Letters of  Pvt. Charles Walter Devoe

Charles Walter Devoe, age 23, enlisted September 29, 1861, at Springfield, NY, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. K, 76th New York Volunteer Infantry, October 14, 1861; wounded inaction, August 28, 1862; died of his wounds, August 29, 1862, at Gainesville, Va.

Delia Walter married James Devoe October 22, 1834. Charles was born on August 30, 1838 and was their only child. His mother died May 26, 1840 and he was brought up by his step mother.

His family lived, at the time of his enlistment, in a small home in Milford, Otsego County, New York. His father was a shoemaker. They owned a small forty acre farm, which was also in the Town of Milford, which his father rented. A small shoe shop was adjoining his home.

Camp Riker Jan 28th 62
Head quarters of the 76th Regt.

Father and Mother it is with pleasure that I write you a few lines. we are in camp at Riker Island 14 miles from New York on the East river. it is a very pleasant place and we have considerable fun here. the boys go out on the shore and get clams. we have been here eight days now. I went down to New York last Night.

I left Cherry Valley the 16th of Jan. I staid in Albany two days. our Regt left Albany the day before I got there and I had 15 boys with me to take care of. I staid in N.Y. three days and then the Regt left for the Island last Thursday…

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…but I dare not send it by mail. I have had no opportunity to get money changed but I will do so as soon as I get a chance.

our Otsego Regt got smashed up in Albany and part of them went with the artilery and part of them went the 76th. when the Regt got broke up they transfered me back to Capt Youngs. we have about eleven hundred men now in our Regt. J.F. Newell is here with us. I have got no position yet.

we are going to leave here two morrow and I will write as soon as we stationed. you must excuse me for not writing before for I did not know how long we should stay here. our Colonel is under arrest now so they say for shooting a Major. there is some hope he will lose his office for he is most to strict with his men and they dislike him very much. Note: "our Colonel" is Nelson W. Green, who was, indeed, under arrest for shooting Major McNett. See his page for more details.

I have got $40 to send home. we got our pay till the first of January. the first of March is pay day again. my health is first rate. give my love to all inquiring friends.

Yours With respect

Charles W. Devoe Company K 76th in care of Capt J W Young

Feb 17th 1862
Camp Casey, Washington D.C.
Head quarters of the 76th Regt

Father and Mother,

To night Finds me as well as common and enjoying myself as well as any one can be expected to do. there is great doings in camp to night. there has been a great victory somewhere but we did not get direct reports but the morning papers will bring the news correct. the report is that there has been 1500 rebels taken prisoners.

Yesterday there was a call made for voluntiers to go out on a gunboat expedition somewhere and no one knew where. there was to be one out of each company. there was but three in our company myself and another young fellow from Springfield and a Dutchman and the dutchman was the lucky man to go. Perhaps the "gunboat" was the Mound City? see The 76th New York in the Navy

I should have writen yesterday but I was on picket duty and I had no time to write then. you spoke about that money that I was going to send home you said you expected it before this time. the reason that I did not send it right away was that I did not want to send it in a letter and I could not get to a banking house to deposit it, so I took it my head to take care of it in a new way. so I sent to New York and got the whole amount in boots and sent them along a head of us and I have sold them all except two pair. I am not making any thing on them but will save my money. as soon as I get my next pay I will send it all home so that you can have it by the first of April. you need not fear of my spending it foolishly for I am bound to save it all. it cost us something to rig up our houses so that they are comfortable

I have seen E Stickeny, Shutes, Clyde Ripp and Depuy Quartant and a great many others from diferent parts of the country. some of our neighbors are leaving us every day this morning the 77th that was in camp close by us went down the Potomac and tomorrow the 87th leaves for nearly the same place. there is some talk that our regt will be disbanded and sent home (after the war is over). J F Newell is here in our regt. he is well as common. I do not see him very often although his tent is not ten rods from mine. it is some muddy here and the neighbors know enough to stay at home and not track their friends floors.

write as soon as you can and do not give yourself any uneasyness about me yours.

with respect give my love to all Chas. W. Devoe

Feb 27th 1862
Camp Brightwood D.C.
Fort Massachusetts

Father and Mother

It is with pleasure that I take my pen to inform you that I am so well as usual. we have left our camp at Meridian Hill and moved here to guard the batteries this point. our location is not quite as pleasant here as it was at camp Casey but for all of that I like the place much better. it is on higher land and therefore much more healthy. we are about five miles from the city of Washington.

our regiment has been stationed along a line of forts five in number. at this fort there is three of the companies of the old Otsego regt that was raised at Cherry Valley. we are under the command of Lieutenant Col Shaul of Springfield. he is a very fine man and will do as well as he can by the boys and they think a great deal of him.

the weather here is very changeable here now. one day it will freeze some and the next it may rain and the next have heavy winds. to day the wind flows so hard that the tent looks like a balloon just ready to go up and once it was lifted off the foundation which is three feet high on one side but we had just been to dinner and had eat all the pork and beans we could get down and it did not take long to put it up.

