Category Archives: 17th Pennsylvania Infantry

1861-64: James Cornell Biddle to Gertrude (Meredith) Biddle

These letters were written by James Cornell Biddle (1835-1898), the son of James Cornell Biddle (1795-1838) and Sarah Caldwell Keppele (1798-1877). Biddle wrote the letters to his cousin—and fiancee, then wife, Gertrude Gouverneur Meredith (1839-1905), the daughter of William Morris Meredith (1799-1873) and Catherine Keppele (1801-1853). William M. Meredith was a distinguished leader of the bar in Philadelphia and served as the Secretary of Treasury (1849-50) during the Zachary Taylor administration.

Col. James Cornell Biddle

James began his military service as a private in Co. A, 17th Pennsylvania Volunteers. He enlisted on 25 April 1861 and mustered out after three months on 2 August 1861. It was while serving in the 17th Pennsylvania that he wrote the following letter.

On November 1, 1861 he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in Co. C, 27th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Promoted to Captain and commander of Co. H on November 1, 1862. He was soon tabbed to served on the staff of Major General George Gordon Meade, performing that duty from May 1863 through the July 1863 Gettysburg Campaign, and through the end of the war. On November 5, 1863 he was discharged from the 27th Pennsylvania, and was promoted to Major and Aide-De-Camp, US Volunteers. He was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel, US Volunteers on August 1, 1864, for “faithful and meritorious services in the field” and Colonel, US Volunteers on April 9, 1865 for “gallant and meritorious services during the recent operations resulting the fall of Richmond and the surrender of the insurgent army under General R.E. Lee”. 

More of James C. Biddle’s letters may be found in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The bulk of the collection was purchased in 1963 with funds from the Gratz Fund.

See also—1862: James Cornell Biddle to Gertrude Gouverneur Meredith transcribed & published on Spared & Shared 3 in August 2013.

Letter 1

Addressed to Miss Gertrude G. Meredith, Hon. W. M. Meredith, Philadelphia

Poolesville [Maryland]
June 19th 1861

My Dearest Gertrude,

I have just received yours & Colby’s letters of the 14th inst. I was very anxious to hear from you as I had not heard anything since the 13th and felt quite relieved at the contents, hearing that you were so well. I think Colby’s idea with regard to our movements may be correct as we have fixed our tents & have everything arranged as if it was a permanent thing, but as I have told you, there is no telling from one minute to another where we may be.

Three of our companies have gone to the Potomac as a guard to two pieces of artillery & I should like very much to go myself. This is a horrid place for an encampment. We have but one tree on our ground & an army of pigs must have been here before us as the ground is all rooted up. If it should rain, it will be a regular mud puddle. A detachment of three [men] from each company have been detailed to pick off the secessionists from the other side of the river. I was told this morning they had driven a party away from a cannon & prevented them from taking it away.

I was again on guard last night at a spring preventing any person [from] poisoning it. It has generally been the rule that after being on guard all night, we had the privilege of going where we pleased, but this morning the Colonel had us all drawn up & told us we were the guard of the camp and none of us would be allowed to leave our muskets so that we are now all huddled round this one tree.

We received the Baltimore Sun of Monday which mentions the evacuation of Harper’s Ferry. They say a good many of them have gone to Edwards Ferry 5 miles from here and that now they have a force there of some 7 or 8,000, but it is not likely they will attempt to cross the river. Neither will we do so if such is the case. This is a horribly dull place & the sooner we get out of it, the better I shall like it.

I was very sorry to hear Cassie is still so miserable. I think a little change of air will be of service to her. My darling Diddy, this is the 19th & it is less than one month till my time is up. I shall be too much rejoiced for anything to be with you once more. I think this war is not going to last a very great while as I do not see how the secessionists can hold out against such odds.

Tell Colby [that] Col. [C. P.] Stone is in command of this division. 1 He is quite a young man—not over 35. General Scott thinks a great deal of him and I like him so far as I have seen him. Colby mentions he is going to see our Flags. I wish we had them with us. Col. Patterson told me he would just as soon not receive them till our return as they would get soiled but if we are to gain any honor, I would rather have it under the new colors. The band have been playing almost all the morning. It is a great addition to our camp.

I intend taking a nap, dear Gertrude, as soon as I finish these few lines to you. You know I always was a sleepy head and last night I only had three hours sleep. What would you think of my taking one of Aunt Latimer’s blankets and sleeping all night in the lawn in front of the house, wrapped up in it? I can assure you, that would be a luxury in comparison with this as there the grass is nice & soft, and here is is full of holes and very little grass. I can imagine Aunt Latimer’s consternation at such a thing & yet I was never better in my life.

I am sorry to hear Miss Margaret Price is a secessionist. I think Baltimore is as bad if not worse than any city in the Union. They all profess to be Unionists here, but I think it is principally owing to our presence. They say all kinds & sorts of stories were originated with regard to us before our arrival, but they have found out they were all untrue since we have been here.

I should like very much to meet Tom’s and your Uncle Sullie’s regiments. I was in hopes of seeing them but now I do not know how it will be. I hear the President is going to recommend the calling out of 500,000 troops in addition to those already enlisted.

I have just taken a peep at your photographs. I can read your feelings exactly. I know, dear Gertrude, you are very much attached to me and likewise that I am to you & I am sure we will lead a happy life together. I have always had the feeling we were fated for each other. The day of my return will be the happiest day of my life. I often think I have so much more to look forward to on my return than most of those who are away. There were a very few letters in the mail this morning & I have had dear knows how many inquiries as to how my letters were directed. I believe there is another mail expected into camp this afternoon. Do you know my own dear Gertrude, there has not been a mail that has yet arrived without bringing me a letter from the one I care most for, of all & everything in this world.

I have been afraid they would put in the papers all kinds and sorts of rumors with regard to our movements as I do not believe they know anything more of us than we know of what is taking place in the world. It is a joke of Abbie Bache’s the advertisements we have seen in the papers for recruits. “Able bodied, unmarried men wanted for the Army, fine chance for study, &c.” John Hewson & all are well. Osy [Oswald] Jackson inquired after you all & particularly Cassie. He requested me to send his regards to you all & referred to the pleasant breakfasts he had had with the gals previous to our departure.

The New Hampshire men have gone to the Potomac & report shooting some 5 or 6 secessionists on the other side of the river. I could see them quite plainly the day I was there. It is said there is a large force of Federal troops within one hour’s distance from here, but where they are I do not know. The New York 9th & the Washington Volunteers are three-quarter of a mile below us.

I heard some rumor of George Cadwalader’s 2 being suspended on account of some negligence, but I do not credit it. You see so many false reports in the papers at such times as these.

It is now only 10 o’clock and the day seems very long. We now get up between 3 and 4 and someone remarked in Philadelphia he could not sleep in the afternoon but here he could sleep all the time. It makes a great difference being in the open air all the time.

This last week has flown by very fast to me as we have had considerable to keep up the excitement. I now have finished all I have to say. Tell Ma she must not expect me to write as your letters will answer. I always let you know all the news. Give her my love as well as Katy, Grandma, your father, Cassie, Effie, and all with a great deal of love to yourself.

I am yours devotedly, forever, — J. C. B.

1 The 17th Pennsylvania Infantry was ordered to Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland, on 10 June, 1861, and was assigned to the Seventh Brigade, Third Division, Army of Pennsylvania, under the command of Colonel Charles Pomeroy Stone, 14th United States Infantry, by Special Orders No.96, Paragraph I, Headquarters, Department of Pennsylvania, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia, on 10 July, 1861. Col. Stone was reportedly the first volunteer to enter the Union Army, and during the war he served as a general officer, noted for his involvement at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in October 1861. Held responsible for the Union defeat, Stone was arrested and imprisoned for almost six months, mostly for political reasons. He never received a trial, and after his release he would not hold a significant command during the war again.

2 Gen. George Cadwalader was in command of Fort McHenry. See Lincoln and Taney’s great writ showdown.

Letter 2

Knoxville [Maryland]
July 5th 1861

My Dearest Gertrude,

John Williams and myself walked to this place a few minutes ago for the purpose of mailing the letters & in hopes of being able to telegraph but find there is no telegraph office nearer than the Point of Rocks. I have written a dispatch & given it to the postmaster to give to the conductor to leave us off at that place.

Everything is quiet here—not a shot was fired last night. The people in this neighborhood are all strong Union. They are delighted at seeing us here and say we are the very men they want.

I sent you a sample of the money they are circulating in Virginia. They have it as low as 10 cents but I was not able to get one for you. I saw one that one of our men had.

This is going to be a very warm day & I should like to remain where I am for the rest of the day but our movements are so uncertain we may go at any moment & after writing his, I must hurry back to camp. I do not know how many regiments are here. I was awake a little while last night. It was but a short time I can assure you as I was very tired & heard the tramp of wagons & was told this morning they were arriving all through the night.

I do not think the fight—if any—will last long as we will be too many for them. There are 2 Mississippi Regiments in Harpers Ferry. I was very sorry indeed to hear of the loss of the New York 9th & feel it worse as it was caused by the drunken folly of one of Co. D of our regiment. They are all Irish. We have some very low characters in our regiment.

Dearest Gertrude, you must keep up your spirits. I do not think our regiment will advance much beyond Harpers Ferry in two weeks. I expect to be on board a train from this place bound to Philadelphia. How happy I shall be to be with you again. The men who live here are telling the condition of things here. They say they are ruined. All their factories are stopped & they think will never come up again. We see the effects of secession wherever we go. They have been doing, it seems to me, all the damage possible, destroying bridges, grain and everything without any reason.

Oswald Jackson has just passed on Hewson’s horse. John says his [Oswald’s] aunt lives a short distance from here. I suppose he is going to pay her a visit. I am very glad to hear Cassie is improving. I hope the change of air will be of service to her. One man says the secessionists have been blowing [bragging] that one of their men was equal to 5 Northern men, but they think it will take 4 men of our regiment to catch them & 1 to shoot them, yhey will run away so fast.

There is a mail here daily. You will receive this tomorrow. Yesterday was a glorious day to us. The people all were rejoiced to see us & I saw what would convince me if anything would of the gloriousness of our cause.

With all the love I have, I am your own devoted Jim for ever.

Give my love to Ma, Katy, your Father, Grandma and all.

Letter 3

Headquarters 5th Corps
April 4th 1863

My own darling Gertrude,

The candles are flickering so with the wind it is almost impossible to write, but I intend making out as well as I can as I would not for anything miss sending you a daily letter. I have been resting myself all day.

