This letter was written during the US Civil War by Hiram A. Chambers of the 15th Regiment Massachusetts, Company C, out of Worcester. He wrote it home to his family. The letter was dated September 12, 1861. I was given permission to document these letters by my dear friend Jane Richardson. Hiram was Jane’s great-uncle.
Here is the full transcript of this letter:
Poolville Md Sept 12.
It is with pleasure that I take the present opertunity [sic] of writing to you we have returned to camp after enjoying the pleasure of being on picket duty eleven days. I was glad to get back so as to get my writing matirials [sic] so that I can write to you and the rest of the folks. We are stationed here in Gen Stone’s brigade to protect the code of ovservation which is right in our camp at most it is a very important point indeed as it commands a view of the whole country round about for some twenty or twenty five miles. You are requested not to tell any body about this for it is against orders to write anything about the movements of troops or where they are staitioned [sic]
to send the letter to you and we cannot get a chance to go out to camp for anything at all are come down here to stay two days the next day they sent us rations for five days more and so they have keep us along to day they have sent me two days more rations. The regiment is under marching orders and very likely we shall stay here till they march are are situationed between the Chesapeak [sic] and Ohio canal and the Potomac river the strip of land is about 50 or 75 foot aside the river is 400 or 500 yards wide on the other side is stationed the Rebel picket they say they have had orders not to fire on us orders are open on them so we talk back and forth that are kind of shy of each other and keep a good look out.
I am just getting over one of those comfortable things called Boiles
o they are pretty things of course this was the bigest one [sic] I believe that I have had without it was that one of my knee it was right on the cord of my leg in the fat part so that it drained my leg as that up and I looked as tho it I had one short leg the Capt is very kind he told me not to do anything till it got perfectly well he has far different from what Father thought he would a better and kinder man never was seen than he has been since we have been here. We are getting lazy as old hogs we don’t have anything to do at all through the day only lay round, eat, read, and do as we are a want to we have been 3 and 4 miles some days to see the country it is a splendid country flowers that are have to try very hard to get them to grow spring elfs and grow in the fields here and
blosom [sic] most splendidly here.
We have made one capture since we have been it is a very fine looking neagroboy [sic] naimed [sic] Tom Fouryard he is 21 years old and cost his master $1000 the folks round here say he would bobly (?) a good times now $1500 so you can see he is quite a prise his mater is a scout and courier in the rebel army. His naime (sic) is Belt. Yesterday we had six cannon come down a little ways from here and begin to throw you some bombs over towards Leasbury (?) which is two miles and a half from Arie (?) there is 2.000 more stationed there at their heart is that notorious rebel Johnson. Tuesday night 23.000 of our men crossed the chain bridge and next into Virginia very likely you have heard that circus (?) here before this. I have written one letter to Worcester and I suppose you have heard of it by this time. I wish you would write
to Grandmother Zadock (?) and Julia and tell them that I shall write as soon as I get where I can convienantantly [sic] besides not being any conveniences there is no paper which I can get at present
I hope we shall get through here soon so that I can get my paper for when I was not doing anything else I might be writing. Good bye my love to all you again and up a great quantity of it for yourselfs. Father now do write and send some newspapers to your loving Son Hiram. Picket Guard Sept 6th.
I hope you will excuse me because I have not written to you before or at least not sent a letter before for I have got a letter written set to camp which will take you a good while to read at least I left one there 8 days ago. It covers over 10 pages it is pretty fine writing to we have been in Poolesville but 2 days when we had ordered to get ready to go out 5 miles on picket guard in the hurry I forgot
and we the Minnesota (?) regiment and the Bull Dogs (15th Regt Mass V) are round whilst we were on picket one of the seccesionist picket came over and took dinner with some of our boys and they had quite a time he belonged to the Mississippia Tigers (?) 13th Reg. He was at the Bull Run fight and said we had them whipped twice nicely only for the cowardly actions of our troops he says they have been in servace [sic] 4 months and not received a cent yet and if they do not receive their pay by the middle of this month they shall start for home it seems by report in the Washington papers that they have aperently [sic] smashed their guns and started for home by I think this is doubtful for they were at the river Monday night. Mother writes that she is in going to Youth Reading (?) I hope she will enjoy herself and she says she does not receive any letters from me. I do not see the reason of it for this is the sixth one that I have written and it is only 5.
W book sends his respects to you.
Sadly, Hiram was killed at Antietam on September 17th, 1862. He was only 19. At the time, the 15th Regiment had about 600 men – 104 were killed and 206 wounded on this one day.
I have about 20 letters total and will load them up as I have time. Ask with any questions.
Here is the full playlist of the Civil War letters I have loaded so far: