October 14, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Bridgeport Ala.

My dear brother,

[…] We have one of the Soldier’s California Fire-places and my colored man “Nash” came in and kindled a fire before I got up. So you see I am living quite luxuriously. The fire-place is Constructed by sinking a trench about a foot wide & deep and extending outside the tent. This is walled up with flat stones and in ours is covered inside the tent with a flat piece of cast-iron which our “Pioneers” had found somewhere and appropriated. Outside, and usually the whole length it is covered with flat stones – and at a distance of two or three feet from the tent a chimney of flat stones and mud rises to a height about equal to the top of the tent. In the scarcity of stones the chimney is heightened by the use of boards. The inner end of the Trench is left uncovered for a foot or little more and here is where the fire is kindled. Of course two of us have little room to spare in one of these “7 by 9” tents, so our table with writing desk is set over the fireplace and as I sit and write it is very convenient to warm my feet. In fact I am compelled to warm them whether they are cold or not. For our table we have four stakes driven firmly into the ground and the table made of two boards fastened together is laid upon the tops of these. Our little Pine desk which is loaded down like all desks serves to keep the table in place. Since I arrived we have had a floor made to our tent. It was well that it was completed before the rain – the fireplace ditto.

We are located upon a hill and in the enclosure of a Rebel Fort.

We have reason to be thankful that the Enemy did so much digging for our profit – yet we would have been better pleased had they not so unwisely left their rear entirely unprotected. For since it now becomes our front we must needs go to work fortifying. […]

Charles Henry Howard to his brother, Rodelphus Gilmore [Charles Henry Howard Collection]


October 11, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Bridgeport, Alabama

My dear Mother,

I arrived at this place at 2 o’clock this morning having started from Nashville at ten a.m. of Friday. The bridges burned by the Rebel Raiders were all rebuilt so as to allow of our passage that day and before dark we had got beyond the break – but the grades on the Nashville and Chatanooga R.R. are abrupt and as we had a heavy train we progressed slowly and finally got stuck on a heavy up-grade between Wartrace and Tullahoma. After several hours delay we were boosted on by another engine and stopped for breakfast at Déchert. The Conductor was hungry as well as the rest and so as accommodatingly as carelessly waited till a Breakfast was cooked at a forlorn shanty of a house. At Cowan, 4 miles below, we learned by telegraph that the Rebels had been there in the night and done damage to the R.R. in the tunnel near that place. Perhaps the conductor was more willing to delay owing to this report, owing to a similar report received the evening before we had brought troops of the 12th Corps from Wartrace to reinforce the R.R. guards etc. General Butterfield (Hooker’s chief of staff) was on a train just in rear.

After a decent Breakfast at 50 cts (which seemed reasonable in comparison with other meals for which I had paid $.75 and with the exorbitancy in Nashville) we went on to Cowan. Found that the guards (not from the 11th or 12th Corps) had run away and the Rebels had thrown rocks, stones, dirt and timber down through two apertures or shafts (as I think they are called) running from above perpendicularly down into the Tunnel and through which the stones, etc. were taken up in the construction of the Tunnel. Continue reading

October 7, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Assistant Inspector General’s Office, Nashville, Tenn

My dear Mother,
I arrived here last night. Found Col. Asmussen, Balloch and some other of the staff, but the rest went through to Bridgeport (120 miles) with the General and the troops last week. Otis left here last Friday evening.
On Monday last a Rebel force of Cavalry destroyed one and perhaps more bridges just below Murfreesboro and hence cutting off Rail Road Communication between this and Bridgeport. The Telegraph is also broken and we cannot consult with or get orders from the General. He has forage & rations enough but all the artillery horses are yet here
– having reached this city from the East and North only last night.
I must wait here till the bridges & R.R. are repaired. Our Artillery horses
may perhaps be sent by marching but they must rest a few days from their terrible journey of a week upon the cars from which they are much weakened. Fortunately our own sta
ff horses went on from here before the General and are now safe and for use at Bridgeport.
This latter place, which you have probably never heard of before as none of us had, is at the point where the Nashville Rail Road first strikes the Tennessee River. It did have a R.R. bridge there and thence the Rail Road ran along on the South side of the Tennessee River to Chatanooga, a distance of only 30 miles by the River. But Gen. Rosecrans has never repaired nor used the R.R. beyond Bridgeport and since his  last great battle the Enemy have come in and taken possession of that portion of the country on the
South side of the Tennessee – from Bridgeport to Lookout Mountain. Rosecrans’ right rests upon this range of mountains which runs perpendicular to the River. He gets his supplies by going a round about way among other mountain ranges and through passes on the North of the Tennessee. I am looking for a letter from father. I think the best investment I could make would be in one of those U.S. banks and Uncle Henry [Strickland] can get me $1,000 at par although there is a great demand for the stock. It will pay 10 per cent.
How is your health, Mother? You will have to write pretty often now in order to make up for the long time letters take in coming. From Aunt Martha’s to here takes about the same time as from home to Washington.
Love to all. Your affectionate Son C. H. Howard

