James T. Woods

James T. Woods enlisted for three years of service as a Private in Company H of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry on June 20, 1861 at Adrian, Michigan. He was 25 at the time. He was mustered into Federal service on the same date. James died of disease at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 25, 1862 and is buried in the National Cemetery there.

These letters are provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical library.

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                                                                                                Harrisburg   Sunday June 30, 1861

Good Morning Geo [George] and Vina [Melvina],

I take my pencil in hand once more to let you know where and how I am. I am a little unwell just now though not seriously so. [Private] Elum [Todd of Company H] is all on the diawadlum (?). We are encamped close to the raging canal and have a good bath every morning. It is sport to see the boys climb the canal boats as they come along. They are completely loaded down. I cannot tell but very little of what we saw along the route as we were rushed along and were not allowed to get off from the cars at no place, only as we changed cars. We changed cars at Cleveland, Dunkirk, and Elmira. At Dunkirk we were marched to the lake to wash ourselves, then marched back to the depot and we passed through a part of New York. There is now and then a small mountain, so small that I do not care to live here. George, we have the name of being the best regiment that has passed here and I hope [to] raise that name so high that it will never fall. And I do not see why we cannot if they give us a chance. For we have got a tough set of boys of 1040, aside from the officers. We leave here tomorrow morning for Washington and all anxious to go. {We] can hardly wait until the time comes. There is another regiment encamped a short distance from here. I have been to see them. They are no better drilled than we are, except one company [which is] a little better drilled with arms. You must excuse the dirty paper for I am sitting on the soft ground that is our bed, table, and all. I cannot think of much to write. Vina, tell Lizzie [that] I remember her and should like to see her. Tell her when she looks at the picture that she buttered and honeyed not to forget the one she said it looks like. Tell Lanse I remember her, also tell Allen to write. He has more time than I, but I shall write as soon as I can. I guess I will draw to a close as you will not want any more of this stuff. Goodbye for this time.

Direct your letter to J. T. Woods Michigan 4th reg. Co. H in care of Capt. Funk  and it will find me. Let me be where I will if on earth, Goodbye

 

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                                                                                                     Washington D. C.   July 25th, 1861

Dear Pa and Ma,

I now sit me down in my tent to write you a few lines to let you know E. J. T. and myself is in the land of the living and hope you is the same. Elum has got the mumps but not very bad. We have been in Virginia and here. We are back to old Camp Mansfield again. We were all mad as a wet hen when they ordered us back across the Potomac. We had good living while we were in old Virginia. We found plenty of flour and some sugar. And now and then some [of] us would go out a scouting and bring us a beef and veal. And now and then a stray hog would find his way into the camp. And sometimes a beehive would come walking into camp. You can guess whether we lived the week we spent in Virginia or not, for we only stayed one week. It is no wonder then that we did not wish to leave that place. George, I wish I could just run over there and make you all a visit and get a good meal once more aside from what we got across the river. I dare not attempt to describe to you, but I must not complain. Our men got wasted at Bulls Run Sunday last. We were within ten miles from the place and just before night we got orders to march. We shouldered our muskets and started and marched some four miles to Fairfax Court House, where we halted.

 

Fairfax Court House,Virginia (Courtesy of the National Records and Archives Administration)

Fairfax Court House,Virginia (Courtesy of the National Records and Archives Administration)

 

Our troops were retreating and we soon laid down to sleep, which the most of us did, until we were awakened to bring up the retreat. I hope the damned rebels will get their pay tenfold for that days work. We are in no brigade as yet and there is some talk of our going to the Navy Yards unless we should be lucky enough to get into one, which I hope we may. But if we can do our Country as much good at the Navy Yard, I am contented to go there. Well George, excuse this epistle. Tell Lizzie I have not forgotten her yet. Goodbye for the present.

