1863: Samuel Humer to Hamilton Mowry

Image of Samuel Humer, Co. F, 158th Pennsylvania Infantry & his 1863 letter from Newbern, N.C.

This letter was written by Samuel Humer (1839-1921)—a coach maker from Newburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. Samuel was the son of Daniel Humer (1802-1882) and Margaret Humer (1805-1863).

Samuel was drafted in Carlisle on 16 October 1862 and mustered into  Co. F, 158th Pennsylvania Infantry on 1 November 1862. He was honorably discharged with his company after nine months’ service (August 12, 1863).

After the war, Samuel married Mary M. Mowry [or Mawery] (1839-1893) and fathered Agnue Thompson Humer (b. 07/02/65). In 1870, he lived with his family in Newville, Cumberland County, and in 1880, in Newburg, Cumberland County. I believe this letter was written to Mary’s brother, William Hamilton Mowry (b. 1841) who worked as a coach maker with Samuel.


Newbern, North Carolina
January 11, 1863

Dear friend,

As I have just come from preaching, I take up my pen to inform you that I am well at present and I hope these few lines may find you all well. I received your letter of the 29th and was glad to hear that you were all well and that you spent your Christmas as happy as you stated in your letter. I would liked very much if I could been with you. We could had a happy day of it but that day I was on picket near Suffolk at a canal bridge. That day I seen ten or twelve soldiers take a boat at that bridge and went down the canal about ten miles on a bear hunt. It reminded me of one year ago—the happy hunt we had together over the hills.

You stated in your letter that you thought Joseph Paxton ¹ was going to get married on New Years Day. If he did, I hope you had the pleasure of seeing them plunged into the gulf of dark despair where many such poor creatures are and perhaps the next may be you. But if Joseph did not give you a bid, I hope you serenaded him that night. That he could stay in bed through that would be hard to do on that occasion but I wish them peace, happiness, and joy and every year a bold soldier boy like himself. If we had a few such soldiers like Mr. Paxton, the war would soon be over.

I will give you a sketch of our last march. We left Camp Suffolk on the 28th and we marched 60 miles in three days and then we took the steamboat and we went about 200 miles on water. We had a pleasant trip of it. We came to Newbern on the boat and from there we marched one mile to camp where we are encamped at this time. I wish you had been along with us on the water. I know you would have been pleased with the trip. It is worth all our trouble if we get back safe. As we traveled through Virginia and North Carolina, we pressed everything we came across. One of our drummers went into a field and took a mule out with a rope halter. He had a gay old time of it till he got him broke. It looked like the one that scared took the time you and I was down at home. When he brought him out, I thought of ____ running out of the shafts. We had five or six horses. Some of the boys took chickens, ducks, and geese. One of our regiment boys went into a field to get a goose and one of the officers of another regiment—that had no business back with our regiment—drawed his pistol to shoot one of our boys and his horse throwed his head up and he shot his horse—–and a nice horse he was too. But if he had shot the man out of our regiment, his hide would hardly held the balls for we were all loaded.

This is a poor part of the world. There is nothing but a perfect sandy bottom and pine thickets stranding through here. We see very few white women and many of them secesh but lots of negroes and they think they are something.

January the 12th. As this is my day for cooking, I have just put on our dinner to cook. I take up my pen to finish my letter while it is cooking. There is many reports in camp about a compromise and I wish it could be done for the men would like to be home, and again I heard that they were going to make another draft, but I don’t think that is true for there is men encamped for forty miles along the road up and down the river from this place and they hardly know what they want with us here. They are talking about taking us up North again and I hope they will before the warm weather sets in for we are in a warm country. It is so warm here today that we can lay off our coats and be warm enough. We have had no need of our coats since we came here. Everything looks as green here as it does there in the month of September. You may think it is a strange looking winter to us who have not been used to it. Perhaps it would seem more natural to you as you are along the mountain more than the most of us has been.

For this time, I must close as it is almost dinner time and I must get dinner for the boys. Give my respects to your Uncle William and tell him where we are and that I am well but feel assured that he could not stood to march with us. Give my love to all friends who you may meet, including coach makers, tanners, and all others who may enquire about me. And [keep] a share for yourself, H. Mowry.

Please write soon and give me all the particulars of Lurgan and Shaptown and let me know whether Serfoss and Mary J. Cox is married yet. If you write, direct to Washington City, D. C. in care of Capt. [Henry S.] Crider. Give my love to Father, Mother, and to sisters and remember us all in your prayers. Nothing more ay present but remain your affectionate friend— Damuel Humer

To Mr. Hamilton Mowry, Esqr., Newburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania

Let me know how things are getting along at Shaptown. Excuse my writing. Tell Samuel Rhoads I wrote to him twice and if he don’t write to me, he can leave it alone.

Direct to Samuel Humer, Washington City, D. C.. in care of Capt. [Henry S.] Crider, 158th Regt. Co. F, Pennsylvania Infantry

¹ Joseph Martin Paxton (1838-1910) was the son of David Paxton (1794-1888) and Elizabeth Shoemaker (1811-1888) of Lurgan, Franklin county, PA.  According to Draft Registration Records (1863); Joseph was drafted and sent a substitute.


[posted for sale on internet; transcription by seller]

Newbern, North Carolina
April 18, 1863

My Dearest Friend,

I deem a pleasure to take up my pen to inform you that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all well. It was with pleasure I received your letter of the 3rd and was glad to hear that you were well but I am sorry to hear that Hamilton has been so unwell. We are not in our regular camp. We came across the river on Monday night and we are lying on the river bank. Yet I think we will soon go to camp. We have been out 2 days hunting Rebs but we only got 5 Rebs and 5 horses. The boys are in good spirit and all pretty well and are in good spirits about getting home safe.

Your father wanted to know if we had got any of our pay yet. We were paid yesterday for 4 months and a half which was $58.50. I started $50 home to Father. I don’t know if it will ever reach home or not. I had a letter from sister Amanda a few days ago and was sorry to hear that you was not alone with Stromes flitin. I am glad to hear that you had the pleasure of helping Mr. Rebuck to move.

The weather has been very pleasant all Spring, but now it is getting warm. We have not quite 3 months to stay yet, but when I think of not seeing you for so long, it seems very long to me. But I hope I may be spared to reach home safe again. There is not one night that I lay down to sleep that I think of thee, my dearest friend. There has been some talk of moving us further north soon but I don’t know if t is anything of it or not. As I have nothing but a pencil to write with, I must close or it will be hard to read. When I get back to camp, I will write to you again and hope you will excuse me for writing with a pencil for I will write to you if I must do it with a pencil. Nothing more but please excuse my bad spelling and writing.

From your ever loving friend, — Samuel Humer

To Miss Mary C. Mowry. Give my love to all at home and all inquiring friends, write soon.


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