Letters to the Cortland Gazette and Banner
from "JFP" (John F. Potter, Co. A)

January, 1862

January 9, 1862
VOL I, No. 15
Pg. 1, Col 3

From our Regular Correspondent

Camp Rathbone
Head-Quarters, 76 Regiment
Albany, January 1st, 1862


Before your readers will have received the first issue of the Gazette and Banner in the new year, multitudes of people will have celebrated the chief festivals of Christendom for the one thousand eight hundred and sixty- first time. Hallowed as these Festivals are with sacred associations, and dear as they ever must be with memories of home and gentle fellowship, those days will be dark ones in our history when these holidays shall not be celebrated with the fitting observances of the household and social circle. Bus, alas, for the 25 of December, 1861, and the 1st of January 1862! They were not such light-hearted radiant times as the golden chain of the Festivals which stretch backward into the long ago. A strange sarcasm of the text "Peace on Earth", is the state of affairs throughout the civilized world to-day. The very elements of national life seem everywhere to meet in the fervent heat of evil passion. The very atmosphere is pregnant with war, and all over our beloved land clouds of trouble and disaster have gathered from every quarter of the sky. How pitying that over half a million of those who kept these holidays with their friends at home, a year ago, spend their holidays amid the dreary camp fires, and dreams made incomplete now by their absence may never again be perfected.

Speaking of Christmas, reminds me of a package certain individuals of the "76th" received the other day, from Cortland, directed as follows:

"Mr.-------, Care of Capt. -------, Albany,

United States,

North America,

Abe Lincoln, President."

Upon the inside of this neatly arranged and ever memorable bundle, which contained many nice things "too numerous to mention," was found the pleasing inscription, "A MERRY CHRISTMAS -SANTA CLAUS" - Didn't the boys hearts leap into their throats in the promulgation of its contents? Didn't they laugh and kick up, wondering who "under heaven" they could come from' and as one by one the beautiful presents were dealt out, what a perfect ocean of guesses and wagers were made as to who the fair donors that were, were so modest at their extreme generosity as not to portray their pretty names. But if anybody in Cortland knows where they come from, the boys want they should wish the senders late merry Christmas, and

Untainted by a base alloy,
in this new year that's now begun,
And may it prove their happiest one.

We are glad to have been the happy recipient of one of these favors. He must be a very contemptible person to whom the very footfalls of these winter holidays are not welcome. Even to the sugar ear of the child, they have a sweeter sound than Aeolian harps emit; and when these who have crossed the silvery threshold of youth, and began life in earnest hear them at a distance, their hearts are suddenly haunted by remembrances as rosy as aurora, and as golden as the sunset - remembrances that go to make up the wealth of existence; while the old men and women love them for the sake of the dear old past, for the warm and livid colors which they so freely lay upon the canvases of the present. We pity the heart that Christmas and New Year's does not make happy and tender, even tho they be soldiers. He who is conscious of the fulfillment of his duty towards God and his Country, has more reason to be happy than he who squanders his life-work in negligence and vice. The giving of a present is like the earl who used, on frequent occasions to drop golden coin upon the way most frequented by his pesantry. It will only be known hereafter how many eyes have been brightened and how many hearts have been made happy, by means of such intrinsic generosity.

But you are doubtless acquainted with the most important item of news, that I might write this week, for you have already wasted quantities of powder, and I don't know how much money, in celebrating the event that I would chronicle as the principal topic of interest. You are anticipating what i have reference to, and I hear you repeat, "Tis the Colonel's victory."

Certainly it is and it may well be termed a victory, and a noble one too. After several days hard fighting with a perfect ho-bed of secessionist and traitors, Col. Green has triumphed and his praise sounded upon the lips of every gallant heart of the 76th, and his victory perched upon their pointed bayonets; while hundreds from Albany to Cortland have shouted forth the joy of their hearts over the glad news. "Our Colonel, or nothing," was printed indelibly upon the countenances of all for many an anxious day, and it was when the Colonel went through the barracks, and the boys understood that he was reinstated, that such a volley of cheers went up as seemed almost to rend the air in twain, a burst of ecstasy and satisfaction that never before or ever will again make the barracks ring with such a resound of excellent voices.

