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Havens Letter: September 16 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: September 16, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: Havens Letter: September 16 1863
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: Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

In the woods near Culpepper
Court House Va. Sep. 16th 1863

Dear Nell.
As it has been nearly
a week since I wrote you. and as
the papers. those chroniclers of current
event’s have ere this given you inti
mation that there are movements
in the east. as well as in the south
and west. I presume that you feel
a natural curiosity to hear some
thing of them from one who has
been an eye.witness of some part of
the exciting scenes of the past four
days. I will try and pen you
a poor detail of the events as they
have presented themselves to my
notice.. On Friday evening last
we went to bed in our pleasant
camp at Berea Church happy
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

as though we were at home and
looking forward to the possesion of.
within the next eight-and forty
hours. two months wages in “green
backs” as a detail of 75 men was
ordered to leave camp at midnight
and proceed to Warrenton Junction
to escort Maj Nicols. our brigade pay
master to our camp. This detail
left camp. as per orders. and the
rest of us dreamed of the precious
“squeaking bugle”
slips of paper. “Till the rattling drum”
bade us rouse from the dream of
green backs and “the girls at home.”
Soon after rising we received orders
to pack every thing but tents. and
an
be ready to move at half ^ hours
notice; the tents to be struck when
the order to move was given.
Opinniions as to the cause and
object of the movement were freely
expressed. all of which it is need
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

less for me to say, were far
from the correct one. One rumor
that pleased me somewhat was that
our regt was going to Baltimore to
do provost duty releiving another
regt that had been on duty for some
time.. But rumors, and opinions
were more rife than ever when we at
10. A.M. received orders to be ready
to move at 11:30. A M. and at about
1 P.M. we bade farewell to our
camp and took up our line of
march toward Bealteon: We left
that road when within five miles
of B- and took a direct road
to Kelly’s Ford across the Rappa-
hannock. We camped a short dis
tance from the ford about 10 O’clock
at night and slept till 3 A.M. Sunday
when we were ordered out got some
coffee and pork and with a loaf of
bread made us a small breakfast
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863


Appearances for a day or two
had indicated rain. and about
3 P M. Saturday we rceived a very
ne
welcome shower which moiste^d the
ground enough to lay the dust in the
road which was so bad as to almost stifle
one in marching through it. We con
tinued to have slight showers till after
dark. when they ceased. to commence again
just after we had eaten our breakfast Sun
day morning.. and ceasing again at day light.
Kilpatrick himself with the advance
of the division crossed the river when the
first gray streaks of dawn appeared sur
prising the enemy’s pickets capturing two
and killing the third.. It was nearly 7 A.M.
when our regt, the last one in the division
crossed the river and for the first time I
found myself. on the southern bank of the
Rappahannock. From prudential motives
the division formed in line of battle, on
a ridge near the ford, the batteries with
their support were thrown into positions
and it looked some thing like old times
in Maryland.. Here. I claimed the
privilege of falling out of the company.
which Capt Walter readily granted. and
I went to the rear and remained in the
rear during the day.. We moved from
there in a short time and proceeded
without meeting the foe and seeing
nothing excepting the smoldering fires of
their picket stations. which would lead
us to think that any enemy had been in
the vicinity.. until where near [Brandeth?]
Stations if when the hoarse bark of some
of our little bull dogs. told us that the foe
was found
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

The force of the enemy found
here was Stuarts celebrated cavalry commanded
by Stuart in person. aided by Wade Hampton.
and Fitz Hugh Lee.. They attempted a resistance
but “Old Kill” soon proved to them conclusively
that their safety lay in immediate retreat which
they did slowly making a feeble resistance with
cavalry and artillery.. Here let me say that
Kilpatrick does not claim the entire honor of the
brilliant success of Sunday. Buford who Crossed
at Rappahannock station at [3?] A.M. was up [to? 10?] time
as was also Gregg. who had crossed at a point higher
up, probably Beverly Ford and Stuart found
himself out flanked and nearly surrounded by
the cavalry of the D--- Yankees, and his
retreat became each moment more hurried
and we that were in the rear scarcely halted
our horses till near Culpepper C.H. where we expected
a bold stand.. But Stuart considered it
best to leave the town to its fate and our
forces did not halt till they had driven
him a mile beyond the town. when they
halted for about an hour and there pitching
in again drove him from several strong posi
tions to Cedar Mountain. (called now Slaughter
Mountain in commemoration of Pope’s desperate
fight and sad defeat a year ago) where all
attempts to dislodge them have thus far
proved abortive. although our forces still hold
the ground occupied by them on Monday
morning on this bank of the Rapidan..
But I will return to Sundays proceedings
Our regt being in the rear of the division did
not get “Extensively engaged” in the business
that day. Once they found themselves in
excellent range of a rebel battery which was
by no means slow to take advantage of the opportunity
offered them. and one unlucky shell killed a sergt
named Tabor of Co “M,” This was his 3d term of
enlistment. he having already served a term
in the 3 months service and also a term of 9 months
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

Three pieces of artillery were taken two steel
3 inch rifled guns and one brass howitzer. also 1 Lieut
and 20 men who were working the pieces. One of
these men was a mulatto. Jeff should have a
care how he sends colored soldiers into the field.
These pieces were taken by the rebs at Harpers
Ferry at the time of Col Miles inglorious surrender
and one of them was taken by “our [illegible in original]” Gen Custer
and his body guard. without any other support
The [illegible in original] little [illegible in original] paid for his dashing act
with the loss of his horse which was mortally
wounded by a shell which burst directly under
him, hurling the Gen. from the Saddle some feet
into the air and also bruising his right ankle
severely. though it did not break the skin.
His horse was also shot in the head with a rifle or
pistol ball.. Some of Gen. Custer’s staff were congrat
ulating him on his narrow and lucky escape and
expressing their regret that he had received even
so slight a wound. when turning around he said
“Pshaw/ I dont care anything about my ankle
but they’ve spoiled my new boot.” ‘But Gen.” says
one. “they are some you captured” “O yes” said he
“they are shooting at their own boots.”
His wound however. was so severe as to incapacitate
him from riding next day and having before ob
tained a leave of absence to visit his home in Mich.
and commencing on Sunday, and giving up
his command to Col Grey of the Mich 6th he
started for home on Monday.. A. braver. more
gallant and dashing officer. I venture to say cannot
be found in “Uncle Abrahams” employ, and
I know that Gen Kilpatrick deeply feels the loss
to the division occasioned by his absence. as the
Mich brigade and their Gen. were considered by him
the best in the division. The brigade is now
under command of Col Preston of the 1st Vt
cavalry which regt was attached to our brig
ade a month ago.. Col Mann returned to the regt
just in time to resume command on this
movement. Capt Walker is with the Co. and I
can assure you the boys are well pleased at
being releived of the presence of Lieut Dutchman
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

But lets proceed. On Monday we
again moved forward. Kilpatrick in the center
Buford to the left and Gregg on the right.
They found the enemy occupying a strong position
on Cedar Mountain on the south bank of the
tly
Rapidan where all attempts to dislodeg him sufficien^
to effect a crossing were of no avail. and so far
as I can learn our forces now occupy the
same position chosen by them on Monday
I moved with the regt Monday until they
took up their position and became engaged
when I again went to the rear. This may seem
a good deal like cowardice on my part. but
as I am not permitted yet to return to duty and
resume my arms I do not feel like wilfully
[perilling?] my life in a place where I can be of
no great service to the cause I have espoused and
consequently do not wish to be a witness to suffereings
which I would not even be allowed to help
alleviate. As I have before said I do not dearly
love the sound of shrieking shell or whistling
bullets but I would willingly face all these
when on duty to be with my company. When
ent
away from that I am as discont^ed and uneasy
as one can be when deprived of the dearest thing
on earth. You feel anxious no doubt concerning
my safety at the present moment. so do I for
the safety of my Capt and comrades and to know
of their exact situation at the present moment
I would gladly face the storms of shot-shell
and balls which they have since Sunday
if provided with means of self defence.
But little excepting skirmishing and
artillery fighting took place on either Monday
or yesterday. A part of the time Monday I
occupied a position from which I could see
quite plainly the whole of the field occupied
by our division and was much pained to
see that our first brigade with its battery
occupied a position on which the rebel
artillery had an excellent range their
shells dropping amongst them every minute
and doing great execution among both
men and horses. The artillery in
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

in particular suffering severely. I once im
prudently ventured too near a group of officers
in an open field. when a rebel sharpshooter tried
his skill on the group and I must compliment
him in for the precision of aim with which he sent
his [card?] at so great a distance. while I turned
(as did all others) and “took leg bail for security”
The Mich 6th were dismounted and sent
forward as skirmishing and before the rebs
got their artillery and sKirmishers where they
could do much execution got into some
rifle pits near the river bank from which
they were unable to retreat as if they attempted it
they would have to climb quite a hill where the
enemy would have an excellent chance to do
them great injury with both shell and rifle.
and also, while remaining there they could
do considerable execution among their sharp
shooters without exposing themselves. They were
compelled to remain there until 11 Oclock
at night before they could venture out.
It is said that our pioneer corps. threw
up intrenchments last night and the 6th
are today occupying them with the same
of Monday. So long as they remain in them
they are safe. So soon as they attempt to
leave them. they expose themselves to the fire
of the enemys artillery and skirmishers
Today it has been quiet the greater part of
the time though an occasional word from
some “big gun” is come to us on the breeze
About noon a heavy fire of artillery and
musketry opened and continued some 20
minutes when all was silent again A rumor
reaches us that the enemy made a dash
across the river and was repulsed
From here we have seen considerable
activity among the rebs wagons on the
mountain. they apparently skedadling to
the rear “double quick” and a hope springs
up that our men have been successful
in forcing a passage and gaining
a footing on the other side
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

Cannonading just now opens
again and seems farther away than ever
before. and I wish to feel certain that the
Johnnies are again on the retreat. A consider
able force of infantry moved down to support
our cavalry last night and it is said that
a very large force is moving on them from
our right and it may be that they will
leave their position tonight.
I am now marching with the division wagon
train which is halted about two miles south of the
village of Culpepper C.H. and about four from
the situation occupied by the cavalry.
The cars came down to Culpepper yesterday and
part of the 2nd Corps of Inf. is there to hold
the place. The town is about as large as Buchan
an. but is much [dirtier?] but if under control
of our forces long it will improve in appearance
very fast. It has been a busy place and occu
pies a good position and with a sufficient
amount of enterprise would make a flourishing
place but at present its most striking
features are soldiers and negroes. No very
handsome buildings have I yet seen in it.
I joined the wagon train yesterday
morning which moved back there and re
loaded with forage and rations.
We receive our mail as regularly each day as
though we were in camp and I shall feel
somewhat disappointed if I do not receive one
of your welcome letters ere many days. I have
just heard that Capt Sprouls of our regt is woun
ded by a shell in the arm but hear of no
other casualties. Up to yesterday morning
none of our company had been harmed
since then I have heard nothing from them..
But my stock of news like your
patience has given out and I will
Havens Letter: September 16 1863 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: September 16 1863
Havens Letter: September 16 1863

bring this long prosy letter to
a close. Buford is blazing away
with two or three 32 pounders.
“Success to him say I.
Give my respects to all and
after accepting my best wishes for
yourself. and all the family sit
down and write me a good long
letter
Ever Yours
E R Havens
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