1862-66: Sigmond Bachman to John West Webster

I could not find an image of Sigmond but here is a CDV of Quartermaster Sergeant Erwin F. Cheney of the 21st New York Cavalry. Image taken on 25 November 1863 (Robert Mayer III Collection)

The following Civil War letters were written by German (Jewish) emigrant Sigmond Bachman (1840-1911). He first appears in US Census records in 1860 enumerated in the household of John West Webster (1808-1889) and his wife, Esther Arnold (1813-1888) of Ogden, Monroe county, New York, where he was a hired laborer on Webster’s farm. Also living in her father’s home at that time was 23 year-old Ruth Webster (1837-1904). Ruth and her father were the recipients of these letters. Ruth married Russell Chapman (1824-1882) on 1 October 1863.

Sigmond entered the service as a private in Co. E, 27th New York Infantry on 21 May 1861 at Rochester. He mustered out two years later on 31 May 1863 at Elmira. He again entered the service in late November 1863 as a private in Co. L, 21st New York Cavalry, and did not muster out until late June 1866 as a sergeant in Co. F at Denver, Colorado.

Sigmond wrote two of the letters while he was in the 27th New York Infantry and six of the letters while in the 21st New York Cavalry.

To read letters by other members of the 27th New York Infantry or the 21st New York Cavalry transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared, see:
Dexter E. Buell, Co. B, 27th New York (28 Letters)
John B. Edson, Co. E, 27th New York (44 Letters)

William Badger Tibbets, F&S, 21st New York Cavalry (1 Letter)
Hiram C. Barney, Co. H, 21st New York Cavalry (4 Letters)

Letter 1

27th Regiment, N. Y. V.
Col. J. J. Bartlett, Commanding
Camp Franklin, Virginia
March 19th 1862

Friend Ruth,

In my my hurry I take my pen in hand to write to you those few lines. I am well and in good health at present and so is all the rest of the boys. We are a going to move in a few days by water when we shall give the rebels another call.

We was out in Fairfax the 10th. When the Rebels left Centreville and Manassas, they left a lot of wooden guns on the breastworks.

The wooden log (“Quaker”) guns found on the breastworks at Centreville when the Confederate army withdrew in March 1862

Our paymaster has not come yet and I heard that we was not a going to be paid till next May. Now I want to write once in awhile so I shall be obliged to ask you to send me $1 dollar’s worth of stamps. Don’t delay in sending them for I am in a hurry. If there is going on, I shall let you know.

I must close. Give my best respects to your father and mother and all enquiring friends. Tell Persis to write to me. So goodbye.

From, — Sigmond Bachman

Write soon.

Letter 2

Steamship S. R. Spaulding
Off Shippingpoint
26 April 1862

Dear Ruth,

We are far away from home but near enough to the enemy so that we can hear their guns most every minute. We left Alexandria for Yorktown the 17th. We are about 7 miles from there. How soon we shall go there, I cannot tell. We had a pleasant voyage down the river and through the Chesapeake Bay.

The General took us down to Fortress Monroe. We all enjoyed it very well. We saw the little Monitor. She looks very well although she is small. I should think she could whip the Merrimack all to pieces. We are on shore for two or three days so that they can clean the ship and the boys are improving their time very well. We are within 5 rods of the shore where the boys can get all the oysters and clams they want to eat. We live good here. I wish you could get some of the oysters.

There was some boys detailed to go somewhere. They did go within the Rebel lines and steal their pontoon boats. These boats are used to make bridges across water where troops cannot ford.

Last night we could hear firing all night in quick succession.

Ruth, I have not received any letter from you yet nor heard anything about my money that I sent you the 3rd of this month. I hope when you receive this you would let me know what has become of my money. Don’t delay. If it is lost, I shall try to get some more in its place. Give my love to your mother and father and all inquiring friends. Excuse my bad writing for we have no such place as you got to home.

No more at present. Yours truly, — Sigmpnd Bachman

Direct your letter to Sigmond Bachman, 27th Regt., Col. Bartlett, Co. E, Capt. [George G.] Wanzer, Franklin’s Division, Washington D. C.

Halltown, Virginia
February 19, 1864

Dear Sir,

You must excuse me for not writing sooner for I am very busy every day either on guard or on a scout.

We have some very good times with the rebels. It is more fun to fight on horseback than on foot for I have got a good horse. He looks a good deal like Old John but he is a great deal better than him.

Mr. Webster, I have not got my bounty yet and if you please, will you see to get it for me for you are the only friend that I have got. If you can get it for me, I should like it very much for I got a letter from my sister and she is sick. I should like to send her some of it if I got it. You go to Rochester very often and you go and see George C. Teal, Commissioner of Deeds on Buffalo Street in the Eagle Block. He swore me in. I think he can tell you something about it. Write to me as soon as you can for I am anxious to hear about it.

There is a Arnold in the Eighth New York Cavalry—the same one that ran away from Brockport. But what company he belongs to, I don’t know.

The weather is very fine here although the nights are a little chilly yet. Some of our boys are saddling up to go on a scout for three days.

I have seen the place where John Brown was hung. It is Charlestown. Quite a nice little place but most all secesh in it. We came through Maryland adn the places look quite natural to me, I have seen that famous place called Harper’s Ferry. We are only about four miles from the place.

I have not much more to write but I will try to do better next time. No more at present. Give my respects to Mr. & Mrs. Chapman and Mrs. Webster, Maria Arnold.

I have wrote one letter to Mrs. Webster but got no answer yet. I don’t know whether she got it or not. Answer this letter if you please. If you can’t, get somebody to write for you. So goodbye.

