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, November 19, 2014

What's in a "Likeness"?

My great-great grandfather's last letter written in February of 1863 was four pages long and detailed how he was going to have his "likeness" taken in his uniform.  I'm assuming that is the picture you see positioned on the front page of my Blog.  (I've purposely left in spelling errors that were in this letter.)

Here is that letter:

"Camp near White Oak Church
Feb 16th 1863

My Dear Wife

     I received yours of the 8th the other morning + was glad to hear that you was well &c I have a letter most finished that I have been writing to Aby but it is a sort of a history & discription (sic) of things around here that I thought would interest him but it takes several days to write it & I thought I would send this off first ~ but his will be forthcoming in a day or two & the length of it will more than make up for the delay[.]

I am agoing to have my likeness taken day after tomorrow & will send it home immediatly (sic) & then you can see your soldier husband with his rusty old uniform on but I feel more as if there was more honor in that than if I was clean & shining for it shows active service & that I never have fell out & always been with My Company through thick & thin..."

I wondered about that statement and the meaning behind it, then I kept reading and realized how important it was to Philip to not desert:

 "Well we have at last been paid off.  Our Boys here got so mutinous & dissatisfied that I mistrust our staff[.]  officers  used their influence to get us paid off ~ it has efficiently stopped the grumbling[.]  I think this whole Regiment feels better[,] Why the thing had got so bad that the Lieutenant Colonel prepared an article & read to us all to show that tho U.S. could hold us ~ Still there seems to be some difficulty about the muster though it does not amount to much[.]  I think if they pay us promptly but a good many of our deserters have been released who took oath that they had never been mustered into the US service although they had been courtmartialled (sic) & sentence passed most of our deserters have been picked up & brought back though they had got beyond Baltimore[.]  So far nothing has been done with them & probably never will though they were not paid[.]  Bob Crisman & Isaac Whipple were brought in ~ "

Desertion was a common thing among both sides of the war.  To read about it further, please click on the link: Desertion 

The paragraph ends with hope from home:

"I have not got your box yet ~ the teams have not been after them but I think in 2 or 3 days I shall get it I hope so for I want it bad..."

The section written on the 16th finishes there and he continues it on the 19th which will be in my next post.

Just remember that proud face in his "rusty" uniform...

Philip R. Woodcock

Hope to see you for my next entry!

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