December 31, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Lookout Valley Tenn

My dear Mother

I would like to transcribe for you my exact feelings and circumstances tonight – for they are altogether such that if you were to know them accurately you would certainly be relieved from all anxiety on my account – and more – for finding that I am actually contented and in good spirits and I might add the same of Otis and that our health is good – this goodness of God will I trust make you happy.

I am sitting in Otis’ tent by the same table with him. He is writing to Lizzie. It is almost midnight – the last day of 1863. I shall not attempt to review in this letter my life during the eventful year now so near its close. It is too crowded with momentous events. One year ago I was in our Camp of 2nd Divn 2nd Corps near Falmouth Va – Maj. Whittlesey was with us. Sometimes I fear we do not love God and think of Him so much now since we have come to this Corps – but I hope it is not so – And certainly He has manifested His goodness no less abundantly to us since we have been here.

I chose this paper because I have been writing upon it quite steadily all day and I wished to tell you that I have just completed twenty six pages of this kind – a kind of recreation – a sketch of Otis’ life which I have prepared for publication in accordance with the solicitation of a young man – an artist whose acquaintance I formed here recently. If the sketch is published I will send you a copy.

You will not be surprised if my handwriting shows marks of weariness of fingers – or if my fingers make marks indicative of weariness or indeed of my weariness of fingers make illegible marks. But I ought to be more serious as the old year is dying. Continue reading

December 23, 1863

Washington

Dear Father,

I have just received some papers from you for which I am exceedingly obliged. Although I am not idle out here, yet the time frequently hangs heavy upon me and I am glad, in default of other reading matter, to have over the columns of newspapers.

I presume that you must have received some of the letters that I have written you since “Lookout.” Fannie writes me that you have received a letter from General Hooker in which he speaks in a complimentary manner of me. It is gratifying to me to know that I won his good opinion under such circumstances for no one can doubt his judgment of what constitutes good conduct in a soldier.

I called upon Gen. Howard a few days ago, my first opportunity as he had but just returned from the pursuit of Songstreet and he came to see me upon business however yesterday. He wishes me to give you his best regards. He stands very well out here and I think that his corps is fully up to the standard of western troops. He has some wretched officers, men who are not only incapable but who are inimical to him, and do not wish him to succeed. And this fact should be taken into consideration in estimating his qualities by his success. His great trouble is among the Germans who are, as a rule, poor soldiers.

We are rather badly used by the ruling powers of this “ground division.” They make us do more of the fighting, give us little credit, put our men upon half rations and keep outmen hard at work building roads to supply the western troops who are snugly ensconced in Chattanooga.[…]

I am still well and growing fat. My warmest wishes + the compliments of the season,” and I remain With much love Your Son

James D. Fessenden to his father, William Pitt Fessenden [Fessenden Collection] 

December 22, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps
Lookout Valley

My dear Mother

I often write you hurried and I fear very unsatisfactory letters. I keep my own conscience clear by reasoning that if I waited for suitable opportunities always I would not write so frequently and that perhaps it is preferable to have poor letters often rather than have better ones much more seldom.

This afternoon I hope to have leisure to fill my long sheet – a confiscated sheet, by the way, from the office of the “Athens Post” – a Rebel newspaper formerly published at Athens where we spent several pleasant days in East Tennessee. We captured the Editor also and Otis is making the attempt to exchange him for our friend A. D. Richardson Correspondent of the N.Y. Tribune now in Libbey Prison Richmond if alive – captured in trying to run past Vicksburg last Summer.

It is a cloudy day and will probably end in rain. It is I suppose about time for the rainy season. We are fast getting ready for it. The men are at work making “the General” a new log house. They are also making new mess quarters for our little family. We have taken in Col. Hayes now so we have now six members. Colored people accumulated wonderfully in our recent campaign into East Tennessee and we have two colored women (and one of them has two children) in the service of our mess. One is cook – the other – a girl of 16 or 17 – is waitress.