From J. T. Woods to Pa and Ma   Geo. and M. Howe

Give my respects to all, especially Lib and tell her to dry those awful tears, J. T. Woods

Tell Allen not to get out of patience because I have not written to him. We have not yet received any pay yet, so all the paper I get I have to get the best way I can. As soon as I get my pay I will write to them all.   J.T. Woods

 

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                                                                      Washington D. C. Camp Mansfield, Meridian Hills 

                                                                                                 Monday afternoon   July 29th, 1861

Dear Uncle and Aunt G. and M.,     

 I have just eaten my supper and having a few spare minutes, I thought to improve them by addressing a few lines to you. I am well and getting as fat as an old bear and hope this may find you enjoying the same great blessing. To tell you the truth, we have not done enough lately to [do] anything more than to keep our appetites good. George, I hope you are getting along with your work. If your work was here I could help you about a quarter of the time, but it isn’t. I hope I may be there to help you along with your corn next fall and shall if we get through with our secesh fun. I have no news to write, only [that] we have received none of our pay yet and probably will not before the 16th of next month. Then I do look for some if we ever get any. If it does not come then I shall not look for any until the close of the war. Tell the folks that I am getting so fat and lazy that I can scarcely move around. George, tell Warn Lyons [that] I should like to hear from him. If he will do so, I will try and answer him. Tell Lib, if you see her, that I still remember last winter and hope [to] see her again next winter. Give my love to Lib and tell her I am coming back to live in that new house next winter. I would like to have her write to me and I will answer. This is rather a miserable letter for any person to write. But excuse it if you will. Vina, give my very best respects to father Howe’s folks and accept a share for yourselves. So no more for this time. I forgot, Elum is well and as patriotic as ever. This is all I can say for him. 

Goodbye from J. T. Woods to Geo. and M. Howe 

 

 

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                                                                                                                                        Aug. 8th, ’61

Well George,

Seeing as how it is commenced, I guess I will make kind of a family letter of this. I am well and hope you are. I was sorry to hear that you have got to pull your oats with your teeth. Unless they are better than mine, you will have a sorry time of it. I have just read a letter from John. They are well and got the old barn crammed full of hay. They lost one of their hogs. Ed and Sint sleeps betwixt one pair of sheets, Oh cozy. Would that our company could have been there, they’d [have] thought secesh was in their midst. Tell Allen [that] I have written to him. [Private] Enos [Nobles] and {Private} John Millions [both of Company H] are shooting cartridges at flys, excuse my spelling, flies. Old Captain Funk I think will resign. He is a perfect laughing stock for the whole company, superior officers, and all. We have just  received marching orders. We leave tomorrow morning at six o’clock. But I don’t care for that, anything for a change. Give my love to all the pretty girls, a share for yourselves.

J. T. Woods to G. and M. Howe

James Woods letter 8-8-1861

 

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Kind Pa and Ma,                                                          Camp Union, Virginia     August 13, 1861

I take this opportunity, it being rainy this morning, of writing you a few lines. I am well as usual and may you be well when this finds you. Marion is well. Elum is rather unwell. It is the first time that he has complained any since he joined the army. I forget, he was sick with the mumps. But I  don’t think he will [be] sick but a day or two. We left Meridian Hills last Thursday, and came here. It has rained a good deal of the time since we were here Friday night. We were called out and formed  into line expecting an attack, but did not receive it, it being a false alarm. It had rained that day and the ground was awful slippery, and if it had been in [the] daytime I am afraid we would have made an awful appearance. As it was, we were a hard looking set in the morning.The mud [was] about an inch deep on our pants from the bottom above our knees. We have slept on our arms every night expecting the enemy’s cavalry down on us. But they haven’t come yet and I begin to think they have no such idea. For there is four good regiments of of us here and a pretty strong fort but a short distance back, so that if we were obliged to retreat, we can fall back onto that, where we can hold as large a force as they can conveniently get in here. We have both cavalry and artillery to offset against theirs, and our infantry, I think, [is] as good as theirs. But no more of this.

Well George, I hope it will rain so that your oats may grow large enough that you will not have to pull them with your teeth. You said in one of your letters that those pigs were almost as large as their mama. I suppose they must be quite [so] by this time. I hope [that] I may be there by the time you want to put them in the barrel. Vine, Andrew says he remembers Jenny’s painting his cheeks very well and would like to see you better than anybody else he knows. Well George, you and Vine write as often as you can. If you don’t write more than a dozen words it will be welcomed I assure you. No more at present.