There was to have been a review of all the cavalry but it was postponed till tomorrow on account of the President who I hear is coming down tonight to spend Sunday. I do not think it is right to have anything of the kind on Sunday and I feel very sorry to hear it is to take place. I think nothing should be done in that day that can be avoided. I do not think we can be truly successful unless we place our trust in God as a nation, and I feel that any disregard of that day has a very bad effect on the army. I am sure the life is demoralizing enough and everything should be done to counteract the bad effects. I like to remain quiet and feel it is Sunday. It always to me is the pleasantest day of the whole week. I think it is terrible to see how little regard is paid to religion. I am sorry that I am not myself better. I know how far I am from being what I should be, & I wish I was a great deal better. I know what true happiness religion brings with it and it seems to me so strange it should be so generally disregarded. Things pertaining to this world seem to be the uppermost thoughts of mankind, ambitious to occupy a high place here on earth with no regard to the future. Why do not the same feelings operate to make humanity better?

I received your nice letter this afternoon. They come now regularly to me every day and I can assure you I look forward to their arrival with a great deal of pleasure.

I am very sorry to hear gold has gone up again. I do not think we can expect much now from either Grant or Banks in the quarter in which they are operating. I wish they would send the whole force into Tennessee and North Carolina. It seems to me we can accomplish more in that way than any other. I do not like dividing our forces so much. We must trust for the best and we cannot expect to have anything as we should like. We have a tremendous rebellion to contend against. We have to fight them now in their strong positions and it must take time to produce any telling results.

Everyone now is looking to this army. I presume before long its movements will be made known. The roads are now in a passable condition & before many weeks I presume it will be on the move.

I have not as yet read McClellan’s report. Gen. [Andrew A.] Humphreys does not like his throwing the blame upon him, or rather attributing his failure to advance to Humphreys division not being on the ground till late the day after. He says he arrived early in the morning and was in position in the rear of Porter by 8 o’clock a.m. the day after the battle with 6,000 men.

I am very well, my own darling wife. Take good care of yourself for my sake. You are ever present in my mind and I know there is a happy future in store for us. Capt, Mason has just come in my tent to tell me my map and all the books r. Garland sent me have ben burnt up. They accidentally caught fire when no one was present. Thank Mr. G for me for sending. Give my love to all & with heaps to you. Believe me forever your devoted husband.

Letter 4

Headquarters, 5th Corps
April 5th 1863

My own darling wife,

The roads had just become passable and yesterday John was remarking he did not see why the army did not move. But today the ground is covered with snow. It will take at least a week before they are in as good condition again. I am of the opinion we will not do anything till after the middle of the month. The move, when it is made is to be a rapid one and would be entirely frustrated if we should encounter such a storm as this. I think we shall go down the [Rappahannock] river, make a rapid march, and try and get to Richmond in advance of the army of Lee. I hope this time we shall be successful. By the middle of May, this army will be diminished considerably by the expiration of the enlistment of the two years men, also the nine months conscripts. Whatever is to be done must take place before that time. Our Corps will lose just one half of its number.

Today is Sunday. I have been reading my prayer book and amusing myself talking to different members of the staff. They are mostly McClellanites and in consequence I never mention his name. It is not worth while getting into disputes.

The President passed by this morning on a special train. He has gone to Gen. Hooker’s Headquarters. The review will not come off and I am very glad of it as I must confess I did not approve of it.

I am writing on my bed with your desk on my lap. I have no rest for my arm and consequently it is not possible for me to write nicely.

I am expecting a letter shortly from you. The 1 o’clock train left before the arrival of the boat. It is now just 4 o’clock—the time the train is due. We dine at 5 o’clock. I generally take a lunch at about 12. I hear the whistle of the engine now. I wonder if any of my letters were on the train that broke down between Washington & Philadelphia the other day. I hope is any should have been they were not destroyed.

John is very well and seems in much better spirits although I think he still would like very much to resign. I must confess I would like very much myself to be quietly living in the peaceful paths of life, but as this is impossible, I make myself contented.

[Our new Corps commander,] Gen. Meade I think a very good officer. Everyone speaks highly of him and he certainly is a gentleman which I am sorry to say a great many of our officers are not. A portion of Gen. Hooker’s staff were here last evening and it almost made me sick. They were half tight and a more rowdy looking set I never met. “Birds of a feather flock together.” I will not say more.

Let me know my own dear little wife all about yourself. I wish you were more regular. I think it is so important for one’s health. When you write, tell me all about yourself & I want you to be as bright as possible. When do you intend to get your spring clothes? I have one month’s pay now due me and by the end of this month hope to be able to send some more money to you. My expenses will not be at all heavy and I can save at least one half. I do not want you. to economize but get whatever you may want.

There is no news. I am very well & you need not be at all uneasy about me. Give my love to all, and with a heart overflowing with love for yourself, I am forever your devoted husband.

Letter 5

Headquarters 5th Corps
April 12th 1863

My own dear little wife,

I received your letter of the 9th yesterday. I am very glad to hear such good accounts of all at home. It is a great consolation when one is away as I am to have no cause of anxiety. I am perfectly contented and never in my life felt better in every respect. I would like very much to get a peep at you in your spring things but I hardly expect to be so fortunate. I want you to get whatever you may want. I have $80 in my purse and Capt. Mason will bring me down $160 more, leaving me a sufficient sum after paying for my horse. If I find one, I conclude to buy. It is very strange if you want to buy a horse, it is a difficult thing to get one you like, and if you want to sell, you find the same difficulty in finding anyone who wants to buy. I always calculate upon leaving one half in every horse I purchase and why I should be so unfortunate, I cannot tell. I am certain my black horse will never bring $200, the price I paid for him. Some horse jockey could buy him for about $100 & then sell him for the price I gave. I require a strong, sound horse, and as yet I have not seen any that I at all like.

There is a Swiss General visiting our army and he is coming here at 12 o’clock to ride through the camps to take a look at things in general. I am sorry for it. I am so heartily sick of anything like reviews. Of course the General [Meade] will ride with him.

It is going to be a very warm day, It is now in my tent quite close. I feel very anxious to hear of the result from Charleston. The rebels have been quite jubilant, cheering most vociferously. They called across the river to our pickets that they hoped we were satisfied with the whipping we got at Charleston. I still hope for the best. I know it is a tremendous undertaking but then we have made vast preparations and I trust they may prove successful. It will be a heavy blow morally to the rebels, and I do not believe there is anything that can damage them as much, It will tell with such effect all through the South. They hate Charleston almost as much as we do, and a great many of them would like to see it leveled to the ground.

Nothing is said as yet about moving. I do not understand the cause of the delay. It certainly is very strange, There are various surmises made as to where we will go when we leave here. The rebels are in strong force and position directly opposite to us.

John is well and seems contented in his present position. The only thing he is afraid of is being ordered to some strange general but I do not think they will do so. He has not had a great deal to do and is acting more in the capacity of Aide.

I hear nothing of the sword presentation to General Meade. Ma wrote to me it was to take place at the camp of the reserves near Alexandria. Gen. Meade himself knows nothing definite. I believe none of the new Major Generals have been allowed the Aides given them by law. Gen. Meade spoke to the President about it when he was down here. The President was very noncommittal. He said if the law gave them to them, he thought they should have them and promised to see about it on his return to Washington. I have no news, my dear little wife, only I know how much I love you and that I am always looking forward to my return to a long & endless life of happiness with as much certainty as anyone may possess. I am sure of our love for each other and I know I care for nothing without you. I must close this. Give my love to all & with a great deal to yourself.

I am forever your own devoted husband.

Letter 6

Headquarters 5th Corps
April 16th 1863

My own dear little wife,

James Cornell Biddle

We had a very heavy rain last night which will put us back a day or so in the contemplated movement, I am very glad we did not have the storm after we had taken down our tents. It is now about the change of the moon, and I am in strong hopes this has been the clear up rain for in all conscience, we have certainly had enough to last for some time.

I hear some 20,000 men left Washington the night before last to reinforce Gen. Peck [at Suffolk]. They say the rebels are concentrating troops in that direction to strike against him. I do not understand their movements but would not be at all surprised if they intend to fall back upon Richmond. From here, it certainly looks so, when we hear of such large forces on the other side of that place. We have not heard anything from our cavalry. We have to await the arrival of the Chronicle to know of anything even in our own army. We have heard distant firing but do not know what was the cause of it. There is a report that they have captured a Battery. I am in great expectations the rebel cavalry force has been very much diminished in consequence of the inability of their getting forage. It now numbers, so report goes, only 4,000 men. We sent out from here 12,000 & I presume General Stahl has left Washington with 4,000 more. They certainly ought to accomplish something. Infantry cannot follow them and they ought to have everything their own way.

The news from Charleston is not encouraging but it is as much as I expected. I had not much hope of the iron clads being able to accomplish anything against strongly casemates land batteries.

Gen. Meade said this morning he knew nothing of the intended movements. We are all wondering what the eight days supplies are for. I do not think we can carry that much. The men are very improvident and I know from experience it is difficult to get them to carry 3 days rations.

I received your letter yesterday of the 13th. They come regularly to me every day and I look forward to them arrival with a great deal of pleasure.

With regard to my views, they all know I am not an admirer of McClellan and there is very little ever said of him. I do not think it worth while to stir up controversies with those who have been associated with him. Webb was on his staff. I believe he has a good opinion of him but I have heard him say but little. Locke has been very civil to me. I recollect hearing something of the testimony he gave on the Porter & McDowell court martials but I never read them myself.

I am very well, my dear wife. I never felt better in my life. The sedentary life on the board was not compatible with my disposition. I never could stand sitting over a table all day writing and consequently gave me those unpleasant feelings after my meals. But since I have been here, I have not been troubled with them. I wonder when the board or the present officers will be relieved. I should think they must be getting tired of it.

I must now draw this to a close, my dear little wife, or else I will be too late for the mail. I feel like you, I never like to stop my letters but wish I only could write a great deal more and make them more interesting. Give my love to all & with a great deal to yourself, believe me for ever your devoted husband.

Letter 7

Headquarters 5th Corps
April 17, 1863

My own dear little wife,

We are still uncertain of our movements. The rain has disturbed all the plans for the present. It is still threatening and before a great while, I think it is going to pour. I am very sorry for it as I am afraid the tail of our cavalry may be impeded in consequence. I have not the least idea where the cavalry have gone to but the Rappahannock has risen by the recent rains and it may have prevented their crossing, as I presume they intended to do at some point. I heard of them at Rappahannock Station. There is a very good ford there but I have not heard of their crossing. It is the largest force of cavalry we have ever had together and they ought to accomplish what they design to do.

General Peck is threatened at Suffolk. I hope with the force we sent from Washington we may have good news from him.

I received yesterday the pamphlets sent to me by Mr. Garland. Thank him and tell him I have already distributed a number. I do not think the first were intentionally burnt as the fire was in John Mason’s tent and no one would have done anything of the kind intentionally. It came very near burning up the tent and the wonder was it did not do it. The legs of the table were burnt ad everything that was on it, books, gloves, &c.

