Monthly Archives: August 2014

1862: Mark Henry Ridley to Michael Bennett

How Sgt. Mark Ridley might have looked

How Sgt. Mark Ridley might have looked

This letter was written by Sgt. Mark H. Ridley (1828-1899) of Company C, 10th Michigan Infantry. Mark was born in Beckley, Sussex County, England in 1828. The 33 year-old shoemaker enlisted in the “Orion Union Guard” (later designated Company C) on September 14, 1861, at Orion, Michigan. [Note: the letter is only signed “Mark” but the content suggests it was written by a member of the 10th Michigan Infantry and he is the only one on the roster named “Mark.” His age is also the approximate same age as the Michigan resident to whom the letter is addressed.]

Mark was the son of William Ridley (1795-1881) and Sarah Offen (1799-1869) and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1842. They lived in Ontario County, New York before relocating to Michigan. He was married in 1849 to Olive Lamunyon (or Lemunion). By 1860, the couple were living in Orion and they had four children.

Some boys from the 10th Michigan Volunteers

Some boys from the 10th Michigan Volunteers

Mark served the duration of the war, re-enlisting in 1864 and in June 1865 he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. In 1870 he listed his occupation as a farmer but by 1880 he was a shoemaker again. He was living in Owosso when the 1894 census was taken. He was a Freemason in Owosso’s Lodge 81 at the time of his death. Lieutenant Ridley was at the Soldiers Home in Grand Rapids during parts of his last two years of life. The Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society reported the details of his death on March 1, 1899. He is reported to have died from “a nervous disease.” He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Owosso.

According to the regimental history, the 10th Michigan spent the entire summer of 1862 in “marching, camping, picketing, and similar duties” in the north part of the states of Mississippi and Alabama. “On the first of June it was at Rienzi, Mississippi, and from the 2nd to the 11th at Booneville and vicinity. About June 15 it encamped at Big Springs, six miles from Corinth and remained there five weeks. At this place a Fourth of July celebration was held.”

Mark wrote the letter to Michael Bennett (1830-1905) and his wife Ann Genett (1835-1920) of Gaines, Genesee County, Michigan.

1862 Envelope

1862 Envelope

Addressed to Mr. Michael Bennett, Gaines Station, Genesee County, Michigan
Postmarked Cairo, Illinois

General Hospital, Army of the Mississippi
July 19th 1862

Friend M.,

This morning I received your kind letter. You wrote that you was a little under the weather. You must be careful and not get clear down. My health has been poor since the first of July. I believe I have not done any duty since. Feel better now in all but strength.

Our regiment can not muster over 150 men for duty if they should sink. There is in the hospital between 1500 and 2000 men. From six to eight die every day and find a resting place beneath the irony soil of Mississippi. This forenoon I went into another tent to see one of my company boys. The poor fellow will not last long. He wished me to read some out of the bible which I did. He was much pleased. He got so weak that he could not stand it to read.

Patriotic Engraving on Letterhead

Patriotic Engraving on Letterhead

I am about eight miles from my regiment. I heard yesterday that the 10th and 14th Michigan were ordered to East Tennessee. I hear bad news from Tennessee. It is this — that the 8th and 11th Regiments of Michigan Volunteers have been taken prisoners.

But this kind of work tires me so I will answer your questions and dry up. I hope you do not call 97º hot. What would you think of 104º for weeks and weeks?

I do not have much chance to find J. J. Clark as his regiment is out to Booneville — almost 25 miles from where my regiment is encamped. He may be with his regiment or he may be at the landing or in some northern hospital if still alive.

You ask how I spent the Fourth. I can easily tell. I was stretched on my bunk sick. I amused myself by listening to the salutes of the different batteries. I guess I listened to over 600 shots and heavy ones they were too.

But I must stop writing. Please excuse all mistakes in both writing and spelling.

It is nine months today since I enlisted. How time flies.

Please write soon. Tell Hellen I received her letter and mean to make her wait as long as she did me which is three months. My best respects to all.

This from your friend, — Mark

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1862: Charles H. Palmetier to Isaac Hegeman Palmetier

Sgt. Charles Stewart

Charles Stewart of Co. B, 8th Wisconsin in his grey uniform

This letter was written by 28 year-old Sgt. Charles H. Palmetier (1834-1901), a mechanic from Geneva, Wisconsin. Charles enlisted in Co. K, 8th Wisconsin Infantry in September 1861. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in September 1862 in recognition for his bravery at the Battle of Corinth. He participated with his regiment in the battles at Frederickstown, Farmington, Corinth, Iuka, the siege of Vicksburg, and all other skirmishes of the famed “Eagle Regiment” before being mustered out of the service in September 1865 at Demopolis, Alabama.

In the letter, Charles mentions sending his gray uniform home “for the boys to wear on the farm.” In 1861, the Northern states purchased their own uniforms and Wisconsin selected grey, possibly because it was the color uniforms of the New York militia where Wisconsin purchased the majority of its uniforms. Not until the fall of 1861 did blue become the standard color for Union troops.

Death of "Colonel" Palmetier in Kenosha, WI

Death of “Colonel” Palmetier in Kenosha

Charles was born in Catskill, Green County, New York in December 1834. He came to Geneva, Wisconsin in 1847 and became a lumber dealer. After the war, Charles held various local offices as school director, chairman of the town board, etc. & was a delegate to the National Convention at Chicago in 1880. He was elected a Wisconsin State Senator in 1882 and 1883. Tragically, Charles Palmetier committed suicide in 1901 while residing in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Charles sent the letter to his older brother, Isaac Hegeman Palmetier (1832-1874), a farmer in Walworth County, Wisconsin. They were the sons of Lawrence Palmetier (1802-1891) and Mary Manning (1804-1886) of Walworth County, Wisconsin. Isaac was married to a woman named Carrie (b. 1841).

Charles wrote this letter from Birds Point which was an encampment on an island in Missouri near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers opposite Cairo, Illinois.

The Eagle Regiment marches into Battle

The 8th Wisconsin “Eagle” Regiment Marches into Battle

Addressed to Mr. Isaac Palmetier, Bloomfield, Walworth County, Wisconsin

Birds Point
March 26th 1862

Dear Brother & Sister,

I seat myself to inform you that we still live to move but have no beings we left Mound City morning at eight o’clock but where we didn’t know. But about nine o’clock we arrived at Cairo & there we got orders to go to Birds Point & await further orders. And here we are — all feeling first rate & have got good quarters. I think we will join the regiment in a few days. A part of the 15th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers are here doing guard duty.

The weather is remarkable fine & the mud is about dried up. The Ohio & Mississippi Rivers are both very high & the prospect is that we are going to get drownded out if the keep on rising a few days longer.

No news of any importance from Island No. Ten.

Capt. William Penn Lyon

Capt. William Penn Lyon

When you write, you had better direct [to] Cairo, 8th Regiment as before, in care of Capt. [William Penn] Lyon. We packed our old clothes & sent them by express. I sent three coats, two pairs of pants, one pair of overshoes, & one pair of gloves & one sesesh bridal for you. We either had to throw them away or give them away & we thought we would send them home. I thought they would be good for the boys to wear on the farm. It is against the orders to wear grey uniforms in the field.

I have not had any letters in some time. Our mail all goes to the regiment & then has to be sent back & lately it has been neglected for some reason.

Carrie, you must take good care of my clothes for I think they will come in play when I get home for I do not think the ball is run to kill me. Tell Mrs. Brown that I saw her brother when I was at Island No. Ten. He was there taking notes for the papers.

Write soon & oblige your brother, — Chas. Palmetier

My best respect to all that enquire after my welfare.

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1862-5: Leonard A. Gay to Charles S. Gay

Leonard A. Gay

Leonard A. Gay

These letters were written by Leonard A. Gay (1831-1914) who enlisted in Company E of the 1st New Hampshire Volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War and served for three months. He subsequently enlisted in Company B, 4th New Hampshire Infantry. He was mustered into the service in September 1861 as a sergeant. He re-elisted in February 1864 and was wounded on 30 July 1864 at the Battle of the Crater before Petersburg. Louis Bell, the commander of the 4th New Hampshire Infantry, wrote on the day following the Battle of the Crater that his men “witnessed the explosion of the great mine in front of Petersburg and took part [in] the charge and was among those who were run over by the panic stricken negroes. [W]e used our sabers freely on the cowards but could not stop them and were driven back — pell nell.”

Sgt. Gay was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1864 and finally to Captain in August 1865. His brother, Alonzo Gay (1838-Aft1930), also served with Leonard in the 1st New Hampshire Infantry and the 4th New Hampshire Infantry. Their brother, Charles — to whom most all of these letters were addressed — was a farmer in Nashua, New Hampshire. [Charles, like Leonard and Alonzo, also served in the 1st New Hampshire Infantry.] I believe these three brothers were the sons of Charles S. Gay (1814-1858) who resided in Nashua during the 1830’s and 40’s but relocated to South Point, Missouri prior to his death on 24 April 1858. Since Leonard never mentions his mother, I presume she had died prior to the war like his father, leaving him and his siblings orphaned.

Pvt. Leonard Gay barely escaped capture at Harper's Ferry while serving with the 1st NH Infantry

Pvt. Leonard Gay barely escaped capture at Harper’s Ferry while serving with the 1st NH Infantry

In the 1860 Census, Leonard is enumerated in the household of Nashua mason, Charles W. Morrow (b. 1831) and his wife Eveline M. (b. 1830). Leonard’s occupation is given as “engineer.” Residing with him were his brother Charles Gay (b. 1835), Leonard’s wife, Ann T. Kellogg, and their 5 month old son, Elon Rolando Gay (1860-1944). Despite an infant at home, Ann’s occupation is given as “factory worker.” In the 1880 Census, Leonard is enumerated in Nashua with his wife Ann and 20 year-old son, Elon Rolando Gay. It seems Elon was deaf. In the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord, NH) issue of 3 July 1872, “Elon R. Gay of Nashua” is listed among the 16 males from New Hampshire attending the American Asylum for the “Deaf & Dumb” at Hartford, Connecticut. [Elon married Hannah C. Boothby in 1881.] Leonard’s pension record indicates he died on 14 May 1914 at Hudson, New Hampshire.

