1863-4: Henry P. Chard to John C. Stevens

These eleven letters were written by Henry P. Chard (1844-1864), the son of Philadelphian William Chard. In 1850, the Chard family resided in Washington, Burlington county, New Jersey.

Chard served in the quartermaster’s department in a civilian capacity during the American Civil War, first as supervisor for military work parties at Giesboro Point’s Union cavalry barracks and stables. Later in an unidentified position, Chard served on two Union navy vessels as a member of the quartermaster department. In April 1864, the USS Althea (originally the Alfred A. Wotkyns) was commissioned into the Federal navy’s river service for duty in Grant’s Overland Campaign. The vessel served successfully throughout 1864 until she was sunk near Mobile, AL, in April 1865. In mid-1864, Chard was transferred to the Barque Mary Emma.

Harry died in late December 1864 in Philadelphia in his 21st year. His cryptic obituary notice published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger on 31 December states that he died “trusting in Jesus.”

The letters were all addressed to his friend, John C. Stevens, a Philadelphia carpenter who resided at 938 Hutchinson Street in 1863.

giesboropointcavalrydepot

Wartime photo of stables at the Giesboro Cavalry Depot (Library of Congress)


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Giesboro Point
December 14th 1863

Friend John,

I suppose you would like to know something about me and what I am doing. I am situated at this place which is about two miles below Washington and am at work here. I guess I will stay about six months for I am getting good wages and plenty of fun but not quite as much as we had on Friday nights at Frankford road and York with the social.

I would like to know how you are making out there with sister Usuris. I wish you would let me know how S. W. G. is making out. I hope she has got a nice partner for W. S.

When you go over to the Temple on Wednesday night, remember me to all the members and tell them I hope they will succeed in getting the Regalia they are so anxious about. Remember me to all the brothers and sisters at the social.

John, I have been thinking over what you told me about my future hopes and I am trying to do what is right. Remember me to all inquiring friends and let me know what is going on when you write. I do not want you to run away with any of the social ladies while I am away but wait until I come home and we will talk over matters at Frankford road and Adams while they are passing.

I am getting tired writing so I will close. Excuse the pencil writing for ink is scarce and writing tables scarce yet. My table is a pine board on a pile of hay in the bunk of a soldier’s barracks with about 200 men in it — some reading the Bible, some playing cards &c.

No more at present but remain yours in friendship, — Harry Chard

Write soon and address to Quartermaster Department, Giesboro Point, Washington D. C., Care of Capt. David F. Brown


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

Giesboro Point
December 23, 1863

Friend John,

I received your very welcome letter dated the 19th this evening and it does my heart good to hear from you and to have such good advice from you, and I shall try to act upon it. It surprises me to hear that you did not know I had left Richmond. I am a kind of an underboss here. I came on with a young man named Fogg that I got acquainted with. He has a rich uncle in Washington and he got us in. The fun is in the Barracks where we sleep. There is six of us here who have from 20 to 25 men and they do make a terrible fuss tonight. They flew at the Superintendent of the mess house and would have hurt him but he drew a revolver on him and that settled it.

I should like to be to the festival in New Years but I can’t do it for last Sunday I had to call my gang out to work and work all day. I have heard from M. Lange long ago. This is a great country down here where you cannot do anything without being locked up.

I was very glad to hear that our S. S. & W. T. of H. & T. is getting along so well.

I tell you it is a great trial for a Templar down here for all hands are drunk tonight getting ready for Christmas.

When you get this letter, I wish you would go over to our house and tell Sallie to send me some more postage stamps for I lost all of mine yesterday through the negligence of the watchman. I will now close for it is getting late. I now say good night. My best respects to all my friends and write soon for I am anxious to hear more from you. Direct as before.

Friend — Harry P. Chard


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE

Giesboro Point
January 3rd 1863

Friend John,

Your very welcome letter came duly to hand and I was glad to hear that you are well. I am well at present with the exception of a bad cold. I am trying to put all my trust in God, the giver  of every good and perfect gift but I find that in my own strength I am weak and when temptation beset me, I fail. But I hope the time is coming when I will become a good Christian. I hope you will pray for me for I try to pray for myself. I would like to have been home when the Golden Rule & F. paid a visit to the Mount Vernon for I expect you had a nice time of it. I expect you had a nice time at the Wingo hockings supper on New Year’s night.

Today is one of the finest Sundays we have had since I came down here. The sun ish shining bright and everything has a cheerful look. What would you think of me going to California? There is a report out that there is a squad going after horses and if the report is true, I am going to go and see something of the world. I have not got anymore news to tell you so I will have to draw my letter to a close. I have not heard from home for two weeks nor have I received any stamps so I have a great deal of trouble in sending letters. I wish you would tell my folks so.

God be with us all, now and forever. Remember me to all my friends and to the W. F. of H & T & S. F.

Yours in Friendship, — Harry P. Chard

Write soon.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR

Giesboro Point
March 9th 1864

Friend Stevens,

I received your very welcome letter and was very glad to hear that you are well. I am also very glad to hear that you received the two dollars for I was very much afraid of being expelled which I should have hated. I am very sorry to hear that A. MacGregor has again taken his old path to ruin but I hope that he will be reclaimed again.

I am very glad to hear that Temperance has another pillar for it needs it. Sellers has joined the Temple and that Richard Rila__ is going to be initiated, You say that you sent me a letter and wanted to know whether I sent a comic valentine to a person living on Frankford Road. No, John, I did not send a Valentine to anybody since I have been on this Point. Neither did I receive your letter and I thought it very strange that you did not write. I thought you had forgotten me entirely.

I am well at present and if nothing happens more than I know of, I will be home about the first of April for I can’t live where we kill about a handful of grey backs (body lice) a day. I can tell you we are overrun with them. There is about four hundred dirty Irish lying in a large bunk room next to ours and they got crummy and the grey backs crawled through and run us out of our beds so that we can hardly sleep in them. We have had a great time here with a parcel of drunken men tonight because we would not give them their supper. Mr. Eddie had to go for a guard who came with loaded muskets. The men are now fighting in their bunk room and do make a great noise, but it [is] all the effects of that body and soul destroyer rum.

As it is now getting late, I will have to close with my best wishes and prayers for you and all other friends. Remember me to all inquiring friends. Write soon. — Harry P. Chard


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE

Giesboro Point
April 9, 1864

Friend John,

41ERJ9BQKMLI arrived here safe and sound yesterday morning after running around Washington three or four hours for a pass. I found the tug and have got along first rate and like it very well. Andrew [G.] Room who enlisted in [the Col. Charles H] Collis’ Zouaves ¹ is dead. His father came on with me after his body. Alexandria is the same old place.

As I have no news of any account, I will draw to a close with my best wishes for all the family. Remember me to the W. T. of H. & T., also S. T. when you go over. Write soon.

