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

Saturday, June 11, 2016

This Project is Larger Than Life...

"I had a narrow escape this morning by a shot..."

My personal, comfortable, 2016 life has nothing to compare with that statement above.  I realize I'm moving slowly on this project, but with each reading of letters, I am so taken in by his words that it takes me awhile to get through them.  I decided to post a few pictures of just exactly how much I've got to go through--

1864 Letters

Some of May 1863 Letters

My working file of 1863 letters

...numerous three-ring binders full of Philip's letters (copies of course, the originals are being kept in a safe deposit box, climate controlled to keep them in good shape!)

Every time I go to the next letter, this 
is what I face! There is another large binder with 1865's letters and numerous folders with his roll call diaries and personal diaries.  Philip was a prolific writer!  The excerpt above was taken from his letter of May 2, 1863 written on the battlefield in Fredricksburg, VA.  He is "under arms" and entrenched, but still wrote to Roby.  Fearing he might not make it through, he signs it:  "Hoping I shall live through it I bid you good Bye.  God bless and keep you one kiss for you and Georgie.  Yours ever Love, P.R. Woodcock"
May 1863 and some diaries

Philip's Diary (one of about 5 or 6)

Keep joining me for this writing journey!

See you next time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finishing What I Started

I definitely have a problem with finishing up projects ~ uncompleted crafts, household chores and repairs, gardening, music...I could go on.  That being said, I'm finally sitting down to finish up Philip's letter from April 6/7, 1863.  Hope you enjoyed the picture of Roby I posted previously!

And now, the continuation:

"I wrote a letter to Wm Fitch to day (sic) Why dont Sarah and Father write to me (?) I only get letters from you so I guess you are the only one that thinks anything of me and that is one great consolation to a soldier to know that he has a loving wife at home and a boy who would love him if he knew anything of him ~I wonder if he realizes that he has a papa any other than the one that is shut up in the drawer."

How poignant that is...then he goes on to talk about a special visitor:

" The weather has been fine today. We had battalion Drill this afternoon While we were on picket our Division was reviewed by Gen Hooker and tomorrow we are to have another one and by no less a personage than the President of the UStates.  Old Abe, and you may believe we are agoing to have a great time too(,) we are anxious to have a sight of him again. He went up in a baloon near us to day and took a good view of the Rebs but I must close"

And various afterthoughts:

"  I think I shall write to J.D. Peck to night..."
" Frank Ray was over to see me to day..."
"I heard that Jim Van Horne had  been discharged but Phil was coming up with the Regt"

Continuing on:

"We have a new order to day Every man has to shave his whiskers off but have a moustache (sic) if he has none, cultivate one, I think we shall have a battle here soon though if our corps lies here we shall not be engaged in it directly but I guess we shall have our hands full for while the rest of the Army goes up the River and attacks the Enemy, Right and Rear we will have to defend our present position at all hazards and perhaps attack them in their present front ~ but time will soon tell but I must close.  Write soon as you get this write often Love me as ever Kiss little Georgie Remember me to [Ward or Mark] way tell him to write &c Remember me to all so good bye for this time

From PR Woodcock  "

That's the end of that letter!  Onto the next~ thanks for being a patient reader.

See you next time!



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dearest Roby Revealed

I've a new account on and upon digging through, found a picture of my great great grandmother, none other than Roby Jane Pierce Woodcock who this entire blog is devoted to!  What a find!  I was tickled to see my grandmother's handwriting on the bottom of it also...she was the true historian in the family.  I'm thankful to her for keeping all of these letters and pictures through the years...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

153 years ago today...

"...however much I think of rank and promotion I think more of my family..."

I'm back.  Fittingly enough, I'm entering Philip's letter from April 6, 1863 today.  I'm hopeful that I can finish out the year of 1863 matching our own calendar.  Then it's off to the publisher!  (I hope!)

Philip was still encamped near White Oak Church and although hearing fighting in the distance, he and his troops were told to wait.  He sounds homesick and wistful in this letter and writes of his fear that his little boy George might not even know him.  Please read on...

"Camp near White Oak Church
April  7 6 ~ 1863

My Dearest Wife

I sit down with pleasure to write you again I received yours of the 25 th last  last night and was certainly expecting you would look for me last week but I have got good news to tell you, our Corps is a going to remain here where it is and they have resumed giving furloughs and I shall get home now in a few days.  I hope so at least for I was badly disappointed from  when the order came the other day stopping the furloughs ~ I can now see my Little Wife and darling boy.  I can hardly wait untill the time comes ~ would you like to see me [?] If not I will stay if it was not for you and my little boy I believe I would join the regular service and always be a Soldier but I would not leave you for all the honor and glory a soldier can possibly obtain but however much I think of rank and promotion I think more of my family..."

That paragraph which is actually the entire first page of the letter just broke my heart.  How tough it must have been to be so far from home, never knowing if your spouse would even welcome you back there?  

