Chapman, 17 May 1862

Camp Winfield Scott near Yorktown, Virginia
May 17th 1862

Dear Wife,

I will now try to pen you a few lines hoping they will find you well for they leave me enjoying that great blessing. I have tried to write more to you and would have done so if I had had ink to do it with. I have twice been compelled to use a lead pencil and both times I received bad news from home. The first of these was the death of little Charley and the second was the death of little Ella. Dear little Ella. You can imagine my feelings when I heard of her death for I could not write of it before for the thought of it would unman me for the time and I thought I may reach home on time to see all that is still alive. And I hope to meet them well, if it is the will of God, and it is my prayer that such may be His great and holy will.

I was in hopes that we had done with this siege train but such is not the case for we are to set it again near Richmond at a place called the White House near where Washington was married. We have driven them from the field where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. Now I hope we shall have the same good fortune here for we didn’t have a man hurt although they were firing at us all the time for three days and nights and some of their shot come so near that they struck our huts. I tell you, it makes a man think of home when one of them big hundred pound shots goes whizzing by his ears. It made me think of it [home] and I wished that I was there too about that time. The drum is beating. Good night, my pet.

On Board Steamer Robert Morris
York River, Virginia

Dear Wife,

I will now try to write a few lines more to let you know that I am on my way to the White House [Landing]. Our regiment is on the reserve and we have got to fight with our old muskets for our heavy guns is left behind. I thought at one time that our regiment was to start for home but now it will be a long time before we can do that and it may be that half of us never does see that happy place again. Yet I hope that we may for I wish to see my pet once more. If this war ever ends and another should break out, I should know what to do. At any rate, I should know better than to shoulder an old gun.

I am now a soldier and a sailor for I have to help work the Colonel’s boat. But it makes it easier for me and I hope that he will keep her for it is some comfort to me to get on the water some of these hot days—and hot days we have here too! But I have never seen a day so hot yet as the day that we left Hartford and I thought I could stand as much now as I could then. I made that march when half of our regiment lay fainting in the road, but now the poorest man that is with us can stand more than I can and I will tell you the reason of it. It is because I thought more of my work than I did of my health and got broken down while others has let their work go and took care of themselves. So I think that I shall do the same hereafter for there is nothing gained by ones killing themselves.

I will now close for the night for it is an hour after bed time. Good night, my pet.

In camp at Old Church, Virginia
May 25th [1862]

Dear wife,

Your kind letter of the 18th has just come to hand and I am very glad to hear from you but I am very sorry to hear that you are no better yet. I am glad that I have got such a good little wife. I am sorry for Ed Sisson for a bad wife is worse than death. Yes, pet, I have got both of your pictures and shall keep them until I get home or die. They are not kept any the best for I have wet the cases of them by being out in the rain. Tell Mary that if I ever get home, it will be just the same as just getting married over again. I thought that I should not have to write any more with a lead pencil but I got mistaken for I have had to throw away my ink and all my clothes except what I had on and one shirt that I kept for gun rags for we have been on a long march so that we are now in front of the army and only eight miles from Richmond. We—that is, our company—was on picket last night. I was on the road in the woods watching the rebels and could not get a shot at one of them for they kept in their works and fired on one two or three times and one of their balls went right under my chin—so near that it scratched my neck. We have got new [Springfield] rifles now so we can get along better now that we could before. Will now close. Good day for my pet.

Your husband, — Chet

Be true to me.

Screen Shot 2019-12-15 at 11.21.25 AM
Several officers of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery near Yorktown in May 1862

Return to Chapman Archive

 

Saving history one letter at a time

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: