] It has
reduced me a great deal both in strength and body,
the doctor says I will not be fit for service again
this winter.
Give my regards to Lieut. Moore,
Lieut. [Albert M.] Riddle, Tom Day [Thomas H. Day], Walter Irvine [Walter F. Irvine] and all
the boys and believe me
Your sincere friend
J. M. Warner
Let me know some of the news of the army.
Doigi [Doize] sends his humble regards to you and all of your
mess. [Editor: In military parlance a mess was a facility where or a group of soldiers who dined, lived and socialized.]
Tell Lieut. Moore I might get a furlough and to
write to me as to what I shall say to several young
ladies down south.    Warner

[Editor: The Charlottesville General Hospital was a conglomeration of several public and private homes, churches and businesses including Delevan Hospital and University of Virginia buildings. Delevan was a three-story facility near a railroad depot on Seventh and Main Streets (in December 1862 it housed 1200 patients); after the war it was converted into temporary housing for Union troops and African-Americans; it later became the all-black Jefferson School and eventually First Baptist, the city’s first black church.
Two of the named soldiers were members of the1st Regiment, Louisiana Infantry (commanded by Colonel James Nelligan): Private Day and Sergeant Irvine. A Private John M. Warner was a member of the 16th Louisiana. Second Lieutenant Albert M. Riddle and Private Lucien (H. or J.) Doize were members of Green’s Company, Louisiana Artillery (Louisiana Guard Battery); Doize recovered and returned to duty, last appearing in December 1864 records.]

MSS 9683-F

Saturday, 1863 September 19, Bedford County, Virginia: “Slaves furnished . . . to labour . . . in the Service of the Confederate States”

[County appraisal of 12 slaves assigned as military laborers]

Appraisement of Slaves furnished by Slaveholders
of Bedford County in pursuance of an order of the County
Court of said County of 19th Sept. 1863, to labour on fortifications
in the Service of the Confederate States for a term
not exceeding 60 days, delivered to the Sheriff of Said County
on the 16th day of October 1863 at Liberty.
[Editor: The town of Liberty was a designated postal village and seat for county and circuit courts during antebellum times.]

Names of Slaves    Ages     Names of Slaveholders                Valnation
John                        30         Thomas W. Leftwich                      3000.00
Sandy                     19          W. K. Lowry                                   3200.00
John                        20         G. C. Morgan                                  3200.00
Jacob                      20         Abram Fuqua                                 3500.00
Wesley                   45         William A. Creasy                          1500.00
Dick                        18         John A. Hunt                                   3500.00
Henry                      22         Abnor Fuqua                                   3500.00
Peyton                    21         N . H. Markham                               1500.00
Green                     18         Joseph Johnson                              3000.00
John                       20         Caleb Heptinstall [Heppenstall?]     3000.00
William Henry        35          [Albert. M.] Ewing                            2500.00
Bob                        20         Adophus A. Whitely                         3000.00

Bedford County, to wit
We the undersigned being called upon for this purpose
have appraised the above listed Slaves at the
prices opposite their names except the slave of
N. H. Markham who was appraised by William A.
Creasy and Jesse L. Hopkins.
W. T. Campbell
Jesse L. Hopkins}Appraisers
N. H. Markham
Valnation [sic] of Slaves

We the undersigned being called upon for
the purpose, have valued the negro man
Bob named in the forgoing list belonging
to Adophus A. Whitely at the price opposite
to his name.
Jesse L. Hopkins
William G. Claytor
S. G. Stewart (?)

[Editor: Male slaves aged 18 to 45 were subject to conscription as state or Confederate military laborers for which their owners were paid $16.00 per month.]

MSS 11807

Monday, 1863 August 10, Fauquier County, Virginia: “Lord, save or we perish”

[Diary of Confederate civilian Lucy Johnston Ambler]

August 10, 1863. Again there seems to be apprehension of
the negroes going off. At Leeds, Mrs. J. K. Marshall’s farm,
29 went off with the Yankey army reducing their numbers very
much. They still think more are going. There is a body of
Yankey cavalry within five miles of us and it is probable
they are there for the purpose of helping off the blacks.
Poor creatures! They seem doomed to utter extirpation. Some
of the Yankeys advise them to go, and others tell [them] they
had better stay where they are.
We hear nothing of our army that is at all reliable,
but trust that God will be with them and give them a signal
victory over our enemies. We hear a good deal of riots at
the North resisting the draft but I fear Lincoln has placed
his foot too firmly on the necks of the people for them to
offer resistance, unless the hand of God interfere. We must
as far as we can judge be prepared to fight fresh hordes of
these barbarous people who seem bent in every way on our
entire destruction. Lord, save or we perish. May it please
the Lord that our universal cry for peace may ascend to him
who is more ready to than we to ask good at his hand. O
may his mercy be upon us even as our trust is in his army
mighty to save those who in humble reliance on him put all
their trust in him and cast their cares on his strong arm
mighty to save through Christ.

