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Time Table as Remembered by James

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This was presumably written not long after the previous letter detailing the aftermath of Antietam. Some of the place names were near impossible to read, so there was some guess work involved – in particular, “Pensaluary” and “Rafam.” Jamie admits that his spelling is bad, but there are some locations that are easy to recognize, such as New York, Baltimore, Washington, Annapolis, and Rockville.

#11 Timetable Page One #11 Timetable Page Two

 

            James W Peckham                                    time table

We left Hartford Aug 25th 1862 on board city Hartford down river. stopt Wethersfield. Middletown. Essex. Saybrook. Saybrookbar. 1 hour. Then up sound to New York. Stopt one hour and Breakfast on board Ferryboat to Elizabethport on the cars. East Pensaluary. To Rafam. To Brattalboro, to York, Pen. To Brooklin, Pen to Baltimore. To took dinner. To Raleigh house. To Annapolis junction. Washington City. Stopt one night. To long Bridge. To Fort Scot Vir. To Fairfax Sema. Vir. Lofed two weeks Started. To Washing camp one night. To Leesboro 3 days. To Rockville one night. To Brookville one night. To Lebanon Chourch do. to New Market do. to Frederick City do. to Middletown 4. Hours. To Boonsboto one hour. To Pottsville stoped one night. 17th We marched to Antietam into the Battle at daylight in morning fought all day until dark when we was marched into a corn field to chase on and take a Battery we took it but paid dearly for it we was cut all to pieces by Grape and canister shot them 2 Brigades of Rebels witch drove us back and they posesion of the cornfield where our dead and wounded lay so we could not get to them until next two days so our mounded had to lay on the ground from 5 oclock Wednesday till Friday at noon when we drove them off so we could get them you better believe I was glad to find Horace alive but he was bad off I tell you it was meeting between us tell you he was so glad to see me he shed tears so did I could not help it although I can stand most anything to see him was to mouch for me my feeling gave way we went from there to here that ends my diary for this time so good by I mean to keep a memberrandum of all of any amount if can as poor as it is if you can read it I shall be glad Excuse bad spelling for I am a bad scholar you know

Jamie says that the wounded had to lay on the ground where they fell from Wednesday evening until noon on Friday. That is a long time to be injured and stranded without food or water. Horace and the other wounded were left to fend for themselves in a cornfield while the other Union soldiers were driven back by the Confederate soldiers. Thankfully, Jamie and Horace were reunited after the battle, and although my grandmother told me according to family stories Horace really wasn’t the nicest of people, he was happy enough to see Jamie that he cried. Both of them did. Horace was actually one of the lucky ones, since he at least got away with his life. Jamie and Horace’s other tent mates were not so lucky.

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Frederick City ~ September 14th, 1862: Burnside and Rebel Prisoners

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See how he scrawls in the margins? It’s so hard to read, but I’ve done my best and referred to my grandmother’s old transcription.

#8 Frederick City - Sep 14th, 1862 Envelope

#8 Frederick City - Sep 14th, 1862 Page One #8 Frederick City - Sep 14th, 1862 Page Two

 

 

            Frederick City, md

Sunday [afternoon] 4 ½ Oclock

Sept. 14th, 1862

 

My Dear Wife,

I now sit down to pen you a few lines let you know how we get along we are well ex the rheumatism I have it in my right leg so has Horace in his r leg it hurts us to march but we hoble along and keep up Twiss & Macaty as well.

we camped at new market last night started from there this morning at 7 Oclock got here at 12 OC Dis of 8 miles without any Breakfast not a mouth full here I got one loaf of bread about as large as your fist for 15 cent the rebels eat up every thing could get in Frederick while they was here, 500 rebels prisoner here in a brick building I have been down to see them. They look tough I tell you they are fiting 8 miles from here we can hear as plain as day a constant fire of cannon the sick wounded are coming in to this city all the time lots of them. but you need not worrie about me fore we shant have a chance to fight for Burnside drives them faster than we can go Burnside will kill all of rebels and kill us trying to get up with him he is on one side of the river Macll on the other Jackson in a tite place. we are on the ground where they fought Thursday now and then a spot of blood on the ground in the next lot to us. I went [off] after some water just now into the city I stoped to a house and got some dinner the woman was strong union I got two cups of tea some ham tomatoes bread Butter she would not take any pay I took her husband’s name Lewis V. Schole. She took my name told if I ever came this way again to stop her husband is with Burnside fiting the rebels good.

