Category Archives: 189th New York Infantry

1864: Norman Orlando Wheeler to Horace Wheeler

I could not find an image of Norman in uniform but here is Lavern Burdick who also served as a private in Co. B, 189th New York Infantry (Photo Sleuth)

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.

1864: Amos Niles Brewster to Cynthia Brewster

This letter was written by 26 year-old Amos “Niles” Brewster (1837-1865) of Annsville, Oneida county, New York, who enlisted at the age of 26 in late August 1864 as a private in Co. K, 189th New York Infantry. In November 1864, he was transferred to Co. L, 15th New York Engineers with his younger brother, 18 year-old Ananias Brewster (1847-1932), who enlisted at the same time. Upon his enlistment, Amos was described as a 5′ 7.5″ mechanic with grey eyes, and dark hair.

I could not find an image of the Brewster brothers but here is tintype of members of the 15th New York Engineers (Alejandro de Quesada Collection)

Niles and Ananias were the sons of John Brewster (1802-1858) and Elizabeth [Wilbur] (1807-1883) of Annsville, New York. Two other brothers are mentioned in the letter, Aaron J. Brewster, and Daniel D. Brewster—the latter serving as a sergeant in Co. I, 81st New York Infantry at the time.

Brewster’s letter conveys the tragic news to his sister Cynthia that he accidentally shot himself in the foot while cleaning his gun at City Point, Virginia, and was transported to a hospital in Washington D. C. for treatment and recovery. “It will be a good while before I can work with it,” he told her. I couldn’t find a record of his discharge but the injury was most likely disabling—and while comical enough in his telling of the incident, it most likely proved fatal. He died in December 1865, just thirteen months after shooting himself.


Washington [D. C.]
November 23, 1864

Dear Sister,

I take this time to inform you that I have had the bad luck to get a musket ball shot through my foot. It happened the 14th of November near City Point [Virginia]. I arrived here the 18th. The way it happened, someone put a cartridge in my gun and did not put any cap on. I took my gun to clean. I sat in my tent with it in my lap. I thought I would crack a cap. I did and cracked a hole through my foot too. Mile Hanney lay in the tent with me when it was done.

Ananias [Brewster] had the dysentery some when I left but not very bad but so that he did not work.

I have got a rather bad foot but I guess it is doing very well. It is quite comfortable here. I have a good appetite. I can eat all I can get and I can get all I can eat by playing sharp. I can go it as long as I have a good appetite alright. I wrote a letter to Aaron J. Brewster when I first got here. Will Hanney wrote for me from City Point to him. I expect an answer soon from him.

I shall come home on a furlough if I can get one. It will be a good while before I can work with it. I guess I shall fetch around in time.

I saw Chet Osborne here. He said he saw a man that seen [brother D[aniel D. [Brewster]. He thought he would get along all right. I haven’t any news to write—only Henry [S.] Wetherbee is here with me. He has got a lame knee. He lays in the next bed to me. He has got a good appetite too.

It is rather cool here now. If Jay is not, tell him to write soon. You need not write until you find out whether I get a furlough or not. So goodbye for this time. Give my regards to Mother and all other enquiring friends.

Directions. A. N. Brewster, Engineer Brigade Hospital near the Navy Yard, Washington D. C.

That is all.

C. C. Brewster.