Private John Harkin, Co. H

John Harkin, age 39, lived in New Berlin, NY at enlistment. He enlisted November 16th, 1861 at Cherry Valley, NY originally for the 39th NY Volunteer Infantry. They were consolidated into the 76th NY December 23, 1861. He was mustered in as a private Co. H, 76th NY on January 2nd 1862. He was captured at Battle of 2nd Manassas August 29, 1862 held prisoner to Oct 31, 1862; paroled, no date; he was reported to be sick in hospital at Washington, DC December 31, 1862; he was admitted to Post Hospital Convalescent Camp near Alexandria, VA January 15, 1863 with pleurisy and transferred, no date stated; entered Wolfe Street Branch of 1st Division General Hospital Alexandria, VA January 17th , 1863 with chronic rheumatism, and was returned to duty January 26, 1863. He re-entered Post Hospital, Convalescent Camp near Alexandria, VA on March 5, 1863 with conjunctivitis, and was transferred March 7, 1863 to Harewood General Hospital Washington, D.C. with general debility, and was discharged from service April 9th 1863 at Harewood Hospital, Washington, D.C. with full disability for military service and disability for regular occupation. Two letters were found in his wife's pension file for their son John H. Harkin of Co. C, 17th NY Volunteer Infantry who died on September 26, 1861 from typhoid fever.

New York State military service record indicates his name was John Harkins age 33 enlisting at New Berlin on December 23, 1861. His discharge gives correct spelling of name, age and enlistment as follows: John Harkin, age at enlistment 39, was 5' 9 " in height, light complexion, dark eyes and dark hair. He originally was enlisted Nov 16, 1861 at Cherry Valley by Martin R. Cleveland, later 1st Lt. Co. H, of 76th NY, into the 39th NY Vol Inf. which was later consolidated into Capt. Swan's company on December 23, 1861. He was born in Scotland.

Letter about John Harkin's travel from home [New Berlin, NY] to the 76th Regiment camp at Albany, NY. Letters were transcribed using original spelling, some of punctuation and capitalization have been changed for ease of reading.

Dec 1862

Maria Harkin

Maria, Maria Harkin I write to inform you how the times went since I left. We arived in Albany about 8 oclock and went to the Barucks which is 2 miles from Albany. There were 500 went from Cherry Valley and Mr. Cleveland did not get the captaincy, he is lieutenant. The Regt that we went into was the 39th [NY Vol. Inf.] but there were not men enough to make up the Regt and it was consolidated with the 76th and our company was transfered into the 76th Regt and they intend to leave from here the last of the week or the beginning of next. 

There are about 1,000 men in the Baracks. In this place there are 200 men in the same apartment where I am. They do not know where they are going. They think they are going to Florida to a place called Key West, farther South than any state in the union. Write as soon as this comes to hand as we may be off before your letter reaches me. 

There is a great many sick in the hospital. There [are] 2 of our company sick in the hospital. I was sick Saturday and Sunday but I am a little better now. There are so much noise in camp nights that we cannot sleep. 

Let me know if George [his son] has written, if he has send me the direction on the letter. Let me know how cold is. I have nothing particular to write at present. Edwin Waters wrote Monday morning he is well but was sick.

Letter from John Harkin - unsigned

Following letter gives information about the 76th stay at Rikers Island.

Camp Riker Island
76th Regt. Comp. H
Jan 26th, 1862

 Mrs Harkin, Madam 

I wish to inform you where I have been since I left New Berlin Jan 8th. We encamped in Albany untill the 18th when we went to New York and staid untill the 21st when we went to Riker Island 10 miles from New York. It is an island situated in the Sea the ocean surounds it on all sides. It [is] a cold dreary place in winter the Baracks is very cold the rain and cold comes in through every seam. 

I do not know how long we will be here. When we left Albany they said we were going to Florida. We may not be here but a few days and we may be here a week I cannot tell how long. there are a good [amount] of sickness here all from colds. Lewis Blackman, Charle Davis, George Bosworth, Ediwn Waters all of our company have been in the hospital. 

This is the 2d letter I have sent and have recvd no answer. I wrote you before I left Albany. We get up at 5 oclock in the morning and the lights are all put out at 9 P.M. 

There are no good water here as it is all salt water. They make the coffe in salt water but I do not take any of it, it makes the Boys all sick. 

We do not drill but very little here as the weather is so very cold. The breese of [off the] beech is very cold. There are pleanty of clams and oysters here. 

I have nothing of importance to write at present. I send my love to all the children to Susan Waldo, Libe, Lewis, Charley and Alice. Tell them to be good children let me know if Waldo is got well. Let me know if George has written yet .If he has let me know where he is or send me the directions. 

I have a very hard cold ever since I came here but it is a general complain here as there are 100 men in the one apartment and I have to write this on my nee and now having no more to say at present but hoping to find you all in good health I bid you all good by.

John Harkin

Direct your letter 
Care of Capt
A.L Swan
Co. H 76th Regt NYV
Riker Island
Better observe the directions


Scan of the letter showing "New York Loyal to the Union" letterhead


John Harkin married Mary Lewis, both of Roseville (which became Chaseville) on October 30, 1842 at Schenevus, NY by Jacob Follett acting Justice of the Peace in Otsego Co., town of Maryland. The Harkins had the following children: 

Letters courtesy B. Conrad Bush, who notes:

I was researching another soldier John H Harkin of the 17th NY Vol Inf and it turns out his father was John Harkin of the 76th NY, Co. H. The son's pension file included two letters from his father while a member of the 76th NY. I have transcribed them and added information about him and his family from the pension file.

His name, age and enlistment info is not correct on the rolls of the 76th. It should be "Harkin."

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- Last Updated February 3, 2009