Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 29 May 1863
Date: May 29, 1863
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from George Washington Whitman, Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman, ed. Jerome M. Loving (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975), 95-97. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00342
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Gillian Price, and April Lambert
My last letter home, was written from Lancaster and dated somewhere about the 16th or 18th of May. Since then we have been on the move again, as you see by the heading of this.1 We left Lancaster on the morning of the 23d,2marched about 11 miles and bivouaced at a place called Crab Orchard and stopped untill the morning of the 25th when we came on about 10 miles further and bivouaced near the Villiage of Stamford. Next morning we started on again and after a march of 10 miles more we arrived and pitched our camp at this place. We have a first rate camping ground, in a grove just outside this town, and are takeing things very comfortable. Our Regt. is the only troops here, the rest of our Brigade3 being at Stamford. Of course we dont know how long we shall stay here, or which way we will move next, We do picket duty on the roads, about the country here, and our chief business is, to look out for rebel Cavelry raids, as they have been in the habit of dashing through these small country towns, stealing horses and Cattle and everything else they wanted. We had quite an excitement the first night after our arrival here. We put up our tents, on the afternoon of our arrival, and I was promising myself a good nights sleep (as we were all pretty tired after our march, and the work of pitching camp) but about 9 O clock at night we were ordered to strike tents immediately, so we had to turn out and take down and load tents, pack trunks, and get ready for a move, which we did at short notice. As soon as the things were all loaded, I enquired around to try and find out what the fuss was all about, and when I did find out I felt mad enough I can tell you. It seems that somebody had passed our pickets, who said he was carrying dipatches, to somebody, who was stationed somewhere, and that the dispatches were from General Carter,4and that the rebs had crossed the Cumberland River, and were in strong force, at a place called Liberty about 10 miles from here, and were comeing on this way. As soon as I heard the yarn I said it was a devilish foolish hoax, as I was satisfied that the enemy could never get as far in the State, as Liberty, without our hearing of it. and I dident like the idea of loseing my nights sleep for nothing. The wagon train started off towards the rest of our Brigade, and we fell in and marched about ½ a mile, and halted and stayed in the road all night. Next morning we came back here, and encamped again.
Mother I have not heard from you in quite a long time, I had a letter from Walt a few days ago, he said that all at home, was going on the same as usual. Andrew he thought would go to Newbern with Cornell5 Mary I hear has been down and paid you a visit, Walt says, probaly, Mary will go on to Burlington for Hannah, and bring her home. Mother, how are you getting along, does the rheumatism bother you much now. Mattie, and Sis, Walt says are first rate, Jess, and Ed, I suppose can take their rations regular. Jeff wrote to me three or four weeks ago, he says that as long as I dont hear from home I may know that all is right. That wont do Jeff, its a pretty good way to get off, but I dont see it.
The news from Grant, down at Vicksburg is very encouraging,6 I only hope it wont turn out like the news of the capture of Richmond. If it should turn out, that Vicksburg is certain to fall into our hands in this campaign it will be a heavy blow to the rebs.
I have just got Jeffs letter of the 22d. Mother I am very sory to hear that you are again troubled with rheumatism, I hope you wont attempt to work untill you get well, how about the vapor baths do you take them now, but I hope you are better by this time. Andrew to Jeff says is quite bad I hope he will take good care of himself, and soon get well, All the rest I am glad to hear are getting along first rate and are in good health, I hope, as Han (according to Heydes letter) has commenced to get well she will soon be able to come home, Take good care of yourself dear Mother, and let me hear from you often,
Much love to Mattie, and Sis, and all the rest,
Geo. W. Whitman
1. On May 25, 1863, the Ninth Army Corps left Lancaster for Cumberland Gap, but stopped instead at Crab Orchard, Kentucky, the same day. On May 28 it departed for Stanford, Kentucky, but the Fifty-First New York Regiment split off from the main unit and went to Hustonville, where George Whitman wrote this letter (see Civil War Diary). [back]
2. 25th? [back]
3. Second Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps, commanded by Brigadier General Edward Ferrero. [back]
4. Samuel Powhatan Carter (1819–1891). [back]
5. In a letter dated May 27, 1863, to Walt Whitman, Jeff wrote that Andrew planned to go to New Bern, North Carolina, with "Jim Cornwell" to "take charge of the building of some fortifications." James H. Cornwell, a Brooklyn friend of Andrew's, was a first lieutenant assigned to the job of quartermaster for the One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth New York Regiment of Infantry, then stationed at New Bern, North Carolina. [back]
6. Grant had begun his forty-seven-day siege of the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg, Mississippi. [back]