I was over at Gen. Hooker’s Headquarters yesterday. Charley Cadwalader was in Washington. Jim Starr told me he was going on his Uncle George’s staff as Major. If so, George must be going to have a Corps, and if so, where is the vacancy? Starr was very anxious to get a staff appointment. He would not though do so unless he could get another commission as he did not think it right for so many officers to be taken away from Rush. Starr spoke very well of Rush although he does not fancy him, yet he says Rush has acted in everything as he thought best for the good of his regiment. He said John was too hasty in resigning insinuating that he was disgusted without any reason and as we know John has been out of sorts in every position he has occupied, he was disgusted with the law also. This is entirely for yourself and I now am sorry I have written it. I do hate to say abusive things of persons. It is a very bad habit to get into but I only mean by the above remarks to say John’s disposition is a hard one to please. We know very well the moody ways he sometimes would get into. He sees though better satisfied now for he has made up his mind it will not do for him to resign, but I think he will do so after the next fight.

The Chronicle arrives everyday by one o’clock. There has been no news for a long time and I now think we must wait till after this army gets in motion & then I think there will be startling doings. There is only one thing I regret, the time of so many men is so near expiring. I am afraid they will not fight so well as they otherwise might. I wish the draft would get in operation. We need more men. The rebels have an equal number & occupy their chosen positions, which are now strongly fortified. We ought to make up for these disadvantages by numbers.

I am in hopes Foster will get out of his scrape [in North Carolina]. I am inclined to think he is all right as the rebels have not said anything. The pickets notwithstanding talking across the river is prohibited, always taunt each other when there is any news good to either side. I hear the rebel pickets called over to ours, “So you’re trying a raid, are you?” They know everything we do. They are much better informed of what is going on than we are.

I received your letter yesterday of the 14th. It is so comforting to get such cheerful letters. I am very well and manage to pass my time very pleasantly. I have you constantly on my mind & would give a good deal to see you if for only a short time. I often think of how happy I was in Washington. I always looked forward with so much pleasure when my duties were over to my return to my darling little wife. But for the present, we must make up our minds to be separated and trust in God for the future. Have you heard or seen anything of Markoe Bache? I expect he is visiting on my head his failure to get his appointment. I see Hewson every now and then. He is looking very well and seems to like the life as much as one can be supposed to. He always seems cheerful and contented. I must now say goodbye. I like to write you nice long letters, my dear life wife, and I feel I cannot put half I want to express on paper. You know how much I love you & I can tell you my affection will never grow less. Give my love to all & with a great deal to yourself.

I am forever your devoted husband.

Gen. Meade was told by Gen. Hooker he could not let him leave the army now to go to to the sword presentation.

Letter 8

Headquarters 5th Corps
April 18th 1863

My own dear little wife,

The mail arrived yesterday but brought no letter for me. After dinner I received the second one you wrote to me on the 30th of March. I had gone over to Gen. Hooker’s Headquarters & they kept it there all this time. It partly made up for my disappointment at not hearing in the morning. My own dear little wife, I know it was not your fault but entirely owing to the mail. I will. today receive two in compensation.

I write to Gen. Ricketts yesterday. I wonder when the present Board will be dissolved and what command your Uncle Sully will have. I see every now and then new lists published in the Chronicle but they are gradually getting smaller, This is a lovely spring day and I am in hopes it may last for some time. I heard yesterday Gen. Stoneman had sent word back he was stopped owing to the impossibility of getting his artillery forward. I do trust they may accomplish some good, but what they are after I have no idea of. I hope they may destroy some of the bridges between here and Richmond. They have been delayed so much I am afraid the rebels are cognizant of their plans.

I presume now in a day or so we shall be off. I can see nothing to delay us any longer. The sooner we go, the better as the time of enlistment of some of the troops is nearly up. I have great faith in this army and if we are successful, it will pretty nigh break down the Confederacy. I read Davis’s address to his soldiers. There is no doubt they are badly off for supplies & another year—if the war lasts so long—must starve them into obedience. But I hope the triumph of our armies will sooner bring them to their senses.

There is no news of any kind. I presume we shall hear something from Suffolk or Williamsburg. Foster, I think, is safe. If they had him in a box we would have heard of it through rebel sources. I am glad Grantees troops are moving up the Mississippi. I do not believe in attempting Vicksburg again. The best thing to do is to send two or three son clads to blockade the river and take away the land force & send them into Tennessee.

How is your father? I hope he is frisking up. Also that Cassie has gotten over her indisposition—the two invalids.

Take good care of yourself, my own dear little wife. You are my every thought. I want you to get whatever you want. I now have nearly two months pay due me & $80 in my pocket so you see I am flush.

Frank Wistar was here the day before yesterday. I think Gen. Meade has applied for him as commissary of musters. We all get along together on the staff very nicely. It is a great thing to be associated with gentlemen. I am very well contented with my position. Gen. Meade has just told Gen. Griffin he intended reviewing Syke’s Division at 2 o’clock today. Alas for reviews. I though they were over. It seems to me everyone is review mad. I am sick of them having had so much of them since I’ve been here.

I must say goodbye my dear wife. Know how much I love you, my dear girl. You are my all and I look forward to a happy future. Give my love to all & with a great deal to yourself I am forever your devoted husband.

Letter 9

Headquarters 5th Corps
Stoneman’s Station, Virginia
May 22, 1863

My own dear little wife,

I received your letter of the 19th yesterday. I am very much afraid I have created expectations in your mind which I did not intend to give. I have no idea of being able to leave here now. General Meade will only give leaves of absence upon urgent grounds and then only for five days. I have the satisfaction though of knowing if there is any reason for my leaving, I can get off without any difficulty. There is no telling what may happen. Gen. Meade may be ordered to pay the President a visit & if he takes me with him, I will telegraph for you. I would give anything to be with you, my own darling little wife, and I have been thinking and envying John ever since he took his departure. I do not believe there is anyone in the army who has more reason to wish for home than myself and I trust this war may soon be ended but as long as it lasts, I feel it a duty to bear a part of the hardships, and when it is over, I will be as happy as the day is long with my own sweet Gertrude.

Jay, Mason & Dr. Russell are in my tent. They wonder how I am able to write so much. They say I must write the same letter every day. Well, my dear Gertrude, in that they are pretty nigh correct, but I know what a pleasure my letters are to you and that no apologies are necessary.

Yesterday morning I took a swim in Potomac Creek and in the afternoon went to the presentation of a horse, saddle & bridle, spurs, gloves, sword and overcoat too Gen. Barnes. I met there some 5 or 6 members of the Washington Grays who now are with the Corn Exchange Regiment. Gen. Meade has one of his nephews staying here—Mr. Meade of the Navy. He leaves this morning. He had a very narrow escape yesterday, He got one of Gen. Meade’s horses and sailor-like, depended upon the reins instead of upon his legs to hold himself in the saddle, the consequence of which was the horse reared and fell over backwards upon him. I was a good deal startled and felt afraid he was severely hurt, but he fortunately got off with only a few bruises.

I am going over to see George Ingham sometime today. Gen. Sykes has been quite sick and I believe has applied for a leave of absence in which case I presume George will get off too. Both our Division Commanders are sick. Griffin is in Washington and has just had his sick leave extended fifteen days.

Of course you have seen John and have received from him a full account of me as to how well I am. I make up my mind to be satisfied although I do miss you dreadfully. The rebels seem to be getting very tired of the war. They told our officers left at Chancellorsville they wished they could see an honorable way out of it for them and they would be satisfied.

There is no news of any kind and no sign of a move. It is impossible for us to do anything here till we are reinforced. I am in hopes though that this base will be abandoned. I see by Southern papers we are fortifying West Point [Va.]. What can be the meaning of this? I do think it a great mistake the way we are scattering our forces and have never as yet been able to have a combined movement. I believe though with all the blunders that have been committed, we are gaining every day and the rebellion is sinking. There is no doubt of the end. It has gone so far there can be no compromise and we must conquer them or they us. And of the result, I have no doubt whatever.

I we have Vicksburg, we hold the Mississippi and you recollect John Cadwalader predicted that this would be the work of ten years. It is hard for us to brook reverses. But in the end, all will be right and I trust we may be a purer, better people that ever before.

My darling Liddy, I must now close this in time for the mail. Your letter arrive regularly every day about 1 o’clock and I am always wishing for that hour to het my letter. Give my love to a, Kate, Elizabeth, your father and all & wish a great deal of love to yourself.

I am ever your devoted husband.

Col. [Charles Mallet] Prevost of the 118th said to me he had heard of me through Philadelphia. His wife wrote to him Major Biddle had expressed some opinion with regard to Hooker. He said it was nothing bad but he could not recollect what it was. How could she have heard this? Dear Gertrude, do not think I think for a moment you would say anything to anyone. I would mind for I do not. I only not knowing her wondered how she had heard it.

Letter 10

Headquarters 5th Corps
Stoneman’s Station, Virginia
May 23rd, 1863

My own dear little wife,

I am out of paper and as I sent word by John to ask you to send me some, I borrowed this from Jay telling him I would be glad to extend the compliment to him when mine arrived. I have been thinking of John’s visit and envying him the happy time he was having. He will be obliged to leave Philadelphia this evening. I did my best to have his time extended one day, but it was to no avail.

There are no signs of an intended movement and one feels he might as well be home as here. I think of you all the time my own darling little Diddy, and know what a treasure I possess. I would give anything to see you but I think I would at any rate rather wait till I could get more than five days leave and then I do not like to ask any favors.

The Richmond papers of yesterday announce the falling back of Pemberton after a fight of nine hours duration. This coming from the rebels is very good news. It is later than anything we could possibly have received and eases our mind with regard to the retreat of our forces from Jackson, Mississippi. They may have left there & gone in the direction of Vicksburg which probably was the case. It is a very severe blow to the Southern Confederacy and it will tell with wonderful effect upon the end of this rebellion. If we had only been successful here as we should have been, all would have been right, and I think the rebellion would have been ended. It was reported that Lee was reinforced but that has since been proven to be incorrect. Longstreet got as far as Hanover Junction and after our retreat was ordered back by Lee. We ought to have gained a great victory and we failed for the want of a general. This feeling is universal in the army.

Meade stands—in the opinion of those capable of judging—as the head of all the generals in our army. I have a very high opinion of him. He is as superior to Hooker as anything can be, but he has no political influence and therefore stands no chance. He is active, energetic, and a thorough soldier. Birney, Sickles, and men of that class are the men who go up in the scale because they are politicians. Sickles was made the hero of the late fight, and at first I thought he deserved credit for what he had done. But I have since changed my mind. You recollect my writing and at the time thinking we were firing into the rebel train preceding the retreat of the rebels. This was the report and although I thought it singular they should retreat taking their wagons in range of our guns, I was assured it was so and came to the conclusion it was necessity which compelled them. At this time Sickles was ordered out to capture this wagon train and not knowing where he was going, or what he had to encounter, found he was cut off between Lee and Jackson from the rest of our army and was obliged to fight to get back within our lines. This train being Jackson’s ordnance train going around to our right for Jackson’s benefit. Such is war and Sickles is really spoken of as Commander in Chief. Alas! Alas! Cannot we get men of moral character in high places.