" We have been off on Picket Duty 3 days again just returned in time for we had yesterday a heavy snow storm but it is going off fast it has been so warm here some days that you could almost see grass grow.  Trees are budding and leaving out ~ I have been out drilling some men this morning that have been sick and had forgot the Manual of Arms ~ it is too bad that I lost my money, I worked too hard for that ~ [not sure what that is about as there is no more mention of it] About 2000 Cavalry passed here on a reconnaissance across the river about 3 hours ago and I see that they have got themselves into a mess for they are fighting terribly about 4 miles from here but I guess they will get out of it without our help, we cannot see them but we can hear it plain enough ~ I dont know the reason of our Army Corps remaining here but I believe it is agoing to the 1st Corps ~ the one George is in I heard had gone up the river and was already across with Gen Slocums forces how true it is I dont know but I earnestly hope this will be the death blow of the Rebellion ~ Sergt Armstrong and I was going to the 76th today but we heard they had moved so we gave it up ~ "

I'll stop there for today.  This letter was actually dated April 7th, then the date was crossed through and the 6th was written over it so I'll continue tomorrow!

Please join me again!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Slush & Snow on March 31, 1863

"...such days as these we call our days ~ pleasant ones we call Hooker's days..."

I'm back now the holidays are over!  At my last post I thought I was done with all of March 1863 but upon going through my files, I found another letter mistakenly tucked into the back of it.  This one is dated March 31, 1863:

"Camp near White Oak Church
Tuesday Mch 31st 1863

Dearest Roby

Having nothing very particular to do I thought I would pen you a few lines and send you a small book which you will find enclosed. It is as you see a book for Soldiers and I dont see why it should not be for Soldiers wives too and it may do you some good ~ I have such a load now in my knapsack that I don't believe I can carry many books so I send this one home to you ~ The Gilt Picture on the outside represents a scene in front of a Colonels tent ~ it is got up pretty nice rather nicer than the reality such a tent as that is almost as pleasant and comfortable as a house to live in ~~~

It is raining very hard this morning and is decidedly unpleasant.  Last night when we went to bed it was bright moonlight but this morning you can imagine our surprise to  on turning out for Roll Call to find about 3 inches of Slosh and snow and Raining hard ~ such days as these we call our days, pleasant days ones we call Hooker's days . for we know that as soon as we get fine weather old Hooker will have us digging out of here in a hurry and consequently I find the majority of our boys would rather see Rainy weather and muddy Roads than pleasant weather so great is the dread of moving but it must get pleasant soon spring is so far advanced ~ 

We had another wedding here 3 or 4 days ago one of the 16th Regt NYS married another pretty girl near here ~ I got a glimpse of as pretty a girl as I have seen in Virginia yesterday while we were on battallion (sic) drill in a little house near our Camp but they are very shy, they are afraid of the Yankees as they call us.  The woman who lives in the house has not heard from her husband in 16 months he then came to see her he is in the Rebel Army has been in 2 years all the families in our lines cannot hear from their husbands and brothers no way as there is no mail communication.

I hope in this you have got my money for I dont want that lost.  Mrs Cuppernell got hers safe ~ I see by her last letter that she paid you that 9/- she owed you. I am glad of it ~ I have not seen nubern this morning but he will be over soon as he comes to see me very often ~ I tell you he makes a dood Soldier and I think a good deal of him, when he and I come home we calculate to wear a sword and shoulder straps if nothing happens.  He is expecting a letter from Rosette every day.  Now I want to ask you a question, does Rosette think much of him (?) I dont know hardly what to think and I hate to ask him ~ I dont think she could do any better if she should hunt the whole town of Warren over nothing would please me better than to see him Uncle Asa Son in Law  and I think he will yet but I will have to close this letter and go after some wood as it is slacking up a little ~~ as I was undoing that towel you sent me in my box I found two white cloths ~ I guess you must have meant them for Dish Cloths ~ I couldn't think of anything else ~ Well we never wash Dishes in the Army at least I never heard of its being done that is amongst the Soldiers, the officer have theirs washed I believe but we merely scrape them off and let them go at that ~ I tell you Roby its well that you aint down here with me, your little stomach would get turned agood many times untill you got used to it ~~ 

If it clears off to day Sergt Armstrong and myself will go over to the 76th tomorrow I guess.  I am agoing to stew up some of those berries to day and make some sauce.  I have quite a chunk of Mart Ways Cheese yet ~ I am saving that till we march and eat it with Hard Tack, give my respects to him and to all the neighbors(,) write soon Love me as ever kiss little Georgie for me make him be a good boy Do you suupose he would be afraid of me if I should home or aint he afraid of strangers (?) Yours with Love PR Woodcock
Write Soon"

True to form, there is a post script written up the side of the first page:

"Uncle Asa nor Martha have answered my letter yet, Rill is in Canada now, Sergt Armstrong sends love"

And THAT finishes up March of 1863!

Until next time...please keep reading!