Ladies Aid Society

This last letter from Charles to his brother William was written from New York City. He refers several times to a wound he received in one of his feet and mentions that he has been able to walk a little on crutches, however, he indicates that his meals have to be brought to him. He never mentions how he was wounded.  He seems to think it’s a matter of time until he returns to active duty with the 8th Michigan.

Charles was wounded at the Battle of Secessionville on James Island near Charleston, SC. The battle occurred on the morning of June 16, 1862 and the 8th Michigan was one of several units assigned to attack a Confederate fort on the island. Although the unit reached the Confederate lines, the soldiers in all the units were forced back by heavy enemy fire. The regiment suffered 13 killed, 98 wounded, 35 prisoners, and 36 missing in the action. Union forces took 683 casualties in all during the three-hour fight

Had Brigadier-General Henry W. Benham obeyed orders, Cock may not have been wounded. The 8thMichigan suffered greater casualties in this battle than in any subsequent action during the war. General Benham had been ordered not to attack the Confederate fort on James Island. Against the advice of his junior officers, he did so anyway. In consequence, he was court-martialed and reduced in rank to Lieutenant-Colonel for the duration of the war. 

General Henry W. Benham (Library of Congress)

Charles does indicate that the men are well-tended to by New Yorkers who bring baskets of supplies. The women he mentions are probably members of a local Ladies Soldiers Aid Society, volunteer associations that were organized by women to provide food, medicine, bedding, clothing, and other assistance for the soldiers.

Today Bedloes Island is known by another name, Liberty Island. The star-shaped walls of Fort Wood now form part of the foundation for the Statue of Liberty.

 

Fort Wood   Bedloes Island N. Y.

                                                                                                July 25th  1862

 Brother William

It is a fine day here & I wish I was at home to see what kind of day it is in Michigan it has been cold & wet for the last few days here you need not think that I am getting homesick because I want to see home for that is not the case for that would be a very foolish thing  I would like very much to see all of the folks at home but it may be that I shall see more rebels & smell more powder first I can not tell yet but I think that I shall not be much lame but it will be sometime before I can wear a boot on it the same as I did before they have quit giveing furloughs for the present  my foot is doing well I went out a little ways on crutches this morning for the first time & it will not be a great while before I can get around considerable, but what I want to know is what in thunder is the reson that I dont get any letters from home or any where else the last letter I got from home was from Father dated the 20th of June not a great while before I left Hilton H perhaps I do not give you the right direction the time any of you write if you do put on U.S. Hospital  Bedloes I New York & I guess it will come   How are you all getting along at home  how is the harvest  have you got though yet  how is the wheat & what is it going to be worth this fall   did you have help enough to do the harvesting who helped you   what wages did you have to pay   write & give all the news & take good care of Jess for if my foot is so that I can’t walk I may want to join the IIII Cavelry,    Today is the day for visitors to come over from the City & there are lots of them over here today mostly Ladies and every one has a basket full of something for the soldiers & they would fetch more but the Dr wont let them but I had a good deal rather be down near Richmond where the rest of the boys are or else at home though this is not a bad place  if a felow could only walk around  I dont know as you can read this I took a suden Start & have written it in a hurry & I want you to set down & write one  but take your time & give all the how is Miss What-is-her-name  that you went to see one Sunday night & spoke about in your last letter to me I dont want you to enlist but tell some of the rest that are at home yet if they are not all coward & ever intend to do anything for their country now is the time to it.   There goes the bugle for dinner but mine has to be brought to me which will be beef or bean soup bread & meat and for Supper bread & tea & breakfast bread & coffee  I guess I have wrote about as much as you will want to read at once so I will quit short off & eat my dinner.

 

C. F. Cock

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