Civil War Letters of the Bartlett Family
Source: "The First Hundred Years of Lake County, As Lived and Acted by Bartlett Woods and Family and by Sam B. Woods and Family", 1938,
by Sam B. Woods.
Submitted by K. Torp
LETTERS FROM THE ARMY -
These letters written at the time of the Civil War were an exchange between Bartlett Woods and his son, Edmund B. Woods who was a soldier in the Army. Soon after these letters were written Edmund took sick and died and was buried at Nashville, Tenn.
The one written by Charles was a brother of Bartlett Woods who wrote the letter to his brother, William, and he forwarded
it to Bartlett Woods.
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Letter of Edmund B. Woods, dated August 19th, 1862, at Camp Rose, South Bend, Indiana, written to his father Bartlett Woods.
"Camp Rose, South Bend, Aug. 19, 1862 Dear Father:
We are under marching orders so thought I would write home before we start. We are to be all ready and into line at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning, bound for Indianapolis. As soon as I heard we were going, I got a pass and went down town, and got my likeness taken and I think you will consider it very good, only I was sorry that we did not have all of our uniform. Our blue pants shows white in the likeness. I sent it by Mr. Firestine from Centerville, Lake County, Indiana. He said he was going home today. So you can send to Centerville and get it.
This makes the third letter I have sent to you, and I have not received any. Now I want some of you to write. This is the last until I hear from you.
Day before yesterday the Colonel granted furlough to 25 of our men. Yesterday as they had got all ready to go, and about to leave the order was countermanded, and they could not go. Uncle Charley was going home but now I guess he will go to Indianapolis first. He is right by my side writing to Henry this morning. Him and I are going to send our letters together.
Mr. Cramer is here, he has $20.00 for you that I sent, we got our bounty money last Sunday, and they said we would get our advance wages this week. I sent you orders for two county orders this morning. Was offered one for $5.00 and paid for it. If you cannot turn one of them in for taxes, perhaps you had better let one of the neighbors have it. It is just as good as money to pay taxes.
Dr. Teegarden (of LaPorte) gave our company all $1.00 apiece for being Company "A". (That is to say the first to fully enlist 100%.)
I allmost forgot to tell you of the picnic dinner that the people of St. Joseph County gave us last Saturday. It was a splendid dinner, just the best they could afford, said the tables were 1200 feet long. They were built in a square, and our company marched all the way around and at the head of our company there was a cake about .18 inches high, and all coated with red, white and blue in sugar, and a flag in the center. It was splendid. There were about two thousand of us.
This is as far as I got when I heard my name called off by Sergeant Fry, and he had three letters for me, one from you and one from Uncle Wellington Griffin. He saw the letter I wrote grandma, and he wrote a long one to me. I was glad to hear from him, and one letter was from Wat Braley. I was glad to hear from home, and sorry to know the crops were so bad, but keep in good spirit you can live through it. I sent you $20.00 in money, and $20.00 in orders, and you can use it for anything you want. I would like to invest my county money in a good young colt, and the rest you take as your own.
Do not reserve any of the $20.00 because I will send you more before long. We are to get $15.00 this week. The scythe that you could not find I put in the grass just on the southwest corner of where we mowed, by the colt shed if I remember right. We have two regiments here the 73rd and 87th.
I went to see Dr Henriecks, and he had gone to Joliet, Illinois. Mr. Colfax is in our camp every few days, but he never inquiries for me, so I suppose there is no chance to get into the quartermaster's department. They are very busy there, and I should like to be in it. One night Colfax came out to camp and the Jasper boys invited him down to their quarters and entertained him with some music, and singing, and I stood right by his side and talked with him as much as any of them, but I did not ask him anything about getting into that position, or anything about whether he got your letter.
Your affectionate son,
Edmund Bartlett Woods
Letter of Edmund B. Woods, dated Sept. 14, 1862 written to his father from Camp Buell, Ky., near Louisville.
"Camp Buell, Ky., Sept. 14, 1862. Bear Father:
I received a letter from you and Henry Muzzall last Thursday night. Very much pleased to hear from you and Henry. I am glad you all keep in good health. Whether you are in good spirits or not I cannot say. It is enough to discourage the stoutest heart to see the situation the country is in. They will not leave enough men at home to take care of the property that is left behind, besides the way we have been served since we left South Bend.
In the first place, why was we sent out of Indiana without arms or drilled in the least. All of our officers thought that we would stop at Indianapolis not less than ten days to three weeks and get a little drilled and receive our equipment and them as good as any other regiments have received.
Lt. Col. Bailey said that he would never have left Indianapolis without our just dues if he had been colonel. He is a noble man, and he is liked by the whole regiment. But the old colonel receives many curses from the men. When he was at Lexington some of the men was sick in Co. E, and they heard there was some chees owned by an old planter in sight of the camp, so the boys went over to buy some but the old fellow would not sell them a pound though he had twenty large ones. They came back satisfied he was a rebel, and the cheese was for the rebel army, so the next night the boys went out and killed a hog, two sheep and all of the chickens there was, and he complained of them, and the Old Colonel chimed right in with him, and gave orders not to take even a rail. There they were, all secessionists around us, at least they proved themselves so, after we left.
That was great generalship sending us 130 miles south of the River and then retreat back on the double quick, many of the men falling by the roadside exhausted. Some fell senseless and had to be brought to with spiritous liquors.
We moved yesterday afternoon and came about five miles nearer town. We are about a mile and a half from Louisville, encamped on a meadow. The Chicago Board of Trade Battery was camped about 30 rods from us over at the other camp. I have just been after water and found an Indiana Battery from Wayne County and the Board of Trade Battery right near by us again.
Things look better here now. We are ready for the rebels, let them come, if not we will follow them and make them skedaddle for a change.
Have you got my likeness and do the boots fit I sent you. I have not received any letter from William or Caroline. I got a Tribune this morning, so did Uncle Charlie. He is well and all the boys are well. Today is Sunday, a very different one from the Sunday we were retreating from Richmond.
With my best respects to yourself,
Your afft. son,
E. B. Woods."
Letter of Edmund Bartlett Woods to his father, dated Sept. 26, 1862.
"Out on picket. Sept. 26, 1862. Dear Father:
Received your kind letter of the 20th last night and much pleased to hear from home and to know that you are well. I felt quite well last night. I was out on picket the other night and it was very cold and stormy and I caught a very bad cold, but I have been around all the time and done all I have been called upon to do. I feel some better this morning, but didn't eat any breakfast, I slept until we started on picket, at daylight this morning.
We are still in camp in sight of Louisville, and we are out about a mile and a half from camp. There are ten men in our squad. We have to stand in the day time and too at night.
I will have to stand about an hour at a time in the day, and at night two hours. So you see it is not hard to stand picket. All the boys would rather stand picket than stay in camp. They have kept us at work on the entrenchments nearly all the time since we have been here. We have done some chopping and have felled trees in the principal places around camp.
I was detailed yesterday to chop in the grave yard. We have entrenched it from one end to the other. It looked hard to go in there and dig up the carriage road arid the walks all paved with <tone a foot deep. Everything was as nice as money and work could have made it. This did not save it from destruction. All of the 73rd had to dig there enough to protect themselves.
After the trenches were dug they cut everything clean. Just below is a deep ravine which we filled full of trees yesterday morning. They have been in a great fright lately about Bragg. Four or five days ago Nelson ordered all of the women and children in Louisville to be ready to leave the city at once. And a great many did leave for Indiana, besides a great number of the military stores. The sutlur left and the reports are that he went over into Indiana. Business was suspended for several days but was resumed yesterday. We were all in the trenches at the grave yard at three o'clock in the morning, laid there until about sunrise waiting the arrival of Mr. Bragg & Co. But he did not come yet. If he does come we will give him a warm reception. Some of the boys were detailed last night at ten o'clock to go and build breast works for a Battery and worked till 4 o'clock this morning.
If there is anything to do, it does not make any difference, you will have it to do, whether day or night. I hope you will get the wheat threshed, so you will have some winter wheat. Can you not buy some white wheat-do so if you cannot get ours threshed, if it is not later than next month, it will be twice as good as spring wheat if it is late.
We will not get our pay until the first of November, as we were on the ske-daddle when the pay roll ought to have been made or we would have received our pay sooner. Major Krim-bill is quite sick, I lent him $7.00 and I will receive that on pay day. I will send you all the money I can and if you want to spend it you may do so. We have no Indian rubber blankets as yet. We can draw our overcoats as soon as we want them, and will take them.
Soon it is reported that some of Buell's army is here, but I do not know if the 9th and 15th are here. I will soon find out and go and see some of the boys if I can get out of camp, and that is difficult to do. We are under just so stringent orders. We dare not touch anything whether Rebel or not. If we take a potato or a turnip, we are liable to be shot or such other punishment as a courts martial may decide. We must buy or go without. We do not get half that we are allowed. The commissary department is swindling us scandulous. Somehow all we get is hard crackers, beans, sugar, coffee and rice, salt included. We are entitled to fresh beef twice a week, when it can be had, potatoes, flour and corn meal and tea if I remember right. I forgot to say that we draw pork, but as a general thing it is not fit to eat.
"We have sent some of the stinking food back to the quarter-master. I would rather be in the ranks than in the quartermaster department, as far as the work is concerned it is very dirty work without you are the clerk, and there is only one.
Reed stands it very well, he has not been sick that I know of since we left home. Capt. Rice is a noble fellow, he is as kind as a father to us. Fry has left us at present I believe, he is assistant quartermaster in the brigade. Uncle Charlie is clerk in that department, he is well.
The boys in my mess are R. D. and L. A. Fowler, Milo Pelton, David Pulver, Allen Gregg, Tunis Farmer. There is 18 in Mess No. 5. In Mess No. 4 is Oliver Wheeler and John F. Meyers, I thought it no use to name all of them because you do not know them.
lam glad Caroline is going to school to Bert. She will find him a good teacher. I will write to her soon, but have not received any letters from her or Will. Why don't they write. It keeps me writing all the time to answer the letters that I received. If you have heard from Mesham, let me know, or if any of the boys from around home have gotten hurt, write me in your next letter.
We will come off from picket tomorrow morning.
I will mail this when I get in camp. I sent you all letters with Tom Phillips. I am glad Alfred Hayward has got well. I think I have sent three letters to you, that you have not got, and one to Will and Caroline.
No more this time, With love to all I remain,
Your affectionate son,
Edmund Bartlett Woods.
Letter of Bartlett Woods to Edmund Woods, his son, in the army near Louisville, written October 9, 1862.
"Ross, Thursday night, Oct. 9, 1862. Dear Edmund:
We were all very much pleased to read your welcome and interesting letters, especially with the one from Henry enclosed, who we are glad to hear is well. His visit to you must have been pleasant, as it was gratifying to us.
We had three or four letters from you the last of this week in pencil. You state you are assisting in getting the mules in working order. I see by the letters as well as the papers that you have commenced a forward march. We are sorry to hear that you are so unwell, you should have your overcoats if you are not better and your cough continues you must go into the hospital. Do not neglect it as a little prevention and care may save you a prolonged sickness.
If your provisions are bad report to the Captain and he will attend to it. I am glad Rice is so good a man. You are fortunate in having him, and Mr. Reed as your chief officers. I have sent you several papers, and George Tyler sends you some papers if you got them.
We have heard of Nelson's death in the papers and in your letter. Your Uncle William wrote to you last Sunday and he has received a letter and $20.00 balance from Henry. You must know how rejoiced I was over the issuing of Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation to take effect on the 1st day of January next in all those states that then still remain in rebellion. Now they have their choice. If the rebels resist-and they will-Emancipation and freedom forever to all slaves.
The issue then will be fully made, it will be in earnest and in reality a battle between freedom and slavery. Their element of strength will then be to them an element of weakness. We will be fighting for freedom, justice and humanity. Slavery as a power in this country must be destroyed. We have lived as a neighbor to slavery for 86 years, and have tried to make the infernal thing work harmonious with republican institutions, and the results have been discord and allmost National death. Slavery must die that the nation may live. Freedom on this continent must be supreme, and in after years future generations will bless the men that assisted in overthrowing the monster, and making this a really free government.
I suppose the Kentucky Unionists howl at Lincoln. The world does move and the progress of the 19th century cannot be stopped to please them. Make the South fall, and the black man will stay there and live. This bugaboo of the black man coming north is all a fiction. Some come now-it is a temporary necessity. So if I was burnt out, I might be compelled to intrude in another man's house for shelter.
