June 3, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps
Near Brooke Station VA,

My dear brother,

We were glad to get your letter directed to Otis, but intended for me I thought.

Tonight it is quite cool and comfortable. I hear the bands playing in almost every direction and if I could lose the consciousnous that we were in the midst of hideous war (as I often do) it would be quite pleasant. You speak of your future occupation. I see no opening in the Army for you but something may yet “turn up”.

Otis wrote in answer to some private catechisms on the subject – that he thought his duty lay in the Field and that some one else better be selected as the nominee for Governor. You were wise not to give any opinion as to his accepting.

I hear you sustained the Senior dignity while at Bath.

We move our Hd. qrs tomorrow into the woods not more than 1/4 mile from here. […]

Charles Henry Howard to Rodelphus Gilmore [Charles Henry Howard Collection]

May 17, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps

My dear Mother,

It has been a warm pleasant day. We have had services at out Hd. qrs., as usual. The Band of the 33d Mass which plays so beautifully was in attendance. Rev. Mr. Warren of the Christian Commission officiated who has been laboring in the hospitals many of which – in fact all the General Hospitals of the Army – are located in this vicinity. The General Hospitals have all the worst cases of sick and all the wounded except such as have been conveyed to Washington – farther North. They consist of a large encampment (like a brigade) for a Corps. The Hospital tents are some 20 by 12 feet or perhaps larger.
These in this vicinity look very neat & comfortable. Otis intends visiting our Corps hospital this P.M.

We had the great rarity of two ladies at services and at dinner today. Mrs. Genl. Barlow and Mrs Parker wife of Lieut. Parker of the Regular Army. Mrs. Parker was an acquaintance of Mrs. Barlow – and stays with Mrs B in a house not far from here although Lt. Parker belongs to another Divn. & another Corps. He gets Leave to visit his wife often now that we are doing but little. I think you will remember Gen. Barlow who now commands one of our Brigades and was formerly Colonel of my Regiment, 61st N.Y. –
was with us at Fair Oaks. He is a brave & good officer. Mrs. B. is a very smart woman. She reached the Antietam battle field, the next day after the fight and was in time to take care of her husband who was wounded very severely. […]

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


May 8, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps
Near Brook’s Station, Va.,

My dear brother,

You must be aware that for the past week I have had no opportunity to write. Since the furious attack upon our Corps which began about 5 o’clock on Saturday neither my outward circumstances nor my feelings were favorable to letter writing. Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday we were more or less under fire. On Tuesday the Rebels showed a special design upon Otis. Finally shot Col Meysenburg’s horse under him as he was by the General’s side. After that Otis consented to go on foot when on the front and in certain range of the enemy’s rifles.

Sunday, Monday & Tuesday until 3 o’clock Wed. morning we held the left with Gen. Slocum who was upon the extreme left. We were behind rifle pits but all the time expecting an attack and several times during night & day our Pickets were driven in. Continue reading

May 4, 1863

Hd. Qrs. 11th Corps

Dear Mother

It is after dark and I have no candle but I will write you a little in the dark. In the terrible battle yesterday although we were often exposed to shot and shell yet our troops were not actually engaged. Our troops did not behave well yesterday & we were badly driven. My tentmate and fellow aide Capt Dessars was killed. Col. Miles was badly wounded. Last night we wakened several times by attacks upon our lines. By the guns we knew yesterday that Sedgwick was fighting near Fredericksburg. We heard the roar today and tomorrow will march to his relief, though we got pretty severely handled in yesterday’s & Saturdays battle.

The Lord is our trusted guide.

I hope the Rebels will let us sleep tonight. I was awakened hrs before now by a tremendous firing on our right. So you see we sleep daytime.

We are behind rifle pits and could hold them against any force – if the troops will stand. You cannot tell how badly Otis felt so see them run away. A force seemed to seize them. Two German Regiments, first on our right which Jackson turned. We think this will be the death blow to Rebellion.

Your loving son,
C. H. Howard

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

April 26, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps
Near Brooks Station Va.,

My dear Mother,

It is a bright warm afternoon and now the moon has changed we anticipate fair weather for some time.

We had our Religious services this morning, conducted by Rev. Mr. Johnson Congregationalist of Bangor. Maj. Whittlesey had known him before. He is simply on a visit to the army. I have written to Rowland today. Got a letter from him & Ella yesterday. We were rejoiced to hear of Everett Bridgham’s [a first cousin] conversion. Poor Aunt Aurelia [the sister of Charles’ father Rowland and the mother of Everett] is very sick he writes. And Jane Bates has passed away from earth. We can hardly realize that Jane will not meet us with her cheerful face whenever we go home again to our good old neighborhood.

But the future life was very real to Jane. Her friends left behind are the only sufferers. God grant them the consolations of His infinite word – and that they all may be ready to go & join Jane when the summons comes. I desire to be ready. I know not as we are in the midst of any more uncertainty than you but it often seems so.

We search tomorrow morning for the upper Rappahannock – not so much as this has been revealed but I judge from indications unmistaken to me. The 12th Corps is also expected to march. How much more I do not know.

The Fast-day is nearing & I do hope for if not resulting from the united cry of many hearts. We will carry the works with the faith & prayers and perhaps God will this time bless us. At any rate in his own good time his Kingdom shall triumph & I cannot be too bitterly disappointed with this pure hope ever present.

