1862: J. W. Scott to his Mother

This letter was written by a soldier named J. W. Scott but I am unable to definitively place him in a particular regiment. In his letter, Scot writes of having to burn “our” pontoon bridges and of expecting another train while at Harrison’s Landing. This leads me to conjecture that he served in either the 15th or 50th New York Engineers—both regiments being attached to McClellan’s Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign. The former has two soldiers by the name of James Scott but neither gives a middle initial on the muster rolls.


Harrison’s Landing
James River, Virginia
July 9th 1862

Dear Mother & Sister,

Your long looked for letter has been received finding me well. I had began to think I would never hear from you again. I don’t see why you are not more prompt in writing. Letters from home are very welcome, I assure you.

We have had some busy times since falling back fro the Chickahominy River. We are now over 20 miles from Richmond but I suppose we will soon march again. You must not think that the Rebels have beaten us for they have not. We have lost a good many men in the fighting on the way here. Also immense quantities of commissary stores & clothing, &c. We destroyed our bridges and a large portion of our pontoon train as we had not teams enough to draw it so we cut & burnt it. We expect to get another train while here.

We are troubled very much for water. We have to use the river water most of the time. The weather is extremely warm but the nights are cool. We are encamped close by the river on the Old Harrison Estate. I have seen the house [Berkeley Plantation] to which President Harrison was born. The country is entirely barren of all kinds of produce. Nothing to be had eatable—only such as we buy from the sutler’s at enormous prices.

I will send Mother $10.00 when we get our pay which will be in about a month. I think the young ladies are marrying right smart. I don’t know what we soldiers will do.

I don’t think of much else to write [in] this except to have you tell John I will write soon. Give my love to all and accept a good share for yourself. Jim & George send their best wishes.

Write often. From your affectionate son & brother, — J. W. Scott

to Mother & Sister

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