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Havens Letter: April 27 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: April 27, 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 27 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

Camp near Bristow Station
April 27th 1863

Dear Nell..
You will see by the heading
of my letter that we had been again on the move.
But such is life and such we make it:
taking everything as it presents itself and beleiv
ing that we are each time getting into positions
where we [can?] aid the cause of Uncle. Abraham
more effectually.. Your letter was received on
Saturday last, and in answering today I
intend only commencing as I can not yet send
it to the P.O. as I have no envelopes and nei
ther our Sutler or postmaster have yet come
and I do not expect that I can beg or
borrow one among the boys.
We received two months pay on Saturday
and after paying Sutlers bills and a few debts
and collecting a few debts.. I had 28 dollars
left.. Some of this I think I shall send
home in a few days but not yet and I may
not send it at all.. The pay for March and April
will soon be due. but I shall not be sur
prised if we do not receive any more until
next fall..
Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

We were reviewed on Sunday after
noon by Genl Stannard in which review
the 13th Vt.. infantry which was camped
near us also participated. Genl Stannard
is a man of 45 or 50 years of age. and came
out on review in a suit of clothing which
looked as though they might have been worn
ever since the war commenced and a hat
as bad or worse than the one I used to wear
at home.. Immediately after coming in from
review we received orders to pack up everything
and be ready to move within an hour..
This time the boys all went to work and
I think they were all ready to move within
the hour, and with much less confusion
and excitement than usual in breaking
camp.. We left camp about 11 Oclock that
night and marched to Union Mills where
we stopped to rest and feed the horses and
ourselves.. We reached there about half past
four yesterday morning it being a distance
of some twenty miles.. We crossed the
Bull Run at Union Mills.. making the
first stream of any size that we had ever
forded. We had quite a time among the
boys in crossing as the stream as it was
very high. Some few of them got ducked
completely and others came through with
Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

out wetting a thread.. As for me I got
off with a bootfull of water.. Our route led
us through a fine portion of the state and
I was agreeably surprised to find a country that
was improved and glad to get out of the eternal wilder
ness of pine scrubs and get into the clear air once more.
To be sure, it was painful while interesting to look
at.. We passed many once fine plantations of which
the houses of some were still standing although
nearly demolished. surrounded by fine orchards.
but only two that we passed were occupied or had
twenty rods of fence standing on them.. Soon after
leaving Union Mills we came on to the field of the
two great battles of Bull Run. Large and strong
fortifications are scattered over the great plain of
Manassas and it is but little wonder that our
large army was defeated and driven back.
But little of the ground over which we
passed was the scene of very severe fighting. the main
field being farther toward Centreville.. We passed
through Manassas Junction or rather its ruins.
as scarcely a stone of it remains.. Here we came to
the Orange and Alexandria R.R. on which we
connects here
are now encamped.. It is connected with the
Manassas Gap Road. and the Baltimore and
Ohio Road I believe. It was at that place that
so many cars were burned a year ago the
trucks of which still remain standing almost

Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

in the same position in which they were
burned. but very few of them having been
removed from the track.. Here were large
and strong fortifications on the western. side
I think it must have been. but on no other
not so much as a rifle pit even.. Before reach
ing that place we passed the barracks which
they occupied while holding that place.
They were built of logs and were comfortable
and spacing enough to hold an immense
number of men.. We are now camped near
Bristow Station some five miles from
Manassas Junction on the O. and A. railroad.
and some 20 miles from Warrenton to which
place the road is now open.. What the object
in sending us here is is more than I can say.
It was rumored while preparing to releive move
here it was rumored that we were to join Genl
Stoneman and form a part of a body of cavalry
which under his command was to make
a dash to the rear of the rebels.. But I now
think that we shall remain here a few
days.. as guard for the R.R. and also patrol
the country about here thoroughly and then
move nearer the front. They will keep us
in the rear of the lines of the Grand Army
to see that the rear is clear of all
bushwhackers and guerrillas
Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

