New York volunteer Infantry
Corydon O. Warner Collection
Set 1: Letters from Warner (164 pages)
Donated by Suzanne Warner Jackson
Transcribed by Sue Hotaling
Note: The museum does not have copies of the originals.
A PDF file of this set is here.
Letters and Diary
Corydon O. Warner
the Forty Fourth
New York Volunteers
typewritten by him
at Beloit Wis,
September 19, 1861 - June 15, 1862
Albany N. Y. Sept 19, 1861
Head quarters P.E.R. (Peoples Ellsworth Regt.)
Now that we have been examined and accepted I sit down to write a few lines to you. Our barracks are situated about 2 miles from the city of Albany, in a large brick building. Henry has just come in and brought word that Milton Davis and Balas Balcomb have been rejected, Milton because his lungs are not sound and Balas on account of his size. All the rest of us are taken. Just here we are called away to dinner, and I had to hurry for my share. We had soup, roast beef, potatoes and bakers bread all very good. For breakfast we had corned beef, potatoes, bread, butter and coffee. The govt. pays $2.10 a week for our board, the contracting parties furnishing the crockery, that is a tin plate, a quart cup for drinking and the like. We have all we want to eat. We have double berths fitted up 3 in height one above the other. Adelbert Clapp is with me on the top berth. Willis and Perry Morse at our feet, Henry and Balas at our head, Sam Steele and Henry Hotchkiss under us. Steven Smith is on the next row beside us. We have received our blankets but not our uniforms. I shall keep my clothes here for the present. Write and tell me where aunt Cora rooms. The fare down to New York and back is one dollar. I think if I am not sick I shall enjoy it very much. The barracks are pleasantly situated and a good deal of care is taken to insure cleanliness.
Direct your letters to me Co H P.E.R. Albany
Friday Oct 11 1861
Dear Sister Lettie.
As Henry is writing to Emma, I thought that would be her share from this place, so I would spend a part of this unpleasant day writing to you. It has been so rainy and slippery that we have not drilled any so far today. Such a day as this will make a fellow homesick if anything will. There are only six of us allowed to go down town each day, so I have not been down since last Sunday, I have not had my likeness taken yet, and now my clothes are all packed and sent home, but I will have it taken as natural as possible, as soon as I get a chance.
It seems but a few days since I left home though it is 3 weeks Wednesday last. All of the boys received letters yesterday except myself. I heard the news from them. You seem to have a great deal of wet there. I suppose Father will not lose his millet and beans, as I suppose he must be harvesting them about this time. I wish you would write ne particulars about how things get on at home. About the cheese, the flower garden, atc. Do you suppose the ice will get built or the barn moved, or will Grandfather settle the property any way this fall?
Everything goes on here about the same way so there is nothing of interest to write about. You wished me to write about the things I saw along the river when I went to New York, but as I went in the night I saw nothing. While I was there I visited Barnums museum, saw the hippopotamus and a great many other curiosities. I also visited Greenwood and Central Park, both beautiful places, but I could not describe them. Indeed I suppose I saw but a small part of them. Sunday of course I went to Mr. Beechers church, and in the evening to Mrs. Thalheimers, saw Will Henry and Elsie. Taking it all around I had a pleasant time. Aunt Cordelia lent me “Great Expectation” R. Dickens last work. You remember Tralls boy, in the Mirror, that was taken from it. Henry offers to put this with his letter, and I guess I will save a stamp and envelope by doing so.
Your affectionate brother, Cory
Head quarters Ellsworth regt Oct 17 1861
I was a little surprised and a good deal pleased yesterday morning to see uncle Fisk at the barracks. He came up on the night boat and got here a little before breakfast. After breakfast I got a pass from the Col and we went down town. We visited the Capital, and the agricultural rooms, and then we went to a store and Uncle bought me a rubber and some other things to the value of 3 dollars. We then got dinner at an eating room and in the afternoon we went back to the parade ground. The troops were all out on battalion drill. Soon after the Col who had been down town all day, came back and taking the men in charge led them to one side of the field and forming them in a hollow square and standing on a hillock he told them he had received marching orders and that we should start for the seat of war or Washington on Monday. Such cheers went up from the boys I think you never heard. There was a very good description in the Express this morning but they were all sold before I could get one. After we were excused from drill, Uncle Fisk bid the boys good bye and I went down to the city with him again. We called for a few minutes on the girls (acquaintances from Java attending the normal school) and then I went a piece with him to the boat, before parting he gave me 3 dollars in money. I have had my likeness taken but have not got them yet, will send them before I leave here.
The flower you sent me is a Rhodanthe manglesi I think, an everlasting. You had better save the seed. I shall write you as soon as I reach my destination, and perhaps on the way. You, I presume have a letter on the way for me which will be the last I shall receive before we leave here, for I do not think you will receive this in time to answer it.
Your affectionate brother,
Washington Oct 25 1861
To the folks at home, I drop you a line to let you know where I am and what I am doing. We left Albany on Monday last. A little after noon we marched into state street where out colors were presented to us. We then marched on board the boat, and about six we started. We had a pleasant trip down the river, as it was a very pleasant night. We arrived at the wharf at New York about 10 the next morning. The Col went on shore and made arrangements and about 1 we formed in ranks and marched down though the city to the park barracks (city hall park). We then took dinner, and soon aunt C came over and I had a few minutes to speak with her, and bid her good bye. We staid in New York that day and received our new Minnie rifles and about 5PM we started for the jersey ferry. We there too get the cars and about 7 started for Philidelphia. We had expected to start about 1PM, and if we had would have arrived at Brunswick about 5 or 6 where they had supper prepared for us, but it was so late we did not get it. We arrived at Philadelphia about 4 the next morning Thursday, where we found a nice breakfast prepared for us, but it was so early we did not feel very hungry. After eating we went on the cars again but did not get started till nearly 8AM for Baltimore. We arrived at [Havere] de Grasse about 1 oclock, the cars were then taken passengers and across the river on a ferry boat. The train then moved on about a mile and the engine then went back for our provisions and baggage car which had not been attached to our passenger train, and there we remained till 3 oclock without out dinners, though some of the boys made a foray on a cabbage patch. Some of the boys passed the time digging sassafras roots, and one party chased down and caught a rabbit. When the engine came again we got our dinner and started. We were about 38 miles from Baltimore but we ran slowly and did not get there till just dark. Every little way we saw small encampments of men especially near the bridges. We marched through the city to the other depot. We were cheered as we passed but not so much as in New York, NJ or Delaware. But however bitter the inhabitants may have been against the soldiers they would not have dared to make any demonstration, for besides ourselves being well armed, there were 4 or 5 regt quartered in and about the city. When we got to the other depot we had our supper and then went onto the cars. All the way, so far, we had had good passenger cars, but here they were cattle cars with a plank seat along each side and through the middle without any backs. Besides they were wide open and the night was cool and we were quite cold before we got to Washington. It is about 40 miles from B to W but it took us from 9 till 1 the next morning to get there. The road is guarded all the way by soldiers lest some enterprising Sesh should undertake to destroy it. When we arrived here this morning we marched into a large wooden building made for the purpose and called the soldiers rest, stacked our arms, spread out blankets on the floor and laid down and I slept soundly till morning. I took some cold last night and this morning my throat was quite sore but I feel better now. We are expecting to go into camp this afternoon but where I do not know. We are not allowed to go out this morning so I have not seen any of the city yet. I would like to know what sort of a night it was at home last night. Here it was clear and a very heavy white frost.
I send you a part of a bouquet the governors daughter gave me before we left Albany. I wore it in my hat all the way here. You may ask it all the questions you are a mind to. I write this sitting on my knapsack with a drum between my knees for a desk,
Kalamora Heights Oct 25, 61.
Although I wrote you this morning I do not know how I can better spend this evening than in writing to you.
Directly after dinner we shouldered our knapsacks and took up our line of march for this place. Here our baggage had already been brought. We soon had out tents pitched, for the ground had been formerly occupied, and the ditched were already dug. Our tents are about 7ft square on the ground and tall enough to stand up in the middle, they slant off to the ground like a hen coop. All around the outside a ditch is dug to keep the water from running into it. These tents are occupied by 5 persons. Ours has Hotchkiss, Rogan, Steele, Clapp, and myself but tonight Steele is on guard so there are only 4 of us in our tent. Steele has to stand on guard 2 hours and then is off 4. While off he sleeps in the guard tent so as not to disturb the rest when he is called out. I think these tents will be qu9ite warm and comfortable even in quite cold weather. This place is about 2 ½ miles from the city and a mile from the Potomac. It is getting late and I and I must go to bed.
Saturday morning. This morning out ears are saluted by the noise of drums and other martial music from all sides. I persume there are half a dozen camps within hearing, tho none fairly in sight. Everything seems lively about here. Boys are splitting wood, fixing their tents and doing other like bits of work.
We have not yet eaten any meals cooked in camp, as we have bread and meat from the city. I had got this far when we were called to get our rations for breakfast. It is now noon. We received a loaf of bread, 2 potatoes, some meat, coffee, sugar and salt for each man.This morning our breakfast was rather poor except the bread which we received enough for the day. This noon we have gone at it in better style. I have been washing potatoes and helping for the whole company. We have swept the street in front of our tent and covered the floor with cedar twigs so that it looks pleasanter than it did.
There have been guns fired across the river a good deal but I don’t know what it is for. It does not seem as if I were near an enemy any more than at Albany or at home even. As long as the weather is fine it will be pleasant here, but if it should rain it would not be so nice. There is a band playing out in the road and the men are cheering. It is one oclock, and I must close this letter so as to mail it.
Camp Butterfield Halls Hill Va
Dear sister I am on guard to day and as I have nothing just now, I thought I would spend a few minutes writing to you. I believe I wrote you last from Kalorama Heights. We struck out tents at that place last Monday morning and marched to Capital hill, a large level piece of land about a mile from the capital, where we reviewed and then marched to this camp, which is about 9 miles from Washington on Halls Hill in Va. It is about half a mile from Balls cross roads, which I presume you have read of, and about a mile from Munsons Hill where Charley Fox is encamped/ He was over here to see us the next day after we arrived at this place and again today. He wished us very much to come over and see him, but we need so much drilling I do not suppose we shall get a chance soon. Last Monday the day we came here we marched off 18 miles and I felt pretty tired and stiff the next day, but we did not have much to do but to rig up our tents and do out cooking. We now have so much drilling that we have hardly time to cook and prepare our meals except in the evenings and as it has to be done outdoors it is not very convenient. By the way I have no rags for washing and I wish you would send me something of the kind rolled up in a newspaper. I should like to receive a letter or paper from home every day right well. I can buy the New York dallies for 5 cents but I had much rather have the weekly or the mirror.
Saturday. I had got this far when I was called to go on guard and when I got off it was too dark to finish it. We have has very pleasant weather ever since we came here till last night. It began raining at 8 oclock last night and has been raining hard ever since. I was on guard from 11 to 1 and again from 5 till 7 and I had a bit of a taste of a soldiers life. While on guard we are all of us in a tent 10ft square which had no ditches cut around it and consequently the water ran under us and we had not a very comfortable place to stay in. However I had my rubber blanket which kept my shoulders and body dry and warm so that I got off quite comfortable. The boys at the tent had as bad a time as I did. The ditch got stopped up and the water ran under them and got the blankets wet, besides when it rained hard the roof of the tent drips some, and unless it stops raining soon we shall have an unpleasant night of it.
Sam is on guard today, and Dell and Henry Hotchkiss, this morning, when it did not rain so hard, started to go over to the camp of the 21st regt, but as appearances are I should think they would not enjoy it much. It is said that our pickets brought in word that the rebels had advanced 4000 strong 4 miles toward us. I do not know how true it is, but I know they sent out a picket guard 200 strong this morning.
I guess I must tell you that I have to eat and how I eat it. We have once and [sopetipes] twice a day coffee, this is all prepared for us together, but we have no eggs to settle it nor milk to put in it, we have plenty of sugar though. Generally we receive out meat and bread in the morning for the whole day, the meat we have to cook ourselves, besides we have potatoes boiled for dinner or supper. This morning it was so rainy we did not like to go out to cook indeed we did not get our meat till late so we sent to the sutlers and got a pint of molasses for breakfast, and had bread and had bread and molasses, it was just such molasses as you dislike so much at home but we were hungry enough to enjoy it. Since then Henry has drawn our fresh meat and cooked it, so we shall have something for dinner. I wish you could see our accomadations here, our horsebarn is a palace to them warmer and cleaner. The floor, though we covered it with pine boughs is wet and muddy. We have dishes but we have so far to go to wash them that it is impossible to keep them clean so we take our bread and meat in our fingers. I think we shall soon get so we shall not be squeamish about what we eat.
