Elum Todd

Elum Todd enlisted as a private in Company H of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on June 20, 1861. On September 18, 1862, 19 year old Todd died of disease in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The following letters were written by Elum Todd to his family members and are provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical library.

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My Dear Father and Mother,                                                       Washington   July 3rd, ’61

I now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know James and I are well and hope that you are well.. Well, we left Adrian [on] Tuesday and arrived at Harrisburg [Pennsylvania on] Thursday. We stopped at Elmira in York state [on] Wednesday night. There is three regiments encamped there. We left Harrisburg [on] Monday morning and arrived at Washington  about midnight. We are encamped about two miles from Washington. The muskets are the same as we had at Camp Williams. I have not been to the Capitol yet. I should like to get there before we leave here. The 2nd and 3rd [Michigan Infantry] regiments are encamped within about four or five miles from here. The place where we are encamped was John Quincy Adams Country seat. There was a soldier killed here Monday. He was shot by mistake by one of the guards who snapped his gun at him not supposing it was loaded. He was shot through the leg. He belonged to the second regiment from Maine. Some of you must write to me. I don’t know how long we shall stay here. Direct your letter to Washington the district of Columbia  4th Regiment Co. H Michigan

Elum J. Todd

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My Dear Brother and Sister,                                                                      Washington   July 5, ’61

I now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that Jim and I are well and hope you are the same. We are encamped within sight of Washington. I saw four senators sworn in , two from Kansas, one from California, [and] one from Illinois. The Michigan 2nd and 3rd [Infantry] Regiments are within four or five miles from here. The First [Michigan Infantry Regiment] stayed here last night. There was three of the Third [Infantry] Regiment here this forenoon. Thomas Donahue has just been here. He is in the Third [Michigan Infantry] Regiment. He is the same old Tom. He wants John to write to him. The Third Regiment is a going to Virginia next week. There has been no fighting here yet. There has been a few skirmishes at Alexandria [Virginia] [on] the [July] fourth morning. Sixty three Confederates [were] killed and the Unionists did not lose a man. I do not think that we will stay here long. General Scott says that he can settle this fuss in ninety days. He says that we will all be home by Christmas.

Lt. General Winfield Scott

Lt. General Winfield Scott

 

Write to me as soon as you get this. Tell Allen to write to me.

Direct your letter to Washington D.C. Company H

This is the kind of people that inhabit Washington [see letter scan for drawing]

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Brother and Sister,                        Camp Mansfield   Washington D. C.      Aug. 7 [1861]

I received your letter last night. I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well. I am well. I have got over the mumps. I did not have them very hard. I was to work on the railroad at Fairfax Station [Virginia] when I came down with them. It was Friday night. And Sunday afternoon we marched to Fairfax Court House. They were fighting [at] Bull Run. Then we expected to have orders to go there before morning, but about two o’clock we were aroused up with orders to retreat to Washington. The road was full of retreating soldiers. I saw none of the regiments that were retreating from the battle that were in any kind of order. They were laying down all along the road. We arrived within sight of the Potomac [River], opposite of Washington [at] about seven o’clock. We marched twenty miles in about five hours. It was a pretty hard tramp, considering the load we had to carry. We had our blankets, guns, and cartridge boxes with thirty rounds of cartridges in them. It wasn’t much of a load but it pulled down some before we got through. You wanted me to tell you how many were killed, wounded, and taken prisoner. We hear so many stories about it that we hardly know ourselves. The loss upon our side was some five or seven hundred, according to the last news that we have heard. I do not know how many were taken prisoner. I heard the other day that Colonel [Orlando B.] Wilcox was a prisoner in Richmond.

General Orlando Bolivar Wilcox

General Orlando Bolivar Wilcox

The First [Michigan Infantry] Regiment was encamped near here. I saw Bruce Eggleston the day [that] they left for home. They passed through our camp. He was in our camp the day before they went home. George Drury has not been heard from since the battle. The 3rd Regiment lost only three men in the battle. I have not heard from Tom Donahue. I do not know where that regiment is. James wrote a letter to you yesterday. I wrote a few lines in it. I received a letter form John the other day. I answered it. I am a going to write a letter to Sarah today if I have time. But I must bring this letter to a close to make room for James and Marion.

