"The trouble with Jeff is that he lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech."

Goodrich’s War: Spring of 1863

This is Part 7 of an ongoing series built around the letters home of Loren Goodrich, Co. F 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. See also…

Part One (with letter of Sept 5 1862)
Part Two (with letter of Oct 2 1862)
Part Three (with letter of Dec 9 1862)
Part Four (with undated, post-Fredericksburg letter)
Part Five (with letter of Jan 5 1863)
Part Six (with letter of Feb 11 1863)

The balance of the winter of 1863 after the Mud March was comparatively quiet for Loren Goodrich and the rest

Union camps and review sites, April 8 1863

Union camps and review sites, April 8 1863

of his pards in the 14th Connecticut. There was a small amount of excitement around Connecticut’s annual elections, where the conservative Democratic party was attempting to make some hay around the specter of dissatisfaction with the war effort among the soldiers at the front. Regimental historian Charles Page notes that the men got together at dress parade on March 24 and passed, nearly unanimously, resolutions endorsing Governor Buckingham (Page 113).  The mood may not have been fully as unanimous as Page suggests, as Goodrich’s letter home of about a month later indicates a mood amongst the men that was souring towards the war– indeed, he may well have been one of the dissenters that Page glossed over in favor of the party line.

It goes unmentioned in Goodrich’s letter, but President Abraham Lincoln held a review of the Army of the Potomac on April 5 a few miles from camp. Perhaps of particular note to reenactors was the care Page took in detailing the equipage and uniforms carried by a fatigue detachment of the 14th C.V. that was rushed from their detail to the site of the President’s review, from one of their own letters. He notes:

“…us with our overcoats and knapsacks on, our blankets in a coil around our shoulders, a canteen filled with water, a haversack containing bits of beef, crackers, and pork, three or four cooking utiensils, such as frying pans, tin cups, old tomato cans, etc., hitched to various parts of our body. Of course we were well armed and some of us had axes besides. ” (Hirst qtd in Page 114)

Lincoln's April 1863 review as depicted by a period artist.

Lincoln’s April 1863 review as depicted by a period artist.

Goodrich also shared with his people back home about the farewell made by Lt. Colonel Sanford Perkins, who likely visited the lads between April 20 and 23rd in civilian clothes “…having been honorably discharged from the service for wounds received at Fredericksburg” (Page 115). Historical records note that Perkins’ wound was to the neck, which as Page referenced, very easily could have been fatal  (Historical Data Systems, Inc.). From Page’s and Goodrich’s recollections, Perkins was truly well-liked amongst the men, but as he was unable to remain in the field, his discharge was an unfortunate necessity. His leadership and presence would be missed in the already battle-hardened and thinned ranks of the 14th C.V.

While Goodrich seemed mildly perturbed about the lack of action of the army on the 23rd of April, he would again recieve his fill in short order, as only five days later the Army of the Potomac would embark on its campaign under General Joe Hooker– a campaign that climaxed in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Camp Near Falmouth Virginia
Apr 23rd 1863

 Dear Friends

It is with pleasure that I now write a few lines to you in answer to your most welcome letter which I had looked so long for. I am well and hope that this will find you the same. You people at the North think that it must be warm weather down here it is not much warmer here than it is there. We have had some very pleasant days but to day the rain pours down in torrents. We have some things down here which you will not find at the North and that is peach tree orchards which are now in full bloom. It makes one homesick to look at trees when they are in full bloom and to see the fields looking so green with the grass and grain just keeping their heads above ground to catch a glimpse of the sun. I never have seen the boys do homesick since they came out as soldiers for Uncle Sam as they have been for the past few days. Every one is cursing themselves for enlisting.

You wished to have all of the war news their is not any of very great importance now. A few days ago we expected to again recross the Rappahannock and engage the enemy. We had orders to carry 8 days rations of Hard Bread and Pork 5 days rations in our knapsacks and 3 days in our haver sacks. The Engineer Corps had orders to move the Pontoon Bridges and lay them in the night and we had orders to be ready to strike tents any time during the night but as luck would have it, it commenced to rain and rained all of one day making all of the roads so muddy that they could not move the Bridges day before yesterday we had orders to draw rations of potatoes unions turnips fresh bread and everything that was allowed up by the Government. There is such a rumor about camp that an armistac [sic] of 75 days is allowed us but wheth [sic] it is so or not I can not tell.

Col. Perkins has been Honorably discharged from the service of the United States on account of disability received from a wound. He seemed to feel bad to leave the regiment after having been with us so long and the boys felt bad to have him go. They told him at Washington that they was sorry that it was so but that they orders to discharge him if he was not fit for duty 60 days after being wounded. He gets a pension of 30 dollars a month.

I think that we shall stay here for some time yet as their is a good many 2 years and 9 months men whose times are out in a very few days and they swear that they will not go into a nother [sic] battle. Everything seems to be quiet on the other side of the River.

There was a man that swam across the River the other night when I was on Picket down their. He was a New Yorker and he said that he was bound to see his father and mother that he had not seen for 5 years. He was forced into the rebel army with his Brothers & his Brother dare not cross with him. I have wrote all the news that I now of now hoping that you will excuse me if I have not wrote as interesting a letter as you would wish. I will close my best respects to you.

Tell Mr. and Mrs. Morris that I sent them my best respects. Please write soon. Direct your letters as usual.

I remain very Respectfully yours,

Loren H. Goodrich

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Sources:

Goodrich, Loren H. “Letters.” Letter to Joseph Wells. 11 Feb 1863. MS. Connecticut Historical Archives, Hartford, CT.

Historical Data Systems, Inc.,  American Civil War Research Database. Web. 10 Oct 2013. <http://civilwardata.com>.

Page, Charles D. History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Vol. Infantry. Meriden, CT: Horton Printing, 1906. Print.

Camps and review site map ruthless stolen from the Mysteries and Conundrums blog here.

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