These thirteen letters were written by Private Halsey Bartlett (1831-1864), a member of Co. A, 6th Connecticut Infantry. They were part of a large collection of Bartlett’s letters sold at auction some time ago. Most of the letters were written to his beloved sister and his mother between September 1861 when the regiment was mustered into the service and the time that Bartlett was cut down by a sniper’s bullet at Bermuda Hundred on 17 June 1864.
In a letter from Sergeant Earl W. Fisher to his uncle (likely Bartlett’s father), dated 18 June 1864, less than three weeks after Bartlett’s last letter, Fisher relayed the sad news: “It has become my very sad duty to inform that cousin Halsey was Killed yesterday while on Picket-duty in front of our Battery. He was instantly Killed by a Rebel sharp shooter while in the Rifle pits. The ball entering in the right side and passing up through the heart. He only spoke and asked the boys to carry him off quick and died…. I thought you could break the very sad news to Aunt much better than I could so I write to you the facts as they are to me.”
Halsey was the oldest of at least ten children born to Richard Bartlett (1807-1861) and Christina S. Fisher (1806-1885) of Killingly, Windham County, Connecticut. Only three of the children, however, grew to be adults. Halsey wrote most of these letters to his mother but occasionally to his 20 year-old sister Christina Fisher Bartlett (1844-1916) who married Benjamin Whipple Carpenter in the late 1860s.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Port Royal Island
Sixth Reg. Co. A Connecticut Vols.
January 6th 1862
Your last letter I received from home was dated Dec. 10th 1861. I have wrote one since that time but have received none from home. But thinking you would like to hear from me, I now write you a few lines. I am well and hope these few lines may find you enjoying good health.
All the Dayville boys are well as usual except bad colds. Clovis [Hammond] is well and enjoys himself first rate and so is Horatio. We don’t have much to do now except to drill. We drill about 4 hours in a day. The rest of the time we have to ourselves. There was 4 boxes come here by express for this company but none for any Dayville boys. It is said that we had a box a coming but have not received any yet, If you send me a bundle or box, put in such as I need and nothing else for it will do me no good out here.
We had new tents here last week — the regular army tents. There is just room enough in them for five to sleep in and snug work at that. We have eighteen tents to a company.
There was a smart battle on the opposite shore on the other side of this island. Our troops gained the victory by taking the fort at the head of Hilton Head Bay ¹ and 10 field pieces of artillery (brass) and 3 Columbiads with a loss of 17 men on our side and (80) eighty on the other side. Our regiment was not in the battle. After which our troops followed them up to Bluffton and they had another fight which was in our favor. Our troops followed them to a creek where they could not get away and they had to surrender. They raised the flag of truce and we took seven hundred prisoners with a great loss of lives on both sides. Our loss was small compared to the other side. We expected to go to the fight with them. Our regiment was called into line of battle on New Years Day. The orders were to be in readiness to march at any moment, but we did not go for the order was countermanded and we returned to our quarters. Our boys are anxious to go into battle.
Our boys don’t one of them like our First Lieutenant [Arnold Leach] very well. He is cross and crabbed but Horatio is liked by everyone in the company.
One of our boys has just come into our tent with a box of raisins and a can of pears, a bottle of snuff, a can of milk, and a pound of tobacco and a pound of sugar and told us to help ourselves and we are enjoying ourselves finely over them. So you see, we don’t have all drill music. If we did, we should be homesick.
Oh how I should like to be at home. Tell Chris we will have a good time when I come home if I am spared ever to come home — as good a time as we ever had in our life. Don’t expect to be in “The Bloody Wards” forever. There is a better time coming.
You write me and write all of the news you can think of. How are they up Uncle James? You can let him have my letters [to] read if you are a mind to but don’t care about everyone in creation reading my letters. Give my love to Aunt’s folks and tell them [I] have not wrote to anyone but my folks but am going to write to them before long. Tell Judson he may expect a letter from me. Give my love to him.
From your son, — Halsey
¹ Halsey is referring to the Battle of Port Royal in which the US Navy and Army collaborated to capture Forts Walker and Beauregard on opposite sides of the entrance to Port Royal Sound. Due to weather, the army was not able to land but a heavy navy bombardment was able to disable the Confederate guns forcing the evacuation of both forts.
Beaufort, South Carolina
August 4, 1862
Sixth Regt. Co. A Conn. Vol.
I received your very kind and welcome letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you and to hear you were well but sorry that Christiana’s knee is no better. I am well. Was on guard yesterday. Came off this morning. It rained quite hard most of the time but today the sun is shining hot enough to melt me down. We have very hot weather down here in Dixie, but you know I am used to warm weather, we have had so much of it.
Am very sorry to hear of Mrs. Fisher’s death. How you and all with whom she was acquainted with will miss her in every day life. What a good woman and neighbor. What a good Christian. Oh Mother, if we all loved our Maker and Preserver as well as she did and lived so near to him, what a life it would be. What a character to leave behind — not a blemish in it. I have said to myself sometimes when thinking of her, “Oh that I might be as good as she is.” When I read of her death in your letter, I could not refrain from shedding a few tears but “life is uncertain and death is certain.” I have been thinking for some time past that I must prepare for his great change for “what shall a man profit if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”
We had three funerals here last week. Two were buried out of our regiment and one in the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania. There is a graveyard about one-third of a mile from here where there is fourteen buried in a trench — all from a Michigan regiment and all buried at once at the time of the battle here last winter and six of a New Hampshire regiment were buried at the same time.
