This letter was written by Pvt. Stephen Pangborn (1835-1908) of the 16th Independent Battery, New York Light Artillery — sometimes called the “Dickinson Light Artillery.” He enlisted in March 1862 at Binghamton, New York, for a three-year term. He re-enlisted in March 1864 and was promoted to a corporal before being mustered out with the battery in July 1865 at Elmira, New York.
Stephen was born in Madison County, New York. He stood five feet eight inches; he had light-colored eyes and hair; and was absent sick from his battery at Balfour Hospital from 14 October 1863 to December 1863. Before and after the war, Stephen resided in Newark Valley, Tioga County, New York.
In the field front of Petersburg [Virginia]
September the 23rd 1864
Dear Absent Friend,
I cannot refrain from embracing the opportunity of sending a letter to you knowing how anxious you must be to hear how I am getting along as some time has elapsed since my departure from you. I am in Uncle Sam’s hands now and have been for three years. I am glad to say upon the whole I am much pleased with it, not but that there are some little circumstances which I could wish altered as they at times tended to allay the comforts. Everything is working well here. We are here within the grasp of Petersburg.
You may perhaps wish to have some accounts of this city but I have so little time to examine it and am only some acquainted with its numerous turning and windings and I am unable to say more than that the buildings are exceedingly large, spacious, and handsome — the streets curly and handsome, constantly filled with rebel soldiers and baggage wagons, hurrying to and fro. Everything is in a bustle with them there as the Yankees are close upon them.
I had almost forgotten to write to you what I intended to disclose. I will now proceed to tell you. As I was carelessly talking about Madison County, a member of our battery stepped up and inquired of me if I had ever lived in Madison upon which I told him I did — also when and where — to which I found him to be one of your intimate acquaintances whose name is Devaulson Wilcox. We immediately selected a place one side and had a fine visit talking over the inhabitants of your neighborhood. He desired of me to tell you he was well as could be expected under the circumstances to which soldiers are exposed and I am also the same, God be praised, [and enjoying] good health.
I should be happy to hear from you and all of your family. I should [like] to hear from Matilda. I have not forgotten her. I cannot write much this time as I should like. I can find words to fill my whole copy but my time will not admit of it so please do not fail of favoring me of a letter as it is quite lonesome and I wish to drive away dull care.
Direct 16th NY Battery, 18th Army Corps, Fortress Monroe, Va.
From your long absent friend, — Stephen Pangborn