I was somewhat homesick yesterday when I began this letter but have got pretty much over it now, but I wish it would stop raining, if it does not I shall be sick of soldiering. I wish you would write oftener, I have not heard from home since I left Albany. You can now direct all letters to me to Washington D C Co H 44th regt N Y-S.Y Write often and tell me all the news, what kind of weather you are having, how many scholars you have, and I don’t care if you tell me their names, I want something to do or read. It is raining and blowing so hard that the drops of water come through the sides of the tent, and take it all around, it is a most unpleasant homesick sort of day. But I guess I have written you everything of interest, and I am sure you have enough of my whinings, so I will close. You must excuse the dirty appearance of this paper, I am sure you could do nothing else if you were here.
Your brother Cory
Camp Butterfield Nov 8
Dear sister I received you long letter written last Sunday and was right glad to hear from home. I was writing you about the same time, describing the weather and the accommodations which you have doubtless received before this time. Henry Hotchkiss and Sam Steel are out on picket guard tonight so we are not quite so crowded as usual. Henry Rogan has been quite sick since Sunday with sore throat, and we wrote Wednesday and again tonight to his folks. I must wait till morning to finish this, Henry wants the light out.
Saturday eve Nov 8 I did not have time to write this morning so I take this letter again this evening. Today we were reviewed by Gen McClellan. We started from camp with knapsacks on and marched about half a mile to the drilling ground, soon after reaching it began to rain. After waiting awhile for it to stop we took our overcoats off from our knapsacks and put them on. We stood waiting for the Gen and his staff to move around for about half an hour. We then moved around on columns before him, part of the time double quick, in the slippery mud. We then formed in squares and loaded out guns with blank cartridges and fired for half an hour or so, it was raining all the time though not very hard, it rained till nearly dark, it is not now raining but is cloudy. There was about 500 cavalry, 5000 infantry and a dozen cannon, so it might have seemed something like a battle only no one was hurt. Henry and Sam have not returned yet and probably will not until tomorrow. Adelbert received six letters last night and tonight the Mirror containing the Thanksgiving proclamation. We are having weather now very much like out September weather. Last evening was a beautiful one and I have husked corn out of doors colder ones. We sleep with our clothes on, but some nights we find it rather cold as we have only one blanket each, and now we give two to Henry as he is sick, if he does not get better soon I shall be alarmed about him. He has eaten very little since he was taken, his throat is so sore he cannot eat and he has no appetite. He seems to have considerable fever most of the time. Tonight I notice he coughs, I fear he has taken cold, he has grown very thin and weak and, although he wished he was at home he keeps up pretty good spirits. In regard to my likeness which you wish, I had 6 taken at Albany. I gave one to Lucy. One to Miss Oneal and one to a young lady who was boarding with them, and sent you two in an envelope the other I gave to Aunt Cordelia. I think yours must have been lost by some means, I am sure I directed it right. Charley Morse is quite well, is not troubled with homesickness. But I will write no more tonight. Sunday morning. It cleared up last night and this morning there is some frost, but if the wind does not rise it will be a beautiful warm day. My Sundays are of necessity spent differently from what they are at home. In the first place my gun as all rust from last nights rain and must be cleaned and prepared for inspection. We have to go out with knapsacks, guns and all such things and have them inspected every Sunday morning, to see that they are kept clean and neat. Then I shall have to wash some things, for it is difficult to gt more than time to prepare our food during the week. I presume we shall have services here somewhere which I shall endeavor to attend. Nahum Thompson was in here this morning and he thinks Henrys disease is quinsy and that he is in no danger and will soon get well. (In copying this letter I will remark that I never knew what Henry’s disease was till when my son Arthur was sick in New York city with Scarlet fever I then looked up the disease in the cyclopedia and at once decided that it was scarlet fever, the skin peeling in convalesance following only that disease.).
Sunday eve. As this letter cannot go out till tomorrow morning I thought I might as well tell you how I spent the day. The cleaning of my gun, getting breakfast and inspection took till noon. Even then my gun was unfit for inspection and I borrowed Henrys which had not been out in the rain and not so rusty, but it was till necessary to have my gun clean, and so after dinner I went at it again. I had been at work at it about an hour when a cousin of Henrys from the 21st regt came here and seeing how Henry was said that if one of us would go with him to his regt he would give him some farina and arrowroot to make some gruelof. So Dell said if I would go he would work on my gun. So I walked along with Jewett of Springvilleland he pointed out the ruins of houses supposed to have been burned by the rebels, but he said he thought it was done by some vagabonds from their regt. The country somewhat resembles that of New York except that the timber is oak, hickory and chestnut and the evergreens pine and cedar, but the fences have been taken for firewood and other purposes especially near the camps. The roads are simply cut through the woods just wide enough for a wagon and the houses are placed without any regard to them. I got the arrowroot and farina and a little currant jelly and started back. I came near losing my way indeed I walked near half a mile farther than I should have done. I arrived at the camp just as services were concluded, so I missed them entirely. I made some gruel of the farina of which Henry ate about a gill. We had dress parade at 5 oclock and afterward supper. We had some butter and molasses, we have to pay 28 cents for butter and then we do not always get very good, but we got half pound for supper, molasses is 10 cts a pint and rather poor at that, but occasionally get some on out hominy that is good.
For our daily food we get a loaf of bread, it is called a pound weight I believe, or a pound of hard crackers. About 3 days in a week we get fresh beef and the rest of the time salt pork or bacon. We have plenty such as it is and good enough if only we had conveniences for cooking. We have potatoes, hominy, beans or peas once a day, coffee or tea twice a day with plenty of sugar and nice coffee sugar it is too. All this is generally cooked for us but the meat we have to cook ourselves. For cooking the meat we have a sheet iron basin holding 6 otr8 quarts, which so far we have contrived to keep for ourselves though there are not quite enough for each tent. The soil of Virginia is not at all like that around us. When it rains hard and runs along the furrows, instead of washing together little heaps of fine mud, it is fine white sand which is very sharp and good for scouring our tin dishes. Where a hole is dug 4 or 5 ft deep, the soil or sand is as red as new burnt bricks. I should not suppose it could be very rich, but the remains of the corn stalks show that it is pretty good.
I saw some poke weeds while going over to the 21st today that looked quite homelike, but few of the leaves were as yet injured by the frost and not all of the berries were quite ripe. Well I guess this letter will do for length if not for substance. Although it is directed to Lettie it is for all of you and I hope you will all write. Adelbert (Clapp) received letters from Edgar and Mary in printing in almost every letter he gets from home. Give my love to all friends I would like to write to more of them but I hardly can get time. Even Sunday is not a day of rest.
I hope you can read this, writing letters is I know a careless habit, but it is not easy keeping a bottle of ink right side up. I hear tattoo sounding and must be out for roll call. Cory
Camp Butterfield Nov 16, 61
Dear Folks at home,
I received Letties letter of the 10th last evening and take a few minutes to commence a reply. We have been enjoying most delightful almost summer weather for the last 2 weeks, indeed ever since we came here with only an occasional rainy day. Yesterday it rained and last night there was a cold wind and some frost, but the sun come out warm this morning and although there is a cold wind I think it will soon be warm.
Day before yesterday was our cay day and that evening I received the first copy of the semiweekly Times, which I had written to Aunt A to send to me. The next day I wrote to her and sent her one of my dollar notes to pay for it and told her, either to send the rest to Father, or to keep it till I sent to her for something else I might want.
The boys have been writing home to have a box of clothes and things sent to them, and I with if you have a good dark colored woolen blanket you would sent it to me, and also if you can get a dark woolen shirt cheaper than here you would send me one. I have heard say that good woolen blankets can be bought for 40 cts a pound any weight you want. Here the shirt cost $1.50, I have 2 white part wool shirts that I use for under wear, and one grey woolen which I have worn as outside shirt, if I have another it would be all I would need. As for socks I have all I need for the present. I wish you would send me a good piece of cheese, it costs 16 cts here if we buy any. Two of our boys are going to town to day and I have sent by them to buy me a hatchet of which I felt the need a good many times. There are 2 axes belonging to the company, but when I get time to use one they are almost always in use. After sending this note home I shall have only about ½ dollar left, but about the only place I can buy is at the sutlers and I can get things on credit just as cheap as for cash.
The boys appointed Mr. Clapp to see about fillings and shipping the box. If we remain in Va the directions will be the same as for letters and if we leave you will hear of it in time. I did not receive any paper last night but I probably will tonight. I guess I will go and see if I can get this letter in the mail this morning and if I cannot I may write more. As I did not get this into the mail this morning I thought I would add a few lines this evening. For all it has been sunshiny a good part of the day there has been a cold wind blowing, and tonight it continues and is certainly the coldest evening we had had since we have been here. Tomorrow morning our camp is to be inspected by the general and we have had this afternoon to prepare for it and in so doing we have prepared for the cold in a measure. We have covered the floor of our tent with cedar twigs tightened the pins, etc. but imagine an extra blanket would not come amiss. The wind blows hard enough to jar the sides of our house perceptibly. It has been quite cold drilling and I was glad enough that I made the purchase of a good pair of gloves before I left Albany.
I bought me a portfolio today for 50 cts to write upon and to keep my letters and paper in. It is a very simple concern with a figured cloth cover two pockets and half a dozen sheets of blotting paper, but I find it very convenient. I received a letter from aunt C and another Times but no letter from you. I have heard some talk about our going to Fort Royal, but I do not much expect we shall. I should like to very much, or else to get somewhere we can make preparations against the cold. It is time for roll call and I must stop till morning. Sunday PM. This afternoon was spent in inspection by Gen Butterfield, and I must say that I do not think Gen McClellans proclamation about keeping the Sabbath amounts to much. We were kept standing out in the cold from 9 oclock till 12 and I am sure I do not feel any better for it. There was a very cold wind all night and today, I slept more comfortable than I expected, indeed quite as comfortably as any night since we have been here. We had covered the floor so thickly with boughs that they pretty effectually excluded the cold. Henry is getting better but is still quite weak. I am much obliged to Kitty and Willie for their letter they must try to write longer next time and I will answer it particularly.
You wish to know more of camp life etc. We now go on guard by companies, one Co each day, these are divided into 3 reliefs, and each relief goes on 2 hours and is off 4. During the day the guard has not much to do but to prevent persons from crossing the line without the permission of officers. At night they challenge all persons who come near, with Halt who comes there. He answers a friend with the countersign. The guard says advance friend and give the countersign. He then lets him come within the length of his gun, then if he gives the right countersign he lets him pass.. Standing on guard is not very hard in pleasant weather and I have never felt sleepy. I wish you would tell me how father succeeded in getting pay for his cheese and how the beans and other crops turned out. I believe I have nothing more of interest to write and I must write Uncle Fisk, and will close with love to all friends. Cort
I was on guard Last evening and about 8 oclock Bell came out to guard the house with your long letter of the 16th and I enjoyed the reading of it much. I also received one from Olivia. There was one young fellow who received a letter from his sister commiserating him on account of his hard bed and sent him 2 feathers for a pillow.
Last Wednesday we were reviews by Gen McClellan, his staff and the President. I presume you have read an account of it in the papers which will be more correct than I can write. I should have liked to have you all seen it. I dare say it was more of a sight than you often see even on the 4th of July. There were some 60 cannon that were fired off 6 a time as fast as they could be loaded, but they did not seem so much as a single cannon at home. Not a day passes but we hear some firing. As we were coming back from the review we saw a large balloon near the ground which at first appeared to be stationary, but we soon saw that it was moving along near the ground, we passed along across the track of it and after crossing a little stream out Col halted us and allowed us to stand and watch look at it until it passed entirely by us. There were 3 men in the basket and others around it to hold it down and 5 or 6 men towing it. The top of it was about 60 ft from the ground. On one side was painted on large letters “the intrepid”. On the other side was an eagle, holding in his claw an American flag and under it a picture of McClellan, Henry saw the balloon up in the air, I suppose making observations.