Lieutenant Colonel Ely of our regiment has been promoted to Colonel of the Fourteenth Connecticut Regiment. He went from here to take his command yesterday. Col. Ely was a nice man. He was a gentleman in every respect. Our regiment — or most of them — miss him. as a soldier he is fitted for the post which has been assigned to him. Major [John] Speidel is to take his place. He too is a gentleman in every respect. Don’t know who will be major of this regiment but think Captain Tracy of Company G will take his place. He is a good man and fully competent for the post. Our company in respect and for the love we had for Col. Ely subscribed seventy dollars towards getting a sword on which will be engraved, “Presented by the Soldiers of Windham County in Company A, 6th Reg. Conn. Vol. to Col. Wm. G. Ely for the respect they showed him as a Soldier and a Gentleman. Arnold Leach, Captain Commanding.” I gave one dollar towards the sword.¹
You wish to know how I fare here now. I will tell you we live very well now. We have soft bread everyday, beef and pork everyday, beans twice a week, fresh meat once a week. We are going to have a fresh meat soup from dinner with soft bread, a plenty of tea & coffee morning and night, water at noon. In fact, we live as well as can be expected for camp life.
We are going to have new tents and have them all floored. I have nothing to do today because I was on guard last night. That excuses me from all duty today. We drill two hours a day so you see we have from eight o’clock in the morning until five at night to ourselves to do as we choose. The soldier’s life is a lazy life to live. When I come home, don’t know as I shall be able to do anything for I shall be so lazy. Don’t think of any more to write. My love to you and sis and Keziah. You kiss Keziah for me, won’t you?
My love to all. From your affectionate son, — Halsey
Clovis [Hammond] is well and in good health.
¹ William G. Ely served as lieutenant colonel of the 6th Connecticut infantry and was afterward elected colonel of the 18th regiment. On 13 June 1863, in charge of the 2d brigade, he advanced upon the Fort Royal pike, and, while in action, was made a prisoner. He was confined in Libby prison, Richmond, Virginia, till the following February when, with 108 other officers, he escaped through the famous tunnel dug under Twentieth Street. About fifty of the party were recaptured, among them Colonel Ely, in a state of great exhaustion. He was taken by cavalry 42 miles out, after being absent 4 days, and returned to the prison. A few weeks later he was paroled, and returned north, his exchange following. On 17 May 1864. he rejoined his regiment, and commanded it at the battle of Piedmont on 4 June 1864. On 18 June in the advance toward Lynchburg, he was wounded in the throat and temporarily disabled. In August he was assigned to the command of a brigade, and in September was brevetted a brigadier general.
Beaufort, South Carolina
November 20, 1862
6 Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
I received three letters from you and one from Christina yesterday — the first mail we have had in four weeks and I tell you it was quite a treat to hear from home. I am well and in good health. Have not been to the doctors for any medicine since I came on to this island. Came here last June. Was glad to hear that you were all well at home. The mail has not all arrived yet. When it does, I think I shall get some papers.
I came off guard this morning. Had a very good night last night to stand but this morning it is wet and rainy. It is warm here as in Mat at home. I received my Express about a week ago and all you mentioned in your letter was there except the currant jelly that I asked Hammond about. He said it was up to his tent. I went after it and he said he could not find it. Said someone had taken it. But I guess he knew where it went to. I never got the jelly.
Many thanks to you, dear mother, for your kindness in sending me the things I wished for. The drawers I do not care about but am sorry you did not send me the pills for I have the headache sometimes and a dose of them does me good. The things are just what I wanted. That cheese was excellent — tasted some like Mrs. Whipples’ cheese she use to make. Many thanks to Mrs. Sherman for her kindness. Give my love to her (I ain’t in the habit of sending my love to married women but I will for once) and tell her I am much pleased with the comforter. How nice it will be in a cold night. How came her to be so thoughtful? Can I even pay her for her kindness? But you never sent me any postage stamps. I sent a twenty-five cent bill to Christina for some stamps but have not got them.
I don’t know as there is much of anything new to write. We have moved our camp closer to the city. We have a much better camp now than we had before. We have taken over winter quarters up here and I guess we shall stay here all winter and perhaps until the war is over for I do not think we shall have any more fighting. I think it is about played out (this war). There is one of the soldiers belonging to Co. C to be drummed out of this regiment tomorrow for cowardice in the late [Second] Battle at Pocotaligo. He, when [near where] the battle was, heard the first gun from the Secesh and it scared him so he run and left the ranks. He said he was not going to have his brains blowed out. He was taken and court martialed and sentenced to have head head shaved and drummed out of the regiment. Oh what a disgrace to him. But he will get home. I would not disgrace myself so for all the world. ¹
The Seventh Connecticut Regiment is here in Beaufort yet. I saw Jobey Bowen Sunday. He is sick with the rheumatics and is going to get his discharge and is coming home. He has not done any duty for more than six months. Clovis is well and in good health. I am sorry Judson is so much out of health. Poor fellow. And Earl cannot get his discharge. I am sorry for them both.
Well, I must close. My love to all, you and Christina. From your loving son, — Halsey Bartlett
¹ The soldier was Pvt. Frank A. Schmeisser of New Haven, Connecticut. Regimental records indicate he was drummed out of Co. C, 6th Connecticut Regiment, on 21 November 1862. Frank was born in Bavaria, Germany, about 1835. He became a naturalized citizen in 1867 and worked as a machinist in New Haven after the war. Frank was fortunate to avoid execution which was the fate of two members of the 6th Connecticut found guilty of desertion in 1864.
