This letter was written by Norman Orlando Wheeler (1843-1929) who enlisted at the age of 20 at Hornellsville to serve one year in Co. B, 189th New York Infantry. He survived the war and mustered out of the service on 30 May 1865 near Washington D. C. Norman and his company did not see much action until the last month of the war when they participated in the fight at Hatcher’s Run and the Appomattox Campaign.
Norman was the son of Horace Wheeler (1816-1900) and Rhoda Ann Mack (1821-1900) of Hornellsville, Steuben county, New York.
Norman’s letter describes the journey of the 189th New York from Washington D. C. to City Point, Virginia in late October 1864, including a stop at the White House “where Old Abe come out to see us and after talking to us a few minutes.”
City Point, Virginia
October 25, 1864
Dear Father & Mother,
I have just received your letter with the one from Henry & Aunt Rebecca. I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you were all well and getting along with the work so well but was surprised to think that you could not make out them figures. I thought them was plain as could be. It is the one hundred and eighty-ninth regiment. It is a new regiment to be sure. Your directions was alright on this letter. Try and write them as plain as you can. I guess I have got all the letters has been wrote to me. That one you sent with Jimmy’s letter in which I answered immediately and which it seems you had not got when you wrote, & one from Amelia & one from Isadore [where] she wrote about that wedding & said that she & Robin were going to stand up, I shouldn’t wonder if they did the same before long.
Well I guess I will tell you a little about how I am getting along. We got orders last Friday to start for City Point but did not start till Saturday [Oct 22] noon when we was ordered to fall in with everything on—namely knapsack with my clothing, blanket, and everything almost in and overcoat strapped on top, haversack, canteen, gun, cartridge box with 40 rounds of ammunition in. Quite a load! After standing about one half an hour, we marched up to the White House where Old Abe come out to see us and after talking to us a few minutes, we marched down to the wharf and got aboard a steamer tired enough having marched about 4 miles besides standing with all on.
We started down the Potomac that night. Had good comfortable quarters and enough to eat but next morning [when] we got into Delaware Bay, the wind blowed considerable and the boat wagged one side and another and you had better believe there was some seasick boys aboard. I was sick for a spell but after throwing up some, I felt better.
We passed Fortress Monroe about noon. It is a huge looking fortress with some big looking guns sticking their mouths towards us. There was some large man-of-war & ironclads there. We turned up the James River there and a noble-looking steam it is. We arrived at City Point about 10 o’clock Sunday night, stayed on board all night, and next morning we got off and marched about one mile towards Richmond & drawled our tents and went to work & put them up. There is three in a tent. Hub[bard W. K. Head], Andrew [Kilbury], and I go in one. They are nice.
I am sitting in my tent tonight. I have got a lot of corn husks on the bottom and cloth all around which makes it as warm and comfortable as can be. We have good fare—better than we have had before. We can hear the guns at Richmond & Petersburg. We have to do guard duty now. I am well and hearty as ever. — N. O. Wheeler
I have got a good watch & look out for it. I have got my knife yet. I have seen Seely and Mike Smith. They are well. They have been here about 3 weeks. Grant is fixing for a battle but tain’t likely we shall be sent on. Write soon & all the news.