Battle of Chancellorsville May, 1863

Battle of Chancellorsville May, 1863: view of the crossroads at today’s Route 3 and the Ely’s Ford Road. Courtesy of

Last week’s story left Pvt. Stowe on the Stafford side of the Rappahannock River opposite the city of Fredericksburg.  He had declared his readiness for yet another battle after a little rest.

On May 6,1863 ,Pvt. Stowe and the 2nd Vermont moved west from Fredericksburg to reinforce the Union Army at Chancellorsville.

If the combat wasn’t hardship enough, word reached the soldiers of a loud and active group of Northerners, called Copperheads, who were protesting the war and demanding that Lincoln negotiate peace with the Confederate government. Stowe penned his sentiments to his family.

May 22, 1863

Camp at White Oak, VA

Dear Parents:

My health is good as can be expected, hope you are all well at home. I have hird a great many remarks made about the copperheads in Vermont. 

I wish the coming draft would fetch every mother’s son of them out hear.

I would like to march them up to the canons mouth with my bayonet at their rear; they would go at a double quick or get the length of my bayonet inserted in the seat of their pants.

If they was out this way and should talk as they do up your way they would find themselves acting as a tasle on the end of a rope some fine morning and I would be one to help raise them to that elivated position.

I haven’t bin out hear two years fighting for nothing. I came out hear to fight the rebils. I have suffered to much to stand their slangs and insults.

It is big business enough for them to stay up in Vermont out of harms way and find fault with our doings out hear.

If nothing prevints me from doing so I am a going to see this thing settled. Then I mean to return and diclare ware against the northern rebils.

I have already said enough on this subject to let anyone know my opinion on the copperheads.

It is a beautiful time out hear, the trees are putting forth its green foliage, the wheat on the diferent plantations is heading out and would look finely were it not for the constent tramp of our armey over this taritory.

Virgina is a desolate looking country with the two mightey armeys destroying every thing.

The hardest sight that I ever witnest was in the battle of Monday. The enemy thinking to turn our left flank rushed uppon us in solid colums and our artilery opened on them with grape and canister and cut them down by hundreds.

The air was full of arms and pieces of men blown to pieces by the murderous fire of our artillery.  I never want to see the like again; the ground was covered with the enemys killed & wounded.

I had forgotten to say, that the stamps you sent me came safe.  Good by for this time your son.  William Stowe

Until next week, be well.

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