This letter was written by Ira Brown (1846-1911) of Almond, New York, who received a $1,000 bonus to enlist in mid-September 1864 at Phelps to serve one year in Co. B, 188th New York State Volunteers. Ira mustered out with the regiment in July 1865. Though undated, this letter from City Point, Virginia, was probably written in early November 1864.
Addressed to Mrs. E. Ida Brown, Almond, New York
Camp near City Point
Two weeks ago this morning I left home but little did I think that by this time I should be encamped on Virginia soil. When we landed, you ought to have seen the mules & niggers that come down to the landing after hay—6 mules to each wagon & a nigger to drive. They drove them with one line. We marched along up to this place and all along the way it was quite a sight to see the horses & mules, niggers, baggage wagons, pontoon bridges, tents & soldiers &c.
We struck our tents on a very nice piece of ground. The weather is warm & pleasant here now. The roads are as dry & dusty as they are there in July. They are throwing up earthworks in front of us, our lieutenant says, twenty miles in length, They are as far as I can see. We are ordered out this afternoon to work on them, I have been ordered out twice since I commenced writing this letter—once to get wood to cook with & once to clean a way in front of our tents. We are 20 miles from Petersburg by railroad. It is not as far by land. We can hear the cannon roar every little while from that point.
We have got a very good tent to stay in. Charley, Wesley Allen ¹ & myself tent together. We fixed it up as good as we could & went & got a lot of pine boughs for our bed. They make a very good one. But I must stop writing a few minutes to go & draw my rations.
I have got done eating dinner & will finish writing now. We had for dinner beed & beef broth for breakfast. This morning we had a cup of coffee & for supper last night we had a cup of coffee & a loaf of good bread. For dinner yesterday we had five hardtack so you see what we have to live on. I think I shall get fat on that.
I have not heard from home since I left there. I presume you have written a number of letters but I have been moving around so much that I have not received them. I want to hear from home so bad, I don’t know what to do. You must write as soon as you receive this letter & tell me all the news. (I have just drew five more hardtack for dinner today.)
I don’t know as I think of any more news to write at present. When you write, write as long a letter as I have this time. Let our folks read this letter or tell them what is in it if you wish. Good day & believe me to remain your own, — Ira
P. S. When you write, direct to the 188th Regt. NYSV, Washington DC, Care of Lieut. Jones. Please forward.
¹ Wesley Allen, b. Feb 13, 1842, W. Almond, NY. Parents – Wessen ALLEN and Sally Ann STEWART. He was a Private in the 188th regiment, Co. B, and enlisted in Victor, Ontario, on September 15, 1864 for 1 year. He enlisted in Ontario County, Bounty $1000, Discharged on July 13, 1865. Single, farmer.