Yours in Friendship, — H. R. Chard

Address: Harry P. Chard, Steam Tug A. A. Wotkyns, ² Alexandria, Va., Care of Capt. Bowen, Harbor Master

¹ Col. Charles H. Collis — an Irish immigrant who settled in Philadelphia — was the commander of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry. Andrew G. Room (1843-1864) enlisted in Co. C.   He was the son of Nathan Davis Room (1818-1890). He was killed at Brandy Station on 6 April 1864. According to Find-A-Grave, Andrew was buried in the Culpeper National Cemetery in Culpeper county, Virginia. Their interment records indicate that Pvt. Room was originally buried in “M. Wood’s, Brandy Station, Va.”

² The Alfred A. Wotkyns — a screw tug — was purchased at New York on 9 December 1863 and fitted out by Secor and Co., Jersey City, New Jersey, and placed under the command of Acting Ensign J. Boyle. She was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and served in the James River as a tug, temporary torpedo boat, and tender to the ironclads. She departed Hampton Roads 28 July 1864 and joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at Mobile in August 1864 under hte name Althea.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX

Belle Plains, Virginia
May 23rd 1864

Friend John,

You must excuse me for not writing sooner as I have not had time. Ever since we came back, they have kept us busy day and night. Sometime we would have to turn out four or five times through the night and carry dispatches. And now we are ordered off. Nobody knows were but all judge up the Rappahannock river to Fredericksburg. Yesterday we were sent to this place and tonight we move again and I expect we will see some fun before we get back for it is reported that the U. S. Steamer Eclipse was blown up by a torpedo on the Rappahannock two days ago and all on board killed so I guess we will get a dose of them and the guerrillas on the river as it is reported there is plenty of them about but our gun boats are trying to drive them away before we go. I wish you would remember me to the S. F. and also to the W. T. of H & T and all enquiring friends. My respects to your Father and Mother. As it is getting dark, I will close with my prayers to God for strength and wisdom.

Write soon and address H. P. chard, steam tug A. A. Wotkyns, Alexandria, Va., Care of Capt. Bowen, Harbor Master

And I will get it.


Bridge_Across_Pamunkey_River

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN

Alexandria [Virginia]
June 7th [1864]

Friend John,

I received your ever welcome letter and would have answered it before but being on that expedition and only getting back yesterday, I had no chance. Instead of going up the Rappahannock river, we went up the Pamunkey [river] to the White House and we had a glorious time. We seen one old greyback on the shore but he did not fire at us because we had some bluecoats with us.

Enclosed you will find two dollars which I wish you would give to Mr. Allen for me. I am glad the social also the Temple are doing well.

As I have no news, I must close with my respects to all enquiring friends. My respects to your Father & Mother.

Yours in F. L. & F. — H. P. Chard

Write soon.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT

Alexandria [Virginia]
June 23 [1864]

Friend John,

I received your welcome letter and was very glad to hear from you. I hear the Social is making out well and I am glad of it. You talk about Dauphin St. I say, “How are you Huntington Street?” There is no news of importance except there is a great many wounded coming in from the front but I am glad to say I don’t see anybody I know. As my hand is very sore with a boil, I will have to close with my prayer to God to watch over us and lead us safely to Heaven. Remember me to all inquiring friends. Also to your F. L. & F.

— H. P. Chard


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE

Fortress Monroe
July 9th [1864]

Friend John,

Yours of the 5th came to hand duly and I was very glad to hear that you and all [were] well. I am also very glad that you enjoyed yourself so well on the Fourth of July. I enjoyed myself very well. I have been laying here about a week but expect to go up the river in a few days. You did not say anything about the W. T. if H & F or the S. T.

You want to know when I changed my position. I done it about two weeks ago. You also want to know when I am coming home. I cannot tell when I will come for it is so uncertain now. I will like to know how Huntington Street also Dauphin. I don’t know. Have you been over on York Street lately? If so, let me know all the news.

As I have to go ashore now I will close with my prayers to God for strength and guidance. Remember me to all inquiring friends. Also to your Father & Mother. Write soon.

Yours in F. L. & F, — H. P. Chard


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN

Washington [D. C. ]
August 19th 1864

Friend John,

I received your ever welcome letter and was glad to hear from you. I would have answered it before but I have been so busy that I could not. I have just returned from Fortress Monroe where I went on business the 17th. You say Richmond is the same old place. I would like to come and see it. I tried my hand to get home when I lay in Baltimore but could not so now I do not expect to get hoe soon. When you get those letters, send them on to Fort Monroe. I am glad to hear that the W __ also the social are doing well. You say that Dauphin St. look pale & worried. Why did you not ask her what it was about. I hope tat you have not forsaken her? If you have, it will certainly kill her.

I had a nice time in Baltimore. I hunted for two days & nights for a Temple but could not find one but I know there must be some there as there is no news. I will close with my prayers to God for us. Remember me to your Father & Mother to all inquiring friends. I hope you will not forget to pray for me that I may be kept in the right path.

Yours &c. in F. L. & T. — H. P. C.

Address:

H. P. Chard
Barge Mary & Emma
Washington D. C.
Care of Capt. Allen, A. Q. M.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN

Washington [D. C.]
September 1st [1864]

Friend John,

Yours of the 29th inst. came duly to hand and I was glad to hear that all is well. I am still laying at the wharf foot of Sixth Street light and waiting like Macawber for something to turn up. Everything is dull as can be and Washington is the meanest city in the whole Union. No sport except drinking rum and gambling which is poor business at the best. Talk about coming home soon. I don’t think of getting home for three months yet if I do then. I suppose that you are not sorry that Dauphin Street has moved up to Richmond or would you rather Huntingdon Street would move up for convenience sake. I suppose you would. I heard from the Social yesterday. They are all well and increasing fast. How do you people feel in Richmond about the draft? The weather is getting very pleasant now days and nights are not so warm and close as they was.

Did you hear about L. Bailey’s boat being blowed up at City Point in the late explosion? But neither he nor his wife were hurt but the boat was a total loss. It belonged to Pickup in Ann Street.

As I have no news, I will draw to a close so remember me to all enquiring friends. Also to your Father & Mother. May God watch over us and keep us from sin.

Yours in L. P. & F. — H. P. Chard


 

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1861: Christopher Myers to Harriet (Myers) Johnson

This letter was written by Christopher (“Chris”) Myers (1840-1925), the son of Joshua Myers (1810-1880) and Jane Penoyar (1810-1856) of Lyons, Wayne county, New York. Joshua later remarried and moved to Camden, Hillsdale county, Michigan. Chris wrote the letter to his sister, Harriet (Myers) Johnson (1834-1915), the wife of Aldis Johnson (1821-1898). In 1860, the couple had two children — Edwin (1852-1928) and Louisa (b. 1859).

A biographical sketch for Christopher appears on Find-A-Grave which I quote:

Christopher Myers was born in Camden township, Hillsdale county, Michigan, on December 16, 1840, about two months after the arrival in this county of his parents and his three older sisters. He was reared on the woodland farm on the very verge of civilization, on which they had pitched their tent and begun to make a new home. His opportunities for attending school were few and it was far between them, as all the available strength and spirit of the family were needed for work on the farm while the season lasted. So, growing to manhood amid the scenes of natural beauty of southern Michigan, and free from the blandishments and seductive pleasures of social life, he developed a strong physique and a healthy love of home and freedom, which took in the whole country as the object of its devotion. It was no surprise to his friends, therefore, that when armed resistance threatened the existence of the Federal Union, he was one of the early volunteers.

