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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 1, 1863

The afternoon of the 1st was a Wednesday in 1863.  Philip noted in his diary that it was "misty & Cloudy but cleared up during the day".  His regiment had a much needed rest day after marching so many miles previously and after getting a piece of pie and some bread, Philip continued his letter (written under yesterday's poem) to his dearest Roby:

                                               "2 o'clock P.M. July 1st Wednesday

We did not go this morning & will write a few more lines as it has been so long since I have written you ~ I sometimes find myself wishing we could hurry up a battle & I could get wounded & you could come down & see me ~ but that is foolish & you must not tell any one[.] I may get something worse than a slight wound but we are so far up north now that I hate to go back right away ~"

His impatience for the battle to be done is evident and he sounds somewhat homesick to me at this point being so close to New York State after several years away. 

"I tell you the sight of civilization and good pleasant homes makes us wish war would close [.] The weather has been cloudy a good many days but it seems now to be clearing up ~ we are resting out nice here today ~
the Boys are out foraging & bringing back Bread Butter milk & various other things but I can not get anything ~ I have no money [.] The Boys get things reasonable here and don't have to pay 50 cts for a Canteen or one qt of milk but get it for 5 to 10 cts per quart & bread they bring great family Loaves for 2/- & Pies in Proportion ~"  

A bargain for 1863!  His letter continues with an admittedly confusing passage to me for I cannot find any mention of this previously:

"I am sorry Georgie don't want a little Black Brother for I have adopted one ~ our little Johnny has finally concluded to be my boy ~ but I could only get him by showing him some nice white Babies and good looking women & then telling him about you and Georgie as we marched along & then I see a little Babys carriage & told him about ours & that fetched him [.] He says you won't have to work any when we get home ~ he will bring all the wood & water & he has learned to cook & will take care of the Baby [.]"

OK, so this is the time I wish my grandmother were still alive to ask her about this but I can only surmise that he must have had a young boy following him about during the march north.  If you wish to research this common occurrence during the war here is one link of many: Contraband (American Civil War) He continues:

"The Rebs are making a big thing ahead of us ~ they are destroying immense stores of Property & the farmers are driving all their Cattle & horses into our Lines ~ I was pleased the other day to see in one village we passed through ~ they did not know we were coming & when our Column arrived in sight the women all snatched up their Children & run ~ the men got their horses & cattle & drove them in the woods ~ they thought we was the Rebel Army ~ as soon as they see we was the Union Soldiers they came back rejoicing ~ they are not afraid of us only they are afraid we will go away..."
 Such fear in the towns! "They are fighting in Pennsylvania today ~ we can hear the Cannonading plain [.] We shall probably have a heavy battle in a very few days about next Sunday I think ~ I hope old Lee's Army will get Bagged this time & will if they will only manage it right but we have lost all confidence in our Generals but we can fight good in Pennsylvania [.] The 6th corps is the Reserve Corps this Summer but we have some awfull hard marching to do ~ "

Then he switches gears and talks Cherry Pie and Brother George:

"I just had a piece of Cherry Pie that one of our Corporals gave me [.] I do not know where George is but I trust God will spare him to come home ~when you write him write upon the subject of Religion ~ it will do him good ~ he thinks a great deal of you & you can impress him with a sense of his obligations to God [.] I have an opportunity to send this today at 5 o'clock so I will have to send this right away ~  I have just been issuing 60 rounds of Ammunition to the company [.]

And the need to build up his anger and courage he writes: 

"I hope we shall each kill 60 Rebs before we get into Virginia again ~ Our boys feel pretty good & we are almost spoiling to show the Rebs they have no business up here ~ I think we shall soon strike off between Baltimore & Philadelphia ~ we are a good way above Baltimore now -& bearing that way. I don't know when I can send you again another Letter but you must write just as often [.] I will send that Stiletto but I am ashamed of the Lettering but it was finished after we got marching orders & in the dark so if it is not so nice I will make it so when I get home [.] Now Love me as well as ever write often & soon [.] Remember me to all [.] Kiss Georgie & save one for yourself ~ Pray for the Soldiers & your husband ~ may God grant we meet again[.] 

                                                        Yours with much Love
                                                         P R Woodcock"

With the final words, I sense a fear of not surviving the battle of Gettysburg ahead for him.  Join me tomorrow and on the 4th of July for his letter from Gettysburg!


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