Military Resource Center
- Headquarters, lst Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps
- Near Peebles House, Virginia
- November 20, 1864
All quiet in front of Petersburg, the morning papers report and truly too for I have not heard a rebel gun during the past week. There is however a little excitement in the colored division on account of the rumor that General Meade had agreed with General Butler to trade us off for white troops, which has obtained general credence as two regiments of the third brigade left night before last with orders to report at Point of rocks. The remaining regiments will doubtless go in a few days, and I am glad of it for I have always thought the colored troops ought to be placed together, and under Butler there is no doubt but that they will have credit for all they do. Gen. Burnside paid the corps a flying visit a few days ago arriving at night and leaving the next morning. I have not heard what his business was but presume it was to consult his old division commander as to whether they would like to accompany him on an expedition which I hear he is to command.
It is raining today not very fast but a steady disagreeable drizzling rain that makes one feel very thankful that he has a good shelter over his head and a good fire to sit by. The weather is not very cold. We have had a few slight frosts this month. I have a good brick chimney and fireplace in the side of my tent. The brick came from the ruins of somebody's mansion that once stood near our camp. The inhabitants left just before we came and in a short time everything that could be used to increase the comforts of camp life was appropriated. The timber in this section is mostly second growth pine and as it is full of pitch burns very readily.
Adjutant Davidson left for home this morning on a fifteen days leave. If you are out to Cooperstown or Cherry Valley this week perhaps you may meet him. I have not heard from Ellen since my return. Please mention in your next letter how she is getting along and also send me a few stamps.Yours as ever,
- November 27, 1864
- Headquarters, lst Brigade, Ferraro's Division, Defenses of Bermuda Hundred.
Your letter with the children's was received a few nights ago and a welcome messenger it was I assure you. It hardly seems like Sunday today we have been so busy. The long expected move to Butler's department took place yesterday. Camp was broken early in the morning and night found us on the north side of the Appomattox River near Port Walthal. This morning we took our position in the front line of works and are now fixing up and preparing for cold weather again. The rebel line is a quarter of a mile in front of ours. The pickets are very peaceable, not firing at each other very often. At one point, however, the Rebs made all mounted officers dismount and go past on foot by hollering out, "Get off that horse or we will fire on you" when any one approaches on horseback.
We are near a very high lookout station from which can be seen Petersburg, the line of railroad to Richmond, and any number of rebel works. The Rebs don't appear to be discouraged on account of Lincoln's election but profess their willingness to fight another four years. I guess, however, before another year has passed they will be fully satisfied.
I am feeling well as usual and will write to the children next Sunday. Direct your letters until you hear further to the above address.Delavan
- Headquarters Detachment, lst Divison, 25th Corps
- Chaffins Farm, Virginia
- December 25, 1864
After a hearty Christmas dinner of turkey, beef, mutton, almonds, raisins, etc. which our sutler was thoughtful enough to bring down with his last lot of goods, I feel so dull and lazy I hardly know what to write and if I had not promised to write every Sunday I believe I should not think of trying.
I do believe that I am forgetting all I ever knew for I can think of nothing to write and when I can I have no words to express my thoughts. But to commence something or other I will say that I received your letter of the 16th of December with stamps and I am very thankful to hear that you are all well amidst the many cases of fever around you and fervently hope that the same good fortune may be with you many years. You wish to know about where I am, if you will take the map and trace the James River down from Richmond about nine miles and then turn square to the left ascend the bluff and cross the plain in a northerly direction about one mile and you are right here. If Chapins (or Chaffins) bluff is down on the map, that's the place. Dutch Gap is- perhaps one and a half miles southeast.
We hear nothing definite from the expedition yet, but a rumor from a reb deserter is in circulation to the effect that they had taken Fort Fisher near Wilmington, N.C. The eighth and nineteenth corps are arriving daily and I presume when our troops on the expedition obtain a foothold we shall join them and the white troops will take our place. I don't see what hopes the South can have to make them resist another summer.
Hood defeated, Georgia overrun, Lee's army fully occupied at this place, and three hundred thousand fresh troops to be in the field against them in the spring. They must give up soon. Deserters coming in say that the Georgia troops are very much dissatisfied, saying that if Lee will not defend their state, they will not fight much longer for Virginia. And bye the bye there is a rumor just in to the effect that Jeff Davis is on his deathbed, but that has been told by deserters so many times to gain favors that no one believes it now. So like the "boy and the wolf" if it is true it does us no good.
My health remains first rate and I can just put my thumb in my mouth flatways so you see my jaw as improved materially since I left home and hoping I may see this affair through and be with you safe at home once more.I remain as ever,
- Headquarters Detachment, 3rd Division, 25th Corps
- Chaffins Farm, Virginia
- January 8, 1865
I have just received that truly home letter of the first instance. If Ursula had only written a few lines the whole family would have been represented individually. Tell the children I was very much obliged for their kind wishes but as for the "happy new year" it didn't come this way. The expedition from Wilmington had just returned and everything was in confusion. The men all hard at work fixing up tents to keep warm and dry, they had but little time for the scanty enjoyment afforded here and by the by I guess it will not be contraband to say that all those troops that went before started again last Tuesday for the same place, Wilmington. It was mighty rough for the poor fellows. They had been for twenty days on board transports and now to go again without having had time to clean up a particle was asking most too much. They started off however with scarecely a murmur and I do hope they will be successful this time. On account of some dissatisfaction between the commanding generals, the number of the divisions have been changed in this corps. Gen. Paine although junior officer was assigned to the 1st division and Gen. Wilde to the 3rd and to make things smooth the 1st is now called the 3rd and the 3rd the 1st which will explain why I am in command of a detachment of the 3rd instead of the 1st as I was before.
My appointment came from the President. It is Brigadier General of Volunteers by Brevet and to make it lasting will require the confirmation of the Senate. As you say the honor is about all it amounts to although when assigned to duty as a Brevet Brigadier General it is just as good as a full Brigadier General except the pay and that used to be the same but a late law spoiled all that. Colonel's pay, however, does very well or would if it was not for the awful taxes. I have to pay over one hundred dollars a year and I don't want you to pay a cent on what I send home. I received my pay yesterday and send you a check for $1,400 dollars. Use it to the best advantage you can, so that it will be safe, until I come.
I want you to write as soon as you receive this that I may know it has gone through safely.Del. Bates
3rd Division, 25th Corps
January 15, 1865
I presume you have learned from the papers before this, that we have a new department commander, Gen. Butler left the day I wrote you last. Everybody is well pleased for old Ben was not liked first rate. Gen. Ovel (?) is in command now, he is a good corps commander but I don't know whether he is capable of running an army. We are hoping that Sheridan will be assigned to this department. If he is, I don't think his time will be spent in digging Dutch Gap canals, and come to think I guess I have never mentioned the fact that New Year's day the end was blown out of Butler's canal. It made but little noise and the dirt all fell back so it is of no consequence. We did not hear of it until a week after and the Rebs are so disgusted with the closing performance that they have not fired a shot since in that direction. Not a word has been heard from the last expedition yet. Some think it went to Savannah to garrison the city so that Sherman could take all his forces when he makes his next move but I think Wilmington has heard from them on this.
Deserters are coming in now and then, I saw twelve pass this place during the past week. Stout hearty looking fellows and wore good clothes. Some were from Georgia. "Gen. Lee can't make us fight for Virginia when he allows the Yanks to run all over Georgia" one of them remarked. They said that preparations were being made in Richmond to move the machinery that was used for making arms back into the interior near Danville. I received a letter last night from Alexander Bates. His regiment is near Bermuda Hundreds (?). Came down from the Shenandoah Valley on New Year's. He is the only one I have heard from of that number that enlisted while I was home. He doesn't like the business very well.
How does the last call for three hundred thousand affect the North! Are you raising such large bounties as before or will you wait and let the draft fetch out the quota? The army is in perfect rapture over the call and think old Abe is really in earnest now. Have Warren and Jeff returned yet? If they have, they will be just in time.
I have been about sick for a few days. Neuralgia in my face. One side was swollen so that I could not see from the eye on that side. It is getting better, however, today and by next Sunday shall doubtless be as well as ever.
This is the first time I have been off duty a day since my return. If you can't get a good mortgage for that money I sent last week, you can buy 7 x 30 or 10 x 40 bonds. I guess there is no doubt but they will be redeemed in time. If you can use it to good advantage, I think I can send 400 or 500 more by the first of April.Del. Bates
3rd Division, 25th Corps
January 18, 1865
Yours of the 13th is just received. It is evening. The drums are just beating for evening roll call, and I sit down to reply to your welcome letter. The money you will have to use your own discretion about, for I know nothing about financial affairs in New York, and in fact precious little about my own affairs in the future. I know I am in the army now alive and well. I may be next week, next month, next year, and perhaps I may be occupying six feet by two of Virginia soil at either of those periods. This business is mighty uncertain. Now you are here and now you are not. Now you see it and now you don't. Now you are in this world and now you are in the next. No man can tell what a day may bring forth and hardly an hour. At ten o'clock this morning I was riding along our picket line, being officer of the day. Two hundred yards in front, and in front of Fort Burnham not over one hundred and twenty five yards, the rebs were leisurely walking their beats, guns on their shoulders occasionally glancing toward our line and no doubt aching to break the quiet that has long prevailed on this line by firing at that "Nigger Officer". If they had, good bye to all plans for the future if I had any.
