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Primary Sources for the 118th New York Infantry
The Elizabethtown Post, September 18, 1862
Letter from the 118th.
near RELAY HOUSE,
Md., Sept. 6th, 1862.
Having become heartily disgusted with unfounded rumors concerning our departure, we hailed with delight the order “pack up” and at eight o'clock P. M. September 1st, the familiar voice of the Col. rang out “Attention battalion! Forward March!” and immediately the enclosure of Barrackes re-echoed and the old “Battle Ground” of Plattsburgh resounded to the vigorous tread of the 118th. Halting front of Fouquet's we responded to the cheers and greetings of the assembled throng.resuming our march, we boarded the Canada and at ten o-clock were under way for Whitehall, at which place we found twenty-eight cars in waiting, which we filled speedily, and moving onward halted at Fort Edward, to allow Co. A to receive the congratulations of its friends and feast at their expense, on the good things of Washington Co.
Our next stand was at Old Saratoga, and with a splendid reception did we meet. Women and men laiden with eatables, were promptly on hand to receive us. Not satisfied with this, our canteens were filled with ice-water and all were at liberty to regale themselves on “spring water,” free of charge. In short, young and old seemed to vie with each other in their attentions toward us, and as we moved onward, long and loudly we cheered for Saratoga and its citizens. Ever will we remember their kindness, and hope we may have the pleasure of revisiting said cool retreat, when rebels are in the dust.
At Albany we were welcomed at the Volunteer's Hall and ladies ministered to our wants abundantly, with peaches, coffee, and other essentials; after which we were sent on our way rejoicing. We arrived at the metropolis of the Empire State at an early hour Wednesday morning and were conducted to the Central Bark Barracks, for rest and rations. About sundown we were marched abouard the John belknap and a few hours ride brought us to Amboy, N. J. […] by cars to Camden, ferrying across the river about sunrise. Thursday we landed at Philadelphia. Breakfast was furnished as by the Cooper […]tions, and all that heart could wish, we had, regardless of labor and expense. Sick and wounded from the recent battles were here being cared for, among whom we saw Daniel Payne, of Wadham's Mills, who has lost a right arm. During our march through the city, we were loudly cheered on all sides. Apples, peaches and melons were given us by ladies would could reach us amid the throng. Windows, doors, and every available place was filled to overflowing. For hospitality, patriotism and good feeling generally, we place Philadelphia against any city in the Union.
At the city of Baltimore we were received with load and enthusiastic cheering, though rumors at York had led us to anticipate trouble. We were given rations at the Union Hall, after which we took cars for Washington, having heard said city was besieged. But what was our astonishment at awaking Friday morning to find ourselves in Baltimore, with no appearance of Stonewall Jackson's approach, but only a Regiment of Massachusetts Vols. had joined us. We drew arms and equipments, filled our canteens and haversacks, and passed cautiously by cars to the Relay House; from thence one half mile toward Washington and marched to the hill where now stand the tents of our Regiment.
I have just returned from roll call and in common with all the “boys” have received fifteen rounds of ammunition, as it is reported the enemy are within three of four miles. Canonading was heard at the south and east of us this A. M.
On a hill, north, about a mile distant, is an encampment of three thousand. A mile south is a Pennsylvania Regiment. One or two Regiments have passed here to-day for the south.
We have but few sick, and all in good spirits, waiting, and preparing for a peep at “Secesh.”
Let Essex Co. keep doing her duty, and you young men who are not with us, but should be, enlist and come on. Wait not for the extra inducement. Perpetuate the institution and government which […] blood and […] as ever the world produced. The struggle has but just begun, and 'tis a small pittance you will reap at home. You may withold help now and produce a long, long war. You may cause us to retreat and retreat, to be subject to a tyranising usurper.
Will we do either of the above? Let us on then, to the fight, and make short work, or rest assured e're long, the world will resound with the death cry of a government in its last throes of agony, and other nations will sing our dirge; in the land where we flourished and went down.
Let us cry then; be […] country! Richmond and victory! and e're long victory will perch upon our banners and peace abound in our borders.
E. S. B.
Letter from Oakley Smith to his brother
Camp Wool Sept. 24/62
Your joint and several letters came to hand day before yesterday & in order to secure another equally long and acceptable epistle, I hasten to answer it. I thank you very much Henry for your promptness and also for stirring up the rest to write. I will try to answer each in turn & think perhaps make out nearly as long as a document as yours. In the first place we are just where we were a week ago and situated in every respect very much the same. The boys are all having very good health, and are in fine spirits. I assure you that - however much you
at home may […] your own safety & be troubled concerning our absence, that we do not get the amount of anxiety for ourselves. A great many things in camp are calculated to keep up ones spirits. In fact almost every day something or other amusing takes place. The camp is perhaps a place of as much jollying as any, though too often there is too much wickedness and profanity mixed with it. Our regiment is better in this respect than most of them are yet it is far from the standard of pure morality
There is not as much swearing as there was a month ago & not near as much drunkenness for this there is severe punishment.