This forenoon was passed in the customary inspection which took till about 11 oclock. This afternoon we attended church service which was rather short on account of the cold. Last night it froze hard enough to stiffen the ground some and today it is quite cold, however we have slept quite comfortably every night since we have been here.
Henry is gaining strength but still looks poor. 5 have died within a week out of our regt. I expect we shall soon be called to attend the funeral of one of them, I expect we shall leave this place soon. Our captain said that he would bet his wages against that of one of the privates that we would not pass another inspection here in this pace. As much as to say we should not stay a week.
I have just heard 3 volleys of muskets fired, the last honors for the departed dead and now martial music of the band returning from the burial, I presume it is someone from the other regt lying near us.
In my last letter home I sent you or Father a 5 dollar note I want you to acknowledge the receipt of it as soon as you get it, I also sent on to aunt C which I have not heard from yet. We are all hoping we shall leave here soon, but I don’t know as we shall. I am glad you received those likenesses at last, I am sure I cannot account for the delay. I hear the call for dress parade and I must stop writing.
It was quite cold on dress parade this evening, but Gen McClellan came and took a look at us and told our Col that, we, his regt was the best in the services, which made us feel pretty good nice I can tell you. We gave him three hearty cheers. Out lieutenant told us that the officers had received orders to pack up everything that was not absolutely necessary for them to have, and send them to some store houses soon as possible as the quartermaster could not transport them, from which I judge we are likely to move soon.
Tonight it is dark and half and snowing but very silently, and I think it is not as cold as it was during the day.
Henry Hogan says that as soon as it gets warm enough so that he can sit up without a blanket around, he will write to you. He thinks if you will send him a letter as long as my last he will be satisfied. By the way that letter was written clear to the end of the sheet and no signature unless there was another sheet, that I did not get, there were three in it. I think there is nothing more of interest to write. I have written a letter to uncle P which will go out at the same time as this. Livia said they had sent or would send me a paper, but I have received none. Dell had the Ledgers from home. Newsboys come into camp every day, yesterday I bot a harpers Weekley for 10 cts which I will send to you if I can find it. Your brother Cory
Monday morning. It cleared up last night and froze quite hard this morning is a most clear one, the band is playing, sweet home how sweet it sounds.
Camp Butterfield Va Nov 29 1861
Yesterday was Thanksgiving day. The day before while out on drill in the morning the Col formed us in square and the adjutant read the proclamation of [lov] Morgan to the soldiers. The Col then told us we should have a holiday tomorrow, and that those that had to go on guard should have it the day after. We boys concluded to have thanksgiving dinner, so we sent and bought 4 cans of oyster crackers, 1 butter, etc. The next morning I was not detailed for guard, and I thought I should have the day to myself, but unluckly I wad detailed to wait on the cooks, fetch wood and water so I missed hearing the sermon which chaplain preached. However I had time to partake on the oysters which the boys had prepared and they were very good. The day was very warm and pleasant. This morning quite a hard wind is blowing but it is so warm that it seems more like May than the 29th of Nov.
IO sent you a copy of a military map. We are about 7 or 8 miles west of Washington and about 10 north of Alexandria. On a hill a few rods from where the unfinished dome of the capital can be plainly seen, and the seminary which is about a mile from Alexandria is in plain sight. We are about ¾ of a mile from the RR that runs from A to Centerville.
Tonight it is as dark as well can be, but to stand out on the street and look toward the west it looks as if there was a clear streak down near the horizon, but it is all caused by the fires in other camps. These camps look finely to look down on them from a hill when they are all lighted up.
Dec 8th. I was on guard again last night, and was not relieved until nearly noon, and after eating my dinner, I commenced to read, but soon fell asleep, and did not wake till after they had fell in for church. So I thought the afternoon would be as well spent in writing to you. The last 3 days have been beautiful warm ones, more like Sept. than Dec. Last Sunday did not seem much like Sabbath, for nearly all the boys were engaged in
fixing up their tents, and the noise of axes and hammers were the only sounds heard. As I had been on guard the night before I felt too tired to beak the Sabbath, but Monday Dell and I went at it and cut down an oak and split it, and by odd times we had the sides of our tent raised some 3 ft by Tuesday night. We sent to W for a stove which came Friday night, it is of sheet iron about 15 inches long and 12 high with one griddle. It cost us $3.75. We can now be quite comfortable even in cold weather. The mail has just come and I have a long letter from uncle P and Olivia.
Camp Butterfield Dec 16 1861
Dear mother, I received your long letter of the [8th] last Friday, but have been to busy to answer it until now. Saturday our regt was on picket, that is to say 36 from each CO, Henry Hotchkiss and Dell from our tent. I should have written yesterday, but as there were but few left for guard duty I had to go though I was on Thursday. Yesterday was very pleasant though in the morning I thought we should have rain before night. Last night was a most pleasant night, the moon was full and the sky was clear, the glistening of the muskets of the sentinel could be seen for a long ways, as they paced to and fro in the soft rays of the queen of night.
Our camp looks more like a grand picnic party, than a hostile camp, the sides of the streets are lined with evergreens almost hiding the tents whose white tops peep up over the foliage, and over the center street there is an evergreen arch about 25 ft high over which the stars and stripes wave in all their beauty. It seems strange that we should have so much fine weather at this time of the year even here. It has not rained for more than 3 weeks, and the ground has been frozen but few mornings enough to prevent plowing. This is a most beautiful country, just rolling enough to be pleasant and healthy, but the desolating hand of war has shorn it of mush of its beauty, there is not a fence within a mile or two of our camp, and but few houses. The houses have either been torn down or burned up and the fences burned for fuel, many fruit trees have been cut down. Near our camp when we first came there was a fine grove of oak and chestnut trees, but it is fast disappearing for fuel and timber to fix the boys tents.
In some respects we seem to live in a city, in others a wilderness. We see many new faces, fine horses and carriages, every morning we hear the news boys shouting heres your morning paper and the bloody battles in eastern Tennessee or western Virginia. Almost every day we can see sights which before I came here I would go 10 or 15 miles a to see, now I would not turn around to see them. On the whole I am getting rather sick of military, especially military music, we are drummed up in the morning, and drummed to breakfast and to drill and to dinner, and to drill again, and to dress parade and to supper, and to bed and to sleep. I hear the dinner call now though I am not hungry as I had breakfast late I think I will secure some potatoes as it is the first time we have had them for more than a month.
Evening, well this afternoon all safe and sound and probably none of them saw a sign of a rebel though they brought in one or two dogs contraband I suppose. This is another very pleasant evening. This morning I heard a loud rumbling sound off in the south, at first I thought is was the cars but as I thought more of it might be a train of baggage or artillery moving over long bridge but as it moved off farther to the west I could not conclude what it might be, tonight when speaking of it to the boys they said it was troops and artillery on the march and that they heard it plainly when some 4 miles off, they say that quite a body of artillery and infantry advanced to day beyond the picket lines, their object we know nothing of, but we all hope that something will be done soon, we are getting tired of our quarters and want to be on the move. I am sorry Lettie cannot succeed in getting the barn moved and I suppose nothing has been done about the ice house. Well if things turn out as some think they will, it will be some time before I get home to do it, as they say the English government says that Mason and Slidell must give up or she will send a fleet against us. I know uncle Sam is too pluckey to do this, but I do not believe that the English government will be so foolish as to enter into a war against us. We hear lots of news but it gets contradicted so often that we can hardly get the truth out of it. St. John is here and we are having a vigorous discussion about the prospect of a war with England. We just heard a boy crying Philadelphia Ledger and we scrape together out little change and send out and get one, this says that Charleston is really burned that is, a large part of it is supposed to have been done by negroes, but you will get the news in the papers before you get this I do not know that I have anything more to write so I will close good night.
Camp Butterfield Halls Hill Va Dec 23 1861
I received your letter last night or afternoon when I came home from picket. I was sorry to learn that you were sick, and hope you will soon be better. I am enjoying good health and have ever since I have been here. Sam has had a hard cough for some days all the rest of us are well. Henry is growing quite fleshy, but has not done much duty yet. My experience in picket duty was quite pleasant, our quarters were on the farm of Mr. Barrett on the Alexandria and Leesburgh turnpike, about a mile and a half beyond Falls Church. My PSOT was not exactly an outer one. I was stationed right opposite the house on the road about 80 rods from the picket line. We has 4 reliefs so that I had to stand 2 hours out of 8, we stayed in a barn and at night Perry and I spread our blankets on the floor and I slept as sound as I ever did at home. I did not see any rebels but heard the cannon of the skirmish or battle which happened near Dranesville. Yesterday coming home it was quite dusty and warn waling though chilly when standing around but last night it rained all night and today it has been rainy some and near snow.
Mother need not be concerned about my having to stand on guard, I do not generally have to go on more than once a week and I am quite as well able to do it as any one, I do not consider it is dangerous in any way, more than being kept awake all night.
We have had so much warm weather lately that we have neglected to keep the cracks in our tent as well closed as we should and last night the rain beat in some we must have them closed up this afternoon and some wood got as it is likely to be rather cold this evening. We have received the box, I had got so excited at the prospect of a war with England that I guess I forgot to mention it in my last. The blankets make us a fine bed and we sleep very comfortably. We have fixed some shelves in the box and use it as a cupboard, the indian bread was in good condition and also the [puffed] corn but their place would have been better filled with butter or cheese. We have to pay 16/for cheese and 28 for butter and not always the best quality.
It is now evening, the sky is clear but the wind blows. You say you think the war will soon be over, it may be I certainly hope it will be but I do not see much indications of it here. It seems to me that if and advance had been intended here it should have been made within the last four weeks while the weather was favorable, it is not probable that we shall have much more fine weather. Mr Barret at whose house we were quartered was formerly a New York man. When he first came to Va he bought what was considered worn out land near Lewinsville for $ 8.87 an acre and after remaining on it two years sold it for $30.00, he says that before the war broke out land here was valued at from 30 to 60 dollars per acre. He was driven from his home and staid on Washington some three months almost despairing of ever regaining his property again. He has a very good home and out buildings, and altogether everything looked the most like comfort of anything that I have seen since we left N-Y.
Much love to all Cory
Dear sister. I received your letter yesterday afternoon and take a few minutes this noon to answer it. I guess you will have to be satisfied with a little shorter letter than usual for I received a letter last night from Olivia and Helen which I must answer and also one from aunt C and one in it from uncle Frank which I must answer.
For the last week the weather has been rather colder than it has been before and we have had one day of rain since I last wrote. I receive the little pin cushion safely and I thank you much fir it. There seems to be nothing going on here and we are getting heartily sick of inaction, there are some stories about, to the effect that we shall leave here about the 18th of next month far Annapolis to embark on an expedition somewhere south, I am sure I hope so but I do not put much dependence on the report.
Christmas we had quite a merry time. Our Col told us the day before that on that day we should have no roll call in the morning nor at night, that was as much as to say we might lie a bed as late as we chose in the morning and have alight in our tent as late as we liked. He also told us that we might elect out own officers and have a dress parade in any way we chose to make fun. So the boys elected for col the fattest and droolest Dutchman of the band, he is as fat as uncle Charley and a good deal shorter. We also elected other officers in each company, and also musicians. In the morning revillee was beaten by those who never struck a drum before and a pretty thing they made of it. At half past three all of the companies came out at dress parade with their new officers rigged out in the most outlandish styles possible, the band had all sorts of instruments some manufactured for the occasion and with an ear more for noise than music.
The performance made a good deal of fun for the lookers on from other regiments and of our own who did not wish to join in it. In many regiments around here a good deal of liquor and some fighting was indulged in among themselves, in our regt there was no drinking except by one or two who got it out of the lines which they could easily do as it was not forbidden. We had some foot ball kicking in the morning which tired and made more sore than drilling would. I sent you three (?) in one wrapper, the flag was for Jennie from Henry. I do not think of any more to write. I wish you all a happy new year. Sunday PM I forgot to put this letter in the mail this morning and so it has not gone yet. I send you a sutlers
check for a new years present, they are pretty much done away with as I presume you have seen the papers.