Beaufort, South Carolina
December 1st 1862
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
The last letter I received from you was mailed November 17th. It was received with the greatest of pleasure and I forget whether I have answered it or not. I will write you this sheet over if I can find words enough. We have another mail at Hilton Head which will be here tonight. If I hear from home again in the mail, I will answer it by writing more.
I am not very well but am on light duty — that is, doing light work around camp. Our regiment has gone to the Ferry again on picket. I was or did not feel able to go so got excused from going out with the company. So I am in camp but I feel better now but guess as they have left me in camp I shall see how it will seem to be here all alone — or nearly alone — only six of us here in camp belonging to this company. You see I shall not have anything to do for the next ten days and I am all right.
Oh, how kind you are dear Mother to me to say you will send me another box. Now Mother, do you thin it would be prudent in me to have another box sent to me? If you do, why you can send it but send it in my name by Adams express to Beaufort, S. C., Sixth Reg., Co. A Conn. Vol.
Well, Mother, I don’t want you to send any more Express with Clovis’ again. If we cannot afford to pay the Express, I won’t have anymore come. I got your last Express all right but the jelly that Mrs. Sherman sent I asked Clovis [Hammond] about it and he said it was up to his tent. I went for it two or three times and he was not there. He come and asked me if I had got it. I told him no. He said he guessed someone had stole it. I never got it. I guess he knew where it went too but don’t let his folks know anything about it. They won’t like it — my writing so. But I have said nothing — only what is true about it. I’ll not have any more to do with him about it.
Just received a letter from Christina and a page from you. What a kind letter you wrote and Chris too. Now ain’t it funny to think of that William Fields is married and to Juliett Thomas? I hope they will live in peace.
The day I put in your last letter in the Box we had our mail robbed of some fifty lettrs and six or eight pictures. The letters contained about fifty dollars in money. They have got a young man belonging to Co. I, 6th C. V. on suspicion of committing the deed. He will be tried for robbing the U.S. Mail. They think there is sufficient proof against him to commit him. If it is proved against him, it will go hard with him. I guess I will take another sheet.
I have shirts, drawers, socks enough. I would like two or three pair of white gloves, half a dozen good stout clay pipes, two or three papers of smoking tobacco, some towels — say two or three — and a few pounds of this same good tobacco such as you sent last. Now those shirts were excellent that you sent me. I saved fifty sents a pair by having them sent from home. They cost one dollar and seventy-five to two dollars apiece here. I would like a pair of woolen gloves for when on guard nights. It is very cool. Blue ones or blue mixed and some of the Wright’s Indian Vegetable Pills. And now, if you send me a box, you can send me these things and a quire or two of writing paper and a few white envelopes. And you can send anything else you like. Tobacco here is 75 cts per pound and everything else so high I am not going to buy anymore at these high prices here now.
If you send me these things, I can save my money and send it home and it will do you more good than it will these soldier robbers. I also got four papers — two Watchman’s, one Press, and a Transcript. Many thanks to Mrs. Sherman for her kindness in sending me those papers for I do like to read and they are good papers too. Also in sending me these things in the Express. How kind in her.
Now Mother, there is not much news here to rely on but have just heard that Burnside is in Richmond two miles in advance of the Rebels but nothing reliable. This is cheering news — too good to be true. Clovis [Hammond] is well and in good health. Our colonel has gone home — also our chaplain has gone home. There is no Yellow Fever here now. Our captain has got well and is on duty the same as ever.
The weather here for the past two weeks has been quite cool but it now very warm. Do you have any sleighing up North? We have had no snow yet but some very heavy frosts and some ice.
A party of Rebels tried to land at the Capen Plantation where we go on guard but were relieved the trouble by the firing of muskets — a whole company firing on them (two boatloads of the Rebels some thirty in number) and killing quite a number. They skedaddled and went back as fast as they could. This is the third time they have tried to land but Yankee too much for them.
I have wrote all the news I can think of so I will draw my ill-written letter to a close. My love to all. My love to you and Christina from your son, — Halsey
Beaufort, South Carolina
December 21st 1862
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
Have been thinking that I should write to Christina now. I am going to write a “wee bit of a note” to my “wee bit of a sister.” Well, her I sit in my tent beside a good fire with pen in hand for it is very cool outdoors here now and we have furnaces in our tents and a fire feels good. It froze quite hard here last night. I suppose you have snow and good sleighing where you are.
There is not much news to write now. I am well and in good health. Hope these few lines may find you in good health. I had a letter from Mother last night dated December 7 & 8th. was glad to hear from home to hear you were well. I also had a letter from Benj. N. Thomas. Accept of this tract and read it and let them read it — both very good letters. The mail had not all arrived last night but this morning the rest of it came I had one from Cousin Judson and one from friend Elizabeth. Oh: What good letters she does write — a real Christian’s letter. Oh if I was but half as good as she is, but I am not. I believe it there ever was a Christian, she is one.
How do you like going to school? Do you like as well as you expected? How many scholars does your school number? Are there any large scholars go? Well Christina, improve the time while you have an opportunity. How do you and Albert B[allou] get along now? I suppose now while I am writing you and he are enjoying yourself in some way or other together.
I don’t have to do very much duty now. Have to go on guard once in 15 days but have to drill five days in a week four hours each day. This is not much work for a soldier but it is cool weather now. I have often thought how the soldiers on the Potomac stand it this cold weather — it is so cold weather up there. Oh how I pity them this cold weather, don’t you?
