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Havens Letter: April 12 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: April 12, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, 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 1, Folder 9
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

Wolf Run [Shoals?] Va
April 12th 1863

Dear Nell.
I received your letter that
was with Fathers some days ago but as I
answered his I thought I would wait a few
days when I might. have something new to write.
Our snow storm last Sunday [ended?] in good
time and for two or three days we have had fine
weather. Wednesday night our company was
detailed for picket duty on the picket from
Fairfax C.H. west. and also on the road
towards Centerville extending within a
few mile half mile of Centerville.. We enjoyed
ourselves highly while out there and the boys
were all sorry when they were releived Thurs
day night.. Three men are placed on a
post while on picket and releive themselves
as they see fit.. It is a usual thing to use
privates and non.commish. alike all having
to stand their “tricks”. I was however lucky enough
to get detailed as assistant to Capt Walker and
escaped the duty of standing posts.. I was the
only “non commish” with the exception of our orderly
Sergt who did not stand post.
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

Friday about 11 Oclock we received
orders to pack and saddle and prepare to move
off for a tour of 30 days picket duty. Four
companies and part of them are here .. making a
detachment of 200 men exclusive of commissioned
officers. The whole is under command of Major
[Couston?] assisted in fact almost superseded by
Capt Walker.. Our 1st Sergt is acting Sergt
Major and I am acting 1st Sergt of our company.
We left camp that afternoon about 3.O.clock
and reached here at six.. We are about 15 miles
from Fairfax C.H. near the junction of Wolf Run
with the Occoquan Creek.. We passed in a
southern direction from Fairfax C.H. over fields
through grubs woods following no direct road but
picking our way as best we could.. until we reached
Fairfax Station on the R.R. when we came on to
the “corduroy” leading here. Near the Station a part
of the Penn. Bucktails were encamped and as we
passed their camp a company was just moving off
for picket on the chain of fortifications around
there. which extend nearly a mile in this direc
tion.. The country is hilly almost mountainous all
the distance from Fairfax C.H. here, and
right here it is all hills from 50 to 200 feet
in highth We are encamped in an oak grove
resembling the “barrens” of the Bend
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

It is almost the only one I have seen
since coming to Virginia.. Every thing is low,
scrubby, second growth pine. I say second growth
for any one can see that nearly every foot of ground
we have yet passed over has once been cultivated and
having been worn out, has been thrown aside and
allowed to grow up to timber again. No large trees
are to be seen. In one place that afternoon I
saw one man plowing or trying to plow.. it was
with a lot of wood chopped for the government the
first thing I had seen that looked like enter
prise or civilization.. In one place we saw,
I dare say nearly a million cords of wood mostly
oak and chestnut.. A little ways from us
is encamped a Vt brigade composed of the 12th &
14th Vt infantry and a battery of artillery..
The brigade is commanded by Col. Act. Brig.
Genl Blunt of the 12th Vt who is also comman
der of the picket lines. between here and Center
ville.. Yesterday morning Col. Blunt came down
and requsted Capt. Walker to accompany on a
tour of inspection of the picket lines. Capt Walker
invited me to go with him as an escort there
being another Sergt and 6 or 8 men. I put
the saddle on my pony my arms and my
self and myself in the saddle about
as quick as ever move and we started
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863


The was a most beautiful one and I
anticipated a pleasant ride. Still I would
have felt better if my horse had been fed in
the morning for he had not eaten a mouth
ful since the night before. The lines
extend in a westwardly direction along
the banks of the Occoquan to the mouth of
the Bull Run and there along the Run
to Union Mills six miles from Centerville
where they are joined by the pickets run
ning out from Centreville.. The picket duty
proper is done by infantry from the Vt
brigade and our men are placed where
it is thought they are needed to carry mes
sages to headquarters. They all like the busi
ness first rate.. We are on the extreme
front as the creek, about 40 feet in width,
is all that separates us from the rebels
country.. Wear the stream on the opposite
side stands the walls of an old rebel fort.
The camp of the brigade is quite well
fortified and it would be pretty hard
work for Stuart, Lee or Mosely to
make a very successful raid on us
and I dont know but I would like to
see them try it.
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

