1862: George R. McCarty to Forster Edwards

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

Dear friend,

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.”



1864: George W. Plummer to Julia A. (Chase) Plummer

George W. Plummer’s Headstone

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.

Maine Farmer, 18 February 1864

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

Dear Wife,

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.

From your husband, — Geo. W. Plummer



1862-1864: William W. Fish to Family

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.

See also — 1862: John Linzy Fish to John Blaney Fish


Concord [New Hampshire]
August 26, 1862

Dear Father,

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


Capitol Hill, Washington D. C.
September 14, 1862

Dear Father,

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


Camp Chase, Alexandria, Va.
September 25, 1862

Dear Mother,

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

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.


Frederick, Maryland
October 2, 1862

Dear Martha,

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.

The Thomas Viaduct as it looked in 1858

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


Pleasant Valley, Maryland
October 14, 1862

Dear Father,

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.

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.


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.


[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


Annapolis, Maryland
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


Annapolis, Maryland
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.

11th NH Capt. Hollis O. Dudley (5a) 2
Capt. Hollis O. Dudley, Co. C, 11th N. H. Vols. (from the collection of Dave Morin)

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.

From your brother, — William W. Fish

(Please direct to Annapolis, Md.)

1862: John Linzy Fish to John Blaney Fish

Pvt. Dudley P. Ladd wearing the uniform of the 1st N. H. Light Artillery (Dave Morin Collection)

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

Dear Father,

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.

Sen. Daniel Clark of New Hampshire

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.


1864-65: Charles Smith Woolston to Family

These eighteen letters were written by Charles S. Woolston (1848-1865) — a late war recruit of Co. M (and later Co. I), of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry. Woolston did not join the regiment in time for the summer-long Overland Campaign of 1864 in which the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry “was constantly at the front, acting as escort to Generals Grant and Meade, filling gaps in lines of battle, and performing the arduous duties of an emergency command.” It was November 1864 before Charles joined the regiment. He found them at General Meade’s headquarters in front of Petersburg near the military railroad. He remained with the five companies supporting Meade; the other three companies of the regiment were detached and at City Point supporting Grant.

From Woolston’s letters we learn that he and the other recruits were put to work on provost duty, escorting prisoners, carrying dispatches, and taking their turn as sentries. Though Woolston managed to avoid the fighting, he was still a victim of the war. He died in a hospital at Richmond, VA. on 11 June 1865 — six months before his eighteenth birthday.

Woolston’s parents were Benjamin A. Woolston (1819-1897) and Maria Smith (1827-1896) of Tullytown, Bucks county, Pennsylvania. Woolston and other members of his family are buried in Levittown, Buck county, PA


Camp Cadwallader ¹
October 17 [1864]

Dear Father,

I take this opportunity of writing. We have been guarding all [day]. I tried to get a pass this morning but no go. Sulgar Lounsbury was in here with two or three more I do not remember. Aunt Mary, Rex, and some more was in on Saturday and brought me and George Patterson a big basket full of grapes, boiled chestnuts, and molasses candy. They all want me to come and see them if I cannot get a pass to come home in the country for 48 hours. I will get one to go down and see them.

Company A is getting examined. Twelve out of 30 passed. We will get examined in a day or two, I guess. I thank you for them things. [That is] all at present.

Your son, — C. S. Woolston

P. S. Send me a couple of dollars ($2).

¹ Camp Cadwallader was in Beverly, New Jersey — just across the river from Philadelphia.



Camp Distribution near Alexandria
November 13, 1864

Dear Father,

I take this opportunity of writing to you to let you know that I arrived here all safe last evening all right. We left Philadelphia Friday night at 20 to one, got to Baltimore about 7, left Baltimore at 11, got to Washington at 4 [and] got to camp about 7. I got my 33 at Camp Cadwallader before I started. We only got one meal from the time we started until we arrived here. That we got at the saloon at Baltimore. Here we go into a eating house and eat a little like white folks and have a table set for us. How long we will stay here I do not know.

I hear my regiment is in the Valley. If so, we will have to go to Washington, then to the Relay House, then to Harpers Ferry to get to it. The four regiments [that] came on with us [were the] 104th [Pennsylvania], 138th [Pennsylvania], 93rd [Pennsylvania], and 119th [Pennsylvania]. At the time when the train would stop, they would uncouple some of the cars and get time to get a drink and the train would go on a ways before the engineer would miss them and we had him a cussing all the way through. I would send some of that bounty only I am afraid it may get miscarried. Write soon and let me know if you got it.

Direct to Camp Distribution near Alexandria, Va.

