Category Archives: Battle of Aldie

1862-65: Samuel Richard Green to Phoebe Melvina (Rockwell) Green

These letters were written by Samuel Richard Green (1826-1865) who enlisted as a private in Co. A, 14th New York Infantry in mid-August 1862, was transferred to Co. I, 44th New York Infantry on 24 June 1863, was promoted to corporal on 28 April 1864 and transferred to Co. A on 23 September 1864. He was transferred to Co. H, 146th New York Infantry on 11 October 1864 and died on 11 May 1865 at Lincoln Hospital in Washington D. C. from wounds received on 31 March 1865 at White Oak Road, Virginia [another source says that his wounds were received in the attack on Fort Stedman].

Prior to his enlistment, Samuel was employed as a mechanic in Utica, New York, where he was born. He was described as standing 5 feet 9 inches tall, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. He was married in 1853 to Phoebe Melvina Rockwell (1832-1906) and the couple had two children—Mary Ella (b. 1856) and Lewis Henry (b. 1860).

This cabinet card was made in Utica during the post-war period but it was passed down by the family with the following letters so I’m inclined to believe it was accurately identified as Samuel Richard Green. The A. R. G. at the bottom of the reverse side was Alfred Reynolds Green (1901-1980), Samuel’s grandson. Most likely the image was created from a photograph taken of Samuel circa 1860 when he was about 35 years old.

Letter 1

[While serving in the 14th New York Infantry]

Frederick City, Maryland
September 17, [1862]

Dear wife,

I take the present opportunity to write you and let you know how I am. I have been on the march for six days and I can stand it first rate. Yesterday we expected to get to where the fighting was [at Sharpsburg, Maryland] today some time but we were detached from the brigade and send back about 20 miles with a lot of prisoners and we don’t know what the next job will be or how long we shall remain here. I am well & have been since I left home. I find lots of friends here for soldiers all help each other. I am in Co. A and that is the best company in the regiment. I can’t give you any news for you will get it before we do by the paper.

I wish you would write me as soon as you get this. You will get Mr. Laurence to direct it for you and there won’t be trouble about my getting it. Tell him I am in Co. A & he will know how to direct it to get to me. We get the mail 3 or 4 times a week. If he is not in the office, leave it with the clerk & he will see that it is sent. If you how he directs it you will know how to do it yourself. Send me a paper once or twice a week. They will all be directed alike. It don’t make any difference where the regiment is.

Give my respects to all. Kiss Ella and Louie for me & tell Ella she must be a good girl. Mind what you tell her. Take good care of the children & don’t work too hard yourself for I shall send you money as soon as I get paid. I don’t know when that will be but it will come in a month or two.

The 4th Oneida Regiment have just passed by here since we have been encamped so they will get into a fight before we will at any rate—if we should go back towards where the fighting it. It is a getting dark and I must close. This comes from your ever loving husband, — Samuel

Letter 2

[While serving in the 14th New York Infantry just prior to being transferred to the 44th New York Infantry.]

Camp in Virginia or some other place
June 2, 1863

Dear wife,

Your letter of the 26th it at hand. I am glad to hear from you. I am as much disappointed by not being sent home with the 14th [New York Infantry] as you are. I have done my duty to the government up to the 17th of May which is the time I volunteered for faithfully and what I do hereafter won’t do them any good. I will assure you I shall not give the rebels a chance to hurt me hereafter. They have been trying to form the 12th, 13th, 14th and 17th into a battalion ever since the 14th left but they can’t make it go. All they have got of us yet is a demoralized mob. They boys are determined they shant make anything of them and they can’t. We are a perfect nuisance in the army and mean to be until they send us home. 1

We are in the First Division, First Brigade Fifth Army Corps. This division is guarding the fords on the Rappannock river between Falmouth and the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. We are in the reserve about 4 miles from the river and about 20 miles above Falmouth. We are known through the division as the demoralized battalion & don’t mean to be anything else. We beat the officers that have charge of us at every point. If they tie up any of the boys for punishment, the rest go and cut them loose or make the officers release them to keep from having a mutiny in camp & if they court martial them, they can’t make it stick & we have the best of them & we are having lots of fun.

