Design a site like this with
Get started

Chapman, 14 July 1865

Chesapeake Hospital, Ward 1
July 14th 1865

Dear Wife,

I have some good news for you, and I hope that it will prove true. If it does, I shall be at home before winter for the news is that the whole of the army of the Potomac is to be mustered out except Hancock Corps. But I think that I shall stay for if I have been put on General Detail here, I shall have to stay till this hospital is broke up. They are paying off the veteran regiments around Richmond but I don’t know when they will pay us—that is, in the hospitals. I am sick tonight so I won’t write much more, And I am tired too for I have had to take an inventory of all of the clothing and furniture in the ward and it has taken me a whole day to do it. I have got charge of fourteen rooms and I had to go through them all over seventy five different times so I am sick and tired.

I received your kind letter of the 28th of June and i was very glad to hear from you. And I am happy to hear that you are getting well. I have no hopes of getting paid off soon but if I do, I shall try for a furlough for if I don’t, I don’t think that I shall see home for a year for if our Colonel can keep me, he will and if he don’t, they have got me fast for I am in detail. But if they don’t pay me soon, I shall make a fuss about it for I need some money to get shaved with, and some tobacco, and postage stamps, and I want some for my pet most of all. And besides all that, I want to get home on a furlough and I can’t do it till I get money.

Image 2 - Prison Life
Jeff Davis imprisoned at Fortress Monroe in July 1865

We have got a fine little fellow for General Wardmaster. He is one of the many friends I made at the Point of Rocks and I like him very much. The band is playing Yankee Doodle to Jeff Davis at Fort Monroe. I don’t believe that he likes it much there.

I won’t write anymore tonight for there is no news for me to write any more tonight. Good night my pet.

Saturday, July 15th 1865 — Dear pet, I will now finish this hoping it will find you well for I believe that I am a going to be sick again for I have not felt well for the last two days. U had some hopes of getting home this summer but I have lost all hopes. And I believe that you will see another winter and another spring before you see me. But never mind while I am on pay here. I am not at work hard so a furlough will be as good to me as a discharge for if I get discharged, I will not stay at home in it so long as I could on a furlough for I should have to be away off to work somewhere. But if I keep on in this way, you may think that I am a going to have a furlough soon. But I am not a going to have one unless I get paid off and I have no hopes of that for we men in hospitals will be the last that will get paid off if we get paid at all. But I hope that we shall for I look and feel bad both for I have not been shaved for three weeks nor have I had my hair cut for six months and over so you can’t blame me for wanting money. And I know that you are in need of it more than I am and that is the worst of my trouble for I should not care so much if you only had all that you want. These doctors could have me paid off if they had a mind to but they won’t trouble themselves at all for if they want any money, they can go to Washington and get it and we poor devils have got to wait for the Paymaster to pay us and they will take their own time for it [does] not matter how much we may need it. If I ever get out of this army, they can laugh if they ever get me into it again for I would not do anything for the country if I could save it from sinking for they are using us veterans mean by keeping us. And if they get another man to enlist in another war, they will do well. They don’t think of that when they keep us after our time is out for our time is out for we enlisted for three years or during the war and the war is over. So our time is out and they have no right to keep us another day.

They owe me by rights over three hundred dollars and if I could only get hold of it, I would desert if I had to leave the country forever and never see one of my friends again. I wish pet that you would write to me more than what you do for if you only knew how I watch for the mail every morning in hopes of hearing from you, you would write often. I think sometimes that you have forgotten me for I wait and wait day after day for a letter and then don’t get any. I have only got two of your letters since you began to number them. The last of them was written on the 28th of last month. If you can’t find anything else to write about, tell me what kind of a house you live in and how many rats there is in it and how many cats you have got to catch them We have got rats a mile long and the house is full of fleas. There is so many fleas that they are worse than lice and keep a fellow scratching all of the time. And the doctors is so mean that they won’t do anything for a man if he is sick so if I get sick, I don’t know what I shall do for if I was dying I could get no medicine from them. I have got good quarters and that is all that I can say for the victuals in of the poorest kind and I have been on forced marches with better when we only had raw pork and hard bread. We have apple sauce twice a day regular and we have a piece of hot fresh beef boiled without salt.

I will start this letter off on the morrow which will be Sunday and I hope that you will get it soon and I hope that you will write soon for I want to hear from you. Give my love to Mother, Cont. and Doc. and all of the kind friends that we have. I will close now hoping to hear from you soon. Good night pet.

Ever your loving husband, Sergeant Chester A Chapman, Co. D, 1st Conn. Heavy Artillery
Chesapeake U. S. General Hospital, Fortress Monroe, Virginia

Please excuse my scribbling.

Sunday night, 15th July

Dear Mat, — I didn’t get this off today as I expected for I had no envelope to send it in. But by not sending it, I can tell you that I don’t expect to get paid while I am in this place for they say that they won’t pay off any man that has not got his Descriptive List here and mine is not here. I suppose that it is all for the best but I can’t see it in that light. So if they pay off any man here and don’t pay me, I shall make a fuss about it and if I can’t get it, then I shall leave the army and the country for I don’t choose to stay where I am used worse than a dog. I have got my mind made up to desert if they don’t pay me soon for I want money and I am a going to have it or fight if I have to leave the country to get it. I do actually believe that they are keeping our pay from us so that we will leave without it, and so get off without paying us at all. They say that we had ought to fight for our country without pay. Good, but why don’t they tell the negro this? No, they pay them and send them off North to take up all of the work there is to do before we can get there so that they won’t have to take care of them, but we have got to stay and do all the dirty work after the war is over. It makes me hate the name of my country to be used in this way. Why don’t they keep the niggers and let them go home as they told us they would if we would reenlist? I will tell you why I think it is. It is because we have ended the war and they can’t make anymore money out of it and so they are mad at us and keep us for punishment. And I believe that they would hang the lot of us if they could and dared to do it. But good night for I must stop this or I shall get mad and that is a thing that I don’t allow to happen every day for it makes me sick to get mad.

Yours as ever, — Chet

Return to Chapman Archive


Saving history one letter at a time

%d bloggers like this: