Monthly Archives: June 2014

1864: Almon W. Gould to Friends at Home

How Almon might have looked

How Almon Gould might have looked

In August 1862 Almon W. Gould, the 27 year-old son of Owego Village blacksmith Adam C. Gould (1810-1895) and his wife Rebecca Adeline Arnold (1818-1884), joined Company H of the 109th New York Infantry Volunteers. For nearly the first two years of service, this unit saw little action as they were relegated to guarding the railroads around the Nation’s Capitol. After General Grant took command of the combined federal forces in the spring of 1864, the 109th New York was attached to General Burnside’s independent 9th Corps and moved with the Army of the Potomac into the Wilderness near Chancellorsville, Virginia.

According to company records, Corporal Almon W. Gould was wounded on May 5, 1864 — the first day the Federal forces encountered resistance from General Lee’s Army of Virginia. The following letter was written some three weeks later from Baltimore, Maryland where Almon and many other soldiers were convalescing from wounds received during the Battle of the Wilderness. Because it is not Almon’s first letter to his hometown of Owego after arriving in the hospital, it contains no details of his injuries nor an account of the engagement in which he was wounded. It does appear, however, that having seen “the elephant,” Almon was more anxious to return home than to return to his regiment.

The letter has been transcribed as written, with only minor corrections to punctuation. It should also be noted that the letter is dated May 1864 and the envelope is dated October 1864. The letter is not completely contained by the envelope so it may be safely presumed that the letter and the envelope were inadvertently mixed by some family member at a later date. The date on the envelope suggests that Almon Gould was still in Baltimore in October 1864 and had not rejoined his unit which had been engaged in many bloody contests with Lee’s army in what was the last major campaign of the war.

Almon’s parents were married about 1834 and lived in Nichols, Tioga County, New York in 1840. By 1850, the couple was living in Owego Village, New York where Adam worked as a blacksmith. They had (at least) the following children: Almon [born 1835], Morris [born 1837], Marion Delray [born 1856], and Fred [born 1861].

1864 Envelope

1864 Envelope

Addressed to Mr. A. C. Gould, Owego, Tioga [County] N. Y.

Baltimore, Maryland
May 25, 1864

My friends at home,

I have just mailed a letter for you all and I thot I would comence a nother and wright when I had a steady hand. this morning is vary warm. I have just ben down to breakfast. it was vary good. The truble is that I am vary weke. I think that I will be all right in a few weeks. I would lik to see you all vary much but all things has its time. I will wait until home, then I will chat with you all a gain for a few moments.


May 26. I have changed bunks ¹ this morning. I am suited now. ever thing is so nice. I have got all cleane cloths. I mene under cloths. I am more contented than I was. I don’t worry as much as I did. I think I shall come home but it takes time for all things but do all you can I told you all that was nesary for me. to day I want you to send me all my letter that come direct in Mom’s care. I want all to wright to me that would like to here from me. I received that Paper all in time and it was just what I wanted. Send the next one as soon as they are out.

I want some one of you to send me ten postage stamps by the next letter. Don’t fer get one of our number died last knight, shot through the lungs but all the rest that came with me is doing well as can be expected. We have better living than we did. All right now, I want you all to keep up good spirits and hope for the best. You can direct all to me here as I shall stay here if I don’t come home, you may depend up on that. Good by to all at Home.

A[lmon] W. Gould

P.S. I am Plaid out [and] so neverous


¹ Regimental records state that Almon was mustered out of the service on 15 May 1865 at West Buildings Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.

Notes on Almon W. Gould’s regiment:

109th Regiment, New York Infantry
Organized at Binghamton and mustered in August 27, 1862. Left State for Annapolis, Md., August 30, 1862. Attached to 8th Army Corps, Middle Department, to October, 1862. Railroad Guard, 22nd Army Corps, Dept. of Washington, to April, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to September, 1864. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.-Guard railroad from Annapolis Junction, Md., to Washington, D. C., and garrison duty in the Defenses of Washington till April, 1864. Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May 3-June 15, 1864. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Ox Ford May 23-24. On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Bethesda Church June 1-3. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Ream’s Station August 25. Poplar Springs Church, Peebles’ Farm, September 29-October 2. Reconnoissance on Vaughan and Squirrel Level Roads October 8. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run, October 27-28. Fort Stedman March 25, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2. Occupation of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Surrender of Lee and his army at Appomattox Court House April 9. Moved to Washington, D. C., April 22-27, and duty there till June. Grand Review May 23. Mustered out June 4, 1865. Veterans and Recruits transferred to 51st New York Infantry.

Regiment lost during service 5 Officers and 160 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 164 Enlisted men by disease. Total 329.


1861-1864: Horace Hagadorn to Rebecca Hagadorn

How Horace Hagadorn might have looked

How Horace Hagadorn might have looked

One of the recruits from Tioga County volunteering to serve in New York’s Third Regiment, Company H, was Horace Hagadorn. According to the National Park Service on-line records, this unit was organized at Albany, N. Y., and mustered in May 14, 1861, for two years’ service. It was known as the “Albany Regiment.” Company H of this regiment was recruited at Owego, Halsey Valley, Richford, Spencer, and Tioga. Briefly, this unit left the State for Fortress Monroe, Va., May 31, 1861, and served there till July 30. This unit moved to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., July 30, and served there until June 6, 1862. Attached to Fort Monroe and Camp Hamilton, Va., Dept. of Virginia. to July, 1861. Dix’s Command, Baltimore, Md., to June, 1862. Mansfield’s Division, Newport News, Va., Dept. of Virginia, to July, 1862. Weber’s Brigade, Division at Suffolk, 7th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to September, 1862. Fortress Monroe, Va., Dept. of Virginia, to April, 1863. Suffolk, Va., 1st Division, 7th Army Corps, Dept of Virginia, to July, 1863.

These are two Civil War letters written by Horace Hagadorn of Spencer, NY to his younger sister, Rebecca. Three days after the latter of these two letters was written, Horace fought at Cold Harbor. Three weeks later, Horace was killed at Petersburg on June 15, 1864, age 26. He was a full Sergeant Major at the time.

Horace’s Enlistment record is as follows:

Name: Horace Hagadorn
Enlistment Date: 24 April 1861
Enlisted as a Private on 24 April 1861 at the age of 22
Enlisted in Company H, 3rd Infantry Regiment New York on 14 May 1861.
Promoted to Full Sergeant on 30 June 1862
Promoted to Full Sergeant 1st Class on 03 April 1863
Enlisted in 3rd Infantry Regiment New York on 09 June 1863.
Transferred on 13 June 1863 from company H to company S
Promoted to Full Sergeant Major on 13 June 1863
Killed 3rd Infantry Regiment New York on 15 June 1864 in Petersburg, VA

Horace was the oldest child of James Hagadorn (born about 1814 in NY) and his first wife Lockey Genung. James was a subsistence farmer in Spencer, Tioga County, NY. Horace was born about 1838 and had two sisters, two brothers, and one step-brother in 1860. The youngest child appearing in the household of the 1860 census was Dewitt, the child of James Hagadorn and Ann Hoyt, whom James married after the death of his first wife. The children appearing in the 1860 census were:

Rebecca Hagadorn, 18
Emma L Hagadorn, 15
David B Hagadorn, 13
Aaron G Hagadorn, 9
Dewitt Hagadorn, 6 months


Camp Hamilton
Fortress Monroe, Virginia
July 1st, 1861

My Dear Sister [Rebecca],

Though I have written home as frequently as possible to let you all hear from me, none of my letters have been specially to you, for it is impossible to write to all I could wish.

