1864: Walter Nathaniel Little to Eliza Ann (Potter) Little

How  might have looked

How Walter might have looked

This letter was written by Walter Nathaniel Little (1822-1904), the son of William S. Little (1792-1889) and Lura Manuring (1799-1877) of Farmersville, Cattaraugus County, New York. Walter married Eliza Ann Potter (1824-1886) in May 1844. He was a farmer in Cattaraugus County before enlisting in February 1862 in the 105th New York Infantry. A year later he transferred as a private into Co. K, 94th New York Infantry in March 1863. A year later he was appointed a wagoner (teamster). He was discharged from the service on 24 February 1865.

Walter’s eldest son, Adelbert Walter Little (1846-1876) served with him in Company K, 94th New York Infantry. Adelbert was wounded in action on 6 February 1865 at Hatcher’s Run, Virginia and was subsequently discharged for disability at Point Lookout, Maryland.

Walter’s eldest daughter, Amelia Little was married to Edward Curtis sometime after 1860.


Camp near Park Station, Va.
December 6th 1864

My ever dear Wife,

Edward Curtis and wife, Amelia (Little) Curtis

Edward Curtis and wife, Amelia (Little) Curtis (ca. 1875)

Having a few leisure moments this morning, I thought I would spend them in writing a few lines to you and the children to let you know that we are well and hope these few lines will find you the same and the children also. I received your letter of November 29th this morning and in it I found three stamps. I was glad to hear that you was well and the rest of the family but I was sorry to hear that Edward and Amelia did [not] like it because I did not write to them but I can not help it. But if they could see how it has been with me for the last four months, they would not feel hard towards me for not writing oftener to them for in the last three months I have wrote many a letter when I could not write but a few lines at a time before I had to rest awhile and then go at it again. But I have said enough on that subject. But before I leave it, I want them to understand that it is no lack of a parent’s love towards them that I don’t write oftener but a cause that I can’t avoid. You said Edward wrote to me and mailed it to Hinsdale. I got the letter and answered it but I guess he never got it so I don’t think I am to blame. This is the last time that I shall tell the reason why I don’t write for I have told the truth about it. Yes and in a letter long time ago. Amen, so let it be.

Well our Corps broke camp yesterday and marched about 2 miles and camped for the night. I went with them but came back to camp again just at night. There I remain yet but I expect every moment to get orders to hitch up and pack up. Oh, I dread it for we have got such a nice warm shanty. I hate to leave it but there is [no] use to whine for we have got to come up to the rack, fodder or no fodder. The Sixth Corps has took our place on the Weldon Railroad but where our corps is a going, I know not. But they have started down on the left. But we surmise that we are a going down to Weldon about 50 miles but we don’t know for certain. There is a move somewhere. But if there should come one of the Virginia storms, the troops would suffer dreadful for their dog tents are poor things to keep out of the storm.

Well you spoke about sending a whip in your letter. It would get here just in time but you need not to have been to that trouble if you had come yourself for our camp is right in the woods and I would [have] went out with you to cut one if you would agree not to hurt me.

Adelbert Little (ca. 1875) lost his right arm at Hatcher's Run, Va. in February 1865

Adelbert Little (ca. 1875) lost his right arm at Hatcher’s Run, Va. in February 1865

Well [our son] Adelbert is with the rig now. He is tough and hardy. He tents with Daniel & George A. Stoneman ¹ and Ben Nichols. ²

[Ink spill]  There, I have got this page spoiled so I will wait till evening before we go farther with this letter.

Well, we will try another page and see what we can write. You spoke about the 152 Regiment. I have not saw it and I would not no where to look for it for I don’t know what corps it is in or division. So a man might as well look for a need le in a hay mow. But I may run on to the regiment sometime and if I do, I will tell you. A teamster in the army don’t get much chance to run around — only with his team, and that is as much as he can stand the most of the time. If you had been here the other day, you could see what I was about. When I had a moment to spare, my jacket back was gone and I went to work and put another in and fixed my pants, darn my socks, and then we wash once in awhile. All these things take time.

Good evening, little flock. How are you? One and all well, I hope. I feel well — only a little crossed grain for we have got [to] leave our shanty early in the morning and go to where the troops are and take up our abode again in our wagon till we can get time to build again. We was serve just so last winter. We built two shanty. We have been in this just a week tonight but before this reaches you we will have another one. It all helps to pass away time.

There, my meat has boiled dry there. I have sat it down before the fire to stew till I go to bed. Well, there has lots of troops gone by this afternoon on the cars to the left. O if the weather holds good, there will be a rattling among the dry bones somewhere in Dixie.

Well, here we come on the last page of this sheet and what shall we write. Shall I keep right on with my nonsense or shall I try and write something sentimental or shall I write about this little war of ours that has got to be an old old story. But after all, when a man go out of camp a few rods and stubs his toe against a human scull, it brings it fresh to his mind that someone has got hurt around here. I could send you a good set of teeth if you wish them, or a shin bone or a forearm or a rib. All these lay here on the ground a knocking around like any carrion bones. I presume if you should be a walking along and come upon one of these human skeletons a laying on his back a grinning at you, you would leave on double quick or quid a quady there on the spot. All this have I seen under the sun. Yes, and I have had my thought on the subject but I guess you don’t want to hear anymore about this war.

Oh, there is one thing more. I want to ask you how [you] would like to have a ring made out of a reb’s shin bone. They look like ivory. Such things are done here and they make body’s of the same and then put the corps mark on them. When you want any of these articles of this kind, just let me know. But I don’t like that style.

Well, I must bid you goodbye for this time with the hope that it won’t be long before we shall meet. Be a good girl and I will make you a nice present when I get home. — Walter N. Little

¹ George A. Stoneman —Corporal, Co. D, One Hundred and Fifth Infantry; transferred to Co. K, this regiment, March 10, 1863; promoted sergeant, December 1, 1863; first sergeant, September 15, 1861; discharged, March 8, 1865.

² Benjamin P. Nichols —Private, Co. K, One Hundred and Fifth Infantry; transferred to Co. K, this regiment, March 10, 1863; re-enlisted as a veteran, February 11, 1861; promoted corporal, January 1, 1865; sergeant, May 1, 1865; mustered out with company, July 18, 1865, at Balls Cross Roads, Va., as Nickols.


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