— C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
December 3rd 1864

Dear Father,

I take this opportunity of writing to you to let you know that I am well at present hoping this to find you all the same. We have pretty hard duty and drill. Yesterday we were again — 130 of us — ordered down to the Prison Pen with side arms but when we got down there, the Colonel told us to go back and get our carbines and load them as we had 175 rebel prisoners to take to the Point [City Point]. They were a good-looking set of men if they were not dressed so poor and were all confident of success. They said they hadn’t made a beginning yet. They were captured at Stone Creek Station and were brought here by Capt. W. Harper ¹ who they say was a very nice man. They were very much afraid that they would be guarded by Negroes. They say they cannot give up that they will all be hung. If they do, they don’t know what they are a fighting for. If you ask a Virginian, [he is] fighting for his home. Georgia the same. South Carolina for his rights. The rest don’t know.

I haven’t got a letter for a long time so write soon and tell me all the news. — C. S. Woolston

¹ Capt. Harper was Provost Marshal and from the 1st New Jersey Cavalry.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
December 5th 1864

Dear Father,

I take the chance of writing to you to let you know that I am well and received two letters from home dated November 31st [and] December 2nd which you said it was a very rainy night. It did not rain here. John Vansant ¹ is in the 198th which is in the 2nd Corps.

You must be a getting almost as religious as the army a killing beef on Sunday. I heard Ebenezer Denice is very sick. Clem Robinson told me so today at Meade Station. He is in the 6th Corps which is a coming here from the Valley. They are a just in front of us, I guess, to relieve the 5th Corps [or] else amassing here for an advance on Petersburg. The pickets are not more than ½ a mile from us and their picket shots sometimes come a whistling into our camp. Our breastworks is now over ¼ of a mile distant. The firing is very hard to our right. They don’t come at us. They shell at the railroad about 1 mile from us. We can see shells fly. They could throw [a] shell into our camp but they would soon get an answer.

Capt. W. Harper is provost marshal for Gregg’s Division of cavalry.

When you write, tell me where Grand-dad is. I must now go on guard.

December 6th — Things seem more quiet now. It was a beautiful night last night. We could see the Rebel campfire and hear their band beat tattoo. The roll calls in the [army] are this way: bugle sounds at 6 a.m., roll call at 5 p.m., again at 8 at night. We have got a company cook now and we don’t have to cook anymore. I received your stamps.

The rebels on our front are [William] Mahone’s Division of Louisiana Tigers. [That is] all at present. — C. S. Woolston

My company is “I.”

Gen. Davis McM. Gregg and staff; Capt. W. Harper stands at far left.

¹ John Vansant was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, about 1835. He moved to Lena, Miami county, Ohio about 1878. He was married to Mary E. White. John appears in the 1890 Veteran’s Census in Miami, Ohio. He died prior to 1900.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
December 10, 1864

Dear Father,

I received your letter this morning of the 6th inst. with pleasure. I wrote a letter to you yesterday in which I described the beginning of this affair which is now going on. I told you that they went out yesterday morning and about 12 o’clock Capt. [George S. L.] Ward of Company M came in wounded in the ribs. There are several of the regiment killed and wounded. The regiment did not come in last night after their rations and forage went out to them, They have crossed Stone [Stony] creek. Infantry are a going to their support. I expect that there is an immense force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery there by this time. It is the awfullest country I ever traveled through and arms of every description can be seen lying all over. We haven’t heard from them today yet.

We had a regular Virginia snowstorm last night but it is nice and warm today. I pitied the poor boys who were out all yesterday and last night without either feed for themselves or their horses.

In your letter you say that you had a letter from the War Department in which states the case of enlistment of boys. You ask if I want you to try to get my discharge of which you can use perfectly your own pleasure. I do not want you to put yourself too much out of the way on my account. I have not received any of my monthly pay — nothing but $33.33 cents — the one third of my government bounty and that check which I sent you. $33 does not last long to commence soldiering when frying pans and coffee pots cost so much. If you get my discharge, it is well and good. It is all the same to me. I haven’t seen a stove since I left Camp Distribution. There is none about here. It must have been a misunderstanding about me a getting into that job [as a cook]. I forgot to tell you that I am well at present and hope you are the same.

From your son, — C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
December 14, 1864

Dear Father,

I received your letter of the 10th with pleasure. I am well at present except a small cold. We went on scout to North Carolina. We left camp at 8 o’clock on Saturday night and got back at about 12 on Sunday night. I seen more men down there in the same piece of ground than I ever seen before in my life. The 6th and 9th Corps were there. We must have rode 60 miles and were only out of the saddle once from the time we started until we got back. In coming back we burnt all the property outside of our lines and the whole road was ablaze. The pine swamps burnt like nothing. We went up the Jerusalem Plank Road.

I guess I will go to City Point today as there is a lot of prisoners here. I have got a horse and equipments now. My horse is built just like Uncle Bill’s old Jim but is a little clumsy for he fell down with me on the raid. They don’t make no more account of shooting a horse down here that you would a sick chicken if he gives out or gets stuck in the mud. They just shoot him.

