Military Resource Center
- Camp 121st N.Y. Vols
- September 21, 1863
Since my last, we have made a short advance toward Richmond again. Our Corps lies four miles northeast of Culpepper Court House which place is occupied by our troops. We have cavalry skirmishes occasionally below Culpepper, nothing of importance however as the rebel army has crossed the Rapidan. There are quite a number of guerrillas in our rear. They were striking along our flanks on our march from New Baltimore occasionally gobbling a settler's cart or a straggler from our ranks. Before we left that place they became quite bold, our brigade being somewhat isolated from the rest of the corps, and actually made a raid one night in our camp for the purpose of capturing Gen. Bartlett whose headquarters were near the picket line. Fifteen or twenty of the boldest reached the yard he was in and fired a number of shots at the line of tents occupied by himself and staff without injuring either however. They dared not dismount to get over the fence or I guess the General would have been taken. As it was they, after firing a volley, seized the brigade flag which was beside the fence and left. We were under arms in ten minutes and on our way for the scene of action, but the guerrillas do not fancy fighting when no booty is to be gained and as I said before took our flag and left. The county was scoured for miles the next day but nothing but harmless citizens were found. A good many think these harmless citizens by day are all guerrillas at night.
We started for this place last monday, stayed at Warrenton all night, and the next day until all the stores were removed to Warrenton Junction. Then we marched to Sulphur Springs where we remained till Wednesday morning when we came through. The 3rd Corps lies joining' ours on the Culpepper road. I visited their camp as soon as possible to find out what had become of Jerome and was very glad to learn that he had escaped alive and unharmed from the storm of iron hail to which the corps was exposed when the gallant Sickles lost a leg and many of his brave band fell to rise no more. Jerome is at home having been sent for conscripts about the first of August. One of the members of his regiment told me he had married while there.
The draft I see has been enforced at last in the State of New York. I saw a list of those drafted yesterday. Harm (?) and John luckily escaped. I guess Alexander Bates and Bury (?) will be a little sort of change after paying their $300 as well as a good many others that will not come down and face the music. The weather is quite cool since the torrential (?) storm. I was on picket yesterday and day before our line faced the Blue Ridge Mountains and is about 3 miles from them. Had plenty of peaches, green corn, etc.
The army has been paid off again this week. I send you a check for what I do not need.Write soon.
- Camp 121st N.Y. Vols
- October 15, 1863
Since my last letter we have changed our position again. I believe I wrote from Stone House Mountain above Culpepper. Well, on the 5th of this month we relieved the 2nd Corps on the Rapidan River taking the front. Our camp was near Slaughter Mountain where Jackson fought with Banks in the fall of '62. The rebs were very friendly changing papers and other things on the picket line with us. Bill Bruce played several games of eucher (?) with one of them, meeting between the lines. The 2nd Corps had lots of conscripts, many of whom deserted to the enemy and one of them shot his captain before leaving, having got mad at him for something. I suppose you know the 11th and 12th Corps have gone to reinforce Rosecrans. The enemy learning this crossed the river on the 10th and endeavored to turn our right flank. We fell back to Rappahannock Station on the Alexandria railroad and offered them battle, marching back to Brandy Station to meet them on the 11th. Instead of accepting, they preferred flanking us again and started for the Bull Run Mountains via Warrenton. Not choosing to let them have everything their way we packed up and started for Bull Run also and by pretty fast marching reached the plains of Manassas about two hours before they did. The 3rd and 5th Corps here checked their advance while the 6th, 1st and 2nd took up a position at Centreville. This point was reached last night. At dusk the firing in front ceased and we were moved out toward Chantilly 30 miles where we now are. Everything is quiet this morning and as the rebs were foiled in their plans to flank us and we have a very strong position, I think it very doubtful about having a battle. On this march we have passed over the most beautiful part of Virginia I have seen. It is with few exceptions one continuous plain from the Rapidan to Manassas Junction. The whole army moved together. Columns of infantry, artillery, ambulances, pontoons and wagon trains going side by side. It was a grand sight. At one point we saw the whole wagon train of the army. It covered 300 acres. I received your letter when we were at Slaughter Mountain. Also have received three papers from you and two or three from Ellen. Wood takes a very unwise course and I am afraid will do the party more harm than good. All the peace policy that can be followed is to let the rebs know that we are fighting for the constitution