These thirteen letters were written by Horace J. Hammond (1828-1903) of Cohoctin, Steuben county, New York. He wrote all of the letters to his wife, Eleanor (1835-1919). Mentioned frequently is Oscar Hammond, their youngest child (1860-1938).
In August 1864, Horace accepted a bounty from his county to enlist in Co. G, 189th New York Infantry. He mustered in at the age of 37 on 1 October 1864 to serve one year. His enlistment record indicates that he stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. He mustered out with his company near Washington D. C. on 30 May 1865 after 9½ months service.
Hammond served largely at City Point, Virginia, the headquarters for General Ulysses S. Grant. While at City Point, he was injured when a fellow soldier’s rifle discharged and the bullet became lodged in his leg. Doctors removed the bullet and Hammond recovered without having his leg amputated.
Other soldiers in Co. G, 189th New York Infantry frequently mentioned by Horace include Fayette M. Van Wormur, Leonard Harter, Walter Slayton, Robert C. Gurnsey, John H. Covill, Warren W. Oxx, Abner Cary, and Joseph Tucker.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History claims to have fifty of Horace Hammond’s letters in their archives.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Washington [D. C.]
October the 3d 1864
I sit down to write a few lines to you. We are all well—only my belly aches a little but that is nothing. Hoping this will find you all enjoying the same.
Well that day that you left here [Elmira], we were called out and mustered for our pay and Saturday about five o’clock we was called out and paid and went down in the city about 15 minutes and then after dark we started for Washington. We went about 30 miles and laid there in the cars and the woods all night till seven o’clock the next morning. Then we started for Williamsport. Got there Sunday about noon. Then for Baltimore. Got there Monday morning one o’clock. Laid in the cars till daylight, then went down to headquarters and got breakfast. At eleven o’clock we started for Washington. Got there tonight before dark. Got supper and went to writing. In the confusion.
Tomorrow morning we have two hours to see the capital and then we get our guns and start tomorrow night for City Point [Virginia]. Well, I put in ten dollars and when you write to me, [let me know] if you get. Then I will send some more. You must not write till you hear from me again. That won’t be long. Tell me how you got home and everything and all about the folks.
We fared better than we did in Elmira for victuals. Tell Charles that I will write to him when I get time. I am moving too much now. I want to know all. I bought a testament in Baltimore. [It is a] bad place to write here tonight a sitting on the floor and going around. I would like to see you but when the year is out, then I shall come home to stay with you. Keep good spirits. We will take a boat from here down the Potomac and up the James river.
No more at present but one word—they are wiping them out at Richmond now. Well I must quit and go to bed. Remember, don’t write till you hear from me again. No more at present. I remain your friend unto death. Goodbye for the present.
— Horace J. Hammond
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
City Point, [Virginia]
October 28, 1864
I received your letter tonight and was glad to hear from you and glad to hear that you was all well. It found me in good health and the rest of us is well. We are all enjoying good health.
We moved up about 2 miles today up by the woods and expect to stay here this winter. We have been fixing up our tents this afternoon. The weather is nice. It rained some last night yesterday and last night they had a very hard fight up to Petersburg. Our folks took the Southside railroad from the rebels and last night they fought from ten o’clock until most daylight this morning but our folks keep the road. We could hear the cannons very plain.
You spoke about my not getting your letters. I have had three from you since I have been here. I have wrote 6 or 7 to you since I have been here but you didn’t say anything about that money. I want to know whether you got it or not. I sent you ten dollars in a letter from Washington and twenty dollars by express to Liberty which makes 30 dollars. Now it is the 29th. You said you got it all right. Whether you got it all or not and let me know the first time you write. And send your photograph to me. I would like to see you very much and kiss you but we must wait patient[ly] till we can see each other and if it be the Lord’s will, then we can take comfort again. We must trust I the Lord. I pray to Him every day and for you and you must pray for yourself and for me. We must pray for each other and after a little while we may live with each other and take comfort. You must write me all of the news when you write.
You must get the potatoes dry before it freezes up.
I wrote a letter to James. He is with Sheridan. They have come up to Gordonsville most to Richmond on the back side.
As soon as it gets cool enough, I will write and then have some stuff sent in a box but I will tell you when and where. But you must write often for I want to hear from you often. I write about twice a week and you must to me.
My leg is almost well. I can travel most as well as ever on it. As for getting almost drowned, I hadn’t seen any of that yet. We hadn’t been in any danger of getting drowned. It was news to me. I want you to write who wrote any such thing for I hadn’t heard anything about it before.
Tell Charley and Matilda that I would like to see them very much. Tell them to remember me for I will remember them and they must write to me for they have more time to write than I have. We have to drill and get wood and water and it takes most all of the time. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to come and make them a visit and see them all. We will come by and bye and see them all. Give my love to all enquiring friends. Tell Oscar them pennies are for him to remember pa by. Don’t forget the photograph for I want to see them. You must do the best you can and be patient. A year hasn’t a great while and then I will stay at home with you as long as we live.
Well, you must feel well and pray to the Lord and think it won’t be long. Do you get grain enough for bread. You must look out in season and have some ground before it freezes up. A little will last you some time if you have plenty of potatoes. You didn’t say whether Ferris drawer that wood or not. You must look out for such things before it gets deep snow and you get out. Be sure to have the potatoes buried deep enough so they won’t freeze.
