1863: George Dewitt Greenwood to Parents

George Dewitt Greenwood’s 1863 Letter with unidentified “ghost” bugler embedded

This letter was written by 20 year-old George Dewitt Greenwood (1841-1919), the son of Simon Leland Greenwood (1816-1875) and Elisabeth W. ___ (1821-1915) of Buffalo; formerly of Cazenovia, Madison county, New York. George enlisted on 30 September 1862 at Buffalo in the 27th New York Independent Battery (a.k.a. Eaton’s Battery). He was mustered in as 2nd Bugler on 17 December 1862, to serve three years. He was promoted to sergeant on 24 March 1864 and mustered out with the battery on 22 June 1865.

Eaton’s battery was recruited and organized at Buffalo, and there mustered into the service for three years on 17 December 1862. It left the State on 22 December 1862; served in the defenses of Washington, D. C., and the Artillery Camp of Instruction, 22d Corps, from December, 1862; at Philadelphia, Pa., and in the Department of Susquehanna, from July, 1863; at and near Washington, D. C., 22d Corps, from January, 1864; with the Artillery Reserve, 9th Corps, from April, 1864; at Washington, D. C, from May 16, 1864; in 1st Division, 9th Corps, Army of the Potomac, from June 5, 1864; and in the Artillery Brigade, 9th Corps, from July 30, 1864. The battery was honorably discharged and mustered out June 22, 1865, at Fort Porter, Buffalo, having, during its service, lost by death of wounds received in action, 2 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 17 enlisted men; total, 19.

While at Camp Barry, where this letter was written, the 27th Battery had four 12-pounder Napoleons in their arsenal and “a big pile of ammunition” that Bugler Greenwood was anxious to “see the Rebs get…as they deserve.”


Camp Barry
Washington [D. C.]
January 17th 1863

Dear Parents,

You say you wish to hear from me once in a week. I hardly know what to write farther than I am unusually well and hearty. I can eat more grub than I could when at Buffalo. I really begin to think I shall like it here, if I am well and have my health, which prospects of having good health is good in the extreme. I should like to come home in proportion of size like Walden. Wouldn’t you like to see me a big boy like him? Well I don’t know how it will be when it comes to August or July. I guess it will take the grease out of me a little.

The night (last night) was the coldest we have had since we came into camp. I had cold feet all night. It was very cold. The wind blowed so hard we expected to see the tent capsize but no such accident occurred and we were left in peace once more. It rains here—when it does rain—with a vengeance. I got me a poncho before leaving Buffalo so I can keep dry.

We have not had any Boots and Saddles drill in more than a week so I expect that when we do have one, the horses will carry on some. I would not change my post of Bugler with any noncommissioned officer in our company. I like it first rate. There is more to it than I supposed!

I wrote a letter to Irving yesterday and also received one from Geo. Weston. I was glad to hear from him. He said Pa was sick. I hope he may recover soon. I hope to hear from you soon and hope you are all well as usual.

The 22nd Battery New York Volunteers left here about two weeks ago for a fort in Georgetown and the 13th leave today for Mason Hill. I hope they may get a chance at the Rebs soon. And I hope it will be our turn to move soon but there are no prospects of it as yet. Our captain is still at Buffalo.  I think he could be better in his place here. Our lieutenants are green as we are and we need very much the aid of our captain. If he fails to come, it will be discouraging in the extreme. ¹

Sometimes when there is no Boots and Saddles drill, we buglers take a mounted drill by ourselves together and I tell you, we have good times. I am not afraid of a horse as I used to be. I like to take care of my horse. He is a big one. I should like to bring him home with me when I come home for he is the best horse I ever drove or had anything to do with. He can outrun any horse in camp so you see he will be very valuable on a retreat.  We have got a big pile of fixed ammunition and I should like to see the Rebs get some of it as they deserve.

The boys are all well that you know. Jimmy is hearty and has not been sick at all. Mark [Maycock] ² is as tough as a pine knot. We have got more than our share of men in the hospital, however, but they will all recover. There are some that will get their discharge and go home—some that enlisted for the bounty that were not sound. They are going to have a target shoot by the [    ] today.

I understand the 10th Mass. Com.—the one that left here the next day after we came here—are expected to have a fight every day. They are somewhere about Harper’s Ferry.

You must take care because I have got some wide stripes on my pants. Don’t you think I am a gay bird? Well I recon I am some pumpkins. Tell George Weston that he may expect to hear from me when I get a chance to write. The accommodations are no so good here for writing as they are at home but I take comfort in writing home to friends. I want you to write often because letters received by us soldiers cheer us up more than friends at hoe expect. I want to have sent that 50 cent shinplaster back but I have never thought of it. I shall have to put it in. Well, let’s hear from home soon. Please remember me to all kind friends and tell the boys I should like to hear from them.

Yours truly, — Geo. D. Greenwood


Disorder is a very disagreeable companion and the very people that have him in their houses are the ones that are ashamed of him.

¹ The Battery’s captain was 33 year-old John Brown Eaton (1829-1893). The two lieutenant’s were 32 year-old William A. Bird, Jr. and 23 year-old Charles A. Clark.

² 18 year-old Mark Maycock was the only member of the battery named Mark. He enlisted as a private and rose in rank to quarter-master sergeant prior to his discharge in 1865.


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