My best wishes to all, ever yours, James T. Woods   G. and M. Howe

 

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Well George,                                                                      Camp Union, Virginia   August 31, ’61

Your letter of the 25th came in hand last night and was most gladly received. I am happy to inform you that [you’ve] found us boys all on the square. I haven’t much news to write. You spoke of eating green corn. I have eaten so much of it the last few days [that] I didn’t know what to do with myself. We get corn cheaper here than you do there, for you have had the trouble of raising which we have not. And when we want any to eat there is enough to go and get it. We are getting so used to cramping things that you will have to watch us when we get back. There is no forward movement, yet the damned rebels will be obliged to do something shortly and the quicker, the sooner. We are to work on the fort every day. I am glad to see Kentucky stand by the Union. The news about Georgia is that she has withdrawn her troops. I hope it may be so and not only Georgia, but [other] states in the Southern Confederacy. Beebe is rather combing roots on Lyons. George, I hope I may be there to help shuck your big corn this fall. Well, I don’t think of anything more to write. Excuse all [the] bad spelling and writing. Goodbye this time.

J. T. Woods to G. and M. Howe

Well Mother,

A few scratches to you. I am very sorry Lib has the whooping cough and hope she may be better of it by the time this reaches you. Oh, I forgot to tell Pa that I got the news of Justin’s marriage long before he told me of it. We are enjoying ourselves to the best advantage. The ground serves us for bed, table, and chairs. We carpet it with hemlock and cedar boughs. I have got so used to sleeping so that I don’t believe I would sleep on any other bed. Well, what next shall I write? I don’t know so I guess I will close. Give my best respects and wishes to all. A share for you,

J. T. Woods          M. S. Howe

 

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Mr. G. N. Howe, Sir,                                                              Camp Union  Virginia  Sept. 8th, ’61

I again take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am in the land of the living and all on the diawadlum. Elum is well, [while] Marion, [is] rather unwell at present. He has the dumdum ague. There is nothing to write about, only that we are throwing up breastworks. They are not cotton, but earth.

CSA General Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard (NARA)

CSA General Pierre Gustave Toutant de Beauregard (Image courtesy of the National Records and Archives Administration)

Old [CSA General] Beauregard, I suppose, is marching towards the Potomac but where he will make an attack is not yet known. Nor do we care, only if he makes one and not be putting it off any longer. For this delay is worse. It would be better to be in a dozen battles. I think if he does make an attack on us here that he will not find it like fighting behind entrenchments. Before he gets there he must first drive us from behind them , which I hope will not be a very easy job for them. Well G. N., what do you think? Do you think they will gain the victory or not? I have just eaten my dinner and am now smoking a cigar. E. Noble [Private Enos Noble of Company H] bought a box and is now peddling them out. So much for that. Now for the dinner…our dinner consisted of boiled beef and bean soup. Well George,  I must close and give Elum a chance to say a few words. Excuse this epistle.Give my respects to all.

Ever your friend, J. T. W.  [to] G. N. Howe

 

 

 

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Well George,                                                                                                                  Sept. 24th, ’61

As Elum has written, I will try and do the same. There is not much news to write. I am well as usual and hope this may find Melvina a great deal better. The nights are getting to be very cool but the days are quite comfortable. Two boys of this regiment leave for home this morning. I wish that I could be the next one for I am getting sick of this delay. If they would give us a chance [to] drive the rebels from here it would seem more as though we were doing something. Well George, excuse this.

Yours ever,  J. T. Woods

James Woods letter 9-24-1861

 

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                                                                                       Fairfax County, Virginia                14th,  ’61

Well George,

I will try and write a few lines to you. I am well at present and Elum is also, and may this find you the same. I was glad to learn that Bine was gaining and hope when I hear from you again that she will be entirely well. You wanted me to tell how Marion was getting along. In the first place he [has] not been at the Georgetown Hospital, but has been in camp all the time. He is somewhat better than he has been, but is not well enough to do duty. I think [that] your letters to him must get lost or miscarried or something else. For he has not had a letter from [you] in a long time and the same [goes for] his, for he has written to you time and again. This I know for I see him every day. Well George, I am glad that the little one can send her wishes so quick. She must [be] smarter than common [folk].