In our tent we have very harmonious times. Perhaps with the exception of one we have as good a set of
fellows in our tent as in any on the ground. It is now Wednesday evening if you should chance to make us a call & stick your head into our tent you would find us about as follows, beginning at the top. Suspended on two sticks attached by ropes to the ridge pole of our tent hang our guns, at the rear end of our tent we have upright pole with tree limbs […] a few inches long on which are hung, coats, caps, and accoutrements, at the height of three feet across this we have a board fixed for similar purposes. The tent fronts to the south. At the North end there we have our knapsacks &c. for pillows. Our overcoats for a bed & blankets for covering rigs us for a sound sleep. At present Oscar is writing Brunnelle, Albert &
Johnny Coleley are reading testaments & newspapers. Jo Fisk is down to the bridge & has been for several days. Our furniture consists mainly of a plain board box two feet in length & 15 inches high and answer for table, bureau and writing desk besides having our corner for an ammunition box. For candlesticks we have bayonets for tumblers canteens & other thing in a style equally luxuriant.
You wrote about David, if you will send me his address I will write to him. I was afraid that in the late battles the boys might have been hurt. Write about all the boys you hear any thing from when you write again. Thomas Turnbull, Martin Nichols, Ham Higby and others. If you were here a month from now then you would have a good time gathering black walnuts and chestnuts. I have just been cracking a few. write often Henry whether you have much to write about or not. I sent you my tuning fork which i did not want & […] sends have you recd them. Good Bye Oakley The boys are all all very well
Oakley M. Smith, 118th New York Infantry
U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center
Plattsburgh Republican, September 27,1862
From the 118th Regiment.
We received yesterday a letter from Quarter-master P. K. DELANEY, dated “Camp Wool, near Relay House, Md, Sept. 22.” Lieut. DELANEY says all the officers and men of the Regment are in good health and spirits–not ten on the sick list, all told.“ We are encamped on a beautiful hill back of the Relay House, which gives us a good view of the surrounding country, here is stationed here the 138 Pennsylvania, 4th Maryland, 118th N. York, and one of BURNSIDE'S batteries commanded by Capt MCMAHAN. In this command I find all the boys that went out with Lieut. J. H. DONOVAN, except two. They have seen much hard service, but have not yet been in a battle.
The weather is warm here, the thermometer at 94 in the shade on Sunday; but the nights are cold and damp, owing to the heavy dews, which sometimes runs off from our tents like rain,”
Mr. Delaney also sent us a Secession company color, which was taken at Frederick, Md., and given to Mr. D. by a Baltimore friend. It is perforated by 28 balls. The color may be seen at this office.
Partial Letter from Oakley Smith to his brother
Camp Wool, Oct. 9th. Thursdy
Your letter written Sunday reached me Wednesday night making the quickest passage of any I have recd. I rejoice with you at your increasing prosperity & success, & hope it will not be marred by any adverse fortune wither through the chances of war or through the natural & unavoidable accidents of human affairs.
I would like to see little Nelly of whose advent you speak with so much paternal pride.
May the little stranger who has already twined the cords of love and affection so closely around both your hearts, escape the dangers of infancy & childhood to become the ornament of her home & joy of her friends.
I am also glad to hear of the general good health & prosperity of you all, & were this unhappy war at an end there would seem to be nothing to hinder our enjoyment & happiness. But there is no just reason for our being disheartened even by this. God revealed Himself to his chosen people in a cloud by day but in the dark tempestuous night - He shone forth in a flaming fire. In our national night The Same Being reveals Himself in the blaze of contending armies. His just anger at our national sins may consume & destroy, but if we follow the path marked out […] if needs be longer than we would desire we shall reach the promised land. This war with every […] in its progress seems […] nation of the course of slavery.
Unless the rebellion is ended in three months, the merry singing of bells which usher in the new year will toll the death knell forever of slavery on the American continent.
Step by step it has been reached, led by ambition, urged on by a […] determination. The rebels will hardly have reason enough left to […] till the final step is taken.
Then with slavery gone, the Union restored, peace secured, our country will be great & happy.
Sorrow will fill many hours many tears will fall over the […] of loved ones, many halting & crippled will live out lives of unwilling inaction, will fight over again their old battles, by many a fireside many will survive to live lives of usefullness & maintain the institution […] their courage
will pass tears for those who fell for the Union will cease to fall; sorrow for the fallen heroes will no longer moisten the cheek of sympathizing grief. Our hundreds of battle fields will be visited & dug up in search for relics of the great Rebellion.