Next Monday I suppose you kill hogs and I would like to help but that played out, Anybody who goes a soldiering to get easy work jumps out of the frying pan into the fire. It has been very cold down here and hain’t very warm yet. I would like to see the Bucks County Intelligencer or a pile of the Tribune. Write soon and tell me all the news and tell me where Granddad is this winter. There is not any stoves atall in this part of the country. I haven’t see one in Virginia yet since we landed at the Point. Write soon. [That is] all at present.

— C. S. Woolston

When you write, tell if you are trying for my discharge.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
January 9th 1865

Dear Mother,

I take my pen to write to you to let you know that I am well at present, hoping this to find you the same. I received a letter from you dated January 4th and was glad to hear from you and hear you were all so well. You said you had not got a letter from me since the 26th. I sent two away without stamps for I had none to put on them. I don’t know whether they went to you or not.

We drill very hard. This morning about 5 o’clock the rebs made an attack right on our front and we were ordered out at a moment’s notice. There was some scrambling out, I tell you. We get up here a good deal sooner than we did at home. I came off of mounted duty and got a pass and went to see the 138th [Pennsylvania] Regiment. They are a doing garrison duty at a fort about 1½ miles from here. I don’t remember the name of the fort Fort Dushane]. I see Joe Heaton and Tom Vansant. ¹ Joe has got to be sergeant. They look well. They said their time would be out the 26th of August. Jack Wilson’s regiment [119th Pennsylvania] lays about a hundred yards from us. I can walk there in 5 minutes. If Uncle Charley was here, I could see him any time I like to see or hear from anyone, I know.

It was very cold here on Saturday and yesterday morning. I am a keeping a diary this year.

I expect Mick is a working by this time. I expect you have to pay him big wages. Joe Heaton said that Parm Barber ² died in Richmond from starvation and that his brother [Charles L. Heaton] ³ had taken the oath and went South to work to keep from starvation. I guess I will bring this to a close. Write soon and tell me all the news. I still remain your son, — C. S. Woolston

Tell Bill to write and tell me how many muskrats he has caught and all the news.

¹ Joseph B. Heaton was a sergeant and Thomas Vansant was a private in Company H, 138th Pennsylvania Infantry.

² William “Parm” Barber (b. 1838) of Morrisville was a corporal in Co. H, 138th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was taken prisoner on 6 May 1864 in the Wilderness.

³ Charles L. Heaton (b. 1843) was captured in the fighting in the Wilderness on 6 May 1864.


Headquarters Army of the Potomac
January 16th 1864 [1865]

Dear Father,

I received your letter of the 13th last night with pleasure for I was glad to hear from you. It had some cotton in it. There is darkies here that will wash our clothes for 10 [cents] a shirt or a pair of drawers. We can get thread and needles at the sutler’s when they have them. We cannot get our boots mended. When they wear through, we have to throw them away and draw a new pair. I drew a pair at Camp Distribution and they bursted out so that I had to throw them away and draw a new pair the first of the month. I think they are better that the others. I hope that both of them will run when good.

I expected that wheat was more than 265 and I think that oats is very low at 84 cents for 30 lbs. You did not say whether Mike had got to work for you yet or not. I did not expect that Bob would live out of the world another year as he calls it there, but if he had traveled Virginia a little, he would see a new different world entirely. I was over to see Jack Vansant and Jos. White [198th Pennsylvania, 2nd Corps] on Sunday. Jack was on picket. I went out to see him. He looks as far as a pig. He says he is a coming to see me on Thursday after he comes off of picket — that the river was very high at Morrisville — that a good many had to go upstairs.

Everything is pretty quiet here now. I heard but one or two big guns today. Probably Grant will not open a campaign before Spring but you hear more about that than I do. I am glad that Lovetts got a letter from Ben. There is to be a detail to go to Washington every week from this regiment to take prisoners. It will take one week for them to go there and back. Washington is more than half of the distance to Philadelphia. I am glad to hear that Ben Slack has got to boarding with his Mother but does he work on the railroad yet? It is pretty cold work. You had ought to see them build railroad here — anyhow so they get it together.

I shall have to bring this to a close. From your affectionate son, — C. S. Woolston

Please write soon and tell me all the news.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
January 11, 1865

Dear Father,

I write to tell you now that I am well at present except the toothache which is pretty hard on me.

The Rebs made an attack on us day before yesterday. They thought that they would surprise us and get some clothes but the deserters told us of the plan so we rigged a pan to capture them. We knew where they would make the attempt [and] at about 5 o’clock they came and drove in our pickets. When they got in nearly to the breastworks, they fired a volley, when our men rose up and they were completely surrounded. They surrendered at the first volley. I was over to the 2nd Corps to see Jack Vansant and Jos. White and seen them both. They look well and have had a box from home. They say I look very well. They are about 2 miles from here. They think there will be smokey times here this spring. If I can stand it, I will be all right, but I think that being captured is the worst fate of a soldier. I must now go to City Point with deserters.

