Category Archives: 127th New York Infantry

1864: John Bally to Horace Swallow Reed

This letter was written by a Swiss emigrant named John Bally (1827-1902) who arrived in the United States in 1849. After his first wife Clara Dickson (1828-1859) died in 1859, John remarried to Harriet E, Marvin (1838-1911). In the 1850 US Census, John was enumerated in Oswego, New York, where he worked as a silversmith. By 1860 he had relocated to Deposit, New York, where he was identified as a “watchmaker” or a “jeweler.” John received his naturalization papers from the State of New York in April 1855.

When the Civil War began in 1861, John offered his services as a musician in the regimental band of the 41st New York Infantry. He served in the band from June 1861 until he was discharged on 7 October 1862 by order the War Department when it was determined that regimental bands were an unnecessary war expenditure. He later reenlisted as a musician in Co. A, 144th New York Infantry on 30 August 1864 and was mustered out on 25 June 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

John’s letter contains a very good description, recounted by those who survived it, of Gen. John P. Hatch’s Expedition up the Broad River on 29-30 November 1864 and specifically of the Battle of Honey Hill on the 30th. From Boyd’s Landing on the Broad River, Hatch’s forces—half of them Black troops–launched an attack on the railroad junction at Gopher Hill, 36 miles northeast of Savannah and 84 from Charleston. Due to delays in their arrival, Rebel forces anticipated their attack and were able to amass 1400 militia to join the South Carolina cavlary and artillerymen under Col. Charles Colcock in fixed fortifications at Honey Hill.

In a series of failed attacks on the rebel fortification that have since been attributed to the “irresolute leadership” of Gen. Hatch, the Union forces suffered 746 casualties. The first assault was made by the 35th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment up the Grahamville Road to Honey Hill. After they were repulsed, the 55th MA (Colored) regiment charged up the Grahamville Road to Honey Hill three times, each charge with 5 of 8 companies in field column. During the second assault, a supporting charge on their left flank by the 127th New York was orchestrated but all three of these charges were repulsed. Finally the 25th OVI charged unsupported on the Confederate rifle-pits north of Honey Hill and was also repulsed. Each assault was repulsed and defeated in detail as the Confederates were allowed to concentrate sequentially their fire on one Union attack at a time. Between and during these assaults, the front line Union regiments engaged the Confederate position with small arms fire. [Sources: The Battle of Honey Hill, by Lowell D. Hamilton, and Civil War Letters & Diary of Henry W. Prince, 127th New York State Volunteers]

Rebels delay the approach of Union forces with fire and bullets at Honey Hill

Death of John Bally

Elmira, N. Y., Sept. 19.–John Bally, senior member of the jewelry house of John Bally & Son, 330 E. Water St., was buried to-day. Mr. Bally’s death, which occurred Tuesday at his home, 311 Columbia St., was due to heart failure, superinduced by acute indigestion.

The deceased was a prominent citizen of this city as well as one of its oldest Jewelers. He was born in Geneva, Switzerland. July 16, 1827, and attended school and college in his native country. In early life he learned the trade of watchmaker, and when 21 years old he left Switzerland to seek his fortune in the United States.

He located first in New York, where he became employed as watchmaker by the old house of Ball, Black & Co., and shortly afterwards moved to Oswego, where he remained for about three years. During his stay in Oswego he married Miss Clara Dickinson, and later moved to Buckingham and finally to Deposit. In this last place he remained for 11 years, and during his stay there his wife died, and he subsequently married Miss Harriet Marvin.

Toward the latter part of the Civil War Mr. Bally joined the 144th New York Volunteers and served until 1865. After the war Mr. Bally moved to Elmira, which city was his home for the remainder of his life. The firm of John Bally & Son, of which Louis E. Bally, Jr., is a member, was the one interest to which the deceased devoted all his energy until he retired from business a short time ago. Besides being a practical jeweler and a successful merchant, Mr. Bally was also an artist of considerable ability.

The deceased was a Mason, was a member of the Patriarchs’ Club, and was one of the oldest members of the Park Church. He is survived by his seven children– four sons and three daughters.

Source: The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review – 24th September 1902

John wrote the letter to his friend Horace Swallow Reed (1824-1891), the proprietor of a marble works in Deposit, New York. Horace was married to Francis Elizabeth Hull (18xx-1907). In the 1860 US Census, Horace was identified as an hotel keeper in Dorset, Bennington county, Vermont, but ten years prior to that he was in the marble business.

Transcription

Addressed to H. S. Reed, Esq., Deposit, Delaware county, New York

Hilton Head, South Carolina
December 8th 1864

Mr. H. S. Reed
Dear Sir & Brother,

It is now almost four months since I left home and at this late date only have I at last made up my mind to write a few lines to you. The reason why I have not done so previously was not that I had forgotten you, far from it, as in almost all my letters to my wife I have sent you my compliments, but not having anything of interest to write, I thought I would wait and when something worth writing about should take place, I would then give you the news. Now that our regiment has broke up its long resting spell and that war in its ugly form has begun in earnest around us, then I thought that a few lines would be acceptable to you.

Last Monday a week ago, our regiment embarked aboard transports with other troops from Florida & Morris Island and some negro troops, among them the 26th Colored—the regiment in which our colored boys from Deposit are in and who were stationed at Beaufort S. C., about 10 miles from here. They started up Broad River with the intention of cutting off the railroad connecting Savannah with Charleston. After some severe blunders and considerable time lost, they effected a landing and after marching a few miles, met the enemy in force who gave them battle, and who, by the way, set a large marsh on fire so that our boys had to fight fire and bullets, saying nothing of shells which the rebel’s artillery threw away with great liberality.

The news that I give you I gathered from wounded brought here in the hospital, not having the pleasure of being a participant nor any eye witness, the Band having been left behind, to learn some new pieces and to guard the camp—-I do not know which, but here we are—and what I am writing about you, you must take it as I have but at the same time as all seemed to give the same story it must be near the truth.

“All who have come back to camp says without exception that the colored troops fought splendidly and that no better fighting was ever done. They made charge after charge to the mouth of them guns, but to no avail. But friend Reed, had you been here and saw the poor wounded when brought to the hospital, you might have found your blood taking fire—nay anxious—to go and avenge them.”

—John Bally, musician in 144th New York, 8 December 1864

On Tuesday and Wednesday our troops drove the Johnnies some four miles till they came upon strong breastworks, well defended with heavy artillery. They, not being sufficiently strong to carry them, they fell back to their starting point [with] our regiment—the 144th [New York Infantry], covering the retreat. All who have come back to camp says without exception that the colored troops fought splendidly and that no better fighting was ever done. They made charge after charge to the mouth of them guns, but to no avail. But friend Reed, had you been here and saw the poor wounded when brought to the hospital, you might have found your blood taking fire—nay anxious—to go and avenge them. For my part, I almost cursed my being in the band and thought it the place of a coward. But if I was not permitted to fight, I done the next [best] thing, and that was to volunteer in the hospital and take care of my poor brother soldiers.

During the engagement we could plainly hear the cannonading and every report would make me jump out of my boots, feeling so much anxiety for the result of the fight, knowing the small number of troops sent there and the facilities of the rebs in concentrating theirs. We lost, as near as I can find out, from 800 to 900 men. Our regiment lost about 88 killed, wounded & missing.

I told you our troops fell back to the landing under the protection of the gunboats and then entrenched themselves. Since, they have made several reconnaissance’s and the last news from the front who came here today is that by another road they have turned the rebs’ earthworks and have drove them to half mile from the railroad and now command the road. This was done Tuesday this week and today some heavy artillery is being sent to the front. A load of prisoners has just come up and judging from their appearance, the rebs must be pretty hard up. They are old men and boys from 14 to 16 years old.

In this last fight our forces were very lucky and had all the advantage. The Rebs left in our hands all their killed and wounded, things which they did not in the first fight. It seems that by that flank movement our artillery took them with an enfilading fire and mowed them down by the score. Today we are informed that Gen. Foster, who is in command of our troops, has received a message from Sherman, who is now near Savannah, and that movement against that railroad was—and is, without any doubt—to cut up reinforcements that Lee might send against him.

This afternoon for about two hours, a very heavy cannonading was distinctly heard in the direction of Savannah and we all think and hope that it is Sherman thundering at its gates. May God grant that it may be so. According to the appearances and judging from the amount of ordnance and ammunition sent to the front with the large number of entrenching tools, all go to show that Foster means to hold the position he has gained, and by that means cooperate with Sherman.

There is a bridge in that locality called the Pocotaligo bridge; that bridge is two miles long and a trestle work ten miles long over a large swamp. I do not now think the intention is to destroy it. If they can [just] hold it, it will be of great use in the future. I understand that our artillery knocked off a train of cars yesterday and that they do not run any more trains over it. But what I write about is only my opinion formed by what I gather around me and I give it to you for what its worth and not be be relied on any more than what you may read not officially though I think it pretty near the truth. I presume that the New York papers have heard from this quarter by this time and you will have chance to compare notes.

Our friend, Charles Ediely [?] was among the unlucky—or rather the lucky ones. He is wounded—a slight flesh would over the left shoulder enough to make him pretty mad but that will keep him in camp till after this execution is over. Told his father that he musn’t trouble himself about him. He is doin finely. Now Friend Reed, a few more words about myself. Here I am doing nothing, or rather doing no duty but what we volunteer to do. It is lonesome enough here since the regiment went away and aside from learning some new music, nothing for us to do. When the regiment was here, we had our hands full. But now, escorting dead soldiers to their last resting place constitutes our main business— rather lonesome one it is.

I have written to Ellicot Evans a good while ago to send me the Gen. Lyons Funeral March that our band at home used to play but I have not seen anything of it yet. I would give most anything for it. When you see him, please remember it to him, if you please. I am enjoying the best health in the world and as we Band are messing together, we have the best kind of rations and of course are benefitted by it. My quarters are very good. I have a good A tent with boards all around it and a good floor, have a little stove in it and am just as comfortable as can be. The weather here is delightful. It is warmer here than June at home and have had fire but twice in the evening so far. Mosquitos, flies, fleas, &c. are plenty here; butterflies are flying around us the whole day long and were it not for the leaves of the trees falling off of their own account, we would not dream that it is winter. I should like to settle in this country, but before I make up my mind I want to see what the summer will be.

I play in the Band the E6 Tenor in place of Eb Soprano and I would not change for anything. it is a good part and I can play the whole day long without getting tired. I hope to keep that part till we get through.

My wife sent me one of the last Deposit papers and in it I read the account of the burning of the railroad depot. I am very sorry of that misfortune and furthermore very sorry of the loss you have sustained in marble but I hope there is a remedy for you [paper torn] of course must be responsible for it. I hope that G. Smith & Stop [ ] are not fatally hurt, but they will get well.

Well, Friend Reed, the Elections are over and our old stand by Abe Lincoln reelected. It was a sad blow to the copperheads—at least we think so here by their twisting and mourning—but thanks be to God the country is not to be sacrificed just yet and according to appearances, the war seems to be pretty well going the last pull. Could you but see the men they have to fight with, you would think so. Well, how does the time with you? Full of worry I suppose. Jack Batchelder with you yet? And our old band? What has become of it? out of existence? It must be so as I have not heard it mentioned in this last campaign but saw that bands from abroad were employed a home. I wish you could hear our band place. I tell you, we made it ring and can stand a long pull to play 15 or 20 pieces with considerable marching is nothing for [us] and do not mind it.

Do you go once in awhile over the river and see my lonely little wife. If not, I must scold at you and make it up. I would be very much pleased to have you tell me how you think she is getting along and if you think my absence was for the worst or better for her. I hope that your dear family is all well. I would like to be remembered to your wife and her Mother. Assure them that I shall never forget them but think of the good times we have had together very often and live in hope that after a few months, we will be permitted to enjoy the same blessing again.

How is the Lodge prospering. When you get this letter, it will be election time. Hope you will have a good lot of officers. I wish you would give my best respects to the brethren and tell them that when Wednesday night comes, I often think of our pleasant meetings and often wish I could be there with them. Remember me in particular to Mr. Hadley & Croker. Is the Chapter lodge organized yet? Give me some of the news there. I was forgetting your children. Please remember me to them. I will stop writing for the present as the mail boat will not leave here till sometime next week and probably before that time events of importance may take place that will interest you. I was alone tonight and felt just like having a long chat with you and I think I have improved it pretty well. So good night for the present, and pleasant dreams. For my part, I must turn in and try to dream of my loved ones at home.

Monday the 11th, ’64

There is an extra mail boat starting tomorrow and having good news now I finish this letter today. A Captain with 6 scouts has just come here and announced the arrival of Sherman at Savannah with his army. They say he must have possession of the place by this time. A salute his being fired here and some gunboats & monitors are starting for Savannah. Please tell my wife that I have received yesterday 3 letters—one from our children, one from Emiline, and one from Elliott Evans. The Fulton—the regular steamer—will be here soon and I will write home by it. This time I send her only one newspaper—the Palmetto Herald. Tell her I am well and send her my love. Now Friend Reed, I hope to hear from you. Give my best regard to Mrs. Reed and Mother and your children. As for yourself, take the lion’s share. In hope that this may reach you alright, I remain fraternally yours, — John Bally

1861-63: Dexter E. Buell Letters, 27th NYS Vols

I could not find an image of Dexter but here is a cdv of Alfred Keesler who served with Dexter in the same company. (Photo Sleuth)

These letters were written by Dexter E. Buell (1842-1923), the youngest son of Samuel Buell (1782-1850) and Polly Dunham (1787-1872) of Lyons, Wayne county, New York. Eighteen year-old Dexter enlisted as a private on 5 July 1861 to serve two years in Co. B, 27th New York Infantry. He survived the war and mustered out with his company at Elmira on 31 May 1863. His service record indicates he participated in the battles of 1st Bull Run, West Point, Seven Days before Richmond, Crampton’s Gap, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

Three months after he was discharged from the 27th New York Infantry, Dexter enlisted a second time. This time he enlisted in Co. C, 14th New York Heavy Artillery for a term of three years. He was prematurely discharged from that regiment in June 1864 by order of the War Department on account of a disability. He was released from the Philadelphia South Street Hospital.

Dexter married Laura Ann Hitchcock (1846-1900) in July 1865 and earned his living as a house painter in Lyons, New York, after the war. [Dexter’s son Edward’s biographical sketch claims his father “was a grainer in wood by occupation” and that he “served valiantly with the 27th Regiment” and “on his second enlistment with the 109th Heavy Artillery” taking part in “27 engagements and received wounds in battle.”]

In 1874, Dexter captured his memories of his service by publishing a book entitled, “A brief history of Company B, 27th regiment N.Y. volunteers, its organization and the part it took in the war.” It was printed at the Office of the Republican in Lyons and consisted on only 22 pages (sadly, no pictures). I will supplement any gaps in the records or footnote details from this book to aid the reader in gaining a more comprehensive understanding. The first excerpt I will transcribe comes from his description of the Battle of Bull Run since no letter exists connected with it.

Some of these letters are addressed to the “the folks” at home and some are addressed to his friend Robert Pollock Allee whose younger brother Edward served in the same company with Dexter until he was mortally wounded in the fighting at Gaines’ Mills. Robert’s younger brother Andrew Allee (1844-1895) later served with Dexter in the 14th New York Heavy Artillery. Yet another brother, George Allee, served in Co. C, 160th New York Infantry.


Extracts from Dexter’s book:

“The regiment was supplied with arms, &c. and left the State on the 10th of July, 1861, for Washington, via Harrisburgh and Baltimore. On its arrival in Washington the regiment was quartered in barracks on Franklin Square, where the boys remained for a few days only. A movement against the enemy was then under discussion, and the officers sought an interview with the War Department, with a view to having the regiment assigned to the field. This request was granted, and on the 17th day of July it took up its line of march from Washington, as part of the First Brigade (Col. Porter) and Second Division (Gen. Hunter). It reached Anandale on the evening of the 17th, and Fairfax Court House on the 18th, where a line of battle was formed, and the Rebs, driven from their rifle pits. On the 27th it reached the town, and pulled down an old Secesh flag that was floating on one of the rifle pits. The regiment bivouacked here for the night, the men, being hungry and tired after the day’s march, took their muskets and went out after some fresh meat. Some of the boys succeeded in bring in a fine steer, and some came in with turkeys, some with chickens, some with honey, has, sugar, &c. A large fore was kindled, and the boys resolved they would have a ‘square meal’—and so they did, that night.

At an early hour next morning the regiment was on the move. It reached Centreville in due time; after leaving which place it reached the Nine Mile Woods, where Company B was ordered out to deploy as skirmishers—and they did well, being their first trial. For nine miles the company scoured the woods. Every few minutes the bugle would sound to rally. The day was one of the hottest I ever remember. When the sun sank out of sight, and the whippowill commenced his evening song, the regiment halted for the night; and so ends the day.

