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Havens Letter: June 4 1865

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: June 4, 1865
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 9
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 9
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 1

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
Havens Letter: June 4 1865

On Board Steamer Iron City
Ohio River June 4th 1865

Dear Nell.
Again I am about to
continue my “occasionals” the last of
which was issued from Parkersburg
yesterday. and in which I gave you
the outlines of our journey from Washing
ton to that point. Had I possessed a
little more time yesterday I would
have tried to give you some slight
description of the country through
which we passed. and today. if you
can manage to make out what I
am trying to write I will give you
a further description. This confounded
old stern wheel steamer goes pitching
tossing and rolling along. like a “Billy
Goat” tied to a post: and aided by a
most miserably [point?] pen I can
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 2

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
Havens Letter: June 4 1865

scarcely [illegible in original] a single letter in
accordance with the rules of Spencer.
Bryans and Stratton or any of the
great chirographers of our day or
any other..
By a reference to the map you
will ascertain the course of the Balto
and Ohio R.R. and can find the
principal towns along the route. You
will see also that the country is repre
sented as being rough and mountain
ous but no map can ever give me any
idea of what the B and O RR is. [Nature?]
never found anything one half so rough
and art alone could have done it.
Crooked. Crookeder. crookedest of all
roads. rougher. roughest. slower. slow
est. with the poorest. accommodations
and meanest regulations that ever
existed on any road in a civilized
country.. Bring an accommo
dation train [illegible in original] near obliged to
give the track to everything
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 3

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
Havens Letter: June 4 1865

and spent one half our time in
laying on some side track while from
three to ten trains passed us…
The country from Martinsburg is
very mountainous along the railroad
and from Grafton to Parkersburg a
distance of one hundred miles. there
h
are 80 bridges and 20 tunnels throug
the mountains. the tunnels ranging
from 20 rods to more than a mile
in length. We were 14 hours running
this distance After leaving Martins
burg. the principal places were
Cumberland Md. and Grafton and
Clarksburg West Va. We also passed
in sight of Hancock Md. Cumber
land is a very pretty town of considerable
size. and contains many important
business buildings and a “right
smart” of pretty girls.. We had
a good supper at the River House
the best part being some splendid
Beef steak. the like of which I have
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 4

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4
eaten since Mother used to
cook steak for us. A few
miles from Cumberland we again
crossed the Potomac and all was
“Old Virginny nebber tire” again. But
if “Old Va” did’n’t tire I did and have
‘n’t fully recovered yet although
I am gaining some. At Cumberland
the men got hot coffee and again at
Grafton. which being the junction
of the. N W.Va R.R. and B and O. is a
town of some importance and consid-
erable size We only stopped long
enough to get our coffee and then
went on to Clarksburg. where as I
stated before we were detained by
an accident on the train in
advance of ours.. We were well
pleased to reach Parkersburg and
have an opportunity to straighten
ourselves out before proceeding
further. I got a good breakfast
and then worked at my old
business until I had replenished
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 5

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
Havens Letter: June 4 1865

the mens Haversacks. and then looked
around the town a while but found it
only a one horse sort of a place and
was glad to get away. The govern
ment has so little steamboat trans
portation on this river and is now
sending so many troops to the west
that they are compelled to seize the
regular packet boats on the river
and use them. We are now on board
one obtained in this way.. a long wide
flat bottomed stern wheel keel. Three decker. packet
boat running between Pittsburg and
Parkersburg. Six hundred men can
be quite comfortably accommodated
as soldiers on board of her. and
the officers have state.. rooms. Being
acquainted with a young Lieut I
accepted an invitation to share a
room with him.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 6

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6
The accommodations are
good and as it will take us six
or seven days to reach St Louis I
anticipate a pleasant journey. The
Ohio River is not wider at any of
the points we have passed yet than
the general width of the St Joe and
being very crooked it seems hardly
possible to run such a boat as ours
The country along the banks is
broken and we have passed many
coal mines and Oil wells both
in Va. and Ohio. Last night we stop
ped to take on coal at [illegible in original] a
city seven miles in length along
the bank of the river but being
quite dark I could not see its
width. On the Va the oil wells abound
in large numbers. On account of the
fog we were compelled to lay by
for a time and when I crawled
out I found nearly everyone on
shore [cooking?] their breakfast.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 7

