Don E. Scott
These letters are from Don E. Scott's second enlistment, in the 11th New Hampshire Infantry. More than 50 Vermonters served in the regiment, which "was organized at Concord and mustered in September 2, 1862. Moved to Washington, D.C., September 11-14, 1862. Attached to Brigg's Brigade, Casey's Division, Military District of Washington, to October, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Dept. of Ohio, to June, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, to August, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1865." (Frederick H. Dyer, "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion," Part 3)
|1862 Letters||1863 Letters||1864 Letters||1865 Letters|
Sept. 2nd, 1862
I cannot stop to write much this morning only a few words that you may know that I am well. I have been very well with the exception of a large boil on my arm. It is coming to a head now and will be better soon. I have opportunity to come home but will not for I have already bidden the good people of Warner goodbye and don't care to see them till I come home from the war a timeworn and honored patriot. When you come down on Saturday please bring me some money for I want to get several things. By the way there is other money besides the $1.50 offered by the town, which all say I am entitled to. Mr. Dorr offers $5.00, Mr. Ordway $2.00, and some others say $100 to every recruit. Will Father please look into it & get all that belongs to me. I don't think of anything else that I shall want.
Give my regards to all the people who may inquire of me. I promised to write Mrs. Davis but tell her I hardly think I can find time till I get down in Dixie which will be very soon according to all accounts. The Governor has said we must go a week from today. Be sure to come down Saturday.
This in affection
From your son,
Near Orleans, Va.
Sept. 7th, 1862
My Dear Mother,
I have written you already two or three letters since I have heard from you, yet I continue to write every week as I promised. Every mail I have looked most eagerly for a letter from home & still none come. Three weeks have already passed since I have heard from the loved ones. It cannot be that you do not write, the fault must be with those who have the handling of the mail. I am very well & have been all the time. I endure these long marches very well although I get very, very tired, cold, and hungry & it looks so hard to see poor, tired, and sick fellows falling down by the road side. This would not seem so hard if they were allowed to lie, but when the rear guard comes up they are made to travel along, being even struck with the bayonet so hard as to draw blood in the efforts of the guard to get them along.
Saturday, October 4th, 1862
Sandy Hook, Md
I was just now sitting in the tent with the Major, looking at the engravings in a late number of Leslie's Illustrated and I happened to observe the likeness & name of Don Carlos Buell. I remarked that he is the first public man I ever heard of as bearing my name. Upon this he said, "That reminds me that I have a letter for you." I assure you the paper was hastily thrown aside for my heart leapt at the thought of hearing from the old Granite State. Very soon the letter was produced and at a glance at the envelope I saw it was from you. I eagerly tore the seal & read. Here, let me say that I thank you for its -------- gave me much pleasure. In the commencement of yours you dwelt somewhat upon what should be our address. I give you full freedom to address as you did. I am happy to know that I am thought worthy to be called your friend. In return I beg leave to address you hereafter as I have now. You say truly, "that the oftener a soldier hears from home the more cheerful and contented he may become." None but a soldier can tell the good it does to get a letter from home. Mothers, sisters and friends can aid their country in more ways than one.
Mothers can write kind motherly letters giving words of warning and cheer to their dear son, sisters can write words of comfort & thoughts & ideals clothed in words that could only come from the depth of a sister's loving heart -- friends can write pleasing and affectionate letters filled with words of kindness of which a soldier keenly feels a want. Yes, kind loving words are rare things in camp and float upon every breeze. Words of sympathy too are not to be heard here in time of mental depression & loneliness. No, you accuse me wrongfully when you say I must have hidden somewhere on the morning of our departure from our home. I was not hidden unless you would call me hidden in the crowd, for I was right in it all the time running from one end of the depot to the other in hopes of finding you and others whom I expected to see. Some of them I saw and others I did not and among the number not seen was yourself & sister & mother. I am sorry not to have seen you and given some parting words but it was just as well perhaps. You say, "receive our thanks for the photograph sent us by me." Well, really I don't know what to make of that. That I never sent you one nor requested one to be sent is most certain for why should I not knowing if it would be acceptable if sent, & having no invitation to send one. I am sure I feel highly complimented & pleased to know the place it takes among your pictures. I think I know how it comes about that you have it. I gave them to Mrs. Miller requesting her to get them to mother in some way. She asked me who they were for. I replied one for mother & sister and the rest for almost anyone who might desire one. Then it must be that she gave you one on the supposition that I shouldn't care, and indeed I do not & you are very welcome to it. I am indeed surprised to know that your family & Mrs. Miller are only casual acquaintances.
I had supposed by what she said of you that she made frequent calls at your home & implied that you returned the same. You say she calls me nephew. The only way in which I am related to her is this. She is cousin to my step-father's daughter. But she is a kind and pleasant lady & I have always liked her. But, it doesn't matter for it was through her that I gained an introduction and therefore formed an agreeable & happy acquaintance. I second the hope you expressed that nothing unpleasant may occur to break it off. As you request your name and our correspondence will not be mentioned in my writings to Mrs. M. So shall it be. In closing you asked me to write all about my journey -- what I have seen &etc. Time and space would forbid a detailed account, but such and so much as this sheet will allow you shall have.
You know under what circumstances we moved from Concord. We passed by way of Manchester, Nashua, Worcester, Providence & Stonington. You know undoubtedly all about Manchester and Nashua so nothing I can tell of these places will be interesting. We were everywhere cheered & at every place flags were waved as if to remind us of our duty & encourage us on. We stopped at Worcester a few moments which I improved in looking about me and found it to be a very pretty place. There is a large common by the railroad & a monument erected to the memory of a Col. of a Mass. regt. of revolutionary times. From here we passed on to Providence, R.I. This is a fine, large city. There is a large artificial pond just by the depot which is surrounded by ---- seats & shade trees. Which makes a fine place for promenading & the whole is very pretty. I saw nothing else of interest for the city is back from the depot. From here we passed to Stonington where we took the boat Plymouth Rock & steamed across the Sound to Jersey City. I think this ride by night upon the water was the most pleasant part of my journey. There was a slight breeze upon the water & the moon & stars were shining brightly. The moon's silvery light was reflected upon the rippling water & stars just rising above the horizon had the appearance of bright lights resting upon the bosom of the water.
We left Stonington about 10 P.M. & arrived in N.Y. Harbor about 6 A.M. on Friday. Here there was plenty to satisfy the curiosity of him who would profit by what he sees & hears. Among the most interesting objects of my imagination was The Great Eastern. We passed very near her as she lay in the harbor waiting for supplies. I saw two forts & so many ships sailing from every clime that their masts made a perfect forest extending far up the Hudson & down the harbor as far as the eye could reach. I saw the steeple of Trinity St. Church, also Castle Gardens. From Jersey City which lies just across the Hudson from N.Y., we passed to Trenton which place is famous as being the point where Washington crossed the Delaware & surprised the Hessians. We passed by the place on our way to Philadelphia. We arrived in P. about 7 P.M. & were at once marched to the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon. There we received a good supper & were treated most kindly by the people. P. is a splendid city & the most beautiful one I ever saw. I think I would love to live there. We stopped there till Saturday morning, then moved on for Washington. We arrived at Baltimore at 8 in the evening and again were on our way at 9. We did not reach Washington til 6 A.M. on Sabbath Morning.
We were at once marched to Capitol Hill where we stopped till Tuesday night when we were ordered to Arlington Heights the other side of the Potomac. Here we stopped just two weeks. Last Sunday night at midnight the orders came to be ready to march at 11 A.M. We were ready at the time & were under marching orders till Tuesday when we started at 6 A.M. - recrossed the Potomac & marched through the city to the other side and for want of transportation were obliged to stay till morning. We had no tents and were obliged to lay down with the ground for a bed and the canopy of heaven for a covering. I lay with face upturned with the moon shining full on my face and gazing at the stars and heavens untill I fell asleep. Early in the morning we were aroused and very soon were all aboard the cars & on our way for Frederick, MD which place we reached about 3 o'clock on Thursday morning.
Here we trod the ground where Rebel troops had trod only a few weeks before. We encamped on the same ground the Rebels had occupied. We stayed here til Friday morning & then took the cars for Sandy Hook where, as you see the date, where we still are. Sandy Hook is a small place of 20 or 25 houses and lies just across the Potomac from Harpers Ferry. How long we shall stop here or where we shall go when we do move are questions not in my power to answer.
I understand we are to be under Burnside so you must look to his movements when enquiring about us. We are in the vicinity of the late skirmish and surrender -- most disgraceful affair. I have seen two houses that were pierced by cannon balls. We are now on the ground occupied by the Rebels & near the scene of John Brown's raid. But, come to look over what I have written and find it is a very long letter and may weary your patience. When I get to writing I don't know when to stop. If I am too lengthy please pardon it.
I will not be irksome again as regards length. Give my love to your mother & sister. Accept this believing me ever as your friend.
D. E. Scott
Near Orleans, Va.
Nov. 7th, 1862
My Dear Mother,
I have written you already two or three letters since I have heard from you, yet I continue to write every week as I promised. Every mail I have looked most eagerly for a letter from home & still none come. Three weeks have already passed since I have heard from the loved ones. It cannot be that you do not write, the fault must be with those who have the handling of the mail. I am very well & have been all the time. I endure these long marches very well although I get very, very tired, cold, and hungry & it looks so hard to see poor, tired, and sick fellows falling down by the road side. This would not seem so hard if they were allowed to lie, but when the rear guard comes up they are made to travel along, being even struck with the bayonet so hard as to draw blood in the efforts of the guard to get them along. That is one of the hardships of war.
We marched last night til 7 PM and I was so tired I could hardly go. All we had for supper was two or three hard crackers and a little coffee I cooked in my dipper and a little piece of pork that I lay over the coals and crisped. When I had eaten this I would have layed down & slept, but no, I had to go and get rails and cut them up for fire & then go off through the fields in pursuit of straw for the Major to lie on. By the time this was accomplished you may rest assured I was glad to lie down. It was very cold yesterday & is still colder today. This while I sit on the ground here by the fire & write on my haversack the snow is flying about me & my fingers are so frozen I can hardly hold my pencil. But it is just as hard if not worse for the enemy, the thought of which makes us feel a little bit better. If Providence blesses me here after as he has before wit good health I can endure it very well. Can't you send me a pair of mittens in a newspaper or in a letter some way? My hands are very cold such a day as this. Knit them soldier fashion with one finger next to the thumb.
We have now been marching 1-½ weeks & we are expecting orders to march any minute this morning. You cannot expect a long letter this morning considering the circumstances under which I write. Give my love to sister and tell her I would like to give her one good hug this morning & put my cold fingers down her neck. How she would jump and look cross. This is sufficient to let you know my position & condition. We are driving the rebels before us & hope soon to meet them
Accept the love of your son,
White Sulpher Springs, Va.
Nov. 14th, 1862
My Dear Mother,
I have taken pen, ink, and portfolio & away from the busy hum & bustle of camp at the foot of a giant pine I seat myself for a long, quiet talk with my dear mother. God only knows how I long to look upon the face of my mother & throw my arms about her neck in one long, affectionate embrace. He too only knows how often I think of home & it's comforts & kind friends. When we are on half rations & snatch at a moldy cracker, subsist on parched corn & salt pork & are in fact deprived of all the comforts & even necessities of civilized life, you cannot wonder that I think of home & sigh for something wholesome to satisfy the demands of nature. With what greediness could I devour a piece of your mince pie, or not to be dainty even a crust from the top of a loaf of your brown bread my mouth waters at the thought. I often think of those delicacies and comforts, but as often as I do I strive to drive away such thoughts for they only tend to make me homesick & discontented. You may easily conclude that I have one of those fits now, judging from my letter which was commenced with thoughts of discontent. But perhaps I can account for this in part from the fact that for two or three days I haven't been very well, & nothing I eat tastes palatable. Now don't be uneasy & worry, & have your dreams disturbed with thoughts of my sickness and even death.
It is nothing but a little ill turn & I shall be over with it in a day or two. Perhaps there is another reason for my discontent this afternoon. The Major came to me last night & said fault had been found with him and the other officers for having so many men detailed from the ranks as servants - that he had no more to do than to occupy one man's time & he would necessarily have to dispense with one, & he knew I had rather be in the ranks than be his butler. He assured me it was not through dissatisfaction - that he was satisfied & he has never found a word of fault. He said I might report to my captain & so of course am now in the ranks a private soldier. I feel this is a dispensation of divine Providence & I have no reason to complain. In fact I don't know as I have any disposition to do so. The only point in which my position is any worse than before, is that I am liable to do guard & picket duty & consequently shall be a little more exposed. Now the points in which I am benefitted are many. My time is now my own & I am free to go where I please within the limits of the camp. I can read, can write, can go by myself in the woods or elsewhere and pray. I can be gone an hour or two without thinking all the time the major will want. I can now read my testament without fear of being --ilted of being a Christian & otherwise ridiculed. I think I have written you before that instead of finding the major a Christian I very often have heard him make light of religion & religious persons & often I have been the object of his derision & the mark at which he aimed his shafts. This you may know was exceedingly painful & grievous to be born but now I am free & can enjoy myself in any devotions far better.
