Letter – Horace Ensworth, 20 April 1862

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Letter written by Private Horace B. Ensworth of Company B, 81st NY Volunteer Infantry, to his family. Ensworth describes the weather conditions, and writes that they are heading to Fairfax Court House. He and his regiment are desperate to see combat soon. He describes the length of their recent marches, as well as their supply of food and the condition of their clothes. Though he could have been discharged he is determined to see the war through.


-Page 1-

April the 20 1862

Dear Father and sister

I take my pen in hand to wright A few lines to you we are all well at present; hoping these few lines will find you the same It just begins to rain here now We are to fair fack [Fairfax] Court house now that is ten mills [miles] from the place called York town whare the rebel troops are we shall see fun be fore longe we all want to see it batly that will tell what the 81[st] is the boys says that it rainy damded harde i guess I will put on my Jacket We are tufter [tougher] than pig tale lightning We are bare foot and when the [???] the sun comes out it scalls [scalds] the hide all says we gained a great victory last night our troops took 3,000 Rebels last night

-Page 2-

I think if we could get a chance at a sutherner we would suck his blood I suppose what makes us all so fast we don’t get eny more than we want to eat we marched 12 miles the other day We had the heft of five pecks of wheet on our march if a man had told me that i could mak a pack horse of myself but a man don’t till he tries it I had to throw my boots away Some throgh they coats away but I hung to mine the belloon went up yesterday morning it raised up most one half mile and last night night they comenced fihting I have not seen but one hole house since we left the landing, and we have traveled some 20 miles and and I have not one stope since we started it is the prety country as you ever saw in your life it

-Page 3-

level and good soil I should like to have 160 achres of land down hear It is the best place for union [onions] that i ever saw tell gader that I wrote to him but never have herd from him yet hope to the boys can write and direct to Fortress Monroe I should be hapy to hear from them tell Mom and Lucy to write when you write tell me how that grandmother and aunt ruby are We hav the shadow of a peace of mule for meat to eat it makes a man tuff tell Frank Howlett to write a few lines I could get my discharge a spell agoe if i had wanted but I am bound to se it throug if i can ceep my helth then I don’t care a dam for old Jeff [Davis] and his hole tribe to gether

-Page 4-

All for the present Yours Truly, B. Ensworth

Caysey’s Division 3rd Brigade, Fortress Monroe

Horace B. Ensworth

excuse Bad mistakes.


Dr. Horace B. Ensworth was born in New Haven, CT in 1843. He enlisted on September 28, 1861 in Oswego, NY and was mustered in as a private with Company B of the 81st NY Volunteer Infantry. He re-enlisted in January of 1864 in N.W. Landing, VA. He was appointed corporal at some point and then promoted to sergeant in February of 1865. On April 3rd of 1865 at about 8 o’clock the 81st was the first Union regiment to march into Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. Ensworth was detailed to oversee the feeding of the 1,600 men held there until the last one was paroled. He mustered out August 31, 1865 at Fort Monroe, VA. Ensworth died on September 13, 1935 at the age of 92 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Orwell, NY.