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Havens Letter: August 11 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: August 11, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 25
Language: English
Rights Management: Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by Michigan State University and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.
Contributing Institution: Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections
Relation: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 25
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

Harpers Ferry Virginia
August 11th 1864

Dear Nell
We arrived here this morn
ing direct from Washington after a
march of three days. and found
your letters awaiting me and while
idling away the afternoon I will
try to give you a hasty description
of our journey here. I wrote you, I
think, on Wednesday last at Gies
boro point.. On Thursday I was
ordered to Washington on duty con
nected with the department. and
expected to have a very busy time
and lose an opportunity of visiting
the city in a manner suitable to my
own inclinations. But as luck
would have it, the Lieut who was actg
Brig QM took a notion to go down
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

and help me. and becoming
separated we did not meet again
that day and I was compelled to go
back to camp without accomplish
ing what I was sent to do. but, mind
you, this time was’nt lost to me.
for while passing the White House
whom should I meet but Newt Sparks
and as I had’nt seen him for more
than a year you can imagine whether
or no I was glad to see him..
We had an excellent time and
I would as soon have lost my
next years wages as missed seeing
him.. He is looking pretty pale and
slim for him. He went back to camp
with me and stayed over night
but the regt had started for the
front and he missed seeing all
the boys but Wm Graham who we
left at Camp Stoneman. near Geisboro.
Friday morning I went back to
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

the city with him and that
afternoon met the train on Penn. Avenue
coming through the city. They stopppe
that night just out of the city near
to Georgetown. and next morning at
daylight started for this place.
We took the pike leading to Rock
ville and marched to within five
or six miles of that place and then
halted through the heat of the day
That afternoon a young friend and
I concluded to go foraging and accor
dingly “lit out.” We rode over some very
poor country and stopped at two or
three or more houses. and learned
the sentiments of the inhabitants
and I must confess that the opinion
I formed of them was not a very
creditable one for their loyalty.
We found one generous. hospitable
Union man and received a hearty
welcome and some good old
fashioned stuff that he called cider
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

When we reached the train at
sundown we found them all ready
to move and it was not long before
we were off again. We kept the pike
to Rockville which led to Frederick
via. Poolesville but at Rockville turned
to the East until we reached the George
town and Frederick road. We drove
that night until the moon went down
(about 3 A.M.) and then halted and
prepared for a snooze. We were off
again soon after daylight and marched
to Monocacy Junction where we arrived
at about 3 P.M. This day and nights
march was the hardest I ever knew
our train to make The rate of speed
was about three miles per hour. which
for a train of 175 wagons all heavily
loaded and under a scorching sun
is extreme. We halted at Monocacy
till daylight yesterday morning and
then marched to Knoxville 3 miles
below here on the Potomac.. where
we remained till this morning at
daylight when we came here expect
ing to go directly to the front. some
wheres in the neighborhood of Winches
ter. but for some reason are still
here. but think that tomorrow
will see us on our way to the
command.. I hear that it is
now at Middletown but tomor
row may be miles from there
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

I do not know why it is but I
do not think so much of Maryland
now as I did last year. The country
excepting in the immediate vicinity
of Frederick City is no better than
that part of Virginia through which
we have travelled this past summer
and farms
and the houses ^ do not denote any
more enterprise and in many cases
not so much as in Va.. We passed
through several small villages such
as Clarksburg. Wyattstown. Jefferson
Millardsville and several others all
of which looked too much like the
villages of Southeast Virginia to
suit me. In nearly all of these
the majority of the buildings were
closed and the people out of sight
and those who were not looked as
though they were sorry they were
caught out of doors.. To be sure
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

there are good, more loyal men in
Maryland who were not afraid to be
seen talking to a “blue coat” but they
were like hens teeth. “mighty scarce.”
Rockville is a village of about five hundred
inhabitants I was told but I cant
tell anything about its appearance
as it was near midnight when we
passed through it.. I would describe
Harpers Ferry to you if I could. but
it is impossible. I believe I have some
where’s seen a print of it taken by moon
shine, or seen through a magic
lantern. and the longer one looked
at it the less he saw of it: and such
it seems here. We approached it
from below coming through a deep
gorge in the mountains through which
the Potomac runs. and did not see
the town until we came directly up
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

on it. It is as you will see by
consulting your map situated in Va
at the junction of the Potomac and Shen
andoah rivers and is right in the moun
tains. It cannot be approached from
any direction except through difficult
mountain passes. and seems to me to pre
sent a position which in military
operations would be impregnable. The
Maryland Highths are strongly fortified
and command the Virginia highths
while a “hog back” half a mile back
of town extends across the neck of [land?]
from the Potomac to the Shenandoah
and commands all approaches from
the valley. Were this ridge strongly for
tified as [illegible in original] the Maryland highths. I
can not see what could ever drive ten
thousand men from the place It is cer
tainly the strongest natural position
I ever saw. As to the town I do not
know where it is. There are a great
many houses scattered around some
Havens Letter: August 11 1864 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: August 11 1864
Havens Letter: August 11 1864

wheres besides the ruins of many others
but I can not see as there is any rela
tion between them. The map will tell
you as well as I can how it is con
nected with the outer world..
The ruins of the government buildings
prove them to have been extensive and
beautiful ones. A good, substantial.
and beautiful iron bridge spans the
Potomac. over which the railroad also
runs. and the piers in the Shenandoah
prove that there was once a connection
with the town and the eastern shores
of the Shenandoah. From the ridge spoken
of we have a splendid view of the country
away to the south and west. Directly in
this vicinity there seems to be several
large farms bearing large crops of wheat
oats corn and other means of subsistence
with fences and every thing in excellent
repair. The corn is very poor in the country
through which we have passed and I do
not think the wheat and other crops
[have?] been so good as they were last year.
Moseby and his men are playing hot
with our trains between here and the
army.. Day before yesterday morning
a train belonging to our division was
attacked at Perryville and about 60
wagons taken and burned. Those be
longing to our brigade escaped safely
but the other two brigades suffered
severely.. We have two regts [illegible in original]
for us tomorrow. so I do not think of
going to Richmond just yet. I received a
letter from Father this morning and will
write to both him and mother as soon
as possible. This is for all until I have
more time. Yours as Ever Ed
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