Jan 4th 1862
Dear sister, I received your letter of Christmas time last night and was glad to hear from you. However I thought last night I should not
like to have Friday come every day as you said for I should hate to write so much, indeed I have grown so indolent about writing that it is almost as much a drudge to write as it was at home. But a change in the weather last night makes me feel more like writing this morning, and as there was
no knapsack drill this morning I sit down at once to write. Yesterday was a rather cold day and cleat when we went into our tents for the evening,
and we were quite surprised about 7 oclock to hear a cattering on the cotton roof of our house, at 8 when we went out to roll call we found the
ground quite white with coarse sugar plum snow. This morning there is about half an inch of snow which on our hard dry ground makes it quite
slippery. It is the coldest morning we have had since we have been here, but it makes us feel well as we are prepared for it.
My bed is not the softest, being my overcoat and one blanket spread over some boards and my pillow my knapsack, yet I sleep as soundly as need
Be and hate to get up at six as badly as ever, we are always in bed at half past 8. You have heard about our Christmas performance, well on new years day our general who was away on Christmas wished to have the performance repeated, and sent for one of Leslies to sketch it. I was on guard that day and so did not participate in the performance, but if you see a picture of it look for me on top of the log guard houses in front of the camp. As to general war news you know quite as much as I do for pretty much all we get if from the N.T papers though of course there are a good many flying reports through the camps, but no more dependence can be put on them then in the telegraph reports you receive.
As to the picket duty father asks about, I told you of our accomodations in one of my letters before. Our picket lines are now thrown out some two
or three miles beyond out outermost camps. The object is not so much to hinder large bodies of the enemy from coming upon us, as to give notice
or their approach, they also hinder small parties from coming out too far on foraging expeditions, they are also the only guard against spies from the enemy camp. Our camp guard is not so much to guard against enemies as to restrain our own men from taking too much liberty.
I hear the drums beating for drill and I shall have to stop for the present. It took us some 15 or 20 minutes to get in line on the parade ground and
then the Col called the officers to him and told them to march the men back to their quarters saying there would be nothing more to do today but
to get ready for tomorrows inspection. The captain told us also to brush up and mark our zouave suits and bring them to him, he also told us, we had better mark our blankets and everything that belonged to us. When I carried up my suit I told the captain that I had not got the same jacket that I had at first and that the one I had had no hooks or eyes on it, he said that would make no particular difference for we should probably be
where we could get some put on before we should want to wear them again. This I should think would seem to indicate a move, but I know
nothing about it. It is snowing a little now and the sky looks wintry. Well I don’t know as I have any more news to write. Give my love to all friends.
Please send me a few pens if you have them.
Your affectionate brother Cory
Sunday morning Jan 12 62
We have just got through the customary Sunday inspection, our tent is nicely slicked up and we are waiting for the inspectors to come around and
see if it is alright. And as now everything is cozy and comfortable, I take the time to write to you. I received your letter Friday night as usual. The
fore part of last week was quite cold indeed there was snow on the ground from Friday till Wednesday night when it rained and took it all off.
Today it is quite warm and spring like, and I can sit and write very comfortable with the front of the tent open. Camp life passes along about the
same as usual, with no excitement and plenty of drilling though we do not have to drill quite as hard as we did when we first came here.
Notwithstanding the dullness of camp life time seems to pass very rapidly and I can hardly realize that nearly half of the first month of 62 is passed.
Although it is very tiresome lying still and we wish much to be doing something to put down the rebellism, that we may return to our homes, yet I
suppose we are doing about the best thing that can be done.
Our regt goes out on picket tomorrow, I do not know whether I shall have to go or not, the roads are very bad and there is not much to be seen
and so I am not very anxious to go. The excitement here about the prospect of was with England has entirely died away here, though I think the
spirit she has shown in this affair will cause a feeling against her that will not soon die down, and yet may be the cause of war. Frank Leslies picture
of our New years doings has come out but it was nothing like the scene and so I would not buy it. Our pay day has not come yet but I very much
wish it would for I want to get some kind of books to study. Our Lieut Woodworth is going home Monday recruiting, he may come to S. I received a
letter last week from uncle Fisk there was no news in it, I supposed he was going to be married before this but he said nothing about it. I seem to be
entirely destitute of news here and do not know as I can get enough to fill this sheet however I hope you will try and write me as long a letter as
Evening I am going on picket tomorrow, so tonight I went to the sutlers and ran in debt for some butter and sugar to eat while on picket, and
finding they had some good memorandum books I ran in debt for a dollar I also got some other things to the value of 50/cents. You can’t think
how easy it is to spend money, I guess I will send you my old book which has my cash account after pay day.
Jan 18 62
Dear sister. I received your letter of the 11 last evening and now sit down to answer it. Yesterday was pay day, and feeling rich Sam went to the
butchers yesterday afternoon and bought a liver , the rest of us bought some butter and we had some cooked for supper, it was first rate and we
had plenty of it, this morning we cooked the rest of it but it was late before we got it ready and then we ate so much that none of us have been to
the cooks for dinner.
Henry is on guard today, it is very rainy and unpleasant and so we have no drilling. I have been nearly all afternoon at work on my gun which got quite rusty getting it ready to tomorrow inspection. I told you in my last that I was going on picket the next day and I suppose you wish to hear
about it. Out headquarters were at the same place they were before Barrets. We arrived there a little before 11 oclock, there were 4 reliefs so we
had to stand only 2 hours out of 8. Perry and I were on the same post, and just as we came off at 11pm it began to snow and continues at intervals
all night and the next day, and it was quite cold. We went down in the woods on Tuesday afternoon and built a large fire to warm ourselves by and
cook our food, it was about as far from the barn where we slept as the sugar bush is from the house. I used to think it was pretty hard to take one
cold meal in winter at the upper lot but I stood three days of cold food pretty well, I had some tea and coffee about half a pound of butter and
sugar the rest of my food was pilot bread or hard tack, as we call it and salt junk. I had a quart cup which I carried with me in which I made my tea
and coffee, in this I soaked my bread, I also contrived another dish which I think is the best for picket, I broke the crackers into the cup as small as I
could and then poured water upon them and after they were pretty well soaked I added sugar and butter to them and set it on the fire till it was
heated through, and then it was ready to be served up which was done with very little ceremony, it made a most excellent dish.
I was on one out post this time, but did not fear any danger, indeed I do not think there were any rebels within 20 miles of us. Wednesday morning
It was raining some and freezing covering everything with sleet. We were relieved at noon and it rained all the time we were coming back to camp,
I had on a rubber so I did not get very wet, but some of them did. It cleared up in the evening and froze during the night, the next day it thawed
again and there was snow enough to make it sloppy. Thursday night was as beautiful a moonlight night as I ever saw, yesterday it thawed again,
last night it was cloudy and today it is raining, but the snow is not all gone yet. I have got my dairy which I got in Albany done up and directed to
send to you, in it you will find a little of what I did or saw each day since I left there. You will also see how much money I spent and for what. I shall
send father ten dollars in this letter which will be all I think I can spare, but another pay day I hope to be able to send more. Evening. I laid down
this letter and have not taken it up again until now. This afternoon there was a young man around getting subscriptions for Miss Hudson the
daughter of the regt, I do not think I have ever spoken to you about her I have seen her but once that was on Christmas day when she was over to
see our burlesque parade, she is not far from Ems size and height , she was dressed in a light red dress which reached about to her knee, blue
pants, jockey hat and gaiters, she also wore a red sash over her shoulder and around her waist she looked quite military. I suppose that is
something of the style worn by vivandiers. She came from Albany and is the writer of that Ellsworth song which I presume you have seen. They say
she works very hard taking care of the sick soldiers and also provides them with many books, I gave 25 cents and although there may be many who
will not give as much and some not any, yet I think they must raise her quite a handsome sum. This afternoon I bought a package of paper, it was
one of those containing a gift it had 18 sheets of paper, 18 envelopes a picture of McClellan, pencil penholder, two pens and a breast pin. I will send
you the pin if I can get a chance though it is not very valuable I will send you the picture in this letter. I received a letter from uncle P and one from
aunt C last night which I must answer tomorrow. Our prospect of moving is over indeed I do not think we shall move from here at all and I very
much doubt our ever going into battle or ever seeing a battle ground. The mail has just come and I have been looking over the semi weekly Times.
In it I see a letter in which the writer gives it as his that the war will be ending in a month. From what he judged I do not know but I hope it is so I am
Henry Hogan is on guard today, our boys are pretty well. I hope you will not get tired of writing. I have nearly filled two sheets but I do not know
as the matter will be interesting to you. I shall be glad to hear of the little events about the farm.
Jan 25th 62
Dear sister, I received you welcome letter last evening and was glad to learn that you were all well. The pens were also safe but I do not particularly
need them now, as I have been so extravagant as to make the purchase of a gold pen, I do not think you would guess it by my writing but it goes
We have not had any drilling since we came in from picket until yesterday when we drilled both orenoon and afternoon. Last evening it
commenced raining just at dusk, during the night it turned to snow and sleet, this morning the trees and bushes are covered with ice. Today it is
warm and sunshiny melting the snow and making it very muddy again. This forenoon I have been cleaning my gun for tomorrows inspection and
this afternoon Henry and I have been doing some washing I shall have to go and get some wood soon or we shall have no fire this evening. Henry
and I are the only ones in this tent to do such work. Adelbert has been unwell for a day or two. Henry Hotchkiss is cooking and Sam has gone to
cobbling, he is excused from guard duty and drill, he furnished his own tools and had 31 cents per pair for half soling the leather and the lasts being
Sunday morning. We have got through the usual Sunday morning inspection our officers have got so they make it much shorter than usual and
Inspection this morning did not take more than one half or three quarters of an hour. Last night was very pleasant and it froze hard, today the sun
Is shining brightly and it is thawing but the wind blows hard and chilly. Since I last wrote you I have had a letter from our old friend Baxter Merwin,
He is now at Princeton NJ studying the old school presbyterian theology also hebrew, greek, german, instrumental and vocal music. The war news
just now is very encouraging the recent victory in Kentucky has given the rebels a heavy blow and there has been a report, that fearing a blow in
their rear from some of our naval expeditions they evacuated Manassas. This I suppose was one of their most strongly fortified positions, and
would have cost us much to have taken it. I hope the report may be correct. I am a good deal anxious to hear from the Burnside expedition, it
seems that none of the news papers reporters have been shrew enough to guess at its destination, probab ly before this reaches you we shall hear
Camp life has been dull lately, I suppose you think I might find enough to write about to make a long letter, but they would all be alike, you think
nothing occurs at home hardly worth writing about, yet nothing happens that would not be interesting to me.
We have no alarm clock to awaken us, but at about a quarter past six the drummers call is beaten which calls together the drummers and fifers at
half past six they begin to beat the reveille which continues 15 minutes and when it is ended we must be in the ranks to answer to our numbers as
they are called by the orderly seargent. The names of those who are going on guard are also read, a few minutes afterward we fallin with our cups
and plates for breakfast of meat and coffee we having got our bread for three meals at noon the day before, when we have not got bread we
receive 5 hrad tacks for each meal, generally only two go from our tent to get the meals for all, and at noon when we have neither tea nor coffee
At half past 8 drummers call is beaten for guard mounting, and directly after assembly. The guard then falls in and the ceremony of guard is gone
through with, the old guard being relieved. In fine weather now the drummers call is beaten a little before ten and immediately after the assembly,
when the company falls in for drill, which continues till noon, after we are excused from drill, we fall in again for dinner which is not generally much
different from breakfast though once or twice a week we receive hominy or rice with molasses. At two we fall in again for drill, the drummers call
and assembly having been beaten to call us as before, though for the last two weeks we have hardly any drilling and nothing to do but to fetch
wood and water or something of that kind for the cooks. At five we have supper, during the evening the time is spent in reading when we have
anything to read or talking or playing at checkers or chess, as I have whittled out some men that answer the purpose very well. At half past 8
tattoo is beaten when we fall out for roll call, at 9 taps are sounded when the lights must be put out though we sometimes keep them a little longer
And then we go to bed. So you can see what we go through every day almost without any change.
Of course I know what you have to do most days but I should like to know whether Father is drawing logs to mill or not, how big a pile of wood he
Has got up, do you have dry wood to burn now?
Dinner call has beaten and I must go and get mine.
