The third surviving letter from Henry Allen Butts to his wife Annie was written only a day after the 2nd letter.
In letter two, he had referred to a long march, and now he tells about it. First he repeats what he said in letter two–his joy at finally receiving letters from home and he explains:
The 43rd Ohio Volunteers, part of Sherman’s army, have joined the armies of other generals and a total of 90,000 men are camped near Goldsboro.
Pvt. Butts has been fortunate, but has experienced some horrendous situations.
Col. Swayne is Lt. Col. Wager Swayne, a Yale graduate. By the end of the war, he had been advanced to Major General of Volunteers and Brevet Major General in the regular army. He won the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. for an earlier battle, Corinth, Mississippi. Quoting from the web site Lybarger’s Civil War:
“A lieutenant colonel in the 43rd OVI during the second Battle of Corinth that mortally wounded Col. Smith, Swayne became its colonel after Col. Smith died. On Feb. 3, 1865, Swayne was severely wounded while crossing the swampy Salkahatchie River in South Carolina. While helped to an ambulance wagon, he kept repeating, ‘The Lord sustains me.’ He was successfully evacuated to New York City, losing his leg but surviving.”
The battle was the Rivers Bridge part of Campaign of the Carolinas , and General Sherman had divided his troops, 5000 strong, with those under Swayne circling through the swamp to flank the 3000 Confederate Troops who were trying to prevent the Union Army from crossing the Salkahatchie River. Besides a vivid and gruesome account of what it was like to be in this battle, Henry Allen returns to the subject of the death of Jerimiah Stull/Stahl. Henry Allen’s mother was Esther Stahl Butts, so there is a strong possibility he was related.
An account I read of the battle said that soldiers tending to the wounded had to hold their heads up so they would not slip into the water and drown. It was a morass of blood and death. And Henry Allen, who had twice closely missed being shot, escaped at least one more time.
He closes once again saying that he will write when he has a chance. They have been told that they will stay here for some time. The Army marched north to Richmond to join with Grant’s army at the beginning of April.
Obid Underwood is Obediah (Obed) Underwood who was in Henry Allen’s Company. He did survive the war after having his arm amputated at the shoulder.
According to the web site Lybargers Civil War , there was a Grand Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in Mt. Vernon, Ohio in 1897. Since that was very close to Henry Allen’s home, he very well might have been there. Lt. Col. Wager Swayne, who Henry Allen saw injured, was in attendance.
This year (2014) is the Sesquitennial of the North Carolina campaign, and North Carolina has a great website to mark the occasion. You can get pictures, anecdotes and a detailed timeline at the North Carolina Civil War 150 website.