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Havens Letter: February 28 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: February 28, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 7
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 7
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: February 28 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: February 28 1863
Havens Letter: February 28 1863

Soldiers Home, Washington D.C.
February 28th/63

Dear Father, Mother & Nell,
Here I am in the capital of
our country, and within sight of the Capitol which is
about ¼ of a mile from here. We arrived here yesterday
morning after a journey of nearly four days. We left
Lee Barracks on Monday about noon and the
depot about 3 Oclock. The next morning at day
light we were in Toledo, Ohio. We were delayed there
till nearly noon, and then took the Cleveland and Toledo
R.R. for Cleveland, where we arrived about seven O’clock that
evening. The day was clear and warm and the country
being about the nicest I ever saw we enjoyed ourselves first rate.
When we left Grand Rapids the day was warm as spring
and as we marched through the principal streets the dust
rose in clouds and our clothes became very dusty.
Judge of our surprise then in getting off the cars
at Toledo to find eight or ten inches of snow and see cutters and
sleighs running through the streets and be told that there was good
sleighing in the country and so we found it. All along the road
from Toledo to Cleveland there was excellent sleighing, and in fact
we have not been out of sight of snow until last night since
Tuesday morning.
Havens Letter: February 28 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: February 28 1863
Havens Letter: February 28 1863

As we expected to leave every moment we
did not have liberty to run around Toledo any and I
can say nothing about it. The region of country through which
the railroad runs is level and heavy timbered and has the appearance
of being as nice farming country as I ever saw. The farms and buildings
were in good order and every thing showed comfortable circum
stances if not independent wealth of the people.
We had no chance to see any thing of Cleveland except
in the immediate vicinity of the depot which was not
very nice. We remained there about an hour, and then
started for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was detailed to guard
the doors a part of the time, and on taking the post about
four O’clock the next morning, I found that we were running
along the Ohio river with high bluffs on one hand and steep
and deep precipices on the other. the track was built in
many places on a worse “dugway” than any I ever saw
and it looked rather skittish to be whizzing on a down
grade around short curves at the rate of nearly a mile a
minute. We reached Pittsburgh about nine Oclock Wednesday
morning crossing the Alleghany river on the best bridge
I ever saw, and entering the “smoky” Iron City amidst
a dense cloud of coal smoke and fog. Here we were
marched about a mile to large hall where the ladies
had provided a good breakfast for us. After breakfast
we marched to the city hall to wait for the cars, which
were not ready for us till about One O’clock. I did not like the
looks of the city which was smoky and dirty and all
the inhabitants looked as though they were smoked to
Havens Letter: February 28 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: February 28 1863
Havens Letter: February 28 1863

death; We took the Penn. Central for Harrisburgh
about two Oclock. We passed two or three coal mines a little
ways from the city, and one cannon foundry near which lay
several large guns just from the moulds waiting to be sent
to Pittsburgh to finish. About five Oclock we struck the Alle
ghany mountains through which we ran nearly all night.
The scenery in these mountains was enough to pay
us for the time we had lain in camp. I wish you could
have been with us to have seen it. About ten Oclock at
night we stopped at Altoona for coffee, which was
very good with our hard tack and bacon.
The road was a double track up to within 28
miles of Harrisburgh, and passes through several tunnels
in passing through the mountains. They are of different lengths
from ¼ of a mile to a mile in length. We passed through
the longest one a short-time before reaching Altoona
but I was asleep and missed the fun. In some places
the mountains boomed up on our right to the hight of
for 4 hundred and on the left were steep banks
descending to the river from 50 to 100 feet below, the
grade, too was awful. In one place we ran 11 miles with
very little steam, and all brakes down that were safe,
in little more than ten minutes running around
short curves and making those who were not asleep shake
in their seats. We did not go through Harrisburgh, but
left it on our left and ran directly for Baltimore, where
we arrived at midnight.
Havens Letter: February 28 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: February 28 1863
Havens Letter: February 28 1863

Here we had to make a march of two miles from one depot
to the other. We also found a good supper ready for
us. We left there between three and four Oclock in
the morning and reached here about eight O’clock yes
terday morning. We have not yet gone into camp
nor do I know how soon we shall nor where our camp
will fbe. We are in barracks near the R.R. where I think
we shall stay until our camp equippage comes. We do not
have permission to run around the city any, and
having been here so short a time I can say but little
about. In company with a sergt. of Co. [A?] I visited the
Capitol yesterday afternoon, and considered in the most
magnificent building I ever saw. It is decidedly a “big
thing” and everyone can “see it.” I visited the house
of Representatives and the Capitol Senate, and saw
a few of the wise men, not only of the East, but also
of the North and West. I went up to the camp of the 5th
Mich Cavalry with horses. It is about a mile from here
situated on the side of a hill and knee deep in mud
which is very plenty wherever I have been yet. I saw
there one of Spencers [severe?] shorting rifles. It is not a
revolving rifle but loads at the butt of the stock and a
spiral spring then forces the cartridges in the barrel.
Our officers are trying to have them procured for us
and I think we shall soon have them. Write soon and
direct to me at Washington D.C. with the regt. and Co
I shall write again soon. Tell them Good bye
Your Son and Brother
Edwin R Havens

[Written upside down on bottom left: 2/28/63]
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