Letter – William Moore, 12 April 1862

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Letter written by Private William Moore of Company H, 44th NY Infantry, “Ellsworth’s Avengers,” to Joseph W. Luce of Chautaugua County, NY. Moore writes that his regiment travelled down the river to Fortress Monroe before heading to Yorktown, VA. He writes about the fighting at Yorktown, including the dead and wounded. Moore is on picket within range of the Confederate fort. The day before, Confederate forces drove into the pickets, but the Union troops were able to drive them back. He describes soldiers having fun tossing around two unexploded shells that fell into the camp. He also mentions Professor Thaddeus Lowe’s balloon.


-Page 1-

to Willard

and Joseph, April 12th 1862

let them all read it if they can

Dear Friend

I received you letter a long time ago and started on a martch the next day and have had no time to write before or to send it out Milton is to washington sick Lon and my self are well and ready to fight we cam down the river and landed at fortress Monroe and have made our way threw to york town one week ado today started from big beathel in the morning and got here at noon and had quite a fight in the afternoon most of the firing with cannon and shell the loss on our side was, 3, and 7 wounded

-Page 2-

2 of them was in the batery one had his scull took off with a piece of shell the other was hit with a round shot in the side and cut almost into [in two] the other had his leg cut off below the hip and bled to death the others will get well this I see my self they was burried sunday in front of our camp we have lost 6 men sence on picket and, 8, wounded that is all that we have lost no loss in the 44th Regt only a wounded one in the breast and one in the corner of the eye but not bad to day I am on picket withen gun of the fort we hafter lay down or get shot and crawl on our hands and nees to our post and back then get shot at from the rifle pits

-Page 3-

so you see that we hafter lay low for black ducks yesterday there was [# value?] rebels came out to drive in our pickets just as soon as they came out of the pits we give it to them we had 500 pickets and they fell most every shot they carried off, 20, this morning we dont know how many they carried away lat night they wounded 4 of the sharp shooters slitely and run abck into their hole satisfied they throw shell all over from the fort but it dont mount to any thing 2 fell in our camp but did not explode the boys are throwing them around for amusement they have shot

-Page 4-

4, or, 5,,, over my head this afternoon I guess about 200 feet high we can here them hum [this?] last saturday one took a boys knapsack and tore it off from his back and never hurt him at all that I see dun they have not hit me yet but they shoot dreaful car[e]less we have been here a week today and have not dun mutch yet we are waiting for something I dont know what it will take some fighting to take this place yet they have got 6 miles of brestworks the old balloon is here so that we can take a peak at them Gen MC was looking at them all day last sunday I think that he knows all about the place I must stop dyrect the same as before I cant tell half I want to so good bye

William Moore


WILLIAM MOORE enlisted as a private in Company H, 44th NY Volunteer Infantry on September 19, 1861 at Albany, NY, aged 21. He was mustered out at Albany, NY on October 11, 1864. The 44th New York Infantry was one of the state’s most prominent and elite units. The men were recruited according to a specific criteria: to be unmarried, less than age 31, at least 5’8” in height, and of high intelligence. Dressed in Zouave uniforms for the first year of service, they became known for their hard fighting and able service. As part of the 5th Corps, the 44th served in the same brigade as Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine at Gettysburg, and were among the heroic defenders of Little Round Top on July 2d 1863.