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

Monday, June 30, 2014

The March North to Gettysburg

"I am almost home again..."

Hope you've had a restful weekend.  This week I'm fast-forwarding to the week building up to the Battle of Gettysburg which was fought 151 years ago, July 1-3, 1863. (There were numerous celebrations  commemorating it last year, I invite you to look them up).  

Philip was on the march northward on July 1, 1863 and stopped to write Roby:

"On the march northward July 1st 1863
        Maryland

My Dear Wife

Thinking you perhaps might like to hear what part of the United States I was in I write you though I don't know when I can send it ~ we are now only 4 miles from the Pennsylvania Line ~ 8 miles north of Westminster & 2 miles from Manchester which places you will find on the map so you see (I am almost home again)
Well now for a short account of our march -- We broke camp at Fairfax Va on Friday morning 4 o'clock June 26th 1863 and marched that day as rear  guard with or behind the baggage wagons in a north westerly direction & made 15 miles by 4 o'clock P.M. ~ we passed through Drainesville & encamped for the night 3 miles north ~ it was pretty muddy and very hard marching & you better believe we were tired ~ it showered a good deal during the day ~ we got a good many ripe Cherries that day ~ The next day we started at 1/2 past 5 A.M. & took it a little easier ~ got to the Potomac At Edwards Ferry ~ got there at 2 o'clock P.M. ~ stopped and made Coffee & had a good long rest ~ the Rebs were close behind us ~ that day we passed through a good section of country ~ the best part of Virginia ~ we Crossed over the River on Pontoons Bridges & put our feet on our own Soil again ~ you better believe we was glad to get into Maryland again ~ it was like home to us ~ we had got sick of Virginia ~ we encamped that night in a meadow and had a good soft Bed ~ The Sugar Loaf Mountain where we went last summer was in sight ~ we rested good that night be we was awfull hungry ~ The next morning we started 4 o'clock & passed through Poolsville and so on to the mountains & then struck the old Road that we traveled last Fall when we first came out ~ everything looked as natural as could be ~
we also passed through Barnesville and rested there 2 hours & made coffee ~ we then went on a piece but the Guerillas was following us up so close that we stopped and let all the teams & Artillery go ahead ~ we did not stop untill night ~ we encamped near a meadow where they was haying ~ we went in and got hay to lay on [.] I confiscated a lot of Tobacco here ~ it was in the Leaf & pretty green ~ we was pretty tired that night & I had to get up in the night to draw rations & I did not get much rest ~ we did not pitch tents and it rained a little ~ we found lots of nice ripe cherries ~ The next day the 29th we had the hardest march of any ~ we made 28 miles ~ it was a little rainy ~ we started at 1/2 past 4 and passed through Monrovia on the Baltimore & Ohio R.R. a very patriotic place [.] The inhabitants all seemed glad to see us & very kind ~ they gave all their eatables away & was sorry they had no more...."


Thank you people of Monrovia all those years ago for your kindness to Philip and the boys...

Tomorrow the rest of the letter and some poetry!

Hope to see you then!


Friday, June 27, 2014

No Coward Here

"..it never shall be said that I was found skulking.."

Being fairly new and still on the march, Philip drew guard duty many times. The night of the 25th of October was one of which he wrote Roby a lengthy letter which spanned several days.  His paper had an engraved letterhead with a caption that read: "Great Naval Engagement off Fort Jackson".  His letter of the 25th:

                                            Dam no 4 Picket Stop [or Station?]
                                                              Oct 25 1862

My Dearest Wife

As I will not have time to write this letter in the morning I will commence now ~ it is precisely 1/2 past 3 [a.m.] I have been up all night & now my fire is bright enough to see to write ~ I have not been relieved yet no won't be probably untill we go back to camp which will be in the forenoon some time probably ~ It is now Saturday again & it seems as if this week had passed away very quick [.] Time passes very fast to us now ~ it is a little over 3 months since I enlisted & I do not know just how long since I have seen you[.] I did not keep track of the time [.] Our boys took 2 Rebels prisoners yesterday ~ both gave themselves up [.] The Rumor is here that the body of the Enemys troops were falling back upon Winchester ~ as we were making our Rounds last night we saw some of the most curious Signal Lights you could imagine [.] I do not know what McClellan intends doing with us but we are under strict marching orders [.] We expect to go through Virginia every day & how I do dread that march too ~ we have an awful heavy load to carry & it is a poor Country to march in ~ water is poor & Scarce ~ it is very desolate & completely ravaged [.] The people are so disgusted with war they won't look a Soldier in the face but pass him with heads down..I don't know whether it is their secession  proclivities or not but I guess it is ~ we find a good deal of it here in Maryland ~ we probably will have considerable fighting to do should we cross but and fighting that is somewhat harder than our Regt has done yet but it never shall be said that I was found skulking ~ [a term which defined in a dictionary means " to lie in hiding, as out of  cowardice or bad conscience"] this is no useless bragging now for I have passed through one fire & I know what I can stand ~ you don't know how much a coward is detested here & yet there is a great deal of Skulking done in the hour of battle -- I would a good deal rather my bones should lay here in the South than be found in that situation [.]"

I don't need to comment on the absolute need and ability of a soldier to be fearless or the reality of them being quite human in a time of stress.  Philip goes on to describe the scene of his writing:

