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Havens Letter: June 13 1865

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: June 13, 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 13 1865, Page: 1

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

Tuesday June 13th 1865

You may think, Nell! that by this time
we are nearly to our journey’s end but such is not the case
We are now a few miles above Jefferson City having passed
that place soon after daylight this morning.. We lay at
South Point until yesterday at about 11 A.M. waiting
to take on board a detachment of the 2nd Mo. Cavalry
This was the 250 horses I spoke of a day or two ago. but
then I was under the impression that those horses were
destined for us. but when they came we found that
they had riders who were going with them.. They arrived
during the afternoon of Sunday and preparations were
immediately made to take them on board. After mak
ing these arrangements and under the impression that
we would leave at an early hour yesterday morning
our Major and a Capt concluded to ride up to
Washington and extended an invitation to me to
accompany them. which was readily accepted..
We found Washington to be a very flourishing
village covering more ground than Buchanan.
Almost every building whether dwelling or place
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 2

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

of business is of brick. and many of them indicating
a comfortable degree of wealth in the proprietor..
The town contains besides numerous stores a [Recruiting?]
office four hotels. two of them quite large ones. Three
or four churches. school house court House or town hall
market house etc. I also noticed one large
flouring mill.. Of course being Sunday I could
not see much of the business or other attractions
of the place. The people seem to be nearly all
Germans. and pretty Dutch Girls and Lager
Beer seemed to be the chief staple of the town.
For Dutch girls they were pretty enough. and
as for Lager Beer. it could not be beaten. and so
cheap only 5 cts a glass. I made a note of it in
my memorandum book. On returning to the boat we
found the boys yelling. hooting and swearing at
the Major who commanded the Missouri boys.
He had gone on board with his “sauerkraut”)
airs and commenced ordering the boys around
as though he were commander in chief of the whole
universe and had called some names that and
made some threats that did’n’t suit the “[illegible in original]
mers” of Mich. and they had made up their
mind not to stand it. He soon found it too hot
for him on board and was asked when we came back
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 3

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

He “went for” Major Darling. who was at first disposed
to side with him. at least as far as to do all that
was right, but after receiving a few insults himself
he found his “irish” rising and then “Saurkraut”
had to back out. No settlement was made until
yesterday morning when we took on board 85 men
and 90 horses and came on. Our progress is rather
slow. yet by morning all night we are now nearly
a hundred miles from South Point will probably
pass Lexington tomorrow and reach Leavenworth
next Sunday. I begin to like Missouri better. I found
the land around Washington to be very fertile and
crops looking splendidly. The soil seems to be a
black sandy loam. more like that as around where
Isom than any that I ever saw. Wheat was
very heavy. standing nearly as high as my head. wth
long plump heads. I should judge that the season
was about as far advanced as it usually is in
Michigan at time of year. Along the Ohio river
and Mississippi below St Louis I saw wheat in
the shock. but here it has not commenced to
turn. The weather is warm and cloudy. It
rained nearly all day yesterday. and appear
ances indicate that they have had a good deal of
rain this summer
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 4

