William Latham Candler
Papers, 1861-63, Ms1997-007
July 15, 1862; letter written from Harrison's Landing, Va.
Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va.
July 15th 1862
My dear Brother
I have not heard from you since we made the grand military feat which cost us fifteen thousand men and gained us a position a distance of twenty three miles from the place we are attacking. I have written you twice which letters I hope you will get, or the second one at least, the first had better be lost. I have heard very little of what is going on at home, and am very desirous to hear from you what effect our late movements have had on the people of Massachusetts; I hardly know what to think, but it does not seem to me possible that the people can have been deluded enough by the reports in papers to feel that all is as it should be and that we lost nothing, the enemy everything, in the late military movements; I see that the system of drafting has been stalled in Mass. I am glad of it, for there are many loafers round the streets who had much better be facing the enemy than standing on street corners. The requisite numbers of men can be drawn from Boston and not injure the city in the least. Is not 60 a large draft from Brookline? We can hear nothing from Major Chandler, in fact have heard from very few who were taken prisoners, I trust that some of our flags of truce will bring us some news. A Mr. Wade from Boston was here after the body of Col. Wyman, he went yesterday with a flag and brought in the body, from where it was buried some miles this side of Monday's battlefield. I could not see him last night as he went directly to the landing and started this morning for Fortress Munroe. But I understand from Captain Dickinson that
he brought no news. I have heard nothing from Ned Wild since he went to Phila. don't forget his promotion, Major told me, before we left Fair Oaks that he had written you concerning it, and I hear, through Fannie that you have received several letters from him. Ned, I am confident will never want to come back to the Regiment; it was bad enough when he went away to disgust a saint and it has been growing worse ever since, there is a feeling of disaffection and discouragement which I have never seen before, and for one to go into camp now, who saw them as they were at Budd's Ferry, it is a sorrowful sight. The men have not an officer who they feel confidence in to lead them. Cowdin on the field is a perfect child, It would be an act of humanity to muster them out of service and take them home, they have done noble service in this war; they came out here abused and kicked by everyone one, but Mass. many well feel proud that the 1st Regt. which was sent from the state has so well upheld its honor. It has suffered severely, lost 11 officers in two days fighting, and many more are hors du combat from sickness and exhaustion. Capt. Smith, Co. B. has resigned and gone home, the vacant Captiancy was offered to Lawrence, Austin, and myself, but we chose to decline the honor. Capt. Adams, Co. F. sent his resignation in today, whether it will be accepted or not I do not know. I do not know what sort of a recommendation Col. Col. Cowdin sent on or who he named for the vacancy, but if he merely sent word that he wished such a one appointed without mentioning that he offered the position to us, I am afraid Gov. A. will think Cowdin is trying to gauge him and get another in at our expense. Gov. A. promised Major Chandler some time ago that I should have the 1st vacancy, and he may if he does not know of my declining the position, throw aside Colonel's recommendation
and carry out his promise to the Major; as the acceptance of a Captaincy would rather find me to rejoin the regiment I do not desire it. I hear from some of our Brookline boys that the town has discontinued paying some of their families the monthly amount promised, when they first came into service, please write me how it is. Most certainly they need it now if ever for many of them are in a very destitute circumstances, and some have died leaving families dependant on them. As soon as I can get time I will obtain from Co A. a full statement of losses and the particulars and send it to the military committee; the company has had no commissioned officer in command of it, with a day or two exception, and both Charlie and I have been unable to get the time to write particulars to the Committee. Our position in the military line is the same as ever. Mac. sees that he advanced seven miles towards Richmond but our Division, as usual hold the advanced position and we are not aware that we have made any such movement. We have, as in every other part of the pennisula been using the pick and shovel freely and our whole front is one uninterrupted line of redoubts, and breast-works, why in our Division front alone there are about fifty guns at least one half of them from twenty to sixty pounders. There are no signs of any force of the enemy in our front, our pickets are a mile and a half from our lines, and are not in sight of those of the enemy. But the Rebels are not inactive, when there is a perfect lull for any length of time they are sure to break out in a new place. They are erecting batteries on both sides of the James River and I am daily expecting to hear that they have opened on our transports with a vengeance. As I write heavy firing is going on down the river, but it sounds like our Gun boats. We are in hopes that Wilkes
will prove himself a live man and do something besides drink whiskey and smack his lips. We have had altogether too much of that sort of Commanders and it is time a new regime was inaugurated. These grand military movements are very well to talk about, but to carry them out at a cost of thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property, makes them rather an expensive luxury. I blame the administration for not sending reinforcements to McClennan and keeping his numbers, at least, equal to those of the enemy, but I also blame Mac. for allowing himself to be so "bamboozled" by them as to finally be obliged to make a disgraceful retreat. Had proper precautions been taken no such disaster as Porter + McCalls fight need have happened. Mac knew, or aught to have known, that the enemy were daily strengthening while we were weakening and that sooner or later he would be obliged to leave; he might have done so three weeks before and not only saved every dollar's worth of property, but fifteen thousand good and true hearted men, who now are either dead or wounded or else suffering in the hands of the enemy. Time will bring out facts about the conduct of this campaign, known now to only a few, which will create such a burst of indignation in the North as has never been conceived of. Murder will out. I have formed no plan for my future course regarding remaining in the army, much will depend upon what I hear from you; I do not feel that there is the same call for my remaining in the service now that there was for my coming into it at the first; then besides the need which there was for every man, at least to show a willingness to come, the example was worth much. I am as ready to remain as I was to come into it, but I think that I
have duties at home, which make me hesitate in deciding which course to take. The past six months has worn a great deal on Fannie and for some time I have been much worried about her, she says but little but I know her well enough to fear that she has nearly given out. I am disgusted with the service, and were I in the Regiment I should not hesitate a minute; but in my present position I feel differently; I love and respect Genl. Hooker and am desirous of going thro' the war with him, or at least remain so long as I can keep up strength enough to circulate round; and I do not wish to decide without hearing from you which course to take. My health is a good as can be expected I look well and have good enough spirits, but my old toughness and ability to stand the fatigues of two or three men, seems to have taken a permanent leave of absence.
I have been obliged to draw on you (C.C. + C) for some money, the Paymaster is
again in the background, and as I lost every thing I had except the clothes on my back, I am
obliged to refit myself. I have drawn for ($150) one hundred and fifty dollars favor Adams
Express Co. The Army is getting to be rather an expensive place to live in; Lawrence has
lost in the last three weeks several hundred dollars worth, and Dickinson & Austin very
heavily; luckily for me I had but little to lose. Love to all at home.
Your aff. Brother
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