1862: George More to Jackson Goppy

The following letters were written by George More (1827-1922), a native of Denmark, who was living in Danville, Montour county, Pennsylvania, when he was drafted as a private on 4 November 1862 in Co. G, 178th Pennsylvania Infantry. This regiment was recruited in the counties of Columbia, Lancaster, Montour and Luzerne and rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, in the autumn of 1862, where it was organized and mustered into the U. S. service for a term of nine months. On Dec. 5, it left camp for Washington, was ordered to Newport News and thence to Yorktown, where it was posted during the winter. In April, 1863, the regiment went to the relief of the troops at Fort Magruder, who were attacked by Gen. Wise, and in June joined in an expedition to Providence ferry and the movement toward Richmond, which skirmished with the enemy at Bottom’s bridge on July 2. After returning to Washington its term of service expired and it was mustered out at Harrisburg on July 27, 1863.

From the letters we learn that George was married at the time he entered the service. His wife’s maiden name was Sarah Snyder. After the war he relocated to Oregon. He was buried in Roseburg, Oregon.

I can’t be certain of the addressee though I’m confident it was mailed to McEwensville, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania.

It should be noted that George’s command of the English language was poor and the handwriting was very difficult to decipher. I’ve done the best I could.

To read letters by two others members of the 178th Pennsylvania that I previously transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared, see:

Charles Fraser, Co. B, 178th Pennsylvania (Union/7 Letters)
Edwin Musser, Co. B, 178th Pennsylvania (Union/4 Letters)

[Note: These letters are from the personal collection of Greg Herr and were transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Letter 1

Addressed to Mr. J. Goppy, McEwensville, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania

Yorktown [Virginia]
December 21, 1862

Mr. Goppy
Dear Sir,

As it is Sunday today and not much going on in camp, I take the opportunity to pen you these few lines for I know that you folks at home are always glad to hear from the seat of war, or rather from Dixie Land as you folks calls it. So I will tell you a little something of what I have seen in my short time.

We left Harrisburg on the 4th of December, from there to Baltimore, from there to Washington where we arrived on the 7th of December in the afternoon. From Harrisburg to Washington, I still dis not see much of importance to me. As we arrived in Washington we were put into the barracks and [then] got orders not to be in them by a severe punishment. As a matter of course it dod not agree with me very well as I always look to see where I am; know what is going on, have got punished first. You can easy think it was myself.

The first move I made I was towards the Capitol, but as it was Sunday on that day, I could not get in for the first time. After spending a short time there, I moved further again down to the Potomac of works I had heard so much of, but here I did not see anything strange to me and so we traveled on again until we came to a kind of a building. It was a building about 20 feet square and about 70 or 80 high and not finished yet. But as it was Sunday and not much traveling on that day, I had a good deal of trouble to find out what it was. At last I got it. It was that new monument of Washington and so I went on again. But I had not traveled very far [when] I saw something else again and I was in the same trouble again as before. But this would not satisfy me so I went up trying whether there was any change to get in, but I soon found a toll to get in and so I went to the Hall and I stopped there until 8 o’clock, and next morning as soon as I could get away, I took a few crackers in my pocket and away I went again. I have been there all day and a half but I must say if I had anything to say amongst them, I would drove them all out of the Hall in double quick time for all I heard. Well, I wrote that it were nothing but blackguarding in order to get the 16 dollars and the country may take care of itself.

But hark! the long roll is beating and I must be on. Well goodbye Washington for Fortress Monroe where we arrived on the 7th of December but I never got something to tell you when I was at hoe. I heard a great deal of this contract business but never felt the affect of it until I had to stay there about [ ] but being determined to know what I was seeing I stayed until someone came and told me, and what do you suppose what it was? I’ll tell you. It was the Smithsonian Institute. But still knowing the name of it, it couldn’t satisfy me, so from there I went to the White House and by that time, it got pretty late and so I put for the barracks again. Next day, being Monday and the first of December, knowing that Congress was to meet, I like to be in both placed but I went to the Institute at first and I think I got well paid for my time.

The Smithsonian’s Exhibit on Dr. Kane

When first I came in, I saw Dr. [Elisha Kent] Kane, the one who went in search of [polar explorer] Dr. [John] Franklin. Further I saw the sword of George Washington and Lafayette. By this time, it being about one o’clock and my time is getting short, I went back again to the Capitol. When I got there their regiment was there standing outside talking about the price of the [ ].

I got to Washington. When we got here we had to board in the barracks boarding house where a whole regiment eat at one time. Now we all know the government allows us 40 cents per day but all we got was about 5 ounces of bread and a cup of coffee 3 times a day which did not cost them over 20 cents a day, so I think I felt this contracting business is pretty hard. But we must leave it now as it is and leave Washington behind us and look for the better to come. I didn’t see much in importance to me—only a few ironclad steamers and a few gunboats, that is all. From here we went to Newport News. The first thing I saw it was the little Monitor, or Cheesebox as they call it here, and I counted 8 ironclads more and something like 30 to 35 gunboats.

Newport News is a town of about 8 or 10 dwelling houses but the inhabitants have all left for Dixie Land and all you can find here are their darkies. The land here is very [poor even] if they would take care of it. It is all sandy soil, just like your river bottom and there is about a thousand soldiers in the field where our camp…We stayed here only 5 days and went to Yorktown where we are now. I tell you, when we got to Newport News, it was very warm—so warm that we had to take off our over coats by drilling and a good many of our men got sick, they not being use to the weather…

I am informed by my wife that Mr. C. Wagner did not do as he agreed to. What the cause may be of this, I do not know…Mr. Goppy, you would like to know what to do. I want you to take charge of the 750 dollars which belongs to my wife and I leave the whole matter to you, hoping that you will do the same for my wife as if you was doing it for yourself, and I shall be satisfied….

So no more at present. Please answer this as soon as you can.

Direct your letter to George More, 178th Pennsylvania Regiment, Company G, in care of Capt. Adams, Washington D. C.

Letter 2

Yorktown [Virginia]
January 14, 1862

Mr Goppy, dear sir,

I duly received your letter [and was] glad to hear that you are all well and happy at home. For my part, I must say that I am well and hearty. Again, as ever, I was surprised to see in your letter that Charley Wagner had come at last to pay that money. I for myself had given up the sheep for that purpose, but still I am surprised as it is and leave the whole matter with you knowing that you will attend to it as well and better than what I could. You told me in your letter that you would invest it for my wife. Please do so…

We are still in Yorktown yet and we stand a good chance to stay our time out here. But the boys are keeping very busy here and don’t get much time to play. We are in the Fourth Army Corps in Virginia under Gen. Keyes’ command in Gen. Burnside’s Department—that is, the 178th, 179th Pa. Regt. Where the rest of the drafted men are, I do not know, except the 172nd is here too but not in our Brigade.

Dear sir, please tell me what they are doing at home with those that did not report. I suppose they think they are all right but I am afraid that they have to take their turn yet, which I hope it will be so, and that there is a law yet in the Old Keystone State which they are not able to dodge.

I am not with the company anymore. I am detailed on other duty with the doctors and have a good situation. Mr. Goppy, as my wife has no house yet for next spring, and the houses very scarce in Watsontown, please see whether she can get a house or a part of a house in your town. If so, please let me know. So no more at present, please answer this as soon as you can.

Yours respectfully, — George More

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