This morning is wet, so that we do not come out on drill, which gives a good opportunity to write, which does not often occur. These are no days of rest here except when it is raining and till now there has been but little rain since we came here .

There are no war news of importance to write from this quarter but it is thought quite probable that the first great battle may be fought here. Fortress Monroe is a very important position which the rebels would like to obtain possession of. It is the strongest fort on this continent and no force they can send will ever succeed in taking it if it shall be invested by a sufficient force by the government. Active preparations are making to receive them if the first blow is struck here. Troops are arriving here almost every day and more are expected. Batteries and entrenchments are being constructed at several points, one just in the rear of our camp, toward Hampton, so that in case an attack is made by a superior force we can retreat safely to the fort. Still it is my opinion that they never will attack us though of course it is well enough to be prepared for them if they do come. It is not likely that we shall do any fighting unless attacked till some time after the Fourth. Then as soon as a sufficient force is received here and everything is ready, there will be an advance upon Richmond. At least this appears to be the intention now.

The weather here has been very hot some of the time, but so far I find I can stand it as well as the best of them. I have been trying my hand at cooking and will tell you something of that. Our company appoints three cooks every week, one chief cook and two assistants who serve for one week. I received the responsible position of Chief, with Lewis Truesdell and Fred Pinney assistants. You will understand that to cook three meals a day for some seventy soldiers keeps one busy. For breakfast we have crackers, coffee, and fried pork, dinner crackers, beans, and beef soup, supper crackers, corned beef, rice and coffee. This is about the regular bill of fare, sometimes we get fresh beef and now we get bread twice a week and tea. The crackers upon which we have lived mostly are not the kind with which we were acquainted at home but regular bricks made to keep in any climate. We have appetites for anything. A week ago we received a nice box of good things from Owego sent to George Stratton, Fred Pinney, and me. The way we feasted on the cake cheese was a caution you can imagine!

There are seven of us in a tent here. I am in with the same ones with whom we tented in New York. We have our tent fixed up the most convenient of any tent on the ground, not excepting the officers. Yesterday we thought we would make a floor in it as the ground is sound and damp. So we went outside the lines and tore down a nice board fence and now we have a floor to sleep on. I send you the pass which we had to go outside the guard. We are to have a regimental inspection this forenoon and then will get a month and and a half pay in a few days. I expect to send about fifteen dollars from home in a check on the Bank of Owego.

Write to me as soon as you get this. Tell [sister] Em to write and I will write her in a few days. Did you get a couple of photographs sent from New-York?

Your Affectionate Brother , — Horace


Bermuda Hundred, Virginia
May 25th, 1864

Dear Sister,

Being in camp resting today the first time in a good while I have a chance to write you a few lines. You need not suppose however from the size of this sheet that it is my intention to write a long letter. We have had active service and a good deal of marching since we left Folly Island. Our regiment was in four days skirmishing and fighting on the Petersburgh and Richmond railroad and the Battle of Proctor’s Creek and Drury’s bluff last week. Our loss was sixty-two men in the regiment the Colonel and our Captain were wounded — I was in the thickest and hottest of it but came out all right. We expect to be at it again in a few days. I received two Owego papers this morning, but have not heard from you in a long time.

Your brother, — Horace

1861-3: James Wallace Hunter to John Andrew Hunter

Capt. was mortally wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church

Capt. Hunter  of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry was mortally wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church

These four letters were written by James Wallace Hunter (1824-1864), the son of John W. Hunter (1783-1839) and Elizabeth McIlvain (1786-1869) of Centre County, Pennsylvania. When the Civil War began, James was residing in Monroe, Wisconsin. He entered the service as a first sergeant in Company C of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry in May 1861 and was promoted to 2d Lieutenant of Co. A in July 1862. He was elevated to 1st Lieutenant in November 1862 and then to Captain of Co. F in November 1863. A regimental history records that Hunter “was a very popular officer because of his unfailing patience, good humor and kindness of heart. He was calm and imperturbable in battle, seemingly unconscious of danger, and was in all the battles of the regiment” which included Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Atlanta Campaign.

Captain Hunter was at the head of his company when the 3d Wisconsin Infantry encountered a strongly entrenched Confederate army at New Hope Church near the crossing of the Marietta, Dallas, and Acworth roads in Georgia on May 25, 1864. The 3rd Wisconsin, in the center of the advancing Union line, took the brunt of artillery fire with over a hundred casualties sustained from grape and canister wounds — Capt. Hunter among them. Hunter was wounded in the knee by grape shot — thought to be only a “severe bruise” — but he died on 9 June 1864 at a hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a victim of blood poisoning. Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin.

James wrote the letter to his older brother, Capt. John Andrew Hunter (1820-1916), of Halfmoon, Centre County, Pennsylvania. John was married to Elizabeth B. Elder (1824-1909) in January 1852. He gained his title by commanding several local companies in which many officers and men were prepared for service in the Civil War, although he himself never saw active service. In his early manhood, Captain Hunter taught for almost sixteen years in the public schools of Centre and Huntingdon Counties, beginning when about sixteen years of age. His interest in education was continued with the establishment of The Pennsylvania State College, as evidenced by his presence at all its commencements until within the last two or three years, when failing strength prevented his attendance.

Though undated, the first letter was postmarked from Washington D.C. and the two regiments mentioned near the end of the first paragraph — the 1st Wisconsin and 11th Pennsylvania — were both 3-month service organizations that were attached to Abercrombie’s 6th Brigade, Negley’s 2nd Division, of Patterson’s Army. These troops were thrown in with the 3rd Wisconsin in mid July while at Camp Pickney on the southeast slope of Maryland Heights near Harper’s Ferry. It is therefore conjectured that this letter was written in late July, just before the three-months service organizations mustered out.

The third letter was written from City Hall Park in New York City a few weeks after the draft riots. As the day of the draft approached, it was determined that several seasoned and battle-hardened regiments should be brought into the city to ensure that further rioting would not occur. The 3rd Wisconsin was transported in the steamer Merrimac from Alexandria to Governor’s Island in New York. They were disembarked at Canal Street and marched up Broadway to City Hall Park where they bivouacked from 22 August to 5 September 1863. A regimental history claimed that the “brown-faced veterans from the Potomac battlefields” in their “seedy” uniforms caused “a dense crowd of pedestrians” to look upon them with great curiosity and “not a rioter dared peep.” [Source: History of the Third Regiment of Wisconsin Veteran Volunteer Infantry by Edwin E. Bryant]


1861 Letter

1861 Letter

Addressed to John A. Hunter, Esq., Halfmoon, Centre County, Pennsylvania

[late July 1861, Maryland Heights]

I cannot write more to you at present. Excuse scribbling. I have to write on my knee and on the ground and every other way. I express my trunk to mother to the mouth of Spruce Creek. If it has not been sent to you, I wish you would send for it and if you get it and have no key to open, break the lock and get my clothes out to air them. I did not pay the charges. The reason was the agent could not tell me what the charges would be and I thought I would get them as soon as the trunk and take it home with me but the way the thing is ___ning, I cannot get away at present. The 1st Wisconsin Regiment is just waiting their time out and the Pennsylvania 11th is doing the work.

I had intended writing to John but I cannot get time. Now you can tell him I will write to him as soon as I can.

We have a regular confusion in camp. Everyone is busy getting ready and all anxious to be into the fun.

There is a good many traitors in this part of the country but they have to keep quiet.

Good bye. If we never meet in this world, I hope we may meet in a better one. Your brother, — J. W. Hunter

I cannot tell you half I wanted to. Perhaps I will be able to tell you more next time. Perhaps I may get home on parole yet. Good bye.


Camp near Stafford Court House, Virginia
3rd Wisconsin Vols.
February 17, 1863

Dear Brother,

I wrote to you some time ago and have not received and answer yet. I thought I would drop you a line. I stated I had some prospect of getting leave of absence to go home but have not got it yet. Nor will not before the first of March but I think will then if nothing happens. There is only two officers allowed absence at one time and there is two absent at present so I will have to wait till they return. If you pay us a visit, come immediately and I think I will be ready to go home with you. I will not have much time to spend with you. They only grant leave of absence for ten days to go to Pennsylvania and to Wisconsin fifteen.

We are only eight miles from Falmouth. Some of our boys go down every few days to visit the friends on twenty-four hour passes. The roads are very bad. Rains or snows every few days. Snow fell last night 3 inches and still snowing fast this morning. Yesterday was warm as May. We have no news.

I must quit. The mail is going out. Write if you do not come yourself. If you do come to Washington & come down the Potomac to Aquia Creek Landing and then you will have to foot five or six miles to Stafford Court House.

Your brother, — J. W. Hunter


1863 Letter

1863 Letter

Addressed to John A. Hunter, Esq., Halfmoon, Centre County, Pennsylvania

Camp City Hall Park, New York
August 25th 1863

Dear Brother,

I suppose it will surprise you somewhat to hear of us making so sudden a change in our base of operations. It seems strange to us. Two weeks ago we were doing picket duty on the Rappahannock. We left there on last Sunday a week, came to Alexandria on the cars, stayed there three days, then came to New York on transports — four regiments of us — two days and half coming and oh!, but some of us were sick.

Looking north up Broadway from Barnum's Museum (1863)

Looking north up Broadway from Barnum’s Museum (1863)

We arrived in the city on Saturday, marched into the City Hall Park and camped. The men are in barracks, officers have their tents pitched in the park. I tell you we are quite a curiosity to see as old soldiers as we are. The drafting commenced yesterday. There has been no trouble yet. I do not think there will be much. The rowdies are a little afraid of old soldiers. We are kept in the business part of the city right in front of the Astor House and Barnum’s Museum.

We can spend our time pleasantly although we are kept very strict, but there is so much noise and bustle I am almost tired of city life already. The weather is very warm. I must quit for the present. I am officer of the day and kept pretty busy.

I have had to buy a new suit of clothes since I come and it has strapped me. I had no idea of coming to New York when I sent my money home or I would have saved some. I wish you would send me one hundred dollars by express as soon as you get this or perhaps we may move and I need the money. Address it to:

Lieut. J. W. Hunter, 3rd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, City Hall Park, New York

Write at the same time. No more at present. — J. W. Hunter


Camp of the 3rd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers
Elk River Bridge, Tennessee
October 21st 1863

Dear Brother,

Elk River Railroad Bridge being reconstructed in 1863

Elk River Railroad Bridge being reconstructed in 1863

I suppose you are a little anxious to know where we are and what we are doing. Well we left Virginia on the 26th September and rode eight days on the cars. Was a long, tedious ride and not much chance to sleep, but the weather was pleasant and we had rather a pleasant trip. We came on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to Wheeling, then by the way of Columbus & Indianapolis, Louisville, to Nashville, Tennessee.We went down to Stevenson, Alabama, there were ordered back to Dechard, Tennesee. The Rebel cavalry got in between us and Nashville and burned some bridges. We went aboard the cars again, rode as far as was safe, then marched 40 miles, captured a lot of Rebs, had the bridges built, opened communication, and marched back to the present station 80 miles south of Nashville. We are guarding the bridge at this place. Our corps is to guard R. R. and keep communication open with the Army in front.

There has been another change in commanders. General Grant passed here yesterday to take command at Chattanooga. It is hard to tell what will be the next program.

We have built winter quarters but how long we will get leave to stay in them is hard to tell. There is a rumor this morning at headquarters we are to move but now one knows where. I suppose to the front. This country is a good deal like Virginia — almost everything destroyed.

There is a Negro Regiment ¹ camped besides us — eleven hundred strong. They have been out about two months and make good soldiers. They make the best kind of picket guards. They know nothing but obey whatever they are told, have white officers. They will not let a cow or even a dog cross the lines and is not safe to go around the lines after dark. They are firing all the time. They say, “Can’t no Reb come around dare wid cow skins on to fool de soldiers” so down comes Mr. Cow. They fire at everything that comes around after night.

I must quit. Corporal is waiting for this. Write soon. Direct to 3rd Wisconsin Vols., 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Slocum’s Corps, Army of the Cumberland via Louisville, Kentucky.

¹ Hunter is referring to the 12th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, originally called the 3d Tennessee Volunteers (African Descent). This regiment was organized in Tennessee during the summer of 1863. They were sent on 2 September 1863 to the Elk River Bridge, near Derchard, and placed under the command of Col. Charles R. Thompson. They drilled there and pulled guard duty at the railroad crossing until early November when they reported to Nashville.