and the enforcement of the laws and that they are welcome to return with all their former rights and privileges at anytime they choose. But until they do that we have nothing to offer but steel and lead. Politics are but little discussed in the army. The McClellan testimonial met with a hearty approval in most of the regiment and if viewed in a political light as an expression of the army it showed a vast majority in favor of McClellan. The authorities at Washington, as you are no doubt aware, for this reason suppressed it. Tell Ursula I have heard nothing from Josephus Bates. I think the 7th N.Y. must be mustered out of the service as all the regiments up to the 38th were two year men. I think I wrote you before that Jerome was well and home after conscripts. The money I sent home dispose of as you think best. In such a way, however as it can be obtained readily. A good mortgage would answer as they can be sold most any time. Tell Valetta and Valerie they are improving in writing finely, as well as in geography and arithmetic.
Letter of: October 15, 1863
They can use any of my books as much as they choose. If they went to the fair they must write what they see while there.
I hear this morning it was the 2nd Corps who repulsed the rebs last night at Manassas Junction. 12 o'clock and nothing stirring yet, if we do have a fight I will write immediately after.Yours,
- Camp 121st Vols.
- October 30, 1863
We still remain near Warrenton. Nothing of interest is going on in front, but in our rear the guerrillas as usual are very busy. Day before yesterday they captured a train of 20 wagons and 120 mules above New Baltimore. We have things arranged very comfortable where we are and I hope we shall stay some time. Capt. Kidder bought a small stove in the village a few days ago for five dollars which makes a decided difference in our tent these cold nights. There are 738 enlisted men in the regiment and 34 officers. There are, however, 250 men absent, sick, wounded, on detached service and leaving only 478 present for duty. These figures of course include the 245 who were transferred to our regiment from the 16th, 18th, and 32nd N.Y. Vols on the mustering out of those regiments. These 245 having been recruited after their regiments were organized their time is not out yet. Our Company has 49 men present and 14 absent, sick or on detached service. There has been 30 transferred into the Company since its organization. There has been 20 discharged for disability arising from sickness and wounds, 10 killed, 9 died with disease, 3 transferred out of the Company, and 16 deserted. So you see bullets are not the only agents by which an army is reduced. The 152nd N.Y. has been sent to the front. You remember it was raised after the 121st in the same district and have always been doing guard duty in Washington, New York and other places since its organization. It was put in the 2nd Corps and the boys find it different business from laying around in the city. I send you a photograph of Capt. Kidder also a badge of the 1st Division, 6th Corps worn by the soldiers on their caps to show where they belong. There is an execution in the 2nd Corps this afternoon of a deserter. He dug his own grave this forenoon. Took it very cool. Charles Wilsey has been transferred to the invalid corps. 'He made as good a soldier as we had in the Company even if he was small. Always kept up and was willing and ready to do his duty. In the fight also he never dodged or hung back. George Parsons also was brave as steel, marching boldly forward until he fell pierced with 4 bullets I think. He has been discharged. The boys here are well as usual. I have received no papers lately. If you are taking any beside the Journal send one occasionally. If you have no good opportunity of disposing of that money otherwise invest it in U.S. 5 + 20 bonds. I think they will be perfectly safe.Yours,
- Rappahannock Station
- November 8, 1863
Once more the 121st has met the enemy and Salem Heights is avenged. The 5th Maine , 6th Maine and our regiment charged on a line of earthwork along the east side of the Rappahannock last night, after having marched from Warrenton, and carried everything at the point of the bayonet. We captured a battery and six whole regiments of rebs. The 121st N.Y. alone took 3 coroners, 2 majors, 17 captains, 27 lieutenants and 4 colours with a loss of 4 killed and 23 wounded only. Company I lost one killed, Asbel Sain out of Worcester, as brave a soldier as ever carried a gun, and one wounded, Stone from Morris. I took myself two swords and from officers who surrendered to me a revolver. Silas Waterman took a stand of colours, Capt. Kidder took 3 swords. Every man marched up to the breastworks as cool and determined as if they were made of steel. There are no rebs in sight on the other side of the river this morning. We shall cross soon. I think there will be no more fighting this side of the Rapidan. General Sedgwick commands Corps 5th and 6th, General Wright the 6th, General Bartlett a division in the 5th, Coronel Upton our Brigade. He led us to the charge last night with one of his aides, Capt. Wilson. All say that for the numbers engaged it was one of the most brilliant feats of the war. The mail is going I must close.Delavan
- Camp 121st N.Y. Vols.
