These letters were written by Richard (“Dick”) C. Hulse (b. 1843), the son of Joseph C. Hulse (1818-1893) and Elizabeth Todd (1819-Aft1880) of New York City. Prior to the Civil War, Richard’s father was a furniture merchant in the city. After the war, he kept a billiard saloon in Morrisania, New York. Richard was a member of the Yorkville (upper east side of Manhattan) Fire Department, Truck No. 10, before joining the service.
When Richard was 19 years old, he enlisted on 4 August 1862, at New York city as a private in Co. F, 5th New York Heavy Artillery to serve three years. At the time of his enlistment, Dick was described as a “machinist” who stood just shy of 5 and a half feet tall, with brown hair and brown eyes. Before his service had barely begun, he was captured and paroled by Stonewall Jackson’s men at Harper’s Ferry on 15 September 1862. The first four letters were written from Harpers Ferry and give ample evidence that an attack by Stonewall Jackson’s men was expected several weeks before it occurred lending credence to the argument that Col. Dixon S. Mills was either an incompetent commander or a southern sympathizer who intentionally handed over the critical strategic landmark to the Confederate army.
Until Richard and the other members of his regiment who were taken prisoner at Harper’s Ferry could be exchanged, they were detained first at Camp Douglas near Chicago and later and Fort Marshall in Baltimore. Sometime on or about New Years’ Day 1863, feeling himself misused by the regiment, Richard went on French leave and the next time we hear from him we find that he has enlisted in Co. L, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Richard’s letters inform us that he rode with the 18th Pa. Cavalry during almost all of 1863, including their engagements during the Gettysburg campaign, but he was finally arrested and returned to the 5th New York Heavy Artillery in November 1863.
He was taken prisoner again at Cedar Creek, Virginia, on 19 October 1864 along with most of the other members of his battalion who were on picket duty near Bowman’s Ford in the early morning surprise attack by troops under Confederate General William H. Payne. Following a stint in prison, Dick was reported as having taken the Oath of Allegiance to the Confederacy and joined the rebel army as a “Galvanized Confederate” at Salisbury, North Carolina, in December 1864. I have attempted to corroborate this claim but cannot find any evidence to dispute it. I could not find his name anywhere in military or civil records after the date of his last letter to his family in September 1864. My hunch is that if he survived the war, he assumed an alias name.
August 17, 1862
This being Sunday, I thought it would be my only chance to write as we are busy in working around the camp. I see the difference between a feather bed and a soft plank two inches thick. We have plenty to eat fresh meat two or three times a week, good coffee, and beef soup and above all them crackers that you had. Tomorrow we go to work and put up tents as we have some new recruits. We just have been to church and are now eating our salt junk and beef soup. There is eight of us and we are a going to cook for ourselves as some of the meat is not done.
We expect to have a fight soon with Stonewall Jackson but if he comes he will get his fill as we have a gun that will give the secesh a pill that they don’t like. A few nights ago we seen a rebel light and we fired a shell and it went into a house 6 miles off and killed 10 men, wounded 27 of them.
We have pretty easy times here. Nothing to complain of. I have now my pipe in my mouth smoking as I write this letter. I send my best respects to Uncle John and all the folks. I am very well and hope all the folks are the same. We have the best water of any regiment in the army. We have our home-made pie every morning when we have got out ten cents pieces ready for them. We are on a very high mountain. It takes about 3 or 4 hours to walk up and then you can see for 80 miles off.
Don’t forget to tell Aunt Mary where I am so she can send on what she promised me. I send my respects to Mrs. Davis and all the boys.
Sundays we have to polish our shoes, clean our guns and clothes, and get ready for inspection. It takes about two hours for to inspect. we will have to wash our own clothes. I cannot tell how clean mine may be but as long as it looks clean, then it will do. I have not much to say about the country but I think it is a very healthy place.
There was four of us went to a secesh and we made him give us fresh milk and chickens. We have a brave set of boys out here. I am acquainted with them all now. They seem very pleasant to each other. There is no gambling done in camp as the captain [Eugene McGrath] would not let them play. Well, if you was to see us boys lay down nights on the soft side of a plank two inches thick with no pillow but a bag of oats.
Our captain think he will be sent soon to New York with his company as they expect Johnny Bull [England] over with his army. Let them come. We will settle them as we have three big guns here that will blow all rebels out of Virginia. We have two niggers in camp here and have plenty of fun with them. All us soldiers set out nights by our tents and sing all the Union songs.
Tell Uncle John to write to me as soon as you get this. I have been on guard all night and pretty sleepy in the morning. You have my directions and so you will know where to direct to. I guess this [is] all I have to say now. Write soon. And tell Uncle John I would write to [him too] but as he will see this letter, it will be of no use. From your son, — Dick
Tell Albert and Sarah to write to a fellow.
August 28, 
Dear Father & Mother,
As I now have a few moments to spare, I thought I would write a few lines to you all. I am not very well at present but am recovering very fast from the Camp Fever. I would [like] a couple of shirts if you could send them. I wrote to Uncle John to send them by Adam’s Express with some other articles. I have to take a little brandy every morning so the doctor says I wrote you a letter before but got no answer from you. I received the one from Ma. I send my love to you and the folks. Tell Sarah and Albert to write a few lines. When you write, tell all the news. Tell Joe to write. Aunt Mary said she would send me some things so you can tell her my directions.
We are expecting a fight now as there is rebels all around us. We are ready. We had our full ammunition given to us yesterday so as to be on hand.
I have fell away about 20 pounds since I have been here but I am gaining a little now. I heard that you were sick but I hope it is of no consequence. I suppose you are very busy in your office. I can get along very well with them crackers. Some days I eat five or six with the salt horse and bean soup as they call it. But it is like dish water. But I must not grumble as it was my own choosing.
The captain [Eugene McGrath] 1 is a first rate fellow but there is some that dislike him. But as long as he stands true to the flag that we were born under, what more do we want. I have just come off guard duty and like it first rate. We have to look out every night for signals as there is plenty of rebels around us. When we see one, we always fire a shell over so as to let them know that we are around.
I think Amos is doing a big thing in getting married in war times. I think he ought to serve his country as all other young men is for now is the time to crush this rebellion, for if it is not done in six months from now, it will never end in six years from now. But I am satisfied and willing to serve until we plant the Staes and Stripes all over Dixie. I am to be made a corporal in a few days. Then look out for me for I will work myself up as well as I can to suit the captain and the men. I would like to see a paper once in awhile as they are scarce out here. Things are very high out here.
The troops begin to come in here very fast now as Harper’s Ferry is getting dangerous, but our battery stands ready for any number of rebels that dare to come within our reach. If we cannot use our big guns, we will use our muskets and show what the Heavy Fifth is made of. I think I will have to come to a close now as I have but little to say this time.
Dear father, do not forget to write as I would like to hear from you all. The children must write a few lines too. So I remain yours. Your so, — Dick
1 Eugene McGrath (1817-Aft1900), a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, came to America at the age of three, trained as a shoemaker, and was a builder in New York. He was a member of militia Companies in New York City before the war. Age 44, he enrolled 7 May 1861 in New York City and mustered as Captain, Co. B, 38th New York Infantry on 3 June. He was wounded in action at Bull Run, VA on 21 July 1861 and was recruiting in New York City for the 38th Infantry by the end of August, but was discharged for disability on 14 September 1861. He returned to active service on 12 March 1862 when he was commissioned Captain, Co. F, 5th New York Heavy Artillery. He commanded the battery and was captured with them in action at Harpers Ferry on 15 September 1862. At the surrender on the morning of the 15th, a teary-eyed McGrath was quoted as saying, “Boys, we’ve got no country now.” (Boston Pilot, 11 October 1863) He was wounded in action in September or October 1864, place not given. He was promoted to Major of the regiment on 3 February 1864 to rank from 29 December 1863. He resigned his commission on 21 February 1865.
September 2, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
I received your letter about noon. We had a very hard shower here yesterday and we had to sleep in our wet clothes all night. One reason was that we did not have any extra clothes and the other was we got a dispatch saying the rebels were building a battery on Loudoun Heights. The place is no more than two blocks from us. I suppose I will have a very bad cold as I shivered all night with the cold but I guess our salt horse and crackers will be my medicine. I am off the doctor’s list now and I am glad that I am able to do duty.
We have now five hundred niggers on our ground to build log huts for our winter quarters. We are surrounded on four sides by rebels and are expecting them every minute. If we were forced to skedaddle, we would have to surrender or jump off high rocks and run our risk of losing our life. As we slept last night on our soft planks and the rain dripping on us, there was a sound very queer and that was the beat of the long roll. We jumped up, seized our guns, and stood ready for action but our big cannons brought the enemy in the woods to a halt and then you ought to see the skedaddling amongst them. Ha, ha, ha.
Well, I have just eat my dinner now today. We have fresh meat and beef soup. Tell Joe and the children not to be afraid to write to me as I have plenty of time to read them. We only have drill twice a day and then we can go where we please.
Dear father, you need not fear about me now as I see that the world is before me and that there is a road to travel which leads above for those who do good. I have made up my mind now to follow a good path and cast off evil ways. — R. C. H.
I have not much to say but I will try and see if I can fill 4 sheets. Will you please sed a newspaper once in awhile as we have nothing to read out here. Send some postage stamps.
Why don’t Uncle John write? Has he not received my letters? The mail is very backward here in sending letters. It may have been miscarried but show him this and tell [him] to write. I send my love to you all and all the folks in Yorkville. Tell Uncle John that I have not forgot him but I will write as soon as I receive an answer from this. So I remain ever your obedient son, — Dick
Write soon and as often as you can.
September 9, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
I sent an answer to your letter of the 30th ult. but I guess you did not receive it as the mail and road was taken possession of by the rebels. We are having very tough times out here. We expect every minute an attack from the enemy. We have been sleeping on our arms these two nights. Our captain called us together and told us our time had come—that he wanted his men, although [but] a handful, to stand by him. He said he would not leave us until the last drop of blood runs out of his frame and such hurrah! good gracious. Some of the men cheered so that anyone two miles off would hear them While he spoke, some could not help crying. I believe I have not told you how we are situated but I will commence now.
We are on a mountain about one mile high. We have our pickets posted all around. We have three large guns—regular Navy pieces. I tell you, they can bark like the mischief when they go off. If we were forced to retreat, we would have to cross the Potomac or be taken prisoners but there is no retreat in our captain for he will keep the hill till the last. We thought one night we would have to retreat but it seems they did not come. You can see that I am in a hurry as we have found out how to send the letters but it is dangerous for you will have to run the risk of them going into the hands of the secesh.
I guess you have heard of our men retreating from Winchester. They have all retreated on this side. There was one cavalry company—as they were retreating, they were hissed at and their captain told them to dismount and clear out the place. Well, it happened to be a watchmaker’s store. They rushed in, broke the windows, and some took feed bags full and others took haversacks full of gold and silver watches, jewelry rings and other articles. Why you can [buy] from the for four or five dollars, gold or silver ones, as they do not know what to do with them.
I have not received that box yet but it may be on the way coming. I do not know whether you will get this letter or not but I hope you will receive this for I am very well now and feel as hearty as the next one. The captain says I fell away a good deal since I came here, but never mind, he says, for eat all you can get, sleep all you can, and then you are all right. I will write you a very long letter this time for it may be my last time to write to you all for thinks look very suspicious out here now. We have very strict orders out here. No one must leave the camp ground. We have extra guard on night time.
I send my love to you all and all the folks. Do not forget to tell Uncle John. It is now very near dinner time. Our work out here is not hard. We have easy times to what some so. I suppose things are very dull in New York now but there may a good time come yet when we all may return to our homes and those black-hearted villains as we called them—I mean secesh—may once more be brought to rally under the Stars and Stripes.
We caught sixteen rebels last night and if you was to see them come in, one would lay off on the chairs and the others would call for a glass of milk or whiskey but they did not get treated as they thought they would. They got the guard house with nothing but dry bread and water. Nights we have our camp fires and have plenty of singing and talking. Why then a fellow feels as if he was at home but as soon as they leave to go to bed, then I lay down.
Our men are very sociable together. There is not a cross word said to nobody. That is what we call something like it, for in the campground below us they are always fighting. I think I will have to close now as the [drum] roll strikes for dinner. If there is any way of sending stamps, please send some. So I remain your Old Dick—from your son, Richard H. Hulse
Dear brothers and sisters, I thought I would say a few words in this letter to you. I hope you are getting along well. You must not think that I forgot you all for I did not. If you see Joe Davis, tell him I send my best respect to all the folks. I think that this is my last chance of writing to you all. We are surrounded on four sides by rebels and maybe we may all cut up to pieces for the rebels say they allow us on the hill no quarter but they mean to shell us out. But we fear them not. You may all write but I don’t know whether it may go. So I remain your dear brother, — Dick
Headquarters 5th Regt. Artillery, N. Y. V.
Fort Marshall, Baltimore, Maryland
September 23, 1862
I am instructed by Col. [Samuel] Graham to say that your son, Richard Hulse, is a paroled prisoner at Annapolis, Maryland.
I am, sir, your obedient servant, — Jas. F. Farrell, 1st Lt., & Adjutant, 5th Reg. Artillery
to Mr. J. C. Hulse, Quartermaster Office, No. 6, State Street, NYC
Sunday, [September] 28, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
Having arrived at a stopping place now and this being my only chance as I am cooking for the company. I guess you have heard of the news at Harper’s Ferry. I am glad to state I was in the thickest of the fight and got through safe and sound. If I had time, I would write a little about it but we are busy. We do not know the next minute [when] we have to move or where we have to go. I think we will fight with the Indians or come home to New York. We are in Camp Douglas and a very nasty place at that. Our company is all the growling about the sleeping and eating. We went five days without anything to eat but a cracker a day.
I write this to let you know where I am. I am getting along very well. I may write another letter soon so you need not answer this till you hear from me again. So I remain yours. Your son, — Dick
I send my love to you all and all the folks at Yorkville. Tell Uncle John as soon as I get settled, if I ever do, I will write to him. I had to leave Harper’s Ferry without any clothes except what’s on my back. When I wash, I pull off my shirt and put on my coat and that’s the way I get along. I send my love to Joe, Albert, and Sarah. Well, it is almost time to get supper ready so I will have to close.
So goodbye all till you hear from me again. — Dick
Camp Douglas [Chicago, Illinois]
October 3, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
Having found out that we are to stay here, I thought I would write and let you know we are situated in a unhealthy place and have barracks to sleep in instead of tents. We have nothing to do but get up and get our meals and go to bed again but it may not be long as there is some talk about sending us on the frontier to fight with the Indians. I wrote in my last letter for you not to write for there is so many rumors but you can write for we are a going to stay here.
