1862-3: Amasa A. Hammond Letters

This letter was written by 16 year-old Private Amasa A. Hammond (1846-1898) of Co. K, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. Amasa was married to Nancy Holden Knight (1827-1909) in 1867. In 1860, just before the Civil War, he was enumerated in the household of Joseph and Ann Eliza Mitchell of Glocester, Providence, Rhode Island. In the same household was James B. Hammond (b. 1825) — a coal peddlar — and presumably a relative. The 1850 census (Glocester, Rhode Island) has Amasa enumerated in the household of James Hammond (b. 1785), probably his grandfather, and living with his (presumed) father, William Hammond (1817-18xx), and mother, Waitus (b. 1820). From the letters, it appears that his biological mother has died and his father has taken up with a woman that Amasa does not approve of — unless that “damn gap mouth of a woman” is some form of unusual term of endearment. Her name may have been Mary (“Molly”) Page or Paige. The only other relatives mentioned are his sister, “Ann Frances” and his uncle, “James Stick.”

Amasa enlisted in Company K, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery on 7 February 1862. He mustered out of the service on 20 July 1865. He transferred from Company K to Company C on 23 April 1864.

Amasa wrote the letters to his friend, James B. Coman (1840-1918), a mason, the son of David and Maria Coman of Glocester. James married Edward N. Steere’s cousin, Lucy Emma Steere (1852-1922) in 1872.

There is one letter in this collection written by Pvt. Henry M. Smith, also of Glocester, Rhode Island. Henry enlisted in Company K on 5 February 1862 and re-enlisted on 27 February 1864. He transferred to Company C with Hammond in 1864.

There are nine letters in this collection in total with the first being written from James Island, South Carolina on June 18, 1862 immediately following their participation in the battle of Secessionville, South Carolina where the Union forces were defeated in an attempt to capture Charleston. There is also a description of the Union defeat at the Battle of Pocotaligo Bridge.

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mr. James B. Coman, Greenville, Smithfield, Rhode Island

James Island [South Carolina]
June the 18th 1862

Dear Friend,

I now take my pen to let you know that I am well after returning from the battlefield [of Secessionville] and so did all the rest of the boys. Elias Sweet I will mention in this letter that he has got the best chance of any boy in the regiment taking care of the sick. Sam Sweet is out here in Co. E and so is the Stevens boys and the Edward boys. It was a horrible sight to see so many young fellows with their legs [note: handwriting of Edward Nelson Steere going forward] mangled in every form — but hold, for Ed wants to write you a word. Jim, take care of yourself and kiss all the girls for me and especially that one that wished you to say how fair you for her to me. I wish that I was where I could embrace her. Give my love to her and tell her that I shall see her soon. Jim, Put & Henry [M. Smith] and me are now all in one tent and are talking about Tot Waldron’s wiggling round and I suppose he has some of his nine shillings [   ] to drive to Peck Ford and to Winsor’s Mill. But enough; let Put finish.

[note: Amasa’s handwriting continues] So now I will finish. Edward came in just as I was writing about the wounded. Some had their hands off, some had their arms off, some with their head shot half off. Lieutenant [Isaac M.] Potter was wounded in the hand. We could not take the place because we didn’t have men enough but we have sent for twenty-five thousand men and a siege train and then we are going to try them again.

I have sent 25 dollars to my father and I Expressed it, and insured it, and sent it the 16th, and if he don’t receive it, [it is] their responsibility. And this is all that I can write you now and so I will bid you goodbye.

Prince [?] I suppose, is living and this story that I was wounded — it is a damn lie. — Amasa Hammond


 

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mr. James B. Coman, Greenville, Rhode Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina
August the 15th 1862

Dear Friend,

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you. I and all the boys are well that came out here with me.

I understand that the Governor of Rhode Island has issued orders to draft and if that news is true, you and the rest of the young fellows had better volunteer than to have to be drafted. This war is a hard one.

I will admit I have received two letters this month from Ann Eliza and received that box that they sent me but the things that they sent me to eat, they everything spoilt. [If] they had cook[ed] them right, they would keep.

James, if you have to enlist, I advise you to go in the navy for this carrying a knapsack wears a man out pretty quick.

I have sent for another box and will expect to get it about the 25th of August. I will write down so that if they don’t get my other letter, you can tell my father what to send. I want my razor, one bottle of laudanum [?] one pain killer, one peppermint, one pound of cream of tartar, one camphor, one [   ], and two [  ] of cigars, one [    ], two quarts of currants fixed so that they will keep, some huckleberries, eight mince pies with plenty of brandy in them so that they will keep, four cakes and I want them to mix them in brandy and put them in a soap box and if the things don’t fill the box, they can fill it up with anything that they think of.

