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Havens Letter: May 12 1865

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: May 12, 1865
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 8
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 2, Folder 8
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 1

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

Camp Remount
Near City Point Va
May 12th 1865
Dear Nell.
Yours of May 4th came
to hand this evening and being fresh
to
from a visit from Richmond I have
concluded to answer it immediately.
Yes. Nell I’ve been to Richmond
after all that I’ve said about it. I had
about given up the idea of going in prospect
of moving from here at any moment. until
last night when three of us decided that “sink
or swim. survive or perish, live or die” we would
go to Richmond to day at all hazards. Having
made up our minds to this we went to the circus
of Stone & Ropton. which has been performing
at City Point since Tuesday night. and by
the way here let me state that it is worthy
of the large audiences that have visited
them. Well. as I said. we went to the show.
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 2

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

and then to bed. and to sleep. Well. yes
we slept. till somewhere among the small
hours of the day. when with a sudden start
and shudder. I awoke. and found that all
the elements had broken loose. and wind
and water. thunder and lightning was making
every thing jingle. Well to make a short
story instead of a long one I will say
that we had a “right [illegible in original]” little shower.
This morning we got up late and dressing
ourselves started without waiting for breakfast.
reached the depot in time for the 8 O’clock
train and were soon on our way rejoicing in
the possession of a good cushioned seat and
a decent car to ride in. Everything was old
and there were no changes between here and
Petersburg. and I looked at the folks in
the car. But after leaving Petersburg I
began to open my eyes and look about me.
The country possessed no remarkably
features. except it were the appearance of a
little more civilization in the matter of fence.
cattle. stock and ploughed fields making
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 3

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

the country appear quite beautiful
The distance from Petersburg to Rich
mond is 22 miles. About midway be
tween the two cities a R.R. runs away
off towards Appomattox. or the Southside
road. and soon after that we struck
the outer line of works protecting Richmond.
It was near these works that Gen. Butler
cut this road and was afterwards compelled
to abandoned them once last summer.
Just before entering Manchester on
the south side of the James river. we passed
the camps of a part of Sherman’s Army
consisting of the 15th (Logan’s) corps and
20th corps. The 14th and 17th Corps marched
through Richmond yesterday. The trains
were passing through all day today..
The bridge over the river having been burned
the cars do not run into Richmond we got
off at the Manchester Depot and footed it over
to the city. Our eyes were wide open and we
were determined nothing of interest or notoriety
should escape our eyes. The first that we
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 4

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

the country appear quite beautiful
The distance from Petersburg to Rich
mond is 22 miles. About midway be
tween the two cities a R.R. runs away
off towards Appomattox. or the Southside
road. and soon after that we struck
the outer line of works protecting Richmond.
It was near these works that Gen. Butler
cut this road and was afterwards compelled
to abandoned them once last summer.
Just before entering Manchester on
the south side of the James river. we passed
the camps of a part of Sherman’s Army
consisting of the 15th (Logan’s) corps and
20th corps. The 14th and 17th Corps marched
through Richmond yesterday. The trains
were passing through all day today..
The bridge over the river having been burned
the cars do not run into Richmond we got
off at the Manchester Depot and footed it over
to the city. Our eyes were wide open and we
were determined nothing of interest or notoriety
should escape our eyes. The first that we
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 5

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

[5]

Fountains played in different parts of
the grounds and the green grass mingled with
beautiful flowers and shade trees made a
pretty aspect.. Feeling a right smart hungry
we sought some place where we might appease
our appetite. Tried first the Scottswood but
they “dined at two.” then tried a restaurant.
then another. and ordered real eggs shad.
potatoes coffee. and strawberries devoured
all which were pretty good ‘specially
the strawberries and then started out
on a tour of inspection through the town
Gen Lee’s house has gained quite a
reputation and we wished to see it. and
found it. on Franklin St. between 7” & 8” a
plain unpretending. three story brick building.
surrounded by a small yard enclosed with
a neat. iron fence. It was closed and one
would scarcely have beleived it inhabited.
the blinds and doors shut. were it not that
two old mens citizens were applying at
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 6

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

the doors for admittance. Next we started
out to find Jeff. Davis’ mansion
which is situated a mile or more from
Gen Lee’s on 12” Street near Marshall.
It is a more beautiful and imposing
structure than the other and gave evidence
of good taste and great wealth in its
builder ‘Tis a three story building built
of brick then covered with a heavy coat
of coarse sand and lime. giving it the
color of gray limestone with piazzas and
pillars both in front and rear. and
surrounded by beautiful and well shaded
grounds.. It commands an excellent
view of nearly every part of the city and
Manchester and I doubt not that
poor Jeff. in the Palmy days of the rebellion
before mule [mute?] sold for 20 dollars
a pound and scare at that thought
himself truly blessed. As to the size
of the city I can give no reasonable
estimate. but that it is larger than
any town I have seen south of Baltimore
Washington not excepted is I think

Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 7

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

a safe estimate. It has been and
still remains in many parts a
beautiful city. well laid out. the
streets running at right angles.
too narrow perhaps for real beauty
but well shaded. the dwelling houses
beautiful almost without exception
and many public houses and business
buildings. I do not know that I ever
visited a city where every house was worthy
of a special notice. equal to Richmond
Among the hotels. I noticed the Spotts
wood. the Richmond the United States
the Ballard House and one opposite. the
latter two being as large and beautiful
buildings as I ever saw. After viewing
all these sights we went down to the Libby
Prison. and were permitted to visit a part
of it. It has been described together
with its manifold horrors enough
already to fix its memory in the mind
of every loyal American and I can
say no more than that it justly deserves
every anathema. but has been altered against
it
Havens Letter: May 12 1865, Page: 8

Havens Letter: May 12 1865
Havens Letter: May 12 1865

To take any more interest in it one must
visit it himself and imagine as he treads through
its low rooms which only a short time ago
were crowded with his comrades what their
sufferings must have been and perhaps. when
they died on those floors. Many had written
their names on the rails and you can imagine
that I sought diligently for the name of some
acquaintance or comrade. I could imagine
a part of Poor Rene’s feelings as he looked from
those grates which were the outer limits of
his existence. then again. Poor Col. Litchfield
when chained to a negro. he lay upon the damp
floor of the most miserable room of all the
underground. I saw the hole through which
Col. Streight and his brother officers made
their escape. I did not enter Castle Thunder
A few rebel prisoners were confined in each
and a part of Libby is used as a hospital for
sick and wounded rebs. I caught a glimpse of
Belle Isle too. a naked. narrow sand heap and came
back to camp glad that I had been to Richmond.
(Your postmistress must haven been sold or
else tried to sell you for I have written to no
new one. in that region. I can assure you.
Had a letter from Aunt Jeannette. and Coz
Millie on Sunday night. and one from Helen
Tuesday night Willie is with his regt in the
[14th?] Corps. and if I had been in Richmond yes
terday I might have seen him. The cavalry
started on the 9th for Washington and we expect
orders to move every day. Late orders from War
Dept. dont seem to promise that I’ll get home before
next Oct. but who cares. I’ll have a good job all
the longer. There is one chance as I may be a
super numerary. non commish. and get out. Many
are swearing like mad over it but it dont worry
me a bit. My love to all and write soon
Ed
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