I have wrote home I think this is the fourth letter this month and have had but one answer from them. I also received four papers in the last mail of this morning. The Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment have gone from here to Fernandina, Florida. Now we have but five regiments of infantry here, two companies of cavalry, four sections of Connecticut battery and three companies of the First United States Artillery. There is one company of New York Engineers. This is sufficient to take care of this place or I have never had any fears of any Secesh troubling us and never since I have been out have I had any fears of any Secesh coming round.
They call the Sixth Connecticut Volunteer Regiment the best drilled, the best manners, the best to do duty of any regiment in Beaufort and while on picket out to the plantations, are liked the best, and while on duty of any kind, always do their duty right “up to the handle.” So says our generals and they call us the “Bully Sixth.” Why call us the “Bully Sixth?” Because we always do our duty so well while on duty and are never afraid to do anything when called on. The Seventh Connecticut are called the “Fancy Reserve.” The Bull Sixth have been where the Seventh Connecticut dare not go but self praise goes but little ways. But it is so.
My love to all. My love to you. From your affectionate brother, — Halsey Bartlett
Beaufort, South Carolina
January 17, 1863
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
I received your very kind and welcome letter in our last mail. Was very glad to find you enjoying yourself so well and mother too and Aunt’s folks. I am well and in good health. Never felt better. Never was more healthy in my life than I do now. I am very glad you get all my letters but I would like to have them all answered. You see that I answer all you send me and write some more. I love to write to my dear friends. How pleasant it seems to me to take my pen in hand and converse with you for an hour or more in writing but there will be a time when I shall come home and then pen and ink will no more be needed by us in conversation with each other. No dear sister, we can talk without all this trouble of writing. But I do so love to write to you and Elizabeth. What good letters you and she does write. Is not she a good girl? I’ll bet she is. Oh I wish I might be half as good as she. I received a letter from her in the last mail and what a good letter it was too. It seems to me she writes some of the best letters or as good as I wish to read.
Well done. Go to a sing and get to playing ring plays and kissing one another. Ha! Ha! Ha! What is this world coming to? What was Lizzie and another talking about when you were writing and talking so fast to? Am sorry you had the headache so hope you will feel better in reading this letter than you did in writing mine. Now I feel tip top in writing to you.
What a change has come over Dayville in the removal of the Lelands. Don’t know but I shall have to go to New York State and work for them when I come home. Then you are going to be an old maid? Ain’t so blue as you was or don’t think so much as you did about Albert Ballou as you did? Quite a change came over the spirit of your dreams.
I have not got my box yet but shall get it in a few days. But don’t think anything will spoil that is in it for it is such cool weather. It is quite cool here today and the wind blows too quite hard.
I heard of both of the Union victories you spoke about before. I am glad to hear of a Union victory anytime. There was an expedition started from here made up of a small force from the several regiments here and Hilton Head. They went down on the coast of Florida to capture a lot of lumber from the Rebels but when going up Nassau River, they were fired at by the Rebels. Our men fired back and by their tell, some of them were killed or wounded. Our men went ashore and found that the Rebels had burned the lumber and they had to go farther down on St. John’s River and get a lot of lumber that was there. They got their lumber and came home. Was gone ten days. Went some ninety miles. Two of the Third Rhode Island boys got killed but none out of our regiments either killed or wounded. I did not go but 20 — twenty — out of our company went.
There is another expedition to start from Port Royal soon — Commodore Dupont with five ironclad gunboats, with a few regiments, is to attack Charleston. He thinks he can take the city in five hours. He is going to try it at any rate. If he is successful, this war will be played out, I think. I shall be at home by next fall or in six or eight months.
I saw the poetry in the Transcript you speak about. I never saw any of “Mauds” Poetry before but this this very good. But who is this “lonely woman on the hill?”
As I have but little paper to spare, I draw to a close. I have written to Uncle James and to cousin Judson and this to you and am going to write one to Elizabeth. I have got eighteen letters that I have received since first of December. Don’t you think I write some? Write soon. My love to you and mother. My love to Elizabeth.
From your loving and affectionate brother, — Halsey Bartlett
Beaufort, South Carolina
February 22, 1863
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines. I am well and in good health. I received a letter from mother last night. was very much pleased in reading the contents of the letter to find you all in so good health. There is not much news to write but what there is I will give you.
I worked yesterday on the breastworks shoveling. They have the breastworks most done. They have some very large guns to mount on the works. They were captured on a Battery at James Island while we were there.
It is so near Spring I guess we shall stay here till then. We have had no marching orders as yet. Our colonel has not come back. We expected him on this last boat but he did not come. He got left in New York. I wish he was here for we have no commander worth much to drill our regiment. Our chaplain has not come back either. So you see, our regiment is deficient of officers. Our Captain (Leach) is going to have a furlough and is going home. I guess he will go on the next steamer north.
Well Christina, I hardly know what to write but I will try to fill up this sheet with something or other. I had a letter from Spencer, Massachusetts, from Judson H. Fisher. He was well and had let himself to work in a boat shop for one year. He is in the same shop with Uncle Bemis. He is making keels.
How glad I am you have heard from Dwight. Now I feel better to think he has wrote wrote. I thought he would write you some time and let you know where he is. When you write him again, you give my love to him and tell him to write me. I wrote him a letter while at Warsaw and he never wrote me. Never answered the letter. Don’t mother feel better now she has heard from him?