- December 5, 1863
Your letter of the 22nd and Ursula's of the 21st of November are just received, this being the first mail we have had since we started for the South side of the Rapidan. I wrote Ursula an account of our trip. We are back on the old camp ground above Brandy Station again. We are all well and very thankful that all returned alive from the late expedition. When we lay in line of battle on the morning of November 30th waiting the signal from the left to charge the hill in front of us I expected but few of the 121st would ever recross the river. We were in the first line and the flames of hell itself could scarcely be compared to what we would have had to pass through. An open plain raked with artillery and a deep creek. A heavy piece of woods with trees felled in every direction and then a line of rifle pits filled with men as brave as steel. It would have been murder to have undertaken it and General Meade has shown himself to be a general in deed in daring not to fight notwithstanding imperative orders from Washington that he must. It would have been but a repetition of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville to have attacked the reb position. I wish you to send me a box by express as soon as convenient containing a dark blue sack coat with brass buttons, worth 6 or 8 dollars, lined for cool weather. I think your size would fit me. A vest, any kind will answer. A pair of calf boots no. 7 some that will fit you with light heel and toe plates, half double soled and then tapped. One pair of woolen and one pair cotton socks. One pair light buckskin gloves. One silk pocket handkerchief. 8 or 10 pounds of butter packed in a tin pail with a cover. 2 pounds of 8 penny nails, a paper of 10 oz. tacks, and put in apples both green and dried and such other' edibles such as we don't get here that will keep three or four weeks without spoiling to fill a box about 2 feet by 18 inches and a foot deep. Have it bound with hoop iron and send by Harndens Express to:
- Lieut. D. Bates
- 121st N.Y. Vols.
- 2nd Brigade, lst Division, 6th Corps Army of the Potomac
- Washington, D.C.
Send a bill of the articles you put in with price also express charges. I do not think of anything else I shall need this month. Write as soon as you send it.Yours,
P.S. Dispose of that money as you think best.
February 20, 1864
I am in Washington for ten days. My leave was so short I concluded not to come home. I have received pay for November and December and send a check for 100 dollars. I do not need my trunk here any longer and shall send it home by express before I go back. You can have it and the contents also. The weather is pretty cold but no snow.
I was in the capitol this fore noon and saw those bronze doors. They are the most beautiful things I ever saw. I went before General Casey's "Nigger Board" yesterday and was examined. They make recommendations to the War Department for officers for the colored troops.
They recommended me for a second class Lieutenant Colonel so if they get niggers enough and don't have enough first class Lt. Colonels I shall get a leaf on my shoulder instead of bars. I don't put any dependence on getting the position though and don't care a great deal. I went before it more to see what I did know than anything else.