To be sure, it was not absolutely necessary to go there, but others do, and not to go looks rather cowardly in one whose profession is to shoot and get shot at. And so, my life often hanging upon the slender thread of a rebel's good faith or the uncertainties of a battlefield, I have selected no calling for the future. I may remain in the service until next August, for I really don't want to give it up until the old regiment, the 121st, is mustered out for I promised the boys to stay just as long as any of them when I came out.
But about the money, I will give you a slight idea of what I would desire. If everything was favorable so that you could invest in that way, I would like to have papers that can be turned into money at six or eight months notice. I think a mortgage would do with the last payment due in three or even five years. It could be sold I guess most any time if actually necessary. Government bonds I think are pretty good. I don't suppose you think very highly of them, but they have got to stand unless the government itself goes to the devil which occurrence I am not expecting. But I leave it all to you. Do as you think best.
And now for mother's question: Do I wear a star? I do at present. If the Senate confirms the appointment I shall very likely continue to. If not I shall don the eagles again. I am now both Col. and Brevet Brigadier General or as the appointment reads Brigadier General of Volunteers by Brevet. I can wear the uniform of a Brigadier General or of a Colonel as I choose. Letters you can address to Delavan Bates, Col. 30th U.S.C.T. 3rd Division, 25th Corps, Washington, D.C. Either would reach me and either would be correct. All military communications I receive are addressed to me as Bvt. Brig. Gen. Bates. It is immaterial to me what they say on the outside if I only get the letters.
I am slightly deaf yet in one ear. My face swells when I take cold but I am half inclined to think it is as much caused by a decayed tooth as by the wound as an ulcer generally closes up the performance.
Letter of: January 18, 1865
As for news there is not enough in the Department to swear by. Fort Fisher was taken by the expedition, of course you know, on the 15th of this month with 1,OOO prisoners reported captured. This entirely destroys the value of Wilmington as a blockade running post--and one more stone knocked from the support of the fast falling Confederacy. It must come down with a crash before long. And what a grand rejoicing there will be when that hour comes.
Last night I took up the Herald and the first paragraph that caught my eye was "Edward Everett Obituary". The mail came and with it the journal. I opened that and the first thing I saw was James A. Waters, dead. How forcibly it brought to my mind "The old must die, the young may die." And it really affected me more than to have seen a dozen men shot. Especially James' death. So young and robust and apparently long lived, and in no dangerous vocation. It must have been hard for Mrs. Waters. She would never hear a word of his enlisting and now he is taken by the unsparing fever. I don't know but I have chosen the path of safety after all.Delavan
- Headquarters Detachment,
3rd Division, 25th Army Corps
Chaffins Farm, Virginia
- January 29, 1865
The past week although bringing forth no great results has not been devoid of interest. Monday night a fleet of rebel iron clads came puffing and snorting down the river and at the same time the rebel skirmishers advanced on our lines on the south of the James, called the Bermuda front. A cavalry force was also reported on our extreme right on the Charles City road. Their intention was at once apparent. The capture of our batteries on the south bank of the river, the iron clads then pushing down to Deep Bottom destroying our shipping on the way, which by the by was only defended by one double turreted monitor (and her captain was so scared when he saw the rams coming down that he at once ran her way down below the pontoon bridge), and then operating with the force on shore they were to turn our right and use the army of the James as they pleased. This was very nicely planned but like many other nice plans of theirs was entirely spoiled by the "blue bellied yanks". They could not break our lines on the Bermuda front and the first thing they knew was one of the iron clads was going up in the air, blown up by a shell from one of our water batteries on the south side of the river. Two others also ran aground.
Seeing the land attack had failed and fearing a like result for the other boats they ran back under shelter of the Howlet House battery and there remained until Wednesday morning when just before day they again ran the guantlet of Fort Brady and passed up to a safe harbor nearer Richmond. Fort Brady, however, doesn't amount to much as the rebs have fifteen or twenty guns bearing on it about half or 3/4 of a mile distant, and when they open as they did while the iron clads were passing woe be to the unlucky man that dares to expose himself. The first shot knocked a 100 pounder off its carriage. The next went through the bomb proof killing three men.