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]

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 2, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Army of the Potomac.

My dear mother:

The day I wrote you from Washington (last Saturday) at half past seven in the evening we reached Catlett’s Station …I found my horses all looking well after their long rest.  Yesterday Otis reviewed one of the  Brigades and today another.  He has just returned from the Review.  I have been at home as my presence was not required and have been listening to music both from Piano and melodeon by a Capt of General Schurz’s staff.  Monday Otis with manual assistance from me and an occasional help of memory or other suggestion, made out his report of the battle of Gettysburg.  I was writing from early in the morning until late in the evening, but finished it all up in one day, 37 pages on paper like this.  I am writing in my tent which is shared by Capt. Stinson who is now sitting upon my Cot.  Our tent is just in [illeg. word] of the house, north, under the shade of locust trees.  Little Lottie Catlett is just in here, a little girl of 5 or 6, prattling and playing.  She is quite a roguish little piece. …

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

July 29, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps, Warrenton Junction, Va.

My dear Mother,

If we could have known that the Army would lie still so long we might have been home by this time. Yet we may move before another four days or even another two days expire. I got letters from Dellie & Rowland each telling about the Draft. Hope you will find it convenient to go up and visit Rowland. He can tell you a great deal about our daily life which was striking to him and he would remember but which does not come to my mind in writing. It has continued very warm but last night we had a shower which cooled off the air a little.

I am going to ride to Hd. qrs. with Otis this morning to Warrenton 9 miles or more.

I answer to a letter he had written Otis received one from the President in which he expressed great regret that Lee was allowed to escape but on the whole said he had determined to be grateful for what had been done & not complain about what had not been accomplished. Continue reading

July 20, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Army of the Potomac. Mountville, Loudon Co. Va. July 20th 1863

My dear Mother,

I had hoped to have time to write you a good long letter today as we were not to march. We arrived at this beautiful place in Loudon Valley yesterday P.M. Some roving Rebel Cavalry had been here in the morning and two officers of the 11st Corps staff were captured while ahead of their Command selecting camping ground. Hd. qrs. are at Union. Our orders last evening were that we remain at rest today. This is very refreshing.

We are at a pleasant house Mr Mounts’. They are all Rebels in sentiment but treat us kindly enough.The young lady, who is quite pretty, is as decided and outspoken a Rebel as I have ever seen. They claim Gettysburg as a Rebel victory! We don’t see it in that light. A few more such Rebel victories is all that we need to end the war. Continue reading

July 7, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, Army of the Potomac

My dear Mother,

One of our Divn. reached Middletown – back again night before last. And we returned to our old Hd. qrs. at a house <[torn]> this side of the town where we <[torn]> were treated very well when on our <[torn]> up. We came over the mountain at High Knob. The 5th Corps also under Otis’ command for the time came the same way. The Divn. which got to town that night had marched about 30 miles in one day. Some of our artillery got stuck in attempting to get up the mountain & as our troops could not get past, the rest remained there. At half past 3 next morning I went back to get up the artillery & trains & clear the way for the 5th Corps. Had to work very hard & finally found another road for the 5th – at same time got the artillery & all the trains in motion. This took me till 12 ½ m. I tell you this to show something of my occupation. I got not a <morsel> break till that time. Yesterday P.M. we marched to Boonesboro Gap where we now are on the west side of the mountain in sight of the Antietam battlefield. One Divn. at Boonsboro which went forward to support Buford’s Cavalry which had been fighting all day. After us the 1st Corps came up on our right and this morning the 6th which saw less fighting of lately strong has passed on to Boonsboro. Continue reading