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


About Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries. View all posts by Griff

One response to “1863-5: Joseph Francis Philp to Joseph Philp

  • Josh Hankins

    Hey glad I found this page. I have 2 letters from Joseph Philp. One he wrote April 12, 1864 — 3 days after battle of Pleasant Hill, La. And another written March 14th before they marched towards Mansfield. I’ve actually owned some of these letters listed here.

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Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

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Spared & Shared 16

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Spared & Shared 15

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