Showing posts with label American Civil War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Civil War. Show all posts

Monday, August 14, 2017

W.B. Rogers..Fall of 1862

Aquia Creek - the quartermasters offices
From what I can figure out, it was Aquia Creek where the mail and packages came to for the troops in Maryland and Virginia. W. B. mentions this place by name in a few of his letters. I also found an identity for one of the names he mentions: Stephen. This is his cousin Stephen Nye Hubbard, who was also in the 36th Massachusetts, Company G. He is listed as a "wagoner", which means it was Stephen who would be going back and forth to Aquia Creek.

Camp Forbes         Pleasant Valley   Maryland     Saturday Oct 25/62

Dear Wife
I will try and write a few more lines. I have not received a letter for the last three mails and I begin to feel lonely. I have been waiting for that box before I wrote again but it has not arrived yet. I begin to feel the need of my mittens and shirts. We begin to have cold frosty nights. It is quite warm again today. it has been very pleasant most of the time. We have been in the camp almost three weeks with the exception of our excursion to Frederick but don’t suppose we shall stay much longer. The troops are collecting fast around this vicinity and they say the rebel camp is in sight of Harper’s Ferry and perhaps this is a calm before a great storm. If it must come the quicker the better. I hope this state of affairs won’t remain a great while longer but the Lord only knows. The men seem to be loseing their confidence and patriotism and don’t care how the thing is settled if the war will only end and they can get home. I should like to get home as well as anyone and I don’t boast of any more courage or patriotism than the other folke but I do want to see slavery receive its death blow before I come home and have the war end so that it will stay ended but I believe God will bring good out of this strife as I have ever believed if I had my hopes in man alone I could not endure it at all.
Oh dear Wife all my earthly treasures are at home. You are of more value than your weight in gold. Oh how I long for the time to come that I shall be permitted to come home and see those dear ones that I know are ready to receive me with open arms. I feel that I have thrown a great responsibility upon you, but I pray that God will sustain you and give you strength to bear your burdens and may we be permitted to spend a few more happy days on earth with our little ones but the future is all uncertain wherever we are. My health has been very good and I have gained eight or ten pounds. The boys all say how you fat up. Calvin has come back with us again. He got sick of teaming but Stephen has gone into an ammunition train. There is some sickness in our regiment. Our Captain is quite sick. They thought he was dieing last night. George Davis is very well. Calvin cheeks tick out like a squirrel but when we begin to march again it will take off our flesh. We have just received orders to be ready to march tomorrow morning so you see we have no Sabbath but can pray to our father in Heaven while we are on the march. We have a prayer in our little tent each night. I used to read in my testament before I layed down and George and Stephen want I should lead in prayer which I was very glad to do but it is not my own little family circle.
My love to Dear Mother and Brothers and Sisters. Write as often as you can. Tell Eugene to write again and I will print him another letter as soon as I get time. Kiss little Ned for me forty times a day.
I must draw my letter close. You wanted I should number my letters but I don’t know how many I have written to you.
Oh you spoke of sending a lock of baby’s hair. I did not find as it was in the evening and opened the letter and read it through before I saw that line. I hunted my nest all over but I could not find it. Please send me another.
Good Bye Dear Wife.
God bless you.

W.B. Rogers
You'll notice that he mentions that Stephen went into the ammunition train. This was a very dangerous job.
An ammunition convoy
With that clear lettering, they were sitting ducks.

