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80th & 145th New York Infantry

Item LTR-8329
July 3, 1864 Elson M. Misner
Price: $225.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 7 pages, written in period ink.

Headquarters Post and Defenses
City Point, Virginia

July 3, 1864

My Dear Sister,

This evening I received your letter and can assure you it was heartily welcome. I have just returned from church. Their hour start, for we now have a Chaplain and for a rarity he is what we all believe a good man and a true Christian. Something hard to find in the army. His name is H. W. Street and he is an Episcopalian. The regiment is encamped about a mile from here in a beautiful grove and there we held service and a solemn and impressive scene it was. Fancy if you can the Colonel in the center, with me on his right and Adjutant, Lieutenant Mulks, on the left and the rest of his staff grouped around him. A little farther off was Major Van Rensselaer with the officers of the regiment around him in a circle with the men formed in companies all bareheaded and you have some slight idea of how we must have looked. All seemed to take an unusual interest in the worship for our Chaplain. Though he has lately come among us. Has won the respect and esteem of both officers and men. To me, it was a solemn and interesting sermon. His text was of the Parable of the Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins and I was carried back in mind to my childhood days. Again, I seemed to be in that Sabbath School where I received my first religious instruction. Words taught and admonitions given so many years ago came back to me as fresh as if received yesterday. How little do we think of the influence of the Sabbath School while at home. To feel the full force of early instruction, one must lead a wandering life far from home and early associations. Then it is that we see and feel the benefits of early religious instruction. It makes no difference how careless or indifferent one may become. There will be times when childhood and the pious teachings of infancy will come back with redoubled force.

Colonel Gates is, as you are aware, in command of this post and all troops and defenses for the same. I was promoted as Chief of his Staff or in other words, as Post Adjutant about ten days ago. Lieutenant Mulks is Post Quartermaster, Captain Chamberlin, 25th New York Cavalry is Commissary of Prisoners and Captain Haystadt of our regiment is Provost Marshal. Colonel Hardenbergh commands the fortifications and Major Van Rensselaer the regiment four of our Captains are on the Mail Boats between here and Washington and the balance of the officers and men do provost duty here.

General Grant’s Headquarters are a short distance from us and the Hero himself may be seen at any time, pipe in his mouth, strolling around the town. What he does not see and know of matters and things in general is I fancy not worth seeing or knowing.

You at home are no doubt making preparations to celebrate the 4th of July. Well, we will celebrate in a different manner. Many a poor fellow who now sleeps, will tomorrow night sleep, that sleep that knows no waking. Such, however, is a soldier’s life. As such we accept it. I am not today in danger of being in a battle but who can tell what a day will bring forth. When I go in a fight, it will be as it always has been. With the determination to come out honorably or not at all.

I saw Sylvester while I was in Alexandria and spent part of two days with him. He is looking fine and is as near as I could see well liked. For he no doubt attends to his business and does his duty and when one does that, he is sure of friends. My return trip from Washington to this place was a pleasant one. For we came here on the Mail Boat and were only two days making the trip. I enjoyed the sail down the Potomac and across the Chesapeake Bay very much. We lay at Fortress Monroe long enough to give one a chance to look around and see things. Everything there is in perfect order and look like military life for pleasure rather than earnest. On our journey up the James River, I saw the Ironclad Fleet among them the Atlanta captured from the Rebels last fall. He is a formidable looking craft.

How are those cowardly contemptible “copperheads”, i.e. Wardell and Styles, Jeen. I hope you did not associate with them. For a patriotic young lady should never demean herself by associating with traitors. “Evil communications corrupt good morals.” Don’t think my language ungentlemanly nor too strong. I cannot help but feel the most supreme contempt for Wolves in Sheep’s clothing. He who has not the courage to be for us is against us.

I will, if alive this winter, come home for a few days. Still one must not be too fast in making calculations when in the Army. For of all uncertain things, soldiering is the worst.

We expected to be in Richmond to celebrate the 4th. But we are not yet in Petersburg. But we’ll accomplish our ends if the war does not come to an end as the Millerites prophesy.

I must close for it is late and I have to be up early in the morning.

So goodnight. My love to all.


Direct Lieutenant E. M. Misner, 20th New York State Militia, Post Adjutant, City Point, Virginia.