These letters were written by William B. Miller (1840-1909), the son of George W. Miller (1799-1881) and Mehitable King (1812-1888) of Amagansett, Suffolk county, New York.
William enlisted in Co. K (the “Monitors”), 127th New York Infantry in September 1862 and mustered out of the regiment in June 1865, serving two years and 11 months. He served with his brother Josiah Parsons Miller, with his cousin Jonathan Allen Bennett, and a number of other relatives who were recruited in the fall of 1862 from the eastern tip of Long Island.
William wrote all of these letters to his uncle, William J. Bennett who was the father of his cousin, Jonathan Allen Bennett.
For more letters by the 127th New York Infantry that have been transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared, see:
Henry Blain Graham, Co. C, 127th New York (1 Letter)
John Allen, Co. E, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Lord Wellington Gillett, Co. H, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Jonathan Allen Bennett, Co. K, 127th New York (33 Letters)
Josiah Parsons Miller, Co. K, 127th New York (3 Letters)
February 3rd, 1863
As [your son] Johnny is a writing, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you the same and all the rest of the folks. It has been cold enough to freeze the Devil to death and they have had us out a shooting blank cartridges today. I wish you could have seen me. I could not tell when I had hold of a cartridge or anything else.
I heard that Letta Baker was in the fashion [pregnant]. Is that so? I heard she run against a rule. It was not mine for I ain’t a carpenter. I had a letter from home last night and they said she said it belonged to me or Johnny. If that is so, I think I had better stay where I am a spell, don’t you? I have not seen her to speak to her since she was to Pelts Second Part. You know they said she was in the same way last winter. If she had him, I should not thought so much about it but you know that I am no such a feller as that. I don’t speak to a girl. You know much more do anything like that. I am as clear of that as a dog is of fleas, don’t you think so? I should like you to see her and see how she looks. I want you to write to me and let me know how she looks. Has she been eating raw rice or not? You said she had run against a rule. What kind of a rule was it? Was it the rule of three? I should like to have you do such sums by long or short division. I should try the rule of three and if I could not get it, I should try some other way.
I can’t write any more now. I want you to answer soon and let me know all about it. Give my love to all. I must say good night. This is from — William B. Miller
Camp near Vienna, Virginia
April 2, 1863
as Johnny is writing, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. There is not much news to write. We have moved about sixteen miles from Camp Gurney. We have been put through [ ]. Since we moved last, Johnny and I have been contriving how to get out of this scrape. We don’t see any way [but] to have you go and see Charles P. Dayton and see if he can get a Lieutenant’s berth in some regiment. I want you to see him as soon as possible and see how much he thinks he can get one for and write to me soon and let me know all about it. Johnny or I—either of us—know twice as much as Shirey did about drilling and if you will see him and have a talk with him. I will pay you for your trouble if I ever see you and if I don’t, I will make my will and give you something.
The boys are all well and send their respects to all.
I don’t care what regiment it is if I only can get a commish.
Give my love to all the folks and don’t say anything about what I have wrote here. It is most dark so I shall have to say goodbye. This is from — William B. Miller
Camp near Catlett’s Station, Va.
July 3, 1863
As I have a few leisure moments to spare and Johnny is a writing, if I live to get home, I never will say a word about hot weather. It is so hot here that I man can’t hardly live. I want to get home where I can go and see the girls. What do you think about Mary Fithen’s boy? I left in the right time to get clear of that. Now I am a coming home to go up and see them balsam trees again. The girls must look out for the soldiers. They talk hard some of them but that ain’t me. You know that I ain’t any such a boy as that for I never have anything to do with the girls, that you know I hope. Some of the boys will ask me to [their] wedding. You would think to hear them talk that they calculated to get married soon after they arrive home.
We have heard good news, if true. It is i a Baltimore Clipper. It says that the inhabitants of Richmond are coming back on Old Jeff and say he has led them into this rebellion and they don’t see any sight of it ending very soon and if he don’t end it, they will. And North Carolina talks hard of coming into the Union again. We are the boys to fetch them back. Do you see any sight of his cruel war ending this year? I can’t see the point yet if you do but I hope for the best. I must get supper soon. All I have got to do is fill my cup up with water and set it out in the sun and it will boil while I am finishing this. We don’t have any trouble to boil coffee when the sun shines and that is most of the time. We have not had rain enough to blow a feather over for the last month.
I can’t write any more this time. Pelt sends his respects to you and says he is a hard soul. Sam Ranger is here to my tent. He is well. Give my love to all. No more this time. From Old Bill Miller to his uncle W. J. Bennett
Morris Island, South Carolina
June 4, 1864
As I have a few leisure moments to spare, I thought I would improve them in writing to you to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you and family all well. We are having pretty good times here now. Our company and E company and D company are detached to do picket duty in boats. we go out at retreat and get back at reveille. We go every other night. There is two reliefs of us.
There is not much news to write. The boys are all well except Harry King. He is very sick. Henry Baker has got two of his fingers hurt. He hurt them with a pistol. Elias Miller started for home on the same steamer that this will go on. I have got a plate to send you in this. You must give my love to all enquiring friends, I had a letter from home. One in East Hampton last winter with no name to it. It was headed “Dear Cousin” and I don’t know who it was from. If I can find out, I will answer it with pleasure.
You must write soon and write all the news. Goodbye, from Willia B. Miller
Direct to William B. Miller, Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. S. V., Morris Island, S. C., Department of the South