Letter – Zebulon Ryder, 21 September 1862


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.

-Page 1-

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

-Page 2-

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



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


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!

Letter – Frederick Doten, 24 February 1863


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

Letter of Frederick B. Doten of Company F, 14th CT Infantry, to his fiancée Georgie Welles, from the headquarters of the 14th CT Volunteers in a camp near Falmouth, VA. Doten mentions a newspaper that publishes letters from an officer in his regiment, Captain Samuel Fiske, under the name of “Dunn Browne.” Doten is currently acting adjutant, but expects to soon be relived of the position so that he may join Company F as 1st lieutenant.

A second part of the letter is dated February 25th. Doten writes that the silence of the camp is oppressive and he reminisces about nights at home. The band is serenading General French. Doten describes how Confederate forces drove in the Union pickets, though neither side suffered any great loss. He asks if Welles intends to visit Brooklyn, as he may be able to go north on furlough. He expects to be confirmed as adjutant rather than sent to the line, as the former adjutant was promoted to major.

 Head Qrs.  14th C.V. 

                          Camp near Falmouth, Feby 24

Dear Miss Georgie

     Your kind letter of Feby. 8th was duly received and it has been my intention every day since to answer it, but I have been so very busy that I could not write to anyone. I am extremely glad that you think it your duty to write me as a soldier. I hope too that it is your pleasure as a friend, for it gives me more pleasure than you can be aware of. I most humbly and earnestly beg that you will continue often to do your duty in that particular.

     I also received a newspaper, for which I am very thankful. By the way, that

-Page 2-

same paper frequently publishes letters from one of the officers of this regiment, Captain Fiske. They are quite interesting. He writes under the name of “Dunn Browne.” Have you ever seen any of them?

     I expect soon to be relieved of my duties as “acting adjt.” as the regular adjutant will be back soon. Then I shall go to the company to which I have been promoted 1st lieut. of Co. F. Please direct to me that way, as I shall then get them without their passing through as many hands.

     I thank you very much for your invitation to visit you next summer. But is not very possible that I can accept. I am in a three year’s regiment, and here I must stay until sent home by

-Page 3-

an unfortunate shot, or the ending of the war, which I sincerely hope will soon come about. For this is not a pleasant life by any means.

     Feby. 25th

     At last I have a quiet hour which I gladly devote to you. Everyone is in bed, or rather “turned in,” as we express it. The camp is very quiet. The silence is almost oppressive, and rather to me, melancholy. I cannot help thinking of home such a night as this. It reminds me of that evening that you and I went looking for lost friends. Our band is serenading Genl. French tonight, and perhaps the distant strains m[a]y help to produce these feelings. I hope you won’t think that I am weak. Should I be ashamed?

     We have been quite excited, to-

-Page 4-

day in camp. The Rebels made a dash and drove in our pickets a short distance from here. No great loss, however, on either side. One prisoner was brought through our camp; quite a fine looking man too.

Do you intend visiting Brooklyn this spring? There is a bare possibility of my going north on a furlough. I shall, if I can arrange this office so that I can leave before our next campaign. If so, with your permission, I will try and see you. Our old adjutant was today promoted to major. So that I shall now probably be confirmed as adj’t. instead of going into the line. “I hope you will see fit to answer this soon,” and please write as long letters as you can. I know I don’t deserve it, but am very selfish.

                  Very sincerely yours, Fred B. Doten

Frederick B. Doten, was born in Sheffield, MA in 1840. He worked as a clerk in New York City then enlisted at age 22 as a corporal in Co. A, 14th CT Infantry, August 1, 1862. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant of Co. F, March 3, 1863, adjutant of the regiment, April 14, 1863, and captain of Co. F, Oct. 20, 1863. He was present at “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, helping defend the Angle on July 3rd and was cited for receiving many captured swords from surrendering C.S. officers. He was captured at Morton’s Ford, VA on February 6, 1864, but after being imprisoned at Libby Prison, was exchanged and returned to duty as a staff officer for Brigadier General William Hays. He was mustered out May 1, 1865, and became a cashier of the 1st National Bank of Chicopee, MA. He married Georgie L. Welles in 1866, and died Apr. 9, 1903.

Another 3 of Doten’s letters to Georgie, dating from 19 June 1864, 13 October 1864, and 10 April 1865, can be found at Spared Shared. An inquiry into his Prisoner of War status in February, 1864 is available in Ohio State University’s records Be sure to check them out as well!