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LT: September 21, 1864 “J. H. C.” (1st NY Engineers)

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.

Camp of 1st N. Y. Vol. Engineers, near Petersburg, Va., Sept. 21, 1864

To the Editor of the Statesman

For several days past it has been very quiet in front of Petersburg, especially in front of the 10th A[rmy]. C[orps]., with which corps the [1st New York] Engineer Regiment is on duty.

The work of fortifying is steadily progressing, and every other preparation is being made for a desperate battle, which will occur soon.

The different regiments are being rapidly filled up by recruits and veterans, and corps are beginning to assume their original strength by the addition of new regiments.

Although we are on the eve of battle, warlike subjects appear to vanish, and other subjects of importance and interest take its place. The Presidential contest and its results is the great question, and one in which every soldier takes an interest, and which is proving beyond a doubt the true sentiments of the army since the proceedings of the Chicago Convention has been made public.1

Among the more reasonable democrats here, many have been led to consider the importance of studying the motives of that Convention, and, in view of the results that would be likely to follow the success of that party with its platform, openly avow their purpose to change their position. Having enlisted in the war for the Union, they wisely manifest a determination to adhere to the principle of maintaining the Union under all circumstances, and repudiate a party whose sympathies are with the South. The soldiers enter into the spirit of politics with as much zeal and sense as some of the veteran politicians, and I dare say as effectively. In handling the Chicago platform they are somewhat severe, believing that the war has been carried on too long, that too many lives have been sacrificed, and too much treasure expended, for us now to suffer a party to rule our nation who approves conciliation or compromise with traitors.

The determined opposition of the democratic leaders to the Administration has aroused the loyalty and patriotism of the soldiers of all political denominations, and the resolutions of the Convention, tendering their sympathies to the soldiers in the field, is repudiated by us. We accept no sympathies from traitors. We believe their proceedings to be unfavorable to the Union, and as we are fighting to preserve it, we will exercise all our privileges to express the sentiment, from the polls to the battle-field. Mr. Lincoln is on our banner, therefore Mr. Lincoln can count well upon the support of the soldiers in the field.

The prospects of the re-election of Mr. Lincoln, together with the probable success of our armies, inspires in us the belief that the rebellion will soon be conquered, and that peace, an honorable peace, will be ours to enjoy.

J. H. C.2


Potential “JHC” Candidates:

CABLE , JAMES H.—Age, date and place of enlistment not stated; transferred as sergeant from the Fourth Independent Battery, December 12, 1863, to Co. L , this regiment; mustered out, October 15, 1864, at Bermuda Hundred, Va.

CUMMINGS, JAMES H.—Age, 18 years. Enlisted, January 4, 1864, at Plattsburg; mustered in as private, Co. L , January 4, 1864, to serve three years; appointed artificer, date not stated; mustered out with company, June 30, 1865, at Richmond, V a .; also borne as James H . Commons.


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The partly anonymous author of this letter goes into great detail on the Presidential Election of 1864, with special attention given to the Democratic Convention held in Chicago, Illinois.
  2. “J. H. C.” “Camp of 1st N. Y. Vol. Engineers, near Petersburg, Va., Sept. 21, 1864.” Letter to The Editor of the Statesman. 21 Sept. 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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