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LT: August 18, 1864 Cornelius Houghtaling

Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Melissa Mastronardi, the great great granddaughter of Cornelius Houghtaling, for granting me written permission to publish her ancestor’s letter.  This letter, including the images and the transcription, are owned by Melissa’s mother Diane Newman Mastronardi and may not be reproduced without her written permission.  All rights reserved.

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Redoubt Carpenter1
August 18/[18]64

Dear Brother,

I recieved your kind and Welcom letter of the 10th [August 10, 1864] and Was glad to hear from and know that you was well  I am well […] and I hope that those few lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. The rebbel ram ran down here yesterday and opened fire on our men and our land battery commenced to play  on them2 it was kept up till all most midnight firing was heard all night at

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Petersburg our men are Cutting a canal through dutch creek it is about twenty rods across and five miles around  you can tell for your self how it is by looking to the map of Virginia. Our men are in that place and the rebs keep firing on them one of the 16th [New York] heavy artillery  got taken prisoner last night he went to exchange a […] with them  he went part way to them and one of the officers of the 16th artillery told him to go and exchange so he went up to them and two of the rebbels jumped up and came to a charge bayonets on him and told him to run in to their lines or they would shoot him I have not been

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payed off yet or I don’t know when we will get payed bill tell Mary Monhollin3 when you see her that I saw cousin at Petersburg We are having easy times now and not much to do  They are fighting all around us but we have not been in any engage Will send you the photograph of a rebbell Doller i don’t think of any more to wright this time So i will close by asking you to excuse all mistakes and poor wrighting so good bye i will have to send this with out a stamp for I have not got one to my name this is from

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Affectionate Brother C Houghtaling to W h Houghtaling Direct to Case Houghtaling  Washington DC 13th [New York] heavy artillery Co H in care of Capt [William] Pendrell4,5


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Fort Carpenter was located southwest of Dutch Gap on the Union Bermuda Hundred lines.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Melissa pointed me in the right direction here.  The Official Records, Volume XL, Part 2, page 255 shows several mentions of the “Rebel rams” opening fire on the Union gunboats on the evening of August 17.  The Union signal tower on Signal Hill relayed the information to Major General Benjamin Butler, the commander of the Army of the James, and he passed it along to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant.  I still haven’t found a mention of this engagement in the Navy Official Records.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: Per Melissa’s information, Cornelius married Mary “Monhollin” on December 24,1865.  The correct spelling was Mulholland.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: Captain William Pendrell commanded Co. H of the 13th New York Heavy Artillery at this time.
  5. Houghtaling, Cornelius “Redoubt Carpenter” Letter to “W H Houghtaling” 16 Aug. 1864. MS. Redoubt Carpenter, Va.
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