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Havens Letter: July 12 1865

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: July 12, 1865
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 10
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 10
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 1

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

Bivouac 7th Mich Cavalry
Cottonwood Springs. Neb. Territory
Wednesday Eve July 12th 1865
Dean Nell.
It has now been four or five days
since I wrote you last. and quite a distance has been
passed over by us since then. and we are now nearly one
hundred miles above Fort Kearney which place we reached
on Saturday morning last. remained until Sunday
morning. during which time I am positive that I
mailed a letter to you although not equally positive that
it was written from there. You will perceive that my
memory is somewhat defective. in such matters. but I till
you it is just as good as ever at breakfast. dinner or
suppper times. and I can remember when I get a
letter if not when I write one. the reason for which
is found in the fact that I write a great many
more than I receive.
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 2

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

But howsoever, notwithstanding nevertheless and
all the other big words. that I cant think of now. we
are getting along right smart and shall. perhaps. reach
our journey’s end sometime next spring. Gen. Stagg
has put our days marching down in scientific
principles and is running the machine with great
satisfaction to ----- himself. We are [blowed?] out
of bed at 4 oclock every morning. our things are
packed up. our horses saddled. by half. past 5. and we
are [blowed?] into line. and [blowed?] at ahead at six o’clock..
We march till eleven then halt go into camp. get our
dinners. take a nap. and are [blowed?] off again at
three oclock to march until five when we go into camp
for the night Our days march averages 25 miles. and
in this “wooden country” is a pretty trying one
to all concerned. We have followed the bank of the
Platte from Fort Kearney. and as all emigration
goes this road we find that those who have gone
before have left but little besides the country
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 3

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

for us. The grass is very short and scarce. the
wood is [“non est”?] entirely and we consider our
selves very fortunate if we can find a few pieces of
“prarie maple” alias “buffalo chips” alias [cow.?] l ________
ed
to cook our [illegible in original] coffee and cakes over.. We are allow^
to use no water except that taken from the Platte.
for any purpose whatever. as all water found in pools
or springs contains a large amount of Alkali. and
is very unhealthy. The water of the Platte is almost
as muddy as that of the Missouri or Mississippi.
warm and insipid in taste and I sometimes
almost wish “I was a boy again” and could draw
a bucket of water from your well and drink
my fill.. This afternoon I became unruly enough
to disobey orders and leave the ranks to get a drink
of water from a well at a ranch we were passing
and I drank a pint. the best thing I have tasted
since I left the country of ice cream. strawberries and
ice cold lemonade.. I can taste it yet for it [runs?]
to the bottom of my boots.
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 4

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

The valley of the Platte is a very nice country.
if any one likes it but give me “bleeding Kansas”
It is a low flat varying form three to five miles in
width on the south bank and a little wider on the
north. perfectly level. and almost entirely destitute of
timber and water.. The [illegible in original] Platte is no mean stream in
width ranging from 1/8 of a mile to a full mile in width
but very shallow. and fordable at almost any point above
Ft Kearney.. the bottom is of quicksand but is said to
be perfectly safe to the crossing of wagons so long as
they are kept moving. Small fish are found in it
in great abundance. Considerable game of consisting of
antelope. prarie chickens. rabbits. and prarie dogs. abound
in the valley and low hills to the south of us. Rattlesnakes
are quite plenty also. and are killed very frequently while
the column is in motion. They have been killed with from
seven to 18 rattlers on. A horse was bitten by one today
but I do not know whether he is going to die or not..
The country is not settled at all except at the stage
stations which are usually ten miles apart. where is generally
found a small store. the principal articles sold being crackers.
cheese canned fruits and liquors.. Fort Kearney. consists of
the usual surroundings of a military post. has a few pieces
of artillery. but like Leavenworth. nothing that I could call
a fort. The buildings were principally of timber but some
were adobe which is quite generally used in these new stations
I always thought before. I saw. one that an adobe building
was made of clay. burnt or dried in the sun. but here
the term is applied to buildings of sod cut from the prarie
The sods are cut into chunks of some two feet in length
by a foot in width and nearly the same in thickness; these
are laid up like brick. the door frames and window frames
inserted. plates laid on. rafters put up. weather boarded and
shingled with sod. It must make warm houses but
not very durable as the storms must wash away the
walls. and a great many [adobe?] ruins are to be seen by
the wayside.
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 5

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

Some build their houses of hewn logs very nicely
laid up. and covered with a roofing. composed. I
should judge of sand, gravel and tar mixed together
and these look really comfortable.. Two miles above
Fort Kearney is quite a bustling. little town called
Kearney City having some claims to modern improve
ments. the greatest of which perhaps is high prices. for
every article offered for sale.. At Plum Creek was another
little town. the only one between Kearney and Cottonwood.
Cottonwood is a stage station and government post with
a small garrison. It contains one or two stores. a black
smith shop. brewery. and four or five dwelling houses. all
of which are of logs. We marched directly through the
place and I did not stop or have not been up since
so that I can not speak very definitely of its contents..
I am disposed to think that there will soon be good
openings for business in this valley. as the great Pacific
railroad must pass through it and will give good
Havens Letter: July 12 1865, Page: 6

Havens Letter: July 12 1865
Havens Letter: July 12 1865

sites for business. and ere many years I shall expect to
see a tide of emigration to the west. that will not stop
go to Idaho. Colorado. or California. but at present I see
but little inducements for one to emigrate to this country.
We both pass and meet large trains of freighters and emigrants.
every day. We met one last night composed of returning
Californians. among whom were several women and children
They told a sad tale of suffering in California during the past
two years which had induced them to return to the states.
The Indians are reported to be troublesome between
Julesburg and Denver and Julesburg and Fort Laramie.
We shall in all probability go to Fort Laramie. before stopping
and some think from there to Powder River.. For my
part I am perfectly unconcerned where I go while I remain
in the service which wont be more than a year longer
any way.. All my wishes have already been sufficiently
gratified and I am staying now only for the 145 dollars
per month. Do not say that Ed is getting down hearted. I only
write as I feel. I think the roving disposition I used to have
is entirely gratified and I can come home next winter. take advan
tage of a good offer if I can get one and be contented any where
if only at the plow handlers.. But time will tell. I wrote to
Irenus McGowan a few days ago. and hope to receive an answer
sometime. Remember me to all who think enough of
me to ask after [letter illegible in original]me and write as often as circumstances
will permit.
As ever
Your Brother.
Edwin R Havens
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