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A quiet period, with most of the letters concerning family and friends.

The Diary and Letters of Abiel Teple LaForge 1842-1878

Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Phyllis G. Jones (his great-granddaughter)

April - June 1863

Copyright © 1993, Phyllis G. Jones, All rights reserved


This selection of letters explains Abiel's continued presence at Camp Convalescent. His health (which he previously claimed to be quite recoverd) was proclaimed to be not up to the rigors of a winter at the front. And (as I intimated previously) his services were snapped up by the camp commander, presumably due to his reliable qualities shining through.

Not much time to write an introduction this time. This covers the rest of 1862 and explains how Abiel became separated from his original regiment (dysentery).

I decided that the end of 1864 was a good point at which to go back and cover the earlier material. When I decided to start creating this edited and annotated version of the material, I was in the middle of processing the 1864 entries, so it made sense to start from where I was and go forward. But since it's time to start setting up the fixed version of the material on my other website, I want to go back and fill that gap.

"We do not war on women and children." It was not, of course, entirely true when Abiel wrote and underscored that line on September 12, 1864. If it had been true, then the Southern woman he wrote about would not have been so pitifully grateful that the soldiers invading her home allowed her to buy supplies from them so that her children wouldn't starve.

December is filled with bitter weather, made all the sharper by the constant troop movements that undermine all efforts to settle themselves in more comfortably. There's an eternal optimism (or perhaps just dogged persistence) in how the soldiers begin throwing up semi-permanent structures at each stop only to be ordered to abandon them before they can be enjoyed.

Abiel begins the month still on leave (due to his battle injury). After working his way through several major cities and then to his childhood home in the area around Newburgh NY (on the Hudson River), he begins November by heading out to the western part of the state to visit his beloved sister Susan and all the extended Potter inlaws and their neighbors in the area around Andover, Alfred Center, and Wellsville.

October 1864 is packed full a a wide variety of experiences. It begins with more "clean up" operations following the significant battles of the previous month, and with Abiel feeling a little self-satisfied to be given feedback on the high opinion the men have of him. One can't entirely fault him for that. His astounding luck in battle slips a little on the 19th and he is wounded in the hand and head--painfully, though not too dangerously. As a result, he takes something of a tour through the Union medical establishment and is given 30 days' leave while recovering.

"The glittering hosts bestrew the Plain." This week's entries continue in the aftermath of the major battle recorded in last week's session. There is a deadly episode of friendly fire, details of the taking of prisoners, and a certain enjoyment of something better than army rations. But mostly there's constant movement, though without the same uncertainty as before. The Union forces are feeling confident and victorious at the moment. At a meeting with a former acquaintance, Abiel notes, "Strange things happen in war--strange enough for the most fastidious novelist.

I am regularly stunned by the beauty of the observations Abiel has the time and presence of mind to make. This one has to be one of my favorites:


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