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Havens Letter: October 12 1863

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: October 12, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 15
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 15
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

Near. Bealeton Station Va.
October 12th 1863

Dear Father
Your long looked for
letter dated Sept 30th has just been received
and read and not knowing when I shall
again get a few spare moments in which
I could write a few lines. I will attempt
to write some in answer although I
feel much more like sleeping this
morning than writing..
But one word in regard to Nell’s
leaving home. and then I will pass
to other subjects, which, so far as personal
feelings are concerned will be less pain
ful to you and me.. The reason you
have given for the course you have pur
sued in regard to the matter is the same
one that I had already pictured to my
mind.. Although as you well know. I am
far from being perfect. myself. I could
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

never have chosen as my associates
at all times. Geo. and Jas Lee. especially
the latter and I used always try to
make Nell feel as I did concerning them
and although not beleiving that Nell
has become so depraved as he. I can not
but feel pained that. Nell should have
done as he has. and hope he will now
see his error and reform..
Now to other subjects.. By this time
or at least soon you will receive news
from this quarter that will sadden all
hearts. The country so nobly won five
weeks ago has been abandoned and
too because we were outnumbered or
out generaled. For five days past. the
slowly
enemy has been steadily ^ but steadily and
an
surely pushing our men from the Rapid^
and yesterday and last night the greater
part if not all of our forces crossed the
Rappahannock and are now preparing
the
for a hard and ^ decisive battle of this
seasons campaign. About a week ago it
was rumored that Lees army. again recruited
to large numbers by the recalling of that
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

portion of it lent to Bragg to fight the late
battle of Chickamauga. and too. reinforced
by other troops was again preparing to advance
against us. This was unwelcome news to
us. as knowing that our armies weakened
as they were by the two corps sent to reinforce
Rosecrans was less able to oppose him than
when we advanced upon them..
To one who could not see all of Gen.
Meade’s operations. and not in his confi
dence sufficient to know all of his plans
it would appear that he was quietly sit
ting in idleness. the only signs of activity
being the bringing forward of supplies
for the troops. not only of rations and forage
but of everything necessary to prepare them
for enduring the cold weather so fast approach
ing. Large trains of cars were busy bring
ing forward supplies of clothing and arms
and everything indicating that we might
make our winter quarters south of the
Rappahannock and I fondly hoped
we might as if we were forced to remain
in Virginia during the coming winter
I hoped we might be as near Richmond
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

as possible. On Thursday night
we received orders to have our train
ready to move at a moments notice
and about midnight the 5th Corps
which lay near us commenced moving
past our camp and continued until
late in the forenoon. marching toward
the front. their trains loaded with forage
and rations and the men carrying
eight days rations in their haversacks
and knapsacks. Thursday we had
been supplied with large quantities
of grain and hay it being the first hay
we had received since crossing the
river.. We were obliged to unload the
hay and reload the grain and for that
purpose had to work till near midnight..
Wait, I am a little too fast: all this
excepting the receipt of the grain happened
on Friday. It was not until that day
night we received the above orders and
the troops commenced moving..
Thursday night a party of rebs crossed
the Rapidan in the vicinity of James
City and surprised a picket camp

Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

of our regt capturing six men and
sixteen horses and killing one man
and escaping without loss. The cause
of their being surprised was that
the Capt in command of the post
had foolishly almost criminally
allowed his men to build large
camp fires and lay down to sleep
having [illegible in original] near the camp
they only awaking when the
enemy were in their midst..
He should be cashiered and
disgracefully dismissed from the
service. but the usual way of re
warding such an act is to to as
rapidly as possible afterwards
promote him to higher office
and this may not prove an excep
tion to this rule..
On Friday I went on business
for our Q.M. to Culpepper three
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

times and found much more
activity than I had ever seen
there before. The space around
the R R. depot was filled with
teams. waiting to transport Quarter
master stores to their respective com
mands. and ambulances and
hospital wagons busy bringing
to the depot sick and wounded
who were loaded into the cars
to be sent to Washington and
the hospitals in that vicinity..
This convinced me that some
movement was anticipated as
upon our arrival there a
post hospital had been estab
lished and all sick and wounded
had been sent to it. Heavy
trains were constantly arriving
loaded with all kinds of Qtr
Masters stores and I thought
that if any movement were
made it would be a forward one

Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

All day Saturday we lay
quietly in camp. the wagons
loaded and the teams harnessed
ready to hook up at a moments
warning. Early in the morning
the enemy forced our signal
corps from their post: near our
picket line and drove in our
pickets. yet the cavalry held their
position and skirmishing and
some cannonading went on
all day.. Gregg’s cavalry which
had been at Warrenton Junction
passed through Culpepper towards
the front Saturday morning..
The signal corps. reported
that three strong columns of the
enemy could be seen coming
from the direction of Madison
C.H. so long that when the advance
reached our picket lines the rear
could not be seen.. At dark
we received orders to hook
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

up and move out. After start
ing we found the trains of the
3rd and 5th corps partly in advance
of us and were compelled to
wait until they had passed
Consequently we but barely
reached the village which being
scarce a mile distant from our
camp the rear of our train only
got into the road and straight
ened out into line.. Expecting
to move every moment we dared
not unhitch or even take our
blankets from our saddles, but
pitching into the fences we soon
had large fires and getting as
close as possible to them we
lay down in the hard road
and holding our horses we
caught an occasional nap
through the night and started
again at the first streaks of
dawn.
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

