This letter was written by Horatio Dye (1842-1927), the son of William Dye (1807-1889) and Nancy Meeks (1808-1844) of Miami county, Ohio. In August 1862, Horatio Dye enlisted in Co. B, 87th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and served with that regiment until discharged at Madison, Indiana, in May 1865. While he was home on a furlough, he married Nancy Jane Thompson (1844-1937) on 24 March 1864. After the war, Horatio and his wife farmed and raised their family in Van Buren, Pulaski county, Indiana.
A startling fact revealed in this letter is the contention by Pvt. Dye that the inmates of the General Hospital at Madison, Indiana, were suffering from insufficient rations even though he believed they had been supplied to the hospital. He hints that the officers knew something of its disappearance.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]
Addressed to Miss Nancy J. Dye, Star City, Pulaski county, Indiana
December 13, 1864
With much pleasure and respect to you I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I am yet alive and on the land of the living. My health is tolerable good and my appetite is very good for our rations is very short. It is not because it hain’t here for us but I think some of the officers knows where it goes to and why it is so. But I can stand it if the rest can. But I would not mind all my starving and all my suffering if I could get some money for you or help you to what you need for to make you comfortable for my friends and neighbors will look upon me as though I did not try to help you any and I think if my friends has any respect for me, they will see that you do not want for anything. If I can get my pay, I will not ask nor expect much of them. I am very sorry if you are suffering for want of anything and I can’t help you and the friends and neighbors won’t help you.
I am very sorry that you have hurt your back. I think father might get you shoes and a little money too if he would try a little. I wrote you a letter from here on the first of the month and I have got no answer yet. I received one from you dated December 1st directed to Louisville. I got it yesterday and I felt very bad and lonely after I read it to think that you was in want. But my dear one, I hope this may find you in better health and not wanting for anything and perfectly satisfied. You must try and keep up courage and not get down-hearted, but I know it is hard for you to live so.
I will now close for the present, giving you my love and best respects forever. Direct to Madison General U. S. A. Hospital, ¹ Section 5, Ward 4, Bed 27.
— Horatio Dye [to] Nancy J. Dye
The weather is cold and some snow. — Horatio Dye
¹ The Madison Military Hospital was a Volunteers Hospital, located in Madison, IN. It was the fourth largest military hospital in the nation with 2,430 beds. Major Gabriel Grant (1826-1912) was in charge of its operation.
These three letters capture the details of engagements and troops movements by the 111th Illinois in May and June 1864 while participating in the Atlanta Campaign. The letters were penned by Sgt. Robert Gibson Ardrey (spelled Ardry in military records) of Co. B, 111th Illinois. Descriptions of his unit’s hard fought actions at Resaca, Dallas, and Kennesaw Mountain are included.
Robert Gibson Ardrey (1834-1922)—a 27 year-old farmer from Lively Grove, Washington county, Illinois—mustered into the 111th Illinois as a sergeant in September 1862. According to his enlistment records, he stood 5’7″ tall and had sandy hair and blue eyes. He gave his birth place as [Norwich] Muckingum county, Ohio. His parents were William Ardrey (1809-1893) and Elizabeth McClurkin (1810-Aft1850). The brother to whom he wrote one of these three letters was Thomas S. Artry (1840-1918).
[Note: These letters are from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and are published by express consent.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
May 22, 1864
Dear Father, Mother & all the rest,
We are still here at this place but expect to resume the chase tomorrow. We are about 45 miles south of Dalton. I should [think] 75 from Chattanooga. It is yet 50 to Atlanta. The supplies in the wagons gave out here & it was deemed necessary to stop two or three days that they might be brought up on the railroad. There is now trains coming in from Chattanooga almost every hour of the day. I wrote you a few lines when we first got here. I told you of our fight. We struck south from Chattanooga & left Dalton to the east & took possession of a gap [Snake Creek Gap] in the mountains near Resaca on the railroad. This expedition was under command of McPherson & John A. Logan & the object was to flank the rebs & either compel them to retreat or else cut the railroad & make them surrender.
Skirmishing commenced on the 9th. This day Gen. Thomas was to commence the fight in front of Dalton & we were to commence on the rear. We had to stop back 5 miles of Resaca & it took till the 13th to work up close to the reb fort. At 4 o’clock P. M. of the 13th, we got within 1¼ miles of the fort & in plain view of the place. The rebs had three trains of cars there which they ran south. One of our batteries took position & fired several rounds at the locomotives but did not hit them. The rebs had a large body of sharpshooters that lay behind logs & in the brush who made it rather unhealthy for our artillery men. They had to be drove off & for this purpose Co’s A, B, C, & G of the 111th were ordered to charge them. They lay in a hollow & to charge them we had to run down a hill which was cleared off with the exception of here & there an old stump. Well at 5 [P. M.] we charged. As we ran down the hill, they poured in a volley of shot that was terrific. Six of our men were killed before they got to the foot of the hill & 10 wounded. Two of Co. B are dead. S[amuel] T. Walker, nephew of the captain, was killed on the spot. E[phraim] Furby was mortally & died the next day. D[avid] Wilson had a thumb shot off & D. C. Seawall received a flesh wound in the arm. One or two others were struck with spent balls but were not hurt much. ¹
We drove them back & took their position. They were now so far off that they could not hurt our artillery men. We held our ground & kept up a continual fire till after dark. I shot 38 rounds. I do not know whether I killed any or not but I know they kept pretty close behind logs & trees after we got at them. The next day we took some of the same chaps prisoners. They said we made the best shooting they ever seen & wanted to know what kind of guns we had.
On the 14th at sundown, a general charge was made on them in order to gain the other side of the hollow. The remaining 6 companies of our regiment were in it. The first of our companies were left to support the batteries. It was a hard fight & lasted till after 9 o’clock at night but the rebs were beaten & we held the hill. That night the troops made three lines of breastworks.
The next day—Sabbath—we lay in the trenches all day waiting for the rebs to charge on us but they did not try it. That night they evacuated [Resaca] & fled south burning the railroad bridge over the Poosa [Oostanaula] river. Monday morning at 8 we marched into their works. They left many of their dead on the field & quite a number of cannon. The army was then started in pursuit. Johnson tried to make a fight at Calhoun & at Adair, but Gen. Thomas flaxed him good & sent him skiving. — R. S. Arbry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the Battle of Resaca. During this part of the battle, four companies of the 111th Illinois were engaged in taking the ridge overlooking the town of Resaca and, in the evening of the 14th May, to drive the rebels from their fortifications near a small stream at the foot of the ridge and push them over the hill beyond it. During this part of the fight, the four companies lost seven killed and 28 wounded.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Big Shanty, Georgia
June 12, 1864
Mr. T. S. Artry
At last I will try and answer your letter which I received some time ago. I am still well for which I should be thankful. The rest of the boys are well also. Since I last wrote home, we have been in another battle. We were under fire 4 days & 5 nights near Dallas & strange to tell, none of Co. B were hurt although we were on the skirmish line 24 hours & the rest of the time were in the first line of works.
We came on the rebs on the 16 of May & formed in line of battle while the rebs bullets were whistling around us. We formed three lines deep—that is, one line about 100 yards to rear of the one before it. That night we dug ditches. On the evening of the 28th, the rebs made a charge all along our lines but were badly repulsed with a loss it was estimated at 2500, prisoners included—very few of them. ¹ But when I think if it, I told this in my last letter.
Well, on the night of June 2d, the rebs fell back & we started the next day for the railroad. Got to Acworth on the 4th & lay there till the 9th. It is said Sherman is in no hurry. He does not want to take Atlanta till after Grant gets Richmond. This is to keep Johnson from going to Richmond.
On the 9th we started again. Marched 6 miles & came on reb skirmishers. They were about 2 miles in front of their main force. They have made a stand on what is called the Lost Hills. Their last stand was made on the Altoona Mountains. Our division is left back as reserve. Fighting has been going on most of the time since we came here between skirmishers. Yesterday the train came up. The locomotive was run out to the skirmish line & done some tall whistling at the rebs. I expect it made them mad to think that they burnt all the bridges & that we built hem up so quick & brought the cars along with us. This was done to bore & taunt them. But enough of this.
Yesterday & today it has been raining heavy. This does not stop skirmishing. The rebs say that the reason that they had to fall back was we did not fight them fair. Sherman always flanked them & fought them on the end (as they say). They say there is no danger of Sherman going to Hell for he will outflank the Devil & go to Heaven.² But enough of this.
In my last I told you that our lines extended from Marietta to Dallas but this was a mistake. It should have been Ackworth. Marietta is still in reb hands.
I wish you would send me a sheet of paper & envelope when you write to me as I lost all mine & there is none to buy. I have not heard from home since I left Kingston. Write soon & a long letter. I am stout & hearty. Have stood the tramp first rate. Give my love to all the rest. So goodbye. From your brother, — R. G. Ardry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the fighting near Dallas, Georgia, in which the rebels tried to break through the Union lines, the heart of the attack being on the Division in which the 111th Illinois belonged. The rebels came with fixed bayonets and advanced to the Union lines before being repulsed with heavy losses. In this engagement on the 28th of May, the 111th Illinois lost 5 killed and fifteen wounded though none, apparently, in Co. B. One of the wounded was Lt. Colonel J. F. Black.
