Letters of  George and Theron Guernsey

George M. Guernsey, age 18(?), 5'5" tall, dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair, born West Groton, NY, farmer by occupation, enlisted September 14, 1861, at Freetown, to serve three years; mustered in as corporal Co. D, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, October 4, 1861; returned to ranks, April 25, 1862; died of disease, August 2, 1862, at hospital near Falmouth, Va. Prior service as private in Co. D, 12th NY Vol Infantry. Discharged from 12th NY as a minor, recorded age of 15 August 29, 1861. Note that one month after being discharged from the 12th NY for being only 15, he enlisted in the 76th New York, claiming to be 18. He is buried in grave 1226 in Poplar Grove Cemetery, Petersburg National Battlefield. 

Theron C. Guernsey, age 19, enrolled, September 14, 1861, at Freetown, to serve three years; mustered in as corporal, Co. D, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, October 4, 1861; promoted sergeant, October 1, 1863; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 2, 1864; promoted first sergeant, March 16, 1864; wounded in action, May 11, 1864, at Laurel Hill, Va.; mustered in as first lieutenant, Co. C, August 22, 1864; captured in action, October 1, 1864, at Poplar Grove Church, Va.; paroled, no date; discharged, May 18, 1865. Commissioned first Lieutenant, September 16, 1864, with rank from August 21, 1864, vice T.F. Welden killed in action. 

Larger version of picture above, from Regimental History.

Loretta M and Amasa C. Guernsey were the parents of George and Theron Guernsey, and Coleman, age 15; Matilda, age 12; Amasa age 10; James T., age 7. (ages quoted as of 1862) They lived in the 1860s in Freetown, Cortland County, NY.

Jan 23d 1862

Dear Parents

here we are on a lonely Isle in the harbor of New York, called Riker Island. we left N.Y. last tuesday and came here to be paid off and today thursday the 23rd we received our pay (38.13) thirty eight dollars and thirteen cents. George and I send home by our first Lieut. fifty dollars he will leave the letter to Barbers. I send 25 and George 25.

We are some twelve miles from New York City. we do not know how long we shall stay here, it may be four or five weeks. it is a pleasant place here. we started from New York about eleven oclock. it was mighty cold coming down here. we got here about three oclock. we had no dinner at all. we was here till the next day about night with out fire some got pretty cold, but I stood it pretty well. we are some twelve miles up the East River. we expect to join some expedition, but do not know for certain.

Jan 23

Dear Parents

I thought I would write you a few lines in this letter. I am well as I can be and weigh 160 lbs. I was weighed last Monday night at Barnums Museum. G.W. Hawley and I run the guard that night and got back without being discovered. we saw all the sights in the Museum, the Whale, big beard, Hippolamous, seal the fat woman also the theatre and every thing you can think of even old P T Barnum himself.

On saturday I went all around the city. on the Island where we are we can see all kind of craft from the three masted ship down to the one masted cutter and from the great steam ships down to the little steam tugs. thare is about 75 acres in this Island. I walkd around it once or twice every day. it is good exerise.

when we came here we passed Blackwells Island. I could see the convicts to work breakin the rocks. they had striped clothes on. they looks pretty cold. we are pretty near long Island. Flushing a place on it is in sight of heare. This Island belongs to the Col Riker and is named after him.

Write as soon as you get the money Direct to one of us New York City Co D 76 Reg NYS Vol

From G M & T C Guernsey To A C and L M Guernsey

Fort Slocum, May 16, 1862

Dear Parents I sit down in haste to enclose our drafts by allotment. George sends forty dollars two twenty dollar allotments Numbered as follows 112 & 324.

I send two one Twenty and the $12 dollars numbered 113 & 125 making thirty two dollars of mine, and seventy two in the whole you will get the money on them at any bank

I can not write any news at present but will write Sunday. we are going to the City to morrow we got our pay yesterday and today fifty two dollars in all, knowing that you will be glad to see it we remain

your Sons G.M.G. and T.C. Guernsey write immediately

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.

Taken March 9/64, 
Cortland Hills, N.Y.
T. C. Guernsey
Co. D, 76th NYSV
Image, case and lock of hair offered for sale on eBay.

George Guernsey's headstone, 
grave 1226 in Poplar Grove Cemetery, 
Petersburg National Battlefield. 

Theron Guernsey's grave, Marathon, NY 
photo courtesy Tom Canfield 

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- Last Updated December 1, 2008