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, July 21, 2014

Fredericksburgh, December 1862

"...remember me & if I should not live through these fights take good care of Baby..."

The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought from December 11 - 15th, 1862.  The 121st along with many others followed Burnside down to Fredericksburg. Philip wrote to Roby on December 11 and then again on the 15th. Here is his letter of the 11th in it's entirety:

"Thursday Dec 11/62

My Dearest Wife

I received your most welcome & kind Letter & Photograph 2 or 3 nights ago & was glad to hear from you & that you [are] well ~ I am writing to you under different circumstances than I expected to -- We were in nice warm quarters & had fixed up for the winter but had to leave them ~ we marched 16 miles one day & the next it commenced raining which soon turned to snow ~ in the midst of it we were ordered back 5 miles to Belle Plains Landing to do guard & fatigue duty such as unload boats &c ~ we arrived there about dark ~ the now was then about 2 in [inches] deep & mud about 4 in [inches] in deep & we were ordered to pitch tents in that (I tell you Roby it was rough) but we finally went in the woods a little & found a spot that was a little more comfortable & after a long time we succeeded in getting a good fire which we kept up untill morning ~ it took all day next day to get the Regt together ~ they were so badly scattered = the next day we had to change camp again & pitch in the snow & wet & Sunday we changed camp again & went into a pine woods & we were comfortable ~ yesterday we had to leave that & to day we are close upon Fredericksburgh which is being terribly bombarded ~ withing a few rods of me lies a heavy battery of ours that are playing into the Rebs pretty lively ~ their Camps batteries Earth Works are in plain sight & an immense force there is too -- We are not the reserve any more ~ we form the Left Grand Division ~ now I will tell you as near as I can of our position - we are below Fredericksburgh a mile or 2 which is burning ~ the Rebs are just across the River in immense force - our Army here is in great force [.] We got here one o'clock & may stay untill morning & may not ~ we have got to cross that pontoon bridge & whip out Jackson ~ whether we can or not 2 or 3 day will determine ~ we expect to be called into tomorrow perhaps to night [.] I wish you could hear the Cannonading that I have heard to day [.] I tell you it is terrific ~ the bombardment of Fredericksburgh is awfull I fell you ~ there has been no infantry fighting as yet ~ I guess but will be soon ~ I tell you Roby there will be terrible times here the next few days if the Rebs don't Run - It may be our good luck not to be engaged in this but we expect to if ~ if God sees fit to spare my life I will write you again & let you know hoe things go with us[.] We have a big force between us and the bridge - George of whom I have heard of several times lately is close by but I have not seen him just now[.] I must close ~ give my love to all my friends ~ if nothing happens I will write you again in a day or 2 [.] I am well except a bad cold ~ now remember me & if I should not live through these fights take good care of Baby but good bye [.] I am called out[.] God bless you & I hope to write you again[.]


P R Woodcock"

For me, his most chilling statement is the one that comes at the very end--"I am called out..."

Please join me tomorrow for his last letter of 1862 and to see if Philip survives the battle!

Hope to see you then!

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