These letters were written by George H. VanDusen (1845-1905), the son of Carmi VanDusen (1815-1901) and Delia Ann Williams (1819-1887) of Warren county, New York. George wrote the letters to his wife, Emma C. Adams (1848-1923). The couple were quite young when they married in 1863.
George wrote the letters while serving as a private in Co. K, 2nd New York Veteran Cavalry (nicknamed the “Empre Light Cavalry”). He was mustered into the regiment on 10 November 1863 and mustered out 8 November 1865 at Talladega, Alabama.
The regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at Saratoga from Aug. 15 to Dec. 30, 1863, for three years, and left the state by detachments from August to December. It was stationed at Washington during the ensuing winter, whence it embarked for New Orleans, and there joined the Department of the Gulf. Its entire term New York Regiments 203 of service was spent in the South, where it formed part of Arnold’s cavalry division, 19th corps. Assigned to the 5th cavalry brigade, it took part in Banks’ Red River campaign, in which it was 18 times in action and suffered a loss of TJ killed, wounded and missing. It was assigned to the 4th cavalry brigade on its return and through June, July and August was engaged in a number of raids and scouting expeditions, meeting with some losses. In the fall, attached to the 1st cavalry brigade, it was active at St. Francisville, Bayou Sara and Fausse river. La., and in November, attached to the separate brigade, cavalry reserve, it skirmished at Clinton, Liberty creek and Pascagoula, Miss., at state line, and at McLeod’s mills. La., where it lost 11 killed and wounded. Its last active service was with the 1st brigade, cavalry division, in March and April, 1865, at College Hill, Pine Barren creek, Cotton creek and Bluff Springs, Fla.; Pollard, Fort Blakely, Mt. Pleasant and Whistler’s station, Ala.
[Note: This first letter was transcribed by Excelsior Brigade & listed for sale on their webpage.]
U.S. Marine Hospital
New Orleans, LA
April 14, 1864
Dear Wife Emma,
I now take this present opportunity to let you know how I am getting along. I am not well yet. But I think I am gaining slowly so that I feel quite encouraged. If I continue to improve I think I shall be fit for duty in two or three weeks at the longest. I hope these few lines will find you all enjoying good health and spirits. I suppose Father is making sugar by this time. How I should like some maple molasses just now. It seems as if it would taste good but a soldier must not think of dainties. I suppose you will save me a large piece and eat it for me too. It would do me some good to know that you was having something good to eat if I can’t. But oh dear Emma, how I do want to hear how you are getting along and whether the baby lived or not. Oh, how I hope that it is alive to comfort you while I am in the Army. I have dreamed of seeing you with a baby for two or three nights. Last night I dreamed that I went home and found you in bed with
a little might of a baby. I thought that its head wasn’t as big as my fist and I asked you if it was a boy or girl and you told me that you didn’t know which for it was so small that you couldn’t tell. You must write all the particulars and all the news.
How do you get along with our folks? Do they use you well or not? How did you get used while you were sick? Did they take good care of you dearest? I hope so, for I would if I had been there with you. I shall feel uneasy until I hear all about it. Oh Emma, do you think that we shall take as much comfort ever again as we used too. I hope so and may the good Lord in his great mercy grant that we may live together again and that this rebellion be put down and this cruel war comes to an end so that the soldiers can return to their families. Emma don’t fail to pray for me and that we may soon be united, never to part again on earth until we part to meet in heaven. It seems as though your prayers would be answered. I pray for you every time. Oh how I should like to clasp you to my breast. It would be the most joyful moment in my life but we must wait and pray. But I must close my letter for this time. I will write again very soon if nothing happens in the mean time. Take courage and hope for the best. Write soon and often. Give my love to Father and Mother and all of the children and I will remain your truly affectionate husband,
George H.. Vandusen
Goodbye and may God bless you all. Direct:
2nd Veteran Cav, Co. K
N. Y. S. V.
U. S. Marine Hospital, Ward S
New Orleans, LA
I now take this opportunity to write a few lines to you. I received your kind and affectionate letter of February 22 and was very glad to hear from you,It found me well and in Florida. We left Naval Cove yesterday morning and got here at night. We are encamped about a mile from the harbor. As we came into harbor there was Fort Pickens on the right, Fort Brancas on the left, and Fort McRoy in front. We are about 40 miles in the rear of Mobile. They are fighting about there now. Yesterday our loss was 500 killed and wounded. We are not far from where there is plenty of rebs. A reb captain came in t’other day and his whole company and gave themselves up.
The morning that we left Naval Cove, the fleet left for Mobile so you may hear from there soon. We expect to start before long. The sooner the better. The water here is good. We have plenty to eat and the weather is none too warm to suit me. The woods is mostly pine with oak shrubs that I have seen yet. The soil is sandy. All the news we get is good lately. Flour is 400 dollars per barrel and beef 4 dollars a pound in Mobile and other things according. They will have to give up soon or starve.
There is somewheres near 6,000 troops at this place. There is about 80 men in my company so we can make quite a fight although the weather is terrible hot in the summer time. It has been none too hot for comfort this winter to say nothing about the mud and rain.
There is a chance for more fighting here than I like the prospect of. I hope that they will make up their minds to give up without fighting. I hope that this war will end before long so I can come home and see you again but I hain’t got much longer to stay—a year and a half. I don’t call that long for time goes off fast to me.
Write often and all the particulars and I will try to do the same. The boys are all well. If you hear from Zina, let me know how he is getting along and where he is. Keep up good courage and pray for me. Give my love to all and trust in God and I will remain your affectionate husband, — George H. Vandusen