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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Thanksgiving to Remember

"...I guess if we live till spring I will be home..."
Philip continued his letter of December 1st, 1862 written shortly after Thanksgiving had passed:

"...we are now drilling very hard from daylight untill dark ~ we are kept very busy ~ not a moments time to spare -- We are having a good many inspections to [too] now ~ we had a division inspection the other day ~ a regimental inspection yesterday & to day we have to go a mile or 2 to have a brigade inspection ~ we have to blacken & polish & clean & wash about all the while = so you see we have not much time to write[.]"

Getting ready for battle?

"I am now going to tell you how we spent Thanksgiving ~ we drilled harder & longer than any other day since we have been out ~ our Major was in Command & he was pretty drunk & felt like drilling & at 4 P.M. we were drawn up in a hollow square & informed that it was Thanksgiving & we should keep it and we had a short Service by the Chaplain & then had Dress parade [.] The boys growled considerable for they had been fixing the day before to have a nice time as possible under the circumstances & expecting no drill [.] I would liked to have been home & eat Dinner with you[.]"

Being away from home on the holidays must be such a tough thing on a soldier.

 "Sunday we had services at 2 o'clock ~ short but very good for our Chaplain but I must hurry up this letter or I will not get ready for inspection ~ we have not been paid off yet ~ they owe me about 60 dollars but I shant get 1/2 of it for we were not mustered for only the 1st November ~ we are suffering for the want of money here ~ the Doctors & officers forbid the men from stopping the use of Tobacco & they don't want to either as long as they stay in the Army & they have no money to buy it with & it is so very high too ~ there is but 4 of us in the Company but what have had from 2 to 15 or 20 dollars sent to them [.] I had a little by me untill 4 or 5 days ago then I got out [.] I don't see the reason of our not being paid off as we ought long ago but the whole Army is in the same fix but I must close [.] I will send my money home as soon as I get it ~ I do not think that we shall stay here long ~ we may move in a day or two but I hope not ~ we now are in the Left Grand Division of the Army [.] I suppose that we will do our fighting at Fredericksburg but I don't know ~ I hope so but I don't understand lying here so long ~ it is funny ~ I have to Study now my military Tactics & recite to the Captain every night [.] I don't don't (sic) get off till about 10 o'clock at night[.]"

I did a little research about how much a Union soldier was making at that time (or not getting as was evidenced in his letter.)  Here is what I found from Civil War Home:
"Union privates were paid $13 per month until after the final raise of 20 June '64, when they got $16. In the infantry and artillery, officer was as follows at the start of the war: colonels, $212; lieutenant colonels, $181; majors, $169; captains, $115.50; first lieutenants, $105.50; and second lieutenants, $105.50. Other line and staff officers drew an average of about $15 per month more. Pay for one, two, and three star generals was $315, $457, and $758, respectively."

He finished his letter with talk of home and the weather and his unending love for Roby and baby:
"...The Springfield folks must be in the marrying Order considerable there now [.] It look very much like rain & I am afraid that it will be a long storm & a heavy one ~ now write me soon & kiss the baby for me & tell him not to strike his mother [.] O how I would like to see him & you too but I guess if we live till spring I will be home ~ I hope so at least ~ now remember me to all so good bye [.]

Yours with Love
P R Woodcock"

Being that I'm a little behind in my posts, I will continue tomorrow with his last two letters of 1862 -- December 11th and then one on the 20th!

Hope to see you then!


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