Otis & I are perfectly well. The promotions (it is announced by telegraph) have been made. So I will have to exchange the title of Captain which I have held less than a month for that of Major. But this is of very little moment to me. Pray that I may always have a willing mind and grace needed for every duty.

Your Very Affectionate Son
C. H. Howard

P.S. Remember me kindly to Isabella & brother if you see them.

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

April 6, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps
Stafford Court House

My dear Mother,

I believe I have not written you a letter since we came to this Corps.

I have just returned from a Review of all the Cavalry of the army by the President. This morning at 9 we started. Otis & all his Divn. Generals with their various staffs. We rode to Gen Hookers Hd. qrs. about 7 miles and these called on the President – and at 12 we all went out to the Review. It was exceedingly muddy. The day was cloudy – Saturday night we had a snow storm! And though the snow is almost all gone yet it made it very muddy. The cavalry was draw up in lines a mile long and we had a very tiresome ride in reviewing. The Pres. rode with Gen. Hooker. His little boy rode on a pony by his side. The Generals present rode next & then their staffs – which made a big battalion. Afterwards, as always in a Review, the Pres. took a station & all the Cavalry & light artillery passed him in platoons or companies. It took a full hour for it all to pass in this manner. We rode to Gen. Hooker’s Hd. Qrs. again & the Generals gave their staffs permission to go home while they went to dine with the Pres. & Gen Hooker. Mrs. Lincoln was at the Review in a covered carriage. Attorney Gen’l. Bates was with her. He is an old man, with hair very grey. Continue reading

April 1, 1863

Hdqrs 11th Corps
Stafford Court House

My dear brother, [Rowland B. Howard]
in accordance with an order rec’d yesterday assigning Otis temporarily to the command of the 11th Corps – we left Hd. Qrs. 2nd Divn. Right after Breakfast this morning and rode over here about 10 miles.Had to search somewhat to find the place. Found Gen. Carl Shurz in command. Hd. Qrs. At a house. He was very gentlemanly – is tall, full broad forehead – curly brown hair – reddish whiskers – wears spectacles & gives the impression of being a man of ability as he undoubtedly is. It is a bright moonlight night. Last night the whole army were April-fooled to say the least and I got scarcely any sleep. Had to get up to carry orders between 2 & 3 A.M. Had not been in bed an hour when wakened. It was said (telegraphed from Gen. Hd. Qrs) that the report had come from Sickle’s Pickets that the enemy were advancing on the Archwood road.

It now proves to be all a fiction but I am very tired & could not write a decent letter. Have ridden nearly all day. Gen. Shurz rode to all the Divn’s with us. He returns to his Divn for the present – Steinwehr has the 2nd – McLean the 1st. This last has two thirds American Regiments I believe. Every body at these Hd. Qrs (nearly) speaks German. Carl Shurz speaks German, French & English equally well. Otis is in the house – Stinson & I in tent. Leaves are granted again so we will not move at present.

Goodnight – I am ready to fall asleep.

Charles Henry Howard to his brother, Rowald Bailey Howard [Charles Henry Howard Collection]

March 31, 1863

Hdqrs. 2nd Divn. 2nd Corps
Near Falmouth Va.

Dear Mother,
This is probably the last letter I shall date at these Hd. qrs. The order assigning Otis to the 11th Corps (Siegel’s) temporarily arrived this afternoon and we will take our departure for Brook’s Station tomorrow morning near which is the 11th Corps – about 6 miles to the rear of this place. One of the General of Divisions is the celebrated Carl Shurz orator and warm patriot & it is said a very gentlemanly man. Steinwehr is another and McLean the third.

Your letter came the day I wrote my other, and today another from you arrived just after the order. This contained the photograph which no one here thinks as good as the one I had taken in Philada.

Continue reading

March 4, 1863

Studio Building No B
Tenth Street, New York

My dear Mother,

I am expecting Otis back tomorrow morning when I will join him and we will try & reach the army by Saturday.

Last Thursday I went up to West Point & came back Monday P.M. Enjoyed visiting my old friends there much. The day I returned I called over to Brooklyn and saw Mrs. Perry Lee and engaged to attend her cousin’s wedding with her the next day.

It was a gay time and I saw there H.W. Beecher, Mrs General Fremont & other distingue’s.

The bride was Miss Sarah Dwight. The bridegroom was Capt. Raymund of Gen. Fremont’s staff. I also met Capt Jack Howard of their staff. He is from Brooklyn originally.

Continue reading

February 19, 1863

2-19 letterHeadquarters 2nd Divn near Falmouth, Va.

My dear mother:

After a hard rain all day yesterday and last night, we have a cessation this morning and some indication of fair weather again.

I scarcely went out of my tent, at most only into the neighboring ones here at Hd. qrs.  I have not been upon my horse since last Saturday night when I returned with Mr. Stinson, as I think I wrote you, from a visit to the left of the Army and the 5th Maine.

Otis asked me this morning whether I would not like to go with him to Philadelphia as he intends to take a Leave on ten days soon.  I told him I would be compelled to get some clothes if I did so and that perhaps I had better not go.  He said I could go if I chose and I will consider the matter meanwhile. Continue reading