I remain [your] Brother, Elum J. Todd        To George and Melvina Howe

 

 

 

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Dear Brother and Sister,                                                          Camp Union          Sept. 1st [1861]

I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I hope these few lines will find you the same. I received yours of the 19th, 2(?) th, [and the] 30th. I was glad to hear  that you was well. I got a letter from Pa the night before. The folks were all well when he wrote. Melvina, you wrote that you had not been home since I had. I think [that] if I was as near home as you are, I should have been home before this time. But if I was there maybe I should not care so much about going home. Do not think that we will get home by Christmas unless we do a little better than we have. So far there is not much signs of our getting to fighting much before that time. We have been building a fort and we have got it almost done. We have got two of the big guns mounted. They are thirty-two pounders. We shall soon have  it done and the guns all mounted. One of the Hudson Company [ Private George Lawson] was shot the other day by one of his company [Corporal Lucious Hammond]. It was an accident. He died the same night. [Private] Madison Vanneeter  [of Company H] died a week ago. I do not know what was the disease. He was in the Georgetown Hospital. [Private} James Ostrander {of Company H] and [Private] George Jeffers [of Company H] is sick. They have applied for a discharge. News has come from Butler that [ Private] Hy [Hiram] Dodge [ of Company H] had licked [Lieut.] Sime {Simon] Hadley [ of Company H] and was a going to be shot. It is all a humbug. They have not had any fuss. We are to have our state pay tomorrow and the United States pay sometime next week. But I cannot think of any more to write now, so goodbye for this time.

Elum J. Todd to George and Melvina

 

 

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Dear Brother and Sister,                                                                                         Sept. 8th, 1861

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present. There is a great deal of sickness here. Marion is not very well. [Private] Andrew Kingsley [of Company B] has been very sick [but] he is getting better. [Private] James Ostrander and [Private] George Jeffers [of Company H] started for home this morning. I was going to send some money home by Jim but he went off sooner than he expected. I was writing a letter to Pa when I heard that he had gone. We got our own state pay yesterday, $12.50 . We will get our U. S. pay in a few days. Melvina, I will send you a gold dollar. I sent Sarah one when we were paid before.

From Your Affectionate Brother,  E. J. Todd   To M. & G. N. Howe      Write as often as you can. We have got a contraband negro in camp.

 

Elum Todd letter 9-8-1861

 

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Dear Brother,                                        Fort Woodbury   Camp Union, Virginia   Sept. 24th,’61

I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I hope these few lines will find you the same. [Private] Marion [Howe of Company H] is in the hospital sick. [Private] Mode [Morley] Ten Eyck [of Company H] has got his discharge and is a going home. One of the Mich. First boys was here last night. It was Cyrus Wilcox from Moscow {Michigan]. We have got our pay. James and I sent $40.00 home yesterday. I got a letter from John and Sarah the other day. They said that Melvina was better. [Corporal Cornelius] Neil Hadley [of Company H] got a letter from Elvira. She said that they did not expect she would live. I want you to write and let me know how she is getting along. But this is all that I can write this time. Write as soon as you get this.

From Elum J. Todd   to George N. Howe

 

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Dear Brother,                                                     Camp Hell, Va.   Thursday Oct. 4th [3rd] ’61

I received yours of the 17th last night [and] was glad to hear from you and that Melvina was getting better. I am well at present and I hope these few lines will find you the same. We have moved from our old camp where we built the fort. The rebels have been dove back and we have advanced about five miles. The Michigan 2nd took Munson Hill the night we marched out here, but the rebels left before they got there. They left a big wooden cannon on the hill.

A "Quaker Gun"

A “Quaker Gun”

 

The sharpshooters were attacked the other night by the Pennsylvania Cavalry. We heard the firing and thought [that] it was the secesh. Captain Doesler was up to our camp the next morning. One of his men got a couple of fingers shot off. There was nine killed. I have not heard from home in about two weeks. James and I sent $40.00 home when we got our pay. It is about time we heard from it but I can not think of anything more to write now. So goodbye for this time.

E. J. Todd to G. N. Howe

 

 

 

 

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Dear Brother and Sister,                                                               Minors Hill, Va.   Dec. 28th, ’61

Yours of the 20th came to hand  last night and was joyfully received. We had not heard from you in so long that we had begun to think that you had forgotten us. I am well and I hope this will find you the same. I should like to see little Ida but I guess that she will be quite a girl before I have an opportunity to, unless I go home as Marion did, which I do not intend to do. [Private] Jesse Hadley [of Company H] got his discharge and went home with Sime [Simon B. Hadley]. There is three more a going, [Private] Erastus Page, [Private ] Charles Birdsall, [and Corporal] Allen Anderson [all of Company H]. They are having their papers made out now. We had a very good time here [on] Christmas. Captain Doolittle got up an oyster supper for the Company. New Years [Day] will soon be here but we be out on Picket then. Melvina, I have not got the money to spare to get my likeness now but we will be paid off again in about three weeks. I will try and get it taken then. There is some signs  of our having to leave here. Some think that we are a going to Fairfax. I hope that we are, but I should rather go to Richmond. I don’t see what made Marion think that James would be sent home next for. Unless it is because he is getting fat. He is getting to be almost as fat as Marion was. I never was tougher than I am now. The boys are almost all well except a few that are homesick, and they are getting their discharges as fast as possible. I received a letter from Elliott last night. He said that they had a good school there this winter. I guess by what I have heard, that the school at Gospel Corners does not amount to much. I should like to be there and go to school to George this winter. But I should like to be in the old cellar. The best of any good that I know of for a little while. But I cannot think of any more trash to write. So I will have to bring this poorly written sheet to a close.

Ever Your Affectionate Brother,  E. J. Todd         To Melvina and George

 

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Dear Brother,                                                                                                   January 4th, 1862]

Yours of the 28th came to hand last night and was joyfully received. We are well and I hope this will find you the same. We received a letter from you and Melvina a few days ago and answered it. We got one from John night before last. He said [that] they were a going to send a box of things to Jim and I. The paper that you spoke about in your letter did not arrive last night. It is snowing today. It is the first snow that we have had this winter. We had a very good time here [on] New Years. It was a very warm day. Marion is owing [Private] Ben Butland [of Company H] $2.50, which he promised to send up from Washington in a letter when he went home. I do not know what Marion was sent home for. [It] could not have been on account of any very dangerous disease. But I guess that Marion was about as sick as the most of the boys that have went home. You need not be afraid of our coming home as Marion did, for I am a going to stay until this war is over, if it don’t last over three years. But I must bring this to a close. Goodbye for this time. Write as often as you can.

Yours in dutch, E. J. Todd   to G. N. Howe

 

 

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Dear Sister,                                                                                       Minors Hill, Va.   Feb. 7th, ’62

Yours of the 28th came to hand in due time and was joyfully received. I am well and I hope these few lines will find you the same. The Litchfield boys are all well. We had a fight here Sunday. [Corporal] Truman Blatchley, [Private] Ben Butland, and [Private] Origen Getter [all from Company H] were a coming from Falls Church. They had each bought a pair of boots. They stopped at a grocery [store] about a mile from here. About a dozen of the Massachusetts 9th pitched onto them and pounded Ben and Trume pretty bad. Ben’s face is swelled so that he can’t hardly see. Trume was not pounded quite as bad but he was cut through the cheek with a knife. They both lost their boots. Getter got off without any marks and saved his boots. I guess he did not fight very hard. The 9th is an Irish regiment. They are all Catholics and like whiskey as well as any other Irishman. We have the damnedest weather here [that] I ever saw. It rains a most of all the time and the mud is knee deep. It snowed [on] Tuesday. It has been a little better going since then, but it has rained all [of the] days. Today it will soon be as muddy as ever. There is a likeliness taker down at the Bloody 9th. I intended to go down and get mine taken today, if it had not rained. [Private Alonzo] Lon Van Scooter [of Company H] has been promoted to 4th sergeant. [Private] Hubert Smith and [Private] Lafayette Young [both of Company H] are going to [be] Corporals. We received our pay a week ago Tuesday. James and I sent $35 home. I suppose they intend to move us from here as soon as the roads get so they can move. We had orders two weeks ago to pack up all of our extra clothing and send them to Washington. I hope we shall for I have got sick of this place. We have got some right smart cooks. They have gone into a fine speculation. They sell the grease that fries the pork and buy buckwheat flour and bake pancakes and sell to them that is fools enough to buy off them, two for 5 cents. I have not had any of their pancakes. Goodbye for this time. Write as often as convenient.

