August 19, 1863

Camp 20th Maine Vols., Beverly Ford

Dear Brother:

I am going to write just at bit even if it is late. I have been very busy today making reports, inspecting guard pickets etc. but now that the business of the day is past I will just employ the writing of the pen to transfer me to Topsham a moment. I would much rather be there in person. Without the aid of the pen, wouldn’t I appreciate it a little!! “I recall” … the social in the sitting room. Mother at her usual work – Father looking up from his paper – so pleasantly – to enter into the conversation. – and uncle in his accustomed place ready to add to the entertainment of the evening either by listening or joining in the conversation.

Holman Melcher to his brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

July 3, 1863

Camp 20th Me. near Warrenton Pa.

My dear friends at Home—

Again have I recd a kind letter from home of the date [illeg. paragraph]

We are leaving quite [illeg. word] now, but I expect that we shall move again [illeg. phrase].  It is cloudy today [illeg. passage].  … Corps lost so many horses.  The army had to stop & rest a while [illeg. phrase] up its horses if nothing more & besides the men were getting raggedy everything needed rest, sweet rest.  [illeg. passage]  on the field of battle; I do not know but what you will think it is strange there can be a glimmer of peace[?] amidst such scenes but there nevertheless is; as only after a day of conflict & excitement as we lay ourselves down on the ground, with perhaps a stone for a pillow, & when all is still, & we look up to Heaven & thank our Heavenly Father that our lives have been spared; this then that a feeling of peace steals over us … when we are in camp for a few days … a neighboring Band strikes up in strains of sweet music, first some National Air, then some lively tune, & again some soft melodious strains, ‘tis then that a feeling of peace steals over us … when the Cannon is booming, in the fierceness of battle we can look for peace, for peace can only come to our beni[gh]ted country through these, & these alone. Continue reading

June 12, 1863

Camp at Ellis’ Ford Va.

My Dear Brother:

After having received my letter (No 20) that was written in such a fright you may think that there was some cause for fear of the Rebel bullets and or to allay any such I will write you this evening. Here have we this learned of all the moves that have taken place at Fredericksburg, Bealeton, Kelly’s Ford so that it will be of no interest for us to repeat them… […]

Holman Melcher to brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

June 6, 1863

Camp 20th Maine Vols. Ellis’ Ford Va.

Dear Brother N.

We are having a taste of a soldier’s life just now. We were at U.S. Ford when I last wrote you if I remember correctly. We have had so much changing about of late that I have almost lost my recurring of letters and time — we remained at the ford doing picket duty till Thursday 4th and then received orders to move and down came our tents which we had got so nicely changed and off we started up the river on the [illegible] road.

Remained for the night in a grass field and in the morning came to our present camp distant from U.S. Ford about 14 miles. Are now encamped in a beautiful camp needs on dry ground and good water near – are about 1/4 mile from the river. […]

Holman Melcher to brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

April 27, 1863

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.


Holman Melcher to brother, Nathaniel Melcher [Holman Melcher Papers]

April 13, 1863

14Monday.  The Laurel Hill ran in to the landing, & skirmishers were sent out, who soon fell in with the enemy, & we then first heard the crack of rebel muskets.

From our boat there seemed to be a pretty sharp skirmish going on, but as we were a mile distant, could not see much but the smoke of the guns.

Our big guns soon sent some dozen shells into the woods to the N. of the landing where the Laurel Hill was lying, & seen the firing on shore ceased.  Probably there was only a small force of rebels.

We landed about 8 A.M.  My Co. the first of our Reg. to go ashore (only the 7 right Cos. Having come from Brashear City)—we soon marched up through a rough road through the woods & cane brakes, to a plantation about a mile from where we landed.  Continue reading

April 2, 1863


Turned out & got breakfast before daylight.  Our boys had dug a “bean hole” before night, & for breakfast had a fine lot of baked beans.  Started at 7 & marched down through the same rich country that we have been passing through for two days.  Reached Thibodaux, quite a pretty village, about noon, but made no stop there.  Saw huge piles of baggage that had been landed from the steamer.  Kept on to the R. R. Station, three miles distant, & camped in a field a little to the south of it.  This was the hardest day’s march of the three, & several of my Co. dropped behind & sat down by the woodside between Thibodaux & the camping ground.  I could not blame them, for we were hurried along at an unreasonable pace.  The last four miles I carried the knapsack of one of my men, & the last two miles the gun of another.  I was glad when we got the order to halt, though I could have gone further without giving out!  I went & had a pretty thorough wash, & felt better for it.  My feet have stood this three days march wonderfully—have not raised a blister or chafed the skin in a single place, while many of the men have very large blisters on the bottoms of their feet that give them great trouble & pain.  Sergt. North has gone very lame today, tho’ he never complains.

About sunset we had orders to pack up & be ready to take the [railroad] cars in ten minutes!  We struck & rolled up tents, & got ready to go, but were at last ordered to pitch them again to start at 6 in the morning.

Had a good nights sleep, but the men got up rather tender footed, and went limping about camp as they have not been obliged to do before.

Diary of Isaac Winslow Case [Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection]