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!