But now I will try and tell you
about our ride. Where the country would
permit we rode. We never pretended to go at
a slower gait than a full gallop and many
places at a dead run. Many of the officers
horses came near giving out. But Capt Walker
and I with one or two others managed to
Keep up with him at his fastest pace.
He rode apparently to try our endurance
and willingness to follow.. But the Mich
horses as well as the men are called the toughest
[illegible in original] that Uncl Sam ever had.. When you
tell a soldier of any one else that you are
from Mich. they will shake their heads and
say “Michigan has sent out a good many
[good?] men The name of Michigan is
enough to make the “rebs” tremble and when
they take one of the 1st Mich Cavalry they
treat him as well as one of their own men..
Our route being along the river bottom
was of course very hilly and thickly covered
with underbrush reminding me strongly of
the many times we have tramped up and
down the banks of the St Jo” We got “stuck”
two or three times and were compelled to turn
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

back thus making the first retreat
we have been made along the Bull Run.
Today Capt Walker and Billy
O’Brian have gone over the same route. I intended
to got but was compelled this morning to prepare
a check roll of the company preparatory to a
muster. and as it was not definitely Known
but we might have to do it to day it was thought
best that I should remain in camp..
I used to think that I would like to be
Commissary or Quartermaster Sergt of the company
but I would not now exchange places with one
of them for many things as they miss all these
journeys. Neither of ours are here they being
compelled to remain in camp. I would see
more of the country if I were not acting as 1st
Sergt. but I would also be compelled to do night
duty which I am only too glad to be releived
from..
The Vt brigade has received orders to be
ready to move tomorrow morning. and it is
rumored that we may con ac company
them..they are ordered to take as little baggage
as possible. with 40 rounds of ammunition in
their cartirdge boxes and 60 more in wagons
and 3 days rations in their haversacks.
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

back thus making the first retreat
we have been made along the Bull Run.
Today Capt Walker and Billy
O’Brian have gone over the same route. I intended
to got but was compelled this morning to prepare
a check roll of the company preparatory to a
muster. and as it was not definitely Known
but we might have to do it to day it was thought
best that I should remain in camp..
I used to think that I would like to be
Commissary or Quartermaster Sergt of the company
but I would not now exchange places with one
of them for many things as they miss all these
journeys. Neither of ours are here they being
compelled to remain in camp. I would see
more of the country if I were not acting as 1st
Sergt. but I would also be compelled to do night
duty which I am only too glad to be releived
from..
The Vt brigade has received orders to be
ready to move tomorrow morning. and it is
rumored that we may con ac company
them..they are ordered to take as little baggage
as possible. with 40 rounds of ammunition in
their cartirdge boxes and 60 more in wagons
and 3 days rations in their haversacks.
Havens Letter: April 12 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: April 12 1863
Havens Letter: April 12 1863

back thus making the first retreat
we have been made along the Bull Run.
Today Capt Walker and Billy
O’Brian have gone over the same route. I intended
to got but was compelled this morning to prepare
a check roll of the company preparatory to a
muster. and as it was not definitely Known
but we might have to do it to day it was thought
best that I should remain in camp..
I used to think that I would like to be
Commissary or Quartermaster Sergt of the company
but I would not now exchange places with one
of them for many things as they miss all these
journeys. Neither of ours are here they being
compelled to remain in camp. I would see
more of the country if I were not acting as 1st
Sergt. but I would also be compelled to do night
duty which I am only too glad to be releived
from..
The Vt brigade has received orders to be
ready to move tomorrow morning. and it is
rumored that we may con ac company
them..they are ordered to take as little baggage
as possible. with 40 rounds of ammunition in
their cartirdge boxes and 60 more in wagons
and 3 days rations in their haversacks.
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