Coit, Charles M. (1838-1878) to his family
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Describes the circumstances under which Mr. Woolley, Captain Uphan, and Lieutenant Ives have resigned or otherwise left the service. Also critiques reporters' accounts of the battle and attempts to describe the battle more clearly for his family. Describes the burning of the railroad bride by the retreating rebels as a way to prevent their capture. Ends the letter by saying that the regiment is off to Beaufort. Predicts that only 300 rebel soldier are there and that there will be no fighting.
In camp opposite Newbern, Mar. 17 Dear mother sister & Bbrother, I can write but a 1-ew lines this evening but shall put a stamp on this letter as it has just crossed my mind that you may have not received my former letter because they were franked. I don't think that is the trouble but I can think of nothing else & I answer I have been constantly thinking of it since I received yours yesterday & am fully concerned about it for my dear home & I know how I did feel when the Regt received one mail & I had nothing. The letters cannot be miscarried because I have written the direction in ink & been particular to write very plain. When I have a good opportunity I direct several & then carry them in my pocket with paper & then I can write with a pencil where ever I happen to be at the time. I am entirely out of stamps & stamped envelopes & did not write you to send more because I spoil them in carrying & I supposed franking as good. If this does not reach you I shall really think the P 0 Department has a spite of some kind against me. I shall send by Mr. woolley who has resigned & goes by this steamer. Mr. w. had just "married a wife" & I suppose wants to see her not the true cause of his resignation is this. The methodist conference meets soon & he knows if he is not present he will get no situation for the coming year & he thinks the war will soon be over & he will be out of employment. Capt. Uphan, 1st. Lt. Ives, & perhaps Lt. Mason of our Waterbury Co also go by this boat. Capt. Upham has a furlough on account of his wound. I believe the doctors do not consider his life in danger tho' it is a bad wound. Lt. Ives left his quite large business in his father's charge & he is now very sick, so being his desire to see his father, he feels that he resigned in justice to his family or sacrifice entirely his business on which he is dependent for their support when the war ends. He hopes to be able to settle the business in some way & return soon to the Regiment. In this we all unite with him for he is a fine officer & a general favorite in the Regt. Lt. Mason has the consumption & has not done a days duty since we left Annapolis & when there was unfit for duty most of the time, he is a very fair officer but his strength was never equal to the business. Ives & Mason both resign therefor their places will be immediately filled so their Co's will not suffer particularly, but Capt. Upham's absence will be a loss to his company & even to the Regt for he is a superior officer. We shall also miss Mr. Woolley for he is a real jolly clever fellow & if he been me as much as I could have wished. We have now two very good clergymen in the Regt so we shall not be without spiritual advice. We are learning new particulars about the battle each day & the wonder is that it was decided in our favor but God willed it, that is all I can think. The enemy outnumbers us & had an exceedingly strong position yet we whipped them completely. I saw at Gen Reno's head quarters last evening the reporter for the Tribune & he showed Col. Harland & myself a diagram of the Battle field which I think is very correct. I hope you will see it. The 8th were under heavy fire from the long straight battery ((we were in the heavy woods opposite) Sun eve & without skirmishers & Capt Upham was wounded after being exposed to this fire a long time we were ordered forward & - - up the - exposed all the time a cross fire from the battery & & the other forts) between the battery & the rifle pits & into the side of the battery. We placed our flags first on the rampart. By order - - a long time before we went - again & this - - - first on us from the rifle pits & the woods. This diagram I have seen said is very good, but I now realize a little can be good as by any diargam of a battle field. This - is all broken & being woody & no one can judge the reality of the - & - how completely they commanded the ground almost where with cross fires except by a personal survey. This reporter does not give Parke's Brigade hardly a fair show for if - correctly he pla ces them only along the railroad while in fact they occupied a large part of the heavy woods directly in front of the long straight battery, the 8th was there quite a while, long enough I know to hear pretty well the whistle of bullets. Our small loss is explained by col. Harl and's choice of ground while we were marching & ordering the men to lie down when we halted. Though exposed to this fire between two & three hours, we fired but one volley, the enemy being so concealed that it was useless to return their fire. The rebels must have fled precipitally & in the greatest confusion, some over the bridge, some by swimming the river where many are said to have been drowned. Some even threw away their clothes & ran the bridge nearly naked fearing they should be captured with rebel clothes on. We found at their barracks fires burning & food cooking, they hardly paused to destroy anything. If the day had not been very foggy our gunboats could have come up the river in time to have destroyed the bridge & cut off the retreat & we could have bagged a large number of prisoners. As it was the rebels burned the railroad bridge to prevent our crossing after them. I have not been over to Newbern my limbs being as yet to lame to make it or to walk far. All say it is a very pretty city fine building fine elms, and roses in full bloom, tho' we certainly need warmer weather than this to produce roses on old Ct. The weather has been lovely for three days. I am writing too long. We expect to leave for Beaufort & Fort Macon tomorrow probably go part way by water and march the remainder but it is not certain as plans change every hour. We expect to take our horses with us. I hope to add a line in the morning. Good night dear mother sister & Brother. George's letters are a feast to me but it distresses me to see them spreading over so much paper. I dont mean that they can be too long but the lines are so far apart. Do all write very often to your aff son & bro Chas - I inclose a secesh stamp. Mar. 18, 1862 we are off for Beaufort. Shall have no fighting. Only 300 of enemy there they must surrender immediately.
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