This letter was written by 22 year-old John Linzy Fish (1839-18xx) — a member of the 1st New Hampshire Light Artillery Battery. John enlisted in September 1861 and was killed at Fredericksburg on 13 December 1862.
John was the son of John Blaney Fish (1811-1875) and Mary Holmes Barrett (1818-1905) of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Birth records of the Fish family children reveal that the family relocated from Massachusetts to New Hampshire about 1842. In 1850, the Fish family was enumerated in Lowell’s Ward 5, Middlesex, Massachusetts, where John’s father worked as an “Iron Founder.” Ten years later, the Fish family was enumerated in Manchester’s Ward 6, Hillsborough, Massachusetts, where John’s father was employed as an “Iron Founder” and 21 year-old John L. was employed as a “moulder.”
John’s younger brother, William W. Fish, (b. 1843) enlisted at age 19 in Co. C, 11th New Hampshire Infantry. He was wounded at Fredericksburg on 13 December 1862, and was later taken prisoner in the Wilderness on 6 May 1864 and held at Andersonville Prison.
In Shaffer’s book, Men of Granite: New Hampshire Soldiers in the Civil War (p. 123), he wrote of the fight at Fredericksburg — “The First New Hampshire Light Battery remained on the far left of the Union line, making small adjustments to their position whenever Confederate counterfire became too deadly. But the movements were not enough, because the battery lost Private Thomas Morrill of Manchester to a cannon shell that tore through his body. The Confederate artillerists brought out two English Whitworth guns off to the battery’s left and began raking the New Hampshire men with deadly accuracy. Private Charles A. Doe of Manchester was killed and Private John Fish, also of Manchester, was wounded and died from it the following day. By the end of the day, the battery had lost three dead, twelve men wounded…and sixteen horses.”
Camp Du Pont [Munson’s Hill, Virginia]
January 10, 1862
I wrote you the 1st and received the papers same day. Received your’s and Martha’s letter the 2nd and was happy to hear from home. I am sorry to hear that you have a bad cold and troubled with the rheumatism and that Levi is not well. Hope you will both be better soon. I got a letter from Wm. Harvey last Saturday. He said he got a letter from Martha last week and that Uncle Edwin joined the cavalry but did not go to the war as he has been sick some time and got his discharge. Henry Bacheller, he said, did not go to the war. He went home and went to killing hogs instead of going to kill Rebels. He said the times are very dull there except in the Navy Yard. There are about 3600 men at work there. He did not write but what all the folks were well. I should have written before this week but did not get much opportunity. It was Railroad Spaulding that was here. I understand that he and his brother-in-law John H. Moore have gone into the boot & shoe business in Washington. I supposed and understood it was D. J. Daniels instead of his brother. I only saw him at a distance but it seems it was his brother. Tell Uncle Charles when he writes to any of the shop boys down south to speak of me. Tell them where I am and send them my best respects, and tell them to write to me when they can.
The 6th Regiment has gone in Burnside’s Expedition which probably has gone by this time. It don’t look much like the 7th & 8th Regiments [are] coming out here very soon. Pretty tough for them camping out this winter. We had colder weather if anything before we left Manchester than we have had out here. The mercury has probably not been below 15 or 20 degrees above zero at the coldest. We keep comfortable — have floors in tents. We have had a little snow — 2 or 3 snow falls — since we have been here; just enough to cover the ground. Had a little snow this week [that] lasted about a day & night. It thawed yesterday and rained last night and the snow is all gone and today it is muddy & muggy.
There is talk here in Washington papers that the Secretary of War will accept of no more cavalry. I wrote that Sergeant [William W.] Roberts had gone home. I hope you enjoy the pigs you killed. It would be no use to send any of it to me because it would spoil before it got here. I read in the Manchester paper of the Nashua railroad bridge being burned. I am sorry to hear of Uncle Charles’ girls being so sick. Hope they will get well soon. Edwin Baker is fat & hearty. You wrote that you are doing a little something in the shop but you are not making any too much money. I think I can lend you a little. I will send you as much as I can spare when I get paid off again. We’ll probably get paid in a few days. I suppose it won’t be very acceptable. I suppose the money sent to families will be sent by Express all together so you will be on the alert for it when it comes.
We had some visitors from the 6th [?] Regiment Sunday. Their band and Senator [Daniel] Clark and brother D. J. Clark, Deacon Brown, and others were here. The band played a number of tunes. Senator Clark made a few remarks, complimented the New Hampshire troops — praised the battery in particular. We all had a good time and they were pleased with their visit. We had a good time New Year’s Day running [ ] &c. for prizes. Edward Sukin [?] won the first prize $2…. [illegible]
I can tell you no new war news more than what you hear at home. The Expedition down the Mississippi will probably start soon. Burnsides’ will affect something soon. It is expected that a grand forward movement will be made soon. It is expected that Burnsides’ Expedition will break the blockade on the Potomac and come up on Richmond in the rear and the army on this side will advance on Manassas leaving a force here sufficient to protect Washington and probably operations will be going on [in] Kentucky & Western Virginia moving towards the Mississippi and on to Manassas at the same time and attacking on the Southern ports at the same time. It is the opinion here that the movement will be made at the same time. Charleston will probably be taken soon by land.
I wish you all a Happy New Year. I do not think of any more to write. I have written a pretty long letter. Use my tools what you [can] and [keep] then from rusting. Have my clothes & things taken care of. Perhaps I may want them sometime. My respects to all.
From your affectionate son, — John L.