This is the last letter that I shall write to Rhode Island till I receive the box and they can send this box in two days after you receive my letter. This is all that I have to write now and so I shall have to bid you good day.

From your friend, Amasa Hammond


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TRANSCRIPTION

Hilton Head, South Carolina
August the 20th 1862

I will try to write you a few lines this morning to let you know how the folks get along. The boys are all well and rugged as a grizzly bear. We expect to come North soon somewhere near of Richmond. I understand that they are drafting in Rhode Island. I am glad that I volunteered since they have commenced drafting. If I live the three years, I shall come home.

I want my father to take my best black coat and have it lined with black crepe and put in his trunk. That was the last citizen coat that I had on me. There ain’t much sight of settling this rebellion. The secesh is tough and hang like bulldogs but General Burnside will come at them when they don’t think of it and nock them in a cock[ed] hat.

I am going to send a box home and send a few secesh things home. They can look out for them about the 16th of September to Greenville Post Office, Rhode Island. I have sent you a letter since this and one to Ann Eliza, and one to Lyman S. Baggs within a few days, and sent for another box. I received my other box but the things spoilt. That was too bad. I wrote for another and wrote how I want them cooked [with] plenty of brandy.

James, I suppose that you are going to the shore to have a good time about this time. It is splendid to have a good [clam] roast on the beach. We don’t get no clams out here but plenty of oysters.

This is all that I [can] think of now and so I shall have to bid you goodbye for this time. Write soon and let [me] know how the Snake Hill folks get a long. Pringles [?] is living the last that I heard.

This is from a friend, — Amasa Hammond


TRANSCRIPTION

Hilton Head, South Carolina
September 26th 1862

Dear Friend,

I will try to let you know how the folks gets along. I am well and rugged as ever I was.

It seems that we have whipped them pretty bad at last [at Antietam].

I received your 3rd letter and was glad to hear that you was well. I haven’t had a letter since I got my box and that is about two months ago. I never shall beg for him to write. I wrote to you for him to send me another box and it appears that they don’t want to send it or else I should [have] had an answer from him. It don’t make a damn [  ] whether he sent the box or not. I expect that ’tis that damn gap mouth of a woman that he has got me beg [?]. He missed in course of 3 years if he don’t sooner.

James, I want you to keep on writing to me and mail your letters as you do till you receive further orders.

Samuel Sweet was taken sick and died the second day. Edward Steere is happy as a clam and so is Henry M. Smith. We expect to make a move soon towards Washington. They ain’t much news now that I get.

I want to know where my sister Ann Frances is and where Emer Paige is. Prince is living and doing well. James, I hope you will keep everything straight till I return.

This letter is from a friend, — Amasa Hammond


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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mr. James B. Coman, Greenville, Rhode Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina
October 3rd 1862

Dear Friend,

I now take my pen to let you know how I get along. I am well as usual. I have written several times to you and my other friends but I ain’t had a letter from home but once since I received my box. But I don’t care a damn whether they write or not. I have got a place to send my money and it will be safe. But when folks can’t send me so much as a paper or a box, I don’t care a damn. I know what makes the things so unpleasant — ’tis that long legged Paige. James, I am plain-hearted. I just as like you you would read this letter to her as not and rather you would.

They ain’t much news that I get. We are all together that came from that part and all well as usual.

James B. Coman, this is but eight months since I was to Ann Eliza’s. It seems like a dream. Samuel Sweet died a few days ago. I should like to see Prince about as well as anyone. If I ever live to come to Rhode Island, I shall call and see Ann Eliza.

James, I don’t think of anything more to write now at this time and so I shall have to close. James I want you to write soon and tell me what that damn gap mouth Paige said to this letter. I want my father to take that money that I sent home and get as drunk as he can before he lets her have any of it.

This letter is from a friend, — Amasa Hammond


TRANSCRIPTION

Hilton Head, South Carolina
October [8th?] 1862

Friend James,

I thought I would write you another letter to let you know how I get along. I am well as I ever was. I ain’t heard from my father since I received that box and that is about 3 months ago. I sent 50 dollars to a man pretty close by. I will tell you the reason why I didn’t send it to my father. I didn’t want it said that Miss Paige [  ] had it. I sent it to a good man so that I might have it if I ever have to come home.