There are a great many stories of goings on at Sickles’ Headquarters. Hooker, Sickles, Mrs. Farnham, Mrs. Salm-Salm. 1 Mrs. Farnham is the wife of a Col. Farnham who was the Captain of the slaver Wanderer who you recollect was captured and taken to Savannah.

I am very well, my darling girl, and I am glad to have such a good account of all at home. I am glad Cassie intends paying a visit to Mrs. Cadwalader. I have no doubt she will enjoy herself very much. Give my love to Ma, Kat, Elizabeth, your father & all, & with a great deal of love to yourself, I am forever your loving husband.

1 Mrs. Salm-Salm was the former Agnes Leclerc Joy. She met elix Constantin Alexander Johann Nepomuk, the formerly reigning Prince of Salm-Salm, at a reception given by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861. In August 1862, he and Agnes would enter a morganatic marriage (also known as a left-handed marriage, a marriage between two people of unequal social rank where royal titles and privileges would not be extended to the spouse). Agnes accompanied Felix on the battlefield. He took command of the 8th New York during the winter.

Letter 11

Headquarters Army of the Potomac
July 31st 1863

My own darling little wife,

All is quiet and I do not know what is to be the next move of the Army of the Potomac, but I would like very much of we are to remain idle here, to be able to run on and pay you a visit. I long to see you my own darling wife. You are ever in my mind and it is pretty hard to be separated from you for so long a time. Leaves of absence are not granted except in case of sickness. I was in hopes if we were to remain here any length of time they would be granted again, but then they do not amount to much as they are for so short a time.

Rosegarten was here last night. He tells me Zandy Biddle has received his commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, but that he is very anxious to have his resignation accepted. He is not very strong and then Thomas A wants him at home to assist him in taking care of their business.

Colly Hall’s regiment is in the 3rd Corps commanded by General French. Colly is looking remarkably well.

It is almost impossible for me to write. There are at least a dozen persons talking in and around my tent. It is never empty. It is the first tent and there is almost always some person here.

General Meade said last night in answer to the question as to whether the reported demoralization in the rebel army was true or not, that we now had almost everyday deserters from states from which we never had deserters before. For instance, Mississippians came in and gave themselves up saying they understood their state was overrun by Yankees and that it was no use fighting any longer. I only wish they would all act in the same way as I am sure they must all have the same opinion. Sergeant Meade is still here. He seems to enjoy himself very much. I only wish I could change places with him. It seems strange to me anyone remaining here voluntarily. My watch is very dirty and wants cleaning. You might send it down to me by the first good opportunity.

This is going to be a very warm day but there is a nice breeze. Warrenton is not at all a warm, place to pass the summer. I sent to Washington this morning for my pay account for July. It amounts to $161.36. I told our Express Agent to send you a cheque for $100 and the balance of $61.36 will pay all my expenses up to the 1st of September. I also sent by the same for the amount due me for my horse. I did not send this to you as it will need my endorsement first. I will then send it to your order. I do not intend to send any more money by mail that can be appropriated.

My sword arrived safely yesterday, I am very much obliged to you for it. The one Frank gave me was covered with shark skin and at the time I lost it was pretty nigh worn out. The belt was broken all to pieces and I had it fastened to my saddle.

I see your Uncle Sully has taken Lt. Col. [William H.] Ludlow’s place [as Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners]. I wonder how he likes his new position. I should not expect to hear of his getting into hot water with Col. [Robert] Ould, rebel commissioner. It amuses me to hear of the rebel government talking of Yankee atrocities. In every instance they have been the perpetrators and they only want the chance for a plea to commit such acts.

Col. Shaw I believe they buried in a trench [at Fort Wagner] and placed four negroes over it. I wish we had negroes entirely at the siege of Charleston. I trust they may have no more of the outrageous scenes that occurred in New York whilst enforcing the draft. And that if any attempt is made to resist, it will be at once put down with severe punishment.

I must now close my dear girl to have this in time for the mail. Goodbye my darling girl. I long to see you. My heart breaks for yours and how happy I shall be when I am at home again, never to be separated from you. I do not like this kind of life at all, and only wish I could bring it to an end, but at the same time I do not worry myself and try to make myself as comfortable as possible. Give my love to all & with heaps of love to yourself, I am forever your own devoted husband.

Letter 12

Meade’s Headquarters was located in the William Douglas Wallach residence outside Culpeper, Virginia, in September/October 1863.

Headquarters Army of the Potomac
Culpeper, [Virginia]
September 26, 1863

My own darling wife,

I feel very anxious to know the true state of affairs in Tennessee. I am in hopes Rosecrans will be able to hold out till reinforcements arrive. I should think Grant ought to be able to send him troops from his army. It is a long and round about way to send them from here, and then again I am afraid we cannot get them there in time. I do not think our accounts are so bad. Bragg from his own dispatches lost very heavily in officers and men and all they have gained so far amounts to but little. If they are defeated, it will have a very depressing effect upon the rebellion. The address of Bragg and his general to the rebel army shows they intend to risk everything for the hope of success.

I wonder what Burnside is about? It seems strange to me his running after Jones at such a time. I do not understand his position at all. Hooker is to have the command of the 11th and 12th Corps. A week’s time will divulge their destination. It may be Charleston or North Carolina & maybe Tennessee. My idea is they are going to North Carolina. I would rather see them go there than any other place. I am sorry Hooker has been placed in command. I was in hopes he would not be given another important command. He is a man of such notoriously bad character and I think after Chancellorsville, it is very strange giving him a separate command.

I trust before very long we may see some signs of peace. If we are only successful in Tennessee, the war will be nearly over. Lee’s army is very much reduced, but he now occupies a very strong position and I think the only reason for our not advancing is the impracticality of gaining anything important on this line. We have still two months for campaigning and I trust by that time the war will be ended. I want so much to have you with me, my own dear wife. You are everything in this world to me and I know how happy we shall always be. I hope Tom may be able to find something to do, I would rather he should get a more permanent position than Paymaster but that is better than doing nothing.

The have stopped the McClellan testimonial. The President, I believe, spoke to General Meade about it when he was in Washington. Gen. Meade told him he had himself received a sword a short time ago and it would not look well for him to issue an order prohibiting the presenting of one to Gen. McClellan. [Said] that he had subscribed to it himself and no one surely could think he had done so for political purposes. But he would speak to the officers who were getting it up, which he did and the thing has been stopped. I am of the opinion it would have been much better not to have noticed it—although I disapproved of it and saw the object of it.

Mosby this morning early made a raid on the bridge at Bull Run and burnt it. It was rebuilt in a few hours. He is well and about again.

I must close this till morning. How happy I shall be when I have my own darling wife with me never to be separated. I drew my pay today for September. It amounted to $159.61. I will keep it to defray the expenses of next months mess. Good night my own dear wife.

September 27th 1863. My own darling wife, this cold spell continues. I do not think it will last a very great while longer. I manage to make out very comfortably with the clothing I now have, and I hope this winter I may be so place I will not need to get anymore. All is quiet. No signs of a movement. I am very anxious to know what we are to do. I do not believe we are to do anything but hold the rebel army in front of us—or maybe we may assist with a cooperating force in drawing Lee south of North Carolina.

I believe Pickett’s Division of Longstreet’s Corps composed of Virginians refused to go to Tennessee and the rebel government were obliged to send troops on the peninsula, Wise’s Brigade & others in their place. They sent the poorest portion of Lee’s army to Tennessee and I do not believe Bragg’s reinforcements from here amounted to more than 10 to 15,000 men. I trust we may soon have a good report from Rosecrans. If he is only successful, I can then think it likely I can soon have you with me. It is now four months since I spent those few days with you & it seems to me to be a century. I shall be too contented for anything when I am once more at home. This is a very hard life to lead—no comforts of any kind. I am very glad on your account Cassie, Lillie, and the children & Effie are at home. This cold weather there is no advantage being in the country.

Jim Starr asked me yesterday if it was true Mollie Meredith was engaged to [ ] Robinson. He said he had heard she was when he was in Philadelphia. He said he hoped not as he thought Robinson such a poor concern.

I must say goodbye my own darling wife. Give my love to Ma, Katy, your father, and all, and with a heart overflowing with love for yourself, I am as ever your devoted husband.

Letter 13

Headquarters Army of the Potomac
Culpeper [Virginia]
October 3rd 1863

My own darling wife,

This morning General Meade had his photograph taken with his staff. I will send you a copy when they are finished. It will be in about a week. Afterwards Gen. Meade, Gen. Humphreys, Gen. French, Gen. Warren, Gen. Sykes, and Gen. Hunt had their taken in a group, and also Gen. Humpreys with his personal staff. It was taken by the same person who took the one I sent you. I have not received any letter today. The mail has not yet arrived owing to the washing away of a portion of the bridge across the Rappahannock. I am looking for a letter every minute. The bridge was to be finished by 5 o’clock this afternoon.

This image shows Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys standing in front of the door facing General George G. Meade, seated. Standing, to Meade’s right is Major J. C. Biddle, A.D.C., on the steps of Wallach’s House, the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. The Library of Congress dates this image “September 1863” but Biddle’s letter informs us it was taken on the morning of 3 October 1863. It was attributed to Timothy O’Sullivan.
Another image of Meade (hands on belt) with Humpreys and his staff. Biddle stands to the right of Humphreys with sash across his chest.

Willie Sergeant arrived here yesterday. I saw him this morning. He told me you were looking very well. I wish I could be detailed on some home duty. I would not like to ask for anything of the kind, but I would be too happy for anything if I could have you with me. I think before long I shall be able to accomplish it. I am in hopes though that before Christmas something may take place to end this rebellion.

The train has just arrived and in a few minutes I will get my letter which is my greatest comforter. They are always written so cheerfully and they help me to bear this separation. You are on my mind all the time and it seems to me an age since I was at home. I am looking with a great deal of interest to the West. Sherman’s Corp with the 11th & 12th of this army ought to be able to smash Bragg & if they are successful [at Chattanooga], it will be a severe blow to the rebellion—one they cannot recover from. This winter will be a severe one in the South and with the defeat of Bragg, the spring will bring us very little to do. It is impossible for them to recruit their army anymore. They have taken their last man. I should think they must see their cause is hopeless, but Davis and his followers have risked their all and they will hold on till the last.

We are remaining quiet and I thought today that it might be on account of the elections this month, and that after they are over we will fall back and send a portion of the army to some other point. If that should be the case, I will certainly soon see you. It cheers me up having these fancies.

The rebels sent three scouts inside our lines last night. They were seen and fired at but up to this time, they have not been found although there has been a strict search made for them. They have of course much better facilities for gaining information than we have, and they know everything that takes place here. I will postpone this till the morning when I hope we shall have some good news by today’s papers which arrive at the same time with the mail. Goodnight, my darling wife.

