Letters of Privates Edward and Luther James

Edward James, age 19, son of Jane and Henry James, enlisted September 14, 1861, at Freetown, NY to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. D, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry October 4, 1861 at Cortland, NY; captured in action, August 29, 1862, at Bull Run, Va.; paroled, no date; reenlisted as a veteran, January 2, 1864; killed in action, May 5, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness, Va.

John Luther James, age 18, enlisted September 14, 1861, at Freetown, NY, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. D, 76th NY Vol Infantry, October 4, 1861; discharged, October 24, 1864 near Petersburg, Va.

Edward and his family lived in Marathon, NY prior to his going into the service and he worked for wags by the day for James Guy and John Richardson. He supported his parents, before enlistment, and gave an allotment of $10 a month to them while in the service. His bounty of $1000 was given to his parents who used it to buy a farm.

The following information was taken from Jane James pension application 248708, certificate number 188974 which is now in the National Archive at Washington, D.C.

Camp Near Pratts Point, Va.
January th 18, 1862

Dear Father Mother

As I have the time to spare I will writ to you but I hardly know what to writ. I reseved a leter from you and was glad to hear from you. I received a leter from you this morning with 24 postage stamps in it 12 of them was for me and 12 for luther. I was glad to have you send them for thar is none down here. I sent you a leter yestday with $60 dolers in it for you and you can go to H J Mesenger Bank and draw the muny on it. when you get the muny on the check I wish that you would send me five dolers out of it. send it in government muny for thar is nothing else that will pass her. I would like to have you writ to me and tell me wether that the folks around thar is ded or live. writ all of the news and all that is goin on thar.

we will leave her to morrow. we have got to go to gordonsvill to drive the Rebels out of that city. we under tuck to Drive the Rebels out of the city of fredricksburg but turn back. tant enyways likel that we will go in winter quarters a tall this winter for they have got the Army divided up so thay can go in eny parts of Va whar the Rebels can go. Genril Rosincrant has had prety good luck in wester tensee. he has have the Rebels in retret at several points in wester tensee but tant enyways likle that we shall drive the Rebels at gordonsville for thay are strongly fortify thar. so this may be the last leter that I shal ever writ home but if so missforthingly that I get kill you must chares the loss for it is for my cuntry that I am fight. so now good buy.

yours truly Edward James

Continuation of letter from January 18, 1862.

Camp Near Prats Point, Va.

Daear Father and Mother

As Edwad was writing to you I thought that I would writ to you or have Edward writ in my place I cam up thar this morning and Edward was writing and I could not stay a great while so I tol Ed to writ in my place i have been so busy that I could not writ to you or eny one els for the last past three weeks as we move we are going to face the ennemy at gordingsvill I want you to writ to us often as you can I am well and harty as a buck so I must stop now pleas direct your leters to Edward James or Luther James Washington, D.C. 76th NY Co. D so good Buy this is from Edward James and Luther James

Rikers Islan
Januare 29th 1862

Dear Father and Mother

I take the opertuenty to writ to you and let you (know) that I am well at present. Henry and Luther are well to and enjoy good helth. we all go to leave here tomorrow we are going on to Washington and I have drawn my pae and I am going to send home $25 doolers and I send this muny home to you and if you will take care of this muny for me I will when pay you well for it but if you cant get along with out using it you may use it and we know you can use it and when I come home you can pay it if you are a minty if not you needent never pay it.

if I ever return home it will feel some good and if I never return home it may do you some good come to think of it you may use it and then if we all get kilt you will hav the muny.

we left Albany the 12th of January at 5 o'clock at nite and we got to New York Januare the 13 1862. We staid thar to New York over Sundy and Mond and tuesty we left for Rikers Island and we stay till this time and we started for Washinton to morrow and this probebly this will be the last time that I will have the opertuent of writing to you again and if it ant the last time that I have to writ home you must not writ untill I writ agane and tell you all have to direct your leters I will writ as soon as I get to Washington probley we all will all be discharg when we get to Washington and if we are not discharge until the three years we all will come home agane.

So I must bring my leter to the close I send my love to you all so good buy

Edward James

Washington Februare 18th 1862

My Dear Folkes and Mother

I take the opertuenty to writ to you and let you now that I am well at present and I hope that this leter will find all the folks the same. I receved your leter Febuare the 10 and was glad to here from you and was glad to here that you was well. you sant that Safrone had run away with Ancel Snow to parts unnown. thay all is wishing whare that Ancel said that he was going in the spring when David Hostid sold out his farm but he sold out his farm and thay have stool the muny and run away with it and I am glad of it becose he nust noon that it was all that Snow and Rab Mick Dold wanted was his muny it was contseve up with Rob and Ancel Snow. you said that you received a check of twenty five doolers. you said that you havd pay up my Docter bill and want to now what that you should do with the rest of the muny. you can do wit it as you please. we are going to draw some more pay the first of March and then I shal send home some more muny and then you can have it with if you please and you dont please to save it you can do as you please with it.

