Dewitt Clinton Farrar

Dewitt enlisted in Co. B of the Fourth Mich. Inf. at age 22 as a Corporal. He served in the regiment’s color guard and was killed in action at Fredericksburg on Dec. 14, 1862.


Sunday 7th April 1862

Dear Parents,

As it is rather lonesome today I will converse a little with you by simply applying my thoughts and a few transactions to paper. First, I was on camp guard yesterday and last night and in the meantime our regt. was ordered out to support the pickets and they have not yet returned, but will tonight. Yesterday morn the Rebels ran out a field battery and commenced to play on our pickets. But as we stand ready for all such attacks, we brought our batteries to bear on them and at the same time give a charge with parts of [our] regiment that are placed all along to guard the men that are throwing up fortifications and also to support the batteries. Yesterday we took one of their guns and 14 prisoners and buried 42 of their men and they retreated with their wounded, while our loss was only 2 wounded and none killed.

Well, I now will tell you something of the life I live — or have for the last 3 weeks. [I] either have to stand guard or go out and work on the fortifications. We stand on picket two nights in a week [and] have to work all night and then lay still the next day. But no rest at any other time for a soldier of the Fourth Michigan Regiment.

April 28th – We have made a fort. Opposite every one of their forts are breastworks [that] run from Yorktown to Norfolk, from [the] James River to [the] York River, 9 miles long. Last night we — [the] 4th Michigan — guarded a fatigue party whilst they threw up a rifle pit about 300 rods from their fort, which mounts 40 heavy guns, some hundred-pounders amongst them, and today our sharpshooters have been to work picking off their cannoneers. Every day they send over a few bombs at us but [they] do not do much damage. When this ball opens there will be a hard fought battle. I help[ed] mount some five 100-pound guns near our camp on a fort we have built and within 1 ½ miles of Yorktown. We have about 20,000 cannon here, some that will shoot about 7 miles.

Mother, I received your overdue letter tonight with much pleasure. It gave me new strength to learn that I had not been forgotten by ever remember[ed] friends at home. And [I] hope to live to see [the] rebellion put down before morte in every fight, but still, I am tired of a soldier’s life. Now I have to cook my own coffee in a tin cup, and fry my meat (when I have any) on a tin plate, and only 11 crackers a day this size and ½ an inch thick. Pretty hard way of life for a white slave to live, but I would not leave now for any consideration. I want to see it through, and keep well, and miss the aim of the rebels guns, so far pretty well.

Helen, I am much obliged for the postage stamps and sugar. But we’ve not seen any sugar yet, nor my brothers either, for they are in another division — Hamilton’s, and I have got to get a pass from the Gen’l. in order to go out from the division. They are about ¾ of a mile from me.

There — another bomb has come over towards our camp from the secesh and bursted about a hundred yards from where I now sit writing. Do you wonder at the poor scribbling I make? Don’t make fun of it. But I must now close. Mother, inside you will find $20.00 enclosed. Use it and if I do not return, first put up a fine slab and say there on [it] “D. C. Farrar lived up to the scratch and died on the mark in the Union Army.” But I must now close and fall in to go out on fatigue duty. It is now 5 o’clock p.m. Write soon and give my best regards to all that may inquire. From your loving son in the battlefield of Yorktown. I will try and write a long letter the next time. Write as soon as you get this so I will know that you rec’d the money.

Yours Truly — Dewitt C. Farrar