January 12 — We got to City Point at about 6 o’clock last night and stayed all night with a fellow in Co. C which lays there. You talk about rough railroads. You had ought to see these down here they run up and down. It is about 15 miles from here to the point [City Point] and takes 1½ hours to run it.

General Meade has went North and hain’t got back yet. Write soon and tell me all the news. Your son, — C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
January 19th 1865

Dear Mother,

I thought that I would write a little to you to let you know that I am pretty well at present and hope this will find you all the same. I have met with the misfortune of losing my gold pen that I bought at Camp Distribution and am very sorry of it and now I have to use a steel pen. It was a very fine pen. I also lost my gloves that Pap bought me at Camp Cadwallader. I haven’t got a letter since the date of the 13th. I thought that I would write a letter now that I had a chance. I wrote one on the 16th. I was on regimental guard for 24 hours from 9½ yesterday until 9½ today. It is now 11½. I do not mind it in the daytime so much but it is awful to stand 2 hours at night — especially when it is cold.

I have no news to tell you except deserters say that the Johnnies Lee are going to make a raid into Pennsylvania and Colonel [Charles H. T.] Collis of 114th [Pennsylvania] Zouaves is made Brigadier General. He is a fine looking man. This 3 cavalry has promoted 2 generals — Major Gen. [William] Averill and Brig. Gen. [John B.] McIntosh.

I don’t see how it is that Bill’s letter is so long a coming. When you write, tell me all the news and how you are all a coming on. I have been here 2 months today. Things is quieter here now than they were then but who knows what the next two months will bring forth. I must now bring this to a close. Please write soon.

From your son, — C. S. Woolston

Col. Charles H. T. Collis (at left) and Capt. Davis of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
February 18th 1865

Dear Mother,

I write to you to let you know that I am well at present and hope this will find you all the same. I got a letter from you this morning dated the 13th. I am sorry to hear that Pap is so sick but I hope he is well by this time.

It is a splendid day overhead but very muddy underfoot. It has rained for the last 3 days. I came off of Regimental guard this morning. We calculate to sleep 2 nights out of 3 here — that is, 2 off and one on. I am glad to hear that Man and all the rest is a getting along so well but I don’t see why Bill don’t write to me. I wrote a letter to him but I don’t know whether he got it or no.

I think I will get paid in March for certain. I will send 2 dollars of Rebel money in this letter home. I got it from a Rebel deserter. It is not worth a cent. We can get a letter home anytime while we lay in quarters but when the army loves, we are sometime 2 weeks without communication and then we can’t get any any off.

There is a great speculation as to this spring campaign. Some thinks we will move by way of the old Jerusalem Plank Road and the Halifax Road to North Carolina and open our base at Wilmington. I guess Gen. Grant himself don’t know there is sharp cannonading  and picket firing at intervals. These dark nights the Rebs desert very fast.

I haven’t got a letter from you for a good while before his one. Write soon and tell me all the news and how you are all a getting along. From your son, — C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Potomac Army
February 20th 1865

Dear Father,

I got a letter from you this morning and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you had got well. It is very fine weather here now but look out for hot weather this summer. I seen John [B.] Wilson last night. He is at his regiment [Co. G, 119th Pennsylvania] now. They [are] about a hundred yards from us — him and Jack [John P.] Hellings ¹ both. Wilson looks pretty well. Hellings is a sergeant. Clem Robinson is there too. Bill Wharton drives ambulance.

The sergeants and corporals of our regiment tried for a furlough. The best-looking man, horse & equipments got it. It was given to Sergeant [John W.] Ford of M Company and Sergeant Harvey of our company. Harvey was better than Ford. They get a 25-days furlough. We don’t get full rations yet but we get near enough to eat or quite, I think.

You will do just right with that bounty. I am glad you are a going to take it out of [the] bank and put it in a safe place. I guess I will have to bring this to a close. From your son, — C. S. Woolston

¹ John (“Jack”) Pennington Hellings (1843-1886) enlisted as a Private on 15 August 1862 Enlisted in Company G, 119th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania on 15 August 1862. Promoted to Full Corporal on 01 September 1863 Promoted to Full Sergeant on 31 October 1864 Wounded on 02 April 1865 at Petersburg, VA Discharged by special order Company G, 119th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania on 24 June 1865.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
February 28, 1864

Dear Mother,

I take this chance of writing to you to let you know that I am well and hope you are all the same. I got a letter from Sis Launsbury yesterday morning and one from Uncle Bill last night. I sent Bill a letter the other day with 5 dollars in it. I got my likeness taken yesterday for 2 dollars. They are very dark from the shade of the cap. I was at City Point this morning after some horses for the regiment. There was 4 of us and we brought up 105. Hardly any of them knew what a bit was. Went down on the cars and rode them up — a distance of 16 miles. I had a colt and did not lead any. Some of them led 3 and rode one. We had to catch them if they got away.