I have never told you lonely and longing for a place and time suitable for worshiping and praising my God, I have been tempted to leave him & go into the ranks where I could have freedom, trusting in my Lord, but often have I felt this. I respect the major as a soldier, & in no other respect. He is a thorough soldier. As regards danger, in the ranks, I shall be in no more now than before, for I know when we come to battle he would place me in the ranks as he did his servant at Williamsburg who was there killed. On the march it was just as hard before as now for I had to carry all my clothing & very frequently a gun. So you see I was not much better off than a private if any, & while at the end of a days a private could eat his supper & lie down to sleep, it was my lot to scour the country for half a mile around in search of straw for the major to lie upon & to bring rails or wood no matter how far & make a fire and do any amount of other running. This you may imagine was not coveted work when one was tired enough to drop down. But in case I was no way bettered than in the one respect of having your freedom & ease in my devotions & time to devote to thoughts of God & the study of his word., I should consider myself favored.
If I am removed from evil influence which bore upon my morals, it is a kind Providence that removed me. But be it as it may I feel confident it is for the best that God's hand is in it, & that He would protect my defenseless head in every time of danger and he will also preserve my faith when open to exposures upon guard duty. I am as well able to endure as there what I shall be called upon to endure & I shall patiently endure all things trusting in God, & knowing that he loves & cares for his children. At first I felt a little bad, but now I don't care at all & surely you cannot. I feel better by far than if I had been discharged through dissatisfactions Nov. 15th. The preceding I wrote last night before it was so dark I could not see, and for want of a candle I had to stop when darkness came in. I was intending to finish early this morning but like all the other or times of war, orders came about 4 o'clock in the morning to be ready to march at daybreak. Just as the sun was rising from behind the eastern barrier- "forward march" sounded along the ranks & then our column was in motion. We had marched only a mile or two when rebel batteries opened upon our baggage trains to cut them off. Our batteries then opened upon the rebs & for an hour there was a right smart cannonading. Our regiment was just in rear of the battery, & we could distinctly see the shells burst, some of them in midair & others near the ground. We could hear the shells whistle and as they burst fragments would fly screeching over our heads.
After our trains were all up with us, we again moved on, & here I am. I don't know where sitting on my knapsack. We are halted for a rest & get a little dinner. I happened to have my writing utensils with me, so I drew them forth. I never attempted to write on the march before, but I was afraid the mail would go & my letter wouldn't be ready & I presume we shall move before I have time to finish now. I received a letter from you and Mrs. Miller yesterday, the first one I have received for three weeks. The letter bore the date Nov. 3rd & the one I received before that Oct. 13th. Now it cannot be that you did not write during all that interval. Not a single week has but I have sent a letter home. I have never received but two papers from any source & I hunger for something to read. Send me papers every two or three days & can you not continue to send me some things. I am nearly out of thread & want some course needles & a piece of beeswax, yarn, - enveloped - paper. There was one of our boys had some dried apples sent in a newspaper which did indeed look most luxurious. Can't you do the same for me? Put a handful or two in a newspaper but don't seal it. If it is very large put on two stamps. I wouldn't work very hard drying the apples for the soldiers, for it's a precious few they will ever get I think. I want a pair of mittens too, made with a forefinger. Can you send them in a paper. You didn't say anything about sister I believe nor she a word to me. Tell Heattie I will write to her very soon & that I received in yours was the first from her that has come to hand.
O' I must tell you that last Sabbath I had the distinct privilege of attending divine worship in a house erected for that purpose in the little village of Jefferson. It was filled with soldiers & a few citizens & the service was really the most civilized thing I have experienced in the army & decidedly the only Sunday I have known. It seemed so good. Tell sister I would have headed this letter with her name, but I didn't think. If she can't make this do for her too, just imagine, tell her, or if she chooses actually change mother" for "sister" & then it will be her letter.
We are expecting to march a long way yet tonight (it is now 3 PM) & while you are quiet in bed, perhaps dreaming of your absent son, I shall be plodding along my weary way, longing for rest, but I'll not anticipate the reality is bad enough. Yes, I am all out of money, having nothing in that line but 4 postage stamps. I didn't have but 5 or 6 dollars when we started from Concord. I had given Arthur $1.75. The rest I have used for things the most of which were necessary. Do you think I'm extravagant? Please send me $1.00 if you can for I don't know when we shall be paid off.
You spoke of the Sabbath on which you wrote being communion day. How gladly I would have been with you God only knows. Such a privilege I could hardly estimate. I would be most happy to be with you more while Mrs. Miller is there inasmuch as thanksgiving draws near. You must have some poor boy occupy my place at your thanksgiving dinner. Tell sister I expect she is about looking up my Christmas gift. All the boys are well. Joseph H. is just as he used to be at C- only his morals have taken a lower standpoint. Arthur & Willie I have not seen since morning. Both have degenerated on a morals point view. Willie with a good deal of awkwardness & it must be with sacrifice of pride has learned to smoke a pipe & puff a cigar. O' such foolishness! Give my regards to Mr. & Mrs. Watson, the Mrs. Thornberry & everyone who may enquire for me, love for sister & yourself. Look in the papers for news till you hear from me next week.
Accept this from your affectionate son,
Don E. Scott
Tuesday, Dec. 16th, 1862
Thank God for my safe delivery from the dangers to which I have been exposed in the late battle fought on Saturday the 13th. My pen fails to express the gratitude I feel for the protection exercised over me by my God. Our regiment was exposed to the rebel fire all day and from 1 o'clock to 6 we were in the thickest of the battle. O' that may I never be the witness to another such scene. It was dreadful, dreadful. I did not receive the slightest wound. Since the battle I have been nurse in the hospital, caring for the wounded, dressing their wounds, and administering in every way to their needs.
I left the battlefield after all the firing had ceased about 6 o'clock, a wounded man leaning on my arm and started for the hospital which is in an old brick storehouse just in the city's edge on the river bank. I was up all night caring for the wounded as they were brought in & all day yesterday. Our Regt. Was badly cut up. It is reported 200 are killed, wounded, and missing. This will serve to quiet your anxiety & fear which undoubtedly you feel on my behalf. May your trust be firm in God as is mine & commend me every day to his care.
The battle is not over here yet and I fear many more precious lives must be lost altogether and others made miserable before the enemy is dislodged from their stronghold they occupy on the bluff behind the city. I say, notwithstanding I have escaped harm once, lay down my life in my country's defense when we are called upon to enter the battlefield again, but my heart & confidence in my God is unshaken. Let His will be done.
I hope this will reach you very soon. You will pardon my brevity for I am very tired and busy. This will tell you I am well and free from harm. I will write to give you more particulars as soon as possible.
Accept this with the love of your
PS. I send a few memento's taken here in the city. Some leaves from a Virgil and some other things I would send but I find my letter to full. Save them.
Dec. 21st, 1862
My Dear Mother,
Three or four days ago I sent you a few penciled words to relieve your anxiety & to assure you of my safety, promising to write again soon. It is the Sabbath but nothing has transpired to remind me of its sacredness. No familiar ringing of church bells reaches my ears - no tinkling of sleigh bells which seemingly have done with the gaiety they have on other days for the more serious tone as they warn the wayside churchman of the encroaching hour of worship. In fact there has been nothing, not even a prayer have I heard offered on this Holy day save from my own lips. You must be assured that it is trying to the Christian soul to be thus deprived of all religious advantages.
There has been the usual military parade, inspection of arms in the morning & dress parade in the evening. Both these duties I performed, washed myself all over and overhauled my little wardrobe containing one shirt, one pair of drawers, one pair of stockings, all sweet and clean. I exchanged them for the dirty & ragged one I have worn since the battle. This done I performed my toilet, read some precious passages from my Testament and sundry other things until at last darkness has closed in upon me, and having dispatched my supper, I seat myself before my fireplace and by the light it affords am I in silent commune with those I so dearly love, and sweet it is to do this commune.
You would feel richly rewarded I am sure were you a bird, if you would just wing your way to the banks of the Rappahannock & sit here before the blazing fire, curled up in my blanket with my writing on my knees, head bent forward to catch the light. Although the bleak Dec. wind whistles furiously & without it is cold & dreary, yet if you would just step in you would find me warm and comfortable. You cannot stand in my humble cot for it is scarcely high enough for one in the sitting posture & in moving have a care, for my tent-mates lie sleeping beside me, each wrapped in his blanket which is all of his bedding. I would give you a place at the fire and place on an extra stick while the same Yankee ingenuity would permit you to examine my fireplace as favored me in making it. It is a very Yankee institution I can assure you & served a Yankee purpose. It is composed of simply turf & mud. The wood we must necessarily burn to keep from freezing has to be brought a full half mile on our backs & the same with water. My two tent-mates are sick & I have it all to bring besides nursing them. It is very cold here now. We are experiencing such weather as you have in Nov. in NH. But I hope it will soon be warmer. Although the battle was fought a week ago yesterday yet I have not fully recovered from the effects of it. I wish that I had the ready writers practiced art that I might picture to your imagination the scenes that met my vision the dreadful, dreadful day. Yet I would not for I would spare you the shock it would give your sensitive nature, for no one could look upon such a scene & not have his nerves terribly tried.
On Thursday morning, the 11th, while I was still wrapped in my blanket at 5 o'clock, the booming of distant cannon was heard. At first it was irregular, but by 6 there was a continuous roar. Very soon after the cannonading commenced we had orders to march at day break. Our breakfasts were speedily dispatched and at the appointed time with three days rations in our haversacks we were drawn up in line of battle. Very soon in light marching order we were on our way to the point whence came the sound of cannonade which had become terrific and all supposed toward the battlefield. Each was busy with his own thought & but little was said save for a casual remark about the firing. All along our way we passed troops& in turn troops passed us, all silently winding our way toward the scene of action. Looking in all directions thousands could be seen marching toward our common center. We marched to the top of the hills on the North side of the Rappahannock, just opposite the city. The firing of the cannon was unabated & at 10 AM the rapidity of firing & continual roar of the cannon was unabated and beyond description. At noon the firing ceased altogether but was resumed again at One PM & continued at irregular intervals till sunset.
We lay in the mud all day listening to the roaring cannon but were to far in the rear to suffer harm. At nightfall we were marched back to our camp to rest for the night. Early on the morrow we were on our way to the scene of action. The cannon had already commenced playing but not so fiercely as before. About 9 o'clock on Friday morning we crossed the river and entered the ruined city. It was sad to witness the destruction of property & not only the destruction of property but of life. There was scarcely a house in the city that was not perfectly riddled with shot & shell and there were five rebels lying cold in death. It was shocking to look at their mutilated forms. There was one with leg and arms torn completely from his body. There is one with the entrails torn from the stomach and here another with the head completely gone. We lay in the city just on the bank of the river during the day & night being all the while shelled by the rebels in the rear of the town on the hills where they have embankments & rifle pits.
On Saturday morning we marched to the upper end of the town, there shelling us meanwhile. We lay ther till 12 Noon when the musketry firing which commenced in the morning became more general and we were ordered forward. We passed up a street that faced the rebel batteries & were here halted for 30 minutes when the order again came "forward 11th" & in five minutes were drawn in line of battle & charged upon the rebel works. We advanced of two series of rising ground & it was in this charge we suffered the most severely. The enemies batteries poured in a most galling fire of shot & shell upon us and the infantry, protected by their rifle pits poured in a murderous fire upon our advancing column. Everything was in uproar and confusion. The booming of cannon, the bursting of shell, the roar of musketry, the groans and cries of the wounded and dying, the wild cries of officers encouraging their men forward & the cheering of the men as they rushed upon the foe all combined to make a scene that is highly exciting to say the least.
O that was a day long to be remembered & God grant that I may never witness the like again. In the confusion of this battle I lost my regiment & may have been reported missing, but I hope you will not be occasioned any undue anxiety. I could tell you of my many hair breadth escapes but it will do no good & I am only grateful, more so than I can express, for the safe deliverance from the dangers of the battlefield. My courage is still good & in God I place my trust. I find my writing has grown dim but I have no ink & that was the only paper. If you cannot read it you must let it go.
This in love, Don
I sent some other things taken in F. Love to Sis & all. Send me thick paper.
Near Fredericksburg, Va.
Dec. 31st, 1862
My Dear Mother,
I little more than a week ago I wrote you a penciled sheet but under different circumstances than I am now. I am opposite F _ in a cut ravine formed by a brook which empties into the river a little way down from us, doing picket duty. Our regiment is all out on picket, having been rousted up at 6 ½ AM, mustered for pay, and immediately thereafter were formed in line and marched down here, where we can plainly see the city - rebel pickets -their embankments & breast works upon the hills in the rear of the town, and in the rear of these the tented fields are visible. It is a raw, cold day. It rained just enough last night to make it muddy & most disagreeable underfoot & today the dark, thick clouds shut out the light & heat of the sun & the cold wind makes us shiver, & gathers closer round the fire. Even now I am seated by a fire of secesh logs, for I tell you we do not mind using a good deal of wood such days as this, especially when we think of the owners.
Tonight while you are quietly sleeping in your soft bed, I shall be walking my lonely beat, keeping at the same time a close watch of rebel movements, while visions of home & all home comforts will float o'er my mind. Thoughts of the happiness & comforts that is yours and all that you are enjoying make me discontented sometimes, but I refrain myself, for it is only a part of a soldiers discipline to endure patiently all his privations & hardships. I am very grateful for the last letter from home - one from you and sister, which I am sure is the best I've ever received from either of you. Mother's was fraught with the deepest anxiety for the welfare of a son which she had no means of knowing was alive or dead. Such love was pictured in those words too as none but a mother feels, & such words of comfort and cheer as none but a mother were found in the precious sheet. I can minister, sister's was not wanting the grief a sister would for a loved brother in circumstances of which she knew not the nature and the anxiety caused by suspense which is often worse that the reality, which was so apparent in her note, was but expressive of the affection she feels for her absent brother.
