This letter was written by Asst. Surgeon Edwin Ruthven Brush (1836-1908), the son of Dr. Salmon Mortimer Brush (1804-1887) and Seviah Lovegroove (1817-1890) of Cambridge, Lamoille county, Vermont. Edwin married Amy R. Fletcher and had 3 children. Edwin R. Brush was drafted and entered the service on 17 July 1863 as a Private in Co. H, 2nd Vermont. An 1858 graduate of the University of Vermont and a practicing physician prior to his service, Dr. Brush was elevated to Asst. Surgeon in his company on 15 October 1863. He was mustered out on 15 July 1865 at Washington, D. C.
In this letter, Asst. Surgeon Brush informs his wife of the fight at Fort Stevens near Washington City on July 11-12, 1864. In that battle, the 2nd Vermont was part of Brig. General Lewis Grant’s Vermont Brigade with Major General Horatio Wright’s Sixth Corps who rushed to the city in advance of Gen. Early’s attack to bolster the local militia. Historians will remember this battle to be the one President Lincoln personally witnessed, although his presence was no mentioned by Brush in this letter.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent.]
July 15, 1864
My Dearest One,
Having a little time this morning I thought the most pleasant way in which to improve it would be in writing to you. In fact, I am never so happy out here as when writing to you. If I do not write once in about so often, I am very uneasy, and it makes me feel sad and unhappy whenever there is a time that I cannot get time to write you.
We left Fort Stevens about 3 o’clock on the 13th and reached here last night just before sundown, it being about twenty-five miles from the fort—so you see we made a good day’s march.
They had quite a fight in front of Fort Stevens the day after we arrived there resulting in the defeat of the Johnnies and they skedaddled that night. When they first came up there, they supposed that they were going to have nothing but raw militia clerks to fight and were much surprised when they found the Old Sixth Corps were in front of them and thought it very strange that they were there so soon and said they always found the Sixth Corps wherever they went. Some of them wanted to know how many Sixth Corps we had in this army. Some of them that we took hollered to our boys, “How are you Sixth Corps? We are glad to see you once more.”
It is reported this morning that the rebels have got across the river and if so, we shall most likely go back to Washington. And I should like to go there long enough to get paid off, which we shall be if we go back as we were expecting to be paid when we were ordered to march. I shall be glad to get some pay as I am nearly out of money and want some to use. Yesterday I received a letter from Mary. They were all well at home but were feeling very anxious about [my brother] George as they had heard that the Vermont Cavalry were taken prisoners but that is not the case and I think George is all right. ¹
My darling, I think of you a great deal and often think if the song, “Do they miss me at home, do they miss me? It would be an assurance most dear to know at this moment some loved ones were saying I would be were here.”
Dear Amy, I know of one loved one that wishes I were with her always, does she not? You do not know the pleasure it gives me to know that there is such a one at home—one that I love and trust, and one that I know loves me more than all the world besides, and always been so kind and anxious. With regard to [ ], I feel that I ought to be very thankful that I have a darling wife that has always been so kind as you always have been to me. So goodbye for this time, my dearest. Yours most affectionately, — Edwin
¹ George W. Brush (1841-1921) served as a hospital steward in the 1st Vermont Cavalry.