 "I wish you could see me writing here during the night Serg  another Sergeant is is (sic) with me & we both have our portfolios spread out writing home to our wives [.] The fire blazes up clear & strong & is very hot ~ every 2 hours we have to visit the Pickets posts 5 in number [.] The Enemy are in plain sight [.] I have just been bragging to him about our little George ~ he thinks he must be very smart ~ You ought to have seen [Brother] George when I showed him the babys likeness he was tickled enough on seeing it ~ how he does want one every time I saw him and that was about twice a day he would ask to see it ~ There is a probable chance of George being promoted ~ I hope he will for if any one ever served their Country faithfully he has [.] I think he will get Orderly Sergeant ~ There is a call amongst our Troops to enlist in the regular Service  ~ they give 20 days furlough & $100 down [.] I would like that very well but I don't like the service [.] It is getting daylight now & I can see to write better [.] We have been having very cold windy weather for 3 or 4 days but it is getting warmer now [.] Our Overcoats came the other day & we was glad to get them for we needed them very much now ~ we sleep very comfortable ~ you don't know how much I think of that night cap ~ it is the most valuable thing I possess now [.] I can sleep with my ears warm ~ I hope we shall get back to our old camp to day for the water we have here we get out of the canal & don't taste very good though the Canal here is a good deal cleaner than the Erie Canal in New York State ~ this water is pure like River water but tastes dead & brackish ~ I will tell what we had for our meals yesterday ~ (always sounding much better than my dinner!)  in the morning we had Coffee, Sweet Potatoes and Bread  ~ for Dinner I had boiled Sweet Potatoes & Beef Steak & fried Onions & Bread that Parson & I had bought some days previous for Supper ~ boiled Rice & fried Onions & Hard Crackers soaked in cold water & fried with them ~ they were first rate but is not every day ~ I live so one could spend an immense pile of money here ~ every thing is so high I do not buy anything but vegetables [.] I do not spend much but we do not get any thing in the vegetables line unless we buy it & I think a man in order to preserve good health should have in this country Onions & potatoes twice a week certain we have [.] Parsons & I have them & I think that is what makes me so healthy ~ once in a while we get a Loaf of Bread ~ it is almost impossible for a man to eat it the Hard Army Bread we get but when we get into winter quarters we shall draw Soft Bread ~ the things we suffer the most for are Salt & Pepper & I believe no one can keep healthy without them, we draw about a spoonful of Salt per week & no pepper [.] I bought a 1/4 of a pound the other day & gave 15 cts for it ~ it will last us 6 months but I will finish this some other time [.]"

Well there you have it--fried onions and potatoes twice a week = health!

And now DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY: June 27, 1864

"...had my mustache and whiskers shaved off..."  !

NEXT WEEK MY FOCUS WILL BE ON GETTYSBURG AND THE 151TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE AND PHILIP'S INVOLVEMENT IN IT!

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND HOPE TO SEE YOU THEN!



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Good Looking Soldier

On the limited number of occasions that brothers George and Philip were together, they made the most of their time with each other.  This is evident in the next set of letters as George has written on the top of the page prior to Philip writing the rest to Roby.  You can hear the differences in voice and time spent mustered in:

"Camp near Antietam Creek
Oct 15th 1862

My Dearest Wife

I have a little time to spare & thought I [you] would like to hear from me again [.] In the first place I am perfectly well & hearty [.] George, Bruce, Gib Miers & Holmstreet [are] visiting me now & we are having a fine time ~ now George is agoing to write a letter to you in this letter so I will give way ~"

Letter from George within letter from Philip:

"Sister Roby ~ As I was visiting Phil & as he was agoing to write to you I thought I would try & write a few lines [.] We are all well & in good spirits ~ at present we are still encamped near...?" unfortunately this section was illegible but he continues about his nephew: "...I am quite anxious to see my nephew as I hear some great reports about him that is his abilities & qualifications ~ he must be quite a chap --I wish he was Large enough to take his uncles place for a time so that I could come back & recruit up but that is I[,] calculating impossibilities [.] Our brigade was ordered out Saturday night about 11 o'clock & formed line of battle & marched two miles then throwed out pickets where we laid two days while the infernal rebels passed within half a mile of us ~ they intended to cross the river through our brigade but we were a little too quick for them."

George continues with a great compliment to his younger brother:

"Phil makes a good looking soldier ~ he has just gone out on battalion drill & I shall have to go back to my Regt before he come in but he has promised me to try & come & see me again tomorrow [.] I am agoing to write to Maranda while I am here as Phil has plenty of paper so I will have to close write soon & give my love to all the girls [.]
                                      Yours with love ~ George

Not being quite sure who "all the girls" are, I can only guess.  I have no record of whether George was married at this time or not.  Philip continued the letter after his Battalion Drill & Dress Parade at 5 o'clock that same day:

"Now I have finished Labors for the Day ~ I will write more ~ I will give you a description of the Dinner I gave in honor of my visitors [.] I bought some Bread & Butter also Potatoes & we had some cheese [.] I boiled the Potatoes [,] made flour Gravy [,] fried some Pork & had a pretty Respectable dinner ~ something the boys had not had in a good while [.] I ended up with a pie which I traded Coffee off for [.] I tell you they enjoyed it too [.] They came very near cleaning me out [.] I am agoing to try to go over there tomorrow but I am not sure as I can get away [.] I have a great deal to do & the Captain says he can't get along without me [.] We are expecting a mail every minute so I am sure I shall hear from you [.] I shall have to send this without paying the Postage which I do not like to do but shall have to [.] "  And rather sadly he adds: "The mail has come but no Letters from you..."

Maybe tomorrow?  the next day? I find no mention of receiving letters from Roby for at least a week or more longer.  At least we see into the future though..

DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY:   June 26, 1864, 150 years ago

"near Petersburg VA, Sunday June 26th/64

My Dearest Wife

I received your very welcome letter this morning & was indeed glad to hear from you & above all to see your Picture ~ you can imagine how pleased I was to get it as you know how anxious I was ~ it was first rate although it did not seem to look quite matured ~ you have changed some I think [.]"

Roby didn't forget him.

TOMORROW, Oct. 25, 1862 and beyond!

HOPE TO SEE YOU THEN!
  
     


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Little History Written


 "I try to keep a sort of memorandum of events so that if I am Lucky enough to get back home I shall have a history already written." P.R. Woodcock

Philip's next letter to Roby was written over a two day period.  Unfortunately, the last page of the letter is missing, so I don't have a complete one but I'm including this one as I found it to be quite humorous as well as enlightening:

                                                                "Oct 9 1862
                                                      Camp on Antietam Creek

My Dear Wife

Having a little time & a postage stamp which cost 5 cents & plenty of paper I thought I would write to you again to day & keep you informed as to our movements ~ We left the river yesterday 10 o'clock & came back to camp ~ we had an exciting time the night before we left [.] I was put on Commandant of the pickets again for the night -- It was nice bright moonlight & was a splendid night ~ about 11 o'clock one of the Pickets sent word to me that the Enemy were posting pickets on an Island in the river [.] I at once dispatched an orderly to the Captain of the Picket Guard & he & I went upon the Heights overlooking the Island & sure enough within a few rods of us they were placing their men [.] The Major just then came in riding in a great hurry & said it was the same thing both above & below the River & in some places they had attempted to cross & ordered me to put on double pickets on a post & I actually believe he expected an attack before morning but we did not get it but it was fun & would have been more so had picket firing not been prohibited but by mutual consent they will not fire ~"

Back in the days of civilized fighting, such as it were...

"It is very hot here to day ~ it wilts us right down ~ it is a good deal more so than our weather does in August [.] One of our Company had his Gun go off accidentally this morning & made a flesh wound in his fingers ~ also one night before last shot his whole hand off accidentally & he will be sent home[.] But Battalion Drill comes on now & will have to go out but its awful hot[.]"

Shot his whole hand off?!  The letter is continued the next day, October 10, 1862, Friday:

"I think I will try to finish this letter now [.] I try to keep a sort of memorandum of events so that if I am Lucky enough to get back home I shall have a history already written ~ it is a little cloudy to day & has sprinkled some but I have my shelter Tent all pitched & am ready for anything ~ We have a great many sick in our regt ~ we hardly muster 800 Effective men now ~ We are expecting to move every day to follow the Rebels & give them fight into Virginia ~ if we do then you will hear of some bloody times for I think it is the intention of our Commanders to fetch them to terms as soon as possible ~ There has been some talk that our Corps was pronounced by Gen McClellan unfit for duty & would be used to guard the River but I guess it was nothing but a camp Story [.] You cannot imagine how many different Rumors we do get here in camp ~ sometimes we hear that Peace is declared & then we all flatter ourselves that we are going right home & about a week we believed that Richmond was taken ~ since then we do not believe any thing we hear ~" Sounds like a good thing. "Orville Parsons was pretty sick yesterday but feels better to day so that he went a mile after water for men & I to cook with [.] I just sent 2 of our company to the Hospital ~ one I don't think will Live -- Jim Van Horne has been pretty sick too but he is getting better ~"

And when you feel like you need that convenient shower?  Think on this:  

" The boys are now cleaning our street & the dust flies so that this letter will be dirty enough but you must make the best of my letters if they are all dirty [.] I can't always keep clean ~ you see water is scarce ~ we have to bring it a mile & only a canteen that holds about 2 quarts at that ~ There is a creek close by [,] but the Old Soldiers all wash above us & they are so Lousy (meaning full of lice) that we can't hardly stand it[.] but we all expect to express to their officers & all are so & it is utterly impossible to keep otherwise but I would rather give $1000 rather than find any on me & so far have been all right though several of our cleanest men have found them [.]"

Not so exciting now...he finishes with:

"But do not Laugh ~ that's what we enlisted for ~ But how I wish you & Father Pierce's whole family could see us ~ you would then know what war is..."

Indeed, but I for one, am thankful for his "memorandum of events".

DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY: June 25, 1864 150 years ago today

  
"Arose 4 oclock got Breakfast ~ all quiet ~ got a letter from Eld Eastman ~ made out Clothing List ~ policed up our Camp ~ very hot ~ went over to 7th NY ~ found Burney Pierce was wounded & back to Hospital [.] Had orders to lay out nice Camp ~ went & got poles for a bunk &c [.] Saw Frank Wilson 2nd NY Heavy ~ very hot today ~ suffered the most digging a well for the Company [.] Had whiskey Rations [.]"

Well Great-Great Grandfather Philip, it is my hope that on that hot day 150 years ago, you did enjoy your "whiskey rations" a bit...

TOMORROW: A letter from George and the Dress Parade!

HOPE TO SEE YOU THEN!
  

 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Dirty Soldier

Over the last month as I've been reading Philip's letters, I've noticed a common thing through all of them--they are pages and pages long.  His longing for home is evident and his ability to describe scenes of battle, appearance, meals and landscape have been so vivid.  The continuation of his letter of the 7th is no different.  After he has told Roby of a delicious breakfast, he goes on to tell her about how his appetite is not very good "especially when in the dirt ~"  And now, the continuation of Oct. 7th, 1862:

"I tell you Roby I look some different than when at home [.] I am pretty dirty though as clean as the officers ~ & I am badly burned up, hair shaved short, beard all over my face ~ there is not a razor in the Regt ~ I tell you that I have seen tough times ~ many a time I have laid down on the march in the Dust 3 or 4 inches deep so tired I could hardly stir sometimes going 3 or 4 days without washing my hands & face & drank water out of Rivers Creeks & often right of the Road where thousands of Soldiers had passed through [.] I tell you Roby Soldiers life is a hard & rough one but after all I like it [.]  I have stood it much better than I thought I should ~ when I see what it was we claim ~ a small share or those terrible fights in Maryland though we did no any very hard fighting still they tried our pluck some ~ we had to hold a pass in the Mountains ~& Support Batteries..Gen McClellan said if the 121st would hold Cramptons Gap 24 hours the battle would be ours & we done it on Sunday night [.]  We was exposed to a heavy fire but it done but little Damage to us ~ it was pleasant to hear the heavy Shot & Shell as they whistled over our heads & the little bullets ~ that was nice ~ We all know what fighting is now [.]"

At this early point in their careers, the 121st is still new to battle.  It's only been one month since their trip down south and it still seems quite exciting to him.

"We have seen two very large Armies engaged in terrible conflict combat & you can't form no idea of how it looks ~ no description that you see in papers begins to describe it but O what sights I saw after the Battle ~ Thousands of wounded & dead & dying lying in heaps & singly & in every possible shape & manner but we soon got used to that ~ I dare not tell you what sickening sights I saw ~ it would make you sick of war [.]"

And of course, early news of George, years before his injury:

"If you have seen Burneys Letter you will know that I came across George at Sharpsburg & you better believe I was glad to see him [.] I ran 1 one mile (sic) when I heard where he was ~ the quickest I ever traveled  ~ he has seen awful tough times but he and Bruce came out all right ~ they have been in every battle since July 8th & Capt Youngs & all the boys told me that Geo did fight terrible (that means well!) that he went ahead of the Tanks & loaded & fired as fast as possible [.] The[re] was but 8 men in his Company [.] I was over there a week last Sunday & he & Bruce staid over night a week ago to day ~ he had several narrow escapes but all sound yet ~ he is about 4 miles from here but enough of war~"

His letter at this point switches to the practical side being a soldier:

"I want you to have your Likeness taken & send to me & one to George ~ Our Knapsacks have all been Rifled & all little valuables stolen [.]   I had things & little Extras &c that I would not have take $20 for but I expect they are all gone ~ My Sword has been Stolen too [.] I would not have taken $10 for it ~ your likeness has gone with a large Supply of Postage Stamps also a nice Portfolio with letters in &c gone so you see, you must send me your likeness with little George [.] O how I would like to see him & you but it will be a long time yet I suppose [.] I want you to knit or make me some sort of a woolen night Cap that will not be very heavy ~ you can send it in an Envelope [.] We have a little frost mornings & a fellow wakes up & finds a very cold dew is frost on his hair that does not feel good but you ought to see us when it rains ~ it is fun then [.] I have a nice Rubber blanket but I have to share it with Parsons but our little Shelter tents came this morning & that will help us a good deal ~ for about 3 weeks I slept out in the open air except one night & then I slept in an Ice house..."