we live furst rate we have pork boiled or fresh all jest as we want it. we can have beaf boiled or frit beafe or corn beafe. we have one lof of bred to last one soldier twenty fore ours. we can draw ornges or malases. this morning I draw to pound of beaf stake for my breakfast and diner and to guart of coffee one half pound of suger one pound and a half of potatoes for twenty fore our.s we draw three pounds of bred one pound of sugar three guart of coffee three pound of potatoes three pound of beef that is for twent four ours. we cant grussed with that. I like to live here first rate. Nathon you sad that you had gout you -------- be caref with it and see it dont shout to both ends.

June the 8, 1862

Dear Father and Mother

It is with much plesher that I set down to writ to you to let you know that I am well at present.

we is now down in the sothern states whar the Rebels is thick as hars on a dog. We left Washington D.C. a week ago last thursday for Fredricksburg witch we arrived thar on Saterday. we tuck the steam boat at Washington and went to Ackey Creek thar we got off from the steam boat and stayed all night but we slept on the ground that night. for the Furst time since that we inlisted the next day we started out we march that day till jest night we stop at the Gaines Mils in Virginia. the teams did not come up yet and we being hungre we killed a good nice hog and built a fire and rosted it then we lay down on the ground to sleep but it rained so we could not sleep a --- of a bit.

the next day we started out. we march all day in the rain. we arrived at Fredricksburg that day and slept on the wet ground again. the next day Sunday we marched agin to Kings headquarters. thar we stay that night. the next day we moved again over the to the 86 N.Y. Vols Camp. thar we stay over night then we moved from thar to the Raperhanick River to guard the Bridge. we was guarding one that was built of canal boats. we stay on the boats for our quarters but last Wensday the water rased and tuck all of the Briges of that were behind us and the flood wood came down against ours and took that away. some of the boys was on the boats they went down to Fortsplane about twenty miles down the river but have --- of and the steam boats have fetch them back again. we are in the City now in the large brick -------

When I was at Fort Slocum I sent you two checks one twenty dolers check and one 12 dolers check and have not heard from them yet. pleas writ to me and let me know if you have got them. Tell James guy Folks to writ to me

Pleas direct your leters to Mr Edward James Washington, D.C. Dobeldays Brigade 76 Regtment Co, D in care of Captain C L Watrous

Nathan you must writ to me and so you must William. as quick as I can get some muny I will get my likeness taken and sent it Home to you all. so good by

yours truly
Edward James

Head Quarters of the 76th NY Vol
Near Culpepper Court House Va.
Feb the 25th 1864

Dear Brothers

I take the oportunity of writing to you Both. as I was writing home to father and the letter that I got from father last part of the paper that I was fill up with your wrighting and save up. the paper was fill up with Williams writing and I can see that he improves and has writen every day and so do you. to Nathan thar is now snow hear and have not eny this winter to speak of. the Citisans say that they never seen such wether this time a year before in thar lives. you must excuse me for such writing as this for I am a awfull hurry to get through. I have got to go to forage to night. yet after a lode of forge and it is after Nine o'clock for to night. I must stop now. writ soon

Yours awls
Edward James

Camp of the 76 Regiment N.Y.S. V.
Near Culpeper Court House Va.
Feb 25 1864

Dear Parents

I reseved your letter last night and was glad to hear from you. you wrot to me and tole me that you had to make out fifty dollars the first of April and that you wanted to me to send you fifty dollars so that you could have it to pay torge the place. Father I have the muny but dast not send it on the count that some one would take it out of the letter while on the road. I am waiting to com home and fetch it home. I have had it over five weeks keeping on purpose of coming home and fetch it withe me but dont know when that will be for thar is now prospect of geting this winter.

we have been promest one at three or four differnt time, this winter and have not got eny yet. we are waiting for some of the other Veterans to com back before that we can com but enerate I will keep the muny until com home or not I will keep it until I see if I will get the furlough before the first of April and if I dont com home before that time I will send it to you see that you can have it to pay in torge the place Father as longe as I have muny and you want it you shall have it. that stipient of relistment to be taken care of for if thar is eny chance of geting my Town or County Bounty that will be all that I will have to show for to get it and I want you to find out wether that the Veterans in the field is titled to the County or Town Bounty. if they are please writ to me and let me know and if they dont get the Bounty as four said writ to all so for if they cant pay the County or Town Bounty I dont care about coming home until fall. But if the Veterans get the county and Town Bounty I want to com home. the quicker the beter.

writ soon
Good By
Edward James

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 January 9, 1999