October 4th, 1863. I did not receive any letter from you yesterday. The mail arrived but my letter missed. The papers did not come. I do not expect they contained any news. I do not look for anything startling for two weeks. This is Sunday and I would give anything to have my own darling wife with me. It is a beautiful day and I could be too happy for anything if I could go to church with you this morning. It is terribly monotonous in camp. I do not see any signs of our doing anything and I do wish I could get a leave of absence. Winter will soon set in, and then I shall certainly be able to get a leave, if not able to have you with me.

It is breakfast time and I must close. Goodbye my own darling. Give my love to Ma, Kat, your father & all, & with heaps of love to yourself. I am for ever your devoted husband

Letter 14

Headquarters Army of the Potomac
Culpeper, [Virginia]
October 7th 1863

My own darling Wife,

I have been hards at work copying reports all this morning. General Meade has his finished and tomorrow I presume they will be sent to Washington.

It is raining very hard which does not help to enliven things around camp. I received your nice letter written yesterday this morning. I agree with you about Effie’s paying a visit at Mr. Holeman’s. He is a man whom I have a great contempt for. I hope Tom will get his position as Paymaster. Two months will be a long time though to wait for it.

I read Lee’s report of the Battle of Gettysburg. He tries to detract from the doings of our cavalry. They whipped the rebel cavalry whenever they met them but when they drove them back to their infantry, of course they had to fall back. He says nothing of the fight at Falling Waters and tries to make out General Pettigrew was killed by a small body of our cavalry who succeeded in getting through their pickets without being discovered, and that the two guns we captured were stuck in th mud, and owing to the horses being so worn out, could not pull them off.

I do not like the news from Tennessee. The rebel cavalry by destroying the bridge at Murfreesboro will delay the arrival of reinforcements to Rosecrans. I am in hopes Rosecrans can draw supplies from the country as his own are now cut off from him. I wish we could know the true state of affairs. It is very trying being kept in suspense. Yesterday’s papers mentioned fighting going on at McMinnville and today we hear of the destruction of the railroad bridge over Stone river at Murfreesboro. This looks to me as if they had some force in the rear of Rosecrans. I hope for the best and I do not intend to worry myself for in the end we must come out all right.

It is very quiet here. There is no excitement of any kind and my every thought is of you. I think before very long I shall be where I can return to you. You are my dear good girl and I can tell you I appreciate you.

I suppose Tom Hall expect to be Major of is regiment. Chapman intends resigning and then there will be a vacancy, but I doubt the government appointing a new Colonel as the regiment is so small. In fact, I think there is a law against it, or rather an order.

Capt. Coppinger whom you met one evening with Capt. O’Keefe at Mrs. Rickett’s supper for Johnny, Sallie and ourselves was here last night. He told me he had met Tom & Sallie at Uncle Halls in Trenton. O’Keefe is a prisoner at Libby prison. He is a Captain in the regular army and has been in New York with his regiment.

If I should go to Washington, I would not go to Mr. Rickett’s house. I agree with you, I could not have you alone with me as much as I should like. I thought I had promised you this before. If I did not, it was an oversight.

I must now say good night, my darling wife.

October 8th 1863. It is still raining and very dreary. I am very well and this is the only thing of interest I have to tell you. I do wish General Meade would grant leaves of absence. I can see no reason for his not doing so, and it would make us all so much better satisfied. But I hope the day is not far distant when I may be at home with you, never to be separated again. I must say goodbye. Excuse the shortness of this letter but there is not a single shiny new [thing] to tell you. Give my love to Ma, Kat, your father & all, and with a heart full of love for yourself, I am forever your own devoted husband.

Letter 15

Headquarters Army of the Potomac
Culpeper, [Virginia]
October 8, 1863

My own darling wife,

My hands are so cold I can hardly write. It has cleared up quite cold but when I finish these few lines, I shall tuck myself warmly away in bed. I have plenty of covering to myself very comfortable. I received today your nice letter of the 7th. Willie Graham was here this morning. He told me he had received a letter from General Ricketts in which he mentioned Toms staying with him, and said he had secured something to do, which he thought would be a stepping stone to his receiving a Paymastership. He did not know what it was. I am in hopes of hearing from you tomorrow more definitely about it.

Today’s paper mentioned the arrival of General Hooker at Nashville. His troops must have arrived there by this time. I am looking anxiously for good news. The attack on Murfreesboro appears only to have been a cavalry raid, and the rebels from the accounts today have been driven off. If Rosecrans can whip Bragg, it will be a great thing for us and help to bring this war to a speedy end, which is the thing I am looking forward to with so much interest. I long to see you so much Gertrude. This long separation is very hard for us both. But before long I am in hopes our happiness will more than make up for it.

I wonder what Gillmore is doing and whether he can accomplish anything more. I hear nothing said of any intention to do anything with this army and I guess the rumor of the 5th Corps being taken away is one of the many rumors gotten up in camp to help enliven the monotony. The 5th Corps is celebrated for their faculty of inventing rumors—especially the regular division. There are also rumors of a fight in Louisiana where we got the worst of it the first day but on the second, Ord’s Division arrived and we gained a victory. This is the battle we heard of through the rebel papers in which General Weitzel was reported to have been killed, but I trust it will prove to be false.

I am remarkably well and have never been in better health in my life. I do not think though I am any stouter than when you last saw me. I do not want you to write to me in your cold room and especially in the morning before you are dressed. I am afraid of your taking cold.

I gave Major Ludlow the article you sent me mentioning the safety of his brother. He had not seen it and was very much obliged to you for it. He heard he was wounded in the arm, but not seriously, and this confirms his safety. He sent a letter to your Uncle Sully asking him to forward a letter to his brother and also one to a cousin of his in the rebel army. I added a line and asked your Uncle to enquire about Parker. It is strange we have not heard anything of him. I should have supposed he would have written home if he had been in Libby prison. They allow officers to write home by flag of truce. I wonder when they will commence exchanging again. Some of our officers have been a long time in the Libby [Prison] and from all accounts, it is not the most comfortable residence in the world.

Have you seen a book written by an English officer who was with the rebel army at the Battle of Gettysburg? It is in camp but I have not read it.

My darling wife, I want so much to see you. I do wish I could see some prospect of my getting home but we must not despond and try to be as cheerful and bright as possible. I can assure you your letters are my greatest comfort, and they help me to bear this separation. I look forward to their arrival everyday and I always feel disappointed when by any accident the mail misses. They have been very regular lately. I never send a letter to you without wishing to myself, Oh! how happy I should be if I was going with that letter. I must close till moring. Good night my darling wife. The reason my letters are so blotted, the top of my inkstand came off and I have a cork stopper which inks my hand every time I take it out.

October 9th 1863. My own darling Diddy. This is a lovely morning and it would be so pleasant if I only had you to take a little stroll about with me. Everything is quiet here. I gave my cook a pass to go to Stone Mountain yesterday & try to get his wife who is living there. He belongs to this neighborhood, having left with General Pope last year. He has not yet returned and I am getting anxious about him. He is an excellent cook. My own servant is a mulatto. He might at any time pass for a white man. I could at first hardly credit his being a negro. He manages very well and I have been very fortunate thus far.

Everyone speaks favorably of the chances of Curtin [in Pennsylvania] and there is but little doubt of the success of the Republicans in Ohio. This will be a severe blow to the rebels as it will prove to them they have no allies at the North able to assist them now and in two years time I do not fear the result. There will be a wonderful change in the sentiment of the people. It is working very rapidly. Alas, again this sheet is blotted. I do hate it so much but as I told you, it’s owing to the miserable stopper of my inkstand. And then I have to write on my lap which is not very convenient. I must get ready for breakfast. Goodbye my own darling wife. Give my love to Ma, Kat, and all. And with a heart full of love for yourself, I am forever your own devoted husband.

Letter 16

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac
Centreville, [Virginia]
October 18th 1863

My own darling wife,

I would give so much to be with you today my own darling wife. It is Sunday and is as quiet as can be. I hear nothing of new movements of the enemy. I do not believe they will attempt to attack us here and from all I have seen, I see nothing to indicate that they have been in front of us in force. Hill’s Corps or at least a portion of it followed us but I have heard nothing as to the whereabouts of Ewell or any other troops.

General Sickles was here yesterday. I do not know what he was after but he returned again to Washington. He is not in fit condition to be in the field. It was with great difficulty he could move about.

It would be the best thing in the world if Lee would attack us here, but I am afraid there is very little chance of it, and before long I expect we will be after him. I would like very much to be with you for at least one week before going South again, but this is a mere conjecture of mine & may never happen. I am looking with great anxiety to events as they are passing in Tennessee. I should think before very long a great battle will be fought there and one that will tend to bring the rebellion to an end. The elections are as important as a victory in the field and it shows the South they have nothing to hope for in holding out longer—that there is nothing but men staring them in the face the longer they hold out.

Starr has been ordered to rejoin his regiment. I do not think he liked it very much. He wanted to go to Washington to refit at the time they went, but now that winter is so near setting in, he would prefer being at Headquarters. I hope my dear girl the medicine Doctor M. has given you will cure you of your ailments. I wish with all my heart I could see you if it was only for a little while, but we must keep up the spirits. It will soon be impossible for either army to do anything and I then look forward to a long leave of absence. I wish I could be ordered on some duty this winter where I could have you with me. I should be then too happy for anything. Breakfast is ready. Give my love to Ma and all & with a heart full of love for yourself, I am forever your devoted husband.

Letter 17

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac 
Auburn, October 29th, 1863.

My own darling Wife,

I received this afternoon your nice letter of the 27th. I suppose Cassie is much better as you do not mention her in your letter. I am glad  to have such good accounts of yourself and all the rest at home. I am looking forward with a great deal of pleasure to seeing you before very  long. The winter months are fast approaching, and then I certainly will  have a leave of absence. You are on my mind all the time and I will be too happy for anything when I again have you by my side. You are my all and I know what a good wife I have got.

I started to go & see Mrs. Murray this morning, but found she lived a mile outside of the picket line of the 5th Corps, and as the guerrilla parties are hovering so close to us and it was not on official business I was going, I concluded it wisest not to run any risk. I should dislike very much to be gobbled and especially when paying a visit.

There appears to be a great dearth of news. The papers consequently are amusing themselves by pitching into this Army, and trying to find someone to blame for its not being nearer Richmond at the present time. I hope we may have some good news from Tennessee. I do not understand Burnside’s position. It was said he was marching on Lynchburg, but I see nothing to indicate he has any such intention.

The news from Charleston seems to indicate there is something about to be done there, but I am at a loss to know what it is. I would not be at all surprised if they were making preparations to attack Wilmington, N. C. The Rebels have been running the blockade very extensively there, and I should think we would do something to put a stop to it. Charleston is pretty effectually blockaded by our holding Morris Island, and if we only  secure Wilmington, it will be difficult for them to get any assistance from  abroad during the coming winter.

