1861-64: Henry Chandler Smith Letters

These letters were written by Henry Chandler Smith (1838-1882), the son of Chandler Smith (1811-1861) and Electa Marie Wilcox (1816-1896) of Canaan, Columbia County, New York. In the next to last paragraph, Henry mentions several of his siblings: Edwin Sebastion Smith (1844-1926), Isadore Smith (1845-1907), and Mary Branch (“Branchie”) Smith (1846-1918).

When 23 years old, Henry enlisted at Canaan in Company I, First New York Mounted Rifles on 18 August 1862 for three years. He was mustered out on 12 June 1865.

Henry wrote most of the letters to Catharine (“Kate”) Gertrude Cook (1832-18xx), daughter of Nathaniel Cook (1792-Aft1850) and Prudence H. ____ (1798-Aft1850) of Richmond, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Henry married Kate on 13 September 1865 and farmed on a property two miles northwest of East Chatham, New York.

The Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library, College of William and Mary, has another letter in their collection from Henry to his sweetheart, Catherine G. Cooke of Richmond, Massachusetts dated 11 January 1864. Unfortunately they have it mis-identied and I have informed them of their error.


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Canaan [New York]
July 28, 1862

Dear Sister,

I suppose that you are wondering why you have not received an answer to your letter but when you get this, you will cease to wonder and sit down and answer it. I have been so very busy that it has been hard to find time to do anything. Branch showed me a part of her letter which stated that I went to R. d. on a certain Friday to see J. C. which statement I must flatly deny as she only surmised that I went there.

We miss you very much and wish that [you] would soon get very homesick and come home.

We have started the mowing machine and it works like a charm.

Christopher Pennell, James and Charles Fuarey have enlisted and I am sometimes almost persuaded to enlist.

I presume that you have been to church some since you have been there and have got somewhat acquainted with the people of Sheffield. There is a good number of young people there who think they have found the Savior.

I am very tired and will not try to [write] any more at present.

From Henry

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO

Suffolk, Virginia
June 26th 1863

Sister Isidore,

When I received your last letter I was at South Mills and was so glad to hear from you just then that I could easily excuse the lead pencil writing and will excuse them as often as you will send them if they are only letters. Tell branch that I got her letter last Tuesday and will answer it as soon as I can. I am feeling first rate now and hope I shall not have any more sickness right away. Mother wanted to know if I bled at the lungs as I did before. Tell her that I did not but in other respects the attack was the same and was well again as soon as when at home though I often thought of Mother and wished she could be here for an hour or so.

We came from South Mills last Tuesday and have been very busy ever since. Suffolk is being evacuated and almost everything is already moved. We have got our things packed and are in readiness to move at any time. Most likely we shall be stationed at Norfolk but you may direct as usual till I send you word. Only be sure to direct in care of Capt. Fairgraves. I have received 2 letters and one paper this week that belonged to a man in Co. C just because his Captain’s name was not on it. It would have made you laugh to have seen the spelling in those letters.

We had just got our nice board houses done at the Mills when the dispatch came for us to come to Suffolk. I am very glad of it for it was very lonesome down there. Our regiment is all broken up into battalions and each is at a different place. We shall have to leave a good many things which we would be glad to have but shall carry all of the best of them. We can carry quite a load on our horses.

It has rained nearly all day but cleared up tonight and will be pleasant again tomorrow, I guess. Calander has been quite sick but is now getting better and will soon be around again. I am sorry for Mrs. Gamewell. You must give her my regards.

I would like to have seen Christopher first rate. Give my compliments to all of the folks. Dear Isi, you must tell me about those initials for I cannot make anyone else tell and I begin to feel quite anxious to know. Now you mind or I’ll, I’ll…

I think by your writing that you think I write quite often to Richmond but you are quite liable to be mistaken about such things. I hear a great deal about things on the Hill lately and begin to think that there is something in it. Don’t bastion have as much business at the village as usual. Oh Izzy, you must have Mother go with Aunt Clara when she visits Aunt Julia for it will do her good to get away from home for once. We miss the chaplain very much but are doing the best we can. Religion gives great comfort to a person away from home and friends as I am. I am sorry that you can’t have the Sabbath School but never mind for we hope this cruel war will soon be over. Good bye, Izzy.

Your loving brother, — Henry

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE

Williamsburg, Va.
October 25th 1863

Dear Sister,

I did not get your letter until yesterday when I came from picket and did not have time to write yesterday so I am going to write a few lines to you.

