1863-1865: Mason Sherman Chambers Letters

These six letters were written by Mason (“Mace”) Sherman Chambers (1840-1929) who enlisted with his brother George Mairs Chambers (1842-1905) in Co. F, 169th New York Infantry in 1862.  Mason was the son of Joseph Chambers (1799-1894) and Hannah Moncrief (1803-1891).

An obituary for Mason was printed in the Ogdensburg Republican Journal on 11 January 1929:

Mason S. Chambers, 88 year old veteran of the Civil War, died at the old homestead farm nine miles from Ogdensburg on the Canton road Thursday at 1pm. Mr. Chambers, although in poor health for some time, was taken seriously ill about ten days ago and gradually weakened under the handicap of advanced age and impaired health.

Mason Chambers was born on the farm where he died, a son of Joseph and Hannah Chambers, well known residents of this section. He was one of eight children, six boys and two girls, of whom only one, Henry Chambers, with whom he resided, survives. Mason Chambers was a typical Northern New York farmer lad of 20 years when war clouds hovered over the nation and with thousands of other young Americans he answered the call to the colors. He enlisted with his brother, George Chambers, and served in F company, 169th Regiment New York Volunteers in many battles of the Civil war.

With peace and harmony restored to the union, Mason Chambers returned to the hold homestead and settled down to till the soil. He never married and lived with his brother, Henry Chambers, also a bachelor, on the home farm.

A prominent farmer, Mr. Chambers served many years as notary public and justice of the peace and he was an influential resident of the county. He was affiliated with the Rensselaer Falls Masonic orders.


 

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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Rikers Island, N. Y. Harbor
February 14th 1864

Dear Mother,

I embrace this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing. I have not much news to write. We are here yet — have not moved to Hart Island but will, I think, next week. We do not have any snow here but it is very windy.

I arrived here the next day after I started from home. I staid at Albany all night Friday and got here the next day in the afternoon.

I received John’s and George’s letter last night and was glad to hear that you were all well. I have not heard from the regiment. Jim Dezell is in hospital at David’s Island about seven miles from here. I had a letter from him the other day. He is getting well again.

They have not said anything to me yet about not getting here on time and I don’t think they will. The camp is full of recruits. They come in large numbers every day. They say we are to have splendid quarters when we get moved to Hart Island. Well, as I have no news to write, I will close for this time. Give my love to all the folks.

Goodnight, — Mason S. Chambers

Rikers Island, New York


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Albany, New York
March 29, 1864

Dear Mother,

I received yours and Henry’s letter today and was glad to hear that you were all well, & as I have not much to do today, I thought I would write a few lines [to] let you know that I am well. I have not much news to write.

I received a letter from John & George a few days ago and one from Father. I met Doley Stocking and as I was going down to Poughkeepsie in charge of three men, we went on the same train and had a good visit. I was gone two days out in Ulster County.

There was a man shot dead here a few nights ago. There was about a dozen men tried to run the guard. They had got their bounty and were trying to get away. They were ordered by the sentry to halt but did not so he fired at the first man & killed him instantly. It was very dark.

We can’t tell how long we will stay here but I think we’ll stay as long as there is any recruiting going on or any drafting. It is a very good place. Our duty is not very hard.

Doley was telling me about the Bootheroyd scrape. I don’t think it was a rich thing.

I have not any news to write so I will have to close for this time. Give my love to all the folks.

Goodbye, — Mason S. Chambers


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Hart Island, New York Harbor
February 6th 1865

Dear Mother,

I will improve a few moments this evening in writing to you & inform you that I am well, hoping this will find you all enjoying good health. I have not any news of interest to write.

The weather is clear & cold though we have no snow. I received that package of butter today & am very much obliged for it. Butter sells here for eighty (80) cents a pound and rather a poor quality at that. I think it will last me a long time.

I have not heard from George since I wrote. My regiment is down near Wilmington. There were a good many of them lost at Fort Fisher.

New York does not appear to be doing much toward filling up the quota & will have to stand a draft on the 15th instant. I do not think the Peace Conference between Lincoln & the Rebel Commissioners will amount to much at the present. Gen. [Edward Winslow] Hinks who has been in command of this post for some time is relieved & Brig. Gen. [Henry Walton] Wessels takes command.

I will have to bring this to a close as I have nothing to write. Give my respects to all. Good night.

— M. S. Chambers, 169th Vol.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Hart Island, New York Harbor
April 5th 1865

Dear Mother,

I received your letter dated 11th ult. and was glad to hear from you & thought I’d write a few lines tonight to let you [know] that I am well, hoping this will find you all in good health. I have not any news to write from here.

The news from the army is good. Richmond & Petersburg have fallen and it is reported that Lee has surrendered but it needs confirmation. There has been the wildest excitement in the city the last few days. The war is considered to be about at an end though it will no doubt be some time before it is settled finally. I expect to serve my time out anyway.

Gold is down very low.

I have not received any letter from George since I wrote. The mails do not run very regularly since the army commenced moving. The transport steamer Gen. Lyon was burned last week off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. She was down to Wilmington, N. C. with troops from this place & was returning. There was a guard from this battalion with them of 2 lieutenants and 22 men. Out of the 24, only four were saved. One of them arrived at this place the other day.

Well, I have not any news to write so I’ll close for this time. Give my respects to all. Good night.

— Mason S. Chambers, 169th Vols.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Hart Island, New York Harbor
June 9th 1865

Dear Mother,

I received your letter today and was glad to hear that you were all well &c. I am still on the island and am likely to remain here for the remainder of my term of service as the recent order from the War Department does not apply to my case having been marked on muster rolls as mustered in U.S. Service on the 6th of October 1862. I have not heard from my regiment & do not know where they are.

Quite a number of troops have arrived here to have muster rolls reviewed and approved previous to being paid off and discharged.

I have not heard anything from George since I last wrote home.

A regiment has arrived here from the same brigade his regiment is in. The 39th New York is a veteran regiment — all except Brigg’s Company — and will be retained in service, I suppose. [I] think his company will be along soon.

I am on duty in the Adjutant General’s Office.

You asked what the history of that animal is that was in the box I sent home. I don’t know much about its history. I believe it was brought from Hilton Head, South Carolina or somewhere down there. It will do for Freddy to play with. I have not any news to write so I’ll have to bring this to a close.

My respects to all the folks. Goodbye.

— Mason S. Chambers, Hart Island, N.Y.H.


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TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Addressed to Mrs. Hannah Chambers, Flackville, St. Lawrence County, New York

Rikers Island, New York Harbor
November 8th 1865

Dear Mother,

I thought I would write you a few lines tonight to let you know that I am well and hope you are all enjoying the same blessing. I have not any news in particular to write.

We are still here at the island. Conscripts keep coming every day. We sent off about six hundred last Wednesday but it appears that there has not been any assigned to our regiment yet. The authorities do not appear to be doing anything in the way of getting volunteers in this state yet, and if Gov. Seymour does not hurry up & do something, there will be another draft in January. Now when he has a chance, he ought to improve it as he is so much opposed to the draft.

I received a letter from George day before yesterday and wrote to him yesterday. He was well and had got employment at a dollar & fifty cents a day. He appears to be well satisfied and contented.

I received a few lines from Lieut. [Thomas D.] Jellico a few days ago. The boys were well. He did not write much news.

As I have no news to write, I’ll have to close for this time. Excuse this short letter, Give my love to all the folks.

Good bye — Mason S. Chambers


 

A related letter:

Nunda [New York]
May the 1st 1861

My dear Cousin Rachel,

I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same. I have thought about writing before but I though that you would have such a good time while my father was with you that you would not care about hearing from me. But I suppose that he will come home soon. But I hope that he will make a good stay for he will never get there again.

The folks are all well. Tell father that James has got a man to work for him — Mr. C. Kenny. He is doing lots of work this spring. I suppose that he has seen all his friends.

Now Rachel, I am looking for you or Jane or both of you to come with father. Do come. I did think about coming with father but I give it up. I am so poor. I think that some of you might come if you tried. I want to see you all very much. I suppose that James has gone to keeping house.

I hain’t any news — only about war. I think I shall run away to Canada. Will you go with me? There is lots of my friends gone. Is any of your brothers agoing to fight? My brother Samuel said that he is going.

Rachel do excuse poor writing, My pen is poor and I am [in a] hurry. Tell Jane to write. I wrote last. Tell all the rest. Give my love to __b and Mag and all to your mother and father and my father. Write to me soon. Tell your new sister to write to Ann. Good bye. Come, do come. Come if you think so, Write soon.

To my dear cousin Rachel Chambers.

— Ann Chambers

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