Item Description: Letter dated 23 November 1863, from Elias Winans Price to his sister Henrietta McDowell Price, describing the cemetery dedication ceremonies at Gettysburg, Pa., which he attended. Elias Winans Price, born in 1829, served in Company A, 5th New York Volunteer Artillery, stationed at Fort Marshall, Baltimore, Maryland, near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and in the Shenandoah Valley and Winchester, Virginia.
Item Citation: Letter dated 23 November 1863, found in folder 2 of the Elias Winans Price Papers, #3725-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Fort Marshall, Bolt. Md.
Monday Nov, 23rd 1863
Being on Guard today, I have some spare time and will write a few lines, Our regt has been absent about a week or nearly. We left last Monday, returned Friday night, or rather Sat. morning about 4 o clock A.M. I wrote a letter to William before we went. Instead of it being a Battle monument celebration, it was the dedication of a soldier’s cemetery at Gettysburgh, Penn. On the Old Battle Field, where the battle was fought, on the ever memorable days of 1st 2nd and 3rd of July 1863, when Genl Meade repulsed Lee, and when we lay by our Genl, expecting every hour when he would reach Bolt. But it was a repulse to Lee and by the Blessing of Providence A victory to our Arms. There was a very large gathering there at Gettysburgh, last Thursday, the day appointed, President Lincoln, Secty Seward, Governors Seymour of NY, Todd of Ohio, Bradford of Md and many other notable and Distinguished men were there. Genl Schenck, of this the 8th our Army corps, and staff were Present, our Regt acted as Body Guard and Escort to the President, Genl Schenck, etc. Beside us were Present two Light Artly Comps, two Cavalry Comps. We being the only full Regt there, our Regt received great Praise & credit both from the President and from Seymour of N. York, who never saw us before, he (Seymour) presented us with a stand of Colors saying that it was the finest Regt of men that he had seen from the Empire State. I don’t think he would have been so ready with his Praise, could he have heard the men curse, for being kept standing in Line for ½ a day and no Dinner. The day we left Fort Marshall, last Monday, I was on Guard the Day & Night before, relieved Mon. morn 8 o clock, hardly time for me to drink my coffee, pack knapsack, and get ready to fall in!
We left at 9 o clock, (the 2 companys of the 8th N.Y. Artry doing the Guard duty in our absence) on Reaching the city, the different companies of our regt united, they coming from their respective camps and Garrisons, where they are quartered. The first time our Regt has been alltogether, since they came back from Harper’s Ferry last May. After being in Line we marched to the Bolton Station taking the cars for Gettysburgh, 80 miles, leaving about noon, reaching there about midnight, quartered in Tents on the Hospital grounds out of the Lawn about A mile, the next day was given us to stroll over the field, I guess I walked about 12 or 15 miles around, found a few relics, seen the graves of a number who fell in the fight, not taken up yet, although they are doing so as fast as they can and burying them in the cemetery dedicated to Union Soldiers.
I returned to camp just in time for Dress parade. Some of the Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac remain there yet, left to take care of the wounded, some of whom are there yet. After coffee in the evening, they sang some Union War songs which were very patriotic. Next morning had a wash in the woods, where was a beautiful Spring of good Water, then a cup of coffee together with our Hard Tack, that is, crackers and Ham Pork, or as some soldiers call the crackers (McClellan Buns) Hard as rocks after which we fell in for Battallion Drill, which lasted till noon, then a Bite of Hard Tack. In afternoon was a Grand Review of all the Military by Genl Couch and Staff. Next day was the greatest day, we were in Line about 8 o clock, left camp for the Line of procession about 9, reaching the cemetery grounds about 11 o clock the Honorable Edward Everett being the orator, he delivered the oration, which was about 2 ½ hours in length, President Lincoln made A very short speech, not over (if it was) 15 minutes. Secrtry Seward made a few Remarks, there was A choir of singers sang a Beautiful Hymn, the Band played A very Solemn Funeral Dirge. Taken altogether it was an imposing occasion. Our Regt Formed A Hollow Square around the Flag Staff & Staging.
We got back to quarters about 5 o clock. Evening having been under Arms since 8 o clock A.M. We then had Dinner and Supper, coffee, Soup and some boiled meat. Retired to rest early. Next day was given to us to look over the Field and visit Round Top Mountain which in the Battle was the scene of three desperate charges of the Rebels. A Portion of the ground is yet strewn with old knapsacks, cartridge boxes, etc. On the Top of the Mountain, (which is about 3 or 400 ft. high) is a Flag & staff raised by the Ladies & Citizens of Montgomery County, Penn. On the Staff was written an inscription thus:
“This Flag was Erected Oct. 17 1863 by Ladies of Montgomery Co. Penn. under the auspices of Friends of the Soldiers & Country at the General Hospital Gettysburgh as A slight token of Affection for the 3000 Union Dead in this region.”
Now I will copy a page from my diary of Friday Nov. 20th the Day we left,
“Pleasant. Arose early, A wash in the woods, then Breakfast. In consideration of our excellent behavior & soldierly bearing, since being here and particularly yesterday[‘s] duties, we are allowed today to take A stroll over and around the Battle Field, After strolling around 2 or 3 hours, we had notice that the Col. ? had procured transportation, and we must be back to camp by 2 P.M. to start for Bolt. Thompson, Miller, & myself got back hurried our Pork & Beans down in double quick time, just in time to Fall in! at the call, we then left for the cars which were in waiting close by the Woods. We left about 3 o clock having a tedious rail ride of about 12 or 13 hours, on getting out of the cars at Bolton Station, the different companies, then separating and going to their respective camps & Garrisons, our two comps. A. & G. arriving at our Headquarters about 5 o clock A.M. Sat. morn a tedious ride and march taking the whole night, All being tired out, We tumbled in our respective bunks, and were soon fast asleep in the arms of Morpheous. Was awakened in our company quarters about 8 o clock (3 hours of sleep) by the Ringing of the Breakfast Bell of our Commissary Sergt. Thus the trip of a week is ended, but it don’t make much difference where we are, it’s Duty all the while. I wonder if Williams recd. the last letter I wrote to him just before we left. There is A great excitement in Bolt. To day an account of the draft they have been drafting today, Md is short on the last quota of last call. The ? portion of the people are of course damming it. There is many a wet eye in Bolt. today & right sorry to be forced to Fight, and leave the refinements and comforts of home, such as Feather bed, good food, etc. But copperheads and all ought to be made to suffer A Little as well as we. You can’t do too much for them (our soldiers). Our country must be served though we sacrificed all. Write soon, my Love to all.
While I remain
your brother, Winans.