This letter was written by Edward Beethovan Prevear (1844-1902), a bugler in Co. A, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. He enlisted at the age of 18 in September 1862 at Readville, Massachusetts, to serve 3 years. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as standing 5 feet 3 inches, with blue eyes, light hair, and light complexion. He gave his birthplace as Amherst and indicated that he was a cabinet maker by trade.
Edward was the son of watch maker Edward L. Prevear (1818-1899) and his wife, Olive Y. Hanscomb (1825-1854). In the 1850 US Census, the Prevear family was enumerated in Lynn, Massachusetts. In 1871, Edward married Lydia A. Grover.
This letter was written less than two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Hartwood Church, Va.
December 28th 1862
I suppose while I am writing to you, you are at church as am I—but not for the same thing you are. Hartwood [Presbyterian] Church is about 10 miles northwest of Falmouth. Think of yourself being hear to help us eat a sheep or some beef. We do not intend to go hungry when on picket.
Perhaps you would like to know what I do on picket. I stay at headquarters most of the time so if there should be alarm, I could blow all the men and horses outside of the “outpost” after game, no matter what it is. If I see it, it goes into our quarters and devoured. Very often you can see a guerrilla riding out of a piece of woods and then back again. The last time we were out here on picket, we got five of them—a hard looking set they are too. There are four of us going out in the morning to see if we can get one of them if we can—dead or alive.
I am happy as a “clam” like first rate. Ed Woodbury is well. Charles Albertson is the same. He is in Co. G. How does Charley like [it] in the 53rd? There is not much news to write. Please to excuse my writing with a pencil. My love to all.
From your friend, — Ed B. Prevear