These letters were written by Josiah Parsons Miller, Jr. (1832-1905), the son of Josiah P. Miller (1806-1884) and Eliza Hand (1810-1887) of Springs, Suffolk county, Long Island, N. Y. Josiah was married on 11 November 1861 to Harriet Miller (1843-1905) and had a child by the time he enlisted as a private in Co. I [later in Co. K], 127th New York Infantry on 19 August 1862. He was described in the muster rolls as a 29 year-old, 5 foot, 5 inch tall, blue-eyed, sandy-haired mariner. The 1890 Veterans’ Schedules inform us that he served 2 years and 9 months with the regiment, mustering out on 20 May 1865. However, a book on the regiment states that he was transferred to the Navy on 14 June 1864. After he was discharged from the service, he returned to Suffolk county where he found employment at the Amagansett Light House.
Josiah wrote the letters to his Uncle William Jackson Bennett (1819-1901), the husband of Phebe Miller (1821-1893), and the father of Jonathan (“Johnny”) Allen Bennett (1845-1863) who served with him in the same company.
Upton’s Hill, [Virginia]
January 11, 1863
I now seat myself to inform you of my health which is very good at present and I hope these few lines will find you the same. We are here on Old Upton’s Hill in camp and drilling every day, getting ready for the Rebs. We have been call[ed] out once to go and see them but when we got to Annandale, the Rebs had left. We formed a line of battle and lay all day and came back to camp again. I don’t know as this war will ever end. It don’t look much like it now. I guess we shall have a chance to give the Rebs a try yet.
I hope this war will end soon for I want to get home to see my wife and child and quiver [to have sex] once more for I feel very much like it now. I think I should shake one bed post all clear from the bed in a short time. You must think of me when you quiver for that is my play now. I will write something else. Is they any poles of wood that any of the youngsters can get when they go to see the gals? Give my love to [your wife,] Aunt Phebe and tell her I want a new clean commeser [?]. Give my love to Rose and all the family and all enquiring friends.
I don’t think this war will end very soon. I expect we shall have to go and fight yet. The First Brigade out of this division has gone into the battlefield and the Second goes tomorrow. We are the Third. Our turn comes next. Our generals is not so smart as the South’s generals is. We whipped them the other day and now they have whipped our forces. And our folks has give up taking Vicksburg. I think they had better settle it for the South will carry their points yet in spite of thunder. They will fight and get our men killed off and get whipped in the bargain. The South can fight as hard as the North can and more so. They are on their own dung hill. They know every foot of ground in the southern states. Jeff Davis says he can carry the war on a long time yet and I guess he can. It never will end by fighting, that is sure. The North cannot whip the South—no one can do it. That is what the matter is.
Give my love to my folks if you see any of them. Johnny [Bennett] is well and William Miller [too] an [they both] send their love to you all. I have not got any news to tell you this time but next time I write, I hope to have some good news to tell you. You must write and let me know all the news. Give my love to Uncle Hooch and his family when you see them and take a good share for yourself. I don’t know what will become of this regiment if we ever get into a fight. We ain’t got but one officer in the regiment [that] knows enough to take a company of men into a battle. Our colonel would do very well but none of the rest. They don’t hardly know enough to drill men as they ought to be.
Well, Uncle Bill, I have not anything more to say for the present so I shall have to bring this to a close and bid you goodbye for this time. This is from — Josiah P. Miller
Write as soon as you get this if you please and write all the news.
[Note: In this letter, Josiah Miller write to his Uncle William J. Bennett, informing him of the death of his son, Jonathan Allen Bennett, who served with him in the same company.]
Cole Island, South Carolina
Sunday, September 13, 1863
I now seize the opportunity to inform you of my health which is middling good at present and I do truly hope these few lines will find you and your family all in the best of health.
Well, Uncle William, I have got some sad news to tell you. Your dear son Jonathan has left us. He died September 11th and was buried the 12th. He was buried on Folly Island, South Carolina. I did not hear of it till this morning. Those that saw the corpse said that he wasn’t nothing but skin and bones, I did not see him for more than a week before he died. We come over on this island to do picket duty and left him on Folly Island in the hospital. The last time I saw him he was very poor. I made up my mind that he would not stand it long. That is two that has been buried on this island since the regiment came on here and Theodore Bennett don’t look as if he would stay with us but a few days. One more out of our company has been [ ] crossed there today. I have just got in from picket tonight and then [ ] he had all but yours and Aunt Phebe’s and them [ ]. Will send if i can.
Well, I have not got much more to write. Johnny was as good a boy as they is in the regiment. A good soldier—he was ready and willing to do anything that they called on him to do. He ought not to have left Alexandria to come here. He was not well enough to come but our doctors don’t try to do anything for a man till he is dead or pretty near to it. They keep them on duty as long as they can stand up.
Well now, I will tell you that the rest of the boys from our way are all pretty well at present. I have not got any war news to tell you for we don’t get it here as soon as you do at home. The boys all send their best respects to you all. Give my love to all of your family and to my folk when you see them and off of our relation and write as soon as you get this. Tell Samuel Ranger’s folks that he is well at present. When you write, let me know all the news, if you please.
It is very hot weather here. I hope it will soon be cooler now. I have not got anything more to write so I shall have to bring this to a close and wish you health and happiness all this world can afford. This is from Josiah P. Miller
To my uncle William J. Bennett. write as soon as you get this and direct your letters as you always have done. Goodbye. God bless you all.
We have lost eight men out of our company that died with sickness and have got 17 in hospitals sick now. Some in one place and some in another and two or three that is in the company now [that] don’t look as if they could stay with us but a few days at the longest. Those that we have lost is from East Hampton and Bridge Hampton and Sag Harbor and those that is in the hospitals is mostly from that way.
127th Regt. N. Y. S. V. Company K Monitors
Coles Island, South Carolina
Thursday, November 19, 1863
I now seat myself to write you a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter which came to hand in due season. I was very happy to hear from you and to hear that you and your family was all in good health and I truly hope this will find you and yours all in the best of health.
I have not got any news to tell you for we don’t get any news down here. You must write the news to me. I will send you the money that is due on the watch as soon as I can get it. We ain’t been paid off yet and I can’t get it until we are but the overcoat and knapsack I can’t send and can’t sell them for they have all got such things. I have not got anything to write that is of any importance so I can’t write a long letter this time.
I have got four [letters] to answer which I received the last mail but I have not had one before in three weeks. Give my love to Aunt Ester and all the family and to the swamp folks and to Rosalie and all of your family and to my folks. I do wish this war would end for I am tired of it. I wants to get home to see my folks and I want to quiver [have sex] once more. It is fifteen months since I quivered and that is a long time. I rather think I shall have to stay as much as one year longer if not more. I don’t see any sight for it to end this winter at any rate. Still most everybody seems to think it will but I can’t see it in that light. I wish I could think so but I can’t so I make myself contented as I am but I never knew what it was to be gone from home before. I have been gone longer but I had no family then to think of so I did not have so much to think of as I have now.
Well, you must write to me as often as you can and I will do the same. Now I must bring this to a close and wish you health and happiness all this world can afford. This is from your nephew, — Josiah P. Miller