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 22, 2015

No Longer Dreaming at White Oak

"March 24 Thursday

It is very pleasant today the snow is tapering off fast, if there were maple trees here we could make sugar nice, it is just the weather for it ~"

That's how Philip started the next section of his letter of March 23-24, 1863.  Still hunkered down in winter camp he wrote to Roby about numerous things and his happiness at having received his pay is evident in a moment:

"We were paid off this morning.  I believe I will risk $10.00 this [time] now you must write to me as soon as you get it for I shall be anxious to know of its safe arrival ~ I have a nice $20.00 bill it looks so nice.  I would like to send it but I am afraid too. (sic)"

I thought for a comparison, I'd look up the value of $20 in 1863 vs. 2015.  Would you believe depending on the "measuring worth", meaning what it is used for, it came up at somewhere between $309 to over $40,000!  Here's a simple chart: Measuring Worth 

That now makes sense about why he was so anxious to send it via mail.  Continue reading to see what he does about it:

"I dont know whether it is best have to have any Photographs taken or not. I guess I will however I will see tomorrow ~ about selling my Revolver if you get a good chance sell it if you want to ~ I may never want to use it & if I do I can get more ~ you ought to get as much as $12.00 for it but you can get $7.00 or 10.  I [illegible]  will be as much as you think it is worth ~ I have got expert in pistol shooting now. I can shoot an inch cane in a short distance every time ~ I shall keep gaining every day. I have decided not to send my money by mail but I have sent you $20. by check to Capt Chrenkites (?) father. He probably will notify you where you can get it probably at a Bank in Cooperstown ~ should he have have (sic) an opportunity to send it to you he will probably do that ~ But I must close."

 After discussing finances he turns the letter to other things war related:
 "I do not know anything as to the time we shall open a Campaign probably before Aug though.  we are agoing to commence target Shooting again this Spring. That will be fun for us still if I had my own way I never would shoot another cartridge. I dont like it ~ Powder dont smell good to us in cold blood..."

Wise words...he continues with talk of other regiments and his unhappiness:

"I have got to make out a Requisition for Clothing & must close this up ~ The boys that went home  into Colored Regts and still home & maybe wont get back in the field again. I believe I was foolish in not going ~ I could not get in a worse place than I am now. I would rather serve 5 years in a Negro Regt than one here..."

And closes up the letter with:

"Now write me immediately. Love to all ~ A kiss for you Roby.  Tell Georgie that I will shoot all the Rebels I see that shoots at me.                                         Love me as ever,  I remain
Your faithful husband
Phil R Woodcock
Write Soon   
Oh, and that post script written upside-down?  It reads:

"To bring out the color of George(s) Book (?) which I enclose you must oil it or boil it in coffee. That will make it the color of Fathers Pipe it will show the grain by simply wetting it" 

Yep, that's what it says...not sure what he means!

I promise to keep posting if you keep reading...

Until next time!



  1. Could that postscript refer to BOOTS instead of BOOK? I recall that as a kid some of my friends would treat their new leather baseball mitts with boiled coffee.

    1. I think you're right! Boots makes much more sense ~ thanks!