These sixteen letters were written by Lieutenant Colonel Clark Swett Edwards (1824-1903), the son of Enoch Edwards (1774-1863) and Abigail McLellan (1779-1843). He wrote the letters to his wife, Maria Antionette (Mason) Edwards (1828-1885).
In 1848, Edwards came to Bethel, Maine, and with Edward Eastman as partner, bought out the trading business of Kimball and Pattee. The store stood where the Ceylon Rowe once stood on the northwest corner of the Common. A year later they moved another building up in line with their store and that of John Harris and finished the three stores into a block under one roof. This string of buildings burned during the Civil War and was later rebuilt. Edwards sold out to Mason and built a store near the “foot of Vernon Street where he traded until 1858 when he sold out.” During these years he also built several houses in various parts of the Bethel Hill village and “in various ways contributed to the growth and prosperity of Bethel Hill”.
When the Civil War broke out, “Mr. Edwards took out recruiting papers and was chosen Captain of the first company organized under his call in the county.” His company, Bethel Rifle Guards, reported to Portland and became Company I, 5th Maine Volunteer Regiment. While the regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, Edwards was promoted to become regimental commander with the rank of colonel. Later he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. Clark Edwards’ term of service ended in 1864 but the regiment went on to serve many major engagements including the Wilderness campaign and was in the siege of Petersburg. It was said of Edwards that he was “unflinching under fire, often led his men into action, and achieved a brilliant record for conspicuous bravery.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
[Not dated but written in the first few days of August 1861]
North Cambridge [Massachusetts]
I am here in camp this showery day. I got into Boston last night at half past seven and expected to have gone through to New York but by order of Capt. McKim, U.S.Q.M., I had to stop here till six o’clock tonight and then shall go through to New York. I have sixteen men in [my] charge and they are rather hard but I think I can get along with them. But some of them have got a little on the beer. I stopped here with the officers that are coming to the post. I got bread and coffee for supper last night and coffee, bread & meat for breakfast.
Saturday evening I left camp at two o’clock & came into Boston, went to the American House & got my trunk & box and then went to the Fall River & Old Colony [Railroad] Depot and stopped till half past five. Then took the cars for New York. Arrived at Fall River [Massachusetts] at ½ past eight, took a state room with an Adjutant of the Maine Eighth Regiment. After getting aboard [the steamer Empire State] and rid of my baggage, I then went below and took supper. I never saw a nicer table set. We had all you could think of to eat. I am now writing in the saloon. It is now past ten o’clock. The boys are all nicely [behaved] but one Irishman who is drunk but he has gone bed. I will close this in the morning so good night. You see I bid you good [night] but I thought I would write a little more. It is now eleven o’clock at night. We are at Newport [Massachusetts] — the boat has stopped for a few moments. All is quiet on the boat. We are now off so I will close this till morning.
Sunday noon. I am still aboard of the Steamer Empire State. We got into New York at 9 o’clock. I then took the boys to a saloon & give them a breakfast. They are all here with me now. We shall stay here till 6 o’clock tonight and then leave for Washington. It is now twelve at noon. It has rained all the morning & expect it snows at your place and is as cold as Greenland. I think of you at home around the stove, perhaps a writing to me. Freeman † is with me. He is not able to do anything so he thought he would take a boat ride to Washington. I shall mail this as soon as I get to the office in town. I shall come back as soon as I can obtain a coffin for private Young. ¹ It will be a hard blow to his wife. I shall come back to this place tonight and go to camp, if possible.
Alexandria is an old looking place. I think it is the oldest place in the state. I was in the room where Washington had his quarters in the days of the Revolution.
The boat is now moving towards Washington — I shall be there in twenty-five minutes. It is a beautiful ride. A lot of people on the boat all talking about the late engagement [1st Bull Run]. I see some of the Maine First Regiment are a going home the first of the week. They have not done much honor to themselves or the state.
Four o’clock. I am now writing this in the War Department at Washington. I am waiting for a pass to get Young’s corpse and two attendants to Portland. This is a beautiful building — hundreds of generals and other persons passing the steps I am writing on. I shall go back on the next boat at five o’clock.
The last letter I got from you was dated 17th [July]. I want you to write two or three a week or if you cannot write, let Kate and Frank write. I must close as it is time to go. Good bye. Kiss the children for me. — C. S. Edwards
Write me all about the folks at Bethel. Tell them I shall be at home this fall if I do not get to far into Virginia. I think I can obtain a pass to Maine in September or October. I will ask Mr. Dunnell in a few days and see what he says about it. Capt. [William A.] Tobie I do not think will ever come here again. His health is very poor. Mr. Tibbets told me yesterday Uncle [Zenas] Thompson ² was Chaplain of the 6th [Maine] Regiment. I hope it is so but I fear [his son] George ³ was killed in the fight at Bull’s Run. I spoke to someone of the Massachusetts 5th that told me that there was a man shot by that name. I cannot write more now but still am waiting for the pass for your husband, — C. S. Edwards
I am almost of out of money. I will close this before I leave. It is now about time to leave. I am in hopes by this time tomorrow to be at camp. It has been one of the longest days I ever saw. I have been a reading about all day. I should like to look in on you at this time. Give my love to all the good people of Bethel. Kiss the little one for me. I will write again as soon as I get to camp. — C. S. Edwards
¹ Charles G. Young was a musician in the 5th Maine Infantry from Portland. He died on 26 July 1861.
² Rev. Zenas Thompson (1804-1882) was a Universalist Minister who served from July 1861 to July 1862 as the Chaplain of the 6th Maine Regiment.
³ Capt. George Washington Thompson (1839-1864) was killed at the Battle of Winchester, Virginia on 19 September 1864. He served as captain of Co. D, 34th Massachusetts Infantry.
† This was probably Charlie Freeman — Capt. Edwards’ thirteen year-old “water boy” who was reportedly taken prisoner at the first battle of Bull Run, incarcerated in Richmond, exchanged, and returned home to Bethel, Maine.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Vernon near Alexandria [Virginia] ¹
Friday Evening, August 30th 1861
I thought I would commence a letter to you tonight. I went to Washington this forenoon with Lieut. [John B.] Walker and got back at four o’clock this afternoon. Lieut. Walker is better today. I got him in a good place in Washington. He will go home as soon as he gets his furlough granted from Headquarters. I got his paper through our Regiment & through the Brigade and through the Department at Alexandria, and then it has to pass through the Department at Washington and he has been expecting it for some days.
Col. [Mark H.] Dunnell [of the 5th Maine Infantry] went home this afternoon or left Washington for home when I was there. I was in hopes John would have went with him. Capt. [William A.] Tobie is in the same fix that John is. I think they will go the first of next week. Monroe is, I think, a little [better]. He is still in the hospital. Tell his wife he is a doing well.
[My servant] Jimmy is now making up the bed. He says he is a going to Bethel with me when I go. Mr. Tibbet has not got along yet. The Maine 7th Regiment is stopping at Baltimore. None of the boys [prisoners] have got back from Richmond. I have not heard from them since I got the letter from W[ashington]. B. Robertson.²
Saturday morning, August 31st. I find myself well this morning after a good night sleep. The sun is up and it is a beautiful morning. It is the last day of summer, I think. One year ago today I finished up haying on the meadow but today I am in very different business and perhaps in one year more — if we should all live — we should be in very different [circumstances] from what we now are. I think if the war should close this winter, I should go West to settle or come to hear and go into business as I think it will be hard getting along in Maine for some years to come. I hope you have got that money from Augusta as I know you need it. Be sure and keep Bill & Bennett Cut [?] paid up and not get a large bill behind.
