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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Back to 1863

"I see he takes after his father..."

The month of October deemed to be a difficult one for me to find time to write, but I'm back and hopefully will carve time out of my days for a return to my original project...bringing Philip to life for all of you readers.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

I'm headed back to resume the daily letters starting back at February 9, 1863's continuation. (Please see my post from August 29 for the first part of the letter.)  Philip's regiment was encamped for the winter at White Oak Church in Virginia. He had just mentioned that he felt the Rebel army fought better then the Union soldiers and then his letter turned to something more important to him...his son Georgie:

"I am glad that little Georgie is so smart his Aunt Martha brags very highly of him she says he cant be beat around there [,] I see he takes after his father ~ I would like to come home & give him a Military Education but never mind wait till I get those shoulder Straps on this..."  (Meaning a promotion I believe?)

"I will come home unless my chances for a still higher promotion are good then I shall always stay in the Army for without bagging I am considered a good military scholar & a good Soldier[.] I used to think that when I got in battle I would not be very brave but it is right the other way[,] I have never been very badly scared at the bullets ~ yet though when we were across at Fredericksburgh & engaged with the pickets ~ I did not expect to get out of it alive or unhurt & it seems almost a miracle that I did but I went in with a firm resolve to do all I could & that God would take care of me & he did for he brought me out all safe & sound thanks be to his mercy."

I wish I could end right at that strong statement of his personal faith, but he continues the letter on,  with the same no-nonsense and honest appraisal of his situation:

"Yesterday seemed the most like Sunday that I have have (sic) seen we had not anything to do & it was so pleasant & quiet there was no services & no parades nothing but morning inspection & that was shorter than usual we dont drill any more now ~ it is either stormy or else very muddy that prevents it. Do you hear anything that our Regiment is not mustered into the United States service & that we cant get our pay[?] ~ that is all the talk here & over 2/3 of the Regt believes it I cant think it possible though we were not mustered like the rest of the Regts that came out[,]  a good many of our boys get letters from home that they cant be held if they do desert[,] only for New York States service there may be something in it there seems to be a difficulty somewheres & our officers try to keep it from us but [illegible here] will out[.] If you send another box I want some little tracts & books put in & papers that I can distribute amongst the boys they can get no reading here & they fairly jump to see a newspaper & Sunday school paper ~ I enclose to you a description of a march which is perfect ~ only that it makes it a little more pleasant than it really is but it is a pretty good thing after all. Now write soon & dont forget me. Kiss Georgie & remember yourself also write immediately[.]

Yours P R Woodcock"

P.S. In the middle of the previous page, he added a post script: "I forgot to tell you we are all well[.] There has been a new order in regard to Express boxes so dont send untill I tell you how to direct it. I am getting so fat I can hardly stir...."

Somehow I doubt that, but it made me smile when I turned the page upside-down and read it!

Next post~ from February 15th, a heartbreaking sacrifice...

Hope to see you then!

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