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 7, 2014

Nearly Lost!

Philip's letter that began on July 1st continued until July 8th when he finally had the opportunity to send it on to Roby.  Today will be the conclusion of that letter and it will finish up my "Gettysburg" chapter.  He wrote in his
diary on July 7th, 1863 that he had "marched till 1/2 past 12 last night in the Rain over the mountain..." and that he had been out of rations "12 days & was some hungry [,] had to Buy Flour~" and during that march south, still looking for Brother George, he stopped to write to Roby again:

        " On the march Emmettsburgh Md
                          July 7th Tuesday

I shall continue this letter hoping I can send it out before many days [.] Although I am tired yet I feel good [.] I have just seen George & found him all right again he was not wounded nor hurt as reported [.] His Regt just passed us & I had a short talk with him ~ We should feel very thankfull to God for this great Blessing ---" (George is OK !)

"Since I wrote you the other sheet we have had 2 or 3 sharp brushes with the Enemy but I have come out of them all safe & sound ~ It don't seem to a soldier as if there was any prospect of his getting home but as I pass through one after another Battle I get encouraged & think I shall see you again ~ Sunday July 5 we started slowly after the Rebs our Brigade in front & found they had gone
that is the most of them [.]We went very carefully & sure so as to avoid getting into a scrape ~ we found over 7000 wounded Rebs & some of our men what they were complelled to leave behind [.] They made a stand at a large Bluff but we did not press them very close & they still hurried on ~ some of them staid behind & built breastworks  with rails to keep us back untill they can get their trains along ~ we dare not attack them very sharp because they are pretty spunky ~ about 5 o'clock we were relieved & sent back to rear & then started on the march for here ~ we travelled nearly all night & got here very tired just daylight ~ we are trying to get their flank now ~ I feel so good about George [.] I never was so surprised in my life as I was to see him [.] I supposed he was dead ~ But God has spared him to us again but we will have to march again [.] I will write when we stop [.]"

His joy is obvious over finding his older brother alive and well.  He did not finish his letter until the 8th where he, exhausted, wrote from Boonsborough, MD:  

"Well we have at last got to another short stopping place after one of the hardest & most trying march ever made by this Army ~ After leaving Emmittsburgh we proceeded towards Frederic City untill within 9 miles of them when we struck off over the range of Hamburgh Mountains
to get into the Valley of Middletown ~ we commenced to ascend at dark and of all the hard rough times that night was the worst [.] The road was not so good nor near so wide as the Sedge Road in front of Fathers house just as you pass over the Ledge. It was so dark we could not see the man ahead of us & the road was full of stones & sometimes we would have to wade through deep creeks & there was all the mud that could be there ~ we trudged on and on hour after hour without resting ~ it rained hard & so very dark sometimes standing still in cold water because it was blocked up ahead ~ we got near the top at midnight & there was only 40 of us left in the Regiment ~ The rest had been tired out & fell out & laid down ~ the Colonel then told us to take care of ourselves & stay till morning..."

Think about that--they marched through the rain, over a mountain, through a creek and mud, hour after the dark.  And then the unthinkable happens, they get lost...:

"I marched the Company a little ahead of the rest to get a good place to lay & we laid down before morning ~ it rained very hard & we lay in it about 3 inches deep [.] O how wet & Cold I got [.] I would have given every thing I had but wife & boy to have been out of the service then ~ when the Regiment started in the morning they could not find me nor the Company & they started on ~ we did not wake up till 1/2 past 10 [.]
I found the Regiment gone [.] I was some scared but I ordered the men out & we started on ~ we went about a mile in the Rain & then I stopped them & we built big fires & got dry ~ Our Rations had run out 2 days before & we had nothing but some flour we had bought with Company [illegible here, I continue] travel before we could get any & we was in the worst part of Maryland on the Hamburgh Tract Settlement ~ we mixed our flour with water & fried it in a spider and we made quite a breakfast ~ there was some families there in that wilderness but they were very destitute ~ we had got dry & warm when the Captain & Lieutenant came up ~  they were not woke up either & they see that I had gone on ~ we then went all together & found the Regiment at Middletown Finally found! ~ we stayed there last night & had a good rest & it did not rain for a wonder ~ we started 5 o'clock this morning & came to Boonsborough 7 miles ~ the Rebs are fast retreating ~ we can't hardly keep up with them ~ "

And finally, Philip eats well this time:

we have enough to eat now ~ we drew Rations yesterday ~ Sergeant Armstrong & I took dinner to day together [.] I will tell you what we had ~ we picked some Raspberries & he found 15 Eggs in a nest on the ground [.] I guess they were quails Eggs but after we had them eaten the boys said they were the night hawks Eggs but we did not care they were good so we had Coffee Hard Tack Bacon Eggs & Berry Sauce ~ I have had all the Cherries I can eat today [.] I have eaten myself full [.] I wish you had some [.] We are here drawn up in Line of Battle [.]
I don't see any Rebs but they are ahead of us ~ it has got so smoky to day that we don't see a mile ~ the report is they have burnt 8 acres of wagons Trains to save them from falling to us ~ we have taken a large lots of Prisoners ~ Bruce has been taken ~ tell Nancy not to worry he is all right he will be paroled as soon as they can take him to Richmond & then he will get home maybe..."

And finishing up this very long series of letters, he concludes with:

"I now have a chance to send this [.] I got a letter from you one from Martha last night ~ Nubern got Rosettes & Marthas Photograph last night. I shall write you again soon ~ don't wait for me write very often pray for us [.] I hope now to be home soon if the war closes [.] Vicksburgh is ours [.] Love to all & one sweet kiss to you & Baby [.] Love me as ever[.] 

                                                               P R Woodcock"

So, there you have it, Philip and George both survive the Battle of Gettysburg! 

Tomorrow I return to 1862 to continue his letters & diaries and my daily date in history!  

Hope to see you then!

No comments:

Post a Comment