1863: Matthew McCann to Eliza McCann

This letter was written by Matthew McCann (1826-1909) who enlisted at Fairfield on 28 August 1862 to serve three years in Co. F, 152nd New York Infantry. He was mustered in as a corporal and was promoted to sergeant in November 1862; to sergeant-major in April 1863, and commissioned a first lieutenant in Co. H in August 1864. His last promotion was to captain of Co, F on 10 November 1864. He mustered out of the service on 13 July 1865.

Matthew was married to Eliza Christman (1834-1910) in 1851. From the 1900 US Census we learn that Matthew’s father was born in Ireland and his mother was born in Scotland. Matthew was born in New York.



Carroll Hill [Washington D. C. area]
April 20, 1863

Dear wife & daughter, Eliza & Addie [Adelaide],

Your very kind & love-laden letter No. 55 came to hand today & with it came also the letter & money & stamps for which I am thankful indeed—though I have enough of both now. I am happy indeed to know that you, my dear one, art among friends & friends too that will not prove folly to you. That assurance encourages me & makes me feel cheerful.

You see by this that we are waiting yet for orders to march from here & dearest, while you are reading this, we may be far, far from here on our way to the front where carnage holds her court and death stalks abroad at all hours of night & day. But dearest, I say with truth that I am not afraid or timorous in the least for I consider that I am in the hands of that Being who knows all things & doeth all things well. Yet I should dearly like to see you & our child before we leave for the front and the theatre of active war. And it may be that we shall stay here in the city, but I think not for the 10th New Jersey & the 118th New York Regiments both left here this morning for the front. I think we shall soon follow them as we are to be brigaded together & the chances of my furlough are slim indeed just now. But my dear & chosen one, be of good cheer & look forward with hope to my coming & we will both hope that there is yet many happy years of comfort for us in each other’s society.

Today it rains quite hard and we have had quite a time in witnessing the punishment of two deserters. One was yeomans & the other was from Newport. They were marched all around camp with large cards on their backs printed deserter & the band playing the Rogues March. I would not be in either of their places for a fortune. My dear, I shall never desert! I shall come home honorable or not at all.

Silas ¹ was over at the Lincoln Hospital to see Charles Lamphere. He is getting able to walk out some. I think he will not get his discharge but will be sent to his regiment when he’s able to go. I shall wait until I can know for certain that I can not have a furlough before I send my money home. I don’t know as I wrote you that I was only paid from the 3rd of November up to the first of March. Since we have been paid, a great many have left & some of them have been captured & brought back & they will be severely punished.

Of one thing I am well pleased & that is that you are [among] those that are friends to you. Indeed, that Mr. & Mrs. Lawton are firm friends to you & our child I am led to believe from what you write & that makes me cheerful indeed. Remember me kindly to them. My respects and best wishes to them. You speak in one of your letters of sending our child to Herkimer & asked my advise. I think it is a good plan & if you will not be too lonesome, let her go. I hope to find her improved when I come home & I trust that you, my dear ones, will not have cause to be ashamed of any act of mine but rather have cause to be proud of me as a husband & father. To all friends, remember me.

From your ever faithful & affectionate husband, — M. McCann

to his wife Eliza

With kisses to you both. Farewell for the present. I shall soon write again.

¹ Probably Silas R. March of Co. F, 152nd New York Infantry. He was wounded on 5 May 1864 in the Battle of the Wilderness and died on 12 May 1864 at Fredericksburg.


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