The weather down here is quite warm — so warm that I sweat sitting in my tent. It is a rainy day today and is raining quite fast.
Now dear sister, be a good girl and do what you can to help mother for you know she has trouble enough and is plagued enough. So be kind to her and cheer her on in her lonely path. Now I and all of the folks around here anticipate coming home in or by another Autumn for I think this war is going to be settled up.
It must have been very cold up there — six degrees below zero. I have not seen any such cold weather down here but have seen it so warm that I wished it was cold weather.
We heard quite a noise of the booming of cannon. It was our own gunboats firing away at a large battery about a mile long up near Savannah. Our folks routed them out and took the fort or battery.
You tell mother to not worry any about me for I am well and can take care of myself and when this war is over, I shall come home as soon as I can get there. I want to come home now so bad I don’t know what to do. Now isn’t it bad to want to come home and can’t? You give my best respects to Dr. Hammonds folks and tell them that Clovis [Hammonds] is well and in good health. I had a letter from Lieut. [Horatio] Blanchard. He was well and in good health. He sent me his photograph. It looks just as he did while in our company. I will close. Give my love to all the folks on the hill. My love to you and mother and Elizabeth. My best respects to her. From your brother, — Halsey
I wish you were here to go in to the entertainment. I have a free pass to go in. So do all members.
Beaufort, South Carolina
March 11th 1863
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn. Vol.
I am now going to try to write you a letter and it is going to be from your soldier son in the army. Your son is well and in good health. Ws very glad to find you in good health at home and at Aunt’s too. I got your letter dated March 1st, one from Ella dated March 1st, one from Aunt Nancy dated February 21st in our last mail which came yesterday, also one paper — Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News. Am obliged to you for writing so often. I would like to hear from you oftener if I could.
I will give you all the news I can think of. Our regiment went on fatigue out to the breastwork. We are clearing up the land as far as our large guns will carry towards the ferry so in case of an attack by the Rebels there will be no chance from them to secret themselves behind anything to conceal themselves.
Our regiment has not gone on the expedition. Now don’t you think we are lucky not to have ot go? I think so. Well you know I am one of the lucky sort (at least it seems so). The expedition has not all gone yet.
Have you got the Free South‘s I sent you yet? There was two I have sent you. You can let Uncle James’s folks take them to read after you have read them. I have just heard that General Saxton is to be married this evening.
Things groceries are very high at home, ain’t they? About as high as out here. Good tea here is worh $1.25 per lb.
I have not received a Transcript since date first week in February. I got the Press and Messenger. How glad I am you have enough to make you comfortable. How happy it makes me feel to think you are comfortable. I am so sorry you could not have any money sent at our last settling. I wanted to but could not but I will next time send you enough to make it all up. And if you don’t need it all, lay it up for a rainy day or until you do need it. How glad I am when I get a letter from you to find you in good health. I don’t remember of having a letter from you which stated that you were unwell since I have been in the army. This is very remarkable. I think there was a young man — a soldier in Fourth New Hampshire — that shot (by accident) a wormer ¹ through his wrist — careless fellow!!
Well mother, we are going down hill now. We have got up eighteen steps (months) and reached the top pf the hill and we have got one more step nearly completed towards our going down. I shall be glad when we get to the bottom again for then I can come home and see the folks.
The weather here is quite warm. I wish you could visit Beaufort and look at the beauties of nature. How nice the trees look all in bloom and the roses too such a climate as this is. I am almost tempted to buy me a spot of ground when the war is over [and] live down here. So warm, I have not seen any what you may call real cold weather down here. I wish this was over now. I agree with you, there are too many northern sympathizers and there are many that are getting great pay that would as live this war would last no matter how long. Now are they true Union men?! They came out here to fight for their country and took the oath to support their country and stand by the Stars and Stripes. Are they doing all this? Are they true to their country? No, they are traitors. Oh, I scorn such and blush to think we have such men. But alas, it is too true.
My paper is growing short and I close. Write soon. My love to you and Chris. My love to all. — Halsey Bartlett
¹ A “worm” or “wormer” was a cleaning implement that screwed on the end of a ram rod to retrieve lost patches inside the barrel of a musket. It could also be used to loosely swab the bore between shots to keep fouling at a minimum level.
Folly Island, South Carolina
June 14, 1863
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn Vol.
I received your very good letter of date May 31 and June 1st. Was very much pleased to hear from you. I can say I was much pleased to find you all well in so good health. I am well and in very good health. I have not seen Clovis [Hammonds] in nearly a week but when I saw him last he was in good health. I am sorry to say Luther Warren did not go as he expected to his furlough nor has anyone except our Orderly Sergeant been yet. Those they see fit to let go home first they go. But no one is going home now from here. If our regiment was at Hilton Head, we think [we] should get furloughs right along. So when I shall come home, I don’t know. But you need not worry about my coming or about my having something good to eat. According to the “bill of fare” here in the army, I can eat most anything from dirt up to Loaf Cake but hope to be at home sometime this season between now and first of January next.
I have not seen anything to make me in the least might feared. It is true we can see and hear the Rebels talk, but I don’t know as this is anything to be afraid of. I have seen the same thing in other places.
I have not been to meeting since I came to this island. Our chaplain is with the regiment but our company is two miles from them. I got Chris’ letter and answered it too. I have got my medal and I appreciate it highly. Oh, how I wish I could come home. I don’t know as there is much news to write this time.
