The letters and diaries of Lieutenant Philip R. Woodcock
121st Regiment, New York State Infantry
"Upton's Regulars"
September 4, 1862-November 9, 1865

Friday, October 27, 2017

Love from the Trenches

" is but a simple tribute to one I love..."

When I started this journey with my blog, I had the intention of uncovering not only the history of this time but the emotions.  Many of Philip's letters revealed not only his longing for home and family but of his deep love for Roby.  I titled this series "My Dearest Roby" simply because she was that to him and so much more.  

This next group of letters express that undying love and it starts with an official "Soldiers' Memento" at the top of which Philip has written:

"Gen Joseph E. Hookers"....Army for the Union, Sixth Corps, first Division" 

(for more information on Major General Hooker )

Check in again to read the letter next time....

Preparing to March

"...I don't know when our point of attack will be..."

I'm back and on to the second half of Philip's letter of April 14th.  He continued his letter at 7pm...prepping for battle:

"7 oclock P M Apr 14 ~1863

I have dealt out 8 days rations which makes the boys grumble a good deal for they used to think that 8 days were killing them off but we have to put 5 days in our knapsacks that is what made us throw away our clothing but I boxed mine up and shall leave it in the street with some others and maybe they will take care off it but it is getting late and I have some other letters to write(.)  I will have to close I dont know when our point of attack will be but one days march will bring us right in the midst of the Rebs unless we go up to Culpper  Culpepper and Gordonsville then (?)

it will be 3 early (could say "only") days(.)  (O)ur Cavalry went yesterday and some troops have moved tonight ~ I shall try and write you again before we come into action but if I should not, you be prepared for anything because before next Saturday might a good many of us will be sleeping one last sleep in Virginia ~ but through the mercy of God I hope to come through safe(.)  I know I had not ought to write to you of what may be but I cant help it(.)  I wish just as I feel but I must close(.) I will write again the first opportunity ~ May God bless you write soon my Dear Roby if I fall meet me where we shall be eternally happy(.)  Pray for me(.)  Kiss Georgie for me once more my darling wife(.)  Good bye  God bless you

Yours Ever True husband  P R Woodcock

Philip's heartfelt words at the end of the letter haunt me from the past: 

"I know I had not ought to write to you of what may be...."

"If I fall, meet me where we shall be eternally happy..."

"Good bye.  God Bless You."

Philip did make it home...but it was a long two years later...

Until next time ~  thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I'm Back and it's 1863 again!

"I of course was glad to hear from you again..."

I'm finally back at it!  I'm sorry it's been a long break between entries but I'm giving the project a go again~ hope you're still with me!

We pick up in the spring of 1863 at Philip's camp near White Oak Church.  He has just received a letter from Roby and is responding to her on April 14th.  It's his usual 4 page letter with a post script written upside-down.  Enjoy!

"Camp near White Oak Church
Apr 14th 1863

My Dearest Wife

I received your kind and welcome letter 2 or 3 days ago and I of course was glad to hear from you again ~ We are all well as usual and feeling good(,) the weather is splendid and been for some days it has been like summer ~
Well Roby at last we have got marching orders(.) We start tomorrow morning with but as little clothing as we can possibly get along with and 8 days Rations and 60 rounds ammunition which makes us all shudder but after all we cant say we are sorry to go we have laid still long enough but one day will bring us into a fight and it will be no small affair either(.)  I never saw such tremendous preperations (sic) before(.)  Old Hooker if we drive them will not give them the first chance he is bound to show no mercy he will fight in earnest --- There is no particular news to write ~ George and Wm Parsons was over to see me again (a word is scratched out here, but is illegible) Saturday and had a good time(.)  I was a agoing (sic) over there to day but it has been stopped he is well I heard from him yesterday though he dreads the march ~ but we hope this will be the Last Campaign and that it will close the war but God only knows ~ "

Of course, that was not the last campaign for the war had only begun in earnest at that point.  Little did Philip know he had two long years ahead of him...

"I wrote to Willie Fitch again this morning I got one from him a day or two ago ~ We all have to wear a badge on our caps to distinguish our caps from another so if we get killed or wounded they can take us to our own hospital(.)  Our Corps the 6th is a blood red cross(,) the 1st Corps is a red circle the size of a penny(.)

I shall not be home now
untill after the fight if I live through it(.)  I have been very busy all morning getting ready I have made a pocket in my jacket to carry my Bible in which I carry yours and Georgies Likeness so if I get wounded and I lose my Knapsack I have yours likenesses with me~~

I have throwed away about 25 dollars worth of clothing this morning but maybe I shall get it again but I must close this I have a good deal to do yet..."

Prepping for battle yet again after a long, boring winter...

The letter continues at 7 o'clock his time but that will have to wait for my next post!

Keep checking and I promise to get back up to speed with the writing!

Until next time....

Saturday, June 11, 2016

This Project is Larger Than Life...

"I had a narrow escape this morning by a shot..."

My personal, comfortable, 2016 life has nothing to compare with that statement above.  I realize I'm moving slowly on this project, but with each reading of letters, I am so taken in by his words that it takes me awhile to get through them.  I decided to post a few pictures of just exactly how much I've got to go through--

1864 Letters

Some of May 1863 Letters

My working file of 1863 letters

...numerous three-ring binders full of Philip's letters (copies of course, the originals are being kept in a safe deposit box, climate controlled to keep them in good shape!)

