Tuesday, 1864 August 16; Wednesday, August 17 and Thursday, August 18 [City Point, Virginia]: “Hard work carrying Lumber up the Hill”

[Pocket diary of David Probert, a New Jersey civilian employed as a carpenter by the United States Military Railroads during the siege of Petersburg, Virginia]

[Page heading] August, TUESDAY, 16, 1864.
Hot in the morning, [unintelligible]
am finished the Cook Shanty
by Noon in the afternoon.
Went to work on making
Counters. Toward evening
got Colder. Firing going
on at the front.

[Section heading] August, WEDNESDAY, 17, 1864.
I [felt] very well go to work
to Build a Post Office up
on the Hill hard work carrying
Lumber up the Hill. Towards
Evening got a regular thunder
Shower got rather wet
went home bed all wet;
firing to Night.

[Section heading] August, THURSDAY, 18, 1864.
Up in the morning felt
very well to work to day
[unintelligible] on the Post Office
[unintelligible] weather Rather wet
heavy Showers. 4
Mortars brought up from
the Rebs.

[Editor: The small size of many Civil War-era pocket diaries only allowed brief daily entries, usually about two or three concise sentences. David Probert (1836?--?) resided in Jersey City and Patterson, New Jersey. A January 1864 enrollment certificate described him as 27 years old, dark eyes, dark hair, dark complexion, five and a half feet tall, and a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey. He was employed in Tennessee by the Quartermaster Department of the District of Nashville as a carpenter from January 31 to April 1, 1864. He received an honorable discharge and eventually was hired by the Bridge Department of the United States Military Railroads in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 4, 1864 at the rate of $2.40 per day. During the period of this diary Probert was employed primarily at Alexandria and City Point, Virginia. Following an accidental leg injury on May 18, 1864, he resigned in October 1864 to return to his home for recuperation. On November 21, 1864 he was hired by the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company.]

MSS 10776

Sunday, 1864 July 31, [Headquarters Camp William Penn, Chelton Hills, Virginia]: “We, the undersigned . . . Musicians . . . acknowledged to have received . . . several articles of Clothing”

[Record of clothing and equipment, and their monetary value, issued to sixteen African-American soldiers of an United Stated Colored Troops brigade band]

[Form] No. 52. We, the undersigned . . . Musicians of Brigade Band No. 2 U. S. C. T, do hereby acknowledge to have received of George E. Wagner, Captain, 8th U. S. C. T., Post Adjutant, the several articles of Clothing set opposite our respective names.

Joseph Costley [Band Leader], 2 items, $9.50
Joshua Jones [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
Moses Bolden [Musician First Class], 2 items,$9.50
Thomas J. Simmons [Musician Third Class], 3 items, $10.40
William Jones [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
James Aaron [Musician Second Class], 3 items, $11.55
James M. Loney/Louey [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
William Cole [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
John C. O’Brien [rank unknown], 2 items, $9.50
James R. Ray [Musician First Class], 2 items, $9.50
William Ludlow [Musician Second Class], 2 items, $9.50
Theophilus McCall [Musician Second Class], 2 items, $9.50
John L. Peck [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
John Randolph [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $4.55
John Morris [Musician Third Class], 2 items, $9.50
Jonathan Grobes [Musician Third Class], 12 items, $24.93
[Total: 44 items issued, $165.43]

[Editor: Lieutenant Colonel George Emil Wagner (1842-1904) of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, served as an officer of the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry and later the 8th and 9th regiments of United States Colored Troops. Form 52 required an enumerated statement of soldiers’ clothing allowances during their enlistments; throughout a five-year period each was to be issued a predetermined number of hats (5), forage caps (5), uniform coats/jackets (5), blue flannel sack coats (10), trousers (13), flannel shirts (15) and drawers (11), pairs of bootees (20), pairs of stockings (20), leather stockings (2), great coat (1), stable frock (2), fatigue overalls (5), blankets (2). Most of these African-American band members were privates and signed their names with the exception of James Aaron, who signed with his ‘X’ mark.]

