Letters of Corporal Albert Hilton
Albert L. Hilton, private, enlisted October 29, 1861 at Starkey Station, NY, mustered in as private, Co. E, Ninety- third Infantry, Nov 20, 1861 at Cortland, NY; transferred to Co. A, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, January 1862; wounded and captured in action, July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa.; escaped, no date; promoted corporal, April 3, 1864; killed in action, may 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Va.
Maria and Louis D. Hilton parents of Albert lived in town of Orange, Schuyler County, NY during the war years.
Photo courtesy Jeff Kowalis
Camp of the 76 Near Pratts Pt. Va.
Sunday march 8th 1863
Dear Father and Mother
I hardly know how to express my thanks to you for the little expected box that just arrived in Such Splendid order. every thing is just as fresh & nice as when placed by your kind hands. I did not ans you letter of Feb untill yesterday but heard that the box was to the landing a for it was mailed. Also my tent mate Ben Carpenter of Dundee has just recd one and I assure you every thing in it nice & we Shall have may please thoughts of friends at Home while partaking of the luxuries.
Our new Commander we call old Joe & it is through his orders that we have express matter forwarded to us before government staset.
I may tell you what we are furnished with by the Government: Coffee Sugar Pork Soft bread beens 2 ea a week Potatoes and onions 2 ea a week and all the salt we can use as well as everything else. peper we have to by.
Again let me say please except many thanks from me for your kindness
From Washington express boxes are forwarded free by unkle Sam but please tell me what the express was to Washington.
We can cheer here by cheer here but fortunately I do not eat it at all drink Whiskey or tea but sometimes Coffee let me tell
It is time this morning that the mail leaves & I will close please a son
yours in haste A Hilton
Camp of the 76th N.Y.Vol
May 30th 1863
Your kind note of the 25th arrived after a due course of mail & I hasten to respond to its welcome arrival.
We are yet in the same camp & doing picket duty along the river 2 miles below Fredericksburg. I got a Richmond paper from there pickets the last time we was on picket & sent it Home with a Cortland paper which perhaps has been recd before this. I wish you to preserve the paper & not let it be torn if you can Although it will be quite a curiosity to all will be anxious to see it.
I am glad to hear that your health is better. I hope you will be able to write me a good long letter in as to this.
Are you lacking for postage & anything else? If so please tell me I will send $1.00 in this letter & if you want more let me know in your next.
My health is very good & we are having nice times but dont know how long it will last. No news of importance with us but we expect a movment soon.
Please ans soon & tell me all the news. Where does John Ward live now & is there any changes in Hornby? Does sarah Goodsell live at the Fisher yet?
I wrote & sent you the potograph of Gen Doubleday pleas tell me if it is recd.
Write Soon My respects to you with respect to all
Camp of the 76th N.Y. Vols
May 28th 1863
Your letter if the 15th arrived last night & as usual was favored with much indeed. It found us in Camp 4 miles below Fredericsburg & 1 1/2 miles from the river where we have been since the 7th. We are now doing picket duty along the river where we crossed Apr 29th The river is only about 12 or 15 rods wide we can talk to the rebbs without Speaking uncommon loud. There pickets Swim over every day & Some of our men Swim over to them & they both return without difaculty.
We Stood picket last Sunday monday & tuesday it was very warm & the river was full of boys in swiming all the time ours as well as the Rebbs. we Saw Several from a Ga Regt that engenired for the 24th Mich Regt. thay told us that thay was formerly from Detroit & were in Charles Co. at the time the Rebellion broke out & forced into the Service but expressed no great desire to leave the rebbs while in there presence but we shall look for them the first opertunity.
There has been quite a no. came over to us since we have been here. over 100 Swam across one night & Some of our pickets were badly surprised as they were new troops untill they found the rebbs unarmed. My health is very good except a very bad cold at present. We have a splendid camp in a grove of Small trees.
You tell me that there is many rumors afloat with you concerning the recent operations but we are perfectly satisfied even with our Success here saying nothing of the damage done by the cavelry both here & in Misippi
The gen health is good & we are having full rations as before. Our former Brigade Gen was promoted to Maj Gen last Spring. he was only Lieut in regular service at time of breaking out of rebellion & fired the first & last gun from Ft Sumpter. I will Send you his photograph taken when over us & also send you his farewell address to the Brigade copied by a member of our co which you will do me the kindness to preserve. (Hilton is referring to Genl. Abner Doubleday)
Hope this will find you well but guess that ma is not able to write yet as the last did not appear to be her writing. please tell me who wrote it. If you are short of money I will Send you Some. pleas tell me in your next. I have not forgot your kindness in sending box & will return the compliment if possible whenever an opertunity presents itself.
Pleas ans soon yours with respect
In the Rifle Trenches
June 5th 1864
Lewis Hilton Orange Schuyler Co. NY
I am in receipt of your letter of May 22, 1864 asking information in relation to your Son Albert. He was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness May 5th, 1864. There is no doubt about it.
He was Color Corporal and was shot through the Body and fell forwards on his face on the Colors of the Regiment. I did not See him after he fell, except for a few minutes. We were fighting all along the line for Several Days in Succession. He was buried in the Wilderness by the Ninth Corps as they afterwards occupied the same grounds fought over by the fifth Corps, by a change of corps in the prosecution of the Battle.
His effects that he had with him are a Watch and Diary. The Watch I have handed to George M Dewitt to be sent to you at the earliest possible moment. The Diary I retain in my possession for the Same purpose. The necessary papers will be forwarded to the Department at Washington as Soon as opportunity is affected.
It is impossible to furnish any papers now as our records are all to the Rear and can only be brought up by Military Order. I hope to write you more at length in relation to your son as soon as I have the opportunity. For the present we are fighting all of the time and have on time to write even to our friends.
truly your Obd. Servt
H.W. Pierce Capt. 76th N.Y. Vols
Deposition by George M. Dewitt April 19, 1880.
I was a Soldier in the 76th N.Y. Vol Co A and that I was well acquainted with Albert L. Hilton he being a Soldier in the same company and was with him in the battle of the Wilderness and on the 5th or 6th day of May 1864 Saw him when he was Shot I was very near to him and Saw him double over and fall he was carrying the colours at the time I could not get to him as the enimy was a little too much for us just then. I afterward obtained a diary that was in his coat shirt pocket (and not taken by the Rebbs) and Sent home to his father who still has the same I also got his watch which was in Courtland at that time for repairs and sent that home his Father still has the watch & also remember hearing him say a few days before the battle that he had sent some money home and he was a single man.
Other soldiers mentioned in the letters:
Herschel W. Pierce, age 42, enrolled, October 9, 1861, at Dundee, to serve three years; mustered in as second lieutenant, Co. A, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, January 16, 1862; as first lieutenant, March 11, 1862; as captain, December 20, 1862; discharged, October 10, 1864, near Petersburg, Va. Commissioned second lieutenant, January 17, 1862, with rank from January 13, 1862, original; first lieutenant, April 25, 1862, with rank from March 11, 1862, vice C.H. George resigned; captain, February 6, 1863, with rank from December 20, 1862, vice A.J. Grover, discharged.
Benjamin F. Carpenter, private, Co E, Ninety-third Infantry; transferred to Co. A, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, January, 1862; promoted corporal, prior to February, 1863; killed in action, July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, Va.
George M. Dewitt, age 24, enlisted at Orange to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. A, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, July 27, 1863; promoted corporal prior to April, 1864; transferred to Co. C, October 11, 1864; to Co. H, One Hundred and Forty-seventh Infantry, January 28, 1865.
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 May 12, 2001