The next hundred pound shell lodged under an officer's log shanty, exploded and you ought to have seen the splinters fly. Lightning striking a tree is no comparison. No one was in at the time and lucky too for if there had been he would have been sent to heaven cross lots. I don't see how those poor devils in Fort Fisher stood the bombardment so long, fifteen inch shells weighing about 400 pounds falling like hail around through the fort. The shelling of Fort Brady was no comparison and that was perfectly awful.
Battery no. 4 is right in front of our camp and during the performance the captain in command thought he would do something smart and so he threw a few solid shot from his little 12 pound smooth bore Napoleon guns down toward the river. The rebs noticed it and sent over half a dozen of those big shells and elevating their pieces a little too high for the battery, the shells all landed right around us. Oh, how the darkies did jaw about the Captain's drawing their fire over this way. "I jes wish one of dem shell would strike in dat battery" they said. I saw a tree one of them hit. It was a tall hemlock about twenty-four inches through. The shell struck it about twenty feet from the ground and took it square off. Imagine such a piece of iron striking a man side of the head. Herricks pills wouldn't save him.
Letter of: January 25, 1865
Frank Blair Senior passed through our lines Wednesday afternoon from Richmond. He thinks everything is looking favorable. I didn't dare to ask him what old Jeff thought about peace. He had a pass signed by Abraham Lincoln and I shouldn't wonder if he was really on business looking toward a settlement of our difficulties.
I received orders yesterday to have everything ready to start for Fort Fisher as soon as transportation could be obtained. So my next letter may be written there and if you do not receive one in a fortnight, don't be alarmed for our mails I presume will not be as regular from that point. We shall very likely start within three or four days.
Col. J. H. Holman of the lst U.S.C.T. has returned to duty having been absent wounded since October. He outranks me as colonel about a year and as I have not yet been assigned to duty by the President according to my brevet rank. I suppose when we all get together he will have command of the brigade (the 1st, 30th and 10th regiments compose the lst brigade now). I shall be glad of it for when in command of a brigade my responsibilities are trebled and expenses doubled and not a cent more pay do I get for it all. To be sure there are a few more privileges connected with Brigade headquarters but hardly enough to pay for the increased expense. Col. Holman has been in the service as Lieut.Col. and Col. since 1861. He is a gentleman and well informed. I like him very much.Delavan Bates
P.S. - If you don't have a good opportunity to let that money at 7 percent just put it in the bank. It will save you some trouble and perhaps I may want it before the year is out.
- Headquarters Detachment,
3rd Division, 25th Corps
Chaffins Farm, Virginia
- February 12, 1865
We are yet patiently waiting for transports to arrive upon which we can embark for Fort Fisher. I hear that the vessels have been engaged carrying troops to Sherman, some that come from Gen. Thomas's army to Annapolis by rail. It was considered more important to reinforce Sherman the first thing. I think there is little doubt but that we shall leave this week. I am very glad, however, that we are on land safe and sound today for the wind is blowing a perfect gale out of doors and it must be fearful going round Cape Hatteras in such weather.
Nothing of importance has transpired on this side of the river during the past week. On the other side, the Army of the Potomac has made another of its periodical flank movements, with what success I have not yet heard but presume it will turn out as usual a "reconnaisance in force".
Of course you have heard all about the peace rumors and Lincoln's coming down to Fortress Monroe to meet Stephens, Hunter and Campbell. I thought surely something of importance would result from such an interview, but as far as I can learn nothing but a more bitter feeling of animosity in Southern minds against the north has come to pass.
Deserters say that as soon as the commissioners made their report in Richmond, war meetings were held and resolutions passed stating that Lincoln had insulted them by inviting commissioners and then offering no terms except unconditional submission with such favors as Congress might choose to grant them, and closing up with the determination that every dollar and every man must be used up before such terms would be noticed. I think, however, about one year more of such fighting as last year will change their minds slightly.
Oh, the committee on the war have at last made a report about that blowing up affair last July where I got the hole in my head. They lay the failure to Gen. Meade's interfering with or rather changing Gen. Burnside's plans after he had the mine ready, the troops selected and drilled in readiness to take advantage of any chance that might be offered by the explosion. Gen. Grant said he thought if the colored troops had went in as first intended by Burnside the day would have been ours and I have no doubt of it for if we could have got in before the rebs got so many guns bearing on that point we would have been all right.
