This letter was written by Eri Densmore Babcock (1830-1911), the son of Mulford William Babcock and Mira Dinsmore. Eri was a thirty year-old married when he enlisted in October 1861 as a corporal in Co. E, 59th New York Infantry. He participated in the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Malvern Hill, Mine Run, Bristoe Station, the Wilderness and several other miner skirmishes. He was promoted to sergeant in December 1861, and transferred to Co. B in June 1863. He was promoted to sergeant major in July 1863 and mustered out on 3 July 1864 to accept a commission as 2d Lieutenant of Co. B.
A biographical sketch of Eri D. Babcock published in “A History of Northern Michigan and its People,” by Perry Powers (p. 1269), states that: “Eri D. Babcock learned the trades of blacksmith and wagonmaker when a youth and followed the same in the Old Empire State until 1856, when he came to Michigan and located in Bay county, where he entered the employ of the lumbering firm of Sage & McGraw, in the capacity of blacksmith and wagonmaker in their lumbering camp.” Following the Civil War, Bancock returned to Michigan where he resumed his trade and finally “located at Judd’s Corners, a little hamlet in Shiawassee county, where he established a shop and engaged independently in the work of his trades….”
Eri wrote this letter to his wife, Catharine K. (Keller) Babcock (1835-1909).
Addressed to Mrs. Catharine Babcock, Palermo, Oswego County, New York
Camp 59th New York Volunteers
Near Stevensburg, Virginia
March 26th 1864
Yours of the 20th came to hand this evening. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were all well. My [health] continues good yet. I sprained my ankle or knee day before yesterday and I have not been able to walk much since without great trouble. I have no reason to complain. Everything goes off very pleasantly — plenty to eat and drink — and that is good enough though I expect there will be a change in our living as soon as we get to marching. I suppose there will be something done this summer. New General and a new army of five hundred thousand must do something. I think it will not take us long to whip the rebs when we once get at it. Our army is getting filled up fast. There is squads of recruits coming in every day. We are having very rough weather now — rain or snow every day. Old March is going out like a lion.
I am glad you feel in such good spirits about going on to the farm. I don’t think but what you will do well but don’t for goodness sake get homesick for that would spoil all the fun. Do you know where you can get you a cow? Try and get a good one and one not old.
I received a letter from Father day before yesterday. He wrote he was going on the place with you and that he was going to make the place support you and the money that I sent would go on the mortgage. That is all well enough but you must keep money enough by you to be comfortable. Don’t be without as much as twenty-five dollars by you if possible.
Our meetings are broke up. They have taken down the Christian Commission tent and they have gone back to Washington. I am striving to serve my Maker yet and I want you — if you have not start[ed] and go along with me and assist me with your prayers. write often. My love to all. From your affectionate husband, — E. D. Babcock