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

Wednesday Eve June 14th /65
Time flies along on his even way and slower than “Old Time”
himself we jog along on ours. Nothing of importance occurs along the
route. occasionally we pass a town by the river side again. we meet some
steamer bound down the river. some of them with a pretty good load of
passengers and some not very heavily loaded. These are the only deviations
from the quiet routine of big bends. big logs. and muddy water.
Yesterday we passed Booneville. the scene of one of Gen Lyons battles in
the early part of the war. Like all the towns along the river it had claims
to [illegible in original] and seemed to be quite a thriving town. On the opposite bank
of the river was some of the most beautiful land I ever saw in fact I
am beginning to think Missouri a beautiful state. The day was
rainy and I kept quite close to the cabin all day. We met but
one steamer. the Swing City. Yesterday. About ten oclock last night
we tied up near a wood pile and remained ‘till nearly daylight
this morning I lay abed until nearly or quite 7 A.M. and found
ourselves just passing Glasgow a flourishing village on the north
bank of the river as I stepped on deck. A large Steamer. the
Glasgow was leaving the bank as we came up.. Our progress
today has been very slow and we are now tied to the bank nearly
sixty miles below Lexington and have the exceedingly pleasing prospect
of reaching Leavenworth about Saturday.. We have been occupied in
stopping at every woodpile but one along the bank. We have passed
during the day Miami and another town whose name has escaped
my memory. At Miami Dr. Noyer’s Circus was in operation. with
the big tents. and a stern wheel steamboat. It has rained some
today and having got hold of a new novel I have been trying
to forget my trials and tribulations while perusing those of
some mystic “Julia [illegible in original] Johnsing. and [illegible in original] “Gelelr” in the great
metropolis of Gotham. and together with a nap or two and my
“meerschaum” I have managed to pass a very passable day..
Of all rivers give me a wide berth from the Missouri hereafter
We are almost dying from want of good water. a man to drink
this water needs double casehardened stomach and a purifier
in his teeth. A common [illegible in original] pail filled with it and
allowed to settle will leave an inch of mud in the bottom.
The river is of an average greater width than the Ohio more crooked more
rapid and more difficult to navigate. Heavy rains in the mountains
are causing a great rise and the river is constantly filled with particles
of drift wood from the size of a walking cane to logs and whole trees of no
mean size and as many of them are directly in the channel. and [illegible in original]
the paddle wheels. it reminds one quite strongly of the famous corduroy roads
of “Old Virginny” and riding over them in an army wagon drawn by six mules
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 5

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

The people of Missouri are not behind their neighbors of
the banks of the Ohio in the common civilities of life to a soldier.
They come to the doors and windows and frequently to the river
side, wave handkerchiefs and hats and cheer the boys who cheer
back. Yesterday morning one of the boys belonging to the
Missouri boys on board had a little talk with his parents as
he passed them on the bank.. “Phansey my [illegible in original]” were I
to be placed in similar circumstances. passing within ten
rods of home and not permitted to stop and get a “square
meal” I should have been attempted to drown myself. so far
at least as to jump overboard and swim for “dear life” would’n’t
you? Our crowd is gradually growing thinner each day..
the men are much displeased at being brought away out
here. apparently so plainly in disobedience to Secretary Stanton’s
order of May 10th to discharge all cavalry whose term of
service expires prior to October 1st Now in accordance with that
order the greater part of our brigade is entitled to a discharge.
regt
Two whole ^ the 5th & 6th and our company of the 7th
as Gen. Crapo. and our Adjt Genl repeatedly stated that our time
would be counted from date of enlistment instead of muster.
To tell the honest truth on leaving City Point. I confidently expected
that before the 20th of June I would be a civilian again
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 6

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

A great many men therefore feeling seriously grieved are relieving
the government of the trouble of discharging them and desert. I consider
them fools. and do not desire my freedom in that way. Nearly every
man has six months pay from the government besides from 75 to
150. dollars bounty and in some cases even greater sums. All this they
must lose and even should they “escape arrest as deserters they can
never lift their heads in a crowd of honest men again. A man
can make himself think and do anything he chooses. and choose
to grumble at the prospect of being hanged. or he can make up his
mind to think that “alls well that ends well” and can be as happy
with a cup of Missouri water and a Hard Tack as with all the
luxuries of the tropics. I beleive that if soldiers could be made with
out minds they would be much better soldiers and much happier
ones. A soldier either wants a mind trained to be above all such
vexations as usually beset him or else with no mind at all..
A man with half a mind is generally worse than one with no
mind at all.. Nothing, in my mind can furnish a man with
a just cause for deserting. and therefore nothing that I can
now conceive of could ever induce me to do so. The time of my future
service is too short to make me desirous of adding the name of deserter
to that of “bummer”
Friday June 16th 1865
As usual we are progressing very slowly. and now find ourselves
at Liberty Landing 20 miles from Kansas City. and 55 miles from Leaven
worth. Difficulties have prevented us from doing as well as usual today.
the wind has blown a miniature hurricane and twice arrested us in
our advance. once blowing us into the bank in a very dangerous place
and once afterwards compelling us to put ashore as the wind and
current together were too strong for this old tub.. which is one of the poorest
if not the very poorest boat on the Western waters.. Here we have been
a week coming a little more than 400 miles.. and will not probably reach
Leavenworth until Sunday. Yesterday our progress was but little
better than yesterday today. We arrived at Lexington about 3. P.M.
and halted to draw rations.. Leaving the ration business to the care of
the Lieut I “lit out” with a comrade to see the town.. It is built at the
top of a considerable bluff and proved to be a long. narrow crested affair
dirty streets. and not evincing much thrift and enterprise. The dwel
ings in the back part of the town are all large brick structures. plainly
telling of the wealth of the proprietors at one time. even if they may
have degenerated somewhat at the present time. There was two hotels
several stores. saloons. bakeries. hemp factories and other enterprising
establishments. nearly all in operation but yet it lacked the
bustle and life which makes a town always endurable. Like Wash
ington “Lager” was 5 cts per glass and other things priced were
equally reasonable. The fortifications which Mulligan defended
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 7