Yours, — S. J. Bachman


S. J. Backman, Co. L, 21st New York Volunteer Cavalry, Washington D. C.

Write soon.

Letter 4

Halltown, Virginia
March 12th 1864

J. W. Webster, Sir!

I received your letter all safe and in good season and was glad to hear from you and that you are well.

I got a letter from George C. Teall. He sent me the papers that are required so I think it will be all right but I told him to send me the money so when I get it, I shall send it right to you. I did not think when i wrote to him that he could let you have the money. It would make it so much better. If you see him, you could tell him to let you have it for me if it would be just as well.

We were out target shooting this forenoon on horseback. We all done well. The lieutenant told the boys the first one that put a ball through the target should have a dollar. I was the one to get it.

Well we had a good time down here since I left home but very little sickness amongst the boys. I suppose you have heard by this time that Major Sullivan is dead. He belonged to the 1st Veterans.

We have quite a rain storm down here. It rained very hard for two days. All looks well down here just now. There is a good many boys down here from Spencerport so I think they won’t have to draft much now.

Gen. Siegel is in command now. I think it will be a little better now.

I have not much more to write. Remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Chapman and also to Miss Arnold. Remember me to Mrs. Webster. I must close so goodbye. Write soon. I am, — Sigmund J. Bachman

P. S. I have seen that we got the election in Ogden and I hope as get it all over. I wish we soldiers could vote. — S. B.

Letter 5

Camp Averill
January 9, 1865

Mr. Webster, Sir:

I seat myself down to write to you these few lines hoping that they will reach you well and in good health.

There is nothing going on here just now. All seems quiet so far but I guess that the Army of the Potomac is on a move. I hope that they will succeed.

The weather is very cold down here at present but we never mind that as long as we can get plenty of wood. We got a good stove in our tent. There is four men in one tent. One man from Rochester, two from Spencerport, and one from Col. County—all very good boys. Two of them received boxes from home with lots of stuff and provender in it. One had a sack of buckwheat flour so that we can have pancakes.

I have wrote a letter to Miss Arnold but have got no answer yet. I have told her to send me my photograph and tell you to send me one dollar’s worth of stamps. I wish you would send them for they can’t be got around here.

Please tell Mrs. Webster to send me my picture. I shall keep asking till I get it. Give my love to Mrs. Webster and all enquiring friends.

Yours truly, — Sigmund Bachman

P. S. Direct as before.

Letter 6

Camp near Berryville, Virginia
April 8th 1865

Dear Sir,

I am well and in good health, hoping you are the same.

We are on the move again but where we are a going, I can not tell. We have been up to New Market but did not see anything of the Rebels so we came back again and we are now within one and a half miles of Berryville. All seems quiet here in the Valley. I don’t think there are many Rebels here at present.

I think that the war will be over soon. I was expecting a letter from you but have not got it yet. I will you would send me 2 lbs. of tobacco as I want it very much.

The govrenment owes us now seven months pay. I could not tell when we shall get it but I think they will wait till the war is over. Please send it by mail as soon as you get this letter as you will see and please to send me five dollars in greenbacks.

Give my best respects to Mrs. Webster and Miss Arnold. Also Mrs. Chapman. No more at present.

So goodbye from your friend, — Sigmund Backman

Letter 7

Camp near Alexandria, Virginia
May 30th 1865

J. W. Webster, Sir:

I must write to you these few lines hoping that they will reach you well and happy as they leave me the same at present.

I wrote you a letter from Berryville but have not got no answer from it yet. I don’t know whether you got it or not. I can’t tell. [I was] asking you to send me five dollars and two lbs. of tobacco but you need not send it now as we got four months pay so that will help me some. I sent forty dollars to my sister. She is not very well so I must help her some. I have heard that Grandpa Webster is dead and that Charlie Baker got home.

Mr. Webster, I wish that you would write to me [once] in a while for I don’t get many letters now, but I think that we will be home in a few days at least.

I was on that [Grand] Review they had in Washington the 24th. Oh! it looked nice. The stores were all closed and the folks all turned out to see us. The streets were all covered with folks.

How is all the folks around Ogden. you must tell me all about them.

The Government owes me five months more but I expect we shall have to wait till we get our discharge till we get it all.

I saw the 108th [New York] Regiment pass through Washington. I expect that they will be home in a few days. The boys that came from Ogden are all well. Give my respects to Mrs. Webster and Miss Arnold. No more at present but write soon.

Yours truly, — Sigmond Bachman, Co. L, 21st New York Cavalry, Washington S. C.

Letter 8

Fort Collins
Colorado Territory
January 30th 1866

J. W. Webster, Sir:

I take my pen in hand to write to you these few lines hoping that they will reach you in good health as they leave me the same at present.

I have wrote quite a number of letters to you but never got no answer yet nor I don’t see what the reason is that I don’t get one from you. I wish you would be so kind and write me one as soon as you get this.

The regiment got paid twice since we have been here but those six companies that were on board the train that the robbery was committed on did not get any. How long they will keep it from us, I can’t tell. They owe me now 13 months pay with two installments but I believe that they can’t keep it from us always.

The weather is very good here. The boys are enjoying themselves a great deal. How is all the folks around Ogden? When you write, you must tell me all the news.

The boys are thinking that we shall be to home by July. I hope so for I want to get out of this regiment as soon as I can. If it was in any other regiment, I should like to serve my time out but never mind. When I enlist again, I’ll know it.

Give my love to Mrs. Webster. Remember me to Mrs. Chapman. Well, I will close with the hope of receiving a letter from you in a month from today.

Accept [this] from your friend, — S. J. Bachman

Directions: Sergt. S. J. Bachman, Co. F, 21st New York Cavalry, Colorado Territory

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