"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 1863. "The Nine Month Men"

Insults from civilians and the press back in the North were especially stinging. Nine-month men were upset by attitudes like that expressed by The New York Tribune, which called them “beauties who enlisted for the bounties, and took into the service neither health, patriotism, nor honesty.” W. Hockox,  Nine Months of Hell

"Union Mills, Virginia April 23, 1863

"Dear Parents,

"Having Just returned from a pleasure trip down to the Rappahannock, I propose to devote a part of this rainy forenoon writing to you. ...

"One thing that happened at Manassas I must not omit to mention. While we were resting there, Matt Stewart and another started off in pursuit of adventure, and came across a drove of Virginia pigs, whereupon Matt grabbed one that would weigh 60 or 70 pounds, by the ears, and kept the old sole away as best he could, while the other one stuck him with his bayonet. Matt came back and reported just as we were ready to start on again, and one took his gun and another his blanket, he grabbed his rubber and pressed on ahead until he got to where his pig lay, and then picked him up and put him in his rubber, slung him on his back and brought him off. But he was soon relieved of his load by Bingham, who rode one of the officers' horses. I had a mouthful or two of said pig, and can testify that he tasted very much like veal....

"The Vermont Journal of the 18th has just come to hand. One piece in it entitled "The Nine Month Men" has been read by many of the boys, and pronounced by all an unmitigated lie. Some of them wish that they could see the man that wrote the piece--you may guess for what. It is true that they are in no hurry to turn their backs on Rebeldom until their time is out, and that the men of this brigade firmly and conscientiously believe to be in nine months from the date of organization, and they are not men that like to be fooled or tampered with, whether it be by P.T. Washburn and Fred Holbrook, or by our respected Uncle Samuel. Very many of them and half the entire brigade, would enlist again within thirty days after they were discharged if they were only discharged within a reasonable time after they consider their time honestly and fairly out, but say they, if they keep us until the twenty third of July, Uncle Sam may run his machine just as he can for all we care.

"Not that they care for the extra two months time, for they consider themselves good for that, but they enlisted, believing their time to be out in nine months, and the idea of being fooled and hocussed by General P. T. Washburn or any other general does not sit gracefully upon their minds, and some few of them go so far as to declare that they will not do a day's duty after they call their time out, and the great majority of them say that they may have fooled us once, but never can again, for, say they, if they can hold us two months and then muster us in and keep us for the full time of our enlistment, they can hold us twenty years and then do the same. This brigade is ready to do its duty, whatever that may be, but "play not with edge tools all ye State authorities", for if our bayonets do not count in the coming struggle, our votes certainly will count in the Fall elections, and against you too, I fear. H. G. Day" 
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 23, 1863

"Near Wolf Run, Va. Aprl 23d 1863

"Dear parents

"...One Oclock P.M. it has rained a perfect Shower all day & looks now as if it would continue to the rest of the day if not all night ... 
The number of men present for duty this morning was fifty one. ...    

"There is considerable talk here concerning our time. But a good many have come to the conclusion (since they saw the order from Hockeer relative reinlistments) that they have got to stay until the fourth of July.

"Two months ago I though that we should be at home in may or the fore part of June. But I have altered my mind.   But the boys that I tent with say that they are going home in may so you see we have some jolly times. they say that all that makes me say so is Because I want to be on the contrary side & I let them have it to suit themselfs so that we can have Something for an argument.  

"I think sometimes that I should like to be home to help you do Springs work. But if we are well it will not make much differance to me whether I go in may or july. it is I think just seven months come day after to morrow morning since we left home & we have all of us been blessed with good health or at least better than the Co. will average, a blessing which cannot be to highly prized in this buisness.(?) As to night is the night for Sundays mail I will dray to a close until evening.

"Half past seven PM ...General Stanard is a going to move to union mills to morrow & as Iras team has been turned over to the Brigade & is a Brigade team & belonging to headquarters, he has got to go with him. But I do not think that he will have so much to do as he would to stay here, as the cars run through there towards warrenton. he has been to the Station to day & he got wet and he feels rather hard up to night.

"...The boys that are well feel as good as horses & say that Uncle Sam may do what he is a mind to with them But that it will play out in about seventy one or two days more at the longest, which is but a short time

"I am glad that your bees are in good shape & I hope to be able to hive some of them but if I am not you will have to be careful & not get stung. by the way, Cook wants to know if you wintered that Swarm that stung Grandfather & him so. He thinks that he should liked to have had a chance to have smoked them a little. The report is at this time that we have got to move to union mills to morrow & if we do we shall know more about it, that is all." Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 37

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