It commenced raining yesterday and has not cleared off yet. There is still a great deal of fever and ague here. There are from twenty to thirty on the “sick” list from each company. I never felt better in my life than I do now. There is nothing new or exciting going on here at present but last Friday we got quite excited over a dispatch that came from headquarters for us to pack our things and be ready to march in an hours time. When we had got about half ready, another order came for us to unpack so we are still here and very likely to stay till spring if not longer. We were to have been relieved by the Twentieth Cavalry and sent to Alexandria.

There was a scouting party went out last Friday and in the night when they came back within sight of where I was on post a party of guerrillas fired on them and then ran for the woods. The same night three colored soldiers came in who were taken prisoners at the Battle of Winchester.

The Memorial that I spoke to you about is already sold to one of the boys. Perhaps we may get some that are more perfect before I leave the army and if you do, I will send you one certainly. I will send you a photograph too sometime if you will be a good girl.

I will not tell you who informed me about your ride in the “hind end” of the carriage for anything and I don’t think you could ever guess.

The leaves are nearly off from some of the trees but very many of them look as bright as ever. We have had only two or three frosts and they were more than three weeks ago. If you go down to Uncle Merrill’s, you must give him my best respects. I shall expect my box next Saturday and hope to enjoy it very much. Tell Bastion that he must write to me right away if he can or I will write to Lydia about him.

Sunday evening—I have just received a letter from Mr. Pennell and he says that his wife is at Southport on a visit and that Mrs. Frost is dead and that she died just before or directly after they got to Minnesota. He says they are having prayer meetings every evening and that they are going to have the Conference there that you spoke of. You must go if you can.

I am going to the prayer meeting in a few minutes. I wish that little Arthur would send me a photograph when Mother takes him where they take them and I will pay for it. I want to see him so much. Be a good girl and write often.

Your loving brother, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
Williamsburg, Va.
December 31st [1863]

Dearest Kate,

Your last letter was received a number of days ago and I have not answered it for the reason that I knew you were away and would not get it any sooner then than now. I wish you a very happy New Year which I think you can hardly fail to have. It would give me the greatest pleasure in the world to spend the holidays with you.

This is one of the most disagreeable days to be out of doors that I ever saw. It has rained like a torrent all day without cessation and is likely to rain all night. I wonder what kind of weather there is in New York today. Perhaps it is snowing as hard as it rains here.

As this is the last letter I can write to you this year, it ought to be a very long one, don’t you say so? But it rains so hard that I must be excused. Isn’t this a good excuse?

Our chaplain got back last Saturday and brought rather bad news to us from the War Department. There are not three men in the whole regiment but what were enlisted by Col. Dodge for the term of one year and ten months, and he pledged us his solemn word of honor as a soldier and gentleman that we should be mustered out with the old men but now he turns around and says that he remembers nothing about it so we shall have to stay eighteen months longer. The men were so outraged at being humbugged in this way that Col. Patton (who is now Lieut. Col.) went immediately to Gen. Butler’s Headquarters and under the circumstances got permission to reenlist us for three years or during the war and our time to commence from the first of January 1864. By reenlisting, we stand nearly as good a chance to get home as soon as though we remain as we are for no one can hardly think the war will last for two years longer. The bounties that we get now are the U.S., State, and N.Y. City bounties, amounting in all to nine hundred and fifty dollars. We get a furlough of not less than thirty-five days immediately after being mustered and if I join with the rest, shall be at home without fail in about twenty-five days. I have been  humbugged so that I want to make everything sure before I go any further. Our chaplain says that anyone would be foolish in the extreme under the present circumstances who didn’t enlist.

Dear Katie, I feel much worse about this for my friend’s sake than my own. I know that my sisters and Mother will feel very badly but such are the circumstances and they cannot be altered.

My dear Catherine, you cannot tell how much disappointed & feel because I did certainly expect as well as all the rest that I should be permanently home by next July. I must soon stop writing for it is nearly time to attend the prayer meeting and I cannot bear to be absent from that. Perhaps you would like to see what kind of looking man we have for a chaplain and at any rate I will send you a photograph. The chaplain has been so kind to me that I think everyone loves him as I do.

Kate, I hope you will write as soon as possible and tell what you think of it. Please do.

We had a good meeting tonight and tomorrow we go on picket again. Katie, I have a great deal to say but must now close wishing you a hearty good night.

Always your affectionate friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
April 6th 1864

My dear Catharine,

You know I promised to write you again in two or three days after I mailed my last letter but several things have transpired to prevent me from keeping my promise so you see that I shall be obliged to be more careful in future how I promise to write to the girls. I now remember several young ladies who made me promise on leaving home to write them (if I could find time) but I have never found any time to write a line to them yet. Don’t you think I have had my time all occupied. I know well enough what you will say (i.e., I guess I had not better tell after all).