On Sunday morning, July 21st, 1861, the booming of cannon was heard in the distance. As our brave boys marched along through field and woods o that memorable Bull run day, the water in their canteens gave out before reaching the field of action. Espying two porkers in a puddle of water near the roadside, they were summarily driven out; and the boys commenced to drink hastily of the vile fluid to quench their thirst. The water was stagnant, and made the boys vomit almost immediately. Some of them went here and there, with canteens to be filled.

As the 27th was going into action, the opposing force attempted to deceive it by displaying the Old Flag. Col. Slocum was distrustful, and directed Adjutant [John P.] Jenkins to ascertain whether they were friends or enemies. With a havelock on the point of his sword as a flag of truce, the Adjutant rode toward the commanding officer to make the necessary inquiry; but before he reached him, the Stars and Stripes were displaced by the South Carolina banner. The line of battle was formed and a fire opened on the 27th, which was promptly and vigorously returned. The Adjutant, thus unexpectedly placed between two fires, had a miraculous escape. The attempted deception so exasperated the regiment that the men fought like heroes and utterly routed their tricky foes.

Our next encounter was with the 27th Virginia, which fell back in confusion. We then met the 8th Georgia, which fell back until reinforced, when the regiment was in turn repulsed and took refuge under a hill. It was soon after ordered to charge a battery stationed on a knoll, and the oys moved to the work under a heavy fire, which soon told with fearful effect upon the ranks of the regiment. Col. Slocum was wounded; the color-guard was reduced from nine to two; and the movement was abandoned. Company B was then ordered to charge upon an old log house which stood near by, containing a number of the enemy’s sharp-shooters. Before reaching the house the Rebs was seen getting to the rear as fast as they could, but the boys sent a volley of balls after them and made them ‘climb’ still faster. Reaching the house, the door was instantly burst in, and before us stood one of the largest bloodhounds I ever saw—with bloodshot eyes and hungry jaws. He turned to attack his Yankee foes. One of the boys gave him a bayonet thrust. He leaped forward and broke the chain that held him, and away he went toward the enemy—between two fires. Whether the dog ever reached his master, no one knows.

The regiment fell back and joined the regiment; and Col. Slocum being wounded, Major Bartlett succeeded to the command. Major B. kept the regiment well in hand; and as it formed in line of battle for the last time, I think it was joined by the 14th (Brooklyn) commanded by Col. Wood. Other regiments joined on, but the Rebel forces coming upon and overwhelming us, our forces fell back to the rear where the confusion attending the retreat broke it up, as was the case with other regiments actively engaged in the battle. Portions of the regiment reached Fort Corcoran about nine o’clock on the 22nd, and at noon, was partially reorganized and marched to Camp Anderson, Franklin’s Square.

The regiment remained in Washington until sometime in September when it was assigned to Gen. Slocum’s Brigade with the 16th N. Y. of Gen. Franklin’s Division, moved to the site of Fort Lyon, where it went into camp and was engaged in the construction of this fort during the fall of 1861…”

New York’s Bravest” by Don Troiani

The following summary comes from the website FirstBullRun.Co.UK:

FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN, 21 JULY, 1861

The 27th New York Infantry was stationed at B D Utterback’s/ Willow Spring farm, two miles east of Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia, in the morning on 21 July, 1861.

Advance to Sudley Ford, on the Bull Run River, 21 July, 1861: The 27th New York Infantry was ordered to Sudley Ford, on the Bull Run River, at 2 AM on 21 July, 1861.

Advance to J Dogan’s or Rosefield, on Dogan’s Ridge, half a mile northeast of Groveton, Prince Willaim County, Virginia, 21 July, 1861: The 27th New York Infantry was ordered across Sudley Spring’s Ford, on Catharpin Run, to northeast of J Dogan’s or Rosefield, on Dogan’s Ridge, half a mile northeast of Groveton, Prince Willaim County, Virginia, in the morning on 21 July, 1861.

Advance to Buck Hill, north of Young’s Branch, one mile west of the Stone Bridge, on the Bull Run River, 21 July, 1861: The 27th New York Infantry was ordered to Buck Hill, north of Young’s Branch, one mile west of the Stone Bridge, on the Bull Run River, in the afternoon on 21 July, 1861.

NoteColonel H W Slocum, 27th New York Infantry, was wounded on Buck Hill, north of Young’s Branch, one mile west of the Stone Bridge, on the Bull Run River, in the afternoon on 21 July, 1861.

Withdrawal to Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia, 21 July, 1861: The 27th New York Infantry was ordered to B D Utterback’s/ Willow Spring farm, two miles east of Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia, at 4 PM on 21 July, 1861.


Skirmishing near Munson’s Hill

Letter 1

Camp Vernon
Alexandria, [Virginia]
September 7, 1861

I now take my pen to write you a few lines. I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you are all well. I just come in from guard. The Boys started this morning for Munson’s Hill a little ways from here to build a fort. We are now in Gen. Slocum’s Brigade. You need not to be scared for Washington will never be taken. There are forts every little ways around here. This fort we are building is on top of a high hill so you can see all around for some miles. But one thing, we can see the enemy from there. They are throwing up breastworks close to Bailey’s Cross Roads. They say they are so near us they will have to come on or retreat back out of the state for they have not got provisions enough to keep them. An attack is daily expected.

One of our company went out and fetched in 4 negroes prisoners and 3 horses. They were either spies or scouts but we got them now tight as a brick. we will keep them awhile, I guess. Our pickets has been in sight of their camp. They are coming on closer all the time but they must not get in range of the rifle cannon on Fort Ellsworth. I have worked in the fort for give days now. Six goes at a time. They are detailed to work so long. It is a strong fort.

Well, [Melvin W.] Goodrich 1 is here and the Capt. all safe and sound. I wish you can send me some new postage stamps. We get our pay next week. We get about 22 dollars. I will send it home or get a draft and send. Send a few new stamps if you can and I will get some when we get our pay. We may probably see a battle in less than two days. They will put us in ahead of all the regiments because we know something about it.

Write as soon as you get this. No more for the present.

Ed, please give this to my folks. — D. Buell

1 Melvin W. Goodrich, 27 years old, was also from Lyons, New York. He enlisted on 2 May 1861 and was made 1st Sergeant of Co. B. He later received a commission as 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant.


Letter 2

“The regiment spent the winter in Camp Franklin. Fort Lyons was built by Slocum’s Brigade in the fall of 1861; ad later in that fall the regiment moved its camp to a site near Fairfax Seminary, toward the southeast—its former quarters near Hunting Creek having proved unhealthy—the new location was named Camp Franklin. here the regiment spent the winter of 1861-62, during which time the boys were occupied in building Fort Lyon, doing picket duty, and chopping wood from the Heights where now stands the fort. The regiment was very comfortably situated in winter quarters here. It was during this time that the 27th was assigned to the Second Brigade (Slocum’s) of General Franklin’s Division. This brigade was composed of the 27th and 16th New York, the 5th Maine, and the 96th Pennsylvania.”

Camp Franklin
November 30th 1861

Friend Robert,

I received your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you and hope to say you are well. It snowed a very little here yesterday but it melted as fast as it struck the ground. I would like to be home to go a skating with the boys this winter but I can’t as I see so there is no use of talking. I don’t care much anyway. The boys have first rate times here. We like it good. We may all of us be home in a little while. We have not had any cold weather much—about 6 or 7 frosts and that hain’t nothing to what it is up there you know.

Bob, I will send my money to you next time we get pay and let you keep it until I come home. Bob, you must excuse this writing and all mistakes because I write this before we go on dress parade. I suppose you know that we have dress parade in the morning instead of night. They have changed the times.

Our camp [is] situated near the woods so the boys don’t have far to go after their wood nights and mornings. We are about two miles from Alexandria—just a good walk. The boys all take their turns in going down to the city. Alexandria is quite a large place—about 14 thousand people there before the war broke out. Now they are about 9 thousand. I have been all over the city a dozen times if not more. Scott’s Band are improving on playing every day. Bib, I wish you would let me know who them new recruits are that is coming.

After Dress Parade. Now Bob, I will take my time in writing. The boys are all well. I suppose you know Bill Swelling. He is coming home. [partial letter]


Letter 3

Camp Franklin
Sunday, December 29, 1861

Friend Bob,

I now take the pleasure of writing you a few lines. Your letter came and I was glad to hear from you. I have been sick for about a week so that I could do nothing. This is the first letter I have wrote since I have got around. All of the boys have gone down to a funeral with Company G. One of their number is dead and our boys went down with them. Tell Henry Alford that I will answer his long letter just as soon as I can. We can’t get any postage stamps down in this region to send letters by. You must excuse me for not writing before for I could not sit up long enough to write to you. Tell Hank that Theodore Klumpp has got up here from the hospital. He has had a tough time of it I guess by what he said. He looks very pale yet. The doctor was going to take me to the hospital. I told him I guess I could stand it and so I did. You must excuse this writing for I don’t feel much like writing yet.

You can’t get nothing fit for a dog to eat down here unless you buy it yourself and a fellow must have something. Bob, I will tell you what we had for Christmas. We had some old boiled beans and some rotten pork as the boys call it, and coffee and some bread. That was Christmas. And for New Years I guess the same—maybe not so good. Bob, I could go out in the woods and live on rots and wild meat. I don’t think it would trouble me the least bit, There is lots of rabbits down here but they won’t let us go hunting.

We hain’t had any snow here yet. As soon as there comes some, you will see this chick shoulder his rifle and make for the wood. You will scare two or three out of the brush pile at a time. We have got a good hound dog here. Some of the boys stole [him] when we was out on picket guard. He is a good dog, I guess. He follows me to the woods most every night. But as soon as there comes 2 inches of snow so he can track them, I will have some fun. I am going to get a rabbit for New Years if I can and am well enough to get around. I will make a good dinner out of one if I catch him.

The boys have just returned from Alexandria from the funeral. I do not know what his name was. Bob, I am getting most tired of writing and not knowing what to write. If you will send me two or three postage stamps, I will pay you for them. I hain’t any stamp to send this by and so I will have to borrow one somewhere. Stamps are a scarce article down here in these parts. Tell Hank I will send him a government overcoat home in a little while. United States coat—they are a nice warm coat, I will send it in about a month. Me and Jones has got 4 coats—one for Jack Cosart. Tell Hank to sell one for Jack when we go west. Jones wants to come everyday. Bob, I must close. So goodbye and I still remain your sincere friend, — Dexter Buell

Alexandria, Va.

Write soon. Goodbye.


Letter 4

Camp Franklin
February 8th 1862

Dear folks,

I thought I would write you a few lines letting you know how I am getting along. I suppose you have received my likeness by this time. Write and let me know.

The weather down here is very curious. The mud keeps just so deep all the while—that is, about five inches deep all the while. We don’t know when we will have another battle but I hope we will have one soon and end the matter at once. Virginia ia a very unhealthy place. The water we drink down here makes all of the boys have the dysentery very bad. The water we drink is about like the canal water up there, That is the honest truth. I have not seen any good water in Virginia since I have been here. There is no wells down around here as I have seen in all the drilling we do.

Lt. William H. Swan

We go out a target shooting. The boys are all getting to be good marksmen. We shoot the distance of 300 yards. The mark is about the size of a small cup. The target had 29 balls put through it but none hit the mark. Lieut. [William H.] Swan said he would make the first man a present that hit the small piece of leather in the center of the target. I told him that I could hit it [and] I would bet on it, and so I loaded up my rifle and pulled up the 300 yard sight and got down on one knee and rested and took good sight and shot. All of the boys said they seen the target wiggle. One of them went and looked. He said the ball went in the center of the leather and the boys begun [to] look at me [as if] they did not know what to make of it. But they all give up that they could not hit [the target]. I have not got the present yet. I don’t know what it is. It was all in practice that I hit the mark. The boys are learning the bayonet exercise to protect cavalry from coming up too near you. Take two men that understands it, they can whip six cavalrymen.

I must begin to close. So no more at present. From—Dexter Buell

Alexandria, Virginia


Letter 5

Camp Franklin
Sunday, February 10, 1862

Friend Bob,

I received your letter yesterday and I thought I would answer it today being I just came off from guard and nothing else to do. You say there is good sleighing up there. Well the mud down here is about five to six inches deep, That is the kind of sleighing down here. The going is awful bad, The wagons get stuck in the mud up to the hubs. Every little ways you can see a wagon stuck fast. I will tell you how it is down here. If you stand too long in one place, when you start to go, you will find yourself fast in the mud. I have had my boots pulled off more than once in this mud. The soil is all clay down here.

Bob, soldiering is about played out most. Bob, about the money, I think some of coming home but I don’t know certain yet. The water we drink down here is just about like the canal water up there. That is so—no joking. If I don’t come home next month, I will send you as nigh $26. I will try and get them in Treasury notes if you think that will be the best, If not, I will try and get the gold. I would like to have been at home this winter to have enjoyed the sport of skating and hunting with Hank and the rest of the boys. How does Hank get along? Tell him to write. How does Jack Cosart get along? Tell him to write once in awhile.

I suppose you have heard before this time that Fort Henry was taken and Lloyd Tilghman and staff and sixty others taken prisoners. Our army is slow but sure every time.

Ask Hank how many minks he caught this winter. Ask him if he wants to chop wood for Ira Mirrick again. Tell him, me and Frank Hicox has a laugh over that every little while. Bib, I must close so goodbye for this time and I remain your friend, — Dexter Buell

Write soon.

N. B. Tell Hank to write. Yours, — D. B.


Letter 6

Camp Clara
Friday, February 28, 1862

Dear Folks,

I now take the pleasure to write you a few lines hope to say your are well. If I should tell you the news we have had, what would you think? Well I will. So here goes.

We are to march for Bulls Run. The whole Army of the Potomac—300,000 men—for a bloody fight. We start next week Tuesday about the time you get this letter. You must not answer this until I write again and I hope I will if I am not shot.

The railroad is stopped from carrying army news until after this fight. Probably this is my last letter. I am on guard today over to headquarters. The boys have got their knapsacks already packed, ready at a moment’s warning. If you write, I will get no answer until after the battle.

I must close by saying goodbye to you all and everyone. Give my best to them all when you write. So goodbye. From — Dexter Buell


Letter 7

Fairfax Court House
March 12, 1862

Dear Folks,

I now take the pleasure of writing a few lines while I have got time. There is over 80,000 troops here. Centreville is evacuated and so is Manassas. Our troops occupy the old battleground where we was before. We are going to chase them as far as they can go. There is a large body of cavalry and infantry after the flying Rebels. They have blown up their powder magazines and their entrenchments and burnt all the bridges. We will have Richmond is less than a week.

Gen. McClellan has been to Manassas and gone back to Washington. We talk of going back to camp and take the boat and go down the river to help Gen. Burnside. He has got Norfolk. There is 300,000 men on the march after the Rebels. They fled from their strongholds and have destroyed everything. We took a few prisoners here yesterday.

You must not write until I tell you because I won’t get the letter. We don’t expect to be here only today. I will write in a few days. This is the largest army ever had been known, so they say. Melvin Goodrich sends his best respects.

Just as I am writing, there starts three regiments of cavalry on to Richmond and a large body of infantry and artillery. I must close. Yours in haste. From, — Dexter Buell

Fairfax Court House


Letter 8

Camp Clara
Friday, March 21, 1863

Dear Folks,

I sit down once more to write you before going down the Potomac. Our Division expects to go Tuesday next week. I wrote to Eliza and told her to write to you about my going down the river. I though I would write before going. I could not begin to tell you the march we had for the past few days. We went to Fairfax Court House 16 miles. We started to go to Manassas but the Rebels, they all run.

There is five divisions going down the river. That is about 70,000 soldiers. We are going to make an attack on Richmond. Our regiment went up to the Seminary to serenade Major Gen. McClellan. He did not make any speech because he was thrown from his horse the other day. Yesterday we hd a Grand Review. Gen. McClellan reviewed us.

We don’t get no pay until the first of May. They are paying off the Western troops so we have got to wait. Mell [Melvin] Goodrich wants to know what the reason is you don’t write to him. When you write, direct to Adjutant, 27th Regt.

We live on hard crackers now instead of bread. You have to stomp them with the heal of your shoe about two hours before you can break it. Then pick them up and eat them. We are going to send some home to build side walks with. They will make a good store walk.

I have not had any letter from you in a month. Why don’t you write oftener?

To close with, I will tell you that I shook hands with Gen. McClellan and the other boys did [too] the night we serenaded him. His headquarters is in our Division. I must close so goodbye. Write soon as you get this, before we go.

— Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th Regt.


Letter 9

Camp Five Miles from Richmond
May 15th 1862

Dear Folks,

I received your letter yesterday and was glad to get it. Have you received the $10 I sent? Next time you write, let me know.

