This letter was written by Sgt. Andrew J. Allen (1832-1863) of the 94th New York Volunteers. Andrew was the son of Hosea Allen (1810-1891) and Eliza Ann [ ] (1811-Aft1880) of Ellisburg, Jefferson county, New York. Hosea was a farmer and previously lived in Annsville, Oneida county, where their children were born. In the 1860 US Census, Andrew was employed as a common laborer and enumerated as the head of a household with his wife, Celia (two years his senior) and his two children, Lilly (age 7 in 1860), and Chester (age 3 in 1860).
Andrew was mustered into Co. C, 94th N. Y. V. on 9 August 1861. He wrote this letter to his parents from an army hospital at an unnamed location, informing them that if he was not paid and released to go home soon, he would desert. Military records indicate he did desert in August 1862. Further research reveals that he died on 31 May 1863 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Henderson, Jefferson county, New York. I have not learned the cause of his death nor have an explanation as to why he was buried there.
[Unnamed Army Hospital]
Saturday, June the 28th 1862
Dear father and mother,
I take my pen in hand to let you know how I get along. I feel some better than I did when I wrote to you last but I am not well yet. I received a letter from you last night a saying that you was well which I was glad to hear. When I feel lonely, it does me good to hear from home and wish I was there. If I ever get my pay and know enough, I shall get out of it if I have to run away. If I stay here all summer, I don’t believe that there will be anything but a shadow.
I was in hopes that they would do something for me this week. I heard that they said I could go if I wanted to but I see that the thing is changed. I have been sick so much that I have but little care about anything but to get home. I can’t eat their food nor drink their coffee so you may know that I am poor. I buy some of these ginger cakes to the sutlers to eat once in awhile. I can’t stand it and I won’t. If I should run away there is some that would talk, but I could stand all this better than to live here sick. They don’t care no more for a man than we do for a hog. If a man dies, all right, they will dig a hole and throw him and cover him up and that is all that is done—not so much as a prayer or a verse sung. They won’t send a man home if he has got ever so many friends.
I shall leave here when I get my pay and I can’t tell where I shall stop. I want you to write to me as soon as you get this. I will quit this subject for this time and think of something else. William is well and he says he will be there if he lives to help you in haying if he gets his pay and I guess he will if he don’t get killed and he will look sharp. He wants to come home the worst of any boy you ever saw and he will leave just as sure as he gets his money. All the boys that came from there are the home sickest chaps you can imagine. I wish you could hear them talk and whine.
You wrote that Celia bothered you and throws the things in the road that you get for her. I am sorry that she acts so foolish. If it was not for the children, I should never see her face. I would go somewhere that I might take some comfort. She writes to me every week and she says nothing but what everything goes right—only she slurs a little once in awhile—nothing of any account. She says that Chetty runs away and goes to Grandpa’s and you won’t make him go home and she has to go after him. If she lets him stay until he gets ready, he will come home himself and be contented for awhile. I want you to write whether she went and took those clothes that she throwed in the road and fixed them for Chet or what she done with them.
I am tired and I will close by bidding you goodbye. Write as soon as you get this for we may [know] more in the course of eight or nine days. Direct your letter as before. Goodbye for this time.
From A. Allen
To Hosea and Elizabeth