The practical dealings of family goes on and on..

"wrote a letter to Uncle Asa..."
"written 5 or 6 to you..."
"I want you to write to me every day..."
"don't forget the likenesses..."
"& your letters--make them longer & two Sheets..."
"wish Fannie & Charlie (much joy) for me..."

On and on and on.  He concludes with news that his "Captain is about to make some important changesand that "he complimented me very highly 2 or 3 times before the Company & yesterday he told me that I was one of the Best Sergeants he had..."  And towards the end of the letter, finally a word about Abraham Lincoln:

"We had a grand Review the other day [.] Gen. McClellan & Old Abe visited us about 20,000 of us ~ it was a grand thing but you must have read of it probably before this but I have a chance for this to go now & I must send ~ now write to me as quick as possible & write often & send papers for we have nothing to read [.] I must close [.] Kiss the Baby for me & remember me [.]
                                                     Yours faithfully & Affectionately
                                                      P.R. Woodcock

Give my love to all & tell them to write & tell me all the Baby does & how he acts 
                                                     PRW

A long and newsy letter.  

And now: DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY




  
151 years ago today, June 24th, it was "cool & cloudy Brigade inspection 10 A.M. Capt Hale Wrote a letter to Art Burnham Skirmish Drill & Brigade Dress parade Rough on us nowadays"









Tomorrow Philip is on Antietam Creek!

Hope to see you then!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Picket Station, Potomac River, Oct 7, 1872

Last week, I jumped ahead to Spotsylvania and Philip's letters of that time period.  You got a small glimpse of the Philip of the future and how hardened he had become after fighting for over two years.  As you read today's post, you'll return to the newly mustered in Sergeant and continue on his journey which picks up with a lengthy letter written to Roby from a picket station near the Potomac River on October 7, 1862.  

(A quick definition for what a picket station is:  Picket - An advance outpost or guard for a large force was called a picket. Ordered to form a scattered line far in advance of the main army's encampment, but within supporting distance, a picket guard was made up of a lieutenant, 2 sergeants, 4 corporals, and 40 privates from each regiment. Picket duty constituted the most hazardous work of infantrymen in the field. Being the first to feel any major enemy movement, they were also the first liable to be killed, wounded, or captured. The most likely targets of snipers, Picket duty, by regulation, was rotated regularly in a regiment.--Thanks to Civil War Home for this definition.)

And now his letter of Tuesday the 7th:

"My Dear Wife

At last I have had the pleasure of hearing from you ~ I have just got your letter from Troy ~ so you probably did not get those letters that I wrote to you & sent to Springfield while I was in battle & encamped on the Battle field ~ as it has turned out now I am glad of it for every one I wrote for a week or so then I did not know as I ever should write another ~ We passed through some awful times from Rockville to Sharpsburg through South Mountain Pass, Antietam Creek to Williamsport ~ our Regular Camp is now on Antietam Battlefield but we were brought here on the Potomac yesterday to do picket duty [.] We are having genuine fun too ~ it is exciting & just dangerous enough to be pleasant & we are in a nice cool pleasant place but I suppose we shall have to go back tomorrow [.] A detachment of 42 men was given me ~ the first one of the Sergeants to Post on Picket ~ it was fun I tell you [.] I posted about 30 of them on the Canal & River & took the rest of them on the other side at the Dam and went as far as the Rebel Pickets would let us go without shooting at us and posted them along 3 on a Picket ~ The Enemys Pickets signaled me to come over there but they would not let me come with my gun & I declined the kind offer ~"

I admit, I smiled at that light-hearted entry....

"I am glad the murderous practice of Skirmishing has been forbidden for now we can lay here perfectly quiet though we are liable to an attack any moment & our force behind us are concealed [.] The Rebels are but a short distance from us & their Pickets are but a few Rods from ours so the[y] talk to each other but for a day or two they do not come over as they did at first [.] What that signifies I do not know ~ I have been been [sic] relieved so I have not any thing to do now untill tomorrow morning [.] We are living pretty good ~ "

The relief in his letter for a small break is evident. He goes on to describe a delicious breakfast:

"...now I want to tell you what kind of Breakfast I had this morning ~ you see I was in command of the Pickets & I had my headquarters at a little Canal house where there was a white woman ~ the first one I have spoken to almost since I left home [,] yesterday I got some biscuits of hers & this morning I took breakfast ~ I actually eat of a plate & table & drank out of a tea cup & used a knife and fork ~ the first I have done in one months ~ it seemed so much like home that I made myself entirely so [.] We had bread & Apple Butter Molasses, Mutton, Beef & Pork, Apple Sauce &c ~ I eat untill I was felt uncomfortable all for it & it will last me all day I guess ~ O.C. Parsons said I eat more than I usually did in a week at Camp & I believe it too for my appetite is not very good..."

Tomorrow, I'll continue the letter with his description of his appearance.


AND NOW MY NEW FEATURE -- DEB'S DATE IN HISTORY:

150 years ago today on June 23rd, 1864, Philip was 3 miles south of Petersburg, VA.  A small excerpt from his letter observes: "Petersburg is a City of considerable size ~ we could count 7 steeples in it ~ we crossed the Appotomax River on Pontoons [.] They have some heavy works and we also have some ~ we were on the front Line & they throwed mortar Shells into us but it did not hurt many ~ only wounded 3 or 4 ~ after dark we could see them & could get ourself out of range ~ they scare us worse than bullets ~ we can't tell where the pieces fly...."

Come back for tomorrow's entry "The Dirty Soldier"!

Hope to see you then!



Friday, June 20, 2014

Bayonets! (Bivouac near Fredericksburgh, VA)

History has it that the Battle of Spottsylvania ended on May 21st, 1864. Philip's regiment was "moved up & formed line of Battle on the Right about 8 miles from Fredericksburg". (Taken from his diary entry of the 20th.)  He stopped to write to Roby on the 21st:

                                                       "Bivouac near Fredericksburgh VA

My Dearest wife

Once more while I have the chance I will write you to keep you posted as to our movements. I may not have another opportunity ~ When I last wrote you we were down near the Court House ~ Soon after the Rebs tried a deep game to Flank us on the Right & Capture our Trains ~"  

I don't know about you, but I detected a bit of sarcasm in that...

