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Visiting with Lincoln, describing the front lines of the war
letter, McIlvaine, Bedell, Civil War
McIlvaine, Charles Pettit, "Letter to Bishop Bedell" (1861). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 140.
Washington, June 24, 1861
My dear Bishop,
I am writing at the President’s table in his Cabinet. He has just stepped out, and I am going directly at his proposal in his carriage with him to [?] some experiments with some [?] [?]. Yours just received. I told Mr. Chase and the President what you said about the seminary at [?] and gave your [?] to Mr. Chase for which he thanked you and me. But I did not tell him to turn out [Cameron]. You were right about the [?] of my absence. Last Saturday I went almost to the rebel lines near [?] Court House. I went to see our Ohio Regiment and the wounded / [in such] an awful affair. They are in the advance. There [?] go within the enemy's lines. Thence I went 1 ½ miles further in the advance to Gen. Tyler’s two Connecticut Regiments whence the enemies [?] [?] often seen and where the attack will first be made if made at all and where they are always on the expectation as in the Ohio Regiment. I was not captured. I have the interior of that [?] Affairs. Terrible as was the thundering and [?] of [?] our men [? [?] under most trying circumstances. General Tyler who was not with them ([a West Pointer]) told me they behaved admirably. I was much struck with the military [?] of Mr. C. Cook, the colonel of the 1st who did all the work of getting the mean off after [?] had got them into the [?].
I have no more time. I shall not go into battle, but I spent two hours at Arlington House with General McDowell. I find so many of my old friends here among the officers that it is hard work to keep cool. Young Benjamin of West Point asked me yesterday about you, and wished to be remembered. He is a [Lieutenant] in the West Point Flying Artillery stationed here. Camps everywhere, about 55,000 men on both sides of the river besides the more distant. [Scott] with whom I was on Friday and who asked about you, as quiet and unconcerned as a spider in his webb watching a fly. He has no apprehension. What troops are here such noble [Regiments] pouring in continually. [Thirteen Regiments] farther south last week, then four more yesterday, all so equipped such men. The [southern churches] will have to take more than one of them to [?] five. I preached yesterday morning for [?] and in the afternoon went to the Maine Regiment and had two little bits of reading, exposition, singing, and prayer with squads in two of them. Bishop Clarke came on Saturday with the 2nd Rhode Island and is quartered in their camp which is called after [him]. I said before I had no more time, but the President came and said he was not quite ready so I have written on.
You will see that it is
Yours in haste
C. P. McIlvaine