The following letter was written by George W. Rice (1842-Aft1915), the son of Horace Rice (1804-1853) and Mindwell Bemus (1812-1865). George wrote the letter to his older brother Horatio Seymour Rice (1835-1901) of Harmony, Chautauqua county, New York.
George was 21 years old when he enlisted on 22 August 1864 as a private in Co. G, 9th New York Cavalry. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as a 5 and a half foot, hazel-eyed, brown-haired jeweler. He was mustered out of the regiment at Clouds Mills, Virginia on 30 June 1865.
Upon his return home from the war, in late December 1865, he married Melvina Burt (1848-1925) and settled down in Harmony to resume his career as a jeweler.
Camp of the 9th New York Cavalry
Near Lovettsville, Virginia
February 6, 1865
I received your letter last Friday & was very glad to hear that you were well but sorry to say that it did not find me very well. I have been sick for two or three weeks with the chill fever but am getting a good deal better now. This is the first letter I have written since I wrote to you. I was sorry that I could not come and see you again but it was impossible on the account of my being sick. But there is some hopes of peace prevailing here at present & we are all in hopes of having peace soon and very soon.
You have of course heard of the three peace commissioners, rebel [Alexander] Stephens, [Robert] Hunter and [John A.] Campbell, coming into our lines & William H. Seward and the President have gone o meet them at City Point. And it is said that Jeff Davis is to be there too. And I hope that they will bring this cruel war to a close soon. I understand that recruiting has stopped for the present. Some of the men here are almost sure of peace this time & others doubt it, but I think peace will come soon. [See—The Fox and the Hedgehog: The Hampton Roads Conference]
Now in regard to my bounty, it is all left in black and white for one year, & in regard to your pay, I should [have] settled that up before I came away but you know that I did not get my money until I was mustered in for good & then I could not go & attend to things myself & so I had to leave without fixing your matter & mine individually. But it is left so that if I don’t never come back, that you will get your pay. But the idea of $75 for that gold watch that never could be fixed without costing as much as it was worth & the other one half to be galvanized every day to keep it looking anyhow. I don’t know but the folks think beings a person goes to war and gets 4 or 5 hundred dollars that he is made of money. But if a soldier don’t earn his money, I don’t know who does. If I had known you had wanted to borrowed some money before the papers were al made out, I would just as leave let you had one or two hundred dollars as anybody else. But it is all let out now & the papers all made out & left with a good man.
You may think I mean Henry but I do not. He has not got them & it would be useless for me to give you my note for it left all safe as it is now and I don’t feel disposed to ever sign my name to another note as long as I have got means to pay all I owe & have a few cents left.
I guess you will please excuse this poor writing for I am rather nervous. I will close by bidding you good day. — George W. Rice