"they succeeded in getting 21 wagons loaded with Hard Tack but they had to leave them again [,]  our boys aided by the Heavy Artillery drove them back ~ Our Division was ordered up here to guard the Fredericksburgh Pike [.] We had to march nearly all night ~ after getting into line of Battle we laid quiet & last night for the first time in 14 nights we rested all night ~ we was not routed out & this morning we had a chance to wash up a little & we feel better [.]"

A good nights sleep and a bath does wonders for a young man of 24. He continues:

"The Heavy Artillery had a pretty hard fight but their Loss was not heavy [.] They fired into one another made it [illegible writing here] The 7th NY Heavy was Engaged & as soon as we came up I searched for Burney but he was missing I think however as near as I could learn he is safe [.] The Regt at first broke & ran & I guess he got off.  I looked on the Battle Field but could not find his body so I think he must have lost the Regt ~ His Company did not think he was hurt ~ I hope not at least [.] I shall endeavor to find out all particulars as soon as possible ~ I can not find out anything further from George but I think he was only slightly wounded[.] We are now about 8 miles from Fredericksburgh in a good place if they will only let us stay there but if they should hear any Cannonading down on Left we would have to double quick down there ~ We have got a little Sick of it[.] The Rebs have gone back from in front of us but if they should try another Flanking movement we would have to fight some I tell you [.] They would try hard to cut us off here but let them come on [.] I would rather fight them here than to march up to their Rifle Pits[.]"

He goes on to describe with great detail about their fighting:

"I will now try to tell you a little something about our fights[.] On the 5th of May in the Wilderness our Corps was trying to join the 5th Corps~ we first came up with the Johnnie [.] Our Company was sent out as Skirmishers ~ we found nothing but scouts out for some distance finally found them pretty thick ~ They would be hid & let us get up close & fire on us ~ we lost several ~ There Parsons was wounded [,] but he was a dead Johnny in a short time afterward [.] Our Boys pitched into him sharp & killed him ~ The treacherous hounds kept falling back untill we got right in to their Line of Battle when the[y] all pured a tremendous volley into us hitting several. It was a confounded mean trick but we stayed in our places untill our Line of Battle passed over us then we were relieved & we made tall running to get out before the fight became to[o] heavy. This was all in a thick woods called the wilderness [.] The fight lasted all day but we kept out as far as possible. The next day the 6th we were throwing up Breastworks and the Rebs tried to Break our Right. We had to Leave everything & go in a double quick ~ the Johnnies drove us back over but we rallied and some more help came but they fired into us by mistake [.] We did not know where to go for a long while [.] Bullets came into us from 3 sides [.] There was bad management & we lost heavy ~ as soon as it was dark we had to leave that Spot ~ we moved down to the Left towards Fredericksburgh. From that time till the 10th we would march nights & day times did Rifle Pits & get shelled ~ on the 10th our Brigade made a bloody but splendid Charge in a rough Rifle Pit & Battery. We captured everything but could not hold it but a few minutes[.]  this fight was the most horrible I ever saw ~ it was all Bayonets [.] I never want to see another ~ we lost heavy here also ~ we went in with 387 men & only came out with 146[.] We done some tall running here when we were drove out [.] We took 900 Prisoners though and we had about 1000 more but had to leave them [.] On May the 12th the 2nd Corps made a charge & we had to go up & help hold the works ~ they took our Brigade ~ went in a bad place & were driven back with heavy loss but we went in again & fought in the Rain & mud 7 hours [.] The next day we fought on the Skirmish line again but I must stop ~ the mail goes out [.] We are ordered to move back to the Left [.] May be we will have a fight [.] Write soon have courage [.] 
                                                   May God bless you
                                                   A Kiss for you & Baby
                                                  Yours Phil R Woodcock"

Wow.  I need to breathe a little after that...


Next week: Back to 1862 and the GREEN REGIMENT.  I'm also adding a new feature each day, somewhat like a "This Date in History".  I'll have 
an except of his letters and/or diaries from that exact date 
150 years ago in our nation's history.

Have a good weekend and hope to see you then!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Escaping the Enemy, May 19th, 1864

Following the news of George's life being spared and about his injuries, Philip was forced to march on with not much time for sleep.  The battle of Spottsylvania was still raging on near the Court House, but the enemy had not been defeated.  He wrote in his diary on the 18th & 19th and then a letter to Roby as he was moving from position to position.  His diary entry of the 18th reads:   "Wednesday, 18, 1864

Found ourselves after marching all night in our old position where we fought all day in the mud the 12th ~ did not get Engaged to day ~ we formed one of the Rear Lines [.] The 2nd Corps charged & took a portion of their works ~ got shelled bad but no casualties ~ marched back to our old Corner in front again ~ got a mail to night 7 Letters from home one from Fittch from Martha Phebe Abe & Eld Eastman ~ slept sound[.]"

And from the 19th:

"Arose 1/2 past 3 [,] advanced our Lines about a mile & threw up Rifle Pits towards Spottsylvania Court House ~ wrote letter to Roby sent home some Photographs wrote also to Phebe Sanders ~ very hot today [.] Fighting commenced on the Right ~ the Rebs came very near flanking us ~ they broke through but our men drove them back ~ at 11 oclock P.M. we got up & moved up to the Right on the old Pike to Fredericksburg ~ slept about 2 hours ~ suffered from cold ~ feel pretty tired & rough"

And then Philip finds the time to finally write to his "dear" wife Roby:

                                                                         Field near Spottsylvania Court House

                                                                         Thursday 19th 1864

My Dear Wife

I received your kind Letters last night & was indeed glad to hear from home once more [.] I tell you you can not think how good it was to hear from home once more [.] I got 7 Letters [.] I had to read all but yours on the march as I going through the mud....."

Marching and reading his letters...it's a little bit like texting and walking today...

"Once more I can say that I am alive & safe [.] Night before Last we marched all night & took a position & just Escaped by the skin of our teeth of getting into a big fight although we got shelled awfully yet we lost not a man luckily ~ Nubern Armstrong & I tent together now & cook together [.] There are 4 of us tent together [.] My old Tent mates are all wounded ~ one I guess is dead ~ he was wounded bad & left on the Field[.]"