O I wish you a happy New Year! I know I have the start of you this time. Yes, it is January 1st, 1863 way down here on the banks of the Rappahannock & it must be in N.N. I did not have time to finish writing last night before it came my time to relieve those in the pits close down to the river. I went on duty just at dark to be relieved at 12, being on my post 6 successive hours without any fire. It was rather cold & I suffered some; but with rapid walking to & fro, stamping of feet and clapping of hands I managed to keep from freezing at least.
I watched the old year as it drew nearer & nearer to its close and counted the minutes as they grew less and less until the old year faded entirely away and was gone forever; but the New Year rolled on in rapid succession & quickly took the place of the year that was gone, & I could no longer say 1862 but 1863 was full upon me. I could but contrast my condition one year ago with that of the present. Last year I sat quietly in the study of a schoolmate easily chatting upon various topics as we drew close to the roaring fire, for I remember it was a cold night, & thus saw the old year fade away & the new year dawn. But have marked the contrast. This year I stand upon the banks of the Rappahannock doing picket duty; watching closely the movements of the rebels, at the same time exerting myself to keep from freezing now rapidly pacing my lonely beat while thoughts of loved ones, of home, a cozy little room, a bright fire - a warm bed - in short each comforts home affords, crowded my mind, 7 with pleasure I recalled the pleasant scenes through which I passed a year ago, & when I contrasted them with my present circumstances, my pleasure was turned to sadness for a moment & only for a moment. For I remember that my course is directed by the unerring hand of my God & Heavenly Father, and how could I wish to change or refine at what he directs.
The works of Dickens which sister spoke of mailing with ther last has not yet arrived much to my disappointment. I am very glad you have in prospect the sending of a box to me. If you have not already done so, I wish however, if you have not sent it, that you would wait a little for there are strong indications of a move & they say to Alexandria. It is said that transportation has already been engaged. This may be a false report, but it comes from quite a reliable source & it is quite currently reported that we go A_ to go into winter quarters or go down the river to some point unknown. Before I heard of your sending me boots I had the opportunity to buy a good pair of calf boots for $4.00 & I thought it wise to improves fit. I'm not in pressing need of anything but paper & envelopes & stamps. But if you have already sent it I can without difficulty sell the boots if the box reaches me. I'm very glad my piece has appeared in the papers. I am still more encouraged to write for I know my writing has some degree of merit.
I will try again sometime. Don't worry anymore about my suffering more than A & U. Although my tent is not quite so commodious I can make it just as comfortable. Pray often for me that I may stand firm in Christ & never ashamed to own his name.
Accept this with the love of a son,
|1862 Letters||1863 Letters||1864 Letters||1865 Letters|
Opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
Jan. 2nd, 1863
My Dear Mother,
Not quite a week has passed since I wrote you last, but I know you are anxious to hear from your soldier boy, & I improve this opportunity to write I received a nice long & very affectionate letter two or three days since bearing date Jan. 1st, enclosed within which was a little note from Jennie & some paper & one stamp. It was very gratefully received and eagerly devoured, that is to say the contents. Your account to Fred Badger's funeral services was very interesting & judging from the account it must have been a sad, impressive & certainly unwanted scene. The young man forespoke of dying from Henniker was a tentmate of mine. I think I have written sister about him, yes I am quite sure I have. I was quite surprised to hear of Mr. Sargent's death. Had he been confined the house long? It was still more surprising to learn father so soon closed his labors in W_. I am now very anxious to learn where you will go. _ _ matters _ _ however where you are, for wherever it may be, you will have a home; while I may pray ever need one, other than the tented field, if in the good Providence of God I am allowed to return I will soon earn for myself a home.
Many thanks to Mrs. Hoyt for her kind remembrance of me, & to all others who may express a kind wish in my behalf. You say write all the particulars about those you know ell. Willie came into my tent last night & stopped a long while. We chatted quite pleasantly of by gone days & with the eye of hope looked forward into the future. Time passed so pleasantly, that are we ever aware, the drums beat for roll-call. This is an occurrence so uncommon that I can hardly account for it. He has bought a newspaper lately for which he paid $4.00 & I have thought he might have come into share it, for he came in smoking. He is very well. Arthur is living an easy, lazy life. Has nothing to do but eat, drink, smoke, swear, and be merry. John Badger is quite well now - seems to feel the death of Fred, but takes no lesson from the timely warning of his brother's death. He is only profane. It would shock his poor mother to hear him blaspheme the name of his Creator as he does sometimes.
Let me ask here while I think of it, has John Kliner experienced liquor? Such is the report. All the other Warner boys are well I believe. I have nothing in particular to say to them nor they to me. We all stay most of the times in our own tents, & use what spare time we have as best suits our fancy. I wrote you in my last about the box & the recent army provisions which you have learned ere this from the papers. The stanzas as you copied & are very pretty. I want nothing you can send now except some paper. I have had my clothing except a pr. of pants since leaving Concord & these quite recently. I am very much interested in Great Expectations and am reading it as fast as possible. His style is splendid.
You asked me about my money matters which question I have never answered. We were paid off the first of Jan. just after the reception of your $1.00 received. I received $22.00 making what I had received $23.00 and paid Arthur $9.00 and four dollars borrowed money, which left here $10.00. Just after the battle I bought my boots for four dollars which left me with what I had spent. $5.00 I had is all gone now but about $1.00, & I will have the money ($4.00) which I got for the boots you sent me. That is an account of my financial affairs. I will send you back the $4.00 by Mr. Hoyt if I knew when we were to be paid soon, but we may not be paid for months to come, & I do not like to be without money entirely. While I think of it I will send the $1.00.
Mr. Hoyt was gladly welcomed by the boys. It did me good to see & converse with him. He told me this morning that he had written home saying I was unwell. So I have been but am perfectly well now. So don't worry. It was the effects of that night on picket. I will send you my watch and a little package by Mr. H. I'll not write a long letter this time. Give my love to Sis & Jennie and all. Tell the friends I've not forgotten them but cannot write now and have so many correspondences still. Tell Mrs. D. I am all out of patience & have nearly given up the idea of hearing from her again. What can be the reason I do not hear from Mrs. Miller & Mary H. too? They are all negligent or something is the matter.
But I will close by signing myself - continue to strive & pray for me. Pray Mother dear most earnestly for your affectionate son,
Near Fredericksburg, Va.
Jan. 12th, 1863
Dearest and only Sister,
I have repeatedly received kind and sisterly letters from you, without giving any answer directly to you, so notwithstanding the last message from home was from mother' s pen. This shall be for you. I am not in a writing mood this morning but the time has come to dispatch my weekly message, and feeling must not interfere with discharge of duty. The reason for my being in a mood ill-suited for letter writing is owing to a feeling of loneliness and despondency which has crept over me on account of the death of a comrade & tentmate. For the fifth time death has entered our company & snatched away his unsuspecting victim. The fallen comrade is Wm Wadsworth of Henniker. I've been acquainted with him since I first went to Henniker to school. He was not I believe a professing Christian. Poor fellow! I hope he was prepared for his final charge. You will have heard in this reaching you of the death of Fred Badger. God only knows whose turn it will be next. It is not impossible that before these lines meet the eye of the intended reader, the hand which is now penciling this may be cold and stiff. Death with its missing aim may strike the unsuspecting heart of her brother & son. But although death may come at an hour when I think not, I trust and pray that it may have my lamp primed & burning. Although God I believe in his infinite love and mercy will spare my life & enable me to return at some not very distant day to my home & friends; yet the fortunes of war are so changing & life is so uncertain, I dare not attempt to tell what a day may bring forth.
I know that & am in the hands of an all wise God, & he cares for me; not for any worthiness of my own but for Jesus's sake he loves me, loves me with such a love as mortals never feel. I cannot as for life or health. "He doeth all things well" and my days are all remembered. If sickness comes I'll love and kiss the rod, knowing that he who wields it, "does not willingly afflict the children of men," if death seizes me for its victim, I cannot wish for life, for God thus wills it. My confidence and trust in God, who is good & whose tender mercies endureth forever, is firm & unshaken. Hoping as I do and believing that I am prepared to die as to patiently endure my dispensations of Providence, I can sincerely say, "Thy will be done."
There are several sick in the company now, among them is Joseph Hoyt, and I am sorry, very sorry to say that I have strong fears of his not recovering. It is dreadful to be sick here. O it is uncivilized, barbarous, to see a man so sick as to be unable to hold up his head, compelled to lie upon the cold ground, with nothing for a shelter but a common piece of cotton cloth, and nothing to cover him but a coarse woolen blanket. There is no kind hand to smooth the fevered brow, & we sadly miss a mother's kind care. It is almost certain death to be sick here. My health, God be praised, has never been better in my life. I have not seen a real sick day since I came from home.
Speaking about the box you have finally sent a long time ago & mentioned some articles I was in need of, & which I thought you might send me by express, remarking at the same time that I wouldn't hazard the attempt of sending it then, but to delay a little, if perchance we might go into winter quarters or arrive at some place where it could be more easily obtained than here. Well the next letter received relative to the matter stated that you had already purchased the boots & had some other things in readiness which you had carried to Mr. Hoyt's to send with Joseph's things. When I replied to this letter I made no mention of the matter, knowing that the box would be on the way before the letter would reach you. You wrote next that you couldn't get the rest of my things in readiness soon enough to go in Joseph's box. I immediately replied to delay sending them for the present as I had succeeded in purchasing a pair of boots & was suffering for nothing you could furnish. About a week since I received a letter saying that you were disappointed that I had not mentioned whether I was still in want of the things I had mentioned & at the close you said you had made arrangements with Mrs. B. to send my things. By this I knew you could not have received my last.
Last night I received a letter bearing the date of Jan. 9th saying the box was started on Jan. 3rd. I shall not be sorry to receive it. The boots I can sell for a good sum & the other things will be very welcome. As it happened it was quite fortunate you did not send with Mr. Hoyt, for Joseph's box is lost, it having fallen out at the hind end of the wagon on the way from the depot & someone picked it up directing for their own good.
What I have written about the box is designed more expressly for mother. Another too has blamed me several times, twice to say the least for not acknowledging the receipt of things sent. Now it cannot be you receive all my letters, for twice can I distinctly remember of having acknowledged the receipt of dried apples, $1.00 in money, needles, yarn, wax, etc. And while I think of it I will ask you to send me some paper. You can send quite a lot. With your letter yesterday I received two papers, one containing my piece. I have not yet received the novel of Dickens' which you spoke of having sent, & am much disappointed. I am very grateful indeed for the interest you speak of being manifested in my behalf by the good people of Warner. Give all my love and tell them they are all kindly remembered. Tell Mrs. Davis and Miss Mary Harris I am waiting very impatiently for some word from them. Mother spoke of my first letter after the battle not being written as soon and sent so soon as the other boys. My first was written the Tuesday after and sent Wednesday morning. I have sent you three previous to this since the battle. I began this Monday morning, and as we had to go on picket I have delayed finishing till today, Thursday. Joseph was carried to the hospital this morning & I fear he will die, Poor fellow! But very soon I must go out to drill & I will close this.
Write soon and cease not to pray for yours,
Brother & son,
Near Fredericksburg, Va.
Jan. 21st, 1863
I just a week ago wrote home directing to sister, & the same day a letter came from you the receipt of which I acknowledged. Yes, one day I was made happy by a kind letter from you & the next I was as you can imagine very, very glad & overjoyed at the reception of the long looked for and longed for box. Friday the 16th it came & you might have in some degree judged my feeling at the time. Could you have stood before my tent & seen the sheet iron fly, and how eager were the eyes of the lawful owners to catch the first glimpse of the contents as the cover flew open. And then I know it must have been interesting to a looker on to have heard the 6 ho's & other expressions of astonishment that escaped our lips as we drew forth now a rosy cheeked, tempting apple, and again the nice warm socks, splendid apple (dried), & tempting cake & snaps. The whole was inexpressibly good & many thanks to those whose kind hands so nicely prepared them. The vest sits well & is very comfortable this cold weather. The comforter was just what I wanted, the cravats I gave away.
But imagine my feelings when shortly after I had opened the box the orders came to be ready to march the next morning a7 &. There I was - I had my choice to throw away the things or carry them. I immediately set myself about disposing of my boots. But here I experienced no difficulty. In a little while I succeeded in selling them for $4.00. But as good fortune would have it we did not move the next day & have not yet so I am enjoying finely the apple you sent, & should be the cakes, but they have long since disappeared. Suffice it to say I am richly paid for all the trouble & expense it was for getting it here, although the trouble was laid upon our hands. How much was the express bill? Yes, I am exceedingly glad to hear that sister has at last decided to write herself with people of her mother's brother's & to be husband's creed - the people whom I believe possess the true doctrine of the bible & religion of Jesus Christ. I'm not glad she's a Congregationalist simply because you & I are; but I am glad if she has so studied into the truths & doctrines of the bible as to become convinced that what they believe, is the true religion and what the bible teaches. I am not ready to at once embrace the idea of her going to California. Yet if she feels that to be God's will I cannot say no. I fear if she goes there before I am permitted in the Providence of God to return to home & friends I shall not see her again very soon if ever. But where ever she may be may God be there to protect & bless.
