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Havens Letter: May 16 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: May 16, 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 16 1864 , Page: 1

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

Camp on Fredericksburg Highths Va
May 16th 1864
To. All.
Again I seat myself with
a view to write you a few lines; not
that I have much to chronicle. but be
cause I can find no more agreeable
manner in which to spend a few
leisure moments.
Since writing you last nothing
of any great moment has occurred.
The weather has been rainy and
disagreeable. the roads awful. and
times quiet. Not more than two
hours cannonading have I heard
since the 12th.. Our army still re
tains the same position or one
equally advantageous. while the enemy
are content to endeavor to check
mate such movements as may
be made.
Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 2

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

We hear nothing from the front.
Not even a rumor has been heard
for two days. We receive no mail and
no papers are brought out so that we
here within 8 or ten miles of the field
of strife hear no more of the events of
the day than you hundreds of miles
from here. It is now 12 days since
we have had any mail and it may
be thrice as many more ere we do.
Still I can not complain; although
I can assure you a letter from home
would be a most welcome guest. for
it has been now nearly three weeks
since I have received a word from
home. During the Maryland and
Pennsylvania campaign of last
summer we were three weeks without
mail. which we thought a long
time.
Our cavalry which left here a week
ago this morning is still out,

Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 3

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

and I have heard no report
that I beleived to be reliable from
them. One report stated that they
halted and remained sometime
at Beaver Dam Station. Another
that they had joined Butler and
were co-operating with him against
Richmond. and still another. says
that they have captured and destroyed
two large wagon trains of the rebels
and retaken all the prisoners they
had taken from us. numbering some
5000. All of those So far as I can learn
are mere reports and need authenti
cating before I can beleive them.
although any and all are probable
and possible enough. If our com
manders are as good as those taken
away from us. Old Stuarts cavalry
is nowhere
A large body of new recruits
and remounted cavalry have come
Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 4

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

come in today. Reinforcements
are coming in daily. consisting mostly
of new recruits and those who have
just come in from hospitals. Yet
there is nearly enough of them to fill
the places of those lost each day in
action. The prisoners that were taken
prior to the 12th have all been sent away
and the wounded are being sent off
as fast as possible. They are taken
in wagons. and ambulances to Belle
Plains on the Potomac. before Acquia
Creek and from there taken in
transports to Alexandria and Washington.
All of our supplies come by the same
route. The distance across the country
from Fredericksburgh to [Bill?] Plain is
twelve or fourteen miles and it takes
one day to make the trip each way in
the present state of the roads
The whole train belonging to the
army is camped around the city
and makes quite a sight. I can assure
you. Last year it was estimated that
if the whole train of the army of the Potomac
were to be placed in a line it would ex
tend over forty miles and it is much
larger now. Our train is parked
just out of the skirts of the town and
as far as there eye can reach wagons
can be seen either moving or quietly
parked in some pleasant camping
ground

Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 5

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

Our tent is pitched on a high
promontory with a nice millpond at
its foot. where the men are busy. fishing
The pond is full of Bull Heads
and Eels and they sometimes
catch quite large ones. Many are im
proving the time and oppportunity
for a good bath. and have high times
swimming. For my part .. since I
have been in Virginia I have never
found a stream large enough to
swim in and am somewhat afraid
I have forgotten the motions.
in
I have just come ^ from a visit
to Fredericksburgh. which I find
to be the largest place I have
visited in Virginia. It is as large
as Niles was. when I was there
last and much more beautiful
It is more like Kalamazoo. the
streets being nicely shaded
Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 6

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

by locust. elm. pine. and silver
maples. The business street running
paralell with the river is fully a
mile long and closely built of stone
and bricks. The upper and lower
parts of the town near the river
suffered terribly during he battles
here. Not a building in range of our
batteries escaped. and many of the
houses are completely knocked to
pieces by shot and shell. and
there are very few houses in town
that were not struck. The Court
House received several shots and the
churches each came in for their
share. The whole city is watered
by pipes leading from a large reser
voir near the west side of town.
There seems to be one or two
places where there is still a
little business done. But almost
every building public and
Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 7

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

private is now used as a hos
pital and filled with wounded
It is said that there are more
than [1000? 6000?] of our wounded in
the town. I do not know much
about the feeling of the citizens in
the town towards our people. but
am inclined to think it not so
bitter as in Culpepper. Warrenton
and other places. The ladies (they.
you know. are about the only citizens)
are much better looking. both for
beauty. and intelligence than I
have seen any where in Va. before.
Besides the churches there are
one or two public school buildings
which are something rare in Va.
There have been also Orphan
Asylums for both male and fe
male and one charity school.
Two banking houses were kept
tablishments
up. and many manufacturing es^
Havens Letter: May 16 1864 , Page: 8

Havens Letter: May 16 1864
Havens Letter: May 16 1864

On the whole I think the town nearly
equal to Niles in business facilities and
far ahead of it in beauty and culture.
of every kind except intellectual.
The R.R. from here to Gordonsville or
Hanover Junction. I don’t know which,
is all from up. here. the ties and rails
having been taken away to repair other
roads. Since I commenced writing I
have heard several cannon away towards
the right of our line and very far
distant. We hardly know what
to think of the shape matters now stand
in. or of what has been accomplished by
all the hard fighting of the past two
weeks. There is one thing quite certain
that our army is now nearer Richmond
that it has been before in 16 months and
that there is every prospect of our Army being
able to hold the position and strong hopes
that they may succeed in driving the enemy
still farther back. We have heard the
rumor repeated again and again that
Richmond is ours but can scarcely believe
it yet. The last report of Nigel stated that
he had arrived at Lynchburg. and
torn up several miles of the R. R there.
I really wish I could hear something
that I dare beleive. Everything yet has
been so good and favorable that I
dare not give full credence to it.
I am well as ever and trust
this will find all at home well
and hoping that I shall soon hear
tidings from home I remain
Yours Devotedly. R.E. Havens
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