Camp Forbes Near Lovette Village Virginia                Oct 28/62
Dear Wife
I will inform of my whereabouts. I am in Old Virginia now. We left Pleasant Valley Sunday morning. We marched to a village called Berlin. It rained all day and it was quite cold. We stood in the village about two hours in the rain and then we went across the Potomack on a pontoon bridge and marched about 3 or 4 miles and encamped. It rained terrible and the wind blew so that it blowed our tent down two or three times. It was a terrible sight. It rained untill about nine o’clock in the next morning. We were wet clear through. They tried to make us camp on a wheat field that was just sowed and was all mud but the men wouldn’t do it. The boys thought it was pretty hard but we lived through it and are well today. I had the chills a little but I had a good night’s sleep last night. I feel pretty well today. I have cut four heads of hair this morning. We probably shall not remain here long. The whole army is coming across. It looks as though there was to be some great move somewhere but we can’t imagine what it is to be or where we are going but I hope it will be a blow that will tell something towards the end of this terrible war but my only hope is in an overruling power. If it was in man alone I should not think it would end very soon but I pray that I may live through it and be permitted to see you once more. I have just been looking at your miniatures. Oh how I love those Dear faces. If it was not for you and the children I should not care to live long in my present condition but Gods will be done. You did not say a word about little Ned. I wondered if he was well. I wrote a letter the day before we started from camp. I shall write as often as I can but we may get away from railroad communication so that we cannot send letters as well as we have but I don’t know. I hope you won’t stop writeing. They will reach me some time if I live. We have not received the box yet and I don’t know when we shall. I should like the mittens and shirts but I suppose it is all for the best. I haven’t much news to write. I dread the cold winter. I don’t think it is a great deal warmer here than it is in Massachusetts but I try to look on the bright side of things but when I think of you I seem to have something to live for and I will struggle on and trust God. There is considerable sickness in our regiment but none have died that I know of. we left our Captain and our Colonel was sick so he had to stop and Berlin. It has just been said in camp that our letters cannot be sent at present but will finish my letter and let it go when it can. Give my love to all and tell them to remember me in their prayers. I need them very much.
So I will bid you goodbye Dearest of earthly friends.
Your affectionate husband
W. B. Rogers
The Pontoon bridge at Berlin(present day Brunswick)
Things are gearing up for the big confrontation. W. B. mentions the troops amassing in Virginia.
"The whole army is coming across. It looks as though there was to be some great move somewhere but we can’t imagine what it is to be or where we are going but I hope it will be a blow that will tell something towards the end of this terrible war but my only hope is in an overruling power. If it was in man alone I should not think it would end very soon but I pray that I may live through it and be permitted to see you once more. "
 Years may go by, but the sense of danger and urgency doesn't. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

W. B. Rogers- A Near Miss and a Visit from the President

The Dunker church on the Antietam battlefield

The regimental history I found for the 36th Massachusetts records this note about the month of September:

"On Monday, September 15th, Colonel Bowman received from a mounted orderly a note written in pencil, which purported to be an order from General McClellan, signed " R. B. Marcy, Chief of Staff," directing all troops on the road to hurry forward as rapidly as possible. Colonel Bowman doubted the genuineness of this hasty scrawl, and the more so on account of the appearance of suspicious persons about the camp the night before. Not knowing the result of the battle of the previous day and afraid that an attempt might be made to capture his regiment in its isolated position, he decided not to move his command until lie received further instructions or had better information concerning the state of affairs at the front. This delay undoubtedly prevented our participation in the battle of Antietam, which was fought September 17th."
So, only by some confusion about orders did W. B. and his comrades avoid the Battle of Antietam.
The narrative records that they camped some time at Keedysville, then broke camp and passed through Sharpsburg.
"There the Thirty-sixth was assigned to the Third Brigade of the first division of the NinthCorps. In the brigade were the Forty-fifth and One Hundredth (Roundheads) Pennsylvania regiments, to which we -soon became warmlv attached, and with which we were to be associated during nearly our whole period of service. Than these two regiments there were no better in the Ninth Corps ; and our regard for both officers and men increased as common experiences drew us nearer together. Indeed, they became to us almost as brothers, and we have reason to believe that this feeling was mutual. Colonel Welch, of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, commanded the brigade, and General O. B. Willcox, the division."
The entire group marched to an area just above Harper's Ferry, where they made camp.
"By order of General Wilcox. Sunday, September 29th, was observed by the division as a day of special religious service, to give thanks to God for our recent victories in Maryland. The whole division was brought together, and the services were conducted by Chaplain Canfield, of the Thirty-sixth, and other chaplains of New York and Pennsylvania regiments. The band first played"Old Hundred." The 46th Psalm was then read, and a hymn sung to the well-known tune of Balerma. Remarks were then made by four chaplains belonging to the division. The services were very interesting and solemn throughout. In the afternoon Chaplain Canfield preached."
Shortly after this, on October 3, Union troops were reviewed by General McClellan and President Lincoln.
President Lincoln with General McClellan at Sharpsburg reviewing the troops