Every time I go to the next letter, this 
is what I face! There is another large binder with 1865's letters and numerous folders with his roll call diaries and personal diaries.  Philip was a prolific writer!  The excerpt above was taken from his letter of May 2, 1863 written on the battlefield in Fredricksburg, VA.  He is "under arms" and entrenched, but still wrote to Roby.  Fearing he might not make it through, he signs it:  "Hoping I shall live through it I bid you good Bye.  God bless and keep you one kiss for you and Georgie.  Yours ever Love, P.R. Woodcock"
May 1863 and some diaries

Philip's Diary (one of about 5 or 6)

Keep joining me for this writing journey!

See you next time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finishing What I Started

I definitely have a problem with finishing up projects ~ uncompleted crafts, household chores and repairs, gardening, music...I could go on.  That being said, I'm finally sitting down to finish up Philip's letter from April 6/7, 1863.  Hope you enjoyed the picture of Roby I posted previously!

And now, the continuation:

"I wrote a letter to Wm Fitch to day (sic) Why dont Sarah and Father write to me (?) I only get letters from you so I guess you are the only one that thinks anything of me and that is one great consolation to a soldier to know that he has a loving wife at home and a boy who would love him if he knew anything of him ~I wonder if he realizes that he has a papa any other than the one that is shut up in the drawer."

How poignant that is...then he goes on to talk about a special visitor:

" The weather has been fine today. We had battalion Drill this afternoon While we were on picket our Division was reviewed by Gen Hooker and tomorrow we are to have another one and by no less a personage than the President of the UStates.  Old Abe, and you may believe we are agoing to have a great time too(,) we are anxious to have a sight of him again. He went up in a baloon near us to day and took a good view of the Rebs but I must close"

And various afterthoughts:

"  I think I shall write to J.D. Peck to night..."
" Frank Ray was over to see me to day..."
"I heard that Jim Van Horne had  been discharged but Phil was coming up with the Regt"

Continuing on:

"We have a new order to day Every man has to shave his whiskers off but have a moustache (sic) if he has none, cultivate one, I think we shall have a battle here soon though if our corps lies here we shall not be engaged in it directly but I guess we shall have our hands full for while the rest of the Army goes up the River and attacks the Enemy, Right and Rear we will have to defend our present position at all hazards and perhaps attack them in their present front ~ but time will soon tell but I must close.  Write soon as you get this write often Love me as ever Kiss little Georgie Remember me to [Ward or Mark] way tell him to write &c Remember me to all so good bye for this time

From PR Woodcock  "

That's the end of that letter!  Onto the next~ thanks for being a patient reader.

See you next time!



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dearest Roby Revealed

I've a new account on and upon digging through, found a picture of my great great grandmother, none other than Roby Jane Pierce Woodcock who this entire blog is devoted to!  What a find!  I was tickled to see my grandmother's handwriting on the bottom of it also...she was the true historian in the family.  I'm thankful to her for keeping all of these letters and pictures through the years...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

153 years ago today...

"...however much I think of rank and promotion I think more of my family..."

I'm back.  Fittingly enough, I'm entering Philip's letter from April 6, 1863 today.  I'm hopeful that I can finish out the year of 1863 matching our own calendar.  Then it's off to the publisher!  (I hope!)

Philip was still encamped near White Oak Church and although hearing fighting in the distance, he and his troops were told to wait.  He sounds homesick and wistful in this letter and writes of his fear that his little boy George might not even know him.  Please read on...

"Camp near White Oak Church
April  7 6 ~ 1863

My Dearest Wife

I sit down with pleasure to write you again I received yours of the 25 th last  last night and was certainly expecting you would look for me last week but I have got good news to tell you, our Corps is a going to remain here where it is and they have resumed giving furloughs and I shall get home now in a few days.  I hope so at least for I was badly disappointed from  when the order came the other day stopping the furloughs ~ I can now see my Little Wife and darling boy.  I can hardly wait untill the time comes ~ would you like to see me [?] If not I will stay if it was not for you and my little boy I believe I would join the regular service and always be a Soldier but I would not leave you for all the honor and glory a soldier can possibly obtain but however much I think of rank and promotion I think more of my family..."

That paragraph which is actually the entire first page of the letter just broke my heart.  How tough it must have been to be so far from home, never knowing if your spouse would even welcome you back there?  

" We have been off on Picket Duty 3 days again just returned in time for we had yesterday a heavy snow storm but it is going off fast it has been so warm here some days that you could almost see grass grow.  Trees are budding and leaving out ~ I have been out drilling some men this morning that have been sick and had forgot the Manual of Arms ~ it is too bad that I lost my money, I worked too hard for that ~ [not sure what that is about as there is no more mention of it] About 2000 Cavalry passed here on a reconnaissance across the river about 3 hours ago and I see that they have got themselves into a mess for they are fighting terribly about 4 miles from here but I guess they will get out of it without our help, we cannot see them but we can hear it plain enough ~ I dont know the reason of our Army Corps remaining here but I believe it is agoing to the 1st Corps ~ the one George is in I heard had gone up the river and was already across with Gen Slocums forces how true it is I dont know but I earnestly hope this will be the death blow of the Rebellion ~ Sergt Armstrong and I was going to the 76th today but we heard they had moved so we gave it up ~ "

I'll stop there for today.  This letter was actually dated April 7th, then the date was crossed through and the 6th was written over it so I'll continue tomorrow!

Please join me again!