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Havens Letter: May 10 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: May 10, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 22
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 22
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Va
Five Miles from Fredericksburg
May 10th 1864

To. Our Folks.
I presume that by this
time you are begginning to feel some
anxiety to hear from me. and I will
try to gratify your desires some this
morning. as now we have opportunities
to despatch a mail daily. which
has not been the case before for
nine days. You know that
the army of the Potomac moved
from its quarters on the 4th of this
month and that the greater
part of it crossed the Rapidan
that day. As for ourselves
we moved early that morn
ing and next morning crossed
the Rapidan at Ely’s Ford. and halted
that night at Chancellorsvhille
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Since then we have moved
around the country backwards and
forwards and now find ourselves
on the plank road leading
from Fredericksburg through
Chancellorsville to Stevensburg.
and, as I stated at the commen
cement of my letter are now
four miles from F. – and
eight or ten from Chancellorsville
The weather has been most
beautiful for such movements
and for this season of the year.
Never before has the “Army of the
Potomac” been known to move
without encountering a severe
storm within 36 hours after
leaving camp. but this time from
the 4th to the 10th there was nothing
but sunshine. It was very warm
all of the time and in a day
or two after the hard fighting
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

commenced every one prayed
for that rain which all so much
deplored in anticipation at
the start.
Of course I can give you no such
account of the fighting or any
part of it as one who participated
in the work. and all accounts
of our successes or repulses are
only reports. And I dare say
the papers. have already acquainted
you with much better and fuller
accounts than I can do. I have
heard a great deal of cannonading
and more musketry. but farther
than this I have had but little
experience in the hard fought
battles of the past ten days.
The first fighting that I heard
was on the 15th as we lay near
Chancellorsville a battle which
last four or five hours.
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Brig. Gen. Hays was killed during
with
this fight and this fact ^ that of our
forces driving the rebels from their
position is all I can say about it.
The [illegible in original] our cavalry engaged a force
of Stuarts men. and our brigade
making a charge met with some
loss. Although all of the other regiments
of the Brig. lost slightly I have learned
of no losses in our own. Gen Custer
had his horse killed and a ball
grazed his little finger.
We heard heavy fighting Saturday
the 7th in which it was said Burn
sides men were engaged and that
a part of the colored troops [illegible in original] were
engaged did nobly While we lay at
Chancellorsville that day one Brig of
colored troops came up belonging to
Burnsides men and passed on toward
Fredericksburg. They were fine looking
men. and were anxious to have
a “hand in” as soon.. as possible.
Their motto was “Take no Prisoners”
and they expressed a determination
to carry it out. and thus avenge
the cruelties of the capture of
Fort Pillow.
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

On Sunday occurred the heaviest
fighting we had yet seen and
the result could hardly be called
favorable. as the enemy at night
occupied about the same position
as in the morning. That night
we lay within forty rods of the
Michigan brigade of Burnsides and
all of us missed seeing some friends
as we did not camp until after
dark, and they moved at daylight
Monday morning. I saw one
belonging to the 2nd Inf. who told
me that Frank Farnsworth was
with his company.
Monday morning Gen Sedgwick
commanding the 6th A.C. was
killed while visiting the picket
lines. Gen Birney commanding
a division of the same corps was
killed at the same time, and
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

very near him. Both were shot
by a sharpshooter who was mounted
in a tree and who instal imme
diately afterwards was pierced by
a score of balls from our own men.
This is the account I have heard
of the manner of their death. and
if I it should not exactly agree
with the reports you may hear
you will know what allowances
to make. I tried to get the most
plausible and reasonable part
of the story I can to give you..
Monday morning the whole
Cavalry Corps started on a raid
and have not been heard from
since. It is reported that they
have affected a union with
Gen Butlers forces. and there is
a rumors that they will not
return here. but that we shall
go to them via transports from
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Acquia Creek on Belle Plains
to C the White House on the
Peninsula. Tuesday. Monday
over 2,700 prisoners passed our
encampment. Tuesday five or
six hundred more and yesterday
morning at one charge. a whole
division. said to number 7000.
with 30 pieces of artillery were taken
I saw two brigades of them. while
the rest took another route.
Three Gens were taken at
the same time. One of them
it is said, was a brother to the
famous C Cav. Gen Stuart.
Yesterday was the hardest
fought day of the campaign. the
cannonading and musketry com
mencing at 2. Oclock or earlier
in the morning and lasting
until long after midnight.
Today I have heard no cannon
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

