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Havens Letter: June 11 1864

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: June 11, 1864
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: Havens Letter: June 11 1864
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: Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 1

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

White House Landing Va
June 11th 1864

Dear Father
Your letter of May
29th came to hand the day before yester
day and thinking I could not employ
my time better than to answer it. I
have seated myself with that object
in view. Since writing to Nell a
few days since we have made a move
of about eleven miles and now lay
at White House Landing on the Pamun
key river twenty-nine miles from Rich
mond. The reason for this move was
that our cavalry having gone on another
raid we had only our transportation
mules and horses to supply with forage
and the men of the Q. M. and Com.
departments to supply with rations
it was thought useless to haul them
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 2

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

a dozen miles so we were ordered
down here where we have to draw
these things, only half a mile or
less. We have plenty of both hay
and grain now: but our commissary
supplies are rather limited. Until
yesterday we had not drawn a morsel
of pork since the 30th of May when
we drew one days ration and we have
not had any beef for five days. nothing
but hard bread and coffee. The country
furnishes nothing that can be got by
foraging. every thing has been taken
by the army which passed through
in advance of us.. The weather is
dry and very warm; we have not
had a rain storm that amounted
to anything for more than two weeks
and no one would be very sorry to
see a smart little shower. as the
air is constantly filled with clouds
of dust. as not an hour of the day
or night passes without troops or
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 3

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

wagon trains moving on the roads
or in the fields.
Many old regiments whose term
of service has expired are coming in
from the front on their way home
but new troops are being sent in
and to the front and by this means
the army is kept fully up. One Mass.
regt took a boat this morning for home
having come in from the front yester
day. The old members of the 2nd Mich
Inf. were sent home several days ago
and will no doubt soon be at home.
I went out to the front yesterday,
that is, out to that part of the line
held by the [7th?] Army Corps. but the
distance being so great I could stay
but a little while and consequently
saw but little. Everything was com
paratively quiet. the fighting men. were
lying in the breastworks idle or enjoy
ing themselves as they saw fit. while
the working parties were busy throwing
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 4

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

up new works or strengthening those
already built. I never saw such a
network of log heaps, dirt heaps, brush
heaps and holes and ditches as I saw
there yesterday. one was in danger
of breaking his neck and legs by falling
into, or over them.. enough to make
him have no desire to encounter the
dangers from shells and musket balls
One or two pieces of artillery were
belching out their spite every few min
utes at some point of the rebels works
and sharpshooters were blazing away
at every hand or head that showed
it self above the enemys earthworks
It is of no use for me to attempt
to tell you anything concerning
the works that I saw. there yesterday
sufficiently well
as. I am not ^ posted in the names
given to the different kinds of fortifi
cations to give you any information
about them. They run in all directions
and were of all shapes highths and depths
The outer line of forts and breastworks
were less than half a mile from those
of the Johnny’s and the rifle pits of the
skirmishers and shaprshooters were
much nearer. The 2nd Mich were in the
outer or skirmishers pits and although
my object in going was to see that regt
I concluded not to risk my head in going out.
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 5

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

Gen. Burnside now holds the
extreme right of our line of battle
which is near to Cold Harbor and
the old Gaines Mill battle ground
of [62?] A few nights since the
enemy opened a cross fire on a pass
of his lines and in less than half
an hour threw seventy-two shells into
a small six gun fort which covered less
than half an acre of ground. causing
a considerable of a skedaddle. Our
lines now are a hundred rods in
advance of that place. Although
I was in the works an hour and
in the outer line of breastworks half
as long and our guns were firing at
an average of five minutes, I did
not hear a reply from a rebel cannon
or a sharpshooter.
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 6

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

The report that Fort Darling was
ours reached us yesterday and has
been confirmed again today. I first
heard it yesterday while at Gen Willcox’s
Head Quarters. where I was told by a Michi
gan soldier that it was reported on the
lines by an officer on Gen. Brunside’s
staff.. A flying rumor was also started
that Richmond was also taken. but
of course no one beleives that. yet.
I have heard nothing from our cavalry
yet. It is generally beleived that they
have gone in the direction of the
Shenandoah Valley. designing to go
by way of Gordonsville and Charlottesville
then across the country and cut the
Virginia and East Tennessee R R at
Lynchburg and then turning again
towards the sea board join our army
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 7

