Archive for May, 2013
Letters from William Christie of the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery, to his father, James Christie, and from Charles Goddard, from camp near Falmouth depot, to his mother – May 31, 1863Friday, May 31st, 2013
Christie letter about the battle for Vicksburg:
May 31st  Camp close By Vicksburgh
Dear Father [James Christie,] I will try in this letter, to de[s]cribe one of the Grandest sights, I ever saw.
This morning at three oclock, the Batteries of Gen. Grants Army at his Place, oppenned at once on the doomed city of Vicksburgh. And the effects of such a sight allmost defies description. The line extends some eight miles round the Beseiged town. There is Artillery enough on this line to shoot from one to the other. Now just stand with me on the Point where our Battery is Placed, and see the vivid flashes of the Guns, like lightning, and the showers of shell, as they made there quick curves through the air, hissing and hurtling, and finally explodding with a report almost as loud as the Gun. The air waved like the sea, and vibratted with a hoarse murmuring sound, While the valleys were filled with the loud thundering sound of the detonation of the firing of the mortars. Boats, on the River and the flash of there shots, were seen on the Backgroun[d] exactly like lightening. But still there is one phase of the scene I have not spoken of and that is the Burning of the fuse, in each shell, while they are going through the air. The fuse burns, with a blue light, and looks to say the least[,] very Devilish. and I have no doubt the secesh [rebels] thought so. we kept up the connonadeing for over an hour, and made some excellent shots. Tom and I worked on the gun together[,] he as four, and I as three, so you see when there is anything going on we are generally close together and we were volunteers at that. there was not much danger in the dark from the Rebel sharp shooters, But we have to stand our ground in the daytime, and the[n] we have to dodge the Bullets frequently. I have been doing the duties of Driver No. 3. Ditto also on the gun, and I don’t see as there [w]as much danger at the gun as there is driving.
William G Christie
See the whole Christie letter here: 1863-05-31_Christie_combined
Goddard letter about the dusty, dry weather, his pay and recent events at camp:
Camp Near F. [Falmouth] Depot
May 31st 163
Dear Mother your kind letter was duly received this evening. it was dated May 26th. We have been having any thing but nice weather lately, not rainy, but so dry and dusty that a fellow can hardly breathe. I suppose that a citizan would call it fine, but it hath no charms for me. we have to do so much marching, reviewing, and Parading that such weather is very disagreeable. a little rain would make it very pleasant.
When I read your letter to whare the lot had been taken to pay for the tax I was ripping mad but when I come to whare it was redeemed I was all right again. We have been paid again, two months pay this time $26.00 twenty six Dollars, ($15.00) fifteen of which I inclose to you, and then I have for my self $12.00, but will send you part of this if you need it bad. it may be some time before we get paid again. although the report is current that here-after we are going to be paid every 2 months[.] if so I can send more.
Every time I think of old Finn I have to laugh. he presented rather a comical looking picture when he attempted to clime [climb] a greeced pool one fourth July, with his pockets full of sand and would keep applying the sand to his hands to keep from slipping down. I guess he had been partaking to freely of intoxicatering drinks. he is very fond of fireing salutes but it costs him something once and a while. I suppose you remember the time he shook all the glass out of the brick bank windows with that old six pound brass piece and then paid damages[.]
I was on picket yesterday at the Lacy house. the Rebs are very quiet about talking across. they did yell over some after Joe Hooker had recrossed the river but I think they don’t much like the way Grant is coming the giraff[e*] on them in the west. The Sanitary Commission Depot is at the Lacy house and Mrs. Lee makes [her] + head Quarters their. Old Gen. Hancock is in command of this Corps now, but I think only awhile Couch goes home on a furlough. he probably will be back soon[.]