Abner Cary will send for that half ton of hay that I told him he could have and he will send somebody down and you get Charles and they can fix it they can get it of or weigh it just as they are a mind to and Cary will pay you just what hay is worth a ton and pay the money. Let them have it out of the front end of the bay…
Well I must stop for time. Goodbye for the present. Write often and soon as you get this. I remain your dear husband until death from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor Hammond.
Direct as before to City Point, Va., 189th Regiment in care of Captain [WilliWashburn
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
City Point, Virginia
November 16th 1863
I got your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you and that you were all well and the pills. It found us all well but Guernsey. He is a grunting a little but not much. My health is good but my leg. But that is a getting along well. I am a cooking with Oliver Towner. We cook for the company and I don’t have to do any other duty but cook. You needn’t be afraid that we will have to fight any this fall or winter for we have gone in winter quarters and expect to be here this winter. The weather is nice here. we don’t have much rain but we will by and by get enough of it here.
I would like to see you all very much and kiss you but I must be contented with my lot. It won’t be a great while if I live. Then I will be back to stay with you as long as we live. You needn’t be afraid that I will ever enlist again if I get home again with you.
I was glad to hear that you had your stuff all took care of. When you sell your butter, tell me how much you made since I came away from home. You must be careful about your health and take care of yourself. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to see them and I was glad to [see] that they had commenced to live a Christian’s life for I think it is better to live so and I hope they keep on and not turn back to the world a good Christian can take comfort in this world and in the world to come. They must be faithful to their God and He will reward them for it.
Betsy, you mustn’t forget me for I don’t forget you. You must pray for me because I am determined to live a Christian life while I live—whether here or there—and I pray to my God every day and read my Bible every day. If I could see you, I could tell you something but I trust in the Lord for His are right.
Eleanor, you must trust in the Lord and He will carry you through your trouble and pray to him daily and pray for me and I pray for you everyday and I trust in Him to carry me through my trouble. And when I get back there, we can take comfort together.
Well, you must do the best you can and it will be all right.
We are having a nice time here now. If we don’t have anything worse that this, we shan’t have anything bad. We have got nice log houses to live in. We are [at] the headquarters of the Brigade. The provision is here and everything. How much did Jerome charge you a bushel for that wheat? How much is potatoes worth there? Let me know how much things are worth there. I have just been to dinner. We got fresh beef, salt beef, salt pork, potatoes, coffee, sugar, new onions, cod fish, mackerel, soft bread. hard tack, beans and sometimes rice. We get enough to eat.
Eleanor I would like a little of that what you like a good deal of, but I can get along very well till I come home. You must send me a kiss. Take good care of Oscar for me and kiss him for me. No more this time. You must write often. I would like to have seen Leonard but you must tell him that I send my love to him. You must often, very often.
From your dear husband until till death. Goodbye for the present from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor Hammond
Direct to City Point, Va., 189th Regt., in care of Capt. Washburn, Co. G
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
City Point, Virginia
November 18th 1864
I sit down to write you a few lines. We are all well and hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing. We lay here in our quarters and it is very nice weather here and warm. It keeps me pretty busy to cook for the men. My leg is a getting almost well.
I am a boiling some beef for dinner and I must write fast. We get along first rate but it seems like a good while since I came from home. But this winter the days will be short and the time will go off faster. If we stay here till the first of next May, there will be 8 months of our time gone. We came here where we be now the 2nd day of November and we have got some nice shanties to live in. Walter Slayton went to the hospital Wednesday with the fever. Leonard Harter went to the hospital last Tuesday. There hasn’t many sick here. It is very healthy for so many folks as there is here. We enjoy ourselves very well for time.
I can get breakfast and wash the dishes and get something cooked for dinner [ad] it is noon. And so it goes and so the days are very short to me. Yesterday I bought 2 pounds of loaf sugar for 30 cents a pound. Best, I heard that you had a few beaus. That is alright but you must stay with Eleanor till I come back. Then I will come to the wedding. There is no harm in sparking a little for I would like to spark a little myself. Kisses are worth 5 dollars a piece here. I haven’t seen a white woman since I left the Point. But that don’t bother me for I can wait one year without seeing a white woman. What fun is fun but we mustn’t forget our duty to our God and ourselves. We must not forget to pray for ourselves and for one another and read the Bible and live prepared to die when our Lord calls.
I would like to see you all very well but I am contented to wait my lot and I pray to my God everyday and you all must tell the folks that we are all well. Tell Charles and Matilda that I want to hear from them and how they get along. I don’t want them to forget me. If they hear from Charles Edwin, tell them to write to me. And do you hear anything from James? I wrote him a letter some four or five weeks ago but I hadn’t heard from him since. If you let me know and you must write all of the news for I like to read letters from you.
Last night I got a pound of fine but tobacco. It was good. I suppose you sent it. I was glad to get it. I had some plug but it wasn’t good. I get a little chew sometimes to cut but it cost so much that I can’t buy much.