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

in the south side of the James
river below Richmond. But two
divisions. the 1st and 2nd have gone
this time. the 3d being left to guard
our right flank from Cold Harbor
to New Castle Ferry on the Pamunkey..
It is rumored that White House Landing
will not long remain our base for
supplies. but that we shall soon re
move to some point on the James
and Harrison’s Landing is spoken of.
When this point was first chosen
a bran new locomotive was brought
here on a boat from Alexandria and
put upon the road and workers set
to repairing the road out as far as
Tunstalls station. But a few days
since they commenced to tear up the
track and now the rails have all
been taken up to this point.
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 8

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

The engine spoken of is called the
Lieut Gen. U.S Grant. and is a splen
did one. I can not now say whether
there ever was anything like a town
here or not. Everything was destroyed
by Gen McClellan. and nothing now
remains excepting a few old chimneys
and a few old negro huts.. The rail
road crosses the river at this point. and
thus stops all navigations to any point
above here. Very good sized vessels of
all kinds come up as far as here and
it looks much more like civilization
than I have seen any where in Va
Boats come in every day and night
loaded with soldiers and horses and
mules besides those ac used to bring
in forage and rations; and boats
go out every day loaded with soldiers
whose term is out. and also wounded
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 9

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

The engine spoken of is called the
Lieut Gen. U.S Grant. and is a splen
did one. I can not now say whether
there ever was anything like a town
here or not. Everything was destroyed
by Gen McClellan. and nothing now
remains excepting a few old chimneys
and a few old negro huts.. The rail
road crosses the river at this point. and
thus stops all navigations to any point
above here. Very good sized vessels of
all kinds come up as far as here and
it looks much more like civilization
than I have seen any where in Va
Boats come in every day and night
loaded with soldiers and horses and
mules besides those ac used to bring
in forage and rations; and boats
go out every day loaded with soldiers
whose term is out. and also wounded
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 10

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

feature as that which borders on
the Rappahannock below Fredericks
burg. The flats are nearly a mile
in width on each side and then
comes an abrupt rise of several
feet. The land on the flats is much
the best and not having been culti
vated for one or two years is now
covered with a heavy growth of clover.
furnishing splendid feed for horses,
mules and cattle.. The upland coun
try is much the same quality of that
of our oak [illegible in original] at home. There’s
a good deal of small scrubby oak
and pine timber a little hickory
and a very little beech. The
people in the country through
which we have passed since leaving
Fredericksburg have planted every
foot of ground they possibly could
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 11

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

to corn and we are in the midst
of the largest cornfields I ever saw.
It is now what we would call very
large for this season of year. if we
were at home. and looks as though,
if were it well tended it would
yield a good harvest. That they
have raised large crops in former
years we can testify as we have helped
more than one secesh to get rid of
his corn within the past month.
Quite a large amount of land
has been sowed to oats. which are
now fully in head. Cherries and
straw berries are nearly all gone
and peaches are almost half grown
Apple trees hang full of fruit. and
garden [illegible in original] can be had in any
quantity. Cabbages lettuce potatoes
and onions are nearly all fit for use
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 12

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

We received the news of ‘Old Abe’s’
renomination by the Baltimore Con
vention. I need not say that it gives
universal satisfaction. We have never
had any thought that any one else would
be the nominee and therefore there is
less jubilant rejoicing than there
would have been had the contest
been more exciting. The nomination
of Andy Johnson as Vice President
is pronounced by all to be just the
thing. and there is not the least
reason to doubt that they will be
the successful candidates. The news
of Fremont’s nominaton by the Cleve
land radical Convention, and his
resignation of his Commission reached
us at the same time. There is no need
of comment. He has at last “played
out” completely

Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 13

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

This warm. dry. weather and
the hard fare on which we are
compelled to live has its effects on
the health of the men and many
sick are now found in our hospi
tals.. I have felt somewhat unwell
myself for several days. and have
been as nearly sick as I have ever
been at any time excepting a few
days last August. But although
I have nothing to do. I will keep
riding or walking around for the
sake of exercise. I believe that I
could make myself an inmate
of the hospital in three days if
I would only give up. In such
weather as this I think a man
is more likely to keep his health
in the ranks than in my place
Havens Letter: June 11 1864, Page: 14

Havens Letter: June 11 1864
Havens Letter: June 11 1864

This is another reason why I think
I would be better off with the com
pany. But we will not argue that
question any longer. I shall not
go back to the company without
I am ordered. there. I used to
say that this war would never end
until I enlisted. so I enlisted and
after trying it a year I found that
it did’nt look much more favorable
than when I enlisted. and was’nt sorry
to quit. After they sent Grant here I
thought the show was a little better
and having seen him in the
field a little more than a month
I am so well satisfied that I
think he can accomplish it without
my health help.. Hoping this will
find all in good health. I remain
Your Affectionate Son E R H.
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