Write often and don't forget to send a few stamps for I shall use the last one on this letter. Our mails all go to Fort Fisher now so I don't expect to hear from you till we get there.Delavan Bates
- Headquarters, 3rd Division, 25th Corps
- February 19, 1865
- Chaffins Farm, Virginia
Not yet embarked, but prospects favorable for going soon. Last Tuesday I sent 1,200 men and this morning a load of horses, baggage, etc. It will take two or three more boats to take what is left.
General Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster of the armies operating agai6st Richmond, says the scarcity of boats arises from the blocking up of the Potomac and Delaware Rivers by ice. The 23rd Corps which I supposed was to join Sherman landed at Fort Fisher which gives us a force of about 30,000 to operate against Wilmington on Federal Point.
No news during the past week here, but such a spell of muddy, rainy, nasty weather as I do not wish to see again this winter, about half the time the ground is frozen up solid and the other half mud knee deep all over. I shall be glad when we get down where it is summer all the while. I don't like such a mixture as this.
Yesterday I saw a specimen of our new 25th Corps badge. For the enlisted men it is simply a square inch of cloth. Red, white or blue according to the number of their division. For officers blue enamel square with gold border and smaller square of gold braid inside for 3rd Division, white for 2nd and red for lst.
I was much disappointed with the emblem for besides distinguishing brigades, divisions and corps the badge ought to express some idea. For instance, if it had been a rising sun with a few links of broken chain, it would have been very expressive of the origin of the corps. Perhaps the one selected though is intended to tell that the "darkey" is at last on a "square" with other folks.
I shall expect at least a dozen letters when I get down to Fort Fisher for I have not had one in a month. Our mail all goes there now and has for some time. Tell the children to write me a good long letter telling about everything. I send a "Harperís Weekly" and Frank Leslie's newspaper to them with this but perhaps they will not go through as I have no stamps to put on but I must close with hoping my next letter may be mailed at Federal Point.Delavan
- Fortress Monroe, Virginia
- February 21, 1865
We are at last on our way to North Carolina. Letters will be about two days later reaching you from our destination as it is 36 hours sail from this point to Fort Fisher. I shall bid adieu to old Virginia without a sigh and am very thankful for the opportunity to leave her desolate acres. I don't know as North Carolina is any better but it will be a change in name if nothing more. I have just received my pay and send you a check--invest in 7 + 30 bonds if you have no better chance. Write as soon as you receive this and also mention how you disposed of the other. I had a letter from Kidder the other day. He is back with his regiment on duty now, returned about the lst of the month. I have no time to write more.Delavan Bates
- Steamship Daniel Webster
- Cape Fear River six miles from Wilmington
February 24, 1865
Last Monday morning at daylight we left our old camp and proceeded to Bermuda Hundred where we found the ocean steamer Dan Webster waiting for loading for Fort Fisher. At 3 o'clock p.m. the troops were all aboard, and the hold full of baggage. The captain immediately weighed anchor and we went down the river perhaps 50 miles, then stopped until morning. Tuesday at 10 o'clock a.m. found us at Fort Monroe. I went ashore with a number of other officers received my pay, and sent you a check. At 5 O'clock p.m. we put to sea and Wednesday morning 8 o'clock a.m. found us off Cape Hatteras with a smooth sea and pleasant weather.
Thursday morning 6:00 a.m. found us abreast of Fort Fisher where we learned that Wilmington was evacuated by the rebs Tuesday night and occupied by our troops Wednesday morning. We also learned that we could not cross the shoals at the harbor entrance until night when the tide was high. I with a few of the officers aboard went ashore, went through Fort Fisher, Fort Buchanan and the Mound Battery, enough labor had been expended on this point, had it been properly directed, to have made it impregnable.
Five o'clock p.m. the steamer came and received orders to proceed to Wilmington with her load. So this morning we started up the river and have now reached the line of obstructions sunk by the rebs. We have to wait here a short time for some things or other. The rebel iron clad Chickamaga is sunk just ahead of us. Our troops are 10 miles the other side of Wilmington pursuing the rebels that left the city or were there the last we heard.
The colored troops have had several skirmishes. All behaved well. One regiment lost 60 men and a few officers on the skirmish line one day. My regiment has lost two officers killed, and one wounded besides a dozen or so men.
11 o'clock a.m. Thursday. In Wilmington, the boat struck a snag and came very near sinking about 5 miles down stream. She is now on a shoal with several feet of water in her. We remain in the city tonight. Have good quarters in a secesh house. Will write again Sunday.D. Bates
- Wilmington, North Carolina
- March 5, 1865
Your letter of February 20th is received. Also one from Ursula of the 17th February finding me all right as usual. On the 2nd of March I moved out to the front at North East Station and the next day the brigade was united again. This morning I received an order to report to Wilmington as member of a court martial assembled for the purpose of trying a colonel of one of the Pennsylvania regiments charged with defrauding soldiers of their bounty money. Arrived in town at 10 o'clock a.m., not enough members being present to form a quorum adjourned until tomorrow morning. The weather since I have been in North Carolina has been very gloomy raining most every day. The rains, however, are very warm, something like your April rains with a June temperature.
