December 17, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Lookout Valley

My dear brother

You will smile at my two story pink sheet [the letter is written on long pink paper]. It is some paper captured and confiscated from a Rebel newspaper Printing office – “The Athens Post”. We were glad enough to get back to our old camp and valley yesterday. Troops marched by way of the base and over a portion of the nose of Lookout Mountain – in coming from Chattanooga here. The night before we were at Tyner’s Station on the Knoxville & Chattanooga R.R. and the night and day before that were at
Cleveland. Thence I sent a letter to you adding a brief P.S. in pencil the morning it left. Now I shall take pleasure in answering the two letters from you which Col. Hiram Hayes brought me there, thus agreeably celebrating the event of his first joining the Corps.

It was the first mail since leaving the north end of Mission Ridge – where when the fight of Sherman in which one of our Brigades was engaged and in which I lament to add poor brave McAloon (formerly of our staff but at that time commanding his Regt.) was mortally wounded. When darkness had closed the fighting that day (Wednesday 25th Nov.) we were chased by a mail. A letter from you mailed the 16th Nov then reached me. From that time no mail nor newspaper save one till last Monday at Cleveland nearly three (3) weeks. Besides the brief letter enclosing Everetts oration at Gettysburg another Nov 29th & 30th when you had them of the battle. You were right in supposing our “Trains would not follow in the rapid pursit of the enemy”. My letters will have informed you how we even swung off from our base completely and still managed to supply our troops and to get on as comfortably almost as ever.

The richness of the country we entered when we started for the relief of Burnside is the secret of the facility with which we marched without trains or rations.

Sherman’s other troops (from Memphis) however had practiced this mode of living and I am sorry to say had not a very high state of discipline as to the manner or time of supplying themselves with food. They are great thieves. And for a while we feared our troops would imitate them as they did in some instances but Otis diligently and perseveringly strove against all depredations. To aid him a kind Providence allowed us twice to capture large supplies from the Enemy, and what was of scarcely less importance we were suffered to lead the march – so our Commissary had a fair field and they proved themselves unusually active and assiduous in their efforts to get provisions.

We thought you would hardly get the good news before noon of Thanksgiving day. Perhaps it was well that “all felt more like praying than praising.”

I did not put Gen. Grant’s moral worth too high. So pure, so unselfish, so single-minded a man, it seems to me must have Divine help. And judging therefore from what others who have known him intimately say and from what I have seen (and he does not put a high fence about himself like some of our nabob generals) I can but think he is a God-fearing, Christ trusting man. If not he is the greatest man I ever saw and this is not to imply that he would not be were this condition removed. But I think you will agree with me in believing there is something superhuman in these traits of Character – in so successful and so honored a man.

The letter before me announces the death of Charles Dudly. How bad for his mother & sisters!

Farwell has sent a letter of Blaine’s concerning Otis – published in the N.Y. Post – very flattering and kind and connecting him with the 11th Corps as it does, is calculated to do good and I may add is highly gratifying to us all.

Hayes begins well – was glad to bring us his own hands news from his brothers & family. Saw his wife on

his way here – in Indiana I believe. LeDuc falls back to Capt. And will undoubtedly always be a bitter enemy of the Gen’l. He is at Bridgeport.

Gen. Sherman has written Otis one of the warmest letters of commendation and friendly regards I ever saw from one General officer to another. And as Sherman is a rough plain spoken non-flattery man I feel highly delighted; and this with the respect & esteem with which I am confident he is held by Gens. Thomas and Grant compensates for the disappointment which I shared with you in reference to Meade’s Report at Gettysburg. Otis always said Meade was jealous of him as <> as if such were the case.

I am happy and I trust thankful that we are dealing with men now who are <superior> to petty jealousy and have motives higher even than self-aggrandizement.

Poor dear Ella working so hard! I wish she had some or one of these dozens of negro women who have followed us from East Tennessee and now neither know what to do nor do we know what to do with them. I did not tell you about eighteen (18) negroes whom I captured and confiscated from a Rebel who was trying to carry them off South and had already got some hundred miles on the route according to a statement I saw in a Rebel paper of the sale of a lot of negroes about that time. These “chattels” were worth on an average $3,000 apiece. So I “bust up” $54,000 worth of humanity for that Slave-driver. I sent them all to Chattanooga. It was while we were at Parker’s Gap Georgia.

So glad that little David [Rowland & Ella’s oldest child, David Patten Howard] remembers me – his “uncle Charley”. All I can say is that I believe much prayer both the best remedy for the father’s anxiety and the most effective means of securing God’s blessing upon the father’s efforts in training his little boy – without which blessing all effort will be vain. This may seem only the Commonest thought but it is one that does me good even to repeat. I liked the President’s brief address at the Gettysburg Consecration – also the prayer.

Seward’s short speech though egotistic has good sound doctrine and well put. You somewhat disgusted me about Everett’s oration and besides I have had no time to read till today. So I have not yet finished it. I did have another copy which I gave to (a) Miss (of) Sweetwater. The account of the battles of Gen. Grant in the Gazette I sent you is full of errors. I wrote an acct which I will enclose and which I would like for Mother to see. I regard it as extremely plain and inornate.

Your last letter of Dec. 6th I found waiting us here. Otis & I enjoyed it much. The day it was written however when you supposed we “must be back about Chattanooga” we were at Knoxville. We were amused at your expression Meade’s “faint”. Don’t despond! Old unconditional Grant has I trust been chosen of God and by the Divine blessing will sooner as like prove the downfall of this causeless yet inevitable Rebellion. You are probably correct in your <estimate> of the humility of our people. Can they ever learn it?

Late, Late. Affectionately C. H. Howard

Charles Henry Howard to his brother Rowland Bailey Howard [Charles Henry Howard Collection] 

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