These letters were written by Assistant 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.
Camp in the Field
May 30th 1864
We are on the move once more. We have just stopped to rest and get some coffee. I do not know how long we stop we shall make but probably not long. Our mail carrier has come from the ambulance train and says we shall have a chance to send out the mail tomorrow morning so I thought I would write a few lines. I am feeling first rate this morning as we have had a rest of two nights and one day and the men have got pretty well rested. Also I am expecting to have a first rate supper tonight as the boys have been out foraging and brought in some chickens. They were last year’s chickens but I guess we can fix them up in good shape if we are able to get a chance.
I do not know just where we are going to today but some place toward Richmond, I suppose. It is rumored that Gen. Lee has fallen back to Richmond but do not know whether it is so or not. We have so many rumors in camp that it is difficult to tell what to believe. The fact is, we do not know much more about the movements of the army than you at home do. We know about the movements of our regiment and brigade but outside of that, we know but little—only what we hear and that is very uncertain. I see some of the troops are on the move so I suppose we shall be going pretty soon and I shall have to be closing.
My love to all enquiring friends. Write as often as you can make it convenient. I shall write every time I get a chance and send them along. I presume some of them you will never get but that will not deter me from writing and you must write often and I shall stand a chance to get some of the letters.
It is getting to be pretty warm down here now-a-days. I hope you and our little darling are both well as I should feel sorry to hear that you were sick. Your affectionate husband, — Edwin
To my dear wife Amy
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 not mentioned by Brush in this letter. 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.
Near Petersburg, Va.
We have had no mail since my last until today. I received yours of December 5th and am in hopes to receive another in the mail tonight. I can assure you, it was with much pleasure that I received it as it had been a long time since I had heard from home.
We left our camp near Winchester last Friday morning at daylight and marched to Stevenson’s Station (runs miles from camp) and took the cars for Washington. we had a pretty rough time of it too. Our regiment were on open cars and it commenced snowing a little after dark and snowed more or less all night. The snow melted and we were all quite wet. I know my pants and overcoat were wet through on the side I lay on and the rest of the men were as wet. We lay in the water all night.
we arrived at Washington yesterday afternoon and went aboard the transport Massachusetts and had a very pleasant voyage to City Point where we arrived at noon on Monday and we lay there until after dark when we got into the cars and went to Park Station where we stayed all night. Yesterday we moved into a camp that had been occupied by a portion of the Fifth Corps and were fortunate enough to find good quarters to move into. I have got a good log house covered with a [ ]. We have not got the bed put up yet as we have been very busy making other repairs on it. Jo has a good generous fireplace in it. We are very well situated although pretty well to the front. We hear that we are in sight of our pickets and they are within speaking distance of the rebel pickets.
They were firing a good share of the night last night but have been very quiet all day today and I hope they will keep doing so, although they cannot trouble us much where we are now. But then I don’t like the sound “not much.”
I hope you are enjoying yourself now days. I suppose that Harrison’ Morgan 1 is at home yet is he not? Hope he is doing well. Give him my regards. I am well as usual. Stood the journey here first rate and begin to think that I can stand any amount of exposure without its killing me. So you need not expect to get rid of me because I came into the army. Goodbye this time. Yours most affectionately, — Edwin
1 Harrison Morgan was also from Cambridge, Vermont. He mustered into Co. H, 2nd Vermont in September 1862 and transferred into the Veteran Reserve Corps in July 8, 1865.