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865

are still there. formidable for the period at which they were
built but sinking into significance by the side of those which defended
Petersburg and Richmond. Grants and Lee’s army frequently threw up much
more formidable ones in a single night and often abandoned the
next morning. In looking at these and similar works and battle
fields of the early stage of the rebellion and comparing them with the later
ones we are better convinced of the growth of the struggle and the growing
genius and boundless fertility of research of the master spirits of either
army than by any other means afforded us.. I am growing more
and more eager each day to reach the command. It is becoming
almost impossible to keep the men under restraint.. a [illegible in original] deserting
each succeeding day and night and those who remain are becoming
more unruly in their conduct. Tonight they have broken into a
warehouse in which was stored a considerable amount of whiskey.
and stole a great quantity and I anticipate they will have a
huge drunk before long. Tis strange that a sett of sensible, rational
beings. such as men should be can delight in lowering themselves
to the standard of brutes. yes even below the hogs It seems as though
such things might be prevented by a proper exercise of authority
by the officers in command yet until the wrong is accomplished
no effort is made to prevent. I can not respect such officers very
highly no matter how condescending they may be to me.


Sunday Morning June 18th 1865
Well we are here at last. Yes actually [illegible in original]
Fort Leavenworth. that far out of the way place. We reached
here last night or rather yesterday afternoon found the com
mand [illegible in original] and took our places amid a good old fashioned
rain storm. I have’n’t much to say about the latter part of
our journey. We passed Kansas City and had got almost
to Atchison before I got out of bed and reached Leaven
worth City about 2 P.M. We are camped about two miles
above the Fort and 500 [mark illegible in original] above the city. It is now the
expectation that we will move from here tomorrow morning
In fact that we have orders to move at 8 A.M. I do not
much expect that I shall go with them as I have no
horse. and there is but little show of my obtaining one
at this time. It is the expectation that we. or rather. the
command is to guard a train across the plains as far as
Denver City. or some point beyond one regiment has gone
already. Pay roll for four months have been made out
and one regt has received pay and it was expected that
we would receive ours tomorrow or next day. but now
I do not think we will.
Havens Letter: June 13 1865, Page: 8

Havens Letter: June 13 1865
Havens Letter: June 13 1865


I received quite an amount of mail on
reaching here and with the rest two letters from
you and shall confidently hope to receive two or three more
soon. I received one from Cousin Helen and one
from Cousin Willie and some three or four from
others you don’t know. I am now laying back on
my oars doing nothing but wait for orders.
My commission is here but I have not
received it yet. Application has been made to the
department for the discharge of all those having
received commissions to enable them to accept [illegible in original]
and muster on them. The regiment is now larger than
I ever knew it to be before. The companies number from
92 to 101 men each. although the men are not
all present for duty I hope I shall be able to
go with the command. if not I shall feel like
deserting. but I guess I wont do that.
But I have written all that I feel
like at the present and will close. Write
soon and often. I may. if I go with the
command be unable to write very often still
I shall let no opportunity slip I sure promise
you. Direct to Fort Leavenworth Kansas and tell
others to do the same.
Yours Ever
Edwin R Havens
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