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Tillotson, George W. (fl. 1830-1918) To his wife

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04558.060 Author/Creator: Tillotson, George W. (fl. 1830-1918) Place Written: Camp opposite Fredericksburg, [Virginia] Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1 January 1863 Pagination: 4 p. ; 20 x 12.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Continued January 3 ["Dec."]. Written in pencil. Increasing strictness of the colonel for infractions, mentions that soldier mutilating himself (cutting off thumb) was court-martialed and sentenced to hard labor and half-pay for rest of service, marching orders given then countermanded. Regarding the war and Fredericksburg: "No; as I said before I dont believe this war will ever end by fighting. It is not the rebels at the North that troubles us but the rebels here, as the irishman says 'right finenst [sic] us.' You need not blame Burnside for not succeeding for he did as well probably as McClelan [sic] or anybody else would, and his troops all fought well but the Rebels fought well too besides haveing impregnable fortifications to shield them. You at the North, read our northern papers, and believe them probably, when they say the rebel army is nothing but a mob, without discipline, patriotism, or hope of sucess, but we here know that they lie, and we have good reason for believeing that the rebels are as patriotic and con[s]cientious in the justness of their cause and as determined to defend it as the patriots of the Revolution were theirs. But then you see the papers are not allowed to tell the truth in such matters nor the telegraphs to transmit any news unless they make it all favorable to our side. I tel[l] you that the rebels will fight to the last and that they have got the advantage of position, and that they know how to keep it, and that if they are ever forced to submit, what blood has been shead is only 'a drop in the bucket' to what will have to be shead. I know it is not a promising picture to contemplate[,] still it may as well be looked at in the true light. You cant tell much about the true sentiments of our soldiers by the army newspapers corrispondents [sic] but then they have to misrepresent us in order to have their corrispondence published[.] If the folks at the north find out what we soldiers think and talk among ourselves we shall have to write it ourselves."

Background Information: Tillotson was thirty-one years old when he enlisted as a corporal on November 5, 1861. He mustered in H company of the NY 89th infantry or Dickinson Guards and later promoted to ...Sergeant. He was discharged on December 18, 1864.See More

Full Transcript: Opposite Fredericksburg Jan 1st 1863
My Dear Wife
Yours of Christmas I received yesterday and was glad to hear that you were all well and also that the money had arived ...all safe. Yesterday we were inspected and mustered again for pay, so we are sure that we have two months more [inserted: pay] earned. After inspection the old Colonel issued orders for every man not on duty to wash his overcoat yesterday afternoon so as I could'nt get a tub to wash mine I gave another fellow fiftey cents to wash mine The Colonel is geting to be pretty importent if a fellow dont toe up to suit him he takes the law into his own hands and fines him to be taken out of his pay without judge or jury [2] You wanted to know if that fellow that cut his thumb off had been discharged. He has not but he has been Courtmartialed, found guilty, and sentenced to the Rif Rafs for the remainder of his term of service, to hard labor, and forfeit half his pay. So much for makeing a bungling job of it, and then owning up. Yes I guess you have made a pretty good trade on old Jack. I know that Father can make a good trade if any body could.
I dont know as we shall stay here a great while. Nearly a week ago, one evening we had marching orders and to march the next morning at Reville, with three days cooked rations in our haversacks. We had just drawn five days rations and the meat had been dealt to us raw so we all went to cooking [3] but by the time our pork got half boiled the Sergent Major came round and notified us that the order was countermanded. Dont know where we were going but the officers said to Alexandria Dec. 3d. You see it takes some time to finish a letter, Yesterday I went out a couple of miles and helped cut a couple of loads of wood for the Co and that with other things hindred me from writing and today I am on guard but I am bound to finish this No; as I said before I dont believe this war will ever end by fighting It is not the rebels at the North that troubles us but the rebels here, as the irishman says "right [firenst] us". You need not blame Burnside for not succeeding for he did as well probably as McClelan or any body else would, and his troops all fought well but the [inserted: Rebels] fought well too besides haveing impregnable fortifications to shield them [4]You at the North, read our northen papers, and believe them. probably when they say the rebel army is nothing but a mob, without discipline, patriotism or hope of success, but we here know that they lie, and [inserted: we have] good reason for believeing that the rebels are as patriotic and concientious in [inserted: the] justness of their cause and as determined to defend it as the patriots of the Revolution were. theirs. But then you see the papers, are not allowed to tell the truth in such matters nor the telegraphs to transmit any news unless they make it all favora[strikeout]ble to our side. I tel you that the rebels will fight to the last and that they have got the advantage of position, and that they know how to keep it, and that if they are ever forced to submit, what blood has been shead, is only "a drop in the bucket" to what will have to be shead. I know it is not a very promising picture to contemplate still it may as well be looked at in the true light. You cant tell much about the true sentiments of our soldiers by the army newspaper corrispondents but then they have to missrepresent us in order to have their corrispondence published If the folks at the north find out what we soldiers think and talk among ourselves we shall have to write it ourselves.
It is bedtime and I have to get up at Midnight and stay up til 6 oclock in the morning, and besides our regt goes on picket again at 8 oclock in the morning so you can see that my chance for sleep is rather slim for some time to come, so good night. From your ever true and loveing Husband
Geo W Tillotson
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People: Tillotson, George W., 1830-1918

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: African American HistoryCivil WarMilitary HistoryUnion ForcesUnion Soldier's LetterSoldier's LetterPropagandaTelegraphMilitary CampInjury or WoundMilitary LawSoldier's PayPrisonerBattleBattle of FredericksburgImmigration and MigrationConfederate States of AmericaFortificationUnion GeneralJournalismPatriotismRevolutionary War

Sub Era: The American Civil War

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