Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 1863

June 21, 1863

The Gettysburg Campaign

Route of march for Hooker and Lee
Map courtesy of Civil War Trust

—General Lee issues orders on the march to the effect that soldiers are not to molest the people or their property, nor seize any goods, fodder, food, or other material without authorization or payment in Confederate scrip. Quartermaster, commisary, medical and ordnance troops were the designated foragers. However---Lee also gives orders that if any Pennsylvanian deliberately tries to put his goods beyond the reach of the Confederates, that their property would be summarily seized.

—There is heavy skirmishing between Lee’s troops and those of Hooker near Upperville and Haymarket, Virginia. There is also a clash between Southern troops and Union troops near Frederick, Maryland.

—Eldredge B. Pratt, an artilleryman in the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery, writes home from Virginia to his sister Adelah (whose pet name is apparently Emogene). It is interesting to note the non-standard grammar and phonetic spelling (not to mention syntax). And, from this we also see the stir and bustle of the Army of the Potomac finally moving out in pursuit of Lee and his Rebel army, far to the north and west. But we also note a brother’s heart-felt anxiety about what is happening back home, and a soldier’s powerlessness to do anything about it:

Wolfun Shoals
Sunday June 21st 1863
Dear Sister Adelah.
As it is Sunday and got the day to my self I will write a few lines to you I got your leter of the 14th last Wednesday 17th glad to hear from you and hear that our folks are well and I hope they will remain so but I hope Fathers sholdier is beter. Wee still enjoy good health. Wee have changed our Camp a bout a mile north of our old one in a very pleasant place but we hant got such good quaters we didant have bunks to sleep in last night nor such a good stockade but we will have in to or three dais if we are going to stay hear long but we may move in 2 or 3 days again we cant tell one day what is going to be done the next sence Hokers army has moved if you wanted to see an army move you had ought to ben hear. I have seen a bagage train nearly 50 miles long and a string of infantry a bout 10 miles long and 32 baterys and they all pased clost by our camp I tell you it was a sight to look at. I tell you they is a fight going on somwhare in the diretion of bullrun we hurd it some this morning but we thought it was only a skirmish but it grow heavyer and faster and I tell you the way they are going it now is not slow they is a stedy roar of canon all the while you will probly hear of it in the papers in a day or to I hope that the rebs will get enough out there this time but I cant write much more a bout that. I have hurd news that I am surprised at. I have hurd that you thought of geting mared to a man a bout 40 years old. now Emogene they is one thing I want to have you do that is to take an advice from your Father and Mother and not go to geting mared without your Fathers and Mothers concent you dont know what feelings it will make I hurd that it wored our folks awfully a bout it nowif you think any think of your folks dont get mared yet you are to young you have not seen as many years as Father and Mother has and therefore I want to have you mind them now Emogene take my advice and dont mary without thear concent. I cant write any more this time so good by From your true friend and Brother
E. B. Platt.
Write soon:
yours Truly
from The Civil War Day by Day, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

—Osborn H. Oldroyd, serving in the 20th Ohio Infantry, currently laying siege to Vicksburg, notes in his journal the effect of letters from home, especially from sweethearts and wives:
When notice of this inspection was given, or rather an order to prepare for it, one of our boys remarked, "This must be Sunday;" and he added, "I guess I won’t wait for this inspection,—I’ll take my girl to church." If his girl had been here the whole company would doubtless have wanted to go to church, too. "Though lost to sight, to memory dear." We can talk to the sweet creatures only through the dear letters exchanged; but a love letter brings a very bright smile to a warrior’s face, and the sunshine that prevails in camp after the reading of the mail from home, is quite noticeable. Dear girls, do not stop writing ; write letters that are still longer, for they are the sweetest of war’s amenities, and are the only medicine that has kept life in the veins of many a homesick soldier. When the mail comes I cannot help wishing everybody may get a letter; but alas! some must miss hearing their names read, and oh! the sadness that creeps over them when the last name has been called and the last letter handed out to some one else. They are sadder than if wounded by a bullet. If wounded, a surgeon may prescribe; but what prescription for the failure of a letter from home?*

—William Raleigh Clack, a Rebel soldier in the 43rd Tennessee Volunteers, writes glumly in his journal about the prospects of Vicksburg being relieved by an attack by Gen. Joe Johnston and his army:
June 21 — Another Sabbath morning has rolled around and found us still confined to the neighboring hill of Vicksburg without any better prospects of our deliverance. It is reported that Johns[t]on has attacked the enemy but I doubt it. Sharp shooters are pecking away as usual this morning. Warm firing was kept up all day. WRC*

—Dora Richards Miller, a pseudonym for a Unionist woman in Vicksburg, writes in her diary of the harrowing effects on civilians living in a war zone like Vicksburg:
June 21st, 1863.—I had gone upstairs to-day during the interregnum to enjoy a rest on my bed and read the reliable items in the "Citizen," when a shell burst right outside the window in front of me. Pieces flew in, striking all round me, tearing down masses of plaster that came tumbling over me. When H. rushed in I was crawling out of the plaster, digging it out of my eyes and hair. When he picked up beside my pillow a piece as large as a saucer, I realized my narrow escape. The window-frame began to smoke, and we saw the house was on fire. H. ran for a hatchet and I for water, and we put it out. Another (shell) came crashing near, and I snatched up my comb and brush and ran down here. It has taken all the afternoon to get the plaster out of my hair, for my hands were rather shaky.*

—Confederate troops are moving toward La Forche Crossing in southern Louisiana, and engage the Yankees in skirmished for two days.


—In the developing campaign in central Tennessee, Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland spars with Bragg’s Confederates in the area of Tullahoma, which has been Bragg’s main base for several months.

(* from Daily Observations from the Civil War,

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