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Havens Letter: August 1 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: August 1, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 13
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 13
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

Bivouac Near Warrenton
Junction Va. Aug. 1 1863.

Dear Nell.
Does the above heading
look old fashioned? As I look around
me over the country I feel as though
I had returned home after a long absence.
We arrived here last night having
marched from Amissville through the
hottest sun I have yet experienced in
Virginia. The distance was about twenty-
five miles and was made without feeding
our horses a mouthful. before starting on
on the way.. We have taken up our camp.
near our camp of two months ago and
are told that we shall remain here
several days or at least until our horses
are recruited up some and our scattering
and straggling men are brought in..
and we are newly supplied with cloth
ing. arms. horses and all equipments
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

We are sadly in want of everything
almost that the government allows us..
Our horses with which we left Va. are most
effectually played out. Our company took
from. Farifax fifty_seven horses. and of
that number we now retain four. and
two of them are unserviceable..
Some 900 men have been sent from
our division to Washington or Alexandria
to procure new horses from for the com
mand. and it is thought they will bring
back with them from. 2000. to 2500. horses..
Our arms are in nearly as bad a con
dition as our horses. Owing to the wet
rainy weather, s’abres. carbines. and
revolvers have defied the exertion of the
men to keep them from wet and they
now look more like rusty pieces of
old iron than effective offensive or defen
sive weapons of warfare. Our two new
companies have no revolvers. and left
Washington with sabres only..
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

A few captured carbines (poor things)
have been turned over to them..
Col Mann. went to Washington soon
after they joined us and made a requisi
tion on the ordnance department for
revolvers enough to arm them and also
supply the places of the unserviceable
ones among the older companies..
It is also said that we are to receive
the Spencer. carbine which is undoubtedly
the best cavalry arm in the service.. I have
never yet carried a carbine any length
of time but if those guns are issued to
us. I shall draw one and carry it as
long as I can.. Tomorrow is Sunday
and the usual day for inspection and
I presume we shall have big times..
although we have not yet received orders
to prepare for it.. For several days past:
in fact ever since entering Virginia when
opportunities were favorable our Sergt and
officers have been very busy making out
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

reports of the condition of the regts and
companies the alterations in men. horses,
arms and equipments. Reports are required
every ten days and as we have had no
time during the campaign to make these
at the proper time. they all come at once.
then comes a monthly [illegible in original] and although
I like writing I bless my stars that I am
not 1st Sergt or regimental Adjutant..
We have no commissioned officer of our
own with the company and it makes it
much harder for Sergt Holton than it
would be if they were here. as many of these
reports properly belong to the captains duties..
Our Capt as you know is in Washington
or Baltimore wounded. Lieut Briggs acting
Adjutant of the regt and Lieut Nichole
has been in [illegible in original] since some days before
we left Washington in March lst.
Capt Walter. I scarcely think will ever rejoin
the company again not because his wound
will unfit him for the service but I think
he will resign for various reasons, too numerous
to be mentioned at present.. Lieut Briggs
we shall lose. The position of Adjt has been
offered him several times, but he has invariably
declined it. But now Adjt Doty has resigned
and gone home. I bide him “good bye, a few
days ago while at Amissville. He was an
excellent officer for the position, and his educa
tion and qualifications would have, (if such
things had any weight in military matters)
given him a much higher rank. I think
that without doubt he was the best educa
ted man in our regt. He had occupied
at home a position of considerable distincton
in an educational institute in the eastern
part of Michigan and the fact of occupy
ing a place where he was out ranked by
such men as some of our staff officers
galled him severely. Hence his resignation
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

Since he has left us Lieut Brigges
has again been tendered the position
and although his refusals have formerly
been firm he now. I thinks begins to
waver and I hear will be prevailed on
to accept. it. The whole company h-a
men are sorry to lose him from the
company. He is a man. and an officer
which is more than can be said of every
one who wears shoulder straps.
He is always jovial. never out of
temper and often comes to eat with us
rather than eat with the staff and
says he never lived so poorly in all
his life than since he has been at
Hd.q trs Lieut Nichols had his
court martial a few days since but
I have as yet heard no decision.. We are
not very anxious to have him come back
to us again. We now have a roundheaded
Dutchman in command. who gives every
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

order wrong end first and whom all
hate consequently we do pretty much as
we choose, so far as he is concerned.. being
sure that if we do almost contrary to his
orders that it will be all right..
As to the men we have lost
since we left. Fairfax I know but little of
them. Of those wounded at Gettysburg
I saw but one. Chester Calvin. and I have
heard nothing from him since. Through
others who have seen him I learn that
he is doing well. Three others are in
a General Hospital at Philadelphia..
One had his right arm amputated at
the shoulder: He was a fine. strong. stout
robust fellow from near Niles. named
Brickell. He formerly belonged to the
57th Ill. and fought at Fort Henry
and Shiloh. was taken prisoner at
the battle of Corinth in October last spent
four or five weeks in Vicksburg. was
finally paroled and enlisted on
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