² In this campaign, Sherman wrote the textbook on the principle of the flank. Said one rebel soldier on surrendering to the 103rd Illinois, “Sherman will never go to hell; he will flank the devil and make heaven in spite of the guards.” [Sherman and the Principle of the Flank by Stuart Rosenlatt, printed in the American Almanac, March 1997]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
June 28, 1864
As we were in a heavy engagement yesterday (27th) & as I will have a chance to mail this today, I will write you a few lines that you may know that I am still safe & well although we were in the worst place yesterday that we have been in. Five of our company are wounded & are missing—Capt. [William H.] Walker seriously & perhaps mortally wounded. John Piper is shot through the right foot—not a very bad wound. The ball struck about inch back of his great toe & on the inside of his foot, cutting into the bone & perhaps fracturing it. The same ball struck G[eorge] Mearns on the back, inflicting a wound skin deep. [Lewis] Jack Land was struck [by a] spent ball on the neck. It did not cut the skin but bruised his wind pipe. He will be alright in a few days. James Rogers was struck in the ankle joint, the ball coming out through his heel. He will likely lose his foot [died on 29 August of wounds] & G[eorge] A. Cox is missing—supposed killed. Well, you will want to know what we we were doing. You will likely get it in the papers & a more full account sooner than you get this so I will not tell you much.
We charged on a reb fort on a hill. ¹ We had to drive the reb skirmishers near one mile through a dense brush before we came in view of the fort. Then there was a swamp or slough & for next 100 yards the timber & brush were piled down making an almost impenetrable barrier. This was all to cross under a dreadful fire & uphill at that. Well on we went, men dropping at every step. Our regiment was supporting the 55th so they were ahead of us. There was only places here and there that we could get through. Many of the men got to the breastwork but here another obstacle interposed it. It was sharp stakes set in so that a man could not get through. The lines did not all come up together & as our brigade was ahead, the rebs got a cross fire on us. Giles A. Smith seeing this, ordered us back. So we fell back 200 yards & went to digging ditches. We were soon burrowed in the ground enough to hold our position. We had a heavy line of skirmishers within 100 yards of the reb fort that lay behind logs & trees picking off every reb that showed his head. Most of our men were wounded while lying on their faces but enough. We were relieved last night after dark. Are now in the rear. Goodbye. — R. S. Ardry
¹ Sgt. Artry is describing the Union assault of the rebel entrenchments on the side of Little Kennesaw Mountain. This assault began at 8 o’clock A. M. on 27 June. The entire division in which the 111th Illinois belonged made the assault on the rebel works that were located well up the side of the mountain and heavily guarded by abattis. The works were not taken and the regiments losses were 1 killed [Capt. J. V. Andrews of Co. A] and 16 wounded. Sherman later wrote that this was the “hardest fight of the campaign.”
This letter was written by William A. Smith of Co. D, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry (fought with the Irish Brigade). The letter discusses the Battle of Falling Water (soon after Gettysburg, in which that unit was heavily involved) among other things. Even though the letter is not datelined, it most likely was written on July 15, 1863, since it is headed “near Harpers Ferry.” According to Mulholland’s history of the regiment, the 116th spent the night of 15 July 1863 there following Falling Water. William served as a private in Co. D, and later as a corporal in Co. A of the 116th Pennsylvania before being transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps.
I believe that William A. Smith was the son of John Matlock Smith (1809-1873) and Phebe M. Medenhall (1813-1900) of West Chester, Chester county, Pennsylvania. It is curious, however, that he was not enumerated in his parent’s household in the 1850 US Census.
There are several references to this soldier — including quotations from other letters — posted on the internet or published in books. In his book, Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, (page 87), Lawrence Kreiser wrote that Pvt. William Smith — when he learned of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — was quoted as writing, “To hell with the Niggers…I would shoot one quick as a wink if he gave me any sase.”
[Editor’s Note: This letter is from the collection of Richard Weiner and is published with express consent.]
Pleasant Valley, Md, near Harper’s Ferry
[15 July 1863]
Dear Father & Mother,
I thought I would write a few lines to let you know where I am. We have had a hard time of it since I wrote to you before. We have been chasin’ the johnnie rebs up and run them to Falling Waters and then captured about 2,000 prisoners and kill[ed] a good many of them. We have about 16 rebs of them that we are going to shoot for surrendering and waving a white flag and seeing that there was not many of them and then they run back and pick[ed] up their arms and shot our men down after they had surrendered. So they held a drumhead court martial and their sentence was to be shot.
We have had marching all the time — today 20 miles. And the day before the Battle of Gettysburg we marched 35 miles — and it is hard work. It is kill[ing] me up marching with the diarrhea so bad. It [is] keeping me running all the time and it makes [me] mighty weak. And it is as much as I can do to get along on the march. If they don’t stop pretty soon, I will have to give up the ship.
We have got orders to go ahead again tomorrow at 4 o’clock to Winchester [to] try to get ahead of Od Lee. If we had not marched so hard and so long, we could [have] got ahead of them in a day and got half of Lee’s army. They rushed them in the river with the point of the bayonet and drowned a great many of them in [ac]count of us running them so hard to get them across the river so that we could not get them. As it was, we took about 2,000 of them altogether. Our division took 4 or 500 of them. In their rush, one of the orderlies at the headquarters took 3 of them himself — so you can see which side it takes to capture one.
Well, it is getting late so I will have to stop writing. I seen Bill Dollings today and 2 others from West Chester. Asis Fittings and Gad Goule in the bands. I think it is Beck’s [Philadelphia Brass] Band and they are all well.
Here is an envelope with the stamp on that was taken from [a] rebel’s knapsack at the Battle of Falling Waters and a little cathrel [?] badge that I found on the Battlefield of Bulls Run. It was laying along a lot of human bones. I have got some things more to send home but there is no chance. I thought I would [have] got them sent home when I was in Pennsylvania but we got out of it in such a hurry there was no chance. And tomorrow morning we will have to cross the river in[to] Old Virginia again. I am sick and tired of that state.
So goodbye to you all for awhile and direct your letters [to] Headquarters, First Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.
This letter was written by 38 year-old Nelson A. Daines (1824-1875), who enlisted as an artificer in Battery E, 1st New York Light Artillery in September 1861. In December 1863, Nelson re-enlisted and in June 1864 was transferred into Battery L. He remained with the unit until 17 June 1865 when he mustered out at Elmira, New York. According to his enlistment record, Nelson was born in Yates county, New York, and was a 42 year-old blacksmith when he entered the service in 1861. He had dark eyes, dark hair, a dark complexion, and stood 6 foot 2 inches.
Nelson’s service record indicates that he was present with his battery at the following engagements: Lee’s Mills, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Thoroughfare Gap, Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad. He claimed he “was never sick one hour” and that he never spent any time in a hospital unless it was “to look after sick & wounded boys.”
Nelson and his wife Rebecca were enumerated in Howard, Steuben county, New York in 1855 and 1860. He was buried in Bath, Steuben county, New York.
In this letter, Nelson informs his wife that he has survived the Seven Days Battles and relates an incident that occurred during the fighting at White Oak Swamp. He ends the letter by telling her he is going to send her home most of his pay reasoning, “If I get killed, I don’t want the rebs to get much of my money for I don’t like them. So they had better keep out of range of my bullets.”
Addressed to Mrs. Nelson Daines, Tolesville, Steuben county, New York
Postmarked Old Point Comfort, Virginia
July 18, 1862
My Dear Wife,
I write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well hoping you [are] the same. I received your letter dated July 11 & was glad to hear from you, You said you received my letter dated 21 & 22 [June]. I have written 2 or three letters since then. I wrote a long letter to Richard Tole. I wish you would let me know whether he got it or not. Tell him I wrote him one.
Everything is quiet here. The rebs has fell back some twelve or 14 miles. When we shall advance, I don’t know — probably not in some time. We are resting. The last fight we had was at White Oak Swamp. I will tell you what happened to me that I laughed about. I was by the side of the Battery wagon. There was some 50 cannon pouring the shell into us. I was standing under an apple tree. The shell came like hail. There was a heavy shell passed close by my side passed just the neck yoke of wheel & middle team. While I was looking at such close shots, there was a 20-pound shell came [and] struck about 2 foot above my head and cut almost every limb off & let them down on me. It was very full of apples. I laughed. But I soon dug out. I guess them apples was shook off to early.
But we give the rebs a severe tanning and then go on about our business. Our cavalry said the rebs in places would lay dead 40 & 50 on a rod and a half square. War is a big thing where it done up Brown.
I have been unwell but I took it to stink. but we are now out of [danger]. Before you receive this letter, I shall have some sixty dollars to send home for safe keeping. If I get killed, I don’t want the rebs to get much of my money for I don’t like them. So they had better keep out of range of my bullets.
This partial letter is unsigned so we don’t know the author’s identity but he tells us he served in Co. C, 124th Illinois Infantry. Company C was known as the “Springfield company” though it was partly raised in Jersey county, Illinois. “It contained 103 noble men, nearly all of whom were Good Templars, and was organized in Carpenter’s Hall, Springfield, August 25th.”
A roster of Co. C has been included below from the history of the regiment.
The letter contains an excellent description of the movements of the regiment from the time they left Camp Butler until their arrival outside Memphis, Tennessee, where this letter was datelined in February 1863.
From the letter we can surmise that the soldier’s parents lived in Illinois but the recipient of the letter — his Uncle — lived somewhere in “the East.”
February 17, 1863
Permit me the privilege of writing to you a few lines hoping not to intrude upon your patience or time in reading this letter. But as I am far away in the South and you in the East, I suppose you would like to know how things are a moving down in this part of the world and what the western army is doing. I will try to inform you the best that I can. The division that I am in is about one mile back from the Mississippi river—at least our regiment is. We have been here for about 3 weeks expecting to get orders to move for Vicksburg almost any day. But there is quite an important business going on now—at least we think so for Uncle Sam is paying off his soldiers now at this point. We think that he did not come any too soon for our pocketbooks was getting the sweeney—as the boys call it—for we have not had any before since we went into the service. But we feel better since they have been filled again.
