Saturday, February 19, 2011

Edward Van Wert

Edward Van Wert was born on November 19, 1839, in Groveland, Livingston County, New York, the son of Isaac (d. 1812) and Jemima Ann (Groesbeck, 1815-1844/48).

Isaac and Jemima were both born in Renssalear County, New York and were married at the bride’s home in New York in September of 1832. By 1844 the family had settled in Washtenaw County, Michigan where Jemima died in November of that year. According one report soon after the death of his wife Isaac left his children with relatives in Tyrone, Kent County, probably until the following year when he remarried a woman named Alemeda and they eventually settled in Bloomer, Montcalm County where they resided for about six months before moving to Hubbardston, Ionia County, living there for a little over a year and a half. By 1860 Edward (or "Edwin") was a mechanic working with his father and living with his family in Bloomer, Montcalm County.

Edward was 21 years old and residing in Montcalm County when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861.

On May 29th he wrote his parents to let them know he was still in Grand Rapids, “They think we will start from here next week [the regiment left on June 13] but they don’t know whether we will or not.” In any case, he had to stop writing since it was time “to fall [in] for dinner now.”

Shortly after the regiment arrived in Washington, Edwin wrote home to tell his family how the trip had gone.

I am well and in Washington. We started from Grand Rapids last Thursday [June 13] and arrived at Detroit [at] four o’clock in the afternoon. We ate supper in Detroit that the folks gave to us. We was received by a mass of people. We marched through the city and back again to the depot and then we ate our supper and then we went on board the steamer Ocean and went to Cleveland and from Cleveland we went to Pittsburgh and from Pittsburgh we took the cars for Harrisburg and from Harrisburg we took the cars for Baltimore. We took the cares for Washington and from Washington we marched to the banks of the Potomac river where we are encamped. We are in the Dist of Columbia and Virginia is on the other side of the river. We expect an attack on Washington every day now. There is forty thousand men that can be brought here in an hour’s notice. The 2nd [Michigan infantry] regiment us encamped about 80 rods from us. I have seen Vance Bays [?] and Geragom [?] and John Sessions

We was received with cheers at every station [along the way]. I got five cards that the ladies gave me at Grand Rapids and it says on one of them send me a lock of Jeff David [Davis] hair.

When we came to Baltimore we expected an attack from them so we was ordered to load all of our guns. When we got there every one of us had our guns locked and primed ready if there had been anything done. We intended to pitch right in and burn the city but we marched through the city and they never offered to touch us. We passed over the same bridge that the secessionists burnt down and where they tore up the track. There is guards all along the track now.

Forty thousand of our men I meant when I said there was forty thousand that could be brought here in an hour’s notice. It may be long before this letter reaches you that I will be dead and buried for we expect an attack every day the other night when I was on guard about 12 o’clock at night there was some body shot at here. The ball passed on in a stump. There has other guards been fired onto there. Was one fellow wounded pretty bad. The whole camp lays with their clothes on every night and their guns by their sides ready at a moment’s notice.

I am pretty near done writing all I have to say is give me liberty or give me death.

Tell mother to remember me for I think of her very often.

By early July the regiment was still camped along the Potomac, although word was going around the camp that they would soon march over into Virginia.

I take this opportunity to write a few words to let you know how we get along. I am well and in good spirits for we got orders to pack up this morning to march over in Virginia. I hurried and got my things packed up and I sat down to write this letter [since] in twenty minutes we will be under march. It may be before tomorrow night we will be in battle for they intend to clear every . . . man in Virginia out before we stop. Hurrah for the Union. Give us liberty or give us death is our motto. This is what we have been waiting for this good while. If we do get into a fight we will be hard chaps to handle for we are all ready to fight. You can stand and look and you can see some a singing and some a dancing and some hurrahing for the union and others saying now we will have Jeff Davis and there is some running to get their things ready and the drums and fifes adds to the scene. It is quite a sight to see ten hundred men or more get ready for a fight. The most that troubles us is that we won’t come into action.

He then went on to explain to his parents how picket duty worked in the Army of the Potomac.

