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