War news, I have none. We have moved forward two miles and in sight of the secesh, but they don’t molest us, nor we them. I got a letter from the old maid the other night. She said that they had some wine of their own make and it had got[ten] good. If I was there I would drink her as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch, well I would. Well George, excuse this short epistle. Tell Liza I am glad that she thinks so much of me. Perhaps I may yet come back. this is all that I can think of now. My best wishes to you.

Goodbye, J. T. Woods  [to] G. N. Howe

 

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                                                                                                                 Virginie   October 3rd, 1861

My Dear Pa,

I received your letter last night and can assure you that I was never more glad to hear from anyone in my life than I was from you. [I’m] glad to learn that Bine was better. I am well with the exception [of] a tooth ache, which I have had for three days. I got the old snag pulled and then my jaw had got it like the old Harry. Last Saturday afternoon we moved five miles from camp and camped in the woods and built bough houses. I tell you, it was something novel. I like it better than the old tents. Last night we got new tents and we moved about a mile further on and pitched our tents. I should not wonder much if we built a fort here as there is a grand place for one. The prospects of a fight is not much here. As we advance, the secesh retreats. Some of the troops were sent out on a forage expedition the other day. They got 500 bushels [of] oats, 500 bushels [of] wheat, a lot of hay, and brought it all safely across the line. Our boys burnt a house and out buildings belonging to a Major in the Southern Army. The building was valued at a thousand dollars. Well George, I hope you may save your shirt. I did not expect a name for the little one that you would accept it. But as you have, I hope that it suits you. I chose two names from Ida P. and S. H. George, how is those pigs and [the] calf? I can think of nothing more.  I hope you will excuse my pen. What news I have not written, Elum will write. No more for this time.

Goodbye, ever your affectionate son, J. T. Woods

 

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                                                                                                    Miners Hill, Va.   Sat. Dec. 28th, ’61

Dear Papa,

I received your welcome letter last night and was very glad to hear from you after so long a time, and to hear that you were well. I am also well and enjoying  as good health as I ever did. Elum is well. Tell Marion that he is much mistaken in my coming home next, for I am getting as fat as a bear. I only weigh 140 pounds. Tell him that [Corporal] Allen Anderson [of Company H] and Boney (?) are the next to come. Their papers are being made out. [Corporal Charles] Birdsall is also trying to get his discharge. But how he will make out is more than I can tell. If England wants to hang her nose in, I have no serious objections if she is really anxious to do so. I hope she will rather think that she will get her prig nose battered in a way that will be long remembered by her. George, tell Marion that we have  had three sham fights. There was more fun in those three fights than I’ve had all the rest of the time that we have been in old Virginia. Never tire. South Carolina it seems [is] getting rather tired. For the planters are burning their cotton and driving their slaves into the interior of the state. Those that are infirm and broken down, they care but little about. Those that are able bodied and refuse to go, they shoot down with as little mercy as you would [have when you] shoot a sheep dog. Well George, as you [and[ Marion have dissolved [your] partnership, I would like it very well if this war could be brought to a close so that I could be with you next summer. But unless it is, you need not look for me. Tell Bine, that Marion owes me two dollars and she may have it. I told him to pay it to her for little Ida L. N. George, how is the Bald Eagle (?) L. M.  this winter. I suppose she is on the diawaddleum. Well, I must close. Give my best wishes to all and a share for yourselves, Laura included. I am as ever, your dutiful and most affectionate son, Goodbye, J. T. Woods  G. N. Howe

P. S. The stem of my bladder bothers me very much lately. [It] keeps all the time looking up in my face and driving me for a quart. But you know that I would not do anything wrong. Dutiful.