I feel that in all probability enjoyed the influence of my sister's society all that I am destined to. In the course of nature we have both arrived at that age when our paths must diverge, and each must pursue his & her allotted way till time with us shall cease and we shall go home to rest from all our toils.
There we shall meet never to part, & with the redeemed unite in singing praises to the Lamb that was slain - during the eternal ages. I do not wish for death, but I long for my heavenly home. I want to be at rest & yet I would live many years if it be God's will, & devote those years to the cause of Christ. If I know my own heart I have a longing desire to do something for Christ who has done so much for me, & would fain know that I have been an instrument in God's hands of doing good. I ask in His house - or to assemble in the house of prayer, & raise our hearts in united prayer & praise. But I must patiently forego these pleasures, remembering it was God that thus ordered it, & in patience & trust bide his own good time for return unto the scenes in which I have for so long a time been accustomed.
We are having a terrible storm here now. It commenced last night. The wind blows furiously & mingled with this, or born along by it is cold, sleety rain. If it were not for setting you at once to worrying about my comfort, I would tell you all about how I stood last night upon the banks of the Rappahannock or rather sat all curled up under the bank to escape the fury of the wind & rain which in vain strove to pierce the rubber blanket which I had rapt about me - & how I sat there peering through the darkness out upon the river to take care that no rebel spy should pass under cover of the darkness & gain any knowledge which might be of service, I could but think of you at home & laugh at the contrast in our condition - & how one marched back to our camp (about 2 miles) in a drenching rain only to find our tents in one vast mud puddle. As can be imagined, with clothes wet to the skin - with no fire to dry them - with nothing to shelter us from the fast falling rain but cotton cloth, & this poor apology of a covering placed over a puddle of water, we felt decidedly most miserable. But we made the best of it. We knocked a box to pieces & made a kind of floor to our tents, built a fire in the fireplace - dried our clothes & wet limbs, & by bed time were able to lie down & sleep soundly till this morning. The storm is still unabated & the wind rages with great fury. It seems as if Providence was against us. For we were on the eve of great events, just as this storm began.
Our regiment had been & still is under marching orders. Troops & artillery had been moving for two days up the river. Their destination is unknown of course, but it is supposed we all are going up the river a few miles & join our reserve forces under Sigel & together cross & come down upon the rebel's flank. While this is being done artillery is to be stationed in front of Fredericksburg & other demonstrations are to be made in front as a feint to attract their attention. Just as these plans were on the eve of consummation this storm began & now everything is stuck fast in the mud. When the storm clears away the original plans may be carried out, but in all probability by that time all our plans will be known to the enemy. But "he doeth all things well" & we must learn to labor to wait. It may turn in our favor yet. Before this reached you we may again be called into action, but don't have undue anxiety on my account, for if I escape free from harm, all well & God be praised, for I know it will work for my good & He will sustain me under every trial. If I am killed, God be praised, for then I shall be at rest with Jesus, & dear mother don't wish for me for the loss you will sustain in the death of your son, will be my unspeakable gain & ere long you will meet me in eternity.
Joseph H. is recovering somewhat from his sickness. He has been carried to the general hospital at W- or Aquia Creek. A & W are well. There were 5 deserted from our company the other night. Jubal Eaton, Clark, Henry Morse, George Roby, & Thomas Flanders - foolish fellows.
You have complained some because my letters were not more interesting & written in detail. Well I have written a long letter this time & mentioned everything I think will be of interest. O I have forgotten to mention who tentmates are. They are Wm. Harriman & George Clark, both of Henniker. One is a moral fellow & the other I'm afraid to say is profane and ungodly. His mother is a Christian & would blush to hear her son thus profane. I may do him good.
Perhaps I'm still not for riches for they take to themselves wings & fly away. I ask no for honor, for the few paltry, transitory laurels which man can bestow. I ask for none of these nor ought else save that my name may be recorded in the Lambs book of life as one who has benefitted his fellows. God only knows how many times I have longed to unite with the people of God in worshipping Him, seated quietly. I'm very well with the exception of a cold I caught yesterday. I'm hopeful, trusted & ever confiding in my God. Love to sister, Jennie, father & all who may inquire from me. Why doesn't Mary H. write me? I send my piece back which I wish to preserve.
In this letter Scott mentions his tentmates, 5 deserters, and Joseph Hoyt.
Harriman, William G. Co. D.; b. Henniker; age 19; res. Henniker, cred. Henniker; enl. Aug. 16, '62 ; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; must. out June 4, '65. P. O. ad., Meddybemps, Me.
Clark, George. Co. D.; b. Henniker; age 25; res. Henniker, cred . Henniker; enl. Aug. 13, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; must. out June 4, '65. P. O. ad., Plantsville, Conn.
Eaton, Jubal. Co. D.; b. Warner; age 22; res. Warner, cred. Warner; enl. Aug. 18, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; des. Dec. 20, '62; reported May 10, '65, underPresident's Proclamation; disch. May 11, '65. P. O. ad., Hillsborough. See 1 N.H.V.
Clark, George. Co. D.; b. Henniker; age 25; res. Henniker, cred. Henniker; enl. Aug . 13, '62 ; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; must. out June 4, '65. P. O. ad., Plantsville, Conn.
Morse, Henry W. Co. D.; b. Bradford; age 20; res. Sutton, cred. Sutton; enl. Aug. 21, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv. des. Dec. 20, '62, Falmouth, Va.; reported May 2, '65, under President's Proclamation; disch. May 5, '65 . P. O. ad., Sutton.
Roby, George. Co. D.; b. Sutton; age 27; res. Warner, cred. Warner; enl. Aug. 21, '62;, must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; tr. to 2 Batt'l, I. C., Nov. 15,'63; not assigned to company; disch. Aug. 5, '65, Washington, DC. P. O. ad., Sutton.
Flanders, Thomas B. Co . D ; b. Warner ; age 31 ; res . Warner, and . Warner ; enl. Aug. 22, '62 ; must . in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv. ; des . Dec. 20, '62, Falmouth, Va. P. O . ad ., Warner
His friend Joseph Hoyt: Scott mentions Hoyt being taken to hospital at either "W-" or Aquia Creek.
Hoyt, Joseph B. Co. D.; b. Warner; age 21; res. Warner, cred. Warner; enl. Aug. 14, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv. Died, dis. Feb. 5, '63, Aquia Creek, Va.
Opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
Feb. 2nd, 1863
A week ago I wrote you and sent it by Mr. Hoyt, but I presume he might stop in Washington some time with Joseph, & this may reach you before my last, & consequently make a long time before you hear from me& wish it were otherwise, inasmuch as Mr. Hoyt told me of writing that I was unwell, which indeed I was at the time of writing. But it was only a ill turn foul stomach & dizziness which I very soon recovered from. I would that you might hear from me very soon lest you worry & grow too anxious concerning my welfare. But rest assured I am quite well now & hearty as ever. I very unexpectedly met with a classmate while at Meriden yesterday. Vincent by name. I presume you may have heard me mention his name. he is in a Mass. Regt., being from that State. Almost his first remark was, "why, you are looking tough," and I remember Mr. Hoyt remarked that he should have hardly known me. Well I can see I have grown quite fleshy in the face & I weigh considerably more now than when I left home.
I have received two letters from you since writing home - one from Jan. 18th in which was a little note from Jennie & the other bearing date Jan. 25th, in which was one from sister. I need not say they both were very welcome & eagerly read. If you could see me from some obscure place as I read the home sheets, ever & now you might see a tear drop of joy course down my cheek, as my eye scans the words of comfort, cheer & love, & as I read the words of commendation for soldierly bearing. Yes. Must confess that the soldier who has faced the cannons mouth, was affected even to tears by reading kind, loving & encouraging words from a fond mother and loving sister. It is a great comfort to me to know that I have any soldierly qualities that are recognized by the friends at home. Come to read over the two last letters I have received, which I have just done, I find I had received the one of Jan. 18th, when I last wrote.
You ask how get letters two & from Washington. I'll explain. Each company officer has a little bag hung up at the side of his tent, with the letter of the company marked upon it. In this the privates & non-commissioned officers place their letters. At about 4 PM the Chaplain comes to each bag & empties their contents into the regimental mail bag., which he carries to Head Quarters of Brigade. Each regiment does the same. The whole is then carried by team to the Creek where not only our mail but that of the whole Army of the Potomac is put aboard the boat & carried to Washington.
The mail coming to the soldiers is first distributed by Corps, then into Divisions, then into brigades & regiments. When the Chaplain gets the mail for our regiment he takes it to his tent & distributes into companies. The company officers then go with the little bags & get the mail for the several companies, which is then given to the soldiers.
I know you would be amused, could you see us upon a morning as the Capt. Calls us to fall in for mail, tumble out head foremost & feet foremost, & sometimes with no part of the body first, but literally rolling out, the prevailing idea being any way to get out first, and as we gather around the Capt., eagerly listen as each name is called, hoping & still hardly daring to hope their name will be called next. And then when all are distributed there are cheerful & sorry faces to be seen. Those who hoped to meet disappointment, turn away with a downcast look, while those whose hopes were realized have continuances lighted by cheerfulness, & rush as eagerly back to their tents as they came out, to feast upon the contents of the letter received; unless it be some whose impatience overcomes their prudence & they tear the seal in the strut, at the expense & aggravation of those who received nothing.
You speak of the army being under marching orders, or at least reading something to that effect in the papers. I think it must have referred to the late attempted move of Burnside's, which was stopped rather prematurely by the late storm. Yes it seems sometimes as if Providence was against us. We were on the eve of great events & had reason to hope we should have met with success, when a terrible storm was sent upon us, which stuck everything fast in the mud, & the movement was abandoned. No there is no danger of moving at present, for there is so much mud we cannot move,. Perhaps providence saved us from a more disastrous defeat, by visiting us as he did. It seems to me as you say it does to you that this is the darkest hour in the history of this rebellion. But is always darkest just before day: let us hope on, hope ever.
Many thanks to the good people of Warner for the high estimation in which I am held by them. I have rec'd a letter from Mrs. D. & one from Lizzie within a few days. I have received the paper containing paper, & you must have received the letter acknowledging the receipt of the box before this. I have read Great Expectations nearly through. It has been the means filing away a good many otherwise weary & heavy moments. Very many thanks are due you dear sister, for the many words of encouragement & may say of praise & commendation, which I found in your half sheet of the 25th inst. Yes, I am trying to be a true soldier, in every sense of the word - & both a soldier of the Cross & the country. Your description of cheerfulness or rather one who has this amiable quality was very good, & if everyone believed as you say, for sure they would strive to gain this estimable trait of character. I think I have this trait to some degree, at least I try to cultivate it as much as I can, though I labor under rather adverse circumstances.
My trust in God never waivers, & every night as my head strikes my knapsack I think of his goodness in preserving me & mine & thanking him commend myself anew to his Almighty protection, because I know he cares for me, & I know too that I have the prayers of a mother & sister that feel for me as deeply as it is possible for mortals to love a fellow creature. You ask if I carry out that scripture injunction which is given to Christians "visit the sick." Yes, as much as it is in my power to do. Our great hindrance to this is the exclusion of privates from the hospital, visiting the sick, those who are sick in their hearts, often visit, cheering them as much as I can. I know very well the differences by ---- pulpit preaching & bedside oratory. But I must close.
Love to mother & sister as I can see I have written this to both of you.
Newport News, Va.
Feb. 12th, 1863
I presume you will look with surprise at the date of this as I do about me. Everything so new and strange. You may have heard of the late movement of the 9th Army Corps however by this time. Monday Morning we were awakened at 4 o'clock with orders to be in readiness to fall into line at daylight with all our things packed in our knapsacks & three days rations in our haversacks. As was natural, all were eager & expectant. It was reported we were going to Fortress Monroe, but still no one knew. A little after noon we took the cars at Falmouth & soon left the ill-fated city of Fredericksburg far behind. We rode to Aquia Creek & just at nightfall were aboard the steamer North American anchored a half mile out in the creek. We rode at anchor till morning and with the dawns early light we were fairly on our way, steaming beautifully down the broad waters of the Potomac. O it is a splendid river, yet so unlike a river, so broad and mighty.
I saw Otis Osgood at Aquia Creek where he is at work in the Quarter Masters Dept. On Tuesday evening after coming down the Potomac and over the broad expanse of water known as the Chesapeake Bay we anchored within a short distance of Fortress Monroe. We were rocked to sleep by the continual swaying & pitching of the boat, we can still feel that same motion and if I couldn't place firm reliance on my eyes, which tell me I'm on terra firma, I should think I was still being tossed by the ceaseless waves. As morning dawned, the fort with its huge proportions rose full in view on our right & the Rip Raps on our left. We lay there till about 9 AM and I had a fine chance to see all that was to be seen. Sewall's Point was in plain sight where the rebs have had their first battery planted. I would have liked very much to have gone ashore & examined the fort, but this I couldn't do. It is a perfect Gibraltar and it would seem a perfect impossibility to capture it. It would seem a blunder on the part of the rebels that at the breaking out of this rebellion the traitors did not first seize this stronghold.