On August 12, 1861, when he was not yet of legal age, he enlisted in Co. C, Seventh Michigan Infantry, and soon afterward was in the field as a part of the Army of the Potomac. His regiment was in the very thickest of the fighting during the first two years of the war, and took part in 27 engagements, among the most important being those at Yorktown, Fair Oaks, the James, where for seven days, there was almost continual battle and much of it desperate, Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. At the terrible battle of Antietam he was shot through the thigh and for four weeks thereafter was in the hospital, and then, in November, 1862, he was discharged from the service on account of the disability thus incurred. He returned home but was an invalid for several months, and unable to do continued work of any kind. Recovering his health, he reenlisted on December 12, 1863, becoming a member of Co. K, Twenty-Seventh Michigan Infantry, in which he then served to the close of the war. With this command he participated in many engagements, the most noted being the battle of the Wilderness. After this contest he was detailed for service in the commissary department for about three months, then returned to his company and took part in the capture of Fort Mahoney, being at the very front in the charge and one of the first men to get within the fort. His company also fired the first shot at the battle of Petersburg, After the capture of that city his regiment was a part of the force that followed General Lee until his surrender. Mr. Myers was under fire almost every day for months, being at the front for three years.

At the close of the war he went to Washington, took part in the Grand Review of the army, then returned to his Camden township home and settled on a farm of forty acres which he had bought during the war. Here he lived for a period of thirty years. He still owns the farm but has it now in the hands of a tenant, having retired from active pursuits. On January I, 1866, he was married to Miss Hannah Louesa Pound, a native of Wayne County, N. Y., the daughter of Addison T. and Chloe (Gurnee) Pound, the former a native of Ontario County and the latter of Cayuga County, N. Y. They moved to Hillsdale County in 1856 and bought a farm in Camden township on which they lived until death, the mother passing away in November, 1888, and the father in November, 1900. Mr. and Mrs. Meyers have one child, their daughter, Chloe, wife of S. E. Haughey, of Camden. Mr. Myers belongs to the Masonic fraternity, holding his membership in Lodge No. 245 at Camden, and is also connected with the Order of the Eastern Star, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Patrons of Husbandry.

In politics he has been a Republican from the dawn of his manhood, casting his first vote for Lincoln for president. He has been actively interested in the development of his township and county, and has taken a prominent part in various enterprises looking to this end. As a wise and useful citizen, who never shirks his duty in reference to public or private responsibilities, he is widely known and highly esteemed. (Source: Compendium of history and biography of Hillsdale County, Michigan Elon G. Reynolds, editor)

aacivfolls6

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mrs. Harriet Johnson, North West P. O., Williams county, Ohio

November 6th 1861

Dear Sister,

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I got your letter last night and I was glad to hear from you, I tell you. I heard from Bill and Walt and Carlis and Tom and I was glad to hear from them [too]. When you get this letter, you must write to them and let them know how I am.

We are encamped in the same place that we was when I wrote before and we don’t know anything about when there will be any fighting. Don’t you say that [your son] Edwin  says that he would like to see his uncle and I would like to see him as well as he would me. I don’t know when I will get home  again but we have enough to eat and we have lots of fun.

From Chris Myers to Harriet Johnson

November 6, 1861

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present. I hope that these few lines will find you the same.

Steven, you must when you get this letter, you must write to Bill and Walt and let them know how I am. Clair [Clarissa], you must take good care of Rebecca. Chat [Charity], you must take good care of your side and Nancy dad [?]. You have got my clothes and my likeness. I sent it to all of you to look at.

From Chris to Alden Johnson

Other Envelopes sent by Christopher Myers to his sister Harriet Johnson but without letters.

1864-65: Diary of Josiah Joshua Shuman

josiah-shuman

Josiah Joshua Shuman in civilian attire (probably post-war)

This daily diary was kept by Josiah Joshua Shuman (1837-1926) during his service in the Union army during the Civil War. Josiah was the son of Benjamin Shuman (1799-1870) and Mariah Wallace (1802-1885) of Mowersville, Pennsylvania. Josiah was a 25 year-old school teacher in Washington, Pennsylvania, when he registered for the draft in June 1863. He subsequently enlisted on 13 September 1864 in Co. I, 198th Pennsylvania Infantry as a private. National Park Service records indicate Josiah was wounded in fighting near the White Oak Swamp, Virginia, and “unaccounted for” on 31 March 1865. If true, his wounds were insufficient to preclude his remaining with the regiment as his own diary will attest.

After the war, Josiah returned to Pennsylvania where he resumed teaching school. In 1870, he was teaching in Lurgan, Franklin county, Pennsylvania. Three years later, Josiah married Annis Rebecca Uhler (1849-1926) of Chambersburg and together they had at least nine children.

Josiah’s younger brother, Simon Shuman (1842-1864), was not fortunate in his military service. Simon — a plasterer from Lurgan, Pennsylvania — was drafted in 1863 and mustered into Company D of the 148th Pennsylvania on 28 August. On-line family records indicate that Simon was captured and died at Andersonville Prison in 1864. See — 1863: Simon Shuman to George H. Mowery

[Editor’s Note: This diary transcription was submitted to me for publication by descendants of Josiah J. Shuman hoping that it may prove useful to historians and that it may lead them to the discovery of the original diary which was once held by a relative. See notes below the diary.]

TRANSCRIPTION OF DIARY

August 1864
30 — Left home Aug 30th to enlist in army.

sickel5

Col. Horatio G. Sickel

31 — Enlisted in the 198 Reg. under Col. [Horatio Gates] Sickel at Philadelphia. Entered Camp Cadualader.

September 1864
18 — Left the same.
19 — Left Baltimore. Arrived at Washington.
21 — Left Washington.
22 — Arrived at City Point.
23 — Left City Point. Arrived at Bermuda Hundred.
24 — Left Bermuda Hundred. Arrived at City Point. Left City point. Arrived at Weldon Rail Road.
25 — Encampt.
26 — Drill in camp.
27 — ” ” ”
28 — On picket for first time. First head louse caught and killed. A member of Co. H. shot himself through the foot.
29 — Still on picket. Weather fair. Picket drawn in at 3. o’clock. 198 Reg. expected to leave any hour, having everything in readiness.
30 — Moved in line of battle toward the Danville R. R. Took a line of breastworks & 3 forts.

October 1864
1 — Threw up and improved the works.
2 — Moved in line of battle again, but the day closed without being engaged. Threw up
entrenchments in evening.
3 — Lying behind the breastworks & improving them.
4 — Still in the works doing nothing, in the evening marched [?] of a mile to the rear &
encamped.
5 — Improving tents & drilling.
6 — Drill in camp. The 21st Reg. left our corps to be mounted.
7 — Policed the streets of our camp.
8 — Rec’d orders to march, but in the evening they were countermanded.
9 — Preaching & dress parade.
10 — Drill in camp.
11 — Election held. 26 votes cast in Co. I, 23 of which were Republican & 3 Democratic.
12 — Drill 12th & 13th both.
14 — Drill & a deserter shot for deserting to Rebel ranks, captured by the same camp from which he deserted.
15 — General inspection.
16 — Visited Joseph Taylor & while being away, our Brig. moved the right in the rear of the
breastworks.
17 — Improving our streets & tents. Secretary of War expected but did not come.
18 — General Meade & Staff rode along the lines.
19 — Practiced skirmish drill for the first time.
20 — Skirmish drill.
21 — Drill.
22 — W[alker] R. Bittner sent to the Hospital.
23 — Inspection morning. Preaching at 2 o’clock & dress parade in the evening.
27 — Started on a march to the left of our line and returned on 28th. From Oct. 28 till Nov. 8. Nothing of importance done in camp, drill &c.

November 1864
8 — Election held, 47 votes cast in Co. I, 27 for Lincoln & 20 for Little Mac.
9 — Ordered to put up winter quarters.
10 — Ordered out on picket.
11 — Still on picket duty.
12 — ” ” ” ”
13 — Relieved.
14 — Putting up tents.
15 — General inspection
16 — Company drill.
17 — Policing streets & quarter inspection.
18 — Building 2nd Lieutenant’s tent, but did not complete it.
19 — Raining. Nothing done but regular camp duty.
20 — Raining.
21 — ”
22 — Morning sky clear and sun shining clear. Evening cloudy.
23 — Clear but cold. Captain’s tent began to be built but not finished. Orders read at head of companies concerning the one day’s ration system.
24 — Thanksgiving Day. President’s Proclamation read to Reg. on dress parade by the Chaplain.
25 — Camp drill &c.
26 — Drill & Captain’s tent nearly finished.
27 — Company inspection. Visit paid us by John Breckenridge & Wise.
28 — Detailed for picket.
29 — All quiet on the picket line. Division review.
30 — Still on picket. Weather fair.

December 1864
1 — Relieved of picket duty.
2 — Brigade drill.
3 — No drill, but dress parade.
4 — Company inspection. Brigade dress parade in the evening.
5 — Brigade drill. Preparations being made for a move.
6 — Moved from camp & marched some 3 or 4 miles & tented in the wilderness for the night.
7 — Marched at 6 o’clock & reached the Nottoway R. about 4 P. M. Took supper & slept till
about 2 A. M.
8 — We then crossed the river on the pontoons & marched till daybreak, when we stopped to make coffee, being detained one hour. Passed Sussex C. H. about 9 o’clock A.M. Dec. 8th, 1864, & marched till within one mile of the Weldon R. R. There we stopped and took
supper at 6 o’clock & supported the party which were tearing up the roads on the skirmish
line till 12 o’clock then retired.
9 — Started again & went towards Hicks Ford until about 2 o’clock P. M. where we stopped to tear up the R. R. Worked at that about 2 hours, and then went into the camp for the night.
10 — Packed up again at dawn of day and marched back by a different route till within 2 miles of Sussex C. H. & encamped again for the night.
11 — Started again at dawn and passed the C. H. and crossed the Nottoway R. & encamped again for the night.
12 — Started again at break of day and marched back to the place where we encamped on the night of the 6th. Reached the place about 2 o’clock. We then pitched tents & made ourselves as comfortable as possible.
13 — Having no orders to move, we lay in our camp & rested ourselves.
14 & 15th — doing nothing.
16 — Preparing for inspection.
17 — General inspection.
18 — Sunday―line struck for our camp.
19 — On picket.
20 — ” ”
21 — ” ”
22 — Relieved of picket duty. Returned to camp & commenced building the tents of our new camp.
23 — Building tents. Col. [Horatio G.] Sickel returned from his 20-day furlough.
24 — Building tents.
25 — Christmas. Some of the men worked till 3 o’clock when the axes were turned in. Preaching at 3 P. M.
26 — Building tents.
27 — Church commenced.
28 — Building tents.
29 —  ”  ”
30 — Doing nothing.
31 — Weather unfavorable for tent building. Raining & snowing all day, camp guard called out at night to stop the men from firing off their pieces.

January 1865
1 — Weather clear & cold with a little snow on the ground.
2 — Church building resumed & the Parsonage began.
3 — Building church & Chaplain tent. Shift of snow fell in the evening.
4 — Still at church & tent. Snow all melted away during the day, sun shining bright.
5 — Working at the church and chaplain’s tent. The body of the Rebel Captain removed from the middle of our lines to their own by orders of Gen. Grant.
6 — James B. Slaymaker left our shanty to drive an ambulance. Heavy rain in P. M.
7 — Weather clear. Great house roofed. Street policed. Chaplain’s tent roofed, floor put in.
8 — Company inspection. Preaching at 2 o’clock P. M. Dress parade at 4 P. M.
9 — Chaplain’s tent finished. Brig. dress parade.
10 — Nothing done in the way of working.
11 — Paving streets commenced. Building church.
12 — Working at church & Pavements.
13 — Putting seats in church.
14 — Church finished & boots received from V. Kriner, Waynesboro, Franklin Co., Penna.
15 — Church dedicated. Sermon preached from the 1st verse of the 122nd Psalm. Also preaching in the evening, sermon preached by Chaplain 189 P. V.
16 — general inspection of arms & quarters.
17 — Paving our streets.
18 — On guard duty.
19 — Washed shirt and drawers in the morning, and were stolen in the evening. Batallion Drill.
20 — Police duty in morning. Batallion Drill in evening.
21 — Did nothing in the way of camp duty. Rec’d a book from the library viz. Pioneer Boy
Lincoln.
22 — Preaching in afternoon.
23 — Reported at Fort Stevenson and returned the book & rec’d another― Chambers Papers for the People vol. 3.
24 — Toothache all day & experienced an unsuccessful attempt to draw the tooth.
25 — Visit paid us by Cyrus Hazelet & Joseph Taylor. Batallion Drill in evening.
26 — On guard duty.
27 — The whole Reg. called out in afternoon to do police duty.
28 — On police duty. Batallion Drill in evening.
29 — Sunday. Company inspection in morn. Preaching in afternoon. Dress parade in eve. W[alker] R. Bittner returned to the Reg. from Hospital.
30 — Company drill in morn. Detailed to work at the Asst. Surgeon’s tent.
31 — Company drill in morn. Batallion Drill in evening.

February 1865
1 — [no entry]
2 — On guard duty.
3 — Washing & Batallion Drill.
4 — On Fatigue duty putting floor in guard house. Rec’d orders to march with 4 day’s rations.
5 — Started on our march at 6 o’clock & marched towards the South Side R. R. After marching some 12 or 15 miles, we encamped for the night.
6 — But as the Rebs seemed to threaten our flank we retraced our steps starting at 12 or 1
o’clock and marched back about 5 or 6 miles. Halting at day dawn on the morn of the 6th at
Hatcher’s Run where we remained until 4 o’clock when we were marched into a fight with
the rebs and drove them into their works. The engagement closing with our Brig. at
sundown, although the fight was kept up with them till after dark. Our Brig. remained in line of battle all that night and…
7 — on the morning of the 7th were again advanced to support the skirmishers line. The skirmishers firing ceasing in a short time we went back to the run again leaving the artillery & cavalry to take care of the rebs in our front.
8 — Still at the same place all being quiet along the lines.
9 — At the same place. Commenced to build a fort on the north side of the Hatcher’s run.
10 — Detailed on picket duty, the regiment remaining at the works.
11 — Picket line drawn in.
12 — Still on picket. One reb citizen brought in.
13 — Relieved of picket duty.
14 — Putting up shanty.
15 — On fatigue putting up abatises.
16 — Working at shanties.
17 — Inspection of arms.
18 — Finished out shanty.
19 — Sunday. Rested. Dress parade in evening. J[ohn] M. Shearer started home on furlough.
20 — On picket duty.
21 — ” ” ”
22 — Relieved of picket duty. Brig. review at 2 o’clock P. M. Visit paid us by Joseph Taylor.
23 — Wrote a letter to J. J. Miller & David Barnhart.
24 — Improving our tent. Dress parade.
25 — Wrote a letter to William Mowery.
26 — Sunday inspection. Dress parade in evening. Signed the payroll.
27 — Rec’d 4 month pay & first instalment of the Gov. Bounty.
28 — Mustered for two month more pay. C[harles] W. Taylor left for home on furlough.

March 1865
1 — On fatigue
2 — Did nothing.
3 — Got an Ambrotype taken
4 — Policed the Company streets.
5 — Company inspection.
6 — On picket. J[ohn] M. Shearer returned from home.
7 — On picket. 12 rebs came in on our line.
8 — Relieved of picket.
9 — Wrote 4 letters.
10 — Did nothing.
11 — Visited by C[yrus] Hazelet.
12 — Dress parade in evening.
13 — Policed the street and company drill in the forenoon & Brig. Drill in afternoon.
14 — Skirmish drill in forenoon & Corps review in afternoon. Rec’d orders to be ready to move. Sutler left late in evening.
15 — S[amuel] Sentman left camp for home on furlough. Sent our surplus baggage to City Point.
16 — Company drill in forenoon. Corps review in afternoon.
17 — C[hales] W. Taylor returned from home. Horse race in evening.
18 — Majority of company on fatigue duty. Dress parade in evening.
19 — Inspection in morning.
20 — On fatigue duty in morn. Division review in afternoon & dress parade in evening.
21 — Company drill in forenoon & afternoon.
22 — Company drill in forenoon & Batallion Drill in afternoon.
23 — General inspection.
24 — Company drill.
25 — Our lines attacked by the rebs. 1st Div. called out early in the morning & was on the reserve all day but not engaged [with] rebs. [Robert] Harvey [of] Co. I wounded. Came back to our quarters about nine o’clock at night. Fort Stedman.
26 — Rec’d orders to be ready to move at a moments notice. On picket. Relieved in the evening by the 2nd Corps.
27 — Still in camp ready to move. Batallion Drill in afternoon.
28 — Still in camp ready to move.
29 — Moved off in the direction of the South Side R. R. Met the enemy in the evening and had a fight with them. J[ohn] M. Shearer wounded.
30 — Lay [bivouacked] on the battle field all day.
31 — Moved in toward the front and were in line of battle all day. In the evening retook the
ground which the 3rd Div. lost in the morning. Lt. [A. A.] Pomeroy & N[oah] H. Shearer killed.

April 1865
1 — Started in the morning and moved to the left of the line and met Gen. Sheridan’s Cavalry about noon. In the evening marched to the front and aided in capturing a line of reb works and a lot of prisoners. Five Forks.
2 — Started about 11 o’clock marched to the South Side R. R. Finding no enemy we marched toward Petersburg & encamped for the night about 9 or 10 mi south of Petersburg.
3 — Marched all day toward the Danville R. R.
4 — Continued our march toward the Danville and reached it about dark & commenced
fortifying ourselves.
5 — Lay in the works all day.
6 — Started on our march toward the Appomattox C. H. Encamped for the night at 1/2 past 8 o’clock.
7 — Marched again at 6 o’clock and reached Prince Edward C. H. at 9 o’clock P. M. and
encamped for the night.
8 — Continued our march after the Rebs. Stopped at midnight nothing of interest having
transpired during the day.
9 — Marched at 4 o’clock & reached the Appomattox about 10 o’clock when and where the Rebs were entirely surrounded by the Union Troops & Gen Lee Surrendered his whole forces consisting of 35,000 troops.
10 — Encamped at Appomattox.
11 — Moved ½ mi to the east and encamped.
12 — Marched out to receive the rebs arms and then came back to camp.
13 — Laying in camp doing nothing.
14 — ” ” ” ” ”
15 — Moved at 1 o’clock toward Berksville. Encamped in the woods for the night.
16 — Easter Sunday. Started at 6 o’clock and marched to Farmersville. Distance 17 miles.
17 — Started at 8 o’clock from Farmersville & marched about 4 miles beyond Berksville &
encamped in the wilderness.
18 — Established a temporary camp.
19 — In Camp.
20 — Moved toward Berksville till 4 o’clock.
21 — Marched at 6 o’clock. Marched till about 3 o’clock.
22 — Started at 11 o’clock & marched 1 1/2 miles & encamped at White Oak Hospital.
23 — Laying in camp.
24 — Laying in camp. On guard duty at night.
25 — Order read to the Reg. relating to the badge to be worn for the death of Pres. Lincoln.
26 — Still in camp doing nothing.
27 — ” ” ” ” ”
28 — Gen. inspection of arms.
29 — S[amuel] H. Witter started home on furlough.
30 — Mustered in for two more months pay.