MSS 11174

Wednesday, 1864 June 29, Gauley Bridge [Fayette County], West Virginia: “Men and horses dropped dead from fatigue and hunger”

[A Union cavalryman’s letter  to his sister during 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaigns]

Camp near Gauley Bridge
June 29, 1864
Dear Sister Ada
Once again we have got
“insidie” our lines, and I will write you
an answer to your letter of May 27th which
I received before we left Staunton.
I have been very well since there & have so
much to write about that I don’t know
where to commence
It is just 2 months since we left Frederick
Md [Maryland] and we have had two months as hard
soldiering as I want to see.
My last letter home was from Staunton
from there we crossed the mountain
captured a rebel wagon train destroyed the
rail road marched within 10 or 12 miles of Lynchburg
and over the mountains again to Lexington
(our route east of the mountains was through the counties of
Nelson & Amherst.)
From there we went to [Buchanan] on
the James River on the route we passed
within 2 miles of the “Natural Bridge”

[page 2]
but didn’t get to see it as it was after
night when we passed it. Buchanan is in Roanoke County
from there we went to Liberty in Bedford County our route
was between the “Peaks of Otter” through
Peaks Gap from there we went nearly to Lynchburg the second city of Va
so near that we could see the city plainly.
Our Division Genl Dufie’s [Alfred N. Duffié (1833–1880)] were
on the left of our line of battle but didnt
suffer much. There was a strong earth
work in our front and we were dismounted
to storm it but for some reason didnt
try it. One man in our Company was
dangerously wounded by a shell. It was RN
Gibson [Richard N. Gilson] of Toms Creek he was left in
the rear when we left as we had no
ambulance with us. We also lost 3 horses.
From Lynchburg we fell back through Liberty, Salem[,] Sweet Springs, White
Sulphur Springs[,] Lewisburg & Meadow
Bluff to this place. We are now
about 30 or 35 miles from Charleston.
I hope I shall never see another such
march. 14[?] miles or more of this route

[page 3]
was through the Alleghany Mts
the road was tolerably good but,
tired & hungry we had to keep jogging
along for about 8 days and nights
we didnt unsaddle our horses and
only stopped occasionally to rest & graze
our horses. Men and horses dropped
dead from fatigue and hunger.
Our route was strewn with wagons
and horses I hope I shall never see the
like again. Day before yesterday we
received rations and the men are all
in good spirits again. Our detachment
being mounted didnt suffer much
as we had a chance to forage.
We expect to go to Charleston [West Virginia]
tomorrow but dont know what the program then will be.
We have had plenty of skirmishes
and cavalry fights but I have
passed through all safely.
The trip has been a hard one but
after resting a day or two we will
be all right.

[page 4]
(Your sheet of paper just suits)

I would like to write more
but it is getting dark I could
tell of the many romantic spots
we have seen but will have to
defer it. I will write again in
a day or two.
Give my love to all inquiring
friends. With love to all I
remain Your loving brother
Oscar.
Oscar McMillan
Army of West Va

[postscript]
June 30th. As I didn’t get my letter started
I will finish now this morning we crossed
[Gauley] River and we are now camped
at Loop Creek Landing on the Roanoke
River a few miles below the Falls of the
Kanawha [Kanawha Falls]. I think we will remain here
for a few days to rest and recruit our
horses when it is likely we will be
sent to Martinsburg Va., Clarksburg.
Write me a letter direct to 1st Cavalry
Brigade 1st Cavalry Division Army of West Virginia (Co “C” 2d MD [Maryland] Cavalry[ ) ]
With love to all I remain Oscar

[Editor: According this collection’s finding aid, “Oscar D. McMillan was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1838 and served four years in the Civil War as a Private and 1st Lieutenant in Cole’s Cavalry Company (Company C, 1st Regiment Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry Maryland). His company participated in the Union Army of the United States Shenandoah Valley Campaign. He also served in Company E, 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. His letters reveal that he was a model soldier, brother and son. . . . Oscar McMillan died of a cerebral embolism in 1919 after being happily married for 46 years and a farmer in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.” A “Private Richard N. Gilson,” Company C, Coles Cavalry, First Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade Company, enlisted August 27, 1863 and died of wounds received in action, August 3, 1864. The Peaks of Otter are three mountains overlooking Bedford, Virginia, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.]