Last night I stood picket guard last night over in Virginia. The way we stand on picket guard is we start from camp with forty men and we march over in Virginia and after we get over there about one mile there is five men left wit orders to halt every body that comes along unless they have got the countersign which is different every night. Then after they leave the first five men we march one mile further where we leave five [more men] and so on till we are all gone. Last night I was one of the last ones left, five or six miles in[to] Virginia. About one o’clock we heard the tramp of horses feet and in about ten minutes there was about twenty horsemen came along on full speed. There was so many of them we concluded it would be unsafe to attack them so we let them go by but they had no more than got by before there was six men came along all armed. When they came within hailing distance we halted;ted them. When they turned and run like the devil we fired at them but our shots did not do much hurt, it only wounded three men and one of them got away but we have got the other two in the guard house. I don’t know what they will do with them.

Write soon and let me know how you all are. You need not be afraid that I will not get the letters for we have got a mail carrier that brings our mail wherever we be.

Shortly after the Bull Run disaster, Edwin wrote home and included a map of the recent battle and described the various places on the map. In another letter written around this same time, Edwin informed his parents that he had been sick recently. He also let them know that the regiment was encamped on Arlington Heights, that the weather was very warm, and that the regiment was “rested from our battle at Bull’s run and ready to go in another week [?].” he thought that perhaps they would march into Virginia within the next few weeks and anticipated that “The coming battle will [be] the greatest and bloodiest that was ever fought. It is there that a great many will find a resting place. But if I fall on the field I fall fighting for liberty. But I hope for the best. I would like to come home one more to see you all. Tell mother that I would like [to] see her very much. Tell Phylancy and the rest of the children that I remember them.”

In late October he wrote home to let his family know that he was well. he also expressed his sadness to hear that his father was ill and that he hoped “you will get well in a short time and I wish I was there to assist you in your work for you must have a great deal to do but we must trust in God and he will provide for all our needs. I was in hopes you would enjoy good health all of you but sickness will come and we must all have our share.” he added again to his father the admonition to put his trust in God. “and I hope you will get well . . . and get along with your affairs.” Edwin then expressed his sense of guilt over having left the family in the lurch so to speak. “I feel that I have gone . . . away and leaving you alone to do all your work. I fear that it is your working so hard that brought you where are are,” bedridden “But I hope you will look over my . . . leaving you seeing that I . . . fight and help protect you “ and the “people and above all we are fighting for what our fathers’ fought before us and that is liberty, sweet liberty.” He also informed his parents that the regiment had moved since he wrote last and they were now encamped “on Eagle Hill near Fort Lyon and about one mile from Alexandria.”

On the 15th of December he wrote from camp.

I take this opportunity to write you a few words to inform you that I am well and enjoying myself very well. The last letter I wrote you we was encamped near Alexandria but we have moved from there out about five miles towards the rebels where we are encamped now is a very pleasant place it is in the country and in the woods. I wish you was here. . . and see us where we are at present. It would be quite a sight for anyone to see that never saw encampments and the drums and fifes and bands and of the men the shanties [?] and huts [?] of the camp makes quite a sight. Then go down from the camp to the drilling field and see us drilling eight or ten thousand men marching in all shapes. One time we will be in a mass and the order will be given to deploy column and then . . . we will be in line of battle ready to [meet] the rebels.

And then go with me out on picket and walk my solitary beat at night and [there] comes a ball over your head. I am thinking you would not think it was very agreeable and then go with us on the battle field and see what you can see there. You can see some dying and some lying there . . . and you can really see that some killed . . . and then a little. . . farther and there you can see not only one but hundreds of them laying there, some dead and some just alive and crying for water and some will ask if you will not tell their folks that they died on the battle field and then some will lie there [sic?] leg broken or their arm or wounded in some way and they will plead for you to help them but that you cannot because you must stay in the ranks until you are shot down and you do not know how soon that will be for the balls whiz thick and faster but that makes no disappearance for we must keep on until one party or the other gains the victory and then go with me on the field of battle of the field after the battle and see I will not try to explain the [scene?] that presents itself to your sight you can judge for yourself.

And then after the battle is over comes the burying of the dead and that is a very sad task.