Well at about 9 AM we are again underway & after a two hour ride came alongside the wharf at Newport News, and here the 9th A. C. is encamped. How long we shall stop here, or where we shall go if we leave is altogether unknown. It is rumored that we stay a week or two and then go on an expedition to one of the Carolinas. But it is merely rumor, no one knows but those high in command. But wherever we are I have the blessed assurance of God's presence and protection. We are camped now close by the water, where if it were only warm weather we could bathe & enjoy ourselves finely. There are plenty of oysters to be had at, 25 cts. per quart, 50 cts. per bushel in the shell. I think we shall enjoy ourselves in this delightful place, much better than in Va. mud. We are in full sight of the wrecks of the ill-fated Congress & Cumberland. I wrote you in the letter I sent by Mr. Hoyt that I would send my batch by him, but I sent so many thing that I was ashamed to send any more, & kept it.
I received a letter from Miss Georgie & Mattie Morse, who speak of a visit from sister and Mrs. Miller. I have received nothing from you for some time longer than is usual for me to wait, but is owing to our living on the move & for the same reason I have not written you before my usual time for writing was only days ago. You will direct your letters as before. I'm on detached service now, doing Provost guard duty so am not with the regiment. I just heard today of the death of Jo Hoyt. Poor fellow! But I'll not stop to write more for I'm just ordered out.
February 17, 1863
To the Selectmen of Warner, we the undersigned legal voters of said town, request you would insert an article in the warrant of the next town meeting to see if the voters of said town, will instruct the Selectmen to pay Don E. Scott, a soldier in the 11th N.H. Regiment, a bounty of one hundred and fifty dollars as was paid by said town to other enlisted soldiers under similar circumstances and appropriate the necessary sum of money to pay said bounty.
Newport News, Va.
Feb. 17th, 1863
Although I have received no word from home since the first of February, still I will not forbear to send you my weekly message. Rain, rain, rain; blow, blow, blow. O dear what a storm we are having. It has rained almost incessantly for two days & nights & now while I write the rain is driving against my tent & the water is beginning to creep into the tent & we shall soon be drowned out if it does not stop raining. I sit all curled up in my tent with my blankets about me to keep warm & write on y account book. But I'm thankful to get out of the Va. wind. When I wrote last I spoke of being on detached service. I have been returned to the regiment & am tenting now with H. French. While I was doing provost duty I tented with a very good moral fellow & it seemed so good to get with anyone who could sympathize with me so nearly. He is an orphan but has two sisters to love & cherish him. O God only knows how I long to enjoy even one Sabbath in the house of God, to attend unmolested the house of prayer. I long for Christian sympathy and more religious privileges. But although I am deprived of frequent religious meetings & society, yet no man can deprive me the privilege of communing in secret with my God & as often as I please raising my thoughts to the throne of grace in silent yet no less available prayer.
I have taken a good deal of pleasure of late in reading the book of Romans - there are so many blessed promises contained in it. I don't know that I ever read a chapter that struck me as being so pregnant with thought as the 12 of Romans. I'm reading this book of course. I have just finished reading a chapter. Yes, every night the last thing before lying down I take out my testament & read a chapter & before closing the book look at your likeness which I carry in it & giving it one long press with my lips return it to its place. How many times I have done this, & wished I could embrace the original you can never know. But dear mother let us wait patiently, trusting in God. May we never cease to pray & believe that He will answer our prayer for the safe return of the absent soldier boy. God I merciful & just. His is a prayer hearing & prayer answering God.
The death of Joseph weighs heavily upon me. "A" is so sad that he should die with no hope of an eternity in heaven, as I suppose he did. Poor fellow! Poor fellow!! It will be to late for him after death to repent, probation will then have ceased - eternity will be upon him, & his doom will be sealed. While reflecting upon the course of another may I look well to myself & be sure that I have made my peace with God - that I have treasures in heaven where neither moths nor rust doth corrupt & that through Christ's sufferings I have been made an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ to an inheritance in corruptible, undefiled & that fadeth not away.
Pray often and most earnestly for you absent son that he may not for a moment waver in the Christian course, but with an eye on Christ press forward toward the mark for the prize of the high-calling in Christ-Jesus.
I have been very well all this time since the ill turn I had when Mr. Hoyt was with us, for which I'm so thankful. O mother send me some more paper and I must have some postage stamps too, I haven't one & if I cannot borrow one, I don't know as I can send this. I've no money to buy them with & if I had there are none in the army to be bought. The soldiers have mo means of getting them only from friends at home. Has the box for company D. started yet? And by the way is Charles W. dead? It's so reported & I want to know the truth. Have you decided when and where you will go from Warner. I don't like the idea of your going away till I get home & much more of sister goes away to California or anywhere else. But God's will be done.
I must close now. Accept this with the deepest love of your son,
Has Mary H. returned yet? I've not heard from her for a long time. Sister, how did you like my Concord correspondent?
Scott mentioned in this letter his new tentmate, H. French. This would have been Henry L. French.
French, Henry L. Co. D.; b. Boscawen; age 18; res. Warner, cred. Warner; enl. Aug. 18, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv. ; disch. disab. Mar. 18, '63, Newport News, Va. P. O. ad., Putnam, Conn. He later served in the 1st New Hampshire Light Battery, enl. Dec. 17, '63; must. in Dec. 17, '63, as Priv.; disch. May 30, '65. P. O. ad., Concord, NH..
Newport News, Va.
Feb. 28th, 1863
My dear, dear Mother,
It is now ten days since I have written you I believe. I never allowed so long a time to intervene between my letters before. In this time I have received three letters from you, one bearing date Feb.8 sent by Mrs. Harriman; another bearing date Feb. 15 & the last received yesterday dated Feb. 22. I should not have permitted so long a time to pass away before writing you, but the duties of camp have been so imperative & constant that I could not write before & even now I cannot write but a little while for at ten we are to fall in for inspection & to be mustered in for pay. Yes, there goes the drum now while I am writing. I must lay this by for an hour or two. After inspection I will take your letters by course & answer any questions you may have asked.
First I will thank you for the stamps which came very opportunely. The letter did not reach me until the 17th inst but was very welcome. The box sent by the Soldiers Aid Society has as you will hear by Mrs. H- reached us in safety. Everything was nice and good. I know you would have been pleased could you have looked upon us, as the box was taken into the Col's tent & each article one by one taken from it, & how eagerly each one took, almost grabbed at the bundle when his name was called. And then could you have followed each to his respective tent you would have experienced great satisfaction in noting the happy face & cheerful look each had as he opened one little parcel after another and there contents were discovered. I'm very thankful for the little bundles I received. The cookies were pronounced excellent by everyone who tasted them, & shared them with several. Many thanks to Mrs. Watson for the wine which I pronounced A 1. It is indeed an unwanted luxury for the soldier. The cheese was very good, & tell Mrs. Diamond I thank her much for the token of kind remembrance, and Mrs. D. Watson as much for her good will. I should have valued something from her larder very much; for I know it would have been good, but say to her I'm quite willing to take the will for the deed.
The bandages came quite in season for those I brought with me are beginning to wear out. The sleeping cap, even though it makes me feel quite ludicrous when I put it on & look in the glass, is a capital thing & I prize it highly. The tomato catsup was left in Washington with a sick soldier as Mrs. H- could not bring it & it is just as well. Mrs. Miller has set me out in very flattering terms & would make me a youth of interesting manners, fascinating in my address, & on the whole as possessed of uncommon ability.
I did not know I was capable of writing letters fitted to interest strangers so much as it appears by Mrs. Miller's say, the Misses Morse are. I feel quite flattered. I am glad to know that I can write letters that the friends are interested in perusing. Yes, they first asked me to write otherwise I should not have presumed upon so short an acquaintance to have addressed them by letter. The correspondence is an agreeable one & I get very pleasant letters from the younger & the last time they wrote me the elder Miss Morse wrote me a pleasant little note. I don't think any harm will accrue from the correspondence or that I can in any way become entangled in this case or in any other where I have no more love for the other party. I regard her merely as a friend, one who has shown herself interested in the soldier's welfare, for which I respect her & have no more affection for her than for a good many others of my acquaintances.
You may put yourself at rest concerning Miss Heath and myself. A long time ago we had a plain & honest talk in which I told her my feelings, & she assured me that she regarded me in no light but that of a friend. I wish you would find out whether Mrs. Miller has ever received my letters, & if she has written me since she sent a note in yours. I did not hear anything about sister's marriage until it was all over & was surprised at its taking place so soon. I would have loved dearly to have been with you, but God willed it otherwise. I'm content. I am pleased with the union & think brother John, as I suppose I shall call him, will prove a good husband & hope each will prove a blessing to the other. I never saw him but once but liked his appearance much. I presume without doubt sister has studied his character and found him a worthy man.
I had quite a pleasant little chat for a few moments with Mrs. Harriman. She delivered your message to me & I returned the same by her & the kiss I gave her was the first civilized act I have done since I came into the army, or so it seems. It seemed so good to kiss a woman that I did not get over the effects of it for a good while. I am highly pleased with your opinion of a soldier, a true soldier. I think as you say, there is no one deserving the name of a soldier but he who bears a gun, & enters the battlefield & does not shrink when danger is nigh. I am so glad you feel so, for you will not think with so much anxiety of me; I'm not glad on that account only, but I love to think of my mother as being so patriotic & noble possessing such self-sacrificing devotion to her country as to freely give her only son for its good, & to feel glad that he was a true soldier & exposed to danger. That is the spirit that suits one. Continue to cherish such feelings, placing trust & confidence in God, believing that he loves & cares for his children, & will suffer no harm to befall them but what he in his divine wisdom & goodness deems best, & what he wills, who would seek to change.
By request of the parents of Wadsworth the tentmate of mine, I wrote them about their son. I have never heard whether they received it or not. You have learned before this that I did not send my watch by Mr. Hoyt. Your last letter was a dear good one, & it did me good to read it. How lonely you must be now sister is gone. I can realize your position and feelings and wish as much I could be with you to comfort in some small degree. You are now separated from both your children, your last hope & stay, & you have hardly anyone to comfort and sympathize. But I hope through Divine Providence to return to you soon. I confidently believe this cruel war will be at an end by next Sept. & then I'll come to you a time worn patriot laden with fresh experience & with heart overflowing with gratitude & praise to the all wise God. It will be a joyful meeting, won't it; such as angels alight to witness? I shall want to go to Warner, but whether I shall or not will be a question to be settled when the time comes.
I know how anxious you will be to hear from me now, even more than before, & I would not forbear to write you every week by any means. I shall feel like writing you more often than before. I shall unless duty prevents write you every Sabbath, as I get more time that day than any other. We have received new tents of late, large & nice ones & are as comfortable as you please. I feel praising & thanking God all the time for his good in giving me such tentmates. Two of them are professors of religion & the third is a moral fellow. Every night before retiring each reads a chapter in his testament. One of them, the second sergeant, will finish reading through his testament today. And then I have been blessed with such good health, & we are now fixed up so comfortably I can but say God is very good.
I've not been near contented since I came into the army hear now. Two of my tentmates are from Hillsborough, Farrar & Templeton, the other is from Henniker. Modica, the 2nd Sergt. Modica, had a corn paper & corn come from home in a box the other day & this evening they have been popping some in the fireplace. It is so nice, it seems really like home. You need not send me any money, for we expect soon to be paid off. I can get along without money, if I have stamps, untill then. Tell Jennie I thank her for the stamps she sent me, & that I'm waiting for her second letter. Ask her if she is practicing writing as I requested. I hope to be sure my bounty will be secured but in any case I shall feel that God wills it & hence I'm not troubled in this.
I have written you a long letter which please
accept with the deepest love of you son,
Scott mentions the following as being his current tentmates in this letter:
Modica, Joseph A. Co. D.; b. Boston, Mass.; age 22; res. Henniker, cred. Henniker; enl. Aug. 13, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Sergt.; app. 1 Sergt.; 1 Lt. July 1, '63; disch. June 7, '65. Bvt. Capt., U. S. V., to date Apr. 2, '65, for gallant and meritorious conduct before Petersburg, Va. P. O. ad., St. Louis, Mo.
Farrar, Alden P. Co: D.; b. Hillsborough; age 24; res. Hillsborough, cred. Hillsborough; enl. Aug. 15, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; must. out June 4, '65. P. O. ad., Hillsborough.
Templeton, Willard J. Co. D.; b, Hillsborough; age 20; res. Hillsborough, cred. Hillsborough; enl. Aug. 14, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv.; wd. May 12, '64, Spotsylvania, Va.; killed July 30, '64, Mine explosion, Petersburg, Va.
He also mentions having sent a letter to the parents of his former tentmate named Wadsworth who had passed.
Wadsworth, William H. Co. D.; b. Henniker; age 22; res. Henniker, cred. Henniker; enl. Aug. 18, '62; must. in Aug. 29, '62, as Priv. Died, dis. Jan. 12, '63, Falmouth, Va.
Newport News, Virginia
March 22nd, 1863
My dearest Mother,
I have arisen this morning before the rest & having built a fire of pitch pine wood I sit before the fireplace and write by the light of it, writing to my darling mother. It is very likely you have not arisen yet but will soon. Then the frugal & still abundant meal will be prepared and after that you will all draw around the family altar to praise God for protection and preservation during the past night, and I know a prayer will ascend to the throne of God from mother's lips for the safety & protection of her darling boy. And then too at about the same time another prayer will ascend in my behalf from the lips of a loving sister, and her devoted husband will not forget me I am quite sure. I know God will lend a listening ear to the earnest prayers of a fond mother & loving sister, offered in behalf of an absent son & brother whose life is imperiled almost every hour. After family worship, having done the work of the morning you will all rest of an hour or two & then you will put yourself in readiness for worship at the house of God. I wish I could be with you this Sabbath morning but it is best as it's for thus God has willed it.