I have just been at roll call now I must close this so it will go to night if possible. we have good news Burnside has just brought 250 Rebels prisoners in to the city by our camp I saw them they looked bad enough they are not two that are dresst alike, dirty & [ragged] barefooted at that

we get along first rate for soldiers so don’t worrie about us I have wrote all about us you wanted me to

They are fiting like tigers I tell you we shall load our guns to night for the rebs.

So good night

we all send love to all

Horace said he did not feel able to write this time you can tell Charlotte

Please excuse this writing for is is in hurri wrote on a plate good by from your loving husband James

 

You may send me stamps if you please they are hard to get

Direct as before C I 16th W.D.C.

 

A couple of brief notes: Ambrose Burnside was a general and I’m pretty sure the “Macll” Jamie refers to is George B. McClellan, who was a major general. Both of them played very important roles in the Battle of Antietam, during which they spent a great deal of the time bickering about tactics via couriers. As you may know, that battle ended up being a huge bloody mess with over 22,000 dead, wounded, or missing. But we’ll get to Antietam later.

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Fairfax Seminary ~ Thursday, September 4th, 1862: One and a Half Miles from the Rebels

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This letter was written from Fairfax Seminary, which is now the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. The Fort Ward museum is nearby. There’s also a bunch of high schools, Inova Alexandria Hospital, and the Bradlee Shopping Center if that means anything to anyone. Here’s a picture of what it looked like back then. It looks pretty much the same today.

Fairfax_Seminary,_Alexandria,_Va_-_NARA_-_529388-1 Cropped envelope Fairfax Seminary - Sep 4th, 1862 Page One Fairfax Seminary - Sep 4th, 1862 Page Two

Fairfax [Seminary] W Vir, Sep 4 ‘62

Close by Fort Ward, Thursday morning 7 O’clock

My dear Wife,

I now take this opportunity to pen you a few lines to let you know that we are all well. H.J. we have not got our [tents] we sleep on the ground [at] night. I made H and me a hut out of brush, so have some of the rest [have] done the same. Robert and Fred & John day come over to see me yesterday but I was down to Fort Worth about a mile [digging] rifle pits and did not see him. 4 Conn. A.D.F. rifle pits around the fort. The rebels pickets is within a 1 mile & ½ from where we are so they say, I have not seen them yet, our army has fell back to where we are a about one hundred and fifty thousand of them. [Cavalry] artillery and [rifles] by lively times here. At 8 forts & 1.50 thousand men within 6 miles of us all in [sight], I can’t write more now I got to black my boots & [?] for the drill, good morning Katie.

We have guns and ammunition.

Good morning Katie­

Friday [morn.] I now sit down to finish this letter to you. Horace has got a [diarrhea]. I am well and [hardy] except a little cold, we expect to have warm work here soon. The Rebels pickets is in [sight] of our camp 1 mile long we have got lots of contrabands to work on them beside our soldiers. I have not seen Robert since that day but he is well, saw some of his men this morning. I am going over to see him today if I have time. We sleep on the ground yet but that is nothing bad plenty to eat, well [goodbye] at present I must close [for] this to go in the mail this morning love to all from your ever-loving husband,

James

Direct your letters to James W. Peckham Co. I. 16 Reg

Ct Vol

Washington, D.C.

In write soon as you get this I want to hear from you [goodbye]

My R[?] wife

From Fairfax [Seminary] Virg

 

Though James is mostly in good health, poor Uncle Horrace is suffering from an unfortunate gastrointestinal situation. Like most of James’s letters to Katie, he’s primarily just writing to reassure her that he’s okay and to update her on where he is. He may not have been receiving all of her letters due to his regiment moving around. However, he seems to have been in good spirits during the writing of this, keeping himself busy by checking on his friends camped out nearby, tending to Horrace, building more makeshift huts for them to sleep in, and of course by writing to Katie.

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

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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.