Well, we are not doing much just now in the way of fighting but expect to pitch in before long for everything looks very favorable for us to go to Vicksburg. The Rebels think they can whip us but they will have a chance to try it on for we are in a fighting division. I must tell you where we stand in military rank. It is the 17th Army Corps in General Grant’s army command by [James B.] McPherson. In the First Division command[ed] by John A. Logan and in the Third Brigade command[ed] by Colonel Hennie — acting Brigade Commander. Our regiment is the 124th Illinois Regiment of Infantry command[ed] by Thomas J. Sloan Co. I am in the collar company of the regiment. It is Company C, command[ed] by H. L. Field who is a very good man and is thought a great deal of both by the company and the colonel and the general also for he is a religious man and tries to do his whole duty. Our company is got the best reputation in the regiment for drill and promptness in the discharge of its duty.
I must tell you where we have run since we left home so if you wish, you can see our trip by looking on the map called the History of the War. We left Camp Butler the day that Father and Mother started for the East to make you a visit, then went to Columbus, Kentucky. From there we received orders to go to Jackson, Tennessee, where we laid about 6 weeks. Next went to Le Grange (Grand Junction) by the way of Bolivar. We laid there about 5 weeks, then our leader came for us to move south so off we went to the next place which was Holly Springs [arriving 30 November 1862], then west to Waterford. The next place was Abbieville. The next was Oxford where we was only about an hour before the time that we got in there the rebels left. So we went in hot pursuit of them but as night come on and as the roads was very muddy—so bad that our ammunition wagons could not keep up with us—so we had to stop then for 2 or 3 days for rations to come to us. Then orders came for another move so off we started. When we stopped, we found ourselves at the Yacona creek where we laid about 4 weeks. Then came orders for us to take the back track. Then if you had been there, you could have seen some long faces for some of the worst roads an army never passed over before, I don’t believe. For some of the way you could hardly pass along. But back we came through mud, water, rain, and darkness. We went some days as far as 28 miles in a day until we reached Grand Junction. Then we stopped for 2 days. Then our division was sent east to guard the Memphis & Corinth Railroad which we done for about 3 weeks. Then we had orders to start for Memphis. So off we started and passed through several little towns of not much note so now we find ourselves encamped near Memphis, Tennessee where we have been in camp for a little over 3 weeks and rained most of the time while we have been here.
I must tell you something of camp life. I will begin to tell you in the evening at 5 o’clock, our drums commence to beat. Then comes roll call. Then at 8 AM, at 12 & at 5 PM & at 8 o’clock in the evening and drill from 9 A.M. until 11 o’clock. Dress parade from 4 to 5 P.M. On the Sabbath we ought to have preaching but as out chaplain is not the man for the place, he has not preached more than 10 or 12 times since we left Camp Butler. That was about 6 months ago as it it seems but it is a little over 5 months. So we don’t hear the word of the Lord as much as a great many of us would like to hear for in Christ Jesus is our hopes, and if we put on the armor of faith and confidence, I believe we will come out right. Trusting that we are in the right cause, we look forward with eager eyes for the day to come and that soon too, for we think thee has rained blood enough, spilt already, and the Earth atoned with blood in enough places without continuing it any longer. But I don’t see that it is any closer to an end than it was 9 months ago. What is your opinion on it, Uncle? I would like to hear from you on this point.
I don’t know anything of interest or news at this time except what perhaps you have heard of before this for I expect and I know that my folks at home get news before we do unless it happens within our division. You must pardon me for writing so long length a letter for I expect you will get tired of reading it. Excuse bad writing for if you could see how we have to write, I think you would excuse this letter. Give my love to Jane folks and to Aunt and my cousins. I would like to hear from you if you can make it convenient for to write. I would like….
These two letters were written by Pvt. Francis M. Faurot (1835-1897) of Co. E, 16th Indiana Infantry. Francis was the son of John Holliday Faurot (1802-1891) and Jane Chance (1807-1888) of Laurel, Franklin county, Indiana. He wrote the letter to Mary Esther Pruden (1840-1885) whom he married on 1 September 1863 in Franklin county, Indiana. In 1870, Francis and Mary resided in Rush county, Indiana, where he worked as a farmer. In 1880, Francis and Mary resided in Greenfield, Hancock county, Indiana, where he worked as a “street contractor.” Francis and Mary are both buried in Park Cemetery in Greenfield.
Francis mustered into the 16th Indiana Regiment on 23 April 1861 and mustered out on 23 May 1862. This regiment was organized for state service at Richmond in May, 1861 and mustered in on July 23. It left the state the same day, being the first regiment to pass through Baltimore after the firing upon the 6th Mass. in April. It was assigned to Banks’ army and stationed in Pleasant Valley. It was attached to Abercrombie’s brigade and in August moved to Hyattstown. It left there for Ball’s bluff on Oct. 20, reaching there the following morning and went into line of battle, taking part in the engagement that followed, and was detailed to cover the retreat on the 22d, being the last to cross the river. On Dec. 2 it moved to Frederick City, then to Harper’s Ferry, and later to Winchester. It built a bridge across the Shenandoah at Snicker’s ferry, and was in various movements until Warrenton was reached in April, 1862. Col. Hackleman was commissioned a brigadier-general on April 30. The regiment was mustered out at Washington May 14, 1862
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
November 18th 1861
Once more I seat myself to write in answer to yours which I received late last evening. Well, Mary, to commence with, we are all heels and head preparing our little mansions so as to make us comfortable whilst sleeping. I will give you an idea of our plan in fixing our tents. We first cut logs and carry them up. We then go to work and build a pen about 4 feet hight with these logs — just large enough so that our tents will cover them. Then we commence on the inside and dig in the ground 2 or 3 feet or any depth we please. Then our heads is about as high as the top of our pen when we are standing up. Now we have a fireplace to build. We go to work and cut a hole in the bank the size we want our fireplace, then build a chimney with sod. Now we want some place to sleep. We go to work and split from the timber what we call puncheons. It answers in the place of plank. We get them long enough so they will reach from one side of our pen to the other and fasten them between the logs about 3 feet from the bottom of our pit. We then cover it with straw. That is our bed. It is the most comfortable situation that we have had whilst soldiering. We know not what hour we will leave here. Rather than stay in our tents as they were, we thought it would look more like living to get to work and make ourselves as comfortable as possible and run the risk in leaving it. We have no shurity of staying here any length of time. We went to work and prepared our quarters comfortable without any orders so we will have to run the risk in leaving them.
Mary, you wanted me to give you a description of the country where we now are, our clothing, and so on. Our clothing is sufficiently warm for this time in the season. Our blankets is rather thin to keep us warm whilst sleeping, or was when we were in our tents. Now we consider ourselves in a comfortable situation.
We are encamped in a pine grove about 3 miles from the Potomac river. The country around us is hilly and very poor. The place we are now encamped has once been a cultivated field but is now thrown out to the commons, worn out, and grown up in evergreen. It looks very pleasant or would if they were in Indiana. There is so much of that kind of shrubbery here, it has become a common thing, so we pass it unnoticed.
I suppose you have heard of our advance across the river in Virginia so it would be unnecessary for me to give an account of it. Making a long story short, we had a hard time whilst we were across the river. We suffered with cold, hunger, and loss of sleep. I suppose you have heard all about it so I will leave that subject. ¹
You wanted to know something about the weather. So far it has been tolerable favorable. We sometimes have a day or two raining which makes it disagreeable. It has happened that every time we have made a move, it was sure to rain. Then it is miserable marching and sleeping in wet clothes upon the wet ground.
You spoke in your letter something about what I had written to you concerning religion. It appears as though I hurt your feelings. If I did, Mary, I did not mean it in the least. I cannot express myself here as I would wish because there is so much confusion all the time and I have such an inconvenient way of writing so I have a poor way of arguing the point on any subject. I see, Mary, that you and I will differ on religion that I will pass for the present. There was one thing I neglected when I wrote to you, Mary, and that was this. I ought to have returned you my thanks for your sympathy for me. I intended to do so and thought I had, but I reckon I did not. I hope it is not too late yet. If it is not, I return my most sincere thanks and hoping your prayers may be heard and accepted. What I meant by hypocrite was a person that professes to have religion when they really have not. I think a person that professes religion should never do wrong. If they do wrong, what is the path of righteousness for?
Well, Mary, I am about to get into an argument so I will leave that subject. The reason I said your prayers would not be heard was because you thought you done so wrong in going to Hildrith’s party when it was against your will. I was only joking when I said it. So Mary, you may make yourself easy about that. I hope you will not be justifiable in taking to yourself what I said about a hypocrite. (I hope you are not.)
Another thing you spoke of you appear to think that I am corresponding with Sallie Roberts. I am not, most assuredly. I never have heard from her since I was in Camp Wayne. That you was aware of. When I was at home, we were talking about it. I received it unexpectedly and it was the last I have heard from her. It appears strange to me, Mary, that you make such enquiries. I really don’t know what you mean by so doing. Enough on that subject.
The 7th of this month, [Joel] Palmer Coffee ² was shot about three o’clock P.M. It was a sorrowful afternoon to me to think he should lose his life in that kind of manner. He was on guard at the time of his death. The way it happened was Palmer and the sentinel next to him were going through some bayonet exercises and his opponent’s gun accidentally went off and killed Palmer almost instantly. I think he lived about 30 minutes but he was senseless. He was carried to the hospital and there he died. We had him fixed nicely in a military suit and wrapped him in our silk flag that we brought from Indiana and put him in a respectable coffin and expressed him home. Our company has entered into an arrangement to send any of the company home should they die in camp or get killed in battle if there is not so many we can’t.
You requested me to have my body sent home should I fall victim. That has always been my calculations. The arrangement that is now made is sufficient. They are calling the roll so I will finish tomorrow. Goodnight dear Mary.