The regiment was attached to Casey’s Provisional Brigade, Army of the Potomac, October 1861. Wright’s 3rd Brigade, Sherman’s South Carolina Expeditionary Corps to March 1862. District of Florida, Department of the South, to September 1862. Brannan’s Brigade, District of Beaufort, South Carolina, X Corps, Department of the South, to April 1863. United States Forces, Folly Island, South Carolina, X Corps to June 1863. 1st Brigade, United States Forces, Folly Island, South Carolina, to July 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Morris Island, South Carolina, X Corps, July 1863. 1st Brigade, Morris Island, South Carolina, to January 1864. District of Beaufort, South Carolina, to February 1864. Foster’s Brigade, Dodge’s Division, District of Florida, February 1864. District of Beaufort, South Carolina, to April 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, X Corps, Army of the James, Department of Virginia and North Carolina, to May 1864. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XVIII Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, X Corps, to December 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, XXIV Corps, to March 1865. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, X Corps, Department of North Carolina, to August 1865.

The 4th New Hampshire Infantry mustered out of service August 23, 1865.


Jacksonville, Florida
April 3, 1862

Dear Brother,

Enclosed you will find $75. Fifty from me & twenty-five from Alonzo [Gay]. We are well & having a pleasant time.

Please answer as soon as you receive this & oblige your affectionate brother, — L. A. Gay


Glocester Point, Virginia
April 29th 1862

Brother Charlie,

Again I sit down to let you know that I am well and hope this may find you all enjoying the same blessing. I got over my sickness in good shape but it was my good luck for they all pronounced me damned sick. We are making preparations for a forward movement. Everything is sent to Norfolk. I have sent my trunk to you. You will pay the Express and let me know how much it is and I will send it to you. I couldn’t pay it here as it had to go to Fortress Monroe before there is an Express Agent. You will open the trunk for there is a package for Mrs. Gray. You must write about every week for I don’t expect to get a chance to write very often as we will be on the move all the time.

The 10th and 13th are across the river in Yorktown. I am in hopes to see Joe Carter ¹ in a day or two. You must excuse this poor writing for I don’t have much time to write. I will close. My love to all and a share yourself. In haste.

– L. A. Gay

¹ Joseph Carter, Jr. of Nashua enlisted on 23 July 1862 in the 10th New Hampshire Infantry.


Camp 4th New Hampshire Infantry
Raleigh, North Carolina
May 16th 1864

Brother Charlie,

I have just received yours of May 8th and was much surprised to learn that you had not got my letter that I wrote to you for the clothing as I have been looking for them every day for a week past. I wanted you to get me a sack coat, pants, & vest made. I left my measure with J. B. Chapman & Co. I wanted them made out of their finest cloth. I also wanted you to get the money of Maria to pay for them as I only got one months pay when I got paid off. If you can get the clothing made and send them to me by the first of June, you may send then and if not let me know with out a moment’s delay for I have been so hard up for clothing since I have been in the service as I am now.

The letter that I sent for the clothing I wrote the 22d of April and as I thought sure that I would get the articles that I sent for by this time.

Well, I must close as I am drowned up with my books & papers. Hoping this may find you well, I remain yours. In haste, — Leonard A. Gay


Camp 4th Regt. N. H. Volunteers
Near Chapins Farm, Va.
October 26, 1864

Brother Charlie,

Inclosed you will find $90 for which you will dispose of as follows. Take out what I owe you and take the rest of it to get the following articles — one vest chain, 1 pr. gauntlet gloves, a vest that I spoke to you about in one of my letters, one pair boots (no. 7) and you can send those that I sent home for John Nichols. One razor for shears to cut hair with. Thodse shirts in my trunk you will send also. You will send the box to Col. Louis Bell, 3rd Brigade, 2d Division, 10th Army Corps, via Fortress Monroe, Va.

You will not put any eatables in the box for fear it will spoil. I wish you would send it as soon as you can get the vest made. I have a half of a two dollar bill that I will send you and if it don’t pass you must not blame me.

If there is any more than enough to get the articles, you can give the rest to Ann. If not enough, let me know and I will send it to you. You will put a letter in the box so that the Col. will know who it is for. Put the directions on plain and so it won’t rub off. I have not time to write any more as we are to have a review this afternoon.

Love to all and a share yourself. Yours in haste, — Leonard A. Gay


Camp 4th Regt. N. H. Vols.
Near Wilmington, North Carolina
March 4th 1865

Dear Sister Eve,

I now seat myself to answer your kind letter which I received in due season but am sorry to say in reply that my health is not very good at present but I am on the gain. I was quite sick for about a week. I came near having a fever but he Surgeon broke it up for me.

You spoke about my coming home to vote. I don’t think that you need to look for me again until my time is out unless I get wounded or I am taken sick so as to have to go to the hospital but I hope that I shall be able to escape both wounds & sickness for neither of them are very agreeable. But I must take my chance with the rest. I think I have been very lucky thus far for there is not many that has escaped as well as I have.

I am getting rather ragged. I think I shall have to send home for some clothing before long if we get paid off but there is not much sign of getting paid at present. You said that Charlie was not at home. Did he send those shoes that he got for me? I have never received them! If he has not sent them, I wish he would for Charles Gay writes for them every time he writes to me. By the by, I would like to have Charlie send me as soon as possible a pair of No. 7 heavy calf boots by mail and I will send him the money as soon as we get paid for I can’t get a pair here short of sixteen dollars. I think they can be done up with the ends open so the postage will be less than two dollars. I would like him to send them as soon as you get this letter for the ones that I have is about played out.

They have been a paroling our prisoners ¹ for the past few days. They are a hard looking set. They are ragged and almost starved to death. They must have suffered very much. I never saw such a sight in my life.

I don’t think of anything more to write about — only this letter I have to borrow the stamp to put on it. I would be very happy to have some sent to me for there is none to be had here. Love to Ann & Maria & all the folks. You also will accept the same. Hoping this may find you all well.

I remain your brother, — Leonard A. Gay, 1st Lieut. 4th NH Vols

¹ Lt. Gay is referring to Union prisoners. “After Wilmington fell to Union forces on 22 February and its steamship service to northern ports opened, the city became a magnet for other displaced persons in addition to those Sherman sent from Fayetteville. Union prisoners-of-war arrived from Andersonville, Florence and Salisbury prisons, sent to be exchanged under a newly agreed-upon cartel. General John M. Schofield, commanding the Federal forces in North Carolina, delayed their receipt until 26 February. Over the next week “7,692 enlisted men and 992 commissioned officers” were liberated north of Wilmington; another 1,050 unexpectedly arrived on the west bank of the Cape Fear, opposite the town. Many of the ex-prisoners were weak, sick, or near death. Army officials turned vacant buildings into hospitals and barracks where the former prisoners could recuperate. Seven thousand of these soldiers were well enough to leave the port by the end of March, relieving somewhat a serious food shortage.” [Source: In Sherman’s Wake: Refugees of the March through the Carolinas by John A. McGeachy, North Carolina State University]


Camp 4th New Hampshire
Raleigh, North Carolina
May 25th 1865

Brother Charlie,

As I have received the clothing that I sent for I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know how I liked them. They are just what I wanted and fit well — all but the vest. That is a little full across the breast. I wrote to you not to get them made but I am glad that you sent them now for when I wrote that letter I had sent in my resignation but it was not accepted so I have got to stay a while longer. But I don’t intend to a great while longer for I intend to shove in my papers again in a few days but not until I get a sure thing on going out. Those handkerchiefs are nice ones. I suppose that Ann sent them as I sent to her for them.

This morning was the first time that I have had on my suit and I tell you I come out on inspection a shining. I looked as well as the best of them. But I have been looking damned rough for a spell back. By the bye, Joe Reaver ¹ was here a few days ago to see me. He has been a prisoner since last September. He was at Salisbury, North Carolina while in prison but he is now on his way to join his regiment. He was looking tip top. I have not received any letter yet so I am not able to learn what my clothing cost me but I suppose I shall get a letter from you before you get this.

Well, I don’t think of anything else to write this time and my pen is damned poor so I think I will close, hoping this may find you all well.

I remain yours in haste. — L. A. Gay

P.S. Tell Jim that I am in hopes that I shall be at home before long to settle with him. — Gay

¹ I have not been able to identify a POW by the name of Joe Reaver so perhaps the name is spelled incorrectly. He was probably not a member of the 4th New Hampshire but likely to be from the vicinity of Nashua, New Hampshire.


Camp 4th New Hampshire Vols.
Raleigh, North Carolina
August 5th 1865

Brother Charlie,

I have just received yours of the 30th and as I have nothing else to do I thought I would try and answer it. My health is tip top and I don’t have but a little to do but still I am not contented for I want to get out of the service but I think I shall stay as long as the regiment does which I am in hopes will be this fall but we may not get out until next spring but I won’t mind it much if we don’t if I am content myself, but I am rather homesick now as there is nothing to occupy my time . I would rather stay here until spring than not if I could content myself but there is but little going on here.

There is to be a trot this afternoon between two horses of our regiment — a two mile heat best two in three to saddle. I think it will be a slim affair as one of the horses was taken sick this morning.

