16 May 1863: “one thing I can say I was not in the least scart and filled up my pipe and had a good smoke while the bullets were fling pretty nimbly.”

Item Description: Letter, 16 May 1863, from George Washington Baker to his sister describing the Battle of Chancellorsville. Baker hailed from Washington County, N.Y., and served with Company K, 123rd New York Volunteers in the Civil War. The collection includes letters of Lt. George Washington Baker, who served with the Army of the Potomac. He was involved in campaigns in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Item Citation: From folder 3 of the George Washington Baker Papers #4909 in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

 Commence here and look at the top to see how the sheets are numbered for I made a mistake

Camp 123rd N.Y.V.

May 16th 63 Near S.C.H.

Sister Nell
 It has been some days since I heard from home and I have written 12 letters I think since receiving one but I presume there are some on the way. I believe there has some letters been received since the Battle but few. I wrote to Doanes folks yesterday telling them of Albert death. He was carried to the Hospital and his leg was amputated above the knee and appeared to be doing well but it seems it was not to be as he soon died. It will be an awful blow to Mrs. Doanes but no worse for her than a thousand others that are mourning now. War is an awful curse but in some [2] cases unavoidable and I suppose this is one. Howard has been brought to Aquia Landing and is in a very critical position. his leg was struck by a piece of shell and the flesh tore off down to the bone which is shattered bad. The leg must come off near his body and if he has strength to bear up under the opperation he will survive that is the only hope and it is very faint as he is quite weak now and they are feeding him stimulus to keep him up. There are maggots in his leg and he has not had the care he ought to have had I presume for among so many it was impossible to tend them as they ought to be but as good as one could expect under the circumstances. He had a bullet through his other leg but he would soon get over that. I fear he [3] will never get well and that seems to be the general opinion. I have not seen him but the Captain went down yesterday and one the boys to day and the Capt ar I shall go to morrow and some of us every day untill he gets worse or better G Cowan John Williams & [Tooby?] are Prisoners and gone to Richmond so they will have a chance to see the place before the rest of us but I do not want to go in that way as that is not what I came for. My opinion is we shall not move again in some time but I may be mistaken. There are a great many 9 months and 2 years men whose time is nearly out and I think Hooker will wait untill he gets reinforcements although I think now is the time to end the war as the Rebs are worse off now than they will be [4] in three months. We have just begun to live again. We have lived pretty hard along back as there was nothing to be had for love or money. We have succeeded in getting some apples this morning and some apple dumplings are in process of making and we are expecting a good dinner. This morning we commenced drilling again so we shall have something to busy ourselves about It has been quite lonesome lately as I have been in the habit of going down to Howards Tent and there were Chauncy, Guilford, C Cowan G Cowan & Howard all there. Now two of them are gone and 10 or 12 are missing. Some killed some wounded and the rest Prisoners. It seems different from what it would if I had not been brought up with them all my life but such things must [5] be expected in this kind of business and we are lucky in getting out without losing more for it was an awful battle and the oldest Soldiers that have been through a number of battles say it was the hardest Battle they ever saw. I am satisfied with it at any rate and am not anxious to see another. but one thing I can say I was not in the least scart and filled up my pipe and had a good smoke while the bullets were flying pretty nimbly. I made up my mind that I was in the hands of a higher power than mans and all would be according to his good will. Write me how Doanes folk take the news of Alberts death &c. There has been a number of Citizens here from pretty much all parts of the county but Granville [6] and the natural supposition would be that there is not a great deal of interest manifested for Company “K” but I presume such is not the case. I do not see why I do not hear from Wm Allen as it has been some time since I wrote him. It would not be impossible I think to find A Doanes body as it was buried across the river near Chancellorsville. You need not expect because the name of the place where we had the battle is long that it is a long village for it consists of one scattering house in quite a pleasant situation on a hill near a small opening. I suppose the place is now extinct as the house is burnt set on fire by the Rebel shells when they shelled us. We are having very pleasant weather [7] but rather warm. Trees are all leaved out and Peaches have been in bloom some time. I saw one of the most splendid sights of that kind I ever saw in my life. I should think there were 2000 nice peach trees all set out in style and all in bloom and the air was fragrant with the scent of the blossoms but in the midst of them were horses mules &c gnawing off the bark and biting off limbs it fairly made me ache to see them but the proprietor had left and there was no one to yea or nay. There are some beautiful places in the south and I may conclude to settle down on some deserted plantation and spend the remainder of my life. How little we know how long the remainder of our life is and how soon we may be called upon [8] to give an account of what we have spent. 

Come to look this over I find I have been dancing from one thing to another and back again but I have written just what I happened to think of first and as you have it free of expense you must not grumble. I believe I am in a talking mood to day and if I was there I think I could talk you blind.

Give my love to all the folks but I have forgot one thing did you ever read Nicholas Nickelby by Dickens I am reading it now but it does not come up to my expectations nor to his Great expectations. Write soon and believe me anxiously writing for a letter Tell Father I did not dirty the seat of my pants contrary to expectations nor tear my clothes in getting over a picket fence

Yours aff George

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