I have just been relieved from “Camp Guard” and you can tell just how I feel by sitting up all night some time—not by a good fire, but four hours must be spent out in the fields somewhere all alone where you can have a good time for meditation, especially if it rains quite hard. We have had only one pleasant day since I wrote you last and the rest have been rainy. It bids fair for several more such days.

I heard from I___ two or three days ago. She is going to New York on a visit this week and going home next week—if Aunt Mary can possibly spare her—when you are all requested to spend a day or two at our house. Aunt Mary is very much puzzled to know where to find an appropriate name for such a “remarkable boy.”

I don’t know but I ought to tell you what a pleasant dream I had not long ago when I imagined myself at home and while there I “escorted” you to a party and of course enjoyed it in the extreme. Kissed you (I dare not say how many times) and all of ladies present too, and then waked only to hear the disgusting reveille when all my fun was at an end.

Dearest Catharine, I am anxiously looking forward to a time when such imaginations will be realities yet I cannot nor must not be impatient but wait until our Heavenly Father wills it to be so. I know that my absence has made all of my friends a thousand times dearer to me than they were before and I am sure I never loved you before as I have since I have been in the army. I shall commence reading the bible with you next Sunday and hope it will be a great assistance to me as well as a pleasure. I have prayed for you very much lately and trust that we shall meet in the “Better Land” if not on earth.

I shall look forward for another letter from you tomorrow night so I close by sending you a kiss & wishing you much joy. Pleasant dreams &c. — H. C. Smith

P. S. I have not very strictly observed the rules of etiquette in this letter which of course you will overlook please.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX

Camp near Williamsburg, Va.
April 18th 1864

Dearest Kate,

It is now been days since I received your last letter but I suppose I shall get one tonight with lots of such clever excuses that I shall not feel much like scolding after all. I should have written you two days ago if I had not been detailed for picket so having nothing to do this afternoon—only reading—I thought I would change the program of use of the pen, which by the way is a very poor one and you will do well if you manage to read its scrawls.

The weather is very pleasant now as a general think and I take a walk nearly every day—sometimes on the beach, in a grove, or in the dense forests that surround this place in every direction. The scenery on the York & James rivers is very beautiful but I am—or have been—so accustomed to see mountains that it seems rather odd to live for nearly two years without seeing anything of the kind.

My dear, how I wish you were here to take a walk with me this afternoon and gather wild flowers of all kinds, Our peach, pear, apple & cherry here have been in bloom over a week. The fields look as green and birds sing as sweetly as your will on the 1st of June.

I found a four leafed clover the other day which I will send you for you never could find one.

Kate, I don’t know but I ought to tell you that I received a letter from a friend in West Stockbridge not long ago saying that she had heard from nearly a dozen different sources that I was coming home on furlough for the express purpose of being married. The people are bound to take a great interest in our affairs I should think.  In the absence of “war news,” I suppose they can find nothing else to talk about. I had a “telegraphic dispatch” the other day that sister Ellen had got another of the “prettiest little boys” ever seen but this report lacks confirmation.

Our prayer meetings are getting to be very interesting and last night there were more present than at any meeting since we left Suffolk last July. I am afraid that we shall have to be moving again ere long when our meetings will be broken up.

When I was reading the eighth chapter of Romans yesterday, I was very much affected by the precious promises that are found there. I think after all that there is nothing can make us half as happy as religion.

There is no mail tonight so I shall be obliged to close soon for it is not as easy to write when one has all of the talking to do. If you would only get a furlough and come to see me, I would sit up all night to chat with you.

Your loving friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN

Headquarters 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps
Turkey Bend, Virginia
May 23rd 1864

My dearest Catharine,

I do not yet owe you a letter but as it has been nearly a week since I wrote you last, it may not be out of character to write you a few lines again for the reason that I cannot tell when I shall have another opportunity of chatting with you by means of the “good old pen.” I am still in good health & feeling as well as ever in my life, for aught I know.

The weather is very hot & sultry now and the flies & mosquitoes begin to annoy one very much—especially when he is writing to his sweetheart. Yesterday and today have been two of the most quiet days there has been in two weeks. No firing is heard except an occasional shot from the monitors and the firing of sharpshooters.

I must tell you how I spent a part of the Sabbath for it will not do to spend all of my time in writing of the scenes of the battlefield.

In the morning I was on duty for awhile but when relieved I went into a quiet grove, read the 11th Chapter, 2nd Corinthians, spent much time in prayer & meditation till i felt very happy & assured that if my life was not spared through another week, I should certainly share the smiles of our dear Savior through a never-ending eternity. I thought of you—how perhaps you were at meeting where there is nothing to disturb the quiet of the Sabbath.

