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Havens Letter: April 30 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: April 30, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 21
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 21
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

Near Culpepper Va
April 30th 1864

My Dear Mother.
Your most welcome letter
of the 24th came to hand last evening and
although I have but little to write I have
still less to do. at present. and have thought
it better to answer your letter than to remain
idle all day. I answered Nell’s letter of the 20th
a day or two since and last night I answered
Aunt Mary’s received at the same time with Nells.
Spring seems to be at length fairly established
the signs of which are pleasant weather and the
rapidly growing vegetation. The hill sides are
green with the young grass and the apple and
peach trees are full of blossoms. In Culpepper
the villagers are busy making gardens and
on some very few farms some one is trying
to plow a little and try to raise some little
grain for the coming season. I can hardly see
where they can raise anything or how they expect
to save what they may raise. whether our army
or the rebels occupy this country. No security
is to be expected from either. Our army will not
respect the property of the foes of our country
Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

and the rebels must have all they can get
to support them. The few prisoners or
deserters that we now see are ragged, dirty
half famished looking creatures strongly and
painfuly contrasting with those of our own
ranks who have almost every necessary of
life and many of its luxuries It is no uncommon
thing to meet an enlisted man. looking as neat
and clean in his suit of blue as the best of
of our village lads at home. Our army seems
to improve every day in the personal appearances
of its men. and our officers are taking more and
more interest every day in having the men of their
commands clothed in a style that no one need
to be ashamed to be seen at any time or place.
To be sure every one is required to wear a
uniform in accordance with the regulations
of the service. but no pains are sparedto have
these kept in good condition and nearly all
of our men are dressed in such a manner
that none need be ashamed of them..
The army has nearly all left its quarters
in which it has lain during the winter and
is now in such quarters as are generally used
in the field in times of active service.
No movement has yet taken place. but the
troops have been removed to new camps closely
adjoining the ones they have just left, nearly all

Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

of which have been destroyed by fire. Something
of the same seems to have been going on in the
rebel army as large fires are seen every night
and day in different localities. south of the Rapidan
That both armies are busily preparing for active
preparations none can doubt. All surplus. clothing
camp and garrison equippages. that have been needed
and have accumulated during the winter have
been boxed and sent to Washington and Alexandria
from whence we shall receive them again next
winter if we need them. Which I sincerely hope
we never shall but that we may be enjoying
our own peaceful happy homes..
Home! What speculations are rife in our minds
when we think of that pace, of all others on this
earth to which the heart ever delights to turn. What
visions of happiness, what plans for future life and
which ones we shall carry out. Last spring I spoke
several times in my letters of choosing a spot in
Virginia for my future home. That was before I
had seen the harder phases of the strife which has
made this country so desolate. and when winter
had set in and everything was bare and brown
I thought I could never be happy here in this
vast graveyard filled with the bones of my fellow
soldiers. But now Spring has returned again and
in looking around at the ruins of this. once.
most beautiful country I feel that I should
Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

consider our plain matter of fact Michigan a terrible
bore were it not for the ties of family and friends
I can never avoid contrasting the taste displayed
by the southern people in the adornment of their
homes dis with that of our hard working “enter
prising (if you will have it so) people of the north who
are so intent upon great wealth that they will not
spend a dollar or a cent in beautifying their grounds
which in many cases might be done with very little
expense of money, time and labor. You have often
noticed at home that the southern people chose to
build far from the road. and have often laughed
at the absurd reasons given by them for so doing.
They do build far from the road but I have come to
beleive that they do so more from choice of a good build
spot
ing localities, than from the silly reasons so often given
by the descendants of southern men who never lived south
of Mason and Dixons line. They all choose some knoll
from which they have a good view of the surrounding
n
country and i^stead of clearing from it every tree or
shrub. for a considerable distance around it they only
cut away the smaller timber and such larger timbers
as cover the spot chosen to set the house upon. By
this they have a pleasant shaded yard which is soon
covered with a beautiful green [illegible in original] and when
artificial means are added to increase its beauty.
by setting out smaller shrubbery and tastefully
adorning the yard with flowers graveled walks
etc. they have a beautiful home with but little expense.
The dwelling houses are nearly all after one
fashion. and almost invariably have the chim
neys., one at each end, outside of the house which
is the only detraction from the beauty of all. Fireplaces
are used every where and even in the most elegantly
furnished mansions you will never find a stove.
The darkies used to do the cooking by a fire
place and the Master and Mistress warmed them
selves in the same manner.
John Minor Botts. who lives near Brandy
Station still enjoys a greater part of his farm
unmolested and has a beautiful place

ly
His farm consists of 2200 acres and is beautiful^
located with Mansion Outhouses, barns and a
great deal of fence still preserved.
Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

consider our plain matter of fact Michigan a terrible
bore were it not for the ties of family and friends
I can never avoid contrasting the taste displayed
by the southern people in the adornment of their
homes dis with that of our hard working “enter
prising (if you will have it so) people of the north who
are so intent upon great wealth that they will not
spend a dollar or a cent in beautifying their grounds
which in many cases might be done with very little
expense of money, time and labor. You have often
noticed at home that the southern people chose to
build far from the road. and have often laughed
at the absurd reasons given by them for so doing.
They do build far from the road but I have come to
beleive that they do so more from choice of a good build
spot
ing localities, than from the silly reasons so often given
by the descendants of southern men who never lived south
of Mason and Dixons line. They all choose some knoll
from which they have a good view of the surrounding
n
country and i^stead of clearing from it every tree or
shrub. for a considerable distance around it they only
cut away the smaller timber and such larger timbers
as cover the spot chosen to set the house upon. By
this they have a pleasant shaded yard which is soon
covered with a beautiful green [illegible in original] and when
artificial means are added to increase its beauty.
by setting out smaller shrubbery and tastefully
adorning the yard with flowers graveled walks
etc. they have a beautiful home with but little expense.
The dwelling houses are nearly all after one
fashion. and almost invariably have the chim
neys., one at each end, outside of the house which
is the only detraction from the beauty of all. Fireplaces
are used every where and even in the most elegantly
furnished mansions you will never find a stove.
The darkies used to do the cooking by a fire
place and the Master and Mistress warmed them
selves in the same manner.
John Minor Botts. who lives near Brandy
Station still enjoys a greater part of his farm
unmolested and has a beautiful place

ly
His farm consists of 2200 acres and is beautiful^
located with Mansion Outhouses, barns and a
great deal of fence still preserved.
Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

of a growing interest within the last few years.
Could this country be settled by northern
men. or any enterprising class of men Central
and Eastern Virginia might in a few years be made
one of the best fruit and stock growing countries
on the American Continent. These hillsides are
just the land for grass and the innumerable
small streams of water would furnish plenty
of stock water. while during these mild, open
winters they would need but little care or feed
There has been no time this winter that our
horses could not find something to eat even
when grain and hay could not be got for them.
I wrote Nell all that was going on around
us and as nothing new has occurred since
I have nothing to write. Capt Wells. our
brigade Quartermaster was releived from his
place here and assigned to duty somewhere
in Washington.. Although I saw a great deal
in him to find fault with I was sorry to see
him go as he had generally treated me kindly
and I had learned his peculiarities and did
not fear being able to suit him. His successor
Lieut Ballard is a fine young man and I think
I shall like him as well. if not better than
Capt Wells. Some alterations have been made
among the men since Capt Wells. went away
and I have just received orders to send two

Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

of my men back to the company. I hate to do
it. we have been together so long. and I have learned
to depend on them and learned that I could. and
now I hate to see them go back.
I have spoken several times in my letters
through the winter of going back. and this morn
ing I did not know but I would really have
to go. But without any begging on my part the
Lieut gave me to understand that I was to
stay here. I had about as lief go back to
duty in the regiment as stay here as far as
I know.. I know this much I never enjoyed
myself better in my life than while I was
with the company and the company was
all together. but now it is so much scattered
many of the boys discharged. sick.wounded. pris
oners and detailed; our Capt and Lieutenants all
gone. and many of our non commissioned
officers that it seems but little like the same
company we once knew. and as many things
occur almost daily which I do not think
right. I have decided not to go back until
ordered to do so. You speak of the anxieties
you would feel were I with the company.
Calm those anxieties Mother. Those who are
in the ranks are in but little more danger
during the season of active operations. of long
hurried marches. than I am here,

Havens Letter: April 30 1864 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: April 30 1864
Havens Letter: April 30 1864

It indeed looks frightful when you at
home think of us being in battle or doing picket
yet I often think our fears exaggerate the danger
and greatly, too. One is I often think as near
to death in his quiet home at all times as upon
the battle fields. Death will overtake us when
he choses, be that while peacefully driving the plow,
or amid the storms of bullets shot. & shell or the
clash of sabres. It is the same fearful relentless
fate meet it when we may. And often times
I think one better prepared for it on the field
of battle when his comrades are falling thickly
around him. when he realizes that the next shot
may be the messenger of his death. than when amid
the peaceful scenes of home, where there is every
thing to draw his mind far away from the reality
of his situation. True if we fall on the field of battle
our resting place may never be seen or known by
our friends yet our memory will be as faithfully
cherished by those who love us as though we had
fallen among the quietness of home with friends
around us. The knowledge that we fell in the
discharge of the noblest of duties will soften the
pangs of parting.. If I die while a soldier I
hope. to die as a soldier should. facing the foe
my last thoughts of Mother. Home and Heaven..
I was somewhat surprised to receive Love’s
note the other evening. but shall answer it when
opportunity is afforded me. Let Father wonder what
you find to write. but you write all you wish to.
Your letters have not been half so frequent nor half
so long as I could wish. You know Mother. that I am
no great hand to express my love for any one in extrava
gant words. in fact I can never find the words to express
it. but I always strive by a rep prompt return of favors
to prove my love and gatitude to the donor. My letters
may seem cold. and dispassionate. but could you know
the emotions of the heart of him who writes. you would
not doubt. All I ask is full trust and confidence and
my every effort shall be put forth to merit the same
Affectionately Yours E R Havens.
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