We mustered today for 2 months more pay. I expect the draft is a getting some of them by this time. There is a report or camp rumor that there has 2 more [Peace] Commissioners gone to Richmond. We get so many reports that proves false that we don’t know which to believe. I suppose you was at the opera house. I think we passed that in Broad Street when we went to the Washington and Baltimore Depot to take the cars for Washington.

Things still keep in a uproar. The 6th Corps is ordered to pack up about every night. Some think the Rebs is a going to leave us by ourselves. I hain’t got a letter since before you went to Philadelphia. [That is] all at present.

— C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
March 2nd 1865

Dear Mother,

I thought I would write to you to let you know that I am well at present hoping this may find you the same. I got two letters from you last night and one from John Kelly. He said that they were a going to move in the big house on the hill.

It is very rainy here. It rains most all of the time and the roads is a mass of mud.

When you write again, tell me if Pap has got anybody hired for next year and how all of the watches runs. Whether Pap’s old one runs good or no, and all the news.

Our cook which was wounded the last fight is dead now. He died in the hospital from amputation. The 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry has left. They say it has gone to reinforce Sherman. I guess this is all at present. Yours on, — C. S. Woolston

Please write soon. Have you heard of their raising solder’s pay?



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
March 19th 1865

Dear Father,

I write to you to let you know that I am well at present, hoping this to find you the same. We are still in camp and under marching orders. The 3 companies of our regiment which were at the Point [City Point] have come up yesterday. The 68th and 114th have gone to the Point. I guess we won’t be here this time next week.

There was a heavy artillery duel last night. It it generally believed that we are a going to evacuate the line from Fort Hell [Sedgwick] out to the left and the three Corps which occupies it is to go to into North Carolina while the 9th [Corps] and the Army of the James hold the rebs in check here. If that be the case, the 3rd Corps, the 2nd, 5th, and 6th — which will go to North Carolina — will number from 100 to 150 thousand men while the whole of Lee’s army cannot dislodge the 9th Corps. There is activity here now. Our regiment being the provost guard, we have to be orderlies for the headquarters officers and carrying dispatches night and day. There were 50 men detailed out of our company. We are all packed up ready to move at a moment’s notice.

I got your letters with 6 stamps in it. Your son, — C. S. Woolston



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
March 23rd 1865

Dear Mother,

I write to you to let you know that I am well at present and hope you are the same. I got a letter from you this morning of March 19th in which you spoke of the big fresh in the river. I would like to have been there to seen it. I expect that they are a thinking about fishing up there by this time. I guess that our marching orders has been countermanded and our sutler has come back. I was out to the 2nd Corps days before yesterday with recruits. It was away after night when we got there and a coming in we run all the way. The horse in the file ahead of me fell when we were on a dead run and that caused mine to fall right over him [and] pitched me headlong over his head. It stiffened me up a little but I came off lucky. I rode 5 miles that night quicker than ever I rode it in my life before except by steam.

I guess that is all at present. From your son, — C. S. Woolston

Please write soon.



Headquarters Army of the Potomac
March 26th 1865

Dear Father,

I write to you to let you know we are well at present. I got a letter from you last night. We had heavy fighting yesterday in the morning before daybreak. They charged our lines below Fort Hell [Sedgwick] and captured our breastworks and a fort and turned the guns on us and we charged and took them back with about 3 thousand prisoners. Our regiment moved to the scene right after daybreak and took charge of the prisoners and brought them to headquarters. We got to headquarters about noon and right after — while we were a guarding them — President Lincoln and Grant, Meade, and [their] staffs made their appearance while they were all along the lines and at that they fought at Hatcher’s Run.

I was to City Point about 12 o’clock with 800 prisoners. Our regiment took about 4,200 to the Point yesterday. The troops is a moving into the works now. Our regiment is not in danger. We take charge [of] the prisoners and bring them to headquarters.

Things look like hot work today but don’t worry about me. It is about 8 o’clock. Now don’t worry about me. I am alright. I can tell you all about [the] war when I get home. One of our horses got killed and 2 wounded by a solid shot. [That is] all at present.

Your son, — C. S. Woolston

There is some skirmishing now along the lines.



Hampton Roads, Virginia
April 29th 1865

Dear Sir,

I write to let you know that I am well at present and hope this will find you all the same. We are laying here doing nothing and I don’t know where we are going. We was with President Lincoln for two or three weeks before he was killed. We went to Washington with him on the 10th of April and he was killed on the 14th.