I shouldn't wonder if "R.S.R's" prediction has proved true, from all accounts from Cortland, viz; that "three times three cheers have split the sky from Albany to Cortland, and set these barracks at Camp Campbell, laughing till they split their clap board sides." But save the pieces boys, "it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good". The clouds have cleared away the sunshine has broke thro' the mists that have observed the horizon for a period but all moved off cheerfully again. Were all jubilant and happy, and that's enough, - "Viva La, Colonel, et viva id, Seventy- Sixth," say we.

I have nothing especially now to say regarding the general condition of our Regiment. Our provender is passably good.- Cold weather has evidently set in in good earnest, and the boys are eager for a speedy march, ut whether they'll get it is more than can be told now. They need all the covering that can be brought to bear upon them, and more too, but they are tolerably comfortable considering the great change of weather here, to what it was in Cortland. At midnight as the sentry walks his lonely rounds, his thoughts often revert to other lands, and other scenes, and when one cold freezing night is followed by another more freezing, then it is that tip untried soldier thinks of his home, and the comforts it gave, and almost involuntarily hears himself breaking the dead silence of the night with this exclamation, "Give me a blanket if you have one to spare." But the men of the 76th are not so unworthy of the No. they bear, as to grumble. The sacrifices they have cheerfully and willingly made, and would be repeated to-morrow did our country's good call for it. Several of the boys are now at the Hospital sick. Among these who have been the worst, are Martin Edgcomb and Stephen N. Stone, from Cortland, two of Company A's men. We are all anxiously hoping for their speedy recovery. The former has had the diphtheria, the latter inflammation of the lungs, but both are now doing well. If we, as a Regiment, ought to be thankful for one thing, it is for the excellent care the men have. No mothers' or sisters' hands could administer to the wants of our sick better than the aid rendered at the Hospital. It is conducted by the finest ladies of Albany, and certainly they are faithful to the trust imposed upon them.

Company H, Capt. McNett, has been transferred to the 93d., Washington County Regiment. It is reported that some 400 men from Otsego County is coming on to join us in a few days, and that we are to move south within ten days. On Monday last, a body of our men, together with an artillery company, and our martial band, marched to Albany to attend the funeral of a young man whose body was sent on from Washington, who resided and enlisted in Albany.

Yesterday afternoon the Seventy-Sixth had the honor of being addressed by Colonel Mulligan, the gallant hero of Lexington.- He was in company with Mayer Thatcher and Brig. Gen. Rathbone. He was introduced to the 76th by Col. Green, when the boys gave him three rousing cheers. The Colonel is a noble looking man; his eyes sparkle with Union fire; and he is a fine speaker withal. He and his wife are stoping at the Delevan.

The visits, as yet, from Cortland County people, have been "few and far between," but the hearty shakes of the hand which greeted Hon. Horatio Ballard, and M.D. Murphy, Esq., will make up for those we have'nt seen yet. Come on, friends, we shall be farther from you soon than we are now, and if you have friends here you want to see again, come quickly.

To-day is New Year's, Albany is all alive with soldiers, politicians, broadcloth and silk laces. The day is hazy and moderating, and anybody and everybody who owns or can borrow or hire anything in the shape of horse-flesh, is dashing thro' the streets at a fearful speed.

As I write, the 76th, and 93d Regiments, numbering over 1500 men, are just returning from a march thro' Albany. In their route they called on Governor Morgan, the officers, shook hands with him while the men cheered him, next they marched around in front of the Delevan House, when speeches were made by Secretary of State, Ballard, and Col. James Mulligan, after which they refrained to the mansion of Clark B. Cochrane Esq., Colonel Green's counsel on the late trial, who also made a handsome little speech. After cheering, the men took up their line of march back to Camp Rathbone, some fatigued, yet very much pleased with the New Year's calls they had made.

I had almost forgotten to return thanks to the patriotic ladies of Cortland for the acknowledged receipts to Company A, of forty pair of mittens. Hoping to have occasion to speak of further acts of similar kindness on their par. I remain,

Yours, for the Country,

(assumed to be John F. Potter, Co. A)

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