Monday eve. Today I was going to have a pass so I did not put his letter in the office, thinking I might see something of interest to write you. Henry
and I visited the 21 Regt in which Charley Fox is. On the brow of the hill on which their encampment is situated, there are some rifle pits and
embankments which the rebels dug and also a well which they dug and stoned, some 80 feet deep. Since our troops have occupied the hill, they
have built a fort, it is an embankment of earth some 10 feet thick surrounded by a ditch 8 feet wide and deep, and outside of this is an abitis of
tree tops the small twigs being cut off leaving sharp limbs sticking out, making it anything but nice to get over. After we got back to camp we
learned that we were to be minutely inspected tomorrow in regard to our equipment and clothing, by one of the united stated officers. For what
object I do not know. This evening while we were sitting in our tent we were somewhat startled by a bright light and on going out to see what it was we found a large party of boys on the parade ground had been getting the trees which shaded out streets and were making a bonfire of them by the light of which they were raising the flag staff, for until now we have had none, the band at the same time was playing patriotic airs. The scene was grand and worthy of a painter. The light was so great that the camp shone out in fair view, the sparks were carried up hundreds of feet and when the flag went up the band played the Star Spangled Banner. The boys called the Col for a speech and placed a barrel for him to stand on. He proposed three cheers for the flag, then for our friends the 83rd the regt that lies next to us, then for the general all of which were responded to with the strongest voices. The boys still called on the Col for a speech. He said boys you know I can’t make a speech but I tell you when you will hear me speak if the 44th gets a chance at the rebels. I then came away to write, the boys said the major made a short speech after I came away.
The taps have beat and I must close and go to bed, good night X.
Feb 2nd 62
Dear folks at home
Your much wished for letter came last night, it usually comes Friday night. We have got through the usual Sunday morning inspection, things are going on pretty much as usual there seems to be no indication of a move than there has been, but still I think the war is being drawn to a close as fast as possible.
Friday night we had quite a fall of snow here, yesterday it rained and thawed making it very muddy, last night it froze so that this morning it was pretty comfortable for inspection, but today it is thawing up and getting very muddy again. We have had so much mud and wet and our government shoes being very poor things, and my boots that I brought from home being worn out, I determined yesterday that I would have some boots, and so I walked over to Falls Church and bought a pair, I gave 5 dollars for them I presume I could have got a more serviceable pair for less money at home if it was not for the cost of sending them. Henry and Sam have sent home for a pair, but I thought they would be started before I could write home to order a pair.
Coming back I passed the ruins of a farm house which together with the barns and other out buildings had been burned, it had been pleasantly shaded by trees and on the side that fronted on the RR there was a rustic frame of arbor, the yard on three sides of the house were tastefully laid out the paths being bordered with stones, and there were stone beds something like the one in our yard. The ground was covered with snow so of course it could not look very finely, the barns had been on good stone foundations and everything indicated that it had been the home of thrift and comfort, by whom if had been burned or destroyed I do not know, but the rebellion was the first cause.
We have not had drill for some time and nothing of interest is happening I have not much to write. Perry has been sick in the hospital for a week but he is not considered dangerous at all. All the rest of our boys are well. The orderly has just been around saying that our chaplain is going to preach his farewell sermon this afternoon and I think I will go and hear him though I have not seen much more of him than I have the Holland minister at home.
This afternoon the sun shines out very bright and warm and I think it will be more comfortable out of doors than it has been some days. Evening, I went up to meeting this afternoon and found they were holding in a tent which was full and no comfortable place to stand out of doors, so I went on and got some wood. Charley has been in our tent, he says he got a letter from Oscar last evening, I have written to him once but have received no answer, I must write to him again for I do not think he can have received it.
I received the Times tonight, with the account of the arrival of the Burnside expedition, though it had received some losses from the storm they were comparatively small with the size of the fleet, I hope we shall soon hear of its doing something.
Monday. Today I have the great pleasure of being on detached duty, that is carrying water for the cooks. The rest have nothing to do, it has been raining very hard this forenoon, and there is now some three or four inches of snow and it still continues, I expect however that about tomorrow it will begin to thaw and then it will be terrible muddy again. St John has been over to our tent a part of the forenoon and we have been spending the time talking. When the seargent came to detail me to get water I was engaged in mending my pocket, after fetching the water I finished doing that which took me an hour and a half or so as the seams were ripped in several places and I and to rip the lining to get at it. I have had to fetch only two turns of water and shall have to fetch about as much more, don’t you think we have to work to hard.
Your brother Cory. X
Camp Butterfield Va Feb 9 62
Dear sister your letter came to hand Friday night and was gladly received as they always are. I was on guard yesterday came off this morning. The rest of our boys except Henry are gone on picket they started this morning. The last week has been quite like spring, the sun has shone brightly but the wind has blown hard and cold most of the time. However it has contributed to dry up the roads and the going is getting now to be comparatively good. I fear we shall have another storm before the boys get back from picket, but I think the wet season is mostly ever and it will take but a few days sun to make traveling good. I suppose you would like to know what we have been doing the last week. I do not remember much before Wednesday, and that day being pleasant we were ordered to strike out tents and give them a thorough airing and cleaning. We went at it and in a few minutes our camp resembled a burned city, blankets and boxes were heaped all about in confusion, every tent had a stove with fire in it and these smoking resembled smoking ruins and occasionally a well smoked frame was left standing giving the appearance of a part of a building unburned, and then the streets filled with houseless men and boys. However after dinner the city was rebuilt and resumed its usual appearance in a very few minutes.
The same night on dress parade the Col told us that he wanted all of us to have out knapsacks packed and ready to march at any time as we should probably be called on sooner than any of us expected, and sure enough the order came that night that we must be ready to march at one oclock the next morning. That night it rained all night a nice spring rain but we were not called out. In the morning we were told that out haversacks, which the cooks had been at work at all night to fill, must be returned, as our provisions were to be carried in the wagons, and that we must be prepared to carry two blankets and what other clothing we should want for at least ten days, and to have out other things packed up as we might not come back to this camp again. All day we were all excitement, it was reported that two divisions one down the river and one up, had crossed the river and that we were to act in concert with them. Fearing if we left it here we might loose it each of us rolled up a good ball of butter and put it in our haversacks and gave some away. In the afternoon 60 rounds of cartridges were issued to us to be put in our knapsacks besides 40 in our boxes. About 4 oclock we were told we must have on our overcoats, pants out of our boots as we were to march through Washington and our appearance must be uniform. It was then thought that we should go to Harpers ferry. We were called out, the roll called and guns stacked so as to be ready at a minute notice. But tattoo came and we were not called on, at roll call we were told we must be ready as we would probably be called before midnight, so we slept in our clothes and the blankets we wished to carry in our knapsacks. But we were undisturbed and here we are yet, and appear likely to be for the present. Yesterday I went on guard, this afternoon it has been snowing, it seems quite like sugar snow. Our regt has never been on picket but once when it did not storm. I suppose father will be likely to make sugar this spring since it is so high. I sent you the Jan and Feb mos of the Atlantic monthly on the night we expected to march I hope you have received this. You said that Edward Skinner was in Tosiers I understand he was a lieutenant and Adelbert is very sure neither of his lieutenants has that name. He may be in the same regt. Tell me his station and to what regt he belongs. Write soon Your Brother
Camp Butterfield Halls Hill Va Feb 16 62
Dear folks at home
This is one of the pleasantest and about the coldest mornings I have seen in Va. I suppose you are about piling into the sleigh for church. We might do it here if we had any sleigh, or any church to go to, for we had enough snow fall yesterday to make it quite good sleighing. We have got through inspection, our lieut Col who has charge of it dispensed with inspection of knapsacks and so it took only half as long as usual. We are having glorious news almost every day from some quarter or other in regard to the war last we heard of the capture of Roanoke Island the next day of the capture of Fort Henry in Tennessee and last night of the capture of Fort Donelson and some 1500 prisoners. The Cairo gunboats seem to be doing good business. I am afraid we shall not get a chance to do anything. Day before yesterday we surrounded Vienna and tried to catch some rebels but when we got where they were they weren’t there. We marched some 28 miles much of the way over heavy roads, and I was tired when I got back to camp, but felt well enough the next morning except a little soreness. I have written a more particular account to uncle Ps folks and you must get it from them if you can’t wait to hear about it. I received another copy of the Atlantic Monthly from Aunt C Wednesday night, she says that after I have read them if I can afford to pay the postage I may send them to you to keep for her. She cannot have read the last no for the leaves were uncut. We have got a new chaplain now but I have not heard him preach yet nor have I heard his name. Henry Hotchkiss says that preparations are being made to establish the head quarters of McClellan in this division and but a short distance from us, what the object is we do not know, perhaps he expects to do something here, I hope so, I am getting tired of doing nothing. However I do not want to take another such a tramp as I did Friday without a single rebel, I shall soon begin to think there are none in Virginia. Last week we went out nearly every day target shooting, but as yet we do not have to drill. For a few days they have detailed one Co from each regt to work in a country road they are building from Washington.
O dear I have been since 10 oclock writing and trying to think of something to write and it is now two oclock, the drummers call has beaten I suppose for church and I think I will go out the boys have got the tent to warm for comfort, I suppose you have heard of the arrest of general Stone who commanded at Balls Bluff. Our present secretary of war seems determined not only to lose no more battles but also to account for all the defeats and disasters we have had.
Officers in the Federal Army who are guilty of treason certainly deserve the worst of punishments and I certainly hope they may all be detected and punished. On dress parade tonight, our regt was highly commended by the general in an order for their good conduct in the reconnisance of Friday. He said it was remarked by many military leaders that they had never seen regulars march in better order and with so little falling out of ranks. Quite a compliment don’t you think?
It is said that we will probably make another reconnoisance this week. I hope it will not be so unsuccessful in results next time.
Well I believe we have spun this out far enough after I have got nothing to say, and my position is rather tiresome, here are five of us trying to write by the light of one candle and my position is decidedly uncomfortable. So I will bid you good night and go to reading. Cory
Feb 22 Washingtons birthday Saturday morning.
Your letter through Henrys came to hand last evening and was gladly received, especially as none came directly to myself. And I had begun to think I was to get none at all. Nothing of interest has happened since I last wrote. Things have gone on as usual, we continue to receive cheering news in regard to the progress of the war from all quarters, no bad news at all.
I have received a letter from Oscar this week. All of the boys received letters last night. Sam got one postmarked Morilla, with a young ladies likeness in it, after reading it, he took out Libs likeness and put the one he received over her face (what desecration! And then commenced singing “We have met we have loved we have parted”. I should think that might be deemed significant. Today it is lovely but it is warm and the air seems oppressive. There has not been a time since I have been here there was so little to write about, or I felt so little like writing.
I think I did not tell you in my last letter, that I had got a book on navigation to study, which takes up considerable of my leisure time and is quite interesting. The book was quite costly near 4 dollars.
I guess I will stop writing and walk and see if something of interest will turn up to write about. Evening. About noon we were called out on the parade ground and Washingtons farewell address was read to us by our chaplin, but unfortunately I was situated where I could not hear a word of it. A good deal of powder has been burned around here in honor of the day. Good news is continually coming in, this afternoon there is a report that Nashville has surrendered. I we continue to be as successful as we have been for the last two weeks we may expect to see this thing settled in a few months.
You do not say anything about our buying the farm do you not think we had better wait until this war is settled and then take a farm in the sunny south where the land will undoubtedly be cheap, and perhaps we soldier boys may receive a part of the [camp] estates of the rebels as a reward for our services. This is certainly a goodly land and with such cultivation as we give out northern farms would flow with milk and honey.
Tonight some of the boys got a letter two rods long it was made of half sheets pasted together the postage on it was 21 cents.
Your brother Cory X
Camp Butterfield Halls hill Va March 9 62
Dear Parents and Sisters you letter was received last evening. This morning is warm and sunshiny and as pleasant s morning as one ever sees. The morning inspection is through, and now I sit down in my tent to commune with you. A quarter of March has already passed, and yet it does not seem as if we had had any winter at all.
Time passes so rapidly that it seems but a few days since I left home. Such a day as this and it were not Sunday, if I were at home I should be apt to be working in the flower garden of more likely in the sugar bush, though it is most to warm for sap to run much.