I believe the war is about over. I would have wrote before but I expected to leave here before this and go north somewhere. I want you to please to write to me as soon as you get this and let me know how things is. I wrote to Mother some time ago and have no answer yet.

Our ship is to have a share of the prize money for the capture of Richmond and Wilmington. We was at both places when they were taken. And now I must close with my respects to you.

Direct to U. S. Steamer Bat
Hampton Roads, Va. or elsewhere.

Yours truly — Charles Smith [Woolston]



1862: John Frederick Pierson to J. T. Pierson

Fred Pierson before the Civil War

This letter was written by John Frederick (“Fred”) Pierson (1839-1932), the son of a New York steel merchant. Fred joined the New York National Guard in 1857 (7th New York Regiment, Co. “K”), but once the Civil War broke out, he was attached to the 1st New York Infantry, Co. “H,” as a lieutenant. He quickly climbed up the ranks, becoming a Captain in May 1861, Major in July 1861, Lieut. Colonel in September 1861, Colonel in October 1862, and breveted a Brigadier General in March 13, 1865 (as part of the general brevet promotion that occurred that day).

Fred was wounded twice and captured twice. His first wound was in the Battle of Glendale and his second wound — more serious — was at the Battle of Chancellorsville where he was shot through the chest or shoulder. When the 1st New York mustered out in June 1863, Pierson joined the New York 37th on his recovery. He was captured at Bristoe Station, Virginia, on Oct. 14, 1863, and taken as a prisoner of war to Libby Prison in Richmond until exchanged. The first time he was captured was during the Seven Days Battles before Richmond but he was exchanged after only two months.

This letter was written just after Fred was promoted to Colonel of the 1st New York Infantry.


Headquarters 1st Regiment New York Volunteers
Camp near Edward’s Ferry, Maryland
October 13, 1862

Dear Father,

We arrived here this A.M. after 36 miles march. We guard the Ferry at present but after Stewart from his raid on Chambersburg has reached Virginia soil all safe. I am writing upon the ground with a stretcher for my desk. [Garrett] Dyckman ¹ sits in the mouth of his tent adjoining mine, gazing into the fire. I wonder if the flames auger well to him. I shall hear soon the result of the Court of Inquiry.

I left below in such a haste that I could not get my horse to Henry. He will have to buy one now, I fear, at Baltimore or Washington, and I keep both of mine for I like each of them very much.

I enclose two letters I received at Willard’s [Hotel] the day I left and as an expression of feeling or sentiment, both are very gratifying to my natural pride. I also send my commissions & other papers all of which please put in my room.  The Rebels have  taken so much from me that I now dare keep but little, nor expect to keep that little long.

Give my love to all at home. Yours, — Fred

Your letter of the 11th just received. I will carefully conform my line of conduct to its precepts. I am not aware of any servants of mine — a free man — having been sold into slavery for I never owned a free nigger other than William of Bristow fame and I left him in Washington. My health is pretty good and is improving. Nothing new in my political affairs. Yours, — Fred

¹ Garrett W. Dyckman (18xx-1868) began his military career in the Mexican War and was severely wounded at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He was promoted from Lt. Colonel to Colonel of the 1st New York Infantry on 10 September 1861 but he resigned his commission from the regiment a month later.


1862-64: James Philander Walker to James Alexander Walker

Dr. James Philander Walker

These letters were written by Dr. James Philander Walker (1826-1892), the son of Joseph Culton Walker (1786-1841) and Lucretia Fletcher (1790-1851). Joseph was born in Adair county, Kentucky, on 6 April 1826. His father removed to Illinois and settled on a farm in Sangamon (now Logan) county in 1830. Seven years later found the Walker family at Irish Grove, in Menard county, where his father died in 1841, leaving a crippled wife and younger son to the care of James P. He took his mother to his mother’s father in Kentucky, where he remained for three years, working on a farm to get money to return to Illinois. He was fortunate in that his father was an educated man, as all his schooling was obtained from his father before his death. On his return to Illinois in 1844 he began the study of medicine and by working on the farm and teaching school he earned the money which enabled him to prosecute his studies.

When the war with Mexico broke out he enlisted in Company F, Fourth regiment, Illinois infantry, commanded by Colonel Edward D. Baker, was a messmate of Colonel R. S. Moore and participated in the battle of Cerro Grande and the siege of Vera Cruz. After the war he resumed the study of medicine and graduated from Rush Medical College in 1850.

In 1857 he located at Mason City and was practicing his profession when the Civil War began. Under the first call for troops in 1861 he recruited a company and entered the service as captain of Company K, Seventeenth regiment, Illinois infantry. He participated in the battles of Fredericktown, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. After the battle of Shiloh he resigned, returned home, helped to raise the Eighty-fifth, and at the organization of the regiment he was commissioned surgeon. He was promoted to be lieutenant colonel on June 14, 1863, and was dismissed from the service on October 6, 1863.