We just came off from picket today. The Rebels are a fighting amongst themselves. We brought in two prisoners tonight. They state they are a fighting amongst themselves every day. You must excuse this writing and all of the mistakes. I write this on the top of my hat so you can judge my writing desk. There is nothing new much. Richmond is going to be taken by siege. All of the foreign generals say his plan can’t fail.

Mell [Melvin] Goodrich is well and playing with the boys as much as ever. We are drilling the bayonet exercise twice a day. We have got to drill until it is perfect—a very nice drill it is—so we can just show the whole of them how to drill with the bayonet. I have been studying on it all last winter. I know the [drill] perfect myself. I have to drill the company and the ret look on. The boys all learn very fast. If we live to come home, we will show you the nicest drill you ever saw or anyone else. Our company has only drilled a few times. We can beat any of hem now. There can’t no cavalry ever do nothing with us. We can whip all the cavalry in the South. One man well drilled can whip three cavalry—that’s so.

They say you are going to have lots of peaches this year. The trees down here are loaded with them.

George B. McClellan says he ain’t going to be in any hurry about the fight. The Rebs were on one side of he Chickahominy Creek and we on the other. They are out of reach of our rifles here but not of our 100 pounder siege guns which throw their load over there in the size of a wash tub which makes them scratch dirt pretty fast.

I must close so goodbye. Write soon. — Dexter Buell


The following letter describes the fight at Gaines Mills which took place on 27 June 1862. It then describes the next several days until the regiment arrived at Harrison’s Landing on the James River. In his book, Dexter describes the Battle of Gaines Mills as follows:

Joseph Seavey—one of the boys from Co. B who lost his life in the fight at Gaines’ Mills.

“The regiment crossed the Chickahominy about the 26th of June, at about 3 p.m., went into action about 5 p.m. on the extreme right of Porter’s Corps, drove the enemy from his position by a bayonet charge, and captured a large number of prisoners. It held its position until dark, when, after after expending all its ammunition, it was ordered to retire. It was here, in the battle of Gaines’ Mills, that Company B lost heavily, losing some of its best members—21 in all, killed, wounded and missing. Poor Bill McElwain, Edward Allee, Joseph Seavey—as long as there is a history, so long will their names be remembered at home by their loved ones. The battle being fought, our forces retired from the field, Captain White badly wounded. The regiment recrossed the river ad went into camp. All that night and until next morning the wounded kept coming in….Early the next morning the bridge over the river was blown up; then commenced the retreat of the Army of the Potomac.”

Letter 10

Camp on the James River near City Point
30 miles from Richmond
July 6, 1862

Dear Folks,

I now take the pleasure of writing you a few lines in a hurry. I suppose you have heard of our fight with the Rebels. In our company there was one killed and 21 wounded. The captain is wounded. Billy McElwain badly wounded in the leg—the leg is broken, and Ed Allee in the leg, not broken. I can’t begin to tell you how many more. Half of them taken prisoners. The name of the one that was killed is Joseph Seavey. We all miss him very much. There was a shell came so close to Melvin Goodrich’s head that set him crazy. He is on the way home. Our Major is the same way. 1 All we got left is our Colonel. I suppose you will get the news before this reaches you.

I got a piece of a shell hit me in the leg but I don’t call that anything. Our regiment made a good charge on the rebels and drove them. I will write you more about the fight some other time. We are to work on a fort near the river. It is going to be a large fort. The[re are] gunboats here in the river—the Monitor and two or three others. We have had quite a time retreating back to the river. Our division was the rear guard of the whole army. We had to fight daytimes and march in the night. We had a tough time of it, I tell you. I must close for this time. I will write more next time. So goodbye.

From Dexter Buell. Co. B, 27th Regt., Franklin’s Division

I see Gen. McClellan most every day. Write soon. I got them postage stamps all right. Send more if you can.

1 For great articles on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, see “Did Civil War Soldiers Have PTSD” by Tony Horwitz, Smithsonian Magazine; or PTSD and the American Civil War, National Museum of Civil War Medicine; or Dying to Get Home: PTSD in the Civil War, by Kevin L. Cook, Warfare History Newtork; or The Shock of War by Ron Soodalter, HistoryNet.


Letter 11

Camp on the James River near (one mile from) Harrison’s Landing
July 16th 1862

Dear Folks,

I now sit down to write a few lines. I expect you have received my letter before this time. I received your letter dated the 9th while I was on picket yesterday. I suppose you have learned the name of the wounded boys in our company by this time. There was 23 in all—one killed on the field. Captain [Henry R.] White was wounded but not dangerously. Billy McElwain 1 and Edward Allee 2 stood side by side in the front rank. The ball passed through Billy’s leg and hit Ed Allee’s leg. Ed’s leg is not broken, so they say. Our regiment made a charge on the enemy and drove them some distance, but finding the enemy too strong for us, we had to fall back. They outnumbered us three to one. What chance did we have? But we fought like tigers while we did fight. The only wound I got was in my leg by a little piece of a shell. It did not hurt me any. I do not call that anything. I took my knife and cut it out so you see I am alright. I’m just as sound as a brick. I did not tell anyone of it or else my name would be among the wounded. I knowed it would make you worry about me so I did not let anyone know it.

When we were going into the battle field—just this side of it—I stooped and got a drink of water and got some in my canteen. I started after the regiment and they was gone out of my sight. It was an awful warm day. I could not find them. I came across Lafe Sherman 3, one of our boys, so we went together. There is so many different regiments, they did not anyone know about our regiment so on we went. We come to the Duryée’s Zouaves and the enemy was close by. We laid on our bellies and fired some ten rounds of cartridges and the enemy came out and put a Black flag in front of the Zouaves—that is the sign they show no mercy—so the Zouaves made a charge on them and took the flag away from them.

This painting shows Duryee’s Zouaves, the 5th New York regiment, charging into the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in 1862, where they and other Union forces were defeated.

There was a battle of artillery just ahead pouring in grape and canister into the enemy. Out come a whole brigade of Rebs charging towards this battery close to where I laid. [Then] up jumped a whole brigade of the Vermont Boys and into them. We sent them back quicker than they came. Oh! it was dreadful to hear the dying groan and the roar of the cannon and a continual roar of musketry all the whole time. I can’t begin to tell you all about it.

After I had been in awhile, I did not care for anything. The enemy commenced to flank us so we had to fall back. When we got off the field, we met the Irish Brigade coming in on double quick, hollering just as loud as they could holler. After that night we had to fight day times and march nights for nearly seven days. I went and so did the rest, without any meat to eat for five days I ate one or two hard crackers at a time and drink a little water so you can judge for yourself how we felt. One night [at Charles City Cross Roads] the Rebels had our division surrounded. We were the rear guard. They had us in just about the shape of a horse shoe so when they fired at us, they would kill their own men. If it had not been for General Kearny, we would all have been taken prisoners. He cut the center of them and made them fall back. Our division kept up a continual roar of cannon. We had eighteen pieces with us. We drove them away from their guns as they could not fire a shot and at dark we got out safe. So you see just how nigh we came from the Rebs that night.

1 William (“Billy”) McElwain died of his wounds on 2 July 1862.

2 Edward Allee died of his wounds on 29 July 1862.

3 Lafayette (“Lafe”) Sherman was later captured in the Battle of Fredericksburg but was paroled and survived the war.


Letter 12

Camp on the James River near Harrison’s Landing
August 5th 1862

Edward Allee, mortally wounded at Gaines’ Mills

Friend Robert.

The news just reached us that your brother Ed [Allee] died at the hospital in Baltimore. We can’t hardly believe it but Lieut. Swan got a letter from a surgeon there in that city.

Bob, is it true? The boys don’t know what to make of it. If it is so, it is enough to make us crazy. I ca’t write you—can’t express my feelings, if so.

We are expected to have a battle in less than 24 hours. We can’t tell who will fall next. There has been awful heavy cannonading this morning. It has just stopped. No more this time.

Friend Bob, please write soon. I remain your friend, — Dexter Buell


Letter 13

Camp two miles from Alexandria near old Camp Clara
September 4, 1862

Dear Folks,

We have just come to our old campground & received your letter and the postage stamps. I was glad to get them, you may believe.

We have had a very tough time of it for the past three months. We have just come from Centreville. We did not get there soon enough to have a hand in the fight but I will tell you what we did. We saved Gen. Pope’s Army from being cut [up] and captured—everyone of them. Just our division did it. I will tell you how we done it. Your regiment was on the right of the Brigade and our Brigade on the right of the Division. When we came within two miles of the battlefield, there was a panic got among the wounded and that scared all of the rest and the retreat became general—every man for himself. It certainly would have been another Bull Run. The battle was fought on the same ground

When the Rebel cavalry made a charge, we was there just in time. Our regiment tried to stop the stragglers who was running for their lives but we could not—there was such a panic. Our artillery came up just in time. When the Rebs came charging down the road, went sent the grape and canister into them so thick and fast, what was left of them turned and run like deers and our Division covered the retreat of Pope’s Army and we fell back to Centreville. While we laid there, the Rebs got in the rear of us. [But] Gen. Kearny’s Division whipped them and drove them a mile and a half and the same night each man in our regiment took sixty rounds of cartridges expecting to have them to make a dash on us but they did not.

The army wagons laid in the ditches turned bottom side up, all broke to pieces and the dead horses laid all in the roads. Everything was destroyed. I would fill five sheets of paper to tell you all.

We don’t know how long we are going to stay here. We expect to get our pay soon. I must close for this time. I will write you more next time. Don’t forget to answer. Goodbye. Send some more stamps and I will send the money.

— Dexter Buell, Co. B 27th Regt. N. Y. S. Vol. P. S. Direct as usual. If you want to find out any more, you might as k Hattie.


Letter 14

Headquarters 27th Regiment N. Y. S. Vols
Camp near Harper’s Ferry
September 19, 1862

Dear Folks,

I now hasten to write you a few lines. Perhaps you have received the letter I wrote the other day on Sunday last, the 14th of September. We were engaged in a battle at Stranton’s Gap [Cranston’s Gap]. Our regiment deployed as skirmishers and went within 500 yards of the enemy’s cannons and all the while the enemy kept firing shell and canister at us and on we went and we halted in the center of a large field and the word came “Foreward!” On we went. On came the enemy shells close to our heads. We came so close to the Rebel battery we silenced it with our rifles. We whipped them nicely and took about 2,000 prisoners. They were all Georgians. They belonged to Cobb’s forces where we whipped them.

The fighting in David Miller’s Cornfield

The next day we took up our march for another battle. When we got there, we found out that Gen. Burnside’s Corps was engaged with the enemy and just as we came near the field, Gen. Sumner’s Corps went in and Gen. Franklin’s Corps was a reserve. We did not have to go in the battle. We went in a cornfield and halted. That cornfield was charged over five different times—the Rebs two and our forces three times. We drove from the field when they commenced to run. Our artillery poured the grape and canister into them and piled them in heaps. I counted 64 in a space not over three rods [including] one Colonel and one Major. That was the awfullest looking sight I ever saw. It was the largest battle I think that has been fought. The Rebs lost easy three to one in that cornfield.

We slept all night among the dead. You could hear them groan—the dying—all night long. It was an awful sight, I tell you. 1

We have now driven the enemy out of Maryland across the river into Virginia and expect we have got to take another trip towards Richmond. I lost all of my postage stamps in the battle on Sunday. We hain’t been paid yet. Please send one next time when you write and write soon. So goodbye.

Truly yours, — Dexter Buell, Company B, 27th Regiment Y. Y. Vol

Write soon.

1 46 year-old George A. Cook, a musician in Co. G, 27th New York Infantry, recorded in his diary that the regiment slept on the battlefield and worked all night “carrying off wounded—our men and Rebbels. Expect to fight again today [18th]. 10 o’clock a.m. Both parties burying their dead.” George was mustered out of the regiment on 18 October 1862.


The next three letters were written from the encampment of the 27th New York near Bakersville, Maryland—“an historic rural crossroads community located where one of the earliest east–west roads through western Maryland crossed the main north–south road from the Sharpsburg area. The region known as Carey’s Crossroads for a then prominent landowner George Carey, had become central to the mostly German settlement taking place in southeast Washington County during the mid to late 18th century…Bakersville was once home to a store, post office, doctor’s office and grist mill. 19th century census records list many C&O Canal workers and boatmen in the village and surrounding area.” [Wikipedia]

Letter 15

Camp near Bakersville, Maryland
October 13th 1862

Dear Folks,

I received your letter while I was on picket guard so I could not answer it until we came in. I was glad to hear you were well. We have not been paid off yet and they hain’t any signs of it. We was so close to the Rebels while on picket, we would talk with each other—they on one side of the river and we on the other. They would come half way cross and one of our boys go half way and meet on a little island in the middle of the river and talk and exchange tobacco and knives and other articles. They think they are a going to whip us. One of our boys told them we would them or die a trying—everyone of us.

They say we hain’t going into winter quarters this season. The boys will freeze to death in their little tents without any blankets to cover them. I have not had a shirt on my back in over a month. The weather is growing cold down here. We are the raggedest set of boys you ever see. Most of the boys hain’t got no shoes but we are a going to draw some in a few days. We are worse off than the Rebs are, I think.

Colonel Adams is elected as colonel of the regiment. Bartlett is general. When you write, send me a postage stamp. I must close for this time so goodbye.

— Dexter Buell, Comp. B, 27th N. Y. S. Vol.

Write soon and don’t forget.

P. S. I received a letter from Eliza today.


Letter 16

Camp near Bakersville, Maryland
October 18th 1862

Friend Robert [Allee],

As I have nothing to do for a few minutes, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know how we are getting along. We just came off from picket guard day before yesterday. Bob, I will tell you just how close the Rebel pickets were to us. We were stationed almost within a stone throw of each other. We were on one side of the river and the enemy on the other—the river being about as large as the Clyde river at Lyons, and there was a canal close to the river called the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We was stationed of a high bluff about three hundred feel above the river. We could look down and see every move the Rebels made. We would holler at each other and exchange all sorts of notes. They would come half way across and one of our boys would go half way and meet on a little island i the middle and talk and exchange tobacco with each other. We gave apples and [they] gave us whiskey.

We had a good time with the Johnny Rebs out on picket. We was near an old farmer’s house. He was an old Reb himself. He accused our company of stealing nine of his hogs and of milking his cows. He came to the camp and told Gen. Slocum. The general sent him to Col. Adams and every boy in our company swore against him and Col. Adams is going to put him through for it. Bob, I must begin to close my scribbling and write you some of my poetry about your brother Edward and Bill McElwain.

Poetry to R. P. Allee from Dexter Buell

The Brave volunteers who quickly rose to stand
By the Union against its foes should ever
have the estimation and greatful thanks to all the nation.

But some there was [two] who should ever be
Held in remembrance by our whole country.
Twas in battle the daring braves who now sleeps in a soldier’s grave.

Of the number who lingered in pain
Was our brave comrade William McElwain
And another brave Edward Allee, friends in life and in eternity and woe, they have passed from the land of pain.

They will fight no more battles here below
But the twenty-seventh cannot spare many such brave spirits
So free from fear
But mothers and sisters weep no more
for we trust they have gone to a happy shore.
Where wars and sorrows never will come
And you may meet them in that bright home.

I could not find an image of Beverly but here is a great image of Mills Williamson who served with him in the same company wearing the uniform of the 95th Pennsylvania Zouaves (Michael Sorenson Collection)

Composed by Beverly Copes, 1 [Co. D] 95th Regiment Penn. Zouaves. A friend of mine. He is from Philadelphia City. Belongs to Gen. Slocum’s Division. Written by Dexter Buell, Company B, 27th Regiment, N. Y. S. V.

P. S. Bob, you can have the poetry wrote up good and keep it. You can give Mrs. McElwain one after you write it off. From your friend, — Dexter Buell

Write soon.

by by. P. S. Friend Bob, if you see our folks, tell them I received the box they set me when we were at Harrison’s Landing.

P. S. George [H.] Walrath sends his best respects and wants you to write.

[in a different hand, in pencil]

Friend Bob,

Dexter is writing so I think I will put a few lines in to you. How does No. 1 Hose & No. 3 stand it now? I heard they done well at the last fire. We boys that belongs to the Hose will be back with you next spring…We have lost one member—that is poor Ed. We mourn his loss very much. Julie B. feels very bad about Ed. Every letter I get from her she mentions his name. Give my respects to William Pugett & when you write give my respects to George Allen & tell him to write to a fellow. What company is he in? And respects to your mother and father. Tell them I am well and hope I will see them well when I come back to Old Lyons. Excuse writing. Write soon. In haste. Your friend, — Geo. W. Williams 2

1 Pvt. Beverly Copes of Philadelphia served in Co. D, 95th Pennsylvania Gosline’s Zouaves. He served from 17 September 1861 to 2 November 1864.

2 George W. Williams enlisted at Lyons with Dexter in May 1861 and mustered out with the company in May 1863. He subsequently served in Co. H, 22nd New York Cavalry.


