This letter was written by George W. Arnold who enlisted at the age of 22 as a private on 8 August 1861 in Co. K, 44th New York Infantry. He was promoted to wagoner shortly after his enlistment and remained with the regiment until 11 October 1864 when he was discharged after three years service. At the time of his enlistment, George was described as standing 5′ 11″ tall, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was a painter when he enlisted.
George was the son of Benjamin Franklin Arnold (1806-1874) and Emma J. Slocum (1807-1908) of Pawling, Dutchess county, New York. After the war, George married Charlotte B. Hubbell (1840-1896).
To read other letters by member of the 44th New York Infantry that I have transcribed and published on Spared & Shared, see:
John Gurnsy Vanderzee, Co. A, 44th New York (1 Letter)
John T. Johnson, Co. C, 44th New York (2 Letters)
John H. Lewis, Co. D, 44th New York (1 Letter)
Peter Mersereau, Co. E, 44th New York (1 Letter)
Charles Robinson French, Co. E, 44th New York (1 Letter)
Anthony G. Graves, Co. F, G, H, 44th New York (38 Letters)
Isaac Bevier, Co. E., 44th New York (2 Letters)
Albert Nathaniel Husted, Co. E, 44th New York (1 Letter)
Headquarters 44th Regiment N. Y. S. V.
March 31, 1862
I received yours of the 27th. I was quite pleased to hear from you as you will readily see. I agree with you at once relative to Mc[Clellan] as a general in the field. I received yours this morning. I have entirely forgotten when I last wrote you but I am thinking that I wrote you when at Alexandria bu I will give you a little detail of our march. We with the whole Army of the Potomac left Hall’s Hill March 10th, went to Fairfax, from thence to Centreville, stayed there the night of the 10th. The rebels left 12 hours before our arrival. The had noble works there but no guns mounted.
The 11th we returned to Fairfax where we stayed several days, then went to Alexandria where we stayed several days and embarked on board of boats the 21st. Arrived at Fortress Monroe the 24th all safe and sound. We sailed within 50 feet of the “Monitor.” I had a fair view of her. She looks like a large iron platform with a hogs head at one end. That is the most I or any man can say relative to her. Even when he goes aboard of her. I could see the marks on her quite plainly where the Merrimack hit the cheese box. It looked like the marks on an old piece of iron after being hit with a hammer merely started to rust a little.
Well the night of the 24th we encamped near Hampton—or where Hampton was. This was quite a pretty little place, originally claimed 25,000 inhabitance. The 26th we came up near “Little Bethel.” We stated quietly here until the 27th. Then we started for “Big Bethel.” I think there were 15,000 troops were out that day. We went on the same road where our forces marched last spring under Gen. [Ebenezer] Pierce. I took a good view of the old battle ground. I could see the marks of the cannon balls against the trees and where they took the limbs off the trees &c.
Well we marched up to the said Bethel and found quite good earthworks there but no enemy. They had a few days before taken their cannon away. Just beyond “Big Bethel” we found a squad of rebel cavalry. One of Berdens’s Sharpshooters fetched one of them. We returned to camp that night fetching plenty of chicken, pigs, &c. with us. That is the simple [ ] of the matter. The papers say the rebels were 1500 strong and that we did not occupy Big Bethel. Neither is true. The troops have nearly all got here now. We expect Mc[Clellan] every day and so soon as he comes, we shall march on Yorktown on the York River. I was in the Fortress yesterday. It is a noble work. The season is quite forward. The peach trees are all in blossom. The woods, flowers in blossom, swallows plenty, warm and dusty.
Give my respects to all. Tell our people that I am in good health. Never better. I feast on sweet potatoes, chickens &c. They cannot beat your pappy at all. I will write you again so soon as convenient and you must write me immediately.
Yours truly, — Geo. W. Arnold, high private in the rear rank.