I was over to the Sharpshooters camp and I saw all the boys from Milford. they were well and looked hearty as bucks. Johny Newell is well as usual. John Vooris is well also. there is one thing that I want you to send me that I need and that is a paper from Otsego county once in a while.

I have just read your letter dated the 23 and was glad to hear from you. our pay day is the first of march but it varies from 5 to ten days sometimes. I will send you all I can spare. I have signed an allotment roll that will send you $10 per month of my wages and I will send you the other as soon as I can collect it in.

I was just writing about the paper as the post boy brought in the letter from you. tell mother that have got a mince pie in the cupboard for supper and some good cheese but still I should like a piece from home.

we shall not be home as soon as you hope for though and perhaps we shall not be discharged in three years. we are going in the heavy artilery here in the fort. the fort has been inhabited by the 36th NY and to morrow they leave and we take charge of the big guns after that. tell Henry Coxhead that if he will come down to dixie land I will sell him a house and furniture for $25 large enough for himself and family and all the conveniences for house keeping at any rate. it is large enough for four of us. either of us is larger than himself.

give my best respects to all the folks in Milford write some time when you can make it convenient

Yours with respect Chas. W. Devoe

Washington, D.C. 76th regt. Company K, in care of Capt J W Youngs Fort Massachusetts

Fort Mass, Washington D.C.
March 30th 1862
Head quarters of the 76th Regt

Father and Mother

It is with pleasure that I take my pen to write you a few words. I should have writen to you before but I was waiting to get some news to write but cannot get any thing of any importance. the paper do not contain any.

the most news that I have is that a large body of troops have left here to go on the Burnside expedition but I do not know where they are going. 50,000 fifty thousand men that had been in camp within a mile of us left last Thursday. there was the 30th NY and a regiment called the Chauseurs and the 7th and 10th Mass and the 2nd Rhode Island. they only constituted one Brigade. the sharpshooters have gone across the Potomac and we expect to go south in a few days.

we had a review yesterday for the purpose of being attached to Gen Doubledays Brigade. I do not know whether we were accepted or not. we have not got our pay yet but the officers tell us we will get it in a short time. as soon as I get it I will send you some money. the weather is nasti here again. it snowed here last quite fast but now the snow is all gone.

I was on guard night before last and the man that relieved me was shot through the arm. they try to keep it as still as possible. it was about a quarter of a mile from camp and last night they called for Volunteers to take the post. they got six my self among them and about two o'clock I saw a man coming along toward me and I holled him and he snaked a pistol at me but it missed fire and then he started to run. I thought it was my time then so I let him have and wounded him in the leg. it proved to be a man that lives near here. we have him under close guard in our camp.

the weather is bad here yet last night it snowed, and to night we are having a thunder shower. you may send me 50 cents worth of postage stamps next time you write and I will make it right with you. I made out to get a stamp of one of the boys that sent home for them but I must stop now for it is most bedtime. give my best respects to all the friends in Milford

truly Cha W Devoe
fort Mass Washington D C Company K 76th Regt NY Vol in care of J W Young

April 17th 1862
Fort Mass Washington D C
Head quarters of the 76th Regt

Father and Mother

It is some time since I have heard from you. I have writen to you this makes the third time and no answer. it is quite warm weather here as warm as it is where you live the first of July. the peach trees are in blossom every thing is growing finely. the farmers here are not through their work yet though for the soldiers have made a great deal of extra work for them but up in Maryland they are through planting but they say it is a very late spring.

I have be answering some letters to Springfield and that while I had my hand in that I would write to you. I wrote to D Pruyn some time ago but have had no answer yet. we have not had our pay yet and another pay day is almost here so have patience and the money will be good when it comes I suppose.

John Newkirk is on his way home. we expect marching orders as soon as we get our pay at any rate. I do not know where they are going to take us. some say we are going to Manassas and some say to Chicago to guard prisoners. since I have been writing some say the pay master is on the ground. J F Newell is well and I guess the most of the boys in our company. I think there is only two in the hospital. I have been in hospital one day to help clean it up but I must stop now for to get dinner so that I can drill this afternoon. give my best respects to Uncle Cornelius folks and to Henrys and Bartletts and grandfathers folks and keep a share for your self write soon.

yours truly Chas W Devoe Camp K 76th Regt Frt Mass Washington D C in care of Capt J W Young

Pls send me the Cooperstown Papers with the particulars of the fire I have only seen a sketch of it in the Baltimore Papers Yours T. C.W. D.

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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- Last Updated December 24, 1999