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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sunday April 12, 1863. Marching orders

"Union Mills 
"Sun. Apr. 12

E. D. Keyes,
Captain, Company H,
 16th Regiment
"My own Dear Lorette:

"Your letter of the 7th inst. is just received. I read it with much interest and pleasure though the death of Capt. Clark struck me with a fright almost. O it is too bad isnt it? How his dear wife will feel and what a good woman she was too. I pity her to the bottom of my heart.

"We are all well. Yesterday and day before I had kind of a Bilious turn but took lots of physic and feel much better today. It came my time to go Picket today but I got excused. 

"Didn't suppose you would dare speak to Mary what I said about drinking &c but I dont care, glad of it. You say you dont care if you dont then all right. I care for nothing for others. I didn't consider it worth noticing (for nothing was more false) but I was afraid it would get to you and you might think it so and feel bad &c.

"The weather had been beautiful for the past three days. Awful warm. I cannot write much. We rec'd marching orders about an hour ago. To start tomorrow morn with 3 days cooked rations and the wagons carry 4 more uncooked. The men are very busy making a large box to put their extra blankets in and send them to Washington for storage. I have turned over and am to turn tomorrow both of my tents, Mess Chest, Trunk and every thing but a traveling bag beside what I carry on my back. I dont know where we are going --  anything about it. The order say to take the field, but we may not go far and perhaps not at all.

"I dislike to write anything about it now for I fear that you will worry about us but you must not. Be of good cheer for only 3 months and little over before our time will expire and then we shall return to meet the loved ones at home. What an hour of rejoicing. How much I set upon meeting my good companion whom God hath given me to love. It dont seem as though it was our lot to be separated when we love so much.

"But Duty demands that I close and return to the duties of preparing for the march. I hold you in my arms and kiss you & kiss you and exclaim God Bless you my dear one: Keep and preserve not in this house separation and permit us to meet and enjoy those hours again .... In last I bid you again Good Bye.

"EDK ~ E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, 16th Regiment

"Union Mills, Virginia April 12, 1863

"Dear Parents,

"As this is the last opportunity that I may have for addressing you from this post, I propose to embrace the present chance. We have orders to march tomorrow morning at 9:30 and the cooks etc. have orders to take seven days' rations along with them. We have not the least idea where we are going to. Well, so be it; we bargained for travel when we bargained to come, and might as well be somewhere else as here. The Quartermaster has just said that we were to go on the cars, so it does not seem that we are going down on the Rappahannock. Some of the boys are going to send off the extra baggage, and they are getting boards from the Qrt. Master to make the boxes for that purpose.

"We have been having several days of splendid weather, and the ground is just as hard as a rock. I think I shall send home a few little things which, though they are not very valuable, will yet pay the expense of transportation.
It will be rather hard for those that are on picket to start out on their travels in the morning, but still tougher things have been, and may be again....

"Poor Ezra Weston! His troubles are ended at last, and his sorrows past. You must have heard that he was dead, and it seems a great pity that it should be so, when he might just as well have been alive and gaining in health and strength, had it not been for Ass't Surgeon George Spafford, who so mercilessly forced the sick from their comfortable quarters at Fairfax Station where they might just as well have stayed until he could get a comfortable place for them, down here. That settled Ezra, but he is dead and gone now, and there is no use accusing anybody of murder. I believe the health of the rest of the Plymouth boys is as good as usual. I have been writing for the captain for a day or two, so that I have not had a very hard time. ..." 
~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of April 2, 1863

"Camp Near Union Mills, VA 

"April 12th, 1863 
Lt. Col. Charles Cummings,
 Sixteenth Regiment

"My Dear Wife, ... 
I am well and growing fleshy. I weigh 167 pounds. During all the past week I have been on a court-martial at Centerville.

"It is now one o’clock p.m., and the regiments in this brigade have just received orders to be prepared to take the field tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. with shelter tents only, and seven days rations, 3 cooked and 4 uncooked. Accordingly I shall have to get rid of my baggage. I shall leave my bed and stove - send my trunk to Washington, and only take my blankets and leather bag. Good bye to the ordinary comforts of camp life. When we are to go I do not know. 

"The Colonel has gone to headquarters near Wolf Run Shoals to learn if possible our destination I may be able before I close this to say where we are going. In the meantime you will direct our letters to me as usual leaving off “Union Mills.”

"The weather yesterday and today is very fine indeed. The buds are starting finely. The ground is dry. Friday morning I had fresh shad for breakfast.

"There is now news of consequence further than the above. So I will only add that I never felt better in my life. I am as plethoric that last evening I had the nose bleed quite smartly, more so than ever before. I really feel fat.

"I do not as yet fully know whether I shall go with my regiment or remain to attend the court martial at Centerville, probably the former.

"Where we are going I do not learn. - We have not got paid off yet.

"Love to all - Your faithful loving husband - Chas Cummings" 
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters  April 12, 1863. VHS. 

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