Gilpin, April 27, 1863
The company went out on a scout the other day and brought in some corn and furniture. We have in our tent a beareau and a cane seat chair and looking glass and we have a negro boy to wash for us and wait on us and it makes it lighter on us. There is a detective from Washington down there somewhere trying to find our money or the man that got it, and if he finds him out it will go pretty hard with him. I want you not to say anything about him for nobody else knows it or him, and he does not want to be found out until he finds the rogue. The company has gone out to burn another mill.
Give my love to
Johnny and all our friends. We had a good time at church yesterday.
The Lord was with us. I would not give my religion for all this world.
Let us therefore live faithful. No more at present but still remain
your true and loving husband until death.
On April 18, 1863, Harriet gave birth to a girl, Stephen wrote home on the 29th that she "may call the baby Alleena"
In early April the 4th Delaware Infantry at Yorktown, Camp Gilpin, was in Busteed's Brigade under Brig. Gen. Richard Busteed with Col. A. H. Grimshaw as their commanding officer. Busteed's Brigade also included the 168th New York, the 169th, 178th and 179th Pennsylvania.
From April 11-May 4, the Confederate Army (the Dept. of Richmond) was trying to reclaim the pennisula, causing Maj. Gen. Dix to call for reinforcements for Williamsburg (Fort Magruder) through to Norfolk. On April 13, Lt. General Longstreet, along with Hood's and Pickett's divisions, advanced with a 20,000 men from Blackwater to overtake Suffolk. The battle was inconclusive, and on April 29, Gen. Lee ordered Longstreet to disengage from Suffolk and rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg.
Several more expeditions, skirmishes and reconnaissances occurred during this time. The following is an extract from the "Record of Events" on April 27, 1863: "Lt. Col. Tevis, 4th Del. Vol., with a detachment from his regiment . . . went some distance above Hickory Forks, destroyed a large amount of stores of the rebel army, consisting of grain, cotton, bacon, flour . . . and quinine; also collected and drove within the lines 57 head of horned cattle, 260 sheep, and 8 horses and mules."
The Battle of Chancellorsville
April 27, 1863, Hooker began moving his Army North up the Rappahannock
River. Three corps crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford on April 29th,
then crossed the Rapidan River at Germanna and Ely's Ford. Two other Corps
of Federals moved south of Fredericksburg with Sedgwick. All were to converge
On May 2nd, Stonewall Jackson moved with approximately 26,000 men around the right of the Federals at Chancellorsville, leaving Lee and 14,000 men to face off Hookers 70,000. Hooker ignored warnings of the movement, believing that Lee was retreating.
The Federals were taken by surprise by Stonewall Jackson, late on May 2nd. They were pushed frantically down a plank road in retreat. Stonewall was accidentally shot by one of his own pickets while on this road. The following day as fighting continued, Hooker finally ordered the Union troops to withdraw.
Sedgwick, still at Fredericksburg on May 3rd, was advancing straight up Marye's Heights to join the battle at Chancellorsville through the quickest route. Unlike December, the federals rushed the stone wall and the Confederates fled. As he reached Salem Church, east of Chancellorsville, he was again stopped by the Conferdate Army. Sedgwick was forced back across the Rappahannock, as were all the other Union Corps by the morning of May 6, 1863.
The Battle of Chancellorsville had ended in defeat for the Union, while it still remains Lee's most brilliant victory in many opinons. Lee's new objective was once again to have a victory on northern soil.
Stonewall Jackson died of Pneumonia on May 10th.
Gilpin, May 10th, 1863
Dear and loving wife,
The cavalry that I spoke of in my other letter has all come in and they done the most daring thing that has been done in the war. They came across from the right of Hooker's army and tore up all the railroads and destroyed everything they could and went inside of the entrenchments at Richmond 1 mile from the town and there is no force there of any amount they say they could have taken it but they could not hold it. There is a great many troops gone up the York river but we have no news of much importance. I see in the papers that Major Daniel Woodel is wounded. I am very sorry for him and the family. If he comes home let me know how he is wounded.
You need not trouble
yourself for me for the Lord will provide and the 4th Delaware will
be taken care of. I hope we shall soon hear good news. Let us still
trust in God and do his will as we do not know what He intends for us
to do. Let us do all we can in His service. Write often and as long
letters as you can. Tell me all that is going on at home. You must excuse
me for I have nothing to write about. No more at present but still remain
your true and loving husband until death.
Maj. Daniel Woodall was with the 1st Delaware at the battle of Chancellorsville. The Army of the Potomac moved back to Falmouth, Virginia.