Well, I have just finished dinner and now I will finish my letter. Eleanor, you must write all of the news and write often. I write often to you. Kiss Oscar for me and I would like to kiss you but you must put your trust in the Lord for He is good and don’t forget to pray and I want you all to pray for me for I have been a great sinner.
Well, I can’t think of anything more to write and I guess I will close my letter. It is bad writing but it was wrote in a hurry. You must often. John [Covill] growls yet about Old Abe Lincoln but he has got some here that can shut him up very quick. Goodbye for the present. I remain your dear husband until death and well wishes—
from Horace J. Hammond to Eleanor his wife
Direct to City Point, Va., 189th Regt. Co. G, I’m care of Capt. Washburn
Write often and I will.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
City Point, Virginia
January 3rd 1865
My dear and most loving wife,
I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know how we get along. We are all well as usual and enjoying ourselves first rate for soldiers. My health is tip top but my leg is sore yet. But it will get well when it gets ready. I hope this will find you all well and in good spirits. I got them 2 lbs. of tobacco last night and it got here in time. I only had a little in my box. It is good tobacco. How much was it a pound? We are fixing up things for winter. It spits a little snow today. The most I have to do is to cook and eat since we got our shanty done. I bought a pound of sugar this morning. We don’t her as much sugar as we want to use but we can buy it at Government prices here for we pay for brown sugar 16½ cents a pound. We can buy white sugar for 25 cents a pound but we cannot buy tobacco of the government for they don’t have it. Never mind the pitch fork handle but save the fork. We are having a good time of it now [even] if we don’t have any fighting to do. There won’t be anything very bad about it. We can stand it first rate. Snows quite hard now. It looks like winter here. They have some very cold weather.
John [Covill] is getting quite rational. He can eat as much as anybody. Eleanor, tell Jane that if Fayette ever lives to get home, that she needn’t be afraid that he will ever want to come to Virginia to live for he don’t like the country well enough to live here, nor I neither. It is a very poor country for poor folk to live in or anybody else. One acre of my land is worth ten acres of this land here and I wouldn’t live here anyhow if I was obliged to.
Well, I have just been to supper and I will write some more. I had some bread and milk for supper tonight. I bought a can of condensed milk. There is about a pint in a can and it is thick. Put one tablespoon full in a quart of water and it makes good milk. It is nice in coffee. We manage so that we live very well. It is warm and nice in our tent tonight for we have a good fire and plenty of wood. John has stayed in our tent 3 or 4 nights for they hain’t got their tent built yet but I guess they will get it up tomorrow if they work at it.
Joe Fuches, Ab[ner] Cary, Warren Oxx and John Covill tent together but I want to trade Gurnsey for John for Gurnsey is a good deal worse than John. John is a gentleman by the side a Guernsey.
It snows quite hards tonight. The ground is white now. I guess we will have some sleighing here. If we do, we will tale a sleigh ride. Those coons get scared any about the draft. I guess some of them will have to come down here if they did laugh at us for coming. Then we can laugh at them. We can laugh at them for coming down here. Tell the folks that I would like to see them and I send my love to them all. I trust in the Lord for my st____k. I trust in the Lord for he is good and his m___ endureth forever and He is a merciful God.
Eleanor, trust in the the Lord and read your bible daily and pray for me and O pray for myself daily and read my bible every day and pray to the Lord to give me health and strength. I will serve Him till I die. Keep good courage for the time w___ of 4 months almost gone.
January 4th. I thought that I would write another sheet tonight. This morning there was about one inch of snow on the ground. It was clear today but cold. It is quite cold tonight. I have eat so much that I can’t hardly write. We are all well tonight and hope this will find you enjoying the blessing for good health is a blessing.
My leg is sore yet but it is a getting better. I have had to work quite hard. I have been cooking and chopping wood and I put a patch on my blouse. You had better put some black thread in a letter and send to me if you hadn’t sent any in the box with the other things. I have considerable thread to mend my clothes and dew on buttons and one thing other time goes off very fast. I can’t hardly turn round twice before night times goes comes very fast but we have got 8 months to stay het if we live and if we don’t, our time will be out sooner. But I guess we will come out all right a good deal better than if we had been drafted. I should hate to come down here drafted for drafted men don’t fare very well. A man had better enlist and get something for it than to come drafted for nothing. You needn’t feel very bad because I came for I would have to come now, I guess, if I was up there. But now 4 months are gone and the rest of the time will soon wear off and then I will come home. And if I live to get back home, I will stay there with you while I live if they don’t steal me away and fetch me down here. I wouldn’t stay here if there wasn’t anywhere. It is a very hard looking country here. It don’t look as though they could raise anything.
January the 5th. My health good. My leg sore. My appetite first rate. The rest of the boys are all right. It was very cold last night. It is very pleasant today but quite cold. It froze very hard last night. I have just been to dinner this morning. I went up to the head commissary to get rations for the company. I was weighed. I weighed 165 lbs. I have gained 10 pounds since I was sick. I am very fat now. Fayette weighed 151 lbs—more than he ever weighed. Fayette is very fat. I never saw him when he was so fat and when he could eat so much.
If my leg was well, my health would be the best that it ever was since I had my leg hurt. I can eat all I can get and we get a very good supply if provisions. We get plenty of pork and beef. I had another dish of bread and milk. I ate a wolf’s meal for dinner. I have got pork enough layer up on the shelf to last my family one week if they had it up there and I would like to be up there if I hadn’t any pork or beef.