[Editor: Lucy Johnston Ambler (1800-1888), Morven Plantation, Fauquier County, Virginia.
She married Major Thomas Marshall Ambler in 1819; they eventually had ten children.]

MSS 5191

Saturday, 1863 July 4, Westminster, Maryland, and, Saturday, 1863 July 18, Bunker Hill, Berkeley County, Virginia: “Two Roads from Gettysburg: Union and Confederate Soldiers’ Letters”

Letter 1 of 2: Saturday, 1863 July 4, Westminster, Maryland: “Some very hard fighting at Gettysburg . . . our forces have Captured Several thousand Rebels”

Westminster, Maryland July 4th 1863
My wife: I again pen a few lines for Your
Entertainment and perusal. Well here I am Sitting
In the wagon to keep out of the rain which is
falling in torrents, the first heavy rain that
we have had for Some days, and of Course
very acceptable, although it is very bad for the
troops who are Now Wounded, or fighting upon
the Battlefield. there has been Some very hard
fighting at Gettysburg Pa. within the Last few days
and the Loss is heavy on both Sides. Our forces have
Captured Several thousand Rebels that I have Seen
and I have been talking with Some of the Rebs
which talk as Poison as the bite of a Rattler
Snake. they Say they will fight us as long as
they have a man Left. this town is part
Secesh, but Many of the Ladies are Caring
for our wounded that are brought here.
We are not far from the State Line, yet

[page 2]
I am Some 25 Miles from where the fighting
is going on. Our trains [Editor: military supplies] are mostly all parked
here, out of the way of the Enemy, for fear of
Capture as the Rebel Cavalry are all over the Country
and was in this place Last Monday, when they
Sacked all the Stores and destroying what they did
not care to carry off, besides Stealing about 4,000
horses from the farmers, and Robbing Private Houses
and insulting the females, but they are Paying
very dearly for their Crimes just Now. Our
forces are whipping them at all points here
we have traveled Some 300 miles but Now we have
Come to a halt for awhile, and I believe that
before we Leave again for Virginia, that the
Rebel army which is here in Maryland and
Pennsylvania will pretty much all be Killed
Or Captured, as the water in the Potomac is
So high that they cannot Escape. I am having high
times Something better than Last 4th of July.

[page 3]
I am very well, tired or Lazy yet I think
that I am Not alone. While I was in the
place of Middletown [Maryland] I Sent twenty dollars
$20 in a Letter for you, making, 40 dollars
Since I was Paid. I would Like to hear from
H (?). I got a letter from William Rockman
[Editor: Private/Corporal William F. Rockman, 10th New Jersey Infantry]
a few days ago he was well. This is a Beautiful
Country for grass and grain. The wheat Looks
good, but I tell you that the army is doing
Much Mischief to the farmers destroying trees
and Crops but Buy what Hay and grain
[they need?] as victuals they take away. We have
Not had but two Mails in the Last 20 days.
I am Looking for a Letter from you, and
Christian. I would Like to have been home to
spend the 4th with you, yet I am doing well
to what Many poor Souls are.
Please give My love and Compliments to
Christian and family. Likewise to you
and the Children. Good by from your Husband
James T. Odem

[Editor: John T. Odem (private, corporal and sergeant), 5th New Jersey Infantry.]

MSS 7093-M

Letter 2 of 2: Saturday, 1863 July 18, Bunker Hill, Berkeley County, Virginia: “I do not
think that Gen. Lee has abandoned altogether his Pennsylvania Campaign”

Bunker Hill, Berkeley County, Virginia
July 18th, 1863
My Dear Cousin,
Your letter
reached us yesterday, the first I believe we
have had since we left Culpeper. I did not know certainly
whether or not you were still at Belpre. I was fearful lest
the enemy’s Cavalry might have penetrated as far as Culpeper C. H. [Court House].
Early on the march we heard that the Yankee Cavalry
had burnt Culpeper C. H. and Gordonsville—some believe it
but I could not think otherwise than that it was the work of
“Madame Rumor.” You cannot imagine what we have passed thro’
since I saw you last, have marched night and day and fought
one of the most sanguinary battles of the war. After retiring
from Gettysburg we remained in line of battle two or three days near
Hagerstown, [Maryland] but the enemy did not deem it prudent

[Editor: At the top of page 2 is a note:
“Direct to the Company Cabell’s Battalion
McLaws’ Division
Longstreets Corps A N. Va.” (Army of Northern Virginia)]

