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, February 25, 2015

Pure Love

Because I started this blog with the intent to show the great depth of love shared between my great great grandparents, I thought it fitting to put a small excerpt from his letter of January 1st, 1865 into a separate post.  Here is the paragraph that stood out to me so much from that letter:

"I have done nothing but think of you all the last week I did have a notion to apply for a Short furlough but it would not pay ~ Maybe Phil Van Horne & I will send for our better halves this winter although it is doubtfull we shall have [action or a clean?] operation[s] all the time probably & I am sorry you are homesick although is a pleasure to know it is on my account, it shows me that you bear an affection as strong as my own ~ Roby I cannot be too thankfull that I ever saw you[,] You have always been a blessing to me[.]  I do not think that no other woman could ever gained the influence over me for my good that you have and by Gods help I will try and keep worthy of you ...I can never regret the fate that brought us together (Instead of calling it Fate I shall call it Providence) I cherish the hope that you Love me and one another will never wear out and I trust that many years of happiness yet awaits us in which a life time of devotion will repay you for the Love you have shown me..."

I have absolutely nothing to add to that speaks volumes.

Please join me again for the end of the letter (that has taken me 4 posts to get done!)

Hope to see you then!

It's a New 1865

"Last night we had a great time in our sleeping room..."

If you had the chance to read my previous post, you most likely saw the first part of Philip's letter to Roby of January 1, 1865.  He was still in the hospital at that time after being wounded back in September 1864.  He described the New Year's celebration of that day:

"Last night we had a great time in our sleeping room[,] I was down town attending the League Council (?) & came in about 8 oclock[.] There are 12 of us sleeping here and so we commenced making those that had gone to bed get up & then tore up our beds & scattered them about the Room & there we forbid anyone going to bed till after 12 oclock ~ Our sheets & Blankets were scattered bad & we had a pleasant time getting things together again & then we had a sit around the stove waiting till midnight struck then we would get to bed but had to get up again right away.  I have not had any answer to my letter telling you of my resolution to go to the front ~ You must not think hard of me for going I sincerely think it is best I should go ~ Nubern is back & has been several days & I ought to have been some time ago[.]  I think I shall send home my Diary today I have no further use for it ~ The last 3 months are pretty dull ~" (Sitting safe in the hospital healing up for three months...dull?)

"We shall have an Inspection today I guess as we had none yesterday[.]  I can imagine what a good time Georgie is having today that is if he got a present last night[.] I trust next New Years I can play Santa Claus with him ~ I suppose ~ you are having fine sleighing now & having Merry time &c &c[.]  It is the time of year for Donations & Mile Societys (sic)  &c ~~"

He sounds homesick again to me in that paragraph.  The letter continues later in the evening:

"9 oclock P.M.

I have been so busy in getting ready that it is now 20 minutes past 9 & a good deal of writing to do yet[.]  I have not got my Transportation though I have not been able to see Dr. Mintzer tonight[.]  I did not go to church as I was too busy ~ I have just been trying to eat a fiver of Bread & Butter & because the rest of the Boys had none thye have been trying to turn my stomach by calling to my mind old Rotten Meals &c &c but I have served too long in the army for that ~ "

The handwriting becomes very difficult to read at this point so I'll do my best...

"I have written (?) to [Chief or Corps Con....] tonight I have also sealed up my Diary to send[.] I shall have to send it without Stamp as I have but 3 or 4[,] Maybe I will put one on ~ It is quite cold tonight ~ I shall not be able to send my Photograph now but there are probably some Artists in the Army & I can then get one ~ I am sorry as I had such a pretty Frame for a large Picture[.]  My (??) I gave away to the Chief Carpenter I had set some Bone in & put a ring of German Silver around it[.]  If we had been paid off I should have sent a box of goods home but as it is I shall carry what Clothing I can to the Regt ~ I have Phil Van Hornes Shirts all safe & he can soon have them ~ This is a pretty long letter & I shall soon run out for something to write.  I am in such a hurry. I am thinking it will be hard to read ~ " (That is an understatement 150 years later!!) 