There is one other even to complete the picture.
The trumpet shall sound & from the old battle fields shall arise brave forms over whose dust stood no monuments, no white glove of remembrance, forms clad no longer in martial array, but arrayed in white robes, bearing not as when they fell the flashing sword, or gleaming bayonet, but with harps in their hands, joining not now in the battle shout of victory but singing with heavenly melody “Halleluiah, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Glory & Heaven be to him that sitteth on the throne & unto the Lamb forever”
Oakley M. Smith, 118th New York Infantry
U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center
Sun, October 24, 1862
The Late Homicide on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
The funeral of the late Wm. Irving Reynols, who was shot and killed by private Eugene Dupruis, of the 118th New York volunteers, took place on Wednesday afternoon, from his late residence No. 63 South Poppleton street. Among those present were the officers and members of the Pcohontas Tribe, No. 3, Improved Order of the Red men; officers and employees of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and a number of the commissioned officers of the 118th New York volunteers. The remains were interred in the Western Cemetery. Yesterday morning the wife of the deceased received a copy of the following preamble and resolutions, as did also Mr. Wm. Prescott Smith, superintendent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, in the service of which Mr. Reynolds was so long employed:
“Headquarters 118th Regiment, New York State Volunteers, Camp Wool, near Relay House. - Whereas Mr. William Irving Reynolds, a citizen of Baltimore, and engineer on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, has come to his death by a most melancholy and unfortunate occurrence, and with which we, as a regiment, feel most deeply concerned.
“Therefore Resolved, That as we are powerless to make any compensation to the family and friends of the deceased in the loss of a husband, father and friend, we extend to them our warmest sympathy in this thier deep affliction, and will ever remember with them this special visitation of Providence as among the saddest of our lives; and while we offer our lives and prayers for our country, we will offer our prayers for the protection nad happiness of the family of the deceased.
Resolved, that we will cheerfully, and with hearts gladdened that we may be allowed so to do, tender to the family of the deceased a sum sufficient to cover the funeral expenses.
“Resolved, That a committee, consisting of the four senior captains now present, do represent this regiment at the funeral of the deceased, and present the foregoing testimonials of our respect and esteem.”
Signed by Captain James H. Pierce, chairman, and Lieut. Edward Riggs, secretary.
The Elizabethtown Post, October 30, 1862
U. S. HOSPITAL at CAMP WOOL,
Oct. 23, 1862.
MR. EDITOR - All confusion with us this morning, as orders have been received to “pack up” once more and ere set of sun we shall be moving southward. I know not the place of destination.
Company F is indeed sad this morning. Amid the bustle, the gloom of death has settled upon us with serious effect; but, ah! how much more heavily will it fall upon the friends and relatives of our loved fellow soldier and companion in arms. LARHETT L. THOMPSON, who expired at ten minutes past eight this morning, of that (to the soldier) dread disease, Typhoid Fever. He was admitted to the Hospital Oct. 11, tho he had been previously ill. The best medical skill and most attentive […]ing was of no avail. We esteemed him for his personal worth and gentlemanly bearing. In him existed those virtues which constitute the true man, and he died, as he had lived, a Christian.
The nature of his disease was such that, for a few days previous to his death, he uttered but few sentences that were intelligible. Once he spoke of his Bible, and yesterday afternoon, as I stood over him, he brokenly said as he grasped my hand, “I fear I shall not live till tomorrow.” These were his last words, we were permitted to understand. He seemed to be sleeping sweetly through the night; and he passed away calmly, like one to quiet rest.
This will add another to the many desolate family […] another group of sorrow stricken hearts will deep wails of anguish arise.
Two others Lewis Sprague of Schroon and —- Granel of Glen's Falls, are numbered with the dead, yet they went not into the grave unhonored or unwept.
The friends of Lieut. Cunningham will be much pleased to know that he has entirely recovered from a serious illness. Some of “our boys” are quite unwell yet, but […] they will, without exception, soon recover. Those who are unfit to proceed with the regiment will remain here until they are unable to rejoin it.
Time will not allow a more extended communication, but in due time our friends shall be informed the welfare of the regiment and its destined post. Respectfully, signed
B. A. BRAMAN.
The Elizabethtown Post, November 6, 1862
The 118th Regiment of N. Y . Volunteers has moved its camp from St. Dennis, Maryland, to the vicinity of Chain Bridge. It is uncertain whether the Regiment will be further advanced for the present.
We presume the safest way to direct letters &c., is simply to Washington giving the Regiment and Company.