Pretty soon I will have to boil some potatoes for supper. I looked for a letter this morning but I didn’t get one. I shall look for one tonight. Eleanor, I would like to see you ad have one kiss from you and see my little Oscar and kiss him. But I trust in the Lord for strength and health to live through the year and return to my little family that I love so well. Eleanor, trust in the Lord. He will help you in your trouble. Pray for me that I may return to my family. Goodbye for the present from your dear husband and well wisher until death. Write [me.] Direct [to] City Point, Va., NYSV Co. G, 189th Regt., 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps in care of Capt. Washburn
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
City Point, Virginia
January 7th 1865
My dear beloved wife,
I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know how we get along. We are all well at present and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing and in good spirits. My health is very good for me—better than it was last summer up there except my leg that is sore yet and I guess it will be while I live. But I can travel almost as well. I am very fleshy. I am the fastest that I have been in a good while.
This morning I got my hat and some tea and I was glad to get them. I had a little of that other tea yet. I don’t drink much tea but I like a cup of tea as well as ever. I thought that I wouldn’t send for any more tea but I am glad that you sent it. Green tea is worth 4 dollars a pound down here but they may keep it before I will buy it. The rest of the boys are getting along first rate. Fayette is a getting very fat—the latest I ever see him.
Yesterday it rained most all day and last night. Today it didn’t rain. This afternoon I have been washing. I washed 12 shirts and drawers besides my own. I get 10 cents apiece for washing but I rubbed a hole in one of my fingers. It was very sire tonight. We are a getting it so that it looks very nice here. We have cleared all off and digging the stumps all out. It is very muddy here now. It is almost impossible to draw a load.
While I am sitting, the mail came and I got 2 letters from you. No 12, December the 30th, and No. 13, January the 1st. I was glad to hear from you and I will them and go to bed.
January 8th. Very cold this morning. Froze very hard last night. My health good. I cooked beans for dinner and then had to boil beef. I feel first rate. We made some wheat flour pancakes for dinner and they were first rate and I had some sugar and butter on them. It is Sunday night. I went over to see Sylvanus Covill this afternoon and it is only a little ways over there. It has been very cold today and will freeze very hard tonight.
Eleanor, I guess that you needn’t feel very bad because I came down here because I guess I would have had to come now if I hadn’t a come when I did. I don’t feel very bad about it for my time will be half out by the time that they will come an I got more pay that they will. I wouldn’t come down here drafted anyhow.
You must get somebody to draw that wood for you can’t go without wood. You mustn’t let anybody have any of the corn. I don’t want you to sell a bit of it to anybody. You want to keep what you don’t use to feed the pigs next fall to fatten them. Maybe that we won’t raise any next fall and if Charles wants half ton of hay and will pay what hay is worth and will pay the money for it, let him have it. And if Charles don’t want it, keep it all and don’t sell it. Keep it till next winter.
How long did you pasture Charles’ cows and did he pay you anything for it? If he keeps his cows there long, he had ought to pay you something for it. You have to pay him for what he does for you and if folks charge you for what they do, you must look out for yourself. If you don’t, there won’t anybody else. I would like to see you but I can wait for my time. My courage is good and my faith in the Lord. I put my trust in the Lord and pray to Him for health and strength to carry me through.
We lay here in camp. We have enough to do, wood to get, and the ground to clear off for it was in the woods where we encamped and cooking to do. But if my health keeps good, I can do all I have to do.
I would like one kiss from you and Oscar but I can wait till I get home. You must keep good courage and don’t forget to pray daily to our heavenly father for he can take us through our troubles.
Well, now it is the 9th of the month. My health is good this morning and the rest of the boys are alright and we are getting as fat as hogs. My leg is sore yet but it is a getting better. It is the best it has been since it was shot. It is very cold here this morning. It froze very hard last night.
Betsy, I suppose that you don’t get time to say anything to me for you are looking at bigger things. That is alright, but I would like to see you. When you move away, you mustn’t forget to write for I want to hear from you if I can’t see you. I trust in the Lord that I will live to come home and see all of the folks but may be hat you won’t be there when I get back. Bit I send my love to you and give my love and best respects to Leonard. Tell Charles and Matilda that I would like to see them and they must write a letter to me for I hadn’t got much paper to write on. When that paper gets here that you sent in Fayette’s box, then I will write to them. I send my love to them. Tell Samantha and Jane that I would like to see them. Tell them to be faithful to their God and they will be rewarded for it. I send my love to them.
Eleanor, a few words to you. Be faithful to your Heavenly Father and serve Him and He will reward you for it. Eleanor, it makes me feel bad to think of the precious time that I have sinned away, but I am determined to serve Him as long as I live and if I live to come back, then we can take comfort to live Christians together. Keep good courage and pray to the Lord of hosts and He will take us through our troubles. And if we are faithful, we will land on that happy shore where sorrow never comes.
The most of the men think that the war will be settled by Spring and our General thinks so. I trust in God that it may be. I feel first rate here. If it wasn’t;t for my dear wife and son up there so far from me, I could take comfort here I believe the Lord is able to carry me through. But I would rather be with my family if I could. But I take the thing very patient and willing to have a little trouble for one year. And then if I live, we can take comfort together as long as we live.