Camp Forbes Mariland    Sunday Sept 28 /62 (This must be where mail went)
Dear Wife
       I write a few more lines. I almost dispair of hearing from you as I have not received one word to comfort me. I begin to think perhaps you have not received my letters. Charles Farrer has received two and Chaffin and Moore and Davis and Hubbard have received some but not one world from those that are dearer to me than life itself but I comfort myself that there are some on the way as we have been marching and have not been able to get regular mail. We have now got Big and we are in Wilcox division and Burnside corps. We have just come from devine service and it was very comforting there. There were thousands of soldiers present and the different chaplains spoke very encouraging and one made a prayer in German. We could not understand one word.
I am not quite as well as usual. I have got a little touch of bowel complaint but not bad. I have not missed one duty on account of health.
Oh Dear Wife if ever I felt the need of a hope in Christ it has been since I left your blessed influence. I know I have your prayers. Perhaps you would like to know if I wish myself at home. I wish the thing was settled so we could all go home but I would come home just now if I could but if I ever live to come home I think I shall know how to prize a humble quiet home. I have seen a little of a soldiers life. It is not a pleasant life but the cause is a worthy one but there is great sacrifice of life and property but those that stay at home and find fault don’t know the first thing about it. We are encamped between Sharpsburg and Harper’s Ferry about 7 miles from the latter place. There are acres covered with tents. I saw W W Clapp a week ago today. TE Hall came to our camp a few days ago. I did not see him but A. Chaffin saw him. I have seen Henry White twice. He took dinner with me yesterday. He has been out here fourteen months and been in nine battles and is unharmed. We are a brigaded with the 46th and 100th Pennsylvania regiments. They were in the last great battles but we have not seen any fighting yet but don’t know how soon we may. Oh Dear wife how are those Dear little ones and that Dear aged Mother. May God sustain and comfort her. She has the prayers of one undutiful son. I shall never forget her kindness. Tell Eugene to write to me and be kind to you and take care of that little Brother. Give my love to all. Write as often as you can and write about the friends of the other Holden boys as we all feel anxious when a letter comes from there. I hear that Capt. Kelton is dead and is to be brought to Holden to bury. Everyone says he was a brave soldier. I hope you will write all the particulars just as they are in regard to yours and the children’s health and circumstances. We are going to send to have a box sent to the Holden boys. I shall want my undershirts and a pair of woolen mittens with fingers for the forefingers. I will send a little money if I am sure that it will reach you safe. I shall write often and hope you will.
Direct to
Winslow B Rogers Bugler
Compt G 36 Reg’t Mass. Volt
9th Army Corps
Washington, D C

Camp Forbes    Mariland        Monday Sept 29 /62
Dear Wife
I had just sealed the with letter and we have just received a mail this afternoon and I wish you could have seen the anxiety that was manifested and the rejoicing when the name was called and a letter presented. Oh it has done me more good than anything else could have done to hear that you were so comfortable and to know that it came from your Dear hands. I received one from Warren and Herman and two from you and Joel and Eugene. Oh I thank God for them. I am pretty well today. you wrote me in regard to the papers I should like them very much. I think the mail will come more regular than it has done before as we have got Brigaded.  I have written to Warren and Joel and Mother.
Dear wife be careful of your health and not try to do too much. You spoke of my realizing that I had another son. Oh Cassandria that little image is fixed on my mind so that I never shall forget it. Give my love to all. Tell Eugene to write every time you do.
Goodbye for the present.
May Gods blessing rest upon you.
W. B. Rogers
Warren was W.B.'s brother. Joel was the husband of his sister Emeline Bliss Rogers. Hermann was Warren's son and W. B's nephew. W. B. was related either by blood or marriage to several of the Holden boys : Chaffin, Davis and Hubbard all pop up in the family tree.
If there was a letter where Winslow recorded his impressions of the visit by Lincoln and McClellan, it has been lost. The next letter takes up on the march in late October. There is an underlying sense of how things really are in these letters. He talks of a "bowel complaint". Dysentery probably. It was everywhere in the war. He asks for undershirts and mittens. He's cold at night. He's missing home and longing for letters and news of home. He's trying to be cheerful, but you can read between the lines.
So far, they haven't been tested in battle. It won't last, of course.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