I read nearly all of the old letters I had i my possession of which two-thirds were from you. I took about a day [to] look at a certain likeness & gave it nearly as many kisses &c. &c. Foolish fellow, am I not? In the evening there was a prayer meeting only a few rods from the headquarters of the brigade in the 10th Connecticut Vols. I could hear every prayer offered & hymn that was sung but being on duty in the evening, I could not leave to go.

The chaplain of the 10th Connecticut is a very fine man and much loved by the whole regiment. I have got partially acquainted with him and hope to be better acquainted before long.

A telegraphic dispatch to General Butler says that General Meade & Lee are engaged again so I expect that we will soon make another move when there will doubtless be a desperate engagement too awful for any woman to witness and I pray that you, dearest, may never be obliged to be very near such times. The enemy’s forts are not over a quarter or half mile from ours and our pickets are not over six rods apart. I can now hear the whistle of the Richmond-Petersburg train so they must have the road repaired again. We have a large number of rifle cannon mounted so that we could throw shells beyond the Petersburg Railroad if we chose. I think that our artillerists could plant one of their guns near our house and after firing three shots, could burst every shell directly on the roof of your house. A week ago Saturday during the fight near the Halfway Hotel, the rebel sharpshooters occupied a large house and were doing fearful execution on our officers & men so a piece of artillery was ordered up and the first shot burst directly in the house and it was instantly in flames.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT

Headquarters 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps
Near City Point, Virginia
June 8th 1864

My only loved Kate,

I have just received your letter of the 3rd inst. and have perused it the 3rd time, feel myself incompetent to the task of waiting till tomorrow before answering it, although in reality it has been only four days since I wrote you last. Yet to me during this & the last month, each day has been of more importance than a dozen days in civil life. So from this, I argue that each four days is a long period of time and you must not blame me if (when I have leisure) I trouble you with more than one letter per week or else you must stop writing me such affectionate letters. Now which of the two do you choose to do?

My dearest Kate, I sometimes [think] that you have a great deal of patience to be thus kept waiting for my return for such a long, long time, and if you promise to tell no one, this is one of the many things that has made me love you more than I dare tell. Your kind and cheering letters have caused many an hour of the “lonely camp life” to pass pleasantly away.

I have very pleasant & easy times here at Col. Plaisted’s when “all is quiet” and by the way, we have not been disturbed only once since Sunday afternoon. About the time when you & Jane were enjoying that pleasant walk, we had an artillery duel (if I may call it by that name). Yesterday the rebs chucked over a few solid shot and since then it has been entirely quiet. We heard heavy firing in the direction of the White House last night but have not heard what it was. We get the papers regularly every day though each paper is two days old when we get it.

I shall try to find Mr. Dresser which I think I can do very easily for the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry are not far from here and one troop is detailed as bodyguard for Gen. [Quincy Adams] Gillmore. I think I saw him once when I was attending school at Stockbridge and there is another John Dresser who used to be a clerk at the State Line Depot but I hardly think this is the one that you mean.

Attention! the quiet is broken for here comes a shell from the rebs to let us know that they are not all asleep I suppose. I wish I could explain to you the fiendish sounds that a shell makes while passing through the air.

I firmly believe that He who notes even the “fall of a sparrow” can keep me from harm if He should think best. I feel very happy in the Savior today and hope always to be in such a frame of mind that if I am suddenly called, I may meet you in a “Happy Home” beyond the flight of time.

Oh Kate, please give my congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Brown by kissing the bride any number of times for me. Now don’t you dare to disobey.

I suppose that you imagine that I have forgotten Miss Boughton but I have not. I think just as much of her as ever and would like to get her address but suppose that you are too jealous to give it to me.

I have now written another long letter and will close for the present, remaining as ever your devoted friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE

Headquarters 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps
Near Bermuda Hundred, Virginia
June 14th 1864

My Dear Kate,

It is not quite time for the mail to arrive but I am feeling just like writing tonight so I have got out my portfolio and am trying to write, but it is so dark that I do it all by guess work. If I was at home tonight, I presume I should be just mischievous enough to kiss you about forty times and even as it is (if I dare confess it) my disposition is no better.

June 14th—a delightful morning. It got so dark last night that I had to stop writing after all so I will try to pen something this morning though I do not feel half as much in the spirit of writing as I did last night. This is one of the kind of mornings that makes me feel happy in spite of himself and if could only be here for a short time, I would take you over to the bank of the James [river] to see the monitors & gunboats and the scenery across the river toward Richmond which is as beautiful as any I ever saw. I have changed my opinion of the South very much since I have been here. I think as a general thing that the South would be equally if not more pleasant than the North if the same industrious people lived here that are in the North. I think that the James is naturally a more beautiful river than the Hudson but one looks in vain to see the “splendid mansions” on the James that are seen on the Hudson.