I suppose before you get this you will see the boys that has been discharged from my company who is Berry, Montgomery, & another one that you did not know. I was owing [Albert C.] Berry & [Francis W.] Montgomery twenty-five dollars each and I told them that I thought that Jim Wright would cash them for them [and] if he would not, to take them to you. They would discount five dollars on them.

Well how is all the boys in Nashua and how does the returned soldiers behave? I suppose they will be rather ruff until their money is gone. What is Joe Carter doing since he got back? He is the same old Joe. The last time I saw him he had not altered a might from what he was before the war.

I don’t think of anything more to write about this time so I will close wishing you all pleasant dreams.

I remain as ever yours, &c &c. — Leonard A. Gay, 1st Lt., 4th N. H. V.

P. S. My regards to Martha Gay

1863: James Henry Harvey to Charlotte Ann (Loomis) Harvey

How. Pvt. J. H. Harvey might have looked

How. Pvt. J. H. Harvey might have looked

This letter was written by Pvt. James Henry Harvey (1832-1902), the son of James Harvey (1805-1882) and Amanda P. Dunham (1810-1876). James served in Co. A, 22nd Connecticut Infantry. He was married to Charlotte Ann Loomis (1831-1905) in 1857.

The 22nd Connecticut — a 9-month unit — left for Washington, D.C., on October 2, 1862. They served on picket duty at Langley’s, Va., on the Washington and Leesburg Turnpike in the defenses of Washington, D.C., until October 22, 1862. They were at Miner’s Hill until February 12, 1863. They participated on the expedition to intercept Stuart’s Cavalry in late December 1862. They returned to fatigue duty in the defenses of Washington until April 14, 1863 when they moved to Suffolk, Va., April 14-16. Following that, they moved to West Point, York River, Va., in early May and were on duty there until 9 June 1863. They were on reconnaissance to the Chickahominy in June and then left for Yorktown to return to Connecticut in late June 1863.

1863 Envelope

1863 Envelope

Addressed to Mrs. J. H. Harvey, Windsor, Connecticut

Suffolk, Virginia
April 18th 1863

My Dear Wife,

I suppose you have heard before this of our departure from Arlington although I failed to write you. Our departure was so sudden that I had no chance to do so, then not knowing where we were going except by rumor. We left Arlington Wednesday morning April 15th about 7 o’clock, took steamboats at Alexandria, arrived here yesterday morning, April 17th. You will perceive by the map that this place is on the railroad running from Norfolk, Va. to Petersburg, Va. about 23 miles southeast from Norfolk.

There appears to have been & is now great anxiety about the holding of this place. It has been held by our troops for a number of months with a comparatively small force and the rebs took the hint, thought they would surround the place and capture they whole force. They have made a number of attempts at it for a number of days past but have affected nothing. There is said to be 40,000 rebs encamped within two miles of the town. There was a good deal of firing yesterday. The rebs show themselves off once in a while outside of the woods but a few shells thrown over keeps them back to a respectable distance. I hardly think they will make no great demonstrations for the present since the reinforcements began to come in here. There is here now 50,000 troops here & coming in 2 or 3,000 a day. Our whole division came with us here from Arlington and vicinity, 10 or 12,000.

We had a general time of shaking of hands yesterday. There is encamped near no. 21st, 16th, 11th, 15th, 8th Ct. Regiments. Most of the Windsor boys are in these regiments. Doct. [Charles J.] Tennant was here last eve. He is asst. surgeon in the 21st. Horace Harvey I have not seen yet. He is in 21st, Co. D. He will be over here today, I think. The 21st are about a half mile from here. I am on guard today so I can not go to see him. I guess he will come to see me. I sent word to him yesterday. I tell you it seems quite like home to see so many faces that I know.

My health is first rate now. I feel much better than before. I had that touch of ___ those pains that I had seemed to have ceased to trouble me much now so I feel better than before.

I have not received an answer from the letter I wrote soon after my return back to Arlington but I shall get it tonight, i presume. In my last letter to you I said that Jim Loomis was sick with the measles. He was left behind at Arlington, and I presume to say, is in the hospital at Washington before this. The rest of the boys here are generally in good health.

Our circumstances seems to have been changed for the last week — whether for our benefit or not, we know not. A little more than a week ago I was in the arms of my family, now in the face of the enemy in the heart of rebeldom. If we assume the defensive here, I do not imagine we shall see much fighting but if on the other hand we take offensive, we shall see some tough times. But I continue to hope that I shall see you as I have seen you on other occasions, oh what a happy thought. Will I be able to realize this? Yes, I trust I will.

Address Co. A, 22d Reg., Suffolk, Va. Fortress Monroe. Be of good cheer, my darling, for there is better days a coming.

For all that is endearing, I remain yours, — J. H. Harvey

1862: Mary Catherine (Osborn) Williams to Sarah (Cole) Osborn

How Mary Williams might have looked

How Mary Williams might have looked

This letter was written by 27 year-old Mary Catherine (Osborn) Williams (1835-1907), the wife of Basil G. Williams (1822-1868). Mary and Basil were married in November 1850 in Clark County, Indiana.

She wrote the letter to her widowed mother, Sarah (Cole ) Osborn (1791-1874), whose husband John Osborne (1784-1839) died in 1839. Apparently Basil and Mary were residents of Ringgold County, Iowa, before the Civil War, but wrote this letter from Worth County, Missouri, where they eventually relocated.

Since Mary expected other family members to read her letter, she wrote of things she did not consider private. The scraps of paper that were enclosed with the letter, also addressed to her mother, were marked “Private” and for her mother’s eyes only. The private news was to inform her mother that she had experienced several abortions. I assume she meant she had experienced several miscarriages and was not purposely intending to abort her pregnancies. On-line genealogical records do not reveal any children in this family.

Though the letter is undated and there is no envelope, it was probably written late in 1862. We learn from the letter that Mary is being cared for by a woman named Mrs. Jane (Miller) Griffin (1831-1868) — a widow residing in Worth County, Missouri. Jane was married in March 1863 to William Kirkley Cowan (1836-1922) so the letter had to pre-date that event.

In the letter, Mary mentions her brother William Darby Osborn (1810-1895). William was married to Harriet McCash (1817-1885) in 1834. William was a cabinet/wagon maker by trade. He lived in Columbia, Hamilton County, Ohio until relocating in the 1860s to Ripley (and later Union), Montgomery County, Indiana.


[Smith Township, Worth County, Iowa]

Dear Mother,

I do hope this may find you in good health and all the rest of my brothers and sisters. Oh mother, I do want to come and see you so bad and I thought surely I would get to come to see you in this month or at the furthest, in November, though I am sadly disappointed. But dear mother, do not think I do not want to come for indeed, mother, I should of risked my life to of got to see you this fall. And if we both live, I will get to see you soon as there is a good opportunity affords my traveling as I know you are too feeble to come out here and it is my daily prayer that the Lord may spare our life until I see you once more.

Mother, do not think me imprudent in writing you the cause of my illness for it is for your sake that I wrote so plain that you may not worry yourself so much about me and not think hard of my not coming. I did not tell Basil that I wrote you about it so if you have any particulars to write to me, direct the letter as I told you and at the same place as before directed to me.

If brother William could come and see me, it would be so much pleasure for me to have him come and after he came to Ottumwa, he could come to Ringgold City, Ringgold County, Iowa and we live in 4 miles of that place so anyone could tell him where we lived when he got there. I fear there is no such good luck. This war makes hard times and sad hearts every place. There is no one can go from one county to another in this state or Iowa without a pass from some head officer.

Now tell all of my sisters to write to me soon. My love to you and all the rest. So dear mother, when you have all their little children, kiss them for me.

From Mary


My dearest and kindest mother,

As I have found a piece of paper, I will write in it some to you for that is the greatest pleasure I have on this earth. Mother, I do not want you to worry about me for you are quite feeble and you cannot stand trouble and the Lord you know will guard over you. Mother, I do try to live and serve my Lord and Savior more and more every day so I may meet you in heaven if it so I never get to see you on this earth though I cannot give up but that I will get to see you once more on this earth. Oh dear mother, what a pleasure it would be. Mother, I thought perhaps you all would think I had been very sick and for fear you would worry yourself too much, I thought I would let you know what I thought was the cause of my being sick and you could let all the rest know and need not read it aloud to everybody as it was in a letter as everyone of my friends wants to see or hear my letters read when I get any from there, so I thought it would be the same there and I  have never had my dear Mother with me as the rest has so I can write.

I have had some four or five abortions since I came out here and I have been sick for some time and I feel well enough as long as I keep still so the doctor said for me to keep still to prevent my having another. And so that was the cause of my not writing. It was too much worrying for me and I had to lay quiet on the bed. You will know now for yourself how careful I have to be and I have come so nigh dying and one of my eyes has liked to bursted out a time or two, so all my friends has told me so much to keep still [and] I thought I would take their advice. But oh mother, if you was not with me and I felt as though I was alone, but yet not alone. There was one that guarded me safe through.

My love to you, dear mother, and a thousand kisses from you loving daughter, — Mary C. W.

Mrs. Jane Griffin, the lady that is with me, is so kind. If any of you want to write any particulars, direct your letters to her.

I do not suppose there is any hopes of any of us ever getting any of that money from that property in Cincinnati. If any of you send me a letter directed to Jane Griffin, you can seal it and direct it to me so as soon as she opens the letter, she will know it is to me. From Mary.

1862: Joseph Clifford Osborn to Jemima Cole (Osborn) Alden

How Joseph Osborn might have looked

How Joseph Osborn might have looked

This letter was written by Joseph Clifford Osborn (1833-1915), the son of John Osborn (1784-1839) and Sarah (“Sally”) Cole (1791-1874). Joseph enlisted in October 1861 as a private in Co. A, 37th Indiana Infantry. It appears that Joseph was detached from his regiment and serving as a head nurse in the U. S. Army Hospital in Cincinnati, however, by the fall of 1862. Nothing more could be found on his service record. Joseph was married to Ruth Ann Porter (1837-1894) in September 1855. After the war, he and his family moved to Missouri and then to Kansas.