We are encamped in a very fine place and we have lots of fresh meat and chickens to eat. We get them around the country. We don’t care who they belong to. We take them whenever we find them.

I have been to see if I could get a furlough to come home but they ain’t giving any in the brigade at present. They may be giving them again in a few days. I shall get one as soon as I can.

I got a letter from father a few days ago. He says you shall not suffer for anything unless you conceal your wants from him. The pay master is paying off the army now but I know as our papers are in shape so as to get our pay this time or not. If we don’t, we will get 4 months the next time so it won’t make any difference if you have got enough to last you. If father has not gone away when this reaches you, tell him I will write to him as soon as I find out what they are going to do with us.

1 The 14th New York Infantry was unusual in that it was composed of both two-year enlistees and three-year enlistees. Apparently many of the three-year enlistees had no idea that they had another year of service left when the time came for the two-year men to go home, which caused those with time left to serve to revolt and become demoralized.


Letter 3

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry. As the 44th N. Y. marched toward Gettysburg, they found themselves brigaded with the 20th Maine, the 16th Michigan, and the 83rd Pennsylvania under the command of Col. Strong Vincent. This brigade would win distinction for their heroic defense of Little Round Top on Day 2 of the battle.]

Aldie, Virginia
June 25, 1863

My Dear Wife,

I received yours of the 26th of May. I have not heard from you since we have been shifting around from place to place. Since I wrote you last, which was soon after I received yours, but we have got in a regiment now where we shall stay. We are in the 44th New York Volunteer [Infantry] commonly known as the Ellsworth Avengers. They were got up from every town in the state or were meant to represent every town when they came out and they are a picked lot of men. I am as well satisfied here as I should be in any regiment without it was the old 14th but I don’t feel very well reconciled to stay here a great while for I consider my time out. But still I prefer to have an honorable discharge if I can get it in any kind of season. If I find I cannot, I think I shall leave without it.

I wrote to Father & directed it to Cleveland. I have had 2 or 3 packages of papers from him since I wrote to him. They were mailed at Gloversville. I don’t know whether he is there yet or whether he has gone back. We have not had any mail here in 10 or 12 days & we don’t know what is a going on anywhere but here.

We are on a turnpike that runs from Alexandria threw Ashby’s Gap & I don’t know how much farther. We were to Ashby’s Gap last Sunday. We had quite a lively time with the rebs. The fighting was mostly done with the cavalry so we did not participate much in it except to drive them away from two or three stone walls where the cavalry could not get at them & then we would start them out & so we drove them to Ashby’s Gap.

I wish you would write soon for I am anxious to hear from you. I expect that Merrill will come here in a day or two & then we can get the papers so as to know what is going on in other places besides this.

I shall write to father again soon and let him know where I am. Direct yours to the 44th Regiment, First Division, 3rd Brigade, 5th Army Corps. Give my respects to all & let me know how you get along & how Ella & Lewis are & if Ella goes to school. I would give anything to be at home to see you and them and I trust I shall be this fall or the fore part of the winter at the farthest. But until such time as I come, I remain your most affectionate and ever loving husband, — Samuel

Malvina


Letter 4

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry.]

Camp near Rappahannock Station, Virginia
September 11, 1863

My Dear Wife,

I received yours the 6th yesterday. I was glad to hear from you. I received your letter with the comb and have wrote two letters to you since the one I sent to Utica in care of Mr. Lawrence and after that I received one from father informing me that you was at Cleveland and since them I have wrote you another which I think you must of got before this time but for fear you have not got the last one, I will repeat some that I wrote last.

I sent $20 to Mr. Lawrence as soon as I was paid. I had to send it by mail and I thought it best to send half of it at once. After that I got father’s letter and he said you wanted me to send one half of what I could spare Mr. Lawrence and the balance to you. I got a letter from Mr. Lawrence saying that he had got the money and that you had gone to Cleveland and he had placed it to my credit. I then sent $20 more to Mr. Lawrence and requested him to send that to you and let the first stand as it was. Since then I have had another letter from him in which he said he had received it and would forward it to you as I desired. I think he will send it by Express or send you a check. I don’t know which. The reason I sent it to Mr. Lawrence was that I has to send it by mail and I thought it was the safest way.