May 1865
1 — Marched at 6 o’clock & stopped for the night within 6 miles of Petersburg.
2 — Orders to move. Drew 3 days rations.
3 — Moved through Petersburg and encamped for the Manchester.
4 — Moved about 8 miles nearer Manchester & encamped.
5 — Packed at 9 o’clock but orders being countermanded, we pitched tents & remained in camp till 9 o’clock on the 6th.
6 — Marched in review through Richmond and reached Hanover C. H. about 8 o’clock P. M. having marched 18 miles in the afternoon.
7 — Started at 11 o’clock and marched across the Chickahominy R. Went into camp about
sundown. (Pamunkey)
8 — Moved off at 6 A. M. & marched across the Mattaponi R. about sundown & encamped for the night.
9 — Marched at 5½ o’clock. Passed through Bowling Green in morning & crossed the
Rappahannock at 4½ o’clock. P. M. Encamped 1½ miles N. of Ford’g.
10 — Started at about 7 o’clock and passed Stafford C. H. Crossed Aquia Creek. Camped about sundown.
11 — Moved at 6 A. M. Crossed Occoquan Rover on pontoons in evening. Went into camp about 9 o’clock.
12 — Marched at 6. Passed Fairfax C. H. about 7 A. M. Reached Arlington Heights about 4 P. M.
13 — Lay in camp.
14 — ” ” ”
15 — Changed the location of the camp.
16 — Laying in camp.
17 — In camp doing nothing.
18 — ” ” ” ”
19 — S[amuel] H. Witter returned from furlough.
20 — Turned in our ammunition & received our surplus baggage.
21 — Laying in camp doing nothing.
22 — General Presentation inspection.
23 — Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac.
24 — Gen. Sherman’s Army Review.
25 — Still in camp. General’s Illimination in evening.
26 — Rec’d our Muster Out Rolls.
27 — Doing nothing.
28 — Camping inspection. Dress parade in evening.
29 — Doing nothing.
30 — ”
31 — 185 Reg N. Y. V. left our Brig. for home.

June 1865
1 — Made out the muster out rolls.
2 — Doing nothing.
3 — Escorted Brig Gen. Pearson & the 155th Reg. P. V. to the Long Bridge. Mustered out of
service after which orders came to make out a new set of Muster Rolls for the transferred
men. Finished the 2nd of Rolls about midnight.
4 — Rolls finished & Transferred men. Mustered out.
5 — Broke camp at 5 o’clock and marched to Washington. Took transportation to Philadelphia and at 5 o’clock in evening and Baltimore 9 o’clock P. M.
6 — Arrived at Philadelphia. 9 o’clock A. M. June 6th. Eat breakfast at Cooper’s Institute.
7 — Nothing doing in camp.
8 — Turned in our Government Property.
9 — Doing nothing.
10 — Review in the city but Co. I did not go.
11 — Doing nothing.
12 — Discharged, paid off, & started for home.
13 — Arrived at home.


Message from Submitter of Diary:

My father, Frederick Gale Shuman (now  deceased),  was intensely interested in his family genealogy and before his death was able to amass a number of records and materials about Josiah and Simon Shuman — brothers — who fought for the Union during the Civil War. My sister and I have taken up our dad’s research to try to extend what he found. I am intensely interested and excited to have seen the Simon Shuman letter, as it is one that we had not known existed.

I have a transcript of a diary written by Josiah that he kept during his stint in the Union Army. The original resided with my father’s aunt, and I do not know its present whereabouts; but my father transcribed it back in the 1980s, and I copied and posted it recently on my Ancestry.com page. I would be VERY interested to share other letters and artifacts I have from the Shuman family and to communicate with anyone who can share similar information with me. If you are interested, please e-mail me — deb[dot]shuman@icloud.com — and thank you for helping to preserve the memories of our ancestors.

1862: Lester Bishop Filley to Hila (Corey) Filley

ill61illvm801cdv

Capt. Frank M. Posey of Co. A, 61st Illinois Infantry

This letter was written by Lester Bishop Filley (1829-1887), the son of Lester Filley (1791-1859) and Corinthia Twinning (1793-1838) of Massachusetts. In the 1860 U.S. Census, Lester and his wife Hila A. Corey (1837-1911) are enumerated as residents of Macoupin County, Illinois. Lester and Hila were married on 26 March 1854 in Jerseyville, Illinois. Their children (in 1860) were Cora (b. 1855) and Dora (b. 1859). By June 1862, when this letter was written, another daughter — named Elizabeth (“Libbie”) — had been born.

At age 33, Lester enlisted in Co. D, 61st Illinois Infantry on 22 March 1863. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as standing 5’4″ tall, with dark hair, gray eyes, and a light complexion. His occupation was recorded as “merchant.” Lester served with the 61st Illinois from 5 February 1862 until he was discharged for disability on 22 March 1863 (another source says 2 May 1864).

To read Filley’s account of the Battle of Shiloh, see Lester B. Filley.

TRANSCRIPTION

Bethel, Tennessee
June 13, 1862

My Dear Wife,

I am better now. I was sick, very sick, when I last wrote you. I was then on Owl Creek. Last Sunday I was brought here on a bed in an ambulance. I have gained slowly till yesterday I had a set back — puking & purging run – run me down. I was crazy for a few hours but Capt. [John Henry] Reddish — who has done for me all he could — put [a] mustard plaster on my bowels and brought  me out. I am better now but weak. Can not sit up long at a time or walk.

The regiment has just received orders to take 4 days rations in their haversacks and march tomorrow. we don’t know where. I shall go if they can take me in the ambulance. If not, shall remain here till they send for me. I will not go into a army hospital but will follow the regiment or they must send me home. It is supposed we are going to Jackson, Tennessee to summer. If so, I shall ask for a furlough as soon as I think I can get one.

I have not had a letter from you since the one about Wick Post. When shall I get another? Write often. Direct thus: L. B. Filley, 61st Ills. Vol, in the field, Tennesee. I will write as often as I can but as long as I am as weak as I have been for the last week, it will not be often.

We have very pleasant weather — very cold nights. I sleep under two blankets and have suffered some nights at that. The days are hot but I have seen no very hot days yet likeIllinois hot. If I was well and could get out & visit the Secesh friends here, get some milk, bread, & fish a little, I could enjoy myself. But I have to stay in quarters now for over two weeks.

How comes on the baby? Write all about her. Also Baby No. 2 — Dora. I suppose I must not call her baby now. What would I give to see her. Tell her Pa loves her down in Tennessee. And Cora, how much pleasure it will give me when I come home to have sit by my side and read to me. I hope she has got so she can read anything by this time. I know she goes to school every day. I hope she learns fast, minds her teacher, and is a good girl.

Now wife, how are you getting along? Hard enough, I suppose. Oh that we could once more be happy. Will that day ever come? I have the blues often even in this far off land.

Did you get the $60 I sent by Express to John T. Williams. I have not received the balance that is due me yet and no prospect of do so at present. I will send more as fast as I get it. Now write. Write often and long.

Kiss the girls for me. Accept a big one for yourself. I am too weak to write more. Goodbye, — Lester

1862: John Amsden to Friend

nh

How John might have looked

This letter was written by 48 year-old John Amsden (1814-1875), the son of Ira Amsden (1783-1862) and Minerva Bond (1792-1872) of Conway, Franklin County, Massachusetts. John was married to Sarah Jane Wilder (1821-18xx) of Greenfield, Massachusetts, in October 1842 in Conway, Franklin County, Massachusetts. In the 1860 Census, just prior to the Civil War, John was enumerated in Hinsdale, Cheshire County, New Hampshire with his wife “Jane” and daughter Sarah (age 14). His occupation was recorded as “teamster.”

Military records indicate that John enlisted as a private in Co. A, 14th New Hampshire Infantry in August 1862 at the age 0f 44. His birthdate was in September 1814 so he was actually nearly 48 years old when he enlisted. John served with the regiment until 6 June 1864 when he was transferred to Co. G, Veteran Reserve Corps where he remained until his discharge at Washington D.C. in June 1865.

