Letter – Zebulon Ryder, 15 December 1863

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Letter by Private Zebulon P. Ryder of Company I, 11th PA Cavalry, to his mother. Ryder describes how busy he has been since many soldiers re-enlisted and were given furlough. He claims he will not be able to easily get a furlough but will be home to stay in August. He expresses displeasure with how the African American soldiers were given “equality with the whites.” Ryder references an event from picket duty while in Suffolk, VA about a month earlier when rebels had captured 7 from their regiment. The night before they left Suffolk, Ryder and a few others discovered that Confederate pickets were staying at the Pugine House. Ryder and his comrades attempted to capture the soldiers, but were interrupted when more Confederate troops arrived. Ryder proudly mentions the two geese that he is fattening up for Christmas.


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Camp Getty Dec 15th/63

Dear Mother

I seat myself to write you a few lines and I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner as I did not have time for thay have kept us a going all the time lately as thare is a gret meny of the boys that has Reenlisted home on a Fourlough. I reaceived my farthers letter dated the 5th but I was out on picket about 15 miles from Camp and had no CHance to answer it as i Just got back yesterday and was not in Camp but 4 hours when I was sent with a dispatch to a place in North Carolina called Caratuck [Currituck] with a dispatch it is [40/90?] miles from here I was a Rideing all last night and did not get back untill 8 oclock this morning so you can think I am prety tired although I am well an I hope you and all the famaly are the same i reaceived that note my farther sent from Gen Butler but did not shew it to the Colenell as it whould be no use now as thare is so meny Boys home on a fourlough now that I could not get one very easy and if nothing hapens I shall be home in August to stay and I can easy stand it untill then I guess and when I get home you can not drive me in

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the Service for the Negro is soldier enough now whith out haveing the whites in to help them I think it is the most and the meanest thing to Government ever done whas to put Negros on Equality with the whites which they are a doing down here and I hope you or none of my freinds sympathises with them for if you only here 1 quarter as much about them as I did you whould not. While I whas sent on picket thare whas and Old lady named Ryder Claimed Relationship with me she said she was my Cousen her folks she said lived at Sag Harbor but wether she is or not I do not know but still I would not be fool enough to say she was not as I was used so well I borded thare the day I was out thare and she dose just as well as if she had bin my Cousin she has bin down here 30 years but I forgot what her farthers name whas but she had a brother named John who whas out this side of Suffolk last month doing picket douty whe was thare 15 days and thare whas orders for some of us to go in Suffolk for the week before who came thare the Captured 7 of our Regt with 8 horses and 2 wagons but the night before whe came away

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thare was 7 of started and whent up as it was Raining prety hard and the night was dark whe thought thare whas no danger and our Rations whas prety scarce whe thought whe would press a few chickens. whe crost a small stream Caled the Jeraco Canall on a Raft whe got thare about 11 oclock and when and seed a few of our frends that whe got acquainted with while our Regt whas Camped thare and they used us first Rate so well that whe thought thare was something up so whe met a negro and questioned him and he said that pickets was stationed at the Pugine house and whe had beter leave and whe thought so two and as whe whas a comeing away whe spied 5 of them a seting in a house takeing it so laysay whe thought whe would try and capture them so drawing our Revolvers whe whent up to the door and knocked and soon as the door whas open when made a Rush in and be fore thay had time to thinck and gt thare arms whe ordered them to surender wich thay done with out showing any Resistance for thay seen it was no use whe got thare arms and whas a marching them away when whe

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heard more of them coming down the Road and whe knew whe had to leave so whe took the 5 muskets and left but not before whe had fired the muskets off at them and 3 shots a piece from our Revolvers and they Blaced [blazed] at us but whe whas behind the House and it was so dark thay did not hit any of us but I thinck by the way thay yelled whe must have hurt some of them but you may be shure whe did not stay long to see and whe knew thay would not folow us as thay did not know how many men thare whas of us whe Ran about 2 miles and then whe got as meny chickens and geese as whe could cary and started for head quarters some one fired a shot and shot one of our boys in the arm but not enough to do him any harm as it only grased him I have got 2 of the geese now fatening them up for Christmas, when you see Ruth ask her why she dose not answer my letter as I would like to here from her very much, give my love to all inquiring friends and write soon

from your Affectionate son

Zebulon

excuse my scribling for I am sleepy


Zebulon P. Ryder was born in New York City. He enlisted in Company I of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 3, 1862 at around 16 or 17 years of age. He was first assigned to duty in Suffolk, Va. with his company, and survived the war, being discharged May 16, 1865. At some point he moved west to Tennessee, married, and worked as a farmer. He died February 26, 1909 of pneumonia in Buena Vista, TN.

Another letter by Zebulon Ryder, dating from 3 August 1862, can be found at Spared Shared. Be sure to check them it as well!

Letter – Zebulon Ryder, 24 December 1861

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Letter written by Private Zebulon P. Ryder of Company I, 11th PA Cavalry, to his father while in camp near Suffolk, VA. Ryder states he is having an easy time but is unsure of how long that will last. During his last scout, his regiment captured three Rebel pickets. He wishes to be home for Christmas dinner, and would like photographs of his father and his aunt. He would be willing to get his own photograph taken if his father sends him money. On the 15th of January, he is set to receive six month’s pay. Ryder is proud of his spending habits; he only buys writing paper and tobacco from the sutler. He concludes with a description of the Secesh Drill, and makes fun of the locals and how they say “we’uns.”