 

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                                                                                            Miners Hill, Va.   Saturday Jan. 4th, ’62

My Very Dear Father,

Yours of the 28th came to hand last evening. [I’m] very glad to hear from you. We are well at present and hope that you are in the same condition. It is a snowing finely this morning. It is the first snow that we have seen this winter. The inhabitants here say that they never have any sleighing here. I don’t think that we shall have much snow now for the sun is beginning to show his face through the storm. Well George, I was not there to share the oysters with Mr. Lyons. I wish that I could have been there but as I was not, tell him that when I get home I will shake capers with him to see who gets the oysters. We had the oysters [for] Christmas on the Captain’s account, pretty good for him. [On] New Years we had them on our own. Well George, Marion can tell better perhaps than I can what he was sent home for. I will merely tell what he owes [Private Orlando] O. Nash [of Company H]. He says that Marion owes him seven dollars. He also owes [Private] George Kinney [of Company H] some. I have given what he owes me to little Ida, so I don’t think but what Marion will pay all that he owes. Well, I must close and give Elum a chance in. I will write more next time. Give my best respects to all. Tell Liza [that] I send my love to her.

No more [so] goodbye, J. T. Woods  to his Papa Geo. N. Howe

 

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                                                                                           Miners Hill, Va.   Tuesday Feb. 4th, 1862

Dear (Knees) Niece Bine

Elum received a letter from you today. We are very glad to hear from you. I am well with the exception of a cold but my cold is much better [now]. Elum can speak for himself. We are having very bad weather now for soldiers. It looks a little now as though we should have better weather in a few days. I hope so at least. Well Bine, there is not much news to write. I got the [letter] that you commenced writing. I have written to George. Marion was not so cunning as he thought . For I suppose [that] he thought that I never wrote to George about paying him. Marion was sick when I paid him. And I thought then that he would get his discharge, and something said write, and I did so. Allen writes as though Marion was going to enlist again in the spring but he is played out in this company. Well Bine,, I can’t think of much to write this time. I hope you will excuse [me] for not writing more. Goodbye. Give my best respects to all the folks.

Yours Truly, J. T. Woods to M. L. Howe

P.S. Bine, I want you to tell me whether J. Pomeroy is married or not. Sarah says she is not. That’s all J. T. W.

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                            Porter’s Division, Morrell’s Brigade  Miners Hill, Va.       Sat. Feb. 8th, 1862

Honored and Respected Daddy,

Good Morning sir. How is your health this morning? Good, I hope so. I am as well as usual. Well Dad, it is awful going down here. How is it going in old Mich.? I hear that you are having good sleighing. How i wish [that] I was there to enjoy some of it. There has not been enough snow here too for common amusement. There is plenty of big hills here if we could only have the snow we might get a shingle, or something or other and amuse ourselves by riding downhill. But it is nothing but mud from top to bottom. Well Dad, I have a little news this time for you, if it has not got there before me. Alonzo B. Vanscooter is 3rd Sergeant, Hubert Smith {is] Corporal, [Lafayette] L. Young is 5th Corporal, Watson Fuller is 5th Corporal, [and] Samuel Walker of Litchfield, [is] Orderly Sergeant. This is all the news about the war. [Darwin] D. Van Allen of Moscow, came into the ranks, also [John] J. Alden of Hillsdale is in the ranks. They came of their own free will.

General Felix Zollicoffer CSA

CSA General Felix Zollicoffer killed on January 19, 1862.

Gen. Beauregard has left Manassas with 15000 men for Kentucky. He must keep his eyes open for {Union] Col. [Speed S.] Fry or he may meet the fate of [CSA General] Zollicoffer.

Well Dad, I can’t think of anything more this time. Give my best wishes to all inquiring friends. friends. If you can read this you can do

Ever Your Loving and Affectionate Son,  J. T. Woods [to] G. N. Howe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                                                               Miners Hill, Va.    Friday Feb. 21st, ’62

Well My Father,

I thought I would scratch a few lines to you once more to let you know that I am still alive and kicking, and hope this may find you in the same condition. Elum is alright on the goose. Well George, last week Friday our regt., the Mass. 9th [Infantry regiment], [and ]two [regiments] of cavalry, and so many more [that] i don’t know, were sent out on a scouting expedition. We went some ten miles from here to a place called Vienna. {it’s] a place about like Litchfield {Michigan]. [We had] expectations to find the enemy there but were sadly disappointed. Our forces came into the place [from] three different directions but saw nothing of the enemy. So we had nothing to do but return to camp, which we did. {on] Sunday we went on picket and got into camp on Tuesday afternoon. We saw nothing while on picket but heard most cheering news that Fort Donaldson, with 15000 prisoners, was ours.

