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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fort Lincoln Continued...

At the point I left off yesterday, Philip was ready to lead a charge on the enemy.  His letter continued:

"other Sergeants done the same & the whole Regt has about all offered to go but we want fair play & there won't be but 25 allowed out of a company but I am afraid that we won't get the chance ~ we do not know how long we shall stay here ~ we expected to go right south but they Stationed us here & wanted us to go to Harpers Ferry where I hope they will station us though I like it here first Rate. 5 of us tents together viz (sic) the 2nd & 5th Sergeant & the 3rd Corporal & O.L Parsons ~ we shall do our own cooking after this"

That statement was a telling one because he goes on to share how inadequate their food supply was:

"We hae (sic) had nothing to eat execpt at Albany N.Y. [.] Philadelphia [.] Baltimore & Washington ~ 6 meals since last Saturday 11 o'clock [.]"

This was a little under two weeks time.  Only six meals given during that time period.

"We bought some things on the way until we arrived at Baltimore ~ after that it was not Safe to buy anything to put in our mouths ~ my duties all the whole march were to see that no unripe fruits Pies & everything that was unhealthy was not sold along the line of our company & a hard job I had too ~ it was hard to keep our boys[s] from Eating anything they were so hungry [.] Yesterday they had a fight at Chain bridge 19 miles from here ~ we distinctly heard the firing ~ I tell you it was something new to us ~ this morning we have heard firing south of us but I guess it must be the Practicing from the Forts for Washington is completely surrounded by Forts. We are in sight of Fort Massachusetts where George was"  (His brother George A. Woodcock) "it is about a mile & one half from here ~ I saw it this morning. I tell you the country looks hard here ~ it is nothing but bad & Yellow Soil & niggers (sic) ~ I don't blame Geo for not liking them ("them" being the Confederate army) ~ I have not seen much of Slavery & I do not want to ~ I have seen the Results & that is enough."

Philip continued his letter of September 4th 1862 with his first-hand account of slavery and the treatment of the men captured by the Rebs.  During this time period, Washington, DC is in turmoil.  The Confederate Army has positioned itself in Frederick, MD.  General Lee has made his move towards Maryland in the days preceding.  Philip goes on to tell Roby about his encounter previously in Baltimore on the march down to Washington D.C.:

"In Baltimore I saw 9 Slaves arrested who had run away & they supposed they had almost got away safe ~ it was tough I tell you to see them marched off so ~ one of them [,] a man of some considerable intelligence as soon as he saw the Soldiers & there were three Regts of us [,] he cried like a baby & cried out ' save us, Save us'. ~ it was hard for 3000 men to stand there & see those slaves marched by the whole of us by those who follow the business of Slave auctioning ~ there was not 25 men but what would have cleaned the whole City if the word had been given us" ~ 

Willing to fight, unable to due to orders.  He finishes his first letter with:

"We expect the President & Gen McClellan to visit us in a few days ~ We have just received orders that tomorrow morning every man must have his Gun loaded & inspected ready for action in Expectation of attack ~ if this order is not done just to get the men used to such things ~ it is pretty evident that we shall soon see service ~ we are ready though we have never drilled a minute with musket ~ but I don't think it will amount to any thing though they are expecting a heavy attack on the City but there are so many thousands of Troops around it & a rebel could not live long here ~ but I must close ~ I want you to write to me by return of mail for I am anxious to hear from you & baby & I want to hear where Geo {is} now I am agoing to write to him but I don't know where he is but I hope he is safe ~ now write immediately & all the news.  If I had more room I would write more but I shall write again soon [.]

                                                    Direct to P.R. Woodcock
                                                    Co. E 121st Regt NYSV
                                                    Washington D C
                                                    Care Capt Campbell

Love me as ever ~ good bye"

Come back tomorrow for Army of Potomac, Sept 9, 1862.

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