Category Archives: 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry

1862: Amos Clinton Metzgar to Alberto Osborn

The following letter was written by 37 year-old Amos Clinton Metzgar (1825-1903) who enlisted on 31 May 1861 in Co. E, 42nd Pennsylvania (1st Pennsylvania Rifles, or “Bucktails”) and was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate 23 February 1862. A note in his 1890 Veteran’s Schedule claims he was discharged from the service “due to epilepsy” but this letter suggest that he received a gunshot wound to his leg on 15 September 1861 that was not healing. I can’t find any engagement of the regiment on that day so it may have been an accidental discharge.

I could not find an image of Amos or Edward but here is one of Robert B. Valentine who fought with the Bucktails (Ronn Palm Collection)

The boys of Co. E were recruited primarily in Tioga county and, like other companies in the regiment, were mostly lumbermen on the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River. The boys wore a distinctive bucktail in their hats and bragged of their marksmanship. Co. E branded themselves the “Tioga Rifles.”

The last page of the letter was written by Edward Osborn (1833-1876) who enlisted on 7 August 1861 in Co. E, 42nd Pennsylvania, and was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate on 18 April 1863. Edward was the son of Daniel Osborn (1809-1878) and Harriette Hoadley (1811-1863) of Stony Fork, Tioga county, Pennsylvania. In the 1860 US Census, Amos Metzgar lived on the property adjacent to the Osborn family in Stony Creek, Tioga county.

Amos and Edward addressed the letter to Edward’s brother, Albert Osborn (1836-1908) who also was in the service. Albert served initially as a sergeant in Co. G, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry from 9 October 1861 to 2 June 1862. He then reenlisted as a private in Battery E, 5th US Artillery from 10 August 1863 to 17 June 1866 (though the veteran’s schedule claims he was a veteran of Gettysburg and Cold Harbor).

To read other letters I have transcribed and published on Spared & Shared that were written by members of this regiment, see:

Jacob Snyder, Co. E, 42nd Pennsylvania (Union/1 Letter)
Lewis Hoover, Co. K, 42nd Pennsylvania (Union/1 Letter)


Headquarters Bucktail Regiment, Co. E
Camp Bucktail City
January 30th 1862

Friend Alberto,

I take this opportunity to write to let you know that I am as well as can be expected on the account of my leg. I han’t got well yet. I han’t been any about since I got shot. That was shot on the 15th of September. The rest of the boys are all well at present time and I hope this will find you enjoying good health.

Albert, they have made out my discharge and I will start for home next week and when I get home, I will write to you again. Albert, it is very muddy and rainy here all the time. The camp is very quiet at present time. Nothing going on to raise a excitement in or about camp for the mud is so deep that they can’t get around.

Albert, may God watch and protect you through this campaign and land you safe in the old free state once more on Stony Fork to join your friends there that is close to you.

So no more at present. From your friend, — Amos C. Metzgar

[In a different hand]

Dear brother,

I thought that I would write a few lines in Amos’s letter. I received a letter from you night before last about eight o’clock in the evening and I sat down and answered it before I went to bed. Captain [Alanson E.] Niles started for home last Sunday and I sent 30 dollars by him.

The weather is not very cold. It is not as cold as I wish it was. If it was cold enough to harden the mud so that we could get top of it, it would be a great blessing. No more at present. From your affectionate brother, — Edward Osborn

1861: Seneca Freeman Minard to John S. Minard

This early-war tintype of an unidentified soldier was probably a member of Kane’s Rifle Regiment. Note the bucktail on the side of his cap. ( Dale Niesen Collection)

This letter was written by Seneca Freeman Minard (1837-1914) of Shippen, Cameron county, Pennsylvania, who mustered into the Kane Rifle Regiment of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps (13th Pennsylvania Reserves, 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry)—better known as the “Bucktail Regiment”—on 1 June 1861 as a private in Co. C. At the time of his enrollment he was described as standing 5′ 9.5″ tall, with black hair, and blue eyes. He gave his occupation just prior to his enlistment as “lumberman.”

At some point Seneca appears to have been promoted to a corporal but there are no muster-out records for him and a note in the regimental history indicates that Seneca deserted his regiment though no date was given. The 1890 Veteran Schedule records him as a resident of Milton, Rock county, Wisconsin and states that he served 2.5 years.

Seneca’s letter describes the Battle of Dranesville that took place between Confederate forces under Brig. General J. E. B. Stuart and Union forces under Brig. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord on 20 December 1861 in Fairfax county, Virginia.


Addressed to John S. Minard, Esq., at Shippen, Camden county, Penna.

Headquarters, Bucktail Regiment
Co. C, Camp Pierpont
December 20th 1861

Dear Brother,

I read a letter from you on the 18th but we went out on a scout the 19th yesterday so I could do no better than to answer you today, thank God. We had a glorious fight & won the field with but little loss on our side but we peppered them like hell. We went about two miles out from our camp [on the Leesburg pike] to a little village called Dranesville. After scouting around there for about an hour we run into a nest of them stationed in a thick grove of little pines. They had four pieces of artillery and about four or five thousand footmen as near as we could find out.

The Bucktails were on the ground first and consequently were in the hottest of the fight. We were coming along the road & one of our [men] saw them planting a cannon in a crossroad to our left and he told the Colonel of it. Then the Colonel took us in behind a large brick house for shelter. we had hardly taken our position when they opened fire on us. The grapeshot and bomb shells flew like hail among us but we laid down as close to the ground as we could hug and they couldn’t do us much harm. But we did not have to stay here long until our big guns got on the ground and then we went in on our shape & within half an hour from the time our cannons got there, we were masters of the field.

Our loss was about ten killed and fifteen wounded—the most of them slightly. There was only three of our regiment killed and five or six wounded. [Lt.-]Col. [Thomas Leiper] Kane was wounded in the cheek but not seriously. 1 I escaped without a scratch. Out of our company, for that matter, there was no one hurt to amount to anything. So much for the fight.

I received a Bucktail from Shippen this morning & don’t know who to thank for it but I guess you are the chap for you said you was going to send one. I am much pleased with it.

Well as this sheet is about full, I will close hoping this may find you well.

Your brother, — Seneca

to John S. Minard

N. B. The date of this is wrong. Today is the 21st. On the 20th we had the skirmish. — Seneca

The killed and wounded of the [Rebs] was 79 left on the ground besides some prisoners we took.

1 Lt. Col. Kane was struck in the face by a ball that pierced his upper jaw. He halted just long enough to tie a bandage and resumed his position at he lead of his men.