This letter was written by David Edward (“Ned”) Hoxie (1839-1921) to his parents, Benjamin Barnes Hoxie (1809-1874) and Hannah Burt Edwards (1815-1889) of Northampton, Hampshire county, Massachusetts. Ned was a 22 year-old carpenter when he enlisted on 18 October 1861. He was discharged for disability on 20 March 1863 after 1 year and 5 months of service.
After David was discharged, he returned to Northampton and resumed his profession as a carpenter but by 1870 he made a living repairing watches and eventually became a jeweler.
Camp near Alexandria, Virginia
November 25th 1862
Dear Parents & Sister,
You have been looking for a line from me before this perhaps, but when I tell you you of all that has happened to me since I last wrote you, you will not wonder at the time that has elapsed since you last heard from me. I received a letter from Esther and Father last Wednesday morning in which Father said he was going to see Col. [Joseph B.] Parsons again about my discharge, &c. I was sorry it happened just as it did that I had to leave Camp Day the same afternoon that I received the letter for I had not perhaps I need not have come on at present into this camp which is anything but pleasant, but if I can get on to the regiment soon, I don’t care.
Lieut. (formerly Sergeant) [Willard I.] Bishop is here and one of our privates ([George W.] Howe), also a number—30—belonging to other companies of the 10th [Massachusetts].
I left Camp Day as I said before last Thursday afternoon, went to New York by Fall River Route from Fall River by Steamer Bay State. About 3 A. M., [we] came in collision with a schooner knocking away her bow sprit and cutwater and smashing in one wheelhouse of the Bay State and making a hole in one boiler but doing no other damage except frightening some of the passengers on board. (There was 26 soldiers besides a Lieutenant and Captain of the 21st [Massachusetts] Regiment came on with me.)
We arrived in New York about 6 A. M. and marched to the Battery Barracks where we staid until 3 P. M. the next day before we could get transportation. About noon I asked a boy if he knew where 42 Park Place was. He said yes. I gave him ten cents and a note to Uncle Sylvester. In about an hour, he came back with a note from him in which he said he would come and see me before four o’clock. He came about 3 and staid until 5. He told me that Henry Bates had been in to see him since he received my note and the 52d [Massachusetts] ¹ were at the City Hall.
About 6 o’clock, the Captain came in and said we would not go on until ten the next day so I started off for the City Hall. Arrived there, went in and inquired of some ladies there where the 52nd Massachusetts were. They said they had gone to Franklin Street Barracks. I turned to go out when a man came in and enquired for them. I turned around to see if I knew him but did not. He wanted to know if I belonged to that regiment. I told him I belonged to the 10th. He asked where I was from and said he came from Northampton too. His name was Janes. Uncle Sylvester said he knew him. Did you? His father was Nat. Janes.
Well we went on to Franklin Street and found the boys all right and enjoying themselves. Fonny was writing a letter. Gere was drinking coffee when I went in and appeared to feel pretty well notwithstanding he lost the quartermaster’s berth. The East & West Hampton boys were somewhat surprised to see me but I was more surprised to hear of [George S.] Bliss as Captain [of Co. G] ² but I was glad he did get a commission. I made the 52nd boys quite a visit, then went back to the Battery Barracks again. It was about nine when I got back but I took it into my head to go over to Brooklyn.
You know, Mother, the Howard Avenue Ferry is near Castle Garden. I had never been over but I inquired my way along and at last found the right place. Willie was at home; the rest were out but came home soon. I staid over night and went over to New York with Willie. We started for Philadelphia about 3 P. M. Arrived there about 7 P. M. Took supper there at the Volunteer Refreshment Rooms and staid until 3 A. M when we started for Baltimore. Arrived there about nine Sunday morning where we had to stay until nine Monday morning. In the evening I went over to Mr. Clarke’s and saw Carrie and Julia.
We came on from Baltimore in a freight train and were until 4 o’clock P. M. coming to Washington (40 miles).
We came over to Alexandria yesterday morning and are now in the Convalescent Camp a little way out from Alexandria on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. There are men here from nearly every regiment in the U. S. Service.
I hope to get off soon but may not go for two months and may go in two days. If you have any news to write or if not, you may write. If you have seen Col. Parsons or the Doctor and have sent a letter to Cambridge, it will go to the regiment. If you write, direct to D. E. Hoxie, Co. C, 10th Massachusetts Vol., Post Hospital near Alexandria, Va.
I have no more news to write so will quit for this time. Please write soon. Your affectionate son & brother, — Ned
¹ The 52nd Massachusetts Infantry was recruited in August 1862 and were mustered into the service in mid October. They proceeded to New York City in mid-November and set sail for Louisiana aboard the steamer Illinois on 2 December 1862—just days after this letter was written.
² Capt. George S. Bliss was mortally wounded in the fighting at Port Hudson in June 1863. He was shot through the lungs and suffered a painful death. The regimental history by J. F. Moors called him a “handsome, promising fellow and a first-rate soldier.” [Page 178] He had formally been a member of Co. C, 10th Massachusetts.