19th — As I had to quit writing last evening in a hurry, I will finish this morning. Yesterday we had Grand Review. The whole brigade was present. They all met about one mile and half from our camp and our arms were inspected by our Brigadier General. After being thoroughly inspected, we marched back to our quarters. When we returned, we found the paymaster in our camp. He will commence paying today. The boys are all in a good humor and talking of nothing but the money they are going to get. They will all live well whilst their money lasts.. When they have it all spent, then [ ] bacon and crackers is their only resort.
As I have no more news of importance, I will quit for the present. I have been looking over my writing. I find some miserable blunders, blotches, and poor spelling. I hope you will overlook them all — or as many as you can conveniently. Give Lina my best wishes. Tell her she must not fall too deeply in love with the new school teacher. Tell Gina to drop me a few lines if she has any spare moments. Please don’t delay writing yourself as long as you did before. I had come to the conclusion that you had quit writing. No more this time. (Write soon) From your sincere friend, — F. M. Faurot
To Miss Mary E. Pruden
¹ A reference to the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in late October 1861.
² Joel Palmer Coffee (1842-1861) was the nephew of Joel Palmer (1810-1881).
Pages 1 7 $
Pages 2 & 3
Pages 5 & 8
Pages 6 & 7
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Hicks near Frederick City, Maryland
January 11th 1862
Your welcome letter of the 1st came to hand. The pleasure it gave. I have been looking for a letter mail after mail but none came until this evening. Mary, why don’t you write sooner after receiving my letters? The time seems so long. It has been almost one month since I received a letter from you. I had almost come to the conclusion that some Home Guard had attracted your attention so that you need not send your letters so far. I must confess my thoughts were wrong. Your thrice welcome letter came at last.
Well Mary, this is my cook day. Oh the trouble I have this day. First thing this morning was to get up and walk nearly ½ mile through the mud to get a bucket of water. When I got nearly to camp, I stubbed my toe and fell down in the mud and upset the bucket of water. I then had to go back to the spring again. After an absence of about one hour, I returned back to camp again. I found the boys almost disgusted at me for staying so long. The question was asked [of] me: “Why did you stay so long?” I made no reply but told them to just stand around if they wanted any breakfast. It was a breakfast that was relished by all — not because it was so nicely gotten up, but because it was so long coming. That spring I have visited twice since and cooked two more meals besides breakfast. Oh dear, how tired I am. Do you not pity me, Mary? Once every six days I have to cook as we have 6 in our mess and cook day about — enough on that subject.
I am so surprised to hear of the weddings you spoke of in your last letter. Is it possible Francis is married? Well, well, well. I must leave that subject.
A few days ago to my great surprise I received a letter from an old friend — Minervia Power. I answered it immediately. She spoke highly of the party at Andersonville. I suppose the boys at Camp Bush are in the height of glory. I suppose the kind of soldiering they have is very comfortable as there is no long marches attached. I reckon they never think of reaching an enemy’s soil. My opinion is they never will leave the county as it will be impossible to fill the regiment — it has been so long formed and not yet full. From what I can hear, they are drinking and acting the soldier in the most horrible manner. Should that be the case, it would be better if they had stayed at home. Should they be discharged, they can have it said when they get old that they was once a soldier. Oh, how they can boast of their adventures in the War of 1861. Enough on that subject.
I am surprised to hear of Phebe taking her leave of the State of Indiana and fleeing to the state of matrimony and Illinois. I suppose she will become a resident of both the latter names states. All that I can do for all of them folks that would get married is wishing them well. I hope you have a nice time going to school. Oh that I were a school boy once more. It almost brings tears to my eyes to reflect back on the gone by days that I spent at school and then think of my present situation — the pleasant hours that have passed whilst at school — [but] it is no use lamenting — they cannot be recalled. The only consolation I have is to look forward to the time that may find me seated at a happy home, protected by a good government. That time, I fear, is far distant. I may never live to witness it. A faint hope is all I have. So far we have gained no victory worthy of notice. On the other hand, the rebels can boast of their success at different times.
We have been expecting a forward move by our division to form a junction with Rosecrans near Charlestown, Va. We still remain in camp. I do not know how long we may stay. Last week we were expecting to march out and camp in the snow. We were ordered to have two days rations cooked and be ready to march at any moment. Now the weather has become warm [and] the snow all disappearing, the rain falling, and things are all quiet in camp. There is no telling how long it mat remain so. The idea of our marching out in such disagreeable weather almost makes us shudder. Exposure would kill more than the rebels would with their masked batteries which they have waiting for us. We get horrible news from the troops in Kentucky. They are dying off daily from exposure. The Army of the Potomac is blessed with good health — that is a great object with a soldier — good health and plenty to eat.
It is now raining very hard. The poor guards have to suffer tonight. I have been in their situation so often that I know how to appreciate their feelings. I have often stood guard when it was raining and so dark that it was impossible to see a distance of three paces. Guard is the most disagreeable task we have to perform in camp. It is getting so late I am now burning a light contrary to orders. For fear of the consequence, I will postpone writing until tomorrow. Goodnight, dear Mary.
Sunday morning 12th. — This morning finds us in good health. Our mess were all represented at the table. So you know they are all accounted for. As to Charlie’s whereabouts, I must confess I have neglected speaking about him in my letters. The reason is he is driving team and I am seldom with him so in writing, I don’t think to speak about him. Once in awhile, Charlie comes up to our cabin and spends the evening. We frequently speak of our old friends that is far off. That is all we can do. Soon as I see Charlie, I will give him your love. I know it will be very acceptable.
From all appearances John Rees is getting some very interesting letters from Amanda Kyger. He appears to be highly gratified with the correspondent. I understood he had written to her that he was promoted to corporal. Well, he is corporal fifth or sixth. He reason he became corporal was because nobody else would accept it. Corporals here are considered the lowest class of soldiers. Their duty is to take the relief guards around and as the sentinels cannot leave their posts, the corporal’s place is to wait on them. So there is but few in each company that will accept it. John was one of them that considered it an honor worthy of note. Likewise, he noted it in his letter. It reminds me of a little notice I seen in a newspaper. It was as follows: Some private — as luck would have it — became corporal. He was so pleased with the promotion that he sat down and wrote to his intended informing her of his promotion. Her reply was, “Dear John, do be merciful on the poor privates.” It has become a byword in camp — dear John, be merciful on the poor privates. The corporals have but little peace — it has become a burlesque more than an honor. Enough on that subject.
You speak of Lambert volunteering in Rose’s Company. What part of soldier’s life can he perform? I am surprised at him for thinking of going. I got a letter from him some time ago. He said he intended to go but I thought he was jesting. As I have no more of importance to write, I will come to a close. I will enclose a leaf of pine from a tree that grew on sugar loaf mountain according to your wish. It was brought here in one of the wagons. You see I must quit for the want of space. I will anxiously look for a letter from Lina. Give all respects to all the family. Please write soon.
From your sincere friend, — F. M. Faurot
Charles has just come in. He sends his love.
Direct your letters as follows. F. M. Faurot, Co. E, 16th Regt. Ind. Vols., Frederick City, Md. — not by the way of Washington D. C.
N. B. This will pay for that blank page sent you before. There is 2 pages in one.
The author of this fascinating letter may never be known. He signed his name “Jo” and addressed the letter to “My Dear Wife” but otherwise left very few clues to his identity. What can be gleaned from the letter is that his Union regiment was encamped in or near McClellan’s headquarters at Savage’s Station on 28 June 1862, the day following the Union defeat at Gaines’s Mill. They were then ordered to withdraw from Savage’s Station, burning whatever could not be transported — even abandoning wounded soldiers — to move their base to the James river. The movements of the regiment and the description of engagements with the enemy suggest that the soldier was in one of the regiments left to cover the retreat — most likely in Sumner’s II Corps.
In the second paragraph, the author says that “one of Stackhouses’s boys” who belonged “to the Pennsylvania Reserves” came into the encampment at Savage’s Station bearing news of the defeat at Gaines’s Mill and was subsequently ordered out of camp. This suggests to me that the author may have known the boy’s father. A search of records revealed that there were two Stackhouse boys serving in the 32nd Pennsylvania Infantry (3rd Pennsylvania Reserves). Their names were David Stackhouse (b. 1841) of Co. K and William Stackhouse (b. 1839) of Co. I. Their father was Charles W. Stackhouse (1816-1872), a blacksmith residing in Altoona, Blair county, Pennsylvania.
Camp near City Point
Friday noon, July 4th 1862
My Dear Wife,
You have heard more about what has transpired in the army this last week than I can begin to tell you. All I know about it is there has been some very queer movements made — and some very hard battles fought — and instead of us taking Richmond, we have marched away from it. Our Generals pretend to say that it is strategy, but for my part, I can’t see the point.
On last Saturday [28 June 1862] afternoon, one of Stackhouse’s boys come into our camp and told us some of the awfullest stories about General McClellan getting defeated on the right [see: Battle of Gaines’s Mill]. He belongs to the Pennsylvania Reserves. He said that they had an awful battle and that Jackson came in and cut off our supplies and that we had been outflanked and badly whipped. Our Colonel heard him tell his story and then cleared him out of the camp. His story created a regular panic among us and the men were almost crazy. Well, we got orders to march at 3 in the morning [29 June] and everything that we could not carry we were to destroy which made things look very strange indeed. The officers cut their tents all up, broke their trunks all to pieces, and many a good uniform was destroyed. And the worst of all, we had to burn all of our provision that we could not carry. We had piles of it as high as a house. I suppose we had a $100,000 worth of it.
Well we left our camp and fortification [29 June] and marched about a mile when the enemy nearly surrounded us and we had to halt and fight him. We whipped them badly and we run clear out of sight and then we started on our march again which was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we were not disturbed again that day. ¹ The next morning [30 June] we started about daylight and marched about one mile and then we halted to cover the retreat so as to fetch off our baggage wagons and artillery. The enemy made his appearance again in large force about 2 in the afternoon and we had a hard fight until 9 at night when we whipped them again and then retreated again.² The enemy came after us hot foot and we had to stand and fight again. We were exposed to a very hot fire all day but whipped them again and took 2 batteries and a whole brigade prisoners.
