Category Archives: Sketches

1862: George Josiah Sager to Emily Sager

This letter was written George Josiah Sager (1840-1914) who served with the 149th New York Volunteers. George first enlisted as a sergeant in Co. D. He later received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant. in Co. I.

George parents were Jacob Sager (b. 1807), and Rebecca Smith Groot (b. 1812). He had several siblings but wrote this particular letter to his younger sister Emily (1852-1934). Many of George’s letters have been published on the internet which may be found at 149th monument at Gettysburg. George apparently often included sketches in his letters to his family. He is credited for having originated the idea for a bronze statue on the regimental monument on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg (and also at Syracuse) which depicts Sergt. Lilly of the 149th New York “Mending the Flag.”

The brass relief depiction of Sgt. Lilly mending the flag on Culp’s Hill and the actual flagstaff, still bound together with ammo box slats and Lilly’s knapsack strap.
George’s original sketch, “Mending the Flag.”

The date and location of this letter is not identified but my hunch is that it was written when Sager was a lieutenant and had the freedom to ride around.


Dear Sister,

I received your kind letter last night about your visit and Aunt Amy. I am very glad to hear you enjoyed yourself so well. Am always glad to hear from you and shall feel it no bother to answer all the letters you may write.

Enclosed find a ring which I made myself. I shall feel quite proud to hear that you wear it. There are a great many made here by the boys and sent home. You will also find enclosed two pictures—one of “Bob,” a genuine “niger,” and one of our cook “Nat,” a good-looking mulatto. He made a dumpling for us today of raisins. Of course it was good but nothing like “Mother’s.”

I have not seen a little girl nor a big one either for as much as three months. They are quite a curiosity about here. Once in a while in my riding about I come across a nest of “nigers.” The other day I saw a lot of “Red Headed” little darkies. They were very black with sandy wool—quite red. They looked very cunning. I have some very good times riding about.

But it is near mail time and I shall have to close. Goodbye for the present. Write soon.

From your brother, — George

to Emily Sager

This ring is made of Laurel Wood. — George

The best quality image I could find of Sager on the internet; still a sergeant.