Just prior to the battle of Chickamauga he was arrested for permitting his hungry men to forage, that being at that period of the war about the worst thing an officer could be accused of. Unfortunately for Colonel Walker he did not violate his order of arrest when the battle came on. If he had no doubt he would have escaped punishment. But his remaining under arrest afforded an opportunity for those whom his kindness to his men had offended, and he was summarily dismissed without a hearing.

He returned to his former home and resumed the practice of medicine, which he continued to his death, which occurred on January 14, 1892. He was buried by his comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic, a special train carrying the post from Havana to Mason City to attend his funeral.

James wrote these letters to his cousin, James Alexander Walker (1833-1911), the son of William Hammer Walker (1797-1859) and Ann Harris (1807-1844). James A. Walker was also a physician and practiced in the vicinity of Mason City, Mason county, Illinois during the Civil War. He later moved to Santa Clara, California.


Camp [85th Illinois] near Louisville, Kentucky
September 18th 1862

Dr. Jas. A. Walker
Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure yesterday of receiving a short letter from you bearing the disappointment of your failure. We all expected that you would bring the news yourself and I need your presence very much. I am sorry to learn that A____ is getting along o poorly but glad to hear that she is better. I am very sorry to hear is sister Eliza’s sickness. Hope she is better. Tell her that she must cheer up, get well, and send you off in a hurry or I’ll draw a long black mark aainst her and consider her some “secesh.”

You had better not wait for your examination but come at once unless you know just what time it can take place.

I want you to give me a mortgage on all those lots and lands that have been deeded to you for a sum sufficient to save them. In case of any accident, you know that your marriage has complicated those matters. Just give the paper to [your brother] Stuart.

I have nothing to write. We have plenty of rumors but no news. The enemy is threatening. Our regiment has gone this morning to work on the entrenchments.

Write soon. Give my love to my wife and sisters Mary & Eliza.

Yours &c. — Jas. P. Walker

P.S. I will write to Ann tonight. — J. P. W.


Camp 7 miles north of Bardstown, Kentucky
October 5th [1862]

Dr. Jas. A. Walker
Dear Brother,

I take the few moments while the troops are getting ready for the march to send you a line. I received yours & Maggie’s letter since I left the camp to the city. I left that camp at 10 P.M. on the 3rd inst. Have not been well until last night. I feel pretty well this morning.

We formed battle array all day yesterday and let the Secesh run away from us. Maybe we will catch them & maybe not. I think that yesterday morning was a better time though we will soon see again.

I want you to say whether you intend to come or not. There is great blame being attached to me for your not joining us. The order that you speak of cannot apply to the regiment organized under the call but may to new ones. We have not heard of any such order here & I think that it is only a ruse to get you to stay. The health of the men with us is very good.

Give my love to Ann & the children, Eliza & Mary. Goodbye Jim. Write at once.

— J. P. Walker


Brentwood, Tennessee
April 14th 1863

Jas. A. Walker
Dear Brother,

I write you a few lines to inform you that I am well as usual though I have been under the weather ever since I came out here last Wednesday. I have been troubled with flux pretty bad but have just few symptoms of it now.

I expect to send some cash home soon. I could get my pay anytime now if I were at Nashville. I owe a note to the Bank of Peoria, Illinois, endorsed by Stra_____ & secured by my lean on Ritchy’s house. I want you to go to Peoria as soon as the money arrives and see if you can lift the note. It is over due long ago. If it cannot be done, find out what can be done in the premises & let me know at once — note & interest $100.  I did hope all the time what I would get home this spring but I have about given the idea up. I will send the money by express to Lincoln. I may be in town in a day or two. Will send the money as soon as I get there if nothing happens.

We have had three rains since we came to this place. It is now raining 2 P.M. & has been since 10 A.M. There has been a sharp look out for a battle here everyday since we came here. One battle at Franklin 9 miles further out and very heavy firing in that vicinity again for two hours this morning. All quiet now. Have not heard anything yet.

Tell Banes & Hart that now is the time to get an office in the regiment as the Major has resigned. I think one of them might get the office.

Lt. Col. Edward Bloodgood

I am boarding at a house just out of camp paying $1.30 per day.

This is the place where [Lt.-] Col. [Edward] Bloodgood surrendered. His trunk & several other things I find here.

We have parts of eight regiments here, 4 pieces of artillery, & twelve companies of cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. J. D. Morgan of Quincy, Illinois. Gen’l Morgan is the only real general that we have ever had over us at any time since we have been out.

The train will soon be in so I must close. Tender my regards to all my friends and my love to sister Eliza. tell Annie I’ll write to her again in a day or two.


