The following letter was written by Sgt. Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) O’Bryon (1837-1864) who enlisted in Co. E, 22 August 1862. Frank was from Uniontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania. He was married to Elizabeth Beck in June 1858 and at the time he entered the service, the couple had a son named Charles G. O’Bryon who was born in July 1859.
Unfortunately for his family, Frank did not return home from the war. He was killed in action at Rural Plains, or Battle of Totopotomy Creek, Virginia on 31 May 1864.
The following brief note, scribbled in pencil by a comrade in Co. E, appears in the Widow’s Pension Claim record:
Camp on the field
May the 31st 1864
Mrs. B. F. O’Bryon,
I thought as I had heard of your husband’ B. F. O’Bryon being killed on skirmish line today, that as I was the only one that knew where you lived, that it was no more than my duty to inform you that he was killed today. I am sorrow to say it but it is my duty to do so. I have no more to write. Excuse mistakes and bad writing as I am in a hurry.
Yours in haste, — H. C. Diffenderffer
Camp near Falmouth, Va.
Thursday, April 25th 1863
Today is a dreary day in the Army of the Potomac. That forward move has been so long talked is again delayed by rain and mud so all we can do is to watch the enemy and I believe if all accounts are true, we can do more good than by fighting, for I have now become convinced that their supplies are about out from the way [they] look and from their anxiety to traffic with our boys for coffee and anything that is fit to eat. And there is more deserting by them at any time since we have [been] in the Army of the Potomac which is a good omen that they are about played out in Fredericksburg.
And I trust the time may soon come they will have to give up the struggle in this unrighteous war for I [think] there has been enough blood spilt to purge the Nation. But the Lord only knows when this war is a going to stop. From present appearances we are going to have a war with England. If that be the case, look out for squally times in America.
But let’s change the subject, You stated in one of your letters that you had sent me postage stamps. I would say in reply that I have received stamps twice and have received no papers at all. I would like to get a couple of Genius [of Liberty] 1 to show what kind of traitors we have at home. I think that they imagine that kind of doctrine suits the soldiers. There is one thing if this regiment was in Uniontown, the Genius [of Liberty] would not stand twenty-four hours. If you can borrow a [American] Standard from Mrs. Stone that has the war resolutions that was passed in our regiment, you can form an idea of the news that we hold out here in front of the enemy. I don’t [think] the Genius [of Liberty] can say about us what they [say] in regard to Amzi Fuller’s Company or Regiment—that we are getting large pay and doing no service for our country.
There was yesterday some two-year’s service men mustered out of the service for to go home. I tell you what, they cheered and then they played the “Farewell March,” though a great many said they would enter the service again.
I believe I must stop for today. Please let me know whether you got the money, I intend on trying to get a pass to visit cousin Frank if I can get one. If I do, and he has not moved from where he is, it is my intention to get his picture and send it to you. Charlie King [musician] has been my shanty [mate]. He says he sent twelve dollars in money home. We are living now first rate since we have been paid off. I kept more than I actually needed but from the appearance of things, I thought in ll probability we might get in a fight and I won’t use it.
I have heard Tom Smith has raised a company and is in Harrisburg. If so, let me know all particulars of all [that] is going on and send me a paper when you see anything you [think] will interest [me]. [Corp.] Abe Moore says he sent home for some money and did not tell them where to send it so you will [do] him a kindness by telling them where he is so they will know where to send it.
Later. We have just heard that Jackson and his whole force is taken. I think that enough good news to satisfy you for the present. Everything is cheering on our side at this time and all our boys are afeard they will never meet the enemy and will be home in a short time. So keep in good spirits and all will be well. So I must close and when I write, I will write if you say so. I hope you will not forget me in prayers and trust Him who is able to make all things well. So goodnight. — Frank
1 The Genius of Liberty newspaper was published in Uniontown, Fayette county, PA. from 1839 to 1917. It was a Democratic daily paper.