1862: Walter Howard Lord to Charles Henry Lord

How Walter might have looked

How Walter might have looked

This letter was written by 21 year-old Walter Howard Lord (1841-Bef1900) of Company I, 15th Connecticut Infantry who enlisted on August 1862. Walter wrote the letter to his younger brother, Charles Henry Lord (b. 1843). It appears that Walter’s father had died prior to the 1860 Census and his mother, Harriett Ann Lord (b. 1806) was left to raise the four children on her own.

At the time this letter was written on 30 November 1862, the regiment was at “Camp Casey” in Fairfax, Virginia. Camp Casey was on high ground about a mile and half south west of Alexandria. The officers were housed in dilapidated barracks while the men huddled around coal stoves in Sibley tents.

Walter informs his brother the regiment has just received marching orders. The regimental history records that orders were received on Sunday evening, 30 November 1862, to assemble at Acquia Creek within seven days. “The next day shelter tents were issued, five days’ rations cooked, knapsacks packed, and at 2 p.m. the regiment filed out toward Washington, crossed the Long Bridge, and turned southward through Maryland. Fifteen miles were covered before a halt was ordered for the night. The second day’s march brought them to Chatham; the third to near Piscataquay; the fourth to Port Tobacco, and the fifth to Liverpool Point. The last march was particularly severe. Snow fell the entire day to a depth of eight inches, and a more weary, bespattered, and thoroughly chilled armed body than was the 15th that night, never lay down.” They crossed the Potomac on barges to the Virginia side and went into camp near Acquia Creek.

The men of the 15th Connecticut did not know it at the time, but they were on their way to the Rappahannock River and about to participate in their first major battle at Fredericksburg.

TRANSCRIPTION

Head Quarters Provost Marshal’s Office, Casey’s Division
[30 November 1862]

My Dear Brother,

Yours of the 21st came to hand promptly and I set myself down this evening to answer it.

Our Brigade has received marching orders to march tomorrow the 1st of December in light marching order with shelter tents. The destination is unknown and beyond conjecture. There is all sorts of stories about it — some saying they are going to Harper’s Ferry, others to Acqui Creek or near there, but none know and of course everybody is anxiously waiting to learn.

I suppose they will keep me here for the present, but even that I do not really know about, for if the greater portion of the division move, we shall follow them. If we should march, our duties would be to arrest all stragglers and deserters, and to prevent the sale of intoxicating drinks to soldiers on the route.

I have noticed in the papers the result of the election in New Haven, and it gratifies me mighty to know that every year we can beat them worse. It seems as though every man in the state had become sensible at last and was willing to correct his fault and vote the right way. So Sylvanus Butler ¹ could not stand prosperity any better than Bostwick. Well, he might have known that it would end in being cast from the Democratic ticket. There is no one to blame but himself.

I am rather afraid that Col. [Richard S.] Bostwick ² is not gaining popularity in his regiment from what I can hear (this is confidential — I would not have said that I ever mentioned his capacity for the position he occupies). He seems to be a little the other way, while Henry is spoken of very highly by the officers and members of the regiment. Himself and Major Bixby seem to be the best officers according to the expressions of the men.

I owe George a letter and should answer it tonight, but owing to the fact that I have written one to Father tonight and one to you, and having received one from George Northrop which I have not answered, and furthermore not having but three letter stamps in my possession tonight, I thought he would forgive me if I wrote to George Northrop tonight and answered his the very first opportunity. I have also received one from Cousin Minot but I shall not answer that until I have leisure.

The only fear that I have in regard to the moving of our brigade is that I shall not be able to get home for the Holidays as I anticipated. I have somewhat calculated on that, and really should be disappointed if I should fail. But of course if we are to have active operations in front, I want to be there. But still there is that longing to make a visit of a few days even which one in my position cannot avoid, no matter how determined he may be.

You have got coal up to a jolly good price, and “by the way,” I am burning coal in the room I occupy, which I draw from government. It is a very good article and makes a first-rate fire. I am very glad to know that Frank Hayes is doing so well in his new place. Please give him my respects and inform him that if I should ever get home again, I should be happy to be numbered among his customers.

We are having very pleasant weather at present although it is foggy and cold nights. As we are living now in warm Sibley tents furnished with stoves and comfortable rooms, I do not know what effect the change will have when the men come to live in shelter tents. I can only say that I think there will be some grumbling.

I have yet to write to George Northrop and so I will close this epistle with a reminder that you will be sure to tell George and Willie to whom I also owe a letter that I will answer them at the first opportunity. Give my love to all at home.

Your affectionate brother, — Walter


¹ Sylvanus Butler (1818-Aft1880) was a local land surveyor in New Haven County, Connecticut. He was elected town clerk of New Haven in November 1858 and still held the post in 1862, though I believe he was replaced in the November 1862 elections. In the 1880 Census, he is enumerated in New Haven as a 62 year-old “Civil Engineer.”

² Richard S. Bostwick of New Haven was elected Colonel of the 27th Connecticut Infantry — a 9 months organization that was mustered into service on 22 October 1862. Being a militia regiment, the choice of field officers was vested in those of the line. They saw their first taste of battle at Fredericksburg and lost one-third in killed and wounded of the 375 men who charged up the slope at Mary’s Heights. Col. Bostwick was wounded in the arm and taken prisoner during the Battle of Chancellorsville along with eight of the regiment’s ten companies.

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