Capt. Kidder is home recruiting and will call on you before he comes back. Help him as much as you can about getting recruits. Write as soon as you receive this and also when my trunk arrives directing as before to the 121st New York Volunteers as I shall be back in camp before an answer would reach me. I guess though you need not write until the 25th of the month even if you get this before for I shall not leave here till the 27th.Delavan Bates
- Camp of 121st N.Y. Vols
- March 11, 1864
I just received Father's last letter containing your and his photographs. They look very natural and I am so glad you sent them. Have the girls taken now, the first chance you get for me. I am glad the trunk got through safe. I intended that Bible for you, but forgot to write my name in it. Father's overcoat you must line with flannel and put in some decent pockets. I put the ones in that are in now, last winter. That pistol will kill a man at 250 yards with one of the cartridges I sent with Bruce. Father asks if I am promoted. No, only recommended by General Casey for promotion in the colored troops. If they raise niggers enough I shall be however. It is abut 8 o'clock in the evening now and I am alone in my tent writing. It is raining hard outside and there is some thunder. Your pictures make me think of home and I almost imagine I see you sitting by the stand sewing or knitting and the children on the other side reading the last paper or some interesting book. Father of course has gone to bed. I shall go in about an hour and thank heaven I have some good dry blankets to get in between and a nice dry tent to stay inside tonight. It is something like the night we spent last July crossing the Catoctun Mountains in Maryland. It was after the fight at Gettysburg. We started from near Fairfield, Pa. on the 6th just before dark. Marched all night, rested about an hour the morning of the 7th at Emmittsburgh, Md. Then started again for Middleton which place we intended to reach that night as we were entirely out of rations, some of the men only having two crackers-for breakfast. Just at dusk we reached the foot of the mountains, and took a wood road that led over. We had to wait about an hour for the artillery to pass. It commenced raining. Was dark as pitch, mud from 6 to 9 inches deep. Two creeks to cross, water knee deep and no bridges. The men tired completely out, commenced falling out by the side of the road and laying down. It was an awful time for those who kept up, tramp, tramp, tramp through the mud. Slipping down, tumbling over rocks and running against one another. Between 12 and 1 at night about a dozen of our regiment with the Coronel reached the top of the mountain. Capt. Kidder, myself and two men was all that was left of Company I. The rest strung along by the side of the road from the foot of the mountain, tired out, had laid down to rest. At the top, the rest of us stopped and spread out our blankets under the nearest tree and thanked God that we were permitted once more to rest. The next morning we waited near where we rested until about 200 of the regiment came up, and then marched down to Middleton where we found rations awaiting us. I hope we never shall see such a night again or such marching. Do you wonder that I was completely worn out when we got back in Virginia and had to go to the hospital? I only wonder that I lived through it at all. I sent a piece of our flag that has been through Crampton Pass, lst to 2nd Fredericksburgh, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, and Mine run (?). Tell the children to write soon.Delavan Bates
- Washington, D.C.
- March 17, 1864
My highest anticipations are more than realized. I have received an appointment as Colonel of the 30th U.S. Colored Troops. I have accepted the appointment and now if I fail it will be nobody's fault but my own.
I shall remain here until my resignation as Lieutenant in the 121st New York Volunteers is accepted, which will be perhaps a day or two and then proceed to Baltimore where I am ordered to report. I do not know anything about the condition of the regiment I am to command. If I can obtain a leave of absence for a few days I shall come home. But it is very doubtful as Major Foster, Chief of the Colored Bearers (?) told me that my presence with the Regiment was needed immediately, so you need not look for me. Tell Ellen I received her last letter and will reply as soon as I get settled somewhere.
I have obtained my position by the examination I passed before General Casey's board. I understood at the time it was to be Lieut. Colonel but it is a first class colonelcy. All the outside influence I had was a recommendation from the officers in the 121st in regard to my military history and moral character, which is necessary for anyone to have that goes before the board.
I send the children some photographs for their album. You need not write until you hear from me again.Delavan
- Baltimore, Maryland
- March 31, 1864
I arrived at this place safe last night. Found everything in good order and think I shall have no difficulty. I had a pleasant ride down. Am very glad I did not try to fetch a horse as our Sutler is a good judge and will buy one for me.