MSS 15284

Tuesday, 1864 May 3, Albemarle County, Virginia: “I am very scarce of meat”

[Letter to a planter from a widow hoping to buy a cow as food for her family; an example of increasing civilian hardships on the Confederate home front]

Morea, near University [University of Virginia, Charlottesville]
Genl. Cocke:
I am exceedingly anxious to purchase
a fresh cow & knowing that my friend &
neighbor Dr. McGuffy has a very fine one
he purchased of you, I thought it probable
you might have another to dispose of—if
you have it will be a great accommodation
to me to let me have it as I am very scarce
of meat & a good cow would supply the
want of meat to my family.
Please let me hear from you & know
your price.
Very [Respectfully]
Mary J. Smith
Direct to Mrs. Mary Jane Smith
University of Va.

[reverse]
Smith, Mrs. Mary Jane
Rec’d May 10th
Ans’d 11th 1864

[Editor: John Hartwell Cocke (1780–1866) of Fluvanna County, a Virginia militia brigadier general during the War of 1812. Cocke’s reply to Smith is not present in his papers. William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, 1845 until his death, and author of the McGuffey Readers, one of America first and perhaps most successful textbooks series; revised editions are still in print. Morea, a large brick structure at the time  located west of the University, built during the 1830s by John Patten Emmet (1796-1842), a professor of natural history, chemistry and material medica who sold it during the 1840s to a member of Duke family, a prominent local and Virginia family. It served as the residence of Mary Jane Duke Smith [Mary Jane Clark Duke, born Albemarle County, Virginia, March 15, 1811--July 19, 1891] and other Duke family members during the Civil War. Mary was the widow of William Willoughby T. Smith (?-July 15, 1845), first U. S. Consul to the Republic of Texas until his drowning death there in 1845. Today Morea House is owned by the University and used for meetings and other events. Its name is from the Latin morus,for the mulberry trees Professor Emmet planted for the silkworms he raised (University of Virginia online map “Morea,” http://www.virginia.edu/webmap/popPages/185-morea.html). The “University/University of Virginia” was an independent post office address until the early twentieth century and located one mile west of the town of Charlottesville.]

MSS 640

Sunday, 1864 April 24, Otisville, Genesee County, Michigan: “Now about buying a horse . . . Never buy & furnish anything that the U. S. furnishes”

[Letter of a Michigan civilian who advises his cavalryman brother against purchasing his own horse for military service]

Otisville, April 24, 1864
Genesee County, Michigan

Bro. Alf:
I now will try
to [unintelligible word] this Sunday morning in writing to
you in answer to yours of the 14th which I
rec’d Thursday. We are all usually well
but Eliza, she has the sore throat, in about one
hour from the time it commenced it was cankered.
I am in hopes that by having [unintelligible word] attend to it all
the while it will not be anything very serious
but there is no telling which may end I trust
I trust that the next letter I write to you I can say She
is entirely recovered. We have at last finished
Sugaring we finished yesterday & gathered the buckets [of]
molasses & about 4 barrels of vinegar. I wish you
could have a chunk of cake sugar to rub on
your hardtack &[two faded words] your sowbelly pork
[teats?] & all. I have heard from the 7th Cavalry [7th Michigan Cavalry]
week ago Thursday I got a letter from Ben Bidwell

[page 2]
& Thursday one from William Van Voorheis. I find
Co. C lost 3 men All of them good boys they think
that they were taken prisoners. They will have
a hard time of it I am afraid. Now about
buying a horse, I shall give you my advice & you
can follow it or not. Never buy & furnish anything that
the U. S. furnishes. Don’t buy a horse. You will, tis’ true,
draw $12 per month for him & pay for him if
killed but if he plays out on a march or dies
of disease you will lose him. Someone has
been stiffing you because you are green &
they had a horse to sell. Another thing I
don’t believe that a private horse will stand
any more than a Government horse (unless he’s a
better one.) And no private horse gets any better
fare or usage than any man will give a Gov’t
horse, for they can’t draw any more rations
for one than the other & if he is half a man
he will tend a Gov’t horse as well as if it was