Ely recd [received] a letter from his mother to night; but, he complains of no news. I dont want to complement you for I dont like to be complimented my self, but I do think you wright more news than most of the people writing from their. some how some people will write to a fellow and devote the whole of his or her letter to reminding you that they want all the news that you can possably pick up, but I am very fortunate not to have any such coraspondents. Hancock reviewed our Division the other day, rideing past with more dashing young officers tied to his heels than old Gen Hooker and that is useless.
I got a letter from Cousin Smith Goddard now in Navada Territory and he sais he don’t like the country, but that wedges [wages?] are very high from $3.00 to $4.00 per day. he also said that provisions wer high in proportion to wedges. He thinks he will come back to the States in about 18 months or two years and take the world easy as long as he lives. I think from what he said that he is sick of the new country[.]
Well Mother[,] Give my respects to all of my friend[s.] love to Brother
See whole Goddard letter here: 1863-05-31_Smith_combined
*“coming the giraffe”:
Possibly meaning wasting time on a pointless task, from the French phrase peigner la giraffe (combing the giraffe), though this doesn’t seem to be what Goddard intends.
An 1861 New York Times article uses the phrase in a way similar to Goddard’s usage.
May 31, 1863, Letter from William Christie to his father James, Civil War correspondence, May 1863-February 1864. James C. Christie and Family Papers, 1823-1849. Minnesota Historical Society. [P1281 box A]
May 31, 1863, Letter from Charles Goddard to his mother, Correspondence 1863-1929. Smith, Orrin Fruit and Family Papers, 1829-1932. Minnesota Historical Society. [P1434 box 1]
Acrylic on canvas triptych celebrating the life of Ruth Nomura Tanbara. Tanbara was a central figure in the Twin Cities’ Japanese-American community for more than four decades, serving as St. Paul’s YWCA adult education director and international program director from 1942-1972 and helping to found the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee. During World War II, Tanbara helped more than 100 Japanese American evacuees of West coast internment camps find homes in the Twin Cities. The commemorative artwork was made by HIRO in 2005.
For details, view the triptych in our online collections database.
Letter from G. Merrill Dwelle, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to his sister Carrie Dwelle in Lake City, Minnesota, about incidents near the Lower Sioux Agency – May 29, 1863Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Fort Snelling Minnesota
May 29th 1863
I returned to the Fort on Wednesday morning having been absent since the date of the letter I wrote you stating that I had orders to go to Camp Pope. I was on board the steamer fourteen day’s so you can well imagine the pleasure of the trip and then to increase the fascinations low water lay bare many sand bars which we had the pleasure of tugging away at the capstan of the boat to drag it over. besides listening to storys of bloody murders that made our dreams appear quite “skull” lik. Our destination was Camp Pope but the water being so low we could not go so far up so unloaded the stores at what is termed the Lower Agency[,] which is nine miles from that place by land. The Agency is the place where the Indian outbreak commenced last fall. Lieut. Whipple of the Battery was there building a church for Mr. [Heiman,] a Minister of the Episcopal denomination[.] I will send you a picture of it in this letter[.] Mr [Heiman] was a missionary among the Indians at the time but had to flee for his life[.] The church is of Stone and presents quite a pleasant appearance. I saw numerous graves of those that were massacreed last fall[.] I also was on the ground where Capt. Marsh with his company was surprised and slaughtered[.] Little mounds mark the resting place of those that were not removed by friends[.] One thing I was sad to see was wherever there was the grave of an Indian[,] the body was dug up and allowed to rot above ground. With all our boasting of our civilization are we not almost as barberous as they[?] they scalp their enemy[,] cut off their hands and feet and in return some of our men heap insults upon their bodys after they have been mouldering for weeks in the grave. I believe I can let an enemy sleep in peace after death has closed his eyes[.] if I could not I would suggest a few years of civilizing and Christenizing to teach me that respect we all owe to the dead be he friend or foe.
Wooden plow made in Sweden circa 1850 and brought to the United States by Swedish immigrants in 1890. The plow is featured in the podcast “They Chose Minnesota: Immigration to the North Star State.”
