Editor’s Note: This item is part of a collection of letters from New York engineers written while their units were at the Siege of Petersburg. Researcher and Engineer enthusiast Dan O’Connell generously donated all of the items in this collection for use at The Siege of Petersburg Online. These transcriptions are copyrighted by Brett Schulte and may not be used without my express written consent. I do not have images of these letters so some errors could be from transcription or in the original.
Letter from the 50th Engineer
HD’RS 3D BAT’N, 50TH N. Y. ENG’RS.
AMONG THE PINES, JULY 13, 1864
Tonight finds ten companies of our regiment comfortably situated—if you call it comfort to slowly melt away ’till there is hardly enough of you left to make a good sized shadow—in a small pine grove, but a short distance from Gen. Meade’s headquarters, engaged in making gabions for the siege of Petersburg, and before many days I hope to be able to say that the siege has been successful, and the city in our hands. Yesterday the 3d corps abandoned the extreme left after destroying the works they had thrown up, and now lie about seventy-five rods ahead of us in rear of the 5th corps. Lieuts. Packard and Leavitt, of the 86th, took tea with us this afternoon. They are looking well and hearty. I visited the 64th N.Y. and had the pleasure of shaking hands with Major Glenny, Capt. Fasset and Lieut. Lincoln—all as black and plucky as the revised army regulations require.
The glorious Fourth was duly celebrated by the 50th. Major Brainerd, of the 1st Battalion, invited the officers of the regiment to a Reunion dinner at his quarters. About forty of us met there, and with a few other invited officers, at half past three o’clock, we sat down to a sumptuous dinner that in the field would be hard to beat. Below I give you the “bill of fare.”
FOURTH OF JULY, 1864.
Reunion of the officers of the 50th N. Y. Eng’rs
“BILL OF FARE.”
Roast Beef—Boiled Ham—Baked Pork and Beans—Beef Steak and Onions—Fried Pork and Liver—Raw Onions sliced in Vinegar—Boiled Onions—Pickled Tongue—Mashed Potatoes—Tomatoes—Succotash—Coffee.
Warm Biscuits and Butter—Boiled Rice and Cream Sauce.
Claret and Ice—Lemonade (new) 1864—Lemonade with a stick in it—Whiskey, (a la commissary)—Whiskey and Aqua Pure, 1864—Spiritus Fermenti (1246)—Whiskey (Long Range) 134 B. C.—Ale.
The band of the 2nd N. Y. Heavy Artillery enlivened the affair with some excellent music, and a quartette composed of members of the band, sang several popular pieces among which were “Johnny Schmoker” and “Kingdon Coming”—both being loudly applauded. Speeches were made by Lieut. Col. [Ira] Spaulding, Major [George] Hogg, 2d [New York] H[eavy]. A[rtillery]., Lieut. Col. [Francis A.] Walker[,] A. A. Gen. on Gen. [Winfield Scott] Hancock’s staff, Major [Wesley] Brainerd and others. Late in the evening the party broke up, all feeling happy, and voting the Major to be a “jolly good fellow” as well as a brave and efficient officer. While I write not a gun is to be heard—but then there is no knowing what the night may bring forth.—Hoping the Rebs may go so far into Pennsylvania that they cannot get out again. I will say good night and seek my bed of—down on the ground.
YOURS TRULY, Lieut. Co. M.1
Potential “Lieut. Co. M” Candidates:
AUSTIN, EDWARD B.—Age, 30 years. Enlisted, January 2, 1864, at Owego; mustered in as private, Co. M, to date January 2, 1864, to serve three years; first -lieutenant, to date April 28, 1864; dismissed, November 7, 1864; commissioned first lieutenant, March 30,1864, with rank from March 17,1864, original.
DUDLEY , GEORGE T.—Age, 23 years. Enrolled, February 19, 1864, at Elmira; mustered in as first lieutenant, Co. M, February 19, 1864, to serve three years; mustered out with company, June 13,1865, at Fort Barry, Va.; prior service, first lieutenant, One Hundred and Third Infantry; commissioned first lieutenant, June 12, 1865, with rank from May 18,1865; original.
WALDO, LUCIUS.—Age, 36 years. Enrolled, February 19, 1864, at Elmira; mustered in as second lieutenant, Co. M , February 19, 1864, to serve three years; cashiered, October 18, 1864; commissioned second lieutenant, February 5, 1864, with rank of same date.
- “Lt. Co. M” “Letter from the 50th Engineer.” Letter to Friend Fairman. 13 Jul. 1864. MS. Petersburg, Va. This letter, which looks like it was copied out of a newspaper, appears here courtesy of Dan O’Connell, who has a large collection of letters from Union Engineers during the Civil War. ↩
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