Last night at roll call we received orders
to get up at two Oclock this morning and be ready
to start at 3 Oclock for Brentsville where it has
been remored that a small rebel force was or had
been lately stationed.. We did not get up however until
after three Oclock and it was day light before we got
started from camp. We passed the small creek near
the station and there found a large broad and good
road leading directly to Brentville at distance of five
miles.. But as you may infer from what I have
written above, then the battalion all went, let me stop
and say that only Co. “A” went numbering 44 men and
officers all told. We reached Brentville soon after
five Oclock and went through its one. little street
on a sharp run. but nary “reb” did we see, and
little good would it have done if we had. for we had
neither sabre or revolver where we could use them
in a less time than half an hour.. We remained
there about an hour and then dividing our forces
sent 20 men under the command of Lieut Briggs
away to the right while the rest of us under Capt.
Walker kept straight through towards. Falmouth
and Fredericksburgh.. Col Mann with 6 or 8
of his “guard of honor” went ahead of us a short
distance.. Before reaching that village we
saw a house away to the left of the road which
Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

the Col ordered searched and Capt. Walker
accordingly sent Sergt O’Brin and six men to search
it.. After we had been in Brentville nearly half
an hour they came riding in and Billy bringing
in a double barreled shotgun on his shoulder
and a big power horn under his arm.. He said that
that a great many old stocks and gun barrels lay scat
tered about the house and buildings. but no men..
Brentville is like all other Virginia villages is built
on a single street which is about 60 rods in length.
It contains a courthouse and jail. what was once
a tavern. a store. a stone church and a dozen
dwelling houses.. The village was not searched quite
so thoroughly as I would have wished to have it..
yet I think that no “butternuts” were there..
From there the Col and Capt Walkers division
kept straight on south to Cole’s Store some five miles
on the road to Fredericksburgh.. From there
we went east some three or four miles then
north and back by way of Brentsville to camp..
The morning was mild and pleasant the
country the nicest I have seen since we passed
through Ohio, and I enjoyed myself finely..
The soil is of a peculiar reddish clay and sand
with a firm slate stone bottom some 12 or 15
inches below the surface and is well adapted
to grass. but I should not think it would
raise very good corn or oats..

Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

Fruit trees in great abundance are to be seen
everywhere and the peach trees are now in full
bloom. and the appletrees are beginning to show their
green leaves. the fences are in good repair and quite
extensive preprations are being made to raise a crop this
season.. The citizens are plowing and many of them
have just sown their oats. Nearly all the plowing is
done with one horse plows and I have not seen a
cast iron plow in Virginia until today.. which was
an iron beam rudely constructed one..
About ten Oclock it commenced a drizzling
rain which continued until we reached camp again..
Our scout amounted to seeing the country. a pleasant
ride. 2 shot guns. 2 axes. 2 hatchets about 50 pounds
of flour an old tent and a nice matrass which
had undoubtedly belonged to some officer.. All of
these things except the shot gun were taken at. Lanes
Store some 7 miles from Brentville.. At this place
we found four men, one about 17, or 18 years old
dressed in a complete suit of “butternuts” which
he or some “other man” had worn while in the
service of the C.S.A. although he denied ever
being in the army himself. The shot gun was
taken by order of the Col and was a splendid piece.
The rest were taken from the old store which
was broken open by some of the boys. The Col is
pretty strongly opposed to taking anything from
citizens. but after inquiring about these things
he turned away remarking that it wasnt his company.
Havens Letter: April 27 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: April 27 1863
Havens Letter: April 27 1863

So far as I can learn there is considerable
activity among our troops in this deparment..
Genl. Stahel’s division is on the move from Fairfax
C.H. but having been from there so long I do not
know where the different regts are. Genl. Stoneman’s
division is quite active.. Warrenton which I have
understood was occupied by the rebels.. is now
occupied by the 2nd N.Y. cav. a squadron of which
was at Brentville on our return. The lines I
hear are being pushed forward simultaneously
and the new regts are made to follow and
keep out of much danger and also see that no
rebels come in on the rear.. We have not seen a
“reb” yet although they have been reported very
close to us several times.... I was very thankful for
those stamps and hope I shall be able to furnish
my own hereafter.. I received those papers you
sent me this afternoon also a letter from [illegible in original]
and Melinda which I assure you was very welcome..
I am well as usual and hope this
will find you enjoying good health. Write
soon and I will try and pester you with
8 or 10 pages two or three times a week.. and I
wish you would write whenever you feel like
it without regard to answers.. Theres nothing
like home and letters to soldiers
Yours as ever
Edwin R. Havens
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