Alden wrote this letter to his sister, Jemima Cole (Osborn) Alden (1822-1878). Jemima was married in 1841 to James Chester [“J. C.”] Alden (1822-1884) of Milan, Ripley County, Indiana.  J. C. enlisted in Company B, 52nd Indiana Infantry in February 1862 and was promoted to First Lieutenant in September 1862. He was further promoted to Full Quarter Master in April 1865 and mustered out of the service in Montgomery, Alabama in September 1865.

In the letter, Joseph mentions receiving a letter from their sister Mary Catherine Osborn (1835-1907). Mary was married to Basil [“Baze”] Williams (1822-1868) in 1850. He also mentions their sister Sarah Jane Osborn (1820-1866) who was married to James Herndon (1827-1920) and residing in Ripley County, Indiana.

Joseph wrote this letter while working as a hospital steward at the West End Military Hospital in Cincinnati. This hospital was opened in a large schoolhouse at the foot of George Street by the U.S. Army in March 1862. A report in 1862 claimed that the West End Military Hospital had three spacious wards, the largest of which was 75×43 and 16 feet high, having windows running to the ceiling on four sides. Each ward was equipped with a a bath-room supplied with hot and cold water; a water closet on the outside of the building, and appropriate washing apparatus. They were “neatly and effectively furnished.” The basement was said to be large and dry and partitioned into store rooms and a “dead room” for the deceased.  Typhoid fever and Typhoid Pneumonia are given as the prevailing diseases in 1862, followed closely by chronic diarrhea. Up to 150 patients were housed in this facility.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Mrs. J. C. Alden, Milan, Indiana
Postmarked Cincinnati, Ohio

West End Military Hospital
Cincinnati [Ohio]
September 26th 1862

Dear sister and friends,

I have been looking for some time to hear from you by letter or person but have been disappointed until I saw Mrs. Secress [Secrest?] yesterday. She told me you were all well and you thought of going to see James as soon as the River was clear. I am in hopes that will soon be for I have wrote to James and Chet but have not received one from them as yet. I think the rebels must soon give up the war as we shall kill all of them soon as they have got up North once more so our forces can surround them.

Embossed Image of McClellan on Envelope

Embossed Image of McClellan on Envelope

I am well as usual at present and think of coming out soon to see you all once more before cold weather. I received a letter from Rut since she left but I did not think she was going to leave so soon when she left here. But as she is gone, perhaps it will be better for you this winter.

We have some of the wounded from Richmond, Kentucky. I had to help take off some of their arms. We also have some sick with typhoid fever.

Times are very dull here at present. We have plenty of soldiers over the river to guard Covington.

I want you and James to write and let me know how things are going on. I have not got my money yet nor my papers from the regiment. I have not time to write much. I had a letter from sister Mary but have not answered it. She says she would come but Basil can’t spare the money this fall. She has been sick so she keeps her bed. I think I will see her [&] Basil before long if nothing happens to me.

Tell sister Jane to write to me as I have but little time to write letters to anyone as they keep me close to work. I have not been out of the hospital but twice since Ruth left here so you see how it is and we soon for some more soon.

Tell Gran ¹ to stay at home for they cannot draft him as his father and brother has both gone to the war.

Most of my nurses have been discharged and gone home so I have to train new ones.

I believe I have told you all the news this time, so nothing more.

Write soon. From your brother and friend till death, — J. C. Osborn

¹ James Granville (“Gran”) Alden (1843-1917) was the second eldest son of James Chester Alden and Jemima Cole Osborn. Granville’s older brother, Samuel Cluster Alden (1842-1908) was a member of Co. B, 5th Ohio Cavalry.

1865: Charles Parker to Clara Dyer

How Charles Parker might have looked

How Charles Parker might have looked

This letter was written by Charles Parker (1847-1903), the son of Moses Parker (1809-18xx) and Olive Wright (1817-1911) of North Baldwin, Cumberland County, Maine. Charles served in Co. I, 31st Maine Infantry from March 1864 until July 1865.

The 31st Maine Infantry left for Washington, D.C. on April 18, 1864 and was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac, in which it remained for the remainder of the war. The 31st commenced active campaigning on May 4, 1864 and took its first battle casualties two days later in the Battle of the Wilderness, where it suffered heavy losses. The regiment fought again at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12, again taking heavy casualties: 12 killed, 75 wounded and 108 missing in action.

The regiment fought in engagements at Totopotomoy Creek on May 31 and June 1. Between the 4th and 12th of June, the regiment was before the Confederate works at Cold Harbor, then crossed the James River and fought in the Battle of Petersburg and then remained there for the remainder of the siege. In the July 30 Battle of the Crater, it was the first regiment into the Confederate works and lost heavily in the failed assault.

The 31st was in support during the Second Battle of the Weldon Railroad, followed by the Battle of Poplar Springs Church on September 30. October 1864 was spent on picket duty and drill where it absorbed the 4th and 6th Companies of Maine Unassigned Infantry as companies L and M. On October 27, it was assigned to Fort Fisher, where they remained until the end of November when it was reassigned as the garrison of Fort Davis. The 31st Maine absorbed the 32nd Maine Regiment on December 12, 1864, adding 15 officers and 470 enlisted men to its ranks. The regiment remained in reserve from February 11, 1865 until the early morning of April 2, when it was chosen to provide the initial storming party of three companies for the assault on Fort Mahone. The regiment suffered heavy losses in the attack.. It participated in the occupation of Petersburg and spent the rest of the campaign gathering up prisoners and escorting them to the rear.

After the war, it appears that Charles returned to North Baldwin, Maine, where he engaged in farming. In October 1886, Charles was admitted into a Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Togus, Kennebec County, Maine. At the time of his admission, he was diagnosed with diseased kidneys. In 1889, he was transferred to an Insane Asylum where he lived out his remaining years. He died in May 1903.

He wrote the letter to Clarinda (“Clara”) Claudis Dyer (1845-1865), the daughter of Asa M. Dyer (1805-1868) and Sarah H. Anderson (1806-1885) of North Baldwin, Maine. Clara died on 31 August 1865.

1865 Letter

1865 Letter

Addressed to Clara Dyer, North Baldwin, Maine

Camp near Parker Station, Virginia
March the 4th 1865

Friend Clara,

I having a few moments to spare I thought I could not better devote them than in writing a few lines to you.

Soldiers of the 31st Maine greeted by ladies (1864)

Soldiers of the 31st Maine greeted by ladies (1864)

I am in good health and hope these few lines will find you the same.

I ought to make some apology for not writing to you before as I agreed to before I came away but I hope you will excuse me as I hate so much to take up my attention. How does the time pass away with you? To me it seems but a day or two since I left home.

[Your sister] Emma ¹ wrote to me some time ago stating that you had wrote to me but by some mishaps I have not got it.

Our regiment was paid last Wednesday and the saloon is so full that I could not get near it or I would have had an ambrotype taken to send you.

Is there anything going on in Baldwin now. If there is not, I should think it would be rather dull times there.

It is getting late and I guess I have wrote as much as you can find out and will close by bidding you good night. I hope to hear from you soon.

From a true and loving schoolmate. — Charles Parker

¹ Emma Parker (1847-174) was married to D. E. Cottle in 1869. He was the principal of the Le Moyne Normal and Commercial School in Memphis at the time of their deaths in 1864 when they were struck down by “the late appalling pestilence” (Yellow Fever) in the city.

1863: Osborn Dyer to Sarah J. Dyer

How Osborne Dyer might have looked

How Osborne Dyer might have looked

This letter was written by Pvt. Osborn[e] Dyer (1837-1865), the son of Asa M. Dyer (1805-1868) and Sarah H. Anderson (1806-1885). Osborn enlisted in Co. K, 25th Maine Infantry for nine months service (29 September 1862 to 10 July 1863). The 25th Maine was used exclusively in the defenses of Washington D. C. They camped on Arlington Heights and guarded the Long Bridge on both sides of the Potomac River and occasionally assisted in the construction of forts. On the 24th of March they moved to Chantilly, Virginia, and remained on picket duty there until they were mustered out of the service.

Osborne was later drafted into Co. D, 9th Maine Infantry and served from 19 September 1864 until 15 June 1865.

His siblings were Hannah M. Dyer (1835-1928), Sarah J. Dyer (1840-1902) and Clarinda Claudis Dyer (1845-1865). Osborn died on 2 August 1865 at Baldwin, Maine. I notice that his sister Clarinda died on 31 August 1865.

1863 Letter

1863 Letter

Addressed to Miss Sarah J. Dyer, N. Baldwin, Maine

Camp Tom Casey
January 17th 1863

Dear Sister,

I now take my pen to answer your letter which I received the 15th. I am well and hope the same with you all. You ask me how long we should guard Long Bridge. I do not know how long we shall. There is two things we shall do — either guard Long Bridge or go to work on a fort. They have been laying  out the ground today. Today the Regiment went to the city to a funeral. It was a Lieutenant-Colonel that was shot by a cannon ball. His horse was there and followed as a mourner.

The health of the regiment is better than it was. There has been several cases of the smallpox but it is all over now.

Drawing by Osborn Dyer

Drawing by Osborn Dyer

George [N.] Gurney is quite sick with a fever. The rest of the boys all well as usual. Clary, you said that you was going to tell me some more. I saw Flavilla’s ¹ marriage in a paper. She married into royalty (now applause). What kind of a_____ did they have when they serenade Daniel? Did they eat all of their _____ apples up? I received your box of candy and was glad of it for I had ____ and it went well. It was bitter as Satan. You tell marn that her letter was short and sweet. You tell Hannah & Sarah to write to me when they get time. Clarry, you must look out for that nose and not let it cause you any trouble. Clary, you said that you was 18 years old. It don’t seem that you was so old. I wish that I had something to send to you but I have nothing.