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7
We were on the Ohio side of the river
a few miles above the mouth of Big
Sandy run

Cincinnatti Ohio
June 5th 1865
Having found it almost impossible
to write while the boat was in motion
yesterday I stopped after scratching
the forgoing lines and now while lying
here I will take up my disconnected
story and jog ahead. After the fog
had cleared away and the men had got
their breakfast we started and kept
along our route steadily passing by
the way Brandenburg Ky. Ripley Ohio
Maysville and Augusta Ky. and many
of the smaller and less important towns
whose names I did not learn. and
reached this point at about 11 Oclock
last night and anchored near the
Kentucky shore opposite Newport.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 8

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8
This morning I turned out as early
as possible got ashore and took a stroll
through the streets of Newport. before the
boat got under weigh and then we
only came to this side for orders. It is
now nearly ten A.M. and we are
only waiting for a pilot before proceed
ing on our way. Of course we have but
little chance to see Cincinnatti as we
know not how soon we may leave and
it [wd be?] very unpleasant to have them
go off and leave us. I have been up
into the city a little ways. but can
not say anything concerning the town
which can not be seen from the river on
account of the big houses along the
shore and the immense clouds of
coal smoke that hover over it.
Newport and Covington are situated
directly opposite Cincinnatti on
the Kentucky side and in one town
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 9

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9


Some small stream divides them and
I suppose entitles each part to a separate
name. Newport is quite a pretty town. Covington
I can say nothing of. the stay here in Cin-
has been quite long enough and now we are
moving again. We shall probably reach. Louis
ville to night at midnight.
Could we move along without stopping at
any of these points it would be much more
pleasant. as little or no restriction is placed
upon the liquor traffic and when the
men can get it you may depend upon
it they will. and although we lay at
Cincinnatti less than two hours nearly
one 4th of the men are drunk and any
one not accustomed to it would think
from the noise that we had a float
ing madhouse instead of a crew of men.
sensible rational men. ‘Tis strange
that a little distilled corn. or rye can
make such brutes of a lot of men
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 10

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10
Tis very pleasant to see the greeting we
receive all along the route. at every town
village or farm house we can see the “Old
Flag” waving from the windows while the ladies
“God Bless ‘em”) wave their handkerchief’s the
men swing their hats and seem deter
mined that “We’ll all be gay when
Johnny comes marching home” but by
the way we are not “marching home”
The boys always have a cheer for every
one and there is scarce a minute that
there is not a cheer from some portion
of the boat. The banks of the river still
continue hilly and rocky and about
the only product of the soil we have
seen on the Ohio side is the [illegible in original]
which yesterday were very [illegible in original]
all along the shore. The weather still
continues very hot. my hands are
sweaty. and the boat [illegible in original] so that
I can not write with any comfort
so I will close. and wait further
developments
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 11

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
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11
Evening
Having become heartily tired out
with all the various amusements on
the boat I have decided to return to
my room and make up my log
book for the day. We have travelled
over a hundred miles since leaving
Cincinnatti and are now a few
miles below Madison Indiana.
We have passed during the day
Vevay. Rising Sun. and Madison on
the Indiana side of the river and
Kent and Carrollton on the Kentucky
side. and I think several smaller
towns on either side. but none of
them of any size or importance
Madison is the largest town
we have passed and is about the
size of Buchanan. perhaps a
trifle larger.. Vevay and Kent
are situated directly opposite
each other. Carrollton at the
mouth of the Kentucky river
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 12

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12


The river is wider and the
country better today than yesterday
yet too hilly for me. all of these
towns are situated on a little
flat and surrounded by hills. and
the roads by which they are reached
from the country back of them
come winding over hills. which I.
accustomed as I am to mountains
should call them mountains rather
than hills.. They beat anything in
Michigan. But the boat has
stopped from some cause and
I guess I will stop and see
what is the [illegible in original]
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 13