Letter 17

Camp near Bakersville, Maryland
October 29th 1862

Dear folks,

I received your letter of the 22nd a was rather glad to hear from you. I have been looking for a letter from you for a long time and just received it. We have just come off from picket guard. We were on [the] post close to Dam No. 4—the Johnny Rebs just across the river in plain sight. We could see their reserve and their whole force. I went across the river in a boat and had a talk with them and came back.

I received he box you sent and I was glad to get it for that shirt just came in handy, it being the first one I have had on in over a month. The medicine you sent—there was three bottles of it broke. The glass in the likeness was broke. Also the medicine run all over the tobacco and handkerchief but it was good tobacco.

You spoke about how we sleep. We have one blanket over [us] as that is all. We have little tents we sleep under only they leak when it rains [s] you might as well be out doors as in. I will tell you what we live on mostly is hard tacks as the oys call them and coffee, and when we can we get tickets of the sutler. Then we can buy a few soft ones once in awhile. The boys have just drawed new pants. They have not had any in so long they don’t know how to feel—they are all pitting on airs.

I have got an old pair of shoes on with the bottoms all out and a new pair of pants. I am going to buy me a good pair of boots when we get paid off. We expect to get pay the 15th of next month. As I said, we expect to get 4 months pay $52. But out of that we have got to pay for all the clothing we lost on the Peninsula. I don’t know how much that will be. I will try and send home all I can when we get it.

I was glad you sent me them postage stamps for I have been wanting some a long [time]. They are worth about 25 cents apiece down here. If I had some, I would have written long before. I don’t hardly know what to write about. There is no news much. I suppose you know that General Slocum has left us and taken command of General Banks’ Corps. Brig. General Brooks has got command of this division. Some say we are going to Centerville, Va. to stay this winter but I don’t believe it. We don’t know what we are going to do one day from another so you are better posted than we are. We don’t see any papers—only what the Lyons boys get from home. We don’t know half as much as you do about the war only we see enough of it all the time.

I must close I guess for this time. I wrote this in a hurry so it could go out in the morning mail. I will close, so goodbye for this time. Don’t forget to write soon. From — Dexter Buell

Company B, 27th Regiment N. Y. S. Vols.

When you write again, send me some stamps and I will send the soap next time.


The railroad depot at Warrenton, Virginia (1862, Timothy O’Sullivan, LOC)

Letter 18

Camp near Warrington [Warrenton] Station in the woods
November 10, 1862

Dear Folks,

I now sit down to write you a few lines to let you know about where we are and what we are a doing. We are resting here in the woods. There is very heavy cannonading about 8 miles ahead of us. They say the rebels are in sigh. We can’t tell how soon we will be engaged.

“The boys are all cheering General McClellan. He and General Burnside just rode past the camp.”

The boys are all cheering General McClellan. He and General Burnside just rode past the camp. They look first rate but one thing the boys don’t seem to like—they say that Gen. Burnside has superseded Gen. McClellan. The boys don’t seem to like it. How true it is, we can’t tell. You will probably know before we do. We cannot get any papers of no kind down here in this part of he country.

The whole country all around seems to be stripped of everything. You can’t hardly find rails enough to build a fire with. There is no eatables of any kind down here. The Rebel army being here and then our army, I tell you they make a clean sweep of everything as they go. The government or someone else don’t seem to use us right. The boys—half of them—go almost barefoot. The other day we had some snow for the first time about two inches deep. It came pretty tough on the boys to sleep in these little cloth tents. But I can stand just as much as any of the rest can. We don’t know whether we will go into winter quarters or not. The whole army seems to be moving. We don’t know where we will bring up nor don’t care. They only got six months more to drag us around. I must close my scribbling for this time.

I will let you know next time where we are going to stop or what we are going to do. When you write next time, send me a pair of gloves and I will pay for them double. It is too cold for my sore hand. You can send by mail I guess is the best way. So goodbye for this time. Written in haste.

— Dexter Buell, Comp. B, 27th N. Y. S. Vol.

Write soon.


Letter 19

Camp in the Woods 5 miles from Warrenton Village
November 15th 1862

Dear Folks,

Union soldiers tied to trees for punishment (Alfred Waud, LOC)

I now haste to write you a few lines. I wrote a letter the other day but could not send it because I had no stamp. There is very heavy cannonading going on this morning on the outpost. They keep up a continual roar all the while. We have new regulations in our regiment. We have three roll calls every day and if you’re absent, we have to give a good account or else get tied to a tree. Pretty tough but can’t help it. We expect to be brought in an engagement every moment. We can’t tell when.

When you write, sed some stamps. We expect the paymaster here this week to pay us off. I will send home all I can. I want to get a pair of gloves. It is getting too cold. You can send them by mail. It won’t cost much.

I must close writing because we expect to be called in line every minute. So goodbye. In haste.

— Dexter Buell, Comp. B, 27th N. Y. Vol. Write soon.


Letter 20

Camp in the Woods 5 miles from Aquia Creek Landing
November 19th 1862

Dear Folks,

I now hasten to write you a few lines to let you know where we are and what we are a doing. We have been on the march for five days through the wilderness. Some days we would not see more than two houses. Then there was no one lived in them.

General Franklin’s Corps holds the extreme left of the army and General Hooker the center, and Heitzelman the right and Sigel is the reserve. We are laying still for a few days because the roads are too muddy to travel. I think we will see worse roads than we see now before the winter is over with. They all seem to think they are going to carry on a winter campaign. If they do, they will have to make a new call for troops in the spring, I tell you. We never can stand it and it will take many a poor soldier to his grave.

Gen. George B. McClellan was idolized by most of the boys in the 27th New York

Them damn abolitionists are a blowing their horn, “Why don’t the army move? Why don’t they move?” I would like to have some of them down here with a knapsack on [that] weighs about 200 lbs. I would run them on a double quick all day long and if they did not go, I would run a bayonet through them. I will tell you one thing. There is no other general in the world that will do as well as General McClellan. The whole army will soon be fighting amongst themselves. There are officers resigning every day just because Gen. McClellan was turned out of his position and I don’t blame them for doing it. I must close for there is no use of talking—only 6 months longer.

Get a newspaper and pit some chewing tobacco in it and send it. It won’t cost any more. I have not had a chew in a week. We cannot get it down here. Don’t forget it. I have got a cotton bloom to send to you. I can’t send it without a paper. So goodbye.

— Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th N. Y. Vol.

Hurrah for [Gov.] Seymour!


Letter 21

Camp near Stafford Court House
5 Miles from Aquia Creek Landing
December 3rd, 1862

Dear Folks,

I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you. I received the gloves you sent me all right. I think a great deal of them but I would like a little tobacco the best. I will tell you I never see the boys suffer so much for tobacco before. They smoke coffee for tobacco. We can’t buy anything down here. We are here in camp. Some say we are going into winter quarters and some say we are not. Most all the boys in the regiment have got log houses put up. I am to work putting up mine. When you write, do the tobacco up and send it the same way you sent the gloves. I will get it. I have got a ball of cotton to send to you when you send me a paper.

What did you have for Thanksgiving dinner? I will tell you what I had. Our regiment was on picket guard. I had for dinner one hard cracker and a little piece of raw pork. Pretty good for a “snoger.” Sometimes we can’t get as much as that. Yesterday our regiment went to build corduroy roads so they would not get stuck in the mud.

They say apples and potatoes are cheap up North. We can’t buy apples here for ten cents apiece down here. I would like to be home one night with you to eat about two pan fulls. Never mind. A better day is coming. We have it pretty tough but we have got use to it. Don’t forget the tobacco next time.

I close my scribbling. I got a letter from Jerome Gates. He is home. They are all well. So goodbye. From, — Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th Regt. N. Y. Vol.

Three cheers for New York Volunteers. Write soon. 27th Against the World!


[Sadly there are no letters to describe the fight at Fredericksburg in mid-December 1862 and, surprisingly, Dexter does not devote a single paragraph to the battle in his book. A notice in a local paper reported at the time: “Co. B., in the Late Battle. The 27th Regiment was engaged in the recent battle of Fredericksburg. We have no particulars except that the men behaved bravely, and that Sergeant John C. Hooper, of Huron was wounded, and that Henry W. Brown of Lyons had his hip fractured.” Another newspaper notice stated: “Our former correspondents in the Twenty-Seventh Regiment are chary of their favors. Not one of them has written us concerning the part the Regiment took in the recent battle. We learn, however, from other sources, that the Twenty-Seventh was not found lacking in courage or determination; that it was in the thickest of the fight (under Sedgwick;) and that although it received no special mention at the hands of the puffers for the New York papers, no Regiment can show a cleaner record than the Twenty-Seventh. The casualties in this Regiment were comparatively few. In Company B, there were four men wounded: Sergeant John C. Hooper, (slight,) Henry W. Brown, B. Disbrow, (slight,) and G. Walrath, (slight.) Brown’s injuries are said by a correspondent of the Rochester Union to be slight; but other reports say that his injury is a fracture of the hip, caused by a musket-ball, and that his leg has been amputated. One or two others are reported missing, but as they may yet be heard from we refrain from giving their names at present.”]

Letter 22

Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
January 17, 1863

Dear Folks,

I received your letter last night and right glad to hear that you were all well. We just came in from picket yesterday. We are under marching orders. We expect to go across the river and try them once more but there is hundreds that will never cross the river. I have heard more that one half of the boys in our company [say] that they would never go in another battle. They say it is too bad to go through what we have and then slink out but they say they will do it.

This fighting for Niggers is played out. Some of them Black Abolitionists out to be made to fight their share of the battles.

We expect to be on the move before long. Can’t tell how soon. We have warm days and cold nights. We don’t expect to have much snow down here. Our men are working daily building corduroy roads for the Johnny boys same as they did on the Peninsula. All of the boys are getting sick of this thing. They begin to count the days thinking how near our time is out. I wish it was out tomorrow, if not sooner.

I have not received them things you spoke of yet but I guess I will before long. I must come to a halt for this time. Write as soon as you get this.

— Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th N. Y. S. V.

Answer soon. Don’t wait so long.


Letter 23

Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
January 27th 1863

To the Editor of the [Wayne] Democratic Press

As I have a few leisure moments, I thought I would write and let you know what is going on in camp. Our regiment has just returned from a great expedition. We marched ten miles from camp and got stuck in the mud and then we turned around and played mule and helped to get the pontoon train back to the rear, the mud being 1—2—3 feet deep. We returned to camp on Sunday and when we got there, General Bartlett gave the regiment their rum. We all got to feeling first rate when General Swan made his appearance and then there was quite a disturbance and then Col. Adams, just for spite, put the whole of Company B on guard 48 hours to take revenge. And at the same time, most of the officers was so drunk that they did not know how to enjoy themselves and as poor privates had to suffer the consequences.

“We came out to fight for the Stars & Stripes but the officers came out to fight for the Eagle and Star.”

Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th New York Infantry, 27 January 1863

The rest of the company [regiment] was drunk also but all was laid to Company B. But never mind. Our time is nearly expired and then we will let the people in Lyons know what is what. If we ever enlist again, we will have a captain from some other town but our own. We came out to fight for the Stars & Stripes but the officers came out to fight for the Eagle and Star.

I will close for this time and let you know more about the matter in my next. Yours respectfully, Comp. B

From the 27th Regt. N. Y. S. V. Signed “Old sport and hard luck”

P. S. Please put this in without fail and oblige — A good soldier.


Letter 24

[Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.]
February 3rd 1863

Friend Robert,

As Tom Hilliard is going home, I though I would drop you a line. If you will go to the drug store and buy a bottle or box of hair dye to color whiskers with and send by Tom when he comes back, I will send you the pay for it just as soon as we get our pay which we expect to get this week and oblige.

We are just getting ready to go on picket guard.

— Dexter Buell, Company B, 27th N.Y.S.V.

Write soon. Only three months, Bob. How is No. 3 [Fire] Hose? All right? Write soon. Your friend, — D. Buell


Letter 25

Camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia
February 14th 1863

Friend Bob,

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you. I suppose Tom Hilliard has reached Lyons before this time. I sent a letter by him to you. I suppose you have received it before now. I wanted you to get a box of hair dye to color whiskers with and send by Tom and just as soon as we get paid off, I will send you the money back. It will cost $1 and I am going to color up the boys whiskers for them. I keep a barber shop now-a-days. I shave most all of the boys on our company.

Bob, today is Valentine’s Day. I wish I had one to send to you. Bob, the boys are all busy making finger rings and pipes,&c. to fetch home with them. We make them out of laurel roots. I am making a pipe and ring for you out of laurel root. Bob, I guess you had a pretty nice time with the girls. I have not seen a girl in so long I forgot how they look. If we see a man with a citizen suit of clothes on, he looks like a Reb to us. Everything will seem strange to us boys when we get home.

Never mind about the letter I sent to be printed. I only wanted to let the people know something about it. But I guess Tim Hilliard can tell you [that] Adams & Swam are the biggest drunkards you ever see. Robbers—thieves—they would steal our ration of hard tack if they could make anything by it. All the boys swear revenge on Adams when we get out of Uncle Sam’s reach.

Bob, I want you to kiss a pretty girl for me, will you? Hw is Old No. 3 [Hose]? All right, I suppose.

I must begin to close my scribbling for this time as boys don’t have much to do now days. Time is passing swiftly by.

I wish I could send your pipe by mail but I am afraid you would not get it. I will fetch you something to remember Old Virginia. I must close for this time so goodbye. From your old friend, — Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th Regt. New York State Vol.

Please write soon.


Letter 26

Camp near White Oak Church, Va.
March 21, 1863

Dear Folks,

I received your letter while we was on picket guard and was very glad to hear from you and to hear you was all well. We have been on picket duty for the past two days near the river. We can look down from the hill we are stationed on and see every move the Rebels make. We can see them out drilling and see their cars when they come in loaded with freight from Richmond.

I will tell you just what kind of houses we have to live in while on picket. They are made out of pine boughs put up on poles and when it rains or snows, then it comes pretty tough on the soger boy. We are here in camp now. The boys in the company are all well.

Old Joe Hooker is getting ready to make a move. The boys all wished that it would snow three deep so the Army could not move until the first day of May. They boys all say they have seen fighting enough to last them while they stay in the service. I think they have myself. This morning it snows quite hard and the snow is about two inches deep and it still snows.

We have not received any pay yet but I rather think we will in less than three months. The government is going to discharge the best troops in the field when they discharge us and they say so themselves. If they had discharged us two months ago they probably would have got the largest part of us back in the service but as it is, they won’t get a single man I don’t believe.

The boys have been making pipe and finger rings out of laurel roots to pass away the time.

I would like to send you my photograph if I could but there is no place to get it taken down in this miserable country. I wish you could look down and see the country. Just see how you like it. The wood is mostly all pine timber. The ground would not raise white beans. The soil is mostly all clay and when it rains, it makes very bad walking or riding. You can see thousands of acres down here with little trees and berry bushes of all kinds growing up on their farms. The look so they had not been plowed up in a dozen years or more. All they live on mostly is corn. They make what they call a hoe cake out of a little meal and water.

I guess I had better come to a close for I have a little dinner to eat. I would like to have one good meal of victuals. I suppose there is lots of oysters up North. I would like to be there a little while to eat about a dozen kegs or so.

Well goodbye for this time. You must write oftener for I don’t get a letter from you often enough. You must write all the news. Is the little black cat alive yet? Let me know. Truly yours, — Dexter Buell

Company B, 27th Regt. N. Y. Volunteers. Write often. — Dexter Buell


Letter 27

Camp near White Oak Church, Virginia
April 13th 1863

Dear Folks,

I received your letter last night and glad to hear from you. Since my last we were reviewed by the President—old Abraham Lincoln. This morning the cavalry and artillery are all moving towards the river and we expect a fight before night but can’t tell. There are all sorts of rumors about the two years troops. Some say we will be in Elmira before this month is out. Yesterday we were on inspection and Col. Adams read an order that he received from the War Department that all two-years troops that will enlist after their time is out for one year will receive $50 bounty—one half to be paid down and the rest after the expiration of their term of enlistment. I rather guess they won’t get over 2,000 out of our regiment. The government paid 250 dollars for a lot of green men and now they offer us after we have been in the service two years 50 dollars to enlist? Can’t see the point, as our boys say.

We expect to be in New York State in less than two weeks. Bully for that.

I got a letter from Eliza the other day. They are all well. They want me to send them my photograph. We are hard up for tobacco down here but we can get along a little while longer. I don’t know of any more news to write. I can’t think of now. We are having nice weather here. The peach trees are budding out and will soon be in blossom. I will close for this time so goodbye. Excuse haste. Truly yours, — Dexter Buell

Co. B, 27th Regt. N.Y. S.V.