James, I am in a hurry and so I shall have to write what I can and let go to that. The summer has been pretty short out here. Sometimes I dream of home and the things all look natural. James, I hope we shall all meet again to some good tavern and have a good drink and let go to that.

It is 8 months ago since I enlisted. Prince is living the last that I heard. James, I want you to tell me what the reason why my father don’t write. Does he think because I am ten or twelve hundred miles off he thinks that I don’t hear what he is doing. I hear from Rhode Island.

This letter from a friend, — Amasa Hammond, Co. K, 3rd Regiment Rhode Island, Hilton Head


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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to James B. Coman, Greenville, Rhode Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina
November the 26th 1862

Friend James,

Route of the Expedition to the Pocotaligo Bridge

Route of the Expedition to the Pocotaligo Bridge

I have received your letter the 21st day of November and was glad to hear that you was well. It seems that you heard that we had a fight and you didn’t hear no lie. I saw the fighting [in the Battle of Pocotaligo] but didn’t get in to it. Just as we got on the battlefield, the rebels got reinforced so fast that we had to retreat under the fire of the gunboats. It was the hardest sight that ever I saw except [at] James Island. The dead and wounded laid along for eight miles. We gathered up what we could of the wounded and carried them on board the boats and sent them to Hilton Head Hospital. That was the second fight for Co. K to be at.

James, here is a few lines to that woman of my father’s. You tell her that I know how much cigars is a box we well as she can tell me. I get a letter every time that the mail comes in from that part of the world. I know what the reason is that I don’t get any letters from father. It is that damn Mol[ly] Paige. You needn’t be afraid to let her hear this talk. Them that don’t like it may lump it. I talked it when I was to home and I talk it abroad. I shouldn’t write home to them again if I should be in the army 99 years. I don’t believe Ann Eliza any. I am the best off that I ever was. I get 13 dollars month and my board and clothes, and it is the best thing any young fellow can do. It agrees with me and I like the climate.

I had a bad cough when I left home and soon [as] I got out here, I got better and I weigh 157 pounds now the last time that I was weighed. I want you to answer this as soon as you receive it. This from from a friend, — Amasa Hammond


 

TRANSCRIPTION
[This letter written by Henry M. Smith, Co. K, 3rd R.I. Heavy Artillery]

Camp Stephen Olney
Hilton Head, South Carolina
November 25, 1862

Dear Friend James,

I take my pen in hand to write to you to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you the same.

Jim, I have had so many to write to that I could not write before. Amasa got one letter from you the 21st of November and was glad to hear from you that you was well. Edward Steere was glad to hear from you.

Jim, how is all the folks around Glocester? What do the folks think about this damn shittin’ war around there? I think it is about played out. I wish I was at home. I would like to go a fishing once more. Jim, I want you to write to me as soon as you get this letter and tell me how Nelson is and Stephen is and all the rest of the folks is. Write how my folks is — if they are all well.

Sam Waldren’s father runs up and down the road as usual from house to house like a damn fool.

Write soon as you get this letter. From your friend, — Henry M. Smith

Tell the folks I am well and rugged and in good health. H. M. Smith


 

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to James B. Coman, Greenville, Smithfield, Rhode Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina
April the 10th, 1863

Dear Friend,

I now take my pen to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope that these few lines will find you the same. Edward [Steere] is in the hospital yet. There is not much [chance] of him being any better but I hope that he will recover again. He is drawed all out of shape. Ed has tried for a discharge but it ain’t of no use. He can’t get it. This damn war will end soon but there ain’t much sign of it ending yet.

I had a letter from my mother. Tell Stephen Smith I answered it. I sent my likeness to Ann Eliza and ain’t had any news from it. Here is a line to my Uncle James Stick: Hang to Old Rhode Island, but don’t get a gun and a knapsack on your back marching down in South Carolina. But don’t say that you dared to leave Snake Hill for I shan’t believe it till I see you down here and then I shall think that the war is played out and the rebels has got their independence.

But enough of this, this time. We have left Hilton Head a week ago. We lay up to Stono River within 10 miles of Charleston City. Expect to make an attack every day. I saw by the papers that Martin Bishop is dead. Please ask Ann Eliza why she don’t write oftener. This is all that I think of now and so I will close.

This is from your friend, — Amasa Hammond

Direct your letters to Hilton Head they same and they will follow the regiment. Don’t care where I am. Give my best respects to all the boys that know me. — A. H.

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