The next morning [1 July] we started again and marched all day without any disturbance and encamped within ½ mile of the James river and near City Point. The enemy attacked us yesterday morning [3 July] and we whipped him again and took 2 guns and 800 prisoners. And now they are not to be seen. I think we will cross the James river and wait and get reinforcements and then take Richmond.
I understand the President has called out 300,000 more men which is what we want badly for the enemy has outnumbered us in every fight. We have had very hard times but we will now have it easier. I suppose you have been worried about me and I would [have] wrote sooner but we had no chance for we were forbid. I have not received a letter from you yet and it has miscarried. Write as soon as you get this. I am well and hope to be home soon which is my greatest desire. I want to see you all — you and the baby especially. I have been very fortunate indeed as we have been exposed to danger very much. We have not a man killed but 8 wounded. I don’t think we will have any more fighting to do soon — not until the army is reorganized anyhow — and then we will make very short work of it which is just what I want.
Tell our folks that you have heard from me and don’t be worried if you do not get a letter soon for we may be where we can’t get a mail. I don’t know when you will get this but I hope soon. So goodbye from your, — Jo
¹ The author is probably describing the assault by John B. Magruder’s division on Maj. Gen. Edwin B. Magruder’s troops at Allen’s Farm which lasted a couple of hours.
² This would have been the fighting at Glendale (or Frayser’s Farm) on 30 June 1862.
This letter was written by Cpl. George R. McCarty (1839-18xx) of Co. E, 78th Ohio Infantry which was raised in Morgan county, Ohio, in December 1861. He had previously served with his cousin, William H. McCarty (b. 1840), in Co. H, 17th Ohio Infantry — a three-month’s service unit that mustered out in mid-August 1861. William H. McCarty later enlisted with Co. C, 97th Ohio Infantry, and was killed at the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee) on 30 November 1864. It appears that George rose in the ranks to sergeant of Co. E, 78th Ohio but later deserted and did not muster out with the regiment.
Addressed to Mr. Forster Edwards, Triadelphia, Morgan county, Ohio
Postmarked Manchester, Mississippi
Camp near the Youcapatapa River, Mississippi
December 17, 1862
I take the present opportunity of informing you that I am well & hope that these few lines may find you & your family the same. I expect that you think I have forgotten you but I have not. I think of you and all the rest of the folks in Triadelphia every day but have put off writing to any of them, but now I shall try and scratch a few lines to you thinking you will excuse me for not writing sooner.
Well, Uncle, the news in camp today does not amount to much. I guess that Old [Sterling] Price has got out of hearing of any of us now and our army here has stopped & I expect will stay here the balance of the winter — or at least it looks that way to me now. It seems to be the opinion of the men that the war is over in this department and if that is the case, we will not go any farther south at the present. Some say that General Price & the greater portion of his army has gone to Virginia but I don’t believe that, although such might be the case for it seems to me that anything can happen in war time and especially in the 78th Regiment — although we have a very good regiment — just about as good as any that is in the service — although it had a pretty hard name once — but such is the case with about all new regiments. You know that a new hand at the business always makes things go. Whether they go right or wrong, they have to go & sometimes they got to their sorrow & that was the way with this regiment once. But thank fortune I have stood it through the storms so far. But there is thousands that has not.
Well Uncle, I have not much more news to write of any importance and I will give you a little history of our travels since we left Zanesville, Ohio. We left Zanesville on the 10th of February for Cincinnati and arrived there the next day. The [we] started for Paducah on the steamer Tecumseh, arriving on the 14th. Then [we] returned back to the mouth of the Cumberland [river] and arrived before Fort Donelson on the evening of the 15th. The next day we marched to the battlefield but before our arrival, the whole rebel forces had surrendered unconditionally. Then we encamped on the hill about 2 miles from Dover & on the 1_th we marched to Dover. ¹
On the 7th of March, we marched to the Tennessee river above Fort Henry & from there to Mettles Landing on the 15th of March & from there to Crump’s Landing, arriving on the 17. Encamped on the bank of the river a few days & then marched to Adamsville — distance 7 miles. On the 6th of April we marched to Shiloh Battlefield, participating in the fight the next day. We bivouacked near or on the battlefield until the 16th of April when we moved to Shiloh Springs. On the 4th of May [we] marched toward Monterey and encamped at Camp Leggett where we built breastworks & on the 8th we moved to Stony Point — a short distance. On the 18th, [we] marched forward on Corinth Road and encamped at Camp Jewett where the brigade built breastworks again. On the 2nd [June], marched to Bethel, arriving on the 4th and from there to Jackson on the 7th of June where we remained until the 26th when we were ordered to start for Grand Junction, arriving the same day with the 30th Illinois Regiment Vols., & then returned back to Bolivar on the 25th of July.
On the 30th of August we had a small fight about 5 miles from camp. On the 18th of September we was ordered to Corinth. We arrived there on the 16th & pitched tents & the same evening got orders to march to Burnsville. We arrived there the next morning and the rain just poured down the heaviest kind & expecting to go into a fight right off. The town was full of rumors about the skirmish they had the day before. The next day we marched on towards Iuka, driving the enemy’s pickets back for three days, when we arrived back at Bolivar safe. On the 9th of October, marched to LaGrange expecting to find something for to do but just as usual nothing there. Returned back to camp once more with considerable fatigue and I think that I will fatigue you with my nonsense so I shall quit that subject for this time.
The boys here is all well and hearty and appear to like the service better every day. I don’t expect you would know them for they are so fat & lazy that it is hard work for them to eat their rations of crackers, fat meat, & other things in proportion. Everything is going on fine here in camp. The weather is nice and pleasant. It is a little cool of nights, but it is just right. It makes the boys turn over while they are sleeping and that, you know, is good for anyone’s health. I don’t think it is good for one to sleep too sound.
Well Uncle, I must tell you the joke the boys played on the old Doctor the other night but I don’t know who it was. But anyhow they hooked a keg of whiskey from hind and had a jolly time of it, you better think. Well Uncle, I expect if you had of been here you would of died laughing at some of them. Well the boys must all have their sport here as well as at home. We have some good times here as well as hard times.
Well there is one thing yet & that is the description of our tents. We have to carry them on our backs. They are about a yard and a half square and each one has his piece and two of us goes together and it makes a pretty nice tent of it — just about big enough for that old hog of yourn to turn around in.
Well, I shall have to bring my letter to a close by bidding goodbye. You must excuse all mistakes for I expect there is plenty of them. No more ay present but write soon and let me know how you are prospering. Give my love and best respects to all enquiring friends.
Yours truly, — George R. McCarty
to Mr. Edwards, Esq. of Tridelphia, Morgan County, Ohio
Oh! yes there is one thing — I shall let you pay the postage.
¹ According to a regimental history by Stephenson, “The Sabbath was spent in burying the dead on the battlefield. The 78th [Ohio] bivouacked that day in a large cornfield, without tents or shelter. About midnight a heavy rain set in, which continued without intermission for two days. The next day the regiment moved into the woods and constructed temporary shelters of rails and brush…. Col. Leggett being that day appointed ‘Pst Commander,’ received orders in the evening to move his ‘regiment into the town of Dover, and encamp it close by the river for post duty.’ Here the regiment encountered hardships that cannot be forgotten. The place, and the only place suitable that was near the town, was just below the town, where all its filth naturally collected, and where dead rebels had been buried less than a foot deep, and the mud extended still deeper. The stench was so great that after the men had their tents pitched, they were seized with fits of vomiting. In a few days, sickness prevailed to such an extent that officers became alarmed.”
This letter was written by George W. Plummer (1837-1871) of Whitefield, Lincoln county, Maine. He wrote the letter to his wife, Julia A. (Chase) Plummer (1840-1896), the daughter of Edwin Chase and Sarah Chase. At the time of the 1860 US Census, George was enumerated with Edwin Chase’s family in Whitefield as a 22 year-old hired hand on the Chase farm.
George W. Plummer enlisted for 9 months on 10 Sept 1862 in Augusta at age 25 in Co. F, 21st Maine Infantry. According to his record at the Maine State Archives, he was married, had dark complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, was 5′ 8″ tall, and was employed as a farmer. He was mustered in 13 Oct 1862; honorably discharged and mustered out 25 Aug 1863 in Augusta.
George and Julia had two children — George E. (b. 1861), and Frank W. (b. 1862) — before George went to California. After George returned to Maine in 1866, he and Julia had two more children — Henry (b. 1867) and Annie (b. 1869). In 1867, George applied for a veteran’s pension claiming he was an invalid. He died at Whitefield of consumption.
It appears that George had a younger brother named Thomas H. Plummer (b. 1843) who served in Co. F, 21st Maine Infantry also. Thomas died at Mound City, Illinois of fever on 8 August 1863.
From this letter we learn that after his 9-month term of service in the 21st Maine Infantry, George went to California where he was a laborer on a ranch or farm south of San Francisco. He does not indicate why he chose to separate himself from his family for an extended period but it appears that it was to avoid the military draft. In February 1864, the Maine Farmer published the revised Maine statute for drafting which made it abundantly clear that the new draft would no longer exempt men between the ages of 20 and 45 years of age who had not served at least two years in the military or naval service of the present war. If drafted, the only recourse a draftee had was to pay $300 to the state for a substitute which clearly George did not have. George speaks of not being able to leave California even if he wanted to. My hunch is that he signed a contract for labor that paid his expenses to California for a one or two-year period of indenture.