Speaking of mess – I will enumerate the articles of food for dinner today (as far as I remember) that you my know how luxuriantly we fare – notwithstanding the dryness of this Country and the fact that the troops have only 3/4 rations. Continue reading

December 5, 1863

Grafton, West Virginia

My dear General:

Allow me to tender you congratulations with the rest of your friends, on the new laurels you have won for yourself and your command in the late battles that drove the Enemy from his “strong places” on “Lookout Mountain” , and inflicted on his panic stricken and dismayed legions one of the deadliest blows to the Rebellion it has received. A few more such, and the bloody drama is ended… My earnest prayers for your safety, success, and happiness, you will always have.

Most truly,

Your friend, S.N. Sherman

S.N. Sherman to Oliver Otis Howard [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

November 15, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps Lookout Valley

My dear brother,

[...] They fire every day more or less. Yesterday a Shell buried itself three feet in the ground within a dozen yards of where Otis & I were riding along. They possibly fired at a Wagon-train which was passing near us. As soon as we get the roads all corduroyed to Kelly’s Ferry, the wagons can go a route very little exposed. Our Head quarters are rather long range for them besides they are somewhat concealed by trees and we have no apprehensions that they will trouble us from Lookout though shells have struck within one quarter of a mile this morning.

I suppose this would be quite near enough for our peaceful people at home. I might say it is quite near enough for us but still we are so accustomed to the noise and so well aware of our safety when they are that distance from us that we have no more feeling of fear than father would have should he hear the sound of turning out a cart load of stones – which you know makes considerable noise.[...]

Your Affectionate brother C H Howard

November 12, 1863

Lookout Valley, Tenn.

My Dear boy,

I have just received a letter from Mamma. She says Guy has improved in reading. I am glad to hear this for a poor reader seems like a poor scholar. In this part of the country I have not met a little boy who can read or write. There are no school houses. Hardly any of the grown up people can read. They make their mark. […]

From the high mountain the rebels throw shells down every day with their guns: only one or two have done us any harm. They fire at us in the morning. […]

Lovingly, Papa

Oliver Otis Howard to his son, Jamie [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

October 30, 1863

Dearest

We have passed through another encounter with the enemy and providentially have escaped unharmed. My Corps left Bridgeport on Tuesday the 27th and marched some fifteen or sixteen miles encamped at a place called Whitinder. You can hardly imagine a rougher country – rocks, hills and mountains with deep valleys. We met with coal miners on the top of the high peaks with an arrangement of a car, tramway and rope to let down the coal. [Illegible name] had a log-house [...] one large woman and several small children. How poor, how filthy, how ignorant the people are. One abandoned house at the Depot was pretty fair. It had two rooms. We had it swept and a fire built. With [illegible] well out and some misgivings about the enemy we had a fair night. [...]

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

Ocotber 24, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Army of the Cumberland, Bridgeport

Dearest,

We received a letter written to Chm. and mailed Oct. 16 – It had reached him in eight days and I am glad to hear Jamie is so well and you say nothing of Guy’s illness so I presume his fever too was soon over. “Ruby has a little cough” to keep company with papa I hope nether will last long. This is a cold damp place, more so than Augusta it seems to me. [...]

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

October 19, 1863

Bridgeport, Ala.

Dearest,

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a letter dated the 9th it was nine days on the way. You last said Jamie had begun to recover, but he hadn’t gotten full use of his fist yet. The one didn’t say one word about him and so I must infer that the little fellow is well. I was sorry to find Guy feverish again. How poor his digestion has always been – nuts, acorns and such like he will have to forgo. I suspect he is like his father. My cold holds on unaccountably. I cough pretty hard and raise. The climate is peculiar – fogs on the mountains and along the [illegible] always chilly mornings [...]

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

October 4, 1863

Richmond, Indiana

My dear Mother,

At a town where the train paused a few moments – say half an hour – just before sunset, Xenia Ohio, we had a perfect ovation. Ladies, Gentlemen & Children thronged the train its whole length of some 30 cars  and loaded down the soldiers with all kinds of eatables. When they found Gen. Howard was on board the Ladies all came along in succession to shake hands with him as he stood on the platform of the rear car. They heaped upon us their gifts of pies, cakes, Bread & butter, sandwiches, apples, peaches and most abundantly grapes.

A dozen or so of the little girls brought paper for the General to write his name upon – which he did for as many as he could until the cars left. [...]

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