We have been enjoying the equinoctial storm for three or four days. It has snowed, hailed & rained; rained, hailed, & snowed, & altogether it has been a very unpleasant time for the soldier. It does not storm now but it has not cleared away yet & the sky is still lowering. We are just on the point of moving, no one knows where of course. It is quite currently reported we are going to Tennessee to reinforce Rosecrans; by some that we are bound on an enterprise to one of the Carolinas, and it is still further reported that we are going to Baltimore. Which, if either of these reports prove true remains to be seen. The third Division of this Corps has gone to Suffolk; the 1st Div. went a day or two ago, no one can tell where. The 2nd Div. only remains. It is time that we are ordered to report aboard transports with five days rations. Before this reaches you I may be well on my way to some unknown port. As soon as we shall have arrive at our destination I will dispatch you a letter immediately.
I have not heard from sister but once since she left home. I have written her twice and cannot account for her delay. Your last of the 15 inst I received two days ago. It was a dear good letter. I am sorry about your illness, & shall be anxious to hear whether it continues. I don't know what I should do, if you were to be taken from me. I should have but little for which to live and the blow would be a powerful one. But it would be ministered by the hand of God, & upon Him would I rely for strength to bear it. At least I shall not anticipate any such Providence. I too received a letter from Lizzie. It cheers my spirit to hear & read of the revivals of God's work in so many places.
Have we no good reason to hope & believe this war will cease in the course of 6 months & that peace, prosperity, & union will reign supreme in our loved country. O what joy will the heart of the soldiery who outlive the war & the common people too when the longed for peace is secured!
I am very thankful my bounty is secured. I borrowed no trouble about it. I left it entirely in the hands of God. I have never needed any money but once since leaving home. Government is indebted to me for over $80 which I shall get sometime but I can't specify. Please send me some black thread in a paper & also a piece of India rubber. Here is a piece of a shell taken from the beach here which I wish to preserve, not for its beauty but as coming from here.
But I will close this note by subscribing myself your most loving & obedient son.
Mount Sterling, Ky.
April 6th, 1863
My dearest Mother,
Although I wrote you only three or four days ago, yet I will write you now as it is the usual time for writing & I have a few spare moments which cannot be otherwise better employed. Perhaps you will see by date that we have moved from the place where I last wrote you. The next morning we were up, breakfast eaten, knapsacks packed, & in readiness to march at 6 o'clock. We had the most severe march we have ever experienced. It was a forced march of from 22 to 25 miles. Everyone had a heavy & well packed knapsack & we had done no marching for a long time, consequently we were unprepared for such a severe tramp. Many of the poor fellows fell out by the way through sheer exhaustion & lay down by the wayside unable to go farther. All became more or less footsore, even the officers who had nothing to carry. My feet were badly blistered, but I crawled along into camp, & with the bright moon looking kindly down as if in sympathy with my suffering, & with every joint stiff & every bone sore, I lay down beside the fence, covered myself with my blanket & breathing a silent prayer for protection during the night, & for the safety of my dear friends far away I soon fell asleep.
Saturday morning we marched about two miles farther & encamped in a beautiful grove, perfectly free from brush & carpeted with fresh green grass. It is supposed we will stop here some time. The community here about are mostly secessionists. When we started from Paris our wagons had not come up with us; consequently the Quartermaster & some 25 soldiers went out into the country & compelled the farmers to come with their teams and carry our baggage. On our way we met one man with a team loaded with wood, & compelled him to throw off his load by the roadside, turn about & load up with our baggage & go along with us. That is the way to subdue the rebellious subjects.
The thought just came to me that this is sister's birthday - 23 years old today & in ten days more I'll be 19. How fast I am approaching the stage of manhood & that period when I must enter upon the active duties of life if perchance I am not called from time to eternity in this national struggle. Yet I have strong hope & faith to believe that my heavenly Father will return me in His own good to the embraces of friends most dear. I believe he has an important work for me yet to do. I have a part to act in the great drama of life. What that part may be I know not, but it becomes me to act well whatever I have to do, that my record may be good in the Lambs book of life.
O I cannot tell you what pleasure I experienced yesterday. For the second time since I left home I have had the opportunity of worshiping God in His own house and more than this I had the opportunity of observing the sacrament of the Lord 's Supper. Our chaplain by invitation preached in the morning & directly after the services communion was holden. It was a blessed season to me & made me long for home & all the comforts & privileges of which I have been deprived. But thanking God for this manifestation of his goodness & mercy. I will try & wait in patience the arrival of that good time coming when peace shall be declared, & those now in arms shall lay them down & return to their loved friends and home.
I have not heard from any of my correspondents since leaving Newport News two weeks ago next Thursday. Yu have heard from sister of course. Write me of her welfare. My health through the mercy of God continues excellent, & I am happy and contented only felt a little homesick since coming into such a lovely country; but that will soon wear off. Direct your letters to Washington, D.C., 2d Brigade, 2d Div. 9th Army Corps.
Never cease paying for your absent but devoted son,
I send a sprig which I got on top of the Allegheny Mountains. Please preserve it.
Haines Bluff, Mississippi
Sunday, June 28th, 1863
My dearest Mother,
I suppose it will do no good to write you as I am told no letters leave the army here now, but nevertheless I will as has been my vow to send my weekly message. We have received no mail of account since leaving Ky. Nearly 4 weeks ago. I have not heard from you for a full month, the last one I received being mailed in the last week of May. We are told that grant has issued an order the no letters for a certain time be allowed to go either to or from the soldier but as we receive no papers we are not certain that that is a fact. If you have received none of the letters I have Written, you have of course learned by the papers that we are at Vicksburg. In my last I wrote you that I was troubled with the hemorrhoids so indeed I was quite badly, but I am now entirely free from them & as well as ever for ought I know. The heat, which was so oppressive to us when we first came here, although it has not abated a while but rather increased, is borne more cheerfully.
We are becoming acclimated somewhat, & we can endure the heat better than we could; and if the yellow fever & other contagious diseases' do not come upon us, and we do not get in the way of the bullets, we shall come out of this awful hole all right. The troops are every day busy fortifying & preparing to meet Gen'l Johnston should he choose to come against us. We get reports every day from Vicksburg, which say Grant is making slow & steady progress. Vicksburg is not yet taken, but we look every day for its downfall. We get no papers here, & you will hear of its surrender nearly as soon as we who are but a few miles in its rear. I know not how long the besieged city can hold out but I am willing to labor & wait leaving events with God. He rules king of nations as he does king of saints.
You may not have heard that our Col. has resigned & gone home. His brother has also sent in his resignation but it has not yet been accepted. I received a paper from sister with stamps in it which came just in the niche of time, for I had just used my last one. If no letters have gone North of course you have not received the one in which I enclosed ten dollars & some leaves. I have not heard from W- as to the success those have had, who interested themselves in securing my bounty money. As I sit here in the shade of a giant poplar, & my thoughts naturally turning on the loved ones at home, I think how differently this day has been spent by you & me. You if well have undoubtedly attended church and profited from hearing the words of wisdom & truth which have been thrown out to you, & now about five PM with me & 6 P.M. with you, you are sitting by the open window reading or perhaps you sit together & talk of the absent son & bro: wonder what he may be doing & repeat times without number the wish that you might see him. Now hear how I have spent the day in John. Sung a few familiar tunes & then took my writing materials & came away by himself in the woods to write the dearest one on earth to me. But I hear them calling out "coffee" & must go or loose my supper. I have just finished my supper of coffee & hard bread & I sit down to write a few words more before sealing this. I have just seen a soldier who has obtained his discharge & is to leave for home tomorrow morning. He offers to carry letters as far as he goes & then put them in the P.O. I will send this by him & perchance you may receive: I'm sure I hope so, for although it is a poor letter it will tell you I am well, hopeful, trustful & as happy & contented as circumstances will allow. Give love to sister & brother. I would write them if I had time, & so the must excuse me this time.
Give my love to all the friends in Vt. whom you may see. Accept this from your loving son & think of him as ever confiding & trusting in God as his upholder & preserver, in whom is all love & mercy.
your affec Son,
Haines Bluff, Mississippi
Friday, July 17th, 1863
I was made glad a few days ago by the reception of a kind, cheering letter from your pen which reminded me I was not forgotten by the kind friends at home. You will see by the date of this that I am hundreds of miles from where I last wrote you. Burnsides menagerie (viz. 9th A. C.) is again on the move. I have lots to tell you of the places it has exhibited over the last two weeks. A little more than two weeks ago an order from Genl. Burnside came to our commanding general to the effect that the troops under his command be provided with three days rations in their haversacks & five days scanty rations of hardbread in their knapsacks, in all, 8 days rations & each soldier was to be provided with an extra pair of shoes. Officers' luggage was to be reduced to 30 lbs. and all surplus luggage to be sent to the rear. This was when we were quietly lying in camp at Stanford Ky. As you can easily imagine there were many surmises and conjectures as to where we were bound -- where we could possibly be going that we should take 8 days rations. Some said to Va., others to Memphis, & still others to Vicksburg.
At sunrise on the morning of June 4th we started for we knew not where. After two days forced marching we arrived at Nicholasville, Ky. Here occurred the most interesting & yet the saddest scene of our journey. You may have read of the steam boiler explosion at N,--. Well, that is what I refer to. It was the most terrible affair I ever witnessed, Fredericksburg hardly excepted. There were 6 killed and some 12 wounded by the explosion. There was one boy, a teamster, who had both legs broken and was so scalded by the water and steam that the skin all peeled off his body and the poor fellow in his agony cried for his mother. Of course he lived but a short time. There was one soldier struck on the head by some fragment and it so afflicted him as to cause insanity. Still another had his face on one side all smashed in and was so injured as to make life for more than a few hours impossible. But I'll not recount to you any more cases of the horrid mutilation caused by this most unfortunate accident. I have again to thank God in his infinite mercy and goodness in sparing my life. For, although I was nearby when the explosion took place escaped without a hurt. It is only another instance of his love and mercy towards me. The accident happened at about 2 P.M. Saturday & at about 5 we gladly left that place which had been the scene of so much suffering.
We arrived in Lexington about sunset & left on our way toward Cincinnati which place we reached just at sunrise on Sabbath morning. We stacked our arms in just the same place we did two months ago and had a good breakfast in Fifth St. Market. At 10 o'clock we were all stowed away on the cattle cars & very soon we were on our way west. We went on the St. Louis & Cincinatti road as far as Sandova which you will see by looking on the map is due west from Cincinatti & within 60 miles of St. Louis. Here we changed cars, and took a southerly direction going direct south until we reached Cairo which was on Monday evening about 10 o'clock. We stopped here until Wednesday when we shipped on board the Charlie Bowen and made for Vicksburg.
I was much disappointed in Cairo and supposed to find it a large, handsome city or at least I had formed that opinion of it from what I had heard. It lies at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and is also the terminus of the Illinois Central R.R. Its position would certainly seem to ensure wealth & growth but it isn't so large as Concord. There are two principal streets about ½ mile in extent which constitutes all of what I can say of Cairo. We passed no places of great interest from Cincinatti to Cairo. But the passage down the Miss. though monotonous was interesting. The first place of interest was Columbus which is one of the strong 1st positions on the Miss. The place in commercial interest is inconsiderable, as it is also as a place of residence, for it is but a small village. The next place of note is Island No. 10 which is nothing but an island in a bend of the river which is so situated so as to command the river for two or three miles up and down. There were no troops on it but two or three Negro regiments. Memphis equaled my expectations. It is a large business city. I went over as much of it as I could. I went through the City Park in the centre of which is the monument of Andrew Jackson. On one side was engraved the words, "The Federal Union, It Must be Preserved." When the "rebs" held sway there they attempted to deface the word "Federal". On another side was written, "Honor and Gratitude to Those who have fulfilled the Measure of Their Country's Glory." On the third side was the quotation from Virgil, "Exegi Monumentum Perressivus (?) Aege." I have a leaf which I took from a tree in one of the principal streets of the city that I will send you.
From Memphis to Young's Point 4 miles above Vicksburg was the most monotonous ride I ever had. The banks on either side were covered with trees of the same size, shape and kind, I should think, and hardly an opening or house appeared in the whole way. To break the dull monotony the only thing we could get up for excitement was to return the fire of the guerrillas who stationed themselves behind trees and stumps along the shore to fire at us as we passed. It happened that none aboard our boat were injured. I had a narrow escape. The first bullet that was fired at us, passing only a few feet from me, entering the pantry, knocking down some of the dishes & scaring the poor negro within most of his wits. We arrived at Young's Point safe and sound on Saturday morning, and then there was all the hurry & bustle of unloading & -aw me! What a place!. The bank was almost perpendicular for 20 feet and up this bank our baggage, horses, artillery & I must go. What a time we had! Vicksburg and the bluffs around could be plainly seen here. The mortar fleet that night & day pours death and defiance into the doomed city lies only two miles below here. At night we can plainly see the flash of the mortar and see the shell from the time of its leaving the mortar till it bursts over the city. We could see the shells fired by Grant burst in the city. It is splendid to witness the bombardment at night. We stopped there two or three days & then came up the Yazoo to Haines Bluff where you will see this is dated. We have been here 3 or 4 days but how long we shall stay of course we know not. Haines Bluffs are 15 miles from the mouth of the Yazoo and 12 miles in the rear of Vicksburg. We are every day expecting to hear of the fall of the place. It holds out remarkably well. It is supposed here that Jeff Davis and Beauregard are in the city. It is mere supposition however.