There hasn’t been any picket firing along the lines for 3 or 4 days now. It is reported that Grant and Lee has gone to Washington together and that they had orders not to fire anymore along the lines till further orders. They went from City Point together on a boat under a flag of truce and I hope they will do something. Some of the officers offer to bet a thousand dollars that the war will be settled by next spring and I hope it will. They can’t suit me any better and let me return to my dearly beloved little family.
The weather is very nice today. I had another dish of bread and milk for dinner. Take and steap a cup of coffee and sweeten it and then put a tablespoon full of condensed milk in it and crum on the bread and it is good. I am getting very fat. I hadn’t had any diarrhea since I left Elmira [New York] and only once. Sometimes I have went a week without anything passing my bowels.
Tell Jerome if you see him that I hadn’t forgot him and I will write to him as soon as I get some more paper. My paper is very scarce. Tell him that I send my love to him and best respects. Tell him he must write. Eleanor, keep good courage and the time will soon come when I will come back home. A little over 4 months of it gone now. Kiss Oscar for me and when I come home, I will kiss you. Write often—very often—and of the news. No more at present. I guess you will think there is enough of this for I am in a hurry. I remain your most loving and dear husband and shall until death. Goodbye for the present. Write. Don’t forget that I love you more that ever. Tell William Nash that I was sorry to hear that he had such bad luck [and] that I send my best respects to him and that I would like to see him and his folks. Goodbye from your dear husband, — Horace J. Hammond
Direct your letters as before. Write often.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
City Point, Virginia
January 16, 1865
Near and dear wife,
Although a good ways apart, yet you are near and dear to me. You are my dear loving wife. I sit down to let you know how we are a getting along. We are all well and getting along well. My health is very good. My leg is a getting well. Fayette’s health is first rate and he is as fat as a pig and tough as a bear. Joseph’s health is good. He can eat as much as anybody. His health is first rate but he complains of his breach but he don’t want to do any duty. He wants to play off but it hasn’t very bad. He is fat as a hog and he says he feels well—only that I think if he had had my leg, then he might talk. But you mustn’t let anybody know what I have written to you for it would make hardness. I can trust you I hope about this.
We are a doing well. The weather is nice now and not very cold now. I hope this will find you in good health and all of the rest of the folks and enjoying God’s blessing for good health is one of the best of blessings.
Tell Best that I would like to be there to their wedding and get some of their wedding cake to eat. I don’t begrudge her her comfort. Tell them that I send my best respects to them both and my love to them. Tell them to remember me when they go to bed.
Yesterday the boys got their boxes and I got my things. That cake in the tin was very nice and good. My things was all right and nice and these things come very nice and good. Last night I got a letter from you — No. 17, the 10th of January—and some black thread in it and I was glad to hear from you and that your health was so good and the rest of the folks. And I am glad that you have got that note paid and it won’t bother you now. I can’t write much today for I hain’t got much time to write but I will write more in a day or two.
John got his when Fayette and Joseph did. His honey run out some but his things same good. But John has got the hypo most of the time.
Yesterday Captain [Burrage] Rice’s funeral serman was preached at the Brigade Headquarters at half past ten o’clock. ¹
Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar but I can’t till they discharge me. But the war news are first rate. The most of the folks think that it will be settled by Spring and I hope it will. The people of the South are going to turn Davis out. They have got mad at him. They think that he will destroy all of their country and they say that Davis will run them to the devil.
Eleanor, you must trust in the Lord and live a good Christian and I will do the same and if we live, we will meet again after a little while and then we can take comfort and live Christians together. And if we don’t live, we will meet in Heaven above where all is love. I feel contented till my time comes to come home and if I live, then I will stay with you while we live. It won’t be but a little while before the year will be out. Give my love to Charles and Matilda ad Jane and all of the folks. I must stop. You must kiss Oscar for me and do the best you can. Write often—very often.
I have been washing this afternoon. Goodbye for the present. I remain your affectionate and fear husband until death. I remain your well wisher, — Horace J. Hammond
Direct the same. Write to me what hay is worth and potatoes, grain, and everything. Goodbye from your dear husband.
¹ On January 11, 1865, Companies H and K went down the Jerusalem Plank Road (now a portion of U.S. Highway 301 near Petersburg known as the Crater Road) on a foraging expedition, where Confederate guerillas ambushed them and wounded Captain Burrage Rice, who was apparently executed by the guerillas after sending the train and men back to Union lines.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
City Point, Virginia
January 20th 1865
My dewar wife and best friend,
I sit down to let you know that we are all well and in good spirits and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing and all in good spirits. I got a letter from you this morning—No. 19, written January the 13—and was glad to hear from you and that you all was in good health. There must be one letter that hasn’t come yet, No. 18 I hain’t got. The last one before this morning was No. 17 (January 10th). You have misnumbered them or else there is one that I hain’t got for I hain’t got No. 18 at all. Maybe that I will get it yet.