I want mother or Phylancy to make me a work jacket to help keep me [warm] and . . . ask Phylancy is she has received a little present I sent her or not.Tell mother that I think of her very often and tell the children that I think of them too.

He was present for duty from January through April of 1862. On March 2, 1862, he wrote home from the regiment’s winter quarters.

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well and enjoying good health. I received your letter dated Feb. 28th [?] and I was glad to hear from you and I was glad to receive a letter from Phylancy. Tell her and Mother and the children that I think of them very often. . . . You wished me to write and inform how the war is progressing here. I suppose you have received the news of the late victories of the union troops in capturing forts Donelson and Henry . . . and other places which I will not mention. The talk here is that the war will soon to come to a close. We are under marching orders at the present time that is the whole army of the Potomac is under marching orders. There will be in less than two weeks two hundred thousand men on the way to meet the foes of our country and if we are victorious in the coming battles which is about to be fought the war is to a close. But there will be a large number of us that will never come of[f] from the battle field alive. But if we fall on the field we fall fighting for liberty and I for one will stand by the stars and stripes till she waves over a free land. You wrote that you have plenty to eat but not much clothing to wear. I wish you had some of clothes that will be thrown away when we start on the march. I have got a good pair of pants and coat two pairs of shirts and drawers three pairs of shoes that I will have to throw away, and most all of the boys is in the way; there will be hundreds of dollars worth of clothing thrown away when we march.

We get our pay every two months. We get our pay the 15th of this month. We get $13 a month, or $26 every pay day. I was glad you had received my likeness. I guess you think it is one [ugly?] looking thing but you must remember that we are men no more for we are soldiers now.

I have nothing more to write so good by from Edwin Van Wert

Tonight on dress parade we got the orders to be ready tomorrow morning to march to the scene of action and it may be before this letter reaches you I will lay a cold and mangled corpse on the field of battle. But if I survive the coming battle I will inform you and if I should fall I leave my things in the hands of Lieut. [Solomon] Tumey the (2nd) Lieut of our company and if you don’t hear from [him] you can write and get information of Lieut. Tumey for he is going to stay in camp to take care of the tents and if you never find out anything about my things if I should not survive the battle, you can find out something about it when the regiment is discharged, for Lieut Tumey lives at Lyons, or Muir and you can find out by him. But all I have got that you would get for you would not get any clothing for they never bother with them. So I will state what I have got so you can tell whether you got it all or not . . . I have got $66.33. I have got some more but I will take that with me. Well I close for it is six o’clock and I must get ready to start tomorrow morning.

Edwin wrote home shortly after the regiment was engaged at the battle of Williamsburg in early May. “We are on our way to Richmond now,” he wrote, “and expect a battle soon and a big one if the cursed rebels don’t run again but thank God they can’t run much farther. . . . Tell mother that I think of her and think of her when I was on the battlefield.” He also “nclosed some papers that will show you how you can get my bounty money and land if I should get killed.”

Edwin was wounded in the fleshy part of one of his legs on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. He was evacuated from the field shortly afterwards and, according to one Giles Broad, placed aboard the hospital transport Elm City which brought him to a hospital in Washington, DC. “He is in good spirits,” noted Mr. Broad, “and soon be on shore in hospital . . . God grant that he may soon be restored.”

Indeed, by June 11 he was a patient in Judiciary Square hospital when he wrote home to tell his parents that he had in fact been slightly wounded in the leg. “I take this opportunity,” Edwin wrote on June 11, “to write and inform you that I have received a light wound in the leg but it is getting along finely. There were quite a number killed in t our regt and still more wound ed when we were coming up in the boat to Washington there was a gentleman [who] wrote a letter for me to you informing you that I was wounded. I am in hopes you have received the letters. I have written back to the Capt. to send some money that the boys are owing me. I wrote and directed him to send it directed to you if it comes please keep it for me until I come home on furlough. I am coming home on furlough as quick as I get able to ride on the cars.”

His wounding had given Edwin pause, it seems. Although a religious man to some degree, it was only after he was shot that he actually noted a biblical passage reference in oine of his letters. At the end of his June 11 leeter he cited Hebrews 13:8, which says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” he then went on to add his own religious thought. “”Since I left friends kindred and home strange vicissitudes have befallen me but here is one friend who changeth not Blessed Jesus thou art infinite immutable of everything else. . . .”