How different is his attitude towards death from his earlier years in the war.

"We are now a little ways from the Court House where we like to be but cant get there without a fight ~ We are formed in two lines of Battle ~ we started at daylight this morning & we are building Rifle pits now [.] That is the way we have done every time when we stop we build Breastworks & that is what has given us success every time [.] We can then hold all the ground we get ~ We advanced our lines about a mile this morning ~ we have had no decisive victory yet but I think the grand attack together will be made in a day or two [.] I hope it will be over soon for we are about used up [.] We have had heavy reinforcements [.] Burneys 7th N York Heavy Artillery came in yesterday [.] I looked for him all day but could not find him ~ they are not far from us.  If they have it as rough as we do I am afaid he will not stand it very well. I will probably find him in a day or two[.] We may stay quiet a day or two [.] " 

He continues his letter with descriptions of the Confederate forts:

"The Johnnys have some splendid fortifications in front of us [.] They have a large Fort with 36 Guns which will mow us poor chaps down when we do pitch into them ~ I do not like that Artillery [.] I would rather face the Minnie Balls than those Cannon [.]"

He fills a page with more personal, less dramatic talk such as:

"I got 2 Letters from you & one from Fittch ~ Phoebe Sanders ~ Eld Eastman Abe & one from Martha...."
"send me here Photographs...a 50 picture one would cost $5.00 here or more...."
"rains a little here this morning...."
"I send this by Hank Cadwell ~ he dont have to go into any fight [,] He is a Drummer..."

He finishes the letter with:

A man cannot get to Washington now with out he is wounded very severely & not fit for Duty in a year or so [.] It is pretty rough on those slightly wounded ~ they have to stay with the Regiment [.] I saw the 152nd yesterday ~ they marched passed us but we were asleep & I did not see any one that I knew [.] This Army never had so rough a time as it has had since this Campaign [.] We dont get any sleep nor rest [.] I am under Arms now ~ the Enemy are liable to press us at any moment ~ it is 13 days since I have slept regular [.] Now write soon [.] I cannot tell you how we will come out yet but I hope successfull [.] Pray for us [.] Tell Eld Eastman his letter came just the right time that our Association has lost its President vice President & about 2/3 of its members but they belong to God ~ we lament them ~ now write soon [.] Love to all ~ a Kiss for you & Baby [.]
                                                                         Yours with Love  Phil R Woodcock

Written sideways on front page, a P.S.:

"I suppose you are in Cortland but am not certain & I direct to Springfield ~ you must Excuse bad writing for I am on the ground & it rains some [.]"


TOMORROW, THE CONCLUSION OF SPOTTSYLVANIA!

Hope to see you then!




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

News on Brother George

Philip's letter of the 16th continued with news about his brother George who, as of a few days earlier, he believed had perished in battle.  He wrote in his diary that morning before writing to Roby:

"Monday 16
Arose Early feeling rather tired & sore ~ was relieved 9 oclock ~ glad to get back again. [.] Drew Rations[.] Our Regt was consolidated into 4 Companies ~ Co "E" & "D" from 2nd Company ~ Sergt Armstrong tents with the Orderly & I now [.] Prospect of our laying here for reinforcements [.] We need them bad ~ our Army is badly crippled [.] Wrote a letter to Roby ~ no mail received yet since we started on this campaign[.] Rain again tonight [.] Had an Inspection [.]"

After telling Roby in his letter that he felt this battle was worse than Gettysburg (or Gettysburgh as it was spelled then), he went on:

" We have to stand right up to it untill one side or the other is used up God only knows I have seen enough already [.] I think both Armies are badly crippled " (Over 31,000 were either killed, crippled or captured with the Union army suffering the most casualties--2,725 dead vs. the Confederate Army with 1,515).

"but I guess we have a little advantage [.] Sergt Armstrong is all right yet [.] I saw Darwin Ely a day or two ago ~ he is pretty safe in a battery[.] Brother George is not killed as I wrote before thank God [.]"

His relief is evident!

"He is only slightly wounded in the Head enough to take him back to the rear so I heard since the first report I got ~ I do not know when we shall bring on another Engagement maybe tomorrow & maybe not in a week but I hope the Decisive Battle will be fought & have it done[.] I have go sick of this fooling around fighting by detail for our Division has it all to do then ~ Our favorite General Sedgewick has been killed ~ Col Olcott was killed in our first heavy Battle [.] Maj Galfin (spelling questioned) was wounded in our famous charge on that Rifle Pit & then again in the next days fight & our Adjutant was killed so we have lost every thing all but 2 Captains [.] We have only about 120 men left if we do that [.] I hear it rumored that we will lie still a few days ~ I hope so for if we ever needed rest we do now[.] The Boys are all as poor a crows ~ We hear big news from the other Armies but they must be exaggerated some ~ we can only get a little idea of how things are going ~ you know more that I do in regard to that[.] I wish I was home with you now[.] Keep up good courage trust in God pray for me [.] I hope to come out all right yet ~ write me as often as you can [.] I hope we will come off victorious [.] Our Captains & Lieutenant are wounded ~ now good bye ~ Love to all Kiss the Baby one for you

                                                                          Yours with Love
                                                                          Phil R Woodcock"

Thankful to come out alive and most definitely worn out and saddened at the loss of life...


Come back tomorrow as the Battle of Spottsylvania winds 
down and his letter of the 19th!

Hope to see you then!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Line of Battle at Spottsylvania

On the morning of the 14th, Philip wrote in his diary that he "Arose Early & marched down through the mud & rain to the Left & joined Burnsides Army".

Their brigade was "put out skirmishing [.] Established a Line & held it till 4 oclock then advanced the Line..."