I have not got much time to write today for I am going on picket this afternoon and shall be gone three days. we do picket duty three days out of nine all the time now and we had rather be out on picket than to be in camp. I am glad to hear that you like it where you be and that you are having a good time and I should like to be there with you. And I think this war won’t last much longer and you need not be uneasy about my staying three years.

I wrote a long letter to you and directed it to Cleveland to you about the first of this month. I wish you would write and let me know if you got it and if you have got $20 sent from Mr. Lawrence as soon as you get this. Give my respects to all of my friends and take good care of the children. — Samuel


Letter 5

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry.]

Battlefield near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia
May 13th 1864

My Dear Wife,

I learn that there is a mail going out this morning and I write a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and well. This is the ninth day of the fight and I [think] it is about over with and I think this campaign will close the war from what I can learn here at present.

There has been a great deal of hard fighting and a heavy loss on both sides and I thank the Lord that I have escaped so far for I have been where it was raging the hardest and we have lost over half of the regiment. Things are pretty quiet this morning but yesterday was a hard day. I have not slept over four hours in three days and nights and I am in no condition to write and if you can make out to read this, I shall be glad. As soon as we are a little settled and I think I can write so that you can read it, I will write to you again but don’t get uneasy if it is a number of days first for if we don’t have any fighting, we will have to march.

I wish you would write to father and let him know that I am alright for it ay be some time before I can. Kiss the children for me and write as soon as you get this so that I may know whether you get it.

From your affectionate and ever loving husband, — Samuel


Letter 6

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry.]

44th [New York] Regiment
9 miles from Richmond
June 1, 1864

My dear wife,

I received yours of the 18th and was glad to hear that you was well and had bettered your condition by moving. I have attempted to write before but had orders to fall in before I had time to more than head a letter and had to abandon it and probably shall not finish this today for things are rolling—speaking in a soldier’s phrase.

I am well and stand it as well as any I see around me, and, notwithstanding, we have had about as much as men can be expected to endure. They go about what they are called on to do cheerfully for we know that the enemy must be too much exhausted with over taxation as we are and if we take time to rest and recruit our energies, they will have the same privilege and we are anxious to finish this war at the earliest possible moment. And as everything is working fine, let the thing be kept a rolling in our motto.

There was a good deal of heavy fighting yesterday in which we were successful though I expect our progress will be slow hereafter. If it is the intention of the enemy to hold Richmond, and I hope they will defend it to the last, for I have faith in our ability to take it. And if Lee will not abandon it, he must fall within the fortifications of Richmond and that will end the war without following him farther.

I wish you would write to father and let him know that I am well for I have ot time to write without doing it when I should be resting, for when we stop, we don’t know whether we will be called on in ten minutes or whether it will be as many hours, but most likely to be the former.

Give my respects to Mr. Lawrence and Lewis. Tell them I am doing my duty here as well as I ever do anywhere. Kiss Ella and Lewis for me and give my respects to all my friends. Write me as soon as you get this. Hoping that this war may soon close and may return home again, I remain as ever your affectionate husband, — Samuel


Letter 7

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry.]

Near Petersburg [Virginia]
August 9th 1864

My dear wife,

I wrote you a few days ago and sent six dollars in the letter but for fear you may not of got it, I will write again. In that [letter] I stated I had sent you fifty dollars by Express. After I wrote to you I saw the man that was to take it to City Point to the Express [Office] and gave him ten dollars more and now I have a receipt for sixty dollars from Adams Express. I wish you would write and let me know if you get it and by the terms of the receipt I must notify them in 30 days if it has not gone through all right. Also let me know if you got my letter containing six dollars.

I am well as usual. We are as comfortable as we can make ourselves. The weather is very warm but we have good shades up so we don’t suffer from the heat of the sun but the flies—there is no end to. They plague a man’s life almost out of him. It is almost impossible to read or write duringthe day. We are behind our breastworks about as far from the Johnnies as it is from Broadway to Genessee Street along Pearl Street. There is no firing here in our works except by the artillery. They have a turn at it several times during the day without much damage to either party, I presume—certainly without much to us—but there is a plenty of firing alog the 9th Corps all the time, night and day. 1

We sit on our breastworks and watch the mortar shells going back and forth in the evening. There is deserters from the rebel lines coming into ours every night. Those that come in last night report the capture of Mobile by our fleet which probably is true. They would have the news before we would.