Uncle James wishes to know what fatigue duty is. Well, we have to work on the batteries and shoveling and doing any kind of work is called fatigue, but I don’t have any guard duty to do, I get every night in and and have to work about four hours per day. We go out in the morning at 7 o’clock and stay till eleven and work half of the time. Then go out again at four o’clock and work until six at night. All the rest of the time we have to rest in. I never lived easier in my life than I have for the past three weeks. I do just work enough for good exercise — but it is so warm no one can do much down here.
Today is Sabbath and it is very warm and pleasant. Last night we had a very heavy thunder shower. It rained quite hard here and there was some very heavy thunder. Today I have nothing to do but write so I thought I would write and I think I have wrote a pretty long letter.
Maj. Gen. Hunter is removed from his office of Major General and Captain [Quincy Adams] Gillmore of the Engineer Corps is to take his place. And Rear Admiral Dupont has been removed and Commodore Foote has taken his place on the water in command of our fleet of gunboats.
Don’t think of anymore news to write so I will close. Much love goes with this to you and Christina. I have not had a letter from Ellen or Elizabeth in so long I guess they have forgotten me, but I hope not. Give my love to them both and tell them to write if they feel so disposed for their letters I appreciate very highly.
There was a boat came in since I began to write but don’t know whether any mail came on her or not. Hope so. If I can get a “Free South,” I will send one to you.
Now mother, don’t get discouraged for a little more than a year, then my time will be out and I shall come home (if I am spared) to spend my time with you. May God in His goodness keep and preserve us all so that we may meet again. But if not on earth, may we so live that we may meet in heaven is the sincere prayer of your loving son, — Halsey Bartlett
Folly Island [South Carolina]
June 21st 1863
Sixth Conn Regt, Co. A Conn Vols.
I will now try to write a little more as I have not sent this. I have been so busy since I wrote the other two sheets that I have delayed sending them. But I hope they will be acceptable as also this sheet too.
Today is the Sabbath and I have been on inspection. We had our men number too. Our company numbered 62 of sick, some lazy, and those on duty present here. There was four absent on picket, nine detached off on other duty, making 75 all told. There was thirteen on the sick list this morning. Some are trying to get their discharge and so it makes (those that have duty to do) it harder for us but there is no use of complaining here. If we are told to do anything, we must go and do it or suffer for it.
We are not doing work on the breastworks now. Our company moved to the regiment here last Friday and now are doing picket duty. We have a very good camp on the banks of the ocean. General Gillmore is hard at work here having batteries built and laying plans for an attack and doing all he can to effect his way into Charleston. I hear nothing from the One hundredth New York which went across the river. Captain Payne has made a map of the country around Charleston so we can lay plans to take the Secesh country.
Friday night I stayed aboard the steamer Mary Benton which lies in the river here. Twenty-four of us stayed there as guard. General Gillmore and our paymaster was aboard with the money to pay us off with but we have not got it yet but expect to soon. When I do get it, you tell mother I will send her some of it. There is one State Bounty Check due us yet.
Has the mill stopped yet? You said it was going to.
The furloughs are all played out. No more furloughs. How I wish I could come home but there is no use wishing.
There was four Rebels came across the river last night and gave themselves up to Union troops and are here on this island. There was eight started to come but four went back. They swam across.
I have done pretty well in the writing line this time so you must excuse me this time. I guess you will call this acceptable. My love to you and mother and a kiss for you both. From your brother, — Halsey Bartlett
This letter was written shortly after the 6th Connecticut participated in the attack on Fort Wagner. They were brigaded with the 54th Massachusetts (Colored Regiment that led the attack), the 48th New York, the 3rd New Hampshire, the 76th Pennsylvania, and the 9th Maine regiments. The 54th managed to reach the parapet, but after a fierce struggle, including hand-to-hand combat, they were forced back. The 6th Connecticut continued the assault at the weakest point, the southeast, where the 31st had failed to take its position. General Taliaferro quickly rounded up some soldiers to take the position, while the 51st North Carolina and Charleston Battalion fired obliquely into the assailants. Behind the 6th Connecticut, the 48th New York also successfully reached the slopes of the bastion. The remainder of Strong’s brigade did not reach that far, as three of the defending howitzers were now in action and firing canister into their flanks, bringing them to a halt. For three hours, the Sixth Connecticut held an angle of the fort. Left unsupported, the regiment was forced to retire leaving 35% of its number on the field of battle, including Col. Chatfield who received his death wound. One southern writer called the Sixth – the bravest of the brave.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
August 1st 1863
Sixth Reg. Co. A, Connecticut Volunteers
But a few days ago I wrote you a small detail of what we were doing on Morris Island and now I will tell you darther of the doings. We left (our regiment) Morris Island night before last and was I not rejoiced to get away. I rather think I was — not that there was anything cowardly on my part but I got sick of hearing so much noise. It was nothing but boom — boom, night and day on both sides and men to the average of four or five per day from some regiment brought down from the deadly missiles of the enemy.