1862: Lt. Francis Stevenson to Capt. John Andrew Hunter

This letter was written by Lt. Francis (“Frank”) Stevenson of Co. C, 148th Pennsylvania. Frank was the son of Samuel Stevenson (1804-1887) and Nancy Wallace (18xx-1858) of Patton Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania. Frank was married to Sarah Jane Gill (1839-1888) before the Civil War. The following sketch comes from a regimental history:

Lt. Frank Stevenson

Lt. Frank Stevenson

Lieutenant Francis Stevenson was bom in Grand Isle County, Vermont, December 27, 1829, of Irish descent, and with his father’s family came to Centre County in the 50’s. For two years following 1857 he was in the employ of the United States Government in charge of cattle at frontier posts and at the close of his service he rode home to Buffalo Run on horseback. On his return to Centre County he joined one of the several military companies, possibly that at Stormstown. When the 148th was being raised Captain Forster and Lieu tenant Bible were engaged in enlisting men for what afterwards be came C Company. They went to Stevenson’s home on Buffalo Run one Sunday morning before daylight and he agreed to help raise the company. Stevenson’s experience evidently suggested him as avail able material for an officer in the company. On its organization he was elected Second Lieutenant and commissioned by Governor Curtin. He was a man of sunny disposition and undoubted courage and is highly spoken of by those who knew him at home and in the Army. He was attacked with fever and sent home in the winter of 1863, some time in J anuary and got back to his Regiment, not fully recovered, a few days before the Army began to move in the spring. He was killed at Chancellorsville [on 3 May 1863].

Lt. Stevenson wrote the letter to Capt. John Andrew Hunter (1820-1916) of Halfmoon, Centre County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of John W. Hunter (1783-1839) and Elizabeth McIlvain (1786-1869). He was married to Elizabeth B. Elder (1824-1909) in January 1852. Captain Hunter gained his title by commanding several local companies in which many officers and men were prepared for service in the Civil War, although he himself never saw active service. In his early manhood, Captain Hunter taught for almost sixteen years in the public schools of Centre and Huntingdon Counties, beginning when about sixteen years of age. His interest in education was continued with the establishment of The Pennsylvania State College, as evidenced by his presence at all its commencements until within the last two or three years, when failing strength prevented his attendance.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Capt. John A. Hunter, Buffalo Run, Centre County, Pennsylvania

Camp Forster
October 26, 1862

Respected friend,

After writing 4 or 5 letters to you & getting no answer from any that I sent you, I will send you another. I received the letter that my wife requested you to write & the one that you sent by R. C. Peel and that is all that I ever got of you. I am very well satisfied that you have written several times to me but where they have gone, I cannot tell for I never got any but them 2 letters. This letter I will send to Buffalo Run & see if you will get it from there. The 2 letter that I received I answered in a day or 2 right after I received.

There is several of our boys sick. Will Harpster is sick. ¹ I think he is all that is sick from your neighborhood except George Gates ² & he is very bad with that rupter. He can scarcely walk. He went down to Cockeysville the other day to get into the hospital & the doctors sent him back the same evening. They say that there is nothing the matter with him. The doctors think that he wants to get discharged so you may judge what pity there is for him here. He is the worst crippled man you most ever saw walking around.

George Pottsgrove ³ is getting along very well. He is doing fine. I hope he will come out all right. He is a fine looking soldier. There is quite a time in this county about the draft. In old Centre, you are relieved of that trouble. Some here [are] running away & others are resisting the officers. We are guarding the railroad. We are camped near Phoenix Cotton Factory.

Sarah Jane (Gill) Stevenson

Sarah Jane (Gill) Stevenson

Well Captain, it is pretty hard now. It is about 8 o’clock & [Capt. Robert I.] Forster & [Lt. William] Bible have gone to bed. I am getting cold. We are in tents and it is getting cool down here but it is nothing to the Eutaw trip as yet. But some of the boys thinks it very hard. We are scarce of bedding yet on account of having no funds to buy blankets but there is a prospect of being paid by the middle of next month.

I wrote to Harrisburg about the first letter you sent me with that money in but never got answer. If I don’t hear from you tomorrow I will write again to Harrisburg but if it came there I suppose it has gone to the dead letter office before this.

There is a collision on this road nearly every day. it is the unluckiest railroad I ever heard of. What the reason is, I cannot tell.

I will send this letter to Buffalo Run thinking that you may get it. I have directed all to Half Moon but I will change this one to see if I cannot get it to you for this is the 5th or 6th letter that I have written to you and got no answer from any of them. Well I must close for the present. Hood night. I am well at present & hope that these few lines may find you & family all well.

To Capt. John A. Hunter. I remain yours truly, — Lieut. F. Stevenson, Co. C, 148th Pennsylvania

¹ Will Harpster does not appear on the Company C roster.

² George Gates enlisted on 27 August 1862 and was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate 20 April 1863.

³ George Pottsgrove was drafted in August 1862 and transferred from the 148th Pennsylvania to the 51st Company, 2d Battalion Veteran Reserve Corps in November 1863. He was discharged in August 1865 at the end of his three-year term of service. 

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1862: Lewis W. Wilson to Loran & Polly (Austin) Wilson

How L.W. Wilson might have looked

How L.W. Wilson might have looked

The First Brigade of the Railroad Division was led by Col. James A. Mulligan. The brigade included four regiments — the 23rd Illinois, the 106th New York, the 14th West Virginia, and the 15th West Virginia. This letter was written by Lewis W. Wilson (1842-1881) of De Peyster, New York. He mustered in as a private in Company C in August 1862 and was later promoted to sergeant. He was wounded in action at Monocacy, Maryland on 9 July 1864 and again on 19 October 1864 at Cedar Creek, Virginia. He was promoted to first lieutenant before the end of the war.

Lewis was the son of Loran Wilson (1813-1880) and Polly Austin (1814-1880) of De Peyster, St. Lawrence County, New York. After the war, he married Martha E. Keyes (1845-1915).


Headquarters Camp Jessie, N. C. [New Creek, Virginia]
November 22, 1862
First Brigade R.R. Guards, 106th N. Y. Infantry

Dear Father & Mother,

This Sunday eve I sit down to write you and as Howard & myself is enjoying good health, we wish you the same. But it is very sickly here at present/ It will average 15 out of every that are in the hospital either here or at Cumberland some which are very sick. We had another funeral here this day making 14 that have gone where they will know no more war or fighting between nations. Some of these I think might have been with us now if we had good doctors but we have not and we have to make the best of them we can.

We had good times at Rowlesburg [Virginia]. We was there 11 days. Six of this days I was sick with the jaundice but was up all of the time as it happened there was a good doctor there and he cured it. Howard was as tough as a bear all the time. We gave two shillings a week for the cooking of our rations and lived on the upper shelf all the time.

There is 15,000 union soldiers here now all lying still doing nothing to bring this war to a close. Yesterday we had a grand review. It was enough to make a man shudder to see 15,000 men in line and think what it takes to pay them one month. On a average, it takes 31 dollars which makes 465,000 in one month for just 15,000 men. It takes $8,000,000 each day to support this war. If the North can stand that long, I do not see how they can pay the debt.

James A. Mulligan

James A. Mulligan

We now belong to [James A.] Mulligan’s Brigade and have to guard the railroad from Cumberland to Wheeling which is about 200 miles. There is four regiments in his brigade.

The most of the boys think that they will have a chance to go home by the first of next May. I hope that it will be so but can’t see it yet and as long as we have such generals, this war will never be settled. But the President will not let any of the soldiers go in winter which is a good sign that there is something a going to be done. I hope that  Burnside will do the right thing. We heard that they was a going to raise 600,000 more but I hope not for we have got men enough if they would let them fight.

We would like to have you send us some things. We want some boots for they cost $8 per pair such as you could get in ____ for $4½ and not half as good. If you can send some, get 10’s for me and 8’s for Howard. Rib skin, long-legged, double-sealed, and tops on them like my boots that Rickett made, and send one box of Wright’s [Indian Vegetable] Pills. Everything else that we want we can buy here as cheap as you can get there and save the fare on it. You can send it with some others. George Eustis ¹ has sent for boots also. Henry Wilson and C. Rounds boys [George, Levi, & William] all can come in one box. Lloyd [C. Washburn] wants his tweed vest sent. I believe this is all this time. Send the box in Capt. Samuel Parker’s ³ name and then it will come all right and as soon as possible.

We expect our pay soon and will send the most of it home.

The weather is very cold now. It has been trying to snow all day but has not made out much. The nights are quite sharp — what I did not expect to see in Virginia.

Excuse all mistakes and I will not look it over. — L. W. Wilson

¹ George D. Eustis (1844-18xx) enlisted at De Peyster, New York as a private in served in Company C until the end of the war. 

² Henry H. Wilson (1840-18xx) enlisted at De Peyster and mustered in as a corporal in Company C. He died 20 January 1864 in New York City.

³ Samuel Parker was mustered in as the captain of Company C on 27 August 1862. He was transferred to Company E in March 1863 and was wounded in action at Fisher’s Hill, Virginia, on 22 September 1863. He died of his wounds on 1 October 1863 at Winchester, Virginia.


1863: William Wallace Smith to Ann Smith

How Pvt. W. W. Smith might have looked

How Pvt. W. W. Smith might have looked

This letter was written by Pvt. William Wallace Smith (1838-1875) of Co. B, 22nd Massachusetts Infantry. William was the son of Ebenezer Smith (1799-Aft1855) and Ann (Bruce) Smith of Needham, Massachusetts. William married Laura A. Drake, the daughter off Hiram and Harriet P. Drake of Lowell, Massachusetts in July 1868.

Smith’s letter contains a description of the 22nd Massachusett’s involvement in the Mine Run Campaign of late November 1863. The 22nd Massachusetts was brigaded with the 18th Massachusetts, the 1st Michigan, and the 118th Pennsylvania under the command of Col. William S. Tilton in Bartlett’s Division of Sykes’ 5th Corps.

1863 Letter

1863 Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Ann Smith, Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts

Camp near Rappahannock Station
December 4th 1863

Dear Mother,

Here we are a played out, workout army. Pack up. Pack up. Pack up.

On picket, December 7th,

Just got so much wrote the other day and the bugles began to blow pack up so we moved camp. The next day I worked for the Captain all day and yesterday had to attend line inspection in the forenoon and come on picket in the afternoon.

The 24th of November we started to march. It rained like fun and we went about a mile and a half and come back again. Thanksgiving day we started again. Crossed the Rapidan and stopped for the night within 5 miles of our old battleground of Chancellorsville. Started the next morning and marched to Orange Court House. On the road about 100 Reb Cavalry dashed in on our wagons about 40 rods in our rear and run off (with) between 20 and 30. You ought to have seen Co. B, E, K & Sharpshooters of the 22d double quicking through the woods with knapsacks on chasing them up. We followed them up so close that they had to burn up a lot of the wagons. We recaptured 4 and those we pulled out of the burning train by hand with the ammunition burning on all sides of us wagons blowing up and shells exploding on all sides and within 5 feet of us.

The next morning marched to our right and joined the 1st Corps. Found the Johnny’s in good force and strongly posted on a high hill with earthworks thrown up. The order was given to pile up our knapsacks and extra baggage and prepare for a charge but they could not get everything ready that night so they put it off till the next day. At daylight we were ready for the charge down close to the pickets in the woods. [It was] awful cold and [we] could not have any fires nor move round much [that night. I] thought we should freeze.¹

The Generals arrived at the conclusion that they should lose too many men for no purpose by charging ² so drew off again in the evening. [We] laid the next day in front of them, everything quiet, and in the night marched back across the Rapidan and we have moved round now till we are on the north side of the Rappahannock, guarding the railroad. Our corps (the 5th) is scattered from the Rappahannock to Centreville guarding the railroad. All the rest of the army is on the other side of the river.

Enclosed you will find $5 to pay for those gloves & shirts. I think the best way will be to roll them up snug and small as possible and send them by mail but you may do as you think best. Out Quarter Master is Lieut. H. A. Royce. As regard stockings, I am going to send for a box when we get settled in winter quarters and will have some then.

From your affectionate son, —  Wm Wallace

¹ Smith’s account of this campaign is consistent with that of Thomas H. Mann of the 18th Massachusetts who wrote of it years later in his memoirs: “I slept some, maybe two hours about midnight, but the weather was growing extremely cold. The ground was freezing under us and, from the necessities of our own safety, not a spark of fire was allowed. Even the lighting of a pipe must be strictly and carefully hid under the shelter of a blanket. At two the next morning all were silently awakened and orders were communicated in an undertone to ‘leave knapsacks and prepare for the assault.’ We crept noiselessly down into the valley under cover of the darkness, thus shortening the distance to the enemy by one-third, where we massed in a small piece of woods, and lay still as death awaiting further orders. It was whispered from one to another that an attempt would be made at daylight to storm the heights beyond. The morning dawned colder than the night before, and I saw men so chilled that they had to be carried to the rear on stretchers….Soon as it was light enough the rebels could be plainly seen from the position where I lay, watching from the heights they occupied — waiting for us to come.”

² The attack was called off by Major General Gouverneur K. Warren who noticed that the Confederates had significantly improved their positions during the night. Meade was initially angered that the attack was called off but later supported the decision by Warren. Ironically, though it was Warren who made the decision, Meade was later praised by the army for the decision not to carry out the senseless charge.

1861: Jane White to George W. White

How Jane Young might have looked

How Jane White might have looked

This letter was written by Jane White, the wife of George W. White. White enlisted on 2 November 1861 in Company B, 111th Pennsylvania Infantry. The regiment was organized at Erie late in 1861 and did not move to Harrisburg until January 1862. It moved on to Baltimore, Maryland in late February and was on duty there until it was moved to Harper’s Ferry, Virginia on 16 May 1862. For Pvt. White, however, Baltimore was the end of the line. He died at Baltimore, Maryland, on 10 May 1862.

I cannot find George and Jane White in the 1860 Census Records but it seems pretty clear they earned their living as barrel makers. Much of the letter is devoted to a discussion of the condition of the horses they used to haul wood, iron, and finished product.

