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.
Suffolk Sept 21/62
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
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!