The following letter was written by John Hawn Boon (1842-1890), the son of Joseph Boon (1808-1850) and Ann Hawn (1811-1898). John enlisted as a private in Co. A, 24th New Jersey Infantry, and served from 30 August 1862 to 29 June 1863—a total of 9 months and 29 days. Muster records sometime record his name as “Boone.”
In the 1860 US Census, 18 year-old John was enumerated in Allowaystown, Salem County, New Jersey, working as an “apprentice farmer” for Ercurius Ayres, his father having passed away ten years earlier. By the 1870 US Census, John was married to Sarah E. Allen (1841-1922) and was farming for himself on Lower Alloways Creek in Salem county.
The service record for the 24th New Jersey claims they were at Camp Ingham on East Capital Hill till October 14. At Camp Nixon near Chain Bridge till October 18. Picketing Leesburg Road and fatigue duty at Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy till October 25. At Camp Cumberland till December 1. March to Falmouth, Va., December 1-9. Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15. At Camp Knight till January, 1863. At Camp Robertson till April 27. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Mustered out at Beverly, N. J., June 29, 1863. During the service 3 Officers and 46 Enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded and 53 Enlisted men by disease.
[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Greg Herr and was transcribed and published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
February 5, 1863
Dear brother and sister,
I received your letter night before last and I was glad to hear from you. Your letter found me in good health and this letter leaves me in good health and I hope it will find you and your family enjoying the same blessing.
Dear brother, this is a very stormy day, I tell you. It’s snowing here very hard and it is very cold. But I expect that it is colder at home than it is here. I am sitting in my tent with my shoes off and got my feet covered up with the blanket and I am quite comfortable. But this afternoon at two o’clock I have to go out on picket and that is a bad job, I tell you. Most every time that I am on picket, it storms. But I have got a pair of boots and they come up to my knees. I paid 8 dollars for them. It is cold, cold, stormy weather and in comes the old boulks [?] a drinking, but everything is lovely, “o’ the bridle and the saddle hangs on the shelf, and if you want any more, sing it yourself.” 1
Do you know the reason that I write with a pencil? If you don’t know, I will tell you. Well, the reason is the paper is so soft that I can’t write on it with a pen. So now you know the reason.
I got paid off the other day, twenty-six dollars, but I did not send any of it home nor I don’t lay out to.
Edward, I want you to tell me whether you get my letters or not. I would put postage stamps on them but I can’t get them. They are as scarce as hen teeth out here so you will have to pay for them. I would send some money home to get some stamps but I am afraid you won’t get the letter. So I think it better to not send any. So I guess that I will bring my letter to a close. I still remain your affectionate brother, — John H. Boon
to Edward Boon
Please write soon. Goodbye.
1 This line is from a popular folk song sometimes under the title, “Pompey is Dead and Laid in his Grave.”