The darkeys look well and take a great deal of pride in their new profession.
Direct all letters to
- D. Bates
- Col 30th U.S.C.T.
- Baltimore, Maryland
- April 10, 1864
- Baltimore, Maryland
Everything still goes on well. I of course make a mistake once and a while but nothing of consequence. I think we shall remain here sometime as the president has ordered that so many colored soldiers be turned into sailors. We first had orders that the whole regiment would be turned into the navy, but now I shall only furnish between 200 and 300 and then fill up again with recruits. I have received the balance of my pay and send you a check for $200. Write as soon as you receive it.D. Bates
- Camp 30th U.S.C.T.
- May 16, 1864
- Chancellorsville, Virginia
I suppose you are all looking with anxious eyes for news from the colored division to hear how they have fared during the terrific battle that has been raging for the past ten days. Although with the army of the Potomac, we have not yet been actively engaged in the fight, but have been and are at the present time guarding the supply trains of the army, a duty that relieves just so many veterans and gives them an opportunity of assisting in front. We left Manassas Junction May 4th, crossed the 6th corps and being hard pressed Gen. Sedgewick ordered us to the front, but Gen. Grant himself countermanded the order and assigned us to our present duty.
The fight has been on awful one, both armies fight with desperation. The Rebs have been forced back to Spotsylvania Court House. There have been two days incessant fighting there without any definite result. We have. taken 31 pieces of artillery and about 10,000 prisoners and lost between 30,000 and 40,000 killed, wounded and missing as near as I can learn. The 121st N.Y. Vols is entirely used up, having only 4 officers unhurt. Col. Olcott is wounded and missing. Capts. Kidder, Cronkhite, Paine, Gordon are wounded. Capts. Fish and Butts with Lieuts. Pierce and Foot were killed. Major Galpin wounded, Col. Upton lost a horse but escaped unhurt. I have heard no particulars about the enlisted men, with the exception that there are only 70 left for duty.
We were up all last night expecting a raid from Stuart's cavalry but none came around. Our cavalry is in the rear of Lee's army destroying all they can. We are encamped about 1/4 of a mile from the Chancellorsville house, the ground is covered with the bones of last year's dead.
The colored troops stand everything well that we have had to go through yet. How they will fight remains to be seen.
We have no mail communication yet and I do not know when this will reach you but shall send it the first opportunity.
I wish you would send to Cooperstown the first chance you have and have the journal directed after this to
- D. Bates
- Col. U.S.C.T.
- 4th Division, 9th Corps Washington, D.C.
If the time is out for which I subscribed, please hand them a couple of dollars more.
Everything in the regiment goes on well. Tell Sloan that I have made Davidson adjuntant. He is all right and makes a good officer.
Letter of: May 16, 1864
Col. Sigfried is commanding our Brigade. He is an experienced officer having had command of a white Brigade about a year. I had command until he came but was glad enough to be relieved from the responsibility. I forgot to mention that the colored troops were in two Brigades. The first is comprised of the 30th, 39th, 43rd U.S. and the 27th Ohio. The second of the 19th and 23rd U.S. and 30th Connecticut with Col. Thomas commanding.
I have missed a bloody time by joining the colored troops but don't know how it will turn out. We may have our turn before it is through yet, but can't fare worse than the 121st did, whatever comes. However, I am willing to accept. Write often.D. Bates
- Headquarters, 30th U.S.C.T.
- May 26, 1864
- Near Mattapany (?) River, Virginia
I have written several times since we crossed the Rapidan but have heard that the mail goes no farther than Washington at present and as I have now an opportunity of sending a letter through I write again.
The colored division is yet engaged guarding the supply trains of the army. We follow immediately in the rear of the main army, have but little opportunity for drilling but improve every chance. I find no difficulty so far and am well pleased with my situation. We have been under arms several times expecting an attack from rebel cavalry that are watching every opportunity for a raid. The 23rd had a man or two wounded. The men were always cool and I think would have fought well had we been seriously attacked. Our advance is at Hanover Junction, but little firing is heard today.
