September 20, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Catlett’s Station

Dearest,

I received Mrs. Stinson’s letter yesterday and began to realize how sick our poor little Jamie is. In dispatch of the 18th…was two days later. The at present makes me fear he is yet not better, but I cannot yet realize we shall lose him. I say and try to feel as you do, “My will be done.” God has been truly gracious, long-suffering and offers tender kindness to us. Mrs. Stinson says you look pale and worry. I hope you will not over-work but I know you cannot spare yourself, she said mother had com, but did not say whether Gracie had come home. Jamie said in his little room room: “God loves Jamie” and I feel sure, Papa loves Jamie. When he is delirious he does not realize his suffering.

I write very slowly because I keep stopping. It is Sabbath morning about 10 AM. The weather has become very cold. I am left 25 miles in the rear of the rest of the army to grant the communications: this is a nicely how for I can hear from home with more regularity then if I was on the front line. John says I have but ten minutes more. I can think only of home. [...]

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Elizabeth Anne Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

September 19, 1863

On board the Forest City.  Set sail about five this morning.  About nine was sea-sick, and for the first time ‘threw up’ on board the boat.  Took my bunk—not a berth—and there lay till three.  My first day out [of] sight of land.  Saw Cape Cod as we passed.  All sand.  At night anchored off Martha’s Vineyard.  Quite a safe harbor.  Several ships were there.  The fog was so dense that the  Capt. thought it best not to go on.  Another row today.  One Sullivan of the N.H. detachment tied up for striking officers.  After remaining at anchor a short time, started again.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir]

September 17, 1863

Considerable skirmishing today … About 4 o’clock the Yankees left their breastworks for what is not known.  Gen. Lee came to where my 1st piece is.  Think he is looking to see how the defences are.

Received letters from home today under date of June 30th.  Came to the conclusion they were rather ancient.

Diary of A.M. Riddle [Civil War Miscellany]

September 16, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps

My dear Mother,

[...] We have heard some firing today but do not know whether Gen. Meade intends to push on to attack or only hold a front upon the Rapidan River. He is hardly strong enough now to try Richmond in real earnest, unless he thinks he can get there before Lee could recall his absent forces. And in that case – could he hold what he had acquired? is the great question. So I think, notwithstanding this bold and threatening advance into the enemy’s country and the skirmishing which has already occurred, that a great battle or a general attack by our Army is hardly probable. [...]

Charles Henry Howard to his mother, Eliza Otis Howard [Charles Henry Howard Collection]

September 15, 1863

Temple and I have been surveying the Island this morning, and getting statistics.  There are about 1450 men encamped here under command of Gen. Devens.  About 770 are conscripts and substitutes.   From Maine 193.  N.H. 174.  Vt. 200, and Mass. 150.  Negroes 54, mostly from Mass.  The rest about 680 are guard.  Of these Co. A, 81 men and Co. C, 70, are conscripts, Co. B, 150 men, are officers detailed from regiments to take charge of conscripts and Co. 7, 8 & 9, 132, 130, 116 men respectively are Heavy Artillery, half vols. Half old soldiers.  The health of all is good generally.  The negroes are encamped near the water at a distance from the rest of us.  The Sergeant in charge told us they are intelligent, apt and orderly.  All write their own letters.  I noticed several of them were pitching coppers, and others playing cards.

Those who attempted to escape Sunday night were from Vermont.  Two of them were drowned, and the other two have been taken.

Election news is glorious.  The Pine  Tree State still maintains her position, is true to the Union, and worthy of her motto ‘Dirigo.’  Copperheads at home are beaten and we can only hope that traitors elsewhere may be whipped as completely and gloriously.

Letter from George gladly received.  He failed to get a pass to the Island.  So failed I in my attempt to get him a pass from Gen. Devens.  No go for substitutes.  The Captain has disciplined several today.  Punishment has been inflicted by having offenders stand on a barrel in front of the Captain’s head-quarters.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir]

September 14, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps

Dearest,

I received your bundle of letters with two most welcome ones from yourself. I had already began one to Grace and intended to send it to Leeds as you said in the letter from July that you would probably have been there for a whole. I sorry to hear that our little Jamie is so small, but are in hopes that you and Dr. Briggs by the divine blessing will soon cure him.

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Elizabeth Anne Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

September 13, 1863

Camp near Beverly Ford

Dear Brother,

I am going to begin a letter to you it’s snowing and perhaps will finish it today and perhaps instead of using the pen I shall leave to grasp the sword and rush into battle. We have just received orders to be ready to move at a moment’s notice: the 2nd corps crossed at Rappahannock Station yesterday and are pressing on to Culpepper and we are to support them. I hope we shall not have to right today – it is an improper way of spending the Sabbath, but the excitement – even if we do not move – will be enough to spoil the quietness of the Sabbath. [...]

Holman Melcher to brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

September 11, 1863

9-11Mackie’s Island.  Slept very well for the first time on the ground.  Found mother’s comforter an excellent article for use.  Reveille 5.  Breakfast 6.  Pork, Potatoes, Coffee. Bread.  A day of loafing.  Found opportunity for reading my testament and prayer.  My chums having no objection I had prayer last night just before retiring.  Am learning the demoralisation of camp life.  Gambling, stealing, card playing, swearing and obscenity are prevalent.  Lost my dipper this noon, and was advised to steal one to pay for it.  Perhaps I shall have to steal, but it shall be my last resort.  Wrote two letters, one home, and one to B–.  Marched to Paymaster’s and received one hundred dollars, my state bounty.  Then ordered on board the Hester which took us to Portland.  Here we took the Lewiston for Long Island, Boston Harbor.  There were ninety of us, perhaps ninety-two, as two escaped or were concealed on board the boat before we arrived at our … destination.  Our quarters were between decks in which we were placed more like animals than men.  We fared no better, if so well, than our neighbors, some sheep.  The officers in command of us were Capt. Illsley of the 15th and Lieut. Green of the 17th.  I left Mackie’s Island with pleasure because I wished to be where I could have something to do.  My day at the Island and my chums will not soon be forgotten.

Diary of Edwin Emery [Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir]