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Havens Letter: February 4 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: February 4, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 19
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 19
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

Stevensburg Va
February 4th 1864

Dear Nell.
Your welcome letter
of. Jan. 26th came to hand last night and
I steal now a few minutes in which
to commence an answer. I wrote you
on the 24th since which time I have
had no opportunity to pen a word
to any one. excepting a very short
one to Father a week ago. which
I wrote about midnight.. As. soon
as Capt Wells returned from Washington
we set about making up our papers
for January, and have been very busy
ever since. We have nearly finished
them now.. and as Capt went to
Brandy this morning and laid out
no work for me.. I have chosen
not to know what might be done
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

and do what is to me much more
pleasant. viz: write an answer to your
lively and interesting letter..
in
There was one thing said about
your letter that I do not clearly
understand.. It was this “But wait
awhile; there’s a good time coming,
and when that time comes you
may look for me down that way..
and if our ‘Uncle Samuel’ has any
thing for such a fellow as me to do
and can afford to give me my board
and clothing I guess. I can stay wh
with him a spell..” I agree with
you. and sincerely beleive that “there’s a
good time coming” and that it is not
far distant.. but if its principal features
are the meeting of you in this country.
and too, in any way employed by
“Uncle Sam” I pray that it may
never come, I have repeatedly writ
ten you my advice to keep out of the
army. and I reiterate it more

Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

and more emphatically now. than
ever.. The longer experience I have in
this service the more I am convin
ced that it is no place for you. and
the stronger becomes my dislike to have
you become in any way connected
with it.. I do not doubt in any way
your fitness. to endure the privations.
hardships. dangers. and last but not
least the abuse heaped upon a sub
ordinate. by men “clothed in a little
brief authority” and “shoulder straps”
many of whom apparently take de
light in heaping upon the men
under their charge, all manners
of abuse and insults and indig
nities.. I never want to see you
placed. either by your own voluntary
act. or by the decree of a law. which
every loyal heart owns to be just. in
a position to receive all these..
Unlike the fox who. having his
own tail cut off whe wh wished

Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

all others to follow. suit and be
in the fashion. I would rather take
it all than see a friend or relation
of mine bearing a share of it..
You will think that I am getting
tired of this business. and becoming home
ed
sick. besides repenting that I ever enlist^
I will confess that what I have
written would naturally lead any
one to that conclusion, and there
fore will not here attempt to refute
the accusation.. I will simply
say this. I thought of all these
things before signing my freedom
away for three years. and that I
always make it a practice to be honest
in all transactions. and when I make
a mistake not be ashamed to own it
to the whole world and the rest of man
kind. Now. I thought I could endure
these things for the sake of the
country. and when I grow tired of
enduring them. rest assured I shall
make “no bones” of it. but “spit” it out
to all mankind in generall and the
people of Michigan in particular
But because I am satisfied to endure it
myself. I see no reason why I should
wish every other loyal heart to do the same
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

People may talk of the
patriotism of individual soldiers. but
I must confess. I “cant see it..” Perhaps
it is because I am not patriotic myself.
Many I doubt not entered the army from
pure love of country. or perhaps more truly speak
ing, because they beleived the north to be right and
the south wrong, and having too much pride of
sectional valor to tamely submit to see the
southern faction victorious swelled with their
mite the mighty armies of volunteers which
were speedily raised in “61” and “62.” I claim
to have enlisted, because I beleived it my duty
to do so. and beleived too it was the duty of every
one who could, consistently leave home and family
to do so, but so far as patriotism is concerned.
at least such patriotism as our Revolutionary
fathers are represented to have been imbued with
I fear I have but little of it.. It may be patriot
ism. to endure all the ills incident upon a mili
tary life with out grumbling, but I think
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

when sifted to the bottom. and the dregs. thorough
ly analyzed it will be found to be nothing
more than a conclusion that such things must
be, and that grumbling will not better it in the
least, and that from this [illegible in original] sprung a dogged de
termination to endure what can not be made
better. by snivelling complaints. That’s my opin
ion: let it go for what its worth, and whenever
I hear any one praising the patriotism of our
soldiers. I think it very good to talk about
but the thing itself aint “thar..” It would
be impossible to keep the army together if
them were told there was no patriotism
among them, so I say, let “em spout” on the
patriotism.
On reading this you’ll doubtless say
“something’s gone cross wise with Ed. or he’d
never written that..” Well I should’nt wonder
if you’re about right there. but I confess
I can tell what it is exactly.. Sometimes I feel
“right [peart?]” and then again I feel “down in
the mouth” a “heap” and am unable to tell
what causes it.. My letters are therefore an
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

