Category Archives: 148th New York Infantry

1864: Richard Chapman to Adam S. Miller

These letters were written by 19 year-old Richard Chapman who enlisted on 15 August 1862 to serve in Co. B. 148th New York Infantry for three years. His health failed him, however, and he died at the Fortress Monroe Hospital on 2 September 1864. The letters were addressed to Adam S. Miller of Starkey, Yates county, New York, who enlisted in the company at the same time as Chapman but mustered out of the regiment on 8 January 1864 for disability.

Richard’s two letters were written at the time of Gen. Isaac J. Wistar’s raid on Richmond in February 1864. The following partial newspaper extract published in the Daily Press on 14 February 2014 describes the raid:

Sometime about 10 a.m. on Feb. 6, 1864, the road leading west from Williamsburg began to rumble under the weight of one of the largest Union raids ever aimed at the Confederate capital in Richmond. Nearly 7,000 bluecoats moved out in an ambitious expedition led by Yorktown commander Brig. Gen. Isaac J. Wistar—more soldiers than the area had seen since the Army of the Potomac attacked retreating Confederates in the May 1862 Battle of Williamsburg.

Sparked by the plight of hundreds of captured Federal officers held in Richmond’s notorious Libby Prison, the mission became more urgent after Union spies got word of a planned transfer to the newly built yet soon-to-be-infamous Confederate POW camp in Andersonville, Ga. Two Southern deserters had described the defenses at Bottoms Bridge as lightly manned, too—and they’d confirmed their reliability through a late 1863 raid that brought nearly 100 prisoners back from Charles City County, writes Carol Kettenburg Dubbs in “Defend this Old Town: Williamsburg During the Civil War.”

Despite the efforts of Wistar and Williamsburg Col. Robert M. West to keep their preparations secret, however, the advance units of 2,200 Union cavalry “found the enemy (at Bottoms Bridge) posted in strong force, and continually receiving accessions by railroad” when they arrived early the following morning, Wistar reported. Nine troopers were killed or wounded attempting to force a crossing, after which Wistar—recognizing that he’d lost the advantage of surprise—reluctantly ordered his men to withdraw. “It was a very good plan — and they had a sizable force to carry it out. But the Confederates knew they were coming,” says Carson Hudson, author of “Civil War Williamsburg.”

“Even before their return, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler at Fort Monroe discovered from a Richmond newspaper that a Union deserter had given them up—and he was just livid. “Butler offered to exchange any number of prisoners to get him back. But the Confederates wouldn’t.”

Letter 1

Headquarters [Isaac J.] Wistar’s Brigade
Butler’s Division, 18th Army Corps
Department of Virginia & North Carolina
148th Regt. N. Y. S. Vol. Infantry
Yorktown, Virginia
February 8, 1864

Friend Adam,

Thinking perhaps that a few lines from an old friend & used to be brother soldier would not come amiss, I thought I would write to you and let you know how we are getting along. The regiment has gone out on another raid—or expedition rather. They started last Friday at half past 2 o’clock with six days rations in their knapsacks & some took their rubber blankets & shelter tents & overcoats & a pair of socks, & there was the regiments of Colored Troops & Battery L & the 1st Rhode Island Battery & two other batteries and five regiments of cavalry & the 16th New York Heavy Artillery, & the 118th N. Y. S. Vol. Infantry & the 139th N. Y. S. Vol. Infantry, & the 25th Massachusetts Vol. & several other regiments. They were commanded by Brig. Gen. Wistar & they left here at 3 o’clock p.m. Friday 7 arrived at Williamsburg that night at 9 o’clock. At 12 M. that night they left Williamsburg for the mouth of the James river where they expected to meet Maj. Gen. Butler with about thirty-three thousand men and with the force that they had, they will number at least fifty thousand men. They had a nice little squad of them, don’t you think so? The report is that they are going to try & take a very large fort at what is called Bottom’s Bridge about fourteen miles this side of Richmond. if they succeed in taking it, they are going on further.

There is but nine of us left here. All the invalids were left here to take care of the camp & I will tell you their names commencing with Andrew Morrison [age 29], George Winans [age 46], David Griswold [age 46], David Hughes [age 46], Andrew Bradley [age 45], John H. Tymeson [age 22], Thomas H. Little [age 19], Lyman A. Stoll [age 24], and myself. My health is not very good at present. I caught a heavy cold and it settled in my right side & I have been very lame for some time but am some better now.

Ben [Grace] was enjoying good health when he left but I fear that he will never see Yorktown again for this season. Joseph Decker [age 46] & A[lexander] P. Houghtailing [age 22] has just come back. They gave out & were ordered back by the doctor & they say that Ben fell out. He could not keep up with the regiment but they say he is following up the regiment and if that is the case, he will probably be taken by the guerrillas which the country is full of & you know how they will be treated by them as well as I do.

After the regiment got to Williamsburg, the next morning the whole brigade were ordered in line & the orders were read to them by Gen. Wistar & they were as follows—that they would see long and forced marched & calm and severe fighting & I would give one month’s pay to be well & be with them.

Well, Adam, please write & tell me how you are getting along & if you got your bounty or not & all about your going home & all the news in general. The boys all send their best respects to you & I the same.

I remain as ever yours truly &c., — Richard Chapman

P. S. Excuse haste and all mistakes & direct as before, Yours &c. — R. Chapman


Letter 2

Headquarters 148th N. Y. Vol.
Yorktown, Va.
February 24, 1864

Friend Adam,

It is with great pleasure that I received your kind letter but was very sorry to hear that you had been sick again. I was in hopes that you would get well after you got home & I do really hope that you will.