[page 2]
to attack us. We then retreated south of the Potomac. No one
could have regretted this move than I. My greatest desire was
to see this army subsisted on Pennsylvania, never in my life
have I seen a more abundant wheat crop than that in Maryland and Penn.
Unfortunately some of the troops have an unaccountable
superstition that we cannot be victorious in Pa. as we can
in Va. I heard some say that they never wanted to cross the Potomac
and other remarks of this kind which come very unfavorably from
an invading army with a powerful foe in our front. They fought
well, however, at Gettysburg, the artillery was never served
better, more manfully the long list of casualties will attest
the truth of what I assert; as a company we never did more
fighting in one battle, the piece to which Louis [Editor: Louis A. Wise] and myself
belong fired 300 rounds, more I venture to say than any gun
engaged; at one time; the day was ours. Pickett’s Division had

[Editor: At the top of page 3 is a postscript:
“I forgot about Brother. I know
nothing of him, have not had a word from
him for three or four months. I have been told
that he was in the Mecklenburg County [Virginia], he will
write when he gets ready”]

[page 3]
captured their fortifications with a quantity
of artillery, their support not arriving in
time they had to fall back. we were thus
repulsed and in no condition to renew the
assault, our loss being frightful, suffering heavily
in General and field officers. I do not
think that Gen. Lee has abandoned altogether
his Pennsylvania Campaign, when we fell back
the army was in a bad condition and needed
rest after reaching Pa. It was really amazing
to notice the fright the Dutch had
received. They thought us a band of pillagers
and would consider themselves fortunate if
their houses remained over their heads,
though some were treated badly, shamefully,
they soon found out that we were not the
people they had imagined us to be; they had
been told by their friends of the suffering
we had received and thought of course
that we would retaliate before reaching
Pa. I thought it my christian duty to
take what I wanted to eat, such things
as fowls, vegetables, &c., but after reflecting,

[page 4]
I was at once satisfied that this was not
the proper manner to seek for vengeance that
instead of making the women and children
suffer I would exert myself against those in arms,
and then it could but tend to
demoralize an army, tho’ there was but
little done. It has, I am convinced, a
very bad effect through that section of
Pa. we passed thro’. I was struck with the
appearance of farms and such a miserable
dutchified population, the dwelling
houses were generally large and comfortable
looking brick houses, with costly
splendid barns, gardens tastefully arranged,
indeed every appearance of culture and
elegance, but My goodness! look inside,
coarse dutchy girls, with their dresses
tied up around their waists, as if they
had been bending over a wash tub, without
shoes, with shoes and no stockings.
this is the class I noticed Except in
the towns, there was of course more
refinement. This is the population I

[page 5]
am confident that we have to fight. It is
the greatest country for loaf bread and
apple-butter I ever heard of. They were always
ready to give. They have these large baker
ovens, and generally kept on hand a
supply; this was I think a good policy
as there were hundreds in the army who
would have broken open safes, &c.,
without the least hesitation. Our fare was
about the same as in Va. We took
nothing without paying for it. One
company in our battalion had everything
they wanted notwithstanding Gen.
Lee’s order to the contrary, they had always
on hand mutton, shoat, vegetables, &c.
Like many others throughout the
army they would not hesitate to help
themselves to all the milk in the
cellars. This was done to some extent,
but I heard of only one or two cases
of wanton destruction of property such
as breaking up furniture these if found
out were severely punished. I sincerely
hope if it is better if we can sooner
secure for ourselves peace that we may
get back and be successful. The fall

[page 6]
of Vicksburg and Port Hudson together
with our recent repulse has cast a dark
cloud over all. Many are gloomy, and feel
that it will cause the war to be prolonged
to an indefinite extent, but as for myself
I am in good spirits and feel that in due
time all will yet be well. I am now
entirely cut off from home, though anxiety
about me will be great many others tho’
are in a similar condition. This disturbs
me a great deal. I hope it will not be
the case long. You request me to read
“Les Miserables” or as some lady enquired
at the book store in Richmond “Lee’s Miserables
fainting.” There are one or two copies
in camp, but I have not had an
opportunity to read it. We have been so
constantly marching. We are ready to
move camp and I have no doubt
exhausted your patience so if this will
repay you for your sweet letter which
you chose to term stupid, I will close.
My very best love to all, Miss Nora and
Libbie when you see her. Louis joins me
with his usual quantity says he will
write soon. Goodbye, Dearest Cousin,
[on side of page 1] Yours as ever, John

[Editor: Private John B. Wise, 1st Richmond Howitzers.]

MSS 2919-B