I am officer of the day today and shall have to be up about all night but I do not see that my work is any more now than it was before the boys were taken sick as they have not done much of late as John has been not fit for duty since [the] Bull Run fight.
It is now two o’clock and as hot as the devil. I have just been to an election of Field Officers. Lieut. Col. [Edwin J.] Ilsley is Col., Major [Samuel C.] Hamilton is Lieut. Col., and the drunken Capt. [Edwin W.] Thompson [of Co. D] is Major. I am very sorry that the election come off as it did. The Field Officers are a drunken set and I think it a doubt if I remain in this regiment if I can get a place in some other regiment, and I think I am not alone in this matter. I have not seen Mon. today but learn he is about the same. Tell his wife if he is worse, she shall know it immediately but I hope he will be well soon.
Sunday morning, September 1, 1861
I received a line from you last night and was very glad to hear from you all. In regard to the stories of Mrs. H. & Mrs. W., I would keep out of them. Monroe & Joe had a jaw the other day about the stories told at Bethel. You write me the report is that [Capt. Emery W.] Sawyer [of Co. F] is hurt in the leg. I do not know that he has been hurt in any way whatever. In regard to me writing in low spirits, I did not know that I did as I never was in better spirits in my life. You write me my life is worth more than thirty-five dollars. I am sure I do not know what you mean by that. You write me the money has been collected at Augusta but do not mention by whom. I do not understand you as I set an order to have it paid to you and not sent here to me as I do not need it here and shall send money home to you as soon as they pay off. I wish you would write me about the money at Augusta or if anyone has got it but you, as it is too much to lose. Explain it more full in your next letter.
In regard to clothes, I ordered a suit from Portland as I expected to go home then but since the Lieut’s have been taken sick, it looks so I should not get home at present. You say Benj. is off all the time recruiting. Is he expecting to come with the Eight Regiment? Who is there in Bethel coming in that regiment?
Write me how you get along without money these hard times. I should like to have you come here to see if you think it best but as I wrote you before, I think it not a place for a woman. I think the one here from Lewiston will prove herself about like the rest that came from Saco. I wrote Mrs. [Cyrus M.] Wormell not to come and it would be a foolish thing for her to come here at this time. Perhaps if you should start to come here we might be down in some other part of Virginia. You know I want to see you all but shall not make a great fuss about it at present. You must know that I think enough of home. I have come into camp some night when I have been out three or four miles after letters when on a picket guard and sat up every night to ten or eleven o’clock to get letters from home.
Tell Frank to look out for the bears as I had an awful time with one when a little boy. He knows the story. He heard me tell Uncle Thompson of it the time he killed his bear. You write me that Eunice is at Paris. What is she a doing there? How do you and Agnes get along now? I hope you will not get into a fight with her as you always get along so well.
John [S.] Wormell is in our company. He come into it some four weeks ago. Jimmie has gone out to see Monroe [and] has not got back yet, I shall not finish this till he comes back. I think I may go to Washington in the morning to see John [Walker]. Tell his folks that he will be on route for home as soon as he gets his papers. Tell Kate that Charles Dunham is here in the camp. He is now a writing home [and] is well. All the boys are as well as usual.
Sunday evening. John [Walker’s] papers has just come to hand. I am glad. I think he may leave tomorrow for home but if I find out they are to pay off, I think he may stop till Wednesday. Jimmy has come in from Alexandria. He tells me he is no better. Does not sit up any but I am inhales he will be well soon, but still it looks a little hard for him.
We got news of Ben Butler’s victory in North Carolina. The boys begin to feel well. They shouted well tonight when the news was read at Dress Parade. They think that will wipe out the Bull Run affair. ³
If John [Walker] comes back in thirty days and I do not leave the regiment, I think I may go home then or the last of October and stop to Thanksgiving. If I cannot go and get along well, and should go into winter quarters here in Alexandria, I would have you come on here and get a house and keep house here this winter and not freeze in Maine. What would you think of that? There are plenty of houses in Alexandria that are well furnished with furniture and I would take possession of one of them. I think you would like this country. Is just warm enough they can raise all kinds of fruits, and the country this side of the Blue Ridge or the Allegheny Mountains is about as broken as it is in the lower part of Cumberland County and some of the most splendid views I ever saw. There is a view of the country near our camp up by Fort Ellsworth or a little back of it by the [illegible], you can see Washington across the Potomac up the river about eight miles, and Alexandria about one mile to the east, and at sunset it would do you good to be there to feed your eyes on the sight.
I am sorry I cannot go home this month. It will be impossible. You need not feel worried about me. I am well and doing well. If I get paid all up, I shall send home some one hundred and fifty or two hundred dollars and if I get paid off before John [Walker] leaves, I shall send it by him to you. Tell your father I want him to put hay enough in the barn for the cow and Dolly. I will write you about getting her home as soon as I find out what I shall do. If I send home any money by John, you keep it to yourself. There is no need of everyone knowing it so to get it all away from you as we may need it all to live on before this war is over.
My health is as good as it ever was — only that hateful cough the same as I have had for the last few years. But I am very fleshy. I weigh one hundred and forty-eight and that is twelve pounds more than I weighed last year at tis time.
I think this country is just the place for me. The climate is just right. I am in hopes of seeing some of the western country before I go to Maine to live again and I think if I stop here through the winter, I shall have you come here so to see how you like it. I think you would like it well as everything is so beautiful — but the women. I have not seen a decent-looking woman since I came through Philadelphia. I saw some very pretty ladies there but they do not look like the pay end of creation here in Virginia. But I expect the best-looking ones have gone further South.
John [Walker] will tell you all about the country and the condition of the regiment. When he comes back, send me some butter and anything else you may think of. He will tell you what I need. I some think that Monroe will have to go home if his shakes continue. He has been growing worse everyday since he was first taken but do not scare his wife about him as it will do no good.
I must now close as I have wrote all I can think to write at this time. Tell Kelly to write if she has learn to spin. Tell Kate to go to school to cross and learn as well as she can. I shall expect she will keep school out West next year if we go there. Tell Wally [Waldo Wallace Edward] & Masey [Ayers Mason Edwards] to be good. Tell them father thinks of [them] every time he sees any little boys. A kiss to you all. — C. S. Edwards
¹ A history of the 5th Maine Infantry states that the camp was “in the rear of Camp Ellsworth, and about three-quarters of a mile from the City of Alexandria.” Joseph Leavitt, a private in the 5th Maine, gave the camp’s location as “Just the First Hill above Hunters creek.” It was while encamped here that Col. Dunnell, the commander of the regiment, resigned and returned home to Maine on the 28th of August, necessitating the election of new field officers.
² Initially the Bethel, Maine, newspapers reported that Washington B. Robertson of Company I, 5th Maine Infantry (from Bethel) was taken prisoner during the Battle of Bull Run. It later turned out that he had deserted.
³ When Joseph Leavitt of the 5th Maine Infantry wrote his father on 8 September 1861 from Camp Vernon, he too indicated that the boys spirits were lifted by the news of Butler’s capture of fortifications on Cape Hatteras. He wrote: “…The Men have heard of Butler’s Victory it has put new Courage into them Since Genl McLellan has been in charge the Soldiers do not hear so much news where they are Agoing too as they did when they was in Genl McDowels Brigade.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
September 18th 1861
[Camp Franklin, Virginia]
I thought I would commence you a letter tonight. I have been out with all of my company a barricading roads. We were near Mt. Vernon and on the Richmond Road. I got my dinner of corn bread and milk at a secesh house. I go into all of the houses _____ when out on duty in the country but it is rather risky business. I presume Del will be at Bethel before you receive this. I sent home a small piece of money by Del. I will write you in a day or two what to do with it.