The face of the country from here to the front is very low and swampy with an occasional sand bank. The forests are all pine and cypress, pine on the sand plains and cypress in the swamps. Turpentine and rosin are the principal articles of produce. The rebs burned a great quantity of rosin just before our army arrived. We have received about nine thousand prisoners at this point during the past week. I saw Captain Paine, one of my old comrades in the 121st N.Y. among them, also three of my lieutenants taken July 30th at the explosion. They stayed all night with me and Capt. Paine said it was the first regular meal of victuals he had eaten in ten months. The men looked horrible, especially the sick. About two hundred negroes taken at Fort Wagner were among the lot. They looked decidedly better than the whites. I guess they stand rough usage better. There is to be a move soon. The 23rd Corps are under marching orders.
Those stamps you sent in both letters are received.Delavan Bates
- Wilmington, N.C.
- March 12, 1865
Last sabbath when I wrote I had just arrived in the city as member of a court martial. Today I write just before leaving the city for the front. Our business was completed yesterday and the court adjourned. Today is the first real nice sunny day we have enjoyed since our arrival. I had almost come to the conclusion that the "sunny south" was a humbug but today I can fully appreciate all I ever read of the beauties of a southern climate. It is delightful.
Inhabitants say that the spring is backward but with flowers blooming on every side and peach trees in full blossom the middle of March I think it very early. But I presume it is because my earlier impressions of this month were of cold blustering snowy weather.
Yesterday morning our scouts from Sherman's army arrived in this city. They left Sherman near Fayetteville. He has had but little fighting thus far. His army is in good condition and capable of managing anything the rebs have in this section. Gen. Schofield with his corps left here last Monday for New Bern and last night we heard he was moving on Goldsboro having taken Kingston. The confederacy will soon be a thing of the past.
I have been boarding with Mrs. Marshall during the past week. She is the wife of a pilot who has been engaged on vessels running the blockade. He received three thousand dollars in gold each trip for his services. Just before we came Mrs. Marshall had bought three slaves for 18,000 dollars to get rid of some of her confederate money which she had any quantity of and after we came she sold 16,000 dollars for 200 in greenbacks. The buyer had some debts in the country he wished to pay with it. The higher classes are very secluded, do not fancy the Yankee soldiers much.
There is a family of Bates living in the city. Two brothers came from Massachusetts or Connecticut, I forget which, about 25 years ago. I met one of them. His name is Edward. He was not familiar with the names of his northern relatives but mentioned a brother he had north by the name of Lorin and if I am not mistaken I think I have heard Melvin's wife speak of a Bates of that name, a distant relative, and I think she also told me once that some cousins moved south. I wish you would ask her about it some time and write me what she says about it. I think they are distant relatives of our family. I have not heard from home since Ursula's letter of February 17th and as she spoke of your being hurt by a fall I am anxiously waiting the arrival of another letter.Write soon.
- Hd. Qrs 1st Brig 3d Div. 25 Corps
- North East Station, North Carolina
- March 15, 1865
Once more in the field for good and tomorrow morning on the march up the railroad to Goldsboro. Deserters and contrabands report no enemy of consequence on our route and we expect no fighting until we join Schofield who went up to New Bern last week, and is now working his way slowly toward Goldsboro. My appointment has been confirmed and I am in command of this brigade. Our present camp is on the North East branch of the Cape Fear river just where the Wilmington and Weldon railroad crosses. It is ten miles from the city and the road passes through cypress swamps and over sandy belts of land covered with pines. These pine trees have all been boxed to obtain turpentine. This and rosin were the chief articles of export before the war of this section of country. In the swamp and along the roadside the trees are covered with a species of moss that looks very picturesque. It is dark grey color and sometimes hangs two or three feet from the limbs like drapery. There are plenty of snakes through the swamps in the hot weather. Copperheads and other venomous ones. When the weather is pleasant everything appears beautiful. Today we are having April showers. Last evening I received a very welcome letter from Mother and the children. As we expect to move tomorrow I write today. I am very happy to hear that Mother has recovered from the effects of her fall and earnestly hope she may be blessed with her usual good health for many years to come. I was much pleased with Valetta and Valerie's writing. They have improved materially since their former letter both in composition and chirography [penmenship]. I guess father helped a little, I know he used to help me once in a while when I was a school boy and those horrid compositions were called for. Oh, how I did dread them, my imagination was so dull I could think of nothing to write. Valerie wishes I was in a telegraph office. So do I or somewhere else where I could tell one night where I was to sleep the next, but this job I suppose is to be finished up the first thing and as I am in I might as well stay and see it through and then look out for telegraphs. I guess I shall be home by the time the cars come rattling through the quiet valley of Worcester. Mother wishes to know if my address is changed. You can if you choose direct in future to:
- Bvt Brig Gen Bates
- lst Brig, Ed Div. 25 Corps
- Washington, D.C.