The night of 29 July our regiment had orders to report to Hilton Head immediately and in the night we moved our tents and baggage to the dock at Morris Island and soon it was aboard the General Hunter and all hands aboard, we were ready to proceed on our way to Hilton Head. And here I am. I tell you, it seems more like home to me now. But God has been good in preserving my life until now. Now I am out of danger for awhile. On Morris Island, if I lie down at night to sleep, I knew not whether I should wake up in the morning safe or not for they shelled our camps as much as they could, and to be there was perfect misery. The night we came away, I saw a young soldier belonging to the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania that was struck by a shell. He had one arm taken off just below the shoulder; the other taken off just below the elbow. Poor man — no hands at all. ¹
The next day after the Battle of the 10th, I took a look on the battlefield, I see some twenty lie dead on the field where the Seventh drove them from their rifle pits while on Morris Island. Our regiment had to go up on picket within fifty yards of the Rebel Battery Wagner. This is the battery I told you about making a charge on July 16. I told you of the casualties in our company. Hugh McShene ² I spoke of being wounded is dead. The rest is doing well. Hill and Palmer are in Richmond [as] prisoners. Nothing have been heard of Sergeant [Delbert] Hoar and Private [Maxim H.] Sherbeone, both [of] Danielsonville — supposed to be killed.
Well Mother, your son is well but very tired doing so much fatigue work. I worked yesterday unloading the boat and today loading teams and the weather so hot anyone cannot stand it much. Our regiment is very small — the well ones. The day before we came away from Morris [Island], there was one hundred seventy-six reported for duty. Now about four hundred sick — well lame and lazy — all told. How I came out of the Fort Wagner [fight] without being hit is a mystery to me. Such a shower of bullets! But I am safe — not a scratch on me.
Since I left Folly Island I have had four letters from you and Chris[tina] and today I got one from you and one from friend Elizabeth. Also two papers.
I will send you another New South in which you can see the detail of the wounded and killed belonging to the different regiments. Ours is not in full but will be in next paper which I will get one and send you.
I am glad you have got my bounty check for it will do you so much good. Just thirteen months from today my time will be so near out there will not be much fun in it. Well, mother, I know you are and have been looking everyday for a letter from me and I hope you may get my last and this in double quick time. I got four papers from you while on Morris Island. I am sorry Cousin Judson has got drafted and obliged to go to the war again. Wish he could get rid of it but he can’t. I am going to ask a small favor of you. Will you send me a few postage stamps — some three and some five or six ones. I am going to write to friend Elizabeth today and to Christina and to Ellen. You can let Aunt Nancy see this and tell her I am going to write to het before long.
My love to all the folks. My love to you and Christina. My love to Friend Elizabeth, I saw Clovis [E. Hammond] today. He was well and in good health. I will now close. Hoping to hear from you as often as you can write.
From your affectionate son, – Halsey Bartlett
¹ The “poor man” was John McDonald of Company G, 85th Pennsylvania. A shell from Fort Wagner took off his right arm and left hand.
² Pvt. Hugh MacChine [or MacChien] served in Co. A, 6th Connecticut.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
October 2, 1863
Sixth Regt. Co. A, Conn. Vols.
Your welcome letter of date September 20th came to hand two days ago. I will attemp or try to answer it. I can truly say I was much pleased to get a letter from you. The last one I got before this was dated August 31st. I don’t think our correspondence is very heavy. You don’t write to your brother very often. I guess you don’t think of me very often, do you? Now if you knew how much good a letter does me from you, you would write oftener. But you can do as you choose.
I was very sorry to find that Aunt Olive had so bad an eye. Hope she may get entirely well and Aunt Nancy, am glad she is better too. You said nothing about Uncle James but suppose he is well.
There is not much news to write but what there is, I will write. I was much pleased to find you and mother well. Things progress slowly at Charleston — or Morris Island rather. You know all of Morris Island is our now. Our troops advanced into James Island and took possession of a part of it and are now throwing up breastworks and fortifying there as fast as they can. I was down to the city of Hilton Head yesterday and a man told me that our men had taken half of James Island. Gen. Gillmore is the man for this department. He has the power to do as he chooses here now. He has another star added to his honor and now ranks as Major General. I don’t think it will be long before Charleston will be ours.
I have to do considerable duty now. We have come in from picket and are now with the regiment at the Head and there is but three small regiments here and the duty is very heavy. Only eight companies of our regiment [are] here. Two [are] out on picket. I have to work nights on the dock and do camp guard, post guard, police and drill and nearly everyday something her for a soldier to do. I worked last night until 12 o’clock loading ship Belvedere with hay and stuff for Folly Island. So today I am free from duty.
The weather here is very warm for October. I hope this is the last October I shall spend in this region as a soldier. You know this is my birth month. I shall be (only think) thirty-two years of age but don’t tell anybody, will you. If anyone asks you how old I am, don’t lie to them but tell them I am twenty-five. Don’t tell anyone I am an “old Bach.” But I suppose now you have broke up with George, I shall not be alone. You will be an “old Maid,” won’t you? I am sorry your heart is affected so but I guess you will get over it. The course of true love never did run smooth. There is some rough places to mar the happiness of one but don’t mourn over it, will you?
I am well and enjoying myself very well. I am here in my tent all alone. Where is my chum? You will want to hear from him. He is sick and in the hospital. He was carried there last Sunday. He was taken with chills and headache and was wild out of his head. Could not walk hardly so weak. He is some better now but has wild, crazy spells once in awhile. This is the first time he has been off duty or been on the sick list since he has been out. He has always been very healthy until now. I have not been to the doctors for any medicine since last February — only while on Morris Island. I went then to get rid of work more than anything else. I got so tired — I had to work night and day there while there. Morris Island was a tough place while I was there. I rather think it is not quite so bad now.
