SOPO Editor’s Note: Noah Andrew Trudeau found and transcribed several letters for the 15th New York Engineers page at the excellent New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs web site. I did further research and found this and other letters written by “D. C. P.” at the also excellent Old Fulton NY Postcards site. I transcribed this and other letters in the collection myself.
N[ew]. Y[ork]. S[tate]. V[olunteers]., Engineer Corps.
CITY POINT, Va., January 19th, 1864.
To the Editor of the Roman Citizen:
Pursuant to promise, I am now seated in the tent of Col. [WESLEY] BRAINARD’s [sic, BRAINERD’s]1 orderly, with the intention uppermost in my mind of inditing a particularly interesting letter to the CITIZEN, directly from the headquarters of the grand army of the Potomac.2
In the first place I will give you a brief sketch of my journey hither from that most wretched apology for a city, Elmira. If I remember rightly my last letter to the CITIZEN was written in Elmira, upon Friday, the 6th of January, and I expected to take my departure for City Point the next day, but owing mainly to a furious storm which prevailed throughout the day, my departure was postponed until Tuesday night [January 10, 1865], at which time a motley squad composed of twenty-six substitutes, six deserters and ten volunteers, myself among the latter, took the cars of the Elmira and Williamsport [rail]road, and arrived in Harrisburg about two o’clock in the morning. We left the cars and bunked in the depot until 5:30, when we took the cars for Philadelphia, at which place we arrived in good order about 11 o’clock Wednesday [January 11, 1865] forenoon. We were at once marched to the barracks, corner of Fifth and Buttonwood streets, where we remained until about 3 o’clock P. M., at which time we marched to the depot and took the cars of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad for the latter place, where we arrived at midnight, thoroughly fatigued I assure you.—So soon as we left the cars we marched to the Soldiers’ Retreat, and partook of a cold collation of salt junk and bread, and made ourselves extremely merry over a kettle of muddy coffee. After regaling ourselves with these tempting viands, we marched to the barracks, where we remained until about 3 o’clock P. M. of Thursday [January 12, 1865], at which time we took up the line of march for the steamboat landing, and embarked upon the steamer Adelaide, and arrived at Fortress Monroe the next morning [January 13, 1865] at 7 o’clock. We at once disembarked from the Adelaide, and re-embarked upon the James J. Brady for City Point, where we arrived Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock.
After disembarking, we were marched to the Provost Marshal’s Office, and turned over to that august individual by Lieut. STEINMAN, the person who assumed charge of the squad at Elmira, and who conducted us in safety into the outstretched arms of Uncle ABRAHAM, much to the chagrin of the aforementioned substitutes and deserters, whose trials had now actually commenced, for they were at once thrust into the Bull pen as it is called, it being equivalent, in the eyes of all volunteers, in filth of every description, to the black hole in Calcutta, while your fortunate correspondent was at once assigned to duty in his regiment [the 15th New York Engineers], which luckily was encamped but a few yards from the office. Capt. [A. P.] POND’s Company, known as Company L, is encamped near Fort Number Four, or McKeon, and thitherward I directed my steps Saturday afternoon [January 14, 1865]. After bedaubing myself from head to foot with the sacred soil in my endeavors to find the aforesaid Company, I at last, after much repining, succeeded in finding the object of my search, which is encamped about two miles from this place. The health of the company, and in fact of the entire Regiment is most excellent, very few men in-…
[SOPO Editor’s Note: Fulton NY Postcards site shows this page as scanned in sideways onto the microfilm, so a portion of the first column of this letter is not available. If anyone knows how (if?) I might obtain the missing lines, please let me know.]
…for his services since he left. Old Oneida, and if I have been reliably informed by his comrades, he richly merits the appointment which has at this comparatively late day been bestowed upon him.
When the news of SHERMAN’s grand march through Georgia and the subsequent capture of Savannah reached this camp, the report was almost wholly disbelieved, and when after a lapse of a few days news confirmatory of such capture was received, the enthusiasm was entirely lacking as might be expected, owing to the many vague reports which are from time to time received and credited, it seems too often, for the peace of mind of the soldier. But I am in the best of health and spirits, and ready at any time to depart for the front, and to endeavor to do my part towards crushing this infernal outbreak, which in my humble opinion is rendered in a measure of a somewhat dignified character by calling it a rebellion.
The days of Sixty-Five my boys
We ever must revere,
For ‘twas my delight to march and fight
Like a Yankee volunteer.
Yours, for an unconditional surrender,
D. C. P.
[SOPO Editor’s Note: Noah Andre Trudeau believes this soldier is probably Darwin C. Pavey of the 15th New York Engineers.]3
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Col. Wesley Brainerd was the commander of the 50th New York Engineers, a fellow regiment to the 15th New York Engineers in the Volunteer Engineer Brigade. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: City Point was the brain of Grant’s operations against Petersburg and Richmond. He made his headquarters there for most of the Siege of Petersburg. ↩
- “Army Correspondence.” The Roman Citizen (Rome, NY). January 27, 1865, p. 2, col. 2-3 ↩