1863: Charles William Sayer to Isaac & Myra L. Beard

Unidentified Union Infantryman

This letter was written by Charles William Sayer (1842-1864), the son of English emigrant Thomas Taylor Sayer (1788-1869) and his second wife, Mary Elsegood Colins (1804-1877) of Dekalb, St. Lawrence county, New York. He wrote the letter to his sister, Myra L. (Sayer) Beard (1839-1908) and her husband, Isaac Beard (1833-1891). He also mentions his sister, Harriet (Sayer) Beach (1835-1908) who was married to John S. Beach (1833-1864), a private in Co. I, 14th New York Artillery.

Charles enlisted in August 1862 at Dekalb as a private in Co. A, 142nd New York Infantry. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, with Brown eyes, light hair, and a light complexion. His Muster Roll Abstract states that he was wounded in action on 20 May 1864 at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, and that he died of his wounds on 26 July 1864 at his home in DeKalb, New York, while home on furlough. The Register of Deaths of US Volunteers indicates, however, that he died on 26 July 1864 of a gunshot wound in the General Hospital at Point Lookout, Maryland. Curiously, quite a number of the members of this regiment are reported to have died at home while on furlough while recuperating from illness or wounds.

Map of Charleston Harbor showing location of Folly and Kiawah Island at lower left on either side of the Stono Inlet.


Kiawah Island, South Carolina
November 11th 1863

Dear brother & sister,

It is with the greatest pleasure I sit down to answer your ever welcome letter which I received a few days since and I was glad to hear from you and that you was well. It found me and James well as this leaves me, hoping these few lines will find you and all brothers and sisters the same. Hugh ¹ and Peter is well.

Well, Isaac, we have moved from Folly Island onto another island joining it. We have moved about two miles, I suppose. There is rebels on this island but I have not seen any yet.

Well, Isaac, it is so long since I have wrote to you. I suppose you think I have almost forgotten you but I have not. I often think of the good old times we have had in Old DeKalb but I think the time will come when we shall all be there again although some of them have gone to their long homes. I have not seen anything yet that has made me wish I was not a soldier but it seems as Old Abe is determined to have more soldiers yet. And I think he will need before he gets through.

Well, Isaac, it has been damn cold for two or three days but I think the sun is coming out warm I suppose you have some cold weather there. I suppose Tom is doing great business this winter with wood and that great team of his. I suppose if me and James should come home on a furlough, you and Tom could find us in horses and cutters to run around with. We might have some gay old times but I hardly think we shall come home this winter.

Loren Haven ² sends his best respects to you and Myria. He is getting about as smart as ever.

Well, Isaac, you said if I was there you would have a jump with me. I should like to have a jump with you but I don’t know but you could out jump me for I have not practiced any since I enlisted. Well I shall soon have to draw this to a close for I must write to [sister] Harriet and I guess James will write a piece and put in this letter. Seth Rice ³ is not back [from his furlough] yet and his time was out the 2nd but perhaps he will be back soon.

Give my love to all brothers and sisters, father and mother, when you see them and write soon. I still remain your affectionate brother, — C. W. Sayer

[to] Isaac & Myria Beard

¹ Hugh Jenkins, age, 20 years. Enlisted, August 9, 1862, at Dekalb, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. A, September 29, 1862; killed in action, May 20, 1864, at Bermuda Hundred, Va.

² Loren Haven, age, 30 years. Enlisted, August 12, 1862, at Dekalb, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. A, September 29, 1862; died of disease of the lungs, October 10, 1864, at DeCamp Hospital, David’s Island, New York Harbor, (as Havens).

³ Seth Rice, age, 26 years. Enlisted, August 22, 1862, at DeKalb, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. A, September 29, 1862; wounded in action, September 29, 1864, at Chaffin’s Farm, Va.; died of his wounds, October 22, 1864, at hospital, Fort Monroe, Va.

Headstone of Charles W. Sayer

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