The prisoners here are tearing down fences and doing all the damage they can. I had a bad time of it last night. It rained so hard and our barracks are so poor that my blanket was soaked with the wet and all my clothes I had on. We are going to have a bad time of it if we stay here this winter for this morning it is very cold. The citizens say they will try and get us away from Chicago because some go and eat and drink as much as they want and will pay for it. You can see by my writing that it is cold out here.
I have just got my breakfast and sat down to finish this letter. Our captain is in New York now but our other officers are here. I have not got that box yet. Maybe you can find out where it is for I have but one short and that’s on my back. I wish you will write as soon as you get this for we do not know what will turn up the next minute. I am learning very fast how to cook victuals for the men. The only thing [hard] is about getting up and get them their coffee as it is so very cold these morning. I wish you will send a few stamps. I have not much to say so I will close by wishing you all good morning. From your son, — Dick
N. B. Give my love to all and all the folks and my friends. Go by these directions:
Company F, Fifth Artillery, Camp Douglas
October 10, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
I have just received your letter of the 8th and was glad to hear from you all. I am sorry to hear that Joe is sick. Most of our men are getting sick on account of [the] poor water we have here and the ground is so low and when it rains, it rains so hard and so long, that it keeps the ground soaked wet.
Our captain is not here with us now. I do not know where he is. Our men are raising an awful time here about their breakfast, dinner, and supper on account of not getting their rations. All the paroled prisoners here say they will burn down the barracks and march out if they do not get paid soon. I have been without a shirt to change since I left Harper’s Ferry but now I have raised a couple of them. I do not know what they are a going to do with us but I guess we will make our home here this winter. It is beginning to get very cold here now. I never want to go on a long march again as we were treated just like pigs. We were sent in baggage cars and stayed for five days in them and when we wanted to sleep, we had to tear up the benches and lay down on the soft planks. I am about use to them now.
They are giving $150 to new recruits here. It is as much as they can do to keep us in. We go in and out when we please. We go in and take a look around the city and then we come back and get the meals ready for the men/ I am one of the cooks but I do not stay in the cook house long as it is so hot in there. Our meals are very good when we do get a good meal. We have bread every day and no crackers. I wish you will hurry that box up as I am in a hurry for to take a good smoke after my Fifth Avenue meals.
I wrote Uncle John a long letter and I will see if I can write another one. I suppose they will have a great time in New York when they do draft. Tell Albert and Sarah to write a few lines. Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother when you write. Let me know all the news. I received your two papers this morning and was glad to get them as I had no means of getting once since I left our late battlefield.
I would like to have the paper with the account of our battle in. You can see that our captain is a regular war horse. While we was on our big guns firing away at the rebels, the order came up to spike our guns. He sings out to us, “Go in, boys! We are giving them fits and we will never spike them,” In about a half an hour, another order came up and he would not take any notice of it and when it came up for the third time, he would not spike them till he fired fifty or sixty shots out of each one and then we spiked them and threw them off the hill. And when we left the hill, he (the captain) cried like a child. We were ordered to pack our knapsacks and leave the hill which we did in good order and not till the last man was down. If our captain had had charge over Col. [Dixon S.] Miles, there would be no such order as surrender in him. The captain was so mad, if you was to say anything to him, he would draw his sword and say he would chop the first man in two that did not behave themselves.
We have Lieutenant [Joseph H.] Barker 1 in charge of us now and can get along with him first rate. We was aroused out last night by the cry that our barracks were afire but it was not much. Tell Sarah I got one from her. I will have to close soon as I am going to get ready to cook supper for the men. We are a going to have potatoes, cabbage, and coffee for them tonight. You can tell that we live high once in awhile.
Give my love to all the folks home and at Yorkville. Give my love to Aunt Mary and all the folks in Williamsburg and tell some of them to write a few lines.
My hands now are as cold as ice. I think we soon will have snow if it keeps on this way. Well, I have not much to say now so I will close by wishing you all good health. From your son, — Dick
N. B. Some directions. Look sharp for the box and have it sent on soon, — Dick
Tell Aunt Mary’s folks to write a few lines and tell them I would like to be on Eight Street once more. So goodbye till next time. Write soon, — Dick
1 Joseph H. Barker—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, November 29, 1861, at New York city; mustered in as private, Co. F, November 30, 1861, to serve three years; mustered in as first lieutenant, August 1, 1862; captured and paroled, September 15, 1862, at Harper’s Ferry, Va.; discharged on tender or resignation, November 27, 1863; commissioned first lieutenant, August 18,1862, with rank from August 1,1862, original.
October 16, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
received your letter of the 8th and answered it but I guess you did no get it. I wrote to Uncle John too but they must have been delayed. I have not got the box yet and wish you will look after it. I wrote before that we may stop here for this winter but I do not know what they will so. They talk about discharging us. We are expecting our pay this week coming. We have had a great time in camp this week. Our barracks were burnt and the fences tore down. Our own men got fighting together and it ended by one man getting shot by Lieut. Barker. Our captain is at Washington attending the court martial but do not know if he will ever come back. I have just received one of the Harper’s Ferry letters dated September 6th and got the two stamps.
It is beginning to get very cold out here now and have to rollup tight in my blanket so as to keep warm. My ten days is up cooking for the company and have nothing to do but walk the city of Chicago on a french pass. Since our captain has been away, the men will not obey orders. The sergeant came the other morning and told us to fall in for drill and not one would move and me either. When Lieut. Barker shot the man, they all rushed out for to kill him. They went into his quarters, smashed everything they could get, and was stopped by the guard who have come just in time to save his life.
My paper and envelopes are getting played out so I will soon have to stop writing. Give my best respects to Mrs. Davis and all the folks and tell her I sent a letter to Joe. Please send out a couple of papers once in awhile. When we get a paper here, by the time they all get done reading it, it is just like old magazines torn up into bits. About three hundred has seen them two Frank Leslie‘s you sent me at Harper’s Ferry which I got while I was here. Write as soon as you get this and let me know if the box will come here or not. Give my love to all the folks and do not forget them at Yorkville.
Tell Albert and Sarah to write when you do. I have not much to say at present so I remain yours, your son, — Dick
Same directions. Write soon. Hurry up the box.
October 20, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
I received your letter Saturday evening and the box with my delight in. I have not received the first box yet and wish you would write as soon as you get this and let me know what express to go to as there is three expresses here. You could not have sent me anything better for it was just what I wanted. When I laid aside my sourdough bread and coffee (we call it dishwater) and sit down to my supper of cakes and sweet meats, then I begin to think it was something like home. Tell Ma that I still keep that piece of fruit cake till the last minute but it makes my mouth water to see it. I have to keep my eyes skined [peeled?] about my bunk for there is plenty around that feels like helping themselves—but I will look out for them. Your letter was delayed because I sent you two before I got it.
Most all the prisoners here have gone to work in the city and are getting to one dollar and two and a half a day. They work about a week, then come in drunk and make such a fuss. We are expecting our captain here now in a few days and will hear them what he has to say about us. They have not paid us off yet. They say there is no money in Washington for to pay us.
We are to have a baseball match between our company and Company A that was taken prisoners with us. They are making great preparations about it. Anything now-a-days to pass away time. I am going down in the city to see about the box if it should be there. I have just got a new rig of clothes so I am well prepared for the coming winter. Our dinner is most ready. Today we have fresh meat and beef soup and bread. Write as soon as you get this and let me know what to do about the box. Give my love to all the folks and those at Yorkville. ask Uncle John if he got my letter or not.
I have not much to say now so I will close. I remain your son, — Dick
N. B. I am very much obliged to you for that box and I will live like a king for a few days. Tell mammy she is the best mammy I have seen or heard of. — Dick
Dear Sister, I read your few lines and was glad to hear from you. You know I used to tease you a little but you know all about it. I will keep that piece of cake for my special tooth. Tell Mary Miller I received hers and wrote to her but did not get an answer. Tell Albert to write a few lines in the next letter. I must hurry up and I have to go down in the city. How are you all getting along in your new place? We do not know whether we will come home or not but if I was to come home, I would enlist again in the Navy for we have a good thing here. They’re paying a great deal of money. I guess I will close now. so goodbye, — Dick
Same directions. Tell Brother Lunyan and Joe to write.
October 25, 1862
I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear you all was well. The letters do not go as regular as they ought. I have sent three to Pop and did not get an answer. I received the ox you sent and I will live high for a few days. The Harper’s Ferry box I did not get. The agent says Pop must look after it. All I care for it is the tobacco as it is very scarce out here.
We are expecting to come home in a few days. Our captain says he thinks we are going to Troy, New York, and then send home on a furlough of thirty days. I tell you what, we have nice times here. There is a place in Chicago where they give free lunches. well we go there every day when we can make five cents for our lager. We call for a glass of lager and then he gives us plenty to eat.
It began to snow last night but it did not amount to much. I wrote to cousin Joe Davis and got an answer. Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother and to all the folks at home. Tell brother Billy I received her letter and was much surprised at her writing. I think she will beat me soon. How are you all getting along? I think there will be a great time when they draft in New York.
A few nights ago we set one of the barrels on fire here and you ought to see the rats burn and run about. We have about 45,000,000,000,000 rats here. The Chinese could get fat living here. I have not much to say but I will write all I can. It is very cold this morning.
Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and tell them I did not receive any answer to my letters. I believe we will come home the end of next week. Tell Albert to write a few lines. I have just had my toast and coffee and a good smoke. Then I sat down to write.
We had a game of baseball between our two companies and our company came off boss. I believe I will have to close now till I write my next letter. So I remain your son, — Dick
Write soon. Give my love to all the folks. write all the news. So goodbye. — Dick
October 30, 1862
Dear Father and Mother,
I received your letter this afternoon and was very sorry to hear of the death of Grandpa Todd. I received a letter from Mammy and Sarah a few days ago. I went down to Adams Express and they say you will have to look for it but I do not know whether we will stay here or not as our captain is waiting for orders every minute to return to New York. There is a great talk about us going Saturday for to be there at election time as there is some general going to run for governor. One of our men has died since he has been here and do not know the minute that the 7 others in the hospital will go. Most every man is sick in our company but I am glad to say that I am amongst the well.
You will see our company beat the other at baseball and we have played them another match and beat them too. We have been drilling these few days and our captain is praised a good deal amongst the troops out here. He is the man to see that we get our rights. He hates Gen. Tyler and says Gen. Tyler will not make his men (Capt. McGrath) pay for what damage the other paroled prisoners done. You ought to see what rats we have here, They have dug out so far under the barracks that they almost fall in. There was a party had a pile of 200 rats. It is a great place for parade ground and that’s all. I went out a few days ago and worked two two days and I got $1 a day.
The reason we had to stop working is our captain had to report to Washington how many men he had. The rest would be counted deserters that did not answer to his name. Our captain has detailed me for his clerk. The other one deserted. You must write as soon as you get this.
Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks and ask why he does not write. I sent him three letters since I have been here. Tell Joe and all the children to write. Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother and all the folks. I wish we will come to New York once more. I have not much to say now. So I remain your son, — Dick
Write soon and let me know all the news.
November 8, 1862
I have not received an answer yet and I thought I would sit down a write a few lines. Please write as soon as you get this and let me know how Pa is getting along with his back. I sent on a letter for a box and wish you will please send it on as soon as you can for our captain thinks now that we will go away from here in six days. You know how it is about rumors. We cannot tell what they will do with us. Some say we will be exchanged soon and others say we will be sent to Troy.
I am the captain’s clerk now. He is very good to me and he is like a father. The other day I had a bad cough and the chills. He made me take medicine that I did not like but he was out one day and I got thinking what you used to give me and I went to work and boiled some onions and molasses together which cured me of my cold.
When you write, send me the directions of Aunt Mary and give my love to all the folks when you go over there. How is Joe and all the children getting on? Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks and tell him I wrote to him two or three days ago. Some of the others are very jealous on account of me getting company clerk. Tell Uncle that I am keeping my stiff upper lip on yet as he told me to do. I think I can get a posish in a few days. I would have been a corporal but the office is all filled but will soon be empty.
Mammy, don’t forget the box and pack it up something like the other and send it by the American Express. That Harper’s Ferry box I guess I never wil get it as they don’t care much about looking for it. When you write, let me know all the news and how the election went on.
I have no duty to do. I am in the office reading or writing or playing with the nigger we have here. I guess I will close now. So don’t forget the box and write soon. Give my love to all. So I remain your son, — Dick C. C.
November 11 
Having plenty of spare time I thought I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope you and all the folks are the same. I have sent two letters but got no answers. I wrote one saying you could send the box as we will stay here for a few weeks yet but we may get orders to start before long so you can send the box on by the American Express. Please send some postage stamps in the next letter as I want to use them very much in writing.
The weather is very mild now but we have so many changes. One day it is cold enough to freeze anyone. Then another day it is very warm. If you have not sent the box yet, please put in a couple of towels and the other things just as you like. Please send it on soon so I can get it before we do go away.
Lieut. Barker has just come from a visit of 10 days in the city and says he heard we were to start Thursday but write soon and send the stamps and the box as soon as you receive this. Let me know all the news and how the election went on. Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and all the folks at home. I am getting along with my new posish and the captain says I suit him first rate. I have just got over a bad cold and the chills. I think I will have to close now. Please don’t forget the stamps. Send the box on as soon as possible. Write soon. Give my love to mother and all the folks in Williamsburg.
So I remain yours truly, — Dick C. C. [Captain’s Clerk]
N. B. Tell Mammy not to forget to pack that box as I was very much pleased with the other one. So goodbye, — Dick C. C.
N. B. I guess I will take a walk now before dinner so I can eat plenty of bean soup and pork. – Dick
Give my love to Joe, Albert, and Sarah and tell them to write for it may be their last one. Please don’t forget my request and write as soon as you get this. Send the box on and believe me yours truly, your son, — Dick Hulse, C. C.
November 12, 1862
I thought I would write a few lines to you if you have not sent the box, don’t you do it as we expect to leave tomorrow or a few days [after]. I write yesterday saying for to send some stamps. Those you can send as soon as you receive the letter as I am in want of them very much when I write. I don’t know how true it is about our leaving but our captan is pretty sure we will leave in a week’s time. Give my love to all the folks and I hope these few lines will find you all in good health and getting along first rate. Please send some stamps and write as soon as you get the letter,
Write as soon as you get this. So I will close now by remaining your son, – Dick, C. C.
Dear Mammy, I am getting along first rate. If you sent the box, let me know in the next letter and if not, don’t send it for I may soon be home. Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother. I have some writing to do for the company so I have not much spare time. So good afternoon, Mammy, and believe me yours truly. Your son, — Dick, C. C.
November 14 
I received your letter of the 9th yesterday and was very happy at the time to receive the box too. Tell Pop I think that he is a good guesser as I got the box when he said I would get it by Thursday. There is the greatest time in camp you ever saw. It is about us going home but I do not know what to say almost about it as we hear so many rumors about going home. The papers say we will go home before long.
You ask what I was working at. Well, I was doing Irishmen’s work—that is, digging a sewer for a new house now building about a mile from camp. Once in awhile I have fried liver. We go over to the slaughter house and help them kill and that’s the way we get our liver. Most every man has got a frying pan so we can fry anything.
I have not received the tobacco and pipes yet. I will write to Joe today and see when he sent them and by what express. We had a nice time here last night. All the men got together and began to sing some of them old sngs you sent me. They boys are hard up for tobacco. They take the coffee grounds from the morning’s coffee and dry it and smoke it in their pipes. Such is camp life. Joe could get work out here if he was strong enough as they are doing nothing else than building houses. I have been to camp meeting most every second night since I have been here and have got about a half barrel of tracts and papers. You ought to see me last night. I felt so good about the box that I did not care much about going to sleep.
Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville. I think it is very strange that Uncle John don’t write as I sent him two or three letters since I have been here. Tell Aunt Mary I am very much obliged to her for the sweet meats as that is my taste, Oh how good it does go on my sour and stale bread. If I was to return home, I could eat all the stale pieces without grumbling as I have got used to it now. I think I will burst up now as I am played out. So write soon and give my love to Miss Hill and her mother and to Katy Grant and all the folks. Your son, — Dick, C. C.
Write soon giving my love to Pop.
Dear Emma, as I have wrote all the news to Mammy, I thought I would write a little letter to you. You say your mother was eating something nice, not good for little boys. If you was to see me eat beans here you would be surprised as we have them every second day. I would like to be home now. I would give you fits for calling me saucy Dick, but you have the best of me now. We was expecting to get home by Thursday but it proved a dead beat. Give my love to all the folks. The next time I write I will write more. You can send on your likeness as I am fond of having them to look at. I have carried my gal’s likeness through the war at Harper’s Ferry and have it yet. So write soon and send it on. Yours, — Dick
November 17, 1862
I received your letter this afternoon with great pleasure. I have received the box ma sent and have been living fine. I am well here and I do not know what they are going to do with us. The talk now [is] we are to be exchanged soon and then I have the sport of fighting once more for my country. If you was only at the Battle of Harper’s Ferry and seen the sport. You know Henry Asche that use to go to school with us? Well he was with me at the time. He was with the 12th Regiment. If I ever should return, I could relate more than I could write. When the firing commences, you feel rather afraid but you get used to it after a little while.
The boys here are playing the mischief while they do not get paid. They take the old stamps from the old letters, then rub the ink off with a piece of bread, then they pass them in the night time and we have to smoke dried coffee grounds for tobacco. I have got to be a great smokey. If you should come across a good briarwood pipe, send it on and I will make it all right.
This morning I got a hour from my captain to go out so I went with five others on a rat scout and how we did pepper them when we dug them up. I am telling you all I know at present as I wrote all the news to Mammy and Emma. I wrote to Uncle John yesterday. I received a letter from him.
I am a great old washer woman now and can wash first rate. I always have my shirts and drawers clean for inspection every Sunday. I am very tired of writing now as I have much of it to do for the company. Write as soon as you get this and don’t forget the pipe if you can get one. Give my love to Mammy and all the folks at Yorkville, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. Tell Mammy the next thing I would like is some tobacco. So take care of yourself. From your brother, — Dick, C. C.
Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother and do not forget Katy Grant and Miss Dolben. Tell Aunt Mary I get along first rate with the sweet meats and tell Pop the segars went well too, and the candy. I guess it is all now. — Dick, C C.
N. B. Tell Albert it is his turn to write. No matter if it is a few lines. I have just got done my dinner of bean soup and pork. We have 4 days pork and bean soup and 3 days fresh meat soup and potatoes so you can see how we live. Anybody that comes out to fight for Uncle Sam has to be a fool before he knows his business. So jog along, — Dick
Don’t forget the pipe.
November 24, 1862
I have left Chicago at last. On Thursday we received orders to go to Washington and report to General Burnside as we were exchanged and ready to go into the field once more. As we arrived in Baltimore for to go toWashington, our Colonel got orders from General Wool for to keep us with our regiment for further orders. Our Colonel thinks a good deal of us and says he will keep us here and clothe us and make us like his men (gentlemanly soldiers).
If you sent anything to Chicago, let me know in the next letter. I did ot get get that tobacco of Joe Davis. Give my love to Mrs. Davis and all the folks and let her know where I am. We can get anything we like here as the sutler trusts the regiment but charges very high. Tell Joe I got his letter and answer it.
We was four days on our march and had nothing to eat but crackers and what we got as the cars stopped to take in water. We have seen hard times and will see harder times before we get home, if we ever should. We have no quarters here yet but we can make out to sleep on the floor for a few nights.
Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and hope they are getting along first rate. When you write, let me know all the news. Give my love to Pop and all the rest of the folks and direct your letters to Richard H. Hulse, Company F, 5th Artillery, Fort Marshall, Baltimore, Maryland
Write as soon as you get this. We may not stay here this winter but I will let you know when we leave so write soon and give my love to all. If you had seen me eating bread and sugar for four days—ha, ha, ha. I began to think how Mammy used to say to me you have been in my sugar box and then the answer would always be no. So goodbye all. Your son, — Dick, C C.
Write soon and send a few stamps as we can’t get them franked. — Dick
How glad I am to think that we can fire one shot more at the rebels and to think we can rally around the old flag once more. — Dick
November 29, 1862
Having left Chicago at last for Washington but when we arrived at Baltimore we received orders to stay with our regiment for further orders from Washington. I guess you know that we are exchanged and ready to go into the field again. We have no quarters yet but have to eat and sleep on the floor like pigs. All the men are dissatisfied and willing to fo and ramble about rather than to stay here. write as soon as you get this and let me know all the news. I have been here a week now. I wrote to Mammy when we came here but got no answers. I wish you will send a few stamps.
Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and to all home. While we was at Chicago we had one man killed by the railroad cars running over him. He was drunk at the time. The men buy whiskey at ten cents a quart. They use to get all the old stamps off the letters and buy their rot gut with them but while they are here, if they get drunk, they are fined 10 dollars.
Let me know how all the folks are getting along. I have not heard from you in 3 weeks now. I have had a great toothache. I eat nothing but bread and sugar for four days as we had nothing else to eat but crackers. Write soon and send me a few stamps as I want them when I write my gals. I do not know when we will get paid.
Go by these directions. Richard Hulse, Company F, 5th Artillery, Fort Marshall, Baltimore, Maryland
Write soon Pop and believe me yours truly. Your son, — Dick
Give my love to all and when you write, let me know all the news. – Dick
N. B. Send some stamps.
November 30, 1862
This being Sunday and nothing to do, I thought I would sit down and write a few lines. We have left Chicago at last and received orders to start for Washington but we got no further than Baltimore when we received orders to stay with our regiment at Fort Marshall. I guess you know that we are exchanged and ready for the field once more. While we stay here, we will have a little more to do than when we are in the field. We have 8 hours drill and have to dress so as to suit the Colonel for he is a gay fellow. We have no quarters yet but have to eat and sleep the best way we can but never mind, are are use to anything. We have not been paid yet and I do not know how soon we will be paid.
There is one thing our men misses since they left Chicago—that is running the guard and buying a quart of whiskey. All it cost was ten cents a quart and then it was old stamps pulled off old letters. When you write, let me know how the opening of the new truck went off and do not forget to give my best respects to them all. Write how the draft is getting along. They drafted here week before last. They got about fifty Jews. We had one man run over and killed in Chicago. He was drunk at the time and went to step off the cars when he was thrown under the wheels. All this for drinking the 10 cent stuff. We was very nearly starved out as we had nothing but crackers but I manage to get about 5 lb. of sugar so I had bread and sugar for 4 days and had to wind up with a toothache.
Let me know how all the folks are getting along and if Mary and Minnie has anybody to tease them yet. Ha. ha. How does the horse and wagon go? I suppose soon you will be riding in a sleigh instead of a wagon. I have not much to say in this letter but may have in my next. Give my love to all the folks. I wrote to Pop yesterday and received 4 papers from him. I wrote to Mammy last Monday but got no answer yet. The men are making quite a fuss because they do not get paid. They have not been paid in 8 months and some have large families in New York. I guess I will have to close now by wishing you goodbye. Yours truly. Your nephew, — Dick, C.C.
Write soon and let me know all the news. Yours, — Dick
December 2, 1862
Dear Father & Mother,
I received both of your letters this afternoon. I got the paper day before yesterday. I am well and getting along first rate. We have no quarters yet but there is a rumor of us going back to Washington where we was ordered. They have quite a time here with contraband goods. We had a scouting party sent out last week and captured a magazine loaded with powder and stuff intended for the rebels, It is underground and we have the twenty men in our guard house who was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the affair.
You wrote what a good dinner you had on Thanksgiving but I had nothing different from salt horse and bread and soup, but I was satisfied and so was the rest. I will go down to Adam’s Express and see about the box. Whiskey is not so cheap here for the men as it is in Chicago. There they were buying it for 10 cents a canteen. Our captain is a little better than he was. Our shanty looks like a horse stable where we sleep. We have stalls and fill them with straw and since we have been here we are treated like dogs. I am afraid they will march out of the fort on their own accord for they say they would sooner lay on the ground than to stay where they are. We have the roughest set of men I think in the whole army. I have left my posish on account of the men getting jealous but the captain says he will not let me go and says he will fix the jealousy ones. We have not done any guard duty yet nor drilled.
While we was at Harper’s Ferry our company with the officers were buying pies from a rebel and when we left, they dished him out of a hundred dollars and this last week, he sent a letter saying he would like to have the money but the answers was among the men (let him go to the devil). I have not much to say now but may have soon so give my love to all and all. So take care of yourself like I am doing. Yours truly. Your son, — Dick, remaining a C.C. [Company Clerk] yet.
Write as soon as you get this, — Dick
December 14, 1862
Dear Father & Mammy,
I received your letter yesterday and was glad to find you all all well. I have not forgot the box yet but I suppose I will get it tomorrow. I have got no answer from Joe Davis yet. I do not believe we are exchanged yet as we have no answer yet and a good many says we are not. Maybe you can tell but our officers say we are. Our Colonel is under arrest and so is the Major. They are at Washington. I wish you will please tell Uncle John to send on a check so as I can draw a few dollars as it is very cold out here to wash our clothes so we will have to have a company wash woman. Our officers think we will not stay here long as we are inspected most every other day by General Morris, commander of Baltimore.
I believe we will never be paid as the paymaster is a Jew and likes to keep the money on interest as long as he can. Write as soon as you get this and let me know all the news. We are all homesick of staying inside of this fort and most all of the company has deserted. We had at Harper’s Ferry 132 men and four lieutenants but now we have 74 men. I would like to be home [on] New Years but I guess I will stay where I am.
Our grub is getting very poor and do not know how long the men will stand it. They are all the time growling and our officers say themselves we are not treated right. If ever I get home, I am done soldiering. We do nothing but lay in our bunks all day. Once in awhile we drill.
Give my love to all the folks and Sarah and Grandma and all the folks at Yorkville. I will have to close now. Yours truly. Your son, — Dick, H. P. (High Private)
Write soon and tell Uncle John about the checks for I cannot play washwoman till next summer.
You will have to send on the receipt of that Harper’s Ferry box before I can get it so they will write on for it. — Dick
Give my love to all and write soon. No more till next time from a half-starved Harper’s Ferry prisoner.
Hurrah, hurrah, the Stars and Stripes Hurrah
Hurrah for the Heavy Fifth that vindicates the law.
December 17, 1862
Dear Father & Mammy,
Having just received the box, I thought I would sit down to write to let you know you could not have sent anything to suit me better than the box. Tell Aunt Sarah the cakes went very nice. I am afraid to open the box of honey because I do not like it much. I suppose you know better than that. You can tell what sweet meats I use to eat when I was at home.
Well I do not know what they are going to [do] with us. Some say disband us. Others say we will be sent in the field again to fight for our broken down country.
I am very much obliged to you for the segars as I have been smoking coffee grounds for a long time. There is a good many of our men deserted. I would like to be home New Years but I suppose I will have to stay here. Well, Pop, I have seen as much as I want of the army. I would not mind it half as much if we was traveling around but staying inside of a fort sickens a fellow.
I think that cup of butter is something extra as it does not taste like common butter. I have not much to say now but I see if I can make up something. Write as soon as you can. Give my love to all and when you write, give all the news. Please see Uncle John about sending me a check so as I can draw a few dollars from the bank.
We have no arms yet but do nothing but drill. Let me know what you think about us being exchanged or not. It looks as if we were not exchanged. So write soon. Give my love to Joe, Sarah, and Albert, and tell Albert to write. So yours truly. Your son, — Dick
I send my love to all the folks at Yorkville.
December 20, 1862
As our quartermaster sergeant is going to New York, I thought I would sit down and write a few lines. I will send by him a record of our company for you. We have got our pay at last but only three months. I have bought a large pair of boots, 3 shirts, necktie and a great many other things I needed. You need not send that check. we will get the rest of our money next pay day. Most of our men is going home to see their family. I am coming home next pay day. There is no furlough issued so we go on our own hook and nothing is said to them when they return to camp.
I received the box and opened it with great joy. I could not have anything to suit me better than that box. I have got my likeness taken and will bring it with me when I come home. Our Lieutenants is going home the same way and they say it is no more than right as long as the men return safe with two weeks. We have got our arms now and all our harness. I am well and as fat as ever but I am bound to see New York once more before I get killed in this war. Our sergeant is going to start this afternoon for New York and he will bring this letter and that record to you as that is the only Christmas present I can send to you.
I wrote two letters to you but got no answer yet. I tell you, it is getting very cold here. My cup of butter was like ice and my ink froze too. This was where I sleep. I cannot come home by New Year’s as the captain is lying very sick at the hospital and I am there to take care of him. I am the captain’s boy now. Our other company clerk is coming back. I wish you will write as soon as you get this and let me know all the news. I hope Aunt Sarah will stay till I come home. Give my love to all the folks. So no more at present.