All is quiet here, there is no news of any kind. I have not see Tom or Colly Hall for a long time. Tom is near Bristol Station and Colly is near Catlett’s. I very seldom leave camp unless on duty and then I have not time to pay any visits. Charley Cadwalader got a letter from home today mentioning the marriage of John Camac to some Russian princess worth ten millions. It is almost I should think too much of a good thing.

Major Ludlow is expected back tomorrow. He has heard twice from his brother in Libby Prison. Cavada got a letter from his brother who is  there also, and he says they see no hope of being exchanged this winter. It is pretty hard on our officers who have had the misfortune of being  captured. Capt. Sebad of Gen’l. French’s staff was gobbled up a few days  ago. He rode into their lines at Bealeton Station not knowing that Genl.  Buford had fallen back from there. I believe the Rebels have declared as  exchanged 15,000 prisoners in excess of those we have on our side who  have been taken and paroled. They make a great fuss and talk about  humanity, but those who have been witnesses know how they have  inaugurated the most cruel doings in every way they possibly could.

I hear the different states are making every endeavor to procure volunteers, but the only way is to draft and the sooner it is commenced the better. Conscripts are daily arriving to the Army, but they have not come as fast as the ought to.

It was quite warm today but the nights are chilly. I am as comfortable as I care to be. I must now say Good night, my own precious treasure.

October 30th

We have just received the order to move camp this morning at 10 o’clock. We are going to Col. Murray’s place nearer the railroad. It is to  get a better camp. It is very raw & chilly this morning. Goodbye, my  darling wife. Give my love to Ma & all & with a heart full for yourself.

Forever, — Your devoted Husband

Letter 18

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
November 4, 1863.
Col. Murray’s

My own darling Wife,

I have just received your letter of Nov. 2nd. I hope the money has ere this arrived safely. I saw the Express Agent this morning. He told me he had the letter registered. I directed the envelope for him so I presume it will arrive safely. I think you will be in plenty of time for the bond. They  have some one hundred and sixty millions yet to disposed of, and as a general thing, the sales do not average more than four millions per day. I saw Mrs. Col. Murray this morning but did not feel like going as far as Mrs.  Dr. Murray’s. I should hardly think she would be willing to leave her  husband who is a surgeon in the Rebel Army, and go North. Mrs. Col.  Murray said she wished she would go, that she would like to go herself to  her sisters on West River, but did not like to leave Mrs. Dr. Murray alone.

My cold is still troublesome but I hope by tomorrow it will be better. I usually have a cold at this season of the year. It makes me feel very good  for nothing. I intend soaking my feet tonight and taking some syrup of  squills, etc.

All is quiet, but I do not believe it will last many days longer. I am expecting marching orders every evening. We may have a battle, but I do  not think it is at all certain. More than likely Lee will fall back and refuse us battle.

This is delightful weather for military operations but I do not believe it will last a great while longer. I have been a good deal put out at my  servant. I gave him permission to go to Alexandria for four days to take  his wife and paid him in full to supply him with money. It is now nine days  since he left, and I have been without a servant and see no prospect of getting one. It is a very difficult thing to get a good servant. They are paid $20.00 by government, which I think is an outrage as the officers they are demanding now from $25.00 to $35.00. A poor concern came to me  yesterday and was unwilling to work for less than $25.00 per month. After a little while they will demand our pay and allow us $10.00 a month. I see no need for the Government paying them $20.00 a month. They are all  contrabands, have never received anything at all and are really injured by receiving so much. They are fed & get besides that amount, which is eventually grabbed up by the sutlers, &c. and only assists such men. It is only by the greatest economy I am enabled to save anything from my salary. It is outrageous the way the Army is imposed upon. I would if I had it in my power abolish sutlers and place that department as a branch of the regular Army.

I long to see you so much, my own dear wife. It was very hard going to Washington & returning without seeing you. I might just as well have remained there one day longer as I could have been back by this  time. It was an expensive visit, and I only cared to go in the hope of possibly seeing you. I will finish this tomorrow morning and let you know if there is any further news.

Nov. 5th

There are no orders as yet for a move & I do not understand what to  make of it. I thought we should have been on the move yesterday morning, and there was no reason for hurrying me back from Washington. I might just as well have remained there till this morning, and then I could have seen my own darling wife, but we must keep up our spirits, trusting  to some good luck befalling us before very long. My cold is better this  morning. Breakfast is ready so I must say goodbye, my precious wife. Give my love to Ma & all & with a heart full of love for yourself, believe me forever,  — your devoted husband.

Letter 19

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Col. Murray’s farm
November 5th, 1863

My own darling Wife,

I was very much disappointed today at not receiving a letter from you. I received one but on opening it found it contained a letter directed to  Mrs. Dr. Murray. Capt. Winson was just starting for Genl. Pleasanton’s  Head Quarters, and he promised to see it safely delivered. I presume it  was from Dr. Morris.

There is nothing new of any kind. My cold is better. I have very little cough. It is now principally in my head. I think by tomorrow it will be nearly well. It looks very much like rain. I did not think this morning when the sun was shining so brightly it could remain so for many days longer. It was about this time last year that I left the Army of the Potomac, and how much I wish I could only have you with me once more. I think of you all the time, and I know how sincerely I love you. It is very hard to be parted from each other for so long a time, and I trust before very long we may be together again. I do not know what we are to do. It may be we shall remain quietly where we are. I did think we were going to move, but  cannot explain our not moving before this, if such was the intention. I  have my own ideas, but I do not like to put them on paper. I do not think  there is any prospect of an engagement taking place immediately.

The guerrilla parties are very troublesome and it seems to me some  means should be invented to break them up. They surrounded Gen.  Merritt returning to his Head Quarters from Genl. Buford’s yesterday, and demanded him to surrender. He put spurs to his horse and escaped  amidst a shower of bullets. We have now very little to do as the telegraph runs to all the Corps Head Quarters, and when we do go out, take a  sufficient escort. They never attack an officer unless he is by himself & unprotected.

I am sorry I told you anything about our moving, as it has only made you unnecessarily anxious, but at the time I felt confident there was  something about happening. Since then events have happened which must alter I think the plans. The Rebels have destroyed the railroad from  Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg so thoroughly that it will take a month to repair it. This they did last Tuesday. Do not say anything about this unless  it is in the papers, but I think it has interfered with the plans we had in  prospect. What will be done now, I am at a loss to guess. But if Gen. Meade does not do anything before Christmas, he will have the papers abusing him up and down, but I do not think he minds that in the least. I know for myself, I look upon their opinions with the greatest disgust. I will add a line in the morning to let you know if there is anything new.

Nov. 6th

My own darling wife. This is a beautiful day. There is no news of any kind. My cold is much better this morning. Excuse the shortness of this letter, but I did not feel in the humor of writing yesterday, and this morning I have not got any time to spare. The mail leaves at nine, and these cold  mornings it is very hard to get up early. Take good care of yourself, my  own darling wife. You are everything in this world to me. You are always  on my mind, and I am looking forward to seeing you before many days. I  expect two nice letters today as a return for not receiving any yesterday.  Goodbye my own darling wife. Give my love to Ma, Katy, your father &  all & with a heart full of love for yourself. Believe me forever, your devoted husband.

Letter 20

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Brandy Station
November 12th, 1863

My own darling Wife,

I was disappointed today at not receiving a letter. The mail misses every now & then. I do not understand why my letters to you should be so irregular. I send them off every morning, and they ought to reach you by  the day after. There must be some detention in Washington.

There is nothing new of any kind. The Rebels are all [on] the other side of the Rapidan, and there has not been a shot fired for two days. The railroad is fast approaching completion, and I suppose when it is finished we shall go to  Culpeper. Our Cavalry are now there.

I was sorry to see by today’s papers that the Rebels had captured four guns & 600 prisoners from Burnside and now hold a portion of East Tennessee. I have all along been very much afraid of their pouncing down upon him. It is so easy for them to concentrate troops against him. I am very anxious to have some good news from Grant. I do hope he may gain some substantial success before winter sets in. I want so much to see some prospect of my being able to be once more with you. It is very hard being separated for so long a time, but we must bear it patiently, looking forward to a happy future. You are  on my mind all the time, and I know what a treasure I possess. I will not  write anymore till the morning. It is so hard writing by candle light.

November 13th, 1863

Engraving of John Minor Botts. A Unionist, Botts was made a political prisoner early in the war and after his release, in January 1863, he moved to Culpeper county where he entertained both Union and Confederate officers at various times.

This is another beautiful day. It is going to be very warm—a regular Indian summer’s day. John Minor Botts was here yesterday. He says Stuart had him arrested and taken to Culpeper on the ground of having  invited Genl. Meade to dine with him. 1 He has written a long article and sent it to the Richmond Examiner to be published. He showed it to us. It is a tirade about his persecutions and principally directed against Stuart, who is not at all popular amongst the people living in this neighborhood. I am in hopes of getting a stove and inkstand today. I bought a  stove when I was in Washington, but they failed to send it to the cars as they had promised. I have sent for it by our Agent, but thus far I have not suffered much from the cold and have managed to make out very well without it.

I saw a copy of the Observer. I do not think from the first number it will set the world on fire, but I would like to subscribe for it to help Meade Bache along. He is the last person in the world whom I should have thought of editing a paper. Craig Biddle wrote the article on rural life No. 1. He intends writing a series for the paper so Markoe tells me.

Major Ludlow will be back today. I do not think it half as good an excuse for his getting a leave of absence as I have got. He got his to see his niece married, and I think mine to see you is a great deal better reason. Gen. Meade has been very obstinate in refusing leaves, but in a very short time the roads will be in such condition that he can have no excuses to make. I only wish that this winter I could be detailed on some duty so
that  I could have you with me. I am hoping for something of the kind.

I am looking forward to receiving two nice letters this afternoon from  you. Your letters are always written so nicely, and are such a contrast to  mine, but it is very hard to write in camp, and the only one thought I have  got is my desire to see you once more. It is going on six months since I was last at home, and it seems to me a much longer time. I do not know what would have become of me if I had known it would have been so long  before I would have had you alongside of me.

I wonder what is taking place at Charleston and whether there is any  prospect of our gaining any advantage there this year. They appear to be  pounding away at Sumter, but without doing a great deal more damage.

We have got a very nice camp. We are in the woods, and well sheltered from the winds. Lee had his Head Quarters only a short distance from here. The Rebels had built huts and made every preparation to make themselves comfortable for the winter. They were also building works at Rappahannock Station which in themselves were very strong. We turned  them by crossing at Kelly’s Ford. They evidently intended wintering on the Rappahannock and it remains to be seen whether they will go into winter quarters on the Rapidan.

Breakfast is nearly ready & I must say goodbye. Give my love to Ma, Katy, Cassie, Effie, your father & all & with a heart full of love for  yourself, believe me forever, your devoted husband

1 Botts had promised he would move away from Richmond to ensure the pardon he received for his earlier arrest as a political prisoner. But he was arrested on 12 October 1863 by order of Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart, for entertaining Union officers (although three of his slaves had absconded for Union lines and he requested their return but was denied), Botts was released later the same day.