P. S. all are well as usual.


Letter 28

Elmira [New York]
May 31st 1863

Friend Robert,

As I have a few leisure moments I thought I would drop you a few lines to let you know that we are all sound. We arrived at Elmira about eleven o’clock the same night we went across the Lake on the steamer P. H. Field. We had a good time. The boys are all well and anxious to get back to their old homes instead of laying around this miserable place. Robert, you may think this is rather queer writing paper but as it is raining, I thought I would not go down to the village.

Dick Putney is all well and sends his best respects to you and all. We expect to be mustered out of the service tomorrow and will probably be home this week. All are well. Give my best respects to all of the boys and the girls too.

From your friend, — Dexter Buell, Co. B, 27th N. Y. Vol.

My best respects to your cousin, Miss Berry


Poem

Composed by Comrade Dexter E. Buell, Lyons, N. Y. Co. B, 27th Regiment N. Y. Volunteers [handwriting appears to be post war]

1863: William B. Miller to William J. Bennett

I could not find an image of William but here is one of James S. Sayre who also served as a private in Co. K, 127th New York Infantry (Photo Sleuth)

These letters were written by William B. Miller (1840-1909), the son of George W. Miller (1799-1881) and Mehitable King (1812-1888) of Amagansett, Suffolk county, New York.

William enlisted in Co. K (the “Monitors”), 127th New York Infantry in September 1862 and mustered out of the regiment in June 1865, serving two years and 11 months. He served with his brother Josiah Parsons Miller, with his cousin Jonathan Allen Bennett, and a number of other relatives who were recruited in the fall of 1862 from the eastern tip of Long Island.

William wrote all of these letters to his uncle, William J. Bennett who was the father of his cousin, Jonathan Allen Bennett.

For more letters by the 127th New York Infantry that have been transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared, see:
Henry Blain Graham, Co. C, 127th New York (1 Letter)
John Allen, Co. E, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Lord Wellington Gillett, Co. H, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Jonathan Allen Bennett, Co. K, 127th New York (33 Letters)
Josiah Parsons Miller, Co. K, 127th New York (3 Letters)

Letter 1

Camp Bliss
Upton’s Hill
February 3rd, 1863

Dear Uncle,

As [your son] Johnny is a writing, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you the same and all the rest of the folks. It has been cold enough to freeze the Devil to death and they have had us out a shooting blank cartridges today. I wish you could have seen me. I could not tell when I had hold of a cartridge or anything else.

I heard that Letta Baker was in the fashion [pregnant]. Is that so? I heard she run against a rule. It was not mine for I ain’t a carpenter. I had a letter from home last night and they said she said it belonged to me or Johnny. If that is so, I think I had better stay where I am a spell, don’t you? I have not seen her to speak to her since she was to Pelts Second Part. You know they said she was in the same way last winter. If she had him, I should not thought so much about it but you know that I am no such a feller as that. I don’t speak to a girl. You know much more do anything like that. I am as clear of that as a dog is of fleas, don’t you think so? I should like you to see her and see how she looks. I want you to write to me and let me know how she looks. Has she been eating raw rice or not? You said she had run against a rule. What kind of a rule was it? Was it the rule of three? I should like to have you do such sums by long or short division. I should try the rule of three and if I could not get it, I should try some other way.

I can’t write any more now. I want you to answer soon and let me know all about it. Give my love to all. I must say good night. This is from — William B. Miller


Letter 2

Camp near Vienna, Virginia
April 2, 1863

Dear Uncle,

as Johnny is writing, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. There is not much news to write. We have moved about sixteen miles from Camp Gurney. We have been put through [ ]. Since we moved last, Johnny and I have been contriving how to get out of this scrape. We don’t see any way [but] to have you go and see Charles P. Dayton and see if he can get a Lieutenant’s berth in some regiment. I want you to see him as soon as possible and see how much he thinks he can get one for and write to me soon and let me know all about it. Johnny or I—either of us—know twice as much as Shirey did about drilling and if you will see him and have a talk with him. I will pay you for your trouble if I ever see you and if I don’t, I will make my will and give you something.

The boys are all well and send their respects to all.

I don’t care what regiment it is if I only can get a commish.

Give my love to all the folks and don’t say anything about what I have wrote here. It is most dark so I shall have to say goodbye. This is from — William B. Miller


Letter 3

Camp near Catlett’s Station, Va.
July 3, 1863

Dear Uncle,

As I have a few leisure moments to spare and Johnny is a writing, if I live to get home, I never will say a word about hot weather. It is so hot here that I man can’t hardly live. I want to get home where I can go and see the girls. What do you think about Mary Fithen’s boy? I left in the right time to get clear of that. Now I am a coming home to go up and see them balsam trees again. The girls must look out for the soldiers. They talk hard some of them but that ain’t me. You know that I ain’t any such a boy as that for I never have anything to do with the girls, that you know I hope. Some of the boys will ask me to [their] wedding. You would think to hear them talk that they calculated to get married soon after they arrive home.

We have heard good news, if true. It is i a Baltimore Clipper. It says that the inhabitants of Richmond are coming back on Old Jeff and say he has led them into this rebellion and they don’t see any sight of it ending very soon and if he don’t end it, they will. And North Carolina talks hard of coming into the Union again. We are the boys to fetch them back. Do you see any sight of his cruel war ending this year? I can’t see the point yet if you do but I hope for the best. I must get supper soon. All I have got to do is fill my cup up with water and set it out in the sun and it will boil while I am finishing this. We don’t have any trouble to boil coffee when the sun shines and that is most of the time. We have not had rain enough to blow a feather over for the last month.

I can’t write any more this time. Pelt sends his respects to you and says he is a hard soul. Sam Ranger is here to my tent. He is well. Give my love to all. No more this time. From Old Bill Miller to his uncle W. J. Bennett

Write soon.


Letter 4

Morris Island, South Carolina
June 4, 1864

Dear Uncle,

As I have a few leisure moments to spare, I thought I would improve them in writing to you to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines will find you and family all well. We are having pretty good times here now. Our company and E company and D company are detached to do picket duty in boats. we go out at retreat and get back at reveille. We go every other night. There is two reliefs of us.

There is not much news to write. The boys are all well except Harry King. He is very sick. Henry Baker has got two of his fingers hurt. He hurt them with a pistol. Elias Miller started for home on the same steamer that this will go on. I have got a plate to send you in this. You must give my love to all enquiring friends, I had a letter from home. One in East Hampton last winter with no name to it. It was headed “Dear Cousin” and I don’t know who it was from. If I can find out, I will answer it with pleasure.

You must write soon and write all the news. Goodbye, from Willia B. Miller

Direct to William B. Miller, Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. S. V., Morris Island, S. C., Department of the South

1863: Josiah Parsons Miller, Jr. to William Jackson Bennett

I could not find an image of Josiah but here is a cdv of Augustus Bennett, a cousin of Josiah’s, who served in Co K with him. Augustus was discharged after 4 months service when in February 1863, he accidentally shot off four fingers on his left hand. He had been standing near a campfire with his hand resting over the barrel of the gun when the heat of the fire caused his gun to discharge.

These letters were written by Josiah Parsons Miller, Jr. (1832-1905), the son of Josiah P. Miller (1806-1884) and Eliza Hand (1810-1887) of Springs, Suffolk county, Long Island, N. Y. Josiah was married on 11 November 1861 to Harriet Miller (1843-1905) and had a child by the time he enlisted as a private in Co. I [later in Co. K], 127th New York Infantry on 19 August 1862. He was described in the muster rolls as a 29 year-old, 5 foot, 5 inch tall, blue-eyed, sandy-haired mariner. The 1890 Veterans’ Schedules inform us that he served 2 years and 9 months with the regiment, mustering out on 20 May 1865. However, a book on the regiment states that he was transferred to the Navy on 14 June 1864. After he was discharged from the service, he returned to Suffolk county where he found employment at the Amagansett Light House.

Josiah wrote the letters to his Uncle William Jackson Bennett (1819-1901), the husband of Phebe Miller (1821-1893), and the father of Jonathan (“Johnny”) Allen Bennett (1845-1863) who served with him in the same company.

Letter 1

Camp Bliss
Upton’s Hill, [Virginia]
January 11, 1863

I now seat myself to inform you of my health which is very good at present and I hope these few lines will find you the same. We are here on Old Upton’s Hill in camp and drilling every day, getting ready for the Rebs. We have been call[ed] out once to go and see them but when we got to Annandale, the Rebs had left. We formed a line of battle and lay all day and came back to camp again. I don’t know as this war will ever end. It don’t look much like it now. I guess we shall have a chance to give the Rebs a try yet.

I hope this war will end soon for I want to get home to see my wife and child and quiver [to have sex] once more for I feel very much like it now. I think I should shake one bed post all clear from the bed in a short time. You must think of me when you quiver for that is my play now. I will write something else. Is they any poles of wood that any of the youngsters can get when they go to see the gals? Give my love to [your wife,] Aunt Phebe and tell her I want a new clean commeser [?]. Give my love to Rose and all the family and all enquiring friends.

I don’t think this war will end very soon. I expect we shall have to go and fight yet. The First Brigade out of this division has gone into the battlefield and the Second goes tomorrow. We are the Third. Our turn comes next. Our generals is not so smart as the South’s generals is. We whipped them the other day and now they have whipped our forces. And our folks has give up taking Vicksburg. I think they had better settle it for the South will carry their points yet in spite of thunder. They will fight and get our men killed off and get whipped in the bargain. The South can fight as hard as the North can and more so. They are on their own dung hill. They know every foot of ground in the southern states. Jeff Davis says he can carry the war on a long time yet and I guess he can. It never will end by fighting, that is sure. The North cannot whip the South—no one can do it. That is what the matter is.

Give my love to my folks if you see any of them. Johnny [Bennett] is well and William Miller [too] an [they both] send their love to you all. I have not got any news to tell you this time but next time I write, I hope to have some good news to tell you. You must write and let me know all the news. Give my love to Uncle Hooch and his family when you see them and take a good share for yourself. I don’t know what will become of this regiment if we ever get into a fight. We ain’t got but one officer in the regiment [that] knows enough to take a company of men into a battle. Our colonel would do very well but none of the rest. They don’t hardly know enough to drill men as they ought to be.

Well, Uncle Bill, I have not anything more to say for the present so I shall have to bring this to a close and bid you goodbye for this time. This is from — Josiah P. Miller

Write as soon as you get this if you please and write all the news.


Letter 2

[Note: In this letter, Josiah Miller write to his Uncle William J. Bennett, informing him of the death of his son, Jonathan Allen Bennett, who served with him in the same company.]

Cole Island, South Carolina
Sunday, September 13, 1863

Dear Uncle,

I now seize the opportunity to inform you of my health which is middling good at present and I do truly hope these few lines will find you and your family all in the best of health.

Jonathan Allen Bennett, Co. K, 127th New York Vols. died of chronic diarrhea on Folly Island 11 September 1863

Well, Uncle William, I have got some sad news to tell you. Your dear son Jonathan has left us. He died September 11th and was buried the 12th. He was buried on Folly Island, South Carolina. I did not hear of it till this morning. Those that saw the corpse said that he wasn’t nothing but skin and bones, I did not see him for more than a week before he died. We come over on this island to do picket duty and left him on Folly Island in the hospital. The last time I saw him he was very poor. I made up my mind that he would not stand it long. That is two that has been buried on this island since the regiment came on here and Theodore Bennett don’t look as if he would stay with us but a few days. One more out of our company has been [ ] crossed there today. I have just got in from picket tonight and then [ ] he had all but yours and Aunt Phebe’s and them [ ]. Will send if i can.

Well, I have not got much more to write. Johnny was as good a boy as they is in the regiment. A good soldier—he was ready and willing to do anything that they called on him to do. He ought not to have left Alexandria to come here. He was not well enough to come but our doctors don’t try to do anything for a man till he is dead or pretty near to it. They keep them on duty as long as they can stand up.

Well now, I will tell you that the rest of the boys from our way are all pretty well at present. I have not got any war news to tell you for we don’t get it here as soon as you do at home. The boys all send their best respects to you all. Give my love to all of your family and to my folk when you see them and off of our relation and write as soon as you get this. Tell Samuel Ranger’s folks that he is well at present. When you write, let me know all the news, if you please.

It is very hot weather here. I hope it will soon be cooler now. I have not got anything more to write so I shall have to bring this to a close and wish you health and happiness all this world can afford. This is from Josiah P. Miller

To my uncle William J. Bennett. write as soon as you get this and direct your letters as you always have done. Goodbye. God bless you all.

We have lost eight men out of our company that died with sickness and have got 17 in hospitals sick now. Some in one place and some in another and two or three that is in the company now [that] don’t look as if they could stay with us but a few days at the longest. Those that we have lost is from East Hampton and Bridge Hampton and Sag Harbor and those that is in the hospitals is mostly from that way.


Letter 3

127th Regt. N. Y. S. V. Company K Monitors
Coles Island, South Carolina
Thursday, November 19, 1863

Dear Uncle,

I now seat myself to write you a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter which came to hand in due season. I was very happy to hear from you and to hear that you and your family was all in good health and I truly hope this will find you and yours all in the best of health.

I have not got any news to tell you for we don’t get any news down here. You must write the news to me. I will send you the money that is due on the watch as soon as I can get it. We ain’t been paid off yet and I can’t get it until we are but the overcoat and knapsack I can’t send and can’t sell them for they have all got such things. I have not got anything to write that is of any importance so I can’t write a long letter this time.

I have got four [letters] to answer which I received the last mail but I have not had one before in three weeks. Give my love to Aunt Ester and all the family and to the swamp folks and to Rosalie and all of your family and to my folks. I do wish this war would end for I am tired of it. I wants to get home to see my folks and I want to quiver [have sex] once more. It is fifteen months since I quivered and that is a long time. I rather think I shall have to stay as much as one year longer if not more. I don’t see any sight for it to end this winter at any rate. Still most everybody seems to think it will but I can’t see it in that light. I wish I could think so but I can’t so I make myself contented as I am but I never knew what it was to be gone from home before. I have been gone longer but I had no family then to think of so I did not have so much to think of as I have now.

Well, you must write to me as often as you can and I will do the same. Now I must bring this to a close and wish you health and happiness all this world can afford. This is from your nephew, — Josiah P. Miller

1862-63: Jonathan Allen Bennett to his Family

Jonathan Allen Bennett, Co. K, 127th New York Vols.

These letters were written by Jonathan Allen Bennett (1845-1863), the son of William Jackson Bennett (1819-1901) and Phebe Miller (1821-1893) of the whaling village Sag Harbor on the tip of Long Island.

In August 1862, a few months shy of his 18th birthday, Jonathan enlisted in Co. G, then later transferred to Co. K (the “Monitors”), 127th New York Infantry. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as a 5 foot 7 inch, grey-eyed, brown-haired farmer. He was with his regiment until mid September 1863 when he died in a hospital on Folly Island on 11 September 1863, a victim of chronic diarrhea. A history of Suffolk county soldiers claims that he died from the complications of a hand amputation as a result of an accidental shooting, but the story—only partially true—pertains to a cousin named August B. Bennett who was discharged from the same company in February 1863 after only three months service.

To read other letters by members of the 127th New York Infantry that I have transcribed and published on Spared & Shared, see:
Henry Blain Graham, Co. C, 127th New York (1 Letter)
John Allen, Co. E, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Lord Wellington Gillett, Co. H, 127th New York (1 Letter)
Josiah Parsons Miller, Co. K, 127th New York (1 Letter)

Letter 1

Addressed to Mrs. William Bennett, East Hampton, Long Island, State of New York, Suffolk county

Staten Island
Camp Washington
September 10, 1862

Mrs. Bennett,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you a few lines to let you know how we all are. We are well and [hope] you are the same. Not much news to write at present. Some of the fellers got some money yesterday but I didn’t get any but I shall get it when the war is about over, if I live and I expect you to. Give my love to all of the folks and tell them to remember me and I will then. Tell Miss Betsey I should like to have some more of her cake for I have not had anything but bare bread and soup and coffee since I have been here and I have got most tired of it.

The boys sends their love to you and all of the folks. We have just been out on a drill and I thought I would write to you. Dear mother, tell Rosa she must write to me and tell Lid she must write to me and give my love to Strona and tell her I should like to see her very well.

How Jonathan looked just prior to his enlistment in 1862. This image was taken at Sag Harbor.

I was on guard last night and we got a Rebel and put him in the guard house. He had a blue coat on and he had a cross on the back of it. It is a very pleasant place here. I like it very well. Well, Mr. Ranger sends his love to you and his folks in particular. We have been expecting to go away every day and have been for this last week and I guess we shall go pretty soon. And when you write to me, you may direct your letters to Jonathan A. Bennett, 127th Regt. Co. K, New York Vols., Washington or elsewhere.