Do not send the check as I can make out with what money I have. So long till I hear from you again. Yours, your son, — Dick
N. B. If my life is spared, I will return home for a few days about the middle of January.
December 30, 1862
Having received no answer from the two letters I sent you, I thought I would write a few lines hoping to find you all in good health as it does not leave me at present. I have been in the hospital for three days. I was struck in the eye with a stone and could not see for a day. The men have such a fashion of throwing things when a fellow gets in bed and the lights is put out. My eye is better now but it is as big as a bull’s eye.
Our colonel has been dismissed from the service. I think our regiment will not stay here long when we get another colonel. Our captain hopes he will get away soon for we are all sick of staying here. I would rather be in Chicago than here. We have got our clothes and harness now and look very nice when we go out with the regiments on dress parade.
I had a very poor Christmas time. It was very lonesome and instead of having our chickens &c., we had a splendid dinner of salt horse, bread, and bean soup.
Write as soon as you get this and let me know all the news. I have bought everything I needed for a soldier to have. Give my love to all the folks and tell Mammy to write A fellow feels very disappointed if he does not get a letter from home. Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and tell Uncle John to write. I wish you all a happy New Year and I am sorry I cannot be there to spend New Year’s with you but if I live by next pay day, I will be home to see you once more. Do not forget to write soon.
We have just got our cartridge boxes filled with ammunition. They say the rebels is not far off. I believe we will see another battle before long but let it come. I am willing to share the fate of the rest. That battle at Harper’s Ferry has learnt me a lesson about fighting and may see worse fighting than that.
So no more at present. From your son, — Dick
Write soon. Same directions now.
January 1st 1863
My dear Father & Mother,
A Happy New Year to you and all the folks. Tis with great pleasure that I now take my pe in hand to inform you that I am well and hope these few lines will find you all the same. I received the box you sent to me today and I am taking a good smoke for the New Year. I am very much pleasd with it and accept it as my New Year’s present. My chum has returned from New York and says he would rather stay here than New York but it is not the way with me for I will not be contented till I see you all. It has been very lonesome here today but I have managed to please myself a little. Oh if I could only be home today to help you to eat your turkeys instead of eating our poor house grub. I’ll tell you what I had for dinner. We had a piece of fresh meat, pot liquor, and a piece of bread. Ha. ha. ha. That’s a Fifth Avenue meal, as we call it. If a fellow wants to see times, let him go and join Uncle Sam’s army.
I am glad Jim has got work and hopes he will stay at it. Tell him for me never to enlist as it will play the mischief with him. Has Aunt Sarah gone home? I wish she will be home by the time I will get home. I suppose you are very busy and I hope it will always be so. So I want you to write as soon as you get [this] and let me know all the news.
I suppose you have heard about our colonel’s trouble? I believe he has been dismissed from service. I hope we will get another colonel that will bring us onto the battlefield. I am getting along first rate here but we must complain of having poor grub. It is only our dinner that keeps us alive as we only get coffee and bread twice a day.
I have not much to say now but may have in my next. So I wish you all a Happy New Year. From yours, — Dick
N. B. Write soon
I will send one of the secesh paper brought on by one of our sergeants who deserted at Chicago and was at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
January 12, 1863
Having just come off guard I thought I would write a few lines to you. I am well and getting along first rate and I hope you are the same. I heard you was unwell. There is five of our companies left here for Fort McHenry. I think we will go away from here soon. We are in charge of a Colonel of the 18th Regt. Connecticut Volunteers. There is three companies left of us. The General commanding is to be here today to inspect us and I have not much time to write. We do not have a half a hour’s rest a day as we have to drill and work all day. We are expecting our pay this week but I do not know if it is true of us getting it then.
How is Joe getting along with his work? We have got some very cold weather here. There is a great time with our officers of the regiment. Our colonel, I believe, has been dismissed from service and now there is a captain and lieutenant going to be court martialed. I do not think our regiment will stay together long as there is too many jealous lieutenants and captains looking for Eagle instead of the bars. This is all I have to say at present. So write soon. From your affectionate son, — Dick
Having a spare sheet left I thought I would scribble it up. I did not receive the letter you sent me. I will answer Sarah’s letter but I have not much to say. Give my love to Aunt Sarah, Grandma, and all the folks at Yorkville and to Miss Hall and her mother, and accept the same from your son, — Dick
January 19, 1863
I now take up my pen to write a few lines to you hoping to find you and all the family in good health as it leaves me at present. I have not received any letters from you in some rime. I write two letters to you. I have that tobacco used up and now I must wait till pay day which I do not know how soon it will come. We are expecting our pay every day. There is a report now that our regiment is going to New York Harbor. We may or may not. I cannot tell how true it is. Since our five companies have left here, there is three companies of the 18th Connecticut Volunteers have taken their place. They are our worst enemies. They shoot all our men who run the guard. The other day they shot two but if ever we catch any of them running the guard, we will give them Tit for Tat. Connecticut boys can not boss the New Yorkers.
I have to do guard duty very often. I only have 3 nights a week in bed. All the rest I am on guard and when we are off guard, we hav so much drill that it makes a fellow played out. So much for being one of Uncle Sam’s children. We are engaged every day shooting our muskets off. I can shoot to the mark but I can not hot a mosquito yet.
Write as soon as you receive this. I wrote to Mammy and Sarah last week and let me know all the news about New York. There is nothing that will make a fellow feel good but a letter from home. How is Miss Dolbeer getting along. Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother too, Aunt Sarah, Grandma, and all the folks and accept the same from your affectionate son, — Dick
Direct your letters to:
Richard H. Hulse
Co. F, 5th N. Y. V. Artillery
N. B. I received the Mercury you sent me. Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and tell Uncle John to scribble a few lines to a fellow. I have not much tosay now but may have in my next. Write soon. — Dick
My love to all the family.
January 24, 1863
I thought I would sit down and write a few lines to you hoping to find you and all the family well as it leaves me at preset. I wrote two letters to you but I did not receive any answers from them. I wish you will send on the receipt of that Harper’s Ferry box as the Express man says I can get it if I can get the receipt.
We are all living in hopes of moving. The report is now that the 8th Army Corps which we are in is going to Fredericksburg. Every week there is a new rumor about us leaving here. We have not been paid yet but expect it every day. We don’t have much time to rest here as we have so much duty and drill to do and guard—especially tonight. I have got to pack my knapsack and clean up for inspection which is every Sunday morning. We have appointed this week corporals and sergeants. I was appointed a corporal but told the captain I would rather stay as I was as it would be better for anyone. As a private you will have friends but the other way you will have plenty of enemies.
We are getting very poor grub here. Our officers has as much as they can do to keep the men still meal times. We have cooks that is not fit to cook for pigs. There is not a good cook in the camp. You know what a good cook I am. I have not much to say now but please send on that receipt and write as soon as you get this.
Give my love to all the folks and those at Yorkville. That tobacco you sent smoke very well but I will have to wait till pay day as I am all out. If I get that Harper’s Ferry box, I believe you sent out some in that so send on the receipt if you have got it. Write soon.
From your affectionate son, — Dick
Write soon. How is Joe getting along?
February 1, 1863
I received your letter two days ago and would have written before but I was waiting for the box which I got yesterday by Harden’s Express. I found everything all very nice. It was just supper time when I received the box so I just laid aside my coffee and bread and laid into the good things.
We have had a snowstorm of two days. I was on guard and got soaking wet. My gun was so rusty that it will take some time to clean it. Our recruiting office in New York is closed as recruits is very scarce in New York. I wrote to Pop last Sunday and told him to send the receipt of that Harper’s Ferry box which I can get from the Express if I had the receipt. Tell Sarah that Company I is in Washington or somewhere there abouts.
Today (Sunday) we all have to tend to meeting. We have got preaching in a tent. The minister is from Connecticut. He supplies us with reading every Sunday. We are living in hopes of our pay yet (one thing I have to say is God bless all my aunts, you and Pop when I look at my box, ha-ha-ha).
It is a beautiful day here but I would rather be in New York now that here. I have to keep a lock and key on my box as you use to say to me about your sugar. Tell Brother luny to see if he cannot write some. Tell Aunt Loretta that the pickalilly went bully. Give my love to all the folks of Yorkville and tell Uncle John that I am waiting everyday for a letter from him. Give my love to Pop and all the folks at home, Give my love to Miss Hill and her mother. I am writing before church time as I will not have ant time to write after dinner. I have not much to say this time but may have in my next. So take care of yourself from your, — Dick
Tell Pop to write soon.
February 7, 1863
I received your kind letter this morning. I will see the Express agent Monday as I will be on guard tomorrow and will not have the chance of going tomorrow. I guess you have seen in the Mercury about us going to New York Harbor. I don’t know how soon it may be—if it is only true.
Our captain is major now. He got his posish last week. He is liked by everyone in the regiment. He came from the 8th Ward and so most of our men knew him. He was lieutenant in a regiment that at Bull Run and was wounded in three places. We have quite muddy weather here as you have in New York. We have not been paid yet. It is very near mustering to get four month’s pay. The pay master is a Jew and has the money on interest.
Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad. So no more at present from your affectionate son, — Dick
Write soon and if you have spare time to come on, I would like to see you. — Dick
March 6 
Dear Father and Mother,
Having a chance to write I thought I would let you know that I am safe and sound but not in my old regiment. I was taken at Havre de Grace and brought on to Washington as a deserter by a detective but when I got to Washington, I made my way to Fairfax Court House where I joined the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry. I am getting along first rate so far but I have to fare worse than I did at Baltimore.
We are laying in two feet of mud and the secesh is not two miles from us. We go out scouting with our horses. We have attacked the enemy about a dozen times since I have been here. Our grub is a little better than when I was at Baltimore.
There was a rebel came in our camp two days ago and bought all the tobacco the sutler had and when he got outside of our lines, he says to all of our officers that he was a rebel, and we would be taken prisoner. We expect every night to be taken prisoners as we are in a dangerous place. Today it is raining and that’s the reason I could not write as we do not go o na scout rainy days.
When you get this letter, write as quick as you get it for we may not be here long. I can say since I have been down here that I have killed 5 rebels for the sake of our glorious Union. My turn may come as soon as theirs do but it will not be for cowardice. I can handle the sword very good and the pistol too.
Give my love to all the folks and tell Aunt Sarah that I will settle with her as soon as I get paid and if I get shot down, for Uncle John to pay her out of my money.
We have plenty to do all day long to take care of our horses. We are armed with a sword, pistol, and carbine, and can give the rebels a warm reception when we meet them. When you write, direct your letters to:
Richard H. Hulse
Care of Capt. Page
Company L, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Fairfax Court House, Va.
March 12th 1863
I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am safe and sound in Virginia but do not have things very comfortable here. We have mud here up to the top of our boots. Then you can judge what we sleep on. Everything us muddy. Our grub is pretty good.
Last night we was aroused from our sleep as we thought the rebels were coming as we are not far from them. I guess you read where the rebels made a raid into Fairfax. We have a great deal of skirmishing here. Our regiment is pretty well cut up and has lost many of its officers but thank God that the rebels has not sent a bullet through my body yet but I will try to do my share in killing them before I get shot.
We have plenty to do to take care of our horses. I wrote you a letter a few days ago and I hope as soon as you receive this letter or the other that you will write soon. I stated in the other letter how I came here but I will see hard times now as I have not seen yet. We have as good officers in our company as anyone would want. They furnish us with tobacco an papers and such things as we want. I have my sabre and pistol and horse. We have not colonel or lieutenant-colonel.
Give my love to all the folks and Mammy and if I get a chance to get to my regiment, I will try—that is, if the rebs do not pop me off the next time. I am out on a scout but do not forget to write soon. We are to move [from] where we are now to a place unknown yet but direct your letters to:
Richard H. Hulse
Company L, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Near Fairfax Court House
or elsewhere, in care of Capt. Page
Write soon and let me know all the news from home. Tell Mammy not to worry about me. Tell her to tell Aunt Sarah if I live, I will send in the money as soon as I will get paid and if I should get shot, tell Uncle John to draw my money and pay her what I owe her with interest and the rest for Mammy to have for herself. But thank God that I may have the chance to escape with my life as I have so far. So I remain yours, your son, — Dick
Write soon and tell Mammy not to worry. — Dick
Send me a stamp please and put one envelope and paper in the letter.
March 17, 1863
Dear Mother & Father,
I received your letter of the 15th inst. and was very glad to hear from you all. I was very sorry to hear Mrs. Hill was dead and I did not have much time to see her while I was there.
We have moved our camp to a place nearer to the Rebels. We are expecting [Stonewall] Jackson every day here but we are all ready to receive him. There was a man trying to pass through our lines with goods for the rebels but our men captured him and distributed the things to the regiment. We got needles, buttons, combs, and &c. &c. We are expecting pay here but mine will not amount to much.
Give my directions to Uncle John and tell him to write a few lines. Give my best respects to all the family and tell him not to forget to give my best respects to all the boss Cutler boys of Yorkville. Our grub is a great deal better than when I was at Baltimore. We cook in messes 10 men in a mess. My captain gives me tobacco whenever I want any till I get paid. I tell you I have plenty to do to take care of my horse. Give my love to the Williamsburg folks and tell Pop to write a few lines in the next letter. Where we are now, it is not so muddy and have very poor water.
Tell Joe to work at anything rather than to join the army for I am very sorry that I could not stay in New York when I was there. Give my love to Mrs. Davis and all the boys and let Joe know where I am so he can write to me. Tell Joe I was offered 50 cents for that knife he gave me but I would not sell it as I want to keep it till I come back—if I should ever live to get back.
We tear down houses that belong to secesh and clear the families down south. We have destroyed many a thousand dollars worth of property. Give my love to all the folks and don’t forget to write soon. My directions are:
Richard H. Hulse, Co. L, 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, camp near Fairfax Court House, Va. Write soon.
So no more at present from yours truly, — Dick
Fairfax Court House
March 30, 1863
I received your letter tonight and was very glad to hear from you all. I am as well as ever and I thank God alive too. We are going to move away from here in a few days. As you know, cavalry don’t stay long in one place for we have to be out scouting to see where the enemy is. I like it first rate out here. It is just like being at home.
I think Sarah is having nice times in New York now before she goes out west. We do not get any fresh meat here. It is all salt junk and bean soup. We was all turned out of bed last night as we thought the rebels was coming. We have had some snow this morning.
I have got use to ride a horse now. As you know, I never rode a horse in my life. We have a sabre, pistol, and small rifle. I am sorry to hear pop was sick. Tell him I received his letter but was so busy as the taking care of our horses takes up all of my time and then we have to drill on foot and horseback. Give my love to Aunt Sarah and all the folks at Yorkville and I am sorry that I did not stay and draw my money from the bank so I could pay Aunt Sarah as we do not expect our pay soon. Give my love to Mrs. Davis and all the boys.