There is good news this morning, but I do not know certainly how true it is. It is reported the Leesburgh and two strong forts there are taken. This is near Manassas and helps to defend the approached to it except it will not be long before that will be taken also. If this weather continues it will not be long before you will heat of our doing something. What do you think of my going into the Navy after I get through here, if I get to be a good navigator perhaps I can get a position. When you get to making sugar I should like a piece first rate Henry says he has sent to have some sent to him. If you should send us another box take care to make it just 50 pounds weight or else 100. It costs as much to send 51 pounds as 99 and as much to send 101 as 150. I am sorry you have the company of a stranger for a hired man it would be much more pleasant to have Oscar there. Do you know where he is going to be this summer? I have not answered his letter yet I must try and do so soon.
I got a letter from aunt Cl last week and another Atlantic monthly, and also a letter from aunt Frank and Uncle Fisk, but no news of consequence. Aunt says Bertha is learning to read. We propose to have a little extra dinner today, we have bought some irish potatoes and some sausage we have got the potatoes pared and boiling, the cost 3 cts a pound we had some for supper last night and they were good I tell you. Afternoon. I have eaten my dinner of potatoes and sausage and it was quite good as I expected. I then went to Charley Morses tent and found him writing to Oscar, and so I wrote a few lines and put in with his. The mail has come and I have a letter from uncle J, his family are all well, and one from Helen.
From Charleys tent I went to church, our chaplin did not preach but the chaplin from the 83 PA. His text was from Pauls epistle to Timothy “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course & c” A long text he said but did not always imply a long sermon. He said he never had been in favor of long sermons, much less when we were obliged to stand in the open air as we are here, but said in a few days when we get down to Richmond, and I exchange with your chaplin and we are seated in a fine church I may perhaps detain you a little longer. I have not seen enough of our chaplin to know how I like him. I do not know that I have anything more of interest to write. I should like very much to be at home this summer, to assist you in getting the barn moved and taking care of the flower gardens, but I do not expect it, though uncle Fisk thinks I will spend the fourth of July at home. I think the report of the capture of Leesburgh is correct. 12 oclock midnight. We are all awake packing up to march, to start at one we shall see something before we get back I think. Cory
Old Dominion Mills Va March 16 1862
Dear folks at home. This is Sunday morning and I take a few minutes to write to you. I presume you will be glad enough to hear from me to excuse my soiled paper and pencil writing. The last week has been full of hard labor to us. A week ago tonight we started from Halls Hill for a march somewhere. We marched all the rest of the night and arrived at Fairfax Court House a little after 8 AM. Here we rested for awhile and started for Centerville about 11. We were preceded by two companies of Col Averills cavalry. We came in sight of the forts of Centerville about 2 oclock, here we halted in full sight on a hill and I watched the works expecting every instant to see a puff of smoke and hear the roar of cannon, but we heard and saw nothing. After resting half an hour we started on and marched into the rebel works with arms at will. I see in the Times that a New Jersey regt is credited with being the first to enter Centerville, but the 44 NY SV has that honor.
I tell you we were a tired and sore set. We stacked arms and for a little while we expected to march to Manassas, but after waiting awhile we took up lodgings in the rebel barracks. They had good log huts fitted nicely with fire places and were very comfortable. Not wishing to go to bed at once I started out to take a tour of the rebel works. There were some 8 or 10 forts connected by rifle pits and surrounding a space of 2 or 300 acres. There were no guns left but a log with one end painted black was placed at each port hole. A portion of Averills cavalry went on to Manassas and found it deserted and burning. The boys found some rebel trophies in the shape of letters and shinplasters and bowies with blades a foot long, but I secured nothing. The next day we started back and came to Fairfax CH where we spent Thursday and Friday. Yesterday we started at an early hour and marched to this place a distance of some 15 miles we got there about 2 oclock PM. The latter half of our journey it was raining and when we got here it was raining hard. We went into the tents of an irish regt which were left standing, the dirty things they are but we were glad of any shelter. In a common rain these tents are water proof but in such a rain as we had yesterday there was something of a shower inside. So here we are in these dirty tents expecting to get lice and the itch, but that will be nothing for a soldier.
There are a great many troops and batteries near here expecting to move down the river soon. I think we shall leave here tomorrow, but for where I do not know. Henry and Sam did not march with us from camp. Sam joined us at Fairfax Wednesday night and Henry Thursday, but Friday he was unwell and concluded he could not march,
and went back to camp yesterday. I had a letter from uncle Ps last week but am afraid I shall not get time to answer it so you must let them read this and ask them to write again, I shall probably get time to real all the letters I can get. We are about two miles west of Alexandria. I think I have something of a soldiers life the past week. Good night.
PS Edward Skinner is now within half or three quarters of a mile from here but I could not leave camp to see him. Than Kellogg was up here to see Dell, he says Edward is 2nd lieut of their co and also battalion quartermaster.
Steamer Georgia Saturday March 22 1862
Dear folks at home
I suppose you will wish to know how I spent the past week. As I told you in my last, how it rained when we came into the camp of the irish brigade Saturday afternoon and that night Sunday was a raw chilly day, and also Monday. Monday we marched about a mile and had a brigade drill with knapsacks. We passed the Alexandria seminary on our way to the drilling ground, it is a fine building and is in a pleasant place. Wednesday afternoon we had battalion drill. That night it rained nearly all night and also the next day and night. About Thursday night or Friday morning we heard the 1st sargents call. They were ordered to have three days rations cooked as we should embark at 9oclock. We were ready at the time, but stood around in the mud till nearly 1 before we got started. We got onboard this boat about 3 or 4 pm, soon after the mail came and I got your letter of the 15th. A little before sundown we moved out into the river and anchored and there we remained until 20 minutes past 11 when the flag boat the Daniel Webster passed us and about 12 we started. We have passed Mount Vernon and I have seen the house in which the father of his country lived we have also passed some of the earthworks with which the rebels tried to blockade the river.
The Potomac is a much broader river than I supposed it was, it is a good deal larger than the Hudson I should think. I know nothing of our destination nor from where this letter will be mailed. This morning when some were inquiring when and from where the mail would be sent, the Col said we should leave it at Fortress Monroe on our way to New Orleans but he said it in jest. We have not received our pay yet and do not know as we shall until we are discharged. I am out of money and stamps and I do not know how I shall send this though I presume it will go if not prepaid Sunday afternoon March 28. Last night about 11 we came to and anchored and started again this morning about 4. This morning about 9 we got into the bay by Chesepeake, and although we have not been out of sight of land we have been so far from it we could only see the tops of the trees. We have passed the Rapahaonock and York rivers and are now in sight of something they say is Fortress Monroe. We had inspection this morning as usual. We are just now passing a black looking vessel with 4 or 5 guns sticking out of each side, a blockading vessel I suppose.
4 oclock. We are now lying anchor a short distance from Fortress Monroe, less than half a mile, and the Moniter that wonderful thing [we] have heard so much about is lying in front of [us] about 80 rods off I should never guessed what it was or for what, if I had not heard so much about it. It looks like a raft 40 or 50 feet long with a black tub in the center, the tub looks from where I am to be about ten feet in diameter and 8 or 9 feet high, on one end there is something that looks like a heap of coal only smoother and on the other end a small boat lies and close to it smoke or steam rises, and close to the end is a staff with stars and stripes floating from it. That is all I can tell you about it the raft does not appear to be more than two feet above the water. There are lots of war vessels around here. I know nothing about what we are going to do yet.
Camp Pleasant March 31 1862
I suppose you will be more anxious to hear from me than usual. Your letter of the 24th I received the morning and was glad enough to get it. I also got one from Helen and Olivia and you must let them read this as I have not much paper left and no money. In my last letter I told you we had just landed at the fortress, we marched out a little beyond the village or ruins of Hampton (almost the oldest village in this country) there are gravestones in the churchyard dated 1701 and I presume older, here we stayed all night and the next day we marched on three miles farther and encamped in the edge of a piece of woods. Thursday we went with quite a large force to Big Bethel but I saw no rebels though a few were driven away by our skirmishers, and it is said one or two were killed but I hardly know.
Saturday night and Sunday it rained. Sunday I was on guard, the rain made the ground so muddy, that today we moved other the road into a cleared field which is dry and pleasant. It has been quite warm today. Jerry Turner is over here the boys are talking of old times. Newport News is about three miles from here but I do not think Ed W is now there. Today nearly a thousand of our boys were on the beach after oysters when a rebel gunboat came out from behind a point and began to shell them making them scatter in great haste. We heard the firing plainly here, it is said the first shell fell within 8 ft of one of our boys but did not explode he picked it up and brought it off. All the buildings about here have been burned. About a quarter of a mile from here are the ruins of a steam saw and grist mill.
Neither Charley Perry nor Henry were able to come with us, and I do not know when they will join us.
Tuesday morning April 1st. The sun comes up bright and warm on this first of April, the trees around here are budding fast and everything looks like the approach of summer. We have heard of the battle of Winchester. It seems to have been bloody and a complete rout to the rebs. I am very much afraid we shall not be home in time for the family gathering but a great deal may happen before that time. Twice since we came here we have known what is to be pretty hungry before we got anything to eat, but tobacco chewers got the worst of it, they have no money and no sutler, and they are out and go about looking down hearted enough. I must close for it is nearly time for the mail to go out. X
On the plains near Yorktown Sunday afternoon April 6th 62
Dear parents and sisters. Your letter of the 1st came to hand this afternoon, and I now commence to answer it though I do not feel much like writing as I have a headache. Last Monday we moved our camp in the edge of the pine woods into an orchard on the opposite side of the road, which was much pleasanter. On Tuesday Henry and Perry joined us. On Friday morning at an early hour the whole force at Hampton took up the march. About 4 oclock we came to the rebel works at Howard Mills. These works were in a good place and were quite extensive, but were occupied only by a squad of cavalry which fled at our approach. Here we staid all night. The next morning we started at 7 but we did not go more than half a mile when we were detained by the baggage and artillery which could not get along until the roads were repaired. Just before we got started again a thunder shower came up and for half an hour it rained quite hard, the sun then came out and as we were marching through the wood the air was sultry, the roads bad and altogether it was to me the hardest marching I have seen. About 9 we heard cannons and it continued to be heard at intervals from the direction in which we were marching. We arrived here about 1pm and pitched out tents. We are probably 2 or 3 perhaps 4 miles from Yorktown and a mile from their nearest fort. All yesterday afternoon the firing was quite sharp and we could occasionally hear the whizzing of the shells and see them burst in the air. Our sharpshooters kept one of the forts silent all day, they dare not get up to load the guns. I think the fight will be mostly with artillery. The gunboats are in the river and the rebel are pretty much surrounded. Prof Lewis’ balloon was up half the afternoon making observations.
General McClelan is here and I think the siege will proceed with caution and very little danger to us. Today there has been a little firing but it seems the most like Sunday of any I have seen in a long time. All the boys from our place are well. Henry was pretty sick when we got here yesterday but is feeling well today. I am much obliged to you for the bit of sugar and the money. I received a letter from Warren this afternoon but will wait a more convenient place to answer it. Now then if you go to worrying because I have written that we are so near the rebels and a prospect of battle I shall be sorry I have written. Many of the boys do not write on that account. Our brigade is on the reserve and I do not think we are in any more danger than when lying on our camp at Halls Hill. Our boys pay no more attention to the firing of the rebels with shot and shell than they do to brigade drill.
Your affectionate son Cory
Camp near Yorktown April 13 62
I received your letter of the 8th this morning, and at once sit down to answer it. I had a letter from aunt C this morning and have answered it.
Everything has been as quiet since then as it was when I wrote last, though our men have not been idle, they have been at work all the time building roads on which to draw the cannon for the reduction of the rebel forts. From Monday night until Thursday morning it rained, all of the time. Thursday we moved back about a mile we suppose that it was feared that shells from our gunboats might pass over and hit us but no operations have commenced yet. Our boys were on picket yesterday but I did not go with them. I have not been well since Wednesday, having a pain in my stomach and no appetite. But I think I shall soon be able to do my usual duties.
It is reported that the battle of Corinth was most bloody but I hope it is exaggerated. It is really spring here now, the trees are putting forth their leaves, and the peach trees are beginning to blossom. Peaches seem to be a natural product here. I should think the people might live on them there are many quantity of peach orchards here but apples are scarce.
This country settled by northern farmers would soon blossom like the rose. This seems likely to be a victory of a good deal importance to us for a victory it must be. I hope the war may be ended so that I may get home to family gathering, but I do not expect it. You must all be patient and not fell so concerned about me. I should like to be home this summer and take care of the garden and work on the farm. Soldiering as far as the work is concerned is not harder than framing but being away from home, the food and the manner of living is what makes it hard. They seem to have been expecting Perry home from what you say in your letter, but he is here tough and hearty. All of our boys are well.