index to the weather gauge of my feelings
while writing them.. I have felt cross
as a bear with a sore head ever since last
night about bedtime. and felt that I must
give vent to my pent up feelings in some
manner. and everyone here being bigger
than I am I [illegible in original] “hook” on to any one
here so I concluded to “go back” on you..
and having done so I begin to feel better na
tured and think I have perhaps been a little
too rough especially as I intend to you make
you pay the postage on this letter..
You mustnt “get your back up” now
because I am going to tell you that it amuses
me to read the accounts of your trials as a
school teacher. I can and do pity you. but it
has been a good lesson to me and I doubt
not it will be to you. I used often to tell you
my trials when teaching and will not repeat
any now. The most troublesome scholars are
always those “ole enough, big enough and ought
to know better” and yet wont do it.. “Be [illegible in original]
[Mouses?]” is the word. they’ll see their faults before
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

they die. and perhaps repent of them.
I wonder if Miss Laura B. has forgotten
that she once wanted to come into the family..
Oh! the faithless jade.. She has now become
prepossed in favor of George has she. and of
course has forgottne all the past. Thus you
see how the “fair ones at home” sympathise with
patriotism . and I forsake any one vulgar and un
gallant enough to prefer the claims of country
to the charms of their own fair faces and bright
eyes.. Never become a soldier if you have any
claim on the regard of those “Sucker” curls” or
the “Buckeye Duck” And George is a widower
again is he: well all I I can say is “Cant you let
him
^ be a widower.” Thus must all cowardly [illegible in original]
(I dont mean him nor you) (on the principle of present
company always excepted) stand back before the prow
ess of those who have stood the brunt of battle for
three long weary years. “when this cruel war is over.”
“None but the brave deserve the fair” but the devil
of it all is, by the time that we get home the
fair ones will all have mortgages foreclosed
on them and we, the brave must take up with
the “fat and forty” minus the fair.. Well I shant
take up with any such; I’ll leave Pipestone Michigan
and go to Pipestone first.. Or better still get me
a woman among the rebels in Virginia here
where the daughters marry a “Yank” soldier
while “Pap” gives him a deed of his farm thus
saving the property from destruction now
and confiscation in the future.
Nice drive that, for various reasons
one of them, not at all unlikely that the lucky “Yank”
will get “something” more than he bargained for
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

For several reasons. I dont beleive
I ever want to till the soil in Virginia..
I never yet plowed in a grave yard and
never want to.. I never could bear to
put a plow into the ground in any part
of Virginia for I should expect at any
moment to turn the bones of some poor
soldier.. It is no uncommon occurrence
to stop suddenly in the “road” and find your
horse standing upon the grave of some
soldier who fell. and in the hurry of the
battle. the retreat or the advance. had a
few shovel fulls of dirt thrown over him
to protect his bones from the carrion
crows. which are thick here as was ever
pigeons in September.. In a skirmish. if
a man is Killed and is convenient to some
ditch or old “dead furrow” he is carried
there and buried, and if his comrades
have time one of them cuts or writes his
name upon a board which they place
Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

at his head. We often see these boards stand
ing or lying near some freshly turned
earth.. and various conclusions may arise
concerning the remains of him whose name
we read. I can never pass one of these
without a pang of sorrow. no matter how
frequently they may be seen..
News. there is none. The rumor of a
contemplated move was started a few
days since. and some felt quite confident
we would move. But we have nt gone yet,
Ill. write you when we do go.. To day is
the appointed time for Custer’s wedding.
I hope he may have a joyful time..
The Michigan officers attended a ball
in Washington the night of the 26th at
which Custer and staff were present..
The next night Kilpatrick had one
at his quarters. near here. Several officers
with their wives and daughters were
present. The 3d Corps had one a few nights
before. an account of which appropriately
headed “A Ball on the Battlefield” was

Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 11

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

at his head. We often see these boards stand
ing or lying near some freshly turned
earth.. and various conclusions may arise
concerning the remains of him whose name
we read. I can never pass one of these
without a pang of sorrow. no matter how
frequently they may be seen..
News. there is none. The rumor of a
contemplated move was started a few
days since. and some felt quite confident
we would move. But we have nt gone yet,
Ill. write you when we do go.. To day is
the appointed time for Custer’s wedding.
I hope he may have a joyful time..
The Michigan officers attended a ball
in Washington the night of the 26th at
which Custer and staff were present..
The next night Kilpatrick had one
at his quarters. near here. Several officers
with their wives and daughters were
present. The 3d Corps had one a few nights
before. an account of which appropriately
headed “A Ball on the Battlefield” was

Havens Letter: February 4 1864 , Page: 12

Havens Letter: February 4 1864
Havens Letter: February 4 1864

vamoosing” rapidly before the varacious
appetites of a few human critters who can
eat any good thing set before them as
well as ever they could.
I am well. as ever and so are
all of the rest of the boys. Wm Graham
received a box at the same time that
I did. He had a bully pair of boots and
sundry other things too numerous to men
tion. But dinner is ready and as we
have a big plate of boiled beef I beleive
I’ll quit writing and assist in the good
work of Keeping that and a bushel or
so of hard tack from spoiling.
Write soon. Give my compliments
to all inquiring friends and accept
the good wishes and love of your
Hungry Brother
Edwin R Havens
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