September 19, 1861
I have just come home from Fort Ellsworth. I have been there with my company to work today. I should have finished this letter last night but was tired and sleepy. I received a letter from you last night. Was glad to hear from home. I was sorry to hear that Wally was sick. Hope he is better before this. You write the diphtheria has broke out in Bethel. I am sorry it has got there as it will run hard there, I am afraid. There was a man in the company next to ours died of the same disease but he was in Alexandria at the time he died. His father lived in Stoneham, Maine. His name is Bucknall.
There was a man in Co. D who had his arm shot off. It was an accident. He had it cut off last night. Something of the kind occurs almost every day. You write that John thinks that Mon is not very sick but I think Monroe has been pretty sick, but is very much better at the present time. I do not know as he will get a pass home till John gets back. It is not so easy a thing to get a furlough for 30 or 60 days as you & the folks of Bethel think. I saw a letter that Mrs. Wormell wrote setting Monrow up for not coming home when he was first taken sick, but he waited till it was too late.
I have commenced this letter three times and will now try to finish it up. In regard to the boys, they are pretty well. Bracken is lame with the rheumatism. Charles Dunham has got well. Joseph B. Hammons is quite slim. I do not think he will stop here long. Daviees is well. I have not heard from any of the boys from Richmond. [Levi W.] Dolloff is quite sick — has had a fever but is now getting better.
If John gets back, I may get home sometime this fall but I cannot [say] when. I have not got any word from Marshall as yet since the letter from W[ashington] B. Robertson. I have never seen Uncle Thompson. He is some eight or ten miles from here.
As for what I want, I can get along without anything but if you are a mind to send a little, it would come very convenient, I bought a little this morning and paid after the rate of 40 cts. a lb. and it was not fit to eat at that.
In regard to the well, if you can get along till I get home, I will have it taken up and sunk deeper and have water let in to the cistern. You write me if you would like to go to Portland with the rest — if you had a man to go with you. I should not think it would trouble you to find men enough in such time. A am sorry that C. Crosby & wife do ….
[Remainder of letter missing]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Addressed to Mrs. C. S. Edwards, Bethel, Maine
Camp Franklin [Virginia]
November 10 
My dear wife,
Yours of November 3rd is at hand. I was very glad to hear from you all and that you were all well. You wrote that Col. Houghton’s muster come off well. I am glad to hear it did. Mon[roe] fill the place of Adj. You wrote that Mon. was coming back last Thursday but he has not got here yet and I doubt if he does come at all. I am glad he has had so good a time but can hardly tell how he could enjoy himself away from the company if he took much interest in it. You write you wish I could come home and stop half as long. I think if Mon. comes in a day or two, I shall be at home in a week or so but cannot tell for certainty yet.
Gen. [Henry W.] Slocum told me this morning that I could go as soon as we went into winter quarters so you may expect me home soon for a few days but shall not stay no two months unless I recruit for the regiment. I have not heard from Marshall as yet but I think he will be released in a few days as there will be an exchange of prisoners in a short time, I think. You ask if the soldiers suffer much. I do not think that they do as they have enough to eat and wear and but little to do. I have but three sick in my company — [Levi W.] Dolloff & [L. D.] Wiley of Gorham [New Hampshire] and Wolf of Rumford & two or three that are half sick. Charles Dunham has got well. The most of the boys are as far as hogs. I am the heaviest I ever was in my life. I weigh 154 lbs. so you see that I am not very sick unless I am a bloating up on Va. whiskey.
You ask if I ever get a southern paper. I do not. No news yet but one or two and that was when we went to Bull’s Run and lost them. I sent you a Baltimore paper a few days ago and will send more this week.
You write that Truman has got a sight a Washington. I hope he has but do not believe it. You ask where are the Bida___ girls; one went home about two months ago, the other one I think is in Alexandria. The Mrs. Steward of Lewiston is also in Alexandria. She is no better now than the rest that come. They keep house there, I understand. I have not seen with er of them since they left. It is death to any woman to go into the jammy. In regard to D. N. Scribner, I do not know where he is. I do not think he is at Washington. I just got your letter of November 6th. Am glad to hear you are all well.
You write that Mon[roe] has not started yet. I did not believe he would when I got your last nor do I ever believe he will come back again but will keep off as long as he can and get pay.
Last night a carriage drove up to the tent next to ours and the camp thought it was Mon[roe] and gave three groans but when they found it wasn’t him, they give three cheers. So you can see they do not want him back. As far as sickness, I think he will get over it. He may come on with the 11th Regiment as it will cost him nothing. If he comes, I think it will be for his pay. As for his pay, no one can draw it but himself but it had ought to be divided among the boys. We was not paid off till Friday night.
I do not know how you should know so soon I wrote Charles yesterday and if I do not go home, I shall write him again in a few days. You write me you do not want me to deprive myself of any of the comforts of life. I do not. I have all I need and I want you to have the same. My pay is enough so we can live decently and I am bound not to go hungry if I can help it. Some time I cannot get everything nice but as a general thing I have enough to eat. I am glad you let your Father have the money if he needed it as I was owing it to him. I have now about two hundred dollars which I shall send home in a few days if I do not go. Tell Uncle Johnny I will pay him some as soon as I get home or if I do not do, you may pay him fifteen or twenty dollars and have it endorsed on his note or have one of the boys do it. But if Mon[roe] comes this week, I shall leave the first of next for home so to be there at Thanksgiving. I shall want the old rooster killed or the fatted calf or something of the kind. But do not put too much dependence on it but if all is quiet in camp and no prospect of a fight and everything else right, I shall be there. And if Mon[roe] does not come this week, he will lose his place in the company, that’s sure.
I am Field Officer of the Day and have to go the grand rounds tonight. I have to fill that place once or twice a week. I get along as well as anyone in the regiment. I have been on some of the most important committees in the brigade but there I will not write anymore about myself. It is, I think, something like Mon writing home.
I have just been to supper. Did not have much to eat — tea, toasted bread, butter, honey & soda bread. But I can fat up on that. I am now a writing in my tent without fire but it is pretty cold. I expected to have a stone today but have got disappointed of it. Our tents are getting cold these cold nights and it is a growing colder but pleasant today. I am now a writing with my overcoat on and am cold at that. If I go home, I will see to having all the wood cut and sawed up for winter so you need not hire it hauled at present as I can get it done without much money.
I must close this as it is cold and I am getting cold with it. Our regiment was paid off on Friday. The boys are now having a great time a getting drunk but Co. I is steady so far. It is the best company in the regiment and the best behaved one too. It is all owing to the good example set by their officers. You may think that gass — but it is true. And one thing the boys do not dare to get drunk. I will finish this in the morning so good night.
Sunday evening. I thought I would close this tonight as I have but little time in the morning to write. It is Sunday evening but you would not think it — from fifty to a hundred drunk in one camp but none of them belong to Company I. Our company has kept sober so far.