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13


Wednesday Morning
June 6th 1865

We are now lying under a
bank for the purpose of enabling the
men to clean up and get their break
fast and the boat hands to clean up
the boat Our journey still continues
rather monotonous all passes off quickly.
The river increases slightly in width
the towns continue to meet us at almost
regular intervals and all are nearly
alike. Night before last we reached
Louisville about midnight but as I
was abed and asleep I did not
know it until yesterday morning.
Three of us then took a walk up
town but did not go very far nor
see much of the city. Louisville
is quite a large city. more so than
I was prepared to find it
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 14

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but then we have travelled so
much among Virginia towns that
like the inhabitants of the “Old
Dominion” we have forgotten there
was anything of [illegible in original] outside of Va..
Gen Custer and staff were at Lt
Louisville. waiting for a boat to
take them to New Orleans. where he
is to meet Gen Sheridan. Just
below Lousiville are the falls of the
Ohio river making it almost im
possible to go over them at some
times. The fall is not large. but
a few feet and in high water they
are almost imperceptible. yet we
had a splendid view of them yester
day morning. A large canal is
built around them which enables
them to run the boats around
them. Jeffersonville and New Albany
Indiana are almost directly opposite
Louisville New Albany is properly
five miles below. but it seems almost
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 15

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15
one and the same with Jefferson
ville. Yesterday we passed Branden
burg and Henderson on the Ky. side and
Leavenworth Danielson and some other
towns that I failed to get the names
on the Indiana side. At Danielson
we stopped for an hour and took on
coal and of course we had to take
a stroll up town. It was a little
one horse affair as a town. the princi
pal feature being a large cotton
factory in full blast and furnishing
employment to hundreds of women
and girls. They closed for the day
soon after we reached there and we
had a good sight at them. but I
made up my mind that the lines
of the poet who said that “beauty
unadorned is adorned the most”
wouldnt hold good in this case.
because I saw none of the factory
girls in their working dress that
compared with a couple of others
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 16

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16
who did’n’t work in the factory
and who did adorn themselves
in clean dresses and “[illegible in original] hats.”
with curls. “Oh! my but wa’n’t
they terrific” The confounded old
steamboat blew that worst of all
things the whistle (and then let
me state that the whistle. on the
then devilish Ohio river steam
wheelers is the worst of all whistled
and I was saved. Some of our
boys who started from Washington
with the command had been left
there a week ago. and I almost
envied them. We ran all night
last night passing Evansville. and
have about an hours run to
the Illinois line; will probably
reach Cairo to night. and then
nearly two days run to St Louis..
It is now the prevailing opinion that
we shall proceed to Leavenworth
before stopping.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 17

Havens Letter: June 4 1865
Havens Letter: June 4 1865

The people are growing scarce
as we descend the river and appear
to be poorer than “Jobs Off Ox.”
It would please you to see the boys
when we stop along the banks.
Night before last we stopped near
a small farm house and soon as
the boat touched the shore the men
rushed off and started for the house
and I almost feared they would
serve it as they would have done in
Va but after scaring the pretty.
girl almost out of her senses they
ceased but one wretch having “cheek”
enough to go in the house when he
helped himself to a dozen or
more of eggs.. As soon as the boys
found it out they set to hooting
him till he went and carried
them back but he never will hear
the last of “Eggs”
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 18

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This morning one of the men
stole some onions. the boys surroun
ded him caught him put him
into a blanket and tossed him in
the air. hooted him and heaped all
the derision possible until he slunk
away completely disgusted. Another
borrowed a fishing line and took from
a boy at the house and refused to return
it the boys ran him aboard the boat
caught him and taking the hose
pipe that the hands were using
to wash the deck gave him a good
shower bath. They are bound that
no man shall steal from a people
in a free state. and are taking
the proper course to stop it. The officers
could do nothing toward stopping
such a thing and wisely allow the
men to do as they choose with
the offenders.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 19