Letter 21

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Brandy Station
Dec. 10th, 1863

My own darling Wife,

I received this afternoon your letters of the 8th & 9th, also Parton’s  History of Gen’l. Butler. I think it a very poorly written affair, and does not do justice to General Butler. I only had time to glance over it, but I was very much disappointed in the book as far as I could peruse it. I am very sorry you are so pinched for funds. I now have $29 clear of all my  expenses for this month. I was thinking of sending you $10 but I am in  hopes of getting a leave of absence. Gen’l. Meade today issued an order  allowing Corps Commanders to grant leaves of absence on the same plan  as adopted last year, and I on second thoughts concluded it best not to do so for a few days as I will I hope be with you before your $10 is  consumed, and I guess we can scrape together a sufficient sum to get the  children something for Christmas, and I want to keep sufficient to meet  any contingency for my expenses home. I am in hopes of saving $20 to give you on my arrival.

I have just finished reading the President’s Message which meets with my approval. I see by the Tribune they are circulating a pamphlet amongst the Senators containing charges against Gen’l. Humphreys to prevent his appointment from being confirmed. All I know is Col. Fricke—the author of the charges—was dismissed [from] the service on charges preferred by Gen’l. Humphreys and that a more gallant soldier than Gen’l. Humphreys as proven on the battle field does not exist. He is also a man of great  military ability.

The papers are bound to have Gen’l. Pleasanton as the next commander of this Army. It is very amusing to those who know him. He is the last man fit to command an Army and the mention of his name is absurd. Gen’l. Meade has shown himself an able Commander and I hope for the good of the country, no change will be made. He has a splendid eye for the topography of country and acts always quick and with decision. I know we have no one so capable of filling his place so far as I personally am concerned. His removal might be beneficial as I might then be able to have you with me. But I still trust for some good luck befalling  us. I would be too happy for anything if I only could have you with me this winter.

Charley Cadwalader & Ludlow are in my tent, and they are talking at  such a rate it is impossible for me to write. They advise my getting a thirty days leave of absence and lecturing on Butler. They think I could make a fortune. I have been pointing out the defects in Paton’s History.

All is quiet and in a few days I hope to have you again alongside of me. Give my love to Ma, Kats, your father and all & with a heart full of love for yourself, believe me for ever your devoted, — husband

Letter 22

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Brandy Station,
Dec. 13th 1863

My own darling Wife,

I hope by this time you have received the check I sent you. The Express Agent tells me he had the letter registered in Washington so I presume it will arrive all right. It is very strange what became of the former  check I sent you. I thought it would certainly have turned up by this time.

There is an article in the Army and Navy Register for the last week, which I wish you would get. It gives an account of the late movement which in the main is correct.

I thought this was a sheet of note paper and I have just this minute discovered my mistake. It will answer all purposes. I hope to see you before many days and then how happy I shall be. I am looking forward with so much pleasure to having you by my side once more. You are so  dear to me and I only wish there was some truth in the rumor of Peace  Commissioners as I would then see some hope of soon returning to you  forever.

I read Halleck’s report as far as refers to this Army. He says for Gen’l. Meade no more than is just at Gettysburg, and in the remainder of his report does all he can to break him down. There is no necessity of his making the strictures he did, and he does not give this Army the credit it deserves. The affair at Rappahannock Station was I will say as gallant a thing as has happened during this war. If you read it carefully you must see what he means. Both Stanton and himself dislike this Army, and they snub it in every way. It is too palpable not to be seen.

There is no news of any kind. Ludlow will be back on the 17th and then I will think of getting my leave. I do not want to come away directly after the 27th and although I am so anxious to be with you, I prefer putting it off  for a few days. Excuse the wording of this letter or note. I do not feel in the humor of writing and am about retiring for the night. I went over to the 1st Corps this morning to make an inspection of some entrenching tools. I do not like to be ordered on duty on Sunday if it can be helped, but I presume there was a good reason for so ordering. I sent you a letter by Mitchell which he promised to deliver in person. I received your letter of the 12th. I wish mine reached you so regularly.

Give my love to Ma, Katy, your father & all & with a heart full of love  for yourself. Believe me forever, your devoted Husband

Letter 23

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Brandy Station,
Dec. 14th, 1863

My own darling Wife,

I received today your letter written on Saturday. I do not understand why it is my letters to you arrive so irregularly. I send them from here every morning and they ought to reach you the next morning.

I think I shall apply for a fifteen days leave about the 18th of this month. Ludlow will be back by that time, and I think my application will be  granted. There is some talk of our falling back for winter quarters. I think it is a great mistake not deciding immediately what is to be done with us this winter. The men have all comfortable huts built, and it is a shame to move them unnecessarily. The article in the Times was no doubt the same as that in the Chronicle which I recognize as Gen. Rice’s. The Chronicle says Gen’l. Meade is to be retained in command. It speaks on authority. I  felt certain they could not remove him.

I wrote today to your Uncle Sully asking him to make inquiries about my servant, but I do not suppose he can find out anything about him. I presume he has been sold into bondage, and the Rebels will not be likely in that case to give him any satisfaction. I also answered Julius’s letter. There is no news of any kind. The papers have been principally taken up with the different reports. I was sorry to see the mishap to our fleet at Charleston by the sinking of the Weehawken.

Gen’l. Halleck sent a communication here for Genl. Lee which was sent to him by flag of truce. I feel anxious to know the meaning  of it. It was said they had offered him the command of the Army of the  Potomac, placed on a par with the idea of Genl. Pleasanton’s having the command in absentity. I feel very happy, my darling wife, at the prospect of soon seeing you. I only wish I could have you with me forever. I know how much happiness awaits me in the future, and I naturally am anxious to  see the end of the war. You see my paper is nearly gone. I only have a  few half sheets, but they will last me till I get home. Give my love to Ma,  Katy, Cassie, Effie & your father & all & with a heart overflowing with love for yourself.

Believe me forever, your devoted Husband

Letter 24

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
February 18th, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I was very much disappointed today at not receiving a letter from you. I feel a little worried as in your letter of yesterday, you speak of feeling tired. I hope at any time if you are not well, you will let me know. It is such a comfort to me to feel whilst I am absent, you are well, and I cannot have that feeling unless you always let me know exactly how you are, if there is anything the matter with you. I am in hopes though it is owing to some delay in the mail & that tomorrow I shall receive two letters to make up for the deficiency. I am very well myself & you need have no uneasiness about me. I have never felt better in my life as far as health  goes than during the whole of this last year, and the only thing wanting to make me perfectly happy is the blank in being separated from you. But I trust before long this war will be ended and peace and happiness be again restored to our country.

I drew my mileage today. It only amounts to $8.22.

This has been a bitter cold day. It is still very cold, but there is no wind and consequently is not so disagreeable to your feelings. I have a very good fire, and my tent is as warm as a toast. Charley Cadwalader has a copy of Gen’l. McClellan’s report. He has promised to lend it to me after he has finished it. Arthur McClellan sent it to him.

There is no news of any kind. The Chronicle mentions deserters coming in from Longstreet’s Army at the rate of six a day. I have not heard lately as to whether many are coming into our lines, but I have been in hopes we might have a stampede of them sometime before Spring, they taking advantage of the President’s proclamation.

The Officers who have escaped from the Libby Prison ought to have some interesting news to divulge as to the condition of affairs in rebeldom. I should like very much to hear what they have to say. I know one of the  number—Capt. Hobart of the 4th Wisconsin. He was in Gen’l. Williams’ Brigade. The papers state they had a plan previously arranged by which to escape which was divulged by one of their number. Some Union people living in Richmond were to furnish them with arms, and they were to fight their way out, but now some of the Union people were in jail in Richmond in consequence and would probably be hung for the offense, they having been exposed by this man. It is hardly credible anyone could be so false, and if true, I only hope he may be punished. But I presume he will share his fate with the rebels—not daring to show himself at the North.

I asked your Uncle Sully if he had heard anything in answer to the communication I sent him about my servant. He said he had forwarded it, but it had not been answered up to the time when he left. I have no doubt they have sold him into slavery. This is the institution Bishop Hopkins defends as well as others of his party. I intend writing to Ludlow to ask him to make inquiries for me. He is on Gen. Butler’s staff at Fortress Monroe.

I am anxious to hear how Ma and Elizabeth are but I trust they are both better. Give my love to Ma, Katy, your father & all & with a heart full of love for yourself, believe me forever your devoted husband.

Letter 25

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Cold Harbor,
June 11th, 1864.

My own darling Wife,

The mail arrived today but to my disappointment there was no letter  from you. I look forward to receiving two tomorrow to make up for it.

There is no news of any kind. There has been only an occasional shot fired today. The pickets fire but very little. It is equally annoying to both parties. It amounts to nothing advantageous to either party & is productive of a useless waste of life.

I see the Baltimore Convention have nominated Lincoln & Johnson for President & Vice President. I would rather someone else had been chosen. I do not think either of them possess the qualifications that the  Chief Magistrates of our country should be possessed with, but still there  is no use of expressing any opinion as I do not see there is any help for it. I want to see a gentleman at the head of our affairs, but it seems such qualifications are a draw back. I am sorry they did not take up Grant, but we must make the best of it.

I am very well, also all whom you know. There is no news from the Cavalry. This is the fifth day since they left here. I should think we must hear of them before long through Rebel sources. Hunter was at Staunton  on the 6th, and I take it for granted he is marching on. Sherman, by this time, must have fought a battle, or else the Rebels must have evacuated Atlanta, in which case he has reached the destined point of his campaign. 

I suppose by this time you are in the country. I would give a great  deal to be with you. I am still in hopes I may be able to accomplish it before the summer is ended. I think of you every moment of the day and picture to myself the happy future in store for me. You are my all and I know how sincere our feelings for each other are. It is hard to bear this separation, but I look forward to the future when this war will be ended and peace & happiness be restored to the country. I trust the time is near at hand. This separation has lasted a long time, and I hope it is nearly over.

I think if I had managed the campaign, we would have been in Richmond now. I always advocated this as a defensive line, and the  proper line of offensive operations as on the South side of the James River. If we had sent 60,000 men to City Point as a base, we would have had Richmond by this time and a great loss of life have been saved  thereby.

I must now say goodbye, my own precious treasure. Give my love to Ma, Katy, your father & all, and with a heart overflowing with love for yourself, believe me forever your devoted husband.

Letter 26

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Petersburg
July 2nd, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I received last evening your letter of the 29th. It is a great comfort to me always having such a good report from you. I only wish I could have you with me. I shall be too happy for anything when I can return to you. You are everything in this world to me, and I know what a treasure I possess. We must take care of ourselves for each other’s sake and trust to the speedy ending of this rebellion. I trust something will occur to cheer us up and put an end to this rebellion. It seems to me this campaign ought to be final. It is useless for the Rebels to hold out longer, if they are obliged to give up Richmond, and Sherman gets to Atlanta.