My health is first rate ands my leg is a getting well. It is all healed up so that it don’t run anymore ad I feel in good spirits and I don’t think we will have much fighting to do and theme will soon wear off. Then I can come home to stay with you and then we can live Christians together and then we can take comfort together as long as we live. And then we can take more comfort than we ever did for we will know what comfort it to live good Christians together and serve our Heavenly Father. While we live, only trust in Him the Lord and keep good courage and at His appointed time, everything will come right and good. I pray daily to my God and read my bible daily and I live in accordance with it.
Eleanor, you mustn’t despair now for the time grows shorter every day—most five months gone. Pray to your God and live a good Christian and keep good courage and all things will be right. My courage is better than it was when I first came down here for everything has a better prospect than it did then. I would like to see you and Oscar but I know I can’t till my time is out and so I don’t worry about it and live in hopes of the future and trust in the Lord, mu God, with all my strength and I want you to pray for me that I may be faithful to my God while I live so that when I die, that I can meet my wife in heaven and all my Christian friends.
The rest of the boys are all right but John [Covill]. He is a grunting yet. Fayette is as tough as a pig and fat as a pig. We are all getting along first rate. The weather is nice here now but considerable cold and freezes quite hard most every night. I have just had my dinner and now I will finish my letter. I don’t hear anything more about getting our pay. They think now that we won’t get it till the first of March but we don’t know. If we don’t get it now, we will int the spring. You will have to do the best you can till I get my pay. If Charles pays you for that hay, that will help you some and get along till I get my pay for we will get it by and bye anyhow. I have got to cook some beans this afternoon and I hain’t got much time to write.
When you write to me and send only one sheet, then you might put one in that you didn’t write on and that will help to keep me in paper. Samantha does so with Joseph’s letters. Tell Charles and Matilda that I want to live a good Christian and I want they should pray for me that I may be faithful to the end. I send my love to them. I want to see them very much. Tell Jane and Samantha that I would like to see them but I can’t but I send my love to them and I hope they will both hold out faith to the end in serving the Lord and Master.
Tell Betsy that by the time this gets there I suppose that she will be married but I send my love to her. Goodbye for the present from your near and dear friend and true husband until death, — Horace J. Hammond to his dear wife Eleanor Hammond
Write often and don’t forget to write. Direct the same as before.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
City Point, Virginia
January 30, 1865
My most loving and dear wife,
I sit down to write a few lines to let you know that we are all in good health and our spirits first rate and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing, My leg is some sore. It has broke on the inside of my knee but it is some better today. Last night I was whittling a bone with my pocket knife and it shut up ad cut the end of my forefinger on my right hand off and it bothers me to write but it will soon get well.
Last night I got a letter from you—No. 23, January the 22—and was glad to hear from you and that you was well and I hope that you will keep well and I duly pray that you may have good health. I was sorry Betsy was going away but maybe that you can get along if Charles and Matilda stay with you. You must do the best you can and be very careful of your health and be careful about catching cold and take good care of Oscar. Leonard and Betsy will be gone before this gets there. You must put your trust in the Lord and keep good courage. Pray to Him daily. I do, and pray for you. I live in hopes that we will meet to live together here on earth and take comfort to live Christians together and serve our Lord and Master while we live.
Will you have wood enough to last till spring? Eleanor, I would like to see you and kiss you but the time is rolling on. It will soon be spring and then it will be better for you for you won’t have to run round in the snow. It has been very cold here and froze very hard but it is warmer today and is a very pleasant day. It is very quiet along the line now. The officers and all of the soldiers think that the war is about played out and I hope it is, but I guess that some more of the folks will have a chance to come down here and see how it looks here. The draft don’t scare me. I hain’t afraid of it but I suppose that they are up there. And if they come, our time will be most out by the time they get here. Let them come. The government don’t pay any more bounty. Them that comes this spring won’t make much out of it. I hain’t sorry that I come when I did for then I got a good pay for coming and if I had stayed there, I would had to come now for almost nothing and I feel first rate about it.
Why of course I’d rather be with my family but I can get along for one year if I live and if I don’t live, I mean to [live] so that I can meet them in heaven where we will meet to part no more. Tell Charles and Matilda that I send my love to them and live in hopes that the time will soon come when I can see them and enjoy their company. Tell Jane and Samatha that I send my love to them and that I trust in the Lord that I will live to come back and see them again. And Eleanor, I want to see you and Oscar and I think that I will if you live.
About the furloughs, if anybody’s folks are sick or died, they can get 15 days furlough but if they hain’t, they can’t. And I had rather not come if I could come if you wasn’t sick for the river is froze so that it is very cold and bad to come and then I couldn’t stay but a little while. But if you was very sick, then I should try to come. You must do the best you can and write often. Give my love to all the folks. Tell them when I come home that I will come and see them. Goodbye for the present from your near and dear husband and best friend and well wisher until death. Remember me and write often. Kiss dear Oscar for me and I will kiss you for it. Joseph was weighed this afternoon and weighed 170 pounds—not very poor is that.
— Horace J. Hammond
Direct the same.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Camp near Hatcher Run, Virginia
March 7th 1865
My kind, dear loving wife,
I sit down to let you know how I am getting along. My health is first rate and I feel first rate—only I would like to be with you. Joseph [and] Fayette’s health is good and they are a getting along first rate. They are as fat as pigs and I hope this will find you in good health and a getting along first rate and in good spirits and trusting in the Lord. My health is tip top now. I am middling fat.