He goes on over the next few daily entries to speak of being driven back by heavy infantry & cavalry forces and sleeping in the rain.  As the days wore on and they slowly advanced in the rain towards the Spottsylvania Court House he finally writes again to Roby on the 16th of May, 1864:

                                         Field near Spottsylvania Court House
                                                    May 16th 1864

My Dear Wife

Once more I have an opportunity to write you & I will improve it to let you know of my safety ~ The morning I wrote you before we changed our position & maneuvered around untill night expecting to draw on an Engagement but did not ~ Early the next morning we moved down & joined Burnside's Army ~ Our Brigade was immediately put on a Skirmish Line & remained untill nearly night when we advanced & ran into an ambush of Infantry & Cavalry ~ Our force was small & we had to give way ~ they pressed us hard I tell you ~ if we ever done tall running it was that night [.] I never made so good use of my Legs ~ I thought I would be taken in spite of myself but as good Luck would have it I took the right directions & kept in the woods & their Cavalry could not gobble me ~ The Left of our Line got most all taken ~ some had to swim a small River to get away[.] Yesterday our Brigade was put on the Skirmish Line again & had to remain untill this morning [.] it was pretty rough & our boys feel it [.] We have been kept to the Front untill out of 1800 men in our Brigade there are scarcely 400 Left while other Troops have not smelt powder yet & have been Laying off doing guard duty [.] It is shamefull & the men are getting demoralized fast..."

At this point, you see quite a change from his earlier letters of 1862 when the excitement of a battle charge was still felt.  Then, the men refuse to return to battle:

"The men will not stand a fight at all & I do not blame them at all [sic] We have it rough enough besides doing all the hard duty ~& being kept on the Skirmish Line of Battle or first Line of Battle [.] The other day they kept us in a fight over 4 hours and that too after we had been in the morning & all cut up & lost heavy in being repulsed ~ my head is worth as much to me as it is to Gen Wright and I am going to be responsible for it..."

He goes on to explain his frustration and the losses they've taken:

"I have always shared with the men all the danger but if they use us like this I shall look out after this [.] We have lost all our officers now nearly & we have been consolidated in to four Companies ~ Co "D" & Co "E" have been put together & now we are not as large as we was in single Companies when we started [.] We have got no mail yet since we started so I just heard that there is an awful [lot of] mail for at Army Hd Qtrs [.] I hope we will get it today ~ we are resting out a little now ~ there has been no fighting today to amount to any thing[.] I guess we are waiting for reinforcements [.] We need them I know [.] Our Army has lost very heavy [.] We cannot tell how things are agoing [.] The enemy are in force in plain sight at the Court House[.] The grand attack is to be made yet but there has already [been] very hard fighting the hardest fighting I ever saw ~ it beats Gettysburgh..."

The Battle of Spottsylvania hadn't even gotten to the main part and he describes it as worse than Gettysburgh?  That is tough fighting.  


Fast forward to 1972 again:

Another article of the return of the Seal of Spotsylvania and a picture of a commemoration medal from the 100th Anniversary of the Battle.
























Again, he made no mention of this seal being in his possession in his letters, but marked it for his granddaughter to be specifically left to her.  He had a handwritten note reading: "Superior Court Seal of Spottsylvania Co. Virginia captured May 14, 1864 from Court House and given to writer".


Come back tomorrow for the continuation of the letter and to find out what happened to George!

Hope to see you then!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Seal of Spotsylvania

A little over 150 years ago, numerous battles were fought from early May lasting through the middle of June.  I'm going to jump ahead in time over the next few posts to 1864 to coincide with their Anniversary this year.  


Battle at the Spotsylvania Court House 


Philip wrote Roby from the Field near the court house on Friday the 13th of May, 1864:

       "My Dearest Wife

Through the mercy of God I am still alive & safe [.] I have time only to write a very few Lines ~ it is my first chance ~ Our Regt is all cut to pieces again [.] I am Left with the company [.] I have only 4 men left though some are back in the woods I think[.] We have lost heavy [.] I have been in 4 Battles since we started out [.] I do not know how many more we will get into but I trust in God he will be with me through them [.] Our Army have suffered greatly ~ our Loss is immense [.] I do not know how we shall come out yet ~ We was in a fight yesterday 7 hours [].] We made a charge the 10th & captured a Lot of Prisoners & a battery but were driven back again ~ The date of our battles are May 5th & 6th 10th & 12th ~ Our Brigade is about used up [.]"

I'm tying this in with previous posts because you might recognize some of the names of the wounded during this time frame:

"The 76th has only 18 men Left in it [.] I heard that George was killed Last night..."

(George is his older brother.)

"but I hope it is not true[.] We must trust in God ~ I dont think we will get Engaged today but cant tell [.] I must close[.] Armstrong is all right yet Parsons was wounded in the Thigh the 5th [.] He was in good spirits & took it cool the last I heard from him [.] I cant tell when my turn will come but we will hope for the best [.] I shall ascertain if possible all about George ~ He may be killed [.] They lost a good many prisoners but I must stop [.] Phil Van Horne has not been with us [.] He is back sick to a hospital [.] Our Army has lost I think over 30,000 men [.] We have been fighting over 9 days [.] Now Kiss my Baby for me ~ keep up good courage ~ the God of Battles will keep us [.] The Bullets whistle over my head while I am writing ~ I have not been scratched though my clothes are riddled [.] We laid in the mud the rain all day yesterday & fought [.] Now good bye my Dearest Roby [.] God bless you[.]

                                                Yours with Love
                                                 P R Woodcock

Love to all"


The following day, (no written mention of it can be found), Philip was given the Superior Court Seal of Spottsylvania Co. Virginia which was taken during the battle by one of his men. 


Fast Forward to 1972

Spotsylvania County Museum
He kept this seal in his possession and at the time of his death in 1913, he willed it to my grandmother, Roby Woodcock Abercrombie. Years later she presented it back to the county in 1972.  At the right is a picture taken at that event of my grandmother and my family.  (That little girl looking out at the camera is me!)  My father was working for IBM in Manassas, VA at that time and co-ordinated the ceremony with a fellow IBM'er  who was from Spotsylvania.


Below is an article from that ceremony:




Come back tomorrow for diary entries from May 14-16th, 1864, his letter of the 16th, more pictures of the ceremony in 1972 and a picture of the Seal!  

Hope to see you then!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Soldiers Life

The reunion with George behind him for now, Philip's letter of the 21st turns to the more mundane things of a soldiers life:

"I must get my breakfast ~ a nice breakfast I have had of Coffee & Hard Crackers & a nice stew ~ I can make a nice cup of coffee as you can but such stews as we get up ~ of Crackers & water &c &c (sic) but before I go much further I will tell you where we came from [.] When my letter was sent it was at Burkittsville ~ a few minutes after sending the Letter we had orders to join our bridgade ~ it was a hard march about 14 miles in 4 hours ~ we went to Sharpsburg where the fights [were] ~ we encamped on the battle field but did not have to bury the dead which I was glad of as they were decaying fast [.] I wish you could see a battle field & the desolating appearance it has ~

it had been nice weather here a few days back ~ I guess that the sun does not cross the Line here in Maryland ~ it is the 21st & the weather never betokened better ~ I have just left off writing & been out foraging [.] I got 6 Ears of Corn & 27 potatoes about as large as Grapes ~ I shall have a big Supper of Succotash again ~ I have not had any in a week or more [.] I never was in better health in my Life than now notwithstanding the hard times"

His letter goes on to catch Roby up on various people he's heard from or sees when down there:

"Little Bill Gunnicliff got a letter from Martha last night..."
"Darby Ely & Newbern Armstrong got Letters..."
"Parsons was left behind to take care of the wounded..."   
"I do not know whether Geo is with us here or not...."