I saw Charlie Hurlbert (?) the other day. He was well and fat as a pig. Give my regards to your mother & Mattie. Say to your mother I have never seen the President to mention that matter. I'm very sorry. I hope to see him before I return. Give my love to Mrs. M. & thank her for the good opinion she has of me. But she and yourselves should not expect too much of me and you will certainly be disappointed. Well, now I have written you a real long letter. I hope it may prove as interesting as it is long. Shall I receive an equally long one in return? I am still pretty well, but have suffered some from the heat & bad water for a few days.
Accept this from your sincere friend Don.
July 26th, 1863
My dear, dear Mother,
Again I have an opportunity of addressing you through the silent medium of the pen, & it is with the greatest pleasure I do so. When I last wrote you I was at Jackson, 50 miles away. Since then I have suffered as much perhaps as at any time previous during the war. But I'll not fill this sheet with an account of my sufferings as I did my last of the 16th. It is enough that you know I am well, & blessed and favored of God in countless ways - the he imparts to me largely of his grace and strength & that he is still pleased to spare my life. Certainly it would do you no good to know what I have to endure from burning suns, tedious marches, extra duty with half rations - drenching rains & many other sources of suffering.
It would only increase the anxiety you feel for your absent & beloved son, & the love you bear for him would cause you pain, if you knew he was suffering & it was not in your power to relieve it in the least. Now my love for you prompts me to withhold any information relative to myself and circumstances that I might give, that would cause you pain & induce anxiety while at the same time it would not better myself in any way. It is but truth to say I suffer. You know it, you expect as much when you gave consent to my enlistment. I have not been disappointed in the least; I am willing to suffer ever more than I have done if necessary for I feel that God is able to sustain me even under the most trying circumstances.
After chasing Johnston with cavalry and flying artillery till he had made good his escape they returned to Jackson with several hundred prisoners, & after resting two or three days we commenced to retrace our steps toward the Yazoo in the morning of July 20th. With what altogether different feelings we returned than those we had as we advanced. Now there were no booming cannon to be heard in front shelling the woods & cornfields to make sure there was no enemy or ambuscade for us to run into - it was all quiet & the long line of soldiers and wagons & ambulances with sick & wounded winded their way in silence. . But before commencing our journey I must tell you somewhat of the city of Jackson, which I had the pleasure of visiting. It is called a city but it is only what we would call in N. E. a country village. Once it was a pretty place, & somewhat of a business town. The state capitol buildings & prison are here: but such ruin & desolation I never saw before. Whole blocks of buildings were burned down & some of the finest establishments in the place.
The prison buildings were all destroyed by fire & in fact every house that was not burned was more or less injured by cannonballs & ransacked & plundered by soldiers both rebel & Federal.
A citizen who professes to be a union man, he is the editor of the Miss. Baptist - told me that he saw the rebel soldiers commit more depredations upon the property of southern citizens & heap more insults upon them than the Federal soldiers had. Most all the property destroyed was destroyed by the rebel forces the night they evacuated they set fire to the business part of the place which was completely destroyed. The state house is a very pretty building, yet not so handsome as such houses in N. E. The larger share of the citizens had quitted the place - some leaving most splendid houses & furnished beautifully. Nice pianos adorned the parlors & oil paintings the walls & reading rooms were crowded with books. I thought it not wrong to come in for my share of the spoils so I took a splendid volume of Young's Night Thoughts & a wine glass-tumbler and "An Essay" on peace by Rev. John P. Campbell a "secesh" refugee from Nashville, Tenn. The "Essay" was printed in Jackson & I think is very interesting as it shows so plainly the feeling of the Southern people.
I will send it with this & please preserve it for me as a relic of the war. The other things I am going to send as soon as possible. I know it will cost a good deal to send it home but I should in all probability buy the book sometime & could not buy it for less than it will cost to express it from Cincinnati. The original cost of the book is $7.00, beside its value is enhanced by its coming from J-. Well we commenced our backward march on Monday the 20th & marched 50 miles in a little more than two days arriving at the Yazoo on the morning of the 23rd. You may rest assured we suffered severely in performing those forced marches in the burning Southern sun, but I am safely through & ready to embark on the transports for Ky. We are here waiting for transportation as I understand and are to return as soon as possible to Ky. Where we are needed if reports are true concerning the invasion of Ky. By the rebel Gen. Morgan. You may be sure we are all exceedingly glad to get out of this accursed country.
I shall expect to write you next time from Ky. but yet our hopes may be all blasted & we may be retained to garrison Vicksburg or even sent to Mobile but I don't anticipate any such thing. It would seem as if my friends had all deserted me but you for you are the only one but sister that I have heard from since leaving Ky. You say you have received no letters from me since the four mailed at Memphis. The next one I wrote I enclosed $10.00 which I hope you have received, & the others acknowledging the receipt of envelopes, & four stamps from you. I found my things all safe when we got back to our old camping ground. I believe I told in my last how I was deprived of all my effects. I am glad to get paper & other writing material once more from reports I should judge you had stirring in Pervis the first of the month. We get nothing but reports & as papers are 25 cts per single copy & hardly to be obtained at that price. I sent a paper printed at Atlanta Ga. Date July 13th to sister which I requested her to preserve. But I must bring this to a terminus.
Pray often as I know you do for your son. God never deserts me. His preserving arm is ever about me, & it is my highest privilege to trust & confide in Him which I do.
On the Miss. River 150 miles below Memphis,
Aug. 16th, 1863
My dearest Mother,
I wrote you last on the 3rd of Aug. & will explain why I have not written before. I mentioned in my last that we were daily expecting to return to Ky. Yes so we were & continue in daily expectation of it, till the saying "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" was sincerely believed by all. All the regiments of our Division had gone, the batteries had gone, in fact everything had gone but Gen. Potter, staff, & headquarters guard; but after being detained nearly two weeks after the others had gone a boat came to our relief on the 13th. The Des Moines, and old, rickety thing just ready to fall in pieces. We went aboard her last Thursday night, but did not leave Snyder's Bluff till 4 o'clock on Friday morning. We have now been 2 1/2 days steaming up the Miss. & we shall not probably reach Cairo till Friday night. But I've not yet told you why I have so long delayed in writing.
After the troops all left there was no way of sending letters & so it would do no good to write. For this reason I've delayed so long. But I'll wait, Providence permitting, this at Cairo. I received a letter from you mailed the 20th of July which was truly welcome. I expect I have one or two letters from you at the Regt. If I ever see it again, I can get them. There has nothing of special interest transpired since we left Snyder's landing. A ride on the Miss. Is the most dull & monotonous that you can imagine. From one end to the other the banks on either side are covered with woods & there are hardly a dozen houses to be seen between Vicksburg & Cairo, unless it be at Helena, Memphis, or Columbus, the only important places. We haven't been fire into by roving bandits yet, and presume we shall not, as gunboats are patrolling the river all the time.
We passed the gunboat Cincinnati today which you remember was sunk by the rebel batteries at Vicksburg in an attempt to run past them. She has been raised and is now being carried to Memphis or above to be repaired. We have reached Helena which is a little small place of little or no importance except as a military post. There are some high hills in the rear of the town which have been strongly fortified. You will recollect the rebels were defeated in an attack upon the place last month with a loss of 1200 men.
Tuesday the 18th. We arrived in Memphis last evening. This morning I went over the city pretty much. I traveled till I was tired at any rate. M- is quite large and well laid out city & in times of peace there must have been a good deal of business done here. I went to Jackson Square in the center of which is the monument of the hero & statesman. The park is very pretty & gray squirrels hopping & frisking about lend much to the beauty off the scenery.
The little innocents would come & take nuts from my hand, & then with perfect sangfroid would stand erect up on his haunches & crack it, & when he had eaten out he would come up to me with boldness, & looking at me would seem to say "I want another."
Thursday morning. We have just passed Island No. 10 & we shall very soon be at Columbus & by 4 P.M. if nothing happens at Cairo. Then we shall have a three day journey by rail before we reach Cin. My health, thank God still continues good while 20 out of 30 in our guard are sick & we have buried one since we left Miss. Praise God with me for my continued life & health & pray always for you son Don. I'll write again soon. All Warner boys are well I believe or were the last time I saw them. I've not heard a word from W- since you left, not even from N or D. Love to sis. & bro J- & a lot for yourself.
Our Col. resigned on account of difficulty between himself & our Brig. Gen. Ferraro. By a recent act of Congress we are not entitled to a Col. A Col. commands at least 800 men & we have but 600.
12 Division, 72 Ward
Camp Dennison, Ohio
Oct. 18th, 1863
My darling Mother,
Another week has passed, & again I address you from Camp Dennison. Unless there is some special order from Burnside or the medical Director at Cincinnati I hardly think there will be anymore sent to their regiments until after payday, which will be now in three weeks, when I expect to receive $78.00. I shall send home $60.00 or $70.00 of that by mail or express. Before this can reach you, you will have received the book I mailed to you last Tuesday. I found it would cost $1.00 to express it & only one cent per ounce by mail, which would make it much cheaper. You will please save it with my other things. I prize the book very highly, not only for its historical interest, but for its real merit & worth.
It is the holy Sabbath morning with you but I can hardly say it is with me. I can recognize the day, but there is nothing about here to remind me of the holiness & sanctity with which the day should be kept. On my one hand terrible oaths are proceeding from the mouth of one who I believe would shrink for shame to have his mother hear him indulging in such language; on my other, is a group indulging in the same pernicious conversation that anyone of any respect, would blush to listen to. These are the circumstances under which I write, & must spend this day, unless I go out of doors & if possible get by myself, which I propose to do after finishing my letter.
I had the opportunity of attending a prayer meeting last evening, & I assure you it did me a deal of good. There was quite an interesting man in the disk, whom I had never seen before. He addressed us in a very pleasing, interesting & instructive manner for half an hour on the subject of prayer. He took his text from the chapter in King's, which tells of King Ahab sending over all his kingdom for the persecuted Elijah to come & pray for rain to fall upon his land, parched and dryed; & when he was done, he used the alter & sacrifice to show the people how powerless were their idols to help them in their extremity & how all powerful & mighty was his God; & how so showed them what power he possessed in prevailing with his God, by praying for rain, which came so rapidly from the cloud is larger than a man's hand, that Ahab was obliged to hasten down to his village or he would have been overtaken by the violent shower. What a beautiful example of the power and efficacy of prayer.
How contented it is we are when of the same passions with Elijah, we have the same power of prayer; & to illustrate the faith we should exercise in prayer, he related an incident in the time of our pilgrim fathers when there was a dearth of rain, & one of the forlorn people met at their place of worship on a bright summer day arriving for prayer, have finding their way to the house of God, was seen a little girl with an umbrella under her arm, who, when asked why she carried an umbrella on such a day, replied by asking are not the people going to pray for rain & shall I not need it when I go home? The illustration is indeed a good one, & I am sure our prayers would be more availing, could we practice such faith & simplicity. There is to be a meeting this afternoon which Providence permitting I shall attend.
I am still gaining slowly & am now nearly as well as before. I have not heard from you this week but presume I shall get a letter tomorrow. I received a letter from sister a week or more ago which I must answer soon. It is very sweet for me to think I have the prayers of my dear mother. "Pray without ceasing."
Love to all, & now receive this with the love of your son,
Camp Dennison was a Union Army training camp during the American Civil War. It was located in the town of Germany, Ohio, seventeen miles north of Cincinnati. George McClellan, a general in the Ohio militia, chose Germany as the site for a camp. The camp was named for Ohio Governor William Dennison.
Camp Dennison was strategically located near Cincinnati, the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers, and the Little Miami Railroad. The rivers and railroad provided quick transportation from various parts of Ohio and surrounding states. The presence of troops at Camp Dennison also provided Cincinnati with soldiers to protect this important manufacturing city from Confederate attack. Camp Dennison encompassed more than five hundred acres of land.
The task of laying out the camp fell to Colonel William Rosecrans. Construction of barracks began in 1861. The barracks provided homes for the more than fifty thousand men who passed through the camp during the Civil War. They were located to the south of the Little Miami Railroad.
In 1862, military officials established a hospital on the northern edge of the camp, just to the north of the railroad. It eventually held more than 2,300 sick or injured soldiers.
The soldiers at Camp Dennison usually remained in the area for only a short time. After receiving some training, military officials would send the men off to war.
In 1863, men currently undergoing training at Camp Dennison helped defend the Little Miami Railroad and Cincinnati from General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders. Morgan's men captured and destroyed a supply train but failed to destroy an important railroad bridge across the Little Miami River.
Upon the Civil War's conclusion, Camp Dennison was closed. Local residents dismantled the barracks and hospital, scavenging building supplies to construct their own homes. Hoping to increase the community's population, Germany residents changed the town's name to Grand Valley, but the railroad continued to use Camp Dennison as the name of the local station.
Camp Dennison, Ohio
Oct. 22nd, 1863
Notwithstanding I wrote you only 3 or 4 days ago I will pen you a few lines that you may cause yourself no uneasiness on my account. I am going to my regt. This morning & as the mails from Tenn. Are very irregular & uncertain I thought best to write where I had gone so that in case you should not hear from me for some time you would not be worried. I don't know when I shall get an opportunity to write again but I will write as soon as I can, that you may know where to direct. Yet I don't know as it will make any difference about that.
Co. D. 11th Regt. N.H. Vols.
9th A. C. Lexington, Ky.
