This next letter of Henry Augustine Trowbridge’s was written on Thursday, November 12, 1863, from Brandy Station, Virginia. This was 15 days before the battles occurred in which the 14th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers, Company C, first participated: 27 November 1863, Locust Grove, VA, and Jacob’s Ford, VA. This letter was written to nephew William Woodruff who would have been 14 at the time. The letter is in bad shape–faded and hard to read, so I am not scanning it for insertion here. His spelling and punctuation are retained. Note: the abbreviation “inst.” is short for instante mense (Latin for “this month”).
I received your letter of the 8th inst. last evening and was very glad to hear from you once more. it found me as well as ever and sitting by my camp fire warming my shins which I hope this may find you. I sat by the fire and read your letter then I wished I had more to read for yours was so short but how some ever. not withstanding never the less I was very glad to get it and hope you will continue in writing often. this is quite a pleasant morning. the sun shines on us once more. we have just eaten our breakfast and am sitting in my tent writing to you. I wish you were here to eat with us. we had fried hard tack, pork, and coffee. and when we get hard of that, we have coffee, pork and hard tack. when I wrote you last we were near Warrenton Junction on the north side of the river we were there one week. and on Saturday last we pulled stakes at day light and at sun rise the Coloms were on the move toward the river which was 12 miles off. our company was deployed as skirmishes on both sides of the advancing lines. we marched untill in the afternoon and till we came near the river. then our bull dogs began to bark. as we advanced they barked louder and faster. there was a small force of rebels entrenched on the north side of the river. but as the 1st Division of our Corps was on the advance they made a charge on the rebels and drove them over the river through the water 3 or 4 feet deep. they were followed up by the 1st Division and with the help of our baterys on the hill drove them back 2 miles. we layed in the reserve and could see them git up and git 3 shells A mimet wherled in amongst them bursting and scattering them in every direction. we had some 32 pounders at worke on them they throwed some shells near 3 miles we could hear them move over our head like steam from a locomotive. then we would stand up and see them strike and burst throwing the dirt in evry direction. when our boys made a charge on them we could hear them give a yell that would scare anyone. you would laugh to have seen the gray backs run with our black 32 pounders a [?] into them. they captured 400 prisoners and these armies. at dark the firing cleared. then they went to worke at the pontoons and soon got them over in 2 places. then the rest of the 3rd corps crossed went a short distance from the river and halted for the night. the rebels was then in front so we could not have any fire to make our coffee so we had to lay down without our hot suppers. we spread our blankets on the cold and lousy ground and layed down to rest our sore and weary bones. but i was so tired that i could not sleep for the wagons were crossing all night. the Army was all night getting over the river on two bridges. and such a noys you never heard on a Sunday morning. when we got up and found that the rebels had all skedaddled and we could make all the fire we wished to. then we went to the fences and such a chopping and such a noys I never heard. we soon made our coffee and got thawed out. Then we had to storm off after them on the double quick. we went 8 miles when there rebel coloms were seen 2 miles distent we formed a line along the soil and rested for an hour while our batterys went on to give them a few more shells. our batery got in position on the hill in front near the railroad while we layed in the valley they soon opened on the rebels and after they fired 18 or 20 shells at them they were out of sight. then we would advance 2 or 3 miles then halt while they gave them some more iron pills, so we advanced and so we spent sunday untill 3 oclock in the afternoon when we got here to Brandy Station where we are yet. we are within 4 miles of Culpeper the railroad that the rebels tore up is nearly rebuilt to the river. they had no time to distroy the track here. when the track is finished to the Rappahannock then I expect we will advance on to Culpeper to the Rapidan and we may get as far as gordonsville. the weather is getting cold. I had the watter in my canteen freeze solid the other night. we expect the paymaster here soon. you must to have had a good time up to the swamp a hunting. I wished I had been with you. You say that if I was [?] at Washington and you a little older you would be with me. well I would like to have you but you may bee glad that you cannot come for I tell you you are better off home. I got a letter from Hatt (I’m not sure but Hatt may be Hattie, Henry’s sister Harriet Trowbridge) before we crossed the river and wrote one to her and sent it off the same day so I will not answer it. I wrote to Emma [William’s sister] yesterday. so I will close for this time. give my kind regards to all the boys. good by all. You must excuse me for sending with no stamp for I cannot help it. I cant get them.