This has been a very quiet day. I have not heard one particle of news. It has been very warm but I have made myself very comfortable in my tent with the walls up on all sides.

Willie Graham has been here. He left Washington the day before yesterday. He is still on crutches and not fit for active duty in the field. He  is very much disgusted at hearing of the loss of his battery which was with Wilson. Wilson has returned, but I do not know how much of his command were captured.

There was an article in the Herald of the 30th written by [ ] Anderson giving a correct account of the disaster in the 2nd Corps. The Army is very much in need of organization. An enormous proportion of the Brigade & Regimental Commanders have been either killed or wounded, and I think too, this as much as anything else is attributable the disaster.

Willie Graham has gone over to see Genl. Ricketts. He wanted me to go with him, but I declined as it is so very warm and I do not care to go out unless it is on duty.

The boxes have not yet arrived. I have sent for them by numerous parties and someone must I think bring them.

Group Portrait of General Meade & Staff, Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1864

I wrote a few lines to Ma last evening after I had finished my letter to you. Brady took a photograph of Genl. Meade and all his staff whilst we  were at Cold Harbor, excepting Genl. Williams & Charley Cadwalader. Mason on his return brought a copy with him. The picture is stiff but  tolerably good likenesses. I am in hopes we are going to have a storm. It is clouding over but we have been so often disappointed. I do not feel  there is any certainty of rain. It would be a great thing to have a two days  rain as the springs are getting very low, saying nothing of the dust.

The papers do not take any notice of General Meade and he is completely ignored. There is not a very good feeling between Baldy Smith and himself. I did not know anything of this till yesterday [when] I was told so. Baldy Smith is considered a time serving man, and is very desirous to get General Meade’s place.

It is nearly dinner time and I must say goodbye. I long to see you so much, my dear wife. I love you with my whole heart and you are ever in my thoughts. Give my love to all & with a heart full of yourself, believe me for ever your loving husband.

Letter 27

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
July 8th, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I am constantly asked by persons what I find to write about. George Meade has just asked me the question, and says he ought to write, but he  can think of nothing to say. It is very dull in camp and my every thought is  of the time to come when I can return to you. I trust it is not far distant. I  long to have you by my side, never to leave you again. You are very dear  to me and my every thought is of you.

I received yesterday your letter of the 5th in which you acknowledge the receipt of the bank note which I sent you. I have an abundance of money to last me throughout this month. The expenses of living are every day increasing. I can see the difference now that I am running the mess. I try to be economical, but it is very difficult.

I am very glad that the Alabama has at last been destroyed. I am sorry Semmes got off. It is an intricate question to decide as to whether we can now claim him as a prisoner of war. It seems to me the Kearsarge ought to have taken Semmes and the party with him off the Deerhound  before they were allowed to land. Semmes had surrendered and a neutral  ship has no business to shield him, merely on the ground of humanity to save them from drowning, and it seems to me this makes it more forcible that they should not receive the protection of neutral ground. I understand they have been debating in Washington as to what they shall do. I hope they will come to a right conclusion and then stick to it, backing it up with  force, if necessary.

It has been a very warm day. It is singular we do not have any rain. It has been clouding over & threatening, but it always clears off before  night. You ask me what is thought of Genl. Birney. He is considered to be a very good officer, and I do not think anyone blames him for the disaster  in the 2nd Corps.

All of a sudden a very heavy cannonading has commenced. It is the heaviest firing we have had at this end of the line for some time.

I am very well, my own darling wife and you need give yourself no unnecessary uneasiness about me. We must take good care of ourselves for each other’s sake, and trust to the speedy ending of this rebellion. Excuse the shortness & stupidity of my letter, but I have nothing to tell you  of any kind or sort. I always like to write long letters to you, but it is very difficult to do so.

Give my love to all & with a heart overflowing with love to yourself. Believe me forever your devoted husband.

Letter 28

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
July 12th, 1864

My own darling Wife,

We moved camp a short distance this morning. The line was changed so as to shorten it by throwing back the left flank which left us as we were, located outside of our lines. There is no news of any kind. I have not heard anything as to how affairs are progressing in Maryland. I am in great hopes we shall be able to bag the entire force of Rebels that have had the boldness to come into our lines so far from their base of  operations.

I received last evening your letter of the 9th. I am always glad to have such good reports from you. I would give a good deal to take a peep at you in the country. I long so much for the time to come when I can give up this mode of life and return home forever. I am always hoping for some such luck to befall me and thus thinking, I cheer myself up.

I went to Genl. Birney’s yesterday afternoon. I only remained there for a short time. We had merely a sprinkle of rain last night. It appeared to be raining all around us, but much to our regret, we did not have enough to lay the dust. The roads are terribly dusty and rain is badly needed.

Senators Wilkinson & Sprague were at Birney’s dinner. Genl. Meade did not go. I rather think their presence prevented his going. Wilkinson is the man who made a speech in the Senate recommending Meade’s removal after he had paid a visit to the Army and had met Genl. Meade sundry times in a friendly way and had opportunities to make himself acquainted with the true facts in his charges or assertions, if he had  wished to know them.

It is blowing a gale and I am in hopes we shall have rain this time. I have not seen Genl. Grant for fully two weeks. He remains at City  Point. He is in telegraphic communication with Genl. Meade.

We have sundry rumors going the rounds of the Army. One is that Genl. Meade is to take the 2nd Corps & be placed in command of the troops operating against the Rebels in Maryland and that Baldy Smith is to command here, but I understand Baldy Smith has left for Washington,  and the story is reversed. It is also said Butler has been relieved & is ordered to Fortress Monroe and that the 10th & 18th Corps are consolidated under Baldy Smith. There is no doubt Baldy Smith is a very selfish man and would leave no steps unturned to secure his advancement.

There is nothing going on here with the exception of the usual skirmishing which is at times very brisk, being carried on with almost every kind of projectile from the 13-inch mortar down.

I am very well, my own precious treasure. Take good care of yourself for my sake. Give my love to all & with a heart full for yourself, believe me forever your devoted husband.

Letter 29

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
July 25th, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I received yesterday your letter of the 22nd, and I am looking forward to the arrival of a mail every minute. It is now after its time.

Major Hoffman, formerly with me on Genl. William’s Staff, paid me a visit this morning. He is now on Genl. Franklin’s Staff. He thinks Genl. Franklin will have a command outside of this Army. It is reported that Genl. Butler is to be made Secretary of War. I do not know whether there is any truth in it, but it is said Seward paid his visit to City Point to consult with Genl. Grant as to his views on the subject.

I am very sorry to hear of the death of Genl. McPherson. He is a severe loss to the country. He was only 30 years of age & had a bright future before him. He was engaged to be married to a Miss Hamilton. There is nothing from Sherman today, so I presume the enemy have not evacuated Atlanta.

A citizen went through the lines today. He was from California. It is wondered as to what his mission is about.

There is no news here. I am very well and looking forward to the hope of seeing you before long, my precious treasure. Give my love to all & with heaps to yourself. I am forever your devoted husband.

Letter 30

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
Near Petersburg
August 3rd, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I was disappointed at not hearing from you yesterday, but I am  looking forward to the arrival of two letters today to make up for the loss. I know the cause of my not receiving a letter is owing to there being no Sunday mail from Haverford.

My letters are very stupid, but the fact is I have nothing to write about. The only thing that has been going on since we took up the present position has been the digging of the mine, which I did not mention as I do not like to put on paper anything which will benefit the Rebels in case it falls into their hands.

The Rebels are supposed to be trying their hands at mining and some think they intend attacking us. I only wish they would as it will save us a great deal of trouble. Some of the prisoners we took the day the mine  exploded [see Battle of the Crater] told they were expecting to attack us. We are very strong for  defense, and for my part, I do not believe the Rebels have any idea of  attacking us.

I hear the Rebels have all crossed the Potomac. The raid from all  accounts has not benefitted them any. It was merely productive of a  wanton destruction of property.

Genl. Grant was expecting to hear good news from Sherman  yesterday. He thought he would be in possession of Atlanta. I believe the telegraph from Sherman has been cut, and thus the cause of not hearing  from him, but no news is always good news as the Rebels issue extras when they have any good news on their side. Also their pickets halloa out to our pickets. My pen is atrocious, also the ink.

Genl. Meade is very much put out at Burnside, blaming him in part for the failure of the last assault. Do not mention this to anyone as I do not like to circulate these stories. Burnside was here all day yesterday before the Court Martial of the telegraph operators, but did not go near General  Meade.

My mess bill this month will be about $50.00. I do not know the precise sum as there is one bill I have not yet received.

I do not believe we shall under any circumstances ever abandon the position we now hold. We want more men. After the 1st of November, the Rebels will be unable to make any movement into Pennsylvania, and by that time we can concentrate a sufficient force here to insure our success.

If Sherman only gets Atlanta all will be right. He can then divide his column into two and move upon Macon & Augusta, and thence to the seacoast, living off the country and destroy any railroads so effectually they cannot be repaired. I do not think we should feel blue over the condition  of affairs. Be bright & cheerful my darling wife. You are my all and I long to have you by my side. Give my love to all and with a heart overflowing with love for yourself, believe me forever, your devoted husband.

Letter 31

Head Quarters Army of the Potomac
September 11th, 1864

My own darling Wife,

I have been thinking in what way I could get ordered to Philadelphia this coming winter. I asked Charley Cadwalader to speak to his Uncle George about it to ascertain if he would not like to have me on his staff. I do not suppose Genl. Meade will object to my making an arrangement of that kind. What do you think of it?

I think McClellan’s letter is very noncommittal. He says nothing of the Armistice. Anyone can agree with him. We all want peace on the basis of the Union, but the question is which is the best way to secure it & I do not believe in an Armistice. We tried the same at the commencement of the war & it failed. We must first crush the war power of the South, &  they must be the first to sue for an armistice.

I wish you would call on Mrs. Genl. Humphreys. She is staying at Mrs. Humphreys’ place about half a mile from Taylor’s.

I received last evening your letter written on the morning after I left. Cassie is no doubt enjoying herself at Newport.

This month has gone by very rapidly thus far. I can hardly realize I have been away from the army for 10 days. Everything looks as when I left. The only change is the railroad running in front of our Head Quarters. It is in sight from the Rebel lines, and they amuse themselves by firing Whitworth bolts which fall uncomfortably near our Head Quarters. They all have come in nearly the same direction passing some 800 feet to the left of my tent & falling in the rear of our camp where we have our corral. They fire at every train that passes. It is a long range and they can only annoy.  One shot out of a thousand would hardly hit. We are indebted to our English friends for these distant visitors. They have a very long range.

My cold has gone and I feel perfectly well. I think all the time of my pleasant visit & look forward to seeing you again before very long.

There is no news. Give my love to all & with a heart full of love for  yourself, believe me forever your devoted husband.