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, 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!

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