[Note: This letter is from the collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent]
San Bruno [California]
October 29, 1864
I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am yet alive and well & hope those few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing. I received a letter from you last Thursday & today is Saturday. I was sorry to hear that you have sprained your wrist but very glad to hear that you was all well.
Well, my darling one, you said in your letter that I was drafted. I expected I would be before this war was over. Well, if I had been there, I suppose I should of went for it would have been impossible to get a substitute & you know that would’ve been rather hard to pay the last dollar we had for me. [But] here I am & here I shall stay. If they want me bad enough to hunt me up, they can have me but I will put them to a heap of trouble before they get me.
Cummings has gone to the city today. I sent for some gold dollars. If he gets me any, I will send one in this letter. Dinner is ready. I must go. I will finish this tomorrow. Good afternoon, my love. — G. W. P.
October 30th — Sunday morning — How do you do today? I am well but awful lonesome. The wind blows very hard. I think it will blow up a storm, There is a new moon today at 10 o’clock. It is half past 10 now. If you are as lonesome as I am today, I pity you. Here I am way among strangers & in a strange land & can’t come home if I wanted to ever so much. Oh well, one year hain’t much.
Oh Julie, the wild geese are thicker here than you ever saw grasshoppers in Maine. There is ever so many out hunting today. Hain’t they wicked? This ranch is going to be broke up the first of January. I don’t know what they are going to [be] doing then. I think they will go to farming. Farming will be tip top if there is any rain this winter. Everything is very high here now.
I wish you would come out here next spring. I can’t come home to see you now, can I? Shit on the draft. Hurrah for Dan Norris and the rest of the boys. It is hard for them but they have got to stand to it. Where is Abe now? I don’t hear a word from him. Have they got a boy yet? Hurrah for Mrs. Russell’s boy. Julie, is our stove where I put it in the pig pen? You must look & see if it hain’t getting very rusty. If it is, you must have it put somewhere else. I would not have it get very rusty for anything. I may live to use it again sometime.
Friend Cummings got me 3 gold dollars. I will send one in this letter. If you can’t put your money at interest, you can put it in my little drawer & lock it up. That will be a good place for it. I want you to keep what gold you get pretty close. Don’t let anyone know that you have got any.
You must direct your letters in care of J. C. Green & I will be more sure to get them. As this sheet is about full, I will draw to a close. My love to Father & Mother Chase & all the rest of the children. Kiss the babes for me. You have one good kiss from me and lots of love with it. That is all this time. Write often.
These letters were written by William W. Fish who enlisted at age 19 in Co. C of the 11th New Hampshire Infantry. There are two groups of letters in this collection. One set includes letters that Fish wrote from the time of his enlistment up to the Battle of Fredericksburg, where he was wounded on Dec. 13, 1862. Another group of letters were written in 1864 while the regiment was in Tennessee and later at Annapolis, Maryland, before participating in the Overland Campaign with Burnside’s Ninth Corps in May 1864. Fish was taken prisoner in the fighting at the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, and held at Andersonville Prison. According to one account, he met John Whipple at Andersonville, a member of his company. Whipple died before he could be exchanged and Fish later married his widow.
I thought as I had leisure time I would write a few lines and let you know how we get along. I and the rest of the boys are in good health. We have moved our quarters into the tents the 9th [Regiment] occupied. A company from Epping arrived here this forenoon and another company has just come from Manchester and we expect to have eight companies here this week. It is said we are to have our uniform tomorrow and probably our bounty. Captain [Hollis] Dudley expects we will start for Dixie in a week from Thursday. I will probably not get more than another day furlough before I start. Tell Martha to be getting things ready that she thinks I will need.
We keep a guard around our camp now. I have to take my turn. The Ninth Regiment left quite a lot of trash behind. We went to work and cleaned out the tent we occupy and most everyone found something. I found a first rate new three-bladed penknife, five cents in change, ink, a bottle of olive oil, and a few other things. One fellow found a dollar bill & Reub Smith found a knife and twenty-six cents. Gil [Smith] found a dirk knife. Quite a number found money. We have first rate living and plenty of it. Ten of us were detailed to go over to the city in the Quartermaster store and hoist up a lot of goods from the lower story to the one above and I had a chance to see our uniforms. It is to be dark blue pants [and] dark overcoats. I understand we are to have no dress coats. I did not see any there.
I do not think of much more to write. My love to Mother, Martha, Charley, and all the rest. Write soon and let me know how you all get along. Please direct your letters in care of Capt. H. Dudley, Co. C, 11th Regiment.
From your affectionate son, — William
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Capitol Hill, Washington D. C.
September 14, 1862
I just got time to pen you a few lines. We started from Concord a little before nine Thursday morning and went by way of Worcester through Providence to Groton about six miles from Stonington, Connecticut, where we took the steamer Plymouth Rock. We went on board after dark. I expected to be seasick but was not a bit. We passed the Great Eastern a little this side of New York and then we passed Blackwell Island and between New York and Brooklyn and landed at Jersey City about eight o’clock Friday morning and waited till about noon when we took the cars.
This is a great place for peaches out this way. We passed on through New Brunswick, Princeton, [and] Trenton. When on the road between the two latter places, we had ten rounds of ammunition each. We passed on through to Philadelphia where they gave us a most cordial welcome. I think this city [Philadelphia] is the best place I ever saw. Everything looks clean and neat in great contrast to Baltimore. We took our supper at the Soldier’s Home. We have often read of this place but I never thought I should be there. We had a good supper. We passed up through and stopped on a common till about twelve or one o’clock when we marched about a mile to the depot where we stopped for the rest of the night. As we passed through the city, the streets were lined with people who cheered and shook hands with us. Ours was the fifth regiment that passed through that day.
Saturday morning we took the cars which were old freight cars and passed through Wilmington, Delaware, and other places to Berryville opposite Havre de Grace. We stopped here two or three hours when we took the boat across to the latter place. We see a great many Negroes on the route and we passed by patches of melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, &c. between Jersey City and Philadelphia. We reached Baltimore at about six o’clock. The people received us pretty well as we entered the city but as we marched through to the other depot, they looked pretty sullen and cold. This is a dirty, nasty place. There is a great many niggers here.
We got our supper at the Soldier Relief. It was not so good as we got at Philadelphia. Everything appears mean and nasty in this place. It was nearly nine o’clock when we started out. They did not offer any assistance. We was all night going to Washington — a distance of forty miles. We reached here about seven o’clock. I understand we are to stop here two or three weeks. We got our breakfast which consisted of a piece of bread and chunk of raw salt pork and coffee. Not much like the supper we got at Philadelphia.
We are all well notwithstanding our long ride. Col. Harriman was given his choice to go to Fortress Monroe or to stay here in the Army of the Potomac. He chose the latter so we belong to the Army of the Potomac. But I will close as I am rather tired not having slept much since I left home. I am well and hope you are all the same. Write as often as you can. My love to all.
From your affectionate son, — William
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Chase, Alexandria, Va.
September 25, 1862
I received Martha’s kind letter last Saturday and was happy to hear from home and that you were all well. I have just been out with six others getting wood a short distance from camp and as the regiment is out on battalion drill, it is a favorable opportunity to write. I presume you would like to know how we pass time. Well in the morning the first thing, the drums are beat at six and we have to tumble out for roll call. Then breakfast at half past six. After breakfast we have company drill and inspection which lasts about two hours and then we have the rest of the forenoon [to ourselves]. In the afternoon we have battalion drill and dress parade and will have company drill when we get fairly regulated. We have had two division reviews — one day before yesterday. We are in Gen. Casey’s Division. There were as near as I could learn twelve thousand troops reviewed and a number of batteries. It is a grand sight to see the columns as they pass — to see the bayonets glistening and the steady tread of the men.
Gen. [Silas] Casey is an old man with gray hair and prominent nose. He wears a beard. There are a great many troops in the vicinity. Take it in the night and look off, the camps present the appearance of a city lit up. The Tenth Regiment, I understand, has arrived at Washington and [we hear] that two men were killed on the way. I wrote to [brother] John a few days ago but have received no answer as yet. I understand the battery [1st N. H.] has moved from Leesboro but do not know how true it is. Gill [Smith] received a letter last night [but] I do not know who from. We Bakersville boys are well. Reub [Smith] didn’t like it because he received no letter from home. I wrote home last week. I forgot the date. It is rather hard keeping track of the time out here.
I tent with some good boys — five of us. Sergt. Ed[ward] Emerson is one — he is acquainted with Father. Gill ¹, Reub, ² Charley C. Johnson. Orderly Sergeant. [Jeremiah C.] Lyford are in the next tent. I don’t know how long we will stop here. The boys all like Col. [Walter] Harriman. We have also a good chaplain [Frank K. Stratton]. He takes charge of the letters so we have all our letters brought to us. Please send out the Boston Journal or Mirror once in awhile. Capt. [Hollis] Dudley is unwell today.
There is more darkeys out here than at home. There are also a great many mules here in the army teams. Everything most is high out here. I do not buy much as I have plenty to eat of my rations but I do not think of much more to write at present. My love to all and accept a large share for yourself. Kiss Eddie and Sumner for me. Give my respects to Uncle Charles’ family and tell him to write.
From your affectionate son, — William
September 25, 1862
Dear Brother Charles — I suppose you would like to have me write you. Do you miss me any? This is different from working in the mill. There are a great many troops here. There are thirty-two forts around Washington in a circle. Fort Richardson — near us — mounts 8 thirty-two pounders. But as I have not much space, I will try to write you next time. You must write often. From — William
¹ “Gil” was Gilman M. Smith of Manchester. He died of disease at Camp Nelson in Kentucky on 10 February 1864.
² “Reub” was Reuben V. G. Smith of Manchester.