At some point during the summer he was transferred to Cranch hospital in Washington. He was a patient there when he wrote home to his father on August 1.

Although he was reportedly hospitalized from July of 1862 through January of 1863, in fact he may have returned to the Regiment and was reportedly wounded a second time on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. In any case, he was in Cranch hospital in Washington, DC, when he dictated a letter home to his mother on September 1. “Here I am back again in the hospital with the loss of my left forefinger -- I have been in but one battle but it was a pretty hard one and I am thankful to be as well off while so many are suffering such agonies.I came in this morning with hundreds of wounded. We have had some reverses but our army is getting in position to wipe out all their injuries. We have avenged the battle of Bull Run and [no one] will ever call us cowards again. We hope this fight will settle the question but if not we will fight till they are subdued or annihilated.”

By November he had been transferred to the 16th Street U.S. general hospital in Philadelphia.

Sometime between the end of November and late February of 1863, Edwin was sent back to Washington and transferred to the camp for convalescents, near Alexandria, Virginia and by February of 1863 he was reportedly working as a teamster, probably for the Brigade wagon trains.

He was still convalescing in early March when he wrote home to let his famiy know that he had recently received a box of things his family had sent him. He “found it to be a good one and I found mother’s good old mince pie in the bottom. It is a bully one and the cake was good too. The box came good there was not a cake broke and the shirts was all right. I am a thousand times obliged to you for sending the box to me and I will try and repay you some time. I am getting better than U was and I think that I will go to the regt tomorrow. I am not able to do duty but I can go back to the regt while they are laying still and . . . they drill twice a day. I hope that I will stand it for Uncle Sam needs every man he has got for there will be some warm work in the three months to come.”

He then added that things were quiet in Virginia. “The army’s not doing much now for they are getting ready to make a general movement and then you can expect some news as quick as I get to the regt if I go I will write you a letter. Until you get a letter from me after you get this you had better not write for I would not get them. You can expect a letter from me soon. . . . Tell Rosalie that I will remember the raisins she got to put in the pie. In regard to the needle book that you say that Phylancy sends I don’t see it in the box. I am glad to hear that you enjoy good health. But I am sorry to hear that you are troubled with the ruhm [rheumatism?] and hope that you will get well of it.” He also included a sketch of the camp including a diagram of the arrangement of the huts , dimensions, etc.

He was still in camp on March 7 when he wrote home.

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am here in this camp yet. I wrote you a letter the 3rd of this month and I stated that I thought that I would go to the regt but I don’t think that I will go in about two weeks. The Dr thought that if I went to the regt now that I would be taken sick again by being exposed to the cold and stormy weather, the kind we have here at this time. He told me that I had better stay until the weather became more settled and warm. I said in the other letter that I had received the box you sent and found it all that I could desire and I thank you very much for sending.

In regard to the Needle book that you said Phylancy sent and that I wrote I could not find in the box I found this morning . . . in the end of the papers and it proved to be a very good one indeed. Very handy and I am very grateful to Phylancy for taking such an interest in my welfare. I have got the one that you sent me when I was on Arlington Heights. I have got it yet and will keep it and if come home I will show it to you. Tell Morrison that he must grow fast and get a Big Man and Manda she be a good girl (which she is) and Rosalie I am very much obliged to her for the raisins she got for my pie, and Father I am very much obliged to you for the trouble you took to send me the box and the money you got to but in it and mother I am very much obliged to her for washing my shirts and sending them to me and that pie it was worth a thousand that you could get here. I am very thankful to you all for what you have done for me and the trouble it cost you and I hope the time will come when I will be able to repay you for your kindness toward me.

In the other letter I set down some of the prices here that is I mean in this camp things are cheaper at Washington or Alexandria and not much either. I wrote to you in one letter that the Lt sent me a letter and it stated in it that he had promoted me to a corporal for good conduct in the company in regard to doing my duty promptly.