I have got in a fix now that I will see some fighting and run a great risk of getting shot but I am able to meet my foe wherever I come across them when I am out scouting. I do hope the war will soon come to an end so we may return to our homes to see peace and happiness once more between the North and South. I am going to prayer meeting tonight for I do not know what minute I may be taken off.
Write as soon as you receive this letter and tell me all the news. Tell Uncle John to write. So don’t worry Mammy as we may meet together again when the war is over and our glorious banner flying all over the South. I almost think that I was never born to be shot but when I get in contact with my foe, I can take my part. So goodnight Mammy. From your, — Dick
Fairfax Court House, Va.
April 6, 1863
I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines hoping to find you all the folks well as it now leaves me at present. Our company was on a scout for days. We took about fifty Seceshers and captured some horses. We broke into grocery stores and barns and ransacked houses. We expect to go out on a scout again. Some of the prisoners will not take the Path of Allegiance. Some we took right out of their beds while their wives would be shedding alligator tears (of no account to us as we did not care).
Our regiment is under marching orders but do not know where we are going to but may be somewhere nearer to the rebels. I am well satisfied here and have everything as comfortable as anyone wants to be but I see harder times than when I was in the fort.
We had a little skirmish when we was out but slip out with a small loss. I wish when you write tell me all the news. Give my love to all the folks home and write as soon as you receive this. Yours, — Dick
Direct your letters
Richard H. Hulse
Co. L, 18th Penn. Cavalry
Care of Capt. Page
Fairfax Court House, Va.
Fairfax Court House, Va.
April 8, 1863
I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you all. I have not much news to tell you but I will see what I can rake up. I am just as well as ever and getting as much as I want to eat. The fun we have is when we go out on a scout and come in [with] some seceshers pigs and chickens and anything we lay our hands on. Today I had for dinner some fresh meat and beef soup, mustard, horseradish, peppers, applesauce, and a few triflings. We have to be careful how we eat things that we capture as they may be poisonous.
I wrote to pop and Uncle John but got no answer yet. We are still in the old mud hill which is up to our knees in mud. Tell Joe I think he is well off that he is not here when we go out on picket and standing on our post about 3 block from the others. We have to keep our eyes skinned so that no bushwhackers comes up on the sly and shoot us but I have got off my scareness now and I am not afraid as I have got my pistol and carbine loaded. Then when them goes off, then I take my sabre and defend myself the best way I can. Such is a soldier’s life in the cavalry service.
Well, I guess I will have to close, So write soon. Your son, — Dick
Love to all the folks. Same directions.
Dear Cousin, I thought I would answer your large letter as I have a sheet to spare. Well, if you think about coming out, I think you would be tired of riding a horse for three days hard running. That’s so. We have some comfort but it lies on the officers—I mean the head ones—to close the war. We men fight and do all we can to keep the Old Stars and Stripes flying. I tell you what, there is some fine secesh girls down here in Virginia, but they stick their noses [up] at us bloody Yankees. But we plague them by taking their fathers and brothers and put them in prisons for not taking up arms to fight for the flag which gave many of them a living.
Give my love to Emma and all the folks and tell Emma it is not so cold down here and I have plenty of handkerchiefs. Give my love to Miss Hill. So farewell till I hear from you again. Yours, (not very well known)– Dick
Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia
April 21, 1863
I received your letter tonight and I began to think that you did not get my letter. We have moved about a mile from where we was but go by the same directions. Our new camp is just as muddy as ever. We are under a new General and in a new Brigade. We have some very rainy weather down here and the mud and water is up to our boot tops, but we are living just as high as ever.
I can hardly have time to write to Sarah as we have so much work to do but I will write to her tonight. Then I must stay up and get a candle.
I have been out on a scout. We captured three men and wounded and killed about five. (I tell you what, it makes a fellow feel very skittish). I think I will see more fighting than I wish for but the rebels’ bullets were never made for Dick’s body. We had a great time down here last Friday. Two of our men got drunk and were going to shoot everyone but we took away their arms and then we had a great time as they fought like tigers. They was sent to the work house to hard labor for two years.
Give my love to pop and tell him to write me a few lines. I will have to go out on a scout tomorrow as we received news that the rebels were scouting around us. We was turned out of bed last week. They say they rebels was advancing but they were not strong enough for us. We are down here to defend Washington and vicinity.
Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks and tell him I wrote to him and would like to hear from him as he is one of the best uncles I have and ever will have. Tell Albert paper is very scarce down here and I am as poor as a church mouse. One of our men died last night about 12 o’clock but I shall never go to the hospital as we have got nothing but a horse doctor. Give my love to Miss Hill, Aunt Mary, and all the folks and accept the same from yours forever. Your son, — Dick
That note was thankfully received.
Direct your letters
Richard H. Hulse
Company L, 18th Penn. Cavalry
Care of Capt. Page
Near Fairfax Court House, Va.
My captain thinks a good deal of me and I expect to [make] corporal soon. Write soon. Give my love to Mrs. Davis and all the boys.
May 4, 1863
I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you all. I wrote to Pop about our five days’ scout. I suppose you have seen it in the papers. We are expecting to go out every minute as the rebels are very thick around us. There is a rumor about us leaving here to go to Wheeling, Virginia, or to Winchester. We had a fight here day before yesterday in which Major was killed and some men were wounded.
We are to be paid on the 9th. I am to get $25 bounty but cannot tell till I get it but I have not forgot Aunt Sarah. I do not feel very good now as my horse was taken from me. He was not a fast runner so we want nothing but race horses. Oh Mammy, if you only could see me frying secesh chickens and other things that’s good you would say that you would never take me for a boarder as you would lose by it. I took a hen from a secesh woman that weighed about 10 pounds. Then she began to cry. Then I took my sword and chopped its head off which made her curse me and call me a damn Yankee.
We have to keep powder and balls with ys all the time and our pieces loaded. The balls flew around our heads and body like a hailstorm. One man got shot four times and did not stop fighting till he dropped from loss of blood. And what sights I have seen on the battlefield.
Give my love to Sarah when you write. I have just time to scribble these few lines so that I can not write. The captain says I will make a good soldier as I am always ready to go out scouting or to do any duty give me.
My love to all the folks at home and abroad. I have not much to say this time but write soon So I remain yours for ever. Your son, — Dick
Go by these directions. — Richard H. Hulse, Co. L, 18th Pa. Cavalry, Care of Capt. Page, Camp Stahl, near Fairfax Court House, Va.
June 2, 1863
I received your ever welcome letter and was glad to hear from you for it is some time since I have heard from home. I was out on a ten days scout and wrote to you before I went but I guess the letter was misplaced. We are scouting around the country after Old Mosby but he is too smart for us as he knows Virginia too well to be caught.
I am now in the quartermaster Department. I am asst. clerk for the regimental quartermaster. He says I suit him first rate and will make it a permanent place for me. I have as much writing to do as I am able to do and I am leaning now how to go through military matters. I have a better job in view.
My horse wsa pretty well played out on this last scout like his master so he was condemned and taken off my hands. There is a great talk about our regiment being disbanded as it is a nine months regiment and being drafted and substitute men but I intend to stick to my country’s cause and serve my time out faithfully. I think the pay master will pay us a visit tomorrow as he is paying our brigade. I hope the time may not be long when you will have the pleasure to see us together and I hope we will see the time what that dear old flag will once more float over the southern lands and that every traitor is slain, but I think we will have to battle a little longer.
Our regiment has been out on a scout for a day and a half and took some prisoners and captured a large amount of goods. I have not much new to tell you now but may have in my next. I will write as often as I can and let you know the news. I wish you would send me the Mercury as I have not heard from New York since I left.
I like my captain first rate and all the officers and men. I have one New York friend and he is just like a brother to me. I am never in want of anything but a newspaper. I wish you to write to dear Mammy and give my love to her and all the folks out West and I will write as soon as I get a chance.
I suppose you will feel very lonesome now that you are alone but we will have to live in hopes of seeing better times but I long to see the time wen we shall all be together. So write soon, pop, as your letters is always welcome to your affectionate son and no matter how small the news is. I am anxious to hear from home. Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and tell Uncle John to write. Almost begin to think that he has forgotten the boy that they called Dick Hulse. So accept my love from your affectionate son, — Dick
Same direction. Tell Joe to write if it is only a few lines.
June 5, 1863
I received your letter tonight and showed it to Capt. Page. He said he would see the colonel and have things made all right. I prefer staying here as I am a great deal better off. The adjutant says he will see the colonel and have it fixed so I can stay here. I have not received any bounty, He says he thinks a great deal of me and will do his best to get me transferred. He told me to write to you that I will be alright so you need not worry about me.
I got a letter from my regiment about a week ago and the captain said if I would return, he would see that I was alright and he would try his best to get me out of the scrape.
Dear Pap, I am a great deal better off here (not only on account of my posish) but if I was to go back, I never will be satisfied as I think I am able and know enough to fill a posish and not be a private and run down by raw recruits. I am getting along first rate here. I have no enemies but gaining friends. My captain sees that I am a soldier in all respects and willing to do my duty so you can state the case to Sergeant Lord if you think proper but as long as I can stay in this regiment I will be satisfied, but not in my old regiment.
So as soon as I hear the news from the colonel. I will write again. The officers says it lies greatly in my favor and think there will be no trouble about getting transferred. So do not worry, pop. So I will close so as to get it in the post office for to start tomorrow morning.
From yours. Your affectionate son, — Dick
Write soon if there is no news and I will let you know how I will stand as soon as the Colonel will see the letter. Yours, — Dick
Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks. — Dick
I wrote to Manny this afternoon. Give my respects to Sergt. Lord if you see him. I was not treated right in that regiment by the non-coms so I am now where I am satisfied. — Dick
June 5, 1863
I now take the pleasure of writing these few lines hoping that they may find you well and in good health as it leaves me at present. It is some time since I have heard from you for the letters I sent must have been miscarried. I wrote to pop day before yesterday and I am expecting an answer today. There is not much news down here but we are doing a little scouting, capturing a few prisoners, and other things. There is talk of the enemy not being far from here but they do not come in large numbers as they are mostly guerrillas seeking after horses, grain, and other articles.
i see in pop’s letter you have left him alone for awhile but I guess he will not get homesick. I am now in the Quartermaster Department. I am Asst. Clerk but I do not know how long I may stay here as business is very dull.
I see Joe has joined the fire department but I think he is too quiet to be a bully. Thank God his brother Dick may soon be with him in his glory, Give my love to Aunt Sarah and all the folks and tell her I am waiting anxiously for the paymaster to come.
I was out scouting for ten days but my horse gave out so I had to return to camp and turn my horse in so I will get another one as soon as they come. I have not much news to tell you this time so I will close by wishing your good health. So give my love to Sarah and all the folks. Accept my love from yours. Your son, — Dick
Direct your letters to:
Richard H. Hulse
Co. L, 18th Penn. Cavalry
Care of Capt. Page
Camp near Fairfax Court House, Va.
July 29, 1863
Joseph C. Hulse, Esq.
6 State Street
Dear Father, I again write you, having been on the march for over a month. I have been unable to do so before. Our regiment has been in all the late fights and was the first to draw blood from Johnny Reb at Hanover, Pennsylvania. Our company being on the left suffered severely for the hounds attacked us in the rear. We lost our 1st Lieutenant a prisoner [and] had 13 wounded in this bout. On we went to Gettysburg where our loss was trifling [and] from there to Hunterville where the Johnnies again caught H__l Columbia. There we destroyed their supply trains, capturing about 300 graybacks and 500 horses, the best of which we soon swapped for our own wore-out creatures. Many of our boys have Major’s caps, &c., captured here.
On we went to Boonsboro, Maryland, where we licked ’em again. At Hagerstown we was at first repulsed with a heavy loss but subsequently drove ’em again and occupied Hagerstown. Finally we, after a day’s rest, came up with their reat ay Falling Waters where our brigade captured 807 privates and 14 officers of Lee’s army.
Our battle flag has now upon it.
Falling Water, Md
and two more fights are to go on it yet. I am well and have thus far escaped injury. Give my love to all. Tell mother [that] Dick is all right, safe and sound. No more at present but I am as ever your son, — Richard H. Hulse
Direct to me, care of Lieut. J. C. Golden, R. Quartermaster, 18th Penna. Cavalry, 1st Brig., 3rd Div., Cavalry Corps, army of the Potomac, Washington D. C.
P. S. Father, please send me a few stamps. I cannot get them here.
August 11, 1863
I received your letter last night and was very glad to hear from you as it is very near two months since I heard from you. We have had a long march of it since we left Fairfax, having traveled through Virginia & Maryland & Pennsylvania. We are now doing patrol duty near Falmouth and we are to take up our line of march today. I do not know where. We are to see some fighting for awhile.
The fourth of July was a gloomy day with me. I was helping burying the dead and such an awful sight—men with heads off and arms and bodies all torn to rags.
Most of our boys are so ragged that their hind quarters is scorched by the hot sun beating upon the saddles and the shirts got so lousy that they had to throw them away and very near starved except what we steal from families on our march. I have sold most of my shirts &c. to buy bread which we had to pay 75 cents and upwards for a loaf of bread and everything else is high. The water is very poor down in Virginia, sometimes swallowing lumps of mud.
I have wrote to Pop but received no answer so I did not know but you were dead or gone to the country so one letter from home is worth a good deal in the army as it eases a soldier’s mind a little. We have awful hot weather down here. We happened to get some corn so we had a good supper of hot corn. Ground berries is very plenty down here. You can pick a bushel in a half hour.
The talk is now that our regiment will be discharged and sent home as most of them are nine months men and the time most up so give me home once more (so Dicky will never go for a soldier). Oh Mammy, if you only seen Dick when the bullets were flying around like hail enough to make a man’s hair stick up on his head. But I have got use to it now.
I am corporal now. I received my stripes at Gettysburg. If I was only home, I could relate more to you than I could write. Tell Aunt Sarah I have not been paid since I have been out and will pay her if I have to come to Killawag to do it and I am sorry that I could not settle it before I was taken prisoner once, but I managed to escape and it was no more than a half hour before I had another sword and pistol in my hand fighting Johnny Reb.
Give my love to Sarah and Albert and tell them to be good children so I will not have to flog them if I should ever come home. Tell Albert never learn how to handle a musket for Uncle Sam does not care much for his boys when he sends them to the war to get killed.
I hope Joe will not be drafted. Tell him he better keep himself quiet for it’s enough for a mother to have one son in the army for to worry about. So mammy, write soon for I do not know where I will be when you write again. Give my love to all the folks and do not forget Uncle John and all the folks and tell pop to write if it is only a few lines. I do not believe there is a stamp in Virginia as we cannot get one. We do not get any newspaper but once in awhile we mage to get hold of a Sunday school paper. So no more at present. For yours forever. Your son, — Dick
Direct your letter to Horace C. Hulse, Co. L, 18th Penn. Vol. Cavalry, Care of Capt. Page, Washington D. C.
To be forwarded.
Peach’s Farm, Virginia
August 14, 1863
Tis with great pleasure that I again have the opportunity of writing these few lines to you. I am as well as ever. I received your letter last night. It was delayed. I do not see many papers out here but I manage to get a hold of a newspaper which had the account of the riot [in New York City].
The colonel is now sick in Washington. The last I heard of my transfer ws that the colonel had written to the Secretary of War about it so I suppose I will be all right. I am still with the Quartermaster’s and I am on the lookout for a Quartermaster Sergeant’s [position] and if I fail in it, I will take corporal in my company which has been promised me.
We are laying here for awhile now as our number is reduced greatly. I believe it will be filled up with conscripts and drafted men. We just left Stafford Court House last night. We went to Falmouth and took a rebel picket post with 4 men. We have been very short of rations and clothing. Most of the boys’ pants was so ragged that the hot sun beat upon the saddles and scorched their hind parts. Mine is not so bad. We had to sell our clothes and everything we could spare to buy bread which we had to pay 75 cents and upwards for a loaf of bread.
I would like to see home for a few weeks but I believe there is no furloughs given. I do not know whether you may have the chance of getting me one or not but I am about tired of soldiering as I have seen enough for to last me awhile. But I will stick to it till I get discharged. So pop, try and get me a furlough if you can—if only for two or three weeks. I did not get the Mercury yet. I wrote to Mammy a few days ago. Give my love to all the folks at Yorkville and tell Uncle John to write a few lines.
If I was only home, I could relate to you more than I can write and I wish you will write all the news for you do not know how glad I was to get a letter from you. I see Joe is getting up in the world and hope he will get along first rate.
I have a first rate horse to ride but he is awful wild. We are capturing bushwhackers every day on the railroad. We caught five about half mile where our train was laying. My captain is sick in the hospital. Our regiment numbers about 250 men now.
Direct your letters the same as you have been. We had to leave Stafford Court House on a double quick as we heard the rebs were after us so we burnt all the grain &c. and left there. Was about 1500 cavalry came in after we left. Where we will strike for now, I do not know.
Pop, send me a newspaper which has all the news in it about the riot and let me know if you know where my old regiment is now. I heard they were at Fredericksburg. I hardly know what to write now but I will write as soon as I have any news. So write soon. From yours forever. Your son, — Dick
See about the furlough. Give my love to Joe and tell him keep out of Uncle Sam’s claws. Write soon.
Stafford County, Virginia
August 23, 1863
Tis with pleasure that I again have the opportunity of writing these few lines to you hoping you are well as it leaves me at present.
We are now doing picket duty on the Rappahannock. We can see the Rebs and not only that, we travel from one side [of the river] to another. They brought over whiskey ad tobacco yesterday and our boys gives them coffee and sugar. The whiskey does not bother me but I want tobacco so I give my coffee and sugar for tobacco.
I believe we will not stay here long as they say this place is not worth keeping so I believe we will fall back to a place worth keeping. I heard the Army of the Potomac was falling back but I hope it is not true for while we are in a humor of fighting, I say go ahead.
The Rebs lays over the other side of the river. They have a strong force of infantry and artillery. It is Longstreet’s Corps and Stuart’s Cavalry. They talk as if fighting was suspended for awhile so believe we will have a little rest. Tonight being Saturday night and business in the Quartermaster’s settled up, I felt like writing a few lines home to you all. Let me know if Mammy has come home yet as I got no answer from her.
Our regiment is very short of officers. Our Major [H. B. Van Voorhis] is commanding it and we have nothing but 2nd Lieutenants. Things is working very smoothly along with me in the Quartermaster’s Department. The sergeant we have has not done his duty so there seems to be a chance for me as the quartermaster says to me, “Dick, you do your duty and I will try my best and see what I can do for you.” Our colonel [Thomothy M. Bryan] is in Washington getting conscripts for to fill up the regiment. My duty in the quartermaster department is very light now while we are marching, but I hope I may see home soon.
I am tired of this war but I am in a tight place (as the cat said when the monkey had her in his claws). We managed to get new clothes and rations plenty so all what troubles us now is we want to go home. Write soon, Pop, and give my love to all the folks and Uncle John. Tell Brother Joe I would like him to write a few lines for it is that what makes a soldier feel good (that is, getting a letter from home).
So accept the love from your son, — Dick
Tell Uncle John to remember me to the ten truck boys and tell them I send my best respects to them all and hope I may see the time again when I can lay ahold of the rope and yell, “Come you old boss of Yorkville!” So goodnight as it is ten o’clock and I am running the risk of getting put on extra duty for keeping lights after taps. Yours, — Dick
Stafford County, Virginia
August 24, 1863
I received your letter tonight and I now take the chance of answering it. Our regiment is still doing picket duty on the Rappahannock but may make a move soon.
In relation to my transfer, my Colonel [Timothy M. Bryan] is away and so is Lieut. Colonel [William P. Brinton] so I have no chance of seeing about it. I think our regiment will soon go up as the Colonel is about to resign and the Lieut. Colonel is going to take charge of a new regiment of cavalry and our officers is either dead, taken prisoner, resigning and other troubles. We have one Major and he is hated by all in the regiment. He has put the Quartermaster in arrest and other officers for small things. I think there will be a change soon. The Quartermaster [James C. Golden] says if our Colonel does take charge of a new regiment, he will see that i get transferred into it and see that I get a good position. Him and I is on very good terms. I sometimes think that war is a great thing for I learn and see things every day. There is nothing like living to learn.
I received them two papers and I will sit up and read them tonight. I have not much news to tell you as I sent you a letter before this so give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
I will see to my transfer as soon as I can. Please give this note to Emma.
Quarter Master’s Dept.
18th Penna. Vol. Cavalry
1st Brig., 3rd Div., Cavalry Corps
September 5, 1863
Fearing my last letter had not reached you, I now sit down as well as ever to let you know how I am getting along.
I have heard about my case and the Colonel says that I am alright—that they could not take me away as long as I was in the service. Our regiment is still doing picket duty along the river and everything is quiet. The paymaster is to pay us on the 10th instant. we will get four months pay. Our Lieut. Colonel Brinton is in Pittsburg waiting for a supply of conscripts to fill up the regiment.
I received a letter from Mammy but I thought as she was going to New York that I would not write out there.
We still hold communication with the rebs and exchange papers once in awhile. That Harper’s you sent me is a great curiosity amongst them. For that I received a lot of smoking tobacco. The boys wood sooner do picket duty where there were a body of rebel soldiers than where there was bushwhackers but we have to do a great many things that we do not like. So when you write, do not forget to let me know all the news. I have not received a letter from Uncle John in some time but give my love to Uncle John and all the folks and do not forget those at home.
The families out here are very poor and have to live off Uncle Sam. The quartermaster has just bought a dozen of doughnuts and he paid 75 cents a dozen for them. They do not want to sell things but they are on a trade for coffee and sugar. There is a gold mine out here about four miles away from us but they have not worked at it for some time. The persons that occupy the farm have moved to New Jersey.
Our Colonel is on detached service somewhere around New York. He is taking charge of conscripts. There is a rumor that Lee and Stuart will go into Pennsylvania again but if they do, they will come out a little quicker than when they went in for the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry has not done fighting yet for we have Lieut. Colonel that is a man and has proved himself a man. There is not a man in the regiment that is not willing to lay down his life for him for when he goes into a fight, he does not say you must go in but he says, “Follow me boys! But if you do not want to follow, stay back.” But they all go in as they know he understands the work.
So write and believe me your son, — Dick
N. B. So Pop, I am all right as I am transferred into the 18th Penna. Cavalry from the 5th New York [Heavy] Artillery and will stick to the service until I am discharged or else my bones is laid low. — Dick
Same directions. Love to all and abroad.
Camp Ballard’s Farm, Va.
September 11, 1863
I received your letter this afternoon and was glad to hear from you all. I think my letters are miscarried or else they are delayed. There is nothing new down here. Our regiment is still doing picket duty on the Rappahannock and all the boys are as well as ever and get as much beans and corn as they want to eat. We are expecting the paymaster soon and I guess will not turn him away without paying us. The Johnnies are still doing picket duty on the other side of the river but there is a rumor that Lee has gone north instead of going towards Richmond.
I have not received that newspaper yet. We have quite exciting times down here in the line of racing. General Kilpatrick and General Custis [Custer] has racing matches two or three times a week. We have some very fast running horses down here no wonder the war does not end).
I hope Albert will succeed in his work. Although young, I think he will get along. I hope Joe will have good luck this winter with his Express.
I think we will lay here for awhile unless something new turns up soon. Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad. I have not much news this time but I will write a few lines to let you know that I am as well as ever.
We are expecting our Colonel on every day. The boys miss him very much as he is thought a great deal of by the boys. So no more at present and write soon and let me know all the news and how you all are getting along. So accept the love from your son, — Dick
Tell Joe to give my best respect to the 10 Truck Boys and let them know that I am safe and sound.
N. B. Tell Uncle John to write a few lines and let me know the news and how he is getting along and all the folks. So write soon.
I will show you how I have my bed fixed. [sketch]
October 22, 1863
I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines hoping to find you all well as it leaves me at present/ We have had quite a long tramp of it. We fell back from Culpeper to Fairfax and now are advancing again. Our division was relieved yesterday and I think we will go into winter quarters soon. Our regiment is very small now and about time it was recruited up. I think we will fall back from here and go into winter quarters around Washington.
My captain [William H. Page] is with us again as he has been absent from us some time. Our sergeant led the 3rd squadron in the charge at Culpeper and got his horse shot twice. We had some fun in skedaddling around here for we had to fall back on the infantry.
I think our General Kilpatrick will rest for awhile now as all the men says he is a man killer and he will fight for that’s his delight.
I wrote two letters to you and I was waiting for an answer but I am getting along first rate and as fat as ever. I think the Army of the Potomac will not do much more fighting this year. Give my love to all the folks at home and tell Mammy I received a letter from y dear and heard you was all well. Tell Mammy I want her likeness too so I can have you both by my side if I should happen to fall.
I begin to think now that I want to go home and see you all but my three years is not up yet. I think I will have to eat a little more pork and wormy crackers for awhile. The crackers we get now is so wormy that we have to break them up before we eat them and get out the worms [that are] about as long as your little finger. We cannot rase much forage out here now as the fruit is about played out.
We now have the chance of picking chestnuts which are very large down here. Our regiment is so small and the officers all gone—nobody but a captain to take charge of us. So no more at present. From your son, — Dick
I suppose Uncle John has forgotten Dick but I have not him so give my love to all the folks. Tell Joe it is about time he wrote a few lines and let me know how he is getting along. — Dick
October 23, 1863
I received yours of the 19th and was glad to hear from you all. I thought you all had forgotten Dick but there must have been some trouble in the letters going and coming.
Well, all the news is that we are resting now and I think we will go into winter quarters soon. I wrote to Pop this morning and gave him all the news. I am glad to hear Albert is learning the butcher’s trade. Tell him that I think he is a butcher without smelling of his boots. I think Joe ought to write a few lines to me and let me know how he is coming on.
I received a letter a few days ago from my dear. I wish I was home so I can eat some fresh bread as I am tired of picking the worms out if the crackers we get. The pork is alright. But never mind. It is only for three years or a little more. So no more news at present.
Dear mother, yours was received today and answered right away. There has been some trouble in the letters going as I have wrote to you twice but I hope this will arrive safe.
I am getting along first rate and begin to wish this war was over soon. But I am afraid not for there is fight in the Johnny Rebs as they will fight till the last.
So worry yourself not about Dick. From your son, — Dick
Catlett’s Station, Virginia
November 3, 1863
Yours of the 29th was received today and I was glad to hear you were all well. I am as well as ever. We are now on the advance again instead of going into winter quarters. The railroad is repairing rapidly and [will] soon be ready for the army to advance. If you will please address Col. Bryan, Ryker’s Island, New York. he may let you know all about my case. He has been absent some time. So has our Lieut. Colonel. The regiment is now commanded by my Capt. [William H. Page] so you can see how we are short of officers.
I am very much obliged to you for the box you was going to send me but I am afraid we will not lay up for some time as Meade is [determined] to follow Lee up and give him battle wherever he can find him (so look out for Richmond).
I have not much news to tell you. Our regiment is getting their horses recruited up for a long tramp. Today we was out to drill and out of the company there was four men and a corporal to drill.
I have not seen the Mercury for some time. I think they cabbage it at Headquarters as I think General Kill [Kilpatrick] likes to read New York papers. So no more at present till you hear from me again. Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
Excuse the writing. I am in a hurry. Write soon.
Headquarters 5th Army Corps
[November 1863; duty as body guard to Gen. Sykes began on 6 November 1863]
Now being away from the regiment, I thought I would write and let you know the half of our regiment is now bodyguard for Gen. Sykes where we may see better times than we had. I think you will hear a great more soon as we are bound for Richmond. General Meade says he is going to eat his dinner in Richmond in fifteen days. The Johnnies have been building some nice winter quarters but General Meade drove them out.
Our troops is now across the Rapidan. Our corps is waiting for the railroad to get repaired so we can forward (on to Richmond). I have not much news as everything is quiet now and it is a big thing to ride along with the General at the head of his corps in battle (so we can see some fun).
I answered your other letter but received no answer. I received the Herald you sent but I have not seen the Mercury for 3 or 4 weeks. There was one of our Major dismissed from the service on account of cowardice and &c. &c. so there is a chance of my Captain being Major as he is the senior officer now. So no more at present.
From your son, — Dick
Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad—especially those at Yorkville
Direct your letter to Richard H. Hulse, Care of Capt. W. H. Page, Cavalry Escort, Headquarters 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac,Washington D. C.
Tell Joe to give my best respects to the members of 10 Truck and tell them I am as well as ever and hope they are the same. I have not received any letter from Uncle John yet.
Tell Joe to keep up his wind and pull steady so as to keep the machine a running. Instead of my pulling the machine, I have to pull the trigger and let the Johnnies have the contents.
