Item Description: Letter of 27 March 1862, from R.T. Hubard to his Uncle E.W. Hubard . A darkly good humored letter concerning the election of company officers and the politics of advancement. This discussion is interrupted by the arrival of federal troops, and the letter discusses troop movements and light engagements with federal troops near Young’s Mill.
[Transcription available below images.]
March 27th ‘62
My Dear Uncle:
I received your very interesting letter of the 20 Just a few days since. You throw yourself upon my charity, but I hardly know how to excuse “so old an offender”. Yet as you were pleased to bestow upon me many gracious compliments I suppose I shall have to forgive and forget your slow correspondence in the past. Would that I could accomplish something which should merit compliments and gratify the highest expectations of my friends. But at the present I see no path to distinction open to me. I thought at one time that in reorganizing the company in the Spring the men finding that they would be deprived of the right to elect officers would select them with a view to secure the best men. Having discharged my duties in the company with fidelity I then thought I might be promoted. But now I see there is no possibility of such a result. The whole thing is already arranged. The lowest trickery and wise working is resort to Such as an honorable man contemplates; — extending even to the great man who seeks the 4th corporalcy [sic]. I might have been one of this noble party. The suggestion was made to a friend of mine; who promptly rejected it. Matthews has been elected 1st Lieut. by dint of incessant electioneering & entering this combination. The rest of the ticket will go through like a flash when the time comes. No man out of Cumberland county can get an office, and none in it but those who will enter into this infamous collusion. I desire to get out of the company and if re-enlisted men are allowed the privilege I will leave it at the end of the present term.
In regard to your old college mate Maj. Genl. Magruder [(we are ordered to saddle up Yankees advancing) Young’s mill Sat. 12 pm March 29th 62: On Thursday four federal regiments of infantry appeared in front of Lee’s store, 7 miles below, and still others seemed coming. They fired on the picket which gradually fell back before them till 3 miles below. Then (at 3 P.M. our picket was drawn back to this place which was abandoned by the forces here – 3rd Va Cavalry & 10th Ga infantry Meanwhile the enemy also advanced along the two roads leading to Bethel from Old P--- & Newport News. Reaching Bethel they pushed on till they came to our works at Howard’s Mill 8 miles below Yorktown Col Coinston determined to give them fight; having ordered his two regiments and battalion into the rifle pits & his gunners to the guns, he made his band strike up a defiant air. We fell back to Lee’s mill__8 miles. Magruder’s effective force on the Peninsula was six thousand that of the enemy variously stated from 60,000 to 100,000. Winston fell back to W---‘s mill that night; and the 14 Ala. regt. arrived from Richmond. Magruders position is given in the accompanying diagram. We all expected a fight by Friday-morning. That very morning (yesterday) our regiment 3rd Va was ordered back to Young’s mill. When we got here with only about 200 men 8 miles from any support there were 4000 federals four miles below on this road supported by how many I ---n’t tell. Our company was sent down in a mile of them & Sent forward and advance which the Yankees endeavered [sic] to catch but failed. The Capt. told a citizen he with that Genl. Magruder had sent a strong force down who would soon arrive (alluding to our regiment. which he preceded). This had the desired effect; the Yankees fell back in haste this morning leaving eatables—spurs—boots —e behind. Our picket is now at their old stand (Lee’s – 7 miles below here) Genl Heintzelman is said to have commanded the foe. Whether it was a reconnoisance [sic] prior to a an attack or a feint to draw troops from Norfolk is not et certain. Our little army were resolute and would have fought well.]
To resume now where I left off Genl Magruder doesen’t [sic] know me and I have never had an opportunity to make his acquaintance. Besides he is surrounded by hungry men who promptly snatch up every thing. My only chance is through the Sec. of War Genl. Randolph, Dr. R. his brother, Mr. Holcombe & others might induce him to give me some agreeable appointment. But I would desire none—save on the staff of some general officer, or one in some regiment where I could be in active service. You must excuse this miserably dirty sheet you know where I am & the circumstances. My valise being on my saddle I can get no better now. We may have to leave here at any moment night or day. All depends on the movements of the Yankees.
This was thrown into my haversack when I left Thursday and was thus somewhat greased. Let Pa. know that though living roughly now & doing hard duty I am quite well.
Write often. Give my love to all of my relatives & friends & accept the kindest regards of
your affectionate nephew
R. T. Hubard Jr.