W. B. Rogers and the American Civil War- The Story Continues

The Steamer Merrimack
By the end of August, the 36th Massachusetts was as trained as they were ever going to be. A history of the 36th tells us that on September 2nd, they boarded train cars and left for Boston. The narrative tells us this:
"On the arrival of the regiment in Boston the line was again formed, and the Thirty-sixth, receiving a brilliant ovation from the citizens, marched through "Washington street, down State street to Battery wharf, where the steamer " Merrimac," a new and large ocean steamer, was in readiness to receive us. One-half of the steamer had been assigned to the Twentieth Maine, Colonel Adelbert Ames, and his regiment was already on board, having arrived from Portland earlier in the day.
In the crowded condition of the steamer there was, necessarily, some delay in getting the companies into the places to which they were assigned, and also in transferring the horses and baggage ; and it was not until late in the evening that the embarkation was accomplished ; then the steamer dropped out into the stream."
Now if the name "Merrimac" sounds familiar, this is not THAT ship. The Merrimac of great fame was scuttled in Virginia by Union forces, raised by the Confederacy, and plated to become the famed ship in the battle of the Ironclads. There were actually a couple of ships operating under that name at the time and our Merrimack (sic) was only one of them. Thanks to the guys over at the American Civil War Forums, I was able to track down some information on our steamer and the picture above which we believe is the right ship. It served to transport troops all through the Civil War, but came to a sad end in 1887 near Halifax, Nova Scotia when it wrecked in thick fog. Here are the basic facts for this ship, as found by my friends over at the Forum.
And Fortress Monroe or actually, Alexandria, Virginia was the very destination for W.B. and his Holden friends. Conditions on the ship, however, were pretty primitive.
This came from a previous newspaper report, but as you will see, W.B. and company shared their feelings. Keep in mind that I corrected only the basics for clarity. The spelling and grammar are all his.
Aug 14/62 Steamer Merrimac
Dear Wife
We started from Boston yesterday morning and we are on the broad Atlantic and no land in sight. I have been seasick and a great many were sick yesterday. We are crowded most to death. There is a …? Regiment on board which makes about 2500 men. I never experience this before saying he had nowhere to lay his head. I have had to lay on deck as best I could. There is fearful confusion and I hear nothing but oaths and vulgarity. There is nothing for me to enjoy but assurance that there is a friend in Heaven. It is a beautiful morning with no land in sight. We don’t know where we are bound. There are a great many rumors about our destination but I shall be glad to get released from this crowded craft. I feel thankful that I am well and in the hands of a just God who doeth things well. My mind dwells on those dear ones at home. I am thankful you are so far away from such scenes as I have witnessed since I left home. Those in their quiet country homes know but little what there is in this wicked world.  The members of our company seem like Brothers to me. It seems like going home to get with them as it is all the home I can claim at the present. I want to hear from you very much but cannot tell you where to direct your letters. I will write as soon as we get landed if …? And tell you all the news. Kiss the children for me and give my love to all.
From your loving Husband
W. B. Rogers
The regiment sharing the ship, according to the history I read, was the 20th Maine.

