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    Archive of thirty-four Letters from Lieut. Dudley C. Mumford of the famous 19th Massachusetts Infantry.
    Lt. Mumford was born in Lowell, Mass. and received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 19th regiment Massachusetts Volunteers at its formation (THIS COMMISSION IS INCLUDED). He was with the regiment continually until being killed in action (shot through the head) in June 1864 (This according to his OBITUARY IN THE BOSTON POST, WHICH IS INCLUDED).

    The 19th Mass. was brigaded with the 20th Mass. throughout the war. These 2 regiments (along with the 54th Mass.) were the most famous Massachusetts regiments. In several of Dudley's letters he mentions his friend Capt. Henry Abbott in the 20th. Abbott would die first in battle and then Dudley. The letters date from September 8th, 1861 to September 19th, 1863. All the letters are in ink with 1 exception. Dudley mostly wrote to his Uncle Tom and his Aunt Sarah and signs his letters "Dud". Here is some of the content:

    Dudley's first letter is headed, "D. C. W. Washington Sept. 8, 1861" (His initials are D. C. W.) At the top is written: "Our Motto - Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, as Hinks goes marching on" (Hinks was their first Colonel)

    "I went over to see the 20th Regiment which is half a mile from us. It arrived there last night. I saw Henry Abbot. He says he is very well but very tired. We have improved in drill faster than any other Regiment around here & military men say faster than they ever saw any Regiment before."

    "Joe (Dudley's servant) was a perfect cheat. He was drunk all the way on and got fighting with 6 or 7 men so that there was nothing but swearing between them when they got to camp & until I discharged him, he got so that if anything did not suit him, he would swear at me when anything went wrong... He said that someone had got to pay his way home. He swore at me about it..."

    The next 4 letters are from "Camp Benton"

    October 2nd, 1861
    "...it was expected that Gen. Johnson would attempt to cross the river at day break this morning..."

    "I had the command of our company"

    "Our guns loaded expecting some sport in the morning..."

    "We could hear them giving orders such as "take arms," etc. but just before the fog cleared away, we started for the camp very much disappointed at not having a brush I can assure you. The men behaved splendidly, not one loud word was spoken all the time we were out. The orders were all given in a low tone, yet you could hear them distinctly the whole length of the line."

    October 31st, 1861

    "Lt. Col. Deveraux is in command as Col. Hinks is Acting Brigr. Gen. & will probably be appointed as Brigadier Gen. of this Brigade as Lander is promoted to Major General."

    "I hope Deveraux will not be our Colonel for if he does, I think that most of the officers will resign. He is domineering & likes to show his power. Only this morning he kept the guard on 24 hours extra duty because 1 man whistled on his post & the Lieut. of the guard refused to be on an extra day, stating that he was not responsible for a man whistling on his post as he could not be at every post at once. D. immediately put him under arrest so there are now two commissioned officers under arrest in this Regt."
    November 17th, 1861

    "I have charge of the company & have a pile to do. I have also to make an oven large enough to cook 30 turkeys for Thanksgiving."

    "All the other officers have given $15.00 & so I gave that amount for the men to have turkeys. We have bought 150 turkeys for the men & we (the officers) are going to have a dinner at Head Quarters. The program is as follows."

    "First, a match game of football between the right & left wings of the Regiment. Second, a dinner at Head Quarters for the officers. Third, a ball in the evening at which some ladies from Baltimore are to come. Also there is to be a concert by the three bands of the Brigade."

    The next 2 letters are on beautiful "Union" with eagle patriotic stationery.

    December 11th, 1861

    "Here I am placed on picket on the Potomac 2 1/2 miles from Great Falls & 16 miles from Washington, D. C."

    "There are a lot of ducks on the river & so your humble nephew lives high on the fat of the land."

