Havens Letter: September 4 1864


Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: September 4, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 26
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 26
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: September 4 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: September 4 1864
Havens Letter: September 4 1864

Harpers Ferry Va
Sept 4th 1864

Having nothing to do this afternoon
and wanting to write or talk to someone I
have concluded to scratch off a few lines to you
although it was only Thursday and ^ Friday that I
wrote Nell. last and but little of importance has
occurred. The next day after I went to the com
mand at Berryville the cavalry fell back some
six or eight miles between Ripton and Charlestown
and orders were sent in to have Hd Qrtrs wagons and
other things usually left behind on marches. or sent to
the rear in times of danger sent to the command at once
and two days forage and rations were to start at daylight
yesterday morning. The train ordered out for Friday
left here some after noon and reached the commands about
dark and just in time to find everything in readiness
to move back to the front again.. They marched back
to Berryville that night and yesterday morning started
on again the wagons following them on the road towards
Front Royal or Leesburg until nine or ten A.M.
Havens Letter: September 4 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: September 4 1864
Havens Letter: September 4 1864

and then returned reaching camp about 3.. P.M.
It seems from reports that Averill captured
a large supply train of Earlys and that Early
commenced falling back up the valley about the
same time that Torbert commenced falling
back towards Charlestown. Further reports state
(and these came to me from some of whom I am
intimately acquainted with. and who came from
Berryville this morning) that our infantry the
8th and 19th Corps followed our infantry on their
march up the valley but some ten miles in the rear.
It seems that Early turned back in pursuit of
Averill about the same time that Torbert started
with his cavalry towards Front Royal and that
an hour or so after Torbert had left Berryville
Early came down the road from Winchester with
a large infantry force and intercepted our infantry
leaving the cavalry in his rear. Heavy fighting occurred
last night soon after dark as the advance of our infantry
encountered Early’s force. Taking our forces by sur
prise they were at first driven back beyond Berryville
which Early occupied for a short time when our
forces again drove him back about a mile beyond
the town in which position the two armies lay at
daylight this morning
Havens Letter: September 4 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: September 4 1864
Havens Letter: September 4 1864

We have listened for the sound of cannonading
this morning but have heard none. The position
seems to have been all that Sheridan could ask for
and if he does not use this opportunity some one
will complain. It is hard to conjecture what our
cavalry will do. as Gen. Torbert does not enjoy the
confidence that many other commanders
might: What a chance there is for interfering with
their communications. If “Old Kill” or even our
little boy Custer had command of the corps we
would hear good accounts from them. But such
men as Torbert, Merritt and Wilson do not seem
capable of anything very brilliant..
Atlanta has fallen at last! and Sherman has
almost outdone himself in its capture. We of course
have seen only Stanton’s dispatch to Gen. Dix [illegible in original] based
upon Gen. Slocum’s dispatch stating that Atlanta was
occupied by the 20th Corps.. while the main army was
on the Macon road. Everyone feels cheerful and
confident that another summer’s campaign will
not be opened. but that next May will find war
at an end.. although some if not nearly all of our
army may be in the field.. It would amuse you
to see the antics of the McClellan men here

Havens Letter: September 4 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: September 4 1864
Havens Letter: September 4 1864

Some are offering to bet on his winning the race
at great odds. and I heard one officer express the opinion
that he would carry two thirds of the soldiers vote. It is
true that a great many. perhaps a slight majority. of
those who fought under him will vote for him but
of the later volunteers the number of his supporters are
but few. I have been much amused at some of the argu
ments advanced during the last week on both sides.
Such foolish ones as even Lincoln. or still better Union
men advance disgust me. What is the use of all these
bickerings these abuses that men of opposing parties will
heap upon each other in an altercation. (You cant call
it an argument. I have had an argument on the
question yet and wont if I can possibly avoid it. and
I believe I can.
There is but little about camp worth mentioning
Coming in from the front the other morning I noticed
a large number of men in federal uniform apparently
under guard and on inquiring of an armed soldier I learned
they were conscripts. It looks rather hard to see men in
blue under guard but every new hand that comes out
be he volunteer or conscripts now marches between files
of his brothers in arms. from recruiting depot to the com
mand which he is aligned to.. The same morning a
squad of soldiers stopped on Bolivar Highths to get
some breakfast and built their fire on a rock. had
boiled this coffee and sat around the fire eating
their “frugal repast” when boom “went something” and fire
coffee and everything took a rise except men who fell
sprawling and received fire and coffee on their persons
where it descended, It seems that in the rock was a shell
which was loaded and which they did not notice and
when the iron became heated through exploded..
By a lucky stroke of fortune no one was injured..
Well, what do you make out of this letter. Will it pay postage or
not. I have written without feeling any heart in the work
since I commenced and I do not feel that it amounts
to anything But such as it is accept it with the best
wishes of Ed..
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