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 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!

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