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Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: May 31, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, 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 1, Folder 10
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

Brigade Camp Bristow Sta
Sunday May 31st /63

Brother Nell
It is with pleasure
that I acknowledge the receipt of
one of your ever welcome letters (that of
May 22nd) which came to hand yesterday.
I am sorry to hear such accounts
of your health as you have of late writ
ten, and trust that ere long they will
be more favorable.. It seems almost use
les for me to say anything concerning
my own for I will not admit that
there is a possibility of my enjoying
any but the very best. None other will
suit me.. The health of the men
is very good and I must confess that
I am disappointed in the effects of
Virginia’s climate on the health of
our men. I had expected to find
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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it lvery unhealthy. but on the con
trary I beleive it to be more healthy
than Michigan.
I wrote you on Monday last,
stating that we had just come off
picket duty.. and that we had been
very lazy for sometime.. But the past
week we have had quite busy and to
me interesting times.. Tuesday morning
we received orders to prepare for a thor
ough inspection of arms and “personal
appearance” which commenced at 11
Oclock and it was two Oclock before
the inspection was complete..
Extraordinary attention was paid to
the condition of revolvers and carbines
and many pieces were ordered to be
recleaned and in perfect order
by night.. We began to “prick up
our ears.” stick out our eyes and
matter. “Something up! I said
on “our plate..” And so it proved..
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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Wednesday morning it was or
dered that the horses should not
be grazed.. and ere long came the
order to prepare to “fall into line”
at any moment after 1 A.M. with
aslight a load as possible. two days
rations for ourselves and 24 pounds
of oats for our horses.. The boys
set to work with light hearts and
willing ones.as anything was accept
would
able that ^ break the monoty of the
camp.. At 5 P.M. we received the
order to “fall in” and soon we were
marching out of camp in the direc
tion of Warrenton Junction.
We followed the R.R. to within
2 miles of that place and then took
a road leading westwardly towards
the mountains.. We travelled over
hills through fields and woods until
about two O.clock when we stop
ped. fed our horses. and laid down
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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and slept about an hour when
we moved on again.. Our advance
was made very cautiously and
the country for some distance
on either side thoroughly patroled.
Soon after sunrise we crossed
the “pike” about two miles to the
right of Warrenton Village
and continued on toward the mountains..
After crossing the pike the country
was new to us. and as it presented
much beautiful scenery we enjoyed
ourselves “right smart..” It was very
rolling but mostly cleared and
fences. or rather stonewalls were in
good condition.. Stone is very plenty
and is used for dwellings and
walls.. We passed one large plan
tation. where I noticed several stacks
of wheat and several large fields
of the same grain which was beginning
to head..
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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We found a trail which
indicated that a small force of
cavalry had preceded us. We followed
this trail several miles. and crossed
the mountains a few miles west of
Warrenton Village.. From the top
of the mountains we had a view
of the prettiest little valley I ever
saw. Nearly circular, it was of
about two miles in diameter and in
its center was situated what seemed
to be a beautiful little village. The
valley was surrounded on all sides by
mountains and their green coverd
sides and irregular shapes added
great beauty to the picture..
We descended into the valley pass
ing on our way two or three beautiful
plantations. and reached the village
above spoken of about ten Oclock.
As our advance guard entered
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863


