This letter was written by 18 year-old Dexter Samson (1843-1917), the son of Jonathan Maxon Samson (1810-1894) and Elizabeth Draper (1819-1857) of Richland, Oswego County, New York. Prior to his enlistment, Dexter seems to have been following his father in the profession of “painter.”
Dexter enlisted in November 1861 in Co. K, 81st New York Infantry. He reenlisted as a veteran on 1 January 1864 and was subsequently wounded on 3 June 1864 at Cold Harbor, Virginia. He mustered out with his company on 31 August 1865 at Fortress Monroe.
The 81st New York — the 2nd Oswego regiment — was raised mainly in Oneida and Oswego counties and was mustered into the U. S. service at Oswego and Albany from December 1861, to 20 February 1862, for three years. It left the state for Washington on 5 March 1862, was quartered for a short time at Kalorama heights and assigned to Palmer’s brigade, Casey’s division, 4th corps, with which it embarked for the Peninsula with the general advance of McClellan’s army.
Several years after the war, Dexter moved to California and earned a living as an undertaker in the Los Angeles area.
Washington D. C.
Camp Rose, Meridian Hill
I take my pen in hand to inform you how I get along. My health is very good now. I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know what I am a doing. We expect to go this week and we may go tonight.
Fred, are you making maple sugar this spring? If you do, you must eat a good lot for me. Fred, if we live, we will have a good time and if we don’t meet on this earth, I hope we will meet on the next.
Fred, I begin to see some soldiering now. I laid last night where the rain come down on my pretty freely. I like camp life first rate. Fred, you must not forget the good old time that we had together and if we ever meet, we will have a good time. The Twenty-fourth [New York] Regiment is a going on the expedition with us. We will have a good time.
You must excuse me this time. This is from your dear cousin, — D. Samson
In care of Capt. J[oel] D[oravan] Steele
Washington D. C.