This letter was written by 24 year-old private Private Dayton F. Reed (1839-18xx) of Barton, Tioga County, New York. He mustered into Co. C, 23rd New York Infantry at Owego, New York on 15 May 1861 at the age of 22. He mustered out of the service at Elmira in 23 May 1863.
Reed wrote the letter to his cousin, Huldah Lunn (1840-Aft1910), the daughter of Jesse Lunn, Jr. (1810-1880) and Almira Darling (1805-1872) of Wyndham, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Huldah married Henry Allen Peet (1847-1920) in 1870.
The 23rd New York Infantry belonged to the Army of the Potomac and fought in the major battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Fresh from the devastating loss at Fredericksburg, the 23rd “arrived near Belle Plain to provide protection for three boat landings along the bay on the the south bank of Potomac Creek. Marlena Patrick, the Provost Marshal to whom they were now assigned, separated the men of the 23rd New York to guard the three landings: Companies H, F, K, and C at lower or Pratt’s Landing; D, I, and E at Cottage Landing off Pratt’s Point extending out into the bay; and G, A, and B at the upper (or Belle Plain) Landing.”
The men at Pratt’s Landing found “comfortable quarters in sturdy Rebel-built cabins near Pratt’s Point in proximity to an abandoned Confederate earthen fort overlooking the entrance to Potomac Creek. The camp had access to good water, plenty of wood for fireplaces, and a panoramic view of the confluence of Potomac Creek and the Potomac River, often ‘spotted with the sails of schooners and streaked by the trailing cloud left by the swift passing steamers.'” [Source: Banners South: A Northern Community at War by Edmund J. Raus, page 240]
Reed’s letter contains a smilier, brief description of the camp of the 23rd New York Infantry near Pratt’s Landing, Virginia.
Addressed to Miss Huldah Lunn, Windham, Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Headquarters Co. C, 23rd Regiment New York State Volunteers
Pratt’s Landing, Virginia
March 11th 1863
Your letter of the 2nd has duly arrived. It found me in the enjoyment of good health & still on the sacred soil of Old Virginia. I do not know of any war news to tell you at present so I will repeat the old word which the newspapers have so often used which is, “all quiet on the Potomac.”
If I could, I should like to picture to your imagination the scene as it appears to me. Our camp is situated on the banks of the Potomac Creek opposite of Windmill Point. We can see all of the vessels & steamers that run from Washington & Fortress Monroe & in the mouth of the creek there is in full view of our camp, 228 barges & steamboats. The ground is bare, the weather warm & agreeable.
There is some talk of our coming home ‘ere long — say in six or eight weeks — but I don’t put any trust in such reports.
In your letter you said you got a letter from Herrick [Lunn].¹ When you answer this, please tell me where he is & what regiment he is in & where the regiment is if you know. I have not heard from him in two or three months.
As it is getting late, I will close for I want to write a few lines to Henry. So excuse poor writing and spelling. My respects to all.
Yours truly, — D. F. Reed
To Miss Huldah Lunn
¹ Pvt. Herrick Lunn (1832-1863) was Huldah’s older brother. He was married to Emily (“Emma”) Forrest (1836-1915) in 1859. He enlisted in Co. D, 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry on 28 October 1862. Ironically, Herrick died on 14 March 1863 just three days after this letter was written — a victim of typhoid fever. His place of death is given as Aquia Church, Virginia.