From Your Brother,  E. J. Todd   To Melvina Howe

 

 

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Dear Sister,                                                             Minors Hill  Fairfax Co. , Va.       Feb. 9th, ’62

I received your of the 15th last night and was glad to hear from you. James and I are both well at present. I hope these few lines will find you the same. The boys are all in pretty good health now. We have but two in the hospital now. [Private] Dar [Darwin] Beebe [of Company H] is one of them. We are having rather better weather now than we had when I wrote before. The mud has dried up some. It is quite pleasant today. We had letters from home a few days ago. Pa had received the money we sent him the last pay day. We expect to be mustered for our next pay in a few days. I received a letter from Elliott the other day. He said he liked soldiering first rate. Melvina, I sent you my likeness but I am afraid [that] you did not get it. I believe I sent it [on] the 9th. If I did, it was time [enough that] you [should] have got it when you wrote. I had one taken a few days after that and sent it home.

Feb. 26th   Well Melvina, I must try and finish this letter tonight. It is a raining quite hard. The boys have all gone to bed. I have just been out to help put up the cook tent which blew down yesterday. The cooks have just had orders to cook up two days rations. This looks something like a march but I shan’t believe it until we are ready to start. We had a hurricane here yesterday that blew almost all of the tents down in the regiment. But as my candle is a getting burnt rather low, I shall have to bring this to a close.

Remaining ever your affectionate Brother,   E. J. Todd

To Melvina   Write as often as you can.

 

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Dear Brother and Sister,                                                   Camp near Yorktown   April 15th, ’62

I now take this opportunity of writing a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you the same. I received yours of the 30th last Wednesday. We received letters from John and Sarah the same time. They both sent paper, envelopes, and stamps. We have not written in so long that they thought that we wee short of the material. I wrote to you and John when we were at Camp California and sent the letter out [on] the morning [that] we went on the boat. Melvina, you said [that] you wanted to know what we were n Washington for. We have not been in Washington. We went from Fairfax to camp California near Alexandria. We stayed there [for] a week, when our Division came down to Fortress Monroe. We [then] marched out to Camp Hampton, three miles from the fort, and encamped. The Mich. 2nd, 3rd, and 5th came up and encamped alongside of us the next day. They came down the river the week before we did. I saw Tom  and Winans. The 7th [Michigan Infantry] came down a few days afterwards and encamped about a mile from us. Clark looked as tough as I could wish to see him, but Elliott looked rather slim. There was one of the 7th over here yesterday . He said that Elliott was sick and was left at the Brigade Hospital. When we marched out here [Private] Lin [Linden] Allen [of Company H] was left at the Fort. [Private] Dar [Darwin] Beebe [of Company H] came from the hospital in Philadelphia [on] Saturday.  Cor [Private Corwin Beebe of Company H] is there yet. [Sergeant] Bill [William] Lindsey [of Company H] was left at the hospital in Alexandria. George, you said that there was a considerable [amount of things] said about McClellan, that he was not true blue. I think that McClellan is alright [and] that he knows his biz about as well as those that are a blowing about him. Island #10 is now taken according to last accounts. The Merrimac came up within sight of Fortress Monroe the other day and took up two or three of our boats. They have had  stories around [here] that the Monitor had taken her about a dozen times since we have been here. But I don’t believe that we have got a boat that can take her.

Artillery at Yorktown, Virginia May of 1862

Artillery at Yorktown, Virginia May of 1862

 

We are now encamped about four miles from Yorktown. We could see the enemy’s camps from the woods where we first encamped when we came here. I hope that we will attack the place before long. We have fine weather here now. It is as warm as summer. We are building a bridge over the river just below here. Four companies of our regiment worked on it yesterday. But I must bring this to a close. Write as often as you can.