For details, view the plow in our online collections database.
Letter from James Madison Bowler to his wife Lizzie (Elizabeth) Caleff Bowler describing happenings at the fort – Fort Heiman, KY – May 28, 1863Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
My Dear Libby: [Mrs. J.M. Bowler, Nininger, Minn.]
Your good little letter was handed to me last night after I had gone to bed. I knew that I was going to receive a letter from Libby next mail, so I was not disappointed.
I received a letter from [Amon] this week, in which he informed me that he was getting much better than he had been. I am very glad to hear it; for if any body is ever deserving the sympathy of mankind it is a sick soldier away from home.
Your letter was very interesting to me. You know why. It makes me feel sad though to know that there is little hope for poor Kate. I will write to her before long. I am very glad that Pray has returned to Minn. He has not answered my last letter.
You say you did not receive the paper containing Mr. [Aruls’] poetry. I sent it at the same time I wrote. It was in the Cincinnati Gazette. I received the Press all right, and the once in a while too, a very welcome visitor. Considerable excitement was created in the camp of our Regt. by the receipt of a Harper’s Monthly, containing a quaisi history of the Indian Campaign in Minn. Last fall, but really nothing more than a garbled version for the benefit of Col. Marshall and a few others. The 3d Regt., we are informed, arrived at Fort Ridgely and then the sage historian leaves them while Col. Marshall, Gen. Sibley, et al dial out death and destruction to the bloody “injuns” at Wood Lake. “Such is life.” Verily, the justice of history is the reward of the brave.
We are having some lively times now. Scouting parties are out continually after Guerrillas. We have now here, besides many we have sent W[est] Co-lumbus, over 100 prisoners. Skirmishes with them are quite frequent. Day before yesterday Capt. Baker had a skirmish with fifty of them about thirty miles up the Tennessee, killed and wounded several, and captured ten without losing a man. Sergt. Pettibone is out now to guide Major Mattson with a force of three hundred. Pettibone is a great favorite on account of his energy and bravery. He is out most of the time.
I have got Dave Morgan in the Guard House, and have proferred Charges against him, for disobedience of orders.
I am just called on to go on duty as officer of the day. The boat leaves with the mail at nine o’clock, so Good-bye. Give love to all.
See entire letter: 1863-05-28_Bowler_combined
Citation: May 28, 1863, Letter from James Madison Bowler to Lizzie, Correspondence, undated, 1829-1865. Bowler, James Madison and Family, Papers. Minnesota Historical Society. [P1330 box 1]
Photograph of heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis speaking to a KSTP television news reporter. Louis had traveled to the Twin Cities to promote his namesake soft drink, Joe Louis Punch. Captured by a Minneapolis newspaper photographer on July 6, 1948.
For details, view the photograph in our online collections database.
Letter from Charles Goddard of the 1st Minnesota to his mother about the late battle at Chancellorsville and his role in it – May 27, 1863Monday, May 27th, 2013
Camp Near Falmouth Depot
Dear Mother your kind letter was received last evening, containing a necktie. Why I did not write when Ely did was because I thought if he wrote it would be anough at that time and I would give you a long letter when I got whare I could do so conveniently. Why our army recrossed the river is more than I know and I suppose there is a great many in the same fix. if I could tell you I would do so, but being as ignorant as your self of the position of the Army up the river I cannot give you any reliable information. Pleas remember that our Division was here at Fredricksburg and we could not possibly know any thing about any other part of the field. as for the heights in the rear of the City[,] I think that we could of held them if they would only have let this Division go in and give them a turn. instead of that they withdrew this Div – to this side of the river and allow the Rebels to come up on the heights without fighting any. I don’t know what was Gen Hookers plans so I don’t know wheather he was out Generaled or fell back on account of the two years mens time being out. there certanly are a great many going home now. Our Gen worked a sharp game to get the rebs routed out of the pitts when we first crossed. Ordering all of our Division to the right and in going to the right we had to go over about 320 rods of ground that was perfectly smooth. here they gave us plenty of shell. still we kept on moveing to the wright and the rebs[,] thinking they had better have some more men where we were going[,] orderd troops up from their right, our left[,] and put them in the rifle pitts in front of us. then Gen Sedgwick went in and leand out the rebs from whare they had taken reinforcements to cope with us. I would not censure any one of our Gens without knowing more than I do at the present moment about their real positions and intentions[.]