Illustration from Frank Leslie's Magazine of Confederate prisoners from Fort Donaldson

Illustration from an 1896 issue of Frank Leslie’s Magazine showing Confederate prisoners from Fort Donaldson

General Johnson [CSA]  and [General Simon] Buckner is among them. [CSA General John] Floyd, the old thief. run away in [the] night with 5000. Ten thousand are expected [in] killed and wounded. Today the news came that one thousand more had been taken at the same fort. They had not heard of the capture of the fort and I suppose [they] were going to reinforce it, but were taken. Our loss is not stated but is supposed to be pretty heavy. Well George, I wish this war was done with, although i have seen no fighting. I am sick of laying around camp. If we were to do anything, I think it is time to do it. Well, I can’t think of anything more to write. Please excuse what I have already written. So goodbye.

My respects to all, yours ever,  J. T. Woods [to] Geo. N. Howe

 

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                                                                         Camp  Miners Hill, Va.    Sunday March 9th, 1862

Honored and Respected Pa,

Yours of the 2nd came to hand this evening but found me pretty well yellowed with the jaundice. I am glad to learn however that yourself and family were well at the time of your writing , and I hope this may find them still enjoying the same blessing. The regiment this morning went out on the railroad to work, [those] that were able. They will not return until tomorrow. The damned secesh have a notion of tearing out the track at nights so that each regt. has to guard their work. But Uncle Sam is bound that it shall be put in repair and I am glad to see him got to work as though he meant it. I wish too that I could be with the boys. I will have Elum write some when he gets in camp. For he can tell what he has seen  and I cannot. Well George, what think you of Dreyser’s letter? I’ll tell you what I think about it. I think that he must be a god awful man. He is a damned site of self praise that he had a great deal better kept to himself by his letter. I should judge that he done all the fighting with his three guns. But no more of him this time. Well Dad, you said that the old cow was a going too. Well, I hope by the time that it is old enough to mutton that I shall be there to mutton it for you. Good night, my light is getting dim and I shall have to wait until morning to finish this.

Monday 10th

Good morning. It is raining this morning. The boys have not got into camp yet but I expect them soon. I am sorry that you and Mr. Holly argues so well and am more astonished that D. Coryall has become a Medinsy(?). George, tell Bine that Harrison was here a week ago last Sunday to see me. He is as fat as a bear and had plenty of stories to tell. Well, I must close this for want of something sensible to write. Please excuse all mistakes and give my respects and best wishes to all inquiring friends.

From Your Affectionate Son, J. T. Woods to Geo. N. Howe  Moscow

 

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                                                                                         Camp Miners Hill, Va.   March 12th, 1862

Dear Niece,

I now sit down to write a few lines  to you in George’s letter. I [previously] spoke of being unwell, but am [now] much better. The regiment came into camp the next day after I wrote to George but [they] had orders on to Fairfax that night. Which they did. So Elum did not have time to write but I gave him the letter to read. I got my things on to go with them but the Capt. would not let me go. There is four of us in our company in camp. We hear from the boys everyday. [Private] Hiram Dodge is [the] teamster for the company. He came in last night for provisions for the company. They were alright. They have not seen a rebel yet. Our troops are in Manassas. They found the place evacuated on their entrance. Our regt. is at Fairfax Court House, some 8 or 10 miles  this side of Manassas. Gen. McClellan is at the head of the Army. The rebels had better fly, as Manassas is evacuated by the rebels. I think the regt. will be back in camp in a day or two. If they are not, I shall rejoin them where they are. Well Bine, I am glad [to hear] that little Ida grows so fast. I wish you could send me her likeness so that her great uncle could see how she looks. Oh Bine, have you ever gotten Elum’s likeness? He sent one to you a short time ago and has not heard from it. He thinks it must be lost. He sent one to his folks a week after he sent yours and it went through safely. In your next [letter] let us know. Well Bine, I must close. You must excuse all mistakes and bad writing and have no fears for us.

