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Letter from Chauncey to Sylvia
May 24, 1862
On June 8th Sylvia added a note and sent it to their father, Benjamin, who was doing carpentry work for a man named Lucian in Wisconsin.

Camp thirteen miles from
White House
May 24th Ď62

My Dear Sister,

          Yesterday I got here & found what boys there was left very well & I found your letter dated at S. & one from father.  They had been here some time.  Lieut. P. went home last Sat., just a week ago today, & I had the bleus all before & after he went.  But a few cigars that he gave me & an old pipe soon brought me all right.  I ran around town untill Wednesday, then shipped for York Town, (or) White House.  We had a splended siege.  It was just rough enough crossing the bay to make it pleasant.  I had a distant view of Mount Vernon & take it all together it was a pleasant ride down.  Just after we left York T. we had a tip top thunder storm.  But we were in the river & it did not trouble us any.  We got to White House landing (it aint Gills landing) but it is very much like it.  We got there Thursday night.  Friday morning we went ashore, had to cross five boats to get to the land.  The river is filled with vessels of all kinds & loaded with our hog (cheese) beef ____?  Well to tell you the truth we donít have dried beef.  But sometimes it is rather stail, more like mud.  We have plenty to eat such as it is, & good enough what there is of it.  I had to march 15 miles before I fetched up with the Regt.  We camped on rather a fair piece of land.  This morning it looked like rain so the 64th had to strike tents & move a few rods & pitch them on a hill.  It soon began to rain & I donít feel like writing.  I am going to use up what little paper I have left & throw away my portfolio for I canít carry it this hot weather.

          I know it will be hard for you not to hear from me often.  But if you was here I know you would not write many letters.  When I got here the boys blackguarded me for being clean and white, & my frock out.  They will tear the tails all off.  We are expecting a battle every day.  And a happier set of men I never saw.   Our Regt has had a hard time since I left.  Some of them came very near being killed by there torpedoes.  There is only about fifty able to be with the Co. Their health is good.  When I came here they looked more like sunburnt Indians than white men & Chance was & is a white sheep in the flock.  My neck & face is sunburnt, guess it will peal.  But I will soon be as black as any of them.  I donít think as much of Gen.  Howard as I did once, Guess it will be a _____ tight squeeze for him to go to heaven.   That great slaughter at Williams, B. was oweing to G. Sumners not reinforce- the D.  that was fighting.  Our B. lay all day & then marched in the night, mud kneedeep. G.S. the scoundrel has designed.  He ought to be hung.  Shooting is to good.  The rain has stoped & we have rested all day.  Mr. Barrett has been around for the mail so this will have to wait untill tomorrow night.  We have had beans, rice, fresh & salt beef, & pork today.  The far here when we get it, is better than Alexandria, V. fare.  I donít see why it is so but the men, when they expect to be called any moment to fight, are just as full of fun & anctious to go ahead.

          At inspection my gun passed well.  Lieut. D. said now fix your guns boys, for tomorrow is Sunday & of course we will have to march.  You donít know how glad I was to get with my Co.  I slept with my friend Wellington & we talked all night long.  Today we had a fine little nape.  When I left W. (Washington) I weighted 155 lbs., fifteen lbs. more than I weighed one year ago.  One year ago I was on the lakes.  And come to take it all together it aint very hard only when we have to march all day & night in the rain & mud.  As far as the money is concerned, I would have done better with my tools down here.  There was about a hundred carpenters came down on the boat when I did.  They build the bridges and etc. It is growing dark.  I do wish you could see the campfires in the night around here.  I canít see more then 15 or 20 thousand.  Welly says this is nothing.  At ship point he says the whole army of the P. was together.  If the Rebs stand at R we will give them fits.  It is rather damp here & as I am not used to sitting on the ground I guess I will not write anymore tonight.

 

          Please send this to mother & if she will, I would like to have her send it to father.  Tell him I canít write many letters.  I received his and was glad to hear from him.  Father how I would like to help you frame that barn.  But I donít know but I should be lazy if I was there.  The saying here is Ėsouldier will you work? No Iíll sell my shirt.  We look down on the laybering class of man.  You asked if my gun was a breech loading gun. No it is not.  I like it better than the sharper B.L. gun.  Think it will kill a Reb farther.  How I would like to try it once.  Perhaps I will ere this reaches you.  If you take the papers you will get the news faster & more of it than I can write & if I should get shot you will get the news in the papers long before I could get a letter to you.  So I donít see much need of writing as long as I am well.  And when I am sick I canít write no more than the man could patch his roof when it rained,  Father, please give my love to Lucian and his family.

                                      From your son

                                                Chauncey

Well I thought I would light a torch and finish this up tonight.  I canít ask you to write when you donít expect to have me answer then but nevertheless I should be very glad to get a good long letter from you all.  If you had to sit on the ground with nothing under you but a rubber blanket, hold the paper on your lap, I would not ask you to write.  I might get my knapsack to sit on, but I should have to reach for it like whats his name for the spade.  So think it wonít pay.  If you will be so kind to write direct it to the Regt. & Co. Washington D.C.

 

(Apparently this got to Sylvia and she sent it to their father, Benjamin.  She added this note to her father.) L

 

Allegany Reservation   June 8

Dear Father,  I will not complain if you do not too often wrote to me if you will only remember Chauncey.  Poor boy!  I fear that this will be the last letter we shall ever get from him.  We have heard from some of our Indian boys that others of their number have been killed in the battle of Richmond.  I am anxious to hear further particulars. 

          I hope you are well and doing well.  If you were here you would not see much change in my surroundings only that my garden is planted and things are just coming up.  I have worked very hard since I came back, but must stop it.  We are going to have Indian preaching today.  Donít you think I get lonely sometimes?  But usually I am in good spirits trying to do what is right yet often failing because of too much self confidence.  When shall we learn that we are but dust, creatures of an hour.  If you can bear to, do write to me.  I do not go over there to Sabbath school now nor to the mission house on Saturday.