Snicker's Gap, July 20th,
Here I am just in the mountains. I wrote you Sunday when we laid back near Leesburgh. We have no mail now. Was detailed yesterday for cattle guard. The letter that I had written I gave to Asa Moran, as the 8th Vt. lay near our cattle and mails might go out and I know nothing about it, as we lay generally in some out of the way place with the Beeves that belong to our brigade. The third division came up Sunday. You can judge how anxious I was when they passed us, for the 10th Vt. came and Zopher among them all right, as you have probably heard before this time. We left Monday morning, came on by an easy march through the Gap and camped. The troops remained in the same place yesterday and I suppose are there now. The cattle were there then. Our forces are near the river. Last night just at dark got orders to take the cattle back into the mountains but not through. We got here just on the East side of the Ridge at 11 o'clock and are here now. It is now 8 o'clock A.M. How long we are to remain I know not. Most of the wagon train is near us. The air, the same as it was Sunday, is full of rumors.
Six miles from Leesburgh, on the road to
Snicker's Gap, July 17, 1864.
Here we are on our march. I wrote to you last from Poolsville. Sent the letter to Washington by Bill Dwyer to be mailed. The day I wrote we laid still. The men were very badly used up by being up nights and the march. We left yesterday morning, followed the river up to White's Ford. The Ford was held by a few rebels. They were quickly shelled out. The cavalry crossed and took a few prisoners. The main force of the rebels crossed there, the day we came to Poolsville. We crossed about noon, forded the river. It was fun, then we came here by a rapid march.
I picked this up at Washington. Man who had it will never see friends nor loved ones more, as he laid dead on the rebel skirmish line.
Charles E. Blake.
Rocky Mount, N.C., May 31, 1864.
Dear Husband, -
July 15th. Poolsville, Md.
Came here yesterday about 4 o'clock P.M. Left Washington just after dinner. Came about one half mile and waited for the division and trains to pass. Our brigade brought up the rear. Our company was detailed as flankers for our brigade train, and on we came, not knowing where we were going, so one we came, up hill and down, over one of the roughest rough roads I ever saw, men lying down at every step. At about one o'clock we had orders to stop ten minutes then long enough to make coffee, after that to lie down. So we did and slept soundly until about day light, then on and on until we reached here.
On Picket Line North of Washington, July 13th, 1864.
I have but just sent off the last. I will just continue. When we reached the wharf the word was that the rebels were fighting with our troops on 7th Street, but you see I did not believe it, as we were marching very deliberately through the city, though every woman and child we met had great stories to tell. We marched through on 7th street, got well out of the city, crossed over to another road that leads to 14th St. was marched up near Fort Stephens and turned off into the woods and lay there all day. There was an occasional gun from the fort and some picket firing.
On Board the Transport Daniel Webster
July 12, 1864.
Here we are nearly up to Washington. Last night the 3rd division went to Baltimore. I understand the 1st went there, but of that I am not certain, but I saw the 2d and 3d Vermont go aboard a transport, and the 5th and 6th is on this boat. In about 15 minutes after I had sent my last letter, I received a letter from you, written the 3rd and 4th. I read the letter and then went to cooking up my beef. I had just finished when I dropped a stitch in my back, which just straightened me out. I could not get into camp, could not turn over, nor get up alone, but made the best of it. At one o'clock the major in command of the Pickets came and told us to pack up the whole corps was moving. Wasn't that good news for me? Had to be helped up and no surgeon or ambulance or anything else, but my feet and legs they were in good order.
Near the Railroad, July 8th, 1864.
Here I am on picket again. Came on yesterday morning, pretty well round towards that rail road. I should write with clean hands if there was any water near, but it is half a mile to the spring, and we can only spare a man occasionally to get enough to cook with and drink when it is fresh. It is as good water as I ever saw. It is at that house I wrote to you about where I was on, the first time I was on picket. The women and children are all at home and are not molested in the least. People may talk about the women of the south being she-devils and all that. I have not seen many, but such as I have seen say, when they hear firing they only think of the killed and wounded, without reference to which side they belong. There are some that are decidedly Union. They show it pretty plainly.
The way we celebrate the 4th of July has changed.
