1863: Edward Everett Coxe to Jane (Woodward) Coxe

This letter was written by Edward Everett Coxe (1838-1863), the son of James Edward Coxe (1809-Aft1880) and Jane Woodward (1818-Aft1880) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edward was mustered into Co. D of the 119th Pennsylvania Infantry as a 1st sergeant. He was promoted to 2nd lieutenant on January 6, 1863 and died of wounds received in the Battle of Rappahannock Station (7 Nov) at Harewood General Hospital in Washington D. C. on November 22, 1863.

Other letters of Edward’s found on-line include one dated 4 February 1863 from Camp near Belles Plains Landing to his brother Robert that delivers news of his promotion to 2nd lieutenant. Another is dated 12 April 1863 from Camp near White Oak Church, Virginia, to his brother Robert and mixes family content with interesting remarks about the war. In part: “…The speech of Gen Ben Butler I think one of the greatest and grandest speeches since the war began. He is a patriot every inch of him. How I wish we had a thousand more like him…I only wish every soldier in the army could be furnished with a copy of his great address…We have had in succession, a Brigade review, a Division review, a Corps review by Hooker, then three days picketing along the Rappahannock, watching & talking to the 6th North Carolina, on the opposite side, then finally four Corps, our own (the Sixth) among the number, reviewed by Old Abe & Mrs. Lincoln themselves…

This letter was written just after the Battle of Chancellorsville in which Edward’s regiment participated but he was not present. From the letter we learn that he was returning to his regiment from a furlough when the battle took place and was delayed by a detail assignment ordered by the provost marshal at Aquia Landing.

Encampment of the 119th Pennsylvania Infantry

Addressed to Mrs. James E. Coxe, care of James E. Cox, Esq., Messrs. Wakerman, Young & Co., Philadelphia, Penna., 407 N. Third Street

In Quarters
Assistant Quartermaster’s Dept.
Falmouth, Va.
Wednesday, May 6th, 1863

Dear Mother,

As you will be desirous to hear from you, I take this opportunity to write you of my whereabouts 7 how I have prospered since I left the city. On Monday morning I arrived in Washington about 6½ P.M.; proceeded immediately to the Provost Marshal’s office & procured my pass to Falmouth. I stopped at the National Hotel Monday night & left Washington at 7½ A.M. for Aquia Creek. I arrived at the Aquia Creek Landing about 1 P.M. I found everything in great confusion there & as there was no boat leaving for Belle Plain Landing since the movement commenced, I wish to push forward to Falmouth to try & find the Sixth Corps & my regiment. But on reporting to Capt. Allen, I was detailed to take in charge some fifty men, being some returning on furloughs, some stragglers from the front, & some ordered to the rear from the front who were worn out with fatigue; for these I had to procure haversacks & rations & attend to their transportation to Falmouth, reporting them to the Corps Hospitals there.

We started in a heavy rainstorm which set in about 5 P.M. & proceeded about 4 miles where we found a portion of the track washed away by the flood. The train was run back to Aquia Landing, the men put into quarters there & I with Quartermaster Sergt. Drake (who had awaited me at the landing) proceeded to the quarters of Capt. Doyle, Post Commissary, & meeting an old friend there — Mr. Sideborham of Philadelphia — we were very comfortably entertained until this morning when again, reporting to Capt. Allen, the Provost Marshal, I got on the train that was to leave at 12 M for Falmouth. This train did not, however, get off until 3 P.M. again in a terrific shower of hail & rain.

We arrived at Falmouth about 4½ P.M. and found everything there in high disorder, learning for the first time that our whole Army had been obliged once more to cross the river in retreat & were lying on this side, without tents, blankets, or any clothes but what they had on, exposed to the rain, and the terrible unseasonable weather of the last 24 hours. Here I met Harry Allen, formerly an old conductor on No. 1 car on the 5th & 6th Street road, who is now Assistant Quartermaster’s Agent at his station, who kindly took us in charge, provided us with a splendid supper, & has furnished us with good accommodations for the night. Meeting Allen was indeed an Angel’s visit. I was indeed homeless & houseless & was indeed happy to accept any hospitality that might be afforded me. We shall tomorrow go about a mile to the Headquarters of our Quartermaster who is with our regimental wagons & stores & stay with him & go with him to our regiment.

From all accounts, our Corps, our Division, our Brigade & particularly our Regiment & the 95th Pennsylvania have suffered extremely. The Army & our 6th Corps have had immense labor & hard fighting ever since last Wednesday. The regiment is at Bank’s Ford some 7 miles above & from what I can understand, will be on the march back to its former camp or to somewheres in the old position by tomorrow morning. I shall try & join it. I learn that our loss has been fearful; Capt. [Peter W.] Rodgers ¹ [Co. B, 119th P.V.] killed, Capt. [Charles P.] Warner [Co. K] seriously wounded in the thigh, Maj. [Henry P.] Truefitt reported wounded besides some 150 men killed, wounded & missing. Capt. Warner is in the hospital near here & tomorrow I shall try & find him & see if I can do anything for him.

Of my own company [Co. D] I can learn not one word. I shall try & find out more tomorrow & write you immediately. We have been out-generalled again. this time it seems to be Gen. Sedgewick who is to blame, who instead of being satisfied with driving the rebels beyond the fortifications, must follow them up some three miles & get flanked by an immense force coming (on Sunday night) like a whirlwind upon him, forcing him & the 6th Corps to beat a flying retreat across the river, terribly cut up. The 11th Corps has acted ingloriously and as usual, the cavalry was not on hand (by the way, it is reported that Gen. [William W.] Averill has been relieved in consequence thereof) & Hooker was obliged with his forces to move the whole army back again across the river & draw up the pontoons. (It is reported that Col. [Robert F.] Taylor of the 33rd New York, formerly our acting Brig. Gen, has been killed.)

Joseph Hooker’s Headquarters, Lacy House, Falmouth, Va.

Mr. [Gustavus] Fox, the Asst. Secy. of the Navy, came down just after I arrived at Falmouth on a special train & proceed to Gen. Hooker’s old headquarters at the Lacy House to see Old Joe. It is reported here that very likely the gunboats will be ordered up the Rappahannock to Port Royal to protect the crossing of our troops at that point, in a few days & that the army will again move on against the enemy who I am satisfied are our superiors in numbers & in generals. I have always maintained the rebels were in larger force on the other side than we were & I believe it yet. Whether this movement is another effort at strategy, I cannot say, or whether it is a terrible disaster. Suffice it is we are all across this side of the Rappahannock in terrible disorder. I will write further when I learn more. I am well & have suffered for nothing. I am anxious to be with my regiment & my company. As far as I can learn, Lt. [John A.] Wiedersheim is all right. Give my love to all & believe me your affectionate son, — Edward

P. S. Did Maggie impart a little bit of news which I gave her previous to my leaving home? — E. E. C.

N. Y. Tribune, May 12, 1863
1st Div. 6th Corps
Wounded of D Co., 119th P.V.
S[amuel] D. Mansfield (arm)
A. Newcomer (arm)
J[ohn] Templeton (thigh)
Corp. [Alfred L.] Pedrick (arm)
R[obert H.] Egner
Corp. Donaldson

¹ Capt. Peter W. Rogers was wounded during a fierce engagement near the Salem Church during the Battle of Chancellorsville. While laying on the battlefield, he asked his men for a drink of water, and then ordered them to retreat and leave him to die. This was the last any of his men heard from him. In 1922, a farmer plowing over the battlefield overturned a brass tag with the inscription, “Captain Peter W. Rogers, Company B, 119th Pennsylvania Volunteers.” 


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