I can’t think of much more at present so I must bid you goodbye, This is from– Jonathan A. Bennett

Tell father to take good care of my gun and all of my things. I guess you needn’t write to me anymore til you hear from me again. Mother, goodbye.

We are a going to have a speech this afternoon from Lieutenant Gundy. Don’t forget to give my love to Anna. Mother, tell the girls to take good care of themselves and give my love to them—Mary and all of the rest.


Letter 2

From A History of the 127th New York Infantry

Camp Morgan
Sunday, September 14, 1862

Dear Father,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you a few lines to let you know that we are all well and hope you are all the same. Ain’t much news to write at present—only I and some of the boys has just been down to the Potomac and washed our clothes. We are all well, I believe, as common. William Miller sends his love to you and all of the folks.

I expect there has been a battle not far off from here today for we have heard the cannon roar all day. We are all in good spirits and we have good times in the camps, I tell you. It is a very pleasant place here. It is on the side of a high mountain close to the Potomac. I should like to be at home a little while with you and the folks. You must excuse my bad writing if you please for I have not got anything to write on but my gun stock and that is not very handy.

I want you to send me some postage stamps if you please for I can’t get any here and I wish you would send some if you want to hear from me. I can’t think of much more to write at present so goodbye. This is from J. A. Bennett, your son. When you write to me, direct to:

Jonathan A. Bennett
Company G
127th New York Vol.
Camp Morgan
Washington D. C.


Letter 3

Camp Morgan, Va.
September 18, 1862

My Dear Father,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you a few lines to let you know that we are all well and hope you are the same at home. The boys is all well and sends their love to all of the folks. I don’t know of much news only we have been a digging some rifle pits this week. I was on guard last night and Uncle Sam is on today. We have very strict orders and have to obey them too. I like it very well but if I was to home, I should not like it, I tell you. But I have to like it out here. I have just been to dinner and we didn’t have anything extra neither, I tell you. We had a very small piece of meat and a little beef soup and a very small piece of bare bread. And some of the fellers thought that was something extra but I didn’t, nor you wouldn’t if you had to live as we have since we left home.

“If I ever live to get home, I never will get caught in such a scrape again—that’s so.

—Jonathan A. Bennett, 127th New York Vols., 18 September 1862

If it would do any good, I would be homesick and a good many others but it wouldn’t do any good so we have to make ourselves contented. If I ever live to get home, I never will get caught in such a scrape again—that’s so. William Miller and Josiah is out on picket duty and I expect I shall have to go pretty soon and I don’t care how soon.

Give my love to all the folks and tell Rose she must write and Elizabeth and Maggy and Anna Ranger and Liddy Ann and Charles Mays and Miss Betsy Miller and all of the rest of the folks that thinks anything of me and I will write to them when I can. Uncle Sam send his love to his folks and to you and he says he is glad that you didn’t come for if you had, you would have been like the rest of us. You would wanted to get home again as soon as you could and we expect to come home by and by all right—that’s what the matter. Alvin Clark says he wishes he was to home so he could go to [ ] again.

If the news is true that we heard last night, we won’t stay long, I don’t think.

I received a letter from you and one from other and one from Rosie and I was very glad to hear from you and I should like to hear from Ann for you don’t say anything about her nor she has not written to me but once since I left home and I don’t know what the matter is with her. I shan’t write to her if she don’t write to me. I don’t know but she has forgot e or found someone else that she likes better and takes all of her time to write to him. And Uncle Sam says he don’t know what the matter is with his folks for he has not heard from them since he left hoe and he wants you to tell them to write for he wants to hear from them very much and so do I. I have had one letter from Aunt Lucy and Uncle George King and it was a very good one too, I tell you.

Father, if you want $5 of my money to get some corn, you may have it and I want you to send me $1 worth of postage stamps if you please for I haven’t got only one more. Lyman sends his love to you and Kate. We have got a man here to take pictures and I don’t know whether I shall have mine or not. I would if I could get it home. He don’t take them on cards. If he did, I could get one home. When you write to me, you must fill up a good big sheet of paper and tell Ann she must write as soon as she can and write all of the news and tell her I am a hard as ever and I should like to be to Old Stergen’s tonight.

I can’t think of much more to write at present, only don’t forget to send some stamps at any rate if you want to hear from me. I must go and get my rifle in order for we shall have to go out on drill pretty soon. Tell Ann to write and if she has forgot me, put her in mind of me if you will. Now be sure and tell her, Father. I must bid you goodbye. Father, write soon as you get this if you will and send some stamps too. Tell the folks all to write. Tell mother to write and give my love to her, sure. And kiss Ann for me on both sides.

This is from, — J. A. Bennett

When you write to me, direct your letters to:

Jonathan A. Bennett
Company G, 127th Regt. New York Vols., Washington D. C.


Letter 4

Camp Morgan, Va.
October 5th 1862

Dear Father,

I now take the pleasure of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope that you are all well at home and I think if I was there, I should be better satisfied than I be now. William Miller is sick and in the hospital and I guess that he has got the measles but I don’ know. Lyman is in the hospital but I don’t know what ails him. All of the rest is well, I believe. Mr. Ranger sends his love to you ad all of the folks and he says that he don’t think so much about leaving his bones in Dixie as he did before he come away from home.

Give my love to all of the children and to Anna in particular and tell Dr. I should like to hear from him for I have sent him a letter but I don’t know as he got it. I wish you would send me $5 for I want some very much for I don’t know when we shall get paid off and I wish you would send me some right away.

I don’t know of much news. I hope that I shall a pass to come home this winter and I will if I can—that’s so. No do send me some money for if I don’t have some pretty soon, I shall starve for what I know and if you have not got it, go to Mr. Huntings and tell him to send me $5 as soon as you get this and don’t put it off one day, if you please.

Dear father, give my love to mother and telll her that I don’t know of any pretty name to give the boy but when she names it, let me know what it is. I can’t write much more this time so I must bid you goodbye. This is from your son, — J. A. Bennett

I have just been down to the river and washed my clothes. Don’t forget to send me some money, father. So goodbye. This is from J. A. B.

Some of Jonathan’s doodling

Letter 5

Camp Morgan
October 7 1862

Dear Father, William J. Bennett

I now take the pleasure of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well and most all of the rest of the boys. I don’t know of much news to write at present—only I have been transferred from Company G to Company K and I am glad of it. I received a letter from Dr. Mays and a letter from you tonight and I was glad to hear from you and I hope that I shall hear from you again pretty soon. I don’t know when we shall get anymore money but when I get some, I will send it to J. M. Hunting. But if you want some of it, you write and let me know and I will send you some. I can’t write much more this time.

But when you write to me, direct your letters to Jonathan A. Bennett, Company K, 127th Regiment N. Y. Vols., Washington D. C. and then I shall get them if I am not here—for I don’t know when we shall get to move from here. Tell Anna where to write to me. Co. K.

Give my love to Anna and all of the rest of the folks and tell them to write to me. the Union troops is a giving the Rebels some every day. I expect that you hear the news as soon as I do. I must bid you goodbye.

This is from J. A. Bennett


Letter 6

Camp Bliss
Thursday, November 6th 1862

Dear Father,

I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well and I hope these few lines will find you the same at home. We have been out on picket two days. We have had very good weather a long back but it is awful cold today. The boys is all out on a drill but me and I expect I had ought to be. I don’t think that it would do me any hurt. I don’t know of any news to write at present, only some say that we are a going to Washington to stay this winter and I hope that we shall for I think that we shall have better quarters if we do. We all voted last Tuesday–al but one or two of the drummers and they wasn’t 16 years old. If they had been, they would have voted.

I received a letter from you day before yesterday and it had $1.05 in it and I was glad to get it and I hope that I shall get some more pretty soon but I don’t want any but Suffolk County Bank for it won’t do me any good for we can’t get any other out here. You wrote to me that mother had got those mittens and so I thought that I would send for them and some more things. I would like to have them mittens and a pair of buckskin gloves and some pain killer and some peppermint and some butter and some tea and something to eat if you are a mind to but don’t put in any pie that will run out on the other things and be sure and put in two or three pounds of plug tobacco and two or three pounds of fine tobacco—chewing tobacco—and anything else that you a a mind to. And I should like to have some butter. Josiah P. Miller wants you to tell his mother to put some things in the box with mine for him. I should like to have some fruit very much.

Give my love to Captain Miller’s folks and to all of the rest of the folks. I wish that you would send me some more money for that didn’t do me much good for I owed 81 cents that I had borrowed to send letters with and I promised that would pay it as soon as I got some money and I did. Tell Abraham Miller’s wife Ellen that Abe wants her to send him a pair of mittens or gloves and some chewing tobacco and some cake if she wants to but she needn’t be very particular about the cake. And don’t have any liquor put in the box whatever. Be sure and don’t put any in for if you do, the box will be opened and they find any rum in it, they won’t send it any further. So don’t put any in.

Give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it for yourselves. Tell Aunt Mary Ann that I know that I had ought to wrote to her before but I think that I shall pretty soon. I don’t have much time to write for we have to drill three times a day and we have good long drills too, I tell you. When you get ready to send the box, I want you to write a letter and let me know when it starts so I can be on a look out for it and write what you put in the box if you please. My tent mates is Daniel Blosser and Abraham Miller, and Mr. S. Rangers tent mates is Daniel Beg and James Farley, a Riverhead fella.

I can’t write no more this time so I must say goodbye for this time. This is from J. A. Bennett, Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. Vols. Monitors.


Letter 7

[Note: This letter is from the New York Digital Collections]

Upton’s Hill
November 9, 1862

Dear Sister,

As I have a few moments to spare I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you. I expect that you have begun to think that I have for I haven’t written to you since I left home and I think that I had ought to be ashamed of myself for it but never mind. I will try to write oftener if I can. It is very cold just now. We have had a hard snow storm and a very cold one. I have been a shoveling snow all day and I thought I would write a few lines tonight to let you know that I am well and I hope that you are all the same.

I have been very sick since I left home with the measles but I am well now, thank to God for it. Give my love to all the folks and tell them that I hope I shall be there with them one of these days and I trust that I shall. Tell Billy and Fanny I have not forgot them yet. I wish I could see them tonight but I can’t. we have to drill three times a day. The longest drill is three hours and that is long enough, I tell you.

There is some talk of us a going to Washington but I don’t think anybody knows where we shall go. For my part, I had as leave go South as not if we can meet Stone[wall] Jackson. I wish he stood before my old rifle and I behind it. I would do my best, I bet I would.

Please excuse bad writing if you please. This is from old John A. Bennett

To his sister

Don’t forget to write. Write soon. Direct your letters to Jonathan A. Bennett, 127th Regt. N. Y. Vols., Company K Monitors, Washington D. C.

Don’t put on that black spot by the K. Goodbye.


Letter 8

Camp Bliss
November 14, 1862

Dear Mother,

I now take my pen in hand this evening or pencil, I must say. I don’t know of much news to write at present. Some think that we shall get paid off by the middle of next and I hope we shall. And then I expect that we shall move somewhere but I don’t know where we shall go. but I hear the Lieutenant Colonel says that we was a going to Texas, he thought. But I don’t care where we go but I hope that we will go to meet Stonewall Jackson for I had just as leave meet him as not for I want the pleasure of pointing my rifle at him and see what I can do for my country.

I like [soldiering] better and better every day. We drill 2 and 3 times a day and I take delight in it. We have got pretty well drilled now. I like the officers very well, the most of them. Dr. Range is well and sends his love to you. Give my love to all of the folks. Josiah [Miller] don’t quiver [masturbate] very big now. I am as fat as a corn-fatted hog. I was weighed the other day and I weighed 149.5. You wanted to know if I got that likeness of Annie’s. I did and if you have got any to send, send them along. I had a letter from Uncle George King the other night. he said that the Budge Hampton Boys was a going to sea if they could but I hope that they can’t for I want some of them darned secesh fellers down here along with the rest of them.

I can’t write no more this time so I will say all night, this is from Old John Bennett, Company K, 127th New York Vols. Write soon as you get this if you please.

Cap Bliss, November 14th 1862

To L. B. Bennett

Dear sister, I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope that these few lines will find you the same. Give my love to Waller and all the rest of the folks. The boys is all well, I believe. I am anyway, that’s so, and if you could see me, you would think so I guess. I grow fat every day. I weight 149.5 pounds.

We had a good time last night., I tell you. We have got a fiddle in the company and we had a good time last night. I must say goodnight. This is from J. A. Bennett, Co. K, 127th N. Y. S. V.


Letter 9

Camp Bliss
November 25, 1862

I now take my pencil in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that you are all well at home. We have got the box. It come all safe. we got it last Tuesday night and I was glad to see it. I am out on picket about 1.5 miles to the southeast of Falls Church in the woods. We have very good times out here but I think that I had a little rather be at home.

Jonathan’s sketch of the picket post house

We have a bad looking house to live in on picket. It looks something like this. It is made of bushes. It does very well in dry weather but it is not very good when it rains 4 days and nights as it did last week and the mud was over shoes and I wished for a pair of boots, but I can’t get them for I haven’t got money enough. If I had, I would have a pair.

I have got a very bad cold. I got it by having wet feet and for my part, I want a pair of boots. They cost from 5 to 7 dollars and I don’t know when I shall get paid off. Not before January I don’t expect. It looks some like rain today but I hope that it won’t be so muddy as it was last week for I don’t want to get any more cold in top of this. I have got enough now.

I have got two letters with $1 in and a pair of mittens. I like them mittens first rate and so I do all of the things. The boys is all well as common. [ ] Ranger sends her love to you and to her folks and so do I. Give my love to Aunt Esther and Aunt Mary Ann and all of the folks. Miss Sally Ranger wrote that the folks around home thought that there would not be anymore fighting but you can tell them that Richmond is not taken yet but when it is, the war will soon be over, I think, and I guess that it will anyway for I think that one side or the other will give in pretty soon.

I would like soldiering very well if it weren’t for being exposed to bad weather so much for if it rains when we are on guard or picket, we have to stand out in it all—rain or shine, snow or blow, it makes no difference. I don’t mind the drills. I like them first rate. I don’t know of much more to write at present so I will say good day. This from J. A. Bennett

Poor soldier—who cares for him?


Letter 10

Camp Bliss
December 3, 1862

Dear Father, Wm. J. Bennett,

As I have a few moments to spare, I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present but we are a going to Bailey’s Crossroads tomorrow on a brigade drill. Give my love to all of the folks and tell them that I am well, tough and hearty and as saucey as ever.

I suppose that it will be Christmas New Year so I will wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and a glorious one. The boys is all well and send their love to you. Josiah Miller is kind of down-hearted and has been for some time. He never will make a soldier for he don’t pay no attention to the drills. He don’t try to learn at all to drill. He talks all of the time about home and if he don’t pay no more attention to the drills and try to learn, he never will be good for anything here. But I attend to ever drill and try to learn something and if I ever have a chance to do anything, I will do what I can.

Mr. Samuel Ranger sends his love to you and all of the folks. Give my love to Rosa and all of the girls, You wrote to me that you hadn’t got any name for that boy and I will send you one and you can do as you are a mind to about calling him by it—Charles Raynor Bennett.

This is from J. A. Bennett, Esqr. Write soon as you get this. Yours as ever, — J. A. Bennett


Letter 11

Camp Bliss, Upton’s Hill
December 16, 1862

Dear Father,

As I have a few moments to spare, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same, It is a hard rain storm today. We have some high old weather, I tell you. I don’t know of much news to write—only they say that Burnside is a giving the Rebs some now and I am glad of it. And if he wants any help, I am willing to go and help him. Give my love to all of the folks.

Theodore Bennett has just been here and he sends his love to you and so does all the rest of the boys. We haven’t got any pay since we left Staten Island and I don’t know when we shall. But next month pay day will come and I hope that we shall get paid off.

We come in from picket yesterday. We had first rate times while we was out. I wish that we could of stayed a week if it could be as good weather as it was while we was out. We only stayed two days.

I wrote to you for a pair of boots and and when you start them I wish you would write and let me know and I will be on the look out for them. I wish I had them today. I would find use for them, I guess. You must excuse bad writing and write as soon as you can. This is from J. A. B.

Yours as ever, — J. A. Bennett

Dear Sister, as I was a writing to father, I thought I would write to you to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you all well at home. Give my love to D. and Fan and tell them if they don’t answer that letter, I won’t write to them again while I am here. Give my love to George and Lib and tell them that I am a coming to see them one of these days, I guess. But they must keep good courage till I do come. You must tell me all of the news. I can’t write much more this time but I wish I had some money. I would have my likeness taken and send it to you. I can’t write no more this time so goodbye. This is from — J. A. B. to Maggie

Dear father, I wish that you would write as soon as you can and send me a little money for we are a going to have some new tents and me and Si [Josiah] and Bill and Bailey are a going to tent together and we want a little stove. I feel most ashamed to send for money but I would like to have some and when I get my pay, I will send some to you. write soon as you get this if you please. Yours as ever, — J. A. Bennett


Letter 12

Camp Bliss
January 2, 1863

Dear Brother,

It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present but I thought I would answer your kind letter that you sent to me.

