This letter was written by Alexander [Joel?] Clark (1838-1918), the son of Joel Clark (1798-Oct 1864) and Martha Calhoun (1807-1892) of Bedford county, Pennsylvania. Alexander enlisted in Co. I, 194th Pennsylvania Regiment—a 100 days unit mustered into the service on 21 July 1864. It appears that he enlisted in the same company with another Bedford county resident named Henry C. Penrod (b. 1843), referred to as “Henry” in this letter.
The 194th Pennsylvania was one of several short-term regiments brought into the service in the fall of 1864 to maintain law and order in the major cities during the fall elections.
After their 100 days were up in September, both Alexander and Henry transferred into the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry. Both continued to serve with the 97th until they were discharged on 17 June 1865. The company they joined was composed entirely of men transferred from the 193rd and 194th Pennsylvania Regiments in October 1864.
August 15, 1864
Dear Father & Mother,
As I had written a few lines to Junia, I thought it would please you to have me write a few lines to you. The last letter that I wrote to you I was in Manken’s Woods but our regiment is all split up now. Some of the company is in one place & some is in another. There is three companies in this city that belongs to our regiment & the rest is somewhere else but where, I do not know. One company is guarding the hospital, the other is doing Provost duty, & our company is guarding trains so that no soldiers can run away. That is good work, ain’t it? And if the boys behave themselves and don’t go to stealing everything, we will stay the rest of our time here in the city. But if they do not behave themselves, they will ship us somewhere else. But the boys say they will not take anything that does not belong to them.
I am not with Henry [Penrod] now for our company is divided into squads and he is in one place & I am in the other. But I saw him last Sunday and he is well. If our company stays here, we will have a good time. Where we are now is in a most splendid house. It is on South Pratt Street. The house that we are in is confiscated property. This street is where the bloody 6th [Massachusetts] Regiment was picked onto 4 years ago next April when they marched through here for Washington.
The house that we are in is about 10 rods from the wharf and we can go down there any time and get all the peaches, pears & apples that we want without paying a cent. You can get a bushel for 25 cents & the best kind too. You do not know anything about fruit up North. I never saw a peach up North half as large as the smallest you see here.
There was a man picked up by a schooner yesterday when it was coming up the bay. I went down to the wharf to see him. He was a bad sight to behold. They said that he must have been dead about three days and they think he was killed and thrown into the bay for his upper lip was all bit to pieces. He was a very large man and good looking. What they done with him, I do not know.
There is a lot of soldiers go past here every day. There was a lot of rebel prisoners went by here today. They was going to take them down to Fort McHenry. They was a rough looking set of men as I ever saw in my life. There was no two dressed alike.
You want me not to enlist again. I will not till I come home. Let James see this letter if he wants to. Let him have the letter that I send to him as soon as you can. Give my love to all of my friends. Tell sister that she must write to me in the next letter you send. If you have not sent any stamps, send me a few for I have not but two now. So goodbye for the present.
From your own, — A. J. Clark
Direct as before. Write often as you can.
In this letter I send one of my keys and when you answer this, let me know if you get it or not.