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not
I can ^ avoid again speaking of the
pleasure we are taking on this trip.
One thing that adds to the pleasure
is a small party that were taking
a pleasure trip from Pittsburgh when
the boat was seized They originally
consisted of the Captains wife with
three little girls whose ages range
from 10. to 14 years. and a little boy
aged about 12 years. At Cincinnatti
the Captains wife went back but the
rest are going through to St Louis
The little girls are all good singers
and it is pleasant to listen to them
evenings as they sing a great many
songs.. The managers of the boat
are all jolly good fellows and every
thing passes off pleasantly.
A great many of the men are
becoming very much dissatisfied
at having to go west when by the
conditions of Secretary Stanton’s
order of May 10th they should now
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 20

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be discharged. I am myself disposed
to “grin and bear it” and feel no
inclination to campaign although
I can not dispute that we are by
every precedent and right entitled
to our discharge. But I am willing
to remain until October. as I do not
think I could make any more
at home during the intervening months
than I can here. It is now the impression
that from St Louis we shall go to
Leavenworth and from there to the
frontiers or to Texas. This will give us
an opportunity to see the country. and
the men will all be more contented at
home. If discharge next October at
St Louis I think I shall spend a
few weeks visiting in Minnesota. Ill’
and Wisconsin. I beleive I’ll tell
you a little bit of news concerning
myself which I learned at Washing
ton
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 21

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When the cavalry arrived at
Washington Col Litchfield rejoined
the regiment and immediately set
to work to fill up the vacancies in
the officers. and recommended for
promotion nearly every 1st Sergt in
the regt to the grade of 2nd Lieuts.
among them myself. Among the
number were also my friends
Clark and Jackson. E.D. Cooke of our Co
and a Sergt from St Joe. Several
2nd Lieuts have been appointed
1st Lieuts and some 1st Lieuts. Capts
among the latter was Lieut Loomis.
which pleases me you can bet. Col.
Litchfield resigned and Lt Col
Briggs. (“Our Briggs) has been made
full colonel without hurting any
one’s feelings.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 22

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Colonel. Stagg who has commanded
the brigade since last November
has received the “Star” and we have
another General of our own. He is
an officer of great abilities and experience
and can command a brigade better
than the average of such commanders
but never had the confidence of
the men like the “Little Poodle”
It is thought that Col Litchfield
resigned on account of this pro
motion as he being the senior
Col. of the brigade was entitled
to it.. Although I would very well
like to have it said that the
“Shush rats” had made a Brigadier
I would rather Gen Stagg should
command our brigade than
Col Litchfield
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 23

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23

Friday Morning
June 9th 1865

As we are within three hours
ride of St Louis I have decided
on finishing this letter and if
opportunity occurs mail it
on reaching St Louis. The pre
vailing opinion which I mentioned
a few days ago seems to have settled
down to a certainty and we now
confidently expect to go on to Fort
Leavenworth before resting. If we
are to go at all I hope we shall
do so without a change of boats..
But to resume our journey. We
reached Cairo at 9 P.M. of Wednes
day. where we intended to procure
rations but after looking around and
weighing everything in the scales of
our consideration it was decided
that we would not and according
ly left there at two A.M. yesterday
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 24

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We paused for a short time on
our way down at Paducah Ky. and
following up our practice of seeing
every place where any opportunity
occurred we jumped ashore as
soon as the boat touched. We had
no time. however to explore the town
very extensively but made up our
mind that it contained the most
unaccommodating set of inhabitants
we had met with since leaving
Va.. and were not sorry to leave.
At Cairo we took a more extensive
stroll. but although poets and writers
of lovesick sentimental novels. may
[illegible in original] all they will of the beauties
of moonlights I “could’nt see it. from
where I stood” that night or else
Cairo must be a mighty pretty
unhandsome city.

Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 25

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We did however find a mighty
nice Ice Cream salon and feasted
ourselves upon Ice Cream and
strawberries and lemonade sweetened
with Port Wine. and we really did
pass an hour or two very pleasantly..
The liberality of the “[illegible in original]” was
really refreshing to our spirits that
were thirsting for sympathy. from
our true and loyal sympathizers
of “Egypt” nothing that they had
was too good for us and as for
pay do’n’t speak of it – No green
backs that we had were too much
for them. So we left Cairo feeling
very grateful to the kind hearted
inhabitants for releiving our spirits
and our pockets of a great load.
Yesterday morning on turning
out. I found myself in sight

Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 26

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26
of the small town of Commerce
Mo. and about ten A.M. we passed
the larger more important and
more noted village of Cape
Girardeau Mo. Here we found large
fortifications. and a considerable
number of soldiers. The Catholics
have a large college or Institute
a really magnificent and extensive
building with nice grounds. They
have also a nice little church. The
town itself was a very pretty little
place. situated on a side hill and
commanding a good view of the river
for some distance both above and
below. The houses are nearly all of brick
and much larger than is common
for so small a town. and everything
bore a very refreshing air of civilization
and enterprise. We are now within
sight of Jefferson Barracks twelve
miles below St Louis which place
we expect to reach about ten Oclock
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A few miles below we caught
sight of the [illegible in original] Court House dome
at St Louis..
Since passing the mouth of the
Wabash the country has changed
the banks of the river are or rather
were more level and the country
quite beautiful. The river was wider
and the towns less frequent. We passed
Mound City Ky about 8 P.M. Wednes
day. We of course could not see the
town. The [illegible in original] fleet lay at anchor
in the river and we caught a sight
of one monitor and six or eight
Mississippi Gun boats. These boats are
very different machines from the gun
boats of our Atlantic coast. being
of the “mud turtle” or “shell back”
order.. So much has been said
written and painted of the “Great
Father of Waters” that I do not feel
as though I could say anything
to add any interest
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 28

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Every thing that has been said
concerning it seems true. Its
width its muddy waters. its snags
and lastly but not leastly. the
steamers that plow its muddy
waves. Its tanks have been lined
with those famous “wood piles” which
have been the subject of so many
jokes. and we are frequently passing
the steamers.. Writers and travellers
may curse as they will the steamers
of the Mississippi but to my inex
perienced eyes. they look like float
ing palaces. where one. and more
especially one who has passed days
months and years in the wild
scenes of a soldiers life would fare.
that he had been transported to
the third heavens of terrestial
joy and comfort.
Havens Letter: June 4 1865, Page: 29

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29


They are certainly the most
enormous water craft that I
ever saw and the passenger boats
seem to be got up with no stint of
money to make them what they
should be. Externally they seem to
be the most gorgeously built boats
I ever saw. Their dimensions. were
I to whisper them. you would
accuse me of exaggerating while
as to speed. such stories as our
boat crew tell of them would be
deemed incredible. What would you
thing of the speed of a boat. that
goes fifteen miles per hour up
stream from New Orleans to Cairo..
against a current that must
run from five to 8 or nine miles
per hour. Yet the “Ida Handy”
one of the nicest packets on the
western waters does it regularly
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30
I must again speak of our
own good craft the “Iron City”
which with the exception of the
“Ida Handy” is the fastest boat we
have yet seen. We have passed every
thing we have seen since leaving
Parkersburg. and my one great
hope now is that if compelled to
go to Leavenworth they will grant
us the “Iron City” The crew is
the most gentlemanly one we have
ever seen since it has been our lot
to travel by boat and it will be
with regret that we bid them “adieu”
and our journey from Parkersburg
will not soon be forgotten.
But as we are slowly nearing
St Louis and ere long the hurry
and bustle of packing up prepara
tory to disembarking will take
place.
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31

Present my regrets to
every one that our prospects now
serve to forbid my celebrating the
Fourth of July with them, but
I guess I shall be there in
1866 to help them.
I hope Mother will not be
too sadly disappointed at the
turn affairs have taken. October
is now the golden month of
Promise and when its sombre days
shall come you may hope to
welcome home your wandering
but ever affectionate brother
Ed.

P.S. I think your letters will
not fail to reach me if directed
to St Louis, Mo. However I
shall not fail to keep you posted
on affairs in the “Far West”
Contact us with Questions or Comments