The circumstances surrounding the separation of John Amsden and his wife after the war are unknown. In the 1870 Census, John was enumerated in the household of Simeon Tyrell of Blandford, Hampden County, Massachusetts. His occupation was given as “lumber dealer.” Neither wife nor child are enumerated with him.  Five years later when he died in Ashfield, Massachusetts, he was buried next to his parents graves in Conway. Pension records indicate, however, that his widow filed for a pension based upon her husband’s service in June 1880.

This letter was written from the camp of the 14th New Hampshire on Adder Hill, atop a bluff overlooking Lock 21 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal about 20 miles from Washington D. C. where they remained from October 25 until 13 November, 1862. Amsden datelines his letter “Mudy Crick” which was actually Muddy Branch, a tributary of the Potomac River.

TRANSCRIPTION

Muddy Creek
November 9th 1862

Friend Aurora,

By permission, allow me to write you a few lines as a friend. My health is very good and has been since I left home and hope you are enjoying the same. I find this war life a complete slave’s life. When we left Concord, we moved direct to Washington. There we stopped three or four days [at a camp on East Capitol Hill] and then started for the place we now are at. This place is situated on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal about twenty miles from Washington on the Potomac River and we think we may take up our winter quarters here. There is plenty of rebels on the opposite side of the river. We see small squads of them almost every day.

There was a pretty smart fight yesterday and the day before in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry, we think, as we heard a continual roar of cannon and smaller arms and the rumor this morning is that the fight was between McClellan and Lee and McClellan drove Lee back four or miles miles. ¹ We have not got the facilities for getting the earliest war news that you have. I think you could post us upon the war matters better than we can you so I will stop.

I hope when you get this imperfect scribble you will sit down and write me a good long letter. There is nothing that does me so much good as to hear from my friends that I left behind. It seems almost like I was having an interview wit them as I used to at their pleasant homes. I received a letter from your dear sister Eulalia the other day and was very thankful that she took the trouble to write. Ask her if she will not write me again soon.

I am now sitting on a stump and writing in the top of my cap which I think an enviable position to what some of us have but we are determined to make the best of our lot. If I could just call in to your hospitable home and spend a few hours as happily as I have done, I would give almost anything. By the way, Eulalia writes you are making repairs. I wonder if there is going to be a wedding there soon. If so, I hope it will be for the good of all concerned. When you make your choice of a partner for life, use your very best judgement as you will find that to be the crowning act of your life. For fear that you may think I am writing advice, I will stop where I am.

Please give my love to your Father and Mother, Elulalia, and all enquiring friends. Tell your Father to write me. I should be very happy to have him do so and do not fail to write yourself and please write often. Do not wait for me to write as we have not the time nor conveniences for writing. If you should go over to Hinsdale, I hope you will call on my wife and Sarah. Give my love to Mr. Gold. Tell him to write me.

Eulalia writes that you had a Sabbath School celebration at Whiteheads Hall. Did you have a good time? I hope you did. I would liked to have been there but our celebrations are of a different stamp. I have not seen but one white woman since I came to this place but there is plenty of black ones here. They come around the camp as thick as bees with milk, pies, apples, &c. We have to pay 10 cts per quart for milk, 25 cts for pies that your hogs would turn their noses up at, apples 3 for 5 cts such as you would make into cider, and other things in proportion.

By the time you get here, you will be tired [reading] and [so] I will close. Excuse the numerous errors. Again, allow me to urge you to write often. So goodbye.

Yours in haste, — John Amsden

N. B. Please direct your letters to John Amsden, Washington, D. C.

14th NHVols. Co. A

¹ I believe Amsden is referring to the skirmish of 8 November 1862 between Gen. Alfred Pleasanton’s Cavalry Division (Army of the Potomac) and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s Cavalry near Little Washington (south of Leesburg, Virginia). Newspaper accounts of the skirmish state that Pleasanton’s men captured three pieces of artillery, 2 offices and five privates.

1864: Henry Langdon Potter to Quartermaster

This letter was written by Henry Langdon Potter (1828-1907) who was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel of the 71st New York Infantry on July 18, 1861, and rose to Colonel and commander of the regiment, being promoted on 1 May 1863. He was wounded three times during his service. In June 1862, at Burnt Chimneys, near Fair Oaks (VA) he was wounded in the left leg below the knee. He was wounded again at Bristoe Station (VA) in August 1862 when a musketball shattered the bones of his left wrist. And finally,  on 1 July 1863 while in command of his regiment on the first day’s fighting at Gettysburg, he was wounded a third time. In December 1863, he was dismissed for the service as being unfit for field duty due, presumably, to his injuries and chronic health issues.

In his book, Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Out-right Fools: Courts Martial of Civil War Union Colonels, Thomas P. Lowry provides significant detail regarding the court martial of Potter in March 1862. In that trial, numerous charges were levied against Potter that suggested he had a serious drinking problem which led to irrational behavior. Due to extensive conflicting testimony presented at his trial, Potter was found guilty on only some of the charges and he was suspended from command for 15 days and docked his pay for thirty days.

TRANSCRIPTION

345 East 49th Street
New York City
Jany. 26th [1864]

Dear Quarter Master,

Your letter of 23d came today. You do not write me if you got the letter I wrote to Major [Thomas] Rafferty or not — or anything about my horses — or about the Gen. Orders O. P. commencing with 105 and the index for 1863. I want them complete and nice clean ones to bind.

I did not hear from Aaron Brewer in Washington in reference to the War Department Orders yet. About the ordnance returns, I am sure that the vouchers &c. were all sent, and they must have been lost in the Depts. tho’ retained copies are in Washington so that I can not make up duplicates at present. Let the papers be carefully preserved until I give further directions. Say to the Adjutant that I have his two letters and will answer them soon when not so very busy.

Twitchell

Joseph Hopkins Twichell was the chaplain of the 71st New York

I have not seen the chaplain yet. That brazier ought not to be allowed to come inside the regiment again, and it is lucky for him that I am not there.

About the bitter feeling in the regiment and your remark that “some that should have worked for me &c. have taken advantage &c., to make it worse &c.” I care but little. I have no idea to whom you allude, except it be Rafferty and we all know his double facedness of old. As he is expecting some favor of me, I wish to know his record since I am absent. In fact, there are all of them more in want — or likely to be in want — of favors from me than I am from them, and I wish to know the exact record that I may settle all accounts. I have done too much for them and now will not do a thing more except to reward the faithful or in return for services of considerations.

As for leaving the regiment for the Invalid Corps — should I get the appointment in the Invalid Corps — which is very uncertain — should this regiment be filled up — I shall decline the Invalid Corps appointment and stick to the regiment. Should the regiment not be filled up, then I shall — if appointed in the Invalid Corps — get permission to see my regiment out of service next July before giving it up. So that any in the regiment who think I will not have an opportunity to settle with them in full for any of this bitter feelings or anything else, will find themselves much mistaken.