Your Brother Cory
Camp near Yorktown April 20 62
Dear Folks at home. Your letter of the 12th came to hand last evening and was gladly received as they always are. We are still at the place from which I wrote you last. Until last night we had no rain since we camped here some ten days ago, the sun shone brightly all the day long and the nights were clear and warm, the ground had got well dried and about our camp it was quite dusty. It has been an excellent time for getting in supplies and making preparations for the siege. When we first came here the ground was so soft that it was almost impossible to move heavy guns.
The trees have put forth their leaves rapidly during the past week. Fruit trees are all in blossom. Peaches, pears, plums and cherries seem to be the principal fruits. I have seen but few apples but they were well filled with blossoms. This appears to be a fertile well watered soil and beautiful climate and if tilled in northern style must well repay the efforts of the farmer; and where there are so many navigable rivers markets must be near. I propose that we settle in Virginia. I heard from aunt C that father had bought the farm, but no word from home to that effect.
There has been a good deal of sickness in our regt since we came here, in fact there has always been more sickness and deaths in the regt than in any other in the service. For two or three days I have not felt well and yesterday I was quite sick, today I feel rather better. All of our boys are able to be on duty, but none feel very keen. Perhaps it is from the change in climate. Perry is here as tough as need be but Charley has not joined us yet. When Henry and Perry came away he was in the Georgetown hospital sick or lame with rheumatism. I suppose you think because we are so near Yorktown I might know what is going on here but although we hear some firing occasionally we only know what we learn from the papers and we do not get them oftener than you do. Our regt went on picket this morning. It rained all of last night and most of today, if it continues long it must interfere with the preparations for the siege. You seem to be very successful in making sugar, I hope I may get home to eat some of it before it is gone.
Camp Winfield Scott April 27
Dear folks at home
Your letter came to hand this morning, that of the 19th. We were paid off day before yesterday, so that now I have paper and shall pay my postage. But I wish to send all the rest to aunt Cordelia. The captain thinks we will be paid off again in about four weeks. It is said that our paymaster remarked, that the next time he paid us it would be in Albany and before the 20th of next month, but I hardly see it. There is a report that in Albany papers that we are coming there to guard prisoners, perhaps it so.
Everything we buy here costs. Paper, a cent a sheet whether you buy little or much and envelopes a cent apiece, a small bottle of ink ten cents, crackers 25cts a pound. I thought today I would like a little soft bread for dinner I had to give 10cts for a loaf about as big as one of mothers light biscuits. The last 2 or 3 days have been rather cold. Yesterday it rained all day, today it is cloudy, but I think it will clear up without any more rain. To us it hardly seems as if anything was going on about the siege. Still men are all the time building roads and bridges, planting guns and erecting breastworks. Yesterday 14 rebels were taken prisoners and 17 came in and gave themselves up, and this morning 100 more did the same, they seem to be sick of the rebel cause. Almost every day there are more guns fired here than you would hear at S on a Fourth of July, but the boys pay no attention to them than you would a bleating of calves. If 6 or 8 happen to be fired in the space of a minute it sometimes wakes them up a little but they generally hardly notice them at all. By guns I mean 20 to 100 pounders.
McClellan Does not mean to hurry things I think until he gets a good ready, perhaps he is waiting for McDowell and Fremont to advance Richmond and take them in the rear. I believe the last great blow to the rebellion will be given here.
Now then when you write let me know all about what is going on at home, how much sugar you have made this spring, how many new milch cows we have, how many calves we are raising, has there any alterations been made about the house, gardens, barns or farm. What is father going to do with that bit of garden below the horse barn. Is there any change about the Strykersville folks or their houses, or Java Village. What are the young people, are there any about, when do the people expect the war will be closed. Let me know all the news general and particular whether it is of any consequence or not. Your brother
Camp Winfield Scott. Near Yorktown Va. Sabbath forenoon May 4th 62
Dear folks at home. Your letter with Letties likeness came to hand last evening. And I now sit down to answer it. Undoubtedly the intelligence is already in the principal cities of the union, that the rebels have left their works in Yorktown, although you may not hear of it for a day or two. For the past week the rebels have wasted a great deal of ammunition in firing at our men in the trenches, but generally without effect. Tuesday our regt was on picket out co on reserve, one of our boys names Gurnesy, from Evans, Erie co, was mortally wounded by apiece of shell. He had stepped back a little out of the trench when a shell burst in the air, a short distance from him and a piece weighing a pound or more, which the boys could see plainly flying through the air, struck him in the back of the head making a hole an inch broad and three long, from which the brains protruded. They supposed he could not live an instant, but he lingered until Thursday evening. He was buried Friday.
The rebels have been firing these shells quite rapidly, but doing little harm. There is plenty of time when you hear a rush of the shell through the air to lie down or get behind embankments which ensure safety. I have never been out yet where they have been firing shells at us, as I have not well enough to do much until yesterday. Last night just at dark Gen Porter went up in a balloon, about 20 rods from our camp, it had only got up in sight above the trees when whizz came a shell which burst before it reached it and instant after another came striking nearer and making the crowd scatter in quick time. The balloon was hauled down in a hurry. A piece of one of the shells struck in our camp not more than ten feet from one of the tents and nearer to some of the boys, During the night I heard a shell burst very near to our camp and heard a piece fly, I thought along our co street. The firing continued at intervals till nearly morning. We were routed out at an early hour this morning and after getting our breakfasts we marched to headquarters, where we were provided with shovels, with which we started out to work in the trenches. We had got out near where we expected to go to work, when we met some of the picket coming in. Who said that shovels were no use as the rebels had left. We thought we could hardly see that, but it soon became apparent that something unusual had happened for we could see the men standing up on the works and cheering, where yesterday half a dozen men would have certainly have drawn a shot, it was apparent that the rebels had left their forts. The leiut col, who had charge of us marched us up where we could see the deserted forts with stars and stripes floating over them. We were then marched back to camp where we arrived about 7 oclock and I sat down at once to write this letter. Where the rebels have gone to we of course do not know, but I presume we shall follow them up tomorrow. The gunboats are moving up the river. Of the engagement at Lees Mills we knew nothing till we saw it in the papers.
I was very glad to receive your picture, it is very natural I think. We have got to fall in for inspection now with everything packed and I shall have to stop now.
Yorktown. Sunday afternoon.
I little thought that when I stopped writing the forenoon, that I should continue it within the rebel works at Yorktown, although I might have thought it of more probability than yesterday. But I am really writing inside the fort that surrounds Yorktown, and dipping my pen in an excellent bottle of ink made and sold by M A Parr Richmond Va. Instead of going on inspection, when we got our knapsacks packed we started for this place, where we arrived about 11 oclock, and after resting a short time we went on guard. Yorktown is not so much of a place as Java Village. A few buildings have been burned. A good wooden barrack has been built. Quite a good many tents are left standing. The works here are quite extensive, well built and mounted with a good supply of guns I presume they are spiked but we have not had a chance to see. They will not let us go about at all to gather trophies. The first regt which came in here found plenty of them. There are torpedoes planted in the walks most likely to be passed over and it is not exactly safe to go about much till they are removed, 6 men were wounded here this morning by the explosion of one. One it is thought mortally.
A negro who lives near here says the rebels commenced to move from here Thursday, they had not got all of their stores away yet. The negro says they thought we would not find out they had left today and tonight they intended to burn everything, but our coming in so quick put a stop to that. Our gunboats captured two small schooners which could not get away in time. The negro says the rebels have gone to Richmond but we will soon be there, the troops are following up as fast as possible. I saw a correspondent of the New York News with a polished skull which he found in a house here, probably it was from one of the victims of Bull Run. I send two rings of laurel root that I have whittled out at odd times, one for Lettie and one for Emma. Cory
Gloucester Point, Tuesday morning May 6th
As I have not had a chance to send out my letter, I thought I would add to it a little, so as to let you know all till I get a chance to send it. This point is across the York River from Yorktown, and here is a large nicely built fort, pretty well furnished with guns thought they are now useless as they are spiked. Just at night Sunday three companies were sent across to guard the point. Our Col then seemed to think that our regt would garrison the fort at Yorktown, and that Monday another regt would be sent here. I commenced to rain Sunday night and continued all day yesterday. We had plenty of good quarters to stay in, three of us have a room about ten by twelve. We cleared it out and found a nice little cook stove and we are enjoying ourselves. Plenty of fresh pork and meal found here and this morning we have got a contraband cooking for us, so quick we conform to the peculiar institutions. I think we shall live high.
All day yesterday there was heavy firing in the direction of Williamsburg, but we on this side do not get the news. The report this morning is that t, there was a battle in which we were victorious and took a large number of prisoners, also that Richmond is taken, but how true it is
I do not know. Well I have eaten my breakfast perhaps you may think meal mixed up with water and a little salt and baked would be nothing nice, but I have eaten nothing so good in a long time. Ships were coming up the river all day yesterday and the river is about full now. Last night they all had their lights out it looked like a city. Wednesday. And this letter had not left yet. Wednesday we came back to Yorktown and took up quarters here. At first we did not like the place at all, they were awful dirty, but after getting them cleared out we made the quite decent, and I think I shall live quite comfortable. There are 5 of us in a shanty about 10 feet square, bunks with straw on one side a fire place, two tables, one for writing on and one for eating, very comfortable seats, these things we hunted round and found in other places. We have got 2/3 of a barrel of as nice flour as you ever saw, and some 15 pounds of meal, this morning we made some hasty pudding and today we had all we wanted of as nice flour pancaker as I want. Two brothers named Phillips who tent with us are quite chemists and they know how to put it to account in cooking. Sam, Henry and myself are the others. We found a nice large bake kettle, inside smooth and flat, and it will bake pancakes to perfection. We have also quite a supply of beans and rice we found here. I have looked around the works here this morning, if the rebels could not stand here they will not find any place where they can. Such guns I can easily put my head into them and almost crawl into them. I begin to think we shall get home before the fourth now. Henry and I are going down to the river to take a swim. I found a bill here or part of one which I will send you.
Yorktown. Tuesday eve May 13th 62
Dear parents and sisters. Your letter of the 6th came to hand last evening having I suppose, gone to West Point, where our Brigade had gone. They let us remain in the rebel shanties which we had cleaned out until Saturday and then we had to move into tents nearer headquarters. We pitched our tents Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning we had inspection and at 11 divine services, all the rest of the day was occupied in moving the furniture we had gathered.
Our tents are not as comfortable as our shanties were as they are hotter but they are larger and more comfortable than those we have had all winter. They were some that the rebels left, and today I went out and found another which we joined onto the one we had and now we have plenty of room.
This has been a week of success to us. Norfolk evacuated, the Merrimac blown up, the navy yard in our hands, McClellan close upon Richmond if not in it. All the buildings in this place are converted into hospitals, and the sick are being sent home as fast as possible, but many a poor soldier will find a grave here.
There are quite a number of prisoners and some deserters here. One captain a fine looking man, tonight he was talking with some deserters who came in today, the deserters said they thought the place could not have been held if they had tried, the captain replied we could not have held it a day, I have looked at their works. Contrabands are coming in everyday, there must be over a hundred and I don’t know but two, they are set to cleaning rubbish and receive rations and I think some pay. The town is beginning to have a neater look than it did when we first came, it also has quite a lively look, a great many are all the time passing, and so many vessels in the river and steamers going by. We still live well in addition to the other things, oysters are only 50 cents a bushel, this morning after making a hearty meal of pancakes I made dessert of some dozen of them raw, simply splitting them and putting on a little salt and pepper and vinegar. Let those who think keg oysters are good raw, come and take them from the shell and I think they will pronounce them fit for kings. A bushel will only make five of us about one meal, and that is said to furnish two gallons of clean oysters. We have to go on guard here every other day but that is about all that we have to do. Night before last while on guard I first heard a whiporwill, but there was nothing about its cry so beautiful or mournful as I expected, it was repeated over and over rapidly all night long. Summer is far advanced corn would be ready for hoeing if planted in time. About the only flowers I have seen are roses and they are picked close. Good night. Cory
Yorktown, Sunday morning May 18th 1862
Dear Folks at Home. Your letter of the 15th came to hand last evening. We are still at Yorktown doing garrison duty, but it is said we shall go on to join the army tomorrow morning and it is said that the regt that is to take our place is already here. Still we have had no orders as yet to prepare to march. This place is getting to look quite decent, the streets are cleaned out and all the rubbish from torn down buildings removed and the ground leveled up, so that it begins to look more like a village. The principal street is named McClellan ave., the first cross street Porters, the 2nd Ellsworth, the 3rd Van Allen. Gen Van Allen is governor for this place and vicinity.