    "I think that even if I am not promoted on this hitch, that before long I shall have the great American eagle on my shoulder straps, all owing to the depravity of human nature."
    December 14th , 1861

    "The Rebels are just opposite where my post is with a force of 9 or 10,000 men. The other night we had a candle in the picket & the end towards the river being open the Rebels saw us & fired six shots at us, but neither of them hit us, owing to the river being too wide to have them old muskets reach us, but some of the boys threw the ashes up from the fire just as if the ball had struck the fire."

    "I have searched two or three houses around here for whiskey & the other day Capt. searched a man's house marked Higgins & found six gallons which he, the Captain, took & then took the man up to camp & the Colonel told him he would let him go this time, but if he caught him selling whiskey to soldiers again, he would burn his house over him and hang him up as high as the heavens."

    On Picket Jan. 8th 1862

    "If Col. Hinks should be promoted, I should resign for on no condition would I be under him as Colonel & so would 1/2 of the officers in the Regiment. Our Regiment is a hard one to manage & no one except Col. Hinks can do it. The men all hate Deveraux & I mean if they go into an engagement, he shall never come out of it alive & I believe it to be so."

    Bivouac 5 miles from Yorktown Va. Friday April 11th, 1862

    "...our Regt. and the 20th were ordered to make a reconnaissance of their batteries 4 miles from camp. We got within 1/2 mile from them or rather the largest when we were ordered to lie down on the side of the road and make no noise. Two men from each company were ordered on 30 paces & the other 60 paces in front of each company. The order was not understood so the other all got together and under some of the woods got within 100 yards of the fort which mounted ten or twelve guns. They began to fire on a company of Rebels who were drilling as skirmishers on the rampart. The Rebels yelled like mad men and fired volley after volley, but no one was wounded or killed. About an hour all of our men came back with wonderful stories about their shots, etc."

    "When our men had all got in, we marched along the road, formed a line of battle and advanced as everyone supposed on the fort. We kept on through the woods till the shots were striking in our direction around us. Two of the Tiger Fire Zouaves were wounded and taken to the rear. On this move to the left where there was a one gun fort which Lt. Comstock (was one of Gen. McClellan's aides), was trying to persuade Genl. Dana, our Brig. Genl., to let us take."

    "We laid at the edge of the woods in a little hollow 10 feet deep and about 20 broad. This battery was only 40 rods off, and the Rebels were as yet unconscious of our presence. After a while Lt. C. came back with the Sharpshooters who posted themselves at the fence on the edge of the woods. Thus for the first time since we entered the woods, we saw the 20th, who laid in a road 1/4 of a mile from us. The sharpshooters now opened on their fort, and they in turn jumped to their guns and fired at us, yelling like mad men and the next minute a shell burst over our heads. Then there was canisters and two or three shells next over us, as fast as they could load and fire. One man was struck with a piece of shell in the shoulder. He died 15 minutes after we reached camp. We laid there firing and taking fire for an hour."

    Camp Near Yorktown Va. April 20th

    "It is uncertain when we should attack Yorktown, but I suppose arrangements are being made so when we do attack it, the feathers will fly pretty thick. It will be an Artillery fight altogether, so the Infantry will see all the fun and have none of the danger."

    "The Rebels at the line in front of us rallied out to build a bridge across the creek between us & them. We let them come up & pick up some logs to throw across when 2 Regts. of Californians & New Yorkers, whose right was to guard our batteries which we have erected, gave them such a volley that they run into the battery without ever firing again."

    Camp Winfield Scott Near Yorktown, Va. May 2nd

    "Situated as we are now, I have about as much as I can do such as building corduroy roads, which by the way I may as well speak of the manner of constructing them. In the first place, we have to cut through woods which are swampy & low, making it bad for teams if not paved, so we trim the limbs off the trees we fell & lay the largest limbs & trunks of the trees close together across the road. Then we put about a foot of dirt on top of that & by that means we manage to make quite a decent road. In some places, the logs have to be placed so as to make the road 8 & 10 feet above the level of the ground & in such places the amount of work is tremendous."

    "In speaking about roads reminds me of something which I have not written home about before. A battery of R. I.'s had got lost in the woods about 1/4 mile from our Regiment which was there placed as a support to our guns which were shelling the Rebels, and Col. Hinks was ordered to have a road cut through from the road where we were situated to them so they could retreat in case the Rebels advanced on them, for they had taken a position at the edge of the roads & were shelling the Rebels as if nothing had happened. Lieut. Palmer & myself were detailed with 25 men to cut a road through in the quickest time possible. We set to work cutting down trees & as there was no bridges & it was not a corduroy road, we built it in three hours. The woods were so thick with underbrush, etc. etc., we could not see more than 10 yards in advance of us. The Colonel was astonished to find how quick we had done it..."

    Camp 8 miles from Richmond, Va. May 24th, 1862

    "This is the nastiest country I ever saw! We are camped as we have been all along in a swamp & it is raining hard now as it is nearly all the time & for the last two months, I have felt that this damp country & the way we have to sleep on the wet ground & wake up in a morning finding myself in the middle of a puddle of water has affected my lungs which ache all the time now & I am afraid if I don't have a chance to sleep off the ground, I shall have my lungs in a bad state before long."

    Fair Oaks June 14th, 1862

    "My lungs are better but I was no sooner well than my foot was cut with an axe. Now I have sprained my ankle by turning the foot when I was limping along through the woods."

    "When we get in Richmond there will be a great change in the Regiment. Col. Devereaux will resign as will two or three Captains."

    "...it will make me 1st Lieut. & a Salem Zouave."

    The next 8 letters are from Harrison's Point, Virginia with dates from July 12th to August 7th, 1862.

    "I am anxiously awaiting an answer to that letter I wrote to Uncle Ben to get me a Capt.'s Commission. I am heartily sick of this Regiment & the way things are managed here. Salem Zouaves is all the go. No one who is not one is nowhere now."

    "Col. H. is away & there is no prospect of his coming back a Col. again, Genl. Sedgwick having nominated him Brigadier (for gallant conduct, etc.) & in all probability he will get it, I am sure. I hope he will for I like him."

    "It seems to be the general opinion that we are in a trap and the Rebels are only waiting their convenience to cut off our supplies which they can very easily, for they have possession of the land for 50 miles down the river & have over two batteries. They fire occasionally at the transports, but I rather think that in the cause of two weeks our supplies will be cut off & this grand Army of the Potomac will have to capitulate in this account. The Rebels have 75,000 on the other side of the river and about 80 on this. The rest are taking care of Pope. We do not number 50,000 effective men, although report says 75,000."

    "If we cross we have got to march 90 miles down the river with a larger force following us than we can scare up and we can carry but three days provision, so you see it can't be did that way if we get on transports. By the time the last "Corp deArms" has to embark, it will be discovered by Johnny Reb & then they will come. It may be before the transports can get back and those who are left will be cut up. If they return to the river under cover of gunboats, they will be so close together that Mr. Reb can make every shot tell. I think we are in a fix..."

    "...there is no denying the fact that the grand Army of the Potomac is at last in a trap. For 50 miles down the enemy have possession of the land and can easily erect batteries behind the woods and stop our supplies which no doubt will be done when they want to bag us."

    "We cannot cross the river and we can't go down by this side and carry provisions for 90 miles. We should have to destroy all our trains and be cut to pieces in addition, for we have only 50,000 men while at half a day's notice the Rebels can bring 150,000 men to attack us and with their gunboats they can make us smart pretty badly. As long as they do not cut off our supplies, we are all right for we can resist all numbers and force with our earth works & entrenchments."

    "We started from here Monday night, marched 15 miles that night and got in the rear of the Rebels at Malvern Hill at three o'clock. We expected to find some 8,000 of them there but found but two companies & one battery of 4 guns. We surprised them & got all the guns & some of the Rebels. We stayed at the hill three days & found night that the Rebels were advancing by three different columns with a force of 25,000. We had but 20,000 at the hill, so we commenced to skedaddle at 12 o'clock."

    The next 9 letters are from Falmouth, Virginia dating from January 3rd, 1863 to June 12th, 1863.

    "It is as you say a great honor to be a member of the "Gallant Nineteenth" or "Forlorn Hope" but I must say I think we have got too good a name for our own safety. If there is any dangerous movement to be executed in our Division, the Genls. call on the 19th & 1st Minnesota & 7 Michigan. Our Regiment has lost more in battles than any other Regiment in the service. So official accounts prove we have lost 26 officers alone."

    "Then again look at our Brigade numbering 5 Regiments, and in the whole Brigade there are only 650 men for duty. Our Regiment only numbers present & absent 250 men & here are some 50,000 new troops around Washington doing nothing while we who have already been all over Virginia must not go into winter quarters."

    "The paymaster will not pay us off till the middle of next month and although at that time, U. S. will owe us for nearly 8 months but will not pay us for more than 4 months. There ought to be something done.."

    "My men have received letters from home telling them that their wives & children near obliged to go to the poor house. I am sure the men will desert at the first opportunity & shall not blame them. It is a shame for the men who have been through so much and then after that let their wives & children starve."

    "We have just returned to camp after 24 hours of as hard picket duty. It has been raining for three days and Burnside has begun another movement which cannot be carried through on account of the mud. Hooker's & Franklin's Grand Divisions are concentrated on our right and the 9th Army Corps, one of the Corps in our Grand Division, has gone down 6 miles on our left to make a feint and draw the Johnnies down there, but the roads are so muddy that the pontoons cannot get down to the river. So Burnside's strategy is All up."

    "There has already been three cases of Regiments throwing down their arms on some General trying to consolidate them. If this thing is tried on the 19th, I shall tender my resignation for after serving 17 months drilling and fighting for the purpose of gaining a reputation and after that being put into another Regiment, I don't see it. It is not just. The other night a Capt. in the 15th Mass. tendered his resignation. He received a dishonorable dismissal for resigning in the face of the enemy. His company turned out, gave their three cheers and nearly all the rest of the Regiment gave three cheers for Jeff Davis which was taken up and it ran all throughout our division. The men reviewed by Burnside about 4 days ago and after the review was over, Genl. Howard called out "three cheers for Genl. Burnside" but the boys did not see it, and many cheers was heard from our Brigade, but the men laughed out loud at the idea."

    "Burnside may be a good man, but he is not fit for his place. The men have no confidence in him."

    "I was officer of the day down in Falmouth the other day and attended a wedding. It was carried on in as silly a manner as I have ever seen. There were somewhere about 40 persons there & a large proportion of them were ladies. There were some of them silly kissing plays and some singing and such singing. It was more like a squeak than singing. There were two or three of us there & we struck in and it was such a contrast that they stopped singing and wanted us to sing for them."

    "We had a fire down town the other day or night and we had a great time. It commenced at 10 o'clock p.m. and was out at 2 o'clock a.m. I was up all night "bossing the job," putting water on the adjoining houses to keep them from catching."

    "We are to have a match game of ball between the 7th Michigan and our Regiment, or rather between 11 of our men & 11 of the 7th. The prize is $110, quite a little pile. Men on the committee for our Regiment having been placed on it by Col. Devereaux. The game will come off one week after pay day. The boys are drilling and preparing for it, and we feel confident we shall succeed in whipping the opposite side, but they have some good players."

    "I have not seen the press that has come out in the papers relating to our drilling before Lieut. Genl. Grant and all the Major Generals in the Army. It was quite a compliment to the two Regiments (19th & 20th) to be taken out of 27,000 troops to drill etc. etc. Genl. Gibbon said that Genl. Grant said he had never witnessed anything of the kind before."

    Falmouth May 6, 1863 - Dudley had written to his friend Goddard and asked him to send his May 6th letter to Sarah. Goddard copied Dudley's letter and mailed it on May 11th. It deals with fighting at Marye's Heights on May 3rd

    "Since I wrote last, I have seen another fight and have come out "right side up with care," although I came very near being made a cold corpus by some of those careless Johnnies. We left camp last Saturday at midnight and went to the Lacy House. We laid there till about 6 a.m. Sunday when we laid the bridge across the river to Fredericksburg without opposition. We then marched to the right of the town and my company was deployed as skirmishers together with companies K & D. We had moved about half way across the open field when a battery directly in front opened on us."

