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.
Civil War History...
My dear little Daisy, I begun a letter to you before the battle, but in the hurry of our moving it was lost. It was night too, so that we could not see much. I am sorry I lost the letter, for it was almost done. There has been a big battle, and we had a great many men killed or wounded. We shall try it again soon, and see if we cannot make those Rebels behave better, and stop their wicked works in trying to spoil our Country, and making us all so unhappy.
I am suddenly ordered to got to the front to take command of our pickets. Mamma will tell you what they are, so good bye once more. Papa
Thursday. In forenoon finished the case of Theodate Melancon. The witnesses called by him for the defence really knew little about the matter he was tried for. Their testimony being introduced chiefly to prove that the prisoner told them he was going to the negro Capt. to get back a couple of horses that the gang had taken from him. After getting through with the witnesses, he made quite a long statement through the interpreter, asserting that the negroes compelled him to go with them, & that he escaped from them as soon as he could safely. Two members of the Commission decided him to be guilty of that part of the Specification that declared him to have unlawfully joined a band of armed negroes with whom he proceeded to St. Martinsville for the purpose of plundering, & as they were on a majority, they sentenced him to “Six months hard labor with a b all & chain attached to his left leg.” I felt obliged to vote “Not guilty” on both charged & specifications, there appearing to be ground for a very reasonable doubt in regard to his guilt, & I felt bound to give him the benefit of it.
Wednesday. Spent the day as a member of a Military Commission appointed by Genl. Emory, consisting of Col. Jerrard, self & Capt. Long, of the 52nd Mass. Maj. Lieber of Gen’l. Emory’s Staff, Judge Advocate. Engaged all day, trying the case of a creole named Theodate Melancon, who is charged with leading a gang of armed negroes in plundering & outrage on the citizens of St. Martinsville. Examined a large number of witnesses who all testified that the prisoner was with the gang, which was commanded by a negro named Pierre—that they were all apparently in liquor, & that on being fired upon by the people in the village of St. Martinsville when their leader & another negro was killed, the rest took to flight. The prisoner was not seen when the gang was fired on, & was arrested on the prairie a mile east of the Bayou while apparently trying to escape. He was alone, the negroes having fled in other directions. The witnesses were nearly all French & their testimony had to be interpreted to the Court. The case was not closed today and from all the testimony thus far, it seems probably that the accused, as he claims to have been, was compelled by the negroes to join them. Tomorrow is the day of “muster for payment,” but the Col. has decided to omit it.
Rain commenced at ten o’clock. Ordered to march at noon. Got every thing loaded and were off at noon exactly. Marched by Div HD Qrs up to White Oak church and turned to the CYC down in S[illegible] River Road that we took before the last fight. Roads very hard. [...]
Camp near Falmouth Va.
Dear Brother N.
Again with pleasure do I inform a few moments this evening in writing you and you are probably astonished to see is dated at our old camp – well so am I, for I expected long before this time to be far away… but we seem to be destined to disappointments – perhaps the future will be brighter – hope is will.
This is the second time we have been stopped by rain. This time we had to stop for the mud to dry away and while doing so the enemy found out the plans and so we must wait till new ones are made!… I am not complaining of Providence – no – no!! Only excusing our delay. I am aware that the result is loathing to this army for deeds that will tell when the rebellion – and the south too, are gaining courage from our inactivity. But I hope the time is not far distant when this army will come forth from a [illegible text] with the heroes of victory in a great and glorious Cause.
Headquarters Eleventh Corps
Near Brooks Station Va.,
My dear Mother,
It is a bright warm afternoon and now the moon has changed we anticipate fair weather for some time.
We had our Religious services this morning, conducted by Rev. Mr. Johnson Congregationalist of Bangor. Maj. Whittlesey had known him before. He is simply on a visit to the army. I have written to Rowland today. Got a letter from him & Ella yesterday. We were rejoiced to hear of Everett Bridgham’s [a first cousin] conversion. Poor Aunt Aurelia [the sister of Charles’ father Rowland and the mother of Everett] is very sick he writes. And Jane Bates has passed away from earth. We can hardly realize that Jane will not meet us with her cheerful face whenever we go home again to our good old neighborhood.
But the future life was very real to Jane. Her friends left behind are the only sufferers. God grant them the consolations of His infinite word – and that they all may be ready to go & join Jane when the summons comes. I desire to be ready. I know not as we are in the midst of any more uncertainty than you but it often seems so.
We search tomorrow morning for the upper Rappahannock – not so much as this has been revealed but I judge from indications unmistaken to me. The 12th Corps is also expected to march. How much more I do not know.
The Fast-day is nearing & I do hope for if not resulting from the united cry of many hearts. We will carry the works with the faith & prayers and perhaps God will this time bless us. At any rate in his own good time his Kingdom shall triumph & I cannot be too bitterly disappointed with this pure hope ever present.
Otis & I are perfectly well. The promotions (it is announced by telegraph) have been made. So I will have to exchange the title of Captain which I have held less than a month for that of Major. But this is of very little moment to me. Pray that I may always have a willing mind and grace needed for every duty.
Your Very Affectionate Son
C. H. Howard
P.S. Remember me kindly to Isabella & brother if you see them.
It has cleared off at length. Today has been very pleasant. A high mind has heaven drying up the mud.
I take the liberty to write you in behalf of Gentlemen of this city upon a matter which they do not wish to make the object of an official Communication. It is their opinion and they represent the leaders of the Republican Party throughout the state that the Copperheads as they are called confidently expect to carry the state in the fall elections, and that local men of every name must put forth their most earnest efforts to defeat them. It is a most sacred duty not only to the state but our country. To insure success and the defeat of rebellion here in our midst, it is the desire of Republicans to advance a Union candidate for Governor upon whom the whole loyal heart of the state and the votes of every man who loves liberty, his country, and the right.
I am assumed that the best and most influential men of the Republican party write in naming yourself as the man who in their opinion, can best thus unite the people and heal the state.
Many in this vicinity are anxious to know what are your views upon this subject and if you would accept the nomination. The expression of your feeling and opinion if you see fit to communicate it to me, would not of course be made public, but would be seen only buy a few who have influence and control in political matters and who desire thus to hear from you that they may be able to act understandingly.
I hope you are well and I that God will abundantly strengthen you for your responsible duties and bless you spiritually.
Please give my regards to Charles.
Yours very truly, J.B. Gilman
Thursday. Went into the Hospital where the wounded rebel prisoners are. Found most of them doing well & pretty cheerful. The ladies of the place attend them constantly, & provide many comforts for them which add greatly to their happiness. Most of those I saw looked like intelligent men, and they are apparently among the better class of Southern soldiers. 10 o’clock A.M. Orders have just come to cook 1 day’s ration of beef, & take that, with 1 day’s ration of raw pork and two of hard bread, & get ready to move as soon as possible. It is supposed we are to go up the Bayou by Steamer to New Iberia. Got away—not by Steamer, but afoot—about 2 P.M. Marched about 9 miles to a place on the bayou called “Indian Bend.” Reached there about dusk. Made coffee, ate supper, & camped down. The men nearly all slept on the ground without their tents. Self & Lieuts. slept on the floor in a house with the Field Officers & some others.