In the letter, Jane mentions another soldier in Company B — Pvt. George Andrew Goodwill (1831-1899). In the 1860 census, “George Goodwell”, his wife Mary, and their four children were residing in Southwest, Warren County, Pennsylvania, where his occupation was given as “farmer.” During the war, Goodwill received a shell wound to the right shoulder at Wauhatchie, Tennessee on 29 October 1863.


Eldred [McKean County, Pennsylvania]
December 15, 1861

My ever dear husband,

It was with pleasure I heard that you got to camp on your pass & I hope you are well. We are all well. Jim & I went to Titusville the day after you left & took 6 barrels and got 2 dollars per barrel. We had to go to Pleasantville to get our iron. We think it would be better to sell the staves at Cutler’s & buy of Mead. Old John is sweneyed [sweeneyed] in both shoulders and I am getting him doctored. Mr. Whipple has rolled him on both shoulders and it has begun to run. Whipple came from York State with C. Babcock & if he gets John cured, he will drive team for me this winter. He will be to half the expense & have half the profits. The horses are hidebound, cart & all, & all need extra care.

I went to Joe’s to see if I could get Jake to work but he left that morning for Port Royal [Juniata County, Pennsylvania] in Colonel Maxwell’s Regiment. ¹ Whipple won’t charge anything for curing the horse if he drives team this winter. Sheldon traded horses with Babcock and got an old black mare with a stiff neck and we had her to go to mill & she gave out. He got 45 dollars to boot. I offered to trade John for her before we went and he would not trade and when I got back I would not trade for 10 to boot and that made Sheldon squirm for he does not think John can be cured and if he can’t, what shall I do with him? Write and let me know, and let me know what to do about selling them staves & buying more. We can get them of Mead for 8 dollars delivered at Mill’s Shop. Jim wants to get them drove on Hunt’s machine.

George Goodwell [Goodwill] came here last night and I was glad to see him dressed in uniform and I think it is very pretty and comfortable. I am glad he will carry this to you for you wrote you did not get that other letter. I want you to write as soon as you get this & answer my questions & when you leave Erie and get to a stopping place, let me know how to back a letter for I do not calculate to let distance diminish the number of our letters.

Yesterday I received 4 dollars relief. Allison won’t get leave to carry my papers again. It is very close work to get any more relief. We will have to prove that we actually need it. I do not know why Mrs. Goodwell & I did get no more than 4 this time. If you get any pay, send it to me and I will put it out till March for I don’t think I can get anymore from the County after this month’s pay.

Dear Sir, if you could read the thoughts of my heart, you would then know what I undergo on account of your absence but I have faith to believe it is for our good or God would not have permitted it to be. Be kind to all and make your peace with God and do right is my only wish.

Yours forever, — Jane White

¹ Col. William Maxwell, a former West Point graduate, commanded the 57th Pennsylvania Infantry from September 1861 until March 1862 when he resigned. The regiment was recruited principally in the counties of Mercer, Crawford, and Venango though there were a considerable number from Tioga, Bradford, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties as well.

1862: Francis Henry Brown to Charles Francis Wyman

How Franks and Louisa Brown might have looked in 1860

How Franks and Louisa Brown might have looked in 1860

These two letters were by Army Surgeon, Francis (“Frank”) Henry Brown, (1835-1917), the son of Francis H. and Caroline Matilda (Kuhn) Brown of Boston. Brown graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 1861. He married Louisa Beckford Eaton (1836-1930) of Salem, Massachusetts, on 25 September 1861. She was the daughter of Charles Flint and Mary (Doggett) Eaton.

Frank and his wife, Louisa, wrote both of these letters to Louisa’s sister, Margaret Doggett (Eaton) Wyman (1834-1874), the wife of Charles Francis Wyman (1836-19xx) of Boston. Charles was the son of Abraham Gibson Wyman (1800-1858) and Miranda Priest (1802-1869).

We learn from these letters that Dr. Brown served in the Judiciary Square Hospital (also known as the “Washington Infirmary”). This hospital consisted of “commodious frame buildings” erected on the square after the burning of the first infirmary in November 1861. The new buildings were opened in April 1862, just a couple of months prior to the date of these letters. We also learn that Dr. Brown served at the hospital with Dr. David Williams Cheever (1831-1915), an 1858 graduate of the Harvard Medical School.

One letter contains a delightful and rather detailed description of the U.S. Capitol just as it was nearing the completion of its extensive renovation in 1862 — from the marble baths installed for the members of Congress to the heating and air conditioning of the House and Senate Chambers. The other letter describes a visit to the Lincoln White House and the newly refurnished East Room.


U. S. A. General Hospital
Judiciary Square
Washington [District of Columbia]
June 16, 1862

My Dear Charlie and Margie,

I have not yet heard from you but I suppose you will write me in course of time. So I occupy an odd moment to write you. You will have heard and seen letters from me telling you what I am doing. For the past day or two we have been a little less hurried for the reason that we are sending off a number of our men who are in condition of convalescents, retaining our severest cases. This in order to make room for a large number we expect very shortly when the battle takes place before Richmond. Large preparations are being made to accommodate large quantities of wounded.

You will have heard that I am professionally busy — hence, happy.

Yesterday while at dinner, we received orders for one or two surgeons from our hospitals to proceed immediately to a church near the station to take charge of a large number of wounded from [Gen’l James] Shield’s Division near Winchester. So Dr. [David Williams] Cheever and I hurried our two ambulances with nurses, boys, orderlies of all kinds, instruments, soup, coffee & brandy, & went full gallop for the place. We found on arrival by some negligence our orders had been delivered too late and we had to come back. The wounded had been carried to other hospitals.

One day just before I came they received at this hospital 225 men from [the Battle of] Fair Oaks and all in two hours. Then they had busy work. Forty or fifty of those men I have now in charge.

I have not spoken to any of you of the Capitol [Building]. It is because I am entirely unable to describe its magnificence. Its corridors, its splendid tessellated floors, gorgeous staircases and pillars, and statues and pairings and dome and halls! There is nothing like it in this country. You must come on and see it. Today I saw the baths used by the members of Congress — each of them, the usual size of bathtubs, is cut from vast rock of solid marble supplied with hot & cold water & shower bath. Each bath room is splendidly furnished, fine carpet, gas &c. &c.¹

The ventilating & heating apparatus of the Capitol [building] is rather an interesting thing. Under each member’s seat is a small register from which in winter comes warm & in summer cool air — the former from large furnaces in the basement, the latter forced in by immense fans moved by very beautiful engines.

This morning I was in the House of Representatives at the opening of the morning session. Here we consider if a man looks like a scamp, he must be a member of Congress or a contractor. I have no doubt they are the most reprobate set in the community. I said I was in the House at the opening — about 75 members perhaps were there. When the chaplain rose to make the prayer, about half the members rose with him. Very many remained seated. Some continued writing or reading papers, some continued with their feet thrown up on their desks and gazing about. In no place on earth, I think, but in the Congress of the United States, our country, would such a thing ever be done.

The other day, while there, I looked round to see what attention was being given to business. About one third of the members were in their seats. Of these, I saw only two listening to the gentleman speaking. The rest were doing all kinds of things. Once a week the Marine Band, the President’s own, and the best band in the U.S. plays in the Capitol grounds. These grounds are very beautiful — fine trees shade the walks, beautiful lawns and fountains and flowers greet the eye and, above all, the great Capitol, most splendid of buildings I ever saw, towers in marble magnificence. You know it is characteristic of Washington that the public buildings are never finished, but the Capitol — as far as its outside is concerned — is almost complete. As soon as the dome is done and the statue of Liberty raised to its place, it will be a complete affair.

I often think of my New England home and friends. I want you to write to me often and let me know what is doing. As I have had no telegram from home, I suppose Lorrie does not start today. Why won’t you come on to see us? I can get you rooms in the same house with us, I think. Washington is not, in this part of it, as is generally supposed, unhealthy. Off by the President’s Home they have chills but not up here. To be sure, it will be hot here in the middle of the day, but the weather since I have been here has been delightful. Only one night have I been without a thick comforter on my bed.

Strawberries are out of market here. Cherries are in. Cooking south of Philadelphia is horrible. Roads are miserable. You would be annoyed with a great many things here but I must leave for the next [letter].

Yours hospitably, — Brown


One of two remaining tubs in basement of U.S. Capitol

One of two remaining tubs in basement of U.S. Capitol

¹ The bathtubs were installed around 1860 during the expansion of the Capitol. DC is known for its swampy summers, and legend has it that senators could be banished from the chamber if they were too smelly. But lawmakers—like most Americans at the time—didn’t have indoor plumbing at home. They needed a place where they could wash up. So, the Architect of the Capitol ordered six marble bath tubs, each three by seven feet and carved by hand in Italy, to be installed in the Capitol basement—three on the House side, three on the senate. Today, only two tubs remain on the Senate side, in a room which now stores the building’s heating and cooling equipment. But evidence of room’s former grandeur remains.

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Washington [D.C.]
July 11, 1862

My Dear Charles,

On arriving here the night of the 4th, I found your letter enclosing the shoulder straps so I suppose I must consider myself owing you a letter. Louisa wrote to Margie a few days informing you, I suppose, of our arrival & everything to date. Since then we have been quite unwell & busy. Wish you could look in on us. Lorrie is very much em____ here. She sits down in her room or reads or runs in to see the family with which she has become quite well acquainted. She seems entirely happy and she seems very bright & happy.

The refurbished Easts Room in 1862

The refurbished East Room in 1862

This afternoon we have been up to the White House to walk in the President’s Ground. It is a very beautiful spot — an open lawn opening a fine view down the Potomac — with hills covered with trees on either side. Louisa was much pleased with the “East Room.” It is very grandly & gorgeously furnished — perhaps not quite in New England style, but everything very rich.

Louise wants to finish the sheet to you. I will write again soon. Horsecars just came running today from the Capitol to 14th St. — F. H. B.

My dear brother,

I told Frank I would write a few lines to Charlie but I am very happy to write them to you. As Frank says, I have not had any yearnings for home yet. Still should love dearly to see you all. I am learning a great deal here as well as Frank, and O, Charles you don’t know how different slavery seems when one is living in the midst of it (this is for yourself alone. I am afraid anyone else might misjudge me). I don’t mean my ideas of the right & wrong of it are altered in the slightest, but I can’t help seeing the effect of the law freeing them in this district. ¹ There is one instance right in the back yard here — a woman with six or seven children with a do-little of a husband is free of course. They were slaves in this family. Now they can’t possibly get a living but almost starve, and a great many I hear wish the law never had been passed. But I find I have not room, Charles, to write all I wanted to about it so I will leave it till I am home again. Then I expect I shall prove myself more of an Eaton than ever.

P— Kuhn writes that Margie has been ill. Has she been sicker since I left home? I do really hope not. She made herself sick running for and waiting upon me, I’m afraid. I don’t know what I should have done then without her & you both. I do want to hear dreadfully from some one at home, but I haven’t yet.

Now one word for Margie unless she is sick. There is a lady here who dresses sweetly — a young married lady. She wears something I think perhaps you would like to have — especially if you haven’t bought a new dress. A black silk skirt (which you have) with a plain mainsook (I don’t know as I spell it rightly) waist just pleated like Lillie’s. Zouve underwaist, buttoned down the back with small lace buttons and in other respects like Lillie’s new white waist only she wears a black silk point about twice as large as your velvet one trimmed all round with a narrow rouche of pinked black silk and this little touch goes over the arm ___ for sort of shoulder straps. She wears the same point silk muslin dresses. Thought you could wear it…. Affectionately, — Louisa

[Frank Brown continues…]

Let me know how recruiting in Massachusetts prospers. I fear poorly. We must have reinforcements & that speedily or, I fear, the most disastrous consequences will ensue. We see things here more as they are. As long as our country is ruled by these detestable politicians and our armies are so thoroughly restrained from checking this inhuman rebellion, because one general or another is getting too popular, so long will she hold an inferior place among nations, as I fear she does now.

I have just had forty new cases — all sick — none wounded. A day or two ago performed quite an operation on an arm.

Love to all. we have heard from no one at home except my Father & Mother & W. P. Kuhn. We have written to everybody there, I believe. Transcripts from F. B. are very welcome. — F. H. B.

¹ President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia on 16 April 1862.

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1862: John Vinton Martin to Martin Bell

Unidentified Soldier in 76th Pennsylvania

Unidentified Soldier in 76th Pennsylvania

This letter was written by John Vinton Martin, a corporal in the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry. He enlisted on 28 October 1861 from Blair County, Pennsylvania, and was killed in action on 7 May 1864 at Chesterfield Heights, Virginia. The 76th Pennsylvania, also known as the Keystone Zouaves, arrived at Hilton Head early in December 1861 and remained there until May 1864 when it was ordered to Virginia.

Corporal Martin wrote the letter to his cousin, Martin Bell, who founded the Sabbath Rest Foundry in Antis Township of Blair County. It was given the name “Sabbath Rest” because Martin invented a new way to stoke the fires and leave them burn Sunday without having any person attend to them.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Mr. Martin Bell, Sabbath Rest, Blair County, Pennsylvania

Hilton Head, South Carolina
March 7, 1862

Mr. Martin Bell
Dear Cousin,

It is with pleasure I sit down to write you a few lines. I say a few lines for I have not time to write you more than a few. I saw the first ice this morning I have seen in South Carolina. It was very precious being nearly a scum in a small pond. Saturday night was decidedly the coldest we have had since we came here. Today the wind was very high and very disagreeable to be out. The sand was carried about by the wind as snow sometimes is in the North.

We have made an addition to our tent. We procured some boards, made a box about 15 inches high and just large enough other ways to admit the tent to stretch over it, and to this box we have the tent fastened. It makes it about a foot higher and gives an abundance of room. We have also a good floor and have added a few new pieces of furniture in the shape of stools, etc. which add much to our comfort.

