Tag Archives: Fighting

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Near Frederick ~ September 11th, 1862: Dear Parents

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Categories: Jamie & Parents, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have some notes from my grandmother I plan on posting soon regarding some of the things I had questions about, but in the interest of just keeping this blog going I’ll probably start posting more letters with minimal commentary. One important note though – Robert is James’s brother.

Also, I’m going to try to restrain myself from editing and adding punctuation or fixing spelling errors. Of course I say this now, right after I’ve transcribed one of James’s only legible letters. As you can see, he took special care to write in neat handwriting with passable spelling when writing to his parents. Apparently he was a little more concerned about the impression his letter would leave on them than he was with the impression Katie would get from his insane sprawling handwriting and cramped side-note-ridden margins.

#7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page One

#7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page Two #7 Dear Parents - Sep 11, 1862 Page Three

In Maryland                        September 11, 1862

Not knowing where we are I cannot tell you the name of the place

My dear parents                                                            Thursday night by candle-light

I now take this opportunity to let you know how we get along I am well except some rheumatism in my right leg and shoulders Horace to is well except a blister on his heel, we left our encampment in Leesboro this morning at 7 oclock marched 15 miles to this place got here at half past 4 oclock PM it was a hard march it rained most all the time the road was rough and my leg was a little sore Horace & Mr. Twiss and myself lagged on behind although we kept up with them we are near Frederick where Jackson is but that does not scare me we march again in the morning do not know what direction it matters not. it raines  now but we have got out shelter tents, I went over to a farm house and got some straw to sleep on so we are comfortable Sargent Macarty, Mr. Twiss Horace, Corporal Peckham are in one tent together sergeant is writing to his wife I to you and my wife & friends I left Robert in Virginia I supose he is well I do not stand in need of anything but should like to see you all and Katie for a short time but would not leave my country for I think it is my duty to do what I can. We have Prayer meetings as often as we can thank the Lord. I should have wrote to you before but did not have time we we have to march and drill most all the time but will write as often as I can you must do the same. I have not heard from home since I left Hartford should like to hear first rate expect to every day I cannot write half as much as I should like to must draw this to a close for tonight for it is time for roll call then the light is put out will write more in the morning if I can so good bye once and all for tonight Mr. Twiss sends his respects to my friends Katie knows him Horace sends his love also he will not write this time good night tell father to take care of himself                                                                        with love

September 12                        Lebanon Chourch

Dear Mother, Damaskus, Montgomery Country md

Friday night we moved on 15 miles from where we was last night got to this place at 5 oclock along march and a hard one. I had the rheumatism pretty hard this morning when we left at 7 oclock I walked a little ways then had to fall out they took me into the ambalance carried me about 2 miles then I walked the rest of the way Horace has got very sore feet he could not keep up in the ranks but we hobbled along behind we are very tired. Charles Parker & Perry Woodford and your James has just been over to a house to get some supper we got two cups of tea some fried ham potatoes hoecakes for 25 centers apiece we are 10 miles from Frederick City they have been fighting to day. Burnside and Jackson we can hear every big gun that is fired it sounds ugly. Good news a carrier had just come from Frederick the news is Burnside had whiped Jackson and taken back Frederick city good we will be there tomorrow if nothing happens I must close this for this time I am tired and lame and sore and will write no more it is 8 oclock at night tomorrow we expect to fight or next day

Well good bye

from your ever loving son James

love to all

write soon

Direct as before

Company I 16 Reg CT Vol Washington DC

from James WP

please write to me

by gorris please write to Horace

James

 

Jamie was younger than I am now when writing this letter, yet he complains of rheumatism. I guess we’d all be complaining of rheumatism if we had to march 15 miles every damn day.

 

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Fort Ellsworth, Virginia ~ Tuesday September 2, 1862: Within Earshot of the Battlefield

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Categories: Jamie & Katie, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here we find Jamie camped out with Uncle Horrace and their regiment 12 or 10 miles away from the battlefield. I’ll let you read the letter before I say anything else.

Fort Ellsworth - Sept 2nd, 1862 Envelope CROPPED

Fort Ellsworth - Sept 2nd, 1862 Page One Fort Ellsworth - Sept 2nd, 1862 Page Two

 

Fort Ellsworth Virginey 12 miles from Washington

Tuesday Sep 2 , 1862

Morning six o’clock pm

My dear wife                        it is just half past six.

Horrace & I are sitting on the ground beside a brush fire. Horrace is shivering with cold & wet. It rained all night and we all slept on the ground, the Reg and officers & all slept together. I went down into the bushes, [piled] up some brush, spread Horrace’s blanket on them then we lay down, put mine over us & went to sleep until morning. I feel first [rate?] we’d all got wet through to our skin, I expected to have the [rheumatism] but have not. We shall have our tents [today]. We marched from Washington yesterday, we [passed] a train of sick and wounded soldiers some with an arm, leg gone. 8 Oclock I have just been over to Fort Ward the first Lt. Ar. Is there 2 Comp E.L. Cor A.B. is in Fort Blinker about ½ miles from here. They say Robert is there. I am going over there after breakfast if I can to see him.

We are within 10 miles of the battlefield­ where they are [fighting], can hear every gun that is fired, it sounds nearby I tell you but we are ready for them, let them come. The pickets took 3 rebels [Cavalry] last night and brought them in to the fort [within] 50 rods of where I am writing, [goodbye] I am going over to see Robert.

20 min to 4 oclock am. I have been over to Fort Blinker and found Robert, [they’re] all well, he had a letter from Bub Brown last night the first he [knew] about my [enlistment] but he did not that I was so near him. I was glad to see him so was he to see me, he went back to camp with me and [stayed] a hour. He is not so fat as he was when he left home. He wrote home just before I got over there this morning, we are close together now so we can see each other every day if nothing happens.

He does not stand it as well as I do. I am well hope this will [reach] you the same. Tell Mary I will write to her next. Give my love to all. I don’t know as you can read this letter if you can’t I will write the next letter.

Lots of love to you

And good wishes

I was [sorry] that we did not stop to Lyme that night.

Wrote in a [hurry]

[Goodbye] wife.

Direct my letter to

Washington

Co. I. 16 Reg Ct [Val?]

Washington DC

{scrawled message on page 2}

I am in a hurry to get this in the mail wagon.

[Goodbye] O friends at home.


The conditions Jamie describes sound fairly miserable but were probably very typical for a camp that hadn’t even set up their tents yet. The image of Jamie and Uncle Horrace huddled together underneath his blanket on a makeshift bed made out of a pile of brush makes me smile. Sometimes when trying to transcribe these letters, I get really frustrated over his horrible spelling and find myself assuming that he wasn’t the brightest of men, but he clearly had a sense of humor and was very resourceful which are much more important indicators of intelligence, or at least of a more useful kind of intelligence than being book smart. If you threw me out into the woods to fend for myself against the elements, I’d probably end up dead within the first ten minutes because I’d trip over a tree branch and bust my head open on a rock.

Something else here that I found interesting is that Jamie isn’t keeping all of the disturbing stuff from Katie – he tells her that they passed a train full of sick and wounded, some of them missing arms and legs. He also tells her just how close he is to the battlefield, but assures her that they are ready should anything happen. I am happy that he didn’t keep these things from her for two reasons – 1) I wouldn’t have much to write about here if all he said was “yeah, we’re fine nothing too interesting going on don’t worry about it, and 2) it shows that he had enough respect for Katie to want to share the truth with her and to know that she could handle it.