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Robert H. Caldwell Papers: Transcripts - MS 623
Elmore January 18th (63)
I just write a few lines to let you know that we are all well Juliet appreyed you of the fact that your Father had gone to Nashville to see after Robert well we got a dispatch from him last night that the (lall?) was extra bed and that he was resting well[.] I send you the 3 letters we received from Robert this week. The 21st have lost about 25 out of their company[.] you can hardly tell what a relief it was to me when I got those letters as the news had come in the Paper, that he was seriously wounded. I am in hopes his Father will bring him home with him[.]
oh William when shall we have an end to such a state of things it is sickening indeed there were 2 killed out of Co K and several wounded[.] I think we may be truly thankful that it was no worse with Robert[.] if I can get him home again hel not leave un till he is sound again. in the dispatch last night your Father said he would be home in 12 days. we have been having rain rain mud mud till we have got almost mixed but yesterday it turned cold last night snow fell to the depth of 1/2 foot and it looks fair now for good sleighing I hope when I hear from you you will be at Memphis I would rather have you there than have you dragged around the country.
Corinth Miss Jan 27th/63
My Loving Sister
I received your very kind favor of the 18th inst. to day. The day before yesterday I read an envelope full of letters from Robert, with a note from Mother.
You will imagine my feelings on learning that Robert had escaped so much better than I had feared.
I trust by this time that our Dear brother is at home and enjoying the society and kind attentions of loved ones.
I shall write to him at length when I learn that he has arrived. I am compelled to take exceptions to his views of Gen Sherman, who is the idol of his Army. No one can have a higher admiration of Gen. Rosecrans than myself. I can "Hurrah for Rosey" as heartily as any one, I can assure him, but I must also (gain?) my voice for the "Hero of Shiloh" if not the Hero of Vicksburg.
He fought well but was overpowered by four times his own force and was compelled to retire from the bloody field without accomplishing what he sought. The fault was not Sherman's but Grant's who failed to support him by way of Jackson, according to a prearranged plan when Sherman left for Memphis from (Horncane?) Creek Miss. I wrote you and I believe told you all about what was expected of the two Armies. You know as well as I do what followed.
Juliet your desire for me to visit home is measured only by my own. I can scarcely imagine any greater happiness than would be afforded by a short visit to the Dear Dear Ones at Home, But Dear Sister, I fear that cannot be as soon as either of us may desire. But let us live in hopes for this good time coming and hope that it may come soon. Our Regiment will probably leave for Memphis, or near there tomorrow. We will go by cars, and anticipate a fast trip. We go by way of Jackson Tenn. I sent you by Capt Blain, a copy of (Scotts "Sabley of the Lake"?). You told me sometime since of the pleasure that you had in reading "Evangeline". I read it a short time before leaving Home, and with intense interest and delight nothing can be more touching than the simple story of Evangelines love her constancy, and her perseverance under trials, the most sever in following the lost one as he (?) to flee from her approach. How touching the last scene, when she found him (?) on his (?)
The Prologue contains much fine writing and is worth all the rest. I suppose that you have read "Hiamather". If you have not you will not fail to do so. It is Sam Gillian's best effort and will (full?) repay your attention "The Famine" cannot be excelled. I am glad that you have got to reading Dickens. I want you to read the Waverly Novels by Scott. You will not fail to love the (brink?) of the series. The "Heart Mid Sothian".
I send you Photographs of the new Com. Staff, rather inferior pictures. taken on a rainy day with a bad light. write often and about everything you can interest me[.] love to all[.]
love from your loving Brother
White Station Feb 17th/63
To the Dear Ones at Home
In what words can I convey to gain an idea of the anguish that I experienced to day when John told me of our Dear Dear Roberts death. How can I find consolation for you My Dear Parents and now more than ever precious Sister, when I find none for myself.
John had been to Memphis and came back this afternoon, he came into my room and showed me a (?) Paper of Thu 14th which contained in one short line the sad story. Oh how thankful we aught to be that He had a Kind Father with him to the last, to perform those kind offices that only a Father, Mother or a Sister can, To receive his last words, His parting glance, and to receive his hands final pressure, as He stepped into the Cold, damp Stream.
