1863: Nathan Cory to Peter Baley


Grave of Sgt. Cory

These letters were written by Sgt. Nathan Cory (1842-1900), Co. C, 101st Pennsylvania Infantry. Nathan was the son of Nathan and Elizabeth (Wilson) Cory. He enlisted in September 1861 in Wampum, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania at the age of 19, giving “Farmer” as his occupation. He re-enlisted in January 1864 and was taken prisoner at Plymouth, N. C. on 20 April 1864. He was held captive at Andersonville (GA) and Florence (SC) before being paroled at Annapolis (MD). After a 30 day furlough, he rejoined his company at New Bern before they were discharged on 25 June 1865.

Nathan wrote the letters to his brother-in-law, Peter Baley (1835-1924) — a blacksmith at Big Beaver, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Peter was an emigrant from France. His name was actually Pierre Bailly; he was the son of Thiebeau (or Theobold) Bailly. Peter was married to Eliza Jane Cory (1839-1927) in 1857.

The first letter was written sometime shortly after the Battle of Williamsburg (5 May 1862). In the 2nd letter, Cory describes the Battle of Kingston and the pursuit of “Shanks” Evans‘ Brigade to Goldsboro (otherwise known as “Foster’s Raid.”


Addressed to Mr. Peter Baley, Irish Ripple, Lawrence County, PA
Postmarked from Old Point Comfort, VA

Camp near West Point
May the [ ] 1862
Friend Bailey,

I once more sit down to pen you a few lines to let you know where we are and to let you know we are both well and wish you the same. I received your letter and was very glad to hear from you.

I wrote a letter a few days ago and told you a little about our fight. We are expecting another fight on this side of Richmond. It will be either a big fight or a hell of a run. If they stand [and] fight, we will give them hell like we always do. I think if we get them rid out of Virginia, it will about sew up Secesh. But I expect it will take some fighting to get Richmond. If they would take us into it, we can soon make them soon hold low sharp shooters and run like they did back at the other fight when the 85th came up and give them a couple of volleys. The rebel prisoners say they don’t like the bright barrel guns. They think they are all sharp shooters.

I tell you the rebels left some good cannon stuck in the mud. We run them so close when their wagons would stuck in the mud, they had not time to take them out so they would spike the cannon and leave them. It is not worthwhile for me to waste time writing to tell you about the times. I will wait till I get home and then I will tell you all about the fun I have had in army. I can tell you some of the times I have had that will make you laugh.

Well, I have not very much to tell you this time but I can tell you skin is damned hard to get here.

Well Peter, I will bring my letter to a close by asking you to excuse all mistakes and bad, bad writing for I have a very poor way of writing. You want to know the right address. as near as I can give it, it is Fortress Monroe, Va., Company C, 101st Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteers, Second Brigade, Casey’s Division. Remember to write soon and oblige your old friend.

Nathan Cory to Peter Bailey


Addressed to Mr. Peter Baley, Irish Ripple, Lawrence County, PA
Postmarked from Old Point Comfort, VA

Camp near Newbern, N. C.,
[n. d., but probably early January 1863]

I once more take my pen in my hand to write you a few lines to let you know I am still on the land of the living and in good health. I would of wrote to you sooner only I was waiting to see what they was going to do with us. We was expecting to go back to Suffolk, but now we know we will not get to go.

Well Peter, I must tell you of the fighting we have been doing down in North Carolina. We landed here on the 10th from Suffolk and got 10 days rations ready and left here on the 11th and we went on till the 12th. We expected a fight but they left the place on the night of the 12th and about 10 o’clock on the 13th, our advance and their rear guard commenced their skirmishing and all day every little peace we would see a dead or wounded or prisoner rebs along the road sides.

On the night of the 13th, our regiment was put out in advance to support a battery and on the morning of the 14th [Battle of Kinston], our major rode out along the road in advance of the regiment and the rebel pickets fired at him. Then the fight opened. The 9th New Jersey deployed and commenced skirmishing and our regiment still supported the battery. The rest of our brigade marched down and went in like tigers. The fight lasted for six hours. Then the rebs commenced to skedaddle. They tried to set the bridge on fire but we was to close. We soon put the fire out and crossed the bridge after them.

When we went into town, we got all the whiskey and tobacco we wanted. The rebs formed back of Kingston to try us again but when they seen our old brigade coming, they run like a hell. We took about 8 hundred prisoners and 13 pieces of artillery at Kinston.

We followed them to White Hall and licked them till they run like hell then followed them to Goldsboro where they had a big den and we drove them away from the river and burnt the railroad bridge and tore up 5 miles of the railroad. Then we started back and our grub run out and we had to forage what we eat. I tell you if we didn’t make the hogs, cows, sheep, and everything we could eat pay for it. It was a caution. This is a great country for apple jack. It is fun to see the boys when we come near a big plantation brake for apple jack, honey, and chickens.

Well, Peter, this was a very dry Christmas. We have not got paid yet. Well, I will bring my letter to a close by asking and answer soon for I expect we will leave here soon as we get rested on another expedition. Nothing more at present but remain your brother-in-law till death, — Nathan Cory

to Peter Baily

Address Newbern, N. C., Co. C, 101st Regiment Pennsylvania Vols., Wessel’s Brigade. I have not heard from you since I got that box. This is the 3rd I have wrote.


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