This letter was written by 1st Lt. (and later adjutant) William (“Will”) Sturgis Bond (1838-1899) of Co. B, 45th Massachusetts Infantry. William was the son of George William Bond (1811-1892) and Sophia Augusta May (1811-1841).
Will wrote the letter to his sister, Maria (“Molly”) Louisa Bond (b. 1844) of Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He also mentions his older brother Henry May Bond (1836-1864) who was serving as a sergeant in the same company. Henry later re-enlisted as an adjutant with the 20th Massachusetts Infantry and was mortally wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. Both Will and Henry graduated from Harvard in the Class of 1859.
The 45th Massachusetts Infantry — or “Cadet Regiment” — was one of the new militia regiments raised in response to the call of 4 August 1862, for nine-months troops. It received the title by which it was commonly known because of the fact that over forty of the commissioned officers of the regiment were former members of the Boston Cadets. Its commander, Col. Charles R. Codman, had served as Captain and Adjutant of the Boston Cadets during their period of service at Fort Warren in the early summer of 1862. Organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, in the early fall of 1862, the first eight companies of the 45th were mustered in on the 26th day of September, and the other two, “I” and “K”, on the 7th of October.
On 5 November 1862, the regiment embarked on the steamer Mississippi for Beaufort, N. C., arriving at its destination on the 15th. Transported by rail to Newbern, it was here assigned to Amory’s Brigade of Foster’s Division. The regimental camp was established on the banks of the Trent River near Fort Gaston. Here the 45th remained, following the regular routine of camp life, until 12 December 1862 when it set out with Gen’l. Foster’s expedition to Goldsboro. Only eight companies took part in this expedition, Co. “C” having been sent on special duty to Morehead City, and Co. ” G ” to Fort Macon. At Kinston, 14 December, the regiment had its first taste of real war, losing 15 men killed and 43 wounded. At Whitehall, 16 December, it was again engaged, losing 4 killed and 16 wounded. At Goldsboro on the 17th, the 45th was not in action, and on the following day it began its return march to Newbern, arriving at its former camp Dec. 21.
On 17 January 1863, the 45th started on a reconnaissance to Trenton, returning on the 22d. From 26 January to 26 April, it served as provost guard in the city of Newbern. During this period, on 14 March, occurred the Confederate attack on Newbern, of which the 45th was an interested spectator but was not called into action.
On 27 April, it started with Amory’s Brigade on an expedition to Core Creek on the railroad toward Goldsboro. On the following day it was sharply engaged, taking a Confederate work which crowded the railroad near its intersection with the Dover Road, and losing one man killed and four wounded. This expedition being ended, the regiment returned to its last camp, near Fort Spinola, just below Newbern, on the Trent. Here it remained until 24 June when it proceeded to Morehead City, a suburb of Beaufort, N. C., and there took transports for Boston. Arriving at its destination 30 June 1863, the regiment was formally welcomed, then proceeded to its old camp at Readville where it remained until its muster out of the service 8 July 1863.
New Bern [North Carolina]
February 25, 1863
Although I have not heard from anyone but Father since the 7th, I believe your letter dated then or there about yet remains unanswered. I received father’s letter dated the 20th which I wish you would acknowledge and for me thank him for the boxes coming & their contents. I suppose they have come in the Fahkee[?]. I shall enquire for them tomorrow as they may have come up by tonight’s train for Morehead City.
We have lead today an unusual show. I wish some of you had been here to enjoy it. Capt. [Thomas Beales] Wale’s and Lt. [Alpheus H.] Hardy’s wives, Dr. Hone’s [Charles D. Homans?], Dr. [Samuel] Kneeland’s wives. Miss Wales & Emmons have come safely to hand right side up with care &c.
Last night on dress parade we were notified that the lines would be formed at 8½ A.M. for a Grand Review of the 18th Army Corps. To do this, our guard had to stand thro’ today (as it takes ½ of our effective men every day). The other half were started off punctually and when we arrived on the ground the other side of the Point. We found to our satisfaction that in position we now came at the top of the heap, being on the right 1st Brigade, 1st Division under Gen’l. [Innis Newton] Palmer. He being absent, Col. [Thomas J. C.] Amory had the Division, Col. [Charles R.] Codman the Brigade. When the Brigades were all arranged in their proper places, we occupied a front extending from the camp by the railroad to the woods beyond the 43d camp and then was brigade was doubled on center. Father will well remember the length of the field.
I was surprised to find that we had so many troops left here after some 10,000 had been sent to Port Royal. The show commenced about 11½. Ranks being opened, down came the Gen’l and staff to the right. We went through the preparatory examination and then had time while the Gen’l passed up the lines to smoke a cigar comfortably. Then closed ranks & took up our march by company front. Our band was complimented as keeping the best marching time and in consequence gave the Gen’l a very good serenade this evening from which I have just returned. Our men marched very well and the regiment is considered here as one of the best in drill and discipline. We could not make a very tremendous show with 250 men but did our best. I should say we had at least 15,000 effective men here in infantry and as much artillery as they could support. The line was at least 1½ hours in passing a given point.
We got home about 2. The men rested until 4½ and then were mounted on guard where they stay until tomorrow. Lt. [Alpheus H.] Hardy [of Co. E] was on guard when his wife arrived and was not relieved until tonight. Is that the Cup of Tantalus? I am in hopes the morning will find the Dudley back at the pier. You cannot surely have forgotten us during the last fortnight.
They have had a very successful Ball [on Washington’s Birthday, 23 March 1863] at the 44th [Massachusetts Infantry’s] Barracks like the one we had at Fort Warren. [Our brother] Henry saw it. I had a cold and did not venture out. I understand it was very successful. Your flag ¹ was lent for the occasion. I enclose the programs. They have just the theater for such things. Gen’l Parker & staff were present. As the note indicates, they are going to push the ball. I shall endeavor to be present at the opera and theatricals. The opera [a libretto] is written by Corp’l [Zenas T.] Haines [of Co. D, 44th Massachusetts Infantry] — the correspondent to the [Boston] Herald. There were some very pretty girls reported present and they rendered an account of themselves during the evening. Maria teases you well my own dear love, and with love to all, fare thee well. — Will
¹ This state of Massachusetts banner was commissioned by “nearly one hundred ladies” who contributed funds to have it made and presented to the 45th Massachusetts in Boston in October 1862. Mollie L. Bond’s name appears as one of the contributors.