Surgeon Jas. P. Walker [   ] 85th Ill. & Act. Brig. Surgeon 2nd Brigade, 4th Div., 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland


Brentwood, Tennessee
May 23rd 1863

Dr. Jas. A. Walker
Dear Brother,

I wrote you this morning to let you see that I was still in hand and doing the best I can to make time pass swiftly.

I had the pleasure of receiving a letter from you dated 14th inst.  Glad to hear that you are well; that Eliza and the rest are well, but very sorry to hear that the children are down with measles. But hope that the very favourable time of the year and good care will have brought them through safely by this time. I am sorry that you did not see Mr. Straight as I am ashamed to write to Ritchy until that matter is fixed up. I don’t care very particularl about Rankin’s case but want him paid as soon as you can conveniently do it. The tax matters I want settled. I.E., all that I own.

I wrote to Annie about it some time ago but she might have forgotten to ask you to see to it. I want you to ask Bill Walker or someone else how you can pay the tax on the Missouri land & the lot in Springfield must be paid for soon. It has been sold for city, county & state taxes.

The health is very good here now. In fact there is no sickness really — a few cases of ague and diarrhea.

We have 1900 infantry, 4 pieces of artillery & 750 cavalry here now. We look for some fun here every day almost. Old Forrest is in command of the forces of Van Dorn in our part — a rather troublesome neighbor, we think. They blaze away at our pickets nearly every night & night before last one of the sentinels shot his fellow guard dead. He was buried last evening at sundown. One of the 104th Illinois was wounded in the leg severely a few nights since. One of the 85th Illinois shot off two of his fingers not long since while getting over the fence.

N. Patterson is fat as a hog.

We get fresh butter 40 to 50 cents a pound. Milk 20 cents per quart. Strawberries ditto. Young chickens will soon be plenty. We draw fresh bread, beef, potatoes, &c.

I went to the city two weeks ago and drew from the sanitary agent 55 lbs. & six boxes of various sorts of vegetables — mostly potatoes, onions, dried fruit & pickles & 6 dozen canned fruit.

The weather is quite warm now but cool nights. This Harpeth Valley is nearly a paradise but damned with secesh. But they will take the oath. We call it, “Iron sheathing them.” Then they are “Iron clads.” I must close. Give my love to sister Eliza and cousin. Tell Annie I will write soon again. we have not got the Mason City mail this week. Good bye. write soon. How is the boy?

— Jas. P. Walker, Brig. Surgeon, 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 14th Army Corps

I send a white rose & a sprig of arbor vitae to Eliza & Red rose & arbor vitae for Annie.


Mason City, Illinois
June 15th 1864

Dr. J. A. Walker
Dear Brother,

Received a letter from you last Monday giving us much satisfaction about your safe arrival. Sisters by as much wished for improvement &c.

We are all well & getting along as well as you could expect. The friends and relations are all in good health except Mrs. Brooker who has had another attack of inflammation of parts about the [    ] organs. Is able to be up now.

Annie is doing her work without [   ] now.

I have not heard of Stewart ¹ yet. Can’t see that his ship arrived safely at Aspinwall.

Lincoln and Johnson — three cheers! You know this is my ticket for the last year & for the next four years.

I wrote in my last about two operations. The case of James Riggins Wesphine proved fatal on the 9th day. Jack Fidler is just about well. The thigh he [   ] its entire extent by [   ] traction. Another case on hand. Mrs. Spaughburg’s little boy was at school sick. His sister went after him on horseback on last Thursday. As they were going home the horse took fright [and] threw them off. Broke the boy’s arm at the elbow pushing the upper fragment of the humerus out through the tissues forward. They sent for me. I was not at home. Took Hall next day. Patterson went with him. [   ] for several days. They still reported the case doing exceedingly well. I told J. A. S. W. that from what I could learn of the case, they would be [   ] that they ever saw it.

Yesterday there were out and returned in haste for me to go out to amputate. I went out with them at 4 P.M. & took of a rotten arm — Selah.  Mrs. Riggins paid me $84.oo for the [   ing].

I sold those 4 lots where the old stable was to Harme so as to pay my notes with interest and $4.80 & left me $5.00. I bought a fine brown horse for $90.00 worth $150.00. I rebought Jesse of Dan River.

Dave Ross & Cofton are at home. Patterson & Ragan had to go to Vicksburg till their time was out.

I must close. Give my love to sister and tell her we look for letters from her. Cousin Ada, little cousin Neany also & tell her that I did not answer her letter for reason that you were going up there just at the time a letter would have went. Regards to all the rest. Goodbye.

— J. P. Walker

¹ This may has been William “Stuart” Walker — a younger brother of James A. Walker. He is know to have gone to California. Aspinwall was at the eastern terminus of the Isthmus of Panama.