The Journal I get once and a while. The address has never been changed from the 9th Corps. When father goes to Cooperstown he may change it and pay up if anything is due. I like to see a copy occasionally.Delavan
- Headquarters, lst Brigade, 3rd Division, 25th Corps
Faisons Station, North Carolina
- March 26, 1865
I did not write last Sunday for I knew I should have no opportunity of sending a letter when written, as we had cut loose from all communications with the North and were moving through the enemy's country to join the gallant Sherman.
We broke camp at North-East Station on the morning of the 16th of this month and boldly pushed up the railroad towards Goldsboro. Gen. Sherman was at Fayetteville and Gen. Schofield with the 23rd Corps at New Bern whither he had went a week previous to assist Sherman in reaching the coast, if necessary. Our column consisted of Ames' division of white troops and Paine's division of colored.
For miles our road lay through pine forests and swamps similar to what we had already passed through from Wilmington to North-East. The swamps were much easier passed than the Virginia lowlands as these had a hard sandy bottom while the Virginia mudholes had no bottom at all.
After leaving these lowlands and pine plains we passed through a very fertile and promising country, very much like the Northern states with the exception of high hills, instead of which we found a gently rolling surface.
Sherman's style of living on the country was pursued and many were the ducks, chickens, sheep and cows that graced the tables of the colored division. It is very nice for the soldiers but terrible for the inhabitants, the last mouthful in many instances being taken by unprincipled scoundrels, some of which you know are found in every class of society and every pursuit of life.
On the 21st of the month we found the invincible columns of that unequaled hero W.T. Sherman at Cots Crossing on the Nense River twelve miles above Goldsboro. Slocum's column was fighting at Bentonville and Schofield advancing on Goldsboro. That night the rebel army retreated and the next day Gen. Sherman issued an order to his troops stating that the campaign was ended and that they should now have rest. Sherman's army passed down the river road towards Goldsboro the 22nd and 23rd. The 24th Gen. Butler's (?) rebel cavalry hunting for Sherman's train ran into my brigade. They did not stop but a few minutes, however, not liking the appearance of the colored troops. I lost one man killed and eleven wounded. The next day Sherman's columns that were going to Goldsboro having all passed by safely, we were ordered to this point to guard the railroad which is in operation until everything is in readiness for the next campaign which I expect will be in about one month. The regular mail communications are not yet opened, but I shall send this letter off hoping it will reach you soon.Delavan
- Headquarters Ist Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps
- Faisons (?) Depot
- April 9, 1865
I am very happy to hear you have let out your farm and now do try and enjoy the remainder of your days without working so hard. If you need money for anything use mine. I am sure I should not enjoy it more if I used it myself. We march tomorrow to find the rebel army once more. I hardly think they will make a stand. Lee has been so terribly whipped at Richmond. If Johnson dares to risk a fight, however, why Sherman's boys are just the ones to meet him. I am in the best of health and enjoying myself very much. Went down to Wilmington Wednesday and stayed till Saturday just for a pleasure trip. Found everything lovely. On Friday news was received of the fall of Richmond and such a celebration you never saw. The weather is delightful. It is really a pleasure to live in such a climate. Our Corps has again been changed. We are now 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps. The change was made on General Terry's account. All the troops that came down to Fort Fisher with him and several other detachments were consolidated, forming the 10th Corps. No news of importance, except from the army of the Potomac, which of course you get before we do. Write often.Delavan Bates
- Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- April 16, 1865
Another city has been added to the list of the conquering hero. Raleigh, the capitol of North Carolina, is in our possession and the combined armies of the Cumberland, the Tennesee and the Ohio are encamped on the gently sloping hillsides surrounding the city. Two weeks ago while speaking of his next campaign Gen. Sherman said "on the 10th this army will move toward Raleigh and I don't care a damn who knows it and what is more, in three days from that date Raleigh shall be mine." Everyone was surprised to hear him divulge his plans this openly but says he "It makes no difference; I can go where I choose" and so we all think now, Sherman can go where he chooses.