Small snippets of home and familiarity to keep himself going. And yet the war beckons:

"I just heard that we had 72,000 Troops on ahead of us ~ what they are agoing to do with them I do not know ~ we come here expecting to fight but the Enemy is gone & appearances indicate no fighting ~ there has not been any to day [.] I know I should not wonder if we had to march after the Enemy all through [Richmond] Virginia & may be farther but I hope that the war will close soon & I think it will" wishful thinking?

"but I mus[t] cook my Succotash ~ how I wish I had a bowl of Bread & milk to night & eat off a plate once more but we make the best of everything[.] I tell you of our hard fare more for the Sake of letting you know what a Soldiers life is ~ not because I do not like it ~ I am satisfied but they have put us through like old Regiments ~ all because their Colonel Brigaded us with old Regts & we have to keep with them & fight with them ~ it has been all through the kindness of Gen Slocum that he keeps us as a reserve ~ he said that he would not have blamed us if we had refused to march from Washington ~ that he had no work for us but now we are Toughened & acclimated so that we can stand anything but I must cook my supper [.]"

He continued his letter the next day, Sept 22, 1862:

"We had a very cold night last night ~ we could not keep warm no way but it is so pleasant now that we have forgot it ~ we moved forward about a mile yesterday & drew in line of Battle & stacked Arms again ~ we never stop any where but we keep in Battle Order[.] I had a nice Breakfast this morning ~ small Potatoes Corn Pork Beef Coffee & Bread or Hard Tack ~ There seems to be no prospect of Skirmishing with the Rebels this morning ~ it is very peaceable ~ There is a good deal of Corn raised here ~ it is all we can see & that got destroyed by the army[.] Peaches & Apples Grapes &c flourish good here ~ but things are not more forward here than in New York[.] 

He goes on to write he: "would like to have been home Sunday & went to church ~honestly we don't have Sundays here ~ it is hard telling when Sunday comes ~ all our hard marches fighting &c comes on Sunday"

Later in the letter he tells Roby: the Captain is agoing to promote me he says the first chance he gets..."  and also "I have just heard Gen Slocum wants to send us back to some camp of instruction & not march us into Virginia ~ I am afraid the news is too good to be true ~ we hear also that we have taken Richmond  but I must close."   

And sounding a bit homesick he closes the letter with: "give my love to all the friends & kiss the Baby for me & teach him to remember his father ~ how I would like to see him [.] I wish you would send his likeness to me ~ you must take care of yourself & remember me ~ write as often as you can[.]...now write often[.] Yours with much Love...

                                be sure & direct your Letters to Sergeant P.R. Woodcock
                                                                                          Co. E 121 Regt"

Monday I return with a trip to the future (May 1864) and the taking of the Seal of Spotsylvania and its return by my family (1972)!

Have a great weekend! 



   


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Glorious Reunion

The Battle of Antietam behind them and the next large battle for him nearly two months in the future, Philip has the opportunity to re-group and find his older brother George.  His next letter was written on September 21st, 1862 near Williamsport, MD:

                                                 "Field near Williamsport Sunday 5 o'clock A.M. Sept 21st

My dearest Wife

I write to you under circumstances that are extremely difficult this morning ~ in the first place I am very tired ~ we have just finished a forced march of 13 miles made since 1/2 past 12 last night & one other thing ~ my lead pencil is very short & I have nothing but my memorandum book to write on but before I go any further I need to tell you what a glorious day I had yesterday [.] I came across George & Bruce & Jim Casler & all the Springfield boys in the 76th except those that you know are dead & wounded & then I got two letters from home ~ but now about Geo [.] Ever since we have left Washington I have diligently sought the 76th but not a word could I hear of it untill yesterday morning [.] I heard they were encamped about 3/4 mile from us [.] I tell you didn't I run though it was the first time in my life that I ever left camp without permission sent [,] for I had a right to as an officer [,] but then I never stopped to ask ~ about 40 of the Company started to follow but I had to send them all but 3 or 4 back ~ we then took a double quick all the way there & soon found them but I fell you it was a joyous meeting for me to find them all alive & well seemed almost a miracle to me [.] I know what they had passed through [.] I found that they had been reduced to 8 for a company & they escaped without a scratch [.] I tell you they have seen rough times -- They have marched 250 days or more without a cent of money & only one [illegible word] & no time to wash & I know that was tougher than we had for we had one chance to wash in two weeks"

Two weeks?!...

"I found the boys in the first rate Spirits [.] I stayed about 1 1/2 hour & then I went back [.] I go there just in time to see the company & Reft all in line for fatigue duty ~ we were ordered to fall in & march to the great battle field & collect all arms & ammunition &c but we did not find much ~ we see about 200 dead bodies of both parties that had not been buried yet ~ when we got back George & Bruce as there ~ they stayed about 2 hours [.] I had a good visit with them ~ I gave them some paper & Envelopes as they had none & we opportunities to get it ~ They was all through the fights from Sunday night untill Wednesday near us -- I want you to have father tell Mark Way that he was mistaken in regard to Georges pluck about the time he Enlisted ~ Mark told me that George would not go ~ that he wasn't plucky enough ~ now there is not a man in the 76th that fought better than he did & not a man was complimented higher & done better service [.] I suppose he fought like a Tiger and braved every thing ~ I do not believe he will be killed in battle though it is hard telling ~ he showed me a bullet hole in his coat & men were shot all around him[.] I hope that our division will stay close to his..."

Brothers reunited after many months apart.  Philip's pride in his older brother's accomplishments are brimming over when he described George as fighting "like a Tiger". Small, but I'm sure, welcome diversions from the horrors of battle.  Tomorrow, the continuation of his letter and some additional roll books.  See you then!

Report of Enlisted Absent in duties and sick in Hospital