[page 3]
his own for his horse & saber are the
main things he depends upon & if he don’t
take care of his horse, when he gets into a
tight place his horse won’t take care of him.
Again, draw you a good horse & take good
care of him before long you may go into battle
& get the chance to pick up a good horse without
the U. S. brand on him if he is as good or better
than your horse swap & get him mustered in
as your horse the next muster day & you will
draw your pay & he will cost you nothing. If you
buy a horse & are taken sick & sent to the
hospital & may be to Washington some one
will take your horse & perhaps use him
up in a few days [and] not take half care of him
& so you will lose him.
A circular in this [Editor: Item missing.] from my [New York] woman she
gives an extra album & [unintelligible word] for every club
of five if you conclude to act as agent send
five dollars & get you an album & [unintelligible word]

[page 4]
to show & if you get a club of five get
the sixth man & keep his five dollars &
send the sixth one to him. I expected to get a $15.00
watch by paying one dollar extra I draw a $14.00
chain. Save your money & send it
to me & have it taken care of so if you
have the bad luck to come home with a leg or
arm off you will have something to help
yourself with. Eliza  & I got a letter from
Sarah Thursday she was well—
Esther L  ?  is Sick I don’t know
what ails her I have written about
enough for [unintelligible word] time so
I [guess] I will [here] [unintelligible word]
[2 unintelligible words] but do not
[2 unintelligible words] to [believe any?]
[2 badly faded and unintelligible lines]
[3 unintelligible words] your
brother John

[Editor: This letter is badly faded in many areas, especially on page 4. Confederate soldiers furnished their own horses but the Union government provided them for its soldiers. The 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, which served 1862-1865, was among the cavalry regiments of the Michigan Brigade commanded by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876). According to the online Michigan Civil War Soldiers Index, William Van Voorheis and Benjamin Bidwell were members of Company C, 7th Michigan Cavalry.]

MSS 10905

Thursday, 1864 March 24, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia [later West Virginia]: “Said he expected they would hang him”

[Diary entry of an identified Union army military chaplain’s (?) visit with an accused wife murderer]

Martinsburg, Va. March 24, 1864
On Provost guard in Martinsburg
today made a visit to the room
in which Mr. Joseph  M. [Linciana?]
who murdered his
wife in Martinsburg was confined.
He seemed to be in much trouble
at times especially about his children
(4 in number). Said he expected
they would hang him, and that
he imagined strange things and saw
strange sights. Said his wife had
a secret in her heart which she would
not reveal to him, and that she had
frequently asked him to get her some
medicine which she wanted to kill her
child with which was then unborn.
Said that the plot she had in progress
would result in his death.
He spent a considerable time in prayer
to God expressed hopes of entering Heaven

[page 2: “March 24th” continued]
but he read from the bible and talked
sometime. Prayer was offered by a member.
Did not take an active part in
the meeting, although I felt it my
duty. O Lord I hope this man fearing
spirit still hangs about me. It seems
almost an impossibility for me to
cast it off. For my wicked heart
cherishes this evil spirit, which I
feel incompetent to cast off without
Thy assistance and for thy all sufficient
assistance I humbly pray.
I feel O Lord, that Thou art ever true
to Thy promises and that Thou will
grant the requests of all those that pray
believing, but I have a wicked [heart]
that is fit only fit for the [service?] of the
devil which I humbly ask Thee to take
from me and give me one free from
guile so that I can pray believing; with
[unintelligible word] the spirit I should. O Lord hear my
prayer and according to Thy word give
me a new heart. Amen.

[Editor: West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a state on June 20, 1863. Other materials in  this manuscript collection suggests this unidentified Union soldier as possibly a member of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry and/or the United States Christian Commission, a Protestant organization that provided medical services and religious literature to Union troops.]

