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13th Massachusetts Infantry

Item LTR-7149
May 29, 1863 Charles R. Gardner
Price: $220.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 8 pages written in period ink.

Near White Oak Church, VA
May 29, 1863

Dear Friend,

Yours of the 20th was received with much pleasure. Thank you for your promptness in answering my epistle. Since my last all has been quiet on the river of death (as the Rappahannock is now termed) save now and then an alarm caused by some venturesome Johnnie launching a skiff after dark to bob for eels. Which operation being seen by ye watchful picket and reported is magnified into an attempt of the rebels to throw a pontoon across. Then the whole reserve and perhaps a brigade or two beside are kept awake. To be ready for this imaginary foe. Meanwhile Mr. Johnnie fishes to his heart’s content and retires to his camp little imagining how many of his neighbors across the river have been deprived of a night’s sleep by his action. Or perhaps some starry gentleman moved by the spirit (commissary 50 cents per gallon) issues an order for so many days cooked rations and to be ready to march at a moments notice We had just such an alarm as this yesterday when we come in from picket. No one had any idea of our destination all though of course any quantity of stories were afloat. The teams had orders to start at midnight. We invested all our loose change (shin plasters would be more proper) at the sutlers in cheese butter to take the raw edge off of hard tack. But midnight passed daylight has dawned and roast beef will be beaten in about an hour and the signs of moving grow less. It is well enough here today to make one feel uncomfortable even in the primeval costume of fig leaves. We have changed camp twice since my last. We are now in an open field. A most villainous spot but we have set out shade trees and built arbors until it makes quite a decent place to sojourn in. The old Hartstuff Brigade is no more. The regiments had become so reduced that the three brigades of the Division were merged in two. We are in the 1st with the 94th and 104th NY, 107th P.V. and 16th Maine. Colonel Leonard Commanding. The 11th PA, 9th NY and 12th Massachusetts are in the 2d Brigade General Baxter Commanding. Our Company at present musters 17 men for duty to 21 on detached service. It is getting down to a fine thing now. Perhaps when the pony mess and the recruits are all provided with something soft your uncle may stand a chance. Nuff said. Stoddard, better known as Queeny Todd has been detailed as drummer. Poor Kendall is nearly blind. He has been sent to Washington where he will be discharged. No one knows here what is the matter with him. Seth Johnson still hangs out with Chase. He looks remarkably well for a person afflicted with chronic diarrehea. I suppose you know that’s what he got his discharge on. Poor boy he don’t weigh more than a 175 pounds. I like your sentiments in regard to Copperheads. I excuse the profanity and think such men should be damned here and hereafter too. We have had them here in the army. And a man that held the sentiments he did when we left Boston was looked upon as a fool or fanatic. But we have a better state of things now.

For myself, I can perfectly say I have never wavered even in the darkest hours I have believed that prosper we must. For our cause it is just. And this was my motto. In God is our trust. I have covered nearly two sheets of paper with things nice and otherwise. So I will in military parlance close up. Hoping to hear from you often and that we together may keep step to the music of the Union. Sheafe Keeting and the rest wish to be remembered with best wishes for your success in all things right. I am yours truly,

Chas R. Gardner

Dear Friend,

I enclose you a piece of the covering of an original secessionist which was left by on his retreat to a warmer on the approach of the Hessians. Give it to some Copperhead and tell him to look out when the Jackets of blue come over the border.