We have marched once to meet the rebels but we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting them. We was about 2 or 3 hours too late. Our company came in from picket last Sunday. We had been out 3 days and we turned in about 9 o’clock and about 11 we was turned out and told to pack our knapsacks and be ready to march in one hour and we was in less time and we went about 5 miles and stayed about 24 hours and then we came back to camp. We got three prisoners and sent them into Washington and I wish we could of had a little brush with them just to see what the Monitors could of done with them.

You must give my love to all of the folks and tell Sophia Edwards that I am a going to write a line or two to her one of these days. William Miller is well and he sends his love to you and all of the folk.

I had a letter from home the other night and it had the picture of a farmer in and I suppose it was father but it is long since I see a man with a frock on that I didn’t hardly know who it was. You wrote to me that you hoped that I had as good dinner Christmas as you did and I hope that you had as good dinner New Years as I did for I didn’t have anything but a cup of coffee. Not a mouthful of anything else.

I can’t write much more this time but you must give my love to Lib and the children and tell Billy I guess I will fetch them something if I ever come home if it anything but a sugar toy.

I can’t write no more this time so I will say good night. Write soon. This is from a friend. Yours as ever, — Jonathan A. Bennett


Letter 13

Fairfax [Court House]
Picket Duty
January 12, 1863

Dear Friends,

I received a letter from you the other night and I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well and I hope that these few lines will find you still so, I am well and on picket about 8 miles from camp.

You wanted to know whether I got your picture or not and I will tell you I did and I got one dollar in the same letter and then a got another letter the other night and that had one more dollar in.

I don’t know of much news to write—only we had a hard storm last night and it was pretty cold to stand out in, I bet. William and Josiah Miller is well and they send their love to you and all of the folks. Captain [Abram] De Bevoise has resigned and we haven’t got no captain now but I expect that our 1st Lieutenant will be our captain.

Tuesday, January 13, 1863

I am in camp today and I feel old, I tell you. The news is in the camp this morning that Colonel [William] Gurney is a trying to make out in Washington that we are 9 months men but I don’t think that them news is true but I hope that they be. I heard that Lyman had got home and if he has, I am glad of it. But he don’t know what a soldier’s life is but I suppose that he will try to make out that he does and I suppose that I can tell him more about a soldier’s life that he ever thought of. If he had of been on picket with us one time, he would of thought something, I bet.

We have got some brass shoulder plates to put on our shoulders I expect and they say that we are a going to all have new light-colored blue pants. And they say that we are a going to Washington for to guard that [place]. I hope that we shall go.

I don’t hear anything about the war ever ending and I don’t know as it ever will end. I hear that Jeff Davis says that they are better prepared for war than they was a year ago and can stand it longer and I guess it is true. Give my love to the girls and tell that boy that his brother will be at home one of these days to drill him and make a soldier of him if he wants to be one for I think he would like it very much.

Father, I wish that you would send me another little box of things. I will tell you what I want. I want a little tea and a little sugar and a rotten brick and a little chalk to rub brass with and a little butter and a roast chicken or two if you have got them to spare, and a bag of sausage and anything else that you want to send. And I will put a few lines in this letter for Mr. Hunting. I want him to send me a little tobacco if he will and I want you to send the box as soon as you can if you send it.

You must excuse this bad writing and answer it as soon as you can. I can’t write no more this time so I will say good day. Yours as ever, — Jonathan A. Bennett


Letter 14

Camp Bliss
January 25, 1863

Dear Father,

As it is Sunday today, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that they will find you the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present—only the Boys is all well and send their love to you.

I have been on picket for the 3 last days past and we had very bad weather. It rained about all of the time and it is awful muddy, I tell you. I used to think sometimes when I was to home that there was some mud but it is nothing to what we have here. But I don’t expect that it is anything to what they had here last winter.

I had a letter from home the other night and I was glad to hear from home. The letter had 50 cents in and I was glad of that too. I don’t expect that we shall stay here much longer but I don’t know. Some thinks that we shall go to Washington for guards and if we do, we shall stay 9 months anyway, if the war lasts so long. You wrote that you was a going to send a box but I don’t know but you will think that I shan’t get it [if we move]. But it won’t make any difference. You can send it just the same.

Jonathan’s description of his new uniform seems to match this image which means it must have been taken about February 1863.

We have got new light blue pants and brass scales on our shoulders and we are a going to have new hats with a trumpet it them and then we are a going to have the coat of arms on our breast.

You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it for yourself. Bill Miller and Josiah sends their love to you and Bill says he can whittle yet and Josiah says he can quiver [masturbate] as big as ever. I be going to have my likeness taken one of these days and send it home. Mr. Sam Ranger says you must give his love to his folks and you must give my love to Annie and tell her that I am a bad soul and as hard as ever.

I had a letter from George Bennett the other night and he said that everything was lovely around there. Cousin George Bennett was in our camp the other day and he was fat as a pig. He said that he would like to see you. You must excuse this bad writing and write as often as you can. Give my love to mother and the girls and tell Rosa that I would like to hear from er. I can write no more this time so I must say goodbye for this time. Yours as ever, — Jonathan A. Bennett


Letter 15

Camp Bliss
February 2, 1863

Dear Mother,

As I have a few moments to spare, I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these will find you the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present but I guess that I will make out something. The boys is all well and send their love to you. Bill and Josiah [Miller] is on guard today. They have just been to dinner and they had to carry on a spell before they could go back.

The box came last Tuesday and I was on picket but came in camp the next day and I found it all right. It came through all right and very quick. Tom got his things and Mr. S. Ranger got his and I got mine and I was glad to get them. I have been on drill this forenoon and I expect that I have got to go again this afternoon. We have had some hard weather here but it is better today than we have had before in 5 or 6 days.

I heard that there had been a party to Edwin Edwards’s and Charles Myer went and he went home with Rebecca Bennett and I think that he was in good business. You must give my love to the girls and to Dr. and to the swamp boys and to Anna and to all of the folks. I wrote a letter to Sophia Edwards the other day and I don’t know whether I shall get an answer to it or not and I don’t much care.

Our 1st Lieutenant [Jesse G.] Raynor has got his wife here and I ain’t seen him but once since she come but our 2nd Lieutenant I see any time I am a mind to. Me and he has some fun together once in awhile. He drills us once in awhile and he says that I am the best drilled man in the company. His name is Charles [P.] Cook from Sag Harbor. He is a real clever feller.

You wrote about my money and I want you to do the best you can wit hit and if I live to get home, I will do all I can for you. I heard that Wilson King’s wife had a girl and I think that she was in a hurry, don’t you? You must give my love to Rebecca Bennett and to Let Baker and tell Let that Bill Miller sends his love to her.

I don’t hear anything about the war ending but I guess it will end pretty soon but I don’t know. I wish it would end just for the sake of poor folks but I had just as leave be here as anywhere else. It don’t make any difference to me for I can make myself contented just as well here as anywhere else. Give my love to Lyman and tell him that I say that he don’t know anything about a soldier’s life but I expect that he tried to make out that he did.

Here is a song in this letter for Maggie. You must excuse this bad writing and answer it as soon as you can and write as often as you can for I like to hear from home. I can’t write no more this time so I must say goodbye for this time. Write soon. This is from your obedient servant, — Jonathan A. Bennett

Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. S. V., Monitors. Washington D. C., Upton Hill Camp Bliss


Letter 16

Camp Bliss
February 3, 1863

Dear Father,

As I have a few moments to spare, I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I had a letter from you last night and I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. I heard that Letta Bubaker was in the fashion [pregnant] and I heard that she laid it on me as Bill Miller and I felt quite proud of it and you wrote that Anna had got most tired of waiting and she thought that one of the same name would do just as well and I don’t know what you meant exactly and I wish that you would write and tell me all about it for I should like to know a little about it. I have heard something about it before and I don’t know what to think about it. I know I am some worse off but I can hear some things that is a going on at home for I have got an old friend there that knows something that is a going on and I have a letter from him once in awhile.

I can’t write much this time for it is so cold that I can’t hardly hold on to the pen and you must excuse this bad writing. The boys is all well and send their love to you and you must give my love to all of the folks and tell them that I am a soldier boy. You must write and tell me all of the news for I want to hear from all of them. Bill is a writing and laughing all of the time. He is writing to you but I don’t know what he is a writing but I expect that he is a writing all about it.

I had a letter from Little George King and he wrote that everything was lovely around there and I am glad of it. But I do not wish I was there for I had rather be here if all of the stories is true that I hear. I didn’t expect to be a daddy so soon. I had no thoughts about it for I never did anything as I know of more than piss up against one of them trees out in front of the house. But I don’t know but she got it from that. Ann wrote to me that Selah and Nate Lester and John Bennett sent their love to me and I wish that you would give me my love to them.

I can’t write more this time so I must say good night for this time. This is from J. A. Bennett

Write soon as you get this and tell me all that is a going on around there. Goodbye.


Letter 17

Camp Gurney
February 15, 1863

Dear Father,

I now take the opportunity of writing to you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I had a letter from you the other night with 1 dollar in and I had another last night. And you said that I must send my likeness or else I must send the dollar back. And now I will tell you I did not need the money for we have got paid for four months and I am a going to send some of it to you and I want you to do the best that you can with it. I shan’t send it all in this letter but I will put a little in every letter that I send.

We have moved twice since I wrote a letter. We went about five miles and then we stopped and pitched our tents and we stayed there 48 hours and then we struck our tents again and started on another march and we went about 4 miles and then we pitched our tents again. And we have been here one night but I don’t know how long we shall stay here but I guess that this a pretty good place.

It is a rain storm today and Bill and Josiah [Miller] is on guard. They are both well and send their love to you and you must give my love to all of the folks and tell Anna that I say she must not think hard of me for I don’t of her for I think just as much of her as ever I did. And you must tell her that I say not to lay anything to you for it didn’t come from you. It come from the Springs. But I shan’t say who it came from for he doesn’t want me to tell and I shan’t. But never mind, I will be at home myself one of these days. Tell Anna that I shall write to her just as often and I don’t care a damn whether she writes to me or not. Tell Rose that I shall send her a letter pretty soon and Lid too. And tell Lid that I guess I like this war better than I should home made war for I don’t think I should like that very well.

Mr. S. Ranger has just come in my tent and he says that I must send his love to you and tell you to give it to his folks and he says I must tell you that we have got in amongst the mountains and hills. I am a going to send a letter to Anna tomorrow and I hope that I shan’t make her any madder for I don’t want her to come back on you. If she wants to come on me, let her come for I ain’t afraid of her, not any other girl that ain’t no bigger than she is.

The boys is all happy as they can be. I hope that they will keep so for I have got almost tired of seeing homesick fellers. You must excuse this bad writing and write as soon as you can. I must say good day. Yours as ever, — J. A. Bennett


Letter 18

Camp Gurney near Cloud’s Mills, Virginia
March 23, 1863

Dear Father,

I again sit myself to pen a few lines to you to let you know that I have not forgot you and how you must work. If you want me to get a furlough to come home on, our Colonel won’t give any furloughs without he sees a letter that comes from home and then he won’t without some of the folks is very sick at home and if you are a mind to and want to see me enough to make out a story and write it to me and then I will go and show it to him. But if you do so, you must tell how some of the family is very sick—you or Mother—and say that they are very low and make it out good and slick, but don’t write anything so he will mistrust any other way, and don’t write it as if you thought he was a going to see it.

And if you write it, I won’t let it be known by no means whatever. I wish that you would write so for I want to come home very much and that is all the way I can get home. Now do write so, won’t you please, for if you was here and I was where you be, I would do so. And if you want to see me very much, you will. You needn’t be afraid to do it, and if you do, I want you to send $10 dollars with it. Some of the boys is a going to come home by the same way that I spoke of. They had letters from home that their mother was sick and all of the time the was well. And if you write so, you can put it on a piece of paper and then you can write on another piece what you are a mind to and I won’t let him see that nor no one else. And if you do, write as soon as you can before to many gets ahead of me. Write as soon as you get this and as soon as I get the letter, I will go to work.

I will tell you how I should write it by and bye. Give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it yourself. I won’t write much more this time but you must write as soon as you get this.

Now I will you how to write what I am a going to show the Colonel if you do write. It should begin:

East Hampton
March so and so

Dear Son,

I now sit down to write a few lines to let you know how we all get along. I am very lame but I am in hopes I shall get better pretty soon and your mother is very sick and we don’t know as she will live for the doctor says she is very low and I wish you could come home and see her if you can [even] if you don’t stay more than a week for she feels bad about you to think she can’t see you. And I wish that you would go to your Colonel and see if he won’t let you come a little while and I guess he will if you will promise him that you will be back when the time is up.

Now father, you can do as you are a mind to about doing so but if you won’t, I shall think you don’t want to see me very much. Don’t let anyone see this. From– J. A. Bennett


Letter 19

Vienna, Virginia
April 2, 1863

Dear Father,

I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that you are all the same. I don’t know of much news to write—only I can tell you a little about our march. Last Saturday night we had orders to march and we started about dark and we went 8 miles and stopped at Falls Church all night and we laid out all night and the next morning we started again and we marched almost all day and that night we pitched our little tents and the next day we had to start again and we marched 1 mile and pitched our tents again. And we are here yet.

We had to cut wood all of the first night after we got here so that artillery could get a range on a road and we don’t know what hour the Rebs will come up on us. We are a digging rifle pits and doing picket duty. We are to the front now and I am glad of it. I hope the Rebs will come for I want to see them. We have very bad weather. It rains and snows and thunder and lightning a most all of the time and it is awful muddy. We have just come in from picket. We are close to Bull Run and they say that Stonewall is in Bull Run Mountains and I hope we shall see him.

You must excuse bad writing for I am in a hurry. Write soon as you can. This is from J. A. B.


Letter 20

Camp near Vienna, Virginia
April 2, 1863

Dear Father,

I have got a few moments to spare once more so I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you. Now I will tell you what I wish you would so with my money if you can. I wish you would go and see Charles P. Dayton and ask him if he will try to get me a commission and take my money to pay for it. I don’t expect that he will do it for nothing and I don’t want him to. You know he got one for Dave Shary and I guess he will for me. I don’t care ig it takes all I have got for if I can get a Lieutenant’s berth, I can get enough to make it up pretty soon for they get from 80 to 100 dollars a month and if they don’t like it, they can resign and come home. And if you will set him to work, I guess he will get it, I don’t care if he gets it in a nigger regiment, it don’t make no difference to me. I think that he will get it if you pay him well for I guess he likes money well enough and I think he will try for me. If I was to home, I would not ask you to do it for if I know as much as I do now, I could do it. Now I wish you would go and see him and see what he says and then write and let me know. You need not be afraid of spending my money for it will be all for my good and then I can do just as I like, I can stay or I can come home. But as I am now, I have got to stay anyway.

William Miller wants you to try for him too and if he can get them together, I wish he would. But if he can’t, we will take them anywhere. I wish you would write as soon as you can and let me know what he will do about it. I can’t think of no news but if you hear any, you must write. Give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it yourself. I can’t write no more at present so I must say goodbye.

This is from J. A. Bennett

Write soon as you find out what he will do about it. See him as soon as you can. Write soon. Write soon. Write soon.


Letter 21

Camp in the orchard, Vienna, Virginia
April 3, 1863

Dear Mother,

I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that you are the same. I don’t know of much news. I wrote a letter to father yesterday and after I got it put in the envelope. I took a letter out of my pocket and looked at it and then I laid it down and one of my tent mates picked it up and put it in the envelope with fathers and he didn’t tell me anything about it till it had gone and then it was too late to take it out. But I don’t care anything about it. I had just as leave you would see it. You must give my love to all of the folks and tell them when I get my commission, I will come and see them. Tell father to get mr one if he can. Tell him to try for me before he does for Bill and tell him yp do it as soon as he can and let me know what he says.

I shall send this in Mr. S. Ranger’s because I can’t get no postage stamps. I can’t write no more till I get some. This will have to be the last one till I get some stamps so you will have to make much of this. I can’t write no more so I will say goodbye.

From — J. A. Bennett

Write soon.


Letter 22

Camp Little near Vienna [Virginia]
April 10, 1863

Dear Father,

I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I had a letter from you today and I was very glad to hear from you. And I had a letter from Sophia Edwards and she said that Louisa Seaburg was dead and I was sorry to hear the bad news for she was the nicest girl that I know of on Long Island and I was in hopes that we should live to meet once more, But if she is dead, I don’t never expect to meet her on earth but I hope that we shall meet in heaven. You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it yourself. Josiah and Bill [Miller] send their love to you and all of the folks.

