Monday, May 3, 2010

The 'General Call'

Today at Brandy Station: May 3, 1864

The word came down late in the evening to the common soldier, sometime after 10pm. "Strike tents!"

It have finally begun. The Winter Encampment was over and the Army of the Potomac was on the march. The soldiers did not know their destination, but they had no doubt as to whom they would be meeting -- Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

From the diaries and order books:
-141st Pennsylvania Infantry: "Orders for marching. To move at half past 11 o’clock P.M."
-86th New York Infantry: "Got orders to be ready to march at 11 PM. Marched all night."
-4th Michigan Infantry: "Went to bunk at 8 and awakened at 11 by the sound of the "General call" Struck tents and started at 12 M."
-91st Pennsylvania Infantry: "About 11 p.m. left Culpeper for Germanna Ford on the Rapidan."

I once saw a letter that I copied, I don't recall where, I know his name, but it isn't important. He is our everyman, and in this case just a Billy Yank. Portions of his letter are below:

Brandy station Va- May the 3d 1864
My dear Aunt
...I have not time to write you a long letter for we are going to advance on the enemy tomorrow morning so my dear Aunt is altogether likely that I shall be in a tremendous fight before the close of another week and is also likely that you'll not hear from me for a good while, but I request you not to be uneasy about me for I shall write as soon as I can after the approaching contest is over, if I am so fortunate as to escape. I have no fear for my personal safety but still I may fall.... remember dear Aunt that I always remembered and loved you to the last moments of my life. ...hoping that you will not fret yourself about me ...but ever remain your affectionate Nephew

PS. Dear Aunt and Uncle & Cousins I hope to me you once more on these earthly shores but if it is otherwise decreed I hope to meet you in the skies.

The author of the letter was captured during Battle of Wilderness, and dies in Andersonville.

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