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Camp Suffolk Dec 24/62

Dear Farther

I reaceved your letter to night Dated the 20th and i was very glad to here from you and to here that you and all the folks at home whare well This leaves me very well at presant and I hope it may find you the same I am haveing prety easy times of it out here but i do not no how long it will last, Just Came home of a scout we captured 3 of the Rebel Picket 1 of them belonged to the 2d Georga Cavelry I supose you have herd of them before and the other 2 belong to some Infantry Regament i do not no from what state thay whare from, I thought that Arch Brower went home long ago or i would have writen to him, I went down to see Fread Driscol the day before I went out on a scout and i found him very sick but

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the Doctor said that he would soon get over it, I would like very much to be home to get my Christmas Diner for i supose you will have something good, you said that you was a going to send me your likeness I wish you would for i would like to have it very much and my aunts also if you send me on some money i will get mine takeing as the man that takes them came here last thursday, I only wished we would get paid off and then i would get 3 or 4 takeing but i would Rather wait now untill the 15th of January and then i will get 6 months pay which will be 75 Dollars, and i will have 5 of them to send home to you as i only gave 10 dollars of it to the sutler and you can see that i do not spend so much money as i use to do for that is only 2 dollars a month and i only spent that for writing paper

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and tobaco dont you

Reckon that is Right Smart for me My Mother sent for a lock of my hair i would send it to her but it is so short that it is impossible to cut it but i must stop for tonight and Bid you good Bye

from your Son

Zebulon Ryder

11 PA Cav

This is a specimen of the Secesh Drill

Gentlemen of North Carolina I came down to drill you a little Atention North Carolinians 2 strings to the Right Right Smart get halt hind Rank a little Closter get turn around get & Get meens March, Two of our Boys that was takeing prisoner got home last week

Tell Frank to write and Aunt also

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Zebulon Powell Ryder

Company I 11th Pa Cavelry

give my love to Aunt Uncle and Cousands Brothers and Sisters

Right Smart I Recon

What dose you all Come down here to weens for

Weens if what thay us


Zebulon P. Ryder was born in New York City. He enlisted in Company I of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 3, 1862 at around 16 or 17 years of age. He was first assigned to duty in Suffolk, Va. with his company, and survived the war, being discharged May 16, 1865. At some point he moved west to Tennessee, married, and worked as a farmer. He died February 26, 1909 of pneumonia in Buena Vista, TN.

Another letter by Zebulon Ryder, dating from 3 August 1862, can be found at Spared Shared. Be sure to check them it as well!

Letter – Zebulon Ryder, 21 September 1862

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Hi-resolution scans of the full document can be made available for a fee. Please see our Image Request page for details.

Letter written by Private Zebulon P. Ryder, Company I, 11th PA Cavalry, while he was in Suffolk, VA. The first half is addressed to Ryder’s grandmother. He tells her how happy he was to hear from her, despite her downhearted outlook on his time away at war. He is having a good time, with plenty of food, drink, and clothing. He did not receive the money she sent him and requests that she not send any more, for he is planning on sending his next paycheck home. Though the weather is cold in Brooklyn, Ryder describes how warm it is in Suffolk. He ends with a fond memory of picking blackberries with his grandmother.

The second half is addressed to his sister Zora. He tells Zora how much he likes soldiering, and how he has plenty of apples and peaches that he wishes he could send her.


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Suffolk Sept 21/62

Dear Granmother

I received your letter last night with my mothers and you dont no how glad i was to here from you as it is the first time i had a leter from you since i have bin in the servace but i was sorry to here you talk so as you did for you must be down hearted now you must not get in such low sperits as it is all foolishness for you to talk about you not seeing me again because you wont die this 20 years yet and as for me having hard times out it is not so as i have a jolly good time of it and i fare first rate plenty to eat drink and plenty of cloths to whare so what more could i want besides i have got a good soft Board to lay on in my tent, you said you sent me leters with money in them if you did i never got them and if i did i would not wan the money as i have got plenty and the next pay i am a going to send home it will be 52 dollars 4 months pay and i supose i will get it in 2 or three weeks and you can save it for me you said that if i wanted stocking or mits you would send them on to me you talk as though it was coald wether in Brooklyn but if it is it is warm enough out here as we have

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to go in our shirt sleaves every day and never use our Blankets at night, how is all the folks in farming dale a geting along i hope thare all well you must give my love to aunt Paty wen you write and also aunt Fanny and you must write to aunt Patty and ask her if Smith Bayles is in farmingdale as i want to write to him if he is thare but i must stop writing as i have got to go and water my horse so i must bid you good Bye for the presant from your Grandson

Zebulon

PS

I often think of the good times i used to have picking Black Beries and the time you lived to eastmans

ZPR

Suffolk Sept 21 1862

Sister Zora i thought i would write to you wile i had time and tell you how i am a geting a long and how i like soldgering i am haveing a nice time out here and i get plenty of apples and peaches and i wish i could send you some of them, i hope you are a good girl and go to school and learn your lessons and if i can get anything to send to you i will send it. you must give my love to all the little girls you no and kiss them for me

from your Brother Zebu


Zebulon P. Ryder was born in New York City. He enlisted in Company I of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 3, 1862 at around 16 or 17 years of age. He was first assigned to duty in Suffolk, Va. with his company, and survived the war, being discharged May 16, 1865. At some point he moved west to Tennessee, married, and worked as a farmer. He died February 26, 1909 of pneumonia in Buena Vista, TN.

Another letter by Zebulon Ryder, dating from 3 August 1862, can be found at Spared Shared. Be sure to check them it as well!