And about that sword, I shall look upon it to be a privilege or a favor to any of them to be allowed to make up this deficiency, and I wish every one to have the chance offered to them, and I wish to know who declines that I may know who is who — and get a list from the adjutant of those who subscribed before and the amounts. I hope you will soon have it attended to — as Mr. Wakeman spoke to me about it a few days since, he wants it off his hands.

I shall make up this money after the 1st myself anyhow, though am short as the devil.

I wish you to write me all about the officers — who is to be depended upon and who not. I have been without much information from them since I left — that is, that I could rely upon. How does [Thomas] Rafferty and [William H.] Elwood get on? It seems that it was Elwood (or Lt. Col. [William R.] Brewster) who wrote the letter that put a stop to Rafferty’s promotion. Have you seen [Thomas] Leigh yet? If not, I would do so for the sword’s sake of no other — also Mr. Blair. Write me all the news — send all the orders and tell the horse &c. &c. and have matters attended to as soon as possible.

Write me how the sutler makes it go and all about matters. I have no news to write. Am busy yet at the house.

Any letter not of value or not containing valuable papers — send to me here. 345 East 49th Street. Put it on plainly.

Any documents of value — box 2556 N. Y. P. O. as I am not down town every day. Give me all the news next time.

Yours sincerely, — H. L. Potter

Let me know what the officers have to complain of and what they are bitter about. Let my intentions in reference to leaving the regiment and about the Invalid Corps be known.

1862-64: George W. Peckham to Family

3rdRI

The 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery undergoing Inspection of Arms

These letters were written by George Washington Peckham, Jr. (1843-1878), the son of George Washington Peckham, Sr. (1800-1856) and Eliza Barker (1804-1870) of Middletown, Rhode Island.

George first enlisted on 5 October 1861 in Co. C, 3rd Rhode Island Artillery. This unit was organized in Providence in the fall of 1861 but was disbanded in December 1861 and its members were transferred into the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. George was discharged at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on 19 January 1864.The following day he re-enlisted and was finally discharged as a corporal at Richmond, Virginia, on 9 June 1865.

See also — 1862: Edward Nelson Steere to James B. Coman  Edward Steere also served in the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery and also wrote several letters from Camp Stephen Olney on Hilton Head.

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Camp Stephen Olney, Hilton Head, South Carolina
December 15, 1862

Dear Brother,

I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you and all in good health. I received your letter the 11th and am much obliged to you for your blowing up. The boys are all well except William Smith. He is in the hospital yet. I think he will get his discharge. Isaiah came out today. Edward Maguire has got his discharge and gone home. I had a letter from [brother] Leander the other day. He wrote that he was well.

We have taken our battery to pieces to paint. We are short of forage yet and go out to graze twice a day. We have different weather here from what you have there. Sometimes it is warm enough to be round with your jacket off; then it is cold enough to freeze. We have had ice here all day and that is more than we had last winter. The boys were round sewating with their jackets off today.

Lee wrote that he guesses he should send a box. Tell Mother if it is not too much trouble, I should like her to send me one. I don’t care if it’s being as large as the other one. I don’t want any clothing this time. I want some black pepper — that is most gone, some thick envelopes, one or two thick combs, and the rest eatables. Son’t send anything that will spoil. I will pay for the box and the freight of it. Don’t put anything in the box warm for it is apt to spoil. As I cannot think of more to write, I must close. Give my love to all enquiring friends.

From your brother, — George W. Peckham


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

Washington D. C.
April 12, 1864

Dear Sister,

I now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and where I am.

We left Providence last Thursday afternoon for New York, arriving in New York Friday morning. Stayed in New York until Saturday afternoon when we left for Baltimore. Arriving at Baltimore Sunday. Left Baltimore yesterday for Washington. Arrived here at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I went up to Uncle Gideon [Barker]’s while I was in Providence and took dinner. I gave Hatty one of my pictures. ¹ I suppose you have got them by this time. Tell Patience their apples are not all gone yet but are going fast. I eat the last cake in Baltimore. We are waiting here in the barracks for the regiment to come on. How long we will stay, I do not know. If I had stayed in New York Saturday night, I would have been in Rhody Island Sunday. Some of the boys went back as it was.

We had quite a pleasant time coming on having no guard on the boys all the way from Washington to Rhode Island. When we got here all they had to do, if they was left, was to show their furlough and get transportation on it. Did not cost them a cent.

The boys are all well and in good spirits. You must make this answer at present. Give my love to all enquiring friends.

From your brother, — George W. P.


¹ Harriet (“Hatty”) E. Barker, born 1848, was George’s cousin, the daughter of Gideon Barker (1819-1883) and Sarah Cornell (b. 1829) of Providence, Rhode Island.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE

In the Field before Petersburg, VA
September 14, 1864
Dear Sister,

I now sit down to answer your kind letter which I received on the 11th — also two papers — and was glad to hear from you. I am well at present and hope this will find you and all in good health. Our artillery in front of Petersburg fired a salute in honor of Atlanta being taken. They were not very particular about the kind of ammunition they used. About it being blank cartridges. But socked the shells right over to them. It made me think of the time I was on James Island when the Johnnies fired a salute in honor of Jeff Davis at the time he took his seat. The first thing we knew of it was Mister Shell coming over. Not only one shell but shells — the first thing in the morning at that.

Our artillery are playing on Petersburg today quite lively. We have got a mortar back here that does some tall climbing once in awhile. Not the mortar, but the shells. Petersburg is not much of a city but it takes a good many men to keep it from running away. Some on this side. What the Johnnies have got on their side, I don’t know.

Tell Leander to take one of those pictures when Joel gets them. You can have one for Cousin Julia but mind and not take all of them. I want two of them for my own use, as the Captain says in his orders on the quartermaster for rations.

Well, sis, I suppose you have read nonsense enough do I will close. There is not much news so goodbye. From your brother, — George W. P.

Write Soon.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR

Headquarters Battery C
Signal Hill, Va.
Sunday, November 20th 1864

Dear Sister,

I now sit down to answer your kind letter received yesterday morning and was glad to hear from you. I am well at present and hope this will find you and A.L.L. in good health. I have not enlisted yet but am thinking of that $1,400 bounty.

Yesterday was a rainy day in Old Virginia. Rained all night and bids fair to rain all day today. As we are in good quarters, we don’t mind it much. Our horses are out in it which makes it bad for us drivers. The Johnnies are trying our lines most every night now but have not made out much yet. The attack is mostly up by Dutch Gap.

Tell mother not to forget her promise now she has got her teeth. Tell her not to trouble herself about paying those notes. She is welcome to the use of the money as long as she wants it. Tell Joel not to forget to send me Brother John Bond than this year. Eliza you must excuse my letters if they are short. There is no news to write except war news and you get that in the papers. I suppose Joel will be a carpenter before a great while. He is getting the start of me.

I would like to be home with you this winter but I suppose I have got to soldier it awhile longer yet. I close with my love to all from your brother and well wisher, — G. W. P.

Write soon.

 

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