Christmas for our company. I
pity him. He was foremost in the
charge and when I last saw him
was spurring his horse to his fastest
swinging his sabre above his head
and shouting “Hooker! Hooker!” at
the top of his lungs. He has often
said that if we ever got into a battle
he would either be wounded or killed.
Another of our boys had his left
hand shattered by a fall so badly
that it was necessary to amputate
it at the wrist.. Both brave boys
and monuments martyrs for their
country.. Of those missing we have
heard nothing.. Their fate may never
be known to us..
Col Mann. it is reported is about
going home. but whether on a visit
or for what object I can not say..
Some think it doubtful if he
ever returns. I hope this may
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

not be so. When we left Michigan
Col. Mann did not stand in high repute
among the men in the regt. And although
there have been many things in his career
during the five months of active service that
he has had command of us that did not suit
us there have been many others that
raised him in our estimation and I
think few would be glad to have him
leave the regiment as the command will
then fall upon Lieut Col. Litchfield who
though a good man does not suit us
in every particular. But of what use are
feelings. likings. or anything else to soldiers
We cannot make or unmake our rulers
and our best policy is to submit
quietly, if not cheerfully to those whom
Uncle Sam gives us. Soldiering is
like any other life. We can make it what
we choose. If a person makes up his
mind to do everything required of him
so far as he can. and do it cheerfully
and as though he felt it his duty
he will find it no harder than a
[illegible due to smudge in original] though active life at home.
But if a person is determined
to do as he chooses defy officers and
disobey orders he will find that the
powers that be “have the might and
strength to make him do it.. and
the methods of punishment in
vogue are none of the mildest I
can assure you. I once rebelled when
ordered to inflict a certain punishment
upon one of our boys. and prepared to take
the consequences. but strange to say
no notice ws taken of it: I dont often disobey
orders.
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

Every part of the infantry that
we know anything about seems in a
state of idleness.. We found the 6th
corps beyond Warrenton on the pike
leading to Culpepper C.H.. the 3d
around Warrenton Village and
the 1st here. Where the other corps
are I can not tell. That part
of the Army of the Potomac that we
have seen during our campaign
comprised the 1st 2nd, 3d 5th 6th
11th & 12th corps.. By the papers of
yesterday I learn that the 11th is
to be broken up and united with
the other corps.. This corps has
not had a good record during this
summer. It broke badly at the
battle of Chancellorsville. and again
at Gettysburg.. One division of
it is composed almost entirely
of Pennsylvania and Ohio Germans.

Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

regiments and I do not think much
of their bravery..
I have heard several re
ports of Artillery towards the front
this morning but think them too
close to give any cause to fear an en
gagement as I do not beleive Lee
has any forces near here..
This is a very warm day and
I sincerely hope no move will be
made. But now comes Boots
& Saddles. and the order. Saddle
up. so good bye for the present.

3. P.M.
Although it was not noon when
my letter was so unceremoniously in
terrupted we yet remain in camp.
At first we saddled up. f struck
our tents and packed everything
ready to start. then we fed. then
made our coffee and got our
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 11

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

dinner then drew four day
rations then we received orders to
detail 16 men to be ready to start
at 4 P.M. then went out dischar
ged our revolvers and cleaned them
up. and unsaddled and now wait
orders to move. We are going after
Moseby. So they tell us. and may
be gone only a day or two and
may be gone ten or longer.
Forty men from the regt have
been sent to Washington after
horses. This camp will not
be broken up for the present
but will be our headquarters..
There are rumors that we
are to be placed upon the caval
ry defences of Washington again.
I do not know whether this
is true or not. nor do I much
care. The hot weather is coming
on. and the water in Virginia
Havens Letter: August 1 1863 , Page: 12

Havens Letter: August 1 1863
Havens Letter: August 1 1863

is absolutely awful. and I predict
that many will suffer with sickness
ere long.. I never felt better in
my life than at the present time.
We have lived for two or three
weeks on blackberries and dewberries
which grow in great quantities all over
the state and I never do better than
when I have plenty of fruit.
It will not be long before apples
and peaches will begin to ripen and
then I shall grow fat right along.
I do not know what direction we
shall take from here but think. that
is hope it will be towards Stafford C H
and the Potomac..
Allen Park is slightly unwell
and will not go with us at the present
time. Wm Graham is all right and on
hand for everything. Does anyone
at home know where Newt Sparks
is. I do not and would like to find
out so that I could write to him.
His soldiering has been very different
from ours. Yet I do not envy him the
good times he has had. If I had been
obliged to remain as idle as he has I
should have died ere this.
You will think this a long letter no
doubt and may tire out before finishing it
But this morning I felt like visiting with
you and the morning being quiet and every
thing so productive of a thinking
mood that I had not been interested
you would have got a much longer one
I wrote without stopping to think whether
it would interest you or not.. That
promised letter from Father and Mother
has not yet arrived. Hope it will
soon. In Haste,
Edwin R Havens
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