Steamer Merimack
Saturday Sept 6 /62
Dear Wife
We are sailing up the Potomac and have been confined on board this old craft since Tuesday night. We are packed in like a lot of hogs. I shall be glad to get ashore oncemore. I can be thankful that it is as well as it is.
I feel first rate. the scenery this morning is ….(?). we are continually passing vessels of different kinds and we can see plantations and huts which makes it very pleasant as we have been out of sight of land for two days and I haven’t heard much but profanity. Oh how can men be regardless of their accountability to God. If ever I felt to rejoice in Christ and pray for his grace to sustain me it has been for the last few days. Oh we know not how to realize the comforts of home until we are deprived of them. We expect we are going to land at Alexandria some time but we know not what is before us but there is a friend that will go with me if I put my trust is him and I can pray for those Dear ones at home.
Oh pray that I may see you once more. I am not homesick because I feel that I came here to discharge my duty and hope I shall have strength and courage to do it.
Tell Eugene that I often think of him. Kiss little Ned for me. Give my love to Joel and tell him I am looking on Old Virginia soil at this moment. Give my love to all relatives and friends.
I must leave off writing. there is so much confusion and crowding I cannot half write. I will write again as soon as we get located and tell you where to direct you letters. Yours Truly
                                                                                                W. B. Rogers
So here is the route taken, by the history of the regiment I found and by W.B.'s letters. They boarded the City of Norwich and landed in Washington on around September 7, 1862.
The route of the Merrimack
At the point they reached Washington, they were assigned to the command of General Burnside in the 9th Corps. Here the history skips around a lot from my account by W.B.. There was a great deal of marching in which they just barely escaped taking part in  the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of South Mountain.

They marched from Leesburg, Virginia, to Brookeville, Maryland and on to Unity, to Damascus, to New Market and then just beyond Frederick to Middletown where they camped briefly. 

From Middletown they made camp in Keedysville, Maryland. This is where we take up the last letter for this time from W.B..
Keedysville, Maryland      Sept 16/62

Dear Wife
I have just been looking at your and Eugene’s miniatures and am wondering how you are and what you are doing. Oh if I could spend this Sabbath with you and the little ones but I feel that God is watching over you. we don’t know how to prize God’s blessings until we are deprived of them. I hope I shall be more grateful to him and better discharge my duty to him. I hope you will never cease to pray for me. I never shall for you and pray that I may be permitted to return to you unharmed. My health has been very good ever since I left home. I never shall forget that morning when last I saw you and those Dear little ones. All is very uncertain in this world. If we live as we should we shall soon be at rest. (the rest of this letter seems to be lost)
The 36th had just done a tremendous amount of marching around, yet he doesn't mention it at all. Of course, we don't know what the missing part of the last letter held.
Now I'm wondering. Was that little "fairy album" of miniatures that I had and sent on to the cousins the album W. B. took to war? Eugene would have been 9 at this time and "little Ned", my great-grandfather, was less than a month old. It sounds like he "just" got to look on Ned before he marched off to war. He's been near two very big battles, but hasn't entered the battlefield yet. He sounds homesick, but making the best of his situation. This is what soldiers do. More to come....

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Civil War Ancestor- Winslow Brainard Rogers

     If you've read all my blogposts, then you know I have a Civil War ancestor who was one of the seeds of my interest in genealogy.  We had a bundle his actual letters home in the house when I was a child. I read what seemed, at the time, as very sad letters home and I  wondered about this man. Here's what I've been able to discover. Winslow Brainard Rogers, grew up in Holden, Massachusetts, a small town just outside of Worcester. He worked at various jobs, but most of the census material has him working in a boot factory in Holden. One Worcester town directory from a time before his marriage listed him as a "painter" and I assumed "house painter".
     But as I researched for this post I found an intriguing clue. First I found  a paragraph in a history of Worcester County.
This is a listing for W. B.'s son Eugene, Harrington Rogers, who became a sign painter and an artist. Notice the last line of the first paragraph, "instruction from his father, also an artist".Then, I found W. B.'s  profession in his muster papers listed as "painter". Where are those paintings now?
      No photographs survive of Winslow. The best I am able to do is his physical description in those same muster papers.  He had blue eyes, brown hair and dark complected and stood 5 foot 7 inches tall. He was 37 when he signed up.  Winslow reported to Camp Wool, which was located in Worcester. Camp Wool had been formed at the Worcester Agricultural Fairground near where Elm Street Park is now.
Worcester Agricultural Fairground
The camp was just to the west of the actual park, in an area that's now residential. Here's a description of the site from one of the Civil War commemorative sites:
"Initially the camp was know as Camp Lincoln, in honor of a Massachusetts governor. The first regiment to occupy the site was the 21st Massachusetts in July of 1861. It was soon followed by the 25th. After these regiments departed in August and October respectively, the camp was not used until the July 1862 call for additional three-year regiments. Renamed Camp Wool (for General John Wool) the  site was designated as the rendezvous for three-year regiments from western Massachusetts. Units trained here were the 21st, 25th, 34th, 36th, 49th, 51st and 57th regiments of infantry."
W. B. Rogers was mustered into the 36th Massachusetts infantry, Company G in August of 1862. He was a bugler. At first I wondered about this. The war was going badly at this point. He was already 37 years old. He had a wife, a son and a baby on the way. What made him want to put himself in harm's way?  As we work our way through his letters, you'll see that this was a man of some conviction.
I have left much of the spelling, capitalization and punctuation as is, except in instances where it might be required for clarity.

