This letter was written by Andrew “Jackson” Cornelius (1840-1867), the son William E. Cornelius (b. 1808) and Elizabeth Walters (b. 1818) of Lewisburg, Union county, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his sister, Mary E. Cornelius (1839-1920, who became the wife of Joseph H. Pardoe (1842-1923) in May 1866.
In October 1861, Jackson Cornelius enlisted as a private in Co. D, 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry. He reenlisted and served until July 1865 before mustering out of the regiment. Jackson died less than two years after leaving the service.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Michael Passero and is published by express consent.]
Hilton Head Island
February 13th 1863
I shall improve the present opportunity by informing you of my present situation and how I have been getting along since I last heard from you.
At present I am well and enjoying myself first rate. We are encamped at present in quite a pleasant place—Hilton Head Island—but do not know how long we will stay here. There is a great many troops stationed here and probably will attack Charleston before long.
We had quite a pleasant time coming here from Yorktown. Since we left Beaufort, North Carolina, we have been aboard the steamer 23 days and you can suppose we were glad to get ashore.
I saw Chas. McGregor’s son and James Pross. They look well and live fine for soldiers. If it was not for the hot weather, they say they would like it better.
On this island, most everything in the shape of game and fruit—oranges are plenty—alligators are plenty. Some of the boys captured one the other day seven feet, 2 inches long. Snakes are in abundance and the next 3 or 4 days of hot weather and they will be twice the no. that at present infest the soil.
The weather is hot here for the month of February. I can go all day in my shirt sleeves and sweat at the same time. Queer country this. The nights are cool and very heavy dews fall.
You can not expect a very long letter from me this time but shall write more next time. I think it is pretty near time I had a letter from you. I have not heard from home [since] we left Yorktown and would like to hear from you very much. We might leave here soon and go North again as there is such report is current among the boys. I wish we would. I would like it better here if they would allow us to go and hunt game but no such things are allowed. Some of the boys in the 9th New Jersey Regt. routed a lot of darkies and since then we are not allowed to go outside of camp without a pass. But I must close and hope you will write soon and I remain your affectionate brother, — A. J. Cornelius
Direct your letter to Co. D, 52nd Regt. P. V., Naglee’s Division, Port Royal, S. C.
Via New York