Without stopping to feed
or even nibble a bit of Hard
Tack we kept on until within
a half mile of Rappahannock
Station where the train halted and
unhitched for a few minutes. but
before they had time to get out their
grain orders were given to hook
up again and get across the river
as soon as possible.. Two pontoon
bridges had been lain one above
and one below the R.R. bridge
across which both troops and
wagons could pass as well as
the cars.. On our way from
Culpepper. several heavy trains passed
us loaded with stores. forage and
rations which they were bring
ing back again.
Two or three corps of infantry
were marching back while
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

from our rear in the lull
of the noise made by our wagons
came the reports of cannon
ading where our cavalry were
holding the rebs in check
as well as they could.. It was
not until yesterday morning
that our [2 words illegible in original] commenced
to retreat but they made pretty
good time after they got started
Their advance came into
Culpepper on one side while
the rear of our train was
passing out the other.. and
an advance of the rebs reached
there at nearly the same time.
From some of our boys I
learned that our brigade pro
tected the rear of the division
with two lines of skirmishers
with strong support. Our
regt or a part of it was employed
to support a battery while our
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 11

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

company supported the
skirmishing.. Wm Graham
with seven others was on the
extreme flank supporting a
few skirmishers when they
were surprised by coming
within the rebels lines. and
turned around to skedaddle
out. before they had gone far
they found themselves between
one of our regts and one of the
rebs charging upon each other.
and scarce 20 rods apart. To
avoid being killed by either
party they were forced to put spurs
to their horses and run for dear
life. and barely escaped being
by passing beyond them before
they met. At another time
Will barely escaped being Killed
by a cannon ball which passed
just above his horse’s head causing
him to drop almost to the ground
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 12

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

Will Exceeds every hope I ever
dared to hold for any of our
boys. I wish I merited half
the honor he does.
The enemy opposed to Greggs
division forced him back
so much faster than the others
did “Old Kill.” that Kilpatrick
found himself near Brandy
Station outflanked on both
sides and fast being surroun
ded.. In fact but for a change
made for at a lucky moment
the Michigan brigade would
have been cut off from all
others and would have found
much harder work than
had ever required their nerve
before. But Kilpatrick and
Custer (who had returned two
days before) [illegible in original] at their head
not
and none would ^ have dared
to follow where they would lead
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 13

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

Our cavalry crossed the
river after nine O’clock last
night the enemy pursuing
them almost to its banks..
Our loss in the division
is believed to have been but
slight when compared with
the dangers of the position
they occupied. Our regt is
said to have lost but two
wounded. and our company
none.. To day the division
has gone to Morrisville four
or five miles from here in the
direction of Falmouth.
After crossing the river we
stopped near Rappahannock
station and fed the teams and
thinking that we might
perhaps stay till morning we
at dusk put up our tents and
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 14

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

went to bed right early hoping
to make up for loss of sleep the
night before. But about ten
O’clock we were routed out
and marched to this place
and about three O’c were
again permitted to spread
our blankets upon the
n
grou^d and turn in. The
night was very cold although
with plenty of blankets and
a big fire at our feet we
slept oblivious of cold without
This morning at daylight
I stuck my nose out from
under the blanket and quickly
drew it back again it feeling
somewhat as it used to winter
mornings in Michigan..
A stiff white frost was on
all about as I found on
rising after dreading it some
half hour.
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 15

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

There has been considerable
excitement about reorganizing
old regts and many whose
term of service is nearly ex
pired are reenlisting for
three years.. The 1st Mich Cav
is reorganizing and many of
its members are reenlisting
also the 7th infantry.. The in
ducements offered are [412?] dol
lars bounty and 30 days fur
lough to those who have been
in the army over two years
This precludes me from taking
advantage of this brilliant
offer and I am not sorry.
I am willing to serve the time
I enlisted for. but when that
expires nothing short of a com
mission will induce me to
[illegible in original] the service. My patriot
ism is too weak. yet I do not
can not regret that I am in the
army
Havens Letter: October 12 1863 , Page: 16

Havens Letter: October 12 1863
Havens Letter: October 12 1863

We shall probably leave
here again to night. and I
will close. get some dinner and
go to sleep.. Reports say that Lee
is advancing upon the Shenandoah
valley again. Others that they
have been crossing at Falmouth
for three days. But I guess Meade
knows what he is about. The 2nd
Corps of infantry is now marching
towards the river again and the
crossing of the rebs will be hotly
contested I think.. We may
see Alexandria soon and we
may see Richmond sooner. One
of our boys captured at Gettysburg
returned a week since after a month
and three days among the rebs
He is willing to fight them
again but don’t want to be taken
again. Hoping this will find
you in better health than when
you wrote I remain your affectionate
Son E R Havens

[Written on the left hand side of Scan 16]

Direct: E R Havens Co A. 7th Mich Cavalry Washington
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