I expect you would like to know how I keep myself in camp & wash myself all over quite often. I never took so much pains to keep clean. I have never found any of the varmints in my hair yet but I only found one on my shirt once. So you not fear about me in that respect, I sleep in sheets every night and have for the last three months. Dr. Warren’s wife give Del and me three pairs when he was here so Jimmy makes up a good bed. I have a pillow I brought from the Old School Building in Portland. I must close. Good night, — C. S. Edwards
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Addressed to Mrs. C. S. Edwards, Bethel, Maine
November 12 
I thought I would commence a letter tonight as I have a good warm stove to sit by. I set up ours this morning. It is a small sheet [of] iron ore with an oven in it. We had biscuit baked in it tonight. That was nice. Tomorrow we are to bake some mince pies so you see we are bound to live. If I am not at home on Thanksgiving Day, I shall buy a turkey and cook it myself for dinner but I am in hopes of going home the first of the week. I should went before now if [1st Lt. Cyrus M.] Wormell had been here but he does not make his appearance as yet and I think it will be too late now if he does come. It is known here that he is not sick — only at home on a time and to shirk duty and that thing is about played out here in this regiment. I did have a good deal of feeling for Wormell when he was sick but always knew he was not so very sick after all. But to have him away from the company four months – or nearly that. He has not been with the company but a very little since the twenty-first of July and finally he never done but little. But I think his days are numbered but few in this regiment. But there, I say no more about him.
It has been a beautiful day — something like September weather in Maine. The moon shines beautifully tonight. The band are playing all the regiment around but the Maine 5th can beat the best of them. Last night there were four bands went into the 26th New York Regiment and serenaded Col. [William H.] Christian ¹ as he went to Pennsylvania and got married a day or two ago. We had a nice time; I think better than the Colonel had. But I cannot tell how good a time he had after we left but I presume a good one.
On Thursday [November 14, 1861], we are to have a great review. McClellan and old Abe is to be here.² We will have a grand time.
Wednesday morning. It’s a beautiful day. It looks as the morning does in Maine the first part of September. We are a going on Brigade Review today and tomorrow we are to have a grand review of the whole Division.
Thursday morning. A beautiful day has commenced. We had a nice time yesterday. About 12,000 troops at review. Today we expect 20,000 troops at least. McClellan is to be here and Abe [too] we expect. The boys are in high life [and] are to have a nice time today. They are now just going on dress parade. John has just gone out with them while I close this in a hurry. I will write you again on Sunday. Mon has not made his appearance yet and I think he is too late to hold his place if he comes now. But he ought not to blame anyone but himself. Perhaps I shall be at home next week. Shall if I can get away. I am in a great hurry and cannot [write] more at this time. Excuse this letter as I have wrote at three or four different times. Love to all.
Yours, — C. S. Edwards
¹ William Henry Christian was colonel of the 26th New York Regiment. He was married to Mary Timmerman on 6 November 1861 and the couple took up residence together at Fort Lyon in the defenses of Washington D.C. where his regiment was drilling and encamped for the winter. Sadly, the colonel failed to display courage under fire at both the battles of Second Bull Run (which he avoided) and Antietam (where he ran). These incidents resulted in the disrespect of his men and his resignation from the service in September 1862. The shame that he carried haunted him for the remainder of his life and caused him to have a mental breakdown and his wife had him institutionalized.
² The grand review of troops expected on 14 November 1861 did not take place until 20 November 1861. Perhaps the review did not occur on the 14th because George McClellan attended a wedding on the evening of the 13th and when he returned to his Washington D. C. residence after an evening of merry-making, he was told that Lincoln, in company with Secretary Seward, and John Hay, had been waiting to speak with him for over an hour in his parlor. The general “snubbed” the president and went to bed without so much as even acknowledging the presence of his visitors. The grand review on November 20th occurred between Munson’s Hill and Bailey’s Crossroads; both McClellan and the President attended on that occasion.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
[Aboard steamer John Brooks enroute from Newport News to Alexandria, Virginia. Departed Newport News on 23 August 1862. Arrived Alexandria on 26 August 1862.]
[August 26, 1862]
…but little to eat or only what we picked up on the route. I suppose you would like to know when I shall be at home. That I cannot tell you as things are now standing but shall go as soon as we get into camp once more or settle down.
Ten o’clock. We are now passing Mt. Vernon. I always feel different when in sight of that place. Just above here on the right hand side of the river is Fort Washington — a fine piece of masonry as it is built of brick and granite. We shall soon be at the wharf at Alexandria.
John [Walker] is now with us. He joined us at Newport News. He is quite smart now. I hope he may remain so. Sim has gone to New York on one of the hospital boats. I got him off with the sick at Harrison’s Landing. When I go home, I shall hunt him up and take him along with me to Maine.
We are now passing the fort. The band is playing Yankee Doodle. Our boat runs within a few rods of the shore so that I could speak with those on the wharf. It is all excitement now on board as we are once more in sight of the Capitol of the Nation at Washington.
I received two letters from you just before we left Newport News but I have no time now to look them over to answer them but will as soon as we get settled down once more. I shall mail this at Alexandria as soon as I get ashore. I cannot write more now as I have got to get ready to leave the boat.
So good bye. — C. E.
In this letter written a week after the Battle of Antietam, Edwards informs his wife of changes in the command structure of Franklin’s Corps and also of his effort to collect the personal effects of Lt. [Harlow P.] Brown (1839-1862) of Co. I, 7th Maine who was killed during the Battle of Antietam and whose body was retrieved and buried about 1½ miles from the battlefield on 17 September 1862. Lt. Brown was also from Bethel, Maine, and was educated at Bowdoin College. He was the son of David F. Brown (1812-1883) and Nancy C. Richardson (1813-1883).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Thursday, September 25th 1862
Near Bakersville [Maryland]
My Dear Wife,
I just sent you another letter but receive none from you. We do not get any mail of late but are in hope of getting one today. It is now eleven o’clock A.M. and all is quiet in camp. Our Corps in here — that is Slocum’s Division & Smith’s, and Couch’s Division is — or has been — temporarily attached to our corps. Our Division — that is Slocum’s — consists of the Gen’l [John] Newton Brigade 1st, [Joseph J.] Bartlett Brigade 2nd, and [Alfred T. A.] Torbert or Old ____ Brigade, 3rd. It is now Bartlett’s Brigade, Slocum’s Division, and Franklin’s Corps. I thought I would write you so you would understand in reading the papers — also in directing my letters.
I went into the 7th Maine yesterday to look after the little traps of Lieut. Brown. All I found was but a few dollars worth as he had on his sword, pistol belt, and finally all of his uniform. I now have his carpet bag which I will send his father the first opportunity. He lays now within one and a half miles of the late [Antietam] battlefield, but I do not want to visit it again as I have seen enough of it.
The Colonel is going to Washington in a day or two for fifteen days leave of absence. He is sick and I do not wonder at it as he is full of liquor all the time.¹
Saturday morning, September 27
We are still at the old ground, or at least I call it so as this is the fourth day we have been here, but we are expecting to go to Hagerstown today which is about ten miles from here. It is said to be a fine place. We have not any mail as yet since I last wrote you but are in hopes of getting one sometime.
I have nothing new to write this morning. All is quiet here in camp. The boys from Bethel are all well. The Colonel has not left as yet but will leave soon. The mail is now of so good news. — C. S. E.
¹ The Colonel of the 5th Maine at that time was Nathaniel James Jackson (1818-1892) and was generally disliked by his men.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
Addressed to Mrs. C. S. Edwards, Bethel, Maine
Sunday Morning, November 23rd 1862
My Dear Wife,
Yours of November 9th found us all well and at the camp I last wrote from near the court house, but the order is to be ready for another move. But I do not think we shall move at present as the roads are so bad and but little prospect of them being better at present. You say you watch the move of our army but see no act of our corps in the move. The name of the corps are changed so often that it is almost impossible to keep the run of them. We are on the extreme left of the left Grand Army — so called — and are in Bartlett Brigade, Brooks Division, Smith Corps, and Franklin Grand Army or Corps, as the army is now in three Grand Corps. One [is] commanded by Sumner, one by Hooker, and one by Franklin. So in directing your letters, all you may put on in Franklin Corps.