I Remain Your Affectionate Uncle,  J. T. Woods to his niece M. L. Howe   Goodbye

 

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                                                                                                                                             April 13, ’62

Good Morning George,

Well, I hope, and I assure you that I am. Your letter of the 23rd is duly rec’d. We are encamped near Yorktown in a very nice peach orchard in full bloom. I tell you, it looks fine. There is forty odd acres. I wish I could own it in our country at peace with itself. We have pretty cool nights and considerable rains. Well George, four days we lay on the old breastworks thrown up by Gen. Lafayette in the old revolution. There is but no trace of them left but enough to show that they were just the thing. It was the siege of Yorktown then, and I expect it will be now, unless the Devil concludes to evacuate in the night as did the thief Floyd at Fort Donaldson. But whether it will end the war, as it did then, is more than I can tell. But I hope that it may. George, you’d split your sides laughing if you had been with us Saturday. As soon as the devils saw us they run out with a small battery and commenced throwing their shells and then to hollering “guard house, stand him on a barrel on a hard cracker” and etc. well, you may guess that two of our batteries soon got their position. When they deemed prudence the better part of valor and took themselves behind their works. But they kept throwing [every] now and then, one, for which they got two in return. They did but little damage. One [member] of Company C’s men was wounded in the neck by a piece of a shell, the only casualty, and that happened in our regt. One of the 5th Mass. Battery boys lost his life and several [were] wounded. Gen. Smith took a battery camp from them [in] the afternoon, killing a good many of the hounds. Smith’s loss is very small. Gen. McClellan is with us and you may rest assured that we shall not be rushed [to] this fight, as were the boys at the battle of Bull Run. As soon as we get what big guns we want and get them placed, they will [get] plenty of shell and solid shot. Our gunboats will be here to help. Well, I must close. Excuse all mistakes as I am writing by moonlight. My respects to everybody.

Ever Your Faithful Son,  J. T. Woods to G. N. Howe

 

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                                                                                                 Camp near Yorktown   Apr. 14th, ’62

Dear Niece Bine,

Yours of the 23rd [of] March reached me Thursday evening. I never felt more rejoiced to get a letter in my life and suppose that you are as anxious to hear from me. I am well at present and hope this may find you enjoying all the blessings of health. Bine, I would like very much to get my daguerreotype taken but cannot at present. Perhaps [I’ll] yet have a chance to as soon as a chance turns up for me to do so. I will improve it, although I would much prefer bringing the original on home. I also hope that [I] may be whilst we were encamped near Hampton. The 2nd, 3rd, and 7th Michigan Infantry] regiments came there. I saw Dingman Winans, the one that worked for C. Saige. I also saw [Private] Clark Blair and [Private] Elliott Todd, and quite a number of boys that I did not know [that] were in the 7th [Michigan Infantry]. Clark looked tough. Elliott looked rather poorly. Th regiment moved [at] the same time that we did this morning. Some of the boys were here. They left Elliott sick at Hampton. We left [Private] Linden Allen [of Company H] sick at the Fortress [Monroe].

 

June 7, 1862 Harper's Weekly engravings of Hospital at Fortress Monroe

An illustration of the hospital at Fortress Monroe taken from the June 7th, 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly Magazine.

 

I have not heard anything from him since we left. Our gunboats are shelling some rebel batteries across [the] York River. Last night, the rebels came out from their works and undertook to cut a piece of woods that lays betwixt them and us. But artillery soon drove them in where they thought [it] proper to stay. They are watched as close as a cat watches a mouse. Professor Lowe is here with his balloon. He goes up every morning as soon as it is light enough and if [it’s] light enough in the night, he is up there. By so doing, our Generals are able to learn their strengths and position. We have plenty of heavy guns and mortars coming here. And when we get them, we shall give them plenty of music to dance after. Well Bine, I have written but little news and will leave it for Elum to write. I hope when this place is taken the fighting will be done with. I must close for this time. Excuse me for not writing more. I send my best respects to all inquiring friends.