    "We received the order to lie down and while in that position, the shells burst in all directions about us, a piece of shell as large as my hand came skipping along directly for my head, and I caught sight of it and involuntarily put my head to the right and the piece went humming by me."

    "We laid down in the field till about 10 a.m. when the troops on the left made a charge on the Rebels who were behind rifle pits and in redoubts. We were driven away at the point nearest us, but on the extreme left the "Rebs" began to run away and then you ought to have heard the cheering. The men all rose to their feet and howled. We captured in that charge four pieces of the Reb's artillery. This is the only case of a place like that having been taken by storm in this war. After this was all over we moved on the heights where the fortifications were and remained there till nearly night when we moved back to the town and our Brigade was appointed Provost Guard."

    "I ordered the men to lie down and keep as well covered as they could and sent the Sergeant back to report. As I sat there a Rebel stepped out about twenty yards from me and fired at me. His ball went just past my hand and then I laid down with the men."

    "The sharpshooters were at work all day, and we had to lie low but about four p.m. we could see the enemy moving out of the rifle pits. We commenced firing at them and soon heard firing in the rear of them and they ran back to their rifle pits. We found after awhile that the Rebs were too much for the force in their rear and drove them up the river, and at seven p.m. all was quiet, except cannonading in the direction of Hooker..."

    May 11th, 1863 - "While the Rebs fish and lounge about on the other side of the river as usual, they want to know if we have any other Brig. in the Army who will attempt to cross that river and we tell them that if we set about it, we will go and they believe it for they have seemed to be more afraid of this Brigade than of any division we have."

    "Just imagine your affectionate nephew there on one of the highest hills on this side of the river where he can see the battle field & see numbers of Johnnies on the other side with dirty Falmouth at his feet, and a Secesh girl singing the "Bonnie Blue Flag" and sitting by a window within twenty feet of me, and she is merely saying it to distract my attention from this letter so I will get up & talk "Union" to her so she can show her disgust etc. Her name is O'Banner. She is accomplished & worth at least $5,000 but has as most Southern ladies have, strong sympathies for the South."

    Raccoon Ford Rapidan River September 19th, 1863 - "I have changed my base of operations since I last wrote. There we had all the conveniences of camp life but now we have had to come down to our hard tack and salt pork which is not quite as good as roast beef, etc. etc. Then we were not annoyed by hearing the booming of cannon and with the expectation of having to fall every minute to exchange the compliments of the season with the Rebs, but now we are constantly sitting on brain to use a figurative expression..."

    "There is a good chance of getting fleshers while on picket for the pickets are continually firing across the river. One of the 7th Michigan officers just came in from there in an ambulance with a pretty one through the leg. He was happy as a clam at nigh tide. I wish I was in his shoes for then you could see the writer instead of the letter."

    Somerville Ford Rapidan River Sept. 25th 1863 - "We keep eight days rations and 60 rounds of ammunition on hand and expect before long to try our hand once more with the Rebs. This writing on one's knee is not very comfortable, especially when you have to sit on the ground and I am obliged to do that if I wish to write for I have nothing but a shelter but here, the teams being three or four miles off and packed up ready for a move."

    "If we had not been so equally matched we should have finished up this affair long ago, but as it is we seem to be very little nearer its end than we were two years ago. To be sure we have gained a little ground but the they are in as good spirits as before. Still I feel assured that we shall eventually conquer it. Maybe years before we do, but still we must do it. How it would look to have them acknowledged as a separate government when we have such an advantage over them as regards more money, etc. etc. They have now nine-tenths of all their able bodied men in the Army now while at the North, so few have gone into the Army that they are hardly missed."

    It is quite rare to have an archive of good letters from one of the most famous Union regiment, and each letter is in fine condition. From The Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.


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