Michigan in the Civil War

Vosburgh, Wash.

Forty-three letters written to "his girl" Ella, from Hilton Head, Sea Brook, and Beaufort, S.C.; City Point, Va.; White House Landing; Raleigh. He explains about the regiment being under arrest and their pay stopped until a story of their setting fire to the barracks and horse stables in Chicago is investigated. Eventually they are reinstated. He voices personal, religious, and patriotic thoughts, and is disgusted with the profanity heard in camp.

On December 28, 1862 they are aboard the Robert Morris going to Yorktown. Some "soldiers are running from bow to stern, some gambling, and others arguing the causes of the war." They pass Mt. Vernon. They have a pleasant camp on the banks of the York river where they can see ironclads, gunboats, and vessels of all descriptions. They fish and gather oysters.

They are sent on detached duty to a very pleasant camp, Sea Brook, S.C., to help guard the island. The residents left on the island are mostly Negroes. In the Captain's office, he does some writing and works on monthly reports. The men play ball, drill, and have dress parade. He tells of a brawl between a group from a Massachusetts cavalry unit and the 5th New York Infantry over two bottles of sherry.

In January, 1864, he is appointed Quartermaster Sergeant. He explains the duties of a quartermaster. He comments on the war and the attitude of the folks back home.

In February, 1864, headquarters in the field are on Parker's Plantation, Fla. Then they are on the march, driving the enemy before them. Guerrillas are very thick all around them. They scout the enemy forces and forage. The brigade, on the front before Petersburg, camps in a wheat field; "It looked hard to see so nice a crop destroyed." The brigade was engaged in one fight and numerous skirmishes. He comments on the hardships the men are enduring--sun strokes, sleeping in the rain without rubber blankets, and not enough to eat.

May 18 they rest in camp three miles from the front, having been with the 76th Pennsylvania, fifty-two hours deployed as skirmishers within rifle range of enemy batteries. There is a description of one encounter. The weather was rainy and the roads bad so that supplies were hard to get. He comments on camp temptations. In June there is a slow advance to the front, "every inch of ground desperately contended for ... the line of battle over fifteen miles." On August 18 there is an engagement at Jones Landing, Va. in which the "brigade lost fearfully." Back in camp with about one hundred men left, he spoke of the support of a colored troop who turned and fled after the first volley. "They will charge when highly excited, but will not hold what they take."

The April 25, 1865, letter expresses sadness at the death of Lincoln. There are a description of Raleigh and comments on Johnston's army coming in as fast as paroled.

Vosburgh was in the 115th New York Infantry.

The collection includes originals and transcripts of the letters, as well as a partial subject index.