August 6, 1863

Aug. 6th.  Well the mail came in last night & nothing from you, so I will finish this & send it out by the morning mail.  We are going to draw soft bread today, which will be a very acceptable change.  We have got one of the best company grounds that I ever saw, espetially [sic] the Collor [sic] Guard & Head Quarters; it is right on a little knoll with second growth of hard pine, just thin enough to make it a cool & shady place.  It is almost too good a place, & we are in hot water all of the time for fear that we shall hear that old bugle sound the call to strike tents.

There is a detail of 100 men from the regt now doing guard & fatigue duty on the Orange & Alexandria R.R.  It is the same with all of the regt in this brigade.

And now, Brother, I wish to make a proposition; hereafter I am going to write to you  regularly once a fortnight.  I want you to do the same by me.  I will not write any more now.  You see what a blunder I made on the 2nd page, it is something I never [have] done before; and you must excuse it because it was your Brother E. C.

Elisha Coan to his brother [Elisha Coan Collection]

August 5, 1863

Camp 20th Me, near Pa

My Dear Brother:

I have waited long enough for a letter from you, I am going to write myself: – we moved from camp near [Warren] day before yesterday and here we are in camp to remain until the first of September to recruit up and wait for “Conscripts;” there has I commissioner officers if men gone from each regt in this corp; and we shall expect that soon.

There is not much going on now of interest; it is very hot weather now, and a thundershower everyday; if you would like cool and shady place, it is almost too good a place and we are in hot water all of the time for fear that we shall hear that old bugle sound the call to “strike tents.” […]

Elisha Coan to his brother [Elisha Coan Collection]

May 26, 1863

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, near Brooke’s Station.

Dearest: I received a letter from you Sunday afternoon, and felt sorry indeed that seeing your friends had proved so bad for you, but I hope after a little quiet you and yourself again.  I am not so sure that my coming might not excite you even though I belong there.  I do not think I can go home now.  I will tell you my reasons.  My Corps did not do very well at Chancellorsville.  Now everybody who is to blame tries to shift the responsibility upon somebody’s elses shoulders.  The Germans and the Americans are many of them against me.  It was my first trial with them.  Now I must drill & discipline my command & get it in hand.  I must work to get good officers in the command of Brigade and regiments.  I must be here to head off wire-pullers.  I want the command to learn me and I wish to learn it.  Again I rather apprehend an attack here, after the affair at Vicksburg which is so disastrous to the rebels.  They will try some game to retrieve their hopes.  Most probably will accumulate a very large force against Rosencrantz.  In that case we should not be attacked, but perhaps now something desperate will be attempted and Lee will cross above us & attack us hoping to crush this army now that we have lost so many two years & nine month regiments. … I am under a little cloud, tenderly excused but yet unsuccessful, and I have not been accustomed to succumb under difficulties. …

Oliver Otis Howard to his wife, Ann Waite [Oliver Otis Howard Papers]

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 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 27, 1863

Hdqrs. 2nd. Divn.
Near Falmouth Va
Mar. 27 1863

My dear Mother,

The last I heard from you was by letter from Rowland which you were at his house for one night.

It is a beautiful day – warm as any day in May. I hear a bird merrily singing. All the staff are away at Gen. Birney’s Divn. attending a hurdle race &c to which we were all invited. Otis is here & as I am Acting Adjutant General I remained behind. Besides I did not care much to go since I did not enjoy the similar celebration of St. Patrick’s day in the Irish Brigade. Too many got drunk and there were some accidents. I would like, however, to take a lively ride in this pure air. I sit at my desk with the door of the tent open –

just returned from dinner. Gen. Hancock was over this forenoon & called on Otis. He says that Gen. Hooker told him that Gen. Howard was to have the 11th Corps (Siegels) but Otis learned at Hd Qrs. yesterday that Gen. Hooker had sent a paper to Washington asking either that Gen. Siegel be ordered back (he is away on leave) or that there be a vacancy declared to which he could appoint the General he wished. He will undoubtedly appoint Otis if Siegel does not come back.

No leaves extend over April 1st now – so I suppose we will move soon after that date. Did you enjoy Otis’ visit? […]

Your affectionate Son,
C.H. Howard
P.S. Major Whittlesey has just this moment arrived – well!!

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