Goodbye from J. T. Woods  to C. M. Howe

P. S. How is my Liza getting along? Well I hope. Has she kept that picture that hung on the wall in the old house? Tell her I would give her a farm to see her. And when the war is over I am coming to see her, the first one that I’ll see in Michigan.   J. T. Woods

 

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                                                                                    Camp near Gaines Mills, Va.     June 5th, ’62

Dear Niece,

Yours of the 20th was duly received. We were very glad to hear from you but sorry to learn that you had been sick. I hope that you are perfectly well now. I am also sorry to inform you that I have been quite unwell but am much better now, thank fortune. I have not been in the hospital yet and I think there is no fear of my going now, although I am very near it. So near it that the captain took my gun and returned it to the quartermaster and I have not seen it in two weeks. Our regt. has had a skirmish with the rebels. They [the 4th Michigan Infantry] took 35 prisoners and killed over one hundred. The most of the killed were shot through the head, showing that our boys know how to use their guns. We had only seven wounded and one killed, none from our company. Since then, the whole division has been out . Our company were not brought into action. They [took] 500 prisoners. I saw them pass through camp. They were North Carolina troops. We are within seven miles of Richmond. Professor Lowe has two balloons here.

 

View of Balloon Ascension by Mathew Brady

Members of Professor Thaddeus Lowe’s Balloon Corps are seen in an 1862 photograph taken by Matthew Brady.

 

They are a great help to Gen. McClellan. He can see Richmond and watch their movements. I tell you, the secesh hates the balloon. Well Bine, I declare I have run ashore and come to a dead stand. So [I] will have to close for this time and hope you will excuse me for not writing more. And I will try and do better next time. Give my best wishes to all inquiring friends.

And believe me to be your most affectionate nephew, J. T. W. [to] M. Howe

 

 

 

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                                                         Gaines Mills, Va.  8 1/2 miles from Richmond   June 7th, ’62

Good Evening Dad,

Well, I hope.  I have been unwell for the last two weeks but am much better now. My gun was returned to the quartermaster and has not been returned to me yet. But I shall have it again soon. Well George, I do remember the old plow and wish [that] I was there to break another. This years service has been a severe [one] but one of the best schools for me that I ever attended. I think [that] if I ever get out alright and get a good place again, that I can stay more contented than I have done heretofore. But there is no use complaining. I hope that when I address you again that we shall be in Richmond. I can write no new as everything has been quiet for the last two or three days, so far as I know. If you get the papers you get more news than I should be able to write. I saw Gen. Halleck’s official report this morning. They have captured ten thousand of Beauregard’s Army and as many small arms. His army is completely routed. Gen. Fremont is in hot pursuit of Johnson in the Shenandoah valley. Johnson is flying the devil knows where and I guess he don’t care much where he does go. Well, I hope this war is about over with. Well George, this is a small sheet and I have not written much. Give my best respects to all, especially to Miss Eliza Lyons. Tell her I am coming back to live in the new house so she can cook something good for me to eat. Goodbye for this time.

Ever Your Most Obedient Son, J. T. W. [to] Geo. N. Howe

Write often  as convenient and I will try and do the same.

 

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                                                                                            Harrisons Landing, Va.   July 22nd, ’62

Good Evening Dad,

Well, I hope, but I cannot [say] that I am [having one]. I have nearly lost the use of my legs, unless the doctor succeeds in affecting a cure, which I think is somewhat doubtful here. If I was at home there might be some prospects. I am able to get around and that is about all. I must tell you what i weigh. Well, I weigh one hundred and three pounds. But don’t worry on my account. We have a new doctor in the regt. and one that understands his business. Enos noble is a prisoner in Richmond. Dave Cobb has been very sick but is getting better. Isaac Coleman is dead. He died since we were here. I think he had the typhoid fever. Old john is well and surly as ever. We shall get our pay in a few days. I shall not send any home this time.

23rd  I will try and write a few more words. A detail from our regt. went yesterday under a flag of truce to get the Col.’s [Colonel Dwight Woodbury] body, but could not get it, but they brought back about six hundred of our wounded that were prisoners in Richmond. It seems that Old Jeff cannot keep all that fall into his hands. Well, I must close this nonsense. George, if you have any bad money that you can’t get off, send it to me . Almost anything goes here. Excuse this miserable epistle and give my best respects to all.

Goodbye,  J. T. Woods [to] G. N. Howe    Write soon