The paymaster has payed us with a visit. We were payed on the 19th of last month. Many were obliged to take checks in part pay as money was getting a little scarce with the paymaster. All from about the furnace sent all they wished to send home to Loyd & Co., or rather he will draw the whole amount from the government and pay it out to persons who are to receive it. I sent to you in this way $25 which you have perhaps now got or will get before this reaches you, if nothing has happened to delay its arrival.

We are all well. John & Jim join in sending love to all. Excuse brevity.

Your true cousin, — J. Vinton Martin

1863: Benjamin Wright to Friend Husted

Sgt. Benjamin Wright (1861)

Sgt. Benjamin Wright (1861)

This letter was written by Lt. Benjamin Wright (1834-1913) of Co. I, 10th Connecticut. He was from Greenwich, Connecticut. Wright was mustered in September 1861 as sergeant. Promoted to 2nd Lieut. January 8, 1863; 1st Lieut. June 6, 1864; and mustered out 17 October 1864.

Wright saw action with the 10th Connecticut at New Bern, the assault on Fort Wagner, 1863 Charleston campaign, Bermuda Hundred, and Petersburg.

Wright married Abigail (“Abbie”) R. Mead (1839-18xx) in 1860. She was the daughter of Thomas Amos Mead (1799-1892) and Hannah Seaman (1802-1880). Their young son, Benjamin (“Bennie”) M. Wright, was born 17 July 1861. Prior to the war, Benjamin worked as a clerk for Greenwich merchant, Joseph E. Brush. [He may have been the son of Joel Wright (b. 1785) who resided next door to the Brush family in 1860 Census.]

In this letter written from St. Helena Island in South Carolina, Wright describes two expeditions of the regiment and, in particular, the heavy losses sustained by the 10th Connecticut in the Battle of Kingston [or Kinston] — an engagement overshadowed by the much bloodier Battle of Fredericksburg that was taking place at the same time in Virginia. Two soldiers of Company I who were killed in the battle at Kingston were singled out in this letter by Lt. Wright for their bravery — Corporal John Wallace, the color bearer, and Pvt. John Hubbard, both from Greenwich. Wallace was mortally wounded by a shot to the head and Hubbard died following the amputation of his leg just above the ankle.

Greenwich citizens were particularly well represented in the 10th Connecticut Volunteers. Company I, of the 10th regiment consisted entirely of Greenwich men. The company’s first commander was Major Daniel Merritt Mead. Major Mead lead the first contingent of Greenwich volunteers into the Union ranks; approximately fifty five young men, averaging 21 years in age. In the ranks of Company I were twelve pairs of brothers, three pairs of brothers-in-law as well as three pairs of father and son serving together.

The final page of the letter is missing so there is no signature and there is no accompanying envelope to aid in the identification of the man to who Lt. Wright addressed this letter, though it is believed he was from Greenwich. There were several members of the Husted family living in Greenwich at the time and they seem to have been connected to the Brush family with whom Benjamin Wright was associated.


St. Helena Island, South Carolina
February 23d 1863

Friend Husted,

If my recollections serve me, I have for a long while indebted to you for a letter. I usually try to be prompt in answering my letters but you know the circumstances. Just after I received your letter last summer, I came home. After I returned to my regiment, some way or other it slipped my mind until I had become an old story and my time was very much occupied. It has thus run along until now. There is no time like the present. I have decided to set to work immediately and make up for my negligence.

Since my return from home, our life has been more active than ever before since we entered the service. On reaching New Bern, I was promoted to orderly. Immediately the duties of that office — particularly when in active service — are very many and occupies most of a man’s time. I remained in that position until the 7th of January when I was promoted to be 2nd Lieutenant, Co. A. Since then my duties have been much lighter although they are heavier than would be if we had a 1st Lieutenant with us. We have one, but he is on Gen. Ferry’s staff. Then the Captain does not go out with the company but little. He has been away now for three days. I expected him back this morning but he has not made his appearance yet. He is expecting a commission as Major of the regiment.

Soon after I returned, we went on what we called the Tarboro Expedition. We did not go to Tarboro. We went to within about nine miles of there. We went to Williamston and Hamilton and back by the way of Plymouth. We were gone fourteen days — marched something like two hundred miles and by water something over three hundred. We had but one fight and that at night. Give me any other time but night to fight. It is bad enough at anytime, but more particular then. You can’t tell what you are getting into. We lost no men, however. Part of the march I did in my stocking feet — my feet becoming so sore that I could not wear my boots. We had quite a heavy snowstorm while we were gone.

Newspaper Account

Battle of Kinston Bridge, NC as reported in the Hartford Daily Courant (27 Dec 1862)

The next expedition was the one to Kingston, White Hall, & Goldsboro which doubtless you have heard all about. In the Battle of Kingston December 14th, ¹ the 10th [Regiment] as usual distinguished themselves for which they received the thanks of both their Major and Brigadier General. Also lost some of its bravest and best men. We paid dear for all the praise we received as our decimated ranks proved. We went into action with 340 men and in about twenty minutes lost of that number in killed and wounded one hundred and five. After receiving the fire of the Rebs for a short time, we charged on them and drove them across the bridge which they attempted to burn, but we were too close after them. We took near five hundred prisoners and eleven pieces of cannon. When we advanced to the front to form line of battle, we advanced right over three regiments who were laying in the woods doing nothing. We lost three men killed or who died in a few days. Two of them I think you know — John Hubbard and John Wallace. Wallace was one of our best and bravest men. He had been promoted to corporal but a short time before on this expedition. He was one of the color guards. He was shot while defending those colors. I shall never forget his remark as long as I live when I detailed him to act as color guard. I asked him how he would like to act in that position, says he, anywhere that duty calls me. Some of the boys standing by said Wallace is a bully boy and will see the colors…

[remainder of letter is missing]

¹ On 23 December 1862, Sgt. Nathaniel Monsell of Company H, 10th Connecticut, wrote to his sister describing the Battle at Kingston:

I will now take my pen in hand and communicate to you the news of the day. It is about the hard battle of Dec. 14. Our intentions were to destroy the railroad between Goldsborough and Charleston which we done. But not without some hard fighting, and loss of life. We had a small skirmish, we killed 5 Rebs wounded 4 and took 7 prisoners. The next day when within 3 miles of Kingston we met them in force… We went in front and engaged their center. They was in the open field and we hid in a thick swamp. We came out with charge of the bayonet and drove them from their position… We had to lay down to load and raise up to fire. I fired 32 rounds taking good aim. There was 3 men killed within 4 feet of me, one of them fell on me when he was shot…I will not tell on the particulars of this for we had two more hard fights before we got to our journeys end. One at Whitehall the other at Thompson’s bridge. We whipped them at both places with heavy loss… General Foster gave us a speech and said we be counted with the bravest of the brave here after.

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery