1863: Unidentified Soldier to Henry

Headquarters of Co. F, 11th Rhode Island at Miner's Hill, Virginia
Headquarters of Co. F, 11th Rhode Island at Miner’s Hill, Virginia

This is only the front and back of the first page of what was originally at least a two-page letter. As such, there is no signature and there is also no envelope to help us identify the “Henry” to whom the letter is addressed. Since the letter is datelined Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and dated 13 July 1863, my hunch is that it was written by a recently returned member of the 11th Rhode Island Regiment (probably Companies B or F) that served for nine months. They were mustered into the service on 1 October 1862 and were mustered out on 13 July 1863 — just days before this letter was written.

The author tells his former comrade that handbills are being distributed in Pawtucket offering as much as $700 bounty to veterans who will re-enlist in the 3rd Rhode Island Cavalry.


Pawtucket, Rhode Island
July 16th 1863


I suppose you are about home by this time and I should suppose in first rate spirits after being absent so long a time “to the war.”

But I tell you it is confounded lonesome here. I miss many of the exciting scenes of camp life, but I suppose it will wear off in a few weeks when I shall be all right again.

By the way, they have put out handbills today for all of the 9-months men to enlist again if they want to in the 3rd Rhode Island Cavalry. ¹ The government gives $400 bounty and the state gives $300 bounty making 700 dollars, which is a pretty good thing, but I am not “fishing” at present by any means — at least in that direction — nor for such fish either. I think of going down to Newport or to “Smith’s Palace” tomorrow after which I will report further.

We had a meeting last at the Town Hall to reorganize the company when about 20 members signed the roll. I hardly think they will do much with it though they may.

In the meantime the “battle for the Union” goes on. It is certain that within the last 13 days the rebels have lost at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson in killed, wounded, and prisoners over 88,000 men, and if they don’t feel the loss of so large a force, to say nothing of the geographical position of the country which they have lost, then I am no judge or prophet either.

I saw Arnold last evening at “Benslop” and found him as lively as ever, praising his horses in the highest styles, and said you would feel larger than Jacob Astor when you got in the ____ driving them.

¹ The organization of the 3d Regiment Rhode Island Volunteer Cavalry was commenced July 1st, 1863, by Colonel Willard Sayles (appointed to its command by the governor) under the authority of the secretary of war. A camp was established for the recruits at Mashapaug. August 18th the men collected there, 150 in number, were transferred to ‘Camp Meade’, in Jamestown, on Conanicut island, to which all subsequent recruits were sent.


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