Union camp on the Rappahannock, near Falmouth, Virginia
The Department of Virginia was engaged in tearing up the railroad tracks between Suffolk and the Blackwater.
Camp Gilpin, Gloucester Point
Dear and loving wife,
I am determined to put my trust in God, let what will or may come I still believe that this war must soon close for the rebs are getting the worst of it. We have made another great raid and come back without the loss of a man. The cavalry had one wounded in the neck but they killed the reb. We left here on Tuesday night in the gun boat and went down to Mobjack Bay and up it to North River and Wednesday went up the River and landed about 10 miles up the river.
Just before we landed the farmers around there were ploughing but took their horses out and hid them in the woods. As soon as we could land our company and Co. F. were ordered out and did not go far before we found 34 horses and mules and then returned to the boat and rested. This is the nicest place I ever seen anywhere. All along the river.
After we were rested the boys went on the hunt of poultry and found lots of it, and found a nice garden and got lots of flowers and onions and honey and after we got threw we went to loading grain. We got about 400 bushels of wheat and then went down the river to the east river and up it and lay there all night. Here the boys made another raid on the rebs and captured a lot of poultry and meat and molasses, and tobacco, and a little of everything.
The cavalry and
the drafted men left the camp the same night we did and went up by land
and kept close to the gun boat. The next day we came down east river
and burnt 2 mills full of corn and flour and several barns and then
went up the north river again to meet the other force and there they
had a lot of stock and sheep. We took the sheep on board and laid there
till night and took the drafted men on board and the cavalry drove the
horses and cattle to camp where we all arrived this morning. The cavalry
burnt the mill belonging to the rebs. Charly Brown and Bell. It done
me good to think we could burn the property of one reb that lived in
Delaware. The amount of horses brought in were 550 or 600 and 500 head
of cattle and 300 sheep and there is no telling all that was brought
in but you may depend all soldiers knows how to provide for theirselves.
It is believed the damage done to the rebs
The Fourth Army Corps was ordered on a combined expedition into Matthews County starting the night of the 19th of May, with the instructions to ". . . inflict as much injury as possible on armed enemies. . .capture and bring in all animals and supplies needful to our troops that may be found, but will not wantonly burn or pillage anywhere."
Maj. Gen. E.D. Keyes wrote in his report on May 23, "... The expedition was conducted with spirit by the officers, and the men behaved well. Only some straggling parties of the enemy were seen. One guerrilla was killed and 2 of our men were wounded. About 300 horses and mules were captured, besides about 150 head of horned cattle and the same number of sheep. A small amount of grain was brought in, and a large amount of grain and forage collected for the rebel Government was destroyed. Five mills stored with grain and flour were burned."
Col. J. Kilpatrick reported that the two wounded men were from the 2nd New York. Lt. J. H. Gillis, of the U.S. Gunboat Commodore Morris reported having taken on 100 men from the Fourth Delaware volunteers on the morning of May 20th, returning them to Yorktown at 12:30 am on May 22nd.
Maj. Gen. J. A. Dix wrote to Hooker on May 31, 1863, "It has been decided to withdraw from West Point and throw the force there up the Peninsula toward the White House. I can get no satisfactory information as to the enemy's force. There was last week a considerable body massed north of Richmond, on the railroad, ready to support Lee at Fredericksburg or Wise at White House. I can hear nothing of them since Wednesday. I will advise you of all my movements. My force is small."
Gilpin, June 4th, 1863
Dear and loving wife,
weather is nice here. I have been a fishing several times but have caught
nothing but some flounders and trout. There is no news here. Give
my love to Johnny, and all your father's people and all the rest of
my friends. I am sorry that Harper
was drunk for I did not think such a thing. Tell Mr. Woodel that Charley
West has been court Martialed for theft and put down in the ranks
and had to pay for 2 blankets and to walk two hours of extra guard duty,
and tell him that if Mr. William Smithers does
not give some more dollars to the best rebel lawyer in the state, and
they will be glad to have it to work on. I believe that Smithers knows
about it. I want Mr. Woodel to see him for me and tell him what I say,
for if men and rob a soldier's family of all the means of support they
have they deserve to be hung, and if I can find them out through a rebel
I believe I am justified, for I am afraid that there is too many favors
shown to men who stick around home in little petty offices when the
country needs them for soldiers. I believe that Harper
mailed the letter and he is willing to swear to it and can prove it
by Robert Collins. Give my best respects to Mr. Woodel for that is all
I can do now, but I believe the Lord will bless him. No more at present,
but still remain your true and loving husband until death.