You ask me if my commission is received. I would say that it is but perhaps I do not feel as much puffed up as some would. My commission is dated from September 24 so you see I have or shall draw pay from that time. You say you hope we will not have a drunk over our commission. I do not know how it will be with others, but are very sure that I shall not have one.
You speak of my clothes being sent to me by Lee or by Express. I hope they may come soon as I am in need of them. I have been expecting Charles here for some days but I presume he will not come as it is a great undertaking to come to this army.
You asked me where James is. That I cannot tell you. I have not heard of him since he was at Bethel last winter. You speak of his lawyer as being good for a time. I am glad to hear it. I hope Lee will come back before I go home so she can get a little recruited by that time. So she can do a little, I will have to pay her what she has lent you from Lee. You speak of More as the same as ever. I am glad to hear he’s doing well. I am also glad his wife is all right. I received a letter from Mr. Wormell the last mail requesting me to send John his descriptive list. I sent him one soon as we got to Alexandria and Capt. [John B.] Walker has sent him one or two since. That is, have sent the surgeon of the hospital the list. We cannot send him the papers he asked for it is against our order issued from the mail department. Capt. Walker just told me he sent a set of papers to Judge Freeze, A. A. Gen’l at Philadelphia for John according to orders from that department so the old man will have to wait till the papers come in turn as there is a good deal of red tape about the matter. You can tell him how it is if you please.
It is now about noon and it is not very warm, but I have a fire in front of my tent which makes it quite comfortable. Dr. [Benjamin F.] Buxton ¹ is a mending his coat & Warren a writing so you see we pay but little regard to the Sabbath. The boys in camp are fixing up a little for winter but I am afraid it will be move as soon as we can or as soon as the road will permit. I sent Lieut. [Harlow P.] Brown’s carpet bag ² to Maine yesterday by Capt. [B.] Spillen of Mechanic Falls so you can tell or send word to his father of the facts. I still have his commission as one of his men found it in one of the company books. I will send it to you with my own within a day or two if I do not conclude to go myself.
I expect you are still in hopes I will come but it is quite uncertain. If there is to be an active winter campaign, I think I shall not get away but if we go into camp to lay all winter, I shall resign. You may think I am foolish in the way I talk, but I had rather work than lay still. I want to see this thing drove through. If we go into camp now for the winter, what will that three hundred thousand men of nine months do by the time we can move in the spring. Why they will be discharged.
An order just come in that we move at eight in the morning but I cannot see where we go unless it is to give the Rebels fight across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg. But it may only be to change camp. I am in hope it will only be a short distance.
Monday morning. We are still in camp. Our move was only an inspection. It is now eleven o’clock and a beautiful day. I can tell you all is quiet since the boys got in off inspecting. Gen. [William Thomas Harbaugh] Brooks inspected us. He is a Brick as the boys say — a tough old fellow but a fine soldier. We have not received any mail of late so I have no more letters to answer. I sent you that gold ring that I wrote you about. I hope you will receive it all safe as it is a very nice thing. I have not been paid yet but think we shall by this week. I will send you a little more money by some one if I do not go myself. I shall not have but little to send as I have got to fit up new if I stay in the show. Also I am owing a large amount of borrowed money now. The next pay I get after this I shall pay on the mortgage. I want you to put on the Day Book all I have sent home from the beginning. Also charge all.
¹ Dr. Benjamin F. Buxton was the surgeon of the 5th Connecticut. Rather than desert the wounded men of his regiment at Bull Run, he accepted capture by the Confederates. After his parole, he participated in several battles including Crampton’s Gap, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
² Lt. [Harlow P.] Brown (1839-1862) of Co. I, 7th Maine was killed during the Battle of Antietam. His body was retrieved and buried about 1½ miles from the battlefield on 17 September 1862. Lt. Brown was also from Bethel, Maine, and was educated at Bowdoin College. He was the son of David F. Brown (1812-1883) and Nancy C. Richardson (1813-1883).
In this letter, Edwards informs his wife that a soldier in his command named Rufus Crockett Penley (1843-1862) of Company I has died of consumption.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
Addressed to Mrs. C. S. Edwards, Bethel, Maine
Camp 5th Maine Volunteers
Near White Oak Church ¹
Sunday afternoon, December 28th 1862
My Dear Wife,
As I am alone and quiet, I thought I would write you. However, I have wrote since I received one from you. We are as you see in our camp I last wrote you from. I am well and in good spirits as good be expected after our late fight [Battle of Fredericksburg].
I will now write you the news of the camp. [Rufus Crockett] Penley of my old company died this morning of consumption here in our camp hospital. He was a fellow I enlisted in Portland when at Camp Preble. The poor fellow sent for me to come and see him a few moments before he breathed his last. He thanked me for my kindness to him while under my command and requested me to see that his folks received the pay due him from government. I took him by the hand and bid him a last farewell. It caused a tear to dim my sight but such is life. I think he has gone to a happier land than this. The poor man should have gone to his home in Portland months ago but this red tape and want of promptness of actions is fatal in many cases. I sometimes feel that great injustice is done to the poor soldiers in holding them when the surgeon knows he will never be of service to the government but it is the same as everything else. There is a lack in almost every department of energy. I have yet some discharged from Co. I since I left it and am making an effort for others which I hope will be successful. I feel sad at heart when I look back on my old company and think of what it once was but few are now in it that once filled its ranks. Some are discharged for disability; others are now sick in hospitals around Washington; some in convalescent camps; while others have gone to their last resting places among the dead. It is anything but pleasant for me to look back and I almost shudder when I look or reflect on the future. But I must drop this and look on the brought side.
[My brother] Bryce is about the same. Dan [Martin] Sternes is better.² Dan does not complain but I see he is far from well. He looks twenty years older than he did when he left Maine. Capt. [John B.] Walker is well but he says he shall resign in a few days. Sergeant [Washington F.] Brown is well but feels bad because he is not made a Lieutenant. The clever fellow is still sick in hospital. I have been to the chaplain’s services today in this — also the 27th New York. We had a fine meeting in both as it is very pleasant in the middle of the day in the open air.
Sunday evening. I have just come off dress parade. It is now twilight. I hear the sound of hundreds of axes as the poor soldiers is fitting his fuel for the night. I presume the landholders — if here — would say. “Woodman, spare the tree.” Thousands of acres of beautiful oak and pine has already fell before the axes of our poor fellows. It takes a great amount of timber for the boys to fit up their tents with and then they are not very saving of that they burn. Some have fitted up quite nice for winter.
I expect you want to know if I have yet received my clothes but I can say as I did in my last that I have not and but little prospect of getting them very soon. I fear they will be out of fashion before they will reach me but the Sanitary Department is now furnishing me with underclothes.
Say to Lee Lawrence that we shall send someone after him and the rest that went home to recruit. I hope his wife will get all she needs in the way of ——-ing. I wrote you all the war news in my last so shall say nothing in this. I expect the people of Bethel will think I am turning in politics by some of my letters but I think I am the same as ever. I never was a negro worshipper nor hardly think I will be at present.
My regards to all, — C. S. E.
¹ White Oak Church was north of the Rappahannock River about four miles from Fredericksburg, Virginia. The fifth Main went into winter quarters at White Oak Church on 19 December 1862.