Camp near the Rapidan
We crossed the Rappahannock a week ago and succeeded in driving the Johnnies to the Rapidan and finally drove them beyond Gordonsville. We are now making for Richmond (if we can). I begin to think that the Johnnies are pretty well gone up. they are burning everything and retreating for Richmond and our boys are following them up. It is beginning to get very cold down here—especially lying on the damp ground. Our regiment is still doing picket duty along the Rappahannock for want of a commander but I am with the supply train on the advance to supply the troops of General Kilpatrick.
I have not heard from you in some time but give my love to all at home and abroad and write soon for we expect to go forward soon (Kilpatrick is the man now. He will go where another General will not). So not much news to tell you now but everything is going well with me so far. I am as well as ever and hope you all are the same. How is the Express getting along and Uncle John too?
I will write to you as soon as I hear any news. Accept the love from yours, — Dick
Tell Uncle John to write and tell him to give my best respects to all the Ten Truck boys. — Dick
December 22, 1863
This is the first chance I have had to write to you as I have been a prisoner since the 14th of last month. I wrote to me Capt. McGrath to have me brought back to my regiment so there would not be any trouble. I am now waiting to see what will be done with me. I have no charges against me yet and I do not think Capt. McGrath will go hard on me as he wrote that if I would come back that he would do all he could to get me all right. I have been here now about four weeks. My company is doing duty at Fort Dix near the Relay House.
My captain is not Major but has returned to his company again. I am as well as ever but I have seen rough times in passing from one guard house to another. There was no one that knew anything about m transfer as the Adjutant that knew all about it had left the regiment and the Colonel also so I made up my mind that I would return to my old regiment. I am expecting to get out every day. We fare here middling but then the life in a guard [house] I do not like.
So write as soon as you get this. I wish you would write a few lines to Capt. McGrath at Fort Dix, Relay House. Hoping these few lines may find you all well, I remain your son, — Dick
Write soon. No more cavalry man but a Heavy 5th New Yorker
Tell Mammy I received her letter as I was going away so I had no chance of writing but I expect to be back to my company soon and then I will answer it. Direct your letter Richard H. Hulse, Co. F, 5th New York Heavy Artillery. Care of the Provost Marshal, Fort McHenry, Md.
I have a recommendation from my captain showing when I joined the regiment and how I have conducted myself which I am not afraid to show it to President Lincoln. He says in it that I have always done my duty as a soldier and never flinching or faltering and have proven myself to be equal to the best, and if ever the 5th New York goes into the field, there is something left of Dick yet to show that he is not a coward.
So no more at present till I hear from you again as it is some time since I have heard from you, If I get to the camp before I get a letter from you, I will let you know. I have had no pay now for a long time and hardly know when I will get any but I will stand the storm. It won’t be long. So give my love to all at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
Tell Mammy I got her likeness and I want to know what she is laughing at.
Fort McHenry, Maryland
January 22, 1863 [should be 1864]
Having now the opportunity of writing a few lines as I have not had the means of getting paper till now, I write to let you know I am still here but I have had no trial yet as my charges have not been brought against me yet. There was a talk about Col. [Edward] Murray was to have us all released but but it is a failure. There is about sixty men of the regiment here for different offenses. Col. [Edward] Murray is in command at Fort Marshall and Lieut. Murray is here taking charge of the fort. We have to work every day here. I have the job of sawing wood for the women in the fort, so I manage to make a dime once in awhile. We have about two hundred prisoners to work every day.
Capt. [Eugene] McGrath was down to see me before New Year’s and he said he was trying to get his men out. He said he got your letter. If I ever get back safe, I will never be so anxious to serve my country in the field again for I won’t run the risk of getting killed or maybe crippled for life and then had to settle for it in the guard house. But it is my own fault. But when I am two years n the service, I am going to reenlist in some other regiment as I am not tired of the service yet.
I am sorry that I left the regiment as I was well off and needed nothing but I am completely played out here of everything. I wish you will enclose a sheet of paper and envelope. Give my love to all the folks at home and accept the same from your son, — Dick
Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks. My regiment has been paid off so I stand a poor chance of getting any pay for some time but as the old saying is—live in hopes and die in despair.
Letters 57 & 58
Two letters by Lt. Joseph Murray written to Richard’s father giving him the status of Richard’s court martial hearing.
January 30th 1863 [should be 1864]
I received your ever welcome letter and was glad to hear you was well but worrying. But Mammy, you need not worry yourself as I will come out safe. You can tell Pop I went today to have my court martial so everything went off nice but they have postponed my case till Monday on account of my captain not being here. Lieut. Murray is doing all he can for me and I have found him to be a friend to me. I am gettin along here first rate—only I am in close quarters. I have written to Pop and expect a letter tomorrow.
I wish you to give my love to all of Uncle John’s folks and let him know all the news. Tell Sarah to write and let me know how my bog brother is getting on or else I will forget that I have any brothers. Tell Albert to write a few lines to me.
Now Mammy, I have not much to say now but I will write as often as I get the chance. So give my love to all the folks and accept the same from your son, — Dick
Write soon. You will hear from me again as soon as I get my trial.
February 1, 1864
Yours was received today and found me well which I hope left you all the same. I had my court martial [hearing] today and everything went off favorable. My captain and Lieut. Murray was my witness in my behalf. My captain gave me a good character. My statement and my recommendation from my cavalry captain was greatly in my fabor. My captain says he was trying to get me out without a court martial but he says I will not stay here long as the court will not go hard with me so I will have to serve a few months here.
I have not much to say as there is no news for we do not hear anything of any importance. I wish you to show the letters to Uncle John. I have answered Mammy’s letter. So give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
Write soon. I would like to see the Mercury as it is some time since I have see it. Yours, — Dick
February 7, 1864
My dear sister,
Yours of the 3rd was received last night and now today being Sunday I will have the chance of answering it. I have not much news to tell you but I am as well as ever, but could feel better if I was at my regiment. I have 18 months more to serve. Then I will get my discharge and come home as I do not think I will enlist again for I have seen about enough (it is the same as anyone would sit down to a chicken pot pie and get his belly full, then quit). We have some men here which has gone crazy since they have been here (on account of trouble and lice by which they are very near been eat to death for some of the lice here is as big as horse flies. We have a song made up about this place and I will give you one verse:
Oh Fort McHenry is the place
Where picking lice is no disgrace
Then we will all drink
Stone blind Johnny fill up the bowl
We have a prayer which they say on going to sleep:
Now I lay me down to sleep
And the lice around me creep
If I should die before they wake
I pray my comrades their souls to take—Fort McHenry
I have no more news at present. I wrote to Mammy and it is about time I got a letter. Tell Joe not to let this 800 bounty entice him off to the war for $2000 will never get me as I ought to know what war is and what a soldier has to go through. So give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and all my friends. So take care of yourself and never marry James Cooney. And ask Joe if he is going to marry that red-haired gal with one eye. So goodbye from your brother, — Dick
Write soon and let me know all the news. And tell Mammy to send me the Mercury.
Dick going to work.
February 16, 1863 [should be 1864]
Yours was received this morning and after I came from work, I sat down to answer it. I have not received any news in regard to my sentence. You ask about the fare. Well we get half rations and then it is not very good.
About liberty, I get passed out every Sunday and then I can go no further than around the fort and as about the company I keep for it about time I ought to know. Of course there is good and bad people in here as I have got acquainted with a good many who has been taken from their homes and put in the guard house on suspicion.
You wonder why I do not worry myself. Well, the reason is it was my own fault in getting here although I am sorry about but it will learn me a great lesson. The work that I do is not hard or else I would find some easy job. I think my captain will try and get me out for he said he was trying to get me out without a court martial and he said that I would not stay here long. Sometimes I think that I will reenlist again and other times not for I would just as leave take the chance in the field as to stay home.
It commenced to snow last night and it is very cold here. I have not much news to tell you. I would write often only I do not have the paper so give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and do not forget to tell Uncle John to write a few lines and tell him to give my best respects to my friends of Boss 10 of Yorkville. So Mammy, goodbye till I hear from you again and accept the love from your son, — Dick
The letter was very acceptable.
March 1, 1864
Receiving no answer from you and thinking you was too busy to write, I now pen these few lines to let you know how I am. I am very sick with the mumps and have so far kept from going to the hospital although I would get some treatment there but I expect soon to be able enough.
I saw Lieut. Murray and he has not heard yet what my sentence is but he says it will be no more than 3 months so I have been here three months and expect to get out soon. My captain is doing all he can for me. He says the reason why he did not write to you was because he thought that he would get me out without a court martial. I would have written before to you but then I am a broke down sport. I do not eat much as my throat is too sore for such course food. It is the first and last time that ever I will be in such a place as this is. This is just learned me a good lesson.
I have not much to say but may have in my next. So give my love to all the folks at home and abroad. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your son, — Dick
Give my love to Uncle John and all the folks and tell him to write. Write soon and let me know all the news.
March 6, 1864
I received your letter last night and today being Sunday, I will sit down and answer it. I am well as ever now. I suppose you know my sentence as Lieut. Murray said he wrote to you and told you all about it. Well about my pay, I have not received any money now this six months. My pay and allowances is stopped as long as I am sentenced here. Lieut. Murray said he would try & get my parole of the fort so as I can go in and out when I please but I think as soon as my captain finds out my sentence, I will be released and Lieutenant Murray says as soon as the general comes here (that is, General Morris), he will see him and try to have my sentence remitted.
Well, Pop, you talk about sending me some things for they will be very acceptable now. You can send them by Adams Express to me in care of Lieut. Murray as I do not think it is safe to send them in care of the Provost Marshal as the letter you sent me before this one was opened as I think they thought there was money in it for they are in the habit of opening other prisoners’ letters.
I wish you would see Uncle John and see if I can not draw a few dollars out of the bank for I cannot get along here without any money as I do not know when I will ever get a cent from Uncle Sam. I have received the Mercury till this week of which I have not got it yet.
I have no news of any account to tell you so I will have to close by sending my love to all the folks at home and abroad and do not forget to accept the same from your son, — Dick
I wish you will please send me some hand tobacco when you send the things and some of them thick clay pipes.
March 16, 1864
I now pen you these few lines to let you know how things are. I am as well as ever. Lieut. Murray has been trying to get a copy of my sentence as he thinks they are printed by this time. I have been looking for that package as I am in want of some tobacco and have not had a cent of pay this last six months. I wrote to Uncle John and told him to send on that package in care of Lieutenant Murray as Lieut. Murray says he would see that I got it all right. There is a talk of Col. Graham taking command again. Then I think he will do something in the way of getting his men out. This place is very full as they are bringing in bounty jumpers every day—some with 300 and 400 dollars with them. Then we have a set of men here that will rob them of every cent unless they leave it at the provost marshal’s office. They will tear his clothes ad hat up in pieces looking for money as they generally sew up their money. Every morning there will be some get up minus their fine hats and boots. There could be a large book printed of all that happens here every day. I have not much news to tell you but I will write as often as I have the chance.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I will now close by sending my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
N. B. I wish you would see Uncle John and see if I cannot draw a few dollars as it is hard for one to stay here six months without a cent. Yours, — Dick
Write as soon as you get this.
Fort McHenry, Maryland
March 22, 1864
My dear sister,
The “Soldier’s friend” arrived at last. I got it yesterday. Was very pleased with it. I found everything all right and just suited my belly. The first thing I done was to get a good meal ready to throw away (that is, down my throat).
I have not much news. You can tell Pop I know my sentence. I got six months from the first of February [and] all pay and allowances stopped. It says hard labor but all I do is work in the Ordnance Department which duty is very light so I have about a little over 4 months more (so it is, let the wide world wag as it will, I will be gay and happy still).
I have enough things now to set up a peanut stand but I guess I know I would be the best customer.
Well, one thing [I can tell you] is that it is very cold here this morning so we would not go out to work. The boys used to say, “soldiers will you work. No, I will sell my shirt first,” but that will not do here as they have to work unless they are sick. We have men here with only one arm and wooden legs so you see this is a great place of wonderful things.
I have not much to tell you but I can write very often now so take care of yourself Sally and give my love to all that sent the box with all the good things and all the folks at home and abroad. So goodbye Sally. Your brig brother—but not the biggest, — Dick
Coming home from the Express office.
April 4 
Not hearing from you in some time, I write you these few lines to let you know I am well as ever and hope you all are the same. All that ails me is that I would like some money. I wish you to see Uncle John and see if I can not draw some of that money as I have been some time without money and will be for some time to come yet. I feel sometimes that I hae been punished enough for what I’ve done for I feel as if I ought to see New York once more.
I received a letter from Sarah but I have no news to write to her but let things be as they are. I will try and keep my courage up a little while longer. Give my love to Uncle John and all those at home. So no more at present. From yours son, — Dick
Write as soon as you get this and let me know all the news. Your Dick
April 9, 1864
Your letter came to date last night and received the amount enclosed. I have no news of any account but to begin, our regiment is going to Harper’s Ferry and so I expect to be released with the rest. It may be so in a few days. The regiment I believe has started. I think that our regiment will see some fun very soon. You ask me what I wanted to do with so much money. The reason is if you or anyone else was in my position you would soon know as my pay is stopped, the grub getting poorer every day, and then have to work on that, but I will want nothing more as I will go without anything for the present. As for whiskey, my mind is never troubled for it.
Now Mammy, there is no use worrying about me as I am old enough and learnt enough so far to keep on the right side of this wide world. I would have written before this to you but I was expecting to go away today but if I have the good luck to go with the regiment, I will write to you. I have not much news to tell you now but if I get down to the Rebs again, then look out for some fun as I am going in for a Generalship. I am going to stay in the army till the war is over or else sooner shot.
I write this letter tonight as the bed bugs will not let me and others sleep but I manage to get book or papers to read. About the Mercury, I get it every other week. I think the clerks in the office keeps them but never mind. They will suffer some time for it. So give my love to all the folks at Yorkkville and abroad and do not forget those at home although they do not write to me—although my brother need not ask me any favors.
So accept the love from your son, — Dick
When you see Uncle John, tell him to write me a few lines.
Fort McHenry, Maryland
April 17, 1864
Your ever welcome letter and package was received from Lieut. Murray yesterday—contents very acceptable. My regiment is beyond Harper’s Ferry. They have only released those prisoners that were not sentenced so I still remain but I will try my best to get there because I would sooner be where the bullets are than to be in here. I seen Lieutenant yesterday but did not have a long talk with him as he was busy but I will see him today. They are sending prisoners away as fast as they come here so I think we may hear something from U. S. Grant in a few days.
Tell Sally she is the best gal I saw for writing letters to her big brother and tell her if she wants to live with me when I get married, I will make her do all the housework as I am going to take good care of my wife—that is, if I get one.