"Camp Wool- Aug 22
Dear wife. I take this oportunity to write a few lines. I am well and enjoy myself as well as I expected. My thoughts are on those Dear ones at home. Oh four features are fixed on my mind and will be as long as I have my sence. I am trying my best to get a furlough but do’nt much expect to get one. Calvin Hubbard came into Camp yesterday. I have got into a very good company. There are a good many Christians and we have prayers
every night and there are a few things to enjoy. Warren and Caleb have just come to our tent. I feel very anxious about you. How does Eugene do. Kiss him for me and give my love to all.
                                                                                    W. B. Rogers"
Warren would be Jonas Warren Rogers, his uncle. Not sure which Caleb this is, but possibly Jonathan Caleb Rogers,  a cousin.

"Camp Wool- Sunday Aug 24 /62
Dear Wife
            I take one more oportunity of writing a few lines as I had flatered myself that I should see you today. but I cannot get out of camp at present. but hope I shall some day this week. It is as quiet as could be expected. We don’t drill today. we have preching this afternoon. We had a prayer meeting in our tent last night. There are a good many fine men in this Regiment. They are very indignent because they cannot get a furlough. Elmira and Caleb were in camp yesterday and brought me a basket of provisions. Oh I long to see you. Write me a line as often as you can. Tell Eugene to come in and see me. Give my love to all friends. William Nichols came into camp yesterday. I took a little cold last night but I feel quite well except that. Give my love to Mother if you see her. Tell her I feel that I am doing my duty to my Country and to you all. God Bless you.
From your loving husband.
                                                                        W. B. Rogers"
OK, this is definitely Jonathan Caleb Rogers, who was married at this time to Winslow's sister Almira. He mentions his mother, Betsy Howe Rogers as well. Winslow's father, George, died when he was only 5. I found guardianship papers appointing  Jonas Warren Rogers. (Warren of the previous letter) He was raised by both Warren and his mother Betsy. 
      This letter gives you some idea of distances at the time. Holden, today is barely beyond the town limits of Worcester by car.  Yet, the going to see W. B. in camp wasn't possible, apparently, for Cassandria and Eugene. 
     This is the beginning of a series of posts for Winslow Brainard Rogers. I'll be sharing copies of the letters along with any other information I can find over the coming months. W.B. was not Sullivan Ballou of Ken Burns fame; his letters are not profound or poetic, but they give you some idea of one man's journey at a time which defined our history.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day- Remembering Winslow Brainard Rogers

Grove Cemetery, Holden, Massachusetts
Reading up a little this morning, I discovered that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and was established especially to remember those lost in the American Civil War. This Memorial Day I would like to remember the man who piqued my curiousity  about my family. Winslow Brainard Rogers enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. He was a bugler in Company G of the 36th Massachusetts regiment. He died of smallpox after the siege of Vicksburg on July 25, 1863. He was only 38 years old when he died. There is a marker in his name at the town cemetery in Holden, Massachusetts and his name is engraved on a plaque in the town hall. As a child we had a packet of letters written from WB to his wife Cassandria. I no longer have the letters available to me, but I remember how sad they were and how terribly he missed his family and his small hometown. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, on this day we remember.