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
October 2, 1862
I wrote you last Monday at Camp Chase but we had orders to march. We got got packed and ready to start but as there was a general movement, we could not get the cars and we started Tuesday morning and marched to Washington where we stopped till yesterday in a field. The 10th [New Hampshire] Regiment started Tuesday. They are here at Frederick. We started about half past ten. We went to the Relay House nine miles from Baltimore. This is a very pretty place. The road passes over a massive stone arched bridge [the Thomas Viaduct]. The B&O Railroad here takes a sharp curve — nearly a right angle — and follows a stream through a valley. It is a very crooked road. This is a beautiful scenery passing through and it must have been at a vast expense of labor and money to build it. A great part of the way the road is cut through solid rock. We passed by numerous grapevines loaded with grapes — also butternuts and chestnuts. Most of the way between the Relay House and Woodstock there is hardly a place where the road is straight the length of the train.
We came through safe and sound although we were packed like cattle on board a freight train — two cars to each company — part of the men being on top. Along in the middle of the [trip], it set in for a storm and then it was a complete jam to lay down — legs mixed up in every direction. We passed a train of 400 paroled prisoners. We couldn’t get much sleep till we arrived here at four this morning where our company piled into an old barn and laid down on the hay.
I regret to tell you that [Lt. Ira] Wilkins is unwell. The captain took him to a private house where Charley Johnson is taking care of him. He has the neuralgia and ague.
This is rather a pretty place., I should think full as large as Manchester. We expect orders any time to leave. We shall not probably stop over a day or two at the furthest. It is the talk that we are to take the cars to Sandy Hook to go under Gen. Burnside but I do not think of much more to write. Write as often as you can. My love to all from your affectionate brother, — William
P. S. In my last letter I forgot to put this bill in. — William
Frederick, Oct 2 — Dear brother Charles, I am in first rate health and hope you are all the same. I have seen a great many troops since I left home and a great many horses and mules. There was some skirmishing near this city. We are some fifteen miles from the battlefield. We expect to be in Harpers Ferry soon. The Battery is somewhere in the vicinity of it. I saw one of the battery boys at Washington. He has been sick. He said [our brother] John was well. Give my respects to all and tell Frank Guilford to write and that I would like to see him. When you write, direct your letters to Washington. The cooks are now dressing the chickens and geese the boys have caught for dinner and I must close as my sheet is full. — William
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Pleasant Valley, Maryland
October 14, 1862
I received Mother’s kind letter last Friday and was happy to hear from home and that you were all well. I am the same as also is Gill, Reub, and Charley although there are a great many that have the diarrhea probably owing in part to the water. There is a great deal in taking care of oneself.
We are having cool, cloudy weather. It commenced to rain last Friday and has rained by spells since. I must tell you that Reub and Charley Baker have left us and gone into the Second Regiment, Co. E, U. S. Regular Battery but they still belong to our regiment — only being detailed for a time. The way I understand it, they volunteered and went off in good spirits. Only three went from our company. We were sorry to lose them as there was so much fun in them. We called him — Reub — the clown of the company. But they will probably be back soon with us again.
I have been writing with ink made from garget berries which are very plenty here. I received Martha’s kind letter tonight since we came in from battalion drill and was happy to hear from her. I wrote to Eva Baker Sunday. She probably has got it by this time. I wrote home last Wednesday near Dr. Butler’s house. We have moved about ¾ miles since then. We are brigaded under Brig. Gen. [Edward] Ferrero in Gen. Burnside’s army of the Ninth Army Corps. We will not probably stop herre long though we can not tell.
The 9th and 10th [New Hampshire] Regiments are here near us. The centre section under William Chamberlin of the [1st N. H.] Battery were down here last night. They carried two guns to the depot at Sandy Hook and stopped here on their way back. The boys look well. [Brother] John did not come with them but the boys say he is well. Ed Baker has got the breach so he did not come. The Battery is right over the mountain about 11 miles from here. They only stopped a few minutes.
We have a good chance to wash as a brook runs by the foot of the hill on which we are camped. There is considerable quantities of butternuts, chestnuts, shag barks, and black walnuts though we cannot go far from camp without running the risk of being picked up by the patrol guard and sent to Harpers Ferry to work for twelve days as none of the soldiers are allowed out of the lines of their regiments without they have a pass signed by the Gen. Commanding. This is to pick up stragglers and prevent depredating —- but the drums are beating for roll call and my sheet is nearly full. I received those journals you sent and was much pleased with them. How are apples selling at home? They ask from one to two dollars a bushel here and potatoes are one dollar and two levies which is two shillings. I received $5.38 from the captain for backpay and $2.50 for board money — in all $7.88. Write as often as you can.
My love to all and my respects to Uncle Charles. Sgt. Ed Emerson sends his respects to you. He is my bedfellow and a good boy. — William
He [Emerson] belonged to the Odd Fellows at Manchester.
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
Editor’s Note: The New Hampshire Historical Society has a letter from William W. Fish to his Father written on 27 July 1863 from Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi. In it, he describes his regiment’s difficult travel to Snyders Bluff. He mentions early mornings and tough terrain due to heavy rain. He goes on to discuss the news of Charleston, SC, being taken over by Union forces. He also mentions a fancy shirt he took out of Rebel supplies that he hopes to send home. See: Letter 27 July 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Camp near Blain’s Crossroads, Tennessee
January 7, 1864
My dear Sister,
As no doubt you feel anxious concerning me as I have not written so often of late as formerly. I wrote a letter home on Saturday the 26th and now sit down to pen a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these lines will find you the same. I do not know whether you have received my two last letters or not as I have received but two letters from home since the 19th of November. Those two were received while at “Rutledge” — one containing Martha’s photographs. You must have felt quite anxious concerning me during the time we were besieged in Knoxville by Longstreet. We had no mail communication for three or four weeks and consequently did not write. But now (from all accounts the boot appears to be on the other leg), Grant and Sherman it has said has Longstreet surrounded. I sent you in my last a piece composed by one of the Indiana Battery on Longstreet’s visit to Knoxville. It is represented that he is in a very tight place and cannot get supplies or clothing and his men are deserting in great numbers. Two whole companies came in a day or two ago.
The weather here has been quite cool for the past week or more. I presume you have had snow before this time. We have had a sprinkling, just enough to whiten the ground. We are encamped right by the side of a beautiful brook with plenty of excellent wood. We build up large fires to keep warm by using about half a cord a day at some of the fires. It formed quite a picture for an artist to see us circled around the fires at evening telling stories, cooking, &c. I think you would be amused to see the various dishes we soldiers will get up. And as we sit eating our meat pudding, hull corn, or hard tack, thoughts of home will spring up and one will ask the other how he would like to be at home sitting at the table. The boys have never, it is said, been so healthy as at the present time owing in part to the coarse food we eat and together with this healthy climate and the exercise we have had lately. We draw half rations of flour and hard tack with fresh beef (not overstock with fat), fat pork, salt and ¼ rations of coffee and sugar. And we get a chance now and then to buy corn which we eat in the shape of hull corn and grind with meal in a coffee mill. I get all I want to eat and am, I think, the heaviest I have ever been. Nearly all the boys have gained in flesh notwithstanding the hardships we have gone through.
I wrote you in my last that you need not be surprised to hear me next in Kentucky, but we are not going quite so much as we were. It is now rumored that we are going to Newport News, three to wait till Burnside fits out an expedition. I give this only as a rumor. I think we shall leave the state for some other place before the winter is out. One of the chief topics of conversation at present is of re-enlistments. The 21st Massachusetts has nearly all re-enlisted and have started for home. They started this noon. I saw them pass. They had a lot of rebel prisoners with them. I do not know whether they will give this regiment a chance to re-enlist or not. I feel anxious to receive a letter from home. I suppose they have been delayed on the road. I received a letter from cousin Estella on Monday and answered it yesterday. She did not write much of any news.
Fighting is heard out at the front at times. The rebel deserters that come into our lines represent Longstreet’s army as in a terrible condition. They are hard up for shoes, some being barefoot and others in their stocking feet. Our army has been very successful for the past 6 or 8 months and I do not see how the Rebs are going to hold out much longer. The fact is there are whipped if they would only own it. But these poor whites are an ignorant set and believe just what their leaders stuff into them. I have had a chance to see something of southern society here in Kentucky and Tennessee and have seen a great many Rebels and conversed with some of them. You would be much amused to hear some of the expressions that they use. The folks here sleep all in one room. It looks strange to us to see three or four beds in one room, and strangers when visiting all turning in in the same room. I little thought I should be out here in 1864, not that I should be here in my 21st year but my birthday is near at hand. As it is getting late, I must close for the night.
My love to all, — William
Please send me a fine rubber comb in your next. Also a few stamps as they are difficult to get here.
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
[About the 1st of February 1864]
My dear Father,
I will now write you a few lines. I will begin where I left off with Charles. We stayed in the woods till about 1 at midnight when we were ordered to leave General Ferrero who commands the corps asked us if we were willing to draw off a piece of artillery by hand. There were 3 brass pieces left behind. I think they belonged to the 4th Corps which they were unable to get off, not having horses. Our regiment took one piece and drew it by hand by a rope over a rough road 2 or 4 miles and then across a creek and up a hill. It was nearly daylight when we stacked arms for breakfast and had not hardly time to get it when we had to fall in and march on. Some of the other troops now took the pieces and have led them to within about 8 miles of Knoxville where horses were sent out and took them into town — at least I think they got them in safe. When within about 7 miles of town, our troops turned into field to get breakfast when the rebel cavalry made their appearance and we were drawn into line of battle. We then retreated and drew up again, throwing out skirmishers and so fell back, skirmishing as we went marching by the rear into columns, till we came to some of the other corps drawn up in line when we marched to within 3 miles of town. I do not think the rebs had over 300 cavalry. They probably followed us up to pick up stragglers and find out what they could. They must have picked up a few of the boys. Three or four of the boys in ours came very near being taken as they were cooking breakfast.
