Today’s Letter will not be from William McCormick of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. You will have to wait till tomorrow for the next “McCormick Family letter.”
Simply put, when I read this letter, my jaw literally dropped, I sat back in my chair and wondered in awe at the role God has played in my life, in Rachel’s life, in all our lives.
This letter is lengthy so I abridged it.
Head Quarters Camp Near Black River – Thursday, June 4th, 1863
I’m again seated for the purpose of penning you these few lines in answer to yours of the 20th and 21st.
Sister Rach, I only wish that I had the time and means by which to give you a full history of all that I have seen and passed through, but no one can tell the scenes of battle fields which I, with many others, have passed over and more than all this I do not wish you to know it all. I hope that the day may come and that soon I can sit down and relate all that I have seen and passed through during the short time I have been in service.
I have been in four battles and generally hard ones and cannot today show the scratches of a bullet. Thus far, I have been lucky and more than that, able for what ever was my duty. Health and bravery is what matters to the soldier and one who has not the spunk to bear the fire should never enlist in such a cause.
We have men in the regiment, yes, in our own company, who have never yet been in a fight and how did they escape so many? Why it was just by hiding in some dark corner where they could not be found. Oh that such may never be the history of WHC (Wiliam H. Cary).
Well Rach, I must just here share a little about the manner in which the Rebs do their fighting. You no doubt have heard of the gunboat fight at Grand Gulf which is now in our possession. I gazed upon that scene with the greatest anxiety imaginable for I expected to have to take footing on the bank, in front of the rebel breastworks, but as our gunboat was unsuccessful in silencing their batteries which guarded the river, we could not land. We were on the boats, about 20,000 of us and lay about four miles up the river where we had full view of the entire fight which lasted five hours.
I must tell you that it was not the Rebs which done the fighting at this point – for when we come to find out they had four poor blacks chained to the guns so that they could not get away. This was a hard berth for the poor fellows but they hid themselves so that they was not in so much danger.
I have seen slavery in its fullest extent and have less sympathy for slaveholders than ever. I consider it a curse to any nation, but I hope that slavery is no more or if it should still exist, that is may be carried on in a different manner.
Today the cannoning at Vicksburg is very heavy. Our men are undermining their forts and expect to blow them up tomorrow, at least such is the report now in camp. If they should succeed in this work it will give us the victory at once.
William McCormick of Fredericksburg, now a member of the Pioneer Corps, is said to have been killed yesterday while returning from this work of undermining.
Our loss is still small at this place considering the seventeen days fight which we have had. I think that I can write to you in a few days telling all how it looks in Vicksburg, for we will be taken in there as soon as we gain the place.
All is quiet on the Black River today. Rach, I shall not detain you longer at present. Please write soon and tell me all the news, give my respects to all the friends.
W. H. Cary
THEY KNEW EACH OTHER? It would be over 60 years until my own grandparents married, that these families would be related. I still can’t believe they knew each other and that I have both of these sets of letters. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in miracles. And my heart breaks to know what tomorrows letter to Charlotte will bring.
(In honor of those who shaped me, and in conjunction with the 2012 Republican National Convention which I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, each evening I will post a blog about my convention experiences, and each morning I will post a personal family document or historical story which will help you understand what makes me tick. If you read all the historical posts, the last day, I promise you, you will feel the gratitude I do for our patriots who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for our freedoms.)