I read the news from long ago each day, scanning old copies of the Phoenix, and for the last few days (many decades ago), the papers were filled with reports of Fourth of July celebrations. It appears that our earlier celebrations of independence involved more mayhem and being quite independent for the day. It almost seemed a bit more like Halloween, with noise, pranks, costumes, and silliness.
July 5th. Still in camp. Alvin Stokes came over to see me last evening. Had quite a visit from him. Shall try and see Zopher today if I can find the third, but the different divisions and brigades are moving to get good places for shade and water. Should like to see David Morse and Zopher before I finish this, but it will make it too late to get the letter off today. You asked me if I had a rubber blanket. I bought a light one in Washington and some other things. Have no woolen blanket. Could not carry it if I had. Want to keep as light a knapsack as possible. Have to keep four days rations on hand all the time, and that is no small load. Some throw the rations away and get short, but had rather sweat some more and have enough to eat.
Down in the Woods near the Railroad,
July 2, 1864.
Here I am on Picket again, near a good spring. Some of the boys have shot a fat heifer and are engaged in
frying, drying and boiling the meat, but I draw more than I can eat, though my appetite is pretty good, I assure you.
A report on plans for Independence Day celebration in Brattleboro of July 3, 1858, written in The Phoenix. (It was celebrated on the 3rd of July back then...)
"INDEPENDENCE - The celebration on the 3rd by the fire department of Brattleboro and the several companies from abroad will be one of more than ordinary magnificence. The number of firemen who will be present, the reputation of the companies into which they are organized, and the arrangements for the occasion all give evidence of an unusual and unprecedented display. Information has been received by the committee of arrangements of the attendance on Saturday of Companies from Claremont, Keene, and Hinsdale in New Hampshire, from Greenfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield, South Royalston and Baldwinville, in Massachusetts. These with our own excellent companies will make a special pageant.
On the Petersburgh & Weldon Railroad
10 miles from Petersburgh, June 30, 1864.
I came in here last night. The whole 6th Corps is here. We have been at work all the morning
intrenching. Our regiment has just finished. I can tell you just how we lie. The Station is called Ream's or [indecipherable]. The 6th Regiment is about ten rods south of the station, see backside. I am well. Have seen Zopher this morning for the first time. He is now in the tent here. The tenth Vermont lies up on the right of the line. This paper is dirtier than some I have, but I must keep it for better occasion. I just write this to let you know where I am. I am well. Lie right in the dirt. Have washed up my face and hands this morning, but water is scarcer than dirt.
Sunday June 26th. I had to pick up in a hurry yesterday, as the enemy were reported advancing in heavy force on our left and we went out and were posted on the extreme left, and here I am this morning. There have no rebels made their appearance yet. I guess there were a few down on the rail road, though, there was quite a piece torn up yesterday by the cavalry by the sound. The enemy have enough to do on the right. The firing last night was very heavy. Our picket post is near a small house with a fine well of water. The women folks are at home. It is a real snug place, with a large apple orchard, the apples just about large enough to stew and they have to take it.
On the left flank of the army of the Potomac.
June 25, 1864.
My last letter was dated near the railroad; while I was writing there were some skirmishers thrown out on the road, and the pioneers were tearing up the rails. Among them were companies F, L, K, and one other of the 11th Vt. and the 4th Vt. 4 Companies of the 11th and a part of the 4th were taken prisoners. There are a few left from each company. I saw what is left of Company F, Willard Morse, Elbridge Varnum, Charlie Brooks have gone to Richmond. I found but two left that I knew, David Morse and Henry Dawson. Saw Charles Dolloff. He was drawing rations at the time; they were taken pretty slick. We were but a little ways from them. Them that got away talk about firing several vollies, but they did not make much noise. I do not believe they fired a shot. I heard a few scattering shots, but no more than I had been hearing all the time.
The Historical Society of Windham County (HSWC) will be hosting a presentation on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at the Moore Free Library (23 West Street) in Newfane at 7:30PM.
Bill Hosley, an historic resources and education consultant from Enfield, Conn., will demonstrate how art and artifacts can be used to understand historical experience while surveying the extraordinary visual allure of historic Vermont.
According to Mr. Hosley, in developing their towns, early Vermont settlers created a wide range of things that spoke to their values, background, skills and cultural attitudes. Their architecture, gravestones, furniture, ironwork, paintings, pottery, and textiles are evocative of specific people, places, and situations.