6th Michigan Cavalry Letter, Gettysburg Campaign – Great Descriptions by William G. Whitworth of Company A – ONE OF CUSTER’S WOLVERINES – “I THINK IF WE HAD PULLED OUR SPENCERS AT THEM, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN GLAD TO HAVE LEFT.” – He died a POW at Andersonville, Ga. & we visited his grave!
William G. Whitfield, a resident of Plainfield, MI., enlisted on August 9th, 1862, at Grand Rapids as a Private. Our letter is 4 long pages written in ink. While signing the letter “W. G. W.” this letter comes with its original cover giving clear documentation to “Whitworth”. Here is the content:
- Gettysburg, Cumberland Co., Penn. June 28th /63. My Dear Sister, PERHAPS YOU WILL WONDER WHEN YOU SEE THE HEADING OF THIS LETTER FOR I FIND MYSELF IN AMONGST OUR OWN PEOPLE.
- We crossed the Maryland line today before 12 o’clock and we are outside the above named town about 12 miles from the line and IN SIGHT OF WHERE THE REBELS WAS NIGHT BEFORE LAST WHERE THEY DESTROYED A RAILROAD BRIDGE AND 17 CARS.
- I ASSURE THE PEOPLE WERE PLEASED TO SEE US COME THROUGH. THERE IS TWO CAVALRY REGIMENTS, 5TH AND 6TH MICHIGAN.
- It is a week ago today we went out on a reconnoiter in Virginia. We was gone four days in the saddle day and night. We came back to Fairfax and started the next morning as a rear guard for the baggage train.
- We crossed the Potomac that night after dark without any serious accident and through a heavy rain which made it very unpleasant.
- We came through Maryland, a most beautiful country. What a difference from that and the state we had just left. Everything looks promising, the best looking wheat that I ever saw and splendid stock, horses, and cattle.
- Almost every little town that we would go through, the waving of handkerchief and flags and they would run out with bread and butter, cakes and fries, and the last town we came through where I am now writing, they hurrahed and sung national airs and greeted us in every way possible…
- …AND ONE WONDER, WHEN THE REBS WERE IN THE TOWN THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY, AND THEY RANSACKED THE STORES AND THREATENED TO SHOOT THE WOMEN IN SOME INSTANCES, BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT GIVE THEM SOME INFORMATION IN REGARD TO THE TELEGRAPH OFFICE, AND WHEN THEY FOUND THE OFFICE, THE OPERATOR AND EVERYTHING WAS GONE, SO THEY DID NOT MAKE MUCH THAT TIME.
- The report is that Lee is marching through Cumberland County in three columns and threatening everything before them, his forces are said to be 40,000 strong and more coming across the river.
- I think they will have a fight at Antietam, the old Battle Ground. I am not posted about our number nor any of the plans of Gen. Hooker, but I hope that they are such as to entirely frustrate the plans of Gen. Lee.
- HE SAYS THAT HE IS DYING TO CAPTURE ALL THE YANKEES, BUT HE HAS NOT DONE THAT YET. I HEAR THAT THEY ARE NEAR HARRISBURG, AND I THINK THAT IS WHERE WE ARE STEERING FOR AT PRESENT. ANY WAY TO TAKE THE REBS.
- There is a report that the Rebels have taken Fairfax, but that cannot be so because we were down to the Rappahannock River and we saw nothing of it.
- My health is first best. In fact the boys all are in good spirits and ready for anything. Our Colonel Gray is sick in Washington, and so is our first Lieut. Birge for which I am very sorry.
- I make no doubt but that you will hear large story about the Rebels, but you must not believe everything you hear, for WE HAVE SEEN IT IN PRINT THAT WE WERE ALL CAPTURED ONCE, BUT WE DID NOT KNOW AND DON’T YET.
- IT MAY BE THAT WE MAY SOME OF US BE TAKEN PRISONERS, BUT I SHAN’T BELIEVE UNTIL WE ARE TAKEN. [Note: Whitworth was captured at the battle of the Wilderness on May 6th, 1864 & died a prisoner at Andersonville 4 months later]
- I ONLY WISH THAT WE HAD BEEN HERE WHEN THEY WAS BURNING THE RAILROAD BRIDGE. I THINK IF WE HAD PULLED OUR SPENCERS AT THEM, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN GLAD TO HAVE LEFT.
- Well, I have scratched this sheet over and I did not think we should stay here long enough for that. I thought I would make the attempt so to let you know of my whereabouts.
- I have not had a letter from you in two weeks. I presume there is several on the road. I don’t expect we shall get half of them, for we shan’t stay long enough in one place to get the mail forwarded to us.
- Well, I must give my love to you all, and I hope by the help of God, we may gain a decisive victory over the enemy, from your affectionate Brother, W. G. W.
- P. S. I expect we shall go every minute and where, I am not prepared to say. If I don’t hear from you, I will write every chance I have and send a few lines to you to let you know what we are doing.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit the Prisoner of War Camp at Andersonville, Georgia, put it on your bucket list. It is quite an amazing place. We went there and found the grave of William… and of course a photo of his stone is included.
#L6-28-63MI – Price $1,395