God bless Abraham Lincoln, and we will sustain in him. You are fighting for freedom now, not only for the black man, but for freedom generally, the freedom of speech, the free press, the free ballot box, and free schools, all over the South so that slavery shall no longer rule us. And nigger plantations shall no longer take our territory, making the power of slavery sit in the cabinet and representing us abroad in other lands, sitting even in the president's chair in our own land. You can now all fight with a will.
God is with us now, if you have pro-slavery generals, they can't stop the great wheel of events, it will roll on, and if they get in the way, it will crush them.
Tomorrow I go to Crown Point to hear Colfax and Turpie. Some fear that Turpie may be elected with so many republicans gone to war, but I hope not It would indeed be a sad calamity. You must get the Crown Point paper sent to the boys. It is too old when I get it for me to send, or I should send it to you.
I have been to Chicago with the hogs. They weighed 15 of them the No. 1 took-4200 lbs. I got $3.15 per hundred lbs. for them. I should have taken 16 but one had pigs. They fetched me $132.30, and out of that I had to pay freight, etc. They went to Canada. Wheat is up nice and green. I got it in in good order though wet to the skin the last day. Jefferson dragged all one day when Willy was sick. Willy helps me a good deal, he is well now. We all had a hand in it, mother included.
I had twenty bu. from the machine, and cleaned it, and let Hoffman have a half bushel and then had just enough to sow. I have it furrowed nicely. Henry Muzzall helped me cut the buckwheat, about 25 bushels. I think I shall stack it. A few turnips-potatoes rotten-corn now ripe, and no blackbirds.
"I saw Wellington and Edgar, all well. I went to Dr. Walet in Chicago, Mesham's doctor, for my ear and side. I
have felt unwell lately. I have had a pain in my side and my ear rings badly. I have got some medicine and will follow it up. I am now building the hog pen, and I go away from home but little. I cannot get time. No word from Mesham. I know he is with the regiment at Fort Lyons, at Alexandria.''
"Mother and the children have picked a bushel and a half of cranberries. I sent you a paper with the names of those wounded in the 20th regiment only 2 serious, none killed in Co. B. Christian Holdsworth leg amputated, expect him home. Col. Brown killed.
Be sure and go to the hospital if your cold and cough troubles you. Take some cayenne pepper and put a little in cold water and a little sugar in it will warm you up, and you can carry it in your pocket. Thompson is now putting the shingles on the school house. Watson Baeley is home sick and he is lending a hand today.
Try the pepper. Get some of the doctor or the sutler, it is in bottles, be careful if you buy any from the stores. If you had stayed we would have sent you some cranberries, pickles, cabbage and perhaps we can yet. We all send our love to you, Henry and your Uncle, and remain your affectionate father.
Letter of Charles Woods written Dec. 28, 1862, from Gallatin, to his brother William.
"Gallatin, Dec. 28, 1962.
I should have answered your letter before this had Bart been down respecting poor Edmund, and I naturally knew he could tell you more in one minute respecting our situation in camp life, than I could write in a week. I received the letter from father and from Sally and also the photograph for which I was highly pleased.
I wrote a very long letter to Sally and told her I considered it not only a letter to herself and husband but also to father and mother. I gave her a very general description of our retreat from Kentucky River by Kirby Smith, and also the action of Buell on his march from Nashville to the relief of Louisville, and also the sympathy he seemed to have for the welfare of Bragg, at all times when our men came on his rear and opened fire, the word was invariably halt. And also the trap we had Morgan in at Versailles, and then flinging three shells at him with orders to our men to lay on their arms, and wait until morning; or more honestly speaking to wait until Morgan had skedaddled out of the way of the Damned Yankees, as the Tennessee Sesesh call us.
Such proceedings as we have seen fairly made the majority of the thinking portion of the soldiers, which are the bone and sinew of the army, look at one another and ask what in God's name does that mean, and what was we sent here for.
We had the traitor (fowled) and there is not a rear rank man but knew enough to bay him. But the answer is invariable traps or a nigger in the fence. The affair at Hartsville was bad, but it was reported by some to be the fault of Dumont, he was not near that part of the brigade, being 16 miles distant and could not be any more implicated in it than if he had been in Chicago. It was a bad affair but was a surprise just before the break of day in the morning.
We were aroused the night after Bart left with the long roll, and expected an attack from Morgan, in fact we have been in readiness to receive him, being now reinforced by some fine old regiments and one regiment of regulars.