You spoke in your letter that you would send me your likeness if you thought I would stay long enough in one place. If you would send them I think that I would get them before I left and if I don’t I have fixed it with the post office master to send all my letters to me if I go to the regt. So if you will send them to me I will cherish above anything else I would like to see how you all looked.

By the 17th of April Edwin had left the convalescent camp and rejoined the regiment. He wrote home to inform his family on that day that he was well and he also included a photograph of himself. And to chide his family for not writing more frequently (a ritual he would perform regulaarly throughout his correspondence with his parents). I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well and . . . and hope that these lines will find you all enjoying good health. I have not received a letter from you yet that is since I left the convalescent camp. I have written three or four and have not received one from you. With this letter I send you my likeness. I thought you would like to see how I looked after soldiering two years. It may be that it will be the last time that you will see me. We are under marching orders at the present time. We would be on the march now but the weather is so bad that the artillery cannot move and we will have to wait until the [roads dry]. In regard to my likeness if you get it write and inform me what you think of the Soger Boy. It is not a very good one but as good as can be taken in the army for they cannot have very good accommodations for doing such business.

Edwin was among a large number of Third Michigan troopers who were awarded the Kearny Cross for their participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863. On May 27 he wrote to his father to tell him the news -- and to gently remind him to write more often.

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well at present and hope that these few lines will find you the same. I have not received a letter from you in a long time. I have written three or four since I have received one from you and I am anxious to hear from you. You said you would answer all the letter that I wrote and when I do not receive an answer I think there has something happened.

We came off from picket yesterday. We had a hard time going and coming. We have to go 9 miles on picket. We stay four day. Yesterday after we came from picket the division was paraded on over to the brigade parade ground and the badge of honor was presented to them that was most worthy of them. Genl Sickles and Staff Gen Birney and Staff Genl Ward and Staff Genl Graham and Staff Gen Haman and staff. Besides a large number of ladies was present on the occasion. There was three from our company that got them [Kearny Crosses] and I am pleased to inform you that I received a Badge of Honor and I know you had rather hear that than to hear that I was court martialled for cowardice. I feel proud to say that I never flinched before the enemy or left for the rear like a great many that I know. And I hope that if the time ever comes that I ever show myself a coward in battle that some [body] will shoot me dead. With this mail I send you a [paper] that was given to me for the purpose of sending home. In it you will find the list of the names that got them in the division and will see my name in Company E 3d Mich. It is spelled wrong. Went instead of Wert. I will close my letter saying I hope I never will dishonor the Badge I wear on my breast.

Edward was a Corporal present for duty with the regiment in late May of 1863.

By early August it was Edwin’s turn to reply to the charge that he had written home recently. On August 7 he wrote his parents,

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well. We are encamped at present at Sulphur Springs, Virginia. It is a very pleasant place. We have all the sulphur water we want to drink of from the celebrated Sulphur Springs. I received a letter from you dated July 29th and I was very glad to hear from you. You said that you had not received a letter from me in a long time.

But the reason why I did not write was because I did not have any paper or envelopes. And more I had not time when we was on the march. For then we marched all day I felt like laying down and rest my weary limbs. I wrote a letter the 2nd but I thought I would write this day if the other miscarried. . . . I cannot tell how long we will stay here. We may stay 2 months and we may not stay 2 days. But the opinion is that we will stay here until we get recruited up and rested. The weather is very warm here now. But it is not quite so warm as it was for we have had some cooling showers. In regard to health I never enjoyed better health than I do now and the army strength is very healthy and that is a big thing.

Tell mother and all the rest that I think of them all. In regard to our time it will be out the 11th of June 1864 and then I will see you once more if not but a short time.