MSS 5535

Tuesday, 1864 February 16, Stony Mountain, Virginia: “I have found out lately that I will not get out of service as soon as I expected”

[A Pennsylvania soldier stationed in Virginia writes to his mother]

Signal Station, Stony Mountain [Virginia]
Feb. 16th 1864
Dear Mother
I have received your
welcome letter of the 12th instant & also the
one before—this evening—as one of
the fellows was in camp today & got the
mail, & I hasten to reply as I have
time—and probably I will not have
so much leisure time for some
while to come. [Editor: The term “instant” is an adjective for ‘of the current month.’]
We reached here last Tuesday evening
& proceeded immediately to establish
a Station & have been busy
ever since building up our quarters,
stables & fixing up the Station,
besides station duty & guard duty
at night.
Saturday was the first day that we
were not busy working, we had a
quite a snow storm but today was

[page 2]
so mild that there is scarcely any
snow now to be seen.
As we have all the extra work done,
main duty now will be station
watch in the daytime & guard
duty at night.
This mountain is nothing more
than a large hill, it is about
six miles from Brandy Station in a
south easterly direction & a mile &
a half from the Rapidan [River].
We can plainly distinguish the Reb
pickets on the other side of the river
with the naked eye.
This station is what we call a
station of observation being on
the extreme outpost of our lines
nothing but cavalry pickets outside
of us, & it is our business to keep a
strict [watch] on the rebels, & report any little
change that we may see.
We live a great deal better than I

[page 3]
used to do in the regiment. We have
a chance to draw full amount of
rations, all the little ‘Extras,” & then
we have more cooking utensils for
we can get them hauled. Our party
(each station has one) have a wagon
& of course we make out to always have
a load, why when we were moved out
here from camp we got an extra
wagon & hauled all the material
that we had in our house except
the chimney.
In one [of] your letters you spoke about
the shirt which you sent me. I thought
that I had wrote that I had
received it all right, it was my
intention to have done so, but I
suppose forgot it.—It fits very well
& appears to wear equally as well.
I have found out lately that I
will not get out of service as soon
as I expected—not until the
26th of next July which will be

[page 4]
two months over my three years.
I was very foolish not to have thought
more about this when I had my
descriptive list made out. I could
as easy as not went out on June
4th as go out when I do.
I received a letter from Will Hammond [Sergeant William B. Hammond]
week before last he said the
regiment [30th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry] could be held until the
26th July.
I must close this hasty written
letter as it is time for me to go
on guard.
Give my love [to] Father, [Jennie?] Uncle &
Aunt & all inquiring friends &
I remain as ever your [affectionate]
Son
[signed] John E. Gillespie

[Editor: John Eves Gillespie (September 3, 1842-June 29, 1872) to his mother Eliza Jane Gillespie (1813-1878) [Mrs. Franklin Gillespie; Franklin Gillespie (1805-1877)] of New London, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This letter is accompanied by an envelope postmarked “February 20, Washington, D. C.” The 30th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Infantry) was organized at West Chester, Pennsylvania, in June 1861 as the 1st Regiment Reserves Infantry, later designated the 30th Pennsylvania, and mustered out in June 1864. John Gillespie was mustered in as a private in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania, June 1861, promoted to corporal on January 5, 1863, and transferred to the Army of the Potomac’s Signal Corps, November 3, 1863. After the war he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical Department and became a doctor and U.S. Navy assistant surgeon. William B. Hammond enlisted in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania Infantry, June 1861, was promoted to sergeant, October 1861, and mustered out with his company in June 1864. According to one online source, Stony Mountain is in the Madison County, Virginia, section of Shenandoah National Park.]

MSS 15500, 15500-A

Friday, 1864 January 8, New Kent County, Virginia: “Slave Ephraim . . . died . . . on the Coast of South Carolina . . . and worth thirteen hundred dollars”

[Deposition on the loss of a male slave who died while a conscripted laborer at South Carolina fortifications for the Confederate Army.]

State of Virginia
New Kent County, to Wit:
I, A. K. Tribble being duly
sworn before a Justice of the Peace in fore said State
and County Certify that I am well acquainted
with James B. Floyd of Newberry District South
Carolina, And that the said J. B. Floyd was the
owner of a Negro Slave named Ephraim and
that the said J. B. Floyd sent the said Slave
Ephraim to the Coast of South Carolina on
the 10th day of September 1862 under order
from the Governor of said State to work on the
public fortifications, that I took charge of said
Slave Ephraim with others, and had him under
my charge from the time he left home until
he died, To Wit, from the 10th day of September
to the 8th day of October 1862 and that he
died in the Service of the Confederate Government
on the Coast of South Carolina, that said Slave
Ephraim was placed under the care of Doctor
Wrag for Medical treatment but died
from the disease then and there contracted
and that the said Slave Ephraim was about
twenty three years old sound and healthy and worth
thirteen hundred dollars at the time he was impressed
and that the impressment was for one month
and the said Slave Ephraim was first under
[Lipscomb?] agent for the State aforesaid.
[signed] A. K. Tribble