The weather is very warm and nice today. Yesterday Fayette and myself washed for the company and got 1 dollar and 80 cents apiece. That make 3 dollars and 60 cents that we have made apiece washing less than a week. I can make some spending money that way and I don’t spend much now-a-days. I hain’t much news to write. Joseph Tucker’s boy and the two Harper’s boys came here to our company last night.
I wish I was there with you, We would take some comfort but the time is getting shorter. It is on the last half and that sill soon wear off if I live. Six months hain’t very long and I trust in the Lord that I will come out all right. I read my bible every day and pray to me Heavenly Father that He will give me health and to come home again and live with my dear little family that I love so much. I suppose that Leonard ad Betsy is there. You hain’t said anything about their going away and if they are there, I would like to see them. But I can’t now and I send my love to them. Tell Charles and Matilda that I would like to see them and I think that I will if ew live. But I would like to hear from them. They get more time to write than I do for I have a good deal to do every day and he can write in the evening but I can’t very well. I send my love to them. Tell Jane that I would like to take dinner with her and have some ham and eggs. Tell Samantha that I am coming to make her a visit next fall if I live. I send my love to all of the folks.
Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar and be there to stay with you. We just got our box. It came first rate. The pies broke up some but they were first rate. The rest of the things was alright. The pies wasn’t moldy a bit. The ink is alright. It is all right—only the pies broke up some. I wish I was there with you, Eleanor, but my courage is good. I think we will come out all right. You must keep good courage and trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him and if we don’t never meet on earth, we can in heaven. I mean to live a Christian while I live and then if I diem I will have a hope in Christ and we Neve meet on earth, we can meet in heaven never to part.
We have got provision enough to last us a good while and tea and tobacco and paper and envelopes enough to last me a good while. You must see who you can get to put that ground in and plow the potatoes ground and see who will cut the hay if Charles don’t. Find out whether he is a going to pay or not and let me know and sell one of the pigs and don’t let them cheat you in the weight of it. You must write all of the news and about everything for you are my best friend on earth and I mean to be a friend to you as long as I live and I love you as I do my eyes. And you are my dear and my little love ___.
I will put in 10 cent shinplaster for Oscar to keep and when I come home, then I will see how much money he has got. Goodbye for the present. From your dear husband until death. To my dear wife and son that I love so well. — Horace J. Hammond
to Eleanor Hammond and son.
The boys are all around our tent.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
Camp near Hatcher Run, Virginia
March 9th 1865
My dear loving wife and son,
I sit down to write but I am standing up and let you know how we are a getting along. My health is first rate and I have got a first rate appetite and I am as fat as a pig. Joseph and Fayette is tip top. We are a getting along well. We can’t complain. We hain’t had it very bad yet and I hope this will find you in good health and Oscar too.
It rained very hard all day yesterday and all night last night but it is warm and nice today. I am glad that Leonard and Betsy is a going to stop at the Union for that won’ be so far but that you can go and see them and Betsy will be there till the first of April and then you can stay without that girl of Ferris’ if you can for I wouldn’t have her to stay with me if I could get along without her for it won’t be a great while from the first of April and it will be warm weather. But if you want her to stay with you, get her. But if you can get along without her, you had better and it won’t cost you so much to live and we must try and save all we can and I will save all I can and send to you. And if she ain’t there, you can make more butter.
I got a letter from you. It was No. 40, March the 3rd. I haven’t got the 39th [letter] yet but it will come, I guess, for I have got all the rest. I was glad to hear from you and that you was well and a getting along so well. I am glad that it has got warmer and settled the snow down. You can get around. I will put in another 20 dollar bill. I washed for the company and got some and I sold my boots today for seven dollars and 70 cents and I will wear shoes. And I sold some of my victuals in the box. It had been so long a coming and it is so war, and wet that I thought it would spoil before I could eat it up and then if we should move, I couldn’t carry it. I sold some of the pies and some of the biscuit and some of the butter. We got enough to eat and I thought I would sell some of it and send the money to you. Then it would be better than to let it spoil.
John’s stuff we sold. He is in the hospital and we couldn’t send it to him and we sold it. His pies was smashed up very bad and they wasn’t worth much and I will send the money to you and you can give it to Prudy. There is 4 dollars and 25 cents for Prudy in that bill and you give it to her. I thought I would send it to her for John has got his pay and he don’t want it. That will make eighty-six dollars and 25 cents that I have sent to you and you must let me know when you get it. And if you can sell that pig, it will make you a lot of money and we must save all we can.
I wish I could see you and those with you but I can’t but I trust in the Lord that we will meet again and take comfort together. We must pray for each other and be faithful to our Lord and Maker. I would like to see Oscar and kiss him but the time grows shorter. It is on the last 6 months and the time will soon wear off. Do the best with the things you can and keep good courage and trust in the Lord and He will carry us through our troubles. I will have a little over five dollars left to use and that will be enough for me to use. I hain’t a going to use so much money for the next six months as I have the six months [past]. I can just as well save it till I get home and then we can have it to use.
