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.
and Joseph, April 12th 1862
let them all read it if they can
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Letter written by Corporal Amos Kibbee of the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry, to his cousin Hattie, from Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. Kibbee describes his transfer from the 29th IL Regiment to the 4th IL Cavalry after the battle of Shiloh. He describes what it is like for a soldier in battle, and the overwhelming feeling to completely destroy the enemy that comes as a means of self-preservation. Kibbee writes that Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, and Memphis are all in Union possession, and does not see how the Confederates could at this point hope for success. He is anxious for the war to end as he feels he is not suited to a soldier’s life – his main goal is for the war to end rather than to be promoted in the military. He requests that his cousin be available when he visits home so that they may spend time together, and that he will likely move back to Illinois.
Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn. May 11th, 62
Dear Cousin Hattie
Yours of April 20 came to hand yesterday and I avail myself of the time given me today on account of being on guard all night to answer it, although perhaps I should do it better if I were not so sleepy and tired. I think I forgot to tell you in my last that we have been transferred from the 29th Reg. of Infantry to the first battalion of the 4th Cavalry, commanded by Col. Dickey. We have been attached to this since directly after the battle of the 6th and 7th of April. The division to which I belong (the first, Gen. McClernand’s) was very badly cut up in the fight and they have many sick, and I think this may be the reason why we are held in reserve, and it is very probable we shall not participate in the coming struggle which is hourly expected, and which, indeed, is now already being fought, but more the fashion of a siege than an assault. We have heard cannonading in the direction of Corinth this morning, which implies that “somebody is being hurt.” I have shared the fortunes of this division of the army ever since its organization at Cairo. I was with it at Forts Henry and Donelson, and at Shiloh. It is unnecessary to tell you that the army met with little opposition at Fort Henry, but we had several cavalry skirmishes with their mounted scouts, shotgun cavalry.
So I have been in two regular pitched battles. Although I have seen blood enough spilt, yet I can hardly content myself to be a noncombatant in the present impending battle. Yet I think you will hardly demonstrate this “bloodthirstiness,” but a desire for a speedy peace, which can only be accomplished through their utter and complete overthrow, and to endure this I am willing, yes, anxious to “brave the leaden storm” once more. There is much to plead in extenuation for the soldier who is so often accused of forgetting the feelings of this better nature. There is a wide difference between experiencing the wild and terrible excitement on the battlefield, and contemplating it from afar. It is utterly useless for anyone to attempt to describe such feelings in language, but this much I can say. It is an utter forgetfulness of everything but a desire to destroy your enemy in the quickest way possible. I think perhaps it is self preservation more than anything else that prompts this feeling. But in all my experience I have never seen a soldier offer the least indignity to a dead or wounded enemy. No truly brave man would do this. Only cowards are capable of it, and I think, Hattie, you would find more than one here to dispute the word of anyone who would call me a coward, or accuse me of inhumanity to a suffering friend or foe. Well, the battle of Yorktown, or rather the siege, has been brought
to a successful issue, and the Rebels are in full retreat towards Richmond, and I hope it may have the influence upon the destiny of this war that all have presaged for it. With Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond, and Memphis in our possession, their armies defeated on every field and side, what can induce them to hope for ultimate success? It is nothing but reckless foolhardiness to protract the struggle longer. But if they will carry it on to the bitter end, the consequences must rest upon their own heads, and nothing but destruction, almost annihilation, awaits them with its horrors enhanced a hundred fold if we adopt Gen. Hunter’s last resort, which ere long will be done. I am anxious that this war should close for many reasons. First, a soldier’s life does not suit me very well, and next, you must know that it is time nearly thrown away from a pecuniary point of view. You know of course that the wages are small, and it is very little we can lay up out of it, and I wish to be doing something for myself. For it is useless to deny it. I am growing old fast. The misfortunes and hardships of a few years have done the work of many. God heed the day of peace. Well, I am going to write something now which perhaps I never should. If I had not seen that little “my” in parenthesis in connection with Lieutenant Leek. I protest against your doing so again will tell you why. Since we have entered
upon the scenes that have tried mens’ souls we have had many trying times of danger, where officers especially have been watched by jealous eyes, and I regret to say it, but he has greatly fallen from the estimation in which he was held at first by the men under his command who think the feather in his heart a little whiter than the big black one in his hat. They think he is troubled with a disease popularly demonstrated “the bighead.” But this is too common a failing among army officers. You wished to know what kind of a looking man our captain is. He is a man about my height, not so heavy built, will weigh about 150 pounds, light complexion, sandy hair, tolerably good looking, is about 38 years old, has a wife and several children at home. As his temperament would indicate, he is passionate and impulsive, and if he is lacking in anything it is in cool discrimination in times of peril. He is liked by some, and disliked by some, but he is a very good officer. My ambition consists more in wishing to bring this war to a successful termination than for official promotion, and I would rather hear of peace today than be assured of a brigadier generalship in six months more of war. I cannot see the necessity for your keeping to the school room so steadily. Surely you might consult your own wishes and feelings for this season, anyhow, or at least a part of it, for I am going to stay perhaps a month when I come, and shall want you at liberty then while I stay, or I shall be lonesome. I expect to go back to Illinois to live after visiting all my relatives there. Yours truly,
Ame to Hatt
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Tell your mother that I thank her very much for her good wishes, and should be as glad to see her as she would me, I’ll warrant. And “Sister Lizzie” the same. I can imagine the pretty things she said; “tell” me. Tell Madison I am coming to see him and stay a whole week. And if I should conclude to take my horse with me, perhaps we won’t have some madcap races. My black [horse] is not in as good condition as he was. He has had awful hard usage and poor feed. The roads are too bad to haul forage, but he will improve as soon as we get plenty again. You may look for me about the first of August; a year from [my] time of entry [in the army].
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We are encamped about half way between Pittsburg and Corinth. [We] shall move up a little closer tomorrow. A.K. to H.
Amos Kibbee, from Metropolis, IL, enlisted on August 7, 1861 as a corporal in an independent company of Illinois cavalry, designed to be attached to an infantry regiment as an adjunct unit. His company was assigned to the 29th IL Infantry during the battle of Shiloh, but was transferred to the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry immediately thereafter. In the spring of 1863 various independent companies were re-organized to form the 15th IL Cavalry, and Kibbee was assigned to Company B. He was promoted to sergeant (no date recorded). Kibbee was mustered out of the army on August 25, 1864, at the expiration of his three years’ enlistment.