Northrup, David W. – June 7, 1863

Michigan Civil War Collection Letters

Click here for this soldier’s biography:

Regiment: 3rd Michigan Infantry

Battles Mentioned: Chancellorsville, Virginia

Historical Figures: Joseph Hooker

Camp near Belle Plain Va

June 7th 1863

My Dear Fred,

Yours of the first has been received. According to request I procede to
answer by return mail. By the by, to answer your inquiries I shall necessarily
have to be brief in some parts. I will give each days experience in our last
letter sepperately. You speak of our condition upon that day one year ao.
(31st) Yes, many such days have we seen since but hope to witness not
many more. The Sabbath. Yes, the quiet Sabbath of the North as you well
know, unknown here. I long for the return of those quiet days of rest. Rest
to both body and soul. But we have a part to perform in the great Drama of
life. Let us act this part like men. Do our duty to our God, our Country, and
our selves. leaving the results with Him who controls all things. Strange and
inexplicable many times are His ways, but righteous are His judgements
always. Misfortunes and disappointments cluster around our path, but they
only are intended for our improvement if we rightly interpret their design.
But to my Story. We were started about noon one rainy day by the head
quarter bugle sounding the Pack up Call.
One hour from this, on the 28th day of April, saw us well upon our
march. We took the direction we travelled before down the river. Spent that
night nearby upon the bank of the Rappanhanneck. The next day continued
our march and halted upon banks of the river out of sight in the woods. Laid
there the 29th and part of the thirtieth. About noon we started that is all of

army (or any) upon the left for the extreme right about twenty miles up the
river. As I said we started about noon and marched near 20 miles before we
camped. April 30th We crossed the river in the morning in front of their
redoubts, now vacated and marched about five miles back and camped in the
woods near the front. Could hear the fireing distinctly not more that half a
mile ahead. Staid there till near night when we were marched to the front
and placed on picket, strung along the line of the Fredericksburg turnpike
(plank road) in one continuous line of regiments. We laid there the night of
the 30th and till noon the first day of May. At which time we received
orders to reconnoiter in our front. We (that is our brigade) skirmished up
through the wood for two miles and came out upon the enemy in an open
field in front of their batteries where we laid supporting our batteries under a
smart fire for some two hours. It was here that many of our regiment were
wounded. The fire sharp on both sides. Quite a number of prisioners came
in to us at this time. Is getting late, we started back and getting about
halfway found that our old position that we left in the morning was occupied
by the Rebs. What was to be done? A council of war was held at Sickels
Quarters to decide upon what it was best to do. We supposing that we were
nearly or quite surrounded. It was determined to try to break through their
lines. The famous Midnight Charge by Moonlight was planned and carried
into affect as we shall see. This was the first day of May. A day long to be
remembered by me it being my birthday. Commencing my 39th year. It
occured to me several times during the day that I had spent my birthday more

I had forgot to mention that we drove the Rebs from their position in the
afternoon of this day, and received great credit for the service. As I was
saying the charge upon their line was determined upon in order to regain the
Plank Road our old or first position. The order of the program was that one
regiment should march in front in line of battle with loaded guns. They
should march right up to the enemys line and fire. The second line to march
with fixed bayonets (our line) about twenty rods in the rear of the first. This
line to rush to the Charge upon the fireing of the first. But it being dark we
became mixed up with each other so as not to distinguish one from the other.
The enemy were prepared to receive us. The way the grape and minies flew
around us was a caution to recount. The result of the performance you have
already learned by the papers. I will not go into detail in this, Suffice it, we
lost some in wounded and prisioners. We laid in the woods close to the rebs
pickets all night. Soon as it become light we had to Skedadle out in double
quick the ball flying after us rather faster than I desired. It seemed all of us
must get hit. The rebs followed us close, out to the open field and quickly
brought their batteries to bear upon us. Our batteries were not long in getting
position. We had then retreated half a mile or more. Then Commenced the
most furious Cannonade I ever witnessed. Our regiment was supporting a
battery. This was on Sunday morning. It was here while supporting this
battery Capt. Mason was Killed. The rebs came upon us and we had to back
up. So sudden that they had no time to take his badge from him. We then
retreated about two miles and made a stand which we held till we finally fell
back over the river.

After crossing the river each regiment returned to its old quarters the shortest
rout, and the best way it could. This concludes the great victory of Hooker.
It did not seem to me to be a very great victory, but perhaps I failed to see the
point. I have thus been very brief as I am making too long a letter. Besides I
wish to speak of another subject and my space is some what limited. There
are many little incidents I could relate if I were with you but cannot at
present. There were none killed in our Co Some wounded slightly. James
Scribner was wounded the worst.
You mention the report of the arrest of James and Almond Borden. It
is too true. Their sentence is as you hear. Capt. Borden dismissed with pay.
James cashiered, dismissed without pay. It is the opinion of all that it is
unjustly hard on James. It ought to be reversed the two. Borden ought to go
without the pay. The charge against James was deserting his Company
before the enemy. He went in with us the night of the charge and was not
seen till Monday morning. We all supposed him killed or taken prisioner.
But Monday morning he made his appearance. He is with Al. in Washington
at present. I do not know what they intend to do. Now do not tell any one
that I have written any thing about it. It must be a severe blow to his father.
I presume he will take it hard. James has been anxious, very, to get out of the
service but I think at too great a sacrifice. I am very sorry and do not know
hardly how to express my thoughts. I should rather have sacrificed my life
than to have such a thing to think of. I would not let this be public even to
his friends. If they do not know it. You will see it in the Herald of June;
second or third. I do not remember which. I have not got through but must
close for the want of more room. I remain Yours D.W. ———-