General Grant arrived here yesterday and his army has been crossing the James on pontoons ever since. I suppose he means to get in the rear of Petersburg. Today we have heard heavy firing in that direction though it has been very [heavy] for several days.

6 o’clock P.M. — My dearest, I guess I shall have time to finish the “epistle” this time out. Shall have to send it before the mail arrives today or else wait another day which I will not do and as this letter is short you need not consider yourself in debt to me for it providing you agree to praise me for my liberality.

There is only one battalion of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in this department and there is no person in this battalion by the name of Dresser. I think he must be in Grant’s Army. I had biscuit & butter, fired cakes & tea for supper. Don’t you wish you could live in such style? Goodbye Gertrude. — Henry

P. S, I will write again in a few days. We expect a hard battle here at any time and would not be surprised if it should open before tomorrow morning.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN

Headquarters 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps
Near Bermuda Hundred, Virginia
June 19th 1864

Dearest Catharine,

It is with great pleasure that I open the old portfolio to answer your letter of the 13th inst. which I received yesterday but was [not] allowed the time to answer it yesterday. I wrote you a few lines two or three days ago but as I told you that I should not wait on your returning the compliment, I cannot expect another letter from you before next week. But if I should happen to get another, you shall have all the praise that your merit deserves.

I suppose that Laura had to guess about five or six times before she thought of me and really I do think she was rather foolish to keep it so secret—especially from me, because I have always taken such an interest in her affairs. She must certainly send me a “wedding kiss” in payment for past neglect.

Monday morning, 10 o’clock A. M.  Well Gertrude, here I am at it again. The Colonel called me to go with him yesterday and I have not had any leisure since them. I have been riding all the morning and the effect may be seen by the scrawls I am making. Kate, I must say that you asked me a very hard question in reference to the “marriage ceremony” for I have never troubled myself very much about such affairs and I believe you are the only person whose opinion I ever asked on the subject. I do not yet feel very much ashamed of my conduct but cannot tell how I should feel if it was already a “publick affair.” Now Kate, I have answered the questions that you asked so now it is my privilege to ask you in return. Catharine, you being my senior, I shall expect you to answer my questions much more correctly than I could yours.

Catharine, if you were to be married, would you be afraid to let me know it or to let Laura tell me if I should happen to be in the neighborhood? Would you prefer to have the ceremony performed in a private house or in a publick place? Would you have the courage to say yes with all the “meetin lookin on?”  Perhaps you will think that I ought to be ashamed for teasing you in this way by asking such inquisitive questions, but you are to blame for teasing me so I shall make you answer all that I have asked. Well, Kate, I guess I have teased you enough for this time.

I should really like the privilege of enjoying the scenery from your parlor windows once more but still this would be a pleasant place if you were only here. I am very glad that you are holding prayer meetings again. I attended one last night in the 10th Connecticut camp.

Kate, I can never tell you how much enjoyment I find in reading the same scripture every day that you do. Isadore has been to Judson to make some purchases. Mother & Aunt Clara are going to Southport some time this week or next.

I have been in two severe fights since I wrote last. Goodbye, my dearest & only loved Kate, — H. C. S

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
near Point of Rocks, Va.
July 13th 1864

Dear Catharine,

I was very agreeably surprised when I arrived in camp last night to find six letters for me—three of which were from a certain person who has had all of my affection for a long time past. I suppose I must not praise you too much but I must say that you have been a very good girl. I wrote you a letter while I was at Suffolk last Saturday which I suppose you have received ere this.

We started from Suffolk at 3 o’clock on Monday morning making a forced march till 9½ o’clock that night after which time we took it easier till we arrived in camp last night. We expected to have went to Portsmouth and taken transports from there to Fortess Monroe and from there to camp (via) Williamsburg, New Kent, Bottom’s Bridge, &c. instead of which we returned by nearly the same road we took in going.

We would have had a very pleasant time had not the roads been so awfully dusty. I have some dust at home but the dust of Virginia beats anything I ever saw before—especially now because there has been no rain here since the 4th & 5th of June and not very then. Oh! I had forgotten to tell you of a terrific thunderstorm we had on Tuesday afternoon lasting for three long minutes, after which there was a calm and the dust soon rose as usual.

Katie, I can hardly think that you wish me to scold you for being so forgetful when at Pittsfield and then trying to write well with poor pens. The truth is I am ashamed to reprove you because I am so careless with my own writing so I don’t see but that there is danger of both of us being “spoiled children.”

