This letter was written by Elias Hane (1844-1864), the son of Jacob Hane (1814-1898) and Eva Warner (1816-1857) of Knox, Albany county, New York.
Elias enlisted at Albany on 18 August 1862 as a private in the 113th New York Infantry but because heavy artillery regiments were needed for the defenses of Washington, D.C., the regiment was converted from infantry on December 10, 1862, and became the 7th New York Heavy Artillery on December 19, 1862. At the time of his enlistment, Elias was described as an 18 year-old farmer who stood 5′ 8″ tall, with hazel eyes and brown hair. After nearly two years service, manning the defenses of Washington D. C., the 7th NY Heavy Artillery was ordered to the battle front to participate as infantrymen in Grant’s Overland Campaign. Elias was wounded less than a month later at the Battle of Cold Harbor on 8 June 1864 and died four days later at Staton Hospital in Washington D. C. after having had his leg amputated.
In his letter, Elias asks his father to let his older brothers Adam Matthias Hane (1836-1863) and Amos Gideon Hane (1839-1864) know of his whereabouts so they could correspond. Adam served in Co K, 91st New York Infantry and died of wounds received on 14 June 1863 in assaulting Port Hudson. Amos served in Co. D, 91st New York Infantry and he died of disease at Cairo, Illinois, on 20 July 1864. The only brother to survive the war who was old enough to serve was Jacob Henry Hane (1842-1895) who did not enlist and was not drafted.
September 7, 1862
It is with great pleasure that I now take the opportunity to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present and hope that you are the same. Now I suppose that you will be surprised at getting so many letters from me when you don’t answer any but I suppose that you have too much to do [and] that I will have to forgive you.
I have been on picket two nights since I have been here and I like it first rate. We left Fort Ripley Thursday and I was glad to leave it for it was a lonesome place and this is a very fine place but we can’t stay here long for we had orders to go to Harper’s Ferry last night but the order was countermanded and I was glad of it. But we have got to leave tomorrow and we cannot find out where we have got to go.
You ought to have been down here to seen the soldiers go by here. There was a string nine miles long and they are a going to meet General Lee. He has crossed the Potomac about fourteen miles above here with thirty thousand men.
Now I want you to write to Adam and Amos and tell them where I be for I cannot get no time to write to them for we have to go on picket every other night and march every other day. Our Colonel is a doing good business. He has got command of five thousand me by now. I can’t write no more at present. Write as son as you get this. From your son, — Elias Hane