Letters of Private James McChesney

James McChesney, born November 1844, age 19, enlisted at Buffalo, NY, to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. A, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry, August 7, 1863; transferred to Co. I, October 11, 1864; retransferred back to Co. A, December 1, 1864; transferred to Co. B, One Hundred and Forty-seventh Infantry, January 28, 1865; wounded in back at battle of Petersburg, Va. March 30, 1865 and died at Campbell Hospital, Washington, D.C. May 28, 1865 from his wounds.

The following information was listed in Elizabeth McChesney's pension application filed December 29, 1882.

James' mother Elizabeth and father William were married September 18, 1843 in Glascar, Ireland by the Rev. James Rodgers. They immigrated to Canada andin the 1860's were living in the town of Port Hope, County of Durham in the Province of Canada. Prior to enlisting James worked in his father's carpenter shop. The family consisted of the following children:

James Andrew, born April 1848 died July 19, 1849.

William, born May 1851, unmarried, and a carpenter by trade; living in Town of Peterbororgh in the County of Peterborough.

Lizzie, born in August 1854; married to William Chislett, a laborer of Port Hope and living at Port Hope.

John, born in July 1856; married and living at the City of Chiago.

Robert, born August 1858; died July 15, 1865.

Maggie, born in May 1860, now living with her mother and father at Port Hope.

Lena, born in September 1862, now living with her mother and father in Port Hope.

Samuel, born December 1864; died December 24, 1866.

Sarah, born August 1866, now living with her mother and father at Port Hope.

Camp of the 76th Regt. Near Hancock's Station, Va.
January 1st 1864

Dear Father

i now Sit to answer your kind Letter that i Received Sometime ago But i Havent Had any chance to answer it untill now We Have Been verry Bissy for the past 2 Weeks a Building Winter Quarters. This is the Secont time that We have Built quarters this Winter.

We had to leave the first ones and go on a Rail to tear up the Weldon Railroad. We tore up 30 miles of it and Burnt every Dwelling and out Buildings as We Went. We went 30 Miles Dident meet With much force But Garillies and they cut a Great many of our Poor Boys throats from ear to ear those that had to fall to the Rear on account of Being tired out. the Garillies take no Prisoners But Kill all that fall into their hands.

the Wetheris verry cold here to Day almost as cold as in canada. We have verry comfortable log huts But cannot Stay in them long at a time. it is first fatique then Pickett they are Bound to keep us at Somthing all the time. Where is Hugh Mchesny? is he at home? tell me in your next letter.

We Was mustered yestarday for 4 months pay. i think we Will Be paid the middle of this month. When we Get Paid i Will Send you a Green back i Shall try and Get a furlough next month. i think they ought to give me one i have Ben in every fight that this Regt has Been in Since i came to it. father i Sent you $40 dollars in all 20 each time tell me if you get it there is a great many loses mony When they Send it. i Want to know When i Send you mony if you get it and how much you get. father i Will Close Hoping to get a Speedy answer give my love to Mother and the Children. Dont fail to take a portion your Self.

Now i Will Bid you all good By. this from your Well wishin Son

James Mchesny

Direct as Before only to Co. H Dont fail to Write and Oblige your son who is far away

Near Petersburg, Va.
Sept 4th 1864

Dear and not forgotten Father

it is with Pleasure that i Pen you a few lines to let you know that i Still live and am well.

i am A Soldier i Belong to the 76 NY Vols. i came in the Service over a year ago. i Have Ben in many a Hard Battle this Summer But Havent Been Hit as yet while our Poor Boys have fell all around me.

when we Started last Spring we had a 6 hundred in our Regt now there is about 100 Left. the wrest are Killed or wounded. i often think of home But it will Be Sometime Before i can See any of my Dear friends if ever.

i Have 2 years to Serve yet if this cruel war Lasts. i think this Summer will tell the story. i mean if we get a Democrat President. tell me How all the Boys are of my acquaintence. i Shant write much this time if you get this and answer it i will write more next time.

Give my Love to mother and all the children this from your Son

James Mchesney

Direct Company A 76th NY Vol 2 Divison 2 Brigade 5 Corps Washington, D.C.

Holding the Weldon R R Near Petersburg, Va.
Oct the 5 (1864)

Dear Parents

your kind and most Welcome Lettter came to Hand Last eavening i was verry Happy to Hear from you and to Hear that you were all alive and well. my Health is verry Good. i hope this will find you all well.

father i Have Ben in Several Hard fights since i Last wrote to you But i am Still Sparred. i was in a fight Last Saturday. our Regt Lost Heavy killed wounded and taken Prisoners i think 30 or 40. our loss was light to Some of the regt.

Please tell me Where Walter Waller is. give me His address so i can write to him. tell me How my uncle is getting along. give me all of the news father. i only got 25 dollars for comming and i Had all of that Stole But 25 Dollars Father i will Send you 20 Dollars in this and as Soon as i gt an answer i will Send you 20 more. tell me How Tom is getting along. i wrote a Letter to Charley Waller. Did his folks get it?

father i want you to write as Soon as you get this No more this time.

from your Son James Mchesney

Direct to Co A 76 NY Vols Washington, D.C. 3 Brigade 3 Division 5 Army Corps

Weldon Station Near Yellow House Virginia
Sunday Oct 20th 1864

Dear Parents

While Sitting in my Little log Hut and thinking of Home i Will Send my thoughts to write a few lines to you all. the Best news i can write is that i am Well Hoping this will find you all enjoying the Good Health. father i Wrote to you Some 4 Weeks ago and Sent you $20 Dollars But Havent Received any answer from it.