My horse goes well. I do not intend trying another as I have a good mule to carry rations, and I think I was very fortunate in getting my position when I did, escaping at least one bloody field where the 121st N.Y. Vols were cut up very bad. Col. Upton has got a star, however, by it. Our turn I expect will come next though, and when it does we are ready to take our chances.
The report from the front is that everything is going well and that Richmond must fall before this campaign closes.Delavan Bates
- Camp 30th U.S.C.T.
- June 27, 1864
- Near Petersburg, Virginia
Everything remains as usual with the colored troops. Of course, you know all about our changing position to the south side of the James and attack on Petersburg. Several lines of works have been taken but as we approach the city we find plenty of other lines to take. I think the day of charging has passed and that we shall take the remainder by regular approaches. In several of the last charges we were repulsed losing many.
Our lines extend from the Appomattox on the east of Petersburg around to very near if not quite the same river on the west of the city. The colored division of this corps is acting now as reserve for two whole divisions in front. We were in front last week and shall be again probably next. We have lost but few men yet. Have been in no regular battle, but have been under sharp picket fire, shelling, etc. Are under arms once or twice every night now. The men do well so far. The colored troops in Butler's command took a line of very strong works since we have been here, fighting splendidly. They took no prisoners.
My Lt. Col. has returned to his regiment having had poor success trying to raise another so I have plenty of help. It is very warm weather but we manage to get along quite comfortable by erecting arbors of bushes around our tents.
Grant, I think, has found the job of taking Richmond a little more extensive than he expected, but such bull dog perseverance as he shows cannot fail to bring success, such a campaign as this never was seen before. Fifty days steady marching or fighting and the end is not yet.
Did you get the letter in which I wished you to change the address of the Cooperstown journal? And have you seen Shaw since? I wrote to have you give him a couple of dollars more and change the direction, but I have not received a copy-since I joined this regiment. Tell the children to write soon.D. Bates
- Camp 30th U.S.C.T.
- July 16, 1864
Yours of the 6th also a package of journals was received the other night. The journals were very welcome. Their familiar face reminding me of home more than anything I have seen in some time with the exception of your letters. I see another draft is in progress through the north carrying consternation through the hearts of every able bodied man. How glad I am to be safe from the monster. No fears here of conscription. No dreams of Canadian safety, or wishes for a touch of rheumatism, consumption, liver complaints or other diseases upon which a doctor could base a certificate of disability. Of course you know that the theater of active operations has been changing to the District of Columbia and vicinity, leaving us I guess in the safest place as everything is perfectly quiet around Petersburg. Now and then you hear a cannon or a few rifles on the front line but there has been nothing serious for a week or two. The colored troops are at present engaged in building a line of earthworks to protect the left flank and rear of our line. I saw Jerome yesterday. He is in for three years more, his regiment enlisting as veterans. He has been promoted to Captain. You know he went home for conscripts last July. He remained in Michigan until April when he rejoined his regiment. In May he was wounded in the shoulder not very severe, but enough to send him to the hospital about six weeks. he weather is very dry and I have not seen a drop of rain since June 2nd. We have to dig wells to get water enough to drink. Get good water at 6 feet in some places. The 4th passed off quietly. The Sanitary Commission furnished the whole army with a ration of pickles, onions and dried apples for dinner that day. The health of this regiment is very good, mine never was better. I have received but few letters from home lately. Mail communications are very regular now. The only obstructions are between Baltimore and Washington I believe at present. Write often.Delavan
Laurens [Laurens was Capt. Kidderís home town], August 11th 1864
Capt. Kidder is at home very sick unable to sit up. We saw the name of your son among the list of wounded officers that were engaged in the late battle before Petersburg. We are very anxious to hear how he is getting along, and how badly he is wounded. My husband's sickness is caused by a wound in the head that he received at the battle of Spotsylvania May 19th. Please write by return mail. Capt. Kidder sends his respects, hoping your son's wound is not serious.Respectfully yours,
Mrs. J. S. Kidder
- Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps
- Near Petersburg, October 28, 1864
Yours of the 24th of this month is just received and I reply immediately. I wrote you when I first arrived here and also have written Ursula since. I knew you would be anxious and so I sent a letter the second day but it must have been lost or miscarried. There was no money in it for I did not have the proper papers to obtain my pay from any but the regimental paymaster and he had just taken the cars for Baltimore as I reached Washington.