Half of my time is about expired and if nothing happens, you will see it getting late and I must draw to a close. So no more at the present.

From your brother, — Osborn Dyer

¹ Flavilla E. Sanborn married Nathaniel P. Allen, U. S. Navy, on 27 December 1862 in Portland, Cumberland, Maine. The marriage took place one day after Nathaniel received his appointment as “Mate” in the Navy. The appointment was revoked four months later. Flavilla was the daughter of Asa and Abigail (Brown) Sanborn, who were born at Standish, Maine, and Baldwin, Maine, respectively.

1864 Letter

1864 Letter

Addressed to Miss Sarah J. Dyer, North Baldwin, Maine
Postmarked Old Point Comfort, Va.

December 11th 1864

Dear Sister,

I now take my pen to answer your letter which came to me the 10th. I was glad to hear from home & hear that you was all well. I am well and hearty. I am sorry that there is more military men in town. I guess that you girls will have to come. They are all condemned yankees.

We are having a kind of a hard time at present. They are fighting on the right and left of our line. We have to stand to the breastworks  about all of the time but they dare not come up to us. If they do, they will get a hearty welcome.

There is some snow. I guess a inch. It makes it rather nasty but if the sun should shine, it would soon leave.

Our company went out after wood but to our surprise we was ordered in to camp double quick to form as quick as possible. We thought that the Johnnies was close on to us but it was not so. It was to reduce our drum major to the ranks. They took off his stripes in front of the whole regiment.

Sam P. is on picket. He is not very ernest to fight. N. W. is gone to deep bottom. I received them mittens. They was just the thing. I want you to send me good wax thread and a sewing ___. You can send it in paper. You tell Pa to look out and get a pig. There is money in the desk already. Don’t be s___ of it for little pigs make pork & money pays well in stock. You must ___ old Pomp & keep him tame.

If we stay here, we shall lose all of our men for there was three leave most every day. They think that Rebs will send home but they find that their promise is ____ different for they put them into the ranks.

Our Colonel is acting Brigadier. It makes it better for us. I think he will be promoted. We have got a first rate officer in our company. Our Captain’s name is [Benjamin J.] Hill. He can talk & play with his men & don’t feel himself afoul his men.

I have not much to write. You must write who is drafted the last time for it our study who will come. I will bid you goodbye.

From your brother, — Osborn Dyer

1863-5: Joseph Francis Philp to Joseph Philp

How Cpl. Phelp might have looked

How Joseph might have looked

These ten letters were written by Cpl. Joseph Francis Philp of Company B [later C], 161st New York Infantry. The regiment was organized in the fall of 1862 and transported to Louisiana where they participated in the siege and attack on Port Hudson, at the battle at Donaldson, Louisiana, and on the unsuccessful Sabine Pass expedition to Texas. It then participated on Banks’ Red River campaign in the spring of 1864 before being stationed at Columbus, Kentucky. He was mustered out of the service at Fort Jefferson in Florida in September 1865.

Joseph Francis Philp (1843-1920 was born in Crediton, Devon, England, the son of Joseph Philp (1793-1872) and Ellen Ann Hutchinson (1816-1884) who emigrated to the United States in the mid 1840s. In 1867, Joseph (Jr.) married Sophronia Abigail Knapp (1843-1916) in Reading, Schuyler County, New York.

1863 Letter

1863 Letter

Addressed to Mr. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York
(Postmarked New Orleans & mailed with a five cent CSA Stamp)

Algiers, Louisiana
Monday, September 14th 1863

Dear Father & Mother,

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I sit down to answer your kind letter of August 30th which came to hand today. I was glad to find you all well & I hope these few lines will find you the same. I am well as usual & in the best of spirits. D. W. C. [David W. Chapman] is the same. He is now writing home. I think we have good times together talking of olden times now past & gone forever, perhaps never to return, but we hope for the best.

I heard today that three of our boys died since we left Baton Rouge. I will give you the names for you might know some of them. Edward Matson ¹ — I do not know exactly where he is from. Edmond [Edgar W.] Ballard ² — that fellow that married Kate Perrigo of Havana. Also Savallen A. Whitehead ³ of Altay — a young fellow. His brother Freeman died a few days before we left there. There is two brothers gone to eternity, never to return; both sinners, but the first had time to repent, the latter was taken so sudden he was a sinner, I am sorry to say.

You thought I had of forgotten you but it was not through the cause that I could not send a letter just when I saw fit. I had to wait for the mail to take it. Do not neglect writing for not knowing where I am for they will come to us wherever we are. I wish I could come back to spend the winter with you & cut your wood but it is impossible to think of, There is no such good luck for the 161st [New York Infantry] — especially Co. B — but there is some lucky ones so far. It is better born lucky than rich as you have told me in times gone by forever.

I am very thankful for the things you sent me. You need not of sent me the shirts for I can get more than I can carry. I had rather of Father to of had them. They would of done him good this next winter but I will make it all up many times if God spares me to come home.

I am glad that Mr. Clark is so kind to you. If you get in need of anything, you know where to go & it will not seem so hard to you if you do not have hard times to have a safe to call on in time of need. Do not be afraid. I will do all I can. You told me not to send you any money when I wanted it myself. Do not be alarmed. I always take care of myself, then you. I look a little the farthest for you for I can do without it & you can’t so I will endeavor to send you $2.00 for this time. We got our pay today — four month’s pay. I got $12.00 & an allotment of $40.00. Please keep count of all I send to you [and] also what I send to Clark & Jackson. I do not know as you can of the latter so you need not. I send in a letter to them today a check of $20.00 of my last pay at Donaldsonville so you see I ain’t spending all my pay. If I do most all I guess I send as much as anyone of that section & have money every pay day. Today I had nearly $3.00 dollars left while many were out & had been for a month. I do more with one dollar than some do with five. One thing is I do not use tobacco & drink. I use my money when I feel as if I needed something in the way of eatables. D. C. & I have money to lend and a plenty to spare, but do not intend to get out of. We are brothers & to remain so we do for each other & help each other when we can enjoy ourselves first rate. Old age & hardships will bring many to failure.

I am sorry to hear that William Brien is so near death by consumption. I am feared in my next letter I will hear of his death. We are all subject to death. Perhaps in the next letter you will hear of my being near death, but thanks to yourselves, it is God’s will must be done & think we will meet again in a few days so trust in God. Your advice is good. I see by recollecting what my Ma used to tell me when I were a boy if you call me a man now. She used to tell me look to God. It will come good to you when you come to die. I do not know if I am doing right in saying what I am, so goodbye.

Give my love to all the girls & old folks & remember me to all. Please write soon & often so good bye. From your son, — Joseph F. Philp

¹ Regimental records indicate that Edward Matson (1844-1863) was discharged for disability on 29 August 1863 at Baton Rouge, prematurely ending his three years commitment to service in Co. B, 161st New York Infantry. A different record indicates he died on 6 September 1863 at Baton Rouge. Pvt. Matson was from Catlin, Chemung County, New York, the son of Dennis and Mary Matson.

² Edgar N. Ballard (1837-1863) enlisted at Reading to serve three years in Company B, 161st New York Infantry. He died on 4 September 1863 at Baton Rouge. An affidavit in Edgar’s pension file signed by Charles B. Kress of Company B attests to the death of Ballard at Camp Convalescent at Academy Hall Hospital in Baton Rouge on 6 September 1863 from what the attending physician pronounced as heart disease. He further stated that he saw Ballard’s body placed in a coffin and knew him to be married to Catharine Ballard.

³ Savallen A. Whitehead (1844-18xx) enlisted to serve three years in Co. B, 161st New York Infantry. Regimental records do not indicate that he died at Baton Rouge; rather, they indicate he was discharged for disability on 24 August 1863 and that he survived the war. His older brother, Freeman Frazier Whitehead (1844-1874), was discharged for disability on 17 August 1863 at Baton Rouge.


Addressed to Mrs. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York

Camp Harrower, Franklin, LA.
Sabbath, February 28, 1864

Dear Parents,

It is with pleasure that I endeavor to say a few words in answer to your most welcome letter of January 24th. I found by its contents that you were well as usual. It found me the same. I am well as usual and enjoying myself first rate. You will be surprised to hear that we are again under marching orders, again to make our way up through to Red River. I do not know how soon we will leave this place but I presume in less than ten days as we are ordered to pack our knapsacks so that they can be sent back to Brashear City or New Orleans. I think they have given us a short rest but it is time if we should have this rebellious war brought to a close, the sooner the better for both sides.

They commonly begin to work here the 10th March or thereabouts. It is a good deal like summer here — only very cool nights [and] very foggy, making it rather damp to stay out. But you know a soldier must be able to endure almost anything or go in the hospital and of course that is not a very desirable place. But we are all subject to going there. Still we must submit if necessary. You know I have seen many go there and many that have been there have never returned to the camp, and I have been spared thus far. I have seen a good part of my time pass away and if it be God’s will, I will see it all pass by. It is but 18 months yet to stay. It will soon pass if I can but have my health. Every day is one less to spend — not only in this war, but in our lives. Every hour is one less.

All of the boys are well as common, I believe. Our camp have increased since we got back here. We have now with us 42 men — all good for duty. Some days one or two get excused from duty but that is nothing. It does not stop the progress of the days work. Even if death takes a comrade, it is not noticed in our duty. It is one thing over and over. The first thing reveille in morning, then have roll all, next is Dr. call, next you will hear the cups & plates rattle getting their morning meal. Next it will be guard mounting. Perhaps it will be on parade ground. Next will be camp drill from 9 until 11. Next will be cups & plates for dinner. Next will be fall in for battalion drill, perhaps drilled by Col. or Major from 2 until 4. Next will be dress parade. Come out in the nicest you have got — brasses all scoured up — buttons like gold. Next will be tattoo at 8, calling roll which composes the exercises of the day. We have every Saturday afternoon for washing. Sabbath is only an inspection of guns, camps &c. which takes perhaps an hour. Our guard duty is light — only have to go on about every 6 or 8 days. I would not of written to you today but I thought perhaps you would leave before I could get another chance. Direct your letters as usual until further ordered from me. Do not go by anyone else for a good many has different ways. I must close for the present hoping to hear from you soon and often. Give my love to all enquiring friends.

From your son, — J. F. Philp



Addressed to Mr. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York

Camp Harrower
Franklin, La.
Monday, March 14th 1864

Dear Parents,

It is with pleasure that I endeavor to reply to your most welcome letter of February 21st which came to hand a few days since. I was glad to find by its contents that you were well as normal. It found me the same.

I am well as usual and enjoying myself first-rate. I told you in my last letter of the 7th that I expected we would be on a march again in a short time. You will see by this that we are still here but we expect to leave tomorrow. We are to be ready at a minute’s notice after reveille tomorrow morning with two days rations in haversacks. The cavalry went out this morning (as the niggars say — a real host of ’em). the report is that they captured 480 prisoners but I do not believe it. It is too good news to be true.

The weather is beautiful. The nights are rather cool with heavy fogs making it very unhealthy.

Dear parents, do not be disheartened if you do not hear from me in a good while for I expect all communications will be cut off in a few days. I will endeavor to write once a week whether it goes directly or not. I wish you to do the same.

In your letter you said you sent me a lot od writing paper & envelopes — also a couple of papers. I did not get either of them. Also 4 postage stamps. They were not to be found. The paper may come after a spell but I doubt it. We must expect to have some things lose the way by evil hands. I would advise you not to send me anymore writing paper for I can generally get it here but do not neglect sending some postage stamps whenever I send for such. If you will, I would like to have you send some at times for I may need them by the time I get them.

We have not got paid off in a good while so I could not send you any but will as soon as it is possible. There is four months pay due us by the time it is paid. I do not complain as far as I am concerned — only for you. I can get along without money for a good while but it is not a great many that say thus. One thing I do not use — tobacco nor intoxicating drink. Therefore, all I spend is in useful things to support the family. What I mean by family is I supply them in writing paper. Do not take me that I have a family in this southern clime. I do not intend to have one as long as a soldier I am. When I am clear from military discipline, then I can talk with some of the young gals either north or south. I do not intend to say I will get a wife north, but I will say it may be here in this state that I find a suitor. You know a person should not be bound to his own state  for a lover. There is too much deceit afloat.

We have a great deal of sport here about the gals all wanting to get married so bad. I feel sorry for them — poor creatures. They all should be united to someone if it is to the lowest of the low for the war will take a good many of the poor soldiers lives. So I would advise them if they get married to marry a man that is exempt for he may have to go & leave their honeymoon and perhaps will lose his life. I would — if I were a gal — wait until after this cruel war is over. I could have a better choice though. I do not know. These soldiers are a hard lot of men but there is exceptions, I hope, in this as well as anything else.

D. W. Chapman is not very well but intends to start on the march but he will not go farther than New ____. There he will be brought back to this place, thence to convalescent camp to remain for we know not how long. Perhaps he will get a furlough to go home. He has been sick so long. He is very poor. He is not able to walk a mile. All the way he can get from here is in the ambulance. I hope he will be taken to New Orleans where he can be taken care of. I hope I never may be sick.

You will think it strange if I tell you I am writing this by the light of the fire only because the bugle has blown for us to put out lights. I must put this in the office tonight for the orders have just come to start at 7 in the morning. So this will be the last letter I will write in this place. I must close hoping to hear from you soon and often. Give my love to all enquiring friends. Give my love to Mr. & Mrs. Dillistin. So goodbye.

From your affectionate son, — J. F. Philp

To Parents, Joseph & E. A. W. Philp

P. S. Give my kindred love to Maria.


Addressed to Mr. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York

Camp 161st New York Volunteers
White River Landing, Arkansas
August 5th 1864

Dear Parents,

As we (161st [New York Infantry]) are about to leave here for a different part of the Mississippi, I thought I could but sit down & let you know that I am well as usual and enjoying myself first rate considering the warmth of the weather. Perhaps you will think it warm when you can put matches out in the sun & they will catch fire with the warmth of the sun. Why it is enough to melt a person right down. It affects everyone this summer. I know it does me for one. It never troubled me as it does this summer but I can work it through if it does not get any warmer & I have my health. The prickly heat bothers me now but not so as to make me sick.

The Altay boys are all well as common. I am glad we are agoing to leave here but I do not like the idea of going down the river. The gen[eral] opinion is that we are agoing to Morganza [Louisiana] to build an arsenal. I can hardly believe it. They only will tell a soldier. Of course our General knows our destination.

The 6th Michigan has got back from up White River. Some say we (161st) are agoing to join the 19th Army Corps on the Potomac. I do not believe it. They cannot spare us from here. They have got about all of the forces along the river now down there & at Mobile. There is but a few troops along this river to what there should be. It is stated Gen. Dick Taylor (C. S. A.) is threatening Morganza now. I guess it is a good deal like all other rumors we hear false.

I have had to write this in a great hurry but you will excuse haste. We expect to leave in about 30 minutes. As we are encamped by the side of a cotton field, I will endeavor to send you a blossom which resembles a hollyhock somewhat others red. The stalk grows about five feet high. ¹

Give my love to all enquiring friends. So goodbye. From your son.

— F. J. Philp

P. S. Address your letters to Vicksburg as before ________ for we know not how we are a going. — Frank

The General Store in Altay, Schuyler County, New York

The General Store in Altay, Schuyler County, New York

¹ “The cotton plant belongs to the family known as the mallows. It is related to the hollyhock and the cotton blossom bears a close resemblance to that of the hollyhocks. The technical name for cotton is gossypium.” [Source: The Cotton Industry of the United States, by Allen Douglas Cook, 1920]

1864 Envelope

1864 Letter

Addressed to Mr. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York

Camp of 161st New York Vols.
Columbus, Kentucky
Tuesday, November 2, 1864

Dear Parents,

Again I seat myself to say a few words to you. I am well as usual & enjoying myself first rate considering the duty we have to do. Since coming here, it is every other day with the privates & every third & fourth day with the non-commissioned officers. I do not know how long we will remain here but I presume all winter as there is plenty of duty to do. All the white troops there is here is our regiment & one small battery & there is one colored regiment.

We left Paducah on the 25th for this place. The rest of our brigade is there or was by last account. I am in hopes we will stay here all winter as it is getting cool weather. It is time if we are to go into winter quarters this winter. We got all fixed up at Paducah but it was of no use. We have got fixed up here with our fireplaces & stoves — those that have any ambition at all. A little fire comes good these cool nights. It will be cooler to us this winter than it was last as we are a good deal farther north, but it will be healthier for us than it was. The weather does not go by fits & starts.

We will be apt to get letters a good deal sooner. It has been a good while since I last got a letter from you. Your last letter was dated September 18th. I got it October 13th — almost a month. Should it take so long? I should think not.

Capt. [William H.] Clark got back here on the 30 of last month. He looked first rate. He is well. So are all the Altay boys that are here. The new recruits has not got here as yet. There is one squad at Memphis of 80 men, I believe. I do not know whether the Altay boys are there or not. I heard David Chapman ¹ was at Columbus, Ohio, on the way to the regiment. He was taken sick there I heard by a fellow that was with David on his way to regiment. He got here a few days ago.

Dear parents, I have almost come to the conclusion to stop writing to everyone but you as one is jealous over another. I have not written to anyone with any idea of marriage. It was done with friendship merely because it was a request of them once in awhile. It is not such an awful thing to get a letter from a young lady. They tell you nothing but what you know already or some slander of some near neighbor. Any young lady desiring to write to me must think on this before writing to me. I have no idea of getting a woman in less than ten years & perhaps twenty. ² It will not happen until I have a home to go to & live in happiness. As you say, without money, love is nothing. I believe it to be true.

In being a soldier I have learned the disposition of many. I have learned a great deal that it would take thousands to deprive it of me to take it from. I see I must close as time draws near. Hoping to hear from you soon & often. From your son, — Corp. Joseph F. Philp

P.S. Address your letters to Cairo, Illinois. Give my love to all enquiring friends. Adieu. — Joseph

¹ David W. Chapman enlisted at the age of 21 on 15 August 1862 at Elmira, NY, to serve three years. He was mustered in as private on 9 September 1862. He mustered out with Company B on 20 September 1865 at Fort Jefferson, Florida.

² Joseph was married three years later to Sophronia Abigail Knapp (1843-1916) in Reading, Schuyler County, New York.

1864 Letter

1864 Letter

Addressed to Mr. Joseph Philp, Altay, Schuyler County, New York

Camp of 161st New York Vols.
Columbus, Kentucky
Wednesday, November 9, 1864

Dear Parents,

A map

A rough plan of town & fortifications of Columbus KY drawn on 10 November 1864

Again I seat myself to say a few words to you in answer to your most welcome letters of October 2nd & 9th which came to hand a few days since. I was glad to find by them that you were both & all well as the times will admit. I did not know the reason of not getting a letter from you in so long a time but as it seems they were stopped at White River [Landing] where part of our regiment is waiting for us to come back. One of our company got transportation to Cairo to join his regiment & so he brought all of the mail along for the regiment. By him I learn that David C. is there. He will be here in a few days with the rest of the boys. We left 12 there so you may now our company is rather small — only 17 privates, six corporals, three sergeants, including orderly. The major [Charles Strawn] of the regiment has gone after the boys [and] also the new recruits which are at Memphis, Tennessee. Also one squad at Vickburg, Mississipp. When we get all of these, our duty will not be as hard as it is now.

