October 19, 1863

Bridgeport, Ala.


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 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