Kate, there is no necessity for telling Miss Woodruff to pay you her own compliments because the errand is already done. I will do it when she asks me again though Kate, I think my two youngest sisters are really becoming somewhat lazy (if I may use the expression) because I cannot with all my threats get them to write half as often as they formerly did. I must get you to carry my threats into execution when you see them because you have had some experience in such affairs. You have been very kind to answer all the questions I asked but I cannot allow you a kiss because all of them were answers conditionally. I mean with an “if” before them/ If you had used the “Indication Mood,” I don’t know but I should have allowed what you asked. Kate, I think you are really hard-hearted if you will not give me Miss Boughton’s address. I suppose you will give me Mr. Boughton’s address if I will promise not to write to him.

Dearest Gertrude (the prettiest name you have), I must soon close but could write another sheet if I had time.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
near Point of Rocks, Va.
July 24th 1864

My dear Catharine,

Your last letter was received several days ago but having written one to you the day previous to receiving yours and not having been feeling very well since, I think I ought to be excusable, but I suppose you will scold me awfully. You are not to think that I am very sick yet for I am not under the Surgeon’s care, and am feeling better today than I have for many days past. My appetite has been very poor and I have been troubled some with a dizzy headache but I am happy to say that I am feeling very much better today.

I have thought of you very often with much anxiety for fear you were going to be sick. Kate, “you must be a good girl and not get sick.”

I am sorry that you were so seriously disappointed about attending the Festival. I think the gentleman who invited you must have had something very absorbing on his mind. I am sure I cannot tell you what to do about it before I know who the person was. Perhaps he intended to give you the mitten (I feel very sorry for your misfortune).

The weather here today is cool & cloudy. It rained all day on the 19th and has been very pleasant since. I do not yet know whether there will be preaching in camp today or not. It is now about time for afternoon services in West Stockbridge and I can imagine just how it would seem if it were my privilege to be there today. My dearest, I hope that such privileges may soon be ours. I am fully convinced that the more piety one has, the more is every proper worldly pleasure enjoyed. I have learned very much since I have been in the army that I never thought of before.

There was very heavy firing at Petersburg last night lasting about two hours. I got up and could see a large part of the tragedy. I heard today that it was caused by a fatigue party of ours being sent out to throw up some earthworks.

There is nothing of importance transpiring here at present. Our only business being two drills per day—Saturdays & Sundays excepted. I went over to the Christian Commission  yesterday and procured some books to read.

Monday morning—it rained very hard during the past night and has now cleared off so pleasantly, reminding me of the time when I tool you and Jennie home after that awful rainy night which I presume you remember. I did not love you as much then as I do now but I must acknowledge that I had a great fancy for you even then.

After I stopped writing yesterday, I attended services on the Parade. The text was, “Let me die the death of the righteous.”  The chaplain made some very touching remarks among which he referred to the death of a pious sergeant who died from the effect of a wound received at the Battle of the Wilderness.

In the evening I attend the [pro____ing] after which I received a letter from you which was the climax of the whole. I must say that you are the most prompt of any of my correspondents and your letters are received with more pleasure than those from anyone else. I suppose I shall spoil you if I do not stop praising you so much. Gertie, I will not say anything to the girls about that love letter if you really insist but you know that I ought to see it too if it is worth seeing. Will you let me see it if I will come home in a month or two? I see very plainly that you are determined that I shall not correspond with the lovely Peace so I must give it up.

I will make you tell when I get home, I can’t promise you to burn your letter just now but shall be obliged to some time for I burn all my letters after I have read them five or six times, keeping only a very few of the very best I receive. I should dislike very much to have anyone else see a letter that was written confidentially to me.

My dear Gertie, I would give almost anything if I could see you this morning but I don’t suppose you will ever get a furlough. Remember me to all. Sincerely, your devoted friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
Near Point of Rocks, Virginia
August 8th 1864

Dearest Kate,

I am very much pleased to receive a letter last night from you and still more pleased when I saw what a lengthy one it was. I suppose I must give you one credit mark at least.

It is now early in the morning and very pleasant under the arbor where I am not sitting but it will be very hot before noon. I believe I have not told you that our chaplain left us very suddenly last Monday morning having delivered his farewell address on the night before. We felt very sorry to lose him but could not blame him for his only child was very sick which made him so anxious to get home.

I am sorry to say that the fever has still got the best of me but I am in hopes of “running it off of the track” soon. I am feeling better this morning than I have for four or five days past. I suppose it is the effect of the letter I received that makes me feel so much better today.

Kate, I am afraid you are working too hard this summer. I shall have to punish you soon if you don’t mind me. Now remember. Miss Kate, when I get well again I shall have to tease you awfully “in payment” for what you tease me. Now I can’t believe you when you say that that beautiful hair stands erect like porcupine quills and that you run out in the hot sun like a little girl without any bonnet on, &c. I shall have to tease you for this. I think you and Ella must have quite an interesting appearance while you were navigating that brook. (I suppose I ought to have been there to have seen the fun too.)