Our Brave, Noble Robert has gone to join the glorious band of Heroes Who have gone before us, Among the many Thousands O brave hearts who have received the summons on the battle field, which bid them "Come up higher", no nobler Soul has answered the summons than our own Robert.
Among the Thousands who have offered themselves at their Country's Shrine, none did so more willingly than HE. May we not Cherish the (?) that He has been transferred from the Army of The Union to that Glorious Army above. Let us believe this with all our hearts, and be comforted.
John considers it almost providential that Robert was permitted to visit home at the time that he did. It would have seemed so much harder to have parted with him had (?) not seen him since he left Home the first time.
Eighteen long months ago I grasped his hand for the last time, and little did I think then that it was so. But "God's Ways, God Makes our ways".
May it be some comfort to you my Dear Parents and Sister to know that I am coming Home before long, and to stay at Home I am arriving home honorably too. I have had the matter under advisement for some time and had thought of coming sometime during this coming summer but now I will come sooner. The exact time I cannot name now. I cannot say too much of John Rices friendship He is everything to me[.] Hoping that God's Grace may be sufficient for you in this dark hour I remain your afflicted-
Camp at (Smymoo?)[Smyrna?] river
Feby 18th 1863
I promised you when I wrote you last, that I would write you again someday, but the fact is Robert, a soldier has no business making promises for he makes them only to forfeit them he cannot tell what a day may bring forth, but what he may be on duty or something of this kind, I hope by this time Dear Boy, that you are much better and have arrived safe in Elmore (as I was informed that you were in Cincinnati when I last wrote you I though you were at home until after I had written). You cannot imagine how surprised I was this afternoon upon hearing the death of Geo Rice. I was up to Murfreesboro the other day and he was there so much better I thought he would soon get well, but poor Boy was taken away while far away from friends and home. How many many young men who left home buoyant with hope that they would live to see the time when peace would sustain them to their loved friends, are now gone to their long homes, and their remains left to bleach in the blood stained ground upon which they fought for their Countries freedom.
How hard it seems Robert to have they whom you love and respect, shot down by your side and then you forced to leave them to the mercies of an insolent foe, and while breathing their last to be stripped and damned by them. After the battle, I walked over the battle ground and there saw poor (Leon?) and others stripped of their clothing as if some uncivilized being had sauntered over the ground, and perpetuated this barbarous act. And this I though, "why" this was done by men who profess to be educated and refined, how can men who have been (sired?) in a Christian land act thus? surely it is as "Burns" says, "Mans inhumanity to man, makes countless thousands mourn". Robert how much I have thought lately about being a Christian I would give anything to be a good Christian, an honest one I have thought since the fight, more about this than ever before. I was ... ... and for during the fight, and brought out without a scratch, and to whom should I be thankful but to God who has watched over me and supplied my every want this far in life I am satisfied that I shall never be happy until I am an honorable Christian. Robert will you think of me in your prayers? ask that I my become better. I will endeavor to become better by daily watchfulness and prayer[.]
I am well pleased with the place I now have. though it was quite hard for me to leave the Regt, Michael Rice is with me, he send love, and says tell Robert to hurry and get well. I think the army will soon make another sound move for Chattanooga (or perhaps this site) If so, you can look out, for Rosecrans is sure to win. Our Army has recruited quite a large reinforcement since you left and they are good men, all of them old troops at least much of them. Robert you must write me and give me all of the news. Write soon for I shall be writing untill I hear from you[.] My Love to all enquiring friends, especially to your Father and Mother
Your Friend as Ever
Amos E. Wood
1st Battalion Pioneer Corps
Burns Feby 22nd 1863
My Ever Dear
How sad to us was the news that wrung your mother heart. How can we comfort you & yours in your bereavement. The ways of God are mysterious & past finding out. But my Sister you have this to comfort you, that Robert in all his bearings to you was a most affectionate boy well disposed and kind.
