This letter was written by 33 year-old Cyril Wheeler (1828-1876) of East Montpelier, Vermont, who was recruited to fill the ranks of Co. I, 2nd Vermont Infantry on 20 August 1862. He was mustered into the regiment on 22 September after the Battle of Antietam. He was wounded in the fighting at Fredericksburg on 12 December 1862 and discharged for his wounds on 11 May 1863.
Cyril was the son of Cyrus Wheeler (1798-1873) and his second wife, Elmira Goodnow [or Goodenough] (1807-1884), of Montpelier, Washington county, Vermont.
[Note: A great story pertaining to the 2nd Vermont; see John Banks’ article on Corp. William Secor posted 14 May 2012.]
Camp near Williamsport, Maryland
October 31, 1862
I take this opportunity to write a few lines to let you know that I am as well as could be expected. We had to march the next day as I wrote I expected to. That come rather hard with all our things. We have knapsack, blanket, overcoat, and tent to carry on our back besides forty rounds of cartridge and gun. That makes some heft, you had better believe, to travel with. We rested yesterday all day and are this forenoon, but this afternoon is muster and tomorrow we start again at 8 o’clock and they say we are for Washington.
Our cavalry catch once in a while a rebel. They caught one lieutenant and three privates within two miles of here day before yesterday. They gave themselves up and seemed pleased. They were dirty and ragged as could be. They say the rebels are destitute of clothing of all description. They say they cannot stand it long anyway.
I went and see Lieutenant [Isaac A.] Putnam ¹ this morning. He is well. I also saw William [Byrd] Stevens ² for the first time. He looks pretty tough now. He says he has been sick until about a month ago, He is in Putnam’s company, close to us now, and expect to keep close together after this. Almost every day I find someone I have seen before. There is so man, anyone can’t find them all in a minute.
I want you should tell the folks in Vermont that I think they are pretty smart to send us out here without any papers showing where we come from, who we were, or what we were up to. They sent [us] on like a flock of sheep, driving us this way and that, we knew not what for until now. They say they have not received any papers so now they are agoing to try and hold us. Some have talked of going back but we are guarded too close for that. Yet they have nothing to show that would hold us. That shows how smart Vermont is. That is the reason of the muster today, we expect.
We are camped in the woods about two miles from Williamsport. Tomorrow we expect to march over to Boonsboro and from there to Frederick City and so on. You have not sent any papers yet. I should like to see one once in awhile. The rest of the boys get one once in awhile and it is as good as a letter, you better believe. I cannot think of anything more at present as I am in a hurry to get this into the post office in season to go today.
Write soon. Write all that is agoing on up there. Yours in haste, — Cyril Wheeler
Co. I, 2d Vt. Vols.
¹ Isaac A. Putnam (1837-1864) was from East Montpelier, Vermont. He enlisted in August 1861 as 1st Sgt. of Co. G, 4th Vermont Volunteers. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. H at the time of this letter. In October 1863 he was promoted to 1st Lt. of Co. C. He was killed in action during the fighting in the Wilderness on 5 May 1864.
² William Byrd Stevens served in Co. G, 4th Vermont Volunteers. He was wounded in the fighting before Petersburg in June 1864 and died shortly afterwards. He has a headstone in the Quaker Cemetery in East Montpelier.