Coit, Charles M. (1838-1878) to his family
High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.
Criticizes McClellan and gives his opinion on the Union military strategy employed in the war. Writes of having a new horse which came to him with musket ball wounds. Mentions that it is his birthday and he had not realized it until dating the letter. Written from "Carolina City," most likely in North Carolina.
Carolina City Mar. 29 Two precious letters just rec'd from home with dates to the 1st inst. also one from Calvin which was most welcome - do thank him. one thing I must say right here. Cal. writes that Judge Dutton is ready to "bet that he (Fremont) "will be first at the Gulf." I dont know or care very much who is first there, but that man will not, certainly, be the "strategic" McClellan. I am pretty mad at him for I cannot but think he has lost the opportunity of making a short war by meeting the enemy at Manassas early in the winter then pressing "forward to Richmond" Burnside's fashion rather than delaying & delaying until too late. I believe Manassas was the place for the decisive fight and I also believe that for every life lost there a dozen would have been saved elsewhere. Think of his trained host & of our comparitively raw troops. Think if the vast numbers of his army & then know that our force was so small at the battle of Newbern that (I do not doubt) the correspondents of the press dare to state it correctly. I doubt if we had over 7000 men all told, no one here estimates it over 8000. Every Regt was actually engaged. It is true the rebel force was much larger than ours & they behind breastworks, forts, redans, & rifle pits of great strength & exceedingly well planned. The result is truly wonderful & I believe God's hand is in it all. only He could bring it about. I believe that McClellan "General commanding" is our great humbug and while I write this I remember that months ago I thought him a second Napolean. But enough of this, please not repeat what I have written above, it would make a very grave charge for a court martial to determine against me. when I finished reading your letters I sat me down at this box in this dirty old freight depot. this same depot being the Head Qtrs of both Regts - I thought I would ease your minds concerning my state of health but you see I have taken another task & not only written upon a subject entirely beyond my comprehension but laid myself open to Court Martial charges. Now for my health. "I reckon" as everybody says here, that I am the enjoyment of a "right smart" degree of health should all continue "quiet along the line of the Potomac" I shall be out on Guard mounting tomorrow morning bright as a biscuit, while you are sitting at breakfast or perhaps I should state the time more exactly if I wrote "about an hour & a half by sun". I am really as well strong as I ever remember to have been & have passed this long week as pleasantly as can be expected when one has nothing to do a whole week to do it in. The last four or five days I have passed from two to four hours of each in the saddle & very happy hours they have been. My secesh horse proves a very valuable animal, worth all the "Governors" one could shake a stick at unless there has been a marked improvement in the physique of the aforesaid gent. I wrote from Newbern respecting this horse & if I remember did not praise him very highly. I accepted him there only because we were expecting soon to march & I preferred save myself great fatigue & some exposure even if it should be at his expense. He had at that time a sore on his one fore leg & a swelling with two constantly discharging holes in his breast. I thought him inwardly diseased but several days after Drs Lathrop Storrs examined them & pronounced them gun wounds, so you see he is truly an old veteran. I am happy to say he is almost well again The wound in shoulder is entirely healed & the swelling of the other has disappeared & the wounds are fast healing. In this wound the ball passed entirely thro' probably just under the skin. He has never apparantly sufferd from either. of good size and appearance a fine trotter & good runner, tan color with black trimmings & tough as blazes. I consider him the best horse here in the Regt & hope to realize at least $150. for him if I can once exhibit him to a Norwich audience. My great fear is lest some pocky secessionist shall see him & if such an one should take the oath of allegience Genl Parke would immediately order his surrender as he has in two cases. In one case a horse appropriated by major Appelman, the other Dr. Storrs. For the past week I have been chief commissary (self constituted) for my mess & scour the country round within a radius of five miles in search of eggs & potatoes. eggs 15 & 20 cts per doz and sweet potatoes 50 cts a bushel. I enjoy it much. whenever we call we are invited in & are expected to sit at least fifteen minutes if we wish to call again soon its a very simple matter to borrow a bag or basket to carry our produce in which must of course be returned shortly. Then some of the roads thro' the woods are delightful & with wading the brooks & dodging the branches (most of the roads are only cart paths) first one side then the other & next flat on the saddle to avoid that low branch, these rides are quite exciting and are the grand feature of the day. For the last three days at about 5 PM the R I band have beguiled us for a half hour with their sweet music. They play very well tho' by no means like the original American Band. I hope this will be continued, it is a short half hour to me as you will readily imagine. I always wish you could all enjoy it with me. I always think so much of Ellen & Geo when they play the old tunes. they always wind up with America. I did not know that this was the 29th - my birthday - until I commenced this letter. I had been looking forward to this day & intended to celebrate it by writing a real long letter home, but I must close now as almost all hands are rolled up in their blankets & snoring soundly. Good night March 31, P.M. Am very well. R. I. chaplain conducted services yesterday & band was pleasant. Mail is just going.
The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.