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[illegible mark in original] thing in Virginia. The schol
ars comprised a dozen or fifteen, half
of them young ladies in their “teens”
the others little boys and girls..
The teacher was a slight, well
formed lady of an age verging
towards old maiden hood. red hair
and its accompanying countenance
and eyes.. who evidently held the “yan
Kees” in great detestation as she seemed
very anxious to prove by the many
sarcastic remarks she made while
submitting to the searching of her
house which was made much more
severe than it might otherwise have
been. Nothing “contraband of war” was
found however. and we soon after
turned our backs upon Salem..
Salem as I have before said is
situated in a pleasant little village
valley, and is on the Manassas
Gap Rail Road.
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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It was election day and
I think that if we had been
there later in the day we might
have stood a chance to capture some
one.. We then went to White Plains
a short distance from Salem. where
we stopped and fed our horses and
ate our grub.. While there a
few rebs fired on our pickets
but immediately fled..
About two Oclock we moved
forward in the direction of
Thoroughfare Gap.. Near White
Plains we fell in with part of
the 1st Vermont cavalry which
took the lead.. As they entered
the Gap and while our regiments
was half a mile in the rear we
heard a volley fired from the hill
on the right of the Gap and pretty
soon the reports began to be quite rapid
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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We then moved up quite rapidly
and every other man was ordered to
dismount and move ahead on foot..
This began to look quite interesting
and as soon as possible I gave
my horse into charge of one of the
men. borrowed a carbine and set
forward at “double quick..” On over
taking the others ten or twelve of
us under charge of a Lieut were
ordered to deploy as skirmishers
on the mountain on the left of the
Gap.. We immediately “Shoved out”
had to cross the “run” three or four
rods wide. and two or three feet
deep. I came near falling in head
and ears. would if I had n’t
been a good wrestler.. but managed
to get through with my boots full
of water. and charged up the moun
tain side in a gallant style..
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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climbed to the top of it down again
and up over another.. and down to
the Gap. without seeing a reb or
“any other man” to shoot at..
They kept firing away across
the Gap. for about half an hour
where all grew quiet again. The rebs
had retreated and I had’nt seen
them.. None of our men were injured.
Two of Co “B” were taken prisoners..
One of them Wm Whitaker’
“whom you will remember.. was placed
in the custody of two men who he
managed to escaped from them.. and
reached camped the same night..
They captured one of the rebs
a Mexican belonging to the 1st Ga.
Cavalry.. and who claims to have been
an artillerist in Fort Sumpter at
the time our gunboats attacked it.
He was apparently well pleased
to get out of their [illegible in original] as he
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 11

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

said they had impressed him
into the service. He said that if
the gunboats had fired two shots
more the fort and city would have
surrendered as they were badly fright
ened. He said that the shot from
the boats went through and through
the massive walls of the fort spreading
fear and consternation among the sol
diers in it.. He said he would never
be exchanged to go back into the
rebel service again. According to his
report they had but forty men in
the gap belonging to Capt Farleighs
command all of whom ran at the first
excepting him.. and he threw down
his arms to await the aproach of
our men.. He was dressed in pants
of the Same material as our own
and doubtless manafactured for
i
our sold^ers to which they had added
a red stripe on the seam of the leg..
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 12

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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His coat was of the “butternut”
cloth trimmed with red about the
collar and wristbands. with brass
buttons of the Kind worn by our
military cadets at West Point..
We reached camp about ten
Oclock that night. Friday we
were detailed on picket duty. 26 from
our company. 1 Segt and 1 Corporal
I was the unlucky Segt but con
cluded I could stand it..
While posting the releif about
eight O’clock in the evening I
heard 3 shots from one post. and
immediately went to the post.
I found that the picket had
seen two horsemen some 20 rods
from who gave no answer on being
hailed and consequently he dis
charged his revolver at them.. While
talking with him I heard a
shot at another post and set
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 13

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

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out for there. When about half
way there I heard two shots from
another one.. I visited the first
one. found that he had also fired
at two horsemen who passed some
20 rods from him at a [hard?] gallop
refusing to stop when ordered to “Halt”
I then visited the third post and
found that he had also seen two
men, but had done more than the
other two.. They had ridden up quite
slowly and deliberately but not halting
when ordered to. but instead one drew
his revolver and snapped a cap at him.
whereupon Allen fired upon them
and one of them tumbled out of
his saddle crying “O God..”
Allens horse not being used to firing
became unmanageable and carried
him
^ some distance from his post. and be
fore he could reach it again they
had left, both on one horse.
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 14

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We visited the spot yesterday mor
ning found where he fell and also
where the horse tore up the sod
while turning. Several more of
the pickets fired during the night
Keeping the camp on the alert with
horses saddled and bridled and
arms on. so that we had the consola
tion of Knowing that if we couldn’t
sleep on picket they could not in
camp. About midnight, I took
eight men and patroled the R. R
about two miles in the direction of
Warrenton Junction but discovered
nothing.. Yesterday morning at
half past nine the train which brought
your welcome letter arrived at our camp
and unloaded 3 days rations for us
and some forage for horses passing
down the road at ten.. When
they had proceeded about two
miles and a half. (near the spot where
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 15