I had a pleasant trip down stopping in New York two days and Washington one and a half. Reached city point on the evening of October 8th. Took the cars and arrived at Hancock Station where I expected to find my regiment, about 8:00 P.M. But the colored troops had moved the day before across the Welden (?) road to near Poplar Groove Church and I hardly knew where to spend the night when by chance I found that Jerome was only a few rods from the station acting as Assistant Adjutant General on Gen. Pierce's staff. I at once started for his quarters and stayed with him all night. He has since been mustered out of the service, his three years having expired. The next day I stayed with Dr. Jackson my regimental surgeon who is in charge of the Division Hospital.
On the 1lth of October I joined the regiment and being senior officer had to take command of the Brigade, Col. Sigfried's time having expired he has left the service. I have been in command all the time since but hope I shall be relieved before we get into a fight for I don't care for quite as much responsibility as a person commanding from three to four thousand men has to bear. If everything goes off right why it's very nice but if it don't somebody's got to take the consequences.
We have just returned from an expedition which came very near being a big fight but didn't quite. Yesterday morning at 3:00 A.M. the 5th and 9th Corps made an advance toward the Southside railroad. The 2nd Corps taking the extreme left started the night before making quite a detour to avoid the enemy. We had six days rations, the teams with all surplus baggage and extra stores were sent within the entrenchments at city point and as our front lines were to be held by artillery we expected a "big thing". As soon as our advance was discovered however the rebs commenced sending reinforcements from other points and just before night the 2nd Corps found itself in a pretty tight place. I have not heard the particulars but I know that this morning or about noon rather we all came back and the report says the 2nd Corps lost very heavily. The 9th Corps drove the reb skirmishers about a mile when we came on to the main line of works. It not being part of the program to attack unless the 2nd Corps had good success we escaped a fight. The brigade lost one officer and six men killed and six officers and about 50 men wounded. We advanced about half a mile in line of battle through the worst piece of woods I ever saw. The underbrush, briars, logs, etc. made it a part of the way almost impenetrable and when we halted in front of the enemy works a line of breastworks had to be thrown up and the timber slashed to prevent a surprise and be able to resist an attack if the rebs should undertake one. It was an awful
Letter of: October 28, 1864
job and I guess if I did it once I rode twenty times in front of the Brigade to see that the work was going on right. I tore my coat and pants, and scratched my hide besides running the risk of a great many stray bullets. Two horses belonging to my staff were shot. But fortunately the affair terminated without great loss to our division or corps. I presume Butler attacked on the right the same time we did at the left but I have not heard what he accomplished.
As usual when we make a move it rained like fury all night. I got a little wet but feel no effects from it yet. My head gives me no trouble. I can eat very well and think I shall remain in the service a spell longer. So many officers have been mustered out this month that have been in three years, it takes a very strong case to get a resignation through. The weather today is pleasant. The nights are quite chilly but not half as cold as you had when I was home. There has been one very slight frost since I returned and the forest leaves are just beginning to turn. Write often.Delavan
- Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps
- Near Peebles House
- November 6, 1864
It is Sunday evening and as I have nothing to do of any consequence I thought I would write home. I know how anxious you feel on my account and if nothing happens I will write every Sunday keeping you informed in regard to my health. I wish you or the children would write as often for I do not receive any news from you half as often as I would like to.
