1864: George Washington Cross to Brother

This letter was written by 28 year-old George W. Cross (1838-1917), a private in Co. K, 10th New York Heavy Artillery. George enlisted at Albion, Oswego county, New York on 1 January 1864.  George was the son of Henry Cross (1807-1874) and Elizabeth Ann Winters (1808-1895). George was married to Nancy N. [Unknown] (1836-1904) about 1861.

The 10th New York Heavy Artillery joined the Overland Campaign as infantrymen in May 1864 with 1,544 men. They were under fire 65 days in and about Petersburg, the casualties, discharges, and details to other duties so reduced the regiment that when they left Petersburg on 13 August 1864, they numbered less than 600 muskets. After they returned to Washington D. C., they were deployed as garrison to various forts in Virginia including Fort Craig.

Fort Craig was one of 33 forts on the Virginia side of the Potomac river making up the outer perimeter of the defense line for Washington D. C.  It was a semi-circular stockaded lunette with a perimeter of 324 yards and emplacements for 11 guns. Armament included four 24 pounder cannons, one 24 pounder howitzer, five 30 pounder Parrott rifles, one 10″ mortar and one 24 pounder Coehorn mortar. The lunette enclosed the 11 gun platforms, two magazines and a bombproof.


Fort Craig [Arlington county, Virginia]
September 18th 1864

Dear Brother,

Your letter of the 3d came to hand all right and I was glad to hear from you once more and now, Runt, I will tell you that I have got over all sorts of patriotic feeling. The whole thing is a speculation from beginning to end. Old Abe has done what he could to keep the thing going till this fall and now he would like to do something merely because his election depends on something being done. He can’t have my vote anyhow. If I can’t do better than vote for him, I will not vote at all for I will never give my vote to inflict him upon the country for another four years. I believe his wife is a traitor and has more influence over him than is good for the country.

I am glad that you have got clear of the draft for this time but it will come next spring if the war is not ended before that time for there is lots of men to be discharged next year. You must save a few of them sweet apples for next winter for I think certain I shall be there to get some bread, milk, and sweet apples, cabbages, taters, and the like. Our living is rather dry now for when they raised our wages and took it off our rations, they took off all the vegetables so that we now draw only bread, pork, beef and beans, coffee, sugar, pepper, salt and vinegar so that our living is entirely on bread and meat with beans about every other noon. The three dollars a month does not begin to make us good as we used to get lots of potatoes, onions, cabbages, turnips, molasses, and so on, part of which we drew and part bought with rations that we did not want. Then our spare rations furnished us with blacking, emery paper, and gloves. I have got two good pair of white gloves now that were furnished in that way but that is played out now for we have now no rations to sell. A man can eat all he draws and will do it when he is well for they reduced the amount on what we do draw. Taking it all around, that raising of our wages was another humbug to speculate on the soldier.

Evening, 19th. I got broke off rather sudden last night by having to go on  post so will finish tonight. [My wife] Nancie asked me in her last letter if I got the Pulaski paper regular. I forgot to answer. Tell her I have always got it. Sometimes it gets here a little late but it always comes and I shall keep taking it for the present.

We had an artillery inspection today by General Haskins lasting about three hours. It has been very nice weather here now for four days.

Our sutler sells butter at 70 cents and potatoes at 8 cents per lb.

One of the recruits came up to me yesterday. I was on post at the gate of the fort. Said he, “Whereabouts is that fort?” I asked him what one he meant. “Why our fort, Fort Craig.”  “Why its right here.” “Yes, but what direction from us?” And I could hardly convince him that he was at the gate thereof. So goes the world.

But I must dry up and write a letter to Gratia. From your brother, — Geo. W. Cross

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