In late August the Third Michigan was detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent north, first to New York City and then on to Troy, New York, to enforce the upcoming draft. The time proved a much-needed period of rest and relaxation for the “boys” and there were in fact no riots to quell. On August 26 Edwin wrote his parents,

I take this opportunity to write and inform you how and where I am. In regard to my health it is very good. We are now in New York City enforcing the draft. We started from the army of the Potomac the 15th and arrived in this city the 21st. We came by water. We embarked at Alexandria. We are stationed at present on Chambers Street one block from Broadway. The draft has went off all quiet so far. But there is some talk of a riot -- but they had better keep quiet for there is at present about 35,000 troops in the city all old [i.e. veteran] troops and they are all from the west and I am thinking that they would find a hard time if they make any disturbance. I have not received a letter from you since we left the army. I hope you will write as soon as you get this. The opinion is here that if Charleston falls the war is about closed. The talk is that they are going to send the troops that is here to [Virginia?] as soon as the draft is over. . . . We have a bully time here. I have been nearly all over the city.

And on September 2, he wrote home that “we are in Troy. We left New York the 29th Aug. We went up the old North river [?] . . . We are stationed in the Court House Square. We are here to enforce the draft. I was looking in the city directory and found a man by the name of Nicholas Van Wert. He lives on Pitt [?] Street in Lainsburg [?]. I have not been up there yet but I guess I will. Today I saw a man that said he knew lots of Van Werts in Pittstown [?]. We are stationed on Congress Street in the Court House Square. We board at Carpenter’s Hotel and we have bully [?] food [?] and all we want to eat. I don’t know how long we will stay here. In the letter I wrote before this I wrote to have you send me some money. I hope you will send it as quick as you can, If you have not sent it yet please direct to Washington then; it will come wherever I am. . . .Give my respects to mother.

By the end of September the regiment had returned to Virginia and was encamped near Culpeper. On September 22 Edwin wrote “We left Troy about a week ago and now we are in the army of the Potomac and expect a battle soon [and] it will be a hard one. The talk is here that peace will soon be declared. We was in New York and Troy and had the best of rations. But now we will have to come to hardtack again. The talk is now that our regt. will be converted into a mounted regt. to be called the 2nd Mounted Rifles; if they do so we will stay 3 years longer but we are not obliged to [re]enlist. Our time is out the 10th of June 1864. I think I will enlist for three years more. I received from you $5.00 which I am very much obliged. I was sorry to hear that you was sick and hope you will soon recover. I send my respects to the family [and] please give my respects to all inquiring friends.”

By October of 1863 Edwin was reported as a Corporal and sick in the hospital. Indeed, sometime between the end of September and October he was taken ill, although the cause remains unknown. In any case, he was in Fairfax Seminary hospital when he wrote home on November 11. “I expected to go to the regt before this but I think I shall be able to return soon. I have not received a letter fro you since the one informing me that you had sent me a box. In regard to the box I am very much obliged to you for sending it for it done me a great deal of good. But I wish you would write as quick as you get this. You spoke in your letter that you thought of moving from Hubbardston. If you move please write and inform me where you go. I have not much to write. I send my respects to all and tell mother that I am very much obliged to her for the nice things she sent me.”

He remained hospitalized probably through January of 1864, and possibly returned to duty sometime in February. In any case he was back on duty by March 12 when he wrote home. “I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well and hope this will find you the same. I recd. a letter from you last night informing me that you had recd. the fifty dollars I sent. I am glad it came through all safe. We have not got our pay yet but expect to get it soon and as quick as we do I will send all I can home for I owe some which I will have to pay and what I have left I will send. I am glad that you [are] all enjoying good health and I hope you will continue to do so. Tell Phylancy she must write and Mandy too and Bub and Rosy. Tell mother I won’t reenlist. I have received quite a number of letters from Mich since you left -- they inquire after your health and how you like it there. I tell some of them not very well.”

On March 19 he wrote to his sister Amanda, thanking her for her recent letter -- and added that he was going to fix her up with one of the men in his company.

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that your kind and welcome letter came to hand tonight and I was very glad to hear from you and to know that you are well. I recd. a letter from Phylancy last night and was very glad to hear from her and I wish you all would write often. I have not recd. a letter from Rosalie yet but expect one from her soon. You wrote a very good letter and I wish you would write often. You must have father let you write his letters for him for it will learn you to write. You compose a very good letter. Now I wish I could do as well. I am very glad you all want me to come home. . . . I send my respects to all of you. We have very good times here now. We have got good quarters and plenty of good things to eat. We have plenty of coffee and sugar, potatoes, dried apple, beans, rice, onions, salt pork, fresh beef and plenty of good soft baker’s bread. So you can see we won’t starve. We have been on picket three times and on sentry [?] duty [?] twice since we came back. We expect to have a fight about the first of May and if I get through all right I will see you all again. . . .You must excuse [the] poor writing and spelling for I am writing by candle light and cannot see very plain.