They handle themselves more like the soldiers did in Canter-bury than any men I have seen since, I have been in the service. The 18th Regulars, 2nd Minnesota, 14th Ohio, 10th Ind., 17th Ind. and 72nd Ind. and also a battery I don't remember the name of. But I expect Morgan has finally made up his mind not to attack us. The last alarm we had was in the night last week. But the nearest he came was in about 15 miles from here and with about 8,000 strong.
It was ascertained his destination was Kentucky to break up the railroad and to stop the transportation from Louisville. It was so for he tore up the track near Horse Shoe Cave called Cave City, and on Saturday morning a lot of Infantry and Cavalry with Lilly's Indiana battery were sent in pursuit of him, and the last report is that they have him surrounded, but I believe nothing I hear, it won't do in camp.
The Fort that has been building here is nearing completion, and it is a very hard place to take when the heavy guns are mounted. Bart will explain that more fully than I can in a letter.
Our division is once more broken up. Dumont was taken very sick and had to give up his command, and our brigade was turned over to Paine. We were then ordered to reduce our brigade teams to five-six mules teams, and deliver up 12 teams to the division. At that time I thought I saw my head taken from my shoulders, and supposed the general would say, or through Capt. Coolidge, the brigade quartermaster, that he no longer wanted my services as assistant wagonmaster, and that I and my horse would have to ske-daddle.
But the captain says, "Well, Uncle Charley, I have got the very spot for you and want you to fill it." "What is that," says I. "Why walk in to my office and take up your quarters with me and the staff, and help James McCorckle in my office."
Thereupon instead of having to go back to the Bloodhound, Old Hathaway, which I never would have done. . . .I never swore to support a tyrant, but I swore to support the United States, which I calculate to do, and have done, and I have given satisfaction to such men as Gen. Ward, Capt. Spill man, Commissar of the Brigade and Capt. Coolidge brigade quartermaster, who are men, and think more of a man than of a mule, even if a mule does cost the most.
I am well, and never was so hearty in all my life. I have a good horse which I call Cisaroe. But all in all I am a very sorry material to make a first rate soldier, a being destitute of speech, thought or action. That is if it extends to any further speech than "Yes, sir." He must not think, out loud, for it is truly unmilitary to hold common conversation with a private. As for action, you may act out your orders, and no more. Do all of this and you are under what is termed military discipline.
As it is strictly understood that no superior in rank take any counsel from an inferior. Therefore the presumption for a common soldier is that he have these particular faculties of speaking, thinking and acting.
If he should have to be liberally endowed with these faculties, by the creator, it is better for his comfort if he could not possibly control his sentiments, that he keep them from the shoulder strap gentry, to them gag himself.
I am as I said before, as comfortable as a man can be, without the shoulder straps. But you may ask, do they give the man the power of speech, the comprehensive powers of discernment and the capabilities of a soldier. The military powers that be think so. . . . .But it is hard to put brains in a fool's hand, and hard to place courage in the breast of a coward. But such is military life.
I am the wrong material to make a good soldier, but if old General "Ward was to give me a task to perform, be it ever so hazardous, I am the boy that would do it, or faint. I would certainly make an effort.
They sent me to Scottsville with three teams without a guard. Capt Coolidge asked me if I was afraid. I asked him if it was his orders, and he said "yes." I told him I never allowed such thoughts to enter my mind. I went and as luck would have it, brought my small train through safely, 32 miles out and 32 miles back, and not a Union man to protect us, and all the way in enemy's teratory.
The next week old Morgan took 100 head of cattle on the same road, about 15 miles further on. I now have my descriptive list, and my regular detail papers, so that Hathaway cannot come and take $l,000.00 with him away from Gen. Ward's paper brigade.
I have not received a penny of the money that they owe me, now three months of pay, my regular pay and also my forty cents extra as a detailed man. Gabe Hughes called and saw me the other day. He is speculating in butter. The price of things would surprise you. A plug of tobacco that used to sell at 10c now costs 40c; common shirts, $3.00; boots, $7.00 to $10.00; whiskey $2.50 a canteen full. In fact everything is at extra prices. Give my respects to Sophrona, and all your children, Miss Fatterle, Cook, Fisher, in fact all friends too numerous to mention.
I remain your affectionate brother,
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