We had a division drill the other day, such a time all dust and no water for about 12 hours. We had Brigade inspection the other day and marched about a mile to the ground, then passed in review and was reviewed, then marched a short way around to get to camp. Our Brigade is commanded by Morehead[,] a regular old leather head he is and gravy[.] we lost a good Gen when Sulley left us. this old fellow keeps us drilling all the time and the sun is so hot that it will fairly melt a fellow. Mother[,] you say you are going to trade your lot[.] if you do trade, trade to your advantage not for accomidation, for this world is composed of Robbers Villains and honest men. if you should happen to get a hold of the former class, your being a widow would not make any difference. Here I have been giving you advice about tradeing and come to look at the letter you are giving to trade with Uncle James so I am not afraid of him cheating you abit, but Mother you had better get you a lot whare you like it and then stick to it and if I get home next spring as I expect to I will try and fix Orren and you a home. I will not say any thing more about it.
Mother do you eve[r] visit William Smiths mother any[?] you know it is our business to look after the Mothers of such men as Bill was. I often think of her[,] poor woman[,] I suppose her son was all the world to her and it must have broken her heart almost to loos him. he was a good buy and splendid soldier[.] Tell Cousin Hellen I would like very much to go to some of the parts you speak of, but I think I could not walk 1500 miles and enjoy my self much in one evening, so I will have to be satisfied with the privilage of of thinking of home and its enjoyments[.] William Sargeant has gone to Boston on a furlough, he started a few days ago. Mother our pictures wer taken in our every day cloths, for we had no other kind so you could not expect to get good pictures[.] Tell Brother Orren that although I have changed my mind about taking a rooster off and fighting him but I think it perfectly ought to keep one that is able to defend his own home[.] We have had splendid news from the South West, but do not place any riliance on the newspapers for my candid opinion is they will tell most anything for money, good or bad[.] J. S. [Will] and myself bunk together and a splendid tent we have you know, we have no less than 8 shelter tents that we have picked up in the deserted camps of the two years and 9 months men that have gone home. You had ought of been at the Depot the other day when the 124th [Pa] went home, they have been noted for their cowardice, and when they went home the boys of all the Regts around here groand for them, and asked them how they liked Fredricksburg &c, the officers fa[i]rly foamed at the mouth, but did not do them any good[.] Don’t be any afraid but what I can get along with the money I kept for my own use for I can do without for that matter. I have more yet. Henry Boyson told us all about Winona but then not quite so well as one of our Yankee boys for he don’t take as much notice of new things.
Do you ever hear any thing of Benjamin Low[?] I havent heard from Benny in a long time he may of went up the spout[*] long ago. (Spout a favorite expression of the collard individual)
Ely is well and also is Chas North[.] John Lynn I have not heard from for some time[.] H.A. Brink is well and doing his regular duty. Mother I have wrote this letter in a running hand or rather swinging hand and with the nonsense that is in it and the writing wheather intelligible remains to be seen[.]
Love to Brother Orren and your self
Respects to all of my Friends
Chas. E. Goddard
*The phrase “up the spout” means “gone to waste or ruin” (http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-slang-u-z.html)
See entire letter here: 1863-05-27-Smith_combined_first half
Citation: May 27, 1863, Letter from Charles Goddard to his mother, Correspondence 1863-1929. Smith, Orrin Fruit and Family Papers, 1829-1932. Minnesota Historical Society. [P1434 box 1]