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72nd Regiment
Civil War Letters of Peter Ostrye
transcriptions donated by Charlotte Smith

Peter Ostrye (Ostrowicki) born on 1 August 1842 in Sucha, Bydgoszcz, Poland . His parents were Mariana Kontna and Paul Ostrowicki. Paul Ostrowicki had been in the German army and much unrest had been see in the area . Paul decided to move his family out of Poland now called Prussia so his sons would not have to go into the army. Many of their Polish friends had gone to Dunkirk, Chautauqua County New York and so in late July 1852 they boarded the ship Universe out of Liverpool, England and sailed for the United States. They arrived in New York City August 16, 1852, and took the train to Dunkirk, New York. They lived here among other Polish immigrants for about 9 years. Peter was only 10 when they arrived.

Peter enlisted in August 1862 at Dunkirk, New York with the 72nd New York infantry Co E 3rd Brigade Army of the Potomac. His enlistment lists him as Peter Austria. The family seemed to have begun to use the name Ostrye or Ostre. Census takers and others just spelled it phonetically. So when Peter gave his name the recruiter heard Austria. So the mix up of the name began. And by 1870 the family was itself using the name Ostrye.

The 72nd had a total of 675 missing and killed and wounded. 7 officers and 111 enlisted men killed. 5 officers and 51 enlisted died from wounds; 28 officers and 326 enlisted wounded but recovered and 1 officer missing and 146 enlisted men missing. The biggest lost was at the battle in Williamsburg Va in May 1862 and Chancellorsville ,Va. May 1863 and Gettysburg, July 1863.

The 72nd was mustered out Jun 1864. There is a re-enactor group of the 72nd in Chlco California.

The letters I am going to read were written home to his parents and I have the originals. Evidently Peter couldn't write English well, if at all, and each letter is written in a different hand and at the end signed as written by and a name. According to history, volunteers came to the camps to write letters home for soldiers who could not read or write. So this is how the letters got home and of course someone at home had to learn to read English for the family.

-- Charlotee Smith

The letters are here.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: September 28, 2011

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