I remain as ever your affectionate brother, E. J. Todd   to Melvina and George

 

 

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Dear Sister,                                                                                  Camp Michigan   May 26th, 1862

I take this opportunity of writing a few lines to you to let you know that I am still alive and well. James is not very well. I do not remember if I answered your letter that I received before we left Yorktown or not. I have not had a chance to write since we have been on the march almost every day since we left there. We came up to West Point in boats. They had a fight there a day or two before we came up. They were a burying the dead the day we landed. I saw [Private} Elliott [Todd of the 7th Michigan Infantry] there. The 7th came up a few days before we did. They were on the reserve the day of the fight. We landed at West Point [on] the 9th and left there [on] the 13th and marched to Cumberland, [and on] the 16th we marched to the White House [Virginia]. I saw Tom Donahue and Winans there the day we left. We left the White House [ on] the 18th and marched to Tunstalls Station on the Richmond and York River Railroad. [On] the 21st we marched about 5 miles and encamped overnight. [on] the 22nd we marched to Camp Michigan near Cold Harbor. [On] Saturday, the 24th, we went out on a reconnaissance. We came onto the enemy’s pickets at New Bridge, on a branch of the Chickahominy River. Our two flanking companies attacked them. First, Company B deployed along the creek firing into them, thus drawing their attention, while Company A crossed above and flanked them. They mistook Company A to be their own men at first. Company A fired into them and drove them back from the creek, Company B then crossed. Our men then had possession of the bushes and trees [on] that side of the creek, while the enemy, when they advanced, had to come out into the open field. Companies F and G were the next that crossed, then Companies D and K. When the enemy advanced they would come  up at a charge bayonet. Our men would let them come up until they got within good range and then fire into them. They would then turn  and run. Companies I and C next crossed. Company H  was the last Company that crossed. The fighting was about over when we crossed.. It lasted about two hours. Our loss was one killed and seven wounded, one mortally. We took 35 prisoners. There was one hundred and seven dead and wounded found on the field after we left. The 5th Louisiana [Infantry] and a part of the 4th were engaged against us. The creek where we crossed was waist deep. One of our boys got in over his head and lost his gun. Their [the enemy’s] knapsacks lay in their tents just across the creek. I have got on a red flannel shirt that I got out of one of them.

But I must bring this to a close hoping to hear from you soon, E. J. Todd to Melvina

 

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Dear Sister and Brother,                                                          Gaines Mills         June 25th, 1862

I received yours of the 11th and 15th [on] the 21st and was very glad to hear from you. James and I are well and I hope these few lines will find you the same. I received a letter from John [on] the 20th stating that Pa had got his arm broken. [Private] Elliott [Todd of the 7th Michigan Infantry] was killed at the battle of Fair Oaks. One of the 7th was here Sunday. He said they were a going to send his remains home. He was shot in the lungs. He loaded and fired seven times after he was shot. Thomas Donahue was wounded in that battle. The rebels attacked our pickets on the left a few nights ago. They drove the pickets back, but in doing so run in betwixt a couple of our batteries. The batteries cross fired on them and four or five hundred prisoners were taken. This is the report that has reached us. I have not seen the account in the papers yet. There is more or less firing along the lines all the time. But the old balloon seems to trouble the rebels the worst. They try to shell it down once in a while. But if they get up within any kind of range our batteries play the shell into them so that they are soon satisfied to dry up. Our regiment was on picket Sunday. There is one place where the pickets are within speaking distance of each other. The 9th Georgia was on [picket duty] the day we was. The Georgia troops are true blue secesh. They are as confident of whipping us here as we are of whipping them. [Private] Dave Cobb [of Company H] was pretty sick the morning [that] we came in  from picket but he is better now. John wrote that [Private] Clark Blair [of the 7th Michigan Infantry] was at home. He had got his discharge. The last time I saw Elliott was at West Point. He said that he did not think that Clark would ever come back to the regiment. It is pretty warm weather here now and I suppose [that] it will be warmer next month. But I am in hopes [that] we shall be in Richmond before that time. But I will bring this to a close hoping to hear from you soon.

I remain, as ever, your affectionate Brother, E. J. Todd    To Melvina and George H.