This letter was written by George M. Booth (1844-1920), the son of William Booth (1820-1892) and Ann Kiddle (1823-1909)—emigrants from England who settled in Buffalo, Erie county, New York, prior to 1855. George’s father was an experienced art glazier who was brought into the Buffalo Stained Glass Works as a partner in 1861; George learned the tinsmith trade and later started his own firm, Queen City Stained Glass.
George wrote the letter in April 1864 while serving in Co. B, 20th New York Cavalry. He accepted a bounty to reenlist in that regiment as a veteran, having previously served in Co. H, 100th New York Vols. He was appointed a corporal in May 1864 but reduced to private again in May 1865.
George’s enlistment records reveal that he had blue eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. He stood 5 feet 10 inches tall.
In his letter, George mentions his younger brother Alfred Booth (b. 1846). Alfred accepted a bounty to enlist on 7 March 1864 in Co. G, 16th New York Cavalry.
Camp in the Woods near Norfolk, Va.
April 17th 1864
I received your letter dated the 11th this afternoon and am glad to hear Herbert is at home again. I only hope he will stay at home and learn a trade. I wish the next time you write, you will send Alfred’s address for I want to write to him. I suppose he is with the regiment before this. You did not say what regiment he was in but I hope he is in the cavalry for I know he will like it better than any other branch of service.
We are encamped in a pine grove one mile from headquarters and five miles from Norfolk and I expect we will stay here all summer. Twenty of our company are doing duty at headquarters and ten more are guarding the railroad crossing. Our company numbers 101 all told. We have splendid quarters—“A” tents—three in a tent.
I don’t see how Alfred got so much bounty when I only got seventy-five dollars State bounty and am to get but one hundred United States bounty. It appears that the big bounty ran out in the 25th of September and I enlisted on the 29th. McCready ¹ and all the rest that served two years—they all got the same bounty that I do, and not one of us gets but $13 dollars a month.
We have rain every day, more or less, but it soon dries up again as the sun is getting pretty warm.
Jennie wanted to know if I willed all of my things to [brother] Charley. You can tell her yes; he can have them all. I am glad to hear Jennie is well again. I wrote a letter for Tom the day before yesterday to John. You say things are very dear up North and I should think they was. Butter sells here for 60 cents a pound, eggs 30 cents a dozen. As for meat, we get enough of it for nothing. Last night, Tom and myself killed a young pig. I should think it would weigh 30 pounds. So you see we will have pork enough for awhile. The troops have all left Camp Getty and gone to the front. The 3rd New York Cavalry have come to this department.
I have no news to tell you this time. I received the stamps. Tell Jennie I will write to her some other time. I will close with my love to you all.
I remain your affectionate son, — Geo. Booth
¹ Caleb C. McCready of Buffalo enlisted on 30 September 1863 as a private in Co. B, 20th New York Cavalry. He had prior service in Co. E, 21st New York Volunteers.