Letters of Sgt. Edgar D. Haviland

Edgar D. Haviland, enlisted December 13, 1861 at Dundee, NY to serve three years, mustered in as private Co. E, Ninety- third Infantry, December 220, 1861 at Cortland, NY; transferred to Co. E, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, in January 1862; promoted sergeant prior to April 1863; returned to ranks, no date; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 2, 1864; killed in action, May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Va.

Adeline and Dives D. Haviland were the parents of Edgar.

The letters were transcribed from the originals by B. Conrad Bush. Capitalization and spelling are in the original, but punctuation and paragraph breaks have been added by Mike Brown for readability.


ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Second Brigade, First Division, First Army Corps.
Near Rappahannock Station Va. Dec the 17th/63

Dear Brothers

It being a rainy day I set down to write you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgoten you. Mother said in her last letter that you wanted me to write to you once in a while so I thought this would be the best oppertunity that I would get. I am now at Brigade Head Quarters doing Duty it is a mighty nice Place we do not have to go on Picket or on Drill.

We are Drilling the Bayonet Exercise it is a fine thing to us. There is men Picked out of each Regiment to come to head Quarters there was Ten men and Two Corporals and One Sergeant out of each Regiment and I was the only man in our Regiment that stayed and I think I will stay here untill my turn of Enlistment if I dont Enlist over again for three years which I think I will. If I do enlist again I will get a furlough for Thirty Days then I will come home and see you Boys. I wonder if William is on the Old Hill Pond Skating.

Jimmy, You must tell Sam and Charley that I am coming home too see them. I will have to stop now. Write Soon.

From E D Haviland

Direct your letters to E. D. Haviland Head Quarters 2d Brigade 1st Division 1st Army Corps Army of the Potomac

On the back page of the letter is a drawing he made of a shanty which what his winter quarters looked like.


Head Quarter 76th N.Y.Vols near Rappahannock Station Va.
Aug the 11th 1863

Dear Mother

I have just received your letter and was very happy the letter came fore I did not know whare to write and was very glad to hear you was well and had a good time in New York. you said you was thare when the Riot Broke out. I suppose you was most scared to death. I would like to have bee thare with our Regiment. those devils would thought that thare was no use talking fore a while we would not commenced with Blank cartridges on them but would give them the Balls if they was so anxious for arms.

Now I will commence and tell you all about our Campaign this Summer. you know we was at Pratts Point last winter about two months. We received marching Orders for the Battle of Chancelersville and went thare in one day. it was a mighty hard march through the woods and over the hills and through Vallies.

We arrived on the Battlefield about One Oclock. thare was against many men engaged when we come thare so we was on the reserve. the Fifth, Forteeth and several other Regular Infantry Regiments ware in the front that day. thare was the hardest musketry that I ever saw in my life. the boys ware all anxious to get into it. just then our old Brigadeer rode up to us and said if those Regular should break and run you brave fellows must open the ranks and let them through and take the front, but they stood their ground like men. So we didnt get in the musketry that time.

Then about night we found out that the Rebs was leaving their positions and trying to get in the rear of us and then we fell back to the Rappohannock River and could see the rebs trying to cross but it was no go. we went acrossed and headed them and drove them Back. Then we fell back to the Camp called Camp near White Oak Church thare.

we remained thare for one month. we heard after a while that the Johneys ware in Pennsylvania. we received marching Orders the next day to find them. we marched night and Day to find them. we marched night and day for eight or ten days came mighty tough for us. we arrived at Gettysburg on the first day of July and we had a grand Celebration of fine works.

we was on the head of the column that day and our Regiments was on the lead of all of the troops which caused us to get in the Battle the first day. we had a great many Killed and wounded from the Cannons before we got into the Musketry. after we got into the Musketry the men fell like Sheep on all sides of me. when we first came into line thare was a Corporal hit with a cannon Ball and fell upright back into my arms. in such time a man dont have much time to take care of the men so I threw him down. no sooner had I done that than thare was another one fell by my side Which was a Dundee Boy whose name was James B. Bush of Barrington. his fathers name is Thomas Bush. I was sorry the bullet hit him for he was my Tent mate. he was a fine little fellow about my size.

in a few minutes our Captain was killed and then the Lieutenant was in Command of the Company. it was not long before he received a wound that will make him loose his leg. thare we was with no Commissioned Officers and then I took the Company in hand my self and maid it go first best.

Just as I took Command of the Company Sergeant Walter B. Wood of Barrington was Killed. he used to live with Casness folks and like wise with Selca Baleys folks and a few minutes I had some one say that B. F Carpenter was Killed. that maid me feel like as if I would like to speak a word to him before he was gone fere good so I went down the line to find him and found him but he was dead and so he could not speak to me. I had it in my mind to feel in his Pockets. I know he had Ten Dollars but the next Regiment was Ordered to move back to the Woods which was about Ten rods distance.

I saw they was going and I new we would go to for the Rebs had us flanked on three sides. So I hastened to my command and just then we was Ordered to the rear to the woods. the Major in Command of the Regiment Ordered me to give my Gun to one of the men in the ranks but that made me mad for I wanted to stand with the rest of the boys and I asked him if he would not let me keep it and he said you must be a D--d fool you have got your hands full now without a gun so he said you are a Brave little devil. those are just the words he used and afterwards he was killed. he was a Gentleman and a Grand Officer his name was (A.J.Grover)

Now I will tell you all what I think. I think I will get a Commission as a Second Lieutant what I have been working fore, fore three months. dont tell Pop of this fore he will say it is all a Dam lie. This is all at present Write soon.

Your Son
E D Haviland


Obituary of
EDGAR D. HAVILAND

Was a native of the town of Washington. His father, Devis Dehaviland, died when he was quite young, and his mother afterward married Mr James Rew, under whose supervison he grew up to manhood.

In 1861, he enlisted under Capt. H.W. Pierce, of company A, 76th Regiment, N.Y.V, but finally in making up the regiment and filling the companies, Edgar was enrolled in company E. In this position he went to Virginia.

He proved himself an active and good soldier, and participated in the various duties of camp and field life, and was promoted to the post of First Sergeant. In this capacity he went to Gettysburg, where his regiment was among the first who became engaged on that memorable field. Here his Captain and Lieutenants were either killed or wounded and Ed found himself unexpectedly in command of his company, and it is said by those who knew, acquitted himself in a brave and fearless manner.

After this, he continued in the service until January, 1864, when he was honorably discharged, and re-enlisted as a veteran, upon which he received a furlough and came home on a visit to his friends. On the expiration of his furlough he returned to his post, and finally on the opening of the spring campaign, met the foes of good government in the Wilderness of Virginia and on the 5th of May, 1864, fell on his post a martyr to the cause of right and justice.

We are not able to give particulars; all we know is he fell on the field, and his warfare is ended. He was 20 years of age, and died just as manhood was developing his powers, on the altar of liberty and for his country.


These letters were transcribed by B. Conrad Bush, 1940 Reading Road, West Falls, NY, 14170; e-mail Bushresear@aol.com; from original letters found at the National Archive, Washington, DC


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