Kate, I did not intend to give you any encouragement about coming home for I have determined that no one shall know when I am coming till I arrive there. I have thought of you often since I have been sick and wondered if I would get such care at home as I get here. I am trying to be patient and hope that the Father of Mercies will care for me.

I am feeling laborful and happy but I am getting weary and must close hoping that you will write soon for I am so anxious to hear from you. My respects to all.

Your loving friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOURTEEN

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
Point of Rocks, Virginia
August 26th 1864

Dear Kate,

After having received a letter from you, I cannot content myself until it is answered. Your letter arrived last night but I could not find time to answer it until this afternoon. I think you will find that I can trouble you with as many letters as you can me even if mine are not quite as long as yours. Kate, I really pity you if you are teased more than I sometimes am about getting your letters. The boys are very curious to know who Miss Cooke is but as no one in the regiment (excepting one) has seen her, they are obliged to remain in the dark. Don’t you pity them? I suppose that Mr. Pierson though he had been doing you a great favor.

I don’t know as I am personally acquainted with anyone in the village by the name of Thompson excepting the one who has charge of the “Grove Mill” and if this is the one you referred to, I do not mind that the people imagine such strange things.

Kate, I will always be very happy to receive an invitation to the wedding and then if I should not happen to go, shall be much pleased of the important specimen of the important dress and also of the cake. You certainly cannot be blamed for falling in love with him for he certainly does look precisely like Henry Smith.

I hope you will have a pleasant visit if you and Jane should go to Springfield and Chickopee in September. I think you ought to “own up” that September is the most pleasant season of the year. Kate, if I was in your place, I would not allow Jane to tease me so.

Dear Katie, I am much pleased to know that you are willing to continue the reading of the Testament. Nothing could please me more for I always think of you hoping that the time may soon come when we shall enjoy it more. Shall I tell you how I pass my leisure time at present? We are having but very little duty to do, consisting of drill, Camp Guard, &c. Nearly every day we have a daily paper to peruse and today I got a volume of Spurgeon’s sermons which I think are very interesting.

Dearest Kate, if dreams did not always go by contraries, I would have been home several times to have seen to affairs in this. I think I am growing more careless about my writing than you are. Don’t you think it would be a good plan for both of us to take more pains?

I shall be on Camp Guard tonight so I must be prepared to pass inspection. Your affectionate friend, — H. C. S.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTEEN

New Berne, North Carolina
November 13, 1864

My Dear Mother,

It seems as if something was turning up all the time to keep me from writing. When I recovered from my last turn of chills, I was a going to write pretty often but no sooner that I recovered from the chills than a diarrhea took hold of me & has kept me down so weak that I have kept putting off writing in order to feel better. I am now nearly or quite as well as ever. The severest turn I have ever had for forty-eight hours I run to the sink as many times & the pain I underwent was almost beyond description. From Sunday night until the next Saturday I never took my clothes off. I could do nothing but run, run, run. It was the worst type of diarrhea, nothing passing my bowels but blood & slime. My bowels were so sore occasioned by the pain that it was with difficulty I could move. I had the good luck to be attended by Dr. Holcomb. He tried almost everything but with no effect. At last on yesterday he ordered an opium injection in fifteen minutes, I felt easier & in half an hours time I was entirely free from pain & did not have to go out again until this morning. I took another this morning & have felt first rate all day. It is seven in the evening.

I sent down town & bought some medicine but it had no effect. It was the same as Jen sent me last summer a year ago. I took some extract of sweet gum that done no good. I took phy___ & that done no good & I had come to the conclusion that I was not to be helped. But I shall be on duty again in a few days.

We commenced provost duty last Tuesday. The people are greatly rejoiced that we have again come back. They seem to have a perfect horror of negroes. On account of the fever the commission would not come here to take the role of the 10th but we took a vote for our own satisfaction, which resulted in one hundred & thirty-two (132) majority for Lincoln & Johnson, 5 for McClellan. Five days since election & yet we remain ignorant of the results of that momentous occasion. Rumors are beginning to come of the election of the Union candidates but nothing definite will be known for some days to come. We are getting very impatient & yet we are confident that the people will not go back on us. The soldiers have done well. The army has polled an enormous rate for the right man.

You may send me a little more money if you are a mind [to] for I don’t know as we will ever be paid & if I am a going to continue to have sick spells, it will no due to be without. You spoke sometime since about hearing that I was studying for a commission in a colored regiment. That must have been a mistake for I have not studied for anything. I guess whoever told you was thinking of someone else.