Give my respects to all. Kiss Ella and Lewis for me, hoping that this will find you and them well, I remain your most affectionate husband, — Samuel

1 Burnside’s 9th Corps had a large number of USCT (Black soldiers) in it and the Rebels purposely singled out that sector of the line to fire their artillery shells for that reason.


Letter 8

[While serving in the 44th New York Infantry.]

Camp of 44th [New York] on the Weldon Railroad, Virginia
September 25th 1864

My dear wife,

I received yours of the 11th and was glad to hear from you and that you and the children were well. Tell Ella I thank her for her song and other mementoes the children have sent me as a token that I am not forgotten at home and I trust the time with soon come when I can come and hear her sing it.

The 44th’s time was out yesterday and all the old members that came out with it that had not reenlisted started for home yesterday but there was 180 recruited ready to take their place so the regiment is larger now than it was before and we are expecting 200 more every day. We have not had any fighting on our part of the line in a long time and it is not likely we shall before we move from here.

I will send you a check for twenty-five dollars. I got 2 months pay yesterday which pays me to the first of September. I think it is safer to send a check than to send the money. If it was lost, I think it would not be of any use to anyone else but you and I could get another one. I think you can draw the money at any bank by signing your name to it but any business man will tell you better about it than I can for I am not sure. But you will have to go to a National Bank. I will keep the number of the draft and if you do not get it, let me know and I will get another. Also let me know if you have any trouble to get it cashed and then I will know when I send again.

I don’t know as I have anything more of importance to write at present. Give my respects to all my friends. Kiss Ellie and Lewis for me. My health is good as usual, hoping you and the children are enjoying the same blessing. I am your affectionate husband, — Samuel

P. S. Mr. John Harvey, one of my old soldier friends, promised to call and see you. He started for home yesterday. Write as soon as you get this for I want to know about the check as soon as possible.


Letter 9

[While serving in the 146th New York Infantry.]

Camp of the 146th N. Y. S. V. near Weldon Railroad, Virginia
October 25th 1864

My dear wife,

I received yours of October 2nd and read it with pleasure. I am well as usual. You will see by this that we have been transferred to the 146th. I belong to Co. H. I think I shall remain here the rest of my time as it is out before the regiments is so there will be no occasion for another transfer.

We are having pleasant weather but it is cool nights. We were in two fights the 30th of September before we were consolidated with the 146th but after the 44th had gone home. We were called at that time the 44th Battalion and maintained the good reputation of the Old 44th but the officers wanted to go home and they managed to get us transferred and they have gone. Let them go, I don’t know as it will make much difference to us though the most of the men are very much dissatisfied.

I don’t know as I have anything more of importance to write. I will send a dollar to you. [Give] 25 cents to each of the children, and the rest to you. I get the papers from Gloversville. Kiss the children for me and give my respects to all my acquaintances hoping that this will find you all in the enjoyment of good health and that I may hear from you soon.I remain your most affectionate husband, — Samuel

P. S. Give my respects especially to Mr. Lawrence and son if you see them and as for going out West as father desired you to, you must set your own pleasure as you can judge better where you can enjoy yourself the best—better than I can. But I think I shall go there when I come home. When you write to father, tell him I am well and where I am and give him my respects. — S. R. G.


Letter 10

[While serving in the 146th New York Infantry.]

Camp of 146 N. Y. V. near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
February 15, 1865

My dear wife,

I received yours of the 4th February and was glad to learn that you were all well. I had wrote one to you the 4th which you must of got before this but as we broke camp the 5th and have had some fighting since, I write to quiet any fears you may have about me as I am all right as usual.

We have established a new line and gone into camp again. We have been very busy the last three days clearing up camp and building quarters. It is about seven o’clock in the evening and it has been raining most of the day but me and my tent mates got our house all done but putting in the fireplace. Yesterday and today we got that in and have got a rousing good fire agoing in it tonight though there is a good many haven’t got theirs near done yet but it is not cold so they will not suffer much. This is the third time we have built quarters this winter and I hope it will be the last. And if we stay here until April, it will be the last for me.

