Monday. No orders to move have yet come, & we are still encamped where we stopped Saturday night. No salt meat of any kind has been issued to the men for several days & but short rations of fresh, but the boys have. Made up the deficiency in the last by “detailing” swine in the neighborhood of the city. Spent most of the day in reading. In afternoon had a Reg. inspection of arms & ammunition, & a dress parade at 5 ½ o’clock.
Your letter of 3d. was received 6th. inst. You seemed quite troubled about my demerits. I do not know how I happened to have so many. I was just as careful as ever. I think I am getting along very well in demerits. Forty for four months is not many. Four or five in the class have got 99. Don’t be alarmed about my demerits, they are not going to hurt me any. I received a very kind letter from Catharine this week. I should have written to her a long time ago, but I can not get any time to write letters. In about five weeks more I expect to be on my way home, only three weeks to study.
Catharine said you expecting Charlie home a little this summer. What did he say about it? Did he say what he expected to do in Limington?
There is a rumor today that Richmond is taken.
Your Affec. Son, Malcolm McArthur
Saturday. Turned out & got breakfast before daylight, but did not start till after sunrise. I staid behind nearly two hours making a descriptive list of Edwin Young, & writing a letter to secure lodgings & board for him at Brashear City, where he is going. He has never entirely recovered from the sickness he had at Baton Rouge, & now has a chronic diarrhea that is reducing his strength. He might get a discharge if the Medical Director were here, or even our own Surgeons, I think, but nothing can be done as things are. After getting through with Edwin I mounted one of the Chaplain’s horses & rode on in company with him after the Reg. but did not come up with it till we got to Washington—five miles from Opelousas. Here the Reg. turned into the woods but the side of the road & stacked arms. We hear today that Commodore Porter is at Alexandria with a portion of his fleet, & that we hold the place. We are to stop here till the arrival of a large provision train from Barre’s landing on the Atchafalaya 12 miles from here. We are to go to guard the train to Alexandria, about 90 miles from Opelousas. Just before dark we marched through the streets to a fine smooth field in the suburbs & encamped for the night. The officers lodged in a fine house that had been deserted by its late rebel occupant, (Dr. Prescott) & where we found beds & mattresses to lie upon. A well of excellent water was found in the yard & fence rails afforded fuel. Much of the splendid furniture of the house still remained, defaced though, by rude hands. A large lot of valuable books lay scattered about the house, exposed to mutilation & plunder. Had a good night’s sleep & did not turn out till after sunrise.
Headquarters Eleventh Corps
Near Brook’s Station, Va.,
My dear brother,
You must be aware that for the past week I have had no opportunity to write. Since the furious attack upon our Corps which began about 5 o’clock on Saturday neither my outward circumstances nor my feelings were favorable to letter writing. Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday we were more or less under fire. On Tuesday the Rebels showed a special design upon Otis. Finally shot Col Meysenburg’s horse under him as he was by the General’s side. After that Otis consented to go on foot when on the front and in certain range of the enemy’s rifles.
Sunday, Monday & Tuesday until 3 o’clock Wed. morning we held the left with Gen. Slocum who was upon the extreme left. We were behind rifle pits but all the time expecting an attack and several times during night & day our Pickets were driven in. Continue reading
Thursday. Got into line about 6 ½ o’clock passed through Vermillionville (about 24 miles from New Iberia) & to a beautiful grove on the plantation of M. Mouton, father of Gen. Mouton of the rebel army. Lt. J. & I took dinner in the mansion with Col. J. & his staff, Col. of the 114th, & some other officers—each contributing something for the table—the dishes being found in the house. The men were allowed to help themselves to sugar, ad libitum, & did help themselves to geese, chickens &c. about as they listed. Started again at 1 ½ p.m. & marched some seven or eight miles & camped. Plenty of fresh beef was soon brought in by the hundreds, & frying pans were in great demand, & in constant use till late in the evening. Lt. J. & self slept on the ground—most of the men pitching their tents. Many of the men are pretty footsore but I have stood the march well. The weather has been cool & comfortable.
Wednesday. Reveille beat at 3 o’clock this morning. Turned out & had a warm breakfast of baked beans from the Co. Commenced the march just before sunrise. The road for the first two miles was very dusty, but after that we marched across the prairie, & there being a cool north wind blowing we got along very comfortably. The 114th N.Y. marched ahead of us, & we halted about 10 o’clock in a fine grove of China trees 10 miles from New Iberia. Made coffee & ate our dinners & then many of us lay down in the shade & took a nap. Started about 2 p.m. & marched across the prairie about seven miles further. Stacked arms before sunset & permission being given to draw fresh meat, the boys soon brought in fresh port, & young pigs enough for all. Corp. Herrick went out with Houston & got a fine veal calf, but as we had made a supper on fresh port, kept the veal for breakfast. Lt. J. & Myself camped down in our blankets without any tent & slept well in spite of the fleas that tried their best to keep us awake.
Your letter of 26th. was received on 29th inst. I have received two letters from William this week, in one of them $15. He said he sent you $35 which I could have when I wanted by sending to you. I shall want it by the middle of this month to pay for clothes, etc. So you had better send it in your next Sunday letter and then I will get it in time. I expect to be at home in about six weeks.
When William wrote he was on his way to Charleston. It seems they are going to make another attack. I hope it will be more successful than the last.
Charlie has not written me for nearly a year. I can not think why it is. I have written him and sent him several papers.
Your Aff. Son, Malcolm McArthur
Hd. Qrs. 11th Corps
It is after dark and I have no candle but I will write you a little in the dark. In the terrible battle yesterday although we were often exposed to shot and shell yet our troops were not actually engaged. Our troops did not behave well yesterday & we were badly driven. My tentmate and fellow aide Capt Dessars was killed. Col. Miles was badly wounded. Last night we wakened several times by attacks upon our lines. By the guns we knew yesterday that Sedgwick was fighting near Fredericksburg. We heard the roar today and tomorrow will march to his relief, though we got pretty severely handled in yesterday’s & Saturdays battle.
The Lord is our trusted guide.
I hope the Rebels will let us sleep tonight. I was awakened hrs before now by a tremendous firing on our right. So you see we sleep daytime.
We are behind rifle pits and could hold them against any force – if the troops will stand. You cannot tell how badly Otis felt so see them run away. A force seemed to seize them. Two German Regiments, first on our right which Jackson turned. We think this will be the death blow to Rebellion.
Your loving son,
C. H. Howard
Sunday. Attended Sabbath School at the Methodist church at 9 o’clock. Only about 20 scholars present. The teachers all ladies, & no man present but the Superintendant & the preacher. Just before the close the roll of the School was called, 10 classes & about 50 Scholars’ names on the roll I should judge. At 10 ½ [a.m.] attended meeting in the same house. Preaching by the Methodist minister from Rev. 21: 3d & 4th, subject “Heaven.” The sermon was written & was a very good one. The Singing was Congregational—hymns—“There is a land of pure delight”, “Jerusalem my glorious home”–& to conclude “Lord dismiss us with they blessing.” In the Sabbath School as well as the meeting, the Congregation knelt during prayer—think everyone in the School, Scholars & teachers knelt. Notice was given that there will be preaching every Sabbath—next Sabbath by the Chaplain.
Laying at Chancellorsville Va. Skirmishing began at six o’clk A.M. and continued all day, interspersed with Artillery practice. 4 ½ P.M. the fight becomes heavy, [illegible word] increases for an hour and a half. Six and a half o’clock, heavy musketry off to the right.