We are having splendid weather now & it ought to bring good health. My love to all & accept this letter with affection from your son, — Henry

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIXTEEN

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
Near Oak Grove Church, Virginia
December 21st, 1864

My dearest Friend,

It is now two days since I received your last letter and is nine days since I wrote to you last but the reason of the apparent negligence is not that I was waiting for you to write but for the simple reason that it has been impossible for me to have written sooner so you will excuse me again like a good girl, won’t you Kate?

My duties here are very different than when I was at Gen. Butler’s and I may safely say that I have more to do here in one day than I had there in a week.

It rained very hard all last night and has not stopped yet (4 o’clock P.M.) I have been doing my best to get my furlough in time to be home during Christmas and New Years but it is impossible though I have the next one which I shall get as soon as one of those get back who are now home. I shall probably get started about the 1st of January so you can purchase four yards of red tape immediately with which to trim your pretty shaker bonnet and then you must be sure and have your hair cut short for curls. I’ll become a pretty bonnet. Kate I would like to have you tell me what my fortune is to be between now and the 15th of January 1865. These are my numbers—3 & 5—7 & 8. I hope it will be nothing bad for I always like your fortune.

Oh, Kate, I have nearly forgotten to tell you that we have at last started a weekly prayer meeting to be held every Monday evening and also are to have preaching every Sabbath when it is pleasant. We had our first meeting last Monday eve and it would make you laugh if I should tell you the circumstances and the place where we held it.

Evening. Well Kate, here I am again }pen in hand” but oh how much more pleasant if I could only have a good chat with you without being obliged to use a pen. I suppose that you are now in Lenox and of course I wish you a happy time but I will not send you any more good wishes if you don’t write more often for you know that you have more time than I do. Of course you will not object to giving my love to your lady acquaintances in Lenox. Well then, “in payment” I will give you an introduction to some of mine when I come home. I am sure that this a fair bargain, won’t it?

The mail has just arrived but I am sorry to say brings nothing for me but perhaps I shall get a letter tomorrow. I think you will have to owe me a half days kisses to pay for disappointing me tonight. Nothing else will satisfy me.

Please give my kind regards to your mother, Jane, Hiram, and all “inquiring friends.” Excuse me for writing more tonight and I will write again the very next opportunity I have. Good night. — Henry

P. S. I have not heard from [my sister] Isidore yet. What shall we do to her! You shall be the judge and I will be the executioner. You can judge her now and I will execute the punishment when I get home.

 


TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVENTEEN

Camp of 1st N. Y. Mounted Rifles
Oak Grove Church, Virginia
December 25, 1864

My dear Catharine,

Your letter of the 17th was received on the day after I had written you and it is now only three days since I wrote to you but what else can I do than write to you when I desire to see you so much that I can hardly be contented.

I thank you very much for your wish to me of a Merry Christmas and were it not so late, I would wish you the same. And so as not to be too late again, I wish you a Happy New Year.

We have been out on Mounted Inspection all of the morning and this afternoon. At 2 o’clock we are to have preaching when I must stop [writing] to attend. The weather is pleasant but rather cold, though there is no snow now.

Today finishes the las chapter of the Testament and as the experiment has proved so beneficial & pleasant to me, I propose as you are willing that we continue to read our daily chapters as usual, commencing tomorrow at the 1st of Romans where we started nearly a year ago. I have a bible and there is a large part of the Old Testament that would be very pleasant to read in the same way but this with me would be impossible.

Evening. We had a very good Christmas sermon this afternoon but it is astonishing how few of the great army take any interest in religion. I don’t suppose that on an average there is really over one religious man to seventy that are irreligious. Perhaps you will think this strange when so many good Christians (apparently) have joined the army. But as far as I have been able to observe, this is about the ratio to the whole army. Such is the degrading influence of war. I hope & pray, and more, I believe that it will end before next July. I would like to be in the service till it is ended and then I want my discharge forthwith.

I received a letter from Branchie today. Says she is going to make you a long visit before a great while. Perhaps I will ride over with her some evening.

Well, Kate, your privilege of giving invitations and making proposals will soon end (6 days only) and then Leap Year will not come again in a long time. I think that Leap Year gives the ladies more privileges than they ought to have, don’t you Kate?

I can think of no more nonsense to write so I must bid my dearest friend good night. — H. C. S.

P. S.  I have nearly forgotten to tell you that we have lost the best Captain we had in the regiment. His troop was on detached duty at Williamsburg and went out on a scout from there a few days ago when he was shot. I have not yet heard the particulars. He was the only Christian officer we had in the regiment. The men all loved and respected him but none loved him more than our chaplain whom he was with.

 


 

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