² Daniel Martin Steans (1839-1922) was from Bethel, Maine. He was the son of Phineas and Betsey (Martin) Stearns. Dan was wounded at Antietam in September 1862, taking a bullet in the hip that was not extracted from his body for twenty years. The bullet is on display in an exhibit at the Bethel Historical Society as is the dress uniform of Clark S. Edwards.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Near White Oak Church, Virginia
January 3rd 1863
My Dear Wife,
As I am at leisure, I thought I would commence a letter to you although I sent one last night. I do not know as I can write much of interest. I expect you are all aware the 5th Maine is on their way home — or at least the New York papers and some of the Maine ones say so. But we do not see it as the boys say.
It is one of the loveliest days I ever saw. The sun is as warm as summer but the nights are cold and the ground freezes quite hard. I am now a going to ride and will close this at some other time.
Saturday evening. I have just come from a ride from the picket line. I had a nice ride and a fine time with Col. [Hiram] Burnham ¹ of the 6th Maine as he was on picket. He gave me an account of the immortal 7th [Maine]. He told me — of which I have always heard — that the fight at Antietam was all they [the 6th Maine] ever saw. I like Burnham much. He is a good working man but no fancy soldier.
I wrote you yesterday all the news so have nothing to write you in this of interest. I have not yet received that awful box that has caused so much trouble and I do not know as [it] ever will turn up. But as it has left Maine, I think I will find it sometime. The little scarf you sent in your last letter is all the clothing I have yet received. I thank you for it but should much rather have your arms around my neck than that.
I think if I cannot get leave of absence to go to Maine, I shall try for one to Washington. If so, I will send my trunk by Express to you as there is something in it of value to you & the children. I will write to the children in this so goodbye.
Yours, — C. S. Edwards
¹ Hiram Burnham (1814 – September 29, 1864) was an officer in the Union Army who commanded a regiment and then a brigade in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. He was killed in battle while assaulting Confederate positions near Richmond, Virginia, during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm. Hiram Burnham was born in Narraguagus, later Cherryfield, Maine, in 1814. He formed and led a militia company as its captain in the Aroostook War of 1839. He subsequently worked as a lumberman and owned a sawmill. Active in local politics, he held public office as a county commissioner and a coroner. Burnham is described as a burly man with a strong voice, able to make himself heard on a battlefield. Early in the war Burnham became lieutenant colonel of the 6th Maine Infantry on July 16, 1861. He was promoted to the rank of colonel on December 12 of that year. He served with the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsula Campaign, starting out in Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock’s brigade in a division of the IV Corps under Brig. Gen. William F. Smith. This division later became part of the VI Corps. At the Battle of Crampton’s Gap and the Battle of Antietam, Burnham led his regiment in the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, VI Corps under Hancock. He led the same regiment under Brig. Gen. Calvin E. Pratt at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where the brigade was only lightly engaged.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
This letter was datelined 9 January 1862 but it was clearly 9 January 1863 instead.
Camp 5th Maine Volunteers
Near White Oak Church, Va.
January 9th 1862 
My Dear Wife,
Yours of January 1st was received yesterday. I was glad to hear you are all well and getting along so nicely. In regard to my fall you spoke of in yours, was but little importance as I was all right the next day — only a little bruise on my cheek done by the horse’s head. But it did not show only a day or two. The extract you sent cut from the paper was a hoax as we have not heard anything about the matter here — only by the papers. I am sorry the children should be disappointed in not seeing me at the time but this world is full of disappointments.
In regard to the clothes, I do not blame you in the least but I did feel that someone had neglected the matter. In regard to sending anything by Kimball, I think you had better not as I do not believe he will come here at all as no one ever finds the 5th Maine that comes for them and I think you had better not send anything — only by mail as that is all the only way anything comes to me and I am now better off than you at home.
In regard to [1st Lt.] Cyrus M. Wormell, he has not gained much credit as yet and I do not believe he will in this war as he is out of harm’s way when the fight takes place as he was at Antietam & South Mountain.
In regard to Lou Sawyer, I think he will soon be on his way here. If I do not go to Maine myself, I shall order all here that is there that belong to the regiment so his wife will have to make the best of it while she can. I hope you and Kate will get religion as you say. There is another revival in the village but R thought all got religion under old — well, I cannot think of his name. You know, the howler there last winter. Wormell’s letter I gave to Walker to answer as it was his business, not mine, and also the order he gave to write not in a very gentlemanly way. I am not used to taking orders from such a source of late.
I hope you will have a good time at W., as you speak of going. You ask what the matter with Bryce. I cannot tell, only the exposure & summer complaint. The boys are all as well as usual. You say Kate goes to the District School. I hope she will do well and be steady. Tell Miss King that I heard Towle had gone into the Confederate Army and has got a wife out there — a secesh — so she can hang up her fiddle.
In regard to Co. I, a Lt. was put in and one taken out and put into Co. C so it makes an even thing. But poor Brown — Wash I mean — has not got a commission yet, but I shall get him commissioned soon.
In regard to being paid off, I only got part of my pay but shall get paid again within two weeks and then I am in hopes of saving two or three hundred dollars and shall take it home with me if I go.
I am glad to hear your father is doing so well this winter. Will could make more here in one day than he can there in a month. One of my boys paid twelve dollars for a barrel of apples & sold it out and cleared fifteen on it. So can tell them that apples is worth twenty-seven dollars per barrel. He was not more than one hour in doing it. Why good apples sell for eight cents apiece. Frank could make three dollars per day selling paper here in camp as they sell readily for ten cents apiece.
I must now go to dress parade. Will close this after. Friday Evening. I have just come off parade. We had a very fine one. The chaplain made a fine prayer at the close. He spoke of your humble servant in high times. I have but little news to write. Surgeon [Benjamin F.] Buxton has resigned and four more resigned but afterwards withdrew their papers. Capt. W. is one of them. I am well and have got everything my own way. I don’t care much about being Colonel. What does Mon say about my promotion or what is said anyway.
The Post Master is now waiting. So goodbye. I will write again Sunday.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Head Quarters 5th Maine Vol.
Camp near White Oak Church, Va.
January 26th 
My Dear Wife,
It is now eleven o’clock at night but I thought I would commence a letter as I am alone and quiet. I put in my papers tonight for a leave but do not know how it will turn out as I hear all the leading Generals are a leaving and there will be no one for a few days to grant leaves. If it be true that there is to be another change in our commander, it will be hard for anyone to leave at present.
Tuesday morn. I have just heard that Burnside, Sumner, & Franklin have been relieved from their commands. If so, I hardly see what we are coming to but perhaps it is all for the best. In looking over the Dr. note, I find one word I do not take well. It does not exactly suit. One of his remarks is this — that “I trust you will be loyal and hopeful.” Now I want to know if there is anyone that doubts my loyalty. Is there a person that would sacrifice all the comforts of a good home and expose himself in as many fights as I have done and have gone through with as much and not shone the white feather before this? I do not think the Dr. thought harm, but still such language had better be applied to those who ought to bare it. I am ready to do anything within my power to restore the Union. Our two last moves I felt to be out of place & out of season &c., but not a man under me ever heard a murmur or complaint against the move and I have always been ready to reprimand all officers under me where I heard a complaint against the government. I know I have wrote you some things against the powers at Washington for removing Little Mac, and now I think they done wrong. But not an enlisted man ever heard me complain of it.
I will drop that subject now and write something else. Today it rains quite fast but is warmer. We have a plenty of mud but no snow since we left Stafford Court House but then I should prefer snow to rain anyway. Yesterday our Regiment were out under arms to receive our old Gen’l [Henry Warner] Slocum. He made us a short call. He is one of the best generals in the army. If Franklin leaves — which we hear he has — we hope that Gen. Slocum will get his place as he is deserving of it. He told me that [Col. Nathaniel James] Jackson did not get along very well with his Brigade and has but three small regiments so you can see he is not getting along very fast.
