Havens Letter: December 21 1863


Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: December 21, 1863
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 17
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 17
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: December 21 1863, Page: 1

Havens Letter: December 21 1863
Havens Letter: December 21 1863

Stevensburg Va
Monday Eve. Dec 21st /63

Dear Nell.
Your last welcome note
was received some time before I wrote to
Isom sorry but somehow or another I have neglected
it. I cant give any excuse for so doing. and
wont try. I am becoming as lazy as of
old and think I am as good a soldier in
that respect as the best of them.
We are having good weather. plenty of work
and good times generally. We have had
one or two cold snaps and storms. but neg
lected to fix us comfortable quarters as the
cry has been. “We’re going back for winter quarters”
But we still remain here and now I
think we shall pull out of here by Christ
mas. simply because we have got us a good
comfortable house. and I am writing tonight
in the most comfortable position that it
has been my lot to occupy for many months.
We commenced, four of us, yesterday mor
ning to build us a shanty. and worked
like beavers until 3 P.M. when we stopped
long enough to attend “Divine service” and
then worked till dark & up again this mor
ning and at it again finishing just at
dark. I wish you could see us tonight
You would think. that if we could be con
tented in this we did not know what com
fort was. But you would be mistaken. It
is you that do not know what real, solid
comfort is. or at least do not, can not ap
preciate it as we can. But enough of this
Come over Christmas Eve and eat oysters will
you. At any rate a Merry Christmas
to you, and all around you.
Havens Letter: December 21 1863, Page: 2

Havens Letter: December 21 1863
Havens Letter: December 21 1863

News there is none Everything is
quiet. but every one thinks we will move
back. the 26th Quarters of the Army stopping
near Warrenton Junction. I hope this may
not be so. and yet I almost fear we shall.
One reason for the movement is that ^ is almost
impossible with the means of transportation
by the line of R.R. (the only line for supplies) it is
almost impossible to supply our army with
everything and by drawing the army back
and shortening the route it will make it
easier to supply the army and require fewer
troops to guard the R.R. But on the other
hand if we go back near Washington, Alexan
dria or Fairfax while it will be easier to
supply us with forage and rations, we shall be
farther from wood. and wood is quite an
item even in the “Sunny South” during the
winter season. We begin to find it so, already..
Nearly all the troops. infantry artillery, and
cavalry are comfortably fixed in quarters. for the
winter and it would seem almost cruel in
our commanders to make us quit them and
making from 3 to ten days march. Sleeping
on the ground. which is just sleeping in
the mud. now a days. the living from ten
to twenty days. in an uncertain state. as
to whether we shall meet build winter quarters
or not. Another thing that may cause the
army to retire is so many troops going home
for 30 to 60 days. All who have been in
the service over two years may reenlist and
receive the benefit of pay and bounty awarded
to veterans.. and 30 or 60 days furlough. Whole
regiments. brigades and divisions of some of
the corps. are re enlisting almost to a man
and several cavalry regiments are comply
ing with the call as readily as did even poor
sinners at home.. The 1st [Pa.?] Ca. from our
division has already. gone. the 1st Mich. 1st
Vt. & 5th NY. will soon follow them The
1st Mich are as enthusiastic about ^ as they
were 30 months ago when first organizing
and out of some 27r. old members of
the regiment over 200 are enlisting

Havens Letter: December 21 1863, Page: 3

Havens Letter: December 21 1863
Havens Letter: December 21 1863

Several have said all along that
they would never, never. enlist. if country. con
stitution and flag went to to ruin; but now
when they see their comrades. all re enlisting
come forward and are among the most enthusias
tic, “veterans” of old Mich. One of them has just
told me that 266 have already signed the
rolls. I begin to feel some share of the enthusiasm
that I felt when I enlisted and was our
regt old enough to take advantage of this
offer I believe I should be among the first to
re enlist. Many of the newer regiments
are getting furloughs. of 15 days. and going
home. It is ordered that two men from each
reg company be permitted to go at a time on
this length of furloughs. No one has yet gone
from our company. nor do I know who
will be the first lucky one, not me I am
certain. for if I take any advantage of this op
portunity (which I do not now think I shall)
it will not be before the middle of January.
You may think that (as usual with me)
I would be in a terrible fever. and among the
first to apply for a furlough. But not so, and
I’ll tell you why. In the first place travelling
expenses alone home and back will be at least
$30.000 (two dollars per day) and incidental ex
penses will swell the sum to $50.00. perhaps. $75.
for half a months enjoyment.. Now looking
at this view of the case. then. look at the pros
pect that this war will close before Dec. comes
again. would you, placed in my position
think it would pay fo me to go home. I feel
like this now. but should Reynolds Graham
Park. one, two, or all of them go, I would n’t
wonder, if I turned tail. and like. Jo
McKinzey would say. “Who cares. for expenses”

here goes. [for?] fun) “and follow them..
How goes school teaching? Well as ever? I
hope so. By this time you may consider
yourself an experienced teacher. You have
just got your school disciplined and may
Havens Letter: December 21 1863, Page: 4

Havens Letter: December 21 1863
Havens Letter: December 21 1863

look for things to go on smoothly
and evenly during the coming [illegible in original]
of the school. and so they will. Only
keep a stiff upper lip. and a tight rein. notice
and take care of every advantage gained. Keep
it and work for more and you will come
out all right. Firmness, a desire to please
all, but yourself first is all that you need.
to insure success. But I have told you this
many times before, and you know, by this
time as much about it as I can tell you.
Brig. Gen. Buford commanding the 1st division
of our cavalry died a few days ago in Washing
ton. He was as good a cavalry officer as we had
in the service and is deeply mourned by all
the cavalry. He was appointed a Maj Gen on
the day of his death. Gen Merrill takes the
position thus vacated. Kilpatrick who was
called home a month ago by the death
of his wife returned last night. Gen Custer
who has been in command of the division
during his absence is reported to have
received the appointment of commander
of all the cavalry in the Southwest. and it
is also reported that he is making an effort
to take all the Mich cavalry with him where
he will put all of it together in one division
thus making an entire Mich division and
one led by him that would be irresistible.
This is only a rumor and as such I
give it.. let it go as far as it will. I only hope
it may be true, and that success may attend
all his efforts. Perhaps now you think Ed is
putting on style. in writing a letter after this
plan. But who cares. It is almost impossible for
me to keep paper enough on hand to finish all
my correspondence and so I have taken this plan
and write in “Double column close order”
Give my best wishes to all inquiring
friends and write soon
Edwin R Havens
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