Parents of Cpl. Philp

Parents of Cpl. Philp

Dear parents, do not let it trouble you about our coming to Elmira [New York] to provost guard duty. It will never be until we are there to get mustered out of service. I would not wish to come there either as we have a good name now. I would wish to keep it. If we were to go there, the boys would steal everything, do everything that would condemn them. I would be ashamed to see any of them doing as they done at Paducah ¹ — even go into a man’s barn & take the floor right out, go into a man’s dooryard & kill poultry & take it off as if though it was in a rebel state. But we know this state [Kentucky] never did turn against the Union. Then should such absurd actions be allowed? Even one young man went so far as to tell a respectable woman to kiss his —–. Is this not harmful for ____ man?

The boys are all well as common. I am well as common & enjoying myself first rate. I am tough, tough, & rugged & more so than when I enlisted. Perhaps you will think it strange but it is true. I only weight 160 pounds [and] look about the same as ever.

You done just right in substituting one dollar for me. I would send you the money now but it has been some time since we have had our pay. Money is getting short with me. Only one dollar left. The talk is that we will get our pay in a few days. I hope we will as I want some things here. The scurvy has left me, I believe. Onions is what done it. I see I must close.

Hoping to hear from you soon & often. From your son, — Joseph F. Philp

¹ I believe this is a reference to the reported atrocities carried out under the command of Brig. Gen. Eleazer Arthur Paine (1815-1882) in the District of Western Kentucky headquartered at Paducah in 1864. A newspaper account at the time claimed that General Paine had swindled the people in the vicinity of Paducah out of $150,000 and that at the time he was relieved of command, it took eight army wagons to haul away “his private effects, besides six large boxes shipped by steamboat.” Major Bartling, the Provost Marshal was also implicated in the charges. In committee of inquiry found the charges against Paine to be sufficient to warrant a formal reprimand for brutality towards citizens and violating their civil rights.



Camp of 161st New York Vols.
Memphis, Tennessee
Friday, December 2nd 1864

Dear Parents,

Again I seat myself to say a few words to you. I am well as usual & in the best of spirits & I hope this will find you the same. You will see by this that we have again moved southward. I am not sorry as I know s of for it is a good deal warmer here than at Columbus [Kentucky]. But the worst of it was that we had to leave our good quarters & again rebuild.

We got here on the 30th & now all — or nearly all — have good tents as we all went to the different saw mills & purchased to suit our taste for a house paying $40.00 dollars per thousand. It is poor stuff at that. It is the opinion that we stay here for some time now. If not here, at Columbus. I do hope we will stay here now as we have got all fixed up again.

There is quite a good many troops here but they are all under marching orders to be ready to leave after the 4th of this month — I believe to go to Nashville, Tennessee to reinforce Gen. Thomas. I hope our luck has changed after so long a time.

The boys are all in good spirits. The weather is very warm considering the time of year. Time goes fast & I am glad to see it thus.

We got pay again. I expressed $50.00 to Clark & Jackson yesterday. $40.00 to be credited to me & $10.00 I make a present to you in time of need. Do as you see fit with it. I got $76.00 but as I have to buy a considerable of articles to eat &c. &c. I saved $26.00 for it may be a good while before pay day again. If you want any money, please send to me at any time. If I have it, I will send it to you. If not, I will send you an order on Clark & Jackson. I close for this time.

From your son, — Jos. F. Philp

P. S. I told Marin to tell you that I was now a private as I was reduced on the 20th by an order issued by Com. Gen. of Department. Capt. Clark told me I would be put back as soon as he could put me back. I would not of been reduced only he had to reduce two of us. So good night. — Joseph


Camp of 161st New York Vols. Infantry
White River Landing, Arkansas
Friday, December 23rd 1864

Dear Parents,

Another week has passed since last I wrote to you. I am now well as usual & in the best of spirits considering that I have the rheumatism a considerable in one of my legs. It is not serious. I am always ready for duty. I have got over the cold I had when I last wrote. The boys are all well as common. D. C. is well & in good spirits.

You will see that we are in the same old regiment as we are all on the move continually. I do not know how long we will remain here but I should think not long. We brought our lumber along with us from Memphis so we had a better chance to get up tents again. We went into an old camp that had of been left by some other regiment so it was not so bad as it might be. I had lumber enough to build a house to suit myself so I did so — I and my tent mate — as two in a tent is enough to be comfortable. We have got a nice little fire place as usual. I have got so that I do not care how long they stay in a place. I am ready to go any minute. It is tough but fair. It will not last always I hope on my part or anyone else’s either, as we have but a few more months at most. Three years is long enough for me at one time. Let some one else try it.

The war looks better to me now than it has before in regard to coming to a close. I do not think it will close in less than one year but I hope it will come sooner. I would like to see it close while I am a soldier. Time will tell the story how soon it closes.

The weather is rather cool. We have had a considerable rainy weather fork six or eight days back. Nothing I hate to see worse than a cold rain — especially when on the move. There was rain all the time while on the move from Memphis. I could not dislike anything worse. We left there last Monday. We were three days on the boat [with] little or no shelter to lay our feeble bones to rest unless to get wet. Well it done me good to get wet as I got better right off in one sense & in another it was worse as my cold settled in one of my legs.

I am still a private. I do not know how long I will remain thus — perhaps some time. It does not hurt me to be a private. I have always been one. I was not reduced through disgrace. In my last letter to you I sent you $1.00 to pay for the flag. I got two Havana Journals from you tonight but no letter. It has been some time since last I got a letter from you. I see I must close as it is getting late in ___. Give my love to all.

From your son, — Joseph F. Philp

P. S. Good news come to us yesterday of the capture of Hood’s Army by Thomas. The capture as I heard was 23,000 men, 100 pieces of cannon, 140,000 stands of arms, 200 wagons, 1200 horses & the complete route of the army. There was a salute fired of 30 guns here yesterday at noon. Bully for Thomas. The news Sherman got Savannah. Bully for him.

1865 Letter

1865 Letter


Camp of 161st New York Volunteers
Apalachicola, Florida
Sabbath Eve, July 23d 1865

Dear Parents,

Again I seat myself to say a few words to you hoping to hear from you soon and of hearing that you are well.  I am well as usual and in the best of spirits considering the heat of he climate for it is most awful warm. The boys are in pretty good health — a good deal better than when we first came here. A good many of them have been sent to New Orleans. There is but 30 men in the hospital at present. I do not know when there is any more agoing. The Dr. sends them off as fast as he can get them away. The Col. commanding here does not like to send them off for some reason or other or else they would go as fast as they become sick.

Time goes on and still we remain in this southern climate. I do not know how long we will remain here. Nothing looks like our going to our homes much before our times expire but it will not be long at longest. Still we are all anxious to leave.

We have not heard from David Ellison as yet so we do not know whether he has left New Orleans or not yet but we all think he is home by this time. David C. is well as common. I have had a boil on my arm for a few days back or I would of written to you ‘ere this time.

The wharves are covered with cotton

“The wharves are covered with cotton..and everything looks like peace once more.”

Everything is going on nice in this place. The wharfs are covered with cotton, the old store houses a being filled up with goods of various kinds, the stores are open that have been closed for the past four years, the citizens are coming in on every boat & there is four boats going up & down the river everyday fetching in peaches, apples, & melons, green corn &c. &c. &c. &c. and everything looks like peace once more. Everywhere the yanks goes, there comes peace and good will towards men. The soldiers are thought a considerable of here by a good many and not so much by some as there is always some that still hold fast to their evil wars but they will come to it in course of time.

Well, I do not know what I can say to you that would interest you. Everyday is the same old thing (for soldiers) so I will close for this time.

From your affectionate son, — Joseph F. Philp

1865 Letter

1865 Letter


Fort Jefferson, Florida
August 14, 1865

Dear Parents,

Again I seat myself to say a few words to you hoping to find you well and in the best of spirits looking forward to the time of my being home once more to enjoy your company.

Well I am looking forward to that time to come as it has been almost three long years since last you saw me. I have been a soldier three kong years the 10th of this month. I should by rights be out of the service by this time but no, it is not thus and it does not look as if though we would be out much before our time is out as a regiment (27th October next). There is no signs of the one-year men going home before the old men. They do take on like a wet rag. It is useful to be kept over their time. Some say they will not do duty after their time is out and as old soldiers do not say a word but be content [and] let what will come, and they to keep finding fault all of the time. Come for money, and you will dislike to be a soldier. A man that comes for nothing, he is constant. So goes the world.

Confederate Prisoners being marched out of Fort Jefferson

Confederate Prisoners being marched out of Fort Jefferson

The other regiment (110th New York) has not left here as yet nor do they know when they will go. Perhaps we will go as soon as they? We should by rights.

The boys are all well as common and in the best of spirits considering all in all & it is a good healthy place here. We get fresh beef three times in ten days and that is more than we have been in the habit of getting unless we were on the march. Then we got it all the time.

The prisoners like our regiment first rate. They treat a prisoners as he should — not as a lot of hogs — because they stumbled on their way and fell on this island. I do not believe in misusing a person because he is under your hands because you have power to do as you see fit.

I do not know what to say to you but would interest you so I will close for today. Give my love to all enquiring friends. So goodbye for today. From your son, — Joseph F. Philp

Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas

Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas

1863-5: Dexter Jewett Letters

How Dexter Jewett might have looked

How Dexter might have looked

These five letters were written during the American Civil War by members of the Jewett family of Chelsea, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Four of the letters were written by Dexter Jewett (1846-1913): one was written to his brother George Oliver Jewett (1837-1929), one was written to his father, Oliver Jewett (1805-1873), and the other two were written to his mother, Elizabeth Underwood Hubbard (1809-18xx). The fifth letter was written to Dexter by his mother.

Dexter first served in the Massachusetts Militia from early May to early August 1864 and was garrisoned in the coastal defenses at Clark’s Point near New Bedford. Dexter later joined Company G, 13th Maine (in September 1864) and transferred to Company H, 30th Maine in January 1865, mustering out in June. The Jewett’s resided in the rear of 124 Pearl Street in Chelsea.

Dexter’s older brother George was a sergeant in Company D, 17th Massachusetts, and later transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps in February 1864 before mustering out in May 1865.

Dexter’s other brother, William Mellow Jewett (1842-1910) also served in the Union army during the civil war. He was a member of Company H, 1st Massachusetts, at the outbreak of the war and later re-enlisted in the 42nd Massachusetts.


Chelsea [Massachusetts]
January 7, 1863

Dear brother [George],

I have received your kind letter and I was pleased to receive it. Mother making a box to send to you and I thought I would drop a few lines to you.

We had a letter from William last week and he said that he did not know where they were (but the letter was dated Port Royal). except that they were on the ocean.

They have had quite a fight at Murfreesboro, Tennessee [Battle of Stone River] and Gen. Rosecrans has licked Gen. Bragg almost out of his boots. Our loss was 1000 killed and about 5000 wounded. There has been another fight at Vicksburg, Mississippi and they say we have taken it.

I suppose you know Tony Pollo ¹ was killed at those fights down your way. I hope you will excuse my writing such a short letter for I am in a hurry to put it in the box as it is waiting for me so good bye.

From your brother, — Dexter Jewett

¹ Antonio F. Pollo (1842-1862) served in Company C, 44th Massachusetts Infantry. He was killed in action on 16 December 1862 during the Battle of Whitehall (or White Hall Ferry) in North Carolina.

1864 Envelope

1864 Envelope

Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth Upewett, 39 Walnut Street, Chelsea, Massachusetts

Fort at Clark’s Point ¹
New Bedford, [Massachusetts]
July 5, 1864

Dear Mother,

I hope you will excuse my not writing to you before but we have been doing rather heavy patrol duty in the night time and have to have a little sleep during the day after cleaning our guns. There are some persons come round here nights and stone the sentinels and we can’t find who they are  after all our hunting after them and we extend our posts way to New Bedford to find them. If we ever catch them, it will go hard with them as we have our guns loaded.

We were paid off last Saturday and received $18.66 and I send you ten dollars as a present to you. I would send you more but you see yesterday was Fourth of July and we were about all of us down in New Bedford in the afternoon. We had quite a nice dinner in the barracks which came from the city for which we paid a dollar each and then we had fifty dollars worth of fireworks which was raised by subscription. The next pay day, which will be before long, I will send most of the money.

We had a splendid Fourth yesterday. In the morning and at noon, we fired a national salute, and in the afternoon we had passes to the city. In all, it was the best Fourth I ever spent. In the evening we had pleaded fireworks and they went off gay and there was fifty dollars gone off.

I received your box and I was very glad to get it. It come Saturday night — just in time for Sunday and the Fourth. The pineapple went gay with the sugar. The pickles were all right and also everything else. And I am much obliged to you and I hope you will take pay out of the money I send home.

You would have got this before and more of it if the letter had not been mislaid. I carried into the Sergt.’s for a gentleman to take up for me with fifteen dollars in it and he went off and forgot to take it with him.

I would like to have father come down here to see a feller and it would look a little like home to see him or some of the rest of you.

I don’t know but what I shall try for a pass to Chelsea after all as I don’t know about us boys getting out of this so easy at the end of three months. However, I had just as leave stay here longer as it is a bully place to be at.

I must close now as it is almost time for guard mounting. So good bye.

From your son, — Dexter Jewett

¹ The fort at Clark’s Point near New Bedford was part of the network of coastal defenses in the state. By the summer of 1863, the fort contained ten casement-mounted guns. The fort’s first tier was finished by 1864.


Chelsea [Massachusetts]
October 5, 1864

My Dear Son,

I hasten to inform you that I have just received your money. If you are still at Camp Barny, I wish you would inform Major Rollins as your father wrote to him to ascertain what express you sent it by. We did not know whether you had left a note. I am glad for your sake that it is safe for probably if you had kept it by you, it would [have] been stolen from you. Whenever you send, be particular to let us know in what way you send it.

Your Aunt Mary and Lizzy with Willy spent the day with us yesterday. Lizzy wrote you a letter. You must answer it. Decky, I want to know when [you] arrive at the Island. I want to send you a box. Will you let me know what things you are most in need of. I want to see you very much and if it is possible to get a pass, we shall do it.

Dexter, I want you you to tell me if you are in a good regiment and what kind of company you are in. Also the names of your officers, your Captain, and the letter of your company so that I may know how to direct to you.

I had a letter from [your brother] George last week. He said he saw an C_____ street the day you left. I wish you would tell us how you came to go to Portland to enlist. Let me know all the particulars, will you? I received your letter and likeness by Mr. Tenney. Your likeness is both excellent and I look at them very often. They will comfort me in your absence. I have called at Mr. Tenney a number of times and they have very kindly called on me to give all the information they could. I thought your likeness looked as [though] you are well. I thought your last likeness looked as though you was not well. I shall send you some Cartima Mixture when I have got a chance to see a box. Have you been troubled with the dysentary since you have been gone? I fear very much you will be troubled with it when you are gone South.

Now, my dear boy, I hope you will pray to God to protect you from all evil. Do so my son, and remember that your mother’s prayers shall be offered at the throne of Grace for your eternal welfare.

We think of moving to Boston where we can get a good house. It will be much better for to be where your business is. You know I have never liked Chelsea and it is very expensive area. None since ___ has been raised.

I hope we shall hear from you often. When you send money or anything, you had better direct to your father’s shop and be particular about it.

[Your mother, — Elizabeth]


Gallop’s Island ¹
October 7, 1864

Dear Mother,

We got here yesterday morning and will stay here two or three days probably. I am going into the 13th Maine as a volunteer. There is a transport waiting to take a battalion of the 61st Massachusetts to Washington.

I wish you would send my overcoat to me as we did not draw any overcoats and will you just tell Mrs. Tenney that Lyman would like his [too]. You could send them together.

When we stopped in Boston yesterday, I tried to get a pass to go to Chelsea to see you but the captain could not grant any passes. It was not in his power to do so.

The Island here is a tip top place. They do things right up in shape.

I have sent two pictures to you. What do you think of them? I think they are bully one, don’t you?

I wish you would get father to get me a pair of blanket straps as we have none dealt to us and send them with the overcoats and send them as soon as possible for I need them badly.

They are pretty strict here and make a fellow toe the mark but if a fellow behaves himself, he will get along tip top and fare well. We drew pretty good shirts and drawers but I would like to have some more shirts and stockings if you can get them.

I have bought a good pair of boots and vest and some other things.

Lyman has gone as a substitute and ain’t certain that he will go with me. I shall have to close so goodbye.

From your son, — Dexter Jewett.

Direct to Dexter Jewett, Gallop’s Island, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. Barracks 19.

¹ Gallop’s Island was the site of a training camp and a mustering out camp (for discharging soldiers from service) for Union soldiers. It held a wide assortment of buildings including; twenty barracks — each having a cook house; six sets of officers quarters; one headquarters building; a commissary; a storehouse; stables; hospital; main guard house and a wharf based guard-shack; an “old house” with associated officer’s dining room; two shore-side/piling raised sinks; one land based privy; four wells; a church; and a library.


Camp near Winchester, Va.
March 23, 1865

Dear Father,

We have been on quite a little march this week and got back _______ night and started on Monday morning. We reached to what is called Ashby’s Gap — about fifteen miles from here — where there is a ford to cross the Shenandoah River but owing to the rain, it was too high and we had to march to Snicker’s Gap where there is another ford which is about fifteen miles from Ashby’s Gap on what is called the Berryville Pike. But as the Major in command of us did not know the way through the woods, we got lost and put up for the night at a place about four miles from the Berryville Pike and the way the boys killed hens, pigs, and geese was a caution.

The next morning we started and got to Snicker’s Gap about nine o’clock and there we halted for about an hour but we could not get across the river there either for it was too high at the time so we had nothing else to do but just turn round and come back home again, and I tell you the boys were sorry for there we were in sight of some of their pickets but could not get a shot at them. We arrived in camp Tuesday night and the most of us were pretty well played.

I received four papers from home Tuesday night and the reason why I did not get two of them before was because they were directed to the 13th Maine and probably they could not make out where that regiment was so at last they sent it to me.

I had a letter from Layman Tenney ¹ yesterday and he was at Wilmington, North Carolina and having a gay time of it. There were sixteen of our scouts taken prisoner just a little way outside our pickets yesterday by the guerrillas.

Has George got home yet or is not his time out?

Well, I have not got only six months more to serve lacking six days when I will be out of this show.

I suppose business is pretty brisk now, is it not, as spring is just opening. How many workmen have you got to work for you now?

I shall have to close now so good bye for the present.

From your son, — Dexter Jewett, Co. H, 30 Maine Vols., Washington

I have not seen your picture yet.

¹ Pvt. Lyman B. Tenney (1843-1912) enlisted on 29 September 1864 as a substitute to Company D, 9th Maine Infantry. The 9th Maine participated in the capture of Wilmington, North Carolina, on 22 February 1865. After the war, Lyman returned to Chelsea, Maine.

Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

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Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

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Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

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No Cause to Blush

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This is Indeed A Singular War

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