McClellan visits the Mass 10th

On Aug 20, 1861, Charles Brewster and the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment was still drilling in preparation for being sent off to war, there was still something of a holiday spirit, note that Brewster moves back and forth from goings on in camp to thinking about friends and family in Northampton, that prevailed, as illustrated here in Brewster’s letter to his friend, Tom Boland, who would soon marry Charles’ sister Martha. Camp Brightwood was located in the northeast corner of the District of Columbia (see note #2, p. 352, When This Cruel War Is Over, ed. Blight:

Head Quarters 10th Regt Mass Vol

Camped near Brightwood, Aug 20th 1861

Friend Tom

I have been intending to write you for some time, but what my regular duties and my home correspondence I have not had time. we are now encamped in a much pleasanter place than when you saw us, and I wish you could come and see us now. we are very busy these day’s [sic]. I have just returned from the Battery where I have been in command of a
working party of one Plattoon to day, a Pick and Shovel Party the other Plattoon with Lieut Weatherill commanding started out tonight on Piquet they remain out until 10 oclock tomorrow night. I tried to get out with them but could not arrange it as all the men I could leave my duties with were already out on other duty…. There are all sorts of rumors respecting the enemy, and every day they get up some bug bear story or other about thier [sic] coming nearer, +c +c but “I don’t see it.” Gen McClellan visited us last week and reviewed the Regiment during a drenching rain he is a small, and not uncommon looking man, he looks rather like Tom Hayden I think. I have just had a letter from Jim Ellsworth the first I’ve had since Saturday the whole company had only one letter yesterday. If you see any of my relations down in Pleasant Street (which I don’t suppose you will) just say to them that they must write oftener and that I have not had any papers this week. Three companies are going by with having just returned from the Battery with Picks + Shovels on their shoulders, singing Dixie loud enough to be heard a mile. Charlie Howes has just been in practicing his bugle or Trumpet which we are to drill by when we get anybody who can sound the call. It is a simple horn with one twist and no valves. I think I might learn to sound it myself as I can already sound five notes on it, and it is capable of only seven. The soldiery are fast spoiling the looks of this country as they are cutting down woods and orchards in every direction from the Battery, to give a fair sight of the rebels, and houses that interfere prepared so they can be fired and consumed in double quick time. We are expecting a call from our rebel friends at most any time, and many are getting impatient, that they do not come, but I am content to wait as no doubt it will come soon enough and enough of it , and the longer they delay the better for us and the worse for them but I think that if they should come now they would get most delightfully smashed.

I don’t think of anything else of interest to write so I will close give my respects to all my friends in Haydenville and my enemies too, and believe me

Very truly your friend

CH Brewster.

PS There is a box coming to use from Ansel Wrights store.
will you please telll my folks to send my Spy Glass. Please tell them at the first opportunity you have Yours +c +c

CHB

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About marcferguson

I teach history, including the American Civil War Era, as an Adjunct at American International College in Springfield, Ma. I also teach survey courses in U.S. history, Western Civilization, and World History, and have taught at other area colleges, including the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Holyoke Community College. While my academic background is in European History, my interest in the American Civil War began about a decade ago. Other areas of interest include Modernism, 20th century World Thought and Culture, The Rise of the West after 1400, 19th c. American Society and Culture, Central and Eastern European History and Culture, and Local History. I have in recent years cut back my teaching drastically in order to devote more time raising my kids (15 year old twins now), including working part-time at their elementary/middle school for the past 6 years, they are now launched and off to High School, and I plan to crank up my involvement in teaching history and local history projects, particularly in light of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.
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One Response to McClellan visits the Mass 10th

  1. Chuck Brown says:

    What a wonderful letter. McClellan, and I think I’m paraphrasing Grant, has always been an enigma to me. Reluctant to fight, he nonetheless fought the bloodiest single-day battle of the war. A case could be made for Antietam being the key Union victory of the war. Also, although the Peninsula Campaign was a disaster, the Army of the Potomac won five of the seven battles.

    It’s interesting to see how the the attitudes of the men in the A of P changed toward McClellan as victory in the war became evident. McClellan’s autobiography is an indictment of his view of warfare, although he was oblivious to this.

    By the way, Marc, I taught U. S. History, The Civil War, and World History for nearly 30 years at a high school in Greenville, SC. I have a BA in history and an MA in education. (I really only wanted to Master’s for salary purposes.) Bil Hanchett, emeritus professor at Sand Diego State University and Lincoln, was the major reason for my getting into education. Initially, I hoped to get a PhD. Marriage, a child, laziness and low self-esteem killed that dream. I still regret not pursuing it. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I suppose I didn’t feel capable of completing the process.

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