United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Bruen, Luther Barnett--Correspondence


8 pages


Camp near Bealton Sunday Dec. 13 1863 My Dear Wife: I have rec'd nothing from you since Thursday evening when I got two letters, one of the 3rd and the other of the 6th. I am very hungry for another, but as I can not get one before the mail comes in the evening, I think I shall have to try how far writing one myself will go towards satisfying my hunger. Yesterday was rainy and last night it rained very heavily, but this morning we had a very fine rainbow and the day is now warm sunny + spring-like. The ground is very muddy and it is very unpleasant getting about, -- however, it is nothing now to what we expect to have before Spring. Leaves of absence are now granted in the army here and I suppose I can get one any day by applying for it. But they are so short, that it would be very unsatisfactory to have one. They are only granted for fifteen days – six of these would be consumed in going and returning, so that I would have very little time to spend at home. When I do come I want to stay longer and I shall have to make some inquiries before I make an application for myself. Capt. Dallas is now in Washington + is expected here tomorrow. From him I may learn something which will determine my action. If I am really promoted to the 18th, I may possibly be ordered to Columbus. This would en-able us to be together for some month at least, perhaps the better part of a year, without the trouble and inconvenience of a long journey, while you could run over to Dayton to see our friends at any time. I have been hoping, too, that my regiment would be ordered to New York, as in that case, I think I should have little difficulty in getting a leave for thirty days. Unless something occurs which I do not now expect you need not look for me until after the holidays. The newspapers are pitching into Gen. Meade, I see, for *us* crossing the Rapidan without a fight. They would have been just as *ceutonions* if he had fought, while the country would have been saddened by another bloody indecisive battle or the *luster* of Grant's operations would have been *dimmed* by the defeat of the Army of Potomac. Gen. M.'s purpose as I understand it was to fight Lee if he could get a fair open fight out of him, but he was determined to have no more Fredericksburg turned back we did not pass half a dozen clearings, at least in the day time. The Wilderness however does not begin till we get a little distance from the river. Roads too are not numerous, for the country is nearly uninhabited. This makes it very difficult to move troops with the required clarity, while the density of the woods enables the enemy to defend the country with great ease. It must be remembered that we were in a country in a good degree unknown to us, but perfectly familiar to the enemy. They knew the good defensive points but we had to find them as we went along. Thus, Robertson's Tavern was a splendid position; the Rebs. marched their men at the double-quick to get there before us; but we were too smart for them and were the first to occupy it, + drove their pickets back to Mine Run, their justified position. This illustrated very well the disadvantages under which we labored. Suppose they had reached Robertson Tavern first; we might after a bloody battle, have driven them from it. What then? The nature of the country is such that we could not have pursued them, and they would quickly have retired to Mine Run, carrying with them all their wounded and such prisoners as they might have captured. Our loss would probably have been double theirs in killed + wounded. Then, if we had assaulted their still stronger position on Mine Run, *mist* probably suffering still more *severely* than before, we should in all likelihood failed to carry their *works*, but if we had, it would have been only to find that they had fallen back to another position took to march thru' in line of battle. Here the pine trees were so thick that no captain could see the half of his company + when the command 'Turn' was given, it was impossible to tell where anybody was. The line could not be seen for ten feet together anywhere + no effort was able to make a line out of the Brigade. From the Rapidan to Mine Run we were marching *this* such a country as you have little conception of. Nowhere in the West have I seen such a "Wilderness" as the natives most appropri-ately call it. The whole country is cov-ered with a growth of young trees, some places black oak, others pine and cedar, the trees growing so closely together that it is very laborious for a single person to make his way *thro* them. From the river to the place where we *or* Chancellorsville affair. We stood on the brink of one all day on Mine Run and for one I am not sorry we es-caped it. The officer so far as my knowledge *goes* approve of Gen Meade's course. Since I came down here I have learned to appreciate the difficulty which the Army of the Potomac has had to encounter. On this side the Rappahannock there is some open country where troops can be *maneuvered* and battles fought as they have been in Europe, but even here there is so much land covered with a thick growth of pine and cedar that *is* next to impossible to get through, + quite impossible for troops to maneuver *ere*. At the fight at Rappahannock Station we undertook to march in line of battalions in mass thru an oak wood, to support the attacking party, but we soon got into such confusion that it became necessary to march out of the woods by the flank. This forest however was nothing to that on the Orange + Fredericksburg Plank Road which we prefer perhaps of equal strength + requiring another bloody struggle on our part to carry it, but from which the enemy would escape with comparatively slight punishment. It is very easy for the Rebs. to defend their wilder-ness, because a few actions men with *axes,* can soon make a place next to impregnable. The country ought to be better sat-isfied with a movement without results, than an indecisive fight, with thousands of killed, wounded + prisoners, but it seems that our blood-thirsty *editors* who stay at home can not be appeased with-out the smell of blood. Isn't it strange that these fellows who are ^ so often kicked + horse-whipped about the *straits* of New York should be so anxious to have other people shooting one another's heads off. Now, here's a good, long, prosy letter for you, which I hope you will find *edifying*. If you don't write often, I'll send you more of 'em. So be careful. How about *Alderonica's* check; have you got it yet? It was sent from Peola Mills. Love to all the kith + kisses for the fairies, our *informing* of both *to thee.* Thine. LBB #I send the enclosed oak leaf to Mary. I got it in our camp on Mine Run Dec. 1 the day we fell back#



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