I expect you are in need of some money at this time. I give you an idea of what I have now on hand and what is due me. My last pay was a little rising six hundred dollars as I was paid for four months. I took a check on the U. States Treasury at New York for five hundred dollars payable to your order so if I should get killed or drop off suddenly, you could draw it at once. That I thought it best to keep till I went home or if I could not go I shall send it to you soon & you can exchange it in Portland and get some forty dollars premium. The government is now owing me about five hundred more — one thousand now due me — which will pay up that mortgage. I also have one good horse that is worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars and one that is not worth much that I ride on the moves. I have two saddles worth thirty dollars, one pair of revolvers with fifty dollars, and my clothing, belts, swords, ____ and others is worth at least one hundred dollars more. So if I should go now, I could take home thirteen hundred dollars or its value, but this I want you to keep to yourself. I have saved every dollar that I could and I think but few officers have done better.
I have just heard that my papers have been approved at Div. Head Quarters and I think I may get away soon — perhaps soon after this reaches you. All is now quiet here in camp. The boys are all as well as usual. Bryce, I think, is still at Washington unless he has gone home. Regards to all. — C. S. E.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN
Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps
Camp near Welford’s Ford, Va.
December 6th 1863
As it is Sunday evening and nothing doing in camp, I thought I must write you again. I wrote to you in my last that we were under marching orders and I thought we would fall back, but it seems that Lee only was trying to find out our positions and but a small force of his crossed at the U.S. Ford on a reconnoitering. Part of the Army Headquarters did move yesterday afternoon but it seems they were more scared than hurt. I am still in command of the brigade but will be relieved sometime this week.
I see the Maine papers copy the little incidents that the Dr. took from my letters pretty extensively. I see the greater portion of it in the Lewiston Journal.
I have been to ride this afternoon. I was to see Capt. C. M. W.N. I had a pleasant call. Stop with him to supper & had boil stake, new potatoes, butter, coffee, flour bread, preserves, peach &c. He was very glad to see me. I saw the Lt, Melvin Kimball. He is well. I did not see Melly F. as he was out in the company but he is well you can say to his sisters. I do not find any of them quite as well as for camp as myself. I have not seen so comfortable a tent in the army as my own. Neil has no floor & a poor rock fireplace. I have a good bed to sleep in with snow white sheet, nice pillow &c, but there I will not say more as you will feel homesick.
I send you two memorials — one of Company K and one of H. I am in hopes to obtain one of each company and if so, I will have them framed. Those two were given me by the commander of the companies. You can show them to who you please, but do not let them get soiled. My adjutant is getting up one of all the Field & Staff of the regiment. You can see the number of battles we have had a hand in & the one at Locust Grove still to be added. I do not believe that there is another regiment in the army that has been in as many fights. I hope we will not have to see many more. If so, there will be none left. I feel that I have seen about fighting enough and am now willing to retire to private life. I know you are wishing to see me one peg higher but it will take some political influence to bring that about. But one thing sure, I will never be beholden to anyone at home for a promotion in the army. I know I have done enough to have a star, but there is to many Big men sons in the army for me to rise higher. I still see puff in the eastern papers for myself, some in the Bangor papers [and] also in the Massachusetts papers, but they will do now if I get no more. I presume you see a great many but not all.
I now think of trying to get a leave of absence — the first of next week. If so, I will be at home both at Christmas & New Years. What do you want me to bring you home in the shape of goods? Write as soon as you receive this. I shall not have much money to spend so do not call too loud. I will stop I think about twenty days at home. I am quite sure I shall get away at that time, but do not be too sure of my coming. If I knew I would get the regiment home, I would wait till then. But it looks a little doubtful about it going till the time is out. I shall go to the 17th Maine tomorrow — also to the 3rd & 4th [Maine] to see some others. I have some money due me from some of the boys. __iston, I think, is in the 3rd Maine and Frank Berry is in the 17th. It is a rather hard sight to get anything off such ones.
I have got clothes enough for the present, as you asked me what I needed in one of your last. I have not bought much this fall yet. I paid fifteen dollars for a pair of boots a few days ago. I had a fine pair of gloves given me by the sutler. They cost six dollars. I can buy all I need here better than you can at home. I do not know what I have wrote as there is ___ asking questions.
My regards to all my old friends. Yours in haste, — Clark
The next two letters were written by Col. Edwards in mid-March 1864 while wintering in northern Virginia on the property of John Minor Botts at Wellford’s Ford of the Hazel River. Edwards was Colonel of the 5th Maine which was brigaded with the 121st New York (Col. Egbert Olcott), and the 95th and 96th Pennsylvania in Col. Emory Upton’s 2nd Brigade, in General Horatio Wright’s First Division of General John Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps. Though Col. Edwards had only ninety days left to serve, it would be a wild ride as the army was just about to launch the Overland Campaign that would push Lee’s army back into the trenches around Richmond and Petersburg.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOURTEEN
Headquarters 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Corps
March 13th 1864
Yours of the 8th was received last evening, of which I was glad to get hold of. I have been very uneasy about you till yours came and it has relieved me or my mind a great anxiety. I saw Capt. G____ today. He had heard from his wife since her return to Michigan. She is all right. The Capt. stays here much of the time.
I presume you now want to know what is going on in camp. Friday I was Corps. Officer of the Day. I had quite a chat with Gen. Sedgwick. I had a very muddy time on the line but got through it all safe. Yesterday I went to Corps #20 in the morning and in the afternoon to Brandy Station and bought me a nice saddle and other fixings. I paid fifteen dollars for what I got. The saddle is the best in the Corps. When I got back, I found Judge [William W.] Campbell, Ex. Rep. to Congress from New York. He is father of Capt. [Douglas] Campbell of the 121 New York Regiment. I took dinner with him at Brigade Headquarters and had a fine time till eve.
I then went to a house warming at Levey [?] as he has got into his new house. He had the string music from the band. The party was made up of the following: Dr. [Francis S.] Warren & wife, Capt. Walker & wife, L. M. Henderson & wife, Capt. Ladd & wife, Mr. Stone & wife, Col. Carroll & wife, your humble servant and a few others. We had for a treat egg nog, four or five kinds cake, nuts, apples, oysters &c. We staid till near eleven o’clock. We danced a little, talked, &c. Mrs. Stone was taken sick the first of the eve and was carried down home on the stretchers. The report says she met with a mishap & guess it was so fast enough.
This morning I invited the Judge, Capt. Hall, & Adj. Morse, Dr. [Francis S.] Warren & wife, Q. M. & wife to dine with me at my tent and they were all here sure hell. I will now give you the Bill of Fare at Edward’s Headquarters on Sunday, March 13th. First dish oysters stew done up B____ waters & soda crackers. 2nd dish, with change of plates, Roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, butter, pickles, onions, white loaf bread. Third dish, change of plates, custard pudding, cause, doe nuts, round cakes, cheese. 4th dish, mince pie & fruit ___ apples, &c. So you see we had a fine dinner or about as good as the old Judge would get at home. We had dinner at half past three, chatted till half past four. I then had Brig. Inspection & Dress Parade. After this was over, I with my staff accompanied the Judge through the Regt. of this Brig. He was much delighted with the whole performance.
Adj. Richards of Gen. [Joseph Jackson] Bartlett’s staff was here today. They are expecting a great party this week — a Wednesday night. I send you the card of invitation. They say it will cost him some two hundred dollars (so much for a big time). The ladies of this Brig. are going. Capt. Walker & wife will leave for Maine this week on Thursday. Also Dr. Warren & wife goes the same day, the morning after the ball. Mrs. F. will stay a few days longer — also Mrs. Ladd. But the order is in camp for them to leave, but they don’t see it.