Since the last move for the Southside Road, this army has quietly settled down in its' old position and everyone is fixing up for winter, building fireplaces, logging up tents, building stables, and preparing for cold weather as much as possible. We have no orders to prepare winter quarters but there are many little things in the management of the army that make it look like we are staying where we are for some time.
The weather is pleasant most of the time. Once in a while a cold rain prevails for a day or two. The nights are quite cold and last night a slight frost made its appearance. I was up about midnight, being awakened by a tremendous cannonading interspersed with volleys of musketry. I thought first it was near but on arising I found it was at least two miles distant and today learned that the Second Corps pickets were attacked last night at 11:40 pm. Twenty posts were captured and the rebs held the line till early this morning when they were driven back with the loss of one officer and forty men. A rather small affair for so much noise.
I had a brigade dress parade at half past four this afternoon and found my voice all right, making fifteen hundred men hear with ease. This is the first time I have tried to give a command vocally since my return. I found I could make more noise than I expected.
The colored division has been reorganized, another brigade having been formed by taking one regiment from the first and two from the Second, leaving three regiments in each. Each brigade is commanded by the senior colored in it, which gives me the command of one Col. Thomas and one Col. Russell. I don't fancy the position much as it increases the responsibility, expense and everything else excepting pay. There is a rumor afloat now that we are to be sent to Butler's department before long so that all of the "American citizens of African descent" in these parts be together. I like the plan decidedly for if Butler gives them a chance to fight often, he also gives them their due when they accomplish anything. Butler I hear has been sent to New York to keep things straight through election. A brigade of regulars also left for that place last week.
I am afraid there will be trouble through the north before peace is again established, but hoping not and that I may live to see the union fully restored and moving on happy and prosperous as formerly. I remain as ever,Your son,
- Headquarters 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps
- Near Peebles House
- November 13, 1864
Another week has passed and I again find myself writing home. How fast time passes now. It hardly seems a week since I started from home and yet when I count back I find that six sabbaths have come and gone since then. Election was then in the future and every one was anxious to assist in determining the result. Now it is an event of the past. Lincoln is re-elected and whatever policy he may pursue we have nothing to do but acquiesce to it for four years more. The soldiers, as I told you, gave a large vote for him. The question as discussed here was taken in a very different light from what you had it North. Here it was union or disunion. There you had it union and peace with slavery or an abolition war ending no one knew when without slavery. Most of those who voted for McClellan were recruits just arrived with home opinions strongly impressed upon their minds. Nothing of importance has transpired here during the past week nor will until we receive more men. I hear that many thousand of the last call remained north until election was over. If so, perhaps we shall have enough when they arrive to do something. If not three hundred thousand more may expect an invitation before next April to visit the theater of war. Sherman is again on the move. Results that will tell with force on the rebellion are expected from his department. Three brigades of the enemy were seen moving around our left toward the Weldon road a day or two ago. Very likely they are going South to assist in defeating Sherman's plans, but it will take more men than Lee can spare to overcome the five corps that Sherman has. A deserter came in yesterday from the rebs who said that the rebel army was going into winter quarters as soon as a few more fortifications were finished. Many of our new recruits have deserted lately. Obtaining large bounties was all many enlisted for. As soon as they arrive they begin planning means of escape and as no other feasible method presents itself they desert to the enemy, running the risk of getting through to Mexico or Halifax. Coronel Oakman returned tonight. I am very glad he has come for the regiment has but few officers present for duty. Adjutant Davidson is present all right. He is one of the best officers I have, understands his duty well and has not been absent a day since we left Baltimore. The troops are drilling when the weather permits about five hours a day and are improving very fast. My health continues good, I have a good floor in my tent, and a chimney which makes everything very comfortable. The weather today is quite chilly so that a fire is required to keep comfortable. The paymaster has not been around since my return, perhaps wi.11 not be until January although he may the last of this month. I just received a letter from Angeline Bates. She writes that William and Alexander were both drafted, lucky for them that they enlisted when they did. Write soon.D. Bates
© 1998-2003 by John G. Saint, Ted & Carole Miller