Please Write to me after. it is one of the greatest Pleasures that a Soldier enjoys to read letters from Home and know that their friends are all Well. i Want you to give me Walter Wallers Direction So i can Write to Him also tell me Where Charles is in What Batallion or Brigade or Regt he is in.

Give me all the news that is worth notice. is there many Scandles in Canad now? is there as as many Boats Running from Oswego as there Was When i was at Home? i wish i was in Oswego to Day. you Would Soon See me at Home. is there many enlisting in Canada now?

Father i will Close Hoping to Hear from you soon this from your Well wishing Son James Mchesney to father and mother

Dont fail to answer Soon and oblige your Lonesome Son

Hoping to Hear from you Soon

U.S Christian Commission

5th Corps Field Hospital near Rowanty Creek Va.
Apr 2d 1865

My dear Father,

I receive your kind letter but did not have time to answer it. I was wounded March 31 in the shoulder near the shoulder blade and the ball came out on the other side lower down. Do not think it hit the backbone, nor do I think it went inside, but I cannot tell.

I am very sick and cannot write much. I had One Hundred and Twenty Dollars when I was wonded and the Jonnies got it all.

Pleas write me at City Point Hospital, Va. where I expect to be removed to very soon probably in a few hours. If I should be removed further north it will be forwarded to me. I will try to write you again as soon as I can.

Affectionately your son
James McChesney per J.B. Hall Tomhannock, Va.

(This letter was written by J. B. Hall for James.)

Campbell Hospital Washington, D.C. Ward No 17
April th 7 1865

Dear Father

I now take my pen in hand to writ a few lines to you to let you no how I am geting a long, my wound is doing very well, I am in a very good hospital, I hav good care, and good vituals to eat, How is mother and all the children at home. Was thare many solgers drafted over in Canada this suma What kind of times are you having at home this spring.

I was wonded March 31st I was wonded in the morning and was oblig to lay on the field untill night, while I lay thare our men fell back and the rebs came up and I fell in there hands and they robed me of one hundred and twenty dollars, it is raining here to day the grass looks very grean, Peach trees are in full blosum,

yours truly
James Mchesney

Please direct to Mr James Mchesney Campbell Hospital Washington D.C. Ward No 17

Pleas right to your son as soon as you receave this.

Writen By J F Wixson 107 NY Vols Co. F


Campbell Hospt. Washington,
April 21, 65

Dear Father

I received your vary Kind letter a day or to hence was glad to hear that you was well. I am better now than when I last wrote to you. I am wounded in a bad Place to heal vay fast but in time I am in hopes to become Sound a gain.

I am wounded in my back the ball Passing near the back bone on inner side of the back bone. I am unable to help my Self to be turned in bead by my nurce. I hav no use of my leggs atall. I have quite good appitite feel vary well at heart considering my Situation.

Father I want you to write and let me Know wether any of the boys have enlisted about them and who they are if any hav enliste lell me their names

tell Mother I Should like to See her and all of you. I Send my love to you all in this letter and also to all who may enquire after me dont borrow any trouble about me. I vary well cared for and am gaining Slowly. hop to See you all again remember me and write soon and often and you Shall hear from me again Soon. direct your letters to Campbell Hospital Washington D C Ward 17

yours in lov
James Mchesney

Sanitary Commission Campbell Hospital, Washington, D.C.
Ward No 17
May 11, 1865

Dear father, sir.

I now take my pen in hand to right a few lines to you to let you no how I am geting along I am geting along as well as cold be expected of me, altho my wound is very bad yet. I am almost intirely helpless. I hav scarcely no use of my legs atall.

I am a great Deal stronger than I was when I riten to you last. i think within to or three weaks I shall be able to sit up some I wold like to have you tell me how Jane Mchesney is geting a long now days how is Michy Black and John rites is giting a long now days

Are they inlisting any solgers around there now days, how is times there, how is it for work now days, they are discharging all solgers now in hospital, I shall hav mine as soon as I am able to travel. We are having very nice and cool weather here now days, very nice weather for the many wounded that lay helpless on there beds, I hav no more that wold be interesting to you so I will close for this time, hoping to hear from you soon, yours truly,

James Mchesney

To Wiliam Mchesney This riten by J F Wixson 107th NY Vols my respects to you, goodby

Campbell Hospital
May 21st 1865

Mr. Mchesney

Dr Sir

I have seated this morning to write you in answer to your letter to your son. he recieved your letter and was glad to hear from home once more.

his health is not as good as when he wrote before. he has been confined entirely to his bed and has bed sores more painful then his wound which I believe is getting a long as well as could be expected. his wound effects Spine therefoe has no power over his lower limbs.

he is in a deplorable condition. to live he never would be any comfert to himself nor to his friends and the Docter says that he cannot live many days. he is failing fast. he has to be turned every 5 minutes. they have a comfertable bed as can be fixed. he is now on a Water bed which is very comfertable. they take as good care of him as you could if you had him at home so you need not wery about him for they are doing every thing that can be done for any boddy.

You need not build yourself up with the hope of evr seeing him a live because he may not live therefore we will have to submit to the divine ruler who ruleth for the best and think that our loss of him on Earth is his gain in Heaven. he I believe is resigned to God's will I think he has a hope of going to a better world where there is no separating of friends.

I will now close he sends his undieing love to you all and Still hopes to see you all on earth Written for James Mchesney by a friend in the Hospital

Most respectfully Oliver C Clark

PS If he dies you will be notified as soon as possible ther after.

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 26, 1999