You have been called to part with one of your 3 Jewels. Remember they were only lent to you, and that at sometime the master would call for them
Again my sister another source of comfort to you, is the fact, that he died in prying his dear country from the worst foes that it ever had and in doing that he was warring not only for our common country, but for his own fireside & home
Cannot you be comforted in this sad loss? Is there no value in silence to heal the wounded spirit? Is there no physician near?
Yes dear Jane there is[.] Look with me in the dim future, and you may find you will believe that Robert was snatched away from you perhaps to prepare a way for you in the Great future to come. Yes Jane I do firmly believe that although unseen by you, yet he is around and about you for good.
Watching you and yours protecting you from harm[.]
I am no spiritualist. But I piously believe that our friends are ever near to us. What better proof have we than this solitary fact, that when immersed in the cares of life, and not conscious of thinking of the loved ones taken from us, all at once some fragrant spot in the memory of our loved ones come uppermost in our thoughts, and we almost again hold communion with the dead[.] Peace at present to us Sister. But alive with the hopes of once more seeing them again face to face
Is it not a happy thought Sister Mine, that our seperation from our loved ones is only for a brief time?
If I could how cheerfully would I restore your Robert to you alive.
But God can & will give you faith believe that you will again with all your family see him face to face where there will be no wars, no grief nor no parting
Sister Mary feels for you much very much. She loved Robert much. She has wrote you
Accept the assurances of a Brothers Sympathy in your Bereavement
Believe me ever yours
Whites Station Feb 23rd/63
My Dear Father & Mother
It is natural that in writing to you that I should continue to speak of our own Dear lamented Robert.
But what can I say? What can I say that can comfort those whom God hath not comforted. I can realize in a measure the feelings that (sound?) our heart strings. I feel that the blow is a heavy one, crushing in its weight but I trust that you may not be overwhelmed by its power, but that you may be enabled to roll off the burden of sorrow that obbsesses you and look upward to Him who alone is able to bind up the broken hearts. May We not ever from the depths of sorrow into which we are placed look upward and hear the balm of consolation poured into our bleeding hearts, even from the hand of our Heavenly Father. May we not all learn a lesson from this, our great trial. Have we not as a family, placed too great an estimate on the things of this life? While we have (rendered?) unto Caesar the things that are Ceasars, have we rendered unto God, the things that are Gods! Our treasures are taken from us one by one and placed. we now reason to believe in a far better land than this. May this bring about the result of turning our minds and hearts from the (Purest of all?) things of Earth to the enduring (niches?) of Heaven,
You know not what a source of consolation it is to me to know that my Dear Brother had so kind and loving a Father with him to the last. When I compare his fate with what I have seen at different times since I entered the service, I cannot help feeling very, very Thankful that it was as well with Robert as it was, How many how very many have I seen enter the dark valley alone, no eye but a stranger's met their gaze as the cold waves dashed over theirs, they met the King of Demons alone, but with our Dear Robert how different. How Thankful we ought to be. At Shiloh, how many hundreds did I see who without Father, Mother, Brother or Sister near them to secure their last token, breathe out their last on that bloody field.
It was however on sunday night that I saw a marked example of paternal affection. The fate of our Army on the close of that (?) day hung upon a thread. The Rebel cavalry at sundown came up to our force and fired on our hospital where we had five or six hundred wounded. We were situated on a high bluff direct above the river and our only escape from the showering of bullets that was being rained upon us was in descending the bank to the river's edge. This was terrible work for the poor wounded men, one (?) attracted my particular notice. A father and son were assisting each other down the bank, both were wounded severely. The son however had a leg shattered and torn by a causeon shot and was well night helpless. his Father however stuck by him and assisted him all that his own crippled condition would allow[.] I lost sight of them during the excitement that followed when the Gun boats commenced throwing their storm of shell over our heads. Only one other instance did I see of this nature and that was two Rebel Brothers wounded and lying side by side on the same (?) ministering to each others wants to the extent of their (relative?) abilities.
I recd two letters from home to day in one envelope one from Juliet. I did not receive any letter containing stamps, but did secure those letters written by Robert from the battle field. I do not think that you secured all the letters that I wrote from Corinth. I sent my Photograph from there[.] I trust that I shall be able to come home before long until then write often and at length Same to Juliet.
(?) your affectionate Son William
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