I don’t know of much news to write but I seen some of the Virginia First Cavalry go by here today and they had four rebel soldiers with them and they was hard-looking fellers. I don’t no much about what is a going on down south but I expect they will have some hot work when they get to it and I don’t know but we shall be with them and I don’t care much for I had just as leave be there as here although it is a very pleasant place here when it is good weather. But we have got a good deal of wet, cold weather. I would liked to be to home for the town meeting day but I was not there. But we had a good time. I will tell you what we was a doing. We come in from picket in the morning and after dinner, we went out five of us about two miles and stole one sheep and 5 chickens and a goose and carried them in the woods and dressed them and cooked them and then we carried them in camp and asked the officers to come and eat with us. And we had good times. I suppose that you will think we are bad boys but I will tell you that soldiers is bound to live as long as they can find anything in the Rebel states for if they see anything that they want, they will have it for all of everybody.

The other night some of our boys got a calf somewhere and they had a big time with him. And he went first rate, I tell you/ we have some good times and some hard times. we are in the Rebel land and I hope that we shall have a chance to have a brush with them. Bill says that he has just got contented to stay here now. He ain’t had a letter from home in 4 weeks and he says that he begins to think that they don’t care anything about him. He is as happy as they make them in our days. you must excuse bad writing and write when you can and write all the news.

Now Father, if you can get me a commission, I wish you would as soon as you can. Don’t spare my money. If you can get one, write and let me know about it as soon as you can. Bill Miller says he has for got all of his old tricks about the the rAlston trees and so on. I can’t write no more this time so I will say goodbye for this time. Write soon, from Johnny.

When this is you see
Remember me
J. A. B.

Write soon as you can if you please.


Letter 23

Camp near Suffolk, Virginia
April 19, 1863

Dear Father,

I thought I would write a few as I have an opportunity. We have left Camp Gurney and we are 225 miles further south. we are close to the rebs and more than 1 mile off of them and we shall have a brush with them before long. They are a skirmishing with our pickets all of the time and one of our gunboats is a sending shells in amongst them all of the time. I have seen some of them today. We have been here two days. We came on a transport.

The boys is all well and so be I. It is as hot here now as it was there last summer. It is very pleasant. You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share of it for yourself.

I don’t know of much news but you must write as often as you can and I will do the same. I don’t have much time but I will write as often as I can. Bill and Josiah [Miller] has gone on picket tonight. You must write and tell me what Charles Dayton says and if he gets it. You can send it to me and I will do the best I can with it. I hope you won’t be ashamed about me for I ain’t at all afraid. Tell the folks to write when they can and I will do the same.

I can’t write much about our moving now. I will tell you all about it when I write again. You must direct as you always do and I shall get them. It will take longer to come to us now, I expect.

Mr. Samuel Ranger is well and sends his love to you and he says you must give it to his folks. I wish you could see what troops we have got here. They say that we have 90,000 here and that makes a bog army but that ain’t half that there is in the states but they cover over some ground, I tell you. I suppose that you have heard of the Black Water and we are close to them in the Dismal Swamp, as they call it.

I can’t write no more this time so I will wait and say goodbye this time. This is from J. A. Bennett

Write soon as you can.


Letter 24

Camp near Suffolk, Virginia
April 27, 1863

Dear Father,

I again take the pleasure of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that you are the same. I don’t know much news to write. I suppose that you have heard of the Dismal Swamp. I am on picket in it, close to the Jericho Canal. This swamp is the thickest one that I ever seen and they say that it is 60 miles across it and I don’t know how long it is but it goes way through into the state of North Carolina. I expect that we shall have a brush with the rebs pretty soon for they say that Old Stonewall has got here with 30,000 and they had about 20,000 before and we have got about 100,000 here and we are well fortified and if he does try us, we will have some fun.

You must give my love to all the folks and write as often as you can and I will do the same. We have signed the pay rolls today for pay and I guess we shall get paid off before long. but I don’t expect that I can send it home for they say that the express won’t take it and I don’t know as the mail will. Josiah and Bill [Miller] sends their love to you. I hope that you will see Mr. Dayton before long for I want to know what he says.

April 28, 1863

We have got relieved from picket and moved a little further out towards the rebs. It is a rainstorm today. We are encamped close to the rifle pits now—not more than 2 rods off. I wish that you could see the forts and rifle fits. It would make you open your eyes, I guess.

You must give my love to all of the folks and tell them I should be very glad to hear from them once in awhile. Mr. Ranger is well—all but a cold. He has got a bad cold but I guess it won’t hold on long. The boys all seems to be in good health and good cheer and they seem to love the good old flag as well as ever and the Lord knows I do and I hope you do. I expect that you have heard all about what is going on here. I can’t write no more this time. So goodbye. write soon. Yours truly, — Jonathan A. Bennett, Co. K, 127th Regt.

Direct as you always do.


Letter 25

Camp near West Point, Virginia
May 24, 1863

Dear Mother,

I thought I must write a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same, I had a letter from you the other night and I was glad to get it. You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share for yourself. I don’t know of any news to tell you this time but I hope that I shall the next time I write if it is good news.

The boat that brings our mail was fired into yesterday by the rebs but not much hurt and one ball hit her. Bill and Josiah [Miller] sends their love to you and all of the folks. It is awful hot here, I tell you. I expect that we have got to go on picket tomorrow and I hope we shall for we will have bully times, I guess. If the rebs don’t come to see us and if we do, will do the best we can with them.

Mr. Ranger is well ad he sends his love to you and all of the folks. Uncle Nate sends his love to you but he ain’t very well.

We have been here about three weeks and I don’t see but what we shall stay some time. I wish that you would get the children’s pictures on cards and send them to me and yours too for I would like to have them very much. I don’t expect that you can get them without you get 4 but never mind, you can get the three children together and yours alone. You can take some of my money if you want any to get them with. And I wish you would send them as soon as you can.

I can’t write much more this time so I must say goodbye. Write soon and I will do the same. This is from J. A. B.

Please hand this to Anna’s father and that’s all.


Letter 26

Camp near west Point, Virginia
May 16, 1863

My Dear Father,

I thought I must write a few lines as I have a few moments to spare. I had a letter from you last night and I was very glad to get it and I was glad to hear that you was all well. The boys is all well, I believe, and in good health and good spirits. I haven’t got that paper that you sent me with them buttons in and I wish you would send another for I want some buttons very much. William and Josiah [Miller] send their love to you and all of the folks.

I don’t know of any news to write for I expect that you hear more in one day than I do in one week. You must give my love to all of the folks and tell Rose to write to me and I will to her. Mr. Ranger has just come in my tent and he says I must send his love to you.

You said that you had seen Mr. Dayton and he was a going to write a letter to our Colonel but it ain’t any use for him to write to him for he won’t want me to leave the regiment for he wants to keep all the men he has got. But I think that he can get me one [a commission] without writing to him if he is a mind to, don’t you?

We have been out a cutting wood today to stop the rebel cavalry and artillery. But I don’t think they will ever try to get here. If they do, they will find the “Monitors” here and some heavy works for them to face and they will find some of Uncle Sam’s blue pills [bullets] after them.

I can’t write no more this time so I will say goodbye. Yours truly, — J. A. Bennett

Write soon and send me some postage stamps if you please.


Letter 27

West Point, Virginia
June 1, 1863

Dear Father,

I now take the pleasure of writing a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I expect that we shall leave here tonight or tomorrow but I don’t know where we are a going to—some good place I hope. They say that Vicksburg is ours and I hope it is. I don’t know of much news to write this time but I hope the next time I write I can say that the war is almost over. But I don’t expect that I can say so. I am in hopes that the summer will close it up. For my part, I have got enough of soldiering for the present, although I am willing to do my duty in defense of my country. They say that Hooker is a going to try again and see what he can do and I hope he will have good success and go through [to Richmond] this time.

I got a letter from you the other night and I was very glad to hear from you and hear that you was all well and alive. You must give my love to the children and mother and to all of the folks. The letter that I got had some postage stamps and I had one before with some in. You wrote that Mrs. Samuel Ranger had a letter with $10 in. He sent that and he was very glad that you spoke about it for he wanted to hear from home very much. I had a letter from Elizabeth the same time I had one from you. She said that the foks was all well around there except the measles. You can tell Mr. Dayton that I don’t care anything about his trying to get me a commission for I can do just as much good for my country where I am but I wish he was in my place.

I will write again as soon as I can and let you know where we are. You must write as often as you can and direct as usual. I haven’t got much time to write any more so I must say goodbye for the present. I will put one dollar in this letter. write soon. Yours truly, — J. A. Bennett

The boys is all well and send their love to you. Goodbye. Write soon.


Letter 28

Camp Howland
Yorktown, Virginia
June 6, 1863

Dear Father,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same as it leaves me. I don’t know of much news to write but I thought I must write something.

When I wrote before, we was at West Point and now we are at Yorktown. And how long we shall stay, I can’t tell. I had a letter from you Thursday and I was very glad to hear from you and hear that you was all well. You must give my love to all of the folks and tell them I should like to hear from them once in awhile.William and Josiah [Miller] is well and send their love to you. I heard that you had had a big fire in East Hampton. Mr. Ranger sends his love to you and to all of the folks. He is well as common, I believe, and all of the boys except Alvin Clark. He is very sick but I hope he will get better pretty soon.

It is a very pleasant place here and awful hot and a plenty of niggers too. I wish that you could see some of them and hear them talk. I bet that it would make you laugh some.

You wrote that you would send me the children’s pictures as soon as you could get them and I wish you would for I would like to see them very much and I would like to have mother’s too. You must excuse bad writing and write as soon as you can and I will do the same. I can’t write much more this time but I will write again as soon as I can and you must do the same. Give my love to all of the folks. Write soon.

I will now say goodbye. Yours truly, — J. A. Bennett

Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. S. V., Washington D. C., or to follow the regiment.

I will send each of the children a leaf for a book mark in remembrance of me. — J. A. B.


Letter 29

[Note: This letter is from the New York Digital Collections]

James City, Virginia
Sunday, June 21, 1863

Dear Brother,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. The boys is all well, I believe, and sends their love to you. You must give my love to all the folks and take a good share for yourself. I had a letter from you the other day and I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. I don’t know of much news to write—only it is very warm today and so it is every day.

You wrote that you was not afraid of the draft but we will wait till it comes and then we will see. But I hope that it won’t take you if you don’t want to come. The bugle has just blowed for meeting ad some of the boys has gone but I thought I must write to you so I didn’t go.

William Miller is a writing to you for the first time, I guess, but I don’t know. You said in your last letter that Sophie was a going to send one that day but I haven’t got it yet. But I hope I shall pretty soon. I had a letter from father the other day and it had mother’s picture and the childrens in. I was glad to see them and I wish that you would get yours and Elizabeth’s and send to me for I want to see you very much and I will send you the money if you will get them. I wish you would send them as soon as you can. I had rather have them on a card if you can get them. Never mind the cost. I will pay you for them. Please get them.

You must give my love to Uncle George and Aunt Lucy and all of the Sag [Harbor] folks that you know. You must excuse bad writing and write as soon as you can and as often as you can and I will do the same. I can’t write no more this time so I will say goodbye.

Yours as ever, — J. A. Bennett

Write soon.


Letter 30

[Note: This letter is from the New York Digital Collections]

Camp near the Warrington Junction, Va.
July 28, 1863

Dear Brother,

It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that they will find you the same. It is some time since I wrote to you last but I can’t help it. We have been on a march for the last three weeks but we are in camp now and I hope we shall stay a spell. We are in the Army of the Potomac now and in the First Brigade and First Division and the 11th Army Corps. We joined them the next day after the Battle of Gettysburg so we wasn’t in the fight.

You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share for yourself. I expect that the draft will raise the Old boy with some of the boys around there but it won’t hurt them to come out here no more than it does us. We are a going to have 300 [recruits] in our regiment. We have sent for them now and I expect that they will be along pretty soon. We have very warm weather here the most of the time but it is cloudy today and very cool.

You wrote that you had been a huckleberrying and was a going to have a pudding and some peas for dinner and I wish I could have some but instead of having them, I have to eat hard tack and meat and coffee. That is all we get when we are on a march but when we are in camp we live very well. We have fresh meat 4 times a week and beans every day and stewed apples three times a week and soup 4 times a week and coffee twice a day and whiskey twice a week so we get along very well.

I don’t know of any news to write. If I did, I would write it. You must write as soon as you can and tell me all of the news. I hope I shall be at home with you by next New Years and then I will be all right, I bet. You must excuse bad writing and write soon. I can’t write no more this time and I can’t send no more letters till I get some postage stamps and them I can’t get here so I will say goodbye. Yours truly, — J. Bennett

To G. W. B.


Letter 31

[Note: This letter is from the New York Digital Collections]

God damn the Rebellion
Camp near the White House, Va.
July 4, 1863

Dear Brother,

I now take the pleasure of writing to you to let you know that I am well and I hope you are the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present but you must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share for yourself. I wish that I was at home today to help keep the Fourth. I had a letter from you the other night and I was very glad to get it and I got them pictures the same time and I was glad to see them. I expect that you are in to the hay today, but don’t I wish I was where I could be. But I am not.

The report is that we are a going to leave the White house [Landing] but I don’t know where we are going. We are about 20 miles from Richmond now but I guess if we move, we shall go back again. Some of the troops has gone on but I don’t know how far. You must excuse bad writing for I am in a hurry for I haven’t got much time. It is hot enough to kill all the devils out of hell for it is hotter here that it is in hell, I know. I can’t write much more this time so I must say goodbye. This is from J. A. B.

To G, W. B.

Write soon as you can.


Letter 32

Co. K, 127th Regt. N. Y. S. V.
Army of the Potomac
August 3, 1863

Dear friends,

It is with pleasure that I write to you to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. I don’t know of much news to write at present—only it is awful hot but that ain’t no news to me, I tell you. I thought that I had seen hot weather before I come here but I never. We have marched 9 miles this forenoon but we are in camp now. But I don’t know how long we shall stay here but I hope we shall stay a day or two for we have been on a march the most of the time for the last month.

August the first we all had to go to see a man shot. He belonged to the 57th Regiment New York Vols. He was shot for desertion. I expect that you will see it in the Herald for I see it today in the Herald dated August the first. You must give my love to all of the folks and take a good share for yourself. We are between Alexandria and Warrington, not far from the Alexandria & Orange Railroad at Cat Lick [Catlett’s] Station.

I can’t put any stamp on this letter for I haven’t got any. I wish that you would send me some. I haven’t got that ring yet but I guess that I shall. I have got the comb and I was glad to see it. William and Josiah [Miller] sends their love to you and all of the folks.

You must excuse bad writing and write as often as you can and I will try to do the same. I guess that I have got all of the stamps that you have sent. I can’t [write] no more this time so I will say goodbye. Bill says that I must tell you what he is a doing. He is a eating sugar and water with some hard tack crumbed in it. Now I will say goodbye again.

This is from—J. A. Bennett

Write soon. Direct as before.


Letter 33

Camp on Folly Island, [South Carolina]
September 2, 1863

Dear Father,

I now seat myself for the purpose of writing to one that should be so glad to [see]. I received your letter and was very glad to hear from you all. I have not got anything new to write. The boys are all well and send their love to you all. I suppose you have got the other letter that I sent to you and you know that we are to South Carolina. There is nothing on this island, only a few bushes and a plenty of sand. We are close to the surf now where we can go in a swimming every day and have lots of fun. What does the folks think about the war at home? Do they think there is any prospect of it ever ending? I hope it will soon end for my part. The boys all seem to think that they will get home by spring and I hope we shall.

I got the pocket handkerchief that you sent. We don’t hear anything here about the war. We can’t get ay newspapers here. We can hear the guns from Morris Island but we don’t hear a word from there. We don’t know what they are firing at and what it amounts to. When we was in Virginia we could hear everyday, but now we are in sight f Charleston, we don’t hear a word. I think they will take it after awhile and I hope before long.

You must give my love to all the folks and tell them to write, It is pleasant today. We don’t have very hot weather here. It is not half so hot here as it was in Virginia. we have the sea breezes. We have not had much drilling yet since we got here. I suppose we shall have to make up for all of this pretty soon.

Bill Miller sends his love to you and all the rest. He says that he wants the war to end so he can get something to eat besides wormy hard tack. We have had poor hard bread. We can’t lay a cake down and leave it. If we do, it will run away. I want you to send me a half a quire of writing paper and some envelopes and a pocket knife. I don’t know of anything more this time. Josiah is well and sends his love to all. Give my love to Captain Miller and the family and tell them once in awhile. Give my love to Anna and all the rest. And tell them that Jamey is well and sends his love to them. I don’t know of anything new to write this time. I hope the next time that I write, I can tell you that Charleston is taken and the war ended. You must write every chance and not wait for we can’t send letters every day from here [even] if we had time to write them. I can’t write any more now. Be sure and write soon and believe me as ever your son, — Jonathan A. Bennett