The boys all came back safe but not very sound for they were all lame & had sore feet & the raid did not amount to much. They killed one Rebel Colonel & one corporal and one private and captured twenty-five men and about as many horses & they were gone four days and a half and marched one hundred and thirty-four miles. They went within ten miles of Richmond but it was the means of a great number of our Union prisoners at Richmond escaping & getting safe into the Union lines.

Well, Adam, you wanted to know where Randall G. Bacon is. Well he is at or near Fort Norfolk. He has command of the recruits that they have enlisted. He is 1st Lieutenant & expects something higher after the regiment [38th USCT] is formed. And John Morrison [age 45] is at Fort Monroe in the hospital & he has been very sick with the fever but is getting better. Ben [Grace] & Roy [Tubbs] are to bed a laughing and raising the old harry as bad as ever & they send their best respects to you & John Knapp the same.

The boys are all enjoying good health except John Clark. 1 He is pretty sick. Well, Adam, we have got two new recruits in our company & one of them is Charley Gabriel’s [18 year-old] brother [George] & the other one’s name is [William W.] “Roberts.”

I am on guard today and No. 1 on the relief & I have stood three tricks. Captain is feeling well now and he uses us very well. His wife is here & they went down to Norfolk this morning.

Well, Adam, you must excuse this poor writing for I am in a hurry and a short letter this time & please write as soon as convenient & oblige. Well good evening & pleasant dreams. I remain as ever your true & faithful friend, — Richard Chapman

1 John Clark was 22 years old when he enlisted in August 1862 in Co. B, 148th New York Infantry. He was killed in action on 18 June 1864 in the first assault on Petersburg.

1864: George Roy Tubbs to Adam S. Miller

This letter was written by three different soldiers, all serving in in Co. B, 148th New York Infantry. The first part was written by George “Roy” Tubbs who enlisted on 8 August 1862 at Starkey to serve three years. He was wounded in action on 16 May 1864 in the fighting at Drewry’s Bluff and died of his wounds on 19 June 1864 at Fortress Monroe.

A kepi identified to George Waddle of the 148th new York Infantry

The second part of the letter was written by Benjamin Grace of Barrington who enlisted on 26 August 1862 who, like Roy Tubbs, wounded at Drewry’s Bluff and died of his wounds on 25 July 1864.

The third part of the letter was written by Sergt. Foster P. Cook of Starkey who enlisted on 28 August 1862 and was promoted to sergeant in October 1862. He made 1st Sergt. on 17 January 1864 and was wounded in action on 15 June 1864 near Petersburg. Unlike his two buddies, however, Foster survived his wounds and was promoted to Lieutenant in Co. F.

The letter was addressed to Adam S. Miller of Starkey, Yates county, New York, who enlisted in the company at the same time as the others but mustered out of the regiment on 8 January 1864 for disability.

Transcription

Yorktown, Virginia
January 15, 1864

Friend Adam,

It is with great pleasure I write to you as you had a letter here for you Ben and I though we would write to you so Ben said I might write what I wanted to first. So I sat down and went at it. Well I will tell you my three cent man he lays just at the point of I guess so and we don’t think he will live from one end to the other and there is Tom Raplee, poor fellow. He can’t do duty for him bum gut drags on the ground and we are afraid he will have it cut off. Poor thing. Well, Miller, you know what? I am a nasty [ ] boy but I still remain your true friend. — G. Roy Tubbs

[in a different hand]

Yorktown, Va.
January 15th 1864

Friend Adam,

With the greatest of pleasure I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines & I hope they will find you well. I & Roy are enjoying good health. Well, I am sorry to tell you that Orderly [Randall G.] Bacon has left us. He has gone to recruit niggers & it seemed like losing a brother when he left. 1 Well, when the mail came in tonight, there was a letter came from you & so Roy and I thought we would drop you a few lines. Roy bunks with me now & we have fine times. Since you have gone home I am lost to think where Adam is. But I am glad that you are home for you & Both happen to know what a solder’s life is. But I will drop that & talk about something else.

How does it seem to lay on a feather bed once more? Well I have not give Charles Chambers them cigars yet. But he wants them and when he pays me what he owes me, I will give them to him. What do you say?

Well, I must close until roll call is over. Then I will finish. well, now I will finish my letter. well the boys all sends their best respects to you and now I will close for this time by saying good night. Yours very respectfully. — Benjamin Grace. Co. B, 148th New York Villains

[in a different hand]

Yorktown, Va.
January 15th

Friend Adam,

I suppose you are home by this time drinking cider and eating to the best of your ability. Well, I say “Bully for you.”

When you have ate enough to satisfy yourself, just get down on 2.5 bushels of apples and 7 gallons of cider for your humble servant “Cook.” I think that will answer me for a day or two.

I suppose Ben has written all the news so I will close by giving you my best wishes and hope you will write to your friend, — Sergt. F. P. Cook


1 Randall Graves Bacon (1837-1924) was mustered in as a 1st Lieutenant on 6 February 1864 in the 38th U. S. Colored Infantry. He served as adjutant of the regiment for a time and when he requested to resign with an honorable discharge in January 1865, his request was disapproved with the following less than complimentary comments: “Disapproved. Lieut. Bacon is a restless, negligent, and discontented officer who is not pleased at being required to perform his duty. He has been an officer about twelve and a half months, has been absent from his regiment about six months of that time on recruiting service and other pleasant detached duty, and has little to complain. In my opinion, the spirit of his resignation is highly reprehensible and he not deserve an honorable discharge. He was finally discharged after he received a gunshot wound on April 5, 1865 near Richmond necessitating the amputation of the first two fingers on his right hand.