or musketry and begin to hope
that the battle is over. I have
but one thought of the issue of
this hard fought battle, and that
is victory for our arms. Grant’s
name is a passport to success.
and such every soldier considers
it. and every one fights better than
even before. All feel so certain of
victory that the fear of a defeat is
not there to exaggerate every little
incident that occurs against us.
You may infer from what I have
written that both armies have occu
pied the positions first chosen. But
such is not the case. The fighting
commenced far on the right. close
to the banks of the Rapidan but
each day it went gradually to
the left. and since Sunday has
been near the to Spottsylvania C.H.
and has changed but little since.
The rebels are said to have used
their artillery but little although
they seem to have a goodly quan
tity. The country is hilly and
woody and will not admit of
cavalry operations and furnishes
but few positions where artillery
can be used to advantage..
A position was taken Monday
where it could be used. and it
was one constant roar from
morning till night.
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 9

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Tuesday our line was advanced
about 3 miles, where artillery
could not so well be used. and
that night it was withdrawn to
its old position and yesterday
the cannonading was more horrific
than ever. When we were at
Chancellorsville we camped
upon a portion of the field where
the hardest of the fighting was
done. Chancellorsville. I think.
was never anything more than
a large hotel at the junction
of a pike. a plank road and
a country road. which furnished
accommodation for travellers
from Fredericksburg to Gordonsville
Culpepper and other places.
It was a large and splendid
house. and was used by Gen Hooker
as his Hd Quarters at the time
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 10

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

of the fight. It was within easy
musket range of the rebel line of
battle. and seems to have been
a good mark for shells.
It is now burned down. a few
of the sides and ends of the walls
still standing. In one end I saw
five holes made by shells. and
two in which the shells still
remain. I visited the woods
in which the hardest fighting
occurred and there saw the
bones of many poor soldiers
who fell there. while the trees
were torn by balls and shells
many of which still strew the
ground.. The timber in this
part of Va. is small, shrubby oak
and pine. which is so thick that
one can not see 20 rods or
scarcely crowd through it.
It is the same whenever
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 11

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

men have been fighting
this time.
We have heard all sorts
of reports from every part of the
seat of war. We hear that Butler
has taken Petersburg; that Hooker
and Sigel have come down the
Shenandoah Valley and hold
Gordonsville. and that Bragg
and Beaurey and have been
thrashed soundly. This is
all good news. but we hardly
dare beleive it because it is so
good If this be all true. with
Grant here. Hooker and Sigel at
Gordonsville, Butler at Petersburg
and our cavalry between the
rear of Lees army and Rich
mond. The army of Lee is nearly
surrounded and being Kept
here a few days Richmond must
fall. and with it the Southern
Havens Letter: May 10 1864 , Page: 12

Havens Letter: May 10 1864
Havens Letter: May 10 1864

Confederacy. There is one thing
plainly visible. and that is.
that this army was never before
known to work so well before.
It is all united and all seem to be
determined to do their best
But I will close. The rain,
that commenced on Monday still
continues and we confidently
expect it to rain long enough
to make up for the long dry spell
we enjoyed. Fredericksburg is now
our base of supplies. which come down
the Potomac to Belle Plain. 8 miles
from there and thence across
the country in wagons Up to last
night we had no grain for three days
and are now living on Hd Bread.
Coffee. Sugar and fresh Beef. No pork
being furnished us and the beef
is too lean for good working cattle.
But then if Richmond may be
taken by the 4th of July. and we
get home in time to vote for Old
Abe. next November. I’ll live on hard
tack and coffee from this time on
and not try not to grumble.
Hoping this will find you all
enjoying as good health as it [illegible in original]
me I remain
Your devoted Son and Brother
Edwin R Havens
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