I hear that Rosecrans has had a severe battle and has drove the Rebs and whipped them up handsome. I am glad of it. The Rebs don’t seem to gain many victories of late. Nearly all the Rebel strongholds are taken. They are losing confidence in their president (Jeff Davis) and a great Union feeling prevails throughout the seceding states and I think peace is near at hand. I would like to know what the Rebs are holding out longer for. They might as well give up now for they will have to in the end. If Jeff Davis ain’t out the way away from this side of the Atlantic, he will be assassinated. There is one hundred prisoners going from here North in the next steamer and three from each company in our regiment are to go with them. They are bound for New York.
I don’t know but I may get a chance to come home this winter some time. One goes home every thirty days from here on furloughs but you need not expect me. There may be more prisoners going [be]fore long. If there is, I may get a chance to come with them but can’t tell. I don’t suppose you care about seeing me at home, do you? Methinks I hear you say, “Yes, yes, come brother, come. I will welcome thee home.”
I have many things I wish to say to you but will defer it to some other time. My picture I cannot send now but you shall have it by and bye. You say my chum is a conformed “old Bach.” I must say to the contrary. He has been married once. He tells me is now a widower. I will say no more now.
My love to you and mother. My love to Uncle and Aunts on the hill. My love and a kiss for cousin Ellen, two kisses for you. You kiss cousin ellen for me and tell her to kiss you for me. Methinks I can see you doing it. And you tell Ellen I want to get a letter from her very much. I have sent about all my love but what there is left, you may give to who you have a mind to. From your loving brother, — Halsey
There is 200 of our regiment here on duty.
Provost Guard Quarters
Hilton Head, South Carolina
April 2, 1864
Sixth Regiment, Co. A, Connecticut Volunteers
Your letter of date March twentieth came to hand this week and I now hasten to answer it. I am well and in good health. Today is Saturday and a very pleasant day it is too. I am on guard today. Yesterday it rained quite hard.
Last Monday I took a trip to Folly Island and had a very good time while I was gone. Got back Thursday. Went as guard to some convalescents — eight in all.
Six Secesh came in this week — deserters. Twenty-four took the oath of allegiance and are going North on the next steamer.
Sergeant Clark ¹ of Co. I, this regiment, left here on the last steamer. While we were in Jacksonville a year ago, he married a Secesh lady. He had one wife at the North at the time. Now he has deserted from here and left his wife. What folks there is in this world, ain’t there?
How lonesome I am here away from home. How I wish I could come home. You say they expect Clovis ² home. I don’t see him very often but I presume he is very well. Your Hiram L. Grant ³ is promoted to Lieutenant and is now acting as Adjutant. He is a very good fellow. Was sorry to part with him from our company.
Wheeler and I bunk together. We have some very good times together but I had much rather stay at home with my friends at home. Things go on much the same as when I wrote before. I would love to be at home to be with you and take you to ride. How good you are to write so often to your brother. How I love to get a letter from you. I am very lonesome without you. When I was at home, how much comfort I took then. To be shut up in this yard as I am doing guard duty is too much for me. I am sad and lonely down here. One thing — I hope we shall meet again. How I love the song, “When shall we three meet again.” I sent you two songs — the songs I told you about.
How is your friend Wheeler now? I think your correspondence will turn out same as mine has you know. I hope it will. I liked Wheeler much — what I saw of him. He is a kind, good fellow. I don’t know what will become of you now you are twenty. I don’t know but you will have to wait as long as I have before you get a man. But never mind — better wait a good while than to get a bad man. I can hardly write there is so much noise here so you must excuse me this time. How I would love to take you and Elizabeth a ride to Aunt Mary’s.
You never told me what that Waldron girl’s name is. You will, won’t you?
But I must draw to a close. May you and I be preserved to meet again. My love to you and all. Write soon. You excuse this. I will do better next time. Write soon. From your loving brother, — Halsey Bartlett
¹ Sergt. Albert B. Clark was a 21 year-old cigar maker in Bridgeport when he enlisted in Co. I, 6th Connecticut. At the time he enlisted he gave his marital status as “single.” Regimental records show that after re-enlisting as a veteran in the 6th Connecticut, he deserted on 27 March 1864 — just days before this letter was written. I found him buried in Old North Cemetery in Hartford where his birth date is given as 10 October 1840 and his death date is given as 13 February 1869 (age 28 at time of death). Massachusetts death records indicate that he died (as reported in cemetery record) on 13 February 1869 in Boston though his place of residence was 11 Willard Street in New York. His occupation was recorded as “clerk.” Additional detail in that record tells us he was born at Poquetanuck, Connecticut and that his parents were Abiel B & Jeanette J. Clark. He died of phthisis which plagued him for 7 months before his death. J. Tinkham was the informant.
² Clovis E. Hammond (1836-1864) of Killingly, Connecticut. Clovis enlisted as a sergeant in Co. A, 6th Connecticut, but he was a lieutenant in Co. D at the time of his death on 27 June 1864 from wounds he received on 17 June 1864 in an engagement near Bermuda Hundred entrenchments. Regimental records indicate that he was wounded in the “spine and left hip, severely.” Hammond’s mortal wound was received on the same day and in the same engagement in which Bartlett was killed.
³ Hiram L. Grant, was a resident of Putnam, Conn., when he enlisted as a corporal, on September 3, 1861, and was mustered into Co. A, 6th Connecticut Infantry. He was wounded in action on July 18, 1863, during the assault on Fort Wagner, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. He was promoted to sergeant, on December 24, 1863; 2nd lieutenant, March 24, 1864; 1st lieutenant, June 16, 1864; captain, September 24, 1864; major, March 7, 1865; and was mustered out of the service on August 21, 1865.