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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

90 Miles in One Week

" feet are very sore..."

During the Civil War, the majority of the infantry divisions traveled on foot for long miles each day to the next fight, oftentimes sleeping on the ground, other times pitching a tent. Philip kept up his letters to Roby even during these marches.  The week of June 26 - July 3, 1863 he marched from Fairfax, VA to Gettysburg, PA which is approximately 90 miles.  His letter of the 1st continues:

"...we passed through New Market a pretty union place & so on to Ridgeville & Mount Airy [,] there we left the Turnpike & started for the State Line ~ we were very tired and encamped at Gusburgh a small place ~ they were glad to see us ~"

After writing about the townspeople greeting never-before-seen soldiers and receiving gifts of onions and cherries he arrived in Westminster which he described as: "a fine place noticeable for its fine buildings & a female Collegiate Institute & pretty girls ..." He then continued:

"...we marched through with music & flying Colors for we was just behind the Rebs who had been driven out by our force & they had been robbed of all their horses & Cattle and in some instances they had robbed the men of the clothes off their backs ~ we rested there 2 hours & was mustered for 2 months pay ~ we then went on untill sundown & encamped in the woods ~ it rained all afternoon..."

After waking at 7 am and having breakfast approximately 1 1/4 miles from Blakely Mills, Philip writes that "my feet are very sore. I have had to cut my boots all to pieces to keep them from blistering [.] I cannot get any shoes now..."

And he writes an ominous statement about the near future:

"If we march today we shall go into Pennsylvania ~ I don't know where the rest of the Army is ~ there is nothing but our Corp here ~ there is about 15, 000 Rebs ahead of us ~ they have destroyed a bridge & we have to wait for that to be rebuilt ~ I hear that Mac Clellan (sic) is in command again [.] I am getting sick of this ~ it ought to play out I think ~"  

Little does he know that the battle of Gettysburg awaits him in a few days.

And a poem from his letterhead:

TOMORROW: The letter of the 1st continues and his odd wish to be wounded!

Hope to see you then!


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