1863: John Charles Loomis to Betsy (Lyons) Loomis

This letter was written by John Charles Loomis (1846-1924), the son of Confucius Fitch Loomis (1809-1885)—a tanner by trade—and his wife, Betsy E. Lyons (1815-1891), of Great Bend, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania. John claimed to be 18 years old when he enlisted on 23 September 1862 at Montrose to serve in Co. C, 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers, a nine months regiment. However, public records indicate he was actually born on 30 December 1846 making him 3 months shy of age 16!

John was with his company at Gettysburg when he was wounded in the left shoulder, left elbow, and left leg on the first days fighting while attempting to defend the left center of the 1st Corps against vastly superior numbers. General Doubleday credited the 151st Pennsylvania with “saving the Army of the Potomac” on Seminary Ridge but it was at a staggering cost. It went into the fight with 21 officers and 466 men; of these, 2 officers and 66 men were killed, 12 officers and 87 men wounded, and 100 men were missing.

John briefly mentions his brother Julius (“Jule”) Fitch Loomis (1842-1915) in the closing paragraph.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Charles Joyce and is published by express consent.]


Camp near Bell Plain Landing No. 2
March 8th [1863]

Dear Mother,

As I have plenty of time to write today and am doing a little writing, I thought I would write to you. We have had a pretty hard time of it every since we left Union Mills but it is getting better weather now and the times are getting much easier for me. I am glad we have not got but 14 weeks longer to stay but if it holds this weather long, we will make another attack on Fredericksburg. Gen. Hooker says the army has got to take the place and be made mince meat of. I guess we will be moved on to Fortress Monroe before long.

We are in camp [with]in about 3 miles of the landing where Hod is. I expect him up here today. Lieut. William [Dubois] Lusk ¹ has gone home. I suppose you will send my shirts down by him. If you so not, you had better send a box. The most I will need is some shorts, some black pepper, dried fruit, butter, sausage, and &c. I think that will be all I will need.

I am in good health. So is the rest of the [Great] Bend boys. I suppose you will have lots of company now seeing it is maple sugar time. I suppose you had a good time with Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Crook. I heard they were coming up to see you—that is, if it did not storm. I got a letter written to you from [brother] Jule directed to me.  He said he would be home in about 3 weeks or so. I have no more to write at present.

From your obedient son, — John C. Loomis

P S. Write soon

¹ 2nd Lt. William D. Lusk was promoted from Sergeant on 3 February 1863. He mustered out with the company on 27 July 1863.


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