Prisoners are brought in and sent off almost every day. Yesterday I went down to the wharf to escort some prisoners, there was one boat that goes up to West Point and one that comes down each day. There were 6 or 8 coffins put on board the down bound boat and as many landed from the other to be filled and carried back. The next day I saw a lady dressed in mourning carrying the sword and pistols of a young officer just in front of her were tow negroes supporting him, and when the crowd became too thick one of them took him up and carried him, he was so poor that he made but a light burden, still he seemed to be convalescent. We still continue to live well. Last night we opened a bushel of oysters, and cooked them for supper. There were about a gallon of clear oysters, our eyes were a little too big however and we had enough left for breakfast. We are off guard here only 48 hours when we have to go on again, I went on guard last night, mine was the third relief which goes on at one and stands till five, but the last night for once I was lucky the guards on my beat were excused and allowed to go to our quarters, so I shall have to stand only from one till five in the afternoon. Yesterday I took a ramble off in the direction of James River and then came back about half way between the fort and out trenched, and then as we came back toward the fort we saw the torpedoes which had been dug up there were as many as 50 or 60 of them. Phillips is one of the greatest hands to get the darkeys that I ever saw. He has one here now who came in to get some shoes to black, and has asked him to sit down to breakfast which is now ready and so I will have to stop writing and eat mine. I must finish this letter and get it into the office before the mail goes out. Letties account of what is going on on the farm is interesting to me. I hope I may get home to family gathering though there is no telling how long we may be kept. The sweet flag is nice and I thank you much for it dear mother.
Your affectionate son and brother Cory
On the road to Richmond Sabbath afternoon May 25th 62
Dear folks at home. Although I had not received my usual letter from home yet I have no doubt it is on the way and I now take the opportunity to again communicate with you as I may not have so good a chance again. My last letter I wrote from Yorktown and although I then had heard report that we should leave on Monday I did not credit it and said nothing about it, but Monday afternoon we had to pack up what we could carry, leaving all the comforts we had gathered during our stay, and march on board the boat. That night we went up a little way and anchored and at an early hour we started up the river. The York River is very broad more like a bay than a river and salt to its head the junction of the Pamunkey and Mattapony rivers at West Point. The scenes along the river are very beautiful much finer it seems than the Hudson. There are some very pretty houses all of course in the old style with chimneys outside. It is said that when the boatmen see a house with the chimney inside in the northern style, they immediately go on shore and ask the proprietor what has got into his house.
We proceeded up the Pamunkey to the White House. This river is the crookedest stream I ever saw it is very narrow, the steamboat would very near reach across if it were turned that way.
We arrived at the White House landing as it is called at 10am, but I say no house. The Richmond and York river RR crosses at this point. We did not disembark till 4am meanwhile we lay out in the river watching the boats, swimming in the river, and the like. There were two large ocean steamers lying in the river as hospitals, filled with everything for the sick and wounded. After landing we marched along the RR some 3 or 4 miles to where our brigade lay and encamped. The next morning the whole division was on the move, we marched some 6 miles and encamped before noon. The next morning we started early and marched as far as any of us wanted to, how far I do not know. We encamped in a pleasant place where we yet remain. Nearby is a nice large mill pond where we can take a good bath whenever we choose. Wheat and oats are heading out, strawberries are ripe, green peas would be plenty if gardens were, it is really summer here.
How far we are from Richmond or the rebel lines I do not know, we shall very likely be nearer before I write again. The RR is in running order from White House landing to near our camp and two engines are place on it. I expect we shall move again tomorrow. The report has come this evening that Richmond is taken, the leiut col of the 83d Penn had been into the city today, he was officer of the day, one of our boys heard him say so himself.
May 31st Camp Gaines one mile from the Chicahominy
Dear parents and sisters. Ere this you have undoubtedly heard of the battle of Hanover court house, and perhaps that the 44th was engaged in it, and you may be anxious to hear from us.
We left the camp from which I wrote you last on Monday morning and came here only about two miles from out other camp. That night I went on guard. It commenced raining just at dark and rained all night. The cooks were called up about 11 oclock and ordered to prepare rations. The boys were called at 4am (it being still dark and raining) and marched. It continues raining till 10 oclock. In the afternoon it cleared off pleasant, about 4pm we heard a good deal of firing. The next afternoon about a dozen of the boys came into camp badly scared and said the 44th had been out flanked and all cut to pieces and what had escaped were running in disorder through the woods. It is evident it had been a Bulls Run to them, as the battle ground was some 20 miles from camp. But towards night the postmaster came in and said the 44th was lying on the battle ground and the order came to send out provisions. So I and two or three others who were in camp determined to go on and join them so that we might share the fatigues and dangers of our comrades. We got started about 6pm and marched till 10 when we stopped and spent the rest of the night in an old school house. The next morning we persued our journey and came to the regt about 10am. About a mile and a half before we came to the camp we passed the battle ground, near the road twenty of our boys lie in one grave, among them Warren Crook, aunt Dolly’s nephew. I was not acquainted with any of the others. Besides him 8 of our co were wounded among them were Willis and Perry neither of them dangerous though they will be unable to do duty for some time and will probably be sent home. 27 of our regt are dead and 57 wounded. I of course can give no account of the battle. Henry was written 4 sheets to Jenny and you must get it from her. The boys who ran away get bored most awfully except one, and he makes no excuses, he says he was as cool as could be under the fire until they were ordered to fall back into the road and then he disappeared. The rest try to excuse themselves saying they were helping off the wounded and got lost. I told you a little back, that I arrived at the bivouac on the forenoon of Thursday that afternoon we were told to prepare to march back to camp, we started about 4 pm and did not arrive there till 3 the next morning. I was tires and have not got entirely over it yet. A painful occurrence happened here yesterday, a terrible thunder storm came up about 3pm it seemed to pass over and then come back I never saw such lightening or heard such crashing thunder, the lightening struck one tent, killing our quartermaster, seargent and severely stunning several others in another tent. It exploded a box of cartridges severely burning one person, with this exception all have recovered, one had his shoe entirely torn off but hurting him scarcely at all. The deat by lightening seemed more terrible than all we lost in battle because it was so unexpected. The thunder and lightening did not leave us but continued half the night but I slept through it as I always do. We have two days cooked rations on hand and are liable to be called out at any time, even now I hear the reports of cannon not more than a mile or two from here. Perry and Willis are in the hospital about two miles from here, I should like to go and see them if I can get permission. The mail in which your last letter was, did not come to camp, but followed the regt, my letter leiut W put in the pocket of his overcoat and that on the adjutants horse, the horse ran away and lost the coat and my letter. Our adjutant major and one leiut were wounded and one leiut is missing he was at the hospital when it was attacked and is supposed to have been taken prisoner.
Camp near the Chickahominy June 8th 62. Sunday afternoon
Dear parents and sister. My last letter home if I remember right was written a week ago yesterday and I presume by this time you may be anxious to hear from me. I think I may have spoken of hearing heavy firing on that day, but from all we heard we had no idea of the magnitude of the battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. On that night we were called out with our brigade, and indeed I do not know but our whole division was aroused, but we only went down to the banks of the river, to support a party of bridge builders. The first two companies were deployed as skirmishers in the field and then were to advance to the river. We were ordered forward and I started to push my way through the bushed and weeds, I had not gone three steps before I came to a ditch, some two feet down to the water thinking it could not be deep I stepped off and plump I went into the water to my waist. As I was now well wetted I thought I might as well make my way across but when I got to the other side I could not get up the bank it was so steep and the bushes and briers so thick so I had to go back and one of the boys took hold of my gun and pulled me out. The river had risen and filled the ditch and the water was close to it on the other side so that I should have been no better if I had got across. We remained there all night expecting that as soon as the bridge was built we should cross, in the morning we went back to camp to get our breakfasts and prepare for a longer stay. When we came back we found the river had risen so much that they had been obliged to abandon the idea of a trestle bridge and were hauling boats to build a pontoon bridge, we stayed there a little while and then were sent back to camp with orders to be ready to march at a moments notice, but we were not called on. The river bank was found to be so swampy that a good deal to corduroy must be made before the artillery could cross. We now have quite a force over the river at that point.
Tuesday we went on picket out co was stationed in a large tobacco barn near the river the water having risen so high as to come nearly up to the barn. We had nothing to do but lie around and be as comfortable as possible. There was quite a quantity of tobacco leaf there and I tried my hand at making cigars and succeeded very well, I made about 50 that day and one mammoth one, when I went to camp I took along mote tobacco and made up quite a box which I sent to uncle Philetus by Perry, he and Willis started for home day before yesterday, they may be home before this reached you. I sent twenty dollars by them to father. Tell uncle P the cigars will want drying awhile before the will be fit for use. The tobacco belonged to a rich old secessionist and so was subject to confiscation, the boys that use it have not wanted for the article since we came to this camp, when they came back from Hanover they brought a bag weighing fully a hundred pounds for this co in plugs. Since hearing the glorious news from the west I begin to hope I may get home to the family gathering but the other editor must take care of the paper, perhaps I may be able to write something of interest for it. It is now summer here cherries are ripe and the stones of peaches are hardening, wheat will have to be cut soon if at all, but a great deal has been harvested by mules and horses or trodden down by men. Our camp is on a field of some kind of grain which when we came here was 4 or 5 inches high but now you would not know it from the hard road.
Does Father take the Tribune yet, I hardly ever see it but I see a good deal in other papers condemning it for saying so much against McClellan either directly or indirectly, and lauding one General for proclaiming the slave free and condemning McClellan because he does not. I think he is talking about what he is ignorant of and has no business to meddle with, thousands of slaves come into our lines and I never heard of one being returned yet, the slaves know they are free when they get into our lines as well as if we proclaimed it while great mischief would be done by making such proclamation, I sometimes think that what Greeley wants to do. The soldiers have all faith in McClellan and his presence on the battle field would do more good than a dozen fresh regiments.
Good bye for this time. Cory
Camp near the Chicahominy, Sabbath afternoon June 15th 62
Dear sister and folks at home. Your letter of the 10th came to hand this afternoon, that of the 3d I received last Tuesday, I am still enjoying good health unharmed by rebel bullets. By this time I think Willis and Perry must be home, a letter came for them this afternoon and I took the liberty to open it, it was from their father and mother and as it contained nothing of importance I shall not send it on to them.
Nothing of interest has occurred about here since the battle of Fair Oaks, we were called out in haste last Friday afternoon but after going a little way we were sent back again. On that day a party of rebel horse made a dash upon a train shooting the teamsters, setting fire to the wagons and killing or taking away the mules. Where they came from or where they went I cannot imagine. They must have been gurillas and as out cavalry came up in time to put out the fires before the wagons were much injured I think they could hardly have escaped, I heard today that twelve of them had been shot. Three of our regt’l teams were among the lost and it is said one of the teamsters from our co was shot, at any rate we have not heard from him since, we hope he may yet turn up.
It is now nearly night, my writing was broken off by a storm of wind and rain and after making things as snug as possible as the rain beat through the cotton roof, I put off for awhile, it is still raining but not very hard. Henry Hotchkiss joined us day before yesterday. Steven Smith has been unwell for some time back but is getting better now. I hope the advance on Richmond will be made before long, and the southern skedaderly smashed. It seems to take a great while to get ready to make a military movement, but of course I am well aware there are a great many impediments to be overcome before we get into Richmond. Monday. This morning is pleasant and cool. I must close this and put it in the office as I have to go on drill. Your brother Cory
Set 1 - Letters from Warner
Section 1: September 19, 1861 - June 15, 1862
Section 2: June 15, 1862 - July 8, 1863
Section 3: July 14, 1863 - October 6, 1864
Set 2 - Letters re: Warner Family Reunion (24 pages)
Set 3 -
Warner Diary (PDF only, 97 pages)
Back to 44th Regiment During the Civil War
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
March 5, 2012