Goodbye for the present. From your dear and loving husband until death. To my dear loving wife and son Oscar. — Horace J. Hammond
to Eleanor Hammond
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Camp near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
March 14, 1865
My dear, kind and loving wife,
I sit down to write a few lines to let you know how I am a getting along. My health is first rate and we are a getting along first rate. My leg is as well as it has been since it was broke there in Pennsylvania and I feel first rate. The weather is warm and nice today but it [looks] as though we might get thunder showers and I hope this will find you in good health and enjoying the blessings of heaven and my dear little Oscar too. I got a letter from you last night. It was No, 41, March 5th, and I was glad to hear from you for I hain’t had a letter in a good while from you. I told you in my other letter that I hadn’t got No. 39 and I hain’t got it yet. But maybe that I will get it yet. I was glad to hear that you was well and in good spirits and I pray that my dear little family may have good health till I come home to stay with them.
Yesterday I washed for some of the boys again and got 2.05 two dollars and five cents and I have made two rings and 50 cents a piece for them. Today I have been cooking beans as common. I cook about half bushel of beans every 2 or 3 days. I have got the most of my stuff eat up what I didn’t sell. Them raison cakes was dreadful good but it was so wet and warm here that it soon began to mold and I sold some of it and sent the money to you. I have got a few fried cakes yet.
We lay here in camp very quiet but we don’t know how much longer we shall lay here and we may lay lay here a month yet. But I guess the war is about played out. There is a great many deserters from the rebels and some of them come in on our picket line and we can see them. Yesterday there Wass four cavalry came in with their horses. They average about 90 a day along this line now. We go the news last night that Sheridan had got Lynchburg and the Danville Railroad. They begin to cry for something to eat in Richmond now.
Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar but I will have to wait my time. I would like to kiss you and be with you but I feel very contented for the time is a rolling on. It is on the last half now. It will soon wear off. Trust in the Lord and be faithful to Him and don’t forget to pray for I mean to live a Christian while I live. I would like to be there with you but I know I can’t till my time is out and so I might just as well fell well about it as not to. I trust that the good Lord will let us live to see each other again and live Christians together. I don’t hear anything from Charles anymore. Give my love to them and tell them I would like to hear from them. Tell Leonard and Betsy that I send my love to them and that I would like to hear from them. Give my love to all of the folks.
I was glad that Leonard stopped at the Switch for it will be a good place for you to go when you go to the Post Office. Do the best you can. Goodbye for the present. From your true and loving husband until death, To my dear loving wife and son, the best friends that I have got on earth. — Horace J. Hammond
To Eleanor Hammond and Oscar
Direct the same. Write often—very often.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN
Camp near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
March 18, 1865
My dear loving wife that I love so much,
I sit down to write you how I am a getting along. My health is first rate and my leg is all right. The rest of the boys are alright only Joseph he has a cold. And I hope this will find you in good health and in good spirits and my little Oscar too.
The weather is very nice here now and warm. I thought I would put in five dollars more and send to you. Then I will have about seven dollars and fifty cents. That will be enough for me now. I just got a letter from you and was glad to hear from you and that you was well, It was No. 43, March the 10th. I have been washing again this afternoon enough to come to three dollars and seventy-five cents. I think that I had better earn a little money than to spend so much and it will be better for me to feel tip top for health.
We lay here in camp but we don’t know how long we shall lay here. I got a box of pills that you sent me. I was glad to see them for I don’t feel well. Then I will take some of them.
Eleanor, I would like to see you and Oscar and kiss you but it is on the seventh month. The time is a wearing off. It will soon roll around. You don’t say anything about Charles whether he is a going to stay there or not and work or ground or not. I wish I was there. I would work it and if you hain’t sold that pig, you had better sell it. One will be enough to keep. I have quit cooking and got a gun. I had just as leave carry a gun as to cook and they don’t have any cook in the summer for we can’t carry the kettles. We are a getting along first rate. You must keep good courage for my courage is good and I think I will be there to see you again.
We get lots to eat now—more than we can eat. I have made 4 or 5 rings and sold them for 50 cents apiece. I want to save all I can. This five dollars will make 95.50 cents that I have sent to you with the money that was for Pudy. I don’t think there will be much fighting but we don’t know. You must do the best you can and trust in the Lord and be faithful and I mean to be to the end, and if we never meet on earth, we can in heaven above. It seems like a good while to be from my dear but the time will soon wear off if we live and when I get home then we can take comfort. While we live we must put out trust in the Lord and He will carry us through.
Give my love to all of the folks and keep some for yourself. We must be patient for I must stay my time out but a little over 5 months hain’t much.
We have just been and got rations. We have got some potatoes and the soft bread is piled up in our tent. I wish that you could be here one day and see it and we could go hoe. Yesterday they had a horse race here. There was 25 or 30 thousand folks here to see it. There is lots of wild onions coming up here. The [camp] is full of them. My loving wife, I would like to see you but we must write often to one another. Give my love to Leonard and Betsy. Tell them I would like to see them. Goodbye for the present. I remain your dear, loving husband until death. From Horace Hammond
to my dear loving wife that I love so much and my dear little son, Eleanor Hammond and Oscar Hammond. Write often and all of the news. Don’t forget to write all of the news. Direct the same.