Well, today is Sunday and a fine day it is so I can look at those pictures all day. Bed bugs begin to bite now so it is a good sign we are going to have warm weather.
Our regiment is now doing infantry duty and will be for thirty days. I think that this summer will tell if the rebs gets the best of us. I think we might as well give up but as Grant is going to do things on his own hook, I think he will make a blow as he sees fit. But after all, let the Democrats elect their president. I am one of them and if I was home, I would put my vote in for Little Mac—the pride of the U. S. Army. So Pop, do not forget to vote for Little Mac if he runs.
Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and keep a good part of it for yourself. From your son, — Dick
Give my love to Dick Seage and I wish him good luck in those lovely hours he will soon see. No more news at present. Write soon. For President General McClellan
April 24, 1864
Another Sunday and everything as same as usual. I am as well as ever and hope that these few lines may find you all the same. Nothing is heard about releasing the sentenced prisoners but those that left here are getting their trial at the Ferry, But my time is not long and will soon pass away. I am out to work morning at 7 o’clock in the Ordnance Department which work three of us does in a hour or so. Then we go out at 1 o’clock and come in when we choose. We have no guard with us now but we have a boss with us who is not afraid of trusting us all over the fort.
The only time that is lonesome to a fellow is the night time for I scrape up all the books I can to read because half the night is spent with others in playing cards which never interests me none.
I have not received the Mercury in some time but my chum Joe Davis has sent me some papers.
I will now tell you a cute trick played. A fellow was sentenced here for six months and having received a letter from his wife that his child was very sick, he said nothing to no body but he borrowed a new hat, pants, boots and vest from one of his bunky’s and then 5 dollars from a friend of his and left in the night time for Philadelphia where we all hope that he is safe and sound as his child was on the point of death but he will be back before his sentence is up so all they can do is to close confine him. There are some leaving every day.
The weather here is very fine and middling warm. I have no news of any account but I thought I would write a few lines. I wrote to you last Sunday. I got that package all safe. I have not seen Lieut. Murray in some time as he is very busy around. Write as soon as you get this. Write and let me know all the news. Give my love to all my folks and friends at home and abroad.
Tell Sally I do not forget her as I do not write but all you must do is to let her read the letter and that will be all the same. Most of the boys is washing today. It looks just like a laundry. We have a wash box now and the place is being cleaned and fixed up. It is very near diner time. Well, here it goes. Dinner, dinner, dinner. Then there is a rush for we are fed out of a hole.
Accepting the love from your son. I will close now, — Dick
May 7, 1864
Your letter of the 6th was received and long looked for as I have written four letters home and no answer came. But I will let you all off without a whipping.
I am getting along first rate here—fat as ever, plenty of good victuals, clean sheets, clean clothes, and plenty of good friends, especially the young man in the office with me who keeps me in segars, tobacco, and &c. as he has just received a large bounty. I have the evenings occupied in reading different books which will be to my advantage some time as we are living to learn.
So Sally, tell Pop I would like a paper once in a while as I am out of that dirty hole. You ought to see me when I get dressed up in clean clothes, just like a rag picker putting on a $40 suit of clothes. What do you think of Dick the doctor now—or will be. I help mornings in giving out medicines to the sick and then I got to writing which is not very pressing now. I want Pop to write a few lines.
Lieut. Murray is to be relieved here to go to his regiment as he had made application to but never mind, Dick will go on the first of August. But anyhow, I have seen enough of fighting. Maybe I may get a ball put through me because I do not want to die in this nigger war. I am a sound Democrat and say kill every nigger and those tat uphold them. What do you think of that stump speech for your big brother? As you know, I am bigger than you and used to whip you and Albert when you was bad, but I think my whipping has done me good or else I would come on a furlough and give you more.
So Sally, I might as well close. I have nothing further new of any account to [write] you. Give my love to those at Yorkville and tell Uncle John to write to doctor Dick Hulse of New York who went for fun and got enough of it—more than I bargained for. Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad. Do not forget all and you may keep some for yourself So farewell Sally. Your brother, — Dick
The sick Rebels are treated well here by their friends in Baltimore but our poor soldiers cannot find any friends in Richmond as they do here. So write soon.
May 11, 1864
I now write you these few lines of good news. After the long exertions of Lieut. [Joseph] Murray to have me released, he has just succeeded. We are going to start for Harper’s Ferry tomorrow morning. He sends his best regards to you all and says he would have written only he is busy and I will write for him.
When you write, as I want you to write to us both as soon as you get this, direct your letters to Camp Hill, Harper’s Ferry. So Pop, I am out of trouble now and guess I will stay out of it for some time. My captain told Lieut. Murray when he was at the Ferry on a visit that he wanted me very bad in the company as he would make me company clerk.
I hae not much to say now but you will hear the news when I get at the Ferry. Hurrah! Now is my time to have a hand in this taking Richmond. So give my love to Mammy and all the folks at home, abroad, and all over.
Accept the same from your son, — Dick
I am in a hurry now. The doctor is very sorry for me to leave him on one account and glad the other.
Richard H. Hulse
Co. F, 5th NYV Artillery
Harpers Ferry, Va.
Send a postage stamp.
Camp Hill, Virginia
May 19, 1864
Your letter was received but we was at Martinsburg doing duty so I could not answer it before now. The afternoon I came here we was ordered off there. We stayed for five days. There is not much new of any account now.
We had quite a flood here. The Potomac had risen and swept the pontoons and the railroad bridge away.
When I came here, I found the boys all in good health and was very glad to have Old Dick with them once more as the old members says it is nothing like having all the old members together to make it like home.
It is very warm down here but it is very cool at nights as we are encamped on a high hill and rivers on each side. What do you think of your big brother Dick washing his clothes in the Potomac. But then I do not have any ironing nor any starch to put in my shirts. You must know that we have to keep ourselves clean as we have to show our clothes on inspection. I have got a musket and accoutrements which I received about a half an hour after I arrived. My captain says he wanted me along. He thinks a good deal of me as I know he does. When I came back, he shook hands with me and I thought he would pull them out by the roots.
So hurrah for the Heavy 5th!
I want you to tell Pop to write as he has not written me in some time. I do not think I will get my pay this pay day but you can tell Pop I think I will get my back pay. So no more at present. Yours, — Dick
Give my love to all at home and abroad and tell Uncle John I wish to be remembered to all the 10 Truck [Fire House] Boys.
[Harper’s Ferry] Virginia
June 4, 1864
Yours and Sally’s letter was received a few days ago but I could not answer it as we are on duty every other day and then we just have time to clean our muskets and belts and take a sleep. But after all that I am as well as ever.
About a week ago we lost two of our comrades. One [Peter Boland] was drowned and the other [Philip H. Ferris of Co. F] was shot while on duty.
Well, we have not much news here but there is no sign of ant Rebs about. You can tell Pop that the young fellow’s name, Jim Crocheron [Cockrane], is here and sends his respects to him. Well, Mammy, I think I will be discharged as soon as my 3 years is up on account of me being reprieved so look out for the 1st of August 1865 if Johnny Reb does not settle me before that. Part of our regiment went away from here to join General Hunter.
I have no news of any account. I hear from my chum Joe Davis once in awhile (and also Carrie; they have moved over in Williamsburg [on Long Island]). When you write, let me know all the news. There is a fellow here by the name of [Theodore] Meserole whose uncle sold out his shop to George Veritran.
We have not been paid yet and will not till July but the boys do not let me want for anything as I am quite a lad with them. Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and tell Pop and Uncle John to write. Don’t forget now. There is a rumor about us leaving here soon but I do not know where.
So Mammy, take good care of yourself and accept the love from your son, — Dick
Tell Sally this letter will do for both and if she does not like it, spank her for me.
Tell Pop to write. I almost forgot when he did write. Lieut. Murray sends his respects to Pop. Well, I must make my bed now as I am very sleepy, having been on duty last night. I received the Mercury and my chum Joe Davis sends me the Clipper. Love to all.
[Harper’s Ferry] Virginia
June 14, 1864
Your letter of the 10th was received a few days ago but the time being taken up these few days I could not get the chance of writing. We was called out of bed night before last on account of the Rebs who were going to make a dash on our outer camps. We laid on our arms that night behind the breastworks about four miles from here but they did not trouble us. The country is so full of bushwhackers our duty is so very hard that all the spare time we have we put it in sleeping.
The 1st Battalion of our regiment has suffered severely from that fight they had up the Valley. I am very sleepy now as I have been up all night but I will finish this letter as I do not know when I will get the chance again.
It is Mrs. Baulch that moved over in Brooklyn. I hear from Joe Davis very often as he sends me papers every week. I have also written a letter to my dear in Brooklyn but you can guess who she is.
I have been washing this morning. If you could only have seen the boys in the river a washing this morning, you would laugh. We have rocks in the river which answers as washboards. I will not tell you that I can wash good for you may want me to be washwoman when I come home. Tell Pop Mr. Crockeron [Cockrane] has been here and I understand that Jimmy is to be discharged from the service. And also tell Pop to write as Lieut. [Joseph] Murray asks very often about him, and also Uncle John for it is some time since I have heard from them. I have not much news to tell you now. So give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
[Harper’s Ferry, Virginia]
June 28, 1864
Your letter of the 23rd was received and as same as usual very glad to hear from you. I have not heard from Pop in some time. I have wrote very often but have received no answer.
Our battalion is expecting to go to Baltimore and I hope Lizzie will not be far away so I can go and see her. You talk about beaus. I will see to that when I come home. I want your name to be Davis so you can guess who I have in view for you. You must not talk of ice cream for you will make my mouth water.
I had a letter from Carrie and she sends her love to you all. You must go and see her. Her number is 60 Eleventh Street, Williamsburg, and go down and see Mrs. Davis.
I have just come off picket and then I went down to the river and washed some clothes as I wash twice a week this warm weather as my mess mates are very clean boys.
I have bad news. My captain is wounded. He was sent out on a scout and had a skirmish with the enemy, The boys feel very bad about it but thank God he will recover. We are going to muster in for pay on Thursday. Ask Uncle John and Pop why they do not write. Lieut. Murray is well and is anxious to go to the front as our first battalion has done well. Their names as fighters is known all over. Col. Murray says the New York boys is a hard set but they will fight as they took 950 prisoners and arms. But we may be in Baltimore in a week.
It is so warm here that we just as not be on picket as to lay in our tents for the flies bite so. I am now a going to clean my musket and belts for dress parade tonight. The boys here are all well and enjoying ourselves first rate by going out and picking cherries and blackberries. We save up all our soap and candles and buy pies with them as the folks are very poor around here.
Tell Mammy I think it is hard for me to wash my clothes, let along wash hers but for the washboard it is in the river as the water has made some wrinkles in a rock about a block long which does for a washboard. Our rations here are very good. Plenty of fresh bread for I hardly know how a hard tack tastes. I suppose the times has come for picnic for my dear went to one [the] Mariner’s Church had so I was not there to see her alright. I have no news of any account but write soon. Give my love to all at home and abroad and do not forget to keep enough for yourself.
So I will have to dry up and not burst as it will not do for Uncle Sam to lose me. I only wish I was agoing to bring this letter home. Then I would tell you enough to keep you up every night. I mean my hairbreadth escapes when I was a cavalry man as the boys tease me very often about it for they say I am very wild since I have come back. But it is me that keeps them in good spirits for I am very funny and joky.
So take care of yourself, — Dick
Harper’s Ferry, Virginia
July 29, 1864
Dear Father & Mother,
Your letter was received last night & I now write these few lines to let you know that we are ordered off to the front. We are getting three days rations cooked. We are going to relieve the 1st Battalion of our regiment. Our destination is Winchester where General Crooks is going to make a dash on. I just have hardly these few moments to write as we are very busy in getting off, hoping through God’s mercy to live through this all.
I now close by sending my love to you all and everyone. From your affectionate son, — Dick
I will write to you as the time will permit me. So farewell till you hear from me again. — Dick
August 28, 1864
Dear Father & Mother,
I now sit down to write these lines to you to let you know that I am well with the exception of a slight wound which I received in the gallant charge on the enemy’s breastworks on Thursday. 1 We were ordered out to try their strength and fell back with a heavy loss. Our company loss was six men killed and ten wounded. So when you see my name in the papers, do nor feel ashamed for I am still in the ranks ready to give them the contents of my gun.
I am writing these few lines as we lay here in line of battle for they have just fell back from here. I wrote to you a few days ago and I would like to hear from you all very much. So Pop, write as soon as you get this and let me know how you all are. Give my love to all the folks at home and abroad and accept the same from your son, — Dick
P. S. This bring the first charge for our battalion, they rushed on till we got within the rebel guns, then we got fits. Our officers had to call the men back as we broke through the advance regiment.
So New York boys are still in the field. We had to leave our dead on the field so the rebs stripped them of everything except their shirts. Fall in just sounded. So goodbye for the present. Write soon. Love to all.
1 Dick is referring to the fight at Halltown, Virginia on 26 August 1864. Among those killed were John Curtis of Co. G, David Hoffman of Co. F, Franklin McDonald of Co. F, Smith Pittenger of Co. F, John Shanihan of Co. F, and Timothy Shea of Co. E. The following newspaper clipping appeared in the Baltimore American of 1 September 1864, page 4.
September 1, 1864
Dear Mother & Sister,
Your letter received last night and I now sit down to answer it. Well, I am as well as ever I could be. I wrote you a letter stating I got wounded. Well that is very near well. It was on my left thick. The ball they say that struck me wounded three others behind me. We had six men killed and one expected to die from his leg being taken off so you see I came off very lucky. I guess the fighting is over for us now as the Rebs have left the Valley. We are now on picket but we must keep our eyes skinned for Mosby who plays hide and go seek with our boys.
When I was wounded, my captain went around hunting for me so he found me and shook hands and then began playing with me. He upset me, kicked me around and played foot ball for he thinks a great deal of me. He was very glad that I was not wounded bad. The boys all thought he was in fair.
Well, mother, I expect to come home in March a the Major told some of the boys that we would be mustered out when the officers did for when we enlisted, we was to fill up old regiments so if I should be so lucky and I am spared, then it will be the time for me to give you all a sketch of camp life.
I have got some string beans which I must cook for dinner. I had a great mess of tomatoes and hard tack cooked together for breakfast. Last night I had beef steak and apples cooked with hard tack. You must not laugh at my french cooking.
I received a letter from Carrie a few days ago and she send her best respects to you. Write as soon as you get this for if you was to see the boys running to the mail with smiling faces and then get disappointed, you would not fail to write. So I will close by sending my love to all the folks at home and abroad. So accept the same from your son & brother, — Dick
Tell Pop to write and also Uncle John.