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115th New York Infantry

Item LTR-9483
December 28, 1864 Seely Conniver
Price: $365.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

Address Ward 42, Sec. D
Camp Parole
Annapolis, MD

Camp Parole, Ward 42, Sec. D
Annapolis, MD
Wednesday December 28 [1864]

Respected friend,
I received your letter of the 18th inst. A few days ago and, as I have a plenty of leisure, have thought to use a portion of it in writing again to you. Though I cannot expect to interest you much, for well I know your sorrow is as deep as your love was strong; and I sometimes question myself as to the propriety of intruding myself upon your sacred grief. But I would not have you think too deeply upon your loss, forgetting that your cloud may still have a silver lining. That something in life may yet become worth living for. When I was home on furlough, I still had some hopes of yet seeing him, but I fear I too must give him up. Mr. Mount writes me that he has received a letter in reply to the one I wrote, but it only confirms their worst fears. [This must be about Private Lucas W. Mount of Canajoharie, NY also of Company B who was wounded, then taken prisoner at Chester Station, VA on May 7, 1864. He died of his wounds in captivity in Petersburg on June 27, 1864.] He does not state any particulars, only that he was with him till he died. I have talked with several of the soldiers who have been prisoners in Petersburg and they all testify to receiving good treatment while there. The citizens and ladies of the place furnished them with many delicacies so palatable and grateful to the sick or wounded.

From what I can learn from the prisoners here who have been in various places in Virginia and Florida they have been well treated in the villages where they have fallen upon the citizens to be nursed. But in such places as Andersonville, Millen, Richmond, Belle isle & etc. where they have to depend on the government for treatment they have suffered woefully. But from all I can learn, we may comfort ourselves with the thought that he received kind treatment while living. I think I am now in the most lonesome place I ever was, though there are plenty of soldiers here, I am as much alone as though none were near, and I cannot say a single good word for the place. It is muddy, nasty and filthy and the living is poor, and withal they are very nasty with it and with the dishes. So nasty I use my fingers in preference to the knives and forks. They do not wash them at all for the second table, but go around with a black greasy nasty cloth that would shame a door cloth and pretend to clean them by wiping with it.

I have been here over four weeks and not been outside the guard for it is next to impossible to get a pass. But we are exchanged now and I look for a change soon of some kind or other. We had a very good Thanksgiving dinner at the hospital at Annapolis and one after I got here but I took such a heavy cold after coming here that I was too sick to enjoy it. A good constitution however enabled me to recover without anything serious resulting. Christmas passed off quietly and nothing unusual occurred to distinguish it from other days. I received a letter from Wash some time since but he wrote nothing particular, only that I can see he is lonely too, for there are none of the company there. He likes to be intimate with all of us who used to be so intimate. Winnie, Wash, Frank Aus and myself all are separated and scattered, never to all meet again on earth. O. how often do I revert to our three months stay at Seabrook Landing on Hilton Head Island when we used to enjoy ourselves so much in our little prayer circle, sometimes leaving our own and going to Fort Mitchell, somewhat a mile distant, where my brother’s company was stationed. It was there [brother] Frank found peace with the Savior and John Becker took up the cross of the Lord. O, I cannot describe the joy that filled my heart when Frank first expressed an interest in the Lord and I have the satisfaction of knowing it was no undue excitement that brought him forward, but a deep sense of God’s goodness to us poor dying creatures. And as far as human observation can reach, he died in his love. How quiet and full of enjoyment were those little meetings; full sympathy with each other pervaded every heart. One old man from another regiment used to meet with us and give us his experience and how fervent were his prayers. But those times are gone, Alas! And many of our comrades with them. I attended a prayer meeting here a few evenings ago, but there was so little there that harmonized with my feelings that I have not attended since. I do not wish to criticize any style of worship and am willing any one may worship as sees him fit, but when quiet sincere heartfelt worship merges into shouts and cries and groans that rivals a set of howling dervishes, I can find no enjoyment in it and respectfully beg to be excused. If they think it right and receive a blessing, the end is gained. I hope I may be forgiven if I am wrong.

Winnie and I never exactly coincided in our religious opinions but we found enough in the goodness of God to talk about without cluttering into arguments. How much I have to remember and thank him for his spiritual help, advice guidance and examples. For a bunkmate now I have an Ohio boy but how often do I wish it were Winnie that lay beside me as I awake in the still hours of night and lay thinking of times agone. Will I ever forget them? Ah no, they are to deeply engraved on my soul, as with a pen of iron. Shall I ever forget the last look of two of my best friends, Winnie and my brother? The last I saw of Winnie was once during the battle I glanced down the line and amid the sulphureous smoke near the colors, Winnie was bravely ding his duty and that was the last. And the last I saw of Frank was on a similar occasion with the missiles of death hurtling and hissing around us. Oh, too well I remember his face, as calm as in life but O so limp as I shook and called him by name. Frank! Frank! Shall I never see you more?

But I must turn from such scenes, they are too harrowing. Thought would we, if we could blot from our hearts the memory of the dead? Nay, it is a holy sorrow and tis not unwise to cherish it striving to fit our selves for the mansions above, hoping to meet them there?

I am at present suffering from a new wound as the ball has been extracted from my neck. It was done the 20th of December after an operation of twenty minutes. It is doing finely now, but it was quite sore and made me sick for a few days. The ball is battered so you can hardly tell what its original shape was. But I must bring this lengthy communication to an end and not think any questions you have asked has been any trouble for I would willingly answer more if in my power. You have not incurred any displeasure in alluding to my supposed relation with Mentie. She is, as you say, a very worthy woman as Mr. Hodges folks all are worthy people and many kindnesses have I received at their hands for which I feel very grateful. Whatever might have been, God in his providence has not permitted and as usual all must bow to his decree. I am sorry to say I have not received the papers you sent me. I am much obliged for your kind offer to send me reading matter, but my sister is at present sending me the Waverly. Anything you may choose however will be read with pleasure. Hoping to hear from you at any time if convenient and you feel like it. I take a mournful pleasure in writing you, for tis you as to no other do I write of him.

Praying that much comfort and happiness may yet be awarded to you through him the Father of all, I am sincerely and respectfully your friend.

Seely Conover