On Saturday the next morning the rebs were gone. This day we drew rations of hard tack (by the way a great variety to us), pork, sugar and coffee, and drew clothing. We have been living very short since we came here in Tennessee, living mostly on what meal and flour they could forage once in awhile getting a little hard tack, flour being dealt out by spoonfuls. If we had not had a chance to buy a little meal and hoe cake at a great price, we would have suffered some. Yesterday we had orders to march passing through town and 5 miles beyond where we are now encamped in a piece of woods.
I have a little news to write you now. We are probably now on our way home to recruit up. It has been reported for some time from good authority that the 9th Corps are to report to New York and from there each regiment to his own state to recruit the corps up to 50,000 men to start out on an expedition next May under Burnside. I place considerable confidence in this report. It is talked of at headquarters. We are to proceed, it is said, by way of Chattanooga, Nashville, and Louisville. And I believe we are on our way now. I should not write you this if I did not have good reason to believe it.
The boys are enjoying good health. Wilkins, Uncle Ben Stevens, Charley Johnson, Ed Emerson &c. are well. Charley wants me to tell you to write and answer his letter. He wrote one a while ago he says. We came near losing our hard tack, sugar, and coffee. A train of 25 wagons loaded with these and clothing came over the mountain and when about 6 miles from town at the time we were falling back, the rebs got most onto them and they had to get up and get.
I sent you yesterday two papers — one of Brownlow’s [Knoxville Whig] and a Nashville Union. I have but a small opinion of that man. You can judge for yourself. I think his paper is too full of vulgarism and black guardism. But I have written a pretty long letter and so hoping you will excuse poor writing, I will close. Tell Uncle Charles as he gets the reading of my letters I consider it no more than fair that he should write me. From yours son, — William
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
April 8, 1864
My dear Father,
I now embrace the first favorable opportunity to answer your letter of the 28th. I am well and trust this will find you enjoying the same blessing. You must feel quite anxious about me it is so long since I have written you. My last was written at Morristown, Tennessee on the 14th. Since then we have traveled hundreds of miles by rail and on foot. We have had a hard tramp of it. The long expected order for us to report north came at last while at Morristown in season to escape a hard thing as Gen. Schofield had just issued an oder for a forward movement. We left the 4th and 23rd Corps at that place. We have since learned that they are beyond “Bull’s Gap” — 13 miles from Morristown. Morristown is 42 miles from Knoxville. Your letter mailed March 7the [was received] on the 15th. We left Morristown in the 17th and marched about 20 miles that say to New Market. The next day went to within 6 miles of Knoxville and on Saturday the 19th marched to a mile beyond town and camped till Monday, the 21st.
We have found the 9th which had just come on from Ft. Burnside. Knoxville is badly torn up. During the siege we destroyed Brownlow says 1/3 of the city to prevent the Johnnies from getting in the houses to fire from. Small Pox is raging in town to quite an extent.
On Monday the 21st we started from Knoxville on our march. We were disappointed in two or three things. In the first place, it was understood that we were to march to Loudon 29 miles below Knoxville and there take the cars via Chattanooga and Nashville. But the Headquarters sick, bummers, and extra baggage were sent around. In the second place, we were treated meanly in not being paid off. We signed the pay rolls and it was fully understood that we were to receive our pay. But after suffering and going through all that we have during the past winter, they paid off the officers and not us. We made the march from Knoxville to Camp [Bull] Nelson in 10 days — a distance of nearly 200 miles — 185 it is called — the quickest time made over the mountains. We came by way of Big Creek Gap. We encountered 2 or 3 snowstorms on our march and some rain. You can not form much of an idea of the character of the route unless you pass over it. It was wearisome work toiling up and down the mountains with our luggage. The first day we marched to Clinton. The 2nd crossed the river in a flat boat into town and marched to within 4 miles of Jacksboro in a severe snowstorm. It snowed nearly all day. On the 3d day we marched to Jacksboro and drew 4 days of full rations of hard bread, slab sides, sugar and coffee. We had full rations of bread all the way from Knoxville. All are [ ] after drawing rations climb a very steep mountain side and marched about [1_] miles this day. On the 4th day we had a very hard march. Had a number of high hills or mountains to climb and camped a few miles from a place called Chitworth. Had another snowstorm this night.
On the 5th day it was quite wet and had severe rain. On the 6th marched to within 6 miles of Fort Burnside on the Cumberland — a government post. On Sunday the 7th day of our march, marched the point where we stopped a couple hours and then marched two miles beyond Somerset, Kentucky. On Monday the 8th, camped at Waynesburg. On Tuesday the 9th day of our march, we marched through Hall’s Gap and camped 2 or 3 miles from Stanford. Had another snowstorm this evening. The next day marched through Stanford and Lancaster and camped 1½ miles from Camp Dick Robinson. On the next day, the 31st, at a little past 10 a.m., arrived at Camp [Bull] Nelson. 10 days having left Knoxville the 21st.
We camped at Camp Parks 4 miles from Nicholassville. On Tuesday the 1st of April, started at evening i the rain for Nicholassville. Part of us stopped in a church till morning when we took the cars. Stopped at Lexington a couple of hours for the down passenger train and were detained at Cynthiana till dark on account of an accident on the road. Daylight on Sunday found us at Covington. We here received a mail and I received yours of the 28th containing the $5.00 all right that came just in the nick of time. You need not send any more at present. I expect to get paid now soon.
We left Cincinnati on Sunday eve. Arrived at Columbus the next morning. This was a wet, rainy day. Tuesday morning we arrived at Pittsburg where we were furnished with a good breakfast by the Pittsburg Subsistence Committee. This is a big thing. They treated us the best of any place on the route here. On Wednesday the 6th, we arrived at Harrisburg where we were furnished breakfast. This is a beautiful place. The Susquehanna is here spanned by a number of splendid bridges about 1 mile in length. The scenery is splendid from Harrisburg along the Susquehanna and along the road to Baltimore. We arrived at the latter place that evening and slept in the Soldier’s Rest and were furnished supper and breakfast the next morning by the Union Relief Association. We took the boat yesterday for this place. We were about 4 hours coming.
There is quite a large body of troops here. There are some negro troops in the corps here. The snow on the Alleghenies was I should think about 2 feet deep. We are camped 2½ miles from town and the appearances are that we shall stop over night. We are to have “A” tents. Expect them tonight and have out in a requisition for clothing and camp equippage. It is possible that we will get a furlough as a regiment. I understand that Col. Harriman is doing what he can to bring that result about. If we do not get one, I would like to have a box sent out soon. A box would come through I think in 3 or 4 days to this place. I understand that the expedition is not to start until June. I have not yet received Martha’s letter of the 27th. It has I think gone on to Knoxville. I hope Eddie will continue to improve. I said that I was well. I am not so well as I might be as I have a bad cold which has hung on for some time. Please send me some papers. If they are not more than two or three months old, they will be new. Aleck [Alexander] Hutchinson is here. He has been home on a furlough. Charles Johnson, Uncle Ben Stevens, [and] Ira G. Wilkins are well. Edward C. Emerson is not very smart. He has a bad cold as well as myself and feverish.
Answer this as soon as you can. Give my love to all the folks. I do not think of much more news to write. Give my love to Mother. From your affectionate son, — Wm. W. Fish
Pages 1 & 4
Pages 2 & 3
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
April 14, 1864
My Dear Sister,
I now sit down to pen a few lines. I am well except a bad cold which I have had this some time. I wrote Father last Friday which you must have received ‘ere this. We are camped 2½ miles from town in a pretty spot and have “A” tents. his is a beautiful morning although it has rained nearly every day since we came here. We are now many hundred miles nearer home than we were when at Knoxville. We live somewhat better now than we did in Tennessee. Everything is outrageously high here as well as elsewhere.
General Grant was here yesterday and visited the troops. He was accompanied by Generals Burnside and Miegs. We received our pay day before yesterday for 4 months. I received $16. I wanted to get my allotment here but he would not pay it.
Capt. Hollis O. Dudley is again back with us. He arrived on Monday. He looks the same as ever. Edward C. Emerson and the rest are well. Charley Baker is well. Reuben [Smith] is not looking very well. There are a great many troops here. There is a Colored Regiment — the 1st Michigan Colored Volunteers — with a colored band attached. They make good-looking soldiers, handle the musket well, and make a good appearance on dress parade.
We have just drawed new clothing today. We have two pine trees out in front of each tent which makes the camp look much better. I see no prospect of the regiments going home now. Furloughs are now granted to two from each company for 7 days. Orderly [Andrew J] Frye — my tent mate — has one in and expects to start this p.m. or in the morning. I do not expect a furlough as there is so many ahead. Edward Emerson comes, I believe, on the next lot. It is rumored now that we are to go to Mexico but we can’t tell.
I wrote on my last that I would like to have a box started if we did not go home. I would like to have you get one ready as soon as you can and direct to Annapolis, Maryland. Adam’s Express Office is here in town and I can go right there and get it. When you start it, just write me and send the receipt. There is not a great deal in the clothing line that I want. If I coud get a good pair of shoes made in good shape, I would like to have a pair with good stout taps nailed with round-head nails, soft uppers, and lace up in front. I wear No. 9 government shoes. I am high in the instep. Please send also a pair of suspenders, a couple of pocket handkerchiefs & pair of socks, a pocket diary, coarse comb, and a light military vest. This is all I think of at present in the clothing line.
I am disappointed in not getting to go home. If we had come here one night earlier, I think we should have gone as a regiment. We receive a mail here every day. Our mail goes out in the morning. As I have not much news to write, I will close this for the present. I may add a few words in the morning. Tell Eddie this little book is for him. Give my love to Mother, Father, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins &c. and accept a large share yourself.