You spoke in yours about looking for me home on a furlough but I have thought it over and think it best to stay until my time is out before I come on several accounts. One is the cost of coming and another [is] that most that go home are discontented when they come back and I am doubtful whether their folks feel as reconciled as they did before, and then my time is getting so nye out, and taking all into consideration, I think it is best not to come for I have commenced on the last six months yesterday and they will soon pass and then I can come and not have the pleasure marred by the thought that I must come back again.

Kiss Ella and Lewis for me and give my respects to all and especially to father and give me his address for I have lost it. Hoping this may find you all well and that I may hear from you soon, I remain your most affectionate husband, — Samuel


Letter 11

[While serving in the 146th New York Infantry.]

Camp of the 146th N. Y. S. V. near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
March 10, 1865

My dear wife,

I received yours of February 19th. I had wrote to you just previous and think you must of got it about the same time I got yours so I have not been in a hurry about writing since as there has nothing of consequence transpired. I had a letter from father dated February 13th which I have answered. I have also had a letter from Gloversville saying they expect father to make them a visit this month. I would like very much to be at home when he comes down but I shall have to let it go this time. But the time is not far distant when I can come home and not have the pleasure marred by knowledge that I must leave to come back again in a few days.

I sent $25 to you by Mr. Roberts which I think you must of got before this time. I think we will get paid again this month. If so I will send you more. I don’t know what to advise you about your furniture if you should go West this spring. I know it will be a good deal of trouble for you to get them put up in any shape to move and if you don’t go to keeping house before I come home, it will be a trouble to get them stored. I think you and father will know what is best better than I do—that is, if you should go before I come home.

It is very rainy at present—so much so that it is impossible for the army to move. But the weather is warm when the sun comes out. It is like what you have up there in May.

I am in the Second Division. It is commanded by General [Romeyn B.] Ayres and in the First Brigade commanded by General [Frederick] Winthrop, 5th Corps by General Warren. I should not be surprised if our corps left this army soon perhaps to go south with Sherman. I hope we will. There is indication that we will ship for somewhere for we have turned over 90 wagons to the 6th Corps. Still we may not go. It will depend on circumstances but we are ready for almost anything.

I am well as usual. Give my respects to all. Kiss Ella and Lewis for me, hoping that this will find you all in the enjoyment of good health and that I may hear from you again soon. I remain your most affectionate and ever loving husband, — Samuel

P. S. If Mr. Roberts calls to see you after you get this, I wish you would send my old felt hat by him if you have got it yet. — S. R. G.


Letter 12

[While serving in the 146th New York Infantry.]

Lincoln Hospital [Washington D. C.]
April 19th 1865

My dear wife,

I received yours of the 12th [and] also of the 14th containing father’s. I don’t think it advisable for him to go to the expense of coming from Wellesville to Washington to get me home for I shall undoubtedly get a furlough and come home sometime in May—perhaps the forepart of May.

You spoke of having sent me a hat and letter by Mr. Case. He had not got to the regiment when I left it. I am sorry you bought a new hat to send to me. I told him to say to you if you had the drab hat that I wore to the shop you might send it to me but I didn’t want you to buy one to send.

I am getting along well. I am able to walk around and for all the trouble there would be about traveling might come home now but they don’t like to let patients leave the hospital until their wounds have got so that there is no danger of their getting worse by being neglected.

I have been transferred to Ward No. 4 and shall likely remain here so you will direct the same as before, only Ward 4 instead of 17. Give my respects to to all. Kiss the children for me. I remain as ever your affectionate husband, — Samuel


The receipt for embalming services by Dr. Thomas Holmes—the “father of American embalming.” Wikipedia claims that Holmes charged $100 per body to embalm Union soldiers and that he embalmed over $4,000 of them during the Civil War. This receipt, however, suggests a much more reasonable price of $22 which included the box Samuel’s body was sent home to Utica in. Holmes embalmed the body of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 less than a month before he embalmed Samuel’s body.
Samuel and Melvina lie buried side by side in Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica, Oneida county, NY