Byrns, William – April 19, 1863

Michigan Civil War Collection Letters

Click here for this soldier’s biography:

Regiment: 1st Michigan Infantry

Battles Mentioned: Bull Run, Virginia

Historical Figures: George B. McClellan

Camp near Potomac Creek, Va.
April 19, 1863
My own darling,
Yours from Galva came today. There is little new here. We hear nothing more of the movements which we are certain are taking place. Today has been a brighter one than usual for me. Col. Abbott returned in the P.M. & we are glad to see him again at our head. Soon after I had called on the Col., Lieut. Pickering called me from my tent & asked me to go with him riding. P. is our Quarter Master & as he furnished me with a good horse I could not well refuse & indeed I had no inclination to. We went south from our camp through the camp of the 3rd Corp. to the river bank opposite Fredericksburg. The enemy have thrown up any quantity of works & there use of the spades quite throw McClellan into the shade. Rifle pits extend up & down the river as far as the eye can distinguish them. More large works are built in rear of the town & to take the place by assault would make more bloody work then we had in Dec. last. It will not be attempted. Today one of my boys joined after an absence since the battle of Gaines Mill. The last time I saw him was during the heat of the fight when one of the men told me he was wounded. I went to him & finding him wounded through the thigh directed him to lay quiet until the firing was over as no men could be spared then to take off the wounded. We were forced back & he became a prisoner. This reminds of an oddity I have in my Co. A poorer, dirtier inefficient soldier is not in Co. “B”. Samuel H – by name. He is one of the most wicked profane carcass I ever heard. And what is more strange he carries always always a testament & will read when off duty & frequently when on. Sam was taken prisoner at Gaines Mill. He was taken to Bell Island opposite Richmond – he had saved his testament & read it most of the time he was not deploring his fate & expressing great fears that he would die of starvation. Sam was one day walking near his quarters when he happened to tread on the century’s “beat”, but as he was reading he was not aware that he was overstepping his grounds, but a blow from the butt of the sentinel musket brought him to his senses. Sam was all contrition but as he expressed it “inside I was mad as a devil” – He inquired of the sentinel where his beat was, & if he had no objection to his reading. The sentinel showed him the field and told him he did not care how much he read if he kept off his beat. Sam took a beat parallel with the century and began reading and expounding as he expressed it. “I gave him a six hour sermon during the course of the day & paid him well for giving me a punch in the ribs.” Sam was taken prisoner again at Bull Run but when the prisoner’s names were being taken for the parole he “slided” among the paroled ones & was sent to Washington without taking the oath.
I am glad you are well enough to enjoy life. You cannot tell how anxious I am for your letters & they seem to come so seldom. I am almost sorry that you ready my letter from Baltimore. I was so blue then. You need five yourself no uneasiness on my account – on account of my health. I mean I am improving all the time & greatly fear unless I soon apply. I cannot resign on plea of ill health I cannot think of leaving when we are under orders to be ready to move at any time. If no new orders come, I can tender my resignation in a week or so, but at present it would be unwise to do so. I have had no opportunity to talk with Cap. A. The advice he may give will do much towards hastening or delaying matters with me. Please send the photograph of “type”. I think I am the one to judge if tis “fright” & if my slumbers are disturbed I can so sadly destroy it but, I do want it – or one – I am often weary with the service & long to rest to be with you & tell you how much I love you & how feeble are all other ties than those which bind us. Let us be patient & trust Him who has kept us for each other so long. I will come to you as soon as possible. I have not a line from Melia since I came here. I fear her attention is given to little Nellie who has been sick – Do no fear the small pox. I do not dread it so much as “cold etc.” An adjoining Regt. Has some 60 cases but it excites no alarm. By the by speaking of the health of the army, a corporal in a neighboring Regt. was delivered of a child a few days since – “Mother & child doing well” & the first addition to the army of the Potomac in some months.
You will not compain but that I write often & long enough – & no reason why Julia should not go to Mich. with you provided she will not be to great & care trouble – It’s spring here, trees in blossom & fields – where they can be green.
Remember me to all the friends-
You, Will

You asked how often I think of you, try and remember how often you think of me. This is your answer. Love you, Will

I will send this to Galva though I doubt you are getting it there.