When you do not know where I am, direct always to the Co. Regt. & Corps & I shall get it. I go to the regt. Of my own accord. The doctor was sending a squad, some of which belong to my regt. & I was anxious to go with them as it would be more pleasant every week now it is growing colder, & it will be easier for me to commence lying out of doors now that than two weeks from now, & more than this I am tired of this life of inactivity ans anxious to get out of the hospital, that hated institution in health, & blessed one in sickness - so I went to the doctor ans asked him if he didn't think I would do to go to my regiment. He hesitated a moment & finally consented.
I don't know why I am not as well now as before, only I am not quite so strong. My bowels trouble me but little now & the doctor says I have nothing to fear from them. The regiment I expect is at Knoxville. This which is over 200 miles from the nearest railroad station. This will be quite a travel, but I guess I can go it.
I received a dear good letter from you last night - dated the 14th Oct. You speak of dreaming about my extreme illness. Now my dear mother, do not allow dreams to trouble you. There is no truth in them, & it is an old woman's whim that we can rely upon them. Just leave me in the hands of God, I am willing to live, & not afraid to die. God's will be done. I have no more diarrhea at all; am costive if anything. I perfectly appreciate your desire to be with me, & know its depth; I know what a mothers love will point her to do. But it is best as it is, for thus God wills. You know I long to be with you more than words can tell but the time is not yet. We will bide patiently God's own time.
I heard rather bad news last night. A class mate at Meriden who is now here in the hospital told me of the death of two loved classmates & of 3 other Christian brothers, victims of disease; but thank God they were, as I hope, all ready & willing to go. My turn may be next but like them I am willing & ready. But I must close this scrawl for the cars will be here soon. Now my dear mother be content to leave me in the hands of my Heavenly Father; he will care for me.
Accept this with the love of your son,
|1862 Letters||1863 Letters||1864 Letters||1865 Letters|
May 27th, 1864
My friend Nancy,
I know you will pardon me if I assume too much familiarity by addressing you thus. I could think of no other form that would as well express my feelings, & not be more familiar than our short acquaintance would admit of. I feel that you have been a friend indeed, & such kindness as I have received at your hands, is certainly without a parallel in my life's history. I am one who, being the recipient of an unexpected kindness, can find but little to say, but it is not because I do not appreciate kindness, & have no feelings of gratitude, it seems but mockery to say, "I thank you," because it is so easily said - costs no effort. I cannot always find suitable words to express my feelings, or all I feel. I was so taken by surprise when you asked as a favor, to cancel my debt to Uncle.
I could say nothing, but refuse to grant it & admire the spirit, kind & generous, which prompted you to ask such a favor. I cannot tell you how much I admire your generous spirit, & respect & I can say love you, for your kindness & sympathy. My heart would be hard indeed, did not some feelings of gratitude & love flow out toward one so good & kind. You have placed me under a heavy debt of gratitude to you, and I pray the God of love and Mercy to spare my life & present an opportunity of returning your kindness four fold. But should I fail to accomplish my desires, you will not go unrewarded, for he who notes the sparrow fall, will reward you abundantly in this world & in the world to come. It may be we shall never meet again here, but I shall ever cherish the kindest regards for you, & know you are happy & prosperous, & you may know it will be always a pleasure for me to do you a kindness.
I cannot express what I feel - I say simply that I feel truly and deeply grateful toward you, & I hope the time may come when I can make my feelings manifest, in a manner other than by this mere form of words. I wrote Uncle on Tuesday of this week, giving an account of my journey as far as Baltimore, and as I suppose you will have the reading of that I will not repeat in this. I left Baltimore Friday evening for Washington, and came from Washington this morning to Alexandria. I am in camp Distribution, where all are sent from all over the country. They lie here till some two or three hundred are accumulated, when they are armed and sent to their regiments. It is said we will leave here tomorrow for Port Royal on the Chickahominy. It will be some 3 or 4 days before we get to our Corps & several regiments. I have learned through others of my regiment here, some right from the front, that my Col. is a prisoner, my Lieut. Col. is killed, & that several of the line officers are wounded. My regiment has suffered quite severely in killed, none prisoners as I hear except the Col. wounded from my regiment passed through Baltimore in route for Washington yesterday.
I trust that I go forward to the post of duty, fully prepared for any dispensation of an all wise Providence. I most earnestly hope and pray I may be spared in life and health during this national struggle, & be returned in God's own time, to my home and friends free from mental, moral and physical evil, and at the same time I try to say thy will be done. I think of the uncertainty of life while a soldier, & try & hold myself in readiness for the final sermons which shall summon me to the presence of my God and then I don't know as a soldier has any more reason to hold himself constantly in readiness for death than others, for if I think dangers are as thick about the pathway of the citizen as the soldier and the same kind God watches over all, & has power to protect alike the soldier & the citizen. God loves and cares for his children & whatever befalls me I shall feel that God wills it.
Should I fall & fill a warrior's grave I would have my friends feel that I die a Christian - this will lessen to some degree the grief they will feel for the loss of their son, brother, and friend. But my heart is full & I've said nothing either to what I would if I could see you I might talk a long time. But I must close. Give my love to Uncle & Auntie Mary and the children. Write to me soon. Address to Co. D., 11th N.H. Vols., 2nd Brig. 2nd Div. 9th A.C.
Now may the God of love bless & protect & bless you is the prayer of your affectionate friend,
Don E. S.
Before Petersburg, Va.
Jul. 10th, 1864
Near Petersburg, Va.
Aug. 2nd, 1864
My darling Mother,
You have doubtless heard before this through the newspapers of the battle fought on the 30th inst. And the general results, but I know the details would be interesting to you, especially if given by your son who was an eye witness & participant, and so not withstanding I wrote you the same day of the battle. I will write again giving the details as they occurred under my own observation. There is, or was, a fort directly in front of our division in the enemy's first line of defense & at a point where the two opposing lines are not more than 150 yds apart. This fort we have been undermining since the first of July. The sap was commenced in a ravine 100 ft. or more in rear of our front line & bushes were placed about the entrance to screen the fresh dirt as it was brought out and from the sight of the enemy. The length of the sap was 600 ft. After the fort was reached there were branches running to the right and left under the rifle pits connecting with the fort, so that the sap underneath the fort had the appearance of a letter T.
There were three mines placed under the fort containing powder variously estimated at from 2 to 5 tons. All day Friday the 29th, extra guns were being placed in position, magazines in our forts filled to overflowing & other things done preliminary to an early move. The night of the 29th-30th was employed in marching and counter-marching troops & massing them in the ravine before mentioned, just in rear of the front line & in a cut of the Petersburg & Norfolk R.R. & still farther to the rear was one Div. of the 10th A.C. & the 18th Corps screened from the sight of the enemy by wood and rising ground. In the front line & the ravine, our Brig. Was massed. In the rear of that the First brig. & in rear of our Div. the 1st Div. Behind the 9th Corps was one Div. of the 10th & the 18th Corps. Thus we lay at 3 AM of the 30th waiting in breathless silence for the explosion of the mine. The plan was to have the mine sprung at 3 o'clock precisely and that was to be the signal for al the guns & mortars that could be brought to bear upon this portion of the line to open.
The fuse connection with the mine was spliced twice, but was badly done, & twice went out. The third time a Sergt. ventured in to relight it & before he could get out the mine was sprung, but fortunately he was not injured. This, of course, occasioned delay & it was 4 AM before we felt the ground heave under us, saw the air filled with dirt & smoke & one great sheet of flame. Almost instantaneously 20 mortars & 50 guns, 12 of them 32 pounders, burst forth in one deafening blast & upon that instant our brigade sprang over our pits & were the first to rush upon the rebel fort. Our advance to the fort was made under heavy fire upon both flanks as well as in front & we lost heavily.
By this movement, we succeeded in breaking the enemies lines only at the fort & their pits, they could fire right down their pits on either side upon us & also upon all who should attempt to come up to the fort from our lines. While in the fort a part of the negroe troops in our Corps came up & together with our brig. occupied the traverse pits in the rear. A traverse rifle pit is a rifle pit running at an angle with the main line of pits. The rebel still occupied some of the traverse pits & the negroes were ordered to charge them, which they did, & carried them. Soon, however, the rebels rallied in their main line of works & jumped upon them suddenly.
The appearance of the fort when we entered it beggars description. There were huge lumps of dirt weighing tons thrown up from the depth of 15 ft or more to the surface & loose dirt was thrown over an acre of ground. There was a large hole made in the center of the fort, fully 15 feet deep. I'll not attempt to give the dimensions but suffice to say it was very large. Half buried guns, carriages, wheels, swab sticks & countless artillery appertainances were lying about in the greatest confusion. But the greatest sight was to see men half buried alive - some with their heads downward & their feet & legs protruding - other with their feet down & buried to their waists & even shoulders with one arm out, and some with neither. Very many were very likely buried entirely while alive & others were mangles & torn to pieces. Rebel prisoners say 500 were in the fort when it went up. A flag of truce was granted yesterday to bury the dead between the lines. There were 8 found alive who were too badly wounded to drag themselves off & there have lain 48 hours without food or water with the burning sun pouring down on them.
I plainly saw them the day after the battle make fruitless attempts to crawl away & at last sink down exhausted. The dead of both sides were buried between the lines. There were a few rebels killed by their own men while attempting to reach our lines as prisoners. These the rebels made negro prisoners bury. Prisoners say the blowing of the fort was d-d Yankee trick & that we killed women and children in Petersburg & also set the city on fire. We had 12 32 pounders which threw into the city & it may be true. They were very bitter against us for that & because we have negro soldiers in our Corps. I have drawn you a diagram of the fortifications which will perhaps give you some idea of the situation. I received a letter from you and sister the day of the battle, but will answer them more fully next time as I have already written you a very long letter. It would certainly be the height of ingratitude not to acknowledge the unseen hand that preserved me amid the dangers to which I was exposed 7 brought me out of the battles din & fury unharmed. I cannot express the gratitude I feel toward my Heavenly Father. But I remember I'm still in danger every hour & still trust Him who has thus far protected me. I ought, I'm sure.
I hope you have received the letter I wrote on the 30th July after the battle that your anxiety for me may be allayed. I don't know how soon I may be called to battle again, but I shall go forward trusting, confiding and believing in Him. We go into the front pits tonight where we will spend the next 48 hours, May God bless and protect my dear Mother, Sister & Brother.
Accept this dear Mother with the deepest love
of your affectionate and dutiful son,
Don E. Scott
|1862 Letters||1863 Letters||1864 Letters||1865 Letters|
Head Quarters, Ninth Army Corps
Office Act. Asst. Quartermaster,
Nottoway Court House, Va.
April 8th, 1865
My own dear Nancy,
I was made so glad just now by the receipt of your last letter of the 2nd inst. I cannot tell how happy I was made by the words of love & sympathy your letter breathed forth. I sometimes get impatient which I know is wrong, for the time to come when I can sit down by you, take your hand in mine & tell you by my actions for I cannot by words all I feel. I would talk, talk, talk for I have so much to tell you & so much that I want you to tell me. But I must curb these impatient longings & wait patiently Gods own time.
It is now only four months when I shall be free - so free to roam where my inclinations had me, & so I leave you to guess where my inclinations would lead me first. You have of course read of our late movements & successes. Richmond and Petersburg are ours with twenty-five or thirty thousand prisoners. O' isn't it glorious. It is reported here today that we have Gen. Lee surrounded near Burkeville, the junction of the South Side & Danville R. R. which place is 8 miles from this place & 52 miles from Petersburg. We can but see that the hand of God is in this war, & in His all wise direction of affairs this giant rebellion is growing beautifully less. May God hasten the time when I can greet you, my own dear Nancy. How swiftly time will fly when we can spend it in the smiles & sunshine of each other's love.
How inexpressibly happy I shall be when our circumstances shall be such that I can contribute everything in my power to your happiness & comfort. It would be but mockery for me to say I thank you, for that I would not convey to you the half I feel, for your assurance of love for my mother & your determination to prove yourself worthy her love. You will find in her very much I know to love & admire in you & all - even more than she could hope to in an affectionate & dutiful daughter. You will not love her for my sake neither, but for her own innate qualities of goodness & love, & she will be to you all that a mother could be. Our home shall be her home as you say, and I prophesy she will say she was never so happy before, when she can see & enjoy the comfort & prosperity of her son, & know how true and noble she is whom I have to love, comfort & bless me.
If I were you I would not tell Gilbert or Josey of our correspondence. It will be just as well any way to keep it to ourselves. When they wrote me where you were, in my answer I merely mentioned that I had written you, but have said nothing about it since God will surely reward you for all those hours of confinement and self-sacrifice which you are passing in that sick room.
Learn to labor patiently & to wait felling fully assured that you will finally meet with your reward. Be assured there is not a night passes, in which as I roll myself in my blanket, I do not breath a silent prayer for the safety & protection of one whose every interest is so dear to me, & I'll try & wait patiently for the time to come when we can bow together at the throne of grace & offer up the praise & gratitude to the God of love, which I am sure we both feel in our hearts. We are on the move now as you will see by the date of this but direct as before & I shall get it.
Accept this with all the ardor of love that my heart is capable of exercising.
Scott applied for a passport in 1878, describing himself as follows:
Age, 34 Years.
Stature, 5 feet 10 inches, Eng.
Hair, Iron Gray.
Transcribed by Dave Morin from the originals held at the University of North Carolina'sLouis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. Used with permission.