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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my patrol stopped they were
suddenly stopped by receiving a shell
from a 12 lb howitzer fired from a
concealed place and manned by
Mosebys men. Part of the cars were
immediately thrown from the track..
The infantry that was intended
for a guard to the train fled to the
woods without firing a shot. The
rebels then fired two more shells setting
fire to the train and “Skedaddled”
The Capt in Command of the pickets
called from for ten men and soon
had them going down the road
like [fun?], they reached the woods,
charged in, but Rebs had gone.
I was at the time posting my
last picket and turning back on
hearing the shots I soon perceived
the 5th New York going out
on a gallop. I put spurs to my
horse and reached the reserve just
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 16

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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as they passed. My duties re
quired that I should remain
behind much as I wished to be
with “the crowd.” In 15 minutes
from the time the first shot was
fired the different regts were out
and charging through the woods
after Mosby.. It was sometime
before they came up with him
but after chasing him some
distance they managed to capture
his gun and several prisoners
but the most escaped. Our los
was four Killed and fourteen
wounded as near as I can
ascertain. only one of them being
from our regt who received a spent
ball in the knee.. We have seven
prisoners now in camp but three
of whom however were with Mosby
the other four having been cap
tured yesterday morning before
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 17

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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the fight by a patrol of 20 of our
men. They belong to the 1st N.C.
cavalry were armed with Enfield rifles
and revolvers and were at the time
on foot having been sent by Stuart
across the Rappahannock to steal
horses. They were surprised and
surrendered without firing a shot..
One of the others commanded
the gun yesterday.. He is a Mississ
ippian. Keen black eyes and saucy
as a [illegible in original] He claims to have been
a soldier ever since the war commen
ced having arrived at Manassas
Junction on the 7th of June /61,
but says he never fired a cannon
until yesterday morning. and
felt rather sheepish at not making
better work. They fired shell. grape
and canister. and Killed several
horses. One horse was hit in the
Havens Letter: May 31 1863 , Page: 18

Havens Letter: May 31 1863
Havens Letter: May 31 1863

breast by a shell which passed
lengthwise through his body before
bursting.. The piece is a short, brass
6 inch howitzer calculated for light
artillery service being easily transported
over roads such as this country affords
and the gunner says was taked
from our forces at Ball’s Bluff
and brought from Richmond
only a few days ago. It was
Mosbys first attempt at using artillery
and proved rather disastrous..
His loss I have not ascertained.
The engine is considerably damaged
but the train is totally destroyed.
It consisted of Eleven cars loaded
with forage and rations for the
forces below here.. At dusk
last night a brigade from
Dumfries reported [here?] last
night and this morning we
were reinforced by 200 of them
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Where the others are I cannot
say.. I presume we shall
remain here for some time un
less our place is supplied by
new troops We are all anxious
to get “our hand in” and I regret
that I could not have participated
in the fight yesterday.. I beleive
that the deeds of the 7th will never
detract from the fame won heretofor
by our gallant brothers from Michigan.
and that the good name they have
state
won for our noble name will be
unstained.. That we have good
“fighting blood” in our regt among
am
both officers and men I ^ well satisfied..
We have some as gallant and
noble officers as ever left the state
and they have men upon whom
they can depend to follow where they
may lead.. Col Mann is in
command of the brigade, and those
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Havens Letter: May 31 1863
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who saw him yesterday say that
fear has no place in his mind.
But I must stop,
I would like to be at home
to attend Sunday Schol. with
you this afternoon and I beleive
that. notwithstanding I have been
up the last four nights past. from
nearly all night I beleive I could
go to Buchanan to meeting with
out feeling very bad..
Take good care of every thing
and enjoy yourself while we boys
are gone for, like Bin and Bill
Wynn I feel inclined to have
you “Git Back” when we do
come. Give my best wishes
to all friends and my love
to you and all of our folks
Edwin R Havens
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