State of Virginia
New Kent County, To Wit:
This day personally appeared
before me, E. C. Pollard a Justice of the Peace
in and for said State and County, A. K. Tribble
and made Oath in due form of Law that the
above Certificate is true and correct in every
particular[.] Given under my hand this the
8th day of January 1864. [signed] E. C. Pollard J. P. [Justice of the Peace]

State of Virginia New Kent County, To wit,
I, John D. Christian, Clerk of the Court of the County aforesaid in the
State of Virginia do certify that E. C. Pollard who has signed the foregoing
certificate of attestation is and was at the time of signing the same a Justice
of the Peace for the said County duly commissioned and admitted to said office
under the laws & Constitution of the said State and that his said signature
is genuine and that full faith and credit ought to be given to his
[reverse]
[aforesaid?] acts.
In testimony thereof I have hereunto set my hand (and would have
annexed the Seal of my office if the Seal of the Office had not have
been taken away by the enemy in their raid through the
County) this 12th day of January 1864.
[signed] John D. Christian Clerk
Newberry
Ex Parte     Deposition
shewing
loss of Slave
“Ephraim”
&
James B. Floyd [Assessor?]
Filed 24th May 1864

[Editor: The cause of death for Ephraim, a male South Carolina slave (ca. 1839-1862), is unknown. Thousands of slaves and free blacks were forced/impressed to work as ill-treated military laborers for the Confederate Army. New Kent County is one of Virginia’s “Burned Counties”; its court records were destroyed in a county courthouse fire during July 1787 and records created after that date were lost in during an 1865 Richmond fire where they had been moved for safety. John Christian’s reference to a Union raid in the county could refer one of four: a May 1, 1862 skirmish; a June 23, 1862 operation; an August 25-29, 1863 expedition, and a November 9, 1863 expedition. The August 30, 1863 report of Colonel Benjamin F. Onderdonk, First New York Mounted Rifles, indicated his force had encamped at “New Kent Court-House” during August 27,1863; perhaps this is when the county clerk’s seal was stolen. In American law, ex parte is a legal proceeding brought by one person in the absence of and without representation or notification of other parties.]

MSS 12491

Wednesday, 1863 December 16, Hanover Junction, Virginia: “Invoice of . . . the property of Private E. G. Carter . . . who died in Hanover Junction Hospital”

[Confederate hospital record of a deceased soldier-patient’s belongings]

Invoice of Clothing the property of Private E. G. Carter, Co. H, 21st
[Regiment, North Carolina] Infantry who died in Hanover Junction Hospital, December 14, 1863, of this day turned over to Capt. T. Hunter Jr. [Assistant Quartermaster] by Surgeon
Samuel H. Moffett

1 [Pair] Shoes 4.00
2 [Pairs] Socks @$1.50, 3.00
2 Two [Pairs] Drawers @$2.00, 4.00
1 One [Pair] Pants 10.00
1 One Jacket, 13.25
1 One Shirt, 1.25
1 [unintelligible], 2.00 [total] $38.50

Hanover Junction, Va.
Dec. 16, 1863

Invoice of Money belonging to Private E. G. Carter, Co. H,
21s [Regiment, North Carolina] Infantry who died in Hanover Junction Hospital,
December 14, 1863, of this day turned over to Capt. T. Hunter Jr. [Assistant Quartermaster] by Surgeon Samuel H. Moffett

$1.00 One Dollar in Specie
$55 Fifty-five Dollars in Confederate Notes

Hanover Junction, Va.
Dec. 16, 1863

[Editor: According to the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XV, 1887, Moffett was paroled with the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.]

MSS 1159

Thursday, 1863 November 19, Norfolk, Virginia: “I have not applied for any permit to bring my wife here but shall try to do it by stratagem . . . I do not wish to appear before the War Dept. in the character of an idler and sybarite”

[A Union general writes from an occupied Confederate Virginia city about his efforts to obtain leave and the recruitment of African-American soldiers.]

