Lyman Culver Letter

The following eight page letter, written by Lyman Culver of Co. A of the 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, was found in a trunk in an antique shop in Rushville, NY by an Aunt of Fred L. Rohrer, Fremont, CA who has provided me a copy and transcript of the letter. Lyman Culver was originally enlisted as a private in Co. E of the Ninety-third NY Volunteer Infantry and transferred into Co. A of the 76th New York in January 1862. He was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps, September 8, 1864. It is interesting that Culver did not mention his transfer from the 93rd into the 76th in his letter.

Transcript provided by B. Conrad Bush, punctuation has been added for readability.

Letterhead had a picture of a standing woman with a sword next to the American Fag on first page and a picture of General George B. McClellan on the 5th page.

Letter addressed to:
Myron Gage Esq.
Rushville, Yates Co., NY

Camp Warren Meridian Hill Feb 11 /62

Dear Cousins

Having leisure time this afternoon having just returned from drill, I have just seated myself in my tent. I thought of home - of the many friends that I left in Reading and suddenly my mind returned to Middlesex where I spent a year of my life so pleasantly. I thought of Bare Hill - so I have concluded to write you a few lines. 

Well, Myron I have got to be a soldier. I enlisted in the Cortland County 76th reg. On the 18th of Nov. -left home on the 19th with rather sad feelings - it came rather hard to part with friends to go into battlefield with nothing certain of your even seeing them again but I came to the conclusion that my life could be sacrifice if it was necessary as anybody's so off I went inspite of the entreaties of my friends. 

Camp Campbell is in Cortland County about 150 miles from Reading. I was there one month - The Reg. Then left for Albany where we stopt about three weeks at this depot when we left there were about 300 troops under the command of Gen. Rathbone - we left this depot on the 17th of Jan. for New York. We took the Hudson River Railroad - our trip down was pleasant the scenery is beautiful - we passed the Catskill mountains the tops seemed to reach the clouds they were covered with snow and presented a grad appearance. We arrived in the City on the morning of the 18th - the train was composed of 34 cars containing about 1300 soldiers we wee quartered in the park Barracks on Broadway but a few rods from Barnums museum. 

Our stay was short in the city - we left there on the 23rd of Jan. for Rikers Island. This Island is twelve miles from the city down the East River - it is in the Long Island Sound. We took passage in the Alice May and two other steamers passage down was pleasant - we passed Governors Island - here are 2 regiments quartered. On this Island is Fort Columbus - it stands on the bank of the river and is a bad thing for an enemy vessel to pass - we also passed the Brooklyn Navy Yard - here lay some of the men of war - they looked rather sassy. The next place of importance was the Blackmill Island - here is where the City criminals are punished - the Island is about one mile in length by one half in width - the prisoners gave us three cheers as we passed - they looked rather comical dressed in their uniforms of white & blue the strips running around them. They number about 400 and looked rather tough. 

We arrived all safe at the Island - it has been the rendezvous of 8 Regiments since this Rebellion broke out - among them were Billy Wilson's Zouaves. Our stay on this Island was rather hard there being but one well on the Island and at high tide the water was salt - consequently our coffee was made of saltwater. We had plenty of Oysters & Clams by digging them out of the sand when the tide was out. Our barracks was not very comfortable and the weather was cold and we were glad when we were ordered to Washington - we left the Island on the 31st of Jan - we took the steamers for South Amboy, then took the Amboy & Camden Railroad for Camden - it was in the evening and very dark so I could not see much of the country. 

We arrived safe at Camden crossed the Delaware and proceeded to Philadelphia - this place we took supper - although it was midnight the People were aroused by the music of our band and that (of ) another York State Reg. were passing through that city - the sidewalks were throngs with citizens - women and girls rushed up to the ranks and presented the soldiers with towels and handkerchiefs. Flags were flown from the windows and the utmost enthusiasm prevailed - by the way a nice young gal presented me with a nice embroidered Handkerchief with her name. I have got it yet - I have since written to her & received an answer - it is good and very patriotic - her name is May Wentworth - she has two brothers in the army who are captains. One was killed at Balls Bluff. 

We then proceeded to Baltimore, after we crossed the Pennsylvania line things began to wear a warlike appearance. Our first stopping place Perrysville - here are two Regts, the 1 Maine & 9 New York. We arrived at Baltimore in due time - at this city we did not meet with as warm a reception as we did at Phil. I guess they are as lacking in Hospitality as they are in everything else - the city is filthy - the architect of building is miserable and in fact everything wears a secesh appearance. A sesesh spit in one of our captains face but the gallant Captain drew his sword and the secesh made himself scarce. 

We left the Monumental city and proceeded on our way to Washington - nothing of importance transpiring except a few rocks coming through the car windows. We arrived safe in Washington where we stopt three days and were ordered to meridian Hill our present destination - it is 2 1/2 miles from the city northwest. 

We are attached to Gen. Caseys Brigade composed of 6 Regs from York state. There are over 20,000 troops within 2 miles of us - among them are Artillery infantry, Berdans celebrated sharp shooters and a large Cavalry reg from Rochester (8th NY Cavalry). 

Something new transpires everyday - there was a Rebel shot down the other evening. He strayed from camp Brighton - 8 miles from us and this is the nearest Rebel camp - he was making for our spring - he was dressed in female attire and the guard shot him down - on his person was found 3 lbs. of arsenic which he had intended to poison the Reg - he was secretly buried and it was soon forgotten - there has been three or four of our troops shot since forming the guard, while I am writing we can hear the booming of cannon on the opposite side of the Potomac. I have counted 11 guns in a minute. 

What disposition Gen. McClellan will make of this Brigade I cannot say but the report is this morning that we are going aboard an expedition - there were two regs. that left camp on the Burnside expedition. I have not been home since I enlisted and I shall not until this rebellion is closed or leave 140 lbs. in Dixie. 

Myron, I wish you could take a peep in our tent this morning - you would think it looked rather sassy - the 76 Reg. occupies 290 tents with three and four in each tent, overhead is our Enfield rifles & swords on one side our knapsacks canteens and if you take a peep in my overcoat you will find a six shooter and bowie knife - they were presents to me and I have been waiting for a chance to use them - our time is pretty much all occupied drilling - evenings I teach writing school - I am teaching in 6 tents at present. I guess you will think I had better take lessons when you come to read it but you must excuse this bad writing. I have written some of it by daylight some of it by moonlight and I guess you will think that some of was written without any light at all. I also do some writing for the Captain - but Myron I guess that I will have to close for this time - you must write as soon as you receive this and I will answer it with pleasure. Remember me to Miss Basset & all.

Yours Lyman Culvers

Direct yours to Washington D.C. 76th Reg. Co. A N.Y. Vol. In care of Capt. Grover

Be sure to put on the N Y S Vol as there are other 76 Reg from other states L C

This letter was transcribed by B. Conrad Bush, 1940 Reading Road, West Falls, NY, 14170; 

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- Last Updated May 27, 2001