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May 27, 2013

Letter from Charles Goddard of the 1st Minnesota to his mother about the late battle at Chancellorsville and his role in it – May 27, 1863

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 9:00 am

Camp Near Falmouth Depot
May27th 1863
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
Your Son
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

1863-05-27-Smith_combined_second 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]

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