In regard to Phylancy’s beau she found on the cars [?] I hope he’s a smasher [?]. But I have got one for you. He is a bully little fellow and I know you would like him. [He] belongs to the same company that I do. He is going to write to you. But I would not answer it this time. He talks [about coming] home with me and then you can see him. He took care of me when I was sick. He stays in the same tent with me. But I am afraid the love that my little sister has got for her brother will be another’s when she sees the soldier I picked out for her. His name is Dwight Tousley.

On April 19 he wrote home to his parents to let them know that he was

well and enjoying all the comforts of a soldier’s life. I have just returned from picket. We were gone four days. We had a hard time for it was cold and stormy weather. We are under marching orders and expect soon to be on our way to Richmond. I have not recd. a letter from you in quite a while. In my last letter I wrote that I could not get my money to send home till next month but today I found a fellow that had some that he did not want to use at present and offered to send it to me so I got $30.00, thirty dollars, and I send it today by Express and as quick as we get pay I will send what I can after I pay what I have borrowed. I would like to send more but I cannot until we get our pay.

I send my best respects to all of you and mother. I hope soon to see her again and the girls. I will be very glad when I can see you all. I have some letters from Michigan and they inquire after your health and how you like it there. I will send $33.00 and I want you to send $1.00 in postage stamps to me.

This was quite possibly the last letter his family received from Edward before he was taken prisoner on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia.

On May 2 Edward wrote to a friend, Fred Tuttle in Maple Rapids, Michigan.

I take this opportunity to write and inform you that I am well and am still in Dixie’s Land. We are having quite pleasant weather now but we have been having some cold and stormy weather. We have moved from our winter quarters and now live in our shelter tents. We found it quite cold sleeping on the ground as long as the weather was cold and stormy but I think we will get along well enough now. I don’t have near as good a time here as I did while at home. I suppose you enjoy your sugar parties and I suppose you do your share of the kissing the girls. I hope you have not had the misfortune to burn your hand again and if you do I hope you will have Miss Lizzie [?] to comfort you. I think she makes a good comforter don’t you? I would not leave [?] if we was there now playing blind man’s bluff . I would be willing to burn my hand the next time for the same of being comforted. But I [don’t expect to see Mich again for New Jersey will be my future home and if you ever [?] see Lizzie which I have no doubt you will, please give her my best respects. We are under marching orders and expect soon to be on our way to Richmond and with the army in as good condition as it is and Genl Grant in command I think we will go through. Not without some hard fighting though and if we have the luck to take Richmond and I get through all right I will write and let you know all about it.

My folks are safe in Nine Land [?] and like it there better than they expected. They enjoy the best of health and their garden looks bully so they said in their last letter. If you deem this worthy a reply I shall be very happy to hear from you at all times.

Edward was transferred as a prisoner-of-war to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was confined at the prison in Florence, South Carolina on October 5, 1864. He was paroled at N.E. Ferry, North Carolina, on February 27, 1865.

He died on April 20, 1865, of chronic diarrhea at the hospital (probably Chesapeake) at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He was reportedly buried in Hampton National Cemetery: grave no. 1442, although the cemetery has no record of his interment.

In 1882 Isaac applied for a dependent father’s (no. 294069) but the certificate was never granted.

1 comment:

jt said...

I have the original letters from which this narrative
was developed.
These were given to me by my Great Aunt,
Amanda Hoover, who received them from her mother, Rose VanWert-Hoover, sister of Edwin.
I also have a tin- type of his "likeness".

I almost became a history teacher because of these
letters, but only received a Minor in History fro my Alma Mater, Western Michigan University.
His grave at Hampton is apparently mis-marked by
a misspelling of his last name VanWirt, instead of the correct spelling, VanWert
Edwin VanWert was my Great Great Uncle.

Jere T. Hoover