At this point, the letter turns to a beautiful tribute to Roby and his love for her.  I've decided to put that into a separate post, so please look for that paragraph there.  

Please come back to read the conclusion of Philip's New Year's Eve party of January 1st, 1865!

Hope to see you then!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Keeping Track

I thought I'd start today with a military record of Philip that my grandmother (Roby Woodcock Abercrombie) wrote in 1972.  It's a great record of his career and it has certainly helped me in keeping track of the dates & battles.  After that, there is a small excerpt from his first letter of 1865 with more to follow in the upcoming Countdown to Surrender!

The Military Record of Philip R. Woodcock
b. 1840 - d. 1913
Enlisted as Private July 23, 1862, Springfield, N.Y.
August 1862- Promoted to Corporal at Camp Schuylor Mohawk, NY
February 22, 1865 - Promoted and commissioned 1st Lieutenant 
(Transferred to command of Co. "I", same regiment.)
June 25, 1865 - Received Honorable Discharge by General Order of War Department.

List of Highlights of Engagements:

  • Sept. 16-17, 1862 ~Antietam, Maryland
  • December 1862 ~ Fredericksburg, VA
  • May 3, 1863 ~ St. Marye's Heights & Salem Church, VA
  • July 2-3, 1863 ~ Gettysburg, PA
  • November 7, 1863 ~ Rappahannock Station, VA
  • November 28, 1863 ~ Mine Run, VA (Orange County)
  • May 5 & 6, 1864 ~ Wilderness, VA (Orange County)
  • May 10-12, 1864 ~ Spottsylvania, VA
  • June 1, 1864 ~ Cold Harbor, VA
  • July 1, 1864 ~ Petersburg, VA
  • August 21, 1864 ~ Charlestown VA (Shenandoah Valley)
  • September 19, 1864 ~ Winchester, VA
  • September 22, 1864 ~ Fisher's Hill VA (wounded - 4 months inactive)
  • February 4, 1865 ~ Petersburg, VA
  • February 6, 1865 ~ Battle Hatch's Run, VA
  • April 2-3, 1865 ~ Petersburg, VA
  • April 9, 1865 ~ Present at Surrender at Appomattox
(Also in 14 minor engagements and skirmishes)


As the war wound down in 1865, my great-great grandfather wrote 41 letters home to Roby (at least, that's what we have from that shoebox of letters!)  He wrote on January 1, 1865 from York, PA a long four page, legal sized paper, letter to her.  He ruminates on this being his last New Year's in the Army:

"York Pa Jan 1st/65

My Dear Wife

According to promise I write you again today I dont know but you will receive both of these at one time but I dont care[.]  I saw Dr Mintzer today & he said I coud go to my Regiment tomorrow morning so I will soon bid good bye in Little York Hospital where I have been bumming long enough..." (Please see my post from Oct. 3rd to detail his injuries.  He was in the hospital for approximately 3-4 months.) "It is New Years day & I would a good deal rather spend it with you than here[.]  We had a Stew for Dinner but nothing extra ~ This will be the last New Years I probably shall spend in the Army.  I hope so at any rate but know (sic) one but God can tell how or where we will be next New Years.  I hope we shall have a happy & pleasant one & be reunited again never to be seperated (sic) on earth.  The weather is cool with a little sleighing (not sure if that is the correct word.  It would seem to mean in context "sleeting".) I had no pass & could not go to church today but I shall go to night if nothing serious happens ~ The Doctor did not hardly fancy letting me go but when I made my statement he gave his consent readily ~ They had strange doing here in the street last night[.]  It sounded like 4th of July ~ Everybody was shooting & firing off revolvers to shoot the old year out ~ a practice which is in vogue here to a great extent, it sounded like skirmishing ~ I am agoing to write to Capt Cronkite today to let him know I soon shall be there ~ I hope I shall get that commission imediatly (sic)[.]"

I'll stop there for today.  Come back for the continuation of his New Year and see how the wounded men celebrated in the Sleeping Room!

Hope to see you then!