May 26, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, near Brooke’s Station.

Dearest: I received a letter from you Sunday afternoon, and felt sorry indeed that seeing your friends had proved so bad for you, but I hope after a little quiet you and yourself again.  I am not so sure that my coming might not excite you even though I belong there.  I do not think I can go home now.  I will tell you my reasons.  My Corps did not do very well at Chancellorsville.  Now everybody who is to blame tries to shift the responsibility upon somebody’s elses shoulders.  The Germans and the Americans are many of them against me.  It was my first trial with them.  Now I must drill & discipline my command & get it in hand.  I must work to get good officers in the command of Brigade and regiments.  I must be here to head off wire-pullers.  I want the command to learn me and I wish to learn it.  Again I rather apprehend an attack here, after the affair at Vicksburg which is so disastrous to the rebels.  They will try some game to retrieve their hopes.  Most probably will accumulate a very large force against Rosencrantz.  In that case we should not be attacked, but perhaps now something desperate will be attempted and Lee will cross above us & attack us hoping to crush this army now that we have lost so many two years & nine month regiments. … I am under a little cloud, tenderly excused but yet unsuccessful, and I have not been accustomed to succumb under difficulties. …

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Ann Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

May 17, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps

My dear Mother,

It has been a warm pleasant day. We have had services at out Hd. qrs., as usual. The Band of the 33d Mass which plays so beautifully was in attendance. Rev. Mr. Warren of the Christian Commission officiated who has been laboring in the hospitals many of which – in fact all the General Hospitals of the Army – are located in this vicinity. The General Hospitals have all the worst cases of sick and all the wounded except such as have been conveyed to Washington – farther North. They consist of a large encampment (like a brigade) for a Corps. The Hospital tents are some 20 by 12 feet or perhaps larger.
These in this vicinity look very neat & comfortable. Otis intends visiting our Corps hospital this P.M.

We had the great rarity of two ladies at services and at dinner today. Mrs. Genl. Barlow and Mrs Parker wife of Lieut. Parker of the Regular Army. Mrs. Parker was an acquaintance of Mrs. Barlow – and stays with Mrs B in a house not far from here although Lt. Parker belongs to another Divn. & another Corps. He gets Leave to visit his wife often now that we are doing but little. I think you will remember Gen. Barlow who now commands one of our Brigades and was formerly Colonel of my Regiment, 61st N.Y. -
was with us at Fair Oaks. He is a brave & good officer. Mrs. B. is a very smart woman. She reached the Antietam battle field, the next day after the fight and was in time to take care of her husband who was wounded very severely. [...]

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

 

May 8, 1863

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

May 4, 1863

Hd. Qrs. 11th Corps

Dear Mother

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

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

April 26, 1863

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.

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

March 20, 1863

Headquarters 2nd Divn
Near Falmouth, Va.

My dearest children

I want to tell you about a little boy about the age of Grace. The other night just at evening I was sitting before the fire a knock at my tent door:  “come in;” when in bounced a little black eyed boy. He looked something like this little fellow, with his pants rolled up near the tops of his little boots. A large man followed him. “Well where did you come from!” No answer, only eyes sparkle. Then, “What’s your name.” Willie. Willie’s uncle had been traveling around with Willie trying to find his father in the 98 Tenn. Regiment all that afternoon. It was in Gen. Sedgwick’s Corps people had sent him to Gen. Sedgwick’s old Division. I was delighted. He looked at my tongs, handled my shovel called for my poker and insisted that that was not a poker but a cane. He got hold of the black end of the tongs and I had to wash his hands. He next had my photographs and in an instant was out begging for a ride on a horse. Uncle Charlie gave him one – it was near night – and the boy and uncle had as much as five miles to go. I kissed the little boy and sent him off in an ambulance. I asked him while here where his mother was – he said in her grave. His uncle said he was an only son – and his father was a Lieutenant in the army.

Oliver Otis Howard to his children [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

March 18, 1863

My dear nephew Guy

Grandmother Gilmore came up last evening and we heard all about you and Grace and Jamie and your Mamma. We have not heard for a long time before and were glad that Jamie has gotten over his cough – that Guy can read in the Bible as well as anybody and that Grace has improved very much. I went to Brunswick after your Papa went back, to see him! But he went the day before. What a good time you must  have had going to meet him!

[...]

Your loving uncle, Rowland

Rowland Bailey Howard to Oliver Otis Howard’s son, Guy [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

February 14, 1863

2-14

Oliver Otis Howard

Headquarters 2nd Divn
2nd Corps. Feb. 14. 1863
Near Falmouth Va.

Dearest,

It is getting pretty late and we have had reading and prayers, but I can’t go to bed without telling you that I have thought much of this day 8 years ago, since then how much of experiences in the retrospect.  You seem just as young, just as beautiful, and I think a little more so to me now.  There is so much freshness in our lives.  I would like to lover-like to pay my addresses to you tonight.  Never mind the wedding dress, nor the tiny slippers, nor the choir cake.  To me it would be a wedding night if I were home even without the bonfire.  Goodnight.

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

 

January 8, 1863

January 8th, 1863.  Near Falmouth, Va.

My dear little daughter:

Papa wrote Guy and then Mamma and thinks it is now your turn.  Uncle Charlie is in papa’s tent and eating an apple while reading an interesting newspaper.  He has now gone and Lt. Stinson’s colored boy has come in to get some sugar.  Now he has gone.  This makes me think of two things: the boy & the sugar.  This boy is about as big as our “Tom” but you never saw our Tom.  He is about the size of Mr. Blain’s oldest (is his name Walter?)  He has curly hair, black eyes, but his skin is not exactly black …

The sugar comes in a barrel.  Capt. Bullock our new commissary brought it and for fun these little colored boys would put their hands in the barrel too often where it was deposited.  The Capt. put it in my tent.

Evening.  I have just received a budget of letters from Mamma.  She tells papa the sad news that Guy learns something wrong almost every day.  Papa hopes & prays that his little boys may strive to do right every day.  Do you try hard to do the things you know Jesus loves?  Papa finds it hard to do what he knows to be right but he prays & asks God to help him.

Your two Ambrotypes don’t look as if  you would do wrong.  They are very sweet children.  Give much love for papa all around and pray for papa in real honesty.  Very lovingly your father, O.O. Howard. …

Oliver Otis Howard to “My dear little daughter” [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]