Johnson left the city on the morning of the 13th without firing a gun for the defense of the place. Kilpatrick's cavalry have done all the fighting since we left the Wilmington and Goldsboro road. A few slight skirmishes were all he found necessary to make his way through. Terry's Corps moved up on the extreme left. Cox with the remainder of Schofield's army on our right, then Slocum's column and next Howard's on the extreme right. The cavalry covered the advance and left flank. We marched about fifteen miles a day starting at six in the morning and the head of the column getting in camp long before dark. Those guarding the trains were of course later, but as the roads were very good most of the way, everything was in generally good season. Our Corps arrived on the 14th and expected to march yesterday at 9:00 a.m. toward Hillsboro where Johnson is supposed to be. Slocum's column was to start at 6:00. We had notice also that we would pass in review before Sherman while going through the city. At daylight, however, a very heavy rainstorm set in and at eight o'clock orders were received that we would not march, accompanied with a rumor that Johnson had sent in a flag of truce with an offer to surrender if the terms granted Lee would be allowed him.
The rumor has not been confirmed yet and no one is very particular or cares much whether he surrenders or not. If he wants to have a good square fight before he gives up, why Sherman is just the man to give it to him. The inhabitants acknowledge themselves whipped and are willing to accept the Yankee rule with good grace provided we will protect what property they have left, and give them free access to our commissary department. I have found but few however that are in love with the Union. They accept it because they must and some of the most wealthy talk of leaving the country rather than be forced to live under the Stars and Stripes again. This generation will hardly become reconciled to the Lincoln government as they persist in calling our national head in Washington.
There is another rumor afloat. I hear the men cheering, let me see what it is--Hurra! Hurra! Hurra! Gen. Johnson's army is to march in today and deliver up their arms. Gen. A. C. Howard has arranged the preliminaries and the war is ended. No wonder the men cheer--Hurra! Hurra! Hurra! But stop, perhaps this is premature and it is only a rumor. I'll ride up to the city and see and as the mail may leave today, I'll put in this letter. If the rumor is true I'll write tomorrow again. So good bye,Yours as ever,
- Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps
- Near Raleigh, North Carolina
- April 23, 1865
The war is over. General Sherman announces the "suspension of hostilities and an agreement with Johnson and other high officials which, when formally ratified, will make peace from the Potomac to the Rio Grande." I can hardly realize it, however. To think that we have no more deadly bullets to face, no more glittering bayonets to meet in the murderous charge, no more shells howling and shrieking through the air, mangling and tearing in pieces your comrades on either side. It seems to me as the doctrine of universalism does to many. "Too good to be true". But notwithstanding my feelings it is nevertheless true. And how thankful that I have been spared to witness this day. You cannot begin to imagine the happiness and joyful feelings that fill each soldier's breast as he thinks of the past four years of bloody warfare coming to such a glorious end. The only thing that marrs our enjoyment is the death of Lincoln. That he should be killed by a cowardly assassin just as the dawn of peace was breaking forth into the full open day. It is too bad, too bad .... Our Corps passed in review before General Sherman the 20th of April. The 23rd Corps on the 21st, and the 20th Corps yesterday. I was down yesterday to the city during the review. General Sherman does not put on much style. He was in full uniform but without sword, belt or sash, his coat unbuttoned and his manner was very easy and unassuming. He was surrounded by a host of lesser heroes such as Slocum, Schofield, Cox, Terry, Williams, Hagen, Mowers and others. A galaxy of military celebrities that are not very often to be seen together. There are rumors afloat that we (the colored division) go down to New Bern soon. I hope not for this is a delightful country and very healthy. Raleigh is one of the prettiest cities I ever saw. Every Yard and the sides of almost every street are filled with beautiful shade trees giving a very refreshing look to the streets and residences. Two papers are published daily. Both profess union sentiments and endeavor to persuade the citizens to return to their old love for the Union. The railroad is in operation from here to New Bern and that you may have some idea of how soon we receive news I will tell you that Lincoln's death reached this point on the morning of the 17th. Many, however, refused to believe it until New York papers came clothed in mourning. Of course you will now begin to enjoy life with a new zest as I shall only be exposed to the common accidents of life which of course I should be in any business or anywhere. I am very glad that I remained in the service to the end and now do not care if the colored troops are mustered out tomorrow.Yours as ever,
© 1998-2003 by John G. Saint, Ted & Carole Miller