This letter was written by 46 year-old Lt. Joseph Foster Andrews (1817-1888) who served in the First Regiment New England Volunteer Cavalry — a regiment composed of troopers from both New Hampshire as well as Rhode Island. The name of the regiment was changed to the First Rhode Island Cavalry in late March 1862, much to the angst of the New Hampshire volunteers. In January, Companies (“Troops”) I, K, L, and M, First Rhode Island Cavalry, were permanently detached and designated as New Hampshire cavalry companies. Andrews was serving in Troop M at the time of this letter in August 1863.
The following comes from the company roster:
Andrews, Joseph F. Co. M; b. New Boston (NH); age 44; res. Nashua; app. 1 Lt. Dec. 3, ’61; must. in Dec. 24, ’61; app. Q.M. 3 Batt’l., Jan. 1, ’62; captured Oct. 31, ’62 at Mountville, Va.; parolled ’62; assigned to Co. M, as 1 Lt; app. Major Mar. 18, ’64; must. out July 15, ’65. Died June 29, ’88, Nashua.
Joseph was the son of Benjamin Andrews (1792-18xx) and Mary Hogg Cochran (1796-1839). He married Sarah Almeda Barnes (1821-1890) in 1844. He wrote this letter to his daughter Ella J. Andrews (b. 1846).
Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia
August 9th 1863
My Dear Daughter Ella,
I received your kind letter last evening and as I was somewhat tired, I concluded that I would have more time to answer it tomorrow but before tomorrow came we had marching orders for to be ready to move at 5 this morning. So we have marched from Warrenton 9 miles, arrived here about 10 A.M., and pitched our tents just in season for _____ and inspection at 5 P.M. We have just returned from it. We are on the west side of the Gap. The 2 divisions of cavalry are here — 1st Rhode Island, 2nd New York, 4th New York, and 6th Ohio, 2nd Rhode Island Battery, 6th New York Battery. The 1st & 3rd Division of Cavalry are across the Rappahannock. The 6th Corps is at and near Warrington, 11th at Catlett Station, 12th at Sulphur Springs. Part of our cavalry — or our division — are at Centerville. I don’t expect that we shall be allowed to stay here very long. Capt. [Arnold] Wyman and some 8 others from our regiment are going home after conscripts. Sergt. [Alvin] Eaton is one of the number. They are ordered to Connecticut but probably will be home. They all agree to start soon so I am writing as fast as I can so that he can take it as far as he goes then put in in the mail. I did not know that he was a going but a few minutes ago.
My health is very comfortable. We had some boiled corn for dinner and apple sauce which made our hard tack relish quite well. I had some cucumber for supper with our coffee. I wish I had more time so I could write you more and something that would be more interesting.
The Nashua boys are all well. Meghan [?] is at Centerville. I heard from him yesterday.
It is quite warm here these days. ____ were as wet as though they had been in the water all over in the water, when we got here, but we have not had quite as hard days work as we had one year ago today at the Cedar Mountain fight.
Edwin is with me — takes care of my horses and does our cooking.
I must come to a close now so to have it ready. Give my love to all and to yourself. Write me soon.
Your affectionate father, — J. F. Andrews