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

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sunday, May 17, 1863. "We are where we was when I wrote you last and doing the same duty only more of it."

E. D. Keyes,
Captain Co. H.
16th Regt.
"Union Mills Va. May 17

"Dear Father: 
"It has been quite a long time since I wrote you last and an awful long time since you wrote me. You see by the heading that we are where we was when I wrote you last and doing the same duty only more of it. The 15th Regt. which was near us then has moved out to the Rappahannock and we have to do the duty they did and ours too making a picket line of some 7 or 8 miles for us to keep guarded and this too with only about 2/3 of our men. The rest are guarding the Rail Road that runs out to the Rappahannock. The men are on the picket line most all the time yet they are quite healthy never any more so are anxious to get away from this monotonous life and have more active service.

"I am well and tough as ever though I am not near so fat as I was. This extreme hot weather is taking it off and I am glad of it. I feel better. I was so fat often that I could not move without grunting hardly. 

"Our time of service expires in about 2 months and I am real anxious to get home for I want to see you all so much but I think I shall come again and seem as though I should now but I know it would seem lonesome after being home a while and this life and excitement of Camp life would I fear bring me out here again. I feel anxious to have the officers of my Co. settle up to know whether I am coming out little end of the horn or not. You know the whole property of the Co. is in my charge and if there is any unnecessary loss I am held accountable for it. 

"We have a beautiful camping ground just as neat and clean as can be and every street is all set and with pine & cedar trees for a shade it looks splendid. Perhaps you didn't know but camps are laid out with a good deal of regularity & taste. Having streets and names just as much as a city. Have 12 Streets to a Regt. Line Officers on Front St. and the Field Officers & Staff on Main St. the others I can't stop to give.

"It has been awful warm here for the last fortnight as warm as we usually have in Vt. at any season of the year. I think I have rations pretty short now days because it is so hot I cannot keep anything on hand. Butter nor fresh meat we can't keep as we used to. We have ham & eggs about 3 times a day with army bread and nothing else. Eggs are 40 cts a dozen. Butter we can get some of for the same price per pound but is so strong that we dare not attacked it. 

"But that's nothing I will have something better in a little while when I get there helping you in haying and have that new wife to cook. I remember ... her cooking the old table and the [ ] with much pleasure I assure. Give my love to her and all the good folks of S. Reading. Tell her I speak for both of those beds up stairs when I get home. We shall certainly warm them if it is as hot as it is out here.

"Suppose you are very busy now planting are you not. Wallace is well but feels a little anxious to get home I think. ...

"Yours in haste


"I sent to Lett a few weeks ago some money which I really wish you would take and give her a note for what she dont use herself. Possibly she has loaned it. EDK" 
E. D. Keyes, Captain, Company H, 16th Regiment, Letter of May 17, 1863

"Camp Carusi Sunday May 17, 1863 

"Dear Mother
... Since I wrote last we have been having some excitement here. One morning three teams started for the station--two, six mule teams and one, four horse team with one to drive. Sargeants Bayer and Jillsby were with them. One of the teamsters was from this company, Frank Griffith. They had got about half way there when some Rebs that were hid in the woods sprang out and demanded them to surrender. As they were not armed and the Rebs were, they had to give up. 

"The Rebs took off the Mules from the wagon and started across the river. They made the boys ride Mules barebacked. At that, the mail carrier came along and saw what was up. He came back to camp and reported. The Col. came round to the companies and called for volunteers to go and try to get them back. 

"The men all wanted to go, so they had to detail men in order to keep any in camp. Some men went up the river to cut off their retreat. The rest of the men went where the teams were taken. I went that way after that we took the trail and followed it to the river. There we found the men that went up the river. 

"The rebs had crossed before they got there so they gave us the slip. Some were sent on after them with what cavalry we had then followed them till they found that it was not use then, came back. 

"The Rebs took the boys to Braintsville and paroled them. They got back to camp night before last, stayed one night and went on to the camp, not having but one team left. 

"We must do something and so the Col. sent men over the river to Prince Williams County with orders to take every horse they could find that would do for team horses. Our Company got five. The rest got enough to make out thirteen so our teams are replaced in part. It seems hard to take a man’s horse from him but if they will take our mules, they must look out for their horses. 

"It was Guerillas that took our men and teams and one of the sorry horses that our boys took from a plow in the field over the river, our boys that were taken say was rode by one of the men that took him, so you see just what kind of neighbors we have here." James Willson, 13th Regt., pvt, Co. B. , Letter #43, May 17, 1863 (VHS)

"STEPHEN G. WEST enlisted from Barre. He did not take kindly to the life of a soldier; he found fault with everything; he was homesick and despondent and finally sickened and died May 17, 1863, at Camp Carusi."Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 683(1910)

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