On June 3rd, Lee began moving his troops north to Pennsylvania. Hooker was ordered to stay on the defensive and follow.
As Lee moved northward, he gave approvel to Jeb Stuart to move around the right of Hookers' Army, while he stayed to the left. Hookers' Army, larger than Stuart thought, caused him to move more eastward than anticipated, cutting off contact with General Lee for 10 days.
Union Cavalry on the Rappahannock
Hooker learned of Stuarts' position near Culpeper, Virginia and sent in his cavalry to meet up with him at Brandy Station on June 9th. This day of fighting was the war's largest all cavalry battle. The Federal's pulled back, and Jeb Stuart continued north toward Pennsylvania.
On June 4th, the 4th Delaware was on expedition from Yorktown to Walkerton and Aylett's, Virginia. They had now been assigned to The Department of Washington. Their Commanding Officer was still Col. A. H. Grimshaw of Delaware.
Hill Pleasant, June 23, 1863
Dear and loving wife,
We are well provided for. We have got good shelter tents. I sent your money 30 dollars by express to Dover in the care of Mr. Cannon, and I want to know when you get it. We go on picket every other day. There is no force of rebs here but there is plenty of bush whackers and they have killed several cavalry men but there is none of us been hurt. It seems to me that the Lord does protect the whole regiment. I am still willing to trust him for all that is to come. I want you to live faithful and pray for me for I need your prayers.
Tell me how old Gum Swamp comes on and if Mr. Woodley has come back to his class yet. Give my best respects to all my friends and tell them to pray for me. Tell Johnny I would like to see him and to be a good boy. I have been looking at your likeness and thought I would like to see you all, but it cannot be so now, but I hope it will not be long. First the country around here has gone to destruction. Our advance force is as far up as Diarkin Bridge and Barnhamsville. We have now 5 days rations and we do not know what a day may bring forth. They say there is a strong force below here. The First Del. battery is with them. I want you to give that note to Mr. Woodel and ask him if he thinks there is any chance for me and if there is to let me know what it is, and give him my best respects, and you must not wait for me to write for you see I have to write with a pencil and sit on the ground and write on my knapsack.
Let us be faithful.
No more at present, but still remain your true and loving husband. May
the Lord bless you all.
Dix's Peninsula Campaign was from June 24 to July 7, 1863. The 4th Delaware was now unassigned, King's Division, 12th Corps of the Dept. of Washington.
General Lee, still moving north to Pennsylvania, did not know where Hooker's Army was located. On the 28th of June, he learned that Hooker had been replaced with Major General George Meade and that the Union Army was concentrated around Frederick, Maryland - on his flank.
House, June 27, 1863
We are now at
the White House on our way to Richmond and by the help of God we intend
to celebrate the 4th of July there. Our cavalry is within 6 miles of
the doomed city. We are Jen. Keys bodyguard and
have no picket duty to do. Burnet
is captain of Co. E and Osmond
is our first Lieut. and Harper
is second, and I am acting orderly, but do not expect to get the appointment
for D. Stevenson friends
has been writing to the Colonel recommending him for promotion, and
I have nobody to intercede for me, and if I can get a commission in
another regiment I shall do it for there is so many good men in this
one with influential friends there is little chance for me. Give my
love to Johnny and all my friends. Let us still trust in the Lord. May
he bless you is my prayer. No more at present, but still remain your
true and faithful husband,
White House Landing on the Pamunkey River, Virginia
The 4th Delaware's regiment company muster roll for June 1863 reported that the regiment had been on reconnaissance to Aylett's Station to within 20 miles of Richmond, through Fort Magruder to Cumberland landing, across the Pamunkey River and onto White House, Virginia. Rankins, writing the report, also stated that, "it is raining like the Devil."
Gen. Erasmus D. Keyes
The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1st, 1863.
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There are many places to collect information on the Civil War. Since I am in the Washington, D.C. area, I have the great advantage of the Government Archives, in additional to any books that can be found.
But for now, I would like to mention that most of Matthew Bradys' images of the Civil War are in the Public Domain, and can be found at the National Archives Picture Division in Tacoma Park, Maryland, or the Library of Congress, just to mention a few. All of the battlefields that Stephen Buckson mentions are also within the general Washington, D.C. area.
Much of the history written here is from various sources, the regimental history of the Fourth Delaware Regiment is from The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and also from Institute for Civil War Research thanks to Mr. J.F. Walter.
for Civil War Research
J. F. Walter
7913 67th Drive
Middle Village, NY 11379
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