Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Woolsey Family during the War.

Woolsey Family during the War.

December 15, 2012

Woolsey family letters during the War for the Union

Eliza Woolsey Howland to Chaplain Henry Hopkins

December, ’62.

Charley, you may have heard, has gone into the service as lieutenant in the 164th, but he was detached at once for staff duty and is aide to General Burnside and a member of good old General Seth Williams’ mess—just where we would most like to have him. We have heard from him up to Saturday morning, the day of the battle, and are not yet very anxious about him. . . . Georgy and Jane are hard at work at Portsmouth Grove, terrors to evil-doers as well as good friends to those who need it. They and the other ladies have effected many reforms and won the respect and confidence of all concerned except the mutinous convalescents and the lying stewards, whom they pursue like avenging fates.

We were very glad to hear of your work after those dreadful days of the “Second Bull Run.” . . . I write principally to ask what I can do to help you take care of the wounded. . . . You know I want to do all I can now that I am unable to be there myself. You must call upon me freely.

On November 8th McClellan had been relieved of command and Burnside had superseded him. On December 13 was fought the first battle of Fredericksburg, with the rebel Lee victorious. Few or no letters mark these anxious months.

And so the second year of the war came to an end without any sound of public cheer or private rejoicing. There is no mention in the letters of Christmas fun, even for the children, while our poor defeated Army of the Potomac was huddled into Fredericksburg with the loss of 13,000 men. As a family we were again scattered, some of us in hospital work and Charley in the field. One window, though, was opened Heavenwards, since for three million slaves, across the blackness of a civil war


“God made himself an awful rose of dawn.”

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