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, 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'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 [.]"


Hope to see you then!

No comments:

Post a Comment