I received a letter from Kate last evening of which I will send you. Also the collar which was inclosed in the same. Mrs. Carroll & Lesie will also remain till after the ball. I have wrote all the news I think of in camp, only would say that the chaplain had his chapel dedicated this afternoon but I did not attend.
I am in good condition — only broke out slightly with the itch. ___ but how in the devil be I to get rid of it. I want you to send out a box of itch ointment by someone. Do not let them know what it is. [1st Lt.] Cyrus M. Wormell will fetch it in some little bundle. I presume you will have to get some for Frank.
Did you carry of the badge that was on my hat, as I have not seen it since you left. I think I may go to Gen’l Bartlett’s dance but am not greatly taken up with the idea as half the company will be drunk. Buckle has left for Maine. You asked me to tell you who rides. Mrs. Walker, Fenderson & Ladd. Mrs. Warren has sent to Alexandria after her D___ [?] Capt. Daniel’s wife come tonight. I heard that Col. Upton is to leave this Brig. If so, I shall get it, or at least I think so. I have spent the fifty you left me and am now out of money but will get paid off soon again.
My respects to all. Love to Aunt. Kiss the little one for me. (Send Wall___ by Express). — Clark
Edwards mentions three of his children in this letter: Charles Frank Edwards (1851-1884), Ellen (“Nell”) Maria Edwards (1853-1924), and Ayers Mason (Mosey”) Edwards (1857-1910).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTEEN
Headquarters 2nd Brigade [First Division]
March 18th 1864
Yours of the 14th was received tonight and glad was I to hear you all are doing well. You say you presume I stay at Brigade Headquarters the most of the time. I would say that I do not. I date my letters from Brig. Headquarters as in fact wherever my quarters are is Brig. Headquarters as I am in command of the same. I stay down to the house but little part of the time as I like better here. I give up my room there to company.
You speak in this as so I stop three years longer. I do not understand you as I told you in all of my letters that I should only stay my time out but still you always speak as if were to stay in the service. I presume I could stay away from home if you think best but I have but little idea of remaining in the army.
You speak of Frank being sick. I am sorry as I wanted him at school and then he was so fat when he went home. I told him I should charge you for what he gained here but he could not see it. You say you think I forgot little Mosie. I think I wrote a little of the letter to him, did I not? Say to him to be a good boy and study his book and I will bring him home something pretty,
You ask if Leroy plays cards at Capt. [John D.] Ladd’s tent. No, I guess not. I have not seen him there since you left. Capt. [John B.] Walker’s wife left yesterday morning. Dr. [Francis G.] Warren & wife left this morning. Capt. Ladd & Fenderher’s wives are here still, but will leave as there is an order for all ladies to leave.
I presume you want to know how we are getting along. We had two little dance parties at Headquarters Monday & Thursday evenings. Wednesday evening we all went to Gen’l. [Joseph Jackson] Bartlett‘s Ball. It was a splendid affair — not less than two hundred couples. Our bands led off. We went from this brigade with five ambulances. I cannot say that I enjoyed it much as there were so many you could not get around. He had everything in the best of order. About seventy-five couples could dance at a time. We got home yesterday morning just before eight & then [Capt. John B.] Walker & wife left for Maine.
Tuesday afternoon I went to a cock fight at Div. Headquarters. It lasted about half an hour. There were a great deal of betting — fifty dollars apiece by the owners of the cocks. A big thing.
We have had a great deal of excitement here of late. One camp is a great resort for ____ to the army. A large party from Maine [were] here yesterday — Gen’l. Seth Williams‘ friends. They told me the Gen’l sent them to see my camp as it was the best in the army. Today Col. [Egbert] Olcott’s father has been in camp. Captain Daniels’ wife & friend from Philadelphia, and in fact, someone is here about all the time.
We have horse racing, cock fighting, balls, small dancing parties, raffles — which they put up horses, and in fact a little of everything. I take things very easy of late. Slept two hours today after dinner which you know is not common for me to do. But I have something else to tell you and it is this. We have orders to be in readiness to move with three days rations in haversacks. The order came in some two hours ago. I just heard your beautiful bugle as you call it. The drums are now beating so you can know it is half past eight evening as that is tattoo. But I am sort of sick of such a noise.
Say to Nell that I have the saddle all safe. Also I have had a new bridle made which is as pretty as hers and I have one of the finest saddles in the army. I shall take all of these things home with me if I should be fortunate enough to get out. I am sort of fixing up to go home but a great deal may take place in ninety days. We have just received another order countermanding the first saying the report of the army moving is unfounded so we are not moving so much as we were a few minutes since.
I wrote you about [Lt. George Waters] Bicknell leaving. I got him an honorable discharge which was more than some of his near friends would have done him. I hope he will keep steady now. One friend Millett is still away and likely to be, I think. I hope he will stay till he gets well. I still keep Max & Jo but think I shall swap Max off as he will be entirely blind I am afraid. But I shall carry home two or three good horses anyway. I will also have the good saddle for the boys to ride. Nell asked if she cannot have Dolley to ride. Say to her that Dolley is to have a colt so she will be unfit for use this spring. I am glad she is pleased with her whip & bridle. I hope she will learn to ride by the time I get home.
What does the folks think of you being in the army a riding horseback? I presume there will be quite a mania for such kind of riding after this cruel war is over. I shall send all my ____ stuff to Washington when we move so I can take it home with me. You wrote in your last about sending some papers but I have not seen them. Quincey and King are well and getting along finely.
I have wrote you about all there is to write at this time. I would say the boys are having Temperance Meetings. The most of the officers have signed the pledge. I hope this will find you all well and nice. I will write again Sunday. I have not heard from Kate only by the letter I sent you. I hope she is doing well. Do you hear from her? I am glad aunt is with you. Hope she will stay all summer as she must be company for you. Give my regards to her. I hope you [will] not forget to see Jim Andrews about those taxes. My regards to all my friends and to Dr. & Miss in particular. Also to Miss Gaines & sister. Write all the news. Love to you all.
Yours, — Clark
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIXTEEN
Camp near Bermuda Hundred
June 18, 1864
I thought I would write you a line or two to let you know that I am still in the land of the living. We left Cold Harbor last Sunday evening & come on by the way [of] White House & thence by the John Tyler Plantation & near Charles City Court House to the rivers. We took a steamer there & come to City Point but did not land. Thence to Bermuda Hundred. Thence up to this place which is about five miles from the landing & seven from Petersburg. We reached here yesterday morning just at daylight. We got no sleep or rest but were upon the tramp all the time. I am about worn out. That is saying considerable for we this morning at one o’clock were turned out to make another charge but we found the enemy too strong to undertake it and returned here just at daylight.
Today I have done nothing but lay in the shade but the flies are so plenty one cannot sleep in the daytime. I hope before this reaches you that we will be on our way home, but everything is so uncertain that I don’t recon [we will]. Our time is out next Thursday & I think we shall take [a] boat that day for Washington. I am so sleepy & stupid that I cannot write so you will excuse me this time.
I have not lost any of my men since I last wrote you unless some poor fellow has died in hospital. Bryce is discharged & will go home with us. The horses are all safe & well. They do not look quite as well as I would like to have them but they have not got any hay since the first of May or since we left camp. The Bethel boys are all well.
Lou Sawyer just in Headquarters. He is all right. I will telegraph you from Washington in time to meet me in Boston so be upon the lookout for the message. Love to you all.
Yours, — Clark