Norfolk, Va.
Thursday Nov. 19 [1863]
My Dear Kinsley,
Good and faithful servant!
I would be very glad indeed to see you in Philadelphia–But
can’t be sure of reaching there at exactly
at any time As I do not ask leave
of absence until the last minute
and Gen. Butler [Benjamin Franklin Butler] went yesterday
down to Newberne [New Bern, North Carolina] and will be
gone a week more or less. I
may fail of reaching Phila. [Philadelphia] at all
may get no further than Baltimore
But my project is to leave here on
the 24th reach P. [Philadelphia] at noon or 2 P. M. of
the 25th–spend the 26th, and return as
soon as may be. I have not applied
for any permit to bring my wife here [Frances Ellen Sullivan Wild]
but shall try to do it by stratagem
in the way abovementioned–As
I do not wish to appear before the War Dept. in the character of an
idler and sybarite.
I do not know if you ever [received]
my thanks for your raspberry syrup. Your previous letters
[reverse page]
letters had asked me & Col. Beecher [James Chaplin Beecher]
repeatedly what we wanted—and to
let you know whatever it might be.
Well, we consulted, and found we wanted
so many things that we did
not know where to begin. And we
could not agree upon the first
thing to ask for; until the raspberry
syrup arrived, and then we
agreed at once, that that was precisely
the article we wanted first.
It reached us on Folly Island [South Carolina]
in hot weather, and I think suited
the case exactly.
Your cousin was delayed by
sickness from joining us for some time—so I have hardly met
him. We are mighty busy. I
have now the 1st U. S. Col.—the 5th U. S. Col.—the 2nd N. C. Col.—beside
the recruiting of the 3rd N. C. C. and the10th U. S. Col. here. [Editor: See below for regimental identifications.]
If you could spare 2 days longer
you could be accommodated easily at
my sister’s in Phila. [Philadelphia].This not being
official—is not appropriate to be sent to Gov. Andrew.
Yours very truly
E. A. Wild

[Editor: Brigadier General Edward Augustus Wild (1825–1891), a zealous abolitionist, organized and commanded “Wild's African Brigade” of African-American soldiers recruited in Virginia and North Carolina. Headquartered in Norfolk (which had been under Union military occupation since May 1862), the brigade was comprised of the 55th Massachusetts Infantry and the 2nd and 3rd North Carolina Colored Volunteers (later the 36th and 37th United States Colored Troops [USCT]). On the day of Wild’s letter, 270 miles away, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address.
Edward Wilkinson Kinsley (1829-1891), a wool merchant with the Boston firm of Horsell, Kinsley and French, was a special emissary of Massachusetts’s abolitionist governor John Albion Andrew (1818–1867). During the Civil War he undertook special assignments regarding the recruitment of black Massachusetts regiments. In 1863 he assisted General Wild in the recruitment of ex-slaves into “Wild’s African Brigade” comprising several regiments of the USCT. He did not wish to be seen as interfering with existing Union military leadership and therefore travelled as Wild’s servant, hence the humorous salutation of ‘good and faithful servant.’”
At the time of Wild’s letter, Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893) commanded the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. Colonel James Chaplin Beecher (1828-1886), commander of the 35th USCT, was a half-brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), and Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), a prominent abolitionist, clergyman, and social reformer. During the summer of 1863 Colonel Beecher’s regiment, then designated 1st Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), was organized at New Bern, North Carolina, and Portsmouth, Virginia, and attached to Wild’s African Brigade at Folly Island, South Carolina, to February 1864 when its designation was changed to 35th USCT. At the end of the war Colonel Beecher received the rank of brevet brigadier general for his wartime services.
Wild’s letter identifies some of the black regiments organized in or assigned to Virginia and North Carolina under his command during 1863-64: [“1st U. S. Col.”] 1st United States Colored Troops; [“5th U. S. Col.”] 5th United States Colored Troops (previously 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry); [